New York, New York, New View

The understanding that one’s creation has the ability to be interpreted in a plethora of ways ultimately allows for the employment of intended ambiguity during the development of the final product.

The New Yorker, a popular weekly magazineOriginal_New_Yorker_cover.png, has displayed an extensive understanding of semiotics from their very inception in 1925. The outlet’s first issue featured an illustration of a monocled, Regency dandy (known as Eustace Tilley, and reused on subsequent anniversary issues) observing a butterfly. The magazine utilised these contrasting figures providing the opportunity for differing responses to arise; “Is the man with the monocle being offered as an image of the New Yorker reader, a cultivated observer of life’s small beauties, or is he being ridiculed as a foppish anachronism?” (Louis Menand).

Christopher Niemann, has been creating noticeable artistic work since 1998, accumulating over 20 cover credits for the esteemed New Yorker. Niemann’s cover artwork for the March 16, 2016 ‘Innovation’ issue titled ‘On the Go’, is a contemporary example of semiotics in play.


Through a combination of denoting signifiers, the covers work collectively to convey a general idea, however, they are open to interpretation – this was something that Niemann was very aware of. The front cover features the representation of a female as she enters a subway carriage, as well as other passengers already seated. The reverse image shows the same scenario, however from a differing angle. By using both covers, as well as a virtual reality component – an homage to the concept of innovation, Niemann conveys a variety of ideas.

“The closing [subway] doors are a flat surface that separates two worlds, and so are the covers of a magazine – separating before you read it and after you read it, what you know and don’t know, how your views change” (Christopher Niemann).
This complex idea is one that the average responder may dismiss, however, those with a more advanced framework of knowledge will be aware of Niemann’s intentions.

Personally, I can’t help but refer said intentions to Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message“, through which, the content of the covers – the subway, woman, etc., although appertaining to New York itself, as well as the idea of transport based innovation, mean little. It is more so the medium that presents these ideas – the magazine and VR world, that conveys Niemann’s intentions.

After all, isn’t the attained knowledge between the start and end of a magazine an innovation in itself?



The Medium is a Shiatsu


The medium is the message massage, and it has been since the dawn of time. From the earliest forms of non-verbal communication right through to the now converging nature of media platforms, producers (or the more contemporary ‘produsers‘) continually emphasise the impact of their medium on as their overall message.

Vault 7 Meme

The CIA have an interest in memes and emojis.

Yes, you read that right.

World renowned online presence Wikileakshave utilised the power of the internet, as a medium, to allow their discoveries surrounding ‘CIA Hacking Tools’ – known as Vault 7, to reach the broadest possible audience.

Vault 7 has revealed not only information from a confidential government organisation but also an example of McLuhan’s ‘The Medium is the Message’ in reality. The CIA are anticipating the social and cultural impacts of a medium, in this case the meme, and therefore staying ahead of the change that the medium has the capacity to bring – through concepts such as memetic warfare.

Oh, they’re also using every device in your home as a form of surveillance, but that’s a story for another post.


Alone Together and Radically Transparent


With the continuous expansion of the media as an entity in both the physical ‘legacy-media’ space as well as online, the exposure of mass audiences to a variety of platforms has become something of a norm. In this sense, it could be said that the audience itself is broadening with the media. Increased accessibility through smart technologies, in combination with an increased dependence on such has seen interaction with the media beginning earlier, as well as extending further, into an individual’s life. It is this concept that has caused widespread debate within society – ‘Is the dominance of technology limiting actual communication, thus making us less social?’.

With the arrival of email and mobile phones in the 1970’s, a decline in the overall dependence on physical communication styles began. Professor Philip Zimbardo, of the Stanford Shyness Survey, believed that the introduction of such technologies had begun to loosen the “social glue” of the regular contact humans exhibited. He argued that the society was heading towards “a new ice age” of non-communication, where the ability to go an entire day without physically communicating with others would be done at ease. In his context – a time where social networks and smartphones were something of sci-fi films, he had a point.

Flash forward 40 years, social media is in full swing (Facebook opens in 2004, as does MySpace), and the foundation for smartphone innovation – the iPhone, makes its entry into the technological marketplace (2007).  Communication has moved from purely a physical platform into the digital sphere. Sociologist Sherry Turkle describes the state of society as ‘alone together‘, referring to the idea that although people appear ‘alone’ in a physical sense they are in fact ‘together’ online.

Still, many argue that increased dependency on technologically based communication platforms encourages social-isolation amongst individuals. In one sense, this is true, however these platforms also provide those who struggle to communicate within a physical setting the opportunity to interact with a broader audience. On the other hand, many insist that it is not the time spent on technology that is making us less social, but rather the instances where you are taken away from the present – in one way damaging physical communication, as opposed to completely replacing it.

So maybe it isn’t the increased dependence on online communication platforms that is making us less social, but rather, our inability to remain present.

Let me know what you think; comment below.


“Stop, Collaborate, and Listen”

“Ice is back with a brand new invention”

That is right, the mediocre Vanilla Ice, from the 90′giphys, has a brand new invention.
Yet somehow, I have spent my week procrastinating about the possible avenues I could explore through my digital artefact, while bingeing two entire seasons of ‘Serial‘ – which I would highly reccomend. A combination of these two things generally left me in a state which can only be represented through gif.
However, following some inspiration from the one and only Vanilla Ice, as well as completing my first tutorial with Travis, I have managed to home in on some possible ideas for my project.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 6.16.38 pm

I decided that it would be easiest to first write a list of things that I wanted my digital artefact to include, or be based around. This meant that I would have most of my key ideas on the page as opposed to taking up space in my already crowded mind, and restricting me from coming up with any ‘new’ ideas.

  1. I have always been interested in the basic foundation of communication in itself – why people communicate, how people communicate, when people communicate, etc. It is this concept that fuelled my desire for a ‘somewhat collaborative component’ or ‘possibility for future collaboration‘ within my digital artefact (I had these statements scrawled throughout multiple pages of my notebook).
  2. I had previously had a quick look at Travis’ ‘Project Starter‘ webpage, which is a digital artefact in itself. However, it wasn’t until after my first tutorial with Travis himself that I really started to put it into action. I wrote a list of my interests and then subsequently wrote problems that I could identify within those current industries or topic areas. With both this and the point above in mind, I settled with basing my artefact ideas around ‘People in general’, ‘Music’, and ‘Current Affairs’.
  3. For some reason, the repetition of Marshall McLuhan’s paradoxical statement “The Medium is the Message” – or ‘massage’ rather, stuck with me throughout this process. Despite the fact that the basis for my entire artefact would be around this seemingly non-sensical idea, McLuhan did have a point (but I’ll talk more about that next week). This led to my desire for a ‘multi-modal’ based approach to my artefact, which if all goes to plan, will allow me to link multiple forms of technology and media within my project.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 6.48.10 pmAnd so, following this quite intense brain storm session, I managed to draw three abstract ideas from thin air. Keep in mind, these ideas may seem extremely farfetched and will definitely be further refined. There are also definite detriments directly surrounding the possibility of producing such artefacts, especially within such a short period of time, however, this is something that I will address in a future blog post.

  1. OPEN ROOM: A blog, acting as collaborative space for the aggregation of both non-fiction and fiction work from authors and creators based in various locations. The idea behind this was that an ‘Open
    Room’ provides the ability for people to move in and out of it freely, with no limitations.
  2. SOUNDS OF THE PEOPLE: A podcast/web series, accompanied by a blog housing ‘reading material’ related to each episode. The series would aim to discuss different major news stories, or controversies each episode. Pulling a variety of sources from both online and physical mediums, as well as including discussion with other students as well as members of the public.
  3. SOUNDS OF THE CITY: A music aggregation website/blog, bring together album reviews, current news from within the industry, playlist creation, and event updates/reviews. The platform would also allow for the submission of recommendations from outsiders in a section yet to be titled – maybe ‘Sounds of Your City’, allowing local acts to be featured online.

Annnnnddd, that is about where I became creatively drained and resumed my listening of Serial.

So I’ll leave you with this, shed some insight, leave a comment.



“…I’m not very good with introductions…”

foster [ˈfɒstə]
1  encourage the development of (something, especially something desirable).
2  develop (a feeling or idea) in oneself. 

Hey there,
My name is Nathan Foster Vella and I am a student at the University of Wollongong. I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Journalism, and a Bachelor of Communication and Media – majoring in Marketing Communication and Advertising.

At current (because they’re constantly changing), my interests are surrounding;
  • Music; some highlights at the moment include Maggie Rogers, Middle Kids, and MUNA… Also after seeing Tame Impala at Laneway recently ‘Currents’ is back on my ‘Recently Played’.Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
  • Foreign Affairs; the news of the world is so dynamic, and 2017 has been no exception so far. Immigration policy, particularly that of Australia definitely trumps (I had to) anything going on in the USA as of late.
  • Speaking of Immigration policy, the musings of Eva Orner have completely astounded me, definitely worth checking out…
  • and finally Film; ‘Shutter Island’, ‘Inception’, ‘Unbroken’, and more recently ‘Moonlight’, and ‘La La Land’ are nothing short of cinematic masterpieces – on a side note, generally anything featuring Emma Stone is?


This blog will act as a base for all my writing across both degrees, and across numerous subjects. Through this, I will be able to foster both my Journalism portfolio, and share stories with the expansive audience that such a platform offers.

Thanks for dropping by, if you’d like to get in touch feel free to drop me an email or comment,