Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Our inhuman void

So... we got our exam project on Monday. I mean, WHAT?! This is it, my big moment to prove myself... to be honest, I feel like I'm only just getting into the swing of this whole university malarkey... I could do with another couple of years to get really awesome.

But unfortunately, I don't have another couple of years.

The project is due in on March 26th, my birthday. Yay?

We were given several options to choose from. Firstly, a series of anniversaries... the 50th anniversary of the invention of Bubble wrap, the 350th anniversary of the Royal Academy, the 25th anniversary of the discovery of the hole in the ozone layer... plus others.
The second set of options were quotations, on which to base our own brief. I've chosen one of these. This one:

'Soon, silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation... Tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a grey vegetation.' - Jean Arp

I think this is an incredible quote. Unsurprisingly enough, lots of other people have chosen it too.

So what are my ideas? Well, I'm interested in that idea that there is no longer any true silence. Well, there is, but it's difficult to find. In urban society we are either subjected to noises created by man-made machines (traffic, construction works, other people's stereos etc), or we are blocking out those noises with selected noises of our own (radio, mp3, TV etc).

I haven't quite decided yet whether I think this is a bad thing or not. My deep down instincts tell me that it's not natural - not right for us to live in this state of perpetual sound... But on a day to day level, I dislike absolute silence.
I am unsettled when I return to my old home (we live in a house in a quiet, rural area)... at night, it's just TOO quiet. And I realise now that even as a child, when I'd never known anything else, I still found the silence of being home alone very unsettling. More unsettling even, than the dark.

I think maybe my mum did too, my whole childhood, we would always have the radio on, from first thing in the morning till last thing at night, just quietly much of the time, just background noise, but always there. And I've inherited this, it's extremely rare that I sit in complete silence, with no radio or music. I've always put it down to a passion for music, but I wonder whether it's also an element of disliking complete silence.

Anyway, that's a personal ramble, but it's left me undecided about this project... do I want to use it to encourage people to seek out silence, to try and escape from the clamour of urban life, perhaps with some noise cancelling ear muffs, or white noise... Or, do I want to go with my own personal feelings, and celebrate this 'urban hum', glorify man's industrial creations?

How do you feel about this idea of 'silence'... do you regularly seek out silence, or do you enjoy immersing yourself in the cacophony of day to day life in the city? I'd really value your opinions...

Either way, I already have a very strong visual idea of the imagery I want to use, I just don't yet know how I'm going to twist it, which argument I'm going to take.
The Jean Arp quote would have been taken from, at a guess, some time between the 1920's and the 1940's. So his 'machines' would not have been our iPods and fast cars, but machinery from the industrial age... I don't want to use the words 'steam punk'. I don't want it to look steam punk. But there's undeniably going to be an element of that.

Anyway, as always, my beloved library has done me proud.

(I mean, what IS that? I read all the surrounding pages and still don't know. But it's awesome. That couple at the bottom look well smug.)

I don't know about the rest of you.... but I LOVE a good diagram. And I have some super-sexy ideas for working with these images.

Woah woah wait... did I just say 'sexy', about some line diagrams of a vauxhall engine? I think I did. Oh dear.

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