Week 7 & 8: Synthetic Selfies and Jena Osman’s “Gaze-Capturing Apparatus”

In Week 7, I realized that less was more at this point and gave my students a second week to develop their Omeka sites. I often feel that I’m not doing my job if I don’t create new assignments and activities each week, but I have learned slowly that students miss the satisfaction of really developing something that they’ve learned. With Omeka especially this was true, and so I took my foot off of the activity pedal so students could build their archives to their satisfaction.

Now, in Week 8, students are headed in yet another new direction: taking “synthetic selfies.” I got this idea originally from Jena Osman, whose book and presentation, Public Figures, explore the non-human gaze of public monuments. 

Statue of Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks Statue, Eugene. Source: Wikipedia

Since the weather is finally nice, I’m asking my students to watch Osman’s chapters and then go outside and find a public monument and explore the gaze and view of non-human subjects with a selfie-stick. Cyborgs, enhanced humans, and “beat box” singing all reveal an increasingly sophisticated popular familiarity with human/non-human relationships. Focusing on a pre-digital form, the statue, provides a literal brick-and-mortar experience of the non-human. I’m hoping that Osman’s anticipation of selfies and “photo bombs” through immobile statues will give students a defamiliarizing vantage point from which to examine their own experience of the non-human.

I got the idea for this assignment from Kaia Sand’s assignment here

Here are my assignment instructions, based on Sand’s: 
Take a Synthetic Selfie