My avatar is a watercolor painting that I made with my name at the bottom. My painting is of a sunset over the water, because I feel that looking at a sunset is very calming. I chose this as my avatar because our English class focuses on comics, in which art is used to tell a story. I painted this while I was evacuated during Hurricane Irma last year. My family and I had stuffed our valuable items into the trunk of our car before driving to Alabama. I was glad that my family would be safe but I couldn’t help worrying what our city would look like when we got back. I was in a hotel room and since all of my assignments had been cancelled due to the hurricane, I decided to paint this. Even though this scene looks nothing like that of my hometown, this served as a reminder of the serenity of the past. Thus, while this may seem like any painting of a sunset, there may be more meaning to this painting than what meets the eye. Similarly, in comics, pictures drawn may appear to give clear and accurate depictions of situations. However, as we have learned, when comics are analyzed, deeper meanings can be uncovered and artistic and stylistic elements that shape the story can be uncovered.
I feel that my avatar gives insight into who I am because it shows that I love creating art, and it provides an abstract depiction of an event from my life. Additionally, due to the focus on comics within our class, my avatar connects to a topic from our class.
My avatar is a shot from one of my favorite films, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (written by Charlie Kaufman), with a text overlay of the nickname “Gaz” as some refer to me as. For the record, you are welcome to call me Isaac OR Gaz. I will respond to either. “Gaz” is a shortened name my grandfather, other, and brother used in school from our last name “Gazmararian.”
The process of designing an avatar was surprisingly hard for me. I knew it would include something related to film, as that is a big passion of mine, but I struggled picking any specific film because I love so many of them. Initially, I worked on combining an image of the black hole from the film Interstellar with the image from the film City of God, as both films are two of my favorite movies, are from completely different genres, and relate to my other passion for space. However, I struggled with the layout of the images and how to best overlay/crossfade them, which eventually led me to simplify my design and settle on the image from Eternal Sunshine.
For those who don’t know, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a film about a two people who decide to erase all memories of the other from their own minds after they break up. The film flows in and out of reality and memories as events bleed into each other and the protagonist (played by Jim Carrey) questions whether or not he wants to finish the memory-wiping procedure. While the story seems fantastical, the film hits on some ruthlessly real emotions. It deals with the breaking down of the idealization of a romantic partner, how people change in relationships, how all-consuming romantic relationships can be, and much much more. I love the film for its realistic portrayal of human emotions which can’t be cleanly categorized. There are only two films in my life that have helped me through romantic break-ups, the movie Her by Spike Jonze and Eternal Sunshine. Both films share a certain level of humility and vulnerability that I find lacking in other “romantic” films. The film also has beautiful cinematography, which smoothly moves the viewer through memories (sometimes in one shot!). That type of lucid cinematography is something I have learned from and attempt to apply it to my own short films. The film is also written by my favorite writer of all time, Charlie Kaufman (writer of Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, Synecdoche, New York,Anamolisa, etc.), who consistently crafts wholly unique films with an odd sense of structure, pacing, and character which I cannot find nowhere else. Kaufman’s films almost feel like a character itself.
Suffice to say that this film has impacted me many ways, as a person, a cinematographer, and a writer. There are few out there like it. I initially chose to slant the text because I thought it would look cool, but now the more I think about it, I like how it almost feels like the name “Gaz” is laying down next to Clementine and Joel, as if I am part of the film.
“Blessed are the forgetful: for they get the better even of their blunders.” – Mary Svevo, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindFriedrich Nietzsche
My avatar is a combination of the bat symbol and Gotham’s silhouette, resembling a searchlight that shines into the dark sky. Batman has been one of my favorite superheroes since my childhood. After I grew up, I found the philosophical meanings behind the stories very interesting. They pose serious questions on human nature and the concept of justice.
Despite the multi-universe setting of the Batman series, the character of Batman always has multiple facets – a crazy rich, blithe playboy during daylight, an invincible superhero ruthless to villains, but also a soft and melancholy soul due to his traumatic childhood. Like most kids, I was first fascinated by his physical prowess and his dedication to justice. Being one of the few superheroes that do not have inherent superhuman powers further excited my admiration. Back then, Batman was perfect in my mind. However, with the timeline of Batman’s life rolling out through various productions, such as comics, films, and video games, Batman became less a hero or an idol to me, but more a concrete human being. As my age grew, I started to understand and empathize with the conflicts inside him. These conflicts are the philosophical questions that people have been trying to answer for thousands of years – about family, society, justice, and the best approach to it.
The combination of the bat symbol and Gotham’s silhouette reflects a philosophical thought I hold – the world is about balance. Gotham was founded to buttress more wealth and supposedly a better life, but too much wealth eventually led to corruptions and crimes. Excessive evil then contributed to the emergence of Batman (Bruce Wayne created the Batman persona and committed to justice after he witnessed the murder of his parents.) and his allies like James Gordon to balance out itself. On the other hand, the superior power of Batman was more than enough for mobs and corrupted police, resulting in the appearance of super-villains like the Joker and Mr. Bloom. These super-villains do not focus on material benefits but commit crimes because of their pessimism towards human nature, the antithesis of Batman’s belief in good humanity and justice. Batman and the Gotham City shaped each other and cannot be separated. As said by an ancient Chinese philosopher, harmony, or a more modern word, sustainability, is the balance point between good and evil.