Early Bird Gets the Worm

I created this Play-Dohmation video for Digital Storytelling for our stop motion project.

A lot of work goes into stop motion; it took me 24 hours to set up the Play-Doh, take the photos -which was hard keeping the camera still, even on the tripod, especially in a small room with terrible lighting- and put the photos together in Flash.

Regardless, I am proud of the outcome and the practice I got in creating this video.

Recycled Thoughts

Monday’s Seeing Sideways class we did an activity related to recycling inspired by the movie “Wasteland.”  We were asked to bring 3 pieces of recyclable items to class, then split into three groups to create something based on the theme of “just say no to happiness.” We came up with a sad face, which embodied the feelings of just say no to happiness.

It was a fun experience to play around with objects where you have to use your creativity like you did as a child when you used a cardboard box to play house, or a couple of empty cans tied by a piece of string to play telephone. I have to admit that although I recycle regularly, I have not really thought about re-using those items. The documentary was amazing in so many ways, Vik Muniz use of garbage or found objects to create new works of art and his travel to his native Brazil to create new pieces out of the world’s largest dump was inspiring. The movie touched the idea of recycling in a variety of forms, from recycling discarded materials, renewing our environment, and in the case of the people picking the trash, recycling their spirits and their hopes.

I think this exercise was related to many of the earlier projects where we had to create something with found materials such as the totem, or reuse a simple item like the bead creating something atypical. I realize that most objects can be recycled and so can ideas. How can we recycle ideas in New Media with projects that have already been created, and still make them seem fresh or new. I am always wondering how can we come up with new ideas and create new projects in this growing digital field? I guess we must improve the old idea, find a new angle, make it better and our own.  Perhaps it’s just the little things that make these items and ideas appear new. Maybe we just need to not over-think it, or over-complicate it, the muse to renewing your idea may just be right under your nose.

Fear Experiment part 2

Part 1

1.    Examine the situation.

Fears, there are so many and they can either come unexpected, or they seem to hover around us like a dark threatening cloud. I feel that the fears that I see in life can be immediate or chronic. The immediate is that sudden sense of alarm when something that frightens us appears in an instance. Maybe a loved one got hurt, or you lost your wallet or purse, or you are in an accident. Then there is the chronic, the one that always seem to sort of float around because of situations that sometimes are beyond your control, like unexpected bills, illness, change, duties.

To me the first type is much more manageable because it is faced on immediately, if a wasp appears you swat it away, or you get medicine for your sick child or you pay that one bill you forgot. Then there is one where the problem seems to drag on endlessly. That is the one fear I abhor the most. The constant feeling that something needs to be fixed, repaired or dealt with and it always ends the same, needing more adjustment. Not completing something, or failing at something I work so hard are some of my biggest fears. Staying in a stagnant stage of life without flux is another. Always worrying about the next project and the next and the next, here in school or at my job can be a very stressful fear. Fearing that others think I haven’t done my best or that I missed the point of the project can also create fear.

My way to deal with fear is to try and work within its confinements, try to solve one problem at a time, not letting the stress of overwhelming tasks engulf and defeat me. I usually make a schedule to follow each project’s development until it is complete. I try to leave everything to the last minute, although it seems that no matter how long I work on something, it always seem to come down to the last few days, hours and minutes that its due.

2.    Formulate an experiment.

I decided to do my fear project on the fear I felt when I first lost my hearing. For my experiment I want to have the class split in 2 and have 1-2 students in each group put earplugs in to block out noise completely. Then test them by having the students without earplugs talk to each other for 10 minutes or more, then switch and play music. I also want to experiment with a student standing behind the student with earplugs in and talk behind them.

3.    Hypothesize the expected outcome.

I think that my experiment might bring some awareness to some, and it might also entertain others, and I believe that this fear may be somewhat better understood afterwards. My hope is to demonstrate it in a fun and safe manner. Some may have done something similar before, or maybe never, so there is a chance that for these students it may be a first. I hope that they gain something from my experiment when they leave the classroom.

  • How do you think people (your classmates) will react to what you came up with?

I believe that most of my classmates might find my experiment amusing, maybe even funny, but they will also understand the seriousness of it. They may be surprised and may think about issues to do with it differently. I want them to be surprised, amused, thoughtful and inquisitive.

4.    Conduct the experiment.

My original intent for experiment was to have a few people wear earplugs or something to totally block out noise, but failed in that I could not find anything that could block out noise to the total deafness level I wanted. I tested on my boyfriend with two types of ear plugs; one was at a 22 decibels noise reduction while the other was 32 decibels. The 32 decibels blocked out a lot more noise than the 22, but he was still able to hear noises and make out words, maybe not as well as without.

I had still planned to tell my story of how I lost most of my hearing when I was 9. Since I still needed or wanted an experiment, even though I’m sure my story is experiment enough, I wanted to demonstrate deafness in some way. I ended up signing ASL for my intro before I told my story, for those wondering what I said: Imagine if I signed my whole presentation, how does that make you feel? Do you understand what I am saying? Do you??

In my story, I told about the day I lost my hearing. I was 9 years old and home alone and the last thing I remember hearing before waking up that day was the fan in my bedroom. When I woke up and quickly realized I couldn’t hear anything, I frantically called my mom at her work, and she had to shout very loud in order for me to hear pieces of what she was saying. I also recounted the situation following, when I had to go to my babysitter’s house and interact with her children. They were singing and dancing on the furniture while I sat clueless in the corner watching them, and until I read the lips of one of the girls and realized she was singing our favorite song and I didn’t even know it.

That day I realized I would be socially an outcast, since likely others would not understand my situation or know how to deal with it.  It has impacted me in many ways in straying away from others because my every attempt to communicate, as most people seem to distance themselves and do not communicate back.

5.    Observe the reaction.

Some people stared, laughed, cried, and some looked shocked. I think the way it impacted me emotionally as well was unexpected. I think I have been holding up so many emotions for so long, that it made it difficult to remain aloof as I had plan doing while telling my story. I have purposely not revisited certain events in my life because they are difficult for me, and I guess the experiment presentation was one of those moments where I had to let myself out completely. That alone was very scary for me.

6.    Analysis of hypothesis with actual outcome.

I think many of my original hypotheses were correct. When I signed my intro in sign language, some people laughed; did they feel uncomfortable or nervous? Did they realize that the way to communicate had changed for that small fragment of time?  Some looked even startled or confused. That’s very much how I feel every day, especially when I don’t have an interpreter around 24 hours a day. When I told my story, many seemed shocked, and some cried as well. I didn’t expect myself to cry either even though revisiting those memories was painful for me.

7.    Propose changes to your idea based on what happened.

If I could find some sort of sound barrier, I would really love to conduct my original experiment.  Even then I really liked the outcome of my fear presentation. I felt there were many reactions starting from laughing and confused, to shocked and crying, to awareness and a bit of comfort. I really appreciate Beth’s discussion and how she admitted that she never thought of my situation and the things I have to deal with especially in a classroom with more than 30 students. My hope is that people will remember…, that when they encounter a similar situation they would stop for a moment to think what it must be like to be in that person’s shoes. That they give a chance to people with differences, embrace their individuality, and be prepared to have their life enriched by them.

Part 2
Discuss the experience/presentation from class which you responded to most strongly, be it yours or someone else’s.

1.    What was it and who did it?

I think the presentation that I responded the most to, was Robyn’s. She made a video demonstrating the possibility of her children being abducted. To lose a child in such a way is very frightening. I have watched shows where children have been kidnapped, and have never been recovered, and the suffering of those families is difficult to watch. In those instances, most outcomes rarely end in good news, and the families affected are never the same. Most never recover, that one terrible event creating a domino’s effect of pain.

2.    Why did you respond to it so strongly?

Even though I don’t have children, I have a 5 year old niece who I am very close to and I couldn’t imagine if anything like that ever happened to her. Just picturing from her video, if my niece was playing in the park and suddenly wasn’t there, or if she went for a bike ride and I found her bike lying on the side of the street…. Those images were very unnerving.

I also loved the captions! 🙂   Thank you!

3.    How does it impact how you see your own project?

In the sense of losing something, her project made me think that, it may not be your hearing, your eye sight or another of your senses that you could lose, but you could still lose something physically connected to you, in an emotional way, like your children. I cannot imagine anything worse than losing a child. Not having them there, laughing, creating those moments that you remember a lifetime, carrying with you an emotional ghost full of memories; how devastating that must be.

FEAR

What is Fear?

Fears, there are so many and they can either come unexpected, or they seem to hover around us like a dark threatening cloud. I feel that the fears that I see in life can be immediate or chronic. The immediate is that sudden sense of alarm when something that frightens us appears in an instance. Maybe a loved one got hurt, or you lost your wallet or purse, or you are in an accident. Then there is the chronic, the one that always seem to sort of float around because of situations that sometimes are beyond your control, like unexpected bills, illness, change, duties.

The first type is much more manageable because it is faced on immediately, if a wasp appears you swat it away, or you get medicine for your sick child or you pay that one bill you forgot. Then there is one where the problem seems to drag on endlessly. That is the one fear I abhor the most. The constant feeling that something needs to be fixed, repaired or dealt with and it always ends the same, needing more adjustment. Having others think we haven’t done our best or that we missed the point of a project, not completing something, or failing at something we work so hard can be for some an important fear . Staying in a stagnant stage of life without flux is another. Always worrying about the next project and the next and the next, here in school or at work can also be a very stressful fear. So the list of fears is endless, it seems.

So what is the point of fear? Could it be that it is a safeguard, a way to keep us on our toes? Is it so terrible to continuously be on guard, or maybe to always be aware of not just the bad but also the good things surrounding us? I think that fear can also be a motivator, moving us pass the mundane, the trite the unimportant. Fear can also serve as an alarm, allowing us to detect a possible danger, or an uncomfortable or difficult situation.

My way to deal with fear is to try and work within its confinements, try to solve one problem at a time, not letting the stress of overwhelming tasks or a situation engulf and defeat me. I usually make a schedule to follow each project’s development until it is complete. I try not to leave everything to the last minute, although it seems that no matter how long I work on something, it always seem to come down to the last few days, hours and minutes that its due. The point is that without fear, I probably would just not care enough to do my best.

FEAR project:

Hypothesize the expected outcome.

I think that my experiment might bring some awareness to some, and it might also entertain others, and I believe that this fear may be somewhat better understood afterwards. My hope is to demonstrate it in a fun and safe manner. Some may have done something similar before, or maybe never, so there is a chance that for these students it may be a first. I hope that they gain something from my experiment when they leave the classroom.

How do you think people (your classmates) will react to what you came up with?

I believe that most of my classmates might find my experiment amusing, maybe even funny, but they will also understand the seriousness of it. They may be surprised and may think about issues to do with it differently. I want them to be surprised, amused, thoughtful and inquisitive.

What has stuck sideways?

What are 3 things you remember from this class thus far?

One of the most memorable things I remember from this class is the bead project. It was the first time I was given a project without parameters, something without specific expectations or rules, and told to make something, anything with it. I felt it was the start to opening up our creativity, but at the same time still struggling with that complete freedom of lack of rules or fishbowls.

Another thing that stuck with me was the conversations about limitations and how to create something working with those constraints. I felt that this experience has helped me to lock away some resentment I carried over, about not being able to create things the way I had hoped or wanted to in a few design classes. It was a true freedom of expression as much as creativity.

…And last but not least, was the totem project that has stuck with me, being able to take an hour or more of my time to do something that I enjoyed is something you rarely get to do with homework assignments.  It was also remarkable to see all the variety of totems my classmates shared.

 

How has your experience in this class been different from your experiences in other classes? If it has not been different, explain what is similar to your other classes.

The main difference has been the freedom to allow my mind to think outside the box in the true sense of the word. I often heard those words used in other classes, but then the restrictions have come, one after another, to the point that thinking outside the box simply meant: do the same thing that has been done before but just make it different enough.

Another difference is that this class never undermines the student’s ability or confidence. I once was a witness to a student unnecessarily being ripped apart emotionally because her portfolio did not meet up to expectations. She ended up dropping out of college within reach of her degree on her last class, and I believe that could have been handled differently.

I do understand that rules and limitations are often an integral part of producing or creating something, after all, the world does expect the highest quality. However, even the best opinions, are just that, opinions. Who is to say that something is not good or even great without considering everything that the person who created it did?

 

What would you like to get from the rest of this class?

I would like to continue to grow creatively, to better myself as a designer by just rubbing shoulders with my talented fellow students. By reading their thoughts in their posts and watching their creative process. Also to keep allowing myself to think without limits once again, and to push the boundaries of what I envision.

Take Away 03.05.2012

Today in class we watched a video about  the late pottery artist, Paul Soldner. I really love his abstract clay artwork; it not being exactly perfect in any specific sort of standards, but in his own artist’s mind. How many times we may look at art work and think,”well I could do that!” But the point is… that person spent the time and enjoyment creating that piece of art that matters. What enjoyment or masterpieces do we get from trying to meet others expectations?

I can’t begin to say what a breather this class has been to me, being able to create things on my own standards and enjoyment, sense of creativity, and freedom from rigid structure. I have to admit, that I do get a bit nervous when it is time to present our assignment. We discussed in class today how others will perceive us or our work, will they accept it or reject it? Will they call us crazy, stupid, or scream in disgust? Will they cry, laugh, or smile? It’s better to try something and not be afraid of being judged or ridiculed. After all, we can’t live our life being sheltered, otherwise we may not discover what we are capable until we try it. Like T.S. Eliot said “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

 

Unexpected Improv: ‘Wood for Thought’

The purpose of this project was to create something unusual or used in an unexpected way; however we had to use our totem from the previous project as our starting point. The few early ideas I had were a bit cliché, or barely unusual, since a variety of items can be made of wood. Some ideas included carving from the driftwood, painting it, making a mini table… Then I took a long break, and came back with more resolution.  I had to really ponder what I could make that was unexpected with these pieces, after a dozen ideas or so I settled on one, and it was mostly because I love visual puns, visual irony or just plain contrasting visuals… I realized that some of the shapes looked like food, a long flat piece of driftwood that looked like a fish, another which looks like sausage links, and the totem piece of driftwood could be looked on as a potato or a bun. I thought to myself, mmm “Wood for Thought” and that’s where I came up with the name for this sculpture.

I almost painted a fish on the long piece, but then it would have lost its driftwood look and feel, so I decided to carve and wood burn scales, an eye and the gills. I wanted to carve into the bottom piece sausage-like skin but decided against it, because I liked the original texture. The totem piece, being the most fragile out of the three pieces, was the harder to give it the features I wanted to, so I left it as it was. Additionally, I really didn’t want to change my original totem too much.

After I was happy with how I was going to proceed, I decided to group them in a pile to represent abundance of food; in this instance the “food” represents ideas. To hold the group complete I had to be creative and use a long piece of wire so the wood would be fitted, and to give it more impact I decided to stick a fork in the fish body. That was almost as hard and tedious as connecting the three driftwood pieces together. After putting this all together I finished it off with a clear polymer base to protect it from chipping. I decided against a wood plate because it would compete with the driftwood. Instead I went with a simple square white ceramic plate, and to hold the sculpture to the plate I used candle wax.

I was happy with the result, even though the polymer darkened the wood, which was not my intention. Overall, the design came out as I had envisioned it. I hope that it can relay to others what I wanted to portray.

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