Art, the stage and the screen

The idea of being entertained sitting in front of a lit up screen may seem relatively new, but it appears in the form of shadow puppetry going back millennia. There are a number of independent traditions in a number of countries the examples above are from China and India.

Task 1

You will need: Thick paper or card, scissors or a sharp knife

Make a shadow puppet character inspired by the shadow puppet groups found here. Try to use intricate pattern work to bring out the play of light and silhouette.

Motion artist Rachel Lowe uses video to bring attention to the fleeting nature of the moving image, she films herself drawing layer upon layer of the scenery viewed through the car window. The artifact is the film and her fleeting drawings make us aware of it’s ephemeral nature.

Task 2

You will need: Pencils, thin paper (greaseproof/baking paper)

Place the thin paper over a TV set. Try to draw what is visible underneath. Work quickly to capture what you see as the images may move quickly. Overlap the images in a similar way to the way Rachel Lowe has done. If you don’t have a TV use a window, the nature of what you capture may change based on the activity outside.

The Man with the Golden Arm poster.jpg
Film titles are designed in such a way to give us cues about the film we are about to see. They set the scene and the mood in a very subtle way. A master of the form was Saul Bass, most famous for his work on the films by Alfred Hitchcock.

Task 3

You will need: Pencils, paper, paints or colored crayons

Choose a favorite film, design a movie poster for the film. Use Saul Bass’ approach to design, use bold colours and expressive letters. Think how the shape of the letters will set the mood for the film you have chosen.

The link between film and stage is very close. Before becoming a renowned filmmaker, Sergei Eisenstein started off making radical set designs for the theatre in Moscow. His designs reflect the social mood of the time but also the visual style that was prevalent in the early twentieth century in Russia. More examples of his sketches can be found here.

Task 4

You will need: Pencils, paper, paints or coloured crayons

Design a set for a play based on a favorite book. Think about an important scene and what elements you will make visible to the audience. As the set designs above show, you can work abstractly, think how you can complement the mood of the text you have chosen.