Saturday, December 25, 2010

Harp Harp Harp

Another excerpt of an email that I sent in reference to my video (posted previously) The Mousetrap:
" I enjoyed making the video and am quite surprised at how well it was accepted by people. I received emails from many people asking if they could show it to small groups and giving me praise for doing a good job. I am not letting it get to my head and taking it for more than what it is but it does let me a few things; the main one being that I am on to something. I intentionally made something that people would like.

Though the sketches were simple, they were good enough to illustrate the scene well enough with likable and very easily identifiable characters; for whatever reason they just seem to work. Before I made it, I asked myself what I wanted from the viewer to be--I wanted them to be intrigued and entertained. I feel as though both of those goals were accomplished. Intrigue from the development of the drawings, entertainment from the overall production. I enjoyed the story and it was something most people can appreciate because of its simple but strong lesson, also something that worked for the better. The music, though cheesey, was there and something for the viewer to listen to. I wanted it to set the mood, sort of a contrast to the playful children's story aspect of it.

I did like the music (sort of) but my selection of it was rushed and I think it's really cheesey. It got the job done, but for the future I'd like to focus more on the audio aspect. Maybe on my next video I'll do it on a musician to help force me into it. Certain aesthetics I didn't like or particular drawings were rushed but I was not going for anything spectacular really. In fact, the only reason I made this video (which was done from scratch to finish in 7 hours) is because I was not able to go to a concert I wanted so instead I went to the library one night and did it all in one sitting. I must add to the weakness section that I hate the text at the end--the video was made quickly, but not crappily(if that's a word) and I feel like the text is really corny

Final assessment and application:
I have been thinking a lot and I think I am going to drop the 3d aspect of the project. I changer. BUT, I have my reasons for doing this. I am finding myself interested how we perceive and utilize space. My original idea (before wanting to do 3d) had to do with the use of multiple projectors, like 3 or 4, but I think I may revert back to that idea on a smaller scale, maybe just 2, but do something like project them into a corner just to get people off normal axis and their senses heightened.
Ultimately, I have become much more focused on the idea of how to tell a story and customize one's experience more than I have just the techniques of 3d and though I do still firmly believe in the effectiveness of using 3 dimensional elements I want to do something with quality and not spread myself too thin by attempting to make my video turn 3d and lose it all...if that makes sense. For once I am making a decision like this not out of fear of failure but in the comfort of knowing that I have thought it through and can still make something cool with techniques I already know. I am exploring deeper into the essentials and I love it. I plan on making 1 or 2 more small videos like 'The Mousetrap' and seeing where my final video ends up after that. It's a lot of work but work I am looking forward to so that makes it all the better."

The email ended up kind of long again but the main point that is a change in my head, which I have been leaning towards for a little while now, is I am not going to be focusing on 3D for my senior project. Yes, I will still be using it but it will no longer be the main thing. A change of concept is nice for me. I'm not feeling as suffocated as I did before, anxious about learning how to effectively communicate 3D images without hurting people's heads.
Maybe I should paste drawings all over the walls that guide your eyes to one single point that states bluntly, "Made you look." Hahah. It would emphasize my ideas on perception, how artists have a power that comes with great responsibility :) to alter perception and make people see what the artist wants them to.

“All that you do will inevitably be flavored with uncertainty—uncertainty about what you have to say, about whether the materials are right, about whether the piece should be long or short, indeed about whether you’ll ever be satisfied with anything you make. Photographer Jerry Uelsmann once gave a slide lecture in which he showed every single image he had created in the span of one year, some hundred-odd pieces—all but about ten of which he judged insufficient and destroyed without ever exhibiting.” (page 19)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A discovery

now i'm just putting the color touches on it
and i have 43 more to go...

Those should go by quick

i know

put on an episode of Boy Meets World and you'll be done by the time it's over

i like your thoughts
i haven't seen that in forever

That's what I do

cory and sean get your creative juices flowing? lol

Haha, delightful distractions
part of the art of art is keeping yourself sane while doing it
that's why there's so many crazy artists out there

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Touch

A little less analytical and a little more ramble.

The power of perception is one that is of extreme interest to me. As an artist (that's kind of weird for me to say still), I have become very sensitive to things I see. Perhaps "appreciative" could be a more correct term. Two years ago, someone could have told me about Duchamp's The Fountain, a urinal tipped on its side that was submitted into an art show in the early twentieth century, and I would have laughed. Hard. Of course, after learning about the events surrounding the entry of The Fountain and studying What exactly Duchamp was thinking, I appreciate it. So much. This is just an example of how someone can be ignorant to what they see, not at the fault of anyone many times--it just happens, and after being exposed to its context completely changing his or her perception of it. Interesting how that works isn't it?

I read in a book that was written by Phil Vischer about the rise and fall of Big Idea, the company that produced Veggie Tales until its eventual crash in 2004. He'd built a multimillion dollar company from scratch and wrote a book about the entire process, what happened from day one until it ended. One of my favorite parts of the book is when he was talking about the physical obstacles and aids of creative process--things that affected his employees such as their work environment, pay etc... According to him, you have to submerge your artists into an environment that puts them in the "mood" to create, a stimulus to creativity so to speak. They had this gigantic fun factory of an office. Sculptures and characters were decorated all over the place along with complimentary gyms and meals, good meals. Google does the same thing. Watch any video about "a day in the life of a Google employee" and see the obscure treats Google give their employees--things that provide an environment that makes them comfortable such as never ending cereal supplies and places to get massages for free. Another example is I recently listened to a lecture that talked about an Australian company's policy, a company that deals with lots of programming and coding. This company decided that for ONE day every two months they were going to allow their employees to work on whatever project they so desired as long as it was some sort of progress--they could stop their assigned project and collaborate with a friend on a completely different task. The results? That ONE day's worth of work produces more patches and fixes to bugs and aids to production than the whole other two months. Why? The employees are Enjoying their work. They are working on something they are Passionate about. They work in total submersion to their own ideas--it is psychologically a change of scenery to an environment that They enjoy and are comfortable with.

Like I said, this is a ramble but it's about to make its way back home. How is an artist supposed to create awe-inspiring work of art that appeals to normal society intentionally? Besides having an understanding of the skills required to create the art, two ways: They need to be Passionate about it and they need to be a part of (or at least have an understanding of) the society of people they want to appeal to. Just like the companies I mentioned earlier put their employees into an environment whether physically or psychologically, ultimately they both get the to the same place psychologically, an artist needs to learn how to immerse him or herself into that moment and think...create. This is where I believe the creative process is at its most efficient and affective state, it's that moment where time has no priority and people find themselves skipping meals unknowingly. It is something that I am working hard to achieve and requires experimentation to see what I really enjoy working with. Maybe one day I'll get it all straightened out. :)

The picture I first posted is one taken by my Dad in Kenya that tugs at my heart. The phrase that I added to it, "Sometimes I try to remember the last time I had this problem" is one that pops into my head every time I see it. I manipulated it to a point that I felt like it properly conveyed the message I want others to see when they look at it which is the same thing I see when I look at it.

The following picture is another favorite of mine. I played a spin off stick-ball game using that water jug top in his hand with this boy and his friends for a solid half an hour. I made a connection with him, one that ultimately allowed me to capture this moment. The intense gaze of the already worn face of this young boy puts an intimacy between him and the viewer--the depth between the viewer and the photo is diminished and the viewer is placed directly within the same distance as the photographer, a conversational distance. People have asked me what my secret is to taking a good photo and my response is generally a shrug to avoid a long discussion, but what I really want to say is a majority of the substance of this whole post. Ever seen the difference between an unathletic person who tries really hard at a sport and someone who has the natural ability to be good at that same sport? Humans have an ability many times to discern what is natural versus what is forced. Photography is the same way. That sounds daunting and a little hard to hear, but it is actually really freeing. Don't force it. Yes, do things that may be difficult or hard, but that are intriguing. Have Fun with your it. Do you love your children? Take pictures of your favorite parts about them. Do sunrises grip your imagination? That's when you need to pull out your camera. Does a specific hobo bring you to tears everyday at work? I'd put money on it that for the price of a hamburger he'd let you take pictures. You have to get over worrying and start doing. That's the difference.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Senior Project...part 3

I'm going to start this post by pasting an excerpt of an email that I sent to a music professor, Dr. Greene, about my project. It should catch you up on what I've been thinking about.

"Before going into what I'm doing I'll give you the why. One of my favorite things about art is the experience that you are put through whenever you view it, there is a mental participation. Even works of art one does not understand evoke a response out of the viewer because even not having a reaction is a reaction. I want to exaggerate that response out of someone, to place an emphasis on being unified with the art. This is partially why I have chosen to work with 3 dimensions. If done correctly, the participant is placed in position where he or she, maybe subconsciously, is forced to interact with the medium because there is depth...a visual saturation so to speak, and satisfaction. As silly as this may sound, an obstacle I find myself facing right from the concept is that I like the idea of being able to have my show appeal to the average person without feeling the judgments of the "artistically intellectual" and thinking I'm merely dealing with what Duchamp condemned the term "retinal art", eye-candy.

As far as the video portion is concerned, I'm depending on a few elementary concepts to achieve the appropriate results, all of which are equally important I think: narrative, visual depth, and auditory immersion. Combine narrative with audio and you have...a bedtime story. Narrative with visuals, a silent film. Take out the narrative and we have research, or some various way of dispensing information (which, to make interesting is tricky and requires an array of things on both the dispenser as well as the receiver), but I digress that because it's not my current focus. When the 3 are combined, we have what I think of as the "Trinity of Video Experience" (sorry, I couldn't resist making the reference). Through narrative, your mind is focused and off-balance. You're (hopefully) "on your toes" or "the edge of your seat" ready to take in what is next, your mind is open and that is a beautiful thing. Of course, narrative needs a means of delivery, some way to get the story across. As aforementioned about 3D video, it has an awesome ability of erasing the space between the viewer and the screen. Finally, and probably unnecessary to talk to you about, is the power in using audio to carry scenes from place to place. The ability to get an audience to hang on every word...or syllable. I think I am slowly understanding the potential intensity and possibilities that art can have on a person. With this project, I hope to explore the facets of opening one's imagination as it was when hearing a bedtime story as a child. It's so much more complicated to do when we "grow up".

Okay. To finish we have the "what" of what I'm doing. As I'm sure you've put together, I want a short cinematic experience that will incorporate all these ideas whirling around in my head, at least that's going to be the first half and the one of which I'm currently concerned. I asked a friend to write a story that I want to be narrated. As I told Tori whenever I gave her the criteria of what I wanted, "think about it being less of a script for a movie and more of a story being imagined on the big screen (in 3d)." I am looking for a solid balance between being visually interesting without going over the top. I'm finding simplicity is key to making that happen--having something for the viewer to focus on, visual composition I guess would maybe be a term we can call it. The rest you can probably imagine. I want clean and crisp audio, a full sound of highs and lows. I plan to set it up to be dark, like a theater, with maybe 15 chairs setup and, of course, a small supply of glasses for viewing purposes.

So that's it. What I want to do. I am doing a good bit to make it come into fruition but am not at all opposed to help, which takes us all the way back to my previous email; what you can do to help. I am attaching the story in this email as it currently is. If you could work with me to revise it and maybe work with me on a few questions/ideas I have to see if you think this is at all achievable. My one request for whenever you read the story is, read it out loud. Maybe to Mrs. Beth, or to Sylvester, or have her read it to you or even have Sylvester read it to you if he's learned to read since I last visited, but it is going to be narrated and read out loud/enacted to the audience so it is important to me that you first read it as they will hear it, then go back in and change things."

I turned into an essay, but it got everything I needed to say out and written down. (By the way, if you're interested, ask me and I will send a copy of the story to read for yourself)

What is not documented, and I really wish it was, was the visit that I paid to Dr. Greene shortly after this email. In it we discussed lots of things; aesthetics, theory, practicality, process were the main topics of discussion.
Here is a video derived from that discussion as well as the email. It includes the 3 elements that I so strongly emphasized in the aforementioned email: narrative, video, sound. I had to use youtube because I have exhausted my allotted Vimeo limit without paying for it... Be sure to full screen it and turn up the volume for the best affect.

Interestingly, I posted this video to facebook and it went semi-viral. I've gotten emails asking me if they could use it for presentations and churches among lots of great feedback which tells me 2 things: people enjoyed it and people were touched by it. It kept their attention. I will be doing a few more studies like this over the break. More updates to come

This is just a photo that I love that I took recently at our family's homemade photo shoot. It is of my nephew, Samuel:

(and remember every photo can be clicked on to see them at their original resolution)

Ketchup? No...catch up.

I'm 21 now. And so the count begins. That's the only really significant thing that has happened to me since I last posted, but I'm continuing to make progress in all sorts of areas for school (I hope)! Oh, and excuse the poor quality of these photos...They were all taken with my cell phone except for the last one.

I am still not pleased with my drawings. Just being honest. I need to practice more to get better but it's so time consuming and hard to sit down whenever you know the next few HOURS are going to be dedicated to that drawing--sort of daunting. Either way, out of every 5 I get one that I'm pleased with. Here's 2 of them.

 Those are both from my figure drawing class. I'd never used color until this class before and I am still trying to get the hang of it...that and proportions. It's a slow road but I think I am making progress.

Screen printing...oh, screen printing. Towards the end of last year I'd begun making some side monies by screen printing tshirts for intramural teams. It was not the easiest job by any means, but it paid that month's rent and gave me some experience that I would not have been able to get any other way. This month I was asked to print some more--a year after I'd touched any printmaking equipment. I needed to exercise that skill so I agreed. Most of them...turned out great. Take a look:

Another shirt that I had digitally printed for my own intramural teams is here:
It was a process...A collaboration. I asked an old high school friend, Trent Williams, who does graffiti to design a logo for "WF Intramurals" and got this...

Which I thought looked great. The obstacles for getting it printed digitally? It was hand drawn on paper, it was not colored, and the "S" had to get moved.
He changed the design a little, I scanned it to the computer, colored it, and got these:

 I wish I had a picture of the completed shirts to put online, because the ended up looking awesome. Everyone was pleased with them. After getting suggestions from friends I chose the third one. Now that I have the logo digital I can whatever I want with it.