Undergraduate Work / Social Awareness
The assignment was to design a book that expresses a progression through three distinct emotional phases: calmness, happiness and anger. Based on passages from an inspiring song lyrics from Nirvana's "Lithium", which embodied the three emotional phases, the text served as the nature of my visual narrative dictated by the self-directed communication strategy. The visual components considered in this creative exploration were typography, format, texture, color, and media.
The directive was to use only original artwork and photography. With this in mind I used a variety of media, which consisted of acrylic paint, charcoal, Indian ink and pastel color sticks. In addition I shot various photos of textures inspired by the emotions.
Emerging in the mid-1980s grunge, also known as the Seattle sound, is a commercially popular, sub-genra of alternative rock. By the early 90s bands, such as Nirvana, Peal Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots, boosted the popularity of grunge. Lyrics exposed the angst-filled mood of the times and often addressed issues of social alienation and a desire for freedom.
Originally, I thought I would go with san serif, with both heavy and light weights, and playing with this idea of jaded edges. However, the course work required I explore various typefaces on behalf of the emotion at-hand. This also called for handwritten typography to both add depth and texture to the composition.
As seen from the compositions, exploration of both media and layout were in unison of the chosen lyrics. Many of the art pieces created for this project were complete with the song blaring in the background. From the beginning I knew the the colors would transition from warm between cool; the textures would be chaotic; and the shapes would vary from mellow and organic to hard and explosive sentiments.
Using the techniques explored during the first half of Alternative Design Approaches (GRDS 380), my strategy was to express the hopelessness, pain and rage this generation suffers from because of cyber-bullying.
About the Song
Lithium was written my Nirvana’s frontman, Kurt Cobain, recorded in 1990 and rerecorded in 1990. Riddled with self-loathing and depression the lyrics ranges from this happy sarcasm and the leads into piqued emotions. The song is about a dysfunctional man, who turns to religion while battling thoughts of suicide, after the death of his girlfriend. Interestingly enough the drug, lithium, is known to help regulate volatile mood changes and is prescribed to treat manic-depressive disorders.
Research on Suicide
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people with approximately 4,400 deaths every year. The CDC estimates that there are at least 100 suicide attempts for every suicide among young people.”
Research on Bullying
“Although kids who are bullied are at risk of suicide, bullying alone is not the cause. Many issues contribute to suicide risk, including depression, problems at home, and trauma history. Additionally, specific groups have an increased risk of suicide, including American Indian and Alaskan Native, Asian American, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. This risk can be increased further when these kids are not supported by parents, peers, and schools. Bullying can make an unsupportive situation worse.”
Statistics on Cyber-bullying
According to Sam Laird on Mashable Lifestyle provides statistics about cyber-bullying:
• 42% of teenagers with tech access report being cyberbullied over the past year
• 3 million kids per month are absent from school due to bullying
• 20% of kids cyberbullied think about suicide, and 1 in 10 attempt it.
• 4500 kids commit suicide each year
• Suicide is the No. 3 killer of teens in the US. (Car accidents #1, Homicide #2)
These strategic decisions are of a personal persuasion, as I have lost loved ones to suicide. It’s tragic to lose a loved one, but to lose them to suicide leaves the ones left behind with questions and feelings of failure.
Although the goal was to address the transition of life before and after the affects of cyber-bullying, I did feel it was important to provide hotline information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline—along with the caption, "It's tragic to lose a loved one, but to lose anyone to suicide leaves the ones left behind with unanswered questions and feelings of failure."
Photos of the Printed Book
I had a great time putting this together. First, instead of using an exacto knife to crop the pages, I used a scoring tool and a straight edge for a controlled rip in order for all the edges to have ragged cuts. For binding I used four safety pins, which I thought was aproppos to the styling of the 90s and grunge rock. Using a dentist's tool, I scratched the surface of the paper with additonal markings and messages. Lastly, the stage for the photo shoot was a concrete slab.