Monday, March 28, 2011

New idea!

Hey so i was thinking for my "personal" project of doing an instructional video, "Como Sobrevivir La Rambla" and focusing on the area where we live in Barcelona. Then i could show it to my underclassman friends who are coming next year. Might be fun!

Just throwing that out there.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Interviewing/Final Projects

The video interview tips were really helpful, but also pretty intimidating. I have done interviews only a couple of times before, and on those occasions it was audio interviews for a written research project. I don't even know where I could do a video interview that wouldn't be either really echoey (studio) or completely obliterated by background noise (sirens, motors, screaming homeless people...) I have learned a few tricks for reducing background noise on Garageband and iMovie, but this city is pretty loud and crowded. And quiet, private space is limited to approximately zero. I'm in my own dorm room with my headphones in right now and I can hear the guy in the next room laughing and yelling randomly. The lobby is public circulation space. The study room has the acoustic and aesthetic qualities of a dungeon.

I am also concerned about having good equipment. My camera takes good-quality video footage, but I don't think I have access to a tripod and/or lighting tools. I know where to get them in Clemson! ... Doesn't help.

ALSO: my selection of interview subjects is severely limited by the language barrier. It's too bad, because interviewing people is kindof fun. But because of the delicacy required in portraying a person from a different culture respectfully, accurately, and with the proper "Topos," it seems a multi-lingual interview would be a disastrous failure. If I could manage to prepare well-phrased questions in Spanish, I certainly lack the skills for spontaneous follow-up or clarification questions. THEN I would have no qualifications to translate their responses faithfully (carrying the sense and tone of the words in addition to their literal meaning). I'm just not at that level.

And it seems unfair to set up a non-native English speaker for a video interview unless they are very comfortable with English. I will keep my eyes open but I think my subjects might have to be professors and friends who are comfortably bilingual.

I think I want to interview one of our studio professors for the final project. For the segment on professional/career connections I'm planning to research the education and licensing process for architects in Spain. In the states, it varies a lot from state to state, and it's even illegal to call yourself an "architect" without proper documentation; it would be interesting to see how a Spaniard qualifies him or herself to practice in Spain.

On the other hand, I really don't know what kind of photo or video footage could accompany that research. I definitely have a ton of pictures of architecture, but sorting out which ones are by Spanish architects might be way more difficult than you'd expect. International architecture is really common and I don't have labels on all my pictures. Suggestions from Clammers?

I also am still back and forth on what to do for my "Personal integration with the culture" segment. It seems like it needs a theme or structure to avoid just being a random blog about my experiences, of which there are a lot.

I know I'm a teensy bit behind as far as storyboarding goes. We just got back from a succession of very long, very taxing travels in and outside of Spain and the class deadlines are now upon us, so the CLAM projects have admittedly not occupied the forefront of my consideration for the past few weeks. Doing a good project is going to be challenging in this end-of-semester chaos.

Tripping and Tropos: A few examples of video clips

With the final projects in mind I have been trying to take video of Barcelona that shows how I experience the city, both in the broader context and in a more subjective way. For instance, when I first arrived, I was impressed by the big crowds that are the trademark of a dense urban environment -- big contrast to my small-town upbringing. In this brief clip, I try to show the crowd of shoppers on one of Barcelona's big tourist and shopping districts.

But this second video clip shows the crowd from a different perspective, to convey what it's like to navigate a busy crowd of foreigners. I was really trying to show the experience of being crammed in with tons of strangers and catch the babble of Spanish in the background that sounded so strange when I first arrived. This shot is different from the others because it's taken while moving inside the crowd, and from a lower angle. The low angle emphasizes the people as intimidating and/or obstacles to movement, and the motion of the camera viewpoint demonstrates the street as a path to be navigated, not just a stationary space. I especially like the way that people's backs move suddenly in and out of the near foreground. They are all wearing heavy coats which make them appear very solid. It captures the experience that I constantly have of nearly tripping over people who seem to be moving erratically and blocking my path unexpectedly. Humans do not always behave in a rational manner.

Unfortunately, however, my hand is not as steady as I thought it would be. The shakeyness of the shot reminds me of those old Star Trek episodes where the camera shakes and sparks shoot out of the computers whenever there's an explosion. I guess they still do that in action movies. Maybe it helps to convey the action of the place, or... maybe it will just make the viewers motion-sick. I'll probably try this same shot again with a smoother motion, in different places and from different perspectives. An angle above the crowd might be interesting to show the overall flow of the urban streetscape.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Ok so for my final documentary I'm going to focus on some interesting socio-economic aspects of Barcelona neighborhoods, inspired by the signs that say "Volum un Barri Digne" ("We want a decent neighborhood") and a squatter settlement near our residence. I have already started taking pictures and pan shots for the documentary although research is lagging behind due to other schoolwork. I would also really like to get an interview and use my skills from last semester's Creative Non-Fiction course. The trick is going to be figuring out who I can access and/or communicate with. I know enough Spanish to form some intelligent questions, but not necessarily enough to explain my purpose, make an appointment and accurately translate the response without some significant confusion. Hopefully my professor will be able to help me make a connection. I will have lots of time with her in the next week -- we're going to Berlin! -- so I'll be sure to ask.

I wonder what the length requirement is for this video. I'm not sure I've seen the assignment written out anywhere... any tips, Clammers? Sometimes i lose track of these things.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Clam Blog 8: Tropidyboop!

Here you will enjoy a further analysis of the "tropos" of some of my images. Not all of them, because let's face it: both of us have lives and neither of us wants to be here all day listening to me ramble about tropos. But here we go.

<--Notre Dame Cathedral: This image emphasizes the grandiosity (real word, I checked) of the Notre Dame's west facade.

  • Anytime an image is centered and symmetrical, it presents a very strong focal point for the eye.
  • The trail of umbrella'd people leading up to the door further marks the cathedral as an important figure, drawing people in from the foreground; literally in the image, and visually by leading the eye.
  • A reflection on the rainy pavement extends the cathedral vertically giving it an even greater presence.
  • It was an overcast, wet day when I took this photo, so the muted colors and washed out sky impact the viewer's impression of the image as one of solemnity and authority. No blue skies and fluffy bunnies, here, folks.

Digging further, you could say that the tropos of this image is to emphasize the authority of the church itself, with the cathedral facade representing the Catholic faith; grand and imposing, drawing followers through the rain and cold to it's triumphal arch while all else fades into the background.


In this image I've framed Primary Traveling Companion Ellis against the vast Mediterranean Sea.

  • This image relies heavily on negative space, that is, space that is not occupied by the primary figure. Ellis is relegated to the righthand third of the image, while the rest of the image is filled with ocean water coming up to the rocks beneath her and the sky. A large portion of the composition is devoted to emptiness.
  • The sea/ocean/any large body of water/water itself is often used to symbolize mystery, the depth of life, and the unknown in Western cultures.
  • Ellis is facing away from the camera. We cannot identify her or see her facial expression. Thus there is an important and intriguing element of the photo that IS unknown, enhancing the viewer's sense of questioning or mystery.
  • Ellis' posture is slightly unbalanced, with all her weight on one foot. This causes her shoulders and hips to form angles that give her a mild "S" shape. Combined with the wind blowing though her hair, I must say she looks quite elegant and wistful.
  • The colors are faded and bluish, such that the photo has a sort of aged and melancholy tone.
If you want to get all serious about it, you could say this image is, essentially, a communication about the unknown or unknowable deep. Ellis symbolizes humanity gazing into the mysteries of the universe. What is she finding there across that ocean? Can we find it, too?


<-- These balls in Bon Pastor are not being played with. No, no they're not. Poor little lonely balls. (alright get your mind out of the gutter)

  • IN FACT, they are not being played with because they're trapped. Trapped behind this giant texture-y concrete framing device. Oooh noooo!
  • There are two of them, like friends.. the colorful balls are associated with children, youth, companionship, and carefree playtime.
  • But no. They're alone. And dirty. Neglected, even.
  • Most of all, these toys are completely inaccessible. They sink into the (heightened perspective) background while the tiny concrete window through which you can see them takes up the majority of the photo. The emphasis is on the unfulfilled potential for happiness, tantalizing, but locked behind impassible barriers.
Deep, man, real deep (stoner voice). It's like we are aware of the potential for happiness, of ideals of youth, companionship and freedom, but we are unable to fulfill that potential. It remains forever just outside our reach.


What does this image say about art, architecture, enlightenment, and humanity? What is the symbolic significance of light and dark? How does the camera's position in the dark area of the photo affect the viewer's perception of his/her role in the message? How does knowing that the image is taken from the Louvre in Paris -- one of the largest and most famous historical art museums in the world -- impact your understanding of the photo's TROPOS? What further layers can be uncovered by knowing more about the origins of the glass pyramid and the domed structure behind it?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


A'ight, people. Get ready for some photographic acción ovah heeyuh!

Centered, symmetrical: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
Rule of thirds/horizontal: Building facade in Sevilla, Spain

Rule of thirds/vertical: Mediterranean sea from Barcelona, Spain

Ooooh wait, but what about HORIZONTAL VS. VERTICAL ORIENTATION??

Vertical orientation draws attention on the two patterned yellow buildings...
...But horizontal orientation focuses on activity in the plaza below. =D

Bet you wanna see some VARIETY OF FOCAL LENGTHS!

Fore/Mid/Background: Cat on Montserrat, Barcelona
Check out how dramatic this cat becomes in the foreground, while the photographer is in the mid ground and the majestic mountain landscape falls to the background.

Now how about some FRAMING??

Bon Pastor, Barcelona | The Louvre Museum, Paris


^ Gargoyles on the Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris


The Eiffel Tower at night, and a Chandelier in an opera house in Paris


Clockwise from top left:
Plaza in Sevilla, Spain, from the Cathedral bell tower; Streetwall in Madrid, Spain, from across the plaza and standing on playground equipment; Cuatro Torres Business District in Madrid, Spain, from the ground; Liz Cooney on the Mirador Building in Madrid, Spain, from balcony above.

All of these photos present the subject in a unique way based on the position of the camera and the composition of the shot. The angle, composition, and distance from the subject can even influence the identity of the subject. For instance, below:

Upside-down and with exaggerated perspective, this strange facade becomes a sculptural object.

Mirrored in a reflection pool, a dimly lit gothic-groin-vaulted hallway flattens into a monochromatic, symmetrical composition and loses it's meaning as a 3-dimensional space.

The brick pavement in this garden, photographed up close, reads as a texture image.

BAM. All these photos were taken previous to this clam assignment. I think I've pretty much got the gist as far as photographic composition goes; I do as much as I can with a point-and-snap anyway. Someday when I've got a lot of money lying around I'll buy a really nice camera and then I'll have to learn all the fancy lens mechanics again. Hasta entonces.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

CLAM 6 part II: Barcelona advertisement

The following is an advertisement for a university in Tarragona, found in a publication in Barcelona.

CHRONOS||CONTEXT The advertisement is for a college called Universitat Rovira i Virgili. Since they are placing an ad in a paper, I am guessing that it's a small school or one that exists primarily online. Their intended audience is 18-25 year olds who want to go to college. The text is written in Catalán, so I'm not sure what it says.
PATHOS||EMOTIONAL APPEAL The ad clearly plays to a desire for freedom. The college students are sitting around in the sun, blue skies, laughing and having a good time and don't appear to be doing any work. Nonetheless, the text says something to the effect of increasing your ability or pursuing your dreams. It inspires a sense of fun, carefree life that college can bring you! The bike lurking on the right hand side and the license plate at the bottom also emphasizes the sense of freedom, mobility, or running away.
ETHOS||AUTHORITY Although I'm not certain of the exact translation, the text of the ad says something to the effect of the University helping or believing in you. The ad portrays the University as a tool or a friendly presence that enables you to reach your dream of sitting in a group of fun, fashionable young people on a hilltop. The university doesn't make any moves of seeming authoritarian, disciplined, bureaucratic or even offer very much reference to academics at all. Instead, the student is at the center of attention...the advertisers flatter the ego to get on the good side of their readers.
LOGOS||LOGIC With the invitational text in the top center, the image large and centered, and the phone number below, the logical flow of this ad is clear. You want to go to college? And be carefree and pretty like these people -- then call this number for information about the Universitat Rovira i Virgili.