Reading Visual Communication

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Project 2: Encountering Time - A Critical Analysis, Research & Reflection

We are constantly ‘reading’ things to gather meaning. There are theories about how this works.

Structuralism

This was developed in the 1950s and suggested that human culture can be understood through structures like language. This was challenged by the later post-structuralists who acknowledged bias and the possibility of multiple interpretations.

Rene Magritte (1898-1967)

By Image taken from a University of Alabama site, “Approaches to Modernism”

The Treachery of Images (Magritte, 1929) was a set of images with an oil painting of an object like the pipe and the phrase “This is not a pipe” underneath. It represents a contradiction in what a painting is, it is both the object and not the object at the same time as it is only a visual representation of it. The painting ultimately reflects on the nature of language, drawing attention to the structure of signs we generally take for granted.

Semiotics

Semiotics is how signs are constructed and interpreted.

A sign is a signifier (the form of the sign) and the signified (the concept it represents). Many items are used symbolically to represent a concept, for example, crowns signify royalty. This is something that fascinates me as some things can be very representative of culture and may have different meanings in different communities and can change across time. For example, pigs. Pigs in ancient Celtic times represented abundance. In the Chinese zodiac, the pig represents honesty and determination, and children born under this zodiac are considered fortunate. Some cultures, however, view pigs as the opposite.

Denotation and Conotation

  • Denotation describes what can be seen and its literal interpretation (e.g. a piece of fruit called an apple).
  • Connotation describes the possible meanings that are suggested by the literal elements (e.g. in a Renaissance painting, an apple might symbolise temptation).

The Road – Cormac McCarthy Notes

Books & reading, Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 2: Encountering Time - A Critical Analysis, Research & Reflection

The Road is a 2006 post-apocalyptic novel by American writer Cormac McCarthy. The book details the gruelling journey of a father and his young son over a period of several months across a landscape blasted by an unspecified cataclysm that has destroyed industrial civilization and almost all life.

“He pushed the cart and both he and the boy carried knapsacks. In the
knapsacks were essential things in case they had to abandon the cart and make a run for it. Clamped to the handle of the cart was a chrome
motorcycle mirror that he used to watch the road behind them. He shifted the pack higher on his shoulders and looked out over the wasted country. The road was empty. Below in the little valley the still grey serpentine of a river. Motionless and precise. Along the shore a burden of dead reeds. Are you okay? He said. The boy nodded. They set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire.”

McCarthy (2006) p.4.

Why do we read texts that may leave us feeling wrung out or upset?

I think that this is a huge question that searches deep within the human psyche and is the same reason why people watch soaps like Eastenders with its daily dose of depression. Emotions of all kinds, positive and negative are what make us human. No other species seems to have the same extent and intensity of emotions as what we do. Feeling wrung out and upset connects us to other humans. I think there also could be a deal of it reminding us what the positives are in our own lives that we are to be grateful for.

Narration Types

The Road (McCarthy, 2006) uses a detached narrator, also called an omniscient narrator which is one that sees it all. The narrator builds the intrigue in the story by not giving us all the details at once, although they see everything, they make the story have suspense by not telling us it all.

Question Prompts

‘He’, the man, and ‘the boy’ are nameless. Why? Does their anonymity change the way we feel about the characters? Can we still care about them without names? Do they still have an identity without a name?

Names are such an important part of personal identity that it is difficult to identify them as actual people without one. However, this adds impact to the story here as these characters could be anyone, including people we know and love, or even ourselves. It gives an open-ended yet inviting nature to them and helps to include us in the story. In everyday events that we see, we don’t always know peoples’ names, but we can still relate to them as humans.

How can we tell they’re in danger? Are they fleeing danger or do they expect to encounter it along the way? What sort of danger? Human? Animal? Elemental?

There are clues in the narrative that they are in danger without it explicitly saying so. The fact they have essential items with them in an easy to move vessel, they aren’t just out for a stroll, they anticipate needing some equipment and they may need to run with it. They are also using the mirror to watch the road in what seems a nervous way. The dialogue between them seems nervous too, with the only question being “are you okay”, there is no room for small talk. We know from the description of the surroundings that there is ash, implying a disaster, maybe a volcano eruption? The country is described as “wasted” and “empty” implying some kind of event has taken place leaving the world in ruins. We are left to guess the cause of this.

The chrome motorcycle mirror tells us the time is roughly contemporary. So what’s happened to the rest of the recognisable contemporary world? Or is the story set in the future? Post-apocalypse maybe?

We are left to our own imaginations as to what has happened. All we know is at least two people survive, the rest of the world seems empty and desolate. We know roads and chrome mirrors exist so the world had had some technology but we know nothing else of the date. This adds to the suspense and relatability as it could be a world we live in.

They are alone: ‘The road was empty.’ Where is everyone? Why are they scared if no one is around? Because no one is around? Because someone might be around?

Being alone is scary. Quietness is unsettling and your imagination can run il about what is out there. Maybe they have already encountered something? At this point, we don’t even know if they are related or not.

There’s been some sort of disaster: ‘wasted country… dead reeds … shuffling through the ash …What sort of disaster might it be?

Ash implies destruction. Maybe a volcano eruption, maybe a nuclear war, maybe wildfires. We are left to guess at this stage.

They’re on a journey with everything they own. Where are they going? Where have they come from?

All we know is that they are travelling down a road. We don’t know where they have come from, other than a place where they could gather some essentials and a cart. We don’t know where the road goes or if they even know where it goes.

The road is mentioned two times in these few lines. It is also the title of the book. What does it symbolise?

The road symbolises hope and a way out. As long as there is a road to still travel down there is a chance they can find relief at the end of the road. It symbolises their journey to find an exit to the situation they have found themselves in.

Can you spot any poetic devices in this short passage? What effect do they have?

Cormac uses metaphor throughout the piece. The man pushing the cart could be an extended metaphor for the man trying to push through this devastating situation he has found himself in. This gets repeated in the use of “shuffling through” as if movement isn’t easy, there is a sense of struggle. There is also some great use of imagery and personification with the river being described as “serpentine” we can immediately picture what it looks like. The light too is “gunmetal” which evokes far more imagery and description than if was called grey.

What other stylistic language choices does McCarthy make and why? Why might he not punctuate speech?

The language There is also a lot of the “sh” sound, giving the passage this quiet feel to it in “pushed”, “shoulders”, “shore”, “shuffling” which adds to the eerie sombre mood. There is no punctuation in the speech to make it almost seem quiet and blended into the background too. The dialogue is not the main focus, it gives the impression the characters don’t speak much to each other. They are just focused on the road and land around them.

What features give us a sense of where we are? How does McCarthy create a post-apocalyptic world? Would the impact be the same if he were to remove the man and the boy? Look carefully at the imagery, for example, the grey ‘serpentine of the river’ and ‘the gunmetal light’. What is it about the choice of metaphor that creates a sense of danger? What does the serpentine symbolise? Think biblical perhaps. What effect will biblical and religious imagery, themes and symbols have in this genre of writing?

The man and boy are the focus despite being mentioned so little. If they were removed from this scene you wouldn’t get the same sense of emptiness and isolation as it could be a world where people aren’t important at all. Including them in the scene highlights that people have a role in this situation, perhaps they were the cause of it.

By using serpentine we get a very specific image of what the river looks like, it also gives it a dangerous feel that it is a place to avoid. Snakes represent danger but more specifically hidden danger like something that is about to sneak up and attack you. Biblical themes add to the apocalyptic feel with images from the Book of Revelation and a final judgement.

What’s the prose style like? Are the sentences long or short? Are they rhythmic or choppy or stark? What impact does this have? Is the language complex or simple? Often the more dramatic or dark a piece is, the more simple and stripped back the prose. Why might this be? What would be the effect of more flowing, colourful and detailed prose?

The prose is direct and to the point, it represents a world where colour and detail have been lost. There is no time to spend on flowery descriptions, no luxury or grandeur, this is a world that is bleak and you need instinct to survive. The sentences are short with more questions than answers as there would be living in a world like this. It adds to the atmosphere and drama and makes us want to read on to find out the answers.

References

Cormac Mccarthy (2006). The road. London: Pan Macmillan.

ArtxHistory Archive

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 2: Encountering Time - A Critical Analysis, Research & Reflection

ArtxHistory is “a space facilitated by institutions, historians, curators, artists, faculty and students who are committed to deliver quality scholarship that is accessible, inclusive and open. Co-facilitators are encouraged to reach us to share content or assist in the growth of this framework.”

After looking at Katie Paterson’s Future Library I spent some time looking at recent works also on the theme of climate change. One artist that stood out to me is Doug Aitken and in particular his Mirror (Aitken, 2013).

Mirror is a large outdoor installation on the Seattle Art Museum that consists of a 12-story LED display that wraps around the facade. The video shows a mixture of video and stills all taken by Aitken in and around Seattle that shows the landscapes, cityscapes around the museum. “The imagery you see moves at a slow, thoughtful pace. But what really matters is that Mirror’s imagery is dynamic, to the point of being spontaneous. This is because the content shown on the screens and LED strips is selected by the installation’s software in response to sensor data regarding the weather, pedestrian traffic and other events unfolding in and around SAM” (Careless, 2013).

The mirror doesn’t just show a planned slideshow, it responds to its environment. In some ways, it is the modern equivalent of The Spiral Jetty (Smithson, 1970) in that the artist constructs it but then passes it over the other elements. to evolve it and the finished product is left to nature.

References

Critical Analysis of Future Library by Katie Paterson

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 2: Encountering Time - A Critical Analysis, Research & Reflection

In this exercise, we are asked to go back to a particular work from The Shape of Time lecture and engage with the work in more depth. I feel to some extent that I already did this with The Spiral Jetty in project one and so have decided to focus this time on Katie Paterson‘s The Future Library (Paterson, 2014)

As I wrote in my initial write up about Paterson, I was drawn to her work as anything with a scientific slant like this always grabs my attention. It also seems to fit in with what Grayson Perry suggests as one characteristic of an artist in Playing to the Gallery (Perry, 2014) that artists should just enjoy the process of making. Paterson is very unlikely to ever see the full impact of her work, as it won’t be finalised until 2114. She won’t see the reception it gets, the fame that goes with that, she is simply creating something for others to enjoy and contemplate.

Formal Elements

Future Library is a forest that has been planted in Norway. The trees that have been planted will be used to produce an anthology of literature in 100 years time. For each of the 100 years between 2014 and 2114, one writer a year will contribute a text that will be locked away until 2114 when it will be published (Paterson).

In terms of formal element analysis, it is a little more difficult to stick to the starting points mentioned here. It is difficult to categorise Paterson’s work as art, lens-based or literature. This brings up a point from How to Write About Contemporary Art (Williams, 2014) that with contemporary pieces, we need a different language than the traditional formal elements.

Wider Contextual Information

Katie Paterson is a Scottish contemporary artist. Her works have a lot of ecological themes. Her graduation piece Vatnajökull (the sound of), featured a mobile phone number connected to a microphone submerged in a lagoon beneath Europe’s largest glacier. Related work includes Langjökull, Snaefellsjökull, Soheimajökull, in which the soundscape of melting glaciers was created by making LPs from ice consisting of glacier meltwater. She has also done projects where she mapped 27,000 known dead stars.

We are living in an era where climate change and the environment are at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds but simultaneously not in terms of action. People are detached from nature and where products come from and the time taken for nature to produce them. We live in an era of convenience where books can be bought at a click of a button and downloaded, or even physically bought at the same time as your supermarket shopping. Future library reminds us of time, of nature and how we can interact with nature in a slow way to enjoy it to its fullest.

Existing Interpretations and My Analysis

Using the library search function I have found a lot of existing interpretations. An interesting piece is by Paulina Mickiewicz in Esse which is a Canadian based contemporary art periodical. In the article, any questions based on Future Library are raised “Am I a writer of my times? Who do I write for? How much does the response of the reader matter to me? What is in a text that makes it timeless? And for some of us, it poses the hardest question of all: Will there be people in the future who understand the language I write in?” (Mickiewicz, 2017). This element of the piece I had not considered at all as I had focused mainly on Katie Paterson’s role and feelings towards it. There is a whole other side of the work which is the contributions of the authors who write the yearly manuscripts. They too will never see the response to their work, they are unlikely to be alive when their work finally gets published and enjoyed. I agree the most difficult question of all is if people will even understand the work, will people even read paper-based books at all in 100 years time? As Mickiewicz describes the Future Library as “A critical reflection and commentary on our old infrastructures of knowledge (will the book in paper format still exist in a hundred years?”. Margaret Atwood is one of the authors contributing and she is famed for her dystopian look at the future, in Handmaids Tale the women of the future aren’t allowed books at all, will this be a scary reality?

On the whole, I do agree with this interpretation of the work but it wasn’t my first thought. My initial focus and what I feel is an even stronger topic to reflect on is the role of the forest itself rather than the content of the books.

Another interpretation is by Michaela Bronstein (2019) in the PMLA journal. Again, Bronstein focuses on the books written more than the forest itself, but this isn’t surprising as it is in a modern language journal. What this does highlight to me is the wider appeal of artwork to other disciplines and how we can use art to further our thinking and understanding across academic areas. Bronstein writes not as an artist, but as someone interested in literature and yet here is a whole journal article inspired by a piece of art. Bronstein argues that “writing for the future, writing away from history, can be a progressive and even utopian act” and that the artwork encourages us to reflect on what we are leaving behind for future generations. This is more along with my initial thoughts about the artwork. I think more than anything it forces us to think not too far into the future. One hundred years is just out of reach for us but will impact generations that come after us that we will have intimate knowledge of, they are probably our grandchildren that we will hopefully meet. Climate change does make the future immediate, the actions we take now have a direct impact and we have a responsibility for the future that future Library reminds us of.

References

Bronstein, M. (2019) “Taking the Future into Account: Today’s Novels for Tomorrow’s Readers,” PMLA/Publications of the Modern Language Association of America. Cambridge University Press, 134(1), pp. 121–136.

Mickiewicz, P. (2017), “The Library of 2114”, Esse, vol. 89, pp. 40-49.

Paterson, K. (2014). Future Library.

Paterson, K. Future Library. [online] futurelibrary.no. Available at: https://www.futurelibrary.no

Perry, G. (2014). Playing to the Gallery : Exploring the modern relationship between society and art. London, Uk: Penguin Books Australia.

Williams, G. (2014). How to write about contemporary art. Thames & Hudson.

Grayson Perry – Playing to the Gallery

Book Summary, Books, Books & reading, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Other Projects, Research & Reflection

I picked up Grayson Perry’s Playing to the Gallery (Perry, 2014) recently from my local library and feel it is an excellent example of many of the points covered in Gilda Williams’ book How to Write About Contemporary Art.

Grayson Perry writes in an extremely engaging way about the roles of galleries and contemporary art and the book is also filled with some of his cartoon drawings which bring the content alive. It is a fairly short book of 134 pages but there are snippets of things to reflect on.

  • You can’t expect to understand conteporary art without effort. This reinforces the point in How to Write About Contemporay Art (Williams, 2014) that it is a practise that should ideally be daily. The deeper you get involved, the more enjoyment there is.
  • What we “like” is thought to be subjective but there is a lot of manipulation by critics, dealers and gallery owners. The art we get to ee is determined from above and curated for us. It pays to have an open mind and start to reflect on what we actually like rather than what we think we should like.
  • The philosophy of what art actually is fascinates me and this book dicusses a lot. Perry discuses what he calls his “boundaries” of what art is. This is an idea I want to come back to in relation to time.
  • Being an artist should not be about “being an artist”, all great artists do it because they want to make art. There is a balance between making what is going to please people and potentially make you an income but this childlike joy of just making art should never be lost.

References

How to Write About Contemporary Art by Gilda Williams

Books & reading, Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 2: Encountering Time - A Critical Analysis, Research & Reflection

How to Write About Contemporary Art (Williams, 2014) is one of those books I will keep returning to throughout my course. I have skimmed through the book a few times already and will use this page as a record and summary of the points I want to reflect on.

Introduction

  • There is no one way to write about art – I think this is important to me, as I have been trying to focus on the “right” way to write and it is more about finding my own personal style.
  • Good art-writers read a lot from other people and look at a lot of art – this is something I need to always consider, there is no substitute for seeing lots of other people’s work and reading about it.
  • Writing about art is difficult – you are taking a visual medium and trying to put it into words. I can’t expect to be perfect immediately and it is okay that things will need redrafting.

To Do:

Write in a clear, well structured and carefully worded way.

Describe art, its meaning and its connection to the world.

Using imaginative vocabulary that is original.

  • Love art, enjoy it and that will come across when writing
  • Practice (daily if possible)
  • Writing helps you understand art
  • Edit a lot!

Section 1 – The Job – Why Write About Contemporary Art?

  • Writing about art should improve the experience of it. Make the work more enjoyable.
  • There are two different aims of text: to explain or to evaluate.

Explaining – contextualises and describes

Evaluating – judges and interprets

  • It is important to remember that all texts are opinionated and subjective.
  • Contemporary art lead to more than just descriptions using the standards of measure (shape, colour, size etc).
  • New words: readymade, abstract art, minimalism (see glossary) were needed to talk about contemporary art.
  • I found the section on the history of art-criticism fascinating. “In pre-Revolutionary times an artwork needed chiefly to please king and clergy to acquire validation; artists mostly (but not always) catered to the tastes of these and a few other powerful patrons, whose opinions were the only ones that mattered. (Williams, 2014:37). How different this is to today’ society where everyone is a critic!
  • Linking to other schools of thought such as structuralism, post-colonialism, feminism, queer theory, gender theory, Marxist theory, psychoanalysis, literary theory.
  • The importance of contextualisation:

what the artwork is made of

how it fits in the artist’s lifetime

what has already been said?

events when work was created

Section 2 – The Practice: How to Write About Contemporary Art

  • Write only about what you know. Trust yourself, become informed and your texts will improve.
  • Write about artists you actually like to begin with so that it feels authentic to any reader.
  • There are three main questions to ask yourself:

Q1. What is it?
Keep the description brief and specific. Look for meaningful details
Q2. What might this mean?
Explain where the meaning is in the artwork.
Q3. Why does this matter to the world?
Explain where this piece of art fits in world events and how it might change understanding or opinions.

  • Substantiation explains where your ideas come from.
  • This can be from factual or historical evidence or on the basis of visual evidence.
  • Don’t waffle as it is weak and raises more questions than answers.
  • Pay cloe attention to works, what makes them different. How are they similar to other pieces?
  • Provide readers with the steps in your thinking.
  • Be specific. Add titles and dates, write in the active tense, drop messy adverbs (sort of, kind of).
  • Flesh out descriptions.
  • When writing, keep the photo in front of you.
  • Also conider the gaps where nothing is happening.
  • Less is more when it comes to adjectives – one precise adjective has more power than lots of vague ones
  • Use interesting verbs.
  • Expand your vocabulary.
  • Revise at least two drafts.
  • Read your text out loud

Section 3 – The Ropes How to Write Contemporary Art Formats

I will return to this section at a later date as it contains very useful information on writing academic pieces.

References

Williams, G. (2014). How to write about contemporary art. Thames & Hudson.

Assignment 1 Feedback

Assignment 1 - The Shape of Time, Assignments, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons)

I received my assignment 1 feedback last week, and there are a couple of points I would like to reflect upon.

Positives

  • My learning log/blog is well organised and engaging.
  • I am showing good visual and contextual knowledge and understanding.
  • My learning is progressing through self-directed learning and further studies.
  • I have shown care and attention when experimenting with the hole punching.
  • My sketchbook presentation is neat.
  • My assignment is an effective narrative of my journey.
  • I have set my own action points to take ownership of my own learning.
  • My reflection on the Spiral Jetty and Spirals was particularly strong.

Points to Improve/Consider

  • Explore different ways of presenting ideas e.g. through lens based media.
  • When lifting action points for future work, take time to think about the steps to achieve those points.
  • Use the ideas in How to Write About Contemporary Art to develop different ways to write about work.
  • Develop use of Harvard academic referencing and academic structure to work using more quotes and comparative discussions.
  • Include images of past work and ideas for future work within blog.
  • Experiment with new ideas and materials.
  • Discuss ideas with peers and take part in group work.

Ideas for future work

My tutor has suggested using the hole punching as a prop for photographic or video work in different locations, connecting the word time to specific situations, and allowing you to capture the light through the perforations in the paper, by displaying it on a window, or taking it outside and documenting at different times of day to emphasise the context of the work.

Another idea is to photograph found spirals within my local environment, or create my own, or combine the hole punching technique within this context.

Reflection

Overall I am very pleased with the comments received. I know there is no formal mark to this part of the course, but it is still nice to receive a positive critique. I have spent a lot of time getting my blog set up to be easy to navigate, I chose not to use the standard OCA template which has meant a little extra work on my part but I feel it was worth it.

Academic referencing is something I have done in the past, I think I am just out of the habit of doing so and so will endeavour to include these in my next submissions.

I am feeling more confident that I know how to progress in the next assignment now. I am just feeling with the time of year, that study time is going to be the biggest challenge, but I will try to stay disciplined and stick to my doing something every day.

Amélie (2001)

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Films, Project 2: Encountering Time - A Critical Analysis, Research & Reflection

Amélie is a 2001 French romantic comedy by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. There is so much you can say about this movie but I want to focus here on its use of colour throughout the film as I think it is one of the most brilliant examples.

The film follows the story of Amélie who is brought up in an eccentric household and eccentric characters seem to be ever-present in her life. We are brought into her imagination and the way she sees the world throughout the film.

The use of colour in the film helps us feel this imagination and inner world. The film as a whole is very saturated with warm filters, there is a lot of deep red, gold, yellows and earthy greens which help create this almost surreal feel. Paris itself is brought to life and personified using the yellow hues and it acts as a character in the film rather than a location.

Green and red are used commonly in the film. Green symbolises nature, hope and is a comforting colour to many people and so it is used to harmonise the overall look in the film. Red on the other hand brings warmth, passion and Amélie is often seen wearing red or carrying red accessories to reflect her life and mood.

The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums – Kenji Mizoguchi

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Films, Project 2: Encountering Time - A Critical Analysis, Research & Reflection

The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums is a 1939 Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, about a male actor specialising in playing female roles in late 19th century Japan. It was a movie I discovered by accident one day but has become one of my favourites. It manages to capture humanity and the ideas of family, class, the value of life in a simple storyline with amazing cinematography.

The shots Mizoguchi uses to draw us into the story are on a very human level. There are a lot of wide-angle shots that place the actors in very real sets as if we are watching real life from a distance. There is a lot of care taken to create realistic mise-en-scene to convince us we are watching a real story. The detail in the shots is amazing, and as so much of it is shot from a distance the set is almost more important than the acting at times, but this is how we often see the real world, we watch stories unfold from a distance.

There are very few close-ups or changes of angles within a scene and this helps us stay captivated by what we are seeing unfold. Almost like watching actors on a stage rather than a film.

Alongside the amazing cinema work, the storyline and script are believable and give us an insight into the class system in Imperial Japan. The characters develop and we feel their emotions and struggles with them.

Toby Ziegler – The Hedonistic Imperative

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 2: Encountering Time - A Critical Analysis

Ziegler works within the tradition of landscape painting but his virtual reality terrains bear the hallmarks of the digital age. His scenes are designed on computer then transferred to the canvas as schematic drawings. These compositions become increasingly complex, offering the viewer a multitude of vanishing points. Here an ordered geometric system is disrupted by the unchecked dripping of areas of paint. The effects of light are also of particular interest to Ziegler. His use of reflective gold leaf in this work further complicates the painting’s surface and distorts the viewer’s spatial perception.

Gallery Label from https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/ziegler-the-hedonistic-imperative-2nd-version-t12308
The Hedonistic Imperative (2nd version) 2006 Toby Ziegler born 1972 Presented by David Gorton 2006 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T12308

When looking for examples of artwork to look at formal elements in, I was drawn to this piece by Toby Ziegler on the Tate site. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it in person, so am just going to analyse the image which is never quite the same.

Colour

Ziegler’s use of colour evokes images of landscapes, they are earthy secondary tones on the whole and it reminds me of looking down at the ground from a plane. The greens remind me of trees and the patchwork of fields. The orange in there is slightly less natural but still harmonious and still fits in the natural palette, perhaps just more autumnal. It is generally a very warm colour range which makes the whole image seem inviting and comforting. The range of values from deep dark greens to the white-creamy colour gives an interesting contrast and helps draw your eye around the image always finding something interesting to focus on. This also gives the image dimension as there are more muted background colours in the background with more popping vibrant colours in the foreground.

Form

The shapes in this image are the most interesting aspect to me and are what I think makes the image really work. There is a fascinating conflict between organic and geometric shapes. The colour makes me think of a natural landscape and some of the shapes also reflect this as they are natural and organic in nature. Like the patches of muted greens in the background. Then there are very geometric circles that cannot be natural but indicate this idea of something natural being transformed by man.

Line

In the piece are some very energetic lines that move our eyes around the piece as if we were examining a landscape. The orange lines are smooth and flowing, almost river like in nature and they give an interesting focal point in contrast to the circular shapes and areas. The lines give a lot of movement and dynamics to the artwork and it is as if we are looking at a piece captured in the middle of a movement.