Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hope Takes Flight India Pictures

As many of you know I am a part of a social justice media project called Hope Takes Flight. We centered our first documentary film project around human trafficking in India and put on a concert event called "Under The Wings of Hope" with our friends Mark Mathis from Charlotte, NC and Songs of Water from Greensboro, NC. Here are a few pictures from our trip to India.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Merchants of Cool Pt. 1

About two years ago I read a book called "MTV: The Making of a Revolution" by Tom McGrath. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. It explores the creation of MTV and the early days of its conception. For me it began to shed light on a whole new set of issues we face today. I began to wonder things like: "When music became a commodity to be produced, bought, and sold like a new pair of shoes coming from some plant across the ocean, why did the industry act so surprised when consumers no longer valued the art or artists, but instead found short cuts to getting the goods?" If you could go online and in two minutes have a pair of first edition Air Jordan's materialize out of your printer, the temptation would be hard to resist. So in an age when the creative process has been marginalized to test groups and market analysis why are we shocked that the response is a culture of disposable artistic consumerism? MP3's have become like napkins at the corner 7/11. You can take one or a handful and someone is going to pay for them, but you don't have to so you don't think twice about stocking your glove box full. Hard drives across America are cluttered by the gluttony of artistic consumerism and instead of digging down and examining the roots of this crisis, those in power chose to treat the symptoms by handing out lawsuits and suing 13 year olds for having no value for what has been shoved in their faces. Now, I want to be clear that I do not support piracy, I do not have peer to peer software on any of my computers and I do not agree with downloading music for free on the internet, but it is not enough to merely disagree. We as artists need to understand what went wrong and begin to change the culture surrounding our music and media. Below there is a link to a film called "The Merchants of Cool" put out by PBS Frontline several years ago. This film addresses a few ideas and practices that explains some of what went wrong and if you have 45 minutes to spare I'd recommend watching it.

Click HERE to watch the film

More on this later.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Mannequin Fred

Im not a huge fan of this movie, the CGI is pretty awful and kind of ruins it for me, but there is a sequence of scenes in the 2007 Francis Lawrence film "I am Legend" that speak to me. If you haven't seen the film and don't wish to (I understand if you don't), the official summary released by Warner Brothers describes the plot like this:

"Robert Neville is a scientist who was unable to stop the spread of the terrible virus that was incurable and man-made. Immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City and perhaps the world. For three years, Neville has faithfully sent out daily radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. But he is not alone. Mutant victims of the plague -- The Infected -- lurk in the shadows... watching Neville's every move... waiting for him to make a fatal mistake. Perhaps mankind's last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood. But he knows he is outnumbered... and quickly running out of time."

The first scene in the sequence is a monologue by Dr Robert Neville (played by Will Smith) following a close encounter with the infected. He recounts this near death experience in a video journal he updates throughout the film:

"Day 1,001- . . . Behavioral note, an infected male exposed himself to sunlight today, now its possible decreased brain function or growing scarcity of food is causing them to ignore their basic survival instincts. Social de-evolution appears complete. Typical human behavior is now entirely absent."

Now being completely isolated in New York City has taken it's toll on Dr. Neville and as a result he has begun to create "friends" around the city. One such "friend" is a mannequin outside a video store he has named Fred. In the scene following the monologue he drives by Fred standing in the middle of a side street no where near where he had left him outside the video store.

He is obviously shocked and frightened by this and goes on to mow down the mannequin with a fully automatic machine gun. He cautiously goes in for a closer look and triggers a trap set by the infected. This is a climactic sequence in the film, but for me it began a string of thoughts concerning creativity and culture and became the concept behind this blog.

The trap set using the mannequin Fred was a sign that Dr. Neville had misjudged the infected and that there was still creativity, ingenuity, and humanity in those around him. In our society it is easy to reach similar conclusions as it applies to art. In a landscape of billboards and fast food, it is not hard to lose hope in the world and give up on the thought that anything new or creative will emerge. Then, when least expected, a new movement, design, song, painting, literary work, etc comes along and convinces us otherwise.

It is the mission of this blog to seek out signs of inspired life in an otherwise barbaric culture.