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EXPLORER OF THE WORLD


I was asked to team up and explore a region to look for blue plaques that were located in specific places and research about the artist or scientist that had been featured or that had lived there. In my journey I visited Bedford Square, Bloomsbury and Charing Cross but I mostly focused on the first zone. This catalogue features my journey from the beginning of the research when I encountered with Herman Melville, follows through with an exhibition based on our first findings and ideas, some further research on the area and ends up with ideas developed from my research and findings. As I am handing this catalogue along with a secondary sketchbook most of the research is attached in it so you will be able to see stages of development and further research.

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CONTENTS INTRODUCTION

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BREAKING THE ICE

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EXPLORER OF THE WORLD

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VALUE OF TOYS

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BREAKING THE ICE


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Breaking the Ice was the title of the first task. We approached the three different places but I concentrated on Bedford Square the most. When we got to the place we looked around for obvious clues or items - we found a brand new packet of menthol cigarettes, a

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trampled can of larger and an empty spray can. I decided I wanted to look for more, so I looked at the buildings and what they featured, what made them different. Then found out that Herman Melville - the author of Moby Dick had lived in this area along with a number of remarkable

BREAKING THE ICE

artists and scientists. I moved on with my project and decided I wanted to focus more on heraldry and the famous whale but that comes later on in this catalogue.


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The images above were taken near Charing Cross on our search of plate number two which we actually never found. So we took photos of other irrelevant objects.


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These two were actually taken in Bedford Square at the house that the Scientist Henry Cavendish once lived. His plate is much more different to any of the other plates that we have looked at - it looks wealthy, and like some sort of medal. He is known for the

BREAKING THE ICE

Cavendish Experiment, his measurement of the Earth’s density and early research into electricity. When I looked at his house into detail I noticed (below) the lion door knob that is usually related to wealth and security.


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TOP: a sketch of

the lion door knob. BOTTOM: The coat of arms of

City of Westminster found on a bin. Lions are usually featured in heraldry as they mean strength and courage. I’m going to relate this to the door knob research somehow.


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BREAKING THE ICE

Here I was just playing with a alternative of Bodoni in Illustrator.


BREAKING THE ICE

BOTTOM: The Blue

Plaque of Herman Melville found in Bedford Square.

A man curiously drinking at noon. He looks jaggered and rough. We thought this image was quite interesting because of the contrast of the money exchange sign and the fact that he holding a glass of champagne (God knows if he is actually drinking champagne). My team and I decided to label him as a tramp.

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CHAR INGC ROSS


bed ford squ are


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BREAKING THE ICE

Another of the tasks that we had to do was to approach someone that looked like a tourist and ask them a few non-related questions about England. We found her in the M&M Store near Piccadilly Circus and as I over heard her speaking in Spanish I decided to approach her and question away.


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These were posters designed by my team colleagues, we wanted to campaign on the fact that tramps are dirty and they should be placed somewhere else.

BREAKING THE ICE


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TRAP I created this poster based on Obama’s Hope campaign. I was emphasising of the fact that the tramps should be trapped and put away.


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And the final task was to create a piece and produce an exhibition. Our idea was basically targeting homeless people to be placed somewhere else so we had to sort of “trap” them so me and my team came up with a “Tramp Trap”. We had better ideas but due to slacking off we did things last minute and this is how our tramp ended up like.

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We made it look like an installation so we put up all the posters up like if it was propaganda. One of my team mates was way to enthusiastic about the rubbish setting that she over did it and the message from the installation mislead the viewers as more than one didn’t really connect with our intentions.


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This is some of the feedback that we received from our viewers.


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BREAKING THE ICE

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EXPLORER OF THE WORLD


EXPLORER OF THE WORLD

Now we are at the stage where drifted off from the horrible tramp idea and started doing my own thing. I went back to Bedford Square and took more photos, this time more detailed - took photos of more door knobs, of fences, marquees around doors, windows and garden decorations looking for extra things to include in this catalogue. I then encountered the manhole covers and noticed that they had rather nice patterns and decorations.

The image above is a lion resting outside the British Museum. I only noticed that the museum was located next to Bedford Square on the second time I visited the place.

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I have noticed that different homes and buildings have a different design of lion door knobs, some seemed decayed and some seemed that they were made of a more resistant material. Now that lions keep popping up in my research I am willing to introduce them into some sort of outcome.


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These are Double Exposures of door knobs and the park in Bedford Square, altered in Photoshop. I think that they look mysterious as if they were guarding secrets held in the area... After all lions are protectors.


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These are a few sketches of ideas on the Coat of Arms that I wanted to create based on the area that I have visited. The boat was going to be originally used in one of the finals but the Coat of Arms was looking way too busy.


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The top two were just live traced versions of the sketch on the opposite page, I thought they might look interesting if I digitalized them but turned out I didn’t like how they looked.

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On the design at the bottom I applied two objects that I found in the area - the cross being on a gate and the pattern being on a manhole cover. Moby Dick has been there from the start.


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EXPLORER OF THE WORLD


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On this spread I was just playing around with colour, but I wasn’t too keen on the multicoloured ones. I looked at a book about heraldry (Heraldry for the Designer) and found some designs that were on gold & black, thought these looked well slick so I went for that. My favourite one is the one on the bottom right of this page.


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LEFT: Here we have a few

ABOVE: This is a live

sketches on more detailed and ornamental Coat of Arms. I still wanted to use the lions found in my area. I merged it with the crest that I made previously.

traced version of the final sketch. I gave it wings because they mean protection and swiftness. He looks like some sort of guarding Holy creature. I decided to leave this at this stage due to lack of time, maybe I’ll finish him in the future.


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This is the final piece of my Heraldry experience. Above you can see the sketch for the Coat of Arm and you will notice that the crest had Moby Dick in it, I thought that maybe it looked too childish and contradicted the meaning of the stag and the whale

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looks ferocious. Stags mean peace and harmony - will not fight unless provoked. I stumbled upon stag door knobs when doing my research and I looked into their meaning and fitted perfectly the area as it was such a tranquil and a peaceful

EXPLORER OF THE WORLD

place afar from chaos. In the crest you will that I decided to use the pattern that I have been using in previous pages - I thought I’d make them as a set and have some sort of recurring itheme going on. I used vectors in Illustrator to render it.


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THE VALUE OF TOYS


VALUE OF TOYS

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Toys throughout the years gain or loose value depending on their previous demand, which can impact on how they are used after their life span has ended. In this essay I will be exploring toys based in the street and the museum in different context of value, meaning and position but mostly focusing on those that have acquired an “afterlife”. I will be referring to Neil Cummings’ theories to help me understand how the meaning of objects change depending of their placing and definitions of their cultural value (The Value of Things, 2000), James Putnam’s views on curating and an artefact’s placement in a museum (Art and Artifact, 2009) and Gillian Rose’s theories on the effects of ways of displays in museums (Visual Methodologies: An introduction to the interpretation of visual materials, 2007).

Neil Cumming’s The Value of Things firstly emphasises that material things identify who we are – we use everyday objects to make the world aware of ourselves, what we are like. They speak for our character and we find ourselves identified with them, but what makes us appreciate them more when it comes to its placing? Depending on the place we found it could create an impact on how we perceive this particular artefact.


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In his book he also compares the contrast between Selfridges and the British Museum (which relates my task for this essay) and mentions that although their economic purposes are different what really drives these two institutions together is the way that they have been categorized and organized – “What the store shares with the museum is the encyclopaedic desire to render the whole world understandable: classified and displayed for the visitor to consume” (Value of things, page 19).

The store focuses on bringing out new lines of goods and products whilst the museum inherits their collections to protect singularity and images from the past. It is argued that the value given to an object is not because of the thing itself but judgements made through some sort of experience that a person’s had with the item at a specific time and at a specific place.

James Putnam mentions that the way that objects are being displayed in a museum is influencing the way artefacts are being designed by “using systems of classification, display, archiving and storage, artists have been able to apply these to both the production and the presentation of their work” (Art and Artifact, page 34, 2009). It is also acknowledged that artists are most likely to collect worthless items that they can transform into works of art, changing the way they can be read and placed within an installation – being displayed through vitrines, archive boxes, specimen jars, cabinets and others.

Gillian Rose explains the ways of display in a museum as their visual effects can vary (Visual Methodologies, Pages 184-7, 2007). She refers to Lidchi’s theories on technologies of displays – display cases, open display, reconstructions, and simulacra.She implies that “each of these techniques can have a different effects and they often depend on their intersection with other technologies” (page 185) – which would be written text.

Lidchi suggests that objects should be put together with some sort of reference to their original use to show “the presence of real artefacts in an accurate combination”. In other words, the viewer would be able to identify the object, being in the museum or in a store, these two connect by usually labelling their artefacts so they could be perceived and know why it is there. Speaking of labels, Gillian talks about textual technologies of interpretation – labels and captions, panels and catalogues are there for providing wider context for the objects on display.

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When I was asked to choose an artefact I was particularly drawn upon an antiquate stall – most of their toys didn’t have a brand, no packaging and they were all laid out randomly but following some sort of theme – the items that were packaged were placed out of reach, other items were classified by type of toy (humans, cars). I met up with my team and we analysed the little stall and we came with the conclusion that these toys were “hybrid” – we noticed that maybe the original toy had lost full potential of being resold so they pulled it apart and merged it with something completely unrelated to create something new and original. Probably the aim of the stall was to give a second chance or an “afterlife” to artefacts that had been already rejected, and that the style of the toys looked decayed or like spare parts from a decade ago that were never used and were found recently. So I focus on this particular toy that resembled Minnie Mouse with the body of a man on a bike that had the head of Mickey Mouse – I thought it was absurd yet astonishing. I looked at the surrounding area and noticed that the stall was placed between a Poundland and an Iceland - it says a lot about the type of audience that is most likely to be acquiring anything from this stall. Thinking back to the setting of the artefact, there were no signage, labels, or hazard restrictions, it was just there for you to grab it, play with it and leave it behind, although for being placed right at the front it had more chances of being picked up by a kid to nag its mother to get it for them.


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I brought up Cumming’s theory – if this artefact was branded and placed in a proper shop, with a label will its value have increased and have more chances of being purchased than by just being displayed in the stall? Will the viewer perceive it as something more valuable? Referring to The Value of Things (page 17) Cumming speaks about the beginning of mass production, I thought that objects are not appreciated as they used to because they can easily be replaced due to being produced in massive batches. Before, toys were mostly accessible for those of a wealthy background because they were usually one-off’s so emotional and monetary value were usually attached to the artefact. Now that I have analysed the odd looking toy I took the opportunity to look at other similar artefacts by going to The Childhood Museum – a branch of the V&A. I looked around, gazed the hundreds of toys that were collected under the same roof, some toys did look like they had emotional and valuable attachment – they were worn out, dirty, but so old and kept in such a good condition behind a virtrine. There was no way of interaction with the thing although I really wished I could have held a few Teddies and the first ever Barbie to be produced. When you look at something that has been encapsulated to prevent damage you immediately think that such object must be precious, and they were. These toys (most of them) were from over a hundred years ago and the curator did a great job.


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Since all the objects on show were locked in a display box they were all carefully displayed with similar other toys, under a category with a brief description of what it was, where it was from and what year it was made (most of them were labelled anyway). Categories varied from year and material to ethnical and cultural value. On my way out I noticed an installation with a large amount of toys and greens – but what excited me the most was that the objects that were chosen to feature in the installation were just like my chosen artefact. They were scattered around portraying the story of Fundevogel (Foundling-Bird) a German fairytale that told the story of two children transforming into iconic objects to escape from being eaten. The way it was displayed looked like it was more accessible than the objects in the vitrines, it looked more open and you could read the story. I picked on a toy that had the head of a deer and the body of a doll of a baby (really out of proportion), another hybrid toy but it looked like part of the story, part of the installation, it wasn’t trying to be sold it was just placed right there to complete the piece – Putnam’s theory on worthless objects being picked by artists to make art. You can look at an object and read it as X but changing where it’s been placed changes to Z. Both the objects that I looked at had the potential to be in each other’s original place but if I were to do that the whole piece would be ruined and wouldn’t fit. They were designed to belong to that particular space. The toy at the stall could be interacted with whilst the toy at the museum could only be watched from a distance. The way that they were displayed implies in the value that they may contain - one’s new and durable whilst the other one looked flimsy and delicate. I’d like to think that these link to consumption and production.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY ESSAY Cummings, N. 2000. The Value of Things, London: August Media Putnam, J. 2009. Art and Artifact, London: Thames & Hudson Rose, G. 2007. Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials, London: Sage, pp184-7

RESEARCH Metzig, W. 1971. Heraldry for the Designer, London: Van Nostrand Reinhold Von Volborth, C-A. 1987. The Art of Heraldry, London: Tiger Books International Klanten, R and Helige, H. 2011. The Modernist, Berlin: Gestalten Victoria and Albert Museum: The Childhood Museum.


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Explorer of the World  

For a brief on the first year of university we were to create a narrative about our journey on an area through the first 4 weeks.

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