Facilitated through the ArtsBridge organization I spent two academic quarters leading a series of workshops with 5th graders at Olhone Elementary. The workshops were initially focused on the pre-cinema moving image toy – zoetrope. Students created small paper/cardboard zoetropes, where given short lectures on pre-cinema and early-cinema history. This was mixed with an overview of contemporary video artists and commercial video directors. Students were given workbooks to fill out during the week between our meetings. The workbooks encouraged the students to creatively examine simple aspects of their day-to-day life. Referring to their workbooks as inspiration the students collaborated in small groups to develop concepts for a series of animations to be viewed on a collection of zoetropes I built for the workshops. Most of the conceptualizing of their animations took the form of drawings and writings, but we also created animated gifs on the computer and went over a very basic introduction of html and how the internet works. The students showed a lot of enthusiasm for creating online animations. From there we created a video that depicted them explaining and/or enacting their animation ideas.
The video was edited with found-footage material illustrating their pop culture references. To conclude our effort we selected one of the animation concepts to create into a set of animations. We created a website where each animated loop was accompanied by an audio recording of one of the students describing the story at length.
The final animations were all about Superman dying, a concept they developed completely themselves. I find the idea fascinating when thinking of Superman as an archetype for the American ideal of the working man, and the real life history of how the actor that played Superman in the black and white television series killed himself. My favorite of the animations is about how Superman decides to fly to Mars and gets caught by immigration officers who want to take him back to Mexico. Superman runs away from the officers but dies upon returning to Earth. His spirit goes to Target and purchases a new Superman outfit and becomes Superman again. The story concludes with Superman going back to Mars but not getting caught by immigration because he is already dead.
Links Relevant Materials lesson plan for early lectures: http://danm.ucsc.edu/~dustin/zoetrope/O’Hara_zoetrope_Lesson_Plan_01.pdf workbook for looking at things around them: http://danm.ucsc.edu/~dustin/zoetrope/Workbook_01.pdf early test animations and website demo: http://danm.ucsc.edu/~dustin/zoetrope/animations/