Maggots and food experimentation and problem solving

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

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. 

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‘Pain’ Project Final outcome

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For this project I initially started off trying to create visually painful imagery by dripping water onto water soluble ink in an attempt to create an optical illusion like effect. I felt that it would be more effective if I created a piece that the audience would physically react to rather than attempt to create a piece that they would emotionally react to. I realised this was a much more sustainable idea from reading the introduction to the book; ‘Enduring Creation’ where they compared classic Gothic literature to modern day Hollywood horror films. This comparison talked about how we are no longer scared of Gothic novels because they are set in a fantasy world, whereas these horror films are set in modern day American suburbia and it is the realism and possibility of them actually happening to us that evokes fear. So this led me to think about how I could make everyday objects painful to look at. My research on Tracey Emin, Olafur Eliasson and colour psychology all helped my project develop in a completely different direction to where I thought it would go originally. After reflecting on this research I decided I wanted my project to help me deal with my own emotions in a constructive way, I felt that the key to doing this effectively would be through colour and when I found out in my research of colour psychology that yellow in large amounts can bring on feelings of anxiety and depression this changed the whole outcome of my final piece.  After some development of ideas in my journals I decided that I would create an everyday table setting that all viewers could relate to and recognise. I wanted to use a normal everyday setting in order to portray the fact that everyday routines and situations can be difficult or even traumatic for people with anxiety or depression, and this fitted in nicely with what I had found out about the colour so I then thought it would be appropriate for me to paint an entire table setting in bright yellow acrylic. The paint job on this was not perfect, as when I moved the objects to different locations some of them stuck together so taking them apart would remove some of the paint, and I had to do a layer of white first on any transparent objects such as glasses making the paint inconsistent in some areas. I also looked at Raphael Hefti’s work who turns glass into coloured filters that change the way the viewer perceives the colour of the objects behind them. This inspired me to make my own filter by printing black onto acetate, this was meant to physically embody the anxiety and depression that my piece is about, as I feel that most viewers will see the table setting and think it is about happiness and vibrancy whereas when they look through the filter and the setting is obscured by darkness they will understand the actual meaning of the piece. By doing this I am trying to change the viewers relationship with colour, I am using this filter as a translator to the audience, to raise awareness of how someone with anxiety or depression perceives everyday life. There is also another concept in here where I am trying to get the point across that although someone may seem happy aesthetically, if you were to look a little deeper you may find a much darker side to them. Over all I am pleased with the outcome of this project, I have found that I have learnt a lot about the importance of in depth research to make a successfully conceptual piece of work, and this self managed project has given me a little more confidence for part 3 of my course.

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Mono printing and poetry

For my final project in part 2 of my course I was given a self managed task with the title ‘Process’, for which we had to come up with our own theme. As I had enjoyed using my poetry in my work for my last project I decided to start by using these again for inspiration for this project, and decided to use mono printing to present them. After my first brief experimentation I looked at Tracey Emin to give me more inspiration as I was aware that she combined text and illustrations in her mono prints which is what I also wanted to do. I also like the way in which Emin tends to use traditional methods, such as embroidery or printing, to confront personal and traumatic topics. I feel that this makes the pieces much more painful because of the drawn out process Emin has had to go through to create them. I like the messy nature of Emin’s prints, they look rushed and frustrated, scrawled as though the person who created them has gone insane and lost all control and it is this spontaneous aesthetic that I want to create in my own work. In my second session of mono printing I produced over 40 prints, and through this experimentation I found new ways of creating prints where the lines were quite fine, which was especially useful when I was trying to write out my own poems. I also found a new process where I wrote into the ink covered surface and then printed onto the paper which made negative imprints, this worked particularly effectively on some of my darker poems. The fact that you have to write backwards I feel perfectly illustrates my poems, as I want to show how they are these difficult thoughts for me to process and understand, instead of being these beautifully written and structured pieces of creative writing. One of my favourite outcomes, which was largely inspired be Emin’s mono prints, was a simple line drawing of a sink with the words ‘WASH YOUR FACE’ underneath, I used this to represent the way that mental illness can make everyday tasks, such as simply washing your face and looking after yourself, impossible.

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Although I really enjoyed this process and hope to do some more later on at a larger scale, I don’t think I shall be developing this process for the rest of my project but I do want to carry on with this on the side of my studies and possibly create a small book of my poems and illustrations using this process. From this experimentation I have found a good concept for my project and I think I am going to go with the title of ‘Pain’ as these mono prints have helped me constructively deal with my own emotional pain, and the concept of something being visually painful or hard to deal with for someone with a mental illness, such as an everyday setting, is something I feel I could carry on to create a strong final outcome.

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