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 Bubble

Recently in my journal, I discovered the significance of the balloon within my work after looking at some beautiful glass blowings in the shape of bubbles in a small gallery in Berlin.

There is no arguing that we are always increasing our involvement with technology and the digital world unless you are making an active decision to cut down. I visualised this through the idea of the bubble; everyone has their own bubble of cyber reality going on in their heads and on the net, these bubbles are getting bigger and thicker skins everyday and everytime we interact with digital media, we get more reliant on it and it become more and more important to our lives. As of this, I thought about a sculptural piece that would initially be a layer of paper mache around a balloon to get the shape and then I’d build up many many layers around this balloon to translate the thickening of it’s skin.

I decided against the layering idea because after about 2 layers of newspaper, the shell around the balloon could hold itself but still felt extremely fragile which began taking on a new context. Without much thought, I threaded in some of the wires I’d acquired from a skip then placed it at the end of a ridge of sand like you can see in the pictures, as if the sand was seeping out of the balloon.

Reflection: It was just a quick experimental piece but came to be rather relevant when I reflected on what I’d done. The thin layer of newspaper so obviously expresses the media. The thin empty, hollowness of the balloon shape that represents our digitally obsessed minds is coated by a layer of ripped up and stuck together often toxic news that feeds everyones minds the same information whether it’s true or not. Leaving a hollow inner that suggests we have nothing inside our cyber reality and thoughts, it’s just an empty space encaptured by popular media. And then there is the addition of the wires, reinforcing the role of technology in this argument. The wires weave in and out of the media feeding through the hollow thoughts of the person and entangling and encompassing them within its web like a spider catching its careless, uninformed prey.

The sand coming from the foot of this visual description is exactly what it seems – all this absentmindedness and control from the media and technology will result in a world of barren desert and sand.

 

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.

Toxic Cities of the Future

This is a development of my ideas surrounding the concept that the future is desert. It was not long after christmas that I made this piece all thanks to a piece of biscuit packaging. This packaging caught my eye, the shapes were kind of beautiful and if you were just given the piece of plastic you may not necessarily realise what it’s used for. Also, this very shapely piece of plastic shouted ‘pointless’. I mean something like that is so pointless, it holds biscuits in an ‘attractive arrangement’ just because it can, it doesn’t make them taste any nicer, it’s literally just there for show and tidy positioning. But I guess the biscuits wouldn’t sell if they were just chucked in a box, because obviously the business that made them would rather spend a little time on the packaging and get more money than using less materials right? This is an example of the sort of things we in the West don’t think about because it’s so normal. That wasn’t the best example of showing the extent of hilarity and pointlessness we humans reach but it was enough to drive this piece of sculpture.

Once I’d identified my interest in this piece of carefully moulded plastic, considered the waste pile it will be found in, in just a few days; along with all the other biscuit packets, plastic meat, veg, ice-cream, cheese, toys, electrical appliances, hair products containers and packaging, I imagined the negative space within these piece of manufactured plastic and began collecting more from the bins.

Above is the result of tightly filling the containers with the oil sand and basically making sandcastles with them.

Reflection: My intention was to spontaneously create a sculpture that acts as a foreshadowing for the future. Oil sand holds its shape really well but it is also extremely harmful to the environment. By using such a significant material when making a model of a futuristic settlement or even a city from this harmful toxic material, it raises questions to whether or not we are already doing so. The sand has been shaped from the waste of our consumerist modern day world, metaphorically speaking,  by taking casts from the negative spaces of these products is what’s moulding our future. What’s within our plastic packaging is what we can expect to experience in the future, and that is toxic sands molded from what little resources we have left and masses of rubbish we have created.

By representing our future as being made from oil (a resource so undeniable key to politics, economics and being able to live our comfortable lives) sand, I imply a dry, desolate, toxic future where there’s no life in the landscape, no fruitful colours or wild animals, just dry contaminated material, and what’s left of us, living in emptiness inside.

Oil sand is such a great material to use so I don’t want to abandon it within my work. I’m unsure as of yet how to use it again but it would be really interesting to create another piece of sand sculpture that further explores the possibility of shaping our future, as well as possible including other elements or materials that will enhance further what I am trying to portray.

 

 

 

The Wormery of Today

For some reason, I have always had a strange desire to create a wormery.

Simply because I have always imagined it to be very visually pleasing and in a way could act as a painting or drawing. The artist builds the platform and the worms make the art. It is my most recent example of challenging the notion of drawing and it is arguable better than what you’d typically imagine a drawing to be like; pencil or pen or a painting. I guess in a fairly innocent, experimental way I wanted to make an image (the wormery) that pushes the boundaries of what drawing is and attempt at making it more exciting by giving it a living energy and element of constant change. Imagine waking up every morning to a new image carved out purely by the worms, a non censored image made entirely from nature.

It was a great way of practising the skill of welding and learning a lot about the technicalities of perfect measurements, joining at angles, using different tools and machinery.

In addition to its physical appearance, I felt it was the time to make my wormery as I could link it to ideas in my work. The layering element of the sand and earth are direct representations of our planet and by involving objects or pieces of objects from our everyday lives in the layers, I am suggesting certain things about their relevance: the batteries represent our chemical useage, the glass our material use and waste, bottle cork the luxury we indulge in whilst using these resources, the pennies for the amount we focus on the economy, the watch to remind us of how little time we have to sort out these issues and the mirror to reflect on this.

Reflection:

Although I learnt a lot from the processes involved in making this piece, I am aware of its very literal translation from my ideas into the physical work and know I need to develop my concept and look deeper into object representation and language.

On the other hand, it is a very serious and important matter I am referencing here and sometimes it feels pathetic to make such a huge issue that needs addressing fast into a fairly pointless piece of conceptual art that may take me months or even years to come up with. Where as if I’d presented work as direct as this within that time, I could have opened the eyes of many people who could also help fight for the cause and therefore reduce the effects we have on the planet. It is a topic that everyone in the world needs to be aware of and start making changes to the way they live so I naturally consider the advantages of presenting something more obvious and simplistic to an audience that may not want to invest time into discovering and unpicking a piece of conceptual art that they don’t necessarily care about.

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.