Final piece of Creative Activism


After reading Mirzoeff words on “visual thinking” my thinking changed and I started thinking in streams of images. This ushered thoughts of representation as I was now analyzing these images and thinking about why I associate certain visuals with certain ideas. Thinking about the term “visual activism” begged ideas of how I can take this flow of visual representatives and construct something that sets a mode of contemporary citizenship. I am looking at the mass waste produced by our society’s heavy consumerism for the purpose of resolving a way citizens can convert into a more waste free/recycle oriented mode. Through researching and experimenting i’ve decided that I am going to create a painting as this works alike a poster in the way that it can be hung anywhere and doesn’t look out of place. This form of activism is designed to be eye catching and look visually appealing so people look at it and want to hang it places. However We now have to this on a global scale and not a local scale as activists, the means of communication have changed. Posters are more a way to start a discussion locally, you physically travel to your local dairy and hang a poster. After some research on how many posters are produced it seemed counter intuitive to create a poster on reducing produce and creating unnecessary waste at the same time. Cities are already swamped in posters. So I turned to a longer lasting piece of visual imagery that I could also apply the activistic strategies posters are useful for. Through my research along with works of other designers and artists I learnt not to simply protest/campaign or talk about change but to create work that starts change whilst simultaneously informing the viewer about the issue. This is a far more powerful idea. I wanted every element of my final creative work to communicate why we need to change our heavy consumeristic society, and provide a easy solution to starting this change. Whilst taking a class in industrial design I noticed just how much waste production creates, I took seeing this as an opportunity to find a way to use all my scraps and make use of other students waste materials. I collected several sheets of scrap wood from the laser cutter. This uniquely shaped wood was of great artistic interest to me as not only were these materials a work of art in themselves but also a successful surface for anyone to paint on. Future citizens could incorporate their own artistic style to creating these laser cutter scraps or be inspired to use other scrap materials forming an active way citizens can begin to think about waste. The visual stream of representation I had whilst researching posters and historical modes of activism got me thinking about uncle sam. In a earlier blog post I discussed an illustration I made of uncle sam which became the thumb nail sketch for my final creative piece. Uncle sam was not only a war time poster but also used in political cartoons in newspapers to represent America. Since I now have the knowledge that representation is very powerful, uncle sam is a way that western societies have been represented throughout history. Western societies mode of production and the waste it generates is where i’ve focused this project. The original uncle Sam poster was used as a piece of political propaganda informing citizens on their decision and opinions about war, whilst activism generally does not associate with propaganda, good activism does strongly push forward certain ideas so I thought this would be a fitting historical reference. I have created a painting on a laser cutter scrap sheet of uncle Sam, replacing the caption with “we want waste” alluring to the fact that with the way our consumer driven mode of citizenship is acting we must be wanting waste. Some pleasures i’ve encountered in this project is the way it’s helped clarify and create a meaning/purpose to being an artist. Its also inspired me to continue the works of creative activism and i’ve already turned several other laser cutter offcuts into varying other artworks outside of this project both for other uni assignments and several independent pieces, I plan to continue with this activism project.

Works cited list

Mirzoeff Nicholas, HOW TO SEE THE WORLD, penguin, 2015


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