Sunday, 30 October 2011

Together, part 6: Missing

This is ds106 assignment on writing a fanfic about another blogger, taken one step further by being a continuing story written in parts without prior planning, and via the revolving effort of 2 bloggers going back and forth.

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6, Part 7, to be continued...

"I just finished putting Casey to sleep. It took a while because he started playing with his Pokemon plushies again after everyone left. I closed the door to his room quietly, leaving it open just a crack so that we could check in on him later.

#ds435 Just a crack

After leaving the room however another concern came to mind. Where's my husband? He should've been back by now, even a while ago. I went in to the dining room to make sure and everything was as it had been. The table still had a slight spill on it from where Casey had knocked over the soy sauce during dinner, the chairs were still left at odd angles. I moved over to the sink where my husband had been last before going out to the convenience store to "get some coffee". Sure the store wasn't right by our place, but it still shouldn't have taken him this long to come back. I was worried. Did something happen?


The dishes were still piled up in the sink, unwashed. The top plate was the one with the batch of home-made karaage on it and I picked up a leftover piece and munched absent-mindedly. It was cold and I could taste more of the oil than the chicken. I didn't know my karaage tasted this bad. I wasn't hungry.

Glancing over to the dining table once again I spotted my handphone in the corner and reached over to make a call. The dial tone, one ring, two and I realised that my husband had left his phone in the pocket of his coat that he had slung over his chair during dinner. He hadn't taken it with him, a fact that I already knew but confirmed by reaching over the table and retrieving the ringing device, sullying my arm with spilled soy sauce in the process. I didn't feel like wiping it off just yet. I had other things to think about.

Soy Sauce, Shichimi - Ramen Ya - ISO-800

Maybe he was just delayed for some reason. Maybe he's reading comics by the magazine aisle and here I am worrying myself silly for no reason at all. My mind came up with a bunch of possibilities of where my husband could be, but a quick glance at the clock was enough to tell me that none of those possibilities could be true. He wouldn't be out this late, this long, especially without his phone and jacket. It was cold outside too. I clutched my own phone in my hands, watching a line of soy sauce make its way slowly down my arm as I lifted. I wanted to leave the apartment, to put on my coat, shoes and head outside even though I didn't have any make-up on. I wanted to head towards the store and see for myself if anything had happened...but I couldn't. Casey was still sleeping just a few meters away. I hope the ringing hadn't woken him up, but it also meant that I couldn't leave him alone in the home this late. What if he woke up to find that no one else was at home? No, I was stuck here.

And I didn't know what to do.."

Go to Part 7.

On copyright and CC Licensing

So here we are, this is my final blog post for this semester's class. I chose to write it on the topic of copyright and CC Licensing, so first off I'd like to speak a bit on why.

The main reason why I chose this topic is because I felt that the issue of copyright would be the most applicable and useful for me, even after this class ends, as an artist. Of course this is not to say that "non-artists" have no use of copyright, but when I think back on my first considered use of copyright and CC Licensing I find that for me the issue does have its roots in my artwork.

deviant art
deviantArt logo. Click to go to the deviantArt site.

I started a deviantArt account over 2 years ago, which for the uninitiated is basically like any other SNS (social networking service) site except that they have a focus on artists and artworks, which is to say that the "main" use of deviantArt would be to upload your sketches etc. and have other people view, comment, share and rate them. Japanese readers may draw comparison to Pixiv (which I think is cooler, because it's Japanese but I digress).

pixiv 開発者ブログ
pixiv logo. Click to go to the pixiv site.

So let's get back to the topic at hand. I dunno if Pixiv uses the same but deviantArt has you fill in various details about your works when you submit a new "deviation" and the last category is choosing the appropriate CC License (it's an optional category). CC License?? What is that? Copyright? I thought copyright was something you had to formally apply for, like a patent (but it's not) so I initially found the issue of CC Licensing both confusing and possibly unnecessary, but maybe that's just me.

CC Attribution logo. Click to go to the Creative Commons site.

This whole misunderstanding with copyright and CC Licensing I think, stems from the fact that I am neither a US citizen, nor a citizen or any Western country wherein ideals of freedom and personal property are often brought to the fore (and CC Licensing did start as an American endeavour). This is not to say that that I am opposed to the idea, but it does provide a different perspective on something that I think my Western counterparts consider a natural right because for people like myself it's something that we don't really ever talk about, not even after 12 years of standard schooling...and I'm not even from an authoritarian country! (although some people have said that I look like Korean actor Bae Yong Jun so maybe it's not too far off. By the way, not saying that South Korea is authoritarian, but move a little up North, and...)

Personally, I don't see the resembance...but someone else created this, so...

So now you kinda get the idea that the situation of copyright is a little different between countries yes? But I guess that's to be expected. Anyone can wax lyrical about one's inalienable rights but people across the border have different standards, different Constitutions, different legal systems so how are you gonna apply your lofty copyright ideals to the world? Well, you can't really, not unless you have some kind of cross-border group session thing going on like the European Union that purposefully exists to standardise various components across member countries (and even then it's not all sunshine and rainbows from what I hear).

European Union flags

But hold up a sec and stop the presses. We've been tossing around the word "copyright" for a bit now and some of you must be wondering how this is different from CC Licensing. What is CC Licensing? Well the main difference is that copyright is very much dependent on a country's copyright law, which is to say that copyright has the final say as to whether something is illegal or not because it is governed by a legal framework. There's also a lot to it, which is why people take other people to court to debate (not-so-nicely) about it, and also why you often see the "all rights reserved" phrase regarding copyright issues; it's just too much to put down. On the other hand you have CC Licensing (Creative Commons Licensing) which is entirely voluntary (remember the optional category on deviantArt?) and user-initiated, and restricted to a set of pre-defined combinations (you want this page for the breakdown). It doesn't replace copyright law, but works in tandem with it, like shorthand. CC licenses let you state from the get-go what you allow any other person in the world to do with your work, so they can go ahead without bothering you with a million e-mails on, "Can I use this here? And what about that?"

Creative Commons Welcome Pack

The other big difference about CC Licensing is that it has its roots in specifically Internet-derived  issues of copyright, addressing content created in an age where file sharing and user-generated content is nothing if not commonplace.
"Our vision is nothing less than realizing the full potential of the Internet - Universal access to research and education, full participation in culture - to drive a new era of development, growth and productivity." -Creative Commons
It's a bold statement (and reminiscent of Project Xanadu), but is it true? Every day you use several sites and services that offer to store and put your works in an environment that is fully open to the public (i.e. the Internet); photos on flickr, videos on YouTube, artworks on deviantArt. Now think about it, strictly speaking if you automatically own the copyright to your works by default, nobody is supposed to touch that (some people still do, but we aren't talking about those people :P). That's fine, but the question CC asks is: In an age where pop culture is very much driven by mass communication and the instantaneous spread of information, wouldn't you prefer to join in and put your name out there? Is exposure better than absolute control for you? It's questions worth asking, and very similar to why big-names such as The Dark Knight used viral marketing in tandem with traditional modes of advertising: Because it works, and it works because that's how our world works today. It's not about holding on tight to royalties, it's about broadening the personal and commercial potential of your works by gaining maximum exposure. A crude metaphor would be that it lets you shout louder than all the other people in the room.

Shout it!

Still don't quite get it? Try this: Imagine buying food from the supermarket and looking at the packaging for expiration dates and preparation instructions. You expect that information to be there because that's what you expect the product to do for you, and you certainly don't want to make a phone call to the food company each time you buy your microwavable dinners (and they don't wanna deal with all of your calls either). Now compare this to any form of creative work. You don't necessarily think about the spread of your work by the time you put down your pen, camera, or mouse, but should you? Can you? The answer would be "Yes you can," and you can easily with Creative Commons Licenses because they are by far the closest thing to a global standard on copyright for digital media. You see the CC logos and they stand for something recognisable, just like the Golden Arches although that doesn't necessarily mean "I'm lovin' it" for everyone last I checked.

Self-created image for a ds106 assignment on Triple Trolling.

But wait, so far we've talked about how CC Licensing benefits you as the creator, but how does it  benefit you as a user? Say you pop over to flickr to do a photo collage like this guy. How do you know what's cool for the taking? Well see if we didn't have CC Licensing as a shorthand then we'd have to either rely on copyright and manually get the permission of the creator for each photograph to be used, or rely only on what's in the public domain (or just take stuff, but again, we're not talking about those people). Neither one seems very appealing and that's where CC Licensing comes in handy. You can do a search for only images that creators have specified are okay to use, without ever having to actually ask them. Problem solved. Look up again at the picture before this paragraph for your reward. :)

So okay we're almost done now so bear with me. All this talk about the good points of CC Licensing makes it sound like the Second Coming, but obviously it's not. What's the rift? Firstly, remember the problem of different countries having different copyright laws? Yeah, so if CC Licensing is shorthand for copyright in certain circumstances, how does this translate overseas? The answer is adaptation. CC has and is still working to "port" (adapt) its standards to various countries and to streamline each type of license as much as possible. Problem "solved". The next issue is whether CC Licensing makes or is redundant because it co-exists alongside existing copyright laws. The answer is that both can co-exist. Why? As mentioned, CC Licensing aims to serve in particular the remix-mashup nature of content on the Internet, and without it you wouldn't actually have services like flickr, Google or Wikipedia (CC). (and you wouldn't have this post either; just look at all the licensed photos!) Could you really live with that? Teachers have to pry students off of Wikipedia these days. CC Licenses thrive on the Internet, but the Internet is arguably our world today, but if you want a "real-life" counterpoint to chew on, you can even snack on this. No artificial colour or flavouring added. All natural. Word.

So. Why so serious?

UPDATE: Final exam question submission. "CC Licensing replaces copyright law. True or False?"

Saturday, 29 October 2011

On sunny haiku, and morning Pikachu

ds106 assignment on Haiku. This assignment has been getting considerable traction as of late, so although I initially resolved to stay away from it for perceived lack of understanding of what actually makes a haiku tick..
"Here in US schools, we are taught the haiku merely as the formula of syllables..." -CogDog.
I re-thought my stand and am currently in an, "Eh, why not? You guys can bash me in the comments later," kind of mood. Still, I think it's kind of weird how a form of poetry is so intrinsically connected to a particular language and culture (Japanese) that comments such as these can be made, and quite legitimately argued:
"Haiku have very deep system, but it can work for only Japanese language, so this Haiku will be litbit different style from Japanese language Haiku." -Komiyama.
As for me I definitely feel that there is a kind of wall between haiku and any unfortunate non-Japanese (or non-Japanese speaker) who decides to take on the task of making a haiku of his/her own. This wall can of course be true, or only perceived but I'd like to get peoples' opinions on the matter because I'm not entirely sure which it is. Similarly would anyone know of any other form of poetry (or literary form etc.) that might be specific to a certain language or culture? I can't think of any at the moment but I would be surprised if haiku were to be the only case.

So anyway enough stalling. I said I'd present my own haiku and present it I will so here you go:

"Sunshine when I sleep
Comes early in the morning
Not now, Pikachu"

Sunshine by yeow_tuj via Share-Alike, Attribution CC Licensing. It's my photo and I'll do whatever I please with it! :P

I moved into my new apartment about 4 months ago, and while it's awesome there is the slight issue of my sleeping area being right in front of a ginormous (omg this is actually a word?) window. The window's frosted, but that doesn't stop copious amounts of sunlight pouring into the room on sunny mornings and that's what my haiku was trying to convey I guess. Everyone knows the feeling of not wanting to get up yet, but in addition to alarm clocks and lack of coffee I always feel that the sun itself is trying to slap me awake in the morning...and then when I'm actually up and conscious I look at my watch and I actually still had time to spare. And then there's a huge Pikachu head behind me. I need my coffee.

As for the considerations I tried to follow the "rules" that I got from some related blogs (CogDog, Hamazaki, Komiyama, Lockman). Each of them brought something different to the table, which was nice when trying to compare and contrast and see what has to be done and what can be left open to interpretation...but at the same time it became a little confusing? CogDog and Lockman's takes were quite thoughtful, with the former taking on an almost philosophical air and the latter being quite emotional/personal. Contrast this to the wildly differing styles of Hamazaki and Komiyama, wherein I found the former's to be very instructional and insightful, almost rigid in its "professional" take (I wonder how long the post took..), while conversely when reading Komiyama's haiku I get a very light-hearted, sentimental and playful feeling coming across that might or might not adhere as soundly to the principles of haiku, but definitely comes across to this uninformed non-Japanese as so much more engaging...on a fuzzy feline kind of level. I like cats, call me biased. :P

Going back to Hamazaki's post however, I definitely found the write-up to be the most informative, with the general guidelines of:
  1. Use three lines of up to 17syllables. (I split mine into 5/7/5)
  2. Use a season word (kigo). (Sunshine in the morning? Maybe Summer-ish. As CogDog says, " idea where they fit in the Japanese seasons." But then again as Hamazaki says, "almost all the nouns were categorized into one of the four seasons a hundred years ago, but we cannot do that any more in these days," so maybe I'll be let off the hook this time..)
  3. Use a cut or kire (sometimes indicated by a punctuation mark) to compare two images implicitly. (The last line)
So in conclusion there you have my haiku. Maybe it's off, maybe it's not. Maybe Ben's comment is right? What do you guys think?
"I'm not sure it's the translation into English that a Haiku potentially loses its authenticity, but rather then different pace and tone that many westerners, particularly Americans, bring to the form." -Ben.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Together, part 4: Outing

This is ds106 assignment on writing a fanfic about another blogger, taken one step further by being a continuing story written in parts without prior planning, and via the revolving effort of 2 bloggers going back and forth.

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6, to be continued...

"I'm exhausted! We spent the whole day walking around and just got back. Daddy's in the shower now so I thought I'd spend a few minutes writing this but I'm kind of dozing off myself. Casey doesn't seem to mind though, or should I say didn't seem to mind. He's asleep now. I'll try to type quietly..

Keyboard Standing in the shadows

So like I said today was a busy day. Daddy didn't have work over the weekend so we finally made plans to go to the Pokemon Center and Casey was overjoyed when he heard the news that he's been making sure to watch the anime every day "just to keep up". I don't know what he's trying to keep up with but he's barely been able to sit still! It's been quite tiring trying to match his pace.. I don't know how kids get so much energy (maybe I shouldn't have given in and let him have that ice-cream after lunch?). I blame those ads we saw on the train-ride there.


So what did we do? Well our original plan was to spend some time at home after lunch before setting off for the Pokemon Center, but Casey couldn't wait so we ended up going straight after (after he had his ice-cream too! Maybe we're spoiling him, just a little?). We reached the place at about 2, and I thought it was still quite early but there were a surprising number of kids (and older Pokemon fans too) that we had to queue in lline for quite a while at the cashier on our way out. Casey got a giant Pikachu and a blue Pokemon plushie that he keeps calling "Derpy" for some reason. I don't know why. Maybe our friend Casey (Medsker-Saban) told him something. I should remember to ask him about that when we meet next weekend for dinner. He might teach him other strange words.. That's Casey.

Speaking of dinner we spent more time than we planned at the Pokemon Center so we actually had to rush off on the way out. My mother recently gave us a free voucher for a cruise from Hamamatsucho Pier so we decided to take advantage of that and get a free cruise around the bay at sunset, as well as a great dinner! (we barely got on the boat in time though, the sun was already setting!)

Edited (copy/paste image from screen→Photoshop→new layer with a coat of orange-beige applied→colour overlay set to "multiply" in layer styles) screen-capture from Google Maps.

The cruise itself was wonderful. Casey was fully absorbed with his new Pokemon toys, which gave daddy and I a little time alone after dinner to watch the last rays of the sun go down over the horizon. Along with the sea breeze and the refreshing smell of salt it's definitely a memory I won't forget, even if I forgot to bring a proper camera!

So that was our day. Casey fell asleep on the way back, I guess all the excitement finally wore him out. And daddy's-..Oh looks like he's just done with the shower so I'll be going to freshen up soon. Before I forget though, remember that image Casey drew the other day? We actully did decide to frame it up. We'll put it in Casey's bedroom sometime tomorrow...wonder if he'll notice? (there's no Pokemon...or Vanilla Cats so...). Oh but I'm starting to doze off so I'd better get in the shower myself before long. Till next time!"

Original image by Casey Swadloon, framed.

Go to Part 5.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Together, part 2: Daydreaming

This is ds106 assignment on writing a fanfic about another blogger, taken one step further by being a continuing story written in parts without prior planning, and via the revolving effort of 2 bloggers going back and forth.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, to be continued...

"I just got home and set the keys to the front door down on the dining table. It's quiet now with no one else in the house; my husband left just a few minutes ago with his black office bag and our son Casey in tow. He's going to drop him off at the nearby elementary school before going to work.

I started tidying up the dining table, just a little before I had to set off myself. Cups, dishes, cutlery, into the sink for the time being and then the several strewn bits of paper and markers that Casey had been playing with during his morning meal. He's always drawing! I picked up the loose sheets and took a look at what he had scribbled; all the images were of Vanilla Cat, a character from a game that Casey had really been getting into lately. Some of the images were a bit different from the actual character, and maybe it's just a mother's bias but I think he actually did a really good job. I guess it's no surprise since his dad is a character designer for a game company...maybe our Casey will grow up to be an artist too. That would be nice.

Original illustration by Casey Swadloon.

I was sitting there, slightly crumpled piece of paper in hand and sort of daydreaming about what our Casey would be like a few years from now. He only just started elementary school, but then again it seemed like just days ago that he was rolling around in his crib, not yet able to walk or speak. He seemed so fragile then! So maybe thinking about how our son would be like a few years from now would be nothing more than a daydream, and who knows how he would change as he grows up and makes more friends at school, finds different hobbies... Maybe he'll even put the Vanilla Cat character aside! ...although I kind of wish he wouldn't because truth be told I'm kind of fond of the little white cat myself.

Still, who knows? Lately he's been getting into the Pokemon cartoons on TV, and daddy promised to bring him to the Pokemon Center over the weekend so maybe that'll be his next craze. It's impossible to say!

Pokemon Center

Still, whatever Casey gets into I'm sure he'll still be our good little boy. Even after he's all grown up which might not be something he'd like us to say in front of him (you know how kids get about that sort of thing!), but I'm sure that my husband and I will always see our little Casey as the good little boy who likes a little white Vanilla Cat.

Oh but look at the time! I guess I got too caught up in my thoughts and spent just a little too long daydreaming! I rushed out of the house hoping to catch the next bus in time, but not before taking one of Casey's drawings and putting it carefully into my purse. Maybe on the way back I'll stop by the photo shop and have them frame it. And then we can all decide where would be the best place to display our little boy's art."

Original illustration by Casey Swadloon.

Go to Part 3.

On explaining 1 quote a day, and #8

So first off let's get this thing going. ds106 assignment on quotes.

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:

"Henshin-a-go-go, baby!"
And now that we're done with that I thought quote #8 would be a good time to provide a little bit of a primer on what this whole 1QAD thing is all about for those of you who are just joining us. So what is it? Well it's basically an idea inspired by 2 things: An in-class assignment on pop culture, and the Daily Shoot website, which tasked participants with taking and submitting 1 photo a day according to a provided theme.

From that I was musing about the possibilities and potential of quotes, which I personally believe is a strong indicator of one's interests and influences (and just for the record when I say "quotes" any text-based line is basically good for the taking; catchphrases, taglines, memes et al).

The Shadow knows.
The kinds of quotes people know and can identify with will differ from person to person, and there's also the possibility of being taken down memory lane when hearing a quote from years ago that never would have come up otherwise. In fact, when speaking of the surprising reactions and correct responses to my quotes one case that comes up in particular would be my #5, which I personally thought was kind of an obscure reference that perhaps nobody would be able to identify. Nevertheless several people did and now I know that one of my favourite movies is actually a lot more recognised than I thought, which is nothing if not cool. :)

So with that you basically have the idea and intention behind Project 1QAD. The Project actually started first on Twitter, and I believe a few people are still on that which is awesome, but my submissions will be continuing via this blog/ds106 for the time being so if anyone's interested feel free to join in, with your own quotes or just by guessing where each was taken from. See you on the Project!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

On 1 quote a day, 7

ds106 assignment on quotes. Hint: It's not a movie this time..

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:

"Do a barrell roll!"
Oh and when you're done with this go check out 1QAD's latest member!

Monday, 24 October 2011

On 1 quote a day, 6

ds106 assignment on quotes.

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:

"You..shall not..pass!"

Sunday, 23 October 2011

On 1 quote a day, 5

ds106 assignment on quotes. This might be the hardest one yet..

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"

Saturday, 22 October 2011

On GIF animations and someone's awesome game project

Some stuff I made for the class' final group project. I'm actually putting this here so the other members can view it (because Google Docs doesn't support GIF animations :(), but yea any comments are welcome. Just go easy on the tomatoes. :D (click on a picture to start the animation)

1st day intro:

2nd day intro:

3rd day intro:

Also, I just fiddled around a little more and here's my input for the opening/title screen:

On 1 quote a day, 4

ds106 assignment on quotes.

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:

"Are you not entertained!?"

Friday, 21 October 2011

On us as artists

A response to Timmmmyboy's (count the "m's" :P) blog post, "We are all artists."

Guy goes through a bunch of points, but the main idea is basically to question if making art, or being creative is necessarily restricted to "artists". Reference is of course made to the ds106 community, and the fact that there are a lot of people involved who are in fact not art majors nor designers by profession and the argument for, is succinctly expressed in his comparison of art-making to playing sports; one is not generally expected to do well at the start, but is expected to work at it (of course you'd anticipate results from that effort...and hey good news I hear that's usually the case!).

Image source. Have your own demotivational poster?

The interesting thing to consider for me though, is the fact that I am an art major, and I am aiming for a career in design. So the question is where does that leave me? Well contrary to what you might think I actually fully support Timmmmyboy's opinion. I don't really like museums and art galleries because sure you get to see great "art" but at the same time it's an incredibly stifling environment where one is expected to "remain quiet", "refrain from eating and drinking", and generally not run through the halls screaming. This is not to say that I would, but I don't like not being able to. What I'm getting at is that in such formalised environments it just doesn't feel like you're free to take the "art" in and respond naturally.

Experts at the running-through-the-halls-screaming game.

Contrast this to the idea of "everyday art", from reading a magazine to flipping through websites in your own time, at your own pace (or in the case of Timmmmyboy, looking for amazing coffee filters). How do you react to such stimuli? Well...any way you want to really and that's exactly what I'm talking about. Art isn't just art; it's not this walled-off fence with a big sign out front that says "artists only" and just as much as we are all expected to have a degree of common sense and pragmatism, likewise do we all possess a level of creativity and individuality and the desire to express ourselves somehow. When artists do it, it's this thing called "art", but aren't you singing when you're singing even if you're not a Grammy Award winning vocalist? Same deal.
"Don't accept that lie that you're not creative" -Timmmmyboy
The discussion moves on to the topic of having design as a critical intervention in culture, bringing with it the point that we now have the tools to intervene in our time. You don't need to work your way up the corporate ladder in some TV station just to get your program on the boob tube when there's YouTube, and you don't actually need to publish a book to reach the masses when there's push-button publishing. It's the question of passive versus interactive media that totally blows the stereotype of fat kids munching popcorn while watching TV all day out of the water; they're actually up in your YouTubes, getting 23 million views and the support of viewers who choose to legitimise his antics. We are no longer a passive, consumption-based society, but one that is fully (and willingly) engaged in creating and appropriating media input.

Speaking of appropriating media input though, where does this leave formal, rigid institutions such as universities if our culture is increasingly based around intervention, interaction and creation? It's a question brought up on the channel: Is it even possible to structure the idea of learning anymore? This is a Catch-22. For something to be active (or interactive) it cannot sit still and rot (unless you're making alcohol). Similarly if today's fat kids are not gonna be sitting in front of the TV all day the question is what will they be doing? And if the answer is that they're gonna be part of the next big cultural meme then I think you'll agree with me that this is not something that's really predictable, definable or even fair. Like silly YouTube videos.

Here's where huge institutions such as universities run into a big problem: The target doesn't sit still anymore. We've heard again and again that technology keeps advancing by leaps and bounds and it's gotten to a point where it's empowered ordinary users like you and I to put our opinion out there for everyone, for better or worse. So what's the answer? Are universities finished? Jim Groom came on later in the show and aired his doubts on sending his kids to school; certainly a controversial thought. Is he right? Well the question is: Rigid institutions are outdated, but if you don't get into that then what's your benchmark? Not everyone can be a Star Wars Kid and my personal opinion is that we need to come to terms with the fact that traditional educational routes are becoming less relevant and more obscure, but to an extent we still need them. We need them to qualify why the silly stuff we make in our own time is relevant, and "better" than what's big and shiny (see below), because without "that crap on TV" the awesome stuff you're making won't be. Awesome doesn't exist in a vacuum.

Ladies and gentlemen, the big and shiny.

So let's get back to the subject of ds106, because what's really interesting about this is that it's about trying to put all these ideas into one neat little package. It's taking the idea of media appropriation, of user-created content and trying to shoehorn that into a classroom setting. So how's it going? Someone mentioned the following reaction to ds106: Surprise→anger→acceptance→"art", and if you take a look at that what it tells you is that people are uncomfortable, but that discomfort is what could possibly lead you on to the next breakthrough. Why? Because you can; you can choose to slam the Star Wars Kid's gyrating motions, or turn it into the next trend (it's called the "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" buttons), or you might be the one putting something out there for the world to evaluate, like we all do on ds106. Or facebook. Or Twitter. Or...

Some things get picked up and some things don't and it's not necessarily a reflection of just quality anymore because so many people are involved and it's also about cultural resonance and so much more. This means that the road to success (however you define that) has a lot more shortcuts and back-roads than there were before, but at the same time those paths sure have a lot of potholes. You might trip, get lost, but you might just finish first and that's the risk you take now with the kind of society we have. It's unpredictable; it's unavoidable, but one consolation is that there are some things that can smoothen the ride, like perseverance, like putting yourself out there, like not going alone, and like understanding that you and I and everyone around now have the potential to take something and re-evaluate that as we please. And then doing that.

Because I do believe we are all artists, even if it doesn't say so on our resume. Derp.

On 1 quote a day, 3

ds106 assignment on quotes.

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:

"Why is the rum always gone?"

Thursday, 20 October 2011

On 1 quote a day, 2

ds106 assignment on quotes.

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:
"Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?"

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

On trolling superheroes

ds106 assignment on Triple Trolling.

Image: Superman Returns movie poster.
Quote: Spiderman.
Signature: Iron Man.

Wanted to go a little fancy this time and did a full movie poster troll. The idea came from realising the similarities between Iron Man, and Superman who is sometimes known as "The man of steel" (in fact I think it's gonna be the title of the next Superman flick).

With that the only thing left was to add a famous comic book superhero quote and when searching for good Superman images Spiderman's line on power and responsibility just seemed to fit the pose.

Tackling an entire movie poster this time presented its own unique challenges I think, and the main difficulty was in putting all the elements together without something giving it all away. That something was Superman's chest, as all of you spelling bee champs know, "Iron Man" does not start with an "S". Oh no. The solution was pretty simple once I realised it though, and a simple attempt to have glow lighting obscuring the "S" brought with it more context than I initially intended when realising that Iron Man himself has a bright glowy thing right there. :D

Video tutorial to follow. Full size here:

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On 1 quote a day

ds106 assignment on quotes (and the guessing thereof), adapted from the Project 1QAD on Twitter.

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:
"Where on Earth is Ca______________?"

On recasting Vaders

ds106 assignment on recasting another ds106 assignment.

Assignment: Triple Troll Attack, GO!
Recast: Done in reverse! Triple trolling in search of the truth! The question is: Who is Darth Vader really???

With a little help from Wikipedia:
Image: James Earl Jones (voice of Darth Vader in Ep. III & IV)
Quote: Darth Vader in Ep. V
Signature: Played Darth Vader in Ep. II & III

I originally had an idea for a new assignment while in that most holy of places...the bathroom. The idea was to have a reversed Triple Troll assignment, where instead of going for a common theme of image, quote and signature spread out, one would think of a character/person who has been played by different people (say, cartoon characters' voice actors) and seek to portray a more "complete" picture of that character through the troll image (as above). Ironically this consisted of using the troll format to present a more accurate depiction of who that character really is, so remember kids, even trolls can be the heroes! (oh, and go use the bathroom more often kthxbye)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

On the replay value of dead people

ds106 assignment on reappropriating game screenshots.

Game: Pac-Man
Original context: Eat dots, avoid ghosts. This is 1980! There is no context!
"Day 1000. I still don't know how I got into this maze, or if I'm ever going to get out. Frankly the way this is going I'm beginning to give up hope. Occasionally I find fruit on the ground though...which despite the mystery of how they got there proves a necessary, even delicious source of sustenance. Nevertheless I feel that my time may soon be up; I have begun hallucinating, seeing multi-coloured ghosts floating around these bland, blue halls. Little by little everything is becoming so colourful to me...and I can't help but feel a sense of twisted melancholy at this unforeseen development..."

Original screenshot here. One interesting consideration this time was how to integrate text into a game as old as this without it seeming out of place and what I opted for in the end was to use a "dot-style" font to try and camouflage the line in there with the white dots, with the intention of blending dots with the "..." that might be part of the line itself.

As for the "how", well there wasn't much photo manipulation done this time around, but a big part of the process, as mentioned, was applying the right "dot-style" font so I guess I'll elaborate a little on finding and installing new fonts to your computer. What you wanna do is basically do a simple Google search on "free fonts", which will give you a list of sites where you can download...well, free fonts! (surprised?)

You can search for basically anything (even ones which mimic a specific movie font) but once you have your file downloaded you wanna go and unzip the folder (it's usually zipped), look for a file with the font name that ends with the extension "TTF", "OTF" or similar, and do the following:
  1. Go to "My Computer"
  2. "Local Disc"
  3. "Windows"
  4. "Fonts", and basically drop the TTF/OTF file in there.
After that...well there's no after that actually. The next time you open any font-using program (can you say Photoshop?) your new, shiny font should be added to your list of selectables! Go ahead and use it for your next assignment!

On the replay value of Poke-stalkers...

ds106 assignment on reappropriating game screenshots.

Game: Pokemon Yellow Version
Original context: Pikachu is the protagonist's main pokemon, and follows behind him obediently wherever he goes.
"I met it one day while out walking in the tall grass. It was yellow...with pointy ears that stuck out from the green around it. I don't know why but our eyes met, if only for an instant and in that moment I saw the depths of absolute terror in its beady, black little eyes. This was a monster. I ran like the dickens for my very soul...and have been running ever since..."

The process here was a simple Google image search for an appropriate screenshot, with the subsequent addition of the text and textbox. I think the fact that Pokemon is such a popular franchise and that the game itself looks old-school adds to the fun of reappropriation...I'm in ur Pokemans, messin' with ur childhood!

On Pokemon consumers

ds106 assignment on reinterpreting a logo with the inclusion of what one buys most at the place.

And the original 7 & iHoldings logo:

So here's the rundown: For those of you not in the know convenience stores in Japan are really living up to the name (being convenient, who would've thought it!). I go there all the time to buy food, stationery and other miscellaneous stuff but the one thing I go to 7-11 specifically for is Pokemon merchandise; cards, lucky draw prizes etc. simply because the other convenience stores don't carry that particular item (they've got other awesome stuff but that's for a different post).

Given the above I decided to go in and reinterpret the 7-11 logo with a Pokemon twist and the above image is the result. My considerations this time were about how to balance the iconography of the original logo with the Pokemon reference(s), and what really got me started I guess was the circular "swish" that the 7 & iHoldings version had, which I reappropriated into a pokeball. Other ways of balancing the two elements were by maintaining the original logo colours, and trying to keep each object (the ball vs. the "7") from becoming too prominent.

Video tutorial of some of the processes to follow (full size here):
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On spubbles and tigers and bears, oh my!

ds106 assignment on spubbles. Stay away from tigers 'kay :( Oh and I lied about the bears. No bears here.. >_>

Monday, 17 October 2011

On the orange that wanted to be a lime

ds106 assignment on re-colouring an object.

Re-coloured from this image here:


My consideration here, as with the previous attempt was to start with an object that was already strongly associated with a colour, and then to break that association. As such an orange seemed like an ideal subject.

A quick search on flickr provided the required image, and I began to tweak the object colour in Photoshop (which didn't actually take very long). When done, I decided to go a little further and add the "Lime" tag at the bottom, as well as the text, just to add to the subject of an orange's change of colour.

UPDATE: Video tutorial added. For full size, click here.

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Sunday, 16 October 2011

On demotivational fantasies

ds106 assignment on demotivational posters.

Thought a bit about what kind of demotivational poster I wanted to try and ended up with that. The main image is the official logo for Final Fantasy XIII-2 (pronounced "thirteen-two"), and the rest is just simple text etc.

On colorising worlds

ds106 assignment on re-colouring an object.

Once again done on Photoshop, with the considerations this time on taking something that seems almost inseparable from its original colour, and then changing that colour. The idea of the interaction between Mario and the red box is something that came a little after, following some thought on the character's pose and how I could play around with that.

*Admittedly, this piece was not created specifically for this assignment, having been made prior for a Daily Shoot submission on the topic of "Yellow". I thought it fit quite perfectly with the assignment goals though.

On speed-reading movies

ds106 assignment on creating a film-based book cover. Inspired by a previous submission.

Speed Racer, by the Wachowski Brothers is actually one of my favourite movies, although I don't think such sentiment is in line with the majority opinion. Nevertheless this was a good chance to promote the movie and subliminally get others to watch it too (I mean..).

When considering the key elements to this assignment what I picked up on were the simplified designs and "tattered" treatment of the "book". I sought to achieve the design goal by focusing on the element of speed, hence the speedometer, while providing the meticulous viewer with "easter eggs" in the way of the "5" (an allusion to the protagonist's car, the Mach 5), as well as the infinity symbol which aims to represent the intense speeds and stereotypical ideals of right and wrong that are considered in the course of the movie.

As for the tattered treatment, I used a mix of brush textures in Photoshop, as well as a texture layer obtained from an image I found while searching Google images for "old paper textures".

UPDATE: Video tutorial for creating texture effects in Photoshop via brushes/eraser and texture image layers added below, on suggestion by redbaiters.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Do note that to fit the video in this blog-space I had to reduce the size quite a bit so head over to this link to see it in full-view. Also, apologies for the annoying "hair dryer" noise in the background. That was my laptop's fan asserting its presence. :s

Saturday, 15 October 2011

On little captions and head lice

ds106 assignment on captioning a photograph.

Decided to look through my Flickr account for a photo to start with and ended up choosing this as a base. From the image, the impression I got was, as you can imagine, head lice and I decided to go off from there with the caption of "Head lice. They're everywhere," itself inspired by the "Ninjas. They're everywhere" motivational poster spoof.

After settling that though I had a bit of a brainstorm (hey, it's near midnight!) and decided to go a little further and turn the thing into a silly shampoo ad. This didn't take much time or effort, with the bottle image referencing generic bottle shapes on Google image search, and the text just meaningless mumbo-jumbo that came out of my head (again, midnight :p).

So. Don't be a victim.

P.S. Oh and as for the original photo, it was a submission to The Daily Shoot website on the topic of "Yellow". I like yellow. Can ya tell? :D

Friday, 14 October 2011

On un-scene stories, far far away

ds106 assignment on Un-scene Stories; writing about a minor character in a movie or TV series before or after the scene in which they appeared.

Going off the given example of Star Wars (and trying to stick to something everyone would have a clue about), let's talk about Episode IV's A New Hope.

Movie: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
Scene: These are not the droids you're looking for. After.
Character: The Force-influenced Stormtrooper.

So if you watch the scene you'll notice that it seems only the main "head" stormtrooper was brainwashed by Obi-wan, although the others probably kept quiet because he was the one in charge (evidenced by the guy's brown shoulder pad).

After the scene cuts however, word spreads among the other stormtroopers during break about their commander's strange behaviour.

"Don't you think those folks in the hovercraft were kind of suspicious?" goes one stormtrooper.

"Yea I know right? They had droids and everything!" agrees another. "And don't you think the conversation that old guy had with the commander was a little strange?"

"Definitely. I thought so too. Reminds me of a story I heard from one of the old guys a couple years ago. Spoke of a group of weird monk-people, Jedi I think he called them. Said that they had special powers and stuff. Do things like control your mind."

"Whoa Bob, that's messed up. Could you imagine if that were true? I mean, they could totally abuse that power to do all kinds of stuff! Steal credits, secrets, .."

"Or..get past a security blockade?"

And all the stormtroopers turned silent in an instant...

A week later the former commander of Stormtrooper Unit 13 sat in a dingy, badly-lit cell awaiting personal interrogation by the man known as Lord Vader. He had never seen the man personally himself, not many people do and under normal circumstances he would have been overjoyed at the honour of meeting the Emperor's right-hand man in person. But no, on the contrary he was shaking in his shiny, white boots as he imagined the horrors of what lay in store for himself. This was no courtesy call, it was an interrogation, and according to the stories he had heard of Lord Vader's "interrogations", not many people survive the life-changing experience...

    UPDATE: Original illustration based on a photograph by Gary Sheriston. Illustration inspired by comments below, and made by...
    1. ...first placing a new layer in Photoshop on top of the photograph.
    2. Turned opacity (top of the Layers window) of the drawing layer down to have a translucent effect through to the photo.
    3. "Traced" the main Vader and stormtrooper figures while simplifying their colours and shapes, sort of like the "silhouette" technique here, but just a bit more detailed.
    4. Multiplied the stormtrooper figure to have a crowd.
    5. Added original background (looks complicated but look closer it's just simple shapes) and text to finish.

    Thursday, 13 October 2011

    On practical activities (mid-term submission)

    So I'm here today to talk to you about one of the categorical assignments provided on ds106, and for the sake of choosing a specific category let's say I choose...oh "Visual assignments". So let's talk.

    First of all there is the question of importance. Why is the visual category (in my opinion at least) one of the most popular and engaging portions of the ds106 site? Simply put, it's the simple attraction to..well, the visual. A picture paints a thousand words as the saying goes and you don't need to make something visually accomplished or attractive to have it resonate with a large audience (case in point).

    Another layer added to this of course is the fact that many if not all of the assignments under the visual category have some clear relation to modern pop culture, and this definitely helps. Allow me to explain: When you tap into an aspect of pop culture what you're doing is basically tapping into an established brand, an image, with a certain audience that goes along as par for the course. You get free fans, as is the case when someone posts, say, a YouTube video on a SpongeBob SquarePants dance and gets over 4 and a half million views despite having no official relation to the cartoon series:

    The same thing is happening when others evaluate editorial cartoons, as this guy Trevor Ross does in his blog on a couple of cartoons which also use the SpongeBob character. As Trevor says:
    Cultural resonance: Both cartoons use pop culture icons because they use SpongeBob, which is a pop culture icon.  His character is used as a symbol, and both cartoons speak to a broad audience.
    Note his points on cultural resonance and speaking to a broad audience. This is exactly the thing we're talking about (or, I'm talking about). People already like the thing you're referencing, so you get more people while doing less work. What a concept huh?

    Image: Egads! by libraryman through CC Licensing 

    To tie this back into the ds106 visual assignments though, I would say that this is precisely why many of the assignments are in some way related to or reference modern pop culture, as is the case here. There is at once a sense of recognition when I look at the assignment, and immediately see references to both Harry Potter and Star Wars. I feel more like doing this assignment if I see these references, and I think you would too, be it because of nostalgia or the desire to go along with what's "hip and trendy" at the time. This is pop culture after all, and incidentally while not of a visual nature, this also happens to be the concept behind my "1 Quote a Day" initiative on Twitter.

    Join me?

    "Come with me if you want to live..."