It seems that a large portion of my 9th & 10th grade high school students have lost the ability to play and it impacts the way they approach making art. They aren’t as experimental, they want to know what they are supposed to do, and more often than not, their final project is a regurgitation of some popular culture icon like Sponge Bob or a Disney character. I decided to feature videos by OK GO for my Artist of the Day videos because I think they really epitomize the idea of play in the way they approach their music videos. I arranged the lineup in chronological order along with how many times they have been viewed as of today’s date:
Here It Goes Again (treadmill video – 2/26/2009 – viewed 24,845,919)
This Too Shall Pass (Rube Goldberg machine – 3/1/2010 – viewed 46,615,478)
White Knuckles (dog video – 9/19/2010 – viewed 18,555,929)
Needing/Getting (car & musical instruments video – 2/5/2012 – viewed 30,909,837)
I Won’t Let You Down (drone camera video – 10/27/2014 – viewed 18,253,402)
I’m always interested to find out which video the students like the best; it helps me keep a pulse on their ever changing tastes in all things teenager! Hands down, their latest video, I Won’t Let You Down won 3 to 1. In order to find out what the students think, I give them 3 to 4 questions to answer on a half sheet of computer paper. This works very well in the classroom – all of my students respond to the questions, which lets me hear the voices and opinions of my shy and introverted students who never speak up in a class discussion. I’m able to use their responses as a daily grade and they feel that their ideas are being heard. Besides asking them which video they liked the best, I asked them these additional questions:
What do you think is important to them when they are thinking about the videos they want to create?
- They want to do something that hasn’t been done as a music video before.
- I think they always want to impress their audience with the unusual things they do so that they will be remembered.
- They try to have fun with their videos, while challenging themselves.
- Being complicated, interesting and creative
- It’s important that they have creativity and don’t give up until they get it right.
- Having a child-like feeling, to capture audience’s attention and to have fun.
- I think working hard but also having fun is important to them because it takes them years to get their projects done and they love doing what they do.
How did their videos change over the course of 5 years? I was particularly interested to hear their responses to this question.
- The videos developed from a small thing to a bigger thing over time. They developed more ideas and used better technology as their ideas expanded.
- They expanded their ideas and each video was a step in thinking more outside the box. Their ideas were bigger and better each time, every time being slightly more risky than the previous one.
- They moved to a larger scale and shifted to more color way of expression.
- They became more complex and put in more effort.
- It changed from a small environment to an even bigger one with intriguing technology.
- Their filming style improved.
- They included more technology, and got a lot more sophisticated and professional.
And finally, because our theme of the week was “play”, I asked them this question: How are you incorporating play into your art making or your life? I was a little dismayed that quite a handful of students didn’t know what I meant when I was talking about play – sigh. What have we done to our children? Here are a few responses from those that are tapping into play as a creative energy:
- I try to have fun and enjoy everything I do in life.
- I play guitar as much as possible to release stress.
- When I’m making art, incorporate things I like, for example painting.
- Play comes in the format of dance for me.
- I try to make my art have something to do with my childhood.
- I try things spontaneously in life and art and I turn them into plans and ideas.
- But in my life, um, IDK (I don’t know) how I incorporate play…I try to have fun and say YOLO (you only live once) and try to be social and take chances.
- Most drawings I like to do are cartoonish and almost child like.
- I explore and try different techniques and use different materials.
The Artist of the Day videos are one of my favorite tools in my classroom. I show them current artists work and they see how technology is changing the way art is being made. If you are interested in finding out more about the Artist of the Day videos, you can read my article about them on the Articles & Presentations page. Questions? Contact me!