Final Blog Post – New Media

This semester, I explored the rich and diverse discourse community of online artists; creative individuals who, rather than commercial publication, elect to use the internet as a platform to share their creations. Given the variety of artistic disciplines showcased all over the internet, I chose to focus on filmmakers, game designers, animators, and graphic designers, as these fields are the ones I find the most interesting and popular. Throughout the semester, our studies into the historical and theoretical elements that seek to explain and give context to the nature of the internet and new media have informed my perspectives on my discourse community. Of all of our theories we covered, the ones that informed my practice the strongest were digital delivery (techne, identity, distribution, interaction, accessibility), remediation, and hypertexuality.

The theories of digital delivery we covered were the most useful when I developed my website, as they allowed me to take a broader look at similar platforms and means of distribution. James Porter, the theorist behind digital delivery, went into depth explaining how the oratory of delivery has been remediated for digital content, and why this is significant in our landscape of new media. His paper assisted me in making my decision to make a tutorial database as a final project. The age of night classes to learn a craft is coming to an end, as the internet is filled with tutorials that assist artists of any discipline. Therefore, I set out to design a website that would provide easier access to the various remediated tutorials that are available on the web. My website, in this manner, would be the ‘techne’ of my delivery, and social media would serve as my means of distribution. In terms of accessibility, my website is entirely open for anyone to access via google search and mobile, which was decided on purpose. If the intention of my site was to connect artists with their relevant communities and tutorials, openness and ease of access would be expected. Finally, in terms of interactivity, each post on my site on every page has a comments section linked to Facebook. Anyone with a facebook account is able to participate on the discussions and comments on the site, so long as their social media account is linked.

Hypertextuality was another theory that informed my practice. Hypertext through links, shares, and other internet currencies is what strong websites are built on. My Tutorial Codex was intended to be a constructive hypertext rather than an exploratory hypertext because, while I wanted it to be a place for artists to explore their discipline through links to relevant tutorials, I also wanted to be constructed via their interaction with it. Upon completion, I made sure to include a comment section under each tutorial to ensure that users can leave reviews and links to other pages, allowing for community participation.

Overall, the theories of digital delivery and hypertexuality were the most informative for my practice. Without these, I wouldn’t have had the guidance I needed to construct a website that would be effective in a new media environment. Through hyperlinking to other domains on the internet and provided didactic materials that have been remediated for web delivery, I believe I have developed a site that will allow artists to engage in their online communities and enhance their art.

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AstroGrizzly’s Tutorial Codex

Welcome to AstroGrizzly’s Tutorial Codex! The one-stop shop for free web tutorials and videos geared towards improving and enhancing your creative skills.

My name is Coleman Parks and I’m a Film Production Major with an emphasis in Editing at Dodge College School of Film and Media Arts in Orange County. What intimidated me about entering the film world the most was my lack of technical knowledge. I knew I could be creative, but had no clue how to use the tools of my craft. Three years later, I’m well-versed in multiple platforms and softwares ranging from film editing, to animation, to graphic design, to even game design, and I owe most of my knowledge to the incredibly helpful web resources at my disposal.

This website is aimed at all those creative folks out there who, like me, have dreams to work in digital and cinematic art, but have no access to expensive software education and need free tutorials. I hope to give you a free, open space to explore your craft and learn more from actual professionals, as well as contribute to our community.

Outline for Final Project

The following is a skeletal outline of how I will approach my final project, focusing on the methods and scope I plan to use to create a cohesive rhetorical criticism of my movement.

  • Research Question – Given the evolving nature of warfare and contemporary moral landscape of developed nations, is the Anti-War Movement relevant anymore?
  •  Exigence
    • The Anti-War movement has taken several forms and multiple identities throughout human history as a reflection of the struggles of whichever time period it represents. It reemerges in different ways depending on the nature of the conflict it surrounds.
  • Context
    • For the purposes of my analysis, I will narrow the scope of the Anti-War movement to the mid to late 20th, as well as early 21st, centuries. The reason I have selected this period is because it represents massive shifts in the public’s ideology, manifesting itself in protests on grand scales and powerful nonviolent demonstrations. Warfare over these years changed so drastically from how it was previously perceived that citizens who opposed traditional wars were forced to reexamine their beliefs.
  • Methodology
    • I found that the most effective methodologies to critique the rhetoric of the Anti-War movement are ideological, cultural, fantasy-theme, and narrative.
  • Purpose
    • Using these methods, I aim to examine my research question which challenges the relevancy of the Anti-war movement in modern society. Do we still need a movement that decries war, when the nature of the conflicts we engage in appear so dissimilar to traditional warfare? Should anti-war advocates oppose counter-terrorism missions or interference to topple dictatorships? Don’t these actions act against the potential for war? These questions pose ethically and ideologically challenging notions that I hope to examine with the methods I mentioned above.

Final Project Proposal

The most helpful tool aspiring online artists have are tutorials. On the internet, the greatest resources for artistic lessons and ideas come from these free websites that offer digitally “hands-on” guides to create masterpieces. The trouble is that there are very few databases and collections of these tutorials so that artists of various disciplines can scroll through different lessons and take away what they need. Therefore, for my final project, I would like to design a website that links artists to their specific communities and those tutorials. The exigence is simple: many artists need guides, but few can discover the resources they need to access them. My site will link artists to pages and didactic materials that are relevant to their discipline. In this way, I will be contributing to the discourse within my community and expanding on the hyperreality of internet-based teaching materials. My site will be divided into the following sections and pages:

  • Filmmakers, with tutorials relevant to:
    • Visual effects
    • Cinematography
    • Editing
    • Screenwriting
    • Sound design
  • Animators, with tutorials relevant to:
    • Sketching
    • Sequencing/animating
    • Cartooning
    • Drawing
    • 3D animation
  • Graphic Design
  • Game Design

These particular communities are the most relevant to my focus, so I will emphasize tutorials that apply to them. I will offer brief but informative descriptions of each link and what it teaches, as well as include styles of teaching that are appropriate to each field (ie YouTube videos for filmmakers, Steam tutorials for game designers, etc). With this, I hope to offer a tool that will enable online artists to pursue their passion and explore their interests in a user-friendly, well-designed web environment.

Obama’s Anti-War Speech (2002) – Ideological Criticism

Linked here is a transcript from a speech made by the, then, Senator of Illinois, Barack Obama. In the speech, Obama utilizes several rhetorical techniques to create a marxist ideological critique of the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq. He makes use of repetitious, memorable quotes to enhance his argument, as well as draws upon historical precedents to balance his claims. His use of language reflects the audience to which he is addressing his concerns as well. Given that the speech is political in nature, he delivers it with the rhetorical tactics of a politician. He is addressing a group of constituents and media representatives in the hopes of dissuading the American public from supporting the war.

The tenants of Marxist critique, outlined by scholars Roderick P. Hart and Suzanne M. Daughton, are comprised mainly of an analysis focusing on the justifications for marginalization by those in power. These justifications can take several forms and appeal to several fields, including religious, educational, political, financial, patriotic, and bureaucratic. Marxist ideological critics tend to be repetitious and tendentious. They identify material conditions and realities constructed by rhetors in power, focusing on the hierarchy of privileged and marginalized values and how these values maintain or deconstruct the status quo. In short, they ask a lot of hard-hitting questions. For these reasons, I believe Obama is creating a marxist ideological criticism in this speech, as he employs many of the tactics that fall into this realm of criticism.

Firstly, he reinforces ethos of the self by identifying his American roots and support for our armed forces. He is quick to point out that his speech doesn’t identify as anti-war, or that he isn’t against warfare overall. I would infer that he aims to avoid the taboo labels and illegitimacy that some anti-war rhetors possess. Further, because America is a warring nation, he feels the need to justify his opposition in a particular case.

Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances. The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don’t oppose all wars.

This is a marxist tactic used to create a sense of identity and oneness with the rhetor’s audience, and Obama employs it frequently. The theme of “opposition” is used often throughout his speech, and he repeats the phrase “I don’t oppose all wars” three times within the first few minutes. A further sense of ethos is developed as he states,” I don’t oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism”, which serves to reinforce his support for the American armed forces.

The critique of power figures appears several minutes into the speech, when Obama begins to discuss his views on the Iraq war. What perplexed me was the avoidance of common political rhetoric or even diplomatic phrasing, when he labeled the Bush Administration’s actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. “What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.” By attacking the intellectual justifications, or lack thereof, in the administration’s decision, he has created an image of an inept leadership bent on serving selfish and political interests outside the American public’s knowledge.

What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne. What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income — to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

After giving his audience a mixture of personal and justified criticisms of the administration, he continues on to offer his opinion on the perceived enemy, somewhat offering his opposition an olive branch.

I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

The aim of this statement is to reel in support from those who perceive the US government to have good intentions. Few would disagree with Obama’s assessment of Saddam Hussein, however he quickly turns his gaze back to the administration and how he would prefer to see the conflict resolved.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

He concludes by offering his own preference for armed retribution for the September 11th attacks. By doing this, he utilized his marxist criticism of the Bush Administration and conjured a rhetorical image of action that will lead to justice and peace.

We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not — we will not — travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.

Oh the Humanity – Procedural Rhetoric and Social Commentary in Civilization V

Any of my readers who identify as gamers are most definitely familiar with Sid Meier’s Civilization V (Civ V), the 2010 strategy title from Firaxis Games. The object of the game is simple; develop an advanced civilization through turn-based procedures until you conquer rival nations through military, cultural, religious, scientific, or diplomatic supremacy. A “2050” mechanic is also included; if no other victories are achieved by the year 2050, the player with the highest “victory” score is the winner. What gamers may not actively observe, however, is the political rhetoric generated by the procedural and decision-based processes within the game, and how this rhetoric, by effect, delivers a message about the complexities and fragility of international politics.

Civilization-V-Updated-with-More-Bug-Fixes-3

At first glance, the interface of the game is complicated and unnerving, but as players relax into the mechanics of gameplay, the UI begins to make more sense. Essentially, Civ V is a random, digital, procedurally generated board game. Players can engage in city settling and building within the confines of their empire and expand their borders by conquering or claiming spaces (tiles). One of the most comical, yet practical, elements of Civ V is the unit display. Rather than vast armies, groups of worker units, or brigades of vehicles, units are represented by large, limited models that appear, against the backdrop of the board, to be giants. The purpose of this mechanic is representative; they certainly couldn’t include massive roaming hoards and armies in the system, as the scale and breadth of the game board wouldn’t allow for it. Civ V is massive in scale for a reason.

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One significant element Civ V deals with is Time. Players settle their first city in what we consider ‘Ancient Times’. As the game progresses, the clock begins to count down towards modern day. Various ‘eras’ are reached as Civilizations research new technologies, such as Theology, which unlocks the Medieval age. Given the exponential expansion of human development in the last 150 years, Civ V slows down the clock as it nears the industrial era. Eventually, when the 2000s are reached, players have access to modern military units, advanced technological strengths, and sophisticated diplomatic options.

Julius Caesar - One of the many leaders you can play as

Playable characters have a huge role in defining one’s experience with Civ V, as each possess their own unique skills and abilities. Players can select from a vast range of world leaders, both contemporary and ancient, to play as. Anyone from George Washington (American Civilization) to Genghis Khan (Mongolian Civilization) are playable. The developers sought to make the roles and relationships of each leader varied and specific; Gandhi gets along with Kamehameha better than Queen Elizabeth.

Apart from the infinite possibilities available in this game, what makes it significant outside of the gaming world? Put simply, it offers a concise, accurate, microcosmic examination of humanity and how our history shapes our culture, our culture shapes our language, our language shapes our military, our military shapes our politics, etc. It teaches players that our ACTUAL civilizations, our homes, exist due to decisions made in our past. Nations feud with other nations for reasons that stem back to the founding of their societies, and gamers are able to correlate the conflicts that arise in the game with actual world events. A player may decide to open up mutually beneficial trade routes with a militarily endowed nation to ensure their protection in the inevitable war that will arise in several turns. Perceptive gamers may even look at real events for strategies to use in the game. I know I certainly do. If America was able to strengthen their economy by launching an invasion against an oil-rich nation, why can’t I, as Maria Theresa of Austria, invade Harald Bluetooth of Denmark to fund my space program. If international politics is truly a ‘game’, as world leaders like to label it, then Civilization V is the closest we can get to playing it.