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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30 seconds/1 cut

Here is my short film clip from a group project ’30 seconds/1 cut’. I was very enthusiastic when I heard about this project as I really enjoy working in the media of film and wanted to experiment with it more after my week rotation in moving image and photography in part 1 of my course. I decided to take this opportunity to film myself screaming at the camera for 30 seconds without stopping. I used this as therapy for myself, letting out all of my current frustrations and anger but channeling it into something constructive and hopefully creative at the same time. This is how I feel about a lot of my current work, as by focusing on my own frustrations and therapeutically channeling them into my art I sometimes can feel quite relieved and as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Unfortunately I was unable to scream for the whole 30 seconds as my throat began to hurt, so the last 10 seconds are left in an eerie silence with me out of shot before it carries on to the next persons 30 second clip. My film contrasted very dramatically next to the other clips as many of them didn’t include much sound and many of them were practically silent, so when mine came on it was quite a shock and made a few of the audience jump. I was pleased with this result as it meant that the viewers physically reacted to my work and made an impact on them, I also feel that this video could be interpreted as a literal cry for help. I do wish that I had got better lighting, focus and symmetry in the shot and possibly more white to give a more clinical aesthetic to the piece. When I asked my peers what they thought of my clip they said that they found it frightening and uncomfortable to watch and listen to as I had recorded myself in a very intimate way making myself appear vulnerable and mentally unstable.