Sunday, March 19, 2006

RESEARCH : Stencil graffiti

As mentioned in the previous post, I have a bit of a liking for graffiti. My favoured style has grown from massively complex throw ups to the seemingly simpler, yet equally as complicated, stencils.

Stencil graffiti is the one form which I see has having most in common with my particular concept. Stencilling a design allows it to be easily replicated and displayed elsewhere. In this light I can see why this method has been accepted by numerous advertising agencies as a cheap and very effective way of spreading information such as website URLs.

This stencil, for the MYLO album Destroy Rock & Roll was spray painted across various towns and cities across the UK. The style has since been replicated, usually to comic effect.

One thing that really appeals to me about stencilling is that it allows the use of a computer to degrade the quality of photographic images, making them stencil-friendly. Although many stencil artisits may see this as cheating - I think that it opens the style up to a larger range of potential artists. It also means that it is easy to include iconic images into designs, allowing them to be subverted to reveal the artists stance.

RESEARCH : Graffiti

I have personally been a fan of graffiti since I first seen some alongside a railway track one day. The starck contrast to utilitarian walls, fences and equipment shed with the vivid colours and intricate, interlocking shapes.

Whilst at school I came across the book Subway Art. This book catalogues the works of some of the graffiti scenes founding artists. I was also accused of stealing the book in sixth form as my art teachers knew just how fond of graffiti I was.

I made attempts to create my own pieces but never really came anywhere close to those created by the likes of Dondi & Seen.

As I have matured in both age and tastes I have become aware of another element of graffiti, the concpets behind pieces. Despite being illegal graffiti offers everyone of us a voice. This voice, when painted on our streets, can be heard by everyone who passes it. Most pieces, be they fantastically intricate or simple text, convey a message, personal to the artist.

With some of my experiments, I aim to turn this idea on itself and use graffiti-like methods to fill the streets with things I have overheard. When read, these conversation strings will perhaps not make sence but they will be read. This idea of allowing others to overhear what I have overheard is born from the use of graffiti to broadcast a message to a large audience.

RESEARCH : The Ronin

My first recollection of seeing The Ronins work was at a ShortCircuits screening in November last year. But on visiting his site I realsied that I had actually seen quite a few of his works in various magazines and on other websites.

His motion graphics never fail to amaze me. A majority of his pieces contain a subtle use of 3d to amazing effect. When combined with the ambient and slightly disturbing audio supplied by DOSC his works take on a kind of artificiall intelligence, complete with glitching and interference - check out his show reel to see what I mean!

Black Day to Freedom was the piece I seen at ShortCircuits. This piece created as a trailer for the first issue of Beyond™ magazine, a publication of which Rob Chiu [TheRonin] is a cofounder along with Professor Glen Hardaker.

"Beyond™ addresses social issues via illustration, design and motion thus raising the awareness of the subject via a unique informal learning route."

Rob has also created animations for the University of Huddersfield's Learning + Teaching Innovation Unit.

RESEARCH : Graphic Havoc - GH avisualagency

I came across Graphic Havoc through their book, GH avisualagency.

I found their work to be really appealing as it combines a number of styles that I find very visually appealing [mainly graffiti, typography, stenciling and mixed media].

The agency started as a collective of 5 graffiti artists, and like minded beings, Sadek Bazaraa, Randall J. Lane, Derek Lerner, David Merten & Peter Rentz.

Each of the members of the agency carried out various personal project [record labels, bands etc.] which where kept seperate from the design agency - but which also provided some clients too. The group seems to have been largely into the various skateboard/graffiti/music scenes in Atlanta in the early 90's. These are the influences which led them to there current positions. None of them have received specific Graphic Design tuition, meaning that they are self-taught.

By not under-going design training each of the GH members believes that they more interested in the works they undertake as the find them more engaging. They believe that a constant sense of self doubt is a good trait to have, it means that they never believe that they know it all.

Although there is no specific style associated with GH, there is a certain presence created by their works.


RESEARCH : 123 Klan

As I have altered and expanded my concept, I though I had better expand my reasearch to show some of the influences I have absorbed when considering my new experiments.

The first of these is the French Graffiti/ Design outfit 123 Klan.

They group started out purely as graffiti artists and then moved into grpahic design after falling in love with the works of Neville Brody. Their style combines street-art styles with computer based vector design.

I personally love their style. As someone who has always been a fan of graffiti, I see 123klan as bringing graffiti to a new, digital audience. They have featured in many publicaitons and gallery events across the globe. The latest issue of Computer Arts Projects features a series of tutorials in various different digital graffiti styles, but the overall layout design is by 123klan.

The website states that there are certain things that 123klan do, and certain things that they don't:

"WHAT WE DO: We paint your walls, we do graffiti, we stick your city, we do posters, flyers, logos,illustrations, character design, covers, vector graffiti pieces, we do what we want when we want, we only work for cool people, we do exhibition, we do graffiti, we do gundams models, we do conference, we do live graffiti performance, we do teeshirts, we do stickers, we do skateboards graffix, we do only real shit, we do graffiti, graphic design and we will work for you only if you love us, PEACE!!!"

"WHAT WE DON'T: We don't do pitches, we don't do graffix for 2 peanuts, we don't lose our time, we don't bite, we don't do fake graffiti, we don't charge that much (well it depends...), we don't do websites, we don't do DR style, we don't play, we don't sell our asses to get a client, we don't work for free, we don't sell drugs, guns, swords, we don't like fake graffiti, we don't like to work in a hurry or in the last minute, we don't want to hurt you, PEACE!!!"

If ony all of us students could get away with those kind of ethos!

NOTICE : The Re-awakening

Well this project has fallen dormant in comparison to some of my other projects.

Since my last series of posts I have developed my initial ideas further and have re-thought what I wish to try and show through my concept.

My previous ideas included a rear window-esque look fomr the window of my flat, which overlooks the living rooms of 12 other flats. My other initial idea being to create a stalker-like photographic essay showing the various voyeuristic ways that we may see people through the course of a single day - yet this would all be of just one person.

Anyway, since then I decided that I would look at audio voyeurism. Overheard Conversations.

My ideas have been various but have all relied upon the use of recorded audio, capturing the overheard conversation. The difficulties that have arisen from this have been numerous. My main problem however has been actually capturing conversations. I know that when I am sitting in the location where I am recording, I can distinguish between the general background noise and a conversation - this has been nigh on impossible when using a range of microphones and recording devices.

Since I have managed to record some audio, and since the project is all about visual design I decided to create a series of experiments that each exploered a different method of displaying the overheard conversations.

I re-read an old issue of Computer Arts Projects titled '100 Rules of Graphic Design' and although lots of points where useful, one alone stood out to me. The point was made by Simon Yuen, one of the directors at GR/DD. His point is as follows:

"Develop a good theoretical angle on your project to give you leverage when it comes to the design stage"

Bearing this in mind I tried to come up with an underlying concept for my experiements.

I decided that I wanted to allow other people to 'overhear' the conversational snippets that I had overheard myself. I have began to think of these overheard audioclips as a product almost. I am aiming to attempt to brand the range of experiements as a collective whole. By doing this I think that I will be able to create one overall style/brand to maintain throughout each experiment, whilst still being free to explore a wider range of visualisation tools.

Previous Concepts in PDF format [left click to view, right click to download]:

Idea 1

Idea 2

Idea 3

IDEA 2 : CCTV/ Window Watcher

This is the second idea that I have attempted to visualise. I plan to create an interactive view from my bedroom window.

Initially the viewer will be presented with the block of flats opposite my room. Those rooms with lights on will be regarded as active rooms.

An invisible button will be present over the active rooms allowing users to interact with it with the mouse.

By selecting an active room, the contents of the room will be enlarged to allow the user to see inside the room.

I have also considered making this a video based piece. In which a video clip shall be revealed when an active room is selected. The video would load into one of the quadrants of the screen and remain visible until it had lapsed, it would then disappear again. This would allow for 4 seperate movies to play at once.

I am also considering treating the video footage to make it appear to be similar in quality and style to actual cctv footage.

RESEARCH : Desktop Is

Desktop Is, was/is a collaborative project by Alexei Shulgin and various other net.artists.

The project is created by collecting a number of screenshots of the desktops of those involved. THese are all displayed on the website.

The idea was to show how different people where working remotely even when working on the same project.

desktop is the main element of a human - machine interface
desktop is your window to the digital world
desktop is your first step into virtual reality
desktop is a reflection of your individuality
desktop is your everyday visual environment
desktop is an extension of your organs
desktop is the face of your computer
desktop is your everyday torture and joy
desktop is your own little masterpiece
desktop is your castle
desktop is a seducer
desktop is a reliever
desktop is your enemy
desktop is your friend
desktop is a psychoanalyst
desktop is your little helper
desktop is your link to other people
desktop is a device for meditation
desktop is the membrane that mediates transactions between client and server
desktop is a substitute for so many other things

desktop is a question
desktop is the answer

I have been toying with the concept of seein how different people look at and record the same situation... more on that to follow.

IDEA 1 : Photo Essays

This is the first idea that I have attempted to visualise.

With this piece I basically want to express moments of voyeurism as they could occur throughout an average day. This would be done by taking my camera around with me over the space of a few days. During this time I would aim to capture someone in a moment, be it ordering food at McDonalds or simply waiting and entering a lift.

This is how I initially plan to display each collection of images:

This screen would introduce the series as a whole. Displaying each of the images within the series, although with little detail.

I then expect to display a larger version of each image, which could be viewed as selected or as a slideshow.

I can see the piece being created using Flash in order to allow the images to be shown as a slideshow. I am also interested in animating/ adding motion to the main thumbnail screen of each photo essay.

RESEARCH : Audio Voyeurism

By audio voyeurism I am reffering to the aural form of voyeurism rather than the purely visual forms that I have documented so far.

We all overhear conversations or fragments of them as we go about our daily lives, we cant help it. You walk past some people that are chatting, you hear what they are saying and in an instatn your brain has processed this information into a form that you understand.

Conversation overheard.

This has been one of the avenues of thought that I wished to explore from the very start of this project as I feel that it is a slightly more socially acceptable form of voyeurism [perhaps because it is a more discrete form?]

I searched google for examples of other projects that are intersted in the concpet of audio voyeurism. I came across to such sites, Tube Gossip and Overheard in the UK.

Tube Gossip is a site run by TheManWhoFellAsleep aka Greg Stekelman.

The site contains a selection of conversation snippets, heard on the tube by Stekelman since January 2003. The conversation extracts are not presented in any particular order other than when they where heard. The texts range from intimate conversations and arguements to business calls and general comments.

Overheard in th UK

This site offers similar content to the previous one and it is displayed in a similar manner. The main plus point of this site is however that it allows visitors to add their own overheard conversation snippets. I think that this allows it to have more scope in terms of the sort of things said.

Stekelmans site is only updated by Stekleman himself, and the comments are only ones which he has overheard on the tube. He states that the tube as an enivronment is a strange one; "It puts people in a strange frame of mind. They're all crowded together but they behave as if they're on their own - they say the most bizzare and personal things, stuff you'd never hear on a bus or train journey".

This is something I wish to look at with my experimentation. What types of conversations are heard at different locations? How much does the atmosphere of the location affect the way in which people talk to each other both face-toface and over the phone?

RESEARCH : Rear Window

When doing research into Voyeurism, no project would be concise unless it involved watching Alfred Hitchcocks Rear Window. I recently managed to watch the entire film al the way through and I am amazed by how it has affected me.

The film tells the story of a photographer who is house bound after breaking his leg whilst photographing a motor racing acident. While in his apartment, he spends the days looking out of his window and into those of his neighbours.

As he has watched them for a while, he names each of the 'characters' that he watches and becomes familiar with their daily routines.

The film itself is superbly shot, each frame and camera pan is awesome. The hesitation in the camera pans when looking into one of the neighbours apartments is almost life-like.

What has really gotten to me is the way that JamesfStewarts' character 'LB "Jeff" Jefferies' starts to care about his neighbours. I have an inward facing window in the student accomodation that I live in. This allows me to see into the carpark and into the windows of the surrounding rooms. It is almost exactly like the setup of Rear Window.

I have always kept my curtain open so that I can see whats going on outside rather than being able to glance up from my monitor to see a green curtain. Previously I just enjoyed seeing the movements of others out of the corner of my eye. It was a welcome distraction, reminding me that I wasnt the only one up a stupid hour of the night/morning.

Since watching Rear Window I have started to give names to the people I regularly see. I have even started to care about what is happening with some of them. One group of characters [The beauty queens - as they always seem to be touching up their hair or makeup!] didnt seem to be in for a few days. There lights where always off at night and the curtains didnt move, then when they did they stayed shut for another few days and I was almost releived when the curtains had opened, lights where on and life could be seen.

This is something that I wish to experiment with further within the later stages of this project. I think that we will always build a certain attachment to those who we see everyday, but that we might not realise it until they are no longer there.

Whilst reading Web.Studies during the first year of my degree I came across an internet artist named Ana Voog.

Voog's website features a live webcam feed that is updated every 5 minutes [30 seconds if you subscribe to the site]. Voog describes the site as "a window into my house, into my life ( not my life itself, a PICTURE of my life, please note the difference), my art, how i view things".

She doesn't class the project as being intrusive or voyeuristic as she has invited the viewers into her world. Over the years Voog has changed her perception ofthe project. She no longer feels that it is about her, but it is about the viewers. " what do YOU see here? what do YOU think this site is about? and what does that say about YOU? :) what does it say about your ideas, morals, ethics, boundaries, state of mind...when you feel and think about this site? that is my question to you..." she says of her changing view.

Voog also regards the site as an experiment, an investigation into human behaviour. She speaks with her viewers via email and on her IRC channel and her conversations or interviews with them help her to shape her theories regarding the people who view her site.

Voog does not regard herself as an exhibitionist [but possibly as a nudist] as she doesn't gain pleasure by knowing that people are watching her online. She does however take a certain amount of comfort from the knowledge that she is being watchedn as she sleeps.

This view makes me see the connection between the project and CCTV and what it is used for in our towns and cities.

CCTV-style footage is something that I wish to look into further for me experimental website.

The Peeping Moe website offers a tutorial for starting your own webcam - this site is recommended by Voog.


CCTV units can be found in town centres across the entire UK. They watch our streets 24 hours a day, silently recording everything and nothing. Reducing crime and helping the general public to feel safe in their own community.

In recent times the nations CCTV networks have helped to track criminals across the country allowing them to be detained much quicker than they previously would have been.

CCTV network tracks getaway car: This article from the BBC news site informs us of how CCTV was used to track the car driven by those involved in the shooting of a policewoman in Bradford, West Yorks.

Obviously such incidents could only have been resolved as quickly as they where because of the presence of CCTV networks. But how often do these incidents occur - not very often.

So what do these cameras 'see' for the rest fo the time? Us. You, me and everyone else. This really bothers some people and it opens up the whole Big Brother is watching you debate.

This article, also from the BBC News site details the spread of CCTV across the globe and in the UK in particular.

It also poses the question of wether people would be as comfortable having surveillance in their own private space as they are about having it in public spaces.

This is something I wish to look into further in a future post.

Interesting CCTV facts

RESEARCH : Don't Miss a Sec

For this piece I started to look at voyeurism in art.

Monica Bonvicini's Don't Miss a Sec is an art isntallation located opposite to the Tate in London.

The installation consists of a fully functioning toilet contained within a cubicle made of a two-way mirrors. The occupant can see out of the toilets but the passing public cannot see in. The idea is said to have come from an observation Bonvicini made of people at a an art gallery - none of them wished to leave the room incase they missed an important entrance or comment.

The piece also features a few historical links as well. Firstly, a sterile anda un-attractive prison toilet and sink where used to acknowledge the presence of the Millbank Penitentiary on the same site in the 1800's.

Secondly, the architect of the prison, Jeremy Bentham, had the vision to create a Panopticon [all-seeing] surveillance system.

This consisted of a cylindrical tower from which a guard could see [unseen] into every cell, which would be located around the circumference of the tower.

The theory behind this was that if the prisoners knew they where constantly being watched that they would behave, but also develop the ability to guard themselves and each other when/if they wher to be released.

Bentham never managed to realise his Panopticon but todays CCTV infrastructures have adapted a similar role.

Don't Miss a Sec turns the tables by taking the all-seeing power away from the camera and giving it to the person in the cubicle, whilst letting them remain invisible to the rest of the world.

RESEARCH : Blogs/ PostSecret

Blogs is a new form of voyeurism that has been brought to us by the internet. Some blogs such as Belle De Jour attract thousands of readers, each eager to find out what is hapening in the life of a total stranger.

Many normal people document every little detail of their day-to-day lives for us all to read, and we do!

One blog which stands out amongst the others that I have read is PostSecret. This blog catalogues postcards sent to the author, each containing the secrets of the anonymous sender.

This site toys with both voyeurism and exhibitionism. On one hand the viewers visit the site to see the secrets of others [maybe to see if anyone shares the same secrets as they do?] whilst others activly share their secrets in an exhibitionist manner [albeit anonymously].

The concept really appeals to me I think this is because it allows people to observe but also to contribute content for other people to observe. This is a concept that I may experiment with in my own project.

RESEARCH : Found Magazine

Found Magazine is an online magazine that catalogues found scraps of paper.

The creator, Davy Rothbart, started the site after finding a note on the windshield of his car "one snowy winters night in Chicago a few years back". The note was written to some guy named Mario and looked like this:

The creators of the site love this note as it has a combination of both anger and hopefulness [page me later]. Shopping lists, kids homework, love letters, birthday cards and more are all displayed on the site.

These scraps of paper offer an amazing insight into the lives of those that wrote them. The viewer is given a clear impression of how the writer was feeling at the time of writing.

The creators have published a couple of actual magazines containing a number of the found items and these are for sale on the website. There is also Dirty Found - a magazine containg slightly more smutty found items! This magazine realtes more closely to the definition of voyeurism - it offers a slightly more personal and erotic look into the lives of strangers.


To begin my research I have looked into what projects are already on the internet that contain voyeuristic content. Obviously, if I was to look at voyeurism as it is defined I would be shown a vast amount of adult material [porn!].

This I have already decided is not what I want to show from with my final outcome. I wish to show the more acceptable forms of Everyday Voyeurism [hence the name of the blog!] as I feel that this has more scope in terms of the range of visual alnguages that I can explore - where as the seedy definition of voyeurism dictates a different style altogether.

I found my first website via Google.

TreasureMyText is a website which allows its' users to send text messages to mobile phones directly from the website.

The content of these message [if the user agrees] are then archived by the website and are displayed for all to see. This allows site visitors to listen in on one half of a text based conversation - in the same way as one may listen to someone else talking on the phone.

In this kind of situation we only ever hear one side of the story and our minds are forced to either accept it as nonsense or to create a possible other side to the story. I personally usually speak as if the person on the phone is talking to me [which has proven to be very annoying and distracting for the caller!].

Having signed up to this service I am now in the position to Send messages [which contain some advertising for either treasuremytext or one of their affiliates], save messages I have recieved [by forwarding them to a specified number - costing my standard message rate], Create an online address book and I can also re-publish my messages as an RSS feed.

NOTICE : Visual Studies for Interactive Content - Voyeurism

This blog has been setup to act as a digital sketchbook for one of my current university projects.

This term I shall be working on the research and development part of the project. This part is defined by the folowing brief:

Visual language is the 'look and feel' of an item of design - created by such elements as colour, proportion, letterform, shape, texture... it communicates on a level independant of the descriptitve elements - literal or symbolic - of the imagery. It conveys emotional messages to its audiences and they 'feel' something about the client, service or product. It is just one of a range of non-verbal languages with which we are all familiar. We read these languages easily and make judgements based on the messages we pick up through them.

In this module you are required to explore the notion of visual language through a given topic and experiment with a variety of conceptual and visualising techniques. You will use this research to develop the second part of this brief.

By week twelve each student will be required to submit research, evidencing visual understanding of their topic and demonstrate the ability to generate and refine ideas. This could be in Director, Flash or traditional sketchbook format. please note the research is ongoing throughout the module and does not finish with week twelve.

This blog shall contain my initial research to begin with and shall then be expanded upon to contain the first of my ideas and then their required refinement and experimentation.