At the beginning of this assignment, I was eager to learn about Gestalt Theory! However, I just never knew how complex this could be. The theory has taken me more time than I anticipated to understand; but by focusing in on one law at time, I have been able to achieve a better understanding. This being said, I was stumped when trying to use the laws in my pictures. I soon realized that I was only have trouble because I was trying to think too in depth about it. I was trying to capture the laws directly instead of portraying them through my lens. I realized that I was supposed to show the laws through my own point of view. Once I understood that, I began to see the different laws in each of my photographs. For this trip, I changed my focus from art through stickers to all art on South Congress. This means my photographs began to vary from stickers to performers, store fronts, and murals.
For my first trip of this project to South Congress, I decided to focus on the stickers and posters which decorate street signs and street lights. Every time I see them while walking or driving through, I wonder about their history, purpose, and meaning. As I was photographing them I noticed new and intriguing ones and began to see the duplicates on different corners. I wish I could learn more about their meanings and where they came from. Without these simple pieces of art, South Congress would not be the same. Another area of focus for this project was the color which makes South Congress so unique. Everywhere you look, there are many colors to catch your eye. South Congress is unique and never the same!
Everyone has their individual sources of inspiration. For many people these inspirations come from their life experiences, such as Amy Tan. Life experiences impacts the character of the person which then affects their personality. I believe that personality and creativity can be intertwined. Artists of any kind express their personality through their creativity with their work. Yet, this is not the only way in which life experiences can be used as inspirations. Another way is by artists using their work as a form of expressing their opinions and standing up against injustices or informing the public about certain issues. Many artists dedicate their lives and their work to become advocates for certain causes. Specifically for photographers, their “intentions are to inform others” (Flusser 46). Using your creativity as a form of communication is not limited to only photographers, but rather anyone open to using their creativity to make a change in the world. For me, Amy Tan and Vilem Flusser have made me think deeper about my photography and the direct sources of my inspirations, helping me realize the true meanings behind my work.
One week after our presentation, I continue to have pride in our presentation and research. I never knew how large the housing problem was, especially here in Austin. I saw constant construction and automatically assumed that housing was not a major problem in the Austin community, but I quickly found out how massive the problem really is. I was extremely surprised to find out about the lack of affordable housing in Austin. My favorite portion of the project was my interview with Mrs. Trudy, even though I had trouble finding someone to interview. She was just so kind and patient and made the interview so easy. I learned so much about the reasons for the housing problems, such as affordable housing. I began to question what the public can do to help the problem. My best idea is raising awareness until the government increases affordable housing. There are enough high-priced, luxuries houses and condos that not everyone can afford. I also thoroughly enjoyed my linked photography course. I always knew you could make a statement through photography but Dr. Kennedy really showed me the power of photography. He described the different forms that photography can be used to make a difference in the world and even the different profession that use photography to make a statement. I learned so much through this presentation.
On Friday, November 18, my wicked problem project group met to discuss our ideas for our project and plan our presentation. It was a brief meeting inside of Jo’s coffee shop simply to organize our thoughts. We decided that we would like to share our information through pamphlets and a presentation. But, we did not write down a solid plan for our presentation because we were just discussing each individual’s ideas. After discussing how we would present, we each shared what we learned through our interviews. One of my group members discussed the similarities she found between homelessness and housing problems. We began to question the relationship between the two wicked problems and if there were any more connections between housing and other wicked problems. This discussion brought to light even more the seriousness of housing problems in Austin because I began to see how it influenced other problems. The more I learn about this wicked problem, the more I want to do my part to make a difference for the community. It seems as if there are always new homes being constructed in the city but I never stopped an thought if it was actually helping the housing problems. But now I am asking more questions about this and learning that there is more than just building houses that needs to be done to fix this problem.
After encountering many problems, I was finally able to receive some assistance and find someone to interview. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mrs. Trudy who is a real estate agent in Austin, Texas. She was very helpful with providing information and her opinions on the housing problems in Austin. The main problem Mrs. Trudy discussed with me regarding housing is that not enough affordable housing is available for low-income people. The increase in new, large businesses moving to Austin has also caused a surge in the number of individuals with large salaries who are moving to the city. With this surge, construction companies began to mainly construct high-end homes with high prices. These homes are not affordable for the individuals who do not have those jobs with large salaries. Yet, people from all economic backgrounds continue to move to Austin. This large demand of homes also cannot be met, causing the housing market to raise the prices. I was never really aware of the severity of the housing problem in Austin until my interview with Mrs. Trudy. I was under the impression that the only problem was that construction companies were simply unable to met the demand. I did not know of other factors such as companies primarily constructing high-end homes. I thoroughly enjoyed my interview with Mrs. Trudy and I gained new insight on this wicked problem.
On the weekend of October 7th, 8th, and 9th, I attended Austin City Limits Music Festival with some of my close friends. The night before the festival, my friend broke his ankle while riding a longboard. On Friday, he was taken to the hospital and we went straight to the festival once he was released. People from around the world asked to sign his cast and others cheered him on as he made his way through the crowds. My other friend carried him most of the weekend to relieve some of the pain. Our adventures included driving around backstage, protecting his foot while walking in crowds, and walking for miles looking for a way home. But in the end, the sweat and pain turned into amazing memories and an even better experience.
Some of my absolute favorite things in this world are sunsets. I believe they portray how truly beautiful nature really is. For me, sunsets make me feel peace and content with life. Sunsets allow me to find the beauty around me, no matter what is happening in my life. I chose this theme in an attempt to allow others to see what I do when I look at sunsets. Also, I included pictures with different colors to show the diversity in sunsets and the equal beauty they all posses. I prefer taking pictures of sunsets with dark, contrasting objects in the photograph to make the colors standout more. If I could change anything in my pictures, I would make them clearer and find different angles. I believe using different angles would allow me to fully capture the beauty of each sunset and the nature around me.
During our last Wicked Problems seminar meeting on Monday, Dr. Kennedy spoke to us about the relationship between Photography and Wicked Problems. Photography is a source of media used as a means to portray the problems encountered in our world. Photography was invented as an accurate and reputable method of gathering information. For Dr. Kennedy, photography is a wicked problem because photographs can be easily manipulated. Photographs are not immutable and do not always display the entire story. I was most interested in learning about Dr. Kennedy’s experiences with photography and his work as a photo journalist. Some of the topics covered in the lecture had previously been covered in class, but I enjoyed learning more about his various careers.
There are may factors that contribute to the housing problems in Austin and around the world. The factors involved are people, the labor market, government organizations, and the housing market. The housing problem is a terrible cycle that affects other aspects of people’s lives, such as their employment and education.