Friday, April 19, 2013

Gregor's Room, Student Work

Tanis Montgomery

 "In making this piece, I wanted to visually compromise between how I saw the beginning of the story and how I saw the middle to end of the story.  In the beginning, I pictured cream coloured walls, medium wood, and richer accent colours.  Towards the middle of the story, however, I was beginning to picture dark, dusty corners, darker, dirtier walls, dark furniture, but really muted accent colours.  Wrapping these opposing visions up in one piece was challenging, but the use of watercolours lent itself really well to accomplishing this because they naturally produce lighter, but more muted colours.  As for the style of my piece, I wanted to produce furniture that was functional and believable, but still carried over an emotional sense of the story.  In order to do this, I chose to make all the furniture very long and narrow.  The reason for this was to produce a sense of discomfort and distance between the furniture, which is meant to accomodate a tall, narrow human, and Gregor the bug, who I saw as being very low to the ground, very wide, and rather round.  Although Gregor did not interact with the bed after getting himself out of it, I imagined the effect he would have on the mattress, which would have been to dirty it and to depress it, so I experimented with mark-making on the mattress pieces and made the mattress itself lumpy and misshapen.  I continued the sense of discomfort and distortion subtly by making the furniture legs different lengths.  This makes it seem precarious and unsettled, which it could have seemed visually to Gregor because he was so low to the ground, but also metaphorically because he was uncertain about his future need for this furniture, not knowing whether he'd ever become human again.  I wanted to elevate all of the furniture for a few reasons.  This is how I pictured it based on the time period in the story, but I also wanted to make it seem like Gregor would have room to hide underneath the furniture.  With the unevenness of the legs, however, he probably does not fit, adding to that discomfort because a narrowly denied pleasure tends to be more frustrating than one that has been firmly and outright denied. "

The bed is very long and narrow, and Gregor is unable to fit completely on the width of the mattress.  The headboard is not meant to be representative of jail bars; they are simply tall and skinny like everything else.  I wanted the headboard to seem insubstantial because rather than trapping him, beyond the first part of the story, I saw the bed as actively refusing to be a refuge for Gregor.  It is not mentioned in the story at all once he finally pushes himself out of it, not even as an object in the room.  The mattress needed to be a cradle for Gregor in regards to the first part of the story in which he has difficulty getting out of the bed because of his round shell, but there also needed to be something about it which would seem discouraging to reentry, so I chose to make it just a little bit lumpy and uncomfortable looking.  

" I wanted to make the dresser as functional as possible, mostly because I am a detail oriented person, and what kind of a dresser doesn't have drawers?  The dresser is tall and skinny, again, because I wanted to create contrast between Gregor and the furniture.  The legs are uneven to communicate precariousness. The height, if viewed from below, would also seem ominous or threatening, much as the human world began to act toward Gregor.  I didn't alter the form of the dresser much above its legs because in the story, it was just an object in the room.  Gregor had no interaction with it, not even at the beginning of the story.  Although I made drawers that are able to slide out and open, I chose not to put anything in them because as a bug, Gregor now has no use for this piece of furniture, and as a human, he probably did not use it anyway because he was always ready to travel.  I considered filling the bottom drawer with the rotted food that Gregor refused to eat, but I chose not to because he made his discomfort with his new life more clear by refusing to touch the food and leaving out in the open than he would have by hiding it."

"When we began to talk about bedding in class, and many people mentioned that things in Gregor's room reminded them of things in their grandmothers' houses, I thought of a blanket that my grandmother had in her house.  It is a Scottish wool plaid blanket, very warm, but as is typical of Scottish wool blankets, also very itchy.  I knew that I wanted to use wool to add to my message of discomfort.  I created this blanket by twisting very thin strips of paper and then weaving them together. I purposefully kept the weaving from being very tight so that the blanket would be threadbare and unable to provide Gregor with any comfort.  It would also not be very helpful in his attempts to hide himself from his family, which emphasises the idea that his attempts to hide were rather futile in the first place because of his size and shape.  Some of the unraveling at the edges also calls to memory the franticness of Gregor's attempt to get out of bed, trapped on his back with his thin little legs thrashing around in the air.  There were several times in the story when Gregor's body seemed to be his own enemy.  The idea that, maybe in that first instant of realising he was a bug, he contributed to the destruction of something that could give him comfort is evident in this last feature of the blanket. "

 "I imagined Gregor to be very round, with long spindly legs that scarcely supported him.  In my rendering of him, the legs don't even appear to support him and appear rather useless.  He is very near to the ground and is not at all agile.  I imagined him to be very large in the story; about the size of a trash can lid or a manhole.  This is evident in the scale of this piece in comparison with the bed I created. "

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