Creative Project: “Channeling” Frank Ocean

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“Channeling” is a play on words referencing Frank’s album Channel Orange and the fact that I am emulating him in this project.

For my creative project, I followed the timeline I had created for my personal essay:

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I started with a photo of myself in my workspace, as Frank had posted a photo of himself in the studio.
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I then posted to twitter, as Frank Ocean had posted to tumblr a hint about his new album. I used the #apart to hint at the song I chose to cover at then end of the timeline.
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I then took another photo of me working on the project next to books that influence me, as frank did with the magazines.
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Next, as Frank had put up a video of him physically creating something, which was seen as a hint of the upcoming album, I created a physical piece of art. I drew an image that I thought showed the meaning behind the song I chose, Self Control, along with a line from the song surrounding the image. Frank’s, Mine
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I then created a playlist of songs that I felt embodied the feeling I get from listening/singing Self Control, as Frank had sampled many artists in his video album, Endless. Video, Playlist
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Finally I recorded my cover of Self Control, as Frank finally released his album Blonde after so many different ways of keeping the world on edge in anticipation for his album. Frank’s Self Control, My Cover

Taking these photos, I used a Nikon camera (borrowed from my mom) and a stand so that I could accomplish this on my own. It was a challenge to get the right angle to satisfy my replication. I used editing features to give the vibrant colors that I felt came across in Frank’s photos, but with more brightness and warmth to cater to my artistic choices. For the video I used the nikon with the stand to record and then used iMovie at the cox computer lab to edit; using iMovie was difficult at times, for I wanted the video to be time-lapsed, the music to fade out at the end, and the photos of the project to flow nicely. I dedicated a lot of time to that video. Recording the song I used an acoustic guitar cover (Caroline McGregor via Youtube) that I found on Youtube along with the voice-memos application on the iphone to record myself singing to that guitar cover. This was not too difficult technology-wise, but I had to practice the song and record it tens of times to get it to the quality I wanted to submit. Overall this project required a lot of different technology and applications that I had to navigate, learn, and manipulate.
This semester my topic was Frank Ocean and the way he uses media to express himself and share his creations. The more I’ve learned about Frank Ocean, the more ways I see that he has utilized media in all forms: from photography, to social media, to physical mediums, to sampling, to video. His approach to musical creation is multi-faceted, so I knew that my creative project had to be the same. When deciding on my creative project, I had the goal of trying to understand what it is like to be part of so many mediums of media at once. By following the timeline of Frank Ocean’s release of his album, Blonde, but with my own artwork, “sampling”/covering Self Control, and more, I learned that it is empowering to embrace media in this holistic way. In a world with so many resources at our hands, I can now see how Frank couldn’t just stop at the production of the musical aspect of his album. With such personal songs, expressing them on the web, through art, and full dedication of himself to his project, Blonde is truly unique. Frank is an example of what it is like to be an artist today. As we have discussed, media is constantly changing, making us interact in different ways. Frank used “old-fashioned” physical media to express himself along with online platforms like tumblr. He shows that being a musician means giving yourself to your audience, and being creative with the incredible resources at hand. He also knows the implications of oversharing, for social media, as we have discussed throughout the semester, can be all consuming, and detrimental to our self identities. The has always been the music, but then came technology that changed the way it was created and constructed. Now there is a third level to the technology of music: social media. Now music is also about the way that music is seen by audiences and shared in the online world. Music is changing, but as Frank Ocean did with his album Blonde, it is important to look back to past media forms and reflect on the impact of the media and social media today.

This was a really fun, empowering, and reflective project. Hope you enjoy.

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Extra Credit #3: MIA Documentary

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Last Friday, November 30th, I went to the Emory campus screening of Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. I had always loved her music, for it’s unique, fun to dance to, but also always had the most interesting lyrics. As a young teen, I often listened to her song Paper Planes; I never knew what it really was about.

This documentary was AMAZING. It delved into her background and career in such an intimate, impactful way.  Matangi is the name she had as a refugee from Sri Lanka. She had to escape the civil war and the the wrath of the government against the resistance her father had created. In London, as a refugee, and now a teenager of the UK, she was known as Maya. Finally, when she blew up as a star in the music industry across the world, she become known as M.I.A.. Her background makes her music so unique, but it is the way she pieces her cultural experiences with her passion for social change that makes her creations so special.

The world was outraged by her unwillingness to hide her thoughts about portrayals of Sri Lanka in the media, and her need to stand up for what she believes in. She famously flipped off the camera during Madonna’s Super Bowl performance that she was a part of, and suddenly was in the spotlight as a hater of American ways. She renounced the NYTimes for its portrayal of Sri Lanka and stated that there were mass killings of people and racial cleansing in Sri Lanka, for she wanted to fight the way the media was portraying the unrest in her country. Many people called her a terrorist, and wanted her to be silent. She never stopped.

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With media she continuously created images that would strike the world, such as a video of ginger white boys being “cleansed” in her song Born Free. After watching this documentary, I now know what her song Paper Planes means, for its most well-known part:

All I wanna do is
And (gun shot sounds)
And (cash machine sound) take your money

satirically comments on the way the media and the world like to think of immigrants as people who come to a country to be violent and steal everyone’s jobs. Her combination of passion for activism and love for dance music make her songs like no other.

This was a really great experience, and I would suggest that everyone watches this documentary. I’m planning on watching it again with my mom when I go home for winter break.

Research Paper Rough Draft

The following is my first 600 words of my research plan intertwined with an outline of the rest of the paper.

Research Questions

  1. Stemming from the trail of Frank Ocean, in what ways has creating, distributing, and connecting with music become dependent on social media in the twenty first century?
  2. What do Frank’s uses of social media reveal about social media in today’s music industry?

Introduction

Though many music artists use social media, it seems that Frank Ocean has a special relationship with it, for he uses social media to show but not tell his identity. He presents aspects of himself without explicitly stating what they are, explaining what he means, or labeling himself. For Frank, social media is a tool he can employ to share his music the way he wants to, and pick and choose the aspects of himself he feels are important for his audience to know.

Thesis He reveals himself on social media so that who he is and his music can be interpreted by his audience, in the way that people get to know someone in a relationship; As time passes and you interact with Frank Ocean more through his social media, you learn about who he is as an artist and person.

BP1 Letting his music speak for itself

Frank Ocean began his career as a writer of music, someone behind the scenes, sharing his creations without true recognition. After hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and destroyed Lonny Breauxs (Christopher Francis Ocean or Frank Ocean’s original name) home studio, Frank moved to the West, to Los Angeles. He began as a ghostwriter for artists like Justin Bieber, Rihanna, and Beyoncé, and after meeting artist Tyler the Creator and producer Tricky Stewart, he found his way to a contract with Def Jam. Here he placed his hopes and dreams, but Def Jam simply did not live up to the challenge. Frank found himself caught in a deal with people not willing to foster the incredible creativity he was bringing to the label, and he was forced to breakout and make his album on his own. Inspired by a group of music misfits, Odd Future, Frank constructed an album, Nostalgia, ULTRA. He self released Nostalgia, ULTRA, taking the internet by storm, and showing Def Jam what he was truly made of, and more significantly, what they missed out on. As Yoh Phillips wrote in his article Road to Artistic Freedom: Frank OCean’s Journey to Independence, “When Lonny Breaux became Frank Ocean and decided upon a path without assistance, something more than a name changed. The very idea of a traditional career and being under the thumb of a label was thrown away. He knew what it was like to be shelved, tasted the life of an artist trapped, and also saw the power in being an artist who does it alone, independently.” From there Frank Ocean could not be stopped: he gave Def Jam and ultimatum “Give me $1 million if you want the next album.” He was all powerful, for he knew that with the technology at his fingertips, and the creativity of his talent, he needed no one but himself to be the artist he had always dreamed of. Frank Ocean is a pioneer of the industry, proving to the world and to other up and coming artists that music can be created by anyone, it simply takes passion and determination.

BP2 He took social media use for promotion to a new level.

  • Also showed a reminiscence of other older art forms.
  • His music is deep, complex, and there are a lot of fan comments/blogs interpreting (ex. Dissect podcast)

BP3 Music today is not just about the sounds, but about being involved in the artist’s life.

  • Unlike earlier times, social media gives the audience access to every aspect of these artists lives (address recent instagram change with frank ocean)
  • But his music is so intimate that he has to share some things (use discrete open letter)
  • politics/personal beliefs revealed

Conclusion Why is this important?

Because Frank Ocean has his trepidations about social media but also uses it so intently and masterfully, he has revealed that media in music must be used thoughtfully. The relationship between artist and audience can be fostered through social media, creating a more real and intimate relationship with an artist, but it can also taint the music and the way that it can sometimes say enough just to listen. The world of music is changing and Frank seems to be trying to make use of social media without destroying the power that music has always had, or sacrificing his authenticity.

 

Final Website Self-Assessment

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photo credit: https://herbusinessnow.wordpress.com

My website, byhaydenhadley, is a beautiful manifestation of my work in this class this semester. Looking at it, scrolling the pages, and navigating through the tabs that I have created, I am truly satisfied with the work I’ve completed, the words I’ve written, and the design of my website.

I started off with a good base on the first day I created this site, for the light pink coloring, the rose emblem (I love that I figured out how to put it next to the website address in the search-engine-bar), and the classic blog style of the website, have all remained the same throughout the semester, and I still enjoy their aesthetic impact. I did, however, change some of the navigation/organization elements of byhaydenhadley. Because we documented the accumulation of projects designated to one topic, I found myself often scrolling down to past posts to compare and use things I had written in the past to influence the current project I was working on. I realized that with the mix of assignments that were unrelated to the topic, it was very irritating to have to scroll down all the way to see a post I needed. I can imagine that for others this is annoying as well. So I decided to categorize my posts into three categories: Extra Credit, Assessments, and Frank Ocean Project while still keeping the other tabs I had originally included (About Me, Home).

I think that it is important that the Home page still has a running scroll of all of my posts in chronological order, with the most recent at the top, for with my blog-style intention, anyone visiting could see my most recent content and if they need something specific, they can now click on one of the categories I have provided.

Though I did come upon some challenges, I found that with a little time and effort, creating a website is very user friendly, especially on a platform like WordPress. The process was way easier than I initially expected. You don’t have to be able to code or an engineer to have a website. I find it so incredible that people today can so easily market themselves, have their own website, and make their work official and accessible on the world-wide-web to just about anyone. These realizations have made me really happy with my website-creation experience.

When I look back to my initial thoughts about my website I have so many ambitions and ideas. I said on my September 14th post:

“I hope to add an art section to showcase what I work on in the semester visually and literarily, an event page for cool things that I think are important to go to at Emory and in Atlanta, and maybe a fashion page as well.”

I wish that I had gotten further with these ambitions, but that does not mean that I don’t plan on pursuing them in the future. I have explored other website-creating options, such as wix, or weebly or squarespace that may fit the image I am trying to create when presenting my art/work. I am thinking about transposing some of the design and content of this website to a one of these options to promote my work and supply employers with an exhibition of my creative side in the future. One idea I have is to link articles I have written for Emory’s HerCampus page, but I am still thinking about how I would go about displaying it. I also think that possibly purchasing a domain without the website-creator’s name (byhaydenhadley.wordpress.com) would be important if I want to make a more official site for myself.

Overall, I think that creating a website this semester was a really beneficial process. I think that I have developed something that I am proud of, and learned that there are so many things I can do in the future with the website accessibility I have. I’m excited to take what I have learned and apply it to my future website!

Creative Project Rough Draft

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Here, in the left column, is the timeline that I had created from my personal essay about the way Frank Ocean released his album, Blonde, and in the right column, the way that I will replicate his release of his album as my creative project…

Frank’s Timeline (From Personal Essay) My Interpretation and Experience Replicating Each Event
Frank first releases an instagram photo of working on his music on a mixing board. This will be a picture of me at my dorm room desk, the place that I consider to be my workshop, like Frank’s soundboard/music studio. This is the place where I will try to experiment and experience what it’s like to be part of all the different forms of media that Frank used to release his album.
Though I myself will not be releasing an album, I will also be trying to create a cover of one of Frank’s songs. I will use the media to hint at which song by Frank I will be covering in order to have a reveal as Frank did.
I won’t be looking for responses throughout these media posts, rather I will be looking to explore and reflect the modes of expression, the intimacy, the exposure, and the emotions that I feel while using these different media methods.
In a tumblr post, he hints at the fact that the new album is almost ready. I will use Twitter for this event, for I feel that in 2018 Twitter is more equivalent to the audience Frank was reaching out to with Tumblr. He was trying to reach a group to give a hint about his new album, while also being subtle at the same time. I feel that with Twitter’s low character count and abundance of posts made on Twitter, this will replicate that subtle effect.
His post had said “I got two versions. I got twoooo versions,” with hashtags #ISSUE1 #ALBUM3 #JULY2015 #BOYSDONTCRY.I will write “I got one cover. I got oneeeee cover,” with hashtags #frankoceanexperiment #digitalmedia #December2018 #lonely

“Lonely” will be a hint at the song I choose.

He posts on his website, 3 years after Channel Orange, a picture of magazines hinting at the release of an album titled “Boys Don’t Cry,” just like the magazines. No release comes. My interpretation of Frank posting this image is that Frank was in a personal space (maybe his home, or office) and he was simply showing that he was creating something that meant something to him, while also sending the next hint in his series of hints, one about the title.
Because I am doing a cover, I will have a picture of me in my dorm room, with a stack of books that influence me, with my journal on the top.
But the album is not released. The mystery is still in full force, and a black and white video live streams on Frank’s website in August. Frank is woodworking to build something. The New York Times reveals in reference to this live stream that a new album is coming in five days. But it does not come. I am not sure of Frank’s intentions, but to me it felt like this video indicated a physical manifestation of all the hard work Frank put into his new music: all the labor, the heart, and the thought. His woodworking took time, labor, power tools, and navigation of a blank canvas to start from, just like his album.
I think that the black and white filter was meant to keep the video simple, to show that the color was going to come in form of the sound he would soon give his fans.
I will not be woodworking, but rather creating some type of physical art on camera. I am not sure what this will be yet, but I am thinking that I will either be drawing a picture of something that symbolizes the impact that the song I choose has on me, or doing some type of origami for the same effect. I will do this in black and white as well.
A few weeks later the woodworking live stream continues, and his visual, music-video-esque project, Endless is released with Apple Music the next day. This however is not the album that fans had been waiting for all these years. Endless is the woodworking video, now with music. Some short songs with lots of samplings of other artists play as he finishes his wood project. Mikelle Street writes that “On Endless, the studio seemingly becomes a playground, a sonic Tumblr feed. Here, he reblogs other artists by sampling the likes of Jazmine Sullivan in ‘Wither’ and Lauryn Hill in ‘Rushes’” (https://goo.gl/S62yJv). Frank is exploring, sharing the music he loves and what it means to him.
I chose to concentrate my project this semester on Frank Ocean because I have felt connected to Frank’s music, as I know many people do. Music in general is a very important part of my life because of the way that it makes me feel and the way it make people feel that they are not alone in the ways they feel about life. For this part of the replication of Frank’s media timeline, I will make a playlist of songs that make me feel similarly to the song I choose (approximately 10 songs long). With this playlist I will be able to share songs that are important to me as Frank did through sampling.
48 hours after Endless, the album is finally gifted to the world: Blonde, the new name for Boys Don’t Cry, is finally in the hands of Frank’s fans. The final reveal, like his album, will be a recording of my cover of the song, Solo. This song is beautiful and powerful, and I look forward to making a cover. I might even mimic the album cover (displayed at the top of this post).

Project Intention: I hope that by the end of this project I further understand the complicated nature of the way that Frank Ocean released his album Blonde, feeling how much effort he put into making his fans pay attention and wait for his new music. I hope to understand the reasons for why he released his album in this complex way. I also hope to feel more connected to the way that media, physical art and music are all connected in the modern world.

East L.A. Interchange

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In a week where Jewish people are feeling the weight of the world, I felt the feeling of resilience in the room while watching this documentary hosted by the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. We all came to support the creations of the Jewish community, and a film that partially documented to history of Jewish people in America.

Boyle Heights is the oldest neighborhood in East L.A. and is home to a population that has continuously resisted history and infrastructure that has threatened to destroy the diversity and vibrancy of the community. Betsy Kalin, who was in White Hall 2018 with us, did an incredible job at making the film feel real, genuine, and reflective of the true experiences of those who had lived and still live in Boyle Heights. As  stated on the website’s front page, The Huffington Post wrote that this documentary “will transform how you think about living in the U.S. today,” and I honestly think that this is true. I was one of the people that had only heard of the stereotypes of East L.A. and not thought about how my perspective has been influenced by the way the media has portrayed this area of the country. I was particularly struck by Anderson Cooper’s blunt words about how gang violence and poverty dominated the area, swiftly excluding the fact that the people living in Boyle Heights are community members contributing to society while working, going to school, and building bonds across racial and cultural boundaries.

Through Kalin’s lens, I was able to see Boyle Heights for the rich history it has. It reflects resistance to government attempts at racial segregation, the Japanese American Internment, highway systems that intentionally targeted destruction of low-income immigrant communities, and the changing definitions of what it means to be an immigrant and an American in the United States. With a running time of only 57 minutes, East L.A. Interchange used each second effectively, bringing the audience into the world of this misrepresented community and out of the distorted bubble that the media so often creates. The interviews were cunning, catching, and put the audience in the shoes of the camera’s subjects. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and feel that it reflects many of the topics we have discussed in our class this semester; East L.A. Interchange displayed how media can distort how we view each other but can also break in support of those in need.

Annotated Bibliography

Chasing, Alyssa. “Social Media Is Another Canvas for Millennial Artists.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/alyssa-chayasing/social-media-is-another-c_b_6682566.html.

In a blog-style reflection on being an artist in 2017, Alyssa Chasing reflects on how “Social media provides multiple user friendly platforms for millennial artists to promote themselves: on Facebook I can share my art updates with friends and family, on Twitter I can share links in a witty tweet about my work and hope it goes viral, on Instagram I can post pictures from my studio and get new fans each day. It’s incredibly easy to put work on the internet and the feedback is instant.” Though Alyssa is not an expert in the field, she is a primary source musician in 2017. Her insight is important because it gives a first time account about the way that the digital world has made promotion easier for artists like herself. She also reflects on the problems with music being centered around likes, retweets, comments and follows, for the genuinity can become lost. As a central part of my research, Frank Ocean used various media forms, old and new, to promote his content, and Chasing provides a window into what it is like to use these digital platforms first hand.

Edgar-Hunt, Robert, et al. The Arena Concert: Music, Media and Mass Entertainment. Bloomsbury Academic, 2015.

This book dissects the modern concert world that music exists in today. The Arena Concert argues that in a world with such an intense emphasis on social media, quick music access, and full-time connection between audiences, artists and the music produced, the music industry has become centralized around the arena concert. Revenue for artists is made on tour at these concerts through the new need to be physically close to the artist and to produce one’s own experience in relation to the creator (with individual amateur filming and recording of the arena concerts). This is an incredible collection of research. With a bibliography that is tens of pages long, the editors not only have great expertise on this issue, but they weave together opinions from various experts in a way that takes factual evidence about the music industry and reveals a ringing truth. This source has the spotlight on a very specific aspect of the social and digital world of music, the arena concert, revealing important characteristics of the music world that are very relevant to my research. As the book argues, social media and the digital age have created a new relationship between the audience, fans, and the music itself, relating explicitly to the core of my research.

McKay, George. The Pop Festival: History, Music, Media, Culture. Bloomsbury Academic, 2015.

George McKay’s The Pop Festival uses the concept of the music festival as a cultural phenomena that reflects how social settings and contexts change over time. Relating to young people, McKay tracks the history of music festivals and how they have developed in relation to the music industry and society. Though the material has a concentration on British media and culture, many of the issues dealt with are universal to the music world, and therefore relate closely to my research. George McKay is a writer, musician and media studies professor who has dedicated his life to understanding music and its various contexts. His expert research in Chapter Fourteen: Everybody talk about pop music: Un-Convention as alternative to festival, from DIY music to social change relates most to my research, for it focuses on how the music industry has changed the way music is created, distributed, and digested by artists and audiences, which is the central topic of my research.

Pope, Stephen Travis. “Web.La.Radia: Social, Economic, and Political Aspects of Music and Digital Media.” Computer Music Journal, vol. 23, no. 1, 1999, pp. 49–56. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3680621.

This scholarly article will be a vital part of my research for it focuses specifically on the implications of digital media forms and technologies. Pope indicates that his “article addresses the sociological, economical, and political relationships between electronic media art and its modes of production and dissemination” (49). Importantly, providing a spring-board for a larger significance to my research, Pope’s article looks to the possible future impacts of music and media. This article was published in 1999, looking into a future that is today, and I wish to evaluate possibilities of the significance of social and digital media in the upcoming decades. The analysis feeds directly into my research, providing a perspective from an award winning sociologist, filmmaker, and activist on the foundational elements of how music is dependent on social media.

Thornton, Sarah. Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital. Wesleyan University Press, 1996.

This book analyzes the development of clubbing culture, investigating the resulting social hierarchies, the distribution and sharing of music, and the importance this form of musical participation has in growing subcultures. This book was published in 1996 and has its central setting located in Great Britain. These contextual aspects veer slightly from my research that centralizes around American artist Frank Ocean, however it provides a way to contextualize Frank in relation to prior methods of creating and spreading music. With a BA in art history and a PhD in sociology and chief correspondent on contemporary art for The Economist, Sarah Thornton is an expert in her field, and provides significant insight into how music touches audiences and creates cultural niches, topics that are vital to a full understanding of my research.

Wortham, Jenna. “If SoundCloud Disappears, What Happens to Its Music Culture?” New York Times, 1 Aug. 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/01/magazine/if-soundcloud-disappears-what-happens-to-its-music-culture.html

This article analyzes SoundCloud, a platform very similar to Frank Ocean’s creative releasings of his albums through various forms of social media and digital media. Like many online music sharing platforms, SoundCloud has become a central location for DIY and amateur artists to build a following of their music. Wortham investigates the problems of these music locations and of streaming services like Spotify, for they have the possibility of being short lived, disappearing, and taking their artists and their creations with them. As a staff writer for Time Magazine and host of NYtimes music podcast Still Processing, Wortham beautifully illustrates the significance of SoundCloud in the music industry, and this platform will be an important aspect of my research.