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Friday, 6 January 2012

Creating Ideas Through Advertising | Terry Hall & Coggles

Olubiyi from coggles on Vimeo.

Text by Bethany Rex

The importance of creativity in advertising has been widely recognised for decades. A creative ad campaign has to be both divergent and relevant. It is a difficult scale to balance and the failures certainly outweigh the triumphs. Advertising is about more than promotion of any given product; it’s centred on communicating a message, managing expectations, and brand positioning. There is no measure of success, however any advertising campaign that succeeds in stimulating interaction between these three subsystems: creator, domain and field, is certainly moving in the right direction.

In reality, creativity is a multi-dimensional phenomenon and creativity in marketing communications does not function in isolation. That’s the best thing about it for audiences and marketers; it’s about putting creativity to the test. With advertising, the creator alone is not the sole determinant. Thousands of individuals come together to decide whether or not the idea of novel enough for their consumption. Will you or will you not share this video on your social networks? None of this is a secret; most brands are selling a lifestyle not a product but there are a handful who do so in a way that isn't brash, presumptive or condescending. In fact, it's a pleasure to be sold these ideals. Coggles is one such brand.

The Coggles site does not only carry clothing brands such as APC, Comme de Garcons, PPQ and Sam Edelman but also features furniture, vintage pieces, bicycles and music. Coggles has taken this concept of selling a style, rather than fashion one step further by including images of self-styled young men and women on their site, taken by photographer Nick Scaife. Having shot over 1,000 individuals over the last two years, Coggles have now commissioned three short films which these well-dressed tastemakers. Produced by filmmaker, Terry Hall, we can here offer you a glimpse at the first film which takes as its subject Jean-Michel Basquiat fan and Central Saint Martins fashion student, Olubiyi. Terry has also taken time out of a very busy schedule to talk to Aesthetica about the project. The final two films in the series will be on the Aesthetica Blog in the following months.

A: Firstly, could you talk us through the concept behind this series?

TH: The idea was to expand upon Coggles’ extensive street style archive by creating a series of individual video portraits. These films could be about anything, something that they wanted to share that would give us a little insight into the person behind the photograph.

A: Who was responsible for the styling of the films?

TH: Each person we worked with was asked to style themselves for the shoot. We gave them the option to choose pieces from the Coggles collections which they could use with their own personal wardrobe items, or not, it was totally their choice. I think that is one of the great things about Coggles' street style archive; it stays true to the original concept of street style which is about championing the individual and this idea of personal style was incredibly important to us when we were making the films.

A: Going back a few years, The Sartorialist was pretty much the only street style photographer of note. Now the street style blog is ubiquitous, with superstars from the bloggersphere making their way onto the highstreet (Elin Kling for H &M) even. What is it about these three individuals that makes them stand out from the madding crowd?

TH: Just looking through the original street style photos there are people that obviously jump out and make you think they’d make a great film but during the casting process our opinions changed. I think the way people behave can be almost as important to their style as the clothes they wear. Each of the three people we selected had that little, extra something.

This idea of a person’s behaviour is interesting in the wider context of fashion film vs photography. As more editorial work becomes time based, models will have to do much more than capture a single moment in a still image. They will have to become performers.

A: As a commercial filmmaker, do you have an outlet for your more creative thoughts and ideas?

TH: Music videos and fashion film are a great way of making more avant-garde ideas but without good funding it is becoming more and more difficult to create really outstanding work. I think the commercials industry is a lot more open to creative work than it used to be plus there is money there to really develop a project and collaborate with lots of talented people.

A: Was there one short that you found most challenging to make?

TH: Olubiyi’s was probably the toughest. It was the day after the police had cracked down on the rioters and we were walking around Hackney with camera equipment wondering if it was the right thing to do.

A: Can you describe the creative process for you?

TH: It changes depending on what I’m working on but usually I will try and gather as much information about the subject: reading as much as I can and collecting images. This will usually set me off on a number of tangents that I’ll research further and the first initial ideas will emerge. Then I’ll go through everything and try to bring it all together in one finished piece.

A: Finally, what does 2012 have in store for you?

TH: I’m waiting to hear back on a couple of commercial projects plus I’ve just started work on the second series of the Coggles Street Style films. Plus I really want to make a short film this year as well.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Celebrating Contemporary Filmmaking | Global Lens 2012 | MoMA New York

Global Lens is a touring film exhibition, organised annually between MoMA and the Global Film Initiative (GFI). Designed to encourage filmmaking in countries with emerging film communities, the select of 10 programs, which include films developed with seed money from GFI, represents a concise survey of contemporary filmmaking from areas where local economic realities making such expensive and technology-driven endeavours a challenge. Accomplished, entertaining, and thought-provoking, the films are deeply rooted in the social and political realities of the countries where their talented and resourceful makers live and set their stories. Taking place from 12 - 28 January in The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters at MoMA, the screening schedule is packed. Here are our recommendations for those of you lucky enough to be in NY at the moment:

Gişe Memuru (Toll Booth). 2010. Turkey.
Written and directed by Tolga Karaçelik. With Serkan Ercan, Zafer Diper, Nergis Öztürk.
Various screenings from 12 - 18 January.
In Turkish; English subtitles. 96 min

Kenan is a taciturn 35-year-old toll booth attendant shuffling between the monotony of his traffic
besieged box and caring for his ailing but domineering father at home. Desperate to resist his father’s attempt to marry him off to a neighbor, and equally determined to prove his worth by fixing his father’s old car, Kenan edges ever closer to a nervous breakdown. Making wonderful use of an expert cast (led by the excellent Serkan Ercan), a richly saturated colour palette, and keen art direction, writer-director Karaçelik has crafted a wry, heartbreaking ode to lost dreams in a sleepwalking world.

Amnistia (Amnesty). 2011. Albania.
Written and directed by Bujar Alimani. With Luli Bitri, Karafil Shena, Todi Llupi.
Various screenings from 14 - 20 January.
In Albanian; English subtitles. 83 min

A newly enacted law allowing prisoners conjugal visits sparks an unlikely friendship between two lonely people visiting their incarcerated spouses. Elsa’s contact with her husband is silent and dutiful; Shpetim, a gentle, soft-spoken man who visits the prison to see his wife, experiences equally passionless encounters. When an amnesty sets their spouses free, their fragile bond is threatened. Alimani’s quietly sensual, contemplative first feature takes a wonderfully personal approach to a profound social transformation.

Qarantina. 2010. Iraq.
Written and directed by Oday Rasheed. With Asaad Abudel Majeed, Alaa Najem, Hattam Auda.
Various screenings from 19 - 27 January.
In Arabic; English subtitles. 90 min.

A broken family, headed by the patriarch, Salih, lives within the gated courtyard of a dilapidated house in Baghdad. Salih’s pregnant daughter has fallen mute, and only finds solace with Salih’s young second wife, Kerima, and his preteen son, Muhanad. To keep the family afloat, Muhanad must work in the street shining shoes and, more ominously, they are forced to take in a sullen and imperious boarder. Rasheed’s brooding second feature captures the beautiful surroundings of modern Baghdad, and finds unexpected sources of resilience in the wake of catastrophe.

Riscado (Craft). 2010. Brazil.
Directed by Gustavo Pizzi. With Karine Teles, Camilo Pellegrini, Dany Roland.
Various screenings from 13 - 16 January
In Portuguese; English subtitles. 85 min

Bianca is a talented young actress trying to get her career off the ground, but so far her jobs have been limited to impersonating movie divas and promoting events. After auditioning for a major international film, she finally gets her big break with a director who, inspired by her personality and her work, molds the character into a version of Bianca. Is this the chance of a lifetime? Pizzi portrays the casual cruelty of the competitive world in which we live, and heightens the drama not through melodrama or exaggerated scenarios but by picking the perfect protagonist: an actress. Craft was cowritten with the astounding Teles, who inhabits the role of Bianca with heartbreaking poignancy.

Films are screened Wednesday - Monday. For screening schedules please visit the Film Exhibitions page.

Global Lens 2012, 12/01/2012 - 28/01/2012, The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. www.moma.org

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Gişe Memuru (Toll Booth). 2010. Turkey. Written and directed by Tolga Karaçelik.
Amnistia (Amnesty). 2011. Albania. Written and directed by Bujar Alimani. Pictured: Luli Bitri
Qarantina. 2010. Iraq. Written and directed by Oday Rasheed. Pictured: Asaad Abudel Majeed.
Riscado (Craft). 2010. Brazil. Directed by Gustavo Pizzi. Pictured: Karine Teles.
All images courtesy of The Global Film Initiative

Unfinished World | Graham Sutherland curated by George Shaw | Modern Art Oxford

Text by Asana Greenstreet

Graham Sutherland (1903-1980) was an official World War II artist from 1941-44. He was commissioned to paint scenes of bomb devastation, as well as work in mines, quarries and foundries. He is a modernist painter who stands on his own two feet: moving away from the traditional representation of landscapes, however formerly innovative, treating the paper and the relief as a live entity. As a doctor would a patient, Sutherland examines every possibility and change through the medium of painting, and produced a vast collection of works on paper that scrutinise, explore and spiritualise the landscape he sees before him.

This exhibition at Modern Art Oxford brings together 85 of Sutherland’s lesser known works which are given a contemporary jolt by the artist-curator George Shaw. In a short film in the gallery’s basement, Shaw explains his interest in Sutherland’s painting, of the obsessive reworking of a familiar landscape. It comes as no surprise that Shaw admires and is inspired by Sutherland. Shaw’s interest in landscapes personal to him, rendered in all their painterly mimesis, won Shaw his Turner Prize nomination this year.

Interestingly, the anticipation of odd juxtapositions and positioning of artworks in an artist-curated show is missing. Shaw clearly sees merit in Sutherland’s work, aligning him with the old Masters such as Constable and Van Gogh. He refreshes an interest in Sutherland’s practice, and gives the viewer a space to contemplate Shaw’s thought that
"it seems he [Sutherland] always has something else to say, but never quite does". There is ample space to contemplate each painting, and the display case that shows three of Sutherland’s sketchbooks make a nice addition to the show, as the visitor can match an initial sketch to the finished painting.

Certain elements of the exhibition are easy to read: the colour juxtapositions of the pre, mid, and post war paintings are evident in their respective depiction of calmness, darkness and a renewed positivity of life. This is also seen in a change of medium, from gouache to a mix of crayon and ink that display a thickened obscurity to the picture space. However simple in their semiotic parallels between art and life, these techniques are powerful, and hold the viewer’s attention throughout the exhibition.

The Devastation series, painted in 1941, in all their darkness indicate approaching death, and imagine an apocalyptic atmosphere ever so relevant to their contemporary social context. These war paintings also depict elements from nature such as thorns and trees, and Sutherland gives them anthropomorphic qualities, as if holding a mirror up to man as he gazes at nature. As the trees scream out their pain through human-like orifices in Dwarf Oaks (1941), the viewer recollects the horrors of the war, and even of the memory of the concentration camps, where Thorns (1945) appear as a vicious barbed wire matrix that press any sign of jovial life deeper into the image. This aligns Sutherland in the same camp as Francis Bacon, using similarities between the figure and nature to draw out narratives of horror in the human psyche.

How resonant and appropriate this lesson is today. Wars fought because of politics, ideology, and religion bring out the worst in human nature, resulting in a tangible destruction of earth’s landscape. If this stands as true today as it did then, Unfinished World is a potent title for this exhibition, as it indicates not only Sutherland’s implicit ideas of human nature, but as history repeats itself, so will humans continue to destroy their relationships between each other as well as with nature.

Unfinished World, Graham Sutherland curated by George Shaw, 10/12/2011 - 18/03/2012, Modern Art Oxford. www.modernartoxford.org.uk

Two film screenings selected by George Shaw which accompany the main exhibition will take place on 13 January between 7 - 8pm.

Wales - Green Mountain, Black Mountain (Dir. John Eldridge, UK, 1942) takes its title from a classic piece of wartime propaganda written by Dylan Thomas under the instruction of the Ministry of Information. It presents idyllic images of a Welsh landscape, the work ethic of its communities, and their pastimes and traditions. The film features evocative footage of the Welsh countryside, which inspired many of Sutherland's most enigmatic works.

Sutherland in Wales (Dir. John Ormand, UK, 1978) is a BBC documentary which provides a rare insight into the artist and his life-long interest in the Pembrokeshire landscape. Coinciding with the creation of the Graham Sutherland Foundation at Picton Castle, the film follows the artist on a walk through the Welsh countryside, as he explains the inspiration behind his work and his efforts to build up a repertoire of unique shapes and forms.

The Wanderer, 1940
Pencil, watercolour and conte crayon on artists’ board
47 × 61cm
Victoria and Albert Museum
© Estate of Graham Sutherland

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Aesthetica January Sale: Save in 2012!

Happy New Year!

2012 looks set to be an exciting year and we’ve certainly got plenty of great things lined up here at Aesthetica.

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