March 5, 2011

Self-directed Project Brief.

I have had the chance to live and explore two countries due to my education. Because of the choices I have made I had the chance to explore two different European cultures. Therefore my Final Major Project is focusing on the differences and similarities of the countries Germany and England and the stories and people I have experienced and met.

The aim of the outcome is determined to be both humorous and critical, as I am looking at the ideas of stereotypes, cultural differences and prejudice. As my idea evolved from personal background and experiences I am determined to find an angle of communication that is interesting to me and also exciting for others. I will be looking at visual differences, ‘What’s looks different’ also ‘How do we feel about the other’ and ‘Why do we feel this way’. 
I’d like to explore why we, sometimes unexplained, feel a certain way about another culture. My initial idea is an illustrated outcome, as I have been interested in the medium of illustration throughout my degree and also planning on keeping up working with illustration in the future. The use of illustration also represents my personal preference in design and links to my subject, which is personal and important to me. I want to create a balance between exploring the fun aspects in both cultures and also exposing a rather critical side to the portrayed stereotypes and problems between the two cultures. This I am aiming to present in an interesting mix of ideas to others, both Germans and English and anyone else who is interested in design and culture. Here is to add, that the outcome is determined to have a universal language, by using imagery, however, as I am very interested in typography both languages German and English will be incorporated.

As a starting point in visual research visiting the Goethe institute in South Kensington London, and exploring German influences in London. Also German restaurants and their owners are spread over the city, so that I have a number of places and spaces to begin gathering primary and visual research from Germans in London. For this particular research I have to gain a vast amount of primary research that I have to obtain from people who live outside of England. To do this, social networking will come in very handy as I can gain a lot of information from people in both countries quick and for free. The other part of my research is a theoretical approach; I am looking at stereotypes, prejudice and stereotyping and therefore looking at Charles Stangor who discussed these topics in a number of essays. Also the writings in Of mimicry and man: the ambivalence of colonial discourse by Homi Bhabha can give me interesting viewpoints on cultural movement, colonialism and stereotyping. I also will be incorporating insights of the historical backgrounds in both countries and how these effect our conception of their cultures. Here I have a lot of information to gather starting from the wars and the political differences in the past and in the present. I can explore subculture identities developed in Britain such as Rave or Punk and how this has become part of the German youth culture. At this stage I am able to research and include a number of essays by Dick Hebdige, Sabine Von Dirke and Mark Fenemore. Visually, any illustration, posters and design work from both countries can give me an interesting insight and will affect my work. It helps that Germany and England are both countries with a lot of good design, produced in the past and present. Resources such as books, places, articles and exhibitions to gather research of the arts from both countries are greatly available in London. I have previously researched a few artists who have worked on a similar approach due to their cultural heritage. For example; Yang Liu, who explored the differences between China and Europe in her book east meets west.
To an extent I am aiming towards a similar approach that is given in east meets west, which is mainly a collective of ideas of difference. For my work I will explore this topic further by incorporating ideas that will make the viewer laugh, reconsider prejudices and to learn exciting attributes about the two cultures.

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