16th - 17th February: Tate Modern, Bankside Gallery & V&A
Today marked the beginning of my research for Unit 7. I have chosen the theme of the Rule of Three, but in general, order and the ways in which people find order in their lives when in fact it is all just chaos. In a way, this project will hopefully be able to analyze the different ways in which people respond to the chaos in the universe.
I visited the Tate Modern’s permanent collection today and found that the beginning research for this project was very difficult to find in terms of practitioners. Especially if it is dealing with the Rule of Three in general. I examined different aspects of the work at Tate Modern, from different methods of creating work to the way which order could be found. First off, I found that if I wanted to find three in things, I could find it easily, whether it was intentional or not, which only asserted by proposal idea more, that we try to find meaning in everything.
I chose to do the Rule of Threes because I found it to be interesting that a similar rule found itself across maths, science, literature and religion. I researched into the Rule of Three in general and found myself to be more interested in the more literature and visual part of it. Threes have been noted to make things more interesting, smoother, and persuasive and is only used in speeches or writing. The Rule of Thirds is also a rule in composition, splitting the composition into nine areas and composing a picture along those lines proves to provide a far more pleasing composition than one that is not. I found that this all tied together when I was looking at some Russian propaganda posters in the Tate Modern. A lot of the images were very balanced and along the lines of the Rule of Three composition which I’m guessing makes it more pleasing for the eye and more persuasive which is the purpose of the poster.
While coming out of the Tate Modern, I passed by the Bankside gallery and took a look inside as well. While not a lot of the works were relevant towards order, it was very interesting to note down the different methods of creating images. This gallery included a lot of different types of print making and I found that I really enjoyed the analog feel of them and would like to explore it further on in this project if I can. One which I particularly liked was Steven Hubbard’s House of Cards.
I also visited the Victoria and Albert Museum. However because of the giant crowds, I wasn’t able to gain access into the Science Museum or the Natural History Museum. The V&A didn’t provide me with a lot of information which I could find relevant to my project. However, as we were passing by the stained glass section of the V&A, Suki gave me some history on stained glass art which she learnt in her A-Levels. I learnt that in terms of religious stained glass art, they usually came in threes which I am assuming is the shorted amount of panels needed to tell a story. This reminded me of the story telling arc which also comes in three parts, the beginning, conflict, and resolution. I should research more into things that come in threes.
After starting my research, I’ve come to realise that this topic of the Rule of Three is going to be very broad and difficult to research. I think I will need to try my best to try and research areas in which three play into as best that I can, and then focus in one area which I find to be most interesting and has the most potential.
18th - 19th February: Magnificent Obsessions & Research
Today I visited the Magnificent Obsessions exhibition at the Barbican. I really enjoyed this exhibition and it had a lot to do with my subject. I found it particularly interesting as to how each section of the exhibition was ordered. Prior to today, I had some some research on Sol Lewitt’s work after being introduced to it by Rob. His ordered manner of producing works particularly interested me and the research paid off as there were several of Sol Lewitt’s works that were displayed in Magnificent Obsessions. His Autobiography series captivated my attention and was also relevant to my works. Autobiography were a series of photographs categorized into 3x3 squares of things that were similar. This is an interesting idea that I can explore later on. The entirety of the exhibition dealt with order and the different ways people ordered the things that they collected. It was interesting to see the different yet similar things that were collected together.
In terms of this project, I am still feeling a bit lost and I feel as if I may have bitten off more than I can chew when it comes to this subject. However, I am hoping that as this project goes on, I will be able to find more information which can guide me towards the right direction.
When I returned home, I researched into Carl Andre’s work which was also recommended by Rob to look into. Carl Andre is more known for this three dimensional works made from perspex or wood and come in simple geometric forms. His works are very interesting as he seems to create a rule and apply that into the works that he creates - Sol Lewitt seems to have a similar approach as well. Carl Andre’s works reminded me of MC Escher’s prints which led me to research more into MC Escher’s iconography. The entirety of these works focuses on a pattern that unfolds in the pieces, however, I am unsure if I want to focus on this type of theme when it comes to my work.
21nd - 23rd February: Research & Group Tutorial
Over the weekend, I researched more into things that come in three. I compiled a list together in my sketchbook and tried to visualize some of them to see where I could go with that. However, it seemed like a dead end and I just ended up with images which related to three. There was nothing to tie it all together. I am feeling really stuck.
I did some more research on threes and numbers in the universe, drawing information from several books as well as online research. I found that a triangle is the most stable shape and is often utilized in buildings. An interesting concept which I found in Nature’s Numbers: Discovering Order and Pattern in the Universe, is that there are two theories of nature, one is that the universe obeys rules while the other is that the universe is “flux” or completely random. An interesting quote was “But the world cannot be totally chaotic, otherwise we would not be able to survive in it.” This entire book is dedicated to deciphering the pattern, symmetry and numbers in the universe and it is just interesting in general to examine how everything may or may not have a purpose. In another book, Geometry in Design, under the section titled Cognitive Proportion Preferences, I found that the golden section can be found in things such as Stonehenge or Renaissance art. Gustav Fechner, a German psychologist actually analyzed this preference and found that the majority of people prefered a rectangle in the golden proportion the most. It is amazing how something unspoken can be subconsciously found the most pleasing across all people.
Luckily, we had a group tutorial on Monday with Joao and some of my classmates. It was very interesting and motivating to see other classmates’ work and after presenting my research to everyone, I was lucky enough to receive some good feedback on directions to take my project. It seemed as if I was trying to get ahead of my project without the basic research that is needed and Joao reminded me of this. He advised me to research into all possible routes to take this topic down, before I started to create work based off of it. I was suggested by others to look into folklore or tradition as it relates directly to my subject. This idea, immediately reminded me of knocking on wood, a tradition which even some of my friends exhibit.
24th February: One Day Scale Project
Today’s class was focused on making us begin to work rather than just research. We were required to create a piece of work related to our project and that dealt with scale. At first, I explored several ideas of working with continual multiplication, a theme which I found after exploring things such as the Golden Ratio or Carl Andre’s work. However, the continual multiplication idea wasn’t giving me many ideas that I could work with so instead I tried taking this project down a different route, with ideas from Joao’s suggestion yesterday to look into folklore. I looked into ways in which three were bad in superstition such as lighting three cigarettes in a row was bad luck as the third to get light his cigarette would die. Another superstition which interested me was that in some cultures, taking a photo with three people is deemed as bad luck because the person in the middle is said to die sooner than the other two. I wanted to translate the second idea into some sort of interesting model for the audience to see. As it was a good day today and we were in the Archway room, I wanted to utilize the natural lighting and blue skies outside. At first, I experimented with cut outs of paper and sticking them to the window to show areas of the sky behind the paper. After a bit of experimentation with paper, I decided on an idea of cutting out the outline of the three figures in one picture, then in the second picture have the middle person completely removed from the paper so that their space is simply filled by the sky. As I continued to cut out the outlines, I accidentally cut too much out. But I found through this mistake, that lifting the figures out was much more interesting and made it even more three dimensional. So instead, I cut out the figures completely so that they would stand up and have the cutouts as their shadow.
The next part was deciding on a good way to present this piece. As I had learned through a week in Fine Art sculpture, context is very important when presenting a piece. So instead of just laying it down on the table with my sketchbook, I decided to tie them to the window bars so that they were hanging. The end result created a very interesting image with the blue skies and afternoon lighting. I was very happy with the final piece. Maybe I can try developing this more. Since the beginning of this project, I have wanted to deal with narrative and superstitions seem like an interesting idea.
25th - 26th February: Superstition Research and Presentation
Over the course of Wednesday, I researched more into superstitions which I started to find very interesting. What got me to this point was the my own knowledge of knocking on wood three times when someone says something bad. Researching into this superstition, I found that one of the origins was from olden days when people would go out into the forest and tell each other their secrets, then after they were done, they would knock on the trees to ward off the evil spirits that supposedly lived in the trees. Looking more into superstitions, I found that a lot of illustrators had taken on this topic before as it is one that is quite interesting in it’s narrative. A very key source was the Art of Superstition which was an exhibition held in the Copper House Gallery a couple of years ago by the Illustrators Ireland. It gathered a lot of artists to make their own interpretation on superstitions. Their approach is much more literal and I can start with a literal approach to this subject, then develop it further into something less obvious.
Another great inspiration was from an exhibition several years ago in the Science Museum called Some People Believe by Jordan Baseman. Baseman wanted to examine people’s relationships to objects and the fear or wonder which they may cause (particularly through superstitions). He responded to this by creating labels that were identical to the original ones in the Science Museum and laid them next to objects already existing in the museum. However all these labels were all facts about people’s superstitions throughout history. What was frustrating researching Baseman’s work was the lack of information that I could find anywhere as the exhibition was held in 1999. I tried researching on the school catalogue and online but was unable to find much information about it. Researching more I found a lot of different artists’ responses to superstitions.
As I looked into the origins of superstitions, I found some great illustrations by Diane Sudkya titled Folk in which she created her own fantasy world and has her narrative with the images. I found this very interesting and as a future take on this project. Perhaps I can explore more origins of superstitions and create my own superstition and it’s origin.
On Thursday, we presented out research to the group. Joao suggested that I look more in the origin of these superstitions which is what I am planning to do over the course of the rest of this week and next week.
3rd - 6th March: Tutorial with Rob & Experimentation of Techniques
Today I had my tutorial with Rob. He was able to give me a lot of advice as I seemed a bit stuck with my project. I understood that I wanted to focus in on superstitions, but I wasn’t sure what and how to do it. He suggested that I take a different way of approaching the subject as it is one that is commonly approached in terms of illustration since it deals with narrative so forwardly. He suggested that I look into perhaps a scientific way of approaching superstitions as a contradiction which is an idea that I find interesting. I also asked for his help in terms of image making as I felt like I kept making images of the same nature and it wasn’t very exciting. He gave me a list of practitioners to look into and methods which I could experiment with.
After my tutorial, I researched into monoprinting and bought a bottle of ink. At home, I experimented with creating images with brushes or dip pens in ink which provided more variety in line weight. Monoprinting was something which took a bit more research to understand how it works. I have never done it before and found that I needed block printing ink, plexiglass and a roller. I didn’t have plexiglass so I simply used a piece of glass from a frame I bought and found that it did the job perfectly. I also experimented monoprinting with gouache and watercolor as well just to see what the difference was. I really liked the images that it created and I found that I really enjoy printing as a medium in general for the analog feel it provides.
I also interviewed some friends from traditional Chinese families on the superstitions in Chinese culture. Having experienced some of it myself, it was still eye opening to see how many different types of superstitions that are in the Chinese culture. The overall idea I got from this interview was the amount of pressure which was on the individual to keep the evil spirits away and the gods happy. Wanting to experiment with different types of material, I tried to create some work based off of this pressure which one faces with tracing paper. I looked into some tracing paper illustrations online and found works by Brooks Salzwedel which captured the use of the tracing paper perfectly. There was some form of transparency and mysteriousness in it which I liked.
March 9th: Image Week (Day 1) GIFs
Today began the start of image week. We were told to prepare something over the weekend which we would animate into GIFs and after having spent my weekend researching more into my topic, the basis of superstitions seems to come from the deeply seated anxieties that we all have inside of us. It is almost as if we have a hole that we are trying to fill inside our heads to calm our nerves and think that we are in control of a situation. Something that inspired me was a piece of work I found through my reading from Raoul Hausmann named the Mechanical Head. It is comprised of a tailor dummy head with an absence of life as the only things that it attributes it’s identity to are the things attached to it which are made up of robotic devices. After my interview with my traditional Chinese friends, I took away from it that it seemed to be to be wanting to control something that was out of your control. It was almost as if we all have these holes in our head which we are hopelessly trying to fill. Based off of this idea, I used illustrator to construct an image of a girl with holes in her head and water leaking out. She is seem catching the water in a glass in an attempt to subdue the giant fire that is happening beside her. In class, I changed the colors of the fire so that it would to be flashy and resemble a real fire. I adjusted the colors on separate layers in photoshop and then applied the frame animation from the layers. I then exported the animation into a GIF as Joao taught in class and as I had learnt through the internet before.
Over the weekend, I was inspired by the mechanics of a crayon factory, images which I found through the internet. The overall look of the factory was especially bright and colourful and yet mechanical and imaginary at the same time. I envisioned a place where superstitions were crafted just like in the crayola factory and modelled my own factory system in illustrator after that. The machine would pump out colorful explanations and reasonings for things in life and the people would pass by on the conveyor belt and accept those possibilities because it fills the hold in them.
I didn’t want to animate the GIF frame by frame because it would take too long, so instead I used knowledge that I gained on a previous project using AfterEffects to make the animating process a lot faster. I used AfterEffects to set the path of the boxes that came out and animated it so that the wheel turned and the people would reach the boxes in time. I was very happy with this method because it provided a smoother outcome much faster. I then exported the video and imported it into photoshop as a GIF.
I was quite happy with the outcomes that I made today and looking at other people’s outcomes, I find that I want to experiment more with GIFs later on in this project, perhaps joining photography and my own drawings together to create GIFS. My GIFs all ran quite smoothly, but there was a certain quality to the more choppy and hand made GIFs that classmates such as Brogan made which were quite dainty and attractive as well.
10th - 13th March: Image Week (Day 2) Painting
Today we experimented more with image but in terms of painting. It was a refreshing break from the strenous work that we had done on this project and I enjoyed it a lot. We got to experiment with different colors, and widths and methods of applying paint to paper. I enjoyed today a lot, but I still feel lost on my project. I feel that the works that I produced today would have been better if I focus in more on one subject or image. The works that were more successful in class were ones where you could see a clear theme running across all their images.
I watched the Book of Life, an animated movie which was all based around the Day of the Dead a celebration of superstitions in Mexican culture. I was particularly fond of the character designs covered in different symbols and amulets which represented different things. I then researched into the Encyclopedia of Magic and Superstition on reasons as to why we clothe ourselves and it noted that in the beginning, there could have been a belief that clothing would be able to protect the body from evil spirits and harm. I found this interesting. What if someone was to wear everything that protected them from what that they were scared of? I researched more in amulets and talismans which serve this purpose exactly and found that there were a lot of different ones and superstitions that stood for different things. The three themes/categories which I could split these into were for protection, bad luck, or good luck. Following on with the talismans, I decided create my screen print next week off of this idea.
I asked Joao for some advice and he told me that from the work that I have done up until now, there hasn’t been a solid theme. Judging from my sketchbook, ideas seem to be jumping from one another and not flowing as well. I need to find something inside of this project, pick that, and run with it. After listening to his advice I decided that he was right. I need to find something and run with it. This is what I will work on over the weekend.
17th March: Print Week (Day 1) Screenprinting
My screenprinting templates were cut to resemble hanging clocks. Over the weekend, I designed a character/person who was afraid of death and would cover himself in clocks as it is a superstition that when someone dies you cover all mirrors and stop the clocks. Because of this, he constantly keeps the clocks on himself running so that he knows that he’s still alive. It was my first time using a harder type of lino and I found that it was very difficult to cut and quite difficult to print the image. After consulting some peers, they suggested that I heat the lino up briefly and then try to carve and print it. This way, the lino became much more flexible and softer and was easier to deal with.
It was my first time screenprinting and I found that I liked it a lot. However there is a limit to the screens which I learnt today in that it cannot print things that are cut up too small. Lots of the faces of my clock didn’t come out clearly and I recut a new stencil so that they would show up more. I really liked the look that the screen printing gave in that it wasn’t as controlled and didn’t match up as well. It is an effect that cannot be reproduced digitally which I found quite pleasant. The screen printing process itself is quite easy but I was surprised that a template cannot be reused after it has been removed as it tends to stick and rip apart to the screen.
I then left these to dry in the room overnight. After looking at other people’s screenprints, I would have liked to have another opportunity to create screenprints that already have a subject unlike mine. My screenprints were the background for a lino cut subject, but it would be interesting to approach screen printing as the main subject instead. Today I also learnt to be more careful when I am screen printing as everything has to be marked and registered. On one occasion, I accidentally put down my stencil the wrong way around and the clock faces didn’t match the clocks so I had to redo another stencil. I need to be more careful and not rush myself next time because in the end I end up wasting more time by redoing something that could have been done well the first time
18th - 19th March: Greenwich Visit & Relief Printing
Having been asked to take a trip to somewhere unknown over the weekend, I took a trip to Greenwich with some classmates. We attended the Dark Universe show at the Greenwich Observatory. It was a really interesting show as the projection was to the rounded ceiling providing us with the feeling as if we were actually going through space. After the show we walked around Greenwich and I took some photos which would be used for my relief print. I found the exhibition of extraterrestrial photography to be very interesting and wanted to base my relief print off of that.
It was my first time trying out relief print and I have found that I like it a lot. I wish that we would have had more time and opportunities to try it again. The difference with relief print and lino print is that relief print can create all sorts of textures which I wanted to take full advantage of. Having already stuck the mount boards together yesterday night, I got into the drawing and cutting of the relief prints much faster. The best tip that Umberto gave me was to cut at a 45 degree angle. This way it would be much more stable for the pieces that were left behind and also easier to remove the pieces.
The rest of the day was spent cutting out our designs. I wanted to do something simple that relied more on the textures rather than the actual content of what was cut out so I decided to create a piece inspired by photography I saw outside of the Dark Universe showing. For the light and galaxies in the sky, I only cut half as deep and ripped the top few layers off and gradually less and less so that it would fade to black. I am really happy with my stencil and I cannot wait to print it.
The next day we printed out the relief prints that we cut out yesterday. It was a very fun process and we had a lot of teamwork on our part to get the job done faster. The press which was used is one which I have never used before as I expected a roller. I was very happy with my relief print as it came out but since the ink was oil based it would take a lot longer for it to dry completely. However, I viewed this relief print as just experimentation with materials and it doesn’t seem to connect to my overall project a lot. It was a great experience though and hopefully in the future I will be able to try woodcut which is similar to relief printing.
Some things that I learnt through relief printing were to be careful with the cuts that you make as the mount board is made of layers of paper which can detach from each other when rolling ink on and get caught in the roller. This didn’t happen to me but it happened to some of my classmates and they managed to lose bits of their mount board because it wasn’t attached well enough. Also, relief prints can only be used a limited amount of times as the mount board itself will start to depress through the press. These are tips that I can remember for the future.
I also worked on another lino cut, this time of a girl covered in dream catchers as they are a form of protection against spirits. I asked friends about what types of superstitions or talismans that they keep or kept as a child and many of them answered with dream catchers. Using the same methods as before, I heated up the lino up to make sure that it was easier to cut. I wanted to try printing on different materials so I sourced several different types of paper and hand outs which I have collected. I found that the lino cut printed perfectly onto a sheet of paper designed to look like wood, which was fitting as knocking on wood is a sign of protection just like the dream catchers which the girl is adorned with.
20th - 23rd March: Object Week (Day 1)
Today was the first day of object week. I found myself very lost with my project still and asked Joao to look through the work that I had done over the weekend. He suggested that instead of jumping from one idea to another, I need to come up with a better flow in my sketchbook so that a central idea is able to be seen. He also noted that there wasn?t enough decent research to inform my work which I now realise is true. Today?s project was to focus on creating something three dimensional out of a 2 dimensional template. At first, I wanted to layer paper together to create a tiny there dimensional shield covered in amulets which would protect against evil spirits. However, after my tutorial with Joao, I decided that a better approach would be one where I focus in more on the superstitions themselves, rather than doing my own take on them. Because of this, I instead decided to simply use the research that I have done up until this point and translate it into something. From my research of knocking on wood, which is what begun this superstition topic to begin with, I had found that knocking on wood was a way of seeking protection from the tree gods which lived inside. I then used this as the basis for today?s project. I bought brown paper from the college shop and scored the surface so that it resembled wood and created three trees with gods inside them and a small hole to view the gods. I was not very happy with my final piece as it didn?t seem interesting enough for me.
During the crit with the entire class, mine was pointed out to not be very three dimensional whereas the point of today was to create something three dimensional. I was suggested to make the shadows pop out or anything that was more than just rolling paper and cutting it out. I don?t think working with 2 dimensional nets is going to be something that I will use for my final piece as if I want a much more complicated design, it would be very difficult for myself to figure out the design of the net template.
24th March: Object Week (Day 2)
Today we worked with clay. After my tutorial with Joao, I became much more motivated to do better on this project and researched a lot more into superstitions and talismans or amulets. We were encouraged to make one small object and one big object out of clay. Rob also showed us how to use expandable foam which was extremely interesting. I can?t think of any way in which expandable foam will relate to my project, but it is a medium that I would like to try out more in the future. I really like the textures that it creates and the different outcomes you can get from carving the expandable foam.
Today I worked mostly with air drying clay. I created a small shield (my idea from yesterday) and also a man covered with symbols and with a hole in his chest. The symbols were all good luck symbols which I had researched the night before, ones such as the all seeing eye or the cross. The air drying clay had a lot of problems as it would tend to dry out a lot faster when I started to work with it. However, I solved my problem with wetting a paper towel and either damping my hands or the clay in the paper towel which made it much easier to work with. With the air drying clay that I?ve worked with in the past, they have been made of paper so I assumed that water would help to mould it back together and it did. There were a lot of limitations with the air drying clay and after I had made my things, I tested out some plasticine which classmates had. I found that the plasticine was a lot easier to work with, however plasticine doesn?t dry which is a big problem if I am trying to transport my piece somewhere. If for my final piece, I want to do some sort of stop motion animation, then plasticine would be a good solution. Otherwise, there isn?t a very practical use for it in my opinion.
After lunch, I had my tutorial with Rob and he agreed with Joao?s critique as well. He noted that there wasn?t a lot of conviction in my work and I seemed to be jumping from idea to idea without a lot of flow. I should just pick one thing and focus on it. He suggested perhaps doing more lino cuts and having a series rather than just lots of stand alone ideas. I guess on my part, I haven?t had a lot of conviction because I haven?t come across the one idea that I like enough to continue down. But without a lot of time left, I will need to pick an idea soon and develop it further.
25th - 27th March: Independent Exploration of Object Making
Today was a briefing on Unit 7 and the exhibition which is coming up soon. Hearing that we have to have a portfolio ready by the time we come back has gotten me really worried as I will be traveling over most of Easter break and I hope that I will have enough time to create something interesting. After the tutorial, I went to Archway to collect my relief print and also to collect some plaster .After some work yesterday, I decided to take advantage of object week and work with creating more three dimensional objects. I wanted to try out carving with plaster and having done two weeks in fine art in my diagnostic phase, I knew at least where the plaster room was in Archway. I arrived in Archway and went to the plaster workshop and asked the techinician for help. At first, I thought that I would have to create my own blocks of plaster to carve from but luckily the technician had giant blocks of left behind plaster which no one wanted. I had to saw them up myself to the size that I wanted which I found quite difficult as you had to simultaneously we the saw and saw through the plaster so that it would dissolve some of the plaster and make it easier to saw up. I sawed up four blocks and took them home. After researching online for ways to carve plaster, I found that the lino tools that I had would be enough to carve. The plaster was actually really easy to carve and I slowly started to carve out what I wanted. My original concept was to create three separate god heads with plaster, so that it would resemble greek marble statues. I am going to create one first and see how it fares with the tutors then decide whether it is the right route to go.
Carving the plaster was easy, however planning out which areas to carve were very difficult as it was hard to imagine the figure in a three dimensional piece. It would have been a lot more easier for me if I had made a three dimensional God head first out of clay and then simply model my plaster after that. If I were to continue with this path, I would do that next time as it makes it easier to envision the plaster head. I wanted to create another object for the tutorial tomorrow and as I was flipping through Superstitions by Perter Haining, an image of bottles with ?fast luck powder? caught my eye as they were sold in the past. The image was very interesting and I came up with an idea of filling different bottles with tokens that represented the kind of luck they ensured. I then used some air drying clay that I had left to create little tokens representing the superstitions they stood for, such as a ladder or a black cat. As they dried though, I spotted an old chocolate box that I had kept behind because of the pretty design and came up with the idea of putting these tokens inside the chocolate box as if they were little treats to eat. The little tokens weren?t made with very good craftsmanship but if I were to continue down this idea then I would remake them much better.
27th March: Object Week Critique
Today I had my tutorial with Joao. Everyone in class also got a chance to look at other people’s work and write comments for each other. Many people liked my character studies and illustrations in general and the exploration that I had done over object week. Out of the three weeks, I feel that object week was the most successful of them all.
At my one on one tutorial with Joao, he found the most interesting in the little tokens which I had made. I was really surprised because they were the ones which were not as perfect but I guess there is something poetic and dainty about the roughness of them. Joao suggested that I look into product design and that the chocolates are not such a great approach. People wear tokens and bracelets on themselves so I can try to find a way to represent that but more creatively. He suggested that I look at Japanese products and look into Cabinet of Curiosities for ways of displaying it. Also to look into packaging and have a much more whimsical and less serious approach to my work. One thing that he said which interested me a lot was that when you apply a scientific name to something, it becomes much more important.
28th March - 7th April: Easter Break
I spent over a week of my break in Paris and Portugal so I wasn’t able to get a lot of work done. However, I was able to note down and brainstorm some research and ideas for some final pieces to work on for the exhibition. In Paris, I visited the Paris Museum of Modern Art and Musee D’Lorsay. In the Paris Museum of Modern Art I was able to find one of the Fluxus Boxes specifically one by Benjamin Vautier. Similar to the Cabinet of Curiosities, it displayed a series of objects put together and labeled in a way which I can use for my final. Another great visit was to a taxidermy shop named Deyrolle, I was able to sneak a few photos of the shop which provided great inspiration for the presentation of objects. While in Paris, I was walking on the streets and observing the different objects which people used and sold, ranging from stationery to food. I passed by several flower stands and came up with the idea of perhaps having seeds which you plant and they would grant you good or bad luck. I would like to develop this idea further and work on the packaging of the seeds when I get back to London.
While in Portugal, I visited the Serralves Museum, however I couldn’t find a lot of inspiration for my works, but did enjoy the collection that they had. I also had the chance to visit the famous Livrario Lello & Irmão book store and in there I took down some documentation of the ways in which they packaged their products. On this trip, I thought more into the idea of superstitions and medication which led me to the idea of a placebo and an article I had read before on how multivitamins that we take are essentially useless for our body.
8th - 10th April: Seed Packaging
I arrived back from Portugal yesterday and luckily had all my ideas ready. I came back and researched into seed packaging. I found different types of seed packaging from interesting and new ways to the traditional type. However after much debate, and asking of peers, I was suggested to make the seed packets look the traditional way, that way when the contents of the packaging were actually studied, it would be completely ridiculous yet look very real. Another interesting seed packaging that I dicovered was one by Leafcutter designs based off of the idea that money doesn’t grow from trees. They recreated coins with recycled paper and embedded seeds in the paper. That way, through the planting of the paper coins (eco friendly by the way), a plant would grow out. My original idea was to use the similar concept, embed seeds in paper, however as I thought more of the concept of my work, the seeds aren’t supposed to work as they are just something to calm our minds. So instead, I left the paper by itself. I researched online into how to make hand made paper, that way I could cut the designs out however shape I want them.
The process I found online was one which required soaking, breaking apart and draining together paper. The next decision to make was what type of paper to make. As an earlier definition of superstitions is one in which satisfies our deeply seeded anxieties, I researched and asked fellow family, friends and strangers on the street as to what causes them anxieties. Most of them answered with social media, peers, news and one stranger noted that many superstitions are from conspiracies in the past. This then led me to the most analog form of conveying this information which was through newspapers.
The process of making handmade paper is very simple but I had to find alternate materials and make do with what I had. I used a colander instead of a mesh which ended up taking longer for the paper to dry. I also tried adding acrylic paint into the water in hopes that it would dye the paper, however the next day I found that the red had turned pink and the blue had faded into nothing. Something to note for next time, is to make sure that the paper is broken up and mushy enough or else it won’t hold together as well after it dries out.
The next part of the process was to design the packaging of the seeds. Following along with the information that I found on the Rule of Threes, it’s said to be the most balanced and persuasive so I decided to split all the superstitions into three categories, protection, good luck and bad luck.
Listening to Joao’s advice, I created “scientific names” for the plants, which I saw on several seed packets that I researched. The scientific names were simply a combination of the translation of protection, good luck, or misfortune in Latin.
The next step was to design the plant that would grow out which would encompass the most well known icons for these three themes. The protection plant included wood, the all seeing eye, closed windows and three crows and would be blue. The good luck plant included a rabbit’s foot, two four leaf clovers and two fish heads along with two crows and would be red. The bad luck plant was made up of three cigarettes, one moth, one crow, and ladders and would be dark green. All of these decisions were influenced by earlier research.
My first approach toward the illustration of these plants for the packaging was inspired through some botanical illustrations. However after trying it out, I found that I didn’t like the result as well. My second approach was through lino cut which is similar to some packaging that I found. At first, I tried printing straight onto the seed packaging I designed, but it didn’t come out cleanly. I then asked my classmates for advice and they suggested that I scan it, and place it onto the packaging. I also took this as an opportunity to change the color. I liked this approach much better and did it for all three packages.
I am really happy with the result of these packages, I think that they look very professional. However I’m not very sure if it is visible enough that they are seed packages as I showed some flatmates and they weren’t very sure what they were. I might need to include more visuals for the audience to infer that they are seed packages.
11th April: Zine & GIF Making
I wanted to create a zine or publication as well which ran with the series of this Belief Company. Looking into lots of ways to present recipes was really interesting, ranging from illustrated ones to photographed ones. I wanted to keep the theme the same so I used lino cut again for the images of this “recipe” and “instruction” booklet which included a three course meal created from the plants that supposedly grew out. The instructions themselves were ridiculous and made absolutely no sense which only adds to my point.
Printing out was a bit of a pain, I had a lot of trouble getting InDesign to print out a booklet in the correct order, so instead of wasting my time, I simply mapped out the pages in a test copy and arranged the designed sheets on Pages instead and organized it myself. It would probably be easier for me in the future to learn how to print out booklets correctly on InDesign as the pages get more and more, but with only 12 pages, mapping it out was fairly easy.
As with the addition of the zine, it made it even more difficult for the audience to understand what my project is about, so I decided to make a 3D model as well. I bought some pots from the 99p store and as I was photographing my seeds and making an advertisement for them, I decided to also photograph a hand planting the seed in a pot. I photographed the stages and decided to add other parts in later on the computer to turn it into a GIF. I had several problems as the mini infinity booth I set up was a little too short and dark so I had to individually edit each photograph’s exposure and background so that it would look more professional. It was a tiresome process but it was worth it. I considered using different imagery for the growth of the plant, but decided to use the similar one as the seed packaging for it was easiest for the audience to link the two ideas together. I was very happy with the result and I would like to create at least two more of the other two plants growing out over the next week.
12th April: Multivitamin Making
Despite how much I like my current theme with seed packets, I still want to explore the second idea concerning vitamins and placebos. I researched into placebos and found that in most cases, sugar is used instead of the actual pill. This then led me to create the vitamins with candy. At first, I tried tic tacs, and simply gummy candies. I found a store in Spain named Happy Pills who literally sell candy inside of medical bottles. Following along with the idea of candy, I then tried moulding each pill individually out of chewy candy and found them to be most convincing. The candy was getting sticky with the heat of my hands so I rolled them in powdered sugar which not only stopped them from being sticky but also made them look even more like vitamins.
For the names of the vitamins, I decided on translating again, to give them a scientific name. The vitamins included inside are the different tokens of superstitions which are included in the supplement facts. I had some problems with designing a packaging for the vitamins as I wasn’t sure what approach I should take. At first, I was suggested by a peer to design it as the same vintage feel as my seed packets. However, it wasn’t working and I spent a lot of time on it but it wouldn’t work. So instead, I decided to change my approach and went with a cleaner more modern look. This turned out much better.
Finding the bottles to label these vitamins was a bit of a challenge as the medical bottles I could find were only ones that were sold online and in packages of 500. I went out in search of bottles and found in a supermarkets some glass bottles for a vitamin drink (how fitting) that were perfect. I drained the contents and stuck the labels on. I tried printing onto canvas paper, but my printer would not cooperate so I simply printed onto card first, and photograph it, and if my tutorial proved to be successful in terms of this idea, then I would create a better copy. I also tried filming some pills dropping in hopes of making an advertisement cinemagraph or film, however, I hated the result and didn’t end up developing it any further.
14th - 17th April: Tutorial with Joao and Claire & The Monster Supply Store
Some things to focus on this week and next week is the ways in which I will display my seed packets. I think we both agreed that the seed idea was a much more developed idea compared with the placebo idea which is interesting as when I first came up with these two concepts, I expected the placebo idea to have more depth but it has evolved over time. Joao suggested I hang the seed packets with a pinboard for example but personally I don’t think a pin board will look as great on the wall.
Something that he noted which surprised me was that the advertisement photo of the seeds I took didn’t really convey what the packets were which after some thought I think is true. He suggested instead to take the images of the frames of my GIF as the advertisement/poster instead. He also suggested for me to make a three dimensional model of my plant which I will try doing out of clay. He liked the GIFs and suggested that I make more.
On Thursday, I had a group tutorial with Claire and other students from both GCD and Illustration. It was really interesting to see other people’s works and found that there was a quite a big difference in work produced between illustration students and GCD students. Either way, I got some good feedback in that I should maybe look into either hanging the seed or having them inside a box.
In terms of packaging, Claire suggested that I look at vintage ways of packaging such as through boxes or old cases and to look into old fashioned boxes but the price might be too steep. She also suggested that I look at the Hoxton Monster Supplies Store as the packaging has the same visual language as my packaging. There is a similar tone and message in the products as mine. The next day, I visited the Monster Supplies Store. I am in love with this store. I took many photos of the ways in which they displayed their products and particularly liked the ones inside of boxes. The packaging and message was very similar to mine and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience there. If I had more time on this project, I would create a similar store stand just like that with different products.
18th - 20th April: Additional Designs
I worked in two more GIFs of the leftover two designs. However in order to display them, Joao told me that I would have to get an iPad which I don’t have and can’t borrow. But then he gave me the idea of making it into a flipbook and suggested that I look at Oona Culley’s flipbook works which I really enjoyed. I took the frames from my GIFs and printed them out at ABC printing. The guy told me that I had too little space left at the top of my images so that the flipbook wouldn’t flip out very well so to counteract that I chose thinner paper as it was too late to change it. When I got home, I realised that he was right in that with too many pages, it wasn’t very clear to flip. Instead of having the three plants together in one flipbook, I then separated them into three different flipbooks. I asked my peers as to which one they preferred and they said the three separate ones were more effective. They also helped me to decide that the direction of the flip should be reversed so that it would be easier to flip in general. They also suggested for me to add some form of instructions such as flip me so that the audience could tell what is going on. Without them, I would not have caught on these small details. I followed instructions online as to how to assemble a flipbook and made three of them in preparation for the show.
I also made my three dimensional model out of air drying clay. I had trouble connecting the flower parts of the plant onto the main rabbit’s foot so I modeled the flower around a piece of thick wire and stuck the wire in the rabbits foot to make an indentation. This way, when it dries, it can hold the foot. Showing my peer’s they suggested that I add more than one flower or else it looks like a penis. When placing it in the pot, I had a lot of problems as at first I intended to use rocks that I had in my room, however it didn’t look great. Getting dirt proved to be much more difficult and costly than I expected and when I was going to give up I saw that I had a jar of green tea leaves in my room that I never used. The texture and color was perfect. I filled the pot about halfway with paper towels soaked in PVA and water so that it would solidify then I filled it with green tea leaves and placed my clay model in the middle. It wasn’t very stable however, so I poured the remaining PVA and water solution around the leaves in hopes that it would soak it up and solidify and stick together which it did.
20th - 24th April: Final Touches
In terms of presentation, I went to the wood workshop in Archway and made a three compartment shallow box to hold my packets. It was my first time using the wood workshop and I was quite frazzled to be honest but the technicians did help as much as they could. I had the most problems with nailing as I wasn’t experienced enough and the wood board was very thin. In the end, after sanding the box down, it looked professional enough and I was quite happy with it.
I printed out a few more copies of my seed packets and I swear I now believe in superstitions because the misfortune seed packet had trouble printing multiple times and suffered from water damage and tearing while the other packets were fine. I also made more recycled paper and cut out many more seed shapes.
In terms of this project, I am quite happy with my final outcome although it was totally unexpected from the ideas that I had in the beginning. It does answer my brief and I did enjoy this entire process.