Research Task 12 – Blog Review

Peer review sheet of my blog completed by Rees Williams.

blog-review

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Research Task 10 – John Heartfield and the political image

John Heartfield, born 1891, died 1968.

He invented a new language, a pictorial language

Cross-matched icons to create new meanings.

He was the first to realise photo-montage could become a powerful political weapon.

Photo-montage was a product of zygosis, bringing together mass media, art and social struggle to form powerful political images. His methods have since been shifted for advertising and commercial purposes.

In WWI, Heartfield pretended to be insane in order to avoid the war, during this time he produced his first photo-montages in the form of redesigned postcards which sent subversive dadaist messages to soldiers on the front. He also recreated himself, changing his name to John Heartfield during this time.

Heartfield and other Dadaists attacked capitalism, nationalism and other fashionable art groups, especially expressionism.

He developed what started as a political joke into a conscious artistic technique which takes a familiar icon and turns it into something new.

The invention of the lightweight camera meant that photo’s became commonplace and is considered a key invRare John Heartfield photo in Paris, 1935ention.

As Hitlers triumph drew closer, Heartfield’s work ended it’s definitive phase, moving from class conflict to attack the Nazi’s through manipulation of their own propaganda.

The Nazi’s were the first to benefit from and use mass media to put their messages across. For the first time people could reach hundreds of thousands of people via film, mass demonstration and radio. They had a wider audience than any political party had ever had before.

Heartfield’s work was brought to Germany and distributed in secret. Because of a need to And Yet It Moves by John Heartfieldput the messages across in a short span of time he refined and sharpened his messages and technique to reflect this need.

Heartfield’s photo-montages were produced in small printshops, often at the risk of life ad then given, often, to young children to distribute around the area. Small stickers were also used and stuck to things like walls. This method was considered highly successful, the children never being caught.

Heartfield also used humour as a weapon in his work, using visual wit to reveal the truth behind the official story.

Humour sharpened to viciously satirical point was to become characteristic of political photo-montage.

Each time Hitler staged a media event, Heartfield came back with his own version.

At this point in time, print, as the main channel of communication was already giving way to moving image.

The censorship of anti-Nazi montages from a Heartfield exhibition provoked international outcry.

Germany put pressure on the Czech government to have them sent Heartfield back to Germany. Instead he ran again, this time to England. There he and some others working with him tried to give the British public an idea of what was really happening in Germany, discovering that many, even during the war, were ignorant to the horror and persecution faced by Jews, Gypsies and anti-Nazi’s in particular.

He later became a professor in the East Berlin Academy of Arts.

Many others have followed in his footsteps, echoing the technique he used though with differing themes.

“The important man is not the artist but the businessman who in the market place and on the battlefield holds the reins in his hands.” – John Heartfield

John Heartfield Photomonteur 1912

Information sourced from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTSOEDCLAJk&list=PLZb5QFBMWHl6RMo22W_fGHGd7q9ARGjbb&index=1

Images sourced from: http://www.johnheartfield.com/John-Heartfield-Exhibition/#

January 3rd – Anti-Art

WWI was the first fully mechanized war brought about by the industrialization of mass warfare. Many thought it was irrational or mad and, with Switzerland being a neutral country, many artists moved there. From there the Dadaists were born, artists seeking refuge and trying to draw attention to their art.

Dadaism quickly spread internationally and lots of publications were produced and distributed, aided by the internationalism of the movement.

Cubists attempted to take apart conventional ways of object representation by disrupting perspective. They also integrated part of the real world into the work by including things like cloth or paper, giving a 3D aspect.

Photomontage was used by the Paris Commune for propaganda in 1871 and by WWI it was a common technique employed to scare enemy troops and comfort home ones.

John Heartfelt was the most effective dada artist to employ photomontage as critical or satirical weapon against Nazi’s.

Surrealism techniques are often more interesting than the art. The artists attempt to access the unconscious mind by breaking away from what is representational.

Surrealism is described as:

“Chance encounter of an umbrella and a sowing machine on a surgeon’s table.”

Marcel Duchamp was a conceptual artist who made “readymades” by taking existing objects and claiming them to be art, thereby making him an artist. He was more interested in ideas of conceptual art than the physical artwork. This can be seen as anti-art.

Many Dadaists produced illustrative work for journals / magazines / book covers / manifestos etc using collage, montage and photo manipulation.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – film review

fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-movie-characters

(WARNING: this post may contain spoilers for the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)

If you already love the Wizarding World of Harry Potter then you’re bound to love Fantastic Beasts, set in America about 70 years before Harry Potter. The film follows Newt Scamander, a Magizoologist and aspiring author, carrying a case full of magical creatures he has taken into his care.

One of the best things about this movie, in my opinion, is the way you can relate to the characters, their personalities and individual quirks shown in depth, making them, though of a fictional magical world, seem more human and real. The creatures were no exception, Pickett the Bowtruckle being especially popular and becoming a part of Newt himself by living in his coat pocket and, though seemingly small and insignificant, saving lives at one point in the film.

In the creative industry, character is one of the most important things, whether in illustration or film, the characters are ultimately what the viewer will connect with most. And often it seems characters lose personality and development in place of a packed narrative, this film however doesn’t make that mistake. Fantastic Beasts keeps a mix of fast-paced action, slow moments and character personality and development as people who would not normally find themselves in each others company come together with the same goal. The attention to the small details in this film is something I haven’t come across in other films and should be used as an inspiration for future films.

 

(Image from: https://cinemabravo.com/tag/fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them/)

Research Task 9 – Brighton study trip photos

Photo’s I took in Brighton

29th November – The City part 2

Strategies to creatively explore the city:

Situationism:

“Be Realistic – Demand the impossible!” – Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968

Formed in 1957, the Situatonist International was characterised by a marxist and surrealist perspective on aesthetics and politics. Art and politics coming together in revolutionary terms. They analysed the world from the POV of everyday life. Core argument was an attack on the capitalist degradation of life and the fake models advertised by mass media. Explored the construction of situations, unitary urbanism, phsycheogeography, union of play, freedom and critical thinking.

Situationist legacy includes: Punk, Reclaim the Streets, Banksy and Adbusters.

Phsycogeography:

Defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as:

“The study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographic environment, conciously organised or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”

Detournment:

An artistic practice conceived by the Situationists for transforming artworks by creatively disfiguring them.

Some examples include someone camping in the city by having a car shaped tent and ‘parking’ it in a parking space at the side of a road. Or students who found their roof growing grass and used it as an additional area of space to relax in rather than treat it as a roof.

Derive:

From french word meaning to drift. Defined by the situationists as the ‘technique of locomotion without a goal’ in which people drop their usual motives for movement / action and get drawn in by attractions of the terrain and what they find there.

Flaneur:

Derived from french word ‘Flaner’ which means to stroll.

Charles Baudelaire defined it as “a person who walks in the city in order to experience it”.

Susan Sontag says “The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker” and “the flaneur finds the world picturesque”.

Urban Exploration:

Urban explorers are those who are enthusiastic about history and architecture and share a passion for investigating abandoned buildings and their secrets.

Parkour:

human reclamation. Stepping outside of what is now considered ordinary to replicate movement in the manner of primordial humans. Teaches to touch and interact with the world and to move using natural methods.

29th November – The City part 1

Pro’s of city life:

Accessibility, diversity, entertainment, warmer weather, nightlife, transport, convenience, trade, architecture, facilities, range of jobs, financial centers.

Con’s of city life:

Traffic / gridlock, pollution / smog, overpopulation, crime, natural disaster vulnerability, homelessness, expensive, labour expectation (24/7 shops etc), antisocial behaviour, exploitation, city of surveillance.

 

  • City contains extremes of poverty and wealth, even with wealth overlooking the poverty.
  • Some statistics: 1.3 million move to cities a week, 7 million a year. About 60% of population live in the city.
  • Experience of a crowd can be thrilling but also alienating. The experience of closeness brings different sensations. Even in situations like public transport broken down when people are close together with nothing to do it is a while before conversation might start.
  • Cities can be known as transport hubs, they have multiple variations of transport available that might not be elsewhere e.g. underground or tram. However, in some cities, Los Angeles for example, it is hard to travel around if you don’t own a car, even though public transport is available.
  • Novelists and artists were inspired by scientific ideas of how physical characteristics influenced a persons character. In the 1920’s, they thought of people in terms of class, status and type. This meant there was lots of stereotyping and labeling – considering someone a criminal, for example, because of a certain physical trait they might have.
  • Clothing, as a form of expression was particularly important in the 19th Century.
  • Charles Booth made maps of areas of wealth and poverty in cities. Similarly, in 1854, Dr John Snow mapped deaths close to water pumps which led to the discovery of one which was infected and causing many deaths at the time through disease.
  • London was modernised due to the Great Fire of London when it was realised that wooden buildings were hazardous with the buildings being so close together.
  • Development in cities led to the inclusion of entertainment, parks, theaters etc. They also became places of visual space and used for promotion and publicity, notably in advertising.

22nd November – Semiology

dsc03710Ferdinand De Saussure (a857 – 1913) is known as being the founder of linguistics. According to his version of semiotics, the basic unit of meaning is the sign. He also argued that language is arbitrary, conventional and relational:

Arbitrary-symbolic – non-natural or necessary connection between word meaning / sound / form.

Conventional – something to do in accordance / believed / intended to be in normal / general ways.

Relational – pair of words where opposites only make sense in context of relationship between two meanings e.g. teacher-student.

Signifier = any material thing that signifies, e.g. words, facial expressions etc.

Signified = concept / idea

e.g. Rose, though a plant, signifies concept e.g. love, romance.

Denotation is the literal meaning of something / what it is. Connotation is the associations we have with something.

Roland Barthes once said “Everything is a connotation”