Write a Whistlegraph: Wrap Up
For three weeks in spring 2022, at Rhizome’s invitation, we held a series of workshops in which participants ages 13–18 could learn to write their own whistlegraphs.
Whistlegraphs are digital artworks that are performed manually by drawing and singing. Every whistlegraph starts with a blank page, eventually resulting in a poetic image through the performance of a reproducible score.
We held the first workshops over Zoom, working with small groups. Together we braved the latency of FigJam; navigating rehearsals, lectures, and thoughtful critiques of each other's work in our weekly sandboxes. By the end of the workshop, each student composed their own unique whistlegraph, which we learned and performed as one big cursor choir.
Next, with the support of Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, we brought the workshop curriculum to two educators in Queens, Danny Fisher and Alanis Vulpis, who used it as part of a four-week residency with approximately 20 participants at an after-school program at Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation (RDRC) in Far Rockaway, Queens.
Here's what got made, what we learned, and what we think is next!
✒️🎶 Featured Whistlegraphs
⭐️ I Love Jim by Hades
Jim is a whistlegraph for dads, about dads B-) Jim came to me while thinking about the dads that wear "Kiss the cook" aprons while working the grill. I <3 Jim!
⭐️Third Eye by Lane
My piece is called "third eye" and its about an eye ball and stuff like that xx xoxxo xxox also i Love anteaters xoxxooox xo😋😋😋😋😍😍😍🥳🥳🥳🥳 EYE BALL. Also my signature lookz like "lame" But my name is Lane i swear !!!!
📄 Collaborative Whiteboards
A finished workshop board for Day 3
View All Boards
🌐 What We Learned
These workshops flew by, and we’re already looking forward to our next ones! In the meantime, we’ve reflected on lessons learned from this experience.
The small size of the online workshops allowed a group intimacy to emerge, which was difficult to replicate with a larger in-person group.
The workshop format gave us a rare chance to engage with people in-depth around the whistlegraph format. Most of our interaction thus far has occurred over TikTok Live, where sincere questions and reflections often get lost in the comment stream.
The educators, Fisher and Vulpis, struggled to convey the whistlegraph activities to students until we visited the program in person. From this we learned that we need to provide much more structured prompts and tools for busy educators to incorporate into demanding in-class situations.
The whistlegraph format is a great point of departure for discussions about artistic composition, computer software, digital technology, social media, storytelling, and art history. It’s also a great way for people to express themselves individually and collaboratively.
⭐️What’s Next for the Whistlegraph Workshop?
Mobile, Web Based Educational Units for Physical Classrooms
After a great experience doing online workshops using the collaborative whiteboard software FigJam and visiting with some students in Queens we have come up with a new invention for classrooms!
- Recently, we’ve made online, interactive versions of 10 of our most popular whistlegraphs using a skeuomorphic card deck design pattern. 🃏
- We’d like to develop this software further into an interactive, flash-card-like activity. 🎓
- One stack of cards would be for instructors to learn and teach whistlegraphs from! 👩🏫
- And a second would be for participants to learn, draw, and record videos of their whistlegraphs, all on a phone, via their web browser! ✒️🎶 📲
- We’d love to use this software to teach and extend our workshop to as many people as possible, starting in public NYC classrooms!🗽