After getting a general understanding into Edward Hopper as a person I began to look into his paintings for ideas and inspiration. This became rather an enjoyable experience and each painting came up with the theme of ‘loneliness’. I decided to use the location and content of each painting to create a spider diagram, and then develop the ideas from there, where I narrowed 5 ideas down to one. The painting titled Nighthawk seen below, created1942 is said to be regarded as one of his most definitive pieces of work.
Upon looking at the picture for the first time I was taken back his ability to separate the cafe from the street behind using light. This for me created a microcosm of society highlighting everyone as an individual with there own problems. Upon studying this piece further each individual seem to be lost and a million miles away from each other, rather than on the next bar stool, but at the same time make them dependant of each other. When put into groups we each put forward our idea and stimulus, then choose the idea as group we wanted to go ahead with and develop.
The group decided to use the idea and stimulus I gave. The initial idea I put forward was the picture and spider diagram, and the idea I had of a barmen who suffered from loneliness. As a group we developed the stimulus by creating short pieces to show the change in cultural fashions and beliefs from mid-end 20th centaury, compared with modern 21st ideas. The theme used from Nighthawk was the cigar on the sign. The reasoning behind this was how it used to be fashionable to smoke, but now it’s regarded as unhealthy and banned in most public places.
This helped us come up with, and develop an idea of looking into the childhood of our character, and explore ways of showing how influential a child’s background is on its character in later life. We then looked at incorporating ‘loneliness’ a key factor regarding the stimulus of Nighthawk and Hopper, and my idea of relying on you self to talk to. We wanted to explore the character talking to himself, and so we began to improvise scenes incorporating our idea. Our group seemed to develop organically, where two people took on the role of directors and the other three acting these ideas out.
This structure was fundamental in helping us develop ideas and get more than one persons view on them. A great idea came from a colleague to use a doppelganger; this would help show how ‘loneliness’ and ‘isolation’ could affect and shape a child. Looking back on our stimulus we then developed the idea of being in a community, and how it is made up individuals. We improvised scenes in a classroom, playground and sport field, then adding still image to them to highlight key parts. After evaluating the different locations, we choose to use the playground as it was the area where kids were free to do most things.
It also mirrored the bar in Nighthawk as it showed how some people grouped together, and some left on there own. We then began looking at how we could develop ideas into our playground scene, the first thing we did was to isolate one child and incorporate the idea of a doppelganger. We tried included our still images, but felt it did not show clearly enough a doppelganger. So we created a scene of a child getting stabbed in the back by his team mate in a game of cowboys and Indians, and instead of freezing and showing a still image, to slow down the other children and bring out the doppelganger to take his place.
This made it clearer for the audience to see an alter ego of himself being expressed, and a problem associated with ‘isolation’ and ‘loneliness’. Upon taking ‘Nighthawk’ in, I explained how I liked the separation of the bar to the outside world using light. From this we developed ideas for a set, we wanted to incorporate a bar scene at night. And instead of separating the bar from the outside, we wanted to separate our adult ‘child’ from everyone else. We looked at the idea of having him in a dark spot, and having the rest of the bar highlighted. But I felt that this was too simple and did not highlight the loneliness and isolate that well.
I then remembered a painting where hopper used lighting to ‘highlight’ the loneliness of an individual. This in my mind work a lot better as it really brings out the emotions of the individual. So for our set we wanted to use our original stimulus of a ‘bar’ and try to highlight an individual. We then tried to look at the given circumstances like color, props and costume. We looked at having black costumes as it highlights the face more and magnifies there emotions. Also red was a color used a lot by Hopper for costume as well as props. In the next rehearsal we decided to look for ways of showing the child in later life.
We went back to the stimulus and decided showing the child as ‘the odd one out’. We used the idea that we are all different and individuals in a community, so we created a work scene where each person was dependant on another for them to complete there specific job. We came up with a sequence of five movements in an office, and focused on the grown up child who suffered from loneliness in the playground, each rotation of the five moments he would become more and more out of sequel. Using his doppelganger we were able to express the thoughts of the character, and show how he had developed a friendship with ‘himself’.