• Playful Learning Design

Tangram Mandala Kaleidoscope

It all started with a set of magnetic tangram pieces. You remember the Tangram puzzles right? I had one in elementary school that was wood; seven flat shapes called tans that you could use to create numerous different shapes. The tangam has an interesting history, with rumored origins in China from over 1,000 years ago. The puzzles were widely popular in England and Denmark in the early 1800's, and at the end of the century became common in the United States. Apparently they also had a resurgence in the late 1980s. Between tangrams and lincoln logs, I was always constructing something. You can imagine my excitement when I recently found them in magnet form!

I like order in my creative practices. Getting into the process of any interaction gives me a way to approach the work with a mind that strives for pattern, consistency, and relationships. Mandalas and radial symmetry have been a reoccuring theme in my own work, and also in the work I am drawn to. With the large set of tangram pieces I had, I began to make a mandala. Each piece had to have a certain relationship with the other pieces it was touching. In some it was alignment, in others it was repetition of shape or color. I quickly settled into a process that made sense to me, continually relating each piece back to the pieces it would connect with.

One of the beautiful uses of the mandala is in Tibetan sand pouring. The work is ephemeral; when the mandala is complete, the sand is brushed away and the design is gone. Creation and destruction, in a cyclical routine. When I needed to film a stop-motion video this week for a project, I knew it was time to say goodbye to the design I had created. One by one, I took each piece off and took a photo.

My photos were quite bad when I uploaded them into the editing software. Yellow lighting, the colors were dark, and there was something missing. After attempting to do some color correction, I cropped the footage to focus in on the frame. Still, something missing. Filters on video footage often look really cheesy, and I desperately went through each and every option to see how each one impacted the experience. Beginning to get frustrated, I decided to get experimental with the footage and try the Kaleidoscope effect. Suprise! It changed the effect of my footage from a stop-motion to a fractal, transforming configuration of shapes.

So, this is my stop-motion turned experimental video editing, tangram mandala kaleidoscope. Enjoy, and don't forget to enjoy the process and keep experimenting.