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
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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. 

Maggots and food experimentation and problem solving

During my project I have been keeping a smaller sketchbook inspired by Tracey Emin’s book ‘One Thousand Drawings’ where I forced myself to draw memories as quickly as possible in order to keep them unrefined and raw. When flicking through this sketchbook for inspiration I came across a drawing that included the sentence: ‘THERE ARE MAGGOTS IN MY BRAIN/ EVERY TIME I THINK OF FOOD/ I AM ROTTING AWAY.’ This led me to start filming with maggots, as well as inspiration from the boat scene in ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory’ where we see a centipede crawling over a mans face, which is something I found particularly disturbing. Inspired by the fluid scene changes in ‘Enter the Void’ and the constant use of zooming in and out, I decided to try and make short piece of footage which zoomed into something pleasant and then zoomed out of something that looked similar but was actually maggots. I wanted to do this with food because the idea of having maggots in my mouth makes me feel physically sick and can completely put me off food, which I think will be the same with the majority of people. So I set up a plate of spaghetti bolognaise and zoomed into it so that the shot was completely obscured, and the set up spaghetti in the same bowl at the same angle but instead of bolognaise I seasoned the spaghetti with maggots and took several shots zooming out of this set up. I then used Adobe Premiere pro to put these two shots together, the problem I faced with this was that the bolognaise was much darker than the maggots when both shots where completely zoomed in. This caused problems for me because when I put both of the clips next to each other on the timeline, when watching it through, it went from the brown hues of the Bolognese to a flash oh white, which made it obvious that the clips had been cut and changed. This was a problem because to make this footage work the two clips needed to integrate seamlessly so that the audience would assume that the clip was about to zoom out again onto the bolognaise, so that the juxtaposition of the maggots was much more shocking. I tried many different ways of solving this, firstly I tried re filming the zoomed in bolognaise shot to see if I could focus the camera on spaghetti instead to make the change seem less obvious, this still didn’t work because there was still an obvious change of shots when watching it back through. Next I tried turning the opacity of the bolognaise shot down at the end and at the beginning of the zooming out footage of the maggots on the spaghetti so that the footage would go completely dark when the shots where changing. Although this got rid of the flashing problem between the two scenes, this made the audience suspect that there was going to be a change of footage as it seemed like a proper cut, whereas I wanted the audience to be constantly looking at the texture and assuming the shot was staying the same. Next I tried using the ‘change to colour’ tool to try and get the bright whites in the second shot to match the colours in the first, but this only made the second clip go a strange colour and took it further away from merging fluidly with the first shot. I then watched a Youtube tutorial which showed me how to overlap films, so I turned down the opacity where the clips would overlap and then merged them together by placing one over the other. This worked perfectly and I finally had the outcome that I was aiming for, as the two clips merged fluidly so to an unsuspecting eye it does not seem that the footage is changing at all. This clip is to show the different perspectives of someone living with a mental illness and someone who is not, as it is meant to demonstrate how everyday situations such as sitting at a table to eat a meal can be a struggle for people who suffer from a mental illness.

Enter the void analysis

This film had an interesting plot, but it is more the bizarre visuals, use of perspective and unique camera angles that inspired me most. In particular the cuts that Noe uses throughout the film, which transports the audience via light display or what appears to be Tokyo’s electric system to the next scene instead of blacking in and out. I think if I do experimenting with making films with multiple cuts I should find more interesting ways of linking shots that will add to the viewers anticipation and anxiety. One change of scene that I thought was particularly well done takes place when we are following the backs of the two main characters who are on a rollercoaster, as an audience we get the sensation of being hurtled forward by the ride with all the noises and lights that you would expect to hear and see flashing past you. Once the rollercoaster goes into a tunnel the fairground audio fades slightly and we begin to see a light that we assume to be the end of the tunnel, but as we get closer we realize that it is actually an oncoming car and we are moving at full speed towards it, all of a sudden we find ourselves in the midst of a fatal car crash. The way in which the camera is continuously moving forward at such high speed until this point is effectively what makes this transition so smooth and shocking, helped by the way in which Noe has chosen very similar colour palettes for both scenes. This idea of transforming something pleasant to something disturbing very quickly is something I’d like to experiment with as I think this use of shock would be an effective way of creating anxiety in my audience. Another transition technique that I want to experiment with which takes place when the two main characters are talking and the camera blurs slightly and when the camera restores focus the female lead is carrying on the exact same dialogue and stood in the exact same position with the same costume but the rest of their surroundings have changed. As this is from the lead males memory we can interpret that this is him being unclear about the location of the memory, but I think that this technique of setting up to similar shots but with changes that confuse you as to what you where expecting to see. The hallucinogenic sequences that Noe also chose in transitions between shots were also something that I’d like to experiment with, possibly in a kaleidoscope format but with everyday objects to reiterate the idea that everyday situations, however familiar can seem scary and confusing from the perspective of someone living with a mental illness. Another technique I felt was worth noting was used in the beginning of the film when we are in the perspective of the male lead in such a literal sense that we even experience his blinks. In an article I read in the guardian, the writer described how as he was watching this part he noticed that his blinks where in the same rhythm as the characters. This idea of being able to physically effect the viewer by influencing their basic human need to blink is something I’d love to be able to recreate, as it shows the complete subconscious control that a mental illness can have which turns into a physical action (in this case the viewers blinking, in the metaphoric sense self harm or loosing motivation).

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

Presenting written word within Art, a look at Plath, Emin and Gibson.

In my recent work I have found it of particular importance to include my own written word within my art in order to fully represent thoughts that I feel cannot be refined into imagery. As I aim to include some of my own poetry in my work I looked at how different practitioners have previously presented thier written work to a wider audience. Starting with Sylvia Plath who’s poetry can be found in books such as ‘Ariel’ which I was able to take out of the library this week. Although it is undeniable that Plath’s written word is nothing less than extraordinary in the way that she executes her pain through a 2D medium, I felt that often her writing is so obscure that it was almost impossible to access the whole emotion of the poetry without having to do further research to understand them fully. Obviously this is because of the sophistication and complexity of her poetry because it is so perfectly formed, but I want the written word in my work to be painfully blunt, left raw and unrefined so that anyone who reads it is hit with the honest brutality of it.

This is similar to how Tracey Emin occasionally presents her written word in her monoprints, occasionally including a single line from a longer piece of written text in a print accompanied by illustrations.  I think these drawings are vital for obscure text, for example her monoprint that reads: ‘I need art like I need god’ is completely changed by the inclusion of a nude woman at the bottom of the page with her arm outstretched, changing from a statement about faith to a desperate plea concerning addiction and vulnerability. When reading a book on Emin this week I came across a printed version of ‘why I never became a dancer’ which I had previously read in Emin ‘ s book ‘One thousand drawings’ where it was written in Emin’s handwriting. I found this handwritten version much more interactive because I felt that it conveyed much more of the writers emotion. I 

think this may be because the process of typing this confessional style of writing, I feel, makes it seem refined in a way, it gets rid of the visable hurry of the original text, where it seems that the writer has tried to scrawl the emotion out of her without having time to regret publicising such a personal event.

 

Another practitioner I decided to look at because of the way they approach the presentation of written word was Andrea Gibson, whose poetry books are often accompanied by an audio version. Although this completely takes away the visual aspect of written word it instantly makes it more personal and intimate for the audience because Gibson is able to express emotions and emohasise words as she intends us to read them. I found this approach the most effective of all the examples that I looked at, being able to put my headphones on and have the writer read poetry to me describing very personal experiences from their past made a most intimate and impacting experience that I do not feel can be created when onky being able to read written text. So I think that if I am to include my own poetry in this project I will do it through the medium of audio.

 

I have started thinking about how I could start doing this within my work,  and this week, after doing some really in depth research into Emin’s practice and I realised that the reason why her work is so shocking is because her audience is so huge, whereas my own work is only going to be seen by a very small ammount of people in comparison so I thought it may be relevant to findways of exploiting myself to the public. I thought I could do this by disguising my phone number as something that people would actually call (possibly offering a servuce such as a sex chat line) and then when I get a caller I would instead read my poetry to them. A very inyimate experience where words I have slaved over but never spoken out loaud are suddenly thrust into the grasp of a stranger. This is to represent the idea thatby putting my personal details about myself into the public sphere and having random members of the public call me they are probing into my personal space and I shall comoly by revealing my most personal thoughts and feelings.

Martin Creed – What’s the point of it? Exhibition review.

This week I was fortunate enough to go to the Martin Creed exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London. I have never known much about this artist previously but had been told to give it ago because his work was similar to the kind of thing I want to be doing in my final major project, I agree as I was surprised at how well this exhibition happened to fit in with my own project. It seems that Martin Creed too aims to create pieces of art which create extreme reactions in the viewer whether it be disgust, fear, anxiety or even relief. As soon as I entered the exhibition space I became completely overwhelmed, before being able to even look at any of the work my access to the gallery space was obstructed by a sofa which had been placed just in front of the entrance so that you had to focus on awkwardly getting around it before being able to think about the rest of the work. Once you get your bearings you are instantly disorientated again by a compulsive ticking noise, which you later find to be thirty-nine metronomes, and at the same time you are also aware that there is a large steel bar travelling towards you at a very threatening speed, the natural reaction is to duck, even through practically you know that there is no chance it could actually hit you. It takes a few minutes before you can truly begin to look at the work, it actually took me a while to notice that the big spinning piece of metal actually carried the word ‘MOTHERS’ in big neon lighting. The effect that this opening room had on me is exactly what I want to try and do to the audience of my work in this project, I also aim to completely disorientate those viewing my work to create a sense of anxiety and unease. 

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Opening room to Martin Creed’s exhibition at the Hayward Gallery ‘What’s the point of it?’

I was particularly intrigued at Creed’s use of audio throughout the exhibition as this is something that I have not seen used much and definitely something I had never considered using before, as I found it was a really effective way of confusing the senses of the audience. A perfect example of this was in the second room of the exhibition where there was a lone speaker sitting in the corner with no apparent visual work connected to it which was repetitively playing an audio of someone blowing a raspberry. This was seen by many of the spectators that I observed as quite amusing as it a sound that is usually associated with childish behaviour, but this got me thinking about how I could use taboo sounds in my own work to make people feel uncomfortable such as recordings of people having sex or blowing their nose or even farting. The other piece of audio used in this room was produced using a piano. Instructions are a big part of Creed’s work, and over the shoulder of the security guard turned musician instructions on how to play the piano that went as follows:

“Play all the notes on the keyboard – the full chromatic scale – going up from bottom to top.

Rest for the same amount of time that it took to play all the notes.

Play all the notes – the full chromatic scale – going down from top to bottom.

Rest again – as above.

Repeat endlessly.”

I find this idea of rules and regulations to create formulaic art really interesting even though it may not apply to my current work. This piece confused me, as it made me question, what part of the formula is the actual art product? Is it the piano, the audio, the instructions or the player? Or is Creed trying to highlight the fact that nowadays artists are not always the creators of their own art but set out instructions for other people to complete to create it after they have come up with the concept.

This concept was also displayed in his broccoli prints where Creed used the same process a thousand times but changed variables to the formula to create a thousand different results. From afar the result was repetitive but on closer inspection you notice that each print has produced a unique outcome. The combination of these prints shown side by side on one wall is rather overwhelming and I feel that this use of repetition on such a large scale is something I should consider experimenting with in my own work.

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‘Work No. 100 Broccoli prints’ Martin Creed (2009-2010)

Another process that Creed uses that I felt was of importance to my own work was his pieces where he has covered the whole piece of paper with markings from a felt tip or marker pen as I found that the results were so strange and unusual yet completely unexplainable as to why they are so interesting. I think it may be because of the way we traditionally expect a pen of such nature to be used, and the places where one line stops and overlaps half way through the page with another is visually confusing especially when this is repeated with all the lines on the page in different places. I found it even more visually confusing when the lines weren’t completely straight as it created obscured textures and shapes. I experimented with this technique but tried creating shapes and even images by changing the darkness of the line by going over it. This was quite an obscure process to use but I liked the outcome because it was a totally new way of making imagery with a marker pen than I would have ever thought of.

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Example of Martin Creed’s wok with marker pens from his 21 part series ‘Work No.944’ (2008)
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My own experimentation with Creed’s marker pen work

A large part of Creed’s concept behind his work is the idea of making decision but choosing all options instead of either, and the anxiety we face in making choices. As my current project is based around myself I think this is an important concept that I could consider working with as I am currently faced with the decision of what university I want to go to next year, but unfortunately choosing both is not actually an option for me. These pieces such as; ‘Work No. 990 Curtains’ And ‘Work No. 227 The lights going on and off’ where he uses automated signals to open and close the curtains and the lights to turn on for 30 seconds and then turn off. When I was in the gallery I interpreted this as the artist choosing what we did and did not see. These pieces also give the audience a sense of disorientation and then relief, as one does not appreciate the light until it is turned off or the view until the curtain is drawn, but once the light is turned on again or the curtain is open a sense of normality is restored but we are in a state of anxious anticipation for the cycle to repeat.

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‘Work No. 990 Curtains opening and closing.’ Martin Creed (2009)

A piece that the exact concept of my project I am working on currently was ‘Work No. 1820 – light bulbs and fixtures.’ This was situated at the top of the stairs so as a viewer you did not seeing coming before you were face to face with it because of the form of the staircase. This piece was too physically painful to look at directly as it had several light bulbs of all different forms all too bright to look at and the effect was so overwhelming that the viewers had to hold a hand in front of their faces to shield themselves from the intrusion of light to their senses. It is this that I want to create in my own work, something that is too visually distressing to look at straight away, an instant reaction is created, to look away and protect your vision.

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‘Work N0. 1820 – lights and fixtures’ Martin Creed

The exhibitions biggest selling point was ‘Work No. 200’ or more commonly known as ‘The Balloon room’ which consisted of a room with half the air filled with balloons. This was by far the most interactive piece of art I have ever experienced. Whether the viewer finds it humorous or overwhelmingly claustrophobic, each individual has to cope with how close the art is in proximity to them as the nature of this piece completely invades your personal space, therefore giving the viewer an experience whether they like it or not. Personally I really enjoyed being completely submerged in the balloons and wandering around with no knowledge of the shape or even the size of the room I was in, my perception of where I was and my bearings, was completely over thrown without a clue where the exit was and it is this confusion in the audience that I aim to create in my own work for this project.

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‘Work No. 200 – Half the air in a given space’ Martin Creed (1998)

Creed’s film work is also something that has given me a lot to reflect on. His films ‘Ships coming in’ were very relaxing to watch, a strange game of spot the difference where both screens are unbearably similar, showing the repetitive nature of life itself. The only reason I felt any unease at all was because I had to stand for an unknown duration of time as in theory both videos could have gone on for any duration of time, whereas in the last room of the exhibition scenes were being shown from Creed’s ‘Sick and Shit’ and there was a bench in front of the screen inviting me to sit down in front of the screen in comfort. I think this contrast is really interesting as it was almost embarrassing to be seen watching these videos of peoples bodily functions let alone be seen sitting down comfortably in front of them for an extended period of time. This has given me ideas for creating an installation film piece that is uncomfortable to watch and placing a comfortable chair in front of it and instructing that only one person should go in at a time to watch it, making it a much more intimate and intense experience for the viewer. I find the contents of these videos, as is hardly surprising, disgusting but interesting in their concept, as Creed uses them to visually show ‘horrible feelings’ which we can’t physically capture. As in my own work where I have tried to describe feelings of anxiety or depression there has been no way I have thought of to visually show these feelings visually but by creating videos of horrible things that everyone can relate to Creed has captured this perfectly. This piece especially caused huge reactions in the audience where viewers were both humoured and revolted, I myself felt nauseous when watching the videos of people throwing up but it is this kind of feeling that I hope to produce in my audience.

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‘Work No. 405 – Ships coming in’ Martin Creed (2005)
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‘Work No. 610 – sick film’ Martin Creed (2006)

Ultimately I found this to be a wonderful, interactive exhibition and I thoroughly enjoyed every experience that I took away from it and would encourage anyone and everyone to go along to see it. I hope I will be able to use this experience as inspiration in this project to create emotionally effective work.

 

First week of Final Major Project – Ideas

I have two ideas for my final major project, the first is titled; ‘Newspaper’. This idea is inspired by my visual communication project which I completed in part one of my foundation course. I felt particularly driven by this week long project as we were told to buy a newspaper and find one article which we would then base the rest of the week producing work from. I found a trivial article titled ’10 things not to say to pregnant women’, and it struck me when looking through the paper how many of the articles were just filler. Developing this idea for my final project I thought about how it could be interpreted that these entertaining articles are here to distract us from important things that are actually going on in the world. So for this project concept I would be trying to uncover these untold stories, but at the same time contrasting them with the filler articles I found in newspapers each week. To do this I would have to conduct interviews with people who may have faced injustice at some point in their lives, so possibly having to visit old peoples homes and soup kitchens. As I have never conducted an interview before I would have to practice this technique so that I could get something of use from the actual interviews I conducted, as well as practicing with recording the interviews digitally, in notes and taking photographic portraits of the subject that some how held relevance to their story. For this project I would be looking at artists such as Ai Weiwei and the photo journalist Kevin Carter. Of particular importance to this project would be Ai’s work on the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, as not only did he make two pieces inspired by the untold stories, the first being ‘Remembering’ where he used 7,000 different coloured backpacks to spell out a quote from one of the school children’s bereaved mothers on a large scale, and ‘Straight’ which was a landscape constructed using the metal poles that crumbled in the school.

‘Remembering’ 2009

‘Straight’ 2008-2012

He also conducted a project to find out the names of the school children that died in the poorly constructed schools at the time of the earth quake, which is a list that the Chinese government never released. It is this concept of unveiling the truths that we remain oblivious to because the media is not thrusting it into our faces as it does with celebrity gossip that I would want to focus on in this project. This project idea has also been inspired by the book ‘Nineteen Seventy-four’ by George Orwell, as the concept of the government covering up certain truths and trying to minimize the way in which we think explored here could be really interesting to the development of this project. 

My second idea goes by the title ‘Pain and Sleep’, which is a more in depth version of my latest project where I experimented with colour psychology. I plan to continue this process in the project, but also combine it with optical illusions and 3D structures and possibly even film in order to create painful aesthetics which physically repel the viewer, or cause some physical reaction. This title was inspired by the quote; ‘My only relief is to sleep. When I’m sleeping, I’m not sad, I’m not angry, I’m not lonely, I’m nothing.’ from Jillian Medoff’s ‘Hunger Point.’ I feel that this quote explains the idea of pain and escapism that I plan to study throughout this project, possibly contrasting the idea of sleep with painful imagery. My aim in this project is to visually confuse the viewer, not only is it about trying to translate the way that someone with mental illness may see day to day life, it is also trying to get a reaction from the viewer as I feel that we are at a stage in art where we can no longer be shocked by art emotionally. For this project I am going to look more in depth at Tracey Emin’s work, as her piece ‘My Bed’ is of particular importance to this project as it combines both of the juxtaposing ideas of sleep and pain in one installation

‘My Bed’ 1998

I also think it will be beneficial for me to look at this artist because of the way in which she incorporates written work into her art, as I would like to include some of my own poetry through this project to portray the idea of both sleep and pain. To help inspire my poetry I shall also be doing reading on Sylvia Plath and Andrea Gibson. Plath is important for me to look at not only because of her talents as a writer but also because she suffered from Bipolar Disorder and I think it is important for me to do research on artists and practitioners who suffered from mental illnesses. I feel that Gibson is also important for me to look at because of the way she presents her work mostly through performance and audio, which I find much more engaging than simply reading her poetry which could be an interesting process for me to experiment with. When at the Tate Modern in London I came across Chen Zhen’s piece ‘Cocon du vide’ which is what inspired me to think about using 3D as a format to making optical illusions as I feel this could be even more effective than working within 2D limitations.

‘Cocon du vide’ 2000

This second project is the one I have decided to pursue, although at the moment it seems rather broad I plan to narrow it down through experimentation and the process of elimination. I feel that I am much more passionate about this second idea as it is something that is much closer to home and I feel will keep me more motivated than my other project idea. Although I have not fully finalised my idea I have started off making some simple optical illusions, this one was done on A3 using a black water soluble pen and a Vaseline tin for a template. Hopefully after some more in depth research on optical illusions I will be able to structure something that is a little more painful on the eyes as although this was quite confusing and painful to concentrate on a long period of time while making I feel that the final outcome is something that is actually quite aesthetically pleasing because of it’s simple symmetry. 

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‘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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