Reveal and conceal, Stage 5, Translating ideas into samples

21 March 2016

This stage is concerned with using aspects of the source material (sketchbook work) and visual ideas for further sampling. It has been my aim to build on workshop samples using related development work from my sketchbooks. 

(N.B. It is also worth mentioning that as I worked through workshop samples, I documented what I had learnt from each, and tried to incorporate these points into subsequent work. As a result, I feel that I have already covered quite a bit of sample development before arriving at this stage).

Using the samples and review outcomes from stage 3, I begun an iterative process of down-selection, which is described and tabulated in “Sample and development book 2”, pages 7-10 and 30-31. This blog entry explains how I arrived at the selection criteria and the difficulties I experienced when making selections. 

 

First stage

I started with 43 samples from the workshops, divided as follows:

  • Netting techniques: 6 
  • Knitted nets: 20
  • Woven samples: 4
  • Inkjet printing: 5
  • Paper lamination: 8

From these I down-selected using the following criteria: 

  • Relevance of the sample(s) to the topic/brief.
  • Strength of visual outcome of sample(s).
  • Perceived potential for a visual outcome to be developed or enhanced. 
 
This process is set out on page 7 of “Sample and development book 2”.  It left me with 14 samples. 
 

Notes on the selection process:

Whilst I found it relatively easy to select visually strong samples and to eliminate those which did not fit the brief, my choice of which others to take forward was more difficult. 
 
I had to reject samples when:
  • The sample was excellent or showed strong potential but there was an issue with material availability, or difficulty of working (e.g. KN11), or that it would just take too long to explore and develop.
  • Despite the sample being visually exciting, I did not have a strong sense of how it should be developed (e.g. N3, KN13)  
I found it difficult to assess the potential of samples. Was this due to lack of foresight/experience on my part? Maybe I should have sought more information by taking the sampling a stage further first? (not really practical with the large number of samples generated for this assignment). I had no choice but to use my intuition.
  
 
Second stage
 
The 14 samples from the first stage are tabulated in “Sample and development book 2, pages 8-10. I looked again at how I might develop the samples, and their relative merits. This led me to down-select to just 8 samples for development.
 
Sample development
 
Sample development, results and observations are recorded in “Sample and development book 2”, pages 11-29.
 
Third stage
 
I re-evaluated the merits of my second stage samples in conjunction with the new development work. This is tabulated in “Sample and development book 2”, p.30-31. 
 
I had hoped that I could break the selection process down into three simple stages. However, situations arose, where new work prompted me too look again at samples which I had previously rejected on individual merit. Examples are the use of sample KN8a) and N5 in DEV4f) and DEV4j)-4l) respectively. 
 
In recognition that selection must remain open, I have replaced the idea of “rejecting” samples with the word “park”. This allows me to revisit samples if new work suggests ways they might be incorporated. It also allows for a situation where the potential of samples has been incorrectly assessed as too high (i.e. development work is unsuccessful and the original set of samples needs to be reappraised).
 
Conclusion: success of the development and selection process
 
I was disappointed that I did not have enough time to take any of my samples to the stage of being fully resolved. However, I am pleased that despite starting with so many, I have been able to select just one idea for further development (WS3/DEV2a, DEV2b), and one that I would take forward from the workshop stage (KN20). There was so many samples which I really liked, so the greatest challenge was sample selection. I got carried away with the possibilities of ‘reveal and conceal’ – in many ways I would have found it easier to be constrained by a narrow brief and just a small number of samples. On the plus side, I have learnt a lot about what types of materials work in different situations (i.e. dense stitches vs. open stitches and different lighting schemes). I also have a body of new technical skills which I will be able to use in future projects.
 
 
Risk areas, sample development:

 
Focusing on functional outcomes:
  
I keep returning to an (often repeated) phrase in the course notes which tells me to “work towards visual outcomes rather than functional ones“. 
 
When doing sketchbook work I find it all to easy to jump to conclusions about a final piece, e.g. “The image suggests it could be used for a collar of cuff” – sketchbook 2, page 27. I must be careful to ensure my sample development is not shaped by a pre-conceived notion of outcome. 
 
To try and prevent this, I asked myself two questions before embarking in sample development:
  1. How could I enhance this sample visually?
  2. What would happen if………..?
This has helped to draw my attention away from functional outcomes.
 
Resolving too early:
 
Similar to the point above, another danger area is trying to jump to a resolution before the sample is properly evaluated and developed, thereby trying to make the sample fit the idea. I often feel insecure when developing samples and by having a solution “in mind”, I give myself a false impression of being able to “bound the problem” (i.e. know how long the work will take and what the end point will be). When (inevitably) development work does not produce the fabulous sample that I hoped, the misconception is exposed!
 
 
Letting a strong concept/narrative dictate sample selection and development:

I recognise that I am likely to be biased towards selecting a sample relating a topic I feel passionate about, even if it is not the strongest visual outcome. There must be balance between choice based on a strong concept/narrative and visual outcome/potential because if a sample is visually weak, it will not be an effective means of communicating ideas. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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