Internet as Metaphor Often the language arts classes will discuss

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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.
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