Is it a Plane? Is it a Bird? No! It’s a CLICHÉ (Part 1)

A recent comment (thanks Greg!) made me think about images that examiners see repeatedly, the stereotypes, the clichés.

Greg’s particular bête noir is the half human, half robot face. It’s a cliché now, of course, but at some point – a long time ago – it wasn’t. When I first saw Westworld in the mid-70s (Michael Crichton director and writer, 1973) the Yul Brynner cowboy robot seemed at the time (to me) a great image. In fact I did some ‘human face/robotic structure drawings’ then that would probably now alarm Greg’s class in much the way that the new student’s Photoshopped piece did. I thought they were great!
But that was 40 years ago, when the ‘half human half robot’ face was not (yet) a clichéd image.

When does an image stop being meaningful and become a cliché?

In terms of the robot/human face, probably the most well-known version dates from the 1980s and the first of the Terminator  film series, with the poster for these doing quite a lot to firmly establish the image and concept of the ‘human/robot half-face’ in public consciousness.

Should visual arts students avoid clichés?

What about using a cliché ironically?

Its complex.

Cliché definitions:

A cliché or cliche (pronounced UK: /ˈkliːʃeɪ/, US: /klɪˈʃeɪ/) is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clich%C3%A9

A trite expression, often a figure of speech whose effectiveness has been worn out through overuse and excessive familiarity.

http://grammar.about.com/od/c/g/clicheterm.htm

1 Comment
  • greg
    April 30, 2012

    I never show the students my own old A level work – sub-Dali horrors!

    I think that avoiding the half robot face etc, is also about getting students to push a little further than the first idea for a studio outcome that pops into their heads. However, I’d love to see a student investigate ‘clichés in high school art’ as a sustained theme. Imagine – a really powerful reworking of the of the perennial ‘silhouetted dolphins leaping against a sunset’ – it ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it!

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