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Guest Blogger Jacob Levy: “Make a Thing” – Snapchat Goes Analog

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Do you like watching “The Art Assignment” on PBS Digital Studios?  For this blog, I try out one of the projects for myself, inspired by John Herschend and Will Rogan. I’ve documented the process through writing as well as a vlog (video blog) and share my thoughts on how art can help us think about the relationships between people and between people and technology.

The Art Assignment Make A Thing

I have been writing about “The Art Assignment” for a while over the course of my internship with AETN, and it occurred to my editor and myself that it would make sense for me to actually do one of the assignments and write about it. I started by watching some more Art Assignment videos and chose “Make a Thing, inspired by Jonn Herschend & Will Rogan.” The assignment is inspired by their artist-run publication THE THING Quarterly and challenges viewers to take something from the digital world and make it physical.

I came up with the idea to make an analog Snapchat.  I chose Snapchat because it is a type of social media I use frequently but also because Snapchat emphasizes small, mundane moments in daily life rather than the seemingly perfect selfies and pictures of food that end up on Instagram or other similar social media sites. Snapchat’s messages are also typically ephemeral, meaning that they disappear almost immediately after they are received.

Of course, when taking something out of the digital world, one can change the very nature of how that thing operates. I did use a professional camera to take the picture, and the piece of paper I put in the tube was not intended to evaporate immediately after my friend looked at the picture. However, I tried to maintain that message I was sending was just a simple, “Hey,” and nothing too over-the-top. This was a fun way to flip ideas and notions people might have about social media. I thought it would be fun and interesting to transform something that is typically instant, mundane and ephemeral into something that is laborious, unique, and lasting.  While this process changed the original core mechanics of what a Snapchat is, I was able to borrow from Snapchat’s branding, and its ways to customize a message.

Jacob Levy Make A Thing

After I had my idea, I texted my friend Nina about the project and asked her if she wanted to be on the receiving end of the project. You see can the video I made about the process below:

The assignment was a great way to flex my artistic muscles and view communicating with friend in new ways.

Watch more videos from “The Art Assignment” here.

Jacob Levy is a junior at Hendrix College, a DJ at KHDX 93.1, an artist and a poet.  He loves learning and helping people find new ways to connect to the human experience through art. He enjoyed interning in the AETN marketing and outreach department during the summer of 2017.