FMP: Research & Visuals for Ideas

Research

Although my topic of Rhythmic Gymnastics is one that I know about as an ex rhythmic gymnast myself I thought that it was still important to research into it in order to expand my own knowledge and get more information which could aid the project. I known what the sport is about but many of my peers and tutors probably don’t, therefore finding definitions of the sport I thought would be useful.

Rhythmic Gymnastics is a discipline combining grace, coordination, agility and artistry. Accompanied by stirring music, the gymnast uses small hand apparatus to weave a routine of flawless beauty moulding gymnast, music and apparatus into one. The handling of apparatus whilst performing complex turns, pivots, balances and contortionist like movements are characteristic trademarks of this intriguing gymnastics discipline.British Gymnastics, 2021.

“Heavily influenced by ballet and modern dance, Rhythmic Gymnastics is the juncture of sport and art. Performing routines with music, either as individuals or in groups, rhythmic gymnasts amaze audiences with their astonishing skill as they execute enormously difficult maneuvers with hand-held apparatus: Hoop, Ball, Clubs, Ribbon and Rope. Flexibility and musical interpretation are important elements in a Rhythmic exercise. However, it is the amount of risk a gymnast takes, often throwing the apparatus several meters into the air and losing sight of it while performing stunning leaps, turns or acrobatic maneuvers before regrasping it – often in impossible-seeming catches – that sets the routines apart.” Federation Internationale de Gymnastique.

Both of the definition above I think talk about rhythmic gymnastics in the best way highlighting the key difference between the sister sport of artistic gymnastics. By referring back to these key phrases will help me to develop my project in creating a visual interpretation of the sport. The sport has a really interesting history as though its overshadowed by Artistic Gymnastics is actually started as an event within it but was later dropped and then become its own discipline in gymnastics.

Furthermore, I wanted to work within this topic area as it’s personal to me and is part of who am I after being in the sport for 10 years. I would say it is one of the most unique and graceful sports out there but is over shadowed by Artistic Gymnastics being the main one people think of. By creating a visual interpretation of the sport I hope that it will highlight to people the sports grace and beauty and also show that it is more than just a gymnast dancing around with ribbons it is a sport in its own right. (This is argued also by Jamie Margolin, 2016)

Ideas

As I want focus on the movement of the body and the shapes created I thought I would start to gather some visual references to talk about in my next tutorial. The unique ways the apparatus moves swell also got me thinking about how I could visually represent the sport. These visuals also highlight the elegance and beauty of the sport while still showcasing the power and strength that the sport requires.

The first idea I have is about Creating a typeface that celebrates the unique movements made by gymnasts within Rhythmic Gymnastics. There are many movements within the sport which could be used to make out letter forms. Typedesign is something that I have thought about in previous projects however, I have never thought about creating one which requires such depth and detail. I think it’s quite ambitious for my final major project but it’s something that could work well with the topic area.

I’ve taken some inpiration from the work of Jennifer Blakey a photography who created a human alphabet using the Canadian Gymnastics Team ahead of London 2012 Olympics. Her work shows the forms can create letterforms. For my project I would focus purely on rhythmic gymnastics and maybe including the applratus to inspire the type design. Furthermore, Blakely did this project to raise the project for the sport and I think through using rhythmic gymnastics as the main influence could help raise it’s profile too. I could also experiment with different weights in order to show where the movement has the gymnasts weight centred or focused and/or take influence from feminine typefaces out there to highlight the sport being one of 2 female only olympic sports.

The second idea I thought about it proposing a new language for the sport. Within Rhythmic Gymnastics there is already a language that’s used to show what elements and handling are able to be done. Using iconography as a way to do this means that the same language can be used internationally for all to understand. There are some symbols which bear no relation at all to the movement therefore I could prose new system (like information design) that could work more efficiently that the current one. Furthermore I think there could be something in using the visual language to show the complex nature of the sport and fight the preconceptions that it’s just a girl dancing around the floor with a ribbon in makeup, sparkles and glitter.

After some consideration I felt that I as more drawn the the idea of designing a typeface which would allow me to focus on celebrating the essence of the sport through a visual format and take inspiration from the shapes of the body created via the movements. I think that this is the idea that I am going to discuss at the tutorial with Carol.


References

https://www.gymnastics.sport/site/pages/disciplines/hist-rg.php

https://www.gymnastics.sport/site/pages/disciplines/pres-rg.php

https://www.british-gymnastics.org/gymnasts/disciplines/rhythmic/374-gymnastsparents/gymnasticsdisciplines/40-introduction4

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/not-just-ribbons-and-rhinestones-the-truth-about-rhythmic_b_584dfb1be4b0016e5043057f

https://www.niagarathisweek.com/community-story/3261229-the-abcs-of-the-human-body/

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