Monday, 29 October 2007

15th & 22nd October

The words in space project seemed like something I could get my teeth into and enjoy at the same time. I began the brief with a huge outlook on words and the idea of space and I think most people will have chosen to play about with one of the two keywords. I thought about what words are at first - a collection of letters to make a meaningful verbal expression. A grouping of linguistic symbols under a system. A symbol itself. A logo. Binary. Morse code. Mouthing words. Hand gestures. Colours can even sometimes act as words. Once you've begun to delve into a certain area of words you must consider which words and why. If these words are made 3D you automatically start working with space also. During crits I think a few people maybe didn't go as far as they might have liked because they focussed on only one of the two keywords.

I opted to start off experimenting with physical words and see how they can interact with one another in the physical and spatial sense. The newspaper was the obvious source for these primary words. I intended, once I had learned about how I could evoke a sense of space and words, to print out bigger words - maybe in different, meaningful typefaces, and cut them into sturdy, card shapes. Unfortunately I was taken in by my primary experiments with photography and moving the card cut-outs around the room/a card box and playing with shadows. After the first crit, the idea came up that maybe it was a fitting scenario for the newspaper headlines, which today seem almost a cliche in themselves, to be in a stage set sort of environment. The addition of lighting from small candles and hand held torches helped the atmosphere of the resulting images and I have been successful in this brief at engaging with the two concepts of space and words. With more time I would surely have gone on to improve certain aspects - the words I used, their size, their form (typefaces) and the lighting/colour.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

8th October week

This week, with the brief of 'accidental beauty', I got back into the swing of studying and found the brief quite interesting. Sadly the delivery of the brief comprised only of hundreds of examples of professional works and not enough talk around the actual idea of accidental beauty. How, for instance, would professional designers use accidentally beautiful objects; places; situations? And why? Were the brief more explained or more suggestions/questions raised I feel we might have benefitted more. My work began with looking through books and suggested websites to consider what is accidental and what if anything is actually beautiful. I realised that, in many cases, what we consider to be beautiful is actually rather just well ordered/balanced, rare and/or natural. In fact, what is merely pleasing to the eye can, at the best of times, be beautiful.

Certain processes began to take place in the form of playing with a make-shift lightbox (a lamp) and observing its effect on coloured papers and newspapers. On top of that I considered how changing the position/setup of the camera might add to the images obtained. This is about where I asked myself if beauty is what you can see or how you're seeing it. A simple example would be the sky - sometimes it is an ugly grey and sometimes a colourful sunset. The light coming through the sheets of the newspaper meant I could see two layers of often colliding text and deformed shapes. Now and then I found funny looking situations between image and text such as the image of a man's head with a large number from another page stamped to his forehead.

The tea stain idea stemmed from my having remembered the work of a student in Glasgow for a brief concerning nationality or Britain in some way. His prize winning image was a regular image of the Queen's head drawn skilfully with tea stains. A very brainy image but I thought at the time about how interesting the tea stain could be. So here I made 20 or so tea marks and observed the results. The marks, on cartridge paper, were beautiful for their unique shapes, circular (balanced) form and subtle tone variations. In retrospect I may have lost the practical edge by chasing down these tea stains. Had I sought out real instances of these marks and recorded them it would have made for a more interesting documentation and study.

It was good to see that things don't change in certain computer studios as I failed to get anything out of the paperless printers for this brief. I'm sure the technicians were busily helping other students at the time but I would like to see a better system in place. Leaving paper next to the printers and some simple instructions for the less computer-literate would be a good start. Another slight concern I had this week was about the orientation of the course in general. The workshops were all but one digitally orientated and tutors tell us of the value of the good old practical hands-on approach. I would like to have seen some properly taught sessions on offer rather than more opportunities to do what we like and learn from mistakes. Personal study is fine by me but it gets extremely dull unless you're able to have tutors give you another viewpoint. Paul Minott's three sessions last year on a brief design history were the only times I felt as if I was being educated rather than told to go away and do something. Without an academic approach to design in some way I can't see the difference between the students at Bath Spa and anybody on the street. Why shouldn't there be, for instance, talks on poster designs/handwritten typgography/image making/layout? If this is due to a lack of available tutors then even a weekly/fortnightly page on minerva pointing out key examples of design to be studied would help.

Friday, 8 June 2007

4th June

This week I went about printing the final visual outcomes of the diagnostic brief. The final outcomes were based around using text speak productively to experiment and enquire as to how far it can be taken as a linguistic system of abbreviation and simplification. How far could text speak change the language?

I began looking through books and brainstorming whereabouts I might find information/essays/writing on the English language. If I intend to show the change in langauge due to text speak then I can do this by writing the chosen article in text jargon. This would mean the content of the writing wouldn't have to be based on the idea that language is being changed by text speak. Maybe it is something more subtle. Maybe writings from centuries ago. Maybe something written on the concept of change itself. I found a passage online which questioned the english language's capacity for the speed and density of information in today's world and the fact that it may need to change. This seemed fitting for the intentions of my work. Putting it into text speak meant immediately offering a solution to the article.

The article seemed strong enough alone and needed no further writings of a similar nature so I asked myself what else could be presented to support the article. What strikes me about the subject of text speak is that every English speaker seems to have quite a clear opinion on the subject - be it neutral, for or against. The number of opinions on each side tend to be balanced also. It seemed perfect then to take comments from the internet (which addressed interesting issues on text speak and some quite strong opinions) and display them in text speak.

Having done this I thought it necessary to look further at applying text speak to standard English. Would it work on older or poetic forms of English? I thought probably not but it was a nice surprise to find that it did work. When I think about it, it would of course work because text speak is based on phonetics alone. So writing various poems in text speak was another step forward and highlighted certain polysyllabic words which are very visually interesting when put into text speak.

Using illustrator I was able to explore interesting ways of visually presenting the material. I learned in the week prior one or two valuable tricks regarding the relationship of image and type. It has been difficult to use university facilities other than digital processes because of the end of year business and the lack of tutors available to offer help. I still do not feel fully confident in workshops if there is no-one there to direct me from time to time which has been the case recently. Nonetheless I don't believe using any other process would have been as effective as the digital for my subject of enquiry as it itself is a technological issue. It would be interesting to see the article I used in text speak printed in letterpress but I simply don't have the time to lay out so many letters.

In any case I feel I have researched this project in a very productive fashion. Three weeks ago I saw text speak stereotypically as the occupation of young illiterate texters. It was only until I realised its power as a linguistic system that I found it to be a significant possible evolution in English. I feel I have approached the subject in an original way and have gained a good understanding of its value in visual communication for the future.

Friday, 1 June 2007

28th May

The tutorial this week was a good use of time to establish where I stood with the work I have done so far. It seems I have done almost all of the research needed to understand what it is I am looking at. There are only so many examples of text messages and arguments on the subject that I can collect before it gets repetitive. The fact seems to be that there are three groups of people.

The first group is of text-speakers who are mostly young people. This could be coincidence but probably isn't. Mobile phone companies target the younger, 'hip' generation. School pupils with hundreds of contacts from school will text each other all day, every day. There are even text therapy sessions available for those with an addiction to spending money on their phone for texting purposes. These younger users generally say that text-speak is quicker and easier. There was even a case of a 13 year old pupil who wrote an English essay in text-speak. The adults of this group are more inclined to text now and then but many of whom admit they use text-speak because it is quicker. They seem to accept text-speak as long as it is understandable and not overly abbreviated.

The second group is none-text-speakers, those who don't text and some English teachers. These people are of all ages and seem to be neutral to the changes in language due to texting. They are at ease with texting full words and simply choose not to use text-speak. Those who do not text are open to the change of the language because it walks hand in hand with the change of technology and information.

The third group is of texters, non-texters and many English teachers who are completely against the change for reasons which have not been given in their comments online. This group of people are again of all ages and are quicker to insult those who use text-speak than they are to outline their reasons for hostility. They generally argue the English language is beautiful and wonderful and spelling is important and meaningful and that text-speak is destroying the language. What is ironic is that in English language classes pupils are almost always taught about the changes in the English language. I myself remember being taught about the necessity for change in language. But when such change is affiliated with the younger generations it seems to be immediately stigmatised because of the apparent lack of understanding in younger people.

Reading an article online which pondered how clever young people were to have taken the language and modified it to fit it into 160 characters was very interesting as it was true. The way young people did this illustrated their grasp of the phonetics of the language and how easily rules could be bended whilst retaining the meaning of the information.

Up to this point I have researched the subject. I have looked at it from different angles - in terms of history, in regards to the current English examination specifications, in conjunction with foreign languages which are 'suffering' the same changes. French, the most self-conscious language of all, has even been reported of having been written in text-speak by some users. I have collected examples of abbreviations and scrutinised text-speak itself. I have read articles and comments on the use of text-speak and kept an honestly unbiased stance. I say unbiased because I myself do not use text-speak in its fullest and, as I said before, am enthusiastic to retain 'proper spelling'. Furthermore I understand the outcome of this development in text-speak is out of my hands and thus I merely wish to commentate its progress and meaning. I have acknowledged the link between text-speak and technology (not youth culture). I have analyzed the typeface apparent in text messages and its possible uses. I visually expressed words and phrases on the subject of text-speak and am beginning to pursue the modification of information in order to compress it without losing detail (as text-speak does with its 160 character limit).

What remains now is to question text-speak. After all it is only succesful as far as I know as an abbreviator of casual vocabulary. What are you doing tonight? Where are we going to meet? How are you? These questions are typical of text messages. They are informal because text messaging is an informal medium of communication. Text-speak can deal with such casual vocabulary because the words are short and the frequency of their use is enormous. I doubt text-speak could be applied to essays on political history or business practice and thus there may be room for experiment here as the final work. Finding essays/articles etc which range in formality of vocabulary may difficult. The subject of these articles will be significant - so I will have to decide what they should be about. Putting an essay on a general history of the english language into text speak may be rewarding as a subtle expression of my subject. I am assuming now that more heavily worded essays would be more difficult to abbreviate but I will have to try it out to be sure - hopefully I am wrong. If I am not wrong then text-speak may have to be passed off as a simplifier of the language with limited ability to simplify longer words.

21st May

This week I did not receive a tutorial as Anthony had to speak to some other people but I was confident my new intentions of researching text message language was an adequate line of enquiry. I had intended to print my letterpress design during this week but when I got round to getting into the letterpress room I found myself leaving just as quickly thanks to the third year student who decided to take all of the table space in the room for her non-letterpress work. I did start to wonder what I was paying for in this university when my access to every room other than those used for examination was strictly limited.

Having established my subject for the project I started out on my research by looking through internet articles and books in the library which address the idea of text message language or text-speak and its changing effect on the English language. Unfortunately I have been thus far unable to find work by artists which looks at the rising technological language. Keyword searches in the library can only take you so far so I may still yet find an artist to study and relate to. Teresa Monachino's book Words Fail Me was an interesting viewpoint of a learner of the English language. She addresses her qualms and confusions with the language and communicates them very simply using few colours and effective layout. I thought the way she communicated these situations with words could be helpful to my own visualisations. Reading her book made me understand how many illogical systems and flaws lie within the language already. Maybe it isn't so bad tht peepl r strtn 2 spk lk this. Usually it is extremely irritating to me when people spell things incorrectly unless it could be a typing error. However I may just be reciprocating the same feelings about spelling that people in the past have had - like my English teacher. After all language is only there to communicate. I suppose I care about correct spelling because I fear that if it changes I may have to re-learn certain words.

This is no doubt the case with many people today who argue against the development of text-speak. They fear the language will change too quickly - that they'll need to learn new words. They scorn at those who use text-speak because they think they're linguistically challenged or that they're rebellious to the oh-so-praised works of Shakespeare and Blake etc. These poets and writers no doubt had a huge grasp of the language in their days. Today however, we have mobile phones and the internet. Information is in vast quantities and we want this information in it's entirety and we want it now. Many anti-text-speakers fail to see that the new patterns in language usage are not the result of juvenile, linguistic wrecklessness but rather of necessity. It has been necessary for people to abbreviate their words in text messages due to the 160 character limit which is purely for the service provider's financial benefit. If the change in language is caused by this necessity then we are talking about a language of technology. Shakespeare himself was known to have several spelling variations of his name and even made up new words for the language due to the emotive subjects of his scripts. Today we are finding the need for change with technology. If a language does not change to accomodate new ideas (broadband)/objects (mobile phones)/actions (emailing and googling) then it fails as a tool of communication. Reading certain comments made by internet users on the subject of text-speak it was clear that some people have misunderstood language. 'The English language is something to be proud of' - this is what was written by one anti-text-speak user. I was confused by this comment. Writers and poets in the past have used the language creatively and elegantly. They have been playful with the words. The language itself has changed for hundreds of years. But the language isn't there to be elegant and fancy and rhythmical. It is simply for communcation.

I doubt most of the abbreviations in text-speak will survive as time goes on unless I am underestimating the amount of people who text using extreme abbreviation. It could be that shorter words like two/too/to may be substituted for '2'. The phonetic value of text-speak is enormous. This is what is causing numerals like 2, 4, 8 and 1 to be used as words. I haven't yet seen any other numerals being used as phonetic abbreviations but it is possible to use 3/5/6/7/9 on some occasions. Other abbreviations like 'b' for be/bee, 'u' for you/ewe/ew/oo and 'n' for and/en/no/in are the more basic text-speak phrases which are the first to be used by those adopting text-speak.

It seems to me that being able to link this change in the language with events of change from history may argue my point subtly but clearly enough. Subtle messsages are usually more desirable and effective than obvious ones. My intention is to convey the fact that a linguistically able person who appreciates the English language all the same is not against change in the language which is intentional. Not against text-speak. It may look uglier but it sounds exactly the same. Those who love Shakespeare for instance, probably do not see that it is the sound of Shakespeare that they love and not necessary how it looks written down. Text-speak is simply a different way of writing English, not speaking it.

Friday, 18 May 2007

14th May

This week began with a swift thwarting of my intentions for the diagnostic project - to illustrate some collective idea of what El Dorado could have been if ever it existed - on the basis that it was not personal to me. It was my understanding that designers are people who will take instructions from a client and apply their skills and knowledge to finding a solution to the project at hand which at most times will not be personal to them. Being told to seek out a new idea altogether was confusing especially for reasons that I may not be enthusiastic about the project. I tend not to jump about in joy when I am most enthusiastic and unfortunately people may mistake this for negativity. The prospect of my idea on El Dorado meant researching the Inca and Aztec civilizations and learning something about architecture - to which I would look forward to.

Instead I have had some thoughts of exploring the problems I find in the education systems GCSE and GCE, which I hold as personal opinions thus the work would be personal to me. My personal opinions are that these courses are mostly a waste of time. I found that I probably learnt more during the revision period (about 2/3 weeks) using the illustrated revision guides than I did in the two years of each course together. The point of having exams seems beyond me also. Not because they're exams - I'm very used to sitting through 2/3 hour exams. The point of these courses is to prepare people for employment. In employment you can lose your job at any time if your efforts are few. Why then do we not make use of the work students do throughout the years? Homeworks are done and marks rewarded all year round. These mean nothing because the exams mean everything. Why not have a more fair process? Why not use the marks given through the year and give each student their average mark at the end of the course. A mark based on two years work, not two hours exhaustion. I was sick and tired of watching, who were supposed to be the more intelligent, students frantically flick through the pages of their revision guides outside the exam hall with 5 minutes until their judgement. Two hours of concentrated memory work - this is all exams are. A test of short term memory. For a Religious Studies exam I remember being required to write whole passages from the Gospel of Luke. Today I couldn't tell you one line from the Gospel. Why not? I don't see it as my fault but that of the system. In truth I was ecstatic on results day to find I had two As and a B. But I feel cheated of my time growing up because I feel no passion or interest for most of what I studied because of the way we studied it.

How can it be that Degree students, at least on art courses, have such bad spelling? Because it's art is not the answer - a degree course is a degree course. I've heard various people asking for spellings of words like 'apply' and 'convey' and other simple words. It really can be infuriating to think that students who don't understand their own language enough to spell simple words are in the position to get better grades than those who do. From what I know it seems as if the nation is getting dumber and respect for degree qualifications is lowering. Rightly so for the latter - I'll bet those students who can't spell 'apply' will finish the course and graduate.

Nonetheless what do A's and B's and C's mean to anyone? Being in the top five of the country for the Art a-level exam percentages brought me nothing. I was even told to leave it out of my personal comment for application to university. Top business managers like Alan Sugar are no better. On his Apprentice tv show he continually claims that big qualifications mean nothing to him. I doubt he means it - everyone on the show to my knowledge has had qualifications. Maybe he is making a point though, that qualifications today do nothing for people. He seems to prove it by having his groups carry out seemingly simple tasks and fail miserably, in most cases, for lack of common sense. The degrees the contestants own seem only to teach them to sit in cars talking into phones and conjuring vendettas against their colleagues.

The presentation made this week by my group, on a more positive note, went very well. Having sat through two other presentations prior to our own I felt that we did well to each stand up and talk clearly with faith in what we had written. The powerpoint visuals had been arranged perfectly and Tim's illustration for the group turned out to be a great way of making the audience remember the subject. It was a good experience and an important one. To talk to a room of people with no interruptions and complete control gives you a feeling of confidence in itself. I am beginning to understand how to control nerves also. It seems to be a case of accepting the reality rather than trying to be too formal. I chose to read from a script but I had marked out points at which I would have to explain things in my own words on the day. This was good for me because it took the formal edge off what I was saying and good for the audience because people lose interest in a person with their head down.

I plan to go back on Tuesday to the tutorial with certain points about education today which I feel fairly strongly about and hopefully establish some sort of format of work to be done for it. Currently letterpress seems the most possible and suitable method of getting my ideas across but I shall have to make sure my intentions are worthy before going any further.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

7th May

This week presented me with a few realites considering the work load at the present point in the course. Having been given a new four week personal project on Tuesday it was clear that I had to get other work finished as quickly as possible in order to keep track of my progress. I was able to make improvements to my interactive postcard and add sound to the animation but both remain incomplete. This is partly due to the need for the help of technicians who aren't always available. The animation still needs to be placed in a movie containing all the videos of the other group members along with credits but this has still not happened as certain people have chosen to go home mid-week. Being from the north, thus unable to go home every weekend, it is difficult for me not to find it irritating that people will disappear when work needs to be done.

Regarding the new project, I have had an interest in the book 'Candide' or 'Optimism' by Voltaire ever since I read it in A-level French solely for the fact that it is so full of gripping and shocking material which could be visually reproduced very effectively. It seems a shame that a film hasn't yet been made that was based on it. As I have an interest in etching, letterpress and bookbinding I intend to formulate a small collection of illustrations, possibly incorporating visually effective text, which communicate some part of the book such as the two chapters in which Candide encounters El Dorado, a city of gold, emeralds and diamonds which constitute the mud of the ground. The presentation of the drawings is currently an open decision but may be in the form of a book, broadsheet or something closely related to the story in the book. The way the audience understands the book may be different than intended if they have not read Candide, thus I may have to alter the focal point of the drawings. Maybe it will become a book of drawings of the city of El Dorado alone, forgetting Candide's personal influence or existence. Having recently studied a book on perspective this may come in handy during the drawing stages. Hopefully the paper I use will carry a sense of delicacy or some feeling conveyed by the city of El Dorado. The role of the text is as yet uncertain and maybe will not be necessary for the book pages. However if there seems a logical or useful place for text in the collection of drawings it would be worthwhile to work in letterpress to gain further experience. The book itself was written in roughly 1760 which suggests the possibility of looking at architectural drawings from this time as well as researching the idea of El Dorado as more of a universally acknowledged place. If it was necessary to involve character/s in the drawings (to bring cohesion/a sense of narrative for example) I have had the illustrative technique of Honore Daumier in my mind as the source for inspiration here.

This week I also received my mark for the first mapping project of the year which was expectedly and deservedly low. Within a few hours the next day I managed to dramatically improve the piece of work and extend its visual and informative qualities to the standard I had originally intended. Having gained a very high standard of feedback throughout A-level and foundation and now to be receiving C grades I am starting to understand how new I still am to graphic communication. My ability to draw and understand what can be aesthetically succesful has carried me until now. At this point I am beginning to understand that taking fine art would definitely have meant higher grades but I stand by my original reasons for following graphic communication and intend on learning as I am here to do. As long as I produce top grades by my third year I will know that I have learned what I wanted to with this degree. Using my drawing skills more effectively and improving my experience and knowledge on typography will surely allow more succesful work to be produced.

Zak Kyes' work was interesting in terms of the way work can be produced. The Special Ten magazine cover and back cover work proved that there are sometimes worthwhile alternatives to the originally intended method. The way they had constructed miniature representations of what would have been much larger reminded me of my most successful work in foundation when I photographed a small box covered in illustrations and photographs. A lot of the work was as I had expected - or at least not hugely surprising. The poster with large type and a yellow background was definitely similar to something I had seen before. Nonetheless, if this is the style of much of graphic design today it is not something I wish to follow. Somewhere in design there seems to be a confusion between what is successfully pushing the boundaries of typography/layout etc and what is sacrificing reason/aesthetic value just to be a piece of design that is in keeping with the bold/starck look of lots of design today. In other words I found the content of the designs fairly interesting but I lacked interest in the actual designs themselves. The one part of Kyes work which interested me was his group's typeface, drawn using the alphabets of the languages of however many nationalities of people that were living in the part of London presented to us in the talk. The reason this interested me was that it was something which required research into things potentially completely foreign to the designer, it contained a sense of liberty to experiment and explore and it was intended to unify groups of people by giving them an icon of their lingual relationship with each other.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

30th April

During the last animation workshop I was enlightened of the outcome of my drawings. Being animated they proved to be surprising in ways I hadn't anticipated. It has definately made the process more clear to me now - one which is overly time consuming if you do not get around the problem of having to draw lots of imagery on every page/frame of the film. In general I think it can be a very useful process for certain circumstances but generally I doubt I will ever jump at the chance of creating an animation in this way again. Having glimpsed at one or two other pieces of work by fellow students it is interesting to see what you can do with animation - especially if you are able to think 3 dimensionaly.

On the following day during interaction I began working on my new idea for the postcard (animating a drawing done recently) - one decision which I was happy I made as I knew I'd otherwise not be able to show my full ability. In an attempt to make it easier for myself in animating the objects in the image I took one evenning to re-draw the whole image into separate components to allow for animations to occur without revealing empty space where the drawing would have been cut out. I felt this was a good use of time as it meant I could get straight into layout and animation the next day. Using shape tweening I have been able to render smooth animations into the postcard which stages the falling of a ship off the edge of the earth - obviously I have chosen to describe a fictional event. Flash has been difficult to understand so far but now that i understand the stage and layers palette I am becoming more confident in creating interactions and experimenting. Sometimes with the programme I find it is unable to complete certain tasks without lots more time consuming input from the user. In other words I have started to learn to prepare for making sacrifices and changes - otherwise I will remember to consider the software's limited capacity for compliance and try to make even the more complicated parts of my work as simple as possible.

During the hacs session on Friday we were able to establish the subject of our presentation with very little difficulty. I might have suggested, if it wasn't for the reluctance of my group, to meet again before the next Friday in order to begin planning our presentation but it appears we are instead going to collect information individually and regroup in a week. The only problem I think we have right now is time as working collectively for only 2 hours in a week for 3 weeks is not enough to prepare a convincing presentation.

Life drawing is still proving to be a challenge as far as figurative accuracy goes. As a result I have begun a book of anatomical study in order to improve my understanding of the body which so far has been fascinating and very worthwhile - learning something which will surely always be fact is very easy for me to sit down and get on with. After I have improved my anatomical understanding at least slightly, I intend to read on perspective as, from time to time, this subject also escapes me. With this sort of study I aim to gain more control over my sense of perspective and anatomical accuracy in order to explore the two subjects in more depth. Having viewed books such as Vitamin D it is apparent that perspective is a very powerful tool in drawing and is sometimes sacrificed for interesting mark-making.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

23rd April

This week I was probably the most involved with interaction and animation that I've ever been. Having produced my drawings for the animation during the holiday it was clear that to make a visually interesting work using the technique I would have to think hard about what materials to use - charcoal was quick but messy, pen was accurate but time consuming and acetate proved to be useful for backgrounds but brought up a new group of problems when it came to filming or wanting to change something in the animation. I found a very useful website as it made the interaction side of illustration very interesting for me. The artist's ideas and drawing ability were equally high standard and very inspiring. The work showed me that there needn't be vast amounts of drawing and interaction to have a visually and interactively entertaining work.

The group work in animation and interaction has been limited due to the fact that each of us have our own ideas and goals. In animation there is the need to work in groups to get a sort of consistency throughout the animations but this idea has been very loose until now as it probably would have hindered creativity and caused students to worry too much about how things will look or work in the end. The interpretation and analysis module has required that we work in groups and begin to discuss presentations. This has so far been succesful as we all seemed to meet eye to eye and realise that we had to be open to each other's ideas and interests. Thus we decided to split up for the week and explore our own chosen areas of interest (film/music/fashion/costume/feminism/politics etc) in order to find some focal point next week which involves as many of the most successful ideas possible. In other words we know we aren't all going to get to work on what we were individually interested in so we are working together to find a subject we are all happy with.

Life drawing this week again demonstrated somebody's lack of organisation as both models turned up at the same time causing confusion for themselves and Simon. Nonetheless I set off with the intention as outlined in my last post - to exploit my mark-making skills and I seemed to do just that. I have found myself now naturally making more decisions about my work before jumping in - such as composition and the marks that I make. I am continuing to be confident in working on the figure and have been happy to know that after 3 weeks of no life drawing I can come back and produce one of my best pieces yet. Having drawn two other pieces this week I have given in to the temptation of tracing them in Illustrator and exploring them with colour. I have definately had enough experience now to know if a certain piece of work would be worth scanning in and digitally improving. My saatchi web page is always a good reason and motivator for me to do more of my personal work or improve work I have already done.

The process of filming for animation has proven to be quite stubborn when it comes to using acetate because if the room is not naturally light I usually get reflections on my work which show up in the frames on computer and obviously cause a problem. I have generally found animation to be a very time consuming and mundane process unless your subject matter is one which won't lose its form or meaning if it is moved or changed a lot during the animation. My subjects have been mainly moving people which has caused a lot of boredom and headaches. For this reason I am swiftly changing my intentions for the interactive postcard and using an illustration I did last week instead which will involve no movement of any kind of creature but rather the waves of the sea and movement of a boat. I am beginning to realise the distinction between work that I like and work that I wish to do. I hope to continue to understand this by asking myself more questions about a brief before establishing ideas in the future to avoid wasting time by realising my ideas will not be succesful.

Friday, 30 March 2007

26th March

This week's interactive session gave me significant inspiration from the hoogerbrugge website which uses very clean cut and stylized illustrations in a humorous and thought-provoking way. I was immediately able to start bringing ideas together for my own interactive postcard. Before the session I had difficulty collecting ideas as it was unclear to me how the postcard might or could work. There are lots of examples of interactive images online but the most successful are those which use the interactivity in a meaningful way. For instance, on the website for Colors magazine I once viewed, the interaction of clicking with the mouse actually provoked a gunshot and a bullethole would appear in the images on screen which would thereby change as prompted by the gunshot. Thus not only is the viewer in control but s/he is actually practising what the site addresses - a broad outlook on global violence. This sort of interaction is more effective in my mind than simply being able to click and prompt the next movement on-screen.

This session also challenged my thinking about the animation to be drawn over Easter. I am now considering the actual form of the animation. If it is to be themed 'old and new' then maybe there will be a difference during the animation in the illustration of 'old' i.e. using black and white and maybe a crooked way of drawing, and of 'new' i.e. the use of colour and borrowing forms of more modern illustrative techniques. Again I am in full agreement with the words of the Tomato creatives in that 'it is not what it is but how it is done' and have decided to explore this idea in my animation.

Having acquired the book Vitamin D I was enlightened this week with a better sense of illustration today. During life drawing sessions I sought to manage the factors of my work that Simon claims are the strongest - my method of describing the forms and objects and spaces inside a composition. Generally when concerning illustration I always wish to challenge my weaknesses - which currently seem to be accuracy in figurative drawing. This is in no way an attempt to be an accurate illustrator but merely to have the ability and understanding of accurate drawing with which I could then deconstruct and use in a more interesting way. However if I explore and develop my techniques of drawing objects and everything around the figure then maybe they will make such a contrast with the figure that it will be stronger in its own right. Either way I am definately no longer afraid to tackle a pose from any viewpoint and continue to allow my eyes instead of my expectations to control the accuracy on paper.

I have realised that during most of this past 2/3 months I have not been drawing or collecting imagery enough and I must admit that I still find both to be tasks rather than hobbies as they should be. It is mostly due to the fact that the work we are given tends to take a lot of thinking and preparation and when I get time free it seems more practical to relax instead of draw. In fairness I have spent hours at a time each week drawing on illustrator and taking life drawings into Illustrator to be worked into, which was therefore a big part of my personal research and a unique addition to my work as an art student.

Plans for Easter include completing the drawings for my animation, extensive drawing and exploration of my abilities, looking into getting my personal Illustrator work sold - thus improving my cv and to take time to get my thoughts together and organise my work so that I am able to get it together quickly when assessment comes.

Monday, 26 March 2007

19th March

During the first short animation session on Monday I began to realise certain challenging aspects of the stop frame method such as the limit placed on the drawn content of each frame. However I left the studio feeling fairly lost as there was very little actual instruction or explanation about the process of stop frame animation - something of which I have had very little experience. Watching the short clips of animation shown to us at the time, it was clear that taking control of how quikcly or slowly my animation would work became a factor too.

I enjoyed the workshop on interactivity very much as it was interesting how quickly we could get material together to create an animated, interactive page. Having only 30 minutes to think of an idea and collect photos/drawings of it made me think faster than usual and forced me to think more directly. I feel I have a good confidence with working on Flash software now and that I have enough understanding of it to be able to process good ideas for the interactive postcard brief.

Another successful life-drawing class on Wednesday meant I learned more about mark-making and illustrative techniques which are on another level to merely representing the scene I see in front of me mark for mark. The Thursday session helped me grasp the factors raised when using more than one type of paper in the same drawing and how important it is, in this case, to use tone effectively and make more effort to communicate depth and space. With every session my ability to trust what i see and react to it improves. I intend now to start being more varied in the materials I use as charcoal has been the dominant medium so far. I am however irritated at the fact that Simon has had to doubt the future of the Wednesday class due to the lack of communication between him and the models and the art school. In his busy profession on top of his own personal time, I can understand how Simon would be quick to finish classes if people are not punctual or communicative. In any case I hope the classes continue as I find his teaching extremely useful and the sessions to be one of few places where I feel I am actually learning valuable techniques and methods.

I found the Friday lectures very enjoyable which was probably down to Alex Franklin's knack for making the essentially boring and confusing world of interpretation entertaining and straightforward - afterall it would be ironic and unnecessary to use scholarly language and insight to explain the words of Barthes for example or any in depth and wordy consideration of art, as this would only be a repetition of the same incomprendable writings. In recent lectures I have walked away feeling like I had very little grasp of what the subject was all about and only had a list of examples of works to show for it. The lectures by Alex were easy to digest and universally informative.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

12th March

During the trip to London I had difficulty pursuading the other members of my group to remain at the location (to be documented) for very long as it was a challenging place to gain inspiration/creative energy from. I didn't find it easy to think of a creative way to document the place other than with drawing or photographing the surroundings. With a more interesting area I think we would have done much more work. I did however gain, only in the space of two days, a sense of how the coram fields would be used generally from week to week as on both days there was the same large group of adolescents playing football.

I enjoyed visiting the Otl Aitcher exhibition which gave me a good sense of how the Munich Olympics would have been visually. I noticed the methodic use of stick men as supposedly prescribed by Aitcher to other designers and the interesting graph-like form of many of the designs as well as the consistent use of bold colours which were indeed eye-catching and added to the drama of the image used - usually an athlete in motion.

The childhood museum was also extremely interesting and worthwhile. At the very least the building itself was an impressively light, spacious and open space inside. I had offered attention to the Miffy exhibition but was much more impressed by the illustrations near the entrance which were drawn by a 13 year old. I was most interested by the Japanese shadow puppets which were on display as they related to my photographic work in the previous week. I was able to see other forms of puppets and hand held crafts which evoked theatrical meaning and even a hand-made design of a stage with several background facades which actually, when you peer through the middle, make a persuasive illusion of depth for the stage upon which characters were placed.

Attending the We Will Rock You theatre production was also an interesting display of the capabilities of today's stage design and effects which proved to be very impressive. From lighting to set design to illusive effects, today's stage designs are certainly entertaining at least for somebody who does not frequent the theatre such as myself.

During life-drawing I realised my increasing ability to believe what I see with my own two eyes rather than what I assume is in front of me. Trying out different methods of drawing the figure is also becoming rewarding as it is making me more confident in tackling the prospect of trying to capture a figure no matter what pose it is in or perspective I have of it. I am also in the middle of putting my life-drawing to more use in my own time by working on it digitally, thus continuing my self-taught experience with drawing on computers.

5th March

In this week we added the finishing touches to our videos and viewed them for the first time together in group films. I thought my group did well to get an idea established for the end credits of the video and carry out the work in a single morning before showing the film. Whilst watching the other videos I felt my own work had a certain unique feel to it due to its play on sound - the contrast of the loudness in feet hitting the ground and the silence of a moving balloon. The overall sound of my video was also in high contrast to the much favoured upbeat music tracks which most people applied to their own video. In some videos the use of music added to the atmosphere though in others I felt it was used as a way to avoid working with real sound relevant to the video. Something else I noticed was that maybe a handful of videos might have given way to their subject and forgotten to be inventive with the camera also.

In photography I can say I was able to work out a successful sequence of photographs which are both visually and purposefully interesting. Having taken photographs similar to the work of Christian Boltanski by using shadow puppets, I was able to select certain images to create a narrative sequence which comprises simply of differences in light and darkness. I learned more about the development of photographs using filters and working out exposures.

During life drawing I noticed my skills have improved since my very first session and it mostly seems down to Simon's profound understanding of composition and his advice to me over the past few weeks. There are basic necessities such as depth and tone which are to be achieved but the experimentation can come about in the mark-making process and the way the figure is represented.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

26th February week

I found the lecture by Petra Freeman to be an eye-opener in that it demonstrated the ease at which a designer can improve the look of their work through its presentation or form - be it animation, video or photography. It was interesting to hear about her technique of pushing paint around a surface in order to make an animation which is similar to the methods used by Piotr Dumala, a leading Polish animator whose work is distinctly dark and original. He favours working on a plaster surface which he can scratch into and constantly develop the images - albeit at the cost of not being able to keep the original drawings for each frame of the animation. Most of Petra Freeman's work seems to be the result of an enriching childhood which would make us wonder if her work could engulf or appeal to a wider spectrum of life/culture/experiences as I found it hard to relate to the ideas in the work.

The work carried out since last week concerning group videos has made good use of available time in order to establish a finished product with the 3 videos including end credits for the larger group of all 3 small groups. Again it has been a case of the necessity for preparation of intentions before diving into work that has shown its importance this week. Issues that were raised in the first week about lack of preparation, prior to filming, on the part of members of the group have made editing an overly time consuming task for others - which should not have been the case, had they filmed their scenes with shorter, more considered clips.

I am now beginning to understand a lot more about the importance of light in all aspects of art and design - especially photography, filming and drawing. Using the details explained to me by Terry Flaxton on light and film language I have been able to apply such concepts to the photography sequence brief and a recent life-drawing class in which I used light to determine objects rather than their outline. Most of what Terry Flaxton said has been extremely useful in my understanding of why certain conventions are in use in the film and photography world and I have gained an improved basic knowledge of white balancing which will be useful at least in documenting my work in the future. The film on monday was very different to most of what I have watched before, though some of the sordid imagery and dynamic sounds reminded me of certain films by Jan Svankmajer. I found myself realising, rather than sub-consciously accepting, the film language in certain parts of the video which was an interesting experience further adding to my understanding of the film world.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

19th February week

During Richard Higgs's lecture it was apparent that good/successful design does not have to be produced through fundamentally technological means. The differences between successful established designers and student designers is that the latter will be less able to quickly develop visual solutions to given briefs. Generally it is the way in which you design/represent an idea that just as, if not more, significant than what the idea may be. I have been wondering why the majority of visiting lecturers have admitted to an inability to spell as it seems strange for professionals who are paid for their understanding of life/culture/communication.

It was clear during group work that lots of preparation is necessary in order for the group to work efficiently, otherwise members of the group will find themselves losing interest in the subject. Personally I have found that it is more useful when working in a group for each member to write down their own ideas/intentions before coming together to rectify any differences or problems that may arise during the development of a solution. To give an example, the production of storyboards prior to filming can be extremely useful as it sets out the designer's intentions and thus leaves no group member without something to do. Without a clear storyboard filming can become a confusing and tedious task.

Working with video cameras, digital cameras and having had a small insight into SLR cameras I have come to understand more about photography as a general area of interest in which lighting and composition play a significant role. I found most interesting the idea of Rennaissance composition - the fact that a designer should position subjects according to each third of the frame in order to gain an image which can be most easily read by the viewer's eye. It was also useful to explore the full potential of my digital camera - taking high quality photographs and using Adobe Photoshop to very slightly improve colour and clarity.
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