The Complex Layers of Cyberculture and Refugees

Refugees charge their phones at Keleti Railway Station in Budapest, Hungary.

For my research project, I am interested in looking at the complex layers of cyberculture and refugees. I’ll be looking at how refugees participate in cybercultures, ranging from recording abuse in detention centres to using Google Maps to make their way through Europe and tracking their journey through social media.

“Alvand, 18, from Syria takes a selfie with his friends as they walk along a railway track after crossing into Hungary from the border with Serbia last week. Cellphones are widely available in Syria for relatively little money. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)”

I will also be extending my research to how countries are using technologies to monitor and control the movement of refugees. The current crisis has lead to many radical discussions and actions towards ‘monitoring’ refugees. This extends to the EU maritime agency using drones to monitor refugee boats and the European Commission using the International Space Station for “border surveillance“. The discussions and actions that are currently in place will only continue and expand as the refugee crisis continues, so it will be interesting to look at what this will mean for the future as well.

Finally, I think it’s important to look at representations of ‘the refugee experience’ in comparison to the diverse realities. In the West there is this notion that ‘refugee’ is synonymous with being poverty stricken and/or having no access to technology.

 

Screenshot 2016-03-20 14.11.43

The idea that a refugee cannot own a smartphone is one example that shows there is a disconnect between the representations and realities of refugee experiences. I believe this disconnect plays a critical role in the Western construction of refugees as a collective ‘other’ and am interested to research what the connotations of this disconnect means for refugees, i.e. the hostility they receive.

References:

Alter L. 2015. People are outraged to see refugees with smartphones. They shouldn’t be. Mother Nature Network, available at: http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/gadgets-electronics/blogs/people-are-outraged-see-refugees-smartphones-they-shouldnt-be

Butler J. 2016. Refugee Children On Nauru Release Another Video, Huffington Post, available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/01/21/refugee-children-nauru-video_n_9033174.html

Hakim D. 2016. Surveillance: In space no one can see you watching for refugees, AFR Weekend, available at: http://www.afr.com/opinion/surveillance-in-space-no-one-can-see-you-watching-for-refugees-20160126-gmebpm

Laurent O. 2015. See How Refugees Use Selfies to Document Their Journey, Time, available at: http://time.com/4064988/refugee-crisis-selfies/

McHugh J. 2015. Refugee Crisis Europe 2015: How Syrians Are Using Smartphones To Travel Through Western Europe, International Business Times, available at: http://www.ibtimes.com/refugee-crisis-europe-2015-how-syrians-are-using-smartphones-travel-through-western-2152496

Stupp C. 2016. EU maritime agency gets ready to use drones to monitor refugee boats, EurActiv.com, available at: https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/eu-maritime-agency-gets-ready-to-use-drones-to-monitor-refugee-boats/

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MAJOR PROJECT: The Vulnerable Self

Throughout my life I’ve often found myself so focused on how people perceive me that I’ve habitually projected an image of myself that, at times, I don’t even identify with. This work is an exploration into the identity crisis one goes through when they are taught all their lives how they are to perform. This series of images was taken at a time when I was alone in a private space and feeling completely vulnerable about my image versus my self.

I was initially inspired by the work of Frida Kahlo, particularly Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. I find this portrait of the self to be a confronting piece, whereby Kahlo deliberately faces the viewer with raw vulnerability (Helland 1992). I then looked to Vera Molnar’s work 25 Carres, where the arrangement and repetition of the same image work to create an aesthetic piece, whilst also giving the initial image a new meaning (Deleflie 2015, Molnar 1975). Through the repetition of my image, I was able to create a piece that captures this crisis of the self vs the image.

With my initial prototypes I played with different ways of repeating and assembling my ‘self’ image. My final piece is the result of the repetitions and arrangements that I felt were able to represent a crisis of the self as well as being strong as an aesthetic piece.

Evolution of project below:

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References:

Deleflie, E 2015, Lecture05: Algorithm and Computation, lecture, MEDA102 Computational Media, University of Wollongong, delivered 27 August.

Helland, J 1992, Culture, politics, and identity in the paintings of Frida Kahlo,The expanding discourse: Feminism and art history, 397-408, accessed 25/10/15, available at: https://www.msu.edu/course/ha/240/fridakahlo.pdf

Molnar, V 1975, Toward Aesthetic Guidelines for Paintings with the Aid of a Computer. Leonardo, 8(3), 185–189, accessed 25/10/15, available at: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/stable/1573236?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

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Computer Coding Exercise ‘Exodus’

I approached this exercise (which can be viewed through this link) with the works of Brandon Morse and Jared Tarbell in mind. In Tarbell’s ‘Substrate Algorithm‘ (2003), the fluidity of objective lines formed shapes that could be culturally interpreted as an urban structure (Tarbell 2014). Similarly, Morse’s work ‘Achilles‘ (2009) consists of a simple graphic that when interpreted through social and cultural meanings, represents the destruction of humanity (Capps 2009, Deleflie 2015).

To start off, I played around with the codes we ran through in class and through trial and error I found that through using the simple shape of an ellipsis, I was able to manipulate the colour, shape and repetition of the ellipses to move the objective shapes into a realm of meaning.

The social and cultural meaning I took from this sketch was an ‘exodus’, a wave of people moving forward, which made me think of the current global refugee crisis. This realm of meaning turned the shapes before my eyes into a wave of people moving slowly in one direction, no clear destination in sight.

Screenshot 2015-09-23 17.17.42

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Screenshot 2015-09-23 17.17.24

Screenshots from my dynamic sketch

I decided to make the sketch dynamic to capture a sense of movement. I initially had the dynamic sketch looping randomly. I decided this was too fast to create the effect I was after and then added the frame rate to give my sketch a slower pace. I also considered keeping the work still but I felt the slow flow of movement was more aesthetic and relative to the works that inspired my sketch.

Screenshot 2015-09-23 17.38.39

Screenshot of the code used to create this sketch (created on Processing)

REFERENCES:

Capps, K 2009, ‘Things Fall Apart: Brandon Morse’s Digital Demolitions’, Art In America Magazine, accessed 12/09/2015, available at: http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-features/news/brandon-morse/

Deleflie, E 2015, ‘Lecture 6: Generative Artworks’, lecture, MEDA102 Computational Media, University of Wollongong, delivered 3 September.

Fry, C & Reas, B 2014, ‘Fractal.Invaders, Substrate (Interview with Jared Tarbell) in Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists, pp135-136, accessed 12/09/2015, available at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=cNf3BQAAQBAJ&pg=PA135&lpg=PA135&dq=jared+tarbell+interview+substrate&source=bl&ots=pZ7KDIAN7x&sig=_q-XdNJXNV8UaRGcsetZ_3PW-5s&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAGoVChMIhLS9iYKNyAIVZiKmCh2BTgfS#v=onepage&q=jared%20tarbell%20interview%20substrate&f=false 

 

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An analysis of Paik’s ‘TV Buddha’ (1974)

“TV-Buddha”, 1974 – Nam June Paik

Nam June Paik’s Tv Buddha (1974) is the first of a series of TV Buddhas, which combine media and art to create a piece that is both timeless, aesthetic and thought provoking. TV Buddha effectively worked to create a new understanding of how we perceive modernity through its aesthetic simplicity and timeless theme of the self and technology. The piece also serves as a comment on privacy, our interaction with media and surveillance, as well as an understanding of ourselves in this technological age. As a pioneer in the Fluxus movement, Paik’s TV Buddha continues to remind audiences of the dominant presence of media and technology in our lives and how this can affect our sense of self.

“Paik’s installation is a symbolic and visual reminder of the media’s presence and dominance in our lives”

– Beudert,  “Spectacle pedagogy: Art, politics, and visual culture”, 2006

Born and raised in Korea, Paik then went on to Japan and Europe to train in Arts. During this time, he Paik developed both Eastern and Western influences, which he explored as a contemporary artist . As the “embodiment of interculturalism” (Smith, NAM JUNE PAIK’S TV BUDDHA AS BUDDHIST ART, 2005), Paik was able to use his knowledge and understandings of Eastern and Western culture as part of his creative process. This included the Eastern influences of Buddhism and Buddhist art (Smith 2005) and the influence of Western artist movements, such as avant-garde and minimalism (Beudert 2006).

Core components of Paik’s approach to contemporary art involved collage, assemblage, montage, installation and performance art, which he used to challenge perceptions of norms and patterns (Beudert 2006). Paik was also in one of the first generations to grow up with a television, which expanded his influences beyond arts and culture to also include commercial media (Lovejoy 2004).

TV Buddha, which involves a television monitor, video camera, painted bronze Buddha, tripod and plinth, combines genres of performance, installation and sculpture (Lovejoy 2006). To create the piece, Paik assembled ready-made objects from two opposing manufactured processes: the Buddha statue, which was hand made object, and the television, which was a mass-produced and factory made object (Deleflie 2015). With the added video feed of the Buddha projected on the television, the assembled piece is both a still piece and a live piece.

While the objects involved are still, the video feed is live. “The statue faces the monitor and camera as if watching the television image of itself.” (Lodato,”A treatise on the loop as a desired form: visual feedback and relational new media”, 2010). By placing the monitor in an out-of-context environment, Paik subverts and challenges the viewer’s visual relations and interpretations of television usage (Lovejoy 2004).

“Paik’s structures echo the Fluxus movement’s emphasis on subverting the everyday to demystify it.”

– Lovejoy, “Digital currents: art in the electronic age”, 2004

One design feature of TV Buddha is the closed-circuit of infinite loops. This essentially involves an infinite loop of the Buddha gazing at the TV screen, with the image of himself recorded by the closed-circuit camera (Deleflie 2015, Lodato 2010).

“The loop is as much in space as it is a space.”

– Lodato, “A treatise on the loop as a desired form: visual feedback and relational new media”, 2010

Within the infinite loops of the piece is the repetition provided by the video loop. This repetition involves the thought process of the viewer to circle from “easily-read, culturally-embedded symbols”, to critical analysis of the media’s role in our lives, to the aesthetics of the piece and back again. This process allows us to acknowledge the power and force of media on our lives and to then to think about it differently. This is possible because the television, while familiar to all audiences, is placed out of context. This forces the viewer to re-evaluate the way they understand and perceive media and technology (Hamilton 2004). This repetition is both architectural and conceptual. While the spectator views a live feed, they do not see change, making the repetition reflexive (Lodato 2010).

The nature of this timeless loop is an interior one. This means the spectator is external from the loop, making the audience consider the loop as a structure and their feedback as an action (Lodato 2010).

“One can watch watching and observe observing, yet never be watched and be observed. The loop is fixed, and therefore contrived, as an experience.”

– Lodato “A treatise on the loop as a desired form: visual feedback and relational new media”, 2010

The spectator and the spectacle

Paik’s concept for TV Buddha is similar to media theorist, Neil Postman’s, theories on technology. Postman argues that within every technology there is often a hidden and powerful idea that may have serious consequences. He also argues that new technology is ecological, that is, new mediums change the entire way we interact with, consume and live (Deleflie 2015). TV Buddha explores the relationship between the subject and media technology, contemplating the potential control of media over its viewers. While both Paik and Postman are cautious towards the potential of media control over the individual, they also identify the possibility of promise that the relationship between media and individual offers. They identify that there is a fine line between the potential for cultural exchange and dominance of media over the individual (Hamilton 2004).

Reference List:

Beudert L, 2006, Spectacle pedagogy: Art, politics, and visual culture: A.International Journal of Education and the Arts, 9. Available at: http://www.ijea.org/v9r2/v9r2.pdf. Accessed 14 August 2015.

Deleflie, E 2015, Community & Communication, lecture, MEDA102 Computational Media, University of Wollongong, delivered 6 August.

Deleflie, E 2015, Art, Craft & Technology, lecture, MEDA102 Computational Media, University of Wollongong, delivered 13 August.

Hamilton J, 2004, The way we loop now: eddying in the flows of media, Invisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture, 8. Available at: http://www.itc.rochester.edu/in_visible_culture/Issue_8/issue8_hamilton.pdf, accessed 16 August 2015.

Lodato, T. J. (2010). A treatise on the loop as a desired form: visual feedback and relational new media, p65-69. Available at: https://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/handle/1853/33880/lodato_thomas_j_201005_mast.pdf?sequence=1. Accessed 16 August 2015.

Lovejoy M, 2004, Digital currents: art in the electronic age. Routledge. Available at: https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=0Aw1nuFZ5NUC&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=tv+buddha&ots=mzNae-Of9d&sig=BNp6gg4vKk4BgDwItRy-evI_3Yo#v=onepage&q=tv%20buddha&f=false. Accessed 14 August 2015.

Smith W, 2000, NAM JUNE PAIK’S TV BUDDHA AS BUDDHIST ART, Religion & The Arts, 4(3):359-373. Available at: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&sid=a5dd9e22-72fe-4423-9f1e-cf7c9284ec6d@sessionmgr4003&hid=4208, Accessed 14 August 2015.

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Commercial surrogacy and the dehumanisation of women in the Global South

**This essay was originally submitted for ‘SOC356: Cultures In Dispossession’ in June 2015 at The University of Wollongong**

Commercial surrogacy is a relatively new industry that has quickly become a billion-dollar transnational industry and a global phenomenon. It is an industry that is underregulated and exploitative of women in poverty, and thrives on the ideology that having a child is a right.

The right to have a child

Technological advancements have fostered a link between technology and the capitalist ideology that women should use technologies to have babies. The expectation that women should have children because technology makes it accessible is paralleled with the idea that having children is a right, not a privilege.  

Emphasis on the ‘right’ to have a child is a discourse in the Global North that stems from privilege and societal expectations to construct a family. “The problem is that entitlement, like normativity, sits upon unspoken cultural commitments.” (Caddick, Subjectivity, surrogacy and entitlement, 2014, pg3) We form a narrative of those in the Global North using commercial surrogacy as a ‘journey’, defying the odds, while in turn ignoring their agency and entitlement which allows them to be in a position to use surrogacy in the first place. The ‘right’ to have a child goes unquestioned, unchallenged. It is an assumed right, not a privilege. Part of this ‘right’ is having a child that is genetically yours and in the process of this journey, it is ignored that in order to achieve this ‘right’, one must use a woman’s body.

The result of this is the outsourcing of labour, which exploits and dehumanises the women involved in the Global South. Technological advancements have given us more opportunities to have a broader understanding of what constitutes a family. However, what is left out of this narrative is the role of commodities in this diversification of family life.

Commercial surrogacy: The billion-dollar industry

Surrogacy occurs in two different forms: there is traditional surrogacy, which involves the fertilisation of the surrogate mother’s egg with the intended father’s sperm through artificial insemination. There is also gestational IVF surrogacy, whereby the surrogate mother conceives the intended parent’s genetic child through IVF. The latter form of surrogacy is the prominent use of commercial surrogacy in the Global South. This is one area where it becomes problematic, due to the genetic association of the child with the birth mother and the implications this has on the surrogate involved.

While technologically and medically assisted reproductive practices have been around since the 1970s in the Global North, the outsourcing of surrogacy is a relatively new market. This is because of three main reasons: first, the financial and legal restrictions placed alongside the development of these technological advancements in the Global North. Outsourcing means being free from expensive procedures and restrictive regulation. Second, the alternative option to surrogacy, adoption, was also placed under rigorous regulation to protect the birth mother and child in both the Global North and South. And the third reason is the exclusion of certain groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community, single women and older women, from accessing surrogacy and adoption in the Global North. With technological advancements constantly outpacing regulation in the Global South, the commercial surrogacy industry has become one of the leading industries in medical tourism, making it a billion-dollar transnational industry.

India has been the leading commercial surrogacy capital since it was first established there in 2003. With it’s offerings of low medical costs, a far larger number of women willing to be surrogates and most importantly, a commercial surrogacy hub, free from government regulationr, India provided a reproductive haven for those in the Global North. The combination of technological advancements for reproduction and neo liberal ideologies around outsourcing of labour has allowed the commercial surrogacy market to expand at a rapid rate, with regulation and laws unable to compete with the ever expanding trade. This phenomenon of technological advancements outpacing laws is evident in India, whereby the first steps towards regulation started in 2005, two years after the commercial surrogacy practice started. The first lawful regulation did not take place until 2006, well after surrogacy had been established in India and the country was benefitting from the medical tourism they were receiving from the practice.

The dehumanisation of commercial surrogates

The commercial surrogacy industry relies on the commodification of women in poverty. This industry made them suddenly revered as a ‘rich resource’ through their reproductive abilities; their bodies being at the centre of their value. Their value is also determined by race, class and education level, opening up a floodgate of problematic practices. Becoming a commercial surrogate does mean acquiring certain levels of economic legitimacy and independence, though it does not match the the physical, emotional and social toll placed on these women. The women are expected to take on surrogacy through the ‘selfless’ rhetoric that they are providing an infertile couple with a child, which feeds into the discourse that privileged groups have the ‘right’ to a child and that human value is not equal.

While there are some in the Global North who see the practice of commercial surrogacy as prostitution, this notion is discourse within India, where surrogates face isolation and dehumanisation within their own communities. This dispossession from their community is amplified by the women being physically isolated from their communities throughout their pregnancies, often having to lie to their families about their absence. Once the surrogates are pregnant, they are then placed on a controlled diet and their health is closely monitored. This control is solely for the benefit of the unborn child and not the surrogate; once the child is born and handed to the intended parents, the women are then expendable. The client and clinic are under no legal responsibility for the aftercare of the birth mothers, nor is there a support system in place for if the pregnancy goes wrong. There is an expectation enforced on commercial surrogates in India that women have to split their mind from the reality of what their bodies are going through. After all, it is understood that they are not selling their identities, they are selling their bodies so they must dissociate this commodification of themselves. This dissociation ultimately leads to psychological problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

One female surrogate, Diksha, in an Indian clinic shown in Google Baby (2009) spoke of the psychological toll of having a miscarriage. Her main focus was on the financial cost she had burdened her family with, as a commercial surrogate is paid in total once they have handed a baby over to the intended parents. The majority of commercial surrogates in India are either below the poverty line or of working class, as was the case with Diksha where her body was her only means to providing for her family. The financial revenue generated through commercial surrogacy provides these women with value, however the value does not exceed the use of their bodies. This was evident in Diksha’s case, as only months after her miscarriage without psychological or physical support; she was to be used as a surrogate once again. This dependency on using one’s body as a means to remove oneself from poverty is part of the discourse of surrogacy and a deeply dehumanising practice.

Shifts in the industry

There have been recent shifts in the commercial surrogacy industry following reports exposing the lack of regulation, an example being the case of Baby Gammy. Gammy was born to Pattaramon Janbua, a Thai commercial surrogate and unaccepted by the biological parents due to the baby having Down Syndrome. The publicised spectacle of this story lead to Thailand enforcing strict regulation on commercial surrogacy, the end result being that foreign clients are now banned from using the practice in Thailand. However, while this law enforcement may have changed the market in Thailand, it has had very little effect on the surrogacy industry. As regulation is enforced in one location, the industry doesn’t cease, but simply shifts to countries where there is less regulation.

This shift also accounts for regulations that exclude certain groups from accessing commercial surrogacy. For example, India was the leading commercial surrogacy capital when it was first established in 2003. Once regulation was set in place in 2006, which excluded LGBTQ+ couples and unmarried heterosexual couples, they looked towards other countries, such as Thailand and Nepal, where these exclusions were not in place.

To this day the commercial surrogacy industry continues to be a billion-dollar industry and an area of ethical ambiguity. This industry is embedded with discourses that dehumanise commercial surrogates in the Global South through the medicalisation of reproductive practices, the expectations and values placed on surrogate mothers through their bodies and the neo liberal capitalist market that allows for this market to thrive free from regulation. The discourse around using technological advancements and the right to have a child are directly linked to the expansion of the surrogacy industry. This industry is highly problematic, exploitative and dehumanising for commercial surrogates in the Global South and needs regulation to be set in place on a global scale to ensure these women have agency and protection.

References:

ABC News, 2015. Thailand bans surrogacy for foreigners in bid to end ‘rent-a-womb’ tourism. ABC News: Breaking News, [Online]. Accessed 03/05/2015, available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-20/thailand-bans-surrogacy-for-foreigners/6163810

Caddick, A. 2014. Subjectivity, surrogacy and entitlement, Arena Magazine (Fitzroy, Vic), No. 131, Aug/Sep 2014: 2-3, accessed 22/03/2015, available at: http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/documentSummary;dn=778383557480251;res=IELHSS

Damelio J, Sorenson K. 2008. Enhancing Autonomy in Paid Surrogacy. Bioethics. 22: 269-277, accessed 22/03/2015, available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8519.2008.00629.x/full

DasGupta, S, & Dasgupta, SD (eds). 2014. Globalization and Transnational Surrogacy in India : Outsourcing Life, Lexington Books, Blue Ridge Summit, PA, USA. Accessed 25/03/2015, available from: ProQuest ebrary. http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/lib/uow/reader.action?docID=10860002&ppg=1

Google Baby, 2009. Zippi Brand Frank, Israel: HBO. Accessed online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQGlAM0iWFM

Herdiman J & Nakash A. 2007. Surrogacy. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 27(3): 246 – 251, accessed 25/03/2015, available at: http://informahealthcare.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/doi/pdf/10.1080/01443610701194788

Hochschild, A.R. 2012. The outsourced self : intimate life in market times. New York: Metropolitan Books. 300p., accessed 04/05/2015, available at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=4ixdZY7A1OEC&pg=PT3&source=gbs_selected_pages&cad=2#v=onepage&q&f=false

Lee, R.L. 2009. New Trends in Global Outsourcing of Commercial Surrogacy: A Call for Regulation. 20 Hastings Women’s L.J: 275-300, accessed 25/03/2015, available at: http://ey9ff7jb6l.search.serialssolutions.com/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info%3Aofi%2Fenc%3AUTF-8&rfr_id=info:sid/summon.serialssolutions.com&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&rft.genre=article&rft.atitle=New+trends+in+global+outsourcing+of+commercial+surrogacy%3A+a+call+for+regulation&rft.jtitle=Hastings+Women%27s+Law+Journal&rft.au=Lee%2C+Ruby+L&rft.date=2009&rft.pub=Hastings+College+of+the+Law&rft.issn=1061-0901&rft.volume=20&rft.issue=2&rft.spage=275&rft.externalDBID=n%2Fa&rft.externalDocID=203463591&paramdict=en-US

Zajdow, G. 2014. Surrogacy is to prostitution… Arena Magazine (Fitzroy, Vic), No. 130, Jun/Jul 2014: 46-48, accessed 25/03/2015, available at: http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/documentSummary;dn=461175855246315;res=IELHSS 

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Major Project: The Other Woman

Video Description

‘The Other Woman’ is a critique of Western Orientalist representations of on Arab Women. Through this visual essay, I explore the ways digital media is able to provide Arab women with a platform to represent their lives the way they live, rather than through the Orientalist lens of the West. I briefly discuss the history and context that surrounds the representation of Arab women as the oppressed ‘other’, while drawing on case studies to showcase the ways Arab women can utilise digital media to have a voice.

Reflection

After much deliberation, I decided to go against my original format (podcast) and present ‘The Other Woman’ through video. I researched different formats for exploring the subject area of my project and determined that by creating a visual narrative, I would be able to present my findings in a way that is more interesting for an audience. As one of my case studies was purely visual (the webcomic), it also made more sense to create a video and share my findings visually.

As my project required a lot of information, I was concerned there may be too much text, which could risk losing the audience’s interest. I decided to break up the text with different images and videos, while also choosing a sound piece to complement my narrative. I was very careful to be sensitive with the content I used to portray my research, bearing in mind that certain images could still come across as Orientalist to the viewer. To combat this, I decided to mainly use images from my case studies, which I was then able to add context to, removing the stigma of these women as the ‘oppressed other’ and highlighting their experience as Arab women who actively challenge both their culture and Orientalism.

I wanted to use Arabic music that didn’t risk sounding overtly orientalist, so I researched female Arabic musicians and discovered a Lebanese band, Soap Kills, who are an electric-pop duo that sing in Arabic. I sampled two of their songs throughout my video, which I felt worked to create and support the pace and tone of my project. Though I was dealing with a dense and sensitive subject, I didn’t want the tone of the project to be upsetting or confrontational, as I felt this would be redundant to a Western audience. Instead, I chose to highlight that Arab women are more diverse and varied than the West’s projection, creating a more upbeat tone.

The strength to creating a video is the ability to combine sound, footage, images and text. This keeps the content fresh and interesting, and it also forces the full attention of the audience. Through video, I was able to bring Deena Mohamed’s web comic to life and to also show Amy Roko’s videos and tweets. Through creating a video, I was able to have complete control over how the audience experiences my research by editing the music, images, text and footage to play in the format I choose. This allowed me to control what I wanted my audience to experience and how they experienced my findings.

A limitation to using a video is that it is very visual based and I needed to include text to make my argument. I tried to simplify my text to allow for its placement in a visual format, which may have limited my information and may also be hard for the audience to soak up in a video format. To amend this, as stated earlier, I made sure to include images and footage to keep the overall content interesting.

 

References:

Al Majid, A. 2015, Social media star Amy Roko on being funny and female in Saudi, Medium (originally published on AJ+ News), accessed 25/05/2014, available at: https://medium.com/aj-news/social-media-star-amy-roko-on-being-funny-and-female-in-saudi-f5a14b233baf

Ammar, M. 2013, It’s A Bird…It’s A Plane…It’s Qahera!, The Daily Beast, accessed 26/05/2015, available at: http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/articles/2013/09/22/meet-qahera-egypt-s-hijab-wearing-comic-superheroine.html

Grigsby, H. 2015. A New Feminist Movement? Middle Eastern Hijabis as Superheroes. Aquila Style. Accessed 08/04/15, available at: http://www.aquila-style.com/focus-points/muslimlifestyle/new-feminist-movement-middle-eastern-hijabis-superheroes/93213/

Odine, M. 2013. Role of Social Media in the Empowerment of Arab Women Global Media Journal 12.22 (Spring 2013): 1-30. Accessed 06/04/15, available at: http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/1355103932?pq-origsite=summon&accountid=15112&selectids=10000039,1007139,1000001,1007133,1007884,1007885,1007886,1007887,1007888,1007889,1007883,1007912,1007913,1007914,1007915,1007916,1007917,1007911,1007898,1007899,1007900,1007901,1007902,1007903,1007897

Professor Alsultany Discusses Images of Arab Women 2011, Youtube, Arab American National Museum, Mar 31, viewed 26 May 2015, accessed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8QeUG0C6Hk

Said, E 2001, ‘From Orientalism’, in V Leitch (ed.), The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, W. W. Norton, New York, pp. 1991-2012 As cited by Evelyn Alsultany: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNI8zc6r7KU

Footage used:

Roko A, 2015, skateboarding into town, 22 Apr 2015, tweet: https://twitter.com/AmyRoko/status/590548805076017152

Extrait Burqa (scene from Sex and the City 2), macerrise, Youtube, Nov 14, viewed 28/05/2015, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxjmaIqZY5M

Images:

All screenshots from Amy Roko’s Twitter feed, available at: https://twitter.com/AmyRoko

Screenshot of Amy Roko’s Vine, available at: https://vine.co/u/971873427982278656

All parts of Qahera The Superhero webcomic, accessed from: http://qaherathesuperhero.com/

Farish, Saidi, N, 2014, Pinterest, accessed 27/05/2015, available at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/512284526336356706/

Qahera, Une Super-Herione Egyptienne, 2014, Avoir-Alire accessed 27/05/2015, available at: http://www.avoir-alire.com/qahera-une-super-heroine-egyptienne

 Roger Fenton Pasha and Bayadere, 1858, Wikipedia, CC, accessed 27/05/2015, available at: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pasha_bayadere.jpg

 Who’s afraid of twitter?!, 2011, Wale, flickr, accessed 28/05/2015, available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wale_ade/5566643928

Screenshot of Youtube clip with Asmaa Mahfouz, 2011, Iyad El-Baghdadi, Youtube, accessed 28/05/2015, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgjIgMdsEuk&feature=youtu.be

 Feminism and Feminist Tactics, 2013, stillhavetoprotest, wordpress, accessed 28/05/2015, available at: https://stillhavetoprotest.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/feminism-and-feminist-tactics/

Spread this like wildfire, 2015, Amy Roko, 19 Mar, tweet: https://twitter.com/AmyRoko/status/578287533416525825

Music

Soap Kills, Tango, Soundcloud, accessed 26/05/2015, available at: https://soundcloud.com/soapkills-official/tango-album-cheftak

Soap Kills, Galbi, Youtube, accessed 26/05/2015, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mE_KBO9QTwY

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Ciné Roman: ‘Lost In Words’

Project statement:

After looking through William Gibson’s Twitter feed, I noticed a reoccurring idea of the power of language to both create and reinforce a disconnect to the realities of the world. Saturation of language can also have this affect. I was interested to pursue this broad idea and attempt to personalise the desensitisation towards human violence through the saturation of language overwhelming an individual.

I took many steps before reaching my final project result. My idea was initially quite broad so I had to develop ways to refine my idea, such as focusing on an individual. Throughout developing my project, I had to be careful to retain a balance between representation and interpretation, as the theme of language can be quite representative.

I decided to mash up different Soundcloud projects from other students in my course (see reference list) in order to have more control over my message, rather than fitting within the constraints of an already completed sound work.

The brainstorms and storyboards I created to map my ideas were a crucial process in order to make sense of what I wanted to say. I created my soundtrack after I had captured the images and I found this to be challenging but effective. With the images already in mind and laid out in a linear formation on my timeline, I was able to work the music to support and propel the images.

Editing was the most crucial part of creating this project. I had to be very particular with what images I kept and had to cut some images that were aesthetically pleasing, but redundant to the overall flow of the piece. I had to also carefully decide where to place effects on the images and sound, which was a long and rigorous process.

My ideas developed through creating content, both images and sound. My idea became clearer and more specific as I produced photos and the accompanying soundtrack.

All images are my own.

Reference list for sound projects:

Hughvf. ‘Authority’. Hughvf 2015. Accessed 26 May 2015, available at: https://hughvf.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/well-here-it-is/

Karlyah, ‘The Sound Of Authority’, KMM608 – Meda101. Accessed 26 May 2015, available at: https://kmm608meda.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/the-sound-of-authority/

Morra, C. ‘MEDA 101’. Living In A Digital World 2015. Accessed 26 May 2015, available at: http://living-ina-digitalworld.tumblr.com/post/114550400276/sound-project-authority-is-interpreted-in

 

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