How Do I Love Thee: A Synthesis in Three Parts

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Use fanworks to promote creative and social development while utilising the seven tools of creativity! http://j.mp/18nRu35

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In 1999, when I was fourteen, I was introduced to something called online fanfictions, which was discovered when I was surfing for webpages on animes, a newfound hobby my friends introduced to me. In one particular anime, Slayers, I discovered that I preferred the alternative pairing of Lina and Zelgadiss as opposed to Lina and Gourry, and I wasn’t the only one who thought that way. Thanks to the interwebs, I found other fans who supported that pairing, and I started to read and write fanfictions featuring that pairing. This was my first foray into the world of online fanworks, a hobby that forever changed my life to where it affected my creative and social development.

Some people may not consider fanworks to be “creative” since they are all based on media that already exist, so basically fanworks are reproduction created by fans. So some may argue that fanworks doesn’t promote creativity due to its “copying nature”, but I say it does. In fact, I want to promote fanworks as a tool to enhance creative and social development in adolescents (and even with people of all ages). It is commonly known that when children mature into teenagers, their cognitive thinking matures, they are able to think abstractly, and they began to see that the world is not simply black and white. They start thinking out of the box, and fanworks will allow them to do all that and more.

Fanworks opened a lot of new doors for me. I was introduced to a lot of writings by fellow fans — some of poor quality and some of excellent quality to where my mind would be blown away by the creator’s creativity. This exposure encouraged me to write my own fanfictions, and I also began to learn how to make and code webpages and teach myself to use graphic design programmes like PhotoShop. These activities allowed me to also communicate with other fans online where distance was a thing of the past. It was quite normal for me to have online friends in New York to Argentina to Germany to Australia, and we’d all squeal about the fandom that has brought us together. For me, Harry Potter fandom was the most influential. It was the fandom where I wrote a lot of fanfictions, participated in various online events like a writing festival (also known as “fests”), ran my own fests, helped others with their own writings by being “beta readers” (as in “proofreaders”), and befriended many like-minded fans who were there for me through my life challenges in the form of work and school. Fanworks taught me to be net savvy, to know how to be social online in ways that were very rewarding.

The world of Harry Potter allowed me to be creative through many approaches. When I think about the seven tools of creativity and how they apply to the world of fanworks, it all comes together in the end. Through CEP 818, I was given the chance to see how I could break down fanworks through these seven tools, and for the past several weeks, I’ve come to these conclusions.

Perceiving
Perceiving is the ability to use our five senses to “study” an idea or a concept that can be re-imaged or re-changed through our individual perspective. Creators who make their own fanworks are already doing that. They are taking something that already exists and are re-making and re-interpreting it into something of their own. For example, I believe that Luna Lovegood is a much better love interest for Harry Potter, but J.K. Rowling paired Harry up with Ginny Weasley. Being sorely unhappy about that outcome, I wrote fanfics that paired Luna and Harry together because in my mind, I perceived that these two are better suited for each other. That was what I came to believe in my interpretation of the original work, and that belief stimulated me to feature that pairing in my own fanworks.

Patterning and Abstracting
Patterning and abstracting are two tools that interrelate with each other — at least they do for me. When it comes to fanworks, tropes and clichés appear in works fans love. Whether it’s a movie or a book or a video game, they all have familiar tropes and clichés like the typical wise, old mentor such as Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings or Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter. Recognising these tropes help fans better understand the work, and understanding it allows abstracting to occur. Abstracting, for me, is to find the “essence” of the work, and once we find the essence in a particular movie or book or game, it will help us discern the “patterns” in the works in the forms of tropes and clichés. And from there we can create our own fanworks by deconstructing the original tropes and clichés and then change and re-pattern them into something different and familiar at the same time.

Embodied Thinking, Modelling, and Playing
Like patterning and abstracting, these tools also interrelate with one another. Fanworks in itself is a form of play. For many of us, fanworks are meant to be fun, a way for us to escape reality. As us fans imagine about alternate scenarios in fanworks, we can then model some of these concepts (through mediums like cosplaying), and modelling then allows us to use embodied thinking — meaning, as we model (cosplay), we combine our physical and emotional senses to bring abstract concepts to be more concrete. An example would be when I wore my Harry Potter costume on Halloween, a fun activity that allowed me to sense and feel to be a magical person, all the while wearing a robe and holding a wand. That experience is something that can then be translated into the fanwork I create, and by doing all that, I am having a terrific time.

Synthesising
Once we understand the six tools, we can then combine all of them into the final tool of creativity — synthesising. With fanworks, the finished product has gone through a synthesis. From the very first moment a creator perceive a particular work to finding the pattern and then abstracting them through embodied thinking, modelling, and playing — the finished story, art, costume, video, music, or any other medium of their choice are the synthesised product. Creativity itself is a complex journey, and thus a completed fanwork also goes on a long, fulfilling passage.

Breaking down fanworks through these seven tools of creativity has allowed me to see fanworks in a different light. Prior to doing these assignments, I’ve always been a proponent of fanworks as a way to encourage young people to be creative, but now I’ve come to appreciate fanworks even more after deconstructing them and applying the seven tools to further understand the concept.

Creativity is said to be trans-disciplinary in nature, where understanding arts, sciences, and maths is crucial to encouraging a well-rounded creative mindset. Fanworks itself is also well-rounded, too. Think about how many fanworks activity are done online. In order to participate in online fandoms, we’d have to be technologically savvy with computers and Internet, or at the least know how to use them to do minimal tasks. If we want to write fanfics, then we’d have to learn how to write and understand grammar and other literary devices to deliver a good piece of work. Same thing with fanarts, fanmixes, fanvideos, and cosplaying — one would have to learn the skills of drawing, song writing, video making, or sewing to create in these forms.

Creators are not just limited to being in a single medium. Many fans do multiple mediums of their choice. Some may write fanfics and also draw fanarts, and others may do cosplaying and video making. Like myself, I primarily write fanfics because writing is something I do best. I cannot draw at all, but I enjoy graphic manipulation through PhotoShop, so I can also create icons and other graphics in the fandom of my choice, and I use that skills to create graphics for my webpages that can then be a showcase of my fanworks.

Fanworks encompass many other positive attributes that contributes to one’s creative development. Online fanworks promote global and cultural exchanges. I mentioned before that I made friends all over the world, and I thank fanworks for that. My interest in animes, mangas, and video games influenced me to love Japanese culture and language, and same thing with me liking Harry Potter, which led me to adore British culture. These exposure has allowed me to experience diversity, and whatever I learn about food, the language, the culture — I can then share them in my own fanworks. Even my own location (that being Seoul, South Korea), my own experience of living in a different culture can be brought over into fanfics that takes place in South Korea, and by doing that, I share Korean life and culture with other fans who read my work.

Sharing what I know through fanworks and consuming through fanworks have been an enriching experience for me since 1999. I have seen this in many fans online, and all of these can also be done offline, too, amongst friends who share fanworks and create fanworks together in a face-to-face environment. Understandably, fanworks will not be for everyone, but it still can be something we can allow people to try. And if they do like it, then why prohibit them from expanding their creativity? Let them explore the endless boundaries of creativity. Let them discover the infinite possibilities of what fanworks and technology can offer as they use the seven tools of creativity in their own ways. And let them break down physical barriers such as distance as they “meet” fans from all over the world and become worldly in their own self-development. And lastly, fanworks is great for people of all ages. Whether they are twelve or forty, anybody can create their own works if they want!

Modelling and Dimensional Thinking Graphical Depiction

Modelling and Dimensional Thinking Graphical Depiction

I am a Hogwarts student, hear me roar! These two photos show my Halloween costume from 2006, and this right here is a form of cosplay. Cosplay is where fans put together costumes of their favourite characters (or create a character within that fandom’s universe) and they wear their costumes in public (like at a convention) to show their love of that particular fandom. Cosplaying is not limited to Halloween, and it can occur anytime of the year. I chose to cosplay a Hogwarts student that year, and this took months of preparation. I bought the robe, the tie, the wand, and the patch separately online, and my awesome friend knitted me that scarf. I chose my Hogwarts House to be Slytherin because I identified myself as as that back then.

Some cosplayers are real professionals who take the time to sew their costumes from scratch, and they even purchase wigs and style them! See below a group cosplaying characters from Persona 4, a video game, compared to the original character designs. Such attention to details are commonplace for cosplayers.

persona4 Persona 4 Cosplayers

Original cosplay photo found via Platinumukatsuku’s Tumblr and character design photo found here.

Perceiving Reflection

The exercise I did a few days ago on perceiving has left me thinking about how it is an important tool that affects creativity and individualistic thinking. Perceiving, to me, is interconnected with re-imaging, and is the ability to use our five senses to “study” an idea or concept that can be re-imaged with our unique perspective. Perceiving can be brief or it can be something that takes some time, depending on the individual and the subject matter; re-imaging comes next, a tool where one can use their imagination to re-create the perceived subject.

That is what I did with the “Rune of Punishment” song — for years I had listened to the song, but I had never listened to it in a way that allowed me to analyse the song. My analysis revealed to me a hidden instrument (the viola) and an interlude that emitted a hopeful mood instead of a melancholic one. I took the next step to re-image the song and thought about how the song would be if it were slower, or if the song would sound different if the instrumentation had changed. That led me to remember the second piece that featured the melody, and I also remembered that I had arranged the song on the piano a few years ago.

Rune of Punishment Midi File | Rune of Punishment Sheet Music

My arrangement is really simple because that is the level I can play at. I arranged the piece at a faster tempo because it gives the song a more frantic feel, and because it is a tempo I prefer playing at because the slower tempo would put me to sleep! When I did the perceiving exercise, I came to the realisation that my arrangement of the song is a form of “fanmix”. I also realised that fanmix should not be limited to fan-made soundtracks, but fan-made arrangements could also fall under this category. Music arrangers are taking pieces they know and are “re-creating” the pieces with new elements that make the piece familiar, yet different.

This “epiphany” of mine also reminded me of a very famous video game remix/fanmix site called OverClocked ReMix. This site and community have over 2,000 fan-made remixes from more than 500 fans. Fans who love video game music arranged and remixed their favourite songs to something of their “own” — their own tribute, so to say. For these fans, the music made an impact on them, and it helped their creative juice flow after they perceived these songs.

My own arrangement is nothing on the level of those on OC Remix. I will be the first to say that my piano skills are mediocre. However, that does not stop me from loving music, and there are just some songs that affect me to the point of wanting to learn how to play it on the piano, and figure out how to play it at my own level. My perceived notion of the song is “I love it, love it, love it — must learn it now on the piano so I can play it!”, and I then re-imaged it. Perceiving is a key to the door of creativity; if the individual feels something with their perceiving, they will unlock new ideas and concept that will contribute something similar or new to an existing idea. And that is the essence of fanworks.

Perceiving a Familiar Song

A couple of years ago, one of my online friends couldn’t get into a sad mood for a fanfic she’d decided to write. She asked her LiveJournal friends for some song recommendations. I recommended “Rune of Punishment ~ Meeting the Cursed Rune” from a video game called Suikoden Tactics or Rhapsodia, a song that’s actually remixed from the original version in Suikoden IV.

Later, she told me that this song had her sobbing, and it had done the job of getting her in a very melancholy mood to write her fanfic. It pleased me to know that the song had the right effect on her, and that alone intrigued me because, unlike me, she didn’t know the whole story of the song’s origin, on what the whole “Rune of Punishment” was, and how it was cursed.

I re-listened to the song today, and this time I really “listened” to it, and I picked up a lot of different things this time. Sure, I knew the melody and the harmony, I knew that the piano opened up the song, but I somehow missed the fact all these years on how a viola comes in next, not the violin. I picked up other things like how the viola, the violin, and the piano all play the main melody in different parts of the song, and I picked up how the interlude actually sounds like it is in a major key instead of a minor one.

With these thoughts in mind, I begin to re-image the song differently in mind. I thought about how it’d sound if different instruments played the piece, wondered how much more depth it could have, whether the mood will still be the same or not, or even if the tempo change will affect the piece. I re-image the song where it was a duet with a piano and a cello or a string bass, and I pondered on whether it being too “gravelly” sounding, but still sounds haunting compared to it being played on a flute or a clarinet.

After I re-imaged the song, I then remembered another song on the soundtrack that reuses the melody, and the song’s called “Epilogue for the 108 Stars” from Suikoden IV.

The melody comes in at 3:00, and I listened to it featuring a much slower tempo and a more diverse instrumentation, while still keeping the spirit of the other version, still maintaining its haunted, melancholic mood. I cannot say which version I like better — I like both versions, each with their subtle differences.