Final Project: Personal Portfolio

I designed this personal portfolio as a way for potential employers to learn more about me and what I can offer to their company or organization as an intern or future employee. When designing this site I tried to strike a balance between a professional appearance that is work appropriate and the creative side of my personality and the profession that I hope to pursue. Click on the image below and take some time to check out my site and get to know me better!

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Where will we go from Here?

As the semester comes to a close, long study days, late night cramming sessions, and cumulative finals are about to make a very unwelcome appearance on Furman’s campus. While Aristotle and Plato, the history of the media, and theories of ethics will be long gone from my brain this Christmas break, I leave Digital Communications with a new tool set that is essential not only to navigate through the digital world but also the digital immersed lives that we live as well.

Over the semester,  I’ve come to recognize that the our digitally dominated world is both a blessing and a curse, and there are greater things to be concerned with than whether  “Google is making us stupid.” I leave the class with a pressing question that is impossible to answer with absolute certainty:

Where will we go from here?

In Open Sky, Paul Virilio discusses technological reductionism and transplantation revolution, two concepts that have the potential to drastically change life as we know it.

According to Virilio, less has become more in our society. There is a constant push to shrink technology to its smallest forms. We have gone from the two pound brick of a cell phone to iPhones that function more like computers than cell phones. Laptops have replaced computers and now iPads are replacing laptops as the new must-have gadget. How small can we go? What happens if we reduce technology to its spatial limits?

The miniaturization of technology has made the transplantation revolution a reality. Virilio discusses how stimulators, pacemakers, and “micromoters” can replace faulty organs, thus creating humans whose threads of life are tied to technology. Certainly these types of advancements can have tremendous benefits, yet the question of how far we will go remains a concern.

It may only be a matter of time before cell phones are no longer held in our hands but implanted in our teeth

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While it may seem outlandish that we are on the verge of becoming a society that communicates through our teeth, technology plays a significant role in our lives that was nonexistent before the Digital Age. Pumps manage the blood sugar levels of diabetics and patients no longer rely solely on the dexterity of their doctors’ hands to perform surgery as robotic surgeries have become commonplace. What risks and benefits are associated with the transplantation revolution? 

The technological advancements of our society today are merely a sneak preview of what the future might hold.

 

Redefining “space” in a digital world

“The blue sky above us is the optical layer of the atmosphere, the gret lens of the terrestrial glove, is brilliant retina. From the ultra-marine, beyond the sea, to the ultra-sky, the horizon divides opacity from transparancy. It is just one small step from earth-matter to space-light – a leap or a take-off able to free us for a moment from gravity”— Paul Virilio, Open Sky

If you head is spinning, you’re not the only one. As I began reading Open Sky, I was convinced I purchased the wrong book. After all, how does “learning to fly” and “swimming in ether” have anything to do with digital communication?

According to Virilio, “Everything is being turned on its head,” so I did my best to connect Virilio’s abstract ideas to the media and quickly discovered that I do have the right book after all and Virilio certainly has some interesting points to make.

Virilio talks about how geographic space has been redefined. Digital media plays a big role in redefining geographic space. Communication is no longer dependent upon where you are physically situated or who you are with. We send emails, host chat forums, and Skype with people across the globe. Virilio describes this notion as “being telepresent” or being “here and elsewhere, at the same time, in this so-called ‘real time.’”

What are the pros and cons of this redefined geographic space that digital media creates? How does being “telepresent” impact relationships?

Editing Newscasts

From storyboarding to shooting to editing, film productions require an immense amount of planning. The person behind the camera and the actors must seamlessly relay a story to the audience and avoid choppy transitions and awkward arrangements. Whew, now that is a challenge!

As I read “Visual Storytelling,” I could not help but sympathize with news reporters. Video producers are given adequate time to thoroughly prepare a video production. Producers follow a detailed storyboard and actors repeat scenes multiple times to ensure everything is perfectly in place. However, reporters must report live from the scene of an event with minimal preparation, yet the public expects the same seamless transitions of prerecorded video content. An awkward comment taken out of context can instantly make a reporter the laughing stock of YouTube. A choppy transition or disconnection between the reporter and person filming the newscast can quickly discredit even the most reputable sources.

In the heat of the moment, even common recording techniques such as the use of b-roll can become challenging as seen in the following clip where Piers Morgan interviews Erin Burnett during Hurricane Sandy:

Piers Morgan interviews Erin Burnett live from Battery Park

Clearly, Erin was not aware that the cameraman was panning to a shot of a well-lit building while she reporting on the “completely dark part of lower Manhattan.” Even Piers Morgan felt the need to interject and cover up the blunder.

Can you recall another instance where a news clip botched other editing techniques such as continuity, shot relationships, or transitions? What steps can reporters take to create error free newscasts?

Field Forces and the Screen

Films take an immense amount of planning from the script to the actors and the filming. After reading The Two Dimensional Field: Forces Within the Screen, I realized just how much planning every scene and each shot requires. Nothing can be overlooked. Small factors such as the tilt and orientation of the camera and position of the object play a huge role in relying the meaning of a particular scene as well as the film as a whole.

In this short trailer for The Amazing Spider Man, some of the following six field forces are evident: main directions, magnetism of the frame and attraction of mass, asymmetry of the frame, figure and ground, psychological closure, and vectors.

The clip oscillates between vertical and horizontal arrangements. The camera pans horizontally, giving a view of New York City’s skyscrapers. The camera switches to a vertical arrangement as Spiderman swings from the tops of skyscrapers. The movie experiments with twisting and turning the camera to create disorder as Spiderman swings from one building top to the next. This creates a dizzying sensation that jostles even the strongest stomachs of moviegoers.

Throughout the trailer, the camera zooms and focuses on the subject to distinguish it from the background. This directs the viewer’s eyes to the main subject and prevents losing it in a sea of chaos that occurs in action movies such as Spiderman.

The camera men were aware of the magnetism of the frame when shooting close up images of subjects faces. For instance, at 1:39 the camera shoots a close up of Peter Parker’s face. How would this image change if the entire face of the subject were shown? Blacking out portions of Peter’s face prevents the subject from overpowering the entire screen.

Can you identify any other field forces at play in the trailer? Do you see a connection between force fields and particular movie genres (ex: action vs romantic comedy)?

Designing an Experience

“While everything, technically, is an experience of some sort, there is something important and special to many experiences that make them worth discussing, In particular, the elements that contribute to superior experiences are knowable and reproducible, which makes the designable”—Nathan Shedroff, Experience Design

These types of experiences are not only knowable and reproducible but also memorable. We have the types of experiences Shedroff describes both inside and outside of digital world. The concept of Experience Design applies to website design and interactive media that engage viewers. Yet, walking into a store is no different than visiting a home page of a website. Online and offline, a superior experience is one that requires an attraction, engagement, and a conclusion. How does a website attract and engage viewers?

Just as a digital media rely on different components of design to attract and engage viewers, it is no different for places and things outside the digital realm. Shedroff’s theory of experience as an attraction, engagement, and conclusion is applicable to the stores and business that I included in Greenville’s Buried Treasures.

How does a store or businesses utilize the three components of Experience Design?

To answer this question, let’s look at the fitness studio Pure Barre.

Attraction

The attraction is what initates an experience by signaling the senses on a cognitive, visual, or auditory levels. Pure Barre attracts viewers with its clean, sleek design. Take one look through the window at Pure Barre, and you will see that this modern studio is not your average fitness facility. The design of the studio is enticing and is what brings people through the doors for an engaging experience.

Engagement

According to Shendroff, “The engagement is the experience itself. It needs to be sufficiently different than the surrounding environment of the experience to hold the attention of the experience, as well as cognitively important (or relevant) enough for someone to continue the experience.” If people are not engaged by an experience, they will not come back. Different is the key word in Shendroff’s quote. Pure Barre’s unique class structure is l what keeps people engaged and committed to paying a hefty price of $23 per class. After all, there are not many fitness centers that swap treadmills and weight rooms for a ballet bar and 3lb weights.

Conclusion

What’s in it for me? People need a resolution for an experience to be fulfilling. This is what brings an experience full circle. People will not come back to Pure Barre or pay $225 per month if they do not believe they are achieving a more toned and fit body by participating in classes.

Creating Meaning: Images and Language

A slice of cake, a fitness ball, and a chic boutique. If you were to view Buried Treasures of Greenville without reading the text from my previous post, or sitting in on my class presentation, you may be left wondering:

What is it?

As discussed in Anders Fagerjord’s Multimodal Polyphony, anchorage provides the answer to this central question. The images of my slide show are dependent on narration. How would you interpret the meaning of the images without the use of language to advance the narrative? Anchoring the images with language gives the slide show greater meaning and coherence. Fagerjord’s description of the relationship between language and images is applicable to my slide show: “Since the language is coherent, the images less so, the resulting appearance to the reader is that the language orders the images, which are there to illustrate and embellish the story.”

However, when singling out particular images, it becomes more difficult to discern whether the narration anchors the image or whether the image illustrates the narration. When the meaning of an image relies more heavily on the image in and of itself rather than the language, it is considered an illustration.

The first image of Urban Threads needs an answer to the question, “what is it?” Does the second image rely on narration to anchor the image, or does it illustrate the narration?

Once the audience learns about Urban Threads, the second picture reiterates, or illustrates a previous point by giving the audience a view of the inside of the store. The meaning of the second image carries greater weight than the meaning that language employs.

The relationship between images and language is interdependent in a multimedia presentation and it is difficult to value one over the other. How did you see this relationship playing out in your slideshow? Does the meaning of your slideshow depend more on the images or the language?