Carlos Valladares’s Video Essay “Minnelli Red” at Pesaro Film Festival

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Congratulations to Carlos Valladares, who not only graduated with honors from the Stanford Film & Media Studies program this past weekend, but whose video essay “Minnelli Red” was accepted at the Pesaro Film Festival taking place right now in Pesaro, Italy!

Valladares’s video essay, a revised version of his final project for the seminar I taught on “The Video Essay: Writing with Video about Film and Media” last fall, is one of five entries selected by curators Chiara Grizzaffi and Andrea Minuz in the festival’s “(Re)Edit Competition” and is now in the running for a juried award. Good luck, Carlos!

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The complete catalog (PDF) for the 54th Pesaro Film Festival is available here:

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Let’s Make a Monster — Exhibition at Shriram Center for Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering

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Works from the course “Let’s Make a Monster: Critical Making,” which I co-taught this quarter with my art practice colleague Paul DeMarinis, are currently on display in the Shriram Center for Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. The show, which officially opened today, is up through Friday, June 8.

We are particularly excited to take this work across campus and show it in the context of a space devoted to cutting-edge engineering work, where we hope that it provokes thought and discussion about the transformations of technology, experience, and life itself taking place in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. Thanks especially to Prof. Drew Endy for his help in facilitating and making this show possible.

Here are just a few glimpses of the work on display.

Nora Wheat, Social Monstrosity (2018)

Hieu Minh Pham, The Knot (2018)

Raphael Palefsky-Smith, Brick (2018) — more info here

David Zimmerman, Eigenromans I-III (2018)

Jennifer Xilo, Mirror for Our Upturned Palms (2018)

Jackie Langelier, Creepers (2018)

Slowness and Slow Cinema

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My student Spencer Slovic has just published an excellent video essay on “Slowness and Slow Cinema” at Film Matters, which will be of interest to people thinking about contemporary and world cinema, or simply interested in the medium of the video essay (and this is a very good one!).

Spencer’s video grew out of an assignment for my “Post-Cinema” seminar, which I taught in the winter quarter of 2017. An earlier version was featured in the exhibition I curated at Stanford, Post-Cinema: Videographic Explorations (you can still see all of the videos online).

In any case, the version featured in Film Matters is much improved, having gone through a rigorous peer-review process. Take a look!

Matthew Wilson Smith: The Nostalgia of VR

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On Tuesday, May 15th, we’ll have our fourth and final Digital Aesthetics Workshop of the Spring quarter, “The Nostalgia of Virtual Reality” with Matthew Wilson Smith, at 4 PM in the Stanford Humanities Center Board Room. In this workshop, we will discuss the degree to which emergent technologies of virtual reality are indebted to longstanding concepts of presence and disembodied consciousness.

Matthew Wilson Smith is an Associate Professor of German Studies and Theatre and Performance Studies at Stanford University. His  interests include modern theatre; modernism and media; and relations between technology, science, and the arts. His book The Nervous Stage: 19th-century Neuroscience and the Birth of Modern Theatre explores historical intersections between the performing arts and the neurological sciences and traces the construction of a “neural subject” over the course of the nineteenth century. It was published by Oxford University Press in 2017. His previous book, The Total Work of Art: From Bayreuth to Cyberspace (Routledge, 2007), presents a history and theory of modern artistic synthesis, placing such diverse figures as Wagner, Moholy-Nagy, Brecht, Riefenstahl, Disney, Warhol, and contemporary cyber-artists within a genealogy of totalizing performance.

Syllabus: Let’s Make a Monster! Critical Making (Stanford, Spring 2018)

Somehow I forgot to post the syllabus for “Let’s Make A Monster! Critical Making,” which Paul DeMarinis and I are currently teaching as a hybrid Film & Media Studies and Art Practice class in the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford. The main focus of the course, as the title indicates, is the production of monsters in a variety of media and informed by reading literary, philosophical, and other critical texts on making and monstrosity. Students have been making some truly astounding work, and I look forward to being able to present some of it later in the quarter. We will be organizing an exhibition of works on campus, and I will post images here.

New Review of Post-Cinema in Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft 18 (2018)

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There is a new review of several works on all things post-cinematic, including Post-Cinema: Theorizing 21st-Century Film (which I co-edited with Julia Leyda), alongside Francesco Casetti’s The Lumière Galaxy; Malte Hagener, Vinzenz Hediger, and Alena Strohmaier’s edited collection The State of Post-Cinema; Vinzenz Hediger and Miriam de Rosa’s special issue Post-What? Post-When?; and Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky’s Queeres Post-Cinema.

The review, in German, is titled “Werden/Weiter/Denken: Rekapitulation eines Post-Cinema Diskurses” (roughly: Becoming/Further/Thinking — suggesting a thinking in flux and a thinking beyond — Recapitulation of a Post-Cinema Discourse). The text, by Elisa Linseisen from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, appears in Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft 18 (2018). The full text is available as an open-access PDF.

Visualizing Digital Seriality — Demo Videos

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The short videos below (all under 1 minute in length) demonstrate the interactive components included in “Visualizing Digital Seriality, Or: All Your Mods Are Belong to Us!”—a digital humanities/critical code studies project utilizing visualization and other software tools to study exchanges of code and community-building in the Super Mario Bros. modding scene—published in Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy 22.1 (August 2017): http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/22.1/topoi/denson/index.html

The videos, which use IBM Watson’s text-to-speech generator for voiceovers, were produced just in case any of the interactive functions ever stop working, but they also serve to show what you can do with my webtext (as Kairos refers to this type of multimodal scholarship).

1 – Mods & Interfaces

This page allows users to filter and sort the title screens of 240 Super Mario Bros. mods, all taken from ROMhacking.net’s database. Sorting and filtering can be done by year, by modder, and by mod name, as well as through a quick search via text input. Dropdown lists appear when the mouse hovers over “Year,” “Modder,” or “Title,” allowing the user to select parameters by checking the relevant boxes. Sorting can be done with the buttons below: “Sort by Date,” “Sort by Modder,” or “Sort by Mod Title.”

http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/22.1/topoi/denson/screens-page/index.html

2 – Basic Metadata

This page offers visualizations of basic metadata derived from ROMhacking.net’s collection of Super Mario Bros. mods. The interactive visualizations contain basic information on the number of mods released each year, the most active modders, and trends concerning the types of mods being produced. Additional information appears when the mouse hovers over the charts.

http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/22.1/topoi/denson/visualizations/basic-metadata.html

3 – Modder Networks (default view)

This interactive network graph visualizes the social networks among modders, as revealed in paratextual references in files distributed with mods (i.e. “shout-outs” in README.TXT and similar accompanying files). This is the default view. Each node represents an individual modder, while edges (lines) represent connections between modders. The user can change the visual style and layout via the dropdown menus on the left, as well as zoom in and out with the mouse wheel and rearrange nodes by holding and dragging them. Scrolling is achieved by holding and dragging the background.

http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/22.1/topoi/denson/visualizations/community.html

4 – Modder Networks (concentric view)

This interactive network graph visualizes the social networks among modders, as revealed in paratextual references in files distributed with mods (i.e. “shout-outs” in README.TXT and similar accompanying files). This is a concentrically arranged view. Each node represents an individual modder, while edges (lines) represent connections between modders. The user can change the visual style and layout via the dropdown menus on the left, as well as zoom in and out with the mouse wheel and rearrange nodes by holding and dragging them. Scrolling is achieved by holding and dragging the background.

http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/22.1/topoi/denson/visualizations/community.html

5 – Modder Networks (weighted)

This interactive network graph visualizes the social networks among modders, as revealed in paratextual references in files distributed with mods (i.e. “shout-outs” in README.TXT and similar accompanying files). Each node represents an individual modder, while edges (lines) represent connections between modders. In this view, node size corresponds to the number of references it has received (the more paratextual references, the larger the node). The user can change the visual style and layout via the dropdown menus on the left, as well as zoom in and out with the mouse wheel and rearrange nodes by holding and dragging them. Scrolling is achieved by holding and dragging the background.

http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/22.1/topoi/denson/visualizations/community.html

6 – Modding Communities

This interactive network graph visualizes connections between modders and various online modding communities, as revealed in paratextual references in files distributed with mods (i.e. references to various online communities and modding websites). In the default view, white nodes represent various mod files, while solid red nodes represent communities and websites referenced by them. The user can change the visual style and layout via the dropdown menus on the left, as well as zoom in and out with the mouse wheel and rearrange nodes by holding and dragging them. Scrolling is achieved by holding and dragging the background.

http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/22.1/topoi/denson/visualizations/community.html

7 – Extent of Modification

The visualization on this page offers information about the extent of modification that a given mod patch file instructs the computer to execute with respect to the original Super Mario Bros. ROM. The visualization provides basic numerical information about the amount of change contained in a mod or set of mods. It can be sorted and filtered by modder, mod, or by a range of particular byte addresses with the sliders and checkboxes on the right. The results, displayed on the left, can be sorted by title, year, or modder.

http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/22.1/topoi/denson/visualizations/extent.html

8 – Code “Diff”-Maps (Sorted by Date)

These visualizations offer the core means of conducting a “distant reading” of the code of all 240 Super Mario Bros. mods contained in the data set. Sorted here by date, these Gannt charts depict the location of byte-level modifications in the game ROM. The chart can be filtered by modder, mod title, and year via the checkboxes on the upper right, or by a range of particular byte addresses via the “Start” slider at the bottom right. The results, displayed on the left, can be sorted by date, modder, or title.

http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/22.1/topoi/denson/visualizations/diff-maps-by-date.html

9 – Code “Diff”-Maps (Sorted by Modder)

These visualizations offer the core means of conducting a “distant reading” of the code of all 240 Super Mario Bros. mods contained in the data set. Sorted here by modder, these Gannt charts depict the location of byte-level modifications in the game ROM. The chart can be filtered by modder, mod title, and year via the checkboxes on the upper right, or by a range of particular byte addresses via the “Start” slider at the bottom right. The results, displayed on the left, can be sorted by modder, date, or title.

http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/22.1/topoi/denson/visualizations/diff-maps-by-modder.html

10 – Diff Compare Mods (Patched ROMs)

This page enables low-level analysis of mod files, accessed here through a browser-based hex editor. To use the tool, the user selects two files (from the complete collection of patched ROMs, as well as the original unpatched ROM) from the dropdown menus below and clicks the button “Choose Files.” Afterwards, the hex code and ASCII representation of the patched ROM files will appear in the two boxes, with the differences between them highlighted. Scrolling is synchronized between the files displayed in the left and right boxes.

http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/22.1/topoi/denson/hexdump-diff/hexdump-diff.html

11 – Diff Compare Patch Files (Unpatched .ips Files)

This page enables low-level analysis of mod files, accessed here through a browser-based hex editor. To use the tool, the user selects two files (from the complete collection of unpatched .ips format patch files) from the dropdown menus below and clicks the button “Choose Files.” Afterwards, the hex code and ASCII representation of the patch files will appear in the two boxes, with the differences between them highlighted. Scrolling is synchronized between the files displayed in the left and right boxes.

http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/22.1/topoi/denson/hexdump-diff/ips-hexdump-diff.html