Putting Your Work 'Out There'

December 01, 2016

Putting your work “out there” takes a lot of courage, especially when you run the risk of receiving negative criticism. After winning a video competition at the International Conference on Computational Creativity, Alida Horsley shows why daring to share your work opens doors to opportunities you may have never foreseen.

Do it! The fear of rejection or unfair criticism is difficult to overcome, but you just have to plug your nose and dive in.

Watch the award-winning documentary below:

What motivated you to submit your video to the International Conference on Computational Creativity (ICCC)?

SIAT professor Philippe Pasquier, who was interviewed in my winning documentary Hidden Pasts, Digital Futures: Generations, encouraged me to apply because he thought it would be a good fit for the ICCC’s video competition.

As a “jack of all trades,” I’m always searching for groups like ICCC that concentrate on the intersection between numerous studies like computation and creativity. I couldn’t pass up the chance to join the conversation!

How did it feel to put your work “out there?”

It was exciting! It has taken me a lot of practice to get used to putting myself and my work “out there.” At first, my classmates, instructors, and advisors basically had to wrestle me to talk about my work; I was very afraid of being perceived as bragging.

SIAT co-op advisor, Stephanie Greaves, gave me some of the greatest advice to get over that fear: I had put an immense amount of care and effort into my work, so I should be respectful to myself and my time by sharing about my passions and how well my work has done.

Now I’m a bit of an adrenaline chaser! Passion and excitement creates even more passion and excitement, and I’m always happy to be a “rabble-rouser” or “hype-person”.

How did it feel to have your documentary awarded first place?

I was pretty stumped. I honestly hadn’t thought that far ahead—I guess that’s a good way to mediate expectations! Jokes aside, I was honoured to receive such recognition for my work. It still feels surreal.

What was the inspiration behind your documentary?

Part of why SIAT professor Kate Hennessy and the artists of SFU’s Hidden Pasts, Digital Futures: Generations exhibit took me on to create this documentary is because the intersection between art and science is a huge part of who I am as a creator. I was excited to provide a group of great creators a platform to talk about their projects, process, and thoughts about this budding field of study.

Additionally, I’m passionate about computer science, especially the concept of ‘generativeness,’ but I have often found that the methods and jargon people use to talk about computer science make it much more inaccessible than it should be. I wanted to try my hand at explaining generativity in a way that would help people see how much of an intersection there is between computer science and art.

What was the process of creating the documentary like?

It was honestly the most challenging project I’ve completed; from organizing interviews, to setting up lighting, to editing audio and video, I did it all. I had to focus on research and organization, and had to ask for more advice on how to make the process manageable for one person to complete.

Even though preparation involved a great deal of less “glamorous” work (like transcribing the interviews with time codes!), I had more control over the project. However, I wish I could have had the foresight to know when I had too much material. Each of the artists I was interviewing was so interesting! I wanted to know so much about what they were saying, but having too much content makes your life miserable when editing.

What was most interesting about this project?

I really enjoyed interviewing each person involved with the Generations exhibit; getting to know the inner workings of each artist’s project was fascinating. I wish the documentary could have been longer because everyone had so many interesting things to say! It was a great experience to be able to listen to such passionate, first-hand knowledge.

Additionally, many of the SIAT faculty members I interviewed gave me a great deal of mentorship. After I completed this documentary, I got to do a directed study with Steve DiPaola in the iVizlab, and Philippe encouraged me to enter my documentary in the ICCC video competition.

What was most challenging about this project?     

I was originally partnered with one other person for this project, but due to circumstance, ended up having to complete the project on my own. It’s difficult, because failed partnerships can be a hit to the ego—and even insulting at times. However, this situation taught me that not everyone might care about a project as much as you do. Maybe they could have expressed their disinterest in a better way, but it’s nothing personal. In the end, it may be more difficult, but any project can be completed on one’s own.

How has IAT prepared you for this endeavor?

The coursework from IAT 344 and mentorship from Kate Hennessy provided the background knowledge for this project. Additionally, classes like IAT 202 and IAT 313, which involve media studies and video work, helped me to develop basic conceptual and video editing skills. Overall, SIAT has helped me to be capable and comfortable with managing and completing all aspects of a project.

Any words of advice for other students who are also hoping to share their work at competitions?

Do it! The fear of rejection or unfair criticism is difficult to overcome, but you just have to plug your nose and dive in. Good criticism is hardly ever personal. So many amazing experiences and great stories come out of throwing yourself out there.