Ideas Marathon Day 5-The Hopscotch of Capitalism

Delayed post due to RCA Halloween party (and a horrible hangover)

My presentation for the Playground typology:

presentation

Playground. It helps children develop physical coordination, strength, flexibility as well as providing recreation and enjoyment, to explore and to recreate.

presentation2

For example sandbox, to construct and destroy the world in three dimensions

presentation3

I started interpreting the playground games different. For example seesaw

presentation4

could mean this
presentation5

Or balance
presentation6

or justice (Dike, Goddess of Justice)
presentation7

or this

presentation8

or this

presentation9or the merry-go-round could be associated
presentation10

with this

presentation11

the swing

presentation12

you know when someone is pushing you

presentation13

it’s like that friend in the government that is ‘pushing’ you to get a higher position, a promotion, without really deserving it

presentation14

So indeed children learn how the world works through the playground

I created a hopscotch:

photo-6The hopscotch is played by throwing a small stone on one of the numbers, you hop to the stone, you collect it and then you return. But the biggest challenge is your stone to reach the biggest number (number 7)  and hop back.

My hopscotch teaches people about the 7 new social classes of the Great Britain, as resulted from The Great British Class Survey by BBC. I asked 1-2 volunteers to play and then I revealed them what they got. They aimed for the biggest number as we everyone in society aims for the highest class. The red colour represents the economic capital each class owns, the yellow the social capital and the blue the cultural capital, according to Pierre Bourdieu’s theory which BBC’s results are based on.DSC_0259 DSC_0261 DSC_0262 DSC_0263 DSC_0264

photo-7

 

 

And this is the end of Ideas Marathon!

It was a good warm-up for the second year and I hope I will get as decisive I was the last week. Due to the short timescale of each project I had to be very systematic in order to present something at 4pm every day. Some of them were 6-hour outcomes which is very impressive. It was usually some brainstorming at night, research from morningish until lunchtime and then 2-3 hours producing. It was good to see myself in a position where I was setting deadlines to myself, even if it wasn’t the best idea I had until lunchtime, I had to go with it and make the most of it as I didn’t have much time to test it.

Weekend, a bit of relaxing.

Ideas Marathon Day 4

So… Prison!

Today I have arrived very late at college (blame southeastern) but around lunchtime I got together with a Greek girl from the group to merge our themes – hers was chicken coop, which in a way is a prison.

Thinking process: Alcatraz, crimes, psychological prison, prison bars, cigarettes (prisoners always smoke – they have nothing else to do, and always the visitors take them cigarettes), numbers or barcodes of prisoners, stanford experiment, forms of control, control of thought, limit of freedom (racism, sexism, ageism, poverty).

Trying to combine prison and chicken coop I remembered the torturing the British were doing to the Cypriot revolters in the 50′s which was hot boiled eggs under armpits, so my idea was to invent new tortures with eggs.

What kind of gifts the visitors could bring them?!

Regarding chicken coops and the whole things about free range – I heard that they actually place a picture with green landscapes on the door of the chicken coop to cheat them they’re outdoors.

We were going towards a ‘protest’ the chicken could do as a prisoner in the chicken coop.

So came up with this letter Jack the chicken would send to humans chickenchicken prison

 

IMG_5522 IMG_5524 IMG_5525

This was supposed to comment on the abuse of the animals, and actually Tyson Prisons in the text is Tyson Foods, the supplier of KFC and Colonel Sander the man who made KFC and the tortures mentioned in the text are tortures I found on the PETA website about what happens in Tyson Foods.

VIDEO HERE

This was a really fast outcome (a 2-hour one) but we tried to make it political and it actually started a conversation around ethical treatment for animals.

And my typology for tomorrow is playground, the last one!

Ideas Marathon Day 3

Today’s guest was Francis Brady a UAL graduate working with sounds, video, text and technology. One of the soundscapes he played to us today was this, a description of a staircase through the language of geometry as some kind of universal communication. He’s also making interactive narratives which I’m getting very much interested this last month, as part of my research.

So my typology for today was communal shower…! Here is my process/research/presentation. Before I have started my presentation I said that we’re all going to have a communal shower in that room, so I have given each one of them a wet tissue but I told them not to use it until the end

shower_Page_01This is the original communal shower

shower_Page_02

and this how communal baths were in ancient Greece and the Roman empire

shower_Page_03

In ancient Rome baths were a place not only for washing, but a place for socialising as well. Today, that our world has developed, and everyone got more private, everyone has their own shower or bath. But when people shower in communal showers today (at the gym, at the school etc) it’s becoming a bit awkward. So people are mocking each other, people have unexpected erections, people are insecure of being stripped down, people  try to not let their eyes look at something they shouldn’t look and so on.

shower_Page_04

Shower is also a way of distinguishing social classes, shower at night, after work, is associated with working class

shower_Page_05

Shower before work is associated with white collar workers, bankers etc

shower_Page_06

Shower also means a mass of small things falling or moving at the same time, overwhelm, overload. What kind of ‘showers’ do we need today, after all these showers of lies, propaganda, the information media shower us, what kind of communal showers should we create today? Knowledge showers? reality showers? Honesty showers? humanness showers?

shower_Page_07

and then I thought about Rene Magritte’s Golconde which looks like a shower of these suited men but then there’s the question, are they rising? are they falling? are they floating? And actually the artist questions reality and the monotony of business life, because he was dressed like on of these men and he was living in an urban space like this

shower_Page_08

I was mainly thinking of shower in an ironic way. What kind of ‘shampoo’ does each person use? and what does each person want to shower himself/herself from? for example the banker is showering guilt? the engineer is showering artificiality? the lawyer is showering lie?

shower_Page_09Pontius Pilate, which is an obvious association with washing, he washed his hands free of responsibility for the execution of an innocent man

 

shower_Page_10

and then catharsis in ancient greek drama as cleansing, the effect of tragedy on the audience, a metaphor used by Aristotle

 

shower_Page_11

So I’m finishing with a conclusion, a ritual and a question

 
IMG_2012 IMG_2013 IMG_2014 IMG_2015 IMG_2016 IMG_2017 IMG_2018 IMG_2019

Overall my presentation got some good feedback and everybody enjoyed it, I think I’m getting into interactive work – that’s a test probably, for my MA project.

The only thing is that, I wanted to get metaphorical responses from this project (I mean the things that I asked them to write on the tissues) instead I got back things like ‘Dirt’, ‘Chocolate’, ‘bacteria’ etc, only one was a metaphor which was ‘achievement’. I was expecting responses as in ‘shame’, ‘guilt’ etc but I should have probably made it clear in my presentation that I’m taking a metaphorical approach.

And tomorrow’s typology is prison! I’m actually a bit excited for this.

Ideas Marathon Day 2

So my spatial typology was hospital for today and I started thinking hospital as a strange, depressive place – I would like to subvert the idea of it or bring some happiness in it. What if hospitals had happiness emergency kits. I started thinking about what kind of objects being happiness to us.

I stumbled upon an article talking about the debate of materiality (gaining happiness from objects) vs experientialism  (gaining happiness from experience) and I agreedthat the experience makes you happier than the actual object. The article says that it is psychologically proven that being attached to an object is a sign of personality disorder, narcissism, social anxiety, dissatisfaction of life but experience is a lasting thing, could be shared, it can be lived and it’s more natural. Also shared experiences, like trips are sometimes memories of life.

So my aim was, instead of creating a tool kit full of objects of happiness, was to create something that by experiencing it, gives you pleasure or it has a distressful feeling. It could be placed in the waiting area of the hospital, next to each chair of the waiting room so that people who wait for bad news to have something distressful to keep them busy.

So I had these little ball things, which I don’t know how they’re called and I created a box which people can use to put their hands in and get a distressful experience.

photo 1-1 photo 2-1

And these are some reactions I got from people (at some point I’m saying something I don’t understand, please ignore):

People seemed intrigued by this idea, some people found it disgusting, some knew the material I’ve put inside but overall there was a positive response.

 

And for tomorrow I’ve got… Communal shower. That gets weirder.

Ideas Marathon day 1 (or zero)

So I signed up for  AcrossRCA for this year too. AcrossRCA is a week of interdisciplinary projects for the whole college. This year I signed up for ‘Ideas Marathon’, which is about representation of spatial concepts through any medium – photography, moving image, performance, dance, food, manifesto, ritual, installation, collage, narrative, poem etc etc. It could be anything.

The first day started with the description of the week and some references which could be found on Ideas Marathon blog and then each one of us talked about 3 images of our work (which we have sent from the night before). All of them had something interesting to present, although two projects I was really impressed by were the ones by Pauline Emond in Printmaking and Scot Kaplan in Sculpture (the AcrossRCA project I signed up this year has representation of 9 departments of the school).

Pauline brought to the session a ‘lamp stone’, which was basically a lamp made of stone, an intuitive action after looking at the lamp of her room for long time. The stone material actually represents the heavy thoughts she had about the lamp and she also had plans of making it in large scale too.

Scot Kaplan’s ‘Control Room’ is a room where the subject (Scot) is inside without the ability to look outside – there’s one way mirror which allows the outsider to view inside but not the insider to look outside – and lets the viewers to ask questions or request actions for the time of three minutes. The viewer basically has the total control of the subject and the whole project explores social behaviours. Scot said that 90% of the time he was asked to get naked or to answer to very personal questions, which reveals many things about the society we live in today. Links saying more about his work: 1 and 2

For my presentation I showed my Rubber band typeface, Drawing by touching and The future of the poster. People were more interested in the typeface, the sounds of it and the performance of the letterform. Also the Drawing by touching project raised questions such as ‘Would you flatten the objects so you can draw only the shape of it?’, ‘Would you speak while you were drawing to say what you experience at the time you touch the object?’, things I haven’t thought until now and I found them really positive comments. It was a good group to show my work to, as they all come from different departments and they have different things to say.

For the first day, I had to pick one space from a list of one hundred spaces and represent it in any medium. The rest of the week is essentially this, picking one word on one day and presenting your idea on the next day, and then at the end of the next day you pick another word etc.

Ideas Marathon- initial list of typologies

So have chosen the word ‘observatory’ for the first day. First of all I thought of observatory for galaxies/stars/sky. I remembered ‘Another Earth’ film which says the story of a girl winning a trip to the twin planet of Earth, but at the end of the story the film is about finding someone’s self and not about the life in another planet. At some point I left it there and went to wash my new trousers which was over dyed and I couldn’t mix it with the other clothes in the washing machine (how ridiculously they make trousers these days, just prints and paints who get damaged in so short time). As I washing it in the bath tub became all blue and when I unblocked the bath tub to leave the water to go down, I noticed that the soap with the blue water going down looked like a galaxy: the dark blue colour could be the sky, the bubbles of the soap could be the stars/planets etc.

It’s a shame I haven’t taken a video out of it but I’ve taken a picture before I unblocked the bath tub:

photo 2

Then I remembered of the coffees I make at the cafe I work for and the latte art that sometimes looks like a galaxy too with its bubbles. Then I remembered the theory of resemblance of Michel Foucault in his book ‘The order of things’ in which he talks about how our eyes or face or anything could be like the galaxy and basically humans as concepts are reflected everywhere in the universe. So my end point was to make a telescope that when you look into it, you actually look to yourself looking into it. I found it ironic and funny and even surprising to look into there in order to look at the universe but instead you look at someone’s eye staring at you and after 2-3 seconds you realise it’s you! And that’s the universe, you. My idea actually suggests that we should look to know ourselves and humans in general and later look at the whole universe.

Reference I got for my idea was James Turell and his spaces for ‘private view’ of the sky

 

So that’s that, and for the second space I’ve got is… hospital. One of the students had hospital for the first day and she was talking about the smell of the hospital then one of the tutors talked about the opposite smell which could be a bakery. Then I imagined walking into a bakery and instead of stepping into the pleasing atmosphere of a bakery, the shop is really silent, the sales assistants wear breathing safety masks and gloves and suddenly there’s an emergency: a croissant bleeding chocolate. Everyone is running, everyone’s alarmed to rescue it. ( I stopped there, because it seemed better to pay attention what the others were talking about than mind-travelling).

I might make another post for my idea tomorrow, it seems quite exciting.

So what about now…

Looking for a project brief

Things I’ve done since I came back to college was to research Fluxus, a movement recommended by my personal tutor Teal Triggs, because of my experimental work – like my cube for manipulating language which reminds of Fluxkit (below).

I found their experimental videos very interesting which are very much inspired by music:

or video pieces challenging the video frame, like the one that shows how much time is 10 feet of video tape

 

I have also looked at the book ‘Metaphors we live by’ by George Lakoff, in order to understand more metaphors, as I found my response to the ‘Re-map Europe’ brief last term one that I would like to take further. I like the idea of the myths used to embody the truth that is so unsaid today, especially in politics. I would like to look at more myths and how those translate into today’s situations.

Also I feel I should find a way to link that to themes found in my dissertation. Keywords:

  • multitasking
  • speed
  • efficiency
  • interaction
  • dialogue
  • single platform
  • hybridisation
  • scattered behaviour

What could be visualised with the mechanism of layered-tiles I used for ‘The Future of the poster’ and ‘Re-map Europe’ projects is the idea of hypertext, so much found in the Internet. We’re becoming so much used to it these days, reading a text then interrupting the reading to watch a video, then clicking on another link – all leading to mixed information from different platforms to our brains. How much can I question our reading habits and the development of the written word?

I’m actually lost somewhere in-between projects, should I go very creatively/expressively and continue my brief responses from Design Without (leading to a very poetic concept about myths etc) or base a new project on my dissertation for the sake of following a ‘strategy’ for my MA. The research is there, I feel I should use it to create something out of it, even if it’s not too much related to it.

Other questions I can explore, pulled out from my dissertation:

Are there any forms of evolving communication I can explore/create?

If languages are political, what kind of inputs should these new forms of communication include?

Should scripts/languages change after some period of time – on their own – depending on the dominant global language/the status quo/world beliefs/technology? Should we be slaves of technology? Is the designer needed?

Other RCA ‘stuff’

A new industry project came in by Hyundai I signed up for, initially it seems a branding project for the company, but as it seems the tutors (and we) want to go beyond the typical assumptions of what branding is, through some workshops and discussions.

Also me and two other students have sent a proposal for the student-led series of talks ‘Red Tape’ with the title ‘Maverick’, a proposal challenging what kind of ethics the contemporary Visual Communicator should have, meet those designers that broke the boundaries of the traditions of graphic design and the status quo, if they’re disrupting the industry and if their rebellious behaviours can have an impact on politics and culture. In a few words it suggests that you need to be a ‘maverick’ in order to bring change as the traditional protests don’t cause any change anymore. Also we expressed that we want to go beyond the First Things First Manifesto and conventional ways of design talks.

 

Other than these, I feel quite lost for now as a lot of things started happening at the same time but I haven’t got an idea how to start my self-initiated project, making me thinking that this year will be even more sleepless, with a Work in Progress show in January ahead.

Let’s see.

Catching up

It’s been a loooong while I haven’t written anything on this blog, because of the summer holidays (not really holidays), the dissertation and my trying to settle in the second year of my MA. Busy times.

Summer internship

First of all, I’ve spent my summer interning for Portland Design, a design agency focusing on signage and ‘telling stories’ in spaces. I’ve been there for three months full time, assisting senior designers in way finding/signage projects for Saint Pancras station and Sowwah Square in Abu Dhabi and an editorial design project for an estate development. As my first full time internship I have learnt quite a lot, essentially how an agency works, how the ‘real world’ works, as I haven’t had any experience prior to that. Processes, speed and generally how things are done, who to speak to (suppliers etc), how to deal with everything and so on.

Dissertation

Despite my summer internship on the weekdays I was working at the cafe I work for on the weekends (that makes 7 days work per week) that make impossible to work on my dissertation which I submitted in the beginning of October. Of course I have done a bit of holidays in Scotland for a week (yeah not the best place to go for summer holidays, but good enough for a broke postgraduate student). The picture below shows one of the things I’ve done (climbing mountains, meeting friends, having massive burgers etc).Screen shot 2013-09-08 at 00.22.57

 

So having spent the first week of September in Scotland I had 3 intensive weeks to finish my dissertation (after the 5000 words draft I submitted in May) which had to reach 10000 words (the minimum was 6000 although that number wasn’t enough for what I wanted to say). Other than seating on a chair in my room my activities were limited to going to work, going to the supermarket and a bit of jogging for a break. Fun!

So a bit about my dissertation to begin the year with:

Since my Bachelor studies I was interested in the idiosyncratic uses of language as a result of the Internet and two of my case studies were ‘Greeklish’ (Latinised Greek) and Latinised Arabic. As a start I looked at ‘The Shallows’, a book by Nicholas Carr talking about how the Internet is rewiring our brains and observing Internet behaviours that we all have today: multitasking, scattered brain/behaviours, skim and scan reading habits, short attention span – all results of the nature of the Internet as a fast tool delivering stimulus to the brain from 34765890 sources. This is not new as Nietzsche one said that “our writing instruments contribute to our thoughts” when he started using a typewriter, which is very much true.

When computers were invented they were only supporting ASCII characters based on the English language (guess what, because it was invented in the Americas?) and this had a negative impact to non-Latin alphabets: they had to invent a new way of communicating via email, by adopting the Latin alphabet to represent the sounds in their own language, hence the ‘birth’ of ‘Greeklish’ and so on (from the merge of the words Greek and English).

Although the technological factor is new to the change of languages, the history tells us that languages are rather political: English is the dominant language because of the imperialism, the industrial revolution and the rise of the USA as the world power. The English is viewed as a ‘cultural capital’ (Bourdieu), the ‘road’ to the ‘global village’ and worldwide opportunities, to international business. The majority of the users of Latinised versions of non-Latin scripts are English learners that found as a solution to use a single platform to speak both in English and their language as English words are part of their everyday discussions.

These Latinised versions of scripts are strangely showed as ‘cool’ by those young people, presenting it as the ‘Internet code’ or a ‘youth language’ just as much text speak (abbreviated words) was the ‘cool’ thing to use with the overuse of the mobile phones. This is proved by one of the editors of Arabic magazines written in Latinised Arabic when asked by a researcher what it would change if it was written in normal Arabic when she asked back “But what would it be special about the magazine then?” suggesting that it could be just another Arabic magazine, therefore suggesting ‘boring’ Arabic magazine and xenophilia, brainwashed by westernisation.

In the case of ‘Greeklish’ (Latinised Greek) there’s a historical background -it’s been used by Greek traders (ethnically non-Greek) and in areas under Venetian rule in the 19th century in Greece. Then the problem was merely political now the problem is also technological. In the case of ‘Greeklish’ though there has been an official response, that of the Athens Academy, which released a letter to preserve the language as the paramount symbol of the Greek civilisation.

My observation is that the Latinisation of the scripts happens because of efficiency and productivity as young people are all learners of the English language and they want a single ‘platform’ to communicate both in their language and in English, leading to at some point to a form of hybridisation of two scripts, then to a homogenisation of the world to one single script and to ‘localisation’, a concept translated that something local adopts useful elements from the ‘global’ which this blend later becomes popular enough to be distributed to the ‘global’ again, the more positive concept in comparison to the other two – a good example for glocalisation is McDonald’s (global business) in Greece and Cyprus serving ‘Greek Mac’ (a McDonald’s version of greek gyros) which later became popular in other countries with the result for those countries to meet the greek gyros (but in a bad way of course).

It would have been a shame not to include design responses to this, so first of all I included Saad Abulhab, a type designer making simplified Arabic fonts, which consist of separate letters than traditional continuous lettering, with no alternative glyphs (the letters in Arabic change in relation to the others, so every letter has 4 alternative forms) and can be written from left to right. This obviously makes it able for mass production and adopts elements from the Latin alphabet. He also states that by doing this he doesn’t completely override the Arabic script with the Latin one although he’s taking away the calligraphic identity of the Arabic script.

On the other hand, in the 90′s when programmers started developing digital type formats to support alternative characters for Arabic, the Latin-based type designers embraced this with new digital calligraphic fonts, escaping the norm of ‘form follows function’ and going back to more expressive solutions (example) contradicting to what Abulhab is trying to do.

Another interesting approach is that of the project ‘Typographic Matchmaking in the City’ by Khatt Foundation, bringing Dutch and Arab type designers to create bi-lingual fonts for public spaces with the challenge to make them harmonious in both scripts. This allows for interaction and a dialogue between the designers.

The example of Turkish is a good reference, as there’s a break between Ottoman Turkish and Modern Turkish: Ottoman Turkish was written with a version of a Perso-Arabic script, with word loans from Arabic and Persian. After the reform of Kemal Ataturk with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the turkish language was latinised because it was representing better the turkish sounds, it was easier for the mass amount of illiterates of the country to learn turkish but also because the president wanted to bring Turkey closer to the West, as he viewed the Latin alphabet as the modern, secular way to do it (he also dropped all the Perso-Arabic loans and replaced them with turkish words). This is a danger for the continuity of a culture as many artefacts probably have been left intentionally not transliterated to Modern Turkish, for the next generations, as they weren’t presenting views the modernisation wanted to promote, leading to the alteration of the history.

My last example was that of a Cypriot graphic designer making a project which adds new letters to the greek alphabet with the intention to represent the sounds of the cypriot greek dialect, a dialect used for everyday conversation but not for official uses. Although with the rise of the mobile phones and the online communication the cypriot dialect has seen a rise in the written form as of course online communication is mainly informal and of everyday use. There are poems in cypriot written in the greek script although they don’t represent exactly the cypriot sounds (for example the sound ‘sh’ as in ‘shower’ cannot be represented with the greek script, but it exists in the local spoken dialect of cyprus). With the lack of support of the Greek script in the early years of the computer, this actually had some positive element: the Latin script represents better the cypriot sounds, although the conservative views of the cypriot population would never lead into Latinisation if it ever comes to the cypriot dialect to be established as the official language of Cyprus (some additional insights, turkish cypriots before the Turkish invasion in 1974 and the current situation of the country illegally divided in two, were also speaking the cypriot dialect, although the new generations of turkish cypriots do not speak it). Her project finds a solution between Latinisation and the conservative views on language by altering the greek alphabet so that it doesn’t break the continuity and the origin of it.

My conclusion doesn’t say anything spectacular, I’m although stating that we should learn how to control the speed the Internet is so making us seek for, which is reflected in the Latinised scripts as the ‘efficient’ solution. We shouldn’t leave technology and specifically the Internet to homogenise the world, we should use the Internet to question and challenge our scripts in order to find something new by interacting, exchanging knowledge and a dialogue between scripts and languages and allowing coexistence and collaboration, leading to redefinition of our scripts.