Leap Year

Group Project 1.

www.leapyeartravel.wordpress.com


Reflection

Media: website.

“Intervention”: encouraging post-secondary students to take that time away from the comforts of home to go explore a whole new world (in a different part of our planet). The perspective it brings is worth it and typically critical for personal growth.

Easier said than done, I will admit. To hark back to earlier in the course, travelling during, just before or just after post-secondary requires and demonstrates privilege. It takes time, incredible budgeting, and a certain attitude to be able to travel like an explorer or adventurer or some such image.

Personally, I’m not sure I took much away that was new. Twitter and WordPress, though relatively new to me (I’ve only been using the latter for about three months), I was quite familiar with. I also know that travelling is one of the best experiences for students or new graduates, and is best done around this season of life. The only thing I have yet to do is actually go away and practice what I preach! I’ve only gone abroad for leisure or family vacations. I planned on doing a semester abroad, but my schedule declares it a forbidden love.

If anything, doing this project has renewed my conviction to travel after I graduate. Planning, budgeting, saving, is now a more real and more serious notion than it was when travelling was merely an ambitious dream. There’s still some of that — a lot of that — but I’m one step closer to making it a reality.

Maybe one way this project could have been extended, was to make a kickstarter or crowdfunding video. “Send us abroad!”

That route certainly wouldn’t be an uncommon one. Filmmakers, entrepreneurs and many others are using this kind of media to engage the online community with their creative products on an unprecedented scale. Once again, the internet is reshaping our way of life in big ways.

First Podcast!

Here’s the story that predictive texting helped us create in the end:

What are your parents and I got in the basement of your academic institution?

Hey dude that is privileged material for me.

Alright well I’m going back to the future of our lives and then you can just do our own project.

Well you still have some fun things to consider before we begin by on January.

Time flies when we are having problems that can arise.

We will provide you with the chemicals that you need of the past year, or if you want me to check the box for the drug dealer…

How are they gonna donate their “green beans” to the future generations of your fellow citizens with everything about to go down?

I don’t know how to burn the people that you have been eating.

Whatever happens after this is not to be confused with other things that the government should consider using.

OK cool I’m going to wait and stuff after the government has been generated.

I’ll email you the best and most popular stories of the galaxy on your computer and then I gotta prepare for the future. Okay? So you can just vent and I will give you guys that day off.

Thanks for getting me the best thing ever.


Reflection

Assignment 7. This assignment is probably the one I had the most fun making for this digital portfolio. We had to make something using a form of media we had never used before. It was a little nerve racking, putting something like this online, but I’d never actually start the podcast I’ve been meaning to start, if I never tried. The embarrassment wave is sure to hit me sometime soon…

For me, writing is much more digestive, for lack of a better term, for thought processing. I can take my time to chew and reflect on whatever experience I had. I can have the time to make connections, draw parallels, go back and fix something, clarify something, whatever it may be. With a podcast, you’re very much a prisoner of time in that you can’t really do those things, you can only edit things out later. You’re forced to live in the moment, because for better or worse, that moment will be frozen and preserved thereafter.

As a result, I can tell these podcasts are going to be much lighter than my Light Within posts. Conversations with people, stories and narratives with a more “authentic” feel in that nothing on the podcast will ever be as structured and crafted as blogpost content. But you never know. In a way blog content is an exposure of the internal processes, and the podcast is an exposure of the external. Listening back, I hadn’t realized how different these processes are for me.

Feelings aside, there’s a lot of media going on here. Podcast, Skype, Texting and a strange narrative to tie it all together. I can share a podcast with the internet world — a scope too large to properly comprehend — and even 5 hours apart, the media can still connect two friends. The internet is like a wormhole, bringing two distant points in space through some higher dimension together, creating a shortcut between them.

But what speaks most about our culture’s integration of, obsession with, and dependence on screens is the predictive text feature on many of our phones. Yes it’s a fun game to play across any distance, but how does the existence of this feature make meaning?

First, written language was done by hand — on stone or wood, then paper. Then we learned to type with ten fingers. Then we learned to type with two thumbs. Now we’re not supposed to type at all? For any conspiracy theorists out there, this predictive text feature is teaching our devices to think for us, to learn our language, bringing us ever closer to “the singularity,” or the point when our technology becomes our masters.

For now, AI and robots taking over the world are merely great pieces of science fiction, but in many ways, the singularity has come and gone. What are we to do without our smartphones, our laptops, the internet, WiFi, GPS? Even self-driving cars are on the horizon. Society at large has become totally dependent on our toys, a life without them seems unbearable, dare I say impossible.

The toys and tools are not bad in and of themselves of course, but asking them to do everything for us seems to me to be a symptom of bigger issues within the human condition: a deep need for connection and community, and a subconscious awareness of our futility. If everyone is forgotten in the end, let’s preserve our activity. But also, if the fruits of our labour will wither when we do, why bother labouring in the first place if we can build something that can do it for us?

I’m exaggerating a little, but not by much.

Media and technology have invaded, and for better and worse, we have welcomed them with open arms.

“Cup Song” Throwback

Assignments 9 and 11, remixing and bricolage.

Listen and sing along with the score. Orange play button is on the bottom left.


Reflection

My first mash-up! All of the songs in there seem somewhat dated now, but they weren’t when I first started.

For this project I used an online program called Noteflight, which I hadn’t really touched since my time in the Trudeau Wind Symphony (high school).

I’d been thinking about starting a “real” YouTube channel for some time now, and I’m a little closer to getting there, but at the time of starting this particular project, the “cup song” from Pitch Perfect was all the rage. With a new creative cover of the song appearing every time I signed in online, 2012 me thought I’d do an a cappella cover of my own. I was supposed to perform and film it with some talented friends but never finished it until now.

I first learned how to do the cup beat from the movie to Nothing But the Blood, a classic hymn, which is what got this whole cover ambition going. Alas, as with many of my grand ideas, very few of them get executed, and of those, even fewer are completed. While I learned to actually put a mash-up of 5 very different songs together, I think for me, this assignment was more about confronting my tendency to abandon ideas before they’ve been played with, before their potential has even been explored. After three odd years of gathering dust, this mash-up isn’t where I thought it would be, but it’s finished, and I like it enough. Maybe it’s time I gave all my “rejects” another chance — or rather their first chance.

As for bricolage, changing something’s meaning, that almost happened by accident. I was challenged last week to further my media literacy by using it to actually say something. Playing and exploring is an important first step, but now that I’ve discovered the tool, how am I going to use it?

The 5 songs I used in the mash-up are really only related by their tempo and time signature so that they could match the beat. Otherwise, their styles and their genres are all fairly different. Each story the lyrics tell is different.

When I’m Gone by Lulu and the Lampshades. What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction. Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North. Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars. Nothing But the Blood by Robert Lowry.

It’s hard to tell without the lyrics actually being sung, but once every song has been showcased, the lyrics meld together at the end to say this:

When I’m gone, this is where the healing begins. What can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus, ’cause You’re amazing just the way You are… and that’s what makes you beautiful.

Not to alienate anyone who doesn’t share my worldview, but it seems to work its way into most of everything I do, and I think the gospel is a story worth over and over again. Our brokenness can only begin to heal when we take our eyes off ourselves, and that healing is possible because of Christ’s blood on the cross. Not Santa Claus Jesus who ought to give you everything you ask for, not military Jesus who only gives orders or penalties, but Jesus as He is, the perfect Lamb who was slain in our place… and that’s what makes us beautiful, whole again.

In a society that’s becoming more and more secular, not only have people developed a deeper yearning for some sense of spirituality, but shamefully, I’m finding myself to be more apologetic for my own. The gospel isn’t popular in this day and age, or else I wouldn’t be apologizing.

This course, but this assignment in particular was definitely a challenge and an exercise in vulnerability. First going back and fixing what I had written off as a failure, but more importantly taking a risk and being myself without apology or compromise.

Think Before You Act

poster_from_postermywall

Group project 2.

Guelph, like most of Canada, is culturally diverse. Perhaps not to the same degrees as other larger cities like Toronto, but diverse all the same. We wanted to promote this diversity in Guelph’s restaurant industries, to encourage citizens to taste and experience other corners of the world.

Click the poster to see where to go!


Reflection

We’ve all heard someone tell us, “think before you act,” at some point in our lives. But sometimes, we think a lot, but don’t end up doing any of the action.

For this interventionist project we used PosterMyWall to create the poster, and google maps to geotag. Geotagging is relatively new to us, and the poster website is something we had never heard of before.

We thought about using Photoshop of course, which we were all familiar with, but I was surprised at how easy it was to find an free online program that accomplishes the task. Certainly, we were more limited, but I suppose less choices make for less dilemmas and a quicker result with more or less the same quality.

Changing the world seems like a daunting task, but with the right tools, it is a lot easier to get started than I used to think. The very words, “changing the world” seems to connote big breakthroughs and grandeur, but it’s easy to forget that nothing that changed the planet started as an elaborate scheme.

Touching new media, taking a step forward to changing this city for the better… it’s a small step, but it’s still farther than I where I was before I did this project. I didn’t expect to get much out of this assignment, but now that I’ve seen how easy it is to get started… possibilities and ideas are starting to open up. My online activity is mainly about expression, but maybe it’s time to use it for action too. As they say…

In a world of talkers, be a thinker and a doer.

Destin Sandlin

Dragon Eyes

To see a world in a grain of sand, and Heaven in a wild flower. To hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.

William Blake


Reflection

Assignment 5: A five shot video diary.

I used Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects for the first time to create this video. First impression, fantastic. I played around, I watched some tutorials, a whole other world of endless possibility seemed to open up to me. I’m excited to make more videos, short films and stories.

In truth, I wasn’t thinking about the assignment because I was so overwhelmed with how cool doing this was, so my five shot video isn’t so much a diary as much as it is a montage of interesting things I wanted to try with the camera and the program.

Nonetheless, each of the five shots show how I like to perceive the world. I don’t always see things this way, but it’s thrilling when I do.

First, my eye and my large pupils. I’ve been told many a time that I have big eyes. When I was young and everything was still not quite proportionate, my eyeballs must have been too big for my head because you couldn’t see any white. It makes for some interesting pictures.

My Grandpa used to say that I had li zye longan, eyes like a longan fruit — which itself means “Dragon Eye.” A bit of a stretch, and no one ever calls me that, but it struck me that I do see differently. Or at least I try to. I can sit in a room for hours thinking about a new story and a new world — which is why I’m not picking up the phone in the video.

In the second shot, a cherry blossom grows and falls. It’s basic science with crystals and a super saturated solution, but it’s beautiful. And how much more amazing are the slow moving giants in our yards.

In the third shot, a small gift from someone you love always means more than it seems.

In the fourth shot, every snowflake looks like a uniquely cut diamond. Infinite in number, and wondrously beautiful.

In the last shot, time goes by that fast when I’m working on a script or a story. Those eight hours might as well have lasted those handful of seconds. To get a little circular, I was also writing this post in that video.

What I love about film making and storytelling is that you can start with having something to say, but the story always seems to tell itself. It tells you how it wants to end, it tells you how and when it wants to move. It’s much like sculpting in that sense. The sculptor isn’t just turning a block into a statue, the statue is already inside and the sculptor is just digging it out of the block.

I suppose the whole “message” of the video relates to this new venture into editing. Video editing is about crafting and framing how audiences see the world on the screen. I’m not the only one to see the world with a bit of imagination, but for those who don’t, this is the invitation.

Reconnecting

Two summers ago, I finished my very first manuscript with an 80,000 word first draft. After about a week of celebrating, I chopped that word count in half after changing my mind (again) about the story, and then shelved it. I haven’t begun the rewrites, but the world I built there is still very close to me.

For assignments 10 and 12 for this class, intertextuality and creative commons, I thought WattPad was a great vehicle for me to demonstrate both of these. I used a social media website I’ve never used before (despite having an account for years), as well as reconnected with a story that I’ve been meaning to work on.

The prologue for this “spinoff” series is actually the last chapter of my unpublished manuscript, but slightly modified with some expositional details. Of course, is it really a spinoff if the text it is spinning off of doesn’t publicly exist? Who knows.

You can read it HERE.


Reflection

The intertextuality is clear in my allusions to the people who created and inspired the Sherlock Holmes mythology. Artistic license has been taken of course. In my story, Dr. Joseph Bell, the inspiration for Sherlock, has just solved his best friend’s murder with the help of my own character, Wilbur Henderson. A young Arthur Conan Doyle even makes a brief appearance.

Wattpad, being a fantastic resource, network and community for creative writers, has an option to apply a creative commons license on published stories, and I chose the Attrib. NonComm. ShareAlike CC license.

Originally I was going to write something self-contained rather than serialized, but it seems Wattpad is designed for series. It is a place where fiction (mostly) and blogging meet. We’ve conditioned ourselves to feel pleasure when receiving a like, comment, share, view, etc. on social media, and Wattpad is no different. How many reads and hearts does your story have?

While some might say this practice is only perpetuating our enslavement to online social networks, I also think it’s important that writers get their work out there, to not be so precious about the worlds and fantasies they spend so much time in. The creative commons licenses help overcome that worry of having works stolen. But the benefits of publishing aren’t so much for exposure, but for practice the writing craft, exchanging feedback and connecting with like-minded people. I’m new at all that myself, but having something officially “published” certainly gives me an incentive to keep writing, to not let my story well run dry. People might be reading. People might want to know more. Even if they don’t, I do.

Wattpad is also filled with fan fiction. Though not taken very seriously, which is sometimes well founded, the practice of taking an existing world and adding to it, modifying it, merging it with something else, can be a great creative exercise. It’s almost like growing homemade salt crystals. It starts small, but when submerged in a supersaturated solution, it grows and builds upon itself. Audiences can expand the world of the story and explore the characters, see what they can do with it, test their creative writing chops.

One of the many working slogans for this course certainly applies here: you’re only limited by your imagination.

Around the World in 80 Hashtags

Assignment 8 and 13.

When we played with google maps in class, I quite literally “discovered America on the map” #creoleexpression #noonegetsit #crickets

Folksonomy and Geotagging.

I never participated much in folksonomy — tagging and hashtagging, but seeing tweets or a status with a paragraph of them always makes me #smile.

Of course, this class is about trying new things, new media, and new technology. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a class whose name alone aptly summarizes the course: Approaches to Media.

We have approached different media, experimented with it, #played with it, #failed at it, and #learned from it.

As such, this post is going to have a #hashtagoverload as I try to use tagging or folksonomy in a way I never have in the past. I also set up a Delicious account here before people could finish explaining to me what it was. (#excited #impulsive) Being able to access bookmarks on any device with internet access is more than useful and personally, the best part of this experience. However coming up with a list of tags when prompted becomes conflicting. I don’t want there to be too many categories to keep track of, but I still want there to be enough of them to make a nice tag cloud.

I hesitate to put these fake #hashtags into the actual WordPress tag cloud for this post because it keeps track of these tags that I will likely never use again, thereby tainting the efficiency of my tag cloud. A little overdramatic perhaps, but here is my logic. Tags are like drawers, organizing things by similar themes or content as dictated by my OCPD tendencies (I don’t actually have this personality disorder). Too many drawers almost defeats the purpose of grouping and organization. But here’s to #exploration, a simulation of what it would be like to use hashtags in a blogpost about geotagging. #segue

Geotagging, literally tagging the world. I decided to #dream a little and map out the cities I’d like to visit on a hypothetical year abroad after graduation. Click the map below for a closer look.

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 5.11.49 PM

21 cities or locations, 12 months, unlimited resources.

#Toronto #NewYork #Montreal #Glasgow #London #Paris #Nice #Cannes #Barcelona #Rome #Athens #ReunionIsland #Mauritius #Rodrigues #Sydney #Wellington #Maui #SanDiego #LosAngeles #Vancouver #Chicago.

Of course there are plenty of other cities that I would love to add to this list, but this is only round one.

As an #introvert and a #homebody, I found it strange that I’m so eager to travel. But at the same time, why wouldn’t you go see the world? My list of cities is nothing too exotic — famous cities, expensive cities, familiar places. What struck me most about this list are the places my itinerary completely misses.

#SouthAmerica #Africa #EasternEurope #Asia

I realized that I was treating this hypothetical itinerary as a year-long #vacation. Most people take that year abroad to #discover themselves, to #mature, to broaden their worldview and sense of #culture. Others do it to gain international #experience. But for me, this trip almost seems like I’m running away — a #quest for a more interesting life or an opportunity to take incredible pictures just to draw some attention to my Facebook page.

It seems that I’ve always been after an #adventure — not in the adrenaline junkie sense, but rather in leaving the mundane behind. While I think there are healthy amounts of this, it’s also important for me to keep re-focusing and re-centering. The grass is always greener on the side and there are always great things being done here at home, if only I’d look.

When it comes to planning ahead, I tend to be too far-sighted. I’ll look across an ocean for opportunity or I’ll dream about how things will go five years from now, before I even start looking at the short-term plan. Plan ahead, but not too far ahead, I suppose. First things first.

Now here’s the #irony. Assignments 8 through 13 are the media project portion of the course. Therefore this post, the first of these particular projects proves to be a very short-lived “first things first” given that I’m tackling the last one, geotagging, first. Looks like linear ordering is much too #mundane for my subconscious.

So I have explored folksonomy and I have geotagged a world exploration. My first impression of this “new technology” or technology that I’ve touched for the first time feels like exactly that; the same wonder and pleasure when a child experiences playing with a new toy. Granted, not as overwhelming as when I first touched my scriptwriting program or more recently, After Effects from the Adobe Creative Suite.

This creative exercise in media is something that I will definitely try again. I may not have explored a deeper region or layer of my core self or my soul, but it was a welcome #adventure all the same.

Narrative Essay: After Writing

In addition to the actual assignment (that not everyone will be able to see just yet), we have to write about what it was like to write it. This is what it looks like when my “metacogs” start turning.


Choosing a time when I experienced a life-shaping struggle was difficult. There I was, a writer with nothing to write about and a stubbornness that refused to choose. It reminded me of all the other occasions when I couldn’t decide. Why could I never decide?

Instead I began to tackle one of the words that was on my Passions assignment, hybrid. To be honest, I needed more words to fill the page and hybrid was just a word on the surface of my thoughts when I think about my identity. But the subconscious works in funny ways. When I presented that assignment to the class, hybrid required some elaboration. Why hybrid?

After writing the paper, I felt relief more than anything else. I had finally articulated my thoughts and feelings on the two questions that I always start answering with a sigh. “What’s your background? What’s your major?” This paper is the complete answer I wish I could tell people! Alas, few have the time for that, and these questions are usually for small talk, starting points for what they really want to talk about. Other takeaways include some fun facts I came across while researching my cultural and ancestral roots.

As for how I view identity now that I’ve written this, I’m not sure my perception of it has changed dramatically. Certainly, I can better embrace who I am in relation to the rest of our dominant culture. I had always wanted to fit in and belong, as many of us have experienced, but it almost seems childish now. Around 16 or 17, “fitting in” became equated with conforming — “conforming” and all its negative connotations. Of course, I still care about what people think of me, but I am free from the belief that I have to wear one of culture’s clearly defined labels.

Another thought I had about this paper was that I’m certainly making myself look like I think I’m the most special thing on the planet. Here’s the disclaimer: the truth is, we’re all “hybrids” in some way. At the very least, are we not both our mother and father and yet neither? The point is seeing past the labels, or the lack thereof. Why put my identity in something as fragile as my relationships, my interactions, my career, my history or my future anymore?