Where I’m From Project

For your enjoyment, here is my final multimedia project from ESOC 300 Digital Storytelling. It is a quasi-poetic summary of my life thus far. The artist’s statement below gives further context about the project and my related research. Thank you for taking the time.

Artist’s Statement

1) What is the narrative structure, purpose, focus, and audience for your digital story?

            The intended audience for this project is anyone who would care to learn more about me and why I am the way I am. In other words, folks who want to get to know me better. Perhaps when I am gone, my hypothetical grandchildren and great grandchildren will have access to the final project so that they can know who I was and how I spent my life. Although this is an assignment for this course, my purpose in creating this project has deviated from that. It has reminded me of a lofty and vague idea I have had for quite some time which is to document my memoirs in some way. Perhaps this project and my memoirs will just be published on my personal blog rather than become a famous “great American novel,” but that will suit me just fine.

2) How do you establish a purpose or goal for your digital storytelling project?

            On the first slide of the project, I chose to show pictures of me throughout my life. The pictures are not in chronological order, rather, I chose to put them in collage format on the first slide. By doing this, I hope to convey my goal of attempting to summarize my 41 years into this project by highlighting important or impactful people, places, and things in my life thus far.

3) Engage with sources we watched, discussed, and read together in the course. What four course sources helped you with your own writing and thinking? Cite the sources both in-text and on the reference page.

            I was most influenced in the making of this project by the following examples: I enjoyed Sean Orth’s project and Carly Oseran’s project. They were both well-balanced with good transitions. Orth’s included personal as well as famous images,  and Jonathan Harris’ Today project was honestly a work of art in my opinion. In addition, I liked that Susan Bleyle’s project included how she grew up with religious practices but has gone away from them. I find this to be similar to my own life, and I liked how she finished with a photo collage at the end. I also enjoyed Emily Bailin’s dramatic recitation of her work. I felt it was deeply personal and, frankly, endearing. Moreover, her explanation of how she is using this project with her students was just inspiring.

4) Contextualize relevant information about the people featured in your digital story by explaining why they were incorporated. Who is in your story and why?

            Mostly, I have included family members in my project since they are the ones who support me the most and have had the most impact in my life. For example, on the fourth slide, I have featured my maternal and paternal grandparents, but also include my parents. The following slide features many pictures of my sisters and me throughout the years, but then finishes with a picture of my two sons as I mention a value that I hope I am instilling in them. In other places, I show my current husband who has brought me so much happiness, but I also show my ex-husband who was emotionally abusive and very controlling. Although I do not wish him well or think of him fondly at all, he is still important in my life story because I have had to slowly reconcile with the aftermath of that marriage through many years of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations, and therapy.

5) Reflect on the narrative structure of your story. Is there a clear beginning, middle, and end? Is the digital story well developed by setting up a conflict or dramatic question in the beginning that holds the viewer’s attention throughout and comes full circle with a sense of resolution? Does the digital story have a powerful opening, descriptive place markers of home, problems or struggle, and a sense of return or a changed perspective based on one’s experiences? (Pay close attention to establishing a conclusion – don’t just end without providing closure.) How is closure captured in your story, even if “closure” signifies a beginning?

            Although I would not say my story has a beginning, middle, and end, I would say that I establish a beginning and middle with a summarizing statement on the final slide which includes all the titles or roles I currently hold. Since I, hopefully, have several decades left in my lifetime, I do not think I should impose an end onto my story yet. It’s still going after all! As I said, however, I do feel that my summarizing statement does achieve its purpose of closing out the project nicely. In addition, I think I loosely followed the hero’s journey format establishing my childhood, family, and hometown first; then presenting two major hurdles I faced: the truly horrifying death of my grandmother and the disaster of my first marriage. After that, the mood of the project lifts with food description and the many states where I have been stationed. Then, I finish with the closure summary and more pictures of me which echoes the first slide.

6) Reflect on your design choices. How can you describe your conscious use of proper pacing, and how did you try to hold the audience’s attention?

            Throughout the presentation, I followed a vaguely rainbow color scheme beginning with darker purples, then blues, green, orange, and finally red, a vibrant lively color to match my outlook on my life currently. I tried to convey my feelings about my words through voice inflections but remembered to speak clearly at a moderate pace. I hope these efforts will hold the interest of the audience throughout the project.

7) Reflect on your use of voice to narrate the digital story and connect with the audience. How would you describe the voice quality in the digital story? Is the voice quality clear and consistently audible throughout the presentation without distracting music that overshadows the story or breathing noise on the microphone? Is the pace, volume, and rhythm of the digital story appropriate and does it hold the audience’s attention?

            As I mentioned in previous weeks, I have had broadcasting experience and can appreciate the value of speaking clearly and slow enough to be plainly understood but not too slow as to drone on and bore the audience. I did my best to keep these values in mind while recording my voice and in my other audio choices such as background music and timing. Again, I do hope these adjustments help to hold the interest of the audience, but one can not presume to predict the reactions of others.

8) Describe revisions made based on peer suggestions and feedback. How did you revise?

            As was suggested, I did record my voice again in order to match the slides. However, I declined to normalize or “Americanize” the pronunciation of my family’s Spanish names and the foreign locations I mention. As a career linguist, I always strive to pronounce words as accurately as possible. Another suggestion I received was to add soft background music which did improve the overall project by eliminating empty pauses between the voice audio tracks.

9) Reflect on technical or other challenges faced during the process. What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?

            I most struggled with the following in terms of executing this project: combining music with my voice for the first time, concerns about playing music too loudly like in Rachael Morris’ project, trying to fit all the things I feel are relevant into the format. There are just so many people and places to include! I also wish I could travel to my hometown and get current pictures of the people and things I included. Lastly but most importantly, amid work and family obligations, I was apprehensive at not having enough time to complete a project that I feel is truly finished. With my husband’s technical help, I was able to overcome that obstacle as well as those regarding the music and voice combination.

10) Discuss models, examples, instructional videos, course resources, peers, etc. that were helpful or generative in shaping your decisions about how to ultimately tell your “Where I’m From” digital story. How were you inspired?

            As discussed in question 3, many of the course materials provided inspiration as well as direction for my project. In addition, although I appreciated much of the feedback I received, I felt that some was not appropriate such as one peer who likened my pronunciation of words in Spanish to a comedy skit. I especially appreciated the weekly feedback from Professor Young which added encouragement that my project was headed in the right direction. As I have mentioned, this course has inspired me to reinvest in myself as a writer, and I hope to carve out some time on a more regular basis to that endeavor. So, thank you, Professor Sara Young.

11) Reflect on your own development as a digital storyteller. What kind of planning went into your final digital story for the course? Did you use a storyboard? How effective or useful was the storyboarding process? What have you learned that you did not know when you started this project?

            Other than watching the examples provided in the course content, I started my project by brainstorming about what concepts or people I felt I needed to include. Then, according to the words I wrote in the second week of the course, I started gathering photographs which further focused what I should include and what I might leave out. The storyboard process also helped me organize words and photographs into sections which became the slides. Not only was this process effective, but I learned how to make a storyboard. I had done these before, but in far more vague ways. This project also allowed me to explore the death of my grandmother in a larger historical perspective. That incident was the catalyst for the development of many of the early warning systems regarding volcanic activity that exist today.

12) Include a reference page after these questions are answered.

Project link: https://youtu.be/Rhn2NZwxmJA

Works Cited

            Bailin, Emily. “The Power of Digital Storytelling.” https://youtu.be/jA2cTZK9hzw. 16 JUN 2014. Accessed 12 August 2020.

            Bleyle, Susan. “Where I’m From.” https://youtu.be/QQuJU5bGA-A. 13 JAN 2014. Accessed 12 August 2020.

            Harris, Jonathan. “Today.” https://youtu.be/AH7YxbuZQs8. Accessed 12 August 2020.

            Morris, Rachael. “Where I’m From.” 2 OCT 2015. https://prezi.com/vhngtwf9q6ya/where-im-from/. Accessed 12 August 2020.

            Orth, Sean. “Where I’m From.” https://vimeo.com/156315657. Accessed 12 August 2020.

            Oseran, Carly. “Where I’m From.” https://vimeo.com/155443102. Accessed 12 August 2020.