Blind drawings

I was concerned that my final film, which will be all of my experimentations with kaleidoscopes and maggots, would not completely portray my ideas about different perspectives from people living in different mental states. I started experimenting with ‘blind drawings’ after initially doing some in my smaller sketchbook, as I thought this may be a relevant piece of work to include in my installation space as I felt that these blind drawings where a literal representations of how everyday things can be perceived differently with a disability, as the outcomes of these experiments where completely different to what would have been produced if I had been looking at the paper aswell as the subject. Because I was focusing only on my subject and avoiding looking at the paper the outcomes of using this technique where completely unrefined, and therefore showed my most basic translation of how I perceive things onto paper. I experimented with this technique at first in only black pen, I then went on to experiment with it on bits of rubbish as I felt this would represent the ‘horrible feelings’ in my mind, just as Martin Creed does in his film ‘sick and shit.’ I felt though, that my most successful development of this technique was when I began doing the drawings in different colours, this made it easier for the viewer to identify each drawings, whereas before they overlapped and combined with one another. Using different colours helps to guide the viewer through the drawings so that they can identify each individually, I felt that this was most relevant for my project as it showed multiple versions of one subject, drawn from different perspectives, but each perspective can be seen and appreciated wholly because they are easily differentiated due to the different colours. Although it could be argued that there is no real skill to these drawings I am pleased with the way that they came out completely unidentifiable from the subjects they were drawn from as they successfully show how our perspective can be altered to make the most simple things seem completely different, when living with a disability.

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Example of blind drawing from my sketchbook

Show set up ideas

The original presentation for my final piece has changed a lot due to space restrictions. In my sketchbook I explored 3 different ways that my final piece could be presented, in the first I imagined that there were no restrictions to the space I could use, the second I imagined that there was very little space to present my work and in the third I found a way to incorporate both into a reasonable space. The third idea is the one I carried on to develop for the final show, and consisted of a small triangular space that would allow me to create a claustrophobic but comfortable space by placing it in darkness but setting up the installation space with homely furniture to lull the audience into a false sense of security by trying to create a universally familiar setting. Initially I had designed it so that it would be in complete darkness with the TV facing the corner of the room so that only one person could physically see my piece at once. Unfortunately the design of my final set up changed because of the space restrictions which forced me to turn my set design around so that the TV and cupboard where in the corner of the space, this means that more than one person is now able to view the piece at once, as any passer by that walks by will be able to see it easily.

 

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Current exhibition set up.

This was disappointing for me because I felt that by making the space so small it would control the foot fall and limit it to one person at a time, and I felt that by having only one person viewing the footage at once it would make for a more intimate experience for the viewer and would be more overwhelming than viewing it openly in the exhibition space. I also planned for there to be a curtain around my piece to cut it off from the exhibition, this was largely so that no light would creep into my installation space, but also because I wanted to have this contrast between the light of the rest of the exhibition and the darkness of my corner which is literally tucked away as I felt that this physically describes my day to day experience, where I am prepared to hide myself away in a dark corner than be apart of the class that I was in. Unfortunately my piece will no longer be in darkness, as instead of a curtain I will now have a single board separating my work from the rest of the exhibition. This means that the piece will be in the same amount of light as the rest of the show which is a shame because it weakens the comparison of my installation to the rest of the exhibition, which I think is one of my most successful ways of showing how mental illnesses work when in a social situation, as this is a physical representation of how people tend to lock themselves away into a dark, horrible space. In this sense the darkness is a metaphor for the effect that mental illness has on the brain and the TV is the effect that these feelings have on our mind, and is a representation of the horrible imagery that these feelings can create, in this sense the maggot footage is a metaphor to thoughts of suicide and self-harm. I chose to present all 5 versions of the kaleidoscope footage instead of only one because this shows how differently one single situation can be interpreted by different people. I felt it was important to include the original footage as well, not only to signify the fact that 1 in 5 adults suffer from depression at some point in their lives, but also as a comparison between the edited footage and the original, to concisely show the different perspectives. The original footage stands for the way that I perceive everyday situations, whereas the kaleidoscope versions not only show how differently something so simple can be perceived but show how anti depressants work and also show how I believe other people manage with everyday situations, as I believe that they do not see the horrible things I see, but instead manage to take these horrible things and perceive them as something beautiful and worth watching. Although these changes have been made to my exhibition space, I still think that this is an effective way of displaying my piece. Although it is no longer in complete darkness, I feel that the layout of my final piece will cause awkward encounters within my installation space as people will go into it and not realise that someone is already sitting in the seat and I also feel that people sitting in the seat will feel uncomfortable as they will be conscious of people being able to see them interacting with the art. The board cutting my piece off from the rest of the exhibition will be used to display other peoples work on so I feel that anyone in my exhibition space will be conscious of strangers standing behind them and talking too.I also considered putting some of my blind drawings around my installation as I felt that these tied all the ideas that I have about perspective and disabilities together. I found it hard to document my experimentation throughout the project as the most crucial development was done on computers so I had to take a lot of screen shots of my work to put in my sketchbook but felt that it did not look like traditional development and experimentation. This was also difficult when developing more complex techniques in the film editing software I was using as I found there was no way of showing the technical skills I had used apart from using screen shots on my computer to show what I had done, but I do not feel that this evidence of my development does justice to the work that I did. Ultimately I hope, despite the changes to my installation space that my final piece will cause the audience confusion at seeing something classically grotesque displayed in a way that makes it seem beautiful, and I hope that the final set up is well thought out enough to create feelings of anxiety and discomfort in the viewer as ultimately this will be them physically experiencing what I, along with many others, experience everyday. 

Don’t hug me I’m scared analysis

Although this may be more of a viral entertainment video rather than an ‘art’ piece I feel that themes within this still apply to my project because of the way I feel it creates anxiety and disgust in the viewer. In the first couple of minutes we are introduced to child friendly characters singing a song about creativity within a setting of bright, simplistic colours and up lifting but slightly annoying audio. Once the characters begin to ‘get creative’ the audio fastens with the pace of the change in shots and action. The audio suddenly becomes very messy with some instruments overtaking others and strange noises changing the tone of the video. This is where the video becomes really unsettling, the characters go from being puppets to strange animations which pixelate and blur, this is the turning point where the intentions behind the video transform. The first gruesome thing we see is a really quick shot of a heart against a bright yellow background that we have seen prior to this shot with glitter spread over it, but the shot is so fleeting that initially you don’t notice it as it is so unexpected. The weather changes from blue skies to thunderous clouds which is a very basic way of using pathetic fallacy but still effectively prepares us for the strange turn the video is about to embark on. From this point the video becomes unbearably strange, especially with the contrast of bright colours and raw meat becoming quite distressing comparatively. The video finishes with the original audio so that everything is seemingly back to normal. Although this is effective because it allows us to compare the surrealism of the video to the calm ending I think it would have been more effective not to conclude the video as therefore there would have been no satisfying cathartic release in the viewer, thus creating anxiety. After watching this video several times I have noticed that there are several examples of foreshadowing in the first couple of minutes indicating the gruesome ending. An example of this is the rather long shot of the kitchen knives, which in hindsight is very out of place for a kid friendly video. I also think the line in the song “listen to the voices in your brain” is quite disturbing when you think about it in the context of the rest of the video, although it fits in perfectly with the pentameter of the song, when looked at on its own implies an idea of mental illness, in particular schizophrenia, which one could argue is what the whole video is about because of the way the mood of it changes so dramatically in such a small space of time. Another thing that I feel is important to my project is the way things are concealed and revealed throughout the creativity sequence. For example at one point we see one of the characters placing the letter ‘D’ on an orange background, but as this is placed amid several other shots we as an audience don’t give it a second thought until it cuts back to it with the word ‘death’ spelt out and we then realise the true intention of the ‘creativity’. I thought this was really interesting technique that I could work with using film to deceive my own audience.

‘Making toast’ – initial film experiment.

After doing some research on Mark Wallinger I found my self particularly inspired by his film piece ‘Angel’, a clip of which can be seen here. In this clip you can see that the footage has been reversed, but it takes a while to tell because the main focus of the footages composition is Wallinger who appears to be talking to the camera. Once you start to notice how the people in the background on the escalators are acting in very strange ways you come to the realisation that Wallinger is actually the one acting in reverse, but because of the way the footage has been edited it appears that he is acting normally. This created huge confusion in me as a viewer, as you naturally tend to focus on the foreground it is assumed that there is nothing unusual about the film, but when you realise that you have been deceived you begin questioning every other aspect of the film itself, creating tension and anxiety in the audience as well as shock and confusion. This technique had the exact effect on me that I wanted to create in my own audience, so I then decided to create my own film using this technique to try and create an optical illusion with film. I wanted to use it in the context of an everyday situation to show how people with a mental illness perceive normal everyday life so I started planning the footage around making a cup of tea but then realised that when pouring liquid it would flow backwards and give the whole set up away. I then thought that it maybe interesting to film something just as trivial and have something else, for example running water, at the end to indicate to the audience that the whole clip has actually been in reverse. I then decided that I would simply film myself making a slice of toast but without adding any spreads like butter or jam or cutting it in half as these are things that can’t be undone and would have to be done at the beginning of the footage. Planning this was very difficult and I had to make several lists working out how it would be filmed and then how the audience would see it when the footage was reversed. I found that there where a lot of complications to this process as I started thinking about the logistics of it such as how the toast will appear not toasted before it goes into the toaster and how I am going to get the toaster to ‘pop’ up. In my first experimentation with this technique I ran the tap at the end of the clip to show the water running backward to give away the fact it is reversed footage, but in practice this did not work as I had planned as you couldn’t really see the water running. So in a later experiment I poured juice in the foreground of the shot, which worked much more successfully. After being cut this clip came to just over a minute long, which I was pleased with as this makes it more accessible to an audience and more likely that they will watch the whole thing. This also allows enough time to build up tension within the experiment, especially when very little action is happening whilst I am waiting for the bread to finish toasting, which is relieved in the last few moments when the juice behaves in a way that defies nature. Although I had to overcome many complications I feel that the final outcome of this experimentation was successful as ultimately this is meant to be about how everyday life and routines can be perceived as confusing and hard to comprehend when lying in bed facing a mental health issue that complicates simple tasks, which I feel is the same experience we get from this film clip.

Frustrated drawings

As a starting point for this project I have been trying to do as much drawing as possible, although this is not something I like to do often as I personally feel my ‘artistic flair’ comes mainly from my concepts and ideas rather than from technical skill of putting pen (or pencil, paint brush or whatever your preferred medium is) to paper (or canvas, ceramics, wall etc.). Whilst becoming increasingly stressed and frustrated whilst experimenting with the Spirograph process I started thinking about making art under certain mental states. Inspired by Tracey Emin’s book ‘One Thousand Drawings’ I began keeping my own visual diary which I drew in every time I felt I needed to get something out, the result of this created rushed drawings that where full of emotion. One night I found myself feeling rather sad and frustrated about things, and instead of following through with my normal routine of self abuse I picked up a paintbrush, found some ink and began making marks on a page in my sketch book rather than on my skin. The results are far from perfect and I found that the more mistakes I made the more frustrated and angry with myself I became. I think the outcomes of these drawings are interesting to analyse though as I can see that I have a subconscious need for repetition to calm myself down. This mimics what I have often been told to do when I find myself on the verge of panic, where I repeat ‘blue bananas’ to myself until I finally find the situation manageable and usually quite amusing. I feel that from this subconscious experiment I have found that repetition is a form of ‘cure’ (at least a temporary one) to feelings of depression and anxiety, but on the other hand I can see that repetition can also be overwhelming depending on how it is used, so therefore I may try experimenting with using repetition both to calm and overwhelm my audience later on in my project to contrast this idea of ‘pain and sleep’ and show how the link together.

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Frustrated drawings outcome, each on an A4 page.

 

Spirograph experiments.

As I wrote about in my first post on this project, I started off attempting to make something visually confusing by using a Vaseline tin and a marker pen to create overlapping circular forms. I found that this technique was ruined by human error so I felt that it would be worth investing in a Spirograph set in order to make hand drawn but automated experiments much quicker. I started my experimentation by trying out each individual Spirograph in the set at each individual stage on A1 sheets to help me get used to the process and also for referencing so that I could see what Spirograph wheel would be suitable for the outcome I desired. So with this as a reference point I began experimenting with different ways of using the Spirographs, layering different wheels and using different colours. I feel that my most successful experimentations were those with wheel number 65 because the lines are much tighter than others creating a more confusing visual effect, which becomes more interesting when used with more than one colour. I also like the experimentations where the Spirograph is not completed entirely as this created a sense of 3D space in a 2D form. I feel that this concept could be key to my project as I read in the book ‘optical illusions and the visual arts’ about how we enjoy being visually deceived and I feel that I can do this by creating 3D space in a 2D format by not completing the Spirographs whereas the completed examples are too aesthetically pleasing to look at because of the symmetry within them. So possibly in further experimentations I should look at other ways that I can make the Spirographs unsatisfying, this could be done by missing out lines or using horribly clashing colours as I want to create a sense of frustration in the audience by seeing something incomplete and therefore taking away the catharsis of seeing a Spirograph in its complete form. I found this process very frustrating at times because despite it being an automated way of drawing, error was still common as the main template wheel would often shift if too much pressure was placed upon it, making lines spiral out of control and ruining the outcome.

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Spirograph with different layers and mistake
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Spirograph wheel 65 incomplete
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Spirograph wheel 65 with different colours

When this happens it is impossible to continue with the drawing as the exact same set up cannot be restored because of the nature of the Spirograph. This got me thinking about how I could portray my own frustrations at the process through the outcome I choose to show to the audience. Firstly I thought that I should display only Spirograph outcomes where something had gone wrong, so the audience never gets to look at a complete drawing. Better than this I thought that filming myself whilst drawing the Spirographs would create much more tension for the audience, as they would go through the process with me and anticipate the ending of the drawing as well as the tension and frustration I am feeling throughout. I feel that this could be a really effective way of physically showing the audience how someone with a mental illness can feel on a day-to-day basis, an experience of frustration and anxiety, which dips up and down with the footage so I hope to experiment with this at some point in my project.

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Spirographs in clashing colours
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Spirograph experiments with different layers

‘Pain’ Project Final outcome

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For this project I initially started off trying to create visually painful imagery by dripping water onto water soluble ink in an attempt to create an optical illusion like effect. I felt that it would be more effective if I created a piece that the audience would physically react to rather than attempt to create a piece that they would emotionally react to. I realised this was a much more sustainable idea from reading the introduction to the book; ‘Enduring Creation’ where they compared classic Gothic literature to modern day Hollywood horror films. This comparison talked about how we are no longer scared of Gothic novels because they are set in a fantasy world, whereas these horror films are set in modern day American suburbia and it is the realism and possibility of them actually happening to us that evokes fear. So this led me to think about how I could make everyday objects painful to look at. My research on Tracey Emin, Olafur Eliasson and colour psychology all helped my project develop in a completely different direction to where I thought it would go originally. After reflecting on this research I decided I wanted my project to help me deal with my own emotions in a constructive way, I felt that the key to doing this effectively would be through colour and when I found out in my research of colour psychology that yellow in large amounts can bring on feelings of anxiety and depression this changed the whole outcome of my final piece.  After some development of ideas in my journals I decided that I would create an everyday table setting that all viewers could relate to and recognise. I wanted to use a normal everyday setting in order to portray the fact that everyday routines and situations can be difficult or even traumatic for people with anxiety or depression, and this fitted in nicely with what I had found out about the colour so I then thought it would be appropriate for me to paint an entire table setting in bright yellow acrylic. The paint job on this was not perfect, as when I moved the objects to different locations some of them stuck together so taking them apart would remove some of the paint, and I had to do a layer of white first on any transparent objects such as glasses making the paint inconsistent in some areas. I also looked at Raphael Hefti’s work who turns glass into coloured filters that change the way the viewer perceives the colour of the objects behind them. This inspired me to make my own filter by printing black onto acetate, this was meant to physically embody the anxiety and depression that my piece is about, as I feel that most viewers will see the table setting and think it is about happiness and vibrancy whereas when they look through the filter and the setting is obscured by darkness they will understand the actual meaning of the piece. By doing this I am trying to change the viewers relationship with colour, I am using this filter as a translator to the audience, to raise awareness of how someone with anxiety or depression perceives everyday life. There is also another concept in here where I am trying to get the point across that although someone may seem happy aesthetically, if you were to look a little deeper you may find a much darker side to them. Over all I am pleased with the outcome of this project, I have found that I have learnt a lot about the importance of in depth research to make a successfully conceptual piece of work, and this self managed project has given me a little more confidence for part 3 of my course.

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