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.

Interim Examination Presentation

Yesterday was my interim examination. The aim is of course, to judge my work produced this past year, reflect on what I have learnt, themes emerging, strengths and weaknesses and what could happen next year.

The exam was in form of a panel of 3 tutors, the Head of the course, one senior tutor and my personal tutor.

So, this is my space at the RCA. I thought I should start with this as one of the good things of the RCA is the studios – and of course your space shows something about yourself.


This is for ‘Design Without’, the elective I had for the last 6 months, an intensive course of one-week projects. It helped me to ‘train’ my brain to come up quickly with ideas and resolve them in one week, engage with new concepts and new approaches to my work, explore further video and experiment other mediums as well, challenge myself and just try new things. With Design Without I have a better understanding of research and I’m now able to articulate ideas better and see what works and what it doesn’t.

Drawing by touching from Savvas Zinonos on Vimeo.

Drawing without touching: An experiment of the senses. The brief was asking to consider a desirable augmentation of one of the senses. Instead of enhancing one of the senses I decided to remove one – but in a way, when you remove one sense, the other senses enhance, so it worked. I blindfolded myself and asked my flatmate to hand me objects I’ve never seen. With this experiment I had a different understanding of the tactile sense, everything became texture and shape. Further questioning is how blind people visualise objects they have never seen.

The panel seemed interested in this and asked me if I just discovered something there or it exists ‘out there’ and what if I drew the same object after looking at it – a probable next step. I admitted that it probably exists out there but I haven’t explored it further because it was a one-week project.

This is my response for the FUSE project, which asked us to question the assumptions we make about typographic languages. I was interested to perform language/typography through a medium and see how this becomes choreographical. I’m also planning to bring more people in and see how they communicate.

I stated again that people seemed interested in the ones without the rubber bands but I found this problematic because the gestures are created because of the rubber band, so it probably doesn’t communicate what I want it to communicate.


A project I’m still experimenting with, the brief for this project was about coercion and how governments use consumerism to distract and manipulate the masses. I was interested in the language politicians use, how they ‘re-arrange’ and distort reality and present it to us as the truth. This reminds me the rubik’s cube. I’m looking at articles and quotes by politicians. For example in this video, the initial quote was “The continent is enjoying a very fortunate era” by the German finance minister.


This is again a project that has to do with politics. The brief was asking to re-map Europe and I came up with the idea to ‘re-map’ the myth of Europe. I continued the story and I made it to adapt in today’s Europe situation. I’m using the mechanism of tiles to reveal the real meaning of words – Asterio becomes Capitalism and so on.

_MG_0011 _MG_0013 _MG_0017

At my presentation I showed this mock-up as well, which is a long strip which can be places on a wal in a space for a spatial performance.



The mechanism for ‘Re-map’ Europe is actually inspired by this project, which was a collaboration between the V&A and the RCA. We were asked to respond on the theme of the future of the poster. My response was commenting on the nature of the poster – through the loop of future, present and past, it suggests the omnipresence of the poster as something being static, something that gives you information (the piece of paper you take, and the poster as something that has an expiry date and something that leaves in the street (throwing the paper on the floor).


This is for Visual Research, the mandatory drawing elective. I had a very strange idea of what VR was in the beginning and what it was trying to do, although at some point it became something that I can have a break from everything else and just produce stuff.

An animation exploring and questioning the nature of an object – ‘drawing with drawing pins’.


Drawings for a brief that had to with observing objects again – using the technique of frotage.


A brief for landscapes – I look at my bed sheets as an aerial photograph of a landscape


I’ve never spoken about the Cultural Interfaces project on my blog. This collaborative project with students from 3 different courses of RCA was sponsored by Blackberry, aiming at communities of London.

Our project was for Hackney Stream, a class of elders who learn how to use computers. We ran a couple of workshops with them and found out that the reason they go to Hackney Stream was to come together – and particularly at a Spotify workshop we noticed how many stories they have to say about music and their culture. So our brief was to bring these cultural, technological and social elements together using music and story telling. We wanted to make them start conversation between them and come together.



So we introduced a device that has three play lists, each one distinguished by a different colour, one private, one shared with friends and relatives and one shared with the rest of Hackney/the world. By shaking it, it skips a song, by tapping it on surface twice it likes a song, which later goes into a top 10 list of Hackney Stream with the most liked songs. It also has a recording button which records stories for Hackney Stream or to be shared with other people.

I never had to do collaborative work for such a long time and it was a very useful experience. I realised how everyone has a different role and the level of commitment you have to show to this if you want a really good outcome, because if one doesn’t turn up at the meetings and stuff, the whole thing goes bad.



They seemed interested in the work presented although they pointed out that it’s all unfinished, experimental work. I’m aware of this, and as my elective was all about one-week projects, I took advantage of that time to experiment with a lot of different stuff so I can take themes that emerged from these projects – such as language, interactivity, motion and probably performance – to take further in the second year.

‘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

‘Music for three colours and one Kazoo’ – in progress

It’s Tuesday, a few last hours before Wednesday’s crit.

Idea is there, and I’ve been working on it since last night. Unfortunately, I haven’t worked on any performances or public interventions as I would like to, although I’m still doing something funny and enjoyable.

To be honest I’ve been really lazy the last few days, since I was given this brief. I don’t want to say it was an easy brief, but as the brief seemed funny I thought I should leave the idea come randomly to me!


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RCA life began – ‘Design Without’ first meeting

I think I never mentioned it, but I am now at the Royal College of Art doing my MA in Visual Communication. And today was the introduction to the elective I chose, ‘Design Without’. ‘Leader’ of the elective is, known to many, Neville Brody, also Head of my course and the Dean of my Department. Design Without is about breaking down assumptions and ways of thinking about design, it’s about new processes, experimentation, boundaries and challenges. Design without any kind of boundaries or categorisations. It’s kinda demanding, as every week there’s a different project, with the exception of the first week, as I’m involved in one of the AcrossRCA projects, and particularly ‘Sound Space’. AcrossRCA is a bunch of multi-disciplinary projects, taking place in a week’s time, set by the college for all the students, without any department boundaries. I chose the sound space as it looked to me attractive – I would like to experiment with some sound! So I’m going to see what will happen with this next week! So, the students which are involved with AcrossRCA are allowed to deliver the first project of the Design Without elective in 2 weeks time, as the AcrossRCA projects take priority next week.

Randomly put here, a picture of my studio space as it looks right now I’m posting this, it’s still really empty, it doesn’t feel familiar to me yet, but it will in some time. There are people that the only thing that don’t do here is sleep. They have kettles and fridges and all this kind of things. I was actually ready yesterday to leave some stuff on the shelves you see in the picture, although it didn’t feel right, just yet.



Anyway that’s about my studio space.

And this is my new room in Catford, Lewisham (yeah that’s South East London, where none goes), which finished sorting out last night, after almost a month being here! I still have some stuff in boxes I need to organise but all the necessary things are done now (desk, bookcase etc).


So back to Design Without and the first meeting today at 10am..

Neville Brody expressed, for one more time, that graphic design nowadays is in the biggest stage of confusion, as design took many dimensions. He also mentioned that our goal is to somehow figure out or solve complexity and that’s why we need to be conscious, aware of what’s happening, use our senses, keep thinking and observing, check if there are any changes around and allow new thoughts and ways of thinking and also joint different things together.

Saying all these he eventually ended up to the project we have to do for this week, mentioning that everything is expressed in some form of language. Everything has something to say, everything has a meaning. How we ‘dress’ things is sometimes the way we avoid reality. The way we respond to a message is the way we present it. So the project asks to use found elements or existing spaces in 1 mile radius of the college that can be used as a form of language; the change of colour on a leaf, temperature, movement, certain kinds of sounds. Something that creates variable basics of a language. This foundings will be shared and discussed at the next meeting. He advised us to jump out of usual understanding of language, to talk without using conventional language and land with zero understanding of what language is. It has to be usable and to have a way of communicating. Ways of finding such ways of languages are by just walking around, emptying our mind, observing, understanding, questioning

Some general notes:

  • language is a framework, not the content
  • failure is an option!
  • project is not about a finished product – it’s about structural thinking, observation, to see the process of understanding what visual language is
  • don’t use something that has meaning (e.g. I’m hungry so I put this apple on the table to show I’m hungry)
  • dive in- don’t worry about the outcome


Yeah.. So.. All these things sound really inspiring, but I’m confused. I don’t really understand what we actually have to show. When I expressed this Neville was like ‘Good, if you’re confused, that’s positive!’. He also advised me either to worry too much or don’t worry at all. Again, it doesn’t make sense to me, well just yet.

For the time being I will just let my mind digest this and look at things that have to do with this subject. Like, try to research different types of visual language or watch ‘Order and Disorder’ episodes on BBC iPlayer. As the page describes the second episode ‘Information’: “Investigating the concept of information, Jim Al-Khalili learns that it is not just about human communication, it is woven very profoundly into the fabric of reality”. Interesting right?

Also, at the meeting we talked about the Dadaist method of Cut-ups and Fold-in, which I might post some more things later, I might also try it myself!

That’s for now, I might come up with some writing later on the day. For now, let’s feed the brain.