Those of you who know me from way back know that in a previous life I had a minor obsession with Gertrude Stein. Still do in many ways, since the philosophy of her poetics and her experimentation with the material and the ideal, in influencing the way I think about the representation, have influenced my view of the world and sparked my interest in Freire and education (the short version).
So, even though I really abhorred the Woody Allen interpretation of Stein in Midnight in Paris (along with so many other things about that film), I would be tickled to see Ms. Stein reincarnated in the flesh to deliver a Ted Talk. I have no doubt that she’d still rock our world today.
As for my process, I struggled mightily to produce this, though I’m sure it doesn’t show. Initially, I was inspired by the “How to Get Your Vader On” tutorial on ds106 by Thomas Ella. But, I don’t have Photoshop, so I figured, it should be fairly easy to find a free version. Right? Well, not so much. Finally, I found GIMP and would recommend it highly for Mac users since it is compatible and has a lot of functionality. However, the program is not self-explanatory or easy to use, so I found myself Googling questions as simple as “How to fill a selected area with color?” Perhaps if I knew how to use Photoshop, those skills would have transferred, but I don’t know Photoshop (that well) either.
So as you will see, I cut out a photo of Stein from this image (by searching Google Images, of course):
Then I did a random search for Ted Talks and came up with this one given by Jill Bolt Taylor, which was curious, of course, since Stein was so interested in “the mind,” too. The camera angles seem right, so I used Grab to get this still (on right). Then, several Gimp tutorials later, I managed to cut the image of Stein from the photo and paste it into the Ted Talk still.
As you will see, I also replaced what is on the screen at Ted with a corner of the famous painting that Picasso did of Stein. Like other Ted Talk speakers, Stein was a woman before her time. Author of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and Everybody’s Autobiography, Stein understood that all representation is self-representation well before the emergence of post-structuralism or discourse theory (though Bakhtin was a contemporary). I thought it would be apt, therefore, that her moment in the Ted limelight would not only include the most popularized and iconic images we have of her, but that the talk about something else (i.e., “Stein on Picasso”) would ultimately be all about her (hence the portrait of her).
To that end, I also tried for quite some time to insert the intro to Ted Talks into iMovie and then add then audio from the UPenn archives of Stein’s “If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso” (a deliberately funny title, since the story about Picasso’s portrait of Stein is that the face remained uncompleted for ages while the friends discussed how Picasso should finish the work). I was too ambitious, it seems: not only could I not convert the .swf video file of the Ted intro from Jing into something that my iMovie ’09 would recognize, but I also don’t really know how to lay in .mp3 files into iMovie (I am a “just-in-time-learner” par excellence and frankly just lack the time right now).
So if any of the ds106 tech braintrust out there can offer any insights into the errors of my ways, I’d be ever so grateful. And, speaking of ambitions, I’m wondering if I anyone knows of a way to possibly animate Stein’s mouth? So it looks as if she’s speaking as the audio is running? I’m thinking of Vokis here and am wondering whether there’s any way to do a similar thing…with a free and relatively easy to use app, of course?! Thanks in advance for letting me know, if you know. I am hoping to resurrect this project for a future ds106 assignment.
(Project completed for the Fantasy Ted Talks assignment in the ds106 Visual Assignments collection: ”Create a scene from a TED Talk being given by a fictional character. Obscure or well known, feel free to have your fictional character pontificating on their story, and their “essential truth” that has come to be known as TED Talks.”).