Geocaching: Chasing Boxes

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Tumblr 15, Pics or it didn’t happen.

I have never used photoshop, but I have looked at hundreds of photoshopped images. Probably way more than that without even knowing it. Like the quote in my last post says, “absolutely 100 percent of what’s in fashion magazines is retouched”( I think this is the norm. Sometimes it is so obvious that it’s hard not to laugh, but sometimes it just looks perfect. I think it is definitely more dangerous for this practice in scientific photos and representations than it is in fashion magazines, but even retouched photos in magazines can have a harmful effect on the viewer if they are not aware of the practice. I was most amazed at the photographs from history that I have seen all my life that were distorted or composed or changed in some way. The fact that it is not Lincoln’s body in that iconic photo is shocking. But there are other photos that are just hilarious. My sister and I were just talking the other day about the Rosanne advertisement where Jackie’s hand is weirdly placed, and the floating dish. 

The crazy thing is that these incidents happen all the time. Are they unethical? Are they standard practice? Can we always believe what we see? My brother always says, “Pics or it didn’t happen”. But sometimes there can be seemingly proof-positive pictures and it still isn’t the truth. 

Says the anonymous retoucher, there are a few things every woman (and every man, for that matter–we know that men and women both get down on their own bodies) should know about the images in magazines and on billboards. The first and foremost: Everything. Is. Retouched.

“…Absolutely 100 percent of what’s in fashion magazines is retouched,” the photo retoucher told Buzzfeed, adding that a disclaimer stating that an image had been edited would be “ridiculous,” because every single ad would have that disclaimer on it.”

Read more:

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  • One thing you’d find useful in Thursday’s peer review - a topic or question for your peer reviewer to address, or a format you’d like to try (partners, small groups, anonymous, etc.)
  • Your assessment of the graphic novels in the course. Which was your favorite, and why? Which was your least favorite, and why? Are there any you know of that you wish we had read?

On Thursday I would find it useful to have feedback and ideas from more than just one partner. I like looking at multiple projects because it helps me  with my own. I also find it helpful to have a form of some sort to assess the projects as well because I find that I can’t take in all the verbal information and remember it and process it right away, it’s nice to be able to take something with me to refer to when I’m revising. 

My favorite graphic novel in te course was Guy Delisle’s Burma Chronicles. I found it amusing and informative. IT was interesting that we could pick out all sorts of different types of panels from that one book. It was my favorite because of the subject matter but also because of the layout. Delisle was also my favorite author out of the three we read. The book was easy to read and understand, and it was fun.

My least favorite was Palestine. I found it way too chaotic and the odd angles and words falling into the gutters made me uneasy and the result was that I disliked the book very much. I could never really get interested in it, I felt like it was a chore to read without much payoff for the reader. 

I have mentioned it before but I really wish that Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud was a required text. I used McCloud in a research paper last semester and I thought it was very interesting. I think it would have been a fantastic text for this class. I liked that we got to read excerpts from it on GG, but I would like to own that book (and I may yet.) I referred back to it often in these tumblr posts as well as in class.  

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I am actually reading Palestine a lot differently since seeing Joe Sacco’s face and hearing him talk on the video in class on Tuesday. I’m not sure why seeing him as a real person makes me have more respect for him. I’m still not a fan of the style of this book, the logos, or the chaos. But the additional information made me appreciate it a bit more. I realized while reading that on some pages there are no borders at all on the panels or pages, something I had not noticed before. One panel is positioned right against the next, words and images go clear to the very edge of the page threatening to fall off. This could be another reason that the book makes me uneasy. (Of course, it could be the subject matter as well.) There is no break and very little border. Then the strange and sudden change when, on pages 102 to 112 the borders are distinct, the pages outside of the panels are black. There is an abundance of right angles. The panels start out large and grow increasingly numerous while they shrink in size, maintaining their black border throughout. It was an odd juxtaposition in style. It was kind of a welcome change, but chapter five brought us back into the world of crazy angled panels and chaos again.

Cartooning is amplification through simplification according to Scott McCloud. The quote that seems to have a lot of popularity is, “When we abstract an image through cartooning, we’re not so much eliminating details as we are focusing on specific details. By stripping down an image to its essential meaning an artist can amplify that meaning in a way that realistic art can’t” (McCloud). (I used that quote in a paper I wrote last year about Persepolis. Researching Persepolis introduced me to McCloud.) It makes sense then that the more abstract an facial image is the more it can be related to many people. I really like the Scott McCloud readings we have been doing and wish it had been a required text for the course. I would rather own and keep Understanding Comics than Palestine. I am not enjoying Palestine by Joe Sacco. I find it exhausting and tedious. This could be in part because I cannot relate to the author or the ethos he is presenting, I do not find him interesting. There are interesting things going on, but I do not like the way they are laid out either. The logos of the book, the structure, words and pictures are chaotic and that makes it even more exhausting. So much of the text falls in the gutter of my copy of the book and I find myself having to peel back the pages to see the words I missed. The panels are at odd angles and the text reads like a cobblestone road. Even the typeface is chaotic, it varies in size and thickness of the letters and I do not find it easy to read, even in the text heavy segments of the book. This is the first of our graphic novels that I have no interest in continuing, but of course I will. 

A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld

Those last hundred pages went by so fast. The whole book did. These are real people and this happened to them. There were times when I wished I had more information, more depth. But I found the book, the experiences, and the situation remarkable. I watched a couple videos of Josh Neufeld after I was finished. It was interesting to hear him talk about the creative process. The colors he used in the Superdome scenes when Denise had to use the bathroom, and so many other atrocities were happening, was right on the money. The sickly colors conveyed the disgusting environment they were forced to live with. I can’t imagine the frustration and hopelessness these people faced. Neufeld did a good job of showing the situation as it was at the time. 

I particularly liked the Afterword where Josh Neufeld explained some of the “business” behind the book. He was a Red Cross volunteer and interested in non-fiction graphic novels. Becoming entrenched in these peoples lives made sense coming out in this format. He made contact with people and learned about their lives, but then after he decided to pursue this book he had to do the research, the fieldwork. I wonder how far the final product strayed from his original concept. I know in doing my own fieldwork I am finding that what I set out to do is not what I will be doing in the end. It is a natural progression, just like the woman who started out doing field research on bingo halls and ended up more interested in the smoking culture. But this is the nature of research in the field. The thing that interests a writer to research something in the first place will be colored by the reality of the research. Things present themselves, stories want to be told. And we, as writers, would be fools to ignore them.

Tumblr 11 Animal Instinct

New Orleans After the Deluge is going by fast. The intensity right from the beginning was surprising. But I bet that is how the storm was as well. I found myself really feeling a lot of the emotional responses from the characters in the book. I really liked how the color-coded characters were described at the beginning, It helped me a lot in my reading of the first 90 pages. I appreciate how the author also chose to focus a lot of time and attention on the animals that were being affected as well. There are multiple panels where animals are depicted. Leo and Michelle are concerned with taking food for their dogs when they decide to leave. Denise is at home with her cat who becomes injured after she left the place her mother found for them in the hospital. And even there, there are rooms full of animal carriers. I remember this being a huge part of the rescue effort as well. Many people talked about dog and cat rescue after Katrina. I worked with a guy who went down to N.O. just to rescue dogs, and I had another friend who sent only animal supplies to the victims of Katrina. Neufeld also mande mention that the animals were behaving strangely as if they knew something was coming. 

On a completely unrelated note, nothing to do with animals, I want to figure out why Kwame was instructed to fill up the bathtub before they left. I wonder what this does or how it would help? I’ll have to look it up. 

Interviews. Not job interviews (which are also on my mind at this stage in my college career) but personal interviews, you know, to get information and stuff so I can write about it. Here are some things I learned…

Interviews are negotiated text. 

Interviews are a way to gather information.

The results are hopefully accurate, true representations of the respondents lives/selves. 

You cannot ignore the societal, contextual and interpersonal elements. Each interview is interaction and relation. Survey reachers are “social relation hucksters”(From Structured questions to Negotiated Text, Fontana/Frey).

I never really thought about the history and science behind it. But it’s there.

Structured interviews:

  • Nothing left to chance
  • Rational response
  • Overlooks emotional dimensions
  • no good for my purposes

Group interviews:

  • Exploratory
  • Structured or non-structured
  • Must keep one member from dominating the group
  • Record entire group response

Unstructured interviews:

  • Interviewers feelings may influence
  • Establish human to human relations

Oral History:

  • Based on memory
  • Not often published

Creative Interviews:

  • Forget the “How-to” rules
  • Adapt

Postmodern interviews:

  • Minimize interviewer influence
  • Problems with interview discussed in interview
  • Interactional moments

Gendered interviews:

  • Sex of the interviewer and responder do make a difference

New trends:

  • Negotiated text
  • Strings attached

What do I do now that I know everything about interviews?

  1. Access the setting - Get in!
  2. Understand the language - Crack the code!
  3. Decide how to present yourself - Who are you?
  4. Locate an informant - Insider help with jargon.
  5. Gain trust - One wrong move can destroy it.
  6. Establish rapport - See their view, don’t lose distance. 

And don’t forget to:

  • Take notes regularly and promptly (Don’t get distracted)
  • Write everything down (no matter how unimportant it may seem) 
  • Try to be inconspicuous in note-taking (That is hard!)
  • Analyze notes frequently (What the heck is that?)

(Also remember Ethical Considerations. These are real people, human beings. Consider your degree of involvement, and your objective. Practice responsibility and use Common Sense!)

Tumblr #9 Art Spiegelman’s MAUS

Knowing the things I do now about Graphic Novels is helping me look at Maus with open eyes. This is my third graphic novel, ever. 

One of the things I appreciate in Art Spiegelman’s Survivor’s tale is the “human” aspect. Even though the characters are depicted as mice, there is definitely a human quality about them. 

On page 26, Artie’s father asks him not to write about his former girlfriend, Lucia. Artie responds, “But Pop- it’s great material. It makes everything more real - More Human”. This passage struck me as odd because it was drawings of mice talking about being more human. But I think the artist did this intentionally to draw people in to the experience while maintaining a separation from too much reality. This story might not be as accessible if the characters were drawn as human beings. 

But the mention of being human is peppered throughout the story. On page 54, Vladek volunteers for an assignment against the advice of his friends saying, “I’m not going to die here and I won’t die here. I want to be treated like a Human Being”. 

Something I noticed from the visual aspects of the story is that even though the characters are drawn as mice, they all have human hands. This was most noticeable when Vladek had a dream about his grandfather. On page 57, the hand that touches him in his sleep is very realistic, very human.