Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Heroin; The Velvet Underground.

I'm Gona Try... When asked to create a map based around the song 'Heroin' by The Velvet Underground, I pondered many things. I felt that a technical, mechanical or mathematical map would not be appropriate, and wondered whether a map which expressed emotion could be possible. Not a series of emotions presented in a formulaic way, but a map which actually expresses and evokes emotion. For this it was essential to look beyond the song, it wasn't enough to listen to the song itself (although this was important) but also to research the culture behind the song, the history, connotations, era, links, connections, feelings, lifestyles, movements, artists etc. Below is a map of what I felt were the most important connections; I began looking at Aspen magazine, a 3D multimedia magazine in a box. I found that issue 3 was designed and edited by Warhol and David Dalton. There appeared peices of art from the cultural gamut ( Litchenstein, Jasper Johns, DeKooning etc) aswell as quotes, ranting, ravings and various contributions from The Velvet Underground themselves....this became a priceless resource during the project and helped me gain a deeper understanding of the band. Credit where credits due, this website has managed to salvage the components from each issue and amazingly preserved them on this website. During the project I was amidst a moving image workshop, therefore a natural progression within my research was to look a Andy Warhol films... (torture a cliche), but I felt his presence and influence on the Velvet Underground could not be ignored. I found myself not looking at Warhol in the conventional 'mainstream' pop artist he is so often perceived as, but as an individual of his time, who had much influence on many people, and above all was authentic, which I admired. Some of the films I looked at; Beauty Number 2 Andy Warhol Eats Hamburger. Through Aspen, I also began looking at Dada cinema, in particular Hans Richter, as he had appeared within a later edition of the magazine, when a film reel of 'Rhythm 21' was included within the box... To summarise, I knew I somehow wanted to use the idea of 'bad cinema'; distortion, purposely out of focus, maybe black and white film, but ultimately experiment with processes to see if any suitable outcome came through, initially I wasn't concerned with fitting the work to the song, that would come later. A Two fork road. Like I said 'process' was my first point of call, so I began simply with a sketchbook page, which displayed the song lyrics and proceeded something like this; Process-photocopy-enlarge-repeat-photocopy-enlarge-repeat until page is all black or all white- photograph-contact sheet- shred- tape together shreds- put through reel to reel tape player- photograph-print-photocopy-enlarge-repeat- wet in bath- dry- make collages.....create animation; (video displayed at foot of page) Second Road; after various tutorials, I decided the idea of processes alone, was not ambitious enough, so as well as carrying on with that I decided to take a completely new approach to the idea of mapping. I decided that after listening to the song, that the words I , I'm, I'll are mentioned at moments of particular intensity, I decided to highlight these words in each verse. I then counted the words between each I, I'm, I'll etc, and noted this down. I have always loved the idea of found images, and for this project I thought it would be interesting to perhaps experiement with 'found' video/film. This brought me to a charity shop back home, which was rich with a vast video collection, at a budget price... and lucky for me it was 3 for 2. I decided that the number of words between each I, I'll or I'm, should correlate to the positioning of the videos on the shelf. (i.e) 'I...3 words later ...I'll' would mean 'First video...three videos later pick another video) This would give me some structure, but also a completely unexpected outcome, as I could never predict which videos would be where. Here is the original shelf format, red dots represent videos I chose. Below is also the final videos with numbers which represent words between I, I'll or I'm. Once I had all the videos, I counted the seconds between each I, I'm or I'll and this determined the length of each clip. The results were interesting as once second there would be Postman Pat and the next a war film. The whole video was the length of the song, plus a few more seconds, due to the interval between each verse, in total around 8 mins.
So I had at my disposal two very different sets of film. The next logical step seemed to be to try and combine the video map , with my 'processes' animation and see which outcome prevailed. When I watched both the animation and the 'Video Map,' I found there were certain sections and small details of each which I felt were more effective than others. I wanted to combine the small successful sections, happy accidents, unexpected outcomes etc, to make something more deliberate. So, having the starting point and aesthetic of the animation, and the 'Video Map' I began an editing process.
Neither the stop motion or the 'Video Map' contained the song, this was a deliberate decision, but at this stage of the project I felt that the presence of the song was now neccessary to tie the whole thing together. I chose to focus on the first verse alone, as this was long enough to fairly represent the aesthetic of both outcomes, but not so long that my audience were falling asleep.
Final Cut
To refer back to the start of this post, and my question 'Can a map be emotional?' I feel that somewhere along this journey, sometimes unintentionally but often through deliberate choices I have managed to create a 'map' (of sorts) which expresses emotion. When listening to the song 'Heroin' I felt that it portrayed the drug and it's effects, as a dependance, but also with fondness, almost like a love affair. I never wanted to express the negative connotations of the drug, but rather to try and express the meaning of the song, and try to express it in a positive way, not to endorse it (far from it), but to represent the mind set of the band and people around the band and the culture of the time. The piece shows some some beautifully sensitive scenes (courtesy of Disney) juxstaposed with scenes of conflict, battle, journeys, confusion and sometimes just absurdity; portraying a kind of love/hate relationship on wheels, which reacts to the song.
By no means do I claim to have set out to portray these ideas from the offset, but ultimately that is what I think of now when I retrospectively reflect on the project.
Although I have encountered difficulties, and traumatic problems throughout this project, I am glad that I chose moving image, as it has opened up a few more doors for me, and has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and take risks.(final video at foot of page)
Footage used throughout the whole project (Some elements may not have made the final cut)
Disclaimer: Clips, which have been taken from Videos are not my own work, I do not claim credit for them and a list of videos I have used is displayed below.

(In order of appearance)

The Story Keepers A.D 64: Sink or Swim/ Roar In The Night. ©1996

The greatest Story Ever Told. ©1965

Nursery Rhyme Time; 60 Favourite Children's Nursery Rhymes. ©1995

Noddy and the Naughty Tail. ©1992

We're Back; A Dinosaur's Story. ©1993

Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends. ©1991

Ice Age © 2002.

Postman Pat 2 ©1986

Showdown in Little Tokyo ©1991

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels © 1988

The Green Berets © 1968

Babylon 5 Volume 31 ©1996

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers; Classic Ranger edition © BVS International

Inspector Morse; Episode 2; The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn © 2003

Cyborg and Blood Sport starring Jean Claude Van Damme © 1987

Tarzan © Disney and Burroughs.

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone © unknown

Shrek © 2001

Edward Scissorhands © 1990.


(Andy Warhol Eats Hamburger)

Beauty No. 2- Andy Warhol

Hans Richter- Rhythm 21

Andy Warhol Documentary.

Things I Learned During the project

1. Use Final Cut NOT i Movie to import/export footage. 2. Always check composition frama rate matches 'RAM preveiw' Frame rate. 3. Get Gary's advice earlier. (to avoid blazing from red bull in early hours night before deadline) 4. 48 khz speed for audio 5. use songs from Final Cut not MP3. 6. generally just sort it, and stop having disasters night before deadline. 7. Buy food shopping/ don't eat rice left over from last year. 8. Never allow Lucas to influence drinking habits. 9. Don't auqire a second part-time job on deadline week. 10. Floss 11. get botox due to premature (stress related) aging process. 12. Don't even speak to me about the essay.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Lather Rinse Repeat.


-Jeremy Deller, Turner Prize Winner, 2004.
When Designers are asked the thought process behind their work, especially when put on the spot, many people, (including myself) can embark on a laborious monologue. During which, most listeners switch off and don't grasp the idea behind the work, rendering the critique pointless and boring. SO to make sure I was keeping on track and to simply explain my thought process I decided to summarise the most important/relevant connections I have made so far.(See Map Below)
-Mind Map NM

Friday, 6 November 2009

The Droppers neck.

What is Pop Art...?

BLACK MAP - Jasper Johns.

'I just made it like I make things. I really have nothing to say about it.'

— Johns

Often I ask the question of whether 'art critics' make art famous ( from Ruskin and the romantics to Grafik magazine today) rather than the artist themselves...It is clear that artists who become timeless are talented. right? or is that just what we have been told.

This example of 'Black Map' by Jasper Johns, is undoubtedly open to interpretation, Johns quotes; ' I just made it like I make things, I really have nothing to say about it.' This could be a deliberate act of ambiguity, or is it that the work really does have no meaning, and it's just kind of what he felt like doing at a particular time.

Here is a 'critical explanation' of the work

"Johns is one of the founders of the Pop Art movement. The term is loosely and often inaccurately applied in our urgency to understand by classifying, but the use of so commonplace a subject as a map emphasizes the popular image involved. The map, 44 inches high by 70 inches wide, is executed as a charcoal drawing except for the southeastern states that are done in black oils. It is necessary to look sharply to make out the names of these southern states. They seem condemned to anonymity as if their names were unspeakable.

The names of the other states are clearly identified, but executed in a variety of lettering styles that are different in size, form, placement, and shading, a characteristic of Johns' treatment of letters and numbers.

In the West, the faint form of a hand is seen, as though California has been touched by a divine hand — or perhaps a commentary on those who think this is so.

The drawing area is sensitively shaded and textured with painterly strokes that often seem calligraphic. In addition to the calligraphic effect, an Oriental feeling is created by Johns' use of variation in the shades of black reminiscent of the Sumi ink painters of China and Japan, who recognize eight distinct shades of black.

This master artist has created a work of intense interest."

After reading this, does that change our perception of the work, definately yes; from a canvas, which is ambiguous, to a clearer, more digestable piece of 'art'. BUT does this make us like the work more, or did we prefer not knowing..?

I reference this in terms of my own work, often a very simple and basic idea can generate intriguing and 'visually interesting results' and the power of ambiguity should not be overlooked. For example, I recently took part in a one day project where in a group I had to create a 'MAP' of various data.

This is a replica of our response;

Replica of 'Map'

When described as a 'map' this image is intriguing, but once you explain the concept behind the 'map'...does the loss of ambiguity create a loss of intrigue.?

The task of 'mapping' was based around 7 songs, and each group (total 14 including ourselves) had to guess which of our tutors chose which song. In the original you now can see a horizontal line going through the centre of the image, with numbers + and - above and below the line representing right and wrong answers, and the scale from left to right being worst-best. the vertical line in the centre represents our group.

Here is a replica of the original;

When we had to present out work to the rest of the year, I found that once the work was explained and people knew how it was done...they no longer liked it, the idea not being overly witty or clever, changed their perception of the work.

I felt that not everything must always be explained, much to my tutors distaste. I understand the importance of a great idea behind something... but sometimes it would be nice to keep that idea to ourselves and just enjoy the work without explanation. After all, when people see our work in everyday life, we're not always going to be there to explain it to them. The work must speak for itself.


Thursday, 5 November 2009


1. "...Writing was dead, movies were dead. Everybody sat like an unpeeled orange. But the music was so beautiful."
2. Phil Spector being made out to be some kind of aberration when he put out the best record ever made, "You've Lost that Lovin Feeling. We all made love to the music. And the word love was used and used and used in all the music. Over used, again and again, because that's where it was at... " 3. ....Have you ever listened to "You've Lost That Lovin Feeling, " where the girls are saying oohhhh and suddenly, naturally, just right, come in with "Baby, " against Bill Medley's building vocal line. Repetition. Every head in America must know the last three drum choruses of "Dawn" by the Four Seasons. Paradiddles. Repetition." Quotes from 'A view from the Bandstand' - John Cale (The Velvet Underground) From Issue 3 of Aspen Magazine. Designed by Andy Warhol and David Dalton. Published December 1966 by Roaring Fork Press, NYC. Link to Aspen Website;

Wednesday, 4 November 2009




Trapping, mapping, recording, distorting, obsessing, progressing, communicating.
A retrospective of my exploration of 'Sound/Communication' and 'Mapping' sometimes a combination of both. Just a reminder to expand, evolve and avoid repeating myself.

Sachsenhausen Remembered.
New Blog Entry;

Trapping Sound

Original Blog entry;

made speechless by own speech
Original Blog Entry;

Map of my body.
Original Blog Entry;

Stitched Communication
Original Blog Entry;

Braille VHS.
Original Blog Entry;

A sound map of 'The School of Art'
Original Blog entry;
...and here a couple of videos...