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woodside train station, vector illustration

Passing Through Woodside

I hope that this post will serve as both inspiration and an example to create your own variations this fall 2020.

“Passing Through Woodside” 2018 – 2020, is a series of digital art works that built a narrative from a single image. This series is a perfect example of how a moment in time can turn into a series of art works that tell a story. And I do mean a creative narrative that is full of metaphors and the opportunity to express one’s self. Im working on this blog post retroactively because it all actually happened that way. Its a good example of how my mind works and always sees the potential of a single moment. We all do this with our memories and I find it so much fun to retell the stories in a process format (which will turn into an assignment for a class for sure). Well, you will have to scroll down and follow along if you want to get to the point, and the context, and the “how-to” aspect of things. As always, Im happy and grateful to share my work and process. Blogging, AKA “digital storytelling” has been the most effective tool and road mapping exercise to show myself how I see and try to understand the world..

Above, behold, the seamless loop! I know that this animation is probably the least interesting thing in this post but its a big accomplishment for me. Its was the first time I was able to create a seamless looping animation using adobe after effects and applying a snippet of code </>  into the interface’s animation timeline. The short code is – loopOut[“cycle”] –  and when this snippet of code is added to the position of the keyframe of the movement of that particular image, it will seamlessly loop onward, forever… ok, there is a bit more to it that that but this is the “jist” and it has led me to push this whole story further. This animated GIF above is an abstracted version of the Woodside train station in Woodside, Queens, NYC.

The looping animation from above this one (the first GIF)… well, it became the background for this. After a while of watching it loop I saw that it was not really that compelling on it own. Am I wrong? Plus, no one would really recognize the Woodside station, would they? Do you? I placed a similar visual aesthetic and sequence of images over the background to begin to tell a deeper story. Perhaps this all looks seemingly fictional, but its not! Here, I can add some context based on real world events at the time of this images creation. I wore a mask for the 1st time on the last day that I took the train to work before the NYC lock-down. It was a weird experience for sure. The train was actually empty.. Above, we see a person wearing a mask (its me). Im all about keeping myself and others safe as this incredible Coronavirus continues to spread and baffle me. However, once the rest of the world started wearing masks, I realized quickly that I no longer had access to read lips, speech read, follow facial expressions and most other forms of visual communication.. Im deaf and hard of hearing, so do the math. This sequence above became an expression of that. “How am I going to communicate now with people talking to me through a mask?” This was not easy at first. I applied an outdated endlessly ringing phone into the sequence, its a symbol, a phone that no one will ever answer.. remember that I mentioned metaphors?

This was the initial vector portrait of myself placed against the “mirrored” version of the station image. I still like the image very much as a “picture / portrait / illustration” but I quickly got the idea to add more context and motion to help tell a story.

Is the story as interesting with out the ringing phone as we saw two images above? Notice the “glitch effect” used in that version to help the viewer see that the phone was not answered, and even if it was, all I would “hear” is a subtle yet crackling distorted garble…

More context! Here is the 1st vector image of the Woodside station that I redrew using the Assembly app for iPhone, I started working on this in 2018 at some point. I used my train time to work on it a little bit at a time every other day or so. I then later transferred the illustration to adobe illustrator to help tighten it up a bit. I made a lot of improvisations but really love how this turned out. The original image that started all of this is below..

Yes. This is where it all started. A single snap shot. It was a dark dreary day, rain was on the way as I waited for my 8:39am train to Jamaica. I live for this stuff! It was a perfect composition right in front of me. I switched the iPhone over to black and white mode and snapped a whole series of this moment in images. I love this structure and it transports me back to being a kid. The station is long over due for an overhaul and update, and Im sure it will happen soon, so having this series of images makes me happy as I hold onto old NYC!

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