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.

Spirograph with different layers and mistake
Spirograph wheel 65 incomplete
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.

Spirographs in clashing colours
Spirograph experiments with different layers

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.