Field: A Summative PDP

Kinetic Environments: A Reflection

At the beginning of the five weeks, not a single person in our group had a clue how to write a code or link up a circuit via a board. We were more of less going in blind, but we were eager to learn since it linked strongly to our own interests – Plus, personally, I think that in this day and age electronics are a pretty useful thing to know.

Although three out of four of our group was on illustration, we hadn’t previously talked much, so it was nice that the Field project had brought us together. Our last group member was in product design, and found it really valuable to meet and interact with this person from a different subject since they had a very dissimilar and interesting way of approaching things.

When coming up with our initial designs, we used a piece of A1 paper to sketch down ideas and thoughts that we had. We very quickly came to the conclusion that making a robot that could draw was something we were all happy and eager to create – plus it linked back strongly to most of the groups’ illustration background. We also decided that the robot would have a strong aesthetic appearance, thus connecting to both illustration and product design (Maria, the product design person was very interested in making children’s toys).

Subsequently, one of the illustrators in our group, Jack, had a huge interest in sea creatures. He works a lot with marine life and knows a lot about them.  Because of this, we thought it would be interesting to link back to link our robot’s aesthetics to that.

During the construction of the robot, we often found complications with the coding and wiring. It, at times, seemed like as soon as the arduino coding was working, the robot would break; and as soon as the robot was working, there would be a new error in the coding. Over all, we quickly realised quite how big a task we had set ourselves – but it nevertheless this didn’t deter us from trying to achieve our main goal.

Lastly we decided to make a short movie of our deep-sea creature in action. Maria then edited the video and added sound effects. Despite this not being a necessary addition to our project, we thought it was a strong extra touch, and highlighted the thought processes of our illustrator and product design minds (being it a sort of exhibition piece as well as an advertisement for our robot).

Over all, I think that as a group we worked together well throughout the duration of this project. I have personally found it very valuable in the relationships I’ve formed, and the skills I’ve gained from Kinetic Environments.  I feel like, in the future, if I wanted to create a piece of illustration which reacted with the person viewing it (something I’ve been very interested in producing in a long time) I now have a very good head start in doing it.

Beyond Fiction: A Reflection

I believe that I have gained a huge amount of confidence from this project in regards to animation, technique and my own abilities. I discussed my ideas with professional animators, bouncing ideas back and forth until settling on using paper cut outs which I would move frame by frame in order to create a moving image.

Working with my own story and own characters was great fun and pushing the boundaries of the reality the story would be set in was a wonderful challenge. I decided that (since as a child this fact had always bothered me if left un-thought about by the producers of a show) I would create a story that would be standard to the world of children’s books and TV shows, where a fox travels to the city to explore and discover what it’s like, all the while writing letters about his experiences to a friend back home. I would create an animation of the fox arriving at the city, setting up a home and writing a letter before getting a pigeon to send fly the letter back to the forest, plus I would write the letters themselves as individual items that people could read.

This idea in itself was not particularly unusual, but what I did to go deeper into the realms of fiction was to consider the kind of universe the fox was actually in. Many children’s shows have intelligent animals which either hide their intelligence flawlessly from humans, or interact with humans without any question of why or how. My idea was to create another story within this story, by documenting the reactions that people in the real world might have to a seemingly intelligent fox. I created fake social networking statuses and news articles talking about the fox as if it was some sort of local celebrity, giving different people different reactions. The purpose of this idea could even be served as a joke towards all the narratives which the animals either are aware they have to hide their intelligence, or it is the norm for animals to be intelligent, since the fox is completely unaware of how humans are reacting to its strange behaviour.

Before this project, I had always been a little afraid to show off my digital drawings, since, unfortunately, many people still do not consider it real art. Nevertheless, upon showing my tutors and peers my work, they gave positive feedback and encouragement which was greatly reassuring.

I drew out each tiny animation component via my digital program and set to work cutting them out and creating an animatic. It was a shame I didn’t have the time to make the full animation, however I was incredibly pleased with how the animatic turned out, and was happy to see it on the 1st and 2nd year’s animation reel at the degree show.

How This Has Affected My Work:

I feel like over all, I was very lucky to get these two field projects since each one had aspects of it which helped my personal growth as well as the growth of my practice.

The type of illustration I always do is very un-technical. I have never had much of a brain for methodical things like electronics and science, but taking a breather from drawing and having to consider illustration in a more technical way was definitely valuable to me. Normally, a challenge like this would be far too daunting for me, and admittedly I was worried prior to starting the field subject that I wouldn’t be cut out for it, but as soon as I formed a group with some other class members I knew that our combined skills and enthusiasm would be enough to get a good project going.

Playing to our strengths whilst still learning things that sit within our weak points was incredibly valuable. The project has not only given me connections to people who may be able to help me with projects in the future, but also given me confidence to step into a more technical way of working in my practice.

This new found confidence is evident in the second field project where I gave digital animation a go. I had to use a much more complicated program than one I usually use for digital art, but it paid off and I ended up with a short run cycle.

The creative freedom that the second field project encouraged me to exhibit was, in my opinion, crucial to my development this year as an illustrator. It has affected my study in the fact that I now feel more confident about my own work rather than trying to imitate the type of illustrator I simply am not at this moment in time.

As someone who worries a lot, I tend to overthink my projects until they are no longer creative but instead rigid and impersonal. The two field subjects pushed me out of this habit in individual ways – Kinetic environments making me work as a group and having to do things that were somewhat out of my control, and Beyond fiction teaching me to play around and have fun with my ideas rather than worry about whether they are good enough.

My personal confidence in standing up in front of a crowd also grew. In the first field, I was responsible for organising and directing the presentation we had to give. And in the second field, I had to present a formal presentation all on my own. Both times I spoke to a relatively large group of unfamiliar people, which was nerve wrecking but good for me.

Both fields taught me a priceless lesson in how taking a leap of faith with your work is very often worth it.

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