Sep 04

A picture can launch a 1,000 stories

(Note: For those of you who are working on Slides Challenge 1 involving the picture of the house shown here, take a look at what two Baltimore artists did with this. Below the video is some explanation from a Blog that I wrote in the May issue of The Voice. But the short version is this: Artist wanted to do something about global warming and the rising seas. She saw this photo and thought she'd do a story from the perspective of the house. She then heard another artist sing and thought, 'that is the voice of the house.' They collaborated. And here is what they came up with. 

The Ballad of Holland Island House from Lynn Tomlinson on Vimeo.

Here is a copy of what I wrote in context with collaboration and trying new ideas ...

Writing has changed. It no longer is static and immutable and permanent. It's digital.
Words change from one moment to the next; revision is live. Reactions keep growing and changing as discussion becomes part of the piece. The words have sound or images, or the story is a collection of images or a video or sound with no words. Or it is words with music or narration. Or sometimes all of that.
     As YWP comes up to its 10th year (amazing) we can see that we've witnessed writing change right in front of our eyes. Examples: Back in 2007, a group of users created a joint account and wrote stories together. In 2009, a YWP writer, so moved by someone else's poem, turned it into a song; the writer then sent the songwriter a harmony track. 
     We've turned six-word stories into performance pieces. We've watched as a slammer turned her poem into a letter writing campaign against sexist advertising. We've listened to writers express themselves about coming out. 
     And it continues ... Just a few weeks ago we had a writer launch a photo-a-day project. Another YWP writer responded to one of the posted photos: That would be great to illustrate my poem. The response: Your poem gave me the idea for the photo. 
     Digital writing has media; it is collaborative and alive. And we've only scratched the surface of possibilities here at YWP. 
     So I bring you this creation on the right. 
     Disclaimer: The music track is by my daughter, Anna Roberts-Gevalt. History: Anna, way back when, helped get Young Writers Project started with the first series of published youth writing.
     The Ballad Of Holland Island is one of the most powerful digital stories I've seen; part of its power is how it was created. 
     Lynn Tomlinson, the visual artist, wanted to do something about the rising seas -- the net effect of global warming. She ran ran into a photograph of a lonely house in Chesapeake Bay, the last thing standing from the rising waters. Lynn wanted to do something, she wasn't sure what, using the house as the main character.
     She had heard my daughter perform. Anna's voice and fiddle playing, she thought, set the perfect mood for the piece she had not yet created. Lynn and Anna talked. Anna told her about traditional ballads. So Lynn wrote one. Anna recorded it.
     For the next few months, Lynn played the recording while she created her painting(s) using colored clay and stop-action photography to create the video. Anna re-recorded in the studio.  
     A photograph started the idea formation. Collaboration led to the writing of the words. Music created the mood and drove the painting. Combined, they make a powerful story that makes us want to do something, to rise up (sorry) and take action for change.
     Watch again and listen. Does it give you an idea for your own project? Tell us how we can help you pull it off. Message me. Email me. Call me.