Videographic Frankenstein–Exhibition Sept 26-Oct 26, 2018 at Stanford

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On Display: Immemory, Soft Cinema, After Video

About two years ago, the exhibition On Display: Immemory, Soft Cinema, After Video at Bilkent University in Ankara brought together projects by Chris Marker, Lev Manovich, and the contributors to the “video book” after.video — including the collaborative AR piece “Scannable Images” that Karin Denson and I made. Recently, Oliver Lerone Schultz (one of the editors of after.video) brought to my attention this “critical tour” of the exhibition, which takes the form of a discussion between Ersan Ocak and Andreas Treske. It is audio only, and you might need to turn up the volume a bit, but it’s an interesting discussion of video and media art.

(See here for more on after.video. Also, I should note that the AR on “Scannable Images” is currently not working due to the ephemeral business models of AR platforms these days, but I hope to port it over to a new platform and get it up and running again soon!)

Virtual and Augmented Reality Digital (and/or Deformative?) Humanities Institute at Duke

I am excited to be participating in the the NEH-funded Virtual and Augmented Reality Digital Humanities Institute — or V/AR-DHI — next month (July 23 – August 3, 2018) at Duke University. I am hoping to adapt “deformative” methods (as described by Mark Sample following a provocation from Lisa Samuels and Jerome McGann) as a means of transformatively interrogating audiovisual media such as film and digital video in the spaces opened up by virtual and augmented reality technologies. In preparation, I have been experimenting with photogrammetric methods to reconstruct the three-dimensional spaces depicted on two-dimensional screens. The results, so far, have been … modest — nothing yet in comparison to artist Claire Hentschker’s excellent Shining360 (2016) or Gregory Chatonsky’s The Kiss (2015). There is something interesting, though, about the dispersal of the character Neo’s body into an amorphous blob and the disappearance of bullet time’s eponymous bullet in this scene from The Matrix, and there’s something incredibly eerie about the hidden image behind the image in this famous scene from Frankenstein, where the monster’s face is first revealed and his head made virtually to protrude from the screen through a series of jump cuts. Certainly, these tests stand in an intriguing (if uncertain) deformative relation to these iconic moments. In any case, I look forward to seeing where (if anywhere) this leads, and to experimenting further at the Institute next month.

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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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

Essays in Sight and Sound: An Exhibition of Video Essays

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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.

The Video Essay: Writing with Video About Film and Media

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This fall, I am excited to teach a new course, “The Video Essay: Writing with Video About Film and Media,” as a part of Stanford’s Introductory Seminars program. Geared towards sophomores from any major, this small class will combine practical instruction in video editing, analysis and discussion of exemplary video essays, hands-on lab sessions, and group critique of student work.

The course draws essential inspiration from the NEH-funded “Scholarship in Sound & Image” workshop, organized by Christian Keathley and Jason Mittell at Middlebury College, which I participated in back in 2015.

More info about the course can be found on Stanford’s Introductory Seminars website.