City Puppets

 ART5105 : City Puppets For this module you must look closely at the city of Birmingham and research the diversities of city living. Birmingham offers a unique platform for ideas and is socially and culturally rich and varied. While you are travelling or moving through the city, look around you and study the ‘workings’ of the city. Look at people, life styles, social activities, interactions, influences, groups of people, solitary people, mechanisms, machinery, animal life, club life etc. Following this research you must design and make a professionally constructed puppet, or a group of puppets that represent a niche of Birmingham life. Your puppet does not have to have human form. It could be animal or abstract but be sure that it is representational of the city. Your research could be about the structural mechanisms and alternative aspects as well as the people.

Developing Idea
I chose to focus on not necessarily Birmingham as a city but more about the people that live within it, specifically on the subject of workaholics. The type of people that go to work and continue to take that work home with them with the fear that any lack of commitment will result in them jobless. Is it necessary to be that obsessed with working routines that you let your personal relationships suffer as a result. I really want to look at the idea of loss of identity and getting caught in ‘the system’.
 Tony Oursler
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Using projection to Convey different human forms.
Tim walker
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David Curtis Ring
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Puppetry and set design David Curtis Ring
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Initial experiment on the subject: Loss of Identity
I decided to take pictures out of magazines and erase their faces using bleach and a scalpel to scratch them. On one i have added some writing questioning the things you may start to forget as you loose your identity and become obsessed with other parts of your life. I like the idea of still being able to see the persons clothes/style but having no clue to their identity and what their personality may be like.
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I want to focus on the idea of trying to Convey someone’s personality, likes and dislikes through a loss of identity. If we don’t have our looks and faces how will we get recognised?  can I get people to focus on ones personality and giving them an identity that way rather than it being based on looks?
Film research
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Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 18.51.58IRobot is a film based around a world made of cloned robots that all look the same but have completely different personalities. These are the kind of ideas I would like to focus on in my work.
A.I- Artificial Intelligence 
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A.I is all about a couple that cannot come to terms with their son Davids death and therefore result in bringing him back to life as a robot. However they soon find out their once beloved David is not quite the same the second time round and doesn’t conform to the sweet little boy they once new.
More inspiration 
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I decided to start making my own cloned figures in the casting workshop. After speaking to  Pete I was told I could make moulds and use porcelain clay to mass produce these figures. I decided to bring in a glass bottle of a male body I had as a practice and see how it went.
After learning about the procedure to making moulds and casting I started to experiment with my own 3D models.
I had to make a two part mould to make a full 3.D figure.
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Although one or two came out well, I found the technique difficult and had problems with getting the right thickness.
Most of the figures I made weren’t thick enough and were therefore very fragile and as I had thought about them being decorated this wasn’t really practical.
I decided to try and cast them in plaster of paris so they would be solid and alot stronger.
IMG_1292They turned out really well and the process was straight forward which meant I could mass produce them quickly so I decided to go with this method.

Artist Inspiration 

Antony Gormley- ‘Field for the british Isles’

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I love this piece and really love the way each individual clay figure has its own personality and has been moulded by a different person every time. I really like the idea of this intertwining in my work. Its about people becoming obsessed with their jobs/lifestyle and being taken over by their work and forgetting about other aspects of their life and who they really are.

I decided I wanted to make an army of figures that were all the same but then hand them out to my friends and family, telling them that they can decorate/scratch/paint/chop their figure in anyway as long as it reflects their personalities. I also thought about making a video that tied into the brief of city life as that is a running theme throughout my work and then projecting the video on to my figures.

Final Idea

After I had made a couple of figures I started giving them out to family and friends to decorate.



I started to get some great responses from people and therefore wanted to continue to hand out my figures and see individual responses to the task.


Production of the video 

I wanted my video to reflect the chaos of city life, rush hours and people within it. At first I started filming places in town that were always busy and were guaranteed to have lots of people.

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Though when I put all the clips together and edited it with music I found the video to literal, i wasn’t happy with it and it wasnt how I wanted my video to look either. So I decided to start again but this time film in the dark and just concentrate on city lights, pollution and abstract shots.

First video experiment:

Second video attempt 

FInal Video:

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I wanted the footage to be out of focus so vehicles and lights were nothing but blurred moving dots. I also thought about how it would look with my 3.D work and decided something abstract would work better.

Once I was happy with the footage I had chosen I started to edit the film in Adobe Premiere and add some music that I saw suitable so I could start producing my final film.

Possible presentation ideas

As i began to collect more and more of my decorated figures I started to think how I could present them with my video.




Although I like the idea of the hanging one, I think for both my video and 3.D work the middle presentation would work the best. Using a shelf to hold up my work and then project through the figures with the light reflecting on to them.

Final Video 

Final installation




Final video and 3D work





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