On Thursday the 11th of February me and my interdisciplinary project group including Joel Williams (Graphics Communicator), Adrian Miles (Ceramicist), Bethan Davies (Fine Artist), Charlotte Reddie (Fine Artist), Jodie Phillips (Fine Artist) and added to the group lovely Frances Gwilliam (Ceramicist) came together in the Illustration studio to start developing our 3D city following our plan.
Reminder of the project and plan:
In my group we are required to use one of the descriptions of a city from the book Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino provided to us by a tutor, as a basis of a collective visualisation to be formed within my group.
Our city extract was based on a city called ‘Valdrada’ described by Italo Calvino in the ‘Cities and Eyes’ reading.
The notes we made about the city:
- Intrusively watched all the time.
- Freedom of privacy not granted – reminded us very much of today’s surveillance through the cameras of our devices that we are attached too.
- A stalker vibe about it – quite frightening and unpleasant.
- Recording of actions within the homes – today through our devices.
- Visualise the city using mixed media. E.g. photography, illustration, collage, typography etc.
- The visualisation must fit onto a 1 metre format provided but can contain both 2D/3D elements.
- Break outside of the preconceptions of what a city currently looks like. Think big, think future, think what if…
- On Monday January 15th at 10:00am me and my group will present our collective visualisation and spend the remainder of the day making connections between the cities generated from the variety of other groups, in pursuit of the ideal city, if one could exist.
- We can extend outside of the Invisible City text using our experiences and perceptions of the world around us in developing cities of the future.
- Extend upon our research of both utopian and dystopian future cities. Can a utopian city exist without some level of dystopia and vice versa?
- Consider how could the four pillars of the Future Generations (Wales) Act i.e. improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales, play a part in your city?
- Use our cities visual language to begin developing visual metaphors that could relate to a tangible city of the future.
- A 3D visualisation of the city as an interactive installation hanged so that the viewer can see it from a bird’s eye view perspective in front of them. A webcam is to be placed above the installation directly recording the viewer which will then have themselves projected onto the Valdrada city. This will place the viewer into an experience of that lived by the imagined inhabitants and a reminder and perspective of the way how our own city is run raising an awareness of the surveillance and tracking through cameras today.
I made the suggestion that the city Valdrada’s verandas ‘one above the other’ stacks of houses should be composed of skeletal frameworks with the idea of using transparent and an exploratory range of perhaps recycled materials for the walls and floors to work with the ‘always being watched, even when you’re in your home’ setting. By building the houses in a normal aesthetic of concealing barriers of walls it suggests a safe place of privacy that desensitises us to the surveillance that is actually going on in this Valdrada city and our own.
This proposition will reflect what not only is our visualisation of the city described by Polo in the book but a clear representation and reflection of our own city today, which can be understood as a dystopian intrusion into our freedom of our every business being our own.
When it comes to the presentation I believe that we need to clarify and understanding of why our cities are running like this and suggest the positives to this that can be argued. Then conclude however how it is ultimately a dystopian matter put into place as consequence of the guaranteed criminal action.
Our Work from Thursday the 11th Feb:
- Collecting and recycling cardboard materials from the cafe of the art school and studios.
- Some of us brought in reusable containers for the houses of the city.
- We cut our base for the city from a large sheet of cardboard I was allowed to use from the illustration studio within the size restrictions of a 1 meter length format by half a meter width.
- Materials: Recycled cardboard, recycled containers, cello tape, masking tape, scalpels, scissors, craft knife and a cutting mat.
We simply enjoyed creating houses for our city of all shapes and sizes and we liked the prospect of making them quirky and interesting like houses from shanty towns linking to the city Valdrada’s verandas ‘one above the other’ stacks of houses as mentioned in the description of the ‘Valdrada’ city in the ‘Cities & Eyes’ extract by Italo Calvino.
After a discussion with the group we decided to use a projection of a piece of video footage of an eye to be projected onto the city looking all over the city. We liked this more intense and dynamic concept so we scrapped the initial plan of using a web cam to project the image of the viewers onto the city. This new idea was very big brother like and I remembered a seminar where a tutor mentioned how we are attracted to light and how it draws our attention to it greatly so I really think our piece will stand out when it comes to presenting the work.
This idea was much more of a stronger statement and clearer for the audience to interpret with the eye casted over the entire city creating that intense and dominating watchful atmosphere.
We planned that Francis who is unavailable until presentation day to create the eye video footage.
Work from Friday the 12th of February:
Me, Charlotte, Joel and Adrian where the members from the group who were able to attend the development on our project on this day.
After a discussion about the strength of our houses sharing our concerns for some of the houses fragility with our use of the cello tape securing the cardboard houses in shape we agreed on strengthening our cardboard houses using the paper mache technique. This will ensure our buildings are solid and sturdy structures knowing that we had a little amount of glue for the glue guns in the workshop available to us. We also thought about how the paper mache would give it a really nice interesting texture to the buildings. We agreed on using the resources we had available to us for the paper mache so we used toilet tissue from the bathrooms and the PVA from the illustration studio.
We also cut holes into the roofs as I suggested to look as purposeful interventions made to the privacy of the imagined citizens allowing us to see inside their homes suggesting that their is no place where they are unwatched by the surveillance of the government like our own reality we experience.
We also experimented with some playful collaborative compositions of our houses on the cardboard base and took some pictures for reference for when we later attach the houses to the base using a glue gun.
We agreed we didn’t need to worry about being precise with every house being stacked on top of another as mentioned in the extract as it made no difference. The piece is a clear dystopian statement of the city described and a reflection of our own city.
We agreed that I will get on with making some more additional houses I suggested that we needed for a more interesting busy and dense city for aesthetic purposes whilst the rest of the team Adrian, Joel and Charlotte crack on with the paper mache technique application to our cities quirky houses
Materials: Large paintbrushes, PVA, tub for glue, toilet tissue, water, scalpels, recycled cardboard, recycled containers, cutting mat and cello tape.
We planned for Adrian who was able to come in on the Saturday 13th of February to spray paint our paper mache houses in the silver paint we had chosen as the colour for the whole piece. We chose a silver paint to match the reflective conditions mentioned in the description of the city and because it’s a colour that also relates to the metal infrastructure resemblance of a city.
Work from Sunday the 14th of February:
On Sunday the 14th of February me and Joel worked on attaching the silver spray painted houses to the cardboard base and then spray painting the cardboard base to make the entire city the silver reflective colour we desired.
We did initially use glue guns to attach the houses to the base but they ran out of glue surprisingly quickly which meant we had to take a trip to Tesco to buy more adhesive. As there was no glue cartridges of the right size for the glue guns that we had, we improvised by using a different adhesive called a ‘EVO-STIK Grab Adhesive’ we bought which proved even better than the glue gun results.
I was really pleased with the texture of the buildings from the paper mache technique as it added to its eye catching and attractive aesthetic.
Work from Monday the 15th of February:
On Monday the 15th of February 2016 we were set a morning collaborative task in our initial group 3 class where we had to divide ourselves into thinkers and doers.
I knew that I was a thinker as I generate a vast amount of ideas with every project and I always put a lot of thought into reasoning the features of my work to empower its statement.
The doers and thinkers groups were divided into two separate glass rooms facing each other at the opposite ends of the room in the Cardiff school of art and design.
We as thinkers had to devise a plan for a visualisation based on the wellbeing of ourselves and the Future Generations using our discussed and selected positive words from the previous task last week including peace, environment, togetherness and optimism that we felt were particularly substantial in improving life on earth.
We then had to send one of our thinkers out to explain our plan to a selected doer individual who then had to pass on the instruction to the rest of the doer’s team. We on the other side of the room could then only use our body language and visual stimuli to direct the doer’s without further verbal communication.
We as the thinkers collectively formed a clock face symbolising our time on earth spent acting on these positive important doings with recognisable symbols to be located at the every quarter of the clock creating our all-encompassing goal for wellbeing considering ourselves and the future generations. I like how the clock face is circular reminding me of the shape of the world itself and how it can be a stand for now is the time to act on change.
The doers had the materials of pens and sticky notes to complete our directed visualisation. They were allowed to stick the sticky notes to the glass window of their room opposite us. We were also allowed to direct the team with our own sticky notes to put on the glass but we were soon told to take them down in our room as there was some ceramics on a shelf near the window and they were concerned about them falling and breaking. We instead improvised using body language and drawings that we drew on a page formed from sticky notes indicating the symbols we wanted at what place on the clock face.
I found this task enjoyable and surprisingly not that challenging at all. Our idea wasn’t too complicated and I liked how the doer’s applied their own interpretation with the bottom togetherness symbol being the number ’69’ which is quite funny instead of our idea of two people holding hands. It was a nice touch which we all approved of.
After lunch I and my project group including Joel Williams, Adrian Miles, Bethan Davies, Charlotte Reddie and Jodie Phillips set up our ‘City of Eyes’ visualisation 3D collective piece in preparation for our presentation. Our other member Frances Gwilliam who was unable to attend the presentation came in briefly and handed us the video eye footage to be used for the projection on our city.
We attached our 3D piece which had dried overnight and became a really firm and solid work using drawing pins that Joel attained for us. We put it at the height of eye level for that extra eye grabbing effect and as previously planned.
Installing our 3D Piece.
Setting up the Projector
All we had left to do is set up our projector that we were allowed to use from this studio by levelling the support platform for the projector at the right height for the projection to be positioned onto and in size of our city. We plugged the projector into a laptop which we then had the video footage on a USB provided to us by Frances Gwilliam ready and running on loop.
Video of our Successful and Complete Interdisciplinary City Project:
Jodie’s video of our collaborative project up close:
The presentation went really well and we turned down the lights in the room to emphasise the projection work. It was great how we all chipped in explaining the piece thoroughly and precisely. The tutors and students where very intrigued and loved the work and we effectively ignited a lot of input from our viewers in an interesting discussion stemmed from our presentation about our surveillance in our life being dystopian.
Work from Tuesday the 16th of February:
The final day of our interdisciplinary work was on Tuesday the 16th of February where we created an exhibition space displaying all our cities generated from the group 3 class facing each other in a circular space.
Firstly we were instructed to collaboratively in our project group formulate a Manifesto based on the facts we discussed about how our city is run to be placed beside our 3D city installation to give a clear explanation of what our piece is stating.
Secondly we worked as a class to reorganise the following words in an order of importance for the wellbeing of us and for future generations with the most important being placed on the highest plinth.
Words in order of importance: Social (highest), Environmental, Cultural, Economic (lowest).
We realised how important it is to be able to work together and collaborate which we need to do in order to make a global united difference. We must work together to protect the environment and culture which we then can agree to use the economy wisely which would aid change. We collectively agreed that social, environmental and cultural have much more value and power than the prospect of money.
We then were instructed to work within our project groups collaboratively to establish and explain how our city is run in consideration of these specific factors.
As the final task of this resourceful interdisciplinary experience we had to realise and devise connections using the provided strings on the plinths symbolising those specific terms between the descriptions we had written on our posted notes shown above or on the city installations themselves between the other cities that link. It was interesting to see the links between the cities as being similarly run.
From this task we learned mostly about what doesn’t work as a way of running a city. In every city that was created for the task they all had a quite a significant dystopian element.
What have I gained from this experience?
From this experience I have developed on my important and rewarding skills of team work. This experience has made me feel much more confident about working in a group and I have learnt that the best way to approach working with others and to enjoy yourself in this world of collaboration effectively is to have a balance of both leading (speaking) and following (listening).
I loved the insight I gain from working with others they provide me with surprising ideas that opens my mind to more possibilities than I would with working on my own. The outcome is always so much fun with collaborative work as it’s always a completely unexpected outcome with its development always excitingly navigating to new roads in making and changing concepts through discussion.
It’s the social aspect of working in a group that is particularly special to be a part of and although there can be uncomfortable clashes which I have experienced once in this project and another time in a subject project I know now simply who I’d want to work with next time. I now have links with many friendly, talented and as motivated people who I had the great opportunity to become acquainted with so that if I need their help with anything in the future I know who to call. My friends individual specialism outcomes, skills and knowledge offers me new creative mediums, techniques, ideas and inspiration to try and apply within my own practice to flourish, widen and excite my creative experiences and knowledge.