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Whilst studying architecture I did some weird things. I dressed up as a clown. I interviewed, photographed and filmed a food vendor in Camden Market. I posed as a waiter trying to serve wine and pasta with an inverted periscope attached to my face. I trespassed through a hospital (actually I did a hell of a lot of trespassing as an architectural student). Carrying chairs into a forest and to the top of a hill. The list goes on. 

One day, in my second year, I found myself down in Hastings, a beach town east of Brighton. I forget why, but I purchased fish guts from a fishermen to encourage the (intimidatingly large) seagulls in the area, then I chased them away. I live on an island and thought I had a good grasp on seagull behaviour and mentality, but the seagulls in Hastings are terrifying. There are hundreds of them everywhere, they are huge, and they eat anything and everything.

seagull image 5I don’t like seagulls. No, I’m not scared of them. I just think they’re great big bastards (I’d also recently watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds which may have had some influence). So whatever the project, or design brief was for our trip to Hastings, I reckon I used the location as a chance for revenge. Seagulls love to swoop down on unsuspecting beach-goers and grab their chips and ice creams, so I thought I’d set a trap involving bread crumbs and fish guts, before chasing them away.

seagulls2I set down seagull treats at one metre intervals from a bench in Hastings. After waiting for enough seagulls to show interest, I would then jump up and chase them away. It was cathartic, even if I did get a lot of strange looks from the locals (and a few cheers from the onlooking fishermen and fishmongers). I had some course mates photograph and film the event, without really knowing what I would do with it.

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I filmed all of this from two angles, one camera on the bench and one from the side. I took freeze frames and drew over stills that I then imported into Photoshop to play around with.

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I ended up turning this sequence of events into a ‘flipbook’, where I first set down the seagull snacks, then waited for the seagulls to arrive before springing up and chasing them away.

I look back at a lot of the weird stuff I did at university and struggle to remember exactly what it was all for at the time. There were always reasons, often loosely connected and stretching. I don’t study architecture now or have any desire to work in the field, and I will always question whether those years were worth it, whether I would make different choices if I could, and what those choices would have been. But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say “it was dull”.

Sometimes on this blog I talk about something a little different, not necessarily relating to something I’ve read or written. Today it’s a video game. Well, I see it more as an interactive piece of art. A little indie title named LIMBO.

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Developed by independent game developer Playdead, LIMBO was initially released in 2010. I remember seeing it and thinking it had a great art direction, but ultimately 2D platformers aren’t really my thing. A few months back I downloaded it, being on sale at a really good price I figured I might get round to checking it out at some point. I’m so glad I did, because LIMBO is one of the most thought-provoking, beautiful little games I’ve ever had the joy of playing.

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I thought I would show a few screenshots I captured on my Xbox One. Straight away you can appreciate its black and white tones and the lighting used, but what you can’t get from simple screens are the grainy animations and minimalist sound design, which all add up to create a wickedly eerie experience.

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And it is an experience. In terms of gameplay it’s wonderfully simple but very clever. It’s a platformer and puzzle game and I’ll hold my hands up, I got stuck plenty of times. I also died plenty of times, as this is a hellish world where almost everything can and will kill you.

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The plot is as wonderfully understated as the aesthetics. A boy wakes in an evil forest and must make his way through in order to find his sister. Along the he encounters aggressive creatures (such as a giant spider which is freaking terrifying, and parasitic maggots which take the movement of the boy out of your control), violent people (?) who lay traps and throw projectiles to keep the boy from escaping alive, and the environment which, with its sheer drops and sharp edges, will hinder your progress at every turn.

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The game has received critical acclaim, and if you own a PC or gaming console and haven’t given LIMBO a try yet, you should. It’s an absolute bargain, a haunting, beautiful game, a disturbing, never-ending dream. Or nightmare.

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A while since I last posted. Apologies, plenty more content on the way over the coming months. And sorry for that title.

For now I want to share a few collages I began working on a while back. They are crude, simple, and took very little time to make. First, some insight to my motivation and inspiration.

Pinterest link to a board containing Surrealist work and art that I really dig.

And another for more general collages. Cool stuff.

Collages can be a great way to throw ideas together and spark your imagination. They formed a key part of many design processes during my time studying architecture and I believe they can work for a variety of mediums, not least writing and literature. Forming thoughts in your head as you write is one thing, but to visualise something that you might normally just scribble down in note form and turn it into a piece of work itself, is something I see a lot of use in.

Even if these pieces are rather basic, they do serve a purpose. I have thought about the key themes from my story/work-in-progress and combined several throughout these collages. There are surreal aspects to all of them.

verdant

loss of innocence / identity / isolation / kudzu / wilderness

space work in progress

age / vertical city / skyscrapers / knowledge / looking back

sky lights

reaching upwards / vertical city / the stars / overpopulation / technology / science

work in progress b&w

child / loss of innocence / violence / isolation