Part 1

Contextual Practice

To follow - read down left column and then down right column

Week 1

Collections

Day 1 (03/09/19)

We started the day by looking at other peoples' collections and discussing why they may have collected this content. Someone had collected a series of sounds which made me begin to think about collecting non-visual elements and focus on pushing the boundaries of what can or cannot be collected.

The lectures we had today helped me begin to form my idea of what to collect. I was particularly drawn to Tom Friedman’s ‘1000 hours of staring’ as something so simple (a piece of paper) could hold such an energy when it was presented for unusual reasons. This piece made me consider collecting something that may not seem visually exciting but instead have a journey or non-visual essence that could draw in a viewer. Tim Hawkinson’s ‘Bird’ inspired me to collect familiar and yet unexpected materials for a collection as the fact that he used fingernails to create a piece revealed how all materials are versatile and yet our perceived idea of their daily function prevents us from exploring their other uses. With this in mind, I went home planning to collect dust, a recognisable material usually viewed as a nuisance, and create a sculpture that would give it a new life and function. However, I was dissuaded from this idea when I failed to collect a substantial amount of dust and discovered that another artist, Paul Hazelton, had made dust sculptures just like what I had envisioned. I also felt that by making something out of dust I was just copying Hawkinson’s idea but using a different medium and so I decided to come up with a new idea that had more of a personal connection to myself and would consequently make my message less similar to other artworks.

 Day 2 (04/09/19)

Walking out of the Archway campus today I noticed a horrible smell of rubbish which sparked my idea to collect different types of smells. I have a hypersensitive sense of smell so I felt that by collecting strong and intense smells I could reveal how overpowering and distracting everyday smells are to me personally. Moreover, I was excited to create an artwork with a non-visual element and explore how something that seems uncollectable can be collected.

Day 3 (05/09/19)

Although I was pleased with my idea to collect smells, I feel like I did not think through the process of making this happen thoroughly enough. I squirted different, familiar smells on identical pieces of paper, so equal value was placed on every scent I collected, as Idris Khan did with his gas tanks. I was curious whether familiar smells could be recognised without the object that contains them and after researching Sissel Tolaas I wanted my work to explore how smells are approached with bias, by removing a visual indication of what the smell was or where it came from which leads us to judge a smell. However, when it came to presenting my work, my Worcestershire sauce piece of paper had lost its smell and since this was the most unpleasant that I had collected, my piece was not as effective as I had aimed and needed some better planning. The group crit also highlighted that I should have been more ambitious with the size and scale of my work and made me realise that I had stuck my work on the wall too hastily without thinking about the order or the proximity between each square. It was disappointing that the Olbas Oil smell overpowered other scents as the pieces of paper were too close to each other. If I had placed a large piece of paper on a different wall for each smell, as suggested by a member of my group, this could have been avoided.

My group said that the piece made them feel connected and helped them to interact as everyone reacted to a particular smell differently and had specific memories evoked by them. The piece of paper that had not been given a smell had seemed to collect those surrounding it, as aimed, so this work was somewhat successful in exploring how collection can be a constant process and how any material can be collected.

 

smelly.jpg

Week 2

Altered Spaces (Painting)

Day 1 (09/09/19)

We were told today that painting is about having ‘a dialogue with your work’ so I tried to keep this in mind by manipulating images without a perceived idea of the outcome I wanted.

I was drawn to a photograph I had taken of the inside of a radiator. The birds eye view angle meant there were multiple spaces within the image that reminded me of little rooms. When I blew the image up with the photocopier, the photo had a pixilated texture and yellowy green colour which immediately made the space feel unpleasant and eerie. I decided to develop this idea of creating a dystopian world with found images, by adding other photos and magazine cut outs to the spaces between the radiator. Another image which I found depicted space in a new light was that of a tiled floor. Although the photo I had taken was of something flat, when sections of the connecting squares were cut out it became three dimensional. I liked this idea of linking my work to an optical illusion and creating a piece which had confusing and hence mysterious elements. Therefore, I added sections of the tiled floor, that looked like staircases, to the radiator image which made the gaps in the radiator seem like separate and yet connected spaces.

I didn’t want to over clutter my collage, by filling all the dark sections with other images, so after adding the finger, cupboard and cement building I took a photo of my work and experimented with its colour. Although I had initially found the yellow of the radiator effective in creating mood, the collage seemed more connected when everything was put in black and white. For example, when the finger’s fleshy red colour had been removed it became part of the space, rather than appearing to have been stuck on top.

The first day of this project was focused on experimentation so to make the most of this, I created two other pieces that I could develop in the coming days. I wanted to explore using new materials, and so I used tape to rip away areas of the radiator image. In our lecture I had been intrigued by Matthias Weischer’s ‘Interior’ which had a ripped away wall that made the viewer wonder whether they were looking through the wall or on top of it. By ripping my image, it became distorted and a new space on top of the radiator was created. Covering other areas of the printed photo, by sticking down tape, made it became part of the background, and so this new method had allowed me to add depth and fabricate two different worlds coinciding with each other.

To finish the day, I explored painting on top of my photographs. When I added aggressive acrylic brushstrokes of grey and dark blue to the radiator image, the piece had a new dusty texture. However, the paint blurred the clear spaces within the image. Since this had given it the frightening rigidity that I found so compelling, I am not sure how I will be able to develop this aspect of today's experimentation further.

Altered Spaces (Painting)

Day 2 (10/09/19)

Looking at all my working sketches from yesterday, I decided to develop my collage by printing off multiple copies of it in different sizes. I then linked these together by placing the photos in a way that would make them connect and overlap fluently. I was pleased that I had managed to make my collage more complicated and confusing, by presenting it on a larger scale with more details. However, when people started saying that my piece bore a resemblance to Escher’s architectural landscapes, I became detached from my piece and no longer engaged to continue with it, as I felt it had, by accident, become more of a copy of his work. Sadly, I had come to a dead end.

I tried to make the collage less Escher-like by photographing the piece from different angles and adding my ripped and painted pieces from yesterday to the collage. This just made my work look messy and become impossible to follow so I decided to go back a step and revisit the artists from our lectures for inspiration.

After looking at Justin Mortimer’s paintings I was keen to create a piece that had a similar juxtaposition within it. By combining something vile, pungent and noxious (a dissected mouse) with a person, there was something unexplained about my work and deeply disturbing. I was fascinated with how Mortimer’s pieces made the viewer constantly question what they were seeing and feel like they had missed something or were about to witness something new. I felt that my collages had such unimagined subject matter that the viewer (known as the ‘protagonist’ of a painting to Mortimer) had control over the piece as they were left to decide what was actually happening in the space I had created. I came to the conclusion that the collage with the baby was the most fitting to develop. The baby, naked and hence vulnerable in a literal and practical sense, is something that we naturally want to protect and care for. An image of a naked baby also conjures up ideas of purity and innocence which directly contradicted with it position in a mouse’s intestines. I also played around with scale, as inspired by Christopher Orr’s ‘Untitled’ tower, to add to the baby’s vulnerability, as the mouse consequently became more overpowering due to its larger size. Altering the sizes that exist in reality, added to the sense of my created space being otherworldly and bizarre.

Contextual Practice (Language and Text)

Day 3 (11/09/19)

Previously, I had never considered words as art and had never incorporated them into a piece. Today I realised that they can effectively create an atmosphere (Fiona Banner’s ‘Breakdown’ has a suspenseful and chaotic mood due to the positioning of the words) and evoke emotions from a viewer (Martin Creed’s ‘Everything is Going to be Alright’ made me fearful of the future and wary of the intentions behind his piece). Using words to create my own piece made me see them in a new light. Instead of having words to be read, I stuck down words I had cut from various sources vertically and, turned the piece of paper the other way around. This made them hard to read so a viewer instead saw the letters as shapes and colourful lines as I also wet the paper to make the ink bleed a little. My experimentation allowed me to appreciate the shape and appearance of words and sentences, without thinking about their meaning which is usually all we take into account when we see a piece of text. 

Come Here I Want to See You (4D)

Day 4 (12/09/19)

Our focus today was on performance for the camera and how we can use our bodies to make sculpture or an object. In the lecture I was drawn to the artists that focused on how restricting the body or changing an environment, by using props or other people, could alter the way they moved through space. Matthew Barney’s ‘Drawing Restraint’ demonstrated how our bodies can adapt and make do and get by in order to carry out an action or task, as by using furniture in the room he was able to draw on the ceiling. John Wood and Paul Harrison’s ‘Board’ communicated a similar message, as they were able to move together through a space by one balancing on a plank of wood and the other pulling it. I was interested in how this piece showed two people relying on each other and moving as a pair, so I kept this in mind when we were put into groups to create a piece.

My group was also interested in experimenting with how we move and operate when we restrict ourselves in a certain way. We started by exploring how we act when a sense is removed, in this case sight, by filming someone cover my eyes. This was a useful starting point and allowed us to practice not laughing in front of the camera which broke the suspense in a video. We built on this initial idea by filming ourselves tied to each other and trying to walk through a space and sit on a chair. As a performer in this piece, I found it interesting how my movements depended on another person’s position and how such a simple task, sitting on chair, could become so exhausting and almost a battle with my partner. Our video demonstrated the tension between us, as we often pulled away from each other in different directions which showed our bodies being pushed to work in a difficult situation.

Philip Auslander’s text ' The Performativity of Performance Documentation', describing the differences between documentary recordings and phonography, made me much more aware of the camera’s role to either document a real event that happened, or hide aspects of the performance to give the illusion that something that never happened did indeed occur. In our group, we wanted our performance and its documentation to have an ontological relationship so, for our tied-up video, someone filmed the performance with people walking past and observing. This made our secondary audience view our film as a piece of the real world and treat the camera as a means of accessing a real performance like Chris Burden’s ‘Shoot’.

In the afternoon, we were told to work independently and develop our previous work from today. I found it difficult to build on what we had created with such little time, so I took photographs of my hand tied up with tape, as inspired by Bruce Nauman’s ‘Studies for Holograms’ which showed his face being distorted by his skin being stretched and squished in certain areas. In the group crit, where I showed these and the tied-up video, I realised that we should have paid more attention to the background of our video. The doorway behind us distracted the viewer from the action and could have been avoided if the camera was faced towards the plain white wall. When looking at everyone else’s work, I noticed that the initial audience of a live performance can be crucial in making the film shown to the secondary audience. Aulander seemed to believe that the presence of an initial audience was ‘merely incidental’ to a performance but one group’s film made me disagree with his assertion. They showed a member of their group sitting on a chair in different places in public, for example at the front of a supermarket entrance and in the middle of a road. The fact that the public saw the person and simply ignored him, even though he was in a dangerous position or blocking their way, made the film so captivating as it highlighted that we, as people, are so focused on ourselves that we barely notice or have the time to comment on anyone else’s actions or behaviour. Since the public (the initial audience) were significant in communicating the message of the video, I realised that in some cases an audience can completely alter the performance documented and shown to a secondary audience.  

4D day 1 outcome.jpg

Week 3

Altered Spaces (Painting)

Day 1 (16/09/19)

I didn’t only decide to paint my collage because there was a label on the image of the baby which interrupted the piece. With paint I could emphasise the themes I wanted my work to convey, by using a painterly and delicate style for the baby and a more rough and spontaneous application of paint for the mouse. By adding pieces of toilet paper to the mouse (as inspired by Paul Rebeyrolle’s paintings which combined wax and hair with paint) I captured its furry texture and made it dominate the canvas by seeming to leak from it. I hoped this would made the mouse become more putrid and overwhelming to a viewer.

Originally, I had attempted to paint my collage in gouache so it would be dry for today. However, I found it really difficult to create subtle fleshy tones when the paint was layered on top of each other and not blended on the canvas. For this reason, I decided to use oils, but I would still like to improve my gouache painting skills in the future when I am less pressed for time.

I decided to present both my painting and my Escher-like collage for the group crit so I could show the two different routes I explored for altered spaces and find out if my group had any preference even though I felt my painting was more successful. Marlo Pascual’s work had made me consider presenting my work in an unusual way and having it occupy a space rather than simply be hung on a wall. Therefore, I stuck my collage on the ground and wall to explore making a two-dimensional piece more sculptural.

The group crit made me realise that I may have judged and become put of my Escher-like collage too easily as not everyone thought it was similar to the artists’ work and believed that if I had printed more images and made the piece larger it could have really made a viewer feel immersed in a curious and confusing world. They liked how my presentation of the work made it interact with the surrounding environment and enjoyed constantly trying to follow the stairs and make sense of the piece. One person in my group stated that the finger made her feel like she was looking into a mousetrap which I had never even considered.

I was pleased that the themes of my painting were communicated, as my group felt the piece was shocking and linked to innocence and violence. I think I painted the mouse in a successful style as my group felt disgusted to look at it and could only focus on the baby’s face to feel comfortable. I picked the image of the baby due to its position which fit well into the mouse’s body. However, my group made me realise that the baby’s curious facial expression was a highlight of the piece, as it made them wonder whether it had been playing with the mouse beforehand or was merely surviving in a gruesome world. Someone in my group believed that I should have painted a dark background to show how the baby was feeling but others believed the white background made the baby seem to be in a laboratory or more innocent like a cherub. Since I hadn’t really given the background much thought, my group crit allowed me to realise that I should focus on all aspects of a painting in the future.

 

collage.jpg

 

baby and mouse.jpeg

 

Material News (Sculpture)

Day 2 (17/09/19)

We began the project by looking at newspapers for ideas and inspiration, which allowed me to link my piece to an issue or event in the wider world, and not just a personal experience or interest. I was drawn to an article about electric dog collars which made me concerned for humans’ increasing need to have everything around them behave well and be controlled. This story reminded me of a shocking article I had read about schools using isolation rooms to deal with misbehaving pupils. Since both these articles made me disappointed with the fact that we, as humans, seem obsessed with managing our surroundings and difficult situations with force and authority, I decided to use sculpture to communicate my frustration. After looking at Michelangelo Pistolleto’s ‘Walking Sculpture’ in our lecture I was keen to create a piece that commented on society, as his work outlined the need for sharing to be a building bock in democracy.

I was interested in making something that could move or be controlled by a viewer, as Pistolleto’s work being transported around London and in the public, made it gain a certain value. This was from its journey, rather than its material or form, which had been shared and determined by many different people. I wanted to develop this idea of making an artwork that’s travel and interaction with people gave it importance. One of the materials I had brought in was a fan and since this could enable a sculpture to move, I explored incorporating this into a piece.

Feathers seemed to be a suitable material to experiment with while using the fan. They constantly change direction when they fall which makes them seem very free and undisturbed by their surroundings. Zilvinas Kempinas’ metal tape installations made me realise that movement can be used to show restriction, as the constant twisting of the floating tape made me feel like it was trying to escape. Alice Aycock’s ‘Sand/Fans’ was also crucial in my idea development. Her description of the installation being made of ‘thin air’ prompted me to consider giving the currents of air from a fan a crucial role in my piece, by revealing the message I wanted to convey. I thought that by restricting the feathers, by tying them together, and controlling their movements, with the fan, I could have a piece that showed that even objects we view to be free, such as feathers from a pillow, can be manipulated by humans. This would reveal our will to use discipline wherever we can, as communicated in the news articles I had read.

However, I learned today that the picture one has in their mind of a piece, doesn’t always match up to how it will appear in reality. When I began to sow the feathers together with white thread, so this material bended into the sculpture, I realised that they are very hard to attach. I developed a method of piercing the stem of the feather with a needle to sow through, but with many of them the stem just broke which meant I couldn’t use them anymore. On top of this problem I began to fear that, due to the time restrictions of the project, I wouldn’t be able to create enough strings of feathers to hang, which would make my piece look like a birthday door decoration. Therefore, I decided that I would rethink my idea and methodology for this project.

Contextual Practice (Being Invisible Can Be Deadly)

Day 3 (18/09/19)

Hito Steyerl’s video ‘How Not To Be Seen’ uses humour and comedy to address rather serious issues such as people in gated communities or women over fifty being invisible. I was particularly drawn to her focus on old surveillance sites being replaced with new advanced systems that make it very hard to be invisible, as such modern technology means that most of what we do is recorded and documented. Valie’s Export’s ‘Body Configurations’ from our lecture also revealed how difficult it can be to blend into an environment and be invisible. Her position, resembling that of the structures surrounding her, highlighted gender inequality and her inability to fit into society and the big institutions that she photographs. When we were put into groups, we discussed ways in which we could create a video that showed the dangers of surveillance and how technological advancement means we have a lack of privacy. At first we wanted to use the CCTV footage from the Archway campus, and show everyone walking into the building to highlight how everything we do can be accessed and exposed.  However, given the little time we had, we decided to film ourselves in a CCTV style by holding the camera high above a person at a slightly slanted angle. We filmed me in a lift alone, a location and situation that is considered to be private due to the lack of people and closed doors, and then focused on having a chain of filming where everything filmed was then filmed by someone else. We hoped this would demonstrate that all our actions are watched, especially since we added a clip of us discussing our film which was recorded by the laptop. This revealed that technology has more power than we think and should be seen as a threat as it constantly gathers information about ourselves that can be exposed.

When we presented our film, we realised that our piece was too long as I think we lost the attention of our viewers.  Although our tutor felt that there were effective moments, such as the CCTV filming in the lift, she said our video was mostly hard to follow. Watching all the clips put together, I realised that this was true, and we should have excluded the filming chain that touched on the theme of surveillance in a silly and boring way. However, our decision to present our video on the laptop was successful as our group commented on how the final laptop filming scene made them aware of how much a piece of technology can carry and wary of the laptop’s knowledge and data. Therefore, whist we needed to consider how our piece appeared as a whole more thoroughly, our video was successful in linking to the theme of data capitalism which was touched on in Steyerl’s work.

Come Here I Want to See You (4D)

Day 4 (19/09/19)

When asked to take photos of ourselves and consider how we display the real and fictitious in a selfie, I immediately thought about how the use of social media can make us have fake and warped lives. Amalia Ulman’s ‘Excellencies and Perfections’ is a key example of how people view the internet as a place of ‘authenticity’ when in reality everything posted by a person is controlled by them and fuelled by their will to self-publish. Therefore, for this exercise I focused on taking selfies that wouldn’t normally be posted on social media by zooming in and photographing the less attractive parts of my face. I wanted to explore how the natural parts of us are absent online and how this is creating a dangerous perception of what we view as ‘real’. I remembered reading an article about a disability blogger, Melissa Blake, being told she was too ugly to post herself on social media which angered me a lot and made me realise how the selfie may just be constricting our view of what is beautiful and acceptable.

‘Selfie Poetics’ by Andrew Durbin discusses the relationship between us as humans and ‘digitally enhanced creatures’ such as bots, who might succeed and overtake our culture. When we were asked to develop this morning’s work further, I wanted to create a piece that indicated the rapid and uncontrollable growth of internet technology and the dangers it poses on us and our society, as Durbin describes these evolving robots in a threatening way. I was interested in focusing on this negative aspect of social media especially after discovering Rachel Maclean's terrifying selfie obsessed monsters dominated by global coorporations in a dystopian-near future. 

Through research I found another article that sparked ideas for my film piece. News that a man had taken a selfie in front of a woman, who was being treated by paramedics after being hit by a train, highlighted how society has lost its moral compass and that we as people are becoming automatons of the internet. With this in mind, I created a video of a wax figure hung and melting to demonstrate how social media is making us devoid of human emotions and destroying our ‘sense of ethics’. Wax was a suitable material as it can easily be manipulated and moulded into a shape, conveying how people are becoming like this, unhuman, due to the internet. When I showed today’s outcome to my tutor she found it interesting how the gradual melting of the wax made a viewer feel like they would miss something if they left, and suggested looking at Urs Fischer’s sculptures.

wax.jpg

 

Independent study (Come Here I Want to See You, 4D)

Day 5 (20/09/19)

I remembered a conversation I had overheard on a train which sparked an idea that linked to the 4D project yesterday. Young people next to me had discussed why they didn’t post any opinions on social media and how people they worked with were careless to comment on a colleague’s supposed sexual harassment which led him to commit suicide. They said there was no way to undo what you post and that even if you had changed your opinion, whatever you had said previously on the internet was set in stone. I thought this idea of previous posts and comments staining someone and tarnishing their reputation could be incorporated into a piece. At first, I wanted to film myself pouring ink on my body, to reveal the devastating consequences of posting online too hastily. However, I realised that this would pose a health and safety risk to myself, as such a large quantity of ink could give me ink poisoning. Therefore, I decided that blackberry puree would be appropriate, as this material stains and can have a similar consistency to ink.

When filming, I adopted elements of both phonography and documentary recording which I had learned about last week. My final outcome showed a slice of life as I really did pour blackberries on myself as shown via the camera. However, I didn’t reveal all aspects of the performance such as the hand that held the jug and poured the blackberry puree onto my body. I wanted the staining liquid to seem to be falling as a result of my posting and commenting on social media (as indicated by the typing noise in the background which stopped when the blackberry puree was poured). Having the jug and hand appear seemed to break this illusion and made the liquid staining and falling on my body seem less symbolic. Therefore, by omitting parts of the performance that made it possible, the method in which I created my performance had similarities to Yves Klein’s ‘Leap into the Void’ as his photographs didn’t display the safety net that caught him and kept him safe when he jumped out of the window.

Overall, I was pleased that I had managed to create a successful video, as I felt that my outcomes from the previous 4D sessions were not well executed and thought out (the background in my wax figure and tied-up video distracted the viewer).

blackberry 1.jpg

 

blackberyy 2.JPG

Week 4

Material News (Sculpture)

Day 1 (23/09/19)

I found inspiration today from one of the other articles I had selected about a skinny dip. It described how people used taking off their clothes and swimming naked together as a way of addressing and raising awareness about mental health issues. Since mental health has always been a taboo subject and something that is regarded to be kept private, I was keen to create a piece that would show how people are becoming more open about their struggles and exposing themselves for who they are, as demonstrated by the skinny dip that took place last week. I had brought in red onions on the first day of this project and considered using them for my feather installation as a way of controlling my viewers’ reaction to my work with their smell. However, when I took a closer look at the onions, I realised that their delicate skin, which is pealed multiple times before reaching the onion, could be an interesting material to use for my sculpture. By peeling away the skin I felt I was linking to the people in the article, peeling away their clothes to represent how they believe people should peel away their fears and be open about mental health. When attaching pieces of the onion skin to each other with pva glue I realised that the material stayed securely stuck together despite its fragile appearance. This was appropriate as my sculpture then suggested that although mental health is a delicate and sensitive topic, being open about it only makes those suffering stronger and more capable of dealing with their problems. As I built on the sculpture, it became quite a beautiful and detailed structure which was my aim as I wanted my work to communicate the beauty and positive outcomes of people coming together and sharing their experiences in a non-judgmental environment. This contrasted to the intense, raw smell of the onions which I hoped would remind the viewer of the severity and unpleasantness of mental health issues and how the skinny dip was about exposing these.

Day 2 (24/09/19)

I realised, when I began planning to hang my onion skin sculpture, that it looked too much like a bouquet. After looking back at the artists from the lecture I found inspiration from Dieter Roth’s ‘Literature Sausage’ and Sarah Lucas’ ‘Bunny Gets Snookered’. They both filled a transparent material, gelatine skin or tights, with various materials including newspapers to create, in Lucas’ case, a figure which appeared to be limp and collapsing. With white tights, as this colour really brought out the deep reddish purple of the onion skin, I created legs by stuffing newspaper, canvas bags and tissue into the material with mannequin feet placed at the ends. I tied a knot at the top of the tights, so the legs appeared to be slumped on the ground like a sack and placed the onion skin sculpture on top of the legs. I felt this could reveal the debilitating nature of having a mental health condition as the legs appeared lifeless and broken.

When it came to the presentation of my sculpture, I decided to place it in the corner of the room behind the door, to communicate how mental health is a disregarded topic that we try and ignore. I kept my work on the floor, as I felt this also indicated how openness about mental health mainly comes when someone is at their rock bottom and how talking about an issue is normally the starting point in a recovery.

The group crit today allowed me to realise that my piece didn’t really make a viewer think about mental health but instead looked more like a crime scene and, as someone said, a chopped-up body hidden in the woods. My group thought the piece was very mysterious due to its position in the room and the fact that the body’s gender was unknown due to the onion skins covering genitalia. I hadn’t thought about the reasons why I placed the onion skins over the crotch area on the tights, so the crit allowed me to realise that every decision I had made was crucial in how my sculpture was interpreted, and that I should consider this more in the future. They also thought I should have filled the legs more by the hips to make them appear more human but found my use of spiky newspaper inside the tights successful in showing something unpleasant and destructive within the person. Therefore, although my piece was somewhat a success as it created a mood and atmosphere, I felt I had become too obsessed with using a new and unusual material, the onion skins, when making my piece. This meant I hadn’t really considered how my artwork looked as a whole and missed the small details, such as the mannequin feet being a different colour to the rest of the legs, which my group noticed and thought let my sculpture down.

onion.jpg

 

Contextual Practice (Proximity, Context, Meaning)

Day 3 (25/09/19)

Georges Perec’s ‘Species of Spaces and Other Pieces’ asks the reader to question the objects we use and discover more about them and how we function around them. This, as well as Sofia Hulten’s interference with ‘life objects’ by using them to hide and change her appearance (in ‘Grey Area’), inspired me to use the objects I had in an unexpected but useful way. Hulten’s ‘In the Genes’ was particularly thought provoking as in this piece she questions how we connect and categorise objects by placing two pieces of jeans that weren’t part of the same pair together.

In my group we started to investigate these concepts by pairing certain objects we found together (two plugs that could be interlocked and a fork and spoon that could connect). We also tried using objects to serve different purposes, for example the shower cap functioning as a protective cover for my shoe and the shower cap being able to hold water and floating objects like a bowl.  After realising that we all had umbrellas we began experimenting with these, enjoying the larger scale that they provided. Positioning is crucial in changing how we interpret an object, so we tried hanging the umbrellas from the ceiling and then putting them on the floor to create a tent. For me, the most successful piece was the shelter we had created by putting a scarf on top of the umbrellas huddled in the corner of the room. With the objects we had access to, we had managed to build a protective and safe place that had different lighting and could be used to hide and live in. To disguise the handles of the umbrellas which made our tent simply interpreted as covered umbrellas, I went inside the tent. By spreading my legs apart, as seen in the lecture with Sarah Lucas’ ‘Fried Eggs’ our piece immediately became provocative and had messages that we hadn’t expected. Suddenly, people assumed our piece was about the stereotypes that women face as the tent blocking my identity conveyed that this is not always considered and the tent looming over my body made me seem trapped and unable to grow or develop. For this reason, our experimentation today was largely successful although I would have like to have pushed our piece further by building the tent in different locations and seeing how this altered the objects’ meaning.

CP legs.jpg

 

Come Here I Want to See You (4D)

Day 4 (26/09/19)

Today was useful in allowing me to explore the qualities of sound and how it can be an effective tool in making a piece atmospheric and immersive. John Cage’s ‘4 minutes and 33 seconds’ used the noise of people waiting for a concert performance to create an uncomfortable and tense atmosphere. Because I was expecting the musicians to play, I couldn’t look away from the recording, whilst everyone else being quiet and waiting for something to happen made me feel on edge as I felt obliged to stay as quiet as possible. This made me realise that any type of sound, the sound of humans in this case, is capable of transforming a place and altering how we feel and behave in a place. With this in mind, my partner and I decided to focus on using sound to make our viewers feel uneasy and disorientated, despite the piece being shown in a comfortable and familiar environment.

As Samson Young’s ‘Muted Tchaikovsky’ focuses on one particular sound (muting) we decided to focus merely on vibrations, so we could really get to know and explore what we would present. Using the phone, we created different vibration sounds by placing it on various machines in the workshops. I was drawn to a deep sound we had recorded that sounded more like a boat’s engine than a phone vibrating on a surface. Creating a sound that didn’t match the object was our aim, as what had made Nevin Aladag’s ‘Traces’ so captivating and thought provoking was his use of the environment (roundabouts and the wind) to create music and make instruments sound. Young’s orchestra playing quiet sounds also had an unexpected element that we wanted to incorporate into this project.

When it came to presenting this morning’s work and adding a visual element we had many ideas. At first, as inspired by Abu Hamdan’s article ‘Does Sound Deceive’, I wanted to link in the theme of surveillance and his assertion that ‘no matter who we are someone out there is listening’. Reading this text made me think about playing phone conversations through phones connected and placed together in an installation. This would give the sense of sound being used to track people and gather data, conveying its dangerous and revealing quality (which Hamdan touched on by describing the use of sound in criminal investigations and government decisions). However, although I may like to explore this idea further in the future, I decided to work with the sounds we had assembled earlier due to lack of time.

With my partner we decided to use a visualisation effect to have shapes and colours move and change in response to the deep vibration sound. This allowed us to achieve our objective to use sound to evoke uneasiness and transport a person into a chaotic and disturbing environment. When a person stood close to the screen, they felt like they were moving and spinning between the shapes and wiggling lines. Playing the thudding vibration noise at a loud volume added to our viewers’ uncomfortable mood especially since the sound got faster and its rhythm less regular over time. For this reason, I thought this project was successful as I had managed to work quickly with an unfamiliar medium and use it to build suspense. Our final outcome also included the sounds of people observing our piece to link to Cage’s work where all types of sound are given a value and importance.

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Week 5

Place 

Day 1 (30/09/19)

Visiting the sight where we will exhibit this project’s outcome was very useful. After today’s lecture I wanted the King’s Cross Campus to feed into my work and make up part of its message (like Marlene Dumas’ ‘Oscar Wilde and Bosie’ that communicated the torture the writer wrongly went through for being homosexual, due to being placed in Reading Jail). I tried to explore the areas of the building that were less populated and unknown, so my work could possibly surprise my viewers and teach them about their surroundings. This led me to a box of wood and furry hair-like material. I liked the difference in the objects’ textures (one furry and flimsy and the other rigid and smooth) and took photographs of these overlapping and balancing on each other. At home I developed these pieces by applying white acrylic paint on top of the printed images which created a negative and unknown space within the photos. The primer activity, where I had mapped out a Greek School I attended, had sparked my interest in exploring feeling out of place and unable to fit in so I felt these experiments linked to that by having an unexplained and lonely appearance.

Day 2 (01/10/19)

My mixed media pieces from yesterday were much more successful than I realised as my tutor was very engaged by the fact that they felt like paintings but were also sculptural. He suggested looking at Amy Stephens’ work which, like my pieces, combined contrasting textures, shapes and sizes. After researching her sculptures, I was keen to really connect with the material I used and consider all its properties in the process (shape, texture, smell, weight…).

I also developed my ideas from the primer. Rather than choosing a place that evoked happy memories or feelings, I picked a negative one as I was interested in how a place, simply by smelling or seeing people associated with it can cause anxiety. The feelings of friendlessness and isolation that I had felt at Greek Saturday school led me to think about communicating not having a place. A chair, symbolising having a place, as you sit on it to be part of a group and included in a space (for example you get saved a seat by a friend) provided a useful starting point. I started planning to make a chair that cannot be sat on, hence meaning that the viewer has no place, by using a fragile material that would still allow the shape of the sculpture to be maintained.  My next step will be to find a material that is suitable.

Contextual Practice (Gallery visit)

Day 3 (02/10/19)

Dafna Talmor’s ‘Constructed Landscapes’ raises questions about the landscape and its construction. Her use of destroying and cutting negatives to disrupt photographs, allows her to play with scale, flatness and depth whilst having ambiguous outcomes. I particularly enjoyed her presentation of the prints; The absence of glass allowed the viewer to physically engage with the work whilst her window drop, diffused the light in areas of the room. The patterns made from the board used to cut the negatives, added an abstract representation of her methodology and made me consider how the results from a working process can hold equal value to the finished outcomes. Talmor’s removal of man-made elements with the addition of the spliced negatives made the places depicted feel fictional even though they were anchored in specific locations. Overall, the artist’s investigation of a usually careful and precise process (developing photographs) was very compelling and prompted me to think about the way I make pieces and whether I can incorporate the act of destroying or removing to have successful outcomes.

Place 

Day 4 (03/10/19)

Reading Miwon Kwon’s ‘One Place After Another’ reminded me of my initial aim to link my piece to the exhibition site in some way. The article expresses the connection between site specificity and inclusivity, as artwork exhibited in public locations allows pieces to have new viewers that aren’t usually exposed to art and aren’t ‘elitist’ as she describes. With this in mind, I decided to use hair to make my chair. If I collected hair from CSM students to make a chair I could connect people in their feelings of misplacement and not belonging. I believe that no one really belongs anywhere, and it is just society’s obsession with putting things into categories and labelling us that makes us feel so insecure about not fitting in. To communicate this, I decided to create a human hair chair (too fragile to be sat on suggesting a lack of belonging and yet connecting to my viewers and the Kings Cross site due to the material).

Then I had to start planning how to make this possible. I was reassured and encouraged to continue with my idea after speaking to my tutor who was excited by the notion of having a chair that you don’t really want to sit on and has a repulsive element. This made me think about the chair’s place. Would one that can’t be sat on still be considered a chair? Is it the function of an object or its appearance that makes us put it into a particular category? I ruled out the possibility of hanging the chair as she said arranging this is difficult as the Kings Cross ceiling is very high, so I began coming up with other solutions to make my idea feasible.

Independent study

Day 5 (04/10/19)

Going to the Freize Art Fair sparked my ideas on how to develop my hair chair. I came across Angela Su, who embroidered and sowed with hair to create beautiful and delicate designs. This made me consider using a similar method of weaving with hair to create my sculpture, as this made the material appear extremely fragile. By simply using a material in a new way I noticed people were drawn to her work as it pushed the boundaries, she described being existent in a feminine and domestic practise.

I also learnt the importance of risk assessment today, which we had discussed in Monday’s lecture, as a loaf of bread sculpture fell from a large height onto someone’s head. The exciting experience of being in an exhibition is ruined when you start to feel wary of the sculptures and pieces surrounding you so I will be careful to make my piece as safe as possible.

Week 6 (Progress Tutorial Week)

Progress Tutorial 

Day 1 (07/10/19)

I have realised that my sketchbook needs to include all the details of the projects, such as the failed ideas and silly experiments. Showing all aspects of my thought process through drawing and annotating, will allow my outcomes to seem more fully formed. I was pleased that my workflow was of a suitable standard,  so I will try to work in my sketchbook with the same dedication as I work on my workflow. My progress tutor suggested I seek study support for my time management as I have found it difficult to keep all my work up to date with the fast paced nature of the course. 

Place

Day 2 (08/10/19)

My focus for today was on developing a methodology to make my sculpture existent. I discovered the artist Jenine Shereos, who sews human hair leaves which made me consider trying to hand sew with long pieces of hair in an embroidery hoop. This led me to Meredith Woolnough, who makes three-dimensional thread designs. Although, I found the colours and images she creates with the material off putting and rather boring, her method, and that of Shereos, allowed me to develop my own. Both use water soluble fabric which allows them to intertwine threads or hairs and then make them sculptural. I am keen to experiment with this material which may allow me to sew and still have a slightly transparent and fragile outcome. I found a video by Woolnough which explained how to use the material and so now, confident that I can use water soluble fabric correctly, I have ordered the material.

Day 3 (09/10/19)

The Stich Induction was much more useful than I had expected as we learnt step by step how to use sowing machines and each had a go with advice and instructions. This is a skill I will need when trying out the water-soluble fabric, although I have realised now that if I only sew with hair, I will have to do this by hand as hair isn’t long enough to be threaded though a machine.

Going into the Archway Campus also allowed me to begin my hair collection from students and have material to work with at home. I also accessed study support to help my time management which has allowed me to approach my sketchbook in a more productive way by thinking about it as a tool for myself rather than something I have to fill in for assessments.

Day 4 (10/10/19)  

The fabric arrived so I began using it in different ways to discover how I could incorporate the material into my process. I started sowing by hand with a strand of hair which was very fiddly and unsuccessful. Since I am not a confident sewer, I realised that my belief in creating a hand sown structure was very unrealistic. I also used a simple running stich which obviously meant that when the backing was removed, I was left with a collection of hair attached by nots.  It looked less impressive than I had imagined so I turned to the sewing machine. Although, sewing with hair wasn’t feasible, I decided I could sow a thread pattern and then weave the hair through it. If I used dark brown thread, a common hair colour that can easily be bought and doesn’t come in a fake-like colour, it could blend in with the hair. When I sewed with brown thread and removed the fabric, by dipping it in cold water, the embroidery stayed together and became quite a firm and sturdy material, as I made sure I didn’t wash the backing completely, so it acted as a stiffening glue.

When it came to the pattern of the fabric pieces, I decided to do a crosshatching style with the threads closely together, so the outcome wasn’t too flimsy. I used a triple backstitch on the machine to make sure no threads came undone when completed.  

Week 7

Place 

Day 1 (14/10/19)

I am starting to doubt my project and am wondering whether I was too ambitious. My plan today was to create a copper wire frame for the embroidering to be sowed to. I have made a thick border around each sewed piece so to cover the wire underneath it. This is so the chair will seem to be made of something that can’t hold a structure and will have a transparent and vague feel like with Do Ho Suh’s ‘Home within a Home’ and Fritz Panzer’s wire sculptures. I also wanted there to be a deceiving element in my work, similar to Thomas Demand’s ‘Presdiency’ room, by covering the building blocks of my structure.

However, although the technician was confident and excited about my idea, I only manged to make a couple of squares to hold one chair leg. I had expected to complete the frame so I could focus on attaching the embroidery and adding the hair. The thick wire that I used made it difficult to get sharp corners and when I tried to create the squares, they just became oblong and more like rhombuses. I managed to solve this problem and master the square-making technique by using a thinner wire but still spent the whole day in the metal workshop without much progress.

Day 2 (15/10/19)

Completing my hair collection was today’s highlight as it means I will be able to incorporate this material into my piece. However, I was not as successful in the metal workshop. The welding didn’t seem to hold my wires together and my chair leg became incredibly wonky making me concerned as to whether my sculpture will be able to stand upright (a necessity in my risk assessment). I decided to use my friend’s soldering kit at home to make the structure, as the welding was so time consuming with little results. Thankfully this was successful, and I now have a copper wire chair frame that I can work with. This process has made realise that despite my sculptural ideas, I really don’t think in the technical way needed in the workshop and particularly in the sculpture pathway.

Day 3 (16/10/19)

Putting the chair together provided me with new problems. The sowing had made the length of the fabric, that I had measured against a real chair, shorter. Even when the backing was removed, I couldn’t stretch my sowed pieces to the decent length needed for the chair to look normal.  Therefore, I had to create another embroidered piece to add to the back legs and solve the issue. I was pleased that, by hand sewing, the threads stayed firmly to the wire and mostly covered it. I also was surprised at how hair-like the thread looked, due to there being many dangling strands coming from the embroidery pieces. The wire around the seat was exposed which I found slightly disappointing as it ruined the illusion of it just consisting of thread and hair. However, I am overall happy that I managed to create a CSM human hair chair to exhibit.

Day 4 (17/10/19)

The transportation of the chair was fairly easy as it was light to carry and, although a bit wobbly, rather secure. I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t managed to get a white wall behind my sculpture, as this colour allowed the details of the sowed thread to be visible. For this reason, I went to the tube station after the exhibition and photographed my sculpture behind the white walls of the tunnel. Showing my work to a wider audience was a really exciting and new experience. Many degree students commented on my work when I created a slightly transparent and intricate hair seat by putting my collection on top of the thread.  They recommended me to go and see the White Cube exhibition by Mona Hatoum. I also found how my work interacted to the surrounding pieces interesting. With the paintings nearby, the three-dimensional aspect of my piece really came out making me realise that an exhibition is a collective journey rather than an individual one.

 

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Planning Contextual Review

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Details

Contextual Review (First Draft)

Analysing the type of smell, texture and durability of a material has become inherent in my work. Part One has allowed me to explore utilising the smell and fragility of onion skins, to bring a sense of unease, and change my appearance and body with blackberry puree. I also enjoyed and found the ‘Altered Spaces’ project hugely influential on my practice. Manipulating and distorting found images with a variety of techniques (multiplying, collaging and masking) led me to explore ripping away a photograph’s surface and discover how this leaves an unknown negative space within an image. Seeing Dafna Talmor’s ‘Construction Landscapes’ at the Sid Motion Gallery also convinced me that taking away from an image (as she did by cutting negatives) can result in an ambiguous and intriguing outcome. This has encouraged me to carefully consider my methodology and not always focus on adding to a starting point, as I have previously. For example, in ‘The Self’ 4D project I filmed a wax figure melting, investigating the opportunities that come when something is destroyed.

I have found the sculpture projects the most challenging, as making a hair chair in response to the theme of ‘Place’ was difficult to translate from my head. Using the workshops posed many issues as I had to develop a precise and accurate way of working amongst many other people. I thought I would be able to create a metal frame for my chair in a day, but only managed to make a couple of oblong squares for one chair leg, as mastering the technique of using copper wire took longer than anticipated. When it came to adding the thread and hair to the frame, I realised that I hadn’t measure the chair I was working from sufficiently, and had to quickly sow more thread pieces to meet the exhibition deadline. Despite these problems, I was pleased that I had managed to work with a completely new material (water soluble fabric) and use it to have a sculptural result, which pushed the boundaries in the field of sowing and embroidery as inspired by Angela’s Su’s stich work in the Frieze art fair.

Through reading I have developed my interest in making art inclusive and allowing it to connect people. The Kings Cross Library resources allowed me to learn about how a multisensory approach to art, can expand an audience and make work more accessible. I took my hypersensitive sense of smell, something personal to myself, and used this as a starting point in bringing viewers together by creating a smell collection in the first project. Richard J Stevenson’s article on ‘The Forgotten Sense’ (Smell) made me realise that a medium with so many possibilities is largely being ignored, as he describes the only smell museums being about perfume and food. What I find captivating are the smells that slip out of our consciousness and are no longer ‘available for perception’ due to humans’ ability to adapt. Sissel Tolaas acted on this concept by creating city smellscapes with multiple chemicals and elements. In the future I would really like to explore using this medium which opens up art to the visually impaired and has the ability to create vivid and emotive memories amongst certain age groups.

Although, I am very interested in the materials used in a piece I feel like the painting pathway will be the most suitable for my progression. My baby and dead mouse painting focused precisely on the image to repulse and disturb a viewer, as I combined something unhygienic and pungent with something innocent that we want to protect and care for. I also explored different painting styles in this project, applying detailed precise tones in contrast to quick and invasive brushstrokes. To me, material and location has to be considered in any pathway as they are crucial in evoking other senses. However, the image is more specific to the painting pathway and since I used this concept so successfully in ‘Altered Spaces’ I feel like this pathway will allow me to really develop my skills and interests in multisensory art and inclusivity.

Bibliography:

Anon., 2014. The Multisensory Museum: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives On Touch, Sound, Smell, Memory, And Space. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, chapter 10

Constuction Landscapes, 2019, Sid Motion Gallery, 27 September 2019 - 26 October 2019, 2 October 2019

Blindspot Gallery. 2019. Frieze London 2019: Angela Su - Blindspot Gallery. [ONLINE] Available at: https://blindspotgallery.com/exhibition/frieze-london-2019-angela-su/. [Accessed 27 October 2019].

CityLab. 2019. Artist Sissel Tolaas on How to Capture the Smells of Your City – CityLab . [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.citylab.com/life/2015/11/wake-up-and-smell-your-city/413908/. [Accessed 27 October 2019].