So this is how the model for my final box looks. I’m really glad I added the light, because it looks a lot better now. Also the interactiveness is something I wanted right from the beginning. The ice doesn’t look exactly how I wanted it, but I’m still fairly happy.
This box is supposed to be the climax of the narrative, and it’s the first one that shows an outright conflict. The gates of Dis in the last box, is to separate passive transgressions and active transgressions. And I think that the difference between them, is the inclusion of the Superego. If I get time, I want to animate these guys, I think it’d look really cool.
Also, here’s a better picture of my Gluttony box;
I wasn’t very happy with what I’d created for my styx layer. It was ok in composition and colour, and I’d liked the boat and the character, but the background had been way too flat and light, and the stalagmites weren’t brilliant. I’d experimented with using silicon sealant to make them, hoping that they would let light through and look ghostly, but they didn’t. In this one I have instead used papier mache to make the stalagmites bigger and as if they are connected to the ceiling (I believe they are called pillars when a stalagmite and stalactite connect). I think it looks a lot grander. I also papier mached the back, and used acrylic paint instead of water colour to get a more solid layer. I think there’s a lot more depth to this gif, and I much prefer the colours and how the water moves when his rowing stick (?) goes through the hair gel (that’s what the water is made out of). I also am very proud of the way the light reflects off the water. I hope people notice it.
But how does this fit within the story, the rest of the boxes, and the concept of the subconscious? This section of the story is supposed to represent the journey through the brain, the exploration of the subconscious that Freud was so intrigued by. The light at the front at the boat is both the illumination of knowledge, and also the supposed purity of the Super Ego.
I like to think about what Freud would see if he saw this gif. He would probably comment on the phallic imagery of the staff and the pillars. And also perhaps the shapes in the background and placement of the farthest stalactite.
After a talk with Amelia I decided that I should have lights in the boxes with models in. A lot of my work is about the strong contrast of light and shadow, and the models speak best when they are lit dramatically. I had some buttons that were threaded with a nut at the back so that they could screw into a hole, so I drilled some holes in my boxes (really carefully as the models were already glued down!), and wired some LEDs in. The battery packs and light bulbs will be hidden by a frame around the sides of the box, that also serves the purpose of hiding the scenes within, unless you are looking into them.
I wasn’t sure how these boxes were going to turn out, but I’m fairly happy with how they look. I like the fact that they were 3D, then they were 2D, and now they’re almost 3D again.
This one is for the ANGER layer. It’s supposed to represent the gate to Dis, the inner circle of hell, where the active sins are separated from the passive sins. In the poem, the souls fight each other in the swampy water of the river. I’ve instead pictured them reaching out of the mud, as if they’ve been sucked down, to represent the superego reaching for something more moral than the Id (the mud represents the id, as it it base, and dirty and of the earth). The door to the City of Dis is slightly ajar, to carry on the feeling of the viewer travelling through the boxes, and to add intrigue.
This is the box for ENTRANCE, the first box that you see. The camera gave some glare off the paper, it’s not really that shiny. The three animals are the three main components of the id, lust, violence,and hunger; the leopard, lioness, and wolf respectively. I tried to make the leopard look a bit slinky, and less scary than the others. The lioness has scratches as if she’s been fighting, and a claw up and the wolf has a visible ribcage.
Virgil is there beckoning the viewer into the gate, another way of connecting the boxes together.
This is the last week that we have for finishing work. And it’s been such a hassle. It’s been really stressful and I’ve been feeling as if my work is not of good enough quality to display.
I spent a lot of my time trying to figure out laser cutting the boxes so that an iPad would fit in there, and they would still be a good size for the models. I made them with finger joints that I’m quite proud I managed to figure out on Indesign.
These are some pictures of the boxes as they were a few days ago. The black boxes are for the iPads. They have holes in the side for the wires, and I will make some frames to cover up the sides of the iPads. I’m hoping that the colours are going to all work together.
This is the animation I made for the part of the story where Dante and Virgil travel across the River Styx, and into hell.
I’ve tried again to subtly incorporate the shape of neutrons, hopefully along with the water, it looks a bit like he’s travelling through a brain. I didn’t include Dante in this scene, even though he is present in the boat. I wanted the viewer to feel like they were Dante. Dante very much takes on the role of spectator and judge in the poem, and I want the viewer to feel the same.
The lantern is also present because it hopefully it helps to paint the picture of the superego as a kind of moral force, trying to control the less moral urges of the subconscious.
This part of the story is really about delving into a journey.
This gif is to represent the FRAUD level of hell in Dante’s Inferno. I think I might redo it. I do like the set, and how the feet are moving, but I also think that it could be a little better. If I get time to re do it, I would change the lighting, how Bertrand is holding the head, the mud around the feet, and the stance of the body.
The man holding his own head is called Bertran de Born in the poem. Bertran is singled out by Dante as having a punishment that particularly mirrors the sin. He caused a rift between the King and his son, and as that relationship was divided, so now is he. This goes back to the cautionary tales that I looked at in the first and second term, and also speaks of how the subconscious is also split.
Again, feet, hands, and head are key to this image, but also cut off. They seem to be swallowed by the scenery. Submerged, fighting against the id.
I’ve finally gotten started making things to go into the boxes. I’m going to make the gifs first, because I’m worried about them the most time-wise. Here I’ve got the gifs for HERETICS and LUST.
For the HERETICS level of hell, Dante and Virgil come across fiery graves that the heretics emerge from and tell them their stories. When I looked up past depictions of this scene they seemed more like crypts that graves, and I decided to show them how I imagine classic gothic graves. I’ve also just included hands because I wanted to have the feeling of hidden things emerging through all of the images. Also the white hands reaching upwards out of the dirt are meant to symbolise the Superego reaching to overcome the Id. For me, hands, feet, and heads are of the superego, and the body is of the Id, because hands and feet and mind are a kind of symbol of our intelligence and separation from animal, whereas the rest of us holds the heart and stomach and reproductive organs that operate on the level of the subconscious.
You wouldn’t think that the second one would symbolise LUST, but I thought about how I wanted to portray it, and I decided on this. I hate that lust is always represented by a seductive woman all in red, why not a lecherous old man? And I didn’t want to represent the act of lust anyway, I wanted to represent the punishment that would fit it according to Dante. Dante describes for this level of hell, a hurricane of souls, and that is what I’ve tried to show. I think a hurricane of souls well represents the feeling of lust, as consciousness is swept aside for the desire of the Id.
These are the boxes midway through completion. I was only focused on 3, and tried to make them as thought out as possible.
I spent a long time making the boxes themselves, modelling and firing the porcelain feet and hands, figuring out how to do the water (it’s clear silicone) and soldering lights into the scenes.
I did my Viva presentation, and the tutors were less than impressed with the boxes. They said that the models weren’t good enough quality to exhibit on their own, and that them being physically there meant that people would scrutinise the craftsmanship. They also said that I should include animations, because it’s my strongest work.
I definitely get where they’re coming from, but at the same time, it’s going to mean a lot of extra work, and completely starting again, rethinking everything.
I am also unsure at the moment, how to show 9 gifs in a way that reflects the message of the narrative, and also is do-able with the materials and technology I have.
Last year, when I thought about doing my dissertation I was filled with dread. But I think that dread has carried me through to a successfully written piece of work. I’m so glad that I started writing and researching during the summer. I’m also glad that I decided to take Cath’s Glamour and Grotesque lectures, because it really intrigued me, and influenced what I decided to write about.
The book that she showed us that really got me hooked on feminist readings of horror films was Barbra Creed’s The Monstrous Feminine.
I found it really interesting, and although perhaps a little outdated in some respects, really relevant to how films are changing the way they represent women.
As I talked about in my introduction, I think that now is a great time to talk about how women are shown in films. A couple of great examples are the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, and Mad Max: Fury Road. They both have female leads that aren’t sexualised in anyway or fit any kind of trope. The fact that they are female isn’t even raised as an issue. There isn’t even a hint of side boob. To examine the difference in these films compared to past ones, let’s compare the posters.
This shift in cinema is a great opportunity for us to compare and contrast old with new, and to look back retrospectively at what caused the shift, and why women were represented that way to begin with. I’m really glad that I chose to look at this topic, because although I don’t really plan on actively incorporating feminism into my practice, I am interested in the psychoanalysis part. I’ve always been really into it, the whole Freudian analysis thing, and applying it, and other similar theories to horror films, another of my interests, seemed like a natural progression.
I chose to look specifically at mothers because I thought it was a little less obvious than the typical girl in slasher films. There has already been a lot written about that character trope (see specifically Men, Women, and Chainsaws by Carol Clover). I found the topic of mothers and motherhood really interesting, because it’s not really something I’ve thought a lot about before, but in the context of horror and psychoanalysis, motherhood is an excellent topic in my opinion. I was so close to just looking at the monstrous feminine in my dissertation, and I’m so glad I chose this instead. Although there are quite a few resources that have talked about motherhood in horror, it’s a lot more unexplored and fittingly specific.
I started researching in the summer and reading books like Barbra Creed’s The Monstrous Feminine and Phallic Panic, Carol Clover’s Men Women and Chainsaws, and Sarah Arnold’s Melodrama and Motherhood. I think that these were a good starting point, but my research ultimately moved slightly away from what these authors were discussing. To begin, I was mostly interested in the abject and uncanny, and what made things grotesque, but fairly soon into my research, I found that what I was really interested in discussing was more the psychoanalytic theories surrounding those topics. I kind of wish I’d known that I wanted to go in that direction to begin with, because I think then it would have been a little more comprehensive. I also would have been able to figure out what I was doing for my Subject work sooner. I frittered a lot of time away by starting projects that weren’t going anywhere, because I’d not realised what my dissertation was leading to.
I also wish that I’d not written my fourth chapter (Men as Maternal) separately, because it ended up feeling a little disjointed, and out of place. If I’d originally written it into one of the earlier chapters I think it would have felt more relevant and flowing. I think I also should have done all my research before starting to write. I did a bit, and then started writing, doing more research as I went a long. I did quite enjoy this way of working, because it felt like I was getting it done. But in retrospect, it might have been more sensible to do all of the research first.
In each chapter I found that I was automatically explaining the theories I was looking at first, before going on to the case studies I had chosen. For example in the first chapter I explained some of the ideas that have been written about enclosed and haunted spaces in horror films, the archaic womb, and the Buddhist beliefs about sato 里 (the village) and yama 山 (the mountain). I then related these arguments to my example, The Shining, and how they could be seen within it. I then tried to counter the argument, and give another perspective, and talk about my own opinions after reviewing all that has already been said. I tried to follow this kind of structure in the rest of my chapters too, although I’m not entirely sure how successful I was.
Overall, the thing that I found most difficult about my dissertation was relating it to my practice. I hadn’t thought that part through when I chose my topic, and I came to realise this very soon after starting after the summer. I was very much against just illustrating my dissertation, but I wanted it to have some relevance because my dissertation was something that was so interesting to me. I ended up doing a project for every aspect of my dissertation, horror films, cautionary and fairy tales, social fears, feminism, and the monstrous feminine. I should have thought about it earlier, but I managed to zone in after a while. I’m now looking at the Freudian idea of the subconscious, and I think it is similar, but still related to my dissertation. Even though I don’t reference feminism very much in my practice, I think that it is important to be well versed in the often misogynistic origins of visual tropes such as the evil witch, or ‘Final Girl’ (Clover), so as to avoid them, or reclaim them.