Amelia’s Magazine | Dear Fashion Diary: an interview with Emmi Ojala

Dear Fashion Diary

How did you first come across the idea of the Free Fashion Challenge, and why did you decide to take part? 


The Free Fashion Challenge was an initiative of Laura de Jong, who studied in the same fashion school (Amsterdam Fashion Institute) with me. She started the project to challenge fashionistas to rethink fashion and personal style outside the cycle of consumption. A teacher of mine introduced me to the project, asking if I would be interested in participating in the challenge. First it felt like a big commitment to sign up for not shopping for a year, but it was such an intriguing challenge that I ended up saying yes. I was curious to see how well I would cope, and so many people around me were shocked by the mere idea that it made me want to prove that spending 365 days without shopping would be doable.

Dear Fashion Journal

What was the biggest challenge when you stopped shopping for a whole year?
The biggest challenge was trying not to get bored with my clothes and find ways to cope when my clothes started to wear out. By the end of the year, I didn’t have one single pair of stockings without holes, so I always wore two on top of each other to cover the rips. I also started spending more time restyling my old clothes in attempts of staying excited about my outfits. It gave me the same happy feeling you get when you wear something new for the first time.

Dear Fashion Journal

And what was the most surprising thing that you learnt after a year without spending on clothes?
Most surprising thing I learned was that not shopping wasn’t actually that difficult. The only thing that I really missed was treasure hunting in second hand shops, but other than that I hardly had any temptations to spend on clothes.

Dear Fashion Journal

How did you learn to make your clothes fit seasonal trends, without buying new stuff?

My closet stayed pretty up-to-date thanks to swapping with friends and visiting my mom’s closet in search for old items. I was so happy that she had kept some of her golden oldies, because trends go around, come around, and suddenly old items begin to look contemporary again. Also DIY helps a lot if one wants to be trendy without spending; you can dye your clothes, cut them up and sew them back together into something fresh. The cyberspace is full of great DIY tutorials, so you can always find ways to customize your clothes even if you weren’t an expert on sewing.

Dear Fashion Journal

What was the process behind the creation of Dear Fashion Journal? What were you trying to achieve?

During the Free Fashion Challenge, all us participants wrote about our experiences on a blog. There were quite some thought evoking aha-moments documented there, so after the challenge was over, I wanted to dig a bit deeper and collect stories inspired by those experiences into a printed publication. My goal was to arouse thoughts on our attitudes towards fashion and ever-changing trends, and do so without nagging about green this and eco that. I wanted to tell personal stories that would inspire people to be creative with fashion and think about their clothes as something valuable rather than throwaway pieces. 


Dear Fashion Diary

How did you set about collecting all your data, and finding illustrators to work with you on the journal? 

The entire magazine is based on the experiences of 30 people, who took part in the year of not shopping. I interviewed many of them to find out what they had learned, what had been their most striking experiences and if their thoughts on fashion and style had changed. All the articles in the magazine are inspired by those discussions and by the blog that we wrote during the challenge.

I have always loved richly illustrated books and magazines, so I knew from the beginning that Dear Fashion Journal would have to be like that, too. I had a wish-list of illustrators I wanted to work with, and was over the moon to get to feature illustrations from Daria Hlazatova and Krister Selin, both of whom I knew from Amelia’s Magazine. I also found some great artists via friends, blogs and portfolio sites like Behance. Next to that, me and my best friend Sarah Meers also spent a few long weekends illustrating some of the articles for the journal ourselves.


Dear Fashion Diary

You have since created a book called Dear Fashion Diary, which is a place where people can record their relationship with clothes – how did this come about?
Before I decided to self-publish Dear Fashion Journal, I got in touch with BIS Publishers and introduced the concept to them. The journal gave them an idea about a kind of a fashion diary, and they asked if I would be interested in working on something like that. Coincidentally, me and Laura de Jong (the founder of Free Fashion Challenge) had already earlier been brainstorming about making a notebook full of fashion assignments, so we took on the project together and so Dear Fashion Diary was born.

Where can people in the UK find a copy of Dear Fashion Diary?


You can find the Diary at Tate Modern, Podshop, Blackwells, Rizzoli Bookshop, Waterstones as well as order it through Amazon.

The journal can be ordered online here.

What next? Any other projects in the pipeline?

For now, I’m happily busy illustrating a children’s book and freelancing for a few other clients, whilst waiting for my brain to blurt out the next great idea for a project of my own!

Emmi Ojala is featured in Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration. You can follow her travels in illustration, fashion and sustainability on twitter here.

Categories ,Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration, ,Amsterdam Fashion Institute, ,BIS Publishers, ,Blackwells, ,Daria Hlazatova, ,Dear Fashion Diary, ,Dear Fashion Journal, ,Emmi Ojala, ,ethical, ,fashion, ,Free Fashion Challenge, ,illustration, ,interview, ,Krister Selin, ,Laura de Jong, ,Podshop, ,Rizzoli Bookshop, ,Sarah Meers, ,sustainable, ,Tate Modern, ,Waterstones

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Amelia’s Magazine | Smooth As A Milkbbi’s Bottom

When given the choice to interview a few illustrators for Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration I snapped up Justin like a kid grabbing the last cookie off a plate. Not only was his work incredibly unique, illness using film, prostate photo, sculpture etc. But it managed to strike two divergent chords in me at the same. He was American, like me, but from the midwest….cue handsome cowboys with a fantastic drawl and impeccable phone manners (Yes, I too manage to summon archaic stereotypes in my own continent) Ironically though his work is filled with characters possessed of a candy sweet cheerfulness that I recall permeating absolutely everything during my time spent living in Japan. Justin Wallis epitomizes this innocence in lo-fi visual poetry.

His most recent video Puppy Love is based on a love letter he found, using basic drawing tools like markers to create his characters. We’re talkin’ serious hours of scribbling. Justin’s time consuming efforts yields a proclamation of love in a ‘Sega-style Japanese Dating Game’ kinda way whose sound track, ‘Save Time’ (created by beware) is equally as nintendo-y.

Justin works under the pseudonym Milkbbi, a mix of his high school nickname ‘milk’ and his love of 60′s flicks ‘where everyone called each other baby’. His images of doe-eyed cupcake heads and honeybee cartoons can occasionally make you ill at ease, in a Yoshitomo Nara kind of way. The kind of way that makes you feel jaded for being suspicious of all this togetherness of candy colored anthropomism with their dripping burger heads. Best of all it doesn’t fall into that slick, Warhol factory, end-up-on-a-LV-bag logo puking Murakami we love so much.

In some ways Justin is quite similar to a Japanese ‘otaku’, obsessively dedicated to an inner world of characters and relying enormously on technology to reach out of that world and connect to people beyond. Only in Justin’s case it’s a logistics thang not a social impairment. I mean, he has a pop-tart and banana-strawberry juice for breakfast, and his dog Lucy was saved from an abandoned house. Marriage material for sure!

MILKBBI ????? (PUPPY LOVE) from justin wallis on Vimeo.

You can see more of Justin’s work at his website here.

Categories ,Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration, ,Andy Warhol, ,animation, ,Arkansas, ,illustration, ,justin wallis, ,Puppy Love, ,Yoshitomo Nara

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Amelia’s Magazine | The making of Jesca Hoop’s City Bird video

190809_theunthanks[1]thumb
unthanks Rob Fuzzard
Illustration by Rob Fuzzard

It was fitting that they transformed their faces to serious and focused, adiposity when the first notes were hit. They were deep in the hills of the North of England, visit this singing of shutting the coal door, not in a dark, hot building by the Avon River. Rachel is pregnant. They are wearing dresses that look like fresh versions of the past. And their hair is worn long and embracing of its natural waves and kinks. The Unthanks are wholesome and true. True to their families, friends, dear home and folk music. Their Northern roots infiltrate everything from the lilt of the pronunciation of lyrics; ‘luvley’, to the songs they choose to sing. My image is of them as land girls, wearing cream wooly jumpers, dresses and wellington boots. In the evening they sit around the fire of a single glazed, rambling cottage, singing from right within. Where the truth lies.

And indeed, in their Northumberland home, the Unthank family would partake in group singing. Their father George, is part of a folk group called The Keelers that specialised in robust sea shanties of the north-east, their mother is a stalwart of local choirs, and they were brought up at festivals and folk clubs. Rachel, the older of the two sisters, who looks like peace personified said: “This is amazing, a privilege and an honour, to be up here singing like this. Of course. But there something about singing with lots of people, that’s just… good for the soul.”

Unthanks

Rachel’s speaking voice is high, full of character, vibrancy and northern accent. Her eyes close as she sings and sways, stroking her baby bump to the instrumental breaks. She loves music and singing for its remedial, loving, relaxing, spiritual and bringing together prowess. As does Becky, her sister. Recently engaged we are told, she is funny, lower toned in voice and smoother. More of the honey to Rachel’s jam. Homemade and paired with the band (butter and bread… this metaphor accidentally went further than anticipated), they are your next level folk. Playing the piano, violin, fiddle, viola, cello, double bass, drums, guitar and ukulele, they are all stunning, and together make for a polished and encompassing sound. The beauty and love of the music they’re all creating, their sole focus. Not lumberjack shirts and shiny belt buckles.

The girls themselves don’t hold an ounce of arrogance, and are both entirely likeable, modest and genuine in their performance and stage presence. The confidence that’s so rosy, and tangible seems to be from deep within, from a stable and unmoving place.

unthanks

But they could be all over themselves. With a Mercury Award Nomination in 2008, being named as one of Best Albums of The Decade in Uncut and The Observer for The Bairns (out on EMI), as well as BBC Folk Awards and many others. Why didn’t I know of them before? Or my evening’s accomplice. As the evening went on, I found myself increasingly mesmerised and indadvertedly swaying in a progressive daze.

They sing of drunks, pubs, Newcastle Brown Ale, men, sweat, bosoms, daily life and poverty – STORIES of England of the North, the land, the people, the past. With the strings behind them, they sing everything tenderly, slowly and with an enormous wedge of sadness. But it’s hard to feel sadness with them, it’s more that they disarm you and fill you with beautiful sounds and truths. Things aren’t and never have been idyllic for everyone, forever.

Between tracks they chat leisurely about where they found their songs, and banter with the piano player, and husband of Rachel, Adrian McNally. Rachel talks of the need we have now for music that strikes chord and brings people together. Such as the North East mining songs, full of trouble, strife and heartbreak. There is a comradery in folk music, and a wholesome edge that is inescapable. It’s English summers, rolling hills and blustery mountain tops. It’s reality and being unafraid of it. It’s the soundtrack to what we discover when we experience something that flicks the deep, dark switch. One weekend, after trundling out of our home and switching the telly off, a walk by the ocean, some awful news, a baby’s birth, right then and there we see and feel light and free. We vow to repeat our actions again asap; “we should do that again darling.”, or never take things for granted, because we’ve realised what life is about. They know, The Unthanks. They get it.

190809_theunthanks[1]

One song featured the two girls singing unaccompanied, Rachel giving ‘advice’ to Becky on marriage. “You’d better be a maid all the days of your life, Better me a maid as a poor man’s wife.” They laughed about it, and smiled broadly to each other and then out to the audience. Another track; The Gallowgate Lad, is about a girl crying alone in Newcastle. Someone asks her; ‘What’s wrong?’ A mistake, as it can be. The piano dancing notes, paired with the story telling Becky, alone on stage, is a tremendous mix, full of drama, reviving the angst of past encounters. A number of other songs also featured the use of mighty clog dancing by Becky. Whilst Rachel sat on a chair for a mini rest, Becky tapped and stomped on stage. This was delightful and served to enhance my own desire to own clogs. Excellent skill! They also treated us to a song from the soundtrack of archive footage of Newcastle, they had performed at the Tyneside Cinema recently. They sang of the docks, the ale and the banter in their hauntingly joined voices.

Becky and Rachel put on a superb show, and yet it didn’t even feel like a *SHOW*, it felt as if we were in their living room, by the fire, with knitted cream jumpers and hot toddies, all singing together. It was warming to the heart and soul. Incidentally The Unthanks run weekends of singing in Northumberland, so perhaps check them out if you want some of your own sing song jubilation. For now check out this video. You can buy all their albums now; The Bairns and Here’s The Tender Coming are both out on EMI, and Last, on Rabble Rouser.

unthanks Rob Fuzzard
Illustration by Rob Fuzzard

It was fitting that they transformed their faces to serious and focused, more about when the first notes were hit. They were deep in the hills of the North of England, pharmacy singing of shutting the coal door, not in a dark, hot building by the Avon River. Rachel is pregnant. They are wearing dresses that look like fresh versions of the past. And their hair is worn long and embracing of its natural waves and kinks. The Unthanks are wholesome and true. True to their families, friends, dear home and folk music. Their Northern roots infiltrate everything from the lilt of the pronunciation of lyrics; ‘luvley’, to the songs they choose to sing. My image is of them as land girls, wearing cream wooly jumpers, dresses and wellington boots. In the evening they sit around the fire of a single glazed, rambling cottage, singing from right within. Where the truth lies.

And indeed, in their Northumberland home, the Unthank family would partake in group singing. Their father George, is part of a folk group called The Keelers that specialised in robust sea shanties of the north-east, their mother is a stalwart of local choirs, and they were brought up at festivals and folk clubs. Rachel, the older of the two sisters, who looks like peace personified said: “This is amazing, a privilege and an honour, to be up here singing like this. Of course. But there something about singing with lots of people, that’s just… good for the soul.”

Unthanks

Rachel’s speaking voice is high, full of character, vibrancy and northern accent. Her eyes close as she sings and sways, stroking her baby bump to the instrumental breaks. She loves music and singing for its remedial, loving, relaxing, spiritual and bringing together prowess. As does Becky, her sister. Recently engaged we are told, she is funny, lower toned in voice and smoother. More of the honey to Rachel’s jam. Homemade and paired with the band (butter and bread… this metaphor accidentally went further than anticipated), they are your next level folk. Playing the piano, violin, fiddle, viola, cello, double bass, drums, guitar and ukulele, they are all stunning, and together make for a polished and encompassing sound. The beauty and love of the music they’re all creating, their sole focus. Not lumberjack shirts and shiny belt buckles.

The girls themselves don’t hold an ounce of arrogance, and are both entirely likeable, modest and genuine in their performance and stage presence. The confidence that’s so rosy, and tangible seems to be from deep within, from a stable and unmoving place.

unthanks

But they could be all over themselves. With a Mercury Award Nomination in 2008, being named as one of Best Albums of The Decade in Uncut and The Observer for The Bairns (out on EMI), as well as BBC Folk Awards and many others. Why didn’t I know of them before? Or my evening’s accomplice. As the evening went on, I found myself increasingly mesmerised and indadvertedly swaying in a progressive daze.

They sing of drunks, pubs, Newcastle Brown Ale, men, sweat, bosoms, daily life and poverty – STORIES of England of the North, the land, the people, the past. With the strings behind them, they sing everything tenderly, slowly and with an enormous wedge of sadness. But it’s hard to feel sadness with them, it’s more that they disarm you and fill you with beautiful sounds and truths. Things aren’t and never have been idyllic for everyone, forever.

Between tracks they chat leisurely about where they found their songs, and banter with the piano player, and husband of Rachel, Adrian McNally. Rachel talks of the need we have now for music that strikes chord and brings people together. Such as the North East mining songs, full of trouble, strife and heartbreak. There is a comradery in folk music, and a wholesome edge that is inescapable. It’s English summers, rolling hills and blustery mountain tops. It’s reality and being unafraid of it. It’s the soundtrack to what we discover when we experience something that flicks the deep, dark switch. One weekend, after trundling out of our home and switching the telly off, a walk by the ocean, some awful news, a baby’s birth, right then and there we see and feel light and free. We vow to repeat our actions again asap; “we should do that again darling.”, or never take things for granted, because we’ve realised what life is about. They know, The Unthanks. They get it.

190809_theunthanks[1]

One song featured the two girls singing unaccompanied, Rachel giving ‘advice’ to Becky on marriage. “You’d better be a maid all the days of your life, Better me a maid as a poor man’s wife.” They laughed about it, and smiled broadly to each other and then out to the audience. Another track; The Gallowgate Lad, is about a girl crying alone in Newcastle. Someone asks her; ‘What’s wrong?’ A mistake, as it can be. The piano dancing notes, paired with the story telling Becky, alone on stage, is a tremendous mix, full of drama, reviving the angst of past encounters. A number of other songs also featured the use of mighty clog dancing by Becky. Whilst Rachel sat on a chair for a mini rest, Becky tapped and stomped on stage. This was delightful and served to enhance my own desire to own clogs. Excellent skill! They also treated us to a song from the soundtrack of archive footage of Newcastle, they had performed at the Tyneside Cinema recently. They sang of the docks, the ale and the banter in their hauntingly joined voices.

Becky and Rachel put on a superb show, and yet it didn’t even feel like a *SHOW*, it felt as if we were in their living room, by the fire, with knitted cream jumpers and hot toddies, all singing together. It was warming to the heart and soul. Incidentally The Unthanks run weekends of singing in Northumberland, so perhaps check them out if you want some of your own sing song jubilation. For now check out this video. You can buy all their albums now; The Bairns and Here’s The Tender Coming are both out on EMI, and Last, on Rabble Rouser.

unthanks Rob Fuzzard
Illustration by Rob Fuzzard

Rachel is pregnant. They are wearing dresses that look like fresh versions of the past. And their hair is worn long and embracing of its natural waves and kinks. The Unthanks are wholesome and true. True to their families, advice friends, cialis 40mg dear home and folk music. Their Northern roots infiltrate everything from the lilt of the pronunciation of lyrics; ‘luvley’, to the songs they choose to sing. My image is of them as land girls, wearing cream wooly jumpers, dresses and wellington boots. In the evening they sit around the fire of a single glazed, rambling cottage, singing from right within. Where the truth lies.

And indeed, growing up in their Northumberland home, the Unthank family would partake in group singing. Their father George, is part of a folk group called The Keelers that specialised in robust sea shanties of the north-east, their mother is a stalwart of local choirs, and they were brought up at festivals and folk clubs. Rachel, the older of the two sisters, who looks like peace personified said: “This is amazing, a privilege and an honour, to be up here singing like this. Of course. But there something about singing with lots of people, that’s just… good for the soul.”

Unthanks

Rachel’s speaking voice is high, full of character, vibrancy and northern accent. Her eyes close as she sings and sways, stroking her baby bump to the instrumental breaks. She loves music and singing for its remedial, loving, relaxing, spiritual and bringing together prowess. As does Becky, her sister. Recently engaged we are told, she is funny, lower toned in voice and smoother. More of the honey to Rachel’s jam. Homemade and paired with the band (butter and bread… this metaphor accidentally went further than anticipated), they are your next level folk. Playing the piano, violin, fiddle, viola, cello, double bass, drums, guitar and ukulele, they are all stunning, and together make for a polished and encompassing sound. The beauty and love of the music they’re all creating, their sole focus. Not lumberjack shirts and shiny belt buckles.

The girls themselves don’t hold an ounce of arrogance, and are both entirely likeable, modest and genuine in their performance and stage presence. The confidence that’s so rosy, and tangible seems to be from deep within, from a stable and unmoving place.

unthanks

But they could be all over themselves. With a Mercury Award Nomination in 2008, being named as one of Best Albums of The Decade in Uncut and The Observer for The Bairns (out on EMI), as well as BBC Folk Awards and many others. Why didn’t I know of them before? Or my evening’s accomplice. As the evening went on, I found myself increasingly mesmerised and indadvertedly swaying in a progressive daze.

They sing of drunks, pubs, Newcastle Brown Ale, men, sweat, bosoms, daily life and poverty – STORIES of England of the North, the land, the people, the past. With the strings behind them, they sing everything tenderly, slowly and with an enormous wedge of sadness. But it’s hard to feel sadness with them, it’s more that they disarm you and fill you with beautiful sounds and truths. Things aren’t and never have been idyllic for everyone, forever.

Between tracks they chat leisurely about where they found their songs, and banter with the piano player, and husband of Rachel, Adrian McNally. Rachel talks of the need we have now for music that strikes chord and brings people together. Such as the North East mining songs, full of trouble, strife and heartbreak. There is a comradery in folk music, and a wholesome edge that is inescapable. It’s English summers, rolling hills and blustery mountain tops. It’s reality and being unafraid of it. It’s the soundtrack to what we discover when we experience something that flicks the deep, dark switch. One weekend, after trundling out of our home and switching the telly off, a walk by the ocean, some awful news, a baby’s birth, right then and there we see and feel light and free. We vow to repeat our actions again asap; “we should do that again darling.”, or never take things for granted, because we’ve realised what life is about. They know, The Unthanks. They get it.

190809_theunthanks[1]

One song featured the two girls singing unaccompanied, Rachel giving ‘advice’ to Becky on marriage. “You’d better be a maid all the days of your life, Better me a maid as a poor man’s wife.” They laughed about it, and smiled broadly to each other and then out to the audience. Another track; The Gallowgate Lad, is about a girl crying alone in Newcastle. Someone asks her; ‘What’s wrong?’ A mistake, as it can be. The piano dancing notes, paired with the story telling Becky, alone on stage, is a tremendous mix, full of drama, reviving the angst of past encounters. A number of other songs also featured the use of mighty clog dancing by Becky. Whilst Rachel sat on a chair for a mini rest, Becky tapped and stomped on stage. This was delightful and served to enhance my own desire to own clogs. Excellent skill! They also treated us to a song from the soundtrack of archive footage of Newcastle, they had performed at the Tyneside Cinema recently. They sang of the docks, the ale and the banter in their hauntingly joined voices.

Becky and Rachel put on a superb show, and yet it didn’t even feel like a *SHOW*, it felt as if we were in their living room, by the fire, with knitted cream jumpers and hot toddies, all singing together. It was warming to the heart and soul. Incidentally The Unthanks run weekends of singing in Northumberland, so perhaps check them out if you want some of your own sing song jubilation. For now check out this video. You can buy all their albums now; The Bairns and Here’s The Tender Coming are both out on EMI, and Last, on Rabble Rouser.

unthanks Rob Fuzzard
Illustration by Rob Fuzzard

Rachel is pregnant. They are wearing dresses that look like fresh versions of the past. And their hair is worn long and embracing of its natural waves and kinks. The Unthanks are wholesome and true. True to their families, nurse friends, what is ed dear home and folk music. Their Northern roots infiltrate everything from the lilt of the pronunciation of lyrics; ‘luvley’, pill to the songs they choose to sing. My image is of them as land girls, wearing cream wooly jumpers, dresses and wellington boots. In the evening they sit around the fire of a single glazed, rambling cottage, singing from right within. Where the truth lies.

And indeed, growing up in their Northumberland home, the Unthank family would partake in group singing. Their father George, is part of a folk group called The Keelers that specialised in sea shanties of the north-east, their mother is a member of local choirs, and they always attended festivals and folk clubs. Rachel, the older of the two sisters, who looks like peace personified said: “This is amazing, a privilege and an honour, to be up here singing like this. Of course. But there something about singing with lots of people, that’s just… good for the soul.”

Unthanks

Rachel’s speaking voice is high, full of character, vibrancy and northern accent. Her eyes close as she sings and sways, stroking her baby bump to the instrumental breaks. She loves music and singing for its remedial, loving, relaxing, spiritual and bringing together prowess. As does Becky, her sister. Recently engaged we are told, she is funny, lower toned in voice and smoother. More of the honey to Rachel’s jam. Homemade and paired with the band (butter and bread… this metaphor accidentally went further than anticipated), they are your next level folk. Playing the piano, violin, fiddle, viola, cello, double bass, drums, guitar and ukulele, they are all stunning, and together make for a polished and encompassing sound. The beauty and love of the music they’re all creating, their sole focus. Not lumberjack shirts and shiny belt buckles.

The girls themselves don’t hold an ounce of arrogance, and are both entirely likeable, modest and genuine in their performance and stage presence. The confidence that’s so rosy, and tangible seems to be from deep within, from a stable and unmoving place.

unthanks

But they could be all over themselves. With a Mercury Award Nomination in 2008, being named as one of Best Albums of The Decade in Uncut and The Observer for The Bairns (out on EMI), as well as BBC Folk Awards and many others. Why didn’t I know of them before? Or my evening’s accomplice. As the evening went on, I found myself increasingly mesmerised and indadvertedly swaying in a progressive daze.

They sing of drunks, pubs, Newcastle Brown Ale, men, sweat, bosoms, daily life and poverty – STORIES of England of the North, the land, the people, the past. With the strings behind them, they sing everything tenderly, slowly and with an enormous wedge of sadness. But it’s hard to feel sadness with them, it’s more that they disarm you and fill you with beautiful sounds and truths. Things aren’t and never have been idyllic for everyone, forever.

Between tracks they chat leisurely about where they found their songs, and banter with the piano player, and husband of Rachel, Adrian McNally. Rachel talks of the need we have now for music that strikes chord and brings people together. Such as the North East mining songs, full of trouble, strife and heartbreak. There is a comradery in folk music, and a wholesome edge that is inescapable. It’s English summers, rolling hills and blustery mountain tops. It’s reality and being unafraid of it. It’s the soundtrack to what we discover when we experience something that flicks the deep, dark switch. One weekend, after trundling out of our home and switching the telly off, a walk by the ocean, some awful news, a baby’s birth, right then and there we see and feel light and free. We vow to repeat our actions again asap; “we should do that again darling.”, or never take things for granted, because we’ve realised what life is about. They know, The Unthanks. They get it.

190809_theunthanks[1]

One song featured the two girls singing unaccompanied, Rachel giving ‘advice’ to Becky on marriage. “You’d better be a maid all the days of your life, Better me a maid as a poor man’s wife.” They laughed about it, and smiled broadly to each other and then out to the audience. Another track; The Gallowgate Lad, is about a girl crying alone in Newcastle. Someone asks her; ‘What’s wrong?’ A mistake, as it can be. The piano dancing notes, paired with the story telling Becky, alone on stage, is a tremendous mix, full of drama, reviving the angst of past encounters. A number of other songs also featured the use of mighty clog dancing by Becky. Whilst Rachel sat on a chair for a mini rest, Becky tapped and stomped on stage. This was delightful and served to enhance my own desire to own clogs. Excellent skill! They also treated us to a song from the soundtrack of archive footage of Newcastle, they had performed at the Tyneside Cinema recently. They sang of the docks, the ale and the banter in their hauntingly joined voices.

Becky and Rachel put on a superb show, and yet it didn’t even feel like a *SHOW*, it felt as if we were in their living room, by the fire, with knitted cream jumpers and hot toddies, all singing together. It was warming to the heart and soul. Incidentally The Unthanks run weekends of singing in Northumberland, so perhaps check them out if you want some of your own sing song jubilation. For now check out this video. You can buy all their albums now; The Bairns and Here’s The Tender Coming are both out on EMI, and Last, on Rabble Rouser.

unthanks Rob Fuzzard
Illustration by Rob Fuzzard

They are wearing dresses that look like fresh versions of the past. And their hair is worn long and embracing of its natural waves and kinks. Rachel is pregnant and vibrant. The Unthanks are wholesome and true. True to their families, here friends, dear home and folk music. Their Northern roots infiltrate everything from the lilt of the pronunciation of lyrics; ‘luvley’, to the songs they choose to sing. My image is of them as land girls, wearing cream wooly jumpers, dresses and wellington boots. In the evening they sit around the fire of a single glazed, rambling cottage, singing from right within. Where the truth lies.

And indeed, growing up in their Northumberland home, the Unthank family would partake in group singing. Their father George, is part of a folk group called The Keelers that specialised in sea shanties of the north-east, their mother is a member of local choirs, and they always attended festivals and folk clubs. Rachel, the older of the two sisters, who looks like peace personified said: “This is amazing, a privilege and an honour, to be up here singing like this. Of course. But there something about singing with lots of people, that’s just… good for the soul.”

Unthanks

Rachel’s speaking voice is high, full of character, vibrancy and northern accent. Her eyes close as she sings and sways, stroking her baby bump to the instrumental breaks. She loves music and singing for its remedial, loving, relaxing, spiritual and bringing together prowess. As does Becky, her sister. Recently engaged we are told, she is funny, lower toned in voice and smoother. More of the honey to Rachel’s jam. Homemade and paired with the band (butter and bread… this metaphor accidentally went further than anticipated), they are your next level folk. Playing the piano, violin, fiddle, viola, cello, double bass, drums, guitar and ukulele, they are all stunning, and together make for a polished and encompassing sound. The beauty and love of the music they’re all creating, their sole focus. Not lumberjack shirts and shiny belt buckles.

The girls themselves don’t hold an ounce of arrogance, and are both entirely likeable, modest and genuine in their performance and stage presence. The confidence that’s so rosy, and tangible seems to be from deep within, from a stable and unmoving place.

unthanks

But they could be all over themselves. With a Mercury Award Nomination in 2008, being named as one of Best Albums of The Decade in Uncut and The Observer for The Bairns (out on EMI), as well as BBC Folk Awards and many others. Why didn’t I know of them before? Or my evening’s accomplice. As the evening went on, I found myself increasingly mesmerised and indadvertedly swaying in a progressive daze.

They sing of drunks, pubs, Newcastle Brown Ale, men, sweat, bosoms, daily life and poverty – STORIES of England of the North, the land, the people, the past. With the strings behind them, they sing everything tenderly, slowly and with an enormous wedge of sadness. But it’s hard to feel sadness with them, it’s more that they disarm you and fill you with beautiful sounds and truths. Things aren’t and never have been idyllic for everyone, forever.

Between tracks they chat leisurely about where they found their songs, and banter with the piano player, and husband of Rachel, Adrian McNally. Rachel talks of the need we have now for music that strikes chord and brings people together. Such as the North East mining songs, full of trouble, strife and heartbreak. There is a comradery in folk music, and a wholesome edge that is inescapable. It’s English summers, rolling hills and blustery mountain tops. It’s reality and being unafraid of it. It’s the soundtrack to what we discover when we experience something that flicks the deep, dark switch. One weekend, after trundling out of our home and switching the telly off, a walk by the ocean, some awful news, a baby’s birth, right then and there we see and feel light and free. We vow to repeat our actions again asap; “we should do that again darling.”, or never take things for granted, because we’ve realised what life is about. They know, The Unthanks. They get it.

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One song featured the two girls singing unaccompanied, Rachel giving ‘advice’ to Becky on marriage. “You’d better be a maid all the days of your life, Better me a maid as a poor man’s wife.” They laughed about it, and smiled broadly to each other and then out to the audience. Another track; The Gallowgate Lad, is about a girl crying alone in Newcastle. Someone asks her; ‘What’s wrong?’ A mistake, as it can be. The piano dancing notes, paired with the story telling Becky, alone on stage, is a tremendous mix, full of drama, reviving the angst of past encounters. A number of other songs also featured the use of mighty clog dancing by Becky. Whilst Rachel sat on a chair for a mini rest, Becky tapped and stomped on stage. This was delightful and served to enhance my own desire to own clogs. Excellent skill! They also treated us to a song from the soundtrack of archive footage of Newcastle, they had performed at the Tyneside Cinema recently. They sang of the docks, the ale and the banter in their hauntingly joined voices.

Becky and Rachel put on a superb show, and yet it didn’t even feel like a *SHOW*, it felt as if we were in their living room, by the fire, with knitted cream jumpers and hot toddies, all singing together. It was warming to the heart and soul. Incidentally The Unthanks run weekends of singing in Northumberland, so perhaps check them out if you want some of your own sing song jubilation. For now check out this video. You can buy all their albums now; The Bairns and Here’s The Tender Coming are both out on EMI, and Last, on Rabble Rouser.

Jesca Hoop by Avril Kelly
Jesca Hoop by Avril Kelly.

I love Jesca Hoop‘s new song City Bird and the accompanying video so much so that I decided to get in touch with both Jesca and Elia Petridis, viagra 60mg the director of her recent videos, mind to find out what makes them tick. Elia Petridis runs boutique production company Filmatics in Los Angeles, California. After making several award winning shorts and music videos he is about to start shooting his first full length feature The Man Who Shook The Hand Of Vicente Fernandez. I think his incredibly detailed answers throw an intriguing light on what goes into the creation of a very considered and beautiful music video.

Jesca-Hoop-by-Liam-McMahon
Jesca Hoop by Liam McMahon.

When did you start working with director Elia Petridis?

Jesca: Elia is an old friend. We met in Los Angeles at one of my shows. He would say that he forced me to be his friend, which is kind of true though I would say that he used his clever imagination to lure me in. I’m glad that he did. The Kingdom was our first video adventure together.

Elia: A producer I’m working closely with these days said to me recently that humans are “meaning making machines” (a soundbite from some career seminar) but that phrase really resonated with me. I’m infatuated with screenwriting and personal mythologies, sometimes to the detriment of my own mental health. I grew up in Dubai for 18 years before moving to LA for film school – although Dubai had a lot of its own magic it didn’t have a music scene to speak of so I’m always a little astonished by the talent I find in LA. When I saw Jesca perform live I really felt her music was very special and otherworldly, and tried to do my best to see if, as human planets, we could potentially orbit each other and become friends. 

Jesca Hoop by Rebecca Strickson
Jesca Hoop by Rebecca Strickson.

I would venture to say that the first time I saw Jesca Hoop live was one of the most astonishing musical moments I have ever witnessed. It was the night before Halloween and she came out in a marionette outfit, complete with rosy cheeks, and stood motionless while her back up players wound her up to life. For a visualist like me, a storyteller, it really had an impact. The whole endeavour of courting a friendship with her was kind of a lark for me because I honestly thought she had better things to do. It was just a matter of pushing the boundary between fan and friend and seeing how much I could get away with. Suddenly, unexpectedly, as with most of life’s wonder, we had some mileage behind us and had transformed into friends. I will tell you that the first *official* conversation, the ice breaker, was when she was writing Tulip – from the Hunting my Dress album – and I was writing a screenplay dealing with Tulip Fever in Holland so I leant her my reference material. I knew I had two opportunities to wiggle my way in there – one to give her the book, and one to get it back!   

Hunting my Dress
The Hunting My Dress album cover.

Where was City Bird shot and where did the inspiration come from?

Jesca: It was shot in a miniature haunted house in downtown LA. We both wanted it to be a ghost story and Elia was the one to bring the children’s narrative into it.

Elia: FALSE! The video was shot in a garage in Riverside, Ca. The whole thing was fractal – an infinite amount of information in a finite space, as the garage is attached to an 18th century ‘Painted Lady’ Victorian house owned by my fiance. So in essence, it was shot in a miniature dollhouse inside a bigger dollhouse which made the shoot utterly magic. I think what Jesca is communicating is that the story takes place in a miniature dollhouse in downtown LA. The whole thing was lit using candles and christmas lights. 

Where did the idea for an animated video come from?

Jesca: It came out of limitation really. We had very very little money for this video so we just mused about what we could do with what time and money we did have. I set a pretty hard task considering the resources available and I am delighted with what Elia and his team came through with.

Elia: To me, the track is seance folk. That’s the sonic iconography that City Bird evokes – a ghostly seance. When it comes to music and music videos I am not a literal thinker so although my mind knows the song is about the fright and sadness associated with homelessness that’s not what my heart feels when I hear the song, and it’s not what the dream theatre in my mind projects over it either. But here Jesca’s mastery shines through, because the sonic landscape, right down to the very physical shape her mouth is making around the lyric is just as important as what she’s trying to say; the two are organically woven together. The magic of Jesca’s music lies in the alchemy that exists between form and content. All my artistic heroes do this, from Chabon, to Spielberg; they use genre to sugar coat the pill. So here she uses the disguise of seance music to coat the literal message of homelessness she’s trying to communicate. 

Now, narrative is something I am always running away from when directing a music video. Whenever I read a music video treatment from some kid that went to film school it makes me cringe and I think the best music videos come from documentary filmmakers who get a chance to put forward a psychology of form rather than one of narrative. But, having said that, my instincts on City Bird were narrative, perhaps because it’s a kind of lilting waltz so it felt right to have a narrative to pull you through it.  So, for the treatment, I sat down and wrote an entire ghost story from scratch, in the style of Poe or Hawthorne. I even wrote nursery rhymes about the ghost, because ghost stories are mostly aural traditions.

On The Kingdom video Jesca had a ton of input because I quickly realised that it would only reach its full potential if I pretended to be a paint brush and let her grab hold of the crew through me and paint. Once I took my ego out of the equation I realised there was something special there I was meant to service, and honestly, that’s the best method of working with an artist on a music video, that’s what you really cross your fingers for, isn’t it? You can see a little more of that process on the behind-the-scenes doc of the kingdom here:

But for City Bird Jesca was in Manchester and we were in LA shooting. Her schedule was tight, and I was really flattered that she had enough faith in me to let me just go and shoot because I know how much she loves her songs and how much faith it took for her to let go a little. I had originally submitted an entirely different treatment to her and had kind of resigned myself to the fact I wasn’t going to do it, which was cool enough for me because god only knows how many talented people Jesca comes across in her travels. Surely, I thought, she can find people in the UK to make amazing videos, and surely, as an artist, she wants to go and do cool stuff with other cool people. So I thought I would just give it a shot. I submitted this treatment about metaphorical ghosts, which dealt with mis-en-scene of places that had just been left and abandoned – an unmade bed, plates on a table after dinner, a toilet still running, stuff like that, where humans had vacated the frame only seconds ago and you’d just missed them – kind of pretentious honestly. Then I came across my fiancée’s childhood dollhouse and started taking video and snapping pictures and all of a sudden this whole new idea came to mind of the dollhouse and miniatures and stop motion and ghosts. I sent the examples to Jesca and she totally fell for it! 

City Bird house
The City Bird dollhouse.

Ghost stories are tricky because they are incredibly emotional stories surrounded in gothic imagery. Ghost stories like The Others, The Orphanage, The Sixth Sense, are rite of passage stories – they’re about letting go. About the dead letting go of the living and the living letting go of the dead. They’re NOT about the living being punished for a sin like horror movies, but about forgiveness of that sin from all parties, the relinquishing of unfinished business. And I wanted to nail that, I really did. In City Bird it is the boy who is at the centre of the story and has the rite of passage: the ghost is a sort of Frankenstein or Edward Scissorhands character. 

The boy has nightmares and makes up ghastly stories that paint the ghost as a demon, then something happens to the boy on his bike and he dies. We get those silent movie inter-titles: his tower (the city) is turned to a tomb. Shadows loom over his white coffin and he becomes a ghost, set into the underworld where he is refused and becomes a refugee with nowhere to go. It’s scary out there for a little boy so he returns to the ghost’s house and we realise that’s her purpose – she is a host for waywardly spirits like the dead boy. But he has been so scared of her, will he change? Can he let go of his fear of her? Can he muster up the courage to enter as she beckons him in? The song ends unresolved sonically so I wanted to leave the audience there just as the music does. The theme is that of judging a book by its cover and misunderstanding something: just as we pass the homeless on the street and pretend they are invisible like ghosts when they all have a real inner life. Can we let go of our prejudices and see beyond the stereotypes to see that the issues that made them homeless are ones that could very well come to prey on and haunt us at any time? That’s kind of the metaphor I was trying to get at. 

City Bird ghost
The City Bird ghost.

Who made the puppets and how long did the video take to make?

Jesca: I’m not quite sure actually… I should ask.

Elia: Everyone who was involved in making the City Bird video knew there was a finite time of ten days in which to create this beautiful, creative thing so necessity was to be the mother of invention due to the time constraints, and everyone really fed on that and brought their best to the project. My fiancee, Maranatha Hay, is an Emmy award winning documentary filmmaker who is piped into the most creative, kind, and daring community of filmmakers and her best friend Natalie Apodaca is an artist with experience in installations. I showed her Metropolis and told her we were going to build a monotone city from cardboard and she just went for it. Cosmin Cosma was my left hand man who insisted we use the Dragon Stop Motion software, which honestly was the main reason we were able to get the shots we needed in the time we had. 

The crew never lost faith in my direction, even when I had no idea how we would do it just ten minutes before the shoot. In the opening shot of the video there is a city cardboard diorama, the dollhouse, the puppet of the ghost AND the moon projected over the city! All those elements came into play because we just broke down the shot we had in mind element by element: that’s real filmmaking in a pure form. 99% of this video was done IN-CAMERA, like The Lumière Brothers! Then it was given that incredible aged look by Dan Geis, our after effects genius.

Jesca Hoop by Emma Lucy Watson
Jesca Hoop by Emma Lucy Watson.

I can tell you how the puppets were made, but I urge you to remember that cinema is like a magic trick. The home made feel is part of the fun of the viewing experience, especially the joy in realising that things like hair are actually twine. The doll’s arms are made of tiny painted tree branches, her spine is metal wire and her dress is made of muslin. Her face is tracing paper and is removable so that we could change her expressions from shot to shot. The part where the fork floats across the table had to be done with tweezers! (nudged lovingly one frame at a time by Maranatha)

The house was a nightmare. It is three feet tall and it took us 3 days to put it together from a flat box. We painted every part, so we had to know what the end product would look like before we even started. Luckily an architect friend, Dannon Rampton, showed up just to check out what was going on and got so enamoured with the dolls house that he ended up putting it together which is just as well since Natalie and I were clueless as to how we were going to do it. We painted it and then we had to DILAPIDATE IT so it looked old and haunted! We scrubbed it with metal brush, we broke its steeple and we stuffed miniature moss in all its crevices so that the ghost story would feel real and lived in. 

My motto is: make movies that can only be movies! Make movies that need that final step of the medium to fully realise the vision, because it’s such an expensive, time consuming endeavour that the content had better deserve and earn the medium. If it can be a song, a book, a play, let it be that. But film, film is reserved for the special stories that need the seven arts to make them whole. SO don’t give away our secrets if you don’t have to. 

Categories ,animation, ,Avril Kelly, ,Chabon, ,City Bird, ,Cosmin Cosm, ,Dan Geis, ,Daniel Geis, ,Dannon Rampton, ,Dragon Stop Motion, ,Dubai, ,Edward Scissorhands, ,Elia Petridis, ,Emma Lucy Watson, ,Emmy Awards, ,film, ,Filmatics, ,folk, ,Frankenstein, ,Ghosts, ,Hawthorne, ,holland, ,Homelessness, ,Hunting my Dress, ,Jesca Hoop, ,Liam McMahon, ,Los Angeles, ,manchester, ,Maranatha Hay, ,Metropolis, ,music video, ,Natalie Apodaca, ,Painted Lady, ,Poe, ,Puppets, ,Rebecca Strickson, ,Riverside, ,Seance, ,Spielberg, ,The Lumière Brothers, ,The Man Who Shook The Hand Of Vicente Fernandez, ,The Orphanage, ,The Others, ,The Sixth Sense, ,The Kingdom, ,Tulip Fever, ,Waltz

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Amelia’s Magazine | Visual Music

This work may not be reproduced without the permission of Matteo Patocchi, viagra order try info@matteopatocchi.com
All photography by Matteo Patocchi

When coming to chose a degree upon my emancipation from the grim steely hell that I refer to as ‘high school’ I had had intended to pursue Fine Art. But whilst browsing courses in the UCAS guide, pill I came across a course entitled ‘Live Art’ that struck my fancy, diagnosis due to it’s proclivity towards video art and installation, which I considered to be a very interesting and an undervalued aspect of art that was mostly overlooked in favour of more traditional art. Never one to turn away from the chance to do something weird and different, I launched into Live Art with all the necessary zest and fauna that such an establishment which heralds self mutilation as the curriculum can be given. It probably was an error in judgement. The course was a sham, filled up with luddites who had flunked getting into proper art courses and had been sectioned away onto this course for the financial gain of the university. Regardless of this, I enjoyed it, as it exposed me to the underbelly of the art world. Marina Abramovi?, Gina Pane, Vito Acconci – we studied them intently and they were my fast favourites. Although those names have been recognised and given a place in the ‘academy’ of modern art, most of the video artists, composers and performers that I dug up from the bowels of the library had been marginalised into nothingness.

Oskar Fischinger ‘Studie No. 7′

HST can sum up the majority of video art quite succinctly. ‘Too weird to live, too rare to die.’ They’re kicking about, in the crevices of galleries – quite literally in Acconci’s case, but in general, the media furore and deification is usually reserved for those artists who still can fit it with the status quo of the art community. Yet still, after graduation, moving image in art has always been close to my heart. There is something incredibly fresh and alternative about it, yet it’s never quite hit the same success, as it’s static predecessors. Which is precisely how ‘Visual Music’ at The Book Club came about. Alex Marshall has collected footage from avant-garde film-makers who have been pushed into anomie by not quite fitting the mould, then playing live original music to recontextualise the work. So I make the necessary steps to organise an interview with Alex Marshall at The Book Club, where Visual Music takes place. “Everything I say could well be bullshit.” He warns me prior to the interview. “Excellent. In that case, I’ll order a drink.” I reply, deciding that if one is going to be shrugging off the pompous ‘we are artistes’ shtick so early on, I may as well check my ‘I am ze journalist’ routine at the door and get drunk.

So maybe start off by telling me what you’re doing with Visual Music at The Book Club? I was asked to do something to do with film in a very arbitrary way. This freedom encouraged me to experiment with some ideas I’d been wrestling with for a while. I had become  very interested in the contiguity between text and image, but this phrase doesn’t mean very much to anyone, it didn’t mean very much to me at the time I came across it, but they mean a lot to me now.  Oskar Fischinger was the first person who sprung to mind when I began to conceptualise the night. I came across him by chance, as my flatmate had an old documentary about him. What I found fascinating about Fischinger was his background as a musician and how his work was an attempt to visualise what music is, what it feels like. And that fascinated me as it wasn’t a contrived analysis of musical form, or filmic form, it was more an attempt to show people what he felt about music, something that could be shared, but only through abstraction. And in order to show someone something, he wanted them to feel it, through this abstraction, rather than see it. I don’t think people see music, we don’t even see the words we say to each other, what we’re doing when we’re talking is exchanging visual references. This table is only a table because I tell you it’s a table.

Like Saussure? It’s not Saussure.

Lacan? It’s not Lacan! It’s not Wittgenstein either, it’s not labels; it’s that consciousness comes to us through a fictional fashioning. Our understanding of the world is created by the stories that we tell through our relationship to things. It’s a table because I’ve been told that this noise “table” signifies this thing that means all tables everywhere, their table-ness, which is a massive abstraction. The word abstraction is itself a massive abstraction from the meaning of abstraction.

Like Saussure. Fuck Saussure! I mean, this is all bullshit obviously…to anyone  with a real job, this is all bullshit, but it’s something we’re involved with all the time.

Did your paid work as a projectionist and cameraman influence your choices? Well, I’ve worked as a projectionist, and I’ve worked as a cameraman, I graduated in film, so I felt I was in a good position to try and understand why people come to the cinema. People tend to talk about films in term of their meanings and their symbols. It’s the age of psychoanalysis really, just reading into everything. But on a deeper level we’re constantly in the process of exchanging complete abstractions. I wouldn’t say we’re deluding each other, but we’re never truly questioning, or maybe we’re incapable of questioning, what it is that our consciousness is processing, what that process is. I chose Fischinger and I chose Norman McLaren for these reasons.

Neighbours by Norman McLaren

Tell me about Norman McLaren? He was a Scottish born Canadian art student with no money and no camera, all he had was film. So not only was he scribbling on the actual frame of a 35mm film, but he was also drawing the soundtrack. As a projectionist, this meant a lot to me; this physical touch that takes place. Which takes me back to contiguity, the physical inscription of the idea of language.

I take it that you have a real love of film. The 35mm type. I find its conservativism fascinating. From the moment we could, we’ve tried to ‘fix’ something and make it this permanent thing. However, all the substance of 35mm convinces you of, is that it isn’t a perfect material. The nature of it, is that it damages itself through it’s own reading. I find that really interesting.

Why did you chose Fischinger and Norman McLaren? I chose Fischinger because he was making music visual, and Norman McLaren for the second night because he saw Fischinger’s shorts in Glasgow. McLaren understood what Fischinger was doing and saw it as the perfect way to express visually how he felt about music. I think music is very important. It’s the one art form that can’t be explained away. People don’t know how to watch films in the way that we all listen to music. We all listen to music and don’t ask questions about it, we just accept its abstraction. A film should be viewed as a classical piece of music. How does it move you and why should be an afterthought. If you’re moved by something and you don’t understand it, that’s fine.

When doing these nights is there a particular theme that you want to convey to the audience, or is it very much inviting them into a creative process and allowing them to take from it what they will? Certainly both. I certainly have my viewpoint when I put something in front of someone. The next night is going to be very different and I hope people remain open. The Fischinger shorts were totally abstract and the music is abstract and I feel that it shouldn’t be a difficult thing to tap into. That’s my main drive, that you should be able to sit and experience these things. By watching it you should be asking questions to do with consciousness, and if you’re not then you should. That’s the only dogmatic point of view that I have, if you’re not questioning yourself as an audience you’re susceptible to real dangers.

Elaborate on real dangers. In the world of 24-hour news and the excess of information; you’re going to absorb it. Not necessarily as fact, people can differentiate between propaganda and fact. I mean, I’m fine with propaganda, I find it very honest – but to think of propaganda as negative spiel is very naïve. Anything anyone ever says to you is propaganda, as they’re reflecting their viewpoint onto you. It can be honest and true, but it’s still propaganda. The more we can expose it, the better. I think art should be asking questions to question people’s mode of questioning. Art should be the most powerful mirror in the world.

So you don’t try and create a singular message with any particular night? No. I try to keep it loose, so people can make from it what they will. And most of the audience isn’t even aware of these films and their creators. There’s a film maker that I would love to work with called Peter Watkins, I’d love to get him down but then it would be a Q and A type of thing and I’d fucking hate it, but I did three years of film studies and then years as a cameraman and I’d never heard of Peter Watkins, and I find that terrifying. I’m going to do a show with some of his work at some point. He’s the most marginalized filmmaker I’ve ever come across and his films are extraordinary. The point I’m trying to make is that with this night I wanted to expose filmmakers who had been marginalized by the popular media. Oskar Fischinger, for example. Everyone knows Fantasia. It wouldn’t have been made without him and Disney stole his ideas and shunned him. The work outside of that was vastly superior to anything that Disney ever made; although there are some great Disney movies.

What’s your favorite Disney movie? Fantasia by Oskar Fischinger.

I know you’re a creator yourself, as a filmmaker and photographer. Are you going to showcase your own work in the future? I have thought about that a lot, I did the first night and when I did the second night I talked to people who wanted me to showcase more of my work. It’s something in my mind but I’m quite self-effacing and it would also have to be the right piece of work. If I did it, it would be a surprise. I’m awful at promotion. I find the idea of showing my own work uncomfortable. It would no longer be subjective.

How did you find the musicians to work with you on this? For the first one it was totally by chance. I knew a guy called Jacob who was a friend of mine and plays in a band called Victoria and Jacob and they’re wonderful. So I asked him to contribute a live score. I can’t give a job over to someone if I don’t trust in what they’re doing. With Jacob, it was so easy and obvious. And we have very different viewpoints, which is great. I’m a pretentious academic, and he’s not. We got together to discuss it over a few beers, and I left it to him. I didn’t even know what he would play until the night. There was a two-minute rehearsal before the event, but I left to have a cigarette. So the first time I heard it was with everyone else.

(At this point, to conclude the interview I decide to switch tack probably based upon my blood alcohol levels.)

What is your favourite word? Skopos or Contiguity, I suppose. I don’t really have favourites. But I do like words.

What is your least favourite word? “Like, random”

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Contact

What turns you off? Self-importance.

What is your favourite curse word? Fuck

What sound or noise do you love? The HBO tag these days – excellence generally follows.

What sound or noise do you hate? The buzzer to my front door, especially when unexpected.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Er, what’s my profession?

What profession would you not like to do? Insurance salesman, because I’d have to kill myself in a painful and humiliating way.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Told you so.

And there you have it. Check out The Book Club’s website for details of the next ‘Visual Music’ night.

Categories ,alex marshall, ,amica lane, ,animation, ,art bollocks, ,Disney, ,East London, ,fantasia, ,gina pane, ,Hunter S. Thompson, ,installation, ,marina abramovic, ,oskar fischinger, ,peter watkins, ,The Book Club, ,victoria and jacob, ,Video Art, ,visual music

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Amelia’s Magazine | Royal College of Art Show Two 2010: Design

Amelia’s Magazine took a trip to see the Royal Collage of Art’s SHOW TWO at Kensington Gore…

The RCA’s MA Innovative Design Engineering – a double masters with Imperial College, London – is described as a course which encourages (and it succeeds) students to produce original work of “world-changing impact.” It is not surprising therefore, that the majority have turned their thoughts towards Climate Change and the ever looming post oil world, looking at the role design can play to encourage the world’s vast population to change their lifestyle habits.

First up is Matthew Laws’ Climate Machine, used to demonstrate our (individual) daily impact on the environment. The design is brilliant in it’s simplicity (simplicity to use, as Matthew talked me through the decision and engineering process it was decidedly complicated). The concept is that the user can gage their carbon footprint through the reaction of the mirrors and the light bulbs to their personal energy use. I.e if you use a car every day the light bulbs (representing a 40W bulb left on all the time) brighten in accordance to how much produced, and the mirror darkens. The more energy efficient you are the dimmer the light bulbs and the clearer the mirror.

On the back a screen displays in figures the users carbon footprint. What is brilliant about this design is that it reflects changes in your lifestyle, for instance if you were a heavy car user, if you switch to an electric car or a bicycle your carbon footprint decreases and the light bulbs dim.

Rich Gilbert produced the Embodied Energy Audit, displaying how much energy is required to make phones, clothes and everyday components that we don’t even consider cutting other aspects of our carbon emissions.

Jorge Manes graduated from the Design Products MA, described by the handbook as “an activity that fundamentally shapes our world and influences processes of change..” Usually focuses on product and furniture design, however the course does not impose limitations on it’s design students – therefore producing those such as Manes who exploration of how factories development can be examined through modern social and environmental reasons.

Manes work was incredibly fascinating, looking at the gradual industrialisation of production methods whilst looking at those who have maintained traditional craftsman skills.

It is refreshing to see Design Students focus their attention on the problems our consumer lifestyles are causing the planet, something British and World goverments have and are failing to deal with. In light of the recent report named Britain as the “Dirty Man Of Europe”, it was great to see MA design students providing innovative ways to tackle this problem.

Adam Paterson (Innovation Design Engineering) examines our global Marketplace and our current approach to transporting products from Market Place to Consumer. How can design help these journeys to become more efficient?

Maximo Riadigos (Innovation Design Engineering) ingenious Biodegrade, acts as an alternative and preventative to household food waste ending up as part of our overflowing landfills. The proposal of the design is to transform that which is currently perceived as waste into useful gardening products.

The Design Interaction MA focuses “on the interactions between people and technology… Concerned with the social, cultural and ethical consequences of living within an increasingly technologically mediated society,” produced Oliver Goodhall’s

Nucleaur is Good! Through Oliver’s version of a corporate training video, complete with team leader to guide the new recruits through the pro’s, cons’ and slightly irrational solutions (but highly public friendly) to the problem ‘going nuclear’ proposes.

Guided nuclear tour from Oliver Goodhall on Vimeo.

Damien Palin’s kindly took the time to explain the principles behind A Radical Means. To use the accompanying press release, the work is explores how “a radical departure from current means of human production is needed and possible through the study and mimesis of nature.”

A prototype created through Damien’s “microbally induced casting procedure.”

Palin’s technique works at biological temperatures (which are many many times lower than current industrial processes) producing objects that have been bound by using “the bacteria Sporosarcina pasteurii as a method for cementing natural granular materials using minerals as a binding agent.” Thank you for the explanation Damien!

Images showing the procedure in it’s current form….

Finally Aymeric Alandry’s Garden Tile – Experiment one proposes we “redefine our own trade in order to repair what 200 years of industrial revoloution are currently destroying 3.5 billion years of species evolution.” I cant think of a finer way to end this post with, not a truer word said. Lets hope these students of today are able to change the world tomorrow!

Stop back tomorrow for Amelia’s Magazine Show Two Post Part Two looking at the other ways in which design can impact the world….

Part two of the RCA show continues until 4th July 2010. It’s open from 11-8 daily at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU. Admission is free.

Images Courtesy of the Students and addition photographs by Sally Mumby-Croft



Categories ,Adam Paterson, ,Adnan Lalani, ,animation, ,Aymeric Alandry, ,Becky Pilditch, ,Damian Palin, ,design, ,Innovation Design Engineering, ,Interaction Design, ,Jorge Manes, ,Kjen Williams, ,Lauri Wasta, ,Matthew Laws, ,Oliver Goodhall, ,platform, ,RCA SHOW TWO, ,Rich Gilbert, ,Sivaprakash Shanmugam, ,Super Prosthetics

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Amelia’s Magazine | Seven Little Houses animation for the 4th Annual Aniboom Awards: the inside scoop.

It’s the day before the general election and the concluding part of Amelia’s Magazine interview with Think Act Vote founder Amisha Ghadiali. Tomorrow you have a chance to vote, mind order use it.

Why do you think if “politics were a brand, visit this no one would wear it!”?

This statement is about Westminster politics, symptoms in many ways the system we have is out of date for the world we are living in now. I don’t see people wanting to “wear” it as it is. This is why I really support the work of campaigns like Vote for a Change that focus their around how we can make the system work better for us.

How can fashion be used to engage people in Politics?

I think that fashion plays a key role in how we express ourselves and we use it to communicate things about ourselves or messages that we care about. The campaign t-shirt has become iconic as a phenomenon. At the beginning of the campaign, we ran a competition to design the perfect campaign t-shirt, which was a great opportunity for up and coming illustrators to showcase their work. The winning design by Jesson Yip was selected by a judging panel that included Katharine Hamnett and Daisy de Villeneuve. The symbols represent each word, with different fonts to represent different people’s voices. The design was then printed onto Earth Positive Eco T-shirts and is now on sale.

Through working in the ethical fashion industry I see fashion as a key way to think about sustainability. We all wear clothes, and the fashion industry affects so many people across the world as well as the environment. I work closely with Ethical Fashion designers at EFF and am one myself with my jewellery label. As an ethical designer, you don’t just have to make sure that your collection looks and fits great, but you spend a huge amount of time researching new fabrics, new technologies and finding out who is telling the truth about their labour standards or production methods. You need to be pioneering and inquisitive as you think through your entire collection and its impact on the environment and people at every stage.

Ethical Fashion designers are always pushing boundaries and are extremely passionate about what they do. I wanted to include this talent in the campaign and asked leading ethical fashion designers to create a show piece or an easy DIY customisation using a Think Act Vote t-shirt and off cuts from their collections. The designers that took part included Ada Zanditon, Junky Styling, Traid Remade, Tara Starlet and Beautiful Soul. The pieces that they created in just a week are stunning.

Think Act Vote discusses the negativity imbedded in modern politics – Were there any particular examples that spurred you into action?

There are loads of examples, just try and think when the last time you heard something positive about politicians or about changes in our communities. We are always focusing on people’s failings and the ‘fear’ out there. Just last week the country spent two days focusing on the story about Gordon Brown saying a woman was a bigot.

Is this negativity the reason, do you think, for the decline in the number of votes?

Not the only reason. Things have changed a lot over the last few decades. I think two features of the neo-liberal British political landscape are related: the rise of consumerism and the demise of traditional participation. I think that the way we express who we are is different now, not that many people are lifetime members of political parties. Political identity is no longer inherited.

As mentioned before I don’t think the political system reflects who we are, which makes us lose interest.

Have you been watching the Leader’s Debate?

I have seen bit of them, but not all the way through as have been doing talks and events most evenings in the past few weeks. I think it is great to have the leaders on TV, as it has really helped getting people talking about the election. I am not sure how much of their personalities and policies we are really seeing as the whole things does feel a little over polished. I think it would mean more if we had a vote on who was PM as well as on our local MP. I would also like to see some of the smaller parties be given this platform too.

Will you be voting this election?

Yes I will be voting, I think this is vital. I haven’t decided who for yet. I will decide on election day. I am deciding between three parties but then I went on Voter Power and saw that my voter power in my constituency is only 0.039. It is an ultra safe seat. So I am thinking about voting through Give Your Vote. It is a fantastic campaign about Global Democracy which allows you to give your vote to somebody in Afghanistan, Ghana or Bangladesh. It is an act of solidarity with those who do not have a say in the decisions that affect them.

Join Amisha tonight at: The Future I Choose with Live Music, Poetry, Fashion, Photography ??
The City and Arts Music Project, 70-74 City Road, London, EC1Y 2BJ?
5.30pm til 9pm

When Lesley Barnes found out about the 4th Annual Animboom Awards animation competition in conjunction with Sesame Street (Blimey, symptoms try saying that fast!), she just knew she had to work with fellow illustrator Thereza Rowe. The results of their collaboration is this wonderful piece: Seven Little Houses. You can also watch the video here.

Seven Little Houses clouds
Seven Little Houses bottles

Lesley Barnes describes how they approached the Aniboom competition:

One of the competition categories was to design an animation that would help children learn about either colours, shapes, numbers or letters. We chose the number seven as it seemed to give us scope to do a bit of counting without it being a huge number for kids to deal with and for some reason we both agreed that there was something special about an odd number.
We gave the animation a circular feel by creating it around the idea of a day, with the sun at the beginning and the moon at the end. Repetition was key so the narrative turns around lots of groups of seven; the idea being that children will get used to counting 124567 and begin to repeat it. As well as having the numbers on screen we included groups of seven objects; seven houses, seven bottles, seven clouds, etc. because it’s easier to visualise the numbers as objects.
The animation was mostly done in after effects and took about a month to finish. My friend Al Paxton, who is a musician in Brooklyn, provided the sound. It was his idea to have the voices (him and his girlfriend) shouting out 1234567 and I think it’s really important because it encourages children to shout out along with the animation.

twoofhearts_sheltercardquilt_lesleybarnes
Lesley Barnes’ illustration for the sShelter Card Quilt.

Thereza Rowe Shelter Card Quilt
Thereza Rowe’s illustration for the Shelter Card Quilt.

Lesley first got in touch with Thereza after admiring the playing card that she designed for my Shelter House of Cards Quilt in 2009, and since then they’ve kept in constant contact via email and twitter. I asked them to write down a few words about each other.

Lesley Barnes on Thereza Rowe:

We both had cards included on Amelia’s final Shelter Card Quilt and Thereza‘s goats – although she now tells me they are deer – were my favourite! Amelia’s Magazine has given us such a great platform for our work: we have been in touch ever since and knew that we wanted to do a collaboration at some point… When I saw the Aniboom Sesame Street competition I thought that Thereza’s textures, colours, shapes, illustration style and personality (including her love of pink milk and bendy straws) would be perfect for it. We started work with Thereza‘s house illustrations and from that we both designed a selection of characters. There were far too many in the end, so the final seven characters were a bit of an amalgamation of our work.
Working with Thereza was ace and the best thing was all the colour that she brought into the animation – my animation can sometimes get a bit monochromatic so it was such a pleasure to work with such a great selection of colours and textures. I also think that Thereza‘s lovely upbeat personality comes through in Seven Little Houses.

Seven Little Houses umbrellas

Thereza Rowe on Lesley Barnes:

When Lesley contacted me for the first time with some nice words about my work and a suggestion that we should collaborate in a future project I was so excited because as soon I set eyes on her stunning animation and illustration work I knew that we would eventually produce something really good together. Since then we have kept in touch whilst keeping an eye out for interesting briefs which would suit our ideas of a collaboration… and so the Aniboom competition came about!
Working with Lesley has been an ongoing joy as she’s creative, diligent, determined and hands on. We both share a similar sense of humour which is very important because it makes the working process a pleasant experience. As the project developed I was amazed to see how the aesthetics of our work just gelled together effortlessly, almost like magic. Surprisingly we have not met in person yet, although it feels like we have….
I am really proud of how she made our illustrations move in such a graceful manner and we’ve been receiving some lovely responses from people who have seen the animation. I’d also like to echo Lesley’s thoughts on the constant support and appreciation of the work we produce that we get from Amelia’s Magazine.

seven little houses
seven little houses people

I also wanted the girls to talk about the importance of Twitter to their collaboration, as I often see conversations between Lesley and Thereza passing through my own Twitter feed: it’s how I found out they were collaborating on the project for Aniboom, and it’s a medium I feel strongly that all illustrators should engage with.

Lesley on Twitter:
Twitter is an easy way of staying in touch and see what each other is up to. When you are a freelancer it’s great for reminding you that you are not completely alone in the world and means you can check out what’s inspiring other people, collaborate with them, get feedback and generally just have a bit of a chat.

Thereza on Twitter:
Using Twitter helped make the collaboration go more smoothly because Lesley and I were always tweeting bits of work in progress to each other and teasing other about what was coming next. I used to be very resistant to using Twitter but now I’m a self proclaimed addict because it’s enabled me to engage with some ace collaborations that otherwise might not have happened.
Twitter is probably the best current social tool for illustrators in terms of networking and establishing links with both the industry and peers as it provides an open channel for direct communication and it’s fab for promoting your own work and the work of others. I love the fact that Twitter is free of advertising and has a nice layout which allows you to customize your page background nicely. I’m really fussy about such factors…
Also, the job of an illustrator can often be a lonely one as we spend a great deal of time confined in our workspaces, well, working… so I tend to have my twitter page open through the day, so it almost feels like having lots of nice people around :)

Both Thereza Rowe and Lesley Barnes appear in Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration.

Categories ,Al Paxton, ,Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration, ,Aniboom, ,animation, ,brooklyn, ,collaboration, ,Goats, ,illustration, ,Lesley Barnes, ,Open brief, ,Sesame Street, ,Seven Little Houses, ,Shelter Card Quilt, ,Shelter House of Cards, ,Social Media, ,Social Networking, ,Thereza Rowe, ,twitter

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Amelia’s Magazine | New video for Diamond Mine single Bubble by Elliot Dear

Elliot Dear Bubble King Creosote Jon Hopkins title
There’s no denying that a good music video is increasingly a necessity to accompany any new single release in our multi media world, ampoule so it is no wonder that it is to illustrators and animators that bands are turning in order to create magical visions of their songs that would not otherwise be possible. Illustrator and animator Elliot Dear is responsible for the gorgeous video for the new single from the Jon Hopkins and King Creosote collaboration Diamond Mine.

Elliot Dear Bubble King Creosote Jon Hopkins boatElliot Dear Bubble King Creosote Jon Hopkins fish boat

It features a small boat marooned in a snowy harbour and a black dog that jumps overboard to join a shoal of fish amongst points of light and an abandoned car. It’s one of the most evocative videos I have seen in ages, sickness exploring themes from Bubble in an abstract and dreamlike way.

Elliot Dear Bubble King Creosote Jon Hopkins fishElliot Dear Bubble King Creosote Jon Hopkins dog

Bubble was first written by King Creosote in the 1990′s, and is described by King Creosote in his Drowned in Sound track by track explanation as ‘boy does bad, promises to do better, big sentiments and commitments if and only when desperately needed.‘ Kenny added a second verse more recently in which he attempted ‘to bring in some older cynicism to counter the naivety in the original.Jon Hopkins recorded most of the backing track in his attic a few years ago and included sounds such as the turning of a bicycle wheel and the drumming of his hands on the carpet.

Elliot Dear Bubble King Creosote Jon HopkinsElliot Dear Bubble King Creosote Jon Hopkins under water

The video was directed by Elliot Dear, who graduated from UWE in 2007. Elliot now works with Blinkink and his work often explores the relationship between people and animals and where the line between the two blurs‘. He mixes illustration and animation with hand built sets and it took him five days to shoot the 3D models of the boat and car to create Bubble. You can watch it right here:

YouTube Preview Image

I love the combination of music and animation in the Bubble video, but if you want to break the spell it casts on all who view it then why not watch the ‘making of’ video below, which shows Elliot messing around in his basement studio to create the fictitious Bubble world.

YouTube Preview Image

Read my interviews with both King Creosote and Jon Hopkins. They will be on tour later this summer; two dates have just been added for Leicester Summer Sundae Weekender and Bestival on the Isle of Wight… full listing information here. Read our review of their recent performance at Union Chapel here.

Categories ,animation, ,bestival, ,Blinkink, ,Bubble, ,Diamond Mine, ,Drowned In Sound, ,Elliot Dear, ,illustration, ,isle of wight, ,Jon Hopkins, ,King Creosote, ,Leicester Summer Sundae Weekender, ,review, ,single, ,UWE, ,video

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Amelia’s Magazine | Royal College of Art: Design and Animation Part Two

Deviating from the subject of Climate Change, Amelia’s Magazine finds ourselves mesmerised by Design Interaction Student, Kjen Wilkens’ Weather Camera.

What is the impact on our relationship with the environment – when existing in a world where sensor monitors constantly interpret our daily surroundings, producing endless streams of data? Are we moving into the final phrase of Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction?

Photograph by Ludwig Zeller

The Weather Camera is Kjen Wilkens response to her search for a human presence within this deluge of electronic readings. Instead of taking a photograph to a record a special moment, the user of The Weather Camera can record the atmospheric conditions, weaving these into autobiographical memory. In time encouraging new methods of narration, titled by the designer as “Sensor Poetics.”

Becky Pilditch‘s prothestics are “objects of empowerment”, showcasing how functional pieces of designs can be both a thing of beauty and an extension of the wearer’s personality. Becky worked and developed the project with Holly Franklin .

Hand 8 the final part of the project, played with ideas of gesture and personality by creating numerous arms that related to Holly’s actions as she spoke or moved around a space. A fantastic aspect of the website is the blog, which can be used by other prosthetic limb users to feed back directly to the project.

In the Animation section of the exhibition Lauri Warsta’s Traumdeutung awaited. A wonderful animation baring the hallmarks (whatever that may mean…) of a “documentary,” the calming, not too dissimilar to the 1940′s DONT PANIC! voiceover narrated the data currently available on the subject matter: The Global Reserves of Dreams. The beauty of the animation, being it contained the possibility, that it was entirely a dream.

The subtle block coloring of the animation maintained a ‘warmth’ more accustomed with hand drawn animation, that can sometimes be lost in 3D animation. This is an outcome of Warsta’s experiments in combining; “two extremes (3D and Handmade) clash and merge. For example, bringing the uncontrollable movement of real hand-held footage to an otherwise sterile computer animation”

Adnan Lalani‘s experiment with augmented reality catches the attention, through being something the viewer can interact with. The action of turning the Pop Up Book’s pages is suplimented by additional narration appearing on the screen placed directly behind the book and inline with the viewers eye.

Below is a video documenting the Pop Up Book’s Prototype. Earlier this week Adnan kindly took a few moments to explain the idea behind combining the narrative structure of a Pop Up Book with Augmented reality: “The pop-up book felt like a natural compliment to augmented reality. I was hoping to see how AR could be used in a more tactile, playful context… i.e. take something we already know and play with, and allow it to be enhanced with animation and digital interactivity.”

RCA Work In Progress Show – Pop Up Book Prototype Documentation from adnan lalani on Vimeo.

Eventually Adnan hopes that as we grow increasingly comfortable with the idea of Augmented Reality, ideas like the Pop Up book ” can allow a progression from the magical, novelty nature of AR, into more of a direct tool by which to communicate narratives and story telling”

The eye catching work of Design Interaction Graduate Louise O’Conner; used experimental dance to convey the movement of the smallest particles, for example: Atoms, in an attempt to connect us to movements that are beyond our physical awareness. Visit the exhibition to watch the film!

A particular lovely idea was the mapping out to scale, the measurements of the solar system along Kingsland High Street and up into Stamford Hill. Several shopkeepers were to host a planet…

Photography by Mark Henderson

You can find the map and information about the project here:

Katrin Baumgarten’s Aesthetics of Disgust explores humans’ relationship and our reactions; both emotional and physical to the things or materials which disgust us. Using inanimate objects all too often taken for granted, (i.e. Light Switches) Kartin added disturbing features such as goo or hair that moved as the light switch is pressed. By ‘touching’ us back, the presence of these inanimate objects is brought back to the forefront of our attention.

In the installation at the Royal College of Art a screen documents the level of the reaction of each user.

Another subject explored by Katrina is Intimate touch or sexual disgust and how these feelings can be created “merely by inappropriate behaviours in society, such as touching another person in an intimate or sexual way in public, even though that might comfort the two persons involved and is a part of our human nature.” The outcome of which is the Intimate Touch Object, an item which enables you to touch another person secretly…

FINALLY on my second trip (yes second, it’s that big and really worth the time) I came across the brilliant work of Sivaprakash Shanmugam’s Expressive Scribble. Children draw onto the projector screen (this could be the kitchen floor, wall etc…) and an bring their drawings to life by clicking the ‘movie’ button. The idea being to “enrich their visual vocabulary,” sense of narrative and most importantly encourage children’s creativity.

Part two of the RCA show continues until 4th July 2010. It’s open from 11-8 daily at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU. Admission is free.

Images Courtesy of the Students and addition photographs by Sally Mumby-Croft

Categories ,Adam Paterson, ,Adnan Lalani, ,animation, ,Aymeric Alandry, ,Becky Pilditch, ,Damian Palin, ,design, ,Innovation Design Engineering, ,Interaction Design, ,Jorge Manes, ,Katrin Baumgarten, ,Kjen Wilkens, ,Lauri Wasta, ,Matthew Laws, ,Oliver Goodhall, ,platform, ,RCA SHOW TWO, ,Rich Gilbert, ,Sivaprakash Shanmugam, ,Super Prosthetics

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Amelia’s Magazine | Royal College of Art: Design and Animation Part Two

Deviating from the subject of Climate Change, Amelia’s Magazine finds ourselves mesmerised by Design Interaction Student, Kjen Wilkens’ Weather Camera.

What is the impact on our relationship with the environment – when existing in a world where sensor monitors constantly interpret our daily surroundings, producing endless streams of data? Are we moving into the final phrase of Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction?

Photograph by Ludwig Zeller

The Weather Camera is Kjen Wilkens response to her search for a human presence within this deluge of electronic readings. Instead of taking a photograph to a record a special moment, the user of The Weather Camera can record the atmospheric conditions, weaving these into autobiographical memory. In time encouraging new methods of narration, titled by the designer as “Sensor Poetics.”

Becky Pilditch’s prothestics are “objects of empowerment”, showcasing how functional pieces of designs can be both a thing of beauty and an extension of the wearer’s personality. Becky worked and developed the project with Holly Franklin .

Hand 8 the final part of the project, played with ideas of gesture and personality by creating numerous arms that related to Holly’s actions as she spoke or moved around a space. A fantastic aspect of the website is the blog, which can be used by other prosthetic limb users to feed back directly to the project.

In the Animation section of the exhibition Lauri Warsta’s Traumdeutung awaited. A wonderful animation baring the hallmarks (whatever that may mean…) of a “documentary,” the calming, not too dissimilar to the 1940’s DONT PANIC! voiceover narrated the data currently available on the subject matter: The Global Reserves of Dreams. The beauty of the animation, being it contained the possibility, that it was entirely a dream.

The subtle block coloring of the animation maintained a ‘warmth’ more accustomed with hand drawn animation, that can sometimes be lost in 3D animation. This is an outcome of Warsta’s experiments in combining; “two extremes (3D and Handmade) clash and merge. For example, bringing the uncontrollable movement of real hand-held footage to an otherwise sterile computer animation”

Adnan Lalani’s experiment with augmented reality catches the attention, through being something the viewer can interact with. The action of turning the Pop Up Book’s pages is suplimented by additional narration appearing on the screen placed directly behind the book and inline with the viewers eye.

Below is a video documenting the Pop Up Book’s Prototype. Earlier this week Adnan kindly took a few moments to explain the idea behind combining the narrative structure of a Pop Up Book with Augmented reality: “The pop-up book felt like a natural compliment to augmented reality. I was hoping to see how AR could be used in a more tactile, playful context… i.e. take something we already know and play with, and allow it to be enhanced with animation and digital interactivity.”

RCA Work In Progress Show – Pop Up Book Prototype Documentation from adnan lalani on Vimeo.

Eventually Adnan hopes that as we grow increasingly comfortable with the idea of Augmented Reality, ideas like the Pop Up book ” can allow a progression from the magical, novelty nature of AR, into more of a direct tool by which to communicate narratives and story telling”

The eye catching work of Design Interaction Graduate Louise O’Conner; used experimental dance to convey the movement of the smallest particles, for example: Atoms, in an attempt to connect us to movements that are beyond our physical awareness. Visit the exhibition to watch the film!

A particular lovely idea was the mapping out to scale, the measurements of the solar system along Kingsland High Street and up into Stamford Hill. Several shopkeepers were to host a planet…

Photography by Mark Henderson

You can find the map and information about the project here:

Katrin Baumgarten’s Aesthetics of Disgust explores humans’ relationship and our reactions; both emotional and physical to the things or materials which disgust us. Using inanimate objects all too often taken for granted, (i.e. Light Switches) Kartin added disturbing features such as goo or hair that moved as the light switch is pressed. By ‘touching’ us back, the presence of these inanimate objects is brought back to the forefront of our attention.

In the installation at the Royal College of Art a screen documents the level of the reaction of each user.

Another subject explored by Katrina is Intimate touch or sexual disgust and how these feelings can be created “merely by inappropriate behaviours in society, such as touching another person in an intimate or sexual way in public, even though that might comfort the two persons involved and is a part of our human nature.” The outcome of which is the Intimate Touch Object, an item which enables you to touch another person secretly…

FINALLY on my second trip (yes second, it’s that big and really worth the time) I came across the brilliant work of Sivaprakash Shanmugam’s Expressive Scribble. Children draw onto the projector screen (this could be the kitchen floor, wall etc…) and an bring their drawings to life by clicking the ‘movie’ button. The idea being to “enrich their visual vocabulary,” sense of narrative and most importantly encourage children’s creativity.

Part two of the RCA show continues until 4th July 2010. It’s open from 11-8 daily at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU. Admission is free.

Images Courtesy of the Students and addition photographs by Sally Mumby-Croft



Categories ,Adam Paterson, ,Adnan Lalani, ,animation, ,Aymeric Alandry, ,Becky Pilditch, ,Damian Palin, ,design, ,Innovation Design Engineering, ,Interaction Design, ,Jorge Manes, ,Katrin Baumgarten, ,Kjen Wilkens, ,Lauri Wasta, ,Matthew Laws, ,Oliver Goodhall, ,platform, ,RCA SHOW TWO, ,Rich Gilbert, ,Sivaprakash Shanmugam, ,Super Prosthetics

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Amelia’s Magazine | Royal College of Art MA Degree Show 2011 Review: Communication Art and Design

Tom_Senior Nomads
Nomads by Tom Senior.

I will confess that I found the new location for Communication Art & Design at the Royal College of Art show somewhat difficult to navigate – all those nooks and crannies had me convinced that I must have missed something.

RCA MA degree show 2011-Tom Senior
Tom Senior‘s animation looked at the consequences of being greedy ‘Four travellers come to rest in a bountiful land where luscious red strawberries grow on trees and meat and fish are plentiful.’ I guess it’s a metaphor for inherent human greed. It was fun, I’m sorry I can’t show it to you here.

RCA MA degree show 2011-Peter Jessien Laugesen
Showreel

Peter J. Laugesen produced an observational portrait of human alterations within nature that included a singing gnome. This was ‘wild life under control and the domesticated running wild.’

Jo Blaker
RCA MA degree show 2011-Jo Blaker
Jo Blaker in Communication Art & Design tackled illustrative ceramics as 3D Drawings, inspired by 17th century slipware. Symbols came from contemporary consumer culture.

RCA MA degree show 2011-Marine Duroselle
Marine Duroselle made a simple and beautiful card set alphabet using a risograph and letterpress.

RCA MA degree show 2011-Mike Redmond
RCA MA degree show 2011-Mike Redmond
Mike Redmond, who won the V&A student award, was hanging about near his Moving Towards Going Away Blueshift – Redshift. With titles such as 2. Hiding things we like and showing things we don’t. and 7. Angry country part 2 the museum is flooded and the bubble man is defeated, the escape plan is at hand it’s fair to say this was a fairly surreal final piece.

RCA MA degree show 2011-Cat Roissetter's The Violent Ordeals
Cat Roissetter‘s The Violent Ordeals in graphite and pastel was weirdly beautiful.

Eleanor Taylor RCA Land of Milk and Honey
Eleanor Taylor RCA Land of Milk and Honey
Eleanor Taylor’s Land of Milk and Honey – Detail.

Eleanor Taylor‘s Land of Milk and Honey was an astonishing pencil and photocopy collage.

And there ends my coverage of this year’s RCA MA shows. Don’t forget to check in and read the others if you haven’t already!

Categories ,2011, ,3D, ,animation, ,Cat Roissetter, ,ceramics, ,Communication Art & Design, ,drawings, ,Eleanor Taylor, ,Graduate Shows, ,illustration, ,Jo Blaker, ,Land of Milk and Honey, ,letterpress, ,Marine Duroselle, ,Mike Redmond, ,Moving Towards Going Away Blueshift – Redshift, ,pencil, ,Peter Jessien Laugesen, ,rca, ,Risograph, ,Royal College of Art, ,Slipware, ,surreal, ,The Violent Ordeals, ,V&A Illustration Awards, ,va

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