Thursday, 17 January 2008

Daytripper. Etching & Typography - December 07

The Daytripper project was a good one week brief as we were able to choose our own exhibition in which to work. I decided to go to Bristol and visit the '@ Bristol' museum with a few other students. Unfortunately the museum appeals to children as much as it does for adults so the constant drone of yelling school children wasn't so inviting. Nonetheless we got through the museum, taking photos of generally everything and getting a sense of the atmosphere. It was difficult to sit and draw on the day so I saved the drawing part of the brief for home and made sure I got enough photographs to work with. I didn't get the feeling there was anything, apart from the blindingly obvious, that was consistent throughout the museum. I was looking for things about the museum which could be used to communicate it - like shapes, words, colours etc. Thinking back, I do remember there was a lot of thick, dull yellow plastic surfaces. I managed to formulate a 'theme' out of my drawings in etching based on the circular forms of various objects which I had photographed. My six etchings came out very well and I was happy to have had them done in only 7 hours in the workshop over two weeks.

Before I visited etching, I had completed six drawings in the daytripper week which I thought communicated a science museum fairly well. Using graph paper and a biro I created six fairly well worked drawings which tried to emulate the sort of orthodox/academic drawings you find in science books. The biro was vaguely chosen because I also imagined the drawings of a doctor or surgeon. I may have crossed two paths with the drawings I made though as they are neither directly academic and fiercely accurate nor are they sketches or quick drafts.

The typography workshops with M Soderberg have thus far been a great help in looking at the functional side of typography and layout in a general way. The short briefs we have been handed each week offer a chance to explore what happens in different situations with text layout without feeling that we are under pressure to get something significant done for the friday coming. I have learned the value of hand-drawing letterforms in order to physically work with text. This has drastically lowered my appreciation for Macs when it comes to handling text and I will no doubt consider working primarily by hand in future when text is concerned. Mike definitely knows his subject and is always willing to talk about issues to do with the course or more specific work-related problems.

Film Project - December - January 10th

I chose to work on Rashomon for the film project and, in a bid to please tutors by not reaching a solution too quickly, decided to work in my sketch book for the first week and stick to researching and brainstorming. I established that there could either be four parts of the film to address (each account of the four involved characters) or one part - by choosing the account of one of the characters and presenting it in a way in which it is affected by the others. Rashomon is a film of the hearing on a murder which has taken place in the woods. We are given the accounts of the wife, husband, bandit and an unfortunate witness. The film is ended with the true, witness's account. As the film is largely based on different personalities telling slghtly different accounts of the same story I felt it necessary to work with typography and try to develop something which is ultimately consistent but changes at the same time. The puzzling nature of the film to audiences was something that struck me and was what I wanted to communicate at first.

I eventually found that I was trying to communicate something too large and that it may have been more useful to focus on the victim of the murder , whose story is, to me, the most powerful. Considering the bandit's twitching, erratic tendancies and the innocence and frailty of the wife it was a shame that I couldn't explore those traits typogrpaphically. The dead man's account, which was given through a medium, was loud and punchy. This simple sense of anger and betrayal could be quite simply translated into a typogrpahical style by using simple, bold cut text in white on a black background and cropped quite aggressively. The cropping worked in communicating the sense that even though his words were loud and fierce they were delivered with a hesitant, threatened nature. Having drawn out an alphabet of cropped capitals by hand it was starting to make sense. Seeing the alphabet then done digitally was also interesting. It's more accurate look however didn't quite communicate the emotions of the dead man as well as a scruffy, hand-made cropping. The process of applying characteristics to typefaces or lettering was very enjoyable as it questioned what made me think of 'innocence' or 'madness' or 'anger'. 'Anger' for instance would be similar to 'madness' in that both would very distinct and highly contrasted to the norm. 'Anger' may suggest scratching, aggressive lines whereas 'madness' may incur strange and random collaborations of straight lines, curves, digital and hand drawn, large and small.

Hidden Project - November

For the 'hidden' project I kept an open mind about what I might end up with in the end. After trying out various experiments with hand drawn texts, overlapping, deconstructing and so on, I began to think more about what it was I wanted to 'hide'. I eventually came to consider hiding the audience itself and so the first medium of working that came to mind was photography. With a camera you have already established the viewpoint for the audience to assume so it was only a matter of constructing a sense of being hidden. Hiding myself with a camera in my hands was the first, quite obvious, method in which I attempted to get imagery. The shots from behind doors, underneath objects or inside cupboards were half of the way there.

I wanted something more atmospheric or cinematic - with the intention of making the audience both wonder what was happening in the image and get a feeling of being in a comfortable, hidden position. I managed to obtain this edge to the photographs by coming up with the idea of rolling a sheet of black card into a cone shape and inserting the camera lens into the wider end. This gave the photographs a completely black surface punctured only by a modestly sized, roughly circular shape which uncovered the scenery in front of the camera. This had satisfactory results but after playing with the shutter speed, while moving the cone at the same time, I managed to develop much more interesting results. I found that it was best to allow a small amount of bright light to enter the cone from the left or right while moving it round as the makeshift viewfinder of the camera. I also found I had to focus the camera on the subject before I covered it with the cone to avoid producing a blurred and meaningless photograph.

This project was, I would say, successful in that I managed to develop a working method as a solution to the brief which could be done time and again in different locations and the outcome will always be unpredictable. The amount of light, shutter speed, focus, zoom, and how fast the cone viewfinder is moved, all have a big effect on the final image. What I may have lacked in the project was the ability to work from start to finish in 3 weeks as in reality I had already begun to create the final images early in the second week. I wouldn't say this is a bad thing as long as the solution is a successful one and in today's world of graphic design I'm sure many clients are anxious to be given solutions earlier rather than later. Having tried other ways of communicating 'hidden' in week 2, and after finding there to be no other way in which to push my photographic method further, I submitted a series of photographs I found to be among the more interesting.
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