UPDATE: (12.14.16) My project had to be aborted because I lost my voice. I held out hope that it would come back in time to do the work. After three weeks, I worried that even if it was back, it would not hold up to extended time reading aloud. There was also the risk of a relapse with the weather changing and so many people getting sick. It was a difficult decision because I really liked my project. Hopefully, I will be able to revisit it in the future.
Interactivity, Project Proposal
Purple: My thoughts on the questions
Red: Comments made in class
Blue: My conclusion about my thoughts and class comments
- How does cutting up a narrative text transform it? Does it change the meaning?
- Does the message change when linear construction is eliminated?
- How does text change as it is filtered through one medium and into another? (Text, Verbal, Image, Collage, Text)
- How do individual minds interact with each other and the text to create a combined meaning?
Nate thinks I need to reduce it down to one question.
I tend to agree that less is more when it comes to experimental questions. However, I am not sure I can cut this down any further
Nate also suggested that asking “does” the message change, is not relevant because we know it does
I don’t think it always will. I think it depends on the author, which is kind of what I want to show. The way that word power is retained even when cut apart
- Select a book.
Questions: What parameters should be set for the selection of the text? Some are obvious. The book must be short enough to be read in its entirety. It must be interesting enough for people to want to participate. Ideally, it should be interesting enough that I don’t go crazy reading it aloud for hours on end! I think it is important to be careful that the performance aspect stays intact. I don’t want to read something that will sound weird in my voice and accent. I am not a good enough dramatic reader to remove my own accent. You should hear Shakespeare in an Alabama accent!
Current Front runner: “Indignation” by Philip Roth. It is narrative and so removing linear time will be more impactful than something that is already attempting to break away from linear time constructions. It is about 300 pages so it is a reasonable length. It is interesting enough that even if people come in at random moments, they should be able to pick up enough of the story to want to know what happens next. It is powerful. It has strong ideas within the story. There are always lots of themes, but this book has a single unifying theme that overwhelms the others. I think that will help the activity. I like it enough to read it for hours but not so much that I have over analyzed it.
Weakness: It was recently made into a movie so that might influence peoples visual imagery. It seems to have been a small movie. It was in theaters. It is not yet out on video. I have not seen it. I doubt it was popular enough for people to pick up on it and be influenced by it but I could be wrong. On the other hand, that could be cool too. It adds yet another interpretation of the original. Maybe I could somehow use that. I don’t know.
Also: The author is alive and kicking and still writing. I would love to be able to send him pictures of the final project. Even if he doesn’t respond, he deserves to know someone was inspired by it.
Burroughs: Alicia suggested a Burroughs book. I looked at one but I felt that it was too stream-of-consciousness. Cutting it up seems unlikely to create a strong change in the text. I am also concerned that people will lose interest if they can’t find a compelling story quickly. On the other hand, I like the idea of using someone we have read.
Nate has serious issue with the criteria I am using for selection. He wants me to pick the Burroughs book. He also thinks that I need to “just see what happens” and not try and create success. he thinks it should be more randomly chosen.
I completely disagree. The purpose of my project is to show how texts retain elements of meaning as they are transformed. That makes the selection of text very important. I am also disinterested in selecting a book at random to just “see what happens” I know that I am setting this up to try and be successful. That is pretty much the goal. It is not a scientific experiment. I don’t have to approach it with perfect neutrality. I never said all texts retain meaning. I don’t think that. I just think some do and I think that is interesting. I also think that cycling through media and through multiple perspectives creates an interesting shift in how ideas are represented. I am not interested in the random!
- Select a location.
Questions: Where will there be enough people to produce responses? I can’t do this in the studios or the APE space. There are not enough people around.
- Arrange the Materials
I sit with my back against the wall and arrange the painting surface around me in a circle. I provide paint and painting implements.
Question: I was thinking of marshmallows but they are sticky and messy and would only be a novelty. Large sized paint brushes would accomplish the same thing. Should I try and create abstraction by using only large brushes and generic colors? That way people are less dependent on skill? Or should I provide a large number of available resources for response so that people can be more creative?
Current thinking: I am leaning towards providing a variety of brushes and paints so that people have more freedom of choice. This activity does not require abstraction the way that my student activity did. If people want to take time to paint detail, they should be allowed to do so. On the other hand, I do not want people to feel like only “artists” should participate.
I read the entire text aloud.
Questions: Should I only read when someone is present? I feel like that is the best option. Should there be a trigger? Maybe when someone picks up the paintbrush I begin to read. Maybe just start reading whenever anyone sits down.
Right now I think I should read whenever anyone sits down. I can include this in the instructions.
Set up a sign that asks people to sit down, listen and visually respond. Carefully word the instructions so that I do not have any other interaction with the listeners. I am only a conduit for the book. However, encourage them to interact with each other. DO not define the ways in which they do that. They can talk or not as they wish.
Allow people to paint. The surface should be in sections. When the entire book is finished, I should assemble the sections to create a total representation.
Questions: I think I should somehow define the sections. I am not sure how. I was thinking about squares of canvas or maybe wood. I could number them with some kind of random system so that they get assembled according to a system. I could also start with something solid and unified. Then when it is finished I could cut it into pieces and reassemble it. I could simply leave it as all one piece. My original thought was to sit in the center of an arrangement of rectangles and allow people to work wherever they wished. Then I decided a half circle would be better because people will naturally tend to sit facing me which would cause the pieces behind me to be overlooked. Also, I am not sure I can get enough participation to fill that many pieces. Then I went on to think that I could actually cut circular shapes, which would be interesting symbolism. Linear to infinite loop. Now I am picturing myself sitting on a circle with all the pages of the book inscribed somehow. People could spin me and I read from that page on. That would be cool. It would also be interesting to have a slowly spinning circle for people to work on. All of this is too complex. It is not necessary. A simple version will be fine.
Nate and Alicia both suggested that I should absolutely have a serial method of assembly and reassembly
I agree completely
Take the product and reassemble the book into a visual. I can’t be too specific about how to do this until it is done. Reassembling the product implies a weak feedback loop. The participants interact with me by responding and I interact with them by using their response.
Questions: I could be specific if I cut the material before and numbered the back using defined parameters so that it reassembled in an order that was predefined and not based on personal aesthetics, but I am not sure if this is important.
Display the assembled work and invite people to write short descriptions of what they see. This helps to imply that the process could continue indefinitely to create and recreate new meanings. It also allows me to compare the themes of the book to the themes identified in the final summaries.
Questions: Will people participate? Should I do this in my final presentation?
Book with cover obscured
photo, video and audio clips of the process
artists process description/reflection