Use of Force – Audio in 3 Parts

Part 1: Drill Sergeant Ontiveros & Restraint

 

Part 2: Institutions Collide: Stephen Mader
Quoted Article

 

Part 3: Phil Klay & Respecting the “Enemy”
Quoted Article

 

Thoughts

I’m definitely no Ira Glass. I found myself really self-conscious while recording, despite being alone with just a recorder. I went through a few iterations of what kinds of stories I wanted to use and what point I wanted to make before settling on use of force. This, along with contrasting accountability and punishment mechanisms between policing and the military, is one of the two most interesting juxtapositions I’ve found so far for use in my thesis. Collecting these stories and tying them together with a single thread was an incredibly useful exercise both in storytelling generally and for my thesis specifically.

Hourly “Comic”

For my hourly comic, I did two things: first, I took around 2 minutes of audio in real time during each hour of my day; and second, at the end of each our I selected an emoji that seemed to best represent that hour.

General Thoughts

This was a hard exercise. Despite constantly trying to remember that I was doing this project, there was one hour that I forgot to record audio for. I definitely found myself behaving differently, from the planning of which day I was going to do it (making sure it had interesting things going on) as well as planning when I did things to ensure interesting hourly updates. I’m going to make a conscious choice that may weaken the project not to list what I did each hour; instead, I’m going to present the audio and the emoji without any additional information. Continue reading

Stories – Where They Come From, Why We Tell Them, How We Understand Them

I appreciate the types of stories presented in this reading, though I remain a bit fuzzy on what exactly constitutes a culturally common story. I also like and agree with the different categories presented for why we tell stories. The examples given in this chapter are illustrative and clear. From a content perspective, it seemed pretty mechanical – not too much to reflect on in this chapter.

I had major problems with the second chapter we read about how people understand stories they are told. From an academic perspective, I wished there was more citing and sourcing for the opinions presented; as it is, there seems to be little presented to back up his assertions. This may not be such a big deal, but I have major issues with some of what he says. The author seems to be saying that we work to understand stories through our internal process of responding to them, which in turn comes about as a result of our own experiences and understanding of the world. Though it is admitted that it may be overstating the case, the end claim seems to be that we don’t really, truly understand the entirety of stories told to us – only those parts of them that we can relate to. The biggest reason I have a problem with this is that, for me at least, experience proves this false. If I respond to a story in a given way, that doesn’t represent the totality of my understanding of it. I am also capable of hearing stories that are totally new to me without imploding or ignoring much of the nuances of them.

This reading makes storytelling sound competitive, a struggle to find our own responses to stories we are told. It devalues the capacity people have for listening and processing what they are told, even if it resides far outside their own experiences or perspectives.

Securing the Shadow: American Folk Art Museum

I should begin by saying that, though exhibit design is a likely career path for me post-ITP, I’m not a fan of visiting museums (that’s weird, I know). I have a hard time staying engaged and focused in art museums in particular, and the Folk Art Museum was no exception.

It was interesting to read about the various symbols used by postmortem portrait artists to denote that a painting’s subject was deceased. It was, to the extent that the exhibit did this, really interesting to ponder the ways death was looked at very differently in early America than it is today. I was fortunate enough to visit the museum on a day and time when they were giving a tour, and learned a bit of information not present in the exhibit pertaining to early Americans’ fear of burying loved ones alive; apparently, it wasn’t unusual for people to be buried with a bell, shotgun, and breathing tube in case they weren’t really dead.

What I missed was additional context, and this lack prevented me from really appreciating the stories embedded within the portraits. I felt like the exhibit only scraped the surface of death in the culture of early America. Several of the overview captions mentioned this culture, but there were only a couple journal entries and other artifacts that gave me a sense of how people really felt. More of that would have been nice. I also got the sense, confirmed more overtly by the tour guide, that the exhibit seeks to start a conversation about death in modern America. In that sense, I felt it failed. At no point during my visit was I really challenged to think about my own thoughts on death, and I didn’t feel like the art itself was presented in a way to do that on its own.

Some art becomes easier to appreciate when displayed on white walls, removed from context. The postmortem portraits here, though, are as much about the culture and context around them than about appreciating the pieces themselves. The Folk Art Museum had an opportunity to break with the traditional gallery presentation and try to transport me to that era and recreate that context. It was a missed opportunity that they did not do this.