egmg (egmg) wrote,

BFM students reports


I received a piece from a puzzle. I puzzle that I don't know. It represents, for what I can guess, a world map. The part that I received has more sea than land and it is in the border of the map, so that you can see part of the scale line.

The only readable information on it, apart from the scale is a misterious word for me. "Vestvagoy". The word is not known for google maps, who says that the place I'm looking for is in the northern area of Norway.

I was really confused. I love that my piece is in the border of the map. I love that there is more sea than land, which keeps me in an unestable position and in danger of drowning. I love that just this word is readable, since it is the only way to find the place. But I wasn't expecting Vestvagoy.

Yet, the most interesting part was to come. For the further research that I did on the place, it seems that this place holds the best conserved and biggest Viking archeological site of all Europe. They have a museum and do research on its past. They also organise every summer a Viking festival and prepare original meals and groups visit.

This were great news for me, since in my past I know that I was either Viking or Rohirrim (also an elf, but that is in Skyrim and Dragon Age realities) . Not only because of my fair hair, but because of reasons and my love for medieval times, which is only surpassed by my love for Ancient Roman times. But that is another story.

For the last task you asked us (it rhymes) to write something for us; write something as authors; and write expressing our inner feelings and personality and character.

And so I tried. I imagined different stories from all of this fuss.

The first was the Captain in a Sailor. All of the maps and instruments of navigation had disappeared, nobody knows how. And the only clue that I have is this piece of puzzle. Which is the only hint for a possible landing, maybe the only one, for that is a bad omen, since the world may not be the same and the maps are not valid anymore. It is a sign of danger, since Vikings were never good news for no boat. And also an omen of long travel and uncertain odissey to an unknown and distant place that is, guess, very up north and cold (that is a presage of my travel from Spain to Estonia).

After that I realised that all of my crewmembers, as well as the pirates that are approaching in the distance to my boat, were me, or different realities and aspects of my psique. So I find myself discussing and arguing with I, me , myself. The captain is also angry because the ending of Moby Dick is filth, although he never thought that he would like so much a book on killing whales.

From there, the captain tried to focus on Vestvagoy, and in the Vikings that live there. They are celebrating an impressive feast on the succesful raids of traveling west and south.

Then the captain tried not to focus on the christians and people killed, and the valuables stolen and robbed for the wealth of the community. For the "greater good" (Echo: "the greater good"). That phrase always come with echo, I don't know why. He was there when the mayhem started. All of those stupid people running around, trying not to get killed or burned. They don't realise that Vikings mean death. But also life. And wealth and future, though not for them. May Tutatis bless you. His eye in on the sparrow.

Film Semiotics
O. W.
Professor Jelena Grigorieva
Summary of the Course:
The course of Film Semiotics focused more on exploring the construction of reality with various themes instead of necessarily researching the exact signs, signifiers and symbols of exemplified films. Nevertheless, the goal seemed to be illustrating how such constructions could be later applied into filmmaking.
The first lectures mainly discussed about cinema’s belonging to a semiosphere and how it is possible to draw connections between cinema and other art forms, such as pottery, paintings, music, ancient sculptures, photography, etc. and how cinema while combining the ideas of the mentioned art forms, creates a certain multiplying effect, that was illustrated through a musical piece by noting how adding notes to a pattern, ultimately gives a new melody.
The central periphery idea became a recurring theme throughout the course and an example of such idea was illustrated through various images (paintings, portraits). In other words, the compositions were researched based on the rule of thirds or “golden role” of the images and their intertextual and/or visual elements. Therefore, it can be said that certain interconnected signs, motifs and memes were brought out during these discussions with additionally referring to patterns of societal development, for instance, the pyramid example of hierarchy and how the pyramid often has turned upside down indicating a sense of regeneration through a shift of power.
Additionally, the course touched subjects, such as, the importance and meaning of montage: how montage itself creates a new meaning by combining the shots and displays the world in a fragmented fashion with the idea that these fragments are close to the way we imagine our own memories. Moreover, how film director is closely related to a musical conductor who combines all of the different instruments or departments in creating a wholesome piece of art. Finally, different film-related home works were made based on the favorite film, finding examples of given topics, researching the storyline of a film/or a director in comparison to a larger theme, etc.
Ultimately, it can be said that the course was a Lotmanian manner of exploring, dissecting and combining the specific semiotic point of view with the studies of cinema and culture.


Hi, Elena

At first, my opinion about semiotics has increased. From now I want to know more about symbols and to see "behind walls", to see behind text and to see behind director in films. Before I didn't know that semiotics can be so interesting and important. In films you can tell parallel story with symbols and art of semiotics.
I really liked your way of teaching - every time we had some individual homework and it was in facebook - in the place where we are every day, so the homework cannot go far from us :)
I have also one suggestion - I was hoping that we get to see more movies and analyze them. I really miss knowledge to analyze and decipher films. But this is the next step, with the ideas from the lecture "Semiotics of Cinema" I can discover the filmworld from inside.

Thanks for your time!


Final Reflexions in Semiotics of Cinema
K. R.
So the final given task, if I understood it correctly, was to reflect on the whole course, the ideas and themes we explored and talked about and point out the thoughts that influenced me the most or what I liked most.
This however is not the simplest of the tasks because we seemed to flow as a river touching different things as we went. So I see the course as a breeze of different wind or if I understood the aim - a try to make us see things/mediate on them and/or think differently as we are used to. I am not sure if it in itself is good or bad or even if any value judgment is needed. As things that are true in one possible world can be false in another.
I guess what I liked the most was the part about illusions, because everything is an illusion in the end. Even ourselves, that we think so concrete and material, there is no separation between being and nothingness. I think one of the biggest illusions of all time is what we think of ourselves, that we hold us to be this or that, cunning or modest, successful artist or down to earth business man.

Picture 1: The Self Illusion
Illusions teach us that things are not what they seem or as one of my favourite TV shows Twin Peaks quotes “The Owls are not what they seem”. It’s always matter of perception. And I guess we filmmakers always put it in our films – what is our perception, our illusion of the world.
I have also always loved the idea of the “World Tree or Tree of Life” that unites the heaven and the hell and the earth in-between. It symbolises the interconnectedness of all things and the circle of life. The concept is known to many different religions and in many cultures, from philosophy to mythology and of course it has spread out into the modern art.


My summary here as well: Thank you for discovering and opening new visions of so called semiotics of cinema. I discovered new ways how to understand and translate crosses. This course defiantly opened new areal. Best wishes!

As I previously studied semiotics of film, I was expecting similar approach to this course in a sense of actually analysing meaning and concept of non-verbal - VISUAL communication and massaging.
BUT this course approaches non-traditional type of lecturing, which was a pleasant surprise as well as a bit of confusing at the brining.

FB approach was actually challenging at the beginning, but in a while it became a place to post taught's on previously discussed themes and motives, as well as share personal opinions.

LATER the course finally came together for me, I liked the approach to semiotics not as a certain film/field - system but as a history, connections and actual meanings, which was accrued with materials and visualisations of teacher and with private researches.
Same concept analysis/art analysis/problem analysis and it's system.


My summary: I enjoyed the course, especially the fact that we studied visual arts in diachroniacal aspect. It reminded me of another course, which I was attending a few years ago -- Kunstiajalugu by Kersti Markus. The way of bringing material and friendly atmosphere during the lectures is surely a plus. Thank you!


ABOUT my experience during the course.

"I don’t know exactly what I am expecting from this course, but I intend to continue with it." (Me, at the begining of the course)

I'd never studied film semiotics before, and never semiotics in the way you approach it, I'm still not sure if it has to do with the Russian tradition.

This course was for my a mystery. I didn't know waht to expect, or waht will happen at the end. What I knew was that critical thought is probably the most important and powerful tool that we may ever have to face reality, constructions, illusions and art. Developing this ability we are able to find some sense in this world, and if not, just not being destroyed, which is quite a nice objective.

We entered the course and I wrote down some quotes from you: "This is a conscious agreement of space and time, Physics abandoned reason" / "Use my time" / "It is your duty to generalise the main points and details from my own chaotic line of thought"
I was kind of "Whaaaat" and at the same time "This is gonna be fun".

And then you started to talked about creating a database, about creating a network and developing our ability to read and to systematize and categorize. Using our knowledge and memory as an Ockham's razor to interpret the world, to find a Navigator. I think that it is clear that some themes have been more interesting for me than other, and that can be seen in my participation and the perspective that I chose for each of them. Some of them were an inner process of discovery, other were more analytical and some of them were relational. However, I feel fascinating some of the comments and material shared by some of my mates, and I really think that the FB sharing was a great foundation for this course.

And I can say that this course has changed my perception of things. If before I used sarcasm and distance to separate myself and judge; now I don't use it that much when it comes to analysis. Well, in fact, I have always been analytic and tried to find and read from what I know. But during this process I have open my mind to new visualization of things. And expand my "database". Specially developed it when all my classmates or yourself were posting on our FB community. Sharing knowledge, influences, culture and opinions and analysis was a great idea for the nature of this subject.

And in the last class you came and started talking of perfect tools and no problems. There is no need for creative production and disonance. And our task, as filmmakers, of using this superpower of database and knowledge to produce something new and interesting and extraordinary. And I, who has never been much into direction, but into script and writing and development of projects, though I guess it's the same purpose, was wondering why do we need to find wrong and improve the world with our own proyection of knowledge and ability. Does my life exist for progress or future. Am I even able to influence any kind of production or reality with my creative work.

I guess that it was quite a skeptical point of view that may just be product of my ow fear and sarcasm barrier that I have to protect myself. I see now that maybe art has a point and that if we, as animals are able to do something is to think, and systematize, and create, and produce. Therefore, why not believing on my own abilities and really think that I can change something and believe that it might be important to do something against mind control. There is improvement in being selfish. There is improvement in believing on one's capabilities. There is improvement in digesting knowledge and info and images and patterns, and composition, and rodern, and analysis; and in crossing lines.

I don't know if there is a higher ideal of synthetic art, but I willingly try to find my way around. And I don't know if I should or want to be a ryzomic center of networks, though I guess that everybody is. I try to apply this perspective in my life and work. At least, I have receive the tools, and also the instructions; now I have to know how to use them. At the end, Minus-method is also a method.

Another Quote, it might be the last one, not likely.
"Nobody listens anymore. I can't talk to the walls because they're yelling at me. I can't talk to my wife. She listens to the walls." (Ray Bradbury, Farenheit 451).


And after all this guessing, and knowing, and not knowing, I think that I have to give a grade to this course, to my work, to your work.

I have to say that I don't find this method the best, since grading oneself and the other and then extracting something from the middle of it doesn't always relate to your real development and can be tricky. However, since you have no opportunity to grade us qualitatively, and only quantitatively. Or you just don't want to judge, or feel comfortable doing it. I will give marks and then you shall count (I don't know if to three, or five, I am not King Arthur).
This is as useful and dangerous as a Holy Hand Grenade.
I guess that I cannot really either mark you, since there is no correct way or process to teach semiotics. And I truly believe that you did the best that you could, always taking into account your own vision and projection for this course. Therefore, I shall give you an A.
I, me, myself. I tried my best during the different tasks and I think I did not so bad. My comments are not maybe the most lucid, nor analytical, but not all of them are bullshit. I did my best. And I think that I have managed to get this perception and this database and navigators that you were talking about. Therefore I shall have an A as well.

It was so easy to have an A, since you are giving me a mark built up on As. What can be better than this? Really I don't know what to do. I do not intend to be pretencious, but I did semiotics. For me this process is really problematic and my home-university process on marking is completely different, because they do believe in qualitative evaluation.

L. N.

All in all I must say I had some troubles understanding several of the tasks in the beginning. But after attending more and more classes, I found out that I had to attend every class with an open mind. And furthermore I was very surprised by how the different task contributed to a lot of creative thinking.
I like the idea about to see things differently, like the task where we had to think about difference between two equal squares; the one was drew earlier than the other, one is to the left, the other to the right and so on. It really makes my curious – how do we see things? In which perspective do we see them?
One thing I also found interesting, was the way hermeneutic works; as an example if you read a text it “change” you, so when you read it again, the text will seem different.
But if I should choose one sentence I really like from this class, then it must be: “Our inner world is constructed as a montage”.


Summary: The course was interesting and unusual. The first time I meet such an unusual approach to conducting lectures. It is a pity that I did not listen the course in my native language. Because of this, some things were difficult to understand.

After a few lectures, I began to notice a lot of interesting things. On many things, I began to look from a different perspective.
It was great to be a part of interesting and creative process.

Social media is a really interesting phenomen. In one hand it connects us all, but in the other it draws us apart and makes us totally lonely. Who would have tought ten years ago that we would be watching a wall and talking with it the majority of our day? There were times, when people like these were pumped full of drugs and put between white padded walls.

The need for information and being addicted to it is already comparable with alcoholism and smoking, altough we are not acknowledging it yet. Every spare moment we are looking at the wall and refreshing it to get some images to fill our empty heads. It’s easier than thinking ourselves. But what to do when you need to be a part of this machine to pass one class?

Internet has brought us a lot of new concepts. One of the most interesting one is Lurker. Lurker is a member of an online community who observes, but does not actively participate. One can come up with different ideas why someone acts like this. Need for learning through observation? Low self -esteem?

I classify myself as a Lurker in Social Media, who likes to observe but does not take part. It does not only apply to our Semiotics of Cinema BFM group but overall to my behaviour in Social Media and in Internet. My sharings are more or less always something that I have made, like links to my essays or short films. Do they generate heated debate? - No. Does somebody click on them? - I don't know. Do I care if somebody clicks on them? - I think so.

The thing thats keeps me from sharing every little thing is fear of guilt, that is happening in Social Media anyway. Never can I be the one who shares something first unless it's a thing that I have made. Why we have to overwhelm something that is already overwhelmed? To share the same thing that people already know and are tired of? To keep them away from things that could be more important? Do raise our self-esteem and yell: I SHARED IT!

Links to my posts in our Semiotics of Cinema BFM group

E. Ei.

I would like to begin my summary by stressing how importan this course is in learning the aesthetic vocabulary of the art of cinema. I believe that this course engouraged its participants to see and use visual symbols. And what is even more imporant – it addressed importance of meaning behind these symbols in a bigger cultural context.

The historical line of this course was board. It started in the beginnings of human evolution end made its way trough logical connections to todays post-modern times. Key examples of this study came out of art, which has always been the most influential source of inspiration to cinema next to social repercussion.

This brings me to structure of this course. Instead of ignoring social impact with social media itself, this course used it to the fullest. Dicital communication became integral part of learning and communicating. This approach allowed to engage students actively outside the class room, it drived them to submit inquiries and start dialouge between themselves, rather than “sitting” trough this course. Furthermore I see this approache accurate dueto fact how social media has changed the way of imtepretation of art. Because today most of the art is seen digital, via social media.

This course was successful, because it enthused collaboration and social interchange between participants and engaged visual art into thinking about cinema.


The course has been really very interesting. The unconventional approach to the explanation of the educational materials has been very good for me. That is why even in spite of the lack of knowledge in the English language necessary for understanding all the words, the educational materials have been understood and learnt. Most of all I liked visual examples, creative tasks, which have made the right hemisphere of my brain work really hard. For instance, as a result of accomplishing the task where we needed to analyze the work of the conductor, I started to understand music better when observing the work of the conductor. The task where we analyzed Christ`s crusifixion I have liked most of all - it has been interesting because I have never really thought over the fact how the image of Christ is changing before. While watching different films I have started to notice such details that would have remained unnoticed to me earlier. And this is really fascinating, the film has given more information than as if it had been during the usual watching. There have been so many details that create the general idea and atmosphere of the film. At the last lecture you told us to develope motor skills and create something with our own hands, that has been a motivation to me to start the embroidery that has been lying untouched for 5 years.


Last year in my home university I was attending course "Semiotics of mediatext". I liked it but I feel something was missed. When the time came for choosing courses in BFM, I decided to take "Film Semiotics" hoping that it will give me what I need, more visualized ideas, more keys and instruments for understanding the main idea of Semiotics.

This course was not only about Film Semiotics, it was about art in total. It was so interesting to discuss one sphere of art and come to it using another one, see the role of music and paintings in film making. That kind of things make you think in different way, think out of the box.

And even tasks and class works were so inspiring. It is perfect when teacher give you chance to use every side of your brain and make real your hidden ideas. Thanks a lot!


For me this course is a very interesting experience. First of all it’s interesting because of specific approach of teaching. You are receiving navigators and then different discoveries follow your thoughts. So it’s not so common way when someone just giving you his thoughts. Rather you get some pieces and you compose a composition. And different ways you compose it will create course I got a lot of these navigators but at the beginning I didn't know what to do with them, but
still had a hope that in the end I will receive something that will create a new knowledge. And finally I got something, and I can’t say even what exactly, but everything (conductors, illusions, Hogarth S-line, crucifixion, rivers and borders, evolutions, Paleolithic art, nets, double hermeneutic spiral, center and periphery etc.) just get connected, satisfying my brain. As a result I built in my mind several nets through which I look now on the things around. And the word
“semiosphere” becomes so popular in the conversations with my friends.


My summary:

Before the beginning of lectures i was a bit afraid that it would be similar to the semiotics lectures we had two years ago, which i didnt finish. But after first lectures i understood that it will be completely different, more intuitive, open and experimental. Also giving assignments in facebook and creating a dialogue between students in the internet was really good way of making students talk.
About semiotics in general, i wish i was taught about this earlier, because i realised that it is an essential part of understanding film and cinema. Meanings behind symbols and art is integral part of film. Because young people who aspire to be filmmakers and dont have knowledge of art, symbols, religion, history and so on can use very powerful symbols very foolishly, not even understanding what they are actually saying with these pictures. This lecture gave me inspiration to further study art, especially light and composition. But also symbols in different religions and cultures.

Thank you


I'll post my summery here too (to keep them in one place and easier to find):
Translation of words to meanings as sentences into shapes…..units.
An open mindset to notice, detect, tie in and associate.
Bunch of words without coherence having bash at making sense,
focusing hard on the other side of the brain, lost in translation once and again.

The same transformed to something else,
expanded influences through space and perspective.
Squares - not just squares and words - not just words,
with origins and backgrounds - becoming more clear.
Thank you, it doesn't sound absurd (anymore).

Although the lectures were free in line and being on this travel makes the half of it, I would have wished to analyze cinema through semiology more and profoundly. To widen the boundaries of viewing image, shot (as a single or joint unit in film) and reading the whole from different point of view (not focused on direct plot or characters emotional path as we have been doing mostly past years in school).

The numerous practical home tasks and active facebook community (10 points to Елена for that) have worked wonderfully. Keeping ourselves busy while jointly-separately dealing with our themes and subjects via sharing them online has been encouraging. Motivation is growing/declining phenomenon inside a group. It works both ways and in our case it definitely has been growing.


*having the Facebook community. I think it worked perfectly and it was very interesting to see how other people perceive and do the same tasks. I think combining the ideas with others and seeing their ways of seeing was very useful and interesting experience.

*having a very much art related cours I haven’t had a course which is this much related with art at BFM since 2 years and it made me extremely interested with art again after a long time period.

*making us relate different kinds of arts, think creatively and differently with giving tasks like relating masters with directors or making us compare different arts.

*examining lots of different representations of the same concept. showing how meaning can be constructed differently even in the same concept.

*your analysis about the issue of contemporary art which is not having a problem and we need a problem for art. I think this is the problem of our generation especially. This analysis has answered the question I have been thinking about for a while.

*applying evolution chart to different arts or situations. I noticed that this chart is very inspiring when you are trying make an art work. I also used this while making my box.


I will not write much because I can express my opinion in a few words - I liked this course very much. Firstly, the material was available, even in several languages (books, movies). Secondly, information was given creative and the students had the opportunity to apply their knowledge in practice. Thirdly, an important role was played by our community with rich material, especially pictures. And the most important is not that we just got knowledge, but that these knowledge expand our horizons and taught to think and see the world (and movies) otherwise.


I liked a course format and it was pleasant that in one audience and community on FB students met
from the different countries, with special intellectual, cultural and creative traditions. works and discussion from it only became more interesting.
I won't sing the praises of the teacher and to a technique of teaching - here without comments everything is clear.
I will simply tell that with pleasure I plunged into the world of semiotics, it is very interesting sphere of knowledge which is so striking with the omnipresence that I with pleasure would continue its studying on any course or seminars if they are carried out at our university.
P.S. everywhere I am pursued now by signs :)))))))


My summery here as well: Thank you for discovering and opening new visions of so called semiotics of cinema. I discovered new ways how to understand and translate crosses. This course defiantly opened new areal. Best wishes!


My summary...
In the first classes I gave myself thinking "this woman is completely insane"; In the last classes I thought "this woman is completely insane".
The difference: in the first ones I thought "whatta fuck am I doing here?"; In the lasts: "is not?! that she put me thinking and gave me something". What was that I don't know, or, I can't describe it, maybe the words are not enough, perhaps only with other means...
Maybe I found Elena's S...


The summary to end all summaries
It is a bit late but I’m having a bit of a hard time expressing my thoughts in a manner that would feel complete or easy to understand. The thing about semiotics in general for me personally is that it is a bit hard for me to understand. Not as a subject itself but it’s applicability to movies in the way that it was represented to them in the lectures. I myself consider semiotics to be a study of signs and symbols which might be right but I’m not even sure that it is. Given my understanding of semiotics as I just described I was a bit thrown off that we didn’t focus on movies as much as we focused on art in general whether it be music or pictures. This course expects the students to enter a state of mind that I was always not capable of achieveing. I personally stay away from everything that can be considered arthouse or avant-garde. For example I would never watch a Lars von Trier movie willingly. By taking into account that I don’t have any experiences with experimental movies in general it is quite easy to understand that a lot of examples that were presented in the class didn’t resonate with me personally and at the end of the day I didn’t have quite much to say. My measly understanding of semiotics and how it relates to film didn’t also help so the whole class felt a bit surreal and unnerving at times.
That was all personal. The way the lectures were set up felt really homely and were a great alternative to the usual way of sitting in lines I’ve grown accustomed to while attending classes. I think the in-your-face way of seating works really well for when themes about art and your personal experiences with it are discussed because in many ways movies (or any ohter form of art) and the way we watch and interpret them are. A great plus was Elena’s contagious presence and a welcoming attitude because you have to really ease the students into some of the heavy subjects that were discussed. The Facebook group was also a great idea. It was active as all hell and a great read.

I enjoyed this course very much. I am glad that I attended almost every lections, and think that I got information clear. The system of teaching was very interesting. Good idea to make a facebook community( for me, as for a student of Russian philology, where usually all educational relationship is only between student and a lecturer and all tasks are very private. That was first such open experience of learning I have seen).
Another good thing that the program was based not only on the cinema, but on art in general. I had never had any courses about visual art before, so the plenty of useful information of that course is very good base for me!



… or how did I become to think of the ontological patterns in human perception during the course. For me language and communication are inextricably tied to questions of perception, especially in terms of creative semiotics of meditation and programming of reality. Hence I am using the word perception to signify all types of communication, whether it be verbal, visual, aural or other ways that our senses interact with the rest of the world. Illustrated by Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, we create meaning both from what we see and what we believe we see. It is the blind spots that sometimes keep us from making the connection between real and perceived.

What am I taking with?

Dissection – a way of understanding deconstruction, a principal that human culture has taken to its extreme in arts and philosophy, as something primal in human thought process. To make meaning is to deconstruct and construct again in ones own matrix.

Double helix – the essential form of communication, whether it be between two communicating physical partners, metaphysical ideas or genetic level; thinking of evolution as communication whereby there are always two main communicative partners to create new meaning. Even without deconstruction, there is a sense of parallelism in all perception.

S-curve as stream of consciousness – it is always on its way somewhere, s-curve as one communicative partner residing in an environment or forming a pattern for communicative process. Or in a visually perceived way, the S-curve can provide a great source for evoking evolutionary understanding of any chosen thing.

Breaking out of thinking in rigid opposite binarism – even though there is always the possibility of thinking in terms of analogue and digital forms of communication, there are also constantly evolving opposites that position themselves anew in changing relationships to others. The most revealing example for me was to break out of the seemingly mutually confirming existence of life and death as the two parts of communication that give each other meaning and existential principals. There are many other ways to give existential meaning for both life and death. The possibility of positioning death against a new communicative partner – love, for example. Without love, fear of death does not exist and therefore death as it is in our western culture, an occurrence that is feared as the end or a lack would not exist as such. It would exist in an alternate meaning.

Telepathy – telepathy is nothing more or nothing less than the ability to piece together someone else’s matrix. To be able to predict another’s system of forming thought and communication models.

I think the teaching and learning both deserve to be marked with an A. If not for anything else, then for the communication between two matrixes that then start to produce new communicative acts within my creative parts of the brain. In addition, the letter A as the beginning and the roof over our heads that gathers us into intelligible beings.Thank you for the course.
фотография Greta Varts.

Epp T. (K.)

Short report:
I have past culture semiotic course 5 years ago in Estonian Academy of Art leaded by Virve Sarapik. So I had some previous knowledge what semiotics is and what is the point of view when I look things through semiotical glasses. If I would compare those two experiences in Academy of Art and BFM then I would say that in Academy of Art the studies on semiotics were more organized on reading and writing. Students were introduced the history of semiotics and the waves inside semiotics more in details. We were pushed to read also complicated texts written by Roman Jakobson, Ferdinand de Saussure and Juri Lotman. Discuss those texts in seminars and write a long academical essays on some chosen topic.
This time in film semiotics the course was organized as a game. I find it clever idea. Learning while playing you can remember new information more easily than just reading things from papers and forgetting them the next second. It was enjoyable for me to think along because I had background knowledge and I hope that I understood the references mentioned in the lectures. So I got a lot of associations going around in my head while listening the lecturer and watching the visual examples.
For the future work in making films I find looking through the glasses of semiotics very helpful. For example writing film scripts and developing new ideas. It helps to keep your mind in some kind of a system that you will not get lost in everything. And it helps to choose the signs for your film that are helping to bring out the ideas visually. The associations what some visual images can bring up in film audiences heads is clever to take an account already in thinking process.

L.Mr. (does not need a mark)

Thank You for Your magnificent cognitive experiment! I have been honored to be a part if it. By the end of this course, I am impressed by the quantity of powerful ideas and thoughts which have been twirled inside the classroom. The good energy, the experience will certainly remain in the landscape of our memories for a long time. Just in a few weeks, the seeds have started to grow in our minds. They will grow in directions of higher consciousness and will surely have effect upon our personal lives and therefore on our work.

The design of your lessons was very original and brave. You were not just trying to ‘teach’ us something but also provoking us to THINK and use our brains to the fullest. As a group we created a real dialog, a constructive spider web. It was a challenge, a provocation to raise important questions, it was a mirror to see ourselves better as human beings. The content you shared was a valuable part of the knowledge you gathered with passion and experience you have collected, but most of all it was a pleasure to see how you share it from your heart and with a great sense of humor.

Thank you for taking us on a journey trough the realms of cinema and much further. Now we are ready to travel trough galaxies holding to some navigators and keep the mnemonic box in our pockets as reminders of our origin.

I liked the open community of our Facebook group. It was really useful to share our thoughts and see each others actions. This allowed us to be engaged actively outside the class room, rather than just sitting and inputting information. Anyway, using the facebook group was also close to the fact of today’s impact of social media, this course used it to the fullest. Digital communication became integral part of everyday life. Furthermore I see this approach accurate due to fact how social media has changed the way of interpretation of art. Because today most of the art is seen digital, via social media. Day by day we are witnessing an increasing level of interactivity. In a
certain way we are admitted to the next level of control over reality.

The selection of examples you highlighted were great. I was happy to hear about your thoughts related to Tarkovski, I greatly appreciate and admire his work and existence. I will never forget when I first time read his Sculpting in Time, some of the thoughts he expressed there have strongly influenced my view of responsibility of artists approach to the world to the self.

And the tasks you gave us for homework were so inspiring.

What was great about this course is that it was not only about Film Semiotics - it is about art and life in total. It was very interesting to talk about channels of cinema and languages of visual representations - trough these topics we were reflecting about life, universe and the mysteriously strange facts of being humans. This course encouraged its participants to see and use visual symbols. And what is even more important – it addressed importance of meaning behind these symbols in a bigger cultural context. You reminded us that looking back in history is very important. Thoughts about evolution made us think about the passage of time and metamorphosis of things within its flow. Nothing existing can disappear completely, I like to think like this. A new phase does not cancel all previous forms of art. On the contrary, classical art may get a new life in this new form of art. It is a constant transformation and development of this type of consciousness of the artist. Nowadays art has reached such a level of development to reflect on itself. But one terrible issue of contemporary art is its deconstruction, the loss of values, of etics and basic morality. Many times we can say it is simply full of shit and that this world already has enough films, no need to make any more. Today almost everyone can make a film. Therefore we are totally surrounded by a flood of so many films. We need to make selection and develop filters, to pick important information in the terrible flood. We certainly live in a time of explosion, flood of information and all kinds of brainwashing. It is easy to flow in this river, but not always easy to reflect on the situation, to see what is important, to key point the problems and make changes. In such situation truly good films are relevant as always.
It is interesting to think that for progress problems and mistakes are necessary. We can grow only by solving them, we need to fix on traumas and cure them with good works of art. A film creates another entire organism which will effect the world, spread like a virus. Cinema has such a strong ability, it is a life with all its possibilities, with many possible languages.

As time flows forward, it is always good to look back and examine the principles of compositions and inner structures trough the examples in art history. Many of the formulas have been perpetuously repeating their structures and we can still read them in the matrix of artwork today.
It is interesting how art has focused mostly on the visual and audio senses and not others. Our eyes and ears can be easily tricked and manipulated. The higher technical achievement, the trick becomes more convincing. In such a way cinema can be called a lie. But I like to think of cinema as a lie made for the purpose of finding the truth. It is not really made for our eyes, but our eyes are channels to bring the message inside. Our inner soul and spiritual world is more important than our eyes.
The basic thing in film (at least the original analog film) is that it doesn’t move! In a film nothing moves, this is illusion of movement, and this is real illusion. It goes photo by photo across a projector. What is moving? Just the film tape. The frames are not involved in the movement. Frames are interchanging with darkness between each of them. You must cut the light when the next frame is coming. What does it mean? Without that cut – darkness, the film doesn’t exist! Invisible darkness, better said, interruption of light is the basis of film! And that´s a fact! Sometimes, in real life, the invisible is the basis of the visible, or the visible is the basis of the invisible. When you balance these complementarities you can start to use media in their authenticity.
Scientists seek truths, which should be free of mistakes. James Joyce says that mistakes are the door to Heaven. So if you want to recognize mistakes, you must have order. Usually a mistake is invisible, hidden. It is like a hole in cheese. Cheese prevents us to see the hole. Paradox? Yes, humor! Humor is a miracle and miracles are the concentration of reality. That’s why mistakes are very important and keep us awake! Science is based on response, art on question! And therefore one cannot be without the other! At least I do think so, I may be wrong, who knows.

When I studied in Zagreb, I started to work with analog film, with the role, then developed in the laboratory and make the montage by cutting the film strip and putting it together by hands. As now everything has become digital and lost its physical origin, it is changing it’s DNA structure. In such era things made by hands are even more special.
Marcel Duchamp says there are two ways in which you can make art. The easy way, or the difficult way. I try to use an analog concept. This is the difficult way. I also use digital possibilities. But digital and analog are different, let’s say, complementary things. Digital has boundaries between elements, because „black“ is absolute black, and „white“ is absolute white. This means that between them exists a boundary. The analog system has no borders, because in blackness there is a tiny bit of light which exists, in light there is a little bit of darkness. Like Yin and Yang, you know? Digital technology has reached very high quality, but if the image is perfect, we are further away from reality!

As I already mentioned, I am a student of animation in a small class of Priit Parn. Thanks to his teaching I already had a chance to somewhat become familiar with Yuri Lotman’s realms of semiotics and look at animation trough the semiotic glasses. Animation is very closely related to cinema but its evolution has a different path. The name comes from the word ‘anima’ which means soul. Ancient people believed that everything in nature contains a soul. To ‘animate’ means awakening, to give a soul, giving life. If you look closely, the ancient drawings in caves were sometimes multiplied and as if the authors wanted to create movement. Inside of animation lies the basic human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature. Mimesis, imitation, reflection, duplication… all of this is a part of conscious reproduction of images, sounds and movements from world surrounding our senses.
Animation luckily still allows the chance to work with hands within film. It can be almost like handcraft. In order to animate images, an animator needs to stop his own time to build a new reality an illusion of movement, drawing by drawing – making 24 drawings for one second. It requires oceans of patience, accurate fingers, but most of all – passion. I do it because I find it enjoyable and in some way meditative. The final result when I see it move is the best reward an animator can ever get - to see it come to life. Camera has lost its body from the early cinema times. It is not heavy and static any more, it has no gravity, no laws, now it is like thought, free as imagination.

Semiotics was a very interesting matter to me. I have to say, after this course I feel hungry to explore deeper into the realms of it. I would love to study it further and when ever there will be a chance to learn from you, I would gladly be there.

But most of all I am grateful for joining you on the Wednesday exhibition in the blind society institution. That was a special experience and memory I will keep in my heart. And I will take care of our little squirrel.

Now I wrote so much and not even managed to grasp half of what I wanted to say…
So let me just make a conclusion – this course was more than successful.

Thank you from the heart.
Tags: bfm students reports

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