Let me begin with the fact that our Field project consists of two parts: our own individual work and a group project. We had to choose one of the three options to work on (Migration, Power/Technology and Hidden City) and all of the Year 1 Art & Design students were divided into 7 groups according to their chosen option. (Go Group 7!) Within these groups we had to team up with 3 or 4 other people with whom we are to do our collaborative work.
The idea of the group project is to learn how to interact with artists and designers whose areas of expertise are completely different from your own. For example putting together a fine artist, a ceramicist and a product designer would have a very interesting outcome.
I am in a team with 3 fine artists (Mabli Eustace, Sophie Burrows and Magda Lackowska) and being the only illustrator I felt that our ideas might clash. I was actually far from the truth. When we all sat down and shared our personal thoughts for the project we found our common ground was fantasy—the fantastical and imaginary, the improbable and unexpected, the illusory and the mysterious. Even though the whole idea started with “Hey, let’s dress up as witches and film people’s reactions”, we polished it to a project of wonder and public engagement which will hope to put the question What if? into people’s thoughts.
Hidden City can be viewed in many ways. We decided to focus on the cities, communities and unknown places hidden within our own. Like in the Harry Potter series, where the wizards are supposed to hide their existence from the muggles; The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, where the main character is suddenly pulled into this world of magic and power; Night Watch, where there is an entire underground supernatural organization which protects normal people from the malevolent supernatural beings; The Mortal Instruments, where the shadowhunters protect humanity from the demons hiding in between them… All in all this urban fantasy idea was the base for our project.
(.GIF from Harry Potter – the muggles did not see that, but it did happen)
(.GIF’s from Night Watch – a shapeshifter and a vampire in the city of Moscow)
What we’ve decided to do is a series of images (we will be working with photography, drawing, printmaking, collage, stitch and 3D media) which focus on that feeling of mystique around a (seemingly) completely normal building or street, or site. We were also drawn by the idea of “hiding” 3D artworks connected to the magical theme and record the reactions of passers-by. For the 2D artworks we are focusing on changing parts of the original images in order to expose the concealed magic and make viewers wonder “Well what if this place really was magical, but we are under a spell that prevents us from seeing it?” By invoking such questions we will create public engagement and we will also be able to examine and document people’s reactions – whether they’re surprised or irritated, or amused, or sceptical. This will not only give us an idea of people’s mindsets and help with the project, but maybe it will brighten someone’s day.
So yes, the Term 2: Field: City Project: The Hidden City: Collaboration: Fantasy Cities: What if? project has commenced.