These last couple of terms in Constellation have been a mixed bag of emotions. From stress and anxiety to a feeling of happiness, understanding and a sense of achievement.
Throughout the process of writing my dissertation (a part of the course I was dreading and fearing), I actually discovered how helpful and beneficial it actually was to my practice.
I chose to base my analysis on the topic of dreams; especially dream sequences in film and dreamscape paintings.
I first found that I was drawn to dreamscape paintings and Surrealism during my A Level art lessons. I was very interested in optical illusions. Through researching illusions further many paintings and works of Salvador Dali were brought to my attention. A couple of years later I was rekindled with my fascination of Surrealist art in Dr. Andy Broadey’s constellation seminars in the first year. These seminars were about links between the art movements. I found that the only art movement that sparked my interest and that I felt a connection to was Surrealism. The essay I wrote was a comparison between Dadaism and Surrealism. Throughout the research for this essay opened up my eyes to certain elements to Surrealists such as their strong fascination with dreams and the subconscious mind.
I have been intrigued to learn that optical illusions and a drawing game from my childhood originated from the Surrealists. As previously stated I discovered that some of Dali’s paintings incorporated optical illusions but through my recent research I found out that he developed them himself. It is his own method that he referred to as the Paranoiac Critial. Whilst researching the Surrealist art movement, I kept reading about the collaborating technique they developed named the Exquisite Corpse. After researching further into this technique, I came upon images which explained it to be a drawing where each artist has drawn a different section of the body. When I was growing up I constantly created these drawings with friends with a folded piece of paper so we would be unaware of what the previous person had drawn. This created a mysterious character or hybrid of a human/creature. I remember we would always have a lot of fun drawing these when I was a child and oddly enough my university friends and I drew one during a lecture; unknown to us of its origins.
Outside of my studies I also found that I was noticing the use of dreams in recent films and television programmes; some of which are my favourite. Films such as American Beauty, Labyrinth and The Big Lebowski and Television programmes such as Six Feet Under and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I always found these dream sequences were one of the reasons I enjoyed these films and television programmes so much. The dreams could have been to show comedy, embarrassing wishes and fears, serious truths or lust. For example, the scenes in Six Feet Under were often daydreams which would snap in during serious scenes. They were usually comedic scenes which contrasted with the characters dealing with grief and tackling the difficulties in life. These moments of humour helped the audience relate to the characters as it is something everyone can recognise in their own lives. The dream sequence from The Big Lebowski is filmed beautifully and as it begins with a comical dance scene. This scene begins with happiness revealing the wish of the main character, The Dude, as he lusts over another character. The dream then turns for the worse as it transforms into a nightmare; as he is being chased with large scissors by the characters he is against in the film. This dream reveals The Dude‘s feelings towards another character and also displays familiar imagery shown earlier in the film such as the painting of the big, red scissors are what he is chased with. This dream sequence has distorted and angular scenery which help to create the illusion of this dream.
Although some of my favourite dream depictions are from modern films and television, the majority of modern dream sequences I have seen have lost the qualities that Dali’s film contributions and paintings possessed. They have lost the key traits that make an audience perceive them as a dream without being obvious. For example, through a thought bubble or the screen dissolving into the dream whilst harps are playing. Annoyingly cliché.
All of this led me to use dreams as the dissertation topic as it is obviously an interest that has always been at the back of my mind but had not yet been able to create work from.
I think the dissertation structure of the analytical text and artefact was the best way for me to approach this topic. This structure would allow me to create a project by showing how my research and understanding of methods and artworks influenced my artefact. Through the analytical text I analysed four dream sequences in films directed by Alfred Hitchcock and Luis Bunuel, along with collaboration from Salvador Dali. As I have been drawn the Dali’s works over the years it made sense to analyse some of his dreamscape paintings and the dream theories of Sigmund Freud; one of the Surrealists’ biggest influences. I believed these studies would show how I came to create the stop motion animation of my own dream sequence for the artefact.
After starting to write my dissertation and jot down my dreams I began to notice a link with my subject topic of grief. Both dreams and death are the unknown and unexplained. They are related to humans and their deep emotions. This is what I believe draws my interest to these topics.
I have never done such an intense investigation before and should continue by expanding my reasearch in projects to come. I hope that through my dissertation I have proved how beneficial the analysis was and how much it influenced the animation I created.
Looking back over these past three years at university I was always felt I wouldn’t enjoy it
as throughout my life I have not been a strong writer. I have learned that writing about something that actually interests me and that I can connect with my work makes it a lot easier.
I would just like to say a thank you to my constellation tutors for helping me discover this interest, finding context in my work and develop my writing skills.
For my final year on the illustration course, I wanted to pick a topic which would be challenging and hopefully create work which touches people and they can relate to. The topic in question is grief. Grief can be the loss of a relationship, the loss of a pet or the loss of a person. There are many different ways in which people grieve, for example in different cultures and religions. I want to focus mainly on the British way of grieving. Death is the unknown and can be feared as the afterlife is not really considered as is in other cultures. Death is a part of life and is completely normal but how has it gone from being something expected and talked about openly in early Britain to now as a topic avoided and hidden away. Something that everybody goes through but in your own personal grieving process you feel alone.
My starting approach was the find the cliche symbolism of death and grief (for example, ravens and an hourglass) and try to avoid getting comfortable with these; to create my own way to portray the feeling of grief. I researched some terminology about death such as ‘he’s had his chips’, ‘food for worms’, ‘fallen off their perch’ and ‘dust’. These show how the topic of death is avoided
I have thought about my own feelings from grieving. The feeling of numbness, crumpled, colour drained, wilting, weeping, falling apart and crumbling. From these metaphors I have created a few short, rough animations to try and dive into the visual language which I hope can express the feeling of grief. I will use my own personal experiences with death and grieving to try and draw some real, raw emotions into my visual langauge.
I would like the final outcome of this project to be a stop frame animation. I need to begin creating a narrative and storyboarding to see what works most effectively. When it comes to creating the animation I want to use a variety of mediums and materials. I plan for it to be a mixture of live footage, cut, collage, painted, drawn and 3D objects.
I would like the overall experience of the animation to be emotional as you see the character fall into their grief but to overall uplift as you see them climb out of their grief. I constantly see the shape of the stages of grief cycle. To me it resembles the journey; like falling into a hole and climbing out or walking into a river and drowning in the grief and finally climbing out at the other side.
Throughout this term audio and music have been widely thought about. It is a large part of any visual film/animation and depending on what sound is played with the footage can change the whole impression and feeling of the piece. Thinking about personal feelings through my own grief I can remember my mind blanked out and blurred the background noise and certain sounds strongly stood out, such as the loud whistle of a kettle boiling and taps running.
Alongside this I would like to create a small, hand stitched book; possibly screenprinted.