Engineers of the Imagination- FIELD (Part 2)

In field part two, we formed groups quickly into the project, before we even understood the brief. Which coincidently we didn’t until quite late in the project. For the first few group introduction meetings, it was very vague,the only thing we knew for certain was that we should be aiming to make our project transportable ‘able to be folded away, in a suitcase and transportable to anywhere, at any time’ and it wasn’t until we were told to look at some source material, one of which being the poem; “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. This, although long, was a brilliant inspiration and starting point for project of depth and meaning.

A link to the poem ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’

We knew almost from he outset that we wanted to make something pop-up rather than something that fits in a suitcase, because we thought it’d be an interesting twist on the brief, plus it’s be a interactive take on the brief.

With our group, we clicked and worked well right from the beginning, with existing friendships in the group, we all quickly clicked and we discovered we had a brilliant working relationship, bouncing ideas around, coming up with interesting solutions and concepts. However with everyone being confused about what we should be making, designing, or anything, at the end of the first week we went away with the task of us each reading the ancient mariner, and getting a grip of the themes, concepts, but also some aspects, or key features of the poem we could take away and manipulate.

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For the 2nd week, we mostly played around paper folding methods, took books out of the library (Paper Engineering for pop up books and cards by Mark Hiner, and Pop-up Design and Paper Mechanics: how to make folding paper sculpture by Duncan Birmingham) as well as looking at books with pop-ups built in, some of which more helpful than others (Some shown to us by Chris Glynn, however we didn’t make a note of the names) . We also used this week to think about how we could make the story our own, and make it more relatable and modern, with lots of the content being outdated.


Visual Research

At this point, we were still working on the idea, of making it a literal visual representation of the story, with land, a boat, and icebergs, and using the three things to show a visual timescale of the poem, although it must be said our group at this point knew we had the beginning of a brilliant idea, but didn’t have the concept behind it to take it further. We played around with the concept of it being placed in the sky to make it more futuristic, with the land mass being the top of a mountain, the waves being clouds, and the icebergs being represented by the tops of skyscrapers.


We were also going to add details, colour printing as well as levels, where we could show more character in the pop ups, to show more of the story, and maybe use this to make the boat look futuristic, like a flying ship.

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It was at this point that we all went away and drew what we thought the ship should look like, which we got a arrange of different styles from every member of the group.

My original designs were futuristic, based on the idea of a flying ship;


My final idea;



The Ancient Mariner 2 4


Here are the images my group mates came up;

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We then came together and Eliot and Kuba combined all the designs to create our joint design;


Towards the end of the 2nd week, or the beginning of the third week, we were asked to present our ideas, and it was the story being presented in the sky that we presented to the group. It was during this presentation that we began to be inspired, working with the ideas behind the story, such as regret, and human-impulse, consequences etc. It was made clear when we presented that maybe we were making the entire project to hard for our selves, too busy, considering we only had 5 weeks to realise it, and at this point we were at least 2 weeks in, so we would need to strip our design right back, make it simplistic and bare almost.

After this presentation, our group spent the next few hours discussing and brainstorming relevant concept to put behind our work to make it more relatable, what themes are in the story that are still key in todays society. We decided that although almost all the themes touched on in the poem still hold a place today, that we should try and make it as relevant as possible but still as close tot he story as poem. We discovered that we could use our existing design, and manipulate it slightly to make a brilliant representation of the global state of the world. We can make a key point about climate change, flooding, and the damage were doing to our world.

We did this by making the boat, almost ‘arc’ size, and by making the land mass, a mountain, as we planned for the sky design, but bringing it closer to the group, and making it more like a drowned, damaged unusable city, polluted by cars and humans and buildings, and the peoples desperate fleet to find solace on the mountain, untouched and unpolluted.


At this point, we knew our idea, we had a concept to work with, so we got started on making our idea come to life. We were in Monday- Thursday every week there on out, even staying after key-note lectures on Fridays for an hour or two, to ensure we knew what we all had to get done over the weekend. It was necessary for us to do this, as we were attempting a very big project and we had less than three weeks at this point to realise it.

We designated people an area to work on, and it was their responsibility to find a fold or pop up method, that worked fluently and functioned the way it needed to. We each knew our jobs and just had to get on with it and make them. Ashleigh was given the responsibility of figuring out a pop-up method for the boat, as it is in the centre of the fold and needed to be a seamless construction, as well as this, she made the waves which were to sit onto of the board, when the entire thing was popped up. The boat took her quite a while to achieve, and it wasn’t until the last week of project that she completed the boats foldaway method, sales and nets.

Kuba volunteered to make the ‘chu-chus’ as we named them, although in reality it was a pull-tab pop-up, which were to make the trees on the mountain side, it didn’t take long to find a mechanism, but it did take him a while to make it, as each tree had it’s own pulling system. The hard part was making everything accurate and smooth, so that people could interact with it, without damaging it.

This brings us to Eliot, who volunteered for the responsibility of finding and making all the mountain. I would say Eliot’s mountains, although brilliant in the end, probably took him the longest to figure out, as he was desperate for them to look realistic, and full of ridges and dents, when in reality thats really hard to do in paper cuts as mostly they rely on clean folds, but he managed it just in time, and his I think was maybe even the most ingenious of the folds on our entire piece.


(animation courtesy of Eliot Southwell)

I chose to make the city and streets of cars, although a somewhat large task, once I found a functioning pop-up, all I had to do was replicate it in different sizes, and stick them down and construct the streets out of even simpler versions of the same pop-up, and stick them down to create the idea of cars abandoned mid-drive. So we were in every day we could working on it, mine was a simple fold to create the desired box shape, it was however making it stay up-right that proved an issue, as after a certain height the fold lost its structural identity, although I quickly found a solution by adding a flap to each side, to that they folding into the middle of the box to make a support structure. The streets only took me two days to make and I made those when I had finished the buildings, using the same fold I used for the buildings, but without the flaps to create the cars.

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By the Wednesday before the show we had put the last piece on and the realisation was even better than we had hopped, and we were readY and waiting to exhibit on Thursday, where we would open in the ‘World of Boats’ down Cardiff Bay, with a crowd watching, and where we record the process.

The world of boats was the perfect location for this exhibition, at the perfect time of year. The atmosphere on the night was brilliant, everyone brought friends and family, and everyone was excited to exhibit their work and for the reactions.

A brief time-lapse taken on the night of the exhibition

However in reality the opening of our piece wasn’t what we had hoped illustrated by this brilliant video recorded by Eliot Southwell  showing the pre-run opening of the pop-up to make sure it would run smoothly, however this wasn’t quite what we got. (Don’t judge me, it was a surprisingly stressful day)

We then embraced the start of the exhibition and waited till our time to do our set up; This video  recorded by Eliot Southwell shows the opening our piece, however in the panic we forgot a number of different things; we forgot to ask for the flashing ‘disco’ lights to be turned up for our recording, we forgot to put on the waves or lights, and we forgot to ask for silence, so that our video would be good quality.

Despite this, I believe our piece went down really well, and was received well by the audience, there were a number of gathering around our work and people getting close and inspecting the pop-ups, as well as looking at the city from different angles.


We didn’t get many questions about our interpretation or our meaning, so I think maybe that was kinda lost, which was disappointing, but everyone there knew the themes of regret and sorrow behind ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and so maybe they may have just sussed the theme out.

We will at some point be recording the opening process in a professional photography setting, with proper lighting, and blacked out background, in silence, which we will then crop down and make into a nice film that I hope to post here at some point.

In summary, I hugely loved my group I worked with for Field this term, group work flies by when you’re working with people you click with, and can communicate openly with. We got our work done without complaint or worry, knowing that we had our group as support, and that we were all putting our full effort in. This in tern made me enjoy the project much more than I thought I was going to at the beginning of the five weeks, and at the end of it all, I was unsurprisingly very proud of the project we made.


Here is a link to Eliot Southwell’s images from the project;

Eliot Southwell’s Field Images

Here are links to the rest of my groups blogs;

Eliot Southwell’s Field Blog Entries

Jake Stromczynski’s Field Blog Entries

Ashley Parsons’ Field Blog Entries


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