During the last academic year (2010-11), a number of design/art students from the Stockport College visited the Manchester Museum’s Entomology department and undertook their ‘bug-related’ final year projects. One of them, Matt Geeling who got his degree in design and visual arts, is sharing his experience of working in the Manchester Museum with visitors to our blog.
Beyond the Surface
I have just finished studying on the design and visual arts degree at Stockport College. I specialise in Moving Image, so the type of work that I create is generally animation based. As the final part of our degree, we undertake a major project which lasts the whole of our final semester. Early on in the project I decided that I wanted to create a project which looked at the idea of taking one ‘object’ and using it to represent something else. After initial deliberation, I decided that I wanted to look at the idea of camouflage and a soon interest in insects and their use of camouflage became apparent.
Over a number of trips to the museum I studied various types of insects. Drawing from observation, documenting insects with photographs and speaking to the entomologists in order to get an insight into particular insects. As my project developed the research that I gained from the museum was extremely helpful.
Shots from my exhibition:
This is a shot taken from my exhibition. I used this unit in order to display artifacts in a similar way to that of a museum. In the picture below you can see how I displayed the insects that Manchester Museum leant me and they went down extremely well.
Here is an overview of my exhibit:
As part of my exhibition I decided that I wanted to create an interactive exhibit. As my animation was based underneath a kitchen sink, I decided that I wanted to use the actual unit that I modified and used for filming within my piece. I decided to take the main characters from my animation and created simple loops which were back projected under the sink, where the characters moved around. For example, the butterfly to the rear of the cupboard flapped a little on top of the dishwasher tablet box, subtly revealing it’s camouflage and the projection at the front of the cupboard shows one of my insects camouflaged as a dishwasher tablet.
Here is a link to my final piece, entitled ‘Beyond the Surface’
Manchester museum has been a fantastic resource for me for my project. Without being able to visit the museum and being able to work with the entomologists I would certainly not have got as much out the project as I did.
In terms of creating a narrative for my piece I wanted to use an organic process. So I decided to create a series of question and interviewed Dr Dmitri Logunov, the Curator of Entomology. By using the responses I was able to build an effective narrative. Having a specialist talk about their area of expertise was invaluable. Drawing inspiration from film makers such as Paul Bush, who uses found content in order to build narrative, see here.
Before working behind the scenes in the entomology department I didn’t realise that these sort of resources existed to allow students to reap the benefits of such great collections, but even more get help from experts in the field. A fantastic resource that I don’t think many people necessarily know is available and I would highly recommend taking advantage of the possible opportunities.
Matt Geeling (matt-gee.co.uk; www.linkedin.com/in/mattgeeling)