BA of Media Arts. Sem 2.

Final Work.

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Documentation 10 - Alien Methods - Ben Denham

In class, Vicky showed us this artist, Ben Denham. The technique that we attempted to do in class (called the Chopstick Technique), was something I found that I was quite good at and wanted to embed into my own work.

Rather than writing text on the work, I wanted to take the names of the colours found in the figure of one of the articles (‘How colourful are birds?’), and write them in a style similar to Denham. Using this, I then got my mum to assign colours to the words based on what she thought they could be. These colours I then used to illustrate the final birds using the pin technique.  

Similar idea to synesthesia, but replacing the colours of the antithetical watercolour birds, with the ones that my mum assigned. 

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Documentation 9 - Alien Methods - Pins 

For this piece of documentation, I wanted to reflect upon how I used pins in my work to reassemble the form of the birds. Pins, typically used in sewing, craft and used to hold things together, were used to change the surface of the paper and to change the shape of the birds using the shadows. 

I used the pins that I had bought for the ‘thinking through media’ class funnily enough, and thought I’d be necessary to repurpose the pins as a process to change the form of the birds out of my control using light and the shadows. 

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Documentation 8 - Uncreativity - Result

My result of stealing Brendan’s style. A less saturated and swirling form. Funny how my style still comes through when I’m actively trying to steal from another person. I would like to recreate these birds by filling the whole page and see if they end up looking more so like his work rather than mine. 

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Documentation 7- Uncreativity - Brendan Monroe 

I thought I’d be important to include this artist as a piece of documentation. Uncreativity is something that I think most artists try to avoid. Stealing, copying, taking someone else’s ideas. I think it’s necessary in order to develop your process as an artist, to steal. Take aspects from a whole bunch of artists and apply them to your work.

I decided to use similar line work to Brendan to depict my birds (my uncreative product) because of the way the lines communicate the general form. They lack specific detail but allow for a whirling form that basically shows the object you want to illustrate. The use of colour in his work is a major aspect too. Highly saturated and bright colours. I used the watercolours that I had scanned in and used the ‘eyepick’ tool in PS to select my colours. 

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Documentation 6 - Thinking Through Media - Antithetical Birds

After painting the 4 birds using watercolours, I decided to apply colours that weren’t typically seen on the birds. Such as giving an owl bright colours rather than neutral and dark to assist in hunting and giving a stork, the colours of a predatory bird. I thought that this was a good way to portray the opposite of the birds by simply using the colours of another species. 

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Documentation 5 - Thinking Through Media - Environment/Collage Result

Collage is something we had experimented with in class. We did it to misrepresent concepts such as creating a jungle in a living room using various magazines that people brought in. I decided to use collage in my work as a way to push myself experimenting with different mediums. But ultimate using colour and paper to reinforce the colours in Figure 3 and using japanese paper (of different floral environments) as a visual representation of varying environments that birds live in. 

The top left and bottom right segments: colours found in Figure 3, paper found that showed the colours in the diagram. 

The top right and bottom left segments: paper with floral patterns on it to illustrate the idea of birds in different environments. 

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Documentation 4 - Thinking Through Media - Lilian O’Neil + class work.

Lilian O’Neil is an Australian collage ensemble artist. She plays with scale and has a shifting narrative in most of her works due to the clustered nature of her work.

'The theme of love and the investigation of the creation of emotional narratives through a process of collection and assessment is central to Lillian O’Neil’s work. She uses monumentally-scaled collage to explore possibilities of accumulative autobiography and is interested in the way aggregated images compress time and history'. (Quote from The Commercial Gallery).


The last image was class work we did. We had to change the meaning of a landscape. So, I decided to make a living room a garden! The idea of collage (definitely small scale), would be something I’d be interested in exploring as a creative and visual means of portraying scientific data. Such as the evolution of colour plumage of birds (or a more niched and specific theme). 

Collage was definitely the medium I wanted to use to represent the different environments because of the varying types of paper that could be used to symbolise the diverse habitats that birds occupy. 


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Documentation 3 - Convergent Thinking - Research

Convergent thinking was the hardest for me to understand. It only made sense when I realised it worked hand in hand with divergent thinking. Convergent thinking is essentially taking a rather logical and streamline approach compared to the broad and widespread divergent thinking

The more I researched into the articles and what aspects from the three I was going to take, it emphasised the process of converging my ideas. Rather than using information from all three articles, I decided to focus on the major themes in each one. And thus, it brought forth the themes of: 

1. ‘The occurrence of colour polymorphism was very high in Strigiformes, Ciconiiformes, Cuculiformes and Galliformes’ (Colour polymorphism in birds: causes and functions)

2. Figure 3. Examples of diverse avian plumage. (How colourful are birds? Evolution of the avian plumage colour gamut)

3. ‘..species with highly variable coloration may have greater potential to persist in new and changing environments’. (Colour-variable birds have broader ranges, wider niches and are less likely to be threatened).

Evolution of birds (original idea) -> birds -> colour (watercolours) -> scientific articles -> research -> three main articles -> 4 birds -> a diagram on colours of plumage -> different environments. 


Delhey, K., J. Smith, and A. Peters. “Colour‐variable birds have broader ranges, wider niches and are less likely to be threatened.” Journal of evolutionary biology (2013).

Galeotti, Paolo, Diego Rubolini, Peter O. Dunn, and Mauro Fasola. “Colour polymorphism in birds: causes and functions.” Journal of evolutionary biology16, no. 4 (2003): 635-646.

Stoddard, Mary Caswell, and Richard O. Prum. “How colorful are birds? Evolution of the avian plumage color gamut.” Behavioral Ecology 22, no. 5 (2011): 1042-1052.  (All Figures from this article) 

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Documentation 2 - Divergent Thinking - Research of scientific articles

My second piece of documentation follows the way I approached divergent thinking and how it helped me in getting closer to my final topic. 

A main point to mention is the realisation that due to time restraints, lack of knowledge in the area of birds (scientifically) and studies in the Media Research Foundation course. I realised my approach to creating an artwork based on scientific knowledge was wrong. It had to be an artwork influenced by science. Research based practice is something I first learned about in my Media Research Foundations course where it brings about the usefulness of research and applying it to your work. 

Through this realisation, I started to use the UNSW Library as a starting point. My searching key term such as ‘birds’ and ‘colour’ (thought that colour was a good term to use considering my use of watercolours). After going through about 12 different articles based on these two terms. It lead me to three key articles in which I would take my main points/factors from. The one thing these articles all had in common was colour (converging the three articles under a common factor). 

Divergent thinking through searching through a large online database of scientific articles allowed me to broaden my knowledge of possible ways to approach this conceptual assignment. But ultimately through my first map, the use of colour became a dominating feature in selecting the main articles to use that would influence my final work. 

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Documentation 1 - Divergent Thinking - Original Map

My original map was of the evolution of birds from prehistoric age to modern day. The watercolours were used to illustrate the points where the lines meet as well as how the evolution can be affected by outlying factors. The watercolours being a rather large mark on the map that highlights that change is due to, not one, but many variables. 

I decided to take the idea of having multiple variables and factors as a guide to approaching researching the next assessment. The evolution of birds can’t be solely determined by what happened in the past to now but rather a larger range of information needs to be gathered before furthering this creative task. 

The multiple blotches of watercolours are similar to divergent thinking, in which, you can’t consider one aspect but multiple. This is how my first assessment task assisted me in approaching the next few stages of research and development of my next task. 

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My original map started off as a creative approach to document the ‘evolution of birds’, from prehistoric to modern day, in a timeline. Through conceptual processes, I eventually decided on three different factors? (from scientific articles) that would affect the creation of the work.

- 4 birds (Cuculiformes, Ciconiiformes, Galliformes and Strigiformes)

- Different environments

- Colours from a graph from ‘How colorful are birds? Evolution of the avian plumage color gamut.’

The main realisation in creating this final work was the realisation that my original idea, to create a work based purely on scientific data was not suitable. And that the final work is a work influenced by science and is a representation of what I have done with this scientific data through conceptual processes.