This is the website for my Reflections projects at Freestyle Academy. The Reflections unit was the first quarter of Senior Year. In this unit, I wrote two essays in English, a personal essay and a lyrical essay. Through my Personal Essay, I am able to demonstrate who I am and why I am passioante about Design. My lyrical essay, although it is not about me, focuses on the community. I learned how to use poetic narrative as a medium for relating to others and communicating a message. In Design, I made a reassembled photo shot in HDR. Since it was the first time shooting in HDR, I wanted to grow more in my photography skills through this project. In Digital Media, I created a video to display my reassmbled photo as well as a short perspective video. This was the first big project using After Effects after learning the animation and special effect techniques, so I wanted to also grow in video production through this project. Through this website, I display all of these final projects for this unit. To return back to my general projects page, click the Projects button.

Calm water photo

Personal Essay

The first essay is my Personal Essay that I wrote on my passion for Design. This essay was particularily hard for me to write because instead of writing from a spectator view, I am writing about myself. This essay required the most amount of self reflection and study of my own values in order to write this. Through this essay, I was able to explore more of what makes me, me. Here is the text of the Essay:

"I hardly ever memorize street names. Instead, I draw a mini map in my head. In this map, I can see the burgundy horseshoe drapes in the left-hand window of the Mexican restaurant, the dancing topiary in front of the local pastry shop, and the detached purple button that is always sitting on the windowsill of the candy store. As a visual learner, I have spent most of my life relying on sight to understand the world. It was not until I developed an interest in embroidery that I began to exercise more of my other senses and abilities.

I was drawn to the popping sound when the needle breaks through the canvas, the soft slither when you pull the string through, and the organized disorder of colorful thread tangling together. At first, embroidery was difficult for me; holding a thread and needle was so different from using a brush or pen, and it required more action than I was used to. I started out copying patterns to get the hang of it, but slowly I started to create my own. I was using my sight less and less and using my sense of touch more and more.

I became increasingly intrigued by non-visual media. After a classmate’s presentation on Braille, I began learning its alphabet, training myself to rely only on touch to comprehend words and sentences. This was difficult for me because it forced me to ignore my most comfortable sense--vision. How is it that little bumps and rises in paper could translate into ideas and feelings? I soon realized that enhancing my other senses could help me better understand the world and connect to other people.

I began seeking out more ways to expand my sensory capabilities. I asked my dad, an opera enthusiast, to take me to see The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner. Like my father, I was drawn to the elaborate performance. The magnificent stage design, with its beastly sunken ship thrust onto the stage; the striking costumes, gristly and bedraggled like the characters who wore them; and the grandness of the music, ominous and moody at times but not without persuasive beauty and critical force, combined to create a brilliant stage. I was inspired by the way the music, combining with the visual experience, created something superior to either aspect alone.

Design, to me, means creating work that improves accessibility while communicating ideas and aesthetics. My drive to understand the world through different senses and perspectives allows me to better understand how my design will fit into the world and how it can be used by a broader range of people. For a school project on fashion illustration, for example, I made a simple website explaining the basics of fashion illustration and presented a few famous illustrations. My audience presumably knew nothing about fashion; thus, the layout of my website was clean and straightforward, highlighting the colorful illustrations but also reflecting the simple, explanatory theme I was going for. Similarly, when my school dance team needed costume accessories, I took on the challenge. I knew that what I made needed to stand out but not interfere with the team’s dancing. With that in mind, I made colorful bows that could easily be seen from far away, were comfortable to wear, and could be easily taken off and put back on again using a simple clip and elastic.

Design provides me with an infinite terrain to work with. From making web designs more accessible to the blind to designing clothing for people with limited mobility, I hope to use design as a portal to relate to others and produce work that helps a broad range of people."

Lyrical Essay

This next essay is my Lyrical essay, written after reading the book Citizen by Claudia Rankine. Our assignment was to choose an identity focus and write a lyrical essay using Citizen as inspiration. I wrote mine inspired by the struggles my friend faces for being bisexual. Based on my interview of him, I wanted to convey his feelings in a geniune manner that reflects his thoughts and emotions. Below is the ProTools session that I used to record both my Personal Essay and my Lyrical Essay. Here is the text:

"You are in a box. You don’t know who put you here, but everyone put you here. Everyone keeps telling you that you must stay in this box, or move to another box, but you feel somewhere in between. One foot in, one foot out.

You feel like you are at the end of the spring. The tension from your weight pulling down is somehow agitating to others. Make up your mind, they say. People like you are young and confused. You don’t know what you want. This is just a phase.

Your friends are talking about a debate they had in English class on the issue of different genders and sexualities being allowed in certain bathrooms. You feel a sensation like fingernails on a blackboard , but you can’t be angry. You know that would only make things worse.

They are your friends. You know they mean well.

You are at a friends house, and she asks if you wouldn’t mind playing the piano for her. You sit down and play a little bit of what you have been learning recently. Impressed, she says, I would be so attracted to you if you weren’t gay. Because it is easier for them to put you in that one box, you don’t correct them. People generally feel more comfortable when you are in a different box than them. Knowing this, you continue to play the gay best friend people want you to play.

You are feeling sappy, and turn on the TV looking for a soft rom com to fit the mood you are in. Instead you find yourself watching the news. White supremacy in the south. Laughing. Mocking. The hate in the open. The box emptied. You think of your friends conversation earlier that day and wonder if they are watching too.

You don’t end up watching a romcom that day.

Nothing seemed to depict the type of love you were looking for anyways."

Screenshot of my ProTools interface


In Design, one of the features we are learning is how to shoot in HDR. For our assignment, we were to shoot a cool object. I wanted to search for something with a lot of texture and rythym. My first set of photos were of tomatoes and figs, but while I was cleaning up I noticed the interesting patterns in a succulent. I decided to do more shots on the succulent, which is the object I used for my final piece. In photoshop, I edited my image to bring out more depth by altering the highlights and shadows. I also played around with curves and photo filters to make the piece more dynamic. I debated for a long time on how to cut up the image, and decided that simple would work best since there are a lot of intersecting lines and geometric patterns to this image. Click on the image to the left to view my project

Although shooting in HDR was new and difficult, I was able to grow in my knowledge and skill in photography. I found that I really liked shooting in HDR because of the amount of depth that comes out from layering the photos.

Thumbnail of Photo Reassmblage
Click to view my project


Since we are learning After Effects in Digital Media, our assignment was to make a video based on the animation techniques we learned in After Effects to display our reassmbled photography project through an alternate platform. I used new tools such as an animated camera, light, and distortion effects in my video that we learned in class. It was interesting, and definitley a challenge, workgin in a video platform instead of a still image platform. Nonetheless, I valued learning and practicing what I have learned in this medium. I also produced the background music. Initially, I started off the first couple bars reading off of sheet music for IU's "Through the Night". However, I decided to take the chords and make my own melody using it just as a foundation. To the right is my video. Below is my project in After Effects/

Picture of my After Effects interface


To the right is my Perspective video. This video was made inspired by the Perspectives on KQED. It is a short video on a topic of our choice. The speech of this essay was not super official, we simply wrote to get ideas and feelings out. The point is to show a perspective. In my case, I decided to do mine on what it is like growing up East Asian American, and the feeling of being caught between to cultures. This allowed me to get out some of the frustrations I feel and reflect on things that I don't think about formally on a daily basis but are always a part of me. I produced my perspective using Premier Pro. This was only one of the first few times using Premier Pro, so it was difficult getting used to the layout and functions. However, I really enjoyed the ease that it allowed with animating the way that the pictures are displayed to make them more interesting. Below is my Premier Pro interface.

Picture of my Premier Pro interface