A reflection on the development of my ideas and work since September

Since my presentation of ‘POLITICALLY EMOTIONAL/EMOTIONALLY POLITICAL’ at the Flying Dutchman at the end of September my work has evolved greatly. Since finishing David Abram’s book ‘The Spell of the Sensuous’ I had to re consider the function of using written language in my work. This is because in this text Abram looks at the way in which the phonetic alphabet has developed from symbols within the landscape (the foot prints of animals, the sun and moon) into the symbols which I write with now that bare little resemblance to the natural world. Abram also speaks of the ways in which written language is problematic because when we are reading we are less aware of our surroundings. This concern stems from the fact that stories from that oral cultures that Abram has studied are so deeply tied to the land, the setting is an active participant in the story rather than a back drop on which human intervention plays out, that once it is written and distributed it looses all meaning, and the narrative can no longer adapt and evolve as it has been doing for its entire existence. Upon understanding this I felt it was important to abandon the presentation of written work and make work that was the total opposite, as it is the frustration of our disconnection from the natural landscape that I know is sitting at the core of my work and Abram describes the phonetic alphabet as one of the reasons for the breakdown of this relationship to be possible.

p1160925
POLITICALLY EMOTIONAL/EMOTIONALLY POLITICAL’ installation at The Flying Dutchman’

This is how I developed the soundtrack for ‘WE FEEL’, I took the words from ‘POLITICALLY EMOTIONAL/EMOTIONALLY POLITICAL’ and I read each letter out phonetically. I chose to speed this up a little before it came into the work in order to make sure that it sounded as un human as possible, this also changed the pitch so that the voice sounded like a child’s, which added a dimension of innocence and fragility to the work. The video aspect of this work was developed from a video that I came across a while ago, it is the first clip included in the final version, and now I feel that the lightening strike serves also as a kind of light bulb moment of realisation for the work. The other clips included were found by searching for specific things like ‘flock of birds’ etc. But what I was looking for in each video was not necessarily an ‘epic’ unfolding of nature but most importantly it was about how the human cameraman reacted to this phenomena. This was important to demonstrate my view that we have become so distanced from the natural world.

All of these natural phenomena that happen we previously had a spiritual connection to, through the experience of unusual phenomena we would feel that the earth is communicating with us. But, we can’t comprehend these things through quiet contemplation or even visceral, tangible experience anymore; instead we take out our smart phones (which are so incredibly unlike anything from the natural world one can easily forget that their components ever came from the ground at all) and record these phenomena, creating a barrier between the event and ourselves. I find this problematic because I think that this act of recording such things makes it impossible for us to be ‘in’ the event, we become only passive spectators. I think these recordings of natural spectacles also make us feel like we are able to control them in some ways too. Online I often see posts/videos/images that make a mockery out of nature, which for me demonstrates this disconnection to the highest degree. There are so many things that our ancestors had to learn about this earth for us to be where we are today, but because of the diminishing amount of time we spend in contact with the non man made world daily, we see unusual or incomprehensible natural occurrences as irrelevant, useless or even a source of comedy.

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-00-27-08-copy
Screen shot example

This all stems from man’s feeling of dominance over the natural world, and I believe that this comes from scientific knowledge. This is something that I have been discussing for a long time, as I believe that we rely so heavily on the way of scientifically looking at nature that we forget and reject to experience it emotionally. We trust science as a complete truth, exactly as religious faiths treat their scriptures as the absolute truth, but in my opinion science is only one means of looking at the world. For example, in September I went up into the rolling landscape of Farnham Park in the middle of the night because there was a very dramatic thunderstorm playing out without any rain. I stood vulnerably in the flat landscape until the adrenaline became too much and I had to retreat to the shelter of the trees. With every crack of thunder my heart leapt into my mouth and with every flash of lightning the landscape around me was exposed in such intricate detail. My senses were running wild, I felt so much fear and freedom simultaneously, there was no guarantee that I was safe, there was no height or medical restrictions to this experience, I was experiencing the forces of this wild and beautiful planet completely. Although before this experience I was scientifically aware of what causes a lightening storm, the molecules rubbing together, the combination between cool and warm air etc. none of that mattered when I was stood in that field with my senses ignited by the world. I couldn’t help thinking about what relationship our ancestors would have had with such an overwhelming event, because when we lived closely with the land and didn’t have our concrete homes to protect us, a storm like this would have been impossible to ignore as we can now. Of course I think it is incredible that we can find out such incredibly detailed information, but I believe that the analytical and calculable ways that we present these studies devalues all of the mystery and magic of these sensuous events.

It is this removal of mystery that is perhaps my biggest concern with our faith in science. Because we feel that there is already a proven and exact answer for everything, we no longer question things in any other form. I guess what this is coming down to is the perspective that science is a new form of religion, which paralyses us to understand or think about the world emotionally, or in any other way. These ideas are all heavily rooted in Abram’s Spell of the Sensuous, near the end of the book Abram notes

‘A civilisation that relentlessly destroys the living land it inhabits is not well acquainted with truth, regardless of how many supposed facts it has amassed regarding the calculable properties of its world.’

This destruction of the world though our ill informed decisions is what really terrifies me about our relationship to nature. It is at this point where my work goes from personal observations and emotions to the global and political. I believe that this disembodiment from our place in nature has created a huge shift in our political values. Especially in recent global developments, like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, where we can see the effect of the screen on peoples inability to think rationally and emotionally about the planet as a whole. Here I believe it is important to think about the effect of memes on the American election, this is something that I aim to explore in my work before I am able to write about it. But what I can deduct from these events is that economics and comedy is at the centre to our beliefs and political passion, instead of our relationship to each other as natural evolutions of this earth.

I think it would actually be beneficial for me to start looking at the Gothic literature I have studied previously, because of its documentation of the shift in society from religion to science. From what I remember of reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, there is a lot of iconography of man turning into God with the birth of science, and the fear of the natural world presented again with the symbol of lightning. In Macbeth as well I remember the subversions of the natural order that effect fatal endings for the characters. This period of literature coincides with the scientific developments happening in England during and after the Industrial revolution, so I think it would be really beneficial for me to study these texts again in this context, to see how increased scientific knowledge and security effected societies relationship with the natural world. In my opinion the gothic is still explored in popular culture today, especially in films such as Ex-Machina (Alex Garland, 2015) and TV shows such as Black Mirror (Charlie Brooker, 2013-2016).

frankenstein
Still from a film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’

I think it is important to note here that these ideas of human dominance over the natural world, and the way in which we have made ourselves ‘above’ nature with our tools and buildings etc. was considered in the presentation of ‘WE FEEL’. After seeing the Infinite Mix exhibition I was keen to attempt to create a similar space that would allow viewers to have this fully immersive experience. I then had this idea to install the screen so that the audience would have to look up, in order to change their relationship with viewing digital work. Because the work so closely mimics YouTube compilation videos I really felt that I needed the presentation of it to push it out of this binge watching material and raise it onto a more valuable level. The way in which the viewer has to lie underneath the screen, surrounded by the laughter, confusion and awe of the camera men and women from these samples of found footage and my hypnotic hum of phonetic language, also creates the impression that these natural phenomena are physically beyond us. Perhaps this is not so correct because I believe actually that they are apart and equal to us, but because of our current state of dominance over the entire natural landscape I think it is important to create experiences that remind an audience that we are inferior to these natural phenomena, but we have found ways to protect our inferiority through our social and physical architectures. In the critical feedback to this work I was told that this installation made it much more difficult to view the work and perhaps distracted from the content of the videos. So instead of focusing on creating installations I should let the videos do the work for me, but it was a beneficial experience to consider how the work was to be shown on such an ambitious level.

tumblr_ogn70j8nq21u89wiqo5_540-2
‘WE FEEL’ Installation

I have maybe two or three more videos I am in the process of making that are similar in style and content. One is specifically of natural disasters, studying the way in which everything is filmed, even when we are in danger and how people go into these perilous situations just to acquire the footage for their YouTube channels. The second explores the relationship between humans and animals, looking at how animals interact with human built technologies and how the captivity of zoos turns animals into a spectacle for human consumption. Another video idea that I have been thinking about looks at children’s reality TV shows I watched whilst growing up such as Raven and Jungle Run, which show young children facing fictional dilemmas in fabricated surroundings. I think this is interesting to look at as it shows the diminishing amount of time we spend outside as kids (for me watching TV and for the children taking part in the TV shows themselves), and the way in which the natural world becomes only a backdrop or a set design for these false narratives to unfold. The education of children is also something that I think about a lot in the context of my work because I think it is hugely problematic how the school system of academic curriculum functions. I feel in many ways that this system of testing and grading is only a judgement of how suitable a child is for economically valuable industries, and does not actually challenge anything about a child’s emotional intelligence. This system often leaves many children feeling stupid and unable to contribute to society, causing them to grow up following a strict set of rules, get a job, get a mortgage, a home, marriage, children, pension that only aids the system that has repressed them. Education at primary level effects how we go on to view and experience the world, so this is something very fragile that I currently feel is problematic and poorly handled.

mqdefault
Still from CITV show ‘Jungle Run’

I have also been finding ways to make my archive of screen shots exterior to my computer. This is an archive which I have naturally accumulated over the past year or so, where I screen shot anything I come across on the Internet that I find particularly weird or that demonstrates the beliefs I have about societies disembodiment from sensuous experience. An example of this is the screen shot included below. This is a still image from a compilation video I found of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. This is the way in which the maker of the compilation video decided to transition between the clips, which reflects the accessible technology of basic editing software’s such as iMovie, but more importantly presents a disconnection, lack of empathy and understanding of the events taking place in the footage. I have been printing these small and strange images off and have worked with finding compositions in the physical world. I found a teletubbies table cloth which I have been working with as it reflects my interest in children’s TV and it depicts a ‘natural landscape’ that has been cartoon-ised and made idyllic. I also include images that I have taken with an iPod and some of the shopping lists from my ‘lost lists’ archive as examples of things I have found out in the world to contrast against these digital symbols. It has also been important for me to include image of political figures that usually hide behind some of the more humorous images as a symbol of how we are distracted from the problems we should be focused on, the pleasurable abilities of the Internet immobilise us from productive political activism that was rife in the 60’s. I am now going to experiment with these compositions on a smaller scale that mimic the size of screens that we commonly interact with. I also want to experiment with finding ways to put finished compositions on light boxes, so they become illuminated in the same way that mimics the screen, but they are handmade, static and physical. This will resemble the format of illuminated advertising spaces that we see at bus stops and other public spaces, as I feel that as the Internet continues to develop it is becoming less useful for it’s users and more useful as an advertising space. This technique is used by Cedric Christie in his Icons series that explores the relationship between artists and branding.

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-16-34-01
Still from ‘Nepal Earthquake 2015’ compilation video
tumblr_ogn75zkozm1u89wiqo3_500
Recent experiments with tangible digital collage ideas
7779166_orig
Installation of Cedric Christie’s ‘Icons’ series 

I am also doing experiments with Siri where I speak to it in ways that allow me to uncover the algorithms that create it. This was inspired by Steve Cottingham’s ‘Conversations with Eliza’ (2011) as I am interested to perform the same sort of experiment but with an algorithm that we use for daily, mundane tasks. Siri is also not capable of holding lines of conversation so I am aware that I will not be able to have a conversation quite as long, but I do not intend to ask Siri about myself or about art instead I intent to ask Siri about Siri. This idea also came to me after seeing Alicja Kwade’s use of Siri to read out genesis in her resent commission at the Whitechapel. In particular I am interested in asking Siri existential questions, as the way that Siri is programmed to deal with these questions is often comedic, which I find as problematic as the way in which the Internet deals with actual problems through meme’s. I am not sure exactly where this work is going but I hope that it will be used as the soundtrack for a future video or perhaps this could be a sound piece all on it’s own.

After all of the documentary work that I have found of particular interest recently, in particular the work and style of Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Rachel Rose, I have thought about making experimenting myself with this form. In particular I am interested in looking more at the Voyager Golden Records, and possibly using the images and sounds that are included on them to analyse the way in which we have chosen to present civilisation and create a self portrait of the earth. In the style of Rachel Rose’s ‘Everything and more’ I also want to include interviews with Ann Druyan whose brainwaves were included on the disc, as this demonstrates the enormous responsibility of representing our entire civilisation:

“I entered a laboratory at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and was hooked up to a computer that turned all the data from my brain and heart into sound. I had a one-hour mental itinerary of the information I wished to convey. I began by thinking about the history of Earth and the life it sustains. To the best of my abilities I tried to think something of the history of ideas and human social organization. I thought about the predicament that our civilization finds itself in and about the violence and poverty that make this planet a hell for so many of its inhabitants. Toward the end I permitted myself a personal statement of what it was like to fall in love.”

This is a huge subject to tackle and I don’t want to rush into the idea so I will continue to research this subject with the aim to make the documentary only when I feel that I have enough recourses to do so.

tumblr_nxocwrznhg1t5fphqo6_540
15 of the 116 images included on the Voyager Golden records

Reflection of ‘POLITICALLY EMOTIONAL/EMOTIONALLY POLITICAL’ and ‘No Ordinary Disruption’ at The Flying Dutchman, London

Having found myself consistently writing during the summer months I started to disregard images and objects and found it increasingly difficult to think about the possibilities of making. This led me to my recent experiment ‘POLITICALLY EMOTIONAL/EMOTIONALLY POLITICAL’, which was born out of anxiety about making work for a show I was in from 26 -29 September; ‘No Ordinary Disruption’. The making of this work was spontaneous and my only aim was to get across my dissatisfaction with the art world, but the writing took on a life of its own as I kept adding more and more thoughts to the word document. I left the text mainly unedited as I feel that it is within this honesty that the strength of the work manifests itself. I did re-structure the ‘stanzas’ in a way that makes the first half politically engaged and the second half is focused on the emotions and the body. To present this work to an audience I screen recorded myself scrolling down the word document with the down arrow key and a metronome to guide me.

This was displayed on a small screen at the exhibition, and I made the decision to place it half way up an unused stairway within the gallery space. My aim was to create an intimate space between the viewer and the work and this stairwell was completely without light and narrow, meaning only one person could go up to view the screen at once. I felt really nervous about this piece before showing it as I know that a lot of the writing is very naïve and quite pathetic, but it was this sort of ‘teenage rant’ that I felt everyone could relate to. It was good to get this work out into the world quickly, but I think the screen was much too small and the format possibly difficult to access. In feedback from my peers and tutors I was told that the simplicity of black text on a white background was successful because it did not let the mind get distracted from the imagery in the writing. I personally think that the scroll through the text works because it conceals how long the text might be, something that would put a potential viewer off, but a screen of capital letters seems to be easy for most to digest for a couple of minutes. Ultimately I have been told I need to aim much bigger, in the next week I plan to create a multi projection installation to immerse the viewers in my writing and I also plan to work with vinyl and graffiti.

p116092514292366_1272130742821419_7599272020226153612_n

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.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 18.11.52
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.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 18.21.53
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.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 18.34.40
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.

DSCN3185.JPG
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.

DSCN3190
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.

DSCN3192
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.

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.

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. 

Image