In the first term we had a series of 5 hour lectures, which personally I feel was a bit much for a single lecture. The most important part of the first term for me was the trip to London. We visited a few different contemporary exhibitions and galleries, though the most exciting was Ai WeiWei’s exhibition in the Royal Academy of Art. My personal favourite were these pots, titled ‘Coloured Vases’. I enjoyed looking at these the most because of my own love of ceramics, and colour. The way he combines both of these works well, the smooth, clean-cut finish of the pots combined with the dripping bright colour makes an enticing contrast.
The most influential of his pieces was ‘S.A.C.R.E.D.’. He created 6 miniature rooms, or dioramas, which depict scenes from his time in a Chinese prison. The reason this is influential to me is that I ended up using it as inspiration for a later project in my Subject. I was doing an editorial project based on an article about a guy who gets invited to a work reunion, and its not intended to be terribly serious, but in the article the author talks about how it is a classic part of the anxiety dream to turn up to an event such as this naked. For one part of the project I made a miniature room in which a circle of clay figures surround another figure in the centre. All the figures are naked, but the attention of the viewer is meant to be focused on the centre one, to suggest that even though it might feel like you are the only one with that anxiety, it is in fact quite a common occurrence.
I’ve pretty much stopped getting stressed out about things but this term, with the hand in of the dissertation made me feel incredibly stressed. Writing does not come easily to me, and I’ve always avoided essay based subjects like the plague in the past because of this. Obviously this course isn’t essay based, but I find it incredibly difficult to stop thinking with my usual creative mind set and have to start thinking about things from an academic writing perspective.
The idea for my dissertation started from the film Mad Max: Fury Road, which came out around this time last year. I was absolutely blown away when I first saw it, and proceeded to see it 5 times while it was still in the cinema, and another couple times since then. What really struck me about it was the way in which its female characters are designed. They defy so many classic female character tropes from movies. For example in the scene where we first see the Immortan Joe’s wives, they are washing themselves with water. The wives themselves are barely wearing anything through out the whole film and somehow this isn’t sexualised at all.
Typically, women in this kind of scene are subject to the ‘male gaze’, which is something that Laura Mulvey talks about in her book ‘Visual and other pleasures’. This kind of male gaze can be seen in transformers, where the love interest of the first film is bending over the engine of a car and the camera pans up her body, and we see the hero of the film do the same thing. However in Mad Max, we never see anything like this.
I chose the option for my dissertation of creating an artefact and then writing the 6000 word analytical text to accompany it. Originally I had been planning to do the 10,000 word theoretical text, but after trying to come up with ideas for it, I just didn’t feel at all motivated by the prospect. Because I don’t enjoy writing academically, I decided it would be much more effective for me to use my creative skills to the best of my ability for my dissertation. My plan is to make 5 movie posters that are inspired by existing movie posters that have women on them that are overly sexualised and objectified. James Bond movie posters are a good example of this, especially the older ones.
This poster is a good way to illustrate what I’m talking about. All the women in this poster have much more skin on show then Bond, especially the second one in from Bond, who is only slightly covered up by a towel. She is also facing away, with her back to the audience, and we can only see a tiny amount of her face, causing the audience to focus more on her body then anything else. Bond himself is wearing a very suggestive expression on his face, which combined with his smoking gun results in a very sexual connotation.
One of the key things I have been investigating in my dissertation proposal was the roles that women are given in films. I got a lot of my key concepts and theories from Rikke Schubart’s ‘Super Bitches and Action Babes’. In her book she talks about what she considers to be the five archetypes of female characters. She describes them as The Amazon, The Daughter, The Mother, The Rape-Avenger and the Dominatrix. She also gave me the term ‘male genre’ which became a very important part of my background research.
After writing my proposal I’m feeling a lot more motivated about the whole idea of creating and writing my dissertation then I was before. Before I started I was absolutely dreading having the write anything to do with this, but now I have got to the point where I’m really excited to be able to express my thoughts and opinions about my chosen subject matter. I’m going to use the ‘making an artefact’ section of my dissertation to really expand my life drawing skills. I feel as though I am relatively competent as it is, but I need to practise a lot more when it comes to drawing people in more dynamic poses, which they often are in movie posters. I am also going to use it as a chance to create more finished, professional looking outcomes, which is something I struggle with doing in my subject.