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12th June 2018
Art and design

The hidden meaning behind the 1980 Stanley Kubrick classic horror movie The Shining was the inspiration behind Jake Armstrong's final year BA (Hons) Graphic Design project. We caught up with Jake, 21 from Rye in East Sussex who told us more about his project titled 'Overlooking the Maze', his advice for others and what he has planned next.

Tell us a bit about your final project

The book I designed analyses the film, the various continuity errors and impossible rooms created by the labyrinthine set design of The Overlook Hotel. Like the film, the books shouldn’t be taken at face value. Hidden messages and images are in the French folded pages of the book which can be revealed by shining a torch. As the book progresses the theories of Kubrick’s thematic intentions become more and more insane, much like Jack Torrance in the film.

The film screening was designed to emphasise the thematic mirroring present within the film and play upon Kubrick’s iconic symmetrical shot compositions. Two screens were set up opposite each other playing the film, the left screen with the left half mirrored and the right screen with the right half mirrored. The result is an odd mix of bizarrely comic body horror as faces are meshed into themselves, and kaleidoscopic beauty as the camera tracks through the hallways of the hotel.

Jake's display at the BA (Hons) Graphic Design end of year showcase

What was the inspiration behind your project?

I’d recently watched the documentary Room 237 which details various different interpretations of The Shining which made me go back and watch it again. After that I researched into it further, and the more I did, the weirder the film got. I already had an idea that I wanted to create a book which was unique to the medium of print, something which couldn’t be replicated in a pdf. It was while I was at home over Christmas during a power cut that I was forced to read a book by torchlight, something I hadn’t done since I was a child. While reading I noticed that I could see through to the next page and two of the images overlaid to merge into one and it just clicked that this was the solution to my problem. When reading during the day the messages would be hidden but by night, under the covers by torchlight the book would take on a new life and reveal more to the reader.

Jake's design - illustrating how torchlight reveals more to the reader

What have you enjoyed most about your time at Solent?

Through the graphic design course, I've had the opportunity to work on live briefs from corporate clients as well as various competitions. Being chosen to enter for those briefs and getting real world feedback was so valuable for my understanding of what was expected outside of university.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently just taking a little bit of a rest, the final push during the last months of university took a lot out of me. I’ve been offered a few internships for design positions in London already so I can’t take too much time out.

Please share any advice you have for other students?

Use your time at university to progress and make mistakes, try out new ideas which you’d never get away with in a normal job. Mistakes are easily forgotten at university and teach you how to do things differently.