Excuse Me, Ladies and Gentlemen - A Collection of Work

A summer's worth of illustrations, part of a book collection!

Sometimes it seems like it’s hard to say anything interesting about New York City. Old New Yorkers already know everything. New New Yorkers don’t know enough yet. 

When we decided to make a book about the city, we took it as a challenge: Find new perspectives on a place that we all either know too well, or not at all. It helped, perhaps, that our contributors were themselves new to town, all of them graduate students at the School of Visual Arts. Each piece was produced in only a few summer weeks with little time to spare. These pages represent the best work of our students, each experimenting with a visual style or voice that was unfamiliar to them. 

Ryan Weber’s interviews with MTA workers give us insight into a world of items lost and found — what we value, and what we leave behind. Craig Coss’s sensitive exploration of city trees makes us attentive to the things we pass by every day, reframing the definition of a “street drug.” Nadia DeLane and Jenny Goldstick began by asking where they could find kale in Crown Heights, and found that it had been there all along. Feifei Ruan asks us to view the familiar icons of the city through a new lens — destroying our symbols (and our bridges) while remaking them. 

What started as a modest class project became a book. We will never look at bicycle baskets, bar billboards or bedbugs the same way again. 

Many thanks to Joan McCabe and Nathan Fox for inviting us to teach this summer. 

—Jennifer Daniel and Alicia DeSantis, editors

A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.
— Ruth Ozeki

Tour at Fake Love Studios

Had an amazing time touring and listening to the design studio Fake Love's work, promotions, and vision. Sent them this GIF as a token of appreciation. Thanks to Anna Eveslage for being my sign model. 

Of the innumerable effects, or impressions, of which the heart, the intellect, or the soul is susceptible, what one shall I, on the present occasion, select?
— Edgar Allen Poe, The Philosophy of Composition

Fellowships & opportunities

A great list via PBS on digital media & journalism fellowships, in other words, dream assignments of all sorts for storytellers. Most especially if you note "digital media" + "journalism" which equals to VISUAL STORYTELLING. 

 Start dreaming big. 

first glimpse of mise en komix project

This is a scene from a 40-second approx stop motion/animation project I'm working on as a part of course requirements for MFA Visual Narrative. This is based on Klassik Komix # 1 by Steven Millhauser. 

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To start with, I had thumbnails drawn. The plan, concept, and so on. In my mind it was doable, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do - which was an interpretation of the text.  

The foray into this is to create a "dream within a dream" (or "story within a story"). In a sense, I'm asking who's real, and what is real. 

To start with, I had two main scenes: the city background and inside the window. So I got out two canvases and started to collage lines I cut out from Komix and pasted them on. Then I painted over the lines. I scanned them, then added buildings in photoshop.  

Separately, I filmed Stacey DeLaune, a storyteller I recruited for this project. We did several shoots, perhaps an hour before I got a draft right using an app from my iPhone, the frameographer, which is a stop-motion app. We got her on regular video, then we did the stop motion. For the stop motion to work (it was set at 1 frame per second, or 1fps) Stacey had to sign extremely slow.  

After identifying the clip, I did the rest in photoshop, which got her the awesome effect with her arms.  

 (TO be continued)

Doing animation through Motion Capture

Met amazing people at the Sign Language Translation and Avatar Technology 2013 conference in Chicago, hosted by DePaul University. Learned about this video (and collaboration work) from one of the presenters, Remi Brun, from France. His company MocapLab did the 3D work in this video, and when he showed this to me, I was stunned. Because this is so wonderfully GORGEOUS. This is exactly what I want to create. I'll never do it alone. I'll work with the best, but this is exactly it - visual poetry in telling a story. Experience, understanding, and the "handmade" quality of it that is all so familiar - the beauty of human talents. The essence of this visual narrative is like "finding home" - I want to do this. Absolutely. (Video cannot be embedded, so click on this link to view the video on Vimeo.)

The rise of the storyteller, and the App Director

Am browsing publishing houses such as DemiBooks, Katachi Media, and Moglue (to name a few) to do a throughout review of their platforms and licensing offers; and came upon this blog entry by Katachi Media: "The Rise of the Storyteller." 

Of course it nabbed my attention. It redirected to another entry by The Next Web, "The Rise of the App Director," and upon reading it I felt like I hit pay dirt! 

What I do, and what I have been doing is pretty much App Directing! I'm very hands on, but at the same time I work in a team and without them, I wouldn't have a gleaming app to offer. 

I've been (without realizing it) using that very analogy when people ask me what I do. I tell them: "I make apps."

They often ask: "So, you do the coding?" 

I always answer: "Oh, no, I hire a talented programmer for that." 

 Then they say: "So the programmer makes the app?"

It's a perfectly normal response after their question but it always seems to raise doubts as to what I actually do. So upon reading this article. Oh yes. App Director makes complete sense.  

It's like a film. Do you ask Steven Spielberg if he made ET, "Did you edit the movie?" He might say, "No, we hired a talented video editor for that." Do people say, "Oh, so the editor made ET?" 

I'm owning up to my work here. I certainly made The Baobab, with a wonderful team, and I'll continue to develop, create, and direct more apps. Excited, me. Geeking out - definitely. 



How to save your city: the magic trick that turns you into a superhero!

Another MFA Visual Narrative assignment with the explicit instructions: Create instructions for a magic trick with the goal of clarity. 

I definitely had fun with this one, diving back into memory lane, when I discovered a great secret (that's all about chemical compounds) of creating a Goo Monster with very simple ingredients. I actually did my middle school science fair project on that - and I think everyone had too much fun with the food coloring. (Think: 50 signing kids with green hands) 

I even had a very cool illustration to go with the science fair exhibit. A Goo Monster attacking an innocent town. 

So, I'm bringing this back here. Decades later, the monster has risen.

A Decontextualization of The Blair Witch Project


Here is a new twist on The Blair Witch Project. Footages used are taken from the official trailer of The Blair Witch Project. The goal here is to de-contextualize a body of work and deliver a new narrative.


The Blair Witch Project was extremely visually disorienting for me as a deaf person, with all the shaky footage, and its constant black or blurred background with just audio to guide the movie. It could be easily said that this movie is made for hearing people, as I discussed this among deaf friends, most of us share the similar experience of having a headache after the movie. And none of us were spooked. Instead we were more annoyed by the snot-streaked girl, and whenever I think of this movie I always associate it with the snot-streaked image.

However, after musing how I could deconstruct and decontextualize a body of work, I came up with this concept.