Internet as Metaphor Often the language arts classes will discuss metaphor and simile within their curriculum. I find the topic of metaphor highly relevant within the arts too. This lesson will not only touch on metaphors it will introduce visual culture. The class will be asked to define a metaphor. If they come up with a dictionary meaning that’s acceptable, but I will be posing questions to them to expand upon the concepts and relationships of metaphor found in our technologically driven culture. This lesson will be gauged towards high school levels, 11th-12th grades. Material(s): Camera, any camera will do iPhone, ipod, digital, or traditional film camera. As long as the image can be extracted from the device and printed. A ten-minute ‘bell ringer’ will be conducted to introduce the topic. Visuals provided will include: Barbara Kruger, http://www.barbarakruger.com/ Bruce Mau http://www.brucemaudesign.com/ Claes Oldenburg http://hyperallergic.com/46882/happenings-new-york-1958-1963-pace-gallery/ This will be a weeklong lesson. Starting on a Friday so the class has time to go to locations during the weekend. First though, the class will have to jot down some responses on some paper, journal page, or sketchbook from a series of questions listed on the board/or handout. Questions include: What’s a metaphor? What’s symbolism? How would you define Internet? How do you use the Internet? GOAL: Students will take a metaphor or create one that resembles their relationship, understanding, and/or interpretation of the Internet. Students will be challenged because they will be faced with generating and testing hypotheses (environments) as well as identifying similarities and differences with their metaphors. Some metaphor selections include: The Internet is an information superhighway. The Internet is a giant flea market or thrift shop. The Internet is a coffee shop. The Internet is a digitalized library. Once the student has created or selected their metaphor they will be asked to photograph the metaphor from a live environment. Example, the student goes to the local thrift shop and snaps a picture of the outside location. The shop front will not be enough; the student will need to go into the environment. The piece should ideally be a piece that captures action between humans. The learning goal is for the student to begin to process the act of looking at environments as a developing Internet. The student is to also explain their interpretations by citing signs within the image that proves their opinions, feelings, and notions. There will be a group assessment at the end of the unit that will engage all students to question, explore, and view each other’s works. Initial questions may be: What’s going on in this picture? What do you see? What do you not see? How are people interacting within your piece? Would you call this a live Internet? This unit would create discussion and relationships among the class because the environments depicted would either be familiar, new, or similar to the student’s own piece. The result would be that the class realizes that they are daily taking part in a live Internet by interacting with a body of people. How does this unit project relate to the readings? The readings were focused upon understanding and accepting visual culture as a facet within art education, stated clearly by Freedman, “art education is about visual culture”(Freedman, 2000, 319). Popular visual culture is current and taking place daily. Whether or not it is a valid art form/topic is up for further discussion and review. This unit is slightly abstracted from the point of visual culture by focusing upon the Internet. The Internet really is the foundation for current visual culture. There is so much generated information and images daily that it is a mass that keeps growing. The goal for the unit is to help students recognize other forms for Internet in an outside environment that is not purely digital. I employed some of Tavin’s questions (modified) within the assignment as well as some perspectives about communal identities. Barbara Kruger, http://www.barbarakruger.com/ Bruce Mau http://www.brucemaudesign.com/ Claes Oldenburg http://hyperallergic.com/46882/happenings-new-york-1958-1963-pace-gallery/ For another outside source/reference for tattoos (from the oriental studies) you could use Longfellow's Tattoos: Tourism, collecting, and Japan by Christine Guth. It's a work that documents the curiosity the Americans had about early tattooing from the orient, tourism, and the need to collect foreign items. The text could supply more background history for the popularity of tattooing.