"A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet."

Archive for 2011|Yearly archive page

Antonioni’s “Blow-up” and the memory of London in the 60’s

In Architecture, Film, The Art of Film, Theory Work on April 21, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Visit my new Essay’s Blog: FilmandSpace

Swinging London in the mid-1960s was the last place you might expect to find an onscreen discussion of the ontology of the photographic image or musings on the very nature of human perception. Nor was London, whose contemporary style was typified by the daily and very public passagiato of Carnaby Street, The Rolling Stones and That Was the Week that Was, likely to be the setting for a film that would call into question the very nature of sight and memory as well as skewering the common posturings of that decade. Yet Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup is a film that resonates today and is still capable of raising questions about the epistemology of the Cinema, while coldly recording a period that seems, in retrospect, so very fantastical.

Antonioni’s career as a cinematic chronicler of Northern Italian middle class urban ennui was already established by the early 1960s. With L’Avventura (1960), which won the Special Jury Award at Cannes and Il Deserto Rosso (1964), a chronicle of empty life in a modern Northern Italian industrial wasteland, he revealed a unique aesthetic and a cold eye for human pretension and a certain emptiness at the heart of the contemporary city. Indeed, Antonioni seems to call into question the celebrated wonders of modernity itself in a way that seemed to echo the concerns Jacques Tati had explored so comically in Mon Oncle (1958): namely whether modern life, particularly in a city infatuated with the New, was worth the aggravation.

All of which suggests that perhaps Antonioni was more than a little aware of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (1927) which claims that any observed happening (however neutral or scientific the act of observation) is altered by the mere presence of the observer. Observation is thus never a neutral or abstract process. Certainly if there is a central informing principle to the narrative matrix of Blowup it is this: that no phenomenon is pure unto itself – especially when human emotions come into play, let alone consideration like guilt, obsession and, finally, fear.

The film commences with a fast moving introduction to the very stylish world of a hot fashion photographer, Thomas, played by that emblematic ’60s actor, David Hemmings. This is the world made notorious by magazines like Tatler and Queen as well as all the tabloids of the world, all Pucci fashion, dolly birds (Jane Birkin made her name in this film), drugs, fast cars and rock-and-roll.

As for those actual ’60s photographers Terence Donovan and David Bailey, from whom Thomas’ character seems in part constructed, this is the historical moment when the photographer/model association became an object of public worship. Thomas is surrounded by a fog of available chicks and big money. Trendy London lies at his feet. Antonioni, like Federico Fellini in La Dolce Vita (1960), was clearly out to peel back the decadence to show the abyss beneath – all dazzlingly brought to life with the aid of Carlo Di Palma’s jazzy cinematography.

The movie then goes into overdrive as Thomas sees something (or maybe not) while photographing in a London park. The swinging world recedes as Thomas becomes morbidly obsessed by the possibility he has in fact photographed a murder. Is that a body under the bushes? If not, what, then? The title’s meaning becomes clear as Thomas repeatedly enlarges, studies, and reworks his negatives to locate the proof for something, any evidence of a possible occurrence that seems, as his obsession grows, to become increasingly elusive. Subsequently, the film becomes, in part, a meditation on the very nature of reality and how we deform the natural with interpretations and inflexions.

Unlike a more conventional thriller (as Blowup sometimes appears) the film offers no cosy or pat solution – we never know, nor can Thomas tell, whether there was a murder, or if all that occurs is a product of a fevered mind in an overheated big city?

Read more…

Jill Kennington discusses her participation in Blow-Up.

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Architecture of Mind

In Architecture on April 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm

“There is double and crossed situating of the visible in the tangible and the tangible in the visible: the two maps are complete, and yet they do not merge into one. The two parts are total parts and yet are not superposable.”

-Merleau-Ponty, “The Intertwining-The Chiasm”

In Kiasmus ” an interior mystery and the exterior horizon , which, like two hands clasping each other, form the architectonic equivalent of a public invitation. ”
-Steven Holl, “Kiasma monograph”

Steven Holl asks the same question of architecture that Merleau- Ponty asks of philosophy . Can the ambulating sentient being embedded as he or she is in the matrix of concretized values as they are inscribed in that being experience and understand seeing in a context articulated for that purpose? How can a building such as Kiasma, function simultaneously as the “frame” of the experience of and for visual art and as an embodiment of the very process of seeing. For Holl like Ponty uses the analogy of the optic chiasm with its “inflected” decussating fiber structure which appropriates the visual field like a highway cloverleaf, allowing each hemifield to be conjoined, left side to right sided brain and right side to left side of the brain, to serve a as model to appropriate the entire visual apparatus including the eye and the folded surface of the brain, for his purpose.

Read the full article here.

UK students benefit from study abroad.

In Design, Weekly Update on April 14, 2011 at 12:13 pm

“Recent estimates suggest 33,000 UK students are studying abroad, while 370,000 foreign students are studying in the UK, an imbalance which defines the UK as primarily a destination for international students (the second most important in the world after the United States) rather than a source of such students. Nevertheless, attention needs to be paid to outward mobility because of concerns that a low rate might hamper UK graduates’ competitiveness in global and European labour markets, while a high rate may signal a ‘brain drain’.”

Jill Ahrens (Sussex Centre for Migration Research; University of Sussex)


A review of international student mobility says that study abroad can significantly boost the chances of  a student’s success in later life and bring benefits to the UK’s knowledge economy:

“More and more, students are starting to understand the added value of mobility. The benefits are that it sets them apart from other students, looks good on their CVs, gives them transferable skills, the opportunity to travel, an international career, and personal development in terms of maturity and confidence (interviewee D, pre-92 university, Wales).”

‘International student mobility literature review’ was commissioned by HEFCE and the British Council, as the UK National Agency for Erasmus, to provide a better understanding of trends in the mobility of UK students and to compare them with those in other countries. The study considered the reasons behind students’ decision to study abroad and employers’ attitudes towards those who have studied abroad.

The report distinguishes between those who study abroad as part of a course at a UK higher education institution and those who study an entire degree course outside the UK.

Findings in the report include:

  • Increasing numbers of UK students have studied abroad in the past few years. This partly results from greater numbers taking part in Erasmus, an EU-funded scheme in which students can spend time in Europe as part of their study at a UK higher education institution. The introduction of work placements in the Erasmus scheme has contributed to this rise.
  • The UK is primarily a host country for foreign students. Around 370,000 students from outside the UK come here to study; there are less than a tenth of that number of UK students currently studying abroad.
  • UK universities could do more to provide clear and accurate information to prospective students about studying abroad. This could include highlighting the support they offer, and the benefits study abroad can bring, such as employment outcomes.

Heather Fry, HEFCE Director for Education and Participation, said:

‘This report highlights the benefits that UK students can gain from studying abroad. We should be doing more as a nation to publicise and support this. Students are missing out on opportunities, not least to improve their competitiveness in the international graduate labour market.’

Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said:

‘This report shows how UK students can gain by spending time abroad as part of their university experience. Whether it’s an internship at a company based overseas, or a study period at a foreign university, students gain valuable skills which will benefit them throughout their personal and professional lives.

‘Outward mobility is particularly valuable when it forms an integral and accredited part of the student’s course. I am grateful to authors of this report for offering some useful suggestions for universities about how to increase student mobility, and also for highlighting some key areas for future research.’

Martin Davidson, Chief Executive British Council, said:

“The market for skills and talents is global, and more opportunities need to be provided for young people in the UK to gain international experience through work and study placements in other countries. Not only does this build cultural fluency, the ability to work in differing environments, but more importantly it will allow the UK to develop a workforce that can drive forward our knowledge economy.”

Regarding policy and practice, several questions beg to be answered:

The first is the balance between promoting inward as opposed to outward mobility. Most discussion focuses on the former, for its revenue-generating benefits to UK HEIs and to the wider economy. However, there is a growing appreciation of the importance of outward mobility, in recognition of the fact that UK-origin graduates with foreign experience bring greater human capital to the knowledge economy. Based on survey and interview data from various reports, as well as our own interviews conducted for this report, we identify a range of good practices HEIs can implement to foster greater outward mobility. These include: the promotion of mobility options at admissions Open Days, greater provision of clear and accurate information, greater staff mobility (since this has synergies with student mobility), highlighting the financial benefits and support available, publicising good employment outcomes from alumni and employers’ testimonials, ensuring clarity of credit transfer systems,

and using returning students as mobility ambassadors to prospective mobile students by involving them in promotional events, particularly for work placements as these are a growth area. For degree mobility, HEIs can do little except promote foreign universities as destinations for postgraduate study.

“Why, then, do students choose to study abroad? For credit-mobility students, a simple, facile answer is that they do so because it is a mandatory part of their degree programme; for others it might be an optional element in their degree. This, however, merely redirects the question to an earlier stage of the decision-making: why did they choose that degree course, with its in-built mobility opportunities? For the Erasmus programme, the ‘EU discourse’ promotes two main benefits and therefore motivations to students: acquisition of a foreign language and intercultural awareness; and improved employment prospects. At a macro-scale, too, these motivations have their equivalents: the creation of a multilingual, multiculturally aware European graduate population; and the enhanced competitiveness of European graduates, and of the European economy, in an increasingly competitive global scenario (King 2003: 163-166). These motivations are, indeed, picked up by Erasmus students when they are questioned or interviewed about the reasons for, and evaluations of, their mobility experiences. One the whole, it seems that they are more highly motivated by the general experience of studying or working abroad, than they are by its intrinsic academic merit or even, in some surveys, by its employment pay-offs.”

International student mobility literature review: Final report

Summary:

The report brings together recent literature and data on student mobility. It looks at the trends in UK international students’ mobility and compares these internationally. It also considers the causal factors for students’ choice to spend time abroad, the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of mobile students, and the impact that time abroad has on their employability; and it highlights policy and practice in HEIs in respect of student mobility.

Read the full report here.

November 2010;International student mobility literature review: Report to HEFCE, and co-funded by the British Council, UK National Agency for Erasmus ” by Russell King (Sussex Centre for Migration Research;University of Sussex), Allan Findlay (Centre for Applied Population Analysis, University of Dundee), Jill Ahrens (Sussex Centre for Migration Research;University of Sussex)


Unit 2B Spatial Strategies: Project Introduction-“Hell in a box”.

In Design, Project Work, Unit 2B, Weekly Update on April 9, 2011 at 12:27 am

Unit 2B SPATIAL STRATEGIES  (Read the Brief here)

To find out more about my new project please click on the link below:

http://hellinbox.wordpress.com/

My weekly update: 27 March 2011/ Group Work

In Weekly Update on March 28, 2011 at 12:10 am

This week I have been busy working on my group project.  We have been filming, recording sounds and making models…

This activities got me into reflecting upon the importance of a successful group work… What does it mean to work in a group? Can we learn anything from this experience?  And maybe even more importantly how can we improve on our skills for the future? When discussing the group project with my colleagues I couldn’t help noticing the grimace on everyones face followed by: ” You know group project is always hard…”

I started wondering: “Why are we so negative about this experience?”, “Shouldn’t we be more exited about if?”

What is the purpose of a group work?

  1. To elaborate on the ideas of others.
  2. People can find motivation, empowerment and liberation through group work.
  3. Reassuring power of being in the same situation.
  4. Reflective practice.
  5. Easy way of problem solving through group brainstorming.
  6. Group work is a form of cooperative learning. It aims to cater for individual differences, develop students’ knowledge, generic skills (e.g. communication skillscollaborative skills, critical thinking skills) and attitudes.

“Students who posses well developed group skills and understand their behaviour are motivated in their work and perform with healthy and optimistic approach.  By developing good group skills they find themselves in an excellent position as valuable future co-workers, leaders and human beings.”



Can we be taught how to behave and work in a group?  Are there any rules that we should follow?

What makes an effective team?

▪    It has a range of individuals who contribute in different ways and complement each other.

▪    Clear goals are agreed that everyone understands and is committed to.

▪    It has a coordinator who may adopt a leadership style. Different people may assume the role of leader for different tasks.

▪    There is a balance between the task (what do we need to do?) and the process (how do we achieve this?)

▪    There is a supportive, informal atmosphere where members feel able to take risks and say what they think.

▪    The group is comfortable with disagreement and can successfully overcome differences in opinion.

▪    There is a lot of discussion in which everyone participates. Group members listen to each other and everyone’s ideas are heard.

▪    Members feel free to criticize and say what they think but this is done in a positive, constructive manner.

The group learns from experience: reviewing and improving performance in the light of both successes and failures.

And what makes an ineffective team?

  • People talk more than they listen and only a few people may contribute.
  • Some members are silent and don’t contribute. They may be indifferent, bored or afraid to contribute.
  • Members ideas are dismissed or even ridiculed and their views are ignored.
  • There are arguments between members of the group (as opposed to constructive differences of opinion).
  • One or two members dominate the others and make the decisions.
  • Disagreements are put to the vote without being discussed.
  • Some members are unhappy with decisions and grumble privately afterwards.
  • Little effort is made to keep to the point or to work to deadlines.
  • There is a lack of clarity regarding goals and specific tasks are not agreed.
  • Roles are not delegated to particular team members.
  • There is a lack of trust and helpfulness.
  • Members don’t talk about how the group is working or the problems it faces.

To get to the root of the problem I started with doing a little research on the subject of working in a group and individual’s behaviour within a group:

An individual’s performance and his or our consciousness of it, and what are not present are the sources of unhealthy behaviour within a group.  Given that many are not wholly aware of their behaviour patterns and how they affect others, that equally many will not have thought about the matter at all or even want to, then the approach that reveals to them how their behaviour appears to others, followed by offering of information and guidance, may well give them for the first time some ability consciously to control aspects of their behaviour.

It boils down to the fact that whether the behaviour in question is one of a great lack of SOCIAL COMPETENCE through lack of opportunity to learn or behaviour which is asocial, unless the individual becomes aware of it and then decides to do something about it, very little change will actually occur, or if it does occur, it will not endure.

In simple terms, the only lasting changes which can be made in HUMAN BEHAVIOUR have to come from the individuals who are targets of the change.  This is usually summed up either in terms of public conformity for change, which is brought about by the application of outside pressure, or private acceptance for the change which is brought about by an individual’s desire to change.

As an (quite extreme) example of tension in a group I watched a film ” One Flew over Cuckoo’s Nest” based on a novel under the same title written by Ken Kesey. It is set in an Oregon asylum, and serves as a study of the institutional process and the human mind.

 

“Try not to become a man of success but rather a man of value” (Albert Einstein)

In my personal view a proper understanding and knowledge of WORKING ETHICS is a huge factor in the process of self development and THEN building a successful working relationships as a next step.

WORKING  ETHICS:

  1. Respect the rights and differences of others.
  2. Ensure that your behaviour/actions does not harm other people.
  3. Challenge constructively bad behaviour and discrimination.
  4. Think critically about your role and affect in a group.
  5. Work in a transparent and responsible way.
  6. Strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of other members of the group.
  7. Protect the rights and interests of other group members.
  8. Respect other ideas and views, even if you don’t agree.
  9. Be honest and clear.

Reaching an understanding is based on analysis and reflection of the ideas and beliefs.  Therefore it is important that students acquire and apply the habits of critical reflection, self-evaluation, consultation and more appropriate research in the evaluation.

To conclude.  What have I learned from working within a group?

Most notably I understood the importance of constant communication in the process of achieving good results within a group.  I have also become aware that a lot more emphasis and support should be put towards the acquisition of adaptable people skills that will help to build better future relations.

 

I hope that you have found my article interesting.  Please leave comments or your share your own experience within this topic.

Bibliography:

www.wikipedia.com/groupwork

http://www.mindtools.com

“Basic Group Work” by Tom Douglas







Books on film and architecture…

In Design on March 27, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Here is an outline of some of the books that I am reading now and recommend to anyone wishing to learn more about set design and architecture in film.

( added by Katrina Kocialkowska on: 13 March 2011)

Learning from Hollywood, Architecture in Film by Hans Dieter Schaal

Hollywood is not only the secret world capital of dreams and the fictions of the subconscious, but also the capital of architecture. Hollywood is the Rome and the Versailles of the 20th and 21st centuries. A new awareness of space spanning the entire world was created here. These backgrounds, stage sets and filmic spaces are indelibly fixed in every spectator’s mind. It may be in the cinema that the first time you saw the desert, the Rocky Mountain cliffs, Greenland’s glacier mountains and California’s sandy beaches.  Film’s power to bring people together can scarcely be overestimated. Film architecture is world architecture.

to buy or read more: www.waterstones.com

Ken Adam Designs the Movies: James Bond and Beyond by Ken Adam

This book showcases the drawings of Ken Adam, the man who has created some of the most iconic and memorable sets in the history of film. Presented chronologically, the book takes us from design sketches for his earliest movies, including “Around the World in Eighty Days”, through his Oscar-winning work with Stanley Kubrick, to production designs for what are probably his most celebrated films the first seven “James Bond” movies, including “Dr. No”, “Goldfinger”, “Diamonds are Forever” and “Moonraker”. Also included are production drawings for classics such as “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “Goodbye”, “Mr Chips”, “Sleuth” and “The Last Emperor”. Adam’s virtuoso sketches for films and other projects are accompanied by illuminating commentary from the eminent Sir Christopher Frayling, and together present an unrivaled archive of breathtaking and inspirational production design.

to buy or read more about it: www.waterstones.com

Cinematography, theory and practice by Blain Brown

Lavishly produced and illustrated, “Cinematography” covers the entire range of the profession. The book is not just a comprehensive guide to current professional practice; it goes beyond to explain the theory behind the practice, so you understand how the rules came about and when it’s appropriate to break them. In addition, directors will benefit from the book’s focus on the body of knowledge they should share with their Director of Photography.

to buy or read more about it: www.waterstones.com

A VERY INTERESTING READ!!!

From Still to Motion by Ball, Carman, Gottshalk, Harrington

Book and accompanying DVD with over six hours of video training–all geared to teach you everything about shooting video with your DSLR With the arrival of high-definition video-enabled DSLR cameras, photographers are faced with an opportunity for creativity and a competitive edge in their field unlike anything they’ve experienced before.  This book explores the entire spectrum of video for DSLR camera owners, with recommendations on gear, planning, lighting, lenses, audio, editing, color correcting, exporting, media management, and more.

* Covers a wide variety of shooting styles, including indoor, outdoor, studio, portrait, event, and available light. * Addresses technical challenges associated with DSLR video, such as camera movement, multiple camera coverage, low-light videography, and synchronized sound.

* Explores additional creative techniques such as stop motion and timelapse photography in depth.

HIGLY RECOMMENDED FOR ALL DSLR VIDEO ENTHUSIASTS!!!

My Weekly Update:

In Weekly Update on March 22, 2011 at 6:12 am

This week I have been:

1.  Watching “The Mirror” and “Ivan’s Childhood” both by Andrei Tarkovsky.

2.  Got Inspired by the short films of Peter Tscherkassky ( click here to watch  The Outer Space).

3.  Looking at the work of Ken Adam for set design and film industry.

4.  Making 3d models form my film project and playing with light and photography:

5.  Researching different camera techniques: dramatic blurring effects, using different camera positioning (off level, low angle, tilt “The Third Man”).

6.  How to tell stories with light:  Lighting as Storytelling; how to create negative spaces with the use of chiaroscuro, looking at the Film Noir.

7.  Reading about the Black Maria; first motion picture studio developed by Edison and Dickson (read more about it here).

Read more about KINETOSCOPE here.

8.  Brainstorming Ideas for the Tate Modern Competition “This is Britain”.

9.  Learning Final Cut Pro.

10.  And finally thinking about the learning/teaching activities at Chelsea College of Art and Design and how they could be improved.

Andrei Tarkovsky

In Film, The Art of Film on March 22, 2011 at 5:53 am

Russian film director was Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) was, arguably, the greatest filmmaker of his nation. He imbued each of his films with a poetry that embraced life and sought to reveal the myriad ways in which humanity manifests itself.


Scene from Mirror by Tarkovsky
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/andrei-tarkovsky-1#ixzz1HIxBSkak

Peter Tscherkassky

In Film, The Art of Film on March 22, 2011 at 5:44 am

Peter Tscherkassky (b. October 3, 1958) is an Austrian avant-garde filmmaker who works exclusively with found footage. All of his work is done with film and heavily edited in the darkroom, rather than relying on technological modes.

Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine:

Outer Space

Sir Ken Adam talking about his design work for 007

In Architecture, Film, The Art of Film on March 17, 2011 at 2:41 am

Production designer Sir Ken Adam was behind many of these, and here he shares his
thoughts on two of his most celebrated sets.

Click here to watch the documentary