Kev’s Thoughts On… Video Posting

Posted: February 5th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Kev's Thoughts On... | Tags: , | No Comments »

There are some things that you just know are here to stay, and here to explode in a very big way. P2P (Person to Person) vid posting is one of those. Some people call them Vlogs (Video logs) or whatever, and there are so many numerous platforms for internet video now (like YouTube, TuDou, and so many IPTV sites). But in the end it is the continued extension of the Visual revolution already underway (Taken from a book I read recently called ‘MindSet!’).

Anyways, I am using this posting as an excuse to put up the first of what I envision will be many more video posts onto this blog, to augment my written musings.

This particular clip I had seen several months before, but I’ve come across it again and thought it would be interesting to share with all of you if you have not already seen it. On one hand it is all very technical, but on the other, its just purely aesthetically exhilarating, and will speak to you if you are an Artist, Techie, or whoever. It is certainly an interesting glimpse at new directions of new media arts.


Kev’s Thoughts On… China’s Cultural Development Part II

Posted: February 5th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Kev's Thoughts On... | Tags: , , | No Comments »

I call this posting Part II because I wrote in September about China’s changes in media consumption in the past decade, and how it has changed an entire generation (and its sub-generations). This edition is less media and more social, but goes hand-in-hand with the media consumption changes experienced in China the last decade. I do recommend going back and checking out the earlier posting, if only to give more context and substance to what I write here.

Melody was reading a Chinese movie magazine the other day and commented on an article comemorating the 10 year anniversary of the movie Titanic (it came out in 1997 if you can remember). What the article said and what Melody and I went on to discuss was to me very revealing. For the mainland Chinese, Titanic represented a milestone or turning point in China cinematic-viewership history. While Chinese had access to foreign -Hollywood- films before 1997, it was Titanic that really experienced widespread popularity and put American movie-making in the hearts and minds of Chinese citizens.

Titanic as a watershed event is several-fold:
1) It was the first major hollywood movie to be shown nation-wide in Chinese theatres, thereby giving the entire Chinese populace full exposure to the ‘splendor’ of Hollywood film making, and creating a precedent for future Hollywood films to be shown nation-wide in Chinese cinemas
2) Through the Titanic story, a clear Western “Love will conquer all” theme (rooted in 19th century French Bohemianism) was projected to the minds and pragmatic culture of the Chinese
3) Titanic auspiciously opened right when mass-market China began purchasing Personal Computers for home entertainment consumption (this is where reading my posting in September comes in with context). The rise of PCs in China creates a boom in the derivative VCD and later DVD markets, and ensures that a Titanic VCD can be found on sale within 100 metres of wherever you stand in China for the next few years. The Titanic VCD also gives way to China’s burgeoning fascination with Hollywood cinema, and is in part a factor (I won’t say how big or small) to the issues we have today with China’s counterfeit movie market
4) It made Leonardo DiCaprio, and yes, Celine Dion, a household name.

While all these points can in of themselves evolve into lengthy discussions, I was most intrigued by the idea that it is this newest generation — the generation that grew up with the PC and the emerging media channels that followed it — is the same generation that grew up with the rise of American popular movie culture. It is this same generation that has spent a lot more time observing, scrutinizing, and oftentimes absorbing the norms and idealistic dreams that we ourselves have grown up with. And while most of us will nod our heads in agreement and say this is an obvious observation, I find this Titanic issue a very convenient marker for further differentiating what I had earlier labeled the “Transitional Generation”. For me, this Transitional Generation (this year aged 21 to 31) is not only the post-TV culture (aka PC culture), but the post-Titanic culture. To emphasize the importance of the Titanic marker, consider that before this movie came out, the only commonly-known American actor was Arnold Schwartzenegger, and the major influence on popular culture from movies came from the Hong Kong studios rather than from Hollywood. Those I call the Transitional Generation were young enough (i.e. still in school) that they had enough time and exposure to post-Titanic Hollywood films to have a chance at incorporating some of the Western ideas and themes into their own personal and sub-group culture.

The bottom line from all this talk about Titanic, is that we are beginning to see a whole fundamentally different generation emerge into the workplace. One that not only uses media differently, but one that is drawing on a much higher reliance –and perhaps alliance– on American culture. And now the most interesting questions can be asked: 1) how much of western culture has this Transitional Generation really absorbed 2) what part of western-movie themes enamours this generation (ie. bohemianism, happy-endings, freedom, unity, etc.) 3) what role has the infusion of western-movie themes had in the incorporation with traditional Chinese culture?
These questions I don’t think anyone can diffinitively answer, although they are each perhaps billion-dollar questions business-wise, and questions I am certainly trying to answer for myself. As I learn more, I will share it with you here on my blog.

So while most of us can barely believe its been 10 years since Titanic came out, give it another thought and think about all the movies and new culture we have incorporated into our lexicon and contemporary society. Remember that it is only these relatively new films and cinematic themes (like Matrix, Star Wars Episode 1, 2, 3 but NOT 4, 5, 6; Mission Impossible, Men in Black, Lion King, Saving Private Ryan, the American Pie franchise) that are having profound impacts on contemporary Chinese culture.

Kev’s Music Review: C.O.U. Chinese Organic Union

Posted: February 5th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Kev's Music Review | Tags: , , | No Comments »

For those of you who follow my music reviews, you’ll probably notice that I review mostly contemporary jazz. But to be honest, I am a great lover of anything jazz. In fact, much of the greatest advances in jazz are coming from jazz fusion, which I’ve been spending a lot more time exploring, and which I will hopefully begin reviewing more for you.

It is no surprise then, that when a new group labeled themselves the first ‘Chinese Jazz-Rap’, I was more than intrigued. Jazz? Good. Rap? Good. Chinese? Gooood. (Thats a parody from Joey on Friends by the way).

Earlier in September I went to their cd release concert and party, just to check them out live, and see what their idea of jazz-rap was all about. To my surprise; it was really good. Well, it had serious potential. A little raw in some areas, like when they tried to infuse their Chinese rap with Chinglish slang to make it more ‘authentic’. But two things really caught my ear: 1) the DJs knew their stuff. They’ve produced some serious thick beats overlaid with some even heavier jazz-influenced tunes. Even without the rapping, I would have purchased the CD cause their Jazz-hip hop beats were really movin’. Most of it is thanks to Kirby Lee, the main DJ, who has just come out with his own debut solo album. 2) The premier featured rapper, J-Fever, is a really really talented lyricist. Not only is he native to Beijing (while some of the other rappers in this collective come from Shanghai, HK, and South China), but his Putonghua, or standard Chinese, is so clear that it is a pleasure to listen to him wrap. The way he uses the cues during the off-beats really goes well with the laid-back, sit-back style of this jazz-rap.

It wasn’t too long into the first song that I was bopping, and nodding in appreciation and agreement. “Alright” I said, “they got good skill”. And then I took a closer look. These guys were young. Well, at least J-Fever is. He is still in college I believe, which means that he has a bright future ahead of him if he plans to devote it to music.

In anycase, a glimpse into the emerging underground of Chinese hip-hop, and one potential direction it is headed. If indeed C.O.U. and it’s community continues to gain popularity as it has been, we could potentially see Chinese hip-hop evolve into a forerunner for the popularization of Jazz-influenced Hip Hop. This could be a very exciting development, and could potentially be the launching platform for different kinds of jazz — jazz fusion, jazz house, and yes, even traditional contemporary jazz– to make a real home here in China.

I will keep my tabs on how C.O.U., Kirby Lee, J-Fever and the whole Chinese Jazz-Rap movement grows.
Link to C.O.U. website here.

Keeping an ear to the ground,