My name is Matt Fremstad, and I am currently a senior, in architecture, at North Dakota State University. This is a reflection of my work from English 357, Visual Culture and Language. Overall, the portfolio, demonstrates my understanding of the nature of the course. More specifically, it shows my ability to bring together ideas from different sources and media, and my ability to communicate effectively for different audiences through different genres. This is shown to an extent throughout all of the assignments, but here I will highlight just a few.
The assignments we completed were the timeline, photo essay, and the remix. Each assignment requires different material and different pieces of information. For example, the remix involves pulling together still images, video, music, and text into one message. On top of this, the remix requires knowledge of video and audio editing programs, and ability to see how all of these different pieces can come together to create a message. The photo essay, on the other hand, requires fewer pieces of media as video and audio are not usually included. This, in turn, made it simpler to assemble the photo essay as compared to the remix, but made it more difficult to convey a message as there are fewer options available. In regards to the remix, there is not necessarily a definition of what it should look like, or what forms of media it should include thus greatly broadening the possibilities of the final result.
In my opinion, the timeline came across as the most readable, whereas the photo essay is on the other end of the spectrum. This is partly because it is difficult to explain a subject that many people are not entirely familiar with, “pedestrian friendly cities.” Although this was the main topic for both of these assignments; the photo essay proved to be much more difficult for me. The timeline involved describing the subject in a more abstract way, using iconic symbols while the photo essay used a much higher degree of realism through photography and text. I found that it is very difficult to get a point across in just photographs as a picture says a thousand words. However, there are too many different messages conveyed and the purpose becomes cloudy. Of course, text was included in the essay, but I felt myself compensating for what the photos did not show clearly. This led to a photo essay that was nearly text specific instead of being mostly image driven.
The only assignment that I revised was the timeline. It came with the addition, and correction of text. The addition of text in the lower right hand corner will help to more clearly describe the overall purpose of the timeline. On top of this, I changed the title as it may have been misleading.
I think the strengths that are apparent in my work have come about because of my previous experiences. Referring back to the timeline again, I feel the end result is similar in some ways to architectural boards. They both include a similar balance between text and images. The timeline, like architectural boards, can both have a significant amount of text included, and the images in the timeline and the architectural boards are often iconic or representational in form. A timeline will use symbolic images to represent a physical object often times rather than using a physical photo. Likewise, architectural boards, use images to represent what the building may look like through floor plans or other drawings, but it will never be as detailed as the building itself. I would also consider photography to be another strength of mine. I do not think that this strength showed through the photo essay as well as it could have. The images are rather small with the format I chose to use, which makes it more difficult to see the different components of the photo. For this reason, I have included some photos in the architectural work section of my portfolio.
I feel my biggest weakness was myself. I seemed to reach a point where it was difficult to take my work that extra step. Instead of reaching out and getting that A grade, I hit a plateau and became stuck. Other than this, I would say other weakness of mine is my writing ability. I have never considered myself to be a great writer, although, I have greatly improved since high school. In hindsight, it would have beneficial to talk to classmates or Professor Brooks outside of class more. They would have given me an extra set of eyes that could potentially help me push the projects further and provide suggestions in terms of writing.