Tag Archives: Adolescence

Ideas/Concept – Newton’s Cradle

As mentioned in an earlier post, I wished to use the image of the school plimsols hanging in the tree because it reminded me of my awkward school years as a child.  I was also surprised by how much these memories still effect how I perceive the world around me and how negative experiences can continue to haunt an individual and impact one’s  life regardless of the years that pass.

On watching the plimsolls swaying in the wind, it reminded me of a Newton’s Cradle – the shoes acted as the suspended spheres while the laces took the place of the wires.

Newton's Cradle. Photograph by Helanie Moore
Newton’s Cradle. Photograph by Helanie Moore

In terms of semiotics and visual metaphor, I felt that the Newton’s Cradle could also signify a singular, central figure surrounded by ongoing tension.

This could be applied to life experiences and in the case of the narrative I had created with the regard to the shoes, it could also relate to how a vulnerable adolescent may feel at school.

In David Chandler’s book Semiotics: the basics he highlights how the visual metaphor is used in film and advertising:

Metaphor need not be verbal.  In film, a pair of consecutive shots is metaphorical when there is an implied comparison of the two shots. For instance, a shot of an aeroplane followed by a shot of a bird flying would be metaphorical, implying that the aeroplane is (or is like) a bird.  So to would a shot of a bird landing accompanied by the sound of an airport tower and of a braking plane […] As with verbal metaphors we are left to draw our own conclusions as to the points of comparison (Chandler, 2007, p127)

There is also the idea of time passing with the continuous ticking as the spheres hit each other.  This could relate to the idea of how earlier experiences can be carried throughout life – consciously and subconsciously.  Also, as a child – I know from my own experience that time seemed to pass really slowly and it felt like I was at school forever.  However, as an adult I have noticed that it seems time passes a lot quicker – even though there is no actual slowing or quickening of time in reality.

Chandler also cites linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson’s principles of metaphor which I could consider in my work:

Text taken from: Chandler, D. (Semiotics: The Basics) p128
Text taken from: Chandler,  D. (2007) Semiotics: The Basics. New York: Routledge, p128

In their book Metaphors We Live By Lakoff and Johnson also discuss how one’s “conceptual system […] is fundamentally metaphorical by nature” and is not something we are necessarily aware of (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, p3).  I found this train of thought extremely interesting in terms of how our conscious and subconscious perception works and how this relates to how one makes comparisons to things they come across on a daily basis without even realizing – much like my own experience of the plimsolls and Newton’s Cradle.

References:

Chandler,  D. (2007) Semiotics: The Basics. New York: Routledge

Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980) Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago

CURA300 Studio Practice Initial Ideas – Plimsolls

In my practical work I have often been interested in communicating ideas around social well-being through the use of recognizable symbols.  I also use my own experiences as a source of inspiration, but try to use ideas which could be cross-transferable to individuals.  Using objects, images and symbols I aim to create a narrative open to interpretation but which the viewer could perhaps empathize or find some familiarity within the work.

In terms of perception and objects, I had come across something which had created a narrative within my mind and brought about uncomfortable memories of my adolescent school days.  The ‘phenomenon’ in question was a pair of plimsolls (black trainer shoes) hanging from a tree that I had noticed over the past two years when walking my daughter to school.  For some reason and perhaps because of my own experiences, my perception of these plimsolls gave me a troublesome feeling in the pit of my stomach.  On witnessing these abandoned shoes I built up a narrative in my head that they had got there, through some kind of bullying incident between school children.  That perhaps a group of ‘popular’ kids had stolen the shoes from a vulnerable classmate and lobbed them in the tree for a laugh – much to the dismay of the shoe-less child.  I, of course cannot be sure of how these shoes had got in the tree and for all I knew, someone could have chucked their own shoes in the tree in the hope that their parents would buy them a new pair.  Nevertheless, I could not help feeling some sense of empathetic trauma every time I passed the tree.

Plimsolls hanging in tree. Photograph by Helanie Moore
Plimsolls hanging in tree. Photograph by Helanie Moore

I did not particularly enjoy my years at secondary school and was never one of the popular kids.  I was also subjected to bullying because of my religious upbringing which made me an easy target for prejudice and harassment.

With this in mind, I felt I could use this image in my practical work because of the strong effect it had had on me and perhaps it could potentially have some relevance to other people too.