‘Interchangeable Icons’ is a visual comment upon popular culture icons and how their adaptable consumerist “looks” are falsely presented as a choice via corporations and companies.

Expanding on my symposium research on Mariko Mori, Freud, William Gibson, Ernie Cline and Cory Doctorow I continued to critically think about the culture I am a fan of. I also explored the vernacular of film and how it conveys more truth. From photo books, literature and theory I moved onto first hand research and experimentation both in Coventry and Tokyo.

Initially my proposal was directed towards self exploration, looking at my personal tension between activism and consumerism. I rehashed my ideas and thought about the comment my artistic voice is making, this developed my project into ‘Interchangeable Icons’, a less intimate idea with a much broader public appeal and personal interest. My method of production adapted to when in Tokyo, through image making I realised that film did not compliment futuristic Tokyo. Analysing the situation I decided to work with the colour, vibrancy and metallic tones of Tokyo that I felt digital could best portray.

The locations took influence from Mariko Mori’s public performance element in her work. By shooting in Tokyo I had to put myself in new situations with language barriers and still produce high quality pieces. This helped develop my decision making skills and efficiency as a practitioner, for the two weeks I was constantly thinking about the images, costumes, locations and lighting.

I see this work as the prologue to an ongoing project, in the future I will develop different “looks” for my character that comment on new social issues. The longer this project lasts the more substantial is becomes, showing the timeless issue of consumerism, iconography and company manipulation. I hope the project will travel back to Japan and across to other consumer giant cities.

‘Interchangeable Icons’ suits its transmedia result by commenting on consumerism and adaptable characters. I am asking the audience to get involved and physically engage with the doll and cards thus hopefully making their minds engage with the message in my work. Online audiences can access a 3D interactive image of the figurine and view the trading cards and images via my website. The reason I transformed this project into an online experience is because of the pre-existing market, ‘Otaku Sanctuaries’ showed how I can use my position as a fan to tap into this online community via forums, social media and blogs.

The production of the artefacts has been a learning curve. The electro luminescent panels I bought did not present my work in the best way due to the low quality of print. I learnt from this and reprinted the images with a reliable London based printing company, changing to Kodak Metallic paper, which adds a robotic surreal nature to the images, perfect for the issues regarding consumerism, Cities and doll-like icons. The figurine was produced with external professional help which led to it’s high quality production. The creation of the clothing and the painting was something I could get involved in, adding my own skills and personal touch to the artefact.

When I entered University I was unconfident and not taking risks this project has given me the experience and confidence in my skills that I can take forward into my professional career.

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