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Jennifer Lin and Courtney Reeder

Art 311

Professor Ferro

May 8, 2008

Game Intervention: “Hopscotch Race on Ho Plaza”

“Hopscotch Race on Ho Place” a three minute experimental film, explores the reinvention of an ancient game. J. W. Crombie in his essay “The History of the Game of Hop-scotch” reveals to us that “…children’s games are often imitations of the more serious occupations of the grown-ups they see around them, and that a game once introduced is handed down from generation to generation of children long after its original [purpose] has ceased to exist” (Crombie 403). Hopscotch, a game played by children in European countries that Crombie mentions such as “England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, [and] Finland” has been played since in Britain since the ancient pagan Roman Empire. Revisiting this game on the broad side walk of Ho Plaza provides insight into this particular game’s survival over time.

The word “hopscotch” can be broken down into hop and scotch. Hop, thought to mean “to jump” and scotch meaning “to cut or (scratch it out)” as defined in the essay “Hopscotch” by THL Dagonell Collingwood of Emerald Lake provides a brief description of how the game operates. Collingwood tells us that hopscotch was initially intended as a military strength training technique. Soldiers in antiquity would leap courses composed of lines forming boxes that reached lengths of one hundred feet. This exercise improved the speed and accuracy of soldiers’ footwork. Militia still practice this exercise today, only using tires or objects in obstacle courses to enhance soldiers’ movement.  Children's adaptation of this exercise introduced a numeric score system and stone tossing as a fun twist to the primary source.

This project helps to uncover insight into the former purposes and adult practices that evolved to become the common children’s game we know today as Hopscotch. Crombie’s thesis attempts to prove that the purpose of contemporary children’s games such as Hopscotch may appear docile and serve merely for pleasure, yet initially possibly provided a technique for serious militaristic benefits.

Installation as a medium innovatively sets the stage for this film, in which the moving figures within the film paint themselves across a semi transparent paper surface adhered to glass. A glass door supports the paper surface, upon which digital video content is projected, alluding to the sensation an tangible object hovering in space. The back door of Tjaden Hall provides the ideal location for the installation, playfully forces students or faculty to take notice of the game regardless of whether they enter or leave the building. Projection on a glass door captures the audience’s attention two fold, enabling the viewer to choose to experience the film from either outside the building and/or within Tjaden Hall’s interior entrance space.

Sound plays an integral role within “Hopscotch Race.” Multiple small sound speakers placed inconspicuously within the Tjaden Hall entrance inject noises of leaping and landing foot steps into the space from various directions. Similar to the multiple viewing environments available to the viewer, multiple sound sources aim to disorient, challenge, and invite viewers to seek out the unusual location of the installation within the building. Recorded foot steps, stomping sounds, and shoe scuffing unites Crombie’s argument with the possibility that games maintain a deceptive quality when practiced. Changing tempo of the foot steps, volume (some footsteps soft, and some loud) creating crescendo and decrescendo, and moments of silence organize and provide structure to the sound’s composition. High and low pitched steps, recorded steps that are slowed down or sped up further abstract the sound’s composition giving it an unrecognizable quality. Emphasizing the playful, unpredictable, contemporary tone of the game, abstracted sound divorces Hopscotch from its previously practical applications in antiquity, and engages a viewer’s auditory receptors.  Scuffing foot steps might trick the viewer into thinking there other people entering the space from the adjacent stairwell or open hallways. 

Finally, film content and editing strengthen and resolve both the visual and auditory effects of the installation.  Scenes of "Hopscotch" shot from various perspectives of students leaping across Ho Plaza fade in and fade out, filling the whole screen.   The entire canvas is only further interrupted by a subtle lone shadowy figure playing the children's version of hopscotch, tossing a marker into the squares which overlays chaotic crowd scenes of multiple individuals playing simultaneously a unique version of the Hopscotch, our intervention.  The overlay appears and disappears repeatedly accentuated by still images of foot prints which trace their way mysteriously across the picture plane, emphasizing the the screen's flat surface, relative to the two dimensional recorded scenes.   Here the viewer is able to witness people voluntarily exercising out of meer curiosity and sometimes staged efforts, juxtaposed against a long history of varied functions, Hopscotch continues to be a source of both pleasure and physical benefit, the film is a testament to experimentally documenting those willing to take a leap into cherished moments from childhood and invites viewes to question how games should continue to function through the ages.     

May. 6th, 2008

Courtney is annoyed that Dear Uncle Ezra did not answer Touchdown's letter.
Come see Judgment Day!  In Tjaden Gallery, Tjaden Hall across from Herbert F. Johnson Art Museum.  I just finished hanging my senior thesis art show.  It took me 72 hours of straight work.  During installation, the gallery assistant accidently dropped a hammer from a ten foot ladder on my head.
 AHHH!!!!!  24 hrs left to hang my Thesis Art Show!  AHHHH!!!!!   SO much to do!!!! AHHH!!!   You have no idea.   Am painting a 36 foot long 8 foot tall painting in 12 hours and making/putting together hands/faces/hair on 10 mannequins and repairing a broken fence, and need to install 30 D rings, buy 3-4 bags of mulch, 30 feet of fake flower garlands.   I need a team of people to help lift the panels. 
Dear  Uncle Ezra,

Hello!  I am your biggest fan (literally)!  This is Touchdown the Unofficial Mascot of Cornell University.  You frequently see me on student's clothing or showing moral support at athletic events, but aside from that I don't think many people know where I've been currently living.  Risley Hall has been kind enough to host me for exhibition for the Spring semester of 2008.  I stand a proud six feet tall, am eight feet long, and am four feet wide.  I weigh approximately between 200 and 250 lbs of newspapers such as Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell Chronicle, and Cornell Progressive and held together by duct tape.  However now that the semester is drawing to a close, Risley Kommittee decided they no longer wished to keep me, but I really quite like it here.  Or like all of the bears of Cornell's past, must I go unoticed and disappear into the pages of history too?  Might you be able to offer me hope of finding a home here on Cornell's campus?  My current owner is a graduating senior who will have to leave the hill soon and she wishes that the school would give me a home where I would greet students on their way to class or perhaps on their way to a warm meal, or a sporting event with my big smile.  Cornell gave me courage that there might the possibility of making a permenant comeback when I learned a female bear costume was created to accompany the Mr. Touchdown bear costume.  I was also inspired by the love that students show for such monuments as Penn State Univeristy's Nittany Lion Shrine and West Chester University's Rammy sculpture.  Now students need to know that I am here!  I am here to stay and if the school still does not want me I will not leave quietly!  I want students to love me, as much as I love them.  Please Uncle Ezra, what advice can you offer a homeless bear on finding a home at Cornell after I've watched you turn your back on all the others?  Perhaps I should contact the Mascot Club?  Or the Athletic Department?  At the beginning of the Spring semester I read an email that the Hans Bethe House was looking for a sculpture for their building, might they be still interested in space for me?

Your biggest fan and most faithful companion,
Touchdown      
I am no longer a Risleyite.

Apr. 8th, 2008

This a lot of entries for one day, but I feel the subject deserves a separate entry to itself.  For four year's I've kept this blog.  Yes, I have neglected it often.  But at the same time it is useful and keeps me going and grounded.  This post isn't necessarily the anniversary date that I started it, I think it was in January, but that's not what is important to me.  It just occurred to me that I've been sticking to this thing, whatever it is.  Recently facebook has this new feature that kind of creeps me out called Friend Finder, where it presents a list of people you may or maynot know because somehow, it finds your name associated with other people's profiles.  Recently a friend from high school has friended me that I have not seen in 4 years. 

Things to look forward to:  
Two Senior Weeks, Devon Horse Show, Graduation, Thesis Reception, WATSON! Summer!
 

Apr. 8th, 2008

Again here I am writing in this lame blog instead of doing my work.  I should either be A) reading my entomology article or B) in the studio painting until I collapse.  

But I am so burnt out!  I am suffering from a major case of senioritis.  People keep harassing me with the annoying question:  "What are you doing after graduation!?"  My latest response to that question is a quote taken from a friend of mine that read in the Cornell Daily Sun where she was interviewed as saying "After graduation I will go wherever the wind carries me."     To be honest, after graduation I feel so helpless.   Optionless.  Even though after May 2008 anything can happen, I feel locked into a plan that is beyond my control.  At least with school I have always felt that I had some sort of influence over it.  Part of me is so excited to go home and see my puppy dog and parents and help out and hang out with my sister and Pop and everyone and my friends from high school.  Part of me wants to get a job.  Part of me wants to illustrate more children's books.  Part of me wants to be a musician.  Part of me needs to learn to drive.  All of me wants to ride horses.  All of me needs to do GREs.

At dinner tonight, I was eatting with a friend and she asked 'the question' and she was surprised at the thought of me not coming back to Ithaca.  Part of me wants to stay in Ithaca.  I could get a job and an apartment in Ithaca.  For some reason I have not really considered it as a serious option, I guess for financial reasons.  Renting an apartment costs money and so does food and gas/heat and electricity.  Driver's lessons/test/insurance costs a pretty penny.  Yet staying with the rents is free board and food.  Writing about reality disgusts me.

Thesis is slowly moving forward. 

Apr. 8th, 2008

 So many choices to make.  Touchdown.  Someone wants to buy him.  Should I sell him?  Or should I go through the paperwork and find a way of making him into a permenant member of the Risley Community? Will he be destroyed?  Should he come home with me and become a lawn ornament?  I have so many conflicting points of view/influences on me that it is becoming difficult for me to decide what action to take.  I still have time to decide though.  Examples of peer pressure influence include my parents (who say:  SELL IT!)  But at the same time, my dad (who is a sales man/appraiser) does not think I should at least sell him for the material cost it took me to make it, let alone make a profit from it.  My mother also thinks I should sell it, but get whatever I can for it.  Then my thesis TA said sell it, and suggested a logical estimate for it.  Then when I talk about it in the Risley Library with the other Risley students, they sound disappointed at the prospect of me selling it, which makes me feel guilty.  I also feel sad at the thought of the bear sculpture that took me so long to plan and build leave his home Risley.  However the person who is interested in him is a staff member of Cornell, so in a way the sculpture would still be within the Cornell community, although remotely.  Ultimately my only concern is finding my bear sculpture a good home where I know he will be able to live and be surrounded by people who love and want to care for him.  I know he is just a sculpture, and fragile, but I think of him more as a pet or a big black bear friend.  Right now I have no idea what to do.  I have found out a way to make him a permenant part of the Risley community.  I can propose to Risley Kommittee to have him registered as a building mural, so that he would be protected and then they would vote on it.  The RHD is open to keeping him.  So many options.  I know that Touchdown will find a good home.  

Then I think about which choice will be the right one.  Where will he live the longest and happiest?  If I sell him, he will most likely wind up outside in someone's backyard where he will be exposed to harsh Ithaca weather.  Eventually he would either rot from all the exposure to rain/moisture, or collapse from the weight of too much snow, or become a home for some sort of burrowing/nesting creature, etc.  

If Touchdown becomes a permenant part of Risley students will not have the right to vandalise him as they have recently been doing.  But I still fear that they will anyway.  Even though I designed him to be effemeral (fall apart) for the argument of my thesis, my eternal hope is that he be preserved and respected.

If I do not sell him or if he cannot stay a part of Risley and he has to come home with me, my parents will most likely take him to a dump where he will either be recycled as a large piece of newspaper and tape or compacted.  Or if my parents are feeling generous, they might truck him home and make him a lawn ornament, where he would still risk suffering water and snow damage.

Today I discovered someone has cut off one of his fangs, and peeled off one of his eyes.  Are the students of Risley trying to turn him into a pirate?  I've seen lots of things done to Touchdown.   Mostly people just do innocent things to him which I don't mind and quite enjoy such as placing things in his mouth or nose or on his head.  For example I've seen half eatten cookies, money, chemistry molecule balls, candy, music books, newspapers, and cigarrettes in his mouth.  Someone once stole his sign and then returned it.  People have taped signs to him.  I like all this.  I just don't like it when people manipulate him in such a way that requires me to repair him, because in my mind that is vandalism.  I do not feel like sending out an angry email to the Risley Listserve about this.  I knew this stuff would happen to him.  He is an effemeral piece, designed to fall apart, because I failed in trying to coat him in a water proof/weather proof mortar coating. 

Spring Break or Breaking Point?

Dear LJ,

So spring break is coming to a close, class resumes on Monday.  Easter is this Sunday.  Should I go to church?   Maybe.  Today is Saturday. I have the spent the last 5-6 days working like a dog in the studio on my thesis.  I took Thursday night and Friday off, to recover from all the back breaking carpentry, lifting, and moving my nine 8 x 4 foot masonite panels and lumber props.   My "To Do" list is still miles long.  Today I will probably go to the book store or the mall briefly in search of cheap art supplies.  My list:

1. Buy Gamsol
2. Pick up portfolio package
3. Burn CD for portfolio/resume.
4. Pick a research topic for Entomology
5. Test/refine/print picture of bassoon project
6. Order Mannequins!
7. Make construction drawings/begin painting panels!

Just lovely.  There is probably more I am not thinking of off the top of my head.  Oh well.  Ciao!