Seminar 3 – Poster

In our last seminar we showed our final posters that we had created over the past week. We made some progress over the week and people in the group had started to develop the idea of the hands further. Although we were only obliged to create one poster it seemed more valuable for us to all try and have a go at a design instead of sitting around watching over each other’s shoulders whilst one of us designed a poster, this way we would be able to reflect on how each of the designs did or didn’t work and we could try different techniques. I feel that this was really interesting to see the different designs of the group based around an idea we had originally developed together. It also meant that there was both an element of group collaboration and individual development and if we have to choose one poster we can choose the one that worked most effectively.

Tom worked on the original idea of having land and water (which represents Dorset) in some hands. Along with the tag line “Keep Dorset in your Hands”, the idea suggests that the UK is turning Dorset into a place that doesn’t suit what the people of Dorset want and if they don’t act now the changes will be irreversible. The twitter tag Don’t Drop Dorset is also a play on words and suggests that it is the people who are “supporting”i.e. keeping hold of Dorset. It also allows people to express their opinions using the hashtag #DontDropDorset, which is catchy (because of the alliteration) and also allows them to identify with and contribute to the political process.

tom postertom poster wall

Tom’s Poster

Becky and Claudia discussed another idea of having a hand with the palm spread out on a poster and placing it on the door so that when somebody goes to push the door they have an automatic reaction with the poster. This is an interesting idea because instead of the audience being observers they have a part to play in the process in order for the poster to work. If people put their hands in the same place as the hand on the poster it will have achieved its aim. But if they do not put their hand on the poster then the idea will not get the response that was intended.

Claudia’s idea focused on a crack in the glass with dotted lines forming the shape of a hand around the hole. The idea was a variation of the high five idea and relied on the audience to place their hand inside the lines to stop the water spilling out. The idea is clever in that it suggests that the audience have a role to play in not letting Dorset ‘drain away’ which suggests that the UK is draining Dorset. The idea may be a bit too overcomplicated for an audience to understand in a short period of time but I also think that the idea (like becky’s) would work really well on the people who did interact with the poster. I think the main problem tat both Becky and Claudia ad with this idea was that people were reluctant to place their hand on the poster when opening the door as the didn’t want to knock it down and also because the glass panels in the door were in the way which meant that the poster couldn’t be placed in the suitable position that people would place their hands to open the door.

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Claudia’s Poster

With Becky’s poster it didn’t totally rely on someone placing the hand on the poster. I think the tag line “High Five for Dorset” could be effective because it suggests a mutual agreement (i.e. when two people high five they usually have some sort of accord). So in some ways the poster is saying, “let’s work together to make Dorset independent”. However it was quite hard to make out the words at a quick glance as they were placed vertically on the page and overlapped with the image of the hands. I think if the hand had been clearer and possibly if “High Five for Dorset” was the main tag line it may have worked better, but it was a really good idea and also like Tom’s poster the use of the colours of the Dorset flag separates Dorset from the United Kingdom and appeals to people who identify with Dorest.

becky poster on doorbecky poster

Becky’s Poster

What I tried to achieve with my poster was to give it a satirical vibe. After looking at the ideas of Artists such as Paul Kuczinski and Banksy and the UKIP campaign poster, which all use satire, I felt that it was a good technique for conveying political ideas. Because we were working around the themes of water and hands I came up with the idea of using a tap. In my design water is coming out of the tap and overflowing out of some hands. In order for me to get the message across that the tap represents Britain I decided to make it the colours of the British flag. My hope was that this would help people associate the tap with Britain and then after reading the tag line “It’s in your Hands” they would have a clear idea of the intended meaning of the poster.

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My Poster

I used the tag line “Don’t Let Dorset Slip Through your Hands” because I felt that it applied to the meaning of the images in the poster more than “Its in your hands” as the water is falling through the hands. But I also think it’s in your hands, or it’s in our hands, would have worked, but as the water is ‘slipping’ through the gap of the hands I felt that it was cleverer wordplay.

I feel that my idea was quite ambiguous and could mean several things. I think that the water flowing over the hands could represent waste, lack of green energy (i.e. contribution to global warming), immigration, or debt. The tap is supposed to represent the British Government. So the poster is saying (or at least trying to say) that Dorset is carrying the weight of Britain and it is becoming a burden, and Dorset can’t contain the burden which being connected to Britain causes any longer.

After talking to the rest of the group about the idea and stopping some people to ask them what they thought of the poster some of the answers I got were preferred responses and some negotiated responses. When I asked people what they thought the hands represented one person said waste, which I think is the most obvious conclusion to come to because leaving the taps on is associated with waste. Another person said “Industrialism” which wasn’t the response I intended but was still interesting how they came to that conclusion and in a way relates to the idea and shows that the poster is ambiguous in its intention.

When I asked people what they thought the tap represented some of them answered nationalism and patriotism. This was not necessarily what I intended it to be about unless you are talking about patriotism for Dorset. I think the reason behind this is that using a British flag on a political poster automatically makes people think of nationalism because of parties such as UKIP and BNP, so the symbolism in political posters is for national pride, which in a way is the opposite of what my poster is about, but I also think this is because the idea is hypothetical. I think that if the situation of Dorset trying to be Independent was actually real the poster would be understood easier as instead of people trying to work out what the poster is about they would have previous knowledge that Dorset wants to be independent through current affairs so they would make a quicker connection to the idea.

This exercise of publicly displaying our posters was really useful for me because it made me understand how important it is to know the space that you’re going to be using. For example I wanted to put my poster up on the pillar next to the coffee counter but the woman working there wasn’t happy with this so I decided to put the poster in a less obvious place which made it less noticeable. The poster also made me understand the importance of colour as I found that even in the place I had originally intended to place the poster, the background colour of the poster was too similar to the colour behind it, this didn’t make the poster stand out very well to passers by which meant that they only really noticed the poster if I stopped them to ask questions which is not very good if you’re wanting people to notice something at a glance.

In retrospect the process of designing a poster and seeing how the audience reacted to it was extremely useful for my iterative process as it made me realise how important it is to take the surroundings in to consideration. Also it made me more considerate of responses of the audience and that I should not only focus on the space around but also their perception of connotation, semiotics and culture.

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Conveying Meaning in Design

For my design iterations poster project I looked into art and design that conveyed meanings through analogies. I found a number of different designs in which the artists/designers use a number of different methods. I feel that for my iterative process it is useful to discuss some concepts that I think these designs use.

I recently discovered an artist named Pawal Kuczynski whose works are particularly interesting because they convey current political or societal discourse and philosophical ideas through art in a way that makes the audience think about the idea through metaphor or semiotics.

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The drawing above depicts a man in front of a wall. There is a ladder to get over the wall in which some of the steps have been used to make a fire. This suggests that instead of climbing over the ladder to the other side the man is using up the resources he has to temporarily keep himself warm, where as he could use the ladder to climb over the wall. This is quite ambiguous as you don’t actually know what is over the wall (this could represent taking a chance) though it is brighter on the other side of the wall where as he is in darkness which suggests that whatever is on the other side of the wall is better than the side he is currently on (remaining in the dark).

The “other side of the wall” could represent enlightenment (the light) or knowledge or simply a better world to live in. The wall is also a well known symbol for confinement and isolation which has been used in art such as Pink Floyd’s The Wall (as I discussed previously in a blog post from the first year). The ladder could represent resources being wasted or a decision or a chance to overcome challenges (societal or personal). To me it suggests that the man is wasting the chance he has been given to get past obstacles that are in the way which are within his power to overcome; but out of ignorance or greed he has opted for the less rational decision. The man could either be personification of government or society or could even represent the self.

Because of the ambiguity there are a number of different ways that the text can be depicted. This can sometimes be useful because it means that people will apply the text to something which is personal to them and give it their own meaning, it might not be the same meaning as the designer had intended but it could mean that more people can relate to the design because they interpret it in their own way which applies to their individuality. To me this is more artistic (subjective) because it allows the audience to make up their own decision as to what the meaning is, as opposed to functional (objective) design which is supposed to only have one intended outcome, and any other interpretations are considered a “negative response”. Both are useful in different ways.

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Not all of Kuczynski’s designs are as ambiguous as the first one described. For example this one (above) has a clearer meaning. The fishing wire and hook are a metaphor for addiction (“getting hooked”). The text suggests that the person is getting reeled in to the “bottom of the bottle” – an expression which is used for alcoholism when somebody is at a low point of their addiction (“You can’t find happiness at the bottom of a bottle”). I think that this design doesn’t necessarily have to apply to just alcohol addiction as it personally made me think about all addiction but when compared to the other drawing the meaning is much clearer.

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Here is another work by Kuczynski which is less ambiguous and more direct. It depicts the United States Capitol building and Washington Monument – two very famous American buildings. The Washington Monument is the nose of Pinocchio, a fictional character most famously known from the Disney Film Pinocchio. This suggest that “America was built on a lie” – a radical, anarchistic view on the history of America. The use of the Washington Capital building is symbolism for the Government (and I would argue capitalism). The “Pinocchio” puppet suggests that the lie has been buried and forgotten.

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This is another work by Kuczynski which shows a man looking out at the world from a prison through the Facebook logo. This suggests that Social Media has entrapped society and they’re now looking out at the world through social media instead of experiencing it in person. This deals with modern discourse on new media and how we react with media, and what affect it has on society. The Facebook logo is a periscope and contains both symbolism and metaphor. It can also be related to spying, as periscopes are used on submarines to see without being seen. The door suggests that we have a choice to go out into the world if we want but we’d rather stay in our ‘prisons’ and view the world from afar. The meanings are quite ambiguous but also the use of the Facebook logo makes it clear that the artist is describing social media and the prison applies negative connotation to the concept of social media.

Another artist’s work that I have looked at is Banksy’s. Banksy is a street artist whose art is quite similar to that of Kuczynski. The main difference between the two is that Banksy relies on physical space more (or at least in a different way). Where as Kuczynski’s canvas is paper (or whatever he uses to draw his art on), Banksy’s canvas is the landscape itself. This relates to the Independent Dorset project because when we showcase the posters in Weymouth house we have to take into consideration the space around us. Banksy is also a good example for the posters because it could be argued that he uses unconventional methods when creating his design/art.

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This image of a boy manufacturing British flags is a good example of this because it doesn’t just use stencils and spray paint to convey the message but also uses objects (in this case the flags) as part of the design. This is interesting because it makes the artwork come to life as it’s no longer just a 2d image and instead of recreating the object the actual object is being used. This is effective because if the flags were also spray painted they wouldn’t have as much meaning. Because the audience might associate flags with patriotism and flags are often hung up on walls during certain events (such as Royal anniversaries etc) the audience can associate this with actual events which they have experienced so if the flags were spray painted it would be harder to make that connection. The downside to this however is it can lose its meaning easily, as if someone were to tear the flags down then the meaning would be lost, so it is more temporary (except when considering that the use of the internet brings more permanence).

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An example of using both semiotics and analogies in political campaigns is shown in this UKIP poster. The poster shows a British flag being burnt with the EU flag behind it, suggesting that the EU is destroying Britain, or “tearing a hole through” Britain. In this example the flags are used as the symbols. This allows the audience to associate the symbols with Britain and the EU quickly because they are ubiquitous (this is similar to the use of the flag in the Banksy example except it is being used here in a positive way as opposed to the Banksy example which creates negative connotation). The fire and the hole in the flag is a metaphor for destruction. Some text is added just to confirm what the imagery suggests and to provide some information once the images have grabbed the attention of the audience.

I think these designs are related to the poster project we are currently doing because they use semiotics to put images into people heads, this is important because in order for the posters to be efficient in their intent they need to be able to communicate ideas quickly, using semiotics and analogies is a better method for this than words because it requires less effort in a shorter timescale to get the intended message across to the audience. Using text is useful to get more information across but images capture attention quicker and are more affective at making connections between ideas. They are related to media because they communicate ideas through images.

References

Kuczynski, P., Website of Pawel Kuczynski. Available from: http://www.pawelkuczynski.com/.  [Accessed 24 October 2014].

Banksy, Banksy’s website. Available from: http://banksy.co.uk/menu.asp [Accessed 24 October 2014].

Design Iterations Seminar #2

For our 2nd seminar the group has been asked to come up with a basic sketch of our ideas. From the work we have previously done we have come up with an idea of some hands holding a beach or location in Dorset with the tag line “It’s in your hands”, or something similar to that. We started to write down a list of the tag lines which we thought would be appropriate for that imagery and we came up with a number of slogans for the campaign poster. This is a list of the ideas for a slogan that I wrote down.

  • It’s still in your/our hands – lets keeps it that way.
  • Go back to your roots.
  • Be Independent, Be Dorset

The justification behind the hands idea is that it has a deeper underlying meaning, which we feel could be quite powerful if presented in the right way. Claudia originally came up with the idea and the rest of the group agreed that it was a possible approach we could take. After looking at reasons why Dorset hypothetically might want to become an independent county (you can see some of the reasons in the processing mind map which I created) we decided that the main routes to take would be the preservation of agricultural traditions and of natural landscapes. Dorset is quite known for its seaside, cliffs, wooded locations, rural landscapes and ‘areas of outstanding beauty’ which are designated areas across the UK that the Government has deemed worthy of preservation.

keepdorset              beckydorset
This is the sketch that Tom drew              This is the sketch that Becky drew.

Photo on 03-11-2014 at 00.19

Here is a very draft idea of the idea I had for the poster.

When we presented the idea to the rest of the group we got some good feedback. Some of the group liked the wordplay and the intended meaning that we hoped to put across to the audience. There was some discussion over what would be a better tag line to have as we had chosen different taglines for each sketch. Some preferred the “Don’t Drop Dorset” tag line where as others preffered “Keep Dorset in our Hands”. Although personally I’m a sucker for alliteration I felt that the “Don’t Drop Dorset” didn’t make it clear what the campaigns intentions were. I felt that the “slip through fingers” or “it’s in our hands” worked  better as a metaphor for saying “The Dorset we know and love is disappearing but it’s not too late to go change it”. A good point was also pointed out that “don’t drop” and “slip through” have slightly more negative connotations than “it’s in our hands” which suggests that “it’s up to us to do something and we can do it if we work together”.

What I found interesting is that we all came up with different interpretations for one suggestion of ‘hands holding Dorset’. The particular thing that was different in all our interpretations was the positioning of the hands. Tom pictured the hands from a first person perspective, looking down. I pictured the hands as if someone was standing opposite to me holding them towards me and Becky pictured the hands similar to Tom but to me it looked more as if the hands were raised up in the air (although this could just be my interpretation).

This made me think of the different ways in which semiotics can affect the audience. Although they are essentially the same symbols in different positioning, they have different meanings. For example, a raised fist is symbolic of power, rising up, courage, rage or hostility. Where as a flat palm from a first person perspective is more symbolic of being human, which may be something to do with ‘looking down at your hands’. Held out, stretched hands are symbolic of begging, or the poor. Thumbs up is a sign of good. Middle finger up is a sign of rudeness. A flat palm in a high five gesture suggests agreement. Shaking hands is symbolic of friendship, peace, respect etc. This shows the power of gesture and body language and also how we associate certain concepts with our own self and others.

It also shows that there can be many different meanings portrayed by a different formation of the same thing. I think that one of the reasons why there are so many variations of meaning for the hands could be because the hands are very personal and are a very human characteristic (opposable thumbs). Here are some examples I have looked at where hands have been used in other variations.

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The band Rage Against the Machine use a raised fist which reflects their anti-establishment lyrics and their powerful anarchistic style of music.

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The raised fist is also a famous communist symbol and represents the power of unity (a common theme of socialism).

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The pointing finger in this famous World War I poster is said to have been created because wherever one stood in a room it always seemed that the hand was pointing at them. This is known as ‘differential rotation effect’. It was so successful in it’s goal that the image of the pointing hand has been used many times over.

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The hand was used by America in World War II because it had been proven so effective. The word ‘you’ is the important word. The poster tries to create guilt in individuals by singling them out and encouraging them to do more for the war effort.

Facebook-Like-Button

The Facebook ‘like’ button uses a thumbs up symbol which suggests that if the user enjoys or agrees with the content they’re giving it a thumbs up in agreement.

glasses_john_lennon_v_sign_men_1024x1024_wallpaperhi.com

John Lennon was famous for promoting peace, the ‘peace’ sign was adopted by hippie culture in the late 60s. During and after the Second World War the two fingers meant ‘V for Victory’, the same signs can change meaning over time (the swastika for example) or have different meanings for different cultures.

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Where as the same gesture with the hand turned around the other way has a totally different meaning altogether. As this picture suggests however, sometimes the facial expressions are just as important as the hand gestures.

Design Iterations Seminar #1

Today we were assigned our first project. We were put into groups and the task is to design a poster for an Independent Dorset political campaign. The project is entirely fictional and it is an interesting concept. My group consists of Becky, Tom and Claudia. In our first seminar we were asked to begin to formulate an idea of what we think would be a good strategy for promoting the idea of an independent Dorset. We were asked to consider the audience and how we could get a good message across using images such as in the poster for Scotland’s independence referendum. In two weeks we will be showcasing the final designs in the foyer of Weymouth house. In the “Scotland Be Brave” campaign poster it was pointed out that there is a lot of symbolism of Scottish culture. Firstly, the woman is dressed in traditional Scottish clothes and is holding a traditional Scottish musical instrument. Also the woman has red hair. This suggests that the poster is aimed at people who are hereditarily Scottish or respect Scottish traditions, as red hair is a stereotypical feature of a Scottish person. This makes the target audience for the poster people who can relate to ‘being Scottish’, probably patriotic people who value their countries traditions and who are more likely to vote for an independent Scotland. url-1 However, the fact that the person in the picture is a woman makes the poster suggest that Scotland is a nation that is moving forward as historically the kilt and sporran was typically worn by males. This suggests that although Scotland doesn’t want to forget its heritage they are still progressing and value equal rights and ultimately those who vote for an independent Scotland are voting for progress. The ‘brave’ part of the text also signifies patriotism and reflects the emotions in the film Braveheart, where the main character Mel Gibson depicts Scottish hero William Wallace (the leader of Scotland in the war of independence) who stands up to a powerful enemy (England) and doesn’t back down and doesn’t let go of his values even when he faces death. Braveheart is arguably the most famous film ever made about Scotland. It also relates to Scotland being independent. groundskeeper-willie1 A kilt and sporran and red hair are all typical traits of a traditional Scottish person. The stereotype is even known as far as America, as is shown by the character Groundskeeper Willie in The Simpsons. braveheart-freedom Some of the themes Braveheart explores are freedom, honour, identity and bravery. In the seminar we started to come up with some ideas for our poster. For next week we need to have a rough sketch of our final idea. We wrote down a list of things that relate to Dorset and independence and I have put these into a mind map using processing. Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 01.26.07

References

Braveheart, 1995. Film. Mel Gibson. USA: Icon Entertainment International.

The Simpsons, 1989. 20th Century Fox Television.