Exhibition Way-finding

In my exhibition, patrons will need a simple and clear system of signage that helps them navigate the exhibition and see it in a manner and order that it was intended to be displayed. I need to insure that the system is understandable and in-keeping with the theme of the exhibition. Maintaining a consistent style throughout every aspect of the exhibition will be critical to drawing people into the world I am aiming to create and allow them to be more fully immersed in the work surrounding them.

The first method I researched was simply signage on walls and signs demarcating routes, floor numbers and containing information on what each area contains. This is very simple and effective. The use of colour coding is also very appealing as it fits with my theme of bringing colour to a slightly lifeless and cold environment.

The other method which I found very impactful and playful, was the method of printing or otherwise laying the information out on the floor so you simply follow different paths through the building as you progress. This, again can employ colour coordination, routes of varying colours take you to different areas or floors, each area may focus on a different aspect of the exhibition.

One thing I want to create is an interactive experience. I want to show that the human interaction with our surroundings is what can make them beautiful and intriguing. One concept I have been mulling over is the idea of allowing the visitors to leave their own impression on the exhibition in the way the graffiti artists of Berlin did with the buildings there. Not only allowing them to feel more connected to the exhibition and the subjects it explores, but also leaving the place different to when they found it. I want the exhibition to change and evolve as time progresses so each visitor experiences something new. It may even lead to people returning to see what has changed.

To achieve this I want to incorporate the interactive elements with the structure of the exhibition, notably, the way-finding system. If I was to have large concrete blocks with arrows and lettering engraved into them, they could act as large blank canvasses for people to paint onto. I could have sharpies or spray cans on hand for people to doodle on the concrete as graffiti artists would sign a wall. As time progresses, some drawings would be overlapped or covered by new ones. In time the blocks would become pieces in the exhibition. Works of art in their own right.

https://www.cassart.co.uk/blog/doodle_man.htm

 

This is a link to an artist called Sam Cox, he creates exhibitions which consist of entire rooms where he has doodled on every surface in a constant stream of shapes and colours. I want an effect like this, where every inch of the signage is a canvas for people to express themselves and let their playful side come out.

Doole Man

In Glasgow

Another aspect that I think is important is to tie in the colour scheme which marks out individual sections or floors of the exhibition. When creating my typeface, I used a colour scheme taken directly from one of the buildings that was part of the Berlin Turmkunst (Tower Art Project), the Bierpinsel (Beer Brush).

bierpinsel2

I used swatches taken directly from the Bierpinsel and applied them to my type. It occurs to me that the front of the building is coloured in a pattern of ascending horizontal layers. It would be a neat tie in to use these colours as stages of the exhibition. Starting with the red base and building up through the teal, purple, off-white etc. I will explore these concepts and mock-up designs and write about the outcomes in my next post.

Advertisements

Apply my brand to ephemera

At this late stage of my project I have settled on a final brand identity. It IS the final identity because even if I wanted to, time has run out for that. But luckily I quite like it. In order to present it in a manner that will allow my audience to understand its real world application, I have mocked up a number of pieces of ephemera across numerous media.

The poster and ticket design are the basis on which all these other elements revolve around. I did this in order to create a consistent visual brand. Here are my completed pieces.

Ephemera

I’m happy with the results of this work. I have tried to not simply reprint the same poster image again and again. But to adapt the signage for each piece while maintain the overall theme. I have to say that despite the rocky start I had on this project. The results are far more promising than I had originally anticipated.

I had considered making a mobile app for the exhibition, but given the nature of the subject, anything that I could include in an app would simply act as spoilers for what would be to come in the exhibition. I may create a webpage to simply work as an advert for the exhibition. Explaining a brief overview of the history  behind the topic and including some images and explanations of the exhibition, akin to a teaser trailer for a movie.

My next step will definitely be to establish a way finding system within the exhibition. I want people to be guided around in a unique way that is in-keeping with the theme of the  exhibition itself. I will explore this in my next blog post. I already have some ideas in the works.

Exhibition Animation First Attempt

As my project has evolved I have changed my main focus multiple times, bouncing around different ideas and trying to find a topic that would hit the spot and allow ideas to flow freely. At this point I have landed on the renovation and re-invigoration of Brutalist structures in Berlin. I am exploring the structures themselves, their place in the life of Berlin and the way in which people’s perception of them has changed.

The primary point I am going to explore the ‘Turmkunst’ (Tower Art Project) that began in 2010. Where a number of old buildings, including Brutalist structures were left to the whims of a number of notable Graffiti Artists, to turn into their own canvases and do with as they wished.

The term ‘Brutalist Playground’ which I am using as my title describes both the free reign architects had in rebuilding Berlin in the time immediately after WWII, as well as the open sandbox these buildings then came to represent for contemporary artists.

Here is an example of the Tower Art Project’s impact that I have looked at closely. The ‘Bierpinsel’ (Beer Brush’ was originally part of a railway station finished in 1976. It has recently been repainted (right) and is being converted into a restaurant.

Process

So here is my finished piece. It is by no means what I will present at my final presentation, but I am pleased have done it and to have brushed up on my Adobe Aftereffects skills as basic as they may be.

The idea behind this was to emulate the Graffiti Artists impact on the bare concrete of the Brutalist buildings of Berlin. The human experience and interaction with these structures is what make them valuable to society, so I felt that was an important angle to focus upon.

The concrete was a hassle to create, as my type was originally going to stand proud on a plain background. Each word of my title was created on the same image of concrete, which meant placing on line above the other would leave an obvious seam in the center. I therefore had to work out how to duplicate the image and weld them together in a way that removed any visible seam.

Concrete seamconcrete seamless contrast

This was an obscure but quite simple task, I created a continuous repeating pattern with the image of the concrete, before molding all the seams so that they blended perfectly into one smooth surface.

brutalist playground coloured1036958392..jpg

I then placed the text over this background and traced a path over the lettering, making sure to completely cover every letter. I then set that path to steadily peel back and reveal the lettering as the video progressed, so as to give the impression of it being painted on. I then found a YouTube video with the spray can sound effect (if you missed this, please re-watch the video with sound, it really makes it less mediocre). This was what I was most pleased with. The audio was pretty closely if not perfectly synchronized the moving of the imagery on screen.

My Thoughts

It really is amazing how much research and development it takes to produce even something as simple as a basic 12 second animation. It took several hours, if you include the time I spent watching YouTube tutorials to understand each step of the work. I am no expert at using After Effects. I feel that although this piece is not up to standard for my final presentation, it has set me up well by giving me a base on which to improve.

 

Further Background Research – Brutalist Architecture, East vs West

  • 1961 is the symbolic divide of East and Wast, Communism and Capitalism. This is when the Berlin Wall was erected and the so called ‘Iron Curtain’ descended.

For my project I want to do as much research into the climate and symbolism at the time of the Cold War to give me the best insight possible when I come to design my work. I want to reflect the societies in which Brutalist Architecture gained popularity and the connotations and associations that came with it. For this I will overview the international political landscape of the time.

By 1961 the world was fully divided between the countries of Capitalism and those of Communism. In the, what we would now call Western World (Europe and North America) the divide was great. Here is a map of countries and their alignments.

812px-Europe-blocs-49-89x4.svg

By 1961 the world had effectively split into two camps. Countries of the USSR (Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) which were communist. And the NATO allies (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) which were capitalist. There were also a few countries with little interest in taking sides, like Switzerland.

These two ideologies were set against each other as capitalism espoused the rights to personal freedom and a free market which allowed individuals to make personal market decisions. Where as communism was based on the idea of everyone working for the whole, contributing what they could and taking only what they needed. This meant centralized and strictly controlled society.

As with all conflicts, both sides relied heavily on propaganda, not simply to bolster their own position, but to cause fear and hatred of the other. The ‘red scare’ was a hysteria over the perceived threat posed by Communists in the U.S. and to a lesser extent, the other Western Allies. Much was made of the ruthlessness of communists who were brainwashed animals who would murder for fun and hated God. (there’s a lot to suggest this is a reason why America is still so religious, religion was seen as patriotism during the Cold War and gained huge popularity as it was seen as almost a war of the Godly vs the Godless)

Image result for us post ww2 religiosity

By the same token, the USSR was equally hot on bashing the Western powers, as the strongest and most fervently anti communist nation was the USA, much of their attention was focused there. They focused on the greed and selfishness of the American way of life and boasted that the ‘working man’ would overwhelm the wealthy elite of capitalism. The propaganda bares a striking resemblance to the anti-Jewish rhetoric of Nazi Germany in fact.

I don’t want to make all these claims without providing images of the propaganda I’m talking about so here is what I have collected:

Western Propaganda

 

Communist Propaganda

 

I have highlighted in bold, all the buzzwords that will inform the design decisions i make when producing my ephemera and animations. I want to make a broad statement about the divide in the world at the time of Brutalism and the associations that went with it in both sides of the political landscape.

I also want to use this as an opportunity to show Brutalist Architecture in a positive light. Given all I have learned about the philosophy behind Brutalism, it seems to strike a happy medium between both sides. It is socialist, it is used for Government civic engineering projects and public housing, it is minimalist in its expense and frills. But it is a symbol of transparent authority as well. Although it may seem ugly and oppressive, it is meant to be for everyone to experience and to remove the divide between classes.

Using this research, I will begin to create some designs and see where I get. Although I may have gone slightly overboard in terms of the historical and political landscape in which Brutalism thrived, I tend to find I create far better work if I have a very detailed understanding of the subject and its context.

Constellation : The Meshwork of Objects •1•

Having found out that my topic for Level 5 constellation would be the Meshwork of Objects, today was the first lecture. In the lecture we explored the concepts of things and object and how we interact with the world around us. The work was very philosophical in nature and so explaining the concepts discussed may be slightly beyond me. I feel that my Constellation posts will steadily become more and more detailed as I progress through the course and come to understand in more depth.

The gist of the work we did was in looking at how we project on to the objects around us as we move through the world, as well as the effect they have on us. This was a tough concept to get my head around but we were given a practical demonstration using clay. We were asked to take the clay and form it into the tallest, most slender human figure we could manage.

As we constructed our figures many of us, including me, had a great deal of trouble. Clay, being so malleable, is easy to shape, but also not the best at load bearing, so many of our creations either fell apart of slowly sagged over time. As they did so, we balled the clay again and started fresh. As this continued the clay became dryer, less easy to shape and harder to stick together. It was a challenge that just kept getting more difficult.

Jacqui, our lecturer, explained that this was in order to demonstrate her philosophical question. Because it was evident that we were acting upon the clay, manipulating it, as it was simply an inert object. But what she wanted us to understand that, as we affected the clay, the clay changed and refused to to be worked. The clay changed its properties and stopped many of us from creating what had been asked of us.

From this, I learned that objects may appear inert and unchanging. But as we move through the world and interact with them, our experience of them is what makes them real to us. A car for example, is simply a part of modern life. It is a thing we use to commute. But when a car breaks down, it has affected us, we aren’t going anywhere. And that’s when we truly notice it. In short, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

On Display Brief – Brutalist Architecture

My Chosen Topic

After a significant amount of research I decided to go, simply with what sounded best. Of the five topics available, I chose Brutalist Architecture. My reasoning for this is my immediate fascination with the structures I found, as well as the whole design philosophy behind Brutalist design. The creation of beautifully simple and utilitarian buildings has already been done, others have spent their energy bringing these creations to life. All that’s left for me to do is to highlight them and exhibit them in a unique and memorable way.

Brutalist Architecture Exhibition Ideas

While I have a very solid basis to work from in Brutalist Architecture, I still need to build my own unique take on the subject. I could focus on an area, on a specific designer, on a critic, the first breakthroughs in the design philosophy, or even the last structures built before Brutalisms sudden decline in the mid 1980s.

Idea 1

Explore a particular city or country where Brutalist Architecture left a significant mark and delve into the culture and political landscape that fostered the movement. What are the associations people of the area feel on seeing the grey, gaunt buildings. Are they a symbol of socialist utopia, cheap, simple civic projects for the masses? Or are they seen as a symbol of social divide, segregating the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’?

Idea 2

Use a giant mural of a world map, exploring the concentration of these structure by city or country to explore where the design philosophy was most prevalent (UK, Eastern Block, Western Europe, US, Australia, New Zealand). Explore why some areas of the world chose Brutalism while others did not. What the political and social climate of those places were at the time and what that says about Brutalism as a design philosophy. How does the climate generate Brutalist design and how does the design change the climate?

Idea 3

Possibly also using a world map mural, I could track the structures seen as the most significant in the Brutalist movement. Explore the background of the designers and architects. The praise and criticism the structures received and the way the style as a whole evolved throughout its time in the limelight.

Idea 4

Explore why Brutalist architecture ever gained popularity since it was so contentious a design philosophy throughout its lifetime. Was it necessity since it was cheap and basic in many respects? Was it reactionary? Owing to its complete break with previous styles of the 20th century? Or was it simply that it had never been done and someone thought it would be cool to make something completely different?

Brutalist Architecture – Preliminary Research

Brutalist Architecture as a term was coined by the Swedish architect Hans Asplund to describe Villa Göth in Uppsala, designed in 1949.

The hallmarks of Brutalism are typically building that are massive in character, strong, fortress-like designs primarily made from exposed concrete. ‘Brick Brutalism’ combined this with rugged brickwork. The raw, utilitarian design approach enjoyed popularity from the 1950s falling from favour by 1980. It was seen as a reaction to the frivolity and unnecessary intricacy of early 20th century modernism.

This style of architecture was largely used in Institutional building and Government civic works projects (tower blocks, shopping centers etc). The reason behind this may have been its utilitarian nature making it cheap to produce in quantity for Governments with tight budgets post WWII.

Brutalist architecture usually consists of repeated modular elements forming specific functions. It is a very bare bones approach. Details normally hidden are left on display to purposefully betray the nature of the buildings use. For example the Boston City Hall (1962)

The strikingly different and projected portions of the building indicate the special nature of the rooms behind those walls, such as the mayor’s office or the city council chambers.

despite their fortress-like constructions, Brutalist architecture seeks to leave everything on show and be entirely transparent. Possibly this why the style is commonly associated with a socialist Utopian ideal. No wander then, that Charles, Prince of Wales views many Brutalist structures as ‘piles of concrete’ and expressed the opinion that what rubble the Luftwaffe left behind after bombing much of the UK’s cities was less offensive than what had been built in their place.

Today Brutalism is beginning to see something of a resurgence with many such structures receiving listed status across the UK as sights of national heritage. There’s no doubt that Brustilst architecture is controversial and divides opinion. This in itself is why it is an interesting topic to me. I’m not a fan of overly fancy architecture with unnecessary bells and whistles. I like the minimalism of Brutalism and I think that the philosophy has the propensity to create beautiful works of architecture.

Idea 1

Exploration of the divide caused by Brutalist architecture, possibly down social lines with regards to its use in low cost projects such as public housing and civic works project during times where funding was scarce. Why do some people like it and some hate it? Are there beautiful buildings created in this style that have been beneficial and been loved by those who have lived around, lived or worked in them? Possibly a system which would allow exhibition goers to air their views and vote on certain designs.

Idea 2

Exploring the associations people make when they view Brutalist architecure, how does it make people feel? Was does it make them think of, is it a depressing reminder of times of poverty or a functional design philosophy that allowed society to move forward?

Idea 3

Focus on the work of a select number of Brutalist Architects, explore their views, their creations and display them for people to make their own judgments.