^

So update, assuming that anyone reading this followed a link over from the other blog with the Parsons Challenge post.

It’s my last semester at Parsons. I won’t say last semester ever, because those sorts of things never turn out to be the last. I may go back and finish my MSed or get an MFA at some point. There are no immediate plans, but who knows?

I’ve got three months to finish my thesis short, also taking a couple of other classes geared towards kids-based things. In addition to thesis, I think my other main concern is sorting through all the work I’ve done in the past few years and putting together a portfolio and/or reel. This is where being in the Design and Technology department is really a double-edged sword. Because the curriculum is very flexible and allows you to focus on whatever you want, I feel like I’ve ended up with a fair amount of practical knowledge gained from a wide range of disciplines. I can animate in several different formats, I can draw and paint, I can sew a garment, I can wire up simple machines, I can code, I can do lots of weird and sundry arty things.

I do not, however, feel like I have a very cohesive body of work because of it. I’m not sure how much it will matter when I start job hunting very soon. Maybe it will limit me in some areas, maybe it won’t. I think the important lesson I’ve gotten out of it is to be comfortable and excited to be continuously learning and trying new things. We’ll see how it goes.

If I’ve learned anything about myself in these last few years, it’s that I suck at blogging.

Anyhoo, I got a notification that my other blog with the Parsons application material is getting a lot of hits lately (oh that application due date) so I thought I give a quick update.

Still at Parsons, still chugging along. I’m working on my thesis project right now, which will be a short animated film. Also taking a toy design class and making some fun stuff, and a sound design class to supplement animation things. ALSO taking some required theory-based lecture-y/seminar-y stuff which is fine, but which I resent because I’d rather be working on my animation and making toys.

So yeah. Keepin’ on and all. Anyone who finds their way here from Google searching Parsons applications can feel free to comment either here or the other blog with questions.

Happy New Year, Internet.

I’m on break until the end of the month, and on top of taking an online art history class through FIT (O thou sweet, sweet $800 3-credit class) I’m making an effort to not while away my entire break looking at cat pictures online like every other break.

So in December, I missed the opportunity to buy a pair of these high heeled red oxfords by Miz Mooz for about a third of their regular price via one of those members-only online sample sale sites. In the end, it was probably for the best, because I really have no business trying to schlep around New York in heels on the best of days, much less during the winter.

mizmooz

But they sparked a consuming desire in me for red oxfords, dirty hipster that I am becoming. By lucky happenstance Fab.com had a similar enough pair available soon after that had a much more wearable low platform and a much more inviting price (around $35).

frederics

They finally came today, and, well, color me intensely disappointed. I don’t know what sort of voodoo they pulled to make that photograph look appealing, but the shoes in real life are these sad, dull things that look like a clown kissed them goodbye as they headed out the warehouse. For one, where the hell is the shine? For another, the lighter red in the photo looks like an interesting texture that has some variation and gradient. In reality, it’s just a garish bright splotch that makes it look like I stepped in a puddle of paint.

 

photo 1b

 

 

Normally, I would return it right away, but Fab.com, by nature of its business model, has an occasionally annoying inability or unwillingness to grant refunds, and I just wasn’t in the mood for store credit today.

So instead, I grabbed a nearly-full bottle of dark red nail polish that I’ve had for years and fixed the damn things myself. The solvents in the polish actually lifted some of the darker pigments and left little bright red splotches in random places, so each shoe needed at least two layers to even out the color and texture. I used a small fan brush, which applied everything fairly evenly, after making the mistake of doing the first pass with the actual nail polish brush– way too small and streaky.

photo 2

I left part of the upper bare partially because the contrast of matte and shine is interesting, but mostly because I didn’t want the polish to plug up any of the holes for the laces. I also trimmed the edge of the soles with blue nail polish just for kicks. The texture is still a little uneven, but lends to that whole faux-weathered thing that I liked in the first place. It remains to be seen how well the nail polish holds up to the material bending and flexing. The initial test run seemed ok, and it’s not like it would be difficult to touch up any cracks.

photo 3

 

So here’s to my shiny new shoes, and finally using up that bottle of nail polish. They might even be waterproof now. Hooray!

Santa and the Mayans bless winter break and the Spring 2013 semester.

Fall 2012 was tough. I don’t think I really worked harder or was challenged significantly more than before, but I did spend the past three months just constantly angry. Everything seemed down, and blah, unnecessarily bothersome. There was a lot of fist shaking and “THIS FUCKING SEMESTER” happening all around.  I can’t say much about academic difficulty, because I’m Old Kid, and my ability to do classwork is kind of irrelevant to your average college student. In general terms, it wasn’t really even the subject matter, because even though I’m not personally a fan of coding and web design, there are plenty of people who are who also had a tough time this semester.

I think the magic has worn off of art school. Anyone who’s been to college knows that freshman year goes by in a blur of social adrenaline, and reality slowly begins to seep in as time progresses past that. It gets tougher to keep up when the enthusiasm is more often than not subsumed with fatigue. There’s the pressure to not only match, but to surpass your peers in output– at least I would hope there is, sometimes I wonder though.

On the latter point, Design and Technology is a small department, so everyone in each incoming class knows each other or at least knows of each other. Design and Technology/Communication Design shares a first year program and splits afterward, but there’s still a fair amount of overlap. You start to notice things about other students: the consistently good ones, the consistently bad ones, and the ones that start to slip.

Parsons/The New School has a relatively high acceptance rate, but also a relatively low 4-year retention rate. The benefit is that someone with a just-okay portfolio but with a lot of potential has the opportunity to really develop. The downside is that the Parsons (and I’m coming to understand, American design education in general) focuses on a very open, conceptual sort of approach that leaves it to your own individual initiative to master technical skills. This means you don’t necessarily need to be fantastic at drawing/designing/whatever coming in, but if you skated through high school without developing the ability to work independently, problem solve on your own, and embrace the longterm value of a little suffering, you’re kind of fucked.

So this semester saw a few people in the department leave, and also a fair few more people’s quality of work and attendance noticeably slip. It’s pretty morbid, but you can’t help wondering who else isn’t going to be in class in the fall, or by the end of four years.

In less downer news, this has been the last semester that I will have to take classes that don’t interest me. From here on out, all the required classes are up my alley. And I’ve nitpicked my curriculum plan within an inch of its miserable life, so I’m super focused on what I’m doing for the next year and a half. And despite enjoying a 100 degree fever for four days during finals week, I still managed to maintain my GPA. And it’s Christmas. And then New Years. And break. And then Core Space (fuck yeah sculpture). So huzzah for 2013!

Ha, keeping track of what I’m doing. HAHA (laughcry).

No really. It’s finals. When was the last time I had a coherent thought that did not relate directly to wanting to punch a hole in the wall? Probably July.

D’oh well. C’est la vie de l’étudiant des arts. Here’s what’s going on:

  • Projects. You know that thing I mentioned maybe at some point about not being into this semester and just wanting it to be over. Well, in my quest for NotThisSemester, I’m facing the final boss: ALL THE SHIT I DON’T WANT TO DO. 
  • Winter classes. In order for me to graduate in 3 years, I need to either pack my next 3 semesters inhumanly tight, or take as many classes as I’m allowed during the winter and summer breaks. This January, I’m taking one at FIT. I may do FIT or Hunter College this summer because they’re public schools and with my state/city residency, the tuition is comically cheaper than The New School.
  • Gallery. There’s a gallery at Parsons available for all faculty and student to apply for. So a couple of friends and I did. It would be nice as an undergrad to put a show together, but there’s no knowing if we get any space until some untold time next semester, so out of sight out of mind.
  • Schedules. I’m really excited about next semester because I actually have all the classes I want, and even though they’re all required classes, they’re all on things I’m into. Wonders never cease.

…which brings me to an important point. If the world ends this December, I’m going to be pissed. I HAVE STUFF TO LOOK FORWARD TO, MAYANS. DO NOT RUIN THIS FOR ME. 

REMEMBER TO VOTE ON TUESDAY

November is, among other things, National Arbitrary Things To Do For A Month month. I guess it’s as good an excuse as any to take a cue from National Blog Writing Month and make an attempt to update, if not everyday, then at least a little more often. I’m thinking writing consistently will change the nature of the content because I’m not sporadically condensing weeks or months into a few paragraphs. Who knows. We’ll see.

First things first: Hurricane Sandy update. The New School, and the entire lower part of Manhattan, shut down for the remainder of the week. We’re getting back to class on Monday. It’s a little unclear what state things are going to be in– not physically since the school didn’t sustain any storm damage– but administratively and academically. Oh well. Life goes on.

If I can be selfish, the week off was nice to get a little too much sleep and recharge. It doesn’t make me like the classes I’m taking any more or less, but I needed the rest and just letting my mind wander has led to some potentially interesting project ideas down the line (Time for projects? Ha, aren’t I cute.)

It’s still unclear how reliable the subways are, so since I don’t have Monday classes, I’m probably going to take the train into Manhattan tomorrow for a test run, and finish up some work at school to get back into the swing of things.

Anyhoos, here’s part of my ever-lengthening list of things I’d like to do:

  • DIY/environmental turn-your-plastic-bags-into-backpacks project
    • If I develop a prototype, I may put in an entry next year to get some funding for this from Parsons as, like, a Real Thing
  • Motion and sound reactive clothing 
    • A continuation of the Fashionable Technology projects Parsons is exploring and based off ideas that never got off the ground during the short work time in China.
  • Animation reel
    • Nothing fancy. Walking/run cycles, bouncing balls, and finishing up old stuff. Just keeping up on basic animation principles for my own benefit.
  • Star Wars Gangnam Style
    • This would require me to roughly rotoscope the music video frame-by-frame. I know that by the time I get around to this, no one will give two shits about Gangnam Style, but I have a hunch about narrative structure and an idea about stylized images I want to try out.  I suspect in the process of matching animation to audio, I’m going to end up teaching myself Korean.
  • AutoCAD and 3D printing for a 3D zoetrope
    • I’ve been wanting to build a 3D zoetrope as my senior thesis since first semester. I’d like to 3D print it, and possibly hand-paint it.  I currently don’t know anything about the 3D printers I have access to, and if Maya doesn’t cut it, I’m going to have to learn AutoCAD or something similar on my own.
  • AfterEffects and my psuedo-short
    • Last year I made a bold, foolhardy attempt at making a motion-comic with hand drawn/painted artwork animated in AfterEffects. Well, AfterEffects is beastly to learn on the fly and while my project came out fine in terms of the assignment and the grade, I want to do it properly because BY GUM I like to do things properly.

If anything, this list reaffirms that Design and Technology is probably a good place for me to be. I go back and forth a lot about whether I would be better off in another department and just stuck in DT because I’ve committed thus far to the curriculum and can’t afford the time and money lost to switch. In the end I think it’s easier for me to branch out from DT to reinforce my traditional art skills and explore technical interests than it would be for me to pursue these things I’m interested in while in a relatively tech-unfriendly field like illustration.

This stuff seems scattered and unfocused, I realize, but in my mind, it all ties into some questions I’ve had for a long time about cultural identity, individuality, prescription vs description within social groups, and how narrative feeds into all of the above. So I guess my interest in all this, and going into what I hope will zero in on my thesis less than a year from now, is how social perception communicates its presence.

The New School is closed Monday and Tuesday (as of now) on account of Hurricane Sandy. Last year the university closed early in the semester for a day because of Hurricane Irene. People seemed pretty panicky last year because it’s the first time for most people to have to deal with a storm like this in the area (me included), but this year’s preparation was much calmer. Is this going to become an annual thing though? Because that would be thoroughly uncool.

Right now, which is a little past the heaviest weather around NYC, there seems to be significantly more flooding and power outages compared to last year. There has been some heavy damage, like that crane on 57th street and the building facade on 8th ave.

In terms of school, areas in Manhattan and Brooklyn where the school is located and huge number of students live has experienced flooding and outages. Apparently transformers are exploding here and there, and the big power station on 14th and 1st Ave had a big one which might directly effect a lot of New School students. This is not to mention the flooding in the subway system, which definitely traps me out here in Queens. There was a brief statement circling from the MTA that it could take over a week to fully repair the transit system, but that got removed right away obviously– either because it was just speculation and not an official estimate, or because they don’t want to cause an uproar.

So yeah. Hopefully everyone stays safe and dry. Also, hopefully The New School keeps commuting and power issues in consideration after the immediate storm has passed, and is a little accommodating for the rest of the week.

 

Today is the first day of the new semester. I tried to think up something meaningful or at least thoughtful to say, but I can’t. Instead, here’s this:

China was a bad hair month. Semi-permanent dye + air pollution + hard water + acid rain = the swampiest non-color under the auspices of heaven. No apologies for the quality of this photo. That hair color and that particular travel day deserve no better.

 

 

I learned my lesson about Manic Panic hair dye. When I got back, on the advice of a friend with far more experience with hair dye, I tried Special Effects. Much better.

 

 

It’s been about a month since then, and it’s faded to purple, which is unexpected, but far more welcome than Swamp by Manic Panic in partnership with China (bu yao).

It’ll be at least a year until my hair gets so long that I can’t stand it and cut it all off, so until then, there will be a big ol’ bleached section to continuously color. So here’s to a strangely technicolor school year. May it counteract the load of coding I have to do this fall.

 

 

It seems like every time a new school thing is just around the corner, I get weird dreams. They usually involve classmates and running around dimly-lit buildings trying to find classrooms or finish projects, with some teacher or administrator breathing down my neck. Let’s analyze these for deeper meaning– actually, let’s not. Dream analysis makes my eye twitch.

SPEAKING OF DREAM ANALYSIS, I’m reading a weird book right now. Once upon a time, over and over again, I was told that there were such things as archetypes and such-and-such formulas in which you could plug in these archetypes and no matter what happened, the story that came out the other end would be awesome.

So I had to wonder, why then, in all these AP and college classes I had taken on literature and story-telling that brought up archetypes and structure was there never more time spent actually understanding these things that allegedly would make anything I wrote instantly better? Yeah, kid, we’re not going to just hand it to ya. Go out there and take it for yourself. Just like in the heros’ journeys we’re not telling you about! WUAHAHAHAHA twirlymustache/capeflip. 

Off I go on my own adventure for clarification/knowledge/the magic elixir/the boon/what-have-you.

I’ve learned a few things. One, Joseph Campbell was insane. Two, George Lucas is a hack.  (Tangentially, thanks, Big Aunt, for the very handy Bei Da bookmarks.) I also figured out why no one ever encouraged me to learned about monomyth in high school. It was because the Bible fits in the monomyth argument, and since I went to one of those high schools where a scholarly approach to biblical text was tantamount to sacrificing a goat in the quad, yeah I guess I get it.

Joseph Campbell is crazy because he wrote in the 1940s, so I can’t fault him for that. Everyone seems to have been a little dinged in the head from the first half of the 2oth century. He puts a lot of stock into Freud and psychoanalysis, and as a person living in the 21st century who lost a lot of sleep in the past 8 years trying to understand cognition, I can’t. I cannot. I simply will not.

Dreams are to the personal as myths are to the universal? No.

But because I want to understand why they keep saying this stuff is so influential, I’m plugging on. I like stories, and I think it’s important that we’re always trying to make narratives out everything and nothing. This is why I’m reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces and Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey concurrently. Campbell has a lot of interesting stories to tell, and Vogler breaks down the theories in comprehensible and applicable ways, so they complement each other.

Maybe at the end of it, I’ll write a novel. The novel will be pretty good. It won’t be so great once you think about it for a while, but at the moment, it’ll feel pretty good. Hell, if those fangirl nutjobs can write Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, surely I, a person who knows several synonyms for “chagrine” as well as the definition of “synonym,” can write something better. I would go so far as to argue that this blog post is still a better love story than Twilight.

Speaking of hacks, I know I brought up George Lucas. I’m sorry. Fellow Star Wars fans will probably know why I think he’s a hack.  Non-fans won’t care because I’ve already superseded my nerd quota today (reading two nonfiction books at the same time in the summer for fun? without being assigned them? WAT). I already got myself worked up and kept my boyfriend up late last night ranting about how the costume design in the Prequels undermines the screenwriting. I’ll stop.

So uh. School’s starting next week. Yay? Yay!

I’m back from China, still jetlagged and still trying to get my head around the entirety of the 2011-2012 academic year. Until I gather the wherewithal to write about anything in more detail, here’s something purty that I had a hand in designing and making in Beijing:

photos copyright Yoav Menachem 2012

This dress is part of a mini-collection made for the Fashionable Technology project at Tsinghua University in collaboration with Parsons. My group was made up of a combination of Parsons and Tsinghua design students who made three garments conceptualizing a broader plan for solar-powered fashion. This dress features prototype custom solar panels (*ahem* pieces of plastic *ahem*). Another two garments have working solar panels and heat-sensitive patterns.

I did the tech stuff– hunting down parts, building circuits, etc — and I designed and handcut the Ancient Egyptian-inspired winged shoulder pieces based on concepts from the dress’s designer.

It was a helluva thing to develop a concept, construct three garments, and incorporate electrical components into them all in one week. I was fortunate that my group worked really well together and we had a lot of support from the faculty and graduate research assistants.

Our collection, and the pieces made by other groups, will be displayed at Tsinghua in the fall, and will also make it to Parsons at some point maybe in the coming year.