This is my manifesto spelled out using semaphore. The idea for my manifesto came from a latin phrase that I’ve always loved, “Esse est esse,” which means “To eat is to be.” I find it interesting that the infinitive for the verbs “to eat” and “to be” are the same in Latin, which raises the question, do you eat to live, or live to eat?
For my focus project, I made a documentary about a society of people, known as the Optatum tribe, who live on the line. Their entire culture is based upon wishing, as “wish” was my word. You can ready my full proposal here: Proposal.
Though it is not entirely clear to outsiders why, these people have found magical powers on the line. The plants on the line help them create potions that can aid in making wishes come true, and the animals on the line are able to communicate with their gods and help pass on their wishes. The area itself is magic, and the tribe always performs its wishing rituals on the line.
This documentary was very fun to make. It was not as hard as I had expected it would be to find people willing to act in my film. I expected some people to be shy about having to do silly things such as dance around or speak in a nonsense language. Only one person I filmed was slightly hesitant about this, but still ended up doing it anyway. It was difficult, however, to get a large number of people to participate in my wish dance. There were people who said they would do it, but ended up being unavailable. And most people simply just did not want to do it because they were too embarrassed. I worked around this in my documentary by saying that it was a “small” wish dance.
Overall, I am happy with the way that the documentary came out. I was amazed at the hours and hours of work that it took just to make a 7 minute film.
When I first started making my documentary, I was planning on having the whole thing outline the entire aspect of the lives of the Optatum people. It was going to go through their daily life, and talk about their rituals, make-up, clothing, diet, and government. However, when I had my meeting, I was told that it would be better if my documentary had more of a narrative running through it. There had to be some sort of conflict that would either get resolved or not at the end. I watched a few more documentaries on youtube to see how other people did this, and then came up with my own ideas.
I had my conflict be that the Optatum people were having a difficult time obtaining food. I found that adding this narrative into my documentary not only made it more interesting, but also helped me to organize and structure the entire film. I connected information about the society with the conflict, so that I was not just showing these two things separately in the video, but they were linked together.
While making my documentary, I found that I had a large amount of film that I had shot, but ended up not using. Here is a short compilation of some of the video that did not end up making it into my documentary. There are various reasons why these clips did not make the cut: some of them repeated information that was already told by the narrator, for instance, and some of the clips got ruined by laughter. Some of the film was, in the end, simply not needed.
In class, we brainstormed project ideas. We had to come up with 20 ideas for each of three categories: Realistic Ideas, Impossible Ideas, and a Combination of the two. Here are some of the most interesting ideas I came up with for each category:
- Realistic Ideas
- A wishing hut where one can meditate on their wish.
- Drawings with magical elements of wishes being fulfilled.
- Map that shows the hidden homes of wish granters on the line.
- Spots on the line that have magical wish granting capabilities.
- Impossible Ideas
- Constructing a wishing-well on the line.
- Inserting a portal on the line to a wish-granting land.
- Getting animals on the line to talk and tell me their wishes.
- Growing a magical, Avatar-like wishing forest on the line.
- Combination Ideas
- Making an animation of talking and wishing animals.
- Video-editing to make it seem like there is a wishing land portal.
- Research rituals for wish dancing, do them on the line.
- Video of society where wishes and magic are the basis of life.
This was only the first way we brainstormed ideas, however — next we got our peers involved! We made a word-map starting with our own words and connected related words to it. We then continued to branch out and write down words related to those words, and on and on. After a while of doing this to our own sheet of paper, we switched and wrote on other people’s paper.
Some interesting things to note — almost every single word in the class was somehow related to Harry Potter. Some people tried to do funny things, such as link the “Justin Bieber” to “girl.” Also, the words that other people circled on my sheet as being the best words to work off of and to use in my project are “Aspiration,” “Dream,” “Desire,” “Life,” “Happiness,” “Dandelions,” “Art,” “Rain,” “Rainbows,” “Shooting Stars,” and “Magic.”
My word for the line is Wish. Here are the three project proposals that I came up with, in order of my most favorite ideas to least favorite:
- Documentary: (This is the idea that I ended up doing)
Proposal: To create a documentary about a society that lives on the line. Every aspect of this society is based upon magic and the power of wishes. The society has many wishing rituals, such as rain dances and food dances when they want these things. They also have a magical healer who uses wish-granting potions to cure illnesses. This proposal was inspired by the explorations I did looking at different types of moss and small fungi, because I thought that they looked like miniature alien worlds, and I wondered about what kind of society could live inside of them. For this to happen, I would need actors, costumes, and possibly face paint.
Proposal: To make a movie about animals and plants on the line and their wishes. These “animals” would be people dressed in costumes. They would wish for various things, for example, a squirrel character might wish for the students to leave more food out so that they could steal it, or a grass character might wish for the animals to stop stomping all over it. This proposal was inspired by the explorations I did on different types of animals and plants that I found on the line.
In order to do this, I would need a few people willing to volunteer their time to be actors. I would also need fabric to make the costumes. I’d need to put together a script and figure out what each character wishes for and whether or not their wishes get granted.
For this project, I would want to discover and present the wishes of the animals and plants on the line that cannot talk and tell us their wishes themselves. Since the animals and plants in my video would be able to speak, it would bring to my movie the magical element of the word “wish.”
Proposal: To build a “wishing structure” on the line out of sticks and leaves. It would be a kind of shelter where people could sit inside and meditate on their wishes and how to make them come true. It would have flowers and moss to make it seem more magical, like a place where a woodland fairy might sit at to rest.
This idea was inspired by the explorations I did building a tepee and a chair, and also from spending a lot of time observing moss on the line.
I would try to make the structure pretty large, maybe around 6 feet tall and 7 feet wide. It would be mostly meant for sitting, but still would be large enough so that most people can stand inside easily. I would need to collect a lot of long sticks for this, and also use things such as sting to tie the sticks together. On the outside I would want to put a decorated piece of fabric over the structure. This fabric would list all sorts of different wishes that people make. On the inside it would have drawings of magical wish-granting things, to inspire whoever is sitting inside making their wishes.
If I made this structure, I would want people to realize the magical nature of making a wish. I would also want people to stop and take time to think about what they are wishing for — as the saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for.”
In this video, I walked the line and asked the people I came across what they wished for. After collecting a couple of answers, I decided to try to make their wishes come true, on the line of course!
One girl said that she wished “to be happy and healthy for the rest of my life!” For this exploration, I decided to focus on making the second part of her wish come true, and decided to find all the ways that the line can help to keep you healthy.
There are two key aspects to being healthy. These are exercising, and eating right. Below I will talk about various ways in which these things can be accomplished on the line.
The line includes many very steep hills. These are perfect for getting your heart rate up! Furthermore, going for a hike in the woods is much more fun and relaxing than just working out in a gym. Next time you feel like you need to burn some calories, try getting a few friends together to hike up the hills on the line!
The line offers many peaceful and secluded places that would be perfect for yoga. In fact, there are some explorers of the line who have already done this! You can read about there experiences here: Yoga on the Line. Yoga is a great way to stay healthy — it stretches the muscles, relaxes the body and therefore reduces stress, it helps improve posture, and it even helps you to get better sleep (something thats especially important in college!)
Have a Picnic
The picture above shows a great place to have a picnic at the top of the line on the Alfred State campus! Having a picnic here is good for two reasons: first of all, you have to get in your exercise by walking up the whole, steep thing, and second of all, you can have fun with your friends while eating healthy food! Why not try some of the food you can find on the line? (Learn about that here)