3rd Yr Journal – Week 9, 10, 11, 12

I feel like I’m not moving particularly quickly through my thoughts and ideas. I don’t feel like I’ve come very far from my original idea but maybe that’s just my perspective. Anyhow, I had a tutorial with artist Hew Locke this week and it was really useful because he reminded me to have fun with my work and not worry too much about it. He said I was in danger of it becoming too serious and not enjoyable which is fair to say as joy should be a factor of making as that’s when you get the best results? I don’t know, but it encouraged me to stop thinking and just make and enjoy and stop worrying so much about whether or not EVERYTHING is perfectly politically correct and communicating the right thing before I’ve even made it.

As of this, I have spent the remaining weeks playing and making as well as naturally starting to think about future ideas that will hopefully be implemented in the coming projects in second term. Ideas came naturally through making and play.

The image of the white sheet above is of some fabric that I dyed with rust. I used pieces of metal I found at the ‘corner place’ to dye the fabric using a simple technique involving salt and vinegar. Then I drew around some dough ladders onto the fabric. The photos to the right are of the ceramics and metal I found at the ‘corner place’ laid on top of the fabric. They are laid out neatly and spaced apart a bit like artifacts of the ‘corner place’.

Please click on images for description…

 

I tied all the dough ladders together using strips of canvas from the drawing I did on the floor at the ‘corner place’. It’s like a net of ladders now, giving the ladders a completely different function – they are now in a net that is used to catch things not reach or get over things. It is very delicate and quite heavy due to the ladders getting damp and dense. Now it is like a rhizome of interconnected ladders leading to one and other in every angle with no specific destiny.

 

The pieces of grease proof paper on the image above on the right are some of the ones I used to bake the dough ladders on, I love how the moisture has seeped into the paper and left stains and traces, they are so beautiful. An interesting way of image making and arguable drawing. The moisture traces of the bread…

Above I have draped the now net like ladders over the palimpsestual Jacob’s Ladder step cast as if they are falling down the step freely. A waterfall of dough ladders. The left arrangement of the step and ladders in the corner looks more interesting in a photo however the right arrangement look better in real life. The corner arrangement has more of a link to my work as it encompasses the idea of the ‘corner place’ that is next to Jacob’s Ladder as well.

I have also been taking recording of conversations I’ve been having with people when I directly ask them if they have any stories that involve staircases or ladders. It is interesting because every single story I have received is about people when they were a kid going down the staircase or ladder in some way; no stories have involved people going up and they are always recited with a kind of nostalgia. I heard, “yes but when I was a kid…” many times. An interesting observation about what comes to mind when people think of the ladder or staircase. I did these recordings in social moments when people have just eaten dinner together and are then just relaxing and chatting. Relaxed social moments when people are sitting around in a group sharing stories and ideas.

I have also made a short experimental film called Pigeon Colonization – The Ladder, The Corner. In the film I recite one of my poems over changing footage I took of the ‘corner place’. I make breaks in the video to link to each time I say “next line”. I say ‘next line’ after every line of the poem which was initially said as an accident when I was practising the reading. By saying next line before moving on to the actual next line of the poem I create a kind of repetitive bridge – a bit like a ladder, like a staircase of repeated words that rhythmically leads you through the story. You can find the written version of the poem in my sketchbook. I experimented a lot with the visuals because initially this poem was meant for a different film which I will explain later. I’m not sure if the poem is read in a fitting way for the film, the way I read it is quite matter of fact and I’m not sure If I like this. In the original film, I wanted to add text that would tell the poem and the reader would have to read to follow. I worry that a voice is too specific and holds too many associations to gender, class, country etc and I think it would be best for the reader to read the poem to themselves as if listening to their own words not mine. To change it, I’d keep how an image only appears when ‘next line’ is said but try out how this would work throughout the whole video.

Ideally I’d like to project the video onto the arrangement of the ladders some way. Using photoshop I have tried to imagine what the film if I did this. The video would be much more distorted than this in real life but I think I’d like the way the images would dance over the bodies of the ladders connecting the two together through layering.

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The original video was a 16mm stock motion video shot on Jacob’s Ladder. It was of all the bread ladders slowly making their way down the path way that leads off Jacob’s Ladder; the path that runs across the back of the ‘corner place’. The video took hours of work and saw the ladders dance down the slope and into a pile. Then I shot some footage of people walking down the stairs at Jacob’s Ladder and finally took video of the ladders being thrown over the wall into the ‘corner place’ with the help of a friend. I haven’t got the film because I misplaced it over Christmas while doing some filming in Costa Rica and unfortunately left it there. It was found and is very kindly being posted but hasn’t arrived yet.

 

 

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3rd Yr Journal – Week 7

In light of the concepts and ideas I talked about in my last entry. This week I did a lot of making. I made casts on Jacob’s Ladder by pushing terracotta clay into the L-shape where one step connects to the next one and others were made by folding clay around the edge of the steps.

I wasn’t sure what to do with these but I ended up taking the more interesting shapes to Brick Works in Penryn to get bisk fired. The more interesting shapes were the ones taken from the inside L-shape over the ones from the edge of the step. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of the shapes themselves because I pretty much took them straight to Brick Works. It will be a couple of weeks before I get them back but it is quite nice to take things somewhere to be processed, it’s an out of sight, out of mind kind of thing, giving you space to move onto other things and have a fresh perspective of them when you get them back. I am really looking forward to seeing them as solid objects that could maybe be fitted back into their places on Jacob’s Ladder; not sure yet.

I also delved into some mono-printing. I thought the mono-print aesthetic looks quite similar to archaeological drawing. Sketchy but inky. The nature of mono-prints always seem to look like they are capturing something fleeting, unrefined and rustic so I thought I’d try to depict some of the shapes from my pub table top rubbings using the process.

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The images above are just a few of the many mono-prints I did. Some of the mono-prints were done directly onto enlarged photocopies of photos I’d taken at the corner spot to try and combine the two narratives in my work. The lack of human presence of the corner spot over layed with the traces of constant presence found in pub table tops. The pub tabletop traces over laying each other, shapes of the corner spot taken from the photos overlaying the traces plus other combinations. The ones above are my favourite ones, some didn’t work so well, too much ink or the layout of the images came out wrong but it was nice to visualise the two parallel ideas in my work together and on one flat piece of paper. I think they did work well, and I really like their rough quality. The shapes almost look paganistic or religious in some instances. Spell like and symbolic but the local people are to blame for these almost mystical symbols taken from the tables – spells people don’t even know they are casting as they absentmindedly scratch away at the paint or calve doodles.

I did mono-prints over a couple of days, in and out of writing dissertation as that is demanding quite a lot of time at the moment, and now the prints like the walls of my studio space. So I am semi surrounded by the traces of pub goers as I attempt to make work inspired by their doings. There is quite a strange and interesting layering to all the elements I am dealing with and I am still trying to work out how they fit together whether or not they fit together at all. Maybe they never will ‘fit together’ and will just co-exist and that’s how they are meant to be in the world just like people are when they live in and around each other – we don’t necessarily interact or have much to do with our neighbours a lot of the time but cover the same ground almost every day – so close to each other in the comfort of our houses but separated by walls – comes down to barriers again.  Barriers and objects or entities that separate and segregate people from being together in the same place at once however leaving traces on the common ground that layer up due to the collaboration of their oblivious creators who come together in acts of doing so.  Neighbours coming together from different backgrounds, opinions and homes to obliviously create traces and things in spaces that they all occupy in fleeting moments.

 

 

3rd Yr Journal – Week 6

I have been thinking a lot about space this week. What a space has to say and what it stands for and communicates in its relation to people and the landscape. In light of this I decided to photograph the space next to Jacob’s Ladder initially from across the valley like last week but this week I shot on a 35mm 1970’s Praktica film camera. I then photographed the space from behind the wall looking into it and the surrounding area, then I jumped the wall so that I actually went into the space and corner itself. Finally from that spot that I have been looking at for a while from the other side of the valley, I photographed in the opposite direction back at the place I’d initially seen it from. It was like a journey of breaking through layers and physical and imaginary barriers to finally reach a destination. Visualising these barriers or layers similarly to how I visualised ripples and layers in the past; layers that circle a specific point. I experienced stages of finally getting to the unnoticed, space in between and once I got there I wasn’t too sure what to do. I’d made the journey and finally made it into the space I’d been seeing for weeks, finally bridged the gap between a distant place or land of wonder to actually standing within it; quite strange. So I just documented it through photography.

 

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All these concepts and thoughts seem to keep leading loosely to elements of migration. This coming to a new place imagined and seen from a distance, breaching barriers as the journey goes on and not quite knowing what to do once you are somewhere you’ve potentially imagined for a while. Another barrier present in my work was the presence of me sitting on the step on Jacob’s Ladder two weeks ago. I obstructed the flow of people on the steps and they unquestionably moved around me on that public place of passing. Like avoiding obstacles on a pathway. The place of passage offering obstacles or barriers that obstruct and change the flow of people passing through. I’m thinking maybe I could work with this concept and implement not me as a person but something else onto the place of passage that causes people to change their passage or root down the steps or on the pathway etc. I could insert my plaster cast copy of one of the steps onto Jacob’s Ladder and somehow document it’s effects of the public as they pass.

The most recent Frieze Magazine published this month (October 2018) is centred around decolonization and the migrant and refugee situation across the world. I have read most of the content and it has birthed more links between my work and the potential of it relating to these issues. Although I initially started off working with ideas on culture and the potential of it being an intangible archaeological palimpsest, my work has continued on these lines but has started touching on ideas on the displacement of  culture and people, movement and overlapping of people over time and space. Which is why the migrant crisis is becoming increasingly relevant but my ideas over all rooted in the idea of the overlapping of people in one place in general.

Last year, I watched ‘Human Flow’ a documentary by Ai Wei Wei which was an epic documentary film observing and exposing the reality of the migrant and refugee crisis aimed at revealing its horrors and truth to the West. It was incredible but unimposing, an observational, calm undramatic exposure to the situation that I believe avoided fetishisation of the crisis and any overly dramatic cinematography and music to enforce ‘wow factors’ so often found in Western cinema and film. It let the content speak for itself.

With the reading, thinking and watching in mind, it made me see the area of Jacob’s Ladder and the empty space next to it as a kind of miniscule narrative discovered in my direct surroundings that embodies similar characteristics as the wider, hyperobject of the migrant crisis or colonialism. I am finding larger important narratives in the smaller local physical and social landscape to understand and communicate the bigger picture is a respectable way to inquire.  

From what I can gather as a white person never having been to a refugee camp, they are portrayed as a kind of place between places. Like a place of passage between A and B just like Jacob’s Ladder is. A place of refuge or temporal settlement between two potentials just like the pub is. However, I am aware of the problematics of associating a refugee camp with a British pub, two extremely high contrasting locations, environments and histories.

It is interesting to consider the similarities with the palimpsest of culture in terms of refugee camps and places of passage. Places where people are brought together and create context, history and impressions on each other, time, space, objects and the landscape. Places of layers and a growing history and past. In a Frieze article called ‘Impermanent Inheritance’ by Suzanne Harris-Brandts, she suggests that “the camp is an artefact of the 20th Century” which does challenge the contemporary notion of the artefact and its parameters however does so under colonial circumstances once again. The West getting to decide the importance and unimportance of things and under it’s righteous identification system despite the impressive challenge of the notion. But it also caught my eye due to its use of its archaeological terminology.  Describing a social and physical landscape as an artefact follows suit with being able to describe culture under the archaeological term of palimpsest; it is just another example of challenging archaeological terminology.

This week I have essentially learnt that my work aims to understand the distant by exploring the direct. Discovering local metaphorical narratives that help to understand the stories and lives of people outside of my own.

In terms of practical ventures I’ve had this week, they are still in development of previous work and ideas.

I have begun moulding the shapes discovered and unearthed from my pub table top rubbings from clay, giving them a physicality and presence within a 3D context to see how they differ and change. So far I have started to view them as creatures and characters birthed from the palimpsest, palimpsest being the mother that bares stories, history and narratives through the marks and traces she allows in her dimensional space brought to life through the fingertips and presence of people. A space between people and the physical world around them, the palimpsestal dimension giving life to history and time through physical traces. The space between the person and their surroundings.

 

For some reason I have the desire to cast the shapes in a metal of some sort for a heavier more tactile, definite presence in reality rather than in the illusive, conceptual world I talked about above.

I also did some collages in attempt to visually combine archaeology with culture and landscape with a slightly scientific overall feel however I found it difficult to visually link archaeological drawings into images of people and landscape to make it aesthetically pleasing.

Human and Earth

This sculpture was something I created last term but it was mainly just to practise my wood-work skills. I took the shape of an abstract life drawing I did then recreated it using many layers of scrap wood, all individually sawn and sanded to mimic the curves of a human figure. At the time I became obsessed with this sculpture and it took me days to complete despite the corners I could have cut that would have been much less effort and time consuming.

Once finished and glued together I noticed my pleasure of holding it, there was something nice about gripping a heavy object around its thinnest part, it made me like the object regardless of its minimal relevance to my work.

I also became aware of its prominent layers of different colour and thickness, it reminded me of the layers of the planet, earth and sand. Simultaneously, since the evaluation of my last body of work and how interesting I found art relating to organic materials and the threat climate change has on our global, natural environment, I began realising the importance of this sculpture.

My research into the future of the planet increased and after watching the most recent series of Planet Earth with David Attenborough, I learnt that the “deserts are drying up and constantly expanding” meaning the polar ice caps as well. I had personally not given much thought to the sandy deserts of the world in terms of global warming and I found it quite scary to think that they are constantly expanding. It is a powerful and frightening concept that ‘the desert is coming’, and after watching a short film with the title ‘The Future Was Desert’ by artist Sophia Ann Maria, I really started giving the idea of sand a thought. In her film, she portrays the future as a hostile, sublime, lifeless place and draws inspiration from apocalyptic movies and ideas, using found footage and an eery commentary along with portraying our existence as something that has come from nothing and will soon return there.

I was highly influenced by Maria’s work especially due to the videos sometimes poor quality and production, it is raw and amature giving me confidence of my own to simple experiment with what little technical knowledge I have.

So, I got my hands on some oil sand which is what is used in the workshop for casting and combined my figurative wooden sculpture with a pile of it:

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Although very simple, thanks to the combination of the human presence from the sculpture and the organic earthy presence of the sand, it then gave me a platform to start thinking about the relationship humans have with the planet and there my project began.

 

Alone, lost ocean photos

I photographer a friend whilst swimming to try to capture the essence of the aloneness and lost reality of the sea but with the addition of a the conscious human experiencing it.

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I have found that the flecks of cold white skin and absence of the face share a vulnerability and mystery in the collection of photographs. The face of the person is the way we read and confirm the reality of them but by not seeing the face creates a mood of separation linking to my ideas of being lost and addressing the unknown of your surroundings. Also, feet and hands are at the very end of our limbs, the furthest body parts away from our hearts, most distant from the self and having these stand out being so white and so unprotected against the dark background of the ocean and black wetsuit evokes the same feeling of lost and obscurance of moment and place.