Here is my short film clip from a group project ’30 seconds/1 cut’. I was very enthusiastic when I heard about this project as I really enjoy working in the media of film and wanted to experiment with it more after my week rotation in moving image and photography in part 1 of my course. I decided to take this opportunity to film myself screaming at the camera for 30 seconds without stopping. I used this as therapy for myself, letting out all of my current frustrations and anger but channeling it into something constructive and hopefully creative at the same time. This is how I feel about a lot of my current work, as by focusing on my own frustrations and therapeutically channeling them into my art I sometimes can feel quite relieved and as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Unfortunately I was unable to scream for the whole 30 seconds as my throat began to hurt, so the last 10 seconds are left in an eerie silence with me out of shot before it carries on to the next persons 30 second clip. My film contrasted very dramatically next to the other clips as many of them didn’t include much sound and many of them were practically silent, so when mine came on it was quite a shock and made a few of the audience jump. I was pleased with this result as it meant that the viewers physically reacted to my work and made an impact on them, I also feel that this video could be interpreted as a literal cry for help. I do wish that I had got better lighting, focus and symmetry in the shot and possibly more white to give a more clinical aesthetic to the piece. When I asked my peers what they thought of my clip they said that they found it frightening and uncomfortable to watch and listen to as I had recorded myself in a very intimate way making myself appear vulnerable and mentally unstable.
My final piece came out very differently to how I had originally envisioned it, as I was collecting media for this I found it hard to imagine what it would finally look like. Unfortunately I did not think it was possible to go as far as Calle and stalk strangers, as I did not want to actually become a stalker, I merely wanted to play a fictional character that I had fabricated. My ‘victim’ was one of my flat mates so I had access to her continuously throughout the duration of this project. I started by taking pictures of her doing everyday things such as her washing, buying coffee, walking to the train station, and found that the most successful and realistic photos where the ones taken through glass. Two of my favourite photos from this where of my subject looking out a window, and you can tell by the quality of the photo and the framing that I have had to zoom in a lot to get these images which I think speaks much loudly than the images themselves. I then went on to observe my subject more intimately through drawing her, but these observations where not as successful as I had hoped as drawing is not my strong point. The most successful part of this piece I think was my documentation of the stalking process by collecting small intimate items, such as cigarette butts and washing detergent, from my subject and then ordering and labeling them in chronological order in small see through bags.
I also wrote journal entries documenting the stalkers interaction with their victim; I think that these worked well as it allowed me to fabricate situations all through my piece. An addition that I had not planned was two train tickets to London and a receipt from the gig venue Koko. I decided to use these in my piece alongside a journal entry, but instead of using them on their own I decided to Google who was playing at the venue that night and showed a print screen of the venues website and the musicians EP which I had downloaded onto my itunes to show the power of the internet, and I feel that this addition actually worked very well. My aim was to set up the piece to realistically look like something you may find in a stalkers room, if I’d had more time on this project I would have collected much more documentation and would have liked to have filled a whole wall, as I think this would have made the piece overwhelming and given it more impact.
With this project title I have decided to create a piece of work based on stalking. To help me with how I approach this concept I decided to research Sophie Calle. I have decided to research this artist because of the way in which she follows complete strangers without them knowing documenting their behaviour through photos notes. I also feel that the concepts within her work, although created 30 years ago are even more relevant today. Her work focuses on the boundaries between freedom and control, surveillance and the anonymous. With the growing popularity of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter we are constantly venerable to stalkers, we are online prey. This is why I think Calle is so important to my project, as she worked in a time before the internet where intimate information can be accessed in the click of a button, yet she still found ways to stalk her subjects vigorously, for example phoning hundreds of hotels in Venice just to find out where one man was staying. I feel that I could use her techniques to expose how frightening it is to live in modern times where anybody or anything can be found in a wifi range. Another reason why I felt it was important to look at Calle’s work is the way in which she presents her work with photographs accompanied by text. This is something that I have been considering for my own work, as I feel this will contribute to the documentation element that I want my piece to be about. Calle claims that the motivation behind her work was because she had no friends and was bored, so there is this parallel of loneliness that inhabits her work, this idea that she is just so desperate to escape from her own life and be apart of others.
This has made me consider the fact that not only do I want my piece to document the behavior of the stalked, but also create a character for the stalker. To help me with this I researched famous stalkers, and from this research it was made clear to me how social media websites have increased stalking tendencies. It also educated me on the fact that there are different types of stalkers, ranging from minor to major assaults. This helped me reflect on what the aim of the stalkers character was, I came to the conclusion that it will be most realistic if the stalker is simply infatuated with their victim, wishing to know as much about them as possible, possibly wanting to build a relationship with them at some point using the information they have gathered to their advantage.
For the introduction to part 2 of my course I had to find two articles to annotate. In artforum magazine I came across an article by Charlotte Birnbaum on Mary Ann Caws’s ‘Modern Art Cookbook’ and ‘Scene of Production’, an article by Rhea Anastas on a piece by Andrea Fraser. The one I was most interested by was the article on ‘Untitled’ by Andrea Fraser, this piece, as I gathered from the article, has all the connotations of prostitution, but is considered art because that is what the artist has labelled it as. This reminded me of Marcel Duchamp’s work, where he took everyday objects and put them into a gallery space, therefore dictating that they were art. In this case, Fraser labels a video of her having sex with a man commissioning the video itself as ‘art’, directly linking to Duchamp’s statement ‘I am an artist so everything I do is art.’ I feel that Fraser is just trying to shock the audience, but as modern day viewers, who are constantly exposed to sexualised images for the sake of advertisement, I no longer think we can be shocked by this. I don’t think this piece of art is particularly necessary for our culture as all it does is normalise a taboo subject, but I don’t feel that we need to adapt when we are already immune. These ideas of creating shocking art using sexual imagery lead me to look at an article from the guardian titled; ‘Oedipal exposure: Leigh Ledare’s photographs of his mother having sex.’ This article has assembled a number of provocative photographs of mother in his series ‘Pretend You’re Actually Alive.’ Unlike Frasers lack of title this heading gives the piece much more meaning already, it gives the viewer an instant narrative of possibly a lonely woman trying to find comfort in sexual relations with much younger strangers, and this is exactly what the pictures depict.
This particular image that I have included feels rather uncomfortable, the young boy sleeping completely unconnected to the remorseful face of his older momentary lover. I feel that this image captures the reflection of his mother, the moments afterward when she asks herself ‘is this actually making me alive?’ Ledare is described as ‘soft spoken’ which somehow makes his work more uncomfortable and taboo, especially when you see the names of his photographs such as ‘Mom fucking in mirror’. I find this piece rather hard to understand or face, and I just feel that although Ledare has been successful in pushing new boundaries within art, there is a reason why these boundaries have never been touched before.