DSF- NW-2

Undressing cognition

At the end of a scorching December holiday, I found myself driving through a small South African village, on route to Cape Town. The heat was so overwhelming that it forced me to stop at a spaza shop (rural Africa’s version of a informal convenience store) to buy something cool to drink.  Once back in the vehicle I witnessed the oddest thing.  Through the living room windows of an old farmhouse, I witnessed a gigantic snow-covered pine tree.  At first I though it was heat stroke but when I looked again I realized, that even the windows were frosted up with what seemed to be, thick white snow.  On the front lawn a black Santa Clause was trying to catch two wool-clad helpers in an attempt to stop them from jumping through a water sprinkler. Impressed looking neighbors were all dressed and waiting with misses Clause, while the song; I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”, was blaring from the speakers of an old radio. After a few neurotic attempts in grabbing hold of the elves, and with a final few lines of snow-in-a-can, he was ready to capture his masterpiece on a brand new second hand mobile phone.

It was the harsh site of a dead bird, landing on my bonnet that broke my interest.  I realized that amidst all the excitement, the temperature has climbed to a staggering 42 degree Celsius.  It was only later as I hit the long road home, that I started unpacking layer upon layer of perceived impression.   Despite the fact that most South Africans have never experienced real snow, most of the village was motivated and driven to redecorate everything in snow.  I really started getting hot under the collar as I remembered how extremely uncomfortable everybody was.  Everything they were wearing was culturally and geographically irrelevant.

European and American impressions encoded within the styling design of character dress filtered through and sediment in their cognitive memories.

Excessive consumption of foreign impressions has left them and other South Africans dissonantly affected.  Technological accessibility and affordability has exposed a rapid growing South African film viewing audience to a myriad of highly persuasive and communicative character impressions that is foreign.  Impressions that projects foreign character narratives with related irrelevant anxieties to a South African viewing audience.  Anxieties that comes encoded with narrative an event that offers ways of minimizing dissonance in other cultures.   A foreign narrative comes with foreign styling designs for foreign characters.  They encode shame-based anxiety through coded impressions evident in the styling design of character dress.

In the 2002 book, Introducing NLP: Psychological Skills for Understanding and Influencing People, authors, Joseph O’Connor and John Seymour talks to the concept of

neuro-linguistic programming through the filtering and mapping of possible sensed impressions in attempt to simplify perception in search of meaning.

Now, due to an ever-increasing variety and influx of infinite accessible communication platforms (such as films, television programs, mobile phones, tablet etc.), a large South African audience are left overloaded with impressions that indicate and signal character information such as culture, language, beliefs, experiences, values, interest, assumptions and goal attainment strategies that is highly effective in mapping meaning. They become filters that effect our behavioral frames and tell us what we are thinking and how we should act in our search for meaning.

In a fast developing, very diverse and newly democratic South Africa, people are more than ever pressured to ascribe correct meaning in each other, through cognitive ‘crystallized’ people impressions. In South Africa, tried and tested ways of getting to know the other by the sharing of relevant cultural narratives through storytelling, are circumvented in a hasty anxiety driven push to find meaning. People from all walks of life are daily coming in close contact with other people from different races, religions, orientations etc. and now for maybe the first time ever having to find meaning in ocean of unknown people impressions.  In a country with such a turbulent segregated past, most South Africans are for the first time (knowingly or unknowingly) on a quest of sensory impression exploration in search of being grounded in new meaning.

Meta-cognitively speaking, it is good for the people to go through such a process in the search for healing and spiritual peace, but it still is extremely difficult to go through the process.  People are in a way grieving the loss of what was (good and bad) and trying to deal with the new and uncertain reality of now. On a daily basis I experiences how people from all walks of live had to not just fight with yesterdays impressions but also with all the new ones that was confronting them on a daily basis.

When I joined the South African School of Live Performance and Media Motion Picture (AFDA in short) as film lecturer, the intent was to develop three individual discipline outcomes (Costume Design, Film Styling and Make-up Design) for the BA and BA (honors) degree programs.  Due to insufficient benchmarking, it was decided to systematically introduce the new outcomes into the learning program and curriculum and initially group them together within the Production Design learning program.  In due time, the abbreviation CMS was born in representation of the subject that is responsible for the styling design of relevant character dress. Later research clearly indicated that there was need for one discipline that represented the development of character for various narratives.

It became clear that the focus should strongly be put on the utilization of objects such as the fashioning and styling design of clothing, patternmaking, manufacturing, illustration, technical drawing, drawing, accessories, make-up, special effects make-up and hair as part in the process of character Self-presentation.  In order for South Africans to effectively fashion and style affective characters that is relevant to new and ever developing target viewing markets, more conceptual, emotional, and cultural relevant character narrative concepts was needed for the consumption of entertainment needs.

Each fictional character need to be constructed based on specific consumption needs, wishes and demands of the targeted film viewing audience and encoded to complete a sense of relevant self-presentation when the projected images are decoded for character impressions.

Research and education was necessary to equip designers to plan, pre-visualize, structure, market and advertise characters that would relate conceptually and emotionally to encoded people impressions for the consumption of specific and general South African target markets.

Being untrained in the styling design of character dress, people impression was randomly communicated in a hit-or-miss manner by film producers and directors to film audiences.  At the time Film Styling was a completely foreign concept and designers of costume, make-up, hair and special effects make-up was not conceptually and perceptually trained.  Because of an all around lack of conceptual expertise and knowledge, were character impression seldom communicated in a goal-directed and persuasive methodology and manner.  This was considered a very big problem and literally meant that narratives have been directed blindly to target film-viewing audiences when it came to relevant character impressions encoded through the styling design of character dress.

Qualitative research uncovered and noted that all key ‘players’ in the game of film character communication, was focused predominantly on the verbal communication and impressions that indicate but blindly unknown of non-verbal impressions hidden in the semiotics of the styling design of character dress that operate on a cognitive levels linked to psychology, sociology and spirituality.  These non-verbal impressions are highly persuasive in communication.

In this light, the need was highlighted for the creation of a new field of research that would equip designers with the necessary conceptual, perceptual, technical and concrete knowledge.  At the beginning of 2005, CMS was proposed as a new discipline and field of study, which would assist responsible connotative non-fictional character design and direction.  Through the semiotic encoding of implicative people impressions, impressions would visually indicate character history; reveal the status quo and signal goal-orientated fulfillments.  In a subjective CMS study field were creativity and interpretations are of different levels synthetic qualitative research was needed to amalgamate visual character design in search for effective, objective and fair teaching and assessment schemata.

Visual reference 1: Photograph labeled, filtered impressions by Michael Ivy

Visual reference 1: Photograph labeled, filtered impressions by Michael Ivy

The information gained from the empirically derived mapping of styled stimuli assist human beings in the formation of social judgments of the others sense of Self-presentation (connoted in the styling design of character dress) and is highly effective in the process of modeling and integration by which the internal formation of impression is translated into a production of an overt response.   The ultimate aim would be for designers to design and direct this overt response in order to effectively affect the viewers’ mood and emotion and states of evaluation.

From birth, humans Self-presentation develops uniquely through socialization in which heterogeneous neurotic, social and existential anxieties are amalgamated and consolidated in cognitive memories, causing intense dissonance. The human are then motivated to minimise that dissonance through the formation of a goal-attainment strategy. A dissonance perfectly illustrated by my South African Santa.

Through the encoded styling design of perceived character dress, are people impressions conscious, pre-conscious and subconsciously filtered (refer to visual reference 1), through the semiological modeling of character through triadic parallel systems of satisfaction constraint processes (TPSSCP).  When triggered, these anxieties are highly effective in affecting a process of innate and organic defense as a direct response to the perception of relevant visual, and verbal stimuli, reactively resulting in the polar opposite formation of our public fashioned persona.

Ten years of research culminated in the structural model and formula for the fego DNA Schemas.  A model (refer to diagram 2) that represents the filtering and mapping processes in the programming and formation of a representational fictional ‘mental apparatus ‘through three distinct cognitive schemas.  Schemas that generally represent constructed characters through the encoding of relevant shame-based anxieties.

Diagram 1: Redefined version of Freud’s basic representational model of the human mental apparatus

Diagram 1: Redefined version of Freud’s basic representational model of the human mental apparatus

image005

Diagram 2:The structural model of the fego DNA Schemas.

The Human Schema represents neurotic fictional anxiety as evident in the (scripted, designed, constructed, directed and projected) physiology and psychology of character.  The Real Schema represents fictional social anxiety as evident in the (scripted, designed, constructed, directed and projected) sociology of character.

But one the main differences (of which there is a few) are that a fictional character does not have a real id, superego and ego in exactly the same sense as the non-fictional character has (refer to diagram 1).  The fictional character’s ‘mental apparatus’ is completely fabricated by the scriptwriter, co-designed by all cast and crew, directed by the director and mechanically managed and sold by the producers.  But the biggest difference for me is the fact that the fictional character does not have a soul.

So in order for me to create a structure for the fictional ‘mental apparatus’, I needed to supplement diagram 1 with a third parallel system that offers satisfaction and constraint in an attempt to represent the non-fictional characters spirit.  This motivated me to design the Ideal Schema in diagram 2 in representation of fictional character’s ‘ego’.

The Ideal Schema represents fictional existential anxiety as evident in the (scripted, designed, constructed, directed and projected) character’s spirit.

The fego DNA have time and time again proven to be a very useful modeling tool in assisting students in their process and pursuit of relevance.

Fishm

 

Although designed for the use of fictional characterization, I realized that the students have started to utilize the fego DNA Schemas on the analysis of their own sense of self.  The schemas offered them a way in identifying and understanding of their own conscious, preconscious and subconscious belief system, together with the anxieties that drive them.

The more I tried to contextualized that the model has been designed for the relevant encoding of the fictional character, the more they used it for themselves.  Most students have started reporting that the Schemas have made it easier to work with very diverse students, helped them in their pursuit of characterization, minimise anxiety and conflict in the workplace, drastically diminished confusion with working with different characters and the students indicated that they have an increased sense of calm and creativity.

On of my students, Trevor Stuurman who have been using the fego DNA Schemas for himself and his work have been doing exceptionally well in South Africa and surrounding countries.  He won the ELLE fashion blogger competition and He is focus on the creation of relevant styling design through the fashioning of character.

Visual reference 1: Burnout shoes.

Visual reference 1: Burnout shoes.

 

After I saw how the students reacted I ended up using the fego (fictional ego) DNA Schemas for myself and ended up positively dealing with and healing of my own sense of burnout through a series of shoe designs that is focused on the pursuit in search of meaning through the exploration of senseless-ness-ness-ness and the minimization of anxiety.

We go throughout life through an innate and organic process of fictionalization.  Every day we add and manage to the desired character we have created.  This character becomes so strong that it consumes our true sense of self-presentation through a variety of shame-based anxieties that is effective in framing our daily behaviour and the character we show our surrounding society.  The irony is that with every impression we add to our fictional sense of self-presentation, the further away we move from the real and relevant person deep within.  For today, I am all but a filtered system of relevant mapped beliefs.  Tomorrow I end up living in a unique reality constructed from the impressions I believed to be relevant enough to sense yesterday.

Photographs and styling by Trevor Stuurman.

Trevor Stuurman

 

Trevor Stuurman, 21, has always described himself as a small town boy working towards his big city dreams. He recently obtained his BA degree in Motion Picture and is currently doing his post grad (Hons) in the same field. Stuurman, the stylist, photographer, blogger and  filmmaker also holds the title of being ELLE Magazine SA’s Style Reporter.

Contact details:
Email: stuurman.trevor@gmail.com
Tumblr:  www.stuurmantrevor@gmail.com
Instagram: @Trevor_stuurman
Twitter: @Trevorstuurman

 

 

Marcelle du Toit

Marcelle du Toit has recently completed her BA (Hons) in Motion Picture Medium as a 2013 Mandela Rhodes Scholar. Marcelle graduated with a double major in producing and costume, make up and styling (CMS). Marcelle’s skills exposed her to additional part-time opportunities and entrepreneurial ventures including commercial industry commissions, event co-ordination and teaching opportunities. As an experienced dancer, Marcelle became involved in group dance training for schools and universities. Marcelle entered the film and entertainment industry full time in January 2014 and is currently a production assistant at Stage 5 Films in Cape Town, working on the Afrikaans feature film: Hollywood in my Huis (Oct 2014). Marcelle believes in the investment of emotional intellect within the corporate environment and hopes to one day start her own design-based company.

About the author

Michiel Germishuys (commonly known as Michael Ivy) are focussed on the identification of national and international cognitive, socio-psychological semiotic encoded fashion trends and patterns that could assist the implementation and development of an therapy that offers healing through the implosion of shame-based anxieties encoded within the styling design of character dress. He is in pursuit of the establishment and positioning of character branding through the Identification, definition, indication and signalling of micro and macro design detailing that postulates & proposes appropriate trends in point, focus, line, shape, texture, colour, silhouette, balance, style and structural lines. He has been teaching and actively been developing the curriculum and learning program for the departments of Costume Design, Make-up Design, Styling and Production Photography for 10 years at the AFDA (The South African School of Live Performance and Medium Motion Picture). He is also focussed on the exploration and forecasting of the following international fashion trends: trends in understanding International fashion, development of fashion philosophies, international fashion cultures, international fashion identities, International fashion representation and International future fashion technologies. Michael Ivy holds a Masters of Arts in Fine Arts and and Honours degree with both the outcomes in Costume, Make-up and Styling for Medium of Motion Pictures. He is currently in search of the correct institute to pursue his research in pursuit of his Phd. Michael Ivy are known for his creative swimwear designs he did for the South African Sports Illustrated as well as fashion showcased in known international magazines the South African ELLE, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire and have designed for international consumer brands such as Absolut Vodca, Protea Group, Spiced Gold, Levi, Nashua and many other. Michael Ivy / Michiel Germishuys may be contacted at: michaelivygreen@gmail.com michaelivyblog.com

Discussion

Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. Film is not only to relation to narrative, I do think it is an extend version of reality put to screen as it deals with the social issues that arise in everyday life.

    Therefor the linking of the Fego between the reality of life and the imagination of the narrative creator, or in this case the student, it is not surprising to see how they will link it to everyday life.

    In today’s society we are constantly bombarded with technology, information, visual stimuli etc. after reading this article and understanding the Fego applying it to everyday life to de-clutter any situation will be inevitable. The concept of the Fego may be structured for film but it can defiantly relate to everyday life, as the character that are created for film are a reflection of society and people within.

    Posted by Stephanie Esterhuizen | March 11, 2014, 10:01 am

Notices

Announcing the Ninth International Conference on Design Principles and Practices to be held at the Chicago University Center (USA), 12-14 March, 2015. Abstracts are accepted in monthly rounds. Proposals received at each monthly deadlines will be reviewed between two to four weeks of the corresponding deadline. Presentation types include paper, poster, workshop, or colloquia. All information available at:  designprinciplesandpractices.com
Visit the website of Design Principles and Practices here