Well, here we are. This is going to be my final main (Weeklies) blog post for the class. I’ll probably be posting one last Field Guide after this, as a wrap up for the final project, but for the time being… would it be appropriate to act (overly) dramatic? I think I’m getting choked up right now. Ok, maybe not —but you can’t see it, so why not pretend for bonus points? I suppose that this particular post would be reserved for one final reflection on the class as a whole but honestly I really do not know what to write about. Not because there isn’t anything worthy to write about but rather there is just so much that I do not know where to even begin. It’s ironic to think that I didn’t get a chance to write a final blog post in our E-Lit class last semester, and that made it feel somewhat incomplete. Yet, here I am, given that chance, and I’m simply stumped.
For the past couple of weeks, I was simply reflecting on my progress on the final project. Although it’s moving a lot slower than I had anticipated, it was still refreshing to see those tiny little steps toward something interesting (fingers crossed). I guess, since the idea here is reflection, writing about the Research Day visit would probably be a good idea. It could also help me collect some of my thoughts “scattered on the floor”. I’m still trying to put the pieces in my head as a way to describe what the presentation was and what I managed to learn from it, but I could say with confidence that it was truly inspiring. Prior to the visit, I was able to look through the website and get some ideas as to what to expect from the presentation a little. Degenerates’ Gallery —a title that I absolutely love— was the final thesis project by our very own Kelli Hayes. Before I go any further, I guess it’d appropriate to congratulate her on getting to “the finish line”. I can’t imagine the hardship and pressure (and perhaps privation?) that this project probably had caused. Well, I sort of can but I don’t believe it’d be accurate at all. I’d felt the weight of many final projects before, but to think of a thesis… Just, wow.
Anyways, getting back to the project itself… Simply put (without doing it justice), it was about the complexities of self-representation in our new “digitized society, one that is always ‘plugged in’ and that is in interminable conversation with itself”. As stated by Kelli that “convergences of socialization, of self, and of technology have led to an emergence of new forms of self-representation as well as of forms of aesthetic presentation”, which is something that can be observed easily online. It was really compelling to see a metal installation at the presentation that truly captured that notion. I knew that there was going to be a metal installation at the presentation —the website kind of spoiled it— but I didn’t expect what kind of installation it’d really be. It was an engaging one, that’s for sure. We were asked to customize a small card, representing our perspective on those newly emerged “digital spaces”, and then attach it on the metal installation that resembled a human head. It was a very clever way to represent the notion of “digital identity” in real life. The transition into the analog reality, if you will. And, it was a lot of fun.
I should probably also mention my little project/contribution to the presentation, which was wearing a tiger mask. Yes, a tiger mask. I confess that I’m really curious about the reaction that ignites without the proper context. You see, the overall theme of the presentation was about self-representation of an individual as indicated above. I figured that I could create and wear a mask of my Twitter account persona, which is a tiger, and pretend to be “it” in real life. It might sound silly —which it was— but I figured that it could capture the theme that Kelli was going for with her thesis. You can see the before-and-after of the mask’s progress below.
Not too shabby, I hope? It’s funny that seeing someone actually succeed in something truly inspires others to “take up arms” and strive for something. I remember seeing the flyer for Degenerates’ Gallery on the wall, inside Vaughn-Eames Hall, as I was making my way to the class, and stopped for a second to think that… wow, this is special; someone from English and Writing Studies, the program that I’m enrolled in, putting together a gallery for everyone on campus to see. Can we say “yelling from the top of Mount Everest”? It’s really motivational. I can’t help but wonder if I’ll be able to reach that “peak” with the same success when I get to it… Here’s hoping.
Looking back, the entire experience felt like a culmination of everything that we’ve learned in our class of Network Narratives, from the algorithms, online identity, taking selfies, sharing memes, to GIF making. As we engaged with the installation, shared images (including memes and GIFs) on Twitter, and discussed the implications presented by Degenerates’ Gallery among ourselves (the classmates) on Research Day, I feel like we’ve come to solid closure in understanding what the class was all about. Hence, the reason why reflecting on that presentation was the perfect choice for this final blog post. The final objective remaining now is putting all of that knowledge into the Field Guide project as “a nice little bow” to wrap everything up —and we’re almost there.
I’ve had a lot of fun and I really believe that I’ve learned a lot. So overall, I’d dare say that this class… was a roaring success! (The pun is fully intended…) Now, please allow me to place the following reference:
Hayes, K. (2019). Degenerates’ Gallery: Exploring Self-Representation & Aesthetic Presentation in New Digital Media As A Resurgence Of Dada Idealism. Retrieved from https://degeneratesgallery.wordpress.com/