Slowness and Slow Cinema

Screen Shot 2018-05-13 at 6.49.07 PM

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!

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Visualizing Digital Seriality — Demo Videos

2017-08-15 01.23.20 pm

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

Video: What is Monster? What is Human?

Video is now online from the opening colloquium of Stanford’s Frankenstein@200 Initiative: “What is Monster? What is Human?” (October 17, 2017, Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford University).

My talk, “Frankenstein, Film, and the Mediation of Media Change,” is embedded above.

Below you will find talks by my colleagues Denise Gigante (English), Aleta Hayes (Theater and Performance Studies), Russ Altman (Bioengineering, Genetics, Medicine), and Hank Greely (Law, Genetics).

Essays in Sight and Sound — Exhibition Opens Today

Essays-in-Sight-and-Sound

Essays in Sight and Sound — an exhibition of video essays that I am co-curating with Spencer Slovic at Stanford — opens today. The wall text (above) outlines the aims and objectives of the show. Here is a list of the 13 works included:

Explorations of Narrative

On-Again, Off-Again Relationships: A Recurring Theme, 2017
Gita Krishna
Video, 5:33

TALLADEGA NIGHTS: A Reinvention of the Tragic Hero, 2017
Robin Fierberg
Video, 5:56

Crafting a Cinematic Universe, 2017
Antonio Avalos
Video, 8:37

THE LAST OF US: What’s in a Moment?, 2017
Matt Bernstein
Video, 3:52

Focus on Color

Minelli Red, 2017
Carlos Valladares
Video, 19:10

Character Design in Pixar, 2017
Rogelio Salinas
Video, 5:55

Sound, Form, Aesthetics

Sight and Sound Conspire: Monstrous Audio-Vision in James Whale’s FRANKENSTEIN, 2015
Shane Denson
Video, 8:47

The Arc Shot, 2017
Sabrina Medler
Video, 5:17

LOCK UP: Tonal Dissonance and Homoeroticism, 2017
Francesca Watkins
Video, 10:33

Culture, Context, Contour

You Eat with Your Eyes First: Comparing the Eastern and Western “Foodie” Movie Genres, 2017
Rose Adams
Video, 11:05

Healing Waters, 2017
Zoe Mhungu
Video, 5:21

Flexing Culture, 2017
Eleni Aneziris
Video, 4:46

The Animal in the Lake: Ambient Sound in CEMETERY OF SPLENDOR, 2018
Spencer Slovic
Video, 4:30

 

Essays in Sight and Sound: An Exhibition of Video Essays

Essays in Sight and Sound-web

Essays in Sight and Sound: An Exhibition of Video Essays brings together a number of works produced in the Fall 2017 course “The Video Essay: Writing with Video about Film and Media.”

The assembled videos deal with cinema, television, video games, and online media, which they approach from a variety of angles. Together, these works not only probe our changing media landscape but explore the critical affordances of the video essay as a means of writing with sight and sound.

The exhibition will be on view January 12 – 26, 2018 in the Gunn Foyer of the McMurtry Building, home of the Department of Art & Art History, on the Stanford University campus.

WTF IS THAT? Allison de Fren at Digital Aesthetics Workshop

Allison de Fren DAW poster

On Tuesday, November 14, 2017, media maker/scholar Allison de Fren will be discussing post-cinema and videographic criticism with the Digital Aesthetics Workshop at the Stanford Humanities Center, focusing on her video essay “WTF IS THAT? The Pre- and Post-Cinematic Tendencies of Paranormal Activity” and Steven Shaviro’s article “The Glitch Dimension: Paranormal Activity and the Technologies of Vision.”

This event follows a screening of de Fren’s documentary and videographic work on fembots the night before (more details here).

Fembots: From Representation to Reality

deFren-Poster

On Monday, November 13, 2017 (5:30pm in Oshman Hall, McMurtry Building), media maker/scholar Allison de Fren (Occidental College) will be on hand for a screening of her 2010 documentary The Mechanical Bride and her 2015 video essay Fembot in a Red Dress. The screening, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a Q&A.

Sponsored by the Stanford Department of Art & Art History, the Documentary Film Program, and Stanford’s Frankenstein@200 Initiative.