The artist’s main struggle throughout their work is communication. The sole purpose for an artist is to channel their thoughts, ideas and emotions through their medium of choice. However these concepts run the risk of losing translation once they reach the audience intended. Throughout history visual languages have developed, giving rise to symbology, the main basis of communicating, in fact the very wording this essay is typed in has become a global means to understand through designated symbols, as with body language now being understood, the language in paintings, the poses, the textures, colour palettes all add to the richness of the artists’ original thoughts. What this project intends to delve into is the creation of this ocular form of language, the narrator of the mind’s eye to the parental visual metaphor. There are many debates into whether visual metaphor should actually exist. As Stanford insists metaphor only belongs in the realm of words and that symbolism is the visual equivalent and there is no room for amalgamation. What if the term metaphor, which is used to describe the language we are being asked to see in visual art, is only used temporarily, as there is yet a word for this process? Whittock suggests this maybe the case, where there are experiences and emotions or feelings that verbal or written language just do not have the words to express or convey. Therefore metaphor is used as it is the closest approximation, for in literature metaphor conjures up images within the reader’s imagination as pictures on the screen are in turn developing additional imagery and emotions for the audience or the viewer. However once visual metaphors become common knowledge they become, what is termed as “dead metaphors”, they become symbolic, it is taken as read that this means that and that means this. Visual metaphor gives birth to symbolism and language but in the process extinguishes itself. It is the purpose of this research to show visual metaphor’s rightful place in existence, be it not in the conscious but the subconscious, where the spark of artistic creation is born.
Throughout the research psychology is the dominating factor that holds the link between director and audience. The director’s original message relayed through the art form should somehow be legible and interpreted by the viewer. Previous symbolism then needs to be implemented even in a minute or subconscious form. For the idea to be unique the methods and images need to be new and adventurous thus the creation of visual metaphor. However, dependence on the individual receiving the information, their experience, knowledge and their own creative mind will define whether the message is relayed properly. Visual metaphor does not just lie at the door of the director. As the viewer also has a creative ability in the imagination they may spark their own visual metaphors, which could lead to an even richer emotional story, thus every viewer will receive a variation of their own towards the same film.
It is with this focus that research has taken a turn towards the mind of psychics and mediums. The rise of Spiritualism in the Victorian period harboured and inspired many strange and wonderful stories. Investigation into selected period psychics has led to further information of Psychical Research, the proof of the parlour tricks and the comparison of Illusionist and Magicians of the time. Therefore coverage of selected psychics, ones proved to be false and ones that no proof could be obtained will be compared to selected successful Illusionists who defended their profession against Spiritualism and the supernatural. It is the purpose of this research to show the comparison between illusionists and directors, but also the link of deceiving the mind, the only difference being the medium in which they ply their art.
With the tool of autosuggestion, a trick essentially employed by psychics, a director has a structure in which they can elaborate and develop into their own artistic message, which as stated before, can lead to the audiences imaginations taking reign. Three distinct directors have been chosen for examination of the use of symbolism but have broken cinematic rules and in turn have created their own language in the process, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Derek Jarman. Hitchcock, born in Britain, started work in Europe and moved to American made cinema; Kubrick born in New York, worked for America but made his films in Britain; Jarman’s born and bred British films. This mix of subjects will hopefully help to distinguish the varying style’s of each artist and their use of visual metaphor and symbolism through mise-en-scene elements of the cinematic form to create illusions to deceive audiences into believing in the moment.Therefore the main objectives this project aims is to explore is the existence of visual metaphor and it’s use within the cinematic form; it’s relation to hallucination and psychology of the mind, drawing on Victorian and Edwardian influences between the battles of the supernatural and scientific trickery for supremacy. Tests of visual effects within mise-en-scene elements for a short animated film will be carried out, using symbolism as the basic structure but turning to visual metaphor to create new ideas and concepts, not only within the film but incorporating the exhibition to help with autosuggestion. These tests will lead to the development of a final animated film that will incorporate the research laid out throughout this project’s research.