How is the complexity of life connected by a balance between positive and negative?
UNIT 2 RESEARCH INTO PRACTICE
Table of illustrations ………………………………………………………..Page 3
Introduction ………………………………………………………………….Page 9
Chapter One: My take on Darkness ……………………………………....Page 10
Chapter Two: Generating style ………………………………..………….Page 12
Chapter Three: Everything is connected ………………………………….Page 14
Chapter Four: Experiments and outcomes ………………………………Page 15
Conclusion …………………………………………………………………..Page 16
Appendices ………………………………………………………………….Page 17
Bibliography …………………………………………………………………Page 18
Table of illustrations
fig. 1 Onur Senturk - taken from black material - Triangle
fig. 2 A still from another inspirational video by ‘Onur Senturk’ called ‘Nokta’.
fig. 3 Nokta, he filmed this dustbin bag and animated it using computer generated imagery.
Robert Knoke – Artist behind the black material.
fig. 5 The film noir style
fig. 10 A still from Marco Brambilla, ‘Sync’
fig 11 Mark Rothko
fig 12 reci reci reci - Michaela Pavlatova
fig 13 Dark Matter (excerpt): Divertimento No.6: Clive Walley
fig 14 Fractels
fig 15 Still from animated film I made of Ink dropping
fig 16 The rooks at Buckeningham
fig 17 View inside the fish tank I was filming into after filming one of my ink experiments.
fig 18 My logo, that I have rebranded to suit the project
theme of ‘Darkness’
I want to evoke a mood of darkness through experimenting with visual elements that play around with the idea of positive and negative in film. I started out by looking at the work of ‘Onur Senturk’. ‘Onur Senturk’ is a motion designer based in Istanbul. His work has been a recent inspiration for me and I can not be clearer by stating that my research has been about trying to create something similar to this award winning motion graphic design. In his piece his video called ‘TRI▲NGLE’ [fig. 1 ] he creates a video based around the theme black material. He creates a spiralling organic form that morphs between organic and the geometric. I think it is truly beautiful. I could see that he has used a lot of real filmed imagery as well as computer generated imagery work.
My research has basically been a study of the creation of his piece and then a look at how I can develop my own work inspired by the mood of ‘Onur Senturk’s work. This mood can be found in another piece by ‘Senturk’ called ‘Nokta’. I feel the use of filmed material mixed with CGI is something I am aiming towards with my practice [fig. 2 and fig. 3]
TRI▲NGLE is a video work done for the book ‘Black Material’ which showcases ‘Robert Knoke’s’ artwork. ‘Robert Knoke’s’ creates intense ink portraits using a combination of ballpoint pen and the fat markers favoured by graffiti artists [fig. 4
]. There is something stern and almost sinister in his portrayals of everyone from ‘Bret Easton Ellis’ and ‘Patti Smith’ to ‘Rick Owens’ and ‘Lawrence Weiner’. The images are dark and ‘Senturk’ has managed to capture this mood in his video.
‘TRI▲NGLE’ was made when curator ‘Jens Karlson’ asked motion designer ‘Onur Senturk’ to make a short animation to help promote ‘Robert Knoke’s’ black and white artwork. He chose to create tense harmony between geometrical forms and organic movements. ‘Marcelo Baldin’ (Combustion) helped him to expand possibilities of ‘Black material’ with his strong music and sound design. Thanks to Renascent, Combustion, ‘Jens Karlson’, ‘Ipek Torun’, ‘Mert Kizilay’, ‘Omer Kasımoglu’. The promotion video went on to win two awards Vimeo Festival Best Motion Graphics and Vimeo Community Choice Best Motion Graphics.
Essentially the idea behind the Senturk’s work stemmed from the fact that there was an exhibition set up by ‘The Collective V’ and curated by ‘3 Deep’. The 2010 exhibition was named ‘The Zero Zero Project’ or ‘00 Volume 01’. The theme for this exhibition was ‘Black Material’. It is a study of materiality, process and abstraction. There are several artists involved in collaboration. All artists were asked to create something based around the idea of ‘Black material’. It would appear that the whole exhibition has been set up as a one massive promotion for those involved, with the main attraction being ‘Robert Knoke’s’ artwork. All artists are including a ‘00’ image in each design, which is the name of the exhibition. There are a collection of 13 contributing moving image makers. Each of these videos acts as a piece of promotional design for the artists involved and also helps draw people to the exhibition site in order for the viewer to either buy the book, go to the exhibition, or buy the Artists work.
The aim of my research is to create a piece of promotional graphic design based around the theme of ‘Black’. I want to create my own creative twist on this for the added challenge. So I will be aiming to discover what the word black means to me. I will take the direction of exploring what darkness is and in general I will try to find a concept that will allow me to play with some of the visual elements that ‘Senturk’ and the other Artists have used, but the video will link to my website instead of to ‘00’. This means I will be setting out on the task of re-branding my current logo design. To give it a new identity that fits in with my research design style. One thing is certain my logo and the video will be ‘black’ and be mood inducing.
Chapter one – My take on Darkness
Darkness cannot exist without light. There is a relationship between the opposites that I want to focus in on. You can not have one with out the other. This equal balance between exposure and contrast can be seen in every complexity of life. From the rotation of an electron inside an atom, through to the foundations of a well structured social relationship. For example balance can be seen in binary opposites. Between male and female, where one plays the dominant and the other takes the role of submission. Within colour there is a balance between opposites of dark and light. Light is associated with the sublime and God. Whilst darkness has strong connections to chaos and hell. When you look at darkness at night time we associate this period of time with spookiness, loneness and melancholy. It generates a certain mood. What is it about this mood that allows so many people to relate to it and why is it so important to our development.
Depression and the turmoil of chaos can result in some life changing moments and produce rare moments of genius. The bi-polar depressive state of Van Gogh’s mind gave rise to some of the most rapturous and ground-breaking art the world has seen. On the other hand the dark tragedy of Macbeth sees him fall ever lower and lower into turmoil and insanity as he and Lady Macbeth (Shakespeare’s femme fatale) are consumed by guilt.
The Sullen American Genius shows up in the tormented canvases of Jackson Pollock and the nervous ebullience of Marilyn Monroe. It shows up in the ruined faces of Edward Hopper and in Mark Rothko’s blank squares. The greatest tragedy is to live without tragedy.’
- Eric G Wilson[i]
My practice has lead me to explore styles and artists that have also looked at making the negative or dark aspects of life work for them and formulate a optimism amongst the gloom by framing light with darkness.
My research is really a focus on the negative rather than the positive, but you can not have one without the other. It is also more of a poetic understanding of the word negative rather than a scientific one. Negativity means a lot of things to me. The following list is a collection of words associated with my thinking of negativity:
I started out by reading ‘Against Happiness’ by Eric G. Wilson. This lead me to look at negativity in every sense and form and see how in fact it can be quite positive especially in the creative learning process. We learn by making mistakes.
In order to understand how the world is connected through a relationship between positive and negative I have been looking at binary opposites. Black and white are binary opposites – black / white – male / female – formal / emotional.
Chapter 2 – Generating style
In order to create work based around this theme I have been looking at the work of and Rothkos paintings. Throughout this time Rothko's personal life was shadowed by his severe depression, and likely an undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Rothko nevertheless explored the compositional potential of color and form on the human psyche. [ii] Rothko’s later works Black on Grays , were a reaction to his fear that his work would have no mojor legacy as he felt his work was not receiving the success it deserved. Ironically he would go on to become a great success after his death. Here we see something truly positive coming from the the negative attachment of his later works and death.
Dark Matter by Clive Walley is an abstract study based around dark matter from outer space. Which is a nice culmination of his academic career as he studied Dip.Ed. in Maths, Physics and Art at Manchester University[iii]. The work of both Walley and Rothko fit into the same category for me, They are a study of darkness and what we feel when we look into it.
My research into ‘Film Noir’ found that it originated from the American depression of the 1940’s and 30’s and the term film Noir translates from French as black film. So to me this works well with my starting idea of ‘darkness’. Film Noir has often been described as a style rather than a genre. I want to take the key attributes of this style use them to create a more contemporary Neo-noir film. The main elements that have been used to describe Film Noir are oneiric, strange, erotic ambivalent and cruel.[iv]
Positive and negative exposure within film is the starting point. The use of monochrome may have been more or less obligatory before the widespread use of expensive colour film but this situation brought about a development of styles that built on this limitation and transformed cinema into an art form in its own right. The use of the most iconic design styles of black and white cinema was the Film Noir genre. Movies such as ‘Casa Blanca’ portray mood and emotion through the use of black and white film techniques. They also use stock characterization such as the femme fatale and gangster. Film Noir used these techniques to increase the sense of horror and suspense. It was the proximity of fear rather than the violence that may or may not follow that made this style unique in its time. They were using the fact that they did not have colour to their advantage by creating bold unbalanced compositions and by making use of shadow in the narrative. Early film makers made sure they had a clear understanding of the aspects of life as a result of a positive/negative balance.
I think Film Noir style could be applied well to my work as I would be able to use the visual elements that are associated with it to my work. Like the way you get shadows cast from blinds on peoples faces and long menacing shadows. Low key lighting and unbalanced compositions are another key feature that could be applied to my work.
I have also been interested in the video work of ‘Marco Brambilla’. It is in his piece Sync, that you can see how he has tackled the subject matter of graphic sex and brutality creating a state of sensory overload, emphasizing how viewers develop a resistance to them. This ties in well with my project ambitions to visualise the elements of cruelness and eroticism that make up the Film Noir style. I would like to try to create something that reflects these key style attributes and mix it with a style like that of the Zero Zero Project’ promotion graphics. My research has lead me to see a way to further develop my practice towards a longer experimental film.
Chapter Three: Everything is connected
As a result of any of the negative side of life there is also a positive association to balance it out. Life is a continuous balance of nature. When predatory animals kill to much of there prey they die out and then the prey increase in numbers. This leads to an expanse of the predator as the population can afford to increase to meet the expansion of supply. In turn the balance of nature will always naturally equal each other out. Balance within politics – left and right wing. Whole societies are governed by different rules and cultural clashes. When there are differences these can often be resolved through elections and wars. The continuous balance of positive and negative keeps the shapes of countries in position on the global map. Love and hate are binary opposites they are in continuous flux of motion. Relationships are filled with tears of happiness when all is going well and tears of sadness when things fall apart. Love and hate are so well connected they can be described as ambivalent. Chaos theory because of cause and effect. They say the beat of a butterflies wings, can set off a storm a world away. We are all connected through the stars. Essentially we all come from one point of origin within the universe. Over time we may have expanded out into the many different separate parts but essentially we are still stardust. Complex system emerging to form one whole object such as the ants nest, cities, the globe. The universe is connected through a mathematical formation known as fractels[v]. We can all be tied together through the simple mathematical equation of the Mandelbrot set. This is apparent in the way our blood cells formulate, the way trees grow and in the satellite images of rivers and mountain ranges.
Chapter Four: Experiments and outcomes
I have created some small tests to explore the theories of why we move collectively. All the parts added together make the whole shape. My video shows I direct link to this concept of connection with the how fractels can be seen in all forms of nature. I started with the smallest zoomed in image of inks and bubbles. I first filmed using a digital microscope which allowed me to see detail that even the naked eye can’t always pick up on. I zoomed in to such an extent that a single particle of suger fills the screen like a giant crystallised rock. I then followed this with some test shoots with a mixture of soluble materials to see how they would react in water and watched the resulting reaction unfold. The same movement and pace can be seen here as it can when I filmed objects moving up close. There is a connection between the movement and this can be illustrated through how single bubbles move in the same way as a could of bubbles. Each takes on the same flow through out the water. Forming a shape within the negative space. I then filmed at an even greater depth of perspective. Filming inks and paint flowing through water. The same movement and impetus could be seen in these reactions. Contrast would frame the liquids in the surrounding material. Creating more positive and negative shades. I then tried this at a much larger scale and filmed a collection of rooks coming into roost at Old Buckeningham, in Norfolk. The contrast between the mass collection of the swarm and the sky created shapes and organic forms The fast moving swarm takes on the same shape and impetus as the bubbles and ink has. My video shows how these positive and negative forms are the same at any scale. Everything is connected.
 Against Happiness, Eric G Wilson, The American Dream
(Wilson, 2008, page -6, Chapter 3)
The predominant form of American happiness breeds blandness. This kind of happiness appears to entertain a craven disregard for the value of sadness. This brand of supposed joy, moreover, seems to foster an ongoing ignorance of life’s enduring and vital polarity between agony and ecstasy, dejection and ebullience. Trying to forget sadness and its integral place in the great rhythm of the cosmos.
The Art Story, Mark Rothko. Available from:
< http://www.theartstory.org/artist-rothko-mark.htm >
[Accessed 5 Feb 2010].
Against Happiness, Eric G Wilson, (2008) (Wilson, 2008)
The American Dream,
A Fractals Unit for Elementary and Middle School Students
http://math.rice.edu/~lanius/frac/ [Accessed 11 Feb 2010]
Citation and Referencing
[i] Against Happiness, Eric G Wilson, The American Dream
(Wilson, 2008, page -37, Chapter 2)
[ii] Legacy – He also began to worry that his art would have no major legacy, and this led him to work on his last major series, Black on Grays, which included twenty-five canvases and marked a clear deviation from his previous work.
[iii] Clive Walley was born in Cheshire in 1943. After gaining a degree in Engineering at Manchester University, he went on to study for a Dip.Ed. in Maths, Physics and Art in 1965 at the University of Wales in Bangor.
[iv] "We'd be oversimplifying things in calling film noir oneiric, strange, erotic, ambivalent, and cruel": this set of attributes constitutes the first of many attempts to define film noir made by French critics Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton in their 1955 book Panorama du film noir américain 1941–1953 (A Panorama of American Film Noir)
[v] They're everywhere, those bright, weird, beautiful shapes called fractals.