Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Final Report from the Hypercity

After-School Atelier
Fall 2005 (High School Program)
Vlogging the Hypercity: Utopian Practices in Multimedia

Teaching Artist: Antonio Lopez
The design of this program was initially over ambitious. The goal was to apply a scaffold approach to understanding media as a form and also as a utopian project in Western culture. The plan each week was to build on skills developed through hands-on projects that mirrored the trajectory of communications technology, moving from oral to print to electronic media. The final project was to create a video Web log (vlog) reporting from a utopian future that other students could reflect and comment upon on in a Web site. Doing so required a consistent core group and committed community of youth interested in the subject.

A few hurdles were encountered along the way. With high school students it's difficult to maintain consistent after school attendance in the fall. With the stress of the new school year and other obligations, maintaining a weekly group large enough to do group projects was untenable. So we restructured, working with one core student on a weekly basis, and then brought in several different student groups for two-day workshops that consolidated the semester-long agenda.

In the case of the single project, the student (Jorge) first gathered images that to him represented utopia, and then worked out mapping a future island that would be his ideal world. We then had him explain his design on video, using chroma key for the background to combine his images. The student also composed music for the video. In addition, using images of utopia culled from the Internet by other student groups, the student will do a live streaming video mix in which other youth can enter imaginary utopian spaces through the magic of compositing. Youth will perform live in front of a green screen background, which is then fed and processed through a VJ (video-jockey) program and superimposed upon utopian images. The live video stream will then be projected on the wall.

Additional student groups who came in for two-day mini-workshops followed the similar format: Intro and discussion of what is utopia and a viewing of utopian images through history; culling their visual concept of utopia from the Internet and magazines; writing short biographical and visionary pieces on the "perfect world"; videotaping each other discussing their ideas against a green screen; and setting up blogs to post their ideas, art and writing concerning utopia. The final video being screened is a composite of the interviews with their selected images of utopia.—Antonio Lopez

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