Play & Learn: Part 7 - Interim stage

The illustration course organize an exhibition in February to showcase the student's work in progress. My intention was to finish the game before the show so I could focus more on my IPS and external project. I spent roughly three weeks making bricks in the ceramics studio, experimenting with the laser cutter, ordering paper samples and working with InDesign. I went pass my initial deadline with two days, but I still managed to hang my work before the vernissage.

Even though I worked really hard, I still did not managed to finish all game elements. The game boards are a bit too anonymous, the information text on the cards suffers from too many hyphenations, and the paper I printed the rules on was too thick. I did address some of these issues for the Kolla! competition, but I suspect it will take a while to fix every tiny concern.

One thing that irritated me about the interim show was the lack of interactive space. I really wanted to showcase my game on a table with stools or chairs so that people could actually play it, but had to put it on a shelf as shown above. I mean, it is not the first year the course had the topic Play & Learn, so you think they would be better prepared for this.

Independent State: The alienated Flânuer of Peckham

The current project I work on had a slow start. There were to many things I worried about: I had an IPS and dissertation presentation today, assessment next week; I struggle with my finances and am looking for a new room to rent in September. I also started research my IPS, which was more fun but it also took precious time from the project.

I had several tutorials for this project. In my first tutorial, I discussed ideas and decided to do something based on masks and identity. My intention was to create a mask that reflects how communities create identities through celebrities and folk heroes. However, I was criticized for deciding the project's outcome before doing a proper research during my second tutorial. I listened to the criticism and did life-drawings in Peckham to generate ideas. This was very useful! Not only did I clear my mind, but I also found interesting places and objects that inspired me.

I went to my third tutorial this Monday, this time with another tutor. I showed her my sketches and discussed my previous idea. A dirty mirror turned out to be a turning point! Instead of trying to make 'the mask of Peckham', I would make a mask in mirrored card. After all, we use mirrors to reflect ourselves, to enforce our sense of personal identity. Today this role is taken over by selfies and social media, which both connects and alienates us: Even though I live in Peckham since October, I have only explored around 20-30% of the streets before I did my life-drawings.

I take masked selfies all around Camberwell and Peckham at this stage. The mask shows the alienation through hiding my face, my source of identification, while also highlighting my dependence of social media as a potential source of this alienation. Internet seduces me to chat with old friends, consume pop-culture, and plan for the future, rather than focus on the present and spend time with my classmates. If you look carefully, you may see my smartphone and/or the closest surroundings reflected in each photograph.

How can we break this isolation of the self? My personal solution lies in the act of walking. I often take a stroll when I hang out with my friends, chatting about everything that cross our mind while our bodies navigate through space. The act of walking also gives me a sense of power: Not only do I exhort my will and power over my body, but also over my surroundings. It feels that i de-mystify it in order to define it and ultimately control it. One of the first things I did first time I visited New York was to go for a 3 hours walk, just so I could get to know the city.

I plan to work more with this piece before our exhibition. I want to make a short video of the photographs like the auto generated Facebook videos, but I do not know how I should end it. Should I tear, cut, and break the mask every passing day, to show the gradual decrease of alienation? Or should I keep the mask intact since we cannot simply back away from internet and social media at this point?

Author Biography: Primer Workshops

The biography project was the last and biggest project we have done so far. The brief itself was quite simple: Each student was given one person from history. We had to research the person’s life, but also look into the time, place and culture she lived in. We then had to create a biography based on these information and events in her life we found interesting. It could be a book, an animation or a series of physical objects.

My character was Medea, Princess of Corinth and wife of Jason, the woman who kills her children. I thought this was exciting, especially since I am interested in mythology and drama. However, my excitement could be the source of some of my later problems. But I am getting ahead of me. Let us begin with the first workshops.

This workshop was quite simple. The idea was to first draw one image from imagination. Then we had to draw the same image based on references before we ultimately had to draw from memory. I decided to draw Glauce, the princess Jason tries to remarry. The left drawing was drawn from imagination, while the drawing on the right was based on reference. The crayons drawing beneath was entirely drawn from memory.

The following images and composites of another workshop were we had six minutes trying to portray ten interesting trivia that inspired us. Since Medea’s story is quite limited in itself, I also included trivia from Greece and ancient dramas. For example, did you know that there are never more than two actors on stage during the whole play? (PS: it was another student who added the blond pigtails in the last image.)

These images were experiments in expression. Instead of reusing clichéd expressions and imagery to convey emotions, we had to relate to the character, try to find similarities that we could use. After gaining some helpful advice from my tutor, I focused on the feelings of alienation and loneliness as  well as bitterness.

The last images were taken from another workshop that I stumbled upon. The tutor asked us to create simple play sets and then photograph them in different angles, lights and background to get a feel for composition and expression. The figures are based on an early idea I had, but that I either forgot or ignored. I also feel kind of guilty that I misplaced the photographs until recently, whereupon I did not use them at all in the final product. Maybe for the future?