Celebrities in animal activism- helpful or harmful?

Celebrities in animal activism- helpful or harmful? from Remy Taylor on Vimeo.

Animal rights organisations use celebrity influence to promote their message. This video takes a look at two campaigns by PETA to understand the authenticity of the celebrity’s message. In order to further understand this I’ve asked whether celebrities are helpful or harmful to the message of animal activism,  how the two celebrities were featured in the campaign material and if this was a distraction from the message and whether or not unrelated personal information about these celebrities was a key factor in influencing the intended message.


Figurine fear

MEDA101 MOVING IMAGE PIECE from Remy Taylor on Vimeo.

Do you know where you are ? OR who to trust ?

This piece is an exploration of the elements of sound that can contribute to space, more specifically a space as a place of fear. Michael de Certeau argues that ‘A space exists when one takes into consideration vectors of direction, velocites, and time variables.’ He says that ‘space is a practiced place’ I wanted to work with this as my main idea in this project.

An example of a photographer that helped develop my ideas is Rosemary Liang, especially in her work ‘Bulletproof Glass’. Her linking of nature and human emotion allowed me to experiment with a similar form of media.

Before I began this project I attempted to visualize the space which I was trying to portray. After selecting Grace’s sound piece the words jungle, fear and lost stuck in my head. Especially with the repetitive question ‘do you know where we are?’.

I began to strongly focus on drawing on an emotion to reflect the feeling of the story. This was then followed by asking myself whether there was a style that linked with this emotion, whether I would need to use gamma correction to change the colour palette and lastly where and how I was going to take these still shots.

Using video as a medium allowed me to explore the simultaneous movements involved in the transitions of the set of photos. The departure of the video is both audio and visual as I believe it was the most effective method to achieve the emotion ‘fear’.



The temporal space between nature and time

Listening to Noelle’s sound piece , I had an instant attraction to continue listening. I realised that I was withdrawing from the business of my day and listening to nature (one of my most favourite past times) however, different from usual, I was listening to nature’s words.

Here are the words I wrote down whilst listening to the piece:

Busy life cut out by nature


Living in the present



Reaching deep tranquillity

Withdrawing from a busy lifestyle

Nature’s talking | Nature as a person | The spatial perception of nature

This led me to think about why this piece was alluring me so strongly. It is due to the fact as humans, in a small amount of time we are able to focus on a soundscape of one area and with that read a spatial perception of its natural surroundings.

When I first arrived at area 60, the dull overcast day had me believe there wasn’t much for me to see. However due to pure luck, two beautiful macaw parrots were being trained by the beach and their colours painted my photos rainbow.

Beyond the fact I’m fascinated by macaws, I realised my photos conveyed a strong presence of temporality in nature. The relationship humans have with the beauty of nature is subject to time and space. Time showing how temporal nature’s beauty can be, beautiful and present then suddenly gone and space being the measurement of its limitless existence.



I’m an ethical vegan and an animal rights activist, so my stance on the narrative in documentaries such as Blackfish, Earthlings, Cowspiracy and The Cove will contain bias. Throughout this blog, I’m going to attempt to detach from the ideologies that consume my everyday life and look beyond the message of animal activist documentaries to focus on how the narrative structure influences humans as a whole.

Animals have long since dominated our lives: in our homes, throughout social media and especially on screen. Raising awareness about their abuses in a documentary can be confronting for most people. In relation to the narrative and structure of animal activism documentaries, how does the media influence our ethical opinions towards animal abuse and our stance in the animal rights movement and what is the best possible approach to this? 

We’ve all talked to our animals like humans at some point in our lives. In fact, I’ve done it to the point where my cat thinks she IS human. So is our relationship with animals at home the same or similar to that of a documentary when the narrative structure defines ‘nonhuman animals as morally relevant victims, animal rights activists as heroes, and animal exploiters as villains? (Freeman and Tulloch, 2013) This specific technique used in animal activism documentaries is called anthropomorphising animals. It is when animals are made to appear to have human attributes, which characterises them. For example, Tilikum the orca in ‘Blackfish’ and Tyke the elephant in ‘Tyke Elephant Outlaw’. Perhaps the reason documentaries present animals as humans is because the only way we can mentally picture their suffering is if we picture them as ourselves. Freeman (2010) agrees, arguing ‘the paradox for animal rights is that it needs to emphasise similarities between human and nonhuman animals in order to deconstruct the dualistic thinking that separates and privileges humans, yet one must also respect diversity found across the species spectrum.’


“In 1994, an elephant named Tyke gave her last circus performance. By the time the dust settled, a trainer was dead, 13 people were injured, and Tyke herself had been shot almost 100 times and killed.”

It sounds selfish of the human species to pity an animal only because it has been portrayed as a human. Therefore, if the activists are already willing to watch the documentary, how do documentary makers target the other percentage of the human population? , Scudder et al. (2010) examined the impact of a graphic animal rights campaign launched by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) against alleged abuses on a corporate farm. The results found that there wasn’t necessarily an impact on pre-existing values of the food-processing industry but more of an act of respect and ‘credibility’ for PETA. This means the media influences our ethical opinions through the credibility of the existing organisation. Credibility can come from a wide range of areas: posters, advertisements, short videos, protests, documentaries and celebrity support.


PHOTO: An example of the ads appearing on the back of some Coffs Harbour buses

Keeping this in mind, we must look at this from the perspective of the activists making the documentaries. Freeman and Tulloch (2013) narrow the media’s intentions down to three points:

1) thrusting clandestine spaces of animal cruelty onto the public screen and exerting a reverse panopticon pressure on industries;

2) challenging the human/animal dualism, the violent hierarchy it justifies, and the (imagined) humane self-image of society; and

3) serving as a critical rhetoric that constructs dissonance-producing antagonisms, (dis)identification, and legitimacy of the movement.


Beyond the activist’s campaign goals there needs to be a larger motive in terms of the world viewing animals as ourselves. Narrowing it down to a specific species is chipping away at the colossal glacier of animal rights, but not fast enough.

“Right now I’m focusing on that one little body of water, where that slaughter takes place. If we can’t stop that, if we can’t fix that, forget about the bigger issues. There’s no hope.”

-Ric O’Barry, The Cove


Packwood Freeman, C (2010). “Embracing Humanimality: Deconstructing the Human/Animal Dichotomy.” Greg Goodale and Jason Edward Black, Eds. Arguments about Animal Ethics. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, [online] Available at: http://works.bepress.com/carrie_freeman/2/

Packwood Freeman, C. and Tulloch, S. (2013). Was Blind but Now I See: Animal Liberation Documentaries’ Deconstruction of Barriers to Witnessing Injustice. OxfordScreening Nature: Cinema Beyond the Human. [online] Available at: http://works.bepress.com/carrie_freeman/13/.

Scudder, J. and Mills, C. (2009). The credibility of shock advocacy: Animal rights attack messages. Public Relations Review, 35(2), pp.162-164.



A Skater’s persistence- Meda101

It’s amazing how understanding the art of noise, music and voice will completely heighten your auditory awareness. This sound piece is a model of inner perseverance. More specifically, the perseverance of a skater attempting to complete a trick. The lengthened, bass-like sounds used to achieve the idea of internal thinking were greatly influenced by sound artist Gail Priest, especially in her work ‘Spider Dances’. Her work captures ambience and turns it into a metrically, spooky music-type sounds but continues to overlay sounds like birds to add a realistic effect. In order to present the concept of overthinking and create suspense, I used her technique with repetition of slow and low sounds with only slight alterations such as volume or pitch. Alongside this, I was inspired by the works of Pierre Henry in the way he incorporates loud or unique sounds without anticipation. Overall, throughout this piece I have married the techniques of the twenty first century works of Priest and the post World War II era of Schaeffer to create unpredictable sound art.



The f word in followers

In today’s digital era the word ‘followers’ is a universal term used on a wide range of platforms. In real life, a follower is a person who imitates, copies, or takes as a model or ideal, however on social media Webopedia defines a follower as ‘someone who subscribes to receives your updates.’ In this post, I’ll talk about what it means to have followers, online AND offline. Can our society function without status? To begin, think about the platform you use most regularly and ask yourself whether or not you can imagine it without followers. I’m analyzing the importance of followers on Instagram, especially in regard to using status as a tool for social media marketing. I found that the digital era, along with its continual growth of social media platforms has encouraged an addiction to social approval and image distortion. So how important are followers in today’s society?


To put into perspective how valued followers can be on social media here is an equation:

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 8.18.37 PM.pngImage source: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/instagram-cool-ratio-2014-6

I want to further build on this concept by looking at Instagram as a status symbol. Alice E. Marwick, an academic observer of American online culture argues the fluidity of status, in that a person can have it in one area and lose it in another just as easily. She says with Twitter for example that ‘not only does follower number literally measure popularity, it also implies a level of influence, viability and attention (Marwick 2013, pg 96).’ She’s right you know; as shown above, ratio plays a big part in society’s value of followers. Sadly, enough, if you’d like to witness this pitiful notion there’s an article by  The Business Insider from last year talking about the ‘cool ratio’ equation. This equation may have similar results in real life. For example, in 2001 Anderson et al (2001) of the American Psychology Association found that ‘one of the most important goals and outcomes of social life is to attain status in the groups to which we belong.’ We see this just by looking at our own social hierarchies that formed in high school. The ‘popular’ group was popular regardless of their online status. So does this mean the line is drawn between social status in real life and social status online?

Focusing back on Instagram, last year social media users got this notification…


It was Instagram cleaning up the spam accounts in a form of ‘spam purge’ and essentially taking away what looked like thousands of real followers from ‘popular’ accounts.
So what happens when we come across a popular Instagramer with a damn right ‘cool ratio’ number? Essentially, following almost no one but having thousands of followers. I’m cringing just addressing this concept but we have a perceived legitimacy based on the numbers. Sometimes we will think ‘how can YOU have these followers?’ But do we take into account the hashtagging, regularity of posts, other linked platforms, paid posts, collaborations OR worst of all ‘BOTNETTING’ (buying followers). As a regular Instagram user I’d like to think we do, but looking at the broader and even worse spectrum it’s hard to believe. Tindenberg and Gomez Cruz (2015) of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre state ‘images play an important role in how we experience being in the world and increasingly, due to the ubiquity of online interaction how we ‘shape’ our world’. This one sentence along with the thought of the contemporary quantified self can be a scary thought.

Overall, status applies to both the online and offline world. It is extremely valuable in today’s society. Having followers means you have status. There may not always be a connection between the status of an individual online vs the status they have offline. However, people interact so regularly online that a status highly regarded as one of the most important aspects of our world. Our society can not function without status as it has become more than just a number or a ratio, it’s a tool.

In previous research here is what I found to be the conclusion to getting rid of status online. 


Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 7.59.12 PM

.. just to make matters even worse, I suggest you give up your attempt to claim the ‘coolest ration number’ because Beyonce already won that award 6.1 mil times over.

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 9.04.09 PM




Anderson, C., John, O., Keltner, D. and Kring, A. (2001). Who attains social status? Effects of personality and physical attractiveness in social groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(1), pp.116-132.

Katrin Tiidenberg and Edgar Gómez Cruz (2015) Selfies, Image and the Re-Making of the Body  http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1357034X15592465.

Marwick, A. E.. (2013). Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age. Yale University Press.



In the digital era, audience studies are important in terms of space. This is because, along with seeing your audience as a market you are able to measure the dimensions of place between media and reality. I wished to further research this concept through the eyes of the Instagram square, I called this ‘Instagram Interaction’. Whereby I researched social marketing and construction whilst using my own experience with this platform as an example.

Instagram is a platform that keeps a portfolio of photo memories along with users’ tagged locations and a feed of continually streamed photos, thus being a perfect content analysis for research narratives and space over time. As mentioned in my first post, exploring the distortions and limitations of reality that images in the 612 x 612 pixels square can achieve would further my understanding of the relationship place has on audiences.

Essentially, these photographs sum up my project.

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To begin my research, I wanted to understand how the audience as a market, effects the space between reality and most Instagram posts. Instagram is said by Villegas (2015) to be a ‘social movement that will increase your customer base and your social media engagement.’ However, one of the main ideas addressed in Villegas’s blog post is that sponsored posts are a powerful tool for marketing. She states ‘sponsored posts on Instagram come across as organic and relevant’. The ‘comes across’ space between audience and reality or truth is what I explored in my research.

This idea allowed me to want to further understand the realistic aspect of place addressed in deGuzman and Crawford (2013) ‘I forgot my phone’.

In order to achieve this, I went a week without Instagram. As addressed in my second post, this was more difficult than expected. An attachment to instant gratification and social approval is something that was evident the more I limited myself. Exploring this place allowed me to understand the reality that Instagram is able to distort.

Coinciding with this, to explore the ‘comes across’ dimension I used content analysis on my own Instagram account. Using five of my previously posted photos, I critically analysed them in terms of ‘what Instagram sees’ (the distorted space) and ‘what Instagram doesn’t see’ (the reality). Exploring these photos in depth allowed me to understand the lies, edits and practical truths behind them.  In terms of the photo itself, researching the way we can distort the image gave me an understanding that the audience can see something entirely different. From a photography perspective Caruana and Fox (2012) explore dynamic bodies of work that bring new dimensions to images. Similarly, Instagram provides tools that contribute to the act of distortion, Hochman and Manovich (2013) call these ‘manipulation tools’. For example, cropping, straightening, captioning, filtering and adding a location all change the message communicated to your audience in which Instagram stores as a memory. Hochman and Manovich (2013) argue that ‘each filter evokes a different “feel’’ and that ‘while taking a photo of a specific time and place, we apply a filter to it to suggest a different time or atmosphere’. This is shown in the analysis of my own Instagram account, whereby certain atmospheres and times of day weren’t truthfully conveyed through the photoScreen Shot 2015-11-02 at 1.40.03 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-02 at 1.40.18 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 1.40.29 PM

With the emergence of the ‘attention based economy’ people have become more distracted than ever before. Therefore, we are living in a world where instant gratification defines our use of social media. Not being completely understanding of our distractedness in relation to the truth of an image could have negative effects on individuals. In terms of the distorted space versus reality, how does this affect the audience? Sunstrum (2015) argues that ‘because of this strict control of the way we are viewed, we are often fooled into believing other people’s lives are much better than our own.’ Overall, this can be seen as a problem in for the future of the structure of Instagram due to the negative implications for the audience arising when a dimension of an image is distorted.

Information about the research behind this project:

The form of research in which I carried out myself was a content analysis of my Instagram account. A qualitative form of research that allowed me to understand in greater detail the secondary research I had formed.  In order to convince media industries or stakeholder groups further research into the area of image distortion would help create an understanding of the truth about misrepresentation involved in the Instagram square.

How can these stories be used effectively?

From the research I have gathered above and the issues which have evolved from our addiction to social approval and image distortion I believe there needs to be a platform in which social media has no social status component, no likes and no editing tools. One of which people are able to express their own true lives with an inevitably raw feature. I believe this would be a great approach to assisting people in the natural aspect of social media. This is because we wouldn’t be able to see those with the most Instagram followers and base our opinions on the products they are promoting purely off their status. We would have to use our OWN minds, how scary.


Caruana, N. and Fox, A. (2012). Basics Creative Photography. 1000 Lausanne: Ava Publishing SA.

deGuzman, C. and Crawford, M. (2013). I forgot my phone. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OINa46HeWg8 [Accessed 2 Nov. 2015].

Hochman, N. and Manovich, L. (2013). Zooming into an Instagram City: Reading the local through social media. First Monday, 18(7).

Sunstrum, K. (2015). How Social Media Affects Our Self-Perception. [Blog] The world of Psychology. Available at: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/03/14/how-social-media-affects-our-self-perception/ [Accessed 2 Nov. 2015].

Villegas, F. (2015). Ten Reasons to Adopt Instagram as a Marketing Tool. [online] LevelTen Dallas, TX. Available at: http://getlevelten.com/blog/felipa-villegas/ten-reasons-adopt-instagram-marketing-tool [Accessed 1 Nov. 2015].