A Retrospective Look at my Iterative Process

In a previous post on the poster project that we did at the beginning of this unit I discussed conveying meaning in design. I also wrote about semiotics and the significance of the image of the hand which we used in our posters. I think this relates to my final project for this unit because the buildings are the ‘signs’ which are conveying the meaning of our society, the image of a skyscraper can hold many signs, such as advanced technology, innovation, engineering, architecture but also of humans. Because skyscrapers are a product of humans we can relate and identify with them because they reflect the habitat that we live in and are created by our society.

Because skyscrapers are considered amazing structures of human ingenuity (well I consider them that) I felt like using the image of mountains is sort of the opposite of skyscrapers because they are powerful natural structures and symbolise the power of nature, and are also very large structurally. So the two compliment one another but also convey different meanings, one being the creations of people and the other the creations of nature.

Like how we used the image of the hand in the posters to represent the ability to affect change being “in our hands”, this project uses the image of buildings to represent our impact on the earth and how large societies can affect the landscape i.e. the more individuals there are in a society the more advanced a society becomes. I find it similar to how when the space station passes the Earth at night you can see the lights from all the cities, which is a great way to visually see the impact of people.

What I like about the project as I discussed earlier is that the audience doesn’t have to actually do anything to interact with the project. Just them being there is the interaction so it’s more of a conceptual artwork than something which people can have fun interacting with, I think this reflects my own taste in design and art as I’m not really someone who really enjoys having to ‘perform’ as part of the audience (although I find those sort of interactive installations impressive), I prefer interacting in a way which makes me think about something in a way that I haven’t previously. And this is what I have attempted to do with this project.

The problem with this however is I’m not sure if the audience would actually know that they are interacting and if their movement is what determines the height of the buildings, so in a way it’s quite hard to understand the concepts I am trying to put across. I think that if there was an explanation of what the idea is supposed to convey then it would be more understandable, or if I had put an image of the camera in the corner people might see that and be able to make the association. However this sort of defeats the object of the project, as what I wanted to do was have people to formulate a meaning in a short period of time, as they’re walking past, such as Banksy’s works, which I discussed in this post. However I think that the audience could understand the ideas my project is trying to convey just maybe not as efficiently as I would have liked.

Moving Forward

What I like abut the project is that it can be added to more which means that I could carry on the iterative process. In a previous post I discussed how I would like to add houses and maybe cars and do an number of different things to make it more lively, which would better represent a city and maybe make the idea more understandable. I didn’t get around to achieving everything I wanted to do mostly due to my lack of understanding of programming in general, but I think it would benefit me to add more to this project because it will give me some tasks to attempt in processing and I want to carry on practising so I get better at programming, because it’s a lot of fun and very satisfying when problems are resolved.

This project also made me realise the importance of discussing my ideas with other people who are more experienced with programming and it’s something which I like about the computing community in that people are very enthusiastic and passionate about coding and programming. I find this is a very important thing for me to acknowledge because sometimes I am reluctant to ask for help from others when I am stuck because I feel that it’s either cheating or I want to work out problems by myself (because I generally enjoy solving problems and the satisfaction that comes from working them out by myself), but sometimes people’s knowledge of the programming language is helpful because they can point you in the right direction and also suggest more efficient ways to structure the code (such as using object orientated programming).

I would also like to learn maths in my spare time as I think this is the area in programming that I am having trouble in as understanding the mathematical side of it is something that doesn’t come naturally to me, so I feel if I had a better understanding of math in general I would have a better understanding of programming languages in general and it would improve my coding and ability to solve problems.

I find that this project has also made me understand my style a bit more and the type of art and design which I like and how that is reflected in my designs. This project has made me think about the things I want to achieve personally as a designer and an artist not just in this project but in future projects and some good ideas have formulated which I wish to pursue, such as creating a backdrop in processing for my band and projecting it behind us when we play live, using the sound of the drums etc to affect what happens on the screen.

This project has also helped me to understand that sometimes when if I am creating a design for other people (or working towards a brief) I have to negotiate with what others want and not focus as much on what I actually want to do. For example, early on in this project I had a totally different idea and I wanted to make it fit in with the brief when there wasn’t really a way to make it fit to the brief, but I found it hard to not pursue that original idea because I had become attached to it and liked it a lot, but in order to relate to what the brief required a new idea spawned out of the original idea which was totally different, but I wouldn’t have ended up with this project if I hadn’t have thought about the idea which didn’t work originally, and this shows how important the iterative process is and also how beneficial it is to come up with multiple ideas instead of just sticking with the first idea, even it’s a good idea.

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Why Does My Idea Relate To Media?

I would quickly like to address a question that I have been asking myself about my project and that is “How does my project relate to media”. The reason I am asking this is because the brief states that the idea should be “intended to elucidate/explain some idea or concept you perceive as key to our 21st century media experience”. This made me think about the question in depth and I came to the conclusion that my idea is primarily focused on the idea of social networks (not constrained to digital media http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network), communication, collaboration, collective identity, space, evolution, growth and in a lesser sense industrialism and capitalism.

My idea relates to social networks between people because the more people who are occupying the space results in more happening on the screen. If there is nobody occupying the space then nothing happens, where as if there are a lot of people occupying the space then a lot is happening. This is supposed to reflect our networks in society which we need to communicate with one another to perform collaborative efforts such as build skyscrapers, houses, machines which results in the formation of cities.

The reason why this is relevant to media is because to collaborate and form societies we must be able to communicate with one another; all communication is media, and the way in which we communicate has a massive impact on the way people work together to form a society. Also communicating ideas to one another is also media, any way in which we communicate ideas, whether it is through art of sharing philosophical thoughts or ideas is media. So really it is because of a shared communication back and forth between two entities which is the foundation of building a complex society.

This is relevant to the 21st century media experience because as a society we are arriving at those difficult questions such as “are we producing too much waste?” “are we destroying our eco system” or “do we have enough resources to sustain the population of the world?” – networks and media are important for us to solve the problems we face in the 21st century, as we need to be able to communicate with one another to overcome problems we may be facing.

The idea also reflects collective identity because we can all identify with being humans of planet earth, and cities are the product of the humans of planet earth, so we can relate to them in the same way that you can relate ants to an ants nest, this is important for 21st century media because it focuses on our similarities (ways which we can associate with one another collectively) and not our differences.

This is what my idea is trying to achieve, and what comes to my mind when I think what this project reflects. But whether the audience will understand what my idea is trying to achieve is another thing altogether.

The processes and iteration of my idea.

My Original Idea

My original idea was to replicate the seasons in processing. I wanted to create a sun which replicated the cycle of the seasons so that on the shortest day of the year the sun reached the lowest point on the screen and vice versa. I also wanted to create a tree which at autumn time lost its leaves and then in spring the leaves grew back, leaving the tree bare in winter and full of leaves during summer. I also had the idea to make weather patterns such as have clouds and rain (snow in winter).

I really like this idea and I think it could be great as a sort of calendar, maybe even as some sort of desktop background (though I don’t know how that would work in terms of programming). I think that I liked this idea so much that it was quite hard to let it go and come up with other ideas for the project, but it is something that I generally want to pursue at another time, as a personal project, because I like it that much. However, after discussing this idea in one of the seminars with Anna it was brought to my attention that there was no form of interactivity with the audience and that the idea didn’t work towards the brief.

Because I really wanted to pursue this idea for a while I tried to figure out how I could tweak it so that it was interactive. I came up with an idea that the sun could move faster when there were more people in the area, the way this would have worked was that depending on the amount of pixels that were changing in colour or brightness etc the velocity of the sun would increase. I also thought that the day could change from day to night so that the ‘sky’ would become brighter when the ‘sun’ was closer to the centre of the canvas. This was supposed to represent peoples busy lifestyles and the fact that we tend to miss out on things in life (or the day seems to go quicker) when we are busy. Though in retrospect I think that I was clutching at straws with this idea, as I had come up with an idea that I liked first and not put as much thought into the meaning that it would reflect.

However, this process was useful because it made me think of other ways in which the original idea could work, as it is the theme of having different effects depending on how many people there are in the space that was a theme I wanted to pursue and was at the time more important than the content (the content could be anything, for example the more people there are the more rectangles appear on a screen). I thought of the idea of having a time-lapse of a city and the city gets faster and busier (i.e. more traffic etc) depending on the amount of pixels changing on the camera. I didn’t pursue this idea however as I didn’t have a time lapse of a city available to me. This idea was the gap between my original idea and my final idea and reflects my iterative process.

My Final Idea

My final idea is to have a number of buildings appear on the screen depending on the number of pixels which are changing on the camera. What I would also like to do is have houses appear below the building also, depending on the amount of pixels that are changing. This is supposed to represent industrialism and growth of population (the more people there are the more natural land we need to convert to space for society to function).

My intention is to invoke a reaction from the audience but not to put a predetermined idea into their heads – i.e. I’m not trying to promote the idea that overpopulation is a problem but instead trying to get a person to think about the idea of overpopulation or the idea of manmade environments expanding in order to respond to a demand of more functional space. I also want them to consider the change of natural environments over time and our impact on the earth’s ecosystem but not necessarily in a negative or positive way because although personally I think that being in a city (I like the expression ‘concrete jungle’) could possibly make people less connected to nature, or think less about our impact on the natural eco system (it certainly has done for me in the past) the idea also brings up questions to me such as does a city hold any beauty? When I was in London recently I saw a view of the city from Alexandria Palace and it was a very aesthetically pleasing experience, so there can be a certain beauty in manmade environments also.

My idea also reflects the idea of collectiveness, the more people in a given space makes more buildings appear, which reflects that cities are made by human collaboration. You wouldn’t have such landscapes if you didn’t have a collaboration of individuals, therefore it explores the idea of society and individuals with diverse cultures and ethnicity coming together to achieve a mutual goal. Another concept I think my idea explores is the convolution of media and (in a lesser sense) technological determinism. The idea that as our society grows technologically, cultures become more globalised, news and information gets more convoluted because there are more media, more clashes of ideology and a vaster network to communicate within.

I doubt that the audience will understand all of this from interacting with the project but I think if they understood any of the concepts I’m trying to portray at all then it would be a success. I also feel like this project would work better in a busier place such as a train station or airport, or somewhere where people pass by frequently more than once a day, because if they were passing by at a peak time they would see a totally different thing than if they were coming home from work late at night, for example where as in a place such as Weymouth house there will never be that many people so it doesn’t truly reflect the significance of human’s impact on the earth.

There are still some things which I have to figure out technically such as how the camera is going to differentiate between the background and somebody passing through, but I think that I am capable of achieving this. Also I think it is quite important where the camera is placed but also where the screen is placed, and also whether people will actually know that they are interacting at all, because they might not understand that there are more buildings because there are more people in the area.

Something which I like about this however is it makes people interact without them having to perform a task which is outside of something they do in their day to day lives, meaning that instead of someone having to flail there arms about or make noise which they wouldn’t generally do, all they have to do is walk by the camera and hopefully notice the images change as they walk by. A good example of someone else’s work which reflects this idea is Golan Levin’s “Double-Taker” a robotic ‘eye’ which tracks people as they move around naturally in their environment. I find personally that I prefer this form of interaction because firstly it means that no instructions are required to interact, something which I found confusing with some installations in the Science museum where I thought to myself “what am I supposed to do”, secondly I also feel that depending on what environment I’m in it sometimes makes me uncomfortable to do things that are outside of how I act naturally around others because I know that other people are observing what I’m doing and I might look stupid (especially if I don’t know how I’m supposed to be interacting and I’m doing it wrong). I think in places such as a museum or an art exhibition this isn’t a problem as I know that there are things there which the artist intends for me to interact with, but in a location such as Weymouth house I would have no predetermined expectation that I would be going somewhere to stand around interacting with something, so I’m not prepared for it and it comes as a surprise which means that I’m not in that mindset to perform tasks which are outside of my comfort zone, but of course that’s just how I feel about it.

References

Levin, G., 2010. Double-Taker (Snout), Interactive Robot. Vimeo, Available from: http://vimeo.com/3793505 [Accessed 8 January 2015].

Science Museum Visit

Recently we went on a field trip to the Science Museum in London. There were a lot of interactive installations and the idea was for us to find some examples and get some ideas for our own projects.

There was a lot to explore and I found the experience very interesting. The things I found most interesting were the things that I interacted with by just walking around (not having to push any buttons or make noises etc).

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This installation reflected peoples images, composed of smaller shapes when they walked closer to the screen (you can’t see it from the image because I am too far way for my shape to be picked up), I don’t really know how this works but I guess it uses a camera or a sensor to find peoples shapes and then projects them onto the white space, I thought it was very clever and I liked it because it was easy to interact with and quite fun. Unfortunately I didn’t get a video of me interacting with it.

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This installation asked the audience a question and then afterwards a yes or no appeared on both sides. I didn’t quite know how this worked because it seemed that you should go to the left side (yes) if you were afraid of snakes and the right side (no) if you weren’t, but it didn’t seem to work and it made me question if it was interactive at all, and maybe I was just walking over to each side for no reason. Though there weren’t many people around at the time so maybe it didn’t work, but this shows that the audience can sometimes be confused about what their role is when they are interacting (or thinking they should interact) with installations, which is something I would like to avoid in my project.

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This was my favourite thing because when you walked over the black sign on the floor an alarm sound played (it must have been activated by a pressure sensor or something). But when people walked over that part of the floor they looked around to see what was making the sound, then they looked at the floor which says “Do Not Touch” which automatically makes you want to do the opposite, if you touched the pole in the centre of the sign on the floor you got a small electric shock. I found this quite a fun way to make people interact, and it also uses reverse psychology to make people interact, and people found it really funny and were laughing.

Here is a video of something which wasn’t interactive but I found very interesting because it replicated gravity but in a 3 dimensional shape, as opposed to a 2 dimensional computer screen. I also like the way that when the lights hit one another they “bounce” sort of like how a pendulum works.

 

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.

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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.

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].

A History of Adult Animation.

As a part of our first mini project we looked into the history of animation. For this project I want to focus on adult animation from the 1960’s to present day.

One thing that targeting an adult audience did for animation was to bring more depth into the narrative – this meant that a new reason for animation arose, one which didn’t necessarily involve humorous slapstick anthropomorphic characters such as Bugs Bunny or Donald Duck having to overcome certain situations such as escaping from a hunter or trying to get food – animations which were targeted for adult audiences allowed a deeper underlying point which was often easily distinguishable due to it being the primary theme or reason that the animation in question was made. These animations were often surrounded in metaphor and reflected a concept of the artist or that the artist was trying to recreate/portray.

In film and television, animations with well structured narratives first rose in popularity with small shorts of characters such as Mickey Mouse (Steamboat Willie, 1928), and Bugs Bunny (who’s first appearance was in ‘Porky’s Hare Hunt‘ 1938). At first animations were so new that they were generally enjoyed by all audiences and animators generally didn’t have to specify what audience their animations were aimed at. However, illustration targeted at adult audiences can be traced back to early editorial cartoons, which appeared in newspapers and magazines such as punch (http://punch.co.uk/). Although these were illustrations not animations, they were an early example that illustrations didn’t just have to be for children.

A good example of an animation that is intended to be specifically for adults is Pink Floyd – The Wall, a 1982 film directed by Alan Parker and based on the band Pink Floyd’s album of the same name. The film stars Bob Geldof as the main character, playing a rock star called Pink, who is unable to function within society any longer due to a mental breakdown. The story follows his journey throughout his life but particularly focuses on his growing isolation, creating the metaphor of a wall, which is erected between him and ‘reality’. The most important, exciting and memorable parts of this film however are, to me, the animation. Created by Gerald Scarfe, who’s other popular works include his role as production designer in the film Hercules, made by Disney in 1997. The Wall has truly horrific animations, that in my opinion really capture the emotion of loneliness, depression and self loathing. The film also has strong metaphorical representations of lust (especially in the ‘flower’ scene) and blatant references to consumerism, greed and (arguably) capitalism in the animation to the songs “Empty Spaces” and “What Shall We Do Now?” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS_FCbQ-okM), personification of conformity, obedience, judgement and authority in “The Trial”: (the school teacher, the mother, the judge http://vimeo.com/22172886) and an outstandingly visually effective representation of the casualties of war in the song “Goodbye Blue Sky” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxrYVFFhryg) – my personal favourite section being the British flag turning into the bloody cross, which to me represents war mongering and power lust and has obvious connections to religion and symbolism of death (Jesus Christ, soldier’s graves).

The animation is not shy in its addressing of (at the time) quite taboo subjects, especially when you consider that this was during the time of the Cold War, and when you consider that there was a ‘national pride’ at being ‘victorious’ during WWII, then the creators suggestions were touching upon a delicate matter. The animation also at times has negative interpretations of romance and lust, and doesn’t shy away from shocking its audience with relatively graphic, distorted vulgarised sexual imagery (again for its time).

I think this piece of art is a great example of how visuals and audio can go together hand in hand. Though fairly, this obviously comes from quite a biased perspective as I am a massive fan of the band Pink Floyd. I was fortunate enough to witness this animation at a live performance of The Wall by Roger Waters (bass player of Pink Floyd and main contributor towards The Wall) along with other, more modern animations, which were projected onto a ‘wall’ that was being built during the performance, and knocked down at the end.It was great to see the old and the new come together with amazing 3d projections digitally projected on to a wall, this was a clear example for me of the advantages of digital.

In terms of animation, it could be argued that Scarfe’s style is outdated and I believe this is probably true when comparing his work to modern designs even in 2D such as The Lion King for example. Though to me this does not matter when considering his ability to create the right atmosphere through visual interpretations of emotion. For me, older 2D high budget animations have so far been much more effective in interpreting darker themes such as fear, isolation, envy and wrath when compared to their 3D counterparts, especially when you compare old Disney films such as Pinocchio (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnamFerzNvw), and Snow White (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RvgkvIVn6E) to more recent Pixar/Disney films like the Toy Story Franchise and Finding Nemo and Universal productions such as Shrek, which actually contains references to older animations (such as Pinnocchio) as ‘fairytales’. These more recent films tend to focus more on humour and adventure compared to darker themes such as revenge or greed (Shrek actually parodies such concepts). All these films are genuinely brilliant in their own right, but in my opinion they fail to capture a darkness that the older counterparts I previously mentioned succeed in. I think that this is due to as previously mentioned the fact that animation used to be directed at all audiences, where as now animations are generally created for a certain age, even though this doesn’t mean that an adults can’t enjoy a film such as finding nemo or young people don’t spend their time trying to watch South Park. Because there is now more concern from parents as to what their children see at such a young age and the fact that it can’t be regulated as well due to the internet the conceptual and morally valuable aspects of stories in animation are not as important anymore and animation focuses on entertainment more than trying to create meaning. Even adult animation isn’t conceptual and is more about entertainment.

I think this represents a change in our culture and the popularity of animation more than our technology. I think that in the past animators had a lot more freedom to explore animation and older animations focused more on art than entertainment. Today films are high budget and are made by much larger teams of people with lots more input. There is nothing that doesn’t permit 3D animation to portray such themes as evil as well or even better than 2D animation, but I think that the style of narrative has changed especially in large budget films. There are a lot of independent animators who can be found on the internet who still do this. Good examples are Anthony F Schepperd (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4MdEIQcZxs) and David Firth (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuCw5k-Lph0). Also. This means that cartoons no longer cater for a large age range and tend to be either family orientated or adult orientated, which animation for the Wall was before adult animation became popular with TV shows such as The Simpsons which debuted in 1989. Furthermore avant garde styles of animation now have a place on the internet and animation which isn’t mainstream tends not to be noticed by large production companies, this is good because it means that there is a mix of large productions in animation but smaller artists still have a stage where they can showcase their work for free.

References

The Wall , 1982 [film] Directed by Alan Parker. United Kingdom: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, 1937 [film] Directed by David Hand. Burbank, California: Walt Disney Pictures
Pinocchio, 1940 [film] Directed by Ben Sharpsteen. Burbank, California: Walt Disney Pictures
Hercules, 1997 [film] Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. Burbank, California: Walt Disney Pictures
IMDB, N.D. “Pink Floyd The Wall” [online] Available at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084503/ [Accessed 28/2/14]
CBS, 23/2/2014 “Almanac: ‘Pinocchio’” [online] Available at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/almanac-pinocchio/ [Accessed 28/2/14]
Techcomix.com 17/9/2013 “2d vs 3d Animation: A Brief History of the Animated Feature Films Industry” Available at http://www.techcomix.com/2d-vs-3d-animation-a-brief-history-of-the-animated-feature-films-industry/ [accessed 28/2/14]
http://www.Brain-Damage.co.uk 1/7/2010 “Gerald Scarfe on Pink Floyd” [online] Available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qwnWClFVX8 [Accessed 28/2/14]