Narrative — Final Major Project

Project brief: To produce a short narrative film on the theme of ‘Jetty’, to be premiered at the Margate Film Festival.

A large source of inspiration behind my final major project has been looking at the artwork of film titles.

Artwork by art director Robert Brownjohn.

The relationship between the projected text within a low-lit space and onto the human body creates a distorting and tantalising effect. This gave me the idea to test this further — projecting text onto various objects in different lighting conditions.

The subject of Christian Marclay’s fourteen-minute installation Video Quartet is sound. Shown on four contiguous video screens, it is a montage of more than 700 individual film clips—appropriated from popular feature movies and documentaries alike—in which characters play instruments, sing, or make noise in one form or another.

The artist’s use of turntables in previous performance pieces influenced his approach in Video Quartet: “It’s the same vocabulary of techniques, using snippets of sound and putting them all together to create a new unified composition,” he explained.

Much of Marclay’s work in collage, photography, video, and performance concerns not only sound but its various visual and material incarnations, and Video Quartet is simultaneously a sonic and visual composition, with the two modes inextricably layered and entwined. Certain clips are repeated on different screens, prompting the viewer to register not only aural but visual patterns and correspondences. Although at points the work has an improvisatory feel, Marclay structured it as a score with discrete movements and motifs, and spent a year meticulously composing and editing it on a home computer. 

The clips included in Video Quartet, which Christian Marclay edited in his New York studio using the software programme Final Cut Pro, are taken mainly from Hollywood feature films, both colour and black and white productions. Dating from the 1920s to the early twenty-first century, and featuring actors such as Liza Minnelli, Rita Hayworth and Jack Nicholson, these source materials have been described by Marclay as ‘fragments of our cultural baggage’ (quoted in González, Gordon and Higgs 2005, p.89).

Video Quartet begins with scenes of an orchestra tuning up, a segment which builds to a crescendo before it is followed by clips in which characters play musical instruments and sing. The work also includes scenes featuring shouts, screams and close-ups of various noisy objects, such as a spinning roulette wheel. At some moments the same image appears in all four projections; occasionally a single clip seems to bounce between them. As the musician, composer and writer Alan Licht has suggested, ‘As carefully composed and edited as it is, there is also an improvisational feel to parts of Video Quartet, as if each clip is reacting to another spontaneously’ (Licht 2003, p.103). The overall effect is to create a fourteen-minute musical symphony – one with its own distinct rhythms and sections, including moments of calmness and dramatic counterpoints – out of fragmented elements. With visual and audio finality, Video Quartet ends with the sight and sound of a door slamming.

The inspiration behind my final Narrative project is taken from Martin Scorsese’s 1991 film, Cape Fear, Saul and Elaine Bass main title sequence. I really enjoy how the water has created abstract patterns and shapes as the backdrop to the sequence. The text and ‘broken’ nature effect fits well with the water and movement.

Saul + Elaine Bass Film Titles
Cape Fear (1991)

The Man With The Golden Arm (1955)

The following images are screenshots of each clip used in my final moving image piece. These clips are raw and before any visual adjustments were made. The piece was inspired by the geometry and use of moving graphics by Saul + Elaine Bass’ film titles. Particularly the way the “THE END” appears and fills the frame. I have constructed each frame so that the music, text and movement of water work in harmony with one another. The sound is improvisation of some blues music, I originally broken the frames into 12th of second to represent the 12 bar blues. I later discarded this idea so that the frames fit in sequence with the tempo and text.

I wanted to project the seascape films to add a sense of obscurity and create a ‘floating’ effect.

“The End” is a metaphorical representation of the journey, the course coming to and end. The clip of my shadow walking is me walking to the School.

I blurred the text and added pink hues to juxtapose against the seascape films, and to add to the dreamy effect.

Final moving image
2:00 min

Image — Final Major Project

Project brief: ‘Wish You Were Here’: produce a tableau vivant-style image with the words ‘Wish You Were Here’ as a starting point.

It took some time to think of a subject to photograph for my final major project. After a visit to Photo London at Somerset House, I came across a photograph of a constructed flower taken by Jennifer Latour. I have always been fascinated about flowers, they’re symbolism and lifecycle.

Flower symbolism

Flower Meanings by Colour

Flowers provided an incredibly nuanced form of communication. Some plants, including roses, poppies, and lilies, could express a wide range of emotions based on their color alone.

Take, for instance, all of the different meanings attributed to variously colored carnations: Pink meant “I’ll never forget you”; red said “my heart aches for you”; purple conveyed capriciousness; white was for the “the sweet and lovely”; and yellow expressed romantic rejection.

The colour of the rose plays a huge role. Red roses symbolise love and desire, but roses come in a variety of colours and each has their own meaning.

White rose: purity, innocence, reverence, a new beginning, a fresh start.
Red rose: love, I love you
Deep, dark crimson rose: mourning
Pink rose: grace, happiness, gentleness
Yellow rose: jealousy, infidelity
Orange rose: desire and enthusiasm
Lavender rose: love at first sight

Dutch Masters

Vanitas became a popular genre of Dutch master paintings in the seventeenth century. It utilised the still-life form to evoke the fleeting quality of life and the vanity of living.

Primarily known as a popular Dutch art genre of the Baroque period (c.1585-1730), Vanitas is closely associated with a cultural phenomenon present in Early Modern Europe known as Memento Mori (Latin for ‘remember you must die’). 

Vanitas paintings are delicate and soaked in detail.  They are populated by symbolic imagery which forces the viewer to study the image.

Vanitas became a popular genre of Dutch master paintings in the seventeenth century. It utilized the still-life form to evoke the fleeting quality of life and the vanity of living.

Jan Davidsz de Heem
Vase of Flowers, c. 1660

The Delft painter Jacob Vosmaer was an early if not pioneering specialist in the painting of flower pictures, which often depict rare specimens known to the artists solely from illustrated books. At some time before 1870 this panel was trimmed on the sides and cut down (about nine inches) at the top, cropping the crown imperial.

The flower paintings of Jan Davidsz de Heem celebrate the beauty of flora while at the same time exemplifying the concept of Ars longa, vita brevis (art is long, life is short) embodied in the Dutch still-life paintings of the seventeenth century. De Heem’s paintings also reflected the great interest in botany at that time, and this work includes exotic flowers and plants brought back from faraway places, such as the tulip, originally imported into Europe from Turkey in the 1550s.

De Heem was one of the most gifted, versatile, and influential still-life artists of his age. His refined technique allowed him to portray a great variety of textures that captured the very essence of the objects, including the petals of exotic flowers; long bent reeds of wheat; minute creatures such as butterflies, ants, snails, and caterpillars; and finally, the reflective surfaces of glass. In this work, De Heem creates a harmonious arrangement by balancing the colours and shapes of thirty-one types of flowers, vegetables, and grains. Despite the illusion of reality, this bouquet could have never actually existed, as the various flowers would have bloomed in different seasons. De Heem often included specific animals and flowers in his work for their symbolic meanings. Representing darkness and decay, a salamander stares hungrily at a spider, while a snail, a moth, and some ants crawl on the marble shelf. The memento mori (remember that you will die) images are counterbalanced by the wheat stalks symbolising the Eucharist, and by the caterpillar and butterfly on the white poppy, which evoke redemption and resurrection.

Flowers – Summer Daze 

The alstroemeria flower has an array of meanings depending on the colour. But the beautiful blooms always connect to a similar meaning of friendship, love, strength and devotion.

They’re often thought to represent mutual support. And the ability to help each other through the trials and tribulations of life. 

The meaning behind alstroemeria derived from the six beautiful petals of the flower. Each petal represents a different characteristic: understanding, humour, patience, empathy, commitment and respect. Their twisted leaves are also a symbol of bonding, stability and overcoming difficulties together.

I took a series of images over the period of seven days. The following images are iterations of layering the different images in Photoshop. I experimented with the different blend effects whilst layering the images. I emphasised the blacks and colours, to replicate a Vanitas painting as seen above.

I used the top floor attic space at The Margate School to set up my vivant style image. The space was a perfect setting for the photoshoot due to no day light and being very warm. This meant (sadly) the flowers died quicker.

These were the four final raw images — capturing the flowers’ lifecycle.

The photoshoot set-up was simple, using one single light source pointing up which bounced light back toward the flowers, mimicking a natural light source such a a window. I used a black backdrop to draw attention to, and saturate the frame with the bright coloured petals.

Final print titled “Summer Daze”
1 m x 1 m

The tight crop adds further mystery to the dreamlike image. Inspired by many record sleeve designer, the square format to pay homage to record sleeve designs. The colours and tones has a similarity to the work of Hipgnosis.

Typography— Final Major Project

Considering the history and work of design activists such as David King, what burning issue do you wish to bring/campaign to a public or specified audience’s attention? How will you shout typographically? Where will your typographic noise be seen and heard?

I wanted my final major project to explore the theme of Greenwashing. Greenwashing is essentially when a company or organisation spends more time and money on marketing themselves as being sustainable than on actually minimising their environmental impact. It’s a deceitful advertising method to gain favour with consumers and takes up valuable space in the fight against environmental issues.

Image of protestors outside fast fashion brand H&M / Credit: The Big Issue

David John King (born 1943, West London).

“I always saw things in terms of film: close-up, longshot, multi-pictures, giant picture bled off. Crop it harder than it’s ever been cropped before, if it works. Contrast it, use primary colours, wood letters, double-printing, triple-printing – fantastic!” David King, 1998

After leaving The Sunday Times Magazine, King designed many covers for Penguin Books and other publishers, such as Pluto Press, often based on left-wing and political themes.

In the late 1970s, outraged by the treatment of black people under the South African system of apartheid, he volunteered his services as a designer to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, producing many trenchant posters for the cause. Similarly alarmed by the racist language and actions of the National Front, he designed protest posters for the Anti-Nazi League, which was set up to confront the NF. King’s covers for the left-wing London listings magazine City Limits share the same ultra-bold manner of design, which became his signature style. King’s last major commissions as a graphic designer were the art direction of Crafts magazine, from 1984 to 1988, and book cover designs for Earthscan, a publisher of titles about sustainable development.

I particularly like David King’s use of a bold, Sans Serif typeface, and clever use of colour throughout his posters. Your eye is led from one corner to the other, urged to look all the information presented on the poster. They seem simple, but powerful and effective. The colour combinations and bold type grab your attention, working together as a series or standalone prints.

I wanted to explore more tactile approaches to the posters, using materials found around me, to produce a ‘quick’ and ‘effortless’ protest poster.

The repetition of words in a tight uniform manner has a powerful affect.
Design by Christopher Wool
Untitled (The Show Is Over)
1993 (printed 2019)

The simple use of type, placed in a tight layout emphasises the meaning of language and choice of words.

Design by Max Kuwertz

I enjoy the creativity of distorting text to emphasise or create new meaning. Sometimes it isn’t always obvious how the text is distorted, either by hand on electronically which add to the curiosity of the design.

The block text overlaid adds some context to the piece. The text is an extract related to greenwashing in the fast fashion industry. The text is factual information to educate readers.

I initially wanted to screenprint the text on top of the graphic, to add some depth and texture to the print. After some layering Photoshop, I decided that having opaque text may overpower and discard the graphic beneath. Because of the scale of the print, A1, I thought that the idea of having transparent gloss gel to for the type instead (almost like a Spot UV effect). My initial thoughts were that this idea would work for a more subtle approach — the text wouldn’t necessarily be fully readable to the viewer that it would be subtle enough to appreciate in certain lights. This also imitates the meaning of Greenwashing — that it isn’t always obvious to the consumer.

However, after experimenting with the clear gel, the text became completely illegible and disappeared into the paper/print. I experimented with numerous coloured inks to get the same dramatic effect in Photoshop, however none of the inks worked well enough.

After some tutor feedback, I made some simple changes to the text formatting. These changes created a much more dynamic design. Inspired by David King, I used a strong Sans Serif typeface, using the text in uppercase. I increased the tracking and leading of the text for better readability. Rather than centre aligned, I moved the text to the left creating a ragged right edge – a nice suggestion was that ends of the sentences are like the hanging bits of thread. The full stops were replaced with a Zapf dingbat, making a larger dot and adding continuity with the printed block ‘O’ of Conscious. The dot-to-dot idea also draws in the viewers curiosity, emphasising the text.

After several screenprinting attempts, I decided to digitally print the final design. The printer created a slight metallic effect on the text which was a nice surprise.

Final design titled CONScious

Visual Language — Final Major Project

Project brief:
• TMS proposes an exhibition of the multi-dimensional world of visual language as
part of the Margate Festival. You are the curator. Choose between the following
– An exhibition catalogue (could be Newspaper Club; Blurb book; postcards in a
box; folded brochure; etc)
– A one minute animation to be installed in a front of house display
– A broadsheet presentation of the design of the TMS space (include dimensions but
don’t forget the wow factor)

I wanted to challenge myself to create a series of posters which resonated to the environment around me.

Using local news headlines as the starting point, I stripped the language which had a metaphorical meaning and would work well as linguistic elements. To gather imagery for the prints, I went on a visual language walk in Margate, focussing on the specific environments in which the articles were describing. Taking photos, I cropped in on these to focus on texture, shape and patterns; the visual language of the environment I am referencing.

Below are my first iterations for ‘SURFACE COLLAPSE’, one of the prints in the series.

I wanted the text to fall in a linear approach in a way which looked as if blocks were ‘collapsing’ or falling apart. The news headline for this print was inspired by an article based a roof collapsing by The Lido in Margate. I wanted to use the environment in which the article was based on as the inspiration behind the visual language; colour; form; composition. Whilst on my visual language walk I observed the colours of the Lido Sands old tidal pool.

Lido Sands, Margate.

There were three photos focussing on different angles of the Lido; the Lido Sands (specially focussing on the broken tiles), The Lido’s red tip and finally a blue textured roof sitting adjacent to The Lido. The coloured text was a reference to Margate’s beach/sands and yellow tiling on the redundant Lido Sands. I cropped in on the images I took to focus on texture, pattern and colour. I experimented with different compositions, overlaying text and imagery to form a harmonious relationship.

From these initial iterations, I experimented further with the images of the blue.

Final design for SURFACE COLLAPSE
A2 printed onto canvas paper

I rotated the imagery to create a better arrangement with the text. This way, it creates a more three-dimensional graphical print.

The repeated the words create a rhythmic pattern and the careful placement across the page are composed in a way to compliment the images. My initial idea was to screenprint the text rather than have them digitally printed. But after trying a few attempts onto recycled paper, the ink didn’t quite have the same dramatic effect.

These are iterations for second print in the series titled BRITAIN BEFORE BREXIT. I wanted to compose the text across the page to loosely represent a British flag. I initially began the design using lower case type but after some experimentation, using an all upper case Sans Serif type had more impact. I used Arlington House in Margate as the backdrop, cropping in on the jagged architecture. I purposefully honed in on a window using red curtains, to tie in with the red text. The red colour text is symbolic with the British flag, and could be interpreted with danger or a threat. Furthermore, the grey hues from Arlington House emphasises the red type.

After these initial iterations, I felt the type designs mimicking the architecture in a linear, jagged fashion, worked with the most effect.

Final design titled BRITAIN BEFORE BREXIT
A2 printed onto canvas paper

I experimented with screen printing the text over the top of the images

These are iterations for my third and final print in the series titled GASTRONOMIC BLISS.

I began the designs with images at large scale which overshadowed the text. I wanted the images to present a journey involving the different textures, patterns and colours of Margate’s beach. The headline and inspiration behind this print was from an article review of the restaurant, Sargasso, which sits on Margate’s harbour arm.

The design where the images are smaller and sit side-by-side to one another creates a distinctive break in the use of type. The heavy use of text in these prints were deliberate to create a pattern which could symbolise the sea, sand, chalk, rocks; the beachscape of Margate.

Final design titled GASTRONOMIC BLISS
A2 printed onto canvas paper
Experimenting with screenprinting the text

The inspirations behind these prints explore the notion of Concrete Poetry. Concrete poetry uses graphic patterns of letters, words, or symbols rather than by the meaning of words in conventional arrangement. The writer of concrete poetry uses typeface and other typographical elements in such a way that chosen units—letter fragments, punctuation marks, graphemes (letters), morphemes (any meaningful linguistic unit), syllables, or words (usually used in a graphic rather than denotative sense)—and graphic spaces form an evocative picture.

Multidisciplinary designer, Ryan Carl, explores this idea in his work.

I particularly like this example from Paula Claire, titled Etherealight. The broken text evokes a sense of floating, the placement creates meaning open to the viewers interpretation. The text could symbolise floating, falling, connecting.

Paula Claire, Etherealight, 1985.

Below are the three final iterations, printed at A2 size. The three prints could work as a series or stand alone pieces.

From afar, the small typeface could be similar to the text on a newspaper.

The block, tightly cropped images mimic the tight repetition of the text, working together in unison. I particularly enjoy the simplicity of these prints without having to give too much away.