As I mentioned in my first post, my DH capstone project is a little different than most. In a few months, I will run a weeklong summer camp, in partnership with the Iowa Youth Writing Project (IWYP). Participants—all of whom will be young women—will talk about body image, explore the function of photography as an art medium, and reflect on their identities. The end result? Each participant will create a “disembodied self portrait” (a photograph that represents her, without her physical presence in the image) and a brief reflection to explain the image. These photographs and reflections (all anonymous) will be featured as a gallery at FilmScene. They will also appear on a WordPress site.
Since my last blog post, some of my attention has been dedicated to putting up a WordPress site. As you can see from the images below, the blog itself is minimalist. As I noted in my first post, I want the blog to be simple and easy to navigate, and I want the images to capture attention. You can still click the “About” link in the menu for more information about the project, but chances are, once the images are actually in place, you’ll find yourself more interested in looking at the anonymous self-portraits and reading the accompanying reflections.
In all honesty, my pace has been pretty slow throughout the semester. I assumed this would happen to some degree, because so much of this project depends on the work I do in the summer. I can’t populate this site until I have the images and reflections. As a result, it’s made it difficult for me to have a sense of accomplishment at the end of this capstone. I’m trying to frame the capstone around the creation of an actual digital gallery, but again, because the gallery is designed to prioritize the girls’ images over anything else, it’s difficult for me to actually appreciate what I have so far.
Moving forward, my biggest concern is finalizing a clear lesson plan with enough flexibility to accommodate for the inevitable rabbit holes we’ll fall down. I want to have enough flexibility that, if the workshop attendees are especially interested in one area of the project (photography, say, or art), we have the time and the ability to really explore that. I hope that this workshop will serve as a good example of designing a collaborative project–I don’t want these girls to be my students so much as my co-collaborators, co-thinkers, and co-doers.
I think this project has a lot of potential moving forward. It can serve as inspiration for people to design similar projects, perhaps for different audiences. More importantly, though, I’d like it to serve as an invitation to rethink what a “digital humanities” project should look like. I’ve appreciated the support I’ve received from the Studio with this work, as nobody told me it wasn’t “digital” enough for a capstone project. I feel like I’ve had the space to really meld my own interests in embodiment, photography, and life writing with the digital humanities certificate, and for that, I am grateful. I can’t wait to see how this project develops over the summer!