I suppose The Johnny Cash Project is as close as I will come to a Grammy nomination. Seems the crowdsourced sketch-video put to Cash’s “Ain’t No Grave” has been nominated for Best Short Form Music Video at the 53rd annual Grammy event coming up in February. In case you haven’t heard of it, here’s a bit of background on The Johnny Cash Project, including a recent version of the piecemeal video.
As far as I can tell, the video is continuously redrawn, with new frames entering into circulation and with old frames dropping in rank as participants assign a five-star rating to existing frames. Many months ago I spent a whopping thirteen-plus minutes sketching frame #1271. Whether or not it was my finest (or even a remarkable) artistic moment may take many more years to determine. My efforts have been rewarded with an average rating of two out of five stars (.400 is kicking butt in baseball and in drawing, right?). Anyway, ratings are not what is important here (ignoring momentarily that the Grammys are a contest).
Grammy win or no, the Cash Project has a pedagogical double that I remember each time it turns up again in this or that RSS stream–the class-drawn music video pieced together from snippets of lyrics and whatever drawings they motivate, all spliced flip-book-style into an on the fly music video. The rawness of DIY; the investment of “I did that.” D. has done this a couple of times with first and second graders who illustrated “What A Wonderful World.” Before the Cash Project, I hadn’t given too much earnest thought to a corresponding compositional project worth pursuing in the classes I typically teach. The Cash Project is a far more mature (i.e., serious-seeming) digital monument, and, that being the case, it has pushed me to reconsider possibilities for small-crowdsourced projects, maybe by adapting something like this and incorporating Google Docs-Drawing (with placeholder images and layers). I like the way these music video projects link (implicitly collaborative) crowdsourcing and gestalt; the summative experience is more forceful than, say, reading a wiki entry, although, ideally, their logics could be linked–with one used to illuminate the other. Maybe.
Undoubtedly, I’ll be too tired to stay up and watch the Grammys. And that’s if I even remember when it is on TV. But I’m hopeful that The Cash Project gets its due. Here’s a glimpse of the competition.
Eyebrows: Is.’s latest facial-anatomical fixation. Fine if you sketch a stick person, but the omission of brows concerns her greatly. “Add them,” she says. As for her own marker board sketches, eyebrows began appearing on every single one early last week.
Is. drew this on Sunday, her unbirthday and 30th monthsday. C, then O, and then she filled in faces and bodies while the board was upside down.
When I saw it late last night, I was first attracted to the O and the tight radiant circles in its eyes–its hypnotic bliss. But the more I look at the C, the more depth I see in its character, the more waves in its wide, thin hair-do.
Is. inked this furry little creature yesterday. She’s terrific with the white board; a lefty who now erases with her index finger and redoes the facial features until they are precisely to her liking. I have a few other Is.ketches to post, but I’m again prone to thinking that a series of entries is the best way to share them–a sure improvement on the stalled-out Y. series I pursued with such great determination in September. I like this particular sketch because I think Is. is drawing a poofy series of thought balloon interegna: just how many empty cloud-like wisps should there be before the thought balloon itself?
Speaking of wispy thought-trails (empty twirls of air on the way to a full-on thought), I’ve ended up tying in with Blackboad for my spring class. Until today I had a viable concoction brewing: drop.io, Wet Paint, Vanilla (discussion forum), and a standalone web site, but I learned that the only way to put a login in front of Vanilla was to manage it on the server. Not a terrible option, ultimately, but it did mean an extra login (i.e., one login for accessing the URL, a second for posting to the forum), and I was at the same time running into a few hassles with compatibility re: the latest version of Vanilla and dead plugins managed by what appears to be a sluggish developer’s community. By this I mean that the plugins are all old and with no signs of updates on the horizon.
So, with a whimper and a frown, I’ve bowed to Blackboard, even though it makes me throw up a little bit every time I log on. I’m not in any position this semester to push back against its great, hulking inertia, no matter how much it makes my head ache. And the few emails I received in the past couple of days got me thinking that Blackboard is, for this semester, at least, the best option for everyone else with a stake in the course.