It’s our third day, and we’re realizing how amazingly well the project is going – everyone is working together, all the ideas that are flowing around are great, and there is an overall energy and excitement that is keeping things fun. To be honest, we had no idea that it would go so well! Setting the tone on the first day – making our goals of preparing an installation for the final public presentation clear – gave everyone a focus and a deadline.
We started planning the “stains” today, which meant some big decisions on which we all had to agree. We were worried about the process of making decisions, as quite a few of us have some very strong opinions! Luckily, there was enough work that manageable groups naturally formed, and each group took the lead on a stain while also consulting on the other ones. To suggest this idea of our subjectivities, we decided to paint shapes throughout the gallery that would come together when the viewer stood in a particular place. We were excited about this direction of shapes, sounds, and gestures that could serve as poetic remnants of our time together and the new knowledge that we could generate by working together.
We also listened to an episode of This American Life about the abstract value of money. This led to a really interesting conversation about our idea of money and how we assign value to the objects around us. Some of the students’ responses were so on point that we began collecting them with the idea of maybe using them in screen-printed posters. For instance, Evalise brought up the fact that she owns all of these black dresses that are all pretty much the same and all cost her a lot of money, but she has only worn each one once. Nevertheless, when she wears one of the dresses, she thinks to herself, “Oh my god, I look so fucking beautiful!” It’s so hard to recapture these moments in the conversation where many ideas converge into a single point that is so perfectly smart, poignant, and funny. Her comment to us clearly pointed out both the contradictions and complexities of being ensconced within a system of labor, value, and culture – our individual identities and subjectivities compromised. Hopefully, some of this process will come out in the final outcome!
We had been worried at first that we might not have enough time to get to the place that we needed to be in – in terms of understanding the economy and basic principles of Marxism and Capitalism – but we realized, that in this kind of pedagogical experiment, the key is being clear about expectations, setting the goals high, and being clear that the knowledge that they already possess is the jumping point for going deeper.
Student Feedback on the Day:
As we were listening to “This American Life,” we started discussing waste and personal needs. This is where we got the quote. “OMG I LOOK SO FUCKING BEAUTIFUL TODAY!” I was explaining the difference between wanting and needing, and how all of us have that one thing we have an excessive amount of, like how I have about 20 different plain black dresses, and when I look at them now I think, ‘wow that was a waste.’ But in the heat of the moment when I saw it in the store I immediately had an overwhelming attraction to it because I had to have it and felt like this new dress was better—when I wore it and would feel so fucking beautiful that day. I think I keep buying these beautiful black dresses just so I can get that feeling of overwhelming happiness even if it is just for that one night or two nights. Also the other quote I contributed is “Today I worked 7 Hours” in relation to the “Dark Matter” article and the worksheets we were doing about “the ambiguous and the real.” My idea was about the imaginary after the word ‘hours’. So it would be something like, “Today I worked 7 hours, BUT I spent 3 hours thinking about what I wanted for lunch, spent 2 hours doodling on a piece of paper, spent 5 hours playing solitaire etc etc”. Basically all the time we work and wish we weren’t working.
- Evalise Salas
To see the readings, exercises and media used today, click here.