Jon Bois and Post-Human Media
A project by Ryan McCandless
Jon Bois is a writer/director who has been making various sports themed videos on YouTube for several years. First on his own channel and then for the sports site SB Nation. While other sports documentaries tend to focus solely on the sports or the players, Bois deemphasizes the importance of these aspects in his stories and emphasizes visualizing the data/statistics of these sports and the different ways these sports can be recorded through graphs, charts, measurements, and other ways forms of calculation.
The Bob Emergency, 2019
The History of the Seattle Mariners, 2020
The Search for the Saddest Punt in the World, 2019
These works function as a kind of a post-human documentary. The filmmaking, the storytelling emphasizes methods of compiling information that go beyond the ability of a single person and maps spaces, bodies, ways of thinking that function more within a virtual, technological realm. The powerful, vastly structured machines we use from day to day. However Bois complicates traditional post-human ideas that decentralize humanism by centering these calculated, machine like films on a subject which relies on the human body. Additionally, Bois’ personal narration to these documentaries focus on the importance of people. His work suggests the need for a post humanist way of thinking that takes into account the way he currently view the world as well as the different virtual spaces we inhabit, while also centering these machines on their ability to help people and still find importance in people within these systems.

 

                                                                How will it be set up?

 

1. My project will be a video essay which mimics the methods of Bois’ filmmaking by trying to present these ideas through the use of machines, specifically my computer.

2. My goal is to record my computer screen and use the different applications, websites, and functions of the computer to visualize the aforementioned ideas I will be narrating in the essay. Think Unfriended, Searching, but way less ambitious in my end goal.

3. My set up is to start by presenting an outline of what I mean by posthuman, then go into Jon Bois’ films and the meanings it has within this category.

4. Donna Haraway’s The Cyborg Manifesto is one of my current reference points but I’m also planning on adding in more references to texts on post humanism.

Questions
1. Does this idea make sense? 2. Do you have any reference ideas I can use for this project?

8 Comments

  1. admin

    I certainly like the idea here. I’ve already mentioned some references about posthumanism previously.

    I do wonder, first, what this project will actually look like–you say a video essay, which is certainly fine, and I get the idea of it being like it’s on a computer, as in Unfriended, etc. But I could also imagine that some visualizations of data might benefit from separate charts or figures or etc. Along these lines, and this is merely a suggestion, I wonder how it might look/work if the video were sort of the hub of the page, with lines/links leading to other charts, images, shorter clips, texts. This might depend on how one imagines it would look like.
    Second, I am slightly concerned about how hard it will be to do some of the data visualizations. The scientific and business-oriented data visualization tools that I’ve seen seemed rather complicated to me. But I suppose there are some easy to use charting, graphing, and animated chart tools (Canva, maybe?). Maybe others have better insights on tools.
    Finally, I’d just suggest that instead of front-loading the whole description/definition of post humanism, consider if, after an initial set-up, it would work to feed snippets about the posthuman into the rest of the presentation/essay, so that they’re more like Easter eggs or bonus footage or such.

  2. M Oginz

    This looks great. I like the idea of making a kind of desktop documentary out of the project, though I noticed that you mentioned narrative examples here. If you haven’t already, you should check out Transformers: The Premake, as another example of what the medium does/is capable of doing. It strikes me that data visualization is important to Kevin B. Lee’s film as well.

  3. Alec Smith

    I’ve always been fascinated by films like these. The ones I enjoy, like Searching, work because something is always happening, its dynamic. I’m not too clear on what your final project will ultimately look like in content, but thinking about your pacing and how much you’re showing on screen will be necessary in keeping engagement and clarity. Max’s example is great because even when Lee is showing a bunch of visuals, like at 1:24, it’s to make a point and it isn’t distracting.

    You also mention data visualization, and I believe Tableau has a free version. I really don’t know much about it, but it could be worth looking into. Excel isn’t technically a data visualization tool, but it’s flexible, and you could play around with its data analysis functions.

  4. Behrang Garakani

    Good start to your project!

    I like Max’s example. I had posted this one earlier in the semester that was along the same lines:
    https://www2.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-sound-magazine/video/tiktok-movie-criticism-charlie-lyne-phone-video-essay

    In terms of data visualization, my go-to reference that has some of the best visuals is Gapminder: https://www.gapminder.org/
    This isn’t to generate your own data visuals, but rather to see how complex data is visualized. (It’s also quite interesting!)
    Here’s a link to the main visualization: https://www.gapminder.org/tools/

    There’s also a Reddit forum for data visualization: https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/

    Once you know what you want your visualization to look like, you can use some of the basic visualizations in Excel and Google Sheets. I like Alec’s recommendation of Tableau, too.

  5. L Arango

    Let me just say that the word “Post-Human” is fully resonant. I don’t have much to add except that I am looking forward to seeing the video essay.

  6. A Robusti

    Hello Ryan!
    I really like your project and it looks really promising!
    As reference it might be worth to have a look at Paul B. Preciado’s Countersexual Manifesto.
    Good luck!

  7. M Salmassi

    With recent viewing of documentary, Diego Maradona (Asif Kapadia, 2019), the subject of sports and humanism / post-humanism just begs for more surface land for goals scored and sustained. My interpretation is that effects of globalization are going to be more and more visible. It makes sense to me to create a digital, virtual medium to explore possibilities.

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