By Nina J P Evans

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Photography: Bakery Window

I liked the textured frosting of little square tiles on this bakery window. It reminded me of an enlarged bitmap image. Everything inside was perfectly arranged on the shelves; through the glass the objects looked kind of abstract and broken down into an arrangement of colourful and whimsical patterns.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Photography: Takeaway

This is a shot of an evening takeaway hence the blind is drawn. At first it was the striped typical plastic pattern bags with the contrast to the blind that made me stop and look. And, then I noticed how the blind had reflected everything back in pink a kind of like a duotone effect. The cars parked opposite happened to colour coordinate—this affected the composition of the shot. I like the contracting soft focusing in the background with the clarity of the blinds beading pull string.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Philip Larkin: Wires

I have made a digital montage illustrating a poem titled: Wires written by Philip Larkin. I was inspired at first by his written definition of the process of poetry. Taking that into account, you could say that I embraced the third stage: setting off the device and re-creating… The poem Wires taken out of its literal sense is about youth rebellion and the problems encountered—as they go up against authority. The Wire is representational of the boundary between the illusion of innocence and freedom and reality.

The illustration shows visual evidence of youth via the spray paint and the space invader graphic. The authority is represented by a figure monitoring CCTV footage and the CCTV cameras. The tree in the background could either symbolize decision-making as well as being older. The background is seen through parts of the wire fencing this is to show our ability to breakthrough. Larkin explains:
The Process of poetry consists of three stages: The first is when a man becomes obsessed with an emotional concept to such a degree that he is compelled to do something about it. What he does is the second stage, namely, construct a verbal device that will reproduce this emotional concept in anyone who cares to read it, anywhere, any time. The third stage is the recurrent situation of people in different times and places setting off the device and re-creating in themselves what the poet felt when he wrote it. ~ PHILIP LARKIN

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How To See Japan 1933–-1937

Travel brochure: The Yamato Hotel – Mukden, 1933 Published by the South Manchuria Railway
The sprit and style of Art Deco 1910–1939 can be seen illustrated by these brochures. The front covers of the information guides are wonderfully appealing. It’s hard to believe from the idealistic visions they inspire that 10 years later on the outskirts of the cities POW camps were set up during WWII.

I am coming at this from a design perspective. I think it’s easy to undermine the value of brochures, seeing as they are printed ephemera throw away things that are useful as a guide at the time. However, I think that they convey a unique style of beauty and optimism. They are about our journeys away from home and the inspirations from our travels.

Travel brochure: Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, Japan, circa 1935: Frank Lloyd Wright
Travel brochure: Oriental Hotel – Kobe, Japan, circa 1933
Travel brochure: Yokohama hotel Hotel New Grand circa 1935
Travel brochure: Along Manchurian Railways, 1937
Travel brochure: Japan, 1935 Published by the Japanese Government Railways

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Adventures in Tilt-Shift

I have recently been inspired by a film technique called tilt-shift that originates from the world of photography. Using selective focus to simulate a very narrow depth of field. This photographic technique has inspired the digital industries and is now being used and manipulated in digital technologies such as print and film. It first come into fruition due to an award winning music video: Thom Yorke’s Harrowdown Hill—directed by Chel White with Bent image Lab, that used a previously developed experimental filming technique that was aptly named: Smallgantics wiki states, “The technique takes footage of large objects (rivers, factories, city skylines) and makes them appear as though they are actually miniatures.”

The miniaturized world is richly saturated in colour intensity; apparently this is necessary to enhance the effect of the film. I think it adds to it. The colours are visually deeper and more appealing everything looks shiny and new. With the addition of film editing scenes can be merged with unfiltered scene footage or alternatively sped up or even played backwards or frozen. Applying digital effects like tilt-shift  changes our perceptions. The real world appears to us in a toy like fashion with a twist—the toys are us.

When viewing this stuff you have to hold on the fact that it is still real. This is still us as humans not play things, but presented as looking similar to Playmobil® and Lego® figures our world simulating an expansive model train layout. It’s interesting seeing things from this perspective, things don’t look so bad! In fact, they look too good to be true, although the tilt-shift novelty value wears off pretty fast.

Toys: Playmobil, Model Train layout, Lego.
Harrowdown Hill is filmed from a bird’s eye view seen literally through an animation of a bird in flight. The video touches on some of the biggest challenges facing our society. The animation bird flies over the tilt-shift miniaturized landscape. The bird being, animated switches perspectives as it flies towards the camera in silhouette. When the bird interacts with a gang of kids, the camera is very tight and close up and the bird becomes kite like, a toy that is played with by us. The indirectness of the filming encapsulates the bird’s plight. We are made to feel more detached and involved simultaneously. The blurring of the animated images adds a sense of movement and simulates a change in focus within each transitional scene. The riot scene become less like a digital effect and more like a digital montage of cut ups. The footage without the tilt-shift effect seems now somehow to be more poignant and haunting when used in conjunction with it.

The Uniglo website is best viewed with the sound off as unfortunately this soundtrack doesn’t compare to Thom York’s. It makes the tilt-shift even crazier, which is kind of ironic. There is no storyboard narrative with any consistency unlike Harrowdown Hill. It’s a little unsettling and disconcerting in the way that you are questing the lack of visually coherent themes. Although parts of the tilt-shift filming are amusing. In every scene there are people and it’s quite fascinating watching people from a miniaturized perspective: walking, queuing and moving about continuously. I also like the cars and trains and the speed of the moon’s elevation in the night sky. Interesting how the viewing experience detaches you from reality.

Out of the two examples, I much prefer the music video to the online shop. Harrowdown Hill uses the latest tilt-shift technology without over doing it by merging it with other animation techniques and live film. Rather than the Uniglo with the tilt-shift filter in its entirety seems a bit too detached and less charming, there are no subtleties or contrasts. That aside though tilt-shift imagery evokes a wonderful sense of nostalgia… it’s nice seeing our world looking surprisingly colourful miniaturized.

And if you have an iphone you could try this: TiltShift Generator
Thom Yorke’s Harrowdown Hill - directed by Chel White (video)
Uniglo titlt-shift (videos)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Every Reader Finds Himself

I have created a digital montage. It’s my interpretation using photographic imagery that I’ve recently taken. Layers are revealed and hidden, creating a sense of depth, wonder and meaning.

It originates from a book begun in 1909, À la recherche du temps perdu consists of seven volumes totalling around 3,200 pages (about 4,300 in The Modern Library's translation) and featuring more than 2,000 characters. Graham Greene called Proust the “greatest novelist of the 20th century,” and W. Somerset Maugham called the novel the “greatest fiction to date.” As quoted by Proust:
Every reader finds himself. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


So few men working so hard building a lighting installation, the National’s Lyttelton Fly Tower. A strategically placed stationary security camera creates this footage, sequence edited to stop motion animation below. The sky background is predominately a featureless white space, which creates a composition of abstract forms using positive and negative space. It’s not a piece about the sky although subtly it is being an outdoor installation.

The building lights up firstly, not by the light installation, but the sun rising. The light rays disperse to camera and diagonally travel over the facade. The brightness is so intense that momentarily the building appears to shape shift. As the sky gradually darkens the building facade illuminates florescent green neon light, first glimpse seen through the construction wrapping.

Night vision switches to black and white a bit like a violent Japanese film scene—this film is censored. Near work completion, whilst cleaning the building up, shifting low clouds, strong winds and rain on the camera lens adds a stronger sense of emotion disrupting the silence. The lighting installation as seen form the surveillance footage is a little eerie. There's a sense of stillness as twilight fades to black. The illuminated green brilliance constantly intensifies. People in small groups gather around seen as indistinct silhouettes, some darting about… others stand motionless—caught like flies. The NT installation is aptly named the fly tower. Surveillance footage has the ability to elude our vision—delightfully triggering the imagination.

Animation by Guy Kendall and Dave Dargie. Installation by Ackroyd &Harvey.