Fear Part III

It’s a damn shame I didn’t get to see anyone else’s fear projects outside of mine and David’s. I was very much looking forward to them, but circumstances prevented us from seeing any of them. The only other project I got to see was Dave’s, and it was a pretty good topic.

Dave based his experiment off of the fear of looking stupid in front of others. I think that’s a fear that most of us can relate to (I certainly can!). He also linked his religious beliefs into the project, as those are very important to him. Basically, he stood up in front of the class and asked them to argue with him about religion, and he would defend his beliefs no matter what. That’s a pretty gutsy thing to do, especially since it’s such a sensitive topic. Most people are pretty uncomfortable talking about it, because they don’t want to get into an argument or offend others. 

Well, this was the most civilized, polite discussion of religion I had ever seen. People had some great questions and arguments, and everything was just so cordial and pleasant. Unfortunately, it was only about 5 or 6 students participating in the discussion, and while there were some great topics discussed (such as the Genesis story, eastern religions, and the concept of hell), I don’t think people got as nitty-gritty as Dave was hoping. 

Dave likes to argue and debate. Not in any sort of hostile or aggressive manner, but he loves discussing ideas. Also, our religious beliefs differ quite a bit. Dave is a Christian and strongly believes in the Bible, and I am non-religious. Neither religion nor spirituality have ever really been a part of my life, and I am perfectly happy with it that way. So once in a while, we’ll get into discussing religious ideas, and it turns into a debate, and I absolutely hate it. I don’t feel comfortable trying to defend my particular beliefs because I don’t know enough about science to make a reasonable counterpoint. So I feel like I always lose. I know this isn’t the intent, but I still feel like I look a little less smart when we get into those kinds of discussions. So in a way Dave’s project was very relevant, and it was interesting to see him put under the microscope. I wish I had spoken up and participated in the discussion, as much to face my own fears on the topic as to help Dave out with his project. 

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Fear Part II

Monday was difficult. With it being the last week of school and having several major projects due all at once, I was pretty exhausted and hadn’t spent a lot of time preparing for my thing in Seeing Sideways. I was the very last person in the class to present, so I stood up in front of the class and just kinda winged it.

My fear experiment was extremely personal. I’m typically a pretty private person, not really comfortable with sharing information about myself unless it’s with someone I’ve known for a while and am comfortable with. So what I did was completely leap outside my comfort zone by about a mile. I literally came out to my entire class as asexual. It was terrifying. I shared some incredibly personal, private information about myself. And I definitely had mixed emotions about it. Yes, it was scary. It made me feel vulnerable, ridiculous. But it also wasn’t that big a deal. It was to me, but probably to everyone else, it didn’t seem like anything to be worried or embarrassed or concerned about in the least. And in the end, I felt a huge sense of liberation and relief (though the relief might’ve come from finally being done with most of my projects).

So, I guess to describe more in detail about my experiment, I basically started off asking if anyone had heard of asexuality as an orientation. And to my surprise, a couple people raised their hands. Elspeth said that she had, in fact, recently watched a documentary on that. So it was comforting to know that at least a few people were familiar with it. I discussed my lack of attraction and completely absent libido, and touched on my fears of sex. I talked briefly (and tried not to go into too much detail because it’s embarrassing and really personal) about a medical condition that I recently realized that I had that prevents penetrative sex. And I discussed how my identity affects my relationship with David. I also had people asking questions, so it was more of a discussion than a speech. And everyone in class was really respectful and asked good questions. They seemed to be curious about it, and not once did anyone make me feel uncomfortable or unsafe. I know that shouldn’t be surprising because this class is full of awesome people, but it was still good to see. People were even reassuring and supportive, when I mentioned how it seems like I’m missing out on a fundamental human experience. So the class reaction was great. It was better than I expected. And I was so relieved at the end.

It was certainly an emotional experience. And it’s funny, when I think about it, how it makes me feel. Most of the time, I don’t dwell on the fact that I’m asexual. It’s usually not that important. Sex is not a factor in my life, but that’s all. So I guess I thought I was much more comfortable with my orientation then I actually am. Because when I got up to talk about it, I almost started crying. I don’t know if it was simply nerves or if I was releasing repressed emotions or what, but it was very stressful. I mean, I’m glad I did it, but it wasn’t the easiest thing to do.

Recently, with the medical stuff (vaginismus if you’re curious) I’ve been pretty emotional about it. I don’t quite understand why. It’s not like I ever wanted sex or was ever even interested in it. But now that I know that I physically can’t, it was very upsetting. Maybe not because I can’t have sex, but because a part of me really is broken. And recently it’s been confusing trying to work out both asexuality and vaginismus in my head. Am I ace because I have this condition? Or do I have it because I’m ace? Or are they related at all? Does one invalidate the other? Ultimately it’s no one’s business but my own and I can identify how I want, but it’s still difficult to sort out in my mind.

I just don’t want people trying to “fix” me. And it was very encouraging that everyone in class was so accepting. I think that was the best part of the project. And afterward, I felt really great.

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The Fear Experiment

This is going to be a difficult project for me. Probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. My project is really, really personal to me, and it’s going to take a lot of courage for me to get up and talk about this sort of stuff. I don’t know how my classmates will react to it. I’m afraid that they’ll take it the wrong way and end up attacking me, and that terrifies me. Maybe they won’t care, maybe they’ll be interested, maybe they’ll blow me off. I don’t know if I really want to do this…

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Impressions 10

We spent the entirety of the class last week watching the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know?”. It was the extended version, so it took up the whole class time. Prior to viewing the film, I had done a bit of reading on the film, since I was curious about it. I do admit, this probably influenced my view quite a bit. The film has received a lot of criticism for the way it presents certain scientific theories and how they relate to consciousness, and I went in feeling very skeptical. I had trouble accepting the credibility of all the speakers in the film. I did find the various experiments pretty interesting, and would like to learn more about them, but anything beyond that I viewed with a highly critical eye. According to what I read prior to viewing the film, at least one scientist was deliberately misrepresented by the film to further its thesis.

While the interviews and descriptions of experiments were interesting, the story that interwove through the film was absolutely terrible. The acting was shit, the writing was contrived, some of the scenes were downright painful to watch. The wedding dance in particular, where they decided to personify the neuropeptides, was so bad that I began to feel embarrassed for the film. I hated all the characters, they were terribly written. The film would’ve been much stronger if they’d cut out the narrative completely. It didn’t need it. It was like they were dumbing down the concepts presented in the film.

All in all, I think the film suffered from a number of problems. The worst was definitely the narrative. I also think that it tried to present too much stuff at once. It was kind of grueling to get through the whole thing, and I didn’t really absorb a lot of it. Maybe that had to do with a closed mind, though.

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Vision Board

So, I don’t exactly take a lot of stock in the vision board business. I think it’s kind of silly and new-agey and they usually turn out pretty damn ugly, from a composition standpoint. Most of the ones I looked at were all stuffed with overwrought platitudes and cliches and were generally kind of awful. So I wasn’t really that excited about making one for myself. About the only thing that I could think of that actually inspires me is really awesome artwork. As an artist, I am always trying to improve. And it’s pretty difficult. I have a folder full of artwork from other artists that for some reason or another, really resonates with me. Something about the way a particular artist draws facial expressions, or the line work on a detailed piece, or the seeming effortlessness of how a figure is drawn. Maybe this one has really nice hands (which are one of the most difficult things to draw). Everything in that folder is something I’ve collected, because in some way or another, I want to incorporate those details and features into my own style. I wish I could draw figures and hands better. I wish my symmetry was better. And god knows I need a lot more anatomy training! So I keep this folder and look at the artwork in it from time to time, and every time I do, I’m inspired to draw something.

So I had to do my vision board like this. Cliches and platitudes and overused slogans do nothing for me. Pictures of people exercising do nothing for me. Pictures of delicious food will only make me hungry. But artwork from amazing artists will always inspire me, and help me to improve even more.

vboard

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Impressions 9

I was only present for half of last week’s class, so I didn’t get the discussion on vision boards that happened in the later half. Last week we discussed our ideal creative space, following the bliss assignment. As usual we went around the circle, discussing our “what if” questions. I was a bit surprised to see that many of the questions my classmates asked were very… practical. What if I managed my time better? What if I wrote out a to-do list every day? These are certainly good things to consider when you want to maximize your productivity, but I can’t help but feel that a lot of people didn’t dig deeply enough. My questions ended up being a lot more whimsical than most of the others. I asked about things like recording my dreams and playing them back, bringing my characters to life so I could have conversations with them, and projecting my thoughts directly onto a canvas. Basically, a holodeck would be my ideal creative space. I wonder if my focus was different and more out-there because I’m so creatively invested in story-telling and character creation? Granted, I did not hear the other half the class’s questions because I had to leave early for work.

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Impressions 8

Last time in class we all presented our partner projects. It was really cool to see what everyone did for each other. A lot of people made something tangible that they felt represented the other person, and gave it to them. I liked the idea of exchanging projects, kind of like exchanging gifts. The reactions were the best. The first people who went both created music-related projects, and it was touching to see how happy they were to exchange their creations.

For our next project, we were given three hours to do whatever made us happiest. Beth said that a huge component of creativity is play, and I honestly believe it. We were also asked to visualize our ideal creative space, if it could be anything in the world, if time and money had no impact. I think it’ll be difficult to get past limitations, because we’re so used to them.

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Character

I wasn’t sure quite what to do for this project. Granted, I did not spend as much time as I probably could have on it, but I wanted to create something that would represent Caitlin and the word she picked out. Her word was “determined” and she discussed her experiences with retail work and her desire to go into marketing. I originally wanted to do some sort of advertising page that would display some of Caitlin’s qualities and strengths, but in the end I did not have enough time to complete it.

So, instead, I decided to do what I do best: drawing characters. I don’t know Caitlin very well, but from what I can see, she is cute and fashionable, loves hanging out with friends, and she seems like a friendly, sweet person. So I decided to draw her as a character. I checked out her facebook page for reference pictures and saw that she has many of herself and her friends hanging out.

My final drawing turned out like this:

caitlin1

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I tried to draw Caitlin as close to how she looks as possible, and I wanted her to look happy and confident. The background and effects were fun to do. I used a lot of duplicated images with different blending modes to create the effects. I hope that she likes my drawing of her!

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Impressions 7

Last class we finally all got to know one another. Everyone took turns standing up and talking about who they are and how life experiences have shaped them. It was pretty interesting. When it was my turn I talked a bit about being dropped from Purdue, which was a pretty low point in my life and to this day is still a source of shame and embarrassment. However, going around the room, a lot of people had similar experiences, whether with college or dropping out of high school. It’s a pretty common experience, and it’s something that happened in the past and has led me to where I am today, which is a much better place. It was difficult to get up and come up with something to say about myself that illustrated precisely who I am. I am a lot of things. Thinking back, there was so much more about myself that I wanted to say, but couldn’t think of at the time. I’m finding it’s incredibly difficult to truly know oneself. So I chose to talk about two different topics: my academic history, and my rage monster. Talking about my issues with anger was pretty interesting, because I know it’s something most people would never guess I have, and it is by far the ugliest side of me. So I told a couple stories about times when my rage has taken over and I’ve done things I really ended up regretting (like drop-kicking my old computer). From that I ended up using the word “impulsive” to describe myself. It’s true, I tend to act on my feelings without thinking things through when I’m in a mood, and it almost never ends well. But I wonder if that’s really the best word to describe the whole of myself.

I don’t think it’s possible to use just one word to describe a person. You could do that to describe a poorly written character, but people are so much more than that. People have hobbies and passions and bad habits and secret sides that they don’t show anyone else. Just one word isn’t going to fit a person in every way, or every mood, or every situation. It’s extremely limiting, and you will never capture a person’s entire essence.

So I enjoyed hearing about other peoples’ lives, even if it was only one small part of themselves. Then we were partnered up with someone else so we could do a project on them. I was paired up with Caitlin, who talked a bit about her work experiences and her friends and family. She used the word “determined” to describe herself. I feel like I got even less of herself than I did other people, so her project will be a challenge.

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Curiosity

We were asked for this experiment to open our minds to curiosity and find something that really grabbed us, and then do a project based on that. Well, after class I was thinking about what I might want to do, then I worked on some homework for another class. In the process I stumbled upon something really cool. And boy, did it grab me.

I found a program online for creating games from scratch for the Nintendo DS. Beforehand, I hadn’t even considered that possibility. I’m currently taking the first Game Design course here, and while I’m not the most experienced programmer, I’m enjoying it a lot. So when I found this program, I had to drop everything and play around with it. The more I experimented, the more hooked I was. This past week my every waking moment has been consumed by figuring this thing out. I can’t get it out of my head.

The really cool thing about DS Gamemaker is that it’s designed for both beginners and experienced coders. The main interface is designed for people who have either never programmed before or aren’t comfortable with it. There are drag-and-drop actions that you place into objects, and everything is very visual. The actions work the exact same way that code does, but you don’t have to worry about syntax or mis-typing something or leaving out a semicolon. But if you are a seasoned programmer, there’s a way to execute scripts that you write that can do much more specific things. It’s a really nice program and I’m very excited about learning more about it.

So I guess for my project, I made a couple of simple games for my DS along with another game I’m experimenting with, trying to figure out exactly how DSGM works. I’m trying to recreate the whack-a-mole template that we made in my Game Dev class, and it’s definitely a challenge. Certain things are much easier to do in DSGM than in ActionScript 3, and other things are much harder. ActionScript 3 works completely differently than whatever DSGM uses (I think it’s Visual Basic), so I have to work around that.

It’s funny, I never thought of myself as much of a programmer-type. I’ve taken programming classes before and hated them, but when I’m doing something on my own, I spend countless hours figuring out how to do different things. I think it’s the logic that I really like.

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