In this project, we move on to semiotics as we attempt to creatively change the meaning of a given object.
And the object I was assigned to by luck, was the Banana.
Here’s my final work:
For Task 1, we were to capture the object as it is. For the first picture, I chose to capture the shape and structure of the banana. I shot it from a lower angle to show how the banana branches out in a bunch. For the second photo, I added a bit of human touch and familiarity by capturing me eating the banana. It is a close-up shot as bananas are usually found close to the person. The picture also shows the banana by itself instead of being in a bunch, as well as the parts of it- the flesh and the peel. The third picture plays with focus as I try to showcase the texture, colour as well as the stem of the banana, thus being a close up shot.
The whole series shows the banana as a bright and vibrant fruit, associated with a positive mood.
Task 2 is where I attempted to capture the cultural aspects of the Banana and subvert them. In the first picture, it shows one of the banana peel’s culture as a slip act. Banana peels on the floor often mean someone is going to fall and are often associated with comedy and embarrassment.
In the second picture, I subverted its context by turning the banana peel into a skating tool instead. The message here was that since the banana peel is so slippery, why not use it as skating shoes? Here, the object is subverted as the banana peel is now no longer just a useless skin of a fruit that would cause falls, but an actual sports item.
As for the third picture, (disclaimer: No photoshop went on in this picture except for the b/w filter, you can see it under the process below)
The subversion here lies in changing the vibe and colour that come with the banana. As mentioned earlier, bananas are usually associated as bright and comical. Now, what if they turn dark and serious? In this picture, the bananas are seated in a sports car on a road and the picture has a dark, gloomy, film noir mood, giving the bananas a ‘gangster/mafia’ look. Also, another subversion is playing out as further explained in Task 3.
This poster is actually a subversion of two different concepts combined. First was the film noir concept that I mentioned earlier, the second subvert was on the quote itself. The phrase ‘Going Bananas’ is usually meant for someone going crazy. Now, what if I took it literally to mean that the bananas were actually going somewhere? And that was how this poster was created. By using this subversion, I gave human life to the bananas as they are now the drivers instead of fruits. I made this picture into a portrait so as to resemble a movie poster, and the quote was included to look as if it was on the road.
Here are some other test shots from Task 1 and 2 as I attempt to capture the bananas in its environment and culture from different angles.
Now, we move on to the subversion process which I feel is one of the most important aspect of this project.
Before I can think of how to subvert the meaning of a Banana, I first have to find the original meaning of it, also known as Denotation.
Here’s a mini mind map I did regarding bananas.
Also, here’s a brainstorming exercise I did in class where we combined action words with our object. With this exercise, I found that my object becomes personified, something I would like to try out in my final shots.
I also used templates that can help to come up with ideas, namely the Removal Template, Replacement Template and the Redefinition Template.
Key ideas from Replacement: Giving the Banana a dark twist.
Key ideas from Redefinition:
Taking Banana as a ‘slip-act’ to the next level.
The phrase ‘Going Bananas’ can have a different meaning.
From all the brainstorming I did, I came up with a few concepts to try out.
I then did some test shots with the concepts I came up with so as to compare them.
These are from Concept 2, which is to take slip-acts to the next level. In ‘Banana broom’, Banana peels are no longer the slippery waste that lie on the floors but the cleaning tool that cleans up the floor.
‘Skating Bananas’ was explained earlier and eventually chosen.
As for concept 3, I pondered over how to carry out this idea of Bananas going somewhere. I first thought whether I should show them leaving through a door, making it seem as if they were walking, have them carry luggages or should I place them in public places taking the transport as if leaving somewhere. However, I found that hard to execute as the bananas don’t have ‘hands’ or ‘legs’ to show off the idea of ‘going’. Just as I was thinking of whether I could add hands to the bananas, I suddenly thought, why not put them in a car so that it seems like they were driving off? That way, I don’t have to show hands and legs. And as I was expanding on that idea, I thought I could combine concept 1 and concept 3 together, so that its a ‘dark bananas going somewhere’ theme.
And there you have Mafia Bananas. For this theme, I stuffed the bananas into a toy car and shot it the rooftop of a car park so that it resembles a road.
I also experimented with different colour schemes to create that ‘film noir’ look. I tried desaturating the picture, b/w, and finally decided to go with a black and white filter but keeping the bananas still slightly yellow for a more interesting composition.
The final shot that was chosen was a picture I personally like a lot as it came really close to what I had envisioned. For this concept, I experimented with different angles and scale, and even tried slanting to create a more dynamic effect, but what I had in mind was a portrait back view of the bananas in a car with nothing but the road and the sky, as if they were going on a dangerous road trip.
I finally achieved it by trying out different locations at the car park. The only way to capture the road and the sky without taking the barriers surrounding the car park was to put the car on a slope and take the picture from behind it.
Here, I experimented with different locations but was blocked by flats and rails until I found the perfect slope and angle.
Personally, I found this combination of concept 1 and 3 to be the strongest out of all as I felt that the usual context of the banana was totally changed in this subversion. The play on the phrase ‘Going bananas’ also gave an extra kick in the composition and was therefore chosen as the final poster.