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DISCOVERING BEAUTY IN STRANGERS.

STACY ZOU ART OF RESEARCH SPRING 2013


INTRODUCTION This project began with selecting any topic that could be found in the Los Angeles county that could be researched extensively over the next 14 weeks. I decided to look into art, specifically an oral artform called spoken word poetry. Spoken word places an umbrella over many things: live entertainment, emotion, therapy, psychology, history, education, self discovery, and many more. This led to my finding that life and our experiences altogether have an ephemeral nature since everything around us moves in a constant flux. Stories help us make sense of the fast paced world we are part of – they create cross cultural communication, intimate bonds with strangers, and a chance to make ourselves immortal.


SECONDARY RESEARCH FOUNDATIONS GENERAL What makes spoken word poetry unique is the immediate intimate connection created between the performer and the listener. > A clap or snap > “Mmhmm” in the audience > Seeing someone cry The performer immediately understands, “I’m not alone. Someone gets how I feel, someone else is in the same place.” Source: GRAFITTI VERITE ‘7 RANDOM URBAN STATIC: THE IRIDESCENT EQUATIONS OF SPOKEN WORD

HISTORICAL Although spoken word began centuries ago, the term was first coined in the 80’s after the Postmodern Art movement; it was an umbrella category for “anything that didn’t fit into the already well established categories of performance: music, theatre, and dance.” Spoken word is difficult to clearly define, because there are many factors involved. > What if you add a beat? > What if it’s previously recorded as opposed to a live performance? > What if nobody is around to watch?) Source: MIAZGA, MARK. “THE SPOKEN WORD MOVEMENT OF THE 1990’S.” INTERVIEW BY BOB HOLMAN.

DESIGN Today’s world is doing things to keep the dwindling art form alive. > Russell Simmon’s Def Poetry Jam on HBO features both established and up-and-coming poets (Nikki Giovanni, Mayda del Valle, Kanye West, Alicia Keys) > Film is prevalent method of documenting spoken word since it requires visual body language and audio. (YouTube: local coffee shop venue performances off mobile phones) > Professional cinematography (ex: Jefferson Bethke’s “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” music video that went viral on YouTube)


PROCESS MAPPING To explore where the project could go, I did some mind mapping. The key points I got from secondary research was that spoken word overlapped into several main categories: performance, community, therapy, and art. I also noticed its close relationship to hip hop and rap music.


OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH SPOKEN WORD POETRY SHOWS Then, I attended a few shows at Da Poetry Lounge, the nation’s largest and longest running spoken word poetry lounge. They have shows every Tuesday night from 8pm-12am and it is always a full house.

WEEK 1 OBSERVATIONS & MORPHOLOGY: PERFORMERS ON STAGE

> > > > >

Community experience, community involvement Rituals for some, regulars attend weekly for years Low-profile, a little run down but not about the location Performer experience ranges from expert to amateur Very entertaining and mind opening, people usually return

WEEK TWO OBSERVATIONS & MORPHOLOGY: PERFORMANCE PREPARATION

> > > >

Write poems wherever available: journal, iPad, etc. Some always write but wait years to perform Practice in line, before the performance Every week the venue changes, POETRY SLAM competition this week, audience judges > Even more packed during a thunderstorm

SIMILARITIES: a good show always relies on the dynamic chemistry between the audience and performer, venue always packed, range of less impactful performances and very successful performances, hosts are full of energy DIFFERENCES: personally got more comfortable being there, talked to strangers and got to know them instead of sticking with the people I came with, the week with the poetry slam was even more engaging because it fully relied on audience feedback and participation


KEY WORDS

LOS ANGELES COUNTY >

SPOKEN WORD

COMMUNITY >

> LIVE ENTERTAINMENT >

RELATIONSHIPS > CONNECTING >

ART > POETRY >

RAW

> AUDIENCE

INTIMACY WITH STRANGERS >

FEAR > EMOTIONAL > IMPACTFUL > EMPATHY >

THERAPY

>

PSYCHOLOGY > EXPERIENCE > HISTORY > STORYTELLING > EDUCATION > SELF DISCOVERY > LOVE > PERSONAL GROWTH > CROSS CULTURAL >

UNDERSTANDING >

COMMUNICATION > FLEETING MOMENTS > EPHERMAL >

CONSTANT FLUX PARANOIA

> TIME > IMMORTALITY > > JUDGEMENT

MEMORY

> ANONYMITY

>


FURTHER RESEARCH

LIFE IS COMPOSED OF FLEETING MOMENTS. THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE HISTORYMAKING, THE PRIVATE MOMENTS.

THEY ARE ALL STORIES... ... AND IT IS ALL BEAUTIFUL.


FURTHER RESEARCH HERACLITUS

ANNE FRANK

JOSEPH CAMPBELL

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living, even after my death.”

Heraclitus is an ancient Greek philosopher who claimed that life is like a river. The peaks and troughs, pits and swirls, are all are part of the ride. He preached to “go with the flow” and enjoy that ride, as wild as it may be. There is no way to avoid change, because life is in a constant state of flux. The only thing that remains constant in life is the fact that it is always changing.

Anne Frank was a victim of the Holocaust who wrote a detailed first hand account of what it was like to live every day in seclusion in order to hide from the Nazi’s. Her stands out because she gives a face to all victims of the tragedy by sharing a raw, human, and passionate story of her experiences in hopes to educate others.

“The world is full of people that have stopped listening to themselves or have listened only their neighbors to learn what they ought to do, how they ought to behave, and what the values are they should be living for.”


FURTHER RESEARCH THE IMPORTANCE OF STORYTELLING Since the beginning of time we have told stories. It’s how we as people stay alive and continue to grow and understand ourselves, as well as the world around us. Without understanding life, we are lost and forgotten. Good stories are remembered for a lifetime. Many times they create immediate and intimate bonds with strangers. Stories inspire us, teach us, entertain us. We listen to past stories, and in return they propel us forward because we see partterns and meanng that weren’t there in the moment we experienced them. Sometimes things don’t make sense or teach us anything until we have some temporal distance. We make sense of our lives - and our work - in the story that we can see in retrospect. It’s not just about getting the attention of others... it’s about living life with meaning.

ESSENTIALLY EVERYTHING IN LIFE HAS A STORY. FROM NATIVE AMERICAN ORAL TRADITIONS, EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHICS, RENAISSANCE PAINTINGS, PERSONAL DIARIES, CHILDREN’S STORYBOOKS, BUSINESSES AND BRANDING, THEME PARKS, SHOWS, MUSIC, MOVIES...


PARANOIA OF STRANGERS DUE TO MEDIA’S EXPOSURE OF SOLEY THE NEGATIVE

GOOD STILL EXISTS IN THE WORLD... WE JUST DON’T SEE IT PUBLICIZED, UNLIKE HOW THE SMALL PERCENTAGE OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS IN SOCIETY GET SCRUTINIZED.


INTERVIEW WITH EXPERT Natalie Patterson is a highly recognized poet and producer and host of the nation’s largest weekly poetry venue, Da Poetry Lounge. For the past two years, Natalie has developed and facilitated innovative poetry programs for under-resourced youth as Director of Poetry for Collective Voices Foundation, teaching eight classes a week at five different schools. Natalie is currently teaching workshops throughout Los Angeles while working on finishing her first book of poetry due out soon. I got to meet and interview Natalie, explore her perspective on life, and came to find that she is an all around beautiful person, in addition to the plethora of things she already is. Natalie shared that in order to spread love in our communities, we have to give love. When asked, “how can we convince people that there

still exists good in the world, in spite of all the bad that we hear about?” Patterson responded with the simple answer, “Just by being a good person.”

She participates in making random acts of kindness, where her gifts are given without any intent of recieving praise or recognition for it. For example, she explains “my punishment for going through a drive-

thru is that I have to pay for the person behind me. And then I drive off, and they’re like ‘what the hell, this person just paid for me.’ And they’re happy about that too.” “this random beautiful thing happens. And I wanna be a part of it... so I surrender things willingly.”

She explains,


INTERVIEW WITH EXPERT “Any kind of sharing of ourselves is what creates community. Which is what resolves a lot of the negative things that exist for us now, due to a lack of community.” “We fear intimacy.” “I think that’s how you get people to engage differently, is to just be comfortable and be welcoming. But also not take responsibility for other people. It’s not my responsibility for you to to be comfortable. That’s your responsibility. It’s my responsibility to be a good person, or like, whatever my list is. And so if you want to meet me halfway, then the door’s open. So it’s opening the door, and meeting someone halfway, and not doing the work for them but inviting to them to do it for themselves, because you’ll be there... ...It’s the same way when you were a kid, and your friend had to come over and knock on your door during summer and say, “Can you come out and play?” So yeah you gotta do that if you wanna go out and play. If you were in the crib… Okay (laughs)…but we’re outside.” “Be in a community that is of the same thought belief and are actively doing things. Because it’s not just enough to be like, ‘there are good people in the world.’ You know? Cause it’s like where are they? All they show on the news is people shooting people, but I also DON’T WATCH THE NEWS. Because I don’t want to see that.”


Analysis & Insights

Media has caused an ongoing paranoia of the world, blinding us from the good that exists around us. We can use the power of media to reciprocate this stigma of everyday strangers we’ve formed over time. In daily life, we share intimate connections with people we’ve never met before, knowing we’ll probably never see them again. But we still do it because it brings happiness and beautiful, carefree moments in the day, where we forget our hectic, routined lives.


FINAL THESIS

Our world has recently become a paranoid, untrusting place due to media’s exposure to the small percentage of negative events. In order to dispel these fears and restore confidence in the good that still exists in society, we need avenues to remind us of the beauty in connecting with every day strangers.


EXISTING WAYS TO BRING STRANGERS TOGETHER > > > > > > > > > > > >

SPEED DATING NIGHTCLUBS PARTIES CHILDREN’S PLAYGROUNDS SCHOOL/CLASSROOMS PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION COMMUNITY SERVICE COMMUNITY EVENTS SPORTING EVENTS YAHOO! ANSWERS RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS CHANCE & THE WILLINGNESS TO OPEN UP

EXISTING WAYS THAT KEEP US APART > > > > > > > > >

SINGLE FILE LINES ONLINE SHOPPING CUBICLES RESTAURANT TABLES FOR ONE PRIVATE AUTOMOBILES RACISM SEXISM CULTURAL DIFFERENCES/LANGUAGE STEREOTYPING


FINAL PROJECT

r e g n a r t S


FINAL PROJECT


STEP 1: FIND A LETTER ONLINE

STEP 2: SEARCH FOR THE CAPSULE

STEP 3: SHARE ON OUR BLOG


AUDIENCE PERSONAS The target demographic for the Time Capsule Project encompasses a wide range of people. It is intended to appeal to anyone from young children to elderly adults of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political opinon, religious view, and location in the world. The idea is that we are all a part of society and different in our own ways, but there are always stories and qualities about one another that we can form an intimate connection with, even people we’ve never met.

MIKE PASQUA, 49 Mike is from Covina, California and has been an high school social science teacher for the past 12 years. He has credentials in Political Science, Law, and Education. Mike has been married for 17 years to his wife Sharon and has two children, Andrew and Megan. While teaching Government and Economics, Mike also is the head advisor for his high school’s Leo Club, Young Republicans of America, the Contracts Manager for Aerojet Gencorp, and the Executive Vice President Programs Coordinator for Comic-Con International. Mike is often a favorite teacher of students, known for his sarcastic sense of humor. His interests include Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Law & Order marathons, The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, MARVEL Comics, Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Sherlock Holmes novels, and Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles!


AUDIENCE PERSONAS The target demographic for the Time Capsule Project encompasses a wide range of people. It is intended to appeal to anyone from young children to elderly adults of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political opinon, religious view, and location in the world. The idea is that we are all a part of society and different in our own ways, but there are always stories and qualities about one another that we can form an intimate connection with, even people we’ve never met.

MIKI PRYZK, 26 Miki is from Bethesda, Maryland and is currently a freelance illustrator. She also works part time at The Back Abbey, a beer wrench with the best beer and food in town. Miki has been with her current boyfriend, Aaron, for the past five years, who is also an artist. They share their passion for art and adventuring life. Every summer they take a break from their lives, choose a location, pack their belongings, and go backpacking for three months together. They share a mutual outlook on life that in order to live you must be open to see everything offered around you. She claims that religious views are “not for me,” although she has “socialistv tendencies” politically. Miki is a huge fan of the Boston Red Sox, Star Wars, Disney, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, The Black Keys, tattoos, and Bloody Marys during Sunday brunch.


CONCLUSION The Dear Stranger Project alludes to the idea that in daily life, we share intimate connections with strangers and oftentime give a part of our time away to conversing with people we know we’ll probably never see again (the old man on the subway, the mother at the park, the cashier at the grocery store, etc.) But we do it anyway to take a step out of our comfort zones and take a step away from our normal routined lives, because human connection is essential. We need it. We crave it. We seek things to relate to. As humans we explore and discover. It’s how we learn. It’s how we stay interacted with the life around us. And it’s how we open our eyes to see beauty all around us. In the same way the person who recieved the random coffee Patterson gave, we as the seeker never get to physically meet the stranger who left us the gift we find. Yet recieving just a handwritten letter an a sentimental item is weirdly enough to make us feel a sense of satisfaction and connection to another human being. The Dear Stranger Project serves as a movement to remind us the beauty in every day people all around us. By participating in the project, we are connecting love with the world all around us.


NEXT STEPS

> MASSIVE INSTAGRAM & FACEBOOK CAMPAIGNS TO SPREAD THE WORD ON THE INTERNET & BLOGOSPHERE > EXPAND GLOBALLY TO ALL COUNTRIES LETTERS IN ALL DIFFERENT LANGUAGES > MOBILE APPS FOR EASIER GPS NAVIGATION > DOCUMENTARY FILM / A CLOSER LOOK / HIGHLIGHTS SUCCESS STORIES


The Dear Stranger Project