Six Image Memoir (as digital story)

During some discussions over at the Making Learning Connected MOOC about this week’s Make Cycle of a Five Image Story, I wondered aloud about whether another variation might be a Six Image Memoir, inspired by the Six Word Memoir idea.

I decided to give it a try, using Adobe Voice to create a digital story. I am happy enough with how it came out, but I don’t think it came out as a story — it was more of a list of personality traits and roles I have in life, so I am still wondering how this might work better to tell a narrative of a memoir. I mulled over whether I needed to have any text, and I decided, it needed it for context (another discussion point going on this week with using images to tell a story.)

You will also notice that I used info-art, not real images, and that was a purposeful choice in that I wanted consistency of tone and composition across the six images. Maybe I will do a variation where I find images to represent the six traits.

What about you? What would your six images be?

Peace (in the memoir),
Kevin

 

From Macro to Micro: The Forgotten Truck in Five Images


I’ve had the Storehouse digital storytelling app on my iPad for some time now — it was touted as the next wave of digital storytelling, from a design standpoint — and I am just now getting into figuring it out, thanks to the Make Cycle for the Making Learning Connected MOOC that has us telling a story in five images. My story is about a toy truck that I picked up at a tag sale for my oldest son (now 16) when he was three years old. It had its days as the main truck for all three boys, but now sits in rusty retirement behind our fire pit.

I can’t seem to find a reason to get rid of it. The truck comes freighted with memories.

So, for my five image story, I decided to try to pan out (with a panoramic app) to capture the entire back yard (macro), and then slowly zoom in (micro) to the truck in its hiding spot. I resisted adding text to the project, although I feel as if it probably needs it for context.

But I will let it stand as it is, and say that more playing with Storehouse has yielded a very powerful story that I will share tomorrow. You’ll be pretty amazed at it, I think.

I also added the five images into flickr. I like the Storehouse version better.

From Macro to Micro (Forgotten Truck)

Speaking of story, I missed the entire online discussion yesterday with CLMOOC folks about the nature of storytelling and the question of “what is a story?” that has framed inquiry in the community lately, but I did create this little Tapestry to make a point about collective storytelling.

Peace (in five),
Kevin

In Praise of Silent Picture Books

The most recent Make Cycle for the Making Learning Connected MOOC is all about visual storytelling, with a focus on what is known as the “five image” story – using only visuals to relay a narrative. I’m still mulling over where to turn my camera lens, but it reminded me of how much I love “silent” picture books (or wordless picture books) where the story is told entirely in illustrations and art — no words.

One of my favorite writers/illustrators of this genre (is it a genre? Subgenre?) is David Weisner, whose books are so fun to read and explore and consider, and the absence of words is a brilliant stroke of creative expression, drawing the reader into the mystery of the stories themselves.

Read his picture book, Tuesday, or maybe Flotsam, and you will be hooked. Someone even made an animated version of Tuesday that is fun to watch, although I prefer the silent, page-turning book better.

By the way, The Arrival by Shaun Tan, is another outstanding story told entirely in pictures. It’s a powerful tale worth viewing/reading. Here’s an interpretation of that book:

Two graphic novels that my sons have loved over the years, and I do too, also tell a narrative in silence, and both are excellent stories. These two are Robot Dreams and  The Adventures of Polo.


So, given the CLMOOC idea of telling a story in five images, how can you write one of these kinds of books?

Of course, there is the traditional ways (pull out your artbook and get drafting) and there are ways to use technology to do it, too. Storybird is one site that is worth exploring. Here, you use artwork that the site provides to create books. While most users add words to tell the story, you could just sequence a series of illustrations to do a silent picture book.

I went in this morning and created this book — Dreaming of Something Better — and I admit, it was a bit of a struggle to tell a wordless narrative in five slides, with artwork that I did not create myself (although if you ever saw my artwork, you would be thanking me for sparing you). You both lose some agency as a writer and yet, you gain something, too. Stories of all sorts take place in your head as you look at the array of artwork. Inspiration has to come from digging around the bin of art.

What stories will emerge?

In this short picture book, I was going for a girl who feels left out of her family and sits in her room, dreaming of escape. The last frame/page in the story is key, as the artwork is an entirely different texture and feel, so that the shift represents the dream not the reality. If I had one more frame, I would have tried to show her back in bed or with a book. But I think it works as it is. (Or did I ruin it by explaining it?)

wordless book

Interestingly, Storybird normally allows you to embed the books in other sites, but it did not like that I didn’t use any words at all, and so it closed down the embed ability. Hacking Storybird?

What can you make?

Peace (no words needed),
Kevin

 

Reflecting on the Lights in the Attic

glowdoodling

This “selfie” was taken using an intriguing online application out of MIT called Glow Doodle. The site tracks light in a slow motion way, giving you the sense of light moving across the image. I kept hoping it would create  video — sort of a like time-lapse exposure — but all I could figure out was to screenshot it, and get an image file. (I am holding a flashlight here, if you are wondering what is generating the light). I also included a musical interpretation of Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic poem.

This past week, at the Making Learning Connected MOOC, a group out of Philadelphia that works with youth — Maker Jawn — facilitated activities and discussions around the theme of “light” and how light can inform a story. It’s been intriguing, as always, to watch what people do with an idea, and how — just like light — the idea can get bent along different creative frequencies and then shown on the virtual wall for all of us to see. The result has been poems, shadow videos, paper circuitry, and more. I worked to create a collaborative constellation/star chart project, complete with origin stories of new constellations, and I think it came out pretty neat.

CLMOOC StarChart Complete (1)

I also was trying to work with audio, in relation to light. I know this sounds rather contradictory, but I felt it was important for me to explore this contradiction. The question I wondered about: how can we represent light by using nothing more than audio? Two projects emerged from this inquiry stance. First, I created a soundscape story of a day from sunrise to sunset, with the light of the day being the stopwatch. Second, I converted the star chart that we created into an audio file, using a program that takes the pixels of a picture and converts those data points into sound. Listening to “light” gave me another angle on which to consider light, and it was an intriguing experience.

Light Rock
(I have been creating webcomics during every CLMOOC Make Cycle … just because ..)

Interestingly, some of the struggles with the theme of “light as story” has led to discussions about what our concept of “story” really is, and that discussion will feed into a Google Hangout this coming week. When I mull over some of the best elements of the CLMOOC, it is exactly those kinds of inquiry. What is “story”? I’m still thinking about what this means as a writer and as a teacher of young writers ….

 

And a little bonus, as I worked with my son in the Garageband App to create a CLMOOC song, of sorts.

Peace (in the light),
Kevin

Viewing the CLMOOC Constellation Chart

As we start to think about the last Make Cycle at the Making Learning Connected MOOC and begin to reflect on the past Make Cycle with its theme of “light,” I wanted to share out the final Constellation Map that was created with collaboration this week. I opened up the night sky for people to come in, draw constellations and share out origin stories. The result is pretty interesting. I decided to use our own friend, ThingLink, to share the CLMOOC Constellation Map because I could easily layer the stories on the map itself.

Here it is. Lean back on the dewy grass and gaze up at the night sky. Imagine your own stories. Create your own constellations. Play with light and dark, and the way they come together:

Thanks to everyone who participated by playing with the stars and writing a story. It was a blast.

Peace (in the sky),
Kevin

What Light Sounds Like (Turning Image to Audio)

CLMOOC StarChart Complete
Now this is cool … as part of my exploration of audio and light with the Making Learning Connected MOOC this week, I stumbled across the idea of taking an image and converting into an audio file … quite literally. I’ve been trying to find some easy software to do it for my Mac, to no avail, and instead, went to my PC netbook with some freeware called AudioPaint that only works on the PC.

This what it says about the process at the AudioPaint site:

A picture is actually processed as a big frequency / time grid. Each line of the picture is an oscillator, and the taller the picture is, the higher the frequency resolution is. While the vertical position of a pixel determines its frequency, its horizontal position corresponds to its time offset.

I took the collaborative Star Chart that we have been constructing in the CLMOOC and put it through AudioPaint and then moved my way into Audacity. Check out what the file looks like in wave form:

star chart audio wave

Wow, right?

Now, take a “listen” to the image of the CLMOOC Star Map.

OK. I tinkered a bit with the file and added a little narration under the file. Not quite subliminal, but getting there.

🙂

Peace (in the sound of light),
Kevin

 

 

Soundscape Story: From Sunrise to Sunset

Sunrise 2014-07-06 1
I’ve been challenging myself to do something around the theme of “light” this week at the Making Learning Connected MOOC, using only audio to tell a story. I failed at it many times. It turns out that telling a story completely with sounds is pretty difficult, even with the experience I had doing this with DS106 earlier this year. I had one story idea of someone wandering through a dark house, lighting candles. I had another one with an alien invasion. They didn’t work and those stories were abandoned.

Finally, I realized I should stay simple and soulful …. I should create a soundscape story of a day that begins with the light of sunrise and ends with fading into sunset, as told from someone reading a book. The audio becomes the story the reader is reading. I still had troubles here. I struggled with how to represent parts of the day in audio only, and then realized I could use church bells ringing out the hours as a sort of anchor point for the listener.

All the sounds come from Freesound.org, where people openly post and share out sounds they have recorded.  Just know … I didn’t record any of the sounds. I pulled them together in Audacity editing software to produce the story, so I am appreciative of the Freesound users for sharing their sounds with the world. (See list of credits at the end of this post of the audio files I used)

You will hear an odd sound near the end of the story. This was created by someone using a software program that turns a bitmap of an image into audio wave files. The image he used is of the moon. So the sound is of an audio interpretation of a picture of a moon, if that makes sense. I want to dig around for that software program, because I think it has possibilities for storytelling, right?

I can’t say I am completely happy with the results of From Sunrise to Sunset, and I am left wondering: Does the story drag on? Does it capture the splendid beauty of morning as light hits the world? The liveliness of the day as we move about under the sun? The slow settling of the night as the Earth turns away from the sun? Is light even really a theme, here? Or just an artificial storytelling construct? You know, I got questions for myself.

Sunset in Tazacorte

I am making the soundscape story downloadable for anyone to remix, as part of the ethos of the CLMOOC.

Peace (in the story of light coming and light going),
Kevin

Sound Clip Credits:

  • Pages of Book Turning 1 and 2
  • Church Bells ringing at noon and 6
  • Sound of the moon
  • Rooster in the morning
  • Dusk insect sounds
  • Daytime street sounds

Reinventing the Night: A Star Chart/Constellation Collaboration

star chart
With the theme of light this week at the Making Learning Connected MOOC, I have launched an invitation to people to help me create a new set of constellations, and origin stories, in the night sky by opening up four “star charts” that I have created in Google Drawing.

Anyone can come on in and add some star clusters and then write a short origin story. I hadn’t thought about it until Amy did it, but adding the story right into the Google Drawing as a comment makes great sense. I wrote out instructions and the four star charts (north, south, east, west) are open and editable by anyone.

Check out the instructions on how to add to the star charts

Or go to the charts:

You come, too. Add some stars. Make a constellation. Write your story. Collaborate with points of light.

Here is mine:

clmoocius spelledoutius

In the north sky, in mid July of 2014, the giant Makers of the Universe gathered together and noticed that on the small planet below, the Earthians had relied so much on consuming that they had forgotten creating. The Makers of the Universe decided to send a sign to the Earthians, something to help them remember that their hands were designed to make things and their minds were designed to invent things and solve problems, and the #CLMOOC constellation was born. The Makers of the Universe moved the stars into a cluster, confident that with the light of the CLMOOC shining down on the planet, a movement would be born and inspiration would be found. And it was so.

 

Peace (in the sky),
Kevin

Considering Light and Stories

nightsky
The theme for this Make Cycle at the Making Learning Connected MOOC is all about “light” or rather, storytelling with light. It will be interesting to see which direction people will take this idea. The group facilitating the Make Cycle share examples of using Makey Makey, and Squishy Circuits, to make literal lights with stories. It might be the week I finally open up my Squishy Circuit box and see what’s inside. Ditto for Makey Makey.

But I have to admit, what came to mind for me was the idea of the night sky and constellation myths. So I am on the trail to figure out some way to create a collaborative star/constellation map that others in the CLMOOC can contribute to, so that we might collectively create an entirely new night sky full of stars and stories. Admittedly, I don’t know how to do that yet, but I am going to explore some options, and share out. (If you have an idea on how I can pull this off, please leave me a comment.)

This Make Cycle is being planted by a group out of Philly called Maker Jawn.

Maker Jawn experiments with creating replicable, scalable spaces and programs that prioritize the creativity, cultural heritage, and interests of diverse communities, embedded directly within the fabric of the library. We cheer-lead latent enthusiasts by providing resources, tools, and an encouraging space. Programming is geared towards for interest driven projects that develop skills, build persistence, and open up new trajectories. We currently offer daily youth Maker programming in ten libraries across Philadelphia.

Peace (in the light),
Kevin