Monday, 9 January 2012

What's your story? the joys of automated directives

Yesterday I watched a video of the incredibly bubbly and enthusiastic illustrator and educator  Kate Bingaman Burt, assistant professor of graphic design at Portland State University, lecturing on the subject of "automated directives"............

Portland/CreativeMornings - Kate Bingaman Burt from CreativeMornings/Portland on Vimeo.

She describes the value of directives, which are self-imposed, on her creative process. By limiting her work within defined criteria, she produces bodies of work that have a purpose, are fun and that lead to new ideas and new bodies. For example, she has photographed all of the "free boxes" that she finds outside homes around her home town, and then sometimes goes on to draw the contents.

She clearly has a brain that works a little like mine; I have an idea to photograph all the litter on the street around my block, but as yet the project hasn't really inspired me. Above all she stresses that any project that you set yourself has to come from being obsessed and finding what you love, otherwise it will go no-where.

Marlboro © Caroline Fraser 
The key to working in this way is that there should be

  • a restriction on format; if photographs, then she advises not to get too hung up on how they are taken
  • a framework for content 
  • a restriction on tools used
  • ideally a sharing and engagement with those who view the work
She describes this process as one that will allow you to surprise yourself.

I wonder how it differs from photographic typologies, such as those of Nigel Shafran's "compost series" or the Becher's water towers

from Nigel Shafran's compost series

Becher's water towers
I am not sure that there is a difference, as typological works seem to meet the criteria that she sets above. She does , however, use her material to inspire new projects, drawings and graphic projects such as e-zines and books , creating something new and, as she says, ideally coming full circle with her material, bringing what she has produced back to where it originates from, such as a supermarket chain stocking objects that use her designs inspired from a project that started in the supermarket with a look at consumerism and what people buy.

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