6/4/20 – TRAVEL ADVERTISEMENT/GRAPHICS
I was thinking about how I could output my poster designs, which lead me to thinking about all the graphics involved in travel marketing and advertising. From the signage as you leave the plane, to the safety, instruction card in the seat pocket, boarding pass, flyers, branded coffee cups, uniforms, items in duty free etc. All these things go into creating an image of your destination, as well as your method of getting there. I decided to look at some examples to inspired perhaps developing some of these outputs, and branding self-isolation and a more well-rounded holiday destination through the use of graphics and illustration.
Although airline safety instruction cards don’t capture the essence of the location, I think that they are an interesting piece of graphics that communicate the transition of location, and are a piece of iconography that is associated with travel and arriving and exploring a specific place. The design is generally kept very simple and clear, with a lot of thin outlines, bright block colours and with a logo usually placed at the top left.
Another piece of iconography is a boarding pass, again this communication the transition of one place to another. These are a lot more simple, mainly made up of text, however I think the use of text here would be very interesting in communicating the significance of staying at home.
These are all examples of advertisement of travel and destination in airports and train stations. These make use of photography, illustration and carefully used graphics. Aspects which stand out to me is the use of a continued colour scheme and visual language. If I continue the visual language from my poster design, then I will have created a whole ‘brand’ for the location that is my home.
30/3/20 – SAUL BASS
Saul Bass (May 8, 1920 — April 25, 1996) was a graphic designer and filmmaker, perhaps best known for his design of film posters and title sequences. What stands out to me in Bass’s work is his lettering. The lines are not always straight, with very human slants to them, looking like they are hand-drawn or cut out of paper. I really like this effect I think it has a really successful look to it that would be perfect when paired with tongue in cheek phrasing. It also has a scrapbook look to it which reminds me of making do with what you have at home, which is exactly what I am doing right now and fits the context perfectly.
30/3/20 – JENNIFER BAER
When I was researching poster design associated with the current pandemic, I came across Jennifer Baer, who is a graphic designer and illustrator from California, and who recently put out a series of poster designs that are very similar to what I set out to do. What I really like about her work is the bright colours paired with the humorous text, I think it communicates the current self-isolation situation. I am inspired by her work and I want to continue this concept, but without directly copying it. I was hoping to make posters that are personal to my family’s experiences in our house, and things that I have picked up on in the last couple of days.
30/3/20 – POSTER DESIGN
One thing that I touched on last week was my interest in the use of graphics and type to communicate the coronavirus. I was looking at the huge range of posters online posted by the NHS, available for businesses and public spaces to download and print and put up outside their establishment. I was thinking about how this could relate to my work that looks at location, culture and the essence of a space and thought about a specific genre of mid-century travel posters. What if I combined the context of the coronavirus and staying at home with posters that advertise elements of a space? For example, the posters often list elements about a place that makes it sound appealing, like waving a magic wand over the shitty bits. I do want my posters to still be quite dark though so I could advertise the shitty bits of staying at home but in a bright, exciting visual way, like travel posters.
25/3/20 – UNITED NATIONS AD
“The United Nations' World Food Programme has unveiled a poignant, hard-hitting cinema ad created by BBH founder Sir John Hegarty that highlights how children's voices are being lost to hunger around the world. The ad was unveiled at Cannes by SAWA, the global cinema advertising association, which will push the film out to movie theatres around the world from this September. The black-and-white film shows a choir of children in the rubble of a war zone, sweetly singing "How can I tell you?" by Cat Sevens—but as they sing, one by one they gradually disappear until just one voice is left. It ends with a call to action to donate to wfp.org and save a child's life.” https://adage.com/creativity/work/united-nations-world-food-programme-feed-our-future/2179651
Although this film has an incredibly emotional tone, there are visual elements that interest me. This is also an appropriate link in my opinion to the way the world is currently in crisis, and our prime minister compared the current situation to ‘wartimes.’ The way in which the children gradually disappear is a visual device that stands out to me, especially as they are placed in an abandoned, damaged and derelict location. I think it would be interesting to combine this with animation. Perhaps as well using colour to transition each silhouette to signify they are about to leave? For example, if a figure slowly turned from a cool to a warm tone before disappearing? (Perhaps a morbid reference to increasing temperature and sickness..
FEED OUR FUTURE AD
25/3/20 – LEN LYE
“Len Lye (1901-1980) was a film director and an animator. Born in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1901, Lye began to develop a style of art based on 'doodling' from an early age, which stirred his interest in the 'pre-rational'. He was deeply interested in movement and wanted to portray kinetic energy within artistic works; he also drew on aboriginal art, which for Lye again represented a 'pre-rational' artistic tradition. He moved to London in 1926 and soon joined the Seven and Five Society, a modernist group of British artists. Before long, he was exhibiting with this group, but he was dissatisfied with the static visual medium and began to make experiments in animated film, which more closely fitted his interest in movement.” http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/446754/index.html
I looked at Lye’s film ‘Rainbow Dance’ in part 1 of the course and was reminded of the film when I started to experiment with animation today. What I like about his film is how The colour, movement and form are all elevated by the use of sound, the sound is a traditional, horn instrument-based piece of music that creates somewhat of a military atmosphere, ultimately adding intensity to the array of colour and shape and a franticness to the dancing. Yet in the music there is also a fun, light-hearted, upbeat tone to it, making the synchronisation of colour and pattern exciting to watch. Lye makes use of layering unconventional patterns, textures and images in order to play around with context and narrative – something that I could combine with my theme of isolation and photographic references of the city.
23/3/20 – KUMI YAMASHITA
Kumi Yamashita is a Japanese artist who is particularly known for her work using shadows to create images. She does this by casting light on seemingly-random objects to create surprising shadow art. At first glance, her work may appear to be the silhouettes of people, but look closer and they are actually an assortment of wood blocks, fabrics, sheets of paper or aluminium and stainless steel plates attached to walls, which she shines a strategically-placed light on at just the right angle, thereby transforming simple, everyday items. What interests me about this process is the use of random objects with light to create images and communicate a message, as we have been advised not to leave the house so it’s hard to gather materials. I could use objects around my home to experiment with shadow and combine it with other mediums such as moving image, photography and audio.
21/3/20 – YOUR UNCERTAIN SHADOW
Olafur Eliasson’s work ‘Your Uncertain Shadow,’ which he started in 2010 and has toured around various galleries, features coloured lights placed on the floor combined to illuminate the wall with a bright white light. The audience’s shadow is then projected, by blocking each coloured light from a slightly different angle, in a series of colours. This effect really makes me think if ancient sculptures that feature a long piece of marble depicting an elaborate scene with lots of characters, a snapshot of life. I think the combination of colour and shadow would be an interesting thing to experiment with on a small scale, as I am stuck indoors during this isolation period.
21/3/20 – LAUREN STEVENSON
Illustrator Lauren Stevenson has an extended project going in which she illustrates key elements of her day, every single day. This would be a good way to keep track of this confusing time in a visual way, perhaps not through illustration but another medium, and to also communicate life in a different type of isolation. Another aspect of her work that is interesting is that often she uses block colour and form to communicate the presence of a figure. The figures then appear as shadows, and remind me, as I think of how I can adapt elements of this into my work, of memories of a life that was once there.
21/3/20 – HIROSHIMA SHADOWS
“The United States detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively, with the consent of the United Kingdom, as required by the Quebec Agreement. The two bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians, and remain the first and only uses of nuclear weapons in armed conflict.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki
These images were taken sometime after the Hiroshima nuclear bomb was dropped in 1945. The blast was so intense that eerie shadows of incinerated humans were left imprinted on steps, pavements and walls. The haunting impressions were caused by the heat of the explosion, which changed the colour of surfaces – hence the outline of bodies and objects that absorbed some of the blasts were left visible. These shadows represent the presence of life in a place that was then after abandoned. The death-toll and isolation right now, in the current COVID-19 pandemic are being compared to ‘war-times.’ Therefore this idea of communicating the loss of a community, and the population decline of a place would be suitable if presented in this kind of visual format – through shadow and markings.
17/3/20 – CONFESSION OF THE TOWN
These miniature urban landscape sculptures by Ryszard Tobianski are interesting to me. Each one is completely different but has the same recognisable characteristics throughout. These sculptures are made of wood and stone and the scale is about 0.8 of life-size. What I really like about these is the way the buildings are formed together in an abstract way, that almost condensed it down into one continuous form. I think this process would work really well in an abstract sculpture that uses photographic imagery rather than detail, accurate illustration and sculpture.
12/3/20 – KATARINA PRIDAVKOVA
This sculpture made in 2015 by Katarina Pridavkova captures an entire street of homes, communicating a larger community. “The thesis “Grow up “focuses on the perception of newly known surroundings. The emphasis is predominantly on the impression of the surroundings. The aim of the thesis is to invite people to my imaginary world and to introduce them to the atmosphere of installation. The main topic of this work is the phenomenon of being especially an analysis of basic ontological notions.” http://designplusmagazine.com/grow-up-by-katarina-pridavkova/
The lines and imagery in this work are a lot more abstract, with the houses all in a row rather than being stacked up on top of one another. I like this abstract approach, as it feels more like a memory or an experience rather than a geographically accurate depiction. This abstract approach is definitely something that I want to look into further.
11/3/20 – JOSHUA SMITH
For this next stage of my project, I wanted to look at ways I use photographic evidence of my experience of a place, in 3D form. An example of creating a 3D form that is representative of a location is Joshua Smith and his work creating miniature sculptures of urban buildings.
“Working at 1:20 scale, artist Joshua Smith builds in-depth works that capture the layered existences of urban environments in cities such as Hong Kong, Sydney, and Los Angeles. His miniature buildings showcase the details and detritus left by the diverse population of each city, bringing in elements of the city’s workers, inhabitants, and street artists. These marks can be seen through heavily graffitied exteriors, and thoughtful additions like a small table on the roof of one building with takeout food from the tiny Chinese restaurant below.” https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2017/03/miniature-urban-buildings-by-joshua-smith/
Although these sculptures capture a building, rather than a larger community or town which is more what I would like to do, I really like the detail he has created to communicate this life of people living on top of one another. When this scene is pulled out of context and placed in a gallery space it is really quite powerful, as the audience gets to walk around and explore the building from a different perspective than those living in it.
6/3/20 – Landscape paintings
For the background illustration of my photographic outcomes, I was inspired by these two paintings. I really like the moody atmosphere and colour scheme in these landscape paintings with the stormy skies in the background.
Gustave Doré, Souvenir of Loch Lomond (1875), oil on canvas, 131 x 196 cm. National Gallery of Canada. Photo © NGC
A Stormy Day, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, John Muirhead (1863–1927)
5/3/20 – Trainspotting
In order to look into Scottish attitudes towards identity and having a voice, I was reminded of this scene in Trainspotting, directed by Danny Boyle in 1996. Trainspotting is a film about a group of heroin addicts in an economically depressed area of Edinburgh. The film explores urban poverty and squalor in Scotland. In my opinion, this film is the most accurate representation of real Scottish identity, as most other successful films based in Scotland, such as ‘Braveheart,’ ‘Mary Queen of Scots,’ or ‘Brave’ is based in the past, filled with historical inaccuracies, or exist in fantasy. Trainspotting is raw and has an honest perspective. In the film, the character of Mark Renton, played by Ewan McGregor, rants about being Scottish. Today this monologue is a common reference:
Mark Renton: It's SHITE being Scottish! We're the lowest of the low. The scum of the fucking Earth! The most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some hate the English. I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are COLONISED by wankers. Can't even find a decent culture to be colonized BY. We're ruled by effete assholes. It's a SHITE state of affairs to be in, Tommy, and ALL the fresh air in the world won't make any fucking difference.
“Stunned Edinburgh University lecturer reported to police for quoting Trainspotting
A tutor responsible for attracting students from different backgrounds to Edinburgh University found himself accused of a hate crime – after quoting Trainspotting.”
Trainspotting (dir. Danny Boyle)
2/3/20 – Metahaven Scarves
Because I want to drape my piece of fabric when it is finished, I decided to look into examples of draping in art, to draw inspiration for form and how it communicates to the audience. Metahaven is a research-focused design studio founded by Amsterdam-based Vinca Kruk and Daniel van der Velden. Metahaven's work - both commissioned and self-directed - reflects political and social issues in collaboratively produced graphic design objects and media. Their scarf project is really interesting to me, in the way in they combine colour and text to communicate a political issue involving WikiLeaks. The scarves are draped over the model’s head, perhaps to communicate the concept of anonymity on the internet. This is a device I could adopt, by wrapping the tartan around the face of the model to stifle their voice, making a statement about the overruling nature that the United Kingdom has on Scotland.
2/3/20 – SCOTLAND HAS NO VOICE WITHIN OR OUT WITH THE UK
This is an anecdote from the website ‘Progress Scotland.’ The site is described as “Progress Scotland commissions public opinion polling, focus groups and other research to better understand how people’s views are changing in Scotland.” The anecdote and the site as a whole is highly political and quite controversial. I don’t want to get into the referendum as that is a black hole of political discussion that I am not trying to discuss my piece of work. I want to focus on the people’s attitudes and feelings towards change, and this anecdote is highly useful for communicating a sense of the emotion and anger that people in Scotland have not only been feeling in the last four years but for hundreds of years.
2/3/20 - Inward migration 'needed to boost Scotland's population'
This article posted on BBC Scotland in October 2019 titled: ‘Inward migration 'needed to boost Scotland's population'’ provides an interesting insight into the effect of migration and population decline in Scotland. For the next part of my project, I want to look at Scotland as a place of neglect and a place where people feel that their voice is not being heard. Although there is a huge effect on Scotland due to migration, as people neglect their homes looking for opportunities, with fewer people moving into Scotland due to Brexit, I wanted to focus on the aspect of attitude, and how Scottish people feel against the rest of the world. These statistics and data, however, are really important in understanding the real picture of Scotland’s social, political, economic situation, to give context to the information I want to receive from the individuals.
27/2/20 – Heygate Estate
The Heygate Estate was something that Michelle mentioned in my progress tutorial today, so I wanted to look into it a bit more and explore some of the work made in response.
The last days of Elephant and Castle's 1970s housing project
“In its prime the Heygate Estate housed thousands. Now it stands semi-derelict, almost empty, and will soon be demolished. Joshua Surtees, author of the London Loves blog, meets some of the last remaining tenants.” https://www.theguardian.com/society/gallery/2010/mar/26/elephant-castle-housing-estate-heygate-redevelopment
According to this article, written by Ian Steadman, the Heygate Estate was a housing block constructed in the 70s to house more than 3,000 people in Southwark. Yet months before it was eventually demolished, there was only a handful of people still living there, as it lay desolate and empty. It was even known to the locals as “mugger’s paradise.” Steadman writes that: “Two decades later, its broken lifts, broken lights, piss-soaked corridors and violent crime came to signify everything wrong with the post-war approach to social housing and urban design.” Steadman highlights the problem with regeneration, and how it affects the city as a whole: “Regeneration schemes that push the existing community out to neo-banlieues and replacing them with white-collar professionals and students.” He concludes with the powerful statement: “The people affected by these phenomena are the last people to be given a say in, let alone be given control of, their lives. God forbid they should ever be given a way to choose how their city changes, too.” The lack of a voice is a concept that runs through in these small, neglected working-class communities, this is something that has a lot of potentials to be explored in a visual way.
This 1995 oil painting by Keith Coventry titled ‘Heygate Estate’ reflects the arrangement of social housing blocks which make up the actual Heygate Estate. Coventry began the ‘Estate Paintings’ in 1991 and has created dozens of different configurations since.
The Tate website explains: “For these works, the artist reproduces the summary plan depicting the architectural footprint of the buildings on a single council estate at the same scale and in the same colour as represented by the public housing authority on signage near the entrance to each site.” Another really interesting point that is made is: “Coventry’s transfer of these simplified structural configurations to the fine art of painting provides a critique of this mode of representation as well as the contemporary sociopolitical conditions, by pointing to the inherent reductionism of an ‘aerial view [which] neatly resolves the complexity of thousands of individual lives into a few cool rectangles.” This is a very similar concept to what I am trying to portray with the Hackney maps, it’s a really key point to think about these lines and shapes as a reflection of people’s lives, history and experience, which I think makes it all the more powerful.
27/2/20 - Welcome Collection: Living with Buildings
Running from 4 October 2018—3 March 2019 and featuring works by Andreas Gursky, Rachel Whiteread and Martha Rosler, as well as buildings designed by Goldfinger, Lubetkin and Aalto, this exhibition examines some of the ways in which architects, planners and designers influence our health, self-esteem and ideas about society. Due to the similar concept between this exhibition and my project, I wanted to look at the way the work is displayed and composed in order to draw inspiration for the output method of my work.
This photograph by Andreas Gursky printed so large and monumentally, really highlights all the details of the image, and the scale of life and community that can come from a space that has been socially and politically ‘left behind.’
The film ‘Royal London’ captured the demolition of The Royal London Hospital in 2018. The film was projected into a dark box of a room. This seemingly creates the feeling of being inside the space as it is demolished, perhaps communicating to the audience a shared feeling of dejection and abandonment.
(Caption) “Wealthy businessman Charles Booth was shocked to discover that 35% of Londoners lived in extreme poverty. His map shows extremes of “wealthy” areas and “vicious, semi-criminal” areas: his classifications imposed a moral judgement on those living in the most deprived conditions.”
Allowing the audience to look over and analyse the information displayed graphically to them is a simple way to communicate the intricacies of the message and also draw interest into your work. When something is lain out horizontally is also feels more interactive, as it is easier to read.
27/2/20 – The Barbican Centre
As I was planning my on-site project at the Barbican, I wanted to explore the history of the Barbican’s construction in more detail. According to the Barbican archive, the Barbican was developed from designs by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon as part of a utopian vision to transform an area of London left devastated by bombing during the Second World War. However, it mainly focussed on the history of the space as a cultural hub, I wanted to learn more about the housing aspect of it. The Barbican Estate is a residential estate that was built during the 1960s and the 1980s. In this article by Colin Wiles for the Guardian he writes: “Flats in London’s privately-owned Barbican go for £4m, while four miles away a similarly iconic social housing estate is set for demolition.” [https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2016/jan/13/brutalist-housing-estates-private-barbican-social-london]. “Last month I cycled the four miles between two of London’s most iconic brutalist housing estates, the Barbican and Robin Hood Gardens. Both were designed by eminent architects around 40 years ago. Both have been praised and condemned in equal measure. One is a private estate and one is social housing.” This point that Wiles makes is interesting, how perhaps it doesn’t matter what the building is like, as soon as the upper class decide something is trendy, they can kick out the working-class residents and up the price tag. This is something that is happening all over London it seems, which is resulting in a transitional phase of neglect for buildings waiting to be taken over.
24/2/20 – Abandoned places in Sunderland
This website is really great for pointing out abandoned locations across the UK. Some areas that stand out to me in Sunderland, which I could go and visit and photograph, include the Season Delaval Hall, the Orphan Asylum and an abandoned council house block of flats.
26/2/20 – Nowhere
“The poet, writer and performer who grew up in social housing in Manchester performs a specially composed poem in response to issues raised in the documentary Dispossession: The Great Housing Swindle”
This poem is another powerful source that I came across, it helps me to understand the emotion and personal experience associated with urban abandonment. It’s important to me to really understand these experiences, as it isn’t something that I can relate to as I have never lived in this situations/locations and I don’t want to be taking advantage of people’s stories.
26/2/20 – Hackney
These two articles are really useful in understanding more about the housing crisis and urban abandonment that is happening in practically right outside my door, in Hackney. I think that this is the area that I would like to focus on primarily for this Barbican project, as not only is it down the road from the Barbican, there is a lot really powerful information and text sources. For example, with the remaining residents at Marian Court being all along in a council building is a strong image, of being left behind and isolated, yet still being a beacon of life and community within their singular family.
25/2/20 – Derelict London
This site is a really great source of information for locating interesting abandoned sites across London. It is self-described as “an unusual photographic portrait (of over 7750 pics by Paul Talling) of the nation's capital.’ The author, Paul Talling, accompanies each location with a description as to why it is abandoned which is incredibly helpful. For example about this abandoned site in West Hendon, Telling writes: “Back in 2011 I did some work on this housing estate. As secure tenants passed away or simply moved on by choice the council permitted the housing association to rent out those vacant flats on short term tenancies at full market rents via a local estate agent. Maintenance on the doomed estate was kept to a minimum much to the concern of both the old and new tenants alike. It was said that some of the newcomers were not well vetted resulting in antisocial behaviour.”
I would like to visit West Hendon and see if it still exists in the first place, as there isn’t a lot of current information about it. This would be a fantastic place to document through photography the effect that complete abandonment has on an environment.
25/2/20 – Property Vultures
Property vultures are set for a killing on council homes
The rich plan to snap up even more public land at the Mipim UK 2014 property fair and make council homes even more scarce for the poor, writes Dave Sewell
Tue 30 Sep 2014
This is another really useless article for understanding the extent of the housing crisis in London and providing some contrast to the “glitzy champagne receptions and invite-only lunches” that it describes. It also names out key figures that are guilty when it comes to the housing crisis, such as Eric Pickles, and Boris Johnson, which is helpful in communicating more of a political statement in my work further down the line. For now, this article is a really useful text source for the graphics of the estate maps.
23/2/20 – Sunderland Housing Crisis
This article by Debra Fox details the reactions of people living in Sunderland to the new decisions about housing from the local council. Sunderland’s housing situation has a history of complication, with many houses being left empty as they are too expensive. In Sunderland, over a third of children are living in poverty. In the article, many of the people interviewed complain that the money isn’t being put into the development of shops, schools, hospitals and small businesses, therefore rows and rows of these homes stay empty with no build-up of community happening around them. I was inspired to look into this when my sister’s girlfriend, who is from Sunderland, mentioned the number of abandoned areas within Sunderland and suggested I go and explore them for myself.
22/2/20 – The Lake Isle of Innisfree
William Butler Yeats was a world-renowned poet born in 1865 in Sandymount, Ireland. In his lifetime he wrote a wide range of poems about his love for Ireland and the Irish countryside. These are a good text source for describing the atmosphere and mood of a location in a positive way. These quotations accompanied by imagery of the location would create a powerful image, for example in the style of Willie Doherty. It would also be an interesting contrast to combine the imagery of a modern and politically divided Ireland with this traditional language, to show a passage of time and circumstance.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Willie Doherty. Fog: Ice / Last Hours of Daylight 1985 black & white photographs mounted on aluminium with text, diptych 122 x 183 cm / 48 x 72 in
21/2/20 – Local council
Going back to my research in preparation for visiting Dunmore, I wanted to look into local council leaders and see if I could organise a meeting with them. I also want to look into their policies to explore potential questions that I could ask about the town and about the population decline crisis.
I came across this candidate, Joe Sheridan, who is running for council in County Galway, from Dunmore. His policies are:
- Support for country living and town rejuvenation (farming, housing, planning, broadband, sustainability).
- People’s financial wellbeing (jobs; mortgages, cost of childcare/education, food innovation and SMART living)
- People’s mental and physical wellbeing (community health, erosion of services, isolation, commuting).
- 'People Positive’ recreational facilities – walkways, cycleways, amenities.
- Support for carers and those cared for in the home.
- Respect for people & property.
Sheridan would be a really good person to interview for my statistical information about the town and the area. He would probably be very willing to sit down for a filmed interview seeing as he is running to be elected and would benefit from the suggestion of ‘free press.’
Dunmore Community Centre
The Dunmore Community Centre would also be a good place to explore and talk to people. There is no website, so once I have got my questions lined up I should give them a call and book an appointment to speak with one of the community leaders. The problem with trying to gather information on such a small town, is there without me being there it is challenging to find information online or in archives in London, especially as the town is culturally somewhat not very prolific.
20/2/20 – Suspended Glass Sculptures Visualize Cities’ Population Booms
“It might seem like a leap, using gorgeous studio glass objects to convey potentially alarming data about population growth, but Norwood Viviano pulls the two together very persuasively. “Global Cities” (2015), his installation at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, translates graphs that register explosive growth in urban populations around the world — from New York, Rome, and Mexico City to Sydney, Lagos, and Shanghai — into the varying contours of glass pendants.”
Viviano has used a really interesting and physical way to demonstrate population growth, through measurement and mathematics, whilst also thinking about creating a visceral form. Perhaps the use of glass represents the fragile balance of population in the world, and how numbers can affect the systems of other locations. I could think about a way to create a physical experience that demonstrates the opposite effect of population decline, instead of growth as explored by Viviano.
19/2/20 – Population Decline
In order to understand the effect of population decline in small towns across the UK and Ireland, I wanted to look into real statistics and census sources. Using numbers and perhaps quantifying them into a physical amount could be a really interesting way to communicate a sense of abandonment and isolation. This article written by Charlie Taylor explains that “Small towns in Ireland are suffering a long-drawn-out decline with urgent action needed to ensure their survival, according to a new report from the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI).” In Ireland, almost 600,000 people or 13% of the population live in towns of between 1,500 and 10,000 residents. However, the population in the larger cities is growing at a rate of about 74%, wherein these small towns it sits at approximately 13% in the last 20 years.
In the article, this interview with Steven Purcell sums up the situation in a concise way, explain why this population decline has happened. “The crash when it came pushed more people towards our main cities – or emigration – while the impact of out-of-town shopping centres exacerbated the challenges faced by businesses in small towns. In fact, many small towns are dealing with the legacy issues associated with these centres as they often put small local businesses out of business – leading to vacant buildings – before becoming vacant themselves due to lack of critical mass and their peripheral locations,” said Mr Purcell.”
8/2/20 - Mysterious and deserted: Explore Britain’s abandoned villages using Google Maps
This is another interesting article, by Chris Smith, those details locations in the UK of abandoned towns and villages. Many of these towns still have structures that are standing, some were deserted due to unfit living conditions and others have been converted into military training camps. It would be really interesting to maybe visit one of these, such as Tyneham in Dorset. Another aspect I could explore is the way that nature takes over a space, when human have no purpose for it anymore.
7/2/20 - A glimpse inside Ireland's historic ghost villages
This article by Sheila Langan, published in 2019, details some of the more historic ‘ghost towns’ in Ireland, and explains why they are now completely abandoned. It seems to be an incredibly popular phenomenon in rural Ireland, with many towns falling victim to migration and social-economic hardships in the 20th century. For example, “Sixty-two years ago, in 1953, the last remaining inhabitants of the Blasket Islands were permanently evacuated to the mainland.” It seems with these towns it was quite extreme, with the entire town eventually being evacuated and the buildings left to rubble, but perhaps that’s the direction that Dunmore is going? It would be really interesting to talk to my older family members who were growing up in Ireland during the transition and evacuation of these small communities, and pick their brain about what happened and if they visited any of them. It would also be interesting to visit one myself, and compare footage and photography of the somewhat declining Dunmore, and the completely abandoned ‘ghost villages.’
Langan, S. (2019) ‘A glimpse inside Ireland's historic ghost villages’, Irish Central, 16 December. [online] Available at: https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/irelands-historic-ghost-villages. [Accessed: Feb 2020]
7/2/20 - Scandal of 7,500 council homes lying empty in London
This article explains the housing crisis in London, with a large number of houses lying empty in London. Crerer writes: “Ealing council is the worst affected with 1,051 empty council properties in 2015.” Perhaps before I go to Dunmore, it would be interesting to visit some of these sites in London, to develop my process. I’ve heard a lot of stories about council blocks with only a couple of residents in them, for example, the article states: “It said around 4,000 homes in tower blocks awaiting demolition were classed as empty, even though they were in some cases housing families who would otherwise be in temporary accommodation.” I could explore these sights around London and conduct interviews, to collect audio samples that I could develop into typography.
Crerar, P. (2016) ‘Scandal of 7,500 council homes lying empty in London’, The Standard, 25 May. [online] Available at: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/shocking-waste-of-7500-council-homes-lying-empty-in-london-a3256401.html. [Accessed: Feb 2020]
6/2/20 – Willie Doherty: ‘Border Incident’
Border Incident – 1994
“Willie Doherty is a native of Derry, Northern Ireland. Basing much of his work around Derry he uses photography, video and sound installations to explore the fallibility of human memory and recollection. […] ‘Border Incident’ by Willie Doherty, demonstrates the way our understanding of photographs is informed by the context in which they are viewed and how language supplements the image in the form of title and/or caption. Both images are large, detailed, close-ups of burnt out cars abandoned in the landscape. The straight on camera angle in the photographs adds to the sense that we are being presented with a factual description. Both works are given a political charge because of the use of the words ‘border’ and ‘incident’ in the titles, immediately evoking the violence of Northern Ireland’s recent past and suggesting that we are looking at the aftermath of conflict. However, one of the two images depicts a car that has simply been illegally dumped. Typically for Doherty’s work the signposts offered by the titles misdirect rather than guide.” https://imma.ie/collection/border-incident/
Doherty’s work stands out to me as a really great example of capturing tension within a climate, whilst focussing on inanimate objects within a landscape. I could use this device for Dunmore, by capturing images of abandoned houses against the landscape, in order to communicate the migration and abandonment felt within the town.
6/2/20 – The Girl on a Spacehopper
Girl on a Spacehopper (Byker) – 1971
“This photograph was taken by the Finnish-born British photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen in 1971. The photograph is from Konttinen’s extended series Byker 1969–81, which documents the streets, buildings and primarily the inhabitants of Byker, a working-class community in the north-east of England. Girl on a Spacehopper (Byker) depicts a child in an urban street in mid-air on a hopping ball, wearing a party dress and with her hair flying out behind her. The apparently carefree image provides a poignant contrast with the changes affecting her local neighbourhood that are documented in the rest of the series.” https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/konttinen-girl-on-a-spacehopper-byker-p20433
I am really inspired by this image as it communicates a sense of spirit and humanity whilst also making use of contrast to document the issues within the local community. I would like to adopt a similar approach to portraiture in this project and make sure that the images I am taking of people are communicating these things so that my intention to the audience is clear.
5/2/20 - THE LAST RESORT
The Last Resort 1983-86
“The Last Resort is a series of forty photographs taken in New Brighton, a beach suburb of Liverpool. Shot with a medium format camera and daylight flash, the photographs are an early example of Parr’s characteristic saturated colour, influenced by the American colour photography of William Eggleston (born 1939) and Garry Winogrand (1928-84). Parr printed eleven images from The Last Resort in a large-format edition of five for his 2002 retrospective at the Barbican Art Gallery, London. New Brighton, Merseyside (25) is one of four works from this special edition owned by Tate.” https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/parr-the-last-resort-25-p78703
Martin Parr’s ‘The Last Resort’ photographic series stands out to me as a successful documentation of life. The candid use of flash and garish colours perfectly captures the sense of this British beach style holiday. By capturing my subjects off guard, in the moment, whilst using techniques that really strings as much colour and detail out from the image, it will improve how my images communicate the truth of the space that I am trying to explore.
4/2/20 - OUTER HEBRIDES
Documenting a disappearing way of life in the Outer Hebrides
“Filmmaker and photographer Joya Berrow journeys to the far reaches of Scotland for her latest film, to explore the practice of Crofting—a small-scale agricultural technique based around working communities who share and farm their land in common. “The filmmaker’s story recognises the hardship and beauty that is integral to this rugged existence”
Guided by local crofter Donald John Maciness, Berrow explores the extraordinary and rugged landscape that has been farmed by the crofters since the nineteenth century. The filmmaker’s story recognises the hardship and beauty that is integral to this existence , while also revealing its imminent disappearance as younger generations turn away from this way of life.” [January 14, 2018]
The ‘Portrait of a Place’ series on Nowness is a really great reference point for films that beautifully document a landscape and combine it with a narrative of a community of people. Unlike Anna Rodgers who uses a soundtrack and multiple voices, Joya Berrow focuses on one voice, and the natural folly of the place she is documenting, which has a really peaceful effect that opens the audience up to a lifestyle that isn’t particularly well documented in wider media.
4/2/20 - ATLANTIUM
Atlantium: The Smallest Country in Australia
Directed by Craig Rasmus [May 11, 2017]
This narrative mockumentary short is an example of documenting the essence of a place, in an informative, narrative drive yet somewhat light-hearted and comedic way. By using upbeat music and holding the frame on people for a certain amount of time, Rasmus manages to bring a lightness to something that, if edited differently, could be quite boring and unengaging with an audience. I think, however, the content has to really speak for itself if that were the content that I managed to capture then it would be suitable to go in that direction, if not – then it could be quite disrespectful.
4/2/20 - BEING GAY IN IRELAND
“Coming Out, Being Seen, Making History chronicles the ups and downs of the LGBT community in the Republic of Ireland, from the decriminalization of homosexuality to the victory of Irish gay marriage—passing by a few television classics along the way.” [June 27, 2016]
This short film, about homosexuality in Ireland, is an interesting example of a film that is in informative and compelling, this is somewhat of the tone I would like to achieve. Devices used in this film, directed by Anna Rodgers, include the use of archival footage, montage, multiple perspectives and audio examples clipped together alongside visual context. In terms of soundtrack, it is accompanied by a soft piano track that strings the various audio clips together, which is a nice technique that stops awkward pauses and irritating background noise to be focussed on.