Recent work in progress

At the moment I am working on several different experiments. Using one of Zoella’s ‘What’s in my Handbag?’ vlogs I am working through the technique that Lenka Clayton uses in ‘Qaeda Quality Question Quickly Quickly Quiet’. I don’t plan this to be a piece as clearly this is literally copying Claydon’s idea but instead I see this as a task that will develop my ideas and my editing skills. In feedback from the crit exhibition I was told I needed to start working with the material I am commenting on in a more direct way so this is an attempt to start doing that. Using Claydon’s technique heightens the importance of what Zoella is saying in her videos (looking at the public analytics of this video on Youtube I have found that it has a total viewing time of 48 YEARS, which demonstrates how widespread this information is).


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/85120585″>Qaeda, quality, question, quickly, quickly quiet</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user11733176″>Lenka Clayton</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

To make this re edit of the video I have already had to watch it multiple times despite only being on the letter E, so not only is trying to cut the exact moment she says ‘a’ or ‘and’ frustrating but also watching the same thing over and over again. This experiment also focuses on language in a way that I have never explored before but am very interested in. Language is something that I feel we take for granted all the time in society but talking to each other and expressing ourselves through language is the only way we can evoke real change in society. I feel that language in its every day use is mistreated, we don’t take advantage of this fantastic mode of communication, instead we often waste it on bitching and moaning (which builds up human relationships but after these relationships are built moaning should be abolished).

This realisation led me to start recording myself whilst walking places on my own. I have got into the habit of recording myself speaking into a microphone that I disguise as a phone. I record myself saying out loud the thoughts in my head, the things I observe as I am walking, what I have observed that day and my after thoughts of these events and what I am doing later or just how I feel. I thought that maybe by getting all these things out I would maybe then have more time when I got to my destination to talk about real things to people, to use the power of communication more effectively. I guess what I am trying to work out is if I get out all the bitching and the mundanity in my own head then I would not need to talk about it to other people.

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Emma Hart installation view ‘Big Mouth’

This experiment was inspired by Emma Hart, in particular a piece that she had in a recent exhibition ‘Big mouth’ where she had a radio playing out clips of her talking to herself. I found this piece to be funny but also really touching as I really gained an understanding of this artist even though I have no idea what she looks like etc. In this way I got to know the artist much more that a painted self-portrait. I have also been inspired by the work of Alison L. Wade, in particular her work with voice mail machines. In an interview I read with Wade she talked about how, if a voicemail machine has more than 10 messages left on it you can begin to build up an image of the person without ever hearing anything from their perspective. For years I have been collecting shopping lists which do a similar thing, so possibly now is the time to start incorporating that into my work.

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Alison L. Wade ‘Beep’

I have experimented pairing these audio recordings with webcam videos of me in the evenings sitting at my computer editing, showing the mundanity and boredom that I feel surrounds my life at the moment. This is neither interesting to watch or listen to and I am not sure where this is going but I am enjoying doing it. I am worried that it is more narcissistic and self confessional than I wanted it to be. I tried playing one of the voice recordings to a close friend and actually found it too painfully embarrassing to sit through. This is interesting as everything I said in the recording I would say to my friend, but watching her listening to it knowing that I was talking to myself at the time made it really uncomfortable. I don’t think I would be able to display this as work. No one would care as it is me just sharing my human experience and also I would find it too embarrassing (also in a lot of the recordings I talk about my course and sometimes the people on it so that would just be a huge terrible mess really). This is more of a personal project that I hope will help me to make more expressive work, or at least help me realize what it is that I am actually trying to make work about as these are really stream of consciousness recordings.

The other thing I am working on at the moment is a painting as I recently learnt how to stretch a canvas and began thinking about what I wanted to paint on it one night. These thoughts turned into a crazy dream which led me to stand in front of the canvas the next day, paint brush in hand. I had no idea what I was aiming to paint but using a strict colour pallet of only, primary magenta, yellow and blue I began painting faces. These are not realistic faces but instead are made out of block colour that creates the forms that we can recognize as a face. These paintings are reminiscent of Picasso’s painting style along side many other expressionist painters which is interesting. There is no real substance to this painting, but again this is something that I really feel like I need to work through after using these paints in so many of my recent works.

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Canvas painting (detail)

I feel that these faces have come from an internal loneliness that I am experiencing at the moment. Again this is another process piece that is taking a long time to complete, and when I am painting I begin creating narratives for these anonymous portraits so in a way this is a real expression of myself at this time. There is clearly something about these colours that interest me as well, and I feel like this comes the plastic aesthetic of them. I have no idea how I will complete this painting but I am enjoying the process and the time it is taking.

All of the experiments I am currently working on are process based and time consuming which seems to be the basis of many of my works. Reading Seigfried Kracauer’s essay ‘Boredom’ recently has also encouraged me to fully express this in my work. Ultimately these experiments enforce the diversity of my practice and interests where I am working with, painting, colour, found footage and audio.

Post-painting

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

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Acrylic paint on vinyl table
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Detail

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

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Acrylic paint on A4 ink jet print

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

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Paint form
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Experiment on AstroTurf

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

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Macro experiment
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2D and 3D display

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

Canvas experiments

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Anj Smith; ‘Phosphor on the Palms’ at Hauser & Wirth 22.09.15 – 21.11.15

In terms of contemporary art, the exhibition “Phosphor on the Palms” is a rarity. Entering the white walls of Hauser & Wirth you will notice a certain emptiness that dominates the space. Naturally this pushes the viewer towards the small-scale oil paintings that are displayed systematically across the gallery space, letting us discover the infinity of detail and realist mysticism that awaits us there. This is Anj Smith’s biggest solo show to date with over 20 works made over the past three years.

Installation view
Installation view

Smith’s paintings guide the viewer along a path through the gallery space; each is hung at a perfect height for closer inspection. Within these compositions one can easily be transported into another dimension where every intricacy is executed in uncompromised perfection. Despite the beauty of overwhelming detail these paintings hold, they are just as undeniably nightmarish. With your back turned away from the center of the space your eyes flit from one piece to the next, and your feet can do nothing but follow.

Letters of the Unconcious
Letters of the Unconscious

Although visually similar, the themes that these paintings explore are extensive; using iconography Smith explores, fashion, nature, consumerism, gender, isolation and many more all in a dream like hyperrealism. In an exhibition as rare as this in it’s traditional craftsmanship, there is obviously a continued conversation about painting and technology. Smith has said herself “There’s something about painting now that, because we have so much technology, we don’t have an essential need for. I’m deciding to sit there for hours daily just to create one image.”

Faune
Faune

This is not done in vain. The works in this exhibition make the awe that was evoked by grand oil paintings in the past, comprehensible to contemporary audiences. Not only this, but unlike most contemporary painters Smith avoids expressing her relationship with reality in a visually abstract way. Instead, she takes abstract concepts and transforms them into magical realism. Smith does not attempt to simplify these abstractions but instead embraces them ‘in all their complexities’, in a way that allows the viewer to reflect on the truly absurd times we are living in.

Uncurtaining the Night
Uncurtaining the Night

These surreal landscapes and portraits do not only sit on the wall as a window into another world, but throughout the exhibition they gradually begin to permeate into the third dimension. Starting with ‘Uncurtaining the night’ a viewer with a keen eye will notice that very small reliefs of paint have been left to dry at the bottom of the composition, creating the physical texture of a forest floor. Smith’s painting seep more and more into the physical world until we are faced with ‘The excreted’, which is so small in scale and so heavily caked in paint that it barely functions as a physical painting and becomes almost fully sculptural.

The Excreted
The Excreted

This show is as diverse in its readings as you imagine it to be, there are monkeys crawling out of paintings along side sad, sunken eyes, scaled creatures and symbols of high fashion. No carefully composed image in this exhibition talks about the same subject as the last, each creates it’s own individual paradigm that parodies everyday consumer culture into alien landscapes, reflecting the multiple aspects of our ever-changing contemporary society.

‘LSTV’ and development of work from September – October

As an induction into my Second Year studio unit, in September we were given a project to respond to a piece of Art on display in London, in order to change our way of working whilst expanding our knowledge of artists. I was given Sigmar Polke’s ‘Untitled (Square 2)’, 2003, which is displayed at the Tate Modern in the room ‘Painting after technology’. Although I usually try to avoid looking at traditional methods of painting, within this composition I found an interest in the contrast between fluid and the static because of the layers of different painting technique. The free flowing paint caught under a systematically printed image, and the colour palette of this painting had a great affect on me, I found the metallic and yet dulled hues soothing and complimentary whilst simultaneously dark, generating a sense of mysticism.

Sigmar Polke, Untitled (Square 2) 2003

From my initial research I became interested in the philosophy of Metaphysics, as I found that in its theories it contains questions I have often asked myself. The basic questions of Metaphysics helped me form my first response to Polke’s work as they gave me a basic reason to make art. These questions are: 1. Ultimately what is there? 2. What is it like? To start generating work I tried to answer these questions visually. My initial response consisted of a black and white macro image of moss, enlarged onto 16 A4 pages. Onto this I projected colour footage of the moss and it’s surroundings. In this way I tried to answer the questions like this; 1. What is there? This piece of moss. 2. What is it like? It is green, growing in a wall, there are bushes growing above it etc. This idea of static and movement was clearly inspired by the layers in Polke’s painting, whilst still trying to visualize the merging of reality and then humans perception of reality. The projection onto the image made it difficult for either element can be understood at all but when they were separated they can both be seen clearly. I find this confusion caused by the layering of the objective and subjective over one another to be an interesting idea – is it impossible for human’s to objectively observe the world around us because we are a part of it?

Initial response to Polke and Metaphysics research
Initial response to Polke and Metaphysics research

I then went on to look at the works of Gustav Metzger, Stan Brakhage, Len Lye and Oskar Fishinger. The contrast between the technological and the organic is what drew me towards Metzger’s work, in particular ‘Liquid Crystal Environment’ (1965/2005). The way his work naturally transforms over the duration of it is display is something that I feel is central to my own way of making work. Not only is his work transformative, but also it is politically engaged and deals with the environmental whilst being extremely physical in its presence.

Gustav Metzger, Liquid Crystal Environments, 1965/2005

Research into Stan Brakhage led me to experiment with out of date film, making gifs with a Nishika camera, creating multiple still images into ‘moving moments’ of distorted colour. I also experimented with digitally manipulating photographs damaged by a broken camera, transforming the colours and visibility within the composition.

Stan Brakhage, Film from ‘Mothlight’, 1963
Nishika gif experiemnts with expired film
Nishika gif experiemnts with expired film

Play with colour and animation led me to look at Len Lye’s films. I was instantly immersed in Lye’s use of repetition and bright block colours. This interest then led me to ‘An Optical poem’ by Oskar Fishinger. The circular forms pulsating and transforming took me out of reality for a few minutes, absorbed me into the screen on which I watched it, creating a mental transgression into the bright and infinite technological world.

Photo manipulation from damaged film
Photo manipulation from damaged film

Len Lye, Rainbow Dance [still], 1936
The colour and forms in these animations and the influence of Polke led me to experiments with paintings. I generated these by making multiple backgrounds at once and then creating layers of varying colour palates and textures on top. After all the layers had dried I would attempt to make sense of the free flowing paint with ink drawings on top. From this I found a colour palette that I wanted to work with; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. This started off as a visual interest and then transformed into a conceptual process. Using the acrylic versions of the printer inks to talk about tensions between technology and painting.

Paint experiments with colour, composition and texture
Paint experiments with colour, composition and texture

I was then recommended to look into the MoMA’s 2015 exhibition ‘Forever Now’. This introduced me to the term ‘Atemporal’ which describes ‘The strange state of the world where due to the Internet, all times now exist at once.’ This helped me think about the cross overs between the tradition of painting and the immediacy of digital/man made imagery. I then looked at different ways of painting and began experimenting contrasting these highly artificial colours with natural marks. I would use the negative space of a burnt piece of paper as a template, transferring the paint onto the paper with a sponge to create delicate but sharp edged forms. I also experimented with layering paints to recreate the spectrum of colours that create images out of a digital printer.

Experiments with Yellow, Cyan and magenta using burnt paper as stencil
Experiments with Yellow, Cyan and magenta using burnt paper as stencil

This influence in our perception of colour and the spectrum bought me to Olafur Eliasson and his study of colour. From his work I became more interested in installation space and was reminded of my interest of audience’s participation as a key aspect of the work.

Olafur Eliasson, Your uncertain shadow (colour), 2010

To develop my work for the October Crit show I began painting in block colours focusing on the form of the circle as this allowed me to easily create patterns and illusions. Reading Aldous Huxley’s ‘Doors of perception’ was also a great influence in my work at this time, especially where he describes the effect of bright colour on our ‘antipodes’; “Bright pure colours are characteristic of the other world”. Despite this Huxley evaluates only a page later “by it’s amazing capacity to give us too much of the best things, modern technology has tended to devaluate the traditional vision-inducing materials.” I felt a real connection to this analysis of colour in the everyday as I have often thought about why we do not feel the complete awe at colour and composition that our ancestors would have done.

Pattern and form experimentation with circles of block colour.
Pattern and form experimentation with circles of block colour.

Through reflection of this research I decided to make a ergonomically scaled installation that explored painting, colour, technology, the kitsch and human experience of forced perception. This is where ‘LSTV’ was formed. This consisted of an interior and exterior made from Acrylic and pencil on Canvas, black out fabric, Wood, AstroTurf, TV monitor and a Glass mannequin head.

The exterior consisted of a pattern made from the colours Magenta, Cyan, Yellow and Black. This pattern of dot painting had to be strategically planned before it was painted, I first had to plan it digitally on photoshop before I could start physical work. This process echoes that of Michael Williams digital and handmade paintings, whom I found in the ‘Forever Now’ catalogue. I was particularly interested in Williams’ choice of always creating flat imagery because of “the fact that he usually encounters artworks on the Internet or in books, rather than in person.” I wanted to subvert this in my ideas as I wanted to be sure that the viewer was completely present to view my work and in this way it would be impossible to photograph the piece, I felt it was important that the work could only be experienced truly when you are in front of it.

Michael Williams, work from ‘Forever now’ Exhibition at MoMA, 2015
Surface of Canvas painted in Acrylic
Surface of Canvas painted in Acrylic

Again, this work was very physical, the 5×5 meter canvas was much bigger than me so had to be made in stages, using hand drawn grids to guide me to where I should print each individual circle (applied with 10x10cm sponge). These pencil marks on the canvas were not removed once the paint had dried as I felt they became part of the work, these artificial dots sit between man made and mass production and the pencil lines highlighted this tension along with the reality of human error. From afar the canvas still looks as though it may have been mechanically made, but as the viewer gets closer to see the interior of the installation this pretence is abolished.

Canvas detail
Canvas detail

The ideas of over exposure to technology dulling our minds to a point where the ‘other world’ that Huxley references throughout his Mescalin experience is no longer accessible, is where the assemblage formed for the interior of my installation. Here I combined a glass mannequin head, Plastic grass and an old TV monitor stuck on white noise. These objects are all man made but particularly unaesthetic. They are objects whose function is to be the backdrop for other man made aesthetics but when placed all together they create a very bleak assemblage manufactured from evolving technology. This interior installation could only be viewed from one hole cut out of the canvas disguised as one of the painted black circles. This forced the viewer to interact with the piece physically, circling the structure to search for the hole, and then bending down to look through the it. This was followed by a mental interaction in the viewer where the contrast between interior and exterior aimed to transport the viewer to a very different place than the room/time and place that they were viewing my piece in.

Initial experiment with 'technological' assemblage
Initial experiment with ‘technological’ assemblage

In the crit feedback the comments revolved around the effective contrast of the bright and positive exterior and dark and disturbing interior, and how this could symbolize the transformation from childhood to adult hood. The disguise of the hole within the painted canvas also created a real moment of realization within the piece, a realization that there is ‘more’ and that this piece is not static. I was also told that my piece reminded people of advertisement because of the bright colours and positivity of the exterior from far away in comparison to the point where first the hand drawn lines and the imperfections of the circles can be seen, followed by the dark and bleak interior.

I feel that this piece was more successful in its interaction with the audience than ‘ENJOY ME/DESTROY ME’ because of its much larger physical presence. Its height meant that viewers couldn’t see over it, making it obstructive and forcing the viewer to confront it. But I do feel it was also too confusing, there were a lot of things in this piece to try to pick apart, also the disguise of the viewing point made it a secret when the work is meant to be for the viewer, and many did not know that it was there. I am pleased with this idea of transformation that occurs in the work, transporting the viewer from reality to an interior of strangeness using installation and contrast. The change of physical perception is something that I am going to work with again due to the success of this piece, the hole in the canvas allowed me complete control over the physical perception that the viewer had of the piece. Ultimately I want my work to allow moments of realization and moments of change in my audience by giving them a physical space of reflection. I want work to talk about human experience, the fears of death, realizations of something ‘bigger than us’ and other overwhelming moments of realization we face in our lives. These transformative and scary moments can sometimes only be consoled with humour and the absurd, which I feel is also very present in my work. I feel I would be happier about this work if it talked more about the political and environmental and had more influence from the audience. The idea that the audience could physically change outcome of the work was what was more successful about ‘ENJOY ME/DESTROY ME’, it gives the work a sense of immediacy and ephemerality to it, whereas ‘LSTV’ forced the viewers to be more present but did not completely include them.

'LSTV' 2015
‘LSTV’ 2015
'LSTV' 2015
‘LSTV’ 2015
'LSTV' 2015
‘LSTV’ 2015

John Cage experimentation

On Thursday morning I was set the task of producing a piece of ‘exploratory developmental work’ focusing on an element of an already established artists practice in order to contextualise the materials and processes that I have recently been using in my work. As I have recently been working with the intaglio printing process I decided to look further into the work of John Cage, in particular his print works made at Crown Point press from 1978 – 1992. What interests me most about Cage’s work is the way in which he creates and then uses systems that leave the work up to chance occurrences. With each print Cage handed the decision making of scale, materials, composition and colour, to chance by generating numbers from the Chinese book of wisdom; ‘I Ching’.

John Cage - Variations III No. 1 - 1992
John Cage – Variations III No. 1 – 1992

This was the element of Cage’s work that I decided to incorporate into my own practice, but I realized that in the two hours that I had it would be far too ambitious to try and create a system as complex as Cage’s, so I started off by deciding that I would use A2 paper, ice and acrylic paint as my materials. I then generated co ordinates using an online random number generator, I had to repeat this 3 times, one to choose the pieces of ice and then twice more to find the co ordinates on the 420x594mm sheet of paper.

After marking up the co ordinates I chose pieces of smashed ice out of a bag at random and matched them up to their given co ordinates on the page. In the first set of randomly generated numbers I set it online so that only 20 numbers from 1-10 would come out so obviously there were repetitions which I had to ignore which did not feel entirely truthful to the whole process so maybe this is something I think about when refining my own system. It also meant that not all the pieces of ice were used because certain numbers didn’t come up. Once the pieces of ice were positioned I placed a small blob of black acrylic paint on top of each one. This decision of using black was also made by me and I’m not sure it was the best choice, it would have been better if I had been restricted to a certain colour as this could have been more visually interesting.

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I tried to take photos of the ice melting every 5-10 minutes as first as the piece did transform much quicker as I had expected, as the pieces of ice were so small. I think the first photos where the acrylic paint first touches the ice are most interesting here as the way that the black seeps into the crevices of the small structures highlights the intricacy of each one. It may be interesting to see what would happen if the ice was put back into the freezer at this point.

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This piece worked as I had expected it to, but I’m not sure if there is anything particularly exciting about it at this point, the fact that the ice has been placed on the page because of randomly generated numbers doesn’t have as much impact as Cage’s work because of the fact that everything else in the composition was chosen and controlled by me. I think for this to be a successful contextualized piece of work I would have to look more into making a system that allows everything in each experiment to be determined by chance. I do still think that combining ice and paint for mark making is an interesting technique that I want to continue with but because this pieces of ice where sat on a piece of paper the marks are not as interesting as on the canvas where the water spilled out and was able to mark it’s surroundings too.

Recent work – Ebb and flow

My initial inspirations for my most recent work has stemmed from my documentations of Farnham park from October into December. After capturing this beautiful and vast location through its natural transitions from Autumn into Winter and day into night I started interpreting these natural phenomena’s into home made ice sculptures. My mould for these sculptures was simply a shallow bowl that came from a broken desk lamp but I chose this particular form as it resembled a perfect puddle and as the weather has gotten colder I have found myself fascinated with the way puddles freeze and the debris that gets suspended in them momentarily. I experimented with taking three of these sculptures, each one representing different times of day, into Farnham park to photograph and film recording in their natural surroundings but I found that the weather was far too cold and they barely melted. I then saw that it would be much more interesting to document how they melted through the marks made by them rather than a time lapse. So instead I got a canvas and left the sculptures to melt on it one at a time. The marks made with these sculptures were very subtle as I only added small amounts of water colours and ink to slightly alter the colours of the ice. My goal with this piece was to create layers of marks to represent the ongoing changes in nature and I wanted to use the canvas to capture my interpretations of these changes, just as so many have done before me. For a recent exhibition I decided to repeat this process but this time use only paint and use it thickly within the sculpture in order to make more striking marks.

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Initial ice sculpture experiments photographed in Farnham park (December 2014)
Close up of ice sculpture and paint before it started to melt
Close up of ice sculpture and paint before it started to melt
Ice sculpture melting in the exhibition space (February 2015)
Ice sculpture melting in the exhibition space (February 2015)

In this exhibition I found that many people were confused by the materials I had used before the ice started melting, initially people thought I had placed a dome of brightly coloured resin onto a plinth, then they thought it may be jelly because of the colour, only when they touched it did they realise that it was ice. It helped that I had found a plinth that fitted my canvas perfectly as it made the fact that this was a painting quite discreet and left people to focus on the performance of states changing from one to another, which I hoped would be the most important thing about the piece. I feel that mainly this piece was positively received by my peers and tutors, with many of them commenting that it was the simplicity of the idea that made the piece successful. Useful criticisms were about my choice of colour palette, the lurid green was quite distracting and didn’t talk to the audience about nature or the history of painting as it was meant to, and also about the fact that the canvas was not clean before the ice started melting on it. I had chosen to use the same canvas as before as I liked this idea of adding layers to represent the ongoing changes in nature but I now see that a blank canvas would have been much more appropriate for the aesthetics of this piece. Another concern raised by my peers was how the piece would be displayed after the exhibition. There was concern that the canvas would be put up on the wall alongside other paintings and would then only be talked about as an automatic painting. I shared this concern so after the exhibition I dismantled my piece and found other ways it could be shown after the event of the ice melting, separating the canvas from the plinth and the plinth from the marks made by the melting water on the floor. This may be a more interesting way of showing this piece in an exhibition after an ice piece has melted, as it forces the viewer to piece together what has happened and realise that all objects are connected by an act of nature, just as everything is on earth. This is primarily what I want to talk about with art, but I think this could be done with more interesting objects which would make this idea clearer. Another way of presenting the work after the ice had melted which I found successful was taking close up pictures of the marks made on the canvas. These photos made the paint and canvas unrecognisable so that the focus is solely on the intricate and strange marks that was made by the combinations of natural process and paint, these images are so abstract that it is impossible to guess what they are of, but make for aesthetically pleasing images that show off the beauty of nature.

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Close up of canvas detail
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Close up of canvas detail

From here I want to continue to make work that talks about the constant transitions of nature, from day into night, winter to spring and life to death and become more in touch with the flow of nature and hopefully build up an understanding relationship with these natural events that I cannot get from our capitalist society and share them with my audience.