TAKE A GREEN BREAK / Sok Hwee
Take a green break is a project that hopes to encourage and inspire urbanites to incorporate more nature into their breaks. Nature can enhance the effects of taking breaks thus, in this fast-paced society where our lives are increasingly dominated by work and screen time, urbanites can tap on the restorative power of nature to compliment their stressful living.
Prior to writing my FMP proposal I had been experimenting with altering the way food appeared to the viewer in terms of colour, distortion and size. This experimentation led me swiftly onto a final major project which should be fairly simple. However, working in such a different form, in negative, it was incredibly difficult to do much in the way of visual research, so instead I looked more at other people who had been documenting data. During this project I have been working in two different mediums, drawn and graphic, which has been challenging in a good way because it has given me a chance to develop my Photoshop/illustrator skills along with fine tuning my drawing and painting abilities.
The graphic element was where I began by experimenting in a sketchbook with colour blocks, text, drawing and composition. These were nutritional breakdowns of my meals over the course of several months recorded on the app FitnessPal which were reduced down to their basic components i.e. fats, sugar, protein and carbohydrates. I was in my comfort zone here by working in a physical medium, which was messy and inconsistent. I then made the decision to begin to produce these digitally which became far more successful. They were sharper and reflected the ideas I had in my head for them which was to essentially create a ‘digital plate’. I don’t want to knock the physical experimentation though; it got me to a point where I could move onto computer reproduction happily. In the end I created a set of ‘nutritionals’ as I call them that matched the final drawings in the exhibition. However, I didn’t see it fitting to include these in the exhibition because I felt that the nutritional side of the project is the private section, it is the obsessive side which I didn’t really want to have to explain to people. When compared to the drawings it was the lesser of the sections, the less aesthetically pleasing because the drawings had interest, when you looked through the iPad they became another image. Reconsidering this now, as postcards the nutritionals could have linked well. Cost was an issue here along with confidence. The original aim was to produce something similar to colour test blocks you see down the side of newspapers or professionally printed images, which is probably why I saw this element as less important in exhibiting in the exhibition.
In tandem while working on the technical side of the food, I was looking at how to produce the visually altered reproductions of my meals. In the pitch it was discussed how I inverted the images, because I was photographing, inverting on the computer, printing and then drawing from the image. Going through all these layers makes it feel like again the food is being lost, but I feel like fewer layers wouldn’t reflect my conceptual ideas behind the project, which was to mirror the way I look at food through apps, cameras, charts and graphs to the way the viewer sees the end project. My original plan was to produce several days worth of meals in breakfast, lunch and dinner format to produce for the exhibition. Size was a big question, but by enlarging a previous drawing I was able to physically see how a large drawing would look. After some discussion, it was said that large drawings had no meaning, they had less impact and tended to mean that people would walk by them instead of looking closer and understanding. A4 was chosen as it would allow me to produce a handful for selection at the end. I came across problems with the papers and materials which could have been checked in the research and experimentation stage, but I didn’t realise paper and pencil qualities would affect the work so much. Working out the compositional layout of each drawing became difficult the more I did because I had a mixture of drawings on black and white paper and from different angles, so adapting a few and retaking images was the best solution. The final images were drawn from iPhone pictures; I had originally photographed them using a professional camera but this had no meaning when compared to my phone which was used to input my meals and analyse
their values. I produced four drawings in the end, and narrowing it down to three was easy as breakfast, lunch and dinner was a constant throughout the project.
While looking at nutrients on the internet for my nutritionals, I came across the ‘eatwell plate’ and the periodic table which helped to influence the monthly chart which again documented the daily consumption of food. However I only completed one due to time constraints, which is annoying because they could have looked interesting as a set over the course of several months digitally reproduced. I could never have expected something to come up like this in my time plan but if I had the chance again I would definitely have looked into it more. These pieces summarise and bring together data, which I feel is an element that is lacking in the nutritionals.
My plan originally was quite simple, but it began to become a project which aimed to show some kind of transformation from bad to better health by analysing food intake and altering it. By exhibiting the drawings with the iPad I am showing people how I look at my food, which, over the course of this project, has been through technology. Changing the digital elements to become work in their own right I think was an important and successful decision as they deserved more than being a side-lining element to my work. By making them individual pieces this paved the way for them to become larger charts and diagrams, which I think helped to boost the breadth of style in my portfolio which wouldn’t have been there if I’d have kept with my proposal. Producing lenticular postcards instead of the nutritionals was a way for me to give the audience something to take away which has more excitement attached to it.
Overall I believe the project has been positive. My aim was to show the audience the way I look at food, and in a technical and contextual way I have been successful in this. I have slightly diverged, but I achieved what I set out to do with some alterations that in the end made it even more complete. In this project I have looked at scales, variations in media and advanced my technological skills to hopefully help me move onto the next stage in my education. Producing a rough timetable gave me a structure to effectively manage my time. Assessments and critiques have been invaluable, and reflection on my blog has all helped to fine tune my work to ensure my ideas can be properly translated to something physical. Setting up the exhibition and shop has all been a new challenge, but some massive lessons have been learnt on finishing everything to a high standard in terms of packaging, labelling and framing which will be taken to university and beyond. Having my own lenticular postcards printed has also been interesting for me and I would love to pursue more the branding/selling side of the creative industry. The border between fine art and graphics is beginning to disappear.
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