Your Project IDEAS


Hi everyone,

Please use the comment section of this blog post to add two project ideas for a semester long media project of a social issue that affects campus before class on monday. This way we can all see what everyone’s interests are to work towards creating groups around topics.   Also add one idea for connecting a media project to the larger college community.


‘The Medium is the Massage in the 21st Century’

When reading selected passages from Marshall McLuhan’s seminal 1967 work, I was prompted to draw a number of striking comparisons between the media landscape in McLuhan’s day and that of the 21st century. In an analysis of renaissance landscape art, McLuhan makes a fascinating comparison between vanishing points in painted works and the opaque, hierarchical nature of past media. Rather than a series of static pieces in which everything must remain “…in its piazza,” McLuhan suggests that electric informational media will permanently open up a window to an inherently chaotic communicative world (53). Despite McLuhan’s prediction, the ways in which community media have historically been co-opted by corporate funding seem to suggest a different course. This encounter—one that can be summarized as the corrupting forces of privatization and capital—is exemplified by the gradual loss of radicalism in both University Community Videos and Top Value TV due to network success.

Beyond a seemingly falsifiable prediction about the coming democratization of new media, McLuhan’s “global village” model seems outmoded with the power of retrospect (63). Here, the author visualizes a modernized society whose political and social cultures are defined by a ubiquitous stream of communication. To illustrate the anachronistic nature of communicative technologies in centuries past, McLuhan cites the inability of George Washington to reach political allies in London instantaneously, meaning that he was unable to receive advice from thinkers who weren’t living within a short physical radius of him. My personal interpretation of social media developments in the past decade—in which social networking corporations actively fine-tune algorithms to create news feeds that comfort users and give them more of what they want to see— makes me question the open-world nature that McLuhan suggests is afforded by new media. Rather than platforms that promote an uninhibited exchange of bold new ideas ideas, many social media sites placate users by restricting their access to information that confirms their existing interests and beliefs.

Count to six

Get ready for six-second ads on cable tv.

Chris Burden’s commercials offer a glimpse of how commercial media could have been without advertisers buying all the slots for their products.   I think he was exploring a new medium before it was taken by big business.  Commercials are what make tv.  They provide sources of revenue for tv stations and tv stations try to have the most viewed programs to increase the price of a commercial.  This all might change very soon.  The NFL is going to offer six-second ad slots instead of the 15-30 second slot.  They are trying to follow in the footsteps of several social media platforms that use the six-second ad, because they have an active audience during the first 5.4 seconds of the ad.  The article says that broadcasters hope that it will shorten the commercial break, but they plan on using more ads interspersed in the content.  They might lower the length of the commercial but that leaves the consumer open to a higher volume of advertisements at a rapid rate.

The medium is the massage

Marshall McLuhan’s book The Medium Is the Massage is a captivating read. Its airy format makes it digestible for the read at first sight, but of course is messages are more advanced than that on a deeper level. The excerpt that I found the most interesting comes from pages 18-19. Its text says the following:

“There is a world of difference between the modern home environment of integrated electric information and the classroom. Today’s television child is attuned to up-to-the-minute “adult” news—inflation, rioting, war, taxes, crime, bathing beauties —and is bewildered when he enters the nineteenth-century environment that still characterizes the educational establishment where information is scarce but ordered and structured by fragmented, classified patterns, subjects, and schedules. It is naturally an environment much like any factory set-up with its inventories and assembly lines. The “child” was an invention of the seventeenth century; he did not exist in, say, Shakespeare’s day. He had, up until that time, been merged in the adult world and there was nothing that could be called childhood in our sense. Today’s child is growing up absurd, because he lives in two worlds, and neither of them inclines him to grow up. Growing up—that is our new work, and it is total. Mere instruction will not suffice.”

This look on education is very relevant to the ever-growing media range of the modern society.  There still seems to be a clash between the technologies in children’s everyday life, and the analog school system. Of course, as technology advances, it also gets more, and more incorporated into the school system. However, I believe that the technologies that children use in their free time, will always be some steps ahead of the ones from school. To some extent, this can seem to leave the children in some sort of limbo, where the technology they use in their free time is far superior than what they learn in school. Why should then a child pay attention to someone talking about techniques far less powerful than the one that they themselves control? The education system has to be aware so that it does not get to far behind the technology that is present in the students own private life.

Third cinema

The Hour of the Furnaces screening, from 1968, left a heavy impact on me. The movie strives to showcase the oppression of the middle class in Argentina, and does so successfully. In some ways, Hour of the Furnaces reminds me of A Man with a Movie Camera. Both movies get their point across in the form of video content, but without any real structure to the narrative. This opens for the possibility that some of the audiences has trouble following the message of the content.

However, in these sorts of movies, when a scene is well executed, it can stay with the audience for a very long time. That was the case for me, I relation to the cow slaughtering scene. Even though beef, and leather is two of Argentina’s big exports, it does not reduce the horrific nature of the clips in the slaughterhouse. With cheerful music playing in the background, the actions just seemed even more grotesque, and appalled. I believe that the symbolism that was used was the cows portrayed the Argentine people. Those visuals, as horrible as they may have been, are nonetheless effective. It is hard, as an audience member, not to be affected by scenes with that kind of rawness to them.

Week 4. Patiris, Iraq Campaign

Phil Patiris short movie Iraq Campaign, was a very clever, and effective way of showcasing the American media coverage of the Gulf War. The accuracy in the messages, connetected to the commercials, news clips, and movie scenes, into which they were cut, was very, very impressive.

I believe that the most effectful way to get ones message across, is to make it visible for the audience. Patiris did so by showcasing the paradoxes between the message that were mediated to the public, and the real impact of the war. By incorporating satire, and humor, he managed to create a piece that is just as informative as it is entertaining. That is most likely another key to get the message to stick with the audience. If he only were to stack facts on fact, in an unentertaining way, there would be no way that the audience would have either the patience or interest to embrace what he was trying to mediate. That is a huge factor when dealing with activism, and social change, in all kinds of different forms. How does one make the intended audience listen to ones message? As mentioned, Patiris used satire, and humor, a choice he most likely does not regret!

Week 3, Vertov

During my media studies in Sweden, I have watched “A Man With a Movie Camera”  before. However, this time I did so from a different perspective. The first time I saw it, my teacher told us to focus on the storyline that was presented. The incredible fact that Vertov managed to capture a citys daily routine all in one screening. It was not really the message that he was trying to mediate that was in focus, rather the execution.

This time, what fascinated me was the parallels that could be drawn from “all seeing eye” inte the movie, to todays social media. Today, a city is always under the surveillance of different kinds of cameras. Whether it be through surveillance cameras, or the camera of peoples cellphones, actions of different kinds are most oftenly recorded or viewed in some sort of way. In many ways, Vertov comes a cross as a visionary. The demystifying of the camera man, is also a very modern action. The ever so popular YouTube medium, is a platform where the videomakers often flaunt their own production process. Even though it should be noticed that this is often done in pursuit of the feeling of autencity, it is still fascinating that Vertov did this almost 90 years ago.

All in all, the movie is a hypnotical piece of art, and it is easily understood why it has stood the test of time. i find it hard to think of any other movies that has aged as well as “A Man With a Movie Camera”.

Leftist presence on large social media platforms

I thought that our reading from Hello Tiger and the clips of Paper Tiger were interesting in their discussion of how “capitalism seeks to commodify everything, to co-opt the trends that imperil it, and to render threats harmless” (4). This was similar to Getino and Solana’s discussion of the idea of the “second cinema film-maker” who is “trapped inside the fortress,” in which oppressive systems seek to assimilate media in order to suit its needs. Through understanding this perspective and the process of the commodification of culture, I would be interested in exploring the best way to use media platforms to fight these systems, even when elements of capitalism are already built into the foundation of these media platforms.

[Image description: Facebook message bubbles containing “do not enter” symbols.]

For example, Facebook makes essentially all of its revenue from advertising, but has been used by communities to create leftist spaces, where moderators are able to enforce their own guidelines and membership. Are these communities negatively harmed by the fact that Facebook is incentivized by having them as users? Also, is there a better alternative or is it impossible for leftist community-building online to be completely unusable by capitalism? I understand that it is difficult for Facebook to control the ideas that flow in private groups, but once these ideas leave the private spaces to turn into public action where anti-racist individuals are able to make radical changes to existing structures, we see Facebook’s labeling of these ideas as “hate speech.”

Additionally, if anti-racist communities manage to leave Facebook or other large social media platforms for a hypothetical alternative method of communication and organization that cannot be co-opted by capitalism, the influence of the oppressive ideas within Facebook and therefore mainstream culture gains more influence in the absence of anti-racism. So, the continuation of leftist presence within already-commodified media seems like a necessary evil.

From WEEK 7: Early Video Art Collectives – Media Affect

Gun Control on College Campuses

Cocks Not Glocks


Their wrap numbers/statistics 

Harvard revoking admission

For incoming college students, the social media stakes are high

Harvard Rescinds Acceptance for At Least Ten Students for Obscene Memes

Report: Harvard revokes student admission offers over online comments

The links listed are glimpse of how students need to be careful of what they are saying on social media platforms. Harvard decision to revoke admission of these students bring up controversy of the freedom of speech and up holding a zero tolerance for racism among the campus community.

Project links

Fair And Lovely Facewash: