After the Bodysuit project finished, I was really looking forward to doing some traditional narrative illustration. What came next however wasn’t this at all and it would also involve groupwork. Remembering how frustrating and slow groupwork had been the last time at college I wasn’t looking forward to it much a second time round, but the brief itself I found exciting at first. We were to create our own societies in our groups and then create manifestos for them. To start off with I did the research recomended on the brief and listned to Melvyn Bragg’s podcast on the Social contract, I made notes, got quite interested and got some books out of my local library.
However on getting together with my group, I found that they were not really interested as I was it seemed in the ways that people co-operated together, agreed on systems and made societies or how it happened historically. They seemed more interested in the society we could make as a group which would obviously be a much more smaller collective and how we would function. So I abandoned my quite technical research on Societies. In the group, the idea of making a parasytical society was agreed on first, in which we would spy on the other groups and subtly copy and adjust their own ideas. I quite liked this idea and we all agreed to casually ask our freinds in the other groups what their society would be. We made quite a detailed plan of who would ask who and agreed to gather as much information as we could to bring to our next meeting.
Unfortunately word soon spread across the course that there was a parasytical group and most people we asked became quite secretive. On our next group meeting we decided to abandon this idea, we still liked the idea of a parasitical society however and simply thought we’d be able to be adjust on who we were parasites. We didn’t think a parasitical society was wholly negative either, we discussed how in nature parasites could be benefecial to the creature whose resources they shared too, for example if they consumed their germs. We considered being parasites on the whole of society and ideas of recycling rubbish came up. We thought we could collect other people’s rubbish/raiding skips that they didn’t need anymore anyway and then making something from what we found into something that could be beneficial to Society again. However through consecutive meetings this idea too was soon discarded and much to my annoyance most of the rest of the group began thinking too abstarctly. In the end it was decided we would get other people draw their ideal worlds for us, and then reworking it into a sort of puzzle that people could put together themselves again into their own “chosen” society. We were all assigned different “components” of society or rather the world to get people to draw. The Categories were People, Flora and Fauna, Landscapes, Infrastructure, Food/Resources and Technology, natural and man-made combined. I was assigned Landscapes which I was quite happy with as I enjoy drawing landscapes usually but this felt lazy somehow asking other people to do the work for us even if the concept was interesting. Also I wasn’t very happy with the simple and what felt to me as a childlake analysis of society that we had made, the evolution of living organisms, people and then societies is much more intricate and complex and we had condensed it all rather slavishly into one bubble of understanding. It was a “society” completely not based in reality, a fact I used in my Film that we would then have to go on to make about our societies in which I showed our society’s ultimate destruction. I made the film as an animation and in it reffered to the our group members as Gods who out of lazyness give their people the task of redesigning the world, I did this because we were basically asking people to draw parts of the existing world in a way that was ideal for them, not their ideal society. But I guess other group members who were doing people or infrastructure got to dwell more on the the societal elements of the world we were creating. Either way it was still too abstract and undefined, even our tutor saw that we were creating more of a game then a society but didn’t push us too far on the point because he knew how long it took us to agree on this.
During the Easter Holidays I got about 15 people or so to make drawings of landscapes for me (free of any evidence of people or animals as other group members were doing this- this was a rule that some people simply ignored) but most of my time I spent on creating a children’s book for the Macmillan book prize and writing my own book.
When we got back to college I got to enjoy the Society project again, because now we would be doing some work on the drawings ourselves, to neaten them up and make them presentable as part of the game which we finally decided would be as a collection of cards with slots in that could be constructed anyway the player/society maker wanted it. They were based on the Eden house of cards. As my images had quite a lot of different information on, my group members suggested I seperate the different elements in them for different images so the society maker would have more of a choice to what kind of backdrop he had to his society. At first I was confused but then started to quite enjoy cutting apart the photocopied versions of my landscapes and putting together certain type of trees seperately or seperating clouds and sun from thelandscape or putting all the water together. At last it felt like I was doing some actual work! Then manipulating these new juxtapositions in Photoshop was even more enjoyable and seeing them blossom into actually really pleasing images that I would never have made without the prompt of this project. I believe my Photoshop skills improved with this project also!
Tom (a group member) then made a template for our cards on Illustrator and I cut up my images again to fit in seperate pieces onto the cards so the society maker could have more fun putting them together and choose to put two or three different landscapes together. None of the rest of the group cut up their images as far and I think this is a great dissapointment and takes away the choice that they were so obsessed with in the beggining from the person that will then go on to make their “society” from our images.
The difficult part from then was finishing everything on time, printing, cutting up and spray mounting the cards and scalping in their slots- which took the longest. And I ended up yet again rushing to finish as I’d underestimated the time and also had to wait for procrastinated group decisions on everything. The cards were our visual manifesto and there were over 32 so I guess we did good in that we went over the minimum and pulled ourselves more or less together as a group towards the end. But I still think the idea could have been thought through further. I also then enjoyed going on to make the animation about our society, the first image above is a frame from the anmation.
This is one frame from my Animation and it shows the cards building up only to fall down in the end.