Author: J. M. Tuckerman

About J. M. Tuckerman

A super nerdy YA-fangirl. Blogger at and Mom to two Lab/St.Bernards, one retriever mix service dog to be, and one nine pound orange tabby. Voracious reader. Collector of expensive paper (AS, BA, MA, MFA). Copyeditor. Proud Ravenclaw. Future NYT bestselling author.

Ain’t We Got Fun

Ain’t We Got Fun-Issuu

The idea of fun has changed so much since I was younger. As an adult “fun” has to happen within “acceptable guidelines” and “age restrictions.” When I was a child I loved to swing on our swing set for hours—I didn’t need to listen to music or play video games while I did it, the swinging was enough. In middle school I started to use more
technology and in high school I was totally addicted. I also read a lot.

I used portraits and collages to show adults doing “childish” things but also to show that what we did as children is still with us as an adult. I also wanted to challenge the ideas that adults have
different activities to call fun. Adulthood
shouldn’t be subdued; people should feel free to be open about their interests and do what makes them happy without being judged.

While shooting these photos, I went to a
playground. Many people stared at us while my friends played on the swings in their professional wear and I took pictures.

I believe the work shows the change and the
influence of our hobbies over time. Everyone is
doing something they love to do in every photo.

Annette Khun says that a photograph is a “prompt, a  pre-text, [and] sets the scene for
recollection.” My photo essay revolves around recollection. I asked my friends what they did for “fun” at ages 5, 10, 13, 15, 18, and 21. I chose those ages because I believe they mark specific ages at which rights of passage begin.

At age 5, most children are beginning to go to school, at age 10 they are leaving elementary school and at age 13 they are leaving middle school. At 15, people are well into high school and on the road to self discovery, which has usually changed or finished by age 18 when they graduate from high school and become “adults.” Then age 21 happens and some people go to bars while others accept responsibilities and begin to see that certain “fun” things aren’t acceptable any more.

I chose to explore this topic because I am so open about the hobbies and activities I do which make me happy, even though many people say that I am childish because of it.

The only pictures which depict reality in my photo essay are the portraits. The portraits show an attitude relating to the subjects given profession. The first group of photos is of Audrey, the creative director for Kyo Daiko, a taiko group in Philadelphia, PA. She is holding her bachi (the sticks used for beating the taiko drums) in front of her with a stern face. That is how she performs. That is how she shows that she is disciplined in that art.

In my own portrait I am sitting on the floor with a notebook and pen in my hand and forced smile on my face. I want to be a writer and so I am writing in my portrait.

Errol Morris that in the act of choosing to take one photo or the moment you “select one
photograph from a group of photographs” you are very close to “manipulating reality.” I did nothing but manipulate reality in this photographs.

Every photograph has been posed or coached in some way. I took at least 50 photos of each
subject and then chose which one looked the best or could be manipulated easily. In one picture I erased part of the back ground so that a security pad was not behind my head. I cropped many photos but still left some active space, space between the subject and the frame, in the photographs.

Sontag stated that photographs “may” distort, that there is “always a presumption that something exists, or did exist, which is ‘like’ what’s in the
pictures.”  What is in the photographs is as important as what is left out of them.


The picture of Audrey swinging the Lousville Slugger
T-ball bat is one of the strongest in this collection.

In the photo where Audrey relives her years playing
softball for the Glendora Girls Athletic League, there is depth of field, leading lines, and  active space. Audrey is in focus while the front yard of my grandmother’s house is not. It forces the viewers eyes to Audrey and the action of swinging the bat because the background is not busy, there is less noise to interfere with the message.

The leading lines form from the bottom left corner with her leg, loop around her arms and upper body, and follow out to the tip of the bat. It forces the viewer to look at the full gesture of swinging the bat.

I tried to use minimal active space. I did not want to crop out the subject and used the crop to focus in on the subject.



Each collection ends with a collage. The collage shows all of the childish activities in black and white and in the

background. It represents the idea that although our past is behind us, it is still with us.  My intent with the collage is to bring
attention to the interconnectivity of our individual lives. Life is not like a language that leaves you from prolonged non-use; it is more like a pyramid which gets taller and greater by building on past experiences.

The black and white photographs represent the past and the things we no longer think about. The
colored portrait is the
present and the identity.


I chose to use a Nikon D3100 DSLR
Camera for the quality of the image. I knew that I wanted to crop, edit, and play with all of the
photos in order for them to meet my needs.
Although many point and shoot camera have come a long way in the quality of images they do not offer me the same control as a DSLR.

I used Photoshop to edit all of the images. I cropped, erased pictures and items from walls, and even increased the depth of field. I did this to make the images more interesting.

Using the high quality camera and photo-editing software gave me a lot of control. The only noise in the images is noise which I created. I feel that this made plenty of room for my
intention to be shown through the images.



My Inner Eeveelution

Yes, it’s another poke-post. But this one is all about Eevee and what the eeveelutions say about you.

In all the pokemon games, spanning all six generations, the most coveted pokemon, even more so than any legendary pokemon, is Eevee. Because Eevee will evolve into one of eight different eeveelutions. Continue reading

Gotta Catch ‘Em All… Visual Rhetoric!

Once upon a time, in a region far, far away, there lived a plethora of animals that could only learn four moves. They were called pokemon. And they were awesome. Who am I kidding, they still are. Pokemon come in all shapes, sizes, and types: , and . Look at all those pretty colors. The colors add to the intratextuality of the game, but so do the appearances of the pokemon. Bulbasaur is one of the starter pokemon given to you at the beginning of the game. He is from the first generation of pokemon; the generation in which there were only 151. Without knowing his name, or seeing his pokedex entry, what type do you think he is based on colors and appearance alone? If you guessed  you are correct. If you guessed  I have to wonder how he looks like a bug…

On Bulbasaur’s back is a flower bulb. As he evolves the flower blooms. This is metaphoric gold on a semiotic level. The flower blooms because Bulbasaur has grown not only in size but also in experience. He has fought many battles and learned many moves (or not, it’s up to you). The flower on his back is a symbol of all this pokemon’s hard work. Continue reading

Sack Things and the Self


According to this project by Tegan Harris, there are 5 main types of characters which gamers create to represent themselves:

  1. the true self
  2. the heroic self
  3. the powerful self
  4. the fantasy self
  5. the random character

The “true” self, according to Harris, is a virtual representation of the player’s self-perception but may not equal the perception others have of the player. The “heroic” self is also a representation of the “true” self but with all positive or all negative attributes greatly exaggerated. The “powerful” character is designed to be effective within the realm of the game: gaining levels, completing quests, and completing the game. The “fantasy” character represents the “true” self but shows “aspects of the player… that are completely [unfeasible] in the real world.” The “random” character is not built toward any goal but it just an interesting choice for the player and serves as a distraction from the real world. Continue reading

Proposal: Remember When We Thought That Was Fun?

I would like to explore the idea of “fun” through the use of portraits and collages. I was thinking about how my idea of a good time has changed since I was a child. When I was in elementary school, I loved to swing on our swing set for hours–I didn’t need to listen to music or play games while I did it, the swinging was enough. When I was in middle school, I started using technology more. My favorite thing to do was play games on the computer. In high school, I just liked to hang out with my friends. There was nothing greater than throwing a movie into the VCR (later the DvD player) and then ignoring it while we all talked on the couch. In early college, I watched as my friends went to the bars and clubs, but my closest friend and I preferred to go to coffee shops and read our poetry (I’m mortified just admitting that). Now, I enjoy a hybrid of going home and being out. I like going to the archery range but I also like to be home with a good book.

I would like to take portraits which show what a person does for fun (a musician would hold their instrument, a biker would be in their riding gear, a bookworm would be smothered in a pile of books) and then I would like to put that portrait on top of a collage that was taken by the subject. I would the subject to take photos (with the cell phones, their digital cameras, a disposable camera) of what they thought was fun at ages 10, 13, 15, 18, 21 (if they are old enough to) and whatever their current age is.

My goal is to show the change and influence of our hobbies over time.


I am familiar with video editing and many different programs to do so. The technical aspect of this medium was not a hurtle for me but conveying a message without being concrete was difficult with this medium. In writing classes, we often hear “show don’t tell,” in video we automatically show and use the sound and images in order to tell. Because I was not allowed to use text, the mashup only allowed me to show and not tell. Showing and not telling added to the noise. Noise, according to Sean Hall, is the “distortion or alteration in the meaning or method of transmission of a message” (41). The mashup is made of noise entirely. There were times when I was composing this video that even I was not sure what I was conveying. I think the largest obstacle I face (and I’m not sure I even overcame it) was creating meaning through the use of familiar material. If I use a word in my writing its context only exists within my story, but if I use a clip in my mashup it’s context exists both in its original context, the context I intend to create in my mashup, and the context which the viewer perceives the clip in.

mashup-shot Continue reading

The Curse of Intertextuality (Disc 1)

The modern video game is shaped by allusions to culture, literature, even other video games.

Jarrod Thacker, in his undergraduate thesis “Semiotics and Intertextuality of Video Games” notes that intertextuality only works based on its context and proximity. Much of the intertextuality in video games is only relevant to those involved in the gaming culture but often, as Thacker also notes, there are references to real life within the games. To prove this, Thacker cites the Obama ’08 campaign who bought add space in NBA Live ’08.

There are many types of interextuality within video games. Some things are simply visual, like the health and/or mana bar, usually located in some corner of the screen, or a save point of some sort, which often has some relevance to the game or game series. Other things include narrative cliches and easter eggs, which either show up with in dialogue or are objects within the game.

MK-1 To discuss the many levels of intertextuality within games I would first like to look at Mario Kart Wii from Nintendo. I’m only going to look at one track: the Luigi Circuit. Throughout all of the tracks there are special billboards with ads for fake businesses and products. On the Luigi Circuit most of the ads are Luigi-based-parodies of Mario products, namely LuigiKart and the green Nintendo logos. There are also ads for Luigi MK-2Tires and Shooting Stars. Where else have I seen ads for products to make cars and bikes go faster or drive better? Oh right! On an actual race track. By no means is any Mario Kart raceway able to be likened to any actual raceway, but it certainly has similarities outside of the asphalt.

To further explore intertextual references in games, I’d like to look at the third game in the monkey island series: Curse of Monkey Island (CMI).  Continue reading

Mashup Storyboard: Mental Health in Media

mashupstoryboardMy mashup will begin with some panned shots from Girl Interrupted, Prozac Nation, and season 2 of American Horror Story. This initial set of clips will confirm that the mashup deals with mental health. I will be adding other clips which include dialogue from the movies including diagnoses of patients and descriptions of patients pasts. I am only using clips from patients who demonstrate extreme behaviors or who receive extreme treatments, such as tranquilizers or electro convulsive treatment because these are the examples people use to compare normal and crazy.

I will be using clips from musicals of the 1940’s and 1950’s to show what people believe happens after a patient takes medication: everything is all cured and everyone is happy.

I am still trying to find clips of people with masks because SSRIs and other psychotropic medications do not actually cure mental disorders they only mask the symptoms.


Proposal: Portrayal of Mental Health Solutions in Media

I have generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. Every so often my blood pressure shoots to 200/180, I hyperventilate, pass out, and wake up in the hospital. I have no control over it. My family, many of whom do not understand the disorders, often tell me I need to learn to grow up. If I had a nickel for every time I was told to “just let it go” or that I was “going through a phase,” I wouldn’t be worrying about my student loans. There are some fairly general, and incorrect, assumptions about people with varying mental disorders. Got depression? Oh you just need to get outside more. Are you stressed? Why? You don’t have three jobs, children, or a mortgage–you don’t know what it is to be stressed.

The media doesn’t help much either. In any given portrayal of someone in a mental ward there is at least one person who is screaming, running around, jumping on people or things, assaulting doctors or other patients , or laughing hysterically and anyone who doesn’t do these things obviously does not belong there because they are normal. According to movies and TV shows there are only the extremes and the wrongly accused.

Media also perpetuates that medication is the only option for all mental health issues. How many times have you seen commercials for anti depressants? Specifically, how many times have you seen the ABILIFY cartoon which likens depression to a dark ballroom, ball and chain, and a whole in the ground?

In my mashup, I want to explore the portrayal of mental health as well as the passive ignorance that many people have toward it. I plan to use clips from documentaries, 1940s musicals, and movies from the last 15 years which touched on the subject of mental health.

I am hoping to raise awareness on a few topics within the realm of mental health starting with the fact that the medications which are so often prescribed only mask the symptoms of the disorders and do not cure them. I would also like to address that the periods in which people with anxiety disorders reach their lows are moments in which they need support and not to be criticized or written off.