Monday, 4 May 2009

Ben Shahn interview, 1964 Apr. 14, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Richard Doud

Ive read this entire interview and found it really interesting. Ive copied a snippit here. I though to look up this interview and others after the lecture from FAKEID. I used this part of the interview as I like how he describes the method behind his photography.

RICHARD DOUD: Yes, I think, from what I've seen of the Farm Security Photographs this was pretty much the general idea they had.

BEN SHAHN: I would say so.

RICHARD DOUD: They were concerned with...

BEN SHAHN: I was quite a purist about it and when some of the people came in and began to use flash I thought it was immoral. I'll give you a reason why. You know, you come into a sharecropper's cabin and it's dark. But a flash destroyed that darkness. It is true that a flash would actually illuminate the comic papers that they used to paste on their walls, but this wasn't the impact it had on me. It was the darkness, the glistening of the eyes, the glistening of a brass ornament on top of a big bed, you know, a glass, a mirror that would catch light. I wanted very much to hold on to this, you see. Now, that's a matter of personal judgement about this thing whether you divulge everything or whether things are kept mysterious as they are viewed.

Fake I.D

Fake I.D is currently in its tenth year and was created by Yvan Martinez and Joshua Trees. They originate from Los Angeles and have worked in London and San Francisco and there work has been displayed in Museum of Modern Art in New York and London. Joshua's background is in Graphic design and says the school he attended was very techincal and at the end of the course he didnt feel confident with his abilities. He then went on to do an MA in fine arts and explored the issue of 'the line between art and life disappearing'. Trees met Martinez in San Fransisco in a performance art group and then went on to form there first group CCSIS (creative community seriously I swear). Martinez studied Mathematics to MA level in Venezuela.

above 'Placas'

They try to draw a line between commercial and independent work, but approach both in the same manner. They find that there independent work attracts companies (which has lead them to work with such companies as MTV, NIKE and Urban Outfitters). They say working with such big clients is like 'Freedom within a Cage'.

They are both interested in sound and narration at the moment and working within schools. They like to work in schools as you can still experiment in this environment. They see schools as a sight of production - 'School can be a productive force rather than a training ground'. They say they dont see students as students but see them as partners. They say there most interesting work has been with collaborations with students.

above 'Books from the future'

They say that is is always important to 'make' without being asked, and to be constantly experimenting.

I found this lecture really interesting and i was intrigued to see such detailed experimentation into communication. This is a subject I feel I could become really interested in and would like to look at it further. Possibly through some animation work. Here is the lecture, though it is quite difficult to type exactly what happened ...


They showed how a Portuguese man was able to learn English from a bizarre combination of Data from Star Trek and the character Rosanne. The character of Data is an android and is unable to show any emotion and unable to use contractions. The character of Rosanne, from my perspective, has a very strong American accent and is very stereotypical of an American (but thats only from my point of view). Through watching these two character on t.v, the portugese man created his own version of the American Language, which they called 'RosAndroid'.

I found this interesting as to me they are trying to show the impact of populer culture on this mans belief of the American language, he learnt a disjointed version from these two T.V shows. Its trying to show the mutation of language ... I think.

They talked about Tony Schwartz who was an American archivist. In this section they played a clip from 'The Sound of Lettering' which was clips of the sound of pencil on paper or the sound of a type writer.

'This is the way my typing sounds'

This to me was a way of showing another way of communicating words, through the 'sound' words make and the process' we use to create them. Showing 'The similarity of letters and sounds'

they played clips of interviews with Ben Shahn, who im quite interested in. They also quoted, or it was the title for something - 'In the Begging there was the word'. I know this to be from a passage in the Bible but I think it may be Ben Shahn who used it in one of the Interview clips.

They also played clips of a child sounding out letters. This i think is a very interesting investigation into communication and the way we process words and then how we communicate them...

They showed a Burger Chef commercial and examples of the fast food packaging. Then they played a sample recording of 'Fangburgers haunted hotel', which was a free gift in the meal.


'Breaking the Forth wall' is the moment that you get through to the audience.

they talked about Ernie Kovacs who was an American comedian who experimented visually with his comic style. They showed the credits to one of His shows (below). (I loved the experimental credits and have made me even more eager to try out animation)

They showed images from a television program 'Tell me' which was a peformance of abstraction which showed the relationship between what was seen and heard.

Placas. a placa is a style of graffiti which is the sign of a gang. Each gang will write over each other placa to instigate a fight/confrontation. They were showing us how these gangs use walls to communicate.


Talked about a gang called WLTF who communicate through radio, posters etc.

They played clips of the radio show. - 'New communism is new capitalism... this is the new order.'


This is a language, sound, text and noise workshops that FAKEID run. They played us clips from this workshop which were conversations with 'Outsiders'. The interview we listened to was from a man who was attracted to female amputees, in which he talks about where he believed his attraction started (with his female teacher who was an amputee)about Rosa Petra (famous female amputee) and his life living with this obsession.

They then talked about information theory, about how information travels from A-B without errors.

They ended the lecture by playing holding music and asking us to 'Please Hold', which we all did.

Which to me shows how willingly we are to except words without question.

Big Orange

This is a studio set up in Shorditch in London by designers such as Daryl Reese, Tom Morrison and Dan Williams. It was set up around 16 years ago. Andrew Pavitt joined 6 years ago. The studio is partially owned by the AOI - association of Illustrators, which helps pay for the rent and other utilities. The rent for the space is around £200 each a month, but AOI help towards these costs. The working hours of the studio are 24 hours, enabling it to be accessed at anytime and if working on short briefs and deadlines.

The set up and location of a studio is important and you always need to be self promoting yourself. There is now a good selection of studios in Manchester and they say that you can easily find a fairly priced studio in London. They say an advantage of joining an established studio like Big Orange or Peepshow is the set of contacts already created and its reputation.

They talked about dealing with overseas clients such as New York, saying that when they commission you for a job they will not take into account the time difference's, so you have to work around them.

The only disadvantage Andrew Pavitt could find for working within a studio enviroment is if there were clashes of personalities. The major advantage though is being within a creative environment and being able to bounce ideas of one another.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Reminds me of you

Final book inside cover image

This is my final image with a section of text added from the book'The Secret Garden'. I had to edit the text slightly so it would fit into the image. The last few words on the final line are different from the original text. The actual image needs to be sharpened also.