Basket Weaving at Çatalhöyük

I uploaded the above test clip for the longer machinima that I posted about a little while ago.  It took an immense amount of work to get this far, and this is only a tiny clip of a somewhat awkward avatar doing a single animation.  I used Jing for the video capture and downloaded Soundflower for the system audio redirect.

I think I’ve complained before about having a hard time finding a variety of avatars on Second Life.  Well, this lady is definitely in a different  mode than my usual avatar.  “Wearing” an identity like this one is deeply uncanny, and the reactions and perceptions of other people you meet in Second Life are absolutely different.  I decided to follow a fairly popular strain of visual interpretation at Çatalhöyük in dressing her as a goddess figurine in the bandeau that I made for a decidedly younger character.

Once again, the exercise of recreating this small scene raised more questions than it answered:

She’s weaving reeds, so it must be summer.  Were there cicadas?  Yes.  Why would she be doing this inside by firelight during the summer?  It would be excruciatingly hot and smoky.  What about her vision?  I’ve put her in a less than optimal situation for weaving, that’s for sure.   Why isn’t there anyone with her?  Could she hear other people?  Maybe sheep! We’ll add some sheep sounds. I think she’d be humming to herself.  But what sounds?

It’s a lot of interpretive responsibility, wearing these second skins.

“The Lost Tribes of New York City”

I’m not sure I’d title the project the same way, but I love what London Squared did with this film. I wonder if the filmmakers showed the result to the people they interviewed for the project and how the people felt about seeing themselves as objects in the landscape.  The filmmakers call themselves urban anthropologists, but their webpage doesn’t mention any formal training.

Still, I’m always looking for inspiration.  Even if I don’t have that kind of animation skills.

Eurydice’s West Oakland

So You’re an Archaeologist?!

This Wednesday after the scheduled brown bag lecture, there will be a
showing of “So You’re an Archaeologist?!”, a 20 minute long film made for
the Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul exhibit,
currently running at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

This film was made by UC Berkeley PhD Candidates David Cohen and Colleen
Morgan and features interviews by many of their colleagues.

The film will start at approximately 1pm, after the scheduled lecture from
Alexei Vranich, and will be located in the Archaeological Research
Facility, 2251 College Building, Room 101.

Flip Video

I bought a Flip video camera to check it out for potential use in outreach and more cheap, on-the-fly video recording.  I like how small the thing is and it is really easy to use, but I think one of the most interesting aspects of it is the cell phone-like morphology of the thing.  People act very differently when they have video cameras pointed at them, and this (so far) seems to be less true with the Flip camera.  I like that it promotes more casual recording and it seems more resilient then most video cameras–perfect for on site.

One of the steep downsides is the gui that comes with it.  I played with “editing” inside of it and uploading videos with it, and almost immediately became frustrated with how obtuse it was.  I ended up importing the .avi files that it creates into Final Cut Pro, and editing them with my old, familiar tools.  The video quality isn’t great, but it’s better than most cell phone and digital camera video.  Jason, the site photographer at Catal, was playing with one of these over the summer, but I haven’t seen what he’s shot with it yet, so I can’t really compare.

I shot the above video while driving with Ruth to the Presidio, sped it up, threw a couple of transitions in and a snippet from Broadcast’s Poem of a Dead Song, just for kicks.  It took about 10 minutes, including rendering time.  Not too shabby.

(added)

The video quality on flickr leaves something to be desired.  I’m still trying to find the magic encoding/quality/upload computation.

…and I’m an Archaeologist.

A short clip from a longer video that we’re making for the San Francisco Asian Art museum. It’s the first time I’ve shot in HD, and it’s producing some problems between Final Cut Pro versions, but I’m struggling along.

Bronze Age Orientation Day

I’m late for April Fools, but I laughed harder at this than anything I saw yesterday.  Stolen from the comments at Archaeoastronomy.

Bronze is brilliant!

Emerging Cypriot + Archaeology Films

While I was doing a bit of background for a short piece I’m writing (that is late!), I came across the Emerging Cypriot project, which has several short films that were made by a professional filmmaker collaborating with the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project.  I’m always happy to find more archaeological media available on the web, and it’s interesting to see how other people frame the same topics.

As I may have mentioned previously, this semester I am TA’ing Introduction to Archaeology with Ruth, which is fairly media-heavy, as one might imagine.  For their midterm we had the students watch two short movies, the first being about Ruth’s Opovo project and a professionally made film called Under These Fields 1,000 years ago.  They compared these two projects, and had to write a critical examination of the authorship, intended audience, and variable audience response, using knowledge from the textbook. I just graded a whole passel of them and was surprised to see that most of them liked the Opovo film better–the shaky, handheld, goofy homemade thing that it was. It will be interesting to see how things like youtube and the greater ubiquity of DIY media will shape aesthetics and the perception of media products.

Personal Histories at Cambridge (2 & 3)

Though they don’t seem to be terribly popular, here are parts two and three of the series:

Vertov, Remixed

After writing a hundred pages or so for my field statements, due a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been a little short on words.  It’s slowly coming back to me though, and Spring Break is helping immensely.  I’ve been reading and taking notes in preparation for my orals, and it’s been a luxurious break from the usual hustle of the semester.

I often wish I had Bill and Ted’s phone booth so I could steal away to read, say, Derrida’s corpus, or watch a few hundred ethnographic films, but when I actually do manage to free up some time, I’m often too exhausted to do very much.  So this break has been nice–I’m actually taking time to absorb some of the things that I read through in a rush to finish my field statements.  And while the ethnographic films are out of reach (there’s nothing deader than an out-of-date ethnographic film on VHS in the two-hour-loan section of the library, I swear) I have been finding a few gems on youtube.

So, a rescored, remixed The Man With the Movie Camera, one of the few movies made as an explictly theoretical exercise exploring cinematic language.  I’m delighted that it’s been chopped up and put on youtube–a relaxing break from these pesky words.

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