Saturday, 18 February 2012

Off To A Winning Start

Hello everyone! Just a little apology about my lack of blogging over the past 6 months. It is something I really want to become good at and for it to become second nature to me, but I have never been comfortable with it. I feel that I become someone else when I write and in a weird way it becomes uncomfortable to blog. So this being a new semester (well 5 weeks in haha!) I am going to make a conscious effort to blog at least once a week...little bit of déjà vu there!

So it begins...

Level 3. Semester 2. 6 weeks until I become a fourth year student. Scary doesn't cover it!!!! Really excited to see how I develop as a designer and to see if there is any idea as to what type of designer I will be. Don't really like to think about that and it has become a question I dread every time it is asked. It is probably good that I can't answer that for now but I wonder if I should or want to finally answer that in the future.

So after an interesting first semester which involved taking part in the RSA project (more to come on this, will explain all at a later date) and not visiting the workshop since the beginning of summer I didn't know what to expect for the year ahead. To my sheer surprise my first day back started off with some unexpected but terrific news! A design that I had entered into a competition to design the new ASME Gold Medal Award medal had been picked for a new category that they had created- the Presidents Award. Couldn't believe it, I am so happy about it. I received a nice little cash prize and £1500 to make 5 medals for the ASME group. Probably would have been over the moon just to make the medals but I won't not be rude an accept there prize haha! The other male in the year Ali Taylor was the first prize winner getting the same cash prise and £1500 to make 5 medals but he also was asked by the group if they could use his design as there new logo. Great stuff! Last and by certainly no means least, Kirsty Nicholson from our year got runner up and a smaller cash prize for her efforts. Just goes to shows what an afternoons work can achieve. Well done to everyone!

Here is the University of Dundee press release about the competition and I have put up a reworking of my original design with the Presidents Medal instead of the ASME Gold Award.

My little water colour design entry

Coming to the end of my first project of the semester in which I have been looking a the demise of Kodak and got a lesson in electrical soldering from my father! I am now looking, for my second project, at secret lives people may lead without anyone knowing. This has taking me into the world of transsexuals, adult babies and secret smokers to name but a few. Lots more on these projects to come so keep your eyes peeled for some new posts in the coming weeks.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Assignment 4 Re-post

For our last assignment in this section, we had to choose a book and a journal from assignment 3 that we had found using the cross search system. We had to write about and compare them and finally say what areas we would look at to find out more information to give point a balanced argument.

For the previous assignment I had started out searching for any books or journals that looked at eye movement research with respect to children’s television. After fruitless searches I noticed that children’s advertising kept appearing. Having just watched 'A Czech Dream', a film about two students opening a fake supermarket, I was already interested in the power of advertising. For this assignment I have chosen to read chapter 7, Who’s Messing with My Mind? from the book Consumer Kids by Ed Mayo and Agnes Nairn and a journal called Children as Consumers: Advertising and Marketing by Sandra L. Calvert.

Chapter 7, Who’s Messing with My Mind looks at how marketing from television adverts and online media can effect young children both consciously and subconsciously. Mayo and Nairn begin by asking the question that if children know how adverts work could they, with the help of older people like parents, actually be able to stop themselves falling for coy business marketing? They use evidence from two books that say that yes, this is possible. The first book is Why TV is Good For Kids by Catherine Lumby and Duncan Fine and the second is It’s Not the Media by Karen Sternheimer. Both books argue that young children can defend themselves from what Mayo and Nairn describe as “profit-hungry business”. Lumby and Fine even take it a step further and suggest that with children being so young they do not remember adverts therefore they could not possibly be influenced.

Chapter 7 then continues this debate by looking at a report made by the American Psychological Association which disagrees with both books and makes it very clear that, unlike adults, young children lack a high level of cognitive skills. They argue that because of this “children are more vulnerable to advertising than adults.” and therefore, “they do not comprehend commercial messages in the same way as do mature audiences, and, hence are uniquely susceptible to advertising influence.”

This point of view is backed up as the work of development psychologist Jean Piaget is looked at. During the 1960s Piaget established that children’s cognitive skills increase through stages as they grow. As young children grow they, Piaget states, “develop the ability to see the world from the perspective of other people.”

Consumer Kids then delves into research carried out by researchers in consumer socialization that have carried on the work of Piaget and developed his theories. The chapter expands on their work and explains to the reader that children are very vulnerable and can be somewhat influenced by marketing.

Even though television is highly regulated the chapter explains that, with expanding technology, children are finding new ways to become exposed by adverts such as the internet. The internet is far from being anywhere near regulated as television is and adverts are only looked at on an advert to advert basis. There is no set standard for them and action towards them is not usually carried out until a complaint has been put forward. Such problematic marketing can be found in advergames like Kellogg’s Fruit Loops Toucan Sam game. Advergames are, according to Mayo and Nairn, “interactive computer games paid for by big brands which heavily feature their product.” In the Fruit Loop game, users have to feed a monster food to earn points. The food on offer is Fruit Loops and pieces of fruit. Sounds straight forward and fun enough but the gamer is awarded 10 points for every Fruit Loop eaten and 5 points for every piece of fruit. We then learn of an experiment which involved a group of children playing this game and another group that did not. After it all, when the children were asked what they thought was healthier, Fruit Loops or fruit, they all said fruit. But when both groups were offered both as a snack, over half the group that played the game chose the Fruit Loops compared to only a quarter of the group that had not. What they found after this experiment was that even though children do not think advergames changed their minds, they had actually changed the kids behaviour.

The chapter goes on to show more examples of this by telling us of other experiments that involve product placement in movies and showing their effects on kids which showed similar results to the Fruit Loops test.

Nairn and Mayo take children’s advertising to another level and look at Cordelia Fines book, A Mind of its Own. Fine has put together evidence covering psychology, neuroscience and marketing research. What she found showed that the power of children’s advertising was so great that children would be effected emotionally by things that would stimulate them and they would not even realise it. Basically what this is saying is that it is not what you say or think, it is how you associate it with things in your head. An example given here is that when young men saw a clip of Bruce Willis smoking, none of their views had changed on smoking. But for those who looked up to him they made an association with smoking and how they saw themselves.

With such concerning evidence mounting up on the dangers of advertising, the chapter looks at legislation and education. For legislation they have a brief look at several countries and find out what they have done. Sweden, for example, have banned adverts to under 12s, but companies have found a way around it by advertising on UK channels that broadcast in Sweden. The government try to protect their children but the companies want to make as much profit as they can.

For education they look at a few websites set up to educate children in understanding media. However, what they found was two very different types of sites. Some had been sponsored by the advertising industry and set about painting a positive image of advertising. Whereas another site, operated by the Food Commission painted a picture of the industry that we should question everything about it and make users feel that it was dangerous.

The chapter ends by revealing to us that the question that was first asked has evolved into something different which requires more debating. This debate would be steered towards the effects of, as Nairn and Mayo say, “marketing which works on children’s emotions at an emotional level.” It suggests that the government needs to step in as they, as a whole, would be able to challenge the issues throughout the whole country. Nairn and Mayo end by putting forward the suggestion that the real issue is not whether we can make sure, as they say, “children understand advertising messages,” but rather, “how the commercial world with its all embracing, wrap-around presence affects how children feel about themselves and others.”

The journal Children as Consumers: Advertising and Marketing looks in more detail at cognitive development in children and the effects on behaviour after being exposed to advertising, such as how they interpret the adverts purpose and if they actually remember what they have just seen.

Just like the book Consumer Kids this journal looks at Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development, but in slightly more detail and gives us examples of each stage so we can understand better. For example when children are between the ages of two and seven they are in the preoperational stage. At this stage children believe what they are viewing, so during Christmas they really think Santa is coming to give presents.

The journal then continues to explain the work of Deborah John who created a model, using Piaget's theories, of social consumerism. It also looks at the work of Patti Valkenburg and Joanne Cantor who, also using Piaget's theories, created their own model of the stages of a child’s consumerism developments.

Calvert then briefly touches on media interaction such as online games. She talks about the positive side of them, like the learning as they play. These games create a conversation with the user but the type of conversation is dependant on that user's age. Very young children might think the character on screen is real, whereas someone older can tell the difference between a fictional character and reality. These games evolve as the user plays along so that the messages getting received are tailored to that particular age group. This then allows advertisers the opportunity to bombard children with adverts to buy their brand.

Next we are told, as like the book, that many companies back online sites in which their product can be a part of. It also goes on to say that the time in between seeing an internet advert and actually purchasing the product is significantly smaller than if viewed on television, as they can be taken to an online shop straight away with a simple click. This is a real danger as Calvert believes that the shortening in purchasing timescale will “have major implications for children,” because they, “are more vulnerable to commercial messages than adults are.”

Children as Consumers then proceeds to explain how a child understands marketing. This is broken down into 5 subheadings; attention, recognition and retention, comprehension of commercial intent, product requests and purchases and finally advertising exposure and children’s behaviour. Each of these are given a brief description of what they are and how they contribute to encourage children to buy products.

The author looks then at typical behaviour of a child after being exposed to adverts. What was found was the more exposure they had, the more they wanted and, if they were denied this request by their parents, the child was more likely to argue with them. Research also found that even if the children know that celebrities were used to make people buy things, if they were exposed to it enough through repeated viewing, they would eventually still find themselves wanting it.

Calvert went on to look at research carried out by the National Academies panel that were looking at the link between adverts for food with obesity. She also looked at research from the American Psychological Association that are worried that adverts will turn children into being more materialistic. The problem so far is that younger and younger children are buying things that are usually aimed at people much older than them, like make-up for example.

The journal finishes off by looking at what parents could do to help children understand marketing. Researcher Leonard Reid found that there were 3 ways you could parent with regards to the television. These were co viewing, active mediation and restrictive mediation. Co viewing had little success whilst active and restrictive mediation had some success when it came to certain types of adverts. Reid found however that with restricted viewing there was a smaller chance that children would ask for something.

Both texts were very interesting to read and, not knowing much about advertising and psychology, I found them as a useful introduction to a new subject to me. Consumer Kids was full of sources and other books that not only supported the authors claims but also gave us a balanced view by hearing the other side of the argument. I appreciated the fact that Nairn and Mayo named the texts they used as I have an opportunity to further my reading on this somewhat controversial topic. My only slightly negative comment would be that they never had the opportunity to look at points in greater detail, but in all great fairness they only had a chapter to write what could easily become a whole book by itself.

The journal contained much of what I had read in the book and repeated itself by explaining Piaget's theories three times, albeit with variations and improvements. Calvert gave us more examples when explaining the more complex ideas which did however help me understand the topic better. This paper was written purely from an American perspective and does not look at advertisement from around the world, which the book does. My biggest complaint about Children as Consumers is that the writer does not tell us anything about the people she talks about and at times we have to guess whether people are researchers. I do not know if she is using their names to help her assumptions or if it is actually their own research.

Next for me I plan to read Consumer Kids in its entirety as I found that single chapter really interesting. It has shocked me that these companies can manipulate children at such a young age purely so they will buy the toys they make or the sweets they sell. I would also like to read a few of the books mentioned in Consumer Kids to get a wider understanding of this topic. Further reading into the work of Jean Piaget and the work that has been built upon his ideas would prove useful reading. This would hopefully help me understand the complexities of the human mind and how it can easily be manipulated.


Calvert, Sandra L. (2008). Children as Consumers: Advertising and Marketing. The Future of Children. 18 (1), p214-220.

Gladwell, Malcolm. (2010). The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. New York: Abacus.

Mayo, Ed and Nairn, Agnes. (2009). Consumer Kids. London: Constable.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Dundee- Bingo Capital of Europe...Apparently!

As I was writing up my assignment on my big bingo adventure I remember a few years back there was a short documentary about Dundee and its love of bingo. Well after a bit of searching I finally stumbled across it. You might think I was mad when I was scared to sit in someones luck seat but watch this and you may also feel the fear ha ha!

This is such a great wee documentary and in a weird sort of way makes me proud to be a Dundonian. You hear people talk about strong Dundee women and it is so true. My gran used to work in a Jute Mill in Dundee and I used to love hearing the stories of what she did. She even got to meet the Queen! Can you imagine that, the Queen in a Jute Mill!!!

I wish I had found it before I wrote my novella about my trip, pretty much somes up what I said. Hope you enjoy it, its only about 20 mins long and if you need me to translate just give me a shout.

I'm not sure how to get the video on my blog just yet but I will add the link below for now.

SheToon - City of Bingo (click here)

Semester 2: Assignment 5 The Proposal

The Proposal

In today’s society children are being exposed to a greater amount of advertising then ever before. With children orientated television channels on the increase and personal computers with access to the internet becoming standard in many family homes companies can reach children so much easier. What effect mentally and physically does this have on young children as they grow and develop? Is this an issue that we should be worried about? After reading into this subject before I came across development psychologist Jean Piaget who would argue that there is an issue as he believes that as young children grow they “develop the ability to see the world from the perspective of other people.” Looking at the work from Piaget and similar research carried out by Ed Mayo and Agnes Nairn for their book, Consumer Kids which I had come across after looking at Piaget, this proposal intends to investigate several things. Firstly it will build on the research already begun on the actual effects advertising has on young minds and secondly what can we do to prevent and control this issue.

To gather my own data and build upon what has already been researched an experiment would be conducted that would expose a group children to carefully selected adverts and at the same time show another group of children someone plainly describing the products using the script from the adverts whilst holding the item. The constants in this experiment would be the products, the information about them and the time each product was on the screen. The groups would then be given a short interview asking questions concerned with what the had just watched. The groups would then be swapped so that each group would have a chance to watch the real and reworked adverts, however a different set of commercials would be used.

Piaget found that a children grow their mind develops through different age stages, These stages were 0-3, 3-7, 7-11 and 11+. For the experiment and interview I would focus on the 3-7 and 7-11 as this would concentrate my findings to a smaller age band but also allow me to still see if there was any significant jump between to age groups. For each age stage I would recreate the experiment several times to that I can gain as much information as possible. Using an experiment like this will allow a large number of children to be tested in a short amount of time. This would permit the team to be in full control of what the children watched and would stop them being distracted by anything else if, for example this was conducted in the home.

The interviewee would ask specific questions to get the same sort of answers from our volunteers so that we would learn what each child thought a certain product or advert. This method is useful as each person is answering and giving their own view on the subject which is unique to them, this way we can see if there is any similarities. To help keep the information clear and simple a matrix chart would be created so that the data was complied on the sheet so comparisons and patterns could be spotted quickly and efficiently.

This process would need a team of at least four people for the experiment but more could be used to get the interviews done and work through the findings and I would estimate that it may need several months to conducted from start to finish.

There may several problems that arise whilst using these methods however. We might not get the number of participants that we require to give us a good amount of information which could alter how our findings go. Another problem could be that we do not get a specific answer and our findings are far to varied to one solid conclusion. In the event that this would happen another method will have to be implemented. I propose that we create an observation pack that we can hand to families that are willing to take part without the inconvenience of coming to a research lab. Parents would be asked to observe their children’s behaviour after viewing adverts catered for them, paying close attention to there requests for a specific brand or toy which was out of the ordinary. A blank matrix chart would then be filled out by parent with each of the columns asking different questions about the advert there child saw and how their behaviour has changed. It would also ask what action the parent would take in this situation. There will also be a general questionnaire that will gather generic information so we can build a profile to see if any patterns emerge with certain types of family. Creating a chart like this would allow me to gather the information I needed without to much upheaval to the family. With the information gathered on the behaviour of children due to advertising a conclusion could possibly be drawn on whether or not this is an issue we should be concerned about. After this was completed I would use the concept of polysemy and show the children altered images of toys and brands that they should be familiar with. Their responses would be noted and then the original unaltered image would then be shown and again the responses would be noted. Using this method I would be able to see if what , if any, effect adverts have on children. I have already used these methods and saw that results can be similar or vary greatly from one another. Which ever way the results may go a conclusion will be drawn as to whether advertising can effect children.

By recording information about individual children and their families it is hoped that a connection can be made between the child’s behaviour due to adverts and messages they receive from their parents. Only then can we start to look further into what it is that they are doing as individuals so that methods can be developed to address the problem that advertising has on youth development.

5 books to read over summer

  1. I am going to read Consumer Kids by Ed Mayo and Agnes Nairn. I read a chapter in first semester and i found it a really interesting. Would like to see what else the book can offer.
  2. I enjoyed reading the Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell so I am going to give another of his books ago, Blink.
  3. We have been encourage to constantly to break down barriers between disciplines this year and because I used to study architecture and because of the likes of Japan I am going to look at Design Like You Give A Damn:Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises.
  4. Again to keep the barriers breaking down I am going to read D'Arcy Thompson's On Growth and Form. Nature as always dumb founded me by the natural structures and patterns it can create so it is time to find out why.
  5. Last book i am going to read The Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam purely because I haven't had the chance to read it yet and it looks like it may come in very handy.
5 people i will connect with

  1. Lisa Maclean (facebook and twitter)
  2. Kate Pickering (facebook and twitter) think it is important to stay connected with these girls as they are of similar age and in a few years time I will be at their stage, hopefully ha ha, and it would be handy to annoy them for advice. Plus they are amazing, super helpful and would be awful if we never talked again.
  3. JB (twitter) he always has something interesting to say whether you agree or not and finds really useful things on the web which can be of value to our studies.
  4. Professor Mike Press (twitter) found his lecture really interesting and I have been to a few meetings with him. Would be good to keep in contact with someone older with a good bit of experience in the field of design (not saying you don't JB but you have been given a reason already).
  5. Sigurd Bronger (email) Norwegian jeweller who I am currently studying for my design research project. We have sent each other emails and I think it is no time like the present to start networking, especially now I have the opportunity to connect with someone from another country. His knowledge of jewellery and of Norway and Holland could prove invaluable.
5 things I will do to my blog

  1. I will start putting posts up more regularly.
  2. I plan to create a twitter account so i will link my blog up with that. (Also want to try create my own web page so everything can be accessed from that centrally).
  3. Want to create a more unique look to my blog, add some of my personality to it. Make it stand out from the crowd.
  4. Would like to organise my blog so that when my readers come to have a look they can access my posts via tabs and quickly find what they are looking. For example all my design studies posts would be in a tab or page exclusively for design studies.
  5. Finally I plan to delete this blog and move over to wordpress. From what I have seen from other peoples blogs it looks slicker and more professional.

Semester 2: Assignment 3 The Big Bingo Adventure

Servie Design Tools

This semester we have been introduced to service design tools. These tools are useful as it can help you gather more specific information about a subject you are looking at or how well you design will be received by others. One tool which I felt would have been useful in my first project is the Wizard of Oz Mythology tool. Its name derives from the great Wizard himself but as he was hiding behind his curtain. The Wizard of Oz would have allowed people to get up close and personal with my piece whilst I was watching them without them knowing. I would hear and see everything that they said or did to my piece. Our first project was a vessel project in which we simply had to create a vessel of some kind. Like many of my pieces I invited people to pick it up and explore it. I like to create little rewards for the viewer that only by picking it up and becoming almost child like curiosity will they find. Using this service tool would therefore allow me to see if my piece had the desired effect.

Vessel Project

The Big Bingo Adventure

For our third assignment this semester we were asked to go someplace we had never been before such as the bingo, football match or casino. We then were asked to go along one week and observe what was going on, paying particular attention to how people acted within this environment. An environment in which they should be right at home in.

Being an avid supporter of Dundee Football Club and enjoy the occasional roll of the dice the bingo hall was my only option. This assignment was intended to make us feel a little lost and uncomfortable and I have to admit I was feeling a tad bit anxious before I went anywhere near the bingo. My earliest experience with the game was way back when I was a wee lad in primary school. Every week my mum, gran and auntie would go along to the game with the hope of winning the big money. Tucked up in bed pretending to sleep my mum would come in and check in on us and regale both me and my brother with stories of how our granny was awaiting on that elusive last number or how the three of them would split the winnings, even if it was just a tenner ha ha! Not to sure if everybody does this but it seems to be an unwritten rule of the game.

One of my mothers tales was when one week they sat at a random table and some ting bruiser of an auld Dundee woman come tottering up and shouted at them for sitting at her lucky table. For some strange reason this story has always stayed with me. I really do not like any form of confrontation and I was for this reason I was feeling a tad apprehensive about going!

Unfortunately you don’t get anywhere in life if once in a while you don’t stick your neck out and go for it (bit dramatic for the bingo I will agree but being a Dundee lad I know how competitive the local women can be about their game…no offence mum ha ha!) So go for it I did! A few days before the class had intended to go I decided to register in case it would take time for my membership to go through.

My bingo hall of choice was the Mecca hall situated on the Nethergate. First thing I noticed was their enormous sign sat atop the roof like a spire competing with the church’s next door. (This building is on the site of the old Green’s playhouse cinema which the bingo did occupy before it burnt down in the mid-90s. The building that we see today is a rebuild and they have given a nod to the original by keeping the cinema style sign.) It is constantly lit with the giant letters flashing in different sequences. You can see it from far away and is a constant reminder that it is there.

The Nethergate Mecca Bingo

Entering the main lobby I was surprised how dull it was. As there is no natural light coming in from the entrance the light doesn’t really change during the day but stays constant. You could easily spend hours in this space and loose track of time. Could this be planned or an accident? I will come back to this later.

The golden staircase and reddish carpet may possibly make the players feel almost important and celebrity like in status. The walls are adorned with framed posters advertising the massive cash prises you could win and cheap nights that are coming up soon. There is also fancy wooden side table with leaflets that advertise special offers and booklets on how to play the game. Two tings that I took from was firstly that framing the posters and using fancy tables reinforced the “faux classiness” of the bingo however small a detail they may be. Secondly before I had even reached the desk to join up I already knew what I could win and I would have a rough idea of how to play. Having paint stained clothes on, a bushy ginger beard and my trademark coloured tammy on I decided to not bring anymore attention to myself and sneak up the stairs and avoid what has to be the worlds smallest escalator. Making that transition from the entrance up to the desk you have already made a physical and psychological decision that you are going in to play.

As I approached the desk I was greeted by a semi smart suited gentleman which I presumed was the deputy manager. I made this assumption as he was spending what I thought was a lot of time behind the desk operating the till even though there was plenty of staff. I do not think the general manager would have the time spend there going by what I have witnessed with my own store managers I have worked with in the supermarket where I work. He was also the only one at the time wearing a suit as everyone wore a pink Mecca polo shirt, which are very recognisable which will be so people can identify them quickly if they need help or information. All the staff wore name badges with their first names on it. This gives the place a certain characteristic, almost like and extended family. It would make people feel more at ease when asking them a question. The situation is therefore less formal and more relaxing.

The smart dressed man then smoothly handed me over to a colleague in pink after a rather brash conversation in which I explained that I would like to join. Perhaps because of my appearance or that I was on my own and did not fit the usual profile of a bingo player but I felt the smart man dismissed me quite quickly. Level of comfort falling very quickly, the urge to run out of there rising ha ha!
The pink shirted colleague presented me with a form to fill my personal details out before entering them into his computer. Having a boy of similar age to myself help me join the bingo added to my uneasiness and to be honest made me feel like a right idiot. This is down to me being silly and caring about what people think but so far my experience at the bingo was not enjoyable. A couple of standard questions and clicks on the keyboard later and voila I was a fully fledged member of the Mecca bingo. A welcome pack full of information about special games nights and the rules was handed over to me with my own personalised membership card. These alone can have a big impact on someone. The membership card is yours and yours only confirming that you are apart of something special- the Mecca family! It also reminds you of what you could miss out on if you do not go. This makes you want to go and gamble whilst being apart of something. Getting the card and packs quickly meant you could play straight away and part with your money quicker.

As I hurriedly left through the main entrance I was almost blinded by the sunshine outside. I had only been in there for about 15 minutes but my eyes reacted like I had been in a dark box for days. The lighting inside would appear to be rigged so that people could not easily tell what time of day it. The whole experience is similar to what I have seen in photographs of the interiors of Las Vegas casinos. People have a tendency to start heading home when it starts to get dark or venture out if they see the sun shining. This building does not allow for this and so people stay to play making the hall more money.

Whilst I had been signing up the staff member had mentioned that the Thursday night was free night and that I had a token in my pack that would allow another member a free evening of play. Simple but effective salesmanship as I went along that Thursday and brought my best friend Natalie along as she was desperate to play as she was getting it free. Everyone likes anything that free ha ha! Just to prove how effective that information was, that Thursday saw the majority of the jewellery class attend the evening session!

My bingo pack and game cards

Natalie let me take lead as I had to learn and experience this for myself. Following the old ladies to the desk I saw that they were handing over their membership cards to the smart dressed man who would scan the card and greet them as they entered. Handing over my card I get the same personalised greeting as the ladies before me, “Good evening Grant, have a great evening.” Hold the boat. I have mixed feeling about this. Okay this makes you feel special that they go that extra inch and welcome you with your name. Nice for older people who are perhaps playing on their own and it makes them feel welcome and it seems the staff glad you came. However, I felt uncomfortable by this. This gentleman has only saw me twice, if he remembers the previous encounter before this, and anyone can read a name of a screen. The biggest issue I had with it was the he used my Christian name and not Mr Herron. Firstly he isn’t a friend and I haven’t invited him to refer to me as Grant. Secondly my parents call me Grant, and my friends call me Granty both of which he is not. Although I can understand why they use this type of friendly informal language as it keeps the place relaxed and welcoming. I am perhaps being just picky and possibly slightly biased towards him for I don’t know him myself and he may be a nice guy ha ha!

We are then herded between two desks, one offering electronic game pads the other selling the old paper style books. I decide to go old skool and get the books. The pink polo shirt wearing ladies behind the desk ask us if we want extra books for extra games and a chance to win the big national game all for a few pound each. Again the bingo is constantly trying to get you to play more and spend more. We cave and buy extra books and a pen for Natalie ( I was conveniently supplied with one in my pack so I was ready to play.) Already I have spent a tenner on free night!!! A well why not, this is my first time and it’s turning into a proper wee night out. My nervousness clearly getting taken over by excitement. Still worried I will sit in a luck seat though. As we pass these desks we enter the next section which is full of puggy machines. Not even heard the call of the numbers yet and again I have the opportunity to gamble and win big prizes. This room is mirrored and is duller than the lobby. The lights and sounds from the machines fill the room and are a feast for the sense. The atmosphere could be described as exciting and it is easy to see how people can get wrapped up in it all. The players in this room vary from mid-20s to old age pensioners with the majority of them being working class. This is due to their dress sense of white trainers, tracksuits and cheap looking chunky gold jewellery all of which is common in the working class.

After leaving the small amusement room the building opens into a brighter hall, which I had expected to be much larger. The hall consisted if three main areas; firstly a slightly raised level with calling desk, big screen and tables and chairs, secondly a balcony level that wraps around the whole room with tables and chairs and lastly the lower area that contained most tables and chairs, along with snack shop, a bar and another small amusement area.

The first game of the evening session had begun as we came into the all so we just grabbed a table in the lower area beside a group of my fellow jewellers. Luckily the place was quieter than I had thought it would was relieved to have not sat in anybody’s lucky seat ha ha! Instead of jumping straight into the game I decided to take the opportunity to do what I was hear to do and observe. The majority of people within the hall were old age pensioners with many sitting on their own. Everyone was spread out evenly through the hall on all levels. Apart from the caller shouting out numbers and the random scream of “HOUSE” the hall was deadly silent. The players gaze firmly fixed to their books, pens furiously marking numbers off. The atmosphere is quite intense. A bellow of “LINE” cries out interrupting the silence. Everyone sighs and carries on their conversations where they had left off and I hear the famous “I was just waiting on one number,” line coming from a few sitting close to me. In between games you have the opportunity to play the table game for a pound a turn. A section of your table has a smaller fixed game card on it which you place counters on top when your numbers are called. You put your pound in the slot next to you and the prize fund increases on the screen. Another example of how the bingo can easily make money from people. For a cheeky pound you could make £70, surely worth the risk and a small thrill while you wait for the big game to return. This can be quite dangerous as you could do this all day, the player may miss it by a number and tries again because they were so close last time. People hold up ten and twenty pound notes in the air. This attracts the attention of the Mecca staff who happily change their notes for pound coins so they can play the table games. Makes playing even easier that not even having the correct change can stop you as they have it all covered. The staff were super friendly and would come over to my group of friends and make sure they were doing okay and knew what they were doing. It may have been because it was a table of attractive females that caused so much attention but they appeared to be like that with everyone there to a certain degree. Good service like this makes for a more enjoyable experience and makes you happy to return.

Some of the Dundee faithful

The snack shop at the end of the hall was offering snacks and full meals for a very cheap price and the bar next to it was selling some of the cheapest pints I have seen in Dundee. This encourages people to have their meals there in between sessions without having to move and get unsettled. Everything is under one roof. I spot and old couple reading a broadsheet and knitting, with the lady wearing her slippers. They are clearly comfortable in this environment that it has become an extension of their home. I know that I part with money easier if I am in an enjoyable and comfortable situation. For example in a restaurant, if the meal was amazing and the service impeccable you are more than likely to leave a good tip and perhaps have a coffee to extend your enjoyable experience rather than try to escape pronto because it was awful.

The blue rinse brigade is the main bingo player but as I look around I spot more younger people with what could be their mum or aunts. There is also a neighbour of my parents with his wife who are middle aged and both professionals so I guess they are their to let the hair down and have some fun without the children there to annoy them.

The bingo is not just someplace to win money, although many go purely for the money, whilst others go to have fun and meet up with friends. During the break I notice an old man and woman sharing a laugh and having a good wee chat. The man then leaves and sits on his own in time for the next game leaving the lady on her own. Are they old friends? Ex-lovers? Start of a new relationship? Or simply lonely polite people sharing a conversation with bingo as their common interest? Who knows but ihabve found interesting that when people get old and grey they seem to get a pas that allows them to talk to anyone who is old and grey despite the fact there could still be a 20 year age gap ha ha! Perhaps it is a generation thing when people were polite and had manners and it has stuck with them. There is something oddly quite romantic about it all. Just waiting for Clark Gable to burst through the doors and start calling the numbers!!!

On the slightly raised area I noticed two white haired ladies staring down at us with a look of utter distain strewn across their faces. It felt as if we had entered into their hall without prior permission from them. For the majority of the evening their icy stares would continue…between games of course. I wondered if we had upset them by being there. Perhaps they did not like a group of youngsters taking part in an old persons scene. It is maybe the only place they don’t have to put up with us young whipper snappers and now we were taking this from them. Or maybe they were just curios to see a large amount of try to play bingo with no one having a clue what was going on! Not everyone was that icy mind you, as we had to older women who were both sitting on their own more than happy to share their knowledge of the game. They had obviously sensed the panic and confusion from our table and cheerily shout across with advice.

My first experience of the bingo will stay with me for a while. It’s a strange place, almost a little world of its own. Its sole purpose is to make as much money as it can from people, like any business does. And at the end of the day it is a business, but you can be forgiven for thinking differently as you are treated as a good friend, a part of the family as soon as you walk through the door.

After all that observing I was keen to get involved and see what all the fuss is about. Between you and me dear readers, I maybe converted ha ha! It sure is addictive and the adrenaline rush…I was shocked! Will I go back? Perhaps one day. After all I was only waiting for one damn number for the national prize!!!

Semester 2: Assignment 2 Adverts and Polysemy

For our second assignment we were asked to read an essay by Roland Barthes entitled “The Rhetoric Of The Image”. It discusses the relationship that is present with images and text and introduces us to the concept of polysemy. Polysemy, as a definition, is the existence of many meanings. So, for example, if I were to describe an image as being polysemic then it would have more than one meaning, which most images have. Barthes however states that this multiple meaning can be changed if we are to add text. Now adding text does not always give it one meaning but it can allow different meanings to emerge on a similar theme.

Believe it or not I would recommend Barthes’ essay to at least likeminded creative types, even if for a bit of bathroom reading ha ha! Okay so it took me several attempts to get into it and another couple of rereads and many a look in the dictionary just to understand half the words to roughly get the gist of it…selling it to you yet?? It is an interesting read, if a bit beige but does introduce some curios ideas that some people might find useful if they are trying to create a winning image or advert for their wares.

For this assignment I chose to do option 3 and look at advertising. Having looked at child advertising and the effects it can have on children in a previous assignment I was interested to find out by simply manipulating an existing set of adverts, in this case removing the text, how people would perceive the image. It was also an opportunity to find out peoples reaction to the advert once I showed them it with the text and brand logos.

Four images were then chosen that did not make it to obvious what it was trying to sell. The original unaltered images are as follows.

Advert 1

Advert 2

Advert 3

Advert 4

To get a good number of responses in a short time I decided to create a small questionnaire that I split into 3 parts. First part showed the new altered images and the following questions:

1) Explain in your own words what do you see?
2) How does this image make you feel when you look at it?

Second part was something JB had told us to stay clear of whilst doing the questioning and do it at the end but I decided to do it in the middle to see what the initial responses would be. I asked them:

1) If this image was to be included in an advertising campaign what do you think it would be for?

The final part was the pictures unaltered, as you would find them in magazines, and the following questions:

1) What’s your response to the image now you know what the advert is?
2) How good do you think this is as an advert?

I ventured out an asked some people and collected the results before analysing all my information.

Already full aware of what the images were getting used for I was surprised by some of the response I got for a couple of the images. Advert 3, for example, was an advert for Adidas swimwear. To begin with my responses were varied in terms of how the viewer felt towards it and what it could possibly be advertising. Out of the six people asked, a third were confused by it, another third were intrigued by it and the other third were disturbed by the image. Four of them thought it was for something positive like energy drinks or fitness clothing. The other two flipped it and went dark suggesting it was a self harm campaign or steroid abuse. After they were shown the real image everyone unanimously liked the advert commenting that the idea behind it (that wearing Adidas swimwear makes you swim as though you were a fish!) worked perfectly. One person actually said it would make them buy the brand.

The responses for advert one went slightly differently. Five of the six thought it was funny and made them laugh. Most suggested it was an advert for waste reduction or being green and a car advet because, as she said, “they always do stupid things like that!” The sixth response felt angry about this image. He described the image as being a vandalised bench and suggested it to be an advert for the police force. After they were shown the real image the group split into to camps. First three did not expect it to be about saving water but were still positive about it claiming it was a great advert that got the point across whilst keeping it fun and light hearted. The second group, containing the angry man, hated the advert claiming it was stupid and really thought it could have been better.

Looking through the results and seeing how varied the answers were when the people were shown the altered images it reinforced the thoughts of Barthes who explained that an image can conjure up several different ideas but with a simple piece of text you can focus peoples views to a similar conclusion. However I think that what this experiment has highlighted for me is that depending on the knowledge of the people would determine on what message they picked up on. Barthes talks about an advert containing 3 messages (using advert 3 to demonstrate), these are a linguistic message (this would be the Adidas logo and text), a coded message (this would be the knowledge that Adidas is a sports brand and it has a swimwear range) and a non-encoded message (this would be the knowledge that fish have are great swimmers and they have gills to breath). Due to peoples own personal knowledge and experiences it will determine what answer they give. For example the responses that suggested advert 3 maybe a self harm campaign or the angry man saying advert 1 was for the police may have a reason to do so. These people might have had some personal experience with these subjects. With the text restored everyone is steered towards a similar conclusion.

The use of images in adverts varies really good to poor if we are talking purely about the image. Some adverts can get away with no text and only a logo of the brand, others need both before it can be fully understood. How effective these different types of adverts work depends on the individual, this small experiment show it can vary from advert to advert and person to person.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Semester 2: Assignment 4 GRALI Design!

For assignment 4 myself and Ali decided to try a different approach to the task. Our idea was to work together, to design a questionnaire/interview which would give what we felt were better responses.

Mind Map

Interview Questions and Research

To design the questionnaire we started by choosing our question which was ‘what objects do people treasure the most and why?’, then we created a mind map to help us come up with more ideas for questions which would give us more feed back and avoiding closed questions. We then took our findings from the mind map, and individually created a questionnaire. After this we used the design service tool ‘role play’ and asked each other our questions to find out which questions were best suited for the interview. Some of our questions were similar so we chose we chose the question that gave us a more in depth response. Our final questions were as follows:

1. Which object(s) do you treasure the most?

2. How did you obtain this object?

3. Describe your attachment to this object.

4. Do you treasure your object more because of its monetary or sentimental value, or both?

5. If both, what outweighs more, monetary or sentimental value?

6. How would you feel if your object was lost, stolen or damaged and why?

7. How do you feel when you interact with this object?

With the first few interviewees we struggled to get an answer for the fist question, so we then amended the first question to:

1. Do you have an object which you treasure above any other of your possessions, what is this object?

We conducted four interviews which consisted of two girls and two boys. The objects that were the most treasured were: a photograph, an iphone, a bed and a playstation 3. We initially noticed differences between the male answers and the female answers. This was that the males both chose electrical items ( iphone and playstation 3) which helped them deal with every day life. The females on the other hand both chose items which had a greater effect on there emotions.

We found that the boys had a few similarities, which were that if the item had to be replaced, given a short period of time, they would feel the same for the new object as it still offered the same service as the original. Both of the males said that they get a thrill from using it. Whether to listen to music, talk to friends, or to play games. Without there objects they feel that they would be lost. The only one disagreement was that the playstation was used as an escape from reality. This interviewee is a wheelchair user and uses these games to ‘live’ as an able bodied person. The iphone user was I complete contrast as he used his phone to stay in touch and keep up to date with what is going on in his life.

As with the males, the females also had similarities. Both the photograph and the bed cannot be replaced if stolen or damaged, our interviewees felt that they would be upset if this happened. The objects both had a great deal of sentimental value, but the value differs for each object. The photograph has sentimental value because it is of a family member who is no longer with them. Where as the bed gains its sentimental value from being repaired by the user and is unique only to them. Both these objects pull on the users emotions more than the males objects. But again the type of emotion the user feels is different. The photograph evokes emotions of sadness for her loss but also happiness because of the memories. The bed on the other hand help to remove negative emotions and anxieties which creates a calm and relaxing frame of mind.

One of our interviewees, after getting rather emotional about his attachment to his object, he then reminded us both that ‘at the end of the day, it’s only an object’, we found this interesting because it’s not the object that’s important, it’s the memories behind it.

We both agreed that our memories are more significant than an inanimate object, as they can be broken, lost or changed as society evolves. Where as our memories are uniquely personal to us and never change.