Initial ideas on self, portraits and body politics


Conducting research: Interview


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 As I missed Mondays session, to catch up with what they did the best that I could, I conducted an interview with my boyfriend relating to the theme of mental health within young males because I wanted to find out more from the subject I plan to photographs perspective. The answers are shown above, I got him to write his answers down too so I could refer back to them. The questions I asked included:

  •  Why do you feel there's pressure on boys to not show emotion or talk about how they feel?
  •  What do you think could be done to end the stigma surrounding mental health?
  •  When do you feel vulnerable?
  •  Have you or your friends struggled with voicing their problems?
  •  Did that make you re-think how you may deal with your own problems?
  • What do you do to take your mind off things?

After listening to his thoughts and answers, I latched onto the third answer about his own experiences with vulnerability. "I feel most vulnerable usually when I'm on my own, it's often after a good day with mates when you are coming down off of a busy day. You can feel polar opposite to how you were, it's when you're on your own that you begin to think deeply. And when it's just you and your thoughts that's when you feel vulnerable."

What story do you want to tell? What/who is your subject?

Mental health within young males; how because of gender stereotypes, boys are expected to be the tough ones and brush off their feelings.

My first thoughts in relation to his response, were to create a series of photographs of a group of boys, following their day, linking in with what some may say are gender stereotypical 'boyish' activities, but also what they chose to do so it's personal to them still, not me telling them what to do. It would be set in their local area, include photos of them skating, messing around, exploring, getting food etc, just following what they do and showing them enjoy each others company naturally. Then after this, I would go back to each of their rooms and take individual shots of them, which would show another side of them that's often suppressed and hidden, alone with their thoughts, showing them when they are at their most vulnerable. 

Casting - Zach (boyfriend), Jim (friend), Jack (Zach's friend who I barely know) - I want to experiment with photographing people I know on different levels. 

Location - Out and about in their local area, Stockwell and in their own spaces, bedrooms (personal to each of them)

Pose & Props - Group shots and individual; natural, up close and personal. Make use of items in bedroom such as bed, chair, desk and light sources.

Lighting - experiment with different light sources such as lights in the room, phone/laptop screens and natural lighting.




 After relaying my ideas with my tutor and other students during my tutorial, I had overall positive and helpful feedback. It was decided I focus on experimentation with light sources in the individual shots by being sat in the dark looking at a screen, or having another kind of light source reflecting on the face of the model. The individual shots would be close ups and images showing the environment they are in; making use of the bedroom, the bed in particular as it's a place people often stay in if they are feeling deflated, depressed or anxious. Another important idea we identified is that because I don't know 2/3 of the people I plan to cast, that I spend the day with them, taking the individual photos of them last so they feel more comfortable in mine and the cameras presence by the end of the day.



WEDNESDAY 13/11/19

Test shoot - experimentation with light sources





Best images:



These are my favourite outcomes from my first shoot, using my boyfriend Zach as my model. I experimented using different light sources within his room, such as a red lamp, video camera light and tv, phone and laptop screens to make his face the lightest part of the image. I like the compositions of the photos, and plan to edit them to enhance the colours and contrast. I found this shoot difficult because my camera didn't go to a low enough aperture for how dark the lighting in the room was, the lowest it went to was 4.8, and because I set the ISO to the highest setting (1600) both of these issues effected the quality of the images. Also, I didn't have a tripod, so it was difficult getting the camera completely still to take the photos, and when I leant it on surfaces instead of a tripod, it made it awkward to get the angles I wanted. Since this shoot I have got a new camera, so I want to try this digital shoot again with that and also a tripod to see if I can get better outcomes.

Outcomes - edited using photoshop & light room (see more on digital outcomes page)

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 I feel that these two images reflect the theme of mental health within young males well because in the first photo is quite an intimate shot, it's close up and the model looks deflated and tired, or as if he's wiping away a tear (trying not to show his feelings because of society's stigma around mental health, specially within boys). The second is of the model in his bed looking at a screen solemnly; this could be showing how detrimental social media can be mentally not only to girls but young men too. To edit these images, I used photoshop and lightroom.

Although it was difficult, I liked trying out the dark lighting, and am happy with the edited outcomes, but want to attempt this shoot again.

THURSDAY 14/11/12 - SHOOT 2

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I feel that these three photos are my best outcomes because when I look at them they feel quite intimate, and the boys look vulnerable. I like the compositions of these photos and the colours that using film gives. I like how I have used each of the boys bedrooms as location for each shot because that's the place many people stay in if they are feeling down. I feel that because they are close ups, it's like you know the boys on a more personal level, the first photo in particular and I think that's because as he's my boyfriend, I know him so well so that one is the most intimate. The first photo is unedited however I slightly desaturated and edited using photoshop and lightroom on the second to make it less of a warm colour and sharpened it too. The third I only straightened and cropped.










Moodboard on self, portraits and body politics made up of practitioners work mentioned on the project brief that I liked and researched, as well as others. Including photography by Julie Greve, Rhea Dillon, Campbell Addy, Rosie Matheson,        ,        ,       ,




By observing the way the body moves in different spaces and situations you will use moving image and either documentary or staged performance to construct a narrative.

Initial ideas -

When i first read the brief for week 3s film and the moving body project brief, I instantly thought of the theme of dance and the body in motion. I wanted to relate it to an aspect of dance I am interested in so i chose the rave scene.

After watching Maya Deren's A Study in Choreography for the Camera, instead of just filming someone dancing, I had a vision of choreographing filming someone expressing themselves and how they chose to move through dance by filming their shadow or silhouettes within a studio set up. I have picked the rave scene as a focus because if you were to visit a rave, it is a very expressive environment with many people doing all kinds of crazy dance moves, as seen in two of my favourite photographers works; Ewen Spencer and David Swindell, I love how they have captured the passion and expressive environment throughout the 90s rave scene.

My plan to do this is using the studio environment with a plain background so the video focuses on the movement of the person I chose to cast for my video. I want to cast my boyfriend Zach, someone who is familiar with this subculture and the genres of music within the rave scene including drum and bass, jungle and garage so that they will feel comfortable when dancing/moving in the video. This way, the outcome wont be too staged/choreographed and hopefully show natural movement. I want to play these genres of music when filming and then once I edit it I will put a song over the video. I plan to style them in vintage designer brands that are associated with the rave scene such as Moschino, Versace, and Nike as the colours and patterns are vibrant and sometimes crazy to look at, which will help represent the expressiveness of movement through dance.

 Silhouette lighting diagram:

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 When going down to check out the studio for filming, I found myself a bit stuck. The lighting was too bright and flat to create a silhouette and video I wanted to achieve overall. I couldn't move the lights around freely as they were attached to the walls. I brought this up in conversation during my tutorial, I decided it was best to switch to filming at a location rather than a studio environment.

Progressing from this, I started to think further into the idea of taking dance and movement out of context, and place it somewhere it isn't supposed to be. However, I still wanted to film in a darker environment and experiment with lighting and shadows. Therefore, I relocated to filming the model dance under a street lamp in an urban environment. I liked the idea of the grungey vibe this would give as the rave scene is often thought of as quite a dark subculture.


Sketch plan:

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As shown in my sketches, I plan to film separate videos for each part of the body that is moving; this includes a zoomed out shot of his full body and street lamp, then shadow of his body moving, also focusing on different areas of the body whilst they are moving like his feet/legs, torso, and upper body/head. This way I can also incorporate the clothing. Once all are filmed, I will assess the videos and when editing male it cut to these details


Set up BTS:










Editing Process:











MONDAY 04/11/19

As a starting point for our interactive communication design we got given a quote, this being "So on the twelfth I proudly wear the sash my father wore" (A traditional protest song from the Orange Order parade).

We felt that the quote conveyed a strong sense of community brought on by family, tradition and pride within the relationships, for example fathers and sons.

Initially we began exploring the idea of using a family tree to mirror this bond on a larger scale, looking at how we are connected to our family through names. After more time thinking how we could make our design more interactive than just writing names on a bit of paper to create the shape of a family tree, we started to think about traditional games we would play with our family as children such as Scrabble. Scrabble is a childhood game I play with my family around times of celebration such as Christmas, it's like a tradition. As well as bringing the family together, it is a game passed on down through generations.

In order to test this idea out, we cut out lots of squares of paper and wrote letters on them, put some in a bag and spread the rest out on the table to make it easier for the audience to find the letters they needed. We then started off the interaction ourselves using our own names, 'Taryn' and 'Olivia'. For the real thing, we have ordered 500 scrabble letters to make sure there's enough for the audience to use to see how big the collection of names can get.


 Audience - The audience will be asked to find the letters that make up either their name or a family members name on the table using scrabble letters. So we can collect a bit more information from them, they will also be asked to answer three questions on a card given to them; their name, the relation of whoever's name they chose and why they picked them. Our interactive piece will be 2 Dimensional however it is also performative as the audience plays a part in completing it - will it ever be completed though?

Materials - scrabble letters, a table, foamboard, pens, cards, camera and tripod to document. 

Location - We have chosen our site to be at CSM Kings Cross as its a fairly busy public place where people will have time to stop what they're doing to interact and also we need a table to put it on so we are going to use the ping pong table inside there.

Participants - we start it off ourselves using our names, then one of us is in charge of filming whilst the other asks people to join in and gives them the cards. 

What does the audience get/take away from it?

A family connection, thinking about relatives, realisation that we are all one big family and also a sense of community and coming together, whilst also having a simple and fun experience.

How will you document your interactive communication?

We will document our interactive communication by using a camera and tripod to record from overhead, then create a stopmotion / timelapse video of peoples hands moving the letters around to make the names connect. This way the documentation process is less intimidating as their faces wont be filmed. We will also photograph the final outcome without any of the audience in it.



 TUESDAY 05/11/19 - Tutorial 

 Notes from our tutorial:

  •  create idea on a bigger scale by using a lot real scrabble letters instead of paper.
  •  instead of using phone and a self made tripod to document our design, use a camera with a wider lens and borrow a tripod from csm loan store.
  •  after editing and putting the video together, add the quote at the start of the video and credits at the end along with the date and location.
  •  on the cards we give out  to people to find out more about them and the connection between the relative's name they have chosen, ask for their name, relatives name, relation and why they picked them.
  • Research artists



After our tutorial, we felt that we were able to clarify our final plans for Thursday and refined our idea on how to document the interaction. Initially, I had suggested we videoed the process by making an overhead tripod ourselves that I learnt how to do during part one of the course, by using two same sized bottles and some foamboard so we could place our phone on it and record everyone’s hands taking part in our design. However, during the tutorial we came to realisation that this wasn’t going to record a big enough area of the design, so we came to the conclusion that we would rent a tripod from the loan store and use one of our cameras to ensure that it would reach high enough above the table to include our entire design and the people taking part in it. 

We also discussed taking our final outcome further by transferring a final image of all the connected names and putting it onto a garment such as a scarf or t-shirt, to represent the starting point in which our design came from – the original quote "So on the twelfth I proudly wear the sash my father wore". Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to do this, so we decided to link it back by putting the quote at the start of the video. However, putting it onto an item of clothing is something I may come back to.



 Session notes:


- Communication among groups, organisations - underground map

- "Between people and between machine operation and human interaction action that occurs as two or more objects that have an effect on one another"

- Cybernetic system:  the scientific study of control between animal and machine.

- DROOG DESIGN: product design, preventing interaction fence into a table tennis table is a playful approach.

  •  The 2 artists / designers they were particularly interested in from the presentation
  •  What did you discover about the potential for the interaction in design? 

 Practitioners whose work informs / relates to your approach to the 'Interact' project

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Jodi, OXO - 2018

Based on the game noughts and crosses, OXO is an interactive multichannel installation influenced by the earliest graphical computer game, first developed in 1952 by Alexander Douglas. “JODI’s installation responds to this early history of computing, war games, and artificial intelligence, thinking through the game tic-tac-toe as a combination of the power of artificial intelligence and ad serving. 5478 different game positions are possible and the corresponding board number is displayed as a default advertisement. OXO features nine digital panels that each show a different game together with four structures, each with a keypad corresponding to a standard tic-tac-toe grid, inviting visitors to select where to place their Xs and Os.”

This installation gets the audience to interact with common games and concepts they are already accustomed to but are instead presented in a more complex artistic fashion and, presented in a gallery setting, are elevated to more sophisticated art piece. In similar fashion to our interaction, JODI's interpretation of a classic game invites the public to engage in a slightly different way to the one they have previously experienced: remotely controlling the game from custom keypads placed on top of striking wooden plinths and watching it develop a few feet away on a screen.




Studio The Greenely - Appeel

An analogue creative interaction where people are invited to remove one or more of the thousands of coloured stickers placed in a grid moving the installation in new directions. Is termed a “game without rules” where the stickers embody and emanate a call to be removed; therefore, successfully engaging with its audience. In order for the artwork to be completed, there is a necessity for audience participation, not just focused on letter making and forming patterns out of the dots but the decision-making process as a whole: where the stickers are subsequently placed once they are removed. Our game of Scrabble worked in a similar fashion, there were few rules and without the audience's engagement there would simply be no final design. Referenced in the film by Peter Hall for "ASPECT — The Chronicle of new Media Art", which analysed this piece, there was a reference to the Italian author Umberto Eco.  Here, Appeel is referred to as an “Open Work”, a term first used by Eco, which relates to the vital individual performance of each member of the audience in such interactive pieces.  As the “author offers the interpreter, the performer, the addressee a work to be completed”, it necessary for the viewers to interact with the work or else it will remain entirely stagnant and futile in conveying its message. In our communicative design, the piece too would not have been a success in translating our message of family connection and cohesion without it being an ‘Open Work’. I considered how, if the names were picked purely by us (the designers) from a cohort of people we know personally; although the selection could be diverse, the ultimate concept of unifying total strangers in a collaborative piece wouldn’t have been achieved.

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Martine Syms - Everything I've Ever Wanted To Know

Collected all of her google searches and none of the terms linked anywhere - could tell her interests but nothing more. It is very much like a diary with alphabetical entries of Syms’ thoughts and questions but none are contextualised or are followed up with answers. With some of the searches being familiar to my own search history and others more obscure, it is telling of how each person has built up a colossal catalogue of detailed information about their interests and lives. From searches ranging from “Spanish classes” and consumer goods to those which include the names of cities the artist is visiting, the long list acts gives an insight into the wealth of information technology companies hold from every one of its users. This excessive data surrounding our ambitions, buying habits and even our exact location at any given time shows how each individual is mercilessly tracked and targeted. As almost 3.5 billion Google searches are made every day, it is interesting to see how so many people interact with search engines and it is often perceived as a one way exchange: when the user benefits from receiving an answer, the impact of simultaneous data collection is disregarded - Google earns £45 million a day from advertising revenue on searches. When looking into Syms' work I was reminded of this concept of internet searches and tracking being used in a similar way in a piece exhibited at Somerset House in 24/7 A Wake-Up Call For Our Non-Stop World. The installation 'Beacon', a piece which displays real time searches on a railway flap sign, shares the same communicative properties as 'EVERYTHING I’VE EVER WANTED TO KNOW'


Roman Ondak - Measuring the Universe

Created on the walls of the Tate St Ives, this "constellation of measurements" written in black ink was created on the wall using the height data from over 90,000 participants. In a reflection of our interconnectivity and the physical space which we all occupy this piece is entirely composed of the public’s personal information. In our own exploration of the connections we have with one another, it is this use of personal information collated and combined into one it communicates a message of unity. 


Designed by Dorota Grabkowska for the Birmingham Made Me Design Expo (15-22th June 2012) at the Mailbox, Commissioned by the Idea Birmingham And Birmingham City University, this installation was created to provide an interactive experience for visiting members of the public. Each coloured string provided had its own significance: for instance, happiness or anger, and through weaving the threads around the labelled pins the piece told the story of the participants, anonymously detailing their thoughts on a variety of subjects.


Contextual Practice Reflection:


Firstly, I have discovered that the use interaction in design has the ability to entice the audience and hook them onto the concept being communicated to, especially when they need to give something of themselves to the piece. For instance, when attending the 24/7 thing I found the most beautiful and gripping installations were those which needed the participation of the audience to complete and bring a new dimension to the work. Such work included from Hallelujah 

Interactive designs also catalyse a greater dissemination of the idea or concept presented by the artist or designers. The works' ideas and components are often spread rather rapidly: for instance, when I researched the interactive Appeel project it was interesting to discover the wider impact made by a single art installation. The stickers used in the piece left the gallery space with the audience members who chose to stick the orange dots on themselves. According to Peter Hall, this was a representation of a person's new artistic status in the stickers' resemblance to those used by art dealer’s for auctions. When leaving the exhibition, the dots will travel with them to other areas of the country and even back to the visitor’s home countries across the globe. If the piece is poignant and most importantly personal to the participant, interactive works have a wider audience, increased in numbers through the audience's impulse to share their experience through the use of photography and social media. The vast quantity of social media posts of people’s unique colourful shadows at Olafur Eliasson’s ‘In Real Life’ is a testament to the power of this ability to promote a 'personalised' installation instantly.


We began with creating the pitch and then went on to produce the poster which was not as successful as I would have liked largely due to our lack of drawing materials on the day. It helped to fully concentrate on the instructions I would want to give people in order for them to participate in the piece - pitching the same details to the class enabling them to fully understand the design too. Communication of the instructions I wrote on the A3 visualisation allowed me to know what exactly should be written on the posters to attract people to interact with our design



Images & reflections

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We found that the location we chose for our interactive communication design, which was inside the entrance of CSM in Kings Cross was a good choice because the public were responsive, with many members joining in and taking the time to interact, with three people taking a photograph of our design including their name and one even including the set up. I felt that the design became more moving for both the participant and secondary audience when reading the messages left on the card, and some passing on those photographs to the members of their family whose names they picked, showing them how they included that person in our design. One of our participants went on to place the card next to where he put his name, took a photo and sent it to his sister that the message on the card was about how she was soon to be married. Therefore, I feel that by including their names in the public family tree, our design was successful in provoking a reflection of the connection between the participants themselves and the family member they chose to include – a reflection of their family’s thoughtful recognition of them.

 On the other hand, I feel that to improve our design further we would ask for the participants to only use a family member's name because many people used their own names which led to the cards not being filled out properly as they didn't really have a reason behind why they chose to include themselves.

Also, throughout the day a member of public was upset that we were using one of the table tennis tables as a surface for our design, and after explaining that we weren't going to be there all day and were recording the design for a uni project, she still wanted us to move so we had to move our design onto another table and put it all back into place which messed up the process of recording it (that's why in the video the location clearly changes half way through).


We also used a poster with simple instructions on to help encourage people to interact with our design. We printed and stuck it on each side of the table so people from all angles were able to see.



A photo documenting the final outcome of the participants names/one of their family members names that I will edit and upload to my digital outcomes page.



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