Having found myself consistently writing during the summer months I started to disregard images and objects and found it increasingly difficult to think about the possibilities of making. This led me to my recent experiment ‘POLITICALLY EMOTIONAL/EMOTIONALLY POLITICAL’, which was born out of anxiety about making work for a show I was in from 26 -29 September; ‘No Ordinary Disruption’. The making of this work was spontaneous and my only aim was to get across my dissatisfaction with the art world, but the writing took on a life of its own as I kept adding more and more thoughts to the word document. I left the text mainly unedited as I feel that it is within this honesty that the strength of the work manifests itself. I did re-structure the ‘stanzas’ in a way that makes the first half politically engaged and the second half is focused on the emotions and the body. To present this work to an audience I screen recorded myself scrolling down the word document with the down arrow key and a metronome to guide me.
This was displayed on a small screen at the exhibition, and I made the decision to place it half way up an unused stairway within the gallery space. My aim was to create an intimate space between the viewer and the work and this stairwell was completely without light and narrow, meaning only one person could go up to view the screen at once. I felt really nervous about this piece before showing it as I know that a lot of the writing is very naïve and quite pathetic, but it was this sort of ‘teenage rant’ that I felt everyone could relate to. It was good to get this work out into the world quickly, but I think the screen was much too small and the format possibly difficult to access. In feedback from my peers and tutors I was told that the simplicity of black text on a white background was successful because it did not let the mind get distracted from the imagery in the writing. I personally think that the scroll through the text works because it conceals how long the text might be, something that would put a potential viewer off, but a screen of capital letters seems to be easy for most to digest for a couple of minutes. Ultimately I have been told I need to aim much bigger, in the next week I plan to create a multi projection installation to immerse the viewers in my writing and I also plan to work with vinyl and graffiti.
After experimenting with my intaglio etching photocopies in a grid format I started thinking about how they would work as a video piece, as if each photocopy could be shown as a frame in its series, it could almost be an animation of the ice melting away. This inspiration also came from watching videos of John Cage’s print making processes, because his prints are so down to chance the videos of him making the pieces almost because more interesting than the work for me. I also found myself very interested in working with the audio that came out of documenting the ice being thrown to the ground.
My first experiment didn’t work as I only used the 6 photocopies that made up the left to right diagonal through the grid. This meant that the print didn’t really fade away but instead jumped from one photo copy to the next. I also experimented with slowing down the ice smashing audio here, this worked well I think as it gave the impact emphasis. I also liked how the audio softened as the photocopies got lighter, giving the impression of ice melting.
From this initial experiment I went on to scan in all 36 of the photocopies, so that the transition would be much smoother. This worked much better than I had anticipated, with 6 frames per second the black and white print fades smoothly away until the viewer is left with strange white and grey marks from the photocopier moving on the screen. I also decided to experiment with using the footage of me dropping the ice, as I liked the way that Dora Maurer’s piece ‘Throwing a plate from very high’ can be displayed alongside the photographs of her throwing the plate. As the video was much longer as it contained more photocopies this allowed me to play with the audio a little more. I decided to start the audio as I cut to the photocopies so that the audio and impact of the ice smashing can be experienced together, but the actual impact is still not seen conventionally.
I found the correlation between the audio and photocopies the most interesting part of this piece. The inclusion of me dropping the ice at the beginning made the piece too obvious, the audio with the photocopies on its own carries much more ambiguity and is much more exciting. So I then played around with only using the photocopies and manipulated audio, duplicating and flipping the sequence so that after the audio and visuals fade the process starts back up again.
I feel that this is the most successful out come of this combination of media as it for the way it visualises an impact through different ways, without ever letting the audience see this impact normally. Reversing the audio was really interesting, it completely changed the tone of the piece and I find the potential for this piece to be played on a loop very exciting. Ultimately this outcome successfully gives this sense of water freezing and ice melting I think, it explores natural cycles and changes whilst also thinking about the distortions that technology has on our society.
Although this may be more of a viral entertainment video rather than an ‘art’ piece I feel that themes within this still apply to my project because of the way I feel it creates anxiety and disgust in the viewer. In the first couple of minutes we are introduced to child friendly characters singing a song about creativity within a setting of bright, simplistic colours and up lifting but slightly annoying audio. Once the characters begin to ‘get creative’ the audio fastens with the pace of the change in shots and action. The audio suddenly becomes very messy with some instruments overtaking others and strange noises changing the tone of the video. This is where the video becomes really unsettling, the characters go from being puppets to strange animations which pixelate and blur, this is the turning point where the intentions behind the video transform. The first gruesome thing we see is a really quick shot of a heart against a bright yellow background that we have seen prior to this shot with glitter spread over it, but the shot is so fleeting that initially you don’t notice it as it is so unexpected. The weather changes from blue skies to thunderous clouds which is a very basic way of using pathetic fallacy but still effectively prepares us for the strange turn the video is about to embark on. From this point the video becomes unbearably strange, especially with the contrast of bright colours and raw meat becoming quite distressing comparatively. The video finishes with the original audio so that everything is seemingly back to normal. Although this is effective because it allows us to compare the surrealism of the video to the calm ending I think it would have been more effective not to conclude the video as therefore there would have been no satisfying cathartic release in the viewer, thus creating anxiety. After watching this video several times I have noticed that there are several examples of foreshadowing in the first couple of minutes indicating the gruesome ending. An example of this is the rather long shot of the kitchen knives, which in hindsight is very out of place for a kid friendly video. I also think the line in the song “listen to the voices in your brain” is quite disturbing when you think about it in the context of the rest of the video, although it fits in perfectly with the pentameter of the song, when looked at on its own implies an idea of mental illness, in particular schizophrenia, which one could argue is what the whole video is about because of the way the mood of it changes so dramatically in such a small space of time. Another thing that I feel is important to my project is the way things are concealed and revealed throughout the creativity sequence. For example at one point we see one of the characters placing the letter ‘D’ on an orange background, but as this is placed amid several other shots we as an audience don’t give it a second thought until it cuts back to it with the word ‘death’ spelt out and we then realise the true intention of the ‘creativity’. I thought this was really interesting technique that I could work with using film to deceive my own audience.
On the first day of this workshop I decided to use water condensation as my material to work with so I turned on the hot water really high in the shower room and waited until the room steamed up. I then experimented with different tools that I could use to make different marks and patterns on the glass. Unfortunately this was not as successful as I had hoped, because the rest of the room was white, the pictures I took to document the process do not show clearly the marks I made unless I held a black sheet in the behind me. So I then experimented with using water colours on the mirror and then trying to get an imprint of the markings by pressing a piece of paper against the surface. Unfortunately this was not a successful experimentation as the markings did not come out clearly and just came out as one large texture. So I then decided to record the process as a performance piece of me painting onto the mirror as no other documentation seemed to work. The first film I made was of me applying the watercolours onto the mirror quite obsessively and repetitively so that there was constant movement and change in the frame. My favourite part of this minute long video was the last few seconds where the paint was particularly watery and it dripped down the mirror fluidly. I then decided to make another video but this time using watered down acrylic paint so that the colours were more vivid and I only applied the paint a couple of times, mainly letting the film focus on the running it running down the mirror, which was surprisingly interesting and therapeutic. Unfortunately my camera lens steamed up from the condensation in the room so this film is not as clear as the first. In my reflection of this workshop I decided to look at Helena Almeida’s piece ‘Study for inner improvement.’ Although this piece is not about hiding or self portraiture, it is the technique used here that I felt would benefit my project. I decided that it would be interesting to base my short project around the idea of exposure and protection. Although Almeida denies that the blue paint used in her work has anything to do with Yves Klein, I believe that if we do see their works connected in someway then we can interpret that Almeida is covering up and protecting her body with the paint that Klein exposed anonymous women with previously. I found this concept really interesting and for the rest of this project I am going to experiment with the idea of ‘obscure selfies’ to show the way in which the media distorts the way we perceive ourselves in the mirror. On the second day of this workshop I decided to experiment with the technique that Almeida used of painting herself out of her portraits, but instead of painting over them after the image had been printed I decided to try and paint myself out before the picture had even been taken. This resulted in me suspending a paint brush from the ceiling using string which I could pull back and release so that the end of the paint brush, which had paint on it, made contact with the mirror and made a mark, I started with the string short so that it marked the top of the mirror and then slowly unravelled it in the film so it covered a strip of the mirror. To make a clear reference to Almeida’s work I decided to use a vivid blue colour to cover my reflection in the mirror, this is also to indicate that this is a reaction to Yves Klein’s work, but should also be seen as a modern piece about personal insecurities. I am pleased with the final outcome of this project, the video ended up being over 10 minutes long so I had to speed it up by 700x its original length, I also included a static photo at the end to show what I could see as I was going through the painting process. I really enjoyed this short project and felt that I got a lot out of is as I am not a massive fan of drawing but being able to use it in a way that creates concept and meaning was really beneficial to me.