Week 1 Lecture & Resources
James Stringer is a digital artist who runs the London-based digital arts studio, Werkflow. He talked about how his background in art and music led him towards 3D animation, often harnessing video game technology to create it.
Above is a collaborative project by Werkflow and fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø for Garage magazine. Starting with 3D scans, the studio created renderings of three fashion models – Cara Delevingne, Anja Rubik and Binx Walton – to reimagine them as alternative Jeff Koons-style sculptures for the autumn 2014 issue. An added layer of the concept was that people could scan the covers with the Garage smartphone app to show a 3D AR version of a Jeff Koons sculpture.
It’s definitely a striking visual concept and it looks quite futuristic. I’ve seen a few Koons sculptures in real life – an interesting way of questioning of what art is. Some people would argue that a giant inflatable balloon dog isn’t art, but I disagree. I think the Werkflow project takes this a step further by creating “living” sculptures of recognisable figures from the fashion world. They are quite provocative images too. The virtual sculptures also make me think about the idea of statues, the modern cult of celebrity worship/fame and icons, and who decides the person worthy of being commemorated or immortalised in this way.
Autoethnography as Methodology
“Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience. This approach challenges canonical ways of doing research and representing others and treats research as a political, socially-just and socially-conscious act. A researcher uses tenets of autobiography and ethnography to do and write autoethnography. Thus, as a method, autoethnography is both process and product.”(Ellis et al. 2011)
In a tutorial session, I encountered the concept of an auto-ethnographic approach to research. This was not something I had come across before, but on further investigation, it fits well with what I had in mind for my response to a self-initiated project, a self-reflective journal covering my own experiences and observations of life during the last year and a half or so of the current pandemic.
Four potential self-initiated project ideas
- A visual diary/artist book of my experiences of living through the pandemic. The increased periods of isolation and lack of travel/socialising really forced me to slow down and take notice of my surroundings. One of the coping strategies for me was to spend time in the garden, where I observed the gradual changes of different plants emerging over the weeks and months and the shift of the seasons. I started to record the local area via photography and saw the landscape change over the course of the year. I could create a personal journal with my photography and drawings.
- Creating something around the topic of ADHD and mental health. Something I’m still figuring out personally (after a lot of soul searching over the last 2-3 years). It could be a set of infographics or informational posters depicting what it’s like to experience life with a non-neurotypical brain.
- Music posters inspired by a favourite song/band/album, probably with a typographical slant. I’ve been particularly obsessed with dark, melodic soundscapes and electronica recently which could be interesting to translate visually.
- Making a fun, seasonal “kit” for Halloween DIY projects, such as a colouring sheet, printable spooky potion labels, instructions to make your own bunting and maybe a recipe or two. Something that could be downloaded and used to entertain kids in the half-term perhaps.
After reviewing my four initial ideas, I decided to develop the visual diary/artist book project, in part because it’s been such an unusual period to live through and I would like to examine and reflect upon this, as well as analysing how my creative practice has changed as a result of the pandemic experience so far.
Design Brief: Creativity and Covid
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, all of our lives have been affected in different and unexpected ways. For me, spending a considerable amount of time in one specific physical place had a big impact. I was forced to slow down and reflect, and by consequence, I started to observe my surroundings much more closely, taking note of the seasonal shifts and gradual changes of the landscape around me. I recorded this with photography, journalling/writing and drawing.
Research Question: How has the pandemic and the periods of lockdown affected my creative practice?
Objective: To examine my own creative practice throughout the pandemic, how it has changed/been affected, and my observations of the changing of the seasons through the course of the year, documenting the passage of time.
Aim(s): To demonstrate in a visual way the impact of living through a pandemic on my creative practice.
Research Methodology: An autoethnography.
1. Myself (as it is essentially an autobiographical piece of work)
2. Other creative practitioners
3. People who may not have a creative practice themselves but are interested in visual work.
Anticipated final outcome: A visual journal/artist book created with mixed media, or potentially a series of postcards documenting my experiences.
Reflection on the week
Looking back at my interests, work and research from the Contemporary Practice module I completed last year was an interesting exercise. It’s always good when you can see how your skills and work have evolved.
ELLIS, C., ADAMS, T.E. and BOCHNER, A.P., 2011. ‘Autoethnography: An Overview.’ Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12(1).
Phillips, Peter L. 2004. Creating the perfect design brief: how to manage design for strategic advantage. New York: Allworth Press
Schön, Donald. 1983. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. United Kingdom: Basic Books.
Werkflow. ‘Sølve Sundsbø – Garage Magazine.’ Available at http://werkflow.co.uk/projects/garage-magazine-jeff-koons-cover/ [accessed 21/09/2021]
Wikipedia. ‘Autoethnography.’ Available at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoethnography [accessed 24/09/2021]