Sunday, 5 December 2010

500 word summary on Faber Birren's "Colour and Human Response"

500 words on Faber Birren’s “Colour and Human Response”

Another text that I studied last year in Design Studies, Faber Birren’s “Colour and Human Response”, though smaller in content than his Colour Psychology and Colour Therapy, it still proved to be a very useful resource. I chose to revisit these texts as they have proven to be the most indepth studies of my dissertation topic that I have found to date. In this text, Birren focuses mainly on the incluences colour has on life, “supported by historical references and the latest scientific data.” He touches on how colour effects humans, plants, insects, birds, fish and animals, providing a greater understanding of the versatile powers of colour on life. He gives thorough descriptions of the use of colour in relation the The Ancient Gods, how colour affects different cultures, and the significance of the Planets and the Stars.

Birren divides the text into 9 main sections, of which Emotional Response, Biological Response, Historical Background, and To Heal The Body were of greater interest to me. In the Biological Response chapter, Birren states that “the stimulation of red and other warm colours tend to increase blood pressure, pulse, respiration.” He notes that there is also an increase in brain activity and skin response, concluding that the subject’s attention “is directed outward toward the environment.” To counteract this statement, he shows that to physically and psychologically relax the body and mind, green and blue are effective and can cause the rate of functions in the body to lower, “with less distraction from the environment”. (Pg 66 & 67)

Whereas earlier in the text, Birren reviews the ancient traditions related to colour along with the mythology and superstitions that co-exist, the chapter To Heal The Body specifically deals with “the art of healing, both old and new”. Sub-chapter “The Fabulous Edwin D. Birren” shows that Birren appreciates American “magnetist and psycho physician” Edwin D. Babbitt, but does not “subscribe to his theories” developed throughout the 1800s. He states that Babbitt “formed an interlude if not an interruption to the progress of enlightened medical and surgical practice. Babbitt stands as one of the most singular men in the story of Colour Therapy.” (Pg 88) In relation to colour therapy, Babbitt wrote: “Red light, like red drugs, is the warning element of sunlight, with an especially rousing effect upon the blood and to some extent upon the nerves, especially as strained through some grades of red glass which will admit not only the red but the yellow rays, thus prove valuable in paralysis and other dormant and chronic conditions.”

The content of this text was more difficult to understand, and I found myself trying to decipher where Birren agreed and when he was making a point of arguing with the theories and ideologies he described. However, there are the four chapters in the text that I believe will be useful come dissertation time.

500 word summary on Faber Birren's "Colour Psychology and Colour Therapy"

500 words on Faber Birren’s “Colour Psychology and Colour Therapy: A Factual Study of the Influence of Colour on Human Life.”

American writer, Faber Birren (1990-88), has devoted his life to colour and it’s effects on human life. After writing around 25 texts on the topic, it would be safe to say his work is considered highly amoung colour experts and psychologists around the world. Birren’s work has a strong focus on linking how humans perceive colours to how it makes them react. He writes, “Good smelling colours are pink, lilac, orchid, cool green, aqua blue.” In his text Colour Psychology and Colour Therapy, Birren explores the work of several physicians, scientists and doctors, mainly the German psychoanalyst and physician Felix Deutsch. “His findings throw important light not only on medical practice with references to colour but on the whole psychology of colour.” (Pg 46, “Colour and Human Response”).

Faber Birren states that if a person prefers warmer colours such as hues of red and oranges, they are likely to me more aware of their social environment. He labels these as “warm colour dominant subjects.” On the other hand, those preferring cooler colours such as blues and greens, are categorized generally as “cold colour dominant subjects” and are recognised as finding it challenging to adapt themselves to new environments and situations”(Pg138). By splitting people into separate categories, based on their colour preferences, Birren finds himself able to establish a greater understanding of their personalities and characteristics. One experiment Birren explores in his text, courtesy of Kurt Goldstein, involves a subject standing before a black wall with his eyes shut and arms outstretched to touch the wall in front. When the subject is influenced by a warm colour such as the colour red, his arms deviate away from each other, whereas when under the influence of a cooler colour such as green or blue, even though the reaction is a subtle one, the subject will move his arms closer together. I find this experiment, simple as it is, to be fascinating in highlighting the strong effects colours have on our minds and bodies.

As well as distinguishing the differences in peoples’ character through his use of colour psychology, Birren also touches on the effects colours can have on the mentally ill, in this text. This section was the most interesting and involved a series of complex experiments such as discovering which neurological disorders were linked to which colours. Courtesy of the work by Hans Huber, it was proven that patients suffering manic tendencies preferred the colour red, a symbol of blood and anger. Hysterical patients were more sensitive to green, “perhaps as an escape”, the colour linked to paranoid subjects was found to be brown and schizophrenics are sensitive to yellow.

Birren states that persons troubled with “nervous (neurotic) and mental(psychotic) disturbances are greatly affected by colour and are responsive to it”. Therefore colour becomes much more significant to them, and affects them in a completely different way than those without such neurological disturbances. Chapter 12 Neurotics and Psychotics is the most compelling in the text as it relates to my dissertation topic. After struggling to find texts specific to my research subject, this text and its contents came as a welcomed discovery and I will be referring to Birren’s work throughout my further research.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Wiki Entry Design Studies

What is Ethnography?

"We are all watchers - of television, of clocks, of traffic - but few of us are observers. Everyone is looking; not many are seeing." Peter M. Leschak.

Ethnography is a stem of anthropology, and in some cases sociology, dealing with human cultures and their scientific descriptions. It is a form of "data collection" involving a number of various methods, including studies of ethnic groups and their formations, studies into their resettlement, group structures and social, spiritual and material welfare and culture. Data collection is a term used to help make decisions about important issues, to pass the information collected onto others and to ultimately develop a wider understanding about a specific topic. Ethnographers use methods such as participant observation, questionnaires and interviews for data collection. Data collection usually takes place early on in an improvement project, and is often formalised through a data collection plan which often contains the following activity.

  1. Pre collection activity – Agree goals, target data, definitions, methods
  2. Collection – data collection
  3. Present Findings – usually involves some form of sorting analysis and/or presentation.

The aim of ethnography is to explore different cultures through writing, observing, analysing and learning. By exploring the different aspects of a specific group in great detail, we can gain a wider understanding of the world in which we live, and when combined with design, we have the opportunity to improve quality of life for a vast amount of people. Norwegian ethnographer, Thor Heyerdahl once said, "One learns more from listening than speaking. And both the wind and the people who continue to live close to nature still have much to tell us which we cannot hear within university walls. ", capturing perfectly the importance of exploration, observation and how necessary it is for us to develop new techniques to learn as much as we can about the world's diverse cultures and groups.

Thor Heyerdahl (October 6, 1914, Larvik, Norway – April 18, 2002, Colla Micheri, Italy)

A Brief History of Ethnography

Ethnography was first recognised and defined in the early 1900s by Bronisław Kasper Malinowski's fieldwork among Trobriand Islanders in 1914. Malinowski was born in Krakow, Poland in 1884 and is widely considered to be one of the most influential anthropologists of the 20th century. "He was the first to use participant observation to generate specific anthropological knowledge." Malinowski was the first anthropologist to distinguish the methodology of fieldwork. He adopted the use of charts, tables, interviews and observed everday actions to understand different societies and ethnic groups. "Through the acquisition of an outstanding education and many years of fieldwork, he became a very influential British anthropologist and the founder of Functionalism." Functionalism is a broad perspective in sociology and anthropology with the intention of portraying society as a "structure with interrelated parts. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions and institutions."

"There are no peoples however primitive without religion and magic. Nor are there, it must be added at once, any savage races lacking in either the scientific attitude, or in science, though this lack has been frequently attributed to them." Malinowski (1954)

Malinowski's study of the Trobriant Islanders of New Guinea in the southwest Pacific was his first field study and the beginning of the development of Ethnography. As is common in Ethnography, Malinowski approached his studies of the native's behaviour with a "holistic approach". Ethnography approaches are "holistic" in that they are "founded on the idea that humans are best understood in the fullest possible context, including: the place where they live, the improvements they've made to that place, how they are making a living and providing food, housing, energy and water for themselves, what their marriage customs are, what language(s) they speak and so on." He examined social interactions such as the annual Kula Ring Exchange, which he found involved "magic, religion, kinship and trade". Malinowski is also well known for discovering evidence that "discredits Sigmund Freud's theory of the Oedipus Complex in the lives of the Trobianders, by providing that individual psychology depends on cultural context." He states that "the functional view of culture lays down the principle that in every type of civilization, every custom, material object, idea and belief fulfills some vital function, has some task to accomplish, represents an indispensable part with a working whole" (Kardiner 1961).

Ethnography in relation to Design

"What people say is not what they do." Ethnography and Design are closely linked in that by delving deeper into all aspects of human culture, design can reveal a wider understanding of people and how we make sense of the world. Good design can help connect, inspire, entertain and provoke. As designers, we use some form of ethnography in everything we design. Designers show an understanding of the relationship between "what they produce and the meaning their product has for others." We have to examine and observe people in their own environments in order to successfully design for them. "A designer should care about ethnography because it can help produce more compelling, innovative design that really connects with users - in a way that creates delight." Darrel Rhea. Designing can be improved by paying more attention to whom we are designing for, by gaining a true understanding of the target audience, and by considering the environment and habitat in which they live. How can we expect to design for a world we know nothing about?


Kardiner and Preble, (1961) They Studied Man Establishing a data collection plan.

Malinowski, B, (1954), Magic, Science and Religion

Malinowski, B, (1915) The Trobriand Island

Malinowski, B, (1922) The Scientific Theory of Culture

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Design Studies Essay (part 1 and 2)

In last semester's assignment 4, I wrote a comparative essay on two of Faber Birren's texts, “Color Psychology and Color Therapy: A Factual Study of the Influence of Color on Human Life” and “Color and Human Response”. I used secondary research to look into detail the effects colours can have on the treatment of mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression. I looked at a number of experiments carried out by scientists and physicians, including the work of physician Felix Deutsch. However, in this assignment it is my intention to explore colour psychology and therapy using potential primary research. I will explain in depth, a number of ways I would carry out experiments that would help deepen my knowledge of the benefits of therapeutic colour therapy. Because I am not a neuroscience student or studying any biological sciences, my research will be purely theoretical, using the methods we have been taught this semester. I then intend to use everything I learn to help me look at one of my Jewellery and Metalwork design briefs in a different light. I recently proof read a 10,000 word dissertation for my sister on Vanishing White Matter Disease (VWM). Although not directly linked to my topic, it was very beneficial for me to aknowledge the way my sister wrote her dissertation, using a combination of both primary and secondary research. I feel it will aid me in this assignment by providing me with the tools needed to complete it.

Using the knowledge I have gained in my first essay, and considering the secondary research I gathered through Birren's texts, I have now come up with three experiements, which if put into practise, I believe the results would be beneficial in widening our understanding of the advantageous effects of colour therapy in therapeutic treatment of mental disorders. Colour therapy and other hypnotherapeutical practises are often considered non beneficial by some, but I think the next three hypothetical experiments will help prove that colour therapy can infact aid the treatment of mental disorders.

The first experiment I would carry out would be a functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. A structural MRI takes photographs of cross sections of the brain to detect masses such as tumours whereas a functional MRI measures the changes in blood flow in relation to neural activity. Functional MRIs allow for doctors to observe the changes in a patient's brain when exposed to different images and sounds. I would present a patient suffering from a mental disorder with a series of different coloured lights and hues, measuring the changes in their brain activity to each. If each colour caused the neural activity to react in different ways then this would begin to show that colours do infact have some effect on the brain. If I could identify which colours effect which parts of the brain, and compare these to the sections of the brain that are damaged from certain mental disorders, I could use these specific colours to see what change they make to the patient. If, for example, red and yellow light up the same area of the brain affected by schizophrenia, perhaps different hues of these colours could result in some form of beneficial treatment. I would also carry out the same experiment on someone with a healthy brain, to make sure that the colours used where specific to each mental disorder.

The second experiment would involve another functional MRI scan, but this time instead of presenting the different colours to the patient, I would instead ask them purely to think of the colour I chose. This would help me to see if even the thought of a colour can have any kind of effect on the brain. If this was the case, then eventually a structured form of meditation could be developed to help therapeutically treat the patient in question.

My third and final experiment would involve investigating the difference between medication and colour therapy. To show this I would start a group of patients suffering from depression on medication such as the anti-depressant citalopram, and start another group of patients also suffering from depression on colour therapy. By this stage if experients one and two had proven successful, I would know which colours to expose the patients to. By recording the effects of both treatments, it would be possible to see which has a more beneficial effect on the treatment of depression if any at all. This ties in with the idea of the “placebo” effect, which has shown to have advantageous effects on patients, if they are unaware that they are on the placebo rather than the treatment. When the brain releases endorphins, it has been shown that suffering patients do infact begin recovering. (Lourdes, France). Perhaps if endorphins are released as a result of exposure to different colours, patients could be treated in this way, rather than having to take medication.

In Birren's text Color Psychology and Color Therapy, he generalises a theory about colours in relation to personality. He states that people preferring warm colours “warm colour dominant subjects”, are more in touch with their social environment. They are more likely to be characterized by warm feelings, and in the “subject-object relationship, the emphasis is on the object.” (Pg 138). He then argues that people preferring cold colours, such as blue and green, calling these people “cold colour dominant subjects”, find it difficult to adapt to new environments and situations, and are “inwardly integrated.” He states that cold colour dominant subjects are less able to express themselves compared with warm colour dominants. Emotionally the cold colour dominant subject is rather reserved and in the “subject-object relationship, the emphasis is on the subject.” (Pg 138). A less scientific experiment I would carry out would involve interviewing the public to see what colours they choose to surround themselves with and why, what their favourite colours are and how this reflects their personalities. With the knowledge I gained in semester one about colour psychology, asking people their favourite colours can theoretically tell us a lot about what kind of person they are.

For the second part of this assignment, it is my intention to use the tools I have gained this semester and apply them to one of my previous jewellery design briefs, to hopefully work out a way to improve my designs and give me some fresh ideas. The brief I have chosen to look at in more detail is the Catwalk project, where I based my designs around the colours and patterns of Indian culture. I researched the different traditions of India including the art of henna in weddings and birthdays. It was my aim to produce a number of bracelets and arm cuffs to “adorn the body in an individual and unusual way”. I asked a girl from my class to model my pieces, and I was really pleased with the outcome of the photographs, and the exhibition we had for the project was a success. The henna particularly interested me, so after looking at a number of different couture designers, I began designing my own henna patterns and scanned them onto the computer. By printing the designs onto a special type of acetate called Print 'n' Peel, I was able to transfer them onto sheets of copper and brass and place in the etching bath. With my etched metal, I formed 3 arm cuffs, one lined with fabric, another textured with a hammer, and the third with a flocked surface. The rest of my designs involved binding wire around strips of different colours and lengths of fabrics to produce 30 chunky bracelets to be worn all the way up the arms. My final designs appealed to me personally, but I believe to have improved my designs, it would have been useful to do some primary research, similar to what I've gained this semester, to discover what it is that the majority of the public would like. By doing this, eventually my designs would hopefully appeal to a wider audience, thus making me a more successful designer.

If I could rewind and begin this project again, I think it would have been very beneficial for my designing to carry out a number of interviews with a variety of people, focusing on females. I would base my interviews on what people thought of when I asked them to describe India. I would ask them what colours they associate with the country, what patterns, textiles, smells, shapes etc. The interviews I would carry out would be structured without being too rigid, giving the respondent a chance to present more of their own thoughts rather than being pushed into giving generic answers. The age group I would interview would be females between the ages of 13 and 30.

Another method, arguably more effective than the previous, would be to chose some images related to india, or jewellery and ask a group of people to either describe or write a short story about the images. From doing this experiment earlier in the semester, it showed me that when people wrote the short stories about 4 images I had chosen at random, the words they used, and the creativity of their stories showed me a great deal about their personalities. Applying this along with what I have learned about colour psychology, I believe that I would be able to create a range of designs suited specifically for that person after carrying out these two experiments.

Going around the shops and observing what women buy who fit into this category would also have been helpful in aiding my research. High street shops such as Topshop, Accessorize, and Monsoon sell jewellery to a large audience, and the styles of their products all have a certain similarity. By seeing what is popular and sought after, I could base my designs around a certain style that I know would sell. However I would want the outcome to be original, showing my own personality through my pieces, and for them to be more individual than the latest high street fashion.

Even though not applicable to this project, another method of primary research that could be useful would be to make a mock piece and ask a few members of the public to wear it for a day to see how comfortable it is to wear and how durable it would be. This doesn't really apply to this project as the cuffs were really made to be worn as a one off. The fabric bracelets may have benefited from this though, as they could be worn as everyday accessories.

Because I used a lot of fabric for my bracelets, I think it would be advantageous for me to ask a range of people which they prefered. I had a number of different fabrics with varied textures, colours and finishes. The people that I did ask, almost all prefered the blue and green chunkier bracelets. This surprised me as I had planned to stick to warmer colours such as reds, oranges and yellows, but added some extra colours at the last minute. Looking back I wish I'd asked for other people's opinions sooner, as it would have helped me gain a new direction in my designing. It would have also been interesting to ask people to help me design my own fabric, making each fabric design individual to the customer, and therefore more appealing.

Through both of these short essays I hope to have drawn some conclusions to both my interest in Colour Psychology and my evaluation of the Catwalk Project. From the tools and skills I have gained this semester in both Design studies and in the jewellery and metalwork design course, including the ability to carry out primary research, I feel I can now apply them to future projects. For my next project, Sustainability, I think it will be very useful to incorporate these tools into my research, providing me with a more substancial volume of knowledge to base my designs on.


Birren, F. (1984) Color & Human Response: Aspects of Light and Color Bearing on the Reactions of Living Things and the Welfare of Human Beings. Wiley.

Birren, F. (1979) Color Psychology and Color Therapy: a factual study of the influence of color on Human life. Kessinger Publishing Co.

Interviewing the Public

I found this assignment to be much more challenging. I don’t feel terribly nervous about meeting new people, but it’s a different story when you feel like you’re hassling strangers. I asked 3 randomly selected members of the public a series of questions, some of which were more personal than others. I found that a lot of people were more willing to help me in my interviews than others, but I don’t blame them as I instantly shut off when approached in the street to answer a questionnaire or to be offered some service or product. I went ahead with the assignment with my questions written in my notebook, but left some room for people to go off course a little, without letting them go off the topic completely. My first question was what is your most treasured possession, and I found the answers differed greatly depending whether or not the person I was interviewing was male or female. I asked two women and a man, the women both presented quite sentimental possessions, such as a ring and a cat. The man I asked said he couldn’t decide between his flat screen telly or his Xbox. Later in the interview I discovered he was a student, so his answer isn’t that surprising! The women’s answers however, do show that they are more emotionally attached to their treasured possessions, whereas the man’s possessions were more functional. I then asked them if they had purchased these possessions themselves, and if they hadn’t I asked what relationship they had with the person who had purchased them. The lady with the ring had it bought for her by her husband on their anniversary, and she informed me that they had just recently celebrated their second wedding anniversary, with a big smile on her face, and it took me too long to realise I was smiling like a big goon back at her. Happiness is contagious! The woman with the adoring cat bought it for herself when she moved into a new house to keep her company, so I assumed she wasn’t married, but it was nice that she found comfort in her cat’s company. The student with the TV and the Xbox had worked over the summer and Christmas to pay for his gadgets, and he looked quite proud of himself. I asked him if he appreciated them more because he had had to work for them and he agreed. I tried not to force people to answer the way I wanted them to, but found it quite tricky. Another question I asked all three was that if they had the chance to replace their chosen items, would they and if so, why or why not? The student told me he had insurance on both so he wasn’t too bothered if he had to replace him because he would “just buy a bigger telly”. The woman with the ring said she couldn’t replace the ring, but I secretly think if something happened to it she would want her husband to buy her something equally special to replace it. The woman with the cat said the only way she would replace her cat was if it died, but she said she hoped this wouldn’t happen for another few years yet as the cat was only 4. I was quite lucky in the people who let me interview them in that they were all quite laid back about it, and were more than willing to take time out of their day to help me. I tried to make the three people I was interviewing as varying as possible, but it turned out in the end that they were all (as an estimate) between the ages of 20 and 30. If I was to redo this assignment, I would have preferred to interview a larger number of people to get a wider set of answers. It would also have been helpful to ask an equal number of males and females, just to get an fair perspective on the difference in answers. The only other thing I would have changed would have been to do the assignment in pairs, and either pair with another couple and compare answers, or do this in my own pair. I feel it would have been much less daunting doing it with a friend along side. Nevertheless, it did feel quite good to do something I wouldn’t usually, and gave me a little bit of a confidence boost.

Design Safari

For this assignment, we had to go out of our comfort zone. I decided to observe the public and see what conclusions I could draw about people without actually speaking to them. I brought a notepad and pencil to a coffee shop in town and sat at the window watching the passers by. If I saw an interesting looking conversation between two stationary people, I would sketch them, and write down everything that came to my mind beside the drawings to help me remember each situation. One that springs to mind was a conversation I saw between a boy and a girl, who I am assuming were boyfriend and girlfriend. She stopped him in the street as they were walking and held both of his hands and looked like she was pleading with him in a lighthearted way about something. I decided she was trying to get him to meet her parents. He pulled away from her grasp, and his body language wasn’t positive at all. After a minute or two, they began walking again, whilst holding hands, except this time they both displayed a certain awkwardness, and they held each others hands much looser than before the “tiff”. I also observed an old man walking with his dog and talking to it as they walked together. I think he was very lonely, and I felt a bit sorry for him. I found myself making up little stories about each of the people I found to be the most interesting, from their favourite foods to family holidays they went on as children. I then became briefly paranoid that someone was sitting watching me watching people, and felt quite self conscious! After reading the book “Snoop”, I feel that I look at people and their possessions with a much more analytic eye. I also read a novel when I was younger, and in it the main character would follow people around shops to see what they buy and make up life stories about them, and I felt a bit like her. I enjoyed this assignment, even though it was slightly more formal, sometimes its nice to just sit back and watch the world go by.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Lapis Lazuli

After researching different gemstones and their symbolism, I've been drawn to the semi-precious stone Lapis Lazuli, mined in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan for over 6,000 years. It can be dated back as far as the times of the Egyptians and I plan to research the different rituals that Lapis Lazuli was believed to be used in.

Catwalk Project

Just had the exhibition for our catwalk project, was it just me or was this one the most stressful one to date?! We had to choose a culture to research and then design an extravagant piece of catwalk jewellery, so I had a look at India. The art of henna is a cultural symbol of love and an old age tradition of aesthetic design. Combined with the rich colours and fabrics often associated with India, it was my aim to produce a selection of quick vibrant bracelets to adorn the wearers' arms in an extravagant and exaggerated way. In the end I made 25 fabric bracelets and 3 arm cuffs made by etching my own henna designs onto copper and brass, and forming into the shape of a cuff using my trusty hammer. We had a big photo shoot at the end of the project, and used some of the photos to display in our exhibition. Here's a few shots of Sana Aziz wearing my jewellery:

I also ended up modelling Colette's head piece, probably because I have the biggest head in our group... She wrapped me in a bed sheet from Primark, kind of felt like I was on my way to a Toga Party, but it was good fun regardless!

Just had the project brief this morning for our next project, Stone Setting. I used to collect old pieces of glass and broken pottery when I went to the beach, and I knew it would come in handy ooooone day! I'm planning to set some of the old glass and perhaps produce a ring for my final outcome, but we'll see where my research takes me. I'll be investigating different stones and their religious/superstitious/symbolic meanings, watch this space...

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Design Studies Assignment 2

"Denotation is what is photographed, connotation is how it is photographed." Fiske

For this assignment we were asked to show 4 chosen images to a selection of people and ask them to write a short description of what they think is going on. These are the images me and my group chose:

We were not allowed to ask any design students to help us with the stories so I asked a few friends and family members to help, and here is a few examples of what they came up with.

Neuroscience Student -

It was a dull monday morning, you know the kind. The sun was soo dull and covered by clouds that it looked like the moon. It was the kind of morning where I wished my house had windows, but it only had iron poles framing it. As I left my stone house to walk my dog, John, I thought to myself, "I really wish I had weeded the garden before those branches started growing all over the side of my house and into my glassless windows." John didn't mind though, he dragged me into the forest by his lead and then lay down, not moving an inch. I could not figure out what was wrong with him, it was very out of character. But then I heard a very loud snort and a scream. I turned around sharply. To my astonishment a man had just been thrown off a bull in the middle of the forest. This was not your average Monday morning.

Mechanic Student -

As if my day could get any worse, my dog Stuart, had cut his paw while poking about in a strange, abandoned building. As he lay down in the leaves of the thick forest feeling sorry for himself, I began to feel anxious. The clouds gathered over the sun, casting great shadows over the windowless building, and as my body shivered in the February chill, the sky cracked open into a storm, and I didn't even have an umbrella.

Maths Teacher -

A dog is lying down in a forest, looking up at a full moon, thinking about a bull fight his master was watching on the TV that day.

Music Student -

Here Comes The Sun
At first glance this picture has a slightly dark and almost scary atmosphere to it. However after thinking about it further and incorporating the title given to the picture it makes you think about the peaceful hours of the early morning when the moon starts to submit and the sun begins to rise. It makes you think about what they day will bring and the optimism of new things to come.

When I saw this picture my immediate reaction was to think of someone (the photographer) spying on whoever or whatever was dwelling in the house. I feel that this picture has a subtle darkness to it as the house is overgrown with plants and the window is very small, it makes me think that if there is anything living in the house it is perhaps trapped.

Murphy My Dog
I feel that this picture captures the essence of "Mans Best Friend" as the dog is sitting willingly for the photograph and also looking into the camera. This shows that he must be loyal and trust the owner to listen and pose for the photo.

Bull Riding
This picture has caught the horror of bull Riding as it clearly shows the man being tossed around by the bull. As you can see this in great detail i think this photo depicts the pain that this man must be feeling quite well. Seeing the facial expressions of both gentlemen looking alarmed makes you ask the question Why Do They Do It?

Vet -

My spaniel was lying down in the forest, when for the first time, I noticed his age. His arthritis had become so bad, he could no longer run the length of his favourite walk through the forest without taking a rest. So I sat down next to him and we both looked up at the sky, the blue skies had disappeared and now the sun was hiding behind clouds. We must have been there for hours, because when we both woke up, the moon was full. I had dreamt about a building I used to play in with my sisters when I was little, it didn't have any windows, just holes high up in the walls with bars covering them. We would play cops and robbers, pretending to lock each other in the "cells" when we had been bad. My dog had dreamt that he was watching a bull fight in spain. I thought this was a bit strange, because he has never even left the county.

Midwifery Student -

One night, with the moon shining brightly in the sky, I took my dog, Jasper, a walk in the woods. As we trampled through the forest, we came across a huge building with bars across all of the tiny windows. It looked like a prison, but curiosity got the better of Jasper and he ran inside to take a closer look. The building was empty, except for an old newspaper, with a photograph of a man riding a bull on the front page. Jasper was as unimpressed as me, so we turned from the creepy place and ran home in time for tea!

I found with this assignment that a few people were unwilling to participate, most likely feeling uncomfortable thinking they were going to be "psycho-analysed", and this is understandable considering they weren't really into the creative side of things. However those who did take part showed that although each explanation was different, each contained similarities. For example a few pointed out the sun's resemblance to the moon, giving the dog a name and human characteristics and all produced the same explanation for the bull rider photograph. I found it fascinating that my music student friend went into such a thorough analysis of each photograph, the things she picked up on were typical of an arty student, which makes sense as she is a very creative person. The bull picture was the photograph least likely to encourage my little guinea pigs to use their imagination as its so obvious as to what's going on. It was interesting to see some people creating short stories and others simply describing the photographs on a fairly basic level.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Photograph Assignment

Bit delaaaayed...

For our first assignment of semester 2, we were asked to swap photographs from someones youth that we did not know very well. Currently half way through Sam Gosling's text “Snoop”, I found that it helped me a great deal in analysing the photos I was given. His book gives you helpful hints on becoming a top class “snooper”, teaching you how to get to know someone through the possessions they own, their body language, and other everyday things that previously I wouldn't have paid much attention to. The girl I exchanged mine with provided me with a number of interesting pictures of her childhood, often pictures of herself and a boy I have assumed is her brother. She looks cheerful in them, but not in a “smile for the camera” kind of way, a genuine happiness and innocence associated with most people's childhoods. Gosling's book teaches us about how to detect the “Big Five” dimensions of personalities. These include openness, extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness and concientiousness. I'll use his method of analysis to contribute to my own of these photographs.

In the first photograph, The girl is sitting on top of a gate with another person who is standing. The background shows a farm house in the countryside, which may be her house. Both are dressed warmly in jumpers and jackets, and are wearing sensible shoes for the fields. Her hair is very long and blonde and appears to be looked after very well. Both have rosey cheeks, suggesting that they have been running around and have rested at this wooden gate to take a break from playing. She looks about 11 in this picture. The outdoor setting makes me think that she was active as a child, enjoying the outdoors and fresh country air. The second picture is one of her with a middle aged woman who I assume is her Mother. Her mum is in graduation attyr, holding her degree, and the girl is standing next to her smiling mum, gazing off to her right, possibly because someone else is taking a photograph at the same time. I want to ask her what her mum studied at university and where. I think she is probably about 7 or 8 in this photo, and the fact she has chosen this one shows how proud she is of her mum's achievements, and a strong bond between them. So far, it is clear that family life is important to her and I think they are all very close.

The third picture shoes her and a boy, who I've concluded is her brother, sitting on a mechanical bull. They're probably on holiday as both are wearing shorts and displaying sun tanned skin. Both look like they are hysterically laughing, mechanical bulls are good fun after all. She is sitting behind her brother, and this suggests to me that she is the older of the two, and possibly quite protective of her younger brother, showing compassion and loyalty. Family holidays are always some of the happiest memories, and this picture definitely suggests that this is one of her favoured times. In the next photograph, her and her brother are in the back seat of a car in school uniform. The photograph is taken from the front passenger seat and is unformal and lighthearted. Her brother has a big grin on his face, while her smile is quieter. She appears more laid-back than her brother in this picture, again suggesting that she is the older sibling. She is wearing two clasps in her hair, and looks about 10, showing a change in her interest in personal appearance, as with every girl around this age. Both are wearing the same uniform and I've guessed that she is probably in primary 7 here, perhaps her brother in primary 5. her lighthearted expression and hair clasps convey that she is feeling more responsible now that she is a little older, she appears mature and friendly.