Category: Personal Professional Development

154: Extra Curricular Activity

Two summers ago, one of my best friends told me there was this new, supposedly top horror game to exist. So I decided to try it out on a whim to see what it was like. So me and two others in a skype call, I started off my journey that would lead into an addiction of a sort. On that first attempt, I was jumping and screaming, in which at one point I was on my carpet in the fetal position, mumbling to myself after being ‘caught.’ But I just laughed it off… and carried on playing. And my friends thought I was mad with this. But I wanted to beat the game, I wasn’t going to let it just shrug me off like that. And closer and closer I got, but never quite ‘there.’

After playing this for a couple of months, I was then introduced to the online series called Marble Hornets; a live action show based on the Slenderman mythology. And I think it was this was what set the traps. I was hooked on the show, watching every episode I could before I had caught up to the latest one (the videos would come out when really) so what did I do after that? Go searching online about Slenderman.
And I searched high and low for any piece of detail about this myth. At this point I was actually believing that he was real, and my sleeping pattern was a bit screwed after staring at my door and windows, waiting for the white face to appear. Thankfully, I realized that it wasn’t real and was made up, but I was hooked. In such a little time, so much had been released. I looked it up and watched,read, listened to it…you name it, I did it. I wanted all the details.

At the same time, my passion for playing the game had increased; new variations of the original had come out, and the skype calls continued whilst I played them to my heart’s content when all my work was finished. I was itching to beat the game. And then the best news ever came out: there was going to be a full Slender game.
Slender the Arrival came out Spring last year, and it was the game for me. MY friends at that point knew I was the one to go to when it came to Slender, whether it be info or playing the game, and this one was no different. MY best memory is sitting in my sixth form center with everyone around me, on a new level we had just gotten onto, where a monster (not seen before) jumped right at me. Bearing in mind I had good, over the ear headphones on with full volume, close to the screen, it was a shock. And apparently I swore so loudly that everyone sitting in the center looked over in my direction. Not one care was given at all as I continued on playing.

So since that moment I have had a small hidden agenda of taking pictures which I can turn into a slender related theme; this is just the basis for my future project that I am hoping to complete in the summer, in which I will be hoping to turn horror games into real life. My first part of the project will be based on Slender where I will be attempting to show the actual moments as if the game is being played in life there. And once that is done, I will be then moving onto other games as well to give the whole project some variety rather than sticking to just one area.
So these are just some of my starter images for the kick starter for this project:

Slender 2 Slender-finish

154: Final letter to self

Sup Alex.

Been a long, long time since you had to do this in the summer. In fact, in roughly 3 months time it would have been a year. how time flies by! But as they say, you must be having fun if it goes by so quickly!

First off all, have no worries about leaving home. Yes you (I?) miss it lots, especially all your friends at home, but you have settled into life pretty damn well really. Your room actually isn’t too shabby and is spacious enough so that it doesn’t look to cramped at all. But the good thing is that I’ve settled into a nice area, even when there have been a…few occasions where you wished you was living somewhere else. But it has only been on the odd occasion. But then I have become good friends with uni security that way though!

The good thing is that you have made some really good friends at uni, so you have nothing to worry about in the fact about going in bare. Amy, even though she can be a right tit at times, has become one of your best friends there, with her being there for me when I’ve needed it, and me for her as well, even when it’s 3am!
Lee has also become a great friend in the face that he has helped me out so much when it has come to photography and teaching me these small but extremely useful tips that have benefited my learning so much so that I feel much more confident.
And the three amigos of Tom, Stephen and JBD… I mean Jonny have become a great lot of mates to just chill out with where the banter is freely running well where we can all have a laugh! They have also been able to get you to go the gym more as well, where you can definitely squat well now, so that’s something I will continue with when it comes to September again!
And girls, thanks for being a general laugh! Even though you may tease me relentlessly for all sorts of things, it does put a smile on my face as to me it’s just a laugh. I don’t take it to heart, and it does make me laugh and smile a bit!

So onto work. You’re doing well soldier. So far your work is hitting a 2:1 which is good for your first year. Even though this year isn’t that important, I’m glad that I have been able to come in strong straight away and be able to do well. Yes there have been some stressful points throughout the year, but that’s to be expected. One thing though is that I need to stop procrastinating so much, as it has been a hindrance at times. So one thing I’m gonna aim for when it comes to September is that all work will have top priority no matter what and will get done on the say.
But you’re work has been good; Matt said that the project I looked at for 151 MC was interesting and can be fully developed in the future at some point. So bear that in mind and don’t let it slip, as it may come back to a bright light in the tunnel! But your skills have become more defined and focused to the point where I am confident in what I am doing. Sure there are a few places where I can improve, but no one is perfect are they? Just keep your chin up and aim high!

So lets look at the hopes I originally talked about and see if I got them!

1) Yes you got into the second year (well it seems like I have!) so you have nothing to worry about there! But you can say that you tried your hardest no matter what, so be proud of yourself mate!

2) Oh you have enjoyed yourself. Sports has been a great success; I’ve come back into football after a 3 year hiatus and boom! You’ve done well. A solid left back in your academy team where we came joint top in our league, but just lost out on goal difference. But I have been a key part of the team where you have excelled, and heck you even scored a goal (a good one at it as well!) Just make sure to keep fit when it comes to September so you can roaring to go!
Your nightlife has been a good laugh as well, with both the photography lot as well as your football mates! There have been some interesting nights which have been a great laugh, so I know you will enjoy them no matter what.
Also you got a job as well! Even though I got it after Christmas, the extra money from life guarding has been a life saver (pardon the pun) and you’ve met some nice people as well. Just make sure to keep up at it from the beginning of the next year as well.

3) And you’ve made your friends, don’t worry about that. They have become a close circle where you can tell them anything and they will support you no matter what. But also, even though you haven’t seen them that much, you have become closer to your friends at home as well. You still talk to them regularly, especially that tree slut, and you’ve realized how much they mean to you. So don’t worry about loosing them at all as well.

Well here we are then, the end of this letter is coming. Overall, you’ve done well and embraced uni well, as if it is natural for you. So instead of anything soppy, let me make a list of the top things to happen this year:

1) That goal you scored will always be remembered
2) The name JBD will always stick no matter what
3) Dublin is an amazing place with so many good memories that you want to go back.
4) Never skip LEG DAAAAAAAAY
5) Mentioning “I’m going to the sea life center” will annoy Amy before you tell her what it means.
6) Tom and Stephen will always bring up 8-9 times. Nothing else to be said there.

Lots of love from your now mature, and feeling so good future self,

Alex.

P.s. Oh yeah, forgot to mention. You promised you are going to wax your legs for Picbod next year as a way to raise money. It’s been noted down and you can’t escape from it. Good luck with that!

154: Steve Brooks Artefact

After we had the talk with Steve Brooks, we were then given the task of making an artifact that explores the subject on under-represented groups within the media. Now this is quite tough, as to think of a group that isn’t represented is difficult enough, but then to make an artifact on them is very difficult

Now at first I was stumped with what I was gong to do as nothing was coming to mind at all, so I just left the task for a while whilst I pondered about it during the other modules. And it was only during when the adverts started coming on for Race for Life was when I knew what I wanted to do.
If you didn’t know, Race for Life is a charitable event hosted every year for woman to walk, jog or run a certain amount of kilometers. They would fundraise to support loved ones that had gotten or passed away from breast cancer, or if they had experienced it.
The idea for the race is actually very good and each years raises a mass amount of money that goes to help woman breast cancer. And that is where the problem lays.

Race for life does not allow men to race at all no matter what.Yet if you are transgendered or had a body swap (whilst proving it) you can run, heck even dogs can run. But if you are a boy that is over the ages of 12, sorry you have to sit on the sides.
This has caused a lot of debate over the years about why men can’t race; they too develop breast cancer, and even though uncommon, it still can happen. Plus their loved ones may have developed cancer as well, yet they can’t run in their memories at all
Why? Well Race for Life says that if men were to take part, the amount of money would drop and so would the participants. In hidden terms really, this is pretty sexist from the charity. I have no doubt that if a male-only run was to be created with no woman allowed, there would be uproar. But it’s fine to hold a female only event though.

So after reading up on all of this criticism, I began to actually think about how often male cancer is talked about publicly as in newspapers, radio, television etc. And when you think about it, there is a lack of talk on it. Compared to the talk on woman cancer, there is a noticeable difference. This may be down to embarrassment of talking about it, where the symptoms are just not mentioned.

http://www.malecancer.org/abouts is a website that is striving to express the symptoms men can figure out what to do at early points in their life before it is too late. For someone who has seen cancer affect people in my family, it is not something that should be brushed under the carpet for any sex. Everyone deserves to be fully aware of it, and one sex shouldn’t have preference over another at all.

Steve brooks task

So for my image, I have taken 3 pictures of men and highlighted on their bodies the 3 main areas where men are effected by cancer. Underneath, I have put a bit of text; the “we are all in this together” is actually taken from Race for Life ironically, as they say this whilst excluding the other sex.

154: Critical reflection on Bradford Trip – Copper Horses

In January, we headed off once again for another trip, this time to Bradford to see the Copper Horses exhibition made by Chris Harrison.

The background for the this projects was that when Chris was a young lad, he used to think that his dad was a superhero due to all the machines and wonderful things he used to be working. However though, in reality his dad was just an ordinary worker in a factory who used to machinery parts (this was a very high skilled job though to be working in)
In the first part of projects, Harrison focuses on the pieces and parts that his Dad used to make and sometimes bring home on the odd occasion to work on, bringing part of this intimate life back to home which originally fueled Harrison’s imagination when he was young.

So and not just showing us that his father used to work in a factory, Harrison wanted to take it to the next level and show the true meaning behind it all. There was one machine that his father used to work on in his working days, so Harrison wanted to focus on that the most. In each picture on the individual machine parks, Harrison wanted to show the deeper meaning each part had with his father. Each picture is filled with a high amount of detail so that nothing is left hidden away.

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The reason this part of the project works is that as a collection all these pictures work well in combination in telling a story about Harrison’s dad. He hasn’t forgotten the stories that his dad used to tell him, but rather he has embraced it and has been able to keep it in his memory forever through these pictures.

The second part of the exhibtion in Copper Horses was still based on his Dad but how he is today. He gave a bit of context before hand talking about there was a beach his family all used to go to, where his dad (who used to be a very good swimmer back then) would swim so far out until he couldn’t be seen at all. And then he would come back to the beach. He once said that his dad wanted to swim across the channel, but due to an injury that he sustained he wasn’t able to do this at all.
In these pictures, he has his now elderly dad standing on the beach with his back to the camera looking out to sea in his swimming gear, and over the 8 pictures it shows the tide slowly coming into the beach, with the last picture showing the water around his dad’s ankles.

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 13.20.57

Overall, in this project Harrison said that he was “kinda interested in industrial and how it’s something that’s forgotten about.” The exhibition was the result of Chris thinking about his relationship with his dad and how it has changed, with Harrison wanting to “instil a feeling of pride in the skill and creativity of ordinary people and in what they do for a living”. And i can say that Harrison actually has managed to do that very well as it does strike on a personal level with everyone one with us due to our parents working.
They do so much for us just to provide and care, and as children we look up to them so much and hold them in high regard that they can do no wrong at all.

EastWinds Fesitval: Pee Mak

This was, apparently, the film everyone wanted to see as it was that good. So naturally I went along to go see it so that I could see what all the fuss was about in the end. To give a bit of context about the film: it’s based on the old Mae Nak Phra Khanong legend of Thai folklore, with it depicting 5 guys that go off to war to protect their home land before coming back in the end. In this film, the main character, Pee Mak (yes the title of the film) comes home with his new found friends to introduce to his wife and baby. However after investigation, rumors start to appear that in fact the wife really isn’t who she appears to be, and is actually a ghost. Cue hilarious trouble!

From the get go, it was obvious the film was going to be good. We are thrown deep into the action of the war where Pee Mak is drafted into the war, leaving his pregnant wife alone. After giving a courageous war speech to his comrades, everything goes wrong as they are all injured; causing them to heal before being sent home. Even in this short part, we are introduced to the personalities of all the main characters which is a key part for us to get used to them.

The film carries on looking at how the 5 of them get used to living back in the town with all the rumors flying around, with comical scenes that make you laugh nearly uncontrollably. But even with these comical moments, there is heart touching scenes that make your emotions well up so much that you just wanted to go hug the characters then to say that everything will be alright. What helps is that both of these things aren’t too over bearing within the film; there is just a right mix in which that you don’t get bored of it all at once.

What makes this film unique is that just isn’t one genre on its own; rather there’s several thrown into the mix all at once for the viewers to enjoys. They all feed of one another to help them all work together in the film to allow it to run smoothly without any difficult cuts nor jumps.
What also made this film unique was that it offered the occasional plot twist at the right moments to make the audience just question everything they had seen so far, before there would be another twist just to make it all that more exciting to see what would be going on.

Compared to the other film, Pee Mak is the winner by a long run. Everything is this film is perfect for what it set out to meet; the plot was just right with the actors doing a fantastic job of getting into character and giving out a flawless performance, since in Hardcore Comedy the acting just wasn’t up to standard enough to make it…well a comedy. I would recommend this film to everyone, simply for the fact that it is something different then we are used to seeing in the UK, and can offer a very solid laugh for anyone!

And of course, a customary picture: 1452157_10202480877493408_862306055_n

East Winds Fesitval: Hardcore Comedy

So the first film I went to see during the festival was called Hardcore Comedy. The first reason I choose this was that out of the films that were on during the night, this one appealed to me the most (especially when it says it’s a comedy.) But also what drew me in was the trailer that was showing off the film; from those 2 minutes I was having a good ol’ chuckle at the film, thinking that it was going to be a great night.

Oh boy. Oh boy o’ boy how I was wrong.

What the trailer failed to tell us was that the film was actually split into 3 separate parts, where watching the film you would realize that all 3 parts were linked together in the opening scene (which was shown every time the next part was coming up.) The built up anticipation from beforehand was slowly disappearing very quickly, but there was no backing out now.

So the first part of the story was in fact what was showing in the trailer (a good way to get us into it at least hopefully!) The plot of this story was easy to follow really: two students have to live in a brothel due to the fact that there is no other accommodation that they can live in. The more socially introvert out of the two develops a crush on one of the girls living in the house, but finding it hard to tell her his feelings. At the same time, a customer (who turns out to be a police officer) assaults one of the girls, the students see this over CCTV and intervene, only to cause them more trouble where they get chucked into prison.
At first, this part was quite easy to follow and understand what was happening at first, but as it got towards the end the story got more and more crazy and twisted to the point i was thinking “what on earth is happening?” (Put it like this: when the students suddenly jump into superhero suits that have had no mention before and only come out now, you just give up slightly.)

The second part was much shorter to the first, but so much better when it came to understanding what was going on within the story and scene changes! The plot was based on a guy that had been evicted + loosing his girlfriend, in which he ended up doing drug deliveries to earn some money to live on. To eat delivery spot he met a variety of interesting questions that managed to raise a smile on your face from their wackiness, before we come to the second most important character in this story, Moon. From then onwards we saw their friendship blossom over their journeys and the drugs. And of course there is a happy ending in which…. well I can’t spoil it can I now! Go watch it!
This part was much better directed then the first, with an easier plot to follow and understand which drew in the viewers on this love journey in a comical way at points. Again, at some parts it was slightly over done at in ways that weren’t needed, but it was much better.

The third part again was similar to the second with regards to the themes: a guy who worked a successful job lost a huge amount of money from a gambling addiction to the boss and couldn’t pay it back. So the only way to pay back his debt was to go and assassinate a rival, or else be killed. Knowing that there would be no easy way with this choice, he decided to live out his last day to the max and see his loved ones that he had forgotten about and left, in which he saw his old love (becoming his new one again.)
I think this was the top part of the entire film, as it was the most relatable in a way. In a way, it asked us what would you do if you only had one day left to live what would you do? So don’t worry and go enjoy life was the message really (but don’t get mixed in with the dodgy guys though.)

So, my thoughts on the film…. *sigh* I was disappointed with it really. I was expecting so much from the reviews and trailers I just wasn’t really blown away. It wasn’t a comedy at all; in fact, there was a lack of comical parts really that made you laugh. The main theme of this film was on love, portrayed in 3 completely different ways which did vary it slightly. But the constant change in a short amount of time did make it hard to fully concentrate.
So I feel this picture will summarize my views on the film really:
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Critical Reflection: Steve Brooks

In October, we were given the privilege of having Steve Brooks give us a talk on creating equality in the media with regards to those that are under represented (in his case those with disabilities.)

In this talk he started off by talking about by giving an example of someone famous who was disabled: Ian Dury, a rock and roll singer who was disabled, where he had to walk with a stick a lot. Yet in his shows this isn’t shown, as Brooks believed that we may have a false idea that a fully able person is self-sufficient. This is because if you are seen to be disabled, there is almost a social repression put against you.

But to just put a twist on things, Brooks went on to say that even though those who are disabled just want to be like everyone else, in fact everyone has something which could classify as a “disability” in the way that it stops us from doing something. This was actually something very surprising to me, as I would of never of thought that every person could have a disability.
Brooks went onto explain what he meant by this, as i know I was a bit confused about what he was referring. He said that there were different types of disabilities, such as:

  • Physical
  • Sensory
  • Intellectual
  • Mental health and emotional
  • Development

I managed to clock onto what he meant by the generic disability when he mentioned mental health: straight away I started to think of those with OCD, paranoia, bi-polar etc. Even those these aren’t a physical problem, they are a disability for those that it affects. But it’s funny to think that in society today we wouldn’t actually class them as a disability, unless we actually believe them to be disabled. So Brooks suggest that perhaps we need to get rid of the term disabled and replace it with “differently abled”.  I think this is a big ask, because society has built up the point where this term is used so much we are associated to it. To suddenly change is a big ask where society will probably reject this; yet I do understand where Brooks is coming form though.

Brooks then went on to further his point on the idea that those with disabilities are under represented by moving onto the world now within television and advertisement. You may not have realized it, but actually in the adverts today no one who is disabled is shown at all. This is actually quite prejudiced as these companies are in fact trying to make the best possible advert, but are really creating a false sense of humanity; they are really just wiping out a whole sector of society by not including them.
However, there have been a few occasion where the “disabled” have been shown in television; in the 1980’s a few people in wheelchairs were shown. But it just wasn’t based on the fact to include them, but rather there was a hidden agenda; putting these adverts in black and white made them much more serious in highlighting points. So these people were having their bodies used to get a point across in the best way possible, as the adverts wanted to draw the feelings from the audience. So what better way then to get them to feel sorry and emotional by putting those which society sees as lower?

In the media, there are multiple stereotypes in the media:

  1. Object of curiosity and violence
  2. Sinister
  3. Super-cripple
  4. Atmosphere
  5. Laughable
  6. Her/his own worst enemy
  7. A burden
  8. Non-sexual
  9. Unable to take part
  10. Pitiable and pathetic – Most common one used by charities

One of the problems with advertising, photography and any lens based media is that the lens changes the subject; the person behind the lens has all the power and can manipulate the picture to what they want it to be. So the subject becomes a much more pitiable person which isn’t helpful when it comes to creating equality.

So I think what needs to be done today is to let everyone be who they are; no acting (well some will be needed) but you shouldn’t make someone be who they aren’t. Brooks used an example to highlight this point in saying Nike is one of the leading companies who include the disabled in their adverts. This is actually quite key as for a major sports brand, they highlight that everyone is the same no matter what and can make what they want.
And its been proven that audiences tend to have a better reaction to adverts that include the disabled, so it raises the question: Why aren’t they included more often?
What it may come down to is that actually companies want to present the “perfect” image towards the public; they want to highlight the product in the best way possible, why would they want to limit themselves by having someone who is limited in one way or another?

So really, we have to think about who is to blame for this under representation? Is it a social problem in which we have gotten used to seeing the “perfect” that we don’t want to experience change at all. Or maybe it’s down to a medical point of view in that a disabled person might not be able to do it at all? Or that we actually there isn’t enough support from everyone to try and push this image further.
What it really boils down to, in my opinion, is that we all need to put a better effort into helping out. We can’t just sit around and talk about it, there needs to be a further pursuement into helping out. And this goes for every group in the media that aren’t represented that much at all.