Dream Job #2: Knitting with Inmates


A few weeks ago I blogged about making paper and bookbinding with Veterans in their healing spaces. Today I chanced upon another art healing initiative in a Baltimore penitentiary. According to one of the men “Real Men Knit Pink”. I would cherish the opportunity to work with incarcerated women or men to create beautiful things. To create beauty in a place of punishment is to manifest an alternative inner-world that can affect the individual’s experience of place, of self and ideas of possibility.

Blogging to a great future,
Shawndel

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Future Fashion: 3D Fabric from Your Printer and Multi-style Clothes


I perused Pinterest looking for inspirations, new DIY crafting projects, and future design. My click-fest eventually led me to Ecouterre and this 3-D printed coin necklace. You can order one pre-assembled or buy the DIY pattern from Shapeways, the 3D print items web store.

Michiel Cornelissen's 3D printed copper coin necklace

Is this the future of fabric? What then of the future of fashion? Slow Fashion? DIY?   Convertible Clothes? Cottage Industry Handmade? Upcycled?

Zoe Grace Fletcher  imagines core items decorate-able with interchangeable knit accent pieces. One blouse 12 ways, each niftier than the rest.

Then there is the portable closet by Renée Lacroix and Zahra Ash-Harper. It features 10-durable, stylish, eco-friendly pieces that do quintuple duty (wear each piece 5-different ways!). The entire collection fits into a carry-on for GreenPeeps on the Go, so that the fashion forward, eco-conscious, cosmopolitan sophisticate can travel with hundreds of outfit options in one carry-on bag.

I am excited to see what future fashion emerges victorious. The current ideas are numerous, innovative, interesting and very different from our disposable fashion culture. Who would have imagined that environmental consciousness in fashion would produce new aesthetics, new fabrics, new colors, new levels of durability, portability and add an ethical conversation factor…(wink, wink! that’s the point!)

Fashion and technology are courting, and may one day soon unite to form widely available and affordable Future Fashion: thrifty, stylish, accessible and low-impact.

The Right to Look is more our duty than a “right”


Book Cover: The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality by Nicholas Mirzoeff

“RSVP for the Book Launch for Nicholas Mirzoeff’s
The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm at 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor, New York, NY

Space is limited and reservations are required. To RSVP, please visit: http://bitly.com/nicholasmirzoeff.

Register to attend a reception celebrating the publication of The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (Duke University Press, 2011), by Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, NYU.
In The Right to LookNicholas Mirzoeff develops a comparative de-colonial framework for visual culture studies, the field that he helped to create and shape. Casting modernity as an ongoing contest between visuality and countervisuality, or “the right to look,” he explains how visuality sutures authority to power and renders the association natural. Encompassing the Caribbean plantation and the Haitian revolution, anticolonialism in the South Pacific, antifascism in Italy and Algeria, and the contemporary global counterinsurgency, The Right to Look is a work of astonishing geographic, temporal, and conceptual reach.”This event is free and open to the public.

**********

I studied with Nick during a semester “abroad” at NYU, yes, venturing beyond the 14th street divide counts as abroad for many New York City graduate students! (joke). That spring, I took a class in visual culture called “Modernity and Climate Change” in the Media Culture and Communication Studies Department. The class was simply amazing, with the range of discipline and perspectives represented. Our group conversations were candid, intense, exciting and enriching. Nicholas was a confident leader and didn’t overly direct the conversation or derail fruitful trains of thought.

I invited him to speak at the Ninth Annual Nature Ecology Society Colloquium where he delivered a talk “Islands of Justice: Imagining Climate Change. He made a big splash with they way he integrated images, and audience assumptions and cultural readings of climate change images and information, specifically that of islanders around the world whose lives are changing at the prospect of climactic shifts and sea-level changes.

He was a truly welcome addition to our roster, a major coup, I might add, and  he represented the start of a rich relationship between NES and NYU. I found him to be an engaging speaker, brilliant thinker, witty, real and personable!

I definitely recommend that people who grapple with visual studies and / or use digital media (as a theoretical foundation, for data collection, analysis or presentation) should attend. If you tell him I sent you, it’ll elicit a smile!

Let me know if you decide to go, I’d love to hear about it!

 Shawndel

Speaking Engagement: New Media and the Academy


On Friday December 2, 2011, I will be presenting at the City University of New York Information Technology Conference at  John Jay College, 899 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY 10019 from 9:30-11:00 am, Room TBD

One view of Dallas "Giving Face"!

I am very excited to travel to my hometown to connect with my colleagues and friends, after two months away in Dallas, Texas (city of rainbows!). Technically I will play part in two panel discussions by preparing comments and visuals, however I will only be able to *physically attend one because unfortunately, the sessions were scheduled concurrently. Both panels will discuss highly innovative, student-focused digital ventures at the Graduate Center, and I feel honored that my vision, work  and enthusiasm warranted the invitations to present and take part. And I have enjoyed preparing the slides and thinking about various approaches to the two projects.

I worked in the CUNY New Media Lab for two and a half years on digital project to supplement my doctoral research. I continue to put finishing touches on the project – such as filling in the digital archive or car ads, and upgrading the website template once the New Media Lab installs the newest version of WordPress. Over the years, I’ve cultivate a unique expertise which allows me to conceptualize digital and visual interventions for academic research, presentations and pedagogy. As a result, my role in the New Media Lab morphed to allow me to share my knowledge with incoming and fellow College Assistants within the lab. I have been fortunate that Managing Director Andrea Vasquez and Project Advisor Aaron Knoll respect and support my creative ventures and solid knowledge base in the practical digital humanities.

This panel is scheduled for December 2 at 9:30am – 11:00am at John Jay College 899 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY 10019, room TBD

Digital Technologies and Academic Research: The New Media Lab a Dozen Years Later
A roundtable of CUNY Graduate Center doctoral students, faculty members and administrators will reflect on the changes in digital technologies and the impact they have had on academic scholarship that has been developed and nurtured at the Lab. A series of short presentations, copiously illustrated, will explore such topics as building digital tools, the relationship between pedagogy and technology, the effect of new technologies on academic careers and what we envision for the Lab’s future.

Andrea Ades Vásquez, NML Managing Director, CUNY Graduate Center
Aaron Knoll, NML Student Advisor, CUNY Graduate Center
Shawndel Fraser, NML Doctoral Student Researcher, CUNY Graduate Center
Claire Fontaine, NML Digital Research Fellow /and Doctoral Student, CUNY Graduate Center
Wendy Luttrel, Professor of Urban Education and Social Personality Psychology, CUNY Graduate Center

The Second (concurrent) panel presentation offers a look at Student-led initiatives, specifically through the Doctoral Students Council (DSC). The Doctoral Students Council is a dynamic, highly participatory and forward thinking, policy-making body which represents all the graduate students at the CUNY Graduate Center. Three years ago, the DSC implemented the WordPress based system OpenCUNY, of which I was an early adopter for my research blog. Later I adapted it to publicize the highly regarded, annual Nature Ecology Society Colloquium, for which I was co-organizer. Back then, we were unable to get access to the original domain and host server assigned to us by CUNY. The lack of access stemmed from the lack of a methodical methods for passing on institutional knowledge, and the steep learning curve for html and other coding languages, which that particular website required. The WordPress-based OpenCUNY site was the first of many steps toward a more democratic group website and group functioning.

The panel will consist of student group representatives who will discuss the ways they use OpenCUNY. The purpose, all toward a deeper conversation about the strengths and growth opportunities inherent in student-led digital initiatives.

Fostering Student-based Media: A Look at The OpenCUNY.org Academic Medium
For three years OpenCUNY has worked with Graduate Center students to develop open-source environments for their courses, conferences, research, organizations, initiatives and activism. This roundtable brings together the coordinators and participants of OpenCUNY to explore the benefits and challenges of fostering student-based participatory media. An overview of OpenCUNY’s development, participatory governance, technological configuration and plans will be provided. A sample of participants’ media projects will also be discussed.

John D. Boy, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/gcsoc
Morgan Buck, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/hmny
Gregory Donovan, Coordinator, OpenCUNY
*Shawndel N. Fraser, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/nature
Margaret Galvan, Coordinator, OpenCUNY
Keirsten Greene, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/mediated
Keith Miyake, 2010-11 Board Member, OpenCUNY
Monique Whitaker, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/dschealth

*Since I won’t be able to present in this panel, fellow Nature Ecology Society Co-Organizers Bijan Kimiagar and Jennifer Pipitone will present our opencuny.org/nature website, innovations and challenges.

I hope to see you there! If you attend, do come by and say “hello”!

~Shawndel

Make your mark on the Earthquake


Click here to Make your mark and write a note and add pics to the map above.

Lets record this moment and connect with others who experienced something similar. Feel free to note your emergency plan in your marker as well. 

Where were you when the earthquake shook the east coast?

I was at work when the floor shook and the building swayed.  A co-worker asked “Do you feel that?” “what the shaking? It feels like we’re having an earthquake.” I replied.  Then I started searching the news outlets: Reuters, AP, NYT, I googled “New York Earthquake” during the tremors. No dice. No news…they were probably waiting for editor’s approval 🙂

However, a little twitter fu revealed many New Yorkers tweeting for corroboration of the the sickening sway. None of us seemed to really believe it. We evacuated to the basement and outside the building, then eventually informed that it was safe to return. Events seemed to unfold in normal time, however my emotions had spiked;  so and I decided that the best way to calm myself was to think of an emergency travel plan.  I did not have a mind to twitpic the evacuation or to capture sound, but I did keep my wits about me and remained calm throughout.

What would you do if the subway tunnels collapsed and buses were unavailable?

Do you live in an outer borough? Do you and your loved ones have a plan in case of major evacuation? A meet-up site in the event that you become separated? Ladies, do you have extra nibbles  in your heavy purse, in case of emergency hunger and thirst? Fellas, do you have a purse? 

Today reminded me of the necessity of a plan. 

No matter how far-fetched, unnerving or unnecessary the rational mind might wish it, our social and economical worlds are changing. It follows logic that the physical world could also shift under our feet.  As the saying goes, prior planning prevents poor performance, so “thank you” @Sal_Castaneda for the reminder about emergency preparedness. Thank you to my other twitter friends and contacts who posted helpful links, the main on being the government preparedness site Ready.gov.

Stay grounded.

The Dawn of a Digital Storytelling Career?


Contribute to the INDIEGOGO campaign

Yes, indeedy, I am translating my skills gleaned in the academy and at the CUNY New Media Lab and the Center for Digital Storytelling  into a marketable trade in the Performing Arts.  I am the New Media Consultant and director of all things technical  on the new indie musical “Talking to DeVon“. It is a multimedia musical with a digital trance-house soundtrack. The scene is set in the DMV, anywhere USA, where three strangers meet and learn that their paths had been leading up to that one moment of interaction. It is a funny, complex and emotional play that really speaks to my ideals of enhancing our quality of life by our receptivity to  genuine interactions with strangers.

Signature image for the Musical "Talking to Devon"

The idea behind the low-fi visuals is that the characters could be anyone, anywhere, you, me or your neighbor. In each moment, we can and do choose what energy we put into the universe. Talking to Devon explores the possibility of being your best possible self, in the company of strangers.

The play is grounded in Five Elemental Theory and includes dance, spoken word, an original soundtrack, video and sound installation and audience participation. We will open in Dallas, and our second venue will be in my beloved Brooklyn, NY! Tweet us for ongoing details!  My job as the Digital Storyteller is to work closely with the artist, Leisha LaShawn to conceptualize her ideas into something for the screen using relatively lo-tech video tools to convey organic ideals. The video will demonstrate the various emotions woven into the script, and will go with the songs to convey the meanings of Five Elemental Theory. Some of video will offer comic relief, or let the audience know when there is a transition in the story.

Overall, I think the play will be valuable for those of us who live fast-paced or hectic lives, who find it challenging to find or make time for mental and emotional rest.

We are raising funds on Indiegogo, so that we can pay for the first staging, set production, liability insurance, soundtrack mastering and all the other incidentals that bring great musicals to the stage.  I hope that you will find the story compelling enough to read more. If you enjoy the idea of spreading good energy among up-and-coming artists, then please do contribute to our IndieGoGo campaign. In addition to our gratitude, we offer fantastic material incentives in exchange for your heard-earned greenbacks 🙂

Be sure to tell me what you think about the video!

In creativity,

Shawndel

Creating my Research Website


I am in the midst of an exciting project. I am weaving together the long years of my PhD work until this point; my exploration of visuals, my readings, along with my budding knowledge of WordPress as a content management system / website / blog to assemble my multimedia research website. I’ve had a vision for 2 years now, and finally feel that I have enough [access to] information and resources to gather everything into a coherent, aesthetically pleasing whole.

I am of course still learning and creating knowledge about my subject, myths of nature within car ads in National Geographic Magazine, however, as an experiential and visual learner, this type of immersion refines my methods, and forces me to write my methods section of my paper.  This semester I am learning more about how to use Final Cut Pro, and it is prompting me to reassess my approach to the archive, my massive data set so that I can actually get at my core idea. The plan is to make short films about them, and massage a couple of publications from writing about what I learn from the process and the data.

think. Feel. Grow! is my mantra, my process and website. The site that I am working on is the storehouse for the public view of my research data, which is of course different from the content contained here and on my tumblr microblog. When the time is right, I will of course début it here on tfg!