Visual Research Presentation Summary

I never posted anything about Visual Research! Visual Research is a drawing elective that everyone should take at some point during the first Year at RCA in Visual Communication. The course aims experimentation through expanded practices of drawing. At the beginning I was going a bit against it, as I didn’t want to do it or I couldn’t find the reason why. But later on, I found this as a way to have a play and habe a break from my Design Without brief, as sometimes they turned me down and they made feel discouraged.

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Body Electric:

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Above, drawing from the brief ‘Body electric’. The brief was asking to make figurative drawings in movement.

‘Drawing with drawing pins’ from Savvas Zinonos on Vimeo.

I posted about this again, this is the outcome of a brief set by Max Hattler. Abstraction of an object or a place.

Mundane Object:

A continuation, really from the animation project. Documenting an object and moving away to the ‘invented’ and ‘imagined’.


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Frotages of masking tape and a mug

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Frotages of a bulldog clip

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And… pins again!

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Pattern made out of pins

The roots of subjectivity:

This brief asked us to choose a figurative image we connect to/like etc and analyse it, define what elements we like about it and why. This aims to make us realise why we make stuff by intuition and use this intuition.

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A photograph I like by Sally Mann. The form of the background and the expressive face, hair and closed eyes of the girl are two contrasting things it attracts me. Also the cropping of the image.

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A brief about landscape/place and appropriation.

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The two top ones are sketches from Henry Cartier’s photographs. The bottom left is a picture on a card I keep on my wall, I assume is from a street from Italy. The bottom right one is a picture I took in my hometown Limassol, on a dock. There was a man standing so stiff and still looking to the horizon just like an army gesture, waiting for orders or something to happen.

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Later, I found interest in two pictures I took of my bed sheets, which looked like landscape from the air. I started making quick sketches which later lead me to creating a film:

Landscapes from Savvas Zinonos on Vimeo.



Remap Europe

AN H BOMB IN PATAGONIA. Remapping Europe. Royal College of Art. Lecture-brief 6.3.2013 from Federico Vladimir on Vimeo.

The new brief, with the work of the guest can be found in the video above. The guest this time was a student currently studying at the RCA in the second year. The video talks about natives and paleolithic stories, changing the narrative, myths, parallelisms, echoes, fictionalising what hasn’t been documented, changing the play without changing the power rules.

The new brief: “Re-map Europe”

  • maps embody power relations
  • it’s social and political
  • the cartographer has scientific skills, although he doesn’t own the truth
  • maps still say the 19th century territorial story-telling
  • European narrative is not as simple and linear as it seems, it’s changing
  • the citizen, the voter have active roles
  • a map can be drawn on a wall and can be considered as a work of art, a political action, or meditation
  • don’t stick to an image
  • a map is all about performance
  • design a map that invites the reader to perform an action, to move, to look for adventure
  • new narratives – new maps
  • old narratives are falling down
  • it’s about failing

I like the idea of creating out of failure, as Europe is collapsing these days, by creating new narratives or reconsidering the language we use it creates a new insights/perspectives.

Some notes from ‘The Shallows’ by Nicholas Carr:

  • mapmaking skills are parallel to our maturity/ growing up: from egocentric/sensory perception to adult’s more abstract and objective analysis of experience (Carr, p.40)
  • maps used to represent ideas- not only stores and transmits information but also embodies a particular mode of seeing and thinking.
  • the technology of the map gave to man a new and more comprehending mind, better able to understand the unseen forces that shape his surroundings and his existence (Carr, p.41)

Well, the first insights I took forward was that

  • Europe is falling apart these days, it’s failing. 
  • stories and myths were the medium to refer to places/mapmaking.
  • there’s a division between North and South Europe

Random and stupid first ideas I had/references

  • Chinese could adopt all the Europeans (because they’re getting poor)
  • Demolish the whole Europe and rebuild it again – from destruction blooming emerges  again
  • get some international yellow pages and call one person from each European country. Ask them something. Collect responses. For example, what shape do you feel Europe is today?!
  • Baldessari’s ‘California Map Project’ (1969), which he put all the letters from the map on the actual places
  • give South Europe the wealth the North has, and give the North some of the sun the South has
  • Give countries the land they deserve depending on their debt! So if your country want a bigger land they have to decrease their debt.
  • Re-map Europe. The mythical Europe as mentioned in Ancient Greek mythology.
  • Europe is full of metaphors, stories and myths. Use that. Recreate Europe through people’s stories.

Europe as illustrated on mosaics and art

Europe as illustrate on the Greek and Cypriot €2 coin

I really liked the myth idea and I took it on board. The Europe myth goes like this:

Europe was the daughter of Aginor and Telephassa. When she was young she had a dream: she saw two women, named West and East, having an argument which is going to take her. West eventually won. Some years later, on a day when she and her friends were picking flowers in the sun, Zeus saw her and he was immediately seduced by her. He then transformed into a white bull, and approached her very calmly. Europe was cheated by the bull’s beauty and calm, she stroked it’s back, put flowers on him and then sat on his back. The bull then took this opportunity and made a massive jump into the Aegean sea and landed in Crete. When they landed there, the bull went up to the sky and the well know Taurus zodiac was formed. Zeus then took his normal form and expressed his love for Europe: “accept my love and you will give birth to sons that will rule all the people. From you, a big part of the universe will take your name”. Europe accepted and they had three sons who later became kings: Sarpidonas, Radamanthis and Minoas, who later became the king of Crete. Zeus later married her with King of Crete, Asterio. Zeus gave great presents to her, the most important of them was giving her a continent, Europe as we know it today.

There are many versions but I decided to keep this. I wanted to recreate/continue the myth so it relates to reality. But then just presenting the text it won’t be very interesting. With text work I feel you need to find a way that really engages the reader. Also, the brief was asking to create a map which invites the reader to perform an action, to respond.

The solution was to perform the story by revealing the reality behind each metaphor.


Here I’m analysing the original myth and trying to use different elements of the story as metaphors for Europe’s reality today. On the left elements from the original story, on the right what they can represent in reality today


Creating the new story

The idea was to create layers of text and while I’m telling the story I will be ripping a piece of paper and the real word behind the metaphor will be revealed. For example, Europe had many kids with Asterio – at that point I rip the page and the word ‘Capitalism’ appears in the place of the word ‘Asterio’.

Here are all the layers:

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How it looked at my crit:

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Unfortunately I got very nervous at the time I was performing my piece and screwed it up – my performance was particularly considered as “rubbish” from Neville! I was aware of it as I printed out the whole thing in the morning and didn’t have time for it. I also give preconceptions before presenting, for example: “it’s gonna be boring” etc – all because of my lack of confidence which ruins all my projects.

Other than the performance people really liked the idea and they said I should maybe embrace this messy character of my performance – I could shout the story while aggressively ripping off the paper, something that would suggest the crisis-like seek of truth behind the ‘big’ words.

More feedback:

  • maps as story telling and myths is a good way of presenting this
  • explore alternative mechanisms of presenting this
  • the aspect of revealing attracted people to it
  • maybe the text could be written on object (cubes or long triangular shapes) which I can flip
  • it could also be a line of text on the wall – walking, telling the story and ripping
  • maybe start with the original myth, create several myths for different other eras of Europe and then lead to the last one, the one I created for today’s reality


A new punctuation mark

The brief we had for last Wednesday was set by Jonathan Barnbrook, which asked us to create a new punctuation mark for the English language.

The punctuation mark would express an idea or ideology. It can be experimental, serious or humorous. Examples given:

Punctuation mark could express:

  • the feeling of ‘believing in nothing’
  • the idea of the text is part of ‘information overload’
  • commercial text ‘would you like fries with that?’
  • ambivalence, feeling two opposite things at once
  • a pause which has more meaning and truth than the words around it

He also encouraged us to think about:

  • consider how punctuation is used, the new mark will have to be simple, work big and small and in one colour.
  • think about the uses of typefaces and language, things like texting and email have changed the way we see and write language.
  • if it is appropriate or you are feeling particularly eager, you can do more than one punctuation mark.
  • this project sounds quite heavy but it can be taken as lightly or as seriously as you want.
  • choose your subject matter within a specified time limit, otherwise you can spend ages worrying which area to follow.
  • should this punctuation mark have some time factor involved or be completely static. your idea should shape the way it is to be presented.

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First of all punctuation is only seen in writing, it’s something that structures speech but is not actually seen when we speak. It creates a relationship between two sentences.

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It’s also visible that each punctuation mark evolved as some kind of a symbol. For example the full stop for me represents a cycle, like when a sentence finishes, a cycle, a circle finished, hence the shape of it.

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With the question mark, the mark evolved from the word question itself

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Looking at punctuation marks I remembered the Greek polytonic system and how much I hated Ancient Greek at school. SOOO many punctuation marks, too many things to remember. I actually tried to refresh my memory and see if I can learn it now, and surprisingly I could understand it better now. Also the punctuation marks made sense in Ancient Greek when specific letters had different lengths of speech or a slightly different pronunciation.

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Also, the greek question mark is the english semi colon, and an upper-full stop is the semicolon for greek.

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Punctuation marks should be really easy to write, and as I observed they have to be maximum 2 movements of handwriting, otherwise it becomes a smiley or a symbol.

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Talking about movements, I relate to music and different accents and symbols used to ‘colour’ the melody. for example the thick dash you see above means pause, and the dot with the line above means ‘in continuation’, so in a way, if that could be applied to a text can be translated as ‘shut up’! (the picture is something I found on the internet but I thought I should include this as it was very funny).

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There are many people that already created new punctuation marks, and there are some that already exist in the english language! For example on the left of the picture above, everything except the small reversed question mark (which means irony) already exists in the english language.

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These are some punctuation marks the poet Herve Bazin created, from left to right is Acclamation, Certainty, Doubt, Love.

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So what my punctuation mark could be? I started thinking about political and social use of punctuation marks, how can something protect the reader from political statements or brainwash?

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In today’s life themes going around are the ones I stated above, well in my opinion, that need to be expressed in punctuation marks.

I remembered this speech by Charlie Chaplin and how powerful this is, maybe it seems to me like that because I never saw him talking, and when he talked he said such meaningful things.

Of course later the next step was to look at V for Vendetta and his revolutionary speech.

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I started analysing these two speeches and how to make a punctuation mark showing empowerment. The fist was a visual I started picking out. Also a mark was needed to show that something is a statement.

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I started playing around with these ideas and being scared of creating a punctuation mark that doesn’t look like one, I sticked to the dot. First I started seeing empowerment in the means of a bigger  dot above the normal fullstop. Then a bolder fullstop for sentences that make a statement. Hm, these need development.

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I suddenly jumped from there and thought about ignorance. Ignorant to change the system etc. I related ignorance to sleep and the repeated z’s for indicating sleep in graphic novels.  So adopted it to make a punctuation mark for ignorance. Obviously it needs some more development, but this is a starting point.

My feedback was positive on the research I’ve done for the revolutionary speech and I was encouraged to take that further – I’m always interested in language anyway.


Also, it’s the first time I’ve done a presentation for my project, I always take the final outcome or mock-ups and stuff, without putting them into a structure. Maybe it’s an intuitive sign that I’m getting back to being neat again, as one of my goals for RCA was to get dirty (maybe unorganised too) and very experimental.

Future of the poster

V&A was organising a conference/symposium about the future of the poster on the 1st of March. In addition to the conference, the V&A asked from RCA Communication students to respond to the theme and present some work in the evening. A week before the event we had a workshop, starting with a discussion about the future of the poster/what the poster is. People talked about the poster being something static, something you pass by but the information stay with you, something that has an expiry date, something you throw away, something that is in the street.

After the discussion we were encouraged to respond to this whole idea of the ‘future’ of the poster. It didn’t have to invent the future poster, we could also comment on it. We had to show our response to the brief through the design of the poster that would actually promote the event!

My response came after thinking about the debates during the discussion going on about if the poster will be a moving one or not, I was thinking how it is now, and if it’s gonna be a moving one, what’s the poster after the moving one. But should it move? The poster has to be static. My response was quiet simple and can be seen here:

Later at the presentation, they liked what they’ve seen and the whole interaction, especially the end of it, with only the word ‘poster’ on it. I was encouraged to develop it further and after some chats about it, the idea of a tiled poster came up, tearing pages and revealing the words future, present and past.

After going through hundreds of fonts ( I ended up with Avenir), and making a decision to stay simple (as usual) and use coloured paper, I made an A4 mock up to see how it looks (the final would be A0)

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The words appearing make a very interesting visual and also the tiles work better as the whole poster is interactive and not just a part of it as it was for the initial idea. I wasn’t sure about the colours but later on I realised that colours would help users to form the words and read them. Also being just type on white background the whole thing would be about the text and it wouldn’t look like a poster.

I liked the idea of the tiled poster pointing out properties of the poster like: being static, giving you something, something you throw away (the tiles could be thrown on the floor). Although, the A0 poster would be made up with A4 tiles, the A4 size is not a poster size. How to make that relate to the poster again? After some chatting about it again, the idea of putting dates on them came up. So the layers with ‘the future of the poster’ would have the next day’s date of the event written on it, the ‘present of the poster’ would have the event’s day date written and the ‘past of the future’ would have  the previous date of the event on it – so it can comment again on the expiry of the poster. I didn’t do it in the end as it already gave too many messages out and I wanted to keep it simple.

So here are some photographs from making the final:

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720 A4 sheets were needed (45 layers of 16 tiles)

And pictures from the event:

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