Today started with a group project where we were made to document our responses to tasks given to us by our tutor:
- Measure Room with body (x1)
- Measure body with body (x1)
- Replace furniture with body (x1)
- Define space with body (x1)
- Perform 3 verbs with body (x1)
Whereas in the last Part One project we questioned out concept of place, this was very much of the opposite of that. These exercises helped me explore the relationship between my body and the space around me. For example, the seemingly arbitrary heights of walls, ceilings, and floor plans, makes me question the conventional dimensions of the human body alongside themes of spatial evolution, comfortability, and vulnerability.
Working in a group was an interesting way of see which movements or gestures people may naturally move towards. A lot of our responses featured all of us within close proximity, hugging, or side by side. When asked to "define space" the group agreed to have two figures stand at opposite ends of the corridor and slowly move closer together. Most of our outcomes seemed very intimate, focused on interpersonal human relationships. To be apart is to be away from another human being, space (and literally "outer space" for that matter) is that where human presence is absent. I think body language in relation to 'actual' language is always an interesting topic to explore.
What is art? Is it something gay people do to get back at their fathers? Maybe. - Brolokhov
Today I asked a friend Stella to teach me how to ride a bike. The idea was to put me into an uncomfortable, vulnerable situation and document my response. Overall, today was very successful as I accumulated a lot of varied footage of the public's reaction to what I was doing, as well as vice versa. Seeing my shocked expression when when a group of 5 or 6 year olds zoom past me on bicycles less than half my size clearly captured on camera made think of the footage as a bit like a mockumetary. The unconcerned expressions of passerbys as I crash into a tree was also quite comedic in terms of the contrast in energy being exerted in the video - natural chaos versus social order and etiquette happening all within 1 meter of eachother.
I also like how none of this was planned at all, I had no idea people would try and interact with my recording, or in some cases even try and help me learn to ride a bike. At first this was meant to be fairly personal piece about my parents, me being inadequate, and going against social expectations (that everyone should know how to ride a bike by age 18), but it basically ended up as a comedy.
The few problems we encountered when filming this actually added to the clumsy humour of our footage. For example, I had not taken into account that Stella could not both film in a stable manner and help me learn how to ride at the same time. This resulted into a few experimentations, the most successful of which I believe was when we tied my phone camera to the handle bars using my scarf. The unflattering angle helped emphasise my vulnerability in this situation, effectively capturing close-ups of my candid anxious and conventionally ugly expressions in a way no camera man could ever do.
Whilst looking over my bike riding footage, I've notice how beautiful the scenery looks at times. In particular, the trees above my head which exert a calming grace in contrast to my frantic steering. I've also screenshot a few of what I think are the 'best' of my unflattering facial expressions from the footage and made them into a series (shown above). I chose to select pictures from different angles/positions to put side my side in order to emphasise a sense of movement. Aesthetics wise, I've simply increased the contrast and the saturation slightly, I think that this enhances their comic effect.I've also begun to think about the deep juxtapositions hidden within the everyday, the paradoxes of life, and the theatre of the absurd. We live, as Samuel Beckett observes in 'Waiting for Godot', "a birth astride the grave".
I also had a tutorial today. The tutor said that my series bike riding experiment was very successful and also reminded her of Matthew Barney's restraint series, but other than that we both currently are unsure of which artist I could look at who do similar things. I will have to spend a lot of time researching into it. The angle and facial expressions are interesting because these photos which could never have been taken by a photographer.
She also suggested that I try other things that make me uncomfortable, and so, since I also don't know how to swim, I've decided to borrow a waterproof wrist GoPro from the Loan Store and go swimming (under the supervision of my most competent swimming friend). However, I am unsure of whether this is legal and I am currently waiting for the swimming pool management to reply to my email and give me permission. If not, I suppose I could just try and follow online/YouTube swimming tutorials in a bathtub/shower. I will be quite disappointed if I am not allowed to film though, since I am looking forward to juxtapose my awkward and stiff swimming gestures with the graceful motions of the deep water.
Today I also experimented with some video work. I noticed that my footwork on the bike was quite humorous as I kept missing the pedals and putting my feet back on the ground every 2 seconds. It looks a bit like a bad dance routine if I loop it. I am considering what I could do with the sound in this video though, i.e. whether I should keep the natural sounds of the park, add some contrasting music, or just emphasise the sounds of my shoes hitting the ground and the whirring of the bicycle wheel. The artistic value, or just general value, of doing this however, remains uncertain.
Today I experimented with producing more video work. Although I do like the videos I've produced, I feel as though they lack depth and are merely aesthetically pleasing. The use of repetition alongside the song is hypnotic and intriguing, but simply because they're in time with each other. It might as well be a trippy music video. I had this same 'music-video problem' during the 'Re-Edit' project, and I think i really need to learn how to use sound in a more effective way. Overall, I think it would be better for me to stick with my original photo series.
.Although my final photo series is ultimately a humorous one, it has (as I believe all art to have) unavoidable political undertones concerning my race and gender. At a basic level, it comments on the expectation of women to be graceful at all times, and at all angles. Whilst this is a seemingly old-fashion idea, one some may argue is no longer relevant to today's discussions of gender, I think it's still as relevant as ever. There are still so many horrible comments about women's bodies on the internet, and prevalent double standards when it comes to 'maintaining' oneself. Drawing on my general thought from the first day, of language, I find this quotation from 'Far from the Madding Crowd' by Thomas Hardy particularly inspiring: "It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in a language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs". Although this isn't particularly relevant to my photo series, I'd love to explore this further in a different piece of work. As a female in front of a lens, perhaps there is also something liberating in the fact that these are entirely "self-photographed", it removes another boundary between artist/performer and audience. If these were in a gallery it would remind me a bit of Eleanor Antin's 'Carving: A Traditional Sculpture'.
At present I can't seem to think of any implications my race might have for this piece, but I'm sure there must be something.
22.11.2018 - CRIT
Today we had the crit. There was a unanimous agreement that they were funny yet aesthetically pleasing, and someone even said that they looked "editorial". To emphasise this contrast between the "editorial" looks of my photographs, and my conventionally ugly facial expressions, someone also suggested that I could have framed them. There was also a discussion around the piece may have been a comment on how we live in a culture where people are often scared to try new things, and put themselves into vulnerable situations. A common reaction occurs whenever I reveal that these pictures are documenting my first time riding a bike, suddenly they understand and appreciate 10x more. So although I like the lack of context given, and many other people pointed out that they liked the lack of context given, I think this piece would have been better with a title. Something simple like, 'My First Time Riding a Bike'. It's the sort of title you'd expect for a home video, and of course you'd expect the person riding the bike to be about five years old. Which of course, I am not.
If I had more time for this project, I would make it into a series featuring me learning basic life skills. This was also suggested by multiple people during the crit. For example I could record myself learning how swim, roller skate, ice skate, or cook.
25.11.2018 - 26.11.2018 WEEKEND WORK FOR WITNESS PROJECT
People say, 'Artist, study nature!' But it is no small matter to develop what is noble out of what is common, beauty out of what lacks form - Goethe
Today I did as the brief implied I do, I went outside, walked about, and observed. I came home uninspired by my surroundings.... and this was most definitely because I simply wasn't paying attention to them, and spent the entire four hours zoning out. However, I upon further reflection this wasn't an entirely useless endeavour, and I am now thinking about public psyche, personal bubbles, the uncanny religious sentiment evoked from looking up at the sky, and tensions between narcissism and paranoia which occur e.g. when you're walking in public and your feel as if the whole world is looking at you. I am intrigued by how the latter manifests itself within social media platforms such as Instagram, where insecure teenagers may find comfort in numbers.
Numbers as in both the amount of teens online who feel the same way, and statistics e.g. likes on a post/followers.
Numb numb to the earth,
for all its worth.
I like this poem by Auden, and I think it encapsulates today's mood:
The More Loving One by W.H. Auden
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well That, for all they care, I can go to hell, But on earth indifference is the least We have to dread from man or beast. How should we like it were stars to burn With a passion for us we could not return? If equal affection cannot be, Let the more loving one be me. Admirer as I think I am Of stars that do not give a damn, I cannot, now I see them, say I missed one terribly all day. Were all stars to disappear or die, I should learn to look at an empty sky And feel its total dark sublime, Though this might take me a little time.
27.11.2018 - MORE OBSERVING
Today I spent approximately six hours in the park, on the swings, observing my environment. Naturally, when one spends so much time alone with their own mind, you end up thinking about about death at least once or twice. So, I think I might do something about death. I'm not sure what the brief means by a "non-event", but it may be along the lines of something like this, indulging into your own psyche. I also wrote some more (bad) stream of consciousness poetry, continuing to explore poetry and writing as a method of observation.
Today I decided to explore ideas of permanence, remembrance, and longing within public space. As I was also in dire need of a haircut, I decided to have my friend cut my hair in public. Hair is great as as a symbol of permanence, as it is usually the last thing to biodegrade after our deaths.
Unlike the bike 'performance', no one seemed to care that I was cutting my hair in public. Everybody walked past without so much as a second glance. It made me feel a bit small and embarrassed. But this mis-anticipation feeds into my subject of wanting to be remembered, or wanting to make an impact within such a big world.
After cutting my hair, I placed some strands on some nearby plants and photographed them. In my head, this was a visual representation of me forcing my existence into history, and my habit of being anthropocentric. Overall, however, I don't really know where to go with this project. On the brief there was an artwork by Sofia Hulten called 'Events With Unknown Outcome', and I was thinking that I might film myself leaving bits of myself - in this case, I think I might try using my hair - around the city, and record people ignoring it. But on second thought, the whole reason I was attracted to Sofia Hulten's piece was because the outcome was unknown!!! So I don't think I'll go down that route, I think it would be a really inefficient and shallow way of discussing something so deep and personal.
29.11.2018 - GROUP FEEDBACK ON WORK DONE SO FAR
There wasn't much feedback given when I presented my work, and I don't know whether I should take this as a sign that I should go in a different direction. In hindsight, it is very... self-absorbed. A ritual for the self, if anything. I'm using my own hair, and I'm the subject of the whole piece. I need some way to connect on an equal existential level to the audience.
In the afternoon I experimented with some recordings I had of my some strands of my hair, placed on some plants, billowing in the wind. But I think the outcome was quite boring, and it was hard to tell that "those black lines" were even pieces of hair. I have realised that once again, my attempts at creating a completely serious and dark piece of art have been corrupted by the monde de la comédie (world of comedy) c'est la vie!!!! (that's life!!!!)
2.12.2018 - EXHIBITIONS AND IDEA DEVELOPMENT
Today I saw 'Strange Days' at the Store for the second time, and 'All I know is what's on the internet' at the Photographers Gallery for the first time.
After seeing the Silvio Lurosso & Sebastian Schmeig's 'Five Years of Captured Captchas' at the Photographer's Gallery, I researched into captcha poetry I am thinking about playing with words and internet slang. One idea I came up with is the play on the term 'ghosting'. These are the definitions of the word from Google:
the appearance of a ghost or secondary image on a television or other display screen."the display is sharper and less prone to ghosting"
the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.
And these are the additional definitions given to me by Urban Dictionary:
- When someone ignores your text, email, or other message on one platform while they received it and are online and active and on another with the intent of you not knowing it.
- Ghosting can mean the viewing of a stream/streamer for the purpose of gaining information that could be used to gain an advantage against them (no matter if they're a team or an individual)
I wanted to make a stereotypical halloween ghost figure (white cloth with two eye holes), and do a backlight projection of some eyes darting around the room, looking at other people and their work. After researching, however, I found that Tony Oursler has already made something exactly like this. And although our subject matters were fairly different, I am still unsure about making an art piece that looks exactly like someone else's. But I would still like to explore the relationship between our relationships with others on the internet, and the specific mindset we have when it comes to building these relationships, e.g. they should regularly like our posts, read our messages and reply on time, and more or less let us know their every movement.
3.12.2018 - 4.12.2018
Over the past few days I've been researching video artists and have come across Heather Phillipson, who discusses topics like death but in much less self-absorbed way. So in the afternoon I tried experimenting with similar imagery. I've noticed that she uses a lot of emojis ironically , and other graphic imagery. I thought I experiment with using free online gifs. I don't know why, but I chose a gif of chickens. Really, I think it was because I heard someone next to me talking about chicken nuggets. But I think I was also drawn to the use of animals in my piece after seeing and Stephane Degoutin & Gwenola Wagon's 'World Brain' at the Photographer's gallery yesterday. During the video, the narrator posed a question about humans being able to return to our animal form.
I added some funk music in the background, after being inspired by Camille Henrot's 'Gross Fatigue' at the Store, I think it adds a hypnotic effect and easily draws the audience in. In this way, I am also able to comment on how we process information on the internet, e.g. how easily we are attracted to adverts simply because of a catchy slogan, or maybe how large corporations try and relate to young consumers via pop-culture references, or cute animals.I have also added some audio captcha recordings which pop up every now and then, so the audio as as a whole is sort of life a spoken word poem. This is quite disconcerting, but not overly so that the audience is put off from watching the videos. Just like how problems of privacy on the internet are mildly disconcerting, but not overly so that we are distracted from our everyday lives. I suppose I am exploring how quick we are to accept things which we think don't effect us, how quickly we are distracted by cute animal videos.
On a similar note, I also read an article on how social media triggers a dopamine high, and I am now thinking about how social media platforms function as a fun and distracting reward system.
After much defeat, and as much as I love talking about death, I think I am going to return to my original idea about how narcissism and paranoia manifest themselves within social media platforms, and the effects of the internet on our emotions and everyday psyche. Although I did like the direction in which my chicken video was going, I think I could be much more experimental medium-wise. Two years ago I made a doll using red paint, glue, and stuffing, and I am going to re-use that material and make an Instagram heart. At a base level, I want to talk about how the Internet and technology have replaced soft toys, and the reward value and comfort of getting likes on social media.
After experimenting with projections, and eventually discovered that the material was thin enough for my phone screen to shine through it. I think this is a fairly unique way of displaying a video, as well as being an effective and easy way of commenting on or everyday relationship with technology. The phone too becomes a sculptural object.
I struggled a lot with choosing which audio to use, whether I would use audio at all, and what sort of video imagery would be most effective. Although I did really like the 'spoken captcha poetry' I made yesterday, I think it alone makes the sculpture obnoxiously creepy - whereas before this obnoxiousness had been cancelled out by groovy funk music. I also tried having a computer generated voice read out sections of a Wikipedia article on dopamine, but I thought that was obnoxiously creepy as well. In the end, I decided to settle for no audio, and I also thought that having audio play aloud in might be a disturbance to other peoples works. Video wise, I chose to compile lots of found imagery. The main one being a CGI animation of an eye, mapping out all of its systems. I thought that this would be a nice comment on how we receive information online. The YouTube video of the eye also included lots of weird stock imagery of nature, and happy families, and I decided to include those as well simply to add an ironic contrast to the tattered sculpture. I also added some GIFs of people scrolling through twitter, and some animated heart emojis to link the piece as a whole back to social media.
6.12.2018 - CRIT
In the morning, I made a last minute decision to stitch on some legs and turn my heart into some sort of persona. I had tried wrapping them around the heart, so that it looked like a birds nest, implying notions of safety, comfort and childhood, but the legs were too small, and it ended up just looking lumpy. By adding the legs I think it looked like a small child, and I think it added a link about childhood and technology. The link was unintentionally morbid however, since the materials I was using had been recycled from a preciously morbid project. I think this added a perfectly valid layer of interpretation however, as technology - like most things- always has a negative side.
I felt as though this piece, in comparison to my last, allowed for a broader range of of topics to be discussed. The nature imagery in the video was interpreted as a contrast to the morbidity of the doll, in a dark space, and thus nature and the material world is ironically seen as the new "alternate" reality. During the middle of the crit, someone suggested that the sculpture would be better without the chair, and so I moved the sculpture to the ground instead, and people seemed to like it better, though I'm not exactly sure why. I suppose if there's something that you think neither adds nor takes away from your piece, you should just get rid of it. My group also suggested that I give it a title which gave it a more obvious link to the internet now being a substitute for soft toys. I feel as though there was a lot of focus on the morbidity of the sculpture, and its forlorn posture against the wall. Overall it was very much seen as a didactic piece, looking at our addictions to social media, or just the general terrors of the inter-web.
WE'VE RENTED OUT YOUR ROOM
16 - 18.12.2018
I've spent the past few days thinking and brainstorming ideas for the new project. I seem to be drawn to the words "home", "memory", and "out of place". C.S. Lewis defines religious experience as that which is "uncanny", and there are tons of theologians who link memory and The Fall. On the other hand, I think exploring how one may forget the familiar, and feel like a foreigner in ones own home. The notion of "home" here holds a lot to unpack. I also looked up a list of synonyms for "out of place", and then a list of synonyms for "invasion",which I have explored in my sketchbook. I have found looking up synonym lists for key words very helpful in broadening my understanding of the key themes I am drawn to. I think the main idea here is that I want to make a piece that makes people feel threatened, forcibly breaks them out of their comfort zone.
I think it would be a good idea to source my materials from nature, e.g. use leaves or sticks/ the natural environment around us and, in contrast, make them feel "inappropriate" or "awkward" (words from my synonym list for "out of place). I plan to take a trip to the park with a friend and see what kind of things we can find. Earlier this week I went to see the Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition and really liked the Jocelyn McGregor's 'The Picnic' and her use of synthetic replicas of natural materials.
I found a frozen pond at the park and, naturally, I decided to try and break the ice using a large rock. I also tried skidding and breaking pieces of ice across the pond. The sound produced was very high pitched and bird song-like. It was also quite eery and definitely caught the attention of passersby. I think found a large branch and stuck it into the ice, merging two separate entities into one organic-looking form. In hindsight, this trip would have been a lot more efficient if I had planned out exactly what materials I wanted to gather from the park beforehand. However, I believe this trip was still successful as I was lucky enough to find immediately find an interesting medium to work with. I think I may try and experiment with projecting onto different blocks of ice. But I would only be able to document this at home, as it would melt by the time I got to school - thus it is not suitable for crit.
Today I experimented with projecting onto an ice sculpture which I had left to freeze overnight in a cup. I stuck a straw in it so that it would make it look like a drinking cup, rather than it just looking like an ambiguous cylinder-like object. This way, it also evokes a sense of the everyday - but in an unconventional way. I had hoped to enhance the sense of "uncannyness" and sense of intrusion into the everyday by projecting my face onto it - but this was unsuccessful. Rather than the image projecting itself onto the ice clearly, it simply didn't show up at all. I think this was because the ice was too thick. I'm becoming more and more aware of the fact that I do lots of experimentation but very little planning, and I did not have a back up plan for this idea if it i didn't work out. I think I will have to abandon the "ice project" for now, hoping to come back to it in the future.
After being heavily inspired by the imagery in Beckett's 'Not I', I began randomly projecting a red-lipped mouth around my room. I liked how it looked when I projected it onto my bed sheets and began to develop this further, experimenting by stretching and crumpling the fabric to see how much I could distort the image. This sparked a thoughtful pun: "A long scream in my bedroom". Since I the fabric needs to be crumpled and distorted for the projection to distort, I figured that it would be a good idea if I crawled underneath my sheets and and just... struggled about. I like the idea of this being a performance piece, and I also like the photos I got from doing this project - but I still feel like I could push this further a lot further. If I had more time, perhaps I would experiment more with what imagery I could project onto my bed sheets, or whether I could get multiple people to crawl underneath with me. I could possibly also include sound, but I like the fact that I'm depicting a silent, existentialist struggle.