Monday, December 10, 2012

Using Tiny Planet Mobile App for Teen Art Project

Tiny Planet Japantown, San Jose
Tiny Planet Cupertino
Mayfair Community, San Jose Tiny Planet

Recently I have been exploring the mobile app Tiny Planet and, while it is kind of a novelty app, I think it can be used to engaging students in a discussion about the boundaries of neighborhoods and communities. Are these boundaries hard and fast? Are they blurred? In what contexts are neighborhood bounding lines fixed and in what ways are they blurry and moving? By taking photos of key landscapes in their communities and then taking the photos into the Tiny Planet app, students see their photos of neighborhood transformed into little planets, detailed swirly marbles floating in the sky. The resulting images speak to the notion of neighborhoods as worlds onto themselves.

A collage of these "neighborhood planets" in a public transit setting would playfully engage the viewer in questioning the existence of distinct edges to communities. These little planets are intriguing distortions of our environments. Perhaps this twisted lens can playfully highlight that we move through many communities in our daily lives and that our neighborhoods really are not islands or worlds onto themselves.

A wall of these planet would engage the viewer (waiting for the train or bus) in trying to identify the locations of the photos. The installation would invite the viewer to think about issues of community isolation, community openness, the youth perspective (as pictures are taken by teens), about the preciousness of neighborhoods, and perhaps can in some way engage the viewer to think about how we move through these spaces and connect them. We connect these dots.