Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tree Body!

Ongoing with my fascination of bodies and trees and the space within as well as without a form, here is an update on my in-class book project!

Check out de websitez! :)



Monday, March 25, 2013

Ongoing Project Random Gold //Maybe?

An ongoing project I have been working on has been audio-visually recording the basics in my life (eating, brushing teeth, tying shoes, etc) and compiling them in a very authentic/actual manner to highlight life off the screen. In the process of editing the food portion of my vlogumentary, I came across a clip created by a random girl who snagged my camera. Perhaps it is only entertaining to me as I was present IRL, but, regardless, here is the footage:


Friday, March 22, 2013

What do you see/hear/think/believe?

I only just realized that I have not posted in a few days...

At first glance that seemed bad to me, but I realized it was because over the past few days my posting has been replaced with my interviewing, videotaping, recording, and thinking about things for my final project.

I have been enticed with analyzing, listening to, and working on these videos/recordings I took of my sister, mother, and just the other day, myself, that have to do with anything and everything that could possibly be talked about, thought about, felt, seen, listened to, or experienced in terms of god, religion, spirits, ghosts, life, and belief.

I am so excited to share some of the stuff I have captured with you all!

This first video is one that I took with my computer. I was in Dedham Massachusetts over this past weekend and my sister was talking to my two friends about her experiences. I didn't have any space left on my phone to just record their conversation so I took a video instead, but what I captured (at least when I watched it back over) was much more. Of course, it is up to interpretation, that is, after all, the whole point, the interpretation of the questions I will pose to you through my book.

You should know a few things before watching/listening. 1. The hallway in which I recorded has no windows in it, so there was no other light besides the artificial one in the hallway. 2. My sister and my friend Josh were talking to each other in a nook right outside my sisters bedroom, the computer was right outside my room facing the wall, so they never came near the computer. And 3. at minute 1:49, the light shift is my computer light turning off.

So, in this case, I ask you to watch this short video. Listen to the way my sister describes what she sees with such ease and how my friend Josh responds. Draw your own opinions from what you hear, of course, in terms of if you believe them or not, but also pay attention to what you hear and how that corresponds with what you see. Especially pay attention to the moments between seconds 0:47-0:57, and minute 2:20 to the end.

What do you think/hear/see/believe?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Does Newness Require Rules?

Does what was once thought of the future's look influence what is designed now? When architects design a building that is suppose to represent innovation, were they inspired by what was seen to come by moviemakers? I found the affirmative to be a convincing position given a recent article on LifeEdited that discusses new ecological design. One of the firms interested in such ventures previously produced a design for a building called Kingdom Tower:

It looks to be very reminiscent of cityscapes produced in Metropolis

 and Minority Report:

I could be drawing parallels where no real intention by designers exists, but I think these similarities bring up an interesting question: do we plan according to a plan we've been taught? It's well understood, by most, that people adhere to a set of preferences and expectations, but how many options are really available for satisfying them? And would an awareness of the lack of options constrain or inspire an individual? How does one react to existing within a set of rules/laws/systems, as all humans do?

It may be that the most creative people are the ones who can produce original, interesting work within a set system. This is an idea that relates to the process of book-cutting. A book is a physical object that can only be manipulated in a set number of ways. Yet, everyone in class is able to produce at a minimum of three original solutions to the task. To some degree, we never leave the original form thought up by the author (perhaps like how an architect must adhere to public opinion and physical practicalities of building structures), but looking at these expectations rather as materials than constrictions may produce an original tower (that may nod to all thoughts of building design that came before whether they be fictional or the Empire State Building).

So often artists are made to be afraid of rules and conventions, that they are a threat to creative integrity or homogenize work. But the musicians, filmmakers, and thinkers that we so admire learned what was already done before they produced their own--and often greatest--works. For instance, writing at a certain time or for a certain time each day does not limit the oncoming of inspiring moments where one feels they must write, but it reminds the writer of their craft and that motivation is separate from inspiration. And it prepares them to handle an idea when it comes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bodies as books

For those who don't know, my final project (if all goes as planned) is going to be using my own body as a book.  I plan to show internal structures, using ink on my skin, and I want to incorporate literature into my project by finding a song lyric, a limeric of poetry, a line from a book, something in print that is about the particular body part I've illustrated.  My very generous and talented roommate has agreed to be the grand artiste on this project, as I'm only a humble nursing student with no art skills to speak of.  I will be using henna to print these images on my skin.  Henna will usually stay on skin for at least a week or two, and I like the idea of my project lasting longer than just until the next shower.  The idea is that I will slowly start to print all my images on my skin over the course of a few days, and then present myself to the class, so they can view me in my own body, and at the same time, be viewing my "book".

Since deciding on this as my project I've started thinking a lot more about bodies as books.  I've started noticing more about others' bodies, especially those of patients at the hospital, and seeing what stories bodies tell.  The reason I notice more with patients is because often times people who are in the hospital have a long history of medical problems, and by looking at their bodies, you can piece together their stories without even reading a chart.  Take one look at the abdomen of a patient with a GI problem.  You'll see surgical scars from bowel resections, lap sites (small incisions where laparascopic instruments and/or cameras are inserted for surgery or a view of the intestines), a colostomy, a G-tube (tube that pierces the wall of the stomach and comes to the outside of the body.  Used for feeding.), and often several other miscellaneous scars and tubes and bags.  Even healthy people's bodies tell quite a story.  Just looking at my own body right now, I see the scar from my appendicitis surgery at 13, the broken capillary on my nose from the time I fell out of my dad's truck at age 10, the slightly crooked bottom teeth that I never got braces for, the acne I just cannot grow out of, the ugly purple scar on my breast where I had a cyst removed, the piercing that friends couldn't understand why I got, since it's usually covered up (but it makes me feel happy and empowered), the dozens of moles that have popped up in the last 5 years, the "tan" line from last summer that never completely faded because it was the worst sunburn I've ever had, the love handles that I love to hate.

I think we can all learn a lot about reading bodies like books.  There is always more than meets the eye, but sometimes bodies can tell a fantastic story before the owner of the body even opens his or her mouth.

This is China's oldest living person.  Just looking at this photograph, I can already see such a story that her body tells.  I'd love to see her up close in person.  Her body is an incredible book.

This beautiful young woman who is brave enough to show us what breast cancer has done to her body.  

This Sri Lankan man who looks like he's worked extremely hard his entire life.

I could do this all day but I'll stop.  Bottom line:  I love humans!  

Sorry I found one more that I just had to share!  This guy's face after summiting the highest mountain in North America.

Ok last one I swear!  This African tribal woman's scars are so intricate and intriguing and tell SUCH a story.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

On the Mainstream and Tributaries

Fish swimming down a river are all going in the same direction. We are living beings coasting through existence toward a parallel end--death. Like salmon traveling upstream to spawn and perish, we follow along the routine path toward our final destination.  While segments of this stream may branch off into smaller tributaries and lead to slightly altered versions of the same thing--whether that be landing in a puddle of muck and suffocating in flapping gills or being crushed against rocks or pulled up by fishing nets--we end in death. The destination is fixed and final and only our means of getting there is what deviates on the individual level. Each journey is a story to be documented, although in the end it is the all the same book, just with lightly altered covers. Bound or unbound, we will end up as corpses on the shore and what will we have to show for it? The physical body is nothing in the end and no legacy can be traced into immortality. In order to achieve longevity we need a purpose, a meaningful reason to enjoy the deviations of tributaries. While we may bask in the waves of the mainstream like all the others, we can explore no individual pursuits when too afraid to take the side-stream or downplay those trying to avoid the current by labeling them as 'weird' or 'starved for attention.' We all need a chance to explore and take a side current, whether that be a daily ritual of personal expression or a lifestyle of homemade ambitions. Be sidestream. Not hipster, not flowing into the 'other' mainstream, but deviating into a winding tributary of unknown meanderings. Then embrace the end in open arms.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

more project videos!

Here is another little video I plan on using for my project! From one of my favorite movies!


And a song!


Rooks, Knights, and Bishops, Oh My!

The greatest game of all time garners its beauty not only from the intricacy of its elegant design but from its variety of tastefully styled constructions. Chess derives from several ancient games intended to simulate war across the globe, and each contributes to the miraculous game that we all know and love. Specifically, chess draws its origins from the Indian chaturaṅga—a game containing pieces with similar movements to modern rooks, knights, bishops, and pawns, but called chariotry, cavalry, elephants, and infantry—and the Muslim shatranj—which has many similarities to both modern Western chess and the Japanese variant shogi. After chess was adopted into European culture, it fully became the standard F.I.D.E. (World Chess Federation) version we know today. While the game is an abstraction of war tactics and strategy, the design of its pieces gives it a classic and elegant feel that mirrors the brilliance of thought required to succeed in the game. In this regard, there are quite literally hundreds of variants in existence, which attempt to embody and exploit different aspects of the game and explore its further intricacies, whether that be increasing the number of players, the movements of pieces, or the shape and size of the board. Many of these deviations from standard F.I.D.E. chess are wonderfully amusing, and I strongly suggest exploring them at the Chess Variant Pages.

With so many varieties in existence, it is easy to see the impact chess has on the people subject to its addictive allure. Years are dedicating to exploring and mastering this game, and, as a result, it has become a quintessence of the human condition. At its heart, chess subsists of pure logic and rational thought. In this regard, it tends to employ the left-brain, which is often favored by society for the progression of accomplishment, in war, business, or development. However, while the game is mastered in understanding and applying this rational thought, the display of chess and the environment it operates in allows for creativity to play its part. Ergo, chess sets are some of the most brilliant pieces of art.

Many sets are traditionally beautiful, with hand-carved pieces or glass boards, many of which can be placed on display in homes for the sake of class and esteem. Some sets change the display of pieces, deviating from the traditional Staunton chess set which has been adopted by F.I.D.E. as the standard since 1924. These deviations can sometimes become more concrete, such as using figurines, which are designed as people or animals. Other times, they can become more abstract, such as finding a singular shape to stand for a known piece.

Not only are the pieces greatly altered, but the boards themselves can take on dynamic changes, whether that is scale or direction. There are several “life-sized” chess sets around that involve two to three foot pieces on a large ten-by-ten foot board. Also, the boards can have a variety of different colored pieces, separating from the standard black-and-white checkers. The most original design I have found incorporates a vertical board, where the game is played on a wall-hanging by moving pieces up and down a picture-framed surface.

Many variations of chess exist, from the concept of the game to the design of the pieces and board, but they all mirror the brilliance of the elegant game.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My final project idea...

I was having a conversation with my mom about my sister over break; my sister is what you might call a "medium," she can see spirits and ghosts and communicates with them. As much as I love my sister, and believe that she is telling the truth about the things that she sees, there are times when it is difficult for my logic to latch onto some of the things she says she sees, hears, or feels. I think this has a lot to do with the society we have grown up in. We are conditioned to think that ghosts couldn't possibly be real, that people who see spirits must be a gimmick, and that those who believe in these things are messed up in the head.
In contrast to these thoughts, my mom and I were also talking about belief in God. Both my mom and my sister believe in God and say they talk to him on a regular basis. My mom has even explained to me the first moment she heard him talking to her, saying that it was indeed a male voice and presence, and she knew it was God speaking because what he was saying to her in her head were not her own thoughts.
Society would say that my mom and sister's belief in God was acceptable, but their belief in ghosts and spirits was a joke. Why? How are they so different? Other than the outlook that God is the creator of the universe and ghosts are from this earth. They both go unseen (in most cases), and they both survive on the belief that people have in them. Why are we so conditioned that belief in God is more logical than the belief in ghosts or spirits?...
I want to use some of the ideas I have been developing throughout the semester and combine them to create a feeling, an argument, a question, a challenge. At the beginning of the semester I was thinking about this idea of Precious Images, and had thought of using that idea but with images, sounds, and touches. I still want to use these effects for the presentation of my book because it will give the reader the opportunity to use their senses to form their own opinion, just like my sister, who sees, hears, and feels the spirits around her.
I have also decided to combine the final project and the book project into one, because they just fit so perfectly together. The books that I collected from the Salvation Army were bibles, and I want to use their raw material as the visuals for the project. I am going to continue writing on them, cutting them up, and reshaping them to show that conflicting messages to what the bible says can be found in the bible itself. I am going to probably use the one children's bible I have as the touching sensation for the project...what to be done to that book has yet to be determined. And finally, over break I ended up recording these conversations I had with my mother, and I am going to use that raw material and possible other interviews as the sound for the project.
All of these elements coming together should create a sensation in the reader, one that causes them to question their own beliefs.

Monday, March 11, 2013

new blog post!

Hi guys I know I have taken a "blogging hiatus" for a bit in lieu of Spring Break, but here is my most recent blog post! NEW POST :)

"The Freedom to Connect"

(this is a cross-post from my personal blog)

Since ENG 420 encourages the use of blogging on class material, I think a discussion on the idea of sharing on the internet is natural. This idea comes as a tangent to an earlier post on the fallibility of individuality. By opening up thoughts and a desire to connect online, the conventional sense of ownership may no longer apply. This is something Aaron Swartz, and many others, worked to define so that non malicious users would not be made into criminals. Should my sharing the link to his speech on my own blog post be considered a copyright violation? Some say yes.

Swartz's form of protest, among many other campaigns, was to release publicly funded and purposed academic articles into the public domain.  If the function of information is to teach, why wouldn't educators and thinkers encourage the use of the internet to easily share?

Most do. That's what Wikipedia and Creative Commons is all about. These sites take a leading stance on privatizing information by demonstrating how public access to information leads to more educated, creative people.

Not only does the internet offer a huge way to connect ideas with resources, but it allows for an amazing (and easy) way to organize. Online petitions are a new form of activism, and possibly more effective.

But technological development moves quicker than the laws and legislators we have in place. Attitudes overwhelm knowledge; not understanding a system creates fear both in companies and policy makers who do not embrace the expanse of the internet. It is perhaps necessary that those in charge of defining use of the internet should be literate in its functions. Not only would it make for more engagement between politicians and their constituents, but it would perhaps change their idea that the internet is a scary place. When Swartz defines the influence of the internet on the passing of a bill, it becomes clear that it operates in a truly democratic sense; "it was really stopped by the people, the people themselves."

While Swartz may have violated a user agreement or annoyed the administrators at a college, he was breaking into and establishing what a world with a free exchange of ideas requires. It is best said in a New Yorker article after Aaron Swartz's death, "Swartz’s frontier was not geographic like Thoreau’s, but defined by other barriers unique to our times. His form of civil disobedience consisted of heading into an M.I.T. closet with a laptop, hooking it up to the Internet, and downloading millions of articles from JSTOR, an academic database. Swartz thought information should be free. It wasn’t a major coup, but it counts as a defiant act—and one that made its point, for it was, and remains, absurdly hard for the public to gain access to what academics supposedly write for it."

Does the political reluctance towards the internet come from a class division? Why was this behavior deemed defiant?