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.
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