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.

Who do you want to be?

The new brief was set by Shane R J Walter from One Dot Zero. Essentially, it’s about self representation, how we present to the others, what we want to present and what we don’t. How much we want to them to see or not? Where?

“What you see is what you get”

‘Selfies’ was a reference for the brief – in today’s culture we present ourselves as we want them to be seen. Photography was perceived as something true, but nowadays is not that trustworthy in my opinion.

Face Substitution from Kyle McDonald on Vimeo.

Facial Puppetry from Jason Saragih on Vimeo.

So the brief in it’s official form was:

“Who do you want to be? (and who are you?)

From the first moment I got the brief I wanted to show a self-portrait, whatever that could be – perform my own self-portrait, in a way. So, I was thinking of really random and spontaneous stuff I do which I can’t really explain – like the other time when I was getting out of the class and came across with a really long staircase and I threw the bottle I was holding, just to see if I can reach the end of the staircase.

But how can I visualise spontaneity? How to plan something unplanned and random? How am I going to record it? Am I going to show it too fix? Frame it in a way that we really understand the act?

My outcome this week is again disappointing and nonsense as doesn’t say anything in particular – it’s just me going mad and throwing bottles (!). Here are the videos:

Spontaneous acts I from Savvas Zinonos on Vimeo.

Spontaneous acts II from Savvas Zinonos on Vimeo.

I feel I haven’t been critical enough about this (obviously) and I think that’s my main problem – I need to be aware of what I’m doing, ask questions and take the idea one step further.

When they asked me at the crit why I did it and what I’m trying to say I was struggling to find a reason and the only thing I said is that I repeated the act so I can understand the act, or make others understand it. But.. fail.

I actually had a second idea, which didn’t work well either. My idea was to have a performance which would lie between fiction and reality


The idea was to have a screen – a sheet of tracing paper, that is – on which I would project my self on it, which myself would be behind the screen and the audience would be in front of the screen. I wanted to play between fiction and reality so I wanted to have a camera/webcam/laptop camera filming me and projecting it on the screen at real time and film that was recorded a bit earlier. So it would swap between real-time video and recorded video with me doing the same thing the whole time, without the audience realising which one is real and what is not. Basically it’s like a projection of the projection etc. I know, you don’t get it, it gets so confusing that I’m lost too. Also, I worked from a quote which was “We assume that the self is an actual living thing, but it’s not. It’s a projection which our clever brains create in order to cheat ourselves from the reality of death” by Thandie Newton on TED.

My feedback was that working from a quote is limiting me and also the idea of playing with fiction and reality and projections is a familiar theme since the television was invented – I should find a more challenging way of presenting this.

Regarding the videos with the bottles I should challenge it more as well. Do I see this as a performance? What do I want people to understand from this? Is the next step to disrupt this act? By, maybe, dropping one bottle at a time since the whole place is filled with bottles?

For the time being, this is a project not well articulated which I hope I will revisit at some point later .. (?)

Time, space and the whole galaxy involved brief

The new brief has to do with time. Guest was inspirational John Fass from IED (Information Experience Design programme at RCA) and Phd Candidate at RCA – I think this was the first time our guest was from the RCA environment.

He started his presentation talking about Inuits in the North part of Canada, Nunavut, and talked about people living there – the passing of time must be different than ours. He then talked about Zeo and monitoring sleep, a phase that you normally don’t monitor or you monitor with a different way, with dreams that is. Sleep is indeed a complicated situation to measure, indeed. Zeo actually intends to make your sleeping behaviour better but how far does that get?

He later talked about his 3-month ‘Lifelogging’ project, using a Sensecam which takes a picture every 20 seconds. I found this interesting, as this would reveal a lot of things that you wouldn’t remember or ‘monitored’ by your own brain.

Resuming his presentation after our crit, he talked about an Inuit not remembering his children date of birth and how Inuits can measure time or navigate with sleep – how many sleeps it gets to go somewhere – or something like that, I don’t remember this exactly. This puts me in totally different way of measuring time, I mean, time in sleeps? I can hardly understand time measured in light..

Eight-hour monument:

How humans measure their everyday time. How would an alien or a more developed being measure a day?

Felix Baumgartner, the first man that broke the sound barrier by making a free fall from space to Earth:

Felix Baumgartner’s ‘Dream machine’ gives the interior sense of time, with eyes closed

And then the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) – quantum particles rotate at 99.99% of the speed of light, as we can’t go beyond that.

I can’t really explain in my words what this LHC thing does but I found something here in LHC’s website that gives me some exciting inside:

The LHC will allow scientists to probe deeper into the heart of matter and further back in time than has been possible using previous colliders.

Researchers think that the Universe originated in the Big Bang (an unimaginably violent explosion) and since then the Universe has been cooling down and becoming less energetic. Very early in the cooling process the matter and forces that make up our world ‘condensed’ out of this ball of energy.

The LHC will produce tiny patches of very high energy by colliding together atomic particles that are travelling at very high speed. The more energy produced in the collisions the further back we can look towards the very high energies that existed early in the evolution of the Universe. Collisions in the LHC will have up to 7x the energy of those produced in previous machines; recreating energies and conditions that existed billionths of a second after the start of the Big Bang.

And then Einstein’s theories about relativity and subjective time: some things feel that take longer that others. The 4th dimension: the space-time.

And the brief in the form of many questions:

What shape is time? Design a system or device that measures and represents time and space as one quantity. Is our time influenced by someone else talking to us? How do your own experiences and perspectives change time? Do you influence other people’s time? Is there atomic time? Body time? How fast are you travelling? (I’m probably still on my chair now but I’m moving through time). Think about shared experience of time and space. How do we measure time? (maybe a short research on that will give me inspiration. Measure conception of time? How us, as beings, measure time?

This whole thing has to do with personal interpretation of time of course, I’m not going to invent a whole new device. It’s a really interesting project that a week is only enough to touch on things! Maybe just by challenging my perception of time will give some answers.

Let’s see..

‘Music for 3 colours and 1 kazoo’ feedback

So this is my response for last week’s brief, that asked to do a sound piece with a kazoo.

Music for three colours and one kazoo from Savvas Zinonos on Vimeo.

As I have done with a previous project, I have this tendency to visualise sound, or use sound as part of an image. The simplest idea I had was to link a pitch of sound with a colour. So 3 colours, 3 vocal notes and then make music with these 3 notes. The feedback I got was overall constructive, people seemed they liked it (they laughed which it’s positive), but there are few things that could be done:

  • the three primary colours brings in complexed meanings
  • also the ink mixing in the beginning is such an overused thing that I should probably drop – the reason I’ve included it is to show the process
  • composition is probably missing something/ something is not explored enough. There’s a repetitive part in the footage I’ve used which shows that I was going back to the same tune just because I wanted to be safe – the actual reason I used that 2-3 times was to show there’s the slightest form of a system in the ‘music’ I created and I haven’t made it randomly
  • at some point it feels like the video it’s about the editing and not the actual content
  • videos could be over-layed instead of showing them in different frames. This way I could create different colours related to the sound I have!
  • I could also consider density of colour, making a form of a language, consider how sound passes through air or water or different kind of elements
  • consider the dispersion between sound and image and the duration of time, the composition
  • this could also be developed in a game or an interactive project which would allow people to make music related to the colour – there could be a bar that you could move from the blue jar to the yellow one (and all the in between colours) and it could create music – just a starting point idea