Part 1


'I'd rather be dead than cool' -kurt cobain


Photographic Representation

After discussing the idea and choosing what would be the best approach, I photographed members of the class holding up their answer for the proposed question. I felt this visualisation of a person holding up the answer, 'cool' or 'dead' would work effectively and it did so in the trial photographic sketch.



Outline of the Idea

The aim of the interaction, was to see what people would depicted cool to be, as each person has their own view of what it is to be cool. Would they chose 'cool' to fit in a certain tread or chose 'dead' to feel abstract and to be themselves? These were the questions I was hoping to understand from the interaction.

The visualisation shows the process of the idea; the audience holding either sign, but not the final outcome from the idea. Instead the outcome should have two separate grids, one with people from Camden with an alternative style (I believe they will chose dead as they feel they do not follow the cool trend), the other with people from the city dressed in suits (I believe they will chose cool as they feel they want to fit in. 

The original task is that my partner asks the questions and I take the photographs. Then we can swap this at either location. Furthermore, we can both work on editing the photographs together and presenting them.

Time plan: 

  • Tuesday Afternoon- Take photos of people in both location, record video as well. 
  • Wednesday- Edit the photos and build on any mistakes made.

Locations will be at Camden and the City of London or Kings Cross- an area with people in suits. 

To get people to engage with us, we will propose them the question of choosing either 'dead' or 'cool', from the answer will we hand them a card with the quote on 'I'd rather be dead than cool'. This will make the audience think about their answer and wether they have chosen the answers which actually applies to them. 

Document the process will be through photography and video recording some interaction. 


Reference- Gillian Wearing

Gillian Wearing stopped passers-by and asked them to write down what was on their mind. She then photographed them holding their statement. Wearing has written that this collaboration 'interrupts the logic of photo-documentary and snapshot photography by the subjects' clear collusion and engineering of their own representation.'

The complete series of Signs is comprised of over fifty colour photographs. A broad cross-section of people participated in the photographs and the series provides a fascinating social and historical document. Among the group is one of Wearing's best known images which depicts a smartly dressed young man with a mild, even complacent, expression holding a sign saying simply, 'I'm desperate'. In a 1996 interview Wearing described how 'People are still surprised that someone in a suit could actually admit to anything, especially in the early 1990s, just after the crash.


'I'm Desperate' and 'Everything is connected in life...' 1992-3


Initial Photos

The following photos were the images we had taken from the area of Camden, they represented the alternative style which we wanted to achieve. However the results were not what we expected, and the balance between cool and dead seem to be equal. 




A selection of images from Camden. To make the interaction between the people and the questions I set up a tumblr site where all the photos from Camden were posted.



People in suits where happy enough to interact and answer the question. However they were not interested in taken their photo and would not allow it to happen. After trying this for half an hour I decided to re-evaluate the proposed idea. 

Instead I thought that being cool can be so individual and unique that people in business suits did not really express their own style as they have to dress a certain way. Therefore with the limited time scale I thought the next best thing that has multitude of people expressing their own individual style is at CSM. So using the same process and achieving the same aim, I photographed over a hundred people and would present in only one grid with multiple image of individuals. 


Tests for Final Outcome

Using the photos from Camden, this outcome used these images and represented them in the text 'Dead' or 'Cool'. 


This outcome was what I wanted to achieve with a variety of different people who each believed being cool was something different. However, after discussing this with my partner, we felt it didn't communicate the message strong enough, thus something else was needed to try and get this message across. 



Video of Interaction

Download IMG_1212.MOV.1 [1.27MB]

Interaction with card



To interact with the audience we would give them a card with the quote on once they had answered the question. From this many asked what it meant and after I explained to them, those which had chosen 'cool' regretted choosing it. The initial question proposed to them disregards the explanation of the quote, which in one way is good as it makes the answer raw. However in another sense the question does not ofter any guidance to why they are picking 'dead' or 'cool', hence it would have been interesting to see what the results would have looked like if this was the case. 



Final Outcome

Thinking about the previous image and how to improve it, to communicate the message. I thought that having someone in the middle of the grid holding no sign, would complete contrast to the idea of choosing whether to be cool to fit in with the tread or dead to go against normality; to be yourself. This combined with the white background and white t-shirt would add to the purity of the decision and suggest that perhaps choosing neither is the right answer.




The initial quote of 'I'd rather be dead than cool' was, from my point of view successfully integrated into the project. The choice of selecting either 'cool' or 'dead' related back to the meaning of the quote, to be cool to fit in or dead to be original and not follow a trend. The interactive aspect of the project worked by handing the audience the card with the quote on, once they had answered the question. This made them think about the choice they had made, and perhaps contemplated on their mind for the remainder of the day. 

Using the clear block text against the white background, mounted on cardboard, effectively showed the decision of the audience. In addition the familiar background of the bricks, helped add to the authenticity of the final image. 

Being hit with so many set backs and failures really helped push this project to its limits. From the disputes with my partner and her inability to work with me, to the failure of getting the people in suits to take a photo, ultimately made me make solutions and adaptations to make the project a success. Using the people around CSM and their willingness to interact was an extremely useful resource and to know this is always something to fall back on, such as I did, makes me want to push the ideas further for the next project. 

Although not necessary an immediate connection to the quote, the final outcome hints at the message of choosing to be cool to fit in or to chose to dead to be original. With the person in the middle holding nothing, it furthers the message more and poses the question in the audience's mind of why he isn't holding anything. The interaction between the people is to me, considered an outcome too. Their reaction of realising what the quote meant, after reading it on the card given was thought provoking and made me want to trial the experiment again but this time round explaining what the quote understood to be before asking them to pick.  

Changing and improving the project, I would have liked to present the final outcome in a moving image and experiment with this. Also to change the location, due to time restraints it was the most convenient to be at CSM, however to get other members of the public from different areas would have been interesting to see the results.

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A selection of images from the peer feedback- important point to notice included how to change the location and also framing the photos differently. 




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