Welcome to my Conceptual unit website. During this project, we completed a variety of smaller assignments in our three classes: Design, English, and Digital Media. These assignments included photography (found in the Art section), poetry (found in the Poems and Haiku section) and music (found in the Music section). We started our projects in English, then continued them in Design, and finally we assembled them together in Digital Media. We used programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Animate, and Pro Tools to put them together.

Overall, I very much enjoyed working on my conceptual projects. Not only did I gain experience about programs I had never used before, I also learned about the work environment at Freestyle. Classes at Freestyle function more like workspaces than normal classrooms. By the end of the unit, we were using all of our time to work on projects, and we had a lot of room for creativity in each of them.

In English, we wrote an expository essay on one of our passions. I chose to write my essay on why I enjoy art, drawing inspiration from several of my favorite artists and my own experiences. I have been drawing for most of my life, and it was very interesting to go beyond the obvious and find insightful reasons about why I enjoy it so much.


In English class, we were required to write three poems: a free verse poem on a randomly chosen topic, a spoken word poem on the topic of our choice, and an ekphrastic poem, which is a poem in response to a piece of art - specifically, a piece of art in the SF MOMA, which we visited at the beginning of the year. In Digital Media, we put each poem onto a background that we felt fit the poem, and we combined the ekphrastic poem with the art piece it was inspired by. We also recorded ourselves reciting each poem and combined that with a soundtrack that set the mood of the poem.

I don't often write poetry outside of school, and my opinion of it is pretty neutral. Nevertheless, it was both fun and challenging to write poetry based on specific inspiration, and I learned a lot about making poetry meaningful. I also enjoyed using both auditory and visual media to expand on the tone and message of my poems. Some of the time, when I was writing my poems, it was hard to completely convey the mood of the poem, but making use of audio and visual elements was a huge help.

I am nearsighted, blind to the outside world, and on good days I can barely see past my own nose, my eyes focused on the immediate, the small. But when I dive into the water and it stings my skin and it burns my lungs, I am freed, my vision clears, and I can see into eternity.
Free Verse Poem
To my oldest friend: I'm sad to see you go. We were the dream team as kids, a lean green machine. I shouldn't pretend it was perfect, that would be mean, but it still doesn't change a thing. I was the brains and you were the brawn. Actually, we were both the brains because our only weapons were our minds and your vicious volleyball skills. We grew up as parapllel lines. You would cry, and two years later, I would cry, and you would learn about responsibility, and soon, so would I. You're on a roller coaster on top of the hill, and I am two seats behind you, but that's okay because you would always tell me what was coming up next. Now you're on the ride, and I'm still here wasting my time shouting directions at the children in the back. You were better at that. I guess I'll just have to be patient. Until then, see you around.
Spoken Word Poem
Man pretends to be bold, we pretend to hold all the answers, but really we know nothing. We are woefully flawed, dreadfully inadequate, but no one can know this. So we shout our flawed truths from our rooftops. "Life, death, love, hate, pleasure, pain", we know nothing of these but our pride keeps us standing so we shout. "Knows/doesn't know, cares/doesn't care", we shout our ignorance, we reveal our flaws in trying to hide them. We shout.
Ekphrastic Poem

For our Haiku assignment in English, we were required to write a haiku about a topic that was randomly selected, then take a photo that added to the understanding of the haiku. My topic was “exploring the feeling of sympathy through swimming”. It was very difficult to come up with an idea in the beginning, but once I came up with the analogy of eyesight compared with selflessness, the poem itself and the photo to go with it followed almost naturally. Then, in Digital Media, we recorded ourselves reading the Haiku and turned it into a video. It was a very good introduction to Adobe Animate, the software we used to create the video.

The haiku assignment was the first project we completed, and it was our introduction to the workflow at Freestyle: assignments that move between classes as they are completed. The task of making such a short poem that still had meaning was challenging but rewarding. In addition, the assignment was an introduction to music and audio in Digital Media, something I am coming to enjoy.

Screenshot of Animate file of photo haiku

I am exploring the feeling of responsibility through relationships.

Conceptual art thumbnail
Click the thumbnail to view art full-size.

In Design, we took photographs inspired by one of our poems, then chose one of those pictures and refined it in Adobe Photoshop. This production was valuable in teaching me the photo editing techniques in Photoshop, as well as the basics of photography.

My conceptual art piece was inspired by my spoken word poem. I wanted to capture the feeling expressed in lines such as “We grew up as parallel lines/you would cry, and two years later,/I would cry,/and you would learn about responsibility,/and soon, so would I”. The poem itself is an ode to my older brother, and these lines refer to me learning and growing by observing and emulating him. The idea was that I had been shaped into my current self by my relationships with others. I chose to represent this using paper cranes, as they are built up out of a blank piece of paper into a specific, beautiful shape. I also wanted to show a cycle of people being affected by others and then passing that down to others. This was accomplished by placing the cranes in a way that implied they were building and interacting with each other.

After I had this idea, I set about making it a reality. Actually staging the cranes was the easiest part, as I already knew what I wanted them to look like in the final photo. I changed the background, lighting and angles between shots, but the cranes stayed the same throughout. After I had a shot I was happy with, I worked on refining it in Photoshop. I wanted the overall feel of the piece to show growth and change in a positive light, so I tried to make the foreground look more desirable compared to the background. My main goals were to use Photoshop adjustment layers to spotlight the cranes in the foreground, desaturate and darken the background in contrast, and to change the overall color balance of the piece. However, these were finished rather quickly. Most of my time was spent touching up the photo. There were many smudges and specks on the paper and the surface I photographed it on, and it took quite a while to remove the largest of those to a point I was satisfied with. The biggest challenge was knowing how much touching up I should actually do. It was easy to get carried away removing blemishes, but I had to be careful not overdo it, as I might have lost the overall feel of the piece or made it look unreal.

Screenshot of Photoshop file of conceptual art piece

For our music assignment in Digital Media, we made a musical piece of our own design in Pro Tools. I was excited to make music, but soon realized I had very few ideas. We were given the opportunity to use pre-recorded music loops as part of our music, but I wanted to create something entirely my own. So I played around until I found a melody I liked, something much more light-hearted than I had previously planned. I mostly used the plug-in Xpand, a plug-in that can simulate different types of instruments using the MIDI keyboard that each computer had, and Boom, a plug-in that I used to create drum loops. I actually layered two melodies on top of each other, since I felt the first one was too boring and repetitive by itself. I used a bass for the first melody, and a custom lead for the second one. I also used another lead to create the chord progression heard throughout the song. The custom drum loops I made were pretty simple, but I didn't want the drums to overwhelm what I felt was a pretty relaxed song.

The experimental music assignment was probably the most enjoyable project for me. I've always wanted to make music, and in this assignment, I got to utilize powerful tools that I had learned in order to make that dream a reality. It was a bit more complicated than I had anticipated, and I was overwhelmed at the start by how much I could do, but I still had a lot of fun with it.

Screenshot of Pro Tools file of experimental music