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Response to Diane Arbus

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CC Flickr: gnackgnackgnack

In a documentary about Diane Arbus titled “Masters of Photography”, someone mentioned that she likes to “work from awkwardness”. This captured my attention. Apparently, she said that she does not like to arrange things (this, amongst other things reminded me of Henri Cartier-Bresson). When standing in front of something, she prefers to move herself rather than arrange the object. I think that this is what she means by saying that she works from awkwardness. There is that notion of a natural order- even though there may be something awkward about it. By not disrupting it, the image seems less staged and more real, which in turn provides a more believable experience for whoever is viewing the image.
She also talked about feeling safe behind the camera. She said that when she looks at the world through a lens, she rarely gets scared, even when someone is angrily approaching her. This again reminded me of Henri Cartier-Bresson, who talked about the camera being a machine-gun, a weapon. Cartier-Bresson said that a photograph is a way of shouting how you feel. –Now that I think about it, there is a difference. Diane believes that when you have a camera, everybody knows you have the edge. You are holding some sort of magic. It is hard for me to interpret this, maybe because nowadays everybody has a camera in their phone, so it is not as atypical as it was back then.

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Response to “Jon” by George Saunders

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CC flickr: Fists With Your Toes



I was taken by surprise by this short story. I found it pretty interesting and original, except that it was a bit hard for me to understand what is going on in the beginning. I read through an article on the internet about it before I started reading to be able to grasp it, because I guess when you really don’t expect something, even when its right in front of you, you will not understand since you can’t wrap your head around it actually happening. If you know what I mean. Well, the story starts off very shockingly, going into great detail about masturbation and sexual teenage exploration. The protagonists were in some kind of weird facility filled with branded products and seem to use slogans to speak a lot. I liked the fact that it seemed to be a love story, talking about jealousy and mostly sacrifice? Jon had to make a decision and I believe he made the right one.

Albums without Sound

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 Out of the whole series of fictitious album covers (without sound), this was my favorite. Eric Sena, the creator of this idea and of this album cover thought of a fun and creative thing to do. He is creating a new album cover each day using random entries from Wikipedia, QuotationsPage, and Flickr. So he basically takes a randomly generated quote, which he uses as the title for the album (part of the quote). He also generates the name of the band randomly by a search engine on Wikipedia. From Flickr he generates a random photo which will be the album cover itself.
I chose the album above, because I just could not believe how randomization (and a creative mind) can create something so well fitting. Here, the band name is Mass Flow Rate, which is a term that comes from physics. Mass flow rate is the mass of a substance which passes through a given surface per unit of time. This just fits the picture so well, because we see a sea of water. The album title is It Goes On Forever, which also fits the idea of the vast sea in the album cover.
I love how Sena used white font for the band name, and placed it in the sunlight, while the album name is written using a darker font and placed in the sky.
Of course, the mass flow rate is time-dependant, and so is our day. That’s why I love that we are seeing a sunrise, which represents time moving. I love this!

Response to “How Images Think” by Ron Burnett

Ron Burnett makes a very interesting point, which I mentioned in one of my previous posts where I was criticizing radio and comparing it to TV. He mentions that stories are not limited to words, they are expressed through shapes and forms and colors and motives. I think that the notion that an image can tell a thousand words is absolutely correct. It is all up to the viewer and listener to interpret what they see, it is even up to them to see what they want to see. (a lot of see’s in this sentence :D) I think that through the technology that is available to us nowadays, we are so used to seeing images that our brains automatically process information given to us by these images in certain predictable ways (advertisers and marketers make use of this very often). I think that discovering these common connections we automatically make would be very interesting, because it would not only reveal to us how things are presented, but also teach us how to show people what we want them to see when we create an image.

Response to “Living with Cancer”

It is not very easy to talk about cancer, but it is very important to be aware of this topic since so many people have to deal with it. Apparently, half the population has to deal with cancer at some point in their lives, which is incredibly disturbing to me. To be honest, it scared me quite a lot hearing about this. When I think about it, I only know of one person who had cancer in my family. It was my grandfather who died of lung cancer and whom I never met because of this. He was a very heavy smoker. Otherwise, none of my family members have had any type of cancer. I haven’t looked at statistics, but I believe that I have heard before that in the U.S. there is more cancer related sickness than in most Central-European countries and in my opinion this is due to how recklessly Americans use chemicals and different types of hormones in their food. Maybe someone should look into that, because the U.S. used to be a very economically strong country (which is, sadly, changing now as well) so it is weird that they do not take good care of their people. But who am I to judge, huh? Maybe my view is too influenced by the hit show “Mad Men”, where everybody drinks 10 liters of alcohol a day and smokes 10 packs of cigarets. It’s actually quite fitting to mention this show, because just yesterday I watched the episode where the only person that actually knows Don (the main character) dies of cancer. This was one of the saddest moments on the show, and after listening to the radio piece it made me think about this any more. I cannot imagine how I would react if one of my relatives or good friends told me they had cancer. I would not want to believe it at first, probably. If I was diagnosed with cancer, I would be crushed. But I think it is important to fight it and not give up.
Now to get back to the structure of the radio segment, I think it was made incredibly well. The different stories painted a picture, which made me think a lot. Music and different sounds underlined the piece, which was nice but sometimes just a little unnecessary in my opinion. Sometimes I just wanted to hear my thoughts and whoever was speaking, but there was some annoying tune, but thats fine, I think it was just me and how uncomfortable I was with one of the stories. I think it is hard to know how to treat someone who has cancer, because obviously it is unnatural to be thinking about it while you are speaking with them. You don’t want to be pretending everything is normal because that is just awkward, but you don’t want their whole lives to be consumed with people asking about the sickness and so on. I remember reading a very interesting story about this in my english class with Brian, not realizing how real it can be.

Response to “Sound Reporting”

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CC Kevin Felt

If it doesn’t sound right, it isn’t right. I think that is something that resonated throughout this whole excerpt. It is incredibly interesting how polarized the difference between written and spoken language can be. Why is it that some of the things we have been taught for years in school become unusable in the case of radio? Maybe because radio isn’t supposed to achieve the same effect as an academic article. Radio should be more natural. More like a conversation between two people. The excerpt mentions that as well. When addressing the huge masses of people that are listening, it is important to pretend that you are talking to one person. Like a dialog in a way.  This notion of a “conversation” or a talk is something that I enjoy on radio. It’s also the reason why I don’t like listening to news on radio. Something that was rather surprising is the fact that I enjoyed the Valentine’s Day radio show, reason being that they were telling a story in a very casual way. I enjoyed listening because it felt like one of my friends telling me about their experience and what not. In my opinion, the most important thing is the story itself. Then, the way you tell it comes into play, because if you don’t tell your story well, nobody will listen, even if the content itself is good.
The excerpt contained many good tips, but something that no one should overlook is keeping it light, simple and natural!

Response to “Valentine’s Day 2013”

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This was quite surprising. I noticed a few unexpected things after listening to this radio episode. First of all, I really like the idea of telling a few stories. At first 58 minutes seemed like a really long time, but it was spread out nicely across the different stories. Of course, some I liked and some I didn’t. I think that if I were listening to this in my car, I would have just turned it off after the second story (which was also my favorite). It was for class so I listened till the end. I noticed that what they did very often is underline the stories with music. I know that any ambient must be relevant to the story somehow but here I felt that they overdid it a few times. An example for this would be the part in the second story, where he is talking about the whole 30 days being like a race. As he said the word “race”, this weird fast paced music started playing, which was kind of comical but I felt like it did not belong into that part of the story, because all it did is distract me. In other parts I really felt that the ambient sounds were useful and underlined the track well.
With these short stories, I really discovered two important things. First of all, sometimes its better to just hear voices and not see the people speaking. I think that their appearance was completely irrelevant and would only distract me. The other thing I discovered is that when listening to a story, it is not a good idea to do anything else. Each word brings the story forward, and so when multitasking, obviously sometimes you miss a few sentences and therefore miss important parts of the story. I am so used to tuning out background music (which I basically play whenever possible- even while studying), that I automatically without even wanting it tuned out what they were saying when I wasn’t focused enough.
So all in all I think that my expectations for this audio sections have risen. As long as I find a way to sit down and focus on something I cannot see, only hear, I think I will enjoy myself and listen to radio without any troubles! I can see that my perception of radio was not completely right, and that there must be some fundamental constraint which prevents our generation to listen to it, because as mentioned earlier, there are things that only radio can provide, which TV or books cannot.