Iconic, indexical and symbolic art

I had a really interesting and quite unexpected experience in my philosophy study group this term. We spent our 2 hours out in the park, divided in small groups then we took different directions in search for inspiration to do a drawing through the media of a new technique for me: the indexical drawing. One group attached colored pens to the branches of a tree and let them blow in the wind shaping random forms on a piece of paper laid right underneath them. Another group squeezed a bottle and spread the water in the air in a cyclic fashion so it created different shapes on the tarmac, depending on where the wind blew. Walking through the trees I just instinctively stopped in front of one ending up drawing its spirit while the tree was lying on the ground next to its stump. The tree is an iconical representation with a symbolic meaning of the lost things and how more beautiful and meaningful we perceive them after they are gone.

We’ve learned three important terminologies that day: iconic, indexical and symbolic.

We can either look at an imagine or a drawing and stop at the mare aesthetics of it, the classic ‘it’s really beautiful’, ‘i’s crap’ or we can go beyond and discover that the artist had actually a lot to say.

Icon means image. By iconical art we mean the representation of reality by maintaining its true forms like for example a tree, a person, a pencil etc. We can easily identify it in a piece of art like a painting or a drawing:

Indexical art is an image, drawing or even installation that is achieved through a process of one thing having an effect on another without the ending result being controlled by human intervention. Here are some examples of ink and fire on glass, ink in water etc. All this are results of a random action-consequence process:

Symbolism is an arbitrary or conventional, but commonly accepted representation of a situation, emotion or action. For example there’s nothing in the play button that suggests ‘play’ but we’ve learned to associate this triangle as a play button:

Here is a nice video that explains the differences between the three forms.

Cyborg – definition and curiosity

Not an easy task to define Cyborg since there is still a chaotic understanding of what exactly being a cyborg means. There isn’t still an exhaustive and general definition of it.

A fun task and its conclusions. A group attempt on defining the meaning of cyborg:

As defined in the oxford dictionary a cyborg is a fictional or hypothetical person whose abilities are far beyond our human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body. Haraway states “a cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.” An example of this could be the use of mechanical elements to helps us survive, like a pacemaker, or it could also mean human beings using technology in everyday life both of these create the hybrid Haraway has spoken about. The definition of technology has no limitations and until a better understanding of it is made with more research means we will not have a true definition of cyborg. Once more research has happened and gives us a better understanding, a much clearer conclusion will be in place.

Neil Harbisson, the first men officially considered a cyborg by the government and allowed to feature his external element that qualifies him as a cyborg on his passport photograph. Since Neil was born color-blind which limits him to only see in black and white, his special antenna built in his skull, allows him to transform each colour in a different vibration:

A really interesting video that made me realize how the word cyborg can be and it is already part of some people’s lives through an improvement of the body or an addition of their senses rather then just an abstract concept from movies. And most of all, how can this bring us closer to nature rather then away from it:

Plato vs Nietzsche in art

Plato was an Ancient Greek philosopher died in 348 BC at the age of 80. His idealistic view of the world shows through his believe that for everything that surrounds us there is a perfect original essence or form of it and we must always tend to improove ourselves in order to get as closer to the truth as possible. He had 2 theories of art

  1. According to the first one, since art is saw by Plato to be the imitation of the physical world, then art is to be considered a copy of a copy because the world itself is a copy of a perfect and changeless original.
  2. Art has the ability to mix in emotion, is a powerful tool that can influence our behaviour and our character, therefore dangerous.

As he asserts, true knowledge consists of direct, unmediated of the Forms gained through the study of philosophy… .

Discobolos, Ancient Greek Statue, representing the perfection of the body in movement.

lancio disco


Nietzsche on the other hand, was a German philosopher from 1800 who contrasts Plato’s philosophy of an idealistic world and a unique truth with a more pragmatic and experimental one.  He believes that instead of having only one idealistic object or truth there are as many interpretations of them as people to represent them and they are all real. Just like a table it is defined in as many ways as the different prospective from which that table is seen (under different light or angle etc) and how can’t all be true? Art, just like life is in a continuous transformation.

There is no such thing as a perfect chair, just many representations of it as the persons designing/making one:


Me, I feel more idealistic, I believe in a constant research of improving ourselves in order to try to reach the perfection in our every action. I also believe that how better way to achieve it if not practically and throughout experimentation. Living Nietzsche with the goal of reaching Plato. I was told that the two exclude each other but how can it be that only theory and questioning can bring us closer to the truth rather then experimentation and manipulation of the world that we have in front of us and we live in. How can we reach the truth if not by starting to understand the game we play in, in order to acquire the ability to go beyond it?

Reflection on my learning process

Reflecting on how I’m learning, the example of the bucket and the fire fits just right. It reflects the process in my actual studies, and I have to admit that it never did before. I don’t know If it’s me or the uni, probably both, but if I I had to choose between them it would cut my learning process in half, it would’t be a circle anymore. I feel the fire burning inside especially when I see the possibility of all the workshops my uni provides and I feel like needing a  full immersion all at once and just create whatever. Practically I’m inevitably being a bucket during the lectures, ready to fill in with all the knowledge, all those important techniques I’m given, both new or already known. But I try to empty myself even for the subjects I’m more experienced in just not to miss out a different tint of it because the same subject taught by two different people will give even slightly but somehow different results. Then I can finally explode in exploring, researching or what I love the most, practically create something I didn’t know I could or that I ever would. A vivid example of this process was the discovery of sewing machine. Even though it’s a textile course and it could come naturally to imagine that one of the tools I would use would be a sewing machine, for me it wasn’t that obvious given the times of the digital rise. So here I am in front of the sewing machine, totally inexperienced, even though my mom’s a Taylor. I never wanted to learn, I never actually liked the idea of it. But there I was, and I don’t know how it happened, I just know that in some days I found another fulfilling way of expressing myself, and it was beautiful.


Ducati – Futuristic Artists Inspiration

After a long research I found that Giacomo Balla is one I felt most appropriate regarding shapes and shades from whom I’ taking inspiration for extending my range of work I already have looking more closely at Ducati as brand.

Balla likes to represents movement and speed of vehicles, the solar system, objects and feelings.

But my research continues to whatever shape or artist inspires me along my Ducati line for  the possible future position of new or existing products

International Women’s Day

Cardiff Met, and especially the Textile courses, celebrated the International women’s day by inviting a few speakers to talk about what that represents in terms of global awareness of the women’s condition both in Middle East and in the Western reality:

Alumnus Alex Wall for Xandra Jane who decided young to start her own business based on sustainable design where nothing is wasted;

Jo Perrin, volunteer for Vintage Vision, a non profit social enterprise run by women that develop projects around vintage fashion from donated clothes and resell them together with the history and the emotions they bring along from their previous owners. Their approach is based on promoting the recycling and re-use of clothing and textiles;

Jean Jenkins, senior lecturer in employment research in Cardiff Met. Her research is based on the women’s work conditions in the garment industry, mostly in Middle East. Pubblications here.


As Jenkins’s research shows, while tailoring was mostly a male occupation, with the beginning of the mass manufacturing it arrived to be today a mostly women’s occupation (80%).

While in UK women’s rights became equal as men’s from the ’70, that doesn’t apply to the Eastern countries like Bangladesh, India and Cambodia, to name a few, where work conditions are still very poor and where most of the international well-known brands are manufacturing their garment careless of that reality. A reality where the vulnerable labor sector (mostly young and female) are forced to work within closed factories without the possibility to leave, often without water, proper rest, toilets and for 11/12 hours a day. The lack of a proper Health and Safety Policy and the local police forces that stand up in defense of the factory owners instead of the workers led in time to numerous cases of building crashes and thousands of deaths.

Considering as well that ‘THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS SECOND ONLY TO OIL FOR HOW POLLUTING IT IS TO OUR ENVIRONMENT’ as sustained by Alex in her website, we can only assume that this is the top of the iceberg and begin to wonder what’s actually behind our branded clothes and the real industry behind our textiles.

We as individuals, and most of all as designers/creatives have to become more aware and create awareness, research about the materials we use and how these can influence the life of the garment and of our environment ones it’s disposed of. Question the provenience of our clothes as well as our food and everything we come in contact with during our day to day life. So where does my t-shirt comes from, who made it and how much was he/she payed if I only bought it for 2£ and in what conditions did he/she worked for me to wear it?

One of the speakers said, with my big surprise I have to admit, that the boycotting of a label is not the answer, that by doing so we take the work away of the poor workers. That we should only ask that label to provide information from where does my garment comes from. But if we continue to buy from them anyway how do we prevent those worker from being enslaved? Why should the label begin to care about it if the income continues to be the same and they didn’t care in the first place anyway?

I bring here the most exhaustive definition of boycotting I could find, not in the Oxford or Cambridge dictionaries which I found reductive, but in the Italian Wikipedia one: ‘The boycott is an individual or collective action which aims to isolate, obstruct and / or modify the activity of a person, or that of a group of people, a company or an entity or even a State, as it was considered not conform to the principle or the universal rights or social conventions’

I conclude saying how much I appreciate my tutor’s involvement in creating awareness among us while i discovered it’s not a common use in all universities. I definitely have a different mind set, even thought I always tried to waste as less as possible and doing my best to make the difference, or at least to do my part in terms of sustainability and work ethics of the factories I come in contact with during my career.

Field project: Ducati

The Ducati Monster, in all of his versions, is one of Women’s favorite Motorbikes as sustained by this interesting article by Genevieve Schmitt, one of the leading experts on the subject of women and motorcycling.

Ducati Monster Inspiration:

A Mirror article of the Ducati Monster 1200 voted in 2013 at the International Motorcycle Show as the ‘Most Beautiful Bike of Show’:

ducati monster

A new collaboration between Ducati and Diesel brought the concept and design of Motorcycles even further with the Ducati Diavel Diesel from where I choose the brown leather and its variation to create some of my final pieces. As stated by the Ducati Diesel team ‘The inspiration for their work is an imaginary post-apocalyptic and retro-futuristic world with a hyperkinetic vitality’:

All of which I brought in my stitching and laser cutting/engraving work:

ducati monster leatherArtboard 1@300x-100 (2)