Tag Archives: #mathesis

Solving Dilemmas and Creating More Questions

After last class, I have a clearer idea of how to proceed with my thesis. I was struggling to decide between being creative or conducting an academic study, but after talking it over with my group members, I realized I can combine both approaches by inserting the occasional creative vignette about life as a teacher among the findings from my more rigorous research. I still want the focus of the project to be based in more traditional research practices, but knowing that I have the option to use some of my creative writing skills makes it a lot easier for me to move forward without having to worry about totally abandoning the work I completed over the summer retreat. 

Since I do want my phenomenological research to be the focus, I need to get my interviews conducted as soon as possible so I can start writing up the results. I figure I can always nix the creative vignettes if I run out of time or motivation to write them, but the study won’t work if I don’t give myself the time to thoroughly interview other teachers and then carefully comb over the data they provide. So, my goal for this week is to compose a set of open-ended questions that ask educators to recall the experience of working during the pandemic and attempting to instruct students virtually, in a hybrid setting, and fully in-person. 

To do this, I’ll need to review some of the readings from Dr. Nelson’s research and methods course so I can refresh my memory on how to construct useful and unbiased research questions. I also should look up some studies similar to the one I plan to conduct that I can use as a model for crafting my own data-collection instrument. Our research workshop in the library introduced me to the citation management system EndNote, so I definitely want to explore this tool as a way to organize any valuable sources I discover.

By next class, I hope to have all of my questions drafted and be ready to review them with my group members. I’ll also then be able to determine whether the specific research I’m conducting will require IRB approval. It’s a little nerve-wracking to be taking these first few steps towards completing such an ambitious project, but I’m excited and hopeful that by this time next year, I’ll have a substantial thesis that I can be proud of.

At My Own Pace

I’m not sure where to begin.

My project is primarily the reasons people choose to create (with art or writing) as a way to cope with indescribable feelings. It’s a phenomenon that had always intrigued me because growing up I was told never to express my feelings in-person. I’d often keep to myself or bring little attention to my being so that I can process my emotions in solitude. I doubt that’s a healthy coping mechanic, but it has helped me get this far and I will always have my creations to console me rather than expressing with my voice.

That being said, my drive to create this project and understand what I am feeling has been accelerated. I’ve lost many, and I mean many people in my life in the past year. That kind of feeling weighs heavy on the soul, and it had made me more stressed than ever with the fact that I haven’t created anything in that time frame.

Right now I might be at the crux of losing someone very dear to me, and while I won’t show it with facial expressions I’m feeling that I’m losing control of whatever I have in my life left. I’m not sure what to do with these emotions, and it hurts knowing I can’t do anything but let whatever happens take its course. What I can do is continue working as I always have, using every ounce of positivity and negativity in my work flow.

My thesis once again is about the reasons why people go to creation to heal. My original draft felt like it was lacking a certain thing to it which I realized was my own personal input. I didn’t consider that until I shifted gears to an electronic literature piece and trying to process what I’m feeling. This project won’t be about me at all or this specific moment, but I want to channel this mix of emotions into something that can be understood by many.

For starters, I want to create a sort of pseudo-sequel to the piece I made last time. A narrative of an unknown person wandering in the darkness of the night. I might want to do something like this, but with a more clearer narrative in mind. I’m thinking of characters, settings, conflict and interpretations. In fact, I have at least 2 – 3 short stories that I drafted a while back that I may bring to life with this. They all deal with universal concepts of life, death, emotions, connections and loss, and I feel I need to cement one of those stories now more than ever.

I need to consider if I want to create a streamlined experience or create a series of choices that a participant might want to partake in. The problem with any of these solutions is that I want to dissect the very concept of emotions at it’s core, considering them more than just societal norms. Inherently, are these ideas more than just the words we assign to them? What makes one happy makes another sad, why is that and why do we only accept one definition of this? I want to create something that asks people to reevaluate ‘dictionary’ terms and realize that words make up more than one definition.

Words by themselves aren’t enough. I need to create a series of assets that will make this world of mine come to life. Luckily I have many images from past exhibitions or bouts of wandering that I have stored away, each bringing them thoughts about place and the idea of belonging. I’d like to take time and work on these, perfecting or distorting them to what seems best and have these act as the background through this narrative I’m crafting. I’ll be sure to post a few images soon in a Drive or sort to help people understand what I’m talking about.

The biggest idea I need to think about is abstraction. My research tackles abstract ideas and universal/personal interpretations so I need to consider how much I want to explore beyond, look at what other people say and what I feel.

I need to be careful in not making my interpretations the ones people need to follow. For this to work, a discussion needs to be made by participants so that a conversation about the meaning of making comes to light. I can’t be the definition, I need to be the messenger.

So for the time being, I’ll take a step back and work on creating these assets so that the narrative can come through naturally. It will be a lot of experimentation but that isn’t something new to me. I also would like to get a head start on my literature review, but I already have a few selections made and an idea on where I’d like to go next. I’m essentially sailing into uncharted waters while keeping binoculars on people passing by.

I’m not sure what the future holds for me at this point. I feel like a mannequin struggling to pick up the last of its strings, desperate for any sort of weight or deliberate meaning between each step. But no one else is going to pick myself up and do this project but me. So for now, I’m donning my brave face and working towards my destination.

Checkpoint

The time I’ve spent on this Writing Program had been filled with many upsides and downsides, each challenging me and making me reevaluate what it truly means for me to want to be a creator. I’ll be honest in saying that there have been many moments where I considered dropping from the program all at once, either because of the strain of balancing my life’s workload or my sense of insignificance to the grand scheme of things coaxed me into believing I offer nothing. Yet it is in these moments where I had to look within and understand more of what I stand for. I’m constantly surprising myself with this. I had never realized there was much that I dislike about myself, but yet there are aspects that I want to see flourish.

This brings me to my project as of now. I spent quite a bit of time juggling between ideas and concepts that I felt might satisfy the course requirements. Many hours were spent on researching, reading on what others have done before me, and understanding the weight of the assignment as a whole.

As a brief recap, my focus is on the marriage of meaning-making between creators, focusing primarily on writing and visual arts to aid my thesis. My original intention was to create a series of interviews for veterans of these crafts so that I can find an underlying connection between each story and intention and find that unknown component of creation. The further I got into this, the less I wanted to pursue this.

I heard many stories. Many painful recaps of memories that I saw tore up the insides of these people as they shared with me. The vulnerability they were willing to share with me was nothing short of touching, and for that I feel I cannot consider this option as I’d like to. While I haven’t had to face what these brave souls have, I myself lost many things in this past year. Frankly, it’s part of the reason I kept myself so distant from the rest of the community, I didn’t want to draw attention to me. I know what it’s like to be so emotionally weak and trying to recover from that, and while the intention of sharing these stories to help aid others in understanding the benefits of creation, I feel I can approach this in a different manner.

The other main reason stems from my background as an artist. It has been engrained into me that I must show rather than tell, to let the work speak for itself. While I have no issue creating an essay of sorts to fit the criteria of the program, it didn’t feel like I had a personal hand into it, and explaining the phenomenon was lacking as an idea. I can talk about it yet, but without a good way of executing the idea it felt a little hollow of me to consider this option.

For these reasons, I had to reevaluate my options. One thing I came to that I might pursue is a visual novel of sorts, a strong part of me yearns to create something like I’ve done in digital artmaking. That semester opened my eyes to a new medium that I really want to break into so I think I’d like to jump into this concept. I have many experiences in creation and programming, so the ‘hardest’ parts will cost me no time.

There in lies the issues I’m tackling moving forward – writing a narrative to fit my main thesis and find a way to make the execution make sense to everyone while getting out the heart of my pursuit. I’ve studied and played many visual novels and digital stories since the summer started, so I have a small idea on what I’d like to do.

I can even use the opportunity to create assets myself and inject more of my personal work and words into this without sacrificing the main concept of my thesis. Part of me feels a bit selfish going with this idea as I feel like I’ve abandoned what made my thesis important, but I had to convince myself it is not in vain. I wanted to share with others the struggles of the human mind and how creation can heal those in need, regardless of medium. Using this method makes the concept feel more universal rather than exclusive, so I’m hoping this project comes out as something for everyone.

First things first, a narrative. I have several ideas on how to go about doing this, but I want to avoid the obvious iconography and rather focus on the abstractions of creation and mental health. While I will research to get a grounded concept of what to look for (which I have), I feel finding a new way to share this while retaining the core idea will make my piece stand more on its own legs.

Here’s hoping I can make something decent by the end of the semester. I’ll definitely have a rough draft as time marches forward and I hope this is the appropriate way to make my idea heard.

-Hugo