Friday, 29 January 2010

Earthquake Appeal

I read yesterday that a girl was rescued from a building in Port-au-Prince 15 days after the earthquake hit the city. Its amazing to think that someone could last that long in such terrible conditions, but it does give a ray of hope.

Since the government there struggled to deal with such a terrible natural disaster, other countries have stepped in to help with the rescue effort. However what has struck me, back at home, is the effort people have went to, to raise money for the earthquake appeal.

I had a knock at the door the other day, to find two male students selling cakes to raise money for the appeal. Their efforts may only raise a small amount of money, but it all counts. I have also been asked to a girlie gathering next Wednesday, arranged by Lindsay, to again raise some extra money. She has went out and bought some product, is going to bake some cakes, and charge us a small entry fee in return for these goodies.

Last week I also received a text from my mobile phone network, Orange. The text provided me with a number I could text to donate £2.50 to the Haiti disaster. I text the number, and within seconds got a reply message saying thank you for my contribution. Again £2.50 doesn't seem much but if all the Orange users in the country replied to that message it would have resulted in a large sum of money being raised.

This blog was just to highlight the efforts some people and organisations are going to.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Who Influenced You?

The handbook provides follow up work to complete after each week's lecture, and one of the tasks is to 'consider how you ended up studying design.' As well as thinking about who inspired or influenced you? For me my inspiration came from one of my best friends Megan.

I had quit Uni (after realising that I can't really tolerate small children, which turns out to be a rather important quality if you intend on doing primary teaching!) and was unsure what to do with my life. One night I was at Megan's and she showed me her portfolio, which included recent work she had completed for her Graphic Design course.

I had previously been to degree shows but it never gave me the inspiration I needed. Maybe I was daunted by how good everything was. So for me, my influence didn't come from books or galleries but from someone my own age. Someone who discussed the design process with me. Someone that I could relate to and ask questions without worrying if I sounded stupid. I found her work interesting and the process of working to briefs appealed to me, so off I went to study!

What I do find interesting though is why does Graphic Design appeal to me more than Illustration? Why is it that I like art and my sister loves guts and gore (i.e. nursing)? And if Megan had been studying another art based discipline would I have went off to study that as well? Why did you choose Graphic Design?

Photo Shoot

For Assignment 1 we were asked to collect photographs of ourselves growing up or take photographs of our homes. After sifting through the family box of photographs I have discovered that my mum and dad loved taking photographs of me up until the age of 6/7. After that point they must have got a little fed up as there are very few photos after this stage! Needless to say I have managed to source a few images which will hopefully meet the brief (as well as embarrassing me a little in the process!)

I decided to include photographs of my home, including pictures of my room there as well as my room in halls. I wonder whether the objects in these separate rooms will portray me differently? Or will they both result in the same conclusion?

I am quite looking forward to finding out what my partner will take from the photographs. Will they be able to tell who I like? What kind of music I listen to? Or what my favourite colour is? Will this experiment only confirm what I already know about myself? Or will I learn something new? Either way, I will be excited to find out the results!

If u fancy giving me some early insights you could try and analysis the photo I uploaded!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Good Taste

'Good taste' is another topic which was discussed at Friday's lecture. What do you regard as good taste? Do you have it? And how do we decide what is good taste? Are we brought up to have similar values as our parents, or can we develop our own opinions? How heavily influenced are we buy our friends? I would personally like to think that I have good taste (others may disagree!), I like to think that my bedroom is decorated well, that I have a good taste in clothes and music. But how much of it is my own choice? Are my clothes nice because I chose them or because the shop was stocking them? Do I have a good taste in music or do I just like the same bands as my peers? Who is it that decides whats in trend? Can it really only take one person's opinion to influence thousands?

Understanding Bourdieu

As a follow up task to Fridays lecture we were asked to read chapter 8 from Understanding Bourdieu and consider the main points outlined. The chapter looks into culture, taste and what art is. In Friday's lecture the issue of what art is was also highlighted and it has made me question why one piece is considered art but another isn't. When something is placed in an art gallery or an art museum it is regarded as art, but why is this? Who decides it has worthy place in that museum? And why do we all agree that yes, it is indeed a work of art?

The chapter also suggests that art makes 'the invisible visible'. The book gives examples of this, for instance grunge music highlighted how it felt being young in a society which was often hostile towards youths. The famous painting The Scream was said to express the dread and fear felt by people living during this time. Whilst Friends made the public realise that twenty-somethings were a self aware community. I had never considered this point before, but when I think of some of the work being produced today, by the likes of Jonathan Barnbrook or Banksy, they often raise political or ethical issues which can reflect the feelings of the general public.

Finally the chapter raised the issue of whether or not class determines what we like and don't like. It was considered that the 'upper class' had an appreciation for 'high art'. Do you regard this as true? It could be said that someone from a working class background may not have as much interest in art but its not impossible! Do you have less interest in art if you haven't been to an art gallery? Can being more educated than others influence your opinion towards art? Or alter what we think art is? Can our class determine what we perceive art to be?

Thursday, 21 January 2010

New Years Resolutions

So, its a new year and with it comes new year resolutions, many of which we won't keep until the end of the month, let alone the end of the year! One of the big changes many people try to make is to stop smoking. I have already seen many adverts on the television promoting a range of products to help people achieve this goal. But lets be honest smoking patches have been around for years, there is also some nasty tasting gum, nicotine inhalers, lozenges and even nasal sprays.

So why is it that people find it so hard to stop smoking? Cigarette packaging contains warning messages and sometimes some disturbing photographs, yet these seem to have little effect. So what is it that will get smokers attention?

I was reading on the BBC News website this morning that 'People who smoke are being encouraged to stop by being shown what they may look like in 20 years time if they do not kick the habit.'

"Ageing machines" are being placed in chemists where members of the public will be able to see how smoking can cause premature ageing. A morphed photograph will be shown alongside their current photograph to try and achieve as much shock value as possible. In a society where people are more concerned with how they look than ever before will this be the approach needed to help people give up for good?

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Origin of Food

I mentioned earlier that I received a new design project - The Origin of Food. Within the background information provided there were a few statements which really made me think:

'Pirahas consider hunger a useful way to toughen themselves. Missing a meal or two, or even going without eating for a day, is taken in stride' .. They 'are surprised by Western eating habits, especially the custom of eating three meals a day.'

This quote comes from Daniel Everett who met and lived with this tribe. It highlights the fact that different countries, cultures and societies have varying eating habits. In most Western countries we eat three meals a day, the timing of these may vary a little between country to country but on a whole we all get up and have out breakfast. Go for some lunch around mid day and tuck into a tasty tea in the evening. It never really occurred to me that it is our culture that dictates what we need and even how we live.

Growing up to eat 3 meals a day is normal within our culture, and if we never ate for an entire day it would be more likely to raise worry and concern rather than honor. So would we be able to cope living in this tribe? If we moved there, into a new culture, a new way of thinking could we adopt their habits easily? Or would we have to be born into such a way of life?

The other statement I have been thinking about is how we 'are beginning to understand the true extent of our supermarket culture as it determines what we buy, what we eat and how we live.'

The majority of the public tend to buy their weekly food shopping in large supermarkets. We purchase the products they choose to buy in. And more importantly products that meet their requirements.

I had been watching the breakfast news last weekend and they were covering a story about how much waste growers and farmers encounter because supermarkets can't sell 'ugly fruit'. For instance carrots have to be straight and cauliflowers can't be larger than 11cm! Is it just me or is this nonsense? If there are concerns about food sustainability then we shouldn't be throwing fresh produce away. The big question is tho, would we buy it if it didn't look as it should? Are we so used to food looking a certain way that we wouldn't purchase something that looks a bit odd?

If you want to read a little more on this subject go to this link

Food Sustainability

I received a new project yesterday entitled The Origin of Food which aims to highlight the relationship between food and sustainability. During the briefing we were lucky enough to be given a presentation by Phil Taylor who works at The Scottish Crop Research Institute. He provided us with some interesting information on crop research and also highlighted the problems regarding sustainability. (He also got added marks for giving us all a free jar of jam!)

Even though I knew that there was an explosion in the population I never thought about the problems that this could cause in regards to food. With more people to feed, where does this food come from? Most people presume that there isn't a real problem, we just plant more crops therefore we get more food. However the 'intensification of crop production has led to systematic erosion of arable biodiversity and the degradation of arable habitats in many parts of the world.'

The issue of CO2 emissions was also highlighted. A few years ago figures show that there was a switch in the population. More people now live in urban areas rather than rural areas. The problem here being the food has to be transported to these cities.

With sustainability becoming a bigger issue, in today's society, Phil's talk confirmed further that the public will have to make changes in order to save the environment from any more damage. As designers we will have to start looking at nature to find solutions. Can we take lessons from the natural world? Will people be willing to make changes? Or will scientists have to keep researching new ways to maintain sustainability?

Friday, 8 January 2010


I went to see Avatar at the cinema the other night and I really enjoyed it. After all the press it has been given, I wondered whether it would live up to the hype, but it was definately worth seeing. I read on the official website that this film was dreamt up 15 years ago but the 'means to realize this vision did not exist yet.' It has been in production for four years, and the attention to detail can be seen in everything from the bodies of the avatars themselves to the smallest of plants found on the alien planet.

The story is focused around an ex-Marine (Jake) whos mission it is to go to this alien planet and discover what the natives require in order to leave their homeland. The main reasoning behind this is that us humans wants to mine for a rare mineral which would solve earth's energy crisis. Jake is welcomed in to the tribe and is taught their language, beliefs and ways of life. During this time he falls in love with a female Na'vi (who has a pretty fetching tunnel in one of her ears!) and he realises that he no longer supports what Earth is doing. He wants to fight for his new home.

What I thought was quite significant was that even though this film is quite far from reality in terms of avatars and invading alien planets, it is very true in other ways. I think it highlights the fact that we aren't taking care of our planet and that we should respect nature and the environment. It shows how humans can be a very violent species and are willing to destroy life in order to get what they want. If you have seen the film did you pick up on this? Or am i reading way to far into an action film?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Good old fashioned games

I feel that I have slightly neglected my blogging duties over the past few weeks, so I thought I should make a small entry! I have to say this christmas had to be one of the best yet. Usually my older relatives come round on christmas day and they usually provide boring conversation on the weather, or who they know thats just died! So this year me and my sister decided to mix things up a bit! and made the family play some games. Instead of opting for a games console we decided to play some good old fashioned ones such as cards, bingo, beetle drive and charades. They proved a great success, and it was a good way to get all the generations involved. When I went up to my boyfriends house that night, these types of games continued; some more bingo (which I won!) and even a christmas quiz. Again everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, even though his grandad really couldn't get his head around the idea of the post it game.

I think it just goes to show that with all the technology available and the latest fancy board games available at your local Argos, you need nothing more than some paper and a pen to have a good old time!