Contextual Studies

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Modernising Modernism

This image denotes a dictionary definition of ‘running away’. Whilst the image is quite boring the connotations in this context are amusing. When we were first given the brief, I was excited as starting new projects is always a new experience. I am new to graphic design, therefore I am constantly learning new things and slowly improving my skills. On the other hand, this does mean I am overwhelmed by such a large project. I have never done a project like this before. Like a ‘fight or flight’ situation, I am excited to create something new and work on a large project. But also, I have an urge to run away.


Psychoanalytic theory in art

‘The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one seventh of its bulk underwater’ – Sigmund Freud

Foundations of psychology

Nicky Hayes

page 8 chapter 1

During the period Freud was creating this theory, artists where exploring modern art and the deeper meanings behind the images they created. Sigmund Freud proposed that the mind is comprised of the conscious and subconscious. The balances between the ego, id, and superego in the subconscious influence the decisions we make. Artists interpret this by using symbolism and other semantics in their imagery that show a deeper meaning that can be drawn from the art. Psychoanalytic theory emphasises the significance of the subconscious mind and what images can imply in modernism.


‘From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs’ – Karl Marx

Historical dictionary of socialism

James C. Docherty, Peter Lamb

Page 57

The main idea behind communism is that companies and production they create is owned equally by every member of a state. The aim of this is to collapse the class system that capitalism creates. Ideally each person should contribute and receive what they need. Abolishing capitalism means wealth would be equally distributed rather than large businesses receiving all the money whilst exploiting workers. Overall, communism is a great theory with good intentions but fails in practice.


When asked to write an essay, this is how I feel

For this title I decided to make a poster denoting the heading ‘I have no ideas’. In the background there is a mountain range, the foreground shows a pile of paper with hands sticking out of it holding a sign saying ‘help’. The connotations of this image explain the challenge and feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of work. I felt that mountains where an appropriate metaphor for this due to their large scale. Furthermore, the image disappears off into the horizon, this shows the difficulty I feel with reaching the end of an essay, Especially projects with a large word count. I chose to have the foreground image as it represents the drafts that I feel that I must do before I have produced a good piece of work. I find writing essays stressful, especially if there is more than one to complete. The person holding the sign represents this idea of pressure because of the amount of work. The title ‘I have no ideas’ was used as I run out of topics to write about very quickly. I chose to do the text red as it matched the red text in the image, I also tried to find a similar font. I used bright colours to give the image a surreal comedic value. This contrasts with the themes behind the image as despite how much I dislike writing essays, I feel that they are worthwhile and are advancing my skills.

When asked to create a piece of visual work, this is how I feel

The title of this image also plays on the idea of feeling ‘overwhelmed’. The image shows a woman smiling sheepishly in front of some complicated looking machinery. She has a light bulb above her head signifying that she has an idea. This relates to my thoughts on creating visual pieces of work as I can think of ideas but the process of creating it on software is complicated to me. I struggle with adobe software which is why I have chosen this image of lots of computers. 

Jack daniels- value in visual culture

Jack Daniels is an iconic brand of whiskey that has value in modern and historical visual communication. Is recognisable due to its distinctive packaging. The bottle was embossed to connotate sophistication, the aim of this was to stand out from competition. Furthermore, the rectangular bottle creates uniqueness but also has benefits as it is easier to package. The bottle denotes a black background with white text and decorative embellishments, this hasn’t changed much during the products history. The connotations of this are that the brand values tradition, heritage, and craftsmanship. This is also shown as “Tennessee” is the same size font as “whiskey”. The history of the brand is just as significant as the product itself furthermore the location the product is made in is referenced multiple times on the bottle.

Additionally, the “old No.7” written on the neck of the bottle denotes the barrel the whiskey came from strengthening the concept of heritage. The edges of the bottle denote “every drop made in Lynchburg, Tennessee” and “quality craftsmanship since 1866”. The Jack Daniel’s brand is emphasising the skill it takes to make the whiskey and the human expertise used, (rather than machinery).

To conclude, the historical value is one of the main selling points of the brand. People in modern society value nostalgic products with a human touch.

The context of an object includes the object and its relation to its surroundings. For example, the history of the object; how and where it is made and the environment it is used in. In my example, (Jack Daniels’s) history has made a large impact on the success and downfalls of the product. The prohibition from 1911-1940 and the second world war both caused the factories to close, this had massive economic impact on the now successful brand. This links into the geographical and ecological context of the object. The culture of the country greatly influences the design, use and the environmental impact it creates. For example; the Kikkoman Soy Sauce bottle has a very strong Japanese aesthetic which is greatly influenced by Ekuan’s (the bottle designer) childhood in Japan. Furthermore, the social-cultural, religious, and political influences on design should be considered when looking at the context of an object. Only in 2016 was it confirmed that Nathan Green was a main influence in teaching Daniel’s how to make whiskey. This was a controversy then and now due to tensions between African Americans and white people in America.

The ideologies of a brand are very significant when looking at the context of an object. The way a project is presented and promoted should show what the values of the company are. Jack Daniel’s have not changed the bottle graphic showing they value tradition. On the other hand, the metaphorical and philosophical context of the object includes what the consumers think the object represents and what things are associated with it. Jack Daniel’s is associated with music icons such as Lemmy Kilmister. It also has a high alcohol content and is associated with irresponsible drinking.

To conclude, the context of an object is more complex than it first appears and has great impact on how and why a product is designed in a certain way.

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