The Boys are back – and this time they brought dogs. Oh, how I adore OK Go.
Monthly Archives: September 2010
Sept. 2 – a lovely art opening! Thanks BRCC and my talented colleagues.
We’re talking about postmodern values in mass communication class. Our text identifies those values as populism, diversity, nostalgia and paradox. That’s a hard list to remember – I keep having to look it up. But when I saw these crowd-shot videos from Radiohead’s 2009 concert in Prague – those values began to make sense. I think Radiohead may be the ultimate post-modern band.
Populism: Radiohead used dozens of videos collected from their fans who attended the Prague concert. This seems to be consistent with Radiohead’s bold move in 2007 to release their In Rainbows album as a digital download for which buyers set their own price. That album won a Grammy and sold 3 million copies worldwide in digital and physical formats. This band has a relationship of trust and collaboration with their fans. Pretty populist.
Diversity: Diversity is described as a wild juxtaposition of old and new cultural styles. This sophisticated band could surely hire the best in videographers and filmmakers – yet chose to piece together video shot from cell phones and pro-sumer cameras. The audio track is gorgeous – totally professional. The video becomes more interesting just based on the knowledge that the fans shot it.
Nostalgia: This band has rejected cultural norms of charging a fixed price and only hiring professionals to handle all of their imagery. This could fit what what our text calls a response to the “evils” of our daily world and the limits of the purely rational. Given the feelings of powerlessness and alienation that marks the contemporary age – the move to include fans in building Radiohead’s image could be called one of nostalgia.
Paradox: “While modern culture emphasized breaking with the past in the name of progress, postmodern culture stresses integrating retro styles with current beliefs.” Media and Culture; Campbell, Martin, Fabos. p. 27. These videos are indeed a paradox – integrating non-professional camera with professional editing and audio production.
I’m liking the results – what about you?
Excited! Today is the opening reception (4-6pm) for EMU Visual and Communication Arts faculty show at Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, VA. After years (okay decades) of broadcast and internet-based pieces – my digital media has migrated to a video frame on the wall of an art gallery.
If you come by today you’ll get to check out this piece titled Expand Everything. Experiment Everything:
Here’s what Cyndi Gusler is showing:
These crafty madonnas are Barbara Faust’s:
Introducing Jerry Holsopple:
And here’s one of Steve Johnson’s pieces:
Sooo, here’s a question. Why would a cranky, cynical, seemingly secular urbanite like me delve into a serious journey examining spirituality and faith? Well, in the past few years I’ve been hanging out with Anabaptists – first as an M.A. student in Conflict Transformation at Eastern Mennonite’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and now as digital media faculty with EMU’s Visual and Communication Arts Program.
These folks are radical. They throw down for justice. They don’t fly a flag because they won’t commit to the State (only to God). Anabaptists are profoundly non-violent and I am discovering how this plays out in interactions all over the community. I am pushed and pulled (non-violently!) by this set of practices and am in a process of discovery with (among so many others) a formidable Mennonite mentor named Beryl.
Apparently, I am not the only non-Mennonite exploring the modern implications of this 500-year-old faith whose followers consider themselves (and often actively place themselves) on the fringe of society. The first reading assignment Beryl and I will explore together will be the recent book intriguingly titled “The Naked Anabaptist” – written by an Anabaptist “outsider” named Stuart Murray. I’ll get back to this topic throughout the semester as Beryl, other EMU colleagues and I compare notes.
In the meantime, here is an excerpt from an interview with Murray. His quote that Anabaptism “is a way of following Jesus that challenges, disturbs, and inspires” rings true.
Why do you think there is growing interest in Anabaptism in Great Britain and other countries in Europe?
Europe has become very secular. The old links between the church and the state—what used to be called “Christendom”—are disappearing. Today we are living in a post-Christendom era, when the church is no longer at the center of societal life. Since the early Anabaptists also lived at the margins of society, their experiences and perspectives are attractive to many people who are looking for ways to live faithfully as follows of Jesus today.
What are the bare essentials of Anabaptism for you?
For me, there are seven essentials, or core convictions. First and foremost is belief in Jesus; he is our example, teacher, friend, redeemer and Lord. The second is seeing Jesus as the focal point of God’s revelation. The third is being free from the state and all that Christendom implied.
Fourth, Anabaptists are committed to finding ways to be good news to the poor, powerless and persecuted. Fifth, Anabaptist churches are called to be communities of discipleship and mission, friendship, mutual accountability and multi-voiced worship. Sixth, spirituality and economics are interconnected for Anabaptists—something that is very important in our individualist and consumerist culture.
Finally, for Anabaptists peace is central to the gospel. It is not the center of the gospel—Jesus is the center of it all. It is as followers of Jesus that we are committed to finding nonviolent alternatives to violence in our world—not peace for its own sake.