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Personal Professional Development

Visual contextual theory

the beginning

How does Futurism describe the functions and aesthetics of the Volkswagen beetle? By deconstructing a beetle, by unbolting, unscrewing and carefully removing each part the A-Z has been created. The purpose is to document and capture each part in the way it works as an individual sculpture. By exploring Futurism and the design of the Volkswagen beetle appropriate techniques will be drawn out to capture the very purpose and function of each part. ‘¹Deconstruction is a philosophical and critical movement … that questions all traditional assumptions about the ability of language to represent reality … through an active role of defining meaning, sometimes by a reliance on new word construction, etymology, puns, and other word play’ ¹ /deconstruction: 1/01/10

Using other words or phrases to alter the original meaning, one can reveal a different perspective to the norm. This theory can be used to describe the paintings and sculpture of Futurism when contrasting them to the photorealistic paintings of renaissance art. This is done by asking what makes the object apparent, other than flesh and bone. What if you deconstructed the figure by using its surrounding elements? Using the intangible to alter the reality.

‘Weeping Woman’ (1937)

Futurism is a movement that wants to capture the emotion and raw function of its subject. It is not just an impression, it requires an understanding. The obvious is not commended. The ideals deconstruct the apparent layer of a subject, to reveal the emotion and action the object is experiencing at that point in time. Futurism shares a similar concept with cubism and expressionism. The principle that you do not paint what your eyes tell you. According to Plato’s republic a piece of art is third removed from the truth since the idea is first, the physical is second so the image or painting must be third. Picasso’s ‘Weeping Woman’ (1937) is an example of this since he does not imitate but depicts images from multiple angles, showing the deconstructed idea.


Visual contextual theory

² Futurist Manifestos. P.173. Line 5.


However the Futurists thought cubists such as Picasso achieved this using a well thought out formula. '²Picasso has tried to observe and portray several sides of the object and arrange them on the canvas … to do this, he has thought up a system whose framework of ideas is extremely difficult to clothe in mystery, because it wobbles on the very edge of what is art.’ If a painting is deemed without feeling, and just a pretty picture using a stylized method, is it art? They thought its expression does not explain why a particular painting style was used, instead of trying to evolve the appropriate technique to depict a bespoke subject. Picasso may have thought of four styles and then applied them to any subject even if it does not capture its movement or feeling appropriately. Futurists wanted to gradually evolve their work so each piece is different to the other and captures it at its highest emotion.


Visual contextual theory

It is ironic that the futurist painters and sculptors believed in capturing this emotion, despite their architects seeking inspiration from machinery, an object thought sterile. Perhaps soulless when non-operational but when an engine is alive with its pistons striding up and down and fuel pumping it becomes a roaring beast; that sounds, breathes and drinks. As their manifestos reads; '³We – who are materially and spiritually artificial must find that inspiration in the elements of the utterly new mechanical world we have created’ The works of Umberto Boccioni incorporate the human form experiencing speed and movement. His 1913 sculpture ‘Unique forms in space’ presents this despite being static. ³ Futurist Manifestos. P.172. Line 1.



Visual contextual theory

Chrome. Unique forms in space.1913.

There is a great sense of aero dynamical design. The body of the sculpture has been deconstructed by the surrounding wind, showing only the paths the wind takes across the body. Rather than an imitation of the human figure this piece shows how wind reacts against the human form. This sculpture does not depict humans but wind and astounding technological advancement for its era. This design has a strong connection to the Beetle as if the sculpture has been recreated in the form of a vehicle. The beetle has a very smooth, stream line silhouette similar to this sculpture.




Visual contextual theory

This way of thinking has conceived the blueprint for modern vehicle design from the curvature of the Volkswagen Beetle. To produce innovative design you must break away from tradition in order for new ideas to be born. Boccioni ‘4had attacked the domination of sculpture by "the blind and foolish imitation of formulas inherited from the past" Plato stated that all imitations are a lie of reality; Boccioni followed this by producing art that conflicts with the blind. The blind being the ones that only see reality and nothing else. 4 New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999

His work is truthful through the eyes of Plato because he is not trying to replicate but study specific elements such as wind, speed and atmosphere. Since none of these are tangible, they cannot be imitated through art. None result in truth or false, just a study of what each element means when it reacts and is experienced.

Futurist Manifesto. P.22. Line 3.



The ninth rule of the Futurists Manifesto reads ‘5we will glorify war – the worlds only hygiene – militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for’ A logical reason for renewing and upgrading society, despite mass death. This is exactly what happened during Nazi Germany. A new era arose from 1938 following Hitler’s government leaderships up until and including the second world war, the pinnacle of rapid design in the twentieth centaury.


Visual contextual theory

Jet engines, ballistic missiles and nuclear weaponry where all invented during and just after the war in the space of fifteen years. Perhaps Hitler, his scientists and engineers had a place in Futurism. Rejecting previous science such as that of Einstein and made a fresh start in Nazi science with new experimental theories without any boundaries that gave birth to the above.

Futurist Manifesto. P.172. Line 14.


Futurist Manifesto. P.172. Line 14.



The Futurists’ manifesto also states 6 ‘ Every generation must build its own city’ Why should every new generation succumb to the old that does not represent them? Politics, design and art changes at least every ten years so why not cities? Hitler wanted a National Socialist city of his creation that revived Germanic heritage. Architecturally not totally new but one that represented him and his ideals. A vision that Futurists had stated; ‘7The oldest of us is thirty: so we have at least a decade for finishing our work. When we are forty, other younger and stronger men will probably throw us in the wastebasket like useless manuscripts – we want it to happen!’ Hitler was using the deconstructionist ideals of capturing the ideas rather than the image which where brought up in Plato’s republic in which he says an artist should not be let into the perfect city because being the piece of art being so far removed from the truth means what they create is never beautiful. In creating a Futurist car he is trying to create a truthful car that would be beautiful in his perfect city.


Visual contextual theory

Beetle An Illustrated History: Dr C.H. Hahn. P.6. Line 13.


The truthful car brings beauty in that respect but it also brings beauty to its function. The beetle encompasses a personal feeling. ‘8For the majority of its owners the beetle – and nicknamed itself is a very personal thing – was not just a bit of technology, a means of transport, but a real member of the family that just happened to live in the garage or under the streetlamp.’ Hitler’s vision for the beetle was for every German family to have one. For just five Reichmarks a week spent over a year period they would all be able to enjoy their own automobile. People then and now are sentimental over the beetle is because of its futuristic swooped design. It breaks the convention of a typical boxcar. Its aerodynamic curved body and big bug eyes make it seem like a living being. Its mechanical form is encompassed in a living body that represents its function, to be a vehicle of recreation and family joy.

Bibliography Picasso by Taschen, 1999 The Futurists Manifesto edited by Umbro Apollonio, 1964 New York: The Museum of Modern Art .com, 2009 Beetle An Illustrated History by Dr C.H. Hahn Peter Keetman: Volkswagenwerk 1953 by Kerber, 2004



Personal Professional Development

Personal Professional Development

11/10/2009 11:00 am

THE BEGINNING I have completed the workshops and know what ones I have enjoyed but need to think of a concept that will tie my A-Z into a thoughtful project of discovery. The workshops I enjoyed the most were pattern generation, it involved hands on, drawing, photocopying, tessellation. Flash animation and the Deconstruction lecture which was about the context of words and art movements such as Cubism.

11:45 am

Thinking back to my Visual Contextual Theory lessons I have now decided to take inspiration from the deconstruction lecture to form the theoretical skeleton of my project. Maybe I will base it on a designer or artist from this movement.




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Indicator Housing.

DETERIORATION 14/11/2009 I have struck some sort of structure after meeting and talking to my mentor. After looking over my photographic study of ink dripping into water I have developed my understanding of my projects theme.

I want to explore deterioration. One approach could be

to explore each borough of London from A-Z. However there are not enough boroughs’ to be assigned to every letter perhaps objects found in London from A-Z instead.


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MILTON GLASER 16/11/2009

Lecture; glaser_on_using_design_to_make_ideas_new.html

I watched a lecture featuring Milton Glaser on (Feb 1998 Monterey California) He was talking about his challenges and how he overcame them by deconstructing the initial subject he was given. In particular he was commissioned to incorporate the theme of nature with the painting the Duke of Montefeltro. Milton developed variations of watercolour paintings of the Duke using colour and simple methods of deconstruction. Such as picking out key features just enough make sense. Milton continues to show his variations of the portrait but this time it is spliced with the painting of the duke’s wife. Ritratto di Battista Sforza. Milton continues to show different ways of deconstructing the panting but also using different compositions. "Incidentally I have never understood the coupling between abstraction and naturalism as all paintings are inherently abstract to begin with, there doesn’t seem to be an argument there" -MiltonGlaser

Jubilee Clip.




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MYSTERY 17/11/2009 I do not want an obvious project. I am therefore ruling out the A-Z location concept. Perhaps I could use the objects I mostly use and enjoy. G is for Guitar. Then look around London for its form amongst buildings, deconstruct it then reconstruct the building using guitar components or use building components to form a guitar, or find letterforms within the deconstructed. I want the objects to be revealed. Formula 1] Select Object. i.e. Guitar 2] Deconstruct its parts. 3] Find letter forms in each component of the object. 4] Go out and photograph similar shapes within Deconstructive architecture. 5] Make a typeface out of those shapes.

HOW NOT TO MAKE THE WORD / OBJECT OBVIOUS If the object is the guitar you have all the imagery deconstructed. As you turn the page it reconstructs.



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Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, 1991

CORNELIA PARKER 19/11/2009 Another Concept: Destroy objects – then reconstruct them. I could Layout the objects using a panoramic, gallery design. The objects could form different words as you view the gallery sliding the tab horizontally. Or I could make a typeface out of deconstructed buildings.

I could explore deconstructive architecture. The

question now is, do I deconstruct 26 different buildings/objects or just 6 examples and spread them out then make the typeface.



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Cosmic Thing by Damiรกn Ortega, 2002

DECONSTRUCTION OF VEHICLES 21/11/2009 Study each part of a vehicle and use the part to form patterns by deconstructing. How many vehicles to I take apart: 1, 5, or 26? Or to keep it simple I will use what I have got a 1964 VW Beetle. I will therefore use this car to illustrate my A-Z using 26 of its parts. Now what parts?



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Cosmic Thing by Damiรกn Ortega, 2002

CONTEXTUAL MOVEMENT? 26/11/09 I want to find a way of illustrating my VW parts maybe to show off its aesthetics but why? I need to write an essay to find a movement I enjoy to express the function of the beetle but what? I need to read.

Oil Cap.


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HOW TO DECONSTRUCT? 4/12/2009 In order to deconstruct I need to look at drawings, paintings and sculptures of cubism. I feel this is a good start as cubism is geometrical and a creative way of breaking an object down to form patterns or to show perspective and function. I want to find a hand made process that suits my object without computers.

My point to point deconstruction of the Distributor. Formed with pins and thread.



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DECONSTRUCTION OF AN ASHTRAY 5/12/2009 I also applied the pin-to-pin technique to the computer. I traced a jpeg picture of the ashtray to get the basic outline and geometric shapes.

Quarter Light Window.


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WATERCOLOUR STUDY 6/12/2009 Perhaps painting the selected VW parts in watercolour like Milton Glaser’s deconstructed paintings will help develop my technique. Studying the colour and subtracting it might reveal something unusual. I also feel it necessary to pace my self, too much time spent on one object doesn’t necessarily been it will look better, most probably the opposite. FINNISHED THE 26 PAINTINGS AT 23:00



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Rear lights in water colour.

Spark Plug.


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Original 1962 keys in water colours.


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Piston In Water Colours.



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What link does the deconstructed theme have with the VW parts? Just colour, I need a stronger relationship. Perhaps I can compare the Beetle with architecture such as the Sydney Opera House using Cubism. What can I talk about in my essay? I need to bridge the gap between technology, engineering, art and design.

David Dimichele, Pseudodocumentation: Bark Painting



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MENTOR HOUR TALK 14/12/2009 I met with my mentor to discuss how to progress with my watercolour lustrations and what I wanted to say about them, he suggested to write and finish the essay to shed light. He also suggested to explore art movements parallel to the Beetle its function, politics and design. There are quite a lot of movements in the early 20th century so I need one that has a link to machine and distortion or deconstruction.

Wind Screen Wipers.

Photography by Peter Keetman, 1953, Brietbrunn, W-Geramany


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Giacomo Balla. 'The Speeding Automobile' 1912. FUTURISM 28/12/2009 I was searching books on Cubism and remembered a movement that I had forgotten, which is Futurism. It started in the late 19th Centaury and their ideals wanted society to renew itself at least every 10 years. This is so the most evolutionary ideal can be fulfilled by the young minds of those who will run the country. Thus producing technological advancements. The renewal process meant total destruction of society and their art. War was highly praised to fulfil this task.

X-Frame Chassi.


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FUTURIST SCULPTURE 29/12/2009 I have discovered a sculpture created by Umberto Boccioni's. It is called "Unique Forms of Continuity" from 1913. This 3D piece can strongly relate to the Beetle through its aerodynamics and movement.



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CONCLUSION My A-Z has taken a more linear route, focussing on one object, the VW beetle. Throughout the e-book I have generated two types of imagery. The first is a photographic record of each beetle part. The second is an illustration of the part that attempts to deliver its function through a deconstructed abstraction. Being infussed by the Futurists I have tried to capture the meaning of the movement and not a style or a formula this has created a sense of mystery amongst my subject matter which is what I wanted most. It was a challenge to design layouts that consider both consistantsy and difference. The most important point is to make the the layout flow, leading you to the next point whether it is the text or image. As that's the main focus I designed it to be simplistic and to include lots of space. To improve my layout I would like to be more experimental just like the Futurists manifesto, with text forming patterns and dynamic lines. I would also like to intergrate the type in with the imagery more especially on the pages with my airbrushed illustrations.

Z-F Gearbox.


The Futurist VolksWagon beetle


The Futurist VolksWagon beetle