Velocity’s presentations happened on Thursday afternoon, introduced one by one by Christie!
Zada told us about her explorations into the tricky and controversial world of makeup. She became aware of the issues surrounding makeup and asked the question, “How does makeup affect women’s self-esteem?” and determined, through her own research and her own use of makeup, that it depends on how you use it and how you view it. Throughout the Expression phase she talked with five different experts, read the book Survival of the Prettiest, grappled with questions about self esteem, and was determined to view makeup as a fun way to experiment with appearance, refusing to give it the power that society places on it. The art aspect was most appealing to her, as displayed in photos of work she did on herself and other people.
Julian, during his first project at Brightworks, built a periscope and spoke in front of us like a natural. He explained that a periscope is used in war to spy on the enemy without being seen, or on the neighbors relax in their yard using mirrors angled at opposing 45 degree angles. He explained being inspired by war and spy techniques and made a goal of building a periscope tall enough to see over the mezzanine wall. During the Expression phase, Julian built four prototypes. The first was solid and made of wood and too heavy. The second solved the weight problem, but he accidentally angled the mirrors incorrectly. The third was too short, but the fourth was stable, light, adjustable, and angled correctly. He told us that the most important thing he learned during the project is that prototypes are very important.
Josh is an extremely prolific writer and has written over an estimated 50,000 words this year between his collection of novels, short stories, poems, research papers, and journal entries. For Mirrors, he wrote five short stories and nine poems about mirrors. He described four ways that a mirror can be used in fiction: a description of a physical mirror, a palindrome, parallel characters, or a reflection on the past. He read aloud his short story “Reflection” – a myth about the creation of the mirror – with utter confidence and expression, a difficult feat for any writer, and followed up with a reading of three of his poems: “Cracked”, about a physical mirror, “Let’s Take a Walk”, a palindrome, and “Had Me at Hello”, again about a physical mirror.
Harry and Ian explained the trials and tribulations of creating a parabolic mirror for their solar forge. They learned trigonometry principles for triangles and angles to create a precise focal point. Though they worked out the math, their first prototype was just a fraction out of alignment, so it ended up not working. They built a second prototype, which they were going to test in Joshua Tree, but a gust of wind knocked it over in the desert and the mirrors broke. Harry and Ian went on to describe mirror after mirror shattering as they tried to create their forge, and bemoaned the fact that every test failed except one, which brought a plastic box up to 110 degrees.
Quinn worked long hours to get his magic show ready for the big debut. Dressed in a long black coat and a top hat, Quinn the Magnificent explained that he wasn’t a sorcerer and what he was doing was just allusions, but asked us to believe in magic while he did his show since magic shows – and magic itself is all about perspective and beliefs. He explained the use of mirrors in magic and allusions to hide objects and showed us a few tricks that took the mirror as its central focus. He did disappearing tricks, card tricks, sleight of hand, and even disappeared into a mirror himself.
JP’s first project at Brightworks was a film, but what he ended up with was not what he initially started with. His first project idea was based on a long, intense script and storyline, which would have been far too complicated and time consuming to film. He ended up doing a more fascinating and beautiful film experiment with a very simple premise: discovering what a subject does in a quiet room lit by a single clamp light in front of a mirror. The result was a wonderful documentary called “Reflectworks” that highlighted some of the more telling moments from the different community members at Brightworks who participated in this wonderful, awkward, moment of pause where the subject sat with just his or her reflection.