Here are some things that you can do to help spread Deaf Awareness at your campus, in your department, in your school, classroom, community and beyond. This post has context. Im a Deaf and Hard of Hearing college professor teaching here in CUNY. This post is about representation, advocacy and awareness.
This month you can help spread awareness about Deaf culture, what it means to be Deaf & Hard of Hearing (HofH) and experiencing the various spectrums of hearing loss. You can get involved and be proactive, here are a few ways to take-action, and by all means, SHARE THIS WIDELY!
What is it like to Deaf? Check out this video!
Understanding comes through Awareness, lets dig in: even awareness takes practice!
1. Learning, Sharing and Informing your Family, Friends, Colleagues and Students:
First, spread the word by sharing this post! Simply talking about Deaf Awareness Month is a great start. Let other people know by reaching out. This can easily take place in a department meeting, in the classroom, via a group e-mail or by creating an event or meet up to discuss. In your department, reach out to the Human Resources office and ask about the resources your campus offers. This may mean connecting to a specific person in charge or the office of accessibility / disabilities on or off the premises. If there aren’t any current resources, (and sadly, there may not be) then it is time to create them! Let this post be a guide and a starting point. Again, awareness is everything!
Obviously, the Internet is filled with tons of resources, here are a few to help get you started and inspired!:
1. Learn A Sign Language: It’s time to learn a sign language! Here in the USA we use ASL, also known as American Sign Language. ASL is beautiful! It is an official foreign language. Even learning the basics of fingerspelling and the ASL alphabet goes a very long way. I’m a big fan of smartphone applications like:The ASL App
There are a lot of options! Choose one and get started!
Above: Now you know how to finger-spell ” BROOKLYN” in the American Sign Language Alphabet 🙂
For those of you here in NYC (and beyond as remote classes are now fully in place) I highly recommend taking classes atthe Sign Language Center– they are so wonderful! I am a student there and cant say enough about how great they are!
SeveralCUNYcolleges (and private colleges) also offer ASL classes at the beginner level (did you know that?) Take a peek at your college’s course catalog or do a search for ASL / the name of your college, online.
3. Join orCreate a Sign Language Group: All colleges and university campuses have an allotted “club-hours” time each week for clubs on campus (and now remotely as many of us work, teach and attend classes from home.) Does your campus already have a Sign Language group or club? Inquire! If not, perhaps you can use the club-hours time to form an ASL club and practice learning Sign Language together. Learning with a friend or a group of people is a great way to inspire, encourage and motivate each other.
4.Support! Reach out to your local Deaf & Hard of Hearing Communities: This means, People, Businesses, Organizations and Groups! Once again, by reaching out to your campus HR dept. and or office of disabilities / accessibility and make an inquiry about how to get involved and who the contact names are for various groups, communities, events and businesses. Reach out!
5. Creativity – Go on and Create Something to Express Yourself: I made most of the animations in this post specifically for Deaf Awareness Month. You can get creative too! This can be done individually or in your classroom, it can be done with your department and fellow faculty members, administrators and staff. Collaborate! Make a sign, make a flyer, make a poster or a digital illustration. Hang them up around your department offices and in your classrooms online and offline. Get creative! Im going to be launching a multi-campus wide project soon to bring further awareness, I will be reaching out to YOU!
6. Closed Captions, Accessibility & Inclusion – (THIS MEANS YOU!) – It is time to caption your videos and video meetings, yes, all of them! Its long overdue, its time to be inclusive and to provide accessibility for all. From now on, use ONLY a video conferencing application that has live and real time captions. Record your videos with captioning and make transcriptions available.There are so many platforms available today that work really well, they all provide transcripts and or the ability to record the video with captions. Zoom & REV, Google Meet, Skype, & MS Teams are just a few to name. This is the perfect month to take action and make the necessary changes, updates and adaptations so that all communication is inclusive and accessible. As a college professor teaching all of my courses remotely this semester, I have been using Zoom with the REV add-on for live and real time captions (I am 100% dependent on captions). I find that these two tools together work best for me and my disability. The captioning is fast and consistent while Zoom gives me the ability to see all of my students and select how I want to see the speaker/speakers in a full composite meeting. Yes, I lip and speech read! When I record my classes, I automatically record the captions and also produce an audio and text transcription.
Contact me! Want to learn more, chat, connect and create some kind of an awareness based creative project with your students, class or faculty members? I’m here to help! e-mail here – firstname.lastname@example.org
(Read the description here first as it is the assignment’s example)
The Trickery of a Memories Memory..
“The Elusive Memory of Memories from a project about how we think we process Memory” 2020, Digital Ink Jet Print.
(adhered to a brick wall with a temporary adhesive , 1/1 edition)
Context – the digital ink jet print is a photograph of a sculpture. Sculpture origins display the human need to “attempt to make things last forever”, however, this sculpture has melted. Its a reminder. As a Deaf person, I constantly think that I remember the way that certain things used to sound. There is stored memory of those memories. Its a series of fragments and what I choose to tell myself. The image was printed – which is another metaphor of a reproduction to access the past. The past was “cut to its contour” taken from its original digital photograph of the outdated hard-drive mold that was cast in red colorize water. The color red was used to imply visual heat and the passion of emotion, but the nature of temperature applies its earthly laws.. The water was frozen and a cast positive replica was released and composed onto a table. (As I “recall” the capturing process) The cast object was photographed and taken as a metaphor to preserve the ephemerality and the array of lifetime stories that we tell ourselves.
We can always rewrite the story… right?
This is the original digital photograph of the actual cast / frozen mold of the hard drive, can you tell the difference? This cast weighs 2 pounds – the digital one above is as light as a feather..
Title: The Digital Displacement of an Object displayed as a Metaphor
In this assignment you will need:
Access to a printer and the ability to print an image. An image that you would like to work with (think a digital photo that you will take with your phone) and the ability to crop, trim and manipulate the image once it has been printed. A scissor or an x-acto knife will help. Oh, and some form of temporary adhesive like tape will come in handy!
Concept: Connect an object with a metaphor and then place or displace the object “someplace” to display its context. Take a photo of the “piece” as a whole and create a blog post about it. (Yes, you can take take more than 1 image or work with video). Please take a photo of the object before and after / process of the final result. (see my example above).
Considerations: Connect to a object. Most objects and things that we use each and everyday have intentional and specific purposes. Think about recyclable containers. For example, a water bottle. We usually don’t think much about it, we drink the water and then dispose of the empty water bottle. We rarely think that the bootle has a specific form, it was designed on purpose to be held by our hands. What happens if we strip the empty bottle of its logos and labels and paint the object one solid color? The context changes, we “see” the objects for its shape and form. If we extend this to a metaphor, an object like an empty water bottle asserts itself as a vessel. A container that can hold volume and fluids. Those fluids can be effected by temperature.. get it? Have fun!
(yes, you can always complete this assignment purely digitally if you do not have access to a printer, but seek applied art & design alternatives first – think drawing or collage)
Publishing: After you have crafted your art work and photographed all of the elements, generate a compelling blog post about the process and the meaning of the art. Your approach may be in a narrative “how-to” format much like this assignment description (haha). Or, perhaps your approach is fictional in the form of a short story.
*A gallery of completed artwork will be gathered from all students and participants and later exhibited here on this website.
Reach out with questions here: email@example.com
The short video below is a series of snippets taken from various aspects of the project that will help you technically.
Let cut out some pieces, parts, shapes and fragments to compose with. Yes, they are “planes” again, but rather than working on the wall in a relief format, lets create a free standing composition that functions on table surface. As you can see in the video above, leave space at the base of each form so that you can bend and curl it over to create a right angle. This angle will allow for the piece(s) to free stand as you glue them down.
If you follow my examples above and below, notice that “spacial distance” plays a role in how the pieces create entrance ways for light and shadow to play a role. Working with forms that are cut in various heights and widths will also play a role in the overall visual aesthetic.
Below, you can see an example of how you can create “an environment” for your piece to exist in. Perhaps this give a bit more context to the design itself? In this case, I have simply created a gallery simulation by adhering 2 pieces of thick paper together and placing an additional piece on the table surface.
A thicker type of paper works best for this, Im using bristol paper above (11″ x 14″ inches) The nice part about this idea is that you can now use the viewfinder of your capturing device to “crop” the forms into the “gallery” as you take photos of the piece as a whole. See below.
Here is the composition of vertical forms glued down onto the surface of the table, and placed into the gallery simulation. The image directly below is a bird’s eye perspective with the natural light in the room hitting the piece. My ambition is to share the space and spaces between each free standing form.
In this example Im using the same light sources from the previous 3 tutorials (links above). Im a big fan of using light sources to create shadows, effects, filters and moods. These flashlight light sources can also layer over each other and create secondary colors.
The next series of images below are a mixture of my light source set up, process and final outcomes. Please share your feedback and work via URL in the comments section below! Feel free to hack and remix this assignment and its guidelines.
Rebirth of the Course Syllabus – The Visual Aesthetic – Part 1
(**YES, my intention is to make this a workshop or a course that integrates into existing courses**)
Let us start with this: “What are the creative potentials of a course syllabus? What role do visual aesthetics play? Why, are they important and for what purpose?” “What role do your values and beliefs play as the creator and facilitator of the process?”
I ask you to contemplate this as well: “Everything is default until we intervene, investigate, interact and define who we are in relationship to that thing.”
The “default departmental syllabus template” rears its head yet again, you know the format well, and it needs your attention! You have been selected to exercise this operation! You have also been selected to express your creativity and desire to apply it, and apply it you must into your new course syllabi! YES, ALL of them, but lets start with one.
Before we jump into the visuals and creation process, let us flex a bit of necessary awareness:
Its time to apply this mantra into the audit (of your old syllabi) and into the new creation process (if you don’t already) the following terms will now govern your new syllabus – Accessibility, Inclusion, Patience, Empathy, Compassion, Creativity, Understanding, Revision & Community
A few points to also remind and inspire:
1. There is no ego in teaching. Be an example of Accessibility, Inclusion, Patience, Empathy, Compassion, Creativity, Understanding, Revision & Community. Make this your mantra. Your energy and enthusiasm is contagious! Meaning, your vibration carries information to each and every person in the “classroom”. The word “classroom” has a lot of new context today, and certainly expands far beyond the face to face instruction model. The emotional state of your vibration creates rapport between people. You can set the vibration for the semester in your first-class meeting through expression. Start by expressing your gratitude, excitement, appreciation and enthusiasm for teaching and meeting your new students. Again, this is contagious energy! Invite the students to do the same. It is in the communal moments of expression that a foundation will be solidified.
2. Take acute awareness that your course(s) holds all of the potential to be an incredibly unique learning experience in and of themselves. Regardless if it is the same course, redundancy is a choice, creativity is the answer and solution. I mean this far beyond any of the specific course content that will be covered throughout the semester. Acknowledge, we are all powerful human beings coming into the course from various places and stages in our journey of constantly becoming 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, and there we are. Include and reference the human experience into your course.
3. Think about the fact that yourself, and the group of incoming students will be having a new experience in the same physical and virtual “spaces” for the next 13-15 weeks. It does not matter if it is synchronous, asynchronous or a mixture of another hybrid form as this experience, with the exact same people, in the exact same space(s) 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. You can facilitate, lead and guide by being the example.
4. Create a community! Every course holds the potential to be a powerful platform for collaboration and community building. This means, setting up a series of dialogs early on for learning about each other. What are the needs, 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? Acknowledge and let your students know how they inspire you, your work, your teaching practice and life! Reflect and share what it is was like to be a student yourself. What you have taken with you and applied, what has been helpful and always stayed within your heart.
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 and every assignment, project, paper or discussion. (I know, thats a long sentence!) 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. Perhaps you have been DISMISSING a lot with a focus purely on the right answers, or if a student followed “your” directions properly.. 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. There is always another way. There is always another solution.
6. Finally, do you really think that you are going to inspire your new students this semester by spending the entire first-class meeting time reading the entire default, all text version of the syllabus? If you still do this, I forgive you and love you still, but I urge you to stop and please change this! 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. Re-read the first part of this post again too.
Removing More of the Default:
Your syllabi can be serious deal breaker simply based on the verbiage that you use in it. Which could still be taken from the default template. I mean it, you really need to audit the entirety of it. Even if you DO all of the things that I mentioned above. Its time to ask: “Who is my syllabus written for, is it written to be accessible and inclusive for all?”
As I mentioned, it’s time for an audit. Start by removing words, terms and phrases that should have been squashed many years ago.
Here is a list of growing words, phrases and terms that need to be removed from all course syllabi:
Lateness is not acceptable
Will not be accepted
Impaired / impairment
Must / You must
Confined / confined to
Victim / victim of
Defective / Defect
Lame / Lame excuses
I know, you read this list above and are looking for more context as to “why”, thats good, but ask yourself again, “Who is my syllabus written for, is it written to be accessible and inclusive for all?”
The most common phrase that I continue to receive from colleagues (and many other people)when we first meet or a few weeks into a new connection: “Wow, you don’t look Deaf!”..
Of course, I die inside at first but then quickly forgive the unconscious non-malicious intent of my assassin for their pre-programmed response to never meeting a Deaf person before. Self-Awareness takes practice, resolve, forgiveness and the ability to “see the bigger picture” even while a wrong doing is happening in real time.
I am Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Being “Deaf & HofH” has an enormous range in terms of its spectrum of “how” one experiences their live as a person that is Deaf. I can only speak for myself as I best try to explain what I can and can not do. We must consider this as an example when we think of others. We do not know what another person is experiencing until it is communicated. We can not make assumptions, especially about disabilities and what we may “think” it means. Multiple forms of representation and communication have always played a huge role in how I communicate and “figure things out” as a result of not hearing. I am in a perpetual state of trying to get access to communication and also becoming a better communicator myself. I’m hyper aware of how the person(s) on the other end is receiving my communication. We are all so unique (wonderfully) I feel that it is important to make individual connections with our students (and as a whole class of course too). We need to learn how each student learns so that we can help them both individually and how they apply what they learn into the larger whole of the course. Back to the words, phrases and terms above, words are triggers to emotional blue prints and internal maps. Seeing words and terms like “Mandatory” or “No Excuses” sends a pretty sharp message. Consider HOW it is being received beyond your PERSONAL expectations. If you would like further clarity on this, and or more examples, feel free to write me.
Going Beyond the Surveillance Based CMS Systems:
I am a huge advocate for Open Education. I believe in transparency and I am here to help others. I believe that tools like BlackBoard and Canvas are useful and helpful. They help us to get started seeing the possibilities of a content management system. This is a good thing, it is the contrast that we need because we must also leave the BlackBoard and Canvas nest. I know, some of my college’s make it…. ugh, that terrible word, “Mandatory”. If they do, well,I simply place the minimum there, which is a weekly reminder to come to our class website that is located here on this URL (insert hyper-link). I have always used the web and built websites for my classes as a tool to facilitate my course content. Using platforms like WordPress as we do here on the brilliant CUNY Commons or OpenLab allows for us to easily create and publish content, share and update the content, engage with the content and also archive the content. A WordPress platform supports written text, images, image galleries, video and video walls, and so many other features to discuss and comment and participate. WordPress also supports a myriad of accessibility plug-ins and tools to help. My goal is always to provide as many forms of accessibility and inclusion for my students. I use hybrid “how-to” techniques that are both analog and digital – the written and spoken word, digital images, graphics, GIFs, drawings, Memes, videos clips and video tutorials that I create as well as draw and curate from the Internet. I also create most of my own content because it is super FUN to do. This summer, I am in the process of making more hands-on video tutorials where I can record my screen and also share more analog techniques using an overhead tripod. We all need to grow as the creators and facilitators of our course content.
The Visuals, A First Taste:
By now Im hoping that you are thinking of the course syllabus as an ongoing process. A creative process that metaphorically is just like us. A vessel of non-static creative electric becoming! I’m starting to create some fully animated course syllabi. Im experimenting and we all can do this. Im pushing the boundaries of what I have been exposed to, taught to do, and of course “told I had to do”.. Im making my syllabi more modern and consumable in a way that is already familiar via current technologies on the web, mobile devices and beyond. Yes, there will always be a standard text / pdf version, it is 100% necessary for accessibility and inclusion. Plus, who says that we cant have several variations for different contexts? I love this idea and it fosters the creative process.
Its now time to get busy with your syllabi’s creation process! Im going to show you how. Its a myth that you have to have professional design tools to do this. It is also a lie if you have believed that you are not creative! Stop using this false belief to hold you back. We all have creative abilities and potentials. Im your catalyst! Of course it would help if you have had some design training but it is NOT by any means a necessity. You can learn, we can learn, and learn we shall together. The graphic above, this is a “logo / promotional graphic” that I created for my CT101 – Digital Storytelling class. (Im building out this course on the Commons week by week this semester) The logo idea for the course all started with the type-face, then adding those fun icons (that have context to the course) above the typeface and then placing it together into this old TV to extend its placement, and to be fun.. The isolated logo is below.
I have customized my course title by creating a compelling visual graphic to accommodate it. This is simply one example of what I could have done. I think that this is a great first exercise in taking the creative reigns of breaking free of the default course title. Now imagine a world where every course had its own visual identity to express and embody the course. It can even change up every semester so that it becomes all inclusive. This can easily be a project that DO with your students over the course of the semester.
Oh yes I did. I took the static logo and I animated it into this welcome message! You will find plenty of that kind of stuff here on the Net-Art course website, but the process is contagious and so much fun.
Part 2 of this syllabus re-make series will indeed go further, with video tutorials, and many how-to’s, but for now, I would like set you off down the rabbit hole of this next piece of information. In the spring of 2019 I was so kindly invited to create a presentation and a workshop for graduate students in the DHI program at the Graduate Center. The presentation itself functions as a blog post (just like this one does, wink wink), and the blog post is an example of a creative potentiality for “what” is possible for the Rebirth of your Syllabus!
Please click on the graphic below and forward we go! (PS – I created that graphic for the presentation and it was made from OER materials)
Did you make all the way down here? Thank You! This blog post is “an example”. It is simply an iteration of inspiration to jump start the process and get you thinking. I know, there is a lot to review and re-read and re-cap so I am going to stop here for now. Part 2 of this series will dig into the visuals, image-making, crafting and curating creativity from a myriad of tutorials and how to’s on the way.
Forgive the typos – this is a 1st draft!
Accessibility, Inclusion, Patience, Empathy, Compassion, Creativity, Understanding, Revision & Community
Feel free to reach out in the comments below or e-mail me here – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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!
ROOFTOP PERSPECTIVE REFLECTING (kinda yelling in caps)
About this assignment: Let’s generate a new blog post that shares a “shift in your perspective about something” and how you became aware of your process. Be sure to share compelling media to support and help “paint this picture.”
Here is my example below.
Sometimes, or maybe more than sometimes, a literal change of one’s physical perspective can help change a conceptual perspective of how we are thinking about something. I know, this is not anything new, but metaphors can play a role and always remind us.. Lets call that “something” a problem, issue or circumstance that we are trying to solve. It could simply be a design problem, or just trying to see something in another light. Perhaps the main inducer of the solution process is the “shift of action” in and of itself. Meaning, we momentarily and very consciously shift the internal self-reflecting conceptual focus to a new physical location of focus. However, the physical focus should be “different” than the one where you were conceptually pondering (over and over and over..). The new physical locational focus must be a geographical one (Im not saying you need to go miles way.. but I suppose that you could.. but lets not for this sake). Its got me thinking metaphorically. There is more context to this “not so new theory” of mine. Im working on a few new projects that started this week as well as trying to complete a few that have been ongoing for about 2 months. Some are art commercial projects / client design work projects, while others are my own personal art works, mainly new paintings. Either way, I have been over-thinking about both. The images in this post helped me find a few solutions, just by going up to the roof, just by making a shift in the moment.
When you live in NYC its only a matter of time before the rooftops begin to summon you. You must comply in some way. The sheer curiosity and knowingness that a larger panoramic view of expansiveness awaits. Of course, some rooftops are more available and accessible than others. Some are just not, on purpose and some completely lack accessibility all together.. For many years now we have all been watching the NYC skyline expand. Yes vertically but also horizontally. Of course your viewing ability depends on your geographical location but the lower Manhattan skyline has seemed to compose itself into the downtown Brooklyn skyline. That one has integrated into the Long Island City skyline. I particularIy first noticed this on the Kosciuszko Bridge (which connects Queens to Brooklyn) heading towards the Williamsburg Bridge about 10 years ago. Then again, I also remember when the Williamsburg bank was always the tallest building in Brooklyn..
Subconsciously I knew that I could take some great photos from above but it wasn’t my intention at first, and these are not great technical photos by any means (they are however good sketches for the next photoshoot with a tripod though!) When I arrived, not only did I shift my location, but I shifted out of the “stuck” over-thinking space I was in only minutes before. And then the insights flow in, nothing is ever static and nature will always remind of this, even in the concrete playground. With-in minutes the light began to change and once again I was reminded that things can always be another way.
I wanted to participate creatively, and responsive I became. I switched the filter on my phone to black and white snapped off a series of shots. There is so much power in the immediacy of creativity, we just need to show up, get out of our way and allow. By this time, I was now fully present in this great experience, it was not anything new but yet it was and it induces the gratitude and reverence for just being alive. Which we seem to forget way too often!
The moral of all this? Take breaks. When we feel over-tired and or over extended mentally, emotionally or physically, take a break. Take walk, take a drive, go up to the roof, shift.
Generating New Forms with Household Items & Multiples
New forms are always awaiting entry here onto our planet! Its your job to participate in the process. Lets investigate a few news ways to see, create and explore forms using a common household item like transparent tape. The works in this tutorial are simply one way of executing the project. Im using transparent tape as a medium because it happens to be handy in my immediate space. Other types of tape can work just as well, but the idea with this project is to discover and leverage the application of multiple units. Im going to unify my forms by their material, shape and their size. From there I will create a few different compositions. Some will be applied to a wall in relief form. Some will be on a table top place and others will free stand 360 degrees in the round. My examples are below, and yes, I had a ton of fun applying a light source when it got darker outside. I suggest that you do the same!
1. A roll of household tape, this could be clear scotch tape, or blue painters tape, or any kind of tape adhesive that will “stick” to itself and other surfaces.
2. A surface to place and build your experiments on. A wall, a table top or an existing object that may have context or contradiction to the form and material, sky is the limit so lets get busy, jump down to the image below.
The technique I applied:
What you see in each image below is a 2 inch piece of transparent tape curled into a loop. I simply repeated this same form at the same size over and over. I built up each arrangement piece by piece. The more pieces (loops) that you have, the more opportunities you have to experiment. Plus, you will need to do some trouble shooting.
Artistic References / Influences:
Tom Friedman, El Anatsui, Antony Gormley, Tara Donovan, Ai Wei Wei, Tony Cragg & Andy Goldsworthy to name a few.
The image above was applied to a piece of white paper and arranged on the surface of the wall. I used a flashlight to add the shadow effects coming from under the piece.
The image above was simply turned 180 degrees and rephotographed. I used a flashlight to add the shadow effects coming from the opposite side of the piece and pointing downwards. Even the slightest alteration of the artworks position can add a dramatic change in its visual interpretation. I really love how this came out!
Here is an alternate camera angle for the same piece as above (ok, but with an additional few pieces that I added). This visual perspective shows the actual height and stacking of the individual pieces (loops of tape).
I applied a light source directly to the image above to capture variations of the lights glare effect. The glare effect almost makes it look like the piece is in motion. This discovery played a role in how I went about the next few attempts at this project. The next few images below are also subtle variations of the same image. What will you do to create some filters and effects using light or the placement of your pieces?
OK, so the image below.. I changed it up. We no longer need to use the table top plane to position our pieces stacked flat on top of one another. In the next series of examples I worked with my piece vertically. Again, light and the perspective of my photos play a big role in the capture of the artwork.
I really love this image! It makes me want to use the image itself as a reference for drawing with pencil. The image below is also a variation but I dont think it is as powerful as the image above, do you?
Im excited to see your results and experiments! Will you work with transparent tape or try another material that may produce a similar result? Either way, please share your work!
Here is an old studio shot from 2003. This image “is” the art and functioned as an installation piece for a mid-semester critique with the graduate committee. I was about to complete my MFA in New Media, Sculpture & Installation from LIU a semester later. A lot of these installations were clearly my visual attempts to show what it “looks like” when one cant hear but is desperately struggling and trying to.
The installations from this whole era were a first attempt at grappling with my disability as a means of advocating for myself and trying to express years of repression.
These were good times as I felt a great freedom and the emerging of a new platform for expression with my work.
Welcome to Paper, Light, Shadow & Storytelling Part 5! Lets make a musical instrument of sorts? Above, you can see my final outcome. I temporarily adhered the artwork to the wall using duct tape. This is a quick fix to apply the art to the wall and take a series of photos. The image above is using natural light from the mid-point of the afternoon coming from the window to the left of it. The piece above places an emphasis on new variation of our last tutorial as we learn how to create variations of height between each individual plane. The individual pieces are layered and composed fro the surface of the table upwards.
Hold up! Did you miss Part 1 & 2 of this tutorial series? See below (Yes I jumped ahead to part 5 here – part 3 & 4 are on the way too!)
Artistic references? Lets do some research: What artists, historically over time have worked with similar processes by composing with planes and or flat 2D forms, and the use of light?
Anthony Caro, Faith Ringgold, Alexander Calder, Kara Walker, Isamu Noguchi, Naum Gabo, Diane Smith & James Turell to name a few. Who did you discover in your research?
Lets continue and take a look below..
As I mentioned, Im referencing a guitar in my minds eye. Or perhaps a mixture of various stringed instruments. I want to make it abstract but also visible enough for the viewer to know it is referenced from a musical instrument. The tools and materials needed are above, with the exception of some cardboard shown below. Im using bristol paper for this piece. It is strong and durable, you will notice how much more structural it is than regular printing paper. Using my x-acto knife I cut out a series of shapes and forms. You can see the basic shape of the guitar’s body above. I cut it in half and cut out a few more forms that had a gesture to either the form of the instrument plus some of the actions used in actually playing the instrument. I know, that part is much more subjective to interpret, plus Im Deaf so it may be different for how you make this interpretation. That is the beauty of art though!
Next, we will need some cardboard. You can take apart a box that you received from ordering something online, or perhaps snag it from your household. Local business usually recycle a lot of cardboard too, take a look and you will most likely find some cardboard quickly. Start cutting pieces into “strips” like the two pieces on the right side of the image above. Then, begin to cut those strips into small squares. About 1 inch per square will do! The small pieces do not need to be perfect squares but should be similar in size as we will be layering them to create “height & gauge”. (Remember, that x-acto knife blade is very sharp, please be careful while cutting).
Cut out a whole bunch of pieces and then get your glue stick ready as we will layer / stack them into multiples of 2, 3 & 4. This will give you some visible examples of how to build your planes (the pre-cut paper pieces above). Glue the squares by adding glue to both side of how they will stack, see below.
Also below is an example of the pieces glued together and stacked. The idea is to create subtle variations in the height of your pieces. This will help create shadows when you hand the piece vertically on the wall.
Next, as in the image below, start placing your stacked squares into strategic spots so that they will support the individual structure of the pieces / planes that you cut out. Play with the compositions, you can test place your pieces before gluing them down, I like to take photos of the arrangements before I glue them, it helps me “see” other potentials.
The image below is to display how the pieces visually create their variations in height. If you make the pieces too high they may become too heavy to support their weight adhered to the piece as a whole. Keep things subtle and close to the surface, it helps and a little bit of gauge goes a long way.
The final outcome is below! I have an old painted fireplace made of bricks in my apartment. It is a great background for this piece as the mix of texture and clean smooth paper seem to compliment each other. Play around with the environments to adhere your work. I plan to add some colorful lights to the art work when it gets darker tonight. I like this piece so much, it has inspired me to push the series forward. Perhaps I will add a figure playing the instrument? Im excited to see your outcomes!
This post is part 2 of the Paper, Light & Storytelling Project – be sure to read Part 1 first 🙂 – go HERE
Welcome to Part 2! Lets add some compelling light to our piece. After cutting and organizing your pieces onto the wall lets talk about options for how they can become radiant, dramatic and full of emotion. Color plays a role in how we connect to feelings, emotions and temperature. So, how did I capture all of these images? What kind of light source did I apply?
Scroll down below and lets see..
I found these little flashlights on amazon.com. Its a 4-pack consisting of a red, blue, green and white light set. It was $20.00 well spent. The lights are really powerful and the beauty of working with the primary colors is that you can layer them and make secondary colors. (example – layer red and blue together and you will “make” purple). Here is the link to that set.
Next, “how” did I set this all up? My next purchase was this flexible table clamp for smart phones. I’m a teacher, and lately, I have been doing a lot of remote and online teaching (as you know) so this was an essential tool to add to my arsenal of techniques. The link to the armature is here. This was $22.00, and again, it was well worth it. Im making a ton of tutorials these days so.. Please note, you do not need to purchase any of these items to capture your work or apply light sources. In fact, I encourage you to be experimental and try out variations with natural light, the filters that come with the “editing” feature on your phones, and to push the limits of the lighting that you have access to. For example, taking a lamp shade off one of your household lamps and pointing it at the sculpture.. Or using the flashlight feature on an old smart phone, or a flashlight from a friends phone. Friends and family become collaborators this way! Most smartphones also have a timer so that they can set up their shot and let the phone do the work. Tripods really can help.
Above, I not set my iPhone into the armature and set the timer for 10 seconds. Those 10 seconds give me time to play with the positioning of the flashlights as they project their light onto the wall. Above, I layered the green and blue flashlights for this capture. I held the green light in my hand and set the blue light up propped on a stack of napkins pointed from the right side of the wall. The distance of the light sources play a role, so have fun with that!
This capture displays the use of the white flashlight coming from the right hand side of the wall. I was relatively close to the wall and set the timer on my iPhone for 10 seconds held on the armature tripod. It is a little over exposed but I like how it brings the texture out of the wall and the gradient of the paper as it appears to diminish.
I removed “one paper element” from this image above, which was an intention of altering the composition subtly, can you tell?
This capture is slightly fuzzy and blurry. This is an example of me holding both the red and blue flashlight and layering the light on top of each other. If you are mixing paint, red and blue will make a value of purple. I had turned off the background lights to maximize the capture. I really like the effect, and wonder if this would “look” more 3D if I have 3D glasses.. which I think I do…somewhere, in some closet..
This image has simply been turned 180 degrees. Does it help the composition work in another way? Do you like it better this way or as you see below? The images below are also variations with over exposures and contrast tweaking using the filters on my iPhone. Have fun and share your work!