The first coneptual project we have faced in Digital Composite this year has been creatively titled, the Molzianiă Aardvark Project. It is one of the most open briefs I have come across and essentially allows each student to respond to the title of the brief in any way they see fit. Molzianiă Aardvark is of course an entirely made-up term and the only restrictions upon us are technical output: a final high quality, colour correct image at 300dpi A4.
We have however had a quite subtle hint with what direction we could choose to take this project: we are also required to hand in one A4 Media Release. This suggests to me that what we are really doing with this project is, like the title, creating an entity or occurance. Between the image and the Release, we need to take something imaginary and make it appear a reality.
After our lecture on John Heartfield, I have really started to think more carefully about where I’m taking my work. Like my concept for Multimedia Authoring, my initial response to this brief is to make a political statement, no matter how subtle. I’m starting to feel more and more that university should be an environment that I take full advantage of, particularly with the opportunity of making work with meaning behind it. This is not always going to be the case once I begin doing paid work: there aren’t many corporate companies that would appreciate their latest design pointing out the dark side of Capitalism, for instance.
So now that my inner Angry Leftie is making its way out of the shadows, I picked up the latest copy of Adbusters. I used to read this magazine quite a bit when I was younger, but lost interest at some point. Whilst many of the articles are great, I do get the feeling that they are expressed from something of an elitist point of view. Like student protesters yelling about the latest political indignation: they’re making a lot of noise, but when it comes down to it, would they actually change their lifestyle for their cause? Probably not. But in the end, we’re all quite similar in that sense, we’re protective of our status quo.
Where am I heading with this? The front cover of the March/April Adbusters shows a lone figure in mid stride, running from what you assume to be some kind of protest, because of their clothing. They are wearing an almost paramilitary outfit, with smoke billowing around behind them.
This struck me as not only a powerful image, but one that is entirely open to interpretation. Who’s side is this person on? Are they fighting with us or against us? Most Australians would assume this person is something akin to a terrorist. We have very little understanding of violent struggles in our country and therefore cannot understand this kind of fighting. But what if this person was in fact in the midst of a battle for us? What if, unlike the angry students, they were putting everything they had on the line for a cause they saw as much greater than themselves and that we would all benefit from their struggle? This is the direction I plan to take the Molzianiă Aardvark Project.
The first two projects for Digital Composite, completed in class, were focused on giving us marketable, ‘real world’ skills. Repairing an old photograph and cleaning up a beauty shot of Pamela Anderson were both good exercises for getting stronger Photoshop skills. However, they were both solely training exercises and there was no real concept involved. It will be interesting to try and put these skills to use for the Molzianiă Aardvark Project.
At this stage though, i’m still unsure about how I will use digital editing for this project. I think it will be far easier to create an image similar to the Adbusters cover ‘in camera’. Perhaps compositing additional images into the photograph could be used. My instinct is to add some kind of logo, or banner for the group and insert that in post, perhaps along the lines of the 12 Monkeys logo. This idea could be carried across to the final portfolio project for the semester, where I need to put together a group of work. This may be logos, or posters that build upon the imaginary group.
A book that I auspiciously purchased in 2007, The Design of Dissent is a pretty powerful collection of activist design. There’s a lot of ‘anti’ in there: anti-war; anti-government; anti-Capitalism… but I think some of the imagery is still quite positive. And much of it flips the propaganda style on it’s head really effectively.
I’m unsure if this will be of any use for the activist photo, but if I do decide to use graphics in the image or the final project, this will be an incredibly rich resource.