Hello all! The previous week was a good one for digital alchemy, what with all our Twitter adventures and in-class research.
During our Twitter Chat, I got the chance to talk, or tweet…, about one of my favorite things: digital art! I was tickled to see other users talking about DeviantArt (for those that don’t know, my thesis is focused on DeviantArt communities), and I loved that I could share a bit about my activities there and some of my favorite digital art. I wanted to talk about the ways that Twitter has become an extended part of certain online art communities, particularly (you guessed it!) my beloved closed species (CS) communities, but I figured it might go off topic, so I’ll just settle for sharing a few examples here. I’ll save the rest for my thesis blog. As a bit of context, those two examples are Twitter profiles members of the Griffia closed species community have made for their characters. It allows them to explore social media through their characters’ eyes, thus bridging fantasy and reality. At times these Twitter accounts are also used as places of practice for civic imagination. As an endcap to this little digital-art-themed ramble, I’ll share a piece of digital art I made, of which I am particularly proud. Yes, this was for a CS community thing on DeviantArt:
Artwork by me, Terradragon species and design by griffsnuff@DeviantArt
Now let’s get to the next (related, but different) topic: the Twitter Safari! I really had a great time with this activity, and it had some extra, behind-the-scenes meaning for me as well. As can be seen in my Safari entries, each one includes a little snippet of lyrical prose. That sort of writing was on the tip of my brain last Tuesday because I had just been struck by a bolt of writing inspiration on the way to school. Well yeah, you might say, you’re in an English Master’s program; that’s no big deal. Big news: IT IS. I had some major health issues last semester, and those issues had been bubbling for a while. My mind was in an awful place, and it had been at least a year since I had experienced genuine inspiration to write. I’m not talking about “Oh, okay, I’ll write about this for this assignment; I’ve got ideas about how to do that”; I’m talking about true creative writing inspiration, the type where the words just smack you out of nowhere, pre-packaged in tasteful statements, and demand to be written. It’s like artistic diarrhea. A few years ago, that sort of inspiration was commonplace for me. I wrote like I breathed. I had artistic diarrhea enough that I had to carry a fucking pen-and-paper diaper to catch all my words and ideas. I thought I had lost that ability; I thought life had beaten it out of me. But I was wonderfully wrong! Before class last week, I was feverishly writing a short creative nonfiction piece on a yellow legal pad with an unsharpened pencil. The residual creative thought was used to make the comments on my Twitter Safari photos, and now they’re markers of the moment when inspiration finally came back to me, when I really started feeling like myself again for the first time in a while.
The Twitter Safari itself was a fun activity, and I can see it being a useful teaching tool (for those of us that intend to teach). I liked the urgency of it, and I definitely would not change it to a longer assignment. I think that would allow students to ignore it. There’s something special about being told “Here’s 15 minutes; go find art in your boring-ass surroundings.” It’s like a warm-up jog for the brain, or at least that’s how I’d use the Safari activity if I were to use it in my future teaching career. One day the students could do a Safari instead of free-writing; I think they serve similar purposes, but in totally different ways.