Reporter: New Brief: Derive

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One of Mr Bingo’s postcards from his Hate Mail book. I like it, but have no idea what it’s relevance is to our brief, which it is incorporated into…

A complaint I heard several times from several students during the Southampton project was this: ‘Why are we bothering with Southampton when we’re in London?!? This is one of the capital cities of the world!’ Well, be careful what you wish for…

The second term means a new brief, and this one is set in London. Representing the ‘Reporter’ half of our ‘Author/Reporter’ studio, our new brief sees us dealing with psychogeography, anthropological documentation and who knows what else. ¬†We are tasked with recording¬†the experience of being in a place and turning it into some sort of visual package which communicates said experience to someone else.

There was talk of the theory of the derive by Guy Debord and the Mass Observation movement of the 1930s. We can also expect another slew of workshops ranging from letterpress to laser cutting.

Once the brief was discussed, we were given our first task: to go to Brick Lane, around the corner, and record our experience. We were encouraged to think about all the senses, not just sight.

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Brick Lane in all its glory…

In a bizarre twist, I found myself more interested in the ground than in my usual illustrative mainstay: people. I found that the floor and the different brickwork, cracks and all the rest created patterns that I could imagine abstractified and turned into framed art. Kind of minimalist in style. I show examples of what I mean in this video. You’ll have to weather me talking about Black Dynamite and Harvey Birdman first, but really, what a first-world problem!

The irony isn’t lost on me that the one time I step out of my comfort zone of my own volition is the one time it conflicts with the brief. From what I understand from the research materials being offered, this project is about capturing what people do now, for future reference. No detail is too small. The way people drink their coffee, how they wear their (skinny) jeans, the always looking at the phone thing. It’s the sort of thing Martin Parr would home in on.

There’s a lot going on here and I don’t imagine many students are going to grasp the depth or scale of our potential undertakings anymore than I do. I think it will be just as likely to create something bold and interesting as well as something turgid and pointless. There’s going to be a lot of second guessing going forward, I suspect…