Field, Beyond Fiction: Found Images.

For our Beyond Fiction project, we had to gather and collect different objects in order to create a narrative with them. I visited Jacob’s Antique Market for my research and bought the following items. A few postcards, one depicting a medieval illustration of Henry VIII’s warship Mary Rose, a postcard of Anne Hathaway’s cottage, another featuring a portrait of Mademoiselle Caroline Otero and a postcard featuring the poem The Loreley by H. Heine, translated by Mark Twain.

I also bought an album of cigarette cards featuring English Kings and Queens from 1066 to 1935, and a pack of cigarette cards featuring film stars from the early 20th century, the majority of them being silent film stars.  In terms of a narrative, I haven’t  thought of something that could include all of these objects yet, but my first idea was to focus on the actors and maybe create a narrative where they act out stories relating to the other objects, for example they could be staring in a film or play adaption of The Loreley, or they could be playing English Kings and Queens. My next step will be to research each of these objects individually and then see if I can make any kind of connection between them.

 

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Field, Beyond Fiction: Collage Workshop with James Green.

We started our Field Beyond Fiction project with a workshop in collage with James Green. The main objective of the workshop was to create two collages involving a narrative of a familiar and special personal place of ours, one depicting it in the past, the other illustrating how it might look in the future. I choose my home village as my narrative because of it’s history compared to how it is currently. Though my two collages, I told a story of how Romans once lived where my small village is currently. They built a fort and roman road, compared to how it looks now and how I think it will continue to look in the future, full of nature, quiet and peaceful with very little civilisation. The majority of the images that I used for the collages were taken from The Technique of Wood Engraving by John O’ Connor and The Children’s Encyclopedia, Volume 7.

I really enjoyed this workshop and really like working with collage, even though I don’t do it very often. I continued to create a few collages at home inspired by the workshop using left over images and images of Victorians I had used as research for my Heart of Darkness project. These collages don’t have a particular narrative like the previous ones, but I think they are very open to different interpretations in terms of story.

Folio Society, Heart of Darkness: Final Images

 

These are the final three illustrations that I submitted to the Folio Society Heart of Darkness competition. I was pleased with the final three illustrations mainly because of  I think that the composition and colour of each worked very well and I like the consistency of them. I think that these images also work a lot better than my initial image ideas, and it is very interesting looking back on how my work has developed through this project. For the binding, I just cropped one of my development images and used that instead of any of my previous book binding images and believe it works a lot better and is closer to what I initially wanted to do for the binding.

Final Image 1

Final Image 2

Final Image 3

 

Heart of Darkness: Development Images.

These are development images inspired by the research I did on the Bapende and Mangbetu  people, which I then used as a basis for the look of the native people in Heart of Darkness. The images of the Mangbetu women helped me to develop the characterisation of Kurtz’s African mistress, particularly the description of her helmet shaped hair, which the Mangbetu women have due to their elongated heads. The Bapende people served as an inspiration for the male natives because of their interesting body paint patterns and masks which I recreated using bleach. I also created some rough thumbnails based on my previous images as well as creating new compositions and began to play around with placing the characters in the jungle scenery as well as creating the light and atmosphere with the bleach and ink.

Sketchbook Development Work

These are two images that are improved versions of previous images using a more realistic style and less line work. I think they are a big improvement on my previous images and work a lot better as illustrations for the book but need to be developed further. My lecturer encouraged me to study other paintings to help create my compositions and figure so I looked at a lot of Pre-Raphaelite paintings for inspiration as well as Victorian photographs for the second image. I want to work bigger in the future for this project so that I can have more detail in the image and be able to capture that detail in scaled down, scanned versions of the final images. Also, for the competition, we can’t illustrate a scene from the last ten pages of the book so I won’t be able to submit an illustration for the scene with Marlow and Kurtz’s intended, which is a shame because it is a scene that stood out to my since the first reading of the book.

Folio Society, Heart of Darkness: Initial Images.

We were given this brief as an opportunity to enter the 2014 Folio Society competition to illustrate Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I used a dip pen to draw the images of a ink wash background and then added some light and colour with bleach and watercolours. I found starting this project very difficult at first because I was unsure how I wanted to produce the work, so I used a dip pen and ink as a starting point and to just get some composition ideas.

After reading the book I composed a few scenes that stood out to me and have posted them below. One scene, which involves two women knitting really stood out to much and I produced two different compositions for it. I pictured the black wool they are using to knit with as a representation of the dark Congo river and wanted it to be the main focus of the image so in the first composition I had the black wool weaving in between the two women in a fluid way to foretell the journey of the story. I wanted to emphasise this even more with the second composition with the hands knitting and the wool and the river merging into one.

Here are some more images showing the journey through the Congo river and jungle. I really wanted to play around with using the jungle in the foreground to create depth to the image and give the audience different perspectives and interesting view points into the story.

The final two images depict the moment Kurtz’s African mistress and the natives emerge along the shoreline, another stand out moment of the story for me, and Marlow visiting Kurtz’s fiancée and the end of the book. I like these images because of the contrast between the two and the focus on the two women who were involved in Kurtz’s life.

I wasn’t too happy with the final outcome of these images because I think the style of them doesn’t suit the source material. I found my critique on them very helpful and was told to try not too use so much outlines and work with shapes more and to try to depict a more realistic style and to work with fluidity to fit in with the book more, but I was told that the colour scheme and composition was working very well, particularly in the image with Kurtz’s mistress.

Constellation Week 5 with Cath Davies: Dissertation Preperation

November 8th 2013

The final week of our constellation sessions consisted of us coming up with ideas for our dissertation and how to start the preparation for them. We began by taking notes on how to start out preparation using the column system that Cath taught us. In the column system, we take a case study, for example an image, and then describe the characteristics of it, followed by an analysis of the meanings/connotations of the image and finally researching academic theory on the topic to back up our statements.

We keep adding to the columns as we go along, showing skill in our ability to research and quote academic debates on the subject field. We won’t be the first or only person to write about a certain subject so we have to explain how our research is similar but also how it differs from previous examples.

Cath used examples her own research and interests to help us get an idea of how to go about starting our own. Her research consiteted of the desgins of Alexander McQueen, Japanese designers Kawakubo and Yamamoto and dress defining body shape. We made notes on the extracts about these subjects, again to help us practice for when we need to analyse our own research notes.
We discussed deconstruction, breaking or changing the rules and trashing ideologies within our creative practices and used the Japanese designers as an example of this. Yamamoto created an evening dress made of felt as oppose to silk which moves with your body, felt does not. It’s all about body shape and how clothes can redefine and create new body shapes as well as the different connotations of different fabrics.

For my dissertation, I have decided to focus it on folk lore and fairy tales, something I have been interested in since a young age. I made a few notes on the different areas I could look into such as how they have been told and retold, portrayed and refashioned over time, using reworking’s and retellings from literature and film as examples.
The representation of gender is also something I would look into as well as how it has changed over time, comparing and contrasting it. The different themes in these tales would also be interesting to research such as, good and evil, dark and light, monstrosity and glamour, life and death, children and parents and the hidden meanings and connotations to name a few.
I would also like to examine the sudden rise of popularity of the film adaptions of these tales and how they compare to the film adaptions in the past. Walt Disney’s animation films would play a great part in this and it would be interesting to see how they became the foundation and example for how fairy tales should be adapted into film.
In terms of academic and theoretical research, I would start by reading The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Betteleheim and From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and their Tellers by Marina Warner. I would also look into literary retellings of popular tales, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber being an example, as well as the original stories themselves by The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson.

The five constellation sessions have been a great and helpful start to how I should begin my research and preparation for my dissertation and I shall be using the techniques learned in them to help me with my own work.

Constellation Week 4 with Cath Davies: Phallic Panic and The Vagina Dentata.

November 1st 2013

Phallic Panic and the Male Monster

What is Phallic Panic?

We started this weeks lecture with the study of Phallic Panic, using and extract from B. Creed’s Phallic Panic; film, Horror and the Primal Uncanny (2005). We summarised phallic panic as the following:
Civilisation tires to control nature, females are associated with nature in visual culture while male are associated with civilisation. Male monsters adapt female characteristics, they are affiliated with nature, not civilisation. For example, the werewolf is associated with and control by nature due to the full moon cycle bringing about it’s transformation.
Birth and reproduction are all part of the male monster and it is there female traits that make them monstrous. The source of monstrosity for the male is the female.

Phallic panic is the undermining of masculine order. It is cause by the fusion of masculine and feminine. Women are considered monstrous and otherworldly because they are not like men, masculinity is a construct and is unattainable.
The male viewer believes that if a males body can become monstrous (feminine) then so can his. He is castrated symbolically, this causes castration fear and anxiety and shows that masculinity is as vulnerable as femininity.

The Vagina Dentata

We moved on from phallic panic to study the theory of Vagina Dentata, while continuing to use extracts from the work of B. Creed, The Monstrous Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis (1993). The female genitalia terrifies men, not because the female has been castrated and is missing male genitalia but because she herself has the ability to castrate – vagina dentata.

The theory is that within the vagina are a set of teeth that will castrate the male when he enters the female. The ultimate monstrous feminine is the woman who can castrate men with her body. Vagina dentata exists symbolically, the fear of the female because she is more powerful than the male. This has been evident from the beginning. Eve brought the destruction of man, and an example of the female as the site of man’s destruction. This comes from her ability to use her sexuality to trap him, the males desire for the female body is his downfall. Femme Fatal – the females use of sex to get what she wants. The female becomes more masculine while the male is symbolically castrated. The female body is a sight of anxiety in numerous forms.

We looked at an image by Salvador Dali titled The Ants (1929) as an example of vagina dentata. The image depicts a woman with ants emerging from her body and dispersing all over the image. This suggests themes of death and the decay of the body as well as destruction and downfall, suggesting the danger of females.

Summary of Vagina Dentata extract by B. Creed (1993).

What is it?
– vagina taking form of a woman, represents the power females have.
– suggests transformation and liminality.
– also suggests women as dangerous and evil, femme fatal.
– a duplicitous woman is a source of fear that can be hidden. Also a source of pleasure that will cause the male pain when his guard is down.
– lots of imagery of teeth and gaping jaws
– discusses fairy tales and the female role, Evil Queens, Enchantresses and witches.
-Medusa: phallic woman, snakes also represent toothed vagina, turns men to stone, she stops life, de-masculates and castrates.
– Castration fear: pubic hair hides the genitals, a source of the female castrator. The source of evil and anxiety is hidden.
– Importance of pubic hair, not a sight of desire, any anxiety must be erased. Erasing the pubic hair allows the male to see in and can be interpreted as attractive to men.

Lastly, we discussed how the female genitalia is used as a term of abuse in society by males to de-masculate other males. It’s use is very misogynistic and is based on a fear of women.
We also continued our discussion of examples of vagina dentata in visual culture, one of them being Ridley Scott’s Alien, like last week. In the Alien series, the main alien is often referred to as a ‘she’ and is seen laying eggs, depicting the reproductive systems as a source of terror.
We also analysed a picture by Salvador Dali involving a lobster placed over the female genitals representing the female as being a the castrator not the castrated.
We ended the session by making a brief note on the duplicity of women and the hidden fears and anxieties associated with them such as the vagina dentata.

This session discussed themes that were completely different to our very first session and put both the female and the male in a new and very interesting light. The growing relationship and contrast between all we have looked at is also fascinating.

Constellation Week 3 with Cath Davies: Monstrosity, Abjection and the Grotesque.

October 25th 2013
Introduction to Corporeal embodiment and the grotesque, monstrosity and hybridity and abjection.

We began this week with a quick recap on the work from last week, mainly with liminality. We looked at Elsa Schiaparelli’s Skeleton Dress as an example of liminality and the unseen inner parts of the body emerging into the outer. Schiaparelli explored this by creating a dress that had bones sculpted on the outside of it, bring the inner into the outer.

The Characteristics of Abjection and how it applies to the Horror Film.

We then moved onto analysing an extract from The Monstrous Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis by B. Creed (1993) and took quotes from it relating to the characteristics of abjection. We learned that and abject body is a border that doesn’t work, the inner of the body eventually becomes the outer. Through social rituals we erase the fact that we have abject bodies, we don’t discuss it. The ultimate abjection is a corpse, it decays and results in the outer dissolving into the inner. We continued to work with the extract along with our lecture to find out how abjection applies to horror films.
Discomfort is the essence of horror movies, they deal with the abject body by showing gore, the inside becomes visible. Our bodies are not whole and the issues relating to the body also relate to the villain, their own body issues threaten the bodies of the other characters. We discussed Dracula as an example of this. Dracula is an undead, liminal being, inbetween life and death. He takes the form of a complete human but we are reminded that he is not. He penetrates his victims skin and drinks their blood, making the inner the outer. He is also a shape shifter and assumes many different forms.
Horror films are full of distressing themes but they always revert back to normality at the end and we are presented with a happy ending. The villain which reminds us of our own incompleteness is eventually defeated or killed by the end of the film.

We also looked at the work of Tim Burton as an example of abject bodies. Much of his work features this theme such as Frankenweenie and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Frankenweenie, inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, features a dog who is brought back to life. The dog has various stiches over his body showing an attempt to create a whole, finished entity. The stitching is a reminder of the unfinishedness of the body, the stitching can come lose or give way. The characters of Sally and Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas also have stitching as part of their bodies. Sally is effectively a living doll and is seen a number of times stitching herself back together because the stitch has come loose. Oogie Boogie on the other hand is made from a sack filled with live bugs, the bugs give him his shape and support, and he has no form once the sack is removed.

Hair was a topic that came up in this lecture as well as the connotations behind it. We studied an extract from Hair Without a Head: Disembodiment and the Uncanny by Janice Miller as part of our academic research. We discussed how hair suggests a presence when it is not attached to the body and can been seen in a grotesque way despite visual culture trying to convince us otherwise. Hair can be associated with death because it is dead and leaves the body, it is liminal and relates to disembodiment.
On the other hand hair is associated with glamour and femininity, it is seen as both a fashion item and a fetish. We also discussed how Britney Spears was considered mad by the media and public when she shaved her head and concluded this was because by shaving her hair she lost her femininity.

Monstrosity and the Transformation/ Re-modelling of the body

Monsters are a reminder of our vulnerable bodies. How are we meant to perceive a body that does not conform to societies rules? Do we see them in a positive or negative light? They remind us of the things we do not want to be reminded of in our own bodies.
For this part we looked at Michael Jackson and how the media wanted us to perceive him as a freak. His body was seen as grotesque and he was a shape shifter. It’s seen as acceptable for a woman to alter her body with surgery but it is not acceptable for a man, visual culture sets up the ideals for the ‘perfect’ body.
We discussed how Michael Jackson didn’t allow himself to be categorised, he was liminal, always inbetween and that’s why we see him as a freak. He didn’t allow his body to define his identity and we are not accepting of liminal space in terms of the human body.
A body that does not have a definite form. A lack of form implies we are liminal, unfinished and that we are shape shifters ourselves because our bodies change continuously. Dracula is a reminder of our own shape shifting qualities and therefore must ne defeated.

Gender and Fashion in relation to Abjection.

The female body is different to the male because something grows inside it, it shape shifts. Women’s bodies are applicable to the notion of the abject. The womb houses another, the inner becomes outer.
– Ridley Scott’s Alien: chest bursting scene, depicts unfinished, venerable bodies. Birth and trauma represented throughout Alien as well as the monstrous feminine. It contrast with how birth is heavily regulated in visual culture and it switches the gender roles.
– Menstrual cycle: societies rules about what we do an don’t talk about as well as what we see in visual culture. It’s another reminder of the inner becoming the outer.
– What makes female bodies different to males is viewed as abject.
– All bodies have abject qualities, but there are extra things about the female body.

Alexander McQueen: plastic corset with live worms. Relates to the corpse, the worms represent death and the decomposition of the body. It’s made more interesting because it’s on the catwalk, and is part of an industry which is meant to be making glamour and Goddesses. McQueen breaks these rules by combining glamour with the grotesque.

Lady Gaga’s Meat dress: represents interior on exterior, flesh on flesh. Reminds us of what’s inside of our bodies, the inner is expressed on the outer. People are happy to eat meat but aren’t happy to wear it, why? It’s controversial because it’s real meat, it wouldn’t have had the same reaction if it was fake. It’s another example of a fusion between glamour and grotesque, it was designed as a dress, was worn at an evening event but wasn’t made with an acceptable material. It plays about with issues to do with acceptable and unacceptable bodies.

Lastly in this week we looked at the work of Francis Bacon and how his paintings suggest the inner rather than the outer of the flesh. His work is very self reflective and questions oneself. It depicts formlessness of the body in an unfinished, monstrous way and is a fusion of body and landscape. Bacon refuses to acknowledge the body as a separate entity, and doesn’t distinguish which bits belong to the body and which belong to the background.
You don’t know where the body ends or starts and the inner and outer are combined into one entity. His work confronts things that people don’t won’t to address.

This was another enjoyable constellation session which give us a completely different view to glamour and Goddesses and great content to contrast and compare it to. It continues to be interesting to see the development of the module and how it all comes together.

Constellation Week 2 with Cath Davies: Freudian Concepts, Surrealism and the cultural perspectives on the Mannequin.

October 18th 2013
Psychoanalytic perspectives on gender (Freudian concepts).

In our second week of constellation, we looked at Freud’s concepts castration fear, phallocentrism in visual culture, surrealism in relation to gender and liminality and bodies and boundaries.

We began with Freud’s concept of castration fear, something all men suffer according to Freud and it marks masculine identity. We learned how during the Phallic stage of childhood a boy identifies with his father and becomes award of his body and identity. At this time he often sees his mother naked and becomes confused at the difference of male and female bodies, according the Freud, this is the sight of trauma with causes anxiety associated with the female body. This anxiety is often revealed in adulthood and means that the boy/man faces the threat of losing what defines him as male and masculine.

Freud concluded that the brain finds coping mechanisms to deal with the trauma and that visual culture is a space that investigates these coping methods. The castration fear is denied through the concept of phallocentrism and the phallus becomes a signifier of power with the male make every effort to remind himself of that power.

Phallocentrism in Visual Culture.

We moved on to discuss fetishism and phallic objects in visual culture and how they direct attention primarily to the female, according to Freud. The sight of trauma/anxiety manifests itself in the way the male sees the female. We also studied notes on body boundaries and dress from Fashioning the Frame: Boundaries, Dress and the Body (1998), by D Cavallaro and A Warwick.

Freud believed that the fetish of the male was trying to relay the fear of the sight of trauma by finding ways to replace the females missing genitalia. The adult male tries to focus on the moment before he saw the female genitalia and becomes fixated on what he saw before then, for example the female’s legs or breasts. Society constructs women’s’ bodies in relation to the fetish principle. This explains the preoccupation in art and popular culture with the females legs, breasts and hair.
The hair on the head can’t resemble pubic hair, it would remind the male of the sight of trauma, so its always long, flowing, shiny, soft and glossy.

Similarly, legs are always portrayed as silky, shiny, smooth and soft, the feminine ideal in popular culture. Legs are often accentuated and made to look longer with the use of high heels, and this also makes the sight of trauma further away for the male. It takes the attention away from the bad vibe and focuses and a good one instead, desire and the fetish is accentuated. This all relates to last weeks work on Goddesses and Glamour. The unblemished, ethereal shaping of the female body into a Goddess like figure draws attention to the right places and denies that which is so absent, the male genitalia.

A prime example of phallocentrism and fetishism in popular culture is the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch. Her legs are on show and they are the first thing you are drawn too, the light plays a great part in this. She is holding down her skirt and it almost like a strip tease. It’s considered desirable because we don’t get to see everything, she’s not aware of how sexual she looks and doesn’t know the effect she has on men. Monroe’s persona was characterised by her body and the effect she has, she more secure and not intimidating to the male.

We also looked at Rock and Metal music and movies such as James Bond in relation to phallocentrism. The electric guitar is a phallic object and connotes power, similarly guns, cars and the various gadgets seen in the James Bond series are also phallic objects. Phallic objects are prevalent in visual culture and phallocentrism is a response to castration fear. The notion is that males are insecure so the overcompensate with phallic objects, the more insecure, the bigger the object.

Surrealism and Liminality.

This part of the lecture involved identifying key concepts relating to gender representation in the surrealist movement and involved analysing a sculpture by Salvador Dali. The sculpture is a classical Greek style marble statue of a woman and overall it has a phallic shape with missing arms and its is smooth and shiny, creating and ethereal look. The legs were hidden but accentuated, drawing attention to them, but the most noticeable thing was that the body had been mutilated. The torso, breasts, knee and forehead had been made into a series of draws with fluffy handles. Like all of the surrealists, Dali broke the rules, he was changing the meaning of things by altering the forms of them.

We discussed how the Goddess ideal is somewhat mannequin like. The elongation of the body as well as the disembodiment of it is similar to mannequins, dolls and the art deco style we studied last week. The boundaries between human and mannequin/objects are blurred, this can be seen in Dali’s sculpture, a combination of human and object.
This took us on too liminality, the fusion of model and prosthetic, synthesis and human and non human forms, hybrids and cyborgs seen in visual and pop culture, The Terminator for example. Here we referred to a case study on the analysis of mannequins by M, Keaney (2012).

The extract suggested that clothes and bodies are interchangeable and that they are not separate entities. Clothes are like and identity, they project the inner being in an outer form because you construct/design yourself to look a certain way. Clothing hides the body and present one at the same time – liminality. Clothes emphasise certain parts of the body and hide others, we design our bodies through out clothes. The body is a boundary that separates us from each other and also contains us, they isolate the body, but, our bodies change and containers don’t always work. The inner escapes to the other, sweat for example, this reminds us that were have holes in our bodies, that we are incomplete. Our bodies are vulnerable and we try to hide that.

This was another interesting lecture that both contained and connected with the work from last week but also taught us new things. Its really interesting to see the development of the representations of gender in visual culture and how they’ve changed or remained the same over time, and I am looking forward to seeing how it develops further in our future lectures. I also enjoyed the introduction of the monstrous mixed with the glamour of the Goddess and am also looking forward to see the relationship between them develop.

Charity Project: Save the Elephants, Initial and Final Posters.

These are the final posters I submitted for the Save the Elephants charity campaign. I initially made nine posters all together as I was unsure what was working and what wasn’t and wanted feedback from my critique. I was told to think about the use of space more in the composition of the image and to try and avoid having so much white around the image, so taking my feedback on board, I made the final three posters. I tried new compositions in these three and made the image of the elephant larger and more dominating, overall I really like the effect and prefer these three posters and believe they work a lot better than the previous ones.

My Initial Posters

My Final Posters