Constellation: Representation

For the past two Monday’s, I have attended Cath Davies’ lectures on representation in design and I have thoroughly enjoyed both. The process of analysing the work of others to disassemble their creative ideas and understand their choices is an activity which I always enjoyed across my A level subjects of Spanish, English Literature and Art and Design. I love studying the initial reaction of an audience in relation to a piece, and then the assembly of the piece itself in order to comprehend the decisions of the designer for their final piece over other compositions which were discarded through the creative process. In the first week, we looked at the advertisement posters for the film Red Dragon and then at a poster advertising deodorant using the Greek myth of Icarus and his waxen wings. Cath’s technique of first describing what is visible, followed by addressing connotations and tactical usage and then finding theoretical perspectives helped me to understand how the composition of the pieces was constructed to achieve the overall effect on the audience.

Deodorant advertRed Dragon analysis

In the second week, we studied two James Bond film posters. We analysed the difference between the two, in particular the different approaches to the representation of women. Our discussions revealed an extreme differentiation in the use of women in the media: used purely as sexual objects in the era of the first (1962), and as characters with more strength and power in the second (1984). We addressed the context of the film posters and the placement of important events in relation to the films, for example, the feminist movement which took place in the years before the 1984 James Bond film. In this lecture, Cath gave examples of quotes that she had found which gave more meaning to the decisions of the designer than before. Some of these quotes for the 1962 film included Mackinnon’s view that “violence” is “a natural, practically genetic component of masculinity”. Another, Strinati’s observation that “men are usually shown as dominant, aggressive and authoritative. Women…subordinate…confined to their sexuality.” A quote giving opinion on the racial and sexual context of the film is the way in which Sarah Street believed that the presentation of Grace Jones “bordered on the racist”.

James Bond 1984James Bond 1962

These lectures gave me further understanding of the analytical approach that I should use when looking at the work of other designers and artists. It also taught me the way in which other people should be able to understand my work, and therefore the thought processes that must occur before the assembly of a final piece.

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