I Can Read Forrest Gump

July 1st, 2011

Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know when you’ll find a shrimp inside. Wait, huh?

Forrest Gump was actually a book to begin with, but the movie was so much more popular that it basically faded into obscurity. Anyways, I hope it’s clear that a box of chocolates is what’s being portrayed there. For the most part, it’s just a bunch of colored shapes; chocolates aren’t easy to portray in a minimalist style. Most of this was made from scratch, the exception being that shrimp, which I got from Google images.

Iconic me

July 1st, 2011

Not completely happy with how this turned out, but that’s mostly my perfectionism speaking. For the most part I’m just upset I couldn’t find a way to make all the circles co-centric; you can barely notice, though, so it isn’t much of an issue.

Well, this is the icon to represent me. A brain in some sort of maze. There’s lots of meaning here, but it’s mostly about the idea that anything that goes on in my mind has to go through all sorts of hurdles before ever appearing in the real world. It goes back to my perfectionism, but it goes far beyond that. It really is like my brain is an enclosed area, and ideas – both creative ideas and just simple things like conversation points – have to go through a long, harsh filtering process before passing through. Everything has to be thoroughly thought out, and nothing can be spontaneous. No wonder I called myself “The Recluse”.

Album Cover

June 30th, 2011


The only thing I don’t like about this is how the word “Aviary” got put there in the corner, eager to advertise where this was made. Seriously, is there any way to get rid of that? It’s kind of distracting, but it happens for everything I make on Aviary.

Anyways, this was for the assignment that involved finding a randomly generated Wikipedia article, quote, and picture and putting them together to make the cover of an album. The band name here, “I, Jonathan”, happens to itself be the name of an album by someone named Jonathan Richman. The full quote was “A man who doesn’t trust himself can never truly trust anyone else”, said by someone named Cardinal de Retz. Taking the last five words makes it seem much more angsty. And the picture is… well, a picture of someone’s dog. Applying a black-and-white, semi-transparent radial gradient made even that look artsy.

Everything is a Remix

June 29th, 2011

There’s a classic South Park episode (titled “Simpsons Already Did It”) in which Butters tries to come up with an original plan, only to find that everything he tries has already been done by the Simpsons at some point. At the end of the episode, he has to come to terms with the fact that everything has been done by someone at some point, so there’s no use in trying to be 100% original.

So goes the message of Everything is a Remix, one of the most interesting, thought-provoking videos I’ve seen in a long time. The video not only makes the assertion that every new thing is just a “remix” of not-so-new ideas, but provides example after example to prove this. The automobile, the lightbulb, and the printing press, among other things, are all shown to be, basically, remixes of ideas that already exist.

In fact, it’s enough to put into question the very idea of “invention”, something I’ve wondered about in the past: can you really say that anything is “invented”, coming into existence like a child out of the womb, when each new idea simply builds on the foundation that came before it? It’s a problem I ran into in the past when trying to find out what the first video game ever was. Examples of what might be considered the “first video game” date back to 1942, but do those even count? It’s hard to say, since the concept of a video game didn’t exist until later. It didn’t come into existence all at once – it evolved over time.

And I think “evolved” is a better word for how new things arise than “remixed”, though I understand why the latter was chosen. I suppose not every remix is an evolution; it’s just the ones that are that get famous. But in any case, the fact that copying is such a vital part of innovation has some pretty interesting implications for copyright law. I have to wonder how long the current state of copyright law will last, in an era when copying is often as simple as Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V.

We Are All Artists

June 29th, 2011

I’m really falling behind in class, and have nobody to blame for that but myself. This was supposed to be up a couple of days ago; still, better late than never.So here’s my response to Tim Owen’s discussion.

The discussion began with the idea that creativity is not an inherited trait, but something anyone can achieve with practice, and in the right environment. Maybe I’m just a contrarian (I am), but I somewhat disagree with this. Tim Owens uses the argument that creative parents often have creative children as evidence that a creative environment fosters creativity, but I think it’s a good demonstration of what he’s trying to argue against – that creativity IS, to some extent, genetic. That’s a minor issue, though: just because some people will always be better athletes than others doesn’t mean that anyone can’t be fairly good with lots of practice. The same is true with creativity. And anyways, I don’t have any doubts about my ability to be creative, so the idea of using genetics as an excuse doesn’t really apply to me.

Again being a contrarian, I couldn’t fully agree with the idea that being uncomfortable makes one more creative. This goes against personal experience: when I’m uncomfortable, my whole attention wants to be devoted to removing the source of this discomfort, meaning less attention paid to whatever the task at hand is. But this is a really minor issue, because I can see his main point: that being creative makes one uncomfortable. This is especially true thanks to the perfectionist instinct that is brought up later in the discussion, and that runs very strong within me. I’m always terrified to submit something that isn’t the absolute best it can possibly be. That’s a strong reason I’m not so great about meeting deadlines; it’s something I have to put aside and get over, especially in this class.

The remainder of the talk I don’t have as much to say about, but I really liked it nonetheless. Much of it basically followed a simple pattern: “take X, make it Y”. This fits neatly with the “Everything is a Remix” video that I’ll post about later. Both discussions demonstrate that the essence of creativity is taking and old idea (or a collection of old ideas) and putting your own, unique spin on it.

Portal Troll Attack

June 27th, 2011

In case you couldn’t tell from these last three posts, I’m really starting to crank up the nerdiness level here.

I chose the “Triple Troll Attack” (or “Troll Quotes”) assignment because, well, it’s easy to put together. Technically I bent the rules by having everything here from the same series, but it was just subtle enough that I couldn’t resist. Nobody actually says “The cake is a lie” in Portal – it’s inscribed on the wall in some hidden areas. That didn’t stop it from being by far the most popular line in the game, though, to the point where the very mention of cake anywhere on the internet will probably incite someone to quote it. And for the record, that picture isn’t of GLaDOS, but of Wheatley from Portal 2.

Harry Potter in 4 Icons

June 26th, 2011

These can work for pretty much any Harry Potter book/movie, really.

The wand and scar were drawn from scratch, but I “cheated” and used clip-art for the owl and broomstick. Sadly, I am not an artist. All of it was done on pixlr, like the one in my last post.

The Mushroom Kingdom Awaits

June 24th, 2011

Making a “minimalist” poster with 8-bit NES sprites is tricky, since the sprites are already pretty minimalist to begin with. Solution: make everything black (sans one question mark). Also add some clouds in there for good measure. The blocks are in there to make it clear that this is from a Mario game; otherwise it would be hard to tell that those big black things are giant mushrooms.

I took a graphic art class back in high school, and I really wish I remembered anything from it. To be fair, we mostly used non-free programs like Photoshop, and I made the above picture with pixlr (I only have Photoshop on my old, slow computer), but many of the tools are the same. Maybe this would take even longer to learn without that class? This wasn’t too hard to make, for the most part, but I hadn’t realized it would be that small. Oh well. (EDIT: apparently that’s just for this page – click on the image and you get a full-sized one. Huh.)

Anyways, the Mushroom Kingdom seems like it might be a fun place to visit, if you can get past all the killer turtles.

My Boring, Effortless Poster

June 24th, 2011

Dr. Oblivion is missing

This is such embarrassingly sloppy work that I’d almost rather have posted nothing at all. I was “learning” how to use Aviary while making this, and when I say “learning” I mean trying to figure out how to do stuff and, upon realizing that I didn’t know enough about the site to do anything creative, I just said to hell with it and used the few tools I could figure out. Hopefully, before the next project is done I’ll either get better acquainted with Aviary, or somehow find a better, easier image editing site.

I feel completely lost right now. Even things that should be easy – like adding plug-ins to WordPress – are to me extremely frustrating and confusing. I can’t even use the excuse that this is a new world to me, since I already spent 90% of my free time on the internet before taking this class. How could have spent so much time on the internet without ever learning these basic things about using it?

On Michael Wesch

June 22nd, 2011

This will seem kind of short compared to my last post, but I guess I just don’t have as much to say. I watched Michael Wesch’s speech (here and here), and though it was long, it was definitely worth my time. Every minute was fascinating, thought-provoking, and spot-on. He brings up an excellent point about modern education: it’s aimed to make people knowledgeable, but that’s no longer what really matters. Knowledge – that is, information – is everywhere now, and what’s important is not obtaining it, but learning how to filter it. Wesch brings up some excellent points about the implications this has for today’s learning environment.

The problem, of course, is that professors used to be the ultimate authority over knowledge, and obviously that’s how they would want this to stay; they don’t want to admit that information is everywhere. Plenty of people in academia loathe tools like Wikipedia, despite the fact that I’ve probably learned more there than I have in any of my classes, and possibly in all of my classes combined. So progress will probably be slow in changing the goal of education, but I have faith that eventually the right thing will be done, especially once the online generation starts taking control of the universities.

One minor point I think is odd is how much time students were said to waste in their classes going online. I have yet to attend a class where the professor allowed the use of laptops during lectures. Maybe it’s different at other colleges. Or maybe I just have yet to be in those classes.