Visual Narrative: Media approaches

‘Edges in Time’ is a series of ‘voice-related’ projects that explore underlying conceptual issues and ‘problems’ around our experience of time and place from philosophy, psychology and science that underpin my subject experience of the ‘everyday’ and processes of visual documentation of ‘realities’.

These projects are essentially exploratory, experimental and ongoing, building on projects I found interesting and relevant from my personal development sketchbook and moving image modules. The projects are concerned less with ‘polished’ outputs than creative approaches and frameworks and having a ‘safe place for unhappy accidents’ in developing ideas about place, time and ‘realities’ and new technical workflows that I then apply in more resolved projects in ‘Edges Shifting’ below.

I work in a range of still and moving image formats in a range of media: including drawing, printmaking, photography, collage, painting and digital media. I am very interested in different cultural styles and meanings, how they use line, shape, colour and abstraction and the different meanings artists intend and viewers bring to the image.

Much of my work is experimental, exploring different media and effects in response to a wide range of briefs. Different media, and also techniques within each medium have different ‘natural/obvious’ aesthetics based on their particular properties and also artistic histories and conventions. They also have specific relationships to subjectivity and time.

I enjoy working directly from life, sketching people and imagining the stories they might tell. Using sketchbooks of drawings and photography to explore different perspectives and moods.

I also work a lot with found images – doleful zebras in the woodgrain, monsters in the marble, dinosaurs in the clouds, faces in the sheet folds. I work with natural, mixed and print ‘accidental’ lines and  textures as a basis for ‘imaginings’, exploring the types of stories these suggest. Then I develop these images to clarify shapes, or as the basis for drawings and paintings, often combining these digitally in Photoshop or with Corel Painter.

I also start to develop some new approaches:

  • collage and digital montage of still photos and illustrations to discover and explore connections and contradictions of meaning, particularly in my more political work.
  • how to combine my still images and video clips into different types of interactive experience using Adobe Animate, Photoshop and After Effects to produce on-line e-book experiences.

A key aim in terms of ‘Sustaining My Practice’ is to develop technical skills and visual approaches that I hope to carry forward in current plans for a Graphic Design MA focusing on ‘Journeys as Beginnings’ to produce engaging animated and interactive on-line documentary accessible to global audiences. Some selected clips and images will be uploaded for feedback and social networking on Tiktok, Facebook and Instagram and possibly Stock Image sites to create a constant presence and grow the size of my on-line audience for more finished work.

Page Contents

Details of media and techniques can be found on my media-specific blogs. This page brings together overviews of my explorations and inspiration and links to the most relevant portfolio projects and other background experimentation:

  • Photographic narratives
  • Disruptive Normals: Armchair Sketchbooks consists of a series of sketchbook activities that help me create ‘new normals’ in my personal everyday life at home in a flexible and manageable way that I can integrate into busy as well as more intensive periods of creativity.Sketchbook narratives
  • Mindfulness in Slow Quick Time is a set of moving image explorations taking a playful look at ‘mindfulness’ and the different ways in which it can be experienced and expressed. Moving Image narratives
  • Printmaking narratives
  • Clarifying journeys of thought: animated abstractions is a series of abstract mapping and animation exercises in the form of StopMotion animations of print media that bring together dome of my thoughts about life, subjectivity and voice based on my conceptual and visual reading and research as well as my location projects.

Visual Narrative: Creative Storytelling

Narrative Theory. Linear and nonlinear narrative. Based on VisCom4Dev Moving Image. To be updated for more generic media approach.

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Photographic Narratives

Photography is a key element in all the projects as a foundation for ‘objective’ observation, recording events and as the basis for further development in other media.

The distinctive feature of photographic narratives are their grounding in some sort of light signal striking the sensors in the camera.

  • Single Image narratives: ‘decisive moments’, movement, layering and morphing
  • Sequential narratives: photobooks, interactive e-books and slideshows

Key photography-based narrative projects:

  • Anywhere Road: creative documentary photo book and photo collage
  • Moot Tales: photography of found textures
  • Hagg Wood: creative photography photobook

Photography as research and experimentation

  • Bramblefield Chronicles: photography as basis for illustration
  • In Praise of Littlefolk: photography as the basis for printmaking
  • Colours of Shingle: photography as the basis for illustration
  • The Island: photography as basis for narrative development

!!Insert SMUGMUG Portfolio links

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Sketchbook Narratives

Even from my comfortable armchair my personal and psychological life seems constantly ‘on the edge’ – if I am not already stressed, I find stresses either responding to everyday events bombarding me in the news or personal insecurities. At the same time I feel compelled to somehow remember this time, to slow life down as it flashes past one day merging into the next.

Diaries and sketchbooks can provide a ‘safe creative fun space’ explore my own ‘personal edges’ – philosophical and political views that characterise my ‘voice’ so that these can be explicitly and strategically integrated into my more ‘objective’ observational as well as subjective creative practice.

But there is a reason why I have always had difficulty keeping a regular diary – life has always been so busy being lived. Like the quantum uncertainty principle (proper ref here) measuring and recording thoughts alters and changes them. Even in quiet periods it is difficult to reflect and live at the same time. Every ‘now thought’ flashes to the past and a new thought comes before the last one was fully grasped. Never mind recorded and put on paper.

‘Disruptive Normals’ consists of a series of sketchbook activities that help me create ‘new normals’ in my personal everyday life at home in a flexible and manageable way that I can integrate into busy as well as more intensive periods of creativity.

  • ‘Everyday is a Life Experiment’: a daily sketchbook diary April-May 2021 and revisited April-May 2022 (forthcoming). overlaying ‘old normal’ memories, daily reflections and serendipitous responses against a backdrop of news events and daily changes. Visual recording of news items in spontaneous ‘kneejerk rages and rants’ helped calm down my thoughts for more objective analysis. But I found it was only manageable to keep up this momentum of response for short periods.
  • Cutting Edges of Subconscious: emerging narratives from cutting up A4 sheets of quick sketches in my front room. An extension of earlier surrealist experiments in randomisation, the images seen in random lines often reveal ones underlying subconscious thought processes and preoccupations.
  • Reflections at the Speed of Life : a more sporadic and reactive sketchbook practice that captures thoughts and events in note form as they happen, as the basis for periodic review, reflection and visual synthesis about once a month.

A lot of work to be done on this in parallel to, building on and feeding into my location work, particularly this last item.

Sketchbooks are a key element in most of the projects. As the basis for slower recording and reflection of locations and events, clarifying ideas and exploring more imaginative approaches and styles. Including text.

Single Images

Narratives: illustrated books and animation

Key sketchbook-based narrative projects:

  • Bramblefield Chronicles: sketchbooks as basis for illustrated narrative
  • Colours of Shingle: sketchbooks as the basis for illustrated poetry

Sketchbooks as research and experimentation

  • Anywhere Road: creative documentary photo book and photo collage
  • Moot Tales: photography of found textures
  • Hagg Wood: creative photography photobook
  • In Praise of Littlefolk: photography as the basis for printmaking
  • The Island: photography as basis for Stop Motion narrative development

Insert link to SMUGMUG portfolios

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Journeys of thought: animated abstractions

‘Life in the abstract’ is a project conducted in parallel to the location narratives, feeding into and drawing on my visual work. It consists of a series of animations and interactive animated maps that explore and clarify systemic frameworks of philosophical, scientific, psychological and political debates underpinning my work in this course:

  • Ethics, aesthetics and activism
  • Environmental debates in the UK that underpin my location narratives and activism
  • Time, reality and consciousness: ontological questions and evidence that inform my understanding of my own subjectivity and experience and documentary communication of time and place.
  • Political debates around social and economic inequalities and democratic processes in UK that underpin my location narratives and activism.

An important longer term aim is to develop my abstract diagramming communication skills that are central to my professional work going forward. And a key focus as part of my plans for a Graphic Design MA following this BA degree.

A lot of work to be done on this in parallel to, building on and feeding into my location work

Through processes of creative abstraction I bring together insights from reading and on-line sources brought together in the padlets below. These will be added to and possibly further subdivided by theme, throughout SYP. These are referred to and linked in different ways through the padlets for individual projects.

  • Mapping Journeys of Thought: concept maps from notes, reviews, reading and reflections
  • ‘Now Time Moving’ animated abstractions exploring the subjective experience of time in the context of scientific, psychological and philosophical debates linked to Moving Image Assignment 3.
  • ‘Freedom on the Edges of Chaos’ animated abstractions exploring ideas of edges, time, determinism, free will, chaos and power underpinning my subjectivity and political activism linked to Moving Image Assignment 4.

Moving Image Narratives

Moving Image work tales different forms in my work:

  • Animated stills
  • Video
  • Animation

Key Moving Image time-based narrative projects:

  • Moot Tales: animated stills in After Effects for interactive e-book
  • Hagg Wood: video and still image animation in After Effects for interactive e-book
  • Bramblefield Chronicles: video and animation integrated into interactive e-book
  • The Island: Stop Motion animation

Moving Image as research and experimentation

  • Anywhere Road: fragments walking
  • Colours of Shingle: video as the basis for recording and narrative development
  • In Praise of Littlefolk: photography as the basis for narrative development for printmaking

Insert link to ‘Edges in Time’ SMUGMUG Portfolios

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Printmaking Narratives

Printmaking is a much slower, more considered form of image-making. Although it is possible to do certain types of printmaking on location, and accidental effects are very much part of the final effects, print design is typically based on sketches or still photographs.

Key Printmaking narrative projects:

  • In Praise of Littlefolk: Fenland tales : linocut and woodcut
  • The Island: Cardcut monoprints used in Stop Motion animation
  • Colours of Shingle (gelliplate, drypoint and solarplate illustrations)

Printmaking experiments have also informed styles and final images in:

  • Anywhere Road (photoscreen?)
  • Bramblefield Chronicles (softfoam monoprint)
  • Moot Tales??
  • Hagg Wood (drypoint)

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