La Jetée written and directed by Chris Marker, 1962

“However, aside from thematic visual palindromes, what is most remarkable about La Jettée – and the reason it has retained its reputation as a work of genius – is the way in which Marker manages to relate his story of travel and movement through the use of still images. By presenting these pictures to us in a sort of photo-montage – complete with brooding voice-over and various sound effects – the director somehow manages to bring the stillness of his film miraculously to life. It is, without question, a work of pure, unadulterated imagination, and a staggering testament to Marker’s genius ability to convey a multitude of feelings, ideas and emotions, through a series of simple, static, though nonetheless, deeply evocative images.” A review of La Jetée (source)

Strollin

This was my experimental short film in response to the brief and walk around Margate. I wanted to use this exercise to experiment as much as possible and discover the potential of editing capabilities through Premiere Pro. After the class screening and crit I now have a clearer vision on how to develop these experiments into something more refined and create a stronger more consistent identity throughout the entirety of the film.

My next goal is to resolve a more purposeful visual strategy from these experimentations. I’ll capture graphical elements (line/form/pattern/texture etc) from the environment around me which I’ll edit further into monochrome, blocky elements. These visual elements will be further emphasised and complimented by a musical/spoken word composition.

Below, are the original/unedited images used in the short film.

Hipgnosis

British design studio Hipgnosis was founded in London in 1968 by two photo artists, Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson.

Hipgnosis created some of the most innovative and surreal record cover art of the 1960s, 70s and 80s for many of the big name rock bands of the era including Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, Yes, Genesis, 10cc, Peter Gabriel, Bad Company, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Scorpions, Styx, Syd Barrett and Black Sabbath. Hipgnosis were nominated five times for Grammy Awards.

I like their use of bold, saturated colours and considered compositions. The subjects, their stances and split second outtakes reminds me of the idea of the uncanny. I want to use Photoshop and post production techniques to my advantage to duplicate subjects and manipulate the colours.

Album cover for Wish you were here pink floyd
Pink Floyd’s 1975 album cover for Wish You Were Here.
faceless man
The back cover of the 1975 Pink Floyd classic, Wish You Were Here, an album which relentlessly critiques the music industry. It features a variation on the burning salesman featured on the front cover, depicting a faceless agent selling Pink Floyd products in the desert.
red veil shot represented air within the inner sleeve of wish you were here by pink floyd
The red veil shot represented air within the inner sleeve. © Hipgnosis/Aubrey Powell/Harvest Records/Columbia Record
wish you were
The square format version of the ‘splashless diver’ shot by Powell. Lake Mono, California
Pink Floyd, Atom Heart Mother. 1970. Design Hipgnosis – Aubrey Powell / Storm Thorgerson. Foto Storm Thorgerson. © Pink Floyd Music Ltd
Pink Floyd, Atom Heart Mother. 1970. Design Hipgnosis – Aubrey Powell / Storm Thorgerson. Foto Storm Thorgerson. © Pink Floyd Music Ltd
The Creation, ‘66-‘67
Def Leppard’s second album High and Dry
Ian Dury, Reasons to be Cheerful
The Police, “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” single
Hot Chocolate, Every 1’s a Winner
Yumi Matsutoya, Voyager
The Nice, ‘Elegy’ (1971)
Genesis, ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’ (1974)
AC/DC, ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ (1976)

Portraits

NPG P620; Madame Yevonde - Portrait - National Portrait Gallery

Madame Yevonde
by Madame Yevonde
colour dye transfer print, 1940
14 7/8 in. x 12 in. (378 mm x 305 mm)
Purchased, 1995

This self-portrait combines many aspects of Yevonde’s picture making. It was also one of her last pictures made using the Vivex colour process. At the left is a still life composition made up of her photographic chemicals and camera lens. Yevonde sits within a gold old master frame which she often used in her photographs as a framing device. At the top of the picture is a version of one of her ‘Goddesses series’ portraits, namely The Duchess of Wellington as Hecate. In Greek mythology Hecate was a Goddess of the Underworld, Earth and Moon with powers in sorcery and black magic.

(source)

Paloma Picasso (1990). Model: Paloma Picasso, cover of Jardin des Modes magazine
En Plein Coeur (Right Through the Heart) (2016). Model: TOP (Choi Seung-Hyun)
Portrait de Lady Swinton (1996). Model: Tilda Swinton

May Ray

Glass Tears, 1932 by Man Ray
Glass Tears, 1932 by Man Ray

“Like the emotive expression of a silent screen star in a film still, the woman’s plaintive upward glance and mascara-encrusted lashes seem intended to invoke wonder at the cause of her distress. The face belongs to a fashion model who cries tears of glistening, round glass beads; the effect is to aestheticize the sentiment her tears would normally express. Man Ray made this photograph in Paris around the time of his breakup with his lover Lee Miller, and the woman’s false tears may relate to that event in the artist’s life” (source).

Dioramas

This week, we created dioramas inspired from a childhood memory as a starting point. It was a fun task; exploring creativity with found objects and recycled materials such as cereal boxes, bin bags, glass jam jars and mini led lights.

It was exciting to realise the artistic potential a few low-cost items can create and opened ideas to develop further with more time and resources. Photoshop helped take these dream-like images to another level. I like the idea of attempting to create as much of the raw data in the frame as possible and using post-production to emphasise elements of the composition.

Edited – I emphasised the blacks using the ‘curve’ tool and altered the tones using the ‘selective colour’ adjusted layer.

Raw image – Using a glass jam jar in front of the camera lens distorted and reflected the light, creating a dreamy, hazy effect.

Edited – I used multiple Photoshop layers to emphasise lighting and tones.
I experimented with the ‘perspective’ tool for a lower camera angle.

Memory

When I was younger, around 5 years old, I saw a ‘ghost’ through the window of my bedroom. At the time, I lived in Canterbury with my family until we moved house when I was around 6. I remember the layout of my bedroom which I shared with my older sister quite vividly. It felt cosy and just enough room to fit in a small bunkbed. The bunkbed was pushed up against the left hand wall as you walk in to the room and on the same wall as the door. If you slept on the top bunk and came down the stairs, you’d be facing the window opposite.

One evening, around Christmas time, I was waiting for my sister to come through to the bedroom once she’d finished brushing her teeth. I remember it was around that time of year because we used to have these 90’s vinyl Christmas stickers stuck to the window – putting those up made it feel more like home … I was leaning patiently against the bottom bunkbed whilst looking out of the window opposite me. From my height you could just about see the top of the houses to the back of the garden. It was dark and looked cold. There was usually this bright light which shone through the window, belonging to a house a few doors down.

Belle Vous Christmas Window Sticker (4 Sheets) - Large Santa, Xmas Tree,  Snowflake, Merry Christmas Window Clings Static PVC Stickers for Home Shop  Door Window Display Christmas Decoration Ornaments : Amazon.co.uk: Home

As I waited, I saw the top of a ladder appear and move close to the window. I suddenly felt scared and out of place. I was too engrossed in what was happening that the walls drew in around me and I felt fixated for a few more seconds. All whilst this was happening, and the ladder found its balance against the bedroom window, I saw a feather hat. It occurred to me that it was a young boy wearing a native American tribal hat – almost like a fancy dress outfit. As he was climbing to the top of the ladder and looking into the room directly at me, I ran away in fear.

I ran so fast into my parents room across the landing from ours that I nearly tripped over. They were making their bed and laughed as I came in screaming. I remember being so confused because they didn’t believe me. I explained what I had just seen and they kept saying its the light playing tricks. I thought they were part of a joke being played on me and I suddenly felt quite vulnerable.

I’m not one to usually get into ghost stories and to this day, I have never properly understood what that memory meant. Perhaps it was just the bright light creating an illusion…?

The Uncanny Valley

Life After Fiction: The Future of Lil Miquela
Lil Miquela. Instagram model.

Androids, avatars, and animations aim for extreme realism but get caught in a disturbing chasm that has been dubbed the uncanny valley. They are extremely realistic and lifelike — but when we examine them, we see they are not quite human. When a robotic or animated depiction lies in this “valley,” people tend to feel a sense of unease, strangeness, disgust, or creepiness.

The uncanny valley is a term used to describe the relationship between the human-like appearance of a robotic object and the emotional response it evokes. In this phenomenon, people feel a sense of unease or even revulsion in response to humanoid robots that are highly realistic. 

Origins of the Uncanny Valley

The term was first coined and described by the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in an article published in 1970. In his work, Mori noted that people found his robots more appealing if they look more human. While people found his robots more appealing the more human they appeared, this only worked up to a certain point. 

When robots appear close but not quite human, people tend to feel uncomfortable or even disgusted. Once the uncanny valley has been reached, people start to feel uneasy, disturbed, and sometimes afraid. 

“I have noticed that, in climbing toward the goal of making robots appear human, our affinity for them increases until we come to a valley, which I call the uncanny valley,” Mori explained in his seminal paper on the topic.1

Mori used a number of examples to clarify this idea. An industrial robot has little human likeness and therefore generates little affinity in observers. A toy robot, on the other hand, has a more human likeness and tends to be more appealing. A prosthetic hand, he noted, tends to lie in this uncanny valley — it can be highly lifelike yet generates feelings of unease.

Survival Response

Mori and others have suggested that the uncanny valley is an aversive, evolved response to the potential threats of death and disease. Because something is human-like but not quite lifelike, it may evoke the same response that people feel when they encounter something that is dead or dying.

Category Uncertainty 

Theories also suggest that the uncanny valley may exist due to the difficulty in determining what category an entity belongs to.

When something approaches a point where it seems to transition from one to the other, it can trigger feelings of cognitive dissonance. When people hold conflicting beliefs, they tend to experience feelings of psychological discomfort.

In this case, there is a conflict between the belief that an entity is human and the belief that it is not human. Something that looked human might abruptly appear nonhuman, or it may even shift back and forth as the viewer observes it.

(source)