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Chapter 3. “Sturgis 2.0”: Crafting a Filmic-Web Dialogue

Carly Gieseler

Carly Gieseler obtained her MA in communication studies from Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu, Hawaii and is currently a PhD candidate and graduate teaching associate in the communication department at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. Her interest areas include media studies, performance studies, and psychoanalytic theory. She is the author of the book “Killing the Vamp: Analyzing the Silent Film Vamp as Gendered ‘Other’ and Embodiment of the Psychoanalytic Death Drive” (VDM Verlag, 2007). She has focused on the power of popular media to create new avenues of cultural interaction and reach increasingly media-savvy generations of students.

Sturgis 2.0 is the mixed-media result of my immersion in motorcycle rally culture. From my initial return to the legendary Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in my home state of South Dakota, through the compilation of a filmic retelling of the mobile culture experience, I used the voices within and around the rally culture to create a filmic experience that creates and recreates what Sturgis means to those passionate enthusiasts who journey across miles and years to participate in the annual rally. The film itself is a compilation of video clips and still photographs, mixed with songs and quotes lifted from my experience and from the generous donations and suggestions of those within the culture.
To get from my original material to the final film was a journey in itself; upon creating the original work I visited various motorcycle websites and blogs, asking for suggestions and comments on my piece. In linking the extensive internet family of rally enthusiasts to my film site, I was able to create a filmic-web dialogue that furthered my commitment to the project and opened up the film to incorporate the impassioned voices of this mobile culture. Subsequently, I showed the final piece at a gallery in my hometown during the next Sturgis rally. This was meant to reassert the process of journeying through memories; at every showing I asked the attendees to fill out comment cards that responded to what they felt this film evoked in their memories about Sturgis. In this way, I hoped to create a tapestry of meaning and memory that captured the mythology surrounding this annual event for those inside and around the culture. In playing across various media and reaching out to multiple audiences, I created a film that was a multidimensional reflection on the devoted motorcycle rally culture.
My work on Sturgis 2.0 became the locus of technology, media, and art. I believe that the increased use and access of internet sources allows us to invoke the complex and multiple identities and voices within our communities. My own reflexive ethnographic voice moves within the rally culture and through my journey of memory helped grant greater representation to the film. Rather than simply crafting a piece recalling my own perspective and memory, the continuation of the dialogue through internet conversations and gallery showings created a sustained discourse crafted entirely through the memory process.
Above all, Sturgis 2.0 became a film created by and for the rally community. The film offers an artistic retelling of the endless journey of mobile cultures; the conversations within the rally culture permit this journey to engage in questions of identity, performance, and memory. The participants whose voices shaped Sturgis 2.0 provided the ongoing conversation of a cultural collaboration that allowed me to embody their recollections into the visual.

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