Seeing Sideways – Final

Who are you?

Start with demographic data about yourself.

I am a mid-30’s Caucasian male, no children, a full-time student working on a second degree, working part-time and live in a rural area but looking to move to the city.


Think about who you are becoming. This is a little harder. Think about who you were when you started school. Now think about some of the changes you have noticed in yourself since you have started college. Where do you think this might take you? Who would you like to become?

I had a very unsatisfying career as a draftsman for almost 11 years.  I decided to return to school to seek out a career I found more creative and more rewarding.  I started my IUPUI career as a very scared individual.  The students in the Media Arts and Science program are very talented, to the point of being intimidating.  Having to come up with my own ideas has never been a strong suit in my career.  However, over the past year, I have learned the rewards of coming up with ideas and/or finding inspiration from seemingly unlikely places. My classmates and my instructors have taught me how to find inspiration from being intimidated by others’ creativity.


A few changes I’ve notice while pushing my limits creatively is who I am and where I come from.  I’ve had to face some inner demons in order to complete a project or while listening to another student tell a story about their past.  In this I’ve become very comfortable with who I was and who I am now; I can finally envision the person I want to be.  I’ve never been afraid to try a project just beyond my current skill level and fail at it.  But since starting this degree program, I now relish the chance to push my skills even further beyond my current skill level since I have new resources of knowledge in fellow classmates and instructors.


In choosing my drafting career, I believe I was very close to the idea of who I wanted to become.  A technician – someone who helps others ideas come to life.  The engineering world was not the correct place for me to be this person, but that past experience did teach me that this path of wanting to help people bring ideas into being was one I’m passionate about.



Why are you here?

Why are you in this class? I know we discussed this on the first day, but why did you not drop the class? Why are you still here? Then broaden this question and look at why you are in the MAS?  What brought you here? What keeps you here?

I took the class because I’ve always felt I’ve struggled to be creative.  A class that is an experimental approach to creativity sounded like the perfect thing to help me to learn how to access the creative portion of my being that I know exists.  I didn’t drop the class because I fell in love with it from day one and couldn’t wait for each class meeting thereafter.  Seeing Sideways taught me that some of the techniques I’ve used in the past to find my creative side are really good techniques.  The class also taught me how to refine these techniques to become more efficient at accessing my inner creativity.


I’m in the M.A.S. program because I feel it will be the career I’ve been looking for.  A technician helping others bring their ideas to life, while at the same time having to access my own creativity in order to overcome challenges and/or problems in these projects.  What originally brought me to IUPUI was two very simple things: I was unhappy in my current career and wanted to seek out a new one, and I was unhappy that I only have an Associate’s degree.  I really want a Bachelor’s degree just to prove to myself that I can earn it.  The thing that keeps me in the program is the challenge each class brings to me.  Each class I’ve taken has pushed me to grow into the creative problem-solver I want to be.  I love the stress of working on three different projects at once and love that I’ve been able to intertwine some of these projects in ways I never expected to be able to do.


What would you change?

Now that you have considered who you are and why you are here, think about your path in school. Is it what you expected? Is there a clear path that you can see that makes sense to you? What are the limitations you face with achieving your academic goals? What are the opportunities you have been given because of your academic experiences thus far? How many of your academic limitations are self imposed? How many are completely beyond your control?

My path in the program is still undefined to me.  I love learning about anything and everything that interests me.  One limitation I’ve come across is the administration telling me I “have to graduate in 4 years.”  This frustrates me because I know very well that the school gets some incentive money from the state if I graduate in four years and not in five years.  So, in reality, I feel that perhaps the school doesn’t really have my best interests at heart; they just want money.


However, with every negative there is a positive.  Without the proper funding, the MAS program wouldn’t have some of the fine instructors that they have.  Those instructors, in turn, have contacts in the industry I’m seeking to be in.


How would you reimagine your academic world?

Create a plan that would be the perfect solution for you to achieve your academic goals. The sky is the limit. Don’t worry about practical considerations at this point. Create what would be ideal for YOU and try to look at the things in a new way.

The perfect academic world would be having instructors who have real world experience and are willing to share the secrets of how the industries we are seeking to be in truly work.  The building itself would promote students to be creative.  No more plain white walls, no more square desks all in a row and no more plain carpets in each room.  To be creative we, as students, need a creative space.  Being shoved into a white walled, square room and then asked to come up with something inspiring and creative is like shoving a neurosurgeon into a death metal concert and asking them to concentrate and not make a mistake.  Having a place like MARLA for everyone to use to become inspired would be the ideal place.  I want to approach all of my projects, serious to goofy, from a place of “fun.”


How do you think this perfect academic world could be implemented in the real world?

Now that you have brainstormed, it is time to offer some realistic solutions. Looking at what you answered for the pie in the sky part, and see what could realistically be suggested. Try looking at these ideas with a very critical eye, and also from many different angles. Are there any creative solutions that you can find?

My idea of a more inspiring environment is actually achievable.  Different colored paint and new carpet is easy enough to come by.  Even changing the color of the black chairs in the lobby areas to a few different colors is easy.  I understand that black shows the least amount of dirt, but why not navy blue, dark brown, or even dark red?  The MAS school has a huge resource of talented artists.  One idea I have is to hold a mural contest each year and give a wall in one of the rooms to the winner to paint their mural on.  Make it a team painting experience to build unity throughout the school.  Developing another type of space like MARLA, but instead of it having expensive equipment it, the space is more of just lounge area.  Perhaps the top four contest winners can paint those walls in this lounge space each year?  Even changing the room number placards to different colors according to the floor they are located would be something different to create a more exciting environment.


Translate this exercise to other aspects of your life.

Can you make this exercise into a tool to help you approach other things in your life? Your projects? Your job? Your whole life?

For the final exercise please spend some time and critically think about these questions and write your answers to each question on your blog.

Yes, I can use this class, not just the assignment, to help me approach other things in my life.  I’ve always questioned how and why I do things.  This class has really taught me to ask the right questions and how to take a step back and actually find the answers.  One important idea that Seeing Sideways has ingrained in me is that there are times when you need to please your audience and there are times when you only need to please yourself with a project.  There are many things from this class that I will use for the rest of my life, but what they are specifically, I cannot say at this time.  But, I do know that I’ve been given an enhanced set of tools to use and I will use them.

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Seeing Sideways – Creative Tool Kit

My new tool kit:

–       Approach work from a place of fun.

–       Approach the stressful parts of work from a place of fun as well.

–       Keep a list of words to inspire or remind myself of where to approach a project from.

–       Use resources around me to get inspiration or help from.  We can’t do everything on our own.

–       Use inventiveness no matter where it comes from.

–       Use assets from the subject or object.

–       Know who I am, so I’m true to my work.

–       Never be afraid to push myself beyond my skill level.

–       Dream big!

–       Never be afraid to fail!  Failure teaches valuable lessons.

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Seeing Sideways – Fear

Surprise and Sadness.  (more to come with this assignment)

The Fear Assignment:  I was given a multi-step process, using a modified scientific method, of examining what makes me fearful.

  1. Examine the Situation: Fear is a normal, yet sometimes uncontrollable, reaction/emotion that protects us by signaling danger and preparing us to deal with this danger.  Fear used to keep me from experiencing lots of things by myself; going to the movies, trying a new restaurant, or going to see a live band play at a bar.  Over time I’ve decided to use my fear as a motivator to experience new things.
  2. Formulate an Experiment: One fear I do have is telling people about my past and what specific fears I do have.  So, for my fear assignment I’m just going to open up to my peers.
  3. The Outcome: I’m expecting is that my classmates may be a little surprised and/or sad.
  4. Conduct the Experiment: I decided to just share my fear with my peers.
  5. Observe the Reaction: Honestly nobody seemed surprised at all.  Again, to be honest, it didn’t really bother me.  I’ve been dealing with these fears for years and have been taking steps to overcome them.
  6. Analysis of Hypothesis & Outcome: It was more of just overcoming the fear of telling my peers about my past.  Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a huge reaction, it was more of me giving insight to my peers about why I think or do the things that I do.  Why my projects are the way they are and how I get to the root of my ideas when I do my projects.
  7. Proposed Changes:  I actually wouldn’t change anything.  Opening up was a fear, I overcame it, and the world is still in existence.  I have worked through my past and know why I am the way that I am today.  I don’t really want to relive the experience again, it’s time to move forward.
  8. Presentation that Stood Out:  I’ve so far have loved everyone’s presentations.  I just admire the trust that has been built within a class in such a short amount of time to where 16 people are able to share some of their fears with comfort.  Each fear is such a different experience for each individual that they’ve all stood out to me.  If I must pick one thing that stood out to me, it was how one of my classmates and I have lived very similar lives (we also look similar, and have the same glasses … SPOOKY!!!).  Also, Alec and I have shared the same abandonment experience from half a world apart.
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Seeing Sideways – Bliss

(Do not come to class, what I want you to do is to take that 3 hour block of time and instead of coming to the classroom, do whatever it is that makes you happiest. Make sure it is a 3 hour block of time, not stolen moments here and there! It is really important that you go through this process. Creativity thrives on play! Do not blog about what you did.  As soon as you are finished experiencing your bliss, think of what you would want to do if you had absolutely no limitations. Don’t worry about whether or not you have the skills, resources, time, or even physical limitations. Anything goes. If you can dream it, then think about it. The only requirement is that you really want to do it. But it is imperative that you do this mental exercise only AFTER you have completed the bliss assignment. Once you have thought about the possibilities and chosen something, then blog about your unlimited idea. That is all you need to do. Write about what you would like to do if you could do anything you want.)

My bliss task somehow made me angry while doing it.  Assignment task failed, haha!!!  But, to answer the question for the assignment; I would be able to visit my friends anytime I wanted, move to London, work in the movie industry and I would also have whatever is needed so that people can make their dreams come true.  In this assignment I’ve found that I don’t need to do a task for 3 hours in order to put myself into a blissful state, I just have to dream for 30 seconds of what I would like to do.  I was actually angry before starting this, but in just thinking about spending time with friends, having the ways & means to make someone’s dreams a reality, and just the thought of living in London put me into a blissful state of mind.

I am going to do this assignment again due to my total failure and will edit my blog post at a later date.

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Project #4 – Imagine That!

For this exercise, find something in your environment (similar to the previous observation exercise) but this time, imagine something to do with it. Think back on our conversations in class today about how to use your imagination like you did when you were a child. Then do something that you consider to be wildly imaginative based on the thing you observed in your environment. The point is to let yourself really go with this and see what happens.

My instinct for this assignment is create something with my hands.  But events have unfolded to where I just don’t have time to actually create something with my hands.   The events that have unfolded are thus; Wednesday my car, Kumar, decided to break down.  Thursday was spent getting the car to the repair shop and then scrambling to find someway to get up to Winona Lake for my cycling races this weekend.   A friend ended up getting me a killer deal on a rental car and that I picked up Thursday evening.  Friday I had to work in the morning then leave straight from there to drive 3 hours to the north part of the state.  Saturday and Sunday are race days not leaving much time to create something by hand.

One thing that is in my environment is my bicycle, so, I thought I’d tell the story of what I experienced in my first ever road race.

Friday: After arriving in Elkhart, I unload the car and feel really excited to pull the bike out of the trunk and get it all put back together.  Brent and I lay all of the equipment and food out that we’ll need for the race tomorrow, then headed out to our favorite pizza place, Venuri’s.  After dinner we watched the Tour of California and the Giro de Italia race.

Saturday:  I’m typing as I eat a pre-race breakfast, and am feeling excited, nervous and a little antsy.  Brent just asked if I want to do a little warm-up ride of 10 miles.  Yes!  I need to get my legs moving I can’t stand the waiting.

I grab a quick shower after the warm-up ride and then pack the equipment into the truck.  As we are driving the temperature says 83F.  Every 20 minutes it’s raising another degree, it’s going to be a hot race.  An hour later we arrive at the race site.  We get our bib numbers at the registration desk and then watch a friend, Sharla, ride by a few times in the women’s race, while talking to another racing friend, Chad.  The sweat is pouring down my face at this point and it’s just getting hotter as the day wears on.  I get my riding gear on and get the bike ready to ride.  Brent and I head out for a quick warm-up ride and return as the Category 5 field is lining up at the starting line.  The head referee gives us a little speech while the other referee check all of our bib numbers off of his list.  The whistle blows and 50 racers are off for a 28-mile race.

I experienced the race by miles:

Mile 3, the pack is averaging 25 mph and I’m staying with it, a pace I’ve never been able to maintain.  Mile 7 and I’m still in the pack, the sound of carbon fiber humming with the road vibrations, free-wheel bearings clicking and gears shifting is the only noise I can actually “hear”.  Mile 10, the heat starts to attack me and I notice I’m struggling to breathe.  I start to fall off the back of the pack.  Mile 15, the right side of my torso cramps and I realize I’m starting to hyperventilate.  I put all of my concentration into calming the rhythm of my breathing, because if I don’t get it under control I know I’m finished.  Mile 18, my mental strength starts to waiver.  I want to quit and question if I should.  My right side is still cramped, mouth is dry even though I’m taking in fluids, and my legs feel like they are wanting to cramp.  All of a sudden I see a rider in front of me.  I come up on him and draft him for a few minutes.  It’s just long enough to catch my breath and rebuild my mental walls, I will finish this race!  He and I start trading off drafting roles and we catch another 2 riders.  Now there are 4 of us to share the workload, but at mile 19 one of the riders falls off the back.  Mile 21, it’s my turn to pull the pack and all of a sudden I feel it.  It’s the small twinge, that small hint, that my muscles give me right before they cramp.  All of sudden both of my calves cramp and my right hamstring threatens to cramp as well.  It’s the heat, my body won’t absorb liquids as fast as it’s expelling it as sweat and my body too dehydrated to keep pushing my muscles at the rate I have been for the last 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Turning to the guys behind me I have to declare that I’m cramped and cannot continue with them.  They tell me sorry and wish me luck as they pass me.  Mile 21!  I have one more 7 mile lap, do I quit now after coming this far or do I block my pain and finish?  I know I’m severely dehydrated, I’m having trouble controlling my breathing as well, due to being on the verge of heat exhaustion, but I still have a few bricks of my mental wall up and they scream to solider on.  So, I pass the start/finish line to complete my last 7 mile lap.  Mile 22, I think, this isn’t so bad I can do this.  Mile 23, why did I decide to continue?  Every fiber in my body aches and is wishing for a rest.  Mile 24, the heat is all I can seem to feel surrounding me.  Mile 25, the cramps in my legs and the cramp in my side are screaming at me to just quit, but I know there’s only 3 more miles left.  Mile 26, all 3 of my water bottles are now empty, but, somehow I’ve shut out the pain of my body.  Mile 27, all I can taste is the sickly bitter taste of salt as the sweat pours down my face.  Then I hear 2 volunteers yell, “Keep on going you’re almost there!”  All of sudden I see it, the finish line, and I cross it at mile 28.  I did it!  As Brent and I are getting our results later in the day, we learned the heat index was 95 F.  I’m proud of how I did considering the heat, the fact that I’ve never raced a distance race before, and in total that was my 3rd race ever.  As I type this, and apologies for a lot of grammar errors due to being exhausted, I’m in the truck on the way back to Brent’s place.  On the agenda when we back: recover as fast as we can because we have a Criterium race in the morning.  Yes, we cyclists are a bit masochistic.

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Seeing Sideways – Get down with your unique self!

Get down with your unique self!

(Taking up where we left off on the discussion today about perception and awareness, spend time over the course of the next couple days to observe your surroundings. See if you can perceive or experience something that is completely unique to you that no one else has noticed. Try to do this at least 3 times and document your findings on your blog.)

Asking if I can perceive or experience something that is unique and in the same question asking if nobody else has notice it are two completely different subject matters that cannot be compared, apples to oranges if you will.  On a fundamental level of “experiencing something” we need to consider time line.  If I notice an insect on a tree branch and I’m the only one around, yes for that instant in time it’s a unique “experience”.  But, what about further down the timeline?  What if a group of 20 people walk by and they all see the same insect?  Is it still a unique experience?  Yes and no.

Again, on the fundamental level, seeing the insect on a tree branch is not unique.  If we take a timeline of just 70 years, how many individuals have seen an insect on a tree branch?  I would venture to say billions.  What that insect is narrowed down to a specific species?  Sure, the number drops, but is that new number small enough to call the experience unique?  What if we narrow down the experience further by being more specific and say it has to be a specific species of insect, a specific city, and a specific tree in that city?  Is it still unique experience over a 70-year time span?

However, how each of us experiences an event is unique to us as individuals.  Barring any disabilities, all of us can put a hand into a bucket of water and feel that it’s wet.  But, do we all feel the same thing as our hands are submerged?  Do we all actually feel the temperature of the water the exact same way?  Is the texture of the water the exact same feeling on everyone’s flesh?  The feeling may spark a memory or emotion, is that memory or emotion the exact same for every person that puts their hand into the water?  An example of this is Almond Cookies, they remind me of Christmas.  Are there other individuals in the world where Almond Cookies remind them of Christmas?  I would venture to say I’m not unique in this regard, but the exact feelings, emotions, and sensory inputs that are seared into my brain are quite unique to me.  For now there is no technology or mind-meld that will allow us as individuals to experience another persons exact emotions or senses.  With that said, I experience something unique to me every second of everyday.  Yes, there are others who share in my environment but they don’t experience what I experience.

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What Do I Remember?

Seeing Sidways – What Do You Remember?

(Please discuss on your blog the thing that stuck out most for you from class today. Why do you remember it? How do you think it might help you on your path of creative exploration?)

The thing from class that stuck out for me most was a comment made by Alex in regards to how she was awed and possibly intimidated by the creativity of the class.  I feel the same way everyday as a Media Arts and Science student.  Looking at what the other students create (stories, artwork, comics, games, etc.), how do I compete with that level of creativity and where do I fit in?  In fact, not too long ago, I considered quitting the MAS program because of that feeling of being creatively inadequate.

Why do I remember that comment?  Being creative is a HUGE struggle for me, because it doesn’t come very easy.  Perhaps it doesn’t come as easy as I feel it should?  But, that’s a different discussion topic.  Most days I feel the same way as Alex, I’m in awe and, for me, have that feeling of why try, my stuff is not nearly as creative as what I know others will produce.  Due to my engineering background, I consider most of my “art” cold and calculated.  But, in the reflection I did before deciding to continue on or not in the program, I learned that there is a lot of beauty in what I can do, even if it is “calculated”.  I’ve also discovered that there are things I find simple that other students have a very difficult time doing.  Just one example of this is building snare drums from scratch.  There has to be something unique about my approach that is needed in this world.

Over the past year I decided to start breaking free of the engineering side of my creativity and just start to “play”.  I will never fully let go of my calculated approach to art, it’s part of what makes my talent unique.  However, that feeling of being creatively inadequate is now more of a motivation to try something new than it is a hindrance or a fear.  Hopefully Alex will feel the same way someday soon.  We, as MAS students, don’t have the same talents as other classmates and that’s the exciting part of why we are MAS students.

Adding a picture of just a small amount of things I’ve done.  I like to look back on my past projects and remember the all the emotions & experiences with each one.

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