Who Am I?
Reflection image of me, Isabel Martynenko.

Who Am I?

The Reflections unit was to focus deeply on who we truly are. This all ties back to the projects’ main question: "Who Am I?" Even though I have a good idea of who I want to be and where I am going in life, I never truly understood what makes me, well, me! How do other people view me? How does society label me? What do I first think of when I look in the mirror? For the Reflections unit at Freestyle, I had to really dive into my interests, personal thoughts, and personality to create these final projects. In English, we focused on reading articles and novels about first impressions, thin-sliced judgements, and what identity truly represents. We focused on both personal identity and other people's experiences with any sort of discrimination, invisibility, or microaggressions. In Design, we were assigned to take photographs of everyday objects that make up our life before narrowing that down to specific objects in our diptych shots with something that links to us personally. In Digital Media, I finally pieced this all together into this website. Below this decription, I start you off with my personal essay I wrote for colleges to see what type of artist I am. This was the first writing assignment I had in the reflections unit and it allowed me to look deeper on what type of animator I want to become. Click here to read my personal essay.

To open up the senior year in English class, we had a timed writing exercise to brainstorm ten lessons we have learned over the time spent at Freestyle. Being a Digital Media student, I creatd a Things I've Learned So Far Video after selecting the top five lessons. These five things have made me the hardworking, creative thinker I am today. Over my two years at Freestyle, I came to the conclusion that these five things are the most important to me: "Getting too attached to someone is exhausting." / "Early is always better"/ "Destroying things is necessary."/ "Gaining too much confidence can be harmful." / "We are never alone."

This is my Protools work process on the Things I’ve Learned So Far video project. I had to record my audio in the Freestyle studio and afterwards normalized the track to clean the quality of this recording. I chopped the audio into separate pieces so I could export these pieces individually as .mp3 files to later on put into AfterEffects.

Things I Learned So Far Protools Interface

This is my AfterEffects work process on the Things I’ve Learned So Far video project. I took each .mp3 audio file and put into each individual scene before putting them all together to create a smooth, clean audio for the video. I also used special effects and the zolly effect to emphasize some statements more than others.

Things I Learned So Far AfterEffects Interface
What Am I?

For this assignment, I decided to focus on the issue of mental illnesses. I interviewed someone really close to me who suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He described in detail on a small part of his life that stuck to him to this day. After listening to his story, I had to write a lyrical styled essay to both focus on the scenario of his situation and his thoughts flooding his mind during all of this. I am so thrilled that I got to focus on mental illnesses for this assignment and to shine some light on some specific ones with this piece. This is my lyrical essay:

You are sitting in solitude. Isolated. Relaxed. A perfect time to reflect on yourself. Sighs turn to whispers. Whispers turn to screams. Screams turn to static radio signals. Static radio signals turn to the ringing in your ears you hear when being knocked out. A punch to the face, to the skull, and to the brain. They torment you. They came out of nowhere. Why do they come at this time when you thought you were finally alone?

“You were alone, honey. Are you okay?”

You clench your head from the overbearing pain in your frontal lobe. Oh no, they are all there with you. All of them.

The English class of sophomore year flashed back to your consciousness. Suddenly, the group of students who went on a whole tirade of mental disorders being an excuse for attention could be heard again. Whenever stuff like this was brought up, you were not bothered. Why were you bothered that time? Well, how else can you put it? Being an individual who suffered from a plethora of mental instabilities for about twelve to thirteen years, you could not help but feel indirectly insulted by their commentary. This was during the Mental Health Awareness Week while reading the Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. Frankly, you are somehow suddenly in the shoes of the protagonist from the Tell Tale Heart who had some sort of representation of multi-personality and schizophrenic disorder.

It was obvious that these people have had not been exposed to mental illnesses enough to state a reasonable argument.

It’s not your fault for calling them out for saying such a thing. They were asking for it.

Lyrical Piece

A grand thank you to this dear person for allowing me to interview him and to shine light on this small yet delicate part of his life. My lyrical essay and my artwork above is a dedication to his mental illness struggles and all the people who are in the same position as him.

Where Am I?

For Design class, we had to create a black and white HDR diptych of something that connected to our personal essay we wrote in English. Since my essay was focused on the idea of telling a good story and how this was my transition from childhood to adulthood, I used my shoes to tell this visual story in this assignment. To give you a simple background, HDR is shot on a traditional camera by using mutliple shots of the same subject with different light exposure. My photographs range from five different types of shots: -2, -1, 0, 1, and 2. After these were taken, I go into Photoshop and I combined all five shots to create this beautifully detailed diptych.

Black and White Diptych Piece

This diptych reflected my personal essay that focused on me growing up with different styled cartoons and learning how to tell a good story from them. I used shoes as my focal points because when I look at them, I see a person and their story with each pair. The picture with the sneakers is supposed to represent a slice of my childhood where I started to really delve into my interests with cartoons and the creative freedom that comes with them. Whenever I see sneakers, I am reminded of my adventures on the playground with my old friends and how many childhood journeys I took in these types of shoes. Though, the other side of the diptych are showing my high heels. When I was child, I always strived to wear heels like my mom did. These shoes reflect the professionalism, maturity, and class I gained when it came to growing up. Even though these shoes are different in appearance and represent a different part of my life, I walked in both pairs to get through my life story. Each pair is a character in this story I am still developing to this day.

For the composition, I decided to place the left pair of shoes on the further left side and the right pair on the further right side of the diptych because I wanted to show a longer transition between each photograph. I did not place them all the way near the edge of the photos because I wanted them to still follow the rule of thirds. I also added a vignette to both photographs to make the focal points stand out more than they did before. In Photoshop, I selected each pair and used the curves adjustment layer to play around with the blacks, greys, and whites in the black and white photographs. For the sneakers, I adjusted the darker greys and white to increase their brightness and to add contrast between the two colors. For the heels, I darkened the shadows on the black heels while brightening the light greys to add texture to the shoes. Even though the wooden floor is a nice ground for the shoes’ placement, I wish I could have had more contrast between the two photos with backgrounds to reflect childhood and approaching adulthood.

This is my work progress in Photoshop for my Design class diptych photography assignment. I was making a selection on one of the heels before making an adjustment with the curve tool. I then took the eyedrop tool and picked a lighter grey area to brighten up the shoe's texture. Finally, I moved the curve up and down to see what RGB exposure would look best on the front heel.

What is next?

This project was introduced by asking us what our perspective is on something that we are passionate about. I have always really cared about the environment but have never really put something out there to show my love towards our planet. I am also an AP environmenal science student back at Los Altos High School and have been researching further on how much damage human beings are putting on the environment. Everyday, I leave that class discouraged and deeply upset with what the future of our planet looks like. That is why I took a more optimistic approach to this tragic yet highly important subject. In Digital Media, we had to use After Effects to create this video project. We recorded our written perspective and animated both 2D and 3D scenes. We learned how to use different cameras in the program and how to set up a 3D environment to make this video look more interesting and for it to be presented more professionally. I was honestly very excited about this project since it combined two of my passions: animation and environmental awareness. Below is my written out perspective:

I bet they’re looking down on us right now and laughing hysterically at what the human race is doing. “Amateurs”, they say amongst each other. They must think we’re stupid. Well, why not prove them wrong? What’s so great about some ignorant extraterrestrial’s opinion anyway about our planet? Who are they to judge? Bet they destroyed their planet in the most ridiculous way imaginable to begin with. Oh yeah? I bet you that they did not even look at the pros of the human race.

Okay yeah, you have a point there.

We have global warming and endangered species and a ton of pollution and let’s just say mother Earth is screaming as mankind is progressively dooming the planet more and more by the day.

Hey, give us some credit though.

We haven’t reached the stage of WALL-E where people are dragged around on hover chairs, sipping liquified foods, and left Earth to rot into an apocalyptic wasteland as they blast off into space for a life-long vacation. We’re still walking on our feet. We still have trees around us. We still consider the consequences of our actions to the environment. We just need to outnumber the people who could care less about the planet’s future with people who will actually drop everything that they are doing to go out there and help.

This is my Photoshop interface process of making a selection around WALL-E to crop him out of the poster's background. I later on use this selection in AfterEffects and animated him to peek out in his scene.

This is my AfterEffects interface process of working with the 3D environment and moving the camera around the astronaut scene. I used depth of field to give the background a blur and for the astronaut to stay in focus as the camera moves back from the scene.