tdjohnsn: (Default)
I'm in need of brainstorming advice again.

For a few years now I have done a project in my Typography class based on the Eames House of Cards. The goal is to get the students to explore both the conceptual dualities arising from each card having two sides, but also problem solve around the problem of having a consistent look across a piece of work made up of many different pieces.

The last couple times I have done this project I have felt like it needed an upgrade. Last year I pushed it into a more formal exploration of combining words and imagery, but that did not feel like quite enough.

Then I read Michael Beirut's Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design and chapter one, based on this article gave me the answer that I needed. In the past they have chosen their own topics, but design doesn't work like that. It is a discipline based on problem solving, and almost definitionally, it is about other peoples problems, not your own.

As a result I am adding a research paper to the project, but I need subject matter. I am going to let them choose from a list rather than assigning things randomly like I usually do, but I need a list of topics that are interesting, unexpected, and cool, but not on the radar of 20 somethings. I want to expand their worlds a little bit with this project.

What topics (people, concepts, things, history) can you think of that would be big enough for a project this size, yet finite and contained enough to readily researched.

Some ideas I have already had:

History of Pulp Fiction art
The singularity
Mark Twain


Sep. 9th, 2007 12:03 pm
tdjohnsn: (Default)
Well, the senior had their graduation ceremony yesterday. I spoke again. I wasn't in the mood to offer any wisdom for the future, but I tried to pretend.

My 2007 commencement address )

Watching them graduate, they look the same, but at the same time, it is easy for the first time to really see them as adults.

I always feel so empty after the ceremony. The graduates disappear into the crowd of friends and family leaving the faculty waiting for hugs and thanks that don't actually come, or at least, very rarely. And that's the end.

In other news, Ron left for Maryland last night on a redeye. He had to leave our club dance a little early to get to the airport. I assume he arrived on the East coast okay. I have been checking the newspaper to make sure there weren't any plane crashes and there weren't, so the must have arrived safely.

The fates

Jul. 10th, 2007 04:41 pm
tdjohnsn: (Default)
One of the goals of an upcoming class that I will be teaching is having the students create a series, the goal being having them learn to connect a body of work to itself across multiple pieces.

One of the things my co-teacher and I struggle with is that it is slightly too soon to be giving the students complete freedom. Coming up with a project often creates a huge barrier to actually doing the project.

What we have come up with is structuring the series around various themes and goals. The student would then have a "choose your own adventure" type decision making path that would give them a lot of freedom, yet not be as overwhelming as a blank piece of paper.

What inspired this was learning about another teachers project where he has them do a triptych on the theme, "past, present, future."

So, we don't want to steel his project, but we would like to provide a number of themes for the students to choose between.

I have come up with a few, but I need more.

What groups of three concepts can you think of?
tdjohnsn: (Default)
So, the old senior are gone, they graduated today with as full a pomp and circumstance as you can manage in a rented high school auditorium and no budget. After last years poor showing, and realizing that the school was never going to make a bigger effort, the faculty made a commitment to not only showing up, but to wearing capes and gowns. There were seven of us (almost the entire studio staff) and all but two had our caps and gowns (the two who didn't had tried to order but started too late...all the rental/purchase places want 6 weeks or more.) We still have a ways to go, but it is getting closer to a feeling like an official ceremony. My hood and tassel didn't show up, but neither did a couple of other peoples, so that was okay. Next year we will tweak things some more to keep pushing things in the direction of "solemn official occasion."

The President of the College was out of town. (commentary on that deleted...)

Anyway, I spoke at graduation again this year. I had a lot of trouble coming up with something to say. As individuals, I liked a lot of the seniors. As a class they were really difficult, making talking about them a challenge.

This is what I came up with: )
tdjohnsn: (Default)
The seniors graduated on Saturday and I looked like a cross between a used car salesman and one of Tony Soprano’s hit men. I knew I was going to be in trouble since it has been years since I had to dress up, and I have gained just enough weight that none of my slacks fit well, but some how I had blocked out of my mind that I don’t actually have any nice clothes. So, on Saturday morning, I had to scramble to figure out something to wear. My one pair of black slacks almost didn’t button (all the other colors were missing their buttons) and I had forgotten how faded they have gotten. Ron took one look and said, “you better but on a belt to distribute the pressure or that button is going to go….” My white shirt was completely a no go. The collar button did not meet, and the sleeves seem to have shrunk several inches. My black shirt is a little faded, and I like it better with jeans, but that had to do. All my ties are dated, but that was okay…the width was right at least and I like my ties to be a little off beat...or at least I did way back when. All of my jackets were too small. My shoulders are way bigger than they were the last time I bought (or, more accurately, was handed down) a suit jacket. I ended up wearing a jacket that my dad gave me almost 15 years ago. A light, black and grey tweedy looking thing that was incredibly trendy and in style about the same time Cindy Lauper was. And then I get out in the light and realize that the black pants and black shirt have both faded to shades of grey that have different color casts and looked awful together. I looked awful.

When we finally got to the municipal pool in Poulsbo (they have really nice auditorium for anyone who immediately pictured an Ethal Murman style graduation) an hour late after missing our ferry by 5 minutes (fortunately we were trying to be two hours early) I realized that I should have done academic robes. Only one other instructor was speaking and she owns a set; it really makes the whole thing look more official. Of course, she has a master hood and I don’t, but at least I could have skipped the “I’m from New Jersey” outfit I had on and just done a shirt and tie. They still wouldn’t have fit, but at least they would have been hidden.

But, at least I made an effort. Over half of the seniors didn’t. I was afraid to count how many of them were wearing flip-flops…and not special occasion ones either. A couple of the girls padded up to get their diplomas bare foot since they had kicked their shoes off during the speeches and didn’t bother to put them back on. Yeesh.

My commencement address )
All things considered, and my outfit aside, it was a very nice ceremony and I am really glad I went just to say good bye one last time. (An aside…I thought it was funny the way most of the straight guys gave me a hug, but the two gay guys didn’t…)

The reception back at the school was nice. Too many people, but as uncomfortable as I am in crowds, it was a good thing for the event. There was a ton of dessert things, which caused the main gallery to be packed with people in line for food. Once the food was gone, it completely emptied out. It turned out that Ron and [ profile] tbass’s boyfriend know each other, so that was kind of fun and I got to give Ron a tour of the campus.

We were invited to a couple of events in the evening, but since we live on the other side, we ended up not going to them. We had a nice lunch in Poulsbo’s old town, then headed home.


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