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Zoe Aurora Peleti - ALIVE -Thesis 01 - Fall 2011

ZoĂŤ Aurora Peleti Anezka Sebek - Thesis 1 Fall 2011 ALIVE!thesis

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Zoe Aurora Peleti - ALIVE -Thesis 01 - Fall 2011

You are Born- Then, after what feels like only five seconds later, you open your eyes to see a young adult staring back at you in the mirror and you take a moment to contemplate where the last twenty or so years have gone. Thanks to technology, most of our lives are spent consumed in front of screens while watching television, texting, gaming, working, shopping, socializing, reading, studying or even while writing this paper to tell you about how much time we spend with our eyes and minds completely hypnotized by the screen and oblivious to our own passing lives. Our modern society has entered the digital age and thus has been granted the entire world at our fingertips. Our newfound ability to have anything instantly and at any given time has left us in a state where time and space no longer coexist; a place in which moments are too long to wait for what we want to have now. Our minds, especially as young adults, focus solely on the future tense; constantly striving for what we want to possess or who we want to become- yet rarely taking time to see the significance of our own current juncture in time. Within seconds of wanting news, weather or information on anything at a universal scale, our technological devices can deliver it to us while simultaneously updating any information via RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Search engines, specifically Google, have not only rendered books as irrelevant sources for research, but have basically removed any uncertainty or mystery from the human psyche by offering answers to any questions one may have with the use of an interface simple enough for anyone to operate. (1) Furthermore, Google has almost literally given us the world- through the Google Earth application, anyone with an internet connection is invited to zoom up to the front door of any desired location globally. If you’re interested to talk to friends in Europe or family on the West Coast, your biggest dilemma is now to decide whether you would prefer to wirelessly call them or video chat- a huge

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Zoe Aurora Peleti - ALIVE -Thesis 01 - Fall 2011

difference when compared to a world that communicated mainly through written letters and television/radio broadcast some fifty years ago. Having said this, its really not hard to wonder why people seem so distracted from their own surroundings. Though technology has yet to master instant physical travel, mentally we can be anywhere we so desire- indefinitely. In no way do I intend to insult or imply that a high-speed, modern and technology dependent way of life is negative or “wrong”- I want simply to acknowledge that alike to any situation in which you have or get everything you want, when you demand it, you tend to lose appreciation for it. When your life can be summed up to code on a screen, your mind becomes unconscious to the world outside that screen where much of your physical, spiritual and emotional life is still taking place around you. I will continue to direct my thesis explanation toward the audience which it is specifically intended for- that of my peers. As college students, we assume that stress, competition and planning for our future are the most important components of life. I support that statement with regards to my own experiences as well as those I have observed second hand. We are consumed by elaborate images in our head of what we want to do and who we want to be, thus often forgetting ourselves in the present. Its a funny thing to think that your present state was once the future you obsessed over in your past. Point being- why even after realizing this truth is it so hard to just be in the moment with what we have, what we’re doing or to enjoy our youth rather than wait to enjoy “real” adulthood? Countless hours are spent watching other people’s lives go by on reality television, stalking people on Facebook and reading gossip magazines- all while over-estimating their happiness and failing to see the value in our own. We reminisce over home-movies and photo albums, wondering where the time has gone, yet still blind to our amazing surroundings here in New York City and the people, our friends and family, that in the

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Zoe Aurora Peleti - ALIVE -Thesis 01 - Fall 2011

grand scheme of life are temporary- a series of meaningful moments shared between beings that should be nothing less than cherished. “Alive” is an installation project where technology is used not to distract us from our lives, but instead remind us to balance our love for technological gadgets with the appreciation we must maintain for living in the moment- for the small details and fractions of our lives that make up the whole picture. Since the beginning of the semester, I’ve maintained the same basic goal of evoking an awareness of living in the moment and seeing the small things for their importance in the overall picture of life. My method of accomplishing this has evolved over the span of these last three or so months, however, my medium of choice remains to create a film piece. I have no doubt that video is my best choice in delivering the message I want to send because to me, the only way to explain what you want someone to see- is to show them. Being that life is a moving, time-based, and individual experience- I see film being the only medium to encapsulate all three qualities successfully. In my first thoughts, I planned to create a film that put the viewer in first person perspective of what one may experience on any given day. Using adjustments on time and visual effects I planned to recreate how our mind overlooks and omits information we cause it to label “irrelevant”. I began with a simple pair of glasses that I covered with opaque tape and cut small circles into the center. This was intended force the user to really focus on their surroundings by blocking out all peripheral vision. During the first video “draft” of my thesis, I was interested to use distortions and manipulations on visuals and sound to compel the onlookers of my project to focus on particular points of interest. I also entertained the idea to abruptly stop and “rewind”

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Zoe Aurora Peleti - ALIVE -Thesis 01 - Fall 2011

the film to replay the “day” while focusing in on small yet beautiful moments that would have otherwise gone unnoticed during the first play.(6) I realized however, that this method of executing my project would be very difficult to conduct fittingly and may not deliver as strong a message I intend to send to my audience. At a loss for any answer to my “how do I do this” thought process, I simply decided to take a walk and shoot images of what I saw around me. The ambiance created throughout my neighborhood during dusk on a Sunday evening, exhibited its own creative personality that showed up in my photographs. I merely played with the images in Photoshop, while working off the effects provided by nature, until I realized that there was a unique contrast and perspective evident. Keith Loutit, a Sydney photographer and filmmaker, is also accredited with the invention of the “Tilt/Shift” method of film.(4) This method of filming involves tilting the camera at a downward slant and uses a blur gradient to shift the image from focused to blurry. When done successfully, the result is an image that appears to be a “miniaturized” version of life. The illusion created from the camera only focusing on one ground (foreground/background) combined with the distortion of scale perceived by the “tilt” is reflective to the restrictions a camera has when focusing on an actual miniature set.(6) The effect my own photographs were reflecting to me was that of this very tilt/shift method. Using Keith Loutit’s work as a launching ground, I watched many of his videos titled under a period of work called “The Bathtub Series”. I really liked what he was doing and I knew that teaching myself some of his methods would give me something really solid to start working with during my prototyping. My experiments led me to the conclusion that there is an undeniable connection between time and distance. Aside from the Pythagorean theorem and its acclaimed relation to time travel, there is just the obvious understanding that the longer the distance, the greater the time needed to

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Zoe Aurora Peleti - ALIVE -Thesis 01 - Fall 2011

travel. Also, time seen visually in linear form is a “longer” distance from the beginning point of time measured to the end. Regardless, the point I’m aiming to touch upon with this is relevant to my thesis in the sense that our modern world, where everything is now instantly accessible, time and distance for a first are seemingly un-relatable. A perfect opportunity for me to make a statement by reversing the relationship, in my opinion. Since the tilt/shift effect is already viewed as a more affective image when the time is sped up, I assumed the logical response would be to use slower time in close-up shots. The concept behind doing this is to break the natural relationship; thus the further the distance, the quicker the time and the closer-up the image the longer the frame rate. What is then perceived is a fast-paced modern society where taking a second to appreciate whats actually around you allows time to be more meaningful and thus slower. The fast paced far-shots are not meant to be alarming to the viewer however- though they are intended to point out how “time flies” in modern life, when paired with the “miniaturized” appearance should evoke an intriguing and playful disposition. The goal behind this is to remind the audience that life should be approached almost as a game, an opportunity to enjoy the world around us and take on challenges and adventures in life without being consistently preoccupied with over-analyzing our every choice and future goal. From a birds-eye view the world seems a lot easier to manage and when combined with the detailed shots an entirely new perspective on our everyday and world can be developed. After coming up with this second draft, I realized I had to take this project further than simply a video. Where installation becomes more of a social and physical driven media, film portrays a visual channel in which to express an idea and evoke emotion from the spectator. My inspiration for this idea occurred after seeing the piece “Turbulent” by Shirin Neshat. (3) Her use

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Zoe Aurora Peleti - ALIVE -Thesis 01 - Fall 2011

of dual screens is the element that really took her message and gave it the strength it needed to be taken seriously. When visualizing my own finished piece I decided that it had to be more than a movie- it has to be art imitating life. This led me to my third plan of action. To accomplish what I previously just stated, I thought a good idea would be to separate my video into two. This meant, rather than having my video one fluid piece in which the movie alternated between far shot to close up, I would use two screens on opposing walls. One screen would produce footage of close-ups and the other would be playing the far-shots. This idea came to me when I realized that the physical form of my project held just as much ability to prove my thesis as did the film itself. With the movie playing its separate parts on screens across from one another, it would force the user to focus on one thing or the other. You would be physically restricted from viewing both at the same time even though both screens would be apart of your environment. In regards to audio for this piece, a piece by Dan Graham titled “Performance/Audience/Mirror� from 1975 caught my attention. (2) At first, I found his muttering of every thought and action he portrayed to be seriously annoying but when I realized the meaning behind his chants stemmed from Zen Buddhism and his goal was in fact to make himself and the audience aware of themselves in their bodies and in space- I gained a new perspective and respect for him. Since this revelation of using space as part of my thesis project however, a multitude of possibilities have manifested. I’ve moved from having the thought of two opposing screens to instead, having the two screens back to back. The intention of this would be to eliminate the possibility of the viewer being distracted from the flickering lights and images over his/her shoulder emitted from the opposing screen. As this was discovered in user testing, so was another idea which I have decided to further pursue. Rather than constrict my installation to one

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Zoe Aurora Peleti - ALIVE -Thesis 01 - Fall 2011

small dark corner of the exhibition, I’ve been toying with the concept of dispersing screens of various sizes around the gallery space thus integrating a piece based on noticing life- into real life where it must be noticed to be appreciated. The soundtrack, though undecided momentarily, would be a low instrumentals, white noise or simply none; allowing the time and space of life in the moment to play as the audio track. Later during the semester, I watched the film documentary called “Life in a Day”, directed by Kevin MacDonald.(5) This film was the first to be a Youtube user generated documentary where people from all over the world shot film of their usual routine on the day of July 24 2010. After viewing this documentary I started rethinking my own project and contemplating the creation of a film based off of the lives of young people living in NYC. I felt that by contributing to the film, the people would have to in turn notice how they live their lives and focus on their daily interactions with their surroundings. Also by viewing this piece, other young people in NYC would have fresh eyes to the city they are also living in. Seeing the same place from another’s perspective opens up a whole new realm of possibilities people become numb to when they fall victim to monotonous routine. The video could even be expanded into a web-blog with a map the connects people’s stories to location, people to people and gives the viewer an entirely new way of looking at their life. During my final critique I gained both positive feedback for my prototypes as well as questions that posed new challenges for my future progress. I realize that I need to go back and be more specific to my problem and solution where I tend to become a little grey with my explanation. Otherwise, I need to reevaluate my own role in this project and determine just how personal or user generated I truly want the final piece to be. Basically I learned there is still work to be done and the best way is to back at it from the beginning with a clear head.

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Zoe Aurora Peleti - ALIVE -Thesis 01 - Fall 2011

In reference to my initial goal of influencing my audience to “look at the overlooked� and live in the moment, I feel my project iterations have become progressively successful in achieving this. I have carefully thought out each individual aspect to the project in its entirety and feel my explanations stated all clearly support the outcome I have set out to get. My next steps are now to go back to the initial issue and begin planning from there. I intend to try displaying and organizing my project in various ways to determine not only the most successful physical order of the screens but also a clear strategy in which to display the footage upon said screens. This will also have to be tested using different methods of audio which in conclusion, will all rely on my ability to gain constructive feedback from user tests that I will need to set up in my next steps as well. Regardless of any obstacles, my plan is to just keep making things and keep moving forward.

Mind Map

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Zoe Aurora Peleti - ALIVE -Thesis 01 - Fall 2011

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Zoe Aurora Peleti - ALIVE -Thesis 01 - Fall 2011

Glossary 1. appreciation- used to signify the realization of the value of your life plus the people and space that are apart of it. 2. beauty- used to elaborate on taking the optimistic perspective of the world rather than the pessimistic. 3. elaborate- used in reference of noticing the details. 4. enjoy- used as a counter experience in life to stress. 5. experience- used repetitively to remind the audience what life is essentially about. 6. film- used to describe choice of medium. 7. future- used as comparison to the present, units of time our lives are divided into. 8. instantaneous- used to describe a modern way of living and experiencing life. Page 11

Zoe Aurora Peleti - ALIVE -Thesis 01 - Fall 2011

9. memory- used to symbolize what all passing moments are destined to become. 10.

miniaturized- used as description of visual effect on film.


modern- used to emphasize this issue as part of our current state.


obsessed- used to describe our minds consumed with images of our future and blinding

us to the present. 13.

perspective- used to signify that there are many ways of looking at things, we can

consciously choose to view the world differently. 14.

present- used in comparison to the future, units of time our lives are divided into.


realize- used to describe the necessary action needed; action intended to be procured

with the film. 16.

reminisce- used to describe human nature of realizing the value in the moments already


17. Bibliography 1.

CARR, NICHOLAS . "Is Google Making Us Stupid? - Magazine - The Atlantic." The

Atlantic — News and analysis on politics, business, culture, technology, national, international, and life â (accessed October 12, 2011).


Dan Graham. "Dan Graham "Performer/Audience/Mirror" (1975) Video." Hosted at

Vodpod. (accessed October 12, 2011).


Egoyan, Atom . "Turbulent." Filmmaker Magazine, Fall 2001. (accessed October 11, 2011). Page 12

Zoe Aurora Peleti - ALIVE -Thesis 01 - Fall 2011


Grech , Joshua . "Aussie's film to play in the Guggenheim |" | Breaking news, videos and pictures from Sydney, NSW, Australia and the world | DailyTelegraph. (accessed October 12, 2011).


Life in a Day. Film. Directed by Macdonald Kevin. USA: Scott Free Productions, 2011.


Riviera, Matt. "A Life In Film." A Life In Film.

hero-keith-loutit.html (accessed October 12, 2011).


Run Lola Run. DVD. Directed by Tom Tykwer. Culver City, Calif: Sony Pictures Home

Entertainment, 2007.

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Final Thesis Paper  

Final thesis 01 paper fall 11

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