Creative Critical Reflection

How do your products use or challenge conventions and how do they represent social groups or issues?

*Note: The text was added in case my voice recordings aren’t clear. The numbers at the beginning of each paragraph stand for the corresponding number in the slide on voicethread.

Music video: presented with http://voicethread.com/share/7609875/

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  1. Deftones aren’t termed as a metal band for nothing. Upon the creation of my music video for their song “Rickets”, I made sure to use certain sets of conventions that indefinitely define it as such. For starters, I cut everything to the rhythm of the beat to accentuate the suddenness of movement and to put the audience in the state of alertness that the song actually implies.
  2. I also used the fast motion (e.g. 0:54 – 0:58) and hazy effects (e.g. 1:33 – 1:38) to achieve this. Additional options were the overlay (where 2 frames are superimposed one atop another – e.g. 0:45 or 1:45) and the “fiery effect” (e.g. 1:11, 2:40), which are used to attain the feeling emanating from a typical nu-metal video, while merging it with elements of the new, minimal Deftones aesthetics – this new aesthetic will be spoken of in subsequent questions and paragraphs.
  3. This nu-metal effect I spoke of is also used in other Deftones videos for songs on the same album. A good example is the video of the song “My Own Summer” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOzs1FehYOA). The effect is created by the increased contrast of the image, therefore making it more “vibrant” and “rough”, and is very typical of the genre in itself.
  4. The glitches also connote suddenness and rupture from reality, which is something the character often succumbs to (e.g. 0:33, 1:07, 2:55). These are sudden so as to connote that Ruxi, the actress, is slipping into insanity, but end just in time to let the audience believe that the character has a hold on herself.
  5. The various locations I used are also pretty wretched and decrepit, which go with the “alienation” style of the metal genre. For instance, in the park, the leaves are falling and the lighting is desolate as the character is running down the stairs. In the staircase, the colors are mismatched and bland. The art gallery is clearly experimental and undecorated, whereas the wall behind her when she does her makeup comprises designs that are tribal and somewhat “savage”.
  6. While the wall Ruxi stands in front of in the very last scene is garish and ostentatious, an allusion to suicide is still made with the hand-held movement onto the “Are you sure?” inscription. This means to signify that the character would rather die than conform to established societal standards.
  7. However, she then points the gun at the camera, meaning that she will not hesitate to stand up for herself. Without meaning to actually harm her “opponents” or the people that do not support her, she still fires the gun for the sake of ending the video on the note that “people cannot affect her anymore, now that she’s found out who she is and what she stands for”.
  8. The irrationality of the possibility of even attempting to commit suicide is termed as irrational, which is why the transient overlay of the letters “IRATIONL” show up on the screen as she points the gun at the audience (she, herself, realizes how irrational she had been). The word is also written incorrectly because ending one’s life is inherently wrong.
  9. Therefore, recurrent themes of the metal genre, like “death” or “rise to power” are still implied in the video. Although, a music video of the sort is somewhat rare, seeing as most often, metal bands opt for performance videos. By creating a video with a meaning, which is somewhat uncommon for the metal scene, I tried to show that the Deftones somewhat differ from other bands.
  10. Several aspects further contribute to the creation of a meaning for the music video. More specifically, I tried doing this by challenging conventions. Oddities do appear, such as the painting that the character creates throughout the video. The painting is supposed to at least symbolise a lotus (because it certainly doesn’t look like one). In hinduism, and the following sentences will be quoted from a website to explain the meaning behind the lotus, “one of the most common metaphysical analogies compares the lotus’ perennial rise to faultless beauty from a miry environment to the evolution of consciousness, from instinctive impulses to spiritual liberation. […] Humans are adjured to be like the lotus; they should work without attachment, dedicating their actions to God, untouched by sin like water on a lotus leaf, like a beautiful flower standing high above the mud and water.” (http://www.lotussculpture.com/my_articles_lotus.html)
  11. The reason for which she destroys this lotus is to create a transition between the lack of confidence experienced in the minimal art gallery, to the outburst of it experienced in the scenes outside of it. The character is an outcast because she visually doesn’t fit in with the rest of society, as implied by what are seen as commonplace norms. Her appearance characterizes her as deviant, which automatically places her in the category of people who participate in sinful activities like drinking and eating too much – this is also further denoted by the song’s lyrics. It might seem silly for me to associate this with the purity of a lotus, but the allusion lies in the fact that the character’s heart is pure and her intentions are all that much more admirable. Therefore, by detaching herself from the people around her and working in isolation, she can aspire for a higher purpose and be as good as people believe she isn’t. By doing so, she can, herself, see the good that she does, the one that people overlook. And I say that people overlook it because even the song lyrics include sequences that say: “it’s so easy to overlook every little thing I do right, right?” Therefore, as a whole, the video means that she is rising from the darkness of this sort of metaphorical pond to resurface (just like a lotus) and to “find herself”.
  12. Aside from the lotus, other symbolic elements are the yin and yang sign which is painted on her face at the end of the video. This means to connote that, by the end of the video, she has found her balance, and has rightfully annihilated the instability that plagued her because of the incessant negativity she would succumb to.
  13. Other abstract elements are the overlaid frames starting 2minutes and 30seconds into the video. All of these elements challenge conventions because they are, or can be categorized as belonging to the style of experimental art, rather than fitting into the conventions set by the metal genre. While the frames are “artsy”, this sort of imagery is deeply embedded in nu-metal culture, as we have been able to see in the “My Own Summer” video by the same artist. While conventions are broken, they are done rightfully to ultimately fit into the established standards of this metal culture.
  14. While this video both uses and challenges conventions in the general sense of the term, it also does so by portraying the character in an ambivalent manner. This music video is entirely in sync with my interpretation of the song “Rickets”. What I believe this song means, or at least, partly means, is that deviation from the norm is frowned upon in a societal context. Any decision or action that can spring from free will can be potentially marginalized in society, and this society often overlooks the cause of deviant or out-of-norm behaviour. Such behaviour can include eating and drinking too much, doing too much or too little of something, or not following certain set boundaries, for example.
  15. Often, as it is in this video, complacent behaviour stems from a person’s underprivileged background or unpleasant past experiences that can potentially lead to mental trauma and disease. In the music video, the character is confined to a little minimal room with the strict minimum that is necessary for her completion of a painting. In this way, she is constrained by a fabricated, contrived environment that can be representative of society.
  16. This is further signified by the fact that she seems to be watched by the means of a surveillance camera. Obvious is the fact that she dislikes being in that position of inferiority (her work is rushed, her to-and-fro pacing is out of place and fidgety, she seeks to escape; walking fast, she looks into the surveillance camera as if to assert dominance, as if trying to impose her own persona to the people that are forcing her to inhibit it). The only freedom of expression she really has is the way she dresses and the lotus that she’s drawing.
  17. It is in this context that the main (and only) character fits into the conventions of the metal genre. She wears studded accessories, red lipstick, combat boots, uses guns and smokes cigarettes. She can be considered as the embodiment of youth rebellion at its zenith. Even her attitude signals aggressiveness and anger, which are also prominent in metal. The way she does this will be further discussed in the media text’s interaction with the audience.
  18. Whereas the representation of a metalhead is typical, the atypical part is the fact that she’s a girl. In wider society, it is rather unusual for girls to act like the way the character in the video does. The stereotype for teenage females is characterized by naivety, frailty and need of protection, whereas the character in the video is a dominant figure with a “protruding” backbone, if I can say so.
  19. Again, conventions are both challenged and followed to prove a point in the context of the representation of social groups and issues.

Digipak: presented with http://voicethread.com/share/7610095/

  1. Considering everything the Deftones have come up with thus far, the digipak I created is somewhat fitting to the band’s style (or, at least, that’s my view on it). The conventions I have or haven’t challenged are therefore relative to the band’s existing works. All digipaks have something in common: an ethereal effect imposed by graphic design.
  1. “Gore”, for instance, is striking because of the blurry effect and continuum of birds flying about.
  1. “Koi No Yokan’s cover is a work of art in itself – it was created by renowned American artist Futura, whose style involves erratic lining and dotting.
  1. “Diamond Eyes” portrays a white owl with open wings, which lays the foundations for the symbolism in all the ambiguous songs on that album.
  1. I tried to recreate “Around the Fur” in such a way that allowed for this preservation of THE element which, I think, draws people to the Deftones. The front cover involves a pink-ish/blue-ish fist. As mentioned in the coursework development, the crumpled paper is symbolic for repressed emotion, and consequent evacuation of that emotion as connoted by the firm grasp of the paper ball. The reason why I chose the object to be crumpled paper is because I wanted to make the audience believe that the person holding the paper has written everything there was to be said, but was too afraid to make it known to the world, so that person holds onto the paper as if for dear life. The biggest contrast is between the blurry aspect of the fist and the exactitude of the geometrical figures depicted on it. The squares/rectangles were designed onto the fist in order to introduce the audience to what is coming (meaning the mechanical interior design of the digipak). The reason why the respective colors were chosen is because I wanted people to associate it with the expression “having the blues” – it was only logical that I use sadder tints to create this effect. This is simply done because the songs are somewhat morbid, and I wanted the album cover to illustrate that. The relation to the concept of “Around the Fur” is that our ability to cogitate on events and emotions help us transcend animalistic tendencies. I also, however, used a pinkish tint on the front cover, and so wanted to convey that humanity is inherently warm, and this clashes with the apparent coldness that has come to predominate whereby our desensitizing postmodern age.
  1. We are vulnerable when we let ourselves feel (e.g. repressed emotion) and when we become slaves to our cognitions and instincts. The intensity of our emotions is almost animal-like, but it transcends the capabilities of animals, which is why we, as humans, go “around the fur” – fur being symbolic of animals. The appearance of the front and back covers connote this apparent humane sensitivity that we all have inside of us, and that we sometimes let show.
  1. I didn’t modify the colors of the back cover because I wanted to connote that we have to look past appearances to see the humanity in some of us. The blur signifies how ambiguous and difficult to pin down our feelings really are sometimes.
  1. As opposed to the front and back covers, the inside for the digipak connotes another part of what it means to be human: our cold, calculating, almost mechanic nature. For this I used colder colors (or absences of colors) like black, white and red. The scotch tape in the corner where the disk would be represents the fragility of the hardened façade that we put up for people to see. It is symbolic for needing a band-aid to promptly restore a wound. Simultaneously, the patch covers up the transparency of the disk (I put the opacity to a minimum). Symbolically, it’s a patch of strength that conveys the way we try to reassert our dominance and influence after having been emotionally wounded. This patch, which is connoted by the scotch tape, is depicted on the transparent disc, which further signifies our predictable nature of trying to bounce back from emotional shock. When I say that the disc will look transparent, I mean that whatever currently appears on the digital image of the disc will appear on the actual one (the picture in the background and the opaque white will be juxtaposed one atop the other to create an effect of continuity).
  1. By saying that people are predictable, I mean that our actions, reactions and verbal codes give us away most of the time. Therefore, by giving the last 2 explanations of what the scotch tape on the disc could mean, I hope I made is clear that this disc’s connotation is double-coded. I also decided to keep the design simple because it best suited the feeling of “human emptiness” often conveyed as a dominant theme in most songs on the album.
  1. Throughout the making of the inside of this digipak, a recurrent thought was that of a quote I read some time ago. Augusten Burroughs so eloquently worded the following: “I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” This might explain the overlapping pictures of different lips or eyes. I constructed this image by putting together different parts of different pictures. I wanted to connote that we can put ourselves back together again after having gotten hurt – a sign of resilience.
  1. The lyrics booklet is entirely focused on the clear-sightedness and balance humans can achieve through mental manipulation, which allows them to reconcile feeling and thought and to achieve optimal behaviour for “proper functioning” in society. The light symbolizes just that: light and seeing clearly, and the blur in the picture (glitch effect) makes for how difficult it can be for us to achieve this reconciliation.
  1. As a whole, what I meant to convey was that there is strength in our ability to decide what to show to the world, and to react accordingly in given situations by not letting emotion get the best of us (again, relating to the concept of “Around the Fur”). The reasoning behind the designs is exactly the reason why it follows conventions set by the band – everything in the digipak has a meaning, and is meant to evoke feeling and thought. Deftones songs are generally complex and I hoped this digipak would do their complexity justice.
  1. I broke conventions because the genre of this CD is ultimately nu-metal, but I designed it according to the new aesthetic established by the Deftones (an aesthetic conveyed by their newest, more experimental albums, notably the albums released after the change in the band’s logo).
  1. When creating the digipak, I meant to target as many people as possible, although it’s hard for everyone to feel targeted when the model I used is a white girl, but the race is, I believe, obscured by other predominating concepts conveyed by the digipak. The reason for which I just decided to use my own hand and Ruxi’s face because it would be simpler. As I mentioned in the coursework development, no racism whatsoever was implied, and it follows that no tokenism was implied either. I just thought it would be best to keep everything simple.
  1. The representation of humans is done by portraying aspects of our nature like frailty, cognition and emotion by the means of digital art, something I hope I succeeded in doing.

Website: presented with http://voicethread.com/share/7610194/

  1. The website (http://mariabega25.wix.com/deftones) is very conventional, and follows the established ideals of the band and of the music world.
  1. As I said before, the original Deftones website is very simple to use as well as simple-looking. I, myself, kept some elements from deftones.com, notably, the inclusion of the tour dates page, the contact page and the link to the band’s online store and social networking websites. I also used very dark and contrasting colors (white, black, gray, red), which are typical of the Deftones and of the metal world. The way in which the website doesn’t exactly follow conventions is in that it is very minimal, and usually, such websites have many categories, with loads of content on one page. I kept everything to the strict minimum, which is atypical for metal bands’ websites in general, as well as for other genres’ websites.
  1. I diminished the number of social networking websites for the sake of keeping everything simpler. However, I added sections to the website that other bands have: I included the discography, the about us page, and the media page (which provides insight into the band’s aesthetic and making of the music video). This was done in order to give the impression that the band is interested in sharing more with their fan base. This contributes more to the use of certain conventions, seeing as the norm implies more content in a band’s website.
  1. So as to convey that a new album is coming out, I advertised its existence on iTunes by putting the link up on the home page, along with the music video for the promotional song. This is typical for all bands to do, in order to let their audiences know what’s coming up. On another note, this would conclude the analyses of my music video, digipak and website in context of this first question. I hope it cleared things up regarding the components of my production works.

How do the elements of your production work together to create a sense of ‘branding’?

Presented with https://www.pixton.com/comic-strip/bt2wkvne 

How do your products engage with the audience and how would they be distributed as real media products?

How did you integrate technologies – software, hardware and online – in this project?

Presented with http://easel.ly/infographic/nvcu5q (to better view the infographic, click on top right option saying “present”)

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