Sir Ken Robinson and an Education Reformation

I’ve recently been watching a lot of RSA and TED Talks which focus on a variety of important economical, educational, psychological and philosophical subjects and matters. One man who has inspired me and drawn my interest is Sir Ken Robinson – he focuses on education and the changes that need to be made to the current system we have. He argues that the ‘more creative’ subjects should be taught just as much as Maths, Science and English (not that they’re not creative subjects themselves) and after listening to a few of his talks it’s hard to see why these changes haven’t been made, although I think it’s because of ‘change’ itself. For some reason our government is stubborn to change, even with good reasoning which shows that current methods aren’t working. Children grow to dislike school at about the same rate they are forced out of their creative subjects, which is no coincidence; they get bored by “low-level clerical work” – as Robinson puts it – which is pretty normal and should be expected of children. I don’t want to regurgitate everything Robinson has said in a less convincing manner, so please watch some of his talks:

Leigh Pearce

Leigh Pearce is an illustrator who has produced a variety of posters, record sleeves, an endless amount of characters and more as well as more dynamic works such as animations and the design of apps, working for companies like Vodafone, Virgin Media and more. As with a lot of the artists I’ve researched for this project I first found Pearce in an issue of Computer Arts, for which he supplied an “army of brightly coloured chirpy retards”, by which he means characters. I loved these characters as soon as I saw them, they’re all interesting and have character, they all slightly vary in style, but are still recognisable as Pearce’s work and they look like they could each have a story of their own. Pearce often gives his characters a back-story, such as ‘Bacon Ears’ who was featured in the CA article, he is a Vietnam vet whose ears were lost in combat, which were then replaced with streaky bacon by a short-sited surgeon. I find this level of storytelling within one character really intriguing and relative to my own work and I think that this depth in Pearce’s work makes it more valuable by giving it meaning and potential — I bet — if not Pearce himself — someone, somewhere could easily produce a short animation depicting Bacon Ear’s misfortune and other stories.

leigh Pearce

Another piece which show’s Pearce’s ability to portray narrative and relevance is the poster produced for hip-hop trio De La Soul, Pearce gives specification of  and relevance to the elements in the image, linking to parts of/songs of De La Soul’s. The piece itself gives a characterised and somewhat humorous portrayal of the three men in Pearce’s naive and charming style. Like many of his others, this poster uses a very limited colour palette to aid in its use to portray certain feelings, these dark reds and maroons give the impression of a tough and hardened group, which is contrasted by Pearce’s style, not to mention the group themselves, whose lyrics are often quirky and less tough than some ex-gang-banging peers. I think the poster works well by combining these elements and I feel that most people who find this poster will have heard of De La Soul, meaning that they will probably relate the charming style to the group more than the ‘meaner’ colours.

Print

Here‘s a link to Pearce’s blog, and here‘s his website.

I couldn’t miss this opportunity to tie in one of my favourite bands, so here’s Gorillaz with one of their latest collaborations with De La Soul:

Rastamouse

Continuing with the different aspects of stereotypes in cartoons, I want to look at a show closer to home: Rastamouse. Hosted on Cbeebies, this stop-motion animated series follows Rastamouse – a Jamaican mouse – and his friends ‘Da Easy Crew’, and has been very popular since it’s release in early 2011, with a range of audiences. The show is somewhat smaller than Disney films collectively and I thought this may make a difference to the interaction between the press, public and themselves. The characters often help solve problems in the community and Rastamouse’s philosophy is “Makin’ a bad ting good!” and from the episodes I’ve watched it seems to work well for everyone. Unfortunately, as with most things, there are some cynics who criticise the show and try to twist some of the subjects to fit their theories, one being that cheese is a reference to cannabis and that the characters make smoking gestures whenever it’s mentioned, which may stem from the fact it has an older ‘accidental’ audience of late teens and 20-somethings. Producer Greg Boardman says that this is definitely not the case:

“We’re aware people have been reading things into it,” laughs Boardman, “but that’s the first I’ve heard about smoking gestures. I promise you, we never intentionally put in innuendo or anything that isn’t age-appropriate. We’re a family brand, we’re on CBeebies and we’re very careful. We can’t make it as cult viewing, even though it may later end up as cult viewing. So while we love that the fact that they’re watching, the students and messageboarders are barking up the wrong tree.”

Quoted from The Guardian’s article on the show: http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2011/feb/15/rastamouse-cbeebies

I think for such a popular and mainstream show which comes under the relegation and standard of the BBC to make such a connection would be foolish and reckless, as the show could be pulled off the air if a theory like this was true. Another issue I found in The Guardian’s article was that “The BBC has received complaints from six viewers that it stereotypes black people. Another 95 have complained about the patois spoken by the animated characters.” I find this former of these statements ridiculous – the show stereotypes Jamaican people, yes, otherwise how would we know that the mice were Jamaican? This relates back to the foundation on which cartoons are built – typical characterisations that the viewer can identify. I feel that the latter statement quoted from the article has more solid ground to stand on, as children are always learning and may pick up bad linguistic habits from the show, however Boardman says it’s part of the whole package the show delivers: the music, colour, rhythm and rhyme of speech all help engage children. I’m sure that if they had varied sources of linguistic influences, children’s pronunciation and language skills would ‘level out’ to an understandable and correct accent.

Rastamouse is a good example of how a show can branch out into other areas – Rastamouse has a big following on Twitter with some celebrity fans, Da Easy Crew has a single out called ‘Ice Popp’, there are many plush toys on sale as well as activity sets, clothes and bags.

Research Map

Here’s my finished, interactive research map! Enjoy exploring!

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See the original post here.

Midway Critique

I think the latest group critique we did was very useful, as a class we have grown to talk more about ideas and progression of people’s projects rather than just how nice each other’s work so far is. I feel that explaining the journey my work has taken helped clarify things for me and has refreshed me on my own initial ideas. I have almost finished the final pieces I set out to do so this discussion with the group was conveniently timed — we bounced ideas off each other and a key point in my work was it having the ability to sell, to develop this it was suggested to put a QR code on the back of the comic books which — when scanned with a smartphone — would take the user to my blog. A more ambitious suggestion was to consider some more technology based media, using augmented reality so that when the picture of the planet’s profile was scanned through a smartphone it would animate and tell the user some facts about itself. Another way to further develop this project would be to look at merchandising, creating key rings, stickers, badges, plush toys, etc. and although I won’t be able to make a lot of these things, I will definitely look into what is possible within the timescale and budget — these additions would also add a lot to my exhibition space when scattered around. I plan on printing and selling a number of my comic books, although I know I won’t be making back most of the money spent on them, and there will be a master copy in the exhibition which won’t be for sale. Before this group critique I also wanted to create some extra-large scale illustrations to go on the walls in my exhibition space, and my peers thought this was a good and obvious next step. I really enjoy these group discussions and I like hearing about other people’s work sometimes spark more ideas for my own project.

The Lawnmower Man

I watched The Lawnmower Man for the first time yesterday. My dad recommended it, and I chose to trust his judgement over IMDB and I was constantly deciding whether I liked the film or not throughout.
I think the themes in the film were approached well, but some of the acting made me realise I was watching a film… I don’t really like Pierce Brosnan as an actor. I also kept in mind that the film was made in 1992, so focusing on a relatively new subject like virtual reality with so little known about it in such a convincing and plausible way made the story of the film a lot more satisfying for me. The same goes for the animation and special effects, I can imagine seeing that for the first time to be ground-breaking stuff; some of the fast paced ‘brain training’ sequences were pretty trippy – I think I remembered some of my decaying GCSE knowledge during them.
Yeah so getting back to the main thing in the film – ‘mind over matter’ and the morality of the of the whole thing, the choice between human compassion and human/technological advance… I think this is an important film because of the questions it raises through the theme, as it was a new threat to people’s morality, which it still is now but in a much nearer and more graspable way (watch How to Build a Bionic Man on 4OD when it’s available).

So overall, a good film with an interesting story and SFX, partially ruined by Peirce Brosnan’s role of playing Pierce Brosnan (at one point he was getting shouted at by his girlfriend, said sorry about 8 times and ended up doing it with her). Plus there were some bits that made me laugh – that shouldn’t have, just some of the script and the acting.

6/10

Then I turned over to the TV and The Only Way is Essex was on and I got sad.