Category Archives: Artists

The End… Final Posting

As I am wrapping up my project, I can surely say that I have accumulated a deeper belief and point of view on the importance of keeping our environment healthy, especially our New York City environment. As you all know, my project was focused on green space within urban environments. I focused on why they are necessary for our personal health and for the overall health of the city. I have always loved the outdoors and nature. That is what initially pointed me in this direction, but after spending a lot of time creating and investigating this topic and coming up with a final piece, I have a different relationship with the parks in our city. I have discovered that they are more than just a place for wildlife and trees to thrive, they are also a place for us to exercise, play and essentially escape. They hold so much importance.

Initially my idea for the project, was to interview several people about our green space and create a video montage of their responses. As I was in that process, I realized that it was turning out to not be the most creative or effective way to get the point across.

SO I kept the footage I took but instead of filling the video with interviews, I filled it with a mix of my voice, breath and music that I placed over the video clips. I wanted to find the more creative edge, to really capture the audience and catch them off guard. The video leaves space for the audience’s interpretation, but requires them to think introspectively and openly about what our inner city environment is doing to us. We call ourselves the Big Apple, but our red delicious is in fact rotting at the core. I took this idea and translated it by relating it to the body’s breath patterns.

The music I chose for the piece is from a site called “Epidemic Sound.” This site is created for video makers to choose from the music library provided. The songs are all 100% royalty free and content ID safe and cleared for all multimedia projects. The song is called “Nonchalance and Fabulance 2” created by Marc Torch. It is under the film category and sub category beautiful.

This was an exciting and grueling experience for me, since I am new to working with Adobe Premiere Pro 2015 and took this as an opportunity to challenge myself and create an artistic piece in a medium that was somewhat foreign to me.

Here is the finished piece…

 

Final Project Update

Throughout my time in Greenworld, I’ve become extremely uncomfortable knowing and witnessing firsthand how common illegal idling occurs every day in New York City. I will be writing and directing a short film concerning the urgency of addressing illegal engine idling on a local level in New York City, especially now that America has a new President-elect. This matter has never been more urgent than right now. The President-elect’s notions regarding climate change or preserving and protecting our environment are pitiful and terrifying. I am not one to claim someone is wrong. However, scientific facts exist to prove his statements are based on opinions, not facts and are therefore incorrect.

Anyway, back to the project… I first learned from George Pakenham that there has been an anti-idling law on the books in New York City since 1971 and has gone almost unenforced, all the more emphasizing the blatant disregard and terrifying indifference this important health and environmental issue brings to light. Ultimately, I will be using this filmmaking platform to make idling enforcement more of a priority as well as to educate people of Bill 717, an anti-idling bill currently being proposed and reviewed in New York City, the monetary incentive New Yorkers could receive by reporting illegal idling if Bill 717 passes (which happens to be a comfortable yearly salary), core traits and reasoning behind human behavior (specifically why people do not take action when they know what they’re doing is wrong or is not helping a good cause), and finally, distributing information on how to continue moving forward with this issue, which is by going from the top down and inundating specific members of the NYPD with statistics regarding the immediate action necessary to make anti-idling enforcement more prevalent in NYC and to begin discussing this issue more around the internet to increase awareness of what tremendous damage this is contributing to the environment.

My new friend, Isabelle B. Silverman of the Core Fuel Engine Group has been kind enough to discuss my final project with me and she’s provided me with some excellent places to start taking action prior to knowing whether Bill 717 gets passed or not. For instance, anyone could send countless email to the NYPD Chiefs Michael Pilecki and Chief Chan.  Chief Chan is the head of the NYPD Transportation Unit and Pilecki is his Deputy. Isabelle also suggested reaching out to Mayor DeBlasio and asking him to make idling enforcement more of a priority especially given the thousands of 311 calls on idling that’ve resulted in no action. Here are their two emails:

thomas.chan@nypd.org

michael.pilecki@nypd.org

Webpage where submission for Mayor DeBlasio can be made:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/static/pages/officeofthemayor/contact.shtml

We should also be tweeting about this and posting on Facebook. Any social media presence helps!

Inundating them with these emails, tweets, and Facebook messages should help tremendously because they will have to start talking about it. There is also the possibility that students could start a social media campaign, even write a Care2 petition and get it signed online. Here’s some of the text from Isabelle. She believes it could be sufficient to be emailed, tweeted, or posted on Facebook:

“Illegal engine idling considerably contributes to bad air quality and noise which is why, since 2010, 40,000 New Yorkers have filed 311 idling complaints. Idling is clearly an important issue to New Yorkers but the 311 complaints don’t lead to tickets because the vehicle is gone by the time the DEP gets the complaint. The NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agents (TEA) are the city agents that are best suited to hand out idling tickets. Currently, TEAs only issue about 2,500 idling tickets compared to 9 million expired meter tickets.  Given that issuing idling tickets is more confrontational because the driver is usually in the vehicle, please dispatch a few hundred TEAs in pairs and make it their main focus to issue idling and double-parking tickets. Often, double-parked vehicles also idle so they should get two tickets. This law has been on the books since 1971 and has gone almost unenforced. Thank you very much for your consideration to this important health issue!”

‘Brandicapped’ The Crazy World of Branding

This short story by MEL! Epstein, immerses the reader into a town once removed from modern society. It follows the  Brandologist Dr. Melman while he comes across the town and begins to spread his knowledge of branding, in order to help the foreign community strive.

In “Brandicapped,” the town is called Some Place. Some Place is unknown, but proficient at manufacturing the finest white shirts in America. The only problem is that if you don’t live in Some Place, you have no idea they even exist.

Some Place represents the artist who never advertises or shares their work. Every member of the town, works in the factory, producing the shirts, buying the shirts and then proceeding to wear the shirts. To them this system seems perfect.

Brandologist Dr. Melman represents the art galleries which are available for artists to show their work, get art lovers to buy their work all in the hopes of making more profit and creating a name for themselves. While promising to help change Some Place’s lack of branding appearance, Dr. Melman experiences resistance from the community of Some Place.

In the end, the people take his help and use the branding ideas to expose their town and share with the public that they make the finest white shirts in America. This will increase revenue, invite more people into the town and allow more work for the factory men.

This story, is important for up and coming artists, like myself for it teaches the value of selfbranding. Whether it be a well constructed resume, an online portfolio or a social media page. In order to be successful in this business, one has to self- brand themselves in a creative, catchy and memorable way.

What makes one stand out like the white shirts make Some Place stand out? What catches the casting director’s or employer’s eye that intrigues them to look at you or read about you? How can you create a brand for yourself that helps you become more successful?

These are all questions I am asking myself and my fellow art comrades.

Through further research on this topic, I found this TED Talk about the importance, danger and challenges of branding. It helped me round out the moral of the story and the relation it has to the present artistic world. Check it out!

 

The Final Snap

As everyone is well aware, my project throughout this semester has been to create a snapchat by NYU students for NYU students to become more aware of what we’re doing wrong on campus and easy, quick solutions to reroute ourselves. I think it’s so important to start with your own community before trying to change the world and that’s what I did here! NYU actually has an office of sustainability that does a lot to make sure the campus reduces its carbon footprint and waste in general. But it’s a two way street, and we have to play our part if we expect significant change to happen. What i’ve realized after interviewing the many college students that I did is that everyone is well aware that there is a problem, but they are so caught up with the business of life, that they’re waiting for someone else to start the change. And that waiting is what is dangerous.

This snapchat has been a great opportunity for me to deliver this information to the students of NYU in a way that is easy and fun to swallow. Because snapchat is so quick and easy, it is the perfect platform for this demographic, because students don’t have to take the time out of their busy schedules to get informed: I’m providing them with information in 10 seconds or less, in a way that is also entertaining.

In class, I’ve realized environmental issues are presented in documentaries in sad and miserable ways and I wanted to take the complete opposite approach tonally and try to make people laugh: because yes, the environment is in a bad place, and yes NYU has a lot of work to do to become better, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun in our activism!

So instead of babbling on about what i’m trying to do, let me just show you with these compilation videos from my snap stories:

So a huge part of the success of my project lies in viewers! It’s important to me that students are seeing the snapchat, because that is my target audience. Since I interviewed a lot of strangers and went around campus, I made every student I met add me on snapchat and the results have been great! As you can tell from the picture below, each little ten second (or less) clip gets an average of 60-80 viewers! My hope is to be able to pass the snapchat onto Peter and another student can take on the role next semester to keep this an ongoing way to reach out to our NYU community and get us on the list of greenest campuses across the USA!

IMG_0534 IMG_0535

Update – CitySeed Launch

My CitySeed co-founder, Skyye James, and I are in the midst of planning a launch event on April 21st (in preparation for Earth Day)! We have been working on a program to run at Brittany Hall, the freshman dorm on Broadway and 10th Street. The program’s main activity will be planting CitySeeds with each resident that attends. We will be monitoring the CitySeed growth these participants see through the social media hashtag #MyCitySeed. Students will share pictures of their healthy plants before the semester concludes.

We also had our first photo shoot to begin building our website with original media content.

CitySeed
CitySeed

We started planting microgreens and basil, which usually begin to sprout in 5-10 days! We will keep you updated with plenty of pictures and videos!

Follow us on social media! Our Instagram AND Twitter handle is @cityseednyc ! We will definitely follow back!

In my last blog post I shared pictures from the experimental film I had been working on. Well, I’m finally done and the I’d love it if you could watch and share it! I want my kids to grow up in a nuclear free world, and I hope this film will make more people agree with me!

 

Unless Update

I have been working on my final project for around a month now and have found some very interesting material that I am excited to share with the class.  I have been dissecting Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax”, taking the individual components of the story and applying them to various modern day events in order to show that a children’s book is not only for entertainment purposes but can also be used as a learning device in order to encourage change in the world.  As an artist, I believe that we can use various mediums in order to reach people of many ages.  What I have found in my research is what makes “The Lorax” such an important book for environmental change, is that it reaches various ages. Adults (school teachers, parents, babysitters) read this story to children and therefore audiences of various ages receive the message of the story.                                                                                                     images

What I think is special about my project is that I am taking Dr. Seuss’ message and presenting it in a way that makes the fanciful world of Seuss more concrete.  I have provided evidence to show how the make believe world Seuss has created is actually not far off from the truth of our current society.  I am excited to start putting the finishing touches on my project and share my work with you!

 

Documentary Activism and Formation

Idle Threat and Racing Extinction: Two passion driven documentaries about a group of people acknowledging issues that are a threat to our environment and our planet, and actively pursuing the goal of minimizing the damages that come from these issues.

On one hand you have Racing Extinction with a Hollywood production budget, dealing with global-scale issues in regards to animals that have been extinct and some that are on the verge of being extinct. The film takes us to several different countries across the world and introduces several different methodologies that these driven journalists, artists and scientists use to fight this battle.

On the other hand you have Idle Threat with a minimalistic production budget in comparison to Racing Extinction, dealing with a much more local issue of curbside engine idling in New York City. George Pakenham seeks help and support from the City of New York, rather than taking this issue to a global level. Pakenham uses humor to keep his audience engaged with the documentary, which is a tactic that Racing Extinction doesn’t use.

While Racing Extinction’s insane production budget makes the film a spectacle for larger groups of people across the globe, Idle Threat has a more relatable and conversational tone that allows us to connect with the subject easily.

Nonetheless, both documentaries were eye opening and reassuring that environmental activism can have satisfying results.

On that note, I would like to give some updates on my project.

As you all know, I am working on creating a performance art piece to raise awareness about the Flint Water Crisis.

I am currently finishing up my research on individuals who were/are effected by this tragic event. With the data I collect from my research, I am going to start writing monologues representing different characters. This is similar to the work that Anna Deavere Smith does.

I was also inspired to use this device of using character distinction as a way of sending a message from a TED talk that I watched last year by Sarah Jones, in which she portrays nearly six different characters from her own life to describe her diverse background and the benefits of diversity within a specific community.

Additionally, I started developing choreography to Beyonce‘s new controversial song “Formation“. The music video to the song is highly political and features tons of strong statements. However, I’m not sure if the lyrics of the song suggest the same. Beyonce released “Formation” during the height of the Flint Water Crisis, which is a curious action on her part. Therefore, I am interested in exploring ways in which the two might be related to one another.

The (Nuclear) Power of Art Activism

After seeing the phenomenal documentary Racing Extinction, and hearing George Pakenham speak and screen his film “Idle Threat”, I began looking at my own role in art activism. I’m in film school to tell the stories I’m most interested in; this means climate change should be a theme in my work. I reflected on all of my previous blog posts to get inspiration for a short film I could make in my spare time. In the end I chose to further explore my blog post “Maybe Milk Isn’t So Healthy” through stop motion photography. As I brainstormed ideas, I thought about my favorite scenery in and around New York. I immediately thought of Rockaway Beach, where I spend many of my summer days, and Bear Mountain, where I go to escape the city and work up a sweat hiking. I thought it would be interesting to juxtapose toxins and contaminates with the beauty of nature. Clearly I wouldn’t be using real nuclear waste in my film, so I thought Holi powder would be an interesting visual stand-in for toxins. I began shooting stills on Rockaway Beach and Bear Mountain with these powders.

Bear Mountain
Bear Mountain
Rockaway Beach
Rockaway Beach

I focused on hands at first to play with the concept of a foreign, toxic substance in direct contact with the human body. I went on to take photographs of faces and entire bodies covered in these saturated hues.

 

 

 

I’m still working on finishing and uploading my film online. I want to make it easily accessible to spread awareness about the harm of exposure to nuclear toxins. As I mentioned in my blog post “Maybe Milk Isn’t So Healthy,” scientists think that people who were children during the period of atomic bomb testing (1940s-1960s) are at higher risk for developing thyroid cancer (National Cancer Institute).

This issue extends beyond the 1960s, because nuclear power is still widely used all over the world, and nuclear weapons are being manufactured by powerful governments. Once nuclear energy is created, we are left to deal with the disposal of the waste. There is no proven way of disposing of this waste without eventually harming living organisms. So, if we don’t have a solution to deal with this toxic waste, why are we relying on nuclear energy for our power and nuclear weapons for defense?

Rockaway Beach
Rockaway Beach

 

Projection of Nuclear Bomb Test
Projection of Nuclear Bomb Test

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please look out for next blog post, in which I will link my short experimental documentary! I would really appreciate if you shared my film so it can gain some attention before Earth Day on April 22nd!

Art For The Environment

I found both Racing Extinction and Idle Threat: Man on Emission to be perfect examples of using art for an environmental and humanitarian purpose.

The team in Racing Extinction chose to perform their piece on a larger and more poetic scale, while I found George Pakenham to use his humor on a more local scale.

I admire how both parties managed to create a work that corresponds to what they personally believe in whether it be the extinction of species, or the idling of cars.

Racing-Extinction.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smart

It is true that such a monumental exhibition as the one found in Racing Extinction is quite breathtaking at first sight because it makes us immediately understand that we are part of a much larger world and that we must keep other Earth beings in mind even though we live in the urban city of New York. 

It also struck me that George Pakenham’s technique was equally as effective in helping the environment as it gave people in their cars an immediate solution on how to be more eco-friendly and considerate of their surroundings.

idling

I think that both documentaries demonstrate two very opposite ways to raise awareness for a cause but I do believe that George Pakenham’s idea is much more tangible and perhaps more applicable to students like us. I found myself becoming much more aware of my surroundings after seeing Idle Threat: Man on Emission. I started to pay attention to the idling vehicles parked on the street outside my window and became bothered by the smell they brought into my bedroom. It made me realize that pollution is not something that anyone can ignore at this point since it even penetrates into everyone’s personal homes.