Friday, July 22, 2016

A picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes the written word is just as beautiful: A reading response

Before I die, Candy Chang, New Orleans 2011

In a prolific example of participatory art, New Orleans artist Candy Chang has created an epidemic of expression, hope, and prosperity through her expansive graffiti murals. Much like the participation necessary for an affinity 'convo' to take place, or the public annotation of an article, without the participation of the people around it, there is nothing.

Before I die....  I hope to inform and inspire as many people possible about whiteness, art and humility.

These are the words that one day I hope to write on an inspired Chang mural at school or in the community. Unlike many artist, Chang holds no authority over her work, it reminds me a lot of my time in ILT5340. Chang has set out to inspire, teach and inform people about reflecting, hoping, believing and coming together in disparity, to do so she has presented the same philosophies of critical digital pedagogy to mural painting, though she is the artist, she wants people to take the idea of the mural and create their own, in a way remixing her own work to be individualistic in each community it is painted. Chang offers DIY instructions, including ideas on seeking approval for public spaces along with a shopping list of materials that can be purchased from a distributor or on the makers own terms. The the original mural was painted in New Orleans, after Chang lost a loved one and was unsure how to cope, she turned to the public, and together the healing began.

"Before I die..." now appears around the world, in over 70 different countries, and has made its mark on the digital world as well, though Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I find Chang's work to be both inspirational and controversial, as it causes use to think about the inevitable death, an uncomfortable subject like speaking and reflecting on whiteness.
It was through deep reflection that both McIntosh and Chang are able to invoke emotion and deep thought. So impassioned about whiteness theory, it was hard to sit back and only read comments, as I now imagine that it is hard for a instructor or professors to do. I wanted to see what people would write on the 'wall', before participating myself. The convo this week was great, participation was high, as I expected with such a controversial subject, I wish that as many participants joined in on the Critical digital pedagogy article as well, as to me the two really went hand in hand. Participation is key in both scenarios, rather it is teaching about digital affinities or whiteness, both seem to work best at an even playing field where no one is named the be all say all. 

As I look through the many "before I die" walls, it reminds me of McIntosh's long list of the  daily effects of white privilege, some are obvious, just as people write to end hunger or for world peace, but then it goes much deeper, when we are forced to reflect on those things that go beyond economics, and dive into the truly invisible. In any participatory act there will be the passioned people that go beyond 'ya, me too' and 'I feel the same', and will truly express and reflect and this is what makes critical digital pedagogy and Chang's work so moving. The allowance to be and say what you are in a space that is relatively secure, and opens the door to truly learning about one and other. This is learning, my friend, these are the experiences that will guide our decisions in the future, the act of participation has built a memory bank of how to receive and output communication to solve problems, create and change the world we live in. 
As the course comes to a close, I have completely changed my perception of digital stories, their importance in education and my own existence. It has taken a while, and like the few that are reading McIntosh for the first time, it was hard, as change in a belief is. The idea of remixing continues to surface, as I hope people will read 'Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" and think of their own situations that may not be listed where in their own whiteness has affected the people around them. There will be non- believers, and the can't changers, but in time as we all use the tool of reflection, to really look deep we can hope that racism and equity will change, like a hopeless heart after loosing a loved one, it takes participation on a community level to heal... 

Before I die....

So, What would write.... what would you do...

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