Personalizing a Place: Exploring Visual and Virtual Remix Processes
Dobkin, Emily Hope
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Dobkin, Emily Hope
The coloring book, dating from 1880, encourages readers to add color using crayons, colored pencils, markers, paint and other art mediums. The emergence of the first coloring book appeared in a time when educators believed students should benefit from art education as a means of enhancing their conceptual understanding of the tangible, further developing cognitive abilities (The Huntington Library, 2003). Coloring books remain one of the first mediums people use in art, and have gone on to encompass a wide variety of subjects and topics, from the simple to complex. A new interactive platform of its time, the coloring book offered a different kind of active engagement through an artistic process. In 1979, Rainy Day Press of Eugene, Oregon published The First Eugene, Oregon Coloring Book by Mike Helm and illustrated by Brad Koekkoek. This coloring book presents twenty pages of outlined pictures and commentary of the Eugene community as it stood then‐‐‐from Skinner’s Butte, to the University of Oregon, to Saturday Market and everything in between. The purpose of my research project is to rework The First Eugene, Oregon Coloring Book through the process of remixing its content through visual journals and guest blogging from those perspectives who have re‐rooted themselves here in Eugene from other places. With the coloring book as a point of reference, my research explores the possibility of using the process of remixing the First Eugene, Oregon Coloring Book as a means to initiate personalization of place. (re:)Mixing Visually: Seven sketchbooks were given to individuals throughout the community that contained copies of the pages from The First Eugene, Oregon Coloring Book. Participants were asked to remix these pages within the sketchbook so that their work would illustrate their own perspective of Eugene, specifically in what makes Eugene “home.” Some of these artists chose to expand beyond the boundaries of the sketchbook. Each artist chose to adapt their own personal art making style and voice to better address the themes found within the pages of the coloring book. (re:)Mixing Virtually: The Eugene Coloring Book blog (http://eugenecoloringbookblog.com/)was established to feature scanned images of the pages from the original coloring book. Each of the pages have been correlated with a specific topic that applies to and describes life in Eugene today. Remixing these pages in digital format simply means anyone of the Eugene community can “reconfigure” a page by providing their personal perspective on the identified topics. All that is required to do is add a story under the heading “Leave A Reply” The outcome of these remix processes culminated in an exhibit at DIVA Center Gallery and further reflects the personalization of place within a larger community. Moreover, the exhibit provides a gathering space for individuals to dialogue and appreciate the unique qualities associated with Eugene, something that is easily dismissed during a time in which many people often uproot themselves from one place to the next. This research serves as a model display for the potential that remixed literary and visual arts can hold in documenting personalization of place within a community from assorted, diverse and varying perspectives. Just as coloring books have been used to increase understanding of a complex topic or procedure, I have used this project to investigate whether or not remixed documentation of a place can offer an increased understanding of the sense of home, place, and community. Surrounding my focus concentration of Community Arts, I have learned how important it is for community members to find common threads and connections to one another through certain activities, events, venues, and places. I intend this research to serve as most beneficial in piecing those parts of a community, specifically through the lens of the Eugene community that might appear as fragmented. The display of The Eugene Coloring Book exhibition further suggests how people of a community experience and make sense of a particular place is individual and varies differently from one person to the next. The culture of a place has not been shaped for the people of the community; individuals shape the culture and their own personal landscapes of a community.