28 Minutes Later

What happens when 100 people have 28 minutes to make a movie? Here’s a pretty good answer:

We shot the video and audio for this movie in Red Burn’s Applications class on Tuesday. We really only had 28 minutes to record! I played the voice on the phone telling Mario that he has gonorrhea.

Thanks to Alex Kauffmann, Adam Lassy, Si Youn, JeeHyun Moon, Jonathan Nachum, Nathan Roth, Caroline Brown, and Brian Carey Chung for organizing everything.

Jump (The Bailout Bash)

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Elizabeth and I teamed up again to work on our audio pieces for Comm Lab this week.  Although we did record audio from the streets of NY together for last week’s assignment, we decided not to use any of it and instead decided to choose a pressing socio-political theme of the current economic “crisis.”  I took photos and recorded audio from an anti-bailout protest on Wall Street last month.  We were particularly attracted to some snippets from a speech given by the charismatic looking gentleman pictured above.  We also used samples of other protesters chanting slogans, and put everything over a beat that I composed.  In some amazing coincidence, almost all of our samples fit over the beats at 109 BPM.  Only one sample of chanting protesters had to be slightly stretched in Audacity to fit the tempo.

Download the MP3 or the AIFF.

The danceable audio anger that resulted from our musical collaborations reminds me a little bit of the Muppets doing N.W.A. And for further musical explorations relating to pigs, I suggest NIN’s Piggy and March of the Pigs.

Elizabeth describes more of our process in her blog:

We used several applications to make the piece. We cut up the audio in Fission, a commercial software for simple cutting. It is really usable. The beats were composed in iDrum…. We used Audacity to change the length of some of the audio pieces so that they all had the same beat. Then we assembled the song in Garage Band.

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Stop the Clash ’08 – Stop the Obsession

I was part of the brainstorming, implementation and localization team of the original Stop the Clash video in 2007, when I worked at Avaaz.org.

ICM Midterm: Portrait of Mao

UPDATE 22 Feb 2009:
I have written a new concise description of the Portrait of Mao:

The Portrait of Mao is a 42 inch by 42 inch color print on archival paper. The image was generated by a Processing sketch I wrote, which reads pixel color data from an image file and replaces each pixel with a text character with the same color as the original pixel. In the case of the Portrait of Mao, the source image was obtained from a Cultural Revolution-era LP cover of revolutionary songs featuring Chinese leader Mao Zedong and a bright, motley array of proletarian workers, representing different ethnic groups in China. My Processing sketch used this source image and replaced the pixels with the Chinese-language text of The Little Red Book AKA Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong, a required text for every Chinese citizen during the Cultural Revolution.

In creating the Portrait, I wished to explore how text and images play a role in political propaganda and how they serve to construct a cult of personality around a paternal and pop-cultural icon. We know that words and images have persuasive and seductive powers, but how, and why? In reappropriating the propagandistic images and text and by depicting the controversial leader in an irreverently kitsch, Pop-Art way (Andy Warhol’s Mao paintings are an obvious point of reference), I sought to deconstruct the aura surrounding such a well-known figure who is still revered by millions in China.

The fusing of words and images also plays on the pictographic and ideographic nature of the graphemes used in the Chinese language. Chinese characters are simultaneously words, images, and symbols. In the Portrait of Mao they become both semantic and graphic building blocks of a text, an image, and an ideology.

Original blog post from 29 Oct 2008:

I presented my ICM midterm project yesterday.  I wanted to explore how text and images play a role in political propaganda and how they serve to construct a cult of personality.

The image above is just a scaled-down version, the real version is a 42 inch x 42 inch poster.  The poster consists of a text mosaic derived from a scan of a Cultural Revolution era LP cover of propaganda songs.  My Processing program reads the color information in the pixels of the source JPG and replaces it with characters from the Chinese version of The Little Red Book.

Here is a close up of the text mosaic, taken from the Technicolor Dream Coat guy on the bottom right.

I hope to one day present the poster in an over-the-top kitsch setting.  I want to frame it with red Christmas lights and build a “shrine” to the Chairman, with flowers and Tsing Dao beer bottles.  I also have another poster in the works featuring the Dear Leader composed out of the Korean-language text of his On the Juche Idea.  Ultimately, I want to create a triptych, but I haven’t decided on a third subject yet.  Uncle Ho?  Or maybe Grandpa Marx?

Here is a snapshot of me presenting the piece to my class.  Photo credit: Catherine White.

Audio Sketch 1: Subway, Streets & Stars

Today in Comm Lab, we covered how to edit audio using Audacity and GarageBand, both of which I have worked with before, but it was good to get a review. This week’s assignment is to create a 2 minute audio piece using audio we recorded or found sounds.

Besides the soundtrack to Herbivores, I haven’t done much music lately. Especially since the last time Hepnova made music together was almost a year and a half ago. Later this week, I’m scheduled to work with Elizabeth, who I worked with earlier on the Herbivores animation, but I just couldn’t wait to get back into making music again, so I just went ahead and composed my own piece today. I will still make another track with Elizabeth later this week.

This track is called Subway, Streets & Stars. It is composed of recordings I made in the subway and streets of New York City as well as an audio sample of stars (the ones in space, not the ones in Hollywood) from the BBC. I used Fission to chop up samples, iDrum to create rhythmic loops, and GarageBand for putting everything together.

Click here for the uncompressed AIFF version.