Ain’t She Sweet

Reflective Journal

MA Communication Design
15 April 2017

I have enjoyed my most recent project of combining old beauty commercials, old music, dialogue and contemporary imagery to create an experimental film on beauty. The film would be suitable for a magazine programme as an introduction to a discussion on the comparison of beauty today and yesteryear.

Firstly I collated copyright footage, music and imagery from the Internet Archive and saved all my favourite clips that would be relevant to my film. I imported them into After Effects and cut the most suitable clips and started to piece them together. Here’s my first go at the montage.

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Expanding film

Reflective Journal

MA Communication Design
15 April 2017


From the results of my survey I moved some of the scenes around and made the the film longer in certain parts to emphasise the scene and give the audience a chance to ponder. I also started to finalise some of the scenes. The first one was the temple. The world was in a body so I wanted to add blue veins & background, female objects for the objectification of women, bars and an eye (which will be male).

I also showed this to my group and my lecturer mentioned to look at the male gaze and body politics. I briefly studied these ideologies and was interested in the idea of the man being entitled to view the woman and to discuss and exploit their bodies without consequence and also as a society to control the body. I would like to look at this further for the other chapters during the Masters Project.

From testing the concept of the film in front of an audience it gave me the confidence to zoom ahead. From the patriarchal study in my previous post and developing a world of part fantasy and reality I decided there would be three areas in the temple. There would be a torture room to examine the body of the protagonist, a spectator area which originally was going to be a department store but now changed to a gentleman’s club and lastly a room 101 where the protagonist’s mind would be brainwashed. I visually researched gentleman’s clubs of Victorian and Edwardian eras and of today.

The gentleman’s club would be ideal for representing masculinity and patriarchalism. From the study I noted the key elements to add to my scene such as columns, wooden panelled walls, busts of men, pictures, ferns/big plants, carpets, wooden floors and animal heads.  I wanted the background to be simple as there would be movement in front of it. The panels were made out of an old photograph I had taken of a wooden door and I duplicated it and made a wall and added textures. I also added a few objects from my bank of photographs that I have taken from various historical sites.  This was simple and I tested it in the film and was happy with the result.

Next I wanted another scene to represent a gentlemans’ club. I made an oak panelled wall but wasn’t happy with the outcome. The panels were too small and the yellow colour wasn’t right for the room or a good representation of wood. I decided to use the previous panel and experimented with perspectives in Photoshop. I also moved around objects and decided to add some copyright free imagery which would also be used in the foreground. I liked the mix of photography and illustration which was a new process for me.

Next I looked at the torture room and decided I wanted Esther hanging by her hair from the ceiling (involuntary and like a piece of meat) next to clothes and accessories. Again the background was simple using different textures and transfer modes. The clothes were taken from resource books and colour overlays added in Photoshop. Lastly I added different ropes and chains to emphasis the imprisoned effect.

I liked the idea of the closing and shutting down of each scene with curtains and barriers. Again this symbolised imprisonment. I had already created a barrier from images taken at a Steam Museum. For the blind I used a print of lace but added ribbon in the form of railings that convey confinement.

With the red curtains I made a stop motion animation of some fabric and edit it in Photoshop and added patterns which had to be amended for each frame.

In this scene I added a hook and a dress which would be taken away during the scene. This idea developed when I was working on the film and my brief study on the male gaze and body politics. The dress would be removed so that the two butlers/men could examine her body.

From the results of testing an audience I decided to add a foyer in the temple which would show the three rooms and a barrier would shut behind. This would help the audience to understand the narrative more and introduce the three rooms. I used pieces from my photographs and also used the stairway from a digital collage I had previously created.

In the final scene I wanted to show Esther in a box wrapped up ready to be shipped off. I wanted her box to be stamped and looked at words to use such as Ready for Marriage, Approved for Marriage and Approved Bride to Be. Eventually I decided to just use the word Approved and give her a bridal bouquet of flowers as the symbol of marriage. I briefly looked at a design for a stamp but instead used a font and also added No 23 as it shows she is part of a production line. I may look at the stamp idea at a later date but the font does the same job and is a quicker method. However the flowers did take some time to create as I searched through my bank of images as well as photographing flowers and eventually created the bouquet. I also researched Edwardian bridal bouquets and added ivy as well as roses which were popular at the time and as the chapter is about an English rose. I also decided to continue this scene in darkness and after a pause there is a sound of breaking glass conveying an escape.

In Room 101 I wanted to show what were the expected thoughts of an Edwardian woman. I wanted to add: having children, with the first born being a boy, and household duties of cleaning, cooking, needlework, ironing and washing clothes. I wanted to keep the growing embryo and added a blue pram and objects that represent household duties. I spent a long time placing and animating the mechanical objects and also expanded the scene so the audience could digest all the messages. Lastly I added music and again I adjusted a few things such as the gauge moving to the beat. My final thoughts on this scene is whether the pink objects can be seen or whether I need to tone down the colour. I am aiming to show this to a few institutes and hopefully they can feedback to me if it needs changing.

In another scene I wanted Esther to mechanically rotate in front of a mirror. I used a pattern for the background and manipulated an image of a frame to create three mirrors. Everytime the figure turned I wanted to add different costumes. I wanted the costumes to represent the change of costumes a middle class Edwardian woman had to go through such as the undergarments, morning outfit, afternoon dress, tea gown, and evening dress. I tried to make the process of creating the garment very simple and quick as the audience would only see it for a short time and it would be hidden slightly by the main figure.

I revisited the opening title of the chapter. Originally I was going to design the font but temporarily I have used Zapfino which is one of my favourites as it is of an era and very elegant. Looking at the placement of the type the rows are too close together and plan to look at this next week. I decided to have three sections of the opening title with the first being bright, next getting darker and finally revealing thorns. This symbolises that something is amiss.  I also decided to make the rose fall off the title, refering to something being out of place.

The last scene I have been working on is the rising Esther. I mentioned previously about the clash between Art Nouveau and Futurism. That is to say I wanted to include both the natural forms of nature and the masculine mechanical elements. In the beginning of this scene I wanted Esther to be surrounded by nature and beauty and this is later torn up by patriarchal control. In the beginning the girl is filled with hope but then enters a dangerous place symbolising which would represent an unwanted marriage or an arranged marriage. The girl is more in love with the fantasy rather than the reality. I used flowers from previous collages and created a brightly coloured wreath. Unfortunately I tested this in the film and the colours clash with the background. I will review this and tone the colours down or have only a few colours as I think there are too many. I may look at changing the peach rose to another colour. I also used this scene for the rear of Esther whilst she lands in front of the temple. In this scene I darken the flowers but again I would also like to review this next week. I also had fun shading, toning and bending the bells.

I have also been experimenting with sound in ASU2 and decided to add a few to the film as well as add some upbeat music but still have the atmospheric moody undertones which would be inappropriate, symbolising something is not right. I also decided to include the music box in the final scene. There is still lots to do with the sound and plan to look at this next week.

Action Plan

  • Review opening title – decide font and falling rose
  • Edit movement of one scene to another
  • Create Rising Esther background
  • Rising Esther – review wreath
  • Review landing of Esther
  • Create landscape/world
  • Reshoot eye, Lady Theodora, hands and hanging hair
  • Relook at hanging clothes and Esther
  • Relook at moving eyes/nose- too much movement
  • Embryo -front and then back – ask technician why
  • Sounds – what to have in torture room, cosmetic dialogue is it appropriate?,what to have for rising Esther- sound not appropriate

I have continued my interest in developing an ideology about Matriarchalism, the future is female. I am interested in exploring the representation of our future world in which it would be female. I would question the changes to attitudes and behaviour of women if they were in the driver’s seat? From the Fawcett Society website few women hold positions of power with men holding 80% and making decisions for the other half of the population.

My questions include what would the world be like if women were leaders in all walks of life such as in businesses, home and society? What would the appearance of the world be? What would it sound like, feel, taste, smell? How would our children be reared? I am interested to see how creative people such as musicians, visual artists, performers, filmmakers envisage this new world. What obstacles would we overcome and would there be an improvement or would it deteriorate? I am also interested to discuss further. Do women make better leaders? Would there be wars? Would men be prisoners? Would it be an ideal world? Would it be too boring for creative people to illustrate? What about the transition into this new world? Would it be rocky?  Would it be pink and glitter? Would it be imperfect perfect? Would nature be tampered with to maintain perfection? Also when I say the future is female this doesn’t imply that it is a female dominated world but men may take on the attributes and outlooks of women. On the other hand what if women take on the attributes of men?

In this uncertain world of Donald Trump and all the misogynistic worms that are coming out of the woodworm is it time to rebel and show the world a better place? A place where there isn’t everyday sexism. Perhaps this art movement is about the issues that arise today and the barriers that confront this ideal world.

My ideas have developed from various researches into the manifestos of Surrealism, Futurism and Futurist Woman. I have also watched How to be a Surrealist with Philippa Perry and interested in creating this ideal world by a state of mind. The surrealist invited the public to talk about their dreams and from their findings they experimented using various medias. I would also like to talk to the public about this ideology and from the findings create work with a group of artists. I have also been drawn to Feminist science fiction and interested in the book/film The Handmaid’s Tale and have recently attended a talk on Glitch Feminism (which I am still trying to work out!). Artist and writer Legacy Russell has some interesting thoughts including everybody wants to be a feminist but nobody wants to be a feminist, society rewards a body for being male, the virtual transformation of a body to a digital space. She has a book coming out this year which I would like to read and understand further.

I have already come across some collages that would be appropriate for the subject and would be the first point of inspiration.

I am not sure whether this study is appropriate for my MA but some of the ideologies maybe useful for the final chapter in which Esther is saved by the suffragette and enters a new world.

Next chapters

Whilst researching surrealism I came across various collages and was drawn to Mattieu Bourel’s work which would be interesting to study further for the Habeas Corpus chapter on the woman being a man’s slave and property. I am also collating quotes and thoughts from my historical research and placing them in sections under each chapter which will help me to formulate further ideas.

A Thorny English Rose

Reflective Journal

MA Communication Design
31 March 2017

Wonder Women: Radical Manchester Festival

I undertook some field research by visiting the Wonder Women festival on 10-12 March. This is a potential partner who are also marking the centenary of women’s suffrage next year. I wanted to find out more and gage the audience and observe their engagement.

Firstly there was a talk on Glitch Feminism by writer and artist Legacy Russell at Castlefield Gallery, who conceptualised a theory on Glitch Feminism. Unfortunately she read very quickly through her notes and it was difficult to understand the concept.  This was taken from her website:

“In a society that conditions the public to find discomfort or outright fear in the errors and malfunctions of our socio-cultural mechanics—illicitly and implicitly encouraging an ethos of “Don’t rock the boat!”—a “glitch” becomes an apt metonym. Glitch Feminism, however, embraces the causality of “error”, and turns the gloomy implication of glitch on its ear by acknowledging that an error in a social system that has already been disturbed by economic, racial, social, sexual, and cultural stratification and the imperialist wrecking-ball of globalization—processes that continue to enact violence on all bodies—may not, in fact, be an error at all, but rather a much-needed erratum. This glitch is a correction to the “machine”, and, in turn, a positive departure.” (L. Russell, The Society Pages, 2013)

I would like to find out more about this topic and she will be publishing a book on it shortly.

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Poems & Music

Reflective Journal

MA Communication Design
30 March 2017

Down down down completed

A couple of weeks ago I completed the Down Down Down video by re-recording the voice of the narrator with a Zoom H4N from The Media Resource Centre. The sound was much more professional.

I also wanted the film to have a simple appearance. However I found it was too bare so I added an embellishment for each scene. This included a pattern behind the fish for ‘beautiful’, small dashes for ‘tender’, a target for ‘kind’, curtains for ‘intelligent’, a cloud for ‘witty’ and columns for ‘brave’. I also added lines for the darkness scene and ticking clocks for ‘gently they go’, which symbolises time flying, and floating angels for ‘quietly they go’. I also added white roses for ‘I know’ which are used as funeral flowers. However I was stuck for  ‘But I do not approve’ so I used a woman stabbing a table to communicate pent-up anger. To emphasis this I recorded a thudding sound. Lastly I made the tears bigger for ‘And I am not resigned’.

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Down Down Down Poem

Reflective Journal

MA Communication Design
5 March 2017

The aim of my ASU2 is to learn After Effects, study filmmakers and experiment with filmmaking. At the end of the unit I would like to have 1-2 clips of a professional standard. I have already completed a stop motion clip which needs a little fine tuning however I want to move onto other processes.  After watching Jonas Odell and Brothers Quays’ films I made some notes and sketches.


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An English Rose blooms

Reflective Journal

MA Communication Design
5 March 2017

Whilst I continue figuring out what Esther (the protagonist) is going to look like I thought I’d better get a move on with making the film. Firstly I decided to work out the storyboard for the excerpt of the film. I am aiming to make this section a one-minute film and plan to enter it for the Norfolk and Norwich film festival. Therefore this part needs to be a story within a story. I am focusing on Chapter 2 titled The English Rose and it will address the Edwardian young girl as a decorative ornament and being groomed for marriage. I will also focus on today’s beauty magazines and will look at how I can address some of the current issues which are mentioned in my previous posts.

I revisited storyboard ideas which I completed in January so found this useful to continue. Firstly the chapter would have a decorative title as in the silent films. From previous research I had eventually decided the film would be inspired by Art Nouveau (the feminine) and Futurism (masculine). I went through each scene in more detail and started to jot down ideas from researching today’s magazines, Surrealism books, Max Ernst books, Aesthetic Movement books and looking at contemporary collages online. I plan to get some books on Futurism at a later stage.


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Esther is the pain of my life

Reflective Journal

MA Communication Design
23 February 2017

Hysterical Females, marking the centenary of women’s suffrage project continues.

Esther is the pain of my life

To get the film right my protagonist needs to be visually strong and able to move a little. To reiterate she is a doll-like girl which symbolises naivety, innocent, curiosity and is unbiased. I have explored looks of different ways to present her in ASU1 as well as linocut printing at the beginning of this unit. I used some of the print and other objects to create digital collages. These had moving eyes and lips which were inspired by Franz Ferdinand’s video Take Me Out. I also made video clips to study her movement and see if she was visually strong.

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Reviewing Film

Reflective Journal

MA Communication Design
16 February 2017

Reviewing Film

After completing my animated sequence test I felt that I wasn’t happy with the narrative, it was too long and there would be lots of work to do which would be unrealistic within the timescales. It also felt that it would be very boring for the audience. I discussed the storyboard with my tutor and he advised me that it is better to do a very good 3 minute film than a poor 20 minute one. He also showed me a music video for Franz Ferdinand’s Take me out.  This was a brilliant example as it was 4 minutes, visually stimulating, a great use of live action and motion graphics and I loved the tactile and collage element to it. This led me to explore more of Jonas Odell’s work.

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