Inductions

I wish I could write that I had a positive experience during our inductions, but the painful truth is that I don’t remember any information from a single induction at the fab lab. Whilst here we were talked at with numbers and formulas which I don’t learn from. In my opinion we should have been hands on learning, the tutor showing us how to use the machine whilst actually using it, not him metaphorically walking us through it whilst teaching the mechanics behind it as, after all, we don’t really care how it was made, we care how to use the machine.

In addition to this, after the inductions we were basically told that if we did want to use the machinery, we would have to book a session and still have a 1-1 with a member of the fab lab team assisting us. This made me question the point of the induction in the first place as, what was the point in us having a group one? I would have rather spent my time developing my work in other aspects rather than wasting it in a place where I didn’t necessarily need to be.

Again, the individual whom gave us our tour spoke that he wished the fab lab had a stronger rapport with graphic design as this was a sector in which they didn’t have much clientele with. But, after these inductions, I didn’t feel comfortable in confidently going there on my own and working with a member of their team. I feel as though had I gone back, it would have very much been a repeat of the statistics I had already been told rather than actually using the machinery, and this obstructed my potential in developing some of my modules further. I know I have the resources to do so, but it’s a question of me feeling comfortable there and I know that a lot of other individuals also questioned this.

How it could change:

The inductions could be done in smaller groups and before going down there they should prepare something in which they would like to either laser cut or 3d print. I think this would be a much better use of our time as we could firstly learn how to actually use the machinery and then apply this knowledge to current briefs without actually realising how helpful that would be. This would encourage us as students to go back and develop other modules using the same process, I also believe it would develop our confidence there.

I think that the fab lab team should run their workshops baring in mind that we are students whom aren’t studying a degree in engineering so us knowing how the machine was put together isn’t necessarily a useful session. The fab lab is something we would use to develop our existing work and take it to that next level. A lot of us don’t respond well to being talked at with no visual guide, it’s very boring and quite frankly it feels like a little bit of a waste of time walking out of an induction with no artefact.

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Blogging

Blogging is something that a lot of amateurs take up to learn, discuss and showcase their work or opinions. It’s your personal place to showcase and can be anything you want it to, you just have to put some time, effort and care into it.  That’s just the fundamentals. If you want to go into the nitty gritty, there is a whole underworld you need to know about.

There is content management system (or CMS for short). A software application, or collection of related programs, that are used to create and manage your content. I use WordPress to blog, as you can see, and it’s known for it’s flexibility. It has one of the most popular CMS systems across blogging sites and you can find any template to suit your needs and aesthetic. There is also numerous plugins you can use to extend your sites functionality, a whole other world away from an ordinary blog in the blogosphere. You can find a whole range of plugins on Lynda.com.

Web hosting is where your website is stored. “Web hosting” refers to the company that rents out their servers to store your website and make it accessible to the greater public. It’s like renting a flat off of a company and inviting your friends around for dinner; sort of. However, there are four different types of web hosting: shared, virtual private server (VPS), dedicated, and cloud hosting. They are all very different in what they have to offer and which suits you best depends on what you wish to use it for. There are many different web hosting services available for WordPress but, again, it depends on what you want to get out of your blog in regards to which host you decide to use.

Database; every blog has a database. The database used by WordPress collects information regarding to posts, pages, comments, categories, tags, custom fields, users, site urls, etc. more than you anticipated.

Big data is defined as “extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions” or, in other words, say goodbye to your privacy.

ImageMetadata; your image title, description and caption. Metadata is attached to the image. This website delves into the reasoning of metadata and how to record it. Metadata helps optimize the the search engine; it helps relate your blog to content that is similar. Description helps with accessibility; blind individuals can imagine the the imagery your writing would reflect. That is what description is for.

Upon reflection I wish we had this lecture earlier on in the year as then I could have really benefitted from the information learnt as I had to revisit over 100 blog posts to reform any data I may have lost and/or failed to tag. Had this been delivered at the beginning of year 1 I believe that it would have made a bigger impact as we would have understood the importance of blogs and how they can be catered to our needs and practice, rather than the standard layouts provided under ‘free’.

Photographic Tales: Session 3 – The finale

I was sad to come to the end of photographic tales. Not only was Louise passionate about her field, she was also a genuine individual who always looked for the best in our work/thoughts and I think that is an important attribute in not only a lecturer, but a human being.

This is the session in which we brought out final product. An image we had taken partnered with a piece of text which could either relate directly or indirectly, through ekphrastic writing we had learnt that you don’t have to pin point a whole idea, just small details.

We heard from a couple of students whom wanted to share their workings and, I have to say, I was really impressed at the detail in which some had put into their work. In reflection, I wish I would have looked at that kind of deeper meaning but I like to work as a minimalist and allow somebody to make their own conclusion, rather than spelling it out for them. However, there was one student (whom I believed was from textiles) and he wrote almost two pages about a girl paired with a very well framed image that, in all honesty, could have been in a gallery. This thought process, detailing and willingness to tell a story really came across. His piece of work was my favourite by far and I think that his flexible work style will take him very far into the creative industry.

My final product:

van.jpg

My piece was a reflection on why I had been at the specific location I was as, had I not been, I wouldn’t have this image and I thought that was an interesting thought. However, once I started to think about it in the sense of ekphrastic writing, my storyline changed and I wanted to focus on why I thought the van owner may have been at this specific place.

Writing has never been my strong point. It something I do because I have to, not out of passion. So when I was presented with this brief I knew I would be outside of my comfort zone but it was actually really interesting. When placed in a new situation you have to throw yourself into it otherwise you’re not experiencing the whole thing, just scratching the surface. That’s why I wanted my writing to be a little ominous. Not quite because I had intended it, but because I also wanted the reader to come to their own conclusion on why I had written like that. Was it a reflection of me? Was it about the van owner? Was it called reflection because of the one in the puddle of water? They won’t know, but they can come to their own conclusion, and I think that makes the reader connect with a piece more.

To conclude, I really enjoyed my time with Louise in photographic tales. I was a little out of my comfort zone, but that is something I’m slowly learning to take in my stride. Out of the three experiences I can say that this was by far the most successful in terms of learning outcomes, I can take what I learnt here and apply it to graphic design. Again, I wish I could have had more time here as I think there would have been a lot more to learn about creative writing, but the time I did have was productive and beneficial.

Photographic Tales: Session 2 – Ekphrastic Writing

Ekphrastic writing is a method of visual description. Created by the Greeks, it is the oldest type of writing about art in the West. It makes the experience entirely immersive, intended to affect the reader in a whole new light, rather than just the ordinary touch and go feelings we may experience with smaller pieces of writing.

Jan Greenberg once said “the power of art to inspire language”, expanding; “what the poet sees in art and puts into words can transform and image”. I really transpire with this theory because a pictures speaks a thousand words. This allows the reader to engage with the creator on a new level, allowing them to connect deeper as if they share the same view.

The task:

This session was all about creative writing and allowing us to engage with the idea of Ekphrastic writing ourselves. Louise first showed us a TedTalk of Tracy Chevalier, author of ‘Girl With The Pearl Earring’. She spoke about her inspirations and her artistic approach; she goes to an art gallery > chooses the piece of art that attracts her attention and focuses on it, ignoring everything else > narrates a story about it. She looks at the deeper meaning, beyond the surface and builds a narrative about the subject/how they got there/why they were there and so forth.

Tracy looks at the deeper meaning. The story behind your natural assumption. We all jump to conclusions but she thinks about it historically, methodically and logically. This is something that could be practiced more within graphic design, rather that just having an aesthetically pleasing piece of art work. Somebody in our session said something rather interesting in relation to her process; “Her process is similar to light room. You take your images, sort through them and flag the ones you like.”‘. I guess this is the 21st century translation of her method.

If you tell too much, you shut the viewer down. They see them lose interest. you have to equal the story to visual story ratio.

Flexing muscles:

IMG_5669.JPGWe were then shown a photograph and asked ‘How much do you really see? Details? Actions? Expressions? Clothing? Gestures? Faces?’ We were to create a detail list. “The devil is in the detail.” Louise did this to put theory into practice. She gave us absolutely no detail alongside the picture, allowing us to come to our own conclusions based on our list. Here’s what I jotted down:

mixed expression. hand gestures. mixed genders. unknown. black & white. fear. line of children. happiness. school children. hand holding. support. uniform. officers linked. white socks. guards protecting children. badges. stripes. looking. crowd. tight. talking.

My natural assumption was that the image was taken in Nazi Germany and that the crowd was gathered to see the dictator himself. Children at the front to show how ‘caring’ he was (I call bullshit) and his onlookers swarming just to say they saw him. With this in mind, this is what I wrote:

“guards protecting children,

a school trip the see their “great leader”

holding hands through support

are they scared? a fear of him?

or are they nervous to come face-to-face with their ‘powerful leader’

A crowd behind them,

elated by the thought of seeing him

if only for a second.

Children a the front,

to make him look friendly

after all, one whom is kind to children cannot be a bad person, right?

or at least,

that’s what he’s trying to disguise.

He is kind to his own,

his master race.

children that are Jewish are not children,

they are ‘lice’

a mix of fear and elation

for a split second view

those children in a school uniform will age

only to swap their school attire for a heavy conscious

weighed down by their history

by what their ‘powerful leader’ attributed to their country”

I’m no writer, nor have I ever claimed to be one. So this for me was a new experience, one I can learn from. It was good to tell a story form a judgement. You let your imagination revel in detail, even if you only use a few.

The collective unconcious – Freud. Depending what the culture we live in, we jump to the same conclusion. We respond similarly as we have common buried link, usually that we have been taught. This is an interesting concept as a lot of individuals in our group, myself included, preconceived that this image was of Nazi Germany when, in fact, it was taken in the US at a presidential march.

Image crit:

Last week we were asked to take pictures (linked in my previous post) and this week we spoke about them in a group crit. It was interesting as we went around and whomever’s piece was being discussed they were not allowed to speak until everybody had given their opinion/thoughts. One of my pictures in particular proved rather popular; the camper van. The group all agreed that they liked the composition of the shot and how it had a retro vibe to it which, in all honesty, my favourite thing about it too. I discussed why I had taken it and how, and the group all responded positively to my piece which was humbling. Coming into a new discipline and being told that your image is one of the tutors favourites is settling to me, it’s nice to be on the right track.

In regards to others images, they were all strong. Some of my personal were the film students as they understand how to capture a moment and their  images really portrayed that. They were naturally good at finding that correct moment and a lot of their imagery you would see in a gallery.

my image: Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 19.37.59

Photographic Tales: Session One

Today I met with Louise Fago-Ruskin, a lecturer of BA Photography. She was eclectic, enthusiastic and a confident individual which delves well with me as these are the kind of individuals I connect with. She spoke a lot about reflection; whether it be our reflection on our work, the world or each other. She very much encourages us to slow down to enable us to take the world at our own pace, and be able to reflect on it and think about it within a deeper meaning.

Exercise one: ‘Fill this page with crap’. 

Here I was allowed to let loose. Get all of my thoughts, feelings and erratic pen squiggles out. This is where I drew around my hand, the notorious primary school ‘S’ marks and jotted down words I felt at the time. To fill a blank page, I still find difficult. You think that as somebody whom is studying an arts degree I would be able to easily put pen to paper and sketch ideas, but that’s not always the case. It very much depends on the individual and how they express ideas, I know that I prefer words to diagrams and that’s how I learn/how I process things.

Exercise two: ‘your choice’.

I chose ‘select an object on your desk and write about it’. Straight ahead of me were my glasses which I had just taken off as they were creating the worst kink in my hair, but at least something good came of it. This is what I wrote:

‘ Everything becomes clear.

They help you concentrate.

Their second job is to keep your hair out of your face.

Pink haze, subtle.

You always wanted to wear them as a child,

But now you have to you are over the appeal.

“They make you look smart”,

(Although you’re not).

Slowly breaking.

Uneven.

Ugliest brown hue/gradient.

Reflective.

“You use them as a mask”;

Glasses. ‘

On reflection, I annotated the connotative association I had with my glasses. How I wanted them as a child, but now that I have to wear them because I need them and that the initial appeal has worn off. I wrote down things that are often said to me when I or other individuals wear glasses, you often make you ‘look smart’ and that’s not always the case. I like this kind of written word because I think although it is rather ominous, it makes the reader think and that’s something that can be transferred to graphic design. Sometimes it’s good to make your reader think and assume from their own conscious, rather than spelling everything out for them. It’s a good method of advertisement and branding.

Exercise three: ‘go out and take some photographs, write down your thoughts and/or senses’.  

I made a day of this exercise. With a group of my friends I wanted to go somewhere new where I had no previous connotation with, somewhere I could experience things for the first time. We went to Burrator Reservoir in Yelverton on a sunny Sunday afternoon and completed the 4 mile walk (depending on the route you take). I took a separate notebook to jot down any thoughts and senses I had and this is the list of words I noted; sunshine, summer, green, friends, bright, happy, liberated, new, wet air, fresh, free, clean, cool breeze. These are the images I took:

After the reservoir we went to Plymouth Hoe as one of my friends told us about some roofs we could sit on, I know it’s something you shouldn’t do but I’m one for new experiences. Here we walked down next to the sea, climbed on the rocks, sat on the roof and had the typical teenage chats. Again, I took out my notebook and wrote down some words; summer, free, happy, “my foot is hurting”, I should do this more often, I could bring ….. here, fearful, liberated, dark, happy, something new, apprehensive. Here are some pictures I took:

 

Overall, I learnt a lot from this. Sometimes it’s hard to find motivation or inspiration, especially when you feel pressured, but doing things like this really help your creative side develop. It sounds crazy, but surrounding yourself with your friends and doing spontaneous trips really helps you realise from your mind and, in turn, motivates you again. I will remember this and continue to do it when I’m stuck in a creative block.

Zines

Zines are small, self-published and, often, nonprofit magazines. Zines are usually topic trending orientated, making them too controversial for main-stream media. They are often read by the creative mind rather than the academic.

The great thing about Zines is that everybody can make them. From art students wanting to express their rage at the effects of Brexit, to the stock broker whom wants to show the world the stress of keeping up-to date with the stock market. It’s quick, easy and cost-effective.

Zines are creative outlets. Somewhere to put all of your thoughts, feelings and emotions. There are no rules as to what makes a ‘good’ zine which is the great thing about them. They are about being creative, not to follow the crowd. This means that every zine is individual, no two are the same in any way. They will always be original and that is something that appeals to everybody in the creative industry as originally is key to good design.

Fanzines are also a form of Zine, usually produced by amateurs, for fans of a particular performer, artist or any ‘famous’ individual. I found a really good example on I-D dedicated to the Italian denim brand, Fiorucci. As you can see, there is bright colour, no specific layout to follow and, overall, it has a very do-it-yourself aesthetic.

After reading up about zines and their uses, something hit me (metaphorically). Zines are a low cost, mass produced artefact that you can create either digitally or traditionally and it really made me think about how I could use a zine in my creative practice. After some research I discovered that a few top universities are starting to create their own zines to showcase their students work and fundraise for final shows. I think it would be extremely beneficial to us, both as a university and as a course, to apply this method as we are a creative bunch and we could have some really interesting outcomes.

Personally, I like political and fashion zines. They are both interests of mine and I like how easily they can merge and/or overlap. Here are some zines that I researched and really took interest in:

SORT : SORT is a self publicised zine based on severe London. Usually, I wouldn’t really take much interest in things like this but something really caught my attention whether it was the mix of DIY and digital or just it’s complete disregard of the norm. As I said, zines are very subjective and personal, and I think this is the perfect example.

CLOG:  CLOG are modern and current zine makers. They write about both societal and cultural issues which is something I really take interest in. They have just the balance between written word and graphics, making them easy to read for individuals of all ages and developments. This is the about section on their website which I believe sums them up perfectly ‘CLOG — founded in 2011 and now in its 15th issue — is an international publication that critically explores one topic at a time from as many perspectives as possible. While online press, blogs, tweets, social media, and other digital forums have drastically increased the speed at which information is distributed, debated, and consumed today, the ceaseless deluge of facts and opinions can make it challenging to assemble a holistic view of any topic. CLOG slows things down. Each issue explores, from multiple viewpoints and through a variety of means, a single subject particularly relevant now.’

Young, Fresh and Relevant: I personally really liked the ideology behind this zine as they cater to young writers whom believe that their work may never be published. Not only is it clean, innovative and helpful but they also use the risograph to print some of their issues which is something we had excess to at university and could very well use this if we decide to make a course zine for fundraising. I’m going to get into contact with the creators of YFR to see if they would be interested in visiting university and giving a guest talk as I think it would be beneficial to hear from some professionals.

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 20.08.25Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 20.07.54Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 20.08.03

 

Risograph Printing

Risograph printing is extremely fast, cost effective and environmentally friendly. Each stencil, also known as a master), is made up of thermal sensitive paper which only takes a single print for the screen to be fully inked and ready to print a thousand copies in minutes.

The printing process of a risograph is similar to that of a screen printer. The pattern, text or image you are trying to print is burnt onto a master which is then wrapped around the print drum and rotating at high speed this pushes the ink through the screen and onto the paper. This method of printing is extremely swift and the amount of copies you can produce in a small amount of time is impressive.

When printing with the risograph machine you can either print digitally or from drawings/sketches. Either way, you have to separate your colours onto different sheets. For example, red, green and blue would be on three different sheets and then you would scan in each colour, and run the same sheet through the machine three times to add each colour and enable your final piece.

Induction: During the induction, we were asked to create a poster or a zine to showcase how the risograph machine worked. We only had a short time before we had to have our artefact ready to print. This meant we had to come up with a concept, work together and print rather efficiently. We had three solid ideas; 1. a lyric book (the great George Michael just passed and it would have been a tribute), 2. an infographic of the year gone by (again, the greats that had past in 2016) and 3. a book of his and hers new year resolutions. We voted and concluded that idea 3 was the lighthearted and cultured approach.

Here is the final product:

FullSizeRender.jpg-9.jpeg

Upon reflection I wish we had used thinner pens to create a neater outcome, or maybe have even experimented digitally. However, this really gave us the feel for the risograph machine and it’s production. Once it had both masters set, the machine printed at a remarkable fast pace. I can think of many of different uses in which I could use this machine, especially for digital printing and adding slight textures. I believe it would be extremely good for overlaying and meshing both texture / type. I hope to use this within a future module.