Teresa Brazen http://www.teresabrazen.com Exploring the world through design, film, art and conversation Thu, 12 Jun 2014 01:01:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The sad state of news media, the hunt for good content & more on UX Discovery Sessionshttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/the-sad-state-of-news-media-the-hunt-for-good-content-more-on-ux-discovery-sessions?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-sad-state-of-news-media-the-hunt-for-good-content-more-on-ux-discovery-sessions http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/the-sad-state-of-news-media-the-hunt-for-good-content-more-on-ux-discovery-sessions#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 19:32:43 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2671 In this episode of UX Discovery Sessions, Gerard Dolan and I talk about some of the workshops I teach at Cooper (Design Leadership, Designing Culture, UX Boot Camp), what’s been happening with news content (the sad degradation of it), some sources I like for better content/stories, and my fantasy of creating a designing culture conference for startups. Thanks, Gerard, for a lovely conversation!

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You can grow ideas in the garden of your mindhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/you-can-grow-ideas-in-the-garden-of-your-mind?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=you-can-grow-ideas-in-the-garden-of-your-mind http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/you-can-grow-ideas-in-the-garden-of-your-mind#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 18:02:37 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2667 )

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From Superman to the Avengers: Rethinking Bruce Mau Designhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/from-superman-to-the-avengers-rethinking-bruce-mau-design?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=from-superman-to-the-avengers-rethinking-bruce-mau-design http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/from-superman-to-the-avengers-rethinking-bruce-mau-design#comments Fri, 17 Jan 2014 18:32:54 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2654 [Excerpt from an article I wrote for UX Magazine. Full article here.]

Everyone loves a hero. But what happens to

organizations when their heroic leaders retire?

Four years ago, Bruce Mau Design (BMD) faced this dilemma. The company’s infamous founder, Bruce Mau, left so that he could create a platform to address bigger global issues that were meaningful to him called the Massive Change Network. Those who remained at BMD and its new President and CEO, Hunter Tura, were presented with an interesting opportunity: reinvention.

Curious about the culture of BMD today, I interviewed Tura in his Toronto office. Here are some takeaways for teams and organizations from their evolution.

Rethink Your Mental Model

Bruce Mau Design was founded upon what Tura describes as the “Superman model,” which meant the founder was seen as the “creative auteur” of the company. Mau’s exit gave the BMD team an opportunity to rethink how they positioned themselves, what services they wanted to offer, and how they wanted to work together. Read the rest of the article here.

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What’s Culture Got to Do With It?http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/whats-culture-got-to-do-with-it?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=whats-culture-got-to-do-with-it http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/whats-culture-got-to-do-with-it#comments Wed, 15 Jan 2014 18:12:07 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2645 In short, everything.

Does your work culture make it challenging for your team or organization to do great work? Well this could be the year you make it better. Have a look at this talk I gave at Fluxible 2013 about the role and impact of culture on organizations…and tips for improving yours.

Make Culture, Not War: The Secret to Great Teams & Organizations

If this talk inspires you, perhaps you and a few folks from your team/organization might want to check out our newly launched 1-day Designing Culture Master Class at Cooper. This training aims to help people intentionally approach their team or organizational culture – through a cultural assessment, visioning and goal-setting exercises, and development of a tactical plan to improve their culture (some of the topics I hits on in my talk below). I’ll be facilitating this workshop along with Susan Dybbs, Managing Director of Interaction Design at Cooper, in our San Francisco offices on Friday, January 31st.

We are also offering Designing Culture in-house training for organizations that would benefit from having a larger group (management, teams, etc) go through this process together. Contact us at cooperu@cooper.com for details.

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Soul+Mates: My latest creative project, Dec 4-7 in San Franciscohttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/soulmates-my-latest-creative-project-dec-4-7-in-san-francisco?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=soulmates-my-latest-creative-project-dec-4-7-in-san-francisco http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/soulmates-my-latest-creative-project-dec-4-7-in-san-francisco#comments Sat, 16 Nov 2013 22:59:46 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2634

For the last 6 months, I’ve been creating a short film, Amalga(mate), as part of a collaboration with Choreographer Stacey Printz and her dance company, Printz Dance Project. The entire project is about the concept of soul mates — are they real, how do you find them, what form do they come in, etc. The evening starts with an exhibition of my film + photography by Andre Hermann. Then everyone moves into the theater space for a dance performance by Printz Dance Project. The set alone is worth coming to see (designed by Sean Riley). I also interviewed 8 people about soul mates & audio clips from that conversation will be integrated into the film soundtrack and the live dance performance. Lastly, electronic music artist Kraddy is creating the music score for my film and the dance performance. This short video about the entire project that will give you a sense of all the players involved. Please come, and bring friends!

Dates: Dec 4-7
Location: Z Space, 450 Florida Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Time: Exhibition from 7-8, Dance performance starts at 8. On Saturday Dec 7 there is also a matinee (3pm exhibit, 4pm dance performance).
Tickets: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/929505

 

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Design, art, film and bicycle safarishttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/design-art-film-and-bicycle-safaris?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=design-art-film-and-bicycle-safaris http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/design-art-film-and-bicycle-safaris#comments Sat, 09 Nov 2013 16:18:14 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2594 Excerpt from a fun little interview I did with the Fluxible folk to promote a talk I’m doing at their conference, Sept. 14th: Make Culture, Not War: The Secret to Great Teams & Organizations. I’m really looking forward to this event; they are doing a great job of thinking of ways to make the experience much more fun and engaging than your average (boooooring) conference. You should come play with us in Canada!

—————

We have to admit we have a bit of a crush on Teresa Brazen. This super talented multimedia whiz is a Design Education Strategist at Cooper, where she draws upon experiences from a wide range of disciplines to inspire curriculum, teach, and build community.

Teresa’s interest around questions like how we might invest in relational chemistry or integrate new team members have driven her most recent work on designing culture, a topic on which she has both spoken and blogged. She also uses film to explore her curiosities, some of which have been featured in galleries around the world, including the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

And oh yeah — did we mention she’s also a talented artist? Swoon! It’s easy to see why we’re thrilled to have Teresa joining us at Fluxible this year.

We recently chatted with Teresa about design, culture and a few things Canadian.

Q: What’s the one UX tool you couldn’t live without? 

The honest answer is empathy. This industry has taught me a great deal about how to step outside of my own shoes so that I can really see and understand the experience of others. That has come especially handy in my culture work, because one of the foundations of a healthy team culture is having empathy for your collaborators. Really understanding what they need, their point of view, what they listen for in conversations. It’s funny — we spend an awful lot of time learning about users, but we don’t apply those same skill sets to the people we work with every day.

Read the rest of the interview on Fluxbile.ca!

 

 

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Interview on CBC’s Spark: Designing Workplace Culturehttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/interview-on-cbcs-spark-designing-workplace-culture?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=interview-on-cbcs-spark-designing-workplace-culture http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/interview-on-cbcs-spark-designing-workplace-culture#comments Sun, 22 Sep 2013 16:46:00 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2630 I’m thrilled to be a part of this episode of “Spark” (A show about culture and technology with the lovely host Nora Young, for those not familiar. It’s a popular show on CBC radio, essentially Canada’s NPR.). I discuss how workplace culture impacts the ability of teams to be creative/innovative – and what you can do about it. I’m on at about 25 minutes into the show.

Synopsis:

Why it’s still as important as ever to build and nourish community online. Designing workplace culture to foster innovation. The NSA is watching you, what can you do? And, if this is the age of global connection, why are we still hanging out in our own digital backyards? Listen here.

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Fundraiser for a new project: Soul+Mateshttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/fundraiser-for-my-new-project-soulmates?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fundraiser-for-my-new-project-soulmates http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/fundraiser-for-my-new-project-soulmates#comments Mon, 09 Sep 2013 01:47:11 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2618 Join us this THURSDAY, Sept 12th as we drink wine, share good eats, watch snippets of dance, and raise money for an exciting new collaboration! Tickets: http://printzdance.eventbrite.com

I’m excited to announce that I’ve been invited to work with choreographer Stacey Printz on a new dance performance + art exhibit. The show, “Soul+Mates”, explores longing, love, and its longevity in our 21st century reality through visceral contemporary dance.

For this project, I am writing, directing and acting in a short film about the search for “the one”. Electronic artist Kraddy is creating a musical score, using audio snippets from an interview I conducted with eight intriguing individuals about their own search for love. I’m also working with my long-time favorite cinematographer, Brandon Hopp, who has been my creative partner-in-crime for many of my short films.

The film will be shown on the night of the Soul+Mates dance performance, along with photography by the talented Andre Hermann, at the awesome Z Space in San Francisco. Tickets aren’t on sale YET (show will run November 30-December 8), but if you are Bay-area-based, you are invited to join all of us in a fun evening to raise $ for the entire project . Details below:

Printz Dance Project’s Fall Mixer and Performance

Join the dancers and other prominent guests from the Marin and SF art community for drinks, hors d’oeuvres and conversation at Servino’s in Tiburon. 

When: September 12th, 6:30-9:30pm

Where: Servino’s, 9 Main Street, Belvedere, Tiburon, CA 94920

Tickets: http://printzdance.eventbrite.com

Enjoy live music, a preview dance performance by Printz Dance Project at 7:30PM, and bid on a wide variety of silent auction items to support Printz Dance Project and their upcoming production. Find out more about this hot up and coming dance company that is taking SF by storm, and get the early buzz about its next production: Soul+Mates.

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Designing Culture: New Ways to Think About Workhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/designing-culture-new-ways-to-think-about-work?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=designing-culture-new-ways-to-think-about-work http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/designing-culture-new-ways-to-think-about-work#comments Sat, 10 Aug 2013 02:15:27 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2588 How might we…
  • invest in relational chemistry?
  • encourage personal leadership?
  • integrate new team members?
  • gain alignment around vision?

These are just a few of the questions I pushed a thoughtful group of folk to explore (with the aid of the fabulous Kendra Shimmell. Thanks, Kendra!) in July’s Cooper Parlor, Designing Culture. The evening was focused on ways to be intentional about creating a creative culture and work environment. 70 attendees from design, digital technology, city government, engineering firms, art museums and more shared their desires, challenges, and experiences in shaping the culture of their workplaces.

We also looked at case studies of companies taking  innovative approaches to culture, such as:

  • Morning Star’s practice of asking staff to write personal mission statements for how they will help the company achieve its goals (side note: they don’t have managers; they are beholden to their mission statement and one another). Read more about them in this fantastic article by Gary Hamel.
  • Whirlpool’s “The Real Whirled”  (yes, a play on MTV’s The Real World) deep-immersion onboarding program. Seven new employees lived in one house outfitted in Whirlpool products for 2 months, visited manufacturing plants, research centers, stores, service calls, and more, to gain a deeper understanding and empathy for customers and colleagues.
  • Salesforce’s Personal Excellence Program, based on the philosophy that when staff value personal development, teams benefit. Select staff focus on an area of personal development for eight months through facilitated groups and individual coaching.

We all walked away from this Cooper Parlor with new ways to think about work. See for yourself in the video of the event below, and if you feel so inspired, share a culture tip or trick in the comments so we can all benefit and grow from your knowledge. If  your team would benefit from a workshop like this one, drop us a line about custom training at cooperu@cooper.com. We love making house calls. 

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Designing Culture at Interaction 13http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/designing-culture-at-interaction-13?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=designing-culture-at-interaction-13 http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/designing-culture-at-interaction-13#comments Wed, 10 Jul 2013 02:54:37 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2601 I had an amazing opportunity to lead a group of designers and managers through a Designing Culture workshop at the Interaction 13 conference this year. They dug into their team/organization culture, their current impact upon it, and uncovered opportunities to make change. Then, they created new practices to take back to work and try out (gleaned from examples of experiments that other companies are trying, techniques they heard from other participants, and individual brainstorming exercises).

Here’s a 1 minute snapshot to give you an idea of what the day was like:

And here is just one of the fabulous participants (the lovely Angel Anderson) who made the experience so special (with a worksheet of new practices).

Thanks to the Interaction Design Association for the opportunity to meet such great people and help them cultivate healthier, more engaged cultures.

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Give a German a Microphone…http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/give-a-german-a-microphone?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=give-a-german-a-microphone http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/give-a-german-a-microphone#comments Tue, 04 Jun 2013 14:00:38 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2562 and she will sing karaoke. No joke; Germans are karaoke-crazy. And I have to hand it to them: they really get the point of the sport (can you call it that?) because no matter how much you suck, you will be cheered on. Guaranteed. It’s equal opportunity karaoke in Germany, people.

Here’s a peek at a weekly karaoke jam in a park in Berlin. A British guy has been showing up on Sundays for years with his karaoke equipment, drawing a crowd of singers and watchers. I loved this particular crooner who broke out with the classic, “Mack the Knife”, acapella, in German. Oh, yeah.

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The Sound of Cause & Effecthttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/the-sound-of-cause-effect?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-sound-of-cause-effect http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/the-sound-of-cause-effect#comments Sun, 02 Jun 2013 13:42:53 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2560 10,000 faces cover a floor. You are invited to walk across them, and you do, even though they clang, bang, and stare up at you in pained expressions, making uncomfortable sounds that echo off the cement walls. Their grief is amplified, and you are its source. Or are you?

If ever in Berlin, don’t miss this amazing installation at the Jewish Museum, “Fallen Leaves” by Menashe Kadishman, dedicated to the innocent victims of war and violence.

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The Great UX Debatehttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/the-great-ux-debate?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-great-ux-debate http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/the-great-ux-debate#comments Sun, 31 Mar 2013 21:18:48 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2533 Are designers responsible for the impact of their work upon human behavior?
Is it actually possible to create “connected” experiences across devices?
Do designers need to speed up, or do stakeholders need to slow down?

In January, Angel Anderson, Mikkel Michelsen, Robb Stevenson, Lou Lenzi, Donald Chestnut, and I poked and prodded at these topics during the Interaction 13 conference. About 500 people attended the debate, and they threw their own perspectives into the mix in the latter part of the conversation. Have a listen in the video below.

(And thanks to SapientNitro for the opportunity to meet such interesting people, expand my own perspective, and make use of what I learned on my high school debate team. Ha!)

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Designing Culturehttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/designing-culture?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=designing-culture http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/designing-culture#comments Sun, 13 Jan 2013 01:58:16 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2524 I’m heading to Toronto in a few weeks to lead a half-day workshop about designing team and organizational culture at the Interaction13 conference. My colleague, Kendra Shimmell, and I will coach 30 people through thoughtful, creative, intentional development of principles and practices that will change the way their teams work. I’m over-the-moon excited. This is a workshop I’ve been brewing, stewing and chewing on for a while. It’s a delight to finally have a chance to put it into action. Let the magic begin.

WHEN: Sunday, January 27th, 9:30am – 12:30pm
WHERE: Interaction 13, Metro Toronto Convention Center
COST: $300
REGISTER! (there aren’t many seats left)

Designing Culture: About the Workshop

“My designs were torpedoed.”
“We’re way off schedule.”
“Everyone is disengaged.”
“I’m not proud of the work we’re producing.”
“We can’t get everyone on board.”

Sound familiar?

Design doesn’t happen inside a vacuum. It happens inside teams, inside the context of relationships, inside physical spaces, inside organizations with very particular cultures. Ignore that intricate ecosystem, and you might as well give your project a death sentence.

In this workshop, Teresa Brazen and Kendra Shimmell draw from their experience as team members, team leaders, and team facilitators to identify tools and techniques you can use to shape projects that are not only successful, but enjoyable. They’ll discuss the benefits of proactively designing team culture, walk you through the process of creating a healthy foundation, empower you with methods to improve unhealthy culture mid-stream, and show you ways to keep everyone engaged throughout the design process. Then, you’ll try it out for yourself: with instructor feedback and mentorship, you’ll craft new methods and approaches that are appropriate to take back and try out in your team or company… no matter what your job title.

By the end of this hands-on workshop, you’ll know how to get projects started on the right foot, co-create without compromising output, and inspire teams, clients, and stakeholders. More importantly, you’ll find that you can work towards dramatically improved project outcomes… without all the drama along the way.

REGISTER!

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How to make friends without speakinghttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/how-to-make-friends-without-speaking?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-make-friends-without-speaking http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/how-to-make-friends-without-speaking#comments Wed, 26 Dec 2012 11:19:20 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2481 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

When you don’t speak the local language (or even if you’ve mastered basic words), it can be challenging and a bit intimidating to connect with new people when you travel. Lucky for Zak and I, we’ve got a fun tool to jump-start engagement that doesn’t require words at all: marbles.

Zak has collected marbles for years: Antiques, some hand-blown by his friend Michael, even one made of fiber optics. When we travel to foreign countries, we often bring along a bag, keep our eyes peeled for a flat area (beaches are the best), and then design a course. Think mini putt-putt course. The goal is to flick your marble around and through obstacles toward a hole. There are lots of flicking styles, but here’s the basic idea: Make an OK symbol with your hand and then flick your pointer finger in the direction you want the marble to go.

The rules are simple:

  • Each player takes a turn. You get one shot per turn.
  • If your marble goes outside of the obstacle course, you must return your marble back where it was before you flicked it. Basically, you lose a turn.
  • You can aim for other players’ marbles (for all you feisty competitors).
  • First one to get their marble in the hole wins.
  • You can make up new rules. I.e.: If you hit a specific object in the course, you get another turn.

(We kept having to shoo away dogs that were obsessed with our goal. At one point that white object the dog above is sniffing mysteriously disappeared. Hmmm.)

The best part is that natural curiosity will lure locals over, and before you know it, you’ll have a full-blown game in the works. My advice is to:

  • Design for complexity. It’s no fun if you can get to the goal in three shots.
  • Design for engagement. Make interesting shapes, not just functional obstacles. A weird-looking course is more likely to attract attention of potential players.
  • Design with the local environment. Use materials that are already around you; it’s a good constraint to challenge yourself with and will force you to be more creative. Plus, the hunt for flotsam and jetsam is half the fun. Also, choose an area where kids are already playing. They are the easiest to engage, and adults love watching.

We played a game on the beaches of Sri Lanka with a group of six kids from approximately ages 6-13. They didn’t speak English, and we didn’t speak Sinhalese; smiles, gestures, and marbles were our mutual language. Unfortunately, I was having way too much fun to remember to take photos while we played, so this is all I have to remember them by.

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Sweet & Sourhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/sweet-sour?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sweet-sour http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/sweet-sour#comments Thu, 20 Dec 2012 13:34:42 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2429 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

A scruffy little boy with one leg and crutches made of tree branches bangs incessantly on our parked car demanding money. Hobbling, he takes his banging from one side of the car to the other, and back again. He opens one door, tries to enter, we shut it. When our driver starts the car, this child jams his crutch under the car tire and yelps, pretending we’ve run over his foot. Our driver yells back at him, and as we drive away, the boy gives me a wicked, wicked grin.

This is in stark contrast to giggling groups of children in small towns who run out to me, begging me to take their photo. All they want in exchange is to see their image. Photography becomes a game: they try on different poses and faces, bursting into laughter when they see the digital result. They could do this for hours, if I played along.

The best part is that the photos become a communication bridge to their mothers who are often shyly smiling nearby.

I find that every child, every situation in India, must be judged case by case. With time, you get better at assessing motivations at a glance, but, still, sometimes you must simply take the risk. Travel to a new place is nothing if you don’t get to know the people — even if you get sweet with a sour bite.

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There’s no place like homestayhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/theres-no-place-like-homestay?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=theres-no-place-like-homestay http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/theres-no-place-like-homestay#comments Sat, 15 Dec 2012 13:14:45 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2382 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

My best friend, a.k.a. “G Money”, says the way to my heart is through my stomach (good thing Zak can cook!). The Brazen family joke is that I have a hollow leg where I stuff large quantities of tasty delights. So, it should be of no surprise that my favorite place in all of India is a sweet little homestay with amazing home cooked meals.

Homestays are, hands down, the way to do India. You stay in a cottage or a room on a family’s property, they make local meals, you see a little bit of their family life, and you learn a lot more about India. The one that gave me so much tummy lovin’ is called Kaits Home, and it’s nestled sweetly on the banks of the Kerala Backwaters, a beautiful maze of canals and waterways in Southern India. Jossy, the father, comes from a farming family that has been in the area for over 500 years. In addition to running the small homestay, they farm fish and grow organic food which sometimes ended up on our plates.

Upon Jossy’s recommendation, we explored the backwaters via an early morning boat ride. As the sun rose, we watched villagers brush their teeth in the river, women slap wet clothes loudly against washing rocks, duck herders wrangle their fowl, men fishing with bamboo rods, uniformed girls giggle their way to school, and Hindu temples come noisily, boisterously to life. You can learn an awful lot about a place by watching how it starts its day.

I will miss the calm of this region, the front porch swing of our cottage and watching the beautiful hand-woven house boats float by.

But, I do have one deliciously simple way to bring a little Kaits Home back into my life:

Banana Curry Recipe

  • Slice 1-2 ripe bananas
  • Boil them in a little bit of water for 5 minutes.
  • Add a little sugar, butter, and ground cardamom while boiling and stir.
  • Sprinkle in a bit of shaved coconut and serve.

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I stumbled upon a pile of shoes…http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/i-stumbled-upon-a-pile-of-shoes?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=i-stumbled-upon-a-pile-of-shoes http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/i-stumbled-upon-a-pile-of-shoes#comments Wed, 12 Dec 2012 09:08:01 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2377 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

It’s customary to walk barefoot inside homes in India, so you’ll usually see a few pair parked outside front doors. But when I saw this, I knew something especially interesting was amiss:

It was…Yes! High five! A wedding ceremony!

Zak tried to discretely capture a few photos from the doorway without drawing too much attention. Okay, okay, I admit it: we were hovering, hoping they’d invite us in. Good thing, too, because they did. Men sitting on one side, women on the other, Zak and I split up and nestled in.

It was a ceremony of the first dimension (there are five) for not one, but two brides – sisters. The final ceremony would be in two days. Indian weddings are a community affair, and this particular family expected 900 on wedding day, 2,000 at the post-wedding event!

I think they found our American tourist-ness curious because the women did lots of giggling and smiling at me, and the wedding videographer turned his camera (and blinding spotlight) on each of us. As I ate sweets, drank chai, and watched, I thought, “No WAY would Americans invite random, hovering foreign-traveler-wedding-crashers in with a smile.” Lucky me.

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Marriage: It’s complicatedhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/marriage-its-complicated?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=marriage-its-complicated http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/marriage-its-complicated#comments Fri, 07 Dec 2012 13:56:44 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2372 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

I’m the the honeymode, so of course I can’t help but curiously collect information about how marriages in India work. I’ve discovered that, like so many other things here, marriage looks wildly different depending on your caste, region, and family. For example:

The Week Magazine in India tells the story of a girl and boy from different castes who married for love against the wishes of their families and castes. The result was the suicide of the girl’s father, violence that ended in the burning of 268 houses, and a town empty of men because they were all put in jail. The girl’s mother said, “I don’t want her back. But I don’t want her to live with a lower caste boy.” You could say the family cared more about their name than the daughter’s happiness, but it’s more complex than that. They were completely ostracized, and it appears the father killed himself not so much because of his upset at the marriage, but because of the intense pressure of the community.

A British traveler told me about a family she met: three boys and a girl, all married by age seven. When they were old enough, they would live with their spouses. I’m not sure what age “old enough” is. Yes, child marriage still happens here, though it’s not legal. Enforcing this law can be tricky, as evidenced by this story, told to me by the same traveler:

A lower caste woman who worked as a social worker was supposed to, as part of her work, let local police know about child marriages she discovered. She tipped the cops off to an upper caste father who married off his one year old and fourteen year old daughters. Why so young? It’s a better deal; you fork up less dowry. When the father found out the social worker exposed him, he and another man raped her as punishment. The police, meanwhile, attended the wedding…and did nothing.

That’s the ugly side. But that’s only one side, and there are many.

In urban and wealthy communities, love marriages are more common. The younger generation wants this option, though if their parents don’t approve of the person they pick, they are likely to end the relationship. Think about it: different generations typically live under one roof with the wife going to live with the husband’s family. When you all end up living together for the rest of your lives, it makes a lot of sense that parental endorsement matters a great deal.

Given my own Western experience of choosing my husband, Zak, out of love, it’d be easy to write arranged marriages off as terrible. But, again, it’s more complicated than that. Yes, some such marriages happen against one or both person’s will. But, in many cases parents try very hard to find a good match for their son or daughter who, ultimately, still gets to say yes or no. I talked to a man who met 12 different potential wives before he met the one he wanted to marry. He said both parties can back out after meeting, and he obviously did, multiple times. Because families are so close, parents may very well have an informed idea of what “good” for their child might look like. Think about it like your best friends setting you up with someone they think is a good fit. That might be a slightly romanticized version, but I think it gives a sense of how arranged marriages could be different than we Westerners suppose.

That’s probably one of the biggest challenges of traveling in a country so very different than my own: turning off my inner critic and just listening. Frankly, there are many more pieces to the marriage puzzle than I’ve uncovered, but it’s been fascinating connecting the pieces I have.

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And all we got was this photo…http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/and-all-we-got-was-this-photo?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=and-all-we-got-was-this-photo http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/and-all-we-got-was-this-photo#comments Thu, 06 Dec 2012 06:40:46 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2352 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

At Periyar National Park in Kerala, India. Note my leech protection in the form of ugly brown canvas sock-like things. Trekking (well, I’d call it more of a walk) and riding a bamboo boat for eight hours led to the sighting of a few buffalo through the trees, wild pigs and a couple of malabar pied horn bills that made this crazy whooshing sound when they flew overhead. Spoiled after our national park visit in Sri Lanka, it was apparent this park isn’t as healthy or vibrantly full of life. Plus, the tour company sold the trip as having a max of 10 people…we ended up with 20. Not much chance of seeing animals when you sound like a giant herd of buffalo. Apparently there is a successful program to turn poachers into tour guides, which is great, but our guides were lazy, giving us more “break” time than hiking time. Oh well, at least we got this great photo.

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Wired Weirdhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/wired-weird?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=wired-weird http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/wired-weird#comments Wed, 05 Dec 2012 08:45:44 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2364 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

Zak just posted some images of all the crazy lighting hack jobs we’ve seen here. Have a look.

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Duck herding in the Kerala Backwatershttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/duck-herding-in-the-kerala-backwaters?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=duck-herding-in-the-kerala-backwaters http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/duck-herding-in-the-kerala-backwaters#comments Tue, 04 Dec 2012 07:49:24 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2331 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

On an early morning boat trip through the Kerala Backwaters, we came across this spectacle. Who knew this profession existed – or that ducks would comply!?!

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The smaller, the better: Miniature paintings of Indiahttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/the-smaller-the-better-miniature-paintings-of-india?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-smaller-the-better-miniature-paintings-of-india http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/the-smaller-the-better-miniature-paintings-of-india#comments Tue, 04 Dec 2012 06:31:12 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2318 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

When I paint, I paint BIG. Stand on my tiptoes to reach the top, big. I use the kind of brushes that you’d paint the walls of a room with. My paint strokes involve my whole arm or body. I’m sloppy, messy, and I do not do itty bitty teeny weeny detail.

This is why I’m in love with the miniature paintings of India: They are everything I don’t create. The artists use brushes made up of just a few hairs. I can picture them, hunched over, focused, making micro-strokes to define hair, jewels, and the leaves of a tree.

Below are a few miniatures we picked up in the Udaipur region, which is known for this craft. The figures are about 2-3 inches tall:

I put these beauties out in every guest house we land in so that I can look at them a little more. You can spend a whole lot more to get the teensiest weensiest of details, but I like these, and that’s what matters most.

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An Indian Pied Piper fed me a songhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/an-indian-pied-piper-fed-me-a-song?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=an-indian-pied-piper-fed-me-a-song http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/an-indian-pied-piper-fed-me-a-song#comments Fri, 30 Nov 2012 03:53:44 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2297 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

A most peculiar, beguiling melody snuck upon us as we wandered through an itty, bitty town in the mountains of Udaipur, India.

“Do you hear that?”

Nodding, I watched the air for notes.

A group of young girls giggled, and pointed the way.

A short walk, and we found the source: a many storied house with cool stone floors. Tentatively, we yelled over the music, “Namaste?!”

And so, the Indian Pied Piper greeted us, invited us in, fed us sweet treats, and scribbled the song’s name on a scrap of paper. Hypnosis complete.

Now, it’s your turn. Close your eyes, wander through town, and listen.

“Kaala Rey” by Sneha Khanwalkar on the soundtrack for the film Gangs Of Wasseypur 2.

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Hullo, magic potion!http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/hullo-magic-potion?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hullo-magic-potion http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/hullo-magic-potion#comments Thu, 29 Nov 2012 21:10:42 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2275 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

Introducing my new favorite treat: Lemon soda. Enjoy on your most challenging travel days in India; it’s sure to do the trick.

Pour 1″ of fresh squeezed lemon into a glass.
Open 1 cold bottle of soda.
Mix, enjoy, forget.

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A surprise in a nookhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/a-surprise-in-a-knook?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-surprise-in-a-knook http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/a-surprise-in-a-knook#comments Wed, 28 Nov 2012 20:24:20 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2279 This is why I wander through back streets and alleyways when I travel:

Now you, too, have experienced the Master Bulbul Band.

You’re welcome.

(Shot in Udaipur, India)

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It’s bound to get interesting…http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/from-the-depths-of-the-pushkar-camel-fair-india?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=from-the-depths-of-the-pushkar-camel-fair-india http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/from-the-depths-of-the-pushkar-camel-fair-india#comments Tue, 27 Nov 2012 17:57:53 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2243 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

I’m still reeling and recovering.

Once a year the little tiny town of Pushkar explodes as thousands of camels and horses are brought in for trade at the annual Camel Fair. On top of that, it’s also Kartik Purnima, a time when Hindu pilgrims come from all over India to bathe in the holy waters of the lake the town is built around. Hindus believe Brahman created this lake when he dropped a lotus flower from the sky. I swear, everything in this country has a romantic story to it.

When that many people, animals, and motivations collide at one small dot on the map, it’s bound to get interesting.

We watched men make beautiful Marwari horses dance (a rare, expensive breed that you can identify by the curled tips of their ears). One horse stood on its hind legs for a good thirty seconds, to my utter disbelief. The horses were in immaculate shape, in contrast with their owners who often looked like they hadn’t eaten well or bathed in a long time. I imagine their entire livelihood banked on these creatures.

Of course, long-legged, lanky camels were everywhere. They were covered in all kinds of adornment: Designs shaved into their fur, mustaches and swirls painted just above their tails, metal rods through their nostrils, and something that looks like your grandma’s shawl draped over their humps. Women carried big pots of camel dung on their heads (we think they dry it out and use it for fires).

The Indian Circus was in town with ferris wheels, clowns, and second-rate acts. Contortionist families performed bendy feats, which fascinated/disturbed me because the kids always looked miserable. I didn’t get the impression they had much say about their profession.

Alongside all the party hubbub, bona fide spiritually had its’ place. Sadhus (ascetics who give up all worldly possessions and supposedly have supernatural powers, amongst other fascinating things) walked about with an unmistakeable intensity that would stop you in your tracks. Thousands of Hindus bathed in the over 50 ghats (bathing pools) at the edges of the holy lake, making offerings of rose petals and marigolds, and prayer.

Like all of the India I have experienced thus far, the Camel Fair was, to put it mildly, a complex experience. I found myself simultaneously delighted, taken aback, disturbed, exhausted, and inspired…all the while aware that I was only scratching the surface of what swirled about me. It would take a lifetime to get to know this country.

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We’re not in Kansas anymorehttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/were-not-in-kansas-anymore?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=were-not-in-kansas-anymore http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/were-not-in-kansas-anymore#comments Sat, 24 Nov 2012 04:12:05 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2212 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

India is…complicated.

Beauty and squalor live side-by-side. The colors! The textures! Women in vibrant, breezy saris. Temples and grand havelis crumbling, offering glimpses into an era that must have been magnificent. Delicate, fading paintings cover every inch inside temple walls. Alongside these beauties, mangy dogs, garbage in the streets, cows eating said garbage. Hustlers, hustlers everywhere in the form of pretty young girls asking, “Want photo?”, children yanking your sleeve, tuk tuk drivers doubling their rates, and old ladies with open hands. You must be vigilant. And yet, repeatedly, you will stumble upon the kindness of strangers, curious inquiry, smiles.

I wasn’t prepared for the smells. Let’s start with the most profound: India hasn’t much in the way of waste disposal programs. There are few public trashcans, if any. Garbage is thrown in the streets, behind buildings, in lakes and rivers, or burned. Polluted water runs through open drains along side streets. The train stations reek of feces because the “toilet” on the train is basically just a hole leading directly to the track below. With thousands of people doing this in packed India, you can begin to imagine the stench. Walking the streets, wafts of human waste as well, and yet, delicious moments of rich incense, food, and spices. Contrast and contradiction with every inhalation. I talk about the smells because it’s something you can’t capture in photos, and it so shapes your experience.


Then, there are the sounds. Cars, motorbikes, and tuk-tuks squeeze through tiny spaces, lanes abandoned, muscling forward with the beep, beep, beep of horns. Music, drumming, chants blast from giant speakers in the streets. This symphony is enriched by the vocals of cows, camels, dogs, cats, monkeys, pigeons. The auditory onslaught is enough to tire you on its own.


Yet, they say that human beings get the vast majority of their information through sight. This is where the real reward and curse of India lies. Surrounded by throngs of people, it is hard to find a resting place for your eyes. Everything hits you much too quickly, like the rapid flashes of a music video: snippets of grandiose architecture, rickety carts, street food, turbans, rich fabrics, grit, manure, monks, Sadhus, sculptures of Ganesh and Buddah, wet laundry hanging from clothes lines, dirty feet, smacks of intense color, gold bracelets, and the hardest to digest: miles and miles of slums. It is one thing to see photos of poverty, but another entirely to stand in front of it, watching its children run about. Then, you will want to avert your eyes, wondering at the riches you saw moments before.

These are my complicated first impressions. I know that India, like any interesting person, consists of layers, and that my perception, at this point, can only be superficial. But, as they say, “Trust your gut.” Mine says this is a land of extremes that will take you on quite a ride. I am certainly getting the adventure I asked for, with all it’s beauty and bruises.

PS: Some recommended reading for you: The Pulitzer Prize winning “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo. It’s a throughly researched story about India’s slums that I couldn’t put down. You’ll be in shock; all characters and stories are true.

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What I’ve learned so far: A Sri Lanka brain dumphttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/what-ive-learned-so-far-a-sri-lanka-brain-dump?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=what-ive-learned-so-far-a-sri-lanka-brain-dump http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/what-ive-learned-so-far-a-sri-lanka-brain-dump#comments Wed, 21 Nov 2012 05:49:38 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2189 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

Crazy, but time just did that speeding up thing, and our journey in Sri Lanka is at a close. Zak and I now head to India. Here’s a quick rundown of things that stood out to me about Sri Lankan culture and getting around, for those of  you contemplating a trip:

People will give you a big smile – if you smile first. If they initiate, it’s because either they are curious about the foreigner (you) or because they want to sell you something you don’t want. Over time, you get better at figuring out which is which.

Many people speak basic English. If you speak English, you’ll be fine. You’ll also probably find yourself speaking broken, simple English when you return home for a few days, out of habit. Like, “What time bus?” or “Where toilet?”

Everyone loves President Obama (this includes all the traveling Europeans and Australians we met). When they find out you are American, they will ask if you love him, too. If you do, you’ll get smiles and responses like, “He good man.” You might even get a joyous fist in the air, like we did.

The island has a whopping EIGHT Unesco World Heritage sites. Sigiriya will blow your mind. I think it just might be the most compelling archeological site I’ve been to. Photos don’t really do it justice.

You’ll see a lot of monkeys, and that’s pretty cool. You’ll also see a lot of mangy, stray dogs, and that’s not as cool. For wild elephants (and a whole lot more), definitely go to the national parks.

The local buses are a really great way to get around. Surprisingly easy. Most times, you’ll get a seat. If you ask the bus driver to tell you where to get off, they usually will, which helps if you can’t read the road signs (though many are in English and Singhalese). Once in a while you’ll get a bus with exhaust that will make you gag the entire trip. But, usually, you’ll be just fine. You might even get to watch a movie on a flat screen while you ride. It happens.

The train between Ella and Kandy is an amazing way to see the mountain countryside and beautiful tea plantations. Don’t miss out on standing in the open doorways and leaning out to see all the other passengers who are doing the same.

Toilet on a train = a toilet with a hole that goes right out onto the tracks. If you’re on a train for six hours like we were, you’ll use it.

Sadly, there generally aren’t public trash cans. Most trash is burned or tossed on the ground.

However, they do have a great energy conservation practice: all power outlets have on/off switches, which they use. Why? (1) Electricity is expensive, and (2) during monsoons there are electrical storms. Apparently many people have been hit by lightening or had lightening literally come through their open windows. Most Sri Lankans turn off all their power outlets and lights during these storms. Some are nervous enough to turn off even their cell phones.

There is zilch, zero, zip graffiti, anywhere except the awesome murals by our new friend Alain Parizeau (Graphic Design professor at the Academy of Design in Colombo, Sri Lanka).


People make their own food here, so there isn’t much of a “restaurant scene” in small towns. If you do go to a restaurant and want an authentic Sri Lankan meal, you have to tell them in advance (i.e.: earlier in the day) because they make it just for you. This takes a minute to get used to because it requires planning, on your part. Also, try the curd and treacle (Made of buffalo milk and something that tastes like honey, but isn’t. Apparently there are two kinds, made of either coconut or kithul). They don’t refrigerate the curd before use, but we haven’t gotten sick from it. They store it in these clay pots (this batch was transported on our bus):

The guest houses cater to Western food tastes. Unfortunate. Personally, if I wanted spaghetti or sandwiches, I’d just stay home. But, I guess there must be a lot of travelers who do want spaghetti because, I swear, every guest house we went to had the same menu – dominantly Western. Sigh.

The tuk-tuks (a three wheeled scooter with a back seat, a roof, and open sides) are everywhere, a great form of transport, and are individualized with funny sayings like “Still water runs deep” or “Don’t waste time”. It’s entertaining to watch for and collect these phrases. You need to negotiate with these guys, and if you’re in Colombo, insist on a metered ride (likely quite a few will refuse you, just keep looking till you find a willing someone).

Hinduism and Buddhism seem to intermix and mingle. You’ll see imagery from both in temples and buses.

No shoes in temples. Even ancient crumbling down temple ruins that are no longer in use.

Don’t stand with your back to a Buddha sculpture and pose for a photo. Big no-no. In fact, it’s such a big no-no, it applies to tiny sculptures of people, too. I know this because I tried to take the photo below with our honeymoon mascot facing the camera. A guard reprimanded me, explained “no backs to Buddha”, and made me delete the photos. Then, an old man scowled at me and said, “Photo no good.” When I tried again, the appropriate way, the guard made me show him my new photos (he didn’t believe I listened to him). It all worked out, but I felt like an ass, because I actually know better. It just didn’t occur to me that the same rules applied to our little mascot. Now I know.

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Fellas, THIS is how it’s done.http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/fellas-this-is-how-its-done?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fellas-this-is-how-its-done http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/fellas-this-is-how-its-done#comments Sun, 18 Nov 2012 13:51:15 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2170 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

This guy has got it figured OUT. That is all.

(Shot in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka)

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A tale of two trunkshttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/a-tale-of-two-trunks?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-tale-of-two-trunks http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/a-tale-of-two-trunks#comments Sat, 17 Nov 2012 13:59:50 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2175 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}


Saw both of these in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

A tale of two trunks

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The benefits of jet laghttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/the-benefits-of-jet-lag?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-benefits-of-jet-lag http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/the-benefits-of-jet-lag#comments Sat, 17 Nov 2012 01:59:36 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2164 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

For about seven days, my body decided to wake up between the hours of 2:30am and 4:30am….and not go back to sleep. Oh, sweet jet lag. 

But, here’s the up side: I got to watch the world wake up.

Ella, Sri Lanka

Ella, Sri Lanka

Ella, Sri Lanka

Ella, Sri Lanka

Ella, Sri Lanka

(Photos from the rooftop of our guest house, Hill Top, in Ella, Sri Lanka)

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Multi-use rooftophttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/multi-use-rooftop?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=multi-use-rooftop http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/multi-use-rooftop#comments Fri, 16 Nov 2012 09:47:37 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2155 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}


Nice.

Our rooftop serves as a clothes dryer:

Rooftop

And chili pepper dryer:

Chili Peppers

(At Hill Top guest house in Ella, Sri Lanka)

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Hullo from Ella, Sri Lanka!http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/hullo-from-ella-sri-lanka?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hullo-from-ella-sri-lanka http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/hullo-from-ella-sri-lanka#comments Mon, 12 Nov 2012 15:25:07 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2146 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}


A three hour bus ride, and we’re now in Ella, a tiny little town (imagine about two city blocks) perched high in the mountains. The views are epic.

We’re settling in: our first hot shower since we landed in Sri Lanka, our dirty clothes are getting washed, and I can’t wait to smell like detergent. 

T + Z

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Elephants, Wart Hogs, and Bears, Oh My!http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/elephants-wart-hogs-and-bears-oh-my?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=elephants-wart-hogs-and-bears-oh-my http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/elephants-wart-hogs-and-bears-oh-my#comments Mon, 12 Nov 2012 12:14:01 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2135 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

Do you ever stop to think how strange it is that we live in disrupted ecosystems, and we think it’s normal? In cities, we’ve completely obliterated the presence of animals and plants. Yes, there might be a park. Yes, you might have a cat or a dog. Yes, there are definitely pigeons. But, we have striped the natural landscape, reshaped it entirely, and run out most of the living creatures besides ourselves. This is WEIRD.

It’s especially weird when you visit an intact ecosystem. I’ve only experienced this twice: in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula and yesterday at Yala National Park in Sri Lanka. It’s hard to explain the feeling of being in place that is teeming with life that isn’t human, but it is a special, special thing. For me, the real moment of awe in Yala was driving by a large plain full of different herds of animals (elephants, water buffalo, wart hog, spotted deer…), seeing them all coexist. It’s a shame we can’t seem to do that, too.

These pictures will give you a sense of what I mean, but they can’t capture the smells, the sounds, and the air. I feel very blessed to have had a chance to feel it all in my bones. And, yes, I saw all of these animals (and more) in one day. 

SriLanka SafariLandscape

SriLanka Monkey

SriLanka Elephant

SriLanka Pig

SriLanka Boar

SriLanka SpottedDeer

SriLanka WaterBuffalo

SriLanka WaterBuffaloHeard

SriLanka SlothBearSriLanka Bunny

SriLanka Bird

SriLanka BirdDuo

SriLanka PeacockPerched

SriLanka PeacockBack

 

SriLanka PeacockFront

SriLanka Peacocks

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We’re on the movehttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/were-on-the-move?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=were-on-the-move http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/were-on-the-move#comments Sat, 10 Nov 2012 22:35:04 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2088 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

Here’s our master plan for the next nine days in Sri Lanka: a safari, a hike, ancient ruins (giant Buddhas), more ancient ruins (giant lions paws), a train ride across the island, and the Sri Lankan Design Festival. All of that looks something like this:

The Master Plan

More soon.

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Fishermen in Marakolliya Beach, Sri Lankahttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/fishermen-in-tangalle-sri-lanka?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fishermen-in-tangalle-sri-lanka http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/fishermen-in-tangalle-sri-lanka#comments Sat, 10 Nov 2012 21:26:04 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2078 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

Imagine standing up for a few hours in one of these skinny numbers to catch your dinner:

Fishing boats

That’s an old-skool catamaran. Now imagine catching this when you’re on one of those:

Parrot fish

Say hello to the giant parrot fish offered to us at a restaurant: “Do you like barbecue?”  Upon a little research, we decided, “No, we don’t like barbecue.”  “[The parrot fish's] feeding activity is important for the production and distribution of coral sands in the reef biome, and can prevent algae from choking coral,” says Wikipedia and a bunch of other folk. We like coral reefs, and we like fish who help keep them intact.

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Weird things happen when you wanderhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/weird-things-happen-when-you-wander?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=weird-things-happen-when-you-wander http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/weird-things-happen-when-you-wander#comments Sat, 10 Nov 2012 12:58:04 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2063 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

 

We made it to Sri Lanka!  Our honeymoon officially began at Ganesh Garden Beach Cabanas on the southern end of the island, and it looked something like this:

Ganesh

Lovely, eh? I spent the first two days parked in a hammock, getting over a cold and general not-feeling-well-ness. It helped.

This morning, I awake at 3am, still a slave to jet lag. Shortly before sunrise, I decide to take a stroll on the beach. It’s just me, the waves, the sun rising, and, oh! two cute dogs.

“Hi, cute dogs,” I say.

They are exuberant and say excited hellos by jumping all over me. I decide maybe we’ll play fetch. I hunt a stick, find one, and toss. Splat! The stick sits lonesome in the sand. Okay, so no fetch.

“Well, let’s walk.”

This, they are into. I pause for a sec, and the cute brown fella below stands right next to me smiling, wagging, smiling, wagging, so cute with that wagging, and, wait, what the?! HE IS PISSING ALL OVER MY LEG.  Leg lifted and everything. This is intentional, people.

SriLanka PissDog

I can’t decide if he’s telling me to fuck off or if he’s just letting the other dog know that I’m his. I would have gotten pissed (pun intended) if it wasn’t so hilarious and bizarre.

But, wait. My dog stories are not over.

Later that morning, Zak and I go for a walk. Low and behold, there is a dog sitting all cute-like on the ROOFTOP OF A HOUSE. Look below. I kid you not.

SriLanka RooftopDog

Frankly, I have no idea what the moral of this dog story is. Maybe you can tell me.

 

 

 

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People make plans, and God laughs: A honeymoon detourhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/people-make-plans-and-god-laughs-a-honeymoon-detour?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=people-make-plans-and-god-laughs-a-honeymoon-detour http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/people-make-plans-and-god-laughs-a-honeymoon-detour#comments Tue, 06 Nov 2012 00:14:47 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2053 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right}

Honeymoon, shunnymoon. I suppose it was wishful to think we could fly through New York and avoid the flight-delay-madness triggered by Hurricane Sandy. We arrived at JFK airport only to find our connector flight was cancelled, we weren’t rebooked onto another one, and none of the airlines or booking agents involved felt it was their responsibility to help us (American Airlines, Air Jordanian, and the aptly named CheapOAir). After hours of conversations with customer service agents who kept pointing fingers at one another, we gave up and accepted our fate: wait four days to start our honeymoon journey to Sri Lanka. (Sigh)

That settled, we turned our attention to desperately needed shuteye. Hotels everywhere were booked so we settled for paying $90 bucks to sleep on couches in the airport’s First Class lounge. Frankly, we were lucky: most people were sleeping on the floor or draped awkwardly in chairs.

The next morning, the question: What to do with our unexpected four days of waiting? New York was a mess and it wasn’t easy to find lodging, so we decided to avoid the whole ordeal and drive to Boston to see Zak‘s best friends and mom. I was excited to see friendly faces, though admittedly bummed.

Our first stop helped soften the blow: Zak’s crew reunited in Michael’s shanty, a cozy little clubhouse getaway nestled in his backyard – complete with wood burning stove. We played a game of dice, drank whiskey, and caught up. The walls were covered with curious little trinkets and momentos of the adventures and games these guys have shared together. These are good guys, creative, imaginative, and loving. I understand why Zak misses them so much. My favorite moment was listening to them sing the song they created for our wedding (“I dooooo looooove you. Thanks for being a friend, I’ll love you ’till the end.”). Check out the glass sword filled with Johnny Walker Black. Yum.

The next night we saw Lez Zeppelin, an all girl cover band. Some serious sassy-pants-ness going on THAT night. The guitarist was the highlight of the show, playing her instrument with a bow, swapping out for a double necked guitar, and even throwing in a theremin (A device that makes wacky, outer space alien sounds based off the proximity of your hands to it. So, the closer your hands get, the higher the pitch. The further, the lower.) . She made me proud to be a lady.

We also squeezed in a trip to the deCordova Musuem, which has an amazing outdoor sculpture park. Boston, I must admit, you’ve got San Francisco beat on this one. My two favs were the work with magnets by Julianne Swarts and a giant upside down sculpture of the museum made out of string and tea bags.

And, now, we are finally off to Sri Lanka. We have a 12 hour layover in London, so we’re going to make the best of it (apparently our honeymoon theme thus far) and go see the Tate Modern Museum – someplace I’ve longed to visit. So, maybe we didn’t end up where we were trying to go, but as detours go, this has been a pretty good one. Onward…

 

 

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Less is morehttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/less-is-more-2?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=less-is-more-2 http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/less-is-more-2#comments Mon, 05 Nov 2012 23:49:41 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2049 {A blog series about our 2 month honeymoon adventure through Sri Lanka & India. To read more, just type “honeymoon” in the search field to the right.}

 

Packing for our two months of travel, here’s what the inside of my bag looks like:

Keeping it simple. I’ll buy things better suited to the climate and culture when I get there. At the end of the trip I’ll snap another photo, for comparison.

 

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To India & Sri Lanka, with lovehttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/to-india-sri-lanka-with-love?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=to-india-sri-lanka-with-love http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/to-india-sri-lanka-with-love#comments Sun, 28 Oct 2012 00:02:06 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=2026

Zak and I are about to head off on our honeymoon adventure to Sri Lanka and India. Two months of wandering, digesting sights and flavors, and learning about new cultures is bound to change us in ways we can’t begin to imagine here at home. This is why, before I travel, I try not to imagine too much. My preference is to let it unfold, untainted by expectation. For now, I’m focused on gathering art supplies, good walking shoes, and stockpiles of Pepto-Bismol…just in case.

We depart Thursday, and I’ll be blogging along the way, sharing tidbits of what I discover. Stay tuned.

 

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Clever Data Visualizationshttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/the-evolution-of-western-dance-music?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-evolution-of-western-dance-music http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/the-evolution-of-western-dance-music#comments Wed, 25 Jan 2012 17:11:30 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=1972 Check it:

1.] The evolution of western dance music over the last century…in 20 seconds (via my friend Seng, photographer extraordinaire):

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.] Sarah ILlenberger‘s sculpture/photography approach (I love her work):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Handy Tip for the Easily Distractedhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/a-handy-tip-for-the-easily-distracted?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-handy-tip-for-the-easily-distracted http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/a-handy-tip-for-the-easily-distracted#comments Sun, 18 Dec 2011 21:32:24 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=1985 The perfect remedy for a highly, highly distracted state.

 

Miranda July: The Future on Nowness.com.

From the film
Miranda July: The Future
The Artist and Filmmaker Presents An Exclusive Vignette Inspired By Her Magical New Film

Miranda July dreams up an idiosyncratic solution to the interruptions of modern life in “A Handy Tip for the Easily Distracted.” An offcut from July’s latest film, The Future, the scene has been reconstituted by the actress, writer and filmmaker for NOWNESS, complete with a score by David Byrne collaborator Steven Reker. July drew on her performance art piece, “Things We Don’t Understand and Are Definitely Not Going to Talk About” for her sophomore feature; it follows 2005′s Me and You and Everyone We Know, which won the Caméra d’Or prize at Cannes. The film’s plot centers on LA couple Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater), whose decision to adopt the sickly stray cat Paw Paw sees them grapple with the impending responsibility of the pet’s care. This being a July vehicle, things take a characteristically kooky turn, with Paw Paw stepping in as narrator, and the couple embarking on a quest to seize the day: Sophie strives to reach her artistic potential by creating a definitive dance number, and Jason hands his future over to fate, following “signs” from the universe. We spoke to the prolific July, who has also exhibited as a performance artist at the Guggenheim and the Whitney Biennale and written for publications including The Paris Review and The New Yorker.

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Settle Downhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/settle-down?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=settle-down http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/settle-down#comments Thu, 15 Dec 2011 20:37:02 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=1969 This, my friends, is a very clever, catchy music video and song. I love the music video format because there are so few constraints, so much opportunity to be creative.

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i (heart) marco brambillahttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/marcobrambilla?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=marcobrambilla http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/marcobrambilla#comments Tue, 06 Dec 2011 01:31:37 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=1739 I mean, come ON. Marco Brambilla, your work blows my mind. My friends, see for yourself, in three steps:

1.]  Begin here, with Kanye West’s music video, Power:

2.]  Then check out Marco’s ridiculous (in a good way) video installation, “Civilization, in the elevator of The Standard hotel in New York City (I am chastising myself for not having gone to see it in person when I was there last. I should know better. I learned about him first through this piece a few years ago.).

3.]  And then go peruse his other work (my personal fav is “Ghost”).

I promise, your eyes and ears will say nothing but *delish* and *love*.

(sigh)

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Open Househttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/open-house-3?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=open-house-3 http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/open-house-3#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2011 17:00:08 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=1712

A nod to analog communication methods.
An appreciation for making things.
A desire for connection.
A love story.

Film productions stills

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On Film, Women, and Priviledgehttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/on-film-women-and-priviledge?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=on-film-women-and-priviledge http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/on-film-women-and-priviledge#comments Thu, 10 Nov 2011 22:39:05 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1637 This week is apparently the week of stumbling upon fascinating articles. Here are two:

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How to be Alonehttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/how-to-be-alone-2?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-be-alone-2 http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/how-to-be-alone-2#comments Wed, 09 Nov 2011 17:57:24 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1634

A video by fiilmaker, Andrea Dorfman, and poet/singer/songwriter, Tanya Davis.

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Intentional Environments [Article for UX Magazine]http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/intentional-environments-article-for-ux-magazine?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=intentional-environments-article-for-ux-magazine http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/intentional-environments-article-for-ux-magazine#comments Mon, 24 Oct 2011 18:33:10 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1583 This article I wrote for UX Magazine about intentionally designing your work environment just got published – please enjoy and share!

Teresa

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Telling an Old Story Newhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/podcasts/telling-an-old-story-new-the-holocaust-podcast-for-radio-johnny?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=telling-an-old-story-new-the-holocaust-podcast-for-radio-johnny http://www.teresabrazen.com/podcasts/telling-an-old-story-new-the-holocaust-podcast-for-radio-johnny#comments Sun, 23 Oct 2011 20:36:21 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1397 The Holocaust

Listen: Podcast on Radio Johnny

An interview with Mark Rothman, Executive Director, Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust
Show length: 29 minutes

The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust is the oldest such museum in the United States. Established in 1961 by a group of Holocaust survivors, the museum lost its home in 1994 due to an earthquake. For years, the organization moved its exhibit around, and in 2010, it established a permanent home in Pan Pacific Park.

In this podcast, I interview Mark Rothman, Executive Director at the museum, about the creative process of designing this new building. He explains how they chose to deliver this challenging content, their curatorial philosophy, and how visitors are engaging with the rich technology that drives their visit. He also addresses the challenges of exhibiting content in a way that does not subvert emotional connection, but personalizes and makes relevant this tragic part of our past.
Listen to podcast

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Intentional Environments: Designing a Culture of Co-creationhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/intentional-environments-designing-a-culture-of-co-creation?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=intentional-environments-designing-a-culture-of-co-creation http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/intentional-environments-designing-a-culture-of-co-creation#comments Sun, 23 Oct 2011 18:04:00 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1355 Just gave this talk with Kate Rutter at Adaptive Path’s UX Week Conference.

SYNOPSIS

Design doesn’t happen inside a vacuum. It happens inside teams, inside the context of relationships, inside physical spaces, inside organizations with very particular cultures. Ignore that intricate ecosystem, and you might as well give your project a death sentence.

Teresa Brazen and Kate Rutter draw from their experience bringing this holistic outlook to the design process. Pulling from methods used in filmmaking, fine art, design research, facilitation, improv, and UX design, they craft “intentional environments” for their teams and clients. These literal and figurative environments cultivate work that is actionable, co-created, co-owned, and much more likely to succeed in the world.
They discuss the benefits of intentional environments and walk you through how to design them and methods for keeping them activated throughout the design process. You’ll walk away understanding how to cultivate intentionality, co-create without compromising output, and inspire teams and clients along the way. But more importantly, you’ll have a powerful new framework that will enrich your entire design process.


SLIDE DECK FOR DOWNLOAD


VIDEO OF THE PRESENTATION

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Puddle Songhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/puddle-song?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=puddle-song http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/puddle-song#comments Sat, 22 Oct 2011 23:16:19 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1556

Puddle Song playfully explores creative expression, judgment, and censorship. Soon after the work’s protagonist innocently loses herself in a moment of wonder and joy, she realizes she is being watched. Her perception of the judgmental gaze of another person imposes on her excitement, and puts an abrupt end to her spontaneous creativity. This film is one is a series of tone poems that explore human behavior and emotion within the framework of a single moment or situation.

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Love Struckhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/love-struck?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=love-struck http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/love-struck#comments Sat, 22 Oct 2011 23:15:46 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=1991

A short sound and image study of the arc of emotions in a lover’s pursuit: anticipation, tension and release. Love Struck is one is a series of tone poems that explore human behavior and emotion within the framework of a single moment or situation.

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Wood Nymphhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/film/wood-nymph-2?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=wood-nymph-2 http://www.teresabrazen.com/film/wood-nymph-2#comments Sat, 22 Oct 2011 23:15:11 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1554

Wood Nymph is an exploration of social contexts in which human beings are made to feel shameful about natural tendencies toward desire. The woman in Wood Nymph represents societal norms and rules about “appropriate” behavior. The film toys with themes of voyeurism and power, hinting both that women’s power may often be underestimated, and that the concept of power may be an illusion all together. Wood Nymph is one is a series of tone poems that explore human behavior and emotion within the framework of a single moment or situation.

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[Mindfulness] in Thailandhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/film/mindfulness-in-thailand?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mindfulness-in-thailand http://www.teresabrazen.com/film/mindfulness-in-thailand#comments Sat, 22 Oct 2011 23:14:53 +0000 http://www.teresabrazen.com/?p=1762

3.5 minutes of observations from a month of travels in Thailand.

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Un/becoming Beautifulhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/film/unbecoming-beautiful?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=unbecoming-beautiful http://www.teresabrazen.com/film/unbecoming-beautiful#comments Sat, 22 Oct 2011 23:13:31 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1551

“Who we are never changes. Who we think we are does.” – Mary S. Almanac

“Un/Becoming Beautiful” explores self-image through internal dialog. In this performance-based video, I am looking directly into the camera as if it is a mirror, sans makeup, while reciting an anxious litany of “I am beautiful” or “I am not beautiful.” The viewer goes on an emotional journey with me as I become critical of my looks, applying makeup to enhance my beauty, ultimately feeling even less attractive. My intent is to provoke the viewer to think about their own self-image amidst a society that tells us all we aren’t beautiful enough.

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Peep Holeshttp://www.teresabrazen.com/film/peep-holes?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=peep-holes http://www.teresabrazen.com/film/peep-holes#comments Sat, 22 Oct 2011 23:11:25 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1549

Documentation of a site-specific installation. Peep holes were placed in a public cafe offering viewers an unexpected perspective on an ordinary space.

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Adobe Catalyst [Demo/R&D Project]http://www.teresabrazen.com/design/adobe-catalyst-demord-project?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=adobe-catalyst-demord-project http://www.teresabrazen.com/design/adobe-catalyst-demord-project#comments Sat, 22 Oct 2011 17:42:36 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1463 A touchscreen experience for supermarkets that educates and empowers consumers to make better food choices

Challenge:  Adobe asked us to use Flash Catalyst to create something that would demonstrate the versatility and value of its software – in three weeks. Anything.

Solution:  We designed an in-aisle touch screen experience that allowed customers to scan the barcode on a product to learn about health, environmental and cost implications of that food item.

Approach:

  • Visited a supermarket to observe customer behavior and the constraints of the physical space.
  • Developed proto-personas to root our designs in a range of people and their needs.
  • Capitalized upon company-wide brainpower through a series of brainstorming work sessions.
  • Quickly moved from sketches to prototyping for rapid feedback about motion, interaction and visual design that was integrated into design iterations.

Impact:  The final product of this project was an Adobe-produced video that told the story of our process. To facilitate good storytelling, we captured and opened our entire process up to our client. We were told no other partner had ever made it so easy to tell a good story.

Key Deliverables:

  • Concept sketches
  • Daily video diaries, notes, and photos
  • Proto-personas
  • Screen designs + demo
  • Product video

See more in the  Adaptive Path case study.

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Intentional Environments: Designing a Culture of Co-Creationhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/speaking/intentional-environments-designing-a-culture-of-co-creation-2?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=intentional-environments-designing-a-culture-of-co-creation-2 http://www.teresabrazen.com/speaking/intentional-environments-designing-a-culture-of-co-creation-2#comments Fri, 21 Oct 2011 18:25:19 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1472 from Adaptive Path’s UX Week Conference

Design doesn’t happen inside a vacuum. It happens inside teams, inside the context of relationships, inside physical spaces, inside organizations with very particular cultures. Ignore that intricate ecosystem, and you might as well give your project a death sentence.

In this talk, Teresa Brazen and Kate Rutter draw from their experience bringing this holistic outlook to the design process. Pulling from methods used in filmmaking, fine art, design research, facilitation, improv, and UX design, they craft “intentional environments” for their teams and clients. These literal and figurative environments cultivate work that is actionable, co-created, co-owned, and much more likely to succeed in the world.

They discuss the benefits of intentional environments and walk you through how to design them and methods for keeping them activated throughout the design process. You’ll walk away understanding how to cultivate intentionality, co-create without compromising output, and inspire teams and clients along the way. But more importantly, you’ll have a powerful new framework that will enrich your entire design process.

VIDEO OF TALK (20 min)

SLIDE DECK

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California Health Care Foundation [Research Project]http://www.teresabrazen.com/design/california-health-care-foundation-research-project?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=california-health-care-foundation-research-project http://www.teresabrazen.com/design/california-health-care-foundation-research-project#comments Fri, 21 Oct 2011 17:43:56 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1465 Understanding how people make decisions about long-term care

The Challenge:  California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) wanted to better understand people’s experiences around choosing long term care, how they identify quality care, and what motivates or gets in the way of making good decisions.

Solution:  We conducted in-depth research with consumers to understand their needs and identify opportunities to better support those needs, such as improvements to the current CHCF website and a strategic vision that supports better decision-making about long-term care.

Approach:

  • Participants completed a primer survey prior to interview.
  • During interviews, participants modeled their long-term care experience using a “Decision Journey” game board and game pieces.
  • We created three personas, based upon the behaviors we uncovered in research, to help guide future design.

Impact:  We helped CHCF shift their focus from a ratings focused website to a holistic service strategy. That strategy should reflect a person’s experience with care over time by building awareness of the need for planning,  providing a holistic overview of the long-term care ecosystem and decision journey, providing ratings that are integrated with people’s stories and quality of life considerations, and benchmarking the standard for quality care.

Key deliverables:

  • Research protocol, survey, and findings
  • Three personas demonstrating a diversity of experience
  • Online decision journal
  • Decision journey game board and pieces
  • Three personas demonstrating a diversity of experience
  • A decision process diagram
  • Experience principles
  • Recommendations for the future service
  • A series of workshops to prioritize efforts

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Tools & Methods to Learn the User Experience Design Landscapehttp://www.teresabrazen.com/speaking/tools-methods-to-learn-the-user-experience-design-landscape?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tools-methods-to-learn-the-user-experience-design-landscape http://www.teresabrazen.com/speaking/tools-methods-to-learn-the-user-experience-design-landscape#comments Thu, 20 Oct 2011 18:28:37 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1474 from the Big (D)esign Conference

Coming from outside the user experience (UX) industry and landing smack in the belly of the beast, Teresa knows how fresh eyes can be an asset. In her talk, she will present three creative approaches to understanding and navigating the sea of methods and concepts that make up the User Experience practice, while embedding yourself as a key player in the UX industry. She comes from the perspective that ‘It’s okay not to know everything about User Experience yet’ (most people don’t know what it is, anyway!) and reveals some simple, creative ways to learn about the interesting processes, methods and practices that make up the field.

Tools & Methods include:

1] Maps of Knowledge: Diagrams that allow you to visually see what you know about the industry, what you don’t know, and areas where you can supplement what you already know (if you’re already a UX professional) or what you learned in school (if you’re a soon-to-be UX professional).

2] Get to Know the Pros: Building your network is as simple as taking advantage of resources around you. Teresa will share how her podcast, TeaWithTeresa.com, allows her to learn about UX methods and practice from the people that created the field or made huge waves in the industry. She will also share key things you can do to build your own network within the field.

3] Building A Personal Brand: A personal brand means you’re known for something and helps you stand out in a crowd. Whether you’re a student or an experienced UX professional, growing your personal brand will make a difference for your career. Teresa will provide you with tools to help you uncover what you have to offer, create a mantra (What do you care about?) and will share videos from others who have created strong personal brands within the UX community.

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Rail Europe [Research + Design Project]http://www.teresabrazen.com/design/rail-europe-research-design-project?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rail-europe-research-design-project http://www.teresabrazen.com/design/rail-europe-research-design-project#comments Thu, 20 Oct 2011 17:49:00 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1469 Designing the ticket booking experience for European rail travel

Challenge:  Rail Europe’s booking engine needed to streamline fare models across different carriers to present a clear set of choices to the traveler. The complexities of translating the different fare sets was daunting.

Solution:  We designed a booking system that helped people make sense of the many options for scheduling, fares, carriers, level of service and travel terms.

Approach:

  • Heuristic review of Rail Europe website
  • Several rounds of concepting
  • Client workshops to brainstorm and select interaction model
  • Designed for a use case that addressed 80% of bookings
  • User testing with paper prototypes to validate and refine designs

Impact:  The anticipation that comes with planning a trip is a vital part of what makes traveling enjoyable; we helped Rail Europe take the stress out of that process. We created a booking engine that helps users plan complicated rail travel that accommodated multiple travelers, multiple cities, and the desired level of flexibility. By streamlining the booking experience, customers have a clear understand what has already been booked and what comes next.

Key Deliverables:

  • Heurisitic review of the booking engine
  • User flows + sketches
  • Information architecture diagrams
  • Wireframes of key screens
  • User testing plan + summary
  • Concept catalogue: A reference of ideas generated throughout the project

See more in the  Adaptive Path case study.

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Be Your Future Self Nowhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/be-your-future-self-now?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=be-your-future-self-now http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/be-your-future-self-now#comments Sun, 14 Aug 2011 22:22:09 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1351

(From a little ongoing practice about intentionality)

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How To Be Alonehttp://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/how-to-be-alone?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-be-alone http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/how-to-be-alone#comments Mon, 08 Aug 2011 18:26:19 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1344 I love this short film to pieces.

By filmmaker, Andrea Dorfman, and poet/singer/songwriter, Tanya Davis.

Thanks, ladies.

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Swingin’http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/swingin?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=swingin http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/swingin#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2011 18:03:09 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1340 on the swing in my studio :)

Pic by Jenni Bregman.

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Breaking In My New Art Studiohttp://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/breaking-in-my-new-art-studio?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=breaking-in-my-new-art-studio http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/breaking-in-my-new-art-studio#comments Fri, 01 Jul 2011 19:04:26 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1324 My friend Kate Rutter (designer, artist, crazy intelligent, all-round awesome lady) and I christened my new art studio with a vision board exercise. We cut out, pasted, glued, drew, painted images and thoughts about the futures we want to create. Highlights of the day were sun prints and packing tape transfers. Oh, and homemade white Sangria.

It’s good to have a bona fide creative space to think in.

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Intentional Environmentshttp://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/intentional-environments?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=intentional-environments http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/intentional-environments#comments Mon, 20 Jun 2011 23:22:59 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1305 I just moved into a new place. A lovely loft with big walls that need filling. My friend (and sometimes creative cohort) Jenni Bregman helped me fill one barren wall with a thought I’ve been mulling over lately: intentional environments. I’m exploring what happens when individuals or groups of people predetermine the kind of energy they want to create in a project or relationship – and the specific acts they choose to support the manifestation of that energy. I know, I know…probably sounds like a bit of new agey voodoo. But there is something about the power of that kind of purposefulness that is in my brain right now.

Anyway, this is the beginning of a little practice I’ll be doing in my new home. Placing intentions/directions/suggestions on my walls, in various places, in a variety of formats, using different kinds of materials. Mini-art installations, if you will. I’ll post them here, from time to time.

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Ask DJ Spookyhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/ask-dj-spooky?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ask-dj-spooky http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/ask-dj-spooky#comments Fri, 20 May 2011 19:48:37 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1294 You love Paul Miller (a.k.a. DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid). Or, maybe you just don’t know you love him yet. But, trust me, you do. Your love for him is in you. Waiting to find its way out.

Whether you already love him, or don’t know you love him yet, there is a likely a burning question in your mind…one you’ve always wanted (or will want) to ask him. One that keeps you up at night (or will), that you mull over (or will) as you stare out the window while you’re being creative. It’s one of those annoying brain itches you can’t scratch with your short brain arms.

Well, my friends, relief has come. Think of me as your conduit, a portal that will deliver your question to the man himself. I can scratch your brain itch. Let me explain…

I’m excited to announce that Paul Miller, composer, multimedia artist and writer, will be a keynote speaker at this year’s UX Week (Adaptive Path’s conference for user experience design folk, for those of you not in the know). He’ll discuss his book, Sound Unbound, a collection of thirty-six essays from musicians, writers and artists like Brian Eno, Moby, Chuck D, and Bruce Sterling. These are reports from the front lines on the role of sound and digital media in an information-based society. In preparation for his talk at UX Week, I’ll be interviewing him and sharing our conversation on my blog and Adaptive Path’s blog later this month.

Paul describes music as a social network that is “not about individual creativity but a collective process”.  In that vein, rather than crafting interview questions myself, I’ll be collecting questions from friends and colleges. I’ll take your questions, print them out, put them in a bowl and randomly select a handful, letting fate guide where the conversation goes.

So, send your questions to me at teresa@adaptivepath.com by Tuesday, May 24th.

For some Paul Miller goodness, check out his official website, his book, his Sinfonia Antartica project, his Rebirth of a Nation project or the DJ Spooky iPhone App.

And to get a sense of the kind of things we might hear at UX Week, here's a snippet of him at SXSW last year.

UX Week is August 23-26 in San Francisco. Have a look at our speaker line up and register at the UX Week website.

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The NO Projecthttp://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/the-no-project?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-no-project http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/the-no-project#comments Fri, 29 Apr 2011 19:06:34 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1279 I started a photo series a couple of years ago as a way to document and pay attention to the pervasiveness of NO in American culture – as expressed through signage. A few interesting observations:

The frequency of NO signs varies by location. In cities, there are a lot of rules about how you can interact with public space (ie: parking) and where you are (or are not) allowed to consume beverages, food, and cigarettes.  In rural areas, there are fewer signs, but there are very clear (and adamant) rules about how human beings are allowed to interact with nature. In my travels to other countries, these nature rules don’t necessarily exist — or if they do, there are far fewer. Nor do many other cultures have the same frequency of NO signs in urban areas.

I’m particularly intrigued by handmade signs. It’s curious that people make signs forbidding or discouraging behavior of other human beings with the expectation that these demands will be met. It’d be interesting to do a study on how often these handmade signs are adhered to as compared to government generated signs.

My overall insight thus far is that there are a high number of demands upon American behavior expressed in signage, and we’ve become quite accustomed to seeing these notifications.

See more photos on Flickr.

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Snapshots from Thailandhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/snapshots-from-thailand?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=snapshots-from-thailand http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/snapshots-from-thailand#comments Sat, 19 Feb 2011 22:55:37 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1260 I recently got back from a month of travels through Thailand. Talk about creative fodder. Talk about happy-making. Talk about a crazy good reason to buy a shiny new digital camera.

(You can see more photos on Flickr.)


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[Pondering]http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/pondering?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pondering http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/pondering#comments Thu, 17 Feb 2011 00:25:56 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1245

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Stargirlhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/stargirl?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=stargirl http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/stargirl#comments Mon, 31 Jan 2011 04:34:03 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1230 “She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.”
- from “Stargirl” by Jerry Spinelli

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My Film, Puddle Song, Screening at AtticRep Theater, San Antonio, Texashttp://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/my-film-puddle-song-screening-at-atticrep-theater-san-antonio-texas?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=my-film-puddle-song-screening-at-atticrep-theater-san-antonio-texas http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/my-film-puddle-song-screening-at-atticrep-theater-san-antonio-texas#comments Sat, 22 Jan 2011 23:03:00 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1252 Exciting news: My film Puddle Song is screening at the Attic Reperatory Theater at part of the Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema! January 22, 8:00 PM and January 23, 2:30 PM.

The Attic Repretory Theater (AtticRep) explores the relationship between performance and other media by hosting Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema. Sans Souci is a film festival showcasing the art of dance through a unique lens, with an expansive definition of dance and an appreciation for interdisciplinary forms, this unique festival exposes diverse audiences to a variety of film, video, and performance possibilities. Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema started in Boulder Colorado in 2003 with the support of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

About Puddle Song

Puddle Song was conceived and directed by artist Teresa Brazen as part of an ongoing body of work, The Daydream Series. Each tone poem in this series explores human behavior and emotion within the framework of a single moment or situation.

Puddle Song’s intention is to playfully explore creative expression, judgment, and censorship. Soon after the work’s protagonist innocently loses herself in a moment of wonder and joy, she realizes she is being watched. Her perception of the judgmental gaze of another person imposes on her excitement, and puts an abrupt end to her spontaneous creativity.

Produced in 2009, this project was created in an unusual way: all nine crew members donated their time, equipment, and expertise via an entirely community-driven film cooperative, Scary Cow. As a result, no monies were spent on production. Video was shot with a Sony EX-1 camera using a Letus Extreme 35 mm adapter to give a more film-like aesthetic. The footage was edited in Final Cut Pro and After Effects. Sound Editor Brandon Hopp created the original music score and most of the sound in his home recording studio.

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Intimate City (Encore Show)http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/intimate-city-encore-show?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=intimate-city-encore-show http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/intimate-city-encore-show#comments Sat, 22 Jan 2011 22:47:11 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1247

I’m performing in this show, under the direction of my good friend Jenni Bregman — please come support!

Resident Artist Workshop (RAW) presents Intimate City, a contemporary dance performance that enters the small and crowded spaces of urban life to look at something simultaneously ubiquitous and elusive: intimacy in the city.  It is a glimpse of how we share our minds, hearts and personal space with lovers, friends and strangers.

Wednesday January 26, 8pm

The Garage Artspace, San Francisco, California

975 Howard Street @ 6th Street, San Francisco   (415) 518 1517

975howard.com, jennibregman.com/intimatecity/

Tickets: $10-20 at the door, $15 in advance at brownpapertickets.com

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Getting Read for Film Productionhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/getting-read-for-film-production?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=getting-read-for-film-production http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/getting-read-for-film-production#comments Wed, 01 Dec 2010 01:36:54 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1240 Teeny me in a big white room (studio where we are shooting another little film — a continuation of my Daydream Series project). Time to get excited and make things!

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Intimate Cityhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/intimate-city?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=intimate-city http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/intimate-city#comments Thu, 21 Oct 2010 18:49:10 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1231

I’m performing in this show, under the direction of my good friend Jenni Bregman — please come support!

Resident Artist Workshop (RAW) presents Intimate City, a contemporary dance performance that enters the small and crowded spaces of urban life to look at something simultaneously ubiquitous and elusive: intimacy in the city.  It is a glimpse of how we share our minds, hearts and personal space with lovers, friends and strangers.

Wed & Thurs, Nov 17-18, 8pm

The Garage Artspace, San Francisco, California

975 Howard Street @ 6th Street, San Francisco    •   (415) 518 1517

975howard.com, jennibregman.com/intimatecity/

Tickets: $10-20 at the door, $15 in advance at brownpapertickets.com (I suggest advance tickets — the shows will likely sell out as this is a small venue)

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A Field Guide to Typestacheshttp://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/a-field-guide-to-typestaches?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-field-guide-to-typestaches http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/a-field-guide-to-typestaches#comments Wed, 13 Oct 2010 18:12:13 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1225 Check out this poster designed by  Tor Weeks:

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Good Morninghttp://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/good-morning?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=good-morning http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/good-morning#comments Mon, 11 Oct 2010 17:28:42 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1221 Look who said good morning when I opened up the door…

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Puddle Song Screening at West Wave Dance Festivalhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/puddle-song-screening-at-west-wave-dance-festival?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=puddle-song-screening-at-west-wave-dance-festival http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/puddle-song-screening-at-west-wave-dance-festival#comments Tue, 05 Oct 2010 23:08:42 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1215 Looks like my film Puddle Song will be showing on “Dance on Film Nite” at the West Wave Dance Festival. If you’re in the area, please join us.

Sunday, November 7th, 7pm
Cowell Theater in the Fort Mason Center
San Francisco, CA 94109
Tickets $10

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Why Compromise?http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/why-compromise?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-compromise http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/why-compromise#comments Thu, 23 Sep 2010 17:07:03 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1205


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Snapshots from a Road Trip Through Oregonhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/snapshots-from-a-road-trip-through-oregon?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=snapshots-from-a-road-trip-through-oregon http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/snapshots-from-a-road-trip-through-oregon#comments Sat, 18 Sep 2010 23:11:30 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1181

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Need More Free Time?http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/need-more-free-time?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=need-more-free-time http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/need-more-free-time#comments Thu, 16 Sep 2010 20:06:22 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1197 Found some for you. But, act soon…there are only 2 left.

(photo from Zakary Zide)

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Meeting Notes, 8.14.10http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/meeting-notes-8-14-10?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=meeting-notes-8-14-10 http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/meeting-notes-8-14-10#comments Tue, 14 Sep 2010 20:09:43 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/uncategorized/meeting-notes-8-14-10

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Messages Cloaked Under the Cover of Darknesshttp://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/messages-cloaked-under-the-cover-of-darkness?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=messages-cloaked-under-the-cover-of-darkness http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/messages-cloaked-under-the-cover-of-darkness#comments Mon, 13 Sep 2010 22:52:48 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1166 Stumbled upon these during a nighttime walk through the Mission District in San Francisco:

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Mapping the Emotional Landscape of Portland, Oregonhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/mappingportland?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mappingportland http://www.teresabrazen.com/blog/mappingportland#comments Tue, 31 Aug 2010 16:32:16 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1144 How do you get to know a place through the eyes of the people who live there? How do you discover the nuances that only a resident would know?

Zakary Zide and I have been asking ourselves this question as we prep for a road trip to Oregon this week. So, we devised a fun little game to help us get to know our destination city, Portland, through the perspective of locals (rather than a guidebook).

We’re inviting Portlanders to participate in a behind-the-curtain-scavenger-hunt that will reveal the emotional geography of the city. Here’s how the game works:

(Please share with cool, fun, open people in Portland that you think would enjoy sharing their city with us in this way)

The Time:
Friday, September 3rd, 2010. MEET US at 3pm.

The Place:
Barista cafe (PEARL DISTRICT)
539 NW 13TH AVE, Portland, Oregon

You Get:
We’ll buy you a cup of coffee (not a fancy coffee, just a coffee).

The Materials:
We’ll give you a cute little flag on a toothpick and a small piece of clay.

The Task:
1. You have 20 minutes to place the cute toothpick flag in a spot within a mile of the cafe that holds special significance to you.  It can either be a spot that you think other people overlook (that you take special pleasure in looking at), or a spot where something special has happened to you (the spot where you first kissed your husband, or the spot where you once found 20 bucks). See below for some examples.

2. After you place the flag, you text message us the location of the flag and a sentence or 2 about why the spot is significant to you.

3. We’ll be waiting for your text at Barista cafe. As soon as we get your text, the game is on and we’ll race to find your flags! We’ll document what we find and make something creative in response to your special spot (and post via our blogs).

The possibilities, Portland, are endless.

Our experience will be completely determined by what you choose to share with us.
…………………………………

Here are some examples of tiny flag special spots where we’re from:

Location: Howard Street, underneath the overpass between Main Street and Beale Street, San Francisco
Why: I look forward to seeing this graffiti every day when I head home from work.  It reminds me not to take my worries too seriously.

Location: Natoma Street next to the Transbay Terminal, San Francisco
Why: Sometimes when you look up into the sky, you can catch clusters of birds riding a circular current for long periods of time, hovering in that one spot like a weird, undulating amoeba.
(Image source: http://www.networke9.com/archives/author/marc-johnson)

Location: Florida Street, the chairs inside Circolo restaurant, San Francisco
Why: The spot where Zak and I first met!

We look forward to playing with you!
Teresa + Zak

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Plumshttp://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/plums?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=plums http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/plums#comments Wed, 25 Aug 2010 22:38:18 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1141 I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

– William Carlos Williams

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Flense?http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/flense?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=flense http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/flense#comments Mon, 23 Aug 2010 22:32:22 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1135 “Flense?” he said. “What is flense?”

“It’s what whalers used to do to whale carcasses when they got them on board,” I said. “They would strip off the skin and blubber and meat right down to the skeleton. I do that in my head to people – get rid of the meat so I can see nothing but their souls. Then I forgive them.”

From “Bluebeard” by Kurt Vonnegut

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I Have A Thing for Shadowshttp://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/i-have-a-thing-for-shadows?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=i-have-a-thing-for-shadows http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/i-have-a-thing-for-shadows#comments Sat, 21 Aug 2010 20:02:31 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1126 I don’t know why exactly, but I’m so drawn to shadows. I often find them more compelling than the object that casts them.

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Trust Your Struggle…http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/trust-your-struggle?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trust-your-struggle http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/trust-your-struggle#comments Fri, 20 Aug 2010 19:57:28 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1121 Found this on my way home:

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Universe Closed, Use Rainbowhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/universe-closed-use-rainbow?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=universe-closed-use-rainbow http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/universe-closed-use-rainbow#comments Thu, 19 Aug 2010 18:49:24 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1115 [An actual street sign, referring to actual street names.]

Source: http://www.mobypicture.com/user/twittelator/view/7260843

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13.http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/13?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=13 http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/13#comments Wed, 18 Aug 2010 18:24:00 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1110 At the beginning of each session in my art studio, I read one poem – something interesting to ruminate over while I make. This practice also helps me quickly shift into creative head space; it’s my green “go” light signaling a crossover from daily life distractions to the quiet of my inner sanctum. Last night, I read a poem I especially liked, entitled .13 by Britta Austin.

Spiders are weary of being objects of fear. Good girls are tired of being good, and bad ones long to simply rest their heads upon a shoulder without implication. Black cats wonder why you cross the street, and ladders wish to fall on the next poor sap who goes out of his way to avoid walking beneath one. The word “fuck” longs to be held lovingly on the tongue, is tired of the way it is always spat. Birds wish they could swim, and stars are sick of being wished upon. Bottles fear being emptied. Words are buckling under the burden of meaning. Silence is only a theory. Everyone, everything, is tired.

- By Britta Austin from “Artifacts”

.13 comes from a project titled notecards: a living museum, a collection of prose pieces typed on 3″x5″ index cards using a Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriter over the course of one and a half years. Austin began the project in 2006, and in June 2008 the entire collection was the basis of an exhibition at San Fancisco’s Intersection of the Arts gallery, where contributing artists collectively transformed the gallery into a life-sized, multimedia diorama in reaction to the work. The notecards inspired both visual and performance artists to create original works based on the wide range of themes, ideas, images, and concepts within. (From the foreword of “Artifacts”)

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Remnants of the Weekendhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/remnants-of-the-weekend?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=remnants-of-the-weekend http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/remnants-of-the-weekend#comments Tue, 17 Aug 2010 18:29:12 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1102 It’s Tuesday, and I’m wishing it was still Saturday…

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Sightingshttp://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/sightings?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sightings http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/sightings#comments Mon, 16 Aug 2010 16:53:21 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/discoveries/sightings

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Puddle Song Selected for the 7th Annual Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinemahttp://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/puddle-song-selected-for-the-7th-annual-sans-souci-festival-of-dance-cinema?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=puddle-song-selected-for-the-7th-annual-sans-souci-festival-of-dance-cinema http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/puddle-song-selected-for-the-7th-annual-sans-souci-festival-of-dance-cinema#comments Wed, 28 Jul 2010 23:52:43 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1093 Exciting news: My film Puddle Song was selected to be screened at the Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema!

With an expansive definition of dance and an appreciation for highly experimental and interdisciplinary forms, this unique festival exposes diverse audiences to a variety of film, video, and performance possibilities. The festival will have two evenings of dance cinema shorts, including a live multi-media dance performance, and installations to peruse prior to the screenings. Additionally, on Saturday, there will be a documentary screenings and a scholarly paper panel.

The Festival will be held on Friday and Saturday, September 10 and 11, 2010, in the Black Box Theatre of the Atlas Building at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA

About Puddle Song

Puddle Song was conceived and directed by artist Teresa Brazen as part of an ongoing body of work, The Daydream Series. Each tone poem in this series explores human behavior and emotion within the framework of a single moment or situation.

Puddle Song’s intention is to playfully explore creative expression, judgment, and censorship. Soon after the work’s protagonist innocently loses herself in a moment of wonder and joy, she realizes she is being watched. Her perception of the judgmental gaze of another person imposes on her excitement, and puts an abrupt end to her spontaneous creativity.

Produced in 2009, this project was created in an unusual way: all nine crew members donated their time, equipment, and expertise via an entirely community-driven film cooperative, Scary Cow. As a result, no monies were spent on production. Video was shot with a Sony EX-1 camera using a Letus Extreme 35 mm adapter to give a more film-like aesthetic. The footage was edited in Final Cut Pro and After Effects. Sound Editor Brandon Hopp created the original music score and most of the sound in his home recording studio.

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Wood Nymphhttp://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/wood-nymph?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=wood-nymph http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/wood-nymph#comments Mon, 19 Jul 2010 17:04:15 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1078 Just posted my film, Wood Nymph, on You Tube for your viewing pleasure

Wood Nymph was conceived and directed by artist Teresa Brazen as part of an ongoing body of work, The Daydream Series. Each tone poem in this series explores human behavior and emotion within the framework of a single moment or situation.

The intention of this specific piece is to explore social contexts in which human beings are made to feel shameful about very natural tendencies toward desire. The woman represents society, norms, and rules about “appropriate” behavior. She lures the viewer to her, and then gives them a figurative slap on the hand for looking. The viewer’s desire, in turn, is never fully satiated; they unable to gaze fully upon the woman’s nude body, nor establish a personal connection through eye contact. Wood Nymph also toys with the perception of power, hinting both that woman’s power may often be underestimated, and that the concept of power may be an illusion all together.

Produced in 2009, this project was created in an unusual way: all nine crew members donated their time, equipment, and expertise via an entirely community-driven film cooperative, Scary Cow. As a result, no monies were spent on production. Video was shot with two Sony EX-1 cameras using Letus Extreme 35 mm adapters to give a more film-like aesthetic. The footage was edited in Final Cut Pro and After Effects. Sound Editor Brandon Hopp created the original music score and most of the sound in his home recording studio.

(An interesting aside about the production: During the shoot, a hive of bees was disrupted, and the entire crew scattered as bees flew everywhere, stinging most of the team. Lead actress, Jenni Bregman, was stung on the face, and that bee is visible on her cheek when the footage is slowed.)

* Photo by Martin Klimek

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I Found Africa in the Wall (and a bunch of other things)http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/i-found-africa-in-the-wall-and-a-bunch-of-other-things?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=i-found-africa-in-the-wall-and-a-bunch-of-other-things http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/i-found-africa-in-the-wall-and-a-bunch-of-other-things#comments Wed, 07 Jul 2010 18:28:16 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1053 Little discoveries I stumbled upon in an abandoned house, a forest, a kitchen, a shrine, a bathtub, on a trail, and in the sky.

(I found Africa in the wall…)

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Puddle Song Exhibiting at LA Center for the Digital Artshttp://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/puddle-song-exhibiting-at-la-center-for-the-digital-arts?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=puddle-song-exhibiting-at-la-center-for-the-digital-arts http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/puddle-song-exhibiting-at-la-center-for-the-digital-arts#comments Fri, 02 Jul 2010 16:42:31 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1047 Puddle Song, a short art film I wrote/directed with the help of a fabulous crew + actors (via San Francisco-based film co-op Scary Cow) is showing in this exhibition:

“FEED_BACK”
July 8-24, 2010

Reception and Live Performance: July 8, 7-9pm
In conjunction with Downtown Art Walk

Los Angeles Center for Digital Art
107 West Fifth Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
lacda.com

Forty-eight artists from over 18 countries are gathering at LACDA via the Live@808 networked performance space. Live@808 is a custom web application where realtime video, audio, texting and countless other media collide and intermix in a playful and exciting environment facilitated by emergent technology. The live webcams and video feeds projected in the gallery will be accompanied by a multi-screen installation of video shorts looping on monitors throughout the space.

The FEED_BACK exhibit is a zone of participation, input, response, and transformation that beckons us toward openness, spontaneity and improvisation. It is an inter-media experiment in collaborative international connection and communication that engenders an awareness of the cogent ability of internet technologies to galvanize the world culture in a constructive manner.

FEED_BACK MANIFESTO

All views simultaneously in equal amplitudes illuminate the newly mediated grid of the social. A high bandwidth sense of being unfurls where all notions of anything or everything collaborate and communicate instantaneously over a reverberant labyrinth of wide area networks. This is discursive critical mass—no opinion can exist at the expense of another and all identities, genders, skins, species, preferences and desires are transmutable. The didactic dissolves and philosophy is aesthetisized as infinitely malleable and interactive audio-visual spaces. Anteriorly recursive plagiarisms download, mutate, intermix and upload again. Vocabulary becomes a poetics of redefinition, and concepts become the vertigo of a shimmering ideological spectrum moving at light speed.

This is the new music of the technologized psyche: the electronic symphony of every instrument and every note synchronously blended to one monolithic and ecstatic tone. A meditation. An intercultural over-excitation where all colors combine to create a brilliant light. Each computer screen is a glimpse-a partitioned selection-of this luminous digital site, of the total epistemic memory residing in the global database for instant retrieval, update, recombination and re-storage. This vortical workstation of the internet is a tributary, a feeding bottle or breast, and an hermaphroditic genital of the info-communicative circulatory/nervous system where through interaction we sate the antique dictum for being the smarter monkey that better survives a hostile nature, that better survives its own hostile nature.

And then, noise becomes the signal. Find the signal in the noise. Overexposed, overloaded, distorted, meters in the red. Hissing, scratched, discolored, alaised, unintelligble and unreadable. Lens flares. Warped, faded, clipping, bleeding, and humming. Dot screens, moiree patterns. Raster lines. Corrupted data. Feedback. Modem hash. Channel offsets. Degenerated dubs, replications and simulations.

Allow random access thoughts. Art is assembly language. Be a noise-to-signal processor. Processing and filtering all input. Be electronic. Sampling, capturing. Reconfiguring. Inputting, communicating, disseminating. Be a feedback loop. Be an answering machine. Be a disconnected number, out of service. Be a busy signal, unreachable. Be a signal. Be a system error, crash applications. Be an error message. Be an error. Be an assembly language translator. Be machine level code. Be code. Be corrupted streaming data. Be an aliased side effect. Be aliased.

Make feedback. Be noise.

Networked artists:
Roxanne Brousseau-Félio (Canada)
_8_O_8_ (USA)
catgotwasted (UK)
Setenay Ozbek (Turkey)
Katy Hick (Brunei Darussalam)
Nancy Bechtol (USA)
Audri Phillips USA)
Jorge Llaca Serna (Mexico)
Ali El Hadj Tahar (Algeria)
Nahrain Michael (Iraq)
Marco Battaglini (Costa Rica)
Joao Santos (Qatar)
N. Ajayan (India)
Marc Lougee (Manila)
Mir Kian Roshannia (Iran)
Frédéric Boulleaux (France)
Debbi (Sosum) Chan (USA)
D. Lammie-Hanson (USA)
Russel Hulsey (USA)
Dana Tomsa Oberhoffer (Italy)
Lois Siegel (Canada)
Tirthankar Biswas (India)
Louise Dionne Jackson (UK)
David Poulter (Taiwan)
Michelle Wardley (Australia)
Julie Collins (Australia)
Rex Bruce (USA)
Tiffany Trenda (USA)
Victor Solomon (USA)
Takaki Hashimoto (Japan)

Video artists:
Patricia Stone
Lana Citowsky
Sim Sadler
Raissa Contreras
Patricia Wells
Susan Shaw
Sylvia Toy
L. Ashwyn
Teresa Christiansen
Jessica Leza
Teresa Brazen
Jon Shumway
Nelson and SIxta
Kiyomitsu Saito
Julia Morgan-Leamon
Hyla Skopitz
Jesus Jimenez
Michael Lasater

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My Film, Puddle Song, Showing in Berlin & Barcelonahttp://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/my-film-puddle-song-showing-in-berlin-barcelona?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=my-film-puddle-song-showing-in-berlin-barcelona http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/my-film-puddle-song-showing-in-berlin-barcelona#comments Fri, 25 Jun 2010 20:37:42 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1032 Exciting week on the video art front! Puddle Song, a short art film I wrote/directed with the help of a fabulous crew + actors (via San Francisco-based film co-op Scary Cow) was selected for the following shows:

“Best Of” the Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema in collaboration with Ob-Art Collective
Barcelona, Spain
July 14, 2010
Punt Multimedia, Casa del Mig, Parc de L’Espanya Insutrial
Calle Muntades, 5 – 08014  Barcelona

On The Wall
Berlin, Germany
July 2, 2010
ada Studios
Schönhauser Allee 73 / QuARTier 73, 2.HH
10437 Berlin
Film list/descriptions

* In this curated series of films, each selected piece addresses one of 5 themes – location, sound, costume, movement, camera angle. ‘Puddle Song’ was selected for sound.

]]> http://www.teresabrazen.com/uncategorized/my-film-puddle-song-showing-in-berlin-barcelona/feed 0 If You Need a Boost…If You’re Having a Bad Day…http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/if-you-need-a-boost-if-youre-having-a-bad-day?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=if-you-need-a-boost-if-youre-having-a-bad-day http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/if-you-need-a-boost-if-youre-having-a-bad-day#comments Mon, 17 May 2010 22:19:43 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1014 Go HERE: http://tinyurl.com/1cl9
Type your name in the box, and watch yourself smile.

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Forbidden Treehttp://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/forbidden-tree?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=forbidden-tree http://www.teresabrazen.com/discoveries/forbidden-tree#comments Sat, 15 May 2010 15:09:52 +0000 http://www.teawithteresa.com/?p=1004 The National Film Board of Canada, in association with the Cannes Short Film Corner, welcomes you to the 6th NFB Online contest. Vote for your favorite short film.

Director: Benafsheh Modaressi
Length: 7’14
Origin: Iran

A story of an imaginary city under a harsh ruler. Love is forbidden, and freedom a distant memory. Few people have the courage to fall in love, challenging the forbidden symbols….This film has no dialogue because the people are too scared to express themselves….in the end, love shines back in to the city. The courage of those who dared to love has saved it. The last clip shows a child tasting life and freedom by eating the apple (symbol of life) freely.

Tehranian-born Banafsheh Modaressi worked from 1999 as a freelance photojournalist and reporter for magazines such as Paris Match, Die Zeit, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, as well as several local newspapers. Government restrictions in Iran hampered her photojournalism career, so Modaressi obtained an M.A. in Graphics and Design in 2005 then began teaching at the University of Applied Science and Technology in Tehran. She has had over 20 photo and mixed-media exhibitions, both inside and outside of Iran, and her love of photography and drawing ultimately led her to animation. Modaressi started film-making in the workshop of Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami ın 2008 and followed his workshops from Tehran to Villa Arson.

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