mash up

She’s Going Down: Mash-Up

 This was not the first time I’ve worked with digital video, but it is the first time I’ve ever made something even remotely similar to a mash-up. Recording how-to videos, vlogs, or video game-related videos and editing those is one thing, but looking at hours of media and trying to process and synthesize them into a video is a very different animal.

To be frank, I dislike the idea of mash-ups, both in video and otherwise—I had to write a “multi-genre” piece in another class that was a similar idea of combining various styles into one thing, and I disliked that, as well. I like telling stories and I like making statements, but I’ve always been very particular with how I do things: Why buy a computer when I can make one myself, why buy a Halloween costume when I can sew, why put together a video that is a stitched together version of other videos when I can make something myself?

With that in mind, I had to really rethink how I approached this assignment. At first, I had the ideas sketched out, much like the storyboard rough draft we were assigned to do. I knew what I wanted, and I wanted to find things that fit right so, but when you’re not working with your own creations, things simply do not work like that, so instead of trying to find videos that fit my story, I ended up scrapping everything and finding videos that had images I thought I could work with, editing those videos down to the related sections, and then seeing how those could fit into a greater story. I needed to tell a story, but I could not do it by looking at the story in a linear fashion and hoping what I had would fit. Instead, I started to look at it as a puzzle where I had all these pieces, and if I put them together just right, there would be something there: It would no longer be a mass of colors and lines, but a fully-formed image (or in this case, idea).

Another challenge while creating the mash-up is that I do not think—or make any sort of art—with semiotic theories in mind. I think, “Putting that clip next to that will be powerful,” or “Speeding up this clip will create a sense of urgency” without telling myself that I’ve used this-or-that theory. These theories are things I assign to what I’ve done afterward, when I look into my motivations and reasoning, and this is also why I know I have trouble discussing my work in relation to these ideas. I can tell you why did something in this process, but to say it was a conscious choice to relate one clip to another in an active attempt to represent the idea of truth of falsity is not how I think, and in that way I approached this assignment like I approach any story I write, thinking about what I want to say and how to get there without getting bogged down by concepts. I worked on giving it meaning before searching out ways to add to develop the little nuances that would make or break my point.

And while, through all of this, I still dislike the mash-ups as a whole, I have come away with more respect for the medium: To tell a story without using your own words and/or images, with content you had no hand in the creation of, is a strange and arduous task. It required thinking in ways that I rarely do, and to some extend helped me make realization about my own story-telling. Although not related to mash-ups, often I would look at non-linear stories, or mysteries, and think of how I would never know how to put together a plot myself, creating something that was not more tradition in form, but through my many mash-up trials and errors, I have figured out this: That sometimes it is best not to see a story as a linear thing, but as a puzzle waiting to be solved (or taken apart). Puzzles make an image, and images tell stories, but they are not given to you with the pieces numbered 1 to 1,000, and the ability to think of stories in this way has opened many doors for me, writing was (although I do still expect many errors along the way—after all, it only took me scrapping one whole draft to finally get this project on track).

Semiotic Analysis

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Testing Testing 1 2 3 Reflection

 

A. The Process
At first glance, when I signed up for the course I was extremely excited for the mash up. Looking over the student samples gave me great pleasure. And then my experience; I have never edited a video. My laptop is 6 years old and takes far too long to download clips, let alone software. I used my boyfriend’s adobe premier that crashed multiple times on imports and trimming. I then moved to on a specific Mac in the James Hall computer lab using iMovie to complete the assignment. For very first draft the work I put into mashing the clips together took about 5 hours. This of coursedid not include watching videos for that one second of footage needed. I severely underestimated the amount of work needed for the mash up. When I first watched the students work I immediately thought how well put together they looked. Little did I understand the work needed to get there.

The whole process was incredibly time consuming, almost to the point where you just want to stop and never open YouTube ever again. This is the portion where my learning occurred. Spending those long hours was necessary in order for me to understand the software. Looking back, I needed that time to figure out how the software worked, because I have never worked on something similar with devoting hours to learning it, I wouldn’t have been able to work with as easily as I did towards the end. It made me think that if I wrote, including this very sentence, with the effort of a minute worth of mash up video, the sentence would be full of eloquent craft, composure, and nonetheless grammar free. I regret to note that my writing is never as such.The art of video mash up is intense, you can no longer write when inspiration strike. For me specifically I could only do it on a specific computer. That alone limited when I could compose.

I find it both easy and difficult to compare and contrast video mash ups to alphabetical writing. I found sources by speaking to those around me for inspiration. Additionally, I had to rely heavily on key word specific searches for my videos. The hardest part for me was watching content that made me uneasy. Usually, I would mute the audio and only focus on the visuals while finding clips. By doing so I was able to separate myself from the clips. When first starting the mash up, I had fears that I would get upset due to the content that I was researching : human testing . Occasionally, I would get stuck on what clips I should be looking for and I turned to articles and other sources that gave information on specific experiments on humans, just as I would a research paper.

There were also piles of video from movies that I had stumbled upon. These clips were easily found and were some of the first items mentioned when asking friends to help brainstorm scenes to use. The only issue was in the way that I included them. At the time, they were the most realistic clips I had found, but when I inserted them, it almost made the mash up comical, rather than serious and dark. While I thought putting clips of wolverine screaming would be effected, other perceived it as a moment to laugh because it was over the top. With that, I knew that I had to relook my approach and proceed deeper into video clips to find actual more raw footage. It was as if I were doing the research for a research paper, but not necessarily using that initial research. Once you uncovered an idea, you have to dig deeper and deeper to really get to what you were looking for. As a writer I tend to struggle with narrowing down a thesis for paper, but with the mash up, I did not have to worry about actually stating my thesis. Instead, the viewers are supposed to infer my meaning through the content.

Just like writing, the mashup needed constant revision. I would talk to something about what my purpose was and realize that a clip didn’t work or I would be explaining why I used a certain clip and realized I needed to use it more throughout the video or take it out. It was not until my last draft that I realized how much I had invested into the mashup. In general, I never talk to others about school, but here I was asking people for ideas and showing them the drafts I had published. It might have been because the work was actually meant to be viewed by the public that I cared more about it than an essay meant for a professors eyes. Or, was it because I am actually proud of the way the video turned out. For having no background in video editing I felt as though I was invested in the mashup, more than any other college assignment before. Even after I submitted my final draft I thought of another aspect I wanted to include and went back and revised and published again.

 

B. Semiotic Theories
The art of the mash up was an entirely new process for me. The idea of creating video as a form of writing is innovative. Previous college assignments are unparalleled to the challenge of my creative and writing processes. Creating the mash forced me to dispute my own understandings of what writing is, or rather now, what writing was. While, my creation did not necessarily comply with looking for ways to use the Semitic theories, instead diving deeper into the mash up allowed me to find out what my subconscious was doing in the process. I continue to look at semiotics based on the back of Sean Hall’s “This Means This This Means That” which states, “whether they are conscious or not, all graphic designers are semioticians.”

Throughout the video there are multiple clips of the progress of an atomic bomb exploding. As the video progresses, the mushroom of the bomb grows larger.  Each clip of the atomic bomb are sped up 800%. This was done to exemplify the idea that experiments can get out of control quickly. By using fast and slow clips, Hall mentions that the clips can be used as a flow to determine speed (108).  This quick flow is a symbol for one human, becoming several or one bomb, becoming 3000.

The clip of the bloody mouth throughout the mash up is used as a symbol of gore.  When it first appears the viewers are forced to watch it for approximated 3.5 seconds, concluding to the idea that you cannot hide yourself from the truth. Because it is in your face, it is meant to show viewers the dirty world of testing. This clip has claimed the prominence over the mash up, as it is repeated several times throughout the whole piece (Hall 122). This disturbing image, along with the various scenes from a LUSH campaign showing a human in a nude bodysuit getting treated as an animal would should allude  to an uneasy feeling in my viewers. I did this so that my audience remembers the disturbing image, just as human testing is.

Additionally, I want viewers to realize that chemicals once deemed safe by organization have had terrible side effects on the participants at hand. The clip of spraying DDT on the children and in a city street demonstrates an idea that children and society were being used as testing subjects without their knowledge, and without the knowledge of the scientists.

I show a scene of children acting as doctors three times within the mashup. These clips are always following or preceding clips of scientists or doctors. By juxtaposing them side by side I am creating the irony between innocence and intentions (Hall 60). The children playing doctor is used with juxtaposition to show the irony innocence plays in relation to real life situations. Additionally, it is also attempting to make intertextual relationships between the two images. This is to say that are connected under s common theme, and that “the various works are interrelated,” (Hall 126). Doing this communicates the idea that these innocent children are our future.  As children they play doctor and in their adult life they take on the career. Depending on our needs they will either follow in our footsteps or change the behaviors around. There is a chance that they will continue to use humans as testing subjects or possibly be the humans that the testing is being done to. Much of science is exploratory, without any knowledge of dangerous effects some drugs of chemical produce. Cellular radiation, for instance has not been researched heavily for the cause of chronic illness, but like DDT could become the cause of diseases in future findings.  These clips you may note are also in vibrant color as the saturation has been up, that is until the very end of the video when the saturation is turned all the way turning the children into grayscale. This change of clip demonstrates that chance for the children to grow up and continue testing on humans in unethical ways.

I wanted to emphasis that many times the testing subjects do not have control on their situations and are forced, without their knowledge or consent to the testing. For this idea, I included direct clips of animal testing with the images of the beagles in cages and receiving injections The viewers should connect with intertextuality to the clips of the mental ward which appear towards the end of the video and the multiple clips of the atomic bomb exploring. The clips of a white rat being dangled from a scientists hand is used as a direct symbol of animal testing, like the term, “lab rat”. That being said the rat is also being used as a metaphor for humans whom replace rats in certain experiments (Hall 54).  This clip of the rat being handled is in grayscale until the very last clip where the saturation is upped and the scientist is petting the rat instead of dangling it. Coming after the children playing doctor clip I used the proximity to show that not only can the children change our future, but the adult can as well. The return of the color is potentially the return of kindness and hope for better treatments of humans (and animals alike). Here, is where you should pay careful attention to the color of said rat. It is white. Looking back I connect white to the scientists who carried out the treatments. More often than not it was a white male who was the doctor in my other clips and in society. By having a white rat I am depicting the idea that it has been historically Caucasians who have used other minorities for subjects (Hall 66). The scene where white ferrets pace in cages is using the color white to depict the main race that control who or what is being tested on. Hall notes that what is being depicted, “may also be different than what it represents.” When there are other groups that are below the majority that minority has been used for scientific experiments. Whether it is African Americas, individuals with disabilities, women, or children; when they are not seen as equal sometimes they are used in science as the testing subjects. Another metaphor that I used was the guinea pig, to go with the saying that the first one to test out if it works or doesn’t, are the guinea pigs .

While I do not necessarily believe that my mashup tells a story or narrative I believe that these final clips (children play doctor in grayscale and scientist petting a rat in color) give the mash up and ending thought to ponder upon. Whether that is the entire narrative of my mash up, I am not even sure, but it is one that draws attention to itself (174).

The trimmed a vaccination video clip to a section of  a baby getting drops from a tube squeezed into its mouth. With Hall’s, “viewer and image” it can be assumed that the baby is receiving a harmful OR helpful drug. While in the original video the child is receiving a rotavirus oral vaccine, due to the doom and gloomy feeling one could receive from the video that specific image could be human giving a child a deadly drug. That being said, that clip in particular is very effective. Having two sides of possible interpretation, I like that conflict is provides viewers. It make them question what they are viewing and can in turn be used as a lie. While my originally intention for that specific clip was to portray medicine helping humans, the idea that the drugs being given to kill the child is also interesting. I feel as though in this clip I am not only lying or misleading my viewers, but also myself. In reality, the whole purpose of the video is to questions humans and society as a whole, this clip seems to do both of that, as long as the viewers are able to make that meaning from my content.

Engaging stereotypes for the mash up was an effective was to persuade my viewers to think as I do. By using a clip of a white doctor injecting serum or ‘treating’ blacks during the Tuskegee Syphilis Project I engage my audience to the ideal that testing on humans is unethical. I attempt to shame doctors, past and presents for their work regardless of how it helped others.

I used the video of a white blood cell chasing bacteria multiple times thorough the mash up. Many times it comes before and after the clip of a baby receiving an oral vaccination. Because of the proximity of the white blood cell consuming bacteria and the vaccination I mean to create the idea that vaccinations are necessary in the prevention of diseases.  You may also notice that this clip appears in place of the machine gun at a certain point in the mash up, but doing this I was posing a double meaning. This is not only suggesting the need for vaccinations, but also reflects the dark truth that many vaccinations are created by using humans for testing. The sense and reference theory explains how our perceptions can shift “meaning of reference…to undermine or compromise our ability to communicate clearly” (Hall 84). By engaging two purposes for a single clip I am referring to two separate meanings.

Each draft of “Testing, Testing 1 2 3″ explored my own process, shifted the manner I composed, and ultimately pushed me revise, even when I thought the end product was final. I originally wrote the word “‘made’ me revise”, but the truth is that I wanted to and needed to in order to enhance my purpose for the assignment. I felt it necessary in order for my readers to better interrupt my message. For the first time ever in my college career, I was self motivated to revise my work, because I thought or understood the ideas behind the mash up more clearly in retrospect. By exploring the theories and comparing them to how I created my mash up, I have discovered my internal semiotician and I will continue to see the world with this view.