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Monday, January 21, 2013

Class Time Again!

Okay, it's time for another special topics course for spring semester. This time, however, instead of a visual communication course, we are focusing on the evolution of media industries, specifically looking at the role of convergent media from a critical perspective. My students will be posting journal entries at several points during the year (see their blog links in the blog list to the right) so check out their thoughts.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Visual Persuasion Class

Next Wednesday, we start a new term, and I get the pleasure of teaching another class on Visual Persuasion (recently renamed). I have added a new page on this blog (see above) where I will post questions to which students will need to respond. I am anxious to read their insights as every time I teach, I learn something new myself!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Joys of Albums

Ok. This is decidedly off topic for me, but I rediscovered a joy today that has been lost in our day of iPod Shuffles. Quite simply, it is the pleasure of listening to an entire album from beginning to end. Today, it was Pink Floyd's The Wall. There were so many songs I had forgotten and loved what seems like a long time ago. Ironically, when this album debuted in 1979, my junior year in high school, I hated the music. I really didn't listen to the entire album, or own it for that matter, until some time in college.

Maybe it's just nostalgia at work, but I still believe this album to be a masterpiece. At the time reviews were mixed and there was even some controversy, although I don't remember the details. More media effects scares if I remember correctly. Somehow our generation survived! It does require that you listen to it from beginning to end, and it's not a small undertaking given that it was a double album containing 26 separate songs in total. If you aren't familiar with the background, look it up and read.

Today's listening is the culmination of me beginning to rebuild my record collection. In college I had over 200 vinyl LPs plus cassettes. I still have all of those albums as well as a turntable, and as much as I like vinyl, there's something about being able to listen to The Wall from beginning to end without having to flip record sides. It's one continuous stream of music. I am certainly looking forward to finishing my dissertation and listening to more complete albums. It is a guilty pleasure that I will savor.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sick of LeBron

Sorry all of you Cav's fans, but I'm glad the LeBron thing is finally over. The media circus was absolutely over the top and unnecessary. Did he really deserve a full hour for this announcement? Earlier this evening, a talking head on ESPN proclaimed (extremely paraphrased) that one thing is for sure - the world will stop tonight at 9:00. Really??? My world didn't. I was enjoying ice cream at the Salty Dog cafe on Hilton Head island and didn't even think about it until my son turned on the TV back at our condo after 10:00. No offense, but who really cares? There are so many other things going on in this world that are more important than who ended up getting the supposed king. Quite honestly, the ridiculous amount of money these guys get has gone way too far. They're playing a sport - not saving the world.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fatherly Pride

Yes. I know. It's been a while. It is that busy time of the year with graduation and all sorts of activities to attend. Oh, and I'm still trying to be a good husband, father, and graduate student (although the last one has taken a back seat to the others recently!).

At any rate, two points of pride that are decidedly different topics from my usual. First-my son. Connor is 12 and already stands at around 5'9" to 5'10." He's going to be tall. The last few years he has grown 4 inches a year. If that rate continues, I will be looking up to a 13-year-old next year. Ouch! Connor eats and breathes baseball. He devours statistics and can tell you so much about various players on different teams. He loves to play as well. This year, he is coming into his own as a player as his batting and pitching skills have improved tremendously. His team's first game was last Monday and they won 11-0. He pitched two solid innings with a three and out both times. He also hit a solo shot home run that went a few feet over the fence. We've got the ball at home and will soon have it on display. It was just one of those cool moments in life that come every so often.

My daughter excels as well, but she is more artistic in nature. She loves to draw and paint. She has been in band, and absolutely loves singing. She is in Findlay High School's freshman choir as well as Voices in Perfection (VIP), which is the school's freshman show choir. This Friday is their big finale concert and she was selected to be one of the soloists. She is so pumped! Not only is she talented, but she is beautiful (imho). =)

I am so very proud of both of them. They have done well academically, athletically, and artistically. I never feel that I tell them often enough how I feel, so this is one manifestation of that. They will certainly be told in person as well. As frustrating as parenting is at times, the good outweighs the bad by a long shot. So here's to my kids! I am proud, and I love you both.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bob Peterson@ONU and the Process of Interpellation

Last night, I had the privilege of listening to Bob Peterson speak at ONU. For those of you not familiar with Bob, he is the writer and co-director of the movie Up, which just won numerous awards. He is also the voice of the dog Dug. Besides Up, Bob was involved in the movies Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Monster's Inc. Besides being an employee of Pixar, he is also an 1983 ONU grad in mechanical engineering.

For those of you who missed his presentation, you missed an opportunity of a lifetime. Not only is Bob one of the most engaging speakers I have ever heard, he is also quite personable, knowledgeable, and humble. It was simply an interesting presentation that took you through the process of creating a cg film. He also shared some of his voices, including Roz from Monster's Inc. and Dug the dog from Up.

Bob was also kind enough to stick around for autographs and pictures which he did for my wife and me (got an autographed copy of the movie!).

Part of what I want to touch on in this post was how Bob addressed the issue of making meaning through these cgi characters. One of the questions asked at the end of the presentation was about audience and whether Pixar tried to target certain segments of the market. Bob's answer was interesting in that he says that Pixar doesn't try to target audiences so much as tell a good story. In the end, the film ends up appealing to a number of people and each viewer takes away certain elements that touch them in some way. This is classic interpellation where the viewer feels a connection with the characters in a film (or images...) through a process of identification. For me, I particularly was affected by the opening sequence that traces Carl and Ellie's life from the moment of their first meeting to her death. I related to this sequence in quite an emotional way. Perhaps this is due to my realization of how fleeting life is and all the missed moments we have in our lives. I especially see this in my children, now teenagers, and wonder "Where did the time go?"

Images often speak to us in this way. One of my favorites is an image of an old man and a dog sitting on a bench (A larger version is displayed on my images page). We only see the back of the individual, which allows us to put our selves in his place. It gets me thinking about those quiet moments in life and this image captures one such moment amid the business of a day. I also like the way the photographer caught the layers of vertical lines - bench, fence, man, dog, trees, windows - that create a motif. In addition, I like the use of black and white, which simplifies the image and draws attention to these repeating elements. Take a look and see what you think. What images call to you?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Is Truth in the Eye of the Beholder?

For the first journal assignment, I asked students to look at a series of images to determine whether they were true or false. While reading one of the posts, I was intrigued by one of the responses. Here is what was stated:

"Truth" is in the eye of the beholder as far as perception of images go, so while I may see these pictures as "false," others may be firmly believe that they are "true."

I am still trying to decide whether or not I agree with what was said, and I probably won't know until we talk about it in class so I can find out a little more about what the student meant. Part of the issue may lie in the way I entitled the assignment - "True or False." In hindsight, I am not sure if it was the best choice of words. My aim was to have the students examine the images and based on the clues the image offered, decide if the image was real or if it had been faked. By using "True and False," perhaps I added a different layer of meaning in some unintended way. For instance, what may assumed to be truth may not be assumed to be real. I am quite impressed that this student picked up on the wording and thought of the assignment in a different way.

At this point, I am not going to further analyze the statement. After the class discussion, I'll continue this post.