Idea Generation: Contextual Studies – Phase 1

Week 2 Day 1

Week 2 Day 1 leads me to a path of refinement, selecting fewer concepts and sourcing more reputible sources for the purpose of discussion and learning. I have narrowed down my concepts to less than 5, going into greater detail about what exactly interests me and why these concepts are valid and usable sources of inspiration.

I have been exploring aesthetic arts, language, nihilism and music.

Aesthetic Arts & Visual Culture

Classical / Renaissance / Modern

My interests in classic arts (and other) have been present since my childhood, I am fascinated by the scenes depicted due to their intense emotional output, composition, animation and themes. The artists from this extensive period are masters at capturing narrative in a visual form, this is something I adore about these works.

The mythological/biblical renderings in these images are culturally relevant to me, I was brought up with and surrounded by these stories and they have captured my imagination ever since. These types of narratives emulate ego on a massive scale, depicting our need and desire to mastery and our potential for failure, misjudgement and mischaracterisation of the world around us. Philosophical themes arise out of these stories, such as: ego, identity, epistemology, metaphysics, significance, meaning, simulation (creation vs evolution argument) and so on. Questions such as what are we and why are questions that I spend a lot of time thinking on, the depictions in the paintings may not hold relevant significance in helping answer those but it posses questions about the origins of humanity that cannot be ignored due to it’s massive cultural significance.

Identity is something I want to explore in a narrative following similar themes, by aluding to answer such questions as “who are we and where do we sit in this world of science and magic?”, “what do we need to feel fulfilled?”, “why do we do anything?”. I will reference philosophers, such as: Kant and Nietzsche.


The paintings of this period aim to depict a mythological exageration of history and it’s events. Exageration of characteristics, personification of objects and animals and dramatic visualisations of events aim to translate meaning and significance in an overtly emotional way.

Mythology & Religioun and other Narrative Themes

(Nicolas Poussin, late 17th century-early 18th century)


Values & Philosophy

Aesthetic Values (Value, Composition, Colour)

The type of composition an artist designs — whether it’s delicate or angular, for example — should reinforce the emotional message of the artwork. Imagine substituting the compositional lines of one painting for the other, applying Vermeer’s curved lines to Massacre of the Innocents, and vice versa. What we’d find is that each artists emotional intent would be significantly weakened, with Massacre of the Innocents becoming more elegant, despite its brutal theme. ​

Solarski (N/A)

Modernisation (Memeification)

Classical art is not excluded in it’s exploitation by modern internet users (an excellent thing) as many paintings have been ‘memeified’ and given new meaning – relating closer to our modern sensibilities; almost giving these old narratives new life.

Bildergebnis für classical art
(Lothlenan, 2017)
Bildergebnis für classical art
(, N/A)

Pixel Art (Retro, Nostalgia)


Music as a Narrative tool

Select and sparse dialogue intertwined with musical queues to help the player decide what to do based on their automatic emotional response.

Can narrative be achieved and understood through music with heavy emotional qualities?

This is your brain on music 270
(Levitin, 2011)

Music has the power to drive you, change your emotional state, motivate or demotivate you but alone could it decide the path you take?


Language in Education, how does one learn and aquire new language?

Learning Strategies in Second Language Acquisition 6
(O’Malley and Uhl Chamot, 1990)
Intelligent Language Tutors Theory Shaping Technology 318 319
(Holland, Kaplan and Sams, 2013)


Strategies in Learning and Using a Second Language 236
(Cohen, n.d.)

Modern Tools

Duo Screenshot
(, N/A)

Rebranding traditional repitive techniques with a reward system – gamification as a supportive mechanic for language learning.


Gamifying the process of learning provides incentives and distractions from the traditional methodology of education. Rewards are motivating and are given out when vocabulary is learnt and executed correctly. In the example of Duolingo, one can collect achievement badges, similar to those used in other popular systems – such as Steam.

Experience is earnt overtime providing a visual timeline of progress that one would otherwise not have in the process of language learning.


Nihilism A Philosophy Based in Nothingness and Eternity Page 16 - exurpt
(Stevens, 2016)


Laughing at Nothing Humor as a Response to Nihilism 2.png
(Marmysz, 2003)


On the Heights of Despair 10
(Cioran, 1995)


“Sisyphus was a cruel Greek king who was punished to push a large rock up on a steep hill, only to find it rolling back on nearing the top. ”

(Kumar, 2017)

Absurdium as a Visual Narrative for Nihilism < need to read

Absurdism (Preface to the nihilist school of thought)

There is a knowledge which would presumptuously introduce into the world of
spirit the same law of indifference under which the external world sighs. It counts it
enough to think the great–other work is not necessary. But therefore it doesn’t get the bread, it perishes of hunger, while everything is transformed into gold. And what does it really know?

Kierkegaard, S (1843)

In Philosophy there exists a conflict between the human need to derive inherent value and meaning and the inability to find meaning – due to it’s improbability and improvability. Aburdism is related very closely to nihilism, however, absurdism goes further to explain relations between two opposing states, that of, pessimisim and optimisim in diverging meaning in ones life.

The contrast between meaning and inherent lack of meaning could be interpreted visually to describe this concept through the means of Abstract Art / Surrealism.

These artistic genres have clear disparities (similarly to absurdism & nihilism) between obviously interpretable symbols and those which cannot be understood.

Below are some examples:

(Emsley, 1981)
(Emsley, 1981)
(Emsley, 1981)

Meaning is difficult to derive from these pieces of surrealism, there is an inherent darkness to some of the visual symbols, however, overall the pieces display chaotic themes lacking direct and obvious meaning – just like in life.

Positive Nihilism

A tool for deriving ultimate non-wisdom, a liberating response to the dankness of human existence.

you only get one shot at life, which is scary, but it is also sets you free. If the universe ends in heat death, every humiliation you suffer in your life will be forgotten. Every mistake you made will not matter in the end. Every bad thing you did will be voided. If our life is all we get to experience, then it’s the only thing that matters. If the universe has no principles, the only principles relevant are the ones we decide on. If the universe has no purpose, then we get to dictate what it’s purpose is. 

(Kurzgesagt, 2017)

Bildergebnis für visual nihilism
(Kurzgesagt, 2017)
Bildergebnis für visual nihilism
(Knowyourmeme, 2018)


Cioran, E. (1995). On the heights of despair. London: Quartet Books, p.10.

Cohen, A. (n.d.). Strategies in Learning and Using a Second Language. 1st ed. p.236. (n.d). Me stressing over things I can easily resolve. [image] Available at: [Accessed 13 Oct. 2018]. (N/A). Screenshot of Language Dashboard [Website] [Accessed 17 Oct. 2018].

Emsley, M (1981). Multiple Illustrations [Drawings] photographs taken firsthand from the source [Accessed 14 Oct 2018].

Holland, V., Kaplan, J. and Sams, M. (2013). Intelligent Language Tutors: Theory Shaping Technology. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, pp.318, 319.

Kierkegaard (1843). Fear and Trembling. [PFD] An HTML Presentation by Siegfried [Accessed 13 Oct. 2018].

Knowyourmeme (2018). Nihilism. [image] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2018].

Kumar, C (2017). What we can learn from Sisyphus and his rock. [Article] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2018].

Kurzgesagt (2017). Optimistic Nihilism. Available at: [Accessed 13 Oct. 2018].

Levitin, D. (2011). This is Your Brain on Music. New York: Atlantic Books Ltd., p.270.

Lothlenan (2017). Just another stroll through the park with your grandpa. [image] Available at: [Accessed 13 Oct. 2018].

Marmysz, J. (2003). Laughing at nothing. Albany (N.Y.): State University of New York Press, p.2.

O’Malley, J. and Uhl Chamot, A. (1990). Learning strategies in second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.6.

Poussin, Nicolas. (late 17th century-early 18th century). Venus Presenting Arms to Aeneas. [Painting] Available at: [Accessed 13 Oct. 2018].

Solarski, C. (N/A). The Aesthetics of Game Art and Game Design. Gamasutra. [Online] Available at:

Stevens, B. (2016). Nihilism: A Philosophy Based in Nothingness and Eternity. Manticore Press, p.16.

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