Crit show – LSTV2

For the the second crit show I decided to develop my ideas using the platform of a Vlog parody as I felt that this was possibly one of the most successful works I have done recently. Reflecting on my ideas with a tutor I started thinking about what really interests me and makes me create art. It seems that, although this is not currently shown in my practice, what I am really concerned with personally is mortality. I think it is important to realise and come to terms with our own mortality in order to live more fulfilled lives, and I believe that the excessive technological culture that I live in distracts us from these realisations. In my work I want to attempt to capture moments of realisation – the moments where we really realise the futility of life and the unavoidably empty endings we all face. These moments, although surrounded by mundanity, can transform our perception of the world where the problems we face one day seem ridiculous the next as we slowly transform from one mind-set to another.

As the Internet is a big part of this study, I felt that it was most appropriate for me to develop the idea of a vlog parody. I started by editing this in many different ways; having audio layered over one another into a building repetitive rhythm, layering particular moments over each other to create strange movements and sounds and also choosing moments within the 22 minute video to leave in whilst cutting the rest out but leaving the footage the same length. I found the negative space that was created by using this last technique interesting, as I thought about how viewers would interact with this work when it was displayed in a space. Initially it may seem that the TV is just blank, or not working but strange snippets of noise would jump into the space – creating confusion until the viewer happens to see and hear the video at the same time.

I began experimenting with this use of negative space in the video much more until I eventually came up with a mathematical way of editing that left the content that was seen up to chance. I have realised that this is a recurring theme in my work, as I always feel much more comfortable leaving decisions about aesthetics up to chance, in this way the work can relate to the random nature of the world in a more organic way.

The moments of action in this edit were mostly one second in their duration; not allowing the viewer anytime to grasp what is really going on, which I feel reflects the abstract way that humans have to get to grips with this existence. The cuts in-between these moments varied mathematically, for instance the first second of action came in at 1.00 minute into the footage, the second at 0.57 the third at 0.54 etc. Until it gets into the very middle of the video the cuts are very spread out, with most of the video consisting of complete nothingness.

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second performance film still

To contrast and also support this nihilism in the work I filmed another performance. This time I turned the ‘LSTV’ painting around so the strange textures underneath could be seen, covered my face in white paint and rocked back and forth chanting ‘We’re all going to die’ whilst continuing to rub paint over the rest of my body. This was a performance that I had not really planned but instead felt quite compelled to make one day when I got home and realized no one else was in. Whilst recording I felt almost out of my body due to the repetitive nature of the performance and there was certainly a disconnection between what I was saying and doing and what I really felt at the time.

In the final edit of this experiment I cut this footage into the climax of the cuts, editing at a 10th of a second in-between clips. Without the black space between clips this gave the impression that the different audios and performances were happening simultaneously, and through this strangeness, for the first time the words and actions were able to be understood with an almost clarity.

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Editing construction

Because this video is attempting to deal with the concept of the 2D digital world affecting this 3D reality I decided to try and integrate this into the presentation of the work. Instead of having this video put onto the show reel I decided to show it on a bulky monitor on a plinth that was at such a height that the together with the TV it would come to my height. In some ways this made the piece more of a self-portrait than was intended. Because of the amount of time that the video is just blank, the TV set unintentionally became a mirror due to its reflective screen and ergonomic height. Before viewers had heard anything come from the TV set, this is what initially drew them towards it, creating a reflection of the narcissism that happens within the footage, but still I would rather viewers were reflecting on my work rather than themselves aesthetically.

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Reflection in monitor

To show the physicality of the digital dimension creeping into the 3rd dimension I decided to paint both plinth and TV set. I gave both layers of white and on top recreated the pattern of the canvas used as the backdrop for the vlog performance. Repeating this painting process really bored me, I did not measure it out properly and was not as particular with the dots as I was before – this meant I created many more mistakes and by the time I was half way through painting the plinth I felt so frustrated that I gave up and started painting at random. On the TV this process was a little more controlled but I still gave both monitor and plinth another layer of white to conceal the mistakes and textures made underneath – but I did not want to get rid of them completely, this layer felt like an important part of the work but in hindsight it was unnecessary. This use of white paint covering up imperfections underneath is something that is also echoed in the content of the video with the performance of covering my face and body with white paint, I only really half understand the significance of this right now and I feel like it has something to do with the nihilism that I am clearly interested in.

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Installation view

I would say that this piece has been unsuccessful, but despite this I am still (if not more) excited about the concepts that are emerging in my work. On reflecting on my work in the crit exhibition I have realized that there are far too many contrasts in this work. Firstly, the contrast between the 2D and the 3D which I attempted to make by painting the plinth and TV to reflect the setting of the footage. Secondly, the contrast between ‘nothing’ and ‘something’ – having the long tedious pauses in between flashes of incomprehensible speech or action. Thirdly there is the contrast between the two different performances, where I attempted to subvert the narcissistic mundane with a personal and real realization about mortality which creates an absurdity in the work. I feel that I need to really think about these contrasts and what is actually relevant for what I am trying to do with my work as currently it feels over crowded with ideas.

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Installation view

In crit feedback I have been told that this piece is too confusing. There were questions about why objects had been painted and what the content of the video itself was and I felt that I had to do much too explaining for this piece to have been a success. There is obviously a tendency to become bored with looking at a black screen whilst waiting for something to happen, and even if this may be integral to the ideas I am trying to get across about what we watch online it is not engaging for the viewers, and therefore it fails. I was told that it felt as though the work was giving significance to banality, which I feel demonstrates how confusing the work has become as my aim is to give significance to moments of enlightenment and almost mock the comfort we feel in life’s mundanity.

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Installation view

I have been told that I need to deal with my material and subject in a more direct way, I should think about appropriating existing YouTube vlogs rather than just creating more. Or even, to become more understanding of this subject begin dressing up and performing scripts of some of these vlogs, trying to imitate them completely. From writing down this reflection I have realized that I know what my work is about, but I am just not communicating it effectively. The lack of artists and theory’s that I feel I could link to my work or talk about in conjunction to my work shows that this is an area that I need to focus on now to hopefully create more accessible work that viewers can relate to directly, without confusion.

Post-painting

From painting the canvases for ‘Loading…’ and ‘LSTV’ I had marked a table in my house and whilst scraping it off I began making patterns and working around the different textures that I had unknowingly made. The table was covered in paint quite thick and it was possible to see the imprint of the canvas between the table and the paint, creating a piece that documents the evidence of a performance. If I ever find myself painting another large scale canvas in this repetitive process I will paint a board white to use underneath to capture these accidental marks as I was upset that I could not keep the outcomes of this piece.

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Acrylic paint on vinyl table

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Detail

I used some of my close up photographs of this removal process and the textures left behind by the paintings as backgrounds for new paintings. I experimented with painting over these colourful compositions with white to create new spaces and forms, and to possibly use for the background for line drawings. As pieces on their own I think the use of white is quite interesting for disguising or neutralizing a space, I also experimented with painting AstroTurf white in an attempt at disguising it’s materiality.

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Acrylic paint on A4 ink jet print

Scraping the paint of became easier as lumps of it formed on the sponge I was using, this created very small formations of flaky dried paint. After seeing Tetsumi Kudo’s work at Hauser & Wirth I played around with using AstroTurf as a backdrop to these abstract forms. I noticed that close up they looked like moss or even lichen, and the AstroTurf composition encouraged this comparison.

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Paint form

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Experiment on AstroTurf

Using a macro lens I photographed these forms, cropping them to look much larger than they really are. Blowing these up and printing them on A3 I arranged the images on the wall next to the paint forms. This felt quite resolved in some ways as the comparison between the 2D image that shows the details of the object in comparison to the very delicate form next to it demonstrates the objectivity of the camera. The photograph gives aesthetic insight into the object but does not give us the rational information about its size. I found this comparison visually quite successful here even though this feels rather too polite but still this piece too thinks about the natural and artificial in a new way.

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Macro experiment

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2D and 3D display

I have noticed that in a lot of my work I tend to try and use all outcomes of a process, the marks that are made elsewhere as a by product of making something always seem to interest me, and I often cannot see them as separate from the intended piece of work.

Canvas experiments

Reflecting on my piece for the last crit show I decided to experiment with the possibilities of the large scale canvas that was a part of ‘LSTV’. My first instinct was to stretch it onto a conventional frame that would be 5 x 1.8 metres in scale, but after seeing Avis Newman’s paintings in the Tate, which have been decisively hung directly on the wall, I decided it was more interesting to hang the canvas in this way. This mode of display helped liberate the canvas as it was no longer restricted to the conventions of a frame. The accidents and imperfections of my printing had much more focus here than when the canvas was stretched around the 3D installation of ‘LSTV’, allowing it to be read in the context of painting rather than an object. This flat experiment also reflects the Photoshop plan I had to make of this canvas before actually printing it, creating a dialogue between the technological and the man made when these two images are shown next to one another. Visually this also allowed the viewer to focus on the pattern of the painting, allowing for some interpretation of forms within the repetitive pattern. Looking at the MoMa’s show ‘Forever now’ has helped me think a lot about painting as it exists now in the post-internet art world, and how to use painting to further that discussion.

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I also experimented with trying to turn it into a more organic sculpture. As this canvas has not been primed it still folds but is affected by the circles of dried paint and the scale of it creates an intrusive mass. The natural folds of this unidentifiable sculpture contrasts the formulaic way that it was made, but makes it impossible to work out as a painting and becomes more about the physical materiality of the canvas rather than its history and context.

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After being told in a crit that this canvas felt like a ‘internet backdrop’ I started thinking about using this as a performance backdrop. My initial experiments with this consisted of me dressed in all black moving back and forth in the space in different ways. After watching Godfrey Reggio’s ‘Naqoquatsi’ I experimented with editing this footage in repetitive ways in an attempt to create seemingly ever-lasting moments using a loop. Experimenting with perspective I chose to show the video at a different angle to the way it was filmed in, so it may appear that the video is being filmed from below or above, exposing the flaws of 3-dimensional turning into 2-dimensional.

Using myself as the subject of a performance led me to look more into Internet culture, in particular Youtube, where the ‘vlogger’ trend is still at large. I began thinking about the idea of the ‘online persona’ and how we can now crop and edit our lives into deceptive settings. I attempted a parody at a regular Youtube vlog trend ‘What’s in my bag’. Usually in these videos the vlogger will pull an array of sponsored products out of an endorsed handbag brand over the course of a 20 minute video. My own video was 22 minutes in duration, and watching it back I noticed a change in front of the camera from beginning to end. At first I felt awkward in front of the camera and it took me a few tries to start, but by the end I was talking in a lot of depth about each of the items in my bag. In some ways this them transformed into a performance about my own narcissism.

I edited this initially by speeding up the whole video and isolating individual moments that I found funny where I had become very comfortable in front of the camera. In feedback from this piece I was told that one of the interesting parts of this editing choice was that I had left in parts that showed me as human, where usually these would be the parts that would be edited out. To develop this idea of the Internet persona I posted this online on a separate YouTube channel. Creating the YouTube channel ‘flamby’ I attempted to set up a new online personality for myself.

As an experiment I found this process embarrassing, after sharing it on Facebook I became self conscious and deleted the link after half an hour. Even though this video did not reveal what was in my bag or anything really about my personal life I still felt exposed. Potentially I would like to develop this vlog idea further and may experiment with creating more generic vlogs to build up this online persona I could create for myself.

 

‘Loading…’ – For Gustav Metsger’s ‘Remember Nature’

After the October crit exhibition I had the opportunity to be directly involved with Gustav Metzger’s recent project ‘Remember Nature’. As I felt that my last piece did not focus on the natural or the political as much as I’d like my work to, this was the perfect opportunity to introduce these very important themes back into my work. Attempting to use paint in a more conventional way, I painted a leaf in my chosen colour palette of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow to create a contrast between natural tones and
artificially mass produced colour.

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Acrylic painting

Using Photoshop I made a short animation with this painting that imitated a conventional buffering symbol. I experimented showing this on a monitor and thought it would be interesting if the viewer had to see this looped animation at close proximity, reflecting the way that we interact with screens everyday.

Like my previous piece ‘LSTV’, I painted a canvas to conceal the monitor, this time experimenting with using block colour. This decision was made after many different composition experiments and then reflection on Aldous Huxley’s study that “bright, pure colours are characteristic of the other world.” Again this forced viewers to look into the piece through a small hole cut into the canvas, but unlike ‘LSTV’ this hole was much more obvious.

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Final composition plan

This piece aimed to glorify the buffering symbol whilst also demonstrating time wasted on staring at screens. I think in some ways this did come across but here I feel that the canvas was rather unnecessary and was only included because of my previous work. Possibly showing this on a more appropriate screen would have been more successful instead of concealing it as I preferred the canvas as a piece on its own.

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Installation view

Artist statement

I am a multimedia, process led artist based in Farnham, Surrey. My work focuses on the relationship between man and nature in the technological western world, which I explore through photography, installation, performance, print, film, assemblage and painting. My practice is informed by artists such as; Martin Creed, Olafur Eliasson, David Shrigley, Ai Weiwei, Godfrey Reggio, Gustav Metsger and John Cage.

Drawing on influences from Roland Barthes’ ‘Mythologies’ alongside Aldous Huxley’s ‘Doors of Perception’ my practice thinks about the subliminal human experience within the complex mundane of the contemporary world.

I am interested in how we deal with the existential in the post Internet now where a multitude of ever expanding distractions help us to forget about our own mortality. This interest in Internet culture provokes attempts at humour and parody in my practice in a way that aims to understand man’s relationship with the absurdity of Western reality.

This contrast between the constructed virtual world and our own internal realities often forces me to leave stains and accidents in my works in order to expose the flaws of this chance based reality. Maths forms a basis for many of my works, as often the aesthetics of process led and repetitive work is left to chance.

My work aims to interactively relate to audiences who feel just as confused with the absurdity and constant contradictions of the modern world as I do. Through my practice I aim to provoke questions about the way we live in a post Internet society, analysing our subversive relationship with the real and unreal in an ‘atemporal’ world where all times now exist at once.

Oscan Murillo, ‘binary function’ at David Zwirner Gallery 10.10.15 – 20.11.25

Having only graduated from his MA at the Royal College of London in 2012 Oscar Murillo already has an impressive international presence in the art world. Since graduating three years ago he has had work shown at the Saatchi, been included in the MoMA’s ‘Forever now’ show earlier this year and now he has his first solo show ‘binary function’ at David Zwirner’s London Gallery.

tea, HSBC, (grill?), 2013-2015

tea, HSBC, (grill?), 2013-2015

This exhibition is dominated by painting, but not in any conventional sense. Most paintings in this exhibition defy predictable painting methods with many canvases made from what the viewer can imagine is multiple paintings, cut and then sewn together to make whole collaged canvases. Although the materiality of canvas can be seen throughout the exhibition, this show is not exclusive to painting but also incorporates drawing, print, sound, sculpture, installation and film as an example of Murillo’s diverse practice.

L-R: catalyst #3, 2015, material alignment #18, 2013-2015,100% vita, 2014-2015, catalyst, 2015

L-R: catalyst #3, 2015, material alignment #18, 2013-2015,100% vita, 2014-2015, catalyst, 2015

In the opening room of the exhibition viewers will find 4 unusual canvases displayed at such close proximity to one another that from afar one might think they were a whole, but each canvas is named individually creating a universal language between techniques and materiality. Around the corner is a new video installation of Murillo’s where the audience is invited to sit in a mis-match of plastic garden chairs to watch footage of what appears to be a street party. These seats are replications of those seen in the footage, creating a physical connection between viewer and the people that are far away in the time and place that this video captures. The audio of this installation varies between on site sounds and compositional music that changes the dynamic and narration of the piece as it alternates between the two. This audio permeates throughout the whole exhibition extending the narrative to the right now of the exhibition space.

meet me! Mr. Superman, 2013-2015

meet me! Mr. Superman, 2013-2015

On the first floor viewers will be hit with the strong smell of paint and the sight of multiple black canvases that are hung, piled and strewn around the space. Again these canvases use Murillo’s signature technique of being sewn together on a large scale, allowing viewers to appreciate the grand scale of their production. Viewers are forced to walk over these black paintings, creating delicate outlines of their dusty footprints on the black fabric. This interaction creates an unusual relationship between the work and viewer as our physical presence marks and develops the patchwork fabric pieces that are reminiscent of the works displayed on the walls in front of us.

First floor installation view

First floor installation view

In this exhibition Murillo merges the boundaries between painting, sculpture and installation. The curation of this show creates a tension between the intentional and the accident, as both are included on par with one another. Murillo’s works have a sense of ‘more’ beyond them, demonstrated directly in the way he crops and sews canvases, Murillo denies us of viewing all of one but instead a part of many, challenging the viewer with this inclusive/exclusive painting stlye.

Tetsumi Kudo at Hauser & Wirth 22.09.15 – 21.11.15

Walking along the sophisticated streets of Saville Row where humanity hurries from one grey interior to the next, one does not expect to walk through the doors of Hauser & Wirth for their eyes to be transformed into those of a child. The vivid green that curator Oliver Renaud Clément has used to backdrop the most recent show of Tetsumi Kudo’s work, turns the conventional white gallery space into one big installation, merging all pieces together into a playground of diverse colour and absurdity.

Installation view

Installation view

This AstroTurf installation evokes the desire to interact, all Kudo’s works in this exhibition are so physical and playful in their execution it is hard to resist the urge to touch and play in this space. These feelings are very much internalised by the static silence of the transformed gallery, forcing quiet contemplation of the works whilst suppressing the urge to gallop and giggle. This is quite relevant as Kudo’s work focuses on these tensions created between nature and the man made. The melting plastic flowers in his artificial gardens signify the artists realisation that “with the pollution of nature comes the decomposition of humanity” whilst simultaneously talking about humanity’s morphing relationship with technology and mass production.

Human Bonsai - Freedom of Deformity - Deformity of Freedom 1979

Human Bonsai – Freedom of Deformity – Deformity of Freedom 1979

There are several sections in this exhibition, from these free standing gardens where man made materials morph to create rows of bonsai trees mixed with phallic forms, to Perspex structures that home artificial eco systems, and oversized dice that contain melting parts of humanity. Each series presented here imagines a post-apocalyptic world where a nuclear attack has cultivated an unrecognisably synthetic nature caused by humanity’s negligence.

Cultivation of Nature & People Who Are Looking at It, 1970-1971

Cultivation of Nature & People Who Are Looking at It, 1970-1971

Kudo’s use of boxes demonstrates the way we live our contemporary lives, how we rely on architectural interiors that simultaneously protect and trap us. In these interiors we stare at electronic boxes that transport us into artificial worlds of colour that help us to forget the reality of nature, much like the way that this exhibition lets us forget about the cold streets and suits just beyond the windows of Hauser & Wirth. Kudo’s regular use of dice presents natural systems of chance but contrasted with the artificial colours used to realise these boxes we may begin to think about the absurdity of humanity’s ever growing fixation with dominating chance in order to adapt nature to benefit our own unforgiving agendas.

Garden of the Metamorphosis in the Space Capsule, 1968

Garden of the Metamorphosis in the Space Capsule, 1968

Growing up in post-war Japan Kudo understood the brutal reality of humanity’s conceivable evil, and later moving to Paris he was struck by Europe’s ‘’Individualist outlook and eager adoption of mass production.” Ultimately this show of Kudo’s political but still highly aesthetic work, although made 50-40 years ago, seems even more relevant today. In this contemporary society even more dominated by technology then it was in Kudo’s time this exhibition gives space to reflect on our own claustrophobic lives where we naïvely believe we can survive inside these aesthetic simulated worlds that we hold on to so tightly.