Wednesday, 23 March 2011

What does a Storylook like? : part II

A short delay for my follow up about The Story 2011 - I just like to leave you hanging...

To start from the beginning, click here. And if you're a start in the middle kind of person read on, that's cool...but you might be missing something good!
Basically I took part in a one day conference where top speakers presented what they believe makes up a story.

Nick Ryan specialises in sound design and he introduced us to his now successful, audio game "Papa Sangre". I actually wrote a piece about it here, but it was great to hear the thinking behind it in full. Nick explained how by setting the scence & immersing players in a room of complete darkness, the sounds played to them allow them to visualise in their minds their own story. The senses are heightened once you remove sight, and the experience powerfully dramatic .

He also made an interesting point how we, from a very early age, associate different sounds with visuals automatically i.e like being shown in a picture book a cow and being told it makes the sound 'moo'. This in a similar way narrows our imagination of what sound can be, in the same way that adults become stifled by education, and are less imaginative than children. So similar sounds & effects are often used in film for instance as familiarity sets the scene for us.

Next up Lucy Kimbell took us through her personal project where she collected & documented the results of a questionnaire she sent to friends and colleagues, asking "What am I Worth?' It was interesting how obedient people were when asked to fill out a form, answering often personal questions about a person, that you may hesitate to do in person. She then created a complete audit of the results, and created "Lucy's Index" (or LIX), turning her own feelings and actions into measurable factors. The website then portrayed her as a commodity to float on the stock exchange, providing a daily figure based on factors affecting her that day. It was a fascinating approach to data, especially how we are obsessed with updating out status' and moods on social media sites. This project was done before sites like Klout and Datum, but it really does makes you question how much of your 'worth' you want to disclose to the world.

Mary Hamilton completely lightened the tone by shooting foam bullets from her Zombie LARP machine guns. The what? yeah, I wasn't familiar either. LARP stands for Live Action RePlay - a gaming term for, well live gaming. (Which to the average joe is just, playing a game). So everyone gets together, is put in a room with toy guns, fake blood and people dressed as Zombies, and participants kind of make up the game as they go along. Her angle was that the game is like a 'story - machine', and the really interesting bit happens after when everyone "froths", and people recall what has just taken place. Her presentation was put together by these wicked stick men slides:

There are two more speakers to mention, but since one is the great Martin Parr and will probably take up a long post, I think I'll do a part III. Like all good stories, there should be a Beginning, Middle and End. So stay tuned... 

Monday, 21 March 2011

What Type Are You?

Beautiful interactive film by Pentagram that explores the personality of typefaces by asking the viewer 'psychological' questions to determine their 'type'.
A Slavic speaking phrenologist asks four questions relating to your personality. The charm lies in the way he delves into your psyche: asking how relaxed you are by likening it to your approach to a box of chocolates. You are then presented with your 'type' and a short film telling you the history an characteristics of that font. I was Archetype Hairline - Modern, a straightforward appearance, with outbreaks of elegance and tiny dots of emotion.

Archetype hairline

Ahem, that's on a quiet day. Really I'm Archetype Doesburg - A brutally fair & assertive typeface, expressing strength of form and firmness of purpose. I'd "wrestle with anyone that says that C's are any less significant than E's". - Damn right!

Archetype Van Doesburg

Thursday, 17 March 2011

When I think words may be better than pictures

Ok, so the latest trend going around is all this visual notetaking at conferences and seminars. Cool huh? Well yes and no. Take these done by Eva Lottchen at The Story 2011 that I attended. These are quite detailed and beautifully presented; in fact they save me on reporting on what happened since I haven't written up part two of my notes yet!

However, looking at some of the notes on Ogilvy's new 'notes page' where people can upload their visual notes, and I can't blimmin' understand them. I wanted to find out what had been going on at the SWSX conference everyone's tweeting about, but check this - it all look's more interesting than a page of writing, but I can't make head nor tail of it. It is some else's shorthand and summary of the day - perhaps a great reminder/ nudge for those who were there, but to the outsider, not the best solution.

Nora Herting

So as an avid visualiser and illustrator I'm still on the fence about this. Maybe I need to watch last year's seminar on how to do Visual Notetaking to understand why it's so great. Let me know.

Monday, 14 March 2011

neat stuff

This rather neat deskstop app for Ikea by Hungarian agency Laboratory uses a very similar idea to that in my Muji 'Obsessive Compulsive Order' campaign. Only they have the technical know-how to make it happen. Neat.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Horse With Hands Riding A Bike

And here's my entrant for Hero of Switzerland's bizarre challenge to draw a horse with hands, riding a bicycle: the three most difficult things to draw (I'll vouch for that). Check out the site for more amusing interpretations.


The local elves have been at it again - For on 8th March I awoke to this delightful decoration on the tree out on the green by my flat. Yes the Stoke Newington W.I. have been beavering away, crafting brightly coloured poms poms made of wool and recycled plastic bags. Aswell as bringing a smile to the faces of the many passers by, it is their unique way of highlighting International Women's Day - celebrating inspiring women all over the world. I hope the decor lasts as long as last year's creation.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

What does a Story look like?

Is it piece of music, or collection of sounds? Perhaps objects or collection of data (personal or otherwise).
Or it is a person's experience recorded, played back or re-enacted through a game, play or written word?
It can of course be all of these things, and it was a collection of talks about individual projects like this that I heard about at last week's conference 'The Story 2001'. Top speakers took to the stage to tell us of their own (or others) stories, and it was a superbly awe-inspiring day.

First up, were Lucy, Ben and I to showcase the wonderful project, The Ministry of Stories, that I regularly mentor and illustrate for. The aim of the Ministry is to provide children with access to free writing and storytelling workshops, to unleash their creativity and give them the confidence to believe in themselves and their potential.
As a mentor, I certainly see first hand the difference of a young shy child, or someone who has no self-belief, open up, have fun and enjoy being creative. The school trips also involve a refreshing break for kids to experience the Monster shop and mystery of The Chief behind closed office doors. It's great fun, and I enjoy going as I get to be a bit of a kid again!
I also illustrate for these youngsters, who challenge me with their wild ideas of creatures with fans for faces, eight legs with upside down knobbly knees and inside out toes! We put this simple task to the test at the conference, giving the audience the chance to create their own monster. They too were certainly imaginative. And there it is: The Pedicurist.

It's eyes, round and yellow like pickled onions; it's mouth as vicious as an amoeba with a head cold, with teeth as hairy as a hippy's armpits.
It has three nostrils, all of varying sizes and its arms are as irregular as the Lib Dem's coalition promises. It's body is wrinkled like
a condom stuffed with walnuts, and it's tail, long and sharp. It has extremely beautiful feet.

Karl Jones contrasted the morning with his very powerful and emotional Dialogue Project, whereby he collects and records conversations with individuals. He is more of a story listener than a storyteller. He talked about the power of listening, and that all we have after listening is the change it has created : be it the support it has provided, reassurance, or focus it has given the other person. He played extracts from conversations that were very moving, about schoolchildren who felt isolated and and treated like "something on the bottom of their shoe". Yet there was a feeling of hope for these kids as they realised as they were being listened to, the respect that they may not receive could be a result of respect they don't give out. So if we're better story listeners, it may well affect the outcome of the stories that are told.
Next we had Turner prize winning Cornelia Parker. It was great to see her talk about her work so modestly, yet also to hear the explanations behind her 'stories' first hand. She talked about her beginnings as an artist, and how she loves used objects - how they all have a story to tell. It's the life & death of objects that she was concerned with in her well known artworks of an exploding shed, fragments of ashes from a church spire & bricks from a building, adding "Friction starts a good story".

In 1997, she decided she'd take a closer look of Einstein's theory under a microscope. The piece makes the chalk marks from his board almost look like fluffy clouds (a much lighter hearted way of looking at it).

This was just one example of how looking at objects (or pieces of art) can be interpreted differently. each person has their own version of the story to tell. For instance she displayed a two beautiful metal shapes cut to form a Colt gun the pro-gun brigade thought it was “beautiful”, the anti-gun lobby were pleased Cornelia had “aborted” the gun before it became a dangerous weapon.
Another example of her dry wit was her piece in the Tate where she wrapped Rodin's famous sculpture, 'The Kiss' in rope and called it "The Distance (A Kiss with String Attached)". Her sideways approach really shows that objects are not necessarily what someone says they are - you can give it a whole new story.

Right, I've been rambling on so much, I think I'll have to finish this report in parts. Stay tuned!