Interviews: Melanie Crean and Mom

We had interviews due today for Writing and Research.

A couple weeks ago I had a chat with Melanie Crean, another professor at Parsons in MFADT.  I call this an informal interview because at the time, I just saw it as bouncing ideas off a new perspective. I didn’t record the convo or prepare many questions.

My other interview was with my mom, Ann. At this point, I have reflected and looking at my own experiences and feelings about family dinner and technology at the table, but no one else. It helped to talk to my mom because usually, we wouldn’t really bring this stuff up on a day-to-day basis.


Project Titles

Although I haven’t nailed down my project ideas, we are still working on project titles. My thesis project for my undergrad degree in Visual Arts was called “Please Remove Your Shoes.” Unlike here on the mainland, in Hawaii, you remove your shoes before entering a home. This project had a lot to do with coming into my “home” that I recreated in a gallery space. This exhibition was also centered around a dining table that I created because it was the space where conversations were held and I learned a lot about my family culture.

This project is a little different because it focuses more on the table, and dinner conversation. I think it is also more related to the relationships formed between the people at the table. For me, it may be the relationship between my mom. At the table, we played by her rules.

I am going to start by listing some (obvious and not very good) thoughts:

  • Dinner Conversations
  • Time for Dinner
  • Dinner Time
  • Five by four (Five people, four sides to the table)
  • FamilyTime (like FaceTime, but not just digitally? bringing back the tech into the idea?)
  • No TV at the table (?)
  • Table Talk
  • Family First
  • Together (To…Get..Her)…yeah that’s useless
  • The Space Within
  • ….still thinking

I like “Talk to me” so its too bad that it was the title for that MoMA exhibit. Shucks!

Three Generations

My life has gone through its ups and downs, but along the way I always had two of the strongest ladies in my life–my mom, Ann and my grandma–Florence. They were there for me back in 1995, when this picture was taken and are there for me today. This got me thinking because they both called me separately today about different things.

I go back to my thoughts about technology from a little earlier in this thesis process because technology at the dinner table was bad, but technology to stay connected is good. I don’t know if this means my interest still lies in this balance of technology we use everyday, but I do know that between these two topics the connection IS my family and specifically my Mom, Ann.

I tried to push beyond myself for this thesis and go into a topic that I never explored before that still closely relates to my interests but I have accepted that this is still about my mom and my family.  Why? Well, I think it is through everything that I have been through so far in life–all my major life changes–I have kept my family in mind. I truly appreciate the guidance and foundation I had as a young child because that structure has formed me to be who I am now. The little things that I thought were once a nuisance are now the things that I am considering to base my MFA thesis on. That means something. If I can’t get away from it, I need to go to it.

“It Takes a Village” by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Louisa recommended this book to me so today I went to Bobst to pick it up. I started reading it on the subway ride home and I thought it was very relevant to my current themes I am tossing around. Although they are not yet concrete, I am talking about family relationships, family dinner conversation, and possibly my relationship to my mother.

In the first couple pages Hillary states the title comes from an African proverb. She writes:

I chose that old African proverb to title this book because ti offers a timeless reminder that children will thrive only if their families thrive and if the whole of society cares enough to provide for them. (Page 12)

Hillary goes on to further explain that the “village” today is no longer a specific place and now we have a “modern village.”

The village can no longer be defined as a place on a map, or a list of people or organizations, but its essence remains the same: it is the network of values and relationships that support and affect our lives.”

I see my family as my village and I want to read more about the villages Hillary has to talk about.

Meeting with Louisa

Today we had individual meetings for writing class with Louisa, our professor.

Here are some things for me to think about:

  • Is this actually autobiographical? I have been struggling with this idea to move beyond myself, but as Katherine, my thesis teacher suggested yesterday, and Louisa again today, maybe it is about me and my experiences, and that is completely OK. The problem is that I need to accept that it is more about a personal exploration and finding conventions to do this to relate it back out to other people if I want to
  • Ultimately, thesis is something I want to do and if I am not being true to myself it will not be successful.
  • “Reclaiming conversation”  is something that Louisa sees as being central to my ideas.
  • Nostalgia, longing
  • Relationship with my Mom? Louisa pointed out that my Mom always comes up in these conversations that I have and in my presentations. My mom has been a big part of my life and as one of the strongest women I know, has a lot to do with the way I was brought up and the values that I have. Maybe she is right and this is about close we are and why that is?
  • More questions: What are the experiences you want to create for your participant? what feelings do you want to elicit?

Related references:

It Takes a Village, by Hillary Rodham Clinton

No longer Bowling Alone, Henry Jenkins

Prototype #2: Deciphering Dinner

I was sick last week and didn’t get to update as often as I wanted to! I realized that I have been missing posting daily, but I have been updating my bibliography.

For this prototype I created a book to tell the story of my family experiences around the dinner table. The things I remember and meaningful conversations are depicted in the narrative of this story.

I have been in a little of a rut recently, trying to figure out where my thesis is going. While some people are on a clear defined bath, I think I have some defined areas of interest and I am not sure how al these pieces are going to come together. It troubles me to think that this far into thesis, I am unsure of what exactly my thesis will be.

I am also struggling because of my personal connection to my work so far. I wanted to be able to expand my ideas through my thesis to other people, other cultures, other groups, but I haven’t been able to clearly define how I will be able to bridge that gap. Today, in our critique Katherine made a good point and said if what I really want to do is about myself, I need to stop fighting it and either accept it, or move on because if I don’t decide soon, I will end up running myself in circles. This is exactly how I feel. I think it is the balance of staying true to what I am passionate about but also being able to challenge myself along the way. I have to think a little more about this though and what exactly I am after.  Part of me feels like I am trying to come up with an understanding of why I am the person I am today.

In doing this prototype I was able to make something that I see as a description to my past. A description to why I have these values that a lot of other people don’t necessarily tie themselves to. To see the whole story, click here.

My presentation from class today can also be viewed at this link and here is a link to my brief for my second prototype.


What is old is new again?

I have been reading a lot on “media archaeology” and how to understand where we are going we have to look back into the past. For example, the PopPhone. So popular in the last couple months but using a design from an early phone. bringing the ear piece and the microphone back to the smart phone and getting us away from the screen. Feels a little nostalgic.

In reference to my earlier article I posted from GQ, where the editor called meeting people in person “so retro,” I also thought about how there are other “old” things are becoming popular again. People love the idea of Polaroids  cameras and we see projects like the one below from The Impossible Project on Kickstarter that creates a personal printer for iPhone photos.

The demand is there. They double their goal and got 2,000+ people to support them. The actual camera looks silly, but look at how hard these people worked to take some steps backwards, using the simple point and shoot, and how many people are demanding to see this project through! I think this is just amazing, and ridiculous at the same time. Wouldn’t it be simple enough to just take a picture with a regular camera, rather than taking a picture of a picture on our iPhone?

So it seems that there is a time and space for this idea of looking back to move forward and how new digital media doesn’t separate us from communicating with one another, but might actually be helping us evolve as users to position ourselves. The technology helps people do distill their thoughts and realize what they value–which seems to be, what is old, is new again.


Is there a way to use this new technology as a way to celebrate the old?

We aren’t getting rid of physical things, we need them to live. How is it that technology can enhance a physical thing?