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.
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