Final Presentation review (Ali)

AP: As Robyn mentioned the first week of presentations were certainly interesting and the range of results demonstrate the interconnecting points from the literature of weeks 1-3. It was also interesting to see how the same literature could be drawn upon to illustrate different approaches to cinematic city representations. On reflection of my presentation, I (once again) had too much information to convey in the time limit, although I think my case study approach allowed for this – the core aim could still be conveyed in the material I was able to use in 15minutes. It was a shame to skim over the points I had collected from To Rome With Love, as this extended some of De Certeau’s points to an interesting level. I wanted to explain how the opening and closing sequences illustrated not just an attention to the figure of the ‘City Walker’ in the main characters of the piece but in the use of the traffic conductor and the resident Italian introducing and closing the film, arguing over who saw the most of the city’s stories, really emphasised the narratological element – the ‘telling’ of the unheard stories that occur within in the City on ground level on a daily basis. Allen is giving both author and spectator to the ‘chorus of footsteps’ that is usually a silent song. This film also had another interesting reflexive element in the 2 storylines that were based upon Italian citizens not tourists, that hinted at Bass’ ‘Insiders View – Rome as the City of Films (the parody of celebrity culture and the ‘film within a film’ elements).

Nonetheless, I am confident of my conclusion and enjoyed discussing Allen’s movies with the class. I just had too much to say! Such a rich topic. As much as I enjoyed the Amsterdam based comparisons as they extended the city presentations well, I also really liked hearing about cinematic representations in different countries, revealing  differing issues depending on geographical, social, political and economic contexts of the productions. I think the peer assessment forms could be revised slightly to be more course specific – some of the categories overlap also so could be simplified to make the feedback more useful for the presenter.

Advertisements

Week one presentations reflection

Robyn: I found the first round of presentations very interesting and I enjoyed that most people chose to approach their subjects from a different angle – although Bass was a reoccurring appearance. Christopher’s presentation about the city’s ability to reflect an ideology within a film is one that could particularly relate to my own presentation, as I will be drawing upon the way the themes of dreams, illusion and human experience in Inception are reflected onto the cityscape and architecture.

I also found Steyn’s introduction of Boris Groys’ work very interesting, particularly the idea that it is the tourist that creates the monumentalising gaze and not the object itself, as well as the resulting repetition effect this is having on cities. Groys notes, “today, when we cease to be satisfied with the life that is offered to us in our own cities, we no longer strive to change, revolutionize or rebuild this city; instead, we simply move to a new city – for a short period or forever – in search of what we miss in our home city. Mobility between cities – in all shades of tourism and migration – has radically altered our relationship to the city as well as the cities themselves.” This presents an interchangeable nature of the city. Groys also argues how easily places and spaces can be re-monumentalized, suggesting the nature of human’s relationship to the city space is a fickle one. He continues, claiming we now live in a time of post-romantic tourism where, “rather than the individual romantic tourist, it is instead all manner of people, things, signs and images drawn from all kinds of local cultures that are now leaving their places of origin and undertaking journeys around the world”. As a result, “present-day urban architecture has now begun to move faster than its viewers. This architecture is almost always already there before the tourists arrive. In the time race between tourists and architecture it is now the tourist who loses. Although the tourist is annoyed to encounter the same architecture everywhere he goes, he is also amazed to see how successful a certain type of architecture has proved to be in a wide range of disparate cultural settings. We are now prepared to be attracted and persuaded particularly by artistic strategies capable of producing art that achieves the same degree of success regardless of the cultural context and conditions in which it is viewed.” Therefore suggesting that city spaces have indeed become interchangable, almost false and superficial where they were once romanticised. However, it is as a result of progressive society and the spectator that this has happened. Thus tying perfectly in with my research questions for my presentation:

– In what way does the city become a superficial and movable construction in Nolan’s film, particularly through the metaphor of dream and blurring of boundaries between reality and representation?
– To what extent is human experience solely responsible for the presentation and manipulation of the city space?

My presentation will follow the trajectory that the city in Inception is a construct, a tool. An ambiguous space that often has no need to be defined, as long as it’s there – much like a dream. I will argue that the city is constructed by the walker, and it is the walker’s emotional need and perspective that is of the utmost importance, not the space in which they find themselves. The city walker is the architect of their own journey, just like the team require a dream architect in  the film.
Of course I will be expanding on this on Tuesday so until then, here’s a short clip to hopefully draw some parallels with my explanation of Groys:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpmdzHsC9-Y

Use of the iPads

RC: The ipads were certainly a novel aspect of the city tours and being able to watch clips at each location in order to analyse and compare any changes or prominant aspects in each setting was particularly useful. However, with regards to our first presentation at Tuschinski we were somewhat limited by the material available to us on the ipad. With only one clip uploaded for us to discuss we therefore did our own research to gather more film sequences set in our space. However, the major issue here was the inability to upload these clips onto the ipad. I’m unaware of how the technology functions and whether this is even possible but it would have been useful if we’d been able to upload our own clips onto our ipad and then share this with the others, maybe create a link or something in blackboard so the others could then download the same clip and we could all watch it together on location. We did try to tackle this issue with Christopher kindly bringing his laptop to the Tuschinski so we could watch a clip from that, but that was still only one screen between all of us and it seemed a shame when we had so many ipads between us at that moment but no use for them.

In terms of the usefulness of the ipad out of presentation time, I was not in charge of looking after it and therefore didn’t really get to explore its potential. Other than that, they were light, easy to carry around, and, although the weather interfered from time to time, provdided us with a unique collection of portable film clips to screen at each location!

AP: As I was the ipad holder I can comment on its use (or lack of) out of class. I have to admit this was minimal, partly as the ipad we had did not have a camera in use, thus playing with the Vistory app as I had planned couldn’t happen -I also had trouble in terms of the ipad being set on another Itunes log in and when trying to download the app itself the ipad asked for updates in software (I could have investigated fixes for this but to be honest had collected lots of information from other sources and did not have time). So perhaps to get the most out of this I could have asked more questions or there could have been a small amount of time given to explaining the ‘set up’ of apps/software etc. I was grateful for the ability to upload images and websites etc to the ipad pre-presentation, but again this was not  that useful across multiple ipads or relied upon wifi which the ipads seemed reluctant to connect to. They were useful on the whole as Robyn noted above – watching and comparing the clips on location was very valuable to the city walk presentations (even with the slight weather issues). I suppose the only solution would be to set up the presentation topics earlier in order to get any clips we wanted on all of the ipads, however this may not be time efficient with such a short course. 

Review on second presentation at the Cinetone Studio

I think I (and we as a group) did a much better job the second week of presentations. We knew better what was expected of us and therefore were better prepared. I really liked the way in which we worked as a team and divided up the work.

I was responsible for a brief introduction and the very important task of translating the Dutch texts. Ali and Robyn elaborated on my introduction with a broad theoretical framework, links to films that were made at Cinetone and an overall academical context. I think (and hope) I also helped with that and together I think we were able to lift our presentation to an academic, master’s degree worthy, level.

The only that could have been better, is the length of our presentation. It was quite long. Of course this also had to do with everybody ordering a drink and enjoying the fact that they could sit for a moment, but everything could have a been a little bit shorter. But, there was just so much to say about this particular location 🙂

CSG

Second City Presentation and Kogeto Films

RC:

City Presentation

Despite the weather, I think the second city walk was much more successful than the previous week. Namely, because people had a better idea of what to do and what to expect and offered a more in depth analysis of the spaces. Cinetone studios was a lot easier to research than Tuschinski last week as there was a much wider range of research materials available as well as many more films relating to the location – as opposed to the 2 we were limited to with Tuschinski. However, this did mean we had a lot to say and I think we ran over time quite significantly! What I found particularly interesting was a return to this relationship between reality and representation, or representation within representation – a studio space within a film – and the effect this has on spectators. With the Holland’s Hollywood clip, the superficiality of the film industry and built/movable aspect of the studio was highlighted yet the lyrics of the song discussed the romanticised aspect of film that everybody craves to be a part of regardless of this falsness. I also find interesting a studios ability to create scenes not possible in the external, ‘real’ space, almost a claim that scenes shot outside the studio are ‘reality’ when in actual fact all film can do is present representation. All adding to the illusion of cinema – another thing we can link to Baudrillard and simulacra (something I will expand on in my final presentation).

Kogeto films

Unfortunately our video discussion of the Penz/Tati text failed to work so I was not able to reflect upon it. However the text was not too theoretical but more a case study of Tati’s work, so there was not too much to pick apart. Although we did find a great similarity between Tati and De Certeau’s attitude towards the city and the tension they both see between this idealized, romanticized city concept and the reality of the expanding, planned, modern city. With regards to the functioning of the films, I personally am not convinced by this particular app. I think it’s a great idea to record class discussions to have material to return to when performing research as often it’s too difficult or fast paced to take clear notes at the time. The 360 degree is also useful to decipher who is doing the talking. However, I think the fact that the app is able to record videos for 8 minutes is a definite limitation – big parts of our discussion were lost and thus it was not clear who contributed what. I agree that large part of the discussion were more summaries but I think that’s inevitable when each member of the group has read a different text, in the groups where we had read mutual texts, things were able to get more in depth and comparative. However, this summarising did come in useful when watching the videos discussing texts I hadn’t read, as it enabled me to get a clearer grasp of their concepts.

Cinetone reflection/Kogeto discussions AP

AP:

I thought that our presentation this week (along with the other groups) was much stronger in terms of finding the cinematic relevance and comparison with the locations and embedding some of the literature that we are now familiar with from class. I found this much harder to do at our Tuschinski location as there didn’t appear to be much change over time (renovation to original obviously important though), but also due to it being more of a exhibition venue rather than shooting venue material was harder to find. It also did not appear on many of the archive sites apart from promotional footage of premieres/events etc. The Cinetone location countered this and I think we provided a detailed presentation of its background, use and how it represented itself and areas of Amsterdam through film. Hollands Hollywood – the ‘film within a film’ –  was a useful clip to show how the new studio was sold, and the juxtaposition of glamourous Hollywood with the countryside of Duivendrecht as discussed in our presentation.

I had much more luck on a range of research sources to discover information in this area as the Cinetone marked a particular high in Dutch feature film making from the arrival of sound technology. Film in Nederlands was particularly useful for contextual information on the development of sound and the Jordaan film genre.  The photographs on the Stadsarcheif archive showed the studio interior which was useful as we could only enter the converted cafe area. I was glad that I loaded these up on the Ipad beforehand as the wifi connection did not work on the others for some reason. This was also a shame as I had the opening sequences to De Jantjes and Bleeke Bet to show to demonstrate the sets in action, but to be fair we did also use up our time slot so this perhaps would have been too long. The opening to De Jantjes is interesting though and I forgot to mention how well received the authentic ‘on location’ shots of the opening sequence that show the canals and streets of Amsterdam were, demonstrating that a blend between studio and location footage was successful, mixing the best of both worlds – the construction of the studio to your desired appearance and the authenticity lent by shots of the beauty of the ‘actual’ city.

The short lived boom of the ‘Jordaan films’ provided particularly interesting comparison, and demonstrated the capabilities of the truly ‘built’ environment the studio can offer- the city within a city. We discussed this fairly thoroughly in our presentation thus I will not repeat it here, but I found it interesting how romanticised the community was made to appear in contrast to the social antagonism of the time in the very same area (mass unemployment and benefit cuts – riots etc). This is clearly idealist and promotional – selling a ‘vision’ of the Jordaan that did not quite exist, but appealed to ‘the Dutch heart’.

The set photographs and postcard/powerpoint slides also illustrated our points nicely (although perhaps overwhelmed our audience in terms of volume, maybe less would have been more in this short presentation). I think booking the table in the Cinetone was a nice touch, and the mint tea was nice 🙂

Kogeto discussions:

The kogeto cameras are great tools for this 360 view of a discussion – as a teacher I am considering getting my College to invest in them also to record group discussions. It is useful to see them now for reflection but perhaps this would have been good to see a little earlier in the course, so that we could apply the results of other discussions in our presentations along the way if relevant. The discussions do involve descriptions of the works rather than full analysis at all times, but when in the discussion this is a necessary phase -it is hard to condense a 30 page academic article into quick terms for a group, but this is a skill to develop.  I did try as much as possible to make links between the works and on reflection, perhaps need to pose questions to others more in order to draw out further points from their texts rather than talking over my texts. The mix of texts in the second discussion was interesting, but some harder to link than others – I did not get a good grasp of Shiel’s text, Ada noting that it applied a very different approach in analysing theoretical frameworks rather than illustrative examples of films that represent the city in certain ways. I would have liked to have understood this text in more detail in the discussion.

In response to some of the questions posed on the comments to my discussions – in relation to De Certeau and Sanders, we certainly identified that the Sanders text was easier to digest as the writing style is more straightforward and the content less challenging. To me, it was more of an illustrated comparative account rather than a proposal of a new theoretical approach, which is I think what De Certeau was aiming for – a new way of comprehending the experience of the city. A text that is less challenging is not necessarily better, as it may not be offering as sophisticated or interesting analysis however a text that loses its readers is also not effective. I think we all got lost around the same area – the underlying points were clear in places i.e. the subjective experience of the city can only be gained from the ground, this is where subversive practices to the uniformity of the city structure and organisation occur. Only then do the stories and meanings of the city truly be constructed – to the individual walking the city streets. I can only speak for myself, but perhaps did not have the literary theoretical luggage to comment upon whether his links to the structure of language etc apply to the city walker experience. I thought that this was strained but as I have noted before, showed De Certeau perhaps trying to reflect the poetics of walking through the poetics of his writing (medium is the message).

The other discussions in the group were fruitful and although descriptive as noted by Ivo, were helpful post-class to get an overview of the texts that I had not read/did not appear in my discussion groups. Links to the reading of the  Intermedialities course were also interesting, and not something that popped up in my discussions.

 

City of Memory

City of Memory

RC: When researching the city as a space of memory for next weeks presentation, I found this adorable little website about New York. Users can explore a map of the city and zoom into pin-pointed areas where they can read stories either curated by city lore or uploaded by other users. Stories can be historical facts about the city, quirky little did-you-knows, or stories of places people met, experienced good fortune, fell in love, got married etc.

Such a lovely concept!

Some links in the hope of free wifi!

We will reflect upon our presentation after today’s city walk, so this is just a quick plan update:

Cinetone presentation:

  1. Introduction to the Studios by Christopher
  2. Introduction to Hollands Hollywood clip by Ali – context – watch clip
  3. Explanation of content/lyrics/city country contrast by Robyn
  4. Potential for ‘concept city’ using built environment of studio – Ali – ‘Cinecitta’ and ‘Tativille’ compared – Cinetone production context of Jordaan films introduced. Compared to ‘real” Jordaan
  5. Examples: De Jantjes Feb 1934, Bleeke Bet Sept 1934
  6. Contextualised with literature – simulacrum – Robyn

LINKS:

Photographs of Cinetone Studio interiors/facilities: http://beeldbank.amsterdam.nl/beeldbank/indeling/grid?q_searchfield=cinetone

De Jantjes clip and plot overview: http://www.filminnederland.nl/film/de-jantjes

Bleeke Bet clip and plot overview: http://www.filminnederland.nl/film/bleeke-bet

Sources used for presentation:

Overview of film studios: http://www.filminnederland.nl/en/dutch-film-history/film-studios

Emergence of Dutch Sound Film: http://www.filminnederland.nl/en/dutch-film-history/emergence-sound-film

Jordaan film genre : http://www.filminnederland.nl/en/dutch-film-history/%E2%80%98jordaan%E2%80%99-film

Info on Jordaan area. A few pics also on this site of the state of unrest in the 30’s : http://www.annefrank.org/en/Subsites/Annes-Amsterdam/Timeline/Before-the-war/1934/1934/Unrest-in-the-Jordaan-and-other-areas-of-Amsterdam/#!/en/Subsites/Annes-Amsterdam/Timeline/Before-the-war/1934/1934/Unrest-in-the-Jordaan-and-other-areas-of-Amsterdam/

Bleeke Bet/De Jantjes Film shots provided by Ivo from Eye Film Library
Powerpoint slides from Ivo’s class lecture

Presentation Reflection Week One

RC: Upon reflection, I feel our presentation at Tuschinski was relatively successful, we covered most points that we set out to, our only limitation was timing. Unfortunately the space was not available to us for very long – retrospectively, we could have investigated this before we arrived – so we were unable to explore the location further, which would have been nice, as well as unable to visit the toilets which are portrayed in Loft. Another issue we experienced was the inability to show clips which were not on the ipad – since there was only 1 on there that we found useful. Christopher overcame this by bringing along his laptop and a DVD but there were a few YouTube clips that I certainly would have liked to have shown and examined, particularly to further my idea on the space blurring the boundaries between fiction (representation) and non-fiction (reality).

With Ivo requesting we take this more to an interpretative, visionary and contextualised level, I do think we could have drawn on some of the literature we have examined in class. Whilst exploring Jacques Tati’s work, Penz introduces the concept of ‘spatial ambiguity’, doubting the function of a space as a result of uniformity. I think this is interesting with regards to the clip shown from Loft where Tuschinksi is used as a location but is assumed to be another building. Although this is not a result of uniformity persay, I think it is interesting to reflect upon the role of editing to create spatial ambiguity, and how it has the potential to join multiple spaces as if they were only one location. This ambiguity can then also refer to the blurring of non-fiction and fiction or as Ali explains, the location’s function as an intermedial space. As a result of this, Tuschinski has the potential to offer the individual visitor/spectator an entirely different experience on each visit, which is certainly unique.

For our next presentation then, we will endeavour to contextualise more of the literature and theory we have come across in class. I also would like to perform a closer reading of the clips we present, particularly with regards to the development of Dutch cinema. Plus, to ensure we have enough time, we have booked a table at the Cafe which now resides at the Cineone location!

Finally, for the final presentation, I have been thinking about examining both the representation of Paris and the importance of architecture in Inception. At the moment, I’m still reading back through the literature to decide on a angle to approach the subject from, however, I think there are a lot of very interesting aspects to explore.

Presentation reflection/plan for Cinetone

AP:

On reflection I feel that our presentation conveyed that the most important element of the Tuschinski is the atmosphere provided by the grand, luxurious style of the interior and exterior space. The element of the creation of an immersive experience was important to Tuschinski, the ‘real’ and’ fictional’ spaces becoming one. Robyn’s clip is an interesting display of how intermedial the space still is – performance, cinema and dance combine to create an immersive experience for the audience, where they are not sure what is real and what is not, involving them in the fictional world of the movie before they even enter the auditorium space.

I am surprised that there are not more movies filmed at this location, as it provides such a grand and colourful backdrop and would be very useful to period dramas/any movie set in the 20’s/30’s. The film clip from Als Twee Druppels Water (1963) demonstrates how the cinema space can be used effectively in crime/espionage thrillers, as the dark, anonymous space of the auditorium can provide a great set for sneaky, underhand dealings, or hiding from unwanted pursuers. This has certainly been echoed in other crime, thriller and horror films. In the darkness, the auditorium becomes the perfect place to hide – you are faceless – one of the crowd. In this wartime movie, (mistaken) identity is a core theme due to the doppelganger that drags Ducker into the efforts of the Dutch resistance being revealed as non-existent. The transformation of his character was not due to the parachutist, but within Ducker all along. The scene at the Tuschinski could have been filmed in any cinema, however this building provides connotations of opulence and drama, plus the over riding layer of being the most desirable, enjoyable and important cinema space in Amsterdam. The art deco style was established in the 20’s and elements retained through the 30’s and early 40’s in terms of decor and architecture, coinciding with the boom in the crime and film noir genres, thus the dimly lit, warm yellow glow and gothic undertones of this space will always be desirable to match those connotations.

There is little to comment on the transformation of the building over time, as it has been meticulously restored to ensure it retains its style in both interior and exterior. This demonstrates that the importance of this building to remain a monument representational of this era has been recognised by the authorities. This over the top, showy style has proven popular throughout the ages, considering the demise in the contrasting Cineac theater opposite, which posits the distinct opposition in stylistic quality and is no longer used as a theater space. The nostalgic popularity of the art deco style is timeless and retains the links to theater that are inherent in cinematic exhibition, unlike the Cineac’s functionlist style, which appears dated and non transferable to continued cinematic experience.

I would have liked to make closer comparison of the clip and the entryway of the cinema, but this was unfortunately forgotten in the rush to use the interior space for our presentation. It also does not reveal that much, except for minor changes in the barriers of the entryway – the ticket window is still there. When we were outside we had moved on to the other clips. I am glad that Christopher argued our way inside, as it provided a nice space to deliver the presentation away from the distractions of the busy street outside and was easier to show the style of the building to those who had not been inside (although I think most people had). We are planning to contact the Cinetone Cafe in order to reserve a space to deliver next week’s presentation as we are presenting the (now closed) Cinetone Studios.

In order to improve upon our presentation this week, we are planning to pay closer attention to the clips – the one provided on the ipad (Hollands Hollywood (1933)- the cinematic tribute to the newly opened Cinetone Studios) will be explained and contextualised with the history of the studios opening and the ‘state’ of Dutch film making/production processes of the time. We will also link this to Theater De Le Mar which was opened in tribute to the glamourous star – Fien De La Mar, and is still open today. This theatre clearly aims towards luxury in its interior design and grand staircases, but cannot match the Tuschinksi for dark and gloomy glamour! This clip from the Open Beelden website shows footage from 1947 of the opening:
http://www.openbeelden.nl/media/52569/Opening_Theater_De_la_Mar
It is difficult to discuss clips that we cannot show due to lack of internet access on the ipads, but we will endeavour to provide other materials. Ivo has kindly given us some photographic copies of ‘behind the scenes’ shots of films made at the studios, so we will research these films also and the practical requirements of literally ‘building’ the city of Amsterdam.

Whole host of behind the scene and studio shots from Cinetone Studios on the Stadsarchief archive – to be selected as per film research before next week:

http://beeldbank.amsterdam.nl/beeldbank/indeling/grid?q_searchfield=cinetone