Back again with another lil’ series of 2D wall relief paper cut-out forms. Both of the pieces below follow the same process and technique. Im really happy with the process and outcomes. Im working on animating them as we speak. I’ll add them to this post later, so be sure to check back! My paintings inspire my drawings, and my drawings are inspired by those same forms found in my paintings. It makes sense that every so often I want to make those forms “pop out” and off the surface of a flat plane. Alas, it all starts with a quick sketch. See below, just a series of light loose free flowing lines take the lead, forward ->
Here we have a dude posing for a profile style portrait. Most likely, this is inspired by the NYC B-Boys from the years 1983 – 87ish. Either way, it’s nostalgia for me. Once the sketch feels good, I’ll break out the paper and x-acto knife. I keep telling myself that one day Ill work with another material other than paper for these works, perhaps wood or metal.. It will happen, I can foresee it for sure, hang in there. Im using a white bristol paper for the cut outs, I believe is the vellum type and not the glossy, but either or will work just fine. I love to cut paper and the whole medium of paper art in general.
Paper cut-outs, also known as paper cutting or Kirigami, is a traditional art form that involves cutting shapes and designs out of paper. The history of paper cutting can be traced back to ancient China and Japan, where it was practiced as a folk art. The Chinese and Japanese would create intricate designs, often featuring animals, plants, and mythical creatures, and use them as decorations for festivals and special occasions.
Using the sketch above, I apply the “map” of the shapes and forms that I see. Sometimes I redraw those forms on the paper that I will cut out, and sometimes I just “draw” with the x-acto knife to recreate the forms. Sometimes, it’s a combination of both of those techniques. There is also a series of “out-take / byproduct” cut outs that do not make the final piece, those can be saved and used for the next piece, obviously!
More history, for context – the art of paper cutting spread to other parts of Asia, including Korea, where it evolved into unique styles and techniques. In Japan, for example, paper cutting was used to create delicate and intricate designs for paper lanterns and screens. In Europe, paper cutting was popularized during the Renaissance and was often used to create elaborate decorative patterns for books and other printed materials. Check the bottom of this post for a list of other artists that work with the medium.
I layer the forms on top of each other to compose the arrangement as a whole, its fun to watch it all come together, in the next phase, you will need some kind of durable tape or you can make little paper forms that can be pasted to both sides of the forms as they stack, this will create the gauge and depth of the piece once it is placed onto the wall.
This is the final composition above, I love it! I used a roll of duct tape to make small cylinder forms that connect the pieces together, the piece as a whole comes “off of the surface of the wall” by about 1.5 – 2″ inches – you can play with this a bit but keep in mind, the tape makes the piece heavier and it will want to comply with gravity 🙂
I hung the piece (also temporarily adhered via the same duct tape) for the photoshoot and to also get a good look at how it will function on the wall. I have an old painted fire place in my studio that is a great surface for hanging things, I love the contrast of textures between the bricks and the paper, as you know, the shadows will be super cool to see too.
Once I had the whole piece constructed I took a few pictures of it. I immediately wanted a clean vector line drawing of the whole character. I brought the photo into adobe Fresco and used a vector brush to draw this lovely variation. This is how my brain works, I switch paths because I know they are really pipelines to the “next thing” that I will push this to, so forward we go. I can see this potentially becoming a new logo for an aspect of my design biz, or at least a new t-shirt in the classic newyawk series
Then, it was light source and photo shoot time. Im not really happy with these picture as traditional “photographs” as I know I can do a much better job, but, as a series of “sketches” for a planned photo shoot, these will really help to make those plans a reality. I love neon colored lights. I have a bunch of them from various places and spaces that I found on the internet. Amazon has a great selection of flashlights with various colored light options. Get a few and play around with how the light can effect your work and the shadows that it creates. This is where the depth and gauge of your pieces play a role. The photos below are also a part of the same session, which all took place over a few days. What do you think? Shall I make more?
In the 20th century, paper cutting experienced a resurgence in popularity as an art form in its own right. Notable artists who have contributed to the art of paper cutting include:
Béatrice Coron: A French artist who has created intricate and expansive paper cut-out installations for public spaces and galleries around the world.
Yoo Hyun-mi: A South Korean artist who creates paper cut-outs that explore themes of identity and cultural heritage.
Hina Aoyama: A Japanese artist known for her intricate paper cut-outs of animals and natural landscapes.
Elsa Mora: A Cuban-American artist who creates whimsical paper cut-outs that often feature fantastical creatures and characters.
Hunt Slonem: An American artist known for his large-scale paper cut-outs of birds and butterflies.
Xiyadie: A Chinese artist who creates intricate paper cut-outs of traditional Chinese motifs and landscapes.
Hari and Deepti: An Indian artist duo who create mesmerizing paper cut-out scenes using layers of intricately cut paper.
Karen Bit Vejle: A Danish artist known for her intricate paper cut-outs that often feature patterns inspired by nature.
Nikki McClure: An American artist who creates minimalist paper cut-outs that often explore themes of motherhood and nature.
Wu Jian’an: A Chinese artist who creates paper cut-outs inspired by traditional Chinese art and mythology.
Welp, if you got this far, many thanks! Much more to come!
The NET-ART 2023 – 2024 academic calendar is now accepting submissions on a rolling proposal basis in the following criteria:
Electronic Media / Experimental Pedagogy
VIDEO ART / Experimental Film
NET-ART (Works created in and displayed in a web browser)
Class / Course Collaboration
Digital & Analog ZINEs
Curatorial (A Curated Group Exhibition)
Related “Otherness” pitched to us
Looking for useful tools, apps & tutorials to get your submission started?CLICK HERE!
Looking for examples of “what” has been submitted previously? Explore here!
The NET-ART Submission Guidelines:
Submissions may be generated by CUNY faculty, students of all levels, alumni & community members. CUNY classes/courses may also submit collaborative proposals as a group. CUNY faculty & students may also collaborate with others from outside of CUNY as well.
All submitted works will be featured and published as individual blog posts as well as added to existing galleries on the NET-ART website.
Depending on the submission’s proposal, relevant and in context, various submissions will be published and exhibited as an individual page created specifically for the project.
All submissions should be described in written detail with a clear vision, context and meaning. Supporting images and links should be provided as well.
Authors of the submissions and their collaborators must be willing to participate, respond to comments and expand upon their projects with incoming queries via the commons, twitter and beyond.
The purpose of exhibiting submissions in various categories displays a platform for creative and experimental methods of pedagogy. Please consider how your work will contribute to a larger whole that will be archived for teaching, learning, reference and posterity.
We anticipate your submissions!
Question, Proposals & Submissions can be sent via e-mail or via Twitter to:
“Digital art is an artistic work or practice that uses digital technology as part of the creative or presentation process. Since the 1960s, various names have been used to describe the process, including computer art and multimedia art. Digital art is itself placed under the larger umbrella term new media art.”
What is YOUR creative potential in relationship to an image or images that you feel connected to?
How can intuitions, feelings, philosophies and or inspiration play a role in image-making?
You do NOT need permission to experiment with digital image making / digital art, so let’s get to it!
The academic commons is a perfect example of a platform (WordPress) that both supports and compliments image based content. File formats like .JPG or .PNG work well here! Let’s begin our reign of creative image-making and take over!!
LETS MAKE SOME DIGITAL ART!
We will experiment with some great “Free to Use” Digital Tools:
*I pre-prepared a series of transparent graphic assets that you can download and use for this, but feel free to make and discover your own, especially if there is specific context to your ideas. Here is the shared folder link:
Places to find Images online – Creative Commons based:
Pixabay.com – great resource for images and transparent assets! (we will use this for the workshop)
National Gallery of Art With the launch of NGA Images, the National Gallery of Art implements an open access policy for digital images of works of art that the Gallery believes to be in the public domain.
Digital Public Library of AmericaThe Digital Public Library of America brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world.
NYPL – The New York Public Library Digital Collections Archive
Ah, the speed and the beauty of the Internet! The Internet will always find out, and the Internet will compel you to share! Less than a week ago I was “woke” to mmm.page by my fellow colleague, collaborator, mentor and friend; MBS, aka Michael Branson Smith! MBS has an amazing acute radar for discovering all kinds of new creative digital tools! He always finds them first and so graciously alerts me right away! This past Wednesday he did this with mmm.page! He shilled me an example of what he created using his mobile device, I was impressed and activated! I jumped right in. I signed in. No password needed, just input your e-mail address and wait for the link to verify – that is all that is needed. Within 2 minutes I was in and creating…
I became reflective, immediately. A lot of digital artists and educators like myself may recall Net-Art creation sites like “newhive” and “to.be” back in the late 2010 – 2015-ish years. Those platforms were super cool for the time, purely web browser dependent, Net-Art making machines that pushed the context of the tool so far ahead. Both platforms created huge communities and produced a lot of new artists, art stars, web browser enthusiasts and educators. The creative potential of the web browser continues to excite me. The truth is, if you build it, they will come, mmm.page has brought this ability and energy back! I have been literally looking for something like this since both newhive and to.be vanished.. I know a lot of other artists, designers, educators and creatives also feel this way too. Bottom line, the site invites your energy, awesomeness and creative immediacy. Let me says that again, creative immediacy. Creative immediacy is the action that is taken once we become inspired and mmm.page is a bolt of lighting in terms of creative immediacy.
The site is for everyone! Of course I am speaking and sharing from my own personal interests, examples and awareness of how I want to use the tool, but, thats just one perspective. The tool can easily be used for digital art making, but more importantly to make beautiful websites of all kinds, and to expand the context of what a website is and can be. Plus, just how much creative control we have with in the web browser space itself. This is also a creative license to develop a digital identity! (And, we may create many!) This excites the hell out of me. The creator of mmm.page is called “xh”. xh -is a super cool person who is community oriented and has allowed for me to begin infiltrating the platform 🙂 I immediately reached out and made a connection. I love supporting new projects, participating and making new friends. Its always fun to connect with like-minded awesome peeps who want to make and share utilitarian tools that can help others. Cheers to xh!
This post is just part 1 of the many that I feel I can write about mmm.page! Im excited to bring the site’s capabilities back into the realm of teaching and creating a series of both individual projects and collaborations between students, faculty and campuses. And of course I hope that MBS will participate! (I know he will!) Im also excited to develop a new body of digital art works using the site and meeting new people in the community.
The first thing I did with mmm.page.. I applied MBS’s tip, I made a piece and shared it immediately as a part of guest talk and workshop I gave with CUNY Graduate Center students. The students were asked to use the site and jumped right in! – You can see that post here! (the results from the workshop are still flowing in as we speak)
I then got busy creating, playing and generating the examples below:
Here is the first series of my experiments made with mmm.page
(click each URL and take a tour – most pieces are made via the desktop version but the last two links were made via mobile)
Do you like what you see above? Great, I thought so! Now, below you will see how things can be expanded upon further. The images below are full page screen shots taken with “GoFullPage” which is a free google chrome web browser extension that allows one to, well, get a full page screen shot. You can save the screen shot as a .PNG or a .PDF file. I began doing this with my mmm.page creations and then opening them in Adobe Illustrator to live trace them into vector files (I know, fancy fancy). As you know, vectors are scalable, you can make them and use them as small or as big as you wish, and they print really well too. So, mmm.page became both a creation and teaching tool as well as a catalyst to push things further. And of course adobe illustrator allows for infinite recoloring potentials.. Perhaps these pieces below will become 1/1 edition NFTs? Hmmm, lets see.. In the meantime, scroll below. PS – I may re-use these as background image settings for my next mmm.page creation. (fist bump)
Many thanks to Luke & Lisa, and the ITP students for having me!
I thought that writing a blog post here would be both timely and fun for this talk. It might be full of typos, those happen, haha, they can always be fixed 🙂 This post serves as an example and a potential to create and expand the overall synopsis, dialog, resources, feelings, philosophies and of course necessary contextual links! I hope through our interaction both here and during our talk that it will inspire you to create a playful, collaborative project for yourself, for this class that you are in, for the ones that you are teaching, and also with me here on the Net Art site! This is an inclusive, accessible and safe public space for all.
After our talk, be sure to scroll down to the “Reflections & further Pondering” part at the bottom of this post to share your thoughts. No pressure of course 🙂
Words like “playfulness, play and fun” are and have always been an essential parts of my teaching and learning practice. I directly extract the physical energy and emotions that these words activate with in me. I visually connect those feelings to bright sunshine. I connect playfulness to an overall lighthearted and open demeanor that can be applied to almost anything. It’s reflective to childhood and the wonders of learning, creativity and intuition. Playfulness is such a great form of expression as a medium. It sets an open invitation to access rapport. We can help each other learn this way, it is a passion of mine and Im not going to stop anytime soon 🙂
(Above – “Communication” – finger-spelled hand-shapes in American Sign Language)
Everything comes down to Communication. We all want to be loved, appreciated, heard, understood and included. I believe that this is our greatest life’s work, to learn how to best and fully communicate from the inner knowingness of who we are. Of course this is a journey through our constant growth of challenging our life experiences and how we reflect on them. Communication is our birthright and we all must tell our own story.
And then.. the Internet shows up..
Links for Context and Usefulness
(Feel free to use, remix, hack and expand upon anything here)
An Agent of Accountability – A Digital Storytelling Prompt
*Assignment prompt – Create and apply digital imagery to exercise, express and extend a metaphor
(this post is my example)
An agent has manifested from with-in you. You are fully responsible for creating and bringing the agent forward. You might not understand what that means just yet, but you will. The agent is made out pixels and rasters. Each pixel is recordable and programable. They each hold a unique series of your emotions, behaviors, interactions and potentials. The agent lives completely on screen and is co-dependent on your device usage and screen time. You thought that you could hide behind the screen, potentially conceal your identity, remain anonymous, and a mystery… but the agent knows otherwise. The agent is here for accountability.
The journey begins from here.. please scroll down.
This image above was seemingly the first recorded visual iteration of the Agent. It’s meta data has been corrupted and continues to be untraceable.. there is also evidence of the original file reconfiguring itself by single characters just to jam the reading/extraction or processing of the information for testing.
A visualization was created above to show “how” the agent entered the Internet grid. The simulation suggests that it was through an open port glitch. This is a vast statement as the range of “open ports” are extremely infinite as uploads and software updates take place around the clock, server to server, port to port. There is an unproven theory that agents can and do enter the grid from simple plug-in updates via the open-source platform, WordPress..
The image above is the most current image that continues to manifest in multiple places. Although there continue to be iterations, much like the two images below that were discovered in late April, 2021. The origin of the iterations are still speculative and only educated guess’s continue to surface with little to no real science based data as to why. What do the iterations represent? Why are they needed? Are they metaphors for pressing / avoided inner demons and issues? Are they there to continue to remind us that we are in a loop? We will continue to follow the process and keep you updated..
Been at it again.. those tensions between wanting to make more digital art work versus making more analog based art work. Its weird to use the word “analog” instead of “applied” but I guess they are really similar. Allow me to elaborate. I always want to learn. Its an obsession and an addiction. Its a good addiction though, and the word addiction is probably over used in this context. I became aware that computers were a tool for making art as far back as 1986. The fact that I could learn to write a simple program that would visually display the action of repetition was all I needed to know, really. Well, and to see as well to understand “how” this new tool would help and forever change the way that art can be made and communicated. The word repetition is one of my favorite “principles” of art and design. The process of repetition can easily be displayed as a pattern, or a series of patterns, just like physical actions and behaviors can be observed and recorded as patterns. MEMEs are also patterns and have roots in psychology and behavior. So, do a little bit of math in your head and think about how this example effects you? Repetition in behavior eventually equates to practice. Sometimes this “practice” is totally intentional and we do it with awareness and other times, well, we unconsciously engage into the unconscious practice of behaviors that also equal patterns that may not be great for us.. but what about process based patterns of techniques?
The image above is a constructive, addition based relief sculpture made from found and recycled wood scraps. Each piece was found, accumulated, saved and later arranged into this composition (wood glue held it together at the time.) The image is taken from a bird’s eye view to help give the impression that the piece is flat (the bird’s eye view is me standing on the table with the camera.) The photo itself creates the overall two-dimensional impression.. (the actual sculpture has been dismantled and released back into the ongoing scrap bin graveyard of an ex-sculptors memories…) as I write this, I find it curious that I mainly documented the piece in this way. What did I for-see or know about this pieces legacy back then subconsciously? This is an image of the completed sculpture on the wood-shop studio table, before it was exhibited a few weeks later.
The actual sculpture was created in 2014, exhibited 1 time in public and then stored in my studio along with a few other similar works. OK, I actually made a ton of pieces in this similar process, style and technique, Ill dig them up soon again, and if you know my work, you can see where the latest paper sculptures come from. Lets face it, light and lighting plays a big role in the capture of images, and in this case, both images are not great examples of the sculpture in good light. But the placement and displacement of the piece hopefully helps the viewer to see some of the potential of where the idea evolved to and from. The piece looks very different against a plain white wall with a light source applied to it.
I rediscovered the 1st image recently (because I finally zipped, exported and downloaded my entire tumblr archives.. 3.9 Gigs worth..) and opened it in adobe photoshop. I got excited. I used the pen tool to create a series of paths that traced around the outside contour line of the sculpture’s form and image as a whole. I converted the paths into a selection and copied it and pasted it back into the original image as it own layer. I scaled it down by 60% and rotated the image 45 degrees counter clockwise. Wallah! This is the outcome above. I suppose it was the tinkering with this image that helped me see the potential of how I could extend my experiments with this piece, which now had become completely not only two-dimensional but also existing purely as a very flat digital file. The image above activated the energy, I knew I must take further action!
Above, the 2021 outcome! Well, #1 for now – I got really curious and began to see the potential of another tool, my old friend, the ink-jet printer! I dusted it off, thanked it for its trusted service and loaded it up with some glossy paper and began printing out the form that I cut out and re-mixed into the first image. I cut the image up into fragments and pieces of different scales and covered each piece with clear packing tape. I also left a stroke of white to contour each piece that I cut out, I think it helps! The tape, this was just in case I wanted to plant a few up in the street here in my neighborhood, which is always fun to do. The tape helps protect it for a while from the elements.. and also keep its form in tact. Plus, it gives the image the appearance of a sticker or decal. I made this arrangement above. The piece has some gauge too, it pops off of the surface of the wall at about 2.5 inches. The entire thing is adhered with thick gorilla duct tape on each piece. Duct tape is very temperature sensitive so when the temp in the room changes, things will shift and move a bit. I like how that fuses together with the fact that each piece is just printed paper with clear tape over it. The seemingly “cheap” medium tricks the eye into thinking this is something much more like wood, does it not?
Above you can see how the piece integrates itself into a few other works on my studio wall. The piece to the left is a figurative arrangement made in a similar way using bristol paper and duct tape and the portrait is a digital manipulation made from some data-bending techniques (that portrait image also has a layer of clear transparent packing tape on it.) I think that the clear tape actually adds another layer of saturation to the printed image. I think this picture helps give an impression of the overall scale of things too. Perhaps these pieces all kind of work well together too..?
This is a larger detail of the data-bent portrait. It contains several layers that have been manipulated in photoshop. I feel that it looks OK as a digital image on screen, but there is just something so nice about the over saturation feel of the ink jet print quality that just seems to help the overall aesthetic of this. Of course I am biased as the creator of it.. haha. Will this piece make the NFT cut? Perhaps? Lets see what it led to below.
The image above follows the same idea as the wood piece up at the top of this post. This is also an ink-jet print out that I cut up into fragments and covered in clear packing tape. I used loops of duct tape to hold the pieces and parts together onto the wall. It helps that wall is also made of painted brick and that its pretty old.. vintage aesthetics man.. When I first made this piece I felt that it was really missing something and or was just too busy for the eye to follow, but my IG peeps seemed to love it and also supported the piece as it was, and I don’t mind being wrong at all! I love it now, and its good to share where the original came from as this piece was purely digital at the start, made in 2017 and never printed or displayed off of a “screen”. See below.
The moral of this story, there is definitely a lot of value still in print, remixing and reviving older works. We have repositories of images from our own work.. Especially for works that are purely digital and for works that are purely applied. Seeing the work in the opposite context creates a good tension that will usually result in the making of new work! The work may surprise you more than you think! OK, so now Im off to make some 3D models of these for Virtual Reality :))))
(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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 – email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wait, what exactly is a portfolio? There seems to be a context…or is there?
Let’s define it, and perhaps there is metaphoric value and context in each one of these “traditional definition” examples below..
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:
Definition of “portfolio”:
1: a hinged cover or flexible case for carrying loose papers, pictures, or pamphlets
2: from the use of such a case to carry documents of state: the office and functions of a minister of state or member of a cabinet
3: the securities held by an investor: the commercial paper held by a financial house (such as a bank)
4: a set of pictures (such as drawings or photographs) usually bound in book form or loose in a folder
5: a selection of a student’s work (such as papers and tests) compiled over a period of time and used for assessing performance or progress
Hold up, whoa! I can already feel your inner physiological triggers sending a bright red waving flag to your ego saying: “but making a portfolio is sooooo much work!”.
LET, AND ALLOW FOR THIS HAPPEN!
It is perfectly normal and alright to let your “old-portfolio-definition-self” bleed out. Exercise that energy. Let’s release it. Ill wait….Take a breath, and let’s remind ourselves that things need to be replaced and upgraded. Nothing is static. We learn, we grow, we expand and we can’t allow past experiences to drive the bus on new opportunities and new ways of seeing, experiencing and re-defining things.
The word “portfolio” is not a bad word. If anything, like anything else, it’s a default term that officially requires your interaction, research, resonance and re-defining within context to who you are and who you are becoming in the process! With that said, let’s think about what the next step is in creating your new portfolio.
Let us understand the “why” part. Why do I need a portfolio? What is the purpose?
Here is a short list (feel free to add more to your updated definition)
To showcase a body of your work. This is obvious, but curating and organizing things with intention becomes very specific. It activates a higher level of awareness and attention to the process / project. You will learn how to get selective, and this takes practice.
2. To show off your strengths, creativity, skills, effectiveness, efficiency, enthusiasm and passion! Of course, this energy translates directly through the work included in the portfolio. This will be what you believe is your best work at the time, but there is context. Keep reading.. (PS – it’s OK to have more than one portfolio to help showcase various bodies of works and projects.) For example, I’m an applied artist, a digital artist, animation-maker, graphic-designer and a professor of art and design. Some of the works in my portfolio can overlap in theory but I keep a lot of the works separate to subject, but enjoy showcasing them together on my website. That’s right, my website is my portfolio. In fact, I have created a few, the links are below to help.
3. Display your process and evolution. Duration is your friend! Nothing shows off progress better than time. A metric of growth shows itself through time. When I look back at the design work I was doing 10 years ago in comparison to today I see an incredible difference in skill, technique, taste and where my thinking and focus was at the time. I also find a lot of ideas that can be pushed and expanded upon with more with my “awareness-of-growth eyes.” I write a lot about my work and share my process. I believe that this helps me reflect and explain myself better.
4. Stand out and show your style and authenticity – There is only one “you” that you can be. Yes, we certainly learn and are greatly inspired and influenced by others, but at the end of the day we must learn how to be our authentic selves. We must learn how to translate that through our mediums of choice. How will you do this? The short answer is through consistent experimentation and practice. Over time you will create your inner curator, and that part of yourself will begin putting pieces together in groups and compartments. The process will build and flow. This aspect is a journey and it too is anything from static. I take great interest in making changes, learning new things and applying them to the foundations that I continue to build.
OK, all easier said than done… or is it you ask?
I hope that this post will inspire you to begin! Be patient with yourself. The goal is not to create a portfolio in one hour, and there is no such thing as “perfection”. or the perfect portfolio. Let’s produce a result and discuss that result. Be generous with yourself in the process.
I admit it. I love to experiment, test, tweak, deconstruct, remix and repeat processes. I treat the creation process of such a task, creating a new portfolio, the same way that I approach making art. Suspend your judgement! Allow yourself to “make something that may really suck” as a first iteration. This is crucial to developing a contrast of your own. Again, you need to produce a result in order to make an assessment about the result. Until you do this, your contrast is someone else’s stuff / thing that has inspired or affected you.
I would like for you to consider both of these portfolio building and displaying options below. Im a huge fan of both the Academic Commons and the OpenLab platforms. (If you are reading this and are not a part of CUNY somehow, then you can easily follow along individually as both the commons and the OpenLab are powered by WordPress.) Using your own self-hosted WordPress based website and account via ReclaimHosting.com – I have created a sample and template / example using both the Academic Commons, OpenLab and my own self-hosted projects that go into the process. I consider all of these links below to be portfolios. Perhaps you have a preference over one or the other? I hope that these links below will help you get started.