Music, Performance and Identity Take Away Task // CTS2

A Letter to my Younger Cousin on the Importance of Womens Rights.

Aimee,

As you grow further into the beautiful young woman that you are becoming, you will face problems that you could never imagine. Hopefully, these will be things like deciding what to wear on a night out, wondering if your crush will text you back or struggling to find cover for your shift on a Saturday morning. By the time you read this, I pray that the guy who ends up covering that shift gets exactly the same pay that you would receive. I hope that the dress you choose on a night out will not be an excuse for a man to lay his hands upon you without your permission. I hope that your crush treats you better than some women who are abused day in and day out by somebody that they love. Also, if there is one thing you should know, it’s this; YOU ARE NOT OVERREACTING, your thoughts are valid and if you believe something is wrong, do not ignore it just because ‘it’s not a big deal’. Being a woman is a tough job, but it shouldn’t be. Know that you are good enough and you deserve the world. You can do anything you put your mind to and you can defeat the discrimination and prejudice with a strong attitude and a fierce mind. Sooner or later you break the system and become a top manager in a huge company, something very few women have achieved.you may plan to start a family but if this happens before you expected it to, know that you should have the power over your reproductive rights, abortion is an option which should not be shamed by others. It is your body, you decide. That leads me onto my final point; Being a feminist is not something to be scared of. Stick together, fight for whats right and more importantly, fight for a life of equality and freedom. 

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An illustrated letter with words from my blurb, illustrating for the inequality will lift us up and we will put our foot down on the issues.

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The look for my resistance, empowering statement lipstick to be established by women across the globe.

Self-Initiated Fashion Retail Report, TOPSHOP vs TRAID // CTS2

For my retail report, I chose to visit ‘Traid, Brixton’ and ‘Topshop, Oxford Circus’. I began by visiting ‘Traid’, a second-hand clothing store specialising in raising fund to reduce the environmental and social impacts that the clothing industry brings. Upon entering the shop, it was clear that it was a second hand shop aimed at youthful personalities who like vintage clothing. Although the shop was not busy, it was clear that ‘Traid’ was trying to convey a message within the establishment, I feel that it was meant to be an educational yet fun visit. There were facts on the walls and even an educational video available to watch. The fitting rooms displayed clear statistics and educated customers about the impacts our clothes have. This shopping environment communicated a sense of identity about the brand itself by educating the customers. The actual store was quite cramped and the unique and individual items had obviously been worn, I would compare this store heavily to the urban outfitters sale area. Traid’s online presence is a key tool for educating, as shown within the store, making the message persistent.

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Next, I visited ‘Topshop’. This particular store is known for its significant size, unlike ‘Traid, Brixton’. Topshop’s target audience is typically fashionable young girls who keep up to date with current trends. Everyone in the store, even down to the staff, dressed very similarly and up to date, most customers being in their teens or early twenties. The store had several floors with different sections, brands and products on each. It was jam packed with multiple styles, small shops, accessories and even a hairdressers. To me this seemed similar to a department store, not like ‘Traid’ at all. The store was much busier, louder and had multiple identities jammed into one establishment. Like ‘Traid’, ‘Topshop’ have a strong online presence but for this particular store, I would suggest that there is much more available that is not clear on the site.

 

Customising & The Social Body // CTS2

We began this session by discussing the theory of Roland Barthes and his idea of a structural fashion system. In this theory he explains how “fashion creates its own semiotic language” which influences the way in which we think and how we portray certain signs. Semiotics, the study of signs, allows us to think in terms of denotation and connotation. Denotation being what we physically see and connotation being what it implies what the signs actually mean. As an example of this, we discussed the image below and spoke about its denotations and connotations.

 

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“you could be a gangster with a dress, you could be a gangster with baggy pants. I feel like there’s no such thing as gender” – Young Thug, 2016

Dennotations and Connotations list

As you can see, we came up with a list of denotations and connotations referring to what our first impressions were. Upon first impression we thought it was a woman but after some analysis, we figured out that it may be questionable whether it is a male or female. In fact, this is the hip hop artist ‘Young Thug’, who is known for wearing womens clothes and being extremely open about his sexuality and gender. This brings us onto the binary scale, the classification of sex and gender. Jean Baudrillard, a French philosopher, says that gender can be copied as a learned behaviour. This is evident in a music video by “Stromae” where he represents multiple genders through performance and visuals. In the video it is clear that he acts as both man and woman in several ways. As you can see, there is a gender classification through colour, stereotypical actions of both genders and also a gender reference through the singers haircut and clothing.

Colour gender connotations

See video here

 

Objectification of Disabled and Black bodies // CTS2

During this session, we spoke about the objectification and representation of disabled bodies. We referred to Baudelaire’s thoughts on prostitution and deviancy. He saw these women as being outside of a social class and being rebellious within the system. They conflict with Foucault’s idea of society being filled with docile bodies who are passive, non-aggressive individuals. We then watched a music video which demonstrated the segregation and social acceptance of disability. Upon our first thoughts, the video was extremely empowering and illustrated how the idea of stepping outside of the system is unacceptable. In the video, I feel that she is trying to represent herself as normal by almost objectifying herself through sexualisation, a key theme throughout pop music videos. She also did this by glamourising her disability rather than trying to hide it. On the other hand, it can also be argued that bigger organisations have influenced the representation of disabled bodies through this video in particular. channel four, who funded this video have a way in which they portray disability through the media. This raises the issue of whether ‘Modesta’ had full control about how she displays her disability. Going back to Foucault’s theory of a ‘docile society’, although she is going against the system in terms of her disability, she is a docile being in terms of conforming to social norms of the pop culture industry. She is still similar to other well known female pop stars through her appearance, attitude and musical visuals; the only difference is her disability. See music video here.

We then spoke about the ‘Black Panthers’. Around the time of the Black Panthers, there was strong segregations between the white and black communities. They had a well known uniform; being all in black, a beret hat, afro hair and a gun. They did this to be militant and aggressive in order to break social rules such as having a certain appearance to progress in life. Going back to Foucault’s theory, the Black panthers were still trying to be transgressive but they also continued with the patriarchal powers of the social norms, therefore, women had little role in the black panthers.

Shoe Illustration Analysis

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My Black Converse Illustration

“I long to be the other and for the other to be me through my amorous clothes”
– Fashion as Communication, 10/01/16, Available at: http://moodle.arts.ac.uk/

I chose this quote as I believe that the ‘Black Hi-Top Converse’ is a very universal shoe but the way in which you use them/ wear this piece can determine how your personality is perceived by others. To me this quote expresses the notion of individuality and expressing yourself whilst fitting in to a collective. The words “I long to be the other” references how the individual may want to fit into society where as “and for the other to be me through my amorous clothes” refers to expressing yourself in a particular way which may be desirable to others.

In my illustration, I have highlighted how the way in which I tie my shoes, represents my personality. To further express this I have written the text about my shoe and what it portrays in multi coloured handwriting, this reiterates my individuality as well as the fun and quirky aspects I am trying to show. In reference to the quote, I desire to fit in to a societal spectrum by wearing this shoe, but I wish for others to admire the style in which I wear them.

 

Fashion Systems, Narratives and Post Colonial Britain // CTS2

In this session we began by discussing fashion systems and the factors of which it is made up of. We spoke about how perceptual judgement, viewer, context, model and semiotics have a severe effect on the structural fashion system.  We analysed this using the situation of a couple sitting in a park, where the female in the couple is not wearing a shirt. In this situation, the perceptual judgement could be based on the viewers background and cultural beliefs as to how they respond to the situation, the viewer would be the outsider in the situation, observing what is happening, having a ‘perceptual judgement’; This could also be subjective to the male/ female gaze, relative to the viewer. The context int his situation could often depend on the weather, the event, the location and also how much background information that the viewer has regarding on what is happening. The model in this situation would be the subject (couple) group/culture and /or who is actually wearing/ not wearing the clothing itself. Finally, the semiotics in this event would refer to what we deem suitable according to laws and cultural views.

This example really breaks down how we develop opinions and fashion context according to each element of how/what we as a species think about a specific situation.

We then spoke about the fashion of the Post-Colonial Britain era. This raises issues of ‘being haunted by the past’ which ties into issues such as cultural appropriation. For example, if a white person was to part take in typically ‘Afro-Caribbean” fashion, this could be deemed disrespectful as they are wearing it for fashion rather than understanding the culture.

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John Gay Image

In reference to the first part of the lecture, the whole idea of the colonial gaze existed during this period of time, for example, in Carol Tulloch’s book, “The Birth of Cool”, a photograph of a young black woman taken by John Gay shows a man with a look of disgust as to why there is a black woman there. This colonial gaze suggests that he has a specific representation of that woman’s culture and she is not conforming to it.

Overall this lecture highlighted how we visualise our own narratives and follow a fashion structure when developing an opinion regarding fashion.

Fashion Culture, Representation and Modernism // CTS 2

Fashion Culture refers to anything current and on trend. Upon first thought, many would agree that fashion refers only to clothing and accessories when in fact there is a whole ethical/ societal influence to what influences us as humans.

During the modernism and modern capitalism movement, social class solidification within industry was much more evident compared to previous decades. In terms of fashion there are four main ‘classes’. The Bourgeois, The upper class of the industrial world; they have the means to produce and execute ideas because they are able to afford the technology. The Proletariat; working class members of society who are often paid a minimal living wage to work in the factories which produce the things of which they will later aspire to buy, an example of how consumerism is often at the expense of humanity. The Boheme, a creative class who thinks innovatively  and originally whilst being able to meander out of the ‘Bourgeois’ and ‘Proletariat’ classes. Finally, The Flaneur, a member of the utopian member of the creative class (Boheme), often considered the conceptual genius of society.

Also within fashion culture is an issue of ethics, In the lecture these were said to be (1) Think for yourself (2) Think by putting yourself in someone else’s place (3) think in such a way as to always be in agreement with yourself. To me this refers to the whole idea of self expression, to be expressive n your own right, to understand others needs for expression and to not claim anything as right or wrong.

Representation also plays a huge part in fashion culture, to portray yourself in a particular way by your choice of clothing is a great way of representing who you are. This is demonstrated in the short exercise of sketching our favourite shoes and what they say about us as well as how we would convince others to wear the same thing.

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My Black Converse Illustration

My Place or Yours: The Branding of Places and Spaces // CTS2

In this session we considered the socio-economic-political agenda of national and city branding. we looked into things such as the London and Rio Olympics and the social issues it arose. I watched a short clip which spoke about how the Rio 2016 olympics was morally wrong in the fact that they did not take any notice of how poverty ridden the country was, but instead focused on funding the brand of Rio 2016, the clip showed local residents who are completely ignored by trains/coaches of people travelling to the stadium, a completely inhumane and ignorant attitude to major issue. As for the 2012 London olympics, the opening ceremony was a very controversial topic. The ceremony attempted to brand London by focusing mainly on the industrial revolution to show how far we have come as a country but only a year before, there were huge riots across the whole city. The fact that this was not part of the ceremony shows how national branding can sometimes be extremely selective in what is shown, making it a questionable representation of the place.

I also watched an interview with Will Self on his opinions of the London olympics where stated that the olympics was essentially ‘boosterism’, meaning it was mainly for economic and capital boost, something of which I agree strongly with. Also in the session we were asked to look more into national branding by drawing objects which stereotypically represented a place, we then spoke about how these were not necessarily as representational as people expect. After this we got into groups and tried to attract new Residents and businesses to Elephant and Castle, we went out into the environment to collect data and devised a poster to help spread our message. overall, i found this session extremely helpful and it helped me to understand nation/ location branding as a whole.

Stereotypical London

Our planned approach for the poster and environment research

Images from the environment and its upcoming plans

Images from the environment and its upcoming plans

This is our poster, encouraging new residents and businesses to come to Elephant and Castle

 

Turner Prize Visit // CTS2

In this session we visited the Tate Britain, Millbank, to view the turner prize a prestigious art show held every year, showcasing the work of four chosen artists. This year, the four artists shortlisted were Michael Dean, Anthea Hamilton, Helen Marten and Josephine Pryde. All totally different styles and work. Upon entering the exhibition, we were immediately greeted with the work of Helen Marten. Marten uses screen print, sculpture and writing within her installations. She includes references to historical and everyday in her work. Fo the work submitted for the prize, she collected both found and handmade objects to create a ‘poetic visual puzzle’ with a playful aspect, encouraging the viewer to figure out the riddle in the installations.

The work shown in this particular part of the gallery showed Marten to divide her space into three representational ‘workstations’ where “unknown human activity can be seen to be interrupted” – an interesting concept for  group of objects we may be familiar with. Helen Marten demonstrated these mysterious scenes by making them something to be investigated by the public, we were encouraged to look deeply at the items almost to the extent where we are able to reconsider the purpose of these objects in the modern day world.

To me the ‘workstation’ aspect of the work was demonstrated clearly as it had an industrial feel to each piece with dull materials and colour. The placement of the random items did make you question why they were there but personally i was unable to solve the riddle of interference. All of Martens work was visually interesting but complicated and hard to understand. I feel that the voice of this artist was serious yet playful as you were made to feel like an investigator on a crime scene, a playful thought when realising the reality of the work. I feel that the values of the work remain with they mystery element of the pieces. I feel that the bottom line of this artist and her work was to encourage curiosity and promoting the importance of question, clearly shown in the riddles of each installation.

The next artist in the collection was Anthea Hamilton, a London based artist who used sculpture and scale to create highly impressionable pieces. When walking into Hamiltons gallery, you was faced with a giant sculpture of a backside; a humous yet memorable installation. Due to its sheer scale and nature, it was clear that the piece was a main talking point amongst the visitors. It was here that it became clear how Hamilton uses humour in her work to make it playful and engaging. Anthea Hamilton claims that she is highly influenced by french writer and dramatist ‘Antonin Artaud’ and his call for the “physical knowledge of images”.

I feel that Hamiltons message throughout all of her pieces is to not take things too seriously, the immature visuals in her work are very lighthearted and playful which makes you enjoy the whole gallery experience, demonstrating clearly a huge contrast to the typical gallery set up. I also feel that Anthea Hamilton is trying to make a statement with the loud, contrasting floor to ceiling wallpaper, huge scale of her pieces and the unusual placement of each installation. The values of this artwork are clearly shown to be a lighthearted fun type of work, encouraging the viewer to enjoy the whole experience and to not take the whole thing too seriously, the bottom line being humorous, harmless fun.

 

From Anthea Hamiltons large scale sculptures to a series of photographic and sculptural pieces, we then moved to Josephine Pryde’s section of the prize. Pryde’s gallery was a more sophisticated, serious collection that explored the nature of image making and display. The first thing you were greeted with upon entering this particular gallery was  a series of kitchen worktops. Pryde exposed these worktops in three major cities, London, Berlin and Athens. The final result was very similar to that of a photogram. Personally, as I am interested in photographic techniques, I found this installation very aesthetically pleasing and particularly interesting as it made you wonder what objects had been exposed.

Another piece in Josephine Prydes collection was a scale model of what seemed to be some sort of freight train. Each carriage had been tagged by different graffiti artists from the cities that the train had visited previously during its time of being exhibited. I like this concept as it showed how the piece changes from gallery to gallery, creating the idea of it being a constantly changing piece.

The third and final series in this collection was a series of photographs (also ongoing), show a resemblance to fashion advertising photography. Prydes concept was to focus on the models upper body and hands, the purpose of this was to show where the body and the object of which they are holding meet. Many of the photographs showed a model holding some sort of modern technology such as smartphones or tablets. I think that the artist did this to show the means of interaction we have with these objects in everyday life, also, the fact that smart technology has become such a huge part of our lifestyles, i believe that by just focusing on the hands, Pryde is demonstrating purely the gestures and haptic connection we have with this type of technology.

Overall, I believe that the work is trying to show the processes of image making and ongoing art. It shows a sort of self improvement in the fact that the pieces are able to evolve and be added to for each gallery.

 

The final gallery in the turner prize belonged to Michael Dean. Dean has a particular process to his work of which I find very intriguing. He starts his work by writing and then refines the text by turning it into a physical form. The human scale shapes each represent letters and words which have been distorted and changed. He likes to use recognisable materials such as corrugated metal and concrete, which demonstrates an industrial nature to his artwork. On first impression there seemed to be a theme running through the gallery with small recogniseable stickers lining the entrance, placed on the artwork and also on the walls of the gallery itself. The scale of the artwork was also extremely overwhelming as you were almost exploring the artwork and climbing over obstacles to move around. The structures were meant to resemble language but not necessarily as legible words or characters. In the artwork, was moulds of human body parts, almost giving the idea of destruction and maybe accident.

The main talking point of this particular gallery was a extortionate amount of pennies, adding up to a total of £20,436, piled and scattered all over the floor. The concept behind his was to represent the poverty line for two adults and two children living in the UK, visually show the amount of money  that the government states is the minimum amount of money for this amount of people to survive for a year in the UK. Explained in the gallery was that when Dean installed this piece, he took just one of the pennies away to give the impression that this was one penny below the poverty line. I thought that this was the most effective piece in Michael Deans gallery as it shows you just how much money it would tae for someone to be classed as living in poverty.

Michael Dean took a much more serious, factual approach to his work which was all about the message and making people think. I believe that the artist wanted to leave an impression on people and done this through the scale and concept of his design.

 

The purpose of visiting and deconstructing each gallery in the Turner Prize was to try and contemplate the ‘brand’ of each artist. We did this by using the same methods we used in the psychogeographical trip to Westfield Stratford, including the analysation of a brands voice, message, values and the bottom line of each business. I believe that each artist has a ‘brand’ of some sort which is clearly demonstrated in this task when comparing each artist. For example, Anthea Hamilton has clearly shown a lighthearted, fun approach to her work. If Hamilton was to create something that was the direct opposite, being serious and factual, this would almost be considered as breaking out of her usual ‘brand’.

Other artists that have a brand include Keith Hairing and Andy Warhol, two of the most recogniseable styles of the modern art world. The iconic styles of these two artists make them instantly distinguishable, a key part of branding as a whole. For artists to have this trait, it means that they carry a brand with their name. This could work in the artists favour but if they were to ever change their styles, it could be classed as unlike them and rebellious and people may not like it as much as it does not fall into that particular category of a specific kind or work.

This task just demonstrated how art as commodity can also carry a brand and that it is not just commercial businesses where branding can be useful.

The use of Social Media in Branding // CTS2

In this session we spoke about how branding behaviours define us as individuals and groups. We started by talking about how brands use social media and how they portray their character/personality, story/message, mission, values and bottom line. we started by defining the three main social media platforms and we then went on to choose a brand from what we were provided.

My group chose TESCO as their main focus. We first decided to assign each group member a specific social media platform. I used ‘Facebook’ as my main platform. I started by looking at the ‘about’ section on their page. I found this extremely useful as it gave me most of the information that I was looking for. I learned that the company was founded in 1919 when Jack Cohen started it all on a market stall in Hackney. The company overview stated that they were “a team of over 530’000 people in 12 markets dedicated to bringing the best value, choice and service to millions of customers each week”, a great description of such a high profile brand. On their page, they also stated their mission statement – “serving shoppers a little better everyday”, a great way of suggesting self improvement and development. Alongside their purpose and mission statement, they also gave customers insight to their company values, these were as listed below:

  1. “No-one tries harder for their customers”
  2. “To treat people how they want to be treated”
  3. “Every little helps makes a big difference”

With this information, I began to analyse how it defines them as a group. I figured that they have a professional yet fun and family friendly approach to portraying their personality. The fact that the whole brand began years ago on a Hackney market stall allows the customer to understand how the company has had a drive to build itself up. It also demonstrates a sense of authenticity. Their mission was clearly stated on their page and I feel that it matches well with their slogan of “every little helps”. The fact that TESCO emphasis the importance of small things show how they take pride in every aspect of their business, maybe an insight to the great customer service that they provide. This is also evident in their values, the way that TESCO want to treat people how they want to be treated ensures that the customers will be satisfied and valued.

These business strategies and values were also evident on other social media platforms used by TESCO such as ‘Instagram’ and ‘Twitter’. They both showed how customer/ family friendly the business was and demonstrated a sense of community. The customers were a big part of the companies social media processes. Providing 24 hour help, they relied heavily on interaction, making them extremely approachable. Both the Twitter and Instagram feed demonstrated how helpful the company way, posting daily updates and tips about food preparation and so on.

From here we compared notes and reduced our findings onto a simple a3 poster, as shown below.

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A3 Tesco Poster

From here we started to compare TESCO to other brands. Upon further research, Brand such as ASDA posted more about offers than TESCO did, making us question whether their customer value/satisfaction was as important as TESCOS implied and whether other retailers just cared about profit. TESCO is such a huge brand but the way in which they use social media shows a much more personal, non-corporate feel which in turn enables them to maybe connect with its clientele much more than other brands.

Overall, I feel that social media can be a great addition to a companies branding and marketing techniques as it can help define a companies values and character. The way in which a business acts on their social media can influence hugely, what customers think of the brand as a whole.