After spending Tuesday discussing The City and the City in class, we learned some key aspects about the story’s theme and the metaphors that it represents. We found that The City and the City could be considered both a sort of “film-noir” detective novel, as well as a “weird fiction” science fiction novel, and we defined the major differences between the two cities created in the novel, such as aesthetics, law, politics, economics, infrastructure, transportation. By putting it into a specific genre and determining the main aspects that define each city, we were able to contextualize the setting and mood of the novel. We defined Besźel as the less modernized city of the two; the one with the more traditional and older buildings, along with lower income and educational quality. On the other hand, we defined Ul Qoma as the more modern and advanced city, with a rich, clean and educated atmosphere.
The Campus and the Campus
On Thursday, we took those key concepts from The City and the City, and applied them to our daily setting: Georgia Tech’s campus. First, we had to come up with a way to divide campus in a similar way that Besźel and Ul Qoma are differentiated in the novel. We came up with a few major divisions on Georgia Tech’s campus; here are some examples:
1. Geography: East Campus vs. West Campus
2. Modernity: New Buildings vs. Old Buildings
3. Extracurriculars: Greeks vs. Independents; Athletes vs. Academics
4. Population: Students vs. Professors; Graduates vs. Undergraduates
Each of these divisions coincide with certain population differences, much like the population differences between Besźel and Ul Qoma. They don’t all fit the analogy exactly, but they gave us different perspectives in which to look at how locations can be divided by lifestyles, architecture, population, etc. The differences we found in East and West campus were similar to the differences found in The City and the City, for East campus is known for a lot of it’s new and modern buildings, whereas West is a bit more run down and old. This moved us into the argument of modernity and architecture dividing the campus. Aside from the aesthetic point of view, we considered lifestyle and extracurricular populations as another way to link this divide to that of The City and the City. Taking all of these differences into consideration, we decided to walk around campus and define what would be Besźel on campus and what would be Ul Qoma by marking on the map of campus for specific areas. In addition to these obvious divides, we marked areas of “crosshatch,” or areas of overlap that served as transitions between the two areas.
Divide and Conquer
The areas highlighted in pink represent Ul Qoma; those places are the more modernized and new buildings frequented by students on campus, such as the CULC, Tech Square, North Avenue, and the CRC. Areas highlighted in green represent Beszel, the older and less modern buildings and areas on campus, such as some of the housing buildings (both east and west campus), the IC, the Engineering building on Cherry Street, parts of Architecture, Howey, and other run down lecture halls. Finally, the areas of crosshatch are labeled with yellow highlighter, representing the areas where people of both cities overlap, with qualities of both Bezel and Ul Qoma. These areas are places like Skiles, the Student Center, athletic facilities, and the Ferst Center. We found, however, that the Student Center served not only as a part of our “crosshatch,” but that it represented a bigger place in the novel: Copula Hall. Since the student center is more of a “transport” place for students of both “campuses,” or cities, it accurately represents how Copula Hall was a sort of “border” for people to use to transfer between the two cities.
What We Learned
By contextualizing The City and the City into a world that we are all familiar with, we were able to see how these two cities were able to interact, and even overlap, to the point where it may have been impossible at times to notice a difference between inhabitants and even “breachers.” It is sometimes hard with novels like this to be able to visualize how the narrator wants you to see the story world, so we must take the facts that we know about the story and apply them to previously existing schemas that we have. After doing this exercise, the class had a better understanding of the two cities and how we are supposed to feel as both the readers and the narratees.
Tuesday began our discussion of our second novel, The City and the City by China Mieville.
Somewhere in eastern Europe exist two cities called Beszel and Ul Qoma. These cities are unusual in that they share the same geographic space but exist separately from each other. The citizens of each city must choose to “unsee” all aspects of the city they do not belong to, such as the buildings, people, etc. One day, a Besz detective named Tyador Borlu finds a young woman named Mahalia Geary dead in the street with her face disfigured. Borlu must work together with an Ul Qoman investigator named Qussim Dhatt to solve the case and along the way they discover that Mahalia was in Beszel working on an archeological dig and may have uncovered a secret that led to her murder.
The following outline is based on our first day of class discussion.
The City and the City
I found the legal entity in The City and the City to be particularly interesting. The citizens of Beszel and Ul Qoma do not choose to “unsee” each other because of religious, political, cultural or other differences, but simply because the law demands it of them. They are so afraid of Breach that they blindly follow the rules they are given without questioning the meaning behind them; they allow laws to shape their living narratives instead of writing them for themselves.
In modern society as well as historical, there is a fine line between how much the legal system should control our lives. Standing Bear left his reservation to create a better life for himself because he felt that as a human being and American citizen, he had to right to make that choice. However, because of the law, he was initially punished for it. On the other hand in “Moon”, “Sam Prime” chose (we assume) to have himself cloned over and over again and he was allowed to make that choice outside of laws that are already in place. So which situation is “right?” Both Standing Bear and Sam Prime own their bodies, shouldn’t they be able to transport them wherever they want, either from one Indian reservation to another or from Earth to the Moon? Should the citizens of Beszel and Ul Qoma be allowed to go freely from city to city without punishment? This is something I would like to explore further in our class discussions.
Although switching from a text based to visual medium for this project I decided to stick with the same court case as before–Citizens United v. FEC. I was sort of inspired by or just liked a lot of the faux propaganda videos that Paul Verhoeven often times puts into the movie he directs (namely the Starship Troopers and Robocop series) as a tool for satire. Trying to stay within my limits, I decided to due a rudimentary animation to try and imitate the tone (if not the style) of these faux propaganda videos.
I started by coming up with a general storyboard of how to frame and tell the story of Citizens United and it’s struggle in the Supreme Court. Since the amount of text we could use was limited, I tried to find 3 really strong quotes that summarized the story from start to finish more or less and also stood on their own. The emphasis of this video on the case was this notion that corporations are people and as such should be treated no differently and should be allowed all of the same rights.
From there I had to kind of land on a style that would be both doable (for me) and clear enough for the audience to read and understand it own screen. To achieve the previous mentioned effect of making corporations seem no different than people, I took a very literal route and actually gave human body parts to various corporate logos as a way of representing the company as a whole in a single entity. So I went about drawing and making art assets:
The cartoon style makes it a little kitschy and hopefully funny, but also makes certain things like landmarks or logos really stand out and be easily readable on screen. Since the video is satire, the story is told with corporations as the victims and Citizens United as the hero. As such, certain little things were added such as making Justice Stevens’ tie red (because he is “evil”) and vica versa for Justice Kennedy.
Next, I took all of these assets from Illustrator of Photoshop and moved them over into After Effects for animation. All of the motion and animation in general was made and edited together at this stage. Certain parts of the video were colored to reflect the sort of antiquated style of this type of propaganda video. Music was added, vaudeville piano to again match this antiquated feel.
After creating an analog remediation artifact, I was excited to create something digital for the visual remediation project. In my graphic design classes, we have talked a lot about kinetic typography and its use in advertising and information communication. I’ve always found it to be incredibly memorizing and entertaining, as it is both textual and visual. That is why I decided to remediate the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case into a visual representation of kinetic typography. In order to create this kinetic typography, I decided to use Prezi, an online presentation builder that allows users to work on a blank slate to create unique and interesting presentations through images, text, and paths.
Prezi was perfect for this visual assignment, for it gave me the opportunity to create an image through text. The image I created was a set of handcuffs and a key, linked by a Prezi path to move across the image word by word. Not only did this technique give me the opportunity to give a summary of the case, but it allowed me to use the summary to point out the most important aspect of the case: habeas corpus. By placing the words in the shape of handcuffs, I represented the side of the case where Hamdan was held at Guantanamo Bay, however, as the case summary progressed, the handcuffs begin to unlock. The final verdict of the case was written in the shape of a key that unlocked the cuffs, symbolizing that Hamdan was granted his writ of habeas corpus and set free.
I decided to focus on the part of the case that talked about habeas corpus, because I found that aspect the most interesting and most compelling. Because of his filing for a writ of habeas corpus, Hamdan was granted freedom and his original conviction was deemed unconstitutional. Although it is the main point of the case, I think the idea that an entire situation can change if a person is held unlawfully, no matter the situation. Because the attacks on September 11th were so emotionally charged, everyone was eager to point fingers and capture whomever was responsible for such a horrible act. While the Bush administration had plenty of reason to believe that Hamdan had plotted in favor of that attack, it was against military law to hold him for being an enemy combatant without sufficient evidence. It is from this that I learned that no matter the emotions or motives behind the capture of an “enemy,” it is important to understand the rights and privileges necessary to be sure that a writ of habeas corpus won’t end up voiding the conviction altogether.
What we covered in class this week?
1. Second Drafts of the Visual Remediation Projects
2. First Self- Assessment of Class Participation
3. Continuation of key point on Moon- Focalization
Working Drafts of Visual Remediation Project
This Tuesday in class we presented the second draft of our Visual Remediation Project. Dr. Wharton split us into two groups in order to receive dual feedback and allow the presenter a chance to see what their classmates could contribute to the finalizations of the projects. Vett’s Visual Remediation Project discussed Hamden and Rumsfield and how she wanted to incorporate smaller images about the case to create a larger portrait of Hamdan and Rumsfield. Emma had a great visual which used quotes about 911 from the case and put them with videos to show the contrast of actual day and how it is portrayed in the case.
First –Self Assessment of Class Participation
At the end of Tuesdays class we had 45 minutes to do our First Self-Assessment which allowed us to discuss our contributions to the class thus far.
Here is our class writing prompt that Dr. Wharton Posted during the week that gave the guidelines for the First-Self Assessment:
Think of this first self-evaluation as a kind of progress report. How do you think you are doing with regard to your class participation up to this point? What substantive contributions have you made? What are you doing well? What could you improve?
Your essay should demonstrate a clear awareness of the various ways to earn class participation credit outlined in the syllabus. It should identify the extent and quality of your various contributions in and out of class, offering specific examples in support of its claims, and it should have a clear thesis.
During the course of completing this first self-evaluation, you may realize that you are less than satisfied with your class participation so far. In that case, you should be honest in your evaluation and outline a concrete plan for how you intend to improve
As you can see this assignment allowed us to focus on the positives and negatives of our contributions to the class. I think this was very helpful because it allowed me and my fellow classmates to improve weaknesses and discover ways to help one another for the duration of the class.
Pros and Cons about First Self Assessment
Thursday in class we enjoyed a beautiful spring day outside where we continued our discussion about Moon. Though I was not present the class said they enjoyed the lecture outdoors and believed that the change of scenery was like a stimulant when discussing Moon. In order for me to discuss Thursdays class, we first need to discuss focalization. Focalization refers to the perspective of which the narration is being delivered from. From the movie one can see how the external focalization can sometimes affect the internal focalization, for example in the movie when the Sam that was in space called his daughter who had grown up and he could hear himself in the background say “who wants to know about your mother”. This represents the affect of external and internal focaliztion on one another. Thursdays class pretty much wrapped up our discussion on moon and created the transition to our new novel “The City and the City”.
During our outdoor class period we discussed moon and compared it to our cases and novels that we have been reading. Here is a link to the directors orgin of thinking behind the making of moon http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi3453682201/. He explains his train of thought behind the making of the movie and how they were able to pull it off.
In this Photo Which Sam is the focalizer? The one in the back or front, or it could possibly be Gerty. I like to think it’s the Sam in the front because of his posture and the fact that he could be talking to both of them with his back turned. Which also makes me think about the Sam in the back being the focalizer because in the photo he sees both Gerty and the Sam in the front.
Questions For Class:
When looking at the photo above who do you think is the focalizer? Why
When taking your First Self-Assessment did you get the feeling that you haven’t contributed enough?If so why?
How has your knowledge about focalization changed and how can you implement this knowledge toward other pieces that we have read?
The Visual Remediation project was a learning experience. Going into the project I did not know how to use imovie but I was excited for the chance to learn how to use it. It was fairly easy to figure out and with a little help from my roommate the majority of my time was spent making the movie as opposed to figuring out how to use the program. I was eager to start this project because I thought it would be very interesting to express an aspect of the case through visuals.
Original Idea: What I initially wanted to cover was the habeaus corpus aspect of Hamdan V Rumsfeld. I remembered that when reading the case that what Hamdan was charged for and what he actually had done was intriguing to me. The images that came to mind when reading the crimes that he was accused of were very stereotypical and not at all what actually happened. I planned on using visuals from the internet and quotes from the case that would show the contrast of what was thought and what actually transpired.
” ‘Charge: Conspiracy,’ contain allegations against Hamdan. Paragraph 12 charges that ‘from on or about February 1996 to on or about November 24, 2001,’ Hamdan ‘willfully and know- ingly joined an enterprise of persons who shared a common criminal purpose and conspired and agreed with [named members of al Qaeda] to commit the following offenses triable by military commission: attacking civil- ians; attacking civilian objects; murder by an unprivileged belligerent; and terrorism.’ App. to Pet. for Cert. 65a. There is no allegation that Hamdan had any command responsibilities, played a leadership role, or participated in the planning of any activity.’ “
I planed on showing pictures of the attack of the world trade center followed by what people may have visualized Hamdan’s actions to have been. Lastly, I would have provided pictures and evidence from the case to show what his job actually was.
Final Idea/Product: When presenting my stage 2 draft to the class, an emphasis on the attacks of September 11 themselves seemed to emerge. It was decided that it would be interesting to examine the representation of the devastating attack in the case itself. I found many quotes that involved September 11 which gave reason for declaring war as well as that it was a horrible event in our nations history. I found that some quotes were fairly “numb” while others were more “emotional”. An example of a more sterilized quote: “On September 11, 2001, agents of the al Qaeda terrorist organization hijacked commercial airplanes and attacked the World Trade Center in New York City …” There were more descriptive/emotional quotes as well such as: “The charge against the petitioner here is joining and actively abetting the murderous conspiracy that slaughtered thou- sands of innocent American civilians without warning on September 11, 2001.”
I wanted to show images and video clips of the actual day and mourning combined with the quotes about the tragedy to give an interesting perspective/contrast of emotion and fact.
Once I decided to focus on Citizen’s United v. FEC, I knew immediately that I wanted to choose a strong quote from Justice Stevens’ dissent. I wanted to illuminate what Justice Stevens saw as the lack of careful thought when considering the consequences of allowing corporations to spend money on products that support or oppose political candidates. The quote I chose that I felt best represented the dissent was, “While American Democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of money in corporate politics.” Within this quote, I saw four distinct images: American Democracy, majority of the court, flaws, and corporate money in politics. I decided to compile a video collage of news sources as the medium for this artifact because I felt that the media would represent the supporting and opposing public opinions at the time well.
1. “While American Democracy is imperfect…” – for this image I used the video “Is it Just Corporate Free Speech?” The clip I focused on is that of a Republican senator who supported the decision of the majority in Citizens United v. FEC. The narrator in the video points out that Senator Jim deMint is known for making fun of the Democratic Party by calling it the Democrat Party, so much so that he slips up in this interview and calls it the “Democrat process” instead of Democratic process. I felt this was a play on the meaning of the quote as well as an example of how some of the majority supporters did not understand the implications of the decision.
2. “…few outside the majority of this court…” – this video was taken from MSNBC breaking news report. It is a report on the majority decision in the case of Citizens United v. FEC. I felt that it represented the quote because the reporter’s tone of voice as well as the way he describes the decision are tinged with disbelief and disagreement – meaning he probably agrees with the dissent and is literally one of the “few outside of the court majority.”
3. “…would have thought its flaws included…” – I wanted to include not only serious media sources, but also popular political parodies such as the Colbert Report because they reflect the humor of the public. This clip is related to Citizens United v. FEC in that Colbert has had himself legally declared a Super PAC and is now accepting monetary donations. I believe he is poking fun at the majority decision and what the dissent considers a “flaw” in the system.
4. “…a dearth of corporate money in politics.” – the best choice for the finale was to go back to the beginning: “Hillary: the Movie“. The image of political dolls is compared to “Hillary: the Movie” as a way that corporate funds can be spent in support of or against political candidates. While the overall message of the video is in support of the majority, the dolls are a comical example that suggest corporate money wasted on political gains.
Identity Loss Standing Bear V Crook
My first idea when given the chance to create a digital media file about the case Standing Bear Vs.Crook , was to express the court decision. I quickly changed my mind because the focus of identity, or lack their of, came to my attention. In order to show a major part of the case, I created a media digital file of an Indian posing as Standing Bear. I also incorporated a robot which expresses what people become when they conform to the wants of others or the masses. My ultimate goal was to use the digit media as an outlet for the expression of the case in order to captivate an audience and provoke a more profound thought about what a true identity is.
When constructing the media file I had to think about how to illustrate identity loss and whether or not my delivery would be affective. I created an image of an Indian and as I drew him, I snapped pictures of my progress. The reason I did this was to create the affect of a person being made and taken away. When looking at the media clip the first image is Standing Bear as a whole but as the clip continues he slowly starts to disappear, which is representative of his heritage and his identity in the case. Once Standing Bear has disappeared, the drawings of the robot begin, and the slow transition of the robot being formed represents how Standing Bears new Identity was gradually created. The robot represents the new Standing Bear which is now accepted and deemed a person. I am also playing on the question of, “what is really a person”? When creating this clip I thought about the movie transformers and how we, the audience form a human-like compassion for the characters in the movie because in some way they represent people though they are in fact robots. This correlates to my digital expression because society in the case can connect more with the “New Standing Bear “. So does a man have to lose his identity to be accepted by society?
I also added instrumentals in the digital media clip which was an idea I received from Dr.Wharton. I believe not adding words in this clip was better for the delivery, because it forces the audience to connect my visual expression to the emotions evoked by the instrumentals. The first song is a more traditional Native American and as the transition takes place one can hear the innovation in the instrumental and see the change of the direction of the clip. This helps the audience to create an opinion and ultimately pick a side. This opinion would force one to basically pick between Avant-Garde and Kitsch.
Right Click Link Below to open:
Final Version of Visual Remediation Project
Summary of Hamdan v. Rumseld
In the case, Plaintiff Salim Hamdan, previous bodyguard and chauffeur for Osama bin Ladin, is captured and sent to Guantanamo Bay . Later, Hamdan filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus saying that the way he would be tried would be illegal. In 2006, The Supreme Court decided that President George W. Bush did not have authority to establish these war time tribunals and the way Hamdan would be tried was illegal under the Geneva Conventions and military justice law.
Inspiration for the Visual
As stated at this link about habeas corpus, the term literally means ”you have the body” in Latin. And “Prisoners often seek release by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. A writ of habeas corpus is a judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he should be released from custody. A habeas corpus petition is a petition filed with a court by a person who objects to his own or another’s detention or imprisonment…” (The Lectric Law Library, 2012). I understood Hamdan’s yearning for proper treatment because regardless of the duties he performed for Osama bin Ladin or Afghanistan, he is still a person who has the rights that all people deserve. To emphasize the idea of “having a body,” I made my visual a collage that is one large image (or body) made up of many smaller parts (or identities).
The Formation of Rumsfeld
Rumsfeld Original Collage
Although Rumsfeld is the Defendant, I wanted to show how his “body” or image is made up of many small parts. Therefore, I built the first collage with images that relate to Rumsfeld in the case and outside of the case. Some of the images are of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, the American flag, and Hamdan (placed on his mind). The background photo is an image of Rumsfeld looking puzzled but focused on all of these images, as I am sure he was during the case.
Final Rumsfeld Collage
Then, I used the “Rumsfeld Original Collage” to create the “Final Rumsfeld Collage” that has a background image of Rumsfeld’s side profile (to show how he is facing in one direction of the case).
The Formation of Hamdan
Hamdan Original Collage
When creating Hamdan’s collage, I wanted to focus on his many identities that all create Hamdan the person. For his image, I included photos of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, Middle Eastern families, Hamdan’s attorney, the most commonly used image of Hamdan/his public perception, and the American flag. For the background image, I chose to use a “scripted” photo of Hamdan in his role as a driver, his main occupation. Also, Hamdan’s background image is facing in the opposite direction of Rumsfeld, to show their differing views in the case.
The Final Collage
For the Final Version of the project (made in Adobe Photoshop), I embedded the “Hamdan Original Collage” into the “Final Rumsfeld Collage” to represent how both sides are in the case or canvas. Besides their differing directions, the Hamdan collage is also smaller to represent how he is an individual as opposed to an enormous U.S. government (Rumsfeld). Lastly, I decided to incorporate three quotations from the text that relate to habeas corpus and Hamdan’s loosely clarified identity. The top quotation is a “suggestion from Hamdan” about his rights as a human. Overall, the visual should evoke a sense of blurred images and multiple definitions, which was the message that I got from the case about Hamdan’s pursuit for a legal and fair trial.