Portfolio and Project

November 11, 2010

Project – http://chicagoatnight.tumblr.com

Portfolio – http://kelsonfagan.tumblr.com



Reflection Essay

November 9, 2010

The “Chicago at Night” project was originally established as a dual brained city mapping and creative project. The original goal centered around Wrigleyville – the neighborhood surrounding the famous Wrigley Field – and giving the audience a feel – both visually, musically and instinctively. The project would take video of each street surrounding Wrigley and then add music to the process, to give viewers a sense of what walking these streets might feel like.

Halfway through the process of filming these streets, I realized that so many of the streets around Wrigley are completely dead and visually boring, for lack of a better term. Wysocki notes in her piece that authors of creative works “show by the visual strategies that they want us to understand art as a temporal process pursued by artists in specific places at specific times.” In that same piece she notes the differences in two CD-ROMs on art history, and how the presentation of each made her feel about the work. I learned that I needed to take the audience into account, no matter how much I want them to get a visceral feel for walking city streets, it got to a point where viewers would be staring at nothing but blackness for minutes and minutes on end. So the decision was made to film attractions  that a viewer might have preconceptions about in Chicago.

The places I chose included Navy Pier – the biggest tourist trap in the midwest, a section of The Loop with the historic Chicago Theatre, Millennium Park, the Magnificent Mile – a shopping mecca, and the Wrigley area. Each of these places is a haven for tourists during the day, but the point of the project remained the same . What do these places look and feel like at night?

The resulting videos created a juxtaposition between a preconceived notion of crowds and a sense of busyness with places that were in actuality, sometimes empty and depressing. I’m creating meaning-making within the viewer based on the lens they are looking through. In Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication, Gunther Kress discusses meaning making and how the modes used to disseminate information to viewers can change the meaning. In this instance, the audience for Chicago at Night experiences the videos – complete with soundtrack – in an entirely different way than they would experience walking down the same street in real life. While the camera certainly provides some visual elements, they are still limited by what I want them to see and the music essentially tells the audience how to feel. Both of these elements are reflective of what Kress means when he discussing meaning making and modes.

The project works as more of a “Text + Image” project, instead of a “Text & Image” project because of it’s inherent open ended meaning. The “+” sign is a gesture that references a multitude of meanings in the American vernacular alone it could mean plus, and or even Jesus Christ, if not drawn completely accurately. The project intends to leave an open meaning in that way, while the videos are invoking a feeling within them, it’s not specifically telling them what they should feel. The music is certainly suggestive at some points, but its up to the audiences own meaning making – which is developed from past experiences and their own cultural references – to digest what a certain chord means to them. It is also important to note that it is not important who the intended audience for this project is, because anyone can enjoy these videos, but their experience will be based on the prior knowledge they bring to the videos. Inhabitants of Chicago will certainly understand the visual references more than residents of Lakeland, Florida, but this is not to say that the residents of Lakeland can’t connect with the visual references on an emotional level. It is my hope that residents of Lakeland, and their contemporaries, experience some sort of connection, where residents of Chicago just might find a place they know in “real life.”

Once the video was shot and edited with music, the videos were uploaded to YouTube and a website “Chicago at Night” was established as both an easy way to collect and watch the videos for the audience, as well as create another layer of multimodality in the project – which now includes video, audio, and web interfaces as modes of dissemination. The website also underwent some changes as I utilized several different color schemes to match what I perceived to be the “feel” of the videos. The final product all came together in the past week and, although some technical elements could be tweaked, is exactly the creative force I wanted.

November 8, 2010

1. What did you accomplish last week?

In this past week, I re-shot one segment of the video for my project, trying a different technique out. Instead of a one shot method, I went back to Millennium Park and stood still, taking many different shots of everything in the park. I then edited them together to make a new type of video. The website is completely done.


The music is also completely composed, I just need to record one last song and then edit that song into one last video.

2. What are your goals for next week?

My goal for this week is to have everything finished and double check everything within the site to ensure that everything works.

3. What’s going well?

I was very pleased with how the music matches the video once they were edited together.

4. What’s not going well?

I still have not been able to find a music studio to record in, and the leads I had all but disappeared. So I was resigned to recording on my laptop, which wont give the best quality of sound, but should, theoretically, get the point across.

5. What help do you need from classmates and the instructor?

The only thing I need now is time.

Project Iteration #2

October 27, 2010

1. What did you accomplish last week?

In this past week, I was able to completely finish filming for my video project. Now, the project is not about a specific neighborhood, it is about trendy or touristy type spots throughout Chicago at night. I really like the juxtaposition between these places that are really populated during the day, and somewhat sparse at night. I have filmed at Navy Pier, Millennium Park, State Street near the Chicago Theatre, Clark St near Wrigley Field, and the Hancock Building/Water Tower Place.

In addition to that, I’ve created a website almost entirely – with only a few minor tweaks to do before being finished with the website portion. I used a template from tumblr, but quickly changed it around and made it my own (the template is here http://safe.tumblr.com/theme/preview/998) and have used quite a bit of photoshop to prepare backgrounds.

Thirdly, I’ve have composed half of the songs I will need for the project and I am waiting to record them.

2. What are your goals for next week?

My goals for this upcoming week are to totally finish composing the music, and hopefully, record the music as well. Once that stage is complete, I just need to edit the video and audio together and upload them to YouTube. Once they are on YouTube, I will embed them in the site and then make a few minor tweaks to the site, including making sure the formatting for each page is correct, all links work and the music player at the bottom works.

3. What’s going well?

I think my website looks beautiful and I am very pleased that I was able to closely match my original concept fairly well.

4. What’s not going well?

Music wise, it has been difficult to find a place to record and video wise I’m not totally sold on my “one-shot” approach while walking the streets – mostly due to the shakiness of my camera while walking. I almost want to go reshoot everything with different shots while standing still and then edit them all together, but I feel like this extra work would not be do-able in time.

5. What help do you need from classmates and the instructor?

I think right now, all I need is feedback, I have a pretty good handle on all the technical aspects.

Wrigley at Night

October 4, 2010

Wrigley at night is a short art project mired in both sides of the brain. The basic principle behind it gives an audience a sense of the neighborhood they are walking in at night without actually having to be in that neighborhood. This is Google Street View with emotion and creativity and hopefully engages viewers like they were watching a movie, but also gives them a logistical sense of what the exact streets of the neighborhood look and feel like.

As per our class definition of multimodality – “different modes — images, alphabetic text, motion, color, texture, sound, smell — are influenced by social, economic, and cultural environments,” I’m trying to almost literally blend as many of these texts as possible, both in modes and media being utilized to express my own meaning, but also allowing the audience’s own understanding and cultural background to influence their own perceived meaning.

The project has several different levels that help create the big picture, and each level helps add greater understanding for the viewer. First, there is the video aspect, where I will be walking around the streets of Wrigleyville capturing the night life – which includes the bar scene of Clark Street to the subdued side streets to the more upbeat, and very different nightlife that Halsted brings. For the purposes of my own sanity, I have narrowed the area of Wrigley from Grace Street on the North to Roscoe on the South, going as far West as Racine and as far East as Halstead – I realize this isn’t the true confines of Wrigleyville, but it still encompasses over 35 streets with varying degrees of activity.

The second mode I utilize will be music composition. In addition to, and sometimes in lieu of the sounds of the street, I will be adding and composing a soundtrack to fit behind each section of the video. Loud, perhaps even raucous  music on the busy streets, and slow somber music on the residential streets. Through this second level viewers not only see where they are going, but perhaps, are inclined to feel something through the music being played as they are guided along the street.

The third mode is the interactive website – the current plan is to have a simplistic website where the homepage only contains a few links and an embedded video. I feel like this is important for the telling of the story as Wysocki refers to in her piece, “the makers ….show by the visual strategies that they want us to understand art as a temporal process pursued by artists in specific places at specific times.” Wysocki comments on the fact that both CDs are about art, but one focuses on art as collectors’ items, while the other focuses on the art itself, and this is solely based on the layout of the CD and it’s menus and the way it showcases art. That is why the website’s home page is simplistic. The viewer will watch one video, then using YouTube’s annotations, will be able to select which way they want to go on the street – (a left turn, right turn, straight ahead). I will break down each block into one short video, essentially letting the viewer choose their own adventure and walk the streets of Wrigley in real time. The site will also contain other pages that show an overall map of the area and a video page with each video posted in case they are looking for one specific block.

The viewers’ experience will be comprised of both the meaning originally put into the work and their own experience within that neighborhood, or the feel they get from the chord that strikes as you first see Wrigley Field and all of these elements combined will hopefully earn them a feeling that they wouldn’t have gotten by normally walking down that street.

A mock up example of the site’s homepage.


September 27, 2010

Telescreen – Rumors

The band Telescreen helps illustrate Lauer’s definition of multimodal, without knowing it. Although Lauer describes multimodal interactions geared towards “the cognitive and socially situated work students do in the classroom (238),” rather than for entertainment value, she also notes that Multimodal is created in the construction and concept of the project, rather than the distribution (236).

Telescreen’s live performance leans towards multimodal, and not multimedia, because of the modes created and chosen in the process of writing the song. If you can not tell from the video, the band plays live on a stage, but from behind a huge fast fold projection screen that acts the same was as a visualizer in your iTunes. The screen alternates between video of war scenes, clouds and strobing computer generated graphics and all of these things together create an experience. I can see why the general public would use the term “multimedia” to describe this performance – the band utilizes music, video and themselves to perform.

However, in the conception of these songs, the band decided to actively engage the audience through both the video and the music, to give them a live experience that could not occur without one or the other and needed both elements to exist. This belief closely follows the class’ own definition of multimodal – “the intersection and integration of various modes of communication to achieve the desired communiqué as the message would not be received properly if any of the modes used in multi-modal communication were split up.”


This next example is a bit tricky. This website was developed as part of a marketing scheme for a video game back in 2008 – the game is called Alpha Omega and is actually becomes irrelevant to the conversation – and I will explain why shortly.. What makes this specific example interesting in terms of multimodality is three fold. First, the creativity and mysteriousness behind the actual puzzle uses several different modes, all seemingly essential — symbols, interactive puzzles, vivid imagery and sporadic audio — to engage the audience without telling the audience anything about what is they are playing for. In fact, the use of these separate modes, enhances the audiences interest in the concept, without even knowing what the concept is.

Which leads me to the second aspect – the multimedia platform that this game utilizes. Again, Lauer makes it clear that multimodal is about creation and theory, while multimedia is a term that refers to the function and tools used to broadcast that theory. So while every multimodal project utilizes both – since everything has creation and execution – the Ethan Haas game couldn’t exist without very specific multimedia tools. Even 10 years ago this couldn’t have existed in it’s current state because the technology wasn’t prevalent. The game uses some intense computer generated animation, flash and requires it’s audience to have a computer that will allow it to read this, as well as a high speed internet connection to make it load fast enough and a brain to actually figure the puzzle out.

The third aspect is quite fascinating – at a time when viral video games and promos and hidden codes were being found everywhere (ie, Nine Inch Nails Year Zero), this game came along and everyone assumed it was viral promotion for the movie, Cloverfield. The complete mystery as to what this game was about and the modes and media which it utilized to drum up interest, were both completely relevant, while the content that it was represented was meaningless. People played this game for hours trying to figure out what it meant about Cloverfield, myself included. In remembering this promotion from 2 years ago, I remembered the name Ethan Haas and the type of site it was, and nothing else, not the content it represented, not the URL, but the multimodes and media used to create the site still stuck with me.

(Photo courtesy of Ford in Europe flickr)

My final example of a multimodal project comes from a new, on the rise form of marketing known as projection marketing. In projection marketing companies, in this case “S-MAX“, project imagery onto buildings, sometimes in guerilla fashion and sometimes with approval of the building itself. In it’s simplest form it is not much different from hanging billboards or banners on buildings. I chose this because of it’s duality in being mono and multi modal. Let me explain. In this specific scenario – Ford is promoting their new car with a 2 minute trailer that does contain audio and acts like a trailer to a film. This would still be a great example of the divide between multimodality and multimedia, where modes act as the content and media as the distribution platform for that content. In fact, projectors (the tool)  are often labeled “multimedia projectors.”

The two minute trailer is then followed by a six minute laser/light show – which is what you see above. This is where the duality lies – of course a projection with audio is multimodal, but can just a projection be considered multimodal if it only has lights and images, no text, no gestures and no voice? Lauer might argue that this is still multimodal because we are also inferring things from past experiences and now viewing them in this specific mode, “the mode of writing is affected differently by the affordances and limitations of the medium of the book versus the medium of the screen. (227).”

The  projection grows again past this and becomes entirely interactive – with the audience able to use laser pointers pointed at the projection to literally cut pieces of the image the building – in this instance to cut away ice. This takes the form of an even newer multimodality – the modes of the author and the mode of the audience interpreting the author’s meaning. Lauer notes, ” The notion of the author as a single, solitary voice communicating to his or her audience through the finished product of the book has been transformed as communications media have opened up the possibilities for textual production to be non-linear, hypertextual, continuously revisable, and interactive (227).”

McCloud Categorizations

September 22, 2010

Duo Specific

Word Specific


http://katemariewilson.blogspot.com for the rest

If someone had to choose what type of media town (multimodal, new media or typography) Chicago was because they had a gun to their head, or in this case, had to complete an assignment, they would absolutely see the town as a multimodal town. Based on the definition Kress gives in the first section of “Multimodality” – Chicago is rife with billboards, signs and advertisements that combine typography, color and image to entice readers and consumers.

This might be the easy way out, however. By Kress’ definition, a typographic town would be distinguished by the font and layout of the font on its buildings, street signs and other readable public material. Really, the only type of town that pops into mind that fits the criteria is Rome or Athens, buildings so significantly marked by a specific type of font (U’s that look like V’s) that is so clearly associated with that era and location. To my knowledge, there is no typographic face that screams Chicago.

As for Chicago as a new media town, it could very well be a new media town, but the very purpose of new media is to stray from the very visible  public, real world spaces, thus making it harder to capture on camera. While we all tweet, blog and tumbl about everything we see and do in this city, it’s hard to determine, if in fact the city is begging us to use those media. Thus, I’ve come to the conclusion that Chicago is a multimodal town through the following slide show. Multimodal results below (with a few new media and typography examples thrown in for contrast):

A an example of new media advertising in a traditional multimodal place. Not only is the ad interactive - the "liquor" in the bottle slowly empties as the day of the show premiere draws nearer, but there is also a barscan, that people with smartphones can "scan" and get access to new information about the show.

Signage from the city of Chicago. This is directional signage for passengers of the "L" train, and in sharp contrast to the example in Kress' "Multimodality," the sign is basic, information and in a convenient place. The example in Kress' first chapter indicates that signage was filled with an abundance of information and put in a place with poor visibility. The font choice and size is clearly important in the direction of passengers. It even has arrows, in case you are unaware of "Northbound" means, although Kress argues symbols and gestures are not necessarily internationally recognized.

Three posters absolutely filled with color, image, and text. The middle ad for Express, plays off the typical clothing company ad, and in doing so is the simplest. Text that represents the company and subtly directs people to their website and a vibrant picture of two models, who in theory are wearing Express brand clothes.

This seems like a clear typographic model. The Nordstrom logo looks and feels classic, even though it has only been used since 1990. The font face, though to be Optima, gives off an aura of class and simplicity. The color may change based on Nordstrom building locations, but the font always stays the same.

An ad that utilizes very specific fonts, colors and images to market to the intended audience. The main font that provides all the information seems almost goofy and the cartoonish hills the text sits over, clearly gives a relaxed vibe to the ad. Both of these things make sense for the intended audience, as this is for a jam/reggae type concert, and the stereotype for that audience, may or may not include the word "chill."

This is a good example of color as the primary use in signage. The sign could not be simpler to read, gives the location in a basic font and then allows the colors on the side of the sign to communicate information to the passenger.

I included this ad because of the simplicity and complexity in it. Obviously the layout and font are easy to read and to follow, however the designer uses five different colors, and several different fonts, all while presenting us with a ton of information about these apartments. So the simplicity in the design and layout, allows for easier consumption of the content.


An ad for the sure-to-be-hit television show "Mike & Molly." The ad once again combines multimodal elements, but keeps it simple in the content of the text. "A new comedy," is the only thing we are told about the premise of the show, but the image behind the text tells the rest - a cop who loves his wife, who possibly has a sneaky "I might get into trouble, but I'm sure it will be resolved in 22 minutes" look on her face.

Hello world!

September 9, 2010

This is my first post on wordpress.com. Hello 504.