Filming GreenPeace…How to Change the World

For Green week, I went to see director Jerry Rothwell discuss his new documentary film ‘How to change the World’.  The short film being based on Green Peace and the groups first ever acts in 1970’s that defined it as one of the most influential modern environmental movements. The film included lots of primary Green Peace archives from the early days showing their anti whaling and anti sea cull campaigns. Although the footage was harrowing to watch, it was so inspiring to watch a group of no more than 10 campaigners sailing out into the ocean to stop the vast whale hunting ships. I was already interested in Whales and the campaigns for them since watching various documentaries about whales in captivity. However the clips i watched from ‘how to change the World’ were so sad yet inspiring that it makes me think that if a small group of passionate people can succeed against a massive ship of whale hunters, and consequently go on to create one of the greatest environmental movements what could I do to contribute today, and help continue the legacy they started.

soviet whale action in north pacific. Greenpeace boat next to cought whale and whaling ships

The film also highlighted the power of media, and how these clips bought the shocking truth of whale hunting to so many homes, as before it wasn’t known about or heard of. The ability we have today to simply share, or post something on social networking site allowing us to get messages out there shows how easily we could raise issues today.

The film offered the most real and shocking footage iv ever seen in a documentary, but i would definitely recommend people watch it, because although since green peace campaigns and regulations for whales and all animals have vastly improved, people presume this kind of violence doesn’t happen anymore, and its highlights how everyone should get contribute to green peace and environmental movements because its so much easier for us to help today.

 

 

PLASTIC FANTASTIC

Post war design became fixed on promising better life and the idea of a totally new beginning.  Designers described themselves as ‘slaves’ to the nation, fixing and solving problems, building a better future.

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New technologies such as injection moulding gave designers more opportunities in helping to make better lifestyles.

IN 1946 Earl Tupper designed ‘Tupperware’ which revolutionised way of life in post war homes, it allowed households to ‘Live in the future’ he showed that new technologies and materials such as acrylic, perspex, polystyrene and polyethanol could provide promise and a future. Plastic became the aesthetic and material that was at the centre of new lifestyle and culture. And by the end of the 1950’s tupperware was in 96% of American homes.

 

 

tupperware
Tupperware designed in 1946 by Early Tupper, embodied aspirations of post war culture
s chair vernon panton
S chair designed by Vernon Patton in 1959

 

The S chair designed by Vernon Patton reinstated the idea that designers should forget tradition, design was now about concepts and ideas, there was new technology and materials to play with. The idea that function came before form had been flipped which allowed designers to design for the future rather than stick with past and traditional ideas.

polyprop chair
Robin Day polyprop chair 1963

The polyprop chair now recognised and deeply routed in our design practice, has become one of the most iconic objects from the post war era, it represents, durability, quick and low cost production, socialism and function. it reflects the new technologies, productions and aesthetics of the era. Portraying the idea that plastic promised liberation for both designers and consumers.

South Bank centre

The South Bank centre was designed and built in 1951 to facilitate the festival of Britain 1951. It was designed by a committee led by Gerald Barry, who believed strongly in modernism, and he emphasised the importance of including young designers within the plans. The south bank centre architecturally embodies the modernist style, its simple form and structure, unadorned aesthetics and brutalist materials make it up to be one the most successful public spaces in London today. The fact that the architects and designers were able to construct a centre that still lives up to expectations of a communal space sixty years on is a great achievement for a time of post war austerity. The South bank centre creates a great impression on the south side of the river, the site for it being chosen originally because it was so badly bombed and run down, now makes as much statement as the opposite, ornamented and classical side. The somerset house being directly opposite not only in distance but also aesthetics. The Royal festival hall is striped back to its core, designers found intellectual satisfaction in the simplicity of it. Design elements such as strip windows and pilloti exemplify modernist architecture, this simple Grade 1 listed building was designed to be a ‘visual representation of sound in an abstract form’ As well as conceptually replicating sound the building also had to practically improve and enhance the sound within, with the auditorium being at the centre of the structure a stylised roof was formed to help sound and audio inside. However although the exterior gets mixed reviews, the interior space is undeniably one of Europe’s largest centres for the arts, the fact that the interior is so successful derives from its structure and form. the space is open and welcoming, it is a versatile space, when being designed it was envisaged that the building would get utilised for lots of different uses thus was constructed to be versatile. The simple aesthetics allow for people to use the space as the need or wish, meaning everyone and anyone can make the space their own. The complexity of all the levels leading from the various staircases create intimate, open, quiet, social and so on type spaces that allow for anyone to come and make use of it and spend time there. This technique of formulating disparate and distinctive spaces. The interior also lay emphasis heavily on materials and aesthetics, in contrast with the exterior, the inside in more ornamented. There is use of glass, marble, bronze, wood, carpet and lighting that makes it a more friendly and inhabitable space. Although the outside was designed to make an statement and impression, the inside was to be practical and useful as people were going to be using the space for years to come. the materials not only create the atmosphere but also allow it to be a hardwearing, durable environment that would stand the test of time. Overall i think this build is very successful example of modernism and one that lived up to expectations.

Post War Modernism

After the war left Britain in despair the government organised the Festival of 1951 to get people together and create a new beginning and start building the future. The festival gave an opportunity of escapism and colour to a usually grey London scene. A committee led by Gerald Barry was set up to run and organise the event, he believed in modernism and encouraged young designers and architects to take part in the festival. First they wanted to find a site, of which they chose a badly bombed site on south bank, they wanted to make the site as imposing as the opposite side of the bank. The intended to make the dull, bombed site a thriving and enriched place. Also to show the brighter side of Britain, a chance for designers to showcase their ideas during a time that did not allow them too. The Festival had to sustain the future of Britain and its future. The festival gave people who had spent years restricted by the war a sense of taste and reinstated an interest in design culture. Overall the radical festival was a good example of post war modernism and was a communal project that encouraged and enriched Britain.

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South Bank Centre
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Royal Festival Hall
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Hayward Gallery
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Interior of Royal Festival Hall

 

 

Machines for living 20’s & 30’s

MODERNISM    

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Bauhaus Movement 1919-1933

Bauhaus style later became one of the most influential currents in modern design, architecture and education. The defeat of Germany in World war 1 and under new liberal Weimar republic allowed upsurge of radical experimentation in all arts, Bauhaus moved away from ornamentation of Art Nouveau and expressed ideas of radical simplified forms, rationality and functionality.

Exemplifies the ideas of Bauhaus
Bauhaus Architecture Exemplifies the ideas of Bauhaus

marcel breuer chair

Tubular steel radicalised modernist design, it allowed designers to realise the ideal that art, furniture and architecture should be functional and simple. “A chair is half structure half product, where architecture and design meet”. It was believed that if you stripped away design to its core you show its integrity and quality.

die wohnung

In 1927 15 modernist Architects got to design a house that they thought portrayed modernist living and how people should use, and live in a home. They all expressed the idea that the home was a machine to live in,  that a home should be basic and flexible for life.

Heath Robinson  One piece - How to live in a flat 1936
Heath Robinson
One piece – How to live in a flat 1936

However Modernism did face criticism  when in 1936 Heath Robinson released a series of cartoons mocking simplistic, basic modernism and contrasted the radical movement with traditonal ideas that still existed. Although at the time modernism and bauhaus were very extreme and radical ideas, it changed the way designers think and allowed significant impact, unifying design and manafacture also introducing a new way of town planning and urban organising ready for post war modernism.

Art Nouveau

 

Art Nouveau most popular between 1890 and 1910, was an art movement that celebrated a new century, it was the total/ Gesamtkunstwerk art style that showcased a new modern century. The ideas that inspired Art Nouveau and its symbolism were based on nature, sensuality, female form, prostitution, and exploring the dark side of human nature. Art Nouveau became a mass produced, household style that incorporated all areas of design from jewellery, architecture,  furniture, fashion, and graphic arts.

 

theatre poster created by Alfonz Mucha
Sarah Bernhardt poster created by Alfonz Mucha, represents the Art Nouveau movement and showcases its symbolisms and motifs.

The artist in particular that realised the potential of art nouveau graphics and 2d arts was Alfonz Mucha, he was commissioned to design the poster for Sarah Bernhardts play,  and the final design represented everything Art Nouveau.

Critical essay written by Adolf Looz
Critical essay written by Adolf Looz

However although this modern art style was mass produced and very popular, some artists did not appreciate the new century ‘showcase’ art movement. Adolf Looz was an Austrian architect and very critical of the art nouveau style, writing an essay called Ornament and Crime, he refers to the style as being similar to degeneracy and crime. He expresses the idea that art nouveau is ornamentation and it is “no longer a product of our nature”.  The essay is important in articulating moralising views .

The Movement also had a vast impact on spatial and interior design, it was a ‘total’ art style that was incorporated into every aspect of design. Shops were fitted out in the Art Nouveau style treated to showcase the products just as it showcases the new modern century. Using modern and original materials such as glass, marble, lighting, exotic woods. Interiors were very stylised, unrealistic and dream like.

Dreamlike interiors were decedent, glamorous and original.
Dreamlike interiors were decedent, glamorous and original.