Transsexuals feel their assigned sex at birth is wrong and their correct sex is one that matches their internal feelings. The media and society have a strange stereotyped image of what a transsexual person is which doesn’t reflect their reality. They are people like everybody else, all trying to find their place in the world. ‘Becoming Me’ tells the story of Kate, a female on her journey to find happiness. Gender and sexuality are topics, which have been explored artistically by numerous practitioners, my piece offers a unique perspective and offers a voice on a minority, which is rarely heard. It may encourage other older individuals in Britain to tell their story and challenge the image society has of trans people.
After being inspired by Sara Davidmann’s processes of creating her work on ‘trans’ I wanted to ensure I portrayed my subject in a positive light. Before making the video I asked my subject what I could and could not include. Kate made it clear that she wanted her identity to remain ambiguous. She did not want to be referred to or perceived as transsexual, just as female. As a result of this, I used different names for the characters involved in the story and only showed images of her as a young boy and through close ups of her today.
Visually I combined elements of each video I’ve made for Phonar into my final piece, which I think has worked successfully. I wanted to follow the general rules of story telling by creating a beginning, middle and end. Therefore, I began the video at Kate’s childhood, illustrated through text, family photographs, audio and found footage, which echoes elements seen in ‘Tarnation’. I used text to make the story clear for the audience to follow. I then created a moment of tension, through a strange montage consisting of gender challenging clips, emphasizing the conflict Kate felt as a boy, a central point in the video, which everything radiates from.
The end sequence is reflected through a split screen. One side we see Kate doing her make-up and the other shows aspects of her life, which make her happy. I mixed up what possesses each side, so it wasn’t rigid and it allowed me to show what makes Kate, Kate. I wanted to show Kate doing her make-up because it’s a part of nearly every females’ routine and suggests how everyone puts on a mask or takes control of how they want to be perceived on some level. I included audio to put a voice to the character being depicted, allowing her to tell her story using her own words and tone, further enhancing who she is. The music track I used was a cover created by my friend Katie Turnbull of ‘Tarnation’ by Max Avery Lichtenstein.
Overall, I wanted this video to be a taster of an individual and their story, which I feel I have achieved. I wanted to portray my subject in a way they were happy to be seen which I achieved through collaboration. Using mixed media: family photographs, found footage, video, audio, sound effects and text have I feel enhanced the story and made it intriguing for the viewer. Collaboration, creative commons and remixing have proved to be key elements within my project and ones I have learnt a great deal from.
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The use of text and choices of words took away from the piece as opposed to adding to the overall narrative. Maybe the piece doesn’t require words at al, which is something I could try in a re-edit.
The beginning of the piece set the tone and introduced the characters effectively. The audience recognized that this was a happy and ‘normal’ upbringing. However, the sequence was slightly long and left the audience dwelling. It didn’t reflect the actual story.
The middle part of the video was confusing and jarring for some members of the audience. They felt it reflected the character in a negative way, as ‘psychotic’ or something out of ‘Silence of the Lambs’. In reality I wanted this part of the video to reflect the characters inner feelings of conflict and turmoil. To make it shocked that this boy who became a man dealt with for nearly 50 years. Other members of the audience felt I achieved this and thought it reflected how the character felt inside.
This feedback has proved most helpful, reminding me that I must consider how the piece will be read. Everyone is different which means the piece could be read in a range of different ways. I have to re-think how I can make the characters wants and story clear. To ensure the story of the character portrayed is honest and genuine.
The ending, which included things from common culture and film clips was confusing and distracting from the audio for some members of the audience. They felt the clips didn’t reflect the story being told effectively. I wanted to show the characters interests but this was read differently. However, some people got that these were the things, which reflect the characters interests and personality. Some members of the audience wanted to see more images and footage of the character to gage a clearer image in their mind of the person whose story is being told.
I agree with this. Upon editing my piece I felt I hadn’t enough footage of my subject and is something I can go back and do again. I want to be sure I continue in documenting my subject. I need to collaborate and communicate with them to ensure they’re happy with the footage being produced. This would enable me to create a piece, which really shows my character in a way they want to be perceived.
Overall, the feedback has made me realize how different people and audiences will read the works I produce differently. As a result of this I will share my video with different audiences and people and ask them how they saw the video and how they felt. This will also help inform my editing and visual choices to ensure the story is told effectively and truthfully.
Links to all Phonar Tasks
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