A type specimen in blog-post format
After a year and a half at home, quarantined, and working, this alphabet came to me.
First, in the form of an h.
I had been looking at an older book called “The Art of Calligraphy.” I have never had formal training in calligraphy before but have always been fascinated with its intricacy. Taking inspiration and techniques from the book, I started doodling some of the alphabets for fun. I enjoyed the hand movements, the markings on the page, and all these extra marks that aren’t as prominent in type anymore.
I love typography! But I never explored type in my work in a personal way. It always felt like a deity; untouchable to the likes of me – those who had never studied calligraphy. But this semester I got to teach typography for the first time and it changed my view on type. I was able to further understand it.
That maximum – when you have to teach something that’s when you actually learn it – was one of my biggest takeaways in my teaching this semester. By teaching type I learned type.
This alphabet is the spillage of my admiration for type.
The characters just evolved from one another, quite fast actually (could have used more time; it is a work in progress; nothing is ever done, yadda yadda yadda…). From the H I collected key information for the other letters: proportion, width, x-height and ascender, and contrast.
With these elements in hand, I could break up the shape of the H into its smaller pieces to apply to the other letters as they were created.
While drawing the H I focused on contrast and boldness. So I took these attributed and created a cohesive* alphabet that embraced these characteristics.
Once I had all the letters I could start applying them to different purposes. I made some posters, stickers, and I am working on making some animations with them.
I’ve also explored pattern making with the letters.
That’s it. I just wanted to get this post out. I want to do a more in-depth analysis of each letter and how I can improve them in the future.
It’s not bag dog, it’s bad vacuum!
Gaming is a relatively new interest of mine. I have been highly influenced by my husband who is an avid gamer. The only games I had played until we met were The Sims (1 to 3), Roller Coaster Tycoon, and Guimo (by a Brazilian publisher). I liked playing games but it faded from my identity as I grew. However, since getting together I have become more open minded and excited about games.
The first “serous”(or in gaming lingo: AAA title) game I played was Uncharted. This was the first time I had been drawn into a story, felt excited about exploring, and didn’t feel guilty about shooting at enemies. It helped that the main character, Nathan Drake, is quite charming too but the stories and animation were interesting on their own.
After that, I’ve tried many others (Journey, gone Home, Until Dawn, Animal Crossing, Mario Kart…), watched my husband play many different titles, and even invested on my own Switch. The more I participated –the 300 hours I put into Animal Crossing are there to prove, the more I noticed the animation, design, and writing of different games. This only increased my interest in gaming from an artistic perspective.
I explored games like Journey – a visual story told through color, sound, movement, setting, and game play. Gone Home – a “story exploration” game that I thought was spooky, but it was just very sad and beautiful. And most recently Genesis Noir. However, all these games are single player and my husband and I had yet to find one multiplayer game that really took us on a story-based adventure.
Most co-op/multiplayer games are high-intensity shooters (COD, Fortnite, or Apex) which aren’t really my vibe, yet. So finding something that could bring both our worlds together was our goal. As a whole, gaming has saved us in this pandemic. We play with friends often, which has helped ease the isolation, but sometimes we want to embark on journeys of our own.
That’s when It Takes Two launched.
Co-op, split screen, colorful, and “50% off.” You only need to buy ONE COPY to play with someone else. This was also a huge incentive, given that it gets expensive having to buy two copies of games that we want to play together. So, of course, we couldn’t pass up this opportunity!
From the beginning, this game was intriguing, emotional, and magical.
It is the story of parents that decided to share their decision to divorce with they daughter who, in-turn, ends up enchanting them and transforming them into dolls. In this new shape, they have to work together to get back to normal. They do all this with the help of “Dr. Hakim” – a self-help book about love.
The story is then divided into chapters where each presents a new setting, new abilities, and new goals. This is where this game shines!
Each chapter and each of the mini-games are based on traditional gaming concepts and techniques. The developers play around with throwing the gamer into side-scroller platformers, shooters, wall climbing, sliding/running away, swinging from hooks, and surfing on tracks. Each time, the actions you take further develop the story or just allow you to have the best of time in these intricate cities built in this couple’s normal-sized house.
I don’t want to spoil anything, so I will stick to visual/game play impressions.
The animation and character style chosen for this game work so well. It teeters between the real and the imaginative. It is as though you are entering a child’s imagination. The color palettes, the soundscape, the controls… all of the most minute details seem to have been thought out and well planned. Nothing seemed careless or unnecessary.
In a world where we have 924875356 versions of FIFA with recycled animations/assets, a game like It Takes Too comes to say that there are many developers who love this art form and that are able to tell intricate stories through every facet of it.
I was missing a game like this in my life and I am very happy that I played it with my husband. We have definitely learned to work better together after it.
Give it a try too and let me know what you think!
Online learning isn’t for everyone. I’m not saying that it doesn’t have a place in the world today.
We are all living faster and connected lives, so having the flexibility of online learning is quite a feat of humanity!
However, I have been collecting data from my students about how was their Fall 2020 (it is based on observation and an ill-constructed questionnaire, but… here I wanted to share it anyway).
Fall 2020 was unique, to say the least. It was my first time teaching at the university level outside of graduate school and it was already all online. As a teacher I found myself being an instructor -an expert scaffolding knowledge and building courses, an IT person – troubleshooting Zoom issues and computer issues, and, somewhat, and entertainer – trying my best to keep student attention through visually rich lectures, videos, games, and puns!
For students, they were coming from a frustrating Fall 2020, where classes were haphazardly transferred to the online environment. Insecurity ruled. The trust between students and their universities is low, so the spirits aren’t high to begin Spring 2020.
Here’s my “data collection” from the beginning of this semester from the four classes I am teaching at Illinois State University. I asked the students
“How was fall 2020 for you?”
I had a total of 50 unique responses with the majority of students mentioning how tiring the past semester was. (Two people said “easy” but I think these were mistakes LOL, anyway)… I believe that tiring being chosen more than stressful is very telling, here’s why.
I got to thinking “what is one thing that has been taken away from everyone as we transitioned to online teaching?” The one response I could find was: The external environment – going to campus and having people around us pursuing the same goals.
Once we jumped into online teaching we removed the environment from the learning equation. We removed these external cues that let us know what we were doing and where we were going. Here’s an example:
You are a student taking 15 credits in a semester (that’s about 5 classes). When you get ready to go about your day, you grab your backpack and think “okay, today I have this one class and this one class so I need to take these books/tools to class.” Once you get to campus, you go to specific buildings and classrooms where the classes take place and these spaces further support the idea that you are somewhere to do something. You don’t have to actively think “I am here for this class,” after a while that automatically happens. However, when we move to an online environment where we sit at the same desk in front of the same computer we miss these external cues that helped us navigate our schedule without using our brain power.
So, my hypothesis is that by removing the external cues we have added a lot stress onto our brains arriving at the Cognitive Load Theory. We are overworking our brains just to situate ourselves into “what do we need to now” instead of the act of being somewhere give us the answers.
As humans, and at least for the past 100 years, we really didn’t have to do that. But now, inserted into an online environment you have to keep repeating it to yourself (even if unconsciously) “I am at this class now, later I have this other and I need to press this button for that.”
This is, of course, just one aspect of how online learning might overburden our brain capacities. We are social beings after all, so substituting the in-person connection to gray squares on Zoom isn’t cutting it.
If you are an adept of Bandura’s Social Learning Theory you probably know where I am trying to get at here. In his theory, Bandura postulates that people, behaviors, and environments interact to create learning. Therefore, if one of these parameters is removed from the equation, student learning is compromised.
I do know that online learning works for some people, however, it takes a lot of self-motivation to stick with an online course, especially if asynchronous, to finish it. But a synchronous course isn’t the answer either.
We need to exchange our experiences in person to be able to fully learn, but in the middle of a pandemic that’s hard to do. But, what I don’t want to happen after the pandemic is over is the thinking that since we were all, for the most part, successful in migrating to an online environment of learning that it should become the norm. We are able to continue our teaching, but at what cost?
Maybe I’m just nostalgic about being in front of the classroom and walking around to help students use illustrator, but I think we haven’t seen the bigger picture of the effects, and efficacy, of online teaching.
Jacques-Louis David will always be one of my favorite painters.
After reading Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Men a couple chapters stood out, from which my group’s activities and discussion were based on.
Chapter 4 – The Gadget Lover: Narcissus as Narcosis
The mediated technology numbs us.
“The principle of numbness comes into play with electric technology, as with any other. We have to numb our central nervous system when it is extended and exposed, or we will die. Thus the age of anxiety and of electric media is also the age of unconscious and of apathy” (McLuhan, 2013, p 51).
This article from UCLA’s Newsroom from 2011, brings up an interesting point regarding the connectedness of people and how desensitized they have become to horrors seen online (http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/is-the-internet-killing-empathy-193294 ).
Even though this seems quite negative, there is a new wave of technology developers that put humans in the center of development. In this article from Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/11/20/empathy-technologies-humanity-at-the-heart-of-emerging-tech/#3e67c3f82870 ), Dianne Wilkins talks about how technology businesses are becoming more human-centric as a way to give purpose to their developments.
Maybe technology has pushed us toward numbness for a while that now the tables are turning and we are looking back at ourselves as the drivers of meaning in society.
Chapter 23 – Ads: Keeping Upset with the Joneses
As someone who has studied feminist art history, it is almost impossible to think about ads without remembering the words of Jean Kilbourne. She has been collecting images of ads representing women since the 60’s and has created the series “Killing Us Softly.” Below is her TEDx talk at Lafayette College in 2014 in which she explains her work and talks about the huge impact that ads have on men and women of all ages.
Her series is a must see in a world lead by capitalism. When we need to buy to keep up with life and changes, those changes come with a cultural and social price. The more we consume, the more those products shape our way of life and understanding of the world around us. From McLuhan’s chapter on ads he says, “ads are not meant for conscious consumption” (2013, p. 247) and “ads push the principle of noise all the way to the plateau of persuasion” (2013, p. 247). Ads are shoved onto us even when we believe that we are immune to them, but the repetition and the noise it creates it breaks our conscious barriers and instill the “need” to consume.