What I made in a semester during my Masters of Media Arts and Production

So before I went all deep in that last post I was going to show you what I made this semester during my Masters of Media Arts and Production. The point of this blog post is two-fold. Firstly, it’s for me to show off, and also put the spotlight on projects that may other wise never see the light of day again. Secondly, showing the creative products of one semester studying at UTS might help people who are wondering about the course or trying to figure out which courses to take.

Directing

I made two videos during my directing class. In this first video I had to shoot a scene from ‘Silence of the Lambs’ within an hour in class, using only other classmates as crew and actors.

How we wanted the scene to be played was up to our discretion and it’s pretty weird, but I like it. I had to drag one of my classmates, Francisco, on a skate board to get the shot in the corridor, which was cool.  

For my final directing exercise we had to choose one script, from a collection of four, to direct for our final project. I’m happy with how it turned out.  

Sound and Interaction

So if you thought those projects were weird you’re in for a surprise with these two, because they are much weirder.

During this course I had to make one audio piece and one interactive work. Working with John Scarpias and Barbara Ings, I made this experimental sound piece for the audio component.

Sound

‘Cults’ is an experimental sound piece that focuses on the Australian cult, ‘The Family’. It explores notions of passive control and psychological manipulation. Using a sixty minutes interview with the leader of the cult: Anne Hamilton-Byrne, as the sound mark, we created a rich and diverse soundscape that highlighted the surreal elements of this horrible section of Australian history. We utilised sounds that are usually classified as acoustic rubbish (dial up tones, static) to rework into a rich tapestry that evokes a sense of the dystopia.

Interaction

For the interactive component of the course I made an interactive game on Hype. My interactive project was called ‘Miss Matilda’s Shop of Pretty Little Things for Pretty Little Girls’. The project is a comment on femininity and how video games are so highly gendered. I wanted to present the facade of a traditional ‘girly game’, the type of game that was offered to me as a child by Barbie and Polly Pocket, and subtly interweave violence and masochism which is usually associated with male gaming culture.

If you click the picture below it will load.

Miss Matilda's Shop of Pretty Little Things for Pretty Little Girls

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/spa/x6gpip9j3v0nblb/Exports/MissMatildasShop/MissMatildasShop.html

Digital and Multiplatform Storytelling

Multiplatform Storytelling was a course created to follow Sound and Interaction for those who wanted to expand further into Digital Media. I took it as an elective because I’m really interested in different ways to use the internet and apps in fiction. However, UTS doesn’t specify that it’s a course that is meant to proceed the other. So I ended up doing both in the same semester which was annoying.

Stephanie Phillips, Sally Massos, Clare O’Halloran and I created Personality Punch Up for our project. It was made in Hype.

If you click the picture below it will load.

Personality Punch Up

file:///Volumes/FELICITY/Master_PersonalityPunchUp/Master_PersonalityPunchUp.html

The target audience of Personal Punch Up is school aged children. In the game you are asked to choose between two groups of historical figures. You are then given facts about the historical figures and are asked to choose which historical figure will win in battles against each other.

By asking children to battle historical figures we hoped that, under the guise of a game, the children might learn about the figures and their lives.

My favourite thing about this project however is that I finally got to apply my experience as a spoken word poet in a more commercial type setting. We also went super well, which is always nice.

Conclusion
So there you have it. This is what I made in one semester at UTS doing the Media Arts and Production course. One thing I love about UTS is that they do really encourage you to do very experimental projects and urge you to think outside commercial media products and mediums. The only downside of this is that sometimes you can end up with a lot of strange little projects that don’t add up to a portfolio as such. If you’re a UTS student trying to choose which subjects to do next semester, I hope this helps.

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Art and About – ‘I Think I Can’ Review

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I Think I Can places a thoroughly modern concept: avatars, onto a nostalgic frame. The interactive artwork, being exhibited as part of the Art and About Sydney Festival, allows individuals to create avatars that live and interact in a large scale model railway named Springfield Junction.

Taking it’s name from popular children’s book The Little Engine That Could’, I Think I Can focuses on creation and storytelling. The work is the brainchild of Terrapin Puppet Theatre artistic director Sam Routledge and artist Martyn Coutts and is presented by Performance Space and Art and About Sydney.

I found I Think I Can at the Central Station Concourse on the opening night of Art and About Sydney, and quickly decided I wanted to experience it. After an informative chat with a volunteer I decided that I would get an avatar. The first step was a personality test. Then I was presented with a selection of different avatars that I could choose from. I chose an ‘Activist’. Other avatars that you could be assigned included the Queen, a vandal, a reality TV star, or President Obama.

I Think I Can

My ‘I Think I Can’ Passport and my selected avatar.

The next step was figuring out where he would be placed in Springfield Junction. I decided my little man should be hanging by the abattoir. Next his back story had to be established. I decided the activist was visiting friends who work at the abattoir and coming for a spot of protesting. The guy, let’s call him Ned, had decided to protest at the abattoir because he had found an embryo in a can from the factory. He’d only been an activist for about a week. This back story was recorded in an iPad.

My tiny avatar was then animated by a puppeteer and broadcast live onto a screen above the model town.

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The puppeteer animates the Activist.

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The Activist has become part of Springfield Junction.

I have been told that each time I come back I can change what my activist is up to and I can follow his adventures if he pops up in the ‘I Think I Can Times’: an online publication of the scandals and news of Springfield Junction.

I enjoyed the artwork on many levels. On one level, the process evoked nostalgia of model train stations and made me appreciate the enormous capacity we have as children to create fictional worlds. This element allows the work to be family friendly, it’s great for kids and it’s cheap (free to participate)!  On another level, I enjoyed the art work for all statements that it was making. I Think I Can made me consider how much we try escape our own lives through building hyperreal (often better) versions of ourselves, and our lives. I Think I Can felt like a tangible version of Second Life that was framed in a nostalgic way, making such virtual worlds that are traditionally seen as strange and deviant, playful and natural. It made me realise that this identification with a character is something that we are drawn to even as children.

What statements do you think I Think I Can is making?

Springfield Junction

Little avatars hard at work.

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Springfield Junction is a hot bed of activity.