TROTS: “Trope” + “BOTS”

So this week’s readings left me saying, “Huh??” I was really confused about what I had in front of me. I first started reading “BOTS.” I learned a little background information before beginning the learning experience. I learned that it is considered one of the oldest e-lit genres, and is used commonly in social media applications like Twitter and Tumblr. When I clicked on “BOTS”, it led me to make a choice from 12 different selections. As I kept clicking on each one, I noticed that the authors ranged from Dublin, Ireland to Pennsylvania, USA to Israel. I started off with “Real Human Praise.” When I clicked on the work website, it took me to a Twitter page that said “Account suspended as a result of violating official Twitter rules.” So I have no idea what that was about, although the video displayed a bunch of tweets with #PraiseFOX all over the page. One of the tweets read “Fox News Sunday is a warm and quirky comedy that never condescends to its eccentric characters.” I can’t tell if the page was overflowing with sarcasm or it was just my assumption. Then, it was “Tiny Star Field.” This page’s bio included “a small window of stars periodically throughout the day and night.” And the word website just showed a collection of star patterns throughout the page. That confused me. The third was “Poem.exe.” This page made a little more sense to me, as each post reflected a poem consisting of two or three lines, sometimes four…”coffee brewing, full of autumn, I found myself.” Lastly, “The Way Bot.” I was curious about the github project page, but didn’t understand what it was about so I backed out of there. The tweets were equally disorienting. “I like it when brits can turn flip right into an American accent” to “I like it when you talk like that, it makes a girl go mad.” What? I couldn’t understand what the connection was between any of the tweets. It was randomness taken to another level.

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The next adventure was taken to “Trope.” This was really interesting. At first, it took me to an 8:48 second audio link that I still can’t make any sense of whatsoever. I heard really weird sounds, and it jumped to women speaking. Again, I felt lost, like there was no link between anything. “I’m not going to the dentist until the apocalypse comes.” I have no idea where that came from, but hey, I am four weeks into reading e-lit and I have learned that a lot of it is supposed to be distorted, it’s done on purpose. (At least I think so, or maybe I am going crazy 😉 ) She continued on saying, “When my gums bleed and my teeth fall out, I will gather them up…” All I can say is, OW! That will be horrible, but it’s her teeth, she can do what she wants with them. Towards the end, there were a lot of short audio clips of various sounds that kept cutting off and blending into another sound. After the audio finished, I was taken to a world, a map created by Second Life. It’s a virtual (obviously) platform where people make avatars and make friends, explore and have fun! It was a whole new realm with really fun places listed on the side. A few on the list were the Totally 80s Club, Surfside Hideaway, Inspire Dance Planet, and Dreamy Days HUB and Hangout. Fully customizable avatars with outfits and looks were provided, even thousands of 3D environments and fun events. And let me tell you, the places I listed (and a lot I haven’t listed) are places I would definitely go to (if it were real.) It was a world to teleport to, to maybe escape reality and go to a land far away that lets you make friends, discover, travel and live like there’s no tomorrow (virtually of course). It can be done anywhere whether in a country club, a beach, a desert or even the Garden of Eden. It was pretty cool and intriguing, considering that so much life can occur through a virtual medium especially with so much creativity behind each location and destination.

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All in all, this week’s readings were a whole new journey again. I guess I need to start getting used to being wowed every week because every time, I just don’t know what to say. I am left speechless, confused, intrigued, fascinated, and most of all, educated in something I never had any history in. Just enjoying every moment of this new experience while “in flat sunset light, shadows speak, warm-hearted.” (“Poem.exe”, BOTS)

Breaking Boundaries and SyNRGizing: The Trip of “Trope”and Creation in “Bots”

Breaking Boundaries: The Trip of Trope

“If it’s obvious in what it says then I escape from my fingertips,” the fox (muskrat?)-man says in the final frame of “Trope,” when he is inside the magnified, green path of a giant lady-bug’s wanderings. There is nothing obvious about “Trope.” It was designed to break the boundaries of reading linearly. It is supposed to be a visual trip that includes kinetic language.

In “Trope,” I was navigated around different landscapes. Only the last two frames made (some) sense. In the penultimate frame, we have a female figure who seems to be reading from a large book (or placards) after her shoeless self flies inside a snow globe and stands inside a cozy lodge. The figure indicates that Black Riding Hood has killed the wolf and she has snuggled up inside it “right up to its eye sockets.” So I’m supposed to think about disparate ideas, about breaking conventions, flipping the script, so to speak? This follows the notion of “trawling for shoes in Manhattan” while “people are dying [due to] Katrina.” Is the author making a statement about how sordid the world is? That’s what happens, right? There are hurricanes and famines while people stand blithely by in other landscapes, doing banal things like taking selfies.

What I found REALLY weird about this piece is when I started to hear Captain and Tennille (who apparently are recently divorced; they stayed together in the non-romantic union for almost 40 years not to disappoint the fans!) It was in the scene where there is a firework show for a “Daze” party. I’ve never heard this tune before, so I was pretty shocked to hear it was about super-affectionate muskrats. Here is a full rendering of the weird “Muskrat Love,” made popular by the duo in 1976:

Muskrat Love by Captain and Tennille

In the introduction to the song, Tennille says that the duo performed “Muskrat Love” at the White House for the bicentennial, in front of the Prince Phillip and the Queen of England. Henry Kissinger was stonily mad. I get it. What the heck? They couldn’t play “Love Will Keep Us Together”? They performed a song about extremely amorous muskrats, Suzie and Sam?

Perhaps the creator of “Trope” wanted the viewer to think about absurdities? Right after the song is played, there are a medley of excerpts played from a boombox: McArthur’s Park (Donna Summer), Together Forever (Rick Astley) and “Mr. Tambourine Man” (Bob Dylan). There is a similarity between “Muskrat Love” and the last song: the mentioning of “jingle jangle.” I’ve not heard “Mr. Tambourine Man” many times before, but hallucinating due to drugs seems to be a possible meaning. That brings us to the trippy vibe of “Trope.” Am I supposed to step outside of my senses and experience it? How is that even possible? I think it could be if I played it in real-time, VR-mode. That would allow for a better suspension of my own self.

My idea that “Tropes” is about breaking conventions is fortified by the scene in which dominoes are knocked down. In that scene, I was able to discern individual words on some of the dominoes: “your blood does the breaking.” Right after that I think that I heard a person with an Australian accent say “in front kicks.” So, does this mean that I am supposed to break away from convention and experience the piece? I think it does.

SyNRGizing: Creation in “Bots”

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Mind Blown

“Bots” was amazing because of the idea that poetry can be created by scraping data. Machines, created by humans, making art? Mind-blowing. Intuitively, I knew this, but seeing it in action set my mind aflame! It was the ultimate in experiencing synergy. “Station 5100” delivering meteorological data from a buoy and mashing it up with lines from Moby Dick? So creative! “Poem.exe” was even more moving. The notion of scraping a haiku database and then tweeting it so that others may comment or retweet is so novel to me. I feel like code (which has humans behind it) is creating the art. When I think about A.I., the sterile image of a white robot with cold eyes comes to mind. How wrong I am! A.I. can be entirely elegant, as we see in “Bots.”

Furthermore, I really liked “*tiny star fields*,” because it was visually appealing. Bots can also be funny, which I very much enjoyed. The algorithm in “Headlines” resulted in some pretty humorous results. The code in “How to Sext” also had smart, funny content. I am pretty surprised! Why? Because when I used to think of bots, my image was of fake celebrities or known personages churning out drab or lewd content. Bots can and are elegant and smart. There goes elit again breaking my expectations. I love that!

What makes a great remix? | Features | MN2S
It’s Remix in the House

Bots had an element of what we discussed in Writing Theory and Practice: remix. Isn’t all art a remix of some kind? If I write a memoir, aren’t I influenced by the art, music and things I have experienced? Of course I am. We can see all of life as a remix. We take what we see everyday and we express ourselves. Elit just brings us closer to the consciousness of remix.

Thesis Update 1

This week, like all of us, I sat down to put some good work into my Thesis project and it felt good to get started on this journey.  My approach may be a tad unorthodox, but the steps I took this week are definitely in the right direction.  For those of you who may not know, comedy clubs have begun to slowly reopen, so they are beginning to put on shows and open mics again.  I spent some time this week writing up some new material for myself to try out at a local mic.  I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with my Thesis project.  I’m glad you asked!  I thought doing something like this, that I am familiar with, would help to get my creative juices flowing, which it did.  Seeing as my project is creative in nature, this was an important stp for me.

Once I was able to feel like I was loosened up, I began to do some free writing exercises to put together parts of my story and think harder about the progression of the arc.  I know you are all clamoring to see the and hear the project, but as some of you may know, I am a bit self conscience about my creative work and do not like to give much away until the project is completed.  I promise I will give all of you a look into the specific progress I have made, in time, but until that point I will probably just be sharing specifics with Dr. Zamora as she helps guide me.  I am the same way when it comes to writing jokes for me, where I have one friend that I use to kind of bounce my ideas off of, and get his input.  Otherwise, everyone else I know has to come and see me to listen to my material.  I feel the same way about this work, especially considering it is a creative piece born from my own thoughts and experiences.

I may not want to give specific details, but I can give you a kind of overview of what it is I did exactly.  I sat down in my bedroom and thought long and hard about what it is I want to be included in the arc of the story that I am writing.  To be honest with you, this being an exercise that has been done kind of early on in this process, I honestly do not know how many of these ideas, if any, will make the cut.  It was just nice to see some of my ideas down on paper and see some kind of tangible substance that pertains to this project.  Most of the work had to do with connections and relationships among characters.  I am not sure how many of you read the work I did last semester that was the genesis of this project, but I really have two characters that are my main protagonist and antagonist, but I need more characters to create more substance and to have deeper understandings of my character’s feelings and their personalities, as it is important to show these things as I progress along with my story.  

I am sure some of you have some questions, and I look forward to addressing them with all of you in class this week.  See you all later.