This is my review on the first part of the exhibition Staging Disorder. I’ll post more reviews on the other parts of the exhibition in upcoming posts.
The exhibition starts in a room all painted in a deep blueish/greenish colour. In the main wall you can read “Preparations for an Imaginary Conflict” by Cathy Lane, and right underneath theres a big but short platform with several speakers. There’s a bench right in front of the speakers and when you sit there you fill like in the middle of it. One speaker starts producing some noises, or that’s what I could listen at first. Then I can hear a male’s voice talking about an emergency protocol, his voice sounds like in one of those navy movies when they are in a submarine and there’s a lots of people with radar machines and that kind of stuff; the voice sounds like and old recording. When you find yourself trying to understand what this person is saying another speaker starts spitting out words, this time is a lady. Her voice is calmed and sounds like in an old radio program, she’s talking about the war. And then the other speakers start to make noises, some stop some continue without an obvious pattern, it gets very confusing and chaotic; you can hear bomb explosions and shooting noises, a few screams.
And, you don’t know where to look at or what to do and then I start noticing the walls they have writing on them, a thin line of words in white ink almost at the bottom. Wen you start to read them, Ultimately Destroy, Foreign, Necessary Evil, Degrade, Protect Our Interests, etc… Its like something clicks inside your head and you look back at the tittle and you get it. You feel like in the middle of an “Imaginary Conflict” or like the title says you are being prepared for one.
After reading online about the exhibition in a couple sites such as the CRiSAP website, this piece of work like all the others at the exhibition are from the 21st century, from the new millennium; which even makes more sense because recent war zones only have happened in poorer countries. I suppose for someone who lives in a country that hasn’t been a war zone for a long time it’s quite an overwhelming representation of what would happen if a war started right here in the UK.
I’ve passed through this room multiple times, and before and I hadn’t really payed much attention I just thought why so many speakers and nothing to explain what’s going on. But only after sitting there and listening and looking at the walls, it’s about the experience as a whole. It is an experience on its own.
This is my collage of text and location. The sentence comes from the Staging Disorder Exhibition Catalogue, from an interview by Carlyle and Cox to Yogi-San.
*Referring to a cave where Mr. Yogi-San(person interviewed) hid from US military attacks when he was a kid*
Yogi-San: There were air-raids not only Naha but also at Yomitan airport and Naka airport (now Kadena). All of them were bombed.
Interviewer: I see. So, you came inside voluntarily?
Yogi-San: Yes. This is a place where it was usually too frightening to go inside, but a courageous woman went in first.
The image I chose is one I took from one of the windows in the Tower block building at LCC. You can see part of the Elephant and Castle roundabout and also the Shard and a few other high buildings, it’s a bit foggy. For some reason, these images to me fit together.
“Lecciones” stands for lessons in Spanish and that’s why I thought it was an adequate title. Hopefully, by the end of this term I feel more confident with my writing skills; also, I’d like to be more critical/analytical in my writing.
On today’s lecture by Dr. Mark Ingham we have tackled the topic of photography, which I personally enjoyed. He has talked briefly about the history of photography, and told us to check Wikipedia for the rest of it, do you know that it is as accurate as the Encyclopaedia Britannica?
Anyways, in this post I will mention what mostly got my attention from the lecture.
First of all, that the first photograph ever was taken in 1826 by Nicéphore Niépce, and it’s titled Window at Le Gras, it was taken with a camera obscura, which I knew of its existence before but never went deep into research. If you translate it from Latin, camera obscura means “dark(obscura) room(camera)”, and basically it is a really dark room in a bright day and you make a little hole in one of the walls, et voilà! You can see the reflection of what it is outside. According with history it was first mentioned/thought by a Chinese philosopher in the 5th century BC, and later on Aristotle actually understood its principles, also a Islamic scientist, Alhazen, made similar studies, after all these people and coming to a closest time we find Da Vinci who gave descriptive drawings of how a camera obscura would look like. (Wilgus, 2004) What really fascinates me it’s the fact that the idea of captivating the moment is thousands of years old, and all of that previous ideas were necessary to evolve to what was the revolution, and to what we have today, I don’t know its kind of crazy.
Something else that surprised me was the closeness in time between Daguerre’s and Talbot’s discoveries. They both kind of find a way of showing reality through a machine, both in 1839, and both in January. Daguerre was Nicéphore’s Niépce partner, so it doesn’t surprise me as much because he obviously had the knowledge. On the other hand, Talbot improved the Daguerrotype, by accident he found a way of using some chemical solution over a negative you could get an image, and he called it the “calotype”. (BBC, 2014)
Also, in this lecture we talked about some of this terms: self-portrait, selfie, pose, unposed selfies, etc… And I just can’t help but think that as soon as someone is aware that they are having a photography of themselves taken they don’t act natural anymore. You can act as natural as you can, but is never going to be the same as when you don’t know that the photography is being taken. We saw a collection of images from DiCorcia and at first I couldn’t believe the people in them weren’t aware of the picture being taken; they are an amazing set of pictures where the person on each one of them seems like a movie character, the background and everything around is darker and theres a light around the person, and you can try to think what the person was feeling or thinking in that second, it’s really interesting.
Here are two examples from DiCorcia’s set, these have being taken from the Power Point of the lecture uploaded on Moodle.
BBC. (2014). William Henry Fox Talbot (1800 – 1877). Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/fox_talbot_william_henry.shtml. Last accessed 18th Feb 2014.
Wilgus, J. and Wilgus B. (2004). What is a camera obscura?. Available: http://brightbytes.com/cosite/what.html. Last accessed 30th Jan 2014.
Better later than never, right? So here are my own thoughts on the Typography lecture/seminar/whatever you want to call it, that we had with John-Patrick Hartnett I think he called himself JP…?
I think it was quite interesting actually looking at the history of typography instead of looking at typography itself. It was a way of creating this whole image in my mind, where I can see the letters, but I also now know the what, why, who, where, etc. of them.
Starting with an actual definition for the T-word (I don’t wanna over say T Y P O R A P H Y, you know, so maybe it’s not that repetitive?) we talked about this definition by Bil’ak (2007) “Typography is a craft has been practiced since the Gutenberg’s invention of the movable type. According to the latest Encyclopedia Britannica core definition of typography is that ‘typography is concerned with the determination of the appearance of the printed page’. Other dictionaries, such as Collins English Dictionary from 2004 define the typography as ‘the art, craft or process of composing type and printing from it’.” But this seems quite old to me, I mean we are in the Internet/computer/digital era, and it was quite old for Peter as well, as he also added that inside that definition we should add calligraphy which was made before the 15th century and the digitally created letters.
Secondly, we talked about the Elements of Typographic Style, book by Robert Bringhurst. Also, we looked at Cormac’s McCarthy book, On the Road, where he writes without any punctuation. We cannot forget that type is tied to language, it depends on what you wanna express or mean, a great example is the Gutemberg Bible from 1450.
After all these theory/history/theoretic approaches of the T-word, we were shown some posters, that I will put in the Slideshow below, links will be under that as well.
Bil’ak, P. (2007). What is Typography?. Available: https://www.typotheque.com/articles/what_is_typography. Last accessed 9th Feb 2014.
To start with I will quote a paragraph from the Introduction of Marshall Berman’s book, All that is Solid melts into air; as I was reading this paragraph I could not help but read it out loud, in my clearest and most convincible voice, and I felt like I was believing each one of those words.
“To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world–– and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are. […] To be modern is to be part of a universe in which, as Marx said, “all that is solid melts into air”.”
It felt like such an exhilarating piece of mind from that Berman writer. It made me think that if I don’t feel excited for what is to come my way or what may happen around me, whatever that is, I am not modern I don’t have that modernist mindset. Also, that last Marx quote got me thinking… By solid I understand what is pre-stablished, what is thought or made to be consider normality, so it would be kind of that “everyday” that is expected to be accomplished by the vast majority of us; so, does that mean that what we do in our life is meaningless? because if at the end “that” will melt into air and become “nothing”. Does that mean that everything we do is trivial?
The city was the first place of the “modern experience”, people started moving from the countryside to the cities and the population in them grew so fast. With that change, urbanisation was a must, in order to have clean and organised cities that fit more people in them. Paris has always been ahead, and it wasn’t less with the urbanisation, Hausmann took care of it and made sure Paris was the representation of a modern city with all its features, from big avenues to more green spaces, cafés and commerce; also,the traffic was improved because he made better streets.
When mentioning that change in Paris’ looks we cannot forget to mention Charles Maville, with his photography he portrait the before and the after, he showed the world how it should be done, he showed what a modern city looked like back in the 1860’s. And after seeing his photographs I can see similarities with other cities that were refurbished afterwards.
In the video, you can see the before and the after of Paris’ refurbishment in these photographies taken by Charles Maville.
Within the same years Baudelaire created a character, it was the definition of the modern man, it was the Flâneur, in English it’s something like a dandy, a gentleman. He lived to explore the city, he just stared; he strolled looking at the window shops, looking at the streets, at the people passing by, at the people who weren’t walking, he just admired the city. He also enjoyed listening to others people conversations, he was excited for the city; he walked for the pure purpose of seeing what surrounded him. And, I say “he” because there wasn’t a “she”, the modern person was thought by Baudelaire to be a man not a woman, he also was in a good economic position with no need of a job or anything like that, just living for the excitement of living, doesn’t it sound wonderful? Well Simmel, clearly thought of that excitement as an overexcitement that caused a neurasthenic experience, which makes me think is it worth that ill feeling? I mean, for a couple of days enjoying the city he wouldn’t feel too bad, but after a while is his health worth all the excitement of the city?
Other feature of this modern city is the advertising. Advertisements started appearingall over the place, creating needs that people weren’t aware of before, create needs in order for people to consume, that’s smart! Lefebvre understood this as having advertisements in every single bit of empty space, which sounds really similar to what’s going on in this present time. Our minds are clouded, it’s like being in the middle of a storm without being able to defend ourselves, and it’s so overwhelming that you just go with your first impulse, which translated to the real world means buy, consume.
With all this advertisement, I’d like to go a step backwards and talk about the actual design of those items. And, we are given this question: “Are designers the producers and peddler’s of tomorrow’s trash?”, to what I answer that some designers may be, but I think that’s where you can tell the difference between good and bad design. In an ideal world, if you design something well enough it won’t need a replacement, so there shouldn’t be a reason to make a new one; but, we don’t live in an ideal world and we are a consumerist society. There are actualisations every other month, I’m tired of seeing new models of phones, of laptops, of mp3’s, juicers, vacuum cleaners. Sometimes, it just gets a bit too much. Also, to that list I would like to add fashion, I feel like it is a big feature that makes the modern person, designers make fall-winter and spring-summer as main seasons, but we cannot forget about those pre-seasons, so give it around 3 or 4 collections every year, for like I don’t know how many years, and people are suppose to move that fast? We are in January now, wearing our thickest sweater and if you go to the stores you will find spring-summer collection already and let me tell you this, you don’t need that thin shirt, I bet you still have that cute one from last year…
Lastly, in this lecture we have presented a new character, the Walter’s Benjamin Ragpicker. A ragpicker is a new term made to define that people that the modern era was leaving behind, they were “outmoded by modernity”. And, trying to understand it the only thing that comes to my mind is that if life was a railway, and we are just walking on it, modernity is that fast train that makes you run and hurry, and the ragpickers are those who weren’t running fast enough and the train just ran over them.
In these pictures we can see different “flâneurs” and ragpickers.
At the end of this course of lectures, seminars, exhibition visits and workshops you have to produce a publication, which could be in the form of a pamphlet, or blog/website, or newspaper, or catalogue, or magazine, or zine, that is a chronicle of these lectures, seminars and workshops, that will be given throughout term 2. This will mean you will have to take notes on every session and upload them to your blog weekly, so you can then use them to write up your ‘publication’. You will also have relevant reading each week that will enhance your understanding of the theme of the session and will help you write an articulate ‘article’.
Each lecture, seminar or workshop will have its own section, chapter, page or pages dedicated to it. As in any publication these will be your individual sections/articles and will be fully illustrated/captioned and cited and referenced in a bibliography. Whenever you use a piece of information in your articles you must reference them by telling the readers where you got this information from, i.e. the author of a book, website, magazine etc.
During each session you must take extensive notes and/or record the session, as a journalist would at a press conference. These notes will form the basis of your articles/sections. You will start to write up these notes in the library immediately after the lectures whilst it is fresh in your mind. You will choose one of the lectures, seminars or trips to make into a long form ‘journal article’ and will be an extended piece of writing of 2,000 words and again it will be fully illustrated/captioned and referenced.
The form, design, layout and size the publication takes is entirely up to you. It may be a small A5 size pamphlet or a broadsheet A1 style newspaper or an online presence, website/blog. You may want to use one of the graphic ‘styles’ discussed during the lecture series or a combination of styles, depending on what you want the publication to look like. You will have special lectures and workshops that will help you conceptualise and manufacture these artefacts.
All these has been taken from the 13/14 Contextual and Theoretical Studies 1 10170 BA Graphic and Media Design (20) moodlepage, as an introduction to what will be published in this blog.