Tuesday, 16 February 2010

After adding in a fourth image I found that people were still not really getting the same stories and my results were too diverse. One example of this stage of the experiment is:
Female, age 20, Art student
Someone was murdered in the big castle by stabbing them with paperclips and the only thing that witnessed it was the duck.

As you can see this is very far from my chosen target story so I decided to add in text to see if this made any difference. I added in the words "Tourist", "Mote" and "Choked".
This had an immediate impact. Here are some of the results:

Female, age 20, Textiles student
There was a castle with a huge mote surrounding it. The ducks which swam in the mote were poisoned after they ate paperclips which had been thrown into the river by tourists causing the ducks to die.

Female, age 20, Textiles student
There were ducks swimming in the mote surrounding a big castle. The tourists visiting the castle threw paperclips into the mote which the ducks then choked on.

Female, age 19, Graphics student
The duck was swimming in a mote surrounding the castle in the tourist area when it got tangled in paperclips and choked to death covering the mote in blood.

Female, age 19, Graphics student
A duck at a tourist centre in scotland was choked in the mote around the castle by paperclips dumped in the mote.

Having completed this experiment testing the theory of polysemous I would definitely agree that imagery can have multiple meanings and that your perceptions and cultural backgrounds may effect your response to certain types of imagery. From this task I can clearly agree with Barthes about the importance and added value of introducing text into the equation as this swayed my subjects to all think roughly in and around the same area. I would comfortably say that through carrying out this activity it has cleared up some confusion and I now feel that my understanding of this theory is slightly better.

The fourth image...

For my target story I've chosen the story by the male, age 20, medical student about the duck who lived in the pond beside the castle who ate the paperclips which were thrown in by visiting children and as a result the ducks choked died.
For adding in a fourth image I decided an image of blood would be appropriate to suggest the idea of death. By adding this in I hope it will prompt my next selection of people to come up with similar stories.

2c: Talk to people...

So having now showed the images to a random selection group of people these were the stories they came up with.

Male, age:20, Civil engineer student
I went for a picnic with my grandparents at a castle which had a famous rare breed of ducks. While there I fed the ducks and on returning to the car, grandpa had locked the keys in the car so he used a paperclip to pick the lock.

Male, age:20, Medical student
A duck lived beside a castle in his pond but there were little children who threw paperclips into the pond and the duck choked on them.

Female, age 21, Zoology student
Shrek lived in this castle and around this was a mote in which ducks lived in. Due to the alkalinity of the mote water due to the amount of duck excrement it caused Shrek's hair to fall out and his eyes to burn. In return he hand fed them paperclips to kill them.

Female, age 19, Textiles student
There was a little duck who lived in a castle and was always organised and had lots of paperclips.

Female, age 19, Textiles student
There was a big castle which was surrounded by a mote and at the bottom of the mote there was lots of gold and silver paperclips buried. A duck found them and ate some and sold the rest for lots of money.

I think you will agree that all these stories are very random and quite imaginative to say the least! Adding in a fourth image now and choosing a target story should be very interesting :)

My images...

These are the images I am going to use for my experiment. The randomness could be an interesting twist!!

Roland Barthes, "The Rhetoric of the Image."

Having read Roland Barthes' famous essay, "The Rhetoric of the Image" I have to confess that I found it an extremely challenging read which was full of language which was over my head but I will give a stab at relating to you what I have learnt. In this essay he emphasizes his view on advertising, how important it is and what it conveys. He speaks about how different imagery and adverts can read differently to a variety of people as everyone's perceptions are unique according to ones experiences. He uses the example of Italiancity and goes on to explain how the italian citizen from the advert may not realise that it represents "Italy" due to the touristic like symbolism. The essay is spilt up into explaining three messages. The first is the linguistic, fixed message, an image which directly relates to what the image is saying. Secondly, the connotated message, this is when you have the correct knowledge and skills to fully understand and interpret something. Lastly, the denoted message which basically states what it actually is, a raw form.

For this next assignment the task is to choose 3 random images and to test the theory of polysemy which Barthes covers in his essay. Polysemy is having multiple (a diversity of) meanings, all images are polysemous. By taking these images to a selection of people and asking them to observe and interpret a story from these images it should back up what Barthes says about how advertisements portray a lot of information and connotations which can be read by some people but not all and so this highlights the importance of gaining a fixed meaning. I am highly intrigued to see if my experiment will work and whether by slowly adding in other factors such as a fourth image or even text if this will result in people coming up with the same story.

Friday, 5 February 2010

The consumption of design...

After having read chapter 4 of "The Culture of Design" and having a lecture from service designer David Townson this morning it has stirred my thinking onto a deeper level about how being a consumer in this society and more importantly studying textile design within this society is a constant battle. Would you agree if I said that consumption is solely a monetary exchange? That no matter what we do each day even if the task is free, fundamentally someone had to pay for it somewhere along the line. For example if you visit a museum which has free entry you are to a certain extent gaining from this experience but that exhibition, that museum still has a monetary value and has been invested in by someone at point making it connected to consumption. We are living in a consumer driven society which we cannot get away from, even if consciously we don't always realise it. For instance when I consume a product or get my hair cut I don't automatically think about what sector I consumed from, (social,service, etc). It is not in our humanly conscious, we consume in these fields through instinct.

So I pose the question can we survive without being a consumer? How in the past did people survive without being engrossed and obsessed with consumption? I guess we could say at this stage there is a point between existence and now but then we need to recognise that these are miles apart. This could potentially be due to the shift in human behaviour, the sheer amount of manipulation which surrounds us. We cannot today get away from this consumer driven due to the amount of peer pressure and the amount of publicity and advertising. Society is now at the stage of want not need, therefore does this 'want' drive consumerism?

On another level how does this relate to textiles, how can we design if people don't want? As a young designer I would say we are forced into participating in this consumer drive. This makes mixes up a few emotions, I feel that to fight this would be incredible and potentially could be an amazing turn around but it is the fact that it would be such a difficult thing to do. A true passion and drive would need to be evident to hold you as a designer aiming to make a difference firm otherwise in my opinion there are too many stumbling blocks out there. This is a serious issue as the upcoming generation of designers we need to consider and not take it lightly otherwise we will miss our chance however scary it may be.

I suppose it all comes round to identity as well. In the chapter 'The consumption of design' it was stated about how our society being unstable reflects on the relationship of consumption and identity, therefore meaning identities are constantly changing. It goes onto talk about Slater's idea about mass producing and as a result reducing consumption creating 'prosumers'. He talks about consumption as a "private politically passive act which ignores reality that individuals also engage in a public realm with consumption." Basically bringing it back to thinking about the difference between a private and public space.

Finally, the last issue I want to mention is about whether or not we perpetuate consumption? In a sense I feel we do as we are now overproducing to satisfy a consumer driven society not only the thirst. This in turn then raises the issue about obsolescence and sustainability. In the textile field and in particular in the fashion industry. For instance, the trends change every season which drives consumerism. It is a very vicious circle in my opinion and something which is always ongoing and could pose many many questions but the final question I want to leave you with is does textiles perpetuate obsolescence?

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Assignment 1

For this assignment the task was to collect photographs of growing up through childhood and then swap them with another student from a different discipline who you don't know very well.
I swapped my photos with Leanne Evans who is studying jewellery and metalwork design. A select few of the photos you can see above.
At first it seemed a rather odd experience to be scrutinizing someone else's childhood in such detail considering I hardly know Leanne and so to be researching and analysing such a personal subject felt quite surreal if you could put it like that.
After Leanne and I had swapped photographs I felt quite overwhelmed with regards to the amount I was given so I tried to narrow it down by being selective but still giving myself a wide range to work with.
From studying the photos, at the beginning I admit I found it a difficult exercise to carry out. As a result I have come to several different conclusions. A solid relationship with her family comes across in many respects within several photos due to the family orientated events such as dinner parties and the garden picnic with her nan. Overall I feel a loving ambience being projected from these images.
In a few of the photos; Leanne's mother is a dominant character and I felt a strong connection from these, possibly as a result of many warm embraces and an all round closeness.
Leanne has two siblings, both a younger brother and sister who feature in quite a few of the images. I gained the sense that Leanne would be relatively protective towards her siblings and I gained this from her caring nature of body language shown.
Her family as a holistic figure seems to have a good, lively sense of community who all enjoy plenty of active fun events and as a result I would say generally have been a heavy influence on her life.
One of the more recent photos of Leanne which I unfortunately was unable to upload showed her and two friends doing a charlies angels reenactment. From this I extracted the idea that Leanne's tastes and interests may be swayed by her peer group due to similar styles of clothing. The photo is lively and bursting with life which suggests the three girls have a really comfortable, close friendship with each other. This could reflect her personality as easy going, quirky and fun loving.
A further subject noted while analysing was that in one particular image Leanne seemed to be colouring in possibly showing an early flare in her creative side which she has clearly ended up pursuing at art college!
As previously mentioned about how family orientated the photos were I feel she has grown up in a stable and well supported background and some factors lead me to believe her family is pretty well off, i.e. not working class, as in lots of the photos the environment seems full of nice toys and furthermore from the decor of the house.
One final observation was that her father only features in a few of the photos so perhaps he was the main photographer in the family!

On meeting up with Leanne to discuss and swap notes I felt slightly nervous about verbally communicating my thoughts and observations about her life and was highly intrigued to see how she had got on with my photos and seeing what she had to say about them. After hearing Leanne's feedback I was pretty pleased with my results as they seemed quite accurate. The only major thing which stood out that I got wrong was that in one of the family dinner party photos I mentioned, I thought was her kitchen seemed to be 1960-1980's themeddue to the green cabinet decor. This in some respects what correct as it was from that time period but it turned out to be her gran's house, not her own.

On listening to what Leanne had to say about my childhood was really interesting. It was an odd feeling hearing about my life through another persons perspective and having the coin flipped by now becoming the research subject. I feel that by completing this task it has taught me some valuable lessons, for example, to be sensitive to the research subject and furthermore to consider carefully all the ethical considerations behind design research. While thinking about the ethical considerations such as gaining permission to use other peoples sources it got me thinking more about how researching into another persons private life was quite a daunting experience as well as a privilege.