Exercise 27 – Visual Distortion
This was a difficult exercise. I wasn’t entirely sure how to approach it so it was done with an attitude of ‘don’t over think it’. First of all I completed a sketch of a cat in a typical cat position. I felt it demonstrated the type of character a cat has; inquisitive, playful and trying to chase something.
Based on the drawing, I then tried to use 5 lines to capture the essence of a cat in a similar position. This was hard. Five lines isn’t much and when you consider how often you lift your pencil off the page to make a new mark, the task was not easy.
I felt I captured the image position and character of the original cat in the 5 lines. You can see from it that it is a cat but that is all.
Next I gathered some images and created a collage, using an image of string to represent fur and flowers to represent a contrast in fur.
I chose a large human smile for the cat as I felt this was a way to give it an expression of personality that we identify with.
For my image I chose to go with a text background highlighting all the things that are said about cats. The background is a faded out image of grass and the collage layers for the cat are a mix of string, flowers, a lemon slice and a blood dripping image. As a final stamp for the narrative I chose to put a diagram of the parts of a birds skeleton. The message here being that a smiling cat projects one image to us but the reality is that they’re predators and kill birds.
Part 1 – collage
Was it successful?
I’m not sure. It’s my first attempt at going for visual distortion and having to really think about it left me a bit lost at times. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do in this exercise and I think that I hadn’t any clear goal set for the end result.
I found it difficult to approach this exercise with the steps for ‘receiving the brief’ so ended up trusting my instinct on it. As a piece of work I think it hit the tone I was going for but visually it isn’t impressive and doesn’t feel like there is quality in it.
Part 2 – bigger image
This time I created thumbnails for the image as I knew the narrative I wanted to create. It was related to how cats are adored and people have strong feelings towards them but they’re bird killers and yet we accept that.
For this visual I went for a paper collage mixed with the image mixed with pen and marker. From the thumbnails I deducted that the composition would work with a human image alongside the distorted cat image.
In a magazine I found a lovely image of two women looking adoringly at something. We can’t see but it fit into the narrative I was forming so I cut it out. Next there were some great statements in a few magazines and the contrast in font made a nice backdrop. I used a surface pattern created in Photoshop using the original distorted image and put this in as wallpaper.
Finally I used various forms of flora and fauna to indicate the link between domesticated animal and wild animal. I’m not sure it was conveyed enough but it is there.
The reference to 9 lives is also present and I outlined the cat to give it more character and show up the exaggerated comic teeth. The cat is very aware that it is loved and it enjoys the attention. People who feel strong feelings about cats are devoted to them and we see the internet is adorned with videos of how cute they are, despite the fact that it is a predator who commits acts of extreme violence.
The final image I feel is more relevant to the image I created earlier. It feels more distorted but has a narrative running through it that you can make sense of. It is a good start and although it was uncomfortable to begin with, I feel like I have some understanding of what the exercise was about now that I have finished it.
I can’t say I’d know where to go next with it, but I can see that it is a process piece here rather than a finished piece because it feels rather put together and the fact that I wasn’t 100% clear on it from the start echoes through it in some way. It feels more pop art than visual distortion but it is a good attempt none the less.