Saturday, January 22, 2011

Episode: Literature

Problem: The kid has to write a fictional story for his class, but he does not see the point of writing fiction because he does not think it serves a purpose in the real world. The Imaginauts need to show him that literature is great for learning!

Possible worlds/people to visit:
1. Dr. Seuss -- The world should look very Seuss-ical (but not so much that it's copying...). Dr. Seuss talks in really strange rhyme-y ways and explains why it's good to allow your mind to stray into the fictional world.
2. Edgar Allen Poe -- This part can be really dark and creepy (maybe even scary?), and it should show how real and inspiring literature can be.
3. Greek Gods and Goddesses on Mount Olympus -- (because we wanted to include mythology) They would obviously talk about Greek myths and explain how the lessons from these myths helped people in real life.

Episode: Music!

The kid is being forced to take piano lessons/practice piano, even though he thinks it's lame. Also, his dad is a professional musician, so his entire family thinks music is really important, but this IDIOT of a kid disagrees.

Possible worlds/people to visit:
1. The Baroque period - the Imaginauts appear in a garden with a bunch of little kids playing. A woman comes out and yells for "Wolfgang" to come entertain. So all the kids run inside, and a 10 year old Mozart plays the harpsichord while people dance.
2. The Doors - there's a 60's, Yellow Submarine-inspired world; we meet the Doors playing in the middle of a desert with a bunch of hippies dancing around. The lesson the kid should learn from this world is that music is all about feeling and that it should only be taken but so seriously. He should have fun with it!
3. Jazz -- Louis Armstrong..?
4. Pop music -- Lady Gaga (we could show her crazy pop side as well as her softer, acoustic side)
5. SO MANY OTHER OPTIONS! I think the main thing we have to worry about here is showing a variety of different styles of music from all different cultures and time periods.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Episode: Printing!


Jost Amman, Standebuch (book of trades)
Portrait of Johannes Gutenberg
Hokusai: Mount Fuji
Hogarth: Gin Lane

I was having a hard time figuring out what worlds to visit without a definite problem to solve. So I made one!

“Real World” Characters

Rick--an aspiring poet
Esteban--ricks friend, a doodler whose dad prints a small, unpopular tabloid magazine (like a local Weekly World News, or, if it strikes your fancy, like the Quibbler.)

These were the first names I could think of.

Standard school hallway: Esteban is sitting by the door of the library, doodling. He hears a commotion coming from inside, gradually getting louder as he puts away his drawing, shoulders his bag, and moves a step to the right. The sound reaches its peak as Rick, fuming and talking angrily to himself, throws the door open, striking the spot esteban would have been if he had not moved. Rick does not stop to talk, and Esteban immediately takes up a station beside him as he fumes and continues to stamp away from the library.

R: Hacks! Great hacking hackered hacks!
E: Hacks.
R: (not noticing Esteban’s lack of emotion) I know, right? That bunch of razzle-frazzle-hornswaggling low down etc etc.....
E: I’m guessing you didn’t get to be in the school newspaper?
R: As IF I would work with those intellectual nematoads! They think the entire world revolves around these hallways. Which brand of headband is “cool” right now. The new lunch menu in the cafeteria, with 30% less mayonnaise. Like my poems make less interesting reading material than an interview with the night janitor! Sorry, Ray.

Ray: don’t worry about it
(Ray, the night janitor who they just passed, doesn’t even look up from scraping a piece of gum off the water fountain)

Rick: If I can’t be published in the school paper, I’ll never make the contacts I need to get my work seen by the people in charge of notifying the editors who can get me noticed by the board who gives out poetry awards and Katherine Sporkles in my algebra class will never notice me!
E: She noticed your last poem.
R: And she made me clean all of that marker off of her locker... sigh...

They step outside, more talking.

R: Wait, doesn’t your dad run a newspaper?
E: My dad? Well... yeah, if you want to call it that... (eveasive)
R: I could publish in there! With your drawings to illustrate my beautiful words! (striking a pose) Hark! Yonder fair maiden, whose plum eyes sparkle buckets of diamond glitteringly into the air, air, air.
clean, mountain air, made sweet with the smell of fighter planes dropping heavy gourds with ruby fruit onto the ground below, the ground which is me...

E: I don’t know, my dad’s newspaper is sort of....

(Cut to an extreeeeeme close up of his dad, in the room which doubles as his office and his bedroom)

Dad: Weirrrrrd!

(he is examining something closely. A bug? A piece of moldy bread? not sure yet)

(door opens, closes.)
E enters, with Rick in tow: Hey Dad.
R: Hey Mr Whatever.
Dad: (abandons looking at the bug, bread, whatever) hey guys. how was school?

As esteban kicks off his shoes and walks through the hallway, we see that there are magazine test sheets hanging from every conceivable surface, all smeared with ink. He chats with his dad, and it becomes clear to use that his magazine is neither reputable nor profitable.

We zoom in on a picture in one of the pages hung on the wall. It is a crude drawing of a strange creature, with a ridiculous title next to it. (You know how some magazines have artist’s interpretations of bigfoot or the mothman or something? Yeah.) When the edge of the screen is lined up with the edge of the picture, the little creature comes alive. We have entered ImagiNation.

The creature moves around a little, examines a painted bush, and is almost instantly caught in a butterfly net wielded by one of the Imaginauts, who are dressed in wacky safari clothes.

Imaginaut 1 (names!): A Fur-Toothed Bumblebutt! And this late in the season, too!

Imaginaut 2 : (makes a checkmark on their clipboard) If we find a Snark before noon, we’ll be way above quota for the Imagizoo.

1: My friend Jack saw one fly through a Manet the other day. We should head over to--huh

(the imaginaut peeks through the window into the real world that we recently passed through, and sees Esteban and Rick working in their respective notebooks. They look a little frustrated.)

1: Who’s that?

2: I don’t know--


#2 whips out a portable computer sensor thing


The imaginauts look at each other, nod, and get into the waiting vehicle (in a very extreme way). The little imaginary creature, apparently forgotten, takes a hesitant step towards the bushes, but a mechanical arm from the imagijeep (because it’s a safari?) grabs it and pulls it into the car.

Passing through gin lane and beer st, we visit the city of print. Characters of the alphabet hop around the imaginauts’ feet like birds. We follow them to Gutenberg’s press, where they’re printing out the Gutenzine. (they wouldn’t STILL be working on that bible, come on.)

The artcentric imaginaut only wants to look at the Durers and the Hokusais, which jostle each other amiably in the jumble of crosshatching and flat blocks of color that make up the print city. that is, until they see (and hear) some Lutherans being thrown out of a window, and the historynaut explains (maybe with a little animation?) how the printed word was a sea change in the course of human history.

They learn how a letterpress works, how engravings were made, and they go to the print city zoo to see Durer's rhinocerous! (so it connects to the beginning of the episode?)

Guys let's do it. We are going to get kids excited about printing!

I spent too much time on this episode and I don't have Comics/Animation figured out as well. I will get on it.

Episode: Sculpture, Architecture

Possible title:
Boxed in

Episode: Sculpture, Fashion

Possible titles:
?? This is getting hard

Episode: Color and Light

I think it would be an interesting conceptual episode to deal with the interaction between the seeing and the blind, and find a way for our problem character to explore the different ways to explain what seeing is like, or how the senses can be conveyed in alternative means. Think of it as a synesthesia episode!

Possible problems:
Our problem character is hosting a foreign exchange student at his/her house for a night. Suprise suprise when the student ends up being blind.
A kid and his parents are visiting his blind grandmother.
A kid loses his glasses and has to go through a school day without them.

The artists could be musicians who try to convey the idea of color/vision, and artists who portray other things than the visual with their art.

Episode: Photography

Possible titles:
Pouting Portraits
Impatient Pam, Look at the Cam!

TV and Theatre

6. TV - Allie (videogames, video art, filmmaking)
 - Anti-TV parent

Possible Titles (lol I tried my best):
Get Rid-eo of Videos??
Television Rescission!
"You'll Melt Your Eyes Out!" (A Christmas Story anyone?)

Problem: A kid whose parents are anti-tv. There is no tv in the house because "videogames and tv shows can rot your brain!" says his mom as he sulks and goes back to twiddling his thumbs. What's the point of tv if it rots your brain? There has to be something more to it!

Possible Artists/Art:

This is something I forgot to ask you guys about. How are we representing video art and videogames in the show? We may be able to show some actual clips of really old things, but video art and videogames are a relatively new kind of art, so it's history doesn't go back far enough for us to be able to use actual art. Also, lots of video art is actually not appropriate for kids. I'm also having trouble relating video game artsits to the art world because it is so similar to animation!

In 1878 Eadweard Muybridge photographed a horse named "Occident" in fast motion using a series of 12 stereoscopic cameras. This is considered the first motion picture.

Life of an American Fireman (1903): The first edited film by Edwin S. Porter who worked for Thomas Edison's company. This film introduced the idea of showing the same event from mulitple points of view. But instead going back and forth between a shot of what firemen were doing on the outside and what they were doing on the inside, the whole inside scene was shown then afterwards what was going on on the outside was shown. The film is on youtube and available for download, since it was made in 1903 is there even a copyright for it?

Nam June Paik is considered to be the first video art artist. In 1971 he made a cello out of 3 tv sets stacked up on each other and some cello strings, and he had a famous cellist play the "cello" ( This shows that what goes on the tv screen can be a part of something bigger and more hands on! Tv isn't just for sitting and watching, it can be used to express more than one idea at once!

Charlie Chaplin- Director of the silent film era!Most famous for "The Little Tramp" (1910). I think silent films would be an important part of film history to explore. We could have the imaginauts be in a mini silent film of their own with accompanying piano music.

Possible Pass Through Worlds:

silent Black and white world with piano music going in the background and everyone is sped up! They go through this world and get chased by a bandit! Maybe he could be wearing and "Imagi-NOT" tshirt to briefly introduce that concept without actually having a fight!

Smellovision world! Smell-o-vision was a system that released odor during the projection of a film so that the viewer could "smell" what was happening in a movie.

3D land! We could make a red a blue world then distort it to look a little fuzzy, as if you're watching a 3d film without your glasses, and the Imaginauts would be wearing glasses. WOAH! There's a comet coming right at them!! This segment could be in a movie theatre, much like Mystery Science Theatre 300 where the Imaginauts silhouttes could be sitting in a theater (

7. Theater - Allie (performance art, fluxus)
 - oral presentation
 - English class presentation
 - school play but not superstar - they only have two lines and they have stage fright

Possible Titles: ?

Problems: A kid has stage fright and has two lines in the class play. What's the point if he only has two lines anyways? No one will even remember his small role in the play!

Possible Artists/Art:

Dionysia: a large festival in Ancient Athens named after the god Dionysus, the central theatre event starting in 400 BC. This is where tragedy/comedy, and the greek chorus was born.

SHAKESPEARE. 16th and 17th century playwrite. Romeo and Juliet.

Performance art began in the middle ages with jesters. Mime artists in Great Britain were also considered performance art.

Allan Kaprow is a performance and fluxus artist most known for his "Happenings" of the 1960's, which directly involved his audience. In one example of a Happening he created involved bringing people into a room containing a large abundance of ice cubes, which they had to touch, causing them to melt and bringing the piece full circle.

4'33'' by John Cage was a musical/performance piece that had no music at all. The sheet music to the composition is blank. There are three movements to the "silent" piece, during which Cage sits at his piano in silence, sometimes flipping the sheet music pages. He would perform this piece in many different locations: on the streets of New York, in a small crowded room, and in a music chamber hall in front of a full audience. The piece isn't meant to be perceived as just silence, for each time it was performed, the noise in the surrounding environment was payed more attention to, because the audience's ears were open and waiting to hear something. Sometimes the piece would be noises of New York, and sometimes it would be the person in the audience who sneezed and the rain falling on the roof.

I think this shows that even the simplest of ideas can be art. The kid may not have many lines in the play, and is "silent" most of the time, but that doesn't mean his part isn't important. There could be a time were he has to portray an important "pause" moment before speaking?

Possible Pass Through Worlds:

A mime world, where nobody talks!
A Shakespearian world where everybody talks too much and uses strange old english words that the imaginauts can't understand! Everyone in this dramatic theatre world is either bearing a huge gaping smile or a tragic frown!

Paintings as Backgrounds

We haven't discussed the technical aspect of scenery building very much, but these photoshopped paintings are exactly what I had in mind.

We should

-find high resolution scans of paintings (which we'll have to do no matter what)
-decide if we want to
-print the paintings out and arrange them in mock 3d for our puppets to explore
-figure out how to do this in photoshop or and use a green (blue?) screen to place the puppets into the scene or
-do something else?
-decide when to tour the van gogh wing of imagination world. wow.

How did everyone else see the paintings represented?

Episode: Art is Everywhere

Possible titles:
Dull Drew, Here's to You
World Weary, Art Leery
Don't Frown, Art's All Around

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Corralling Copyright

I found this chart that can help us determine what is and is not in the public domain. Before we have our meetings with MK and the Cinema and KI departments, we can use it to separate what we think we need permission for and what we think is fair game.

Sun Prints

You can make the above just by getting special photosensitive behavior and laying objects on it. It's called a cyanotype, and the directions are here.

For the budget friendly version, you can just lay objects onto dark colored construction paper in full sunlight for about an hour, like below.

Episode Topics/Assignments

#) Topic - Assignee (possible world/subjects within)
 - potential problems

List after the jump


These are actually super easy to make, but cutting glass becomes a safety issue for the little ones. Conveniently, they sell mirrored styrene, which you can cut with scissors and will give you similar results! Unfortunately, mirrored styrene can be a tad pricey.

This one is pretty clear, the pictures are a little sparse
This one has silly specifics on supplies, but it has better pictures!

Generally, you just need to have a tube (cardboard paper towel rolls work) and inside of it have three mirrored surfaces in a triangle, all facing inward. You can build a chamber at one end to make a kaleidoscope, or you could leave that end open and it will be a teleidoscope, with the world as your experience!

Building the chamber for objects might be a little tricky for our audience, so I'm an advocate for the teleidoscope. Alternatively, this too is a good solution:

Handmade Kites

So conveniently, this guy already has compiled a list of kite tutorials, in case we want to include this into our show too. My favorite one that he cited was the one with PBS & Benjamin Franklin teaming up to make a great tutorial. Kites are a little tricky because there is definitely a pass/fail aspect to them. I mean, if your kite doesn't work, it doesn't work.

Also, I think before we decide on any particular craft to put into the show, we should definitely test run it--like how people test recipes before they put them into cook books. I'd hate to accidentally set up our little Imaginauts-in-Training for failure!

Batik with Glue

Batik is a traditional way to dye fabric, usually using hot wax to draw out a design and then dying it over. The wax is a resist for the dye, and when it is removed, it leaves a white or a light colored design. For the above example, the white part of the design is what was covered up initially. For kids, you can just use gel glue to get similar results without the burns!


Tutorials online:

A drawback to this technique is that it takes overnight for the glue to dry before you can paint/dye on top of it, so there definitely isn't much instant gratification.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Episode: Dance!

I was going to save this for our meeting tomorrow, but then I wrote it out and I mean why bother.

For the Dance episode, I was thinking that we could arrive at Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie, where the lines and blocks of the painting are dancing and changing color all around the characters like some sort of crazy colorful city that was constantly rearranging itself. Mondrian, all blockliney, comes and shows the imaginauts how to dance with the city. Maybe we invite him to our imagirave later?

I like the idea of bridging different forms of art together, blurring the lines of genre until we see nothing but the act of creation. Dancing>painting. Stage lighting>Caravaggio? A writer of historical fiction visits a museum to better understand the mindset of itinerant nobles at the height of the rococo, and ends up imagining themselves into the paintings? That one might not work so well.

Still! Chase down those elusive Hyper-Lynx, guys!

Here are some words that Lynda Barry said and I read:

"What if drawing was a way to get to a certain state of mind that was very good for us? And what if this certain state of mind was more important than the drawing itself?

I believe making lines and shapes and coloring them in can still help us in the way it helped us when we were kids. When we used paper as if it were a mere place rather than a thing. A place where something alive can happen through motion. The motion of our bare hands--the original digital devices; wireless; bio fueled; completely ours."


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Notes from an early brainstorming session!

A while ago, Jonathan and I got together and talked about some stuff...
Here are the notes I took!

List of Episode Ideas:
- Filmmaking
- Exploring
- Music
- Cooking
- Dance
- Architecture
- Painting
- Journalism
- Animation
- Typography
- Printing/Engraving
- Color and Light
- Theater

First Episode:
- Imaginauts graduate from the Imaginaut Academy
- Head of the Academy (David--like the sculpture) calls them into his office and tells them that levels on the Imagimometer are dangerously low, and that he needs them to begin inspiring immediately
- There will be some sort of explanation of what the Imaginauts do, and then a normal episode will follow

I'm not sure if anything we came up with for that first episode still applies, but it was in my notes, so I included it. We'll figure it out next time we meet :)

1/17 Ideas

-       We need pins or vests or sashes or badges or t-shirts or aprons or hats or rings or something! We could even show making them as our first craft???
-       Maybe we could write Linda Berry and ask for her support and quote permission?

Show Composition

Each Show
- Composed of 8 or 9 basic parts:
- Theme/Intro
- Introduction of client character and problem
- Off to help! World 1
- World 2
- Check-up on client character
- World 3
- Return and Inspire!/Resolution
- Closing theme/credits
- Optional: craft/quote of the day!
- Composed of 8 or 9 work elements:
- Choose and research a topic
- Choose specific artists/subject matter to deal with in the show
- Determine specific necessary works of art
- Cite those pieces
- Write the script
- Make the necessary new characters and set
- Shoot video/animate
- Record sounds and voiceovers
- Edit
- Publish/produce
- Burn to a dvd
- Eventually release on online accounts

1/17 Questions

-       Where are the copyright lines drawn? How much of an image can we use/how much do we have to disguise it? Are our repoductions of actual images infringement?
-       Can we get a video camera plz?
-       Public Access channels? Can we use tv studio equip??

1/17 Worldly

-       the imaginauts interact with other imaginary characters in ImagiNation
-       The Imaginauts never interact directly with the subject/character they’re helping. “Secret Muses”
-       “Surprise technology” – things that just work, with no explanation or introduction. Ex: ‘Where are we?’ ‘Oh hold on I’ll check.’ Pulls out a seed, plants it, a compass rose springs up. ‘Aha! Thataway!’
-       Imagimometer – main and handheld.
-   Main: large complex towering device topped with a weathervane – keeps track of the world’s imaginative flow
-   Handheld: shows us a picture of the episode’s client character, with a dial going from bored/frustrated to inspired – icons for those states change with each show.
-       there is no anonymous 3rd person narrator ever – we always know the person talking

Episode Brainstorming

1. Television episode
2. Videogames
3. Comics
4. Imaginauts are given assignments that are the reverse of their specialty
5. Postmodernism
6. Performance art
7. Sound art
8. Video

Specific Problems:
1. Supermarket dissatisfaction
2. Cooking conundrums with a chef

Also, given that our first episode is basically our pilot, we decided that we would need to fit a typical Imaginauts episode in alongside exposition with all The Imaginauts knitty gritty. It should probably be double length to accommodate all of the things we want to fit inside of it.

The basic outline of the pilot:
1. Exposition of academy/Imaginauts
2. Problem
3. Assignment
4. Pan through a kaleidoscopic view of all the painting worlds (perhaps even sneak peaks of worlds to come in the next episodes!)
5. The first painting world they visit
6. The second painting world they visit
7. Resolution

The Sounds of the Imaginauts

We need to be aware of how we use sound in our show. Dead silence and lack of background noise can be as distracting as too much sound.

Musical moments in our show:
1. Our major theme song, which would occur at the beginning of each episode
2. Mini themes, which occur when certain actions happen, e.g. traveling in the tower always occurs with the same/similar music
3. Specific musical styles appropriate for each painting world we visit. Techno for futurism?

In addition to music, we can also incorporate ambient background noise.

Craft Segment

We've decided that we should have a do-it-yourself-with-our-help craft segment for our show. It would occur at the end of the show after the plot has been resolved, and each show would possibly incorporate each craft we teach within the set/puppets/etc. Teaching with applications!

Post all your ideas about interesting and easy crafts that our viewers would appreciate, plus directions or links to more info!

Already on the list:
1. Kites
2. Batik with glue
3. Origami
4. Marbled paper (and paper treatments in general)
5. Sock monkeys (copyrighted?)

Things we got, thing's we've not


  • Stop Motion Camera (2 - Emily and Jonathan)
  • Green Screen Room (KI Dept)
  • Wood Shop (2 - Sculpture and Daigle)
  • Metal Shop (Sculpture)
  • Sound Recording Room (KI)
  • Animation Studio (VisArt Center)
  • Sewing machine (2 - Ha, Emily, and we can probs borrow 2 more - Mama Herr, Leah)
  • Industrial Sewing Machine (Sculpture)
Not (yet!):
  • Instruments for theme and topical music!
  • Quality video camera - hound MK, KI, etc. 

The Worlds in Imaginauts

Because the Imaginauts are traveling inside and interacting with paintings, we need to make sets for where they travel (obv). The ImagiNATION is a place where paintings and artists can interact with each other and the scenery blends multiple artistic styles together. The paintings and artists are ghettoized, so paintings by one artist are generally found near or around each other, and paintings and artists with similar styles tend to be geographically located near to one another as well.

There are certain hot spots that are popular for characters from paintings to hang out. Famous paintings are celebrities and hot spots within the ImagiNATION. Think of the Mona Lisa as someone who would be like Madonna in pop culture.

To make each world a little distinct, we should use specific colors to differentiate them. I bet Rococo would be pink and pastel green! Also, how the world is depicted depends on the style of the paintings that exist in it.

The Imaginauts Aesthetic

1. Simple
2. Flat colors, with simple textures (possibly created by stamps!)
3. Bright colors (usually) with white for contrast and minimal black
4. Obviously handmade, we are not machines!

Characters of the ImagiNATION

So our show has two main characters, a boy and girl duo, as of yet unnamed. We've decided that the girl should specialize in history and the boy in art. Within the show, their physical form changes, but their 3D puppets are their "true" selves. If they are in a certain painting, the aesthetics of the painting world they enter alters their physical appearance, but they still retain some obvious physical features that distinguish them as our beloved main characters. <3

There will be several other characters in the show too, like the artists they talk to, the characters in the paintings, and the individuals having creativity issues. Alongside them are other characters (imaginauts??) that help out our duo. 

One possible character:
Name: General Aesthetics
Age: 50s - 60s
Bio: Civil war general with an eye for visual cohesiveness! Mustache! White horse!