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.

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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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