Final outcome - 'Life was great before 2008'
Instillation in use
Today has been massively stressful for me and I have been conflicted between possible outcomes. In an attempt to still carry out a performance piece, which was my initial intent, I collected various objects including a fan, a cabinet, speakers and a mannequin from the outside workshop as well as a ladder. With this I would then film myself climbing up the ladder with each object one by one and violently throwing the objects onto the ground. It would be an uncut, fairly tedious video which I had plans to show on a screen with the collected rubble underneath. However, I was unable to carry this idea out as the objects I had found were actually still in use and not allowed to be destroyed. I am also keen on keeping my projects completely free of a budget, therefore I did not seek out to buy objects I could then destroy. Because of this I was forced to keep working on my iMovie video. Eventually, I chose to edit the video so that both it and the audio play backwards. This was to represent and reflect on nostalgia and the yearning to go back to a time in which my grandfather was still alive. The piece will be called 'Life was great before 2008', a motto I frequently use as 2008 was the year in which my grandfather tragically died in a work accident. My grandfather had always worked as a roofer, therefore it is crucial that a ladder is used in the piece to represent him and his profession. Subsequently, my final outcome will consist of a ladder and a small video clip played on a mini iPad which will sit on a shelf that I have made today in the woodwork workshop.
Annoyingly, all ideas presented in my sketchbook as sketches were either too ambitious in the given time period or too hazardous and damaging to the King's Cross site. Instead, I began working on iMovie in hope to create/edit a short video which could either be projected or shown on a screen. With my grandfather still in mind, I downloaded a clip from Le Corniaud, a 1965 French comedy film by Gérard Oury starring Louis de Funès and Bourvil. Louis de Funes was not only my grandfathers favourite actor/comedian but they also shared various mannerisms and ways in which they spoke. The clip I used was from a scene in the film in which Bourvil crashes a classic volkswagen beetle into a wall and it comically falls apart with him still clutching onto the steering wheel.
Thinking further about the places I have chosen to base my project on, I have decided to incorporate my late grandfather's presence in my work, essentially paying homage to him and the work he so brilliantly did every day. In my sketchbook is a photograph of him balancing a wheelbarrow on his chin, one of many party tricks he performed to me and my cousins when we were younger. From this image I started to think about the use of a wheelbarrow in my work. Obviously I cannot reenact this image through performance, therefore I started to reflect on ways in which I could present such a mundane object like a wheelbarrow in a way which would be fun and spectacle-like, much like my grandfather did for me. The main problem I faced with this idea however was finding a wheelbarrow in time. This lead me to conjure up new and different ideas/concepts without the use of a wheelbarrow. Unfortunately I faced the same problem again with my second idea involving a trampoline. Here I would film myself throwing household objects out of a window onto a trampoline to which they would then bounce off and smash on the ground.
In preparation for the Place Project, I began thinking of places or locations of significance to me and my childhood. The first place that came to mind was my grandfathers house in France, specifically the attic and garage there. I can vividly remember the smell and appearance of these places despite not having been there in a long time. As a child I was strictly advised to avoid playing in or exploring both the garage and the attic as they were riddled with hazards; various greasy or sharp gardening equipment, electrical wires and hanging bicycles. However despite all the warnings, my childish curiosity lead me to spend many hours rummaging through boxes of vintage clothing belonging to my aunties and broken children's toys. With the sole purpose of these places being used for storage, I believe that there is a lot of material I can work with which correlate with my previous works and personal aesthetic choices (that being rather industrial and readymade). In my sketchbook are photographs of these spaces taken by my father who currently still lives in France.
For this piece I chose to work from both the photoshop collage experiments and one of the found images documented in my sketchbook. The image I chose to work from in my sketchbook was that of a ghostly figure draped in white cloth with its face masked. The figure holds both a cross an a rod across its chest. This image strikes me the most as it is both highly religious but also quite threatening and haunting. I wanted to explore further into works and images that were visually contradicting and that could depict two different stories or scenarios. Much like Justin Mortimer I wanted to confuse yet disturb the onlooker, creating a piece which would have a different narrative with each person's perspective. Behind the sculptural piece which depicts what I have just described is a large black painted figure, which derives from the 'Death In June' album cover collages I made on photoshop. Death In June are a controversial 1980's Neo-folk band notorious for its use of Nazi Germany themes and imagery, specifically the fashion. I chose to incorporate imagery from this band in my work as they too are frequently misjudged and contradictory in their work and appearance. For a start, Douglas P, the group's frontman and founder, is an openly gay man, which quite obviously goes against Nazi ideology and thus creating great confusion to those who view him as a right-wing extremist.
Overall, the piece received a positive viewer response, and most of the feedback reflected on the impressive use of scale and space. One person mentioned that the placement of the sculpture in front of the painting allowed there to be a highly eery yet religious atmosphere, the shadow figure being almost God-like and smiting. Due to the sculptures petite size, there was also mention of the sculptural figure looking like a child, perhaps enforcing ideas that this child is being forced into religious practises. Finally, although coincidental, the backdrop in which black lines box the instillation was said to have complimented the work very well, adding to the sense of entrapment but also finalising the piece.
Which of my experiments/collages/sketches were more successful? Why?
I struggled to make collages with the images I had found and brought in as I thought they strong enough images on their own. I then proceeded to experiment using photoshop, however my knowledge of this software is very minimal and I have not previously used it before. Consequently, the collages I was producing were being made at a slow pace and not of great quality. It was then I decided to do what I do best and try and incorporate sculpture into the project, with the basic collage I had made using album covers I liked in mind.
How can I use different materials, techniques, processes to move my ideas forward?
With the theme of this project being painting, I still want to incorporate paint in the artwork, despite it inevitably being a sculptural piece. I began making small gestural paintings of the figures off the album covers I had collaged using solely black oil paint. From this I plan to paint a large-scale shadow-like figure which will hang behind the sculpture.
What challenges do I anticipate?
I have only just decided to create a sculpture due to my inability to paint traditionally. This means I only have one day left to make the sculpture's wooden structure and collect the materials needed to drape over this structure. I fear that from this short deadline the final outcome with seem somewhat rushed or incomplete.
What artists that I have been shown are relevant to my work?
From the lecture there were only a handful of artists whose art I enjoyed and felt were relevant to what I was making/wanted to make. Justin Mortimer's paintings fascinated me the most because the work had no set narrative and seemed somewhat random and confusing to the viewer. This is what I aim to do with my own work. Additionally, some of Mortimer's imagery is also sourced from pornographic magazines, making his work, though not directly sexually explicit, fairly provocative and inspirational to me as a non-painter.
Rather than going straight into collaging, I have decided to make a moodboard consisting of images I find both aesthetically captivating, be that quite strikingly harsh or violent, and generally lacking in bright colour. This is as I intend on using black and white (negative space) in my painting. Amongst the moodpboard is a series of images involving the use of masks, some of which portray religious qualities and others contrastingly quite violent in nature. Many of these found images have derived from 70/80s fetish magazines or screenshots from films and cinema, while others are simply other artist's work. After lunch I found myself struggling to come up with a concept behind a painting I could make, therefore in an attempt to feel more inspired I went to the computer room to experiment with photoshop for the first time, altering images of album covers I find interesting and related to my choice of aesthetic. Still, I want my painting to be naturally quite minimal and reflective of my found images.
I have been introduced to my new project 'Altered Spaces' with the medium being painting. This is daunting to me as I am by no means a painter, or at least a traditionally skilled one. I have visited multiple galleries in preparation for this project, the galleries having been listed and documented in the research page. The paintings I most enjoyed throughout my gallery visits were usually incredibly gestural ones involving very little bright colours or much detail. One painting by Peppi Bottrop very much reminded me of the sort of work I produced at A Level, chaotic and generally made with black ink or charcoal. Another child-like painting by A.R. Penck reminded me of Basquiat's work, with a hint of Raymond Pettibon, a punk artist who predominantly used black, white and red as his main choice of colours to work with. A few artists shown in the lecture such as Justin Mortimer, Christopher Orr and Hurvin Anderson also came to my aid when it came to deciding what kind of methods of painting I wanted use. Being a sculptor I want to explore how I could perhaps make my painting more 3 dimensional or layered, essentially less conventional and using a wider range of media rather than just oil or acrylic. I have already established that I want my piece to be visually minimal, be that through colour or scale.
With the project only being 4 days long, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was able to produce a piece of work in time having used such materials as metal, wood, plaster and clay, especially as I haven't practised these methods of working in over 3 years. It was definitely reassuring for someone like myself with ambitions of pursuing a sculpture pathway. Initially the piece was supposed to portray two full body skeletons embracing each other, however due to time I had to sacrifice constructing the lower half of the skeletons. This means the final outcome only shows two skulls and two sets of rib cages, one of which still has an arm attached. Although I am pleased with the work and the last minute adjustments made such as painting on a dirt effect to the originally bright white colour of the plaster, I would have liked to have taken more care in the plastering process, making the ribs much smaller in size and smoother in appearance to match that of the skulls. I definitely feel as if the materials used were appropriate to the aesthetic of piece, even though the methods and materials I have used aren't specifically my preferences when it comes to sculpture. However, this particular project has taught me that I can be versatile as an artist and a sculptor, and work at a pace which is efficient.
-"The placement of the two bodies remind me of the death scene from Romeo and Juliet."
-"There's a Pompeii feel to it."
-"At first I thought it was the remains of a crime scene but the more you observe the piece the more you can see the tender and loving nature of the situation."
-"There is no sense of disgust. The use of the cloth depicts a sense of warmth and humbleness, as if it were a bedsheet or a blanket. There is a great deal of care shown in these two embracing skeletons."
-"The different textures of the plaster make you want to observe the piece even more."
-"The use of the brown sand is very archeological. It makes you want to be more interactive with the piece; to get down and start brushing away at the bones in hope to discover more."
I have come in (10am-12pm) to finish plastering the remaining ribs and forearm bones, and to establish how I'd like to present my work tomorrow. I have searched the outside workshop for potential soil, sand or dirt-like material to use. My intentions are to place the final outcome amongst found dirt or sand as if to show that they have been freshly dug up from the ground. This will hopefully allow the piece to look more archaeological and fresh rather than as if preserved in a museum.
After searching more, I concluded that I wanted to sculpturally recreate an image I saw on an online article of two, 6000 year old skeletons embracing each other. From this I started to question what materials would be most appropriate to work with and whether or not I wanted the piece to look identical to the image or for me to work more conceptually. Much of my decision making took place in the metal workshop, where I would collect random planks of wood and scrap metal. I would go on to weld pieces of metal to form the rib cages to which I then casted/plastered over. Alongside this I found a pre constructed skull mold, to which I will eventually cut in half to represent both skeleton heads. Before doing so I should soak the plaster skull in water for about 10 minutes to soften the plaster, therefore making it easier to cut through with a saw. My plans for tomorrow are to finish plastering the second rib cage and arms, and subsequently presenting the work in soil/dirt on the floor.
This week's project is called Material News and focuses on sculpture. The idea behind this project stems from a show by Mexican artist Damián Ortega called ‘The Independent’. Every day from the 29th August to 27th September 2010, Ortega responded to something that caught his eye in the newspaper, which he then attempted to communicate or embody in some way. Using readily available urban materials, Ortega by the end of the month had made close to 30 three-dimensional works that together reflected the ‘stuff’ of a big city and provided a snapshot of what had happened in the world.
Before starting my project I began flicking through newspapers and magazines with intentions to find ludicrous headlines and aesthetically relevant imagery. These were then documented in my sketchbook, annotated with words I associated with the images. From these articles and images I began drawing quick sketches of potential final outcomes with a political or social nature. I would also question what materials I would use and at what scale I would work at. Initially I wanted to use materials such as concrete or chainlink, however found that I wouldn't have enough time or the resources to create work at the scale at which I wanted. My sketches/design ideas were either far too ambitious for the 3 day time period or, although visually strong, did not have sufficient reasoning behind their construction/creation. I decided to look further into online articles that could perhaps inspire a more achievable piece idea.
Unfortunately my work was not shown due to lack of time, which in a way was convenient for me as I believed that by the time my video was shown people would have already been too tried or too agitated to have appreciated or understood my purposely tedious video. Although I am proud of having successfully made the video despite having zero knowledge of the software I was using, I would have liked my video to be more minimal, for example only showing the opening two moving images throughout. In response to my previous questions (How can you take something that someone else has made and re-appropriate it as your own? What is the new message of your piece after it has undergone its transformation?), I believe that this project has taught me that using found footage online which were originally filmed, created and uploaded by others, can be altered and edited in a way which completely detaches it from its original purpose or meaning into a completely new one. The original videos may not be considered art at first, but with slight editing, perhaps involving new audio or made into a compilation, they can subsequently become more interesting or fun to watch. My particular video had visually quite a violent and disturbing nature, however its intention was to narrate the story of one of my favourite films Withnail And I. Only I know this however, making the piece more cathartic and personal to me, which is usually the way I work.
Today's focus was on finishing my re-edit video in time for Thursday. What I eventually thought was a finished outcome was soon critiqued by a tutor who had concluded that my work should be shortened and edited to perhaps include audio from the film I had based it off. I had originally avoided this as I wanted my video to mirror the tedious and prolonged nature of the scenes in 'Withnail and I' whilst simultaneously not actually giving away to the audience that this film was ever part of my project.
Today I was introduced to the "Re-Edit" project and the software required to make videos/short films using found videos online (youtube etc). This is the first time I've had to use an editing software (Adobe Premiere Pro) to create anything, therefore I will have to adapt to this technical side to the course and work at a fast pace. When thinking about what I'd like to create from this project, I looked into some of my favourite films and cinematic scenes for inspiration. What first came to mind was Bruce Robinson's 'Withnail and I' which then lead me to question why I adore this film so much, which is undoubtably the aggressive and chaotic nature of the two protagonists. From this I searched online for homemade/diy videos consisting of quite violent and chaotic imagery, for example a snake killing itself by smashing its skull against the ground and a fan being destroyed with an axe.
Many artists choose to work with found materials, incorporating the history or associations of that material into their work. Marcel Duchamp was the first to coin the phrase “Ready Made” referring to something taken from the context of the everyday world and represented in a new context - a gallery space. By the end of this project I aim to have the answers to both these questions; How can you take something that someone else has made and re-appropriate it as your own? And what is the new message of your piece after it has undergone its transformation?
Below are links to the two websites I used to download media:
What methods and materials have been used in the work?
I began by searching the outdoor space/studio for scrap metal, materials and perhaps readymade pieces of work left behind by previous students. The construction of the piece consisted of a vast amount of trial and error; constantly rearranging the positioning of each object until it resembled how I had envisioned it beforehand. It wasn't until the final touches that I made the spontaneous decision to add two A3 sheets of paper with images from my photography collection, and to also spray paint the word "fishing" in black on on of the metal pipes I had found and installed in the piece. The meaning behind the use of the word "fishing" stemmed from having listened to Public Image Ltd's song Fishing the night before, in which John Lydon sings "go crawl back in to your dustbin".
How is/should the work be presented?
The work itself was shown as an instillation in the outside space in which I had originally found the materials for it, however the ideal presentation for this work would be in an isolated corner of a white-walled gallery space.
What do you think the work communicates?
Having repurposed the lost and found materials and objects, my intentions were to allow people to view the rubbish and rubble before them as intricate and meaningful works of art. What a lot of people don't realise when they are disposing of their junk onto the street is that they are exposing intimate and personal information about themselves and their lifestyle to the public. Each object has a story tell and has once had purpose and significance to the person throwing them away. Not only this but people are unintentionally creating works of art when they dispose of their unwanted possessions onto the street. They will completely disregard the way in which and where they are placing the object/s, which is then inevitably recognised and appreciated by myself as an artist with an taste for the distasteful.
How did you come to understand these ideas? What is the relationship between the chosen media and the concepts you have discussed?
I had a very clear idea in my head that I wanted my work to involve metal rubbish bins to emphasise on my love for industrial aesthetic and to mirror the series of photographs I had taken and presented in my sketchbook.
How might the work be improved?
Given the chance I would add to the instillation, perhaps including audio or a visible presentation of the photographs I had taken prior.
Any artist references/texts etc?
My initial artist inspiration for this specific piece was Damian Ortega. I had recently seen an instillation piece by him in which three rusty trash cans where suspended/balanced on top of each other. Additionally, during one of the collection lectures there was one artist who deemed appropriate to my work's intentions. Richard Wentworth's 'Making do and getting by' very much investigates processes of perception and communication - how we see what we see, what we do with what we see, how we name what we think we have seen, who we share it with and who is speaking to whom. Beyond this, he documents an excess - a creativity beyond necessary functionality, something transformative that lurks below the surface intention in acts of ordering and repair. Wentworth frames with a light and witty touch the art of the human hand.
I have started looking into ways my Collection project outcome should be presented. I am clear on documenting found objects that depict rubbish or having been left behind, however I am torn between presenting these as photographed images, either on a wall or in frames, a physical instillation piece with the actual objects, or a moving image shown on a television (on a plinth) with audio of what sounds each object make when kicked, moved or smashed.
Today's starter activities involved arranging found objects in the room from least to most important on a desert island and also from smallest to largest. This allowed us to question the value of each object, what the collection is revealing, and ways in which objects can be collected.
Collection key words:
- Taxonomy- System of classification
- Spatial/Person activations
- Non visual
When it comes to the word "collections" I think of my fascination with rubble, rubbish and ruins. As of last year I have been collecting images (taken by myself) of often destroyed or unwanted objects left out on the streets to be collected as rubbish. The everyday person would usually disregard these objects or view them as eyesores, however to me they are unintentional instillation pieces with their own intricate stories to tell. Today I went about Archway Park in hope to find more abandoned or out of place objects with intensions to capture these as images and to then record the sounds they made once kicked or moved.
Instructional Drawing (in pairs)
This was the first activity of the day. For this activity one person instructs the other verbally whilst the other responds and creates a visualisation.
Who owns the drawing?
Although the initial ideas were my own, my partner was in total control of what was being drawn and created, essentially bringing the ideas to life and therefore owning the drawings. My partner could have listened to my directs orders but had the ability and freedom to interpret it however they liked.
How did you find the process of articulating the ideas?
Both my partner and I spoke English as our first language therefore there were no difficulties in understanding each other. The only challenge I faced in this particular activity was having to spontaneously think of ideas which were both interesting and somewhat complex in an attempt to broaden my partner’s imagination.
What differs from your imagined visualisations?
I found that the scale at which they worked and the positioning of the drawings on the paper were much different to how I had envisioned. Consequently this made the drawings much more exciting to look at.
Drawing on an object
The second activity was to find an object in the room and to then draw on it.
What can happen when you draw on a 3 dimensional object?
Drawing on everyday, mundane objects can ultimately transform them into works of art with complexity and meaning. In my case I had found a stack of unused CDs which naturally have quite a flat, 2 dimensional-like form. However, I believe I struggled the most with this particular task as I was constantly switching between possible ideas and couldn’t settle for one I wanted to pursue.
What is a readymade?
A readymade is unintentional set of images/shapes/patterns that interest you as the artist. This activity was essentially an act of identification and recontextualisation. Most importantly this has significance historically in art, an example being Marcel Duchamp’s urinal.
Drawing with the body
Finally, the last activity of the day was a performance piece/drawing with the body. For this I was part of a group of four people. We made our way onto the roof where we were more isolated and free from distractions. The rooftop had a barred pathway which we used to our advantage. Using our bodies we would bend over and climb onto these bars, and subsequently each other. To make our final images more abstract we decided to play around with angles, specifically low angles taken from beneath us. This gave our images a powerfully towering
What is the relationship between the body and the site?
The site is massively important when it comes to performance art involving the body. Bodies can adapt and shift in shape or form depending on its surroundings. It allows us to be flexible in both body and mind.
How did several bodies interact to make unexpected forms?
Having only known my peers for a total of two days, I found that this particular activity was very beneficial to the social aspect of the course. Through this activity we learnt to be more comfortable with each other's physical presence. We began by holding each other up by the arms and legs to form a square shape, however we found this to be quite physically challenging and so switched to even more intimate forms in which our legs would intertwine with each others. Overall a positive outcome and a good bonding experience.