The Untamed – Multiscreen

Where to start with this? The Multiscreen exercise asks you to use multiscreen techniques to put your source in conversation with other sources, specifically the sources used by others in the video camp or class cohort. Now, I didn’t have a cohort exactly, doing these as I am on my own from the porch of my house in Vermont. I’m in the right town, wrong time. So I thought: who is my cohort? And I immediately thought of at least one: Lori Morimoto, who did these exercises herself back in 2015 and posted about them here.

But rather than work with her exercises specifically, I had sudden inspiration, and I knew exactly what I had to use: her video essay, entitled hannibal: a fanvid, that I had been one of the open reviewers on for In Transition. hannibal: a fanvid considers affect in the televisuality of Hannibal itself, as the title suggests arguing that the source itself has fanvid-like capacity, but at the same time Morimoto’s video essay argues through its form for a consideration of what videographic criticism and vidding might share, as aesthetic forms. So, Morimoto’s piece is very closely related to everything I’ve been thinking about here. BUT on top of both of those (and perhaps related to the first) both series have key climactic scenes in which one or both main characters fall from cliffs, with cinematography that lovingly dwells on their faces and bodies while also taking in the sweeping mountainous landscape. So clearly these were the scenes to juxtapose—or rather, Morimoto’s vid zeros in on that climactic scene in Hannibal, and so I zeroed in on its counterpart in The Untamed, and let the parallels and disjunctures emerge from there. I was so excited about this parallel that I forgot that the exercise asked that I used some moments of full screen as well, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to interrupt the visual parallels to do so. I realize though that the constant divergent double images might lose some viewers, especially those not familiar with both or either text.

Multiscreen is actually a technique I especially want to dig into in this project. It’s a technique used frequently in videographic criticism and video essays to show parallels and map visual or thematic relationships, but it is rarely used in vidding. I can think of very few exceptions, but I would be remiss not to point to Sisabet’s stunning Twin Peaks: The Return vid, Digital Witness. This vid is a masterpiece, and I’m constantly fascinated upon each rewatch with how the different images speak to one another and guide your eye from one to the next. But I’m curious as to why fan video in its many forms has for the most part resisted multiscreen, and what multiscreen vidding could look like.

Re: the quotes—I made an epigraph out of this as well, or a dual epigraph, and I don’t know how successful that is, but these are exercises, and I’m also using them to work through my thoughts about this project. I opened with the quote from “An Inventory of Shimmers” about variations and journeys of affect and bodies and touch because I wanted to plant a seed about how the images from both series depict the emotional, intimate physicality of two main characters in a moment of epic crisis, bodies mapped on landscapes, and further about how we as viewers in diverse contexts respond to these visuals both in the source and in their repetition (and those images are much repeated, as you might imagine!) in fan video.1 I closed with Bertha Chin and Lori Morimoto’s quote from “Towards a Theory of Transcultural Fandom” about the various investments that could drive transcultural engagement; I was stuck by the parallels between these stylistically visualized elements of intimate physicality, emotion writ large (pain & love) shared across these two texts, one a US television series based on a series of American suspense novels, and the other a Chinese web series based on a Chinese Danmei (Boys Love) Xianxia web novel. What identifications might both of these sets of affective images evoke in viewers coming from a range of national and cultural locations?2 Despite their national and genre differences, both Hannibal and The Untamed have active fandoms, and this multiscreen juxtaposition might start to get at some of the reason why.

Finally, the music, Veronica Zanchi’s beautiful cover of “Love Crime”: I wanted to pay homage to Morimoto’s video essay and to Hannibal itself (and the notion that this song by Siouxsie was created for Hannibal itself), but I also wanted to deviate, to offer a different tone. I discovered this cover by Veronica Zanchi and fell in love with it immediately. There’s something about this cover—how it’s ethereal yet throaty, soaring yet intimate: I felt it created the perfect audioscape for this piece, and I loved that again it was one re-creator beyond the source, so that the whole piece is composed of adaptive ripples of The Untamed, Mo Dao Zu Shi, Hannibal, “Love Crime,” and Lori Morimoto’s video essay work.

(I loved the song so much BTW that I couldn’t resist also making a vid to the whole song, since I only used half the cover here. You can find the vid here.)

  1. Seigworth, Gregory & Melissa Gregg. “An Inventory of Shimmers.” The Affect Theory Reader. Ed. Gregory Seigworth and Melissa Gregg. Durham: Duke UP, 2010. 1-28.
  2. Chin, Bertha and Lori Morimoto, “Towards a Theory of Transcultural Fandom,” Participations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies, 10(1): 92-108 (2013).

The Untamed – Epigraph

My epigraph quote is from Petra Rehling’s essay, “Harry Potter, wuxia and the transcultural flow of fantasy texts in Taiwan,” which looks at the transcultural reception of Western fantasy novels in Taiwan. This essay considers how the Wuxia traditions of traditional Chinese fantasy map on to the fantasy traditions in Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings. I was drawn to use this quote and this essay for a couple of reasons:

1) In a way, the essay offers the flip side of what I’m looking at in the reception of Xianxia fantasy (a modern offshoot of Wuxia) in English language fandoms, thus suggesting a larger uneven transcultural circuit of myth and fantasy.

2) The epigraph quote offers an alternative to Hiroki Azuma’s contention in Otaku: Database Animals that contemporary fan culture (specifically, Japanese otaku culture specifically, in the early 2000s) represents an abandoning of the “grand narrative,” in favor of a “animalistic database.” While I find much compelling in Azuma’s larger imagining of the database, I’ve been thinking about how fans create and reiterate new myths through and within the database, how fannish database(s) seem to me the space for fostering the birth and growth of new myths. This is likely part of why I’m drawn to these sweeping, epic narratives like The Untamed and Guardian, and the many mythic fan works that they as a result inspire, and also why this quote from Rehling’s essay resonated.

Finally, my music choice:

I’ve loved Rachmaninoff’s second concerto since I was very young. It was one of my first pure musical experiences and loves, at least that I can remember. Its sweeping mix of religiosity, romanticism, and moments of quiet intimacy seem the perfect match to The Untamed and the perfect sonic landscape to explore the creation of new yet quickly beloved romantic myths through popular culture.

Actually, after I’d only seen a couple of episodes of The Untamed, I had already decided that I wanted to vid all fifty episodes to the full concerto in a sort of vid-recap, which I still hope to do as part of this project. So this was my first test drive, to see how the piece works with the visuals and with the series’ thematic preoccupations and emotional tone. What do you think, should I go for the whole long-form vid?