I had thought of myself as being at least somewhat computer literate before enrolling in this course. I was familiar with bits HTML and I knew how to use a few internet related/image-manipulative programs. However, I have never been as adept with such a broad spectrum of applications as I am now. From Gimp and Audacity to a deeper understanding of HTML - I've certainly gained a significant amount from this class in that respect. As far as my projects go, I feel as though you cannot understand the amount of effort that went into them simply by watching/observing them. I've submitted one or two revisions of each project. However, most of my revisions were done mid-construction. That's just the way that I find to work best for me. I assemble something, look at it, decide that it could be better, destroy it, and then start something completely different. With each of my collages, I changed the target character/song at least three times, and with each of those characters, I had one or two attempts at creating a suitable collage. Since these were not my desired product and certainly not my finished product, I refrained from posting them. It would be difficult to express the correlation and actively monitor the growth between a collage done about Sugar (The main villain from No Country for Old Men) and a "revision" done about John Preston (The one that I actually have posted). For me, the greatest part of this class was not learning about computers or creating projects that chronicle my growth as a thinker, but listening to the discussions of the class about different readings that we did outside of class. It's always thought it interesting to listen to other people express their opinions/perspectives about certain topics. It generates the "cultural sponge" feeling. I've been in English classes before, but they were all in High School, and populated entirely by essentially the same kid, thinking the same way, expressing the same opinions, and getting upset over the same concepts. With only myself and maybe one or two others to deviate from the norm, class discussions became inane and almost inconsequential. I knew that no matter what was said - no matter what opinions that were submitted - no matter how insightful an aspect of human existence/observation was expressed as long as it was contrary to their plastic set of doctrines for critical thinking, it was refuted. In this class, however, I really enjoyed the experience of having such a varying array of perspectives and personalities. Every thought that was verbalized was well thought out, valid, and unique to the person that said it. It was rare to find two people that agreed entirely upon any given topic, yet those two people respected each other's opinion. THAT was the aspect of this class that was like a breath of fresh air on a stagnant hospital operating table. But the directive of this portfolio is not to juxtapose my previous, insufferable schooling experiences with the inexpressibly enjoyable ones I had in this class; its to showcase the work that I've done in this class and my evolution as a creative thinker. Hajimeyou (Let's begin).
This was an assignment that I really enjoyed. It afforded me the opportunity to dissect a character in a way that I never had before. It provided me with a reason to think, "Okay. At this part, what is he feeling? What is he thinking? Now, what song expresses those feelings and thoughts exactly?" It tried to make this playlist as all-encompassing as possible, without it being too long and drawn out. In the first playlist, I chronicled Eric's journey through immortality. Placing his emotions into an almost tangible form, and applying music to them. In the second playlist (my "revised playlist") I didn't want to change much. I left the songs in the same order, and didn't replace any of them. I only changed the text, really. Allowing for a greater explanation of the connection between the song and the scene.
This assignment was a lot of fun for me. I like to be artistic sometimes, and these collages really let me vent some of that "artistic tension." The freedom with which we could go about completing this endeavor was also quite exhilarating. With the first collage, I chose John Preston, a character from the movie Equilibrium. That collage was geared more towards my anti-government/politics side as well as my love for action movies side. The final version shows John's transition from a cold-blooded killer, to an emissary of freedom. The second collage, whose topic was a modern Japanese love song, was more of a product of my passionate/emotional side. I filtered through my plethora of music stores for hours and hours attempting to find the perfect song about which to do this project amidst the myriad of potentials. While searching my memory for a good song, I remembered Frozen Rose. Thus, I had a song for the project. This was my favorite of the collages. It's not too loud, it's not gaudy or busy. It has a single theme along a single vertical line. Another thing I like about it is its complexity buried beneath its simplicity. It looks pretty at first, and then you apply the song lyrics. At which point, it becomes something more. You become aware of each individual element, and understand its face value. You look at it a bit longer, and gradually understand why the individual parts were chosen and what they all represent. Longer still, you look, and understand the interaction between each of the parts and the meaning that those have. You pass through all of these stages in either an instant, or a few moments. And, once you do, the chemistry of the picture becomes obvious.
Both of my video projects are posted under the same blog entry. The first is my original and the second is my revision. For some reason, however. Neither of these videos want to play the last 30 seconds of the song. I changed some of the elements in the second video, and added text towards the end. But, when I post it online, it cuts the end of the video off. Some of the pieces that are omitted are a Japanese man being executed by a firing squad, starving people in Nazi concentration camps, a Kamikaze pilot crashing into the deck of a ship, and horribly wounded and burned Vietnamese civilians running away from a napalm strike. No matter how many times I remake my video, however... it just won't show the last few seconds. I spent a significant amount of time on this project, and found it to be quite enjoyable and enlightening. Scouring the internet for video after video. Rejecting some videos, and accepting others (only to later reject them as well). I wanted to piece together something that would be truly insightful. War is always an interesting topic. No matter how you look at it. If you view it as something that brings nations together to work towards a common goal, or if you view it as the pinnacle of debauchery and evil, it's always something that evokes emotion. Whether you're adamant about facilitating War's inevitable demise, or if you're an advocate of the inevitability of war and its necessity in the process of bringing about piece in our realm. If you look at what I am literally, I'm a walking contradiction. I'm anti-government, anti-politics, I think that we shouldn't have any involvement in the middle east and that war is one of the worst things that can befall a nation. However, I'm in the ROTC and am well on my way to becoming a soldier, and I intend to remain such for a good 10 years. If you look at me objectively, however, I seem a little less contradictory. I don't believe that peace can be obtained with words alone. Action is required. So, when I fight, I fight for peace. I tried to show this in the video project. I tried to show the horrors of war, and how terrible it can be. But, at the same time, I tried to express its necessity. Not everyone wants peace. Not everyone wants to live in harmony with those around them. So, it's our job not as Americans, but as citizens of the world to fix it. It's falls upon some of us to give up our innocence so that we can stop others from harming the people that still want to retain their innocence.
The group work here was really inspiring. I think that this class should have had more group related assignments. Collaboration of this sort is something that always helps to motivate me to do an exceptional job on the assignment. The girls that I worked with were all insightful and open minded. They knew what they wanted to say, and articulated this in a very passionate and well-thought-out manner. In our podcast, we each picked a story that we wanted to talk about for a few minutes. This is one of the things that I wish we could have done differently. It gave our podcast a scripted feel, something that I had wanted to avoid. I'm not trying to insinuate that I knew from the beginning that this is not something that should have been done. I genuinely believed that our selected course of presentation would generate a sense of spontaneity and fluidity. I'm simply reflecting upon that moment from the present. In hindsight, we should have spoken more about each other's works; each speaker flippantly deciding when would be the best time to interject a thought or opinion on someone else's story. I think this was the plan in the beginning. That we were going to overlap speakings and talk not exclusively about our own works. However, since we didn't know exactly what the other people were going to say, the first story was over before anyone had made the initiative to add a thought. This, I believe, put us in a rut. When the next three stories fell into place, it seemed as though the thought "Well, nothing else has been said so far, so I don't see a reason in starting" dominated our minds. Our podcast was a good one, indeed. I just believe that it could have been better, if we had done a bit more planning. We focused heavily upon tying our stories together, and making sure that the transition from one to another was seamless, and that the motif of "Change" remained... unchanged. The ideas and thoughts that were expressed by the girls and myself were all highly valid and deserving of pondering. I just think the whole thing was over before we really knew what had happened, and no one had the opportunity that they wanted to say what they had intended to say.