During this 3 part blog, I will discuss my philosophy on drawing and its practice. Referring to artists that have influenced my journey as well as critiquing my work based on what I have learnt.
My endeavor is to interpret three-dimensional form and space through the visual medium of drawing. It is the ability to translate the subject and simplify through line and tone, simulating the world around us. Drawing is created through the balance of motivation, thought and practice.
In this blog I will discuss the exercise of creating texture and tone with pen. My objective was to create texture and a range of values. An excerpt “Creating Textures in Pen and Ink with Watercolour” (Nice) was used as a reference. Using the techniques of cross-hatching, stippling and scribble to mimic individual textures, suitable to the subject.
The texture was resolved by using a combination of techniques, which also created visual interest. The direction of the marks and quantity was also considered, ensuring the volume was not compromised. To expand on this idea, the contour of the form followed the direction or turn of the plane. In addition to, rendering marks to correspond to the tonal gradation of light and shadows.
The purpose of tone is to visually depict objects on a two dimensional surface, and reinforce three dimensions. It suggests the core shadow, direct light, reflective light, and cast shadow. (How to Draw The Figure With Line and Tone, Gnass) In hindsight I would not have formed the linear silhouette but allowed the tone to suggest the edges of the subject. Our mind infers logic to object-related elements.
This theory can also be applied to an imagined light source, ensuring it stays consistent. “You cant light an object, unless you understand the volume of an object”. (How to Draw The Figure With Line and Tone, Gnass)
Claudia Nice, Creating Textures in Pen and Ink with Watercolour, 1995, North Light Books, Cincinnati, OH, (Excerpt on Pen & Ink techniques)
Genre helps us understand the relationship of film, by comparing and sorting the similarities and differences. “Genre may be defined as patterns, forms style structures which transcend individual films” (Attaman). In this Blog I will discuss Monster Horror and its influential genres and its evolution, including German Expressionism, Science Fiction and Kaijū.
Monster Horror is an ideological topic that deals with our most basic instincts of fear and survival. German Expressionism was a style of cinema that emphasized expression beginning before WW1. (Brief History of Horror) Nosferatu, 1922 was a film based on Bram Stokers Dracula. The immortal vampire incited created fear in its audiences killing numerous victims through exsanguination. The lurking shadows of Nosferatu were used as screen irony to create fear in its audiences.
King Kong 1933 was an influential film not only due to its monster but its advances in stop motion and various other film effects. “Film theorist have traditionally classified films like King Kong as belonging to horror, monster or science fiction…” (Mediating Nature) the defining factor that categorizes the various themes and tropes of monster horror is the fear it evokes. “A canoe full of natives from this island was blown out to sea. When the barque picked them up, there was only one alive.” (King Kong, Denham)
Godzilla, 1954 was a reaction to the suffering of a nuclear attack of WW2. The audience identifies with the theme, inventing a monster to depict the destruction brought upon its people. Kyohei Yamane-hakase: “It’s impossible! Godzilla absorbed massive amounts of atomic radiation and yet it still survived.” (Godzilla, Yamane-hakase) Throughout the film Tokyo was oppressed by violent and destructive attacks by Godzilla. The film was a success and influenced a number of sequels, hence inspiring its own genre Kaiji. “Kaijū is a Japanese word that literally translates to monster”. (Gutenberg)
“With Horror Films Falling out of fashion in the 50s, however the only solution was to rebaptize all these films according to the new science fiction fad” (Film/Genre, Attaman)
Genre is a class or category of artistic endeavor, therefore whatever label we assign, it can surpass it by its own properties. In The Creature from the Black Lagoon, 1954 fear is evoked by the appearance of gill mans web hand. It telegraphed a threat or warning, preparing the audience for the monsters emergence.
The films can transcend its initial label by prime common factors and themes. Monster Horror aims to create tension, terror and fright in its audiences. The existence of a supernatural monster, that creates fear, death and destruction and the protagonists journey of survival, identifies the borders of Monster Horror.
Film/Genre, Rick Altman, London 1999 BFI Publishing.
Mediating Nature, Nils Lindahl Elliot, 2006, Publisher: Routledge, UK
In this blog I will explore mise-en-scene from the aspect of visual themes in a sequence of events. I have considered shots separately in order to examine the contribution each one makes…as they unfold on the screen in space and time, fulfilling separate functions.” (Film Art: An Introduction, Pp 146, Bordwell)
Act 1 – An ape discovers the tool in the form of a bone.
“You begin with an artifact left on earth four million years ago by extraterrestrial explorers who observed the behavior of the man-apes of the time and decided to influence their evolutionary progression.” (The Film Director as Superstar, Kubrick) The entire fist act is without dialogue and leaves the audience to “fill in” the visual experience themselves.
The “Origin of the species” by Charles Darwin 1859, explains a means of natural selection produced the next progression in evolution. However in Kubrick’s 2001, an out-of-place artifact, (the monolith) sets in motion a progression of higher intelligence. The audiences awareness or “collective consciousness” could have related the sequence of images to the book “Chariots of the Gods” by Erich von Daniken 1968, published in the same year Kubrick’s 2001 was screened. It also explains “artifacts were produced either by extraterrestrial visitors or by humans who learned the necessary knowledge from them.”(Chariots of the Gods, Daniken)
Act 2 – The red room and hard drive of HAL 9000
The internal brain of HAL poses questions of artificial intelligence through the personification of language used by the machine. The Interviewer questions the astronaut, Dr. Poole; Do you believe HAL has genuine emotions? In response “Well he acts like he has genuine emotions…” (2001: A Space Odyssey, Interviewer and Dr. Poole) Hal appears to become increasingly devious throughout the second act. In the scene above to protect human life on board Dr. Dave Bowman needs to disconnect HAL.
As he floats into the hard drive of HAL the audience is encompassed with the colour red. Red possibly projects a physiological response from the audience of danger. Red was associated with danger when women realized red berries are poisonous. “color preferences are wired into the human visual system as weightings on cone-opponent neural responses that arose from evolutionary selection” (An ecological valence theory of human color preference. Palmer & Schloss)
Act 3: The monolith in the sterile room surrounded by 18th century décor.
Dave’s placed in a “hospital terrestrial environment drawn out of his own dreams and imagination. In a timeless state, his life passes from middle age to senescence to death. He is reborn, an enhanced being…and returns to earth prepared for the next leap forward of man’s evolutionary destiny.” (The Film Director as Superstar, Kubrick) Kubrick projects a sense of leaping through space time using montage transitions during Dr. Bowman death and rebirth. The monolith makes its 4th and last appearance, returning to the theme of an evolutionary leap. The score “Thus Spake Zarathustra” (Richard Strauss, 1869) reinforces the relationship between the first and last scenes, providing a tempo and creating suspense and tension for the audience.
Kubrick’s expression in mis-en-scene strengthens the themes of evolution and poses questions on intelligence. The lack of dialogue and the expanse of imagery and score encourages the audience to think about what the shots represent. The audience is given space to draw upon their own experiences and interpret the film for themselves.
2001: Space Odyssey, 1968, Stanley Kubrick, DVD, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, United States
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, (http://www.pnas.org/content/107/19/8877.full), Online article, An ecological valence theory of human color preference, 2010, Palmer S & Schloss K Edited* by Paul Kay, University of California, United States
Thus Spake Zarathustra, 1869, Richard Strauss, Music, Vanguard Records, Germany
Rear Windows is concerned with themes of voyeurism. The lead character Jefferies played by James Stuart, observes his neighbor’s lives from his rear window. Jefferies is injured and confined to a wheelchair for seven weeks. He begins watching the neighbors to pass time, becoming increasingly intrigued with their lives. He is an onlooker, making observations and drawing conclusions based on a stereotypical point of view. He questions the ethical nature of his behavior, “is it ethical to watch a man with binoculars and a long focus lens?’’ (Rear Window, 1954). His Insurance nurse Stella comments “We’ve become a race of peeping toms”…What people outta do is get outside there own houses and look in for a change.” (Rear Window, 1954).
Alfred Hitchcock uses a visual storytelling equivalent in his compositional choices. An example of this is distinct frame separation to show Jefferies point of view. Hitchcock also uses form to show the relationship between the characters. An inverted triangle is used to depict the current position of the protagonist. The composition strengthens the story telling, paralleling the characters perspective and emotional state. Hitchcock is playing out what is going on internally, visually showing the audience the “mind of the individual.” (Rear Window Ethics, 1954, Hitchcock)
The majority of the film is shot in, and from the perspective of one room. This evokes the experience of one-sided opinion and speculation. Hitchcock shoots across the courtyard from Jeffries point of view, never within the intimate space of the neighbors units themselves. He often uses Jefferies windows as a frame or a circular frame to mimic the view from binoculars. “A Frame supplies a pictorial foreground element, contains the action, and prevents the viewer’s eyes from wondering off screen.” (Mascelli, 1965 pp 234). Mr. Thorwald is the focus of Jefferies attention. He suspects Thorwald has murdered his wife, however he was asleep when the event took place. Hitchcock places the antagonist in the center of the composition as the main focal point on several occasions as Jefferies, Lisa and Stella draw conclusions from his behavior. Det. Lt. Doyle makes a point that there is no physical evidence and the speculation can be circumstantial.
The Characters are unified in their opinion that Thorwald is guilty, however Lisa along with Stella decides to take action and investigate what is buried under the rose bed. Jefferies is coffined to a wheel chair and therefore cannot explore beyond observation. The characters form an inverted triangle, where Jefferies is immobilized and in a venerable position due to his condition, thus creating a visual drama in the composition. “A triangle form suggests strength, stability, solidarity of the pyramid”… “A reverse triangle, with its apex at the bottom, may also be used although it lacks the stability of the pyramid…” (Mascelli, 1965 pp 203).
Hitchcock challenges the stereotypical opinion on social status, as we watch Lisa become involved in Jefferies journey. Hitchcock evokes the audience voyeuristic curiosity through compositional choices. At the height of the second act, the antagonist looks directly at the camera. The audience themselves became voyeurs and “peeping toms” (Rear Window, 1954).
Rear Window, 1954, The Hitchcock Collection, DVD, Universal, Universal City, CA 91608, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Rear Window Ethics: Rememberinf and Restoring a Hitchcock Classic-Making Of, 1954, The Hitchcock Collection, DVD, Universal, Universal City, CA 91608. Quote By Alfred Hitchcock
Mascelli, Joseph, 1965, The Five C’s of Cinematography, Silman-James Press, Beverly Hills,CA 90210.
Glebas, Francis, 2009, Directing the Story, Focal Press, Burlington, MA