THE NATIONAL GALLERY

January 19, 2017 in CTS - Victoria

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The National Gallery located in London’s Trafalgar Square was where this CTS lesson was held. Inside the gallery we worked in groups of four or five where we were given a quote and then a task relating to that quote to complete within a certain room. Below is all the quotes, tasks, rooms, images and outcomes of this visit.

Think about it:

“True design literacy requires a practical and theoretical understanding of how design is made and how it functions as a marketplace tool as well as a cultural signpost, which takes years of learning and experience to acquire” – Steven Heller.

Prepare a critical review of the space / environment. Explain why you think it is or isn’t a good example of its type. Identify and analyse its strengths and weaknesses, and make reference to other examples if appropriate.

Room 4, Germany

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All paintings around this room are situated at eye level and spaced out accordingly / evenly around the room. There is natural light from the glass roof & spotlights for individual paintings to emphasise where you’re meant to be looking (at the paintings). There was a documentary about the national gallery which talks about the lighting, explaining that it is controlled so that the paintings themselves don’t get damaged. It is one just one of the design features within the gallery that is there to aid the artwork. Space around each painting is relevant to the size of the painting itself, for example the larger the image the more blank space there is around the edges of it. The benches in the room face towards what they want you to look at, the painting on the far right hand side wall has the whole wall to itself with a bench facing that wall. All the paintings are grouped by the artist who painted them and within that they are ordered chronologically.


Decisions, decisions

“Typography is what language looks like.” – Ellen Lupton

Using the attached extracts from Thinking with type, assess and explain the typography used in this space. Consider the anatomy, size, scale, classifications and combinations of the typefaces used, as well as the type’s character and the ways in which it contributes to branding and identity.

Room 23, Rembrandt and Rembrandt Shool

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75Looking at an extract from the book ‘Thinking with Type’, we then analysed the description plaques for each painting within the room. We found that the text is very small and can feel crammed or squashed together, for someone with bad eyesight it could also be very hard to read at times. Making the text bigger and well spaced out with solve this problem and make it easier to read. The largest text on the plaque is the number for the spoken description / hearing aid, however this is not the most relevant part of the description. The title, artist, description and media should be sized in order of relevance. Speaking to one of the museum curators, he also agreed that the small text can cause a lot of problems for people trying to read it. There is no differentiation or individuality within the typefaces the match the paintings themselves, they all consist of a basic sans-serif font. When looking on the galleries website, it states that the typefaces used are designed for accessibility purposes rather than aesthetically pleasing to the eye, it is plain and simple so that they don’t detract from the paintings themselves.


A sense of belonging

“The illusion of a social preference for light music as against serious is based on that passivity of the masses which makes the consumption of light music contradict the objective interest of those who consume it. It is claimed that they actually like light music and listen to the higher type only for reasons of social prestige, when acquaintance with the text of a single hit song suffices to reveal the sole function this object of honest approbation can perform. The unity of the two spheres of music is thus that of an unresolved contradiction.” – Theodor Adorno.

Identify the contexts that are at play in the identity of your group. These may be personal backgrounds, musical tastes, educational levels, affluence, nationality, languages or something else completely. How can you connect or relate these contexts to the space or place you are now in, or to an object within that space?

Room 43, Van Gogh and Cézanne

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For this tasks we each spoke about our backgrounds and that made us realise that the individual paintings that we were interested in were influenced by what else we were interested in. For example, Elliot said that he had been to the gallery before but for a rave rather than to actually look around. He said that the paintings were all removed from the rooms before so that the equipment could be set up, because of this he was drawn to certain rooms within the gallery, and likewise specific paintings that reflect his musical influences as well. It was interesting to see why each person liked completely different pieces of art and how that related to their backgrounds.


Reasoned action

“Communication is largely formed by the unreasoned action. Therefore the formation of a concept which strives for a more independent forming of opinions, requires besides the analysis of the existing production relations an unceasing reflection on that empirical experience. in this way it will be possible, amidst the shifting and opposing corporate interests – and at the same time being dependent upon them – to develop politico-cultural criteria and strategies which will open new space for proffessional action in the media. Action starting from a non-authoritarian attitude towards the public and not concealing its own mediating role.” – Jan van Toorn.

Identify the ways in which media is present in this space, and the messages they are trying to communicate. To what extent are these messages overt or concealed? How could these messages be communicated more subtly or more overtly? How could the ‘mediating role’ of the medium be made obvious to the viewer?

Room 41, Manet, Monet and the Impressionists

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This task was very hard but the conclusion that we came up with was that the artists messages are conveyed in the type of painting that it is. For example, a pointillism piece could be seen as more serious than one with long brush strokes, the artists themselves have painted to convey their experience so that the viewer can feel the same way that they did. These artists have painted their feelings rather than for realism. The typography around the room is very conservative, easy to maintain and simple, it is secondary to the paintings themselves.


Get outta here

“Multiple Signatures is an attempt at a collection not bound by the definition of our studio, in the form of a monograph; by a particular chronology; or by the limitation of my own creativity and insight. It is a project instigated by me but co-authored by many people I respect and admire, both living and in some cases, not.” – Michael Rock.

How would you present the experience of being in this space in a way that can be transmitted? Remember that transmission is not necessarily digital.

Room 34, Great Britain 1750-1850

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The whole room has a very historic feel and gives an educational experience showing the range of different paintings, era’s, artists, information and styles that are within the room. There are many different ways that the experience could be displayed outside the gallery including making a website or video etc.

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Some people have their own ways of doing this by painting within the gallery being inspired by the paintings that surround them:

Another example of taking the gallery experience outside of the gallery itself is that Turners painting featured in this room is actually going to be on the new £20 note. This is a perfect example of for this tasks. This is the painting that is said to be featured:

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