Finance is one of those industries that, because of how negatively it has impacted so many people, it gets a pretty bad rap. Perhaps deservedly so.
But there are institutions out there that are leveraging the principles of finance and taking them to a grassroots and more human level.
My friend & colleague Dan Seguin is (among other things) a photojournalist who has put together a photofilm on RSF Social Finance – an organization that is looking at communal needs rather than personal gain, and puts finance into a different context.
People’s attention spans have shortened. Wait – are you still with me?
I said, people’s attention spans have shortened. For instance, I am no longer able to recite Sophocles from memory. And if I could, who would listen?
A few years ago, when I was writing more frequently about the “future of journalism”, the struggles and growing pains of traditional news outlets were mostly based around a) funding and b) competing for audiences believed to be no longer able to concentrate for long periods thanks to technological changes.
Well, journalism funding models are still primarily stuck in a pay-wall / subscription paradigm, but an interesting shift has happened around content. And you can see it in pieces like the Guardian’s NSA Files Decoded. Continue reading →
One of my biggest interests over the last couple of years has been building beats. For the uninitiated, “beats” in this context equals instrumental hip hop tracks, focused mostly on texture, juxtaposition and getting a good head nod going. You can hear my take on this art form here, but that’s not really what this post is about.
Damu the Fudgemunk is a musician who has been using YouTube to showcase his approach to making beats for a few years now. He’s garnered a solid reputation and landed production gigs by using YouTube to get his name and style out there. So that’s one reason why he should be interesting to the Fauna Corp faithful – he has brought his art and passion together and built a brand for himself via online video, and people keep tuning in because he’s got skills and charisma.
Damu’s latest video (filmed and edited by JNota) has him playing live drums and talking about his approach to rhythm. I thought this video was especially relevant for Fauna Corp because the production values are solid without being flashy (text overlays in capslock, san-serif fonts, video shot with slight vignette effect, nice saturation, and solid editing), and the subject matter is so particular.
If you are new to the world of beatmaking, the considerations that Damu discusses (poly-rhythms, tone and placement of hi-hats, different producers’ techniques for kick and snare textures, etc.) are the very same ones that beatmakers obsess over every day. For a musical form often referred to as “boom-bap”, It is a style filled with surprising subtlety, and reinterpreting / re-purposing the licks and riffs of previous masters is part of the art. So for Fauna Corp readers that means: learn from the best, lift what you can, make it all your own.
So Damu’s latest video is instructional to Digital Creatives in three ways:
It shows how being passionate and genuine in online video can be a way to further your craft, reach new audiences and establish your brand;
It shows how simple, tasteful production techniques can be used to make engaging videos that resonate with audiences both inside and outside your community;
And it shows how the minutiae of any interest or past-time – whether it is beatmaking, visual art, weird sports, or even political upheaval in Sudan – can be studied and obsessed over so that your own output is a natural (but not unconscious) extension of what you’ve learned, hybridized and interpreted.
Check out Damu’s latest video, and see if you agree that there are things to learn from, regardless of what your digital output is about.
Get into what you are into, and you can get others into it too. And, as always, feel free to leave a comment here on Fauna Corp.
Part of what I love about digital creativity is that if you are always receptive to inspiration, the internet’s tangential structure will eventually reward you.
For example, at work this week, I needed videos of epic fails and colossal wipeouts, and instead found a beautiful doc that basically showcases the opposite perspective. It won’t directly or immediately help my work, but it dovetails with my other interests and can inspire forms of creativity that may.
Choose Not to Fall is a short (3-or-so minute) documentary by Matthew Marsh and Sam Rowland of 63 Productions, focusing on parkour / free runner Daniel Ilabaca.
In the doc, Ilabaca talks about the mental aspects of parkour, and how going “all out” is important but only secondary to the real liberation of free running: recognizing the freedom in living in the moment and gaining confidence in choosing your own path.
That’s powerful stuff, especially for those of us who want to document and capture our unique (though still collective) perspectives.
Check it out:
For those of you looking for the “how” elements of this, I found some info about how 63 Productions made the doc.
The filmmakers chose to use a tripod for the shooting because they believed a hand-held camera makes the viewer aware of another person (ie: the filmmaker) being present, which they felt was a distraction. Also, the filmmakers could only shoot 8 seconds of slow-motion footage at a go, so they had to time their shots perfectly to capture the tricks they wanted. If they missed hitting record at the right moment, they missed the shot (which apparently happened). Note the Explosions in the Sky-style music, and the “vignette” effect on the footage as well – subtle elements, but shorthand for “this is meaningful”. Still more impressive, is that this video was shot in one day and edited in two.
Choose Not to Fall is another fine example of mini-docs, and their ability to move us, inspire our thoughts and document our lives together.
Recommended by Fauna Corporation!
Have some mini-docs or digital inspirations of your own (or others’) to share? Let me know in the comments.
Dublab released a short video about 2 months ago, called Secondhand Sureshots. It was probably only about 12 to 15 minutes long, but I think it will have a lasting impact.
The concept for the project was to take four well-established (but still largely underground) instrumental hip hop producers, send them to different LA thrift stores with $5 each, and have them shop for records.
The producers would then return to their labs and create a beat (ie: musical piece) using only the records they bought within their $5 cap limit. These beats were pressed to vinyl, and each copy was given a handmade, art-piece album cover. Beautiful. Copies of the finished product were then taken back to the thrift stores and reinserted into the thrift store record bins. I don’t know what that’s supposed to say, but I like the reciprocal symmetry of it all.
The whole art project was documented and Secondhand Sureshots was released online, for free, for about a week. It was then it was pulled down and some trailers remained online to promote the film.
Now Dublab and Stones Throw Records are selling the DVD, a vinyl copy of the finished tracks wrapped in hand-made album covers, and 2 slip mats for $60. I think it is a great deal, and a great way to market what is a wonderful and strange little project. Also, by putting their emphasis on engaging consumers in a full experience, Dublab and Stones Throw are able to sell this larger package (at a higher price) rather than only the CD and DVD of the documentary.
In an age of instant digital downloads, this emphasis on a handcrafted object that music fans understand and engage with at a deeper level could offer another option to the music industry, or possibly, some inspiration to journalists, digital storytellers and other multimedia producers. The value-add has never been more of an added value.
In spite of all the digital marketing speak above, let’s not lose sight of the core cool: this is ultimately a nifty little documentary and album aimed at a niche, dedicated audience. One that includes me.
The producers, Ras G, Nobody, Daedelus, and J-Rocc are all talented weirdos, and I’ve been influenced by their music for a while now. I found it very cool to hear their thought process (or feel process) for diggin’ in the record crates and making beats. And because I didn’t know in advance that the documentary was only going to be online for a week, and was so impressed by the well-crafted final product, I’ve decided to buy the full package.
Maybe you should too. Or release your own multi-format art piece?