One of the most important elements in my work as an artist is that of storytelling. Using video primarily as my medium, I tell the stories that are most important to me. Although, I am a video artist I am very influenced by James Baldwin. His literary work comes from the perspective of the microstructures and not the superstructures. His work is focused on the everyday lives of the individual and the community. Through this means the reader or audience gains an understanding of how the superstructures, such as institutional structures of oppression impact the personal lives of everyday people.
After reading about the work of Joe Lambert I feel that the visual/digital storytelling I do outside of his academic format. I don't feel the stories I tell have an ending and I mostly work with things that come out who I am. So, these are real stories. These are my thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. I believe my work has a bit more flexibility and fluidity. This work can be displayed in a gallery, but it can also be placed in a public space.
What I will show the class for my final project is a video from a series currently titled, "Get it together..." Simply put, I am sharing my story about managing anxiety.
This documentary is a response to the white privilege riot that took place in Keene, New Hampshire at a Pumpkin festival. In the present climate of injustices happening to black bodies, in particular the murder of Mike Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, a riot of drunk white youth reveals the afforded privileges of whiteness. This documentary is a mixture of satirical commentary, staging, and performance. These tools show and tell how whiteness allows people to make an "injustice" out of anything, including something as simple as a pumpkin. By turning the camera on the performers, it is a mirrored reflection of how white privilege centers itself in narratives often not about White people using co-opted tools from black protesting culture.
See the link below for more on the Pumpkin riots and Ferguson: http://www.theroot.com/blogs/the_grapevine/2014/10/black_people_riot_over_injustice_white_people_riot_over_pumpkins_and_football.html
What You Never Knew About Harriet Tubman
Ebony Goddess: IIe Aiye
These three documentaries are all connected through a historical link. The staging documentary deals with a literal "staging" of history. There is a retelling of history by a narrator and reenactment scenes of Harriet Tubman. The observational documentary follows three Afro-Brazilian beauty contestants that compete to be an Ebony Goddess, which is a tribute to their blackness and African heritage that has been whitewashed. Lastly, the skeptical documentary deals with a historical event against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the history of violence against black women.
The staging documentary manipulates the subject and does a telling of a history through a third party. The observational documentary moves closer to the subject, but there the power stills majority belongs to the documentarian. The skeptical documentary shifts the power closer to the subject because Anita Hill is such an integral part of the documentary on and off the screen. The power relation is different depending of the style of documentary.
"Certainly the desire to experience aspects of the world outside one's daily experience is an essential one, but representing an unfamiliar or foreign realm comes with logistical and representational challenges tied to ethnography, ethics, and power that are overlooked far too often." -Broderick Fox
God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise is the followup to the Emmy award winning documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts by director Spike Lee. In the clip above, HBO has a brief conversation with Lee on his thoughts about his follow up work on the people of New Orleans living through the impact of Hurricane Katrina. In the short clip you are able to get a sense of Lee as the filmmaker, his investment in the project, and his connection to the people of New Orleans. It can be argued that because Lee is black, grew up in Brooklyn, went to an HBCU and most of his catalog features work that traces the narrative of the black community that he is much more close to the subject than most filmmakers of his stature would be. On the other hand it can be argued that he is too far removed from the people of New Orleans and their struggles. He has achieved success that affords him the benefits to not have to face such emotional and finacially turmoil. Yet, Lee decides that the voices of the people are important to him, important to the Unites States and that they needed to be heard. I am left wondering, what is the measurement for "safely" making work about people? How does one know when they are welcomed to observe and represent a people visually? Also, how much of the "subject" matter when making these decisions? How does Lee's documentaries work differently from others on the subject of Katrina?
In Chapter 3 of Debates in Digital Humanities, Lisa Spiro attempts to define the values of the Digital Humanities community. Spiro believes that creating a value statement will help make Digital Humanities more effective and provide a greater understanding of their work to a larger audience. Throughout the chapter you get the sense that Spiro is shooting blanks into the sky hoping to create an illusion that she actually might hit something. She goes back and forth between suggesting solutions on how Digital Humanities can improve, to how she realizes that her suggestions may not actually help to remove any criticism. She insists that the value statement be written by the community for the community, but yet the only thing a reader gains from this chapter are Spiro's values. Her fight seems to be to remove Digital Humanities away from traditional humanities, but somehow this chapter does more to reinforce the sameness of the two. They both don't know how to do "diversity" and their "community" is actually a gentrified block.
In this essay, W.J.T. Mitchell examines visual media, specifically visual mediums. Using a very authoritative tone and patriarchal gaze Mitchell deconstructs visual mediums by expressing his belief that "all media are mixed media". He relies on art history references to support his subjective claims. Reading his work it is easy to become turned off because he leaves little room for you to develop your own opinion. Art historians beware,
Mitchell is not too happy with your way of seeing.