Audience Participation // FMP

A few things I’ve found.  I really like the idea of getting people involved in my project.  I think I wrote before about it not being a passive topic, or a passive thing to be viewed, but more something to be understood by the viewer on a more personal level.  It needs to be personal.

Fear Tactics // FMP

Oh boy isn’t everyone tired of hearing about Brexit and Trump but whatever, here I go.

Image result for jean ralphio the worst gif

Donald Trump is a fool and Brexit is our most foolish endeavour.  There, I said it.  Two of the most polarising subjects in the Western World at the moment.  The thoughts of American citizens lie with Trump, and ours are on Brexit.  There’s too much fear and sensationalist news articles for anyone to be able to know anything.  The Brexit campaign was based on some untruths (said through gritted teeth at the very least), but it worked.  Why?  How did a campaign with so few relative facts and figures win?  A red bus emblazoned with dodgy stats about raking in millions more pounds for the NHS has since proved to be lies, and it’s all turning out a little bit shit.  If the people up the top with degrees in Economics, Political Science, or EU Law had no idea whether to pick Leave or Stay, how are the UK peasant folk (this includes myself) expected to react?  They will react in the way that people normally do when threatened, which is to lash out and shun the outsiders (here meaning refugees and immigrants), and they voted for a solution based on border control ergo fewer immigrants ergo safer jobs/housing/money/banks etc., but we just know that’s not how it works.

Let’s take a quote from Hermann Goring on how to whip up the populous into voting for and putting their faith in something quite sinister.

“The people don’t want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  This is easy.  All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, ad denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger.  It works the same in every country.”

Are the similarities not achingly similar?  God damn it’s too much.

Besides, for me this is all about how your personal position on a topic can be influenced, even without you realising.  It’s about personal preference and personal choice.  By encouraging the viewer to perceive the world through different eyes is that not how we reach greater levels of understanding?  Reading an infinite number of articles on Facebook that may or may not be true, I would argue is making us blind to the real facts of the matter.  Fundamentally we are all human beings with similar needs, and ultimately our position in this life is determined largely before we’re born.  But what if the viewer was encouraged to view or understand themselves in a different way?  In a way that meant that they understood their position in relation to a given topic based on something more real rather than fear tactics or frightening statistics that nobody quite understands?

After speaking with Matt, he said:

What’s missing from your email is the ‘what’.
What are your viewers being asked to position themselves on? Where’s the bit where your viewer empathises, and as a result, becomes uncomfortable?
Are you:
a) Creating an experience that promotes reflection on the nature of positioning and influence in general terms – i.e. the information content is predominantly factual, and maybe deals with stuff like cognitive bias, subliminal messaging, body language etc.
Viewers are directed around your way-finding points with simple exercises that illustrate some of these principles.
b) Creating an experience where the viewer is directed to position themselves within a topic, and the way-finding is more about you curating that personal journey for them.
c) A mix of the two, where the general principles behind your idea form the touch points for the viewer to position themselves on a topic.
I think for me the whole thing is about how to bring those things together.  It’s about how the audience understands it and reacts to it, which will be entirely different based on the viewer themselves.  By navigating through some story or map, I would like the outcome of this to promote questioning, or as a way-finding exercise through some overarching ‘story’.

Something that means people realise at the end that they have in fact made a choice, whether they were aware of it or not.  I just need to find the ‘Something’. 

Choose Your Own Adventure // FMP

After another tutorial with Matt, I’ve surmised that life is one great ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book.  In essence, our lives are made up of the choices we make and the allegiances we take, but also the things we didn’t do or the choices we didn’t want to take.  Each one altering the outcome and the journey together – each choice altering the next choice, or the next hurdle, and so on and so forth.

The stories themselves are formatted so that, after a couple of pages of reading, the protagonist faces a number of options, each of which leads to more options, and then to one of many endings.  The number of endings is not set, and varies from as many as 44 in the early titles, to as few as 8 in later adventures. There is no clear pattern among the various titles regarding the number of pages per ending, the ratio of good to bad endings, or the reader’s progression backwards and forwards through the pages of the book. This allows for a realistic sense of unpredictability, and leads to the possibility of repeat readings, which is one of the distinguishing features of the books.

The idea that our choices effect outcomes is something I really want to convey in this project, as with a lot of what goes on around us it can be more subliminal than people are aware of.  It’s that old analogy of “blink and you’ll miss it” with regards to a life well lived for example, but that’s no good to me if I want to create an awareness in people that they needn’t shuffle around with their eyes closed.  It’s also whether this is done purposefully or not.  That’s not to say that nobody has any idea of anything, but I would feel confident in suggesting that a lot of things tend to go unnoticed or ignored until it’s rather too late.  Communicating the aspect of choice in this whole scenario is really important to the project, but I need to pick something that encourages the viewers to make that choice.

With the current political climate (i.e. Brexit, Trump, & Terrorism), it’s easy to pick a polarising subject and get people to fight about which one is the best.  That’s easy.  Getting people to understand their viewpoints, that their opinions are more nuanced than a binary yes or no.  Stay or Leave in Brexit’s case.  That’s harder.  The way in which the mass media works is that it often capitalises on fear, or populist subjects that usually cause passionate responses.  Post a factual article with no buzzwords and people might take notice.  Post some sensationalistic and scandalous tale about terrorism, or plotting some MP against her UKIP rival because they were arguing about the EU and all of a sudden people are baying for blood and it’s far, far more interesting.  Then they can report on that instead, call out someone for being too Right or too Left, and the cycle goes around and around and around.

How do you get people to pause?  How do you get people to notice?  Perhaps most importantly, how do you get people to understand the affect that this has on them?  It’s cause and effect, but at the moment I can’t figure out in which direction it goes in.

Does the mass media reflect society, or are we a reflection of it?  Is it a commentary on us and our lives, or is it a command?

Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to a dictatorship.” – Noam Chomsky.

Image result for journey under the sea ra montgomery

42 possible endings – limitless fun!

Way-Finding & Interactivity // FMP

After talking about way-finding and stories etc., I thought it might be really interesting to use this sort of thing.  The level of engagement with the audience or viewer is something I’d really like to have, as rather than my final major project be something one dimensional I think it can only really work at its best by having tangible interaction from the viewer.  The nature of my project itself is not passive, it’s not about standing by and waiting for the weather to change – it’s about understanding your position, yourself, in a wider context – for me the best way of achieving this is through interaction.  This is along the lines I was thinking of about playing with scale, and not just using my one solitary corner in the degree show but rather having elements around the entire building if I’m allowed!
In terms of how this could work with my subject choice, I’ve been playing around with having some sort of dispensing system alongside a map that either gives people a choice or a command – and it’s up to them what they do with the information.  The whole thing will come back to my ‘space’ in the degree show, which I think I’m leaning towards having a wall similar to the infographic style attached and some printed materials that cause unbalance in the viewer, or give them the opportunity to question their personal position in a way that they’d not done before.
For example in the big stairwells in B Block, having big signs that say “Nothing to see up here…” (even though they lead to other floors, of course) or little notices around the entire exhibition that aren’t necessarily confusing but aren’t exactly helpful i.e. sifting your way through an inordinate amount of information daily in order to find what’s truthful and/or relevant, which of course is different for each viewer anyway.
I’ve been working too with the idea of those ‘choose your own adventure’ books, and how this could work into my idea – what you get is based on your choices, that is if you’re able to choose for yourself!
It’s all *quite* loose at the moment, but I’m getting there slowly.  It’s been changing ever so slightly each time I have a tutorial or a cornerstone-thought, something will slightly change my course but it’s all very close knit.
Current mood: Eager.

Post-Truth // FMP

I have since found myself at this TV advertisement from 1964, part of Lyndon Johnson’s campaign for President of the United States.

It’s been widely described as one of the most controversial and effective political adverts in US history, and it’s easy to see why.  There is zero fact, it runs on emotional triggers and fear.

2017 Trump campaign anyone?

Something to Think About // FMP

Societal norms and how this impacts our decision making process in relation to how we project ourselves and assess our self-worth.

“Social norms or mores are the rules of behaviour that are considered acceptable in a group or society. People who do not follow these norms may be shunned or suffer some kind of consequence. Norms change according to the environment or situation and may change or be modified over time.”

Mass media and its impact on our understanding and collective consciousness – how are we impacted by what we see around us?  Do we make conscious decisions based on this or are we ‘groomed’ into thinking a certain way?

How does a Culture of Fear in modern media impact our general well-being and how we perceive the world around us.  Is it positive or negative?  What is the impact?

In what ways do we ‘choose’ a path.  Are we simply pin-balled between ideas and information at random, eventually finding a path that is linear in line with social norms and what is ‘expected’.  How much of our actions are choice?  How much is inaction?

How does the media influence our perception of what is normal?  What would happen if we were left to our own devices and encouraged to make decisions for ourselves, free from the influence of what is being told to us?

Media provides new information that persuades individuals to accept it (individual channel), but also, media informs listeners about what others learn, thus facilitating coordination (social channel).

Pessimism, Optimism, empathy and sympathy.

Is the media responsible for the dissemination of facts, or as an influential tool of governments and organisations to impact what is considered normal?

“Social norms marketing includes marketing techniques, such as mass media and face-to-face campaigns, that are designed to alter individuals’ perceptions of social norms, specifically perceptions of attitudes and behaviours that are typical or desirable in their community.”

“Public information not only causes individuals to update their personal beliefs, but
also allows them to update their beliefs about how widely these beliefs are shared (Morris
and Shin, 2002). That is, public information is used to know that others received the information, and that everyone who received the information knows that everybody else that received the information knows this, and so on, creating common knowledge. In this vein, some authors argue that “attempts to change public behaviours by changing private attitudes will not be effective unless some effort is also made to bridge the boundary between the public and the private.”

“So what is identity? For starters, we technically are not born with identity; it is a socially constructed attribute.  The self-concept, which is the knowledge of who we are, combines with self awareness to develop a cognitive representation of the self, called identity (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2010, p.118).  In other words, who we are is controlled by internal and external factors that combine to make us who we become. Add in new media outlets, such as the internet, and media is now considered an “extension of everyday life and a tool of cultural change” (Singh, 2010).  Thus, identity formation, as a social concept, is being transformed in new and even more global ways.”

Cause and effect between Social Norms and Mass Media.
Does Mass Media simply act as a mirror to our social norms, or are our social norms dictated to us by the media?