Reality Underpass – Sculpture

Bringing together the balloon forms in all their variety and a collaboration of found items, I created this sculpture/installation. The vague idea behind this piece is the ‘slipping through’ ‘unnoticed slipping under’ ‘underpassing’ of reality in our modern world. The idea was to use sand to represent true reality that passes underneath the arches and bridges of fast pace, quickest route technology and media that are drawing us over the away from reality in it’s purest form.

The rest of the sculpture has been completely up to my hands and mind at the time of creation. I moved the material and objects around the room in search of a positioning that I felt was right, and continued this process throughout the course of the sculpture.

I do really enjoy this intuitive way of working but as long as I have all the right tools and possible materials to use at hand and all my options around me. And as a result I got the large sculpture below that uses: oil sand, plaster mold and casts, found wires, found cushioning, found wood, melted keyboards, a plinth filled with sand,  polystyrene packaging in a bag and a projector and cameras.

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The projected scene onto the sculpture is a ‘live’ video of the sculpture in the space, the video can only go on as long as the sculpture lasts and thanks to technology, because I am videoing directly what I can see onto the thing I’m seeing, the projected image multiplies and plays back into itself. It creates senses of non stop, forever and continuation, expanding on ideas of constant digital attachment that will go on forever, it’s a bit like a black hole. Also, time in the video gets slower as the video goes further into repeat, there’s something fascinating  and disorientating about something in real time being repeated and changing in sync.

Again in this sculpture I intended for there to be a feeling of system or network going on. The veins of reality pumped into the solid balloon forms and seeping from synthetic substances like polystyrene or wire. The half bitty half clear foam softening and cushioning the weight of the hollow balloon molds that have been mutated to resemble rock formations. The key boards like a control panel for all of it, melted and distorted but still controlling the system of reality and roots of modern life. The video projection ensuring its long living stability and presence, repetition and technological overcast on the flow of the sculpture and modern life.

Using sand in my sculptures and using a process of placement and arrangement demonstrates the temporary and ephemerality of the moment of creation. You cannot move the sculpture without taking it apart and breaking it’s state, the sculpture has been built using lots of different elements especially considering the sand that has been molded into a shape there and then. The ephemerality of the sculpture combined with the reliance of the projection, on the sculpture (because the projection is OF the sculpture) both bare temporal elements that reflect the state of humans on the earth. The momentary existence and blink of an eyelid that we live for in the eyes of the universe is like the building and then breaking down of this sculpture.

Since doing my recent installation sculptural work, I have realised that I need to refine my working ideas. The subject of the anthropocene, climate change, the apocalypse, technology/information world and the desert and reality and living more and using technology less is what all my ideas revolve around and that is a lot to consider, it is such a huge mass of subjects. However, from the materials I am drawn to collecting and the general outcomes of my installations and sculptures, it seems palpable to say that I am constantly creating divergence and friction between organic substance and the synthetic, mass manufactured. I see that sometimes the contrasting materials work fluidly together and other times they seem to move abruptly against each other, constantly showing their differences and reflecting the way they work together in the wider world. From this point onwards, my sculptural and aesthetic awareness will be with this notion of division and juxtaposition of organic forms and natural life and that of the bold, damaging, now so familiar world of man made products, mass production and remnants of human existence.

‘Live’ Performance 2

Simplified, refined version of the performance I previously did called ‘Live’ Performance. Advancing on ideas about the cyber, social media and digital world taking over our lives so much so that in reality it’s hard to say we are ‘living’ anymore. We are so involved with our online presence and increasingly so, for some, they are more involved with their online life than they are with their real one.

This time the character sits still, bolt up right and straight towards the camera and projector. You can sometimes see the whites of the characters eyes, watering, vulnerable and anxious, holding connotations with all emotional elements related to social media and technology. In ways, it’s as if the dark shape of the figure is the soul of the character and is having the ‘live’ video be projected into their heart, directly to manipulating their being and dissolving their reality in the dense network that runs through the wires in our houses and through the signals in the sky, beating the pulses of the modern ‘live’ world into their mind.

I think this is a good adaptation to my first performance but there is an uncomfortable, unease about the first performance that I really like and think adds to the notions it represents about our present and future social landscape and the way people feel and act within it. However, this second version displays the same ideas in a different way; here the character sits motionless and almost dead, behind the powerful rays of the ‘live’ video, really straining the contrast of the video with the actions of the character.

Live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, but NO Life.

Live Sandthropocene

This was an extremely enjoyable but mega piece of work. There are lots of different elements to the piece that I brought all together in attempt to create a spontaneous installation. I wanted to include my ‘Live’ video and some previous sculpture I’d done like the newspaper balloon and experiments I’d done with melting computer keyboards.

I was going for the less prepared, freer, spontaneous approach to the day it took making this because I’ve been aware how much planning and preparation I seem to do with every piece so to just bring all elements together and see what I get seemed like a new, interesting way of working.

Melted Electrical Equipment:

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Notions of shrivelling and drying up are strong in my thoughts and ideas, directly reflecting the state of the human social sculpture and mind as well as the physical changes the world is facing. I thought it appropriate to deliberately destroy these pieces of well recognised technology the way I argue they are changing us. Although they link quite clearly to some sort of apocalypse, the physical presence of a melted and damaged piece of plastic like these finds an eerie, uncomfortable realm within us that concludes that this is not ok. In the flesh, the sculptures make you feel uncomfortable. Everyone knows that electrical equipment, plus fire (which is the obvious cause for the damage here) is definitely bad, with relation to danger, explosions, fumes and waste. But why do we so easily recognise this matter, opposed to realising, noticing and therefore caring that we are doing the exact same thing to the planet? The sculptures are sickly and fairly repulsive as the keys bare bubbles, dirty textures and scorched fluid edges, it may be fascinating but also uncomfortable.

Above are some photos of the impromptu ‘oil sand’, wire and melted technology  sculpture I put together inspired by ideas of the anthropocene, climate change and the crumbling of social interaction. I didn’t plan what I was going to make and it was a really enjoyable process rather than trying to match something to an idea or drawing which can get frustrating when it doesn’t go to plan.

The sand staircases in the sculpture are part of an experiment I did a few weeks ago where I made a mould that works in the same way as a sandcastle bucket. I fill it with sand and turn it over and out comes a staircase. The staircases were part of an original idea: sand is a key material seen through this body of work as of the relevance to the future of our planet if it continues to be abused and dry out due to climate change. Plus it is extremely crumbly and obviously wouldn’t be a very good material for building stairs. Imagine trying to climb a sand staircase, you would just fall through it as it crumbles into a pile – you would get no where – a bit like our future in this case.

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The previous elements of sculpture then became part of an installation after I added a projector showing the previous video I made called ‘Live’. I also experimented with lights for the first time and to my surprise, thanks to the wires I received some amazing shadows cast all over the walls.

Reflection: The addition of the lights was not intended to create these shadows but I think they were a real asset to the outcome. They have connotations with remnants and impression and trace which could all be linked to the human presence on Earth. The shadows are visually very interesting and add a sense of mystery and ghostly eeriness to the installation like this is a scene from a terrible, very serious story that has yet to happen, the tangles and ambiguous trails of sand are part of a bigger picture. Some sort of system is indicated through the improvised shapes crawling and sprawling across the floor. When I stepped back to look at the piece at the end I could vaguely trace out the shape of a human body; the paper mache balloon being the head leading down to the sand as the torso and wires to staircases as the limbs. Reinforcing the possible apocalyptic future for the human race suggesting we end in piles of sand and tangled wires leading no where.

As of all this, I have been made aware from others and consider myself that it may be too much. There is too much going on. I had feedback suggesting that either the video or the melted keyboards weren’t needed. And possibly that the floor piece would have been fine on it’s own and the wall aspects distracted from the detail it bares below.

However, I really liked the process and seeing how it developed so think I will do similar things in the future but keep in mind the risk of over complicating and crowding, sometimes less is more.

‘Live’ Performance

Using the video I made with found footage of TV presenters saying how they are going ‘live’ somewhere or on ‘live tv’, I did a piece of performance art. The ‘live’ video is being projected on a character dressed in a suit, representing the average male character of the Western world, mooching around a messy room aimlessly searching for some sort of meaning in objects or his surroundings but can never maintain interest in something for longer than a minute before looking for something better.The character looks tired and unhappy, the tights that have been used to hold a balloon above his head disfigure the face and give him droopy eyes and a misshapen nose adding a sense of synthetic disturbia to the character. Synthetic alterations. I included a battery powered flashing bow tie to the character’s outfit, a bow tie is often worn during middle class events or for special occasions, however, when flashing, there’s a sense of learnt humour about the look, like a clown or magician. Presenting the well recognised business man as a bit of a performer or joke.

The character searches for meaning and briefly examines objects before getting bored and moves onto other ones. Although not intended, this act illustrates a loss of meaning to the man’s life, he can’t find anything stimulating to hold onto, he has no interests, impatient, no reason for living outside of working, hence the empty alcohol bottle and temporarily finding joy in his car keys (his pride and joy). On the other hand, with the objects he finds, he sometimes attempts to pop the cyber bubble above his head but continuously fails – all the objects aren’t sharp enough to pop it, we have made our lives so comfortable and supposedly safe, and the cyber balloon is getting thicker and harder to pop the more we use it.

The video playing over the top of the scene is intense, potentially equating to how often he might go ‘live’ on social media or watches ‘live’ news or videos but counteractively depicts his lack of life and living in doing so.

The piece is a comment on how a large number of the West are beginning to live their lives. Living to work and for money, using and relying on social media for attention and information. Losing the ability to entertain themselves and enjoy their surroundings, increasing the thickness of their digital, cyber bubble and losing touch with reality and life.

Reflection: On reflection, I feel the piece is over crowded but has some strong elements to it. It needs simplifying as a video piece as there is a little too much going on, however, if I were to do it again, maybe I’d do the performance in a space that I’d stay in for 24 hours where people can come and watch me to strengthen the effect it has on people. I will take elements of the performance further; like the balloon and the video and use them in different pieces.

 

Going ‘Live’ Video

As I uploaded this video to youtube, I had a notification on the side of my computer screen that said, “your video will be live at:” and then showed the URL of the video. The whole point of this video piece is to encourage the viewer to question the relevance of the word ‘live’ and what it truly means rather than what it has newly become in terms of digital technology.

It is so common to express ourselves as being ‘live’ on Facebook or Twitter and other social media, or on TV, Radio, live chats, live footage,live, live, live, live, live. We are obsessed with being ‘live’ but where is the ‘living’ reality of this? Where’s your life gone? I think we all forget how the word ‘live’ is directly linked to the words: live, life, living, lives, lived and alive, all words obviously talking about a state of reality where one is experiencing, feeling and learning. However, it is now used to describe quite the opposite – living through technology – live through technology, and this so normal. The word has been mutated and changed to describe a complicated man made network of signals and wires that are in no way alive at all and it’s likely that the way the majority of the public who witness ‘live’ TV or ‘live’ Facebook stories are just staring at a screen and sitting down, living a life through technology but aren’t really living at all, just festering between comfy cushions and consumerist products.

One Whole Blink – sand sculpture

This is a stock motion video made from oil sand, a brief exploration of the presence humans have had on the planet. In the life of the universe, our existence as a species is only here for a matter of seconds. We have come and will go. In the process we built cities and life but encouraged by our rapid use of the world’s resources, we will return to dirt and dust once again.

I made this piece from oil sand, as if remnants of oil and desert are all that our future holds and all that we are made from. The crumbling, dust like qualities of oil sand lends itself to this piece, the sculpture broke down quite naturally and fell into positions I would not have been able to create myself.

It’s interesting how quickly the ‘sand civilisation’ stopped looking like a civilisation as soon as I started breaking it and knocking it. Is this the same for our civilisation in reality? It’s breaking down a lot faster than it was created? Good things always take more time than the bad. However, I think that the buildings and materials we have used to create our civilisation on Earth will be around for thousands of years to come unless the heat on the planet rises to extraordinary levels as a result of some sort of asteroid collision or major solar flare.

Reflection: The skill and technicalities of the video are very poor. I did not have a tripod therefor each shot is slightly altered and not exact. I will use a tripod for sure in the future. Also, the image quality is poor and part of the reason I changed the colour so drastically. But, the orange and red colouring was also added to give the impression of heat like the magma core of Planet Earth, it could also arguable look like glitter which is interesting because glitter is such a cheap, kitsch, tacky material that has no depth to it, no structure and no purpose apart from its materialistic attractive value. Often used when depicting magic or things that aren’t real or things ‘out of this world’. Although, I find myself easily mesmerised by the changing synthetic colours. This could be metaphorically reflecting western life; we just get too distracted by the pretty colours to see what’s going on behind.