The Mac Lab

Resourcefully Yours

by on May.13, 2009, under Blog

gravity_smSomeday I’ll have to animate the process of creating content for the blog. It begins with at least a half-dozen false starts. Sentence after sentence falls onto the page, short-lived attempts to shape (or discover) the story I hope will capture your imagination and set the tone for the day. There’s almost always a chicken or egg scenario with the picture that accompanies the story. Today was different. I knew I’d be using Zack T’s Cinema 4D/Photoshop, perspective-defying WIP. Well, unless I switched at the last minute and used Alex S’s Bugatti. But Gravity (Kyle H) got the nod a few minutes ago.

That’s not only how the blog is written, it’s how the Mac Lab functions. Like it says in the excerpt from DYC right here, improvisation’s planned. I knew how this second semester was going to unfold when I stood before the class the day we returned to school back in January. I remember, quite distinctly, how I took a breath and began to speak, but the words weren’t anything I’d planned on saying. Sudden inspiration altered our direction that day. The blog was born the following week. We’ve had one constant though, from that first post right up to yesterday’s. We experiment. Every creative act involves a measure of uncertainty. We don’t move from A to B in a straight line. We learn though process. We ponder, reflect, imagine, adapt, improve, refine, present, and begin again. We actively seek out inspiration, always reaching higher.

Yesterday, thanks to the interconnectedness of the 2.0 world the Mac Lab’s now a part of, an automated email informed me of a pingback linking to one of our galleries. Dr. Craig Roland, a professor at the University of Florida, published an article about teaching art and design in a post-digital age. To understand what that means, you really have to read the article but what might interest you most are these two paragraphs:

All of these findings have raised several questions for me. If there indeed is a paradigm shift taking place in how we think about technology, what are the implications for teaching art and design in schools? How might the post-digital aesthetic inform K-12 art teaching practice? What does all this mean for preparing future art teachers for the classroom?

It may seem unreasonable to expect that public school art teachers teaching digital art would start encouraging students to hack software or exploit “failures” in the digital tools they have at their disposal in the classroom. On the other hand, I’ve seen some very intriguing high school student work lately that resulted from experimentation (or “messing around”) with software and using technology in ways that it wasn’t originally intended. (example #1, example #2).

As you can see, the Mac Lab is one example and a classroom in China is the other. If you read the comments on #2, you’ll see that there’s a direct connection to this individual who writes this blog, teaches photo and video, and with whom we’ll be collaborating as participants in Rotoball 2010 (and very likely other projects). I cannot express how excited I am about the direction we’re heading.  And while we’re on the coincidence carousel, both Jacki and Tierra (featured in this story) have artwork in the 25 examples cited in Dr. Roland’s article. (BTW, Jackie’s mom wrote me yesterday about a fundraiser this weekend. Please tell anyone you think might be interested.)

After six years of virtual isolation, the Mac Lab will join a much larger community next year. As has been the tradition, some things will change and some will remain the same. We’ll have to wait to see what changes are coming our way but the constants have been in place each and every year: higher expectations, stronger foundations, expanded experimentation, and, of course, the right to earn creative freedom. Find your voice and learn to use it!

International Visitor Update: Lebanon makes 80.


24 Comments for this entry

  • Kate A

    –> I am seriously enjoying this picture. It’s spaceship-meets-going green-meets-the future-meets-that clock that’s been ticking for HOW MANY DECADES? + the stars behind it. That totally ties it all together.
    BTW, can you make a link to Alex S’s Bugatti? I SOOOO want to see it. Cars are the bomb diggity. Especially expensive ones. Did I ever tell you about the time I was in Santa Barbara and we ran across this car convention for superrich people and they had like three Bugattis, a ‘Vette, a Ferrari…it was crazy.

    I gave up waiting for my acceptance to the Mac Lab Forum. That’s ridiculous. THREE WEEKS? Holy cow.
    So, my short story (I was holding out till my acceptance went through but a girl can only wait so long): My cat Lydia died last Monday of a rattlesnake bite. She was only seven pounds. The stupid thing is, cats always survive rattlesnake bites. But they have to have a constant IV and in the cat ICU for several days which = several thousand dollars. Hello, excessive much?! So they just had to put her down.

    Sorry for the long comment :]

  • Kate A

    Never mind; I’m accepted. But it said there was going to be a confirmation email.

  • skocko

    I believe the confirmation email was generated automatically after I approved you. The email’s not in my control. Perhaps it wound up in your spam filter?

    And, Kate, you’re sitting 10′ away from me right now (and every day during 4th period). It’s okay to ask questions. I hardly ever bite!

    Sorry to hear about your cat.

    The Bugatti will be featured soon.

  • Sarah S.

    At least the thing that made me have to sit at another computer yesterday and deal with a pen tablet I could not customize to my liking (which is a pain when the current project I am doing is all on the pen tablet with the brush tool in Photoshop) is going to be featured soon. If it wasn’t, I might just take the “Scold Alex” card you gave me yesterday, Skocko (since you never put an expiration date on it).

    I’m sorry to hear about your cat as well, Kate. About a year ago my cat got hit by a car and the surgery (that only had about a 30% success rate) would have cost in the double digit thousands if not more so we had to put him down.

    As for the Rotoball 2010, I look forward to at least occasionally keeping in touch with this blog once I graduate to see how things are going. If nothing else, I shall come here for inspiration when I need it or to visit the GCL when I need to find things.

    Note: Don’t worry, Skocko. Though I am working in Photoshop, the image is 17 x 15-ish (if I remember correctly) with a resolution of 360…I like to think I learned from my mistake last year with the mesmer.

  • Kim aka Tardy Girl


    Katie I’m sorry about your cat :(

    that’s so sad

    Skocko-“It’s okay to ask questions. I hardly ever bite!”

    I would be scared too Katie haha

    Ok, seriously I’m always scared to ask questions.

    And when I do get the gust to. I raise my hand and you don’t see me or something lol

    Oliver always pushes (literally) pushes my sit to the middle of the row and lift my hand up and saids “Skocko! Kim needs your help!!”

  • Michael Werner

    SPEAKING OF: Being scared of Skocko..

    Does Skocko still creep around the class then JUMP out screaming “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!??!?!?!” scaring the living hell out of you?

    It could be something like drawing on the background layer but somehow is spidey-sense would alert up to creep over behind your chair and scare you to death.

    Actually I can ask him directly. Dur.

  • skocko

    First of all, Michael, I never creep, jump, and/or scream.

    Secondly, my students are too well schooled to EVER work on the background layer in Photoshop. To even suggest such a thing is beyond the pale.

    However, hypothetically, if I were to sense such a travesty taking place in the Mac Lab (such blasphemous behavior is both palpable and perceptible), it would be my duty to appear, approach, and ardently ask the semi-rhetorical…


    An occasional burst of adrenaline stimulates creativity. 😉


    Oliver, keep up the good work!

  • Michael Werner

    Adrenaline or heart-attacks. Either or.

  • Kim aka Tardy Girl

    Oliver and I would be working and even though he would be over there, saying WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!

    To some other kid

    We would both get all scared and say ” O, I thought he was talking to me.” lol

  • Sarah S.

    I agree with Kim. Skocko can be somewhere else in the room, but whenever he says (yells) “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” I always jump from the startle…though, now that I think about it, most of the class does so. Needless to say, it is a quick way to pull attention to the student that is goofing off or messing up (though sometimes it can be a little harsh as some of the students don’t deserve it – most do, though, since they tend to be the constant problem children in the Mac Lab when it comes to doing their work).

  • skocko

    I DON”T YELL! 😉

  • Sarah S.

    What I mean is that some of the students are really good workers and at the time they were caught they were either distracted by something around them and didn’t realize their mistake or just weren’t paying attention to exactly what they were doing wrong because they were caught up in the work.

  • Shaun C

    You do yell Skocko, and it’s scary! Oh and what’s a background layer? Do you mean the best part to draw on? ‘Cuz if so, then…. well… nevermind.

  • skocko

    Honest, officer, I’m usually such a good driver. I realize that you’ve already warned me about this several times before but I almost never run red lights and hit pedestrians. It’s so unlike me. I think it’s harsh that you’re giving me a ticket.

    And don’t get me started about how you used your siren to pull me over just because I wasn’t paying attention. I’ve got more important things to do than obey your silly rules of the road!

  • Andrea Cueva

    All I know is the second I read the “Honest, officer, I’m usually such a good driver,” I immediately thought of my friend’s shirt that reads “I’m not as think as you drunk I am.” LOL.

  • Kim aka Tardy Girl


    You do yell Skocko,


    I just thought of this as I’m in my 3rd period class typing this out,

    I want you to ask Oliver,
    today and scare him,
    Like you do with everyone in the Maclab 😀
    lol XD

    I would love that 😀

    and Yes, I’m such a good friend ^_^ (if you are reading this Oliver)

  • Sarah S.

    Okay…maybe not yelling. Instead he purposefully and forcefully raises his voices to get the attention of the unsuspecting students laid out before his feet, pleading for him to not bestow upon them his wrath.

    Or something like that, anyways… :)

  • Mickey M.

    Hmm… the clock is at around… 5:52? 5:53? And the part of the globe facing us is mainly northern India… now, what could this mean? Longitude/latitude lines? The intervals between tectonic plate shifts? And the cloud cover seems to form either a three or an eight… and what constellation is that in the background? Hm…

    Intriguing. Yes; very.

  • Sarah S.

    Good attention to detail, Mickey. I hadn’t even noticed the formation of the clouds to be a three or an eight, but now that you have mentioned it I see it. Personally it looks more like a three, but I don’t even know if Kyle meant there to be a specific pattern or not or if that was just what “happened”.

    Correction in my last comment: voice*

  • skocko

    No, Sarah, “voices” is correct.

    Remember… I’m REALLY scary!

  • skocko

    Mickey, excellent observations! Sometimes an artist purposefully plants information within his/her art. Sometimes, as Sarah said, it just happens. Either way it makes the art more interesting when one looks more closely as you have.

    Not to spoil the mystery, but I’m familiar with the artist. It just happened. I still love the imagery though.

  • Michael Werner

    It sounds like he is less scary. He didn’t have his BigBrother App during THE ANCIENT DAYS.

  • skocko

    ARD3 rocks!

    But I don’t always need it to “know”

    If you know what I mean. 😉

  • George M.


Learn it all.