The project I’m currently working on is all about going crazy on the dance floor. I absolutely love to go dancing, let loose, have a ball, go a little bit mad. People who love dancing will tell you that dancing is freeing. Dancing is like flying through space, it’s like traveling through time and being able to be a million different people. I like to go dancing in clubs because I like the coloured lights, the disco balls and the darkness. It feels intimate, and spectacular and it looks like you’ve entered another world, which is why so many people are able to let loose and forget themselves when they are in a club. It’s such a harsh contrast with the crispy bright freshness of the next morning, the return to reality.
I have started playing around with images of space and photos that I have taken on nights out, because as my tutor pointed out to me a few days ago, nightclubs can look very similar to galaxies. I think they are alike in terms of how they look, but also in what they represent : a big open space that you can float and fly through and that’s isolated from any concept of time or reality.
The new Tintin exhibition opened up last Thursday at the Somerset House. His creator, the Belgian cartoonist Hergé (1907-1983), is one of the most famous cartoonist in the world and his work has been very much celebrated over the years. The exhibition was a collaboration with the Hergé Museum in Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium).
The description of the exhibition on the Somerset House’s website (2015) promised a visit inside the ‘wonderfully eccentric world’ of Tintin, which sounds like a child’s dream. Indeed, the exhibition was very colourful and quite beautifully decorated with Tintin blue and white striped wallpaper, prints on the walls and very impressive 3D pieces in the center of each room. However the exhibition was quite disappointingly short as it only consisted of three relatively small rooms. It surprised me because after having read the website description I was expecting an endless display of wonders only to find the collection to be a little limited.
The exhibition was arranged in chronological order, starting off with when George Remi aka Hergé was only a little boy. This really allowed us to look at the evolution in Hergé’s artwork , which is what the website suggested we would be able to do. There were many quotes and pictures on the walls, sometimes quite funny, giving us insight into Hergé’s mind and personal life. In that first bit Hergé tells us about what he was like as a child and how he used to always draw in his textbooks, up until his first Tintin publication in 1929. The next wall explored the phase through which he would always draw in black and white and then his first use of colour, looking at some of his prints. Each wall was about a different time period. The exhibition looks at Hergé’s personal life as much as his artwork, and again it just seemed too short to fully cover 50 years of Tintin adventures, not to mention Hergé’s whole lifetime. I think I would have liked to see more drawings, namely excerpts from his sketchbooks and drafts that would have allowed us to see the full extent of his work and his creative process.
The explanatory texts were translated both in French and in English, and I noticed as I progressed through the exhibition that a lot of the people visiting it were french. It was interesting to hear french as well as reading the signs in french, as if the exhibition was a little french world of its own in the middle of London.
The highlight of the exhibition for me were the 3D pieces, which were the first things I noticed as I walked into each room. Ironically these are also not even Hergé’s own work. Throughout the exhibition there was this whole idea of playing with the notion of ‘windows’, turning a window in a comic into a real window. Beside each 3D piece there was the original drawing that inspired it and it was really fun to see the world of Tintin brought to life in that way. However I do feel like if those centre pieces weren’t there the rooms would be pretty empty.
I think the exhibition is worth going to, as it is fun and has quite beautiful pieces to offer as well as being a nice insight into Hergé’s life, although we are definitely left frustrated that we didn’t get to see more.
Excerpts from my sketchbook. For my first project I had started thinking about space and science-fiction and that is how I started thinking about spaceships. Now I have moved onto another idea which is the idea of alienation, but I thought I would post some of the research I have been doing. Putting spaceships out of context.
Last week in ISHE we were reading a text called ‘Why I Write’ by Joan Didion. It is a very creative and picturesque text that immerses us into the author’s mind. Through her imagery and description we can see how her mind works and how her inspiration and thoughts are triggered. She is very focused on looking at things. Not thinking, not analysing. Just. Looking. One of my favourite quotes from the text is ‘I would try to contemplate the Hegelian dialectic and would find myself concentrating instead on a flowering pear tree outside my window and the particular way the petals fell on my floor.’ That sounds exactly like me. She also says ‘my attention was always on the periphery’. She focuses on small things, details that no one else thinks about or takes the time to look at. She is an observer. She looks for ‘the shimmer’ in things : ‘Look hard enough, and you can’t miss the shimmer. It’s there’.
Based off of that text we had to create illustrations and what our group did was focus on little details of the text that stood out for us, little sentences that caught our attention and formed images in our minds that we wanted to capture. Much like the philosophy of the author herself, it’s all about what shimmers. We drew her stealing the words ‘Why I Write’, we did the schizophrenic patient’s drawing of the cat, the bevatron and even the Greyhound bus (which I am still not sure if it is meant for greyhounds or if it is just called that).
Traditional jewish rings have houses on them to represent the newly married couple’s future house. A man called Michael Burton was inspired by this to create a ring with a house on it, and it is on display in the jewellery section at the V&A.
His ring is a lot different from the traditional jewish ones because it features quite a shabby looking house and one a newly married couple wouldn’t really want to move into. I definitely think there is some irony on Michael Burton’s part here.
I find very interesting the idea that you could wear something that indicates your future and that is also quite a fun idea to play around. What if we lived in a world were everybody had to wear a ring that dictates what their future should be? I had this conversation with my tutor and she said it reminded her of when parents name their children ‘Perfect’, ‘Hope’ or even ‘Spectacular’ ! That is a way of telling the world what you want your child’s destiny to be, but what if they don’t want to be called that? What if they just want to be called Jim? What if they’re under this massive pressure to be perfect, spectacular etc ?
I’m also very interested in the idea of alienation at the moment and I think this is a way of being alienated from your own name. I’ve been playing around with illustration and trying to produce a series of them that deal with this idea of alienation in relation to the ring concept (hence the huge finger and ring, themselves alienating the wearer because of their hugeness – see above illustration)
Here’s what a personalised supermarket for student Jen would look like:
By the entrance are the essentials to student life : frozen food and, through this section, a shortcut to beverages (aka alcohol). As a student myself, I do still like to buy fresh fruit and veg just to keep the guilt at bay, which is why it is the next section on the map. Opposite are the canned/jarred goods which are practical and can still provide a good alternative to frozen food. Moving on we have dairy, a bakery and a meat section, the third one being slightly less important than the first two but can be easily avoided as you don’t have to pass through it to get to the next section which is… Beverages! In case you missed it the first time. At the end right before the till we have cleaning products and paper goods, strategically placed just so students won’t forget them as they are on their way to checkout. Many times before have I gone into a supermarket thinking I need to get cleaning products and because they’re at the back on the shop, I get too carried away picking my food and I completely forget them.
Of course this is a very stereotypical representation of a student and I don’t really fit all the criteria of this persona myself, but the way I understand it personas are built on stereotypes. Some of us went for the typical middle aged mum persona, others chose a five year old girl obsessed with pink, glitter and unicorns, and some of us even went for the alcoholic dad persona.
It was extremely interesting to see that even though we had never heard of personas before and were never taught how to make one, it came quite easily and naturally to us because we have absorbed so many stereotypes and preconcieved ideas of how to put people into boxes in our everyday life.
This really opened my eyes on commercial cataloging and the ways in which we are targeted by marketing.