Monday, 23 January 2012

''Camberwell Needs...''

FOXES! we decided that Camberwell needed more foxes as we considered them emblematic of nightlife and nature, two ideas with felt an affinity for during our brainstorm.

these are two collage images i made for our display (which we arranged to emulate a fox and its flowing tail). I tried to reach an equilibrium between the man made and natural elements within the composition, which the fox (myself in a rather wonderful mask, courtesy of our 3D design student)was shown exploring.

quite fittingly, in addition to our photos taken in and around Camberwell, we also spliced parts of the College handbook into the collages.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

more fun

Just fun fun fun

just stuff done for fun over a few different holidays. not college work. i gave most of them to friends as birthday presents. i would like to be able to say it saves money but i run out of so many supplies that it is seems quite unlikely.

Headline Project

Being quite ill over the holidays, i kept my images quite small. But i like the effect of the interchanging red/blue sequence of the pictures collected in a small, focused area.

Object Narrative

Overall i am quite pleased with my narrative, what it depicted was easily interpreted and the story and visuals were found entertaining. I found it interesting, experimenting with elements like colour within a narrative context, leaving the early pages inside a building largely devoid of colour, and unleashing it when the robot makes his journey out side, simulating its joy and wonder at the discovery.

Similarly, colour informed character, the robot's eyes possess small neon stripes of blue even before he escapes the lab, signifying his liveliness and personality, yet simultaneously separating him from the people saturated in red. Beyond this, the saleswoman's appearance and temperament are mediated, unlike the instinctive crowd (and later mob) as is signified by the stripes on her clothes and plain skin.

There are several elements that i would like to have been able to approach more carefully, some of the visual devises such as the one that appears at the bottom of page 7, and the displays of emotion as appear on page 8 and 9, had i had more time.

I'm also interested in eventually binding the story and possibly adding an introductory page to smooth the storytelling process.

Object - Alternative Uses and Connotations

I found the 'alternative uses' activity very fun as it caused me to reevaluate my object in terms of scale, which proved a compelling action.

I infused the steam punk connotations i connected to the top hat with the story of John Hetherington bringing the top hat into the outside world for my narrative project; the story of a top hat adorned robot wandering into the world where he incites panic, before later managing to find success in marketing the image of a robot.

Object Project - Tophat

In lieu of information on the top hat's creator, of whom i could find little detail, i chose to research the story of the man who first wore a top hat in public, a surprisingly eventful occurrence that i eventually utilized as the basis for my object narrative.

Woman In Black

For the first of my 3 images i had the tree inclined over Arthur to try and make the Woman in Black appear more imposing, while also suggesting her subtle and malevolent influence on the story.

In the second image i also added a silhouette of the Woman in Black atop the balcony of the house, in an attempt to mimic the oppressive shadow she exerts over the characters and the story in general.

While i largely sought to retain the cold and bleakness apparent in some of the landscapes we observed in Camber Sands, in the third image i had a slab of bright red cut across the page, in order to emulate the shock of when Arthur Kipps enters the formerly locked room.

Across the three images, i attempted to have elements of colour transitioning between the three images in sequence, the dreary washed out grey of the sky in the first image infecting the clouds of the second; the drab colour of the Woman in Black's attire flowing into the water in which the horses drown, while the chilly violet hue of the marsh's mist intensifies and becomes more somber in the final image of the forlorn nursery.


                                                             What is Modernism?
                                                                                                                               Beau Gregory Giles
Part 1: Overview
Modernism is an art movement, arguably originating from early in the 19th century, yet truly gaining momentum post WWI, which had incited a feeling of desperate need for change. This contributed to a re-examination of the role of artists and designers within society, setting the ultimate goal of improving the world, in addition to fuelling experimentation. As modernist practitioners made efforts to influence a universal audience, they sought to transcend international boundaries and education utilizing visual language and isotype. These tenants led to a creed of ‘transparency in design’, making no attempts to conceal the truth of a modernist piece’s construction, accentuated by another guiding principal; ‘truth to materials’. As such, photography largely supplanted illustration within the modernism movement, as it captured a perfectly truthful image of what modernists observed, typifying what they sought in their creations, whereas an illustration might be inclined to interpret visuals through individual styles. These twin aspects – clarity, and being intended for the public - were unified as printing came to the forefront of the movement, reproducing images unaltered from the originals for mass social absorption. This edict of ‘form follows function’, as dictated by architect Louis Sullivan ‘the Father of Modernism’, was prevalent across the body of modernist works. Additionally, the rebellion against what was seen as antiquated tradition saw an emergence of artworks representing different, less respected classes in society, imbuing a previously understated element of rawness to the movement. The movement also birthed the Bauhaus school, founded by Walter Gropius, which became one of Modernism’s most profoundly influential factions, involving itself with the exploration of modernism in all forms. In essence, Modernism represented a new frontier for art, intended for significant and far reaching effect, rebelling against the established and previously unchallenged artistic and social doctrines.

Part 2: Visual Examples

Fig. 1 Koloman Moser – Poster for the 13th Vienna Succession Exhibition (1902)
This work, created a year prior to the establishment of the Wiener Werkst├Ątte by Moser and Josef Hoffman, anticipates many of the elements that would come to typify later modernist works.
A prevalence of primary colours, in conjunction to a highly structured, geometric aesthetic reflects the modernist ideals of clarity and honesty, distancing it from the decorative floral motifs of the contemporary Avant-Garde illustration, instead typifying the doctrines of ’exactitude and order’ advocated by Le Corbusier (Mark, T. (2003) The Impossible City). The overall effect exemplifies William Morris’s philosophy that ‘quite unornamented can look actually and positively beautiful, if it be so to say architecturally good’ (Bartram, 2004, p. 12).

Fig. 2 Otto Neurath – International Picture Language (1936)
Dismissing works whose ‘role was merely to be beautiful’ [1], Neurath’s isotypes embodied the modernist ambition for universal communication, creating pictograms unreliant upon written language to be correctly interpreted, promoting a form of ‘...common citizenship of all forms of creative work’.
Adhering to modernist principals, he did not embellish the work in any way that could potentially confuse or dilute its coherence, instead harnessing a basic template individually defined by simple details, patterns, and the application of a single (primary) colour.


Fig. 3 Alexandr Mikhailovich Rodchenko – ‘’Give us Pencils That are Good? ’’ (1923)
Constructivism, in many ways a subset of Modernism, proved very influential for the Bauhaus. It similarly served a social function, utilized by the Bolshevik Government of Russia to impact and inspire its population without an overreliance on text.
The cubist elements of Modernism are apparent in the broad, expressive shapes, while the powerful primary colour palette is typical of a modernist artwork.

Fig. 4 Herbert Matter- PKZ Poster (1928)
The cubist influence is once more apparent, as art deco became the commercial manifestation of Modernism. The movement’s preoccupation with bright, striking colours is still at the forefront, while the flatness of the forms simultaneously encapsulates Modernist clarity whilst hinting at the popularity of photomontage in other modernist works, later Matter works most notably.

Fig. 5 Cassandre – ‘Dubo–Dubon–Dubonette’ (1932)
In true illustrative fashion, this piece of commercial Modernist artwork communicates with the viewer through a sequence of images. This element of dynamism relates closely to futurist art, a subset of Modernism that glorified and attempted to depict ideas of speed and motion through the striking repetition of shapes.
Whilst the figure depicted is fixedly simple, this allows for other elements, the explosions of colour in the background and enveloping black to interplay visually, succinctly conveying its message to viewers as an advert, while the text reinforces it through a similarly striking transitional effect. Emphasis is evidently placed on the ease of the image’s interpretation and also reaffirms the expansive use of primary colours across modernist works.

Part3: Quotes and citations
In regards to the necessity for change that Modernists perceived in the post-war environment, architect Peter Behrens attested in the 1920s that ‘What is most depressing is not the scarcities we have to face....but the demoralisation of broad sections of the population...A transformation must emerge from this tragedy...a passionate moral renewal...’(Bartram, 2004, p. 13) encapsulating the war’s role as a catalyst for the formation of modernist principals and the growth of the movement’s social conscience.

In conjunction to this, the perpetual experimentation that Modernists embraced at least partly emerged from the same rhetoric; artist Gunter Grass identified later that ‘melancholy and utopia preclude one another’, an idea relating closely to the idea of what informed a ‘modernist’. Writer Elias Canetti surmised that ‘A "modern" man has nothing to add to modernism, if only because he has nothing to oppose it with.’[2], thus adversity and purposeful departure from preceding works was thought to be integral to progress by practitioners involved in the movement.

In the artworks, there is a clear correlation between the visuals and the concept of ‘elemental presentation’ (Bartram, 2004, p. 68) extolled by typographer Jan Tschichold, the geometric forms and carefully considered designs are largely devoid of purely decorative embellishments. His elements’ importance to modernism is clarified by his testament that ‘the final and most pure form of a necessary item is always constructed of geometric shapes’ (Bartram, 2004, p. 13.) This is reinforced by Le Corbusier’s belief that ‘The modern sentiment is a spirit of geometry, a spirit of construction and synthesis’ (Mark, T. (2003) The Impossible City ‘A pack-donkey’s way’), thus a balance of bold shapes is openly apparent in the composition of each artwork.

The utilitarian aesthetic of Neurath’s work clearly defers to ’the needs of the people instead of the demands of luxury’ in line with the ideas of painter Tomas Maldonado. Furthermore Neurath’s dedication to the modernist principal of accessibility mirrors the idea Walter Gropius described as the goal of the Bauhaus, ’ educate men and women to understand the world they lived in and to invent and create forms symbolizing the world’ (Bartram, 2004, p. 11).

Despite the strict guidelines for what qualified modernist works, they are evidently not rendered homogenised, demonstrating as the Bauhaus school was also judged ‘...a free yet controlled handling of the illustrations which in no way diminishes the concern for geometry’ (Bartram, 2004, p.58). The level of variation, whilst adhering to the movement’s strictures, shows an impressive breadth of expression considering Gropius’s own exclamation that ‘the approach to any kind of design...should be essentially identical, not only to their relationship to space but to social aspects as well’ (Bartram, 2004, p. 12). However, it is not altogether surprising that art works retained an evocative use of colour and imagery while pursuing truth and embracing new technology, as artists such as Le Corbusier ruled that their responsibility was to bring ‘to the men of our new mechanical civilisation, not just strict utility, but joy itself’ (Bartram, 2004, p. 13), reiterating their desire to not merely change the world but to improve it.

Part 4: Critical Analysis
Ironically, despite the modernist resolution to always work to escape the past, the idea of a need for drastic change emerging from a war torn world was reiterated , but to a contrary resolution. As army psychiatrist Ronald Davis Lang recognized post WWII that ‘...the truth resides now less in what things are than in what they are not. Our social realities are so ugly if seen in the light of exiled truth, and beauty is no longer possible if it is not a lie.’[3], clearly rejecting the Modernist supposition that the truth, plainly apparent, should be strived for and was the ultimate incarnation of aesthetic beauty. This demonstrates the development of ‘postmodernism’, which abandoned the notion of a single artistic vocation to aspire to, instead entertaining belief in the significance of various doctrines and movements.

Furthermore, amidst the somewhat aseptic visuals dictated by the modernist principals, any disparate design component could arguably exclude the work as a modernist piece in its entirety, heeding Amedee Ozenfant’s declaration that ’ must tend always to precision...’ (Bartram, 2004, p. 13). In light of this, the warped text found in Koloman Moser’s poster (Fig. 1) appears somewhat incongruous with the assertion of latter Bauhaus student Max Bill, that ‘First and foremost the demands of language and legibility must be met. Only then can one afford any aesthetic consideration’, bringing the art work’s role as a forerunner to the movement into question. This dichotomy between lucidity and experimentation is addressed by architect Tadao Ando who maintains that ‘... there is often a mismatch between the logic and the spirit of Modernism...’[4]. From this, one can extrapolate that Modernism’s quest for new forms of expression occasionally took precedence over its internal rules and mechanisms, a philosophy apparent in the words of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, that his institution ’would] only live so long as it does not congeal into a static form, as long as it seeks the essence of life in continual change’ (Bartram, 2004, p. 11). Evidently, he believed that other ideas were secondary within the movement, and less integral to its preservation overall. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that modernism could otherwise exercise such a significant and expansive influence over so many forms of expression and design, and engender the opinion that ‘Modernism released us from the constraints of everything that had gone before with a euphoric sense of freedom...’[5].

Another divide of principal, between the actuality of form, and the requisite truth in visuals can be recognized but it is more easily reconciled. Although the figure depicted in Cassandre’s Dubonette advert (Fig. 5) is seemingly a deformed representation of a person, Piet Mondrian, the creator of Neo-Plasticism, defended this approach as ‘reducing natural forms to the constant elements of form...nature’s basic structure’ (Bartram, 2004, p. 13). As such, one approach popular to certain subsets of modernism found that the purest visual essence of what they were depicting was not always that of what they observed, instead these avatars created of realistic forms allowed for ease of interpretation, a truth of superior clarity. This also relates closely to the individuals depicted in Figures 2 and 4, and the concept has evidently been applied to the solid forms of Figure 3’s buildings. In fact it could be argued that these are merely representations of the structures devoid of the ‘decoration’ that modernism’s precursors had imparted on architecture, concealing the truth of design that modernists sought to capture.

* Yates, D. (2011) Modernism Lecture. Camberwell College of Art, 6th October.

* Bartram, A. (2004) Bauhaus, Modernism & the illustrated book British Library Publishing Division; illustrated edition

 * Mark, T. (2003) The Impossible City ‘A pack-donkey’s way’. [Internet]. Available at:
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* Moser, K., Poster for the 13th Vienna Succession Exhibition (1902) [internet image] Available at:
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* [1] Neurath, O., International Picture Language (1936) [internet image] Available at:
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* Rodchenko, A. M., ‘Give us Pencils That are Good? ’ (1923) text V. Mayakovsky [internet image] Available at:
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* Matter, H., PKZ Poster (1928) [internet image] Available at:
[Last accessed 2 December 2011]

* Cassandre, A. M., Dubonnet (1932) [internet image] Available at:
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* Neurath, O., International Picture Language (1936) Psyche Miniatures General Series Available at:
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* Louis Sullivan Collection, (2011) The Art Institute of Chicago Available From:
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* Efting, S., (2009) Koloman Poster the 13th Vienna Secession exhibition Available From:
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* Morris, W., (1893) The Ideal Book, Transactions of the Bibliographical Society Available From:
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* [4] Ivy, R., interview with architect Tadao Ando in Osaka Japan ‘The Spirit of Modernism’ Available From:
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* [3]Laing, R. D., (1967) The Politics of Experience, publ. Routledge & Kegan Paul

* [5] Rickson, A., (2000) Speech to McGill University School of Architecture, October 21, Available From:
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* <>
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* Lucie-Smith, E. (1977) Art Today Second Enlarged Edition (1983), Phaiden Press Limited, Little Gate House, St Ebbe’s Street

Relief Printing

The most successful of my relief prints, and the workshops in general. I made up the image at the workshop. I just liked the idea of medusa using an umbrella to keep her snakes dry.

I deeply enjoyed relief printing, how easy it was to make multiple incarnations of a single image, and the potential for experimentation by adding material to the lino's surface.

The Woman In Black

Having just finished reading 'From Hell', i attempted to somewhat emulate Eddie Campbell's scratchy, violent linework for the W.I.B.

Camber Sands - Woman In Black

I was part of the group was asked to devise a Woman In Black landscape, which we achieved using materials that could create a murky, foreboding, distant effect, such as charcoal and oil pastel. We then added trees to the foreground to imbue the landscape with depth of field.

Camber Sands - Woman In Black

I rediscovered watercolours. They helped me make quick but useful studies. I especially tried to capture the pervading sense of cold.

Etching Workshop

I just picked out a small section of detail from a sketchbook image to test out soft-ground etching.