Text and Context

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
  • being dies
  • 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:

  • spiderman
  • a bbq
  • radioactive
  • underwater
  • made of watermelon
  • caveman times
  • lefthanded

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..

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 a 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.

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.

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