Noticing the Ignored
We are now living in a world where we can get any information we want, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week – all just at the end of our fingertips.
We have access to the news all day, we can take amazing pictures with our phones and if we need the answer to any question, we can either look it up online or we can ask ‘Alexa’!
Without even noticing, hours can go by looking at social media content. Scrolling through endless information and images, watching people make things, paint things, create music or just looking at people messing about doing silly things.
Which makes me question – of all the information we are looking at, how much are we actually seeing? How much are we taking in? Is our attention being distracted by the draw of the internet? Are we missing out on the beauty of the everyday things that we take for granted?
As a designer, I like to think that I see the world through a designer’s eye. Many times, I have noticed something or pointed out a design to my family or friends which they would have normally just ignored or not even noticed.
This weeks task is exactly that – seeing and properly looking at things that we don’t necessarily notice day to day.
In our webinar last week, we had a guest speaker, Daniel Eatock who is a graphic designer and artist. Daniel sees the world in a very unique way, sometimes looking at the irony in everyday objects and recording them for his art. For example, a brick made out of Lego that is the same size as an actual brick or showing that the number 4 is the only number which has 4 letters for its name!
This week’s lecture featured examples of artists/designers/filmmakers who see the beauty in the everyday. I particularly enjoyed the film ‘Girl Chewing Gum’ by John Smith, 1976. It was fascinating to watch a piece of film with the soundtrack being a director ‘directing’! I was almost excited to see what was about to come next but essentially it was just a camera filming an everyday street scene – which otherwise may not have been worth watching.
I also enjoyed the film by Emily Richardson, ‘Memo Mori’ with Iain Sinclair narrating. It showed an allotment which had been abandoned, waiting to be redeveloped for the 2012 Olympic Park. Most plots on the allotment had little sheds or shelters which belonged to the owners. They didn’t need planning permission to put them up, so they were able to create their own unique little huts out of various materials, adding their own individual style.
I have passed many allotments before, but I’ve never thought to go in and see how owners have ‘designed’ their own plots. I can imagine what it would have been like going around each plot filming, but to be there physically to see all the finer details of each one, would have been much better.
Also the lecture, Susanna mentioned photographer Martin Parr and his work ‘The Great British Seaside’.
I was able to go to his ‘Only Human’ exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery last year and there was one particular ‘beach’ image that was floor to ceiling and the entire length of a wall. It was huge! But it was just people doing their own thing on the beach. The small insights into people, the multiple colours and various shapes within the image made you look at the image with wonder. Such a familiar sight that you see every time you are at the beach, but this was a totally new perspective and I stood looking at it for quite a while! I would not have seen any of this information had I actually been at the beach that day!
What I took from the ‘Ways of Seeing’ film by John Berger, also part of this week’s research, was that we can view many works of art via various types of media; newspapers, magazines, TV and these days, the internet. However, viewing something yourself with your own eyes, can’t be beaten. Ultimately because, when you see something for the first time, it’s the impression it leaves on you, that is yours alone and not someone else’s’.
I can remember the first time I saw Michelangelo’s ‘David’ at the Galleria Accademia, Florence, Italy. I had seen it many times in books, magazines and as part of lectures at college but standing there in front of the real thing, took my breath away. It was smaller than I had imagined but it was beautiful, and it had an ‘air’ about it. I can’t quite describe the feeling I had, but I had the same feeling when I visited ‘Stonehenge’ and ‘The Pantheon’, Rome. Like I was part of something much bigger than me – almost spiritual. Something I would never have experienced if I viewed them via a book or on the internet.
This week’s task was to select a street nearby, within 1 or 2 miles from where I live. Document it, explore it, evidence it and come up with something unique to that street.
Then, to present my interpretation of my street in the media and format of my choice.
The street I chose was ‘Pardown’ which is a couple of roads away from where I live in Oakley. ‘Pardown’ is one long country lane that leads to a farm at the end. All the houses are on one side only and they are set quite far back off the road. There is no street lighting along this road (compared to the rest of the village) so it makes it quite hard to see which house is which when driving along.
I took a walk in the rain along ‘Pardown’ to see what I could see, hoping to notice things that perhaps I wouldn’t necessarily see when driving in my car.
Most houses are unique in style – no two homes are the same. And, as I walked along, I began to notice that because the houses are set back off the road, the homeowners have added little distinguishing marks to either help visitors identify their homes or just to give a hint of personality about the house and/or homeowner.
With this is mind, I began to photograph these marks and think about how I could create a design that would be helpful for visitors.
I had an idea to design a business card, whereby, I could have a little map of Oakley on the front, along with the address and a photo of the ‘Pardown’ signpost, which you see as you turn into the road.
On the back of the business card, would be the image of the distinguishing mark that would help the visitor recognise the house as they drove down the country road, during the day but also at night-time.
Each business card is individual to each house.
In summary, this week has been great to look at how many different designers and artists view the world around them. To see that there is beauty in normal life and the everyday objects, if you are willing to take the time to actually look. That most items we use or buy have in some way, been designed. Someone has taken the time to come up with an idea and made it. Do we always notice them or do they get ignored?
It was interesting to think about how a lot of the information we receive or images we see are from other people’s perspective. That actually if we want to really experience something for ourselves, we should go and see whatever it is, for real.
As John Berger says ‘We get so much information. There is no better way than seeing something for yourself, seeing the beauty in the every day.’
Edwards, Susanna, Looking, Seeing & Capturing. 2020. GDE710 for MA Graphic Design. Falmouth University.
Image – Michelangelo’s David https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_(Michelangelo) Last accessed 1st November 2020
Image – Stonehenge https://www.history.com/topics/british-history/stonehenge Last accessed 1st November 2020