bootcamp stuff.

So, I started going through the Bootcamp part of #ds106, “Units 1 and 2” for those of us who are following the Open Course version of this fabulous (cult-like) insanity.

So other than creating a bunch of social media accounts, revising my blog layout, and The Daily Create, Unit 1 specifically asks us “What is Art?”  I love this question so much because my younger brother sent me a video with the tagline “Why I hate MOMA”.  Since I’m very selective about what MODERN art I like (I hate most of it and think MOST of it is bullshit, but not Burton, never Burton), my ears perked up when Leon Botstein said “from the Greeks” as I was multitasking — listening to him chat about what art is while typing up this post and letting my thoughts wander… My husband is currently in the process of writing his dissertation in Classics for the purposes of earning his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.  He’ll never let me say so, but he’s SO smart and talented, it’s sick.  He’s a modern-day Michelangelo, and no I’m not just saying that because he’s my husband.  He’s fluent in multiple languages, has an IQ in the 160 range, is extremely artistic, writes well and speaks so articulately–okay, enough about Jay!  Anyway he’s awesome and he studies the Greeks (and the Romans and the Latin and all the other things that go along with studying Classics 😉 which was why my ears perked up.

Anyway, in listening to Botstein proliferate about the concept of art, I kept hearing “love” come up over and over again.  I love love, I love art, and I love music.  So does that mean art equates with love and all the things I love?  Is my husband art?  My Boston Terrier?  The scent of fresh-cut grass?  Shirley Temples?  Broadway plays and musicals?

I love “being caught up in the illusion – the artful manipulation of our sensibilities” – that’s [some of] the best stuff in life, is it not?

I thought Steven Johnson’s philosophical/research question “What are the spaces that have historically led to unusual rates of creativity and innovation?” was intriguing.  I love the way he presented it on the whiteboard, literally filling the space with which he had to work (a self-fulfilling prophecy in a sense here).  The “slow hunch” ideal sounds a lot like my ongoing 3 year long dance with my dissertation topic/study…a number of small hunches coming together to become the clash that results in a major break-through (still in the process of getting to that part 😉  While I’m being semi-facetious here, I get where he’s going with this principle, and I dig it (plus, the diss process IS kind of like that!).  Since I’m a SUPER visual person, I enjoyed seeing the illustrations of his thoughts and ideas come to life.  I enjoyed learning about how the coffee house/salon/tea time space once served as spaces for creativity (and still do to this day).  How many people came up with the most amazing concepts in the universe while jotting on a napkin at a coffee house or BAR for Christssakes?!  It makes complete sense!

I LOVE how he brings connectivity (in my field we call it connected learning) into the picture (quite literally 😉 in this piece.  It’s describes the very reason (I believe) #ds106 focuses so heavily on the technology stuff that some of my students may be adverse to (not only in my #eng5090 course, but other courses as well, regardless of age, gender, or education level) and I agree that it now holds a place among the “coffee house/salon/tea spaces” that we STILL collaborate in to this very day!).  I do not see the social media connection as the ONLY way to share and combine hunches, we still have classrooms, too, after all.  However, what I love about the web is what it can do for us in terms of being able to collaborate, share, network, and collectively pool hunches in a way that we’d never be able to without the invention of the Internet.  We wouldn’t meet people from other countries unless we visited them (or they visited us); we wouldn’t be able to collectively grieve as a nation (or internationally as a human race) without the viral capabilities we have for news to spread far and wide instantaneously.  I know there are pros and cons to the whole tech thing, but I’m ultimately of the belief that it is inherently a GOOD thing to be “connected” — as well as it is to UNPLUG every once in a while!  It’s harder for some of us to do that, but in moderation, and with balance, I think a lot of good can come from both social media/connected learning AND face to face interaction with others.  “The chance favors the connected mind.”

Rhett and Link are two very interesting dudes.  I had never heard of the series “Good Mythical Morning” until stumbling upon it via #ds106.  I liked Rhett’s perspective on how art can be defined as something that stimulates one (or more) of the five senses.  I can dig that interpretation, BUT, I think it leaves a bit too much wiggle room there.  Intention, or expressing oneself, is an additional component of this definition.  In all honesty, I am an old soul, and I think most of what they put into question on this “What Is Art” segment was equally done with intention – intentionally putting these things out there to demonstrate how far from art these items really are.

I think there is a SIGNIFICANT difference between art and invention.  When someone creates something for a purpose (like a pencil for writing, as one example) it was created for the purpose of writing, NOT to dazzle one’s sense of sight.  Perhaps in writing this out, as far as traditional “art in museum” stuff goes, I would say that there has to be an aesthetically pleasing component of a piece in order for it to be considered art that is museum worthy.  My nieces, ages 1 and 3, can create some lovely pictures by scribbling, and we’d put them on display, ON OUR FRIDGE, not at a museum!  I love the dialogue between Rhett and Link…and as they said “I could have done this” – most of the crap that is considered modern art these days, is NOT art in my opinion.  Wolverine scratches ❤  Using fancy jargon to make it sound “artiful” is bogus, as bogus as these “items” are to be considered art.  A feat of engineering not art, indeed.  That rock is a disgrace to legitimate artists everywhere in my opinion.  This supposed definition of art makes ANYTHING that we say or do or make or drop or splatter become art-worthy.  Drinking all night long, dancing the night away, and then leaving the club and projectile vomiting on the side of the alley wall which you’re leaning against afterwards — just picture that glorious image for a moment — the PUKE on the side of the damned WALL could be considered art in that case based on some people’s definition of art. In my opinion, it’d be more artistic to take a black and white photograph of the person leaning against the alley AFTER they puked would be considered more along the lines of art (and please, do NOT include the vomit in the photograph!).  Just my two cents.  It’s not more artistic because it’s a photo — that’s not the point I’m making with my example — it’s the FOCUS of the composition that makes it art.  Taking a picture of the puke would not be art – that would be GROSS.  Taking a picture of someone who was ill would be much closer to the definition of art in my opinion, in this particular example.  Make sense? I’m glad Rhett clarified his position on art before ending the show with the Wheel of Mythicality… Moving along…

Kelli and Disruptive Wonder
I love the idea of “tinkering with everyday experiences.”  I’ve said it about a thousand times now, but I’m always emphasizing the importance of “taking the time to tinker” with technology in order to get a better understanding of it – how it works, why it works (or doesn’t work) the way it does (or doesn’t) and what the purpose of it is.  Does it make life easier? …more complicated?  That said, the idea of tinkering with everyday experiences is such a cool catchphrase, I think I may use it more often (giving Kelli credit, of course 😉  TYPE; SHAPE; COLOR; TEXTURE. Solar-powered ice pop truck ❤ The world is full of order, but doesn’t necessarily deserve our respect.  Interesting.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  I immediately think of how much people enjoy patterns.  It’s research-proven — we LOVE order, patterns, and habits — we become comfortable with patterns.  This is why our daily routine in the morning (or whenever we wake up) is just that — a daily routine — for a reason.  We, as humans, LIKE finding order and patterns in all the madness — we’re comfortable with finding the rote in the chaos.  I think what Kelli did with the card representative of the (ritual as empty gesture) recursive holiday card experience was BRILLIANT.  I loved everything about the card itself, what it looked like, and what it represented.  An absolute genius way of getting her point across.   “When we experience things over and over again, they lose their gravity.” And now. SHIT. I thought I had a clever wedding invitation — until I saw THAT record version!  DAMN.  I loved my invite, but I’m still jealous.  I love the reinvention of the mundane concept.  Nothing was more clever than that of the NYTimes hoax.  I loved the idea of handing out a newspaper full of GOOD news for once.  The shock on people’s faces as they read those cleverly disguised articles was funny, but a bit sad at the same time.  Think about it.  Whenever we open a newspaper or turn on the news, we expect to hear about murder, robbery, rape, crime, drama, politics, etc.  These stories far outweigh the random happy reports we get interspersed with calamity.  I wish there were more “only good news-papers”.  A former student of mine once presented to the class on a video documentary project she started on her own time a few years ago.  She would document the random events going on in people’s lives, like hippies creating hula-hoops (I am almost positive that’s what the story was about that she showed in class).  The point is, that my former student’s work is a prime example of what Kelli was getting at with this video.  Not taking the “everyday” for granted, and turning things that go on everyday in other people’s lives into featured “news” stories or artistic ventures, whatever you want to title it.  If you concentrate on the “mundane” or reinvent the mundane to be viewed in a whole new light, it’s no longer monotonous, is it?  I like that.

Finally, the rules for teachers and students bit.  I can’t emphasize enough how much I love these rules, PARTICULARLY rule 6.  THERE IS NO MISTAKE – ONLY MAKE. I also gravitated to rule number 8.  You can’t create and analyze at the same time… Do one, then the other.  I would rephrase this to mean, “take the time to create and then reflect upon what you’ve made.”  Reflection is a huge piece of the human puzzle that we often fail to put into place/practice.  You have to think about what you’re doing while you’re doing it, but even more-so AFTER you’ve done it.  This makes me think of the process of being/becoming a writer.  You write and rewrite.  Those revisions come from reflection.  If we don’t go back and reread what we’ve written, revise what we’ve written, and MAKE BETTER what we’ve done, then things will always be what they are, and they may never grow and flourish to be what they could be.  This may sound like a lot of hippy-dippy stuff, but I like it.  One of the major “AHA!” moments of my life was when I became a college instructor for the first time.  I had to think backwards.  I knew the material, but I had to think of the best ways to present the material as if I were my own student.  I finally understood why my college professors got so frustrated with us for “not doing the readings.”  It takes time to decide what readings are important, and why they have meaning, and how they can facilitate instruction, conversation-making, HUNCH-SHARING if you will.

I spent nearly three hours reviewing and writing the content of this blog post, and although I have MANY, MANY, MANY things I “need” to be doing, I was in such a flow state while ruminating on all of the information being presented in this first unit of bootcamp, that it didn’t matter to me what I still had to get done.  It made me realize just how special #ds106 truly is, and I’m happy to be a part of it!


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