Genesis Creation Book

/ 7 December 2010

I’ve just gotten back to my dorm room after the final session of Computer Art 1. This class period was the final critique for our 4th projects, our final projects. What I chose to do for my final project was take that Genesis Creation Story from earlier in the semester and illustrated it. This was something I’d always meant to do from when I first wrote the short story, but wasn’t positive that I’d get away with doing it as part of Computer Art 1. As it turned out I was able to have this second portion of the Genesis Creation Story count for Computer Art 1! Since my final project so completely tied in to my Biblical Tradition class I made sure that my Biblical Tradition professor knew about, and was partially involved with, my final project. My Computer Art 1 professor agreed that as my final project in her class was tied in to my Biblical Tradition class that it only made sense for my Biblical Tradition professor to attend, if she wanted, the final critique. So my Biblical Tradition professor was at the final critique, involved with it just as much as my Computer Art 1 classmates were.

The process of creating the final images, and in turn the website I used as the final display in class, was quite fun, interesting, and didn’t feel as long as it probably took. I started in on it before we were even done being given all the details for the project the class period that it was assigned. The minute I knew we could do whatever we wanted I decided on the illustrating as my project. As we were told of the other details I decided on some other restrictions that I’d impose on myself for this project. The first of these restrictions was that I wouldn’t take any new digital photos for the project. Instead I would only use photos that I’d taken, but not used, for previous projects and the 16,000+ photos stored in iPhoto. As a further restriction I decided that the bulk of each image would be drawn components, this was partly because it felt like as I was illustrating a short story drawing made more sense as a medium. Before leaving class that day I’d already determined what 5 segments of the story I’d base my illustrations on. When writing my proposal later on that week I also decided that I’d much prefer to have only a digital display of the images, but that if anything printed was made it would ideally be a bound book something similar to the book I’d made for my Poetry Book project at Avalon High School in 11th grade. I also decided that instead of using just certain sources for digital photos, I’d also restrict digital photo use to only the human subjects in the images and the Earths in the two images that a full image of Earth would be present. Whew… Now most of the planning was done, time to get to work on the actual images.

The first step in image creation was sketching the basic plan for each image. This didn’t take me too long, admittedly because I’d had image ideas in my head since writing the story, but I did work out the layout of each image into final form and even ended up settling on facial expressions to try and dig up for use in the images. If you got the chance to look at the original sketches you’d notice a few things that differ from the final images, but you’d also notice just how much my original sketches resemble the final images.

So after I had an idea of what I’d want to create I next had to pull together the digital photos for use in the images. I quickly grabbed the Earth image used in one of my images from project 3 as the Earth image to be the Earth image used in this project, but that still left me with picking out the photos of people to use. This was a very fun Saturday afternoon task! I spent literally from something like noon to 5:30 pm just sifting through my entire iPhoto library to pull out photos that looked like they may be usable for the images. In the end it turned out that the physical location all but the photo of myself was taken was Austria (the image of myself was taken by the Mississippi River in Saint Paul). By sheer luck I stumbled upon a photo of my dad that exactly fit the expression I’d given for one of the people in one of my sketches, which was a very neat find. I spent most of that weekend’s Sunday carefully cropping the people away from their backgrounds, this was also a fun task.

Once I had all the pre-image planning and source-gathering done I could start working on the actual final images. This actually started in class, but well over 97% of the work was done out of class on my own MacBook Pro, with Pixelmator instead of Photoshop. Since much of the image creation work was done at random times of random days without much thought of it being academic work I can’t quite explain details of the core of this project’s work. However, I was able to complete the images with more than enough time to add minor touch-ups here and there, as well as have ample time to contemplate how I would present the images at the final critique.

Regardless of if I was going to do a printed display for the final critique I was going to create a website display. Since this is my final project, and since the display would need to include the short story text, I knew I’d be doing something much fancier than what I’ve done for previous projects. I also knew that the online display would follow the format set out years and years ago with the Airport Book that my dad had made using drawings I’d made when I was quite young. So I actually spent some time even before the images were complete setting up the website so that all I’d need to do to finish it was drop in the image files. One of the fun things about the website creation was designing the CSS that would determine the visual look of the site. This didn’t take that long, but was an important thing to work through and get exactly the way I wanted it. Once the images were completed the whole website looked just right with no extra HTML or CSS modification.

Towards the due date of the images I made the decision to use the website as the final display for the final critique in class. However, I still needed something that I could physically put in the gallery for the class period, since just a raw website can’t be hung up the way a framed image can. So, I used my knowledge and expertise of the other kind of “computer art” to accomplish something to that end. I wrote a fairly simple iOS application to run on my iPad to show the website in the gallery itself. Obviously the iPad was only in the gallery when I was there for the final critique, but this form of display was as easy as printing is, fun, and let me incorporate my extensive knowledge of software programming into my final Computer Art 1 project.

So now we find ourselves at 9:17 am today when I got to the Benedicta Arts Center on the College of Saint Benedict campus for the final critique. I’ll only go over my own project’s critique, and briefly at that. All the comments regarding my project were positive save a few relating to the drawn elements and specifics on the presentation. My Biblical Tradition professor had good comments tied to the theology behind the project, and everything that was said about the images and presentation are things I’ll be considering for future projects. The whole final critique experience was quite pleasant and helpful.

With being relatively brief all along there’s a basic story of this Genesis Creation Book project, my final project for Computer Art 1. Feel free to comment on the book here and of course those comments don’t all need to be positive. The entire class was a fun way to spend 1/4 of my academic semester. The projects that came out of the class, and will persist if nowhere else here on my website for years to come, were fun and powerful looks at the elements of our lives that I chose to touch on. Maybe someday I’ll be able to use them as part of something bigger later in my life.