Exhibition Visit: Big Bang Data

Originally feeling quite apprehensive about visiting the Big Bang Data exhibition, I soon found myself engrossed and almost hypnotised by the amount of information being fed to me.

The installation that resonated with, and visually struck me the most was a series of three images presented above three quite violent looking object in a display cabinet. The three images showed three different people wearing these objects on their faces. These ‘Face Cages’ were created by the artist Zach Blas and are based on how surveillance devices gather biometric information. This method of gathering data is used my most facial recognition devices and instantly reminded me of the smartphone application I regularly use, ‘Snapchat’ which uses the same method.

The objects are quite complex in their design and almost reminded me of something from a spy thriller, essentially being a way of hiding ones identity and becoming invisible to surveillance. The objects appear as a modernised version of early 9th century Viking helmets and masks. They instantly connote a feeling of battle and protection, a sort of armour to combat the attack of the digital age.

Another concept that I discovered and that really caught my attention was a prototype of a possible future product that will allow people to purchase and have a physical copy of their privacy rights for their devices. For example, a workout accessory that is worn that collects data such as your heart rate, where and how fast you have run and amount of calories burnt etc. the product will allow people to select how much (if any) data they wish to share and have recorded and used by corporations. With this becoming a very important issue, as current websites and organisations use and record data constantly from almost all of our connected devices without our permission, this is a very plausible solution to a problem that is likely to arise in the near future.

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Overall the exhibition was very eye-opening and drew attention to many issues that I was aware existed but not to what extent. Although a couple of the installations were slightly bias they highlighted some very important issues that are very rarely spoken about and should be made open knowledge.

Future Brands//Brand Futures

During this lecture we focused on brands and how they might evolve and develop in the future. Brands are constantly and continuously developing to ensure their consumers remain involved with the brand and that the brand remains in line with ever changing laws and guidelines. As well as this, emerging technologies and platforms such a e-commerce, 3D printing, nanotechnology and crowd funding are all having an impact on how brands operate and how they will develop in the future.

After a certain amount of controversy the budget high street fashion brand Primark released their most recent business strategy in late November 2012. The ‘style-subscriber’ concept allows Primark’s customers to ‘buy in to the latest fashions through a flexible, affordable wardrobe. Choosing items from monthly collections and keeping them for as long as they want’ (Dragon Rogue, 2012). This business strategy allows customers to return items and swap them as many times as they wish. The idea being that the returned clothing would be either resold or up-cycled in to current and new-season items.

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The intentions behind this business plan are to increase the sustainability of the brand and improve the user experience for the consumers. However, there are some major flaws that myself and my peers drew light upon during the lecture, the main one being the ability for people to return any (worn) item as many times as they want. This will inevitably lead to customers returning items frequently resulting in the brand losing profit. The up-cycling claim also made us question how exactly fabric from one garment can be changed into another as denim and cotton  for example cannot be un-woven. it is clear that Primark have a preferable vision of the future of their brand and have not been realistic enough to position these projections in the probable future.

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The second example we looked at was ‘Urban Upholstery’ a contemporary independent brand that focuses on taking old pieces of damaged or abandoned furniture and renovating them to create contemporary and stylish pieces, of what can be considered art. The way this brand is presented is immediately more welcoming and realistic, the footage shows the process clearly and displays the finished pieces, proving that the process works and is successful. “We get to know a lot of people because we’ve got a business here, and everybody has been really nice” (Urban Upholstery. Skip saved style, 2015) As well as carrying out a successful process, the upholstery also acts as a community cohesion tool, being a local business created and run by local people. Not only are they boosting the local economy but they are also clearing the surrounding areas of discarded furniture where fly tipping is an issue.

These are two very clear examples of brands focusing their developments on a preferable future and a probable future. Two different takes on sustainability, one being much more plausible than the other.

When does the future start?

Forecasting Futures – Week 2

This introduction to forecasting futures opened with the idea we have of the future and how we define the future. The main focus was on how our perception has changed and evolved along with civilisation and our views on the future today.

The theme of time appears frequently throughout ancient history. The early utopian thoughts focused more on the future being an alternate reality rather than a more developed version of the same reality. Therefore suggesting the same time but a different place. However by the end of the 18th century, people’s perception of the future changed as they began to picture a more advanced version of their reality, Same place but a different time. This made me start to question how one would define time. Is it a matter of opinion and views or can it be defined and measured by unit?

Early civilisation started to use various events and changes in nature to mark and measure the change in time. For example, the change in light throughout a day and the movement of the moon. Over longer time frames they also started to notice and record changes in tide heights and weather patterns, eventually leading to the creation of seasons. From this new information, civilisation was able to create the calendar. Perhaps the most famous example being the calendar created by the Mayan’s, a complex system of calendars that claimed to also be able to predict future events as well as the highly speculated ‘doomsday’ which appears throughout history and religion in many different shapes and forms.

“When does the future begin?”

During the lecture, we began to think about how we measure time and our perception of the future. We were all asked the question “when does the future start?” To me, this was a very simple question, as for me the future includes anything that is about to happen, this could be from the next five minutes down to the next millisecond. I also see anything that has just happened, down to the last millisecond, to be in the past. A constantly moving a very precise linear system.To my surprise, people’s view of the future was significantly different, with some seeing the future in blocks of time such as activities that are taking place that day. Some of my fellow peers also viewed the future being the next five to ten years.

After this insight we took part in a workshop, in which we were required to produce our own visual representation of time, a timeline. However this did not have to be in a linear form like many timelines. I processed my perceptions of the future and created the following diagram.

 

Possible Futures

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

Subvertising

The ‘6 degrees of Kevin Bacon’ theory suggests every person is connected by a minimum of six stages of separation to Kevin Bacon. This is based on the concept ‘six degrees of separation’ set out by the author Frigyes Karinthy, suggesting that everyone is connected to everyone and everything in six steps or fewer. Using this concept as a structure, we were given the task of researching the term ‘subvertising’, a task worth while, being a term I was un-familiar with.

My first destination on this separation journey was a Google search result. This is the only point in my research that I have a choice of which direction I want my research to go, for this reason I wanted to make a choice that would force me to take a path from reliable sources. Of course, the first result that Google gave me was from Wikipedia, a site that on a whole is a useful resource but something I wanted to steer away from with this subject. The result that instantly appealed to me was an article from the Independent titled ‘Branding: Street artist hijack billboards for ‘subvertising campaign’’ I found that the article contextualised the concept as well as offering a number of different resources to continue my research.

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The article in addition included views and quotes from people’s Titter accounts in response to the activity, such as “Hooray! More of this” and “I love an intelligent response to advertising”. After introducing the organisation ‘Brandalism’ the article provided a link to their website, becoming the third link in my point of separation. by this point in my investigation I was already very clear on the term subvertising but was also becoming familiar with another similar concept, brandalism. Located on the brandalism site is a Twitter feed with tweets containing the brandalism hashtag. One of these tweets directed me to the next point of separation, a tweet containing a link to an event (Ad brake 1 Year to Launch Event, 2015)

The event then directed me to the Ad Brake site, yet another campaigning group involved in targeting and combating mainstream advertising. Much like brandalism, the organisation focuses very much on encouraging people to be active in the war against advertising. This research method has been very beneficial for this task as it has enabled me to understand how and why people are so passionate about combating advertising. The six degrees of separation have taken me through organisations, articles and events, each of which I am able to link back to my starting point.

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1st point of separation: ‘Subertising’  www.google.com/subertising

2nd point of separation: The Independent (2012) Brandalism: Street artists hijack billboards for ‘subvertising campaign’. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/brandalism-street-artists-hijack-billboards-for-subvertising-campaign-7953151.html (Accessed: 24 November 2015)

3rd point of separation: Brandalism (2012) Available at: http://www.brandalism.org.uk/resources (Accessed 24 November 2015)

4th point of separation: Eventbrite (2015) Ad brake 1 Year to Launch Event Available at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ad-brake-1-year-to-launch-event-tickets-18882742792 (Accessed: 24 November 2015)

5th point of separation: Ad Break (2014) Available at: https://www.facebook.com/Ad-Brake-1538856046358064 (Accessed 24 November 2015)

6th point of separation: Adbreak (2015) Available at: http://adbrake.org.uk (Accessed: 24 November 2015)

Case Study: London 2012 Olympic Games

“If there was to be a legacy… it would need the support of more than a logo. It would need a brand” Wolff Olins (2012)

The quote given by Wolff Olins themselves, when confronted with the task of branding  the 2012 London Olympic games. The task of branding an event and location, as stated, is something far more complex than simply creating a logo. Wolff Olins would have to take in to consideration that the public’s patriotism was a very significant part of the project, an aspect many of us thought they got wrong.

The controversial branding approach saw Wolff Olins create a logo that some feel didn’t represent London in any way. Some even referring to the font and fact that the word ‘London’ was displayed in lowercase as a “disgrace” (‘Oh no’ logo, 2007)

 

Wolff Olins (2012) London 2012 Available at: http://www.wolffolins.com/work/47/london-2012 (Accessed: 18 November 2015)

BBC News (2007) ‘Oh no’ logo Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6719805.stm (Accessed: 18 November 2015)

Visit: Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertisi

Upon walking in to The Museum of Brands & Packaging, you find yourself transported back in time, walking along the time line of display cabinets, which start from the late 1800 to today. Apart from the obvious difference in the historical aesthetics of products and advertising, it really struck me how similar the methods that brands and organisations are to the methods used today. The cosmetics company Olay, previously known as Oil of Ulay possessed the same, minimalistic and high-end approach to their packaging in the fifties. Using a soft tonal range of colours and no imagery, the brand managed to promote a high end luxury brand, freely available to the wealthy but also acting as an aspirational product for the not so wealthy.

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In the main exhibition space, the first thing that struck me was the lack of colour and a vibrance from one of the cabinets, that the rest of the space seemed to have. It was the cabinet displaying the decade in which World War II took place and the time period in which rationing was introduced, perfectly displaying how much of an impact the war had on consumerism, advertising and brands themselves. Brands were almost completely restricted in what they could produce and this was reflected in their packaging. Basic supplies such as butter and sugar only being available as own brand products were packaged in very minimal containers, featuring no image and a small amount of text describing the contents and more importantly the amount. The materials used were also very cheap, often boxes made of very thin card or small fabric bags.

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Brands that use a clear and niche message or theme in their products have been able to keep them the same for the past 50+ years. For example, the cereal brand Kellogg’s have used the theme of Tony the tiger for their frosted flakes since their early growth in the fifties. Although it has been developed and moved forward, with the tag line “they’re gr-r-reat” being created. Using a tiger as their visual identity has been strong enough to allow them to use this right up until today. It’s clear, walking in to the museum that consumerism has forced different brand’s advertising and packaging today to become part of their product, aesthetically pleasing, sturdy and often carrying a strong narrative or ideology, causing people to buy into the brand and not just the product.

Today’s a Myth

‘Myth is not defined by the object of it’s message, but by the way in which it utters this message’ (Barthes. R, 1957)

Today’s lecture opened with an example given by Barthes, a rose. As an object the rose is ‘passionified’ we associate it with passion, love and affection. However we do not need the image of a red rose to know it’s signified. Here, myth groups together the signifier and the signified to create the sign, causing the rose to instantly connote love, passion and lust. Essentially implying that the sign is equal to the ‘thing’ plus the meaning, using myth as a mode of signification.

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This Old Spice advertising campaign is an example of a brand using very obvious and clear signifiers, the main ones being the location, the horse and the model. They are all presented as ideals here, causing the image to look incredibly constructed, so much so that it becomes comical. Alongside the overuse of signifiers, the image also uses some advanced techniques. The product it’s self is positioned in line with the horizon, immediately capturing attention. It is also positioned very close to the models face, combined with the direct mode of address this causes the audience to become involved in the text. The text shown at the top of the image ‘Smell like a man, man.’ is somewhat juxtaposed with the models stance, his almost side facing body and his hand resting on his hip connotes a certain femininity.

Relating this image back to Bathes theory, each of the components in this image, if separated, would not define or communicate the message intended here, but when combined, each component utters the intended message. Another, very extreme, but clear example of this is the Nazi Swastika, the image it’s self is almost meaningless, previously used as the Hindu symbol of peace. However seeing the image causes us to immediately associate it with genocide, violence, death and Nazi’s. The symbol still has such a strong message attached to it that the use of it within design is still highly unethical.

Brand Me! – Branding Choices 1st Workshop

In the first of a series of workshops and lectures, we were given the task of branding our newest lecturer, Sarah Snaith. A task which, at first sounded near on impossible. Branding a person you’ve only had the chance to meet for around three minutes. However, after an initial bit of thought, became less challenging. Instantly taking a visual approach, As a small group we decided it would be appropriate to give her a visual identity or logo. After looking at Sarah and asking her a few questions we soon came up with the idea of using her glasses and a visual code for her. Combined with the use of the letter ‘S’, a quick mock up sketch looked like this.

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It soon became apparent, after viewing the other group’s interpretations of the task that we had been very short sighted in our thought process, realising that the visual aspect of a brand merely scratches the surface of what a brand is. The one result that really stood out for me is the group that turned Sarah in to a business like description/proposal. By taking the few bits of information they had managed to get from Sarah they objectified them and presented them in relation to a functioning business setup. For example, describing the business as originating in Canada (where Sarah is originally from), being fast paced and economically conscious, both characteristics Sarah said she has.

After seeing how differently the other group interpreted the task made me realise that a brand doesn’t have to have any visual aspects at all, in fact after hearing the business proposal in the way it was written, it created an even more vivid image in my imagination than the ambiguous, superhero like icon that we had created. Looking back to my previous project from last year this first workshop reminded me that a brand is closer to a ‘being’ or and energy, with values, beliefs and intentions that all combine to create something far more complex than just a logo and a tag line.

Presentation on Essay Title

Presentation

‘How does the Simulated Space and/or a Non-Space space alter our identity?’

This essay question appealed to me instantly as it was very similar to the Genius loci project we were doing in studio. The concept of spaces and non-spaces is a familiar subject and is one of the more abstract questions. The reading list and textual examples that Greta gave us stood out to me and instantly gained my interest. I am eager to explore this topic further.

I need to ensure that I answer the question given, to do this I will make sure I focus on how the spaces alter our identity looking at the effect they have rather than defining them. I will be looking at textual examples given by Greta and also finding some of my own taking the subject into my own hands and exploring outside of the examples given.

After completing the last studio project I am hoping to gain further insight into the conceptual. This will enable my work in the future will be more conceptually based and contain more substance and depth.

Alongside the examples given to us by Greta I started to think about some other concepts and texts I could investigate to help me answer this essay question. The world of gaming came to mind instantly, RPG games focus on transporting the player to a simulated space. Games such as SecondLife take this concept to the extreme.

Jean B, Dystopian concept of what is real or not. I want to delve deeper into the concept of a dystopian reality, looking at different views of dystopia and how it contrasts with reality as well as the idea of utopia.