This is the final week of DS106, and for my final project, I told the story of Nestor Makhno, or more precisely, if he had won during the Russian Civil War. I used 3 different types of media to tell the story, being two types of visual, one type of visual/design, and one video project, and weaved it together with some speculative writing. This would have to be my favorite project of the class, as I’ve always been enthralled by alternative history, and being given a chance to explore that was wonderful. I enjoyed this class very much, and was given new perspectives on media, both creating and analyzing it, and I think this will transfer over well into my own personal pursuits. I very much enjoyed the audio portion, as that more closely relates to my passion that does video or graphic design, but I did enjoy the other weeks all the same. I was exposed to more tools to use, more methods of using them, and, bluntly, I learned a lot. If I did take this class over again, I would be more focused on interacting with the other students, and work more on the daily create portions, as well as more tutorials on how I created the media I used.
Nestor Makhno was born a Ukrainian Peasant in 1888 in the Russian Empire. Through his life he held a series of menial jobs, primarily as a farmhand, that was, until the Russian Civil War erupted. He began organizing an army of peasants and workers and combated the Red Army of the Soviet Union, the White Army of Republicans and Monarchists, and various other forces from the central powers and nationalists, in an attempt to secure a region of Ukraine so it could practice Anarchism.
The turning point would be the truce Makhno organized between the Black Army of Anarchists and the USSR’s Red Army. Here, he decided against it, and continued the offense, and with constant attacks by the White Army, the Red forces were dwindling and faces a large lack of morale. Makhno decided to expand out of the Free Territory, and march on Moscow.
Makhno’s offense on Moscow was victorious, and the Red Army surrendered. Lenin and Trotsky signed the surrender document, dissolving the USSR and assimilating the remaining portions of the Red Army that hadn’t already defected with the Black Army. Makhno refused the offers that came to become the dictator of the region, instead opting for being the military commander of the unified forces that defended the leaderless anarchistic regions of the former Russian empire, now known as the Union of Free Soviets.
The international response was one of fear, as both Communists and Anarchists were looked upon with suspicion throughout the western world. Makhno was characterized as a tyrant, a godless oppressor coming to slaughter the citizens of upstanding christian nations. Makhno was able to defend the Union of Free Soviets, from various Republican, Monarchist, and Foreign incursions, and the UFS was forced into hermit like isolation. The former Russia withdrew itself from the Great War, but provided no provisions to the Central Powers, as Makhno’s defense was able to keep them secure.
Across Europe, the Central Powers lost to the Allies, and were forced to sign the Treaty Of Versailles, without gaining any real territory. Makhno ensured the defense of the free territory throughout the great depression and aided the rise of the Bavarian Soviets, who, rather than embracing the Marxism of the USSR, embraced Anarchism, and joined with the Union of Free Soviets. Fascism did emerge in Italy, and was able to take serious power, but their influence never expanded further. As the Spanish Civil War erupted in the 30s, Makhno, now in his 50s, came to the aid of the Anarchist CNT/FAI, sending soldiers and supplies. The Marxist factions of the Republican side were denied aid, and the Anarchist forces were able to crush Franco’s fascist army, and establish themselves as a region of the Union of Free Soviets. Fascist Italy was demoralized by the loss of their allies, and never sought to expand their influences.
As a large part of Europe became part of the Union of Free Soviets, the United States, and a large portion of the British Commonwealth, succumbed to internal revolutions led by the Industrial Workers of the World. A significant portion of the industrialized world was now organized under the Anarchism laid out by Proudhon, Stirner, Kropotkin, and Bakunin, all thanks to the work of Nestor Makhno.
Years went by, and a majority of the world was now practicing Anarchist Communism, and was able to send the first individual into space, making the first expanse into the final frontier. By this time, Makhno would have passed away, but his world-changing influence would always be remembered.
As Makhno’s forces began to spread across Europe, regions with strong socialist influences began to join with the Free Soviets. This map demonstrates the regions under UFS control by the mid-1930s.
After downloading the original map and loading it into GIMP, I took the Fuzzy select took and selected all areas that were originally part of the Russian Empire, Bavaria, and the Anarchist Regions of Spain, and deleted it. Placing a transparent layer under it, I placed the Black Flag of Makhno’s Army under it.
After doing that, all the cleared areas not covered by the flag were filled with Black, and the image was exported as a PNG.
After finding the clips, pictures, and music, I loaded them all into the kedenlive video editor. I began work on cutting the video to find various clips to use. I then added a few ‘title screens’ in between the various clips and images to narrate what was happening. As a 2 minuite video on such as simple thing would have been too much, I cut the audio clip, and added a fade out to the end, to match up with the end of the video.
There’s a meme floating around leftist circles, “Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism”, that is imposed onto any image dealing with space. A simple google search will reveal numerous images with this text, but those on the Anarchist wing of leftist politics, and other leftists who don’t necessarily embrace the authoritarian nature of mainstream Marxism, decided to create their own derivative form, known as “Fully Insurrectionary Luxury Queer Space Anarchism”. I haven’t been able to find the original creator of the image, but the image I began with can be found here.
This poster is the first in a few images, videos, and sounds that I will be using to tell my story. The story will be the story of Ukrainian Anarchist icon Nestor Makhno, the leader of the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, or better, the story of what happened if his army had won. The RIAU (or Black Army) defended a region of modern Ukraine that practiced Anarchism (of all kinds, Communism, Collectivism, and Individualism) from both the White Army of the Monarchists, Republicans, and their allies, and the Red Army of the Bolsheviks. All was good for a few years, until the Red Army engaged in a truce with Makhno’s forces, and ended up backstabbing them. The ‘what if’ story of Makhno and his alternative history impact will be expanded in future posts, but this poster for the (anarchist) moon landing is the first project.
The first thing I did, was load the image into GIMP.
I then made a few edits, adjusting the flag on the shoulder to the Black Army’s flag, and editing away some of the Cosmonaut’s ‘gear’. I also began working on removing the letters of the message, all done with sampling the colors of the image and painting over it, and using the fuzzy select tool to select regions of the image with the same color.
After the work was done, and regions were painted over, I cut out the circle from the background, and began editing the remaining white space with paint and circle selecting tools.
Once that was done, I filled the transparent background with the Amethyst Fill, wrote the text you see above, and added a few white background drop shadows. I rendered the image as a PNG, and now you have what you see. I thought of the text as a modification of what was said during the actual moon landing. “One Small Step For The Free Territory” refers to the moon landing just being another step in freedom and liberty for all peoples, and the “One Giant Leap For the Workers of All Worlds” modifies the “Workers of the world unite!”. There is a type of leftist thought called Posadism that calls for alien contact and spreading the socialist revolution across the universe, and that phrase is a nod to that, saying that by finally leaving Earth, the universal revolution can commence.
This week was probably the most challenging for me, as I do not have much prior experience working with videos or film. The workload was lighter, but what work there was was overall more intense than audio or graphics creation. For the daily creates I used GIMP to combine images, and for the films I used kdenlive (as it runs on GNU/Linux), two programs I have previously used, although I feel as if I need more experience with kdenlive. I did miss one daily create though, but I personally did better on the commenting (both commenting on other blogs, and interacting on my own), as displayed below. It seems as if the feedback on my own work is positive, and I really do enjoy that. Below are the daily creates, assignments, and comments.
The scene opens up to two men walking, and the camera follows them. When they stop to converse, the camera begins to switch from person to person, back and forth. It switches between this, and getting shots of both men. As the scene progresses, the camera mainly shits to gauge the reactions of the younger looking man to the dialogue. Examining the audio, there is only dialogue. The conversation takes place in a parking garage, so there is a strong echo. The two men begin talking in anger very rapidly over one another, and it calms, and resumes, calms and resumes, in a very tidal pattern. Eberts analysis seems to fit this scene, as the more angry man stays to the left (negative), while the man who is more defensive stays to the right (positive). The setting of the scene also reminds us of Watergate, as the private and covert discussion takes place in a parking garage, something of a cultural unconscious memory. Earlier in the scene though, the younger looking man (the blonde one) is on the left (negative) as he is explaining his worry, and the older-seeming man, who acts as if he has a solution remains on the right (positive).
Creators of film use their unconscious to create scenes. There is no written guide to follow, but rather the individual’s aesthetic desires shape what is created. The same can be said of paintings or music. It’s mostly cultural influences that shape the unconscious mind. By stopping the film, we can catch a glimpse into these unconscious decisions and examine what shaped the filmmaker. Eberts analysis of the left (negative) and right (positive) of movie screens parallels that of Yin and Yang in Taoist thought, of two parallel sides that exist in tandem. They cannot exist without one another, but placing characters on either side can influence our unconscious into characterizing the individual as ‘good’ or ‘evil’, or can simply be used to reflect the feelings that the character has in the scene. This too, is a result of unconscious cultural decisions, how we examine the ‘left’ vs ‘right’ or at what angle the camera is tilted, or the coloring of the scene. Eberts analysis works, but only for films that exist within his same cultural sphere (western), as other cultures would have completely different views on the matter.
Kubrick commonly uses one aspect of filmmaking, that being the one point perspective. It allows the viewer to be drawn to a single point in the film, where something ought to happen. Everything in the periphery is simply that, in the background, shaping what is to come. In contrast, Tarantino uses a ‘from below’ viewpoint, which makes you feel as part of the movie. You are the person that the terrible thing happened to, you become part of the film, you feel what they are feeling. It makes you feel insignificant, a single part of the overwhelming whole.
After a show, and after some people had a little too much to drink, my band did an interview with a local music promotion group (Cult XLV on Facebook, check ’em out). The wipe-out was probably the best possible instant replay I could think of, so I replayed it sped up, then slowed it down. I used kdenlive, as it runs on GNU/Linux to splice the clips together, and added some of my band’s music as the background (synced up to the best of my ability). There’s some clip features and transitions you can use, and i just used the speed transition to speed up the clip and slow it down.