Project Brief - Perform
2a Having listened to five pieces of music (to be used as inspiration for a shadow piece) we got into groups based on our preference. My group was of five people and we selected the music below:
Chosen piece (music)
2b After having selected our music we listened to it again in the group and followed this by discussing our feelings in response to the music and what we pictured whilst listening. Our initial responses were:
- Woman walking towards ledge/cliff to commit suicide
- Infertility (woman letting out her feelings of sadness)
- Woman left alone on marriage day and stays eternally in her wedding dress with everything arranged and does nothing of her days
After having shared these ideas we realised that we all responded to the music relatively similarly and felt a sense of loss within the melody and vocals. This was quite thrilling as even though we pictured different stories and scenarios we all felt similar emotions and were able to capture this universally. We thus decided to develop these ideas through discussion and try to combine them to create our performance piece.
Discussion of music and ideas, thinking up of the story/Brainstorming
- Sense of loss
- Something growing (and then withering away)
- Organic, sensitive
- Egg something growing out - cracked, hurt, physical
2c After having discussed our ideas we discussed the story of a woman unable to have children and she is offered an egg by some ulterior force (represented as a large hand coming from the outside). From the egg various plants/vines would grow and then stop suddenly, and begin to wither leaving the woman heartbroken (see small storyboard).
2d After further discussion we expanded on this idea and had people hatching from the egg representing organic forms and decided to incorporate more conflict between the external force and the 'mother'.
2e We equally decided for the egg to crack and discussed the idea of including some sort of translucent membrane from either tracing paper or another sort of material adaptable to this idea. In the end we found clear bin bags which worked perfectly as a membrane (see photo to the right).
On Tuesday we began the day by learning about storyboarding and how to represent a performance piece using storyboards.
The first thing to think of when creating a storyboard is the frame and so we looked at different aspect-ratios typical of film and theatre (seen in notes). We were then to apply this knowledge to a practice storyboard of a “man walking up the stairs” and share our storyboards with the rest of those sitting at the same table. It was really interesting to see the difference between each and every storyboard resulting from the exact same instructions as people chose different camera angles and chose to show different narratives/reasons as to why the man would be walking up the stairs. Some also used a very simplistic style with little shading whereas others used more freeform and sketched drawings. The end product from this exercise was overall to understand how to clearly communicate a narrative or action through a clear storyboard. For example we were shown that it is important to space the frames correctly in order to clearly show a chronological order (typically left to right and top to bottom) for the viewer to understand easily.
From this we were assigned to draw a storyboard showing the various steps to our performance (seen below).
Following the lesson on storyboarding we were instructed to create a still image from our performance in order to represent the overall meaning/themes. Whilst discussing this my group and I agreed to create the scene where the egg is hatching, however in order to equally show the external forces getting ready to snatch away the ‘children’, we also included a couple larger blurred hands around the outside looking ominous and dark. Through trying to create the still when working in the White Room we found a variety of different effects that could be added into our performance and thus developed it even more. When standing in front of the projector I was able to create darkness on each side leaving a thin frame of light in the middle. We found this very interesting and thus decided to try out such a framing effect for the beginning of the performance with the light we were actually going to use. We ended up creating a small spotlight in the middle of the screen that the mother could walk into, and found that when receiving the egg, getting rid of this spotlight would represent the egg as the light that was missing from her life.
Today we were introduced to the new project called 'Reveal' all about the body and its form as well as its exaggeration/modification. We went through the project brief quickly (seen to the right) and then went to work in the White Lab to explore movement of the body and costume designs for performance which have changed/exaggerated parts of the body or altered its movement in any way.
See presentation and presentation notes below
Project Introduction Presentation
Reasons behind costume design?
- To hide, reveal, show/represent a character
- To change or exaggerate a feature or characteristic
E.g. describe the way Indiana jones looks like:
- Leather jacket, whip, hat
- Very iconic, people recognise him typically due to his costume design
- The way the body was altered
- Even male dress was very theatrical
- Altering the body through addition
- Feminine desired form
- Extending from a historical item to a performance costume
- Fine line between reality and fantasy
- Restriction (corsetry)
- Female body shape changing in the last 50 years (food, restriction, lifestyle)
Rebecca Horn (extending the ability of the body. Designed to be worn by the wearer but also as artefacts in themselves)
Comme des Garçons (Garson)
Difference between Japanese cutting and and European costume cutting
- Transforming the body
- Navigate the environment through addition
Lucy and Bart
How do we extend through movement
Costume to reveal something about oneself
The kinesphere (Rudolf Laban)
- Used in animation, etc.
The moving body - a line through space
- Breaking down the movement
- Charlotte Rudolph and Kandinsky
- Showing movement in 2D
- Extension of the body (Oskar Schlemmer pole dance 1928)
- Theatre as a playground exploring every day and pushing the boundaries
- Extends the dancer's limbs into space to show the movement in a different way
- Direct correlation between sound and movement
- Sound leading the movement
- Scenography - sound immediately interlinked with the movement
Body extensions for sound
- Where the costume is building around sound
- Bringing costume and modern dance together
- Costume as sculptural object
- Moving in it created the rustling sound
Moving the body to create music
Gestures linked to instruments
- Physical theatre
- Led through the costume, story told through costume
Our body and the way we move is separated into plane
- The door plane (lateral, one dimensional)
- Wheel plane (quite direct straight movement)
- Table plane (all-over movement, open, outwards)
Linking the corners of rectangular planes builds and icosahedron
The movement direction of the planes in relationship to the effort polarities
Efforts- polarities are the factor, for a complete movement there will be one of each factors
- Sudden (quick)
- Indirect (flexible)
Movement and drawing etc.
Sketching ideas about ourselves
Shared with partner
Today we began by making our costume/prosthetic for our partner. I had initially imagined using something such as rice and stuffing tights with this in order to create long weighted arms. Upon shopping I found bird seeds and thought that this might work even better. I therefore tried to put plenty of bird seeds into the tights and see the effect that this created however all of the seeds simply pooled at the end and did not look like hands/arms at all, but rather grotesque. I therefore decided to try creating a cardboard cut-out of a hand to put inside of the tights hoping that the form would impact the way the tights' foot was shaped enough for it to work with the bird seeds. I had this idea as I remember that sometimes socks or tights have a cardboard foot cut-out inside of them and thought that this may work.
After cutting out the first hand I tried to put it into the tights' leg however the fingers were slightly too flimsy to allow for this. I therefore reinforced the cardboard with some hot glue from the glue gun which worked quite well. However while the thumb worked relatively well, the rest of the fingers looked webbed. I wondered if there was a way of making them look more three dimensional and so tried wrapping a thin wire around the thumb and put it back into the tights to see the effect. It actually looked really quite good and three-dimensional however I was afraid that it would not work very well for the other fingers as if I filled the tights with seeds, it would still all turn into a large lump. Therefore I decided to try sewing in between each finger in order to avoid the seeds from filling those areas and so that the fingers would fill up. This worked somewhat well however it was difficult to fill the fingers with seeds after the material had been stitched down.
I tried filling the arm with more birdseeds to see the overall effect however because the seeds still poured to the bottom, the hand looked very oddly bloated. Once I added a bit of wire around the wrist to even the seeds out and the tights' material (as well as to create a handcuff-like element to the design, representing the inability to move) it helped spread out the seeds but there was still a bloated effect. This effect however looked quite interesting and works with the concept that these arms are unnaturally heavy and long, they are not normal and this is furthermore reflected in the appearance due to the inflated look created.
In the morning we worked on finishing our costumes and finalising the performances. Once I finished both hands and lengthened the chain I drew out a storyboard in order to visualise a potential performance piece for the costume. I initially thought that it might be successful for the performer to be burdened by the chain half way through the performance as opposed to immediately in order to see the contrast between normality and the weighted arms however when we practiced this performance it did not work very smoothly and was not quite effective. Our tutor, Kate, suggested that it would be more effective if the performer started off with the chains. We equally explored the idea of her shaking the chains off but did not like it as much.
In the end we had her starting on the ground with the long heavy arms almost handcuffed in the chains and she would swing them around, dragging along the floor trying to understand and comprehend the weight, finally succumbing and falling back to the ground.
While also finalising the choreography of the performance we equally chose a music piece which was relatively dark and slow/melancholic which somewhat reflected both the weight of her hands and the curiosity in what was causing the weight.
Today we began the project Transform by reading through the project brief and then looking at a variety of different artists and how they use sets to influence perception and performance.
Atmosphere of spaces
- Looked at various images and described atmospheres
- Car in the dark with headlights, deserted abandoned boat and shack (relic of past industry), abandoned train station (close to normal but little bit different, unnerving, eery), rainbow
Richard Wilson (Turning the Place over )
- Distorts reality, makes people question where art can be experienced
- Changing perception of a building or a room
Do Ho Suh
- Missed her home town - memory of space
- Recreated her house in a light fabric (memory of a place as opposed to actually being there)
- Recently vacated caravans, feeling of the person that had just been living there, memory of the past occupant
- Abstracting drawings he had done
- Cellotape creation
- Becoming part of the installation
- Amount of tape - smell of tape = overpowering
- Light sentence
- Moving light creating everchanging shadow - sense of imprisonment and confinement
- Based on her view of herself as a small dot part of all these other dots
- Infinity Mirror
Raining inside his palace etc. - King Lear
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind (2004) - Michel Gondry
- Stand directly in front to see the image
- What is an art piece, what can happen in a gallery
- Multisensory interactive exhibition exploring perception and decision making
Martin Creed (lights on lights off)
- Exists only as a set of instructions
- Deprived of sight, sensory deprecation
- Scale and precise lighting
Antony Gormley & Sidi Larby Cherkoui
- Monk performers boxes used for a variety of different functions (set, costume)
We began the day by discussing model-making and why/for whom it is done and what purpose it serves, as well as the scales used in different areas of performance for model-making.
What is it for?
- Testing layouts
- Visualisation of a plan in 3D
- Scale of a space
- Testing audience view
- Spending less money (planning tool, budget)
- Develop an understanding of your design in 3D
- Stop motion
- Working model (tests function)
- Special effects
- Sponsor (pitch)
- Architects --> clients
- Interior designers
- Lighting designer
- Costume designer
1/2" : 1"
1/4" : 1"
1/16" : 1"
White card modelling
For homework we were instructed to create three drawings (A3), each with different medium and styles, to portray how we could create a model of the opposite atmosphere from which we previously had:
We began class by discussing our three drawings in our groups ad receiving advice from them. When creating an atmosphere opposite to 'manic' I thought mostly of still and peaceful environments with lack of (bustling) activity. My three ideas (seen above) were essentially: 1) a long tunnel of open space with light shining in at the end (2) an elevated platform like a mountain/extended cliff on which the view could sit above many little lights (as though viewing the earth or a city from above) and (3) a dome in which the viewer could sit, alone, in the middle as if underwater (like on the inside of an aquarium.
When discussing these ideas with my group, I received some very interesting feedback. They overall quite liked all of the ideas and how they conveyed tranquillity however had some ideas. A first idea was to combine the tunnel and elevated platform in such a way that the tunnel would become larger and larger towards the end. I was also told that the way I had drawn my second idea actually looked somewhat manic due to the mark-making used to create the platform. This allowed me to realise that even if I was just abstractly representing the platform, the emotion conveyed plays a large part in the understanding of the overall idea and that this must therefore be in accordance with what I am aiming to provoke in the viewers/the emotions I am trying to portray. Someone suggested that, starting from my original 'manic' model, I could create the opposite atmosphere simply by removing the strings. It was then suggested that I could pull the strings up and to the ceiling or make them look like leaves on the trees, as this would create a much less manic environment due to the strings no longer being in the way or making the space busy.
Today we began the new project by quickly overviewing the brief and going through the magnify presentation (seen below).
Investigation into form and ways of seeing
Rodney Smith - works with old technology in regards to photography; a lot of his work is captured moments to do with scale (very simple)
To use a magnifying glass is to pay attention, but isn't paying attention already having a magnifying glass?
Akiko Ikeda (snapshots from a magazine and stands them up)
Their sight, your sight 2007
Models used as part of the work to communicate a concept to manipulate space or shape
Robert Wilson's devising techniques
From sketch model to final model
Slung Low, Helium, 2008
Small Worlds, 2008
Theatre replacement, BioBoxes, 2006
Maurizio Cattalan, Lift, 2001
Theatre like art is a biological function, it's just like every day every minute
Teresa Serrano, Vanishing City, 2001
Daniel Dorall, Lemmings, 2008
- Show small narratives
- The Inversion Theory, 2011
David Dimichele, Pseudo Documentation, 2007
- Using proportion of the space he is showing us allows us to understand and see the piece
Ralph Koltai, Madame Butterfly, 1995
- Used found objects as part of his design process
Anselm Kiefer, working with metal (found parts)
- Man under a pyramid, 1996
- Work about scale
- Don’t know how big something is until you see the piece
- Margarette, 1981
Robert Parke Harrison, The Architect's brother, 1999-2002
- Elaborates stories and creates these sets
- Every man struggling in his fight to save the world from environmental issues
- Using scale as part of the subject matter
Doris Salcedo, Shibboleth, 2007/08
- Irreversable Witness, 1995
- When going close and close you can see so much more (little bits of hair stuck to it, embodyment of the memory of that piece of furniture)
Is this concrete?
- Looking closely at concrete
Vincent Bousserez, Plastic Life 2007
Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, Yes Men Fix the World, 2009
Seven Sisters Group, Concrete, National Theatre Foyer 1999
Delving into tecture
Molecular image of textures; glass, wood, plastic, metal
Maria Blaisse, Onda 1996
Lucy McRae, Ghost Skin, 2010
- The body as being material for the creation of work; skin (enlargement of what skin might be like)
Robbie Spencer and Gary Card
Julia Fullerton-Batten, Teenage Stories, Chewing Gum 2008
- Creates models and stories in these little villages
Ason Barnhart Curious and Curiouser
Workmen in Snow
Nicholas Cobb, Revolt of the workers
- Building site
Graeme Webb, Bleak House, 2010
Ritta Ikonen, Snowflake and Baltic - 2007/08
Magnification of ice crystals
Robbie Spencer and Gary Card, 2010
Mareunrol, Nightmares, 2011
Levi van Veluw, Landscape 2008
- Landscape painting away from the 2D and into 3D
Otherwordly - 2D into 3D
- Narrative, sites between fashion and fine art and narrative (Yoshiwhatnot)
Lygia Pape, Divider, 1968/2005
Guy Limone, 2586 Figures, 2002
Michel Gondrey, the science of sleep
- Upscaling to bring in absurdity
Lizzie Oxby, Extn21, 2003
Daniel Ojari, Obscura, 2008
Corinne May Botz, The Nutshell Stories of Unexplained Deaths, 2004-09
- Forensic applications (models built by francis glesna lee), old models that recreated crime scenes
Paolo Ventura, Winterstories, Auromaton (2011)
Emily Speed, Inhabitant
- Much more fine art based, conceptual, psychological space being worn
- Are you safe if you cannot see?
Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton
Arthur Tress, Singing Chair, 1977
Jack Arnold, The Incredible Shrinking Man, 1957
Jason Barnhart, Apple Harvest
Slincachu Relic, 2008-ongoing
Today we each brought in 3 different textures and passed them around our groups so that we would draw them from what we felt (without knowing what each item was). It was very interesting to sometimes recognise the texture almost straight away, or sometimes only recognise it after a long while or even not at all. This was always intriguing as drawing from a texture becomes much more easily abstractable than from observation, leading to very interesting drawings.
After having drawn plenty of different textures out using different mediums and techniques, we were to select a texture and create a small box set reflecting the feel of this texture (not the look). I chose to use the drawing I created from the feel of tin foil as inspiration, because I liked the energy of the drawing I created and how jagged it looked. I therefore used many small metal wires and created an unwelcoming box full with spikes sticking out from the walls, creating dangerous jagged surfaces. The atmosphere created was hence uninviting and repellent. Using either the 1:25 or the 1:50 model had different effects due to scale, and I think that the most effective was using the figure of 1:50 because it made the environment even moreso overwhelming. It was also interesting to play with light and see how the wires reflected shadows gloomily on the walls. Light made the atmosphere not only unwelcoming but also very ominous and dark.
When going to conduct research on a few of the artists from our 'Magnify' presentation I was immediately drawn to researching Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland because of the incredible set design and costumes and huge incorporation of the importance of scale within the story.
While initially being most drawn to the perform/video option in our brief, I was also drawn to the costume design option within because of my interest in character development through costume and fashion. I equally wanted to try something more challenging than the vestment we made in pairs during 40 minutes - I was not completely satisfied with our outcome and therefore wanted to try costume again. On top of this I found researching costume design very interesting because of how fundamental it is in character portrayal yet viewers may often look past the finer details. For example when designing the costume for the Mad Hatter, Colleen Atwood added small details such as mismatched socks because "he lost his socks so they don't match" and embroidery along the pant legs because "we figured the Hatter had some spare time and when he's sitting there waiting for Alice to come to tea he did a little bit of embroidery on his pants". He also has a set of scissors and ribbon on his clothing for making hats in emergencies, and all of the buttons are different because "he's a little bit like a magpie and picks up things he sees and magically turns them into other things" (Colleen Atwood, video in research page).
I find all of these details very interesting, and this goes for each character within the film. The Red Queen's dress needed a certain neckline to allow it to show her neck to avoid the effect of a huge head resting on a small body. Her waist was also made much thinner and smaller to create a very distinct hourglass figure, counterbalancing the size of her head visually.
When thinking of what my project was to symbolise/convey, using my box and textured drawing as inspiration, I thought of the feeling of protection versus our true fragility. This was somewhat inspired by my thought of barbed wire which is placed as a tool of protection yet is so destructive a material. I thought of how we try to build a certain type of protection around ourselves yet are never fully protected and in fact always remain somewhat vulnerable, or are attacked when we least see it/expect it. Relating this thought to the human body I imagined someone protecting their front/neck (a very vulnerable part of the body) yet being completely bare and unprotected in their back.
This morning I finished off my costume by adding the skirt. I found this quite challenging as I was unsure of how to create something with an impact which still represented a fragility in the back and protection in the front of the garment. I tried placing pieces of white card across the bottom of the bodice however was not satisfied with the effect it created as it was very flat.I therefore bent a fairly strong straw to help the skirt stick out in order to create a more dramatic shape and feet of protection. I kept the back open however in order to continue representing the fragility in the back (I used tissue paper to create a skirt).
In the afternoon we set up the exhibition and got to see everybody's work and leave comments or questions. Some people wondered if the protection of the face at the front was also to conceal identity (which is in essence a sort of protection) and people equally said they liked the play of different textures. I found it very useful to receive feedback from an outside view as it always helps one see their work much more objectively. If I were to repeat this project or have longer to complete it I think that I would emphasize the protective aspects of the piece to create a larger contrast between the latter and fragility.
1 Today we began by discussing 'what performance is' in groups and what comprises a performance piece. My group and I suggested that performance may be found anywhere and is an art form that can be anything (everything that isn't a still image/piece). From further discussion with the entire class we stated the idea that for a performance to take place, there need not necessarily be an audience, or performers, and it can be infinitely long or over in an instant. It is overall a very broad term.
- What is performance, what makes a performance?
- Audience, being aware (yes or no)
- How long does it last? A minute, eternity
We then read the project brief (to the left) and watched a variety of shadow performances each with different styles and stories/concepts behind the work. The list of artists we touched on include:
Lyubomir Bukow (Shadow Dance)
Tim Noble, Sue Webster
Note: different objects give different tonal variations
Mona Hatoum (Light Sentence 1992)
Melanie Walker (Empty Spaces)
Christina Hardinge (Machines for the Living)
Pilobolus dance theatre
Cloud Gate theatre
Hitchcock (shadow and foreshortening)
- Shadow and light - the gobo (disc with pattern cut into it to portray texture)
- Mirror, colour shadow
- How you want to frame your piece
- Light through different materials to create texture (density)
2f We made a small egg out of masking tape and a larger egg out of cardboard which we cut down the middle in a jagged line in order to seem like as though the egg has cracked (when it hatches). Throughout our discussion of ideas and expansion on our original idea we used the screen a lot in order to experiment and determine what worked the best. (See photos).
2g At the end of the day we arrived at a planned performance (see larger storyboard).
We equally wanted to try experimenting with different textures in front of the light for both the membranes coming out of the egg and for various lighting effects in general. When trying to find our original plastic bags for the membrane we also came across cling film as a possible material and when experimenting with it found that it created a very interesting texture in front of the light. While it was slightly more translucent than the plastic bin bags, it looked slightly as though it were separated into small different cells, like a membrane would be. We therefore decided to use a mixture of both this material and the bin bags for the membrane which rendered very effective as a whole.
We furthermore experimented with water in front of the light and dropping ink into it to see if we could show (as a shadow) the ink propagating into the water symbolising the egg as the planting of a seed (as in fertility). Through experimenting we found that the water created a very interesting effect however was much too difficult to control and took more people than we had for the performance to operate well, and so we could not use it despite the interesting shadows it created.
As an independent study day, my group decided to come into school to practice and rehearse our performance as well as fine-tune it with finalising touches. After a lot of experimenting and practicing the routine throughout the day we came up with the final version of our performance piece (see storyboard to the left).
We start off with a feeble spotlight in the centre of the screen which the mother walks into, slowly with her head down as though she is sad. The large hand then enters, giving her the egg. As this happens the light becomes much brighter and covers the entire screen. She holds up the egg, lovingly, as if it is what has been missing for her entire life. Hands begin to edge in eerily and the mother retorts by keeping the egg close to her and cowering away from all of the monstrous hands. Her figure becomes larger and larger and a blackout follows. From the blackout an egg emerges, much larger than before with the mother watching over beside it. The large hand comes again, not so ominously this time and taps the egg, causing it to crack and hatch. Membrane-covered figures begin to emerge and grow from the cracked shell as the mother acts nurturing and caresses them. The hands then come back eagerly and with fingers hooked like a claw, ready to snatch the hatchlings. We tried to create more of a conflict between the external force and the mother by having them almost battle over the children before the force takes over and snatches them away, leaving the mother lost and hopeless. As the light dims down, darkness coming in from the top of the screen, she is pushed down and stays kneeling among the empty shell pieces left.
Following the presentation and after having discussed the three different planes on which movement exist (essentially the x, y and z axes) we represented these with our bodies and movement in pairs. While one of us would represent movement expressing one of the planes, the other would draw and vice versa until each person had both drawn and moved through each plane. This was a difficult task because not only did we have to represent various types of movements we were not yet too familiar with but we also had to draw continuous movement and changing poses which means either we did a lot of small drawings of each pose very quickly, which was challenging as it was very quick, or we could try larger more abstract-looking drawings almost merged together in movement. I tried both of these methods and did not find any one better than the other however they did create very different effects which translated different feelings (see images below).
After having completed all of our drawings and exploring the different planes of movement both with our bodies and in 2D, we all went through each plane again with our bodies, exploring the movement after further thought and reflection from the first time. I felt that doing this truly helped profound the knowledge we had learned about the different planes and movements that occur on each one and that the second time around it was easier to comprehend and thus to be freer in our movements.
We then had 15 minutes to draw what each plane felt like to us, and allowed us to reflect on how we could represent an emotion attached to movement in 2D; we could alter the medium and thickness in order to emphasize different strengths of emotion or hardness, and the organic or more geometric nature of the image could show the ease or freedom felt on each plane.
My drawing for the fist plane (door plane) is simply like a person restricted in a frame, however I tried to add strong bold marks to the drawing in order to show that while movement is restricted on this plane, it may equally be very strong. On the wheel plane, the movement is broader than that of the first however it is still very lateral. For the final plane I imagined the birds eye view of the movement that would be created by continuous spiral/pirouette movements. This drawing creates a much lighter and more frivolous emotion which reflects what I felt whilst moving on the table plane, as our movement was completely free and not so much restricted in where we could travel across the room.
After a while of making we got back into our pairs and joined another pair to discuss all of our projects. We described what we had done so far and what we were planning as well as the movement each piece was supposed to create, along with the materials we had used and why, etc.
Discussion of my piece, notes:
- Long, heavy arms to put weight on wearer's natural arms
- Made from tights (used because of elasticity and resemblance to human flesh (colour)), bird seeds (for weight) and miscellaneous materials such as thin wire and hot glue (for practical purposes)
- Was not too happy with the outcome so far
- Received positive feedback on the creation so far
- - Appreciated effect created by the bloated, odd look
- - Looks interesting when dragged
- I decided to equally try my original thought of large chains wrapped around the wearer's arms and dragging on the floor to add weight
After discussion and after having tried to create the arm as best I could, I wanted to explore a different route by going back to one of my initial ideas (the chain). I therefore took sheets of paper and folded them into links to create a chain from, and it ended up looking quite successful. At first I had been very unsure as to how to make something look like a chain without access to metal or other materials however once I just tried it, I was very please with the result.Through speaking with my partner and trying both on her, I decided that it would look very interesting to combine both of these elements into her costume and therefore simply need to create the second arm and add a bit more to the chain in order for it to be longer. Additionally, the chain strongly helped portray the initial emotions briefed to me by phoebe of having weighted arms and helped the piece become clearer to an external audience.
The performance went really well, the movements were synchronised with the music and feelings it provoked which rendered a wholesome portrayal of themes retainable by the audience members. After the performance we received quite positive feedback and people said that they really enjoyed the way the costume clearly conveyed the weight on her arms. Some people thought of themes involving slavery which i thought was very interesting as it did indeed look like she was handcuffed and this works in regards to having the inability to move her arms when she wants to; she has no control. The audience members equally enjoyed the costume; people liked the use of birdseeds in tights to create the hands as they found it natural and textured like skin, as well as really appreciating the chain and how heavy it looked.
Some offered the idea that it the performer reminded them of a child, and we discussed the possibility that this thought may have been provoked by the music. Some of the emotions evoked included sadness/distress, the feeling of being trapped, tired, etc. If I were to add to this performance piece or plan it again, I think that I might experiment with movements behind the performer's back and what effect would be created if she was stuck with her arms dragging in her back. I might also search for music reflecting a more lazy, drained atmosphere; such as: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpmAD4gcLMo (provides a weighted feeling) or something deep and slow such as https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDX8QrcDI_o.
After the presentation, in groups we received an adjective to describe an atmosphere and were to go do observational drawings of spaces we thought reflected this atmosphere.
1. Full of or characterized by frenetic activity or wild excitement: a manic fiddler; the manic pace of modern life.
2. Psychiatry Relating to or affected by mania."
When thinking about 'frenetic activity' we decided to go to King's Cross station to do observational drawings of this atmosphere. While it wasn't as busy as we'd hoped, we went onto different levels and drew the crowds from different perspectives and used the environment to create quick observational drawings. I tried to incorporate an element of movement in my drawings because, what truly made the large crowds of a train station manic was the fact that everybody is moving so quickly to get somewhere, without looking at where they are going or without much care of pushing through others.
After having completed these observational drawings we abstracted them and extracted the elements that stood out to us. I created drawings using tape and watercolours; adding plenty of colours to me created a more overwhelming and somewhat manic feel as one is obliged to take in everything at once.
In the same groups as before we were then to think of an installation/set that would portray this environment, whilst thinking back to our initial atmosphere and observational drawings. We each discussed our own individual ideas and then chose to combine these whilst discussing new ideas together and bouncing off of each other's feedback to create a solution.
My group and I decided to use King's Cross' architecture as inspiration to create large tree like structure. We then thought of the idea of everyone having to weave their ways in and out of these trees whilst attached to string or something that would leave their trail visible behind them. The idea was then that if people went through at the same time it would be difficult to both avoid each other and weave around the path that they have created themselves. By the end there would be this manic web of paths made by participants which would be very difficult to get through and create a stressful, almost crazy environment. To me this played on the idea of everyone bustling around each other and not taking the time to care about others' paths in life, yet if we were to visualise it we would find that while everyone has their own unique path, for some it will be easier to reach their end destination whereas others would find it much more difficult as plenty of people before them have made the path harder to get through. Despite this, everyone is trying to make it to the same end destination, despite taking a completely unique path to get there.
After having chosen this idea we were to create it in life-size. Because we could not create large trees with lack of space, materials and time we created a somewhat scaled version of this that people could still go through by using table legs as the trees. We hence asked people to crawl under the tables with string attached to their waist, and weave in and out through the table legs. After a few people there was already a web and it became more and more difficult for participants to get through (the more people had gone before them). People found it very difficult and almost crazy of a task, as it rendered quite strenuous. We tried playing different types of music, ranging from the Mission Impossible theme tune to upbeat songs. We found that songs with a fast pace made people more stressed to complete the path quickly whereas other music was more encouraging. I think that overall we succeeded in creating an environment that all of the participants found relatively manic, as they proved quite relieved once they had finished going through the installation.
I think we worked really well as a group because even if we all had different ideas from our observational and abstracted drawings, through communicating all of our ideas individually and then discussing them as a group we were able to combine many ideas successfully to create what we ended with. I think I am gradually making more and more progress in group situations and group-work thanks to mixing groups with each project and getting to know the various people in my class. I always value listening to everybody's ideas first and then combining so that nobody's thoughts are left out; I think that this method allows for the best result to be found as what will come out of the discussion will be a synthesis of the best parts of many different ideas.
We each had to make our own model of our interpretation of the idea formed within our groups, or a model form of one of our own original ideas (without using colour). I decided to merge one of my original ideas with what we came up with as a group and create a tunnel (inspired by the underground train tunnels) in which there would be large tree-like structures in between which people would weave while attached to string. At first I tried making the trees out of grey card and wooden splinters/sticks however Marie suggested I group some wooden sticks together tied with elastic bands to be more efficient with my time. When I tried this, the outcome was actually very interesting because it created texture trunks which someone resembled bark anyways. Constructing the model was not too difficult and was quite a fun exercise that allowed me to play around with scale and model making which I had not done much of before. Because we did not use any colour either nor concentrated on texture, the emphasis was placed really on shapes and scale.
This feedback was quite useful, particularly when we were assigned to actually create the model with the opposite atmosphere using only the materials from our previous models, but not discarding any of them either. This was very challenging at first thought because it was difficult to imagine creating something opposite with the exact same materials and little time. However, I liked my initial idea of the tunnel with the light at the end and received positive feedback on this idea. I realised that one does not have to completely alter the fundamental design/core in order to create a completely different atmosphere, as already simply adding light to the model completely changed this. I therefore decided to remove the poles and string from the tunnel in order to make it vacant and thus not manic at all. However, needing to use the same materials I decided to place the poles at the sides of the tunnel almost as a clear sign of which path to take (although there is only one). I also decided to cut a frame out of the end piece of the tunnel in order to shine light through easily. When adding light through the large hole, the effect was very interesting because it lit the entire end of the tunnel. It created an almost symbolic piece relating to finding the light at the end of the tunnel; I find that this works well as a contrast to the previously manic environment because it is almost like saying, the viewer is through the craziness of their hardship and has found the light at the end of the tunnel; they are through the difficulty.
After looking at the presentation and artists using scale and magnification within various art pieces/performances we each taped over a square inch of a particular object/part of the classroom with an interesting texture and sketched it out in A3. We then repeated this while zooming further into this texture and using a different medium. We then found another texture and created another observational drawing on A3 however instead of 5 minutes this time around we had 10. This was an interesting task to do in order to change our perspectives on very mundane things and zoom into them further than we usually would, seeing only the texture as opposed to the object's use or colour, etc. Using different mediums also created different effects which produced a variety of emotions even when drawing the same texture.
Above: Texture of laminated wood table
After doing this we got into pairs and set up large sheets on all of the walls. We were to choose one person to go first (P1) and one to go next (P2). P1 was to choose one of their textures to replicate using charcoal attached to a long piece of bamboo in order to draw from far away on a large scale. Whilst P1 was drawing their texture in large scale, P2 was drawing P2. I was P1 and drew my wood (table) texture in large-scale which essentially consisted of many vertical lines, however to make it more interesting I equally overlayed my other texture on top of this. We then swapped positions and P2's task was to draw a life-size if not slightly enlarged figure of a person, in a very simplistic way (essentially just the outline). Again, whilst P2 was drawing on the large sheet P1 was drawing them.
As a class we then discussed what all of the drawings looked like and the atmosphere they created. There were many organic shapes and it was mentioned that while in a lot of images it looked as though the figure stood behind the patterns/textures, it was sometimes ambiguous as to whether they were in front or behind or intertwined. The atmospheres were not yet very clear within any of the images, or a similar vibe was found within a variety of the drawings despite being originated from different textures.
From what we had drawn we then both worked to extract a sort of costume/fabric or creation onto the figure from the texture that had been drawn previously. I found this task very interesting as we were simultaneously making decisions on what we wanted this figure to look like but also were simply being guided by shapes and lines/marks that already existed and were not aware of what would come out of it as an outcome. After having finished my partner and I ended up with a figure which looked someone dark yet woodland-like as it almost reminded us of Robin Hood initially.
I also thought of the idea of feeling caged, and so I quickly sketched out a couple of ideas for the costume.
I decided to try experimenting with paper strips on a mannequin to create my idea, starting with the caged bodice. It actually worked quite well, so I continued building up these strips of paper to create a caged bodice with an open back.
Pilobolus Theatre (Shadows)
3 Our idea was therefore to represent a woman's motherly nature and devastation at the inability to have children and how once she has them she is overjoyed however must face challenges in order to protect and keep them. In the end, they are taken just as abruptly as they had surprisingly arrived into her life.
More symbolically we wanted to show the highs and lows naturally occurring in life and how the acts of giving and taking are not mutually exclusive; they alternate. It equally represents how having things in life is never a given and that we must fight for what we have, as well as how much suffering can be felt by a single person who experiences any type of loss or lack of belonging in life.
4 Overall the groupwork went extremely well and was very smooth. With open communication, everybody managed to express their ideas and partake in the conversation at all points. I feel that we were very much open to everybody's ideas and that as a consequence of this, our ultimate performance idea is at a much higher point thanks to everybody's individual contribution than it could have been with less people and less collaboration. Due to everyone's different views and perceptions, these combine to create something quite particular. We were able to discuss and work together the entire day which allowed us to experiment a lot with different materials and lighting as well as positioning of the performers in regards to these aspects. We therefore advanced quite quickly and already have props as well as a complete storyboard timed to our selected music as well.
Working in these groups was very enjoyable and was truly quite successful. We took many videos and photos in order to visualise different aspects of our performance and seek improvements. This was fairly favorable as we could not simultaneously perform and view the performance. Tomorrow we will hopefully go through the entire performance to music and thus fine-tune, adjust and perhaps add to it in order to perfect it to the fullest.
2h In the first part one would see the woman's silhouette walking in from stage left, looking down at her feet (showing sadness/melancholy). A large hand representing some superior force would come in from above her and offer her an egg which she grasps with motherly affection and holds to the sky. Various hands/vague blurry figures would begin to reach in towards and around her as she protects the egg worriedly. A blackout follows, and we are suddenly brought a close-up of the egg which has gained in size and the mother is still beside it. The large hand from the first scene reaches in and delicately taps the egg which cracks and thus begins to hatch with organic, humanoid figures covered in a membrane; these eventually break out as the mother nurtures them. The outside force comes back violently this time and tries to grab the children however the mother fights it off. It returns more powerfully and forcefully takes them away, leaving the mother completely alone and devastated on the floor. After a moment, another hand (just as in the beginning) comes in with a new egg.
Today we watched all of the performances and reflected on them together directly after each performance.
After having performed our piece, we received feedback from the entire class:
What people understood from the performance:
- Theme of childhood
- The inability to have children
- Child that died
- Sadness on the mother's part that her children are leaving
- External force, perhaps God, perhaps a close up of the mother herself
- Childhood being taken away
- Loss of innocence
What was thought of the performance:
- Good use of depth and silhouettes
- Good timing (with the music)
- Not rushed, fit well
- Thematically worked well with the music (Loss, Childhood, Melancholy)
- The song title Even Now - the mother as trying to have children for a long time and 'even now' she still cannot
- Theme of time
- Importance attached to the size of the egg; the importance of the egg to her has grown with time as does the egg
According to this feedback the class therefore understood the performance very well. While we more literally used the image of fertility we wanted room for interpretation as to, for example, what the external force could be, or even how the theme of ‘Loss’ is interpreted in each viewer.
Our group worked very well throughout the whole process and did not actually have any misunderstandings or disputes on how to visualise our interpretation of the music. While we each began with different views and representations in our minds, we easily worked together to create our universal presentation. I think that this was because while we thought up different narratives in response to the music, we had shared themes of loss and sadness/melancholy.
Sometimes we had different ideas of how to perform a part in the piece and we therefore decided to try each method and evaluate together which worked the best. For example when we agreed that the external force should snatch up the children, away from the mother, I suggested that we choreograph it with the real performers to look as though they are being taken away. Another idea came up of creating a person cutout and have the large hand snatch that up, to make it look much larger and more powerful. Because we could not decide which to do, we thus tried both and found that the small cutout was not practical and could not be seen very well when using the screen. We therefore carefully choreographed the actions during that particular part in the performance for it to look real.
Overall I hence find that as a group we were very open to each other’s ideas and to experimentation which not only allowed us to find many new/different ways to represent things that we might not have seen at first but also allowed us to easily and quickly create a performance of quality. We received a lot of positive feedback and the viewers generally understood what we were trying to portray.
We moved on from exploring movement of the body to thinking of things about ourselves and translating these to costume ideas which would exaggerate or alter our body's movement or emphasize something we would reveal about ourselves. Some things about myself that I expanded on visually include:
- Long/curly hair
- Wide hips
- Love for music/ability to listen
- Love for singing
- Hunched back sometimes (due to tiredness, feeling load of responsibilities/tasks weighing on shoulders)
Taking these various aspects I translated them visually sometimes using animal imagery and developed these into costume/prosthetic ideas (see image).
The main questions to be kept in mind were:
What do you want to reveal?
How can it transform the body?
How can It act as a prothesis?
How can it give you character or alter your character?
After having created these ideas for our own character traits, we discussed them in pairs. We were then to select one trait to describe to our partner in order for them to develop and create a costume for. The trait I chose to provide was the one of a hunched back (due to work, etc.) as I feel that this has a very distinct form which can be explored well through movement and costume. Phoebe and I discussed the possibility of portraying this through a costume which would pull the back down towards the legs by somehow attaching them, thus not permitting the wearer to lift their back to a straight posture. After discussion we equally thought of the idea of piling many boxes (each representing a different responsibility or stressor) on top of the wearer's back burdening them directly with a heavy weight on their shoulders. After our discussion we arrived at the idea of a train of boxes being dragged behind the wearer and causing a heavy load to carry in such a way that it must be dragged.
When discussing Phoebe's character traits these were my initial notes from her first idea:
- Weight in arms
- Arms as the heaviest thing to lift when dancing
- Visual representation of heavy
- Tights stuffed (with rice?)
- Handcuffed effect
- "When I'm angry or feel lethargic my arms feel heavy. I've generally got short arms so I wonder what it would be like to have longer arms"
- There is a point at which long arms would become a burden as opposed to something helpful
- Freedom or too much long arm - binds you
- Feeling irritated
We therefore thought of a costume which would consist of two very long, heavy arms attached to her own which would cause her to drag them along behind her on the floor. I initially thought that it would be interesting to weigh down her arms with large chains which would also emotionally show the feeling of being trapped but also the heaviness placed on each limb.
We then discussed what an extension of an arm could be like if we for example used nude tights stuffed with something like rice. We quite liked this idea therefore I think I shall experiment with the materials tomorrow and render whether or not this could be effective.
When trying the costume on our partner, very quickly drew two different depictions: 1) in movement and 2) one showing the form in just one line. This helped show the costume in a very bare and simplistic state whilst also portraying the project's emotional effect very well. Everybody had very differently styled drawings which expressed what they were trying to portray fairly well due to difference in medium used or mark making to represent what was being seen (in movement or form).
Seeing the very different styles was quite interesting as even though the message behind the pieces remains quite obscure it is possible to feel an emotion emerging from the sketches which creates a sort of primary understanding of each performance/costume.
Representing our thoughts in a moreso abstract way was very helpful therefore in portraying emotions and movements as opposed to exactly what we saw, and being able to see everyone else's methods in doing so further helped me understand the variety of ways in which one can represent movement in 2D.
What do you want to reveal?
- A feeling of weight in the arms, an inability to control her limbs/the inability to move them or lift them up. I think that the costume was able to convey this relatively successfully as the performer did not even need to act this inability out due to the costume's direct limitations on her movement. The lack of strong core to the arms and heavy birdseeds collecting at the bottom meant that she could not lift her arms up to have her hands towards the ceiling; they would always droop.
How can it transform the body?
- This costume transforms the body in such a way that it elongates the arms and makes them larger/bulkier and heavier. It additionally binds the arms through the chain and restricts their movement through weight and distance from each other they can achieve.
How can it be used as a prosthesis?
- The costume I have created is in essence already a prothesis because of the arms created which are two extra limbs.
How can it give you character or alter your character?
- It altered the character's entire posture/movement which is a fundamental part of character and personality. This costume therefore completely changed the initial character/performer by hindering her arm movements
I am happy with what I achieved during this project as in the beginning I was slightly stressed because I thought it would be very difficult to make a en entire costume to restrict/alter movement in the short amount of time we had. When we got around to brainstorming and creating the initial ideas I had no idea as to how I would create something to suit the brief. However it became much less stressful when I discovered that we were to create a costume for someone else's personality/what they want to reveal about themselves, because then I was simply able to take in the information given to me and work from that. It also helped me a lot to take notes, brainstorm and sketch things quickly in order to visualize my different options. My partner gave me a very distinct idea to work from, which, while restricting my possibilities, provided me with a clear starting point. She provided me with the idea of long, heavy arms to be dragged and from there I thought of using rice and tights; I eventually found and used bird seeds however through experimentation I finally succeeded in creating the costume fit for the brief. At first it did not work well at all because the seeds just created spherical sacs at the bottom of the tights as opposed to what could pass off as hands. I therefore had the idea of the cardboard cutouts which worked quite well when I tried. Throughout the entire creation, experimentation was my most helpful tool as it is what allowed me to progress and end up with both hands and the chain looking as successful as they did, and they were very much appreciated overall (by the audience).
We received the word "manic" and decided to go to King's Cross to do observational drawings:
It was also very interesting to see what spaces/environments people came up with who had very different words to us; many had relaxing environments which involved secluded spaces in which one could sit and relax as opposed to have to constantly move about like in ours.
The models we made only truly came to life when we brought them to the photo area and tried different lighting on them. Mine was somewhat difficult to light due to the tunnel however when light was placed at the end, the shadows created were very interesting and completely changed the space.
The addition of light completely transformed the model; due to the curved roof on the tunnel long curved shadows were created which had a very powerful effect on the model and atmosphere as a whole. While it did not really portray a manic atmosphere, this showed me how much can be altered with light and the true effect that lighting design has on pieces and on the emotions felt by the audience, which is something that we often forget or even take as a given.
When displaying the images taken of the models on full screen it really helped us imagine them full size, thanks to the picture making us look like we were part of it and looking into the model. It was quite amazing to see and picture ourselves in all of these different environments that we created in a very small scale but looked very real when projected in such a way. It therefore also allowed us to fully visualise how well we depicted our chosen atmosphere and what possible changes we could make to either portray a different atmosphere or improve the design or lighting. I found that people were very impressed with the shadows in my piece created due to the rounded tunnel roof and lighting coming from the end of the tunnel however I feel like this created a somewhat more intimidating vibe as opposed to manic. Perhaps to create a more manic environment I could have many spotlights coming from the roof or create a dark environment with low light on the ground level, or even red lasers as red can be seen as a somewhat threatening colour (hence causing stress, adding to the mania).
We then drew some abstracted drawings of our new model and set out the model with fixed lighting for the entire class to see and provide us with comments on.
Seeing what everyone else had created was very interesting; some were very similar to their original models whereas others completely deconstructed their models to rebuild one from scratch. I found that both of these methods proved to provide very intriguing and effective results.
- Simplistic, lighting makes it powerful as if looking at the sun
- By opening up the space the use of lighting has an entirely new effect --> less dramatic but more intense
- Effective way light affects the piece. What if it changed colour?
- Going in to the horizon. Simplistic, very effective. I wonder if the tunnel was darker how the atmosphere would chance; I like your ink drawing
- Nice contrast between the spatial space and …? It captures the intention as the more light reflect between the person and the space itself.
- The use of light is pretty fantastic. The evolution of the piece is very interesting. By de-cluttering and getting rid of the string the space seems a lot larger. It looks like a still from a James Bond movie, it is intriguing
- I like how you kept the same shape but changed the complete feel of the piece at the same time, making it now look ordered and spacious
- I also like the simplicity of this piece. I think the rubber bands are good for creating texture. They almost look organic, like branches or straw which I like a lot, however, because it is simple and ordered, it also looks almost clinical and manmade which is a nice contrast I think. Very cool.
- I like how you framed the man facing the light and I love how the whole space is like a lantern and makes me feel really warm by just looking at it.
Overall there were different emotions evoked within different people, however they all somewhat related to something opposing a manic environment: "ordered", "spacious", "warm". I therefore think that this was quite successful and really taught me how the use of scale, space and lighting can be controlled to change the atmosphere of an environment drastically.
As a class we then discussed everybody's drawings and the atmospheres or feelings they evoked for us. When discussing our drawing people said that it reminded them of the forest and that it gave them a feeling of being in woods. It also evoked a sense of darkness somehow, however it astonished me that people got a feeling of the forest as the texture I had drawn in the beginning was in fact of wood. Despite it having been abstracted and enlarged to a much greater scale, the atmosphere somehow still remained. This was quite a surprise as it did not happen with any other textures however it was also very thrilling. We then drew our large drawing into our sketchbooks, creating a more concrete image of our figure and the costume he was wearing.
Following this, in 40 minutes we were instructed to create the costume life-size out of only paper and tape. This was somewhat challenging as we both saw our costume made of leather and cloth/cotton whereas paper and tape does not fold in the same way at all, and it was therefore difficult to create an accurate representation of what we imaged through these materials. Despite this it was an interesting exercise in costume construction as we were to quickly represent something using limited materials and were therefore put under a pressure which allowed us to perform quite well and quickly.
Following the creation of our costume, we drew the figure on a person on a landscape page. After drawing the person with the costume, with or without modifications/additions, we drew the background scene in which it would be found. My partner and I both imagined a forest environment, the costume's purpose being for a film (versus performance/installation). We then had the choice of whether or not to add red, blue or yellow to our image and then discussed with our partner whether or not we would add one of these colours to the costume itself or the original image from which it was produced (aka. the background). We discussed the possibility of adding blue to the background to emphasise a sad, dark environment or possibly dark red to show a more aggressive environment, although in the end we did not apply any colour.
Afterwards we were put into groups to place our costumes together in a scene/display. It was very interesting to see how costumes could be grouped despite completely different paths taken to achieve the final piece. My costume was placed in a group with two others and we put them in a circle back to back with lights shining up from below them (as a display). It was interesting contrasting it to another group which had very historical-looking costumes that reminded one of royalty or a type of event in which gowns or decorated garments would be worn. They were contrasted in that their group was very matriarchal whereas ours was very patriarchal and this contrast was created by the shapes and forms created within each costume and where volume was added (i.e. shoulders which created a more manly feeling whereas volume around the hips was more feminine).
Overall today was a very fun and interesting introduction into costume design and creation of costume in a way I had never imagined before (starting from a texture as opposed to a narrative or a story/performance). The journey from observational drawing to costume was very interesting and led to a variety of intricate as well as intriguing costumes which could very well be used within narratives or performances, as each one portrays a different emotion or brings one to a different time/world.
After having created our boxes we were to come up with a story and draw its storyboard. For me, the metal wire reminded me slightly of barbed wire which led me to think of how a war veteran would react in such an environment filled with jagged metal wires. This led me to think of a short story in which a war veteran would become caught up in this environment from seeking shelter from heavy rain. However, once in this place full of wires he begins to have a PTSD shock/attack from the memories of barbed wire and falls to the ground with no one around to help him. At the end, in a zoomed in shot, we would see a hand reaching out towards him. This ending would be ominous as to whether the hand is there to help him and who it is. This story would also be in film version.
I was most challenged when creating the protective part of the costume, that would rest in front of the wearer's face, just under the eyes. I was not sure how to create a strong-looking shape that would still be somewhat fragile. My initial idea was to create it out of layers of tissue paper however did not find that this worked very well nor seemed strong enough as a protective layer. I then tried with white card and ended up finding a shape I quite liked, but it was difficult to keep it in place, so I tried bending the card in different ways and cutting it in different shapes to see which worked the best. I the end I found that I needed to attach the shape partly to the shoulders in order for it to form the desired curve I wanted. I am actually quite glad with how it turned out and ended the day with the bodice.
I found that the protective form that I created for the front of my costume reminded me slightly of the Red Queen's collar from Alice in Wonderland except almost as though it was the wrong way around. I quite liked the way the Red Queen's dress had a drastic impact as well, and realised that something was missing from my costume. I thus decided that I would to try create a large skirt still uniform with my idea of protection and fragility tomorrow morning.