Wednesday, February 13, 2013

More Authentic Identity with Digital Media Production

   The first major assignment in our course (Good Stories: Teaching Narratives for Peace & Justice) involves making a digital media production on our individual identity.  For a previous semester, I’d made a sample using iMovie on iPad: 1 Minute Intro.”  While I was initially ok with that production, upon repeated viewing I felt that it was too glitzy with flippant music.  It did express something of my identity but only at a rather superficial level.  The family, pets, and work are all fine to include, but I'd like our digital media productions to push for more significance and open questions of destiny, like the stories do when they ask questions such as: Who are you? Where are you going? What are you doing here? 

   A concern often expressed related to composing with technology is about how easy it is for the “bells and whistles” to dominate.  Production programs feature dramatic transitions, cutesy animations, and shopping mall muzak.  These allow us to grin our way right past engagement in more substantive matters.

   So I continue re-making samples of the first assignment, for example: Identity DMP1 Sp2013 .  I try different production programs. My intention is also to elaborate the process by which I’m attempting to move more deeply into the exploration, articulation, and discovery of identity.  I also want to make explicit why I insist on students “owning” all parts of their production.  All visuals, audio, and voice-over text must be credited to the producer.  All items are to be self-made; in other words, Google images are basically off-limits, whether copyright-free or not.  A few exceptions: By special permission, re-mixing can be allowed, and collaboration with others in the class is encouraged.

   I feel strongly that in DMP1 it’s most important that we “own” the visuals that appear on the screen.  Even when appealing images can be googled and copied more or less legally, any inauthentic representations risk loss of personal voice; constructing DMP1 with images that are not conceived by the producer threatens the very purpose of our course.   The reason for Good Stories is to track our unique identities so that our particular missions in life can be connected to the making of peace and justice. 

   A first step in moving closer to deep identity and purpose-for-being-here-now involves the detection of archetypal resonance from traditional stories that are told in oral culture.  Engaging a text for resonance with archetypes may have been easy enough and standard practice when the telling of traditional tales happened frequently.  Back in the day, storytelling stabilized culture and advanced pro-social norms; but in today’s world, that kind of storytelling hardly exists.   If we are to take advantage of story’s gift (including the awesome opportunity with digital media production) to advance individual development and the quality of social life, we must devote disciplined time to play with story.  We’ll have to play story the way serious athletes play their games. 

   It takes dedicated practice, training of mind and body, and strategic coaching.  Some persons may be able to produce quality digital media based on print-centric models (e.g., writing a script first, downloading copyright-free Google images, and constructing the beginning-middle-end formula in an available program like iMovie or MovieMaker), but our opportunity is to do much more.  For example, David Boje’s Quantum Storytelling challenges us into space-time-mattering that is not limited to B-M-E structures; and I insist on representational images that are more organic than anything googled.  This requires the digital-media producer to draw and photograph and compose into and out of his/her/our imaginations in order to explore the edge of consciousness where peace and justice find better expression.
   To launch our digital media production we engage traditional stories in order to detect the places where they provide resonance with the archetypal images and then we translate them into “local” and “individual” levels.  Before composing our first DMPs, we collect a set of images that represent the points of resonance.  That’s step 1:

Step 1.  Collect authentic and resonant images across an appropriate archetypal range.  I’d selected stories to tell that evoked connection with at least 10 “frames:”
1. A positive image representing oneself.  For example, the stories had a number of courageous and helpful characters.
2. An image associated with the self that represents a stranger.  One story in particular had a series of visitors who were not welcomed into the community but subsequently displayed invaluable assets.
3. A community of positive association and current membership.
4. A community of aspiration.  For example, an organization connected with a desired career.
5. A troubling figure. Stories have challenges to the quest and persons who present obstacles.
6. A representative of the mature masculine, like a guide or source of order/ordering.
7. A representative of the emergent feminine.  This could be a new source of comfort or support.
8. An image to go with the most important story heard.
9. A landscape or seascape or skyscape that connects with a sense of destiny.
10. An image of a particular obstacle or monster or villain.

Here’s my initial set of images:

   But this listing of images just offers the playing field; it’s not a recipe or formula.  In order to move into the discovery of significant identity, we’ll have to play with the images and allow a dialog with the emergent audio.  The “script” for our voice-over in the production needs to develop as a type of conversation.  Again, we approach the collection of images with a readiness to detect resonance.  Which ones draw our eye and call for words, maybe ask questions, or point to something missing.  Simply see which one gets us started and write some text along the way.

   When I approached my collection of images, I wanted to revise the set.  Several different images wanted to come in and then I began to sense a sequencing of them.  This revision yielded the following set of images. 

   This is how the revision happened and how a script began to form:

I’m thinking about starting with the mailbox as a opening title slide.  Then, I’m drawn to the Arthur & Ragnell slide (#2 above) and might start with: “A favorite story of mine reminds me of King Arthur at the crossroads.  The witchy figure there tells him that she knows the secret he’s searching for.  I’d like some voice in me to tell me the secret of moving closer to my destiny. . . “

Now I’m feeling that another image is needed and I’m considering times I’ve felt connected with destiny.  I see the Buck slide but also think about the Reins of Power experience, also the Good Stories class.  My text might continue along those lines: “I’ve known the exhilaration, the touch of ecstasy [#3 riding horse in collection] that signals close contact with Destiny, the sense of being exactly where I’m supposed to be.  It’s also in teaching Good Stories [#4]  where my work is especially fulfilling, “right.”  Work and play have been inseparable in the Reins of Power events  [#5] I’ve organized and I wonder if that could be more of my destiny.  Is there a way to get on that Firebird?” [#6]

So I brought in several of my images.  See ones now numbered 2-6 and I might change #3 to another one of me on Leg’cy or I might want to add some that better show the topic, like I might make a firebird image to replace the Baba Yaga.  Hmm—I might just add the butterfly slide [#7] that doesn’t exactly show a firebird but it’s a nice association and it brings in the soul association.

What’s next?   I know I want to get to the James River slide [#8] and probably end with the Journey slide [14], maybe the Home slide.  But I want to consider the obstacles that might need to be dealt with.  Wishing is one thing but the way to the wish (destiny) includes the development that comes through dealing with what looks like obstacles.  So what about the Cammy slide [#12], the biting fly [#13] and maybe something from the Golden Water story (desserts, the knife, the voices that stop me from climbing the mountain).  Is there a “cotton” I need to put in my ears, or a horn I need to blow like Ivan did?
The script flows from these thoughts and dialog with images:
“I have an idea of where this all might go [image of James River] where the Reins of Power (show Google Doc link or put in credits) program could connect Corrections with Horses, where horses who are in recovery from the racetrack or who have been abandoned connect with persons who are in recovery, have been abandoned by the world and maybe the focus could be on helping persons who work with inmates or addicts so that they can know the feel of managing power in a subtle way.  That’s what Buck talks about when he names the “feel” that goes with good riding.  I know because I’ve felt it and I’ve not felt it too   (Cammy image).  Cammy taught me that I had to put myself in front of her and trust that she wouldn’t run over me when I felt our connection even when my mind was confused I could feel the connection and I have to trust that and go on into and through the fear.  Not jumping off the temple to dare God but to develop that feel and trust it.  So that seems to be next and then . . . (image of Journey).”

Step 3. Make the voice-over and when talking (more than reading the script) allow it to revise in a conversational manner.  This is when I put the voice-over in the production program. If it needs a visual connected with the audio in order to show all of the audio, I can stretch out an image like my landscape slide long enough for the audio and I’ll later fill in the images that match up with the audio and get the landscape to the right size.

Step 4. Now that I’ve drafted a script and recorded a version of it, I have the opportunity to listen and attend for points of resonance.  This process of checking for the resonance keeps the production alive. 
Composing to learn is still going on; later it can become outward directed and revision happens for a specified external audience (as desired).  When I let myself respond to the draft, I’m finding that my resonance is with the “secret.”  I find or make the added images to elaborate that part of the production.  

Here’s the revised script:
A favorite story of mine reminds me of King Arthur at the crossroads.  The witchy figure there tells him that she knows the secret he’s searching for.  I’d like some voice inside me to tell me the secret of moving closer to my destiny. . . “

How would I recognize that voice?  It must be one that connects with what’s true, with that exciting edge of new life, that sense of being all you can be.  So I’ve experienced the exhilarating  touch of ecstasy!  The way it feels when Leg’cy with her thousand pounds of power moves into the next step just as I imagine it.  Altho not as dramatic, I feel something like that when teaching Good Stories [#4]  because my work there seems exactly “right”—just what my career has prepared me to do.  Sometimes it’s so much fun it must not be work.  That intermingling of work and play also happens most especially in my Reins of Power event.

      I wonder if that carries the voice of destiny—the wings of the Firebird?

I’m getting an idea of where this might be going.   Reins of Power  could connect persons working in Corrections with Horses, with horses who are in recovery from the racetrack or who have been abandoned.
Imagine connecting recovery horses  with persons who are in recovery, persons who have been abandoned by society and have been institutionalized or imprisoned.

The focus of Reins could be on helping persons who work with inmates or addicts so that the staff can know the feel of managing power in a good way, a subtle way like I do with Leg’cy.  That’s what Buck talks about when he names the “feel” that goes with good riding. 

I know because I’ve felt it and I’ve not felt it too   In one Reins exercise, Cammy taught me the “meaning of fear.”  I was afraid of taking the risk of getting right in front of that huge horse and convincing her to back up over the rails when she was afraid to go where she couldn’t see.  It was about mutual trust.
And about knowing when our relationship was solid enough for us to go there.  I had to turn down my mind and listen to the heart that feels relationship.  I didn’t know it was so hard. And I wouldn’t have learned it without Reins. It’s not something to take lightly.
  It’s not right to jump off the temple and dare God to catch me.  Maybe I’ve still got to know that special feeling a bit better and then . . . . (image of Journey).”

Step 5.  More editing.  When I couldn’t come up with the images to match with the last few sentences of my script and voice-over, I just decided to cut those sentences and add some music.  It doesn’t feel complete but neither am I.