Montage Of Beautiful Things: Process And Development (And Research)

The obstacles set myself for these assignments are as follows:

  • Show evidence of research and development.
  • Try something new and different.
  • Go out of my comfort zone.

Wall

So, ‘Wall’; I thought at first, “what the hell am I going to do with this?!” but once I had established a mind map and started to develop ideas from what the meaning of a wall is, physically, mentally, metaphorically and subconsciously, I found there was much more depth than originally expected.

First of all I listed some famous walls around the world: The Great Wall of China, The Palestinian Wall, Hadrian’s Wall and The Berlin Wall. I began thinking about how these walls are as iconic as they are, they all expressed different meanings and provoke varying emotions. Walls then became borders/territorial; ways of containing, separating, isolating and keeping things out. The idea of a prison; encasing groups of individuals within dull, grey walls of confinement, unable to escape to the outside world and freedom.

I instantly thought of the film ‘Run Fat Boy Run’ starring Simon Pegg. In this comedy, his character runs a marathon in order to regain the love of his ex-partner and along the way he must overcome emotional, physical and metaphorical obstacles. From this concept I thought of an idea based on emotional barriers throughout life. For example, relationship issues, overcoming bullying, problems at school/university, losing friends and depression could be such ‘walls’ to overcome. Take a look at this brilliant scene from the film.

Using this as inspiration, one idea was to film an individual climbing over walls within the city centre of Coventry and photoshopping text onto the walls; possibly filming in black and white to emphasise the harshness of reality and to exaggerate the meaning of the walls as emotional obstructions blocking the ‘light’ so to speak.

Relating back to the work I did last year on street art, walls are a place for artists to express their opinions on society, on economy, their personal experiences, to show off their talent (or simply just for pleasure). Walls are a street artist’s canvas, a space in which anything is possible and the imagination is free to run wild. I didn’t want to focus on street art however, as I have already produced a similar project and as specified in the brief I must ‘try something new’.

Delving into my imagination further I took the idea of walls being built from lots of little ‘walls’ (bricks) and thought of a complete wall as a society; lots of elements coming together to make a whole. Communities of people working together for one collective goal; teachers, students, parents, doctors, bankers, policemen etc. etc. to form a society based on values and ideology.

After the induction seminar I walked into the city centre and spotted that the Herbert Gallery was encased within glass walls (even the ceiling was glass). Perhaps some walls are intended to be seen though, but are unable to be passed through; you can see what is on the other side, but are incapable of reaching it. This could be metaphorical of times in life when you see something you want but will never be able to have it.

Lastly, I looked at texts such as ‘Narnia‘, ‘Pan’s Labyrinth‘, ‘Stargate‘, ‘The Matrix‘ and ‘Harry Potter‘ and watched how the concept of walls was portrayed in them. The clip bellow shows Harry Potter running through the wall at Platform 9 and 3/4. Sometimes walls can be broken down and overcome by the power of imagination and belief.

Doors are a ‘gateway’ through a wall; a way of cheating to some extent. A door is an entrance or an escape through a wall, it offers the user the ability to travel through what seems impassable to another realm; a different world? An inspiration of course is the following:

I will experiment with metaphorical ideas and personal experiences; I want my piece to be enjoyable and engaging for the viewers.

Dirt

After lecture I went and noted down all the things that came to mind based on the word ‘Dirt’. I began thinking about the obvious: dull, polluted skies, soil, dustbins, smoking, excrement, rotting food and bad hygiene. I thought I could perhaps do a time-lapse of the wasps nest outside my bedroom window as a close-up, but then I decided against it because I thought of something else… Dirty habits. I wanted to test this out and go around the university asking people what their dirty habits were, whilst of course keeping them annonymous. Hoever, I soon decided against this idea as a few others in the class had thought of it also, and I didn’t want to ‘jump on the bandwagon’.

‘Dirt’ is more important than you might imagine, I have had a look at large scale productions focused on this very same word. Take a look at this video from http://dirtthemovie.org/

“Cleanliness is next to godliness”, a phrase from the writings of Francis Bacon in his ‘Advancement Of Learning‘.

I researched into the work of Mary Douglas, an American anthropologist. In one of her famous books ‘Purity and Danger‘, she traces the words and meaning of ‘dirt’ in different contexts. “Turning to our own notions, Douglas argues that our association of dirt with bacteria should be discounted on account of it being a recent development. In our culture, dirt is essentially a question of ‘matter out of place’ [p 36], of that which we find inappropriate in a given context. It is concomitant with the creation of order.” (Taken from a chapter in her book from here. She attempts to clarify the differences between the sacred, the clean and the unclean in different societies and times.

Soil

Modern music is often described as ‘dirty’, in particular the rising genre of dubstep. Here is a “dirty beat”.

Dirty Beat

I was unsure whether to turn this word on its head and focus on ‘clean’. I could produce a piece about cleansing sins or ‘removing dirt’, but I just wasn’t feeling a connection with those ideas. In terms of ‘waste’, did you know 16% of the world’s population consumes 80% of the worlds resources? That’s terrible.

I looked into other forms of portraying ‘Dirt’, in particular creating art from it. Take a look at this picture:

Car Art

I suppose sometimes even things regarded as dirt and horrible can be transformed into something beautiful…

Take a look at this clip bellow, food can be deemed ‘dirty’ in one culture and delicious in others!

I dont know about you, but the weirdest thing I’ve eaten is snails, go no further!

Moving on swiftly, yet only slightly, I have been ill from food poisoning recently, therefore I thought it would only be appropriate to base my ‘Dirt’ project around it. I focused on the literal meaning of dirt; what it looks like/sounds like in particular. I desaturated the footage to represent the grim reality of the topic, and to metaphorically remove all hope/happiness from the images. I used time lapsing to exaggerate how we as students deal with dirt over periods of time; leave it all piling up until it gets too much to handle. The close-up shots help to anchor the meaning of ‘dirt’ through close detail. I used a voiceover of my lovely cough which I have been working on over the past week. Just thought I might as well use what I was considering as an annoying burden, as an advantage to help me on this task. As well as this I added in some pre-recorded sounds from an earlier project which are harsh on the ears: scrapping butter on toast and peeling back the film on a packet of bacon; they sound horrible in my opinion.

There are many things I will change when considering adding this to my final montage, possibly even re-shooting as I don’t like the quality of the footage and the shots used.

City

Bellow is the mind-map I created after lecture.

City

I wanted to focus on a few individuals (of different classes/backgrounds) and create a narrative montage of their day. I wanted strong visual images of the city including iconic locations, standard daily occurrences such as traffic and crowds of people; I wanted to express the ‘busy lifestyle’. I was considering writing a poem and read it as a voiceover, but never got round to it. I hoped to include some visuals and sounds of construction work to exaggerate how times are changing and how communities are being ‘reborn’.

Together with Kelvin and Tayo from my course, we sat in the window of Starbucks for 45 minutes simply observing passers by; their expressions, pace, attire, direction and humorously made assumptions of their history. By observing people I realised what I wanted to do for my production in New York (another post). No-one smiled, in 45 minutes, not one person. The majority of them had their heads down and listening to music with a dull expression. It is sad to realise that the world is becoming full of unhappiness.

Here is the final piece for my ‘City’ production. After some feedback I think I will be shortening it down and getting rid of some repeated shots, for example the time-lapse of traffic.


Time (and Space)

Working around the word of ‘Time’ the first idea that sprung to mind was the phrase “Killing Time”, and I thought I could maybe adapt this into a literal sense, visually, by smashing up my old clock in slow motion. But I thought this was too easy, so I looked at ‘time’ from a different angle. Time has no equal, everything changes and adapts, but time stays the same; Time was here at the beginning and Time will be there at the very end.

Time

Have a look at this photograph by Harold Edgerton. He has a whole collection of Time Motion Photography, which are absolutely stunning. I thought this would be something worth looking into.

Harold Edgerton Time Motion Photography

As well as this, regarding photography in Time, Eadweard J. Muybridge has pieces of artistic photography based around evolution, the passage of time and the movement of the human body. Another thing I considered for ‘Shape’ as well as ‘Time’.

Muybridge

Time has been recognised as one and the same with space; as Einstein ‘famously overturned the Newtonian notion that time is absolute—steadily ticking away in the background. Instead he argued that time is another dimension, woven together with space to form a malleable fabric that is distorted by matter’.

I started to think, what if I could create a piece which breaks down reality, what if I could make different people/objects interact with each other at different locations at different times? From this I then looked into videos which have used split-screen. This one in particular caught my eye; a music video by Franz Ferdinand:

I really enjoyed this style of edit, and through the use of FinalCutPro, I knew I could produce something similar within my group.

With a group of friends from the course I create a piece which uses the word ‘Time’ in combination with humour to create something entertaining that could be watched again and again allowing the audience to gather new visual information from each viewing. On the whole I was exceptionally pleased with this piece, it was fun to make, although difficult to time for the edit (no pun intended). Here is the final piece I created for ‘Time’:

Light

Light stands out in the dark of the night; I wanted to test out the shutter speed on a DSLR so I went out in the early hours of the morning and took some still images to see how they would turn out. I’ve had a look at some videos which I may take inspiration from, such as:

And also this next video, which is just brilliant:

Here are some of the photo’s I took, they are not great but it was just for fun. I will not be using any of these in my final montage.

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Shape

Since I was young I have been interested in how things are built, how each and every thing on the planet has it’s own unique shape. This varies from the shape of the human body, to as far out as the planets in our solar system. With the vast amount of things related to shape I was at first confused as to how to go about producing a piece on it, and then it hit me. I rented out some de-do lights from the media loan shop and using 3-point-lighting I created my own stop-motion animation using plasticine! My obvious inspiration for such creations includes ‘Wallace And Gromit‘, ‘Morph‘ and ‘Pingu‘.

Here is a video I produced while making my stop motion. This is not the final piece; as none of the DSLRs I had booked out were compatible with iStopMotion, I was forced to record on my Sony Handycam, which resulted in the quality being poor.

(Own Word) Perspective

I have always been intrigued by perspective, and how things can be perceived differently from different angles. My development of this word ties strongly in with ‘Wall’, ‘Shape’ and ‘Symmetry’ which at first was not intentional, however I believe in my final montage they will flow together beautifully. I took a Nikon D90 around Birmingham and searched for an alleyway or subway where I could collect part of my footage. I wanted to use visuals to reflect the feeling of isolation and mystery, and I imagined a location such as this to portray that. At this location I wanted to try  dolly zoom (vertigo) shot, such as this:

However, I could unfortunately not rent out the dolly for when I had planned, so I tried it handheld, which turned out no-where near what I had hoped.

Our perspective is extremely detailed, and varies from where the subject – or camera –  is positioned. Take a look at this:

I decided to see what it would look like placing the DSLR flat on the wall and experimenting with the focus and zoom rings. This worked out brilliantly and I managed to record some footage worthy of being in my final montage.

Symmetry

Symmetry is descended from the Ancient Greek translation of ‘similar measurement’; I aimed to adapt my montage piece to form a ‘satisfying arrangement of balanced distribution’. Here are some stills I have taken while travelling around Birmingham. These are probably to be the locations I take a video camera to later for my final montage input for ‘symmetry’.

Reflection

Mirror

Take a look at my final montage piece to see how I adapted this style into my production.

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