The main idea that has driven the significant body of my idea development is the concept of "Death of the Author" theorized by Roland Barthes. The concept of not knowing who the true "author" of a piece of text or design really captivated me. Its ambiguous nature fueled my desire to draw my own conclusion on the already captivating theory and concept.
I began by making a mind map of ideas of things with in my studies that interested me and I thought could be the base of my project. I found interesting links with in Roland Barthes theories of death of the author and birth of the reader. I liked how the concepts question who an author is and what the role of a reader in connection to an author. I soon began to develop my own understanding of his theories. I understood the relationship between author and audience to be more a of collaborative one. An author is creator of a piece of interpretive text or design fueled by historical views, thoughts and cultures. Similar to that of an author, a reader can interpret a piece of authorship. I felt an author can exist devoid of a reader and vice versa. On the other hand a I feel a reader is an author. We author our lives through thought and expression. We always have and always will therefore how can an author die and a reader be born when each concept is constant?
With this said I became interested in what author people perceived an author to be and its relationship with their audience. I created an experimental short film asking people what an author was to them. I was inspired video projects that was designed to provoke thought. I like the style and tried to emulate it with in my experiment. (inspired examples below)
Although I liked the concept behind this idea as it showed different views people have regarding what they believe an author to be, I felt it lacked validity and I wanted to communicate the notion of 'who is an author' clearer and in a more visual way and push the boundary what what we perceive an author to be. (inspired experiment below)
I was then inspired by a piece of work by Aaron Koblin, 'The Sheep Market'. It explores the shift in relationship between author and audience. Kolbin invited people to draw the image of a sheep facing to the left. People from all around the world and with access to the internet could participate and did so on a free web-based platform. Once an audience member had drawn their image of a sheep it would become part of a larger amalgamation of other sheep people had drawn, thus creating his piece; The Sheep Market. It’s this mass audience participation linked with authors intent in which I felt the boundary of authorship is diluted. In Koblin’s case it was his need for the masses to create the work, therefore how can Kolbin be the “author” of the finished product? Surely in this sense the thousands that took part should be the “author”? On the other hand, without Kolbin’s actions and creative intent there would be no outcome thus generating a more collaborative approach to design between the ‘author’ and ‘audience’. The act of interpretation sparked an idea that allowed me to demonstrate the different views and opinions had on pieces of authorship.
‘Trash Type’ the work of a student by Rob Banham from Reading university similarly demonstrates this concept of author and audience collaboration well. He walked around the local housing area of his university photographing resident’s wheelie bins, but more significantly the numbers people had painted onto them to inform what bin belonged to what house number. He collected all his images and displayed them as a final photographic piece intended to show the graphically interesting and diverse ways people labelled their bins. For me this is an excellent example of the relationship between designer and the audience. Who is the designer or author of this piece; Banham or the people who labelled the bins? For me, both parties are. The designer’s intent set out to collate the work and ideas yet without the audience unintentionally creating the body of the work could not have ‘collaborated’ to mesh the final outcome. Thus cementing author and audience collaborative relationship.
If I were to illustrate peoples spoken views on a piece of work who would be the author? The person who spoke the interpretation or me the communicator of the idea behind it?
I then went onto review my ideas and think how I could display peoples thoughts when viewing a piece of authorship. I wanted the idea to communicate clearly that peoples views on pieces of authorship would be different and do so in a simple yet graphic way. My immediate thought was galleries. Places where people are opening reviewing and viewing other peoples pieces of work. A place where I could record and document these thoughts a interpretations for later development.
Here I have displayed a contact sheet of the photos I took while at the TATE BRITAIN. While a the gallery I wanted to concentrate on people exhibiting pieces of artwork either in groups or by themselves for potential experimental use throughout my project. As I walked around the gallery I took not of peoples conversations and interpretations on pieces of work with the intention of incorporating them into my final designs and experiments.
Here are some notes of conversations I heard while walking around the Tate Britain. It was nice hear what different views people had on pieces of artwork. I collected the quotes with the intention of experimenting with combing them into my designs.
I then went onto interview some members of the public asking them their views and interpretations on pieces of artwork and therefore authorship. I created a short video below illustrating the interviews and the pieces of artwork they were commenting on.
I also made a visit to the Victoria and Albert museum where again I took pictures of people viewing pieces of art. The V&A was however extremely busy and more family orientated then the Tate Britain so was loud thus making it hard to hear and record peoples conservations and views on pieces of work and authorship. However, while at the V&A I began to wonder how I could use the images I collated with in my work. I wanted to concentrate on the images of people exhibiting pieces of artwork and some how incorporate them with quotes and conversations regarding the piece they were viewing. I felt this combination of image and text resembled a documentation, reportage style. With this said I began to research collated some examples of reportage work. A designer called Olivier Kugler really caught my eye and captured this style of image and text montage perfectly.This style of work inspired me to experiment with manipulating my images and begin to include my quotes of interpretations I gathered during my project.
Here I have experimented with manipulating one of my images in an illustrative reportage style like that of Olivier Kugler. I combined the audience members interpretations in the piece and more significantly on the artwork being reviewed so to emulate an author and reader collaborative relationship. As well as this I feel by having the quotes on the artwork itself it enhances my concept of readers being the "authors" of their own interpretations. Overall I feel this style of combining image and interpretive quotations creates a visual bridge between a piece of authorship and reader or audience interpretation. However I feel a less sketchy style would communicate in a more graphic way.
Here I have experimented with manipulating my images. I liked the graphic bold style it has created thus decided to carry this style forward for the rest of my final outcome developments. The process in which I created the experiment was enjoyable and gave me a flexible artistic license. I carefully selected areas of the imaged that I wanted to change colour then rearranged them on a separate document.
I then went onto include the interpretations and quotes of the members of the public with the corresponding piece of authorship. For example, this experiment included an artwork by William Powell Firth, 'The Derby Day'. I layered the quote over the experiment in an order of hierarchy. If a word had more significance to me in the interpretation the larger it would be displayed. Overall I liked this style as it illustrated the audiences feelings more clearly. I also experimented with different tones and exposing the artwork however I felt the simplicity communicated better with this style.
Here I have displayed further developments of a possible final outcome. I chose to stick with ordering the words of the quotes in order of hierarchy as I felt not only was it aesthetically and pleasing, the composition worked well and the clean lines of the typography broke up less formed shapes of the surrounding images.
I was inspired by this pieces of typographic design above. Should I too include my typography at different angels?...
With in my final outcomes I wanted to express and communicate the blurred boundary between the notion “author” and “reader”. In each of my six outcomes a piece of artwork or “authorship” is being viewed and interpreted by a member of public; the “reader”. However, By including the audience members interpretation as part of the final composition I feel it emphasises their view and shows they are authoring their own views.
I wanted the pieces to appear uniform thus to create consistency and flow between each piece. I chose the arrange the typographic quotes in order of hierarchy so to communicate the significance of each work being spoken.
In summary my final outcomes display the relationship between author and reader or audience and how the meaning of the terms are much the same. An “author” expresses themselves through interpretation as does a “reader”. We all think. We all interpret. We all express ourselves either out loud or in our heads. We are all “authors” while simultaneously we are all “readers”. I therefore celebrate the continued growth of the “author” but instead let the term be known as an “artist” where an individual can express and interpret themselves freely. An “author” cannot die out, nor can a “reader” be born in the theory posed by Barthes because humans will always freely interpret, whether it be a historical view or of the present. (extract from my essay regarding birth of the reader and death of the author)