Time and Space Wobbles: Art in the Age of Einstein

My wife and I visited the Mead Art Museum on the grounds of Amherst College yesterday, and its special exhibit was all about the intersections of science and art, in a field (I did not know about) known as “dimensionism.” The exhibit is entitled Modern Art in the Age of Einstein, and I found it fascinating and inspiring, and later in the day, I worked on my own artistic remix of some of the ideas my mind gathered from there.

This piece has multiple layers and multiple filters and frames as well as the layered small poem. The main visual layer is a from Marcel Duchamp’s Rotoreliefs, two spinning spiral wheels in motion on record players, explained in the art gallery this way:

When set in motion, the disc appears to transport the two-dimensional object into a wobbly three-dimensional cylinder that moves in four-dimensional space-time.

It’s fun to think of where art and science collide, and how poetry might also gain a toehold into our perceptions of these areas of overlap. Here, I hope your eyes are drawn to the center, the dark space of time, even as the shadows of my own hands taking an image allow you to step back to see the scene from another angle.

Peace (in the make),
Kevin

 

Silent Sunday: Clay Figures

Clay Figures

These pieces come from a graphic story project. In art class, students had to create a clay replica of one of their characters. This was a brilliant idea by our talented art teacher.

Peace (shaping it),
Kevin

Sometimes, a walk …

Nature Trail Feldgang WalkA walk in the woods with your eyes wide open sometimes leads to a wonderful collection of photos, and a deeper look at nature. Here, I gathered up into a collage some of what I noticed yesterday in our nearby woods as a feldgang/learning walk with a camera lens ready (and a dog waiting patiently each time for me to finish up so we could keep moving along the paths).

Peace (what we see),
Kevin

 

The Fragmented Me (Exploring Selfies in an UnSelfie World)

Eye selfie #tdc1111 #dailycreateWe’re exploring the art and act of Selfies in Networked Narratives, as Mia Zamora and Hannah Kelley are researching the impact of selfies and plan to curate a public art exhibit under the banner of #SelfieUnselfie in Norway. Both are on Fulbright Scholarships right now and focused on digital literacies (I think).

Take a look/listen to their project and their invitation:

True story: an hour after watching that video by Mia and Hannah and thinking about the idea of the Unselfie the other night, my wife and son and I sat down to watch an episode of the Modern Family sitcom, which opens with the parents berating the older daughter for laying around all day, taking selfies on her phone. (Later, we learn she’s been building a blogging site for fashion and making money of her images of herself and her fashion choices).

My 13-year-old son pointed to the television.

“That’s what the girls do,” he observed, “at school. All the time. Selfies, all day long. It’s annoying.”

Not boys, we asked?

“Some,” he admitted. “Not like the girls. It’s like they want their image everywhere.”

There are a lot of layers to the act of creating Selfies — from identity in the digital world, to capturing moments as memories, to connecting in social media with others, to artistic choices that get made (or not). More and more apps now help you “touch up” the Selfie, which seems at odds with its original intent to me (which might say more about me, as a middle aged white man, than many selfie takers.)

I went into my own Flickr account to search for “selfie” and only a few popped up. Either I haven’t done many, or I don’t save them. I suspect I don’t often think enough of the Selfie itself to put them into my Flickr for saving. Selfies seem more … momentary, temporary, fleeting. Interesting.

Bad Selfie (with Webcomic Photobomb)

Some of these I found (like the eyeball image at the top) are from DS106 prompts, I realized. And a few are from an old webcomic site I used with my sixth grade students. In it, they would create avatars as representations of themselves.

Remember that year, those movie stars at the Oscars created that famous group selfie? Suddenly, everyone knew what a Selfie was.

I used that a visual prompt for students that year to create webcomic selfie collages. I did one, too. Some of the characters in here are avatars of friends from the Connected Learning MOOC and other social spaces.

My Self, My Selfie (comic-style)

And my students did their own Selfie collage activity, with friends avatars joining them.

Comic Selfie Collage

The SelfieUnselfie project asks us to create an unselfie, so the other night, I did.

They also ask for an Artist Statement:

With my comic, I was trying to capture the idea that instead of us using our technology to capture an image of us as Selfie, it would instead be the reverse: our technology using us, on a Selfie Stick, to capture a representation of it for the world. Sort of like a cultural mirror. And of course, the devices wants to know how it will be perceived on social media.

Underlying the lightheartedness of this comic Unselfie is the real concern about technology driving our agency for us, instead of the other way around (us, making decisions with technology as a tool for expression), and how our devices seem to become a larger part of how we sculpt and curate our digital identities. Are we pushing boundaries or are we falling prey to our devices?

Selfie unselfie

Peace (capture it),
Kevin

 

#NetNarr Photo Indoor Safari: Seven Photos in a Mad, Crazy Twitter Dash

NetNarr Photo Safari

The cool thing about taking photos is that you have to look at the world a bit different. It’s not just the device you see through, it’s the way your eye sees the world through the lens that sees the world.

Yesterday, before the Networked Narratives Twitter Chat (which I forgot about until it had started), there was a NetNarr Safari activity, which involved taking seven photos over 15 minutes with different visual prompts coming in over Twitter.

I arrived when it was over (or, as we say in CLMOOC, I was right on time), but then decided, what the heck … and so I did it on my own, scrolling back through the NetNarr Twitter feed.

I didn’t leave the room I was in, so my safari was not all that wild. Microphones instead of monkeys. Socks instead of snakes. But I liked how the physical confines of my space forced me to consider the visual prompt (like, two objects that don’t match or one color or some kind of tracks), then look quickly, make a decision, snap the shot, tweet the results and move on.

The downside is it felt one-sided with no interaction with other NetNarr folks (and except for Wendy, whose safari I see this morning, I haven’t seen anyone else’s), since I was late and the Twitter Chat had already started (I was late to that, too, but enjoyed the topic of Digital Art.)

Peace (looks like),
Kevin

#NetNarr: Weaving Stories with Invisible Thread

Five Card Flickr NetNarr

Alan Levine has jumpstarted his wonderful Five Card Story activity — which uses Flickr images for inspiring a story — for the Networked Narratives.

Here’s mine, called Even Dead Ends are Starting Points.

She heard the sounds of the guitar, and the song came suddenly. Melody. Words. Harmony. She hurried out to meet the musician, only to find it was an audio recording of a photographer setting the mood for his shots. Still, she kept singing. Even dead ends are starting points.

I made another one, with five different images called A Dog Remembers. 

A Dog Remembers

What’s so intriguing about this kind of visual-inspired writing with somewhat random images is that while you are choosing each of the five images, they are come from a very limited pool of choices. There’s nothing outright that seems to connect the five pictures you end up choosing … except the story unfolding in your mind as you are making your choices.

So part of the fun with the Five Card Story concept is making that narrative leap — weaving that invisible thread – that wraps each disparate visual together into a tapestry of remixable story. You have to ride your inspiration forward, and go beyond the literal. It’s a creative challenge.

I find that the first image chosen is the most important, as it anchors the narrative. But so is the last image, I guess, as it ties up the story. In writing, I find myself staring at each image, wondering about what I don’t see with my eyes (and maybe do see with my heart). I’m trying to determine what narrative is stubbornly invisible at that moment, and then try to tease it out.

How about you? Come play and make a story. Or you can remix some of the ones already made.

Peace (in the share),
Kevin