Recently my friend and collaborator Josephine Dorado invited me to speak with her Social Media Mashup class at The New School, which I was delighted to do. The conversation (on Seesmic) ranged across a variety of topics, including improvisation vs. structure (in my work and live visuals in general), visual performance tools, and how my own background as a theater/comedy actor has impacted my live visual work. Now that the class is moving on to another topic, I’m posting this here for anyone who’d like to keep the conversation going, e.g., ask me all the heavy, technical questions I said I’d answer later. Thanks again, Josephine, Barb, Tom, Debbie, andrihatesjazz, Cecelia, Antoine, Rick and all you lurkers. Happy holidays!
As I said earlier today, I’m writing, writing, writing my thesis paper stuff, which, thank god, is not as painful as my writing process used to be just a few months back. It’s an engaging challenge putting my motivations for Kids Connect as clearly as possible…without using bullet points. Here’s one of my objectives, which will form the template/questionnaire for the thesis paper itself. Your feedback would be much appreciated. Here are some guiding words on clarity if you need them. If you prefer, add your thoughts on my page on the ZoomLab wiki.
Objective : teach read/write media literacy and cultivate a critical stance to mass media
Why: One of the primary goals of Kids Connect (KC) is read/write media literacy. What does this mean? To be literate is to be able to read and write. A full understanding of media (new, mass and otherwise) necessitates practical know-how of audio and video recording/editing, creation and synthesis. [Quote Mark Twain about reading the river]. In order to be critical of media, you must be able to distance yourself from it. A practical understanding of the craft of media creation and manipulation cultivates that distance. Moreover, a one-sided conversation is a lecture. Few young people are learning how to master the written word, to produce a compelling argument in nouns and verbs. It is vital that young people learn to write media, to raise their voices over and around the constant shouting match and join the discussion.
How: In the first two weeks of workshops, students learn to shoot video with cameras of various quality, record audio with a variety of microphones, go on sound walks and video walks (experiential exercises in listening and seeing), composition and framing, editing and compression. Each technology is approached through exercises with storytelling, improvisational and/or experiential frames. For example, convey a given emotion through a sequence of still images. In the subsequent weeks, these skills are built upon in exercises exploring expression of identity, neighborhood and community experience. Example: take photos, audio and video of your home in your neighborhood, edit together a gestalt, share it through Second Life. Furthermore, we introduce our students to the world of live visual performance. They learn the techniques of live visuals and VJ-ing: how to mix and synthesize live, streaming, and pre-recorded media, how to express emotion and narative through abstracted light and sound, and to do this collaboratively over networks.
They’ve [Some have] already given up on the written word [for formal purposes, e.g., an argument –thank you, Anton]: we teach them the new multimedia communication skills they passionately desire.
Evaluation: How can you tell if someone has developed read/write media literacy? By seeing what they’ve expressed through various media. At the end of the workshops, we will have a large collection of work by our students to examine, as well as many hours of teaching experience to consider. We’ll sift this for patterns and I will write it up in my thesis paper.
Eight 13 – 15 year old New York City students + five 19 – 21 year old Amsterdam students + 1 co-director + four assistant teachers (later, two and a half) + nine guest teachers + two Amsterdam teachers X (five weeks here | eight days there) + three-ish administrators + a whole lot of help from other people, especially Andres :), == quite a lot of work. Kids Connect workshops concluded on Friday. I’m stunned and delighted at the relatively huge quantity of free time I have now. Back to three squares + eight hours sleep + a social life (! surprise) + a whole lot of thesis writing to do, not to mention the proposals for the next Kids Connect workshop ~= relatively not as busy but quite busy and it’s a good thing I like being busy. I gave Carl and IDMI a little posable man as a token of our thanks (I find it amusing that his IKEA name is “Gestalta”). Carl got quite a giggle out of it. I’ve got three minutes left on the remorseless Pester before it’s back to writing thesis stuff…what to say. Hmm. My friend Adam Kendall gave me a DVD of some of his work the other night at the Speigel Tent EyeWash show. I have yet to watch it but it’s a beautifully crafted CD and jewel case so it allures me. Perhaps in 10 minutes or so Pester will give me a break to check it out….au’voir.
How can you argue with this video? These kids are cool.
Kids Connect is going very well. Our students are learning a lot, they like us, we like them, it’s an avalanche of busy and all good. Tomorrow we’ll open a window (read: video conference) with our counterparts in Amsterdam; we put the above video together in VJ-U today with Benton Bainbridge, who thought it’d make a great welcome when they join us on the Kids Connect island. More later, stories and pictures now:
Things are going very well.
We students and teachers are making lots of stuff for the island.
I made something today that gives me great pleasure. I took a photo of one of the Lawrence Weiner manhole covers and made it a 3D texture in Second Life. Click the pic for full effect.