Dec '04 - Aug '06
We're off to Budapest and Venice next week. Very exciting. There's lots to do before we go, trying to make sure we have some reasonably solid ideas on which we can structure the visit and decide what we might be designing this year and roughly where to site it.
I've decided to site my project in central Budapest. I won't go into the brief or reasoning behind i right now. I guess I'm not very good at articulating the early stages of a project and this afternoon I'm not really in the mood. That may change.
I always try to make the research process slightly multimedia, so began with a recent Hungarian movie called Kontroll. It's the first movie by a guy called Nimrod Antal and is set entirely in the Budapest Metro system. Before the movie starts, there's a disclaimer read out by the controller of Budapest public transport saying how he was advised not to let the movie be made on location, but that he reckoned that audiences would be intelligent enough to realise that the whole thing was an allegory and not a true representation of his company or employees. That was a really heartening thing to hear, but I think he underestimates just how moronic the viewing public can be. Anyway, Kontroll is a REALLY dark comedy. Beautifully shot, well acted and with an amazing soundtrack that I really want to get on CD but can't find anywhere. Ideally, I'd like to buy it before we fly to Budapest, as it'd be great to travel the Metro with suitable music on the headphones. For the moment, I'm planning to start with the Run Lola Run soundtrack (German, but with suitable beats) and some Estonian hip-hop by Toe Tag (because Estonian apparently sounds SLIGHTLY like Hungarian). If anyone can help me out with getting hold of the Kontroll soundtrack, I'd greatly appreciate it.
The multi-media method continued with a bit of fiction. I've just finished reading Under The Frog by Tibor Fischer. It's a damned good book. Fischer is an English author of Hungarian parentage and the book appears to be a fictionalised biography of his father between 1944 (German invasion of Hungary) and 1956 (the Budapest uprising). In a similar way to Kontroll, Under The Frog deals with some pretty serious subject matter in a very humourous, but also deeply moving manner.
Reading such a personal account of a really difficult period in a regularly-invaded country started me thinking of all kinds of issues to do with personal identity, opression, prejudice and persecution. As I sat on the tube after finishing the last page, I was filled with a desire to record the personal revelation I felt I was having on the subject. How that I've actually started typing, I'm not sure how to go about it. Hopefully my mind will clear a bit in the next couple of hours and I'll get the whole thing down on screen ("on paper" being an anachronism) sometime soon. If I don't, I expect it'll get swept up in the stresses of planning to go away, making models (my tutors want me making stuff as early as possible this year... very wise) and generally worrying that the decisions I make now will direct the course of the next year of my professional education.
On a side note, Tibor Fischer was actually interviewed for The Ladder Review magazine (of which I was graphic designer) a couple of years ago. When I get full net access again, I'll get PDFs of the magazine back online if anyone wants to download them.