I managed to fill out an entire sketchbook at the beginning of January for my IPS work, but most of my attention went into my Play & Learn project. I also worked on two personal projects that started out as foot notes but gradually took over my spring. This resulted in a sketchbook where the reference photos and moodboards almost surpass all the sketches. Most of the images were collected from library books and internet searching.
While the previous spreads focused on carte de visits and/or postcards, this spread was inspired by the “Moroccan Moments” and “Oriental Magic” banners, which suited the scorpion girl imagery that I already started working on. These references come from Abderrahman Slaouis book “The Orientalist Poster.” (Casablanca, Malika Editions) from 1997. I imagined that the two main characters agree to change their scene costumes to fit an orientalist theme. And since the sideshow was used to enforce racial stereotypes and eroticisation, I decided to look at oriental stereotypes rather than researching authentic fashion from Morocco. The sexualized depictions of women were later combined with a fantastic pulp cover to make a burlesque outfit in one of my final images.
These are the first thumbnails and/or quick sketches I did for the IPS, which feels like something I should have done earlier. I do not know why I have that gut feeling since I only used them after my primary research are finished, which it was at this point. I guess it was because my research were so vast and hard to define – I wanted my imagery to be quite realistic and follow the characters across US in the 1930s. Even though I’m slowly working to the finish line, it still feels like I have not done enough research.
These thumbnails also functions as the loose storyboard for the project. At this stage I imagined the final result to be a large interactive installation, a culmination of the experience I learned from the Play & Learn project. The images, as well as some short letters, would be presented in a cigar box. The audience would then pick up these memorabilia and put them on the wall, which would have different dramatic curves according to Kurt Vonnegut’s lecture about the shape of stories. Because of the interactive aspect, the images would not have to follow a strictly sequential storytelling but rather to stand out and be memorable on their own.
It took my at least one full afternoon to make all these thumbnails sketches. I focused more on realistic imagery and compositions rather than playing around with stylized or abstract image making. Main sources of inspiration was Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange for realism and Edward Hopper for compositions and level of detail. I also referred to Ransom Rigg’s book “Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past” (New York, HarperCollins Publishers) from 2012.
At this point I decided to quickly go through all the thumbnails and redo them with ink splotches. The idea was to trim down the imagery and get a better sense of the graphic shapes. I did not put so much effort into it as you might guess, but it helped me come up with creative compositions that were later used for the final pieces.