Monday, 21 February 2011

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Semester 2; Assignment 2.


For this assignment we were to work in groups, so I got together with Lindsay McQuarrie who is also studying Textiles Design. Megan McGinley my partner from the first assignment and Patricia Lip, Lindsay's partner from assignment one.

For the first part of this assignment we were to read The Rhetoric of the Image by Roland Barthes. This took me a while to do as I found it quite hard to understand what was being said in the chapter. Once having read it over a few times and after discussing it within my group something finally clicked. In the chapter Barthes talks about polysemy which is simply the idea that images have more than one meaning and once that meaning is understood it leads to lots of other hidden meanings. He also talks about the idea that the meaning of an image can be fixed just by adding text. Therefore the meaning is no longer open to interpretation. This is what we will be trying to find out as a group in just a few experiments set in this assignment.

The next part of this assignment was for us to pick three random photos. These images were used in a simple experiment where we asked people to create a story linking them. The images could be used in any order in which the person wanted and the story only had to be a few lines long. We got each of the people we asked to write down their stories for us so we could compare them all later.
Here are the photos we used;

From these photos we got a variety of different stories, but there were also a few that were quite similar. Here's some examples of the kind of things we got;

- Someone has won first prize in a cooking competition at the local village fayre. It has all different kinds of events such as clay pigeon shooting.

- A man lives on a farm with his wife. He enters a pie eating competition and wins first prize. To celebrate he rounds up his friends and goes hunting in the forest.

- A man lives in a small village. He enjoys hunting and has recently killed a pheasant. He makes pheasant pie and enters it into the local cooking competition. He wins first prize.

- There was once a young man, who had inherited a lovely little farm in the Yorkshire dales. He was both a keen Hunter, Farmer and Cook, So one day he went out hunting with his son. They managed to catch two pheasants which he then cooked along with vegetables he had grown at his farm. The dish he created was so amazing that he entered it into the local village competition and won.

As you can see the stories shown above are all quite similar. These were the inspiration for the second part of the assignment. In this part we had to choose one of the most popular stories to act as a "target" story, which is shown below;

"Someone visits a local village fayre. There is a few different events such as shooting, cooking and pie eating competitions. They enter a competition and win first prize."

In the third part of this assignment we used this "target" story as a part of another experiment in which we asked different people from the first experiment to again create a story with the images given to them. This time we also added another photo to our three originals, but it wasn't to be a random image, we were to choose this one.
Basically this part of the assignment was to see, if by choosing a photo that links the other photos together, we could influence what people's stories would be. So the aim of this experiment was to get as many people as possible to guess the "target" story without giving them any hints or tips. This was the fourth photo which we added;

There was a few unusual responses to this experiment but there was also some successful stories too. I found that most of the stories were along the right lines but the people we asked had added more detail into their story than we had in the "target" one. Here are a few of the best examples;

- A man/farmer who lived in a remote highland crofting community went out shooting one day. He shot a pheasant for a pie he was going to make. He made his pie which won first place in the cooking competition at the local highland show.

- There was a small fayre in a nearby village which was hosting clay pigeon shooting and a best pie contest. A woman entered the pie contest and won a prize.
- One day a young boy and his dad took part in a shooting competition at a village fayre in the Yorkshire Dales. The boy won 1st place in a pie eating competition and was rewarded with a prize ribbon.

- A family attended a village fayre where there was activities like shooting, pie eating contest, cooking competitions, etc.

As I said before the stories shown above were our most successful responses to this part of the assignment. We also had other responses that were totally random and weren't linked to the "target" story in any way.
Overall I found this assignment interesting as I got to see how people interpret images in different ways and how different the first responses were to the ones when we added another photo or single word. This all comes back to the idea of polysemy and that our experiment agreed with Barthes. By doing these experiments it has definitely improved my understanding of polysemy. I think I'll now be looking more closely at images and at how and why people have added text to restrict images to a single meaning rather than leaving them open to interpretation.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Skills Week.

During skills week we were asked to choose a specialism in which we were most interested in pursuing for the next few years. For me this decision was easy. I chose knit. Print was a definite no go for me as I found out during textiles in practice back in semester 1. I didn't like using print to translate my designs in my sketchbook as I wasn't very good, and to tell the truth I couldn't deal with all the mixing of the dyes. Even though knit can be frustrating quite a lot of the time it was definitely the specialism for me.
Throughout this week we discovered new and different techniques to use in our knit samples. It was good as we got to mess about with the knitting machines rather than having to produce samples for our sketchbooks. I found this week a little frustrating at times as I messed up a few times, making holes and dropping stitches in my pieces. Here's some of my successful samples from the week;

These first three samples were created by using punchcards. I quickly got the hang of using these and found they were good for creating patterns easily. We were also shown how to use the punchcards in other ways to create elongated and fair isle patterns.

This sample was created by using a slip stitch technique while also using the punchcards. I really liked this technique as it created a nice pattern when I varied the colour of yarn I was using.

We were also shown how to weave using the knitting machine. The sample on the left of this photo didn't turn out as well as I would have hoped as the yarn I chose was too thick and it kept getting stuck. I liked the overall appearance of the full weaving though and would definitely use this technique again. The sample on the right is also an example of weaving but it's slightly different as I did an e-wrap weave. This was basically the same approach but you can control how much is weaved into the kitting and lets you create shapes.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Semester 2; Assignment 1.

Our first assignment of semester 2 is all about snooping. Over Christmas we were asked to either collect a few unposed photos of ourselves between the ages of 13-20 or to take photos of our room, without tidying up first. When back at uni everyone was assigned partners who we were to exchange photos with. The idea is that we don't know our partner and we were to try and figure out the type of person our partner is just by snooping at their photos. We were also not allowed to meet up with our partners until we had done the first part of this assignment (snooping at their photos). While I was at home I didn't manage to find any unposed photos of myself from the age 13 onwards, this meant I had to take photos of my room. My partner Megan gave me all photos of herself so I think it will be quite good to see how different our assumptions are just because we are using different types of photos. Whether it is easier to determine someones personality from their room or from photos of themselves.
I actually found this assignment quite hard to get into and had to study the photos for quite a while, but once I got started I managed to get into the swing of things. I found that the book "Snoop" by Sam Gosling, that our lecturer had set for us over Christmas helped a lot. It told you what sort of things to ignore and what ones to pick up on. If I hadn't had read this book beforehand I would have found the assignment a lot more difficult. I really enjoyed this assignment and I'm looking forward to reading what Megan thought my room said about me.

My partner Megan gave me 10 unposed photos of herself when she was younger, I'm guessing ranging from maybe around the age 12 or so, but she could have been younger, to maybe a year or 2 ago. In quite a few of the photos she is with her friends, mostly the same one who I assume might have been her best friend as they look quite close. Megan and her friends are wearing similar clothes in most of the photos, same styles and colours, which could mean she is influenced by her friends or they are influenced by her. In one photo she is wearing the same necklace as her friend and they also have similar braids in their hair, this backs up what I said before. Megan's photos also show her wearing pink quite a lot which could may have been her favourite colour when she was younger, but it also could have been that's just what her mum bought her. As I have said before most of the photos Megan gave me she is with her friends which suggests she is a friendly and sociable person. She also seems very relaxed with her friends, this is shown in the few photos taken in her living room. Megan also comes across as a cheerful person as she looks happy in the all the photos she has given me. 
In some of the photos I had looked at there was quite a few different animals present. In 2 she is playing with dogs, in another Megan and her friend are playing with a cat and in another couple of the photos there is a fish tank present in the background.All of the animals may not be hers but it looks like Megan does like them and she could be an animal person. When with the dogs she is photographed outside, this could mean she also likes to spend time outdoors. Backing this up is another few photos of her visiting a beach and outside in a garden playing with a ball and racket.
There is also a few photos in which Megan is in lively or action poses which shows she likes to have fun. Another photo that shows this is true is of her and her friend and they appear to have drawn on each others faces, in this photo they are laughing which shows they are having a good time.

For part 2 of the assignment I met up with Megan to discuss what we had managed to figure out about one another from our photos. I wasn't sure how I had done but Megan informed me that I had gotten her almost spot on. I had even managed to spot some things in her photos that she hadn't even noticed.
Megan told me what she thought my photos said about me, and I have to say she managed to describe me nearly exactly. She got that I am a happy person and that I'm quite girly, she was also spot on about my "organised clutter" in my room. She got that I'm quite sentimental too as I have a lot of old possesions from my childhood on show on my shelves. I found that Megan was very successful in describing my personality. I believe that photos of someones room are a lot more helpful when distinguishing their personality rather than old photos of themselves, as a room has many objects that can be used to display a persons character. Therefore I think I would have found out more about Megan if I had photos of her room as she was a lot more successful in describing my personality as she managed to get a lot more information from my room.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Assignment 4: Reading and Reviewing.

 Assignment 4 asked us to look more closely at two of the articles/books we chose in assignment 3 and write in detail about them both. I chose two articles that looked into the area of designing out crime. My first article was "Ghettos Blasted" by John Glenday and my second was "Seeing Is Believing: Notes Toward a Visual Methodology and Manifesto for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design" by Lorraine Gamman and Tim Pascoe. I chose these articles as I found their way of thinking and how they would look into crime prevention interesting.

Assignment 4

The first article I looked at was “Ghettos Blasted” by John Glenday. In this piece he spoke to Miles Watson, founder of Urban Eye, about his campaign to revive downtrodden streets with considered scaleable interventions. He asks the question - isn’t now the time to take a fresh look at our secondary spaces? This article covers all of Watson’s ideas for combating vandalism on the streets, how he would improve them by using art and design rather than installing CCTV cameras and bright lights in a Big Brother type of way.
The most important information in this article is how people are responding to the outlook of the streets just now. Urban Eye took surveys from different cities around the UK and these were the results. 61% of residents would consider taking a taxi rather than walk or cycle through streets covered in graffiti and a whopping 83% would seek to avoid the streets altogether. There is sometimes an exception and graffiti can be considered as art, but only when enough time and effort has been put into it. No one will consider a spray painted wall that has taken barely 5 minutes to do as art. People respond to the work that Urban Eye has done because they take a lot longer and more artistic energy has been put into the pieces.
The charity has looked at James Wilson and George Kelling’s “Broken Windows Theory” and have taken that into account when creating their installations on the streets. They look to create pieces that will discourage vandalism. Some graffiti is inspiring, for example Banksy’s pieces are individual and creative, if more graffiti had the same qualities as Banksy’s work then it may be considered as art. Its all about discovering the fine line between art and vandalism. Watson states - “Graffiti artists are sheep, they’re not people with original ideas. Making that first move requires more.”
Watson comes to the conclusion that improving how an environment looks is much better than controlling what happens within that environment. Basically there’s a better chance of decreasing vandalism by putting up art installations like brightly coloured mosaics to discourage graffiti than to install CCTV as they are more likely to respond badly to the CCTV. Vandals will most likely increase the amount of graffiti they do around the area as it gives them more of a thrill. Miles Watson puts across the idea that a negotiated environment is better to one that is regulated as it places responsibility into the hands of people who are well able to live up to that.
The main point of view presented in this article is that good civic design is about responding to context, not to the general fix. Developing different approaches to crime prevention within an area is better than to just roll out one idea across a city. The idea of fighting vandalism with art installations is more likely to work than just painting over the graffiti, it just creates a blank canvas for them to start again, and once one tag appears then another will follow and so on. By engaging with a community and giving them an input in their local environments Urban Eye believe they can help reduce crime and vandalism in an area

The second article that I read was from Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An International Journal, and was written by Lorraine Gamman and Tim Pascoe. The article is based on The Designing Out Crime Association and their thoughts towards a visual methodology: to offer a manifesto for practitioners. So far members of the association have expressed some disappointment that there isn’t much visual evidence of practice-based crime prevention work referred to in their recent debates. They believe that greater emphasis on visual communication will help make the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design case.
The most important information in this article is the documented facts from successful or unsuccessful design so far. This is important to the DOCA as it will help them to improve their designs. For example the “Alleygater” project was presented as a “success story” of crime prevention design, but they had very little visual illustration or assessment of the types of gating. In the photos that were shown in the article they didn’t seem to compliment the housing they were supporting and it was suggested they had a “criminal appearance”. Gamman and Pascoe mention that the gates may have reduced the actual recorded incidents of crime but may also have increased the fear of crime for some residents. This shows that we cannot really know how successful something is unless we have the facts and visual aids. These will help the DOCA to monitor, assess and manage the designing out crime projects.
The writers of this article have come to the conclusion that a visual methodology and a visual archive of designing out crime will help the prevention of crime. The use of visual imagery of before and after design processes may help the success of designing out crime. Without the aid of photographs of previous designs DOCA

Both of the articles make strong and quite different points about crime prevention and how to go about it. Some points are quite contrasting but overall they both aim to prevent crime within an environment. While the first article focuses in on how to discourage the vandalism side of crime within an area the second article looks more into crime prevention in a larger sense. John Glenday talks about Urban Eye and their idea of reviving downtrodden streets with art installations such as ceramic mosaics while also preventing graffiti vandalism. Whereas Gamman and Pascoe look at how gates and walls can prevent crime. They also believe that visual evidence is always an important part to the success of designing out crime. The idea of gates and CCTV in article two contrast with article one’s views on how CCTV and harsh white street lights create an almost prison like atmosphere on the streets and that they can increase the fear of crime. Miles Watson from Urban Eye in article one says “Good civic design is about responding to context, not the general fix”. I believe that the concept put across in article one is better as it involves the communities input and tries to see the best in the people living in an area. It is as though the charity Urban Eye hopes that people will respond well to being treated as responsible citizens, rather than dangerous children that need looking after.


Gamman, L. and Pascoe, T. (2004) "Seeing Is Believing, Crime Prevention and Community Safety". An International Journal.

Glenday, J. (2010) "Ghettos Blasted, Ghetto Concerto". Urban Realm (Summer Issue)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Textiles in Practice.

So a few weeks ago I had my textiles in practice 3 week block. During these 3 weeks we got to try out some knitting, printing and mixed media, and in each section managed to translate our sketchbook work into samples. I really enjoyed my time doing knitting and mixed media, not so much printing though. I found I couldn't really produce anything that I liked and went well with my sketchbook work but I will post some photos of the most successful pieces. I think my favourite must have been the mixed media week. Don't get me wrong, I loved the knitting week too but I feel much more comfortable on a sewing machine than a knitting one. Mostly because if I do anything wrong I know how to fix it. Here's some examples of the samples I produced:




Some development work..

So this past week or so I've been rather busy preparing all my work for my assessment. Everything is now handed in to be marked so I thought there would be no better time to do a few posts as I've been neglecting my blog recently. Managed to take some more photos from my sketchbook today while I was setting out all of my things so I thought I'd post them. Here is some examples of the type of development work I have been working on:

In the two drawings above I worked with photocopies. Cutting out shapes from previous drawings in my sketchbook and working into them by adding a background or drawing on top of them.

In this drawing I put down a brown ground just by using a pencil which I smudged in and applied some masking tape to the bottom right. I also used some old brown packing paper which I had rolled up to create a crinkled effect in the first drawing. I then melted a gold wax stick to draw with, I really like the textured effect it created.

In this drawing I again put down a brown ground and used strips of thick masking tape but I only did a simple drawing using brown ink and a dip pen.

In this piece I again worked on top of a photocopy which I have cut up into strips. I then added some more vibrant yellowy/golds and browns on top using paint on top of which I drew some simple linear trees.