Final Major Project Statement
My final major project investigates journey and memory. I suffer from severe dyslexia and memory loss. Because of the severity of my dyslexia I had the opportunity to attend a specialist school from the age of 10 through to 18. The school was 75 miles from my house. I travelled the same route over the years a total of 63,750 miles. This exhibition seeks to reflect the tedium of those journeys.
I wanted to portray the tediousness of the same journey to the viewer, and decided that to try to do so using photographs wouldn’t work well because still photographs are too immediate.
It was important for me in the film to emphasise memory which becomes less clear with time, therefore I chose to film some of the film at a slow frame rate, such as 5FPS and 3FPS. In doing so I eliminated detail, and caused the edges to become blurry.
In the film we hear layered monologues which are reminiscent of the conversations I had with my drivers over the years. It is my recollection and memories of these conversations which over run each other and overlay. It’s been so long since I have done the journey every week, at times it felt like I was Sisyphus locked in endless tedium, albeit in my case the tedium was for a worthwhile purpose.
Semiotics and language are particularly interesting to me, because of the visual symbols that words create in the mind of the reader. As individuals see text, thoughts come to their minds; such thoughts are different for each individual depending upon how the individual has associated specific words with meaning. For example, some people will associate ‘winter’ with; Christmas presents, lights, candles, religious festival and the general consumerism of Christmas. Whereas others will think of snow, travel disruption and bad weather. Ferdinand De Saussure understood and justified these ideas of thoughts as the product of variation in the individual meaning of the word ‘Winter’ by the association of the linguistic community.
As a severely dyslexic person text has always excluded me from its ‘inner circle’. I therefore fundamentally dislike text as a language form, however I am also curious to explore that which I do not understand. Initially in this project I found it difficult to think of what I wanted to say using text. So I decided to get other people to write down anything that they wanted to say, to sort of give them a voice. By doing this I also avoided following the Neogrammarians failings. I made strict rules that I had to adhere to, so that I did not place any concept or language into people’s subconscious. I was determined to do it this way because people are going to look at this text so therefore people should have an influence over what is being said. Why should I decide what can and can’t be written, when I cannot engage in the written language myself. This comment about society originated from my every day experience. We see signs on billboards and TV adverts telling us things. This was a chance to tell us something about ourselves, and to almost try to rebuild, or rebel against society’s use of language
Read My Essay about Semiotics and language
Through the analysis of semiotics we can start to understand the symbolic meaning of the individuals indentity. The journeys which people have undertaken in order to arrive at Southampton, and the journeys that people make through the city. I began to focus on the mobility of the Southampton population with it’s transient student constituency and the transportation of goods and people through the dockyard. Historically, Southampton has benefited because of the trade through the dockyard, this in turn has forged a social mobility into the culture of the city.
For this project I photographed closed spaces such as offices and shop environments, which were active and useful before the recession. People used to work in these, now empty spaces. These images are my record of that time and bring questions about the future. These spaces serve no other purpose than to be shops or office’s. The French philosopher Henri Lefebvre suggests that to understand the meaning of spaces, one has to use semeiotic thinking to unlock some of its meaning. I used Le Corbusier’s ideas to consider functional spaces in this context.
In contrast, the theorist and architect Le Corbusier proposed that modern buildings should be purely functional in design. He placed buildings into the context of a machine where for example each individual part in the machine, needs to work correctly for the whole thing to work properly. The more refined the machine is, the better and more efficient the buildings and use of the space will be. In my Closed Office’s project, the buildings are purely functional. They have been designed for the maximum possible floor space as well as good accessibility, to fit in the maximum number of people to work within it. I decided to focus more on the un-noticed conflict, which is found within redundant buildings such as empty shops where former activity and trade are juxtaposed with present day non use and neglect.
My project Housing 2011 looks at housing in Southampton and the influences of people upon them. A well documented view, is that we should consider the buildings, not as structures, but as a reflection of the people who live inside them. In this way, the buildings then become a reflection of their individual identities. For example, when first built, a flat in a tower block will normally have the same room layout as other flats within the tower block. However, each individual flat will soon be different as each flat becomes modified by it’s inhabitants. Modifications such as personal belongings, flowers, furniture and paint colours, as well as structural changes with modified kitchens and bathrooms. The flat is still largely in its original form and shape, but the owners have customised it to suit their needs, whether those needs are, personal, social or functional.
This project takes the viewer on a journey from the edge lands of the city towards the centre. The film begins with a scene from the outer areas of the city, almost rural, with city type activity on the horizon, transitioning inward to a quite intense urban scene. The sound increases as the journey inwards progresses, to quite an intense volume, which is only relieved by random people wandering on their own personal journeys. The camera is disconnected and does not engage with the city, we are always watching from a distance, as if a safe distance. It is almost as if we are looking through a security camera. As the film progresses we journey closer to the city, as we do so the audio and noise of the city becomes more, and more intense, to the point of discomfort.