Welcome to my Conceptual Website that I created to display all my wonderful work that I created during the Conceptual Unit at Freestyle Academy! In my English class, I wrote various poems and studied Langston Hughes for my poet study. In Design, I learned how to photoshop and used these skills on our Transport photo assignment. In Digital Media, we created videos, music, and even coded this website! Throughout the Conceptual Unit, I learned how to think even deeper and more metaphorically. In all of my classes, I was pushed to think beyond the literal and really dig into the meaning of each piece of art. This type of thinking reinforced as we visited the SF Modern Art Museum. That was probably the biggest value that I learned from this unit. I learned to appreciate modern art and understand that the art is what it is because of the meaning/thinking behind it. Feel free to scroll through the site or use the navigation buttons at the top!
The various poems we wrote for English this year were haiku, free verse, ekphrastic, and spoken word. For information about the haiku poem, I’ll refer you to the haiku page. After the haiku poem, we did the free verse poem. My goal for this one was to explore my concept statement (same as the haiku poem; exploring the feeling of resignation through the experience of preserving memories) in a free verse form of poetry. This meant that our poem structure was whatever we wanted it to be and there were no limitations. I really enjoyed writing in this form. For this poem, I choose to write about my family in Arkansas and the experiences of spending time there growing up. Personally, this was my favorite poem that I made for this unit.
The next poem we wrote was the ekphrastic poem. An ekphrastic poem is a poem in response to a piece of art. The art we choose was to be from our school field trip to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Lastly, we wrote a spoken word poem which is like a free verse poem but it is written with the intent of being performed. For this poem, we were encourage to write a spoken word piece that contained a story with narrative. For this poem, I choose the cliché poem route and I wrote about a girl. I also created a video to accompany this spoken word piece. or the video, the main focus was just the words of the poem. I recorded the audio reading of the poem in Pro Tools and then exported the audio into Premiere Pro. In Premiere, I made various words and phrases pop up on the screen to help add impact to the narrative of the spoken word. Since the main focus was the words of the poem, there is no music or images. I wanted to prevent distraction from the content of the poem. The poem was a story that it definitely took me a little bit of time to take on but I am glad that I did. The assignment forced me to take on this story and finally tell it. Overall, the poetry unit forced to really think deeper beyond the obvious text or meaning of something. It forced me to think metaphorically and I enjoyed this because it often meant that the poetry we read or created was open to multiple valid interpretations. It also taught me the value and effect that various part of a production can have on the overall message of the product. The production of the various poems and their accompanying projects taught me this and also continued the conceptual thinking that we had been working on throughout the unit.
Snakes slither slowly through the corridor
Crispy collars march in line like soldiers
Leather dress shoes march to the energy of the office
Coffee stains match the circles under their eyes
Dark and dismal
Ready for a hiatus
As the tie tightens every morning,
another dream dies,
Lost to the real world.
These words that follow,
echo around the globe in a chant of sorrow:
“You better get a good job”
“Don’t follow that, go to college”
“Do this, do that”
“Be realistic, make sure to have a fall back”
The tie tightens a little bit more each day
Till, suddenly someone's fastening it for you
As your buried with the dreams,
Fire ants crawl through my Crocs,
Sweat swishing slowly along my feet
Squishing with each bountiful step,
Disregarding the gradual sting of the fire ants.
Toys litter the perfectly cut lawn,
Smiles meet the warmth of the summer evening.
The crickets hum to our voices.
Three generations of a family
All in a palace of memories
Sun kissed skin slowly getting tanner,
As the heart of the sky slips lower and lower.
Summer after summer,
Till one generation now stands in a cemetery of memories.
All in Sunday’s best but with more hints of black,
Heads hang low as conversation muffles.
A lady in a crisp suit shakes hands as,
She awkwardly hands the paperwork to the oldest.
A few fire ants are flicked off the paperwork,
As the pen reluctantly does it’s job.
These dotted lines seals the fate of the cemetery
I guess memories have a price.
For the writing of the Haiku poem, we had to randomly select a concept statement for the Haiku and our Haiku had to be based on that statement. My random statement: I am exploring the feeling of resignation through the experience of preserving memories. For the poem we had to take a metaphorical photo that related to the poem and also put the text of the haiku onto the photo. In Digital Media, we created an instrumental to accompany the poem as background music and to also set the mood. To create this instrumental, we had access to a large supply of music loops and we pieced to them together to create our own, unique instrumental. After creating the music, we recorded ourselves reading the poem in Pro Tools. After that, we exported the instrumental and reading together into Premiere Pro. There we created the video that would incorporate all the pieces. Here we added our own text and animated the text. We also did something known as the “Ken Burns Effect”. This is where you slightly move a still photo. All together, we turned a simple poem into a full piece of work with a photo, vocals, and music. From this production, I really learned how the timing of images can really set the mood and message of a product. In the case of my mine, I made the drop of the music and cutting out of the image all tie together to really enforce the final message of the Haiku.
This is a screenshot of Premiere Pro which I used to produce the haiku video.
The reason I choose a skateboard as my object was because of the effect it had on my youth. When I was in elementary school, I was fascinated that my neighbor had a skateboard. So my mom got me one for my birthday. I rode that little Target board to my heart’s content till it eventually worn out. I remember getting my first “real” skateboard from the skate shop at Downtown Los Altos. From then on, I really go into skating and it was how I met many of my friends. I eventually stopped skating about a year and a half ago due to a broken collarbone and haven’t picked it up since. Slowly, most my friends and I stopped skating. Now we never skate. So for me, the skateboard represents an item that very important to my growing up. I really wanted to explore unique angles of this simple object. This is why I wanted to get a side on perspective of the board and wheel because I feel that people, myself included, only look at skateboards straight on. The streaks of sunlight coming through the background were sort of a happy accident. That wasn’t my original intention but it ended up adding a cool effect to the image. I choose to use the shallowest depth of field that I could because I wanted to limit the focus on the background as much as possible. There was a lot going on in the background and I wanted to limit the viewer’s attention to that. Thankfully, it isn’t that distracting. If I had the ability to, I would want to get the same angle and lighting with this shot but with a simpler background.
The big take away that I learned from Photoshop over the course of these couple weeks is that your edits are only as good as your selections. Most of what we have learned in Photoshop so far is based on selections and how you can use these selections. To me, this was fascinating. The possibilities were basically endless as long as you made the proper selections. The same goes for masking. Masking, in some regard, is just another form of edits with selections. For my image, I cropped the image down to focus more of the attention on the board. The original image had a lot more background off to the side. The next thing I did was work on the front wheel. I wanted to apply some of the recent skills we learned in Photoshop in my photo. I didn’t like how the lighting was making the front wheel look so I decided to change it. I used the quick selection tool and selected the front wheel. Then I decreased the saturation of the front wheel. This really gave the front wheel a more natural look to it and made it look less fake. The lighting in the original image, for whatever reason, made the wheel look quite fake and plastic. After this, I used the same selection and inversed the selection as to make it select everything but the front wheel. With this, I increased the hue to give the photo a little bit more blue to it. Then, on the entire photo, I decreased the exposure a little bit because the original was a bit too bright. Overall, I used the skills we learned in Photoshop to add a few subtle changes to this image which holds a lot of nostalgic value to me.
This is a screenshot of Photoshop which I used to produce the Transport photo.
My concept statement for my conceptual assignment was as follows: I am exploring the feeling of resignation through the experience of preserving memories. When I thought of resignation, I immediately thought to the reluctant acceptance of a tragedy or of another unfortunate event. This got me thinking about the dreadful fires that swept through Northern California and the destruction that these fires caused. The homeowners whose houses were destroyed had to, unfortunately, reluctantly accept that their house had been destroyed. I also thought about the memories that people had in these houses that were destroyed. Physical memories buts also intangible memories. I wanted to demonstrate the tragic events of these fires through my concept statement in this assignment. To demonstrate the resignation, I choose to show something that had the potential to do destruction because destruction often forces us to reluctantly accept a situation; as seen with the Northern California fires. To demonstrate the potential to do destruction, I choose to label a rusted paint bucket with a flammable warning and surround it with matches. This creates the potential for destruction to occur and also creates tension. To demonstrate the preservation of memories, I choose to use a Christmas box. The box demonstrates the preservation of memories as many people, including myself, have many fond memories of Christmas. To put the two objects together, I placed the “flammable” paint bucket into the Christmas Box and surrounded it with matches. Then I put the lid off to the side so that the box was open. However, selecting the background was harder than I thought. It took many trials to find the perfect background that also represented my concept statement. I ended up choosing a wooden table as it was a simple background but also fitted the concept about the fires as it represented the wood of the houses that were tragically burned down. I didn’t do much in Photoshop besides cropping and changing the exposure a little bit. I also gave the flammable logo a little bit more brightness to really make it more clear and give it more “pop”. Overall, I believe that with minimalist edits in Photoshop and a simple set of objects, my concept statement was nicely executed.
For the parody music assignment, we had to pick a song and make a funny parody version of the song. For this assignment, I choose a Beatles song because I grew up listening to them as a kid and I know them very well. One of my favorites was Yellow Submarine, so I choose this one. First we had to write the lyrics for the song. Then we had to create the song in Pro Tools by removing the vocals from the original. We did this by duplicating the track in Pro Tools by creating a left and right mono track. Then we inverted the audio on the left track and we moved the right mono track a few semitones to the right. After that, we removed the high frequencies of the track and added boosted the low frequencies to increase the bass. This then gave us a rough instrumental version of the track. After that I recorded my vocals and added a little of reverb on the vocals and the song was done. That was how I created “Tangerine”.
For my Experimental Music, I wanted to try and capture the emotion of heartbreak and the two sides of that emotion. The first part of the song is this slow and sappy song to represent the sad side of heartbreak. I choose very simple melodies so that they wouldn’t “pop” out too much. Along with that, I also choose to use more smooth and lush sounds to continue to create that “sappy” vibe. I created a Hip-Hop style pattern for the drums thought because even though it is supposed to be “sad”, it still has to have some movement to it. What many people don’t think about is that the emotion of heartbreak also has a upbeat side to it too. Even though heartbreak is often sad, it can also be happy. For example, someone may be “happy” from their heartbreak because they can finally do something that their significant other wouldn’t let them do. It isn’t the most commonly felt emotion of heartbreak, but it definitely exists. Hence why the second part of my song has a more “upbeat” techno vibe to it. I used a very simple pop style drums to give it that feel On top of that, I used a fast and quick synth to demonstrate that “upbeat” vibe. To produce the music, I used Pro Tools. Within Pro Tools, I used the plugin “Boom” for most of the drums. For the synths I used the plugins “Structure” and “Xpand”. I make Hip-Hop/Rap beats in my free time and it was interesting to try and capture an emotion in the beat of a song. I usually try and capture an experience but I enjoyed trying to capture an emotion. I look forward to trying it in my own music. It also interesting to learn a new music software like Pro Tools. I really enjoyed the challenge of learning the software.
This is a screenshot of Pro Tools which I used to produce my experimental music.