Sunday, 30 September 2012

The analysis of The emperors new clothes

The analysis of:
Fashion.  It's a fickle thing at best and a cruel mistress at worst.  What is 'in' today is 'out tomorrow and those who devote their lives to knowing which is which soon become the shallowest of people.

Be warned fashionistas. This is what happens when you get too old to hang out at the mall.
This explains why it's a good thing tha there are some people in this crazy, mixed up world who remain defiantly unfashionable [1].   These people sacrifice time that could be spent talking about fashion trends in favour of a working knowledge of black holes, jet fighters or complex mathematical theories.

Unfortunetly I  won't be talking about them since the focus of this tale are the fashionable people and the unfortunate consequences of addiction and allowing your impulses free reign over your life.


Many years ago there was an Emperor.  He'd gotten the job after seeing it advertised in the local paper but that's beside the point.  This Emperor, whom we'll call Fred, was fond of clothing.
Actually that's putting it mildly,  All of his money was spent on fashionable attire.  He didn't care about the  theatre or his armies or even hunting.  If there wasn't an opportunity to swan about in a new set of clothing then he just didn't care. 

Now In the town that was his capital city strangers arrived at the court and took away fantastic stories of the many and varied outfits that Emperor Fred would wear and it so happened that these stories eventually reached the ears of a pair of rogues who twirled their moustaches and departed at once for the court of Emperor Fred.

When they arrived everyone could see that Emperor Fred was in particularly fine form but the taller of the two men laughed about his clothing  [2]
“Who sir are you sir?” Fred demanded “and why do you laugh so?”
“I, naturally, am Hercules Gryptype Finn and this ragged pile of bent saxophones is none other than Count, Stitches, Moriaty, world underwater ironing champion and renowned lover of oysters”  [3]
“you don't know love until you've been loved by a mollusc” interrupted the Count
“Be quiet you oyster mad fool!” hissed the tall man “Forgive us Emperor Charlie but we were not laughing at you, merely the outdated clothing that you wear”
“It's Fred actually”
“Really? Perhaps Charlie will come along later”
“I don't think so, there's no Charlies in my family”
“That remains to be seen.  But to business!  For a small sum of money the count and I shall weave a cloth of the most beautiful colours and delicatly elaborate patterns.  The clothing that comes from such a cloth will remain totally invisible to the most simple of people or anybody who isn't fit for their office”
“What better way to find out what men are unfit for their positions and to be able to know the wise from the foolish” Emperor Fred thought and issued a proclimation that the two weavers were to start on the cloth right away,

So the two weavers set up their looms, spinning wheels and other impliments of destruction whilst pretending to work busily and often late into the night.  They sent out orders for silks and golden threads but it all went into their bag while the looms, spinning wheels and other impliments of destruction remained empty [4]

Time passed and with no word from the “tailors” except for more  demands for outragous amounts of cloth and assorted habberdashery supplies.  Eventually the emperor started wondering how it was all getting on but he remembered the major plot point of the magic cloth.  To whit: anyone who was a simpleton or unfit for their office would not be able to see the cloth.
Thus he hesitated unwilling to submit to the test and sent forth his wisest minister to look at the cloth and report back to him.  He justified this in his own mind by reminding all and sundry that all of his ministers were wise and clearly fit for the offices which they held, surely there would be no problem.

Of course his subjects smiled and nodded in agreement [5]

But the wise minister was shocked when he entered the chambers that the rogues has obtained to work in.  He was shocked because he was unable to see anything at all.  The tailors continued to mime sewing, cutting and looming while asking the minister all manner of questions about the fabric.
“It can't be that I'm a simpleton” the minister thought “am I then unfit for my position?”   but he said nothing of his thoughts and instead praised the workmanship and quality of the work that had already been completed, promising to give the emperor nothing but a good report of their work.

Some more time passed b and the bolts of cloth and golden thread were delivered to the pair and they all went straight into the bags of the rogue tailors.  Anybody who was sent by the emperor refused to believe that they might be unfit or some kind of simpleton and left with glowing words of praise and that small feeling of guilt that we all get when we know that somethings going wrong and nobodies saying nothing to nobody.

By this time the news of the Amazocloth [6] had spread throughout the city and the entire city was agog to see what their tax dollars were being spent on this time.  The emperor couldn't stand it any more and personaly opened the door to the tailers workroom so that he could admire the cloth

“Your excellency!” the shorter of the rogues welcomed him and waited until he sat down “how wonderful to grace us with your prescence”
“I would have been here sooner but matters of state must take precidence over the dictates of simple fashion” Emperor Fred lied badly and, like all bad liars, was visibly relieved to see how easily his lie was taken as the truth “is this the, uh, cloth then?”
“It certainly is mon emperor” the count assured him “is it not wonderful?”

The emperor blinked at gazed in wonder at the empty looms “I'm not stupid” he thought “and certainly not unfit to be emperor”  and rather than admit that he couldn't see anything he made the same decision as everyone else who had been sent to view the cloth he lied about the fantasic properties of the cloth and raved about it to his court who quickly spread word of it throughout the city.

In the fullness of time the clothes were pronounced to be finished and Emperor Fred declared that a grand procession would take place [7] so that his people might behold him in all his glory [8].
The two tailors dressed the emperor and everyone assured him that the suit was by far and away the finest thing that had ever been worn since Caveman Og had draped a mamoth skin around his shoulders.

As he strode with an air of pride through his streets all the people cheered  and called out their admiration of the cloth even though none of them could see a thing.  The emperor heard their cries and swelled with pride, none of his other clothes had ever caused so very great an impression as these.

Finally the spell was broken by a small child who sat on her fathers shoulders in the time honoured traditional seating of small children everywhere “But the Emperor has nothing on at all!”
Her father laughed at her innocence but the damage was already done and it wasn't long before the whole city was laughing at the emperor. 
Rather more accuratly they were trying not to laugh but that only made things worse and everywhere the emperor looked he could see half hidden smiles and shaking shoulders.  His attendents made an even larger show of holding his train but that only helped the rediculisness of it all.


Emperor Fred:
•Did he have any real power at all?  If he's spending all his time with clothing then the running of the country is going to be in 'other hands'
•Why hasn't there been a revolution? If Fred is just a figurehead then there doesn't need to be. Since whoever is actually running the country is obviously doing a good job of it and as long as the emperor is allowed to swan about in fine clothes and shake the hands of poor people who, no doubt have been carefully selected, everyone seems to be getting along with no problems.
•Right, so he's going to be wearing a suit made of Amazocloth and wandering about the town.  Even if the stuff did what it was supposed to then it would still mean that, to a certain percentage of the city, he would still be walking around the place completely naked.  On the other hand he's the emperor and it's his city.  So if he says he's wearing clothes then he's wearing clothes.
The Tailors:
•The cloth they pinched.  It says in the story that it all went into their bags but surely the sheer bulk of the cloth is going to make getting out of town quickly and quietly very difficult.
The child:
•Now I'll accept that the child is the punchline to which this entire story has been leading up to [9]  But everyone in the city knew about Amazocloth and surely, when the nakedness was pointed out, someone would have made a remark about how the child was simple.  It might have led to a fight but that would be a more honest reaction to her words than the entire city suddenly laughing at Emperor Fred.
•The plan to find out who was unfit for his office.  Even if the Amazocloth did what the tailors cloaimed the chances of it ferreting out any simpletons drops to 0 after he allows the pair to loudly proclaim to all and sundry the exact magical properties of the cloth.  If he were clever then he'd realise this after the disasterious procession.  But if he were clever then he wouldn't have fallen for the spiel in the first place.
•Where then are the lessons and morals of the tale for the child that is lucky enough to be read this as a bedtime story? [10]
“Don't be afraid of bucking the trend” would be a good one since it works equally well for fashion and politics and if just one person had gone to the boss and admitted that he couldn't see a thing then he'd be the laughing stock of the court right up until three minutes after the procession ends.  After that they get called into the office and rewarded for their honesty.  But since that didn't happen we can't really count it.
“When the plan goes south then get out while the gettings good” The last time we hear anything about the tailors is when they dressed Emperor Fred before the procession.  Since anyone who gets made a fool of on a citywide scale isnt going to be very happy we can safely assume that they followed their own advice and skedaddled with a capital SKE. [11]
  1. For once I'm not talking about Goths.
  2. If the story ended here then the moral would be “Never laugh at an emperor” but it doesn't so it isn't.
  3. “...we're only here because someones been listening to The Goon Show again.  Where do you think he gets all his material?”
  4. Given the trouble that spinning wheels have caused other stories nobody was really surprised to see that this one was given a wide berth in favor of the looms.
  5. Mainly because that's what you do when the emperor speaks and especially if he gives you the right royal prompting.
  6. Talk to marketing about the name
  7. Presumably the route avoids the local insane asylym.   I mean it probably did anyway but there's no point in taking chances.
  8. Nope, way too easy.  Insert your own joke here
  9. Jokes were much longer back then due to the fact that TV hadn't been invented.  It's probably worth remembering this next time someone starts up on the good old days.
  10. I mean the actual story.  I take no responibility for those who read these posts to their children although the thought does fill me with  a certain amount of quiet pride.
  11. I imagine that the sequel was considered much too brutal to be released onto an unsuspecting public.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Kowhaiwhai Presentation with handout

What follows is the presentation, suitably arranged for the blog format, that I gave to the art class.  For those who don't know Kowhaiwhai panels are painted designs that are found in maraes and everywhere else in this country.
(Sorry about the quality.  All I had was a cellphone)

 The scorecard at the bottom was a handout that I've included for the sake of completeness.  Feel free to print it out and pretend that you were actually there

Friday, 21 September 2012

Art and words. Now all I need is love - any offers?

Below: What happens when you play around with the Keep Calm and Carry On maker, you know, instead of knuckling down and actually some real work.

Below: Following up on the Tukutuku panels from before the break (1)
Our new project is Kowhaiwhai panels.  For those not in the know these are the painted panels of red, white and black which seem to cover almost every part of this country (2)
This turned into a full page spread because, as I was mapping out the actual design and doing a few colour tests, it was discovered that I was not only using pastels but OIL pastel no less.

I decided to keep on and fill the page up with a more freehand design as well as a few smudge tests just to see what the dreaded oil pastels could actually do.

So the four assignments that we have are as follows.
  • Design a poster: I was suspicious of this one from the start and it turns out that I was right to be.  The movie poster we're designing is based on the movies that we made.  In my case that's Batman which is always cool but the catch was that we not only have to do it along a theme, romance, horror, 1970's but we also have to design 20 full page spreads and then design the lettering ourselves! (3)

    My genre, by the way, is Romance.  A romantic Batman it boggles the mind since I'm not trying to riff on the whole "Seduction of the innocent" angle
  • Design a prop/set/scenery from Avatar: This is the big one, before this year the movie that they used was Romeo and Juliet which nobody was very excited about (4)  But since they who must be obeyed decreed that the movie we'd be doing was going to be James Camerons Avatar I've been going out of my mind with Nerdgasms.
  • Design storyboards: Take your film and give us proper storyboards.  So far this is easy since I've just had to take screenshots of the film and work from there.  The storyboards we used while actually filming were quickly discarded as we kept on coming up with more and more ideas.

    After you've gotten the storyboards draw them by hand, scan them into the computers and shade them there.  Then print them out and mount them so that everyone can see your work.
  • Storyboards Part II: You might have thought you were finished with Storyboards after all that but now what we want you to do is take two images of your storyboards and do them in charcoal onto A1 sized paper! (5) 
  • Kowhaiwhai Panels: Just like it says above.  They're all over the place so make some more and spread the meme!  There is something rather relaxing about doing them although that's only when you're designing the basic shape.  When you get down to those fiddly bits it turns into an exercise in frustration! (6)
  • Photography: If you read the notes of my last posting you'd see that we covered portrait photography.  The assignment for photography is to get portraits photographs of people working.  But in an interesting contridiction they shouldn't be working because they're posing for you.  It goes without saying that if your brain melts while you're trying to figure this one out then you fail the course.
So the schedule for the immediate future is going to be work + sleep at first but as that dreaded portfolio making draws closer the schedule will undoubtably morph into work + work + "Wake up!  It's time for work!"

In a wee bit of ego stroking news I got told by the tutor for the bachelor level course that she considered several members of the class good enough to skip the level 4 certificate, which is the one that we're currently on, and go straight from level 3 onto her bachelor.

  1. It took some rushing around but the panels were eventually finished.  Then I made the mistake of talking to one of the tutors about them and to cut a long story short I found myself volunteered to finish off another panel which had been forgotten.  Moral of the story?  Don't never say nothing to nobody.
  2. You might think that's a joke but I'm being deadly serious.  They've got a stranglehold on this country like some kind of artistic meme
  3. I'll have to space them out quite a bit but eventually I'll upload the better ones so you can see what I'm talking about.
  4. I'll spare you my Romeo and Juliet rant.  It basically boils down to
  5. Before yesterday I had never worked with Charcoal.  But judging by the amount of mess I made doing an A3 picture I'll end up looking like a black and white minstrel!
  6. They're also making us each give presentations about the panels and what we're doing.  The horror!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Notes from the Portrait Lecture

  • What follows are the notes that I took during the small lecture that we had in the digital photography class. They have been rewritten and organized into something that resembles legibility.
  • There is going to be alot of research in this module which is pretty much par for the course at this stage of the course (ahem).