If there is an action there is also an in-action; when one thing moves another thing is also not moving
A lack of motion can have an equally powerful effect
Suspension of disbelief of the everyday (main point of performance)
Peter Bond: Performance in the Expanded Field
Sculpture in the Expanded Field -
Per-form = through shape/structure/body. Through the manipulation of an object (physical or spatial/temporal)
Josiah McElheny - interactions of the abstract body
Transforming the shapes into kinetic structures; objects becoming devices to break viewpoint. Breaking down the idea of the fourth wall as the audience members become part of the piece as their image is reflected by the mirrors (forcing the viewer to become part of the performance; performance as a mirror of society to help us understand society)
"[In] Interactions of the Abstract Body McElheny [created] a large and varied body of work that looks at how fashion and modernism have intersected and influenced each other, especially through the common language of the body. Crucially, McElheny animated this dynamic with the constant presence of a performer. By combining a continuous flesh-and-blood performance with static sculpture in the same gallery space, a first for White Cube, McElheny radically fractures the distinction between performance and exhibition."
I also thought of the dance in this music video (Sia's Elastic Heart) because the movement is so emotional and evocative of many emotions including fear, or trust, etc.
^Odd box research
"Biomechanics, antirealistic system of dramatic production developed in the Soviet Union in the early 1920s by the avant-garde director Vsevolod Meyerhold. Meyerhold drew on the traditions of the commedia dell’arte and kabuki and on the writings of Edward Gordon Craig for his system, in which the actor’s own personality was eliminated and he was entirely subordinated to the director’s will. Coached as gymnasts and acrobats and emphasizing pantomime rather than words, the actors threw themselves about in puppetlike attitudes at the director’s discretion. For these productions the stage was exposed to the back wall and was then furnished with harshly lit, bare sets consisting of scaffoldings, ladders, and ramps that the actors used. Biomechanics had lost its appeal by the late 1920s, though Meyerhold’s emphasis on external action did become an element in Soviet actor-training techniques."
The Playing Audience
Canal Reach Research
"The office buildings here are just a short walk from the historic and cultural heart of King’s Cross. There’s a lively mix of people who live, work and study here.
The heritage buildings and cobbled streets around Coal Drops Yard will be buzzing with boutiques, restaurants, galleries, food markets, street food stalls and more. Perfect for a bite to eat or a spot of lunchtime shopping. The new Gasholder Park and Regent’s Canal are at the end of the street, and Lewis Cubitt Park and Square is just a short walk. These spaces are perfect for a sandwich in the sun.
With a multi-use games area and a health club on the street, there’s plenty of opportunity for a lunch-time workout. Pancras Square Leisure Centre with its new public swimming pool is just across the canal. A primary healthcare centre are located here, as well as the development’s only public car park.
Easy to get to
The offices here are just a ten minute walk from the King’s Cross St Pancras transport hub. With six London Underground lines, two mainline stations and international high-speed rail, it’s the best connected location in London."
Gasholder No. 8
"The iconic gasholder guideframes have decorated the landscape at King’s Cross for over 150 years. Gasholder No.8 is the largest of these, and was built for the storage of town gas for Pancras Gasworks, the largest gas works in London. Gas was manufactured here using coal from the Imperial Gas, Light and Coke Company.
The Grade II listed structure was originally constructed in the 1850s and expanded in 1883. The guideframe consists of 16 hollow cylindrical cast iron columns in two tiers and two levels of wrought iron riveted lattice girders. The distinctive 25 metre high circular guide frame has an internal diameter of over 35 metres. The gasworks remained in use until the late 20th Century before being decommissioned in 2000."
IFO (Identified Flying Object)
"IFO is created by French artist and architect Jaques Rival. By day, IFO acts as a framing device for the daily theater of the street. While at night it becomes a luminous spectrum, re-emitting the energy it has accumulated during the day."
Structure: 9m high, around 6.5m in diameter
Observations: The people walking in and out of the space are very joyful, open and childish as a result of the fun structure and the swing in the middle which people have fun on. It is ironic that the structure be shaped like a cage yet the people around walk in deliberately (of their own will) and always seem to enjoy being in it more than outside. I find this quite interesting as it creates a juxtaposition between the notion of liberty and freedom and being caged/imprisoned.
Idea of a cage that is ideal on the inside yet still a cage (Sword Art Online cage)
Develop idea of cage as an extended game - the idea of the game is to escape the environment in which they are trapped; starts off in this cage and once out of cage it is like an underground steampunk old victorian/industrial revolution type thing
Can fight monsters/demons along the way (like video game Dark Cloud 2, include in research) - includes notion of underground (King's Cross underground station, tunnels, etc.)
Steam trains as very steampunk and includes large element of King's Cross
When they escape the underground, go around canals etc. different stages different levels
Could have an arena/battle episode like Gasholder park
Can look around King's cross for inspiration in different levels/areas
Maybe instead of being different levels and each one begins a new 'episode' (cut up like in Dark cloud 2) it can be more of one whole fluid thing like Assassin's creed
See full mind-map in sketchbook
King's Cross Train Station
How to get from King's Cross to Edinburgh in the 19th century (locomotive)
- the North British Railway, from Edinburgh to Berwick-upon-Tweed, completed in 1846,
- the North Eastern Railway from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Shaftholme
- the Great Northern Railway from Shaftholme to Kings Cross, completed in 1850.
Pecha Kucha Research
“Creating animation means creating a fictional world. That world soothes the spirit of those who are disheartened and exhausted from dealing with the sharp edges of reality” – Miyazaki
We’re going to build a three story studio. It’s success is not our priority. Whats important is that youre doing what you want. Our foremost objective here is making good films.
One consistent theme in my work is to watch good animation and surpass it – Miyazaki
His work consists of some of the greatest animated masterpieces in cinematic history. For 40 years his dexterity and creative has dazzle audiences through his feature length animations, to become the undisputed master of his craft.
In the west there still remains a stigma that animation is meant for children, unlike in his home country. Western animations therefore avoid heavy themes we are more accustomed to seeing in live action films.
Miyazaki however takes an approach to animated film-making that is constantly in touch with the emotional intricacy of his subjects as opposed to flat characters. “His aim wasn’t to make films that spoke down to children. His aim was to make films that would help us all understand the human condition.” – Lewis Bond
Miyazaki was inspired by cartoons such as “The Curious Adventures of Mr Wonderbird” and early Disney films for their technical abilities however did believe that the emotional depictions were too simplistic.
Miyazaki hence sought to change the shallow nature of animation. His animations are not about the external flare but rather the internal subtleties.
Skill and proficiency of western animators mixed with an approach of eastern sensibility
The foundations for his films are found through empathy and reality. Empathy captured by the audience’s self-projection onto the characters and reality through the honest depiction of the unpredictability of people’s lives.
Focus on the emotional element which is what causes such attachment to his films
“A lady working in the producer’s office told me, that children need to see something incomprehensible and they’ll understand it later”. – Miyazaki
He says that at the core of all his stories there must be a sense of realism. His focus often lies on human nature and what can be understood irrespective of culture (characters that are fully fleshed out with clear goals), amidst the incorporated elements of fantasy. The starting point of any character is to understand what it is they want. Make it clear what your character wants to achieve, otherwise they’ll have no obstacles to overcome.
Miyazaki begins the humanisation of his characters through the purely visual means of character movement. He began his career as a manga artist, influenced by a style known as Gekiga: Japanese for “dramatic pictures”. Coined by more serious Japanese cartoonists who did not want their trade to be known as manga. It is in essence a form of manga with more serious stories and thus more realistic drawings.
Miyazaki has expressed distaste towards the anime industry for its overexpression used to achieve audience reactions (cheap tactics of achieving audience reaction through the overexpressionism of its characters). He thus tends not to focus on the large flashy movements of his own animations and more onto the subdued subtle ones. The characters he presents come with familiar idiosyncrasies; for example Chihiro tapping down the toes of her shoe to ensure that they are on correctly. It is actions like these that enrich the characters of Miyazaki, as it often can be something as simple as the minutia of an action that may emphasize who that character is. Spending time on arbitrary actions shows us how that character thinks through how they approach things, whether they may be careful or precise, or clumsy and stubborn. Small details at such a precise degree is what makes miyazaki characters feel human. We as an audience are able to recognise the basic tasks they perform that other film makers wouldn’t include, allowing us emotional insight into a character when they are at their most primal, and most recognisable.
The reason Miyazaki is able to so well portray realistic depictions of his characters is because he studies people so well. His comprehension of human behaviour is displayed through the plethora of actions within his characters. He never reuses the same expressions even with actions as simple as running. His character actions have innumerable variations as their behaviours are drawn to cater what the character is feeling in that precise moment. He includes character imperfections necessary for realism, such as Mei’s simple mindedness or Kiki’s rudeness. Audiences simply cannot empathise with characters written to be perfect. – Character shortcomings are a requisite for commonalities.
“Just because they are the protagonist, it does not make them infallible”.
Unlike traditional fantasy, Miyazaki doesn’t portray morality as a simple binary. The dichotomy of good versus evil is not present in his films. Everything and everyone displays elements of tenderness and elements of savagery. Nothing in the world is simply one or the other, it is an amalgamation of all emotions within a spectrum. Miyazaki proposes a theme of morality which is complex. For example Lady Eboshi who wants to destroy the forest yet houses the sick and gives the inhabitants of Iron Town a good lifestyle. It is not shown to repress the negative aspects of humanity because they exist all around us, it is part of nature. His stories are never about the protagonist winning, but rather adapting and growing to a world that isn’t built around their needs.
We are confronted to harsh realities, however they are addressed so that something positive may arise out of it. Many animations end with everything tied in a neat bow, but there hasn’t really been any development of the character. They achieve their goal without overcoming any long lasting personal obstacles. On the other hand, Miyazaki characters never end as the audience expected. They begin flawed and remain flawed, but their experiences have helped blossom their outlook. The solidarity and connection they’ve made with their world is an example of a spiritual liberation that the character has gone through instead of a material one. By the end of a miyazaki film, a distinction is made between what the character wants and what they really need. Sometimes the goal of your film should be where you want the character to end on an emotional level because even though our characters have clear goals those goals are never as important as the character themselves.
“You see, what drives animation is the will of the characters. You don’t depict fate, you depict will.” – Miyazak
Prioritisation of the human elements over the fantasy. His attitude of filmmaking: Miyazaki leaves a lot up to feelings and intuition. While the film is being made, the script and storyboards are simultaneously worked on. Because no one knows how the story will end, it is never made the primary focus. Instead, many scenes are planned out individually, not as story threads but as
methods of conveying emotion. It is a technique wherein if all we saw was the one scene, we would understand all of the emotional information that was there. To achieve this, Miyazaki simply continues to draw settings that evoke feelings. He is never concerned about plot in the early stages. Emotion is the key. It is important to instill this in the audience before anything else. The reason as to why his films portray atmosphere so well is because the imagery takes precedence, continually altering them during preproduction with no other objective than to have them make us feel something. The impression of a landscape is depended on the emotions of the person viewing the landscape. By displaying the world through the emotional perspective of the character, the world can reflect this emotion back. Human sensibilities are often connected to the weather, all of these meticulous details are what allow us to feel stronger emotion as viewers. Miyazaki takes the time to find the best way to replicated whatever mood the character emits through his worlds. Sentiment is what seeps from the pores of a miyazaki film.
Even the pacing is used in such a way as to higthen the response of the audience. The fact that Miyazaki uses many action-filled moments requires the use of slower, tranquil moments to allow the emotion have time to sink in. Western animation on the contrary seems to be the antithesis of this, very rarely slowing down the action. Miyazaki often utilises quiet, still moments to offer the characters and audience moments of reflection. They are periods in which the audience shares a moment with the character to figure out their situation or project their own feelings onto the character. He often lets time slowly pass by for our characters in the hope that the connection we have made with them is what speaks at that moment. Through the minds of our characters we have related; we know what they are thinking without explanation.
King Lear Costume Research
- The Making of King Lear's Dis-solvable Costume -
When thinking of the passage in King Lear where the latter is descending into madness, I thought back to the Chalayan water soluble dresses. I thought that if King Lear's costume acted so, this could make a good visual representation of his deteriorating mental health (especially as there is a storm in the scene (Act III Scene II) and the 'rain' could hence make his costume fall to pieces like his mental health).
Known as Water Soluble Fabric: http://www.barnyarns.co.uk/water-soluble-fabric/
During our idea brainstorming activity I came up with the idea of using masks for the characters during the performance, that would represent their character/personality and state of mind at that moment of the play (particularly for King Lear whose mental state is deteriorating).
I thought first of venetian masks due to their very famous aesthetic and possibly being one of the most known type of masks. I liked the idea of having the long nose, potentially made knobbly for the king who is old and becoming decrepit.
Venetian mask research: http://www.venetianmasksshop.com/history.htm
Research into Old Man masks
I then decided to branch out from venetian masks to see the other types of interesting prosthetics could be used for our performance and things more easily made in the time we have with the resources we have (particularly trying to maintain high sustainability in the creative process of this project).
Junior Fritz Jacquet's toilet roll masks immediately came up which I found very interesting and effective. Of course this type of mask would not be big enough to wear or use for a performance, however their concept is very intriguing.
After my research into masks I've decided that experimenting with actual materials and methods would help me most. While the mask in the first tutorial video looked very successful, the method seems slightly more complicated considering my group and I must make two masks and two+ sets of costumes as well as plan the choreography and script of our piece. In addition to the lack of time, this method seemed much less sustainable than using, for example, paper machè from old newspapers. I therefore bought a plastic mask from the school shop in order to try creating a character's mask from it with old newspaper paper machè. The collage effect created with the newspaper's words and bright colours actually created a very interesting effect which reminded me of the Harlequin chequered look. I therefore decided to leave the mask as it was, adding some green and red pieces of newspaper to the top that would enhance the harlequin look.
When thinking of movement and all of this research into bio-mechanics as well as some of the class exercises we've done so far (in the first class) this made me think of Years and Years' music video (shown below) for their song King. This is because the video has so much movement of the body and various bodies together that looks so effective and their connected movements can create an effect which replicates something else in the real world; for example when all of the bodies are like the ocean drowning the singer. I find that it looks incredibly effective particularly when he pushes out at the top above all of the others and then recedes to being pulled back in.
Throughout the project my group and I also experimented with different movements to conduct during our final performance, face paint, costume, props, etc.
We researched a variety of tribal face paint as we thought it could help unify the actors in the performance and tested this out in person finally deciding to use it. We also tried on bits of meshed cardboard to use as costume however opted to not have them in the final performance as we eventually found them distracting from the fundamental movements and cumbersome/difficult to deal with.
On top of this we tested out different actions and movements before finalising our choreography.
King Lear Research
My group and I received the Shakespeare play 'King Lear' , Act III Scenes 1 and 2. I have never read or seen the play before therefore did research onto the plot and characters.
The characters in the scenes that we have been given include Kent, Gentleman, King Lear and the Fool.
"King Lear - The aging king of Britain and the protagonist of the play. Lear is used to enjoying absolute power and to being flattered, and he does not respond well to being contradicted or challenged. At the beginning of the play, his values are notably hollow—he prioritizes the appearance of love over actual devotion and wishes to maintain the power of a king while unburdening himself of the responsibility. Nevertheless, he inspires loyalty in subjects such as Gloucester, Kent, Cordelia, and Edgar, all of whom risk their lives for him."
"Kent - A nobleman of the same rank as Gloucester who is loyal to King Lear. Kent spends most of the play disguised as a peasant, calling himself “Caius,” so that he can continue to serve Lear even after Lear banishes him. He is extremely loyal, but he gets himself into trouble throughout the play by being extremely blunt and outspoken."
"Fool - Lear’s jester, who uses double-talk and seemingly frivolous songs to give Lear important advice."
In the scenes we have been given, King Lear is falling apart and becoming insane. We therefore thought of showing the scene in such a way that would visually show Lear's fall into insanity and falling apart. (See reflection)
"Summary: Act 3, scene 1
A storm rages on the heath. Kent, seeking Lear in vain, runs into one of Lear’s knights and learns that Lear is somewhere in the area, accompanied only by his Fool. Kent gives the knight secret information: he has heard that there is unrest between Albany and Cornwall and that there are spies for the French in the English courts. Kent tells the knight to go to Dover, the city in England nearest to France, where he may find friends who will help Lear’s cause. He gives the knight a ring and orders him to give it to Cordelia, who will know who has sent the knight when she sees the ring. Kent leaves to search for Lear.
Summary: Act 3, scene 2
Meanwhile, Lear wanders around in the storm, cursing the weather and challenging it to do its worst against him. He seems slightly irrational, his thoughts wandering from idea to idea but always returning to fixate on his two cruel daughters. The Fool, who accompanies him, urges him to humble himself before his daughters and seek shelter indoors, but Lear ignores him. Kent finds the two of them and urges them to take shelter inside a nearby hovel. Lear finally agrees and follows Kent toward the hovel. The Fool makes a strange and confusing prophecy."
Scenes acted out example
King Lear Costume Design - John Seymour Lucas
Fool Costume Design - John Seymour Lucas
King Lear's 'Mad' costume - Cecelia Rae Sickler
Men's fashion 17th & 18th century
In the period when Shakespeare's plays were written, fashion was often very restrictive over the body (while sometimes changing to looser styles) and very ornamented/decorated, particularly for the nobility.
"...men's doublets and women's bodices were worn tight and stiffened with rigid stays or padding...the garments of both sexes were laden with ornamentation, from jewellery to lace to the showiness of multiple contrasting fabrics."
After the 1620's trends focused more on the loose and comfortable clothing; waistlines rose higher for comfort and ease of movement. "Men's breeches lost their bagginess and became slimmer and easier to move in."
Rich and decorative designs/materials were still valued however the rigid formality of clothing was somewhat lost. The large, stiff ruffs disappeared and gave way to broad lace/linen and flatter collars.
- French influence; materials such as silk, lace and brocade
- French fashions still ornate
- emphasis on the vertical lines of the body to make the figures look taller and slimmer
- In the 18th century stomachers were a large part of fashion (emphasising vertical slimmer lines)
Clothing became simpler by the 18th century.
My group and I wanted to fuse the 17th and 18th century styles to create costumes for King Lear and the Fool in order to explore the claim of Shakespeare's timelessness and also the costumes of these time periods.
"On their upper bodies wealthy men wore white linen or cotton shirts with a lace-edged jabot, or tie, topped with sleeveless waistcoats and a long-sleeved justaucorps, long overcoats. Below they wore satin knee breeches and silk hose held at the knee with garters. Working men wore much simpler, less well-made clothes of wool or cotton. By the middle of the century, wealthy men wore the same clothing, but the fit and decoration of these styles had changed quite a bit. The skirts of waistcoats stuck out away from the man's hips with padding or boned supports, and knee breeches fit very tightly against the leg. The fabric for men's clothes was bright and often elaborately embroidered with flowers or curving lines. Men's clothes at the end of the century, however, were very different. Most men wore dark clothes with little decoration. With the rejection of decoration, the difference between a working man's clothes and a wealthy man's became noticeable only from the cut and the quality of the fabric."
The Fool Aesthetic
Jester/Fool Venetian Masks
Paper Machè Mask
In order to make a mask fairly quickly but well I thought that we could try making them out of paper machè. I hence researched potential existing techniques to do so, particularly looking at creating wrinkles, etc. for the King's mask.
First example: http://www.ultimatepapermache.com/make-a-joker-mask
For the King's mask, we discussed this idea of a cracking mask, like his royalty falling apart. When looking through the leftover materials at our disposal for the project I found lots of red velvets, which I found very interesting and fairly regal looking. I hence came up with a design that involved a mask with both cracking gold and with red velvet, and this turned out fairly well.