Beauties, Specters, and Monsters
Project: Portrait of…
Character. Archetype vs. stereotype vs. individual. Cardboard character. Fully fleshed out character.
This next assignment focuses on the challenges of character development. Much of a character’s depth is realized through a combination of its actions, interactions, and supplementary behaviors.
In cinema, a character unfolds over time.
A character is revealed by his/her/its actions.
In media or installation, a character often has to reveal itself in new ways that are non-linear or multi-linear.
Every work – whether that is a Kleenex box, a doorknob, a mascot, or a story’s protagonist has a character to it, that’s made up of its material, content, expression, and environment. This assignment should bring your scrutiny of all the elements that comprise character to the foreground.
Create a portrait. It could be a real or fictional character, or a chimera – a mythical composite beast.
Your project must contain two or three distinct points of view (literal views, time frames, scales, positions, perspectives, or opinions).
Components: 2-3 screens, 2-3 soundtracks, or 2-3 objects or forms. You must make multiples of the same type of medium (i.e. all screens, all toys, all tape decks, all talking shoes).
Ancillary material: Accompanying this should be a 1-3 paragraph character description. You should draw from the character shopping list or hand-out on characyter development. You will make this available to the class.
Questions: What is the central problem or thesis the character wishes to express?
How is your portrait cinematic? Are you dealing with color, tempo, lighting, atmosphere, and scene to help give a sense of this persona?
How are you characterizing your subject? How is she/he/it round, not flat?
Are you alluding to any particular narrative genres?
What are we gaining in character depth, contradiction, or narrative viewpoints from having more than one perspective? How do multiple viewpoints or iterations help make your character “round?”
---- by Prof. Marina ZurkowFor my Interactive Screen and Cinematic Object class, I created a character: Pineapple Man with the Earphone and a Piece of Newspaper.
An old man, sitting on a bench in Washington park in the dark area under the tree, really faraway to see clearly except that his size is big, and he is holding a newspaper, covering his face. Walking closer by, his face is sort of greenish, seems really not smooth at all, with a pair of dark sun glasses, you know, it 's night time… I say "hi" to him, seems he doesn't hear. Oh… I see, he has a big black earphone covering his ears and a piece of "New York Times" in hand. Seems a knowledgeable professor in Politics or Law or Business, I don't know.
While getting closer to him quietly seems doesn't bother him. He is too focus to even notice me.
He keeps nodding as if he reads something important or hears something satisfying. What is he reading and listening?
"Many Health in Disclosure of Nominees’ Holes
By Lawrence Altman
The limited candidates provided by the information is a striking campaign from recent departure in a year when their significance carries extraordinary health... "
Audience Reaction and Critique
After encountering with my pineapple man, audience associated the character with different figures: old man sitting in the park, vacation guy relaxing, woman in 80's since the sun glasses look like that period, or could be anyone... Whether the character is a male or female? Actually, it is a type of people. It actually could be anyone. That's actually my reflection after the critique. But while before the critique, in order to make my character specific and easy to recognize and describe, I want to make the character as an old man as a professor or so. The problems with this character is (from marina and my classmate's critique) :
1, pineapple associates with vacation, Hawaii, and party. as marina and others pointed, as a sculpture, audience always tries to find the symbolic feature and each of them will affect how they perceive the sculpture. I totally feel I should make decisions by putting myself into the role of the audience, coz this pineapple, for me , i associate it with ugly figure, and it seems just me. so to improve the project, also to reflect "it could be everyone or part of everyone" I want to replace the pineapple with a white ball, generic face; OR I want to create 3 or 4 fruit heads, e.g. pineapple, banana, and watermelon. First to make people think that's actually not just this figure, but different people that could belong to this type. Second, to reduce the association of pineapple.
2 sun glasses should be selected carefully. again, that plus the pineapple makes the character more like a vacation guy to the audience.
3 the newspaper: I am happy most of people got the idea and burst into laugh after reading it. the sound: radio news . some people got it, while others didn't hear anything strange. Hulya burst into laugh when she posited the earphone and she pointed out the interesting thing was she realized she was in a conversation with a pineapple. Steven piointed out the consistancy between the newspaper's nonsense and the radio's nonsense. Some people feel the character is making an ironic statement on politics, and Marina feels the character is an alien or a blind voter trying to figure out the "no-way-to-understand" election, I thought that's interesting and also Jose said, that is same as the financial crisis, no one understands what's on the news. The funny thing is people have intepreted what they heart and seen in very different ways. My description of the character is types of people who pretend to care about the news, but actually he/she doesn't understand what's going on. I want to produce many reversal recognitions for audience, and to create the "ah ha, oh, he is such a character that different from what I saw him before reading what he reads and listening to what he listens to" I realized because of it is a newspaper, the contend also matters. I in fact, just want to use the form to show the non-sense, but since the content is about election, people will of course associate the theme with elections. That's another thing I should be careful. On one hand, I could take advantage of the content, and on the other hand, if I don't want people to associate with the content, I should make the paper less specific, not a new york times or so.