This semester I’m teaching and helping build (in real time) a new course for the third-year curriculum in the Illustration program. It’s called Contemporary Illustration + Commentary. It’s a vague, catch-all kind of course, and is quite different from what I’ve taught before, or even the other classes in the program. It’s technically a history class (re. the code), but the focus is moreso on getting students to think about their practise, their voice, and contextualizing it; how can you come up with ideas? develop work when no-one’s asking you to? develop longer-form work and pitch it? Lots of big questions and inter-connected themes… But I’ve been enjoying it so far, both the planning and the teaching of it.
Our first and largest project, is Journal Responses, designed to get them looking for and consuming media, and engaging with it thoughtfully through reflection, research, and creation. Here’s from the brief:
The etymology of “response”: Middle English: from Old French respons or Latin responsum: ‘something offered in return’.
Just as a critic’s review of a book, an op-ed piece (the page opposite-the-editorial in publications, devoted to personal opinion and commentary), a parody on a sketch comedy show, or political cartoons are responses to media and ideas in culture, we’re asking you to use your voice to offer something in return to the media and ideas we’ll explore in this course.
What is this?
A practice in recording your thoughts in response to material and developing ideas. A practice in that it is a repeated exercise, hopefully one that becomes habitual– small, consistent tasks throughout the semester.
Write/draw/create a ‘response’ to a ‘text’ that you read/listened to/watched/otherwise experienced. In this project, a ‘text’ could be an article, podcast, video, movie, event, comic, lecture, artwork, or other form– not just written words. We will ask that you choose a certain number of ‘texts’ from the Reading List we have curated, but you are also expected to find your own texts that you want to engage with, that are relevant to the topics of this course and your own interests.
Just like the examples above, a response could take the form of many different things: a letter, a mind map, a comic, a sketch, a recorded interview between you and someone, an artwork, etc.
We’re a couple weeks into the project currently, and there’s been some interesting responses from the students! Some comics, a song(!), lots of mindmaps and text responses. I’m hoping that as we go, especially later when we talk more about ‘generating content’ and working with their own ideas, they’ll start getting more diverse and take the ideas further.
The other professor who’s teaching this too, said he would do the projects along with the students– and so I felt I ought to as well! That’s actually what resulted partially in Log 2 - Rolling Stone update, teaching, rest, going to the library; and while I haven’t been as rigorous about it as the students, I have been trying to mindfully take time to read and reflect, and follow along. Also — this log/blog seems like the perfect place to do this, no?
For our first week, we chose this podcast from The Ezra Klein Show:
I love thinking about and collecting ephemera of how we visualize time. With this interview, I had to re-listen to the latter parts about presentivism and eternalism multiple times to try and wrap my head around it. Here I was trying to visualize the difference:
I got into the idea of ‘frames’ — which reminded me of film strips or animation frames, stills that only come to life when played at a certain speed, with our brain filling in the gaps. I wondered if experiencing the present in presentivism could be similar — only that moment exists… I kept thinking about walking through sheets, or films, or doorways, or falling through like gravity.
And then I was thinking about cycles, and visual illusions — what if the clock’s 2D-line second hand was actually a window to peer through?