Stardust: 4 Icon Challenge & other #ds106 photos

I ran into some problems in creating my video essay for the movie Stardust since I couldn’t get all the clips I wanted frrom the movie.  🙁

As I continue to work on my video essay tonight, I decided to leave you with a 4 icon challenge I created for the movie. This will prepare you for what I will talk about in my video essay which will also briefly cover  the novel written by Neil Gaiman,  which is the basis for the movie. Neil Gaiman is an amazing writer who I am currently studying right now in my Fantasy class at UMW (we read the book Neverwhere and watched part of the series; currently reading Stardust now) and who I studied last semester in my Graphic Novel class (we read one of the books in the epic Sandman series).

Looking forward to finishing up my videoessay!




Also, here’s some photos taken while I and others were  working on the project:



“The Rainbow Knight:” The best mash-up video ever


I was introduced to this video yesterday by a friend who found it through Tumblr. The video uses clips from the new My Little Pony TV show and puts them to the soundtrack from “The Dark Knight” trailer. What the artist creates in this video is probably the best and most hilarious mashup I’ve ever seen. Seriously, who would ever think My Little Ponies could be ever be associated with something as “dark” as a Batman movie?
I think this video relates really well to the article we had to read by Brian Lamb called Dr. Mashup or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix. Lamb defines remixes and mashups in his article and says “a mashup…involves the combination of two or more works that may be very different from one another.”

He further goes on to say

“It is common to assume that remakes or reworkings are inherently lesser forms of creation than something that is “original” and that free reuse somehow degrades the value of the source. Modern copyright law and the intense social stigma associated with a term such as plagiarism speak to such assumptions.”

I think the problem with this assumption is it’s not taking into account the creativity of the artist who created the mashup. It really does takes a lot of talent for an artist to create a successful mashup. For example, as I mentioned earlier, it doubtful many people would think to put My Little Pony with a Batman Trailer. The artist had an original idea and carried out their original idea using sources that were already available. The reason why this mashup is so successful is that it combines two very different things in a funny and well put together way.

Through this mashup, the artist is creating “new art” that people can appreciate as being separate in many ways from the original source of the material. I think that instead of the original owners of the source material getting all uptight about copyright issues, they should feel flattered that someone felt so strongly about their work that they are making an homage to it.

I think it would really awesome if someone took my work and expanded on it because they thought it was cool. This is why most of my Flickr photos have a Creative Commons License so if someone wants to use it, they can go right ahead as long as they link back to me so I can see what they did with it.
Now let’s switch gears a little and talk about the article by Melanie McBride, Praxis 2.0: Escaping the edu-travelogue.
She says in her post,

“As a consequence of my school board’s policies on creating works from copyrighted material, I had students use the internet archive as the source for their remixes. The reaction was: “this sucks. The music/video/etc I want to use is not here.” While I’m not allowed to encourage students to break the law I am permitted to tell them what they can and cannot do at school versus what they may or may not do with their own tools, in their own homes, with their own internet providers – and share with them the potential consequences of doing so. If, after viewing the consequences they choose to break the law it is not because I have encouraged them to do so but they have chosen to enact their own political and civic identities outside of school. But, again, what we do in the classroom is mediated by the law. It is a far cry from what is happening outside of school. And they know it.”

I think that this argument is very valid because often times the material that we would want to use is not always something that we can actually “legally” use. But if you look at a lot of mashups and remixes that exist, a lot of the good ones are created using copyrighted material. Of course, the question of legality comes up, so it is definitely important for teachers to discuss what constitutes as breaking the law versus not breaking the law. We’ve already talked about the benefits of creative commons usage several times in class and I think it’s is something that is important to discuss.

Definitely now and in the upcoming years, copyright issues are going to continue to pose a challenge for those people interesting in creating remixes and mashups.
Relating back this article to #ds106 itself, I think that the work we are creating is definitely our own and this is what McBride would call “traveling.” We’re not just learning about other people making creative content like twitter stories and radio shows, but we are actually creating it ourselves.
Before reading these posts, I probably would have been hard pressed to explain the distinction between remixes and mashups. However, if you consider the old school radio play that Aliyah and I put together, that could be considered a remix. Several other things I’ve put together in class could also be considered remix. But just because not everything is from my own creation, doesn’t mean that I don’t have original or interesting ideas.

Looky here, it’s a featured artist of the annual student art show!

My friend G, an anthropology and studio art double major, spent the past month slaving on a textile piece to enter in the Annual Student Art Show. After many sleepless nights using a floor loom (which alone, took about an entire day to set up with the help of two other people) G has created transparent multilayered, eight foot long piece composed of plastic, fiber, and wire.

She is one of the lucky few who was accepted into the annual student art show.  Each student in the show could possibly win the departmental and/or medium award. Cross your fingers that she will be a lucky recipient.

These photos don’t begin to do her work justice, so if you can, stop by  the Dupont Gallery this Thursday, March 31st from 4-6 to see it in person. She is also selling it, if anyone is interested in helping a talented artist out.

Week 1 postcard project

Okay so I actually started this project 5 weeks ago, but due to certain circumstances it took me a while to get good copies of my Australia photos to make into postcards.

So here is week 1 of my Australia and US postcards. This starts with my first full week in Australia and I plan on continuing this project until beginning July when I left Australia. I am doing this as a way to compare my life in OZ to my life here.

I wanted to exactly match my postcards for this project and the week in which I took them, but the devil has my soul this semester and I have a billion things to do for my other classes. D: (this emoticon doesn’t begin to convey my stress!)

I’ve decided to make the postcards more of a secondary final project (less pressure on me to get it done) and focus my most attention on the daily shoots/ all the other homework I have for my other classes. I like making the postcards but they take sometime to make, hence why they are on the back burner for now.
























































Creation Process:

So I started by finding the photo that I wanted to use for each postcard and then editing it in Picnik by intensifying the colors, adding words and also a border around the card. Once that was done, I created the content of the photo using Photoshop.

All of these postcards are addressed to friends who if these postcards were “real” I would send it to them. The stamps are real  stamps from each country which I took a photo of and  then photoshopped these stamps into a new document.

The handwriting is  actually my own handwriting which I created using this really awesome program called Pilot Handwriting.

Through Pilot Handwriting I write out each letter of the alphabet and upload to the website which then processes the letters so that I can I can type out a message.

Now this isn’t exactly my handwriting which is more a cursive-y print, but it’s a very close approximation of it, which is cool.

There are a few drawbacks to the program, such as I can’t download my handwriting as a font for my computer. This means that I have to always go to the website, type out my message then do a screen shot of my message and paste that into the photoshop document I’m working on. Thus, I’m stuck with the black text color for all my postcards. This also takes a lot more time to put on my postcard that it would if I used a normal handwriting font.

Also, when I first wrote out all the letters to upload to Pilot handwriting, it was hard to make sure that each letter was the correct size. Take a look at the postcard from the 909 Saloon. If you look closely the letter E is HUGE is comparison to the other letters. This is because I wrote it to0 big and didn’t really want to fix it at the time. It’s passable for what I’m doing, but it kinds of irritates me.

I have 4 other postcards 100% done which I made using pilot handwriting and I have several others half done. For my future postcards I’m thinking about handwriting the messages I want to use because that would be a lot faster. It might also encourage me to do more in the small chunks of free time I have.
Will hopefully post more of them soon!

Reflection on Daily Shoots thus far

As of tonight I have uploaded  81 photos for 53 daily shoots to Flickr. This does not count the other photos I have uploaded to flickr or all the other photos I have taken but not uploaded.

I have officially accomplished 14% of my 365 photo goal. Wow! I am surprised my motivation has lasted this long. 🙂

Sometimes I get really cool photos in seconds and have to do little editing work, and other times I have spent an hour or so doing photo shoots with friends (such as people in this class like Megan, Colleen, Aliyah and my friends outside the class who might as well be in it.) Some days I don’t have a lot of time to take a photo which means the one I do end up uploading is ok but could have been better.

I really love doing crazy photoshoots with friends because they turn out really entertaining (e.g. Rainbow Brite Photo shoots, The Masks, Water Water Everywhere).

I’m also slightly obsessed with Picnik which is an awesome/quick way to edit photos for free online and then download to your computer

I love the comments I get on Flickr because they are generally very encouraging/ entertaining. Thanks ds106sers and all the randoms that have commented.

So now I leave you with all the awesome photos I have thus far. You have any favorites?





A Day in the life of Zach Whalen

This is a twitter stream explaining a day in the life of Dr. Zach Whalen when he has to advise two students, Carah Counts and Alaina Sur, on their independent study. Jim Groom also makes an appearance as somewhat of devil’s advocate.

Here is the web version of the story. (Special thanks to Martha Burtis who helped me figure out how to post it online!)

And here is the screenshot version of it. (I recommend reading it from bottom to top)




Creation Process:
This idea came about because my roomie Elena South and I are actually doing an independent study with Dr. Whalen this semester and sometimes given our topic we are studying, we discuss very odd things. This twitter feed is an alternate reality version of some of our conversations taken to the extreme. However in real life Elena and I are not creepy stalkers, I promise!

The story was written by Elena and I on so we could edit it together in real time. Once we had the story, it was up to me to change the twitter feed using Firebug. Let me tell you, this took forever. For some reason I kept  accidentally screwing up the code when I tried to edit it in notepad++. There’s a lot of information I needed to change on this story in order for it to work and it definitely wasn’t easy. I ended up having over 40 saved html files as backups for everytime I would change stuff and save it. But, even thought it took a long time, I am really happy with the results.

Oh and if you click/type  the link in the tweet when Jim Groom talks about Carah’s Flickr feed it will take you to a real picture of a snake with it’s fangs out.

Special thanks to Martha Burtis’s great tutorial!

Visual Assignment: Normal to Extraordinary

#2 Assignment for #ds106 is up:

Normal to Extraordinary:

Take a friend and turn him/her from a normal looking person to an extraordinary looking one. Put the shots side by side for comparison.


For my example I used two photos that I’ve taken of my suitemate Karen (she is a #ds106 superstar now, haha):

Creation Process:

Okay so I didn’t actually take these photos consecutively. I took the photo on the right first in a random photoshoot that happened with Karen and Elena( my suitemates) because we were bored. The crazy makeup, hair and wardrobe was done by Elena. Don’t quite remember why we decided to put crazy makeup on Karen, but we got some really good photos out of it! (I may post some of them up later, depends on when I have the time). I really like this photo even though she looks kind of sad and tragic (Karen isn’t the biggest fan because she thinks she looks too “clownish”.) I messed with the colors in photoshop then ran it through the Poladroid maker to get the final effect.

Then the photo on the left was from another photoshoot, this time taken from when it was flurrying/slushy outside. It was cold and we didn’t have a lot of time to take photos although Karen did have time to throw on some more glam clothes that what she was originally wearing. I enhanced the color a bit on this one, but the lighting outside was so good I didn’t have to do much.

I like both of these photos together because I think it expresses the idea of how with a little work (i.e. clothing, makeup, hair) someone can completely be transformed into someone else entirely. Side by side, obviously it’s the same girl in the photos, but in each photo she is a different character. This holds true with most of the other photos I’ve taken of Karen who has a great range of expressions. I like exploring the different personas people can have, which explains why I end up with photos like Karen’s or the Rainbow Brite set.

So thanks to Karen who let’s me create art for fun 🙂


The Many Faces of Karen:


Design Assignment: Nickname/Catchphrase Poster

I just submitted my first assignment to DS106!

It’s a Nickname/Catchphrase poster: “Make a poster for any one of your friends using a catchphrase that is associated with them. Bonus points if you get them to look super badass!”

This is a poster for my suitemate Karen whose nickname on the UMW  Women’s rugby team is Karnage. I made this poster in honor of her awesome rugby skillz! (Although she currently can’t play since she broke her leg during a rugby game a month ago :/ )



The Creation Process:

Last semester my suitemate  Elena and I were really bored one night and decided to do a crazy photoshoot with our other suitemate Karen (this happens a lot to Karen actually where we make her put on a ridiculously crazy outfit and I take photos). Then after the shoot, I was playing around with the photos in Photoshop and decided to add wings to make her look even cooler.

I decided to add a background to make Karen pop out of the photo because the original background was just a white wall. It looked rather plain just with the black and white and so I decided to make Karen her own poster complete with a catchphrase that makes her seem totally bad-ass.

This debuted as Karen’s profile pic for a while before she decided to change it back to something slightly more professional.

Webstory: Taking over Twitter

So I decided for my firebug webstory project that I am going to take over twitter. I don’t want to reveal too much of the story, but basically it’s going to involve a day in Dr. Zach Whalen’s life when he has to advise two people, “Alaina and Carah”, for their independent study. For those of you who don’t know him, Dr. Whalen is a professor of New Media studies in the English Dept at UMW.

Jim Groom is also going to be involved in this story as well.

Already have written the script with the help of my roommate Elena and so for tonight all I got to do is put it in action! I’m excited. 😀