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Final Media Product

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"Eye to Brain"  is my final media product for visual communication. It is a stop motion animation using photographs to portray the relationship between the eye and the brain. This 1 minute 18 second animation consists of 197 photographs and was made using slow shutter speeds in a light-less room using only a wind up torch to illuminate the figure's face and create the light spears and orbs. The figure represents the mind, he is himself in his mind, the camera is his eyes. He becomes uncertain of the camera in front of him, his eyes that have shown him something on the outside that the isn't familiar with. He looks through his eyes and the electrical pulses inside his brain that travels to his cells, he comprehends the new environment that is front of him. He then takes a photograph which represents a memory. The music used is "Philosophy of Time Travel" by Michael Andrews. The music is calming and slow and surreal which I felt really fits in with the feeling if the sequence. I am really happy with the result of this project and I feel that I have started a concept I want to use in future projects.

Eye to Brain - The Shoot

I did this shoot last Saturday and it went really well. A few things were changed like in the sequence I don't circulate around him, it just starts with the figure sat in the center blinking and becoming uncertain of the camera. As said before I used slow shutter speeds of 8-10 seconds and as the shutter was open I would run up to the figure and move the torch around his face. An image from the sequence is shown below.

The effect of the torch on his face is beautiful, water-like and peaceful. In this particular shot he does look very calm, it is before he opens his eyes and sees the camera. He is so unnerved because he wasn't aware of its presence.

" I'm an eye. A mechanical eye. I, the machine, show you a world the way only I can see it."

Dziga Vertov, 1923

The camera is perception, it is vision, it is subjective to each individual and in this sequence it represents the eye. I am the eye, he is the brain and the mind in which I, the doorway to his mind ,will let him see what is there. I can only show him what is known and it is up to him, the brain, to understand it and interpret in his way unique to him and do what he will with the information I give him. He is unsure and inquisitive of the eye and its information as it is new to him.  The figure is inside his own mind, the eye shows him information and an environment on the outside that he doesn't understand, he walks up to it looks through his eyes (the camera) and the sequence goes to the electrical pulses between him and his eyes which are feeding him the data. He opens them now adapting to his surroundings and takes a photo representing a memory being established. Photography documents what is there, or what is wanted to be shown, in this sequence it represents memory and how he has put the new information learnt into a memory trace. Its about understanding and the connection between the eyes sending messages to the brain to learn new information or even establish old information. He is a little man inside his own head representing the mind. Overall, I really enjoyed exploring the relationship between the eye and the brain and interpreting it through a stop motion animation using photographs.

Inspiration in the End

As said before in the previous blog I am somewhat unsure what I want the figure to draw with light. When I say drawing with light I mean having the camera on a slow shutter speed and using a torch slowly move it in a certain direction capturing its path. I decided to draw a mind map to help get the creative juices flowing.

On the mind map are ideas like drawing a camera, a canvas, himself, the sphere. At this moment I am more inclined towards either the sphere as it could represent how he has understand his thoughts and draws out what is in his mind. Or the camera, since it is the camera that first made him unsure as he was preyed on the thought maybe be an understanding. The camera is a representation of vision, it is a basic eye and watches and documents memories. The thought could be this understanding of perception that he was uncertain of but now is content with. I feel once I actually start the shoot I will get a feel of what is right and suitable for the sequence.

Idea - Part 3

Now I need to figure out what happens after this thought has gone inside the cell/brain. Firstly I want to look at what this thought is perhaps. Since reading John Berger's "Ways of Seeing" it has inspired me too actually look at things in a new and different way and also how we look at things, literally. Because I am an artist I am very visual and interpret my ideas better through very visual mediums. So the thought that will feature will be something of an artistic nature and will be showed at the end of the sequence. The illustration below shows what I am talking about.

1. Eye closed.
2. Slams open after hit with thought.
3. Comes out slowly.
4. Smiles as he understands the camera being present.
5. Goes to draw something, picks up hand to draw.
6. ?

So as can be seen, we go from the sphere with the lights being sucked straight to a shot of his eye being closed. He opens, having only being a second perhaps but comes to realise what he has to do. In the first part of the sequence I want there to be a sense of uncertainty from the figure, the camera is this machine inspecting him and he questions its relevance. In the third part he becomes comfortable and smiles sitting back in ease and lifts his hand to draw something with light. I'm not sure what yet. But all what I want from this is this idea of their being this uncertainty of the environment he's in at the start and then their being an understanding in the end all from this one thought that has traveled through his mind and changed his perception of this prying eye.

Idea - Part 2

So, I decided in a previous blog how I wanted to enter the eye. And really those drawings are only a rough guide to myself how it will go, usually it changes when I actually come to the shoot as I have so many different strands of ideas running around. But I became stuck when I had to think about going inside the actual brain. I didn't want to be too scientific and make an actual brain and run around in it. And I didn't want to be too abstract. After reading "Eye and Brain" by Gregory it gave me a great foundation to work on. I wanted to represent the flashes of light pulsing through our brains. Traveling with it. So, when the figure gets close to the camera lens, something enters, an idea, an inspiration. This will be in the form of a light spread like practiced with before and we travel with this particular thought through its journey with the buzz of many other thoughts around it. The drawing below illustrates what I am talking about.

1. Darkness.
2. Flashes of light spheres.
3. Following the thought that entered the eye and brain.
4. Orb of light.
5. Other lights and light being followed into orb
6. Sucked in, represents thought conceived, idea generated.

For the actual brain or the cell that engulfs these electronic pulses which generate ideas, thoughts feelings, actions I want to create a sphere of light where all the surrounding lights swirl in. I want the darkness because the brain is this mysterious unknown place that is undiscovered and like a universe never ending really as it is ever learning and ever adapting taking in information and interpreting it with past, present and future data.

The Eye and Visual Perception

To further my research I looked at a book called "Art and visual perception" by Rudolf Arnheim. After the research on how the brain and eye literally are linked I wanted to look at a more psychological and perhaps philosophical view and interpretation of their relationship. I looked at the chapter on movement. It speaks about motion, how the eye interprets motion as being a recognition of change in surroundings and environment and that it requires reaction, "And since the sense of vision has developed as an instrument of survival it is keyed to its task". It talks about the way we instinctively know there is a change in our sight because it is almost tribal, a hunters skill. To survive all your senses need to be sharpened as it is the fittest who succeed. I agree and disagree with this. My grandad was blind and what he lacked in sight he gained in instinct using his hearing and touch. He knew if you were near him and if you were hunting through the fridge as quiet as you can he'd know and bollock you to shut the door. All the senses are related and they grow stronger if one has failed. After writing this it has made me think about what blind people see. I had a discussion with someone about this whether it would be better to be born blind or to go blind when your older and you have at least experienced some of the world. My grandad was born with perfect vision and as he grew older it depleted stating off with glasses and eventually losing his driving license as it got that bad. Eventually he lost his sight completely and grew angry and distressed for years about it, so I have been told. But by the time I came around I never saw him as being less able than anyone else. He could still cook, light is cigarette with a match, feel our faces and heads to know our height and which one we were. And like I said he almost became a super person as he instinctively knew where you were, what you were doing, if you should or shouldn't be doing it. He at least saw the world before his sight went, saw colours, nature, his family, some of his grandchildren. But someone born blind would never know, there are developing experiments to send these messages to the brain. But maybe you can't miss what you never had. My grandad grew angry because he had been given sight until his mid 30's and then it was taken away. Its hard to say which is crueler as I haven't personally experienced any sight problems, but it makes you appreciate what you have.
After reading more from this chapter there was a section that I really liked:

"The percepts and feelings, not only of yesterday but of a second ago, are gone. They survive only to the extent that within us they have left remnants, i.e. memory traces..."

 It really stuck in my mind and made sense to me. When we see we forget what we have just seen, it is past, but it is there subconsciously contributing to what you are seeing now and what you are about to see. It sounds confusing but it makes sense, and it only makes the mind and brain seem more brilliant as it processes all this information and turns it into understanding and a functioning coherency of what is happening in the world around us. 

"Whatever the nature of these traces in the brain, they certainly persist in spatial simultaneity, influence one another and are modified by new arrivals"

All these traces wok together simultaneously and are ever changing by new information developing the situation and environment. And everything that you once thought changes continuously and is adapted by the new arrivals. "in the brain everything has an address, but no date" everything in their is like a bank of films and photographs, traces of your life and others lives, everything that you have looked at, touched, eaten, smelt lives in there in a big catalogue which you can access to a degree and it constantly changes how you perceive the world and usually without you even realising it.

Research: The Eye and the Brain

As I want to explore the relationship between the eye and the brain I thought it best to further what I already understand with some reading. From Biology lessons I always remembered how the brain is basically a great matter of electronic pulses sending messages to the correct areas of the brain directing our actions, emotions, senses. After reading parts of the book "Eye and Brain the psychology of seeing" by R. L Gregory,  I began to understand more in depth about their relationship. From what I read the brain is a system of nerve cells consisting of cell bodies each having an axon. An axon is a "long slender projection of a nerve cell" an it basically is what conducts electrical pulses from the cell. This obviously interested me as it is provoked memories from biology and started making a rough picture in my own mind of what happens inside my brain. I found it ironic as I was reading about a brain and how it conducts electrical pulses to send messages, how my brain would be sending information about itself, making me understand more, how I was reading information that made me understand how I work as a machine.
As I read on and found out more about the electrical pulses it made me think of different ways I could produce this in a piece. Using light in darkness, light drawing on slow shutter speeds and dragging the light across the frame of the image to show a lightning bolt of thought. These electrical pulses are created when the eye sees something stimulating and there is an "alteration in the ion permeability of the cell membrane". So, in layman's terms before we see something that stimulates the eye for example a flash of light the center of the fibre of the cell in your brain is negative, after we see a light flash it turns positive initiating a flow of current which continues down the nerve. I read that this pulse is slower than electricity, which is interesting as when I was told about the impulses at school the first thing you do is relate it to something you already know, electricity. We cannot see these impulses or touch them so you are left to your imagination to break down what it would be like in your brain. Something that interested me and helped me in deciphering the relationship between the brain and the eye is this statement in the book:

"The Brain has been described as the only lump of matter we know from the inside"

It interested me because its like trying to work out a puzzle without ever seeing what you are trying to solve. With the brain, neurosurgeons are only allowed to access and touch specific parts of a live brain otherwise it would cause damage to that person. I found it quite beautiful that we aren't allowed access to certain places of the brain and mind, its curious and inspiring to investigate it further as you aren't allowed to see it all when it is still active. It interested me because in my piece I will be demonstrating what it would be like inside the brain, but in art there is a free rein as to how I interpret it as it is exactly that, an interpretation. And no-one knows precisely what it looks like when a brain is active and stimulated. There are endless charts and readings that can tell you the amount of current flowing and activity within a cell or group of cells in the brain but no footage or visual evidence of the scene itself. Again, it makes the subject more curious as it could be anything. To further my research I will look at perception and the way the eye perceives events and interprets them in the brain.
I was so inspired by the idea of electrical light pulsing through brains I experimented with a torch and a dark room, slow shutter speeds with my SLR digital camera and a tripod.  Below are some of the results.

I have used this kind of technique before in previous work and I really like the outcome. Its surreal, and unusual almost dream-like. I can imagine when a few are manipulated together it being quite slow and calming because of the blackness behind. To carry on the project I will do more research and try my ideas out through photography to get a better understanding of what I want.

Signs within an image

After reading excerpts from Roland Barthes "Rhetoric of the Image" I have become more interested in the semiotics of images, the signs within them to signify a meaning. In his book he looks at advertising, images that are purely created to have meaning and connote a message and he talks about the stereotypes of countries and how people subconsciously match up the relationship between the objects and the meaning. I want to look at a separate image and breakdown the meaning and message behind it. I am going to look at a television advert for hovis bread where a little boy goes out to get a loaf of bread for his mum and runs back to get home and takes a journey through Britain's history from Victorian times to present.

Firstly its undeniable that this advert makes you feel good after watching it. Being British, its easy to relate the the scenes shown even though I didn't experience a lot of them as it is taught thoroughly throughout history lessons. The titanic, women's rights, the World Wars, the mining strike. You begin watching the advert with facts and also devastation and it reminds you of when your parents tell you about these events. My Grandad was in World War 2 although he doesn't talk much about it as it upsets him too much, but I have still heard stories from him and other people that served in the war. I have heard many stories about the mining strikes from my parents as they lived through it in the 80's and just with these simple sequences in the film people immediately understand the meaning. Bread is a compulsory product in a household usually and represents this whole heartiness and warmth and family togetherness. All these events have brought us to where we are today. The little boy changes clothes according the era and fashion but he stays the same. This could be a message about how people stay the same but the environment changes. And in correlation to the advertisement its how hovis has stayed with the people throughout the ages and the "tough times" only the environment changes. Its touching and memorable and ends with a glorious firework display signifying the millennium and celebration of a new millennium. The boy smiles quirkily as he gets in understanding his journey and being pleased with himself. Its a successful advert as it is humble and underlies the message of buying a product that has been with us since 1886 and has been present for over a century.