My search for an “interesting” website took me to unexpected and uncharted places, yet funnily enough, it was the page for the Milwaukee Ballet that ultimately caught my attention. I say “funnily enough” since I haven’t been to a ballet in years, but this site does a good job at capturing the “prestige” that the company is clearly going for.
The most notable thing about the website is its use of video for its main menu. The page immediately comes to life as soon as you enter it, with the dancers magically and gracefully moving across the screen as you make your selection. The prominent font in front of them again adds to the “majesty” the site is going for. This ballet company is very, very important, apparently, and they want for you to know that!
That level of “elegance” continues as you scroll across the company’s upcoming performances. Everything seems regal and dignified, giving each production a certain level of “class.” The nice photography gives each show a level of sophistication.
Even when we click on the main menu, the website practically seems to explode off the screen with grace and beauty. Notice the color contrasts here! The site is using “white” overwhelming to give everything a clean, almost royal look, and the red curtain behind the dancers emphasizes their importance. If you are planning on going to one of their shows, their website will certainly make you want to see one.
This is Dora the Explorer. Technically, she has naturally brown eyes, but we are monsters, so we are going to tell her she shouldn’t have them. Dora is now very sad and wants gray eyes. But how can we give them to her?
Let’s move our cursor over to the icon that looks like an eye. Let’s just say we’re all new to Photoshop, okay? We’ll call this the “eye button.” Everyone cool? Good. Because we have to hurry. Dora is getting very upset.
Holy crap, that button actually normally looks like a bandage. Scratch the last section of instructions. Click on that bandage, then click on the eye. Let’s just say that this is our first time trying to use a Mac, okay? Windows is so much more simpler, dammit! Anyway, let’s get back to “fixing” Dora’s eyes because she’s crying now.
Wow, we’ve already begun ruining her. What we just did was hold down the mouse button to wrap a square around her eye. When we released the button, BOOM! Her eye is now gray. Dora now looks like a cyborg. We won’t tell Dora that, though, because she thinks she looks amazing. Let’s “fix” her other eye.
And we’ve done it. By repeating the process on her other eye, we’ve now made Dora into a freak. We’ve told her that she looks ugly, and that we were just messing with her when we told her she had “red eye,” and now her eyes look like they came from an old black and white movie or something. Dora is now freaking her shit out, but we won’t tell her it can be undone easily by clicking “step backward.” However, we’re not done f*cking around with Dora yet. Let’s see what else we can do to her!
What we have just done is we have used the tool, but on her entire body. Now the software is “finding red eyes,” because technically that’s all it’s meant to be used for, but we really don’t like Dora very much, and this is too much fun. Let’s see what happens when it’s done!
There. Look at that f*cking monstrosity. We have turned Dora into some kind of a…well, I’m not even sure what to call her. She looks like she’s slowly turning into stone, or maybe she is covered in grime because we told her there was buried treasure in a rock pit or something. Anyway, that’s the “red eye” tool! Use it for whatever evil purpose you want to. Or don’t. Dacey might end up expelled from the class for this post anyway (just kidding, right? Right?).
The video documentary A Brief History of John Baledessari was effective because it was lively, witty, and fast-paced. One of the ways in which it accomplished this was through its use of music. Having The William Tell Overture playing at the beginning is smart for a number of reasons. For one thing, it’s fast. This immediately gives the video a sense of energy. For another, it goes with the more playful tone that the documentary is going for. The William Tell Overture has a certain vaguely pompous quality about it that has almost made it the victim of parody, perhaps in part because of its association with The Lone Ranger. In spite of that, or perhaps because of it, there’s also a certain degree of majesty about the piece. This makes the subject of the documentary seem important and interesting, but with a musical wink to the audience.
The music also allows for the editing and narration of the video to be very fast. The frequent cuts almost intersect directly with the beats of the music in near perfect synchronization with each other. The narration of Tom Waits–which is extremely fast–does its best to keep up, almost as if he is singing along with the music. The accelerated editing not only gives the documentary a jolt of energy, but also keeps the viewer very “awake” while watching it. It’s almost as if the music and the editing are working together like a shot of strong coffee, hitting the audience full force and keeping them alert and entertained. More importantly, perhaps, is that it makes the subject of the documentary not only seem fascinating, but also like a fun guy who doesn’t take himself overly seriously despite all of the awards we are informed that he’s won. He’s willing to make fun of himself. And so is the documentary.