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Botticelli’s Primavera

Digital Story Title: Botticelli’s Primavera: A Why Done It Mystery

Brief description:

This DST looks at popular interpretations of Botticelli’s Primavera by art historians, while examining the topic of what makes someone a subject matter expert. The platform for this DST is a Why Done It court case in which the experts take the stand, and the counsel asks the question, “How do we know what we know?” and “What makes a person an expert?” The DST concludes with the jury stating their ruling on the case.

Main goal(s):

  • To provide an introductory level awareness of the popularly accepted interpretations of Botticelli’s Primavera.
  • To introduce/educate viewers on what makes a person/art historian an expert.
  • To introduce/educate viewers on how art historians come up with their theories/hypothesizes about art.
  • To empower viewers to conduct their own investigations into works of art.

Who is your intended audience? (e.g., colleagues, historians, art historians, the general public, high school history students, middle school music students, art students. . . )

Since this DST presents an introductory level of information, it would work best for general audiences, such as in a museum setting as part of an exhibit on Botticelli.  It could also be used as an educational resource for educators introducing middle school/high school students to the study of art history.

Category: Final Summary  Comments off

After reading the articles on copyright law, copyright appears to be very complex and easy to violate. It seems very daunting for a layman to understand. I thought the article, “Copyright Basics” did a nice job at helping to explain copyright in an easy to understand manner. It may not be enough to defend myself in a legal battle, but at least it was a good starting point. Even though I’ve heard the term Fair Use before, I didn’t fully understand it and thought it allowed for more leniency, especially in the area of educational usage.  There seems to be a lot of gray areas, and areas of ‘case by case basis’, which again, sounds like a lawsuit. Not encouraging when making a digital story.

As for the duration of copyright protection, this too seems to be a complicated matter due to the different categories of which material falls under. I imagine copyright will continue to evolve and grow even more complicated with the quickly changing mediums being introduced. With the introduction of the internet, growing copyright infringement is also an issue that will most likely not go away anytime soon. Overall, reading about copyright made the idea of being creative seem a lot less exciting, and a lot more risky. Unless you are only working with original material, it seems like a lot of effort will need to go into researching and understanding copyright issues before you can publish your efforts.

From the point of view of the originator of the work, I found it interesting that copyright is automatically secured from the moment of creation. Now I understand why there are court cases about different parties (such as members of a band) arguing over who was the originator of a work. I can imagine how fuzzy this can get when dealing with mediums such as music and dance.

Finally, I found the article, “Tell Me a Digital Story” very interesting. I never would have thought about DST being used by marketing and advertising firms so heavily. It somehow seems unfair that large corporations are making money off of everyday people by exploiting their stories without compensating them. I’m sure the advertising firms must love DST. They’re getting paid good money with little to no creative effort needed up front. This article did make me think about who is the original owner of the work. Depending on whether the company sends a recording device to the home of the storyteller, or goes to the home of the storyteller to record themselves, or pays the storyteller to record the narrative, will all effect the outcome of copyright authorship. I think…

Category: W13: Copyright  Comments off
More challenges than progress at this point

The concept for my final has gone through several evolutions since my original idea pitch, so one of the main challenges I’ve faced is to keep evolving my concept of visuals, dialogue, and audience with each modification of my idea. Originally, I planned to do a historiography of the Sandro Botticelli’s painting, Primavera.  While this may make for a great research paper, it wasn’t translating as well to a digital story. The main challenge was a lack of visual imagery to span the in-depth research that would be necessary to narrate. Overall, the digital story ran the risk of being flat and monotonous. The next evolution of my idea consisted of lightening up the amount of information presented, and approaching the delivery through the concept of a mystery. This opened up the potential for more visual variety, but the variety would come in the form of text shots, not imagery, and the script was still too long to fit the ten minute format.  So now I have arrived at approaching the topic from the perspective of a Why Done It (playing on the concept of a Who Done It).  It will be presented as a court case, with the attorney bringing ‘expert testimony’ to the stand to interpret the painting. This alters the original idea pitch in that it not only presents a surface level introduction to Primavera’s interpretations, but it also introduces critical thinking about what makes someone an ‘expert’ and how art historians form new theories/hypotheses regarding art. Thus, my audience has changed from a scholarly body of viewers, to a more general audience who are new to the study of art history.

The feedback I’ve gotten so far has been really helpful, but I feel like I won’t know if I’m on target until I actually start seeing all the pieces come together in production. Being new to DST, I don’t have a good handle on the technical knowledge yet, so I’m not sure how long it will take me to do each part. I plan to get the parts that need to be coordinated done first, such as recording the voice over dialogue. I have a feeling everything will take twice as long as I anticipate. My biggest concern is how to deal with any unforeseen issues that may crop up in the week or two before final presentations.

Interactive Storytelling Environments

After reading this week’s articles, I came to the conclusion that storytelling in an interactive environment can mean there is not one main author who is taking the audience along for the ride. Rather, there is a blurry line between the role of author, and the role of audience. In fact, in some examples, the participants alternated between roles, feeding off of each other’s contributions. Does this make interactive storytelling better than traditional forms of storytelling? Not necessarily. Just different. I think there are pros and cons to both formats. In an interactive environment, I can jump around between different characters, topics of interest, media formats (text, video, audio), etc. However, as others have pointed out, the narrative may not be as developed, or I may find grammatical errors in the writing.

As for its impact on academic writing and argument, I think if we can be open-minded to storytelling in an interactive environment, we may find new and innovative ways of presenting scholarly ideas without reducing the quality of the content or limiting the scope of the discussions that stem from the introduction of the topic. I’m sure there are academic sites based on area of expertise where participants act as both presenter and critic, featuring forums for discussion and refinement of ideas. Since most scholars require to be published, this would be a great way to get feedback from peers at a global level.

Finally, I thought the article Before Every Child Is Left Behind really hit home with several of the discussions we’ve had in class recently. It addressed the need for innovative thinking, the lack of innovative education going on in the classroom, the difficulty of working epistemic games into a curriculum focused on standardized teaching and testing, and how devastating this will be to the future of our nation. I felt like I was reading a future chapter from a history book that describes how the U.S. fell from grace as a superpower. Unfortunately, I don’t think the government is in tune enough to recognize and address the issue in a timely fashion. Their mainstay opinion appears to be that art, music, games and technology is fluff, not fundamental education.  Instead, it will be up to the consumers and private industry to drive these changes. As Shaffer pointed out , this then links education to class, dividing the wealthy from the poor.

Category: W9: Interactivity  Comments off
Botticelli’s Primavera

For my DST, I was trying to decide between two ideas. One had stronger visual resources, while the other had a stronger narrative. I decided to go with the idea that had the stronger narrative and take on the challenge of finding creative ways to address the narrow scope of visual resources. Here is my final project concept:

Late in the fifteenth century, Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli painted a sizable work which depicted nine figures in a lush orchard. This scene would be the catalyst for a wide spectrum of conflicting interpretation throughout the painting’s history. My DST will present a historiography of the interpretations associated with Sandro Botticelli’s painting, the Primavera, addressing the more influential interpretations occurring from the late 19th century to modern day. This will include art historians such as Aby Warburg, E.H. Gombrich, Edgar Wind, and Charles Dempsey. The DST will analyze the changing interpretations of the painting, along with the literary sources that support each interpretation. The goal will be to present the information in a non-biased manner and let the viewers decide for themselves which interpretations seem most viable.

The biggest challenge faced with this concept is the lack of visual imagery to fill the time span of the DST since it focuses on one specific painting. Due to the date of the painting, there aren’t a lot of images of the artist, or the authors of the literary sources. Therefore, the DST would be primarily close ups and text. The concept of reenactments was suggested, but I’m not sure how this may work. Therefore, I think I may approach the DST as more of a mystery, and make it less academic and more educational in nature.

The Colosseum

Using Animoto is a great lesson in simplifying one’s filmmaking aspirations. I started by making a ‘test’ movie just so I understood how Animoto worked and what the end product would look like. Using the photos from my Story In 5 Photos, I created a surprisingly comical movie of my dogs eating. It was mostly comical because I wasn’t expecting the ‘polishing’ results of Animoto. With this first movie under my belt, I was excited to create my two minute short.

I thought it would be fun to do an educational movie on a piece of art or architecture. While making my test movie, I noticed a short video clip of the Colosseum, and wanted to try experimenting with the addition of video within my images. After gathering all my images and educational facts on the Colosseum, I sat down to begin creating my two minute movie. Immediately I was hit with the limitations of Animoto, particularly the text limitation. I had to modify my original ideas of the text I wanted to include to meet the restricted character limits. I also quickly realized the length of the movie and the speed of the images are dependent on the music choice. As for transitions, it seems to be randomly generated, and not a creative choice the movie maker can impart.

Overall, Animoto is a fun program for making basic movies. I think I could probably improve on the quality of my future movies now that I understand the limitations of the program. I would rely less on the need for text, and more on the need for strong, linear imagery. This exercise helped me to refocus my expectations for my final project, and think more about the visual components that will be necessary.

Please enjoy my movie on the Colosseum by clicking here.

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Category: W5: Animoto  4 Comments
Goals of the Filmmaker

Murder at Harvard tells the story of author Simon Schama’s investigation into the trial of Harvard professor John Webster for the murder of Dr. George Parkman.  It is based on the second half of Schama’s book, Dead Certainties.

When analyzing the film, I think it is important to keep Eric Strange’s article Shooting Back in mind. Strange writes about the dilemma faced during the planning phase of the film due to the lack of available imagery and conclusive historical evidence. How does a filmmaker convert the written word into film when faced with the issue of footage shortage? How does he keep the topic as fascinating on film as it was on paper? The creative forces behind Murder at Harvard decided to resolve these issues by approaching the gaps in knowledge and imagery as imaginative speculation on the part of author Simon Schama. Simon openly speculates and hypothesizes theoretical events and actions, which leads to character reenactments throughout the film. Strange writes, “What history on TV and film does best is entertain and engage while issuing an invitation to the viewer to learn more. What it lacks in depth it makes up for in reach.”  The result was a film that entertained while it informed, even if the information being presented was from the perspective of Simon Schama. The reenactments were hokey at times, but it kept the storyline moving and helped to clarify the characters and events. Without these reenactments, there is a strong possibility that the film would have been too boring to keep viewers engaged until the end. Strange admits he is not sure if the film should be considered history or drama, but that doesn’t appear to be the goal of the film. Strange says, “We only hope that it will be entertaining enough to keep viewers from switching the channel and, if we really do our jobs, intriguing enough to send them to a library.” If Strange, Schama, and company are successful at turning viewers on to history, and engaging people to investigate the trial thoroughlyenough to draw their own conclusions, then to some degree, this film is successful at educating in an indirect manner.

This concept also brings to light Willingham’s article, The value/problem of showing popular movies of historical events in class. Willingham’s research appears to support the power of visually imagery on comprehension. He states that as long as the inaccuracies are specifically pointed out, the use of films for educational purposes can be beneficial. Schama deliberately points out the parts in his film which are parts of departure from historical evidence, so perhaps Willinghams’ same line of reasoning can be applied to the casual viewer watching Murder at Harvard for both entertainment and educational purposes.

From What I Can Tell…

The art of digital storytelling is still a relatively new practice. Therefore, it appears the definition of a digital story can be as varied and flexible as the medium itself. The University of Houston website defines digital storytelling as the “practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories.” This very basic definition leaves itself open for the many different examples that fit into the category of a digital story. Visual imagery is usually a main component of a digital story, and fittingly, one of the best ways to define a digital story is to begin by watching examples of digital stories that have been made by others. Most examples contain a combination of images, text, and music or voice-over narration. Depending on the complexity of the story, it may also incorporate sound and/or video clips.

In many ways, digital storytelling is very similar to traditional storytelling. It is usually based on a specific point of view, and focuses on a particular theme or topic. However, unlike traditional storytelling in the format of a published book, digital storytelling can be done by a novice and still reach a wide audience anywhere in the world. Essentially all that is needed is an audience with internet access. The digital story can be retold for the duration that it is accessible in a consistent format. This means that people can tell any story which is of interest to them. Perhaps it is a personal narrative, a memoriam, an educational piece, amateur video of an important event, or an opinion piece on a broader topic affecting the local or global community. Digital storytelling provides a platform for personal expression that is possible for any person living in almost any place which melds with today’s practice of multi-sensory communication and advanced technology. It is my assumption that we will continue to see the medium evolve and refine as technology becomes more advanced.

Dinner Is Served

Analysis of a DST: The Reality of Television

The Digital Story I chose for this assignment is titled, “The Reality of Television.” It is from the University of Houston website on Educational Uses for Digital Storytelling. The website offers many examples of DST that range in length and theme. I chose “The Reality of Television” from the page featuring Pop Culture digital stories. The DST in this group were created by graduates students enrolled in a course covering the educational uses of digital photography which was being taught in conjunction with a course on Popular Culture in education. I found these digital stories to be compelling since they were being made by students in a class make-up similar to ours.

“The Reality of Television” is a commentary piece that asks the viewer to take a critical look at what television means to its audience, as well as the ‘reality’ of the content that is being viewed. It is comprised of a combination of slides, voice over narrative, and background music. The content of the transitioning slides coincides with the content of the narration. A female voice is the narrator for this digital story. She lists the types of images and subject matter she is able to view when watching television, ranging from information programming to entertainment value shows. She then quotes mainstream opinions on the value of television. Next, she asks the question, “Why is television important to you?” A series of short sound clips that feature individuals giving opinion based answers are voiced over images that correlate to their responses. Finally, the female narrator sums up her story with a final commentary on the content of television as it relates to modern day society.

Technically, the movie put together well. The voice over narration is easy to understand, and the sounds clips between the different speakers are transitioned smoothly. The visual transitions of the slides fit nicely with the timing of the narration, and the pacing of the slide images/transitions are good as well. The content of the images make sense with the topic being discussed and all the parts fit smoothly together as a whole. Both the content of the narration and visual imagery make for a compelling digital story.