Mark S. Weiner

Archive for the ‘Aesthetics’ Category

Narrative, Deconstruction, and Counter-terrorism

In Aesthetics, Aesthetics, narrative, form, Guest Posts, Islam, Law and literature, narrative on February 17, 2017 at 8:52 am

My colleagues at the strategy, national security, and military affairs journal The Bridge published my review today of some recent works by Ajit Maan, who brings a background in post-structuralist literary theory to her work in counter-terrorism. The post includes an extended close analysis of a recent ISIS video to highlight the care Daesh takes in producing and editing its propaganda (warning: the video is very graphic). Maan’s work points the way toward how high-level literary theory can help guide the use of “soft power” on behalf of democratic, post-colonial, and multi-cultural ideals—a fascinating and important blend of the philosophical and the practical.

 

Woof! Moo! Grr!

In Aesthetics, Animals on February 1, 2017 at 8:22 am

Because what the world needs now is more talking animals—and a good laugh—I’ve created an exhibit about images of animals in legal literature for the Rare Book Room at Yale Law Library.

moo-grr-brochure2send

The exhibit includes books from around the world—including Argentina, Russia, the Netherlands, England, and the United States—more than half of them printed before the nineteenth century and the earliest published in 1529. One section of the exhibit focuses entirely on books with images of dogs. Other sections include “Gentle Creatures,” “Predators,” “Swimmers,” and “Beastie.”

From the introductory text: Read the rest of this entry »

What’s in My Bag: A Theory Guy Creates a Kit for the GH4

In Aesthetics, Video on April 3, 2016 at 12:46 pm

This post isn’t about law, but rather about my work in documentary video—it’s a post for gear heads, especially users of the Panasonic Lumix GH4.

I’m beginning to prepare to shoot a film that will accompany the rare book exhibition Mike Widener and I are putting together for the Grolier Club in New York. I’ve got a lot of nifty things planned for the film, and it looks possible that it will receive outside financial support, so I’m really excited about it. And because I’ve benefited so much from online discussions about gear—posts of the “what’s in my camera bag” type—this seemed like a symbolically appropriately time to share the conclusions to which I’ve come in assembling my own kit. A bit of paying it forward. I hope some people out there will find it helpful to see what a prosumer-level filmmaker has assembled all in one place and how I work with what I have. Narrative storytelling, analysis, and high theory may have come naturally to me; learning about gear has taken a bit longer.

I should say from the start that I don’t have a lot of money to spend. I’ve been able to assemble these items over the past three years by not going out to eat; grinding our own flour, baking our own bread, and making our own yogurt; keeping the heat in our New England home at 58 degrees; teaching a few pinch-hit, four-day intensive courses in constitutional law; and by selling of bunch of my old books from graduate school. Some of the gear also was a gift from family and friends. Because I don’t have a lot of money to throw around, I’ve thought a very great deal before putting down my cash, justifying each purchase carefully. And looking at it all now, I’m gob smacked at how it’s grown into a very respectable box of tools, despite the fact that I don’t have a proper paying job.

Has the sacrifice been worth it? Without question. For me, the chance to explore the great artistic medium of our time has been beyond price. I learn something new and subtle about the world every day I look through the viewfinder or fire up Adobe Premiere Pro.

A word about how and what I film. I’m self-taught, solo, and DIY. I produce, write, film, and edit entirely on my own. I don’t have a crew, even a minimal one, though occasionally my wife holds a circular reflector disc—which is really helpful! Most of the people I interview are scholars and librarians. This means that I need to keep my kit light, so that I can move around quickly and carry it all myself (I typically have less than a minute to set up a shot), and I need to keep it small, so that when I’m pointing the camera it won’t be intimidating to people who are naturally shy.

A final note. A lot of what I’ve purchased has been inspired by the advice of the great site Suggestion of Motion. Of all the forums and blogs I’ve read, it’s been the most helpful for my purposes. Readers may also recognize recommendations that come from other websites, but I’m afraid I’m no longer able to find the original source of my inspiration. Read the rest of this entry »

A River Runs Through It

In Aesthetics, Aesthetics, narrative, form, Austria, Guest Posts, Video on March 1, 2016 at 8:13 pm

I have a guest post today on Environment, Law, and History discussing my latest video. Thanks to editor David Schorr for giving me the chance to contribute again to his blog. David directs the Berg Institute for Law and History and the Law and Environment Program at the Buchmann Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University.

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Water, Water, Everywhere, and Every Drop to Drink

In Aesthetics, Aesthetics, narrative, form, Austria, Books and libraries, Constitutional law, Economic regulation, Environment, Europe, Law and film, Law and music, Legal Philosophy, Video on February 27, 2016 at 11:41 am

I’m pleased to share the latest video from my developing film about law and landscape in Austria. This segment is called “Florian & Friends Talk about Purity”:

Small Blank Space

The video is about water, water law, Austrian identity, legal philosophy, concepts of the state, ideas of the public, approaches to time and tradition, metaphor, and some great old books. Plus, there’s a cameo appearance by a sweet Alpine cow.

Music and Mountain Rescue

In Aesthetics, Aesthetics, narrative, form, Cross-cultural encounters & comparisons, Environment, Europe, Law and film, Video on December 15, 2015 at 3:32 pm

When my wife and I were living in Salzburg last semester, I had the chance to talk with a local archivist with a surprising combination of skills. We had a wide-ranging conversation about music, mountains, law, and what it means to be Austrian. Our discussion will be part of my video-in-progress—”Wood, Water, Stone, Sky, Milk”—but for now I’ve created a preview. You can watch it below, or if the video doesn’t appear automatically in your browser or email, just click here.

 

Edward Coke, Meet Humphrey Bogart

In Aesthetics, Books and libraries, form, Law and film, Law and music, narrative on November 16, 2014 at 10:17 pm

My latest video is about rare books, jazz, the passage of time, and old movies … and the law reports of the great jurist Edward Coke:

For a 1080p version for the most current systems, click here. For multiple formats on my YouTube channel, here (select the settings tab on the lower-right corner of the frame—that’s the wheel icon, the third icon from the right).

Save the Date: September 2017

In Aesthetics, Books and libraries on September 15, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Book

OK, so it’s a long way off, but I hope you’ll mark your calendars for three years hence. That’s when an exhibition I’ll be co-curating with Mike Widener of the Yale Law Library is set to open at the Grollier Club in Manhattan. The club is “America’s oldest and largest society for bibliophiles and enthusiasts of the graphic arts.” Mike and I recently heard the good news that our proposal was accepted.

The exhibit is called “Law’s Picture Books: The Yale Law Library Collection.” Yes, it’s true: “law books” and “illustrations” are two things you don’t typically associate with each other. After all, law presents itself as based in the Word—as logocentric. And let’s face it: many law books are a visual snooze. Yet law’s application to the actual world of people and things generates a tandem, if often ignored, figurative impulse in legal books.

The exhibit will invite visitors to explore the incredible range of responses to this central tension at the heart of law as a social phenomenon—namely that law mediates between abstract rules and the material world, between ideals and the everyday—and it will do so by bringing together a fantastic array of beautifully illustrated books Mike has been collecting since 2006 as the law school’s rare book librarian.

See you there!

April 21, 2016: the date of the exhibition has been moved forward to September 2017. The headline of this post has been changed to reflect the new timetable.

Blues Break

In Aesthetics, Conversations, Video on September 14, 2014 at 6:45 pm

It’s true, this video has nothing at all to do with law, except that it was made by a legal historian. Still, I had a great time the other week helping spin blues and R&B records with my friend Al Bell at the WPKN studios in Bridgeport, Connecticut … and I brought along my camera … so I thought I’d post this for a fun break on a Saturday night.

 

A publisher, a library, a cemetery, a party

In Aesthetics, Aesthetics, narrative, form, Books and libraries, form, Gender, Law and film, Law and literature, Method, narrative, Video on September 13, 2014 at 8:38 am

In part three of “Walking with Horatio Alger,” I take a train ride to Philadelphia’s Chinatown, spend an afternoon in a lonely academic library, drive to a Massachusetts cemetery while listening to Fats Waller, and relax at a party with a bunch of fun-loving kids. How can video help bring a 1909 edition of Ragged Dick back into some of its original spatial and temporal relationships?

Here’s the complete video:

Small Blank Space

Here are links to individual sections: part one; part two; and—the latest—part three.