To help people understand what it would be like to live in an exotic place like Alexandria, Cachoeira or Maui, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently invited students, teachers and new media mentors from around the world to document life wherever they live. Called Scenes and Sounds of My City, it’s a chance for youth to create digital art that’s inspired by their home environment and then share it with the world.
Of the 60 youth new media programs from 29 countries selected by UNESCO, organizers then choose by jury the 10 best and reward them with a trip to the Zero One ISEA 2006 Symposium, which runs Aug. 7-23 in San Jose, California. There, students will learn about many culturally diverse organizations and individuals working with art, science and emerging technologies.
This year, students from Seabury Hall’s summer program and OtherFriday, a youth new media lab located in Wailuku, made the cut. OtherFriday provides physical as well as virtual space for youth to use technology to engage their peers in a creative, constructive way. As such, they were also ideal candidates to develop on short notice a stunning audio-visual montage of Maui.
In less than three weeks, OtherFriday founder HaiDai Nguyen said the 23 students finished a vibrant assortment of photos from Maui, digitally enhanced and artfully manipulated using the tools at their summer computer lab. Motivated by the promise of “Yes, you guys can play if you finish early,” they set their visuals to live ’ukulele music and poems that describe their photos and what is special about living on Maui. But it’s their project’s audio element that sets their project apart from the rest in the International Gallery.
“HaiDai told me to do a nice rhythm on the ’ukulele,” says Allie Moskow, 10. “What I did for him was soft movement showing the pictures of the ocean and our town—where we live, our island. It didn’t take us that long to come up with the poems because we looked at our pictures and we saw what we were writing about and thought of ideas about how to rhyme.
“At first we were all confused with it and then after about 10 minutes we all got it,” she adds. “It was awesome when we heard everyone’s poems and recorded them.”
Moskow will act as her school’s ambassador, and will travel with her father to San Jose to present the work.
“HaiDai showed us how to put pictures on Photoshop and how to record sound,” she says. “Then, we had to pick out pictures and do a poem, record it, and put it all together. It was really interesting, but kinda hard, I just had to keep on trying and he made it really clear what to do. He challenges us to keep on working with it. I think that we first didn’t know what to do and it was kind of confusing. Then, as we got onto different levels we knew what we were doing and how to get all the pictures and poems together onto the computer. It was really cool to see all of our stuff put together like that.”
To say the least, Moskow is looking forward to working in the computer rooms.
“I am excited to learn more and let my friends know what I did so that they can do it, too,” she says. “And to show them how our thing won and to show them all the different kids from different places so they can share the experience because I am going to take a lot of pictures there.”
You can see all the Scenes and Sounds of My City projects at unesco.sjsu.edu. MTW