Place - Wednesday 31st October
As a 2D curator for this exhibition, I learnt a lot about the way pieces of art fit together on a wall and the difficulties in making such a variety of pieces flow. This was particularly difficult as the space we were working with was actually a huge corridor, there were two sides to the room and no space in between. Due to the lack of wall space in relation to what many peers required, fitting people’s work in became a priority over what pieces worked well together which was slightly disappointing. However, I was pleased with peoples comments about the way this eclectic exhibition worked, using the best of what we had.
Critique consisted of groups of 4 people today which meant there was a smaller variety of ideas and comments surrounding my work. Although initially slightly disappointing in that sense, there was some engaging comments made about my work. Interestingly, despite my experience of hypersensitivity being extremely rare, a member of my crit group had coincidently been through a similar experience. Through discussion particularly with this individual, she said that to her, the ideas and feelings I have illustrated through this project show strong connections to our experiences of trauma, pain and hypersensitivity. There was therefore a clear divide within the crit group between two people who could emotionally and physically relate to the work and those who I briefly explained my experience to.
Other comments included those often directly aimed at the painting. We discussed the fact that the smoke illustrates something very dark and violent but somehow gives off an atmosphere of serenity at the same time. This is something I hadn’t considered before. Towards the end of the painting I decided to not paint in the burning embers at the bottom of the image which took away the direct suggestion of burning, giving the piece more ambiguity. I feel that this decision definitely has an influence on the serene aspects of this painting. Surprisingly, I am happy with this comment as it connects well with the fact that this experience was so mysterious and the condition is still yet to be fully understood by doctors, which could be interpreted through the confusing and eery atmosphere of the painting.
My favourite comment of this critique was from this individual with a shared experience. She talked about how there was contrasts between the clear paving stones being very simple, sleek and minimalistic and a murky, dark and slightly messier image. The simplicity of the paving slabs reminded her of the lifeless, sterile feeling of a hospital - the atmosphere in these places are very controlled, things are contained and neat. She liked that this contrasted the painting that reminded her of a mental or physical bruise. I discussed this with her and we talked about how despite the fact I intended the painting to be something nightmarish and unreal, it is also illustrating the reality of messy, traumatic activities usually hidden away and contained within a hospital. The piece is physically entirely realistic in what it represents but in terms of what it means to myself and others with similar experiences, it is not a literal translation of this place at all.
One thing I noticed about the piece as a whole was that the critique group were immediately drawn to the painting rather than the floor piece and this painting, unintentionally by them, became the focus of discussion. I am unsure whether this may be because of the placement of the two works in relation to each other or simply due to the fact that these specific individuals connect more to 2D work. I think my choice to not include imagery of paving slabs within the painting removed the continuity of this idea and therefore slightly disconnected the two separate parts. If I had more time within the exhibition space I would have liked to then experiment with how the placement of the two parts to this piece would have influenced the way the work was read. However, after consideration, this disconnection could be something that works well in terms of the concept and story behind the work. The reality of the place and my experience are two hugely different things that lack strong connections.
Place - Tuesday 30th October
As it came towards the end of the day, I questioned whether or not I needed to paint the suggestion of these clear paving slabs into the painting. I felt as though the painting perfectly illustrated this personal, nightmarish place that the hospital entrance reminded me of. I decided that if I were to add in the imagery of these paving slabs into the piece it would bring this place forward, creating a more relatable space for the viewers to interpret. This is not what I want to achieve as this place is not something anyone else can physically or mentally relate to other than myself. The sculptural aspect of this piece (the acrylic paving slabs on the floor) presents the reality of this place in the form of a memory which interacts with the painting in the sense that there is a contrast between the physical and mental memory. I have therefore decided that the paving slabs should be placed directly in front of the painting to allow comparison of this 'place' by the viewers.
Interestingly, I began this project with a sculptural mindset, my experimentation and ideas for the final piece were based hugely on 3D ideas. However, as the project developed and I created this painting I felt that this medium worked far better. Painting is a very time based medium, which works well with the idea of this memory all being very time based in comparison to sculpture which I feel is a far more immediate and literal medium. The rectangular surface of the painting creates a 'window' like view into this alternative 'nightmarish' memory, through painting I have been able to create this new space, translating my feelings and memories onto a surface.
When considering the way in which I would like to hang this piece I decided that adding a significant style of wall hanging would overcomplicate the work and draw attention away from the piece. I will therefore use nails to subtly hold the wooden board onto the wall.
Towards the end of the day, my peers and I began discussing the transportation of our work. As mentioned earlier on in this project, there is a possibility that the transportation of a piece of artwork can become part of the piece itself, such as in Walead Beshty’s Fedex series. With my work, there would be no significance in the transportation becoming a part of the art itself (other than the fact I have hypothetically taken paving slabs from outside the hospital entrance, in the form of a memory, and placed them at Kings Cross). Therefore the only problem I faced was that of transporting a wet oil painting from Archway to Kings Cross. This was reasonably easy to solve as I created a box with handles to carry and protect the wet paint.
Place - Monday 29th October
With these two different ideas in mind, I discussed my problems with Hannah first thing this morning. I expressed my disappointment in the outcome of my experimentation over the weekend and told her that I felt that any ideas I had from now onwards would always stand second best to my original ideas surrounding the paving slabs. We came to the conclusion that this was something I was going to have to accept within this project due to the money and time constraints.
With the ideas and materials I already have, I considered what I could now create within the next two days. I have begun to lean towards the idea of something 2D, as I am so frustrated by my previous 3D work that it is something I would now like to disregard.
I began by thinking of painting the hospital entrance itself, possibly changing the floor/paving into something similar to the memories and feelings I have tried to emulate within sculpture. However, I decided that this memory/experience is too difficult to recreate physically to allow an audience's understanding. I therefore began looking back at my initial collages of burning landscapes and their connections to my feelings about the pain. This meant moving away from a physical representation of the place/experience and towards a slightly more visually abstract presentation of the experience. I felt, although less literal, these collages illustrated the pain more immediately to viewers. There is a lot less 'decoding' that needs to take place for us to understand that this image represents burning and pain. To me, painting this place felt like a better way of illustrating the emotional, mental and physical influence the place had on me. Sculpture was possibly too much of a literal translation of a place into a space. For this project and my idea, I am more concerned with the suggestion of a place and a mental experience rather than a physical thing which therefore means, to me, that painting will be a better medium to work with.
I am happy with this idea, however, feel as though the clear boxes I have created as paving stones should not go to waste? I decided on a possible installation style piece - something whereby the painting and sculpture talk to each other and help explain a feeling or memory. Placing the paving stones on the floor could represent the memory, along side the painting which represents more of the feeling. It might work better if I add the suggestion of these paving slabs into the painting so that there is a consistency within the instillation.
The painting represents this nightmarish, painful experience in what seems to be an entirely different dimension. This works well, as in my memory, this place looked completely different due to the warps caused by my personal experience - something I feel is impossible to present in a physical and real form. This, presented alongside the physical paving stones, (a memory of the entrance) shows the simple reality of a paving slab from the entrance of the hospital - something that seems so normal and 'everyday' to viewers.
Place - Sunday 28th October
Evidently, the wax alternative is also too expensive which means this whole idea will not be possible. I feel as though any changes I make to these boxes now will disappoint me as I am still attached to the idea of the sugar blocks with footprints. This is something that will not be possible, meaning I would now like to take a very different approach to illustrating my memories and experience of this place.
For the rest of the day I looked into different ideas and tried to take inspiration from artists and experiments in my sketchbook from the beginning of this project. I ended up having two different general ideas that I may take forward.
1. After looking at Mehretu's work I came up with the possible idea of using these clear acrylic boxes that represent the pavement slabs of Great Ormond Street to show how this memory and this place influence my every day life, that despite having grown and moved on, my experience will always be with me. I could do this through photographing these boxes in everyday situations, for example; along a pavement, at a bus stop, crossing the road. Rather than representing the pain, I would be representing the experience as a whole without the need to illustrate the experience of this place in a very literal way. I thought I could photograph myself in these images - not as the focus of the work but always in the background? I would like to experiment with this tomorrow, however I do not have much time left so I had a look into other ideas.
2. Looking back in my sketchbook I was still very attached to some initial collages I did. Using images from magazines I created these scenes of a burning, hellish place, and added in a simple suggestion of the hospital entrance. This illustrates the experience of pain that I remember from this place, creating this alternate world - giving this mental and physical experience a place to exist outside of my memory. I then created calm scenes of sandy places and clouds to illustrate the contrast of how I now feel when I walk. It is possible that I could work with these two images to create a diptych, or simply use these as a starting point for a different idea.
Place - Saturday 27th October
Overnight this sugar slab hardened on both the top and the bottom layers. However, a large portion of middle section cooled down but did not dry. This is problematic as I don't think this will dry in the timeframe we have for this project.
I then experimented with just painting the sugar on the inside of the box to create a thin layer, giving the illusion of the whole box being filled without the density of it. The sugar dried well, however, it fell off the surface of the plastic so will not stick and therefore won't work for this piece.
The slabs may need to be thinner to enable them to dry hard all the way through. However, this would not give the full effect of a 'paving slab' and would also be very fragile, making it hard to transport.
Is it necessary for me to fill the box with anything? They could just stay clear and unchanged as this represent something so personal it is impossible to portray it through the manipulation of materials.
Place - Friday 26th October
Using a recipe I researched online and trialed before hand, I melted down sugar into a sticky, liquid form, to allow me to pour it into each mould. This was a really long process as it could only redone 2kg at a time (15kg per paving slab). As I poured the sugar into the plastic box the plastic melted slightly and warped, some of the sides also fell off. This was easily fixed but will remain a problem with the other moulds too. Today I only got part of one paving slab done which was disappointing.
The colour and translucency is what I expected it to be which I am very pleased about. The sugar did not turn to the consistency I expected it to which would have allowed me to add the footprints that I wanted to.
Place - Thursday 25th October
Overnight, I decided I would start work today creating a mould of hands in the 'grabbing' and 'squeezing' positions I have experimented with. Using smaller objects such as the lighters to dot around the exhibition space would be an even bigger problem when trying to do a risk assessment for the work. I hoped that the moulds I created today would enable me to make multiple (nothing less than 20) translucent soap casts of these hands, for the floor of the exhibition.
Half way through this process I hit a wall. I was not happy with the way this piece was going and I knew that there would be problems with the work becoming expensive which would in turn mean I would be able to create less hands, therefore not giving the impact I intended. On top of this, Kaori and I discussed this piece in terms of risk assessment and we came to the conclusion it would most likely not be viable in the exact way I would want.
I looked at the idea of creating a section of floor where all the hands are together (as if they are coming out of one of the paving slabs at the hospital entrance), made to look as if they are trying to drag us down into the ground. Due to the bad memories I have of this place, making this nightmarish memory a reality could work well in this way. However, I felt that this was simply an inferior way of working with my idea.
Stuck, I then returned to the idea of paving slabs. Rather than creating something protruding out of the floor, could I work with something going into the floor? This would give that nightmarish feeling but through the idea of sinking into the floor, struggling to take each step - something like sinking sand? Could I create paving slabs that show each footstep I took over this entrance and make this feeling of struggle real?
Excitingly, these questions prompted me to develop the idea of 3/4 paving slabs recreated using melted soap or wax into a mould. As this mixture dries, I could imprint my feet walking in a confused, struggling manner, disrupting the smooth surface of the slabs to present a physical version of what the slabs truly felt like to me when I was younger. I decided that I would make this a bit more specific by collecting the measurements of the paving slabs in the entrance to Great Ormond Street Hospital to allow me to recreate them. I would then present the 'fragment of my nightmares' at kings cross - it would seem as though I had removed these slabs (in the form that I remember) from the entrance of the hospital and placed them at kings cross.
I discussed this idea with my peers and some interesting questions arose. They asked me what I would like people to think as they look at this piece as a number of them expressed their confusion as they visualised it in their head. They explained that they understood that it would look like struggling footprints. Interestingly, I was satisfied by their confusion. This hypersensitivity I experienced was something that few people understood, despite my countless explanations it was something I eventually gave up trying to explain. My peer's confusion surrounding the feelings and memories that will go into, and be suggested by this piece is therefore something that I feel connects well with this memory. I will not be aiming to make sense of the memory in an attempt to illustrate it literally to viewers but rather to spark confusion in their mind about these strange paving slabs that pull you in.
With less time to work on this than I would have liked, I began considering the logistics of creating and transporting this piece. I would still like the sculpture to be translucent to create the feeling of a personal memory rather than something real and present. I intended to use pears soap to give this translucent feel whilst also blending into the brown floor due to its amber colour. However, after looking up the cost of this in relation to the size of the slabs, this is not possible. I then began to research other ways of creating a cast of an amber, translucent colour. Wax was almost as expensive as soap. Melting sugar and pouring the boiling liquid into a mould could work well in terms of colour and cost.
I used the last half an hour at Archway to make clear acrylic boxes in the correct dimensions to match the paving slabs at Great Ormond Street. I made four of these to save time when I create the slabs of sugar and need them to dry. I took these home to work on over the weekend.
Place - Wednesday 24th October
Continuing on from my hand studies yesterday, I came to the realisation that I will be working quite sculpturally for this piece. I also decided that I wanted to keep the idea of using clear materials when creating this three dimensional piece as I think the idea of giving the piece a dream like feel, making it look like a true visualisation of my experience.
I therefore created collages in line with the ideas I had surrounding hands ‘grabbing’ and ‘squeezing’ and the random placement of these hands around the exhibition space. These worked well, however, I am aware that I may be unable to fill both sides of the street and therefore need to consider that the area I work with may just be a section of the exhibition floor.
Through the research of Ruggaber's work, it proved that you do not have to fill the full floor of the exhibition space to create the awareness of what viewers are stepping on. This was reassuring and is inspiration I will definitely take from her work.
I began researching resin and other clear materials I could use to give this translucent feel to each object. Resin has turned out to be unreasonably expensive for the amount I would intend to use and therefore I began thinking of other materials. This is when I came across Ubaldini’s work and her use of chicken wire - something I may experiment with as a last resort. After discussion with some of my peers, we thought using ‘pears’ soap melted down into moulds of hands would give a translucent and less costly material. The colour would also be tinted slightly brown by the colour of the soap which would blend with the wooden flooring of the site, working in my favour. I would like to discuss the logistics of this with a technician tomorrow.
As I could not make any further moves with this piece before speaking to a technician and creating the moulds, I began thinking of alternative ideas.
Using another sensation I described, I thought of how I could use burning to portray the sensation in a physical way. In a very literal way, I took an image of feet and burnt it with a flame. I made recordings of this process and took stills of this video for my sketchbook. This felt very 2D to me and I struggled to develop anything from this. I therefore looked deeper into the ‘burning’ sensation and ways I could connect this to the plans I have to place things on the exhibition’s floor. Materials used to burn include; matches, lighters, coal etc. Tomorrow I would like to experiment with creating vacuum moulds of lighters to visualise this idea.
Place - Tuesday 23rd October
Through consideration of my ideas, I tried to develop three possible pieces that would be viable within the exhibition space and in terms of health and safety.
- A piece of flooring using exaggerated pavement tiles. This is something that would be impractical to expect the public to walk over, and may fail to work in this way (similar to Tania Brigera’s work at the Tate - people don’t do what she intended them to which therefore doesn’t reveal her work in the right light). I therefore discarded this idea.
- Pavement tiles created and placed around the exhibition space - using clear material to give the feeling of a memory and something that was not visible to anyone, but something I could feel. Creating this piece would visualise this feeing and make it a physical thing for other people to see rather than something in my own mind. Placing these slabs randomly around the exhibition (for people to observe rather than to walk over) would make people more aware of the floor they are stepping on and the placement of their feet as they walk. This is something that I was constantly aware of whenever I walked - something that visiting this place reminded me of. It would therefore be a visualisation of my inner feelings and memories of this place/experience.
I was pleased with the idea of a random placement of objects around the exhibition space, however, I felt as though the clear square blocks could be easily overlooked or misinterpreted?
I discussed this problem with Kaori who then prompted me to consider the specific feelings I felt as I walked into the hospital and how I could make this feeling a physical thing. I reluctantly began describing what I used to describe as a burning, stabbing and squeezing pain in my feet. This brought on another idea:
- I need to study hands and their ‘grabbing’ and ‘squeezing’ - I would like to see how this idea might develop. I therefore went and took photographs of my hands in positions that resemble ‘grabbing’ and ‘squeezing’. I made studies of these photographs, sketching the hands out in three different ways to help me visualise the positions and experiment with what I might do with this imagery.
During our lecture on viability and risk assessment of our work I kept my new ideas in mind. Anything I place on the floor where people are going to be walking will be a possible risk to the students, staff and public as they may trip or walk into it. This is something I need to consider when I experiment with some of my ideas. I need to think of ways I can resolve these problems without ruining the impact of the piece or needing to change anything (We discussed the problem with AiWeiWei’s sunflower seeds and how the piece had to change entirely which was disappointing) . Possibly cornering off an area of the exhibition floor - however this may stop people from walking through it and therefore would not give viewers the same experience).
Place - Monday 22nd October
During the lecture today, a few artists stood out to me in relation to my project. Particularly Do Ho Suh’s Home Within A Home Within A Home piece. I like the way the translucency of the piece creates the feeling of a memory or a fragment of the artists imagination - something I would like to explore within my piece as I move a memory from the past, into the present and relocate it onto a different floor. This relocation is again something similar to Suh’s work. I did not feel a huge connection to the 2D artists presented to us during lectures today as I feel my ideas will work much better in three dimension. I felt as though the artists I looked at over the previous week, including; Heidi Bucher, Doris Salcedo and those involved in the SpaceShifters exhibition were far more beneficial to my ideas.
I began to think of creating something placed on the floor (a new, different version of flooring) in the entrance to the exhibition, ensuring that viewers would walk over it and experience the flooring in a more sensitive way.
As we visited the site of the Exhibition, I came to realise that a number of my vague ideas may not be viable due to the practicalities of the space. For example, there was no official ‘entrance’ door to the exhibition so it would be difficult to make people have to walk over something uncomfortable voluntarily. Other problems also involve any damage to the flooring in the street. I discussed these problems with Karen who suggested a possible performance piece - select people walk across the thing/flooring I create. I am less excited by this idea as I would like the piece to be more permanent and less time based.
I considered possibly photographing my work in public that people would hypothetically walk over - representing what it felt like to walk into the entrance of the hospital with hypersensitivity, making it a physical thing so that viewers experience/imagine this. Presenting photographs as my final thing seems weak. I know I can do more than this. There would also be problems with health and safety and being allowed to install things in public.
We then discussed other possibilities of walking around something/ making viewers aware of what is underneath their feet/where they step. This may not have to be a recreation of the actual floor but it could be objects placed around the exhibition causing viewers to become aware of their senses and the placement of their feet on the floor. I would like to look into this idea and the possible objects I could use.
Place - Saturday 20th October
Having revisited the remembered Place, I began thinking of ways could translate my thoughts and ideas into drawings. This is something I thought I would struggle to do through simple pencil drawings because of the complexity of the sensory experiences I have of the hospital.
I therefore decided that drawing through collage could make it easier to portray my thoughts. I took images from nature magazines of textures and imagery that I felt represented the pain and sensory feelings that I remember feeling as I walked into the hospital. For example, fires and burning images used as the floor to the entrance to display what the floor felt like. I also used images of cracked stone ground - something I felt represented the feeling of walking on every bump and crack in the pavement. These textures are something I might possibly want to work with in three dimension.
I then used softer and calmer imagery to illustrate how the place feels to me in my current state. In comparison to when I last visited this place, to walk the entrance was easier and I barely noticed what was under my feet.
I am pleased with how these collages have turned out. I think they were the most fitting way of putting my thoughts onto paper. I would like to now consider how I can develop ideas using these initial drawings, exhibition visits and research. I want to experiment with ideas within both 2D and 3D pathways in context of the exhibition space we are due to visit on Monday.
I would like to play around with the idea of creating this memory and making the personal experience physical, possibly through a horizontal sculpture or instillation. Through this I could use the textures I have found to exaggerate a pavement type flooring to make viewers/participants be able to feel it much more under their feet. This therefore would enable them to experience my memories.
Place - Thursday 18th October
Today I revisited the places I have drawn. This was really interesting as it was entirely different to how I remembered it all. The area in general seemed a lot smaller than I had remembered. Everything was a lot less intense in a number of ways: there was less people, it was quieter, the restaurant was empty, the hospital entrance was less busy, the tube less intimidating, and so on. It was almost exactly what I expected to be different and therefore no physical differences between reality and memory really came as a surprise.
The thing that felt the most strange to me was the fact I had returned as a completely healthy 19 year old girl with the ability to walk down the entrance to the hospital without the nauseous feeling it had previously given me, without the excruciating pain in my feet as I felt every crack and bump in the pavement, and without the feeling of judgement as I walked.
I think these feelings are something that I would like to explore within my project, rather than the physical structures that I have studied. I feel that the experience of this place was a lot more influential in comparison to the way the place actually looked. This may be because as a patient, I was not interested in what the place looked like at the time, however, I was focusing on myself and ensuring I did not feel more pain than necessary through my hypersensitivity. This contrasts to the way I approached my studying of the area today which is why I am not pleased with the photographs I took.
Place - Tuesday 16th October
After reading the project brief for 'Place', I began thinking about somewhere I haven't visited in a long time, but would be able to revisit this week. As an international student, this proved difficult. The only place in London I would be able to revisit is Great Ormond Street Hospital, somewhere I spent a lot of time as a child. I thought this could be interesting as my experience of the place may affect my memories of it.
As a child I was diagnosed with a condition that affected my nervous system, I became hypersensitive to changes in the environment and this would cause me huge amounts of pain. Noises seemed louder, light seemed more intense and smells could induce nausea. These loud noises, bright lights and seemingly intense situations would cause the pain I was already experiencing to flare up. At one point I went blind due to sensitivity to light. The most difficult aspect of this condition was my hypersensitivity to touch. Any pressure applied to my skin was excruciatingly painful, so much so that it was impossible to perform daily activities. This eventually led to my disability to walk for almost 2 years.
After reading the brief and that we should record how we respond to the place that we visit in terms of sight, smell, taste etc., I thought that the results of this would be interesting as my response to the area surrounding the hospital is likely to be entirely different to how I remember it due to the fact my nervous system is no longer hypersensitive.
I decided to focus on three places that immediately came to mind when thinking about Great Ormond Street and my hypersensitivity:
1. The hospital entrance - Walking in every morning for treatment and walking out every evening back to the patient hotel. When I first began treatment, this is not something I could walk, my mother pushed me in my chair into the hospital. I remember the entrance being long. The pavement was hard to get up onto from the road, the paving stones were hard and I felt every small crack, chip or bump underneath my feet. These textures are something I might possibly want to work with.
2. The Italian restaurant - This is somewhere I remember going for dinner a lot as the patient hotel didn't have enough cooking facilities. It was an old looking traditional Italian restaurant and was always full of people.The first time we went, we sat inside and a live piano was playing. People were shouting over the music, talking across tables. We had to leave because the sound was too intense and it was causing me a lot of pain. We ate our food at seating outside where the noise was less intense.
3. The tube station - Often I would be sent to go out and about around London in attempt to have some resemblance of a normal life. One of the first times, my mother took me on the tube. As we descended I was already panicking - strangers didn't understand that it hurt if they accidentally caught the back of my foot. By the time we were stood on the platform I was in a lot more pain than usual. As the tube arrived, it felt as though I was exploding from the inside out. The noise, the light and the tunnel shaking as the train seemingly burst through the wall.
I created sketches of these places from my memory which I found very challenging. Recalling the blurry, old memories I have of these places was difficult to translate onto paper, particularly when trying to express sound and the feeling of pain.
I used pen to draw in a lose manner to translate these memories onto paper. I felt that the messy, jagged lines of these sketches portrayed the intensity of the feelings I had at the time. I also added orange to the background of some of these sketches to try and express pain within the drawing. These pieces turned out ok, I think if I was going to do this again I would draw them bigger and pay more attention to scale (although this is difficult from memory).
Altered Spaces - Thursday 11th October
This morning I began to work back into the piece, accidentally smudging my brush across some of the toes. This interestingly made me want to experiment with creating rock forms around the toes but using fleshy colours. I thought this could create a sort of transition between the collaged stalagmites and the toes due to their similarities, making the piece less fragmented. Whilst adding these fleshy rock forms to the piece I used a little too much white spirit and this dripped and bled downwards into the corridor part of the painting. I decided that I would take this in my stride and add more as I couldn’t fix this, something I feel is very Nigel Cooke - adding layer on layer and changing the piece until it is right. These drips created a confusing, eery feel. With this piece I intended to create a cave like space using unconventional things in replacement of a generic cave image. However, its really interesting that through the creation of this piece it has become more and more like a haunted, morbid corridor. I like that by translating this image from a collage into a painting, more dimensions and interpretations have been added to the piece. This is something I have never experienced before as I usually translate photographs very literally onto the canvas. I found this process far more enjoyable as it is slightly more challenging and precise recreations of photographs through painting seem pointless to me at this stage.
I was slightly disappointed by todays crit. My painting was well receipted and peoples reactions were exactly what I expected. However, I did not receive any criticism which is what frustrated me as I felt the piece did not deserve complete positivity. Aside from this, a comment I really liked was that the wall looked like a bruise, creating a really gruesome scene as the toes seemed to look like people hanging from the ceiling and the drips almost like blood. There were also comments surrounding the darkness between all the rocks, this was something I had tried to make very ‘void’ like, similar to Mortimer’s work. The majority of these comments were simply stating what people saw, I felt the piece was rather obvious in what it portrayed and therefore a lot of this was not very constructive.
If I were to redo this piece, I would have spent more time looking for an oil painting to paint over as I feel that I played it very ‘safe’ using a simple canvas. I would also have played around with this image on photoshop having scanned it into the computer, distancing the piece from the original collage through further transactions as the current piece I have created felt a little too easy. I would also like to have tried painting the piece without adding the stalagmites and stalactites as the walls and floor worked a lot better than I had expected. Of course had I been given more time this piece would be a lot larger, possibly even making the corridor life size to pull viewers into this realistic yet haunting space.
As I walked around the room looking at other pieces, I noticed that a lot of people had created a series collages and left their work at this process. I think in some cases this worked really well as a their form of painting. This is something I could have done with multiple rooms or places with toes hanging from the ceiling.
Altered Spaces - Wednesday 10th October
Today I began painting the collage in oils on a linen canvas. After completing the first few base coats, I decided that the smaller feet were going to be very difficult to paint in a realistic style and so I began to question wether or not I would paint the feet getting smaller in perspective to the corridor. I worked into the actual collage to experiment with only using bigger feet and decided that this composition would work better. Therefore I worked back into the piece, covering previous layers with smaller toes. This painting is very detailed and therefore took me the whole day. The only challenges I faced have been those that are common with oil paints - it was difficult to work into when I wanted to add layers. However, had there been less time constraints I would not have had this problem.
Altered Spaces - Tuesday 9th October
This morning I found an image in a magazine of a dark corridor. I really liked the dark tones as they give a very eery feel to such a mundane space, making it feel very cave like. I wanted to experiment with the toes collaged in different whats - rather than just disguising them/matching them with similar structures. I used this corridor photograph and placed the images of toes pointing from the ceiling down, acting as the stalagmites rather than standing with them. I really liked this concept as it made the piece slightly less obvious than previous pieces - slightly more confusing and random. Initially, I did not consider the perspectives, however, after playing around with the different sizes of toes, I decided I would like the perspective to be reasonably realistic. I would therefore hope to create a space similar to those created by Justin Mortimer, a realistic space changed through distortions and twists creating a haunting atmosphere. The perspective of the toes becoming smaller also draws viewers into the piece as if the room/wall continues down into this haunting cave like corridor. This collage has been the most successful as I feel I have put a lot more thought into it, rather than a simple association between toes and rocks. The composition works well and I like the space that it has created. I like the piece prior to this, however, the composition does not give the feel that it is an altered ‘space’, the focus is a lot more on the toes.
This is the collage I would like to move forward with and develop further. After playing around with the placement of the toes, I decided that The piece was slightly top heavy for my liking, I wanted something that grounded the space. I therefore looked back at my initial ideas, of which I felt the rock forms were still something I want to use. I liked the stalagmites that connected to the floor and wanted to use these as a way of framing the work. Experimenting with the placement of this blown up (using photocopier) rock form, I decided that I would cover the wall hangings in the corridor using the stalagmites - this would make the piece seem less familiar to viewers.
I would like to use oil paint to recreate my collage, however, I like that I don’t really have a set plan for this piece. It is possible that I might collage the toes onto the oil painting of the space and rocks, creating confusion as to what is real and what is not. The toes are real yet they are not their in true form performing their natural function and the space is painted yet it could be real. I would like to further change the journey of this collage through another transaction, adding more confusion to the slightly morbid piece. This is similar to the work of Luc Tyman, specifically his wonderland piece. To do this, I am going to photocopy the collage a number of times. This is because I have noticed that it makes the dark areas of the image darker and the skin tones a lot more intense, this adds to the strangely surreal feeling of the piece.
As I am working in oils, I think I would like to paint onto a simple linen canvas. I could have experimented with painting over old oil paintings like Richard Stone and would like to try this in the future, however, I could not find any of the size and detail that I would like around the archway campus charity shops and therefore will not be doing it.
Altered Spaces - Monday 8th October 2018
I began today slightly confused by the idea of altered spaces, possibly due to my initial interpretation of the brief. The images I had planned and chosen over the weekend were picked as I thought they would work well together, however, during this mornings lecture I decided they were not what I wanted to use to experiment and combine together. I therefore selected the few that I did like and printed out more from online.
Last night I took images of my boyfriends feet as I wanted to think further out of the box (not just spaces e.g. rooms and open spaces). There were spaces between his toes, spaces between his feet and the space around the feet so this fits in well with the project brief. I had a really interesting discussion with Hannah about these photographs. She told me that she liked the photos as a piece in themselves and that if I wanted to, I could explore other ideas but could always return to this photo. This was really interesting to me, as I told Hannah, not much planning or consideration went into the photograph and so calling this a final piece would feel as though I am being lazy or cheating. She explained that of course I would have to show experimentation and development of other ideas within the Altered Spaces project but if I worked through this and the outcome were to be this image, this would not be lazy. This is a concept that I am still slightly scared of but would like to experiment with. However, for this Altered Spaces project I think I would like to experiment with collage and not push myself towards using this simple image by itself.
For the rest of the day I experimented with many found images. I really enjoyed this as I had never considered how many different ways you can collage. Through this experimentation I began to look at a specific photo I took myself and its combination with another image of rock forms.
This own image is sexy and feminine, the silk shorts on the girl photographed add a 70s tone. I played around with the idea of removing these shorts from the image as a way of reducing the femininity of the image. Adding rock forms works well with this as they are an opposite of femininity; cold and solid structures.
I then began to notice the similarities between the legs and the stalactites and stalagmites. I experimented with blending these images in slightly using collage and photoshop in colour and black and white. This worked well conceptually, however, visually I much preferred the collage whereby I replaced the silk shorts with the rock forms.
Following this, I wanted to continue to explore similarities between human bodies and the land. I looked back to the images of feet that Hannah and I discussed. The toes looked remotely similar to the stalagmites so I began to play around collaging these images. I decided that I did not want to camouflage the images together or blend the edges, I would like the difference in images to remain obvious, but the collage should suggest aesthetic similarities. For example, the toes point upwards just like the stalagmites. I experimented with making the collage black and white through photoshop, however, I decided that I liked the contrast of skin tones and a black and white image of rocks, I think I like the confusion it adds to the piece.
Material News - Friday 5th October 2018
Today I held my own crit with a group of my peers online. I sent the video into a group chat and received feedback from a number of people. Overall, my piece seemed as if it was successful in that the message I was trying to get across was well received:
'I really think the juxtaposition of the smoking information with the glamorisation of smoking from the media is clever'
'It really brings to light the issues that were swept under the rug and hidden from the public to sell a product at the time'
'The audio works well as the consequence of what is happening in the video. Putting them together creates an uncomfortable confrontation of smoking.'
'If I were to develop it somehow I would look at creating a gentle transition into modern day through the use of cigarettes in the media until you reach an unveiling, slowly, of the after effects of smoking.'
'Yeah that would gradually destroy the illusion of glamour and shock the audience in some way'.
Amongst these comments, I particularly liked the constructive comments about how I could change the visual aspect of this piece to shock the audience even further. I am unsure of whether I would want there to be a visual crossover to match the audio's attitude towards smoking as this may destroy the differentiation between the two contrasting messages of the piece. I don't think my aim is to eventually shock the audience at the end of my piece, I prefer how the piece remains consistently shocking.
Holding my own crit was really useful and I am glad I did this. However, next time I would like to do this in person with my peers due to the ease of conversation in comparison to those had online.
Material News - Thursday 4th October 2018
Before crit this afternoon we had time to prepare our pieces. I added the extra objects to fill the empty space at the top of the box. This went well, however, I was unable to glue the top lid of the box on as condensation was building up inside. Karen and I discussed this on top of how I could reduce the weight of the sculpture and we came to the conclusion that I could have built up the potatoes using wire and papier-mache and then spray painted this white. I could have also used an expanding foam or experimented more with other materials before jumping straight into the creation of the piece. This is something I will consider when planning and creating my next piece.
When setting up the display for my piece, I knew that I would like the piece to be on a plinth if it were to be in an exhibition. However, if I had more time and funding for this piece, I would have liked the box to reach from the floor to the ceiling of an exhibition space. This would add to the overwhelming feeling of being buried or suffocated I would hope to evoke within viewers. The height would tower over us as a Tsunami would, therefore causing a sense of panic and urgency in viewers.
At the beginning of the crit I allowed my peers to discuss what they thought my piece was about. Unexpectedly, they were all heading in the right direction. The group concluded that the piece looked like a cut through from underground, commenting on buried fossils and extinction. Possibly surrounding the idea of old technology becoming unusable in the developing world.
The group was entirely correct in terms of the cross section of below ground, however, when the idea of fossils I was intrigued as this was not something I had thought of when looking at my piece. Having now discussed this theme, I feel that they were right to say that there are strong connections to fossilisation possibly through the white colours used in a box packed down with mud and other objects.
Karen expanded on this point by commenting on the similarities of the box and a museum vitrine. She suggested I looked at a scientific route with this piece, however, I disagreed because this is simply a smaller sculpture of the larger piece I would have hoped to have made. If it were to reach from floor to ceiling I think it may resemble a museum vitrine a lot less, and, I must remember that if I had the time and money for this piece I would like the clear case to be cylindrical (further distancing this piece from representing a museum vitrine).
There was also a lot of discussion surrounding the white colour of all of the objects. I was honest in saying I had considered the monotone appearance in ensuring that all objects were equal in the eyes of the viewer, however, I had not considered the impact of using a specific colour. I chose white because to me it is simplicity and equality. My favourite comment on the colour was that 'the objects combined together in such a way would make the piece too unseeable had they all been their original colour. By making the objects white you have reduced the information and depersonalised the objects.'. I like this idea as it is true that I have simplified the mess that would be a tsunami, using only essential objects which are now seeable yet still unreachable. The simplicity of the information being given to the viewers makes the situation seem easy - you can see the objects you need to survive and therefore you can grasp them. However, putting these simple objects in a box and adding the blur of clay mud creates the confusing and disorientating atmosphere that the gathering of these objects may not be as easy as viewers initially thought.
Following the discussion of depersonalising the objects, a few of my peers and I began commenting on how the phones within the box have a lot of personal history. A lot of personal conversations, secrets, arguments, laughing and crying may have happened down these phone lines. These have now been cut off, destroyed and forgotten as the phones are now not functioning and have lost their natural colour. This combines all of the individuals affected by the tsunami and labels them the same thing, the same colour, a 'victim'.
Material News - Wednesday 3rd October 2018
Today I went to Soho to visit both the Frith Street Gallery (David Silverman's exhibition) and the Marian Goodman Gallery (Kemang Wa Lehulere). This was the first time I have visited predominantly sculpture exhibitions. It was really interesting to me as this week I have researched a number of artists online and from Vitamin 3D, however, I feel that it is very important that you see the work in the flesh when it comes to sculptures. Unlike through photographs, it enables you to understand the space and the piece's interaction with this space, as well as the piece's three dimensional form. Although I felt neither Silver nor Lehulere inspired me for my project due to their strong differences, the sculptures excited me. Overall I felt that Silverman's work was a lot more commercial than Lehulere's which presented far more mystery and intrigue.
I hoped to finish my piece yesterday, however, this was not possible as all of the objects condensed into the box a little more than I had hoped. Therefore this evening I created more clay potatoes and spray painted a larger water bottle white, ready to piece the rest of the sculpture together tomorrow.
Material News - Tuesday 2nd October 2018
I began today by placing all of the objects I have found or created into the clear acrylic rectangle box I made yesterday. This was simply to ensure that I could pack this box full, creating the mess and confusion that I imagined within the box. After assembling the piece how I wanted, I decided that I didn't like the combination of different colours and textures of all the objects. I noticed that my eye was drawn to brighter and more obvious objects which is not something I want viewers attention to be drawn to. Therefore I think it is right to paint them all the same monotonous colour to create further sense of disorientation and confusion whilst also removing any hierarchy that viewers may subconsciously give these objects.
After using white spray paint to cover all of my objects and creating replicas of potatoes using white clay, I then reassembled all of these objects inside the acrylic box. When the sculpture was put together like this, I felt that it looked too clinical and organised to represent anything to do with a tsunami.
At this point, I had my tutorial with Adrian which helped me question my ideas and decisions. When asked why I have organised the objects randomly into a box like object, I initially responded with the fact that it represents the essentials required within such emergencies and how although we can see them, we cannot reach or use them. I developed on this as I talked, commenting on how the acrylic box could be a cross section of the ruins of a tsunami when pulled directly out of the ground. I then discussed how I would like the viewers to feel as though they were buried along with all of these objects, fighting and struggling through the suffocating feeling, urgently trying to find and reach these essential supplies to survive. Both Adrian and I agreed that the simplicity of the white objects in an acrylic box do not allow the sculpture to do the talking. I therefore needed to add something to create further feelings of disorientation and struggle for help. Thinking about objects and natural materials that would block your view in serious weather conditions bought the use of mud and water to mind. However, I know that if I were to use water inside the box it would leak and therefore I looked into using brown clay as 'mud' clumped together onto and around objects, blurring the recognisable shapes that are these essential items and creating a suffocating feeling of being buried. I took this idea forward for the sculpture and think it worked in favour of what atmosphere I wanted to evoke through the piece.
He also questioned the fact that this piece may seem rather literal when looking back at the article I used as my starting point. It may seem as though I have recreated a smaller scale version of a tsunami, however, I have not used these essential items of food, drugs, communication and technology in the literal terms of providing these things to those suffering. Instead I have create a piece, a stimulation, of what it would be like to be buried underneath, disorientated, struggling and suffocating for such items we take for granted in our everyday life.
My tutorial with Adrian was especially helpful because as I verbalised my thoughts I began to question my ideas and expand on them. This therefore helped me disregard ideas that did not work as I spoke them out loud and develop on ideas that flowed better and made more sense.
By the end of today I managed to almost finish my sculpture, however, when the items were slightly more packed down within the box, I had more room left at the top. I would like this to be full to the very brim and therefore need to create more potatoes to fill this open space. After this, I will seal the box with the lid made of clear acrylic.
Material News - Monday 1st October 2018
Having looked through a number of newspapers and selecting those that interested me, I came in today with a few ideas in mind. I particularly liked my idea surrounding the line 'Earth looks as if its 'gigantic plug' has been pulled in this photograph of Typhoon Trami'. I was immediately drawn to the visuals this description created - a bath draining out as the plug is pulled and the water is released. I liked how literal the translation from the newspaper to the possible outcome could be, in a very comical way. However, I found it hard to develop this idea into anything else and therefore moved on.
The article on the Indonesian Tsunami intrigued me. It amazed me that in a newspaper so full of information and displays of technological advancements, the article made it so clear that we will never be prepared for natural disaster. The situation such a natural disaster leaves humans in will always be devastating and there has been no substantial change in situation of how we deal with these occurrences. Fixing the 'electricity, communication, sending in food...tents, drugs' have and will always be at the forefront of our priorities following a natural disaster, no matter what time period. It also displayed the fragility of such important essentials when natural disaster strikes - we take communication, technology, for and drugs for granted whilst they are bountiful, however, when they are not, there is a huge struggle.
Thoughts of time stopping, a pause in our everyday life, a blur and a fight for what is normal came to mind. I then explored the idea of using these essential materials (or representations of these materials) that we take for granted and creating my own suffocating disaster, something that when viewed, gives us a feeling that we ourselves are cut off from the world and are being buried, struggling to grasp what we require.
Initially I wanted to do this through piling these objects together on the floor upwards, however, viewers would not feel submerged in this piece - they would be looking down upon it.
I then began to look at placing the objects in a perspex cylinder tank, surrounding them in water like an aquarium. This would work to make viewers feel as though they are experiencing the disaster themselves in real time, struggling to find the essentials that they need through the blurry mess.
However, after discussing this idea with my tutors and technicians, it was not a realistic plan within my time and monetary constraints. The cylinder would be expensive and putting water into an acrylic object would most likely cause leakage.
Therefore I decided I would create and use a rectangular clear (clear to allow viewers an insight into the disaster) acrylic box, almost like a cross section of a natural disaster. The objects such as, phones (communication and technology), paracetamol and plasters (drugs), and potatoes (food) will be placed into the box and mixed with clumps of clay and other possible mess. The clay will distort the objects, emphasising the disorientating and confusing feeling of the situation.
I then considered what colours the objects might be. I immediately thought of making everything the same, monotonous colour. Although this contrasts with the natural look of disaster, I think it could work to further confuse and disorientate viewers. The single colour would also help destroy any type of hierarchy viewers may subconsciously give the objects in terms of importance to them within a natural disaster. This is something I hope to play around with tomorrow once everything has been put together and created.
A final development on this idea today was the use of potatoes to represent the need for food during natural disasters. I can't create a mould for all the varying potatoes that I have, and vacuum forming would not be successful. Therefore I have decided to use clay to create the potatoes.
Re-Edit - Thursday 27th September 2018
Although due to timekeeping, we did not have enough time during crit to show and discuss my video, some interesting questions were raised by my peers which I spent a lot of time thinking about in context of my piece.
How would you exhibit this piece?
This is something I hadn't considered during the making of my film. However, I will be taking this into consideration before starting a piece next time as I would like to see how this would influence my creation process. There are two possibilities I have considered for the exhibition of this film. The first I feel was rather thoughtless in comparison to the second (having taken inspiration from Jafa's Love is the Message): a projection in a dark room onto a wall. This is how my peers showed their videos to the class and I found it rather effective as the scale was much larger than on a generic television screen. However, as within the collections project, I felt I may be playing it 'safe'. Therefore my second idea is a small, old television in a dark room on a table. The darkness would draw the viewer in and focus the attention on the video. I feel that the old television suits the visual aspect of the film as I am trying to show the change in views - old views through the visuals, and more modern views through the audio. Developing on this, I could use a modern sound system for the audio to emphasise these contrasts. I much prefer the latter idea as it fits the specificities of the film a lot better.
If you had time, would you extend the video?
I think I would definitely round the video off to be a two minute piece, possibly shortening the audio clips slightly so that the whole thing moves at a slightly faster pace. In terms of the beginning and end to this piece, I played around with adding in titles and a blank screen at the end, however, I didn't like them - they seemed slightly too formal and standardised. I therefore think that leaving the video on loop would work to exhibit and present this piece, especially because of the repetitive and fast moving images - there is no real narrative to the piece and therefore it doesn't need a beginning or end.
I would like to show my piece to some peers over the next few days and create my own 'crit' to allow me to have the chance to be challenged and to hear people's thoughts on this piece.
Re-Edit - Wednesday 26th September 2018
Today I decided to reflect on what I believe constitutes a found footage artwork. Personally, if we look at Duchamp's work, it is clear that you do not have to add or change anything physical about the readymade for it to become your artwork, it is purely the change in reasoning and meaning behind the piece that makes the readymade artwork. Placing this logic upon found footage art work, I believe that it is the same. Taking something or anything already created and giving it a different meaning most definitely constitutes artwork. Throughout this weeks Re-Edit project, I have struggled slightly as through using other people's footage and audio, I feel like I am 'cheating' or 'cutting corners'. This was something even a family member told me as I showed them my work in process. I began to question my work: Did this piece belong to me, or did it belong to everyone who's pieces contributed to it? I have taken others footage, cut them up into such small pieces, only focusing on moments that were seemingly irrelevant to the original editor (when the character's smoked) and adding audio to entirely subvert the original meaning of all of the footage. This therefore means that I have created this artwork from found footage and it is my artwork.
Today I tried to focus on making the footage's audio stand out over the images, an idea inspired by Arcangel's work. As I was looking through youtube at videos about smokers, I came across a video of a women with smokers cough, coughing for a long period of time with no commentary. I decided I wanted to use this as I used the jazz music in my first video behind the audio clips of talking. I wanted a consistent coughing sound behind the spoken word to make people feel uncomfortable. This constant background noise will enhance the tension of the video and make people pay more attention in attempt to be able to hear the spoken word audio clearly. I think this has worked really well within my footage, the coughing is very uneasy and emphasises the contrast between the footage of people happily smoking and the audio of people talking negatively of smoking.
Today I also attempted to make all of the clips fit the screen the same way to ensure that there is no distraction away from the audio and smokers visuals. I have found this really difficult, although I have managed to make most of them fit the screen almost uniformly, others have not worked properly. This is something I hope to work on tomorrow morning before the crit.
Re-Edit - Tuesday 25th September 2018
Having looked at Marclay and Arcangel's work, I was particularly interested in the manipulation of ready made videos through the gesture of cutting to create a piece with an entirely different meaning. After noticing that in Arcangel's piece, Paganini's 5th Caprice, the audio aspects were far more important than the visual aspects, I decided I wanted to play around with this idea.
I liked parts of the piece I made yesterday, particularly the last part where I found a video of doctors smoking in the 1950s and added an audio clip of someone talking about smoking and its cancerous side effects. This play on the past and present beliefs of smoking is something I wanted to work on, bearing in mind I wanted to ensure that the audio was more important/has more meaning than the imagery.
I began looking for video clips from older movies that included casual smoking. Initially only focusing on that movie Breakfast at Tiffany's, I began to notice that smoking seemed to be glamourised throughout Hollywood's past. I therefore began to look through may other films, finding a lot of smoking in the Bond movies, anything Tarantino, Goodfellas, Grease and many more. From this, I took short cuts of people smoking and combined them together, removing the audio to create a fast moving video of different characters smoking. By cutting these movies down to short clips, I have removed the real meaning of the scenes and emphasised the fact that they are smoking, giving all of the movies a common ground.
Yesterday I used the audio from an anti smoking advert released in the UK. The audio is very basic and the tone used is very upfront, emphasising the words spoken about smoking, mutations and cancer. I experimented with using this one audio clip for the whole video, however, this was too simple and not effective enough. I wanted the audio to receive more focus than the visuals. I therefore cut up this audio clip into 3 - the 3 sentences I thought were most shocking. I then separated them out to the beginning, middle and end of the clip. I looked at CDC: Tips from smokers videos on youtube, and felt very moved by some of the emotive things that the smokers had said. Cutting up these audios, I selected my favourite quotes in terms of presenting the most emotion and regret across to the audience, and I added these into the gaps between the antismoking advert cuts. I wanted the audio clips to have a similar effect to the image clips, short and snappy rather than longwinded so that they are more simple and to the point.
Tomorrow I would like to work on refining my piece and looking at changing around the audio slightly to add emphasis on this.
Re-Edit - Monday 24th September 2018
Today was the first time I have used Premiere Suit and so I learnt a lot in terms of the basic skills I can use to create 4D pieces. Although today was predominantly following instructions on how to use this tool, I had some interesting ideas having looked through Prelinger.
Using old adverts as small clips to practise with, I noticed I had chosen a few adverts for cigarette companies. I found it interesting how positive the attitude towards smoking was within them compared to the 21st century’s attitude and thought that this could be something I could play around with. I could do this by possibly using sound clips presenting views of the past, and video clips presenting views of the present surrounding smoking - or vice versa.
I particularly liked Christian Marclay’s piece: Telephones, as I found the cutting of movie clips to create a connection between all of the people on the phone very tense. The suspension of the repeated words and conversation maintained suspension throughout the entire piece which was emphasised by the fact we hardly hear what is happening on the other side of the phone. I would somehow like to incorporate the use of small cuts of clips into my work.
I would like to continue to research the ideas I have already developed and collect further video and sound clips for my work.
Collections - Thursday 20th September 2018
Today’s group crit gave me some interesting new perspectives on my work. Presenting my work with simple and slightly misleading captions (E.g. footprints recorded when making dinner: ‘A Meal’) when taken out of context provoked a lot of thought within the group. All understood that a ‘meal’ was had by the person possessing the footprints, however, some thought it might have been in different locations, for example, a restaurant. This provoked a few ideas in my mind surrounding recording different forms of ‘meals’ in different places and comparing them as I compared the meal and the tea.
Others discussed how the footprints seemed very ‘bone’ like, similar to those of fossils, which leads in the direction of discovery - an idea I really liked as through collecting these footprints we are discovering something about this person. Another person expanded on this by discussing that we see animal footprints more commonly than humans, therefore these pieces seemed quite primal and haunting, almost as if we are secretly watching this persons movement.
Throughout this crit, my peers noticed that I was referring to the owner of the footprints as ‘she’, and they noted that they had not considered the gender or type of person this was - only considering the footprints they had created and what they meant. I really liked their interpretation of the anonymity of the footprints despite the fact that footprints are entirely unique to the person.
One of my favourite comments was one concerning the medium that I have used and how I used it. They asked why some of the footsteps were so bold yet some were so faint and I explained how as the person cooked dinner/made tea I continued to top up their feet with charcoal. They responded with the fact that this must mean that it is not the process that I was focusing on but the whole product of recording all of someones over a period of time. They then suggested that I had a look at using the process of etching to mark the footprints as it would mean I wouldn’t have to top up the feet with charcoal every time the footprints become faint. This was a really constructive conversation and I would therefore like to experiment with these materials in the future.
Collections - Wednesday 19th September 2018
Today I looked at how I could develop my ideas surrounding collection information about humans through recording their footprints and how time, different activities and number of people interact to create this information. I decided that after exploring how footprints can show information about where and when a person is doing something, I wanted to experiment with how I would use footprints to show what a person is doing.
I lay a large piece of paper down in the kitchen and recorded my flat mates footprints as she walked around the kitchen cooking her dinner. I then replaced this paper and recorded her footprints as she walked around the kitchen making a cup of tea. The results of these footprint pieces were very different, although due to the layout of the kitchen, you can pick up on a lot of similarities within the information collected. However, there are far less footprints when making a cup of tea than there are when making dinner. From this, viewers can therefore make assumptions about what the person is doing in the kitchen.
Tomorrow I would like to use these pieces and the larger spaces at archway to photograph them and experiment with layering on photoshop as I did to the 10 hour piece. This could be interesting as there may be even more significant trends in movement around the kitchen between both pieces, particularly as I used the same person for both pieces.
I also researched relevant artists surrounding my ideas, however, struggled to find anything that interested me. Research time management is something I can definitely improve on for my next project. I would also like to branch out from only using online sources and gallery visits to going to the library. This would benefit my studies and possibly give me more inspiration.
Collections - Tuesday 18th September 2018
This morning’s lecture on methodology and presentation was really interesting to me. Presentation of my work has never been something I have put a lot of thought into, other than putting together a portfolio. The different methods of developing a collection was also something I had overlooked when collecting footprints of people last night.
During this lecture, a discussion arose concerning what happens when you take something that needs a duration of time for presentation (for example, in a book, movie or series) and give it the ability to exist through an immediate piece of work, for example, an image or painting. This is an idea I would like to explore within my work as the footprints were taken over a 10 hour period of time, I would like to see how I can play around with time with these 10 pieces.
I began by brainstorming three different ways of presenting what I had collected. My first was using photoshop to overlay all of the ten collections of footprints, combining them together in a similar way to Idris Khan’s Homage to Bernd Becher. My second being a video, changing slide every hour due to the fact i recorded footprints every hour. My third being the simple for of presentation, with each of the ten pieces presented in an orderly and systematic line along a wall.
After discussing these ideas with Kaori, we decided that none of these ideas seemed out of my comfort zone - I had tried to consider things that were going to be achievable within a day inside the classroom.
I therefore began think bigger and developed a plan to collect footprints of people as they walk round an art gallery or museum - an ongoing and interactive way of presenting my collection. We can use these footprints to collect information about movement, what people find interesting within galleries, and how people act in galleries (e.g. do people follow each other aimlessly or do they walk with purpose?).
I created a ‘gallery’ of my own work with paper on the floor. Everyone entering the gallery had to walk through charcoal to allow their footprints to be marked on the floor of the exhibition. I was much happier with this piece as I felt like although I was much further out of my comfort zone, the piece of work was still successful in terms of what I wanted to collect and how I wanted to present it. However, it was slightly too restricting in terms of the people available and the space I could use.
I would like to create this piece on a larger scale in a busier gallery. I could therefore collect more information from more footprints from the public. Other possibilities for this work would be recording peoples movements in different areas in general through their footprints. This would therefore be an interactive and ongoing piece of art, something unpredictable and exciting. It could be interesting to then compare these results from different places without the viewers knowing their location. I therefore would like to gather more footprint information in different places.
Although the first three ideas I had were slightly ‘safe’ options. I wanted to try using photoshop to layer the ten pieces I created last night into one single piece. Before this, I had not used photoshop for my artwork before and was interested in experimenting and seeing what the end result would be like. I was really pleased with the final images, they created a sort of camouflage painting rather than photographs/footprints and showed different information as a collection to when they were separate images. I also experimented with inverting the layered image which gave a blacklight style piece. This is interesting as it could play on the fact that this ongoing piece is an ‘experiment’ to study the movement of people, the blacklight giving a clinical atmosphere to the piece. The use of blacklight within art is not something I have looked at before so this could be interesting to research.
When the 10 pieces are separate, the collection informs us of time - when people moved around. When the images are layered together, the collection informs us of amount - how many people/how may times the area was walked upon. The layered image is a far more immediate show of information. I like both of these pieces and the information they provide us with and would like to develop on this ‘play with time and amount’ within this project, possibly on a larger scale and over more frequent time periods.
Collections - Monday 17th September 2018
Today we looked at ‘collections’, starting the day off with an exercise whereby our tables lay our possessions on the table and organised them in however way we wanted. I liked this exercise as over the weekend I had only considered what I would collect, not how I would present that information. At first we simply organised these objects in a grid style. We then organised a smaller amount of the collection in order of importance of the objects if we were stranded on a desert island. Finally, my favourite way of presenting the collection was ‘noise’. Our group organised this collection into order from most noise when the object is being used in its conventional way, to least noise. I really liked other groups interpretation of categorising objects within the boundaries ‘noise’. For example, objects with the most ‘noise’ would be those that carry the most importance within your everyday life, such as your phone. Objects with the least ‘noise’ would be objects you have on your person but are of less use in everyday life, such as loyalty cards.
From this I have begun to notice a trend within my way of processing information and thinking of ideas. I initially take words (for example, Noise) very literally, without thinking of any other alternative interpretations. This is my shortfall as it limits my creative ability. Hopefully over the next few weeks, whilst keeping this in mind, I will learn to be more openminded.
Our next task was to collect things in and around the archway campus. This was a very broad task, open to millions of different interpretations. I initially starting brainstorming litter and how we can collect information from litter surrounding what kind of people move through specific areas. However, this wasn’t something I wanted to take further as to be honest, I didn’t like the idea of sifting through bins. I then began to think of other ways we can collect information about people moving through specific areas, maybe at specific times of the day? This is where my idea of recording footprints came to light. People involuntarily leave behind footprints wherever they go. These prints provide information about where they are going (for individuals), popularity of locations (for everyone) depending on amounts of footprints, and what people are doing depending on where the footprints are.
I attempted to photograph footprints on the pavements around archway and in dust collected around trees. This however was not providing me with the information I wanted to collect as the majority of footprints left the pavement unmarked. I therefore thought of pouring water onto the pavement (a nonpermanent medium) causing people to walk through this when going about their daily activities. This gave me a far better result. Pouring water outside the archway campus building before lunch left me with a small collection of footprints leaving the building. As predicted, pouring more water outside the building during the students lunch break left me with a larger collection of footprints moving into and out of the building. I decided that this was the form of ‘collection’ that I wanted to take forward for this weeks project.
Returning home, I left an A3 piece of paper in front of the oven and stoves on the floor would allow me to collect the information I wanted surrounding what times of the evening were most busy at the oven. However, this did not go to plan as footprints were faint or non existent. I then asked three of my flatmates to cover their feet in charcoal whenever they entered the kitchen. Hourly, I changed the piece of paper so that I could record movement around the kitchen (particularly, the use of the stove) over one evening and compare what times were busiest. Each flatmate’s feet had different colour charcoal which created further information of who, as well as when and how many. This left me with 10 separate A3 sheets showing a collection of footprints providing me with a collection of information about usage of the oven and stove over one evening.
This piece is something I really enjoyed working on and I would like to take it a lot further than just the use of a stove. Possibly recording use of other kitchen areas or different areas within the flat. Thinking even bigger than this, I could record the movement of people on the pavement outside and around my accommodation. The only problem with this would be what medium I would use as not all people would be prepared to cover their feet or shoes in charcoal.
Collections - Friday 14th September 2018
During my visit to the Tate, I initially struggled to write my thoughts when considering the work without knowing the contextual information. Eventually, this became a fun and exciting way of viewing art - considering the work, then putting it in context and reconsidering. At times I went off on a tangent, thinking I knew precisely what the artwork would be about and being entirely surprised when I read the contextual information. Other times, for example, with Meireles’ instillation, I was thinking along the correct lines of confusion and intensity however, after reading the contextual information, the full story would require a lot of knowledge to have understood.
I will definitely use this approach to studying art at exhibitions and in galleries in the future as it is far more beneficial when trying to understand how I personally respond to the artwork.
Recurring themes within the artwork were those of systematic organisation and presentation of the work. For example, Rewedel’s collections and sub collections of photographs, Holzers’ presentation of truths through sentences in columns, Parr’s photography and Kolarova’s paperclips. My favourite pieces, however, were those with depth and history behind the work. This is usually something I would not have guessed when initially considering the work. For example, the history surrounding Gates’ fire hoses and the Civil Rights Movement. I really like how this depth and thought can be simplified into a basic collection of materials that, when presented to its viewers without, is indecipherable and confusing. This is definitely something I would like to explore within my own work.
Ideas Factory - Thursday 13th September 2018
After speaking with Hannah about the work I produced yesterday, including predominantly primary research, I was pleased with my outcome. However, we discussed how I do try and fill every single sketchbook page with a lot of information and sketching at once. For example, I got an image of an exhibition space at the white cube where I would like this installation to be located, then drew the figure lying on the concrete bed into the image. I stuck this in a small corner of a page, however, this idea is very significant within the finalisation of my project proposal and should have therefore had a lot more focus on it within my sketchbook. Filling fewer pages with more things therefore limits me in terms of the presentation of my ideas. This is something I will consider as I work further into my sketchbook throughout other projects.
Discussing my work with a group of eight other peers was really helpful as I do tend to struggle to verbalise my thoughts and ideas. This is something I should do more of to practise presenting pieces and project ideas. I received some really interesting feedback and questions surrounding my proposal which have helped me further develop the instillation plan.
I was told by a peer to research Marina Abramović who did a six hour experiment in a gallery whereby she left objects and tools on a table and stood in the gallery, allowing the audience to do whatever they wanted. This has strong connections to my ideas in terms of the interactive aspect of her piece.
I was also asked by another one of my peers; how long would this exhibition last? Would you leave the figure there until nothing is left, or would you renew the rubber figure every day? These were questions I had not considered before and therefore prompted me to develop on these aspects of the instillation. Because the audience would be physically removing parts of the rubber figure, this exhibition would not last long and therefore, I feel as though it should only last one week, with no renewal of the figure.
After researching further into Abramović’s six hour interactive experiment this evening, through comparison of her work to mine, I decided that when visiting my instillation, I would only allow one or two people into the room at one time. This would be to create the intimate and personal feeling I want. With more than one or two people in the room, people may act differently upon the rubber figure and therefore the experimental aspect of the instillation would not work. People may not feel comfortable or confident in thinking about and showing where they truly feel pleasure.
Overall, the group discussion was really helpful to my work as others prompted thoughts I had not previously considered. These questions allowed me to refine the ideas I already had.
Ideas Factory - Wednesday 12th September 2018
As the first day of self led work, I was excited to see my project develop with a whole day ahead. I began by asking questions that I would want the audience to think about when viewing my instillation. For example; Where do you feel pleasure? What if you couldn’t be sensual? What parts of your body would be missing if this was the case?
I then created drawings using images found from magazines and printed off from the internet to consider how the audience may react to these thought provoking questions. I noticed that throughout my project so far, I have focused on a women figure to display sensualism and or, lack of sensualism. This interested me, possibly because subconsciously I was aware that historically, a woman’s body is associated with nature, sexuality and beauty. I was also aware of female genital mutilation which sprung to mind in my initial mind maps for the project. Although very morbid, I found it interesting to think that women are mutilated in horrific ways to prevent them feeling pleasure in a specific area (commonly the genitals and breasts), however, pleasure is a very subjective thing. Mutilation is therefore, not only horrific but also a pointless task in terms of removing the ability to feel pleasure. The subjectiveness of pleasure is something I wanted to focus on.
Developing on the fact that history associated a woman’s body with sexuality and beauty, I looked at greek sculptures of nude women and their positioning within the sculpture. I particularly liked Sevres Biscuit’s ‘Figure of a Recumbent Nude’ as it showed strong connections to what I have planned for my instillation in terms of the positioning of the woman on a bed in a sensual, almost erotic way. However, the structure of this bed was not similar to what I had envisioned for my final piece, which then prompted me to question what might work well to suit the theme of the removal of sensualism. I was immediately reminded of the Cerith Wyn Evans exhibition at the White Cube, large open spaces with simple, minimalistic style and polished concrete flooring. This would work well if the woman was lying on a hard concrete block, raised above floor level like a bed, but still connected with the flooring (also being the same material). It would ensure that the audience’s focus is purely on the rubber figure and allow them to concentrate on thinking about what they would be missing if the couldn’t feel pleasure.
After deciding on the instillation space, I began to question why I was immediately drawn to the idea of one figure lying in the room. This was possibly because I liked the intimacy of it, just one person facing their feelings towards pleasure when standing over the figure. I therefore explored the possibility of many smaller figures in a systematic grid of beds in the room. I liked this idea, however I decided that it could have less impact and would be less of an intimate and personal feeling for those visiting the instillation. Smaller figures could be hard to connect with on a personal level and therefore harder to relate to what would be missing if they couldn’t feel pleasure.
I then experimented with plasticine to create a woman bust cut off a sensual area. I used scissors to remove the bust’s breasts. This worked, however, the scissors were difficult to use precisely which is not what I would want as pleasure is such a specific, subjective thing that I would want the audience to be able to cut the rubber body precisely according to how they feel. A different tool that could work would be scalpels, these would be provided on entrance to the exhibition so that they are not cluttered around the figure as a distraction.
I considered the colours/ tones of the rubber model. A monotone model would fit in with the minimalistic room, however, it would be more personal and intimate if the rubber figure was a realistic, flesh colour.
Taking photographs of a woman lying on my kitchen table table enabled me visualise my ideas in three dimension and strengthened my plan, I became more sure of the ideas and decisions I had made. Of course it was hard to find a model that was comfortable showing a lot of skin but I would like the real rubber figure to be nude, as this will allow the audience to consider pleasure in a more intimate way.
Ideas Factory - Tuesday 11th September 2018
As one of my first lectures on drawing, this was really exciting for me. It opened my eyes to many options when it comes to planning a final piece, and reassured me that artists do not simply produce a piece of work with no struggle and planning behind it. It comforted me as Adrian explained that drawings and plans always become more refined as time goes on and further planning develops.
Throughout this lecture, I continued to relate back to my Ideas Factory project and how I could display my thoughts in my sketchbook. Using collage rather than photoshop stood out to me as an interesting idea as, although it may be less refined, it leaves the drawing open to far more of my imagination. I think it would be useful for me to explore drawing with scissors, scalpels and glue tomorrow.
This lecture also provoked questions surrounding the scale of my work and its importance within experiential art. I would now like to explore the possibilities of hundreds of small figures for the audience to interact with, may give a different impact to one life size figure.
Instructional drawing is a new process to me within the fine art field I am used to. It was interesting trying to articulate what I would like from a drawing, with no control over the final piece. This is something I found very challenging as I like to have control over my work and the materials. However, in this case, my partner was the material I had to instruct, rather than manipulate with my own hands. I took this opportunity to test what a possible audience might view as ‘sensual’ areas of the body. Therefore asking my partner to draw a woman on a table and score out any areas within that drawing that she felt ‘sensual’ areas. From this, there were some areas that I had not considered including in the rubber figure, such as hair, that my partner scored out which was different from my imagined visualisation. This therefore made me rethink parts of my piece. Following this, the question of ‘who owns this drawing?’ arose. This is something that I found hard to decide, but, after explaining that instructing another person to draw is essentially using them as a material, I am leaning towards the opinion that the instructor owns the drawing.
As the drawing on a three dimensional object task began, I found it hard to understand as it pushed against the boundaries of my usual ways thinking. I therefore went in the wrong direction, using string to draw onto a page in my sketchbook. This therefore limited me in my experimentation and I found it hard to understand what peers surrounding me were doing. For example, Dan wrapped masking tape around a television and when this was turned on, the white noise seeping through gaps in the masking tape created a very striking yet confusing drawing. I therefore came home this evening to try this task again, using my glass window and window frame as the canvas and drawing over it using string. This process completely changed the way in which I viewed the three dimensional object in itself, including the possibilities it could provide me with in a drawing. The relationship between the string drawing and the object created a piece bolder than the string drawing on the page of my sketchbook. This is exciting as it has shown me possibilities of drawing outside of onto flat surfaces and paper.
Creating readymade pieces at Archway today was probably the hardest concept I have faced so far. I can appreciate Duchamp’s bold work and the change to the art world that he created, however, this kind of artwork is not something I have previously connected with on a personal level. It felt far too simple to be possible. I photographed a teabag placed on a wall outside of the building and turned this into a line drawing in my sketchbook. I then also photographed a hole in the wall and a brown stain on a window, recreating these in my sketchbook as drawings. The broadness of possibilities when it comes to the question ‘what is a readymade’ is something hugely contrasting to concepts and ideas I have worked with in the past. I showed a picture of the teabag on a wall to one of my peers, who told me that they the one that had placed it there the day before. This provoked even more questions: If they were the one to place the teabag down, are they the owner of the readymade? Or because I found it and claimed it a readymade, am I the owner? These are questions I hope to answer through further research into Marcel Duchamp.
After looking at Valie Export’s work, the performance/drawing with the room exercise was an interesting challenge. Once again, it provoked a thought process entirely different to my previous ways of working and thinking which was challenging but opened up so many different opportunities that I will now be able to consider within my future work. My favourite of our drawings with our bodies was when we considered the relationship between humans and chairs. Rather than the chair being sat on, we used Matilde’s body as a place for the chair to sit, this created a really interesting and unexpected form. The body and site were almost intertwined together, becoming one rather than two drawings. I also liked the piece we created whereby the person lay on the edge of an empty bin, with closed lid, drawing in what would have been refuse had it been present. The person filled in what is missing within the drawing. This is a concept that, although may not fit into the project idea I have for this weeks Idea Factory, I am excited to use and develop in the future.
Ideas Factory - Monday 10th September 2018
At the beginning of this project brief I struggled to develop an idea combining all three words (sensualism, rubber and cut) within a hypothetical project. At the beginning of the day, I felt I was taking a far too literal approach to the words which initially limited the ideas I had. During this time I made drawings in my sketchbook planning and brainstorming ways in which rubber materials could be cut or used in general to create a piece of work. For example, I planned to have a large block of rubber and then cut and sculpt into the piece. I also looked at unconventional ways of cutting rubber, using ridiculous objects such as a cucumber to attempt to cut a rubber tyre - this could be recorded as a video piece. Although I liked these ideas, they didn’t seem to develop any further and therefore I searched elsewhere. I then began to focus on sensualism in terms of a women’s body, touch and empowerment through figures and things that stimulate pleasure. Looking deeper into the word ‘sensualism’ and making connections with this and the word ‘rubber’ through latex products allowed me to develop ideas that I felt were worth looking into. I then went on to question the word “cut” surrounding sensualism. To “cut” is something that sounds brutal and painful - something that we avoid when we are “sensual”. This led me onto the subject of female genital mutilation and breast ironing, the removal of the ability to be “sensual” through cutting. This is an idea that I feel I could develop and work with in multiple different ways. My most successful idea for a piece was after I moved away from the idea of latex products and towards the idea of a rubber figure of a woman posing suggestively with her ‘sensitive areas’ cut off.
This project brief exposed me to a very different way of developing ideas. Usually I begin a project by looking art artists that inspire me and relate to the subject or word I am working with. The Ideas Factory project was therefore very challenging for me as, not only did I have to work a lot faster, but the starting point was within my primary research, not secondary. This process is something I look forward to improving on as it enabled me to challenge and develop my own ideas before looking at other artists for further inspiration which may have limited my primary research in the past. I therefore felt that I came up with more original ideas at the beginning of the day.
Working in a group to brainstorm ideas at the beginning of this project brief was interesting as, although there was only 3 people, the ideas, particularly surrounding the word ‘sensualism’ produced between all of us were far more powerful than those produced by just one of us. Although I enjoy life drawing and the figurative nude, I have previously never had the confidence to explore themes surrounding sexuality. My peers exposed me to this and made me feel more comfortable thinking of ideas surrounding this. The varied styles and ways of thinking within my group of peers made for an interesting collection of ideas, something I could not have done by myself and have never experienced before. It also allowed me to discuss and debate my thoughts with fellow practitioners and their criticism gave me further ideas to develop upon.
At the beginning of the day I struggled to escape my comfort zone of traditional figurative painting and drawing. However, with no boundaries or budget to the project and my ideas, I became far more conceptual in my way of thinking. This is something I have steered away from in the past but after the first idea factory session, through group work and primary research, I feel that my perspective on how to approach a project has become less narrow minded.
This evening I continued to work on my ideas and think about any further possibilities in connection to the rubber model of a woman. Excitingly, the idea of some sort of interaction with the audience interested me. Rather than the rubber model already having her ‘sensual’ areas cut off, the audience could decide what they think should be removed using their own opinions of the word ‘sensual’ and what that means to them.