Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cadillac Thesis Film: The Introduction

The first film produced about the project! The ball is now rolling, the script has been put to paper, and now it is time to start producing the final film and designing the pieces!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Video Sketch Two: Learning After Effects and Shooting Styles!

I've been busy at work learning After Effects over the past two days and have gotten just enough experience to give a shot at tracing lines over a car! So far, I've had many conversations discussing the need to develop a way of communicating over video that will translate what goes on in my mind when I look at a Cadillac. I've learned that the project should turn into some film or visual media that will basically help other people "see what I see," and that is a hard thing to communicate. The goal has been to find a way to shoot video of a car that will help an audience experience a car as realistically as possible. Here is a second attempt at this. The quality is rough, but I've already learned a lot from it.

Here's some views of Cody's 2007 CTS:

Cadillac Study Test Two from Mike Herbert on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cadillac Design Evolution Preview

Last spring I began my study of Cadillac's brand language and styling by creating a styling evolution video that shows sketches of a Cadillac sedan from one of its earliest iterations, such as 1917, and show it "grow up" through the years until its current design in 2014. This is a preview of the work in progress:

Cadillac Design Evolution Preview from Mike Herbert on Vimeo.

Off Topic: Albania Trip

Last summer I spent a month in Albania filming videos for Josiah Venture, we have many videos being edited from the trip, but here are some of the ones we have done so far!

Here's our site:

60seconds from Grace film crew on Vimeo.

The Stories - JV Albania from Grace film crew on Vimeo.

The Story

The first semester of my final year of school has just begun! Lots of research, experiences and learning behind me, and much more ahead, only now its time to start doing something with all of it. Over the course of the next 3 months, this will be the place where my story is recorded. In the world of film we have something called "raw footage." Its usually flat-looking, not inspiring and still needs to be fixed, but its fresh and exciting because its new and genuine. This is most likely how this blog will look to most people, photos may not be edited, videos may be rough and drawings may need to be fixed, but my hope is that its interesting.

The plan for the semester is to be working on a film that works as my design thesis. Design thesis projects at Columbia College are very problem-solution oriented, and they generally always involve a product that will result at the end. My project is a little more ambiguous than this, because I'm hoping to blend my two majors - Product Design and Film/Video - into a solid project.

What I'm planning on doing is to make 4 different things, and create a film project that not only explains it all, it becomes as valuable as the things I've made themselves.

The projects may be mainly a styling exercise, but the film should illustrate the styling exercises in such a way that instructs us all what styling and designing is, as well as serve as an engaging film in and of itself. Just like Batman! (actually, not really like Batman, but hopefully more of a story than most car commercials)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Object Lab Day 4 - Object Lessons and The Last Day at Chipstone

Everything we had been experiencing and learning all week came together today into a nice connective picture. The first thing we did when we got to the house was getting introduced to three different decorative arts and material culture scholars from Yale, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and University of Wisconsin Madison. Just as the three men and women introduced themselves and told us their stories of what they do and how they got there, I realized I wanted to ask them so many questions about design and meaning but had no idea what questions to ask.

What we started doing this morning was followed each scholar to a different object they chose throughout the house. 

We first revisited the 18th century side table one of the groups blindly analyzed on day two,

What was so interesting was how much significance this piece could have even though it was not exactly a craftsman piece. It was a hodgepodge of material and detail choices, much like how people mix and match their features on a new automobile they ordered. 

It was so cool to look into the story that this piece told as we dissected what it was made out of and how the manufacturer ran his furniture business and how that met the tastes wealthy New Englanders from the 18th century had for custom furniture and a creative blend of neoclassicism and mythology symbols. This picture shows the bronze leafing painted onto the ebonized wood, and how the designs reflect in the mirror.

We learned that these tables would never be put in a dining room because the Lyre communicates the atmosphere of music and hospitality, intended for a parlor.

When do you ever get to turn a museum furniture piece upside-down?

After doing that we discovered the continuation of neoclassical themes down to the imitation bronze feet, and the various ways gold leaf can be done with different underlays (the feet's leaves are grey underneath whereas the swan/lyre has yellow under it)

After that we went upstairs to analyze a Massachusetts Card Table,

There were many amazingly interesting levels to this piece, but some of the coolest things I took away from the analysis was the social act of playing on a card table like this, where the shape of the table effects the social context, and how the multiple lives of this table relate to the design (which came in handy later in the day).

We were told to all sit at the table as if we were playing a card game (4 at a time)

And then as we sat in the various seats, we realized how the leg placement creates a social hierarchy and automatically sets up relationships around the table. If you look closely you can see everyone sitting on the sides (right and left) is looking towards the person at the top of the table (bottom right, where the folding leg comes out). This also set up the realization that candles impacted the design of table tops, as this table has square corners with depressions carved for candles to light the game (since it would be used mainly at night).

Next we went downstairs and sat around a tea table.

This was especially insightful because we got deeper into the social context of the table. We looked at this table in many ways, through its craftsmanship - the amazing mahogany wood grains (from its cellular structure) and perfect carving artistry, as well as what it was like to own a tea table. We learned how much etiquette played into the use of this piece of furniture, and it had potential to impact a person's life either negatively or positively.

At the tea table, etiquette graces could either banish a country bumpkin from the family name or bring a woman into the social elite of the neighborhood.

Along with the hierarchy of whoever had the role of pouring the tea (the woman who held the teapot had command of the situation), the tea table also was the way wealthy women in early America could reach genteel status in society. Also, just as we had discussed with the card table, the way this table was formed impacted the experience of using it. If tea was served at a nighttime occasion, which was common, the way a center candle would light up peoples' faces and reflect off of shiny ceramics on the table brought a deeper drama to the personal experience of having tea with people. Even though we kept the room lights on, Ann opened our eyes to realize that light has a large impact on our experience of furniture and our social interactions around it.

After lunch, Sarah gave an inspiring presentation on Object Learning, and showed us that it had been what we were doing all week long at Object Lab. Basically we had been learning concepts and relationships with larger things by studying objects, and she set up the strategy of what we were doing all week:

Step One: Basic Descriptions and Initial Observations (Experienced at the Milwaukee Art Museum when we sat in chairs and took in the whole museum)
Step Two: Description of Physical Qualities (Experienced from the blind touch observations and sensory purchase at the antique store)
Step Three: Investigation of Associate Qualities (Historical and Metaphorical, experienced at the Koehler Art Center and This morning's workshops with the scholars)
Step Four: Classifying and Arranging (Experienced at the MOWA museum, where a reinvented art museum shows us how they classified their art exhibits purposefully)
Step Five: Synthesis (this was the next step, to explain the significance of what we observed)

We then were told to go outside for a little while while the filmmakers got ready to make short films about our object lessons. When we came back, we were grouped in threes and brought to our objects. Ours was this extremely intriguing table,

Which folded open!

We then went crazy with analyzing and observing it. Going through each step, we uncovered meaning after meaning, and discovered the material, function, age and even region and type of owner this table belonged to. What Peter (our overseeing scholar) kept asking us was "what is this thing?" and we kept dismissing the question for deeper discussion on its symbolism and architectural relationships. Once we started to realize it reflected a mannerist, literary mindset, we realized it could have been a desk. At that moment, Peter told us to open the drawer (which was concealed), and what we found was ink stains!

The whole process will be explained in the video, but what we basically came to was that this table was a 17th century writing desk that would have been owned by a very wealthy governor or someone living in a city like Boston in New England.

After filming, Peter told us that this table was in fact one of two known surviving American desks or livery tables from the 17th century, and would have been owned by the thin upper crust of New England society. Its quite a valuable table, apparently the only other one is on display at the Met, and we were touching it and moving it all around the house! Afterwards, we were all reflecting on how being able to interact with the furniture in very real ways helped us really understand it in its entirety.

Apparently thats one thing that Chipstone really likes to do when they educating, which I think is amazing. Sarah asked us what we learned from the week, and it was really great to start to see how we figured out how to observe and analyze well, as well as find a deep appreciation and understanding of Early American Decorative Arts.

After we talked about the week, we went to the carriage house garage for a BBQ, but first, we found finished spoons John had made. These were really cool to see, and each one had its own personality, which John said comes from observing the wood after its split. I'm definitely planning on making some spoons for fun when I get the chance. Apparently its a nice relaxation activity.

Overall, the week was really an amazing experience, and I'm so thankful for Chipstone for giving me the opportunity. We all really bonded well over the week, learned a ton, found a great camaraderie in our similar passion for art objects and history, and I think we all could say we came out of it pretty transformed in ways of seeing things. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Object Lab Day 3 - Exciting Interpretations

Today we seemed to be acting primarily as art curators in two different museums in Wisconsin. The first was the Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, and the second the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend. It was a less photographic day at Object Lab, because they didn't allow cameras. So I'm pulling images from websites.

When we first visited the Kohler Art Center we were instructed to go into three different installations to pull three words describing each art piece.

My group first explored this installation:

We came up with the words "Frozen, Swelling, Gathering" and a few others. We thought it looked like a sea swelling and shooting out waves of water, as well as movements of earth plates that create mountains and valleys. It was amazing to be in the space.

After coming up with names, we were told the name of the artists and the title: Rush to Rest by Kavanaugh and Nguyen. Here is a video from the museum's site about the piece:

The next installation was this large glowing, white Tyvek and metal thing:

At first we were completely drawn into the sculpture. We stood inside its tentacles and talked about how it felt like we were in a sea anemone. Eventually, we came to the three words "Protecting, Resting and Exclusive." 

Later on we were told the sculpture was made by John Grade and is titled "Capacitor." It had a complicated mechanism that was supposed to create gentle movements, but the machine had broken down. What came out of the experience was an insight of how natural organisms, like the cellular coccolithophore can defend us against the perils of weather. 

This is a coccolithophore:

Apparently it was what this sculpture was inspired off of.

Sometimes they can be seen inside boats... actually no, this is just another artistic interpretation from somewhere on the web. 

The next installation we explored was this one:

I found this sculpture amazing. When we walked into the room, (to the left) all we saw was black grass, then we followed the grass and found this room full of black flowers, ponds and ribbons. Then, the next room had tall black flowers all perfectly straight and in same height rows to look like a cube. (sorry, I couldn't find a photo)

After taking in the piece, I started to feel a sense of dread and grief in it. I started to notice the contradiction with the black flowers. Once I realized that flowers should be happy and colorful, I realized this garden must be grieving. It also must be like a person who has to live with death all around them once a loved one dies. My words I came up with were "Grieving, Sprawling and Frenetic." There were many other ideas I was pulling out of the piece, but it made me think of how I noticed the tendency of some people fighting for control by becoming frenzied with making things "okay" in life. This of course doesn't apply to all, I started to notice that struggle inside this part of the garden, as if the person was trying to cope with an over-abundance of "joy" that may just be disorderly and unrested. Ever experience that feeling? What was even more interesting was how the cube of carnations in the next room contrasted with this garden. It seemed to reach rested consonance with the presence of black. It still carried it, but it was at peace compared to this middle garden.

What amazed me was how different the real intent was, yet how much it could still relate to the process of grieving. The Artist's name was Lauren Fensterstock, and the name of the piece is "Celebration of Formal Effects, Whether Natural or Artificial." The installation told the story of how unnatural the phenomenon of modern gardening and lawn-keeping is. It was about the contradiction between control and things you can't control. The grass represents the manicured American Lawn and the middle part tells the story of 18th century British "Ruinous Gardens" that are controlled vegetation intended to be "more beautiful than nature itself" (from the description).

Black covers all of these paper plants because it is the one unnatural color we find in plants, besides a few details here and there. As I started to take in these explanations from the curator, I started to see how this all relates to my own personal narrative I picked up. Of course black wouldn't be a natural color, and of course we would relate it to death, its all about the absence of color and light! Thinking about this, as well as the story of the fight for control that the piece was telling, I tied together the thread of how unnatural death actually is, and how nature might even tell us that. 

If this piece is telling me that the control of nature in unnatural, and this piece also made me walk through what it is like to live life in the wake of loss and death, then a second narrative that points to how we weren't meant to experience death in our lives wouldn't be too far fetched, right? The only reason why this wouldn't seem completely crazy is from the biblical theology that points out that our world is in its broken state. When Christians refer to "living in a fallen world" this is what they are meaning: things aren't the way they are supposed to be when the world was originally created. We can see glimpses in how the world should have been, through good relationships, great food, etc. but there is still an element of brokenness, be it terrible storms, sickness, loneliness, etc.

Here is a video about the garden installation: