Friday, January 20, 2006

Fragments of the City

I have a project to do. In my art course we will be working all term on ‘fragments of the city’. The idea is to create an evocation of a city, which is experienced in a fragmented sort of way. We were briefed to do some homework over the Christmas break, and return prepared with a number of photographs of a city, and lots of ephemera – tickets, timetables etc.

As I didn’t go anywhere near a city, and didn’t want to make a special trip, I cheated and took photos of Darlington ‘City’. There is rather too much crumbling red brick and not enough glass-and-steel skyscrapers, but who cares? I also kept a lot of junk, mainly from our trip to Banbury, like ‘sale’ tickets and carrier bags. And I found some bits in my purse, like a ticket from going to the loo in Whitby :)

We did some contextual research of other artists, including Sarah Morris, Wyndham Lewis and Kurt Schwitters. You can see how they can evoke the idea of a city without being explicit.

We started last week by making a collage with our bits of junk. Those who arrived without a bag of rubbish were despatched to Bournville Green to find some litter. They arrived back empty-handed. It appears the Green is kept rather too tidy and clean. They resorted to the emergency box of newspaper and magazine scraps. Meanwhile, I was playing with the carrier bags. I started cutting out the logo, then decided that was not ‘fragmented’ enough. So I pulled at the plastic, tugging it out of shape and obscuring the logo. I stuck this lot down, making some interesting textures if nothing else. I started to arrange the other bits and pieces around it, trying to make the colours into a nice arrangement so it didn’t just look chaotic. I had grabbed some train timetables on my way through the station, so they went on, along with the rail route maps in their different colours. I then twisted more carrier bag into long strands and arranged this into a routemap type shape. My final collage was about an inch thick! It’s still at college, so I can’t photograph it.

This week, we played with the photos. We took copies of them so we could cut up the copies. The idea was to arrange them into a long strip, where one fragment follows on from the other to create a sort of film-strip, or story board. The aim is for the eye to try and read along the strip, rather than take it in as one picture. Our tutor compared this with the Parthenon Frieze (the Elgin Marbles), and discussed how pictures used to tell a story rather than be one framed ‘window’ onto a scene. Our brief was to create this sort of effect, but with fragmented images. “Take one fragment, and find another that leads on from it in some way,” he said. “It might be texture, tone, shape – something that leads the eye from one to the other.”

This was, and is, not easy. It is a fascinating exercise though, and I enjoy getting absorbed in looking at the images, making connections, and pasting them down.

So this is what we are doing in art. It seems very far removed from Betty Edwards or Danny Gregory ;)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is especially fascinating to me, because I just finished reading a book, "Tales of a City," which was as fragmented as what you are working with in your project. The book contained bits and pieces of different character's daily lives. What a wonderful experience for you. It made me think of our trip to Rome in September - the graffiti on those beautiful buildings and the trash thrown around those gorgeous fountains. Cities are truly amazing aren't they?
connie scott

7:19 pm  
Blogger Carole said...

Hi Connie,
I think that book might have been recommended to us by the college. That's interesting, thinking about how a piece of writing could give a fragmented impression. Cities are interesting, I agree. There's something about having that many people, and so much diversity in one huge place. And yes, it is a shame when beautiful places become spoiled.

6:18 pm  

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