Under the Public Eye

Title: “Under the Public Eye”
Artists: Shannon Kopunek & Peter Tresnan
Medium: Film
Date: 8 May, 2017

Since the mid twentieth century, philosophers, social scientists, and historians have theorized that gender—the roles, characteristics, and activities that distinguish men from women—is not innate but socially constructed. Artists like Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, and RuPaul have examined, challenged and critiqued the relationships between gender and society in their work, addressing topics such as women in domestic and public spheres, conventional standards of beauty, how societal pressures and mass media inform and reinforce our expectations of men and women, and the influence the media imposes in shaping public perceptions.

The film, “Under the Public Eye”, parallels the journeys of two starlets as they rise to fame. In a series of interviews we see how the human experiences of friendship, coming of age, love, parenthood, and career security are amplified when under constant watch. In a society fueled by entertainment, it seems the world is rooting for one of these two to fail. By juxtaposing Bethany’s journey to stardom with JD’s in a series of interviews that span over an extended period of time, it becomes increasingly apparent the misogynistic nature of the media.

In a process of plot development, character design, costuming, and interviewing we sought to position the celebrity as a person, and their “celebrity” a lens through which we observe them. This was approached by positioning the celebrity as both the interviewee and the interviewer. Although these key roles are played by the same person, their personhood varies—the intention being to show one person existing at the same time in two altering realities; one, the celebrity persona subject to public scrutiny and the other, the interviewer free from recognition and judgement. By affording Bethany and JD the chance to reflect on their emergence into fame, they are for the first time being given agency over their lives; However, we realize there is a disparity between the two experiences.

As Bethany interviews her former selves it becomes clear the choices that have been scripted for her by her family and manager along the way. As a blossoming female artist, Bethany is forced to endure as she is pushed to transition from “America’s Sweetheart” to a more sexualized version of herself; Resulting from this career move, her image no longer fits that of the role model her fans’ parents can or want to support. Experiencing this loss opens a gateway for Bethany’s personal life to be attacked. As years pass, Bethany becomes subject to public scrutiny as her virginity, mental health, and mothering abilities are questioned; Bethany is dehumanized during this process as she endures questions so invasive that in any other scenario they would be considered socially unacceptable. The irony is in the power shift—Bethany now holds the camera that has watched and exploited her for years.

In contrast it seems that JD is constantly being let off the hook for his public indiscretions. Romantically tied to Bethany, we see how JD is cast as the victim in this relationship. We know at this point that there are multiple sides to every story, but the ones crafted by the media are the only ones that seem to matter. Even when JD finds himself in trouble with the law at the scene of a tragic car accident, his image and the loyalty of his fans somehow survive. As the public and media empathize for JD time and time again, it seems his flaws in turn cause a surge in his popularity.

Inspired by real-life celebrities including Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan, Justin Bieber, and Justin Timberlake who have had their lives publicly documented since childhood, the intention of this film is to show how the media helps to escalate human experiences as they are lived. Privacy is a gift and for women there is no room for error. Why are we so quick to cast men as heroes and women as villains? It is time we hold women and men to the same standard. With the knowledge that what we witness on the screen is carefully scripted by the media, it is our hope that the audience will begin to consider what they accept as truth.  


There are no Visual Media W. J. T. Mitchell


So What?

One question that arose during our class discussion of this text was: Why are we reading this?

Visual media isn’t just visual– it’s mixed media!

Everything is mixed media.

We need to observe media with different lenses—being prepared with these lenses is the only way to fully understand a work.

Everything has an agenda(s)!

Ex: Offering wall text provides the viewers with the answer before they even get the chance to view it. How can you then know if your piece is strong enough to stand on its own? While wall-text is something that I most certainly turn to make sure I am getting “the full picture”, I have to wonder if the artist is stripping me of the benefit of the doubt? How does wall-text affect or change a viewing experience? You must consider what it adds, but also what it takes away. It has the potential to stifle any opinions or other interpretations that could otherwise exist–wall-text is in a sense limiting. Where does the artists’ ego interfere with his or her work?

How does your medium inform your subject?


Donato Totaro on “Time and the Film Aesthetics of Andrei Tarkovsky”

04 Interstellar library dimensions

Interstellar- Dimensions of Time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtTkcM9BfXM

I thought Donato Totaro’s take on Tarvosky and his film aesthetics in relation to time to be clear, but not concise; The reading was understandable in its intention to summarize and support Tarvosky’s approach to cinematics, however it was redundant from start to finish. I found it furthermore unnecessary for Totaro to declare his conclusion of Tarvosky’s work so early on.  His intention to summarize his major takeaway from Tarvosky halted any anticipation or chance of discovery for the reader.

I did, however, find Tarvosky’s perceptions of the film world to be very engaging. According to Totaro, Tarvosky believed film to be the “quintessential time-space art”; time and space can acquire qualities of the other; in other words, film creates a world in which time and reality can be bent! I was particularly interested in Tarvoski’s notion of irreversibility; he claimed “Through montage, time loses its irreversibility”. This brought me to think of both my first and most recent experiences with montage. The first time I learned what a montage was, I remember sitting at my fifth grade graduation in an assembly room. The class parents had pieced together separate sections of film, photographs, and nostalgic music in one whole video to encapsulate our class’s entire educational experience up until that point (it included some major life experiences I know).  More recently, I found myself in a much different setting. At a memorial service, once again people had taken the time to pull fragments of a person’s life to formulate one video filled with photographs, film clips, and sound. Although the montages had different tones, they both communicated an urge to preserve specific moments in time; a way of pressing pause and allowing these moments to exist as they are forever.

In my interpretation, this falls in line with Totaro’s analysis of Tarvosky and his assertion that Tarvosky describes time in terms of human memory and life processes. I agree that time is connected to memory and memory is where the constraints or rules of time can be bent. Creativity, imagination, and memory work together in film to allow multiple representations of reality to exist. These realities only technically need to exist in the mind in order to inform the aesthetics of film.

 Totaro declares that “time is the most important working principle for Tarkovsky”:

Time, printed in its factual forms and manifestations: such is the supreme idea of cinema as an art… On that I build my working hypothesis, both practical and theoretical (63) – Tarkovsky


Once these multiple perceptions, realities and perspectives are imagined and captured, they can then exist permanently in film. This is when the function of editing comes into play;  the flow between present/past, memory/perception, reality/fantasy, dream-time/real-time can be further supported by aesthetics of rhythm, sound, effects, and technology.

The function of editing is to maintain this organic process: Editing brings together shots which are already filled with time, and organizes the unified, living structure inherent in the film; and the time that pulsates through the blood vessels of the film, making it alive, is of a varying rhythmic pressure (114)

p. 24


“How Creativity is Being Strangled by the Law”- Lawrence Lessig

In his TED Talk, Lawrence Lessig introduces three historical narratives that parallel and serve as a potential solution for the current issue of legality that exists within today’s technological world.

When I was a boy…in front of every house in the summer evenings you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or the old songs…Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day” -John Phillip Sousa

He begins by describing John Phillip Sousa’s contempt for the “infernal machines” that he believed would displace musical creativity; just like the loss of the tail, vocal chords would be eliminated all together by the process of evolution.

Next Lessig moves on to a discussion of land laws. Before the rise of technology and the advancements of air technology, the land laws and tress passer laws set in place to protect the rights of the land owners and the indefinite space above their land were completely reasonable. It was not until the development of aircrafts and the frequency of flight that the line for upward land ownership became blurred. While some were hesitant to discredit a 100 year old law that up until this time made perfect sense, others felt it necessary to adjust to more modern times with a law that practiced “common sense”. Declaring that the doctrine had “no place in the modern world”, incriminating and fining every aircraft that flew above another person’s property without permission,  the trespassing law was revised.

In the third and final narrative, Lessig describes the terror of broadcasting. Asserting that broadcasting arose as a new way to spread content, Lessig describes the consequential battle over those businesses spreading the content that followed.  In this scenario the competition created was able to achieve a sort of balance.

Lessig argues that these three narratives can be learned from and applied to our modern day world.

Regardless of what the technology is and what point in history those changes arise, the changes that need to occur in order for technology to have space in our modern world, will most certainly illicit some sort of fear.

I agree with Lessig in his argument that the internet creates opportunity; addressing Sousa’s fears of the “infernal machines”, Lessig determines that technology in fact creates an opportunity to revive rewrite culture (RW). Everyone who has access to the internet has the tools for creativity (unfortunately not everyone has access to the internet, so this assumption is slightly flawed), which therefore means that all of these people have the opportunity to say something differently. it is a “revival of vocal cords”.

We need to recognize that today’s younger generations speak a slightly different language than the ones before it; and that is okay..in fact, that is what should be expected. The key is in order to succeed, adjustments need to be made.

In today’s technological world, copy-write laws could be interpreted as trespassing laws in which the violation of digital property is being protected. In this case the same issue arises as has throughout history; Lessig argues that in protection of younger generations, these outdated laws must be adjusted so that inevitable usage of found materials on the internet does not incriminate all young people. Once again people are venturing into unexplored and unmeasurable territories. Lessig claims this can be solved with the third narrative; by fueling competition to create a balance. If artists and creators choose to make their work available more freely, their competition with the less free will produce an exchange of teaching and ideas; this comes down to artist choice.

I agree with Lessig that the “borrowing” of materials is inevitable, especially with today’s youth culture, however I still fear for the protection of artists rights. I understand that kids must not be taught to be “passive” in a growing world, however I am not sure that teaching them to be “pirates” is the solution. If this is the way in which an artist makes a career and the internet activities are not just for a creative outlet or play, then I feel that certain legalities of copy-write must be upheld. I am not sure how this balance can be achieved.



About Rancier

Rancier is extremely confident in his language…is this confidence or passion for art?

4 trends that artists use:

  • the joke
  • the mystery
  • the collection
  • the invitation

He is arguing about art with feeling and art about politics.

That contemporary art is moving more towards ethics and morality rather than more critical politicized art.

Can the two not coexist? What is political art and what is not is not necessarily so black and white.

Analysis of how contemporary political art is addressing new ideas and ideas in general in a different way.

Big picture of the “Third Citizen”: to acknowledge that no person or entity really belongs to any specific identity in a real immutable way; Identities are subjective, relational, and changeable.