Interpreting Ambiguous Images              Chris Grodoski        Northern Illinois University                     &    Fra...
Schedule, Goals, and Doughnuts    • Presentation Time:         9:00 – 10:45• Unpacking: an approach for  understanding cre...
Part IUnpacking Ambiguous Images
Traditional Interpretive Process
Meaningful Interpretations“...*students+ want to be certain to get the “right” interpretation, to get the  best grade, and...
What is Unpacking?         • A five step process for the           interpretation and           production of creative vis...
Why use Unpacking ?• Unpacking:  – Honors a variety of    creative visual work  – Develops student    interpretive process...
Why Unpack?•   Integrates symbol processing and socio-cultural learning into student-owned strategies, an    approach advo...
Unpacking:Actual Function, Emotion, Audience,   Image Reference, & Metaphor
Description• What do I see?• Use formal qualities• Increases focus on  separating meaning &  emotion from  descriptive pro...
Emotion• What feelings are being  communicated?• What feelings am I  experiencing?
Elevated Conversations around           Emotion               “I think that if someone created a                   spider ...
Image References• What images does this  one remind me of?• Encourage knowledge  from popular  culture, personal  experien...
Audience     • Who is this image for?     • Who would this image       appeal to?     • What about this image       would ...
Metaphor• What might this image  symbolize?• How can I summarize  the theme of the  image?• Challenge students to  develop...
Getting started        •   Description: “What do I see?”        •   Emotion: “What feelings are being            communica...
Part IIAssessment and Scaffolding
Assessment: Design and composition
Assessing Narratives: Convergentthinking and declarative knowledge
Increasing Complexity
Assessment: Elaboration
Assessment: Elaboration
Reverse UnpackingAUDIENCE              IMAGE REFERENCES           METAPHOR
Thank you!    Chris Grodoskicgrodoski@gmail.com
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  • Still Life with Flowers 1716 Rachel Ruysch
  • Led to disconnections in the ways we talk about contemporary artDescribes a process, but doesn’t help a student understand the workings of a processComputer exampleEnlightenment thinking about images as self-contained thingsDoes not work backwards!
  • The 4 step process is not reflective of many of the actual ways we interact with a work of artworkOur actual interactions with art and visual culture are more rich and less “heady”
  • In using a four-step process, we have ended up with impenetrable mental and linguistic gymnastic games that don’t communicate our actual experiences with creative visual imagery Liz Hickok, Alamo Square, 2011Sexy fish exercise There is so much to know in a work of contemporary visual culture that reflects more than just art for art sake
  • Matrix MorpheusBemoan their abilities and state that they should know more, but haven’t questioned enough if our approach is the right one for them…We also need a way to teach and assess for the social, cognitive, and emotional complexity that actually reflects what experts on imagery do
  • Yayoi Kusama at Queensland Gallery of Modern Art in Australia 2012There is also an importance for students to understand that creative visual works are debated.Giving students answers only relegates the richness of visual culture to what can be taught in a fill in the dot test.
  • Ultimately, we want students to know that meaning and interpretation are not an equation, but that interacting with creative works is a dynamic and changing process…
  • Dartmouth professor Dr. HanyFarid’s tool for identifying the levels of “varnish” in photo shopped images.It doesn’t consider the way social and personal values animate and change realityAlso the values that shift the way we interpret art and images
  • …and can be evidenced and argued based on their own experiences
  • The ground work for later student production and meaning makingthe goal = to confidently create meaningful interpretations that are multi-facetedThen repetition of this initial skill is key before introducing more complexityStudents can’t meaningfully break boundaries if they can’t create meaningful interpretationsDescription/Actual Function = DenotationMetaphor = Connotation Emotion= Denotation and personal connectionAudience & Popular Culture=Socio-cultural learningWHY VTS IS BAD & how to be proactive with Common CoreBig group, small groups, individuals (I do, we do, you do) (advance notice)- built in successAssessmentFirst, are student interpretations meaningful relative and to personal and cultural experiences?Second, in what ways can student interpretations be challenged to become more reasonable, varied, and reflective? Third, can students identify other possible elements of unpacking in each other’s work? Finally, can students disagree about identified conclusions from each other’s unpacking?
  • Students continually reinforced on support and conclusion in meaningful interpretations. Example of activity where students examine the statements of others to identify if there is a missing conclusion or a missing support and were asked to provide, for their peer, the missing element.
  • Lei Xue, Tea drinking, 2007 PorcelainTeaching for ambiguityINTRODUCTION TO Activity TWO
  • The production in this case, an activity used at the start of a course, is focused on creating narratives. These narratives help students to to understand how images work in conjunction with one another to create narratives. They are also used as a reference point to help students develop meaningful interpretations in their interpretive and production work. Since narratives generally emerge from conflict, students write about the ways the images compare and contrast. Students also include popular culture references, which helps me further place student’s background knowledge. This combined organizer, however, is less visually appealing. Yet the narrative comes about, we see, from a background knowledge that includes 1. the Great Depression, 2. Child Labor Laws, and 3. Symbolic knowledge that has the hamburger representing a “full appetite” and the boy as a symbol of “poverty” and “lack of food”Clearly this student’s capacities for narratives creation are more advanced, and production and interpretation goals for this student needed to be more challenging to meet developmental needs. Provides a reason to at least be grading for concept knowledge and craftsmanship separatelyHowever, this example is on the surface successful. The elements of the organizer highlight a few things about the student, and where this student lies relative to the chart (from the previous slide). Not only is the narrative simple, but the compare/contrast and popular culture points reveal little background knowledge about alligators and dogs!
  • Same student as previous slide, one year later
  • Unpacking

    1. 1. Interpreting Ambiguous Images Chris Grodoski Northern Illinois University & Franklin Middle School Wheaton, IL
    2. 2. Schedule, Goals, and Doughnuts • Presentation Time: 9:00 – 10:45• Unpacking: an approach for understanding creative visual imagery: 9:00 – 9:25 • Collaborative Exploration: 9:25 – 9:35 • Workshop: 9:35 – 10:20• Assessment, Scaffolding, and Review: 10:20-10:45
    3. 3. Part IUnpacking Ambiguous Images
    4. 4. Traditional Interpretive Process
    5. 5. Meaningful Interpretations“...*students+ want to be certain to get the “right” interpretation, to get the best grade, and they do not trust that their own experience ... They are not confident enough to take risks, and to create meanings based upon visual signifiers and their own experiences” (Smith-Shank, 2004, p. 2)
    6. 6. What is Unpacking? • A five step process for the interpretation and production of creative visual imagery • Phrasing for students: “Images are like suitcases, they have a lot of ‘stuff’ in them. Since they are not real things, they can be understood in many ways. We have to unpack them, like a suitcase, to see everything inside of them.”
    7. 7. Why use Unpacking ?• Unpacking: – Honors a variety of creative visual work – Develops student interpretive process – Can be reversed and applied to production – Utilizes best practices in teaching and learning – Highlights multiple points of view simultaneously – Fosters inquiry
    8. 8. Why Unpack?• Integrates symbol processing and socio-cultural learning into student-owned strategies, an approach advocated for by Efland (2002).• Address James’s (1997) call that art educators should develop “instructional strategies that help both non-art and art majors to feel confident and knowledgeable about the personal, social, domain-specific, and process-based aspects of engaging in artistic creativity” (James, 1997)• Unpacking is best instructed through a student-generated visual organizer, which aids in the development of schemata and increases learning retention (Efland, 2002; Glenberg&Kaschak, 2002; Moreno & Valdez, 2005).• Unpacking highlights connotative and denotative interpretations, as advocated for by Barrett (2003).• Unpacking provides a way for students to understand that images are created for contexts, as well as that images represent a point of view (Duncum, 2010; Freedman, 1996).• Finally, this device provides students a way to metacognitively reflect on their own thinking, an important goal for middle-level learners (Arredondo, Blackburn, Brandt, Marzano, & Moffett, 1997; Marshall, 2005).• Unpacking should be viewed in contrast to interpretive guides like Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) (Housen&Yenawine, 2000).
    9. 9. Unpacking:Actual Function, Emotion, Audience, Image Reference, & Metaphor
    10. 10. Description• What do I see?• Use formal qualities• Increases focus on separating meaning & emotion from descriptive processes
    11. 11. Emotion• What feelings are being communicated?• What feelings am I experiencing?
    12. 12. Elevated Conversations around Emotion “I think that if someone created a spider this big, they are trying to show… if you are afraid of spiders, they would seem big.” “Interesting theory. So a possible conclusion might be that fear can cause thing to be noticed?”
    13. 13. Image References• What images does this one remind me of?• Encourage knowledge from popular culture, personal experiences, social knowledge and, when applicable, art world knowledge.
    14. 14. Audience • Who is this image for? • Who would this image appeal to? • What about this image would make it appealing to that group/individual? • Students can identify gender, age, and interests of the audience as a starting point.
    15. 15. Metaphor• What might this image symbolize?• How can I summarize the theme of the image?• Challenge students to develop one-word themes
    16. 16. Getting started • Description: “What do I see?” • Emotion: “What feelings are being communicated? What feelings am I experiencing?” • Image References: “What images does this one remind me of?” • Audience: “Who is this image for? Who would this image appeal to? What about this image would make it appealing to that group/individual? • Metaphor: What might this image symbolize? How can I summarize the theme of the image? • Continued Inquiry: What questions do I still have?
    17. 17. Part IIAssessment and Scaffolding
    18. 18. Assessment: Design and composition
    19. 19. Assessing Narratives: Convergentthinking and declarative knowledge
    20. 20. Increasing Complexity
    21. 21. Assessment: Elaboration
    22. 22. Assessment: Elaboration
    23. 23. Reverse UnpackingAUDIENCE IMAGE REFERENCES METAPHOR
    24. 24. Thank you! Chris Grodoskicgrodoski@gmail.com

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