by Mai Thuong, DLINQ Intern
For my summer internship with DLINQ, I tried to learn more about digital fluency through team and personal inquiries.
For team inquiries, through different prompts related to a digital awareness, I was encouraged to explore roles and implications of digital tools and technologies. The prompts asked us to engage both theoretically and practically. Most of the time, I discussed the prompts with my colleagues, and then, we created something, usually visual, to illustrate the idea discussed, either individually or together as a team.
In the beginning, I was engaged in prompts about digital awareness and personal relationships with digital tools by creating videos. Later, I began to respond to prompts with other student colleagues about detecting fake news, creating tools to detect fake information, brainstorming ways to engage student-teachers through online digital platforms, etc.
Beside team inquiry, I also worked on two projects. The first one is with Jeni, a DLINQ staff who worked with me on reviewing a course that was designed for students of Middlebury Institute at Monterey. I was responsible for reviewing the course based on certain criteria such as the course’s content, accessibility, visual representation, clarity, etc. I was also engaged in a video project with two French language school students of Middlebury. The students wanted to create something for their final project instead of writing academic paper, so we collaborated together to make a podcast and a 13-mins video for their “History of Music” course. Thanks to these two projects, I got to learn more about the proper recording process in Middlebury’s studio room which I had not discovered before. Also, making a video within 72 hours with a student, whom I also considered as a client, was an interesting experience to have. Usually, I make videos based on my preference. Yet, it was different and difficult at the same time to juggle between having my own preference for how I want to make the video, and listening to my client’s ideas. I also felt grateful to have experienced working with the students under such a stressful time for them, as it was towards the end of their academic program. I learnt how to listen, understand, yet at the same time affirming what I was doing effectively so that the workload felt realistic for both the students and me.
For my personal inquiry, I strived to learn about Adobe Photoshop, since I find that Photoshop could be a powerful platform used to create visual stories, messages, or just simply alter the original aesthetic layout of something. I watched different tutorial videos for beginners, and created some pieces of Photoshop, following themes of portrait, landscape, masking, layering, and merging photos in Adobe Photoshop. Examples of work could be found on the website with Middcreate (http://maithuong.middcreate.net/photoshop/) that I created to post the creations that I made:
By self-teaching myself about Photoshop, I learned the very basic elements of Photoshop such as creating color, creating certain visual effects, etc. What is still there to do is to write brief reflections when it comes to aesthetic inspiration and to organize tutorial resources that I used on the website so that other people could use them as references. The creations on the pages that I have made are from the free stage of exploration of photoshop for beginners. If I continue the website, I would want to expand the exploration for it to be more purposeful, for example, exploring photoshop in the era of fake news.
During the time that I had with Photoshop, I realized that my perception of Photoshop changed. I thought that Photoshop was out of reach for me, it seems so complicated. Yet, nowadays, there are so many tutorials available on YouTube that make learning Photoshop more accessible and even free. I have used other forms of digital art, such as Blender for animation, and I have struggled a lot to balance art, technology, and using technology to make art since I was used to making art with my hands more. Yet, with Photoshop, though it could be a bit intimidating and overwhelming at the beginning, it definitely feels to me like a powerful and versatile tool that will allow you to do almost everything: creating posters, re-creating / innovating visual art materials. The most admirable aspect of Photoshop is it allows creativity, in the sense that you can take the original photo, and turn it into something else completely different, with different visual presentations and thus different visual meanings. This is where I wish I could have explored Photoshop more, maybe in the sphere of politics, and how Photoshop is used to convey or alter different political texts and political points of view. In this way, I see Photoshop as a powerful art tool that allows artists to engage with the public either more discretely or popularly.