Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Second Semester; Memory, Narrative, Exaggeration.

Throughout semester 2, I focused on the word memory. Concerned with my own childhood memories, I began recording events that I could remember from this time; I wrote out the short “stories” of my memories of which I could remember. I refer to them as “stories” for the reason that I am dealing with the term memory; this involves looking back into my own childhood and trying to remember and place certain events at certain times. I think this is a very difficult thing to do as not everything can be remembered to the same extent as when it was first experienced. Therefore, the term “story” seems appropriate as I am not only dealing with fragments of memories that are very true, I am dealing with traces of information that cannot be remembered correctly, therefore perhaps something in the mind creates a fictional part of an event and believes it to be true, hence, a story is created.

The time frame from which these memories span was from as early as I could remember up to around the age of 9 or 10. From the previous semester, in which I focused on book making, I wanted to keep this focus and continue to tell the “stories” of my memories in a storybook format, using story telling and keeping the childlike element of the memory. Concentrating on image and text, I began to visually construct my books. I used materials that reinforced the childlike element of my memories; I began to use watercolour paper, which is a fine, thick quality paper that helped with the structure of the book. I used watercolour paints that were vivid in colour to illustrate my book. I gave all of my illustrations a black outline. The purpose for this was to again reinforce the childlike quality of the subject of my books. Using black outline reminds me of been in primary school, I would outline everything to make sure it was neat and tidy. I think it also reinforces the idea of “the character” which was a strong point within my books as I began to use “characters” from my memories; these would be characters such as family members or animals from which I could remember. 

The artist Luke Chueh was a great influence for my use of black line. He creates cute characters that act inappropriately, however to strengthen the character quality he uses a thick solid black ink line on the outer edges of all of his characters. My use of “characters” helped the narrative within my work; I focused on characters from my past, however, I began to concentrate on small aspects of memory rather than trying to remember the whole thing; this could be the smallest detail of a memory such as an object or a feeling. I thought as long as an aspect of my original memory was present in my story then I could exaggerate it, play around with it and even make it untrue. Therefore, I could play around with characters that meant that I could add fictional characters into my memories.

Luke Chueh
1. Just one touch
2. Root down
3. Rough waters




Throughout my book making process, I experimented with other aspects of narrative; I used different mediums and materials to try and tell the stories of my memories. I experimented with photography and other aspects of books. Pop up books seemed like a great way to be able to tell an exaggerated story; consequently I began to experiment with this idea, creating templates and experiments. However, I soon realized that to be able to produce a pop up book of great quality that I wanted would have taken me a lot more time than I had to spare. I realized that I perhaps needed a whole project’s worth of time to be able to construct such an amazing book. I began to focus back on the 2 dimensional format of the book again.

I needed a solid memory that I could focus on which would give me a great narrative for a book. I knew that I wanted to focus on a memory that was frightening as I thought this would more exciting to illustrate. I tried to think of the most scariest thing from my childhood, I realized that it was the wood which used to scare me to death; living next to a woodland all my life meant that I had a huge amount of memories from which I could use. I remember imagining the creatures that lived in the woods when I was young; I used to think all sorts of fictional creatures used to roam them at night. I realized that as I stated previously, I could use fictional creatures with my aspect of memory, therefore I work on solid single page illustrations from what I could remember imagining.

Within these drawings I did not focus on colour as I thought perhaps the lack of colour would suggest that the terror that I felt as a child imagining these creatures was no longer there as an adult, therefore the colour would not be present. I was unsure if I should use colour in my final book that I would produce.

From these exaggerated memories I had an idea of using the comic book format to tell my story. This was a perfect way of depicting my exaggerated memory within a book format, as this is often the purpose of the comic book; to tell an exaggerated story. I began producing a series of issues of my own comics that told the story of this memory. I worked with a variety of paper that I imagined I would use when I was younger reinforcing the idea of childhood. Working with text in a comic book style was very difficult to get right. I felt as if every statement I wrote in the comic had to fit to a specific drawing otherwise it wouldn’t make sense. I think if I had more time I would have definitely produced a bigger and better comic book for this narrative.

My final book that I produced involves the narrative of the woods. It examines all the characters that use to haunt my thoughts. I chose not to use text in this book as I felt that a particular story didn’t need to be told; I am telling an overall experience of what I used to feel and imagine when I would go into the woods. I worked with watercolour paper in order to achieve a good quality book; I illustrated the paper with mostly lead, disregarding colour accept on the first page. The reason that I did this was that I felt that if colour was present then it represented my fear as a child, but if only lead was used, therefore not colour, then my fears as a child were not present any more as an adult. Fear is present on the first initial page, therefore when I think about my memory of all the creatures in the woods I still get a small glimpse of what I used to feel, however, I can as an adult now realize that my fear isn’t present anymore; therefore the rest of the pages in the book are illustrated without colour.

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