For our conversion we chose to have Big Bird in China directed by Quentin Tarantino. We thought the juxtaposition of a children's film with the grittiness of Tarantino’s style would be both interesting and comical. Quentin Tarantino has a very distinct style, but unlike Wes Anderson, it can be diverse and used differently across many genres. It is hard to pinpoint but you can always tell what is a Tarantino film. Looking closely, many of his films involve long takes, dialogue driven scenes, intense violence, and suspense. Goriness seems to be the end goal of many Tarantino scenes and the suspense acts as the journey there. Tarantino is also very character focused, he takes from the Western film ideal where the characters are larger than life or have extremely unique elements to their persona. In terms of writing, Tarantino uses a lot of dark comedy and multiple storylines. The storylines tend to combine and conflict and reach a large finale. In terms of cinematography, Tarantino uses a lot of long takes, shots of feet, 360 degree shots, and trunk shots. When looking at Tarantino’s films, his core influences come from spaghetti westerns and samurai films. He tends to enjoy intense cultural influence and vibrant camera movements.We incorporated Tarantino's style into our storyboard in a number of ways. We took Big Bird In China, an innocent children’s movie, and transformed it into a dark comedy with a lot of influences from the western genre. In our take of the movie, Big Bird and his dog friend Barkley are two grizzled characters going to meet the Monkey King in a restaurant, and have a confrontation that breaks out into a violent fight scene. This takes influence from two of Tarantino’s most popular films, Inglorious Bastards, and Kill Bill, both of which are full of scenes that include high tension confrontations with villainous characters, which always breaks out into an extremely destructive and violent fight scene. It’s not a Tarantino film if isn’t full of blood and gore. We also included a number of cinematic techniques that Tarantino uses very often. There are multiple two-shots, which are shots that include two characters in the frame, there is a trunk shot which is a type of shot included in almost every one of his films. High and low angle shots are used a lot to show which characters have power in a scene, which we use in a comedic manner between Big Bird and Barkley. Lastly, the final shot of the scene is a blood splatter wiping across the screen, coming from the Mexican standoff happening between all the characters in the scene.
My goals for this paper were to make a piece that explores the difficulties of making art in the modern day. I wanted to take a look at how the internet and online trends have combatted with honesty surrounding what people make whether it be music, visual art, or any other creative medium. My process was slow, this was the most difficult advanced essay by far. Reviewing my work was hard and I feel like this is the closest I could have come to a final product I would enjoy.
Being both a self titled creative and shy person, I struggled for a long time to gain the confidence to share my work. The raw face to face exchange that takes place when showing someone something you have created is difficult to say the least, there is a reaction that you can gage almost instantaneously from this viewer simply through their overt emotional reaction.
I then became familiar with the internet, this vast expansive web of connection. It had loomed in my periphery, it was this mysterious complicated minefield of social standards and I made a distinct decision to avoid it. Although, for the past two years I have begun making music and I have found the internet to be a place to share it without the awkward societal exchanges that follow. This blanketing effect made it wonderfully simple for me to place my musical pursuits online, leaving my friends and strangers to peruse my work. Whereas I gained the positive side to this, there are also many people who receive hurtful and negative reactions to their work. This facade of the internet also allows people to say whatever they want without the actual threat of physical violence. An online presence involving creative pursuits have both negative and positive effects on the quality of the world.
My experiences have been solely positive on the internet. My music and art have registered fans who tend to be mostly my friends and family. But the growing use of social media in everyday life is both oversaturating these music platforms but also giving these creative people the fame and love they deserve, it divides the good artists from the bad solely based on honesty. This quote an article relating to American’s relationships with the internet from The Atlantic sums up this expansive quality of the internet perfectly: “Americans are followers: Nearly half of all Americans are now members of at least one social network, double the proportion of just two years ago.” This massive shift in human interaction has opened the world to an innumerable amount of creators who just keep coming, making the ability to stand out extremely difficult.
There are definitely negative experiences though, the internet has made this veneer of numbness that is slowly filling major sections of it. Art is extremely personal, and many times placing it on a social media platform feels vulnerable. People take this vulnerability and place nasty comments upon it for personal pleasure, the pursuit of a power complex. I have a personal example of this, a friend of a friend who attends this high school is a poet. They delivered a poem alongside a fellow student crafting a conversation between them and their future white son, going in depth about how this boy will be placed in a position where they are not allowed to feel bad for themselves. This poem was recorded and uploaded to Youtube. This being an uncomfortable subject a few people on the internet bashed it because they disagreed with the poem, then the negativity began to pick up steam and these children were being torn apart based on their physical appearances and the way they held themselves. This of course began to pull away from the few opinionated issues that followed this piece and became a conformist bully party, allowing people to attack these two peers of mine with intense superficial insults that led to these students needing support.
The internet provides the most raw gateway to human interaction, raw but isolated and removed. This honesty brings up questions about how art is dissected and viewed online, people are who they are and they place that for millions to see. Then other people who are also being genuine, will be brutally honest with no regards for feelings. I find this criticism is much worse than it would be in real life, the lack of human connection is robotic and alien. It stimulates this sense of destructive mystery, not knowing tone or context. I am a person terrified by people not liking what I make. I find real life interaction in this regard to be frightening, the idea of the internet seemed like this foreign sanctuary where I could express myself but I found it to be much worse. I need to know how people feel by sharing my music to the people I am closest to, the people I know on a deeper level who will tell me if my art or music is good or not. I find this person to person connection will forever trump the plasticity and falseness that follows the internet.
Jackson, Nicholas. "Infographic: The American Identity According to Social Media."The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2017.
This essay explores the way teaching one's self music can change your worldview. I explore how influences and lack of proper musical training can provide the world with a deeper and more mysterious meaning.
The gray smog sat like a wiry wool blanket over my block. Filling the spaces between duplexes with a thick dampness. The fog gagged the open air, it bit at the wood beams and expanded door frames and made the house feel slow and cold. I was lying in my room, with my back against the floor. My socks were soaked from the walk and were leaving ghostly streaks along my water damaged wall. My finger reversed the tape, the black plastic whirred between the teeth of side A until a light click signalled the end of the rewind. I slid the worn headset over my ears, the faux leather snug against my head, and hit the yellowed plastic play key.
Music has been perpetually present throughout my childhood, a silent buzz beneath the heavy breath of life. Equivalent to the hum of an A.C. unit or the hiss of a radiator. I have distinct memories of sitting in ACME parking lots with my father listening to metal or punk. He would blare The Police and blow curling smoke out of the window. I would sit strapped into my booster seat singing, “Rock Sand!” Along to the song. As the years past and as I grew too large for booster seats and too cool for Sting lyrics, I began to notice the intricacies beneath music.
My father had played guitar since age fourteen, so there was always a cheap acoustic in the corner of the room. It was equivalent to a lamp or a framed photograph. It wasn’t until my freshmen year of high school (when I started listening to The Smiths and The Dirty Projectors) that I began to notice the instrumentation and not just the feeling of each song. I picked up the dusty guitar and taught myself to play. This quote from Superman and Me perfectly speaks to this situation, “I can remember picking up my father’s books before I could read. The words themselves were mostly foreign, but I still remember the exact moment when I first understood, with a sudden clarity, the purpose of a paragraph.” (2) In this quotation it is clear that instead of reading literacy I am exploring the literacy of music which I adopted from my father.
As time progressed the idea of songwriting became more prevalent in my mind. I quickly moved away from learning songs, once I understood basic chords I found variations and places on the frets that held a sourness or brightness that provided more character to songs. I took the mathematical side of music and explored it through a natural lense, the musical theory became instinct and/or logic. I was nowhere close to understanding the instrument fully but I was beginning to grow acquainted. I began using my unique knowledge to write these bedroom compositions, which quickly began to alter my world view. I began hearing music in a different light, like I was watching the stage play from behind the curtain. Sounds and melodies would erupt from the streets, everything began to influence me. From my IPod’s playlist to the car alarm that kept me up until two in the morning. This language of music was clawing itself out of me, rubbing calluses into my hands and painting my eyes purple with sleep deprivation.
There was a single night where I played the same original piece tirelessly, plucking each note and assigning moods and characteristics to each portion of the song. There was an itch, a tingling urgency to immortalise what I had made. I found myself in my basement digging through mildewy boxes of polaroids and 2008 check receipts and removed my father’s old four track. It was a Tascam with a single blank tape in its deck. I entered my room and began to record, the milky crunch of the dusty plastic made my heart flutter and my will grow. When I ultimately reached a sense of finality the sun had risen. My bones were sore and my hands were damp, and I had to walk to shake my nervousness.When I returned, I placed the worn faux leather headphones on my ears and pressed play. The detail of my poorly produced and composed tape altered all ideals of my person. The meaningless of deadlines and work became apparent, the world grew in the warmer shades of a watercolor painting, and my need to conceive new sounds consumed all of my thoughts and actions. Music is form of literacy like reading or writing that holds a great deal of importance, it transcends language and worldview. It holds a primal emotional pull to all people, based off of life experiences and the nurture of biasness.
This essay was an writing experienced I enjoyed, the freedom and lack of creative boundaries made the process interesting and introspective. The goals of this paper were to find a deeper meaning in the roots of my brother’s adoption, there are a lot of family dynamic issues I am currently struggling with and I thought if I explored areas of our past I could try to understand and solve them. I also really wanted to practice recounting memories and using interesting descriptive language to paint a picture for the audience. I am really proud of some of my imagery and the structure of my piece, this step by step story style is one I enjoy writing in. It is like a film where the character is learning the same information at the same time as the viewer. Some areas of improvement are my more personal parts, the analytical side felt a little thin in earlier drafts and I want to work exploring this emotional side of me in my writing. I tend to feel a lot of things but I find it hard to solidify them into words on a page.
I was an only child for five years. I do not have a lot of memories from this time, but I do remember the moment I was first introduced to my younger brother. My mother entered our living room, while I was toying with the velcro on my shoes as I watched an endless television marathon of PBS kids. She was holding scraps of paperwork in her arms, her hair was awry with a few strands reaching towards our ceiling. She pulled herself down to my level and extended her right hand, a polaroid sat before me with a picture of a small hispanic baby. He sat in a makeshift tub made from a red plastic bucket, he was in a concrete room with a small window behind him revealing a guatemalan sky, the stars were brighter there.
“Who’s that baby?” I asked, sucking on the collar of my shirt. “He’s your baby brother.” My mother replied, a distinct gleam of joy in her tired eyes.
The following weeks consisted of me being a bystander to the adoption process. My parents sat up all night at the dining room table, papers in heaps around them, covering every square inch of our ikea catalog furniture. I lay on our on the splintery floorboards and observing my father rub his sunburned neck as he read document after document. I watched as he flipped a cigarette between his fingers and tried to count the number of furrows in his brow. At school I would sit on the rusted climber with my group of friends swinging my legs and speaking about how even if he wasn’t born from where I was born he was still my brother. One of the boys said,
“That’s messed up. That’s like calling your dog your mom.”
I then replied, “but Bradley, isn’t your mom your dog?” We didn’t speak for the rest of elementary school. There was this air of aggression and confusion that followed adoption, many people assume it has to do with conception issues and would often grow uncomfortable at this implication. There was a strange confidence I held throughout though, I knew he was my brother even before I met him. It didn’t matter that I was only five, I felt a kinship with this boy. I probably received this strength from my parents who wanted to adopt since they married. They spent all their lives researching and finding the most effective means of raising an adopted child, the found the Guatemalan adoption system the easiest to maneuver and then they found the boy in the polaroid.
After a year or so, my parents began traveling across the world to visit the boy. I stayed with the neighbors and their son. I slept next to his dirty basketball gear and ate clam chowder every night for two weeks. I would call my parents on their landline every other night and ask about Guatemala and what the planes were like, but I could only speak for five minutes because it cost too much money. Every time the kitchen timer would signal the end of the call I would panic and cry.
Finally, after a month since parents returned I was able to travel back with my mother to bring the boy back to our home. I wore my favorite wool hat, with a plastic spiderman logo stitched onto the front. I would run my tiny fingers over it as I gaped at the towering glass walls of the airport terminal. I remember gripping onto the elastic waistband of my Target jeans to stop them falling as we sprinted to catch our flight. The plane was cramped with many people yelling in Spanish, as my mother checked her watch and bopped her knee I sat calmly watching us leave the ground from the window. My mother smiled at me as she placed a Kodak film cartridge in my father’s Super 8 camera and proceeded to film me silhouetted by the passing clouds.
We left the airport. This was my first experience away from the first world, I had only seen a life of duplexes and skyscrapers and was unprepared for the aesthetic of an impoverished nation. There were slums lining the craggy road made of tin roofing and dried mud, the nicer homes were cinderblock shelters housing families of eight or twelve. I saw pregnant thirteen year olds and old men dusted with red dirt, you could see streaks of clear cheek paved by tears of irritation. I was filled with a sadness and guilt that followed these images, I felt scared and bad because of it. I had never seen such living conditions, but I am glad I have so I can appreciate the present.
After an hours drive we entered the city known as Antigua. My mother filmed with my father’s camera, she captured grainy images of thousand year old architecture painted with stone colored pigeons. She captured young children in bright handmade clothes silently dancing to the ticks and flaws of the film strip.
We then entered the apartment of the boy’s caretaker. The caretaker’s name was Hilda and she had golden teeth, she was the tallest woman I had ever seen because her knees reached my spiderman hat. She picked the boy from his crib and handed him to my mother, then we walked from the doors and boarded the next flight back to Philadelphia. As we sat in the blue leather seats of the American Airline’s plane, I stroked the bridge of his coffee nose and leaving in the middle of the guatemalan night. And when I looked into Toby’s shimmering eyes I realized the stars were brighter there.
Adoption is a choice a family makes, it brings many feelings into one’s household. Toby is a proud member of our family but there have been times where others have felt strongly against his relation to us, even he has struggled with his grasp of heritage. Personally, I will love Toby until I pass because he is my brother. I have watched him switch from velcro to lases, I have seen him sled for the first time using a trashcan lid, and I have seem him dance to Ray Charles in pajamas and my father’s suit jacket. I know that our family is unconventional, but it is a family nonetheless.
My piece is a flyer about the Sculptor Edmonia Lewis. It is set in the time of reconstruction and speaks about her history, impact, and artwork. The one portion of the flyer I wanted to focus on was my highlighting of keywords, I imagined these to be popular negative or positive phrases of the time and wanted to add emphasis. I did this by making them a certain color and putting them on bold them. As I previously mentioned, I would assume they would use this style in the news flyers of the period, highlighting and making the key words bold to catch the reader's eye. This is important because I wanted to attain a form of accuracy when making this flyer, and this style interested me the most, it seemed very practical and looked appealing. The second portion I wanted to highlight about the visuals has to do with the face beneath the text, you can clearly see eyes and a mouth. These few features are meant to represent Edmonia Lewis in a very minimalist and simplistic way, I was looking for something that looked of the era but was slightly modern. I feel like the mixture of old fashioned word organization and the more modern style of interpretive imagery would draw the reader in even more. I thought it mattered to include Edmonia’s facial features as a visual because I wanted her personality to be welcome in the flyer, not just her information. I wanted there to be a personal connection with this Abolitionist Artist of the reconstruction era, she was a large influence for many people and affected the art world and that time period in a very big way. Edmonia Lewis impacted African American history`by inputting her artistic work into a key moment in history, one of the most influential parts of African American change in America and she was on the forefront of the art world. She has influenced not just sculptors but several African American artists of all generations.
LINK TO FLYER: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1PU3BGFjhywzz8uFVxdCoZ5hDgsbfTjz9oeGSsk5yKc8/edit
LINK TO RESEARCH: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Da3YElsvtxMfNSEk2hSqhHgALX3xRVjlIttQFVW94yY/edit