Not much planning involved before I decided the page and the words for my Human Document assignment. As a result, I was able to complete this in a relatively short time. I started off with a few interesting words and phrases and then selected the next ones that rhymed. I hope the text actually makes sense, but if not, at least it flows smoothly 🙂
Digitalizing the page before drawing saved me from a lot of trouble. It was easy to draw and make changes digitally. And there are plenty of tools on the iPad – all sizes and colors of pens and brushes – to help me achieve different effects I desired.
The middle of a semester is always a struggle. One thing that I always do to comfort myself is to say that everything will be good as long as I survive this week. And I will say this every week during that period.
One day, there was this epiphany that I had been doing this not just every week, but every month, every year, and every stage of my life. Life is like climbing a mountain, and there will be small plains after steep ascents, but it will never be the top. It seems that I have been stuck in this recursion. Still, I keep climbing.
When I took things out of my bag, I was surprised by how under-utilized my backpack was. For all the classes, extra-curriculum, and daily life, a laptop, a tablet with an electronic pencil, a loose-leaf binder, stationery, a wallet, and a set of keys are enough. From this photograph, my self-portrait is a tech-savvy and open-minded person, embracing new technology and innovations.Getting rid of piles of books and paper, students from my generation that grow up with electronic devices tend to embrace the disruptive technological changes in our daily life. All my textbooks are stored in my laptop as pdf, and other reading materials are available through the online library. I take notes on my iPad, and the traditional loose-leaf binder is merely used to collect handouts and other hard copies. The wallet carries a little cash that serves only as emergency use. Credit cards still prevail, but online payments like Venmo and Apple Pay are changing the game. Overall, this image is very representative of me, as my budget is the only thing that will prevent me from upgrading the technology in my life.
I believe that this kind of representation can be counted as a type of writing. First of all, like an author, I can choose what to be included in the photo. I have the power to lead my audience’s thoughts since they will not have information from other sources. Through adding and omitting information, it is feasible to create the representation that I want, just like shaping a character the way I like in writing. Nevertheless, the audience of this photograph will have their own interpretations of the items’ purposes. They cannot help but use their own experience with the specific item, like the laptop, to analyze the author’s use of that item. This kind of engagement is also similar to that of reading a text.
The impact of smartphones and social media on interpersonal relationships has been a very popular topic in recent years. While some argue that technology facilitates communication over long distances, others point out that more and more people, especially those of our generation that have grown up with smartphones, are obsessed with social media and become unable to deal with face-to-face communications. Technology may hinder normal communications and create “the longest distance” between people.
The most difficult part is again the drawing process as I decided to push myself to practice drawing. No suitable pictures online made this process harder since I could not imitate others’ drawings. In addition to my iPad and Apple Pencil, I employed Photoshop and Powerpoint to edit my drawings and put them into panels. Overall, the creating process was fun if not that I had less time to spare for this assignment due to other midterms.
It was difficult to decide which pages to trace as I did not know what I should be looking for. Therefore, I marked three to four pages in each book that I found somehow unusual and interesting and read them carefully. I quickly decided the page for Spinning, in which a complete picture was intentionally divided into three panels, but I failed to find a similar one in Stitches. Albeit far from being able to articulate the special features in them, I eventually made my choices simply because of the special feelings I had when looking at these pages. As I would find out later, this selection process contributed to the development of my thesis that these two pages serve to let readers not read but feel the stories and also the title, “Read with Eyes, Feel with Heart“.
Despite previous careful examination, tracing definitely helped me figure out how both authors managed to confuse and overwhelm their readers and create feelings so that they could empathize with the protagonists through “choice of frame”. The comics’ “all-at-onceness” was in effect as well, as I tried to make visual connections between panels only to realize, after tracing them, that they were similar but depicted from different angles. As for the page from Spinning, before I traced it, I thought the three overlapping figures on the right of the page were observations at different times of a continuous movement, but from a fixed perspective. However, when I tried to imagine the movement in my head while tracing it, the sizes and distances of these figures did not match. Then I concluded that they were in fact observations at different times from different perspectives. The tracing process forced me to experience the uncomfortable feelings the authors designed for these pages and identify the reason behind at the end.
The inductive way of writing was hard at the beginning, like forcing a right-handed person to write with the left hand. I could not help but try to look for evidence to support my thesis. But what was my thesis? I had no idea at that time. With a vague idea about perspective in mind, I decided to analyze the two pages separately first. This approach turned out to be fruitful, as I soon identified the direction I should follow. Furthermore, the inductive way of writing shortened my time to write because I did not first commit to one thesis and then struggle to find evidence. And with all the evidence ready, there would be more room to develop interesting arguments.
The biggest takeaway from this assignment is how versatile the comics is to influence readers. As Chute states in her book, Why Comics?: From Underground to Everywhere, “the comics gestures conspicuously to the reader’s active and involved reading”. Authors can use words, visuals, panels, and so forth to put their readers in the protagonists’ shoes. These elements work altogether to affect the readers, often unconsciously, through the special feelings they create. With the dizziness in mind, it becomes understandable that David runs away from school, break laws, and waste electricity just to annoy his parents. Tillie does not appear demanding when she is angry with her mother’s indifference after I have experienced the tough test with her. Appealing to emotion is more powerful than mere repetition to make the readers understand and accept the authors’ messages.