In The Mind of a Musician

At age three, i realized my intense passion for a melody. My breath continuously got stolen away by the gentle strumming of my father playing guitar. The classical sounds that echoed throughout my house sent me into a tizzy; giving me a safe haven to dream in. It was by the age of eight, after the horrific day known as 9/11, that I learned how expressing my thoughts through music meant so much more than any other activity I’d previously participated in.

Pencil to paper, fingers to frets, pick to steel; I didn’t know the impact these little motions would have on my entire being. I began crafting melodies in my head. The sound of a guitar radiated through each ear without any instrument even being played. I quickly delved into an array of dark topics as a songwriter, ranging from depression to anorexia, from a bitter divorce to the dangers of drunk driving. Each lyric I write has always been arranged in such a way to provoke thought in the listener.

More than 500 songs later, here I am. I am 21 years old, on the cusp of a regional winter tour, and working to change the face of the music industry. I hold onto each of my guitars with pride, with the full intention of continuing to create work that everyone can find a small piece of themselves in. Even if it’s just a single line. There’s something very valuable in having the ability to captivate an audience through the words you string together.

This collection of photos replicates what a looking glass would show you of my songwriting process. frustration, celebration, exhaustion. My cheeks get flushed red as I pour myself into every single second of a writing session, and I detach a piece of my heart to stick in the middle of each song. It’s therapeutic, but the final product is so much more than just a three minute representation of my emotions. This is merely but a glance into my creative and musical mind, but I hope that these photos give you an idea of how this process has given me the ultimate outlet to submerge myself in.

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Style.

After a lot of thought, my photo essay will attempt to highlight the differences in students’ personal styles. I’ve always taken my individual style very seriously (probably too serious at times), because it’s an interesting way to express yourself and show some creativity. Here at college, I always hear people saying that they’ll just ‘bum it’ to class, and I’ve even overheard conversations about some students ‘dressing up’ for an 8 AM and how ridiculous it is. Are we supposed to not care about how we present ourselves? Does nobody have any pride anymore in being unique and owning their individuality? I want to show that personal style is a golden opportunity to reflect your personality, and also that the possibilities with this really are endless.

Subject-wise, I know that I am definitely going to use students here at Rowan. I was originally going to highlight only female personal style, but now I’m beginning to think that I should use male subjects as well. Men aren’t usually as into this topic as much as females, but they would add a fresh perspective. If I decide to use just female subjects, that would kind of generalize things a bit, but it also would give the assignment a stronger direction.

I want these images to contain a lot of color, because that will ensure that the style of my subjects’ is accurately portrayed. If I was to make the images black and white, that would take away from a huge part of their personal style. Color has to be matched and coordinated, so it’s extremely important to take note of that in the images. They won’t have any kind of old-time effects or any graininess on them. They will be both clear and accurate. This will compliment both my subjects and the point of the photo essay, because the images will show exactly what the subjects look like in real life. Any effect would take that away and change the entire point of the photo essay.

For this, I’m going to use my iPhone camera. I have a digital camera, but the reason why I want to use my iPhone is simple. This is literally going to just be about the person’s style and capturing it in a photo. There’s no need for anything fancy, there won’t be any tricks. This is simple, it’s straightforward. One snap and that’s it. With an iPhone camera, that’s all it is. I can just focus directly on my subject. This technology reflects my subject by both being straightforward and unique. While the iPhone is a complex piece of technology, it’s always been perceived as groundbreaking because of how different it is from other phones. This will help reflect how my subjects’ styles are different from other people.

#tumblredits

This blog post was inspired by Alexis’ tweet to Stephanie:

When I saw this picture, I laughed. A) Because the screen cap of Cinderella looks exactly like the face I saw at least 20 people make today. and B) because the side quote is an accurate representation of how I’m sure 99% of the students on campus are feeling this week. The interesting thing about this though is that it’s a different kind of  photograph compared to the other ones I’ve seen under the #wrtf14 and #wrtuesdays hashtags. We know that nobody pointed their iPhone camera or Canon at this and snapped it on their way home from class. Somebody had to sit and take the time to do a few different things to put this together. They had to first come up with the idea, then find a screen cap or print screen it directly, and lastly add text on top of it. Photos like this (edits) come as an entirely different category of images, and essentially anyone can do whatever they like to create different kinds of edits.

I was introduced to Tumblr during my freshman year here at Rowan, and I bring this up because it’s when I first really noticed the use of photo editing with text. People on this site were taking song lyrics, quotes from TV shows and movies, lines from books; and with these, they pasted the quote onto a previously-existing photo to create a new image. I found myself completely captivated by these, because each edit shot across a different emotion, a different message. There were so many blogs dedicated to these edits, some with a theme (which kind of relates to the photo essay assignment), and I’d just sit in bed for hours scrolling through each one.

Why is this kind of image so intriguing?

1. I think it injects life into a photo that has already been seen. You can easily take a simple photo, add text to it, and then have a new perspective on it. The quote chosen can be of any emotion, from any source. It can be something you write. It can be from your favorite song. It can even be something humorous, like the picture that Alexis tweeted to Stephanie. Text pretty much makes it a new photo, so you have the chance to feel like you’re viewing something new for the very first time.

2. It gives the opportunity for users to be creative. There’s font, font placement, colors, effects. The user behind the computer screen has the power to utilize all of these tools and make whatever changes they want. They can creatively choose if they want to include a weathered border or if the font should be on the top or bottom of the picture. It’s up to them, and because of this, the possibilities for an edit are endless. You could give a person the same starting photograph and they can interpret it in two completely different ways. One might have a happy quote from a book in white script across the middle of the photo, while another might have a darker song lyric in a grey tone hovering over the top.

After thinking about this a little more, I wonder if professional photographers are annoyed at all with this type of image. They are constantly working to adjust settings, learn about lighting, and dedicating their time to take the perfect photograph. Now, because of sites like Tumblr and with the different editing tools we have, anyone can make changes to their image. Copyright laws aside, I’m curious to know what photographers think about outside editing. I’m not a photographer, but I don’t know if I’d feel flattered or annoyed. Flattered because someone enjoyed my photo enough to use it for their edit, or annoyed because they’re making changes something I captured after spending much time on little details. It’s a double-edged sword, really.

I think the whole thing with editing is that there will always be people who don’t approve of it, but on the other end of the spectrum, there are people who view it as a great hobby. No matter the opinion, I believe that we’ll continue seeing edited images as long as sites like Tumblr, Flickr, WeHeartIt exist. What do you think about edited images? Do a quick Google search if you’re unsure. Type in ‘tumblr quote pictures,’ scroll through, and see what you think. You may be surprised at how some of these edits inspire you.

https://www.google.com/search?q=tumblr+quote+pictures&client=firefox-a&hs=EyB&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=sb&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=UxluVIXeEOXasASxw4CYDw&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ

Where Do You Sleep?

This blog post is inspired by the photo essay we began to discuss last week in class, “Where Children Sleep” by James Mollison. Here is the photo essay: http://jamesmollison.com/books/where-children-sleep/jaime-9-new-york-usa/

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Different countries. Different aged children. Completely different living environments. I viewed this photo essay with a dropped jaw, shocked at the differences. That word kept repeating in my head over and over again as each photo went by. Why were these photos so shocking? Why did I feel close to tears as the photo essay continued? I racked my brain for the answers as an adorable, anonymous 4 year old boy from Rome flashed across the computer screen. Viewing this is challenging, and in this post I set out to provoke thought on exactly why it is challenging.

Where did we all grow up? Personally, I was fortunate enough to spend my childhood in a central Jersey suburban neighborhood, inside a cozy, two-floor house. Not everyone gets that opportunity, despite the area they live in. St. Louis or the Hamptons. Camden or SoHo. It’s not about location necessarily, but more about your overall environment. Family, income, education. All of these things factor into our growth as humans. Broken families or married parents? Low income or upper class? There are many questions that can go into this discussion. The anonymous boy from Rome is a prime example. Rome is absolutely stunning; we see photos of it in history books, in Facebook photos of people who have studied abroad there. We see the lovely architecture and the buildings that have been standing for hundreds of years. What we don’t take notice of is the lower side of it all; this little boy’s mattress is not amongst the upper tiers of the beautiful city. That’s why this is challenging to me. We don’t pay attention to what’s not directly in front of us.

There are children with fancy rooms, such as Tristan from New York, whose room is covered wall to wall in toys. Then directly after him, there’s Roathy, who’s photographed clinging on to what appears to be a bag of trash. How do things like this challenge your thinking? I’m sitting here toggling back and forth between these two photos, noticing the placement of them in the photo essay, and also trying to piece together what their background may be. I think that Mollison most likely took placement and order into huge consideration when ultimately putting this all together. To put such a large amount of juxtaposition between photos adds a certain shock value; it heightens the perspective and overall conveys the message quicker by showing that there is a huge difference.

One thing I noticed throughout this series is the fact that there is the option of choice. Some, not all, of these students have the choice on how to arrange, decorate, and enhance their room. There is a bedroom designed to replicate and reflect the child’s love for football, and the photo shown to the left of it is the child in his football uniform. Seeing that he’s passionate about the sport, it’s easy to conclude that he wanted his bedroom to reflect this, so this personal space of his is both enjoyable and personal. Then you can look at the photo directly following that one, and it’s a malnourished-looking child and where he sleeps; in a hut-like unlit room with nearly just a bed. I doubt that this child chose to live this way and wants to have this kind of living space. Kids are creative, they’re outgoing and fun-loving. They want to express themselves in any way that they possibly can in order to both have fun and put in their opinion on something. This is another reason why I find this photo essay challenging to view. Knowing that some of these children don’t have the choice. They don’t have any other option. Whatever they were born into, they didn’t choose it. I chose to have my room green. I picked to put my bed in a particular corner and I decided to hang up a special piece of Giants memorabilia on the opposite wall. But how come I ended up being fortunate enough to have these options and not some of these kids? How come some of them could decide and the others couldn’t? That is why this is challenging to get through.

So where did you sleep? Where do you sleep now? Do you have options, and can you make choices? I hope this provokes some thought, because I know it did for me.

Rolling With The Punches – Final Mashup Video + Reflections

Mashup video:

First reflection:

In junior high, I discovered the art of Windows Movie Maker and quickly began chopping up self-made videos to create my own mash-ups. At 14, I put together a music video with homemade clips of me singing, dancing, and jumping around like a lunatic to a Miley Cyrus parody, and it was then that I learned the power of a mashup video. This little amount of previous experience most definitely aided me in this project, as I remembered how important the clip sequences, background music, and use of variety are.

When we started this project, I was excited to get back to those little junior high school roots of mine to create a more mature and though-provoking piece. I chose the topic of domestic violence in the NFL because I’ve grown up around the league, learning more about football every day through my father. The past few months, an alarming situation involving Ravens’ running back Ray Rice rose concern within the league over how domestic violence situations should be handled. This intrigued me, because the game of football is rather violent, and it seemed to be carrying over into the homes of many players.

Working with digital video and researching to find a bunch of different pieces to pull from was a sad experience for me, due to my choice in topic. As I watched different PSAs, real-life domestic violence clips, and speeches from different NFL insiders, I noticed that watching the abuse unfold right in front of me was completely different than hearing about it. The videos made me sick to my stomach.

As I started the editing process and figuring out which clips to include and rearrange, I took note on how working with these clips related to traditional writing: it gave me almost the exact same feeling. Making this mashup video had me both emotionally invested and interested in finding out even more about this topic. Whenever I’m physically writing, whether it be for a school assignment or personal reasons, I always find it extremely important to make sure that I’m intrigued by the topic I’m discussing. If there’s no interest there, the reader won’t be able to stir up any interest either. To me, writing is all about pouring yourself out onto the page and expanding your thoughts on something that pulls out strong emotion in you. From the minute I began rearranging the clips I chose, I wanted to continue expanding the idea; I wanted to convey my thoughts on how detrimental domestic violence has become within the NFL.

Another relation that mashups have to traditional writing is that both work to convey a message to the reader or viewer. With this mashup video, I set out to physically show viewers how domestic violence among the NFL is not something that should be overlooked. I wanted to provide physical evidence to show exactly how dangerous this issue has become for everyone involved. When I’m writing, it is always my goal to let my reader know my standpoint on what I’m talking about and to get them to agree with me, while also understanding my view. Although mashups and traditional writing seem to be on two different ends of the spectrum, the end goal of each seems to be the same. Both will typically contain content with a convincing message for you to decipher and learn more about.

At first, if I’m being completely honest, I had a hard time understanding how creating a mashup video related to writing. Now that my project is finished, I can see clearly how I was viewing the assignment with tunnel vision, only thinking about traditional writing instead of the new technological advances that we have.

Second Reflection:

The message of my mashup video is simple: domestic violence within the NFL is consistently involving into a bigger and bigger issue. I immediately jumped into a rhetorical move at the start of my video, by opening with the original footage of Ray Rice punching his wife. Choosing that as the initial clip to begin my video with was a big effort to quickly convince the viewers that this issue shouldn’t be overlooked, and also to open up my argument and message.

The use of a vintage video clip proved to be extremely difficult, as I had a rough time trying to decide what clip to use. There weren’t any direct videos display domestic violence, so that forced me to dig a bit deeper and look for a metaphor I could use. Keeping that in mind, I found an old vintage razor commercial, and that sparked a subtle idea in me. I cut up the video and kept the parts showing the actual razor, and used this as a metaphor for safety. People use razors on the daily, and while they are sharp, they’re not meant to cause harm. In the NFL, the players are engaging in a very physical and violent game, but it’s not intended to carry over into their personal lives. I believe it’s a very important metaphor to understand, because this game was not created to intentionally inflict pain on any loved ones, or anyone for that matter, off the field. This is an example of a semiotic theory I included, as metaphors “are often at their most interesting when they link something familiar to something unfamiliar,” (Hall 53).

Any edits and cuts I made were purely for the intention of trying to highlight all different areas of this issue. There’s the actual footage of domestic violence in real time, different analysts’ reactions, multiple PSAs, and also some examples of elevated anger in the players, caused by the game. I didn’t want to have any clips that were too long, because I wanted the opportunity to include a bunch of different footage to show multiple aspects of this topic. The cuts that I view as most important were those of anger displayed by the players. Those particular clips, including that of Richard Sherman, show how this game works up the players to the point of losing control. This was another rhetorical move I incorporated, to provoke thought on what could be causing these players to resort to domestic violence.

I incorporated multiple other semiotic theories into my mashup video, as well. The first one is the use of symbolism, with the Ray Rice video, to demonstrate the issue at hand. With the footage, Ray Rice symbolizes domestic violence in the NFL as a whole, as he seems to be the most talked about player regarding this situation. Another theory I used is irony, also with the Ray Rice video and a clip of his wife during a press conference. He knocked her out cold, yet she chose to fully support him throughout all aspects of the media, which is ironic because despite the fact that he hurt her, she still stands by his side 100%. Although this highlights key components of abuse, it still represents irony in the long run. In our textbook, author Hall states that “sentiment is right when it comes to representation” (Hall 68), and while this is true with the Rice videos, it also proves true in the various PSAs that I included. These PSAs all show the subjects displaying intense amounts of emotion and feeling, ranging from fear to complete sadness. They are being represented in a certain light to show how domestic violence directly affects them, and this makes the intended sentiment justified; a justified mixture of emotions. The last one that I paid a lot of attention to with this video was appearance and reality, which is a main reason why I wanted to include clips featuring fights and anger. Hall discusses how “perspective cannot be a substitute for the measurement of the objects that we see in space,” (Hall 80). With the clips of the players fighting and Richard Sherman’s rant, we are able to actually see the measurement of how violent and aggressive this game can make a player.

Richard Edwards and Chuck Tryon open a joint article by stating that “video mashups are part of a growing online remix culture, and typically fall under the designation of user–generated content,” and this is completely true (Edwards & Tryon 1). Editing these clips and putting them together has the power to truly create an intense and eye-opening visual. They talk about how we are becoming more ‘media literate,’ and it really is important to understand these technological advances as they begin to dominant the way we write. This mashup video hopefully sheds a bit of light on this dangerous issue and represents different semiotic theories to convey a message.

 

Rolling With The Punches – Mashup Storyboard

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Here is the storyboard for the first 28 seconds of my mashup video (roughly). My idea is centralized around the issue of increasing domestic violence within the NFL. The audio track that will be used is “Love The Way You Lie (Part II)” by Rihanna feat. Eminem. This is a breakdown of each clip:

Clip 1/2: These clips are of former Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice punching his wife in an elevator, knocking her out cold. It’s about seven seconds long, and is being used to show the reality of how dangerous this growing issue is. This clip really means that the players in the league are not following the minimal amount of rules they have, and not many standards are being set to counter these horrible actions.

Clip 3: This is from a domestic violence PSA I found, and shows a young woman sitting on the floor around kitchen furniture that has been flipped on it’s side. The four second long clip will be used to show the overall outcome of how domestic violence affects the victims. There is juxtaposition between clips 1/2 and this one. In the first two, Ray Rice’s wife is shown as fearless (not backing down), while this clip shows a woman who is extremely scared, which is a huge contrast.

Clip 4: This is a repeat of the Ray Rice punch, but it’s in slow motion. I wanted to repeat in it slo-mo to emphasize the total effect, and it means that this kind of abuse doesn’t just move the victim; it also impacts the viewer. It’s four seconds in length, and shows the opposite juxtaposition that occurred between clips 1/2 and 3. From 3 to 4, it is now showing a scared young woman to a fearless wife.

Clip 5: It gets a little different here. This will be a short four second clip of a massive amount of smoke surrounding a launching rocketship. I wanted to use this as a metaphor for things getting worse (things ‘blew up,’ things ‘explode’ when they get bad). The meaning behind it is that this issue keeps getting worse and we keep hearing stories in the news about more NFL players getting in trouble for domestic violence. Instead of actually showing the issue with another real-life clip, I wanted to try and find something that could represent the situation instead.

Clip 6: This has a similar meaning to the clip before. It’s a second clip of a new blade being inserted into a razor. The two second vintage clip is used as a metaphor to represent false safety in the NFL. The commissioners act as if they think it’s an important and serious issue, but there’s no action being taken to prevent domestic violence from occurring. Razors are supposed to be safe to use, but you can still end up getting severely cut on one. It’s an important representation of how ‘safety’ in the NFL does not yet really exist in regards to domestic violence.

Clip 7: My final clip is of a former NFL wife speaking in a video conference with a news program. This will be five seconds long and be used to show how D.V. affects other people besides the player’s ‘punishment.’ It affects a multitude of people, but the victim will always be the #1 person who is negatively impacted.

Rolling With The Punches

Within the past few months in particular, domestic violence within the National Football League has been overwhelming. After the Ray Rice situation (punching his wife and dragging her out of an elevator), it seemed as if multiple different events came to light. Many people have been scolding the league for it’s lack of discipline, and while these events are being investigated, it still seems as if this issue has been elevated.

For my mashup, I’d love to explore this issue and expand on some research through the use of different videos. I’d like to paint a picture displaying how intense this issue is and just how much these players are displaying domestic violence and abuse. What gives them the right? Why are they so aggressive and violent to their loved ones? Does the game of football have an impact on this? In order to show different scenarios, I am interested in using the actual Ray Rice elevator footage if possible, which is both brutal and sickening to watch. It will truly show how real this issue is in the NFL. As for the music, I’m not sure what song I play on using yet. I want something that’s heavy, to reflect the emotion and feeling surrounding this heart-wrenching topic.

The NFL does not seem to show much concern over this issue, and I’m hoping that this mashup video will highlight how important it is to take this seriously. Millions of people look up to these football players, and they are getting paid big bucks to play this game. The least they could do is maintain a good reputation and be respectful human beings if they are receiving this much money. My assignment will draw light to this and highlight key scenarios surrounding domestic violence and professional football.