Post Tutorial reflection / A long due catchup

Its been a thumping-headache of a day today, which having been estimated as a 5 on a scale of 1-10 (where 1 is truly dire), came out at a surprising 7.

Perhaps the most important thing to come out of today is the revelation that in order to progress my work as is stands, I’ll have to move into 3D realisation of my ideas. Oh no. The horror of it all. I’m sure this is a great big signpost from the cosmos, but putting my preferences aside I’m convinced this is also the way forward to produce something ambient in advertising or just some striking photographs for 2D reproductions/associated items. But of course, this all hinges on you knowing what I have in mind…

Bags seemed to be the key theme of the BNDay work I had already examined, which was reassuring to the extent that mine too had also zeroed in on them too. It all started with an adhoc sketch of the idea that an empty bag and a full bag are indicative of 2 very different things. Happiness, material greed, wealth, over/consuming, having too much time on your hands / versus / poverty, austerity, a void of somekind or resistance for example. Visually and physically bags can become powerful signs and signifiers in our culture.

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So in playing with this idea and simple image, I attached it to the BNDay phrase ‘Shop less, Live more’ by finding visual equivalents using the bags. (r to l, top to bottom)

First, both bags were devoid of content. Empty and overturned, the first bag demonstrates an lack of acquired goods and leads into its counterpart, by the transformation of this previously redundant shell of an item, into a kite-like creation. Still unfilled, this bag is being used for something innocent and playful. Tethered to the ground only by a rock/brick, it is released from its previous function as a vehicle for consumer behaviour. It reinvents the bag! For a greater, more wholesome purpose…?

Leading on from this, my next step was to bring the shopping back into the analogy. By filling the bag with boxes and packets, it has weighed it to the floor in a conventional appearance we expect. Retrospectively, the statement is at odds with the image- showing a filled shopping bag with the instruction to ‘shop less’ is counter intuitive and confusing. Yet when the second half of the image/phrase combination is revealed, the products have been wilfully tipped out of the bag and a piece is now being used to tether it to the ground, preventing it from escaping. Without its load bringing it down, the bag is once again no longer part of the consumer visual library as we know it.

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But what about replacing the items in the bag with something more reflective of my ‘light /innocence’ theme? To create the same ‘physical’ effect I chose balloons as a innocence evoking, playful and gentle method to make my bags rise up to freedom.

[It is important to stress now that I have decided that this design, like the practices suggested and endorsed by the BNDay website and literature, is aiming to be non-agressive and to forcing people into making this choice. It is a personal choice and having looked at some approaches for advertising material, there is a militant/violence to the ideas that I do not feel is at all encouraging. There is little point getting aggressive or forcing people to listen because surely its better to show them the benefits of the change?]

Maybe the first bag should be full of ‘bad’ coloured balloons? A bag that would be heavy to lift and very full of deflated balloons, would take the role of ‘Shop less’- hopefully the un-inflated balloons would not look quite as appealing as they could do. A bit boring. That is compared with the bag held aloft by a bunch of green balloons! Much more fun looking, no?

Right. Still with me? Excellent, we’re nearly up to speed, promise.

As you might have seen in the images before, these (naturally!) suggested themselves as installed items in an empty shopping unit, since this was still the site I had in mind. This was the case until I realised that just because I started with the notion to use shop spaces, it didn’t mean I still had to. This was a pretty ridiculous shock to me. I’d started out with an idea of filling the windows of spaces and here I am making paper just about fly through the air with hypothetical, mathematically calculated amounts of helium. I’ve been rather attached to several of the ideas I’ve had during this project, but I’ve moved on from them when they were no longer working. As much as it feels like a real leap into completely new waters from where I ideologically started, I’m going to move this work into the street.

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Ambient street advertising for Buy Nothing Day.

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