Tag Archives: creativearts1

The cutting edge in visual communication.

I can remember when the most exciting thing to happen on the internet was sending an email, and waiting a week to get a response because the other person wasn’t attached to it. Now we have the entire world’s knowledge tucked away in a super computer in my pocket. My children now speak in acronyms, they send photos with filters and talk to each other through a service called Discord. I used to laugh at my mother unable to program the VHS machine, and here I am barely keeping up with the technological advances since the mid noughties. I Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to my heart’s content, often having holidays from Facebook before my iPad flies through a double glazed window. Asking a forty year old what is cutting edge will certainly give a different answer to an eighteen year old.

I can remember my son showing me Snapchat a few years ago and being amazed at the filters. I understand how complex the coding must be, a distinct mix of artificial intelligence to identify the faces in the camera, and augmented reality to overlay a filter of ears or horror masks. I thought this was cutting edge, but as I research the latest developments in augmented reality I am increasingly excited about how augmented, and increasingly virtual reality will increase the sphere of possibilities in visual communication.

Microsoft talks about their contract with the US military, and how augmented reality will be able to give them real time information about the environment they are in (Forbes, 2019). As Walmart talks about using VR technologies to train the customer-focused staff of the future, I wonder when mainstream education will be better customised to the student. When the digital knowledge of the world is linked with personalised training programmes, and augmented or virtual reality systems, surely that will provide us with students educated for an ever changing jobs market? I’m already stunned at the levels of VR ready machines already available for home use, from the playstation through to personal computers and even mobile phones. I can already purchase STEM based kits for my son, which come with Google Cardboard so he can see science experiments in a VR classroom.

When you start to investigate the equipment and discover that Facebook bought Oculus in 2016 you realise that there are clearly more communication ideas in the pipeline. To be able to have coffee with a friend who lives on the other side of the world would truly make Marshall McLuhan’s idea of the ‘global village’ a reality (Explorations, CBC, 18 May 1960). We are seeing the emergence of the global village, how communications, both visual and auditory, are connecting people at a phenomenal rate around the world. We are seeing protests becoming global, not local, we can see how a pussy protest in the US travelled over the pond to the UK and happened here too, at the same time. How the yellow jackets of France were able to join in the People’s assembly protest in London, and correct people online as they tried to co-opt the message.

I am reminded of the yahoo chat rooms in the emerging days of the internet and wonder if the conversations over my son’s discord server aren’t just the same conversations wrapped in a better technology. Hopefully, once the cutting edge of the technology dulls a bit, we can use this technology to connect the world in ways that improves living conditions for the whole globe, and not just the ones in their ivory towers.

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Knitting

My mind map on knitting.

My initial research shows the ‘Make do and Mend’ campaign in the second world war, however it soon becomes apparent this was all fabric, and not the knitting circles I was thinking about. My further research reveals that it was in world war one that there was a knitting drive. A huge campaign world wide to supply our front line soldiers with ‘comforts’ to keep them warm. A recent social media project, Centenary Stitches (Lawrence, 2016) to recreate the actual patterns for a film gained a lot of support, both from knitters and finance through Kickstarter.

A screenshot taken from a film shown through the Imperial War Museum's archives. The image shows an outdoor classroom of girls knitting.
Girls knitting ‘comforts’ in a London school.

My own misadventures into knitting have always ended rather quickly. My mother is an avid knitter, and she has attempted to teach me many times. Although my grandmother also knitted, she never did gain a love for it like my mother. My mother has a briefcase full of patterns dating back to the 60s and 70s. It seems baby jackets and leggings have never gone out of fashion. I, on the other hand, find the smaller needles too complicated to use. I did eventually learn to knit, but it was a stallholder at a craft fair at the NEC who taught me to knit a rug. Much larger wool, much larger needles. I love the advent of needle-less knitting, using your arms. Giant balls of merino wool and the physical making of a scarf or blanket. No specialist equipment needed.

Arm knitting, the art of knitting without needles.

I think knitting was stereotypically associated with the elderly, however I think that was more because of the propaganda during the war instilling a ‘make your own’ mentality. With the advent of mass produced clothing, partly due to the manufacturing techniques needed during the second world war to keep up with uniform requirements (Clouting, 2018), I think we’ve lost that ability to make our own. The new push for better quality and longer lasting clothing, along with the reuse, reduce and recycle campaign, is returning us to this make do and mend mindset. It’s not that knitting ever died, but there is a distinct revival, even the mainstream media pumping us full of the mental health advantages of knitting (Ritschel, 2018).

The ever-changing landscape of newness.

As I go to explore the world of advertisements, something I haven’t explored since my business management degree in 2009, I expect to see VR content, or adverts aimed at ‘on demand’ or serial fast forwarders. Instead I’m met with projection mapping. This is the art of placing an advert or digital art installation on a still object by designing it for the specific surface area. You couldn’t get more time and place specific, it is generated for a specific event, from hotel openings, festivals or the Super Bowl.

It reminds me of sci-fi movies from the last few decades, where holographic advertisements hover around people going about their daily business. Where space and air have become monetised in the capitalist society’s demand for new products, new expenditure, new gadgets, new, new, new. The shiny and bling of a new purchase sold as retail therapy, how a new credit card is available, just sign here.

Sold to companies as an alternative to the millennials ‘refusal’ to spend money on objects, projection mapping is marketed as an immersive experience instead of something to gather dust on a shelf (Furlong, 2018).

Considering the technology has been used for half a century you would think that it would have lost the excitement which was evident with the first projections. However as technology has developed, so has the projectors and software used in the illuminations. The modern rendition of interactive animations and art installations are far removed from Disney’s talking heads in 1969 (Integrate Expo, 2018).

I’m reminded of my earlier research into VR advertisements and realise this could be a stepping stone. Fully immersive experiences, but still trapped within a building, dome or on a wall. Is this a gentle nudge to the general population towards virtual reality? As headsets reduce in price, and the technology of household computers increases, it’s very possible that VR will take over from projection mapping. It is, after all, the same skillset needed to build the 3d environments for virtual reality, spatial awareness, user journey and three dimensional design.

Connotations of adverts.

Denotations of an old navy advert.

I first see the man in a navy sailor uniform, wearing an old fashioned white sailor hat. He’s sat on an orange missile or mini submarine, and then I notice the date (1917) in the university’s write up and decide it’s probably a missile. Words encourage FIGHTING MEN to sign up to the navy. Bold lettering in red and navy stand out at the bottom of the poster. The missile is moving, demonstrated with splashes from the water bouncing as high as the man’s head. The man on the missile is holding a fuse in his hand.

Connotations are put forward by the question, suggesting the missile is phallic, but I don’t see it. I see a cowboy riding a bull or a wild horse at a county fair. With a whip in his hand, holding on tightly to the bucking missile as it jumps across the water’s surface. A real man, a man’s man, an all American cowboy is suggested by this poster. The sense of danger and excitement emphasised by the raised hand as if the missile isn’t dangerously jumping all over the place, it needs inciting to be more treacherous by the whip/fuse.

I read into the poster that the navy are looking for the daring adventurous men to board their ships. The kind who’d jump on the bullock at the fair to try his chances at whatever prize is on offer.

Denotation: The poster above shows a hand drawn green hand, with pink fingernails. There are blue droplets falling towards the hand. “Why you need to wash your hands!” along with other messages, are written by hand followed by “Wash your Hands!” MRSA Action UK is printed in the top left corner, with Mid Yorkshire Hospitals and the NHS logo top right.

Connotation: The picture is clearly drawn by a child, with uneven handwriting around it. Although the written messages are clear, washing hands removes germs, the implied messages are interesting. The green hands imply dirt or illness, or in the world of animations, evil hands. I believe that the use of a child’s drawing is to shame adults into washing their hands. Even a child knows to wash their hands, that it stops germs. If a nine year old knows this then an adult has no excuses.

The poster was part of a group of posters designed in collaboration between the NHS trust in Yorkshire and the MRSA charity to reduce MRSA figures.

Chris Cruise, Head of Infection Prevention and Control at the Trust said: “It’s very important to get children involved, they see the world from a simplistic perspective and they have no preconceived ideas, they say it how they see it. Or draw it as they see it, as we found in the poster competition, the designs the children produced were very good!” 

After reading Chis’ description, as to why they use a child’s drawing, I’m still believing it has more to do with budgets, lack of funding and shaming adults.

Re-contextualising images

Exercise 2, photomontages and collages.

So my initial research was with the named artists in the course book. These are my thoughts on those artists, with the addition of some of my own found artists.

My initial reactions to the artists is one of intrigue. They seem to all cover war. I appreciate that this was the most controversial topic over the last 100 years, it also reminds me, that with Brexit, the EU peace treaty comes to an end between Britain and the rest of Europe.

John Heartfield satirises it with the use of photo-collages, mixing hitler with an ape certainly invokes the dark humour of the time. His piece called “The Executioner and Justice” certainly shows how, at times of war, justice becomes blind to what is going on. Very few words are needed to discern their meaning, and at the time the visuals would have been startling compared to the “blitz mentality” and official propaganda that was being produced across Europe.

Another great example of an anti war activist is Peter Kennard. His visual language is completely different from Heartfield’s. Where Heartfield’s montages are more chaotic and have humour, Kennard’s are more instructional and fierce. His use of bold text on his montages adds a different dynamic than Heartfield’s collages. There’s little to unravel and the message is revealed with a single glance. His tone is louder, his use of capital letters across the anti bomb posters is something that has continued into modern digital conversations as attention seeking or shouting. A matter if urgency is displayed across the works from anti nuclear bombs to protesting the privatisation of the telephone systems in the UK.

Cleaning the drapes by Martha Rosler

I find Martha Rosler’s collages sit neatly between Heartfield’s and Kennard’s works. They mix the dramatic war imagery of Kennard’s work with the satirical nature of Heartfield’s. Rosler uses everyday scenes juxtaposed over war scenes to show how western society turns a blind eye to the atrocities across the world. The images strike a complex balance between a satirical look at modern society in America and the UK and the harsh realities of living in a war zone. Her use of curtains adds a reality into the images as we close our curtains to shut out the outside world.

Meanwhile I find myself perplexed by Hannah Höch’s work. Her collages seem amateurish, however technically the images are well sought and placed. It takes me to read about her background to understand the meaning of her work. At face value it is difficult to discern why she picked these particular images, and I can only assume that at the time she made them these images would have been well recognised. It is well placed within the Dada movement, of chaos and satire, and you can see how surrealism developed as an offshoot of dadaism.

This exercise reminds me of the recent ghosts of war images used to remind people of the atrocities that are being forgotten. The collages of every day scenes imbedded with war time photography is a stark reminder that our landscape hides the evidence of our past.

Seth Taras

The collection of images below are from an instagram artist called urugallen.

I find these images as startling as the ghosts of war images due the artists attention to detail in the images he selects. They have similar storylines as Martha Rosler’s work, however the clean lines between images seems to add the immediacy of Kennard’s work.


People holding Red Leave posters being force fed right wing propaganda through foie gras feeding tubes
© Fois Gras by Kekezza Reece

This is my montage based on my belief that no decisions are made in isolation. We all make decisions based on our assumptions and perceptions. We are surrounded by information all the time, even if we choose not to buy newspapers, watch the news, and view adverts. We are still bombarded as we go about our daily lives. This force feeding of views and opinions, wrapped up as news, has now become so endemic in our mainstream media that it is hard to find the true facts in any article.

The Road, exercise two.

So I made notes in OneNote. Hope you can read my crappy writing. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

He pushed the cart and both he and the boy carried knapsacks. In the knapsacks were essential things in case they had to abandon the cart and make a run for it. Clamped to the handle of the cart was a chrome motorcycle mirror that he used to watch the road behind them. He shifted the pack higher on his shoulders and looked out over the wasted country. The road was empty. Below in the little valley the still grey serpentine of a river. Motionless and precise. Along the shore a burden of dead reeds. Are you okay? He said. The boy nodded. They set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire.

the-road-by-cormac-mccarthy.pdf

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Exercise one.

I had to start with researching other narrative styles.

First Person = I

Second Person = You (DnD/adventure games)

Limited Third Person = He/She/They, but limited view of just that character.

Omniscient Author = All seeing overlord

Unreliable Narrator = suspect assumptions

Observer Narrator = witness, not a character.

Changing the Narrator.

I pushed the cart and both the boy and I carry knapsacks. In the knapsacks are essential things in case we have to abandon the cart…..

By changing to the first person the story becomes present tense. I tried to write in the past tense but the urgency of the story became lost.

I tried to write second person, but my brain became overloaded and fizzed.

You push the cart, and both you and the boy carry knapsacks. In the knapsacks are essential things in case you have to abandon the cart…..

Again the tense has switched to the present tense. This time the reader feels directed, like a puppet.

Changing the narrator.

I reread the snippet and found that there’s a loss of control if the third person narrative is from the boy’s point of view. In the slice of story the man is clearly in ‘control’ of their actions with the boy following.

As for the choice of omniscient narrator, I find a detachment from the story, voyeuristic in its approach to the characters. Without reading the rest of the story I find it hard to deduce why. There are nudges towards some impending threat, so I presume it’s so the reader can remain outside of the story?