What are the essential elements of a story?
What are the rhetorical moves of a short film?
How can short films help students become better multimedia storytellers?
During the 13th annual Traverse City Film Festival, I attended the workshop “Anatomy of a Short” at the festival’s film school led by Lesley Tye and Andrew Hiss, instructors of Motion Picture Arts at Interlochen Arts Academy, I came away from the workshop not only with a new appreciation for the short films genre but with inspiration to produce short films with my Digital Storytelling class at St. Joe’s.
My write-up of the workshop titled “How to Get started with Shorts” can be found at agnès films. agnès films is a generous and supportive community of women filmmakers, scholars, and instructors who make and teach films. The article features five essential elements to create a successful short film and shares details from the films that we examined during the workshop.
Building quickly to a “moment that matters” is one of the secrets to a successful short film. For example — what happens to this protagonist in a mere eighteen seconds to cause her expression to change so dramatically? I’ll Wait for the Next One (2002).
Read the article at agnès films to learn about the five essential elements of shorts.
— agnès films (@agnesfilms) August 18, 2017
We are hiring a colleague with a specialization in Civic Media to begin Fall 2016. Since the day we started the Department of Communication Studies (at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia) we have been committed to working at the intersections of digital media and civic engagement—and this position is a reflection of that ethos.
This is not a traditional academic department. My colleagues come from many disciplines and continually extend teaching beyond traditional boundaries to help students become agents of social change. While many universities sit isolated in relation to the communities in which they’re isolated, we seek to better locate our teaching within the neighborhoods of Philadelphia. Our goal is set an example for how teachers and scholars can take into account the ways in which students and community members can use new media to make positive social change.
We have an open mind about what “Civic Media” is:
- communication and social change
- race, gender, and ethnicity
- networked social movements
- transmedia activism
- community literacy
- collaborative design and democracy and the web
This fixed-term, renewable Assistant Professor position is for someone who wants to work in the classroom and in the community. The successful candidate will teach Civic Media (COM 371), one of the department’s core courses, which focuses on media, communication and social change. The candidate will also teach foundational courses in the program, such as Communication Ethics (COM 201), as well as develop upper-level specialty courses. The position is 4/4.
We are looking for someone who might want to:
- Put the academic resources of the university to work in communities for social change
- Learn how digital spaces can be a platform for influence in our neighborhoods
- Create technologies or practices that revitalize civic engagement
This position helps to redefine faculty work in our department – applying expertise to make real world change. We are a group of people devoted to creating a reciprocal partnership with the public sphere, extending new models of new media literacy into local community contexts. This is the foundational value on which this department was built and each faculty member plays a committed role to its success.
My colleague Mike Lyons is currently working on the Redemption Project, a multimedia documentary that tells the stories of four juvenile lifers. The goal of this project is to “disrupt” traditional narratives of incarceration and to tell the stories of people who are “conveniently” overlooked by the mainstream media.
I founded the B-Social Research Collaborative in 2010, which my colleague Bill Wolff now directs. This ongoing initiative has collaborated with more than 55 Philadelphia nonprofits to assist in social media strategy, web design and digital media production.
My colleague Steven Hammer developed a course last semester in which students collaborated with persons with disabilities to co-create Arduino-based instruments, to expand directions in physical computing and accessibility.
My colleague Rachael Sullivan recently held a Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon to Write Women Back into History to change the low percentage of female contributors to the site (only about 13%).
This is the kind of work my department celebrates. This particular kind of work often entails a long-term commitment to working with local citizens and organizations. Building trusting, mutually enriching relations with community partners takes time. We are looking for a colleague who is interested in joining us to create a culture of civic action and participation within academia that is accountable to the broader public.
I’m currently teaching visual storytelling through the creation of Cinemagraphs — photographs with a whisp of narrative. Cinemagraphs are compelling images which feature a cinematic twist through the isolated animation of multiple frames. These animated images capture a moment in time or a living portrait of a person or place.
The screen on my iPad waiting for me this morning (I hadn’t touched it yet):
With iOS7, devices throughout the land have suddenly developed newfound human qualities, like putting together better sentences from data. Honestly, the lively prose was a welcome relief – I swooned a little. But then I got that eerie futuristic feeling. Did anyone else feel it?
I recalled the old “Knowledge Navigator” videos from Apple – a far-out concept at the time. The video I remembered featured a professor interacting with an iPad-esque type device with a Siri-esque interface. Notably, the interface looked and sounded human – without the usual computerese. The video is from 1987 – conceived by the higher education marketing team at Apple. It’s not too long until I have a bow-tie wearing butler to call my own.
James Turrell: Master of light. Player of perceptions. Orchestrator of aesthetic experience. Opening three major shows this June at the Guggenheim, LACMA , and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – Turrell is the art event of the summer.
Never seen his work? Perhaps because many of his installations are hidden away – often in smaller museums and private homes around the world. He’s especially known for designing Skyspaces – a viewing area open to the elements. Turrell orchestrates an experience for the viewer with the use of computerized lights. The artist takes the viewer on a sensory journey – utterly transforming the viewer’s perception of color and depth based on a subtle and masterful manipulation of light.
This is what I experienced recently at The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida – home of Turrell’s Skypace, “Joseph’s Coat.” At thirty minutes before sunset, about two dozen people entered the Skyspace chamber and stretched out on the floor together. For an hour we stared at the hole in the ceiling. It went like this.
What I love most about Turrell’s work is the way he invites the viewer to participate and interact with the work. In fact, his works are nothing without our sensory perception. He asks the viewer to surrender to time. Surrender to the elements. And also to give up our endless meaning-making. When we do this, we receive a rare gift of pure aesthetic appreciation.
Knight, A. (2013). Reclaiming experience: the aesthetic and multimodal composition. Computers and Composition, 30(2), 146-155.
“So extensive and subtly pervasive are the ideas that set Art upon a remote pedestal, that many a person would be repelled rather than pleased if told that he enjoyed his causal recreations, in part at least, because of their esthetic quality.”–John Dewey, Art As Experience
Recent scholarship points to the rhetorical role of the aesthetic in multimodal composition and new media contexts. In this article, published in Computers and Composition: An International Journal, I examine the aesthetic as a rhetorical concept in writing studies and imagine the ways in which this concept can be useful to teachers of multimodal composition. My treatment of the concept begins with a return to the ancient Greek aisthetikos (relating to perception by the senses) in order to discuss the aesthetic as a meaningful mode of experience. I then review European conceptions of the aesthetic and finally draw from John Dewey and Bruno Latour to help shape this concept into a pragmatic and useful approach that can compliment multimodal teaching and learning. The empirical approach I construct adds to an understanding of aesthetic experience with media in order to render more transparent the ways in which an audience creates knowledge—or takes and makes meaning—via the senses. Significantly, this approach to meaning making supports learning in digital environments where students are increasingly asked to both produce and consume media convergent texts that combine multiple modalities including sound, image, and user interaction.