June 9th, 2016
The Final exhibited project/installation for FAMST 183, Glitch Production, is titled Glitch Off the Boat. Sarah Ling and I compiled a series of clips from films of Golden Age Cinema and Cinema of the 1940’s, specifically The Cheat (1915) by Cecil B. DeMille and Drums of Fu Manchu (1940) by William Witney and John English and glitched them without audio into a video that is meant to be watched on loop continuously to reflect the perpetuation of racism then and now. The specific scenes chosen displayed the demonic and aggressive representations of Asian and Asian-Americans, connoting that the “orient” or “oriental” is an other that is a danger to society. Cecil B. DeMille has made many films that have been criticized for the racial representations of his characters, notably in Unconquered where Native Americans were represented as rapists and murderers. Thirty minutes into the Cheat the Asian male character Hishituru Tori, played by Sessue Hayakawa, Edith Hardy attempts to Tori back when he denies the payment and instead makes an advance on her and brands her as his property. Coupled with the racial representations at work in this scene involving an aggressive “other” is a melodramatic representation of a female who states she will commit suicide if claimed by Haka and yet when given a gun, does not enact the action followed by her objectification as a possession.
The project was installed outside of Reel Loud Silent Film Festival on the UCSB campus and exhibited on a monitor along side other glitched still images from various scenes in both films. Sarah’s still images were glitched using “Image Glitch Tool” and her Video Glitch Editing was done using After Effects. Sarah was also the overall concept creating pitching this idea half way through the quarter. Shaina glitched photos using Photoshop and VJ Um Amel Glitch Code and glitched video using Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro. Glitch Off the Boat is meant to comment on the demonic, antagonistic, and sexually aggressive representations of Asians and Asian- Americans in Classic Hollywood Cinema by using the theory of glitch as a medium to illuminate and make comments on such representations.
What I find fascinating the use of glitching in Glitch Off the Boat had alternative but also relating purposes to Sarah and I. Sarah saw the Glitch in our project as a way to “critique the construction of Asian male characters as oriental, eroticized, predatory and sexually aggressive to white women. They are always secondary to white men. These artificial and problematic representation of Asian men are an anomaly, a “glitch” of reality and the fictionalized white-washed cinematic world”. I completely agree with Sarah and did not even realize this interpretation and how it was a reflection of a fictional all white cinematic world. While Sarah sees the act of glitching as a way to dramatize these portrayals in an effort to display how ridiculous and offensive they are, I see the purpose of glitching in Glitch Off the Boat as both a way to dramatize these portrayals but also as an overall form of Digital Activism.
Glitch as Digital Activism, to me, means that glitch is the process by which we can advocate for a much more respectful and truthful cinema through, as Sarah was explaining, displaying the ridiculous tropes in cinema in 1915 and in 1940. Glitch can help to create a dialogue.
Prior to this project I pitched an idea for a glitch project where I would glitch close up videos of patterns in nature. My purpose in glitching close up videos of patterns in nature was the hyperbolize and display the micro aspects of nature that are hard to see in the naked eye. Glitching in this project would have been similar to the Glitch theory that was the basis for Glitch Off the Boat which was to illuminate and display the ridiculous of the patterns behind the racial stereotypes of the “orient”. We hope to have inspired viewers to see, through an in-depth and critical analysis, the connotations and perspectives at work in such films and how they perpetuate sentiments of racism and racial stereotypes not only in film but in all aspects of media.
What I learned from this project was not only the production techniques of glitching using different processes and different platforms but also how to exhibit a work. When the piece was exhibited I found it difficult to be present as I was consistently disappointed by people’s apathetic attitude towards the work. They would come up, look at the screen and not even watch it on loop or not even watch the less than five minute video all the way through. People would not even read the logline or the treatment which would have given them a very nuanced understanding of glitch theory, how it reflects to our project/exhibit, and the purpose and concept behind our exhibit in general. If I had to do this project again I definitely would be present because there was something very fulfilling about watching and meeting the people who are enjoying the project you worked really hard to create but there was something also disheartening watching people disrespect it to some sense by not giving it a significant amount of time. I analyzed why people were doing this and I really think it was because our installation wasn’t the reason they were coming to the area. They came to enjoy the silent film festival, Reel Loud. If our Glitch Project had its own exhibit exclusive from other organized events I think the people attending would ONLY be attending for our installations and give it a more significant portion of their attention.
Places that could be productive to install our exhibit and have viewers come to the location with the purpose and intention of looking at glitch art would be at the Glass Box Gallery on campus and at the Asian American Culture and Art Festival at the Puente Hills Mall. Both of those locations would be great settings to install the Glitch Off the Boat project. The Glass Box Gallery would be a good location because it is a place where people go to see student work. The Asian American Culture and Art Festival would also be a good location as it would be an appropriate place to display the incorrect and humiliating racial representations of Asian Americans in the history of American cinema by critically analyze media, film and television promoting a more truthful understanding of the Asian American culture.
Another thing I would change in the project would to add sound. Everyone else’s project had sound and I think it would have gained the viewers additional concentration and added complexity to our overall project. Since we were the only project that didn’t have sound I think that instead of it looking like a purposeful choice by us it looked like a mistake or a lazy act by us. But it makes me think what type of glitch music or sound would I have added and I’m not quite sure. Similar to the concept behind the Kuleshov Effect, music acquisition and addition can have a big impact of the mood created in a movie or small film sequence. If I had a really nostalgic and emotional song in the background people would maybe see the film sequence as positive, but if I added extremely industrial music with a grim almost horrific mood to it people would be scared and it would add to the hyperbolizing of the horrific and demonic racial representations.
All in all this project was not only extremely productive a I learned how to collaborate with a partner which I found extremely fulfilling and inspiring as my partner is very intelligent and helpful, but also productive in terms of production techniques. I got to learn Processing and glitch production using Text Edit, Glitch Code and Adobe After Effects. I think most importantly I learned the importance, significance, and impact behind having theory behind your art. For me, art that is solely based off of aesthetics is counter productive. Art with a theory and metaphysical purpose behind it is not only more nuanced and prolific in its meaning but also a way to touch people and share important ideas in a more complex and meaningful manner.