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.
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