VR, Virtual Reality. Not real reality, but a reality within a reality.
Unbound possibilities and responsibilities which come with virtual escapism. Playable moments of not real time, but in real time. A sense of metaphysical feeling generated through tricks of visual sequence and navigation.
Not virtual in the sense of not existing, but virtual in the sense of not really existing. Bouncing from one illusion to the next, expressing the human form in a place only your brain can comprehend.
The choice and freedoms of biologically existing in a space which does not.
Not too dissimilar from attentive captivation found in other medias, such as written word, video and sound. Dramatically separated by the engulfment of space. Complete control over a digital architecture.
The real world around you seizes. You yourself seizes.
Venturing into a world which does not exist, but you find yourself existing within.
Every element of the environment you are dissolving into has been consciously crafted.
A new method of presenting work. A virtual gallery space.
A whole new life. The ability to go anywhere, be anyone, do anything.
Overall, my personal project manifested itself into a beautiful mutation from my original starting point. I always had the intention of it being a research project, but I had no idea things would exist as they currently do, but this is something which I mourn with great pleasure. It has been quite engaging with my life as I have spent a lot of time laying on my bedroom floor questioning the meaning of everything, which I also view as a positive occurrence and led to some ‘creative’ formulations of words in my sketchbooks and such. I quickly became captivated by motivations (without being too cynical)and human interaction, especially over distance. My biggest obsession in this project was the notion of live, real time video feeds. I befriended and became almost too comfortable with the sites ‘Insecam’ and ‘Chat Roulette’. This project was an opportunity for me to explore the realms of digital media and moving image since the previous projects in this semester have had a great influence and allowed me to learn more about the things that I can do.
My personal project kicked off with a stealthy and healthy invasion into concept of Absurdism, one of the many philosophical theories surrounding meaning in context to existence. It was born from Existentialism and proposes that there is a conflict between human tendency to seek value and meaning and life and the human inability to find any.Don’t worry, it also offers three ways of solving this dilemma: to kill yourself, turn to religion, or to simply accept that there is literally no meaning to anything ever and understand that life is an absurd unstoppable force, and by doing fully accepting this you can make your own meanings along the way. I conducted a sturdy amount of research into this topic, just about the right amount to make me have e existential breakdowns a minute. I also began reading many other things along this topic, as well as ‘The Book On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Really Are’ by Alan Watts. This book was quite notable in its influence on the work I began creating. I enjoyed his words and the order he put them in to create meaning. I thoroughly enjoyed the concepts of language as something which does not have fixed meaning, since it is interpreted and its meaning changes over time, and the use of metaphors to explain complex concepts to things that they are like because we cannot grapple or fully explain using our words, “.. our existence and our awareness of it cannot be understood in terms of things that are known” the use of myth, special metaphors, analogies and images which say what it is like as distinct from what it is..m. Another thing which stuck to me like a green fly was the way he spoke of the unity between everything. That we all exist from and within the universe. Maybe I began taking this too literally, but I became obsessed by it. I got a haircut. But I didn’t really. Yes, there is less hair on my head now then before. But I am the universe. My hair is the universe. Nothing is being subtracted or lost. All things are a manifestation of the same. And this is fun. I also got into some light reading of Boethius’ ‘The Consolation of Philosophy’, facing the fundamental truths that most of what is in a persons life is merely fortune and something which can be lost as quickly as gained so we should not base our lives so much around these things. All that is truly ours are our powers of reason.
All of this knowledge I had attained amplified my internal void and pessimism which intern was very counter-productive to the production of work since I was now weighing up the entirety of my existence and trying not to cry all the time, resulting in little physical work being accomplished. And then I looked at the fish tank in my parents kitchen. How absurd. We’ve re-created a suspended block of ecosystem, and placed it on the counter top. How fucking absurd. So I wrote a poem. And this is the moment my creative cogs started moving again. I started looking at the things which surrounded me through an absurdist lens, creating a notion of ‘everyday absurdities’. It was around this time that I decided to take a leisurely walk amongst the Adobe Suite, which was when I lovingly stumbled upon Adobe Character Animator, what a day that was. It provided me with an opportunity to take my written words further into animation with less frustration and stress than ever before! I began making faces using the provided template on Photoshop and before I knew it I had given birth to an community of life long virtual friends. One thing led to another and I produced a face mapped digital performance of a ‘scribble face’ performing my poem in-front of the infamous fish tank.
I think this was a pinnacle moment in my project, without realising I had discovered a whole new format to deliver my work. I love faces and words, so together, we got married. As mentioned in my Text and Context writings, I enjoy the creation of sound using Garageband, and this fitted almost too perfectly into my new method of poem presentation and preservation. Before I reached this point in my project, I had plenty of other ideas which naturally decayed such as exploring how fucking insane nursery rhymes are, an exploration into cave painting and why thats a thing, pigeons with human ears, I even thought about creating ‘The Long Way Home Thought Excavation Club’ as a platform to express all my thoughts, I discovered that potted plants are an egotistical contained dependence that we have to make us feel important.. Oh, and I also made a ‘song’ which features voices talking about a coal mine..
Anyway, the second biggest gold mine in my project was my casual discovery a site called ‘Insecam’. It contains thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of unprotected live camera feeds from all over the world.I quickly became obsessed with this as I was so captivated with the idea watching people who were living out their lives at the same time as mine but across the world and without any knowledge that I was watching them. I found myself watching rats in Pennsylvania, dogs in Atlanta, men in a barbers in London, ducks in nests in Budapest, tortoises in Ecclesfield and churches in Derby to name a few. Also, sometimes I could control these cameras and make them do things like move and play noises. I developed an (un)healthy habit of observing laundrettes in France. I enjoyed the notion of watching people watching their washing and hanging out with their friends etc. And then something happened. A woman dropped her sock and all I could do was watch. I found myself to be quite helpless, since I could not tell her that she had dropped her sock, I simply had to sit and watch the tragedy unfold, (She did realise and pick it up after a while but that is not the point). It was a slap of realisation that if I saw something terrible and law bending what ground am I standing on? Yes I’m watching it happen live so I’m a witness, but to what end? Would that stand up in a court of law? They don’t even know I’m watching, yet alone where I am and heck, I don’t even know where they are since the cams have a rough estimation of location. It wasn’t long before I developed a big excited egg of wanting to go to a laundrette in France (I made a whole video about it called ‘THE IDEA’) . I felt I was quite detached from the cameras, yes I knew they were live and current (majority have time stamps) but what would happen if I saw myself there, would it feel weird? My dream was to go there. I didn’t know what I would do, perhaps do my washing or juggle (something I have been teaching myself to do recently) or just exist in that space. My first step was to establish where one of these laundrettes is exactly. I knew this would be difficult but oh my Samantha was this essentially impossible. It turns out that washing your clothes in France is quite a big thing, and they have thousands of largely indistinguishable generic laundrettes. Also, I can’t speak French and the interiors of the laundrettes are largely coated with instructional material surrounding the nature of washing your clothes. So, I mean, I didn’t rule this out, it was (and still is to an extent) my dream, but I downsized a little bit. My mission became finding at least one camera in the UK that I could travel to and exist with. Again, very extremely difficult, but I found one. A big chunk of the streamed frame was a sign with a company name and website, so this made it a smooth investigation. I tracked down one in Croydon. The feed itself would sometimes be down and inaccessible on the site I found out, so it was a bit temperamental as to if I went there and I could actually access the feed.
Something which encapsulates this my polite and innocent obsession with these world wide streams was ‘cybernetic-existentialism’, something I read about in a journal provided by a tutor (thanks Paul). Jennicam was a live stream of a girl in her house started in 1996. It became viral before that sort of thing even happened, at less then a frame a minute, a stream of honest life was being broadcast to the world. Every hour of every day for over i years. It had over dl million viewers a day who watched her life unfold and even just watching her empty house when she wasn’t home. Instead of paraphrasing Imll directly insert words from the journal which touch upon Satre:“As we watched, we were hit –time and time again –by the monumental absurdity and aching banality of existence. It was utterly compelling. This was first-and-foremost ‘a life most ordinary’ –eating, sleeping, watching TV –although there were highs and lows… But most fundamentally, we experienced the surprising profundity of the mundane, the hypnotic compulsion of the absurd, and the existential shock of a soap opera of Nothingness . It encapsulated Sartre’ s insight at the end of his novel Nausea(1965) that Being is mere contingency, and that Being has no meaning, it just is : ‘The essential thing is contingency. I mean that by definition, existence is not necessity. To exist is simply to be there; what exists appears, let’s itself be encountered, but you can never deduce it’(Sartre 1965 , 188). What one ‘ encountered’when logging in was as often Ringley’ s absence as her presence. In the philosophy’s defining work, Sartre identifies two fundamental ontologies – Being and Nothingness –and this provides such a perfect description of Jennicam that it could have been its subtitle. Sartre’s foregrounding of Nothingnessincludes significant reflections on the nature of absence, and he provides various examples of negation, most famously a story of going to meet his friend Pierre in a café. When he walks in and realises that Pierre is not there, the space becomes entirely defined by his absence, rather than by the presence of the other people who are there…”
This hit the metaphorical nail on its big metaphorical head for me. this was what i was experiencing. and it holds ties to my initial starting point for the project. as i came to terms with the likelihood i wouldn’t be venturing to France i wrote a graceful and respectful memorial poem, and the likelihood of traveling to the other camera in croydon became less of a priority as for my next lilypad of great enablement was chat roulette. i began meeting other worldly existence, often for a few seconds at a time, directly online. face to face. welcome to, another obsession. i produced a video called ‘how absurd’ in an attempt to display how absurd this meaningless but rich this interaction is.
i also went on a website called ‘Camsurf’ which is basically the same as chat roulette, but with ‘rules’ surrounding explicit content and bullying.. it is meant to be ‘safer’. i had an idea to see if i could find someone else on it if i told them to search the same time as me, so i asked my friend Mhari to find me. it was very fun and took a surprisingly long time to actually find each other but once we did we shared speaking about the journey we had both been on and the people we had encountered/ spoke to. i then said that i wanted a cup of tea, and in a light hearted funny way i said ‘can you make me one?’ to which she replied with ‘yes’. and thats where i created the video ‘tea girl’. Mhari literally made me a cup of tea at her house and then walked round to my house with it to give it to me. it was extremely funfuns to do because it all felt very silly, some would say absurd.
After lots of fun fuckery with the public, i had an idea. what if i could present my virtual friends as my camera feed using character animator and interact with people live. however technically troubling this was, i achieved it. i made another version of myself, a virtual version and used it. i thoroughly enjoy the idea that when people obscure their cameras on webcam chat rooms, its usually to hide their appearance and to be someone else, a catfish. but i was re-creating myself from my true physical form and presenting that. i wasn’t lying, i was just digital. i created 2 videos using the face i made from my face which brought together my poetry, my garageband stuffs and me. Unfortunately i had a lot of issues when trying to use it on chat roulette because the face detection before you can begin surfing really didn’t think my face was a face, but this didn’t upset me because i knew mrs. collage worked.
My final outcome is a perfect Frankenstein of different aspects of things i have explored this project. i feel it is a strong piece, bringing together all my friends into one place. i brought my self made method of sharing my virtual face, my poetry, new ways of editing and my sweet garage band tunes. no matter how much i cringe at the sound of my own voice when i watch it, i am very proud of it as it took a very very very very large amount of time, patience and home grown effort to make. as explained within the video, i encountered a problem with being able to record audio. i couldn’t record my voice and their voice at the same time since i was using a headset. and so i simply didn’t record any audio and used my own virtual self to narrate, exhibiting a maxheadroom-like presenter vibe.
Amongst my many many many many obsessions and fascinations within the project, i think it largely rides on meaning devised through observation and interaction from my perspective. i have created an array of unique tools and techniques to carry out things i have never done before, and tied it all together with my lumpy view of the world and thrill for words in a peculiar order. i have enjoyed the shit out of this project and i am so proud of all this weird stuff i’ve chuffed out through simple explorations of ‘what if’ and whims. it has been a philosophical roller coaster that has taught me so much about meaning and the lack of it, and how that is essentially a good thing as it enables anything and everything. for the most part, this project felt like stumbling in the dark having no idea what the fuck imm doing or what it means or if any of it ties into this really important self directed final project of second year. i didn’t know that all the while i was creating meaning for it by doing it.
For me, this is how I explain this project:
It felt like I was hand making a jigsaw piece by piece with no idea how things would fit together or what the final outcome will be like. And once I had finished making all the pieces, I placed them all together with a hammer so they fit snugly, so that when taken apart, it fits back together perfectly.
This dense block of explanation of this project is actually very light when compared to the discovery, research, ideas and executions I carried out. I’ve skimmed over a lot and I had many ideas and directions which I could have gone in such as my final piece existing as a performance, either of me or of other people using the tools and methods ImVe created. One of my favourites was an idea of including both Insecam and Character Animator but streaming myself at a camera spot and being on the phone to my animated face and presenting it as a split screen projection. I even wanted to make a machine, but I don’t know what it would do……………..
The University was approached by an after school club which works across several primary schools in Brighton with the task of animating poems written by students to accompany their live spoken performances of the poems at the Jubilee Library as part of the Brighton Festival. We had the opportunity to meet the children and talk about their poems before homing in on one in particular to produce work for. I teamed up with fellow students Mhari Netley and Adam Hester and picked one by a year 4 student of Hertford Junior School based on the painting ‘Girl in a Swansdown Hat’ by Roy Little.
We immediately got to work by reading through the poem and picking out certain words and phrases to produce imagery for. The animation didn’t need to exist as a direct word-to-word visual translation of the poem, as the child would be speaking it, so we used visual signifiers and gestures to translate it. Quite early on we established that we did not know the pace it would be read, and so trying to match the visuals up with certain parts of the poem real time would be extremely difficult. We concluded that creating a short and quite fast paced animation which could loop several times throughout the performance would be much more effective, as it would be relevant at different times as the words are spoken.
Below is our written on scan of the poem itself. Full credit goes to the author and child genius Billie for the fantastic writing.
Here is our produced animation:
We largely used simple boils edited together to construct the piece. The working dynamic resolved itself into Mhari and Adam producing the drawings, and I was the editor digitising them and placing them into Adobe Aftereffects and animating them since I had the most experience with it. The process itself was a discussion about what we want to happen, the drawing of the frames, using the Adobe Capture app to quickly vectorise them before sending them to be to be edited into a series of GIFs and then placed into Aftereffects. Once this method was established, we worked extremely productively. I feel that if we were each working individually we would have never been able to produce something of this quality and length, but as a team we were able to share the lengthy responsibilities which come with animating and were able to cover a lot of ground.
We worked extremely hard on this short project and are all very proud of what we have produced!
Below are a selection of original scanned drawings before being digitised and edited into animations:
Below are a selection of boil GIFs we created from drawings which were used in the animation:
This project lasted only a few days and required us to create either a still or moving image/video to be presented at the club Patterns in Brighton on Thursday 15th March 2018. We were briefed on all sorts of different approaches that we could take but the end result was always pretty open to what the final thing could be. I was a part of a workshop called ‘the semiotics of ambiguity’ which involved analysing and breaking down images and exploring their potential meaning. I took this as an opportunity to embrace a self developed interest and hobby.
I do this special thing where I browse mannequin listings on eBay, largely the ‘used’ and ‘pre-owned’ on auction. I quickly became obsessed with the images the sellers uploaded. I see them as art pieces in themselves, they often consist of the mannequins composed in either houses or gardens, taken at strange angles, often deconstructed and with special emphasis placed on the damaged areas. I am also fascinated with the idea of a cheap plastic imitation of what is seen to be the most precious and complex form on the planet. They are the least precious version of the human form. Their existence could be seen as perhaps one of the most narcissistic acts of the human species; to create millions of models of themselves. As if overpopulation is a problem.. I imagine a massive human jelly mould in which these bodies are birthed; the mother mould.
I took these notions and collated an archive of eBay mannequin imagery to work with. I then used these to create a gif of over 70 images.
I then took some scans from a recent sketchbook and created this gif:
I then played around on Adobe Aftereffects, overlaying and keying out the white of the mannequin gif to create this:
I thought about how it needed something more, and so I used my all time favourite image I’ve ever come across on a mannequin eBay listing and pieced it back together as a full body before making it articulate:
I added it into the file I was working on in Aftereffects, experimenting with the special effects to distort and make it move more. I also added this free associative gif of text to overlay:
This project was about exploring narrative structures and realising how they are often the same throughout many stories but in different contexts. We were given a handful of different texts and settings to pick from and form a new story. We were to essentially re-tell the narrative but in a different form. The new story we were making needed to exist of elements and key events from the original, and it had to be either a book or graphic novel, video or animation. I picked The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and surreal.
I started the project with the intention of creating a graphic novel, but in the form of a collection of GIFs. I broke the narrative structure of the original story up into a list of key events:
the main character wakes up and realises he is a bug
his family freak out
a period of time passes and his family don’t want him anymore
the main character buy man dies in the night
his family move on
And then I reduced that to a more basic and anonymous version (out of context to the original story):
being becomes another being
family reacts negatively
family moves on
After a ponder, I decided that I was of course going to change the bug factor, and I came up with a list of possible ideas for the main character to wake up as:
made of watermelon
I decided to go with the character waking up left handed. I researched why left handedness could be seen as a bad thing and any historical or religious connotations. I came across a website of the ‘Landover Baptist Church’ as the forums contained very questionable and aggressive statements. Upon closer inspection, I found that it is a fictional, satirical website (yay). The site contained an extreme amount of silliness which meant that I loved it. Someone with the username ‘Bob4God’ who is an ‘Arms Dealer for Christ’ commented on the ‘issue of the disgusting, alternative lifestyle of being left-handed’. The website also contained a map of the fictional park called Jesusland. It contains a racial profiling centre, an airport, ‘S.S Noah’s Ark 2’ luxury escape ship, a gift shop, a rifle range and the world’s largest gold cross amongst many many other things. I decided that this is the perfect place to base my narrative, and so the other characters would be beings of the cloth.
When having a mid project crit, my idea completely changed. The tutor asked us what we would do (outside of this project) if we had an unlimited budget and all the space we need. Something which I have been considering for a while is creating a surreal video/ comedy sketch. And so, I applied this to the project at hand and got cracking.
I bundled inspiration from the League of Gentlemen, Boosh, Monty Python and such and began considering and conceiving relevant thoughts. I wanted this video to be funny. The problem with that is, which I buoyantly discovered, trying to make something funny isn’t all that easy. I wrote a few ideas up but frustratedly lost hope with them, leaving them outside the creative house to die. And then! I realised! I’m a fool! I had already brewed a narrative from my previous expedition which I had instantly dropped the moment I decided to change my outcome. So I lovingly hopped back to my original left handed crusade. I had a few ideas, and even pumped out a poem (wow!). After all this splashing around, I only had a week to get things done. I embraced this and started storyboarding something together.
My idea was to have someone wake up, drink some water with their left hand, but the hand chaotically scrambles this attempt leaving the person all watered on, they exclaim loud sounds which gains the attention of a second person who asks what the shit is going on, the wet person can only talk in connectives so tries to write down what has happened, the second person sees they are writing with their left hand and reacts monstrously.
And then for some reason I felt compelled to spend my time wisely and create this digital drawing of the sofa bed which I would be filming around..
I decided to swing straight into it and started filming. I shortly discovered that the funnies happened when actually filming. Ideas came as to how to cause smiles which was reassuring and fun. Also my main star actor and fool Mr Harry Cole was brilliant at both acting and coming up with ideas. The process of doing was where most of the direction happened for the video, no matter how much planning. Also I played around with editing as well as different shots and perspectives. From the Narratives of the Unconscious project in semester one I learnt of the excellence of sound effects and music, and so had a fiddle. Below is the first video I made, originally intended to be just a mockup and a test but turned out to be quite the piece in itself.
After editing I was satisfied with the video as a whole. I fully acknowledge how much I’ve strayed from the path in context to abstracting the original narrative and how inconclusive it is compared to my original plan however, I carried on playing around with video and created this separate video as I had an idea for there to be a dream sequence at the beginning of the video. It features myself staring into the camera with no audio. It is a living execution of an idea taken a step further regardless of relevance.
My aim was to create something which felt politely uncomfortable and surreal. I believe I have achieved this by the use of slightly slowing down the speed and the lack of audio. The lack of audio was something I felt I needed to do as every time the camera was focusing it generated noises from the lens movements. The almost constant re-focusing also brings a lot to the piece, I was able to do it handsfree using a wired shutter controller to the camera. In the moments it is blurry, the viewer is working to establish what it is they are looking at, which works in favour of the vibe I was going for. The staring brings a level of intensity to the video since direct eye contact is often intimidating. The choppy editing of different scenes and use of black screen forces the viewer to pause and consider what is going on. The use of prosthetic hands relates to the precious video as I wanted to bring focus to the use of the left hand. The ripped baby head mask is what I wore on Halloween and so had it lying around, and its concealment of half my face also raises an uneasy and confusing atmosphere. I learnt a hefty punch about methods of achieving certain vibes from this video, in context to recording and editing.
Another joust into the depths of relevance was using the previously written poem and spending two hours editing it to exist as this video.. I wrote it all with my left hand.. that is partially the reason it took so long.
Anyway, I regrouped and did some more filming and built on what I had learnt from A Left Watering and pursued the idea of utilising a dream sequence but of a foretelling nature.
I enjoy the notion of the left hand having its own disruptive agenda and a mind of its own, especially in the context to everyday experiences. I also experimented with using and not using a tripod as an attempt to emphasise the atmosphere. I found that no matter how much filming I had done, I was always being really selective when editing which meant I had short end results. I view this as a positive and a negative. Yes it is dampening to know I spent so long filming different angles and shots again and again, but keeping it short and sweet enables a much more interesting and enjoyable end result for the viewer.
I feel the two main pieces of video I have produced are strong in structure and quality, however I am not going to jiggle around the fact that they are rather nonsensical in their narrative nature. The viewer doesn’t really have any idea what is going on and why other than a rough idea from the title. While I like this, it doesn’t entirely fit the brief.
I went to the final crit with my videos and received useful feedback which I intend to act on and take this project further post-crit to create a finished piece. The main conclusion which was concluded was the realisation that I had, quite impressively, created just a middle segment of the narrative. We discussed how in order for the piece to make sense, it needs context in the form of a separate beginning and ending, to which I agree with bells on. We spoke of how this could be achieved through the use of perfect right handed people doing everything absolutely perfectly perfect, which would contrast to the chaotic nature of the left handed person doing everything unperfectly unperfect. I also showed a blooper collation I had made, as I was exploring the notions that come with unintentional creation. I liked the idea of a blooper reel as complete freedom compared to creating the videos, it is a mixture of things that went wrong and silliness. It does not conform to the guidelines of a polished outcome and it is allowed to. Also it acted as a good editing exercise. Below are the notes from the crit.
POST CRIT ADDITIONS
Although that was the ‘end’ of the project I still had work to do in order to finish it. When showing my work and speaking to another tutor, he pointed his admiration towards the previous video of the written poem. We spoke of the power of it and the audio in itself. This led me to show him some of my soundcloud audio pieces (click here to visit that region) and how much fun I have with titting about on garage band and working with audio in general. We spoke many-a-word of audio stories such as radio series such as The Goon Show and podcasts and such. This joyful encouragement propelled me towards the idea of creating a spoken/audio narrative. Since I now had this project to work on on top of other projects, I decided it would be good to create something simple and politely limit the amount of time I will spend. I could have drawn the line here and moved on, but I wanted to work towards bringing my enjoyment of sounds into the project.
In the piece ‘The Words Spoken’ (linked above and previously mentioned) and in my soundcloud sounds I use a ‘written text to spoken word’ feature which my laptop lovingly provides. It enables me to type words and add them to iTunes as a spoken track. There exists a marginally long list of different names featuring different accents and voices to choose from. I thought if I wrote a script/spoken narrative, I could use this talkie feature to create the different distinguishable character voices. I used 3 characters: a narrator, henery and the mother. I also found a handful of sound effects from freesound.org (very good site) to beef it up a bit. And so off I went. I wrote the script and then typed it out for the 3 individual voices:
Next I added them to iTunes as spoken tracks after picking different voices and then got to work splicing them up into the correct narrative order and added some other sounds, which cost me 1.6 hours of my life. I was pleased with it. However, (obviously) there existed no visuals. For me, I found this boring. I thought about writing or typing them out so they appeared on the screen as they are spoken, but I knew that this would take me 16 years to do properly. So I had an idea, create talking heads. I drew 3 heads and turned them into GIFs with a simple mouth opening and closing. I then added this to the mix and spent at least 1.8 hours syncing and editing them in time with the audio. I then slapped a title on there and voila! A new thing!
I really enjoy the presence the faces bring to the piece, even though its repeating the same faces and same movements, I do not tire of it. The mundanity of them allows full focus to be on the audio which is what I wanted since that is where the story lies.
I prefer this outcome to that of my real life video edits because it feels much stronger. It holds a staple narrative and gives the viewer/listener a whole story. I found myself feeling over-encumbered and frustrated with choice and decisions when filming real things, there were too many variables to consider and try and control to get a message across. What things mean, objects, time, faces, lighting, angles, camera shake, sound, focus, background, foreground, visual composition etc. And then theres the whole editing part. But with an audio piece, everything is controlled much easier since I am building it up more directly. The lack of visuals enables the listener to use their imagination more. This means there is no fixed ‘look’ as it is interpreted differently. For example, if the narrator said “the table is blue” everyone who hears that is picturing a different blue table. I find this more fun than a truthful video depiction of a blue table as it seals of what the blue table can look like with the hard truth of what it does actually look like. I can also see the negatives of this as the listener can easily be confused within the narrative, but overall I view it as a positive. The lack of truthful depiction in audio allows for a richer invisible world to be created, enabling it to be completely different from person to person but the same in focus.
I am very proud with all that I have achieved with this project, I have experimented with video and gained a deal of valuable experience with editing and patience. By taking this project for a walk outside of its allocated time slot in the semester I have enabled myself to create something that makes me happiness. By allowing myself to blur the boundaries between what I do for projects and what I do outside of them (my soundcloud seances) I have enabled myself to create something fresh. I really enjoy this direction of working and will explore it further in other projects.
This project started with a short exercise which required us to create a series of basic movie posters through experimenting with text, image and meaning. Bellow are the posters I made:
I am largely pleased with these posters and feel there are some which are obviously stronger than others. The point of the exercise was to be thinking about the composition and style, they weren’t meant to be polished and perfect, but more like quick renditions produced without getting too precious and indecisive to loosen us up.
After this, we were briefed with the ‘actual’ project which required us to create a manifesto. The brief explained the manifesto as a communication made to the whole world. A simple declaration of intent used as a powerful tool for presenting ideas, themes and political, artistic and cultural concerns. The brief asked us to produce a piece of work on an issue or theme which we feel strongly about. Out of all of the things in the world, I decided to allocate myself with exploring my passion for nonsense.
I started my project by researching all things to do with nonsense. I largely found myself coated in children’s literacy, mostly in the form of poetry by people such as Edward Lear, Spike Milligan and Michael Rosen. Most of the poems produced by these birthers of nonsense retained a fair amount of narrative. When probing my brain pieces deeper into the definitions of nonsense I found it to be defined as a communication via speech, writing, symbolic system, that lacks any coherent meaning. I discovered that it is usually used for comic amusement and satire, or to illustrate a point about language or reasoning. I then came across an ‘official’ example of nonsense written by American linguist and cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky: “Colourless green ideas sleep furiously.” In this sentence, the individual words make sense and are arranged according to proper grammatical rules, yet the sentence reads as nonsense. It is grammatically correct but semantically nonsensical. When researching nonsense verse, I came across something called ‘Martian Poetry’, a minor British poetry movement in the late 70’s early 80’s started by Craig Raine and Christopher Reid, where everyday things and human behaviour is described in a strange way, as though by a visiting alien. This enabled common places to be viewed in a different way and enabled an innocently bizarre perception of the world. And then of course there is Dada poetry which wildly embraced every element of nonsense. They used puns, wordplay and experimental poetry and literature to free text and speech from the conventional and mundane rules of punctuation and spelling. One infamous technique created by Tristan Tzara in 1920 allowed anyone to create poetry using chance. This left the responsibility of communication and meaning out of the artists control. His instructions were to cut words from a newspaper and place them into a bag to mix before dropping or placing them onto a surface without disturbing the order they appear in.
Part of this venturing probe into nonsensicality was explore and learn why I adore it so much. I visually explored this in my sketchbook, noting thoughts and understandings about how nonsense is a comfort and affirms the unavoidable chaos and uncertainty. Its purpose is to not make sense, which in itself makes sense. Below are some scans from my project sketchbook.
As seen in the last scan, I had an idea to re-create the alphabet in the style of a children’s workbook but with some polite nonsense. I then digitised part of this to see what it would look like if I was to take it further and create a zine/educational workbook.
As my drive for this idea faded for it was kind of a dead end, I had myself a think about what it is that I actually wanted to make for this project. This next decision was influenced by a crit I had for another project I was doing along side this one (Text and Context), where the tutor simply asked what we would really like to do instead of what we think we should do, because that is where genuine motivation resides, in context to our creative practices. I embraced this way of thinking in relation to this project and asked myself what I would actually like to do. Something which I have been meaning to do for quite a long time is create a poetry zine. I then applied this desired outcome to this project and made it happen. Fortunately this worked quite well due to my direction towards written word, and so I started writing my own nonsense poetry.
I allowed all of the words in my brain to freely dance about, using free association and plain silliness I started writing poems. I did not pick a theme or object to write about, I just simply wrote and let the poems manifest themselves. I decided to title the zine Poemtry, a mix of poem and poetry.
While writing the poems, I started to screenshot certain ones which I would change so that I would still have the original. I saved these images into a folder titled ‘Poemtry Graveyard’. Bellow is a quick composition which I made from them.
I had quite a few ideas about format of the zine once I got going. I began playing with the position of text and order. I also had an idea to start it with use of rhyme, but slowly this progressively gets lost throughout, leaving the end poems being complete spaghetti.
When printing off a mockup of what I had done I encountered problems. I could export my indesign file to a pdf normally, but when trying to print it as a booklet in adobe acrobat the double-sided pages would always be upside down, rendering them a waste of paper. I used them as scrap paper to make a small booklet to present my film poster designs in my sketchbook, and in doing so, I accidentally created really interesting compositions. Some pages would be blank, others would have snippets of text sideways in different positions of the page. This opened my mind to embracing a more unconventional nature of presenting the zine which would feed into the nonsense theme. I still troubleshot the printing issue and managed to solve it so I would have at least one copy printed in the way I originally intended, however this delightful inconvenience inspired me to mess about with the layout of my poems.
These first two GIFs I created of the original Zine which I printed after I resolved the issue. The image bellow that is my three favourite poems from the zine.
Below is a GIF of the accidental compositions I made as mentioned above.
One of my housemates showed me a book which they had received as a gift and I immediately borrowed it for an unspecified amount of time as it was exactly what I needed for inspiration. It is called ‘POETRY’ and is a monthly poetry book featuring poems from a range of different authors. The thing I was drawn to other than the poems themselves, was the composition of some of them. Below are some photos I took:
The playful use of composition in relation to the text is exactly what I’m interested in. And so with this as inspiration I got to work jumbling up my own poems and I even wrote some new ones. Below is a GIF cycling through my new compositions.
Adebayo Bolaji is an artist among other professions such as actor, writer and director. Born 1983 in London, where he currently works and resides, he is of Nigerian descent. One of his main qualities to his working theory is honesty and play. He believes it is important to maintain a childlike rhythm, to utilise its rich unpredictable and truthful qualities.
“Ade believes you should walk into a room and be a child first. That is how his “technique” is formed. He says, if you go into your work with an unpredicted child like mind, your true self will immediately be shown. Edit with your mature self, and you should have an accomplished piece.” The Quater Concept Interview
His influences derive from life, music and environments, but more specifically from artists such as Francis Bacon, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jean Dubuffet.
Here is a collection of images taken from both Bolaji’s website and The Quater Concept’s Interview.
I discovered him on Instagramand began exploring his website, where I came across OCHRE PRESS, a London based arts media collective started in September 2017, whose focus is representing emerging artists and writers. Bolaji has published a limited edition poetry book through this collective, producing 3 versions. 2 more expensive versions with different covers, and a less expensive version. Another artist on their site who I knew the name of was artist Daisy Parris, a person who I also adore.
Bolaji also has a Youtube channel which contains clips of his multi-platform work, I particularly enjoy this video of him working:
When comprehending what it is about Bolaji’s artwork which I am drawn to, I realise it might just be all aspects of it. Not only the outcome, but also the process. The rich visual language, confident clashes of vibrance met with uneasy and immature trails of line. The use of the figure, predominately faces, met with snippets of written text interwoven by layers of textured colour, coexisting with fragmented unity to create strong solid compositions.
Something I thoroughly enjoy about discovering artists of this era is the abundance of information to be easily accessed. One of my favourite things is to be able to watch them work. To see a clip of an artist who I admire working is so insightful and inspiring, not just on a practical and technical level but it can completely change how I view the works (of any artist for that matter). To see the energy, the rhythm, the habits and techniques, and to attempt to understand the decision making process. I am definitely a fan and supported of the process being just as important, if not more so, then the outcome. Without the process, there would be no outcome. To go to a gallery and see a finished piece of artwork is insightful and astounding no doubt about it. But to be able to see the thought and process to getting to that outcome is somewhat more impressive and almost more valuable. It allows a relationship with the artist to be more personal. However obviously this cannot truly exist alongside the finished result, unless documented and expressed through moving or static image. This is perhaps the main reason why I utilise Instagram so much. It provides a ‘real’ insight into the lives and works of creators. It provides a personal live feed of their work and their life. It breaks down notions of us and them, humanising and bridging the gap.
Over the Christmas break I was set a project which required me to produce a Christmas card design. It didn’t need to celebrate Christmas, it was to be a reflection of my own opinion and thoughts surrounding the theme of Christmas.
The first thought which catapulted itself into my frontal lobes was to create something with the theme of the Bin Man. After all, he is a Christmas hero. I was thinking about him in relation to Santa, and what they have in common. I created this graphic to illustrate their relationship.
I wrote short phrases such as ‘Merry Christmas from the man with the black sack’ , ‘Merry Christmas don’t make a mess’ and ‘There are 2 types of sack at Christmas: 1. where presents come from 2. where boring presents go’.
I then tried to imagine what Christmas must be like from a dog’s perspective.
I then drew some Christmas paraphernalia (because I wanted to)
I then chased the idea of creating imagery in the form of an ill-written Christmas list. I created these 2 images.
I make a brief mock-up of my chosen design.
This design related to my perception of Christmas because it reflects my personal wishes and desires (which will hopefully come true).
On the 27th November 2017 the whole of level 5 illustration was briefed with the ‘performance project’. We were presented with a text and given 3 weeks to put on a live performance. The brief asked us to split up into different teams:
design – includes set and costume design
visual effects – includes projections, lights, sounds, music
writing – includes generating the script and directing
promotion – documenting and online promotio
I decided to be a part of the visual team and my main resposibility later down the line was solely lighting.
The text was titled Sredni Vashtar and was written by Saki in the early 1900’s. Read the original here. It is about an ill child who escapes reality via his imagination. He discovers a ferret in his shed and transforms it into a God. He prays and worships to him, and titles him Sredni Vashtar. The woman who looks after him notices he goes to the shed a lot and so goes herself with intention of removing whatever has been distracting him. The story alludes us to believe the ferret killed the woman.
At the start of the project there was much uncertainty and things were slow. This is becuase the writing group needed to produce a script before any of the groups could really do anything with certainty. It was the most confusing period in the project, as it seemed everyone had their own interpretation of the story and how it should appear. Soon after a first draft of the script had been written, the groups could start properly working on the project.
Along with the other groups, we found ourselves waiting around for specifics and decisions to be made before we could start producing concrete work. For the first week we were largely generating ideas to be shared and comprimising on what could happen. By the second week, main aspects had been established such as how the stage was going to be set up, what characters from the story were being included, the tone, overall style, finalised versions of the script etc.
This delay resulted in the bulk of our work being produced in the last week and a half before the performance itself. Subsequently this was extremely stressful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Before I fully pledged my soul to being on the lighting team, I was originally making an animation for a ritual sequence. The idea was when Conradin was praying to Sredni Vashtar, a big ferret would be projected above the shed presenting him in a God like way. There were quite a few things which tripped up this idea. I based this idea on quite a few assumptions about things like the staging and how the shed was going to look. I did this so I could start working on something for the show, as I felt like I was twiddling my thumbs and planning things which could or could not happen. I produced a basic GIF of a ferret from a drawing. My idea was to only animate small aspects of the image to make it appear alive but not be overly distracting, for example blinking.
This GIF was my draft to improve off of. My feedback was that it was too literal/detailed and needed to be more abstract, to which I agreed with. Before I was going to scramble egg the ferret, I decided to work on a godly background. I nabbed a funky GIF online and adjusted each individual layer on Photoshop to produce this:
I was quite pleased with this, and thought of many ways inwhich I could edit it using Aftereffects to make it less harsh on the eyeballs, and to overlay something ferret like infront of it.
But then when examining where and what the stage areas would look like in the performance studio, it was discovered that nothing could actually be projected above the shed as behind it was a wall covered by a black curtain. The point of the projections was to be on the screens we’d decided to use. So this halted my idea, and by this time we were working largely in the performance studio and needed people to do other jobs, and so I became a person of light!!!!!!!!!!
It was now the end of the second week, and my team of light people had the job of setting up ALL the lights for the performance. We had to consider where the projections would be during the performance as to where lights would shine from so it would not wash them out. After an induction to the lights and their possibilities, we had to decide what lights on the ceiling rig we would be using, what direction they would be shining, and if they would use coloured gels. Also set up the spotlights into the specific positions (which was difficult as we didn’t know where exactly objects would be placed and where the actors would be acting), so we did have some authority over some aspects of the play, usually interms of limitations and positioning of things. After setting up the rig and using 2 floor lamps, we had to connect all the appropriate plugs relating to the numbered sockets in the correct spaces to be used on the light deck.
We then had to programme the order of lights turning on into the ‘submasters’ memory. This meant that we could programme each scene and assign multiple lights to come on when we pushed up one slider. This makes everything easier and interms of saving us from having to manually turn up all the lights per scene/ happening, however it was rather difficult to actually do. We had to run through the script multiple times, pinpoint all the cues, decide what needed lighting if it wasn’t addressed in the script, programme it into the technology, write cues so we’d know exactly when to use each slider…. fiddly business. But I’m not mentioning all of the cOnFuSiOn AnD fRuStRaTiOn in doing so. And then when doing run throughs find that people wanted it differently.. and so having to reset elements. In total we had 26 submasters across 3 ‘pages’ on the machine, and at times had more than one slider up along with having to cross-fade and face to black at points.
Also working from the script was awkward as things on it regarding lighting were vague. It refered to the use of spotlights quite a bit, but we soon found out that there were no moving spotlights to follow actors around, only fixed ones. Also we had to keep the end part of the stage largely red and the house largely blue and cold as we were limited with lights, and so we couldn’t do parts where ‘the whole stage lights up red’.
Once all set up, our job was to light the performance live. This was a whole new level of stress and confusion. We had to know exactly what was going on regards to lighting the correct parts of the stage at precise moments. It didn’t help that we could not see the whole performance space from inside the little room we were stationed, so a bit of guess work was involved. Also, it didn’t help that every time we ran through the performance, lines would be altered, dropped or forgotten. The cues weren’t always the same in this respect, so it made it that little bit more difficult to know when to change the lights.
When it came to the performance, I think we did a good job on the lights. Nothing went dramatically wrong, there were a few slip-ups but nothing that the audience would really notice. At times I did wish that I was on a different team, perhaps prop making, as I felt it would have been a lot less challenging and stressful. Looking back I am glad I did what I did as I have learnt a large quanity of information about lighting a performance, and I now have a new found appreciation for it.
Also 360 degree live stream video was a thing but I’m not sure the University Wifi could support it…
I think one of the hardest aspects about this project was the amount of people involved in it (over 100 students). This meant a lot of miscommunication as all the groups had to work closely together towards shared outcomes or else it would have fallen apart. There was a lot of negotiation and collaboration regarding key decisions and ideas about how things should be. It did feel like we were all working togther as a big team, all trying out new things and doing something we had never done before. I think the play was succesful (from the angle I saw it) and I do wish I could have been able to watch and enjoy it from the audience perspective.
Another outcome of the project was to create a poster advertising the performance, bellow are 2 variations of the poster I made:
I like both of the designs as they hold different qualities. I was going for a simple design which I think is communicated. The text contains information about the performance, written in my style. With regards to the illustration, I made it on Adobe Illustrator using a photo of Mrs Deropp from the performance. I think it captures her character as she is portrayed to be quite arrogant and self centered. I prefer the darker poster as it relates to the darker undertones of the performance.
Below are some scanned pages from my sketchbook for this project