from jesse james to blogging comics

I got back from DisneyWorld just in time to write two research papers for finals.

The first paper is on Jesse James as America’s archetypal Robin Hood … and the media technologies and strategies that put him there and keep him there.

The PBS show American Experiences did a one-hour show on Jesse James … a historical myth-buster, of course, but their website helped me understand how his experience as a teenage bushwhacker probably propelled him into his career as an outlaw.   Missouri bushwhackers were pro-Confederate guerrillas who operated behind the Union lines … American insurgents, I guess.  Hard to go back to pushing a plow after that sort of adrenaline rush – not to mention PTSD, long before it had initials.

I especially like the shooting gallery – done in Flash, with sound effects.

Now that the first paper is done – I’m back to comics & blogging.  I have about a day and a half to turn my ideas and research into a coherent 12-page research paper.  I hope I can do it without my head exploding.


on bookmaking and flash galleries (or why I haven’t been blogging)

I call this book Found & Stitched, made over the summer for a grad level studio course in bookmaking.

What I like about it are the interior details … the silver stamping on torn white paper. The contrast of silver with black. The Frankenstein-like stitching directly through the cardstock.

Torn paper and found sentences … silver thread and images of flying or running … for text, I lifted sentences at random from books around my house … usually the first sentence of the third paragraph on the 50th or 70th page. Oddly, the randomness coalesces into something that makes sense.

Next – I finish my Book of Hours.

I’m also creating galleries in Flash to showcase work on my website. Once I got the first one to work (the one on Found & Stitched) … creating the others has gone quickly. Last night I created one from photos I took over the summer (my Life Unplugged) and this morning I’ve got a cool one partly done with historical photos from the oral history project, complete with captions. Maybe by Monday, I’ll have uploaded the new pages to my website … if so, I’ll post here and on Facebook.

friday art moment

Jeanie Finlay is a UK artist who uses documentary work in an interesting way. Enjoy!


What she says about Home-Maker: “Home-Maker explores what it is like to be housebound, to live your life alone within four walls, focusing on the artefacts that the interviewees collected over a life time and how these objects represent memories and stories from their history. Often the stories are about the person who used to share their life who is no longer with them. The films also document in the intimate nature of the interviews, the close relationship that developed between the artist and the subjects.”

more about Home-Maker

new website posted

On Saturday I somehow lost the home page of the website that’s been up since December. Whoops! It wasn’t an identifiable file lost – I’m sure I did something … rather than spend a lot of time fixing a home page I don’t plan to keep, I took the whole thing off the server and posted the website I’ve been working on, even though I’m not thrilled with it. my new website

It does feel good to have a website with fewer unfinished pages and dead links … and with finished writing and about me/contact pages. I cleaned up the audio files, converting .wav files to .mp3s so they’re compressed and easier to download. I gave an attribution to the Georgia O’Keeffe quote that’s been running in a Flash experiment for a month. And I took down Patchwork – a video piece I wasn’t happy with. I love the audio mix I did for it, however, so I’ll add that to the Thirty-Second Audio Experiments page. I want to spend any time I have between now and Thursday’s lab workshop on audio. Adding clips. Fixing clips. Working on the oral history page.

For today, however, I need to shift gears and move on to Monday’s deadline – reading for the seminar class, followed closely by Tuesday’s deadline – all student artist statements read and feedback finished – and Wednesday’s deadline – move into the Annex Studio. Thankfully, in about a month, the deadlines will evaporate. I’ll be able to relax. Maybe.

Meanwhile, the recovering dog sleeps.

flash and a drawing tablet

I showed my first flash piece in class last night. I used a quote from Georgia O’Keefe “Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”

Nobody Sees A Flower flash piece

I might need to invest in a Wacom tablet if I do more flash pieces. The mousepad on the laptop isn’t sensitive enough to draw with. We were told that last semester – but I dismissed it. After building a piece with motion paths and drawing two flowers and a snail … I can see the advantage of having something better to draw with.

A friend told me that Circuit City had one left for 30% off and so this afternoon I went to see if it was one I could purchase. The only one left had no mouse, no instruction manual, no cable, and looked pretty beat up. The clerk said he couldn’t sell it like that and I didn’t want it.

It was sad, going to Circuit City … sort of like going to a funeral. The chain is closing for good and they’re selling everything. A melancholy feeling even as I purchased ink cartridges for our printer and batteries at a deep discount. I was glad to leave.

flashed out

I’ve been working on a Flash piece since 9 a.m. … 4 hours and I don’t like how it’s turning out. I guess the point is the learning that happens along the way. It’s going to suck, however, to finish my first Flash poem experiment and hate the way it works.

I have to remember that this really is an experiment / exercise. I wrote a haiku to match two photographs. One slides to reveal the other; the words float across the images. Not mysterious enough for my taste, but it’s a beginning.

I do like some aspects of it. Once I’m done with this version, I think I’ll recreate a final copy from scratch that incorporates the pieces of the experiment that I actually like. And, if I get a chance between now and 7 p.m. – I’m going to invest in Flash CS4: The Missing Manual. I’m flashed out for now. Time for the ordinary – for lunch and the dentist and parent-teacher conferences at my kid’s school.

what flash can do

I’m going to redo my webpage – using photographs I took over the break and using flash to make my name and the other word/links fade in and then tremble slightly, like there’s a slight breeze. I might also add some natural sound – although I think I’ll get the basics up first.

Here are two websites I like that I found through the best website – full of award-winning designs done in Flash or CSS. I hesitate to say what they are, because they’re interesting enough to be destinations in themselves without having to be advertising for anything … which of course both are.
6 beers of separation

Getting my photo galleries built is also a priority. But first, I have to finish the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grant application and the teaching assistantship application with the Dean’s office. And the reading for Monday night’s class, too. Before I do any of that … I have to supervise my daughter cleaning her room before she leaves for the birthday party in two hours. And I have to do at least one load of laundry so she’ll have clean socks.

I have to think marathon and not sprint, here … it’ll take time to redesign my webpage and to learn what I need / want to learn in this program. It’s all good. The washing machine is calling my name.

Obama photos & a Flash poem

The trouble with including links to news sites is that a day later what I wanted to share will be history, literally. Since it’s no longer “news” it’s been moved to an archive and not always easy to find. Instead of changing yesterday’s post … I found the archived photos myself and here’s the link: BBC World News Obama inauguration photos.

I also read/watched a flash piece today called In Praise of an Elevator that I really liked. Sometimes “new media” pieces seem like novelties to me, sort of interesting but lacking depth. This one works as poetry and as a moving imagery / sound piece. All the pieces are equally strong; the sum of their parts even better. I also like the narrative arc – it pulls me through. There’re some other pieces in Born Magazine worth a watch.