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Deadly Art

I recently watched a documentary about the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Honestly,  I didn't know much about him. When his life ended February 2010 I knew who he was but never really researched much into his work.  As I watch this documentary and see his image he is the complete opposite of what I expected. He was so average looking, when you think of fashion designers you imagine scrawny odd balls with quirky outfits and head pieces but at the start of his career it was baggy jeans and t-shirts. The documentary shows his career and his influences. The major muse being fashion stylist Isabella Blow. When I saw Blow I instantly thought of Lady Gaga and how much they reminded me of each other.






At the top, Isabella Blow, at the bottom, Lady Gaga. The documentary was about the success of McQueen's career, but also the dramatic downfall of it. McQueen produced collection after collection, took cocaine to keep awake at night and work and become more successful and rich which only made him more resentful to the system. Always struggling to be the best even better himself with each collection. Each collection was described more as an artistic demonstration rather than a range of clothes to sell which also put pressure on him as his employers Givenchy wanted clothes to sell. His close relationship with Blow had effected him as she slowly deteriorated as her own career struggled to regenerate an reinvent itself and as she slipped into a deep depression. She began almost monthly trying to take her own life. This  made their relationship conflicted as she was his inspiration, she had discovered him and bought his graduation collection catapulting him into the industry. When Blow committed suicide in May 2007, McQueen and other designers felt a knock-on effect. In 2010,  nine days after his mother who he was very close to had died of cancer, he hung himself inside his wardrobe and left a suicide note inside a book. Previous years he had taken overdoses and harmed himself and the point of this blog is that it scared me into seeing the relationship and trend beginning. When I saw Blow, like I said before I instantly thought of Gaga. The dress she is wearing was worn in memory of McQueen and performed a song in his memory at the Brit awards in 2010 which I remember watching and remember being moved and yet disturbed by her performance. After watching this documentary and examples of his shows I can see an obvious connection. Many of his shows were exploiting women rather than trying to make them look beautiful. And the way musicians like Gaga almost discriminate women but also let their sense of womanhood flourish. She is an ugly beauty Lady Gaga, without the make up and rags and props she is beautiful but makes herself hideous. Blow, especially during her depression would wear these headdresses that shielded her away from the world, protecting herself from the harsh criticism she had to endure. But are they asking for it? Artists crave attention especially fashion designers like peacocks flourishing their feathers demonstrating the prowess and then shy away and resent it almost. How dare you look and judge me but please tell me that you like it.

The pressure of the fashion industry and many other art industries are fierce and fickle. One minute your someone's tea bitch the next you're working for Gucci and one mistake and you're disregarded and forgotten. Yesterday's news.  How many times has this story been heard of artists and dramatic ends difficult lives always striving and struggling to be better addicted to everything and addicted to success? 

As I carry out my degree part of me is here to explore every avenue and discover new possibilities of my craft. Another, thinks about the future and the dangerous competition I will face and the massive possibility I will never become everything I want to be. And after looking at some at these people it does make you open your eyes and see this world that is created for artists. This constrictive and ever changing world that actually has little freedom and often you are coaxed out of your dream to make money. I can safely say and perhaps naively that I will never become a sell out to my art but I can't be sure at this stage where I will end up. Fashion isn't where I am looking to go right now but its a craft I admire and respect but also perhaps shield away from as well because of its infamous reputation. Who knows what will happen. Watch this space...

I'm an eye

I checked out a book a couple of weeks ago and it has sparked my interest. It is part of the reading list for this module and I've found it can be related to a lot of the ways I think about the world. "The ways of seeing" by John Berger. The book is about the way we look at art and the relationship that is created between a viewer and the art. It is also about the conventions of the way we look at art, the assumptions that we have made and the formula that has been created in order for you to realise and appreciate art. Well, that's what I got from it. There are several passages that I have found interesting but one I re-read today and realised I had read it before in another article in the "British journal of photography annual 1975".

" I'm an eye. A mechanical eye. I, the machine, show you a world the way only I can see it. I free myself for today and forever from human immobility. I'm in constant movement. I approach and pull away from objects. I creep under them. I move alongside a running horse's mouth. I fall and rise with the falling and rising bodies. This is I, the machine, manoeuvring in the chaotic movements, recording one movement after another in the most complex combinations."

                                                                                                                                      Dziga Vertov, 1923

He talks about the camera and being a film director he will be talking about the film camera. But I really like this statement, it breaks down what a photographer with a camera is. We are explorers, demonstrating the world in which we see it and how we interpret the world around us. We are voyeurs of the world and we gain pleasure from being immersed in it. We are in movement with it, not fighting against the current but flowing with it examining and documenting every step of the way. I have always said which many others do not agree with that photography and science go hand in hand. Photography is the bridge between art and science not just for the chemical reactions and light side but it helped people explore the world and create a tangible memory. Art and science have always fought but in my opinion photography filled in the gap and also helped skeptics become a part of the art world.  People are usually afraid and ignorant of something they do not understand. The godfather of film and animation Eadweard Muybridge helped build this bridge and it was all because of a bet. "The horse in motion" was a bet made by horse owner and governor of California Leland Stanford in 1872 that at least one of the horse's hooves stay on the ground at one point. So, Muybridge set up a series of camera with timers to take a series of shots demonstrating the way a horse runs.

And as the video shows, all four hooves do lift from the ground and shows the horse almost gliding through the air at one point in its run. Muybridge had made history and changed the way scientists thought the animal moved. At this time and even today it was revolutionary to be able to use this technique to actually change the way we see the world. Muybridge spent a lot of his career looking at the way the human body moved conducting a series of experiments involving people throwing objects, walking up and down stairs, watching the way the body moved and how it reacted with the world. Many artists including Francis bacon used his sequences to create paintings.

    
                      Paralytic Child walking on all fours (from Muybridge) 1961, Francis Bacon


Infantile paralysis; child walking on hands and feet, plate 539 from 'Animal Locomotion', 1887

As can be seen, Bacon has used the sequence of this child walking and transformed it into a painting. Bacon frequently used his sequences from the books "The human figure in motion" and "Animal Locomotion". I find it fascinating how this collaboration was used to understand the human body and also the deterioration of the body, something Bacon had also dealt with frequently in his work as well as mental deterioration. After seeing Muybridge's work a few years ago it inspired me to create my own animations using photographs which can be seen in "Floating Motion" on an earlier blog. I feel for my final media product for this module the outcome will become some kind of animation and/or a series of images/stills, but on what topic I am not certain of as of yet. Until next time...

Shell shock

I was thinking about the posts I wrote of recent this morning, in particular the Gohar Dashti entry. And I started thinking about war and a film I watched a while ago that unsettled me. "The Pianist" directed by Roman Polanski is an autobiography of a Polish Jewish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman who struggles to survive in Warsaw, Poland during World War II. I'm not a great lover or war films but this one hit a nerve. One critical point in the film is when he and all of his family and many other Jewish people are being led to their unfortunate future, a friend who has turned and fights for the other side for survival rescues Szpilman. He lives but is distraught that he can't bring his family with him and the scene where he is trying to fight to get back to them is harrowing and distressing and very moving. He is alone. I can't imagine what I would do if I had to do that.

A scene from "The Pianist"

Throughout our childhoods we are taught continuously about the Wars and yet I am still shocked when I see films or documentaries or images like these. I wasn't even there and yet its as if it brings bad memories, a scar in my mind that has not yet healed. It is so unimaginable that these kinds of events happen that its almost unbelievable, I don't want to believe the cruelty. So imagine how someone who was there felt. My grandfather fought in the second World War in the Navy. And to this day he still won't talk about it. I've seen him get very emotional about it when me or my sister innocently have said what was it like. My father tells me that my grandfather had been to some of the concentration camps and freed some of the prisoners. Even writing about it I feel like I am betraying his wishes as it is so personal to him. He owns those memories and they are his. 
Both sides suffered of course, it wasn't so black and white. Below is an example though of the people fighting back.

Gestapo informer, Dessau,Germany, 1945
Both taken by Henri Cartier Bresson
In the first image, Cartier Bresson depicts the moment the tables turn on the Gestapo informer who would have previously been rounding up the Jewish community and sending them to concentration camps. Now that the war has ended the people have her in their hands. The informer's face against the woman that's holding on to her is painfully different. Her's is ashamed, disgusted, defeated where as the other woman is elated. The second image shows the people almost torturing her, throwing water and beating with sticks. Is this justice? I wasn't there so I can not say as to what the correct punishment would have been but I both understand and object to the treatment. If I had found the person that had sent my people to their death then I don't know what I would do. But this woman was caught up in a war and perhaps the only way she thought she could survive was for fighting for the other side. It does not excuse the actions and crimes committed. It's difficult trying not to offend each side because don't know how I would have reacted. All I know is that people today who saw the horrifying crimes committed can't speak about it, and my grandfather is a renowned storyteller but this is one he will not share. Until next time...

Godwin's Land

Today, I went to a tour around the Fay Godwin Exhibition at the Bradford Media Museum hosted by the curator of the show. I had already been a couple of months ago to see the pieces of work but this was an opportunity to be told more in-depth about Godwin, her work, her life and what else she had achieved throughout her life. The show was "Land Revisited" and it was the 25th anniversary of the the work "Land" which was shown in 1985 at the museum. The curator talked about how Fay had started her career which was on distressing circumstances, she had divorced from her husband and was left to bring up her family and at the same time she was diagnosed with cancer. And how she came into photography was to try and earn some money to keep her family a float. She firstly took pictures of authors for their books, a complete 180 degrees away from what she is now predominantly known for today. And she then became interested in the other areas of photography like landscape. Below are some images from the exhibition "Land".

Single Stone, 1979

Flooded Tree, 1981

Rotting Car, 1982

Her work celebrates the landscape and ranges from all across England to over the seas in Sicily. The curator explained that she had acquired a reputation for herself that some people would describe her as aggressive, particular and difficult to work with. But he disagreed and said what all this was, was passion. She loved what she did and if someone was slacking she wasn't afraid to let them know about it. Honesty is the best policy. When the curator was talking you could see the admiration he had for her and her work which was touching. He also talked about how Fay didn't want to bring people into the landscape because she wanted the images to be timeless. And they are, when you look at them you don't think ah yes that lake looks like a 1970's lake, there is no obvious context, they could be taken at any time and still be related to modern times which I admire. Also it was made clear that Landscape was not her only forte, she was a keen painter and drawer and worked in colour photography and in cities. She was also part of the Bradford fellow in photography 1987-88 and she used this chance to really explore other avenues. Now, this may seem odd but I try not to find out when artists have died because it changes my whole outlook on their work, some of my fellow classmates were a bit shocked when I didn't know she had passed on but its my philosophy so tough. And I thought Fay may have passed away but didn't want to check for sure, when he said she had in 2005 my heart sank because all I feel is sadness for her and her work because she is no longer here to carry on her work and share her ideas with the rest of the world. She is gone and her work is left behind as her mark on the land. And what a legacy she left behind. The tour was insightful, informative and very enjoyable and has helped me develop my understanding of landscape for my project in conventions of photography. Until next time...

Domestic Warfare

Yesterday, me and some of my classmates had arranged a meeting with the photographer Gohar Dashti who is working in Bradford at the moment as part of the 1mile² project. I should probably give some background as to why firstly this would perk our interest. In my module Conventions of Photography we have been assigned with roughly a square mile of Bradford and must go to a section or all of it and photograph it as part of the landscape project. At first I was a bit apprehensive as I have never really took to landscape photography but I have been surprised as to how comfortable I am. In a future blog I will show some of the images I have took but for now I want to discuss a practicing photographer. At first we discussed as a group our experiences in Bradford and compared and contrasted them. She had found it difficult as Bradford is one of those bizarre cities which is a cross-breed of a city and a village which I too have found odd. Living mostly in the countryside this may have been a subconscious decision I made and to stay close to home in case something happened and I was needed. Something I both regret but also stand by. The 1mile² project is a programme set up for artists and ecologists who are given these 1mile² across the world. Their goal is to capture something about the 1mile² they are given, to convey to the viewer how they experienced these places. Gohar was mostly interested in the countryside being brought into the city and had shown some preliminary photographs which was a delight as they haven't been exhibited as of yet. We discussed with her how Bradford has been labeled with a bad reputation and to be honest since I moved here in September it has been a bit of an eye-opener. I've traveled around and had seen some interesting and culturally different places which I have taken to like a duck to water such as Malaysia, the Balearic Isles, Barcelona, Paris but I've never been anywhere as unfriendly as Bradford. Now, I know that seems harsh but its an experience felt by others and in this group it was interesting to discuss these issues with Gohar originating from Iran, who was an outsider coming in having never experienced a city such as Bradford before. She had discussed with us how the people of Bradford were defensive about why she was there and why was she taking photographs. And I think Bradford has got to this sad stage where people are so defensive about their city which used to belong to them that they almost justify its reputation. Since starting the project, I have seen a different and more tranquil side to Bradford. We were given a section on Horton Road which is allegedly renowned for being "rough". But honestly, I found it very inspirational. Gohar showed us some of her previous work from "Today's Life and War", examples are shown below.




She grew up in Iran, a time when Iraq and Iran were at war with each other. She was asked by the Iranian government to take photos about the war and so she rented out this piece of land which was a war zone but was left for film-makers to use in their projects which I found very interesting. In these images they speak about how normal people who had no say in what occurred around them had to live and make lives with a war happening literally on their doorsteps. At first it seems like it could be about the battle of love and the trails and tribulations that we have to go through but as she explained it was more than that. It speaks about her generation of young people who grew up in these conditions and how their lives were brought into the conflict. The images are epic and harrowing stamping into our minds the significance of others mistakes. I was particularly moved by the image in the middle. How the couple are trying to be "normal" living their lives like anyone else would, watching TV something taken for granted in other countries, having the almost luxury of being able to relax in your own home and settle in front of some rubbish on TV and forget your life for a bit. The extent of the damage has left its scars on the land as can be seen although as I said before it was left in this state for movie makers. In the first image the tank seems to be pointing at the man which is amusing but also then alarming. How do we know its a derelict war zone? It could be aiming to fire. It signifies his frustration as the woman speaks into her mobile phone. The lack of communication they have between them even though she seems to be communicating  with someone else. How he's trying to talk to her over dinner whilst she is more interested in her own conversation. This could speak about the lack of communication between the people and the government or how the people were ignored and the government were more interested in their own thought patterns rather than their people's. Now, I don't know much about Iranian politics so forgive me if I speak out of line but this is what I have gathered from people's experiences and from work I've looked at. Issues like this can be related to many governments including our own. In correlation to other countries our country runs like clockwork but we have issues with our politicians taking advantage of its people and making decisions without seeming to care about its consequences and the damage it will cause  e.g. economy joke of a crisis, the war in Iraq and then Afghanistan and anywhere else America decides to mess with, closing of basically any job opportunities like the mines, mills, manufacturing, tax increases, student loans increases £9000 apparently although I think that will die down by the time its meant to be implemented to look like the politicians care. What can we say we are proud of any more? Or known for? Everything that we could be proud of has been exported out of here and now we are a country of imports. I love my country but I think its past its sell by date.
          When we were talking about Gohar's work, the earlier conversation was still echoing in my mind. Then she said that after two years of trying to exhibit the work she was finally allowed to exhibit and when she came to exhibit the work in Iran, pieces were took out "not for political reasons". They were defensive about how their country was being portrayed. You could say that was unfair but it reminded me of Bradford. When the city or even country you are a part of is being what you see as discriminating you will see it as defensive because its yours. Obviously what happened with Gohar's work was different but the concept is the same. Countries have started wars because they have been offended which is ridiculous. They squabble like an old married couple and its their children that suffer. I've lived all over the place, and I haven't had somewhere which I'd classify as home since I lived in Derbyshire which was 10 years ago. And if anyone discriminated that I would come down like a sack of bricks. Its all it takes, we are mere humans, our countries are run by people like us but who are a bit more greedy and power crazed and all it takes is for another country to through stones. I found Gohar's work and her as an artist very enlightening as I was shown a narrative of a place I'd never fully understood and made me want to investigate further. Until next time...

Magnum

No, not the ice cream but only the crème de la crème of photographers get to become a part of the Magnum agency. Now, recently one of my lectures was hosted by a photographer Donovan Wylie who stated that Magnum was not the be all and end all. If I were an actress my goal would be Hollywood. If I were an athlete I'd aim for the Olympics. So why shouldn't I aim or at least highly admire and appreciate an agency that has brushed shoulders with some of the most awe inspiring photographers of our time? Incidentally Wylie is a member of Magnum. Now then, the reason I wanted to start this blog is to talk about one of my favourite photographers Martin Parr. A couple of years ago he came to my college to do a talk about his work which was amazing since our college was a bit low key and here was Martin Parr turning up at Tanshelf station. I think my teacher had an aneurysm (metaphorically). I had researched him and used him in my sketchbooks before the talk but actually hearing it from the horse's mouth really gave me a better insight in what all his work was about. 
Parr is a street photographer, documenting day-to-day lives of ordinary people. He also ranged his subject to the middle and upper classes, people abroad and many other quirks of society. His images are very distinct because of the high saturation and beautifully vibrant colours caught sometimes using a ring flash on his camera. During the 1980's and the height of Thatcherism, times were rough and her dictatorship hit the lower working classes the most. Parr did a series of work illustrating this to the world and the effects our leader had on the people who had worked the hardest.
The Last Resort, New Brighton 1983-1985


Because the working classes were tight on money, they would holiday not abroad but with what they already had. And they weren't picky as shown particularly in the first image because they weren't as materialistic as the upper classes. They wanted a break and a holiday on their doorstep was cheaper and easier than going somewhere exotic. Parr demonstrated to the world and particularly the government the knock on effect that the ruling class had on people. As I wasn't born to see the immediate effects of when these events happened I have a different almost outsiders view on it. I have second hand information and evidence but the presence of the mistakes made still linger on into the society of today. Everywhere you go there are reminders of our history with the mines but they are only traces, like negative space in our heritage that is remembered but disregarded. I like hearing about the mining era and respect that time immensely. Its harrowing and disturbing to think of the control our leaders have and now it seems like deja vu with the lopsided marriage that is our government. Photographers like Martin Parr are here as demonstrators and aren't here to glorify the world, but convey it. At the time this series of work was seen as an insult, a mockery. But he was merely trying to warn the world of its mistakes. Decisions are made with great intentions but the makers don't have to live with consequences, they can hide out in their third mansion in the Cotswolds and forget how they sold out innocent people's lively hood. I feel strongly with issues like these not just from our past but the present which I will address in future blogs. Until next time...

Self-reflection

Now, its not a lie to say I am self absorbed because I wouldn't be a true artist if I wasn't. Any artist that says they are completely selfless and only interested in others is telling porky pies. Since a child I have been very extrovert with my opinions but always careful not to be arrogant with my own views as they are my own and nobody else's. Amongst many other things this kind of egotistical behavior is severely irritating. I'm not saying you have to be an artist to be able to think deeply about yourself and express yourself but artists have a nack for it. So, last semester in visual literacy I was set the project of Identity. To look at myself, explore and create a visual diary in the form of a sketchbook about my life. At first it was very difficult, I'm used to creating work with my own opinions expressed into them but never completely about myself and who I was as a person. It was a great project to do and kind of linking with the inspiration blog from earlier I found out who and what inspires me. My family, friends, boyfriend were major parts in the sketchbook. Previous work that had brought me to the point I am in my life. And even day to day events, who I surround myself with and what happens. I've never moved out before and so this leap from being at home with my parents to being on my own was liberating but also terrifying. The book helped me relax a bit more being on my own and to be fair I wasn't totally alone as I came to uni with my best friend. What culminated from the project was a series of images of myself that carried on from some work I did at foundation.




They were created sat in my boyfriend's bathroom sat on a closed toilet seat with the tripod and camera in the shower opposite me. The camera was set on a timer and a very slow shutter speed ranging from 15 to 20 seconds. I wrapped different transparent things around my face such as the shower curtain, white bed sheet, white t-shirt but in these four images above it was the cling film that was more successful. I used a torch for lighting swirling it around my face and against my face  to highlight it and the cling film. I left it in colour as I am usually drawn to black and white but in the darkness the colour is vibrant and seductive. Quoting from the last page in my sketchbook explaining what these images are about:

"At the moment I feel under pressure with deadlines and distorted with the culmination of work. So I wanted to create a few images dealing with that. I am a major renowned worrier, it bothers me that I generally can't relax about anything but hey ho it runs in the family so tough shit."

I am constantly worrying about things especially deadlines and being the best because I want to succeed, and at the time other modules where making me feel like I wasn't good enough as a photographer or artist but this project was really liberating. 

Until next time...

Inspiration

What inspires a person? Art? Music? Films? Family? Historical Figures? Politicians? Religion? Yourself? Your past? Your present? The possibilities of your future? Many things inspire people and as I write more blogs expressing my own feelings, ideas and work it becomes clear to me the various different inspirations I have.  In most of my work, its about my feelings and what's happening in my life at the time which is a common characteristic in artists work. But there are other aspects of inspiration that I use to help me create what I feel.
After watching the film Donnie Darko directed by Richard Kelly it really struck a chord with me intellectually and creatively. Not just the film but the score composed by Michael Andrews had devoured my mind as soon as I started watching the film. Basically, the film is about a boy, Donnie Darko, who starts imagining a man-like bunny called Frank who tells him to do criminal things. But throughout the film these criminal things uncover more unjust acts of crimes from his neighbors thus making his  actions "right". Its about Donnie's acknowledgment of time travel as well and the fact he can see his own destiny forming in front of him, tangible leading him to where he needs to go and what he needs to do. At the beginning Frank tells him to leave his bedroom and his house, as he does an airplane engine falls through the roof into Donnie's bedroom which would have killed him instantly. Because he missed dying a whole new series of events begin to unravel and after he figures out what time travel is he sees a vortex in the sky where his mum and sister on an airplane hit into the vortex sending their engine back into the past to Donnie's room. This is where we are taken back to Donnie laughing in his room as he understands why Frank has been following him and messing with his mind and that he must die so that his mother and sister live, which he does. Changing and saving the future. Now, don't ask me what Donnie is fully about because I haven't a clue, every time I watch it I gather more in my mind and more swims around about the meaning but I'll save it for now. Because I didn't understand it it made me confused but eager to learn more. Its one of those films that you think, eh? at the end because it grabs you by the brain and holds on until the end and afterwards. This film and the score inspired me thorughout some of my work but one that it affected most was the "Floating Motion" shown in an earlier blog. The soundtrack for that piece was from the score as well. The film is eeire and surreal and is touching. Totally inspiring. Until next time...

Illusion Delusion

I recently came across a photographer who's work caught my eye. "After the Flash Flood"  by Joel Sternfeld was shown during a lecture about landscape photographers and the different ways landscape can be interpreted.

 At first glance I thought it was a scene taken from a Movie. The car seemed to be suspended in mid air as if just driven off the edge of the cliff.  It was taken at Rancho Mirage, California July 1979 after this unsuspecting natural disaster hit the suburban area. Its idyllic because of the strongly saturated colours. The line where the landslide has taken the earth away is so defined and crisp its as if a giant has taken a great slice out of the earth. You can even see the different layers of sedimentary rock that lies below the houses. This scene of evident destruction is juxtaposed against the peaceful blue mountainous area behind conveying a message of nature having its presence known. As we develop through the decades becoming more greedy for land and our earth's natural resources we forget the strength and power it has over us. Floods are one of the most devastating and biggest killers in the world as we have no way of defending ourselves against it or even predicting it. A great example would be the unfortunate events in Southeast Asia with the tsunami in 2004 that wiped out and destroyed many people's lives. This epic image from Sternfeld shows the way nature fights back against humanity and wakes us up to who who rules the land at the end of the day, and we should respect that. Until next time...

Semiotics: Arbitrary vs Iconic

Yesterday I actually came away from a lecture feeling like I had learned something. The lecture was about semiotics, the study of the production of meaning using sign systems. Being a photographer I am happily accustomed to a cheeky little image analysis being conducted for my sketchbooks and also for discovering the reasons why images are taken in certain ways and what they represent. In this lecture there were elements I had already learnt but it was more extensive and insightful. When reading an image there are a few formal elements that need to be considered:

  • Context: Where? Who made it? What does this reference to?
  • Content: Subject matter. Genre- so if its a certain specialism of photography it could be documentary, landscape,  portraiture, fashion, environmental, photojournalism etc.
  • Form: composition, colour, texture, tone, scale, line, space- this makes up the physical existence of the image.

These formal elements are used to strip down the image and really investigate what about it gives you the impression of its meaning. A sign must have 3 characteristics:

  • Must have a physical form
  • Refer to something other than itself
  • Must be used and recognised as a sign
In the lecture, the tutor used a rose as the object, the sign. And when a man gives a woman a rose (the signifier) it signifies his feelings for her. Thus the rose becomes a sign and love is signified. The tutor then gave the man a potato to hand to the lady, this changed the whole concept of what is trying to be portrayed. Why do we associate a flower with an emotion? Is there a direct link? Is it:

  • Arbitrary- no natural link or relationship between the signifier and signified so the signifier is taken from convention. Meaning we create a meaning through generations of association. We almost grow up with these ideas as they are passed down.
  • Iconic- There is a definite link that is naturally made.
Well, initially I thought perhaps it was iconic but I couldn't come up with a good reason why, why would a rose represent love? In some countries a potato may be more complimentary and useful than a rose. It inevitably is arbitrary, its something we have created to make love tangible. Even love is something that was created to make our emotions seem more important. When you look back on history, and think when did they first start coming up with this idea that love was something that could be described and held and given and broken? And all I could think was that it came from artists, painters and sculptors way back when humans began really depicting themselves and seperating from the rest of the animal kingdom. As early as the classical antiquity where Greek and roman art and literature flourished. It is Greek mythology that influenced many artists, these stories of great gods and goddesses that ruled the skies in control of the human races emotions, influencing and controlling them. It was a way for people to romanticise about an otherworldly control that these beings had over them. Why not? What would the world be like without love, hate, lust, war, sex, deceit, betrayal? Pretty tedious.
The Three Graces, 1504-1505. Raphael




This oil painting is from the Italian renaissance art movement painted by the Italian painter Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (Raphael). Using the techniques learned earlier you can start to break down the meaning. The apple represents fertility, youth, beauty. This is arbitrary as the link is something that has been created, it is an associated link. Why is it used here? Well the three women could represent the different stages of womanhood. On the left, the young adolescent, concealed by the fabric and arm of the middle woman conveying innocence and vulnerability. The woman to the right is adulthood, she is more mature and ripe, flourishing. The middle woman is the older, more accomplished, protecting the others like a mother. She too is more matured and her body is more defined and adult. The apple is the signifier and connotates youth and age which is signified throughout the painting. Until next time...

Journey Of Life

I did a foundation in art and design last year at Wakefield and it was challenging creatively as in the brochure they claim you can dip into any area of art until you find the one that feels right. This wasn't the case. I went in knowing I wanted to be a photographer but I almost wanted to prove to myself and to my family I was good at it. When you're an artist its hard for someone to take your ambitions seriously so I wanted to do a course that would challenge, determine and strengthen my artistic and photographic skills. I started dabbling into stop motion animation as I've always been interested since A Level. I taught myself as my teacher is a painter not really an animator and tells me to "Google" it. I wanted to experiment with making an animation where someone is floating, suspended in the air. So in my high tech studio (my bedroom) I turned off the lights set the camera to a very slow exposure varying from 15 to 30 seconds got my torch and when the shutter opened frantically beamed a torch over a body to light it. Below are a few images from early experiments that I did using myself.

 I knew I'd started something I wanted to really go far with and so devised different ways to use this lighting technique and the body in this empty black void. I didn't really have a story ready, after each shoot the meaning behind the animation would come through piece by piece. Below is the final animation.
video 
 Floating Motion
In the animation I used my sister/best friend Amy who is also an artist. The animation started as an experimentation of different techniques but as I said before it grew into something much bigger. The light orb represents this uncontrollable force that pulls her in different directions which she has no influence on. She is brought to confront herself and the journey she is on and fights it, ripping it away from her until she is left exhausted, defeated but successful. As the last drop falls away from her she smiles knowing she finally has control over her own life. Not letting fate or the inevitable lead her in a direction she doesn't understand. But making her own way in this deep dark unknown barren world. People have said to me she looks like she's dead at the end, and to me its a death to the journey she's been on, a sweet end to her pain and hardship.That's my interpretation and I think it speaks about how I was feeling at the time with my own life. Feeling lost on the course I was on which made me have periods of doubt and creatively stunt me. My father was ill at the time and the effects on the family was pushing us all to the limit.  I used this animation as an escape from the rest of life, losing myself in the dark and emerging at the end with a piece of work I'm not afraid to say is my best to date and favourite. The music is from the fantastic film Donnie Darko composed by Michael Andrews and the score to that film is one of my favourite's. I will talk further about Donnie Darko in a future blog as it is a film that continually inspires me. Until next time...