Cats Week 4: Introduction to Modernism

What is Modernism?

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Well, Modernism is the experience and expression of modern life. During the 19th centery (roughly 1880-1960), this was huge as people needed something different and with artists such as Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh expressing the modernism movement in a wide vierty of ways such as Impressionism, Cubism, Bauhaus, Surrealism, Futurism, Pop Art and Op Art. It broke away from traditional art and allowed us to experiment with art as previously art had always been ‘traditional’ and usually rather literal in terms of representing its subject.

During our session, we defined a series of key terms such as:

Modernity: The experience of modern life

Modernisation: The process of change that causes ‘Modernity’

Modernism: The reaction to the experience of modernity in the cultural sphere (Positive/Negative)

we also learned that modernism is debatable, negotable of what is new and modern, what is just simply not while also being driven by innovation.There are several factors that help define modernism such as;

  • Industrialisation
  • Social changes
  • New technologies and scientific advances
  • Political changes

Industrialisation:

Industrialisation began in the UK during the 18th century and by the 20th century East Asia has been the most recent to begin its industrialisation process. Industrialisation meant that bigger and better cities were being constructed, and as a knock on effect to this more jobs were being created which meant that lots more people had some form of work. Families now having work allowed us to see the rise in consumerism so to meet this demand new methods of mass production were introduced in order to meet the growing need. An example of this would be that it included a cheaper abundance of skilled labour and new materials. Industrialisation was also the transitioning period from where we began to step away from products created by a single individual to a range of people creating particular aspects of a product. Ideas such as fordism and taylorism were introduced during this period and drastically effected the ways that we consume. Fordism was described as ‘the eponymous manufacturing system designed to spew out standardized, low-cost goods and afford its workers decent enough wages to buy them’. As for Taylorism, it is known to be the idea of a process of management which would enhance workflow and productivity.

Social changes:

Some of the social changes included an increase in urbanism, leasure and allowed us to experience a wide range of different leasuire activities as some grew to be more popular then others such as cricket. Due to people having more money allowed people to really dive into consumerism and purchase forms of entertainment or leasuire.

New technologies and scientific advances:

If anything, one of the most notable factors of the 19th century was new technologies and scientific advances. This noted the beginning or major evolution of a huge range of things such as photography, transport, electricity, travel and speed, scientic theories and major advances in art materials. Photography has allowed us to capture an image in order to later reference from it, using it as a visual tool. Futurism is an artistic movement of expression of what our future may look like, which allowed modernism to express itself; especially in regards to displaying speed and movement.

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This futurism art piece was created by Giacomo Balla and its entitled ‘Abstract speed + sound’ (1913-1914).

Political changes:

Challanges with traditional authority during the 20th century with major global scale wars like WW1 and WW2  effected art majorly as seen in paintings such as Christopher Nevinson’s – Paths of glory as it expressed how modernist artists were feeling at that time. During this period, there were strong nationalist feelings, fascism and communism which all had a part to play during the modernist movement as seen in works such as El Lissitzky, Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, 1919-1920 which was a  propoganda poster that showed the bolsheviks defeating the white movement.

Artwork_by_El_Lissitzky_1919

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CATS Week 3: Semiotics 18/10/2013

Semiotics can be defined as ‘the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation’ (definition by Google). So basically, it’s the analysis of sign systems and how we use signs to display or understand numerous things ranging anywhere from emotions to directions.  The main point of interest within semiotics is exploring the links between words, images and ideas. We are also interested in the links between language and image and how our understanding of this helps us create meanings for signs and symbols. An example of this is using colour to suggest emotions or character traits, for example the colour red indicates passion, warning and even war.

Banksy, a UK graffiti artist, is well-known for using images and epigrams in order to produces pieces with dark humour within them typically related to politics.
banksy

This particular piece is called ‘Follow your dreams’ and is painted in a low-income area within Chinatown, Boston.  The piece shows a worn out male painter who has painted over the words ‘Follow your dreams’ with a cancellation sign. This signifies that the painter himself has given up on his dreams and is backed up with him looking worn out. Using semiotics we can look more into paintings by the use of colour, words and particular imagery; For example in this painting we can see the use of the colour black for the male artist which suggests death and is the symbol of grief. The colour navy denotes knowledge and power, and alongside the meaning of ‘Follow your dreams’ suggests that this man had his heart set on seeking the american dream in order to become something notable. The large red sign that says ‘Cancelled’ is red with white text, the colours white and red together in this piece connotes that the mans dreams have been boldly given up on and the use of red indicates warning and the white would indicate in this context that this is the honest truth.

Applying this to a game character rather than an artistic painting would use colours to help portray a character. In this instance I will apply semiotics to Pikachu, a well-known character from the Pokemon series.

pikachu
The yellow which covers 80% (a rough estimate) of Pikachu’s body suggests that Pikachu is a joyful, smart character with an energetic personality. Yellow can also connote a different possible side to Pikachu, as yellow can indicate a warning or caution. With the use of red on his cheeks surrounding the yellow connotes passion and love, but again suggests war and danger. Finally, the brown on his body suggests stability and is seen as a masculine quality. All this evidence from a brief semiotic analysis, in terms of colour alone, suggests that Pikachu is a fun loveable character who can become hot-headed or slightly enraged but will always be a stable and kind character. Just this analysis has allowed us to see what Pikachu is like before the character is animated and has made me think that in future when I design characters this is something I will use a lot within my designs.

Semiotics is derived from the greek word ‘semeiotikos’ and thanks to thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle who began to think about the connection between language and its interpretation, has allowed us to know semiotics as we know them today. Plato believed that representation can be possibly taken the wrong way by creating illusions and that it was importance to monitor this or it could create antisocial activity and emotions. Aristotle thought it was important to imitate things as it allows humans to learn, even if its imitating animals.

aristotle
Aristotle spoke of representation in three ways:

  1. The object: The symbol being represented.
  2. Manner: The way the symbol is represented.
  3. Means: The material that is used to represent it.

Two major key thinkers who played a big role in semiotics were Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Sanders Pierce. Ferdinand de Saussure was born in November 1857 and taught general linguistics at the University of Geneva. His main interest and focus was the understanding of conditions for the existence of any language. He introduced the idea of using a dyadic to help determine the semiotics of an entity using;

  • Signified
  • Signifier

facebook

This dyadic denotes what Ferdinand thought about how an image can link with a meaning. This iconic image belongs to Facebook and is the signifier as it is the material aspect of the sign. While it stands for an aspect of social media and a form of expression, so this would make it the ‘signified’ as it signified social media.

Charles Sanders Pierce was an American philosopher, logician, mathematician and scientist but considered himself a logician above everything else. He was born 10th of September 1839 and was educated as a chemist. Charles developed Saussures ideas further and argued that instead of being a dyadic it is instead a triadic and consists of;

  • Sign
  • Object
  • Interpretant

triadic

Charles also proposed we can identify three categories within the relationship between signs and objects, these are;

  • An IconAn Icon is an image, text, or word that physically symbolises something. For example on most software packages you are given a printer symbol which suggests you are able to print.
  • A Symbol – A symbol is an object that represents, stands for, or suggests an idea, visual image, belief, action, or material entity. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbol
  • An Index – An Index is defined by a sensory feature, for example dark clouds in the west indicate the possibility of rain.

So to conclude my blog post, semiotics is the study of signs and symbols which allow us to identify and interpretate entities effectively.

CATS Lesson 2 11/10/2013

The main topic of CATS Lesson 2 was an introduction to Analysis. During the lesson, we gave feedback about the homework we were set the lesson previous, this was just a list of keywords that we had to define.

keywords

After this, we began to look into what analysis was. Analysis is defined as ‘A detailed examination of the elements or structure’ and in order to analyses we must observe and deconstruct in order to gain a better understanding of what it is we are analyzing. In order to use the process of analysis effectively we must also look at:

  • Thinking
  • Describing
  • Researching
  • Interpreting
  • Deciding if we like it or not
  • Evaluating it
  • Making comparisons to something else

We thought the best way to explore the process of analysis and in order to develop our skills would be to look at games and film. We discussed ‘A theory of fun for games design’ by Raph Koster and within his book he mentioned several notable things such as;

  • ‘Games are puzzles to solve, just like in everything else we encounter in life’
  • ‘Games serve as very fundamental and powerful learning tools’
  • ‘Exercises for the brain’
  • ‘It is the act of solving puzzles that makes games fun’

We watched a short clip from the film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968’ which was produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick and Co-written by Kubrick and Arther C. Clark. It is a Sci-fi film which was described by film critics as an ‘epic film’ and ‘the most dazzling visual happenings in the history of modern picture!’ by Time Magazine. The film is about the ‘vision’ of technological evolution in the future and how advanced it has become whilst also dealing with human evolution, Artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial life.

Within our group we were told to analysis the film clip and to give our opinion using particular keywords, the keywords I obtained were ‘Sound, Time and Movement’. For Sound we decided that within the clip, we were drawn to the AI’s monotone voice and how expressionless it was. This was a key factor of the clip as it made you feel as if the AI was near human but was as if it was a child, making decisions without knowing the consequences fully. This was backed up within the clip as the AI was singing to ‘Dave’ as he was being deactivated as a child does not anticipate nor fear death, so overall this scene was very emotional despite contrasting with the AI’s characteristics as he is a cold, hard emotionless machine.  Discussing the keyword ‘Time’; we as a group established that Dave seemed rushed and scared but the AI seemed patient and calm, again showing his lack of human emotions to respond to a situation which results in his demise. Finally, we all concluded that the clip was slow and the atmosphere slowly changed for me in terms of establishing split emotions for the AI and Dave, as Dave was terrified and wanted to end the AI quickly to end everything yet the AI was ‘childlike’ despite being an emotionless machine which gave you empathy for the role he played; so balancing the time correctly within this scene was important in order to make you feel for the characters and what was happening.

3D Artist Inspiration: Gavin Goulden 16/10/2013

The artist I have chosen to look into for my 3D artist inspiration is Gavin Goulden due to how inspiring his work is to me. I have previously written about Gavin during my ‘3D Artist’ post as I was researching into artists that have shipped games and looking in depth at some of their work. I made the decision to look into Gavin’s work in particular because of my keen interest for digital sculptures and hope to begin practicing myself in order to hopefully learn some of the skills and techniques he uses to create such beautiful pieces.

For my class project we have been asked to create a 3D model, I have made the decision to create a character designed by myself using Gavin’s style and influences from his work for inspiration in order to create a clay model of a character (from the bust up).  Gavin Goulden has inspired me to look at the steam punk fashion and implement it into my character design due to his designs within Bioshock Infinite, such as the motorized patriot and the boys of silence being something that I want to bring into my work due to their unique style. Another factor of Gavin’s work I find admirable is his range of character designs and how he breathes life to each one (in regards to personality using visuals) despite the contrast in each character, an example of this would be his Captian Beefheart in comparison to his character designs from Dead rising 2.

Wanting to find out more, I decided to reach into ways that I may be able to contact Gavin Goulden; which to my delight I discovered he had a Twitter account! Confronting an inspirational figure is NOT easy (as I quicky discovered) so I decided to ask him about his work flow and inspirations. He responded to my tweet with information explaining his work flow and a list of people who have inspired him over the years. I will compose an additional blog post regarding information which Gavin provided to me once I have looked at his inspirations myself. Futhermore, I will compose within that blog post concept designs of my character as well as a draft clay model of the character so I can get used to using clay (due to it being my first time using clay properly).

Photoshop: back to basics

Finally, the topic I have been dying to see emerge! Due to being a personal interest of mine for many years, I have always been the observer and never the artist when it came to any artistic endeavors within Photoshop which normally ended with very disappointing results. The lesson was amazing as per usual as not only did I find myself fully immersed but I learned the basics of Photoshop which has allowed me to begin to create images of my own. Looking at Photoshop more closely its easy to see why it is one of the most widely used pieces of software used within a huge rage of industries. Using Photoshop since this lesson has allowed me to introduce colour to my sketches which has made my work look more professional and presentable.

Gareth spoke to us about the difference between scanning an image at 72 DPI and scanning another in 300 DPI. The difference between these is how you intend to use them, so in general terms 72DPI is great for web as it loads fast while 300DPI is better for print because it helps retain quality when printing images. If a 72 DPI image was used for printing, then the image would look poor due to looking pixellated hence why more pixels are used in order to give more detail. We also discussed the difference between a vector and raster (also known as bitmap) image, but I found my original definition of this to be completely wrong so I decided to look up the difference between the two.

After researching this, I discovered there are several differences about raster and vector images. Firstly, A vector image uses mathematical formulas in order to calculate curves and lines. This implies when the image is stretched it will be able to calculate where the additional pixels will go in order to recreate the original image despite its change in size. With a raster image, individual pixels are used in order to create an image and when you zoom into a raster image you can see the individual pixels used within the image. There are a range of advantages and disadvantages between each such as due to raster images using mathematical formulas in order to create an image, the file size is generally a lot smaller than a raster image. While on the other hand, raster images can be considered better as they work better on the web than vector images do.

Orc_-_Raster_vs_Vector_comparison

Within Photoshop, we looked at a range of tools that the software had to offer.
Firstly, there were layers which acted as a form of acetate giving you the ability to look underneath or change where you would like to place the ‘layer’. This is useful for when you want to delete or adjust sections of an image you have created in a more organised way without having to rid all that you have created since that error. This would not only waste time and become annoying but would also mean redoing everything you had done since that point as you would have to click ‘undo’ which gets rid of your last action. Having layers in place allows you to become more organised and structured with your work. This is what acetate looks like for those who have never seen acetate paper before:acetate

After this, we look at transformations and adjustments. Using transformations in Photoshop allows us to change the shape and orientation using a range of tools such as free transform, rotate, distort, scale and warp. As for adjustments, it allows us to tweak the image using tools such as curves, brightness/contrast and hue/saturation. Using all these tools effectively allows us to manipulate the image to meet our needs and proves useful to many Photoshop users and artists. For example whenever we adjust the hue it allows us to alter current colours by using from a wide spectrum of colours, so you could change your red hat into a blue hat by simply using this tool. Here is an example of adjusting hue I found on Google images which is being shown in an older version of Photoshop, but still shows you the idea behind hue.

hue

There were many more tools we spoke about, so here is a general explanation of each for those who are interested:

Marquee tool – allows you to copy and paste sections which you select, this is also known as the lasso tool.

Cloning tool – Allows you to select an area and to blend the selection into a dedicated area. This is good for things such as blending an area with a texture.

Dodge and Burn tools – allow you to alter exposure and create shadows or light to your image.

Add/Subtract selection tool – Allows you to alter your selection without having to click off the image.

Distort tool – Allows you to change the perspective of an image.

Hope this helps you as much as It helped me!

C.A.T.S Lesson 1# (4/10/13)

One of the first lessons I have learned during my first full week of this course is C.A.T.S (Critical and Theoretical Studies), is not ‘easy’ or ‘simplistic’. In fact, It was so crammed with weird words, theories and information I am perplexed with how I am to present this information to you all, but I think the best start would be from the beginning so here goes.

Firstly, we were given a briefing to what effects games design and game play. Some of the ideas put forward to answer this was the games narrative and story, The immersion and environment and finally the interactivity, creativity and flow.

Going slightly off topic yet relevent to the point, I had previously conversed with a close friend about the topic of ‘flow’ and its meaning. Quoted from his WordPress blog, he described flow as ‘Flow is the state of mind the individual enters when they have acquired a high skill level within an activity and there is a high challenge present for that individual, meaning they becoming utterly focused on the task in front of them and they have to concentrate entirely.’ I found this idea interesting as it is something that has happened to all of us at some point but I had never really heard of the theory or terminology for the subject until recently.

After this small discussion we were asked to watch a video by Kevin Kelly which he spoke about his opinion on technology. Kevin Kelly spoke about comparing technology to biological organisms and he uses this comparison throughout the majority of the video.  He asks ‘What does technology want’ (Which again, he is applying technology to a biological organism). He spoke about how we all started at the same point yet diversified later on to make ourselves unique just as technology has done over time.

He noted that resurrecting old ideas is of vital importance which reminded me of something one of my teachers spoke of during my first week of University which ran along the lines of ‘In order to look forward we must look back’. Basically meaning that in order to make something we have to look at our mistakes and achievements in order to create something which will not only function but work effectively.

Kevin Kelly said that ‘Technology never truly dies and information truly never disappears’ which I believe to be true as if you look at games controllers over time they have not ever ‘disappeared’ as they have always been improved on by looking at past controllers although you can still note some of the similarities with todays controllers.

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Kevin Kelly spoke about his thoughts on how fast technology is evolving and how he believes that it is accelerating evolution. He feels as if every person who is able has an obligation to create new freedoms of expression by creating technology. I found this ironic because he spoke of ‘freedom’ throughout his speech, yet in order to have our freedom we are obligated to provide in order to obtain it yet showed fact as we are expected to help evolve current technologies in order to keep them evolving at its current rate. I believe that people should earn and fight for what they want, technology and freedom of expression included, so that if we want better and more efficient ways of expression through technology then we have to be the ones to pay for it in order to better ourselves.

Here is the video that I spoke of within this post, Have fun watching and I hope you are moved by this individual.

Before leaving the class, we were asked to find an image of a game that represents our personal interest in games design. It was hard to think about what game I could possibly use to show my first encounter with games which drove me to have a passion for playing games. After a long process of elimination, I have decided that this game was Pokemon Yellow. I chose this game out as this was the first time I was fully immersed into a world outside of our own and engaging with new creatures and to battle to the top. This game meant a lot for me as I had always had to share with my brother in order to play games, but with Pokemon yellow I owned my own yellow Gameboy Colour. This game was a large part of my childhood and something that I was passionate about for years, and still to this very day I still carry round a small part of this with me (My keyring has a pikachu on it which I have kept since I was about 10 years old)

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pokemon

Introduction to Games Design>History of Games Design>New topic!

I was given a ‘lens’ in order to diversify the class so each persons work would be different. I am to incline my work towards Game Art/Aesthetics/Trends while creating my history of gaming timeline. I am excited to explore this particular theme because I have a large interest in the graphics and designs within games. For game art, I will research not only games that have interested me in terms of their visual appeal but look outside of the box and look into new styles of game art and enhance my knowledge of current and new game artists.  For Aesthetics I will explore the definition of what the word actually means in order to gain a solid understanding of its meaning. I will research a range of aesthetics and how they apply to the graphics of games. Finally, I will talk about the ‘Trends’ within the physical design and how they repeat themselves over a set period of time and I will talk about the reasons why this occurs. For each of the subjects I will give a thorough explanation, retentive images and links as well as my opinion on each. I will begin my research sooner rather then later as this subject seems interesting as game art in general is something that intrigues me. I will post all my research and finding within my next post so watch this space.

Hull/Leeds/Wakefield trip

Hey guys!

I have made the decision to keep a blog in order to show you guys what I’m doing during my course so that you can follow my journey into games design. I thought that by keeping a blog would allow me to personally reflect on what I’ve learned, need to learn and to see how my skills change over time as I progress through the course.

So I guess I best fill you in with what I’ve done so far!

We visited Ferens art gallery as a group in order to gain some inspiration for our games design course. We needed to see what ideas and information we could pull from this unique place in order to capture it and make it into something of our own. I found the task daunting as I have never been asked to do such a project, yet the challenge of trying this new approach to finding inspiration from other artists who we may know nothing about or have little reason to look at their work, UNTIL TODAY.

While at Ferens I was drawn to several pieces but in particular was the large piece by John Keane which was titled ‘Fairy Tale of London’. The reason I found this exhibit interesting in particular was the constant referencing to struggle and despair. I liked how the artist created an atmosphere and how he also made you feel for the characters displayed within the oil painting.  All the paintings within the gallery allowed me to fully immerse myself into what the artist was trying to portray, so for me the gallery was an amazing experience.

We also visited two other galleries in Wakefield and Leeds which were as fascinating to me as ferens art gallery yet I know this was probably a rare opportunity to visit so I’m glad I was able to go. I managed to pick up a range of drawings and information from both these additional galleries, but also I was able to experience Leeds as this was my first time visiting! I will blog some drawings and more information on the galleries later on, so keep checking this blog guys

Peace out xo