For this unit, we practiced mostly conceptual art, or art that illustrates a metaphor and deeper meaning. In English class we wrote different conceptual poems, experimenting with different structures and styles, and in our Digital Media class, we used the video editing software Adobe Premiere Pro and ProTools, a music software, to visual our work in English. In addition, we also took and edited photos in Photoshop as part of Design class. The following sections showcase the work that I completed during that time.
For the poetry unit in English, we wrote a haiku, ekphrastic poem, and a spoken word poem. The goal of the haiku poem was to convey a particular emotion, paired with a random action, in a metaphorical way.We all picked a random feeling and action, which were written on pieces of paper and sat together in a container, so we learned to explore ideas, emotions, and actions that we may otherwise not have considered. Some of us also got strange pairings of an emotion or action, so I learned to look at something beyond its face value and think more intrsopectively and deeply. With the spoken word poem, we were given the freedom to choose any topic and write a poem without any restraints. The major difference is that spoken word poem requires special attention to cadence and word sounds, so I experimented with different rhythms and and alliterations in my poem. Finally the ekphrastic poem required us to write in response to work of art, to explore our reaction to it and emulate what the artist was trying to convey in poetry form. When we visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as a class, I selected a work of art that intrigued me and wrote a poem about it.
"Ekphrasis" means a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art. At the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, I found a piece of art that I chose to explore in my ekphrastic poem. The art installation, title Quantum Cloud VIII, was designed by Antony Gormley in 1999, and was a life-size human constructed by welding short and small steel metal sticks together and created the effect of a whole but airy human. The artist said they were exploring space and the fluidity of particles. I admired this concept, so in my ekphrastic poem, I tried to embody the idea of a person who is fluid, in their mental and physical form. They lack basic human components - a face, organs, human tissue - but they clearly represent a human. Rather, this person is moving through the world disguised by the air that flows through it. I also kept the human androgynous in my referencing of the metal person, as I felt this also mirrored the idea of fluidity among beings.
Quantum Cloud VIII,
Like an empty welded machine,
Emerges from a dark and distilled universe.
Thin metal rods held by the air,
No eyes, no face, no heart.
Who recognizes the inconspicuous villain?
shielded by vacant space.
Ze fades in
out of being.
Spoken Word Poem
For the spoken word poem, we were given complete freedom to choose whatever subject we were interested, and there were no constrainsts or structure that we were required to follow, similar to the free verse poem. However, we were instructed to pay attention to the rhythm and sound of our poem, as a spoken word poem should have a special cadence to it. I chose to write about a reocurring event in my life, which is coming home every day to an unkempt, dirty room. I employed alliteration several times throughout my poem, and I tried to create a sense of rhythm by listing the various items in my room.
Free Verse Poem
For the free verse poem, I wrote a poem connected to my artist statement - "I am exploring the feeling of desperation through the experience of watching children play." A free verse poem has no restrictions, so we were able to choose the length, structure, and style of our poem. I wrote a descriptive poem, narrating a picture of two children exploring a decrepid old stone building with disintegrating paper walls and an out of place modern elevator leading to an undisclosed location. Out of wonder and curiosity, the children lightheartedly explored the isolated realm - the tower is described as magical. Yet, it is also old, dusty, and fading, representing their fading childhood. At the end of the poem, the children step on the elevator and leave the tower behind, making terms wit the end of their childhood.
The haiku is a short poem with only three lines, 5 syllables on the first, 7 on the second, and 5 again on the third. In English we were given a random feeling and action and were tasked to write a poem about those two together. I randomly chose "the feeling of desperation through watching children play", so I took on that seemingly strange combination by discussion what it's like to want to hold onto your childhood as you mature and older memories slip away. In addition to writing a poem, we took a photo of something that could stand as a metaphor for the ideas explored in our poem. I chose a mute-colored photo of glasses, as I saw them to be a symbol of maturity, introspective, and losing touch with things important.
In Digital Media, we enhanced our English assigment by creating a simple haiku video in Premiere Pro that showed only the text of the poem and the photo. In this project, we learned how to set up a project and sequence under the right settings, and used keyframes to make different kinds of transitions and effects for the text.
In Adobe Premiere Pro, I imported images and music (from Creative Commons) into my library, and then set them up on the timeline by dragging them into my desired place. Next, I added multiple text layers, one for each new set of text. Finally, I was able to go into the Effects and Controls panels and manipulate the appearance of the text to create different transitions. The two that I used was changing the opacity and placement. To do so, I placed my cursor on the timeline and clicked the watch symbol next to "Opacity", which set a keyframe. At this point in time, I set the opacity to 0%. Then, I moved along the timeline by a second or so, clicked on a new place, and created a second keyframe. For this keyframe, I set the opacity to 100%. Premiere Pro filled in the time between the two keyframes, resulting in a fadin-in effect on the text.
This is a screenshot of Premiere Pro, which I used to produce the Haiku video.
In our design class, we were tasked with taking a photo of a non-motorized object with wheels to explore transportation. For my photo, I found an old, rusty wheelbarrow that I used to own and tried different angles, settings, and lightings, to emphasize the idea of transportation through a photo of the wheelbarrow.
The object of my photo is an older, rusty metal wheelbarrow placed among some dead grass in my front yard. The focus is on the black, tire wheel sparingly covered in light brown dirt that adds some more texture and color to the wheel. The wheel is placed on the bottom left of the photo following the rule of thirds. To the left is visible a semi-blurred background of bushes and trees. The horizon line is about one third from the top of the photograph; so much of the ground is dirt and grass. In addition, I placed the wheel behind a bright green plant growing in the field, to make it seem like the plant was slowly crawling over the wheel as it grew. Only the bottom half of the wheelbarrow is shown; dents, scratches, and rust are apparent. The lighting looks like midday. I used a higher exposure to bring out the details on the wheelbarrow and blur out unnecessary details in the background. The light bounces of the wheel, creating a shiny-edge effect, and light also reflects against the dents of the wheelbarrow. However, the underbelly of the wheelbarrow is cast in shadow, which helps draw attention to the main focus of the photo.
In Photoshop, I made a few simple edits to my photo. First, I cropped it to set the wheel in the left corner, following the rule of thirds. I played around with the saturation, adjusting the color tone and really bringing out the greens. I also increased the contrast to accent the shadows more. I did not have to make many compositional changes, but I did have to erase a white object in the background, which I quickly did using the bandaid tool.
Conceptual Art Production
I am exploring the feeling of desperation through the experience of watching children play.
The soft, black glove embodies desperation, and the swing, constructed with wood and rope, is a nod to the familiar childhood experience of playing on a swing at a playground. The objects are placed so that the hand is pushing the swing, as if attempting to carry those memories forward into the present. The background easily blends into the photo while providing contrast to the hand and swing, and the texture of the gravel adds more dimension to the photo. The cool lighting also conveys the levity of my message, provoking that sense of desperation.
I interpreted my concept statement as the desperation of a person who tries to hold onto their childhood and their past memories as they grow older, and I felt that a hand pushing a swing aptly showed that. Scientifically, the more one remembers something, the more that memory becomes corroded and twisted. Even as this dark hand tries to hold on to these memories, its touch is toxic, making its efforts fruitless. The light versus dark contrast with the swing and the hand represent the innocence of childhood versus the sadder, bleaker steps toward death. In this moment, I try to maintain nostalgia with the swing, a familiar symbol of childhood and play, but the hand adds a level of creepiness, sadness, and mystery.
Using Adobe Photoshop, I increased the brightness and contrast, and made the lighting cooler. I felt happy with the colors of my photo so I didn’t increase the saturation or make any other adjustments. I also added a vignette to the raw photo to draw in the viewer’s eyes to the focal points. Moreover, there was a small part of a gray sock (which I used to stuff the hand), so I made a selection with the lasso tool and filled it with the foreground color (set to black) to edit it out of my image.
Explain the parody assignment. What did you do in Pro Tools to a song and how did you change it?