After some tribulation with trying to find a laser printer which I could load my own paper into, I managed to get my flies printed onto my ceramic decal paper.
I figured seeing as I only had one sheet, and I couldn’t print onto it more than once I may as well completely fill it, and this also leaves me with the option of making plenty of dead fly tableware in future.
After laminating it, I carefully cut out some of the dead flies. This was difficult as the drawings are hard to see between the two layers of paper, but holding it up to the light I was able to see enough to cut an accurate silhouette
First, the instructions said to turn the image so that it is “right reading”. I can only assume that this means opposite to the way it was printed? And then wet that side with a damp sponge. After 30 seconds, slide off the white paper on the top layer.
Then submerge the decal in water until soaked, and remove, then placing face down (revealed side down) onto your surface.
After this, leave it to cool in lukewarm water for 3-5 minutes. The instructions then say to remove the “clear plastic film” from the surface of decals, but gently trying to peel away at it I found I was only pulling the decal itself off. This is likely something that I’ve done wrong, but nonetheless the end product looks great
Before printing out onto my special ceramic decal paper, I wanted to first test out how various sized version of the flies looked, both in terms of quality and in the context of the bowl itself.
I think that the medium-small sized flies are the most effective, with the largest flies being to big and the smallest being too small. The flies which are closest to the real size of flies, if not slightly larger are the most off putting, with the potential to mistake them for real flies. While I very much like having a small amount of flies in the bottom of a bowl, when cutting them out I found there is also something very pleasing about having many flies of all different sizes laid out in a pattern.
Although my main idea for the project is to look at dead flies and insects in food bowls, while researching to look at similar works I also started expanding into looking at the idea of disgusting humour. I think the main appeal of the idea of a fake fly in the bottom of a bowl is the base instinct of knowing that you’re witnessing something disgusting, and that you instinctively feel repulsed by (flies being repulsive to humans at the best of times, let alone dead and in your food which you are eating and has already been inside your mouth), but then contrasted by the relief of realising or knowing that it isn’t real and will not do any harm to you. I think it is this that causes you to find the situation funny, and there have been plenty of studies done linking laughter to anxiety and a release of tension. I think this is best exemplified in objects where the psychological link we make to the object directly contrasts the function, so in this instance the idea of filth and bacteria which would usually be a cause for you to avoid or stop eating a food, directly built into an object which is designed to contain food. Other humorous examples I’ve found are
A soap shaped like a dog turd, something which we would usually avoid making direct skin contact with at all costs because of it’s filthy and germ ridden nature, but in this instance is necessary in order to make your hands clean. I think this is probably the best example of this that I have found as it contrasts so perfectly between it’s function and it’s associations.
While not such a direct association as the turd-soap, I find this toilet shaped mug both clever and funny, making an association that never would have occurred to me with the colour of a cup of tea and filthy toilet water. It shows how important context can be, and that putting the dark coloured water into the context of a toilet gives it a completely different association. However I think this is far less “disgusting”, probably due to the change in scale of the toilet breaking the illusion of the context change, and therefore making it easier for us to recognise that it is not in fact dirty toilet water.
I think what amuses me most about this picture is the absurdist element of trying to use a fair of fish for flip flops. Everything about this image is ridiculous, imagining how a person would balance on the slippery fish, the sound that they would make slapping along the ground, the smell as they start to decay, they are just completely unfunctional in every sense. However I don’t think this quite hits upon the idea of disgust, as I don’t think dead fish are something we immediately associate with disgust. Perhaps if they were more obviously rotting, as rotting fish is widely considered a disgusting smell, but these fish look too similar to live fish which we have no issue with.
This image however goes in the opposite direction, with it being entirely based on disgust, but then having no real functional element. What made the fish sandals funny is while they were “unfunctional” in the sense that they fulfilled their purpose so poorly as to be ridiculous, it was ridiculous because you could imagine a scenario in which they were being used. These “shoes” however do not in fact have any function at all, and while disgusting as images they do not engage the viewer, you do not imagine trying to place your foot inside it and use it as a shoe, it is disgusting simply because it is feces, and while the laces add to the narrative of the image it does not make it funny. These two pictures go to show that its a fine balance between disgust and function that makes an item humorous.
Looking at these two pieces by Kina Ceramic Design, they are good examples of my idea. However, I would say that the very deliberate way in which the insects are laid out across the plate, in almost a pattern with ants walking in a line across one side, with various other insects in groups elsewhere, detracts from the illusion of it being “real”. Not only this but the insects aren’t necessarily technically accurate, and strike me as being more “drawings of insects” than accurate representations of insects themselves which I tried to capture in my drawings for my bowls in France.
My first field module was interaction design, with our brief being to design an object with a computing element which you interact with without a screen. I found this to be a really interesting brief, although I was inexperienced with creating anything with computing functions I was looking forward to learning these skills. It quickly became evident that the focus of the exercise was much more focused on the design aspect and making a prototype, rather than a finished functional item. This gave me an interesting insight into the design process in terms of a product designer, looking at the target market, creating a video demonstrating it’s function, and looking at methods that can be used to trick a person into thinking that a prototype is fully functional when in fact it is being controlled manually behind the scenes. The video element especially was something I really enjoyed, and I found it really exciting to be able to go out and film my own video of a product and then sit and edit it together. I felt that I really gained a valuable skill that I wouldn’t have otherwise explored thanks to this project, and I think if I were to film a video again I would be far more confident and have a clearer idea of what I am doing. I also plan to go back and re edit my video, as I feel the original one was far longer than is necessary because I was under the impression the video had to be exactly 2:30 seconds long and so spent a lot of time laboriously making it fit that time, only to find that the time constraint was far looser. For my presentation at the end of the project, I was one of the only people in the group to have any form of physical prototype, let alone working, which it was by means of taking a mechanism out of a toy I already owned but which roughly demonstrated the function I wanted it to have. I feel like this has possibly caused me to have set myself a harder task in carrying the project forward, as most people will have just gone on to make a prototype whereas I now have to develop upon that prototype I have already made. My original plans for the project were quite ambitious, having internet connectivity, touch sensors, heaters, and all manner of things, despite having no experience in the area of arduino or knowing what components I would have to purchase. However, looking at things now and with the time I have left for the project, it is looking like I am going to have to narrow my goals and simplify it to just responding to touch with sound, which I feel is admirable enough in itself if I can achieve it. One of my main issues with this is not having the on hand technical tutoring to support me with my ambitious ideas, and I’ve found arduino a very difficult area to just jump into without first understanding the basics of components and coding.
Internet of things:
My second field project was the internet of things, which I was very much looking forward to as it is one of my tutor’s (Ingrid Murphy) main passions in her work, and I had heard a lot about it’s possibilities and was again interested at learning how to bring more technical computing skills into my work and hoping this subject would teach me them. However, unfortunately Ingrid herself had been booked very little time for tutoring this subject, and the majority of the tutoring was done by two different tutors, and I personally found very little of what they spoke about to be directly related to “The Internet of Things”. At no point during the project were we ever pushed into formulating ideas for an actual project, and instead it was largely us being shown different technologies such as 3D scanning and printing, Augmented Reality etc, all of which I had already been shown as a Maker student. Because of this, it wasn’t really an eye opening experience to a whole new world of possibilities for me, and even so I feel like a process isn’t a very good starting point for a project? In my opinion a process should be decided upon after having an idea, and while having a wide knowledge base affords you a better choice in options to best express your ideas, and may allow you to think in directions you wouldn’t have otherwise, I don’t think it’s good enough to just say “I’m going to do a project on 3D printing”. Because of having no clear end point to work towards, as well as the fact we had been shown little to no examples (other than by Ingrid) of these technologies and ideas being actually integrated into artistic works, I found it extremely difficult to come up with any ideas for this project at all as I simply had no context in which to work within. There was a strong focus on coding by the main tutor, however again having no end point to work towards I struggled to know what I was aiming to achieve with the coding and it all seemed like a difficult and fruitless effort. The Raspberry Pi was also something that was emphasised a lot, which was something I had heard of but had no personal experience with, and again not knowing what I could possibly purpose it for it seemed like a waste of time and money to purchase one, but then much of the teaching became redundant because it was based around programming a Raspberry Pi.
In all, while I think the idea of field is an admirable one and one that has the potential to work well, I feel like the execution on the whole is poor and uneven. There seems to be a great disparity between projects, with some having a very high workload and others having very little, some needing physical outcomes and others resulting only in an idea or a group experience. I think what I found most difficult about the field experience was the fact it was spaced out over many weeks, on a Tuesday and Thursday in the middle of the week. While I understand that we are meant to be simultaneously working on our Subject work over this time, I found that it was really impossible to be putting any real focus into more than one project at once. The modules either left me with no spare time at all as I was having to work on my field work over the rest of the week as I was with the Interaction Design project, or then having the opposite with the Internet of Things where I had no work to be getting on with, but the week was broken up so that I couldn’t get into the flow of focusing on my Subject work. I would much prefer if the project was given a dedicated block of time, say 3-4 weeks of time to be solely focused on the field project at hand with tutors available at least 3 out of 5 week days with work to be getting on with on the days without tutor contact. Not only this but I would like a more balanced standard of field subjects to choose from, each with roughly the same amount of work being asked for it so that everyone is working under the same time constraints and producing the same degree of work. I also struggle with the concept of having to be developing our final presentation for our field subject into an ongoing and improved project, as once you begin working seriously on Subject I then find that there is very little time to be revisiting field, and it is too much to be juggling all at once. If I had the choice, field would be condensed into entirely the first term, with each field module being self contained with a finished item being presented at the end of it. This then allows the ideas and experiences from field flow into the subject work more organically, as currently I’ve found field to be more of an interruption and an obstacle to my Subject work, as by the point you get to seriously start working on your Subject in the second term you have already at least settled on an idea which is then difficult to stray away from and incorporate elements of Field into .
After my week in France at La Perdrix and our collaborative project in making dinnerware, and I was specifically painting dead flies into bowls, I realised that I could use this as a basis to bring forward my internet of things project which I had previously been pretty stuck for ideas on.
The project in France originally planned to have an outcome involving Augmented Reality, although we didn’t manage to achieve that due to the very poor internet making us unable to be able to upload videos to Aurasma (an augmented reality program). However I thought that this was something I would be able to relate back to the Internet of Things, which was a bonus because I had been very much enjoying painting flies in bowls and wanted to continue.
Ideally I would like to be able to throw my own bowls and to paint the flies in with glaze, as I did in France (although I can’t take any credit for having thrown the bowls, they were all made by a ceramics student Jago Poynter in my group). However, with my very limited experience of throwing, the last time I did so being a year ago on my previous trip to La Perdrix I do not feel confident enough to be able to produce pieces of good standard in the amount of time we have left in university, especially given that time and resources are becoming increasingly more scarce towards the deadlines. But, after having spoken to my tutor Ingrid Murphy about this it was suggested that I could use ceramic decals, which would allow me to print an image onto the decal and then transfer it onto an already glazed bowl. This means that I can buy some bowls that suit my purposes, and then transfer drawings of flies and insects I have done onto the surface in order to get the effect I want. I then intend to link this to Aurasma, which will then overlay a video, perhaps of the bowl full of soup and then draining to find the fly at the bottom, or having real dead flies floating in the soup.
I like the idea of creating a piece of work with a humorous tone to it, which is not only functional but desirable because of it’s novelty (as well as hopefully skill with the illustrations). I think the augmented reality will then be able to enhance this novel and humorous element, reinforcing the joke of the disgusting idea of finding an insect at the bottom of your soup but in a safe environment where you can recognise it is not going to do you any harm.
Coming up to the end of this current Field module on “The Internet of Things”, I’ve found myself running into a few problems. My main issue is that there is no clear direction in the project brief, which while I appreciate this is to allow people to go in any creative direction that they wish, I think having no direction at all leaves me lost for any sense of purpose. The internet of things, and use of technology and coding within art and design is an upcoming field which is both exciting and interesting, yet all the examples and research I have looked at are all outside the realms of my capabilities, or of little to no consequence. Not only do many of these processes have a high barrier to entry in my opinion (coding especially), my main problem is not being able to see any useful outcome that I can work towards. While I can see that all of the things we have looked at are useful skills that can be applied in a variety of ways, I can’t necessarily visualise an artistic application that I can apply to my own practice. If I were thinking very ambitiously there are many ways in which technology could be used in my work, but I don’t think any of these ideas are feasible for someone of my knowledge level, and I don’t even necessarily know if my ideas are practical in real life.
However, the one area in which I feel I may be able to integrate the internet of things organically into my work is directly leading on from my last Field project, Interaction Design, and I can think of a variety of ways in which I could use technology in enhancing my “rumblebee” final outcome. I will have to consult with my tutors whether this will be allowed, to combine two field projects into one outcome or whether I will be expected to produce two separate objects, in which case I will have to start from square one.
One of the things we were shown in explaining the various possibilities and directions that “the internet of things” was the use of augmented reality. While I don’t usually like AR very much as I often find it to be slightly awkward and ill fitting to the environment, as well as not generally serving a purpose other than novelty, the Penguin NAVI app makes me reconsider this. Both fun, and serves a practical function, as well as encouraging interaction between people who are using it, rather than with the phone itself.