Category: Reactive Writing Assignments

Caption-Less Abstraction, Another Statement..

Caption-Less Abstraction, Another Statement..

“Caption-Less Abstraction, Another Statement..” is new looping video art work by Ryan Seslow.

The piece is a visual statement, expression and commentary on the continued lack of accessibility and inclusion that Deaf and Hard of Hearing people experience. Often invited and or summoned to attend online meetings, seminars, talks and discussions only to once again discover that basic accessibility and inclusion in the form of closed captioning is not enabled or provided.. What do you think that these meeting experiences looks like for a person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing? How do you think the experience feels for a person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing?

This piece is WHAT it Looks Like. Want to know HOW it feels? Great, now watch the looping video for 20-30 minutes straight.

Let me know how you FEEL after in the comments section below, or post your response to me on twitter.

This art-work is about awareness, there is a story below..

“Caption-less Abstraction, Another Statement..” 2021, Looping Animated Video

This piece is also based on a recent experience where the “Host” of an online event invited me to participate in a group discussion via zoom. There we over 50 people in attendance.. I told the host in advance that I was Deaf and would require (and greatly appreciate) the enabling of the real-time closed captioning feature during the talk. I never got a response. I joined the meeting anyway and immediately noticed that captions were not available. I sent the host a DM, no response.. In American Sign Language I proceeded to sign “NO ACCESS” over a few times and eventually left..

 

“Caption-less Abstraction, Another Statement..” 2021, A still-frame from the pre-animation processing of the video (click the image to enlarge to full size)

This piece was recently added to the current exhibition: “Waking Accessibility Awareness”

https://www.ryanseslow.com/waking-accessibility-awareness/

Creative Fun for the NEW Commons Website!

A Happy New Year to You and Yours!

Welcome to the Spring Semester, 2022!

Allow me to introduce my first post of the new year: “Creative Fun for the NEW Commons Website!”

That’s right, the commons has launched its long awaited update! Its awesome!

Have you checked it out yet? This post is a good place to start if you haven’t. Its very informative and helpful. Not to mention down right inspiring, (you will recognize some of the GIFs and Illustrations, wink wink wink..) I’m always excited to talk about the commons! Im lucky to be a sub-committee member, thats right, I signed up, got hooked, and now they cant get rid of me, and my GIFS!

Lets have some fun talking about the new site and the commons itself, shall we?

But wait, can this blog post be used as pedagogy? Can it be a class assignment example in disguise? Does a blog post have the ability to tell a story? A compelling one… hmmm, lets see..

I’m here to serve, share, learn, revise, connect, contribute, participate and evolve in this wonderful open-source space. I have been teaching a series of my CUNY classes between BMCC and York College via the commons for many years now, I have also created the open-source course from which you are reading this blog post. The fact is, the commons is a brilliant space that is awaiting your energy. It’s a free invitation to break free of anything default (like those prehistoric departmental templates!) Its time to tap into your “highest-creative-pedagogical-self”, (that’s right, that’s a thing now) and let that light been seen here.

There are so many ways to approach this!

Building a course website, portfolio or creating a group on the commons offers many options, and there is so much context to explore.. What do you want to create or experiment with? What would you like share, archive, organize, facilitate or help with? That’s just a starting a point of course. When I first started generating content here I created this site “The NET-Art Site” for fun as an example of the “ideal course” that I would “one day” love to teach… I’m very serious. It is not an actual 3 credit course at BMCC or York college, but it has become something so much more as both of those courses benefit from and contribute to the content. It’s an OPEN resource full of use-value in context to all of my teaching. Its worth way more than 3 credits, I mean, its like 100,000 teaching-karma-credits that gets legacy attached to it! (as sinister music drones into the background…. Im kidding, but then again..) What I’m trying to share is, I simply jumped in. I started making and sharing, creating opportunities and reaching out to others. Things took off and quickly began to shape just by starting and not worrying about how it would be received. The commons community supported it 1000%! Since then, we have collaborated with the NYPL and several other campuses on various projects, including workshops at the GC on graphic design & “play in the classroom” )and a cross-college collab with Gallaudet University.

As the new site was being built, especially in the final stages, I asked if I could help and contribute by making some visual promotional items. I kind of solidified my presence with the subcommittee as an artist and a rouge “GIF maker”.. well, ok, maybe I’m not that rouge but I love to make GIFS! Either way, it all started on a website here on the commons. I was riding the coat tails of my buddy and mentor MBS, who is the one who introduced me to the commons in the first place!  I was hooked right away! This was back in 1977! (which was really 2010-ish but in 2022 year consciousness it feels that long ago!) Anyway, sheesh, I offered to help bring some of the new branding imagery and items to life. A perfect opportunity to contribute and also use the content for pedagogy. Thats right, this blog post becomes yet another example of the potential of how the commons can be used. As well as the potential to share how things can always expand as we place our energy into it. I teach Digital Storytelling at York College. (I love the course so much!) A large portion of the course work is creating a digital identity, learning how to blog and challenge the creative potentials of what a blog post can be. Can it be a vehicle for change, self-expression, self-transformation, activism, empathy, teaching, learning, compassion and creativity all at once? CT-101 students will surely find out as soon as they read this!

Well? Are you not enjoying this? Make a list of words that come to mind, take action and leave them in the comments section below, I’d be happy to help you get started if you need or want that kind of a push. 

Lets give the whole commons team a big big round of applause! I have to say, they really nailed it! The new website is beautiful. Do you remember the old site? I mean, I do miss it a lil, its nostalgia, and all of the late 1990’s feels of those underground style blogs (kidding, kidding, kinda!) I really love the rebranding here. The new site has solved a lot of UX/UI and accessibility issues very effectively. The lighter color palette and integration of clean icons, page formatting, sections, and those light gestural lines makes one’s arrival to the site welcoming and inviting. It helps the visitor navigate effortlessly to where they want go, which may be intentional right away, but it also provokes exploration. I’m excited for my new students to get started this semester! What do you like most about the new site?

I hope that you are enjoying the GIFs and Illustrations as you read through this post. The post is getting a bit wordy and Im known to go off on tangents… stop me! My ambition was to induce some retro-feelings and imagery as metaphors to show the lineage of our Internet experiences. I started teaching college in 2002! I’m at my twenty year mark and this is my 40th semester teaching. (What!?) I actually had that flip phone used above in the illustration, as well as showing course content with slide projectors and VHS tapes! I had to represent VHS! As much as I love all things modern tech, I miss those analog days, and the clunky hardware that came along with it. I know that our friends at Reclaim Hosting agree! The beauty of technology is its ability to unite and connect us through access and inclusiveness. The new site works great on mobile devices now too! The commons has helped me find and meet so many other like minded people doing such cool things. The pandemic slowed the “IRL” experiences but the digital connections strengthened, our overall reach extended and our friendships prevailed. So, in essence the art works are about connection, togetherness and our collective awareness..

 

Thanks for reading along and checking it out!

Feel free to get in touch and say hello! Im easy to find here on the commons as well as on the web!

Twitter is good too!

If you are looking for some creative inspiration, dig into this site and see what you “stumble upon”.

The Legacy & Preservation of an Original Idea

“The Legacy & Preservation of an Original Idea”

2021, Digital Illustration & Animated GIF by Ryan Seslow

A series of two new art-works, 1 animated and 1 static.. its time for a another reactive / reflective writing assignment. Let us view and reflect upon the art work below. The artist has left us with his intention about the work, but does that “add up” for you? What do you see? Let’s first break down the objective aspects of the images and then move on to the subjective and less formal meaning, shall we?

1. The Legacy – The Forever Animated Loop of the Ego..

2. The Preserved – The Forever Static Preservation of the Ego..

The concept of the artwork is derived from our ego-centric human thinking..  

We all want to believe that our individual “ideas” are original, unique and new.. We want to leave a legacy here on this planet.. and we want to make this happen over and over again. We want to believe that we are unique but also a part of the oneness of this world. We grapple with this, especially as artists. Deep down, we know the truth, that all ideas are built by an energetic collective continuum of the creative human potential.. everything is a remix. This series aims to capture the illusion of this statement as a single idea, contained and persevered both static and looped, living on forever..

 

 

  1. Above: (click the image to enlarge)The Legacy & Preservation of an Original Idea, The Legacy, 2021, Animated GIF

 

2. Above: (click the image to enlarge) The Legacy & Preservation of an Original Idea,The Preserved, 2021, Digital Illustration

 

Cut-N-Paste-Analog-N-Electronic-Ness

A new post on process reflection through blogging.

The best teacher I have ever known is the “inner-one” that allows a time for reflection as it wiggles through its narrative from the inside outward.

Here is my take and example.

 

December, late 2021

Back at it. The saga continues. I want to make images, always.. Which is really saying I want to communicate better, or just more, or in new ways. Sometimes the communication is purely fictional. Sometimes the communication is out of frustration because I cant find the words at the moment. Or, sometimes it’s an other worldliness that is using me as a “tool” to make itself known. Either way, it’s a practice and methodology of my expression of “the-self”. My feeling towards art making has always been: “make something and then further extend what has been generated”. I always want to see how that “something” can be taken further. If I make a drawing, I will eventually want to make a painting based on the drawing (sometimes it’s with paint and sometimes the paint is with pixels). After I make the painting it may become the background for the original drawing I made, but the drawing has now been scanned and digitally manipulated. That digital image will get tweaked and revised and also expand. I will then print it, I love old school ink-jet printers and the aesthetic they can produce. Im a “cut-N-paste” lover too, so making collage based works is a must. 

Above, this is a pretty regular perspective I find myself gazing at. Many pieces, parts, fragments and clips awaiting their deployment. I like to see things both on screen and off screen. Printed matter still holds my attention. Its a form of nostalgia and a time-machine into my childhood where art making was always a part of my world. It never stopped and Im sure it wont as long as Im on the planet. Im sure it will continue even when Im off of the planet too, haha.

I suppose, Im always seeking to communicate some form of a “situation or circumstance” in my work. As if “something” was occurring at the moment and the viewer was able to peek in and hit the pause button to freeze the frame of that “something”. I do make quite a bit of animation work too, but that was the natural progression over time as a medium. Plus the tools are so much more accessible today. I never forgot the basics of what I have learned from two-dimensional design in high school. Figure / ground. Foreground, middle-ground and background.. I placed a border around this piece above, perhaps that clean boarder makes the image as a whole seem a bit more important.. or it just emphasizes the moment. The fragments above were not yet glued down, I lay them out and look at them for a while before I make them seemingly permanent. I always take a digital image.. always!

Im really happy with this piece above. The perfect tension between the subjective and the representational. A moment of passing memories, elusive and most likely not even accurate. A portal out of reality and into the imagination. I like to linger there. The image is made from a series of digital photographs and hand drawn illustrations that were manipulated digitally and the full cut-n-paste treatment at its best.. This piece is currently still untitled, for now.. I will surely scan it and bring it back into the digital arena again.

(this piece above is available as a 3/3 edition here – https://hicetnunc.art/objkt/375773 (or click the image)

Ah ha, well, the image above this one was derived from this one! A combination of a manipulated data bent images layered with several glitch renderings. Cut, layered, pasted and cut and pasted again. What works for me the most is the hand cut lines that are visible by their contours. You can see that this was printed and then cut out with a pair of scissors. The lines are not straight, we can only get that perfect line from a ruler and an x-acto knife.. I have no need for making anything “perfect” in such an imperfect world. 

Format change. A horizontal layout variation to switch it up a bit. This piece uses the same process as stated above. It has not yet been glued down and made permanent.. but is that even necessary with digital tools like photoshop? A good question to ponder and what does that mean in the future?

And then, oh yes, the ink-jet bleeding experiments! Did you know about it? Well well well, look at who’s attention just focused in! If you print on matte paper with an ink-jet printer you can use a soft brush and water and create some very cool looking bleeding aesthetics! Im a big fan of this piece! This is surely a subjective and abstract art work, but it still followed the same steps and process as I shared from the beginning. Im going to print some larger scale variations of this, and perhaps have one framed.

I decided to get a bit more formal here in my presentation and laid down a few of these pieces. Sometimes it helps to get the gallery perspective and see one’s work “up on the wall”. The vertical perspective is helpful. Of course these pieces would look better in a more traditional frame, and its this exact exercise that helps me make those decisions. Below, are a few close up versions of each piece. Obviously there is more to come. Thanks for reading!

Metrics of Time, Circa 2015 – 2021

Metrics of Time, Circa 2015 – 2021

A Reflection from 3D to JPEG..

Ryan Seslow / 2021

(This post was originally published on my personal website on 11/29/21 but I believes that it serves as an example that can benefit our Digital Storytelling community here across CUNY. Im a big fan of using art and art objects as “tools” for creative and reflective writing. Forgive me for the typos, Im still editing as I add to it!)

 

I have always been attracted to working with 3-dimensional objects and materials. Since Im a small child, “making objects” was a great way to express myself and exercise the imagination. As I reflect back (and keep that word “reflect” in mind), I always loved the idea of making hybrid objects. Mostly stacking and assembling things that seemed like they did not belong together. I was simply exploring form and the potentials of form. I loved it so much that I never stopped. I especially enjoyed exploring the subjective, the nature of materials and how they related to my understanding of “life”. We are pre-disposed and domesticated by the many many “objects and things” that we grow up with around us. All of which already have a specific name, title and function. We learn to call this “the objective reality”, where almost all things are representational. Until we intervene, if we do, it may be tricky to expand beyond it. For example, when you purchase and drink a bottle of water or a coffee from the local coffee shop, you quickly dispose of the empty “object” that you drank out of. You rarely stop to contemplate that the bottle or cup was simply a “form” first, and that the form has potential beyond its intended usage. Well, do you?

There is context here with the art-works below..

In the two pieces below I am using and applying the word “reflection” as a medium and a utility. This blog post itself, right now, here in November 2021 is a part of the art-work. “Reflection” in and of itself is a duration based task and action. It takes and requires “time” to reflect. The act of reflection is vast and rich in psychology. We can reflect upon something or someone via our thoughts for 1-2 seconds or we can reflect upon those same things for our entire lifetime.. The individual context is so specific to each person of course. We can also reflect by writing, which usually means “typing” now a days.. But alas, do we ever schedule an appointment with ourselves ahead of time to “reflect” on something, someone, a situation or a circumstance? Have you ever thought to do this yourself? When we reflect, is it possible to even retain and accurately relive the events, people or circumstances? Well, well now.. you may say no because we can only reflect on something that has “passed” and is no longer in the actual “now”. Or do we wish to believe our reflections as a story, experience, person or memory? Of course this too has context, especially for the dichotomies ranging from our great achievements to serious personal traumas, memorable birthday presents and or seemingly banal objects.. like a wall clock.. yes, a wall clock..

The two sculptures below are titled: “Metrics of Time” Version #1 & #2. Both artworks were created and completed in 2015. The medium is plaster (or known in some areas as “pottery plaster”) – which is a powder-like synthetic dust that turns from dust to a solid form when mixed with water as its catalyst and left to cure. I fell in love with making casts and molds somewhere around 1990 when I was a kid in High School. Mold making became even more interesting when I entered college (due to the super fun projects that we did) and it always stuck with me. The idea of being able to reproduce an existing object true to its original form (with out labels, logos and packaging) and with a variety of different casting materials was so attractive. Clean, smooth surfaced solid forms are beautiful! I frequently used plaster, cement, acrylic resin and water (that I would freeze into ice molds). Even more so, the ability to make a rare single edition mold positive or an army of multiple replicas was also so much artistic power (and I certainly made my share of multiples over the years!) At the time though, in those early years of mold making, I didn’t connect the super important role of photography to the works that were being generated. Especially works created with inexpensive and ephemeral materials like plaster. I was connecting the value of the art with the value of the materials. A big mistake! Plaster is cheap. Both in price and in its quality as a material as it will deteriorate, discolor, flake, diminish, chip and age poorly over time. But then again, this is also very very much like us humans. We are equally ephemeral. Time is also equally ephemeral. Especially in context to the awareness level of the living person that contemplates it. These pieces below share both the conscious passing of time and the ephemerality of all things physical in this biological life. All of this information above was nestled into an “object” that communicates “time”..

Above, “Metrics of Time” Version #1, 2015 – (JPEG File) – 1/1 Digital Photograph of a Now Destroyed Cast Plaster Assemblage

I destroyed both of these “physical” sculptures shortly after I created them in 2015. My intention was to complete the sculptures, photo document them and show them publicly as printed images nicely framed and mounted. Much like one would expect to see with traditional photography in an art gallery. But that never happened. Each time that I mocked up the idea, it just did not sit right with me aesthetically or emotionally. My bodies energy instantly changed when I placed the “images” of the sculptures up and onto the wall. (I had printed them myself with my printer in my studio at the time.) Busy with otherness, I decided to put the project on the back burner.. Fast forward to November 2021, where inventions like the blockchain, crypto-currencies and the minting, selling, trading and collecting of digital goods have become a huge fast growing market for artists and rare art works. Single edition digital art works have become extremely desirable in a format that we all know so well as both artists and regular Internet users, the JPEG. The JPEG, yet another communicator of time.

Back to the context. The sculptures were intentionally mounted and hung on the wall. They are inspired by and mimic a standard wall clock. It is an object that has always captured my attention. Im talking about the old fashioned one’s from the 1970’s that lingered around all public buildings and space for many years longer than they should have. As a child I thought they had magic powers that only adults could access and understand. I waited with great patience to also access that sorcery! Most of us are introduced to a wall “clock” via our homes and elementary school experiences. We always looked up at the clock to see when our classes would begin and end, day in and day out. As a kid, I could not wait for the school day to end, and now as a professor for 19 years, Im holding tightly to every minute of class hoping the time flows slowly. I look up at the clock and frown! At home we always looked up at the clock to see when it was time for dinner, time for a bath, time for bed and time for … fill in the blank.. Regardless of all of this, the numbers on those old clocks stayed static as they hugged the circular contour line of the shapes form. The circle, a perfect metaphor for the cyclical aspect of this life. Round and round we go. The clock’s two arms, one short and one long, move in unison with their tireless friend, the non-static seconds arm. Even when things finally began to be produced, embraced and displayed digitally in the “time” telling gadget industry, I stayed fixed on the old clock as a metaphoric object of transcendence, evolution and self-transformation.

Above, “Metrics of Time” Version #2, 2015 – (JPEG File) – 1/1 Digital Photograph of a Now Destroyed Cast Plaster Assemblage

Wait a second, what am I looking at here above? Both of the original cast pieces above were made and assembled from cast plaster fragments. To achieve the form of the old wall clocks that I describe, I used a plastic bucket that resembled the same diameter of the clocks. I filled it up about 1.5 inches and watched the plaster expand another 1/2 inch as it normally does. I let it cure and released the mold. Plaster rejects plastic once it is dry, making the release easy and seamless. Have you recognized what the grid like forms are that rest securely on top of the circular base form? They are keys from an old keyboard that I used between the years 2004 – 2010. Yes. I made a full 1-part mold of the old keyboard using a silicone  / polyurethane rubber mold making kit. I made the mold’s layers very thick so that it would be durable enough to hold any kind of volume that was poured into it as it cured. Much like my old experimenting days in undergraduate college, I made several casts of that old keyboard in plaster, cement, acrylic resin and frozen ice molds that melted away as they should.. In this case, when I poured the plaster into the mold I left each of the key areas shallow enough so that each key would easily be released individually. Once they were dry I arranged them into the two compositions that you see above. They were mounted down with epoxy to hold them in place. We can see two slightly different patterns in the alignment of the keys suggesting to the viewer an intentional meaning or functionality of the object as a whole. Perhaps suggesting that this object is an old relic from the future or the past of a parallel world.. either way, the keys are now functionless..

The context of the keyboard as a metric of time is also a metaphor. The act and action of “typing” has several functions and purposes. It falls into yet another dichotomy that ranges from one’s super personal intentional uses to the mundane and banal tasks we do day in and day out, but it still equates to a “thought to touch form of communication.” Our entire lifetime here on this planet is co-dependent on how we use, give and receive communication. All forms of communication take time.. many of us take it for granted. Two static objects were created to express and communicate an understanding of “time.” The objects were destroyed by its creator only to discover that they transform their energy into another form of “how” it can continue to communicate and transcend itself. The creation began from formless thought energy and into the generating of a 3-dimensional tangible form, only to be destroyed and re-introduced as a 2-dimensional form in the format of an image, the image has been placed online and agreed to be converted into hypertext and placed onto a web server..

The 2-dimensional images are now asking to be minted on the blockchain and re-introduced in the meta-verse as yet another form.

Stay tuned.

A Metaphor, A Reminder, An Assignment..

"A Metaphor, A Reminder", 2021, a Digital Illustration by ryan Seslow - A Metaphor, A Reminder is a new digital illustration that brings together an array of peculiar imagery. Most of which is very subjective - shapes, colors and forms layer over each other to display creative suchness.

“A Metaphor, A Reminder”, 2021, Digital Illustration

A Metaphor, A Reminder is a new digital illustration that brings together an array of peculiar imagery. Does it not?

What do you experience?

Are they logos? Icons? Glyphs? Pictograms? Symbols? A sheep in wolf’s clothing? 

Everyday is an opportunity to bring new shapes, forms and color combinations together. For what purpose, you may ask?Well, this might be an exercise, about the expressive power to evolve and transcend a something.. a metamorphoses..

Even if, some, or all of the new forms may be 100% subjective at first, they come from a “somewhere” and can be applied to a “here” and also to a “now”. We can fuse the whole process with emotion, creative energy, memories and positive vibrations. If we look and don’t create what will happen?

If we make and design and practice that everyday what will or may happen?

What can, only if, and or may, happen?

This world has made us all creators by default but we do know it?

What will you do next?

The Communication Game – Animated Video

The Communication Game – 2021 – Animation

Duration – 00:16 (set to loop), Size: 1080px X 720px

“The Communication Game” is a new animation by Ryan Seslow. Derived from an ongoing frustration with communication, accessibility and technology, the animation asserts itself through an overpopulated, heavily manufactured interface. Fragments of 3D models stiffly role-play as video game characters and jockey over each other in various scenes, situations and actions. The visual aesthetic is gritty, grainy and degenerated. The soundless video flows on a loop that creates a feeling of ongoing struggle as the viewer attempts to follow its chaos and understand what is being communicated..

 

In the comments section below generate a response that addresses your connection or disconnection to the animation.

What do you see? How does the animation affect you?

Can you relate to communication frustrations? If so, how and where?

Where do you see or experience this the most? 

 

2,500 Extra-Credit points will be given to all who respond and react!

 

Until You Write it Down – Class Exercise

a colorful image of a subjective landscape from another world

Until You Write it Down –

A Class Exercise – (feel free to tweak and alter this to meet your courses needs)

I have been thinking a lot about how our goals, dreams, desires and aspirations become the actual physical “objects, things, situations and accomplishments” that we experience in our lives. The process itself seems elusive and often intangible. The more I contemplate it, the more intrigued I become. Perhaps this is all a part of the necessary formula of developing self-awareness that motivates us into a stylized series of actions. Perhaps this is also a personal intervention that we need to create for ourselves and put it into practice? I believe that we need to be reflective very often and to audit our patterns of behavior. This includes our day to day thoughts and thinking process. It is far easier said than actually done, but lets brainstorm together a bit here. Im just a student of life writing this as both an intervention and a reminder for myself with the hopes that others may also find use value and inspiration in the exercise.

“Until You Write it Down..” is the title of this post and my intention is to use the title both literally and as a metaphor, I’ll explain more as we dig in but this post may (after editing and re-reading it 50 times) be a two-part series with deeper insight into the process as we go, so lets start slowly. By the way, I really love the word “revision” as I believe that it is actually a portal. Making revisions shows us that we can always make improvements based on the generating of a result that we have produced. Which, if you think about it, makes it impossible to fail at anything as we can choose to make a better result in contrast to our first iteration(s). That choice will play out first and foremost internally. It will be a new series of images, feelings and sensations inside the mind and body. The choice to do this requires some of my other favorite words, “patience, resolve, spirituality and surrender”. (I have by no means mastered the application of any of these words, but I am hyper-aware that they are huge contributors to the process..) To have patience about “something” (which can be a new or old situation, circumstance, person(s), etc..) is a matter of surrendering to that something, becoming quiet, shifting focus and attention away from it while having the resolve (insert the word “trust” here) to go forward that all will be well, and the outcome that one needs the most to grow or learn will be what manifests. This is also a practice, and the best teacher..

(*Note – this post may receive a few more formatting edits after its original publication date as I get more ideas as I re-read it!)

I believe that we must “exercise” our dreams, desires and goals into reality. We must also have a target to aim at with an end result in mind. Whatever we wish to be, do or have needs to be expressed outwardly from inside of the body (from our mind, feelings and emotions) and outwardly into the physical world. Our body plays a key role as the vehicle of the medium. Of course a dream or a goal’s narrative first happens “within”. We craft these things from our individual life experiences and begin to reflect and see ourselves engaged in the desired outcomes. But, do those inner narratives stall and become infinite loops of endless “wanting-ness” rather than actual tangible experiences? I can certainly say that I have experienced this many many many times. I continue to reflect and ask, how do we get those goal-based narratives that were birthed and given thought energy from inside to reach and harden into experiential reality? Well, “time” certainly plays a big role, and synonymous with “time” are those famous words that I listed above: “patience, resolve, spirituality and surrender”.

Here we are in the fall of 2021 as I write this. So much has and continues to happen at accelerated paces. Is it just me who feels this way? Of course not, we are all in this accelerated energy together. There is a lot to process, express and share related to the disruptions and trauma caused by COVID-19 and how this has and continues to impact us both individually and collectively. I need to save this for a follow up post, and I promise that I will write it soon. However, it is this last year that has induced a deeper and heightened level of reflection and awareness in all of us. 

A thought popped into my head as I write this: “Perhaps the emotional sentiments of missing out on something are really disguised and misunderstood as repressed, unclear and unorganized feelings of an intense desire to create?”

An inner light bulb clicked on. I thought, and asked myself, is my focus on “waiting and wanting” more than I am taking actual creative action on the things that I consider goals? And, what were those goals again? It’s been a long time since I stopped to think about this, plus, what I thought those goals were seem to be just all in my “head” kind of floating around. Fragmented thoughts are not a target, and this is something I believe I can control through setting clear intentions and listing a series of goals with desired outcomes.

We learn so many things at various stages of our individual life experiences. It’s not consistent with others, its more like extreme contrast, however, there will always be a number of things, situations and circumstances in our day to day lives that we will not be able to control. No matter how hard we try to intervene, some things will not be changeable and we will only experience them. I don’t mean this in a negative way but in a way that helps us come to terms with acceptance, surrender and the ability to understand that we do have a choice in how we can respond. Even if that means we need a long time to reflect and correct the way we originally reacted to something.. this is all too human. There are many things that we can put our focus and attention on, set intentions and work towards. The disclaimer here is that this requires self-awareness, a bit of discipline, your favorite word “patience” and a series of practiced actions, lets consider..

The summer has always been a special and significant time of year for me in my experience here on this planet. Im hyper-aware that I am conscious and living in a multi-sensory physical body. My body (we only have one..) is finite and I take good care of it so that it will work in a harmonious unison with my mental, emotional and physical health. Im grateful for my body and my health, even though I certainly overdo things from time to time. We all do.. The summer represents a time to slow down a little and spend more time working on self-awareness and replaying some of the years events thus far. I like to take stock on what has been accomplished, what still needs tending to, what I gave up on and what I need to let go of. This applies especially to really outdated behaviors, dreams and goals that no longer are desired (which requires the audit I mentioned above). Please keep in mind that all of this reflecting is “in my head” and streaming through the in and out phasing of consciousness through out the day. We all know that difference right? One minute we are super aware and focused on our current or implied thoughts and reflections and then another thought intervenes by unwanted infiltration and we become distracted and loose our original focus. This is a cycle of sorts, and we participate in it rather quite easily, day in and day out. Science tells us that we have over sixty thousand or more thoughts per day and most of them are repetitive. How and why do we create that repetitive automation in the first place? All of this thought energy stays “in our head” unless we do something to change those loops and patterns. I believe that we need another medium to contrast the process (besides thoughts in our head) to guide, realign and express things.

Im going to use the example of “goals” because it is extremely relatable for everyone. Can you think of one dream or goal that has been with you for a really really long time?

We all have dreams and goals. But wait, are those dreams and goals up to date in this current moment in alignment with who you have and continue to become? It’s not exactly an easy question. Think about it for a second, are those dreams and goals just “in your head” as looping recycled stories from 5, 10 or 20 years ago? Are they now just repetitive thoughts with no emotional charge or clear visual imagery? Do you FEEL anything as those loops play over? 

(Re-read that last paragraph above please)

This is an interesting confrontation and it warrants an audit of the stories that we keep telling our selves. Doing this seems easy in theory but there is a lot of psychology at play here. Resistance plays a role as the implication of “change” is something we are good at fearing. If we take stock and audit a goal or dream that we have had for many years and it has not happened then we have to be accountable for that. We usually take this as a disappointment, which does not feel good, but alas, it is necessary to move forward. Perhaps a good first step is changing the previous script. Updating it for today is the action to take but our “previous body and mind” may need more help in the process. Let’s clarify a few things, dreams and goals that have not yet happened are NOT failures. If these things are still important to you then they simply need to be updated and nurtured. They need to be expressed outwardly, meaning, outside of the body and into the world. Lets give it a try!

It is now time to “write down” your goals. We need to set a target and come back to give it water, love, nurturing and surrender to the control over “how” things will show up. (surrender and trust)

Step # 1 – Please get a pen or pencil and a piece of paper (or type this as a note on your phone or in a word processing document on your computer, or speak it into a recording device that you can play it back on, or use a visual signed language and record yourself so that you can see it play back) Now make a list of your top three short-term goals that you wish to accomplish now and do the same for your top three long-term goals (long-term could be with in the next 5 years). Step #1 of this exercise will most likely happen really fast, really slowly or you wont do it at all. Do these two lists flow out and come to you easily or does it take a while to do? Did you allow yourself to do it at all? Believe it or not, most people will not do this. They wont or have never made a list of their goals at all..  Remember, this intervention sends signals of “change” to the brain and body, and change is hard, so if you feel that resistance, know that it is totally expected. Take your time.

Step #2 – Re-read, Re-listen or Re-watch the lists that you have made a few times. As you experience those lists, how do you feel? What becomes of your emotional state? Do those lists make you feel happy and inspired and propel you into creative action? Or, do you feel sad, mad, frustrated or even nothing at all? If you feel any of these, you most likely may have a hard time adding a “WHY” reason / statement to each individual goal. This may be your indication that the goal needs to be revised or updated in its narrative. This is a good thing as it helps us get more clear on the goal. Why is this goal is important to you? How will this help you, and most importantly, how will the accomplishment of this goal help others and the world at large? For step #2, add this aspect to each goal to expand upon its clarity and deeper meaning. Add a statement of “Why”.

I found that this was pretty difficult to do the first time around! I kept getting distracted and spacing out. I also had to just allow myself to write out my lists and not “edit” them as I went. Once I gave that part up, it was much easier. The best part of this is how things took shape as I re-read my lists. I kept having more sentiments and ideas of the many little details and elements that were important and needed to be a part of each goal’s statement. This continued to expand until images started to form in my minds eye and as those images activated my emotional state, and I became more and more excited reading the lists. The reading part becomes charged with good emotions, and this seems to be a very important part of the process!

Ill be back soon for part 2, until then, feel free to leave your thoughts below!

 

Back to Teaching Reminders!

a colorful digital illustration of an abstract series of jazz musicians playing various musical instruments together

Welcome Back!

Obviously there is a lot to say and catch up on, but first and foremost, a reminder of Empathy.

I would like to ask my fellow teaching colleagues far and wide to consider this information as you begin teaching your courses again this fall. Our students, colleagues and campus communities need us more than ever this semester.

Whether you are teaching 1 course or 7, this applies to all.

Keywords – Patience, Empathy, Compassion, Creativity, Accessibility, Inclusion & Community

1. There is no ego in teaching. Be an example of patience, compassion, empathy and understanding. Make this your mantra. Your energy is contagious! Meaning, your vibration carries information to each and every person in the classroom (in person or virtual.) The emotional state of your vibration creates rapport between people. You can set the vibration for the semester in your first-class meeting by expressing your gratitude, excitement, appreciation and enthusiasm for teaching and meeting your new students. Again, this is contagious energy!

2. Take acute awareness that your course(s) holds all of the potential to be an incredibly unique learning experience in and of itself. I mean this far beyond any of the specific course content that will be covered throughout the semester. Acknowledge, we are all human beings coming into the course from various places and stages in our journey together on this planet. There is always a part of each and every one of us within each other. Whether it is an example of who you once were, relate to now, or a reflection of the future you to come. There you are.

3. Think about the fact that yourself, and the group of incoming students will be having a new experience in the same physical or virtual space, at the same time for the next 15 weeks. This experience, with the exact same people, in the exact same “space” and time frame will never happen again. Discuss and discover your similarities and collective strengths as a class and how those individual characteristics form the modular fragments that make up the whole. Every class is a community. It will function as one with great energy if it is declared collectively.

4. Create a community! Every course holds the potential to be platform for collaboration and community building. This means, setting up a series of dialogs early on for learning about each other. What are the passions, concerns and ambitions of each student, how are they taking steps to realize those things? Remind yourself before, during and after each class; what roll do you play as a leader and facilitator of inspiration for your students?

5. Realize, our students are teaching us far more than we are teaching them. (read that again if you need to) If you have a classroom of 20 students, then a minimum of 20 new potentialities, solutions, variations and iterations will be generated, worked on, crafted, discussed, written, spoken, presented uniquely and shared back to you (and the class itself) for each assignment. That is a tremendous amount of information and energy. Remember, there is no EGO in teaching, so whether these outcomes please your expectations or not, you have been exposed to a new opportunity to help, learn, grow and see things from another’s perspective. The sum total of awareness from openly experiencing things from another’s point of view is the diminishment of competition-based thinking, and the humble transition into seeing infinite creativity.

6. Do you really think that you are going to inspire your new students this semester by spending the first-class meeting time reading the entire syllabus? Place an emphasis on our collective human-ness first and foremost. Your class(s) are communities awaiting the declaration of its potentiality. Introductions should be the first thing that happens. Learn each other’s names, share stories, connect and learn about each other.

7. Make all of your content Accessible and Inclusive! A single method of sharing course materials is completely outdated in 2021! Make a commitment to learning new skills that will facilitate and foster accessibility and inclusion across your teaching methodologies. If you are using audio and video, make sure that there is a written transcript and real time closed captions available at all times. Use high contrast visuals and plug-ins that give the user the ability to visually tweak and control the value and contrast of what is on their screen. Add alt-text to images for screen reader access, and do some research on “accessibility & inclusion”. Your campus has an office for this and are there to help. Reach out. This is your responsibility. Most of all, ASK your students what THEY NEED for them to best receive the teaching materials.

If you need some help with this, please reach out to me – rseslow@york.cuny.edu 

 

Keywords – Patience, Empathy, Compassion, Creativity, Accessibility, Inclusion & Community

 

Have a wonderful Semester!

 

Feel free to add to this thread in the comments section below!

A Drama in Monotones, The Tutorial..

A Drama in Monotones, The Tutorial

Early June, 2021, A new series of Digital Illustrations & Animated GIFs

(This post is an adaptation from my personal website, it has context here as it serves as an example and prompt for reflective writing about one’s process. How may you turn this into an assignment?)

Welcome to yet another new series of art works! Let’s talk about how they come together while we appreciate them, shall we? I have always felt that writing about my process itself is a very helpful way for me retain it and expand upon it. I always find myself inspired by the process itself, so why just narrate it inside my own head… I like to share, as you know! Lets examine, how did this series start? Where does it all come from? Where will it go? What am discovering in the process that I should make a note of? Let’s take a look. Im a big fan of open education and learning from others, I hope this post can help you! Scroll down and take in these first two illustrations.

 

“The Untitled Minimal Setting”, 2021 Digital Illustration

 

“The Untitled Minimal Setting II”, 2021 Digital Illustration

The two images above really fueled this whole series below. I know, that may seem strange, but this is what may happen sometimes with process. Sometimes I simply create an arbitrary “scene / setting” first, but it was really through some random experimenting this time. I knew that I wanted to work in monotones and play with some single color values. The trees in the illustrations above came as ready made graphic assets. It is a part of a photoshop brush plug-in set that I found online, (there are tons of free brush tool plug-ins out there for photoshop..) I applied the tree as a solid color image into a flat landscape that I made and duplicated it to use as a shadow on the ground. I then added a gradient overlay to the tree’s layer and I duplicated the trees and the shadows as layers. I placed them all into the composition. I made a few other variations of this scene but these two above are my favorites. This was all done in adobe photoshop.

Next..

I now knew that I wanted to add “something” or “someone” into the scene that I had just created. A narrative or perhaps a snippet of “life happening” in a fun or other-worldly way. I kept thinking about the nostalgia that childhood cartoons had and continues to play in my art. I also wanted to make this image move, animate and loop. I recalled something… oh yes, that drawing that I made a few months ago, those cool looking line characters were still waiting for me to activate them! The image above (click on it to expand and make it bigger) was a part of series of characters that were drawn with a stylus in adobe illustrator with my wacom tablet. Those smooth vector lines are so much fun to make and are also editable as paths. This makes it really fun to alter and stylize. I began to deconstruct the image and isolate several parts.

 

As I mentioned, from the big drawing above I derived a few fragments and played with them. I reconstructed them into new forms and assets to start making a new character with. I mean, sky is the limit here and I love discovering the possibilities to expand things into new works. Once I was happy with my new graphics I colorized them and isolated them onto one page. I brought the new illustrator file back into photoshop and made individual files and layers for each asset. I realize now that I only focused on the upper torso and the arms of the character but thats OK for now as I can always continue forward if the inspiration keeps stoking the fire for more! Haha, I know that it will!

 

This was the first composition of the new character placed into the setting. Once I did this I knew that I could easily animate it too. I still really like the static illustration and it forced me to make another one, which you see below (haha, and a few more!) The illustration below is a bit more abstract and possibly even more fun to look at, what do you think? I kept going.. obviously, wouldn’t you? 

 

It was fun to make this variation, and.. once I did, I decided to send all the individual assets to my phone and play around there too. There are so many ways to use mobile devices for digital marking.. that is another story for another post as go forward. I love the tension that different devices and interfaces give in terms of their screen resolutions and how things look across multiple devices or outdated tech.. For example, this week I will pull this image up on an old MacBook laptop that I have from the year 2009. I’ll take a few screen shots of it and transfer it to a mini DV tape and play it back through an older monitor, or something like that. Those screen captures and variants taken from things like a mini DV tape are so much fun to play with.

 

This illustration above was composed from those same assets using my iPhone. I used the “Glitch’e” app (check the app store or google play) to bring it all together (as layers) and play with the color. It is over saturated on purpose to give the impression of a bit more intensity and a warmer temperature in the “scene”. The cropping of the composition leads us to think that “something or someone” else is also participating in the dialog.

Does it work? Ok, let’s animate this thing!

 

Then.. it was finally time to fire up adobe after effects and bring this guy to life. First, I put that background on a seamless directional loop to the left (I expanded the background layer / screen by twice the length of it) so that the character would appear to be moving forward in a walk cycle. This is my first iteration of this animation cycle. I like it so far but I want to do more with it. I need to fix a few of my puppet warp movements, or should I make it “glitch” more? Hmmm, Ill play with it a bit more and already think I have another idea..

 

Welp, as I mentioned, once things get going, its kind of hard to stop pushing the limits with creativity. I started to bring in “other elements” from things that were previously made. I make a ton of graphic assets from my illustrations and applied art works. This is the beauty of digital art, there is such a powerful immediacy to aspects of it. Of course, making the assets can be super time consuming depending on what you are doing. For example, working with the pen tool in photoshop or illustrator.. either way, its good practice and the assets are always waiting for you! I kept going and made things a bit more abstract… Thoughts?