Weeks 1-4: RESEARCH

Rodney Harris & Valda Jackson Image Analysis

I notice the surreality of these pinafores being cast in brick, how offsetting this is in my perception immediately. I wonder why this has been done. I think about the garments being embedded in the building, how the potential history of the building could be of a time where this type of dress was worn routinely. I believe that this was the artist's intention, to express a visual history. I think about the material itself, brick, the colour, the texture, the dis-jointment between what I expect of a garment and a brick wall. I could utilise this thinking to create textile samples for my project by treating my fabrics as materials for a different use perhaps? What if a building was made of felt? How would the walls support themselves? Perhaps the entire structure would have to be sewn into the ground for stability and to keep the fabric taut. It would also need to be drier in order to prevent it from soaking up water from the earth and rain. Or perhaps I could respond to my structure as well as my research by treating my fabrics through similar processes to my deconstruction?

Julie Verhoven Image Analysis

I like the contrast between the wet, dripping paint and the solid block of colour used for the shadow. I think I like this because it mixes two ideas, one that emphases a clean line and one that is looser and still 'in-process' to an extent. Verhoven's drawing makes me think about shape more than anything. Her shapes are not normal shapes, they bend, curve and protrude in ways that are unexpected given that she often draws people. This said It is always clear what she is drawing, it does not abstract too much. I think I could use this way of using material - mixing several disciplines in 'miniature' ways, the sum of which could lead to interesting results. I want to do more research in to design as opposed to arts based practitioners in order to understand different approaches to visualising fashion and the body.

Piper Shepard Quote

" For over a decade, I have cut cloth into lace-like filigree patterns, a method I liken to drawing with empty space and one that reveals the mark of a human hand. I have extended my practice to include how handwork and more current technologies inform each other, and how the intimacy of making can translate using new materials and methods."

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Keith Tyson (2006) - Looking at Negative Space

Having visualised negative space through drawing in the studio today, I decided to research Keith Tyson's work in more depth. I immediately thought of his work when negative space was mentioned from my research for the IDEAS FACTORY PROJECT. I like the preciseness of the image, the grid-like structure. I am struck by the separation between the 6 canvases; also having heard him say that he was trying to create the space between the shapes themselves. I am wondering how Tyson came upon his decisions, to place what and where - is this what his mind would look like if we could see it? This makes me wonder about a metaphysical perspective, speculative realism. How objects interact with each other, and how that is necessarily different from how we as humans interact with objects.  When cotton meets fire, and burns, the cotton's smell never meets the fire as the interaction (combustion) only depends on the properties in the cotton necessary for that process to take place. If we extracted those properties from the cotton the fire would still burn it. So I wonder, what makes an object what it is? What is it? Does it exist apart from what we perceive it?  Since we can only perceive from a human perspective, what other ways are there to know what makes an object what it is - is it possible to locate it's raw essence?

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Issey Miyake Fall/Winter 2011

This image in particular struck me more due to the aesthetic than the concept; I was drawn in by the model's facial expression, the design staff surrounding her.
I like designers that aim to educate people on the process of making.
Watching the process inspired me to experiment by manipulating paper with folding techniques. I watched many different fashion documentaries as part of my research; on Alexander McQueen, Cristobal Balenciaga, Lanvin by Alber Elbaz - however I include Miyake due to the relevance of his work to this project.

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Savage Beauty, Alexander Mcqueen

i) I like the juxtaposition of a skin tight top with the voluminous bottom, each enhances the other. This makes me think about contrasting shapes, for example curved shapes i.e circles against rigid lines.
ii) I like that the neckline is tight and then suddenly puffs out. The direction of the garment seems upwards to me, as though she could fly. The hem balloons almost due to draping - this dress is theatrical.

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Yin Gao

I dislike Yin Gao's work. Her references are the only part of her work that I do like. The apron I think  is a nice starting point, I like the idea of uniformity that she is exploring. The use of computer software I find to be a waste of the fabric she used - I care about sustainability, why use fabric to explore the idea of rapid prototyping? Why this context? Her work is also very flat, the cut of garments is very rigid - for me this is unappealing.
This lead me to look at crumpling techniques which create more texture and more interesting shapes. I will be using my hands to manipulate my materials, I will recycle all materials I do not use in my final design to minimise the waste created for my project.


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-ism: FEMINISM

I like this image. The pleats in the headpiece on the back and side of garments strike me, they inject texture and volume into the the silhouette. The women are wrapped in cloth,  their identities a secret. At the same time I wonder:
How does the Burqa fit within today's society?
I responded by developing designs inspired by this silhouette in my Sketchbook. My aim is to convey the message that the garment is entrenched in cultures in which it is worn, and to depict this in a way that provokes debate around the subject.

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Gustave Courbet (1819–77), The Origin of the World, 1866. Musée d’Orsay, Paris/Giraudon/The Bridgeman Art Library.

I was interested by the context of this image revealing the pubic hair rather than concealing it which has been the prevailing attitude towards depicting pubic hair in art, film and photography. On the contrary to word ‘wrap’ this woman has been depicted bare, naked, which seems to me to be the opposite of wrapped.

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Six

I like the split down the middle, it evokes a duality between the two images, I feel the images synchronise through the shape of the plant which is surreal and the woman's headpiece - on its own, if I look at the image of the woman my eyes are drawn in to her eyes and her face. With the two images beside each other my awareness is directed toward the overall composition, the shape of the woman's face in relation to the plant - I feel that the image of the woman becomes surreal, or at least my awareness is directed toward seeing her in a different light. I use this tool of splitting to visualise my ideas specifically with regards to exploring textures. I like that this emphasises the more subtle qualities that link my images together; I am trying to bring these ideas to to the fore.

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Material: HAIR

I am fascinated by the ethnological history of hair. The myriad textures, shape and colour of women’s hair; these structures predominate one’s observation of a woman’s racial identity. An almost instant identification of race at the first moment of contact due to a single physical feature. I believe this is due to the visual impact of hair which will inform my process later in the design of a sculpture.

Ecuadorian 'Shrunken Head'; Wellcome Library, London.

The length of this Ecuadorian ‘shrunken head’ supplanted with a very full, bodied piece of hair at the Wellcome Library in London impacts me visually and viscerally. The length of her hair leads me to think about how long she lived and the years her hair grew in.It is clear to me that hair represents one’s identity, one’s roots. Whether or not we consciously chooses to grow, cut, plat, braid shave our hair in order to change appearance or express ourselves, it affects how we are perceived on a basic, instinctual level. I decided to respond to this by experimenting with the idea of incorporating hair into the design of a Veiled Burqa.

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Rei Kawakubo on Six Magazine

“High fashion has to have a mystery about it. This is the next step: visual representation of the collection, purely for image.”

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Madame Grès Image Analysis

I like the shadowy silhouette in this image, the sculptures in the background. These make me think of ancient Athens and Grecian Gods, also Plato's The Republic. I wonder what it was like to live in those ancient times specifically with regards to communicating ideas and clothing. I am curious about objects that have lasted a long time, or rather stood the test of time - ideas or practices that have a history. This makes me think about intellectual and physical material, devoid of trends in human behaviour or taste. Legacy. I also notice that the silhouette, by definition, loses all of those pleats done by Madame Grès. I find this interesting because the silhouette is still appealing to me despite having lost so much of the dress' detail. I can't understand why shadow, silhouette, sculpture necessarily reminds me of Plato - but for me they feel like the same universe or reserve the same space in my mind. This space is defined by marble, rocks, large pillars. I wonder if it has something to do with learning about the myth of Odysseus & the minotaur when I was 8 year old - this reminds me of it. I wonder whether shadows in general could be used as silhouettes for design ideas, I think I could try to visualise this through sketching. What if the silhouette of a dress was informed by the silhouette of the woman? Is that not what fashion is anyway? Working with the body? I think what I mean is rather than the dress being informed by the shape of a woman, what if it were informed by the other-wordly figure created in the form of her shadows, such as the ones seen in the Madame Grès image.

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Objects Placed Underneath my Rug

I did this not really knowing what I was doing, I just felt a curious urge to see what would happen. I like the bumps and flowing, curved line created. I was thinking about the phrase 'swept under the carpet'; I wanted to physically sweep objects underneath the rug.

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'YOUR' PROJECT

I like these off-cut pieces of fabric, they form interesting shapes which are made by happenstance due to the placement of patterns which I cut from the fabric for a jacket. I like the spontaneity or lack of contrived thinking in these - I think of these as being more 'pure' because their was no conscious thinking involved. I wonder what art would look like if it was stripped of conscious thought. I think about Freudian dream self-analysis, free association, answers to my questions about who I am and what makes me, me. Material, matter.

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Chalayan; Spring/Summer 1998

I am curious about Hussein Chalayan's usage of the veiled burqa here, I like the incremental change in the garments over the full body of 6 looks. For me this builds tension. I was inspired by his approach to work across disciplines. I began to look at architectural lines having looked at the parallel practices between Fashion and Architecture. This lead me to photograph features that interested me. I was drawn to the textures of wood, bricks, rocks, clay. these hardened surfaces can be rough and rigid depending on how they have been treated. This is because I get a feeling for the purpose of the building, object or space by understanding the materials involved in making it. This helped me to think about my material, hair, in a different light. I thought about fabrics that have a hair-like quality for example felt and mohair. Rather than using hair in its raw form this could potentially be incorporated into my design through textile development.

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Drawings, Collaging - Please Refer to Sketchbook

I am interested in how the charcoal interacts with the paper in my sketchbook; I notice that charcoal is very soft, I find this useful especially in drawing the body. Observational drawing of the female form has helped me to explore shape, line and movement. Single line drawing has been a focal point in my experimentation due to my enjoying the results of using this technique. I gain a tactile sense of the page and my line becomes more freed by this. I explored the potential for headpieces and masks to communicate my message visually. I did this through drawing and collaging inside my sketchbook, placing a felt mask over a figurative sketch. On discussing the idea with Kevin, I realised that this collage was unsuccessful in conveying my message.

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Qu Bing; Inspiration for Portraits

 “. . . facing a real mountain, I wrote ‘mountain’ . . . where there was river water I wrote the character for ‘water’. The clouds shifted, the mountain colors changed, the wind blew and the grasses moved, the life around me appeared and disappeared; with a feeling of excitement, I recorded it all!” —Xu Bing, 2013 on his 1999 excursions in the Himalaya MountainsI like this unusual way of thinking, incorporating the word itself in to the composition. This makes me think about the potential for language and semiotics as medium through which conceptual ideas can be visualised. This made me think about Chinese art, where there is a pictorial character of writing rather than in English where we have a different approach. I see a form of language nature in Chinese painting where the trees, the grass the mountains are depicted using thin, careful yet expressive lines. This makes me think about repetition as a literary technique; using repetition to accentuate ideas. I decided to experiment by incorporating the word 'wrap' to wrap/contain my figurative sketch of my classmate.

Geoffrey Beene & Richard Serra Analysis

I noticed the alternating angular movement between the legs and the shadows. The surfaces in both images being smooth, the structures solid and rigid - this makes me think about movement and it being 'in the background' or covert, conveyed through angles.I also notice the tension of the woman’s stance as her arms and legs support her posture. I wonder is she getting up? Is she sitting down or about to?  This juxtaposed against the objects which are very solid and fixed in position, heavy; this creates for me a focal point in where her hand is placed. Leading in a very solid angle created by her arm. This makes me think about shape and depth, I can see several shapes and lines in this image which envelop on to each other. The name of Serra’s sculpture implies to me that the structure could easily fall at any moment and cause a loud bang, the material itself suggesting it is heavy. The small angular space between the slabs show enough to tell me that the slabs perhaps are resting against each other rather than fixed.  This tells me that Serra engages with material and form in order to communicate his ideas. This makes me think about my perception of structures and how this is informed by the material - though I cannot tell whether this is in fact steel the idea of a potential fall of the slabs to create a loud noise is informed by the assumption that it is steel. This makes me think about weight and its relation to form. I wonder why Serra uses this material - using a single material rather than mixing materials. This shifts my focus away from colour and toward the form of his sculpture. The key features in both these images make me think primarily about contrasting angles and tension, also weight and movement - I am left thinking about and would like to research further in to minimalist sculpture especially in relation to these ideas though at present I do not know where this will inform my project. I want to measure the angles created by my deconstructed suit jacket, I don't know why.

Rebecca Horn Image Analysis

I notice the sharpness and scraping of the extended fingers this reminds me of Edwards scissor hands, this is very cinematic and impacts my ears (scraping), it makes me think about darkness, macabre, innocence and fragility. The room itself feels to me like skin, this makes me think about touch, human touch, intimate, delicate  - the structures grazing the walls as the woman walks. I wonder what Rebecca was feeling, knowing that she spent a year in isolation, I reflect on my own experiences relating to isolation. Associations I make are: dipping toes in water, lifting her head above the parapet of isolation, coming out of isolation in a very tentative and sensitive way - like getting in to a cold swimming pool and enduring/pushing through the initial feeling of resistance and recoil. I wonder what the structures are made from, paper mache? Card? Fabric - cotton, linen? I notice the mirror, allowing the woman to see herself while she ‘reaches out’ - I wonder if she is examining her posture? What does she see when she looks in the mirror? Does she see what I see? Her posture reminds me of Jesus on The Cross. This makes me think about the function of shape and structure in communicating ideas, emotions. This also makes me want to experiment by starting with a feeling, and how to communicate that effectively through shape, especially in relation to the human figure.I also think about body modifications, plastic surgery, hair extensions, breast implants, anything that accentuates the human form. Human beings have been doing this for thousands of years. This makes me want to research historically and what function this served - symbols, status, rank, hierarchy, embellishment, adornment, attractiveness, social norms.

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Piper Shepard Image Analysis

I love these images. In i) I am immediately struck by the contrast of the small mark on the delicate, printed lace. The mark looks fresh, as if the lace has been unintentionally burned, yet the mark itself appeals to me as it shimmers under the light of the room. It makes me think about defects, man made, in cloth, in clothing and in general in the making process especially when things are made by hand. On researching Shepard's work I realised this was digitally printed. This makes me want to experiment with painting on to fabrics, exploring natural variations in colour and patina. In ii) I enjoy the ‘shimmer’ ion a different way, the cuts look like they are sparkling like stars or off-shooting, lit pieces from a firework. The movement grabs my attention as the overall composition morphs into the textural overgrowth or jungle - there is an intensity there. I wonder what is buried beneath or behind, what is hidden, protected? This makes me want to use my drawing or painting to translate into stencils and laser-cuts. I want to research different methods of cutting, by hand especially. I am also developing ideas that would involve research felt-making by hand due to the frequency at which I see felt being used in art that I like.

Moving Six Images Analysis

"Moving Six" was a series of publications by Comme des Garçons that ran from 1988 to 1991. Working with designer Tsuguya Inoue and editor Atsuko Kozasu, Rei Kawakubo published a total of eight issues, each release coinciding with the launch of Comme des Garçons’ latest collection.I like these images, I find them aesthetically pleasing. I think this is because of the split down the middle of the image, the contrast created by this. The images communicate a narrative through visual language alone according to Kawakubo. In particular the surreal combination of a head and a sculpture in (ii). I like the tension created by juxtaposing the sculpture's sharp edges with the curved line of the boy's head. There is movement, the boy's line of sight aimed South East and toward us and the sculpture's line which is aimed North West and back into the image. Both lines are sharp and create this sort of kaleidoscopic, rotating effect - to me this feels like the image is collapsing in on itself almost like it is about to implode. This for me is because of contradictions and contrasting qualities, skin being soft and the sculpture seeming rigid,hard. The contrast of the very bright face with the dark surroundings - I like this feeling of unease that I feel while looking at the image.
This image also reminded me of an image from Antonin Artaud's Surrealist film "The Sea Shell and the Clergyman". It would not surprise me if this served as inspiration for Rei Kawakubo. I like Artaud's use of a projector to create this effect, it reminds me of a Venus flytrap or 'pacman'about to consume the man's head. Now I think that the man is himself the one doing the consuming, he is after all the perpetuator/antagonist of the film - The Clergyman. I am wondering what Artaud was thinking when he decided to experiment in this way. Is the way we experiment today very different given advances in technology? Are limitations in technology or resources actually a proponent in generating innovative ideas? I was inspired to use whatever materials I had to experiment with shape, lines and mark-making through mixed-media collaging.The first thing I think of when looking at i) is a high-rise block of flats, a 'home' or meeting place for people to live. In (i) the man is carrying the 'home' on this shoulders down the street - where is he going? Why is he carrying this large structure. I think this is nomadic in some sense, carrying the structure with him if we interpret the sculpture as home. I love how these images are laced with potential stories, and without having seen any writing as a viewer I have to rely on the images interacting with each other to deduce any meaning. Kawakubo has described the meaning of Six as being 'no meaning' - the duality of her vision is portrayed clearly through the composition, splitting the images in half or dividing a double page spread between two images democratically. This is  intentional.


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Bibliography

Artaud, A. Dulac, G (1928) "The Seashell and the Clergyman"
Bolton, A. Sundsbø, S. 'Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty', Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art
Fury, A. (2014) '7 Key Themes in Rei Kawakubo's Career', The New York Times Hansson, N.  'Sixth Sense', quote by Rei Kawakubo in Kinfolk MagazineKawakubo, R. 'Six' 1988-1991
Moral Panics in the Contemporary World, edited by Julian Petley, et al., Bloomsbury Academic & Professional, 2013.
Museum at FIT. 'Madame Grès: The Sphinx of Fashion'Nakamichi, T. (2007) 'Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics', Laurence King Publishers.Jackson, P. (2011) 'Folding Techniques for Designers from Sheet to Form', Laurence King Publishers.Schmidt, P & Stattmann, N. 'Unfolded', Birkhauser PublishersVogue (2011) Issey Miyake Fall/Winter 2011, www.vogue.com

"Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body"

 I looked at the bibliography and was drawn to Rei Kawakubo's 1997 collection at Comme des Garcons. It is rare that Kawakubo reveals the body. Rather, her work is obsessed with, for lack of better terms, lumps and bumps. She creates protrusions and protuberances that distort the shape of the human form and, in doing so, proposes new ideas of beauty. This tactic has been present from her very first shows, when Kawakubo wrapped her models (and, later, her customers) in layers of cloth, and produced clothing without sizes. The most pronounced example, however, was her spring/summer 1997 collection, known as “Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body,” which consisted largely of stretch dresses pulled over ballooning pads. There has been, of course, a long history of body modification through dress — corsets have pulled the figure in to control the waist, and crinolines, panniers and bustles exaggerate and extend the body. But with that one collection, Kawakubo became a lone voice against fashion’s flow of skinny, unstructured tube dresses and bias-cut slips. Her bumps seemed to hide the designated erogenous zones, rather than emphasize them. She offered a bold, feminist reconsideration of the body, moving away from the stereotyped “female” and into something more transgressive — even aggressive. She continues to explore these ideas today: Her latest collection, for fall/winter 2017 — which she called “the future of silhouette” — could just as well describe a large amount of her work. - Alexander Fury, The New York Times.

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Everyday Objects

I like the use of everyday objects such as matches, polystyrene used for packing materials, paper. I intend to use the everyday as a source of inspiration, manipulating these by burning, painting, bending, stretching, smashing, drawing on to.Source:
Schmidt, P & Stattmann, N. 'Unfolded', Birkhauser Publishers

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Kostas Murkudis & Carsten Nicolai

I have enjoy Murkudis'image because of the geometric shapes being embedded in the dress. Throughprint and then incorporated into the shape of the dress itself. This impacts me and I feel curious to look closer at his concept. I would like to use this idea by adding my own prints developed through shapes that interest me. I would also translate these shape into my design by manipulating card to evoke or compliment the shapes from the print.

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Final Proposal

Having used my earlier research in to the design of a burqa, I was interested in the garment's relevance within the political landscape today. I decided to try to incorporate a wig into the design of the garment in reference to both how the garment is ingrained in the lives of the women that wear them. The garment physically encases or wraps the body and hides conceals the person's identity in favour of an identity which is shows piety and humility within the person's culture. I decided it would be more interesting to take the concept further by using sculpture as the medium to visualise the idea. I translate through drawing the design of the burqa into a sculpture which can be seen in my design development. The issue that I encountered was the loss of the word hair; the sculpture depicts a woman wearing a burqa which I  intend to use to insinuate the concealment of the body and the woman's identity, associating to 'wrap'. The context of the sculpture, now in today's political landscape is intended to incorporate feminism. I have included in my reflection what I think could be done to improve the idea visually and conceptually. Unfortunately I think the message has been lost - it could be made stronger in various ways.

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Experimentation: Sculpture

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Using card, fabric, paint to make sculptures inspired by my research in to the female form. Multimedia collaging and visualisation experiments can be seen in sketchbook. I can see the value in using multimedia collaging to express a more tactile sense of my ideas, why it exists and where it exists - as a sculpture, a garment, I ask myself who is wearing it, where and why they are wearing it. In the case of the burqa through research it is clearly due to a need for women to adhere to cultural norms, a display of piety. This interests me due to the political element, a moral panic surrounding the garment especially in France (Petley, et al.).
Moral Panics in the Contemporary World, edited by Julian Petley, et al., Bloomsbury Academic & Professional, 2013.

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