A dérive is an unplanned journey. It is a form of experiencing and studying social and urban geography in a playful and minimally structured way. It has an artistic and political pedigree. A dérive is also another method that can be employed to inspire and develop ideas. It is about finding and creating from immediate experience. It may form part of the research for a project, or, be the basis of a project itself.
For this task, we were told to meet at a certain place in London where we all then went our separate ways. We had to wander the streets, looking for inspiration, until we had to head back to our final gathering spot. This meant that we could document our journeys in whatever way we saw fit, be that through: photography, illustrations, voice recording or even vlogs. I decided early on that I would photograph London telephone boxes, these are my findings.
Seen as I was in Central London, I decided to photograph London telephone boxes. Red buses, Buckingham Palace, black taxi cabs, Big Ben and red telephone boxes are all iconic things you find in London, tourists from all over rush to get candid photos in front of them, so I decided to take photos of all the public telephones I saw on my trip.
It’s hard to believe these are iconic right? I must not have been in the right places, because the majority of telephone boxes I saw were vandalised, dirty, and downright eyesores. Also, I only found a few red ones, the rest were all newer BT designs with free wifi. Telephone boxes are a thing of the past now, with nearly everyone owning a smartphone, the need to call someone for a couple of pennies is not needed. Why would you even dream of using one of these? Stepping into a urine stenched cubicle, picking up the germ infested receiver and typing a number in using the sticky keys is something from our worst nightmares. It really is such a shame that something so iconic in British pop culture is now so neglected and used for call girl advertisements. My idea is to use my original images of ugly telephone boxes alongside iconic beautiful British supermodels to show a stark contrast. I was inspired by the slogan ‘Get the London Look’ that is seen in the Rimmel London adverts. Kate Moss is a famous ambassador for this brand and she is also a very famous British model. By having these models who are nostalgic symbols of glamorous British pop culture into urban environments, it will bring an editorial punky feel to these telephone boxes. Barbara Kruger is best known for her silkscreen prints where she placed a direct and concise caption across the surface of a found photograph. Her prints from the 1980s cleverly encapsulated the era of “Reaganomics” with tongue-in-cheek satire; especially in a work like (Untitled) I shop therefore I am (1987), ironically adopted by the mall generation as their mantra. Just like Kruger, I intend to place iconic models and a facetious/sarcastic caption across the surface of my own photographs. The economy of Kruger’s use of image and text facilitates a direct communication with the viewer. Within a short declarative statement, she synthesizes a critique about society, the economy, politics, gender, and culture. By placing ‘Get the London Look’ across models that are next to ugly telephone boxes, I am directly mocking and criticising this statement, making is sound like the punch line of an inside joke. Kruger merges the slick facade of graphic design with unexpected phrases in order to catch the viewer’s attention using the language of contemporary publications, graphic design, or magazines. Rather than attempting to sell a product, her works aim to sell an idea to the viewer that is meant to instigate a reconsideration of one’s immediate context which is exactly what I hope to do.
I decided to use three British models in my posters: Twiggy, Kate Moss, and Naomi Campell, all of which are classed as elite supermodels that defined and shaped their eras. In order to create these juxtaposed images, it required a lot of fine-tuning and attention to detail. Using Photoshop, I cut out the models and inserted them into my photography on a seperate layer, which enabled me to colour match the two photographs. Through delicate retouching and manipulation of curves, levels and shadows, I managed to create a seamless bind.
‘Get the London Look’ is a famous saying in the Rimmel adverts and I wanted to use it for irony. The glamorous models are in disgusting, but iconic, London telephone boxes, showing the best of Britain eh? By having these two very different icons collide we are given posters that have a punk edge to them. The bottle of beer, graffiti, and the battered boxes portray a ‘don’t care’ attitude, accompanied by a lot of sass from the models. I love the black and white feel of these posters because it’s giving the feeling of nostalgia, like many monotone images do. Instantly you feel as if you are looking into the past, even though the surroundings are present day locations. Like the famous telephone box in Doctor Who, I wanted to time travel back to eras where telephone boxes thrived and were British pop culture icons. So to add that extra touch of British charm to these posters, I had to Ginger Spice the hell out them – yes, the Union Jack had to be added.
I wanted to create posters that had a bit more texture and depth to them so I started editing them, adding in new textures and colours. I wanted to make these posters layered with bright British colours (red, white and blue), making them look like spray paintings or messy like graffiti.
After adding more colour and texture to these posters, I still thought I needed more. The whole point of these posters are to show the vandalised telephone boxes, but I felt that they didn’t show enough decay. So I opened up the original images in Photoshop and selected all the signs of destruction and dirt in them. I then applied these over the top of my posters and blended them, instantly this showed the decay so much better. I then thought, the type needed to be looked at. Yes, it mimics the Rimmel advert but I want them to be ironic, so why not use graffiti font, furthermore showing the decline of telephone boxes.