Here is my finished animation, or my 'still-moving image' which will be played on a continuous loop into my installation space.
The idea of 'The Still Moving Image' which I discussed at length in my final dissertation, came from the video artist, Bill Viola, who slows down his images to such an extent that the movement becomes an incredibly intense and intimate experience for an audience to watch. I was stuck for a while just using photography, which I feel is relevant to the ideas within my work in that a photograph represents a single moment in time, a snapshot, a fragment, and it feels poignant to look at photographs for precisely this reason, that it is a moment in time forever frozen and perfect within that single frame. To turn my work into an animation therefore didn't feel quite the right thing to do, until I looked into the work of Bill Viola and started thinking about a single instant in time as a memory replaying on a continuous loop, as 'persistent' memories often do.
So, with all this in mind, my 'still-moving' image plays on a continuous loop into my installation space. The image becomes the persistent memory of the character of the old sailor who is haunted by, or maybe comforted by, memories of the woman.
(This clip is also accompanied by sound, which may or may not be the final version depending on how much time I have left before the deadline!)
With the main build almost completed, I am impatiently jumping ahead to thinking about all the little details which could make my installation really special.
Over the last months of this project I have thought of the many ways that I might interpret my story to an audience, whether that be through the traditional book format, as a series of light boxes, or as an animation. I am also very strongly influenced by theatre and set design. Also, my images are all about light and layers. With this in mind, I have been giving a lot of thought about how my work is translating into this 3D space, and I have realised that what I am infact creating isn't just a 'stage set' on which the action takes place, but a 3D image or a large, fully immersive light box.
Of course, my primary source of light will be coming from the projection of my animation, but I felt that the absent character of the sailor should have a more central role even though he isn't physically inhabiting the space. So, I am giving him his own light which I will be hanging above his seat, just a little spotlight on a dimmer switch which I have created and made especially and which will highlight his space. Hopefully, this detail just gives an added dimension to the drama.
It has been an exciting couple of days in the exhibition space ...
Firstly, I decided that I wanted to 'plank' the sides of the boat, rather than use my original plan which was simply to use a single sheet of board rolled down the sides. I felt that this gave a more authentic feel of being on a wooden trawler, where the sides are planked and quite incredibly for a water-going vessel, gaps in the boards allow light in, which I though might be a nice aesthetic touch in the space. It wasn't that much more work and I thought it was worth it at this point. I have also been painting everything black as I've gone along, which is intended to be a base coat for the more interesting paint effects that I intend to splash about with later. Less optimistically, but a practical consideration, is that if I run out of time, the black still looks pretty good and once the boat is 'dressed' is an effective backdrop on its own.
Other problems I have been resolving are, firstly, the issue with the sound system, which I have done by wiring up some big speakers to my home stereo and trying out the sound inside the space. I still have to finalise my soundtrack, but I feel better now that the technology to play it is in place. And more importantly, I have tried and tested the positioning of the data projector which will project my animation into the space. Fortunately, it works really well and will still allow an audience to venture inside without disrupting the view, as I had initially planned. So, no last minute disasters there either, I hope.
The next step is to finish the roof at which point the build will be completely finished, leaving me around 7 full days to apply ageing effects and to play with the projection and the 'setting of the stage'.
Having spent what seemed like an eternity making ribs and beams out of cardboard whilst miserably listening to the drilling and hammering of the builders working in the rooms above, dust and asbestos falling on my head (!)I have finally and triumphantly managed to construct the frame for the boat. Made entirely out of cardboard, the beams were constructed from carefully planned and measured templates with the four sections welded together with my new favourite tool, The Mighty Glue Gun. It has turned out much better than I was anticipating really, having ditched my original plan to use hardboard, this construction is lightweight and easily moved around, but also very strong and sturdy once fixed in place. The beams are all held together using dowling and the whole thing, once put in place, holds its shape perfectly. In addition, to disguise the cardboard and give the frame even more strength, I have used a layer of paper mache and a top layer of PVA to give myself a good base on which to paint. There is a lot to do still, but I think that this part was probably (hopefully) the most tedious and from now on, exciting things are going to start happening.
So here I have my cover designs, laid out in indesign, complete with a rough idea of what the book cloth will look like down the left hand side. The circles will be 'cut-outs' to an image beneath the main one, which echos the image on the other side of the back-to-back format. Yes, I know it sounds complicated, but it isn't really.
I've chosen to keep my covers dark and dramatic, rather than use the gold which is predominant inside the book. I feel that this gives a nice contrast and it also echos the title page images which are in the more delicate gold. Also, I just like the way this looks as the cover and the atmosphere it suggests.
I'm really excited now to soon have these finished and to be able to share the finished story in its completed form.
So, on Monday work finally began in earnest on my installation. 'Man-Who-Can' Tim Edmonds put together what will be the floor, made out of reconstructed pallet wood, whilst I got busy making the 12 ribs and beams which will hold everything in place. By Friday all the beams and the floor were finished and had been moved into my show space where I was able to contemplate a few more details and begin to get a sense of how it will look when it's finished.
Time allowing, I am hoping to stain the floor a darker colour, and the ribs, which are made quite simply from double-walled cardboard from these guys http://www.kitepackaging.co.uk/ will be paper-mached, pasted, painted, stained and generally played around with until I hopefully achieve the aged and non-cardboardy look I created with the maquette. I am also working with the college technicians who have been assisting me in Tim's absence and I'm thinking ahead to the issues which will need resolving next week such as the placement of the projector and sound system.
There is a lot to do, but all being well, the installation should be built by next weekend which gives me just under two weeks to make it look authentic and convincing.
This weekend I am heading up to the real boat which has been my inspiration for this thing to record the sound effects for the soundtrack.
I am feeling energised, motivated, excited and ... oh yes ... just a teeny bit PANICKY!
This week I had a fantastic bookbinding session with Catrin Morgan, one of my tutors. It has long been my intention to bind 'Siren Vs Sailor' (working title!) as a back-to-back book, a device intended to highlight the duel-narrative of the story, but the construction of the book has given me a lot of problems which needed resolving along the way (difficulties with tracing paper, how to print, using french folds, reinforcing the perfect binding etc etc ... the list goes on ...) So, by the time it came to thinking about the cover, I was almost ready to bind it as two separate books and present them in a slipcase, which seemed infinitely easier, given that I have also chosen to use a hardback binding (you know, just because I wanted to give myself yet another challenge!)
Anyway, for the purposes of the session, I created a dummy book with which to experiment and with Catrin's help, figured out exactly how a back-to-back binding works. Here are the results and I'm very excited to finally have a clear idea of how this book is going to look.
My intention now is to use what is called a 'quarter-binding'. This means that I will be using book cloth on the spine and the rear with a printed image which will take up three-quarters of each of the covers. Don't worry ... It will all make sense very soon now!!!
I have now ordered some gorgeous book cloth in various colours and one or two other lovely bookbinding goodies from these people http://store.falkiners.com/store/ Have a look at their website if you are at all interested in bookbinding and paper. They have some beautiful things and the service is excellent.
Next step? Finalising the cover design ...
It's a fact: I definitely have a fear of bookbinding. The fear arises from the other fact. Which is that I love bookbinding. And I love my bookbinding to be absolutely perfect. Which isn't easy.
So, here I am, having spent a lot of time and investment selecting a beautiful paper and printing all the pages of my book at home, facing the task where it Could All Go Horribly Wrong.
So I have made a 'dummy' book to practice on (That's it there in the foreground of the photograph)and have spent the morning trimming (with an extra sharp scalpel blade) and gluing the spine. I now have two mocked-up book blocks with which to trial-run a cover.
In the background, clamped and glued, are 'The Real Things'. I have trimmed the spines on 'The Real Things' with an extra extra extra sharp scalpel blade, and it was still a very tricky and delicate manoeuvre which almost went badly wrong (I still have all my fingers, thankfully). I will now leave these to dry overnight.
Because the book is french-folded, it has to be 'perfect-bound', which means the spine edges are all loose individual sheets which have to be glued and secured together. The binding needs to be extra strong to make sure it holds, and because my paper is quite heavy, I am employing a couple of tricks to make it super-strength. I found some tips on various kinds of binding, including perfect-bound, on this excellent website: http://www.transientbooks.com/process.html
I especially like the inclusion of thread embedded into the spine which I intend to use myself.
Really can't wait to have this book finished now. With less than 1 month to go and a whole installation still to build, it will be nice to have all the 'sitting-at-my-desk' behind me, so I can get out there and have some fun with hammers and hacksaws (or whatever they're called) ... Ummmm ... Another steep learning curve coming up then ...
... I still have a book to finish ...
I decided a while ago that I wanted complete autonomy over my book. This means that I have written, illustrated, designed and printed it all myself. The writing and the illustrating was straightforward enough. After all, as a writer and an illustrator it is what I do!
When it came to designing, a 10 week course in Indesign gave me the technical ability, but learning the intricacies of graphic design was a little more tricky and fraught with bad decisions, mistakes, and dummy book after dummy book until I felt I had it right. I then went on to experiment with many different kinds of paper by running test prints on my Epson printer; again, many blind alleys and wasted ink until I achieved the look I wanted. In the end, I chose to print the book on Hahnenmuhle Photo-rag Book and Album, a lovely paper which gives an almost velvety texture to the prints and makes the colour of the images just sing.
Here then are a few of the printed pages, waiting to be bound ...
Printing the book at home was a fairly miserable job, I must admit, and I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but by doing everything myself I feel that I have learned some invaluable skills and given myself absolute control over my work, both now and for the future.
The next step then is to get these pages bound into 2 'book blocks' and from there I will be creating a hardback cover.
Work began this week on my exhibition space. Very exciting for me, but exceptionally boring for anyone watching, as I was basically, with the help of my mathematically-minded friend, working out the dimensions of the space and cutting out templates for the beams. Construction will hopefully begin in earnest next week.
In the meantime, I have a house full of double-walled cardboard sheets. I have probably over-ordered, but better to have too much than too little, and ... well ... one always needs packaging!
I've been having a bit of fun this week, building a maquette of what will (hopefully!) be the installation which houses my animation projection. It's amazing what you can do with a few packets of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and some masking tape! Seriously, this thing is made out of empty cereal packets. If only I could make the real thing out of cereal packets, but unfortunately, the real thing is going to be about 10 times bigger than this. And just incase you're trying to work out the scale in these pictures, that's my macbook sitting behind it with my animation on the screen.
Work on the actual installation will begin in the next couple of weeks. Now that I have a place in the exhibition space all measured up and earmarked for my work, it's all beginning to feel a bit too soon for comfort, and still lots to do ... like, for instance, sourcing the materials for this little endeavour! Fortunately, I have technical assistance on hand from boat-dweller and 'Man-Who-Can' Tim Edmonds, who will be on hand with, er ... hammers and stuff. I, of course, will be shouting instructions and waiting patiently with all the exciting things with which to make it look like the inside of a boat, as well as wrestling with the data projector and sound system. And if it all goes wrong, I can always shrink my audience down to size, Alice In Wonderland style.
As a bookmaker and as a booklover, I am always on the lookout for the ways in which artists and writers are re-creating the book format. With so many other forms of entertainment battling for the attention of an audience, there seems to be a huge question mark over the future of the book, but then when I stumble across something like this, I wonder what all the fuss is about. Surely books will never die when there are artists out there creating wonders such as this?
I've been spending quite a lot of time recently (in between writing essays) pacing the floor, drinking coffee, muttering, and generally feeling quite at a loss as to how I was going to tackle the animation side of my project work, putting it off, putting it off, procrastinating ... You know the drill ... Until finally I sat down at my computer one day and decided to have a go at the animation programme in photoshop. It seemed like the simplest option, so after googling 'How to animate in photoshop' for a few hours and making lots and lots of tiny little drawings, I eventually managed to string them all together to make about 5 seconds of footage.
Well, wow ... I sort of love it. Seeing my illustration come to life like this is quite fantastic ... So ... I guess I'll be lots and lots more tiny little drawings then ...
Also, being as I am now making films (a-hem) I now have a youtube channel!
I am happy ... that is, ECSTATIC, to report that I have finally finished the extended essay for the final module of my MA. Phew. With that in the bag I now have about seven weeks left to pull my practice into shape for the exhibition, so not much time to rest up then!
Curiously, I didn't find the writing of this essay as stressful as the presentation I had to deliver about 6 months ago, which was about the third of the length of this little beastie, so I am taking that as a good sign that I am now more intelligent than I used to be ... Or maybe I have just learned some stuff. Which is great.
Anyway, here it is, in all it's 6,167 word glory, should you be masochistic enough to wish to read it. Obviously, I think it is fascinating.
With the end of my MA in Illustration no longer a vague and dim light far off on the horizon, but a glaring mega-watt bulb glaring into my eyes and keeping me awake at night, I have decided to transfer my research journal from paper to blog.
The research journal has been an essential part of the course and of my development as an illustrator and artist. Sometimes it has been a bit of a pain having to keep on top of it, but mostly it has given me a great deal of insight into my work and the things which interest me, both in terms of my practice and my theoretical work.
Here are a few pages ...
After almost two years, I now have 7 books and a thorough record of my work as it has developed and all the artists, films, writers, animators and bookmakers who have inspired me along the way. It also contains my ramblings on life and my gripes and frustrations as I have struggled over the occasional hurdle.
This then, is the next stage ... To take that journal out of the privacy of my studio and my tutors' office and to put it out into the public domain where I can share what inspires me and show the things I am working on. It is a strange transition, and I will miss the comfort of pen and paper, but as I approach the end of the course, I realise how important it is for me to keep the discipline of researching and recording alive, and I have decided that this new, fresh approach is the way forward.
I hope all my posts won't be quite as dry as this one and I look forward to sharing my artistic world with you.
So ... Welcome to my blog!
I am a ...
... Teller of Tales. A Creator of Books. An Artist, Illustrator and A Boatbuilder. A Professional Daydreamer, Occasional Mermaid, and always The Eternal Optimist.