On the first day of this workshop I decided to use water condensation as my material to work with so I turned on the hot water really high in the shower room and waited until the room steamed up. I then experimented with different tools that I could use to make different marks and patterns on the glass. Unfortunately this was not as successful as I had hoped, because the rest of the room was white, the pictures I took to document the process do not show clearly the marks I made unless I held a black sheet in the behind me. So I then experimented with using water colours on the mirror and then trying to get an imprint of the markings by pressing a piece of paper against the surface. Unfortunately this was not a successful experimentation as the markings did not come out clearly and just came out as one large texture. So I then decided to record the process as a performance piece of me painting onto the mirror as no other documentation seemed to work. The first film I made was of me applying the watercolours onto the mirror quite obsessively and repetitively so that there was constant movement and change in the frame. My favourite part of this minute long video was the last few seconds where the paint was particularly watery and it dripped down the mirror fluidly. I then decided to make another video but this time using watered down acrylic paint so that the colours were more vivid and I only applied the paint a couple of times, mainly letting the film focus on the running it running down the mirror, which was surprisingly interesting and therapeutic. Unfortunately my camera lens steamed up from the condensation in the room so this film is not as clear as the first. In my reflection of this workshop I decided to look at Helena Almeida’s piece ‘Study for inner improvement.’ Although this piece is not about hiding or self portraiture, it is the technique used here that I felt would benefit my project. I decided that it would be interesting to base my short project around the idea of exposure and protection. Although Almeida denies that the blue paint used in her work has anything to do with Yves Klein, I believe that if we do see their works connected in someway then we can interpret that Almeida is covering up and protecting her body with the paint that Klein exposed anonymous women with previously. I found this concept really interesting and for the rest of this project I am going to experiment with the idea of ‘obscure selfies’ to show the way in which the media distorts the way we perceive ourselves in the mirror. On the second day of this workshop I decided to experiment with the technique that Almeida used of painting herself out of her portraits, but instead of painting over them after the image had been printed I decided to try and paint myself out before the picture had even been taken. This resulted in me suspending a paint brush from the ceiling using string which I could pull back and release so that the end of the paint brush, which had paint on it, made contact with the mirror and made a mark, I started with the string short so that it marked the top of the mirror and then slowly unravelled it in the film so it covered a strip of the mirror. To make a clear reference to Almeida’s work I decided to use a vivid blue colour to cover my reflection in the mirror, this is also to indicate that this is a reaction to Yves Klein’s work, but should also be seen as a modern piece about personal insecurities. I am pleased with the final outcome of this project, the video ended up being over 10 minutes long so I had to speed it up by 700x its original length, I also included a static photo at the end to show what I could see as I was going through the painting process. I really enjoyed this short project and felt that I got a lot out of is as I am not a massive fan of drawing but being able to use it in a way that creates concept and meaning was really beneficial to me.
For the contextual studies module of my course I have to write a 2,000 word essay comparing two artists. I have decided to use one of my favourite and one of my least favourite artists for this essay; Ai Weiwei and Banksy. I have decided to use these artists because of my very strong opinions of them both, and I want to analyse the impact that they have on their target audience and culture. Both Ai Weiwei and Banksy create art in order to make political statements usually opposing the government. Although they are both from completely different cultures and create artwork in different mediums, the aims of their works share similarities. Where Banksy forced himself into fame using street art and actually sneaking some of his work into galleries, similarly Ai took no caution and came into the world wide public eye when he was imprisoned by the Chinese government in 2010. Ai is not only viewed as an artist, but also as a political activist, which I believe shows the undeniable power of his work. He has commented that ‘Modern Chinese cultural history is one that scorns the value of the individual; it is a history of suppressing humanity and spirituality.’ From this quote alone you can understand why Ai’s work is so important to Chinese culture as change is vital in this society, whereas Banksy is known for ‘exposing the many hypocrisies of modern life.’ which in comparison to Ai’s work seems quite insignificant and petty.
One technique that both artists have used is the defacement of cultural artefacts. For example Ai has produced a series of ceramics such as the Han Dynasty Urn with Coca-Cola Logo, in which he destroys a historical artefact that has been dated back to around 206BC, with an iconic branding of the modern era. The way in which he tackles this in a pop art fashion, shows how individualism and traditional techniques have been discontinued to make room for mass production in a culture that seems obsessed with consumerism.
Conceptually this is similar to Banksy’s Vandalised Phone box where he has mutilated the phone box making it totally unusable, much like Ai has done, as he has destroyed a historical artefact that we can assume the state would want to preserve for museums to encourage tourism and therefore profit, so in practice this is an act to get under the governments skin by destroying what they want to preserve. The reaction to Banksy’s piece was much the opposite, a BT spokes person described it as ‘a stunning visual comment on BT’s transformation from an old-fashioned telecommunications company into a modern communications services provider” and reportedly BT requested to keep it in their head quarters. I think this is a prime example of how Banksy’s and Ai’s work differ, although the work was removed, Banksy lives in a culture where freedom of speech and creativity is encouraged, the work was reported on the news as another of his ‘audacious, clandestine pranks.’ This is only a small amount of the research that I have done so far, but currently I am looking forward to completing this essay as analysing artists work is one of my favourite things to do and something I believe to be vital to my own practice.
The first postcard I was given was one of Farnham Castle, a point of interest in the town I am currently living in whilst at university. My other post card was sent to me by one of my closest friends of his university campus in Cambridge. As I wanted to keep the message he had sent me on the back intact I had to consider in my design process how I could do this whilst still altering both postcards together. My aim was to mix the two postcards in a way that shows how the two different places contrast but also show how we still communicate as our friendship still connects us. My first composition idea was relatively simple, this consisted of me cutting off the bottom of the postcard I was sent so you could no longer see the location ‘Kings College, Cambridge’ and then sticking on ‘Farnham Castle’ underneath as this ironically shows the difference between the two places we are currently living in. The composition idea I felt was the strongest was the one I used in the final outcome, I feel that it works best for the sentimental value of the postcards as it creates a hybrid image which shows how my friend and I have been split up to go in our separate directions as indicated by the way I have cut up the separate postcards. When putting my postcard up in the exhibition space I decided to place my postcard next to the right of the door at average eye level as I thought that this way the majority of people that went into the exhibition space would see it. It was interesting to see the set up of everyone else’s work but I felt a little disheartened as everyone’s work was much more impressive and creative than mine, and I now wish that I had incorporated a different technique, possibly painting on top or even sewing into the postcards themselves, as I found mine was pretty simple in comparison. From this exercise I have found that I am not confident having my work in a space where it can be compared to others.