Circle Line – Film progression

Recently in our groups we have begun to edit together the footage we accrued during our trip on the circle line. We had captured such a large volume of video, stills and audio recordings that the first stage was simply to categorise and trim our work.

We decided that we wanted to focus primarily on a select number of themes in our video compilation. These were:

  • Contrast –  in every respect. We wanted to juxtapose light and dark, smooth and rough, exaggerated, psychedelic colours against monochrome.
  • Abstraction – We aimed to avoid a linear, contrived view of the subject we were capturing. We wanted to achieve this by overlaying one scene on another and having them share the screen. As well as this we wanted to intertwine the contrast of moving images with still, bright and dark.
  • Texture – We made sure to take many closeups of texture, smooth and rough, natural and industrial.



Circle Line – Research

In preparation for editing and refining our footage into a polished video we have been provided with a decent amount of reading material on psycho-geography as well as a number of examples of work by notable figures in related poetry and abstract film making.

One task we must complete in our groups is the creation of a manifesto outlining our intentions and approach when creating our film. What we want to convey, the perspective we want to bring and how we intend to go about the process. Here are some notable examples of past works that I found enlightening.

“Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye
unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the
name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life
through an adventure of perception. How many colors are there in a field of
grass to the crawling baby unaware of ‘Green’? How many rainbows can light
create for the untutored eye? How aware of variations in heat waves can that
eye be? Imagine a world alive with incomprehensible objects and
shimmering with an endless variety of movement and innumerable
gradations of color. Imagine a world before the ‘beginning was the word…”

– Stan BRAKHAGE Metaphors on Vision (1963)

This is a fascinating example of a manifesto for abstract film. As with many disciplines, the artists vain hope is to achieve a perfection which, although they may draw ever nearer to, they can never fully achieve. The manifesto expresses a desire to find that utopia of unbiased and pure vision that would allow an audience to see what is in front of them without making any judgement about it. The act of simply viewing the world from the perspective of  neutral observer.

I have struggled throughout this module in understanding the role of abstract media, I have always liked things to be conventional and to provided a curated experience. But this manifesto really expresses the need for an entirely unformulated look at the world.


“It is difficult for us to understand why joint problem-solving must be the
unique aim of transdisciplinarity. It is certainly one of the aims, but not the
only aim. The human being is – or has to be – in the centre of any civilised
society. Are we allowed to identify Knowledge with Production of Knowledge?
Why the potential transdisciplinarity has to be reduced to produce “better
science’? Why transdisciplinarity has to be reduced to hard science?… In
other words the subject-object interaction is at the very core of
transdisciplinarity and not the object alone. Much confusion arises by not
recognising that there are three types of transdisicplininarity: theoretical,
phenomenological and experimental.”

Basarab NICOLESCU: “Transdisciplinarity as Methodological Framework for Going Beyond

It has become clear that as we undertake this task, we must leave many preconceptions behind. This must include our position in our chosen academic disciplines. A key element of our progression in the project is an understanding that being a Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Fine Artist or Product Designer is no longer relevant to the extend we expect. We have all learnt to specialise and we must put that learning to one side. While we each have skills that the others lack or are less honed. We must think beyond that.

I myself am a Graphic Designer, but for the purposes of this task I cannot let that define me. I cannot simply look at everything from a Graphic Designers eyes. Each of us must forego that norm and learn to be, as far as is possible, a mere observer. In my discipline I have, to a great extent, a methodology and a process by which I take in information and process it to come up with a conclusion or a solution. The same is true of the other disciplines. We must all try to see through one another’s view and leave of preconceptions behind.

Circle Line – Documentary Film Making

Our brief for this latest Field module is to create an abstract documentary style film that’s brings a unique and introspective vision of the Circle Line. 

We want to take an in-depth look at the connections between Cardiff’s industrial wealth and it’s sources, reflecting shifts in understanding of landscape and recreation. We started by drawing a line from Cathay’s Station in Cardiff, up to the far end of the Brecon Mountain Railway.

We recently made the journey by train to Pontyridd and then on to Ton Pentre, collecting footage and meeting the composers on the way. Much of this footage was made using rented equipment. But for illustrative purposes I captured some on my phone.

It was rather difficult to try and think outside the box with this project. In my group’s manifesto, which I will post in a later blogpost, we agreed we wanted to make a concerted effort to focus on texture, contrast and the changing light throughout the day.

One handicap we all felt keenly, was we were primed to capture footage in the way we knew. From TV and other media we all knew well. But our whole task was to create something unique. Thus, a lot of cliché shots were off the table and we found ourselves second guessing our work in order to be certain it wasn’t something that had already been done to death.

Here are some features of Pontyridd that I found worthy of capturing. One of its key historical talking points is that it is the point where the Rhondda river feeds into the River Taff that leads down to Cardiff and on to the sea. As a result it was for many decades, a key hub of industry, with much conveyance of materials and goods made via the rivers.

From Pontyridd, we then moved on up the valley towards Ton Pentre. Our reason for visiting was the disused Bethesda Chapel there.

On our visit we learned a lot about this very old chapel and the plays in the history of the area. Ton Pentre is a tiny village of around 1,000 people and this chapel could have seated every one of them were it still in working order.

As you can see, the building as fallen into disuse and is rather delapidated. However it is being slowly restored.

With the footage and audio recordings captured on this trip, my group is well stocked to create an exceptional piece of work to feature in this year’s Circle Line video. Our section will be just a minute long and we captured hundreds of images and hours of footage to draw from.

We were asked to, in groups. Come up with another nearby reference point from which to draw material and tie into the project. My group has chosen Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon. This seemed ideals it is nearby, connected strongly with the areas industrial past and we all have empties of visiting it in the past.


Circle Line – Psychogeography


“Psychogeography: a beginner’s guide. Unfold a street map… place a glass, rim down, anywhere on the map, and draw round its edge. Pick up the map, go out into the city, and walk the circle, keeping as close as you can to the curve. Record the experience as you go, in whatever medium you favour: film, photograph, manuscript, tape. Catch the textual run-off of the streets: the graffiti, the branded litter, the snatches of conversation… Go out into the city, hungry for signs and portents, and see what happens. Open your mind, let the guiding metaphors of the walk find you.”

– Robert MacFARLANE, reviewing the writing of Iain SINCLAIR
The philosophy behind Psychogeography is fascinating. It reads somewhat like the practice of mindfulness. The notion that we go through much of our lives without truly being conscious of our surrounding and attempting to combat that by making a concerted effort to throw off a routine and mix things up. 

I am certainly guilty of, at times, wandering through life without taking the time of notice things. For example driving, I can perfectly easily arrive at a destination having driven there in a kind of uncocious autopilot. I drove perfectly well, but I didn’t truly experience the journey. 

I am not naturally good at looking at thing son a philosophical, none linear way. That is why I chose to study this module. I want to expand my thought processes to allow me a greater pool of knowledge from which to draw. 

The idea of this brief, I am coming to understand. Is to take the unique experiences you undergo as you travel through the world and convey them as best as possible to a wider audience. Each journey, even along the same path, will be entirely unique. The weather, the sounds, the temperature. Each will have changed subtley from one day to the next. 

This may sound like I am using layman’s terms to understand a very complicated concept, but that is how I am able to invisage the philosophy and so writing about it allows me to reinforce what I have learned. 

I intend on using this time to challenge my preconceived ideas and to review my thought process in rider to widen my perspective and allow me to appreciate ideas I may previously have dismissed. 

Circle Line #1

In our first field lecture with Chris, we were given an insight in to the work of the previous year’s group. They had created an 8minute, abstract documentary style video exploring the visual language of the Circle Line. 

The intention behind this video was to bring a sense of the circle line’s past in an implicit manner through the use of editing, animation, visual effects and musical composition. They used both their own and archival media in the form of footage and audio recordings. 

We were shown this work in order to convey our own brief that would follow in a similar vein. The course seems to have a great deal in common with Psychogeography which was one of our potential topics for our Subject ‘On Display’ brief which I had previously completed. 

In order to demonstrate the concepts we would be employing, Chris took us on a nature walk along the banks of the Taff river and told us to record anything that came to mind. Sights, smells, memory triggers, colour patterns, shapes, textures, anything at all. 

Sasha the Staffodshire Bull Terrier 

Lleuci the Shi Tzu 

The river Taff

I am not naturally good at thinking in entirely abstract ways. I like the media I consume to be quite matter of fact and to be explicit with its meanings. But I am beginning to understand the purpose of all this. We are aiming to appeal to a very base and pure idea of the world around use. Rather than explaining it in a linear manner we attempt to show the individual impact it has on the viewer. 

Brutalist Berlin – West vs East

After discussing the topic with David, my lecturer, he convinced me that my idea of exploring the architectural contrast in Cold War Berlin. In this post I will explore the circumstances and events that lead up to a fractured Berlin and then delve into the architectural innovation and competition that resulted.

What happened to Berlin?

  • After Germany was defeated in May 1945, the city of Berlin was divided in two. With the Eastern sector occupied by the Russian Army and the other by the Western Allies.
  • Tensions between the two sectors escalated as a power struggle between the communist USSR and the capitalist West began competing for dominance with their own ideologies.
  • By 1961 the Berlin Wall was built by the Russians to prevent the crossing of civilians between the sectors.
  • From this point on the Cold War was in full effect. The Berlin Wall would remain as a symbol of an ideological battle until its fall in 1989.

Related image

Why Brutalist Architecture?

  • Brutalist Architecture is a very contentious topic and in inextricable intertwined with a lot of political ideology and associations
  • From what I’ve read thus far, architecture was employed as a means of one-upping the other side by both major powers of the cold war. They would use Berlin to showcase innovations in architectural design.
  • Many people have a negative view of Brutalist structures as dominating, ugly, fortress-like hulks. They see them as oppressive.
  • The dictatorial view of Brutalism is born out in popular culture. With many of its structures used in dystopian film and graphic novels.
Image result for library scene resident evil
Resident Evil Afterlife (2010) –Robarts Library, is the main humanities and social scienceslibrary of the University of Toronto.
Image result for clockwork orange brutalist architecture
Built in the ‘60s and designed by Richard Sheppard, Robson & Partners, the Brunel University Lecture Center was one of two ‘high Brutalist’ structures prominently featured in Stanley Kubrick’s film A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Let Corbusier, the architect responsible for Brutalist Architecture was a staunch socialist, he saw the extravagance of the early 20th century and fought against it, building for function primarily with form being a secondary priority. 

Corbusier worked in both East and West and his ideas and works mark the architextural landscape of both. I want to explore the Brutalist ideal. 

Pet Portraits

This blog is primarily a tool to enable me to record my learning process as I progress through my university course. One aspect of that, for me. Has been to take on design work outside of work parameters in order to improve my skills. 

Over the past months I have been working to build a pet portraiture business in order to help pay my way while I study. Although it does not strictly come udner the rubric of Graphic Design, it has always been a hobby.

Illustration has allowed me to visualise work before attempting to recreate it digitally. I’ve never posted about my portraiture work before. But I feel it is relevant to my practice, so why not? 

I was commissioned to draw a Weimeraner called ‘Blue Bell’ as a Christmas gift for a client. I was given free reign to select my favourite image from a great number. 

Bkue Bell the Weimaraner

This was my favourite image. I like to capture dogs looking composed and relaxed. I also was happy with the lighting, it is natural and comes from one distinct source. 

Stage On

I always work entirely free-hand, I find that although it is never truly faithful tot he image, I manage to capture the likeness of the subject and add my own twist. Who wants a photorealistic portrait agent hey already have the photo? 

Stage Two

Once the basic shape is refined to my liking I begin to add the darkest shadows first. 

Stage Three

I begin building layers of shade and texture into the picture, I do patches alla cross the body instead of completing it section by section to ensure I don’t have disparity in contrast or  shading. 

Stage Four

I continue to add further detail,each breed is different, some longer rhaired dogs require a lot of detailing in the fur as it has irregularities. But Blue Bell is beige and short haired which made things easier. 

Finished Piece

Each portrait takes several hours, start to finish, but I always enjoy the process. I think people interpret so much expression is dogs faces, so capturing that is very important.