Week Thirteen – The End of an Era, the Bittersweet farewell.

Although the course remains unfinished, it has proven to be one of the most versatile and in-depth courses I’ve taken in my three years as a humanities student. Other courses follow what they outline, editing, creative writing, cultural perspectives, and they do it marvellously. But this course made you explore different mediums of digital writing, adopt and analyse them. That in itself encourages and forces you to research different programs and experimental works while also creating your own. This course illustrates to students the countless number of programs and platforms available to emerging writers, and provides the basics on how to use them if interested.

As well as being in-depth, the course will also prove to be one of the most intricate and time consuming. Almost every assignment will take hours of work, research, edits and experiments. That is the nature of digital writing. Admittedly, I didn’t comprehend how great the course load would be, and would encourage further students to begin their pieces early in the semester, not just their Google Maps piece.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to use Google Maps, Vue, and experimenting with non-linear blackout poetry and stream of consciousness film. While I still am fairly disadvantaged in regards to Photoshop,  I am happy that we explored how to use it, and will continue to experiment with it in the future. I also believe that while Gimp is a decent free program, it no where near matches the sophistication or ease that Photoshop provides. Also valuable programs to learn included iBooks Author and infographic formatting explored with Piktochart. I also appreciate the group work in class, particularly the class feedback on the Google Maps piece to show you if you were on track or not.

At times I think the course has been a little vague, particularly in regards to learning activities and assessment items. The assessment outline online only offers so much, and does say ‘come to class for more information’, but I feel as though there should be more guidelines and boundaries in regards to each assessment. I know personally I like knowing exactly what is expected and having a firm copy of guidelines, as opposed to conversational guidance. That said, Alinta was very helpful when you sought advice.

For my portfoilo I have decided to go with the following:

Google Maps Fiction: a contemporary story of infatuation and travel. iBooks Author:  a melancholic series of vignettes, perhaps circulated around a family.
Photoshop Text: A series of GIFs thematically linked by seven deadly sins, though this will be difficult with the limited time available.
Non-linear Text: A series of blackout poetry pieces sourced from ripped pages of a book, theme currently undecided.

In regards to the iBooks Author and Non-Linear pieces, I almost want the pieces to be surreal and melancholic. This will be easier with the blackout poetry, but if adopted in iBooks Author will hopefully deter aligning too closely to current templates.

I will also be using iBooks again for my final Hypertextual/Multimedia Essay, however this I hope to make more square as opposed to surreal, to have the effect that it is indeed something academic.

I’m very happy, albeit sometimes stressed and daunted, to have taken this course, and I know it will help me with my future writing career. I’d recommend it to future students, particularly those who are technology literate.

overgrown_typewriter_by_steffistereo-d4xtd46

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Week Ten – Failing at HTML. Woe is Me.

This week we were guided through the construction process of a website, specifically html coding. I cannot express the degree to which I detest it. The process is fiddly and time consuming, and unless well versed in the technical aspects of it, difficult. My piece itself, despite being guided through it, was basic and quite frankly plain and ugly.  The piece was more than simplistic, blue background, black text, rollover image.

http://heliozoa.com/dw2014/Hannah%20Towers/Webpage/PegRupert.html%5B/embed%5D

The only experience I’ve had previously with coding is on Myspace. Way back when coding was used if you wanted your personal profile page to not fit the main template. You could pick another template from a  myriad of websites dedicated to new templates, then customise at will. Colour of background and text, size of text, what music was played, what facets of your profile you actually showed (e.g. ‘About Me’ section). These sites then had specific directions as to how to accomplish what you desired.

http://www.createblog.com/myspace-layouts/36191-couture-with-a-couple-rollovers/%5B/embed%5D

While these directions of course could be located on any ‘How To Use Dreamweaver’ websites, it’s not nearly as simple or fun constructing an entire page from scratch.

http://tv.adobe.com/show/learn-dreamweaver-cs5/%5B/embed%5D

Because I have no interest or hope in completing something sophisticated using this program, I won’t be utilising Dreamweaver for my final assignment and will instead go back to using iBooks Author.

We also discussed the ever growing rate of technology and how others are utilising it. For example, QUT’s The Cube, one of the world’s largest digital interactive learning and display spaces.

The Cube
The Cube

http://www.thecube.qut.edu.au/%5B/embed%5D

When asked to design our own interactive learning piece without restrictions, I developed the concept ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Why can’t we be friends is a large scale installation that both collates data while simultaneously delivering fact and history of technology in an interesting and comedic way. It also shows the potential technology has for the future, and attempts to dissect what the tested subjects hope for (Flying car, enslaved robots etc). It will be delivered in an educational ‘choose your own adventure’ game format.

The installation will use a large scale hardback book, replica Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) controller, and a projector. The book will contain blank pages and be several meters tall and wide. These pages will have sensors and know when they have been moved, at which point the projector knows when to go to the next image.

At the beginning the test subject is given a choice of character. This character can be chosen from a classic Nintendo character, the Microsoft Word paperclip aid, or even the spinning apple colour wheel for simplicity.  The chosen character will act as the cursor. The test subject therefore physically has to move on top of the SNES controller to move across the page.

Like in iBooks Author, there will be multiple choice quizzes and interactive pictures which will be chosen using certain buttons. These quizzes for instance aid in collecting data and prove interesting for the test subject. However, while some of these questions are strictly to acquire knowledge, some will not let the subject continue unless they have picked the right answer, otherwise their adventure could cease to exist.

For example, if the question “There are several different new and exciting technologies emerging, which would you choose to enhance mankind most?” and they pick answer “C) A new temperamental and high maintenance system of A.I. robots designed to aid human beings in domestic areas, which are currently seeing issues but are undergoing system reboots.” The subject’s path could finish on the next page revealing a Will Smith iRobot scenario.

This encourages the subjects to consider our failings as human’s in the past, our fears of things that could potentially go wrong theoretically or with proof, and encourage them to choose more eco-friendly and economically efficient paths for future technology.

Can’t say it’ll ever happen, but it was a fun activity.

Week Nine – Infographics, not just clever marketing.

Infographics, or information graphics, are generally extensive pieces of data or knowledge presented in a visually quick and clean way. They would most likely be adopted for marketing or educational purposes, however, if adopted creatively, one could present an entire story quite vividly.

Sourced from Google Images
Sourced from Google Images

Similar to the infographic templates seen online such as in Piktochart,  there are a variety of ways to present the information at hand. However, this format isn’t strictly limited to the online templates we associate the concept with.

Original template (left), edited piece (right)
Original template (above), edited piece (below)

For another Griffith University course, Radical Fictions, I chose this format unknowingly, by presenting a piece of fiction through printed out pages of a laptop and iPhone screen. These pages showed what people were doing, saying and subtle insights about the individual’s story that seemingly told quite a lot.

Essentially, this is a relatively quick method for the author and reader to express their ideas, and is another tool that could make significant headway in the creative writing field. Writer Reif Larsen wrote an online article in 2012 exploring the infographic and its success it contemporary culture. He advises that while the format is growing in acceptance, readers should be cautious of the grey area between fact and fiction, and not to trust or rely solely on the information given.

http://www.themillions.com/2012/02/this-chart-is-a-lonely-hunter-the-narrative-eros-of-the-infographic.html%5B/embed%5D

In conjunction with the infographics, we also explored collaborative works in Vue. We each took turns at adding a piece to another’s story. Most of which ran fluidly and humorous. This could be argued that our age group relatively thinks the same way, but conceptually we’re all quite versatile. This notion too could support emerging writers adopting mediums such as infographics, that despite adopting a current format, your individuality will shape the piece quite differently.

Collaborative Piece
Collaborative Piece

Week Eight – iBooks Author. The indie way to write with very limited freedom, just how they like it.

So iBooks author proves both friend and foe. It allows you to self publish any work you desire (at a price) and provides a different multi-modal medium to write in. However, the program is filled with templates and restricted formatting which limits personal expression. That said, the certain templates provided can aid less tech-savvy people and provide something visually aesthetic whether or not they’re promoting personal hobbies (cooking) or constructing a text book for educational purposes. Luckily there are various video tutorials to guide you through the creation process.

https://partner.video2brain.com/josephlinaschke/course-34247.htm

Today we chose five numbers between 24-144 (page numbers) and those five pages represented different objects that must be integrated in an experimental work in iBooks author.

My five items were:
– Airedale terriers
– The buoys
– The last but not least (snake)
– Flags of the world in egg shapes
– Our early unlimited inboard hydroplanes of seattle seafairs 1951-1954 gold cup races.

A seemingly odd mixture, I chose to produce the story in the perspective of a small town boy from Alabama with a sweet and quirky family.

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 12.47.30 PM

iBooks author piece
iBooks author piece

I’m both in favour and not of the program, but like Photoshop, I imagine it’s just something that needs to be played around with. I think because of the nature of the final major assignment, I’d feel more comfortable approaching iBooks author than a HTML depending on difficulty level.

Week Seven – Dispersed Text. The Elegant Trickster.

This week we looked at dispersed text. This format of writing can be seen in a variety of ways. Looking back two weeks ago when experimenting with blackout poetry, that too is an example of dispersed text. Essentially it’s a piece of text which isn’t linear.

Today we downloaded a program called Vue, that allows you to create your own dispersed text. I didn’t have a huge concept in mind, but liked the idea of using it as a ‘stream-of-consciousness’ mind map. While the program offers limited formatting options, the ones provided can be utilised well if adopted properly.

For instance, I used a central ellipse to give  a third perspective so the reader wasn’t lost. After that, each of the rectangles, octagons and diamonds all represent different thought patterns. The rectangles are self-indulgent thoughts, negative perceptions of the self. The octagons show a more in-depth thought pattern, what could/should happen. The diamonds are longing, side thoughts that most likely take up more of the conscious than revealed, but are barely admitted. Together they are connected with the main ellipse with a tangled mess of webs (lines), which too, reflect the first image we were introduced to (the girl tangled in her sheets),  and are left with (the girl emerging from the bed, implying her life too, is messy).

First dispersed text created using Vue.

What I found most interesting is the concept of ‘dispersed text’ is still fairly new. When searching ‘dispersed text’ or ‘dispersed text examples’ or ‘dispersed text definitions’, nothing truly substantial comes from Google. Several mathematic equations, fragmented definitions of key words etc. However, when typing ‘dispersed text’ into the search engine, the first result is ‘dispersed writings’, which once again references Jason Nelson as a sort of founder to the style.

http://chercherletexte.org/en/performance/dispersed_writings/

Personally, I like the format of this writing as well as Vue, and intend to use them in my assessment. I like that the maps make you free to construct different types of narrative e.g. stream of consciousness, choose your own adventure, etc.

Week Six – Concrete Poetry. Words that form shapes or just scribbles and funny things to make out on a page.

Concrete poetry is one of those things that is barely executed properly. But when it is, is freaking amazing.

So concrete poetry doesn’t have a concrete definition, see what I did there? It’s one of those mediums that is constantly adapting with our culture. Originally it was considered ‘shape’ or ‘pattern’ poetry, a term coined in the 20th century to describe poetry of a certain subject that was then typographically arranged to construct a mirroring image of said subject (Higgins, 1987). One of the most notable early examples of this poetry was in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The Mouse's Tale - Lewis Carroll
The Mouse’s Tale – Lewis Carroll

Unfortunately, this example like many other basic forms are what people think of when they hear the term ‘concrete poetry’, despite it’s immense growth conceptually and visually. Contemporary forms are no longer restricted to set images of the subject, and instead can actually appear quite random, or even purposely designed to be fragmented/disjointed.

This can be seen from Canadian poet Derek Beaulieu. Beaulieu has constructed various contemporary concrete poetry and discusses his art and how to relates to society in his blog: http://derekbeaulieu.wordpress.com/tag/concrete-poetry/.

Example of Beaulieu's concrete poetry.
Example of Beaulieu’s concrete poetry.

To prepare us for writing our own poetry, as many of us struggle with such a complex form of writing, we were introduced to slam poetry. This poetry was spoken infront of an audience and often discussed issues seen in contemporary society, such as racism, mental disorders, destructive familial ties etc. My favourite commented on the latter, discussing how the men in her family took all of the sustenance from the women, who in turn ‘shrink’. I found her inspiring not only because of the issue she discussed, but the tempo and fluidity.

Lily Meyers Shrinking Women:

Afterwards we were given several topics to write poetry about in a limited time, without physically seeing the screen to dissect or edit our work. The task was interesting and motivational. It made you blind but in doing so gave you confidence to rely solely on thought, not how correct or sensical it seemed. One of these poems was then made into concrete poetry via Photoshop. Although my piece can’t be considered a great form of concrete poetry, it was an interesting activity.

Hannah Towers 'Hands'
Hannah Towers ‘Hands’

References:
Higgins, Dick 1987. Pattern Poetry: A Guide to Unknown Literature, State University of New York Press, New York.

Week Five – Blackout Poetry. Pretty Things, Pretty Words.

Blackout poetry has been my favourite writing technique we’ve been exposed to this semester. I like the idea of finding a new way to create or present something from a piece that someone else has already loved or torn themselves apart for. The idea that a writer could have read their own words over again and again,  rewritten it tens or hundreds of times over, to use the exact words to make the sentence, paragraph or page perfect. Only  then to feel almost resentful to that piece because of the painstaking measures it took to complete it. The idea that I could then find new meaning in their words, to show a new form of magic or mystery, to create something beautiful that really, came from them to begin with. To me, that’s something to be admired.

We looked extensively at A Humument by Tom Phillips, a Victorian text which was reconstructed into blackout poetry. The pieces were very surrealistic, something I really enjoy working with as a writer and, on occasion, terrible artist.

A Humument by Tom Phillips
A Humument by Tom Phillips

In the workshop we were given random pages from several texts and asked to choose one that stood out to us. I decided not to agonise over it, and instead  pick one without reading it first to see where it took me. From there we were given different materials to make it either colourful or three-dimensional. Admittedly I stayed within the realm of two-dimensional. The words I found created their own sort of poetry. Something sad and almost bitter, speaking of human connection and consciousness (or sub-conscious).

My piece
My piece

“noisy multiplicity
swings from simplicity
platonic form
superfluous flesh?
dream and promise
extract human memories
we have
immortality
an imaginary act
a holistic phenomenon”

I used water colour pencils to cover the page in erratic swirls, and drew a naked, sleeping girl in fine-liner, upside-down. It seemed to fit, and I liked it a lot.

I have decided to do this for one of my four large pieces of assessment. I’ll get an assortment of pages and create my own blackout poetry, and then edit them in Photoshop.

Not only were the texts presented to us in the workshop helpful and inspirational, a range of blackout text can be found online that isn’t published. For instance, you could find a range of blackout poetry on Pinterest or Google Images just for inspiration, that said none of these fragments are as beautiful, or I believe as sophisticated, as A Humument, which is now the latest addition to my bookcase.

Sourced from Google images: simple and funny
Sourced from Google images: simple and funny