Category Archives: art

Random facts I learned from Flickr today

They may be random, but I’m still learning.

Flickr is fun to browse, but more and more, I’m discovering Flickr to be an interesting way to learn. The photos take me into places I’ve never been, to things I normally wouldn’t see, often providing interesting background information.

Here are a few random things I learned from Flickr photos today

This photo was taken in Russia by seriykotik1970

russianbuilding

An art nouveau building near my office that was gutted by fire last week. Sadly it’ll now probably be demolished and ‘rebuilt’. In Moscow fires of this sort are often started deliberately by unscrupulous developers.
Designed by Lev Kekushev in about 1910.
Photographed in 2007

Turkish roosters are very colourful

turkishcock1

turkishcock2

Smarthistory is a group on Flickr which complements the website smarthistory.org. The purpose of this website and Flickr group is to enhance or replace the traditional art history textbook.

For example, you can learn about Matisse’s Red Studio from a short video using Flickr pictures of art collected by group members. 

Redstudiomatisse

If you read About Smarthistory, you will understand the motive behind the creation of this website and Flickr group:  

We are dissatisfied with the large expensive art history textbook. We find that they are difficult for many students, contain too many images, and just are not particularly engaging. In addition, we find the web resources developed by publishers to be woefully uncreative. We had developed quite a bit of content for our online Western art history courses and we had also created many podcasts, and a few screencasts for our Smarthistory blog. So, it finally occurred to us, why not use the personal voice that we use when we teach online, along with the multimedia we had already created for our blog and for our courses, to create a more engaging “web-book” that could be used in conjunction with art history survey courses. We also realized that this content would be useful to museum visitors and other informal learners. We are committed to joining the growing number of teachers who make their content freely available on the web.

Smarthistory is an excellent example of what can be done to create high-quality, free educational resources through collaboration. You’ll understand the scope of this project when you look at the site map which provides a hyperlinked timeline of art history. I also like to check out the discussion in groups.

The best thing about learning on Flickr is that you don’t expect to.  That’s why it’s so enjoyable.

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Can we see the process in the end product?

indoorlanewayproject

Last Saturday my sister (art teacher) and I finally saw the exhibition of work which was the culmination of The Indoor Laneway project. My last post explains the project.

The exhibition space is quite large and the ideas behind the exhibit well thought out. The adolescent bedroom and laneway leading to the main screen showcasing students’ work is effective. We sat on the chairs provided (I felt a little like Papa Bear on Baby Bear’s chair) and enjoyed the mix of styles and perspectives.

As we were going out, I said to my sister, ‘It’s more than it looks’.

That’s not to denegrate it in any way. I thought the exhibition looked professional, and considering the short six-week time period for the whole thing to come together, it was very impressive. It is true about art in general – and many other things too, of course – that there’s more to the whole process than meets the eye, and I think it’s worth thinking about. The Indoor Laneway Project blog solves that problem for students and educators involved, and in this way it holds the valuable stuff – the evolving thoughts, thrown-up ideas and resources, positive feedback, documentation of the process which leads to the final product, but which is almost more than the final product.

I thought I’d pull out some examples of what I mean from the blog:

Eugenia defines the most important part of the experience – collaboration:

Hi Indoor Laneway creators,

I can see you’ve been working hard and exploring the remix idea which is so excellent to see. A big part of this project is about connecting with others even if you live hundreds of kilometres apart and using this blog as a portal – and Terrie and Rebecca it’s so cool that this is the concept you’re using in your portal/portrait work.

Nikita (student from Mooroopna) says:

Hi everybody. I’m Nikita and i was thinking about making a virtual dance video if Daniel was interested…It would be great to have us both filmed in front of a green screen and then all footage is combined here… The most exciting thing about this is it could be the first time that this has been attempted. Hope you guys are really interested in this idea.

Yolander called for a combined effort from the cohort:

We need sounds such as laughter, voices of family and other important sounds that will relate to it, would you be able to assist me in writing this particular way?… Help in researching sounds. (it is easy to spend all day…) We have 8 min of swamp sounds as the birds all wake up for background… 

We would also like to use lots of home bits and pieces from both schools, sporting things and home items and animate them in and out. HELP!!!

Nikita thinks out ideas and process:

I was thinking of the way we could tackle this Virtual Dance video. Firstly we need to find a soundtrack from Jamendo that goes for 3 mins minimum that has an easy beat to dance a simple routine to. Then we should choreograph a simple routine for Daniel and I.

Pros- It will look great when finished.

Cons- It will look a little artifical and the greenscreen size will restrict movement but thats ok.

Kayla and Laura share an idea:

We are working with the other students on this project and we are glad that you like the idea of involving everyone.

We would like to get some Photos and/or short Clips of close ups of eyes or people pointing in and looking from WFS when possible to add to our project.

Emma, Yolander, Tom, Josh, Maddison ask for contributions:

A group of us have decided to concentrate on our original idea of the light beams coming from the computer screen. We would like to have the photos from home going into the computer with Indoor Laneway open on the screen, with the light beams as a way to remix them. We have recorded or sourced sounds that will be appropriate for this project, such as ‘catch it’ when a cricket ball goes into the screen and waves for a surfboard. This idea will incorporate everyones work. Could you please send us HEAPS of high res. photos and if possible with the objects eg. cricket ball, skateboard, guitar, etc. selected out and saved in a .PNG format? That would be really awesome

 These are just some of the extracts from the interactive process at the heart of The Indoor Laneway Project. I think you get an idea of where the strength and value of this project lies.

Will viewers of the exhibition understand the depth of this project? Probably not. If they took time to have a look through the blog on the computers provided in the exhibition, then they’ll have some idea. If they browse the tab ‘Make and create tasks and responses’ on the blog, then they’ll have an even better understanding of the project.

Does it matter? Do viewers need to know every aspect of the process? Well, from an assessment perspective, yes. Surely the entire process would be considered in the final evaluation. This brings me to the question of assessment in general. If we understand that the entire learning journey is valuable, and not just the final product, are we convinced that our method of assessment is appropriate, or should we rethink it?

Clearly, what the kids get out of it is more than the finished product. Their learning experience has been enriched by the challenge of a multi-tasked program, through online collaboration with another school, spurred by a project taking them out of the school to a public audience. I can imagine that the face-to-face meeting would have been fantastic, and building the sets together enjoyable.

Wouldn’t it be good if there were more opportunities for students of every discipline similar to this one?

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Art students collaborate – Indoor Laneway Project

Sometimes things happen in schools. Days and lessons go by and pile up but occasionally an exciting kind of learning takes place. Marie Salinger, art teacher and Director of Learning Enhancement at Whitefriars College (my school), has been a catalyst for this kind of learning. Marie has taken the plunge with her Year 11 Studio Arts class – diving into unchartered waters and taking on the challenge of long-distance, shared learning with Mooroopna Secondary College many kilometres away. Did I mention they had less than a term to produce a show for the public? I’m talking about the Indoor Laneway Project.

Marie talks about how she feels about the project

I am feeling so energised and excited about the Indoor Laneway Project and am especially enjoying the chance to tap into some wonderful, rich resources so easily. Working with Dan West (the Arts Centre) and Eugenia Lim (ACMI) and having access to their wealth of experience, knowledge, technical expertise and creative talents has been a huge incentive and is adding a whole new level of excitement to my work in the classroom. I have also noticed a big shift in how the students are approaching the set tasks. They feel that there is a real purpose to their work and are very aware that they will be addressing a much larger audience than would usually be the case. Normally we might have the opportunity to display their artwork around the school as well as at our VCE exhibition in October. Displaying student work in this way for the school communitiy is great but now we have the chance to show our artwork to anyone, anywhere in the world, who is interested . A daunting but also very exciting possibility.

In the About section of the Indoor Laneway Project’s website, you’ll read this:

Education at the Arts Centre Presents Indoor Laneway – an online collaborative arts project. Its intention is to allow regional and metropolitan secondary school students to develop digital sound and art work.

 Under the mentorship of an established media artist and school based digital media educators, participants remix and re-contextualise each others work and collectively assemble sound and images to explore artistic practice that focuses on key concepts of: 

  • Self
  • Home
  • Global and Local Positioning
  • Connection
  • Exchange 

Over two weeks in September, the Indoor Laneway will establish a virtual space in the Arts Centre’s BlackBox where work generated will be displayed, results disseminated in a public forum and location based performances will take place.

Of all the outcomes listed in the About page, this is one which resonated with me:

  • encourage within participants a community of collaborative creation and a sense of unity working towards a common artistic outcome;

Talking to Marie during the very short span of several weeks before the opening, she spoke of a sense of excitment and engagement amongst the students, and a noticeable increase in productivity and bouncing off others’ ideas. On the day that the two classes met at the Black Box in the Arts Centre to build the sets, I would have loved to be there to witness the shared activity which prepared for a real exhibition in a well known Melbourne Arts space and open to a real audience. I have a feeling this will be something the students will always remember.

Reading Marie’s blog posts, you can sense her involvement in the students’ engagement with the project:

It is so wonderful to see these young students bouncing ideas around. They are so creative and innovative and I am loving the vitality that surrounds the project. There is a lot of dialogue going on about the actual exhibition space and how we might use it to display the very large, diverse and amazing art mountain that has developed from the Indoor Laneway Project.

I’m looking forward to seeing the exhibition this Saturday. Congratulations to Marie, to students and art teachers of Whitefriars College and Mooroopna Secondary College, for your amazing, inspiring work! A real example of authentic learning beyond the walls of the classroom and out of the textbook. Learning from each other, creating together and exhibiting to the world.

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Pictures take me back to the story

Who doesn’t love illustrations? That’s a rhetorical question. I doubt that anybody would take offense to illustrations being interspersed amongst the text of a story.

The Guardian treats its readers to a taste of a new series of recently  illustrated children’s classics.

Walkers have put together some of the world’s greatest children’s literature with the best contemporary illustrators to create a beautiful and accessible collection of classics for a new generation. Here we gather together images from the first five titles in the Walker Illustrated Classics series.

Even if you’ve read these classics, the illustrations may entice you to have another look. For me, the fresh visual interpretation is even more enticing considering how well worn these stories are.  I’m curious as to how an illustator can create a new perspective when so many have done the same and so successfully. And of course, who can resist discovering the work of ‘the best contemporary illustrators’? The Guardian gives us a taste of the first 5 titles in the series accompanied by the illustrators’ reflections – a sure hook to wanting to see the rest.

Paul Howard illustrated Classic poetry and reveals his initial apprehension:

The idea of illustrating classic poetry terrified me at first – I can’t remember jokes let alone poems from my school days and consequently think of myself as a ‘poetus ignoramus’. To my great surprise this worked in my favour and I found myself embarking on a fantastic voyage of discovery.

Childrens-Illustration-poetry

Howard’s personal challenge to tackle poetry could be an inspiration for the current reading generation for whom poetry has become largely engimatic.

When I was battling to understand some of the poems, Michael Rosen would read them to me aloud. Listening to him was like clearing a misty window and letting the sun pour in.

Helen Oxenbury’s unmistakable style brings a contemporary realism to Alice in Wonderland.

I admire Tenniel’s original illustrations enormously, but I find his typically Victorian style rather stiff …

Childrens-Illustration-Alice

Inga Moore’s reflection provides a fascinating honesty:

The Secret Garden is one of the greatest books for children of all time and it took me a long while to pluck up the courage to illustrate it. What made me think I could do it justice? I knew a merely decorative approach wouldn’t do for a work with such depth of meaning so I decided to bring out as much of its meaning as I could in my pictures, carefully placing them next to the words they illustrated in the hope that the two together would make a more vivid whole …

I love the atmosphere of this picture, and the attention to detail (notice the tiny red bird high in the tree).

Childrens-Illustration-secretgarden

Nicola Bayley combines contemporary realism with the exotic in her interpretation of  Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle book.

For me, illustrating a classic is treading a fine line between authenticity and beauty.

Childrens-Illustration-Junglebook

Chris Riddell brings his own style to the classic Don Quixote:

Very early on I decided not to be daunted by the size of the book and to approach light-heartedly, in an attempt to reflect the satire and humour in the work. Don Quixote is a great big book that satires great big books, an epic romance that pokes fun at epic romances. I looked at the paintings of Velázquez, and used costumes and settings from his great Royal portraits to give the illustrations a 17th-century feel, but I also wanted a fantasy feel to the illustrations, so the giants and monsters came out of my imagination …

Childrens-Illustration-DonQuixote

In light of Anne Fine’s recent outspokenness about the grimness of contemporary Young Adult fiction, Walker’s collection of contemporary illustators’ re-envisioning of well loved classics, may be just what we need. As much as I love the honesty and power of modern fiction for young people, I don’t mind revisiting my old fantasy haunts, entering the rich, illustrated world which has always been such a tantalising, albeit temporary, escape from the everyday. If, as children, we fed our imagination and creativity with favourite illustations of fantastic tales,  why shouldn’t we revisit now and then to take nourishment?

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Eric Gjerde – Origami tessellations

twist

Still continuously amazed at what I find on Flickr. I used to think it was where people shared photos of their family, sunsets and the such, but I realise that its potential is far greater. It’s such a rich store of images, ideas, creativity.

Today I’m not feeling well, and so I’ve been living on the couch. No concentration for reading so I thought I’d browse flickr images.

Every discovery is like Christmas. Eric Gjarde is my discovery for today. On his Flickr profile, Eric describes himself as a geek.

I’m a massive geek. As with most geeks, I’m fascinated by all things technological; it’s what I do for a living, as well as a hobby (and obsession?)

What I really respect Eric for (apart from his awesome folding skills) is his willingness to share his knowledge and creativity about his specialty.

So while I enjoy folding all kinds of things, I’ve just been posting items which I have created myself. all of the items I post to flickr are independently created/invented/dreamed up by me, unless otherwise stated.

It’s a big deal for me, as I really dislike the lack of information sharing in the origami world- I want to bring some of the open-source style sharing to them, preferably via the Creative Commons licensing ideals. I’ve made some headway on that front by releasing diagrams and crease patterns under a CC license, available on my website – it’s located at www.origamitessellations.com.

Looking through Eric’s Flickr profile, I found the Flickr groups he has joined. Always good to see what else people are following.

Take a look at what Eric does when he’s not folding paper – it’s a mosaic film.

His origami sets are extensive and brilliant.

origamisets

Browsing through Eric’s other, non-origami, sets, I came across his mosaic set. If you have a look, you’ll be impressed with his mosaic tile photos. One of the best things about flickr is the possibility for conversation. And so, following this mosaic set, Eric answers questions about how he was able to make the mosaics, and offers links to further information. Fantastic.

mosaicphotoclose

Still discovering, and this time Eric’s comments led me to The digital library for the decorative arts and material culture. Anyone interested in the history of design and ornament for different cultures will love this.

Who said Flickr was just a bunch of pictures? I’m going to try and showcase Flickr and its educational uses at school.

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The art of storytelling

Another serendipitous adventure. Here’s how a day off turns a morning into a virtual rabbit hole.  A notification of a new Twitter follower @lazicdusan led me to a tantalising feed focussing on the Arts. I wanted to share one of the resources I found while putting them onto my art wiki. Above is a video called Six Word Memoirs by Teens  on the SMITH blog which celebrates storytelling. Here’s the background:

A year ago we launched SMITHTeens, as Rachel blogged about last August. We launched the site as a simple way to collect six-word memoirs for a book of six-worders by teens. Then we got out of the way. What happened next? The teens blew us away. From the heart (”I am in a love pentagon”) to the body (”Bulimia was only cramping my style”) to the home (”We’re the family you gossip about’) to the unexpected paths life can take (”Seventeen, Pregnant. He’s off to Iraq”), teens have told us so much about themselves in so few words.

Here’s an idea for the English or Art classrooms. I might even take on the challenge for the second year of my photo challenge.

I also found Sites we love: Significant objects.

Every item you’ve ever come across has a story. These objects clutter our shelves, closets, garages and lives…

The premise of their project, Significant Objects, is to take thrifted items and pair them with a writer to give it a new value in the form of a short story.

I’m tempted to bring the odd objects that we’ve collected over the years into the English or Art classroom and see what storytelling these could spark. What about if students were asked to bring in an object or two, so these could be put into a communal box?

You might like to check out the Flickr pool for significant objects – a ready-made list of objects for story starters.

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Power of photography: Prix Pictet

I stumbled across this website and have been moved and absorbed by these images, as well as the artists’ thinking behind their works. The information in this post has been selectively copied from the Prix Pictet website.

Sponsored by the Geneva private bank Pictet & Cie, the Prix Pictet is the world’s first prize dedicated to photography and sustainability

Prix Pictet’s vision

Food riots. Loss of forest cover. Desertification. The ecosystems we depend on appear to face resource demands already beyond their capacity. As governments try urgently to stimulate growth, a central question remains. Can the earth’s complex living systems sustain the future consumption patterns of another three billion people in the world’s population by 2050?

Or are we making the transition, as the Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen has suggested, to a point where the face of the earth – its soil, its waters, its groves, its hollows – is no longer natural, but bears the terminal scars of man’s intervention.

I was looking through the shortlisted artists, I thought I’d share some of my favourite ones.

Yao Lu : Dwelling in the Mount Fuchun

YaoLu

Photography can be understood in traditional ways: It can ‘record’ many histories long before our own time, and it can take people back to times and situations many years ago. But photography is also very contemporary. It can re-assemble and re-edit the things that we actually see in order to produce illusions that people see when they are in front of such photographic works. In these works, you see images that are both real and fictional.

Darren Almond: Shan Shui fullmoon

DarrenAlmond

 Since 1998, Almond has been making a series of landscape photographs called the Fullmoons. Taken during a full moon with an exposure time of 15 minutes or more, these images of remote geographical locations appear ghostly, bathed in an unexpectedly brilliant light where night seems to have turned into day.

Nadav Kander : Frozen River, Qinghai

frozenYangtze

China is a nation that appears to be severing its roots by destroying its past in the wake of the sheer force of its moving “forward” at such an astounding and unnatural pace. A people scarring their country and a country scarring its people.

Edgar Martins: Untitled from the series ‘The diminishing present’.

EdgarMartins

For all their historical evocation and appeal to the sublime, these images reflect on both the physical death of the landscape and the death of the landscape as a pictorial ‘theme’.

Chris Steele-Perkins: Early morning shadow of Mt Fuji from summit

MtFuji

Nowadays, Mount Fuji is a national park but it is covered in, or surrounded by, theme parks, golf courses, resorts, cities and scrap yards as well as being used as a military testing ground by both the Japanese and American armed forces. At the same time there are still magical areas of great tranquillity, but they are increasingly being eroded.

The Prix Pictet is born of a flicker of hope — that photographs … have the power, as Gro Harlem Brundtland put it in her remarks at the launch of the inaugural Prix Pictet in 2008 , “to move us and shake us”. To take the sustainability statistic, validated, econometrically correct, but devoid of emotional force, and make it something that moves us to action.

Sponsored by the Geneva private bank Pictet & Cie, the Prix Pictet is the world’s first prize dedicated to photography and sustainability. It has a unique mandate – to use the power of photography to communicate crucial messages to a global audience; and it has a unique goal – art of the highest order, applied to the immense social and environmental threats of the new millennium.

So much talent…

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