Term 1 Evaluation

Whether it was me or someone I knew travelling, distant separations and long periods of time have been a major part of my past year and this was the initial inspiration for the work I have produced up until now.  Although I have touched on other subjects and ideas, the underlying notion behind my work is that of ‘the moments in between’. This originated from obvious thoughts about “a cut in time” and “space of existence” when someone is no longer physically spending time with you. Despite new technology ‘bringing people closer together’, the facts are “you can only be with someone when you are with them” therefor when talking on the phone or on facetime, there is no real, solid evidence that you are actually connecting with them – because you are not. As of this, through image making of different sorts, I have explored the constant overlapping of interaction a mother may have with a child compared to the singular interaction of two strangers meeting for one time only. The idea of this ‘gap’ then developed through to performance art where I attempt to experience the void of getting lost and what it meant for objects being taken from the lost place. My intention was to make work that highlights these gaps in our understanding, actions, perception and conscious beliefs, then push their boundaries. I still have much to explore and build upon and have moved through many different circles of thought to get here. I recognise my work would benefit from being a more refined concept earlier on to leave me more time for scrutiny, rather than brushing over other ideas with little relevance.

New to studying fine art, my earliest work took a familiar form of painting, collage, photography and drawing but my first attempt at video art led to more video plus performance. I have discovered that the involvement of the body, essence of human and movement are of more interest to me than the arguably stationary presence and resulting flat image of say painting. I can connect to work much better if it is more sensually stimulating, then feel more in tune and involved with what I am trying to communicate. Saying this, since my first visit to the workshop, I’ve hardly left. Casting, woodwork and welding have all become the processes I’ve used to make my most recent works. I’ve never used machinery like this before and have begun creating sculptures. Some of the sculptures I’ve made however have not been developed in anyway or revisited. Working in this intuitive way has been letting the work itself evoke future ideas but at the same time I abandon work I may have only just finished. I could be overlooking great potential for development so from now I will take more care with reflection and not jump to the next thing if I haven’t considered the possibilities of what is right in front of me.

In terms of imagination, my starting point was quite simple and direct: being away from someone means physical space and being with someone implies wholeness. This directly informed the grid like paintings and weaving I touched on at the very beginning. Alongside, I made images by visually simplifying experiences and moments from photos as a form of documentation which did have more complex associations with psychology of information and perception of the viewer. Visual explanation of events was a key theme. But I found it quite restricting as the point of it was simplification and documentation of moments so taking it further kind of felt defeatist and a uninteresting. But, the relevance of the gap regained its importance and thanks to a major study of John Cage’s work, for example 4’33” where a pianist walks up to a piano in the gallery space, expected to play the instrument however captures the audience and sends them spiralling into an in between of understanding left with ‘nothing’ when he walks away having not played a single note. My imagination became angled more towards the potential of discovering and creating voids. I became fascinated with lost places of nonexistence but how they must exist if we can call them moments or places.  These complex ideas grew into video and performance. If I compare the direct approach I had when painting grids compared to the video piece I did about capturing ‘moments between the functions’ like blinking, finding the radio station and the role of the hinge in a door. I can see the evolution of form and media as well as a more concise objective and outcome; even if my technological understanding was poor.

I have thrown myself into all ways of working and am slowly discovering what media I’m most attracted to which is currently performance and sculpture. Simultaneously, I still find myself struggling to balance my practice with research; I get myself lost in theories and ideas, write masses about artists and their concepts but don’t really know what to do with it. Following this in depth reflection, I will get more focused on coordinating conceptual research with physical work.

Discovering that work like John Cage’s 4’33” performance exists and is celebrated was hugely influential, plus relevant to my ideas of void and the nothing in gaps. Prior again, a quote from the book ‘Trickster makes this world’ by Lewis Hyde about artist Rebecca Horn, fed me the first example of a ‘space in between’ when stating that there is a place neither leading out nor leading in to the door and this is the place of “the hinge”; the “in between of two identified functions” and an element so often forgotten. The hinge related considerably to my research on the theory of phenomenology which was established by German philosopher, Edmund Husserl.  Although it is difficult to define phenomenology, it “is considered to be oriented on discovery” and associates with ideas of experience and ‘aboutness’.  In phenomenology, there are theories about retention and pretention. “Retention is not a representation or memory but a presentation of a temporarily extended present.” A concept about nothing but an observation of the way our conscious experience works between the present and the future and highlights the space between them.

I can see how my ideas have been solely gyrating around philosophy and psychology with little relevance to contemporary issues or debates. Yet recently, in sculpture I’ve used found and organic materials so thoughts of climate change and our natural environment have arisen. Since watching the American Presidential debates, seeing their outcome and watching the documentary by Leonardo DiCaprio called ‘Before the Flood’, I have begun to address concerns with the lack of attention the natural world will receive in the coming years. I have so far only begun to support this within the materials I am using, location of video and performance and journal research on artists’ Tania Kovats and Richard Long. As of my lack of alliance with the contemporary world, social and political issues, I know to combine my ideas with critical concerns in the future and I predict these may have a lot to do with effect of climate change and future of our planet.

The journal has played an important part of my practise since the summer when I learnt of the universe in a box project, and it has been a very useful clarification and research tool. I note down everything from visiting artist talks, art history lectures, screenings, artist studies and some reflection. My journal is like a long string of ideas, every quote or idea I’ve found interesting is gathered here, along with informative but regrettably not as clearer reflection as I thought I’d done. I have reflected on my work and my progress however after re reading my journals, it is not organised or obvious. Discovering that most of my reflection and decision making was done in my head and whatever idea or thing that came after is what I’d write down. I see how I have often told the reader my thoughts on concepts and new ideas but only rarely looked back on previous ones. Separately, I have made a blog to present the video and performance work I have been doing and after each post I do provide a paragraph of reflection. Typing thoughts up feels more formal and precise; it’s easier to articulate myself, implying it may be useful to use an online format as a journal or for reflection in the future.

Using technology more and admittedly not having used the studio due to space, led me into all the kinds of media that a studio space wasn’t needed for like video, performance and doing sculpture in the workshops. But I have been in the workshop almost every day for the last 3 weeks and before that was planning and making videos and performances. I enjoy the freedom on the course and the easy, encouraged access to things like the workshop and have been using the library often as well. However one thing I am struggling with is the technical side of video and sound editing, I believe there is a course run to help student with computer editing software which I will join in January. I know that if I had a better technical understanding and access to professional software then the overall quality of my video work would improve. Along similar lines, over the break I’d like to improve my professional presence as an artist all together whether that’s through documentation of work, online presence, more directly and confidently contextualising my practise and being generally more aware of the contemporary world all together.

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Lost in fluid surroundings

I surround myself with water collected from the ocean after filming my ‘Under nothing but ocean’ video about the ocean surrounding you and how due to the nature of the sea and its mass connection all over the world, you are effectively always lost as the same water particles of your surrounding will probably never come in contact with your existence ever again. As of this, I can conclude that this particular ‘after performance’ using water from the ocean does surround you in a similar way as the ocean does. I have taken the water particles from a bigger source (the sea) to present them as separate objects around me, the difference here however is that the ‘taken pieces from the lost in between’ were once all interconnected and were a genuine ‘piece’ from the forces of my ‘lost’ surroundings. The water particles are very difficult to obtain once released, therefor, it’s hard to ‘do’ anything with the water once it has been poured around me, unlike the solid objects from the other lost experiment I did where i could manipulate and position them as I pleased. This formulates  questions about timelessness and supports the idea of the momentary feeling of being lost that can’t be reclaimed, you can only feel it again if you get lost in another different new place and in this case it would be to collect a new selection of water.

Under nothing but ocean

 

This beautiful video I’ve made is so simple yet captivating, the constant dynamic movement of the sea effectively leaves a person continuously lost when within its surrounding waters. Because of the oceans constant movement, the same particle is very unlikely to ever come in contact with your body again there for every moment is essentially a moment of lost because your surroundings are forever brand new and you would never have experienced them in the past and never will in the future.

In the video I swim far out to sea then tread water whilst spinning around raising the camera above the water level and below at random moments. As the weather changed and the sun began to set, the water change colour and streams of light lit up the surrounding water. Due to the poor quality of my underwater camera, these light beams became pixelated and unexpectedly beautiful. You can find these about 11 minutes in. The white gap you see appear above and below the water when facing the light ties nicely into my ideas about ‘spaces in between’. The harsh whiteness is like a void of nothing or glitch without explanation. It looks like a gateway that leads into the abyss of nothing.

Although this was difficult, I purposely swam far out in order to capture no other people or land in my footage. The shots of just the endless out to sea and nothingness of the perspective under the water are cooling and a bit frightening, the complete essence of lostness and being alone. You may find this peaceful or scary depending on your perspective and experiences but there is no doubt the video comes across beautifully eerie along with the slowed soundtrack which could sound like someone slowly drowning or a conversation stolen from cyberspace.

The visuals of the video are supporting my theories of the sea, they are obviously fluid and ever changing but because of the nature of the ocean, the first shot it literally directly connected to the end shot and every shot in between! Continuous brand new surroundings and pure fluidity.

Swimmers in Nothing

In this video, the water represents the space in between and the swimmers representing our experience within it. Within water, your body is experiencing new surroundings every single second; in the sea especially. The ocean is all connected and is constantly involved in fluid movement, therefore the particles in contact and around our bodies are always completely new, challenging the notion that in the sea you are always lost.

Reflection: Visually I wish I’d have held the camera much more still and maybe removed the sound from it. To improve this video and develop it I could arrange to shoot multiple shots at different angles all videoing the same swimmers but display say 4 shots all at once on loop, maybe on monitors in a cube shape so that all the monitor screens are facing inwards and the viewer would stand in the centre essentially being surrounded as well.

Blindfolded art performance

I do explain a little bit about my project and concepts at the end of the video but I was slightly embarrassed and under pressure when I was speaking so I didn’t explain very well.

This performance was my first ever performance with an audience but a big part of the performance was the fact that the audience would be visually unaware of what the performance entailed, they had to rely on hearing as their best and automatic sense to help them process and guess what was happening behind the blindfolds. As of this, I feel I am addressing and creating a void or space between the function of seeing and action of ‘performing’ as the most obvious point of performing in general terms is for people to see it.

I also did this performance on a Saturday at 12:00 midday, I thought this added to the overall effect of the performance because some of my small audience travelled for 20 minutes on a bus to see it but found out there wasn’t even anything to see, only experience and hear for as little as a minute which they may have found a little irritating.

Reflection: I have noticed the need for humans to ‘work out’ when they are either lost or unsure of something, it is interesting how we instinctively do this thanks to our senses. But taking away the most relied on sense that is sight, forces working out in another way. What if I was to do another ‘getting lost experiment’ but I remained blindfolded the whole time so had no use of sight to help work out where I am. I like how my choice of camera angles adds and reinforces the non seeing aspect of the performance through the video so that no viewer of this video will ever know what happened when the blindfold went on. I am also intrigued by the unknown. It raises questions about whether you really know or have proof that there is someone performing behind the blindfold if you actually can not see the thing happening that you think is happening. There is a conceptual space within statement like “only be there when are there” which is something I wrote at the very beginning of this project. Also things like “only believe it when you see it”, do you believe things that you believe because you have been told them or because you have experienced them first hand?

In between objects body sculpture

Another exploration of surrounding and location. These objects attached to me with wool were also picked up during my time in the lost in between. I challenge whether being surrounded by objects located from somewhere else could mean that you are back in the place that they were originally found. If they are attached to you, have you become part of their location – you are now one with the objects or are the objects still completely different pieces of matter? If they are attached to you then they are with you until you remove them there for arguing that the possible space in between that you are recreating, moves with you and isn’t just a circle to step in and out of.

I also recorded the incredible noise that was created from walking around with it all attached to me, I don’t know what I will do with the sound memo yet but it will be supporting ideas around comparison to the original more calm noise recorded during the time I picked all the objects up.

Reflection: what if all the objects in a space were attached to me and released of their potential sound and noise, could I argue that this is the true sound of your surroundings? – when everything is experienced to it’s full potential? What is the potential of collecting many objects all from a new moment or space (location) in between and bringing them all into a new space and exploiting them of their inner sounds to create a new sense of in between. This could even support popular current issues about equal rights and freedom of speech, or even how we need to listen to and consider our surrounding more as our natural environment is in need of extreme attention as soon as possible, as if the surrounding environment is crying out for help.

Notice my walking in circles. I strengthen the idea of being surrounded and within something, or a place or contained by something. The objects I found in the lost in between are surrounding me and attached to me, but in addition to this, I walk in circles and surround another place of land, space and time with the objects from before. How does this sit within my concept in terms of where this new place sits within time and space.

Lost Stones Performance

When I did the experiment/ performance of getting lost in the in between where a friend drove me blind folded to a place I’d never been before, I picked up objects from the surroundings . In this performance done in central Falmouth, I reposition the stones picked up from the harbour around me challenging the notion of location and whether this could mean I am within that ‘space in between’ once more. What defines a place – surroundings, a feeling, geography, visuals, objects?

Reflection: consider the understanding and part played by the circle within the performance. What does the shape of the circle mean? To stand within a circle you are surrounded and this is a fact, standing in a circle means you are ‘within’ something, and you also within whatever the circle consists of or is made from. For example, I am within the stones that surround me in this circle of lost.