Simulacra

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Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus

Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus is a 2003 Documentary by director Andrew Douglas. It discusses the intersection between Christianity and country music in the USA, particularly in the Deep South areas, and stars the country musician Jim White.

It depicts an often overlooked culture of Americans who have very little in the way of money and education, and it depicts the abject poverty and high rates of drug use that occur as a result. To me, a person who in the scheme of the world has had a privileged life and extremely good education, the documentary depicted a whole other world.

Giving this other perspective to people who watch the BBC is so important. The way Douglas has done it is genius. He presents this world in a way that is honest, and yet beautiful.

Made me think hard about my film work

Made me think about the importance of subject

Made me think about the importance of soundtrack

Aberration – Performance

 

Aberration was a performance piece created in collaboration with Rachel Glover. As the first piece of art I have created this term, I felt it paid to be experimental and free in the way I created it, because as long as the ideas are there, I know refinement will come as the term progresses. For this reason I chose to do something I very rarely do in my practice: collaborate with another artist.

As per the feedback I received at the end of the autumn term, I was beginning to engage more with the idea of the image. This compelled me to start documenting the world around me, including filming things on my iPhone. I began to look more closely at my environment and think about what it did for me aesthetically. I also thought about how the choices I made when filming something affected the response it triggers. I began to realise it is a very complex process, where every little factor can alter the outcome.

The feedback we got was very unexpected! The main points:

  • Might come across as a discussion of race – the painted figure could be interpreted as having afro hair, maybe the uncomfortable nature of the piece could reflect race tensions. The race element wasn’t our intention and we do not intend to impersonate a black person with this performance – we think that this issue could be removed by painting the void figure dark blue instead? We intend the figure to be genderless and race-less.
  • Gender – the body of the figure and the costume removes any indication of gender
  • Relationship between performer and projection – performance element has more impact than sound/projection. Performer’s movements were seen as very successful – it works with the sound/projection being more of a background element, however it might be interesting to explore louder, bass-heavy sound and a larger projection. Would give more impact.
  • Different setting overall would give more impact.
  • Imagery creates sense of other-worldliness; would be interesting to see more of it; think more about what each image says and what the structure of the film does.

Everything And More, by Rachel Rose

Rachel Rose – Everything and More.

At the start of the Spring Term, our whole studio group were recommended to watch an interview with the artist Rachel Rose about her video, “Everything and More.”

It was a fascinating watch; not only is the artwork very hypnotising but hearing her talk through her ideas was thought-provoking.

“Sees her work as a way for her to think through mortality.”

“Distinctions between life and death”

“Living and non-living”

Each artwork of hers thinks about ideas of mortality through a different perspective. Everything And More is centred round “an astronaut’s experience of his body within the void of outer space.”]

The films Interstellar and Gravity (both 2014) were key influences for this work.

She recalls a state of being “de-conditioned from (…) the environment around me. The sidewalk felt alien, traffic felt alien, my own body felt alien”

Also influenced by a radio interview with astronaut David Wolf. Hearing this interview triggered the same out-of-body experience for her, and felt these experiences were triggered by sounds.

Rose makes the link between the nothingness of space, and death. Interviewed David Wolf herself and was inspired by his experience of being around this nothingness and then returning to Earth. She says “being as close to that nothing as possible brings out the possibilities of everything else in life.” She links the nothingness of space to the sublime.

She makes sublime videos out of everyday objects/materials, thereby relating the sublime to our everyday lives.

“I chose to frame this experience of out of body/sublime/space through the everyday as a way to think through how the everyday can be a way for us to access the sublime.

“Jewel” – A Performance by Hassan Khan

This performance is what I aspire to achieve with my artwork – it is more than the sum of its parts.

Near the beginning of the spring term, our tutor showed this performance to the whole studio group. It wasn’t aimed to inspire anyone’s practices in particular, rather to inspire everyone in different ways – and there certainly are many different things one can take from Khan’s performance.

VIVA Presentation Jan 19

As part of the assessment for this module, each of us had to do a 5-minute presentation on our Autumn art practice, including finished artworks and artistic influences. This was a fantastic way of visualising how my ideas have progressed, and working out what my key interests are.

 

Below are links to my VIVA presentation! Here it is as a PDF for maximum compatibility…

viva pres

…but to view the videos it is best viewed in PowerPoint format, linked below!

viva pres

Artist Statement Jan 19

My work this autumn term can be summarized as a series of installations where light interacts with physical objects. The first four pieces were abstract, colourful animations projected onto abstract paintings, creating the impression of waves, dots, or streams of light washing over a canvas. The animations were very simple and were created using PowerPoint, and the paintings were created using acrylic or phosphorescent paint. They were on display in a pitch-black room for maximum visibility. My week 5 exhibition piece, “Celestial Spheres,” extended these forms by projecting an animation over three abstract paintings. After week 5, the paintings were substituted for a rotating sheet of Perspex, which added a 3-dimensional element to the work by reflecting the projected animations onto surrounding walls.

The ideas for this project have evolved and changed as it has progressed, however the idea that started it off was the motion of birds flying. When I watch birds flying, I feel a sense of awe and of the sublime, which inspired the idea to convey the beauty of flight in my practice. I had no intention of trying to re-create nature as it appears, but instead convey the abstract concepts of motion and awe. For me, concepts are much more important than surface detail.

Through making physical work, the ideas shifted from nature to the physical properties of light. The way light interacted with physical objects became the most interesting element, and these ideas gave rise to my experimentation with phosphorescent paint and use of sound. It also influenced my use of Perspex. For me, the ideas and the media are very closely linked because each inspires development in the other. As a result, every decision about the outcome is considered and deliberate. This includes choosing the right setting for my pieces – as I learned, this aspect is vital.

My research has consisted of primary research, including photographs and videos of birds flying, and secondary research, chiefly researching artists. I have studied the work of Studio Drift, a Dutch artist collective, because like me, they work in installation, and their works give an ethereal sense of awe that is inspired by nature but does not attempt to copy it. I have also researched several artists who also work with light, of which Anthony McCall’s “Solid Light Works” have informed my practice greatly. They introduced the idea of light as something immersive that can be interacted with. I have also been inspired by the films of Studio Ghibli, which are beautifully animated and often explore concepts such as supernatural powers, the environment, and humanity. At this point in my practice, I am keen to keep exploring how to respond to spaces and investigate what visual effects I can achieve with light. Some of the feedback I received for my recent work suggested that viewers often prescribe a narrative to my pieces, and I believe it would be interesting to now explore these narratives.

“Wandering Star” at the Technicolour Dreamboats Exhibition

This post documents my final piece of the Autumn term, “Wandering Star.” This was the piece I submitted for our self-organised external exhibition, “Technicolour Dreamboats.” This post aims to display the piece in video and image format, to summarise the progression of ideas this term, evaluate my piece, and consider where my practice can go from here.

 

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This is Wandering Star in the corridor of St. Luke’s Parish Hall. In this view, you can appreciate the darkness the location provides, despite the warm glow coming from the end of the corridor, and how bright the piece subsequently is.
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The piece is projected onto brickwork, however the brick pattern has little effect on the animation.
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This view is a great example of how the animation is affected when the perspex is at a certain angle. The light shines through at multiple angles, creating a doubling effect. This is what makes the piece an exploration of how light interacts with objects.
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You can see on the perspex a very small representation of the animation itself. In fact, you could say that the animation is turned into 3 by the piece – one is in the perspex, one is on the wall, and the third travels around the room.
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Here you could potentially liken the piece to a solar eclipse, which is an interesting effect…

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Here all three manifestations of the animation are visible – the small one in the perspex itself, the one on the wall just next to it, and the size-changing reflection that whips around the room, approaching on the right.
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This view captures the perspex as it is almost side-on to the projector, almost splitting the animation in half. You can see the light shining through each edge of the perspex.

How did I get here?

My practice this term can be summarised as a series of installations where light interacts with physical objects. At the start, my work was inspired by nature; specifically the graceful motion of birds flying. Through the process of designing, making, and researching artists, the ideas have shifted more towards how light interacts with physical objects. Through observing my work, I have become fascinated with how the physical properties of something affect how light shines off of something. Through researching the work of Studio Drift and Anthony McCall in particular, I have realised I am drawn to art that is simple, yet effective. McCall’s work contains the element of the viewer interacting with the light his work produces, which I have tried to channel in this piece – I encourage any viewers to move the perspex how they will and see how it affects the light. Through this research and making, the ideas in my work have shifted from motion in nature to the physical nature of light.

Evaluation

The piece existed in a darkened corridor for maximum visibility of the light. A projector sat disguised in a white, cuboid-shaped box, and shone an animation on a piece of perspex which hung from the ceiling. The animation was a twinkling white orb with a spinning halo around it, with black orbs flying across it.

For me, a significant aspect was that the light of the animation appeared extremely bright in the dark space, enabling maximum visibility for the interaction between light and perspex. The piece was simple and dynamic; it was a process. When observing the finished piece for the first time, I noticed how the animation is effectively tripled: a small version of it can be seen in the perspex itself, another version is projected onto the wall, and a third version flies around the room in an orbit. This displays the physical properties of the perspex – it is both transparent and reflective, and the result is that the animation becomes more interesting than it would have been on its own. This

Having looked now at this piece in the context of the autumn term, I think that the most important success of this piece lies in its simplicity, because this is part of my original intention. I was intrigued by the simplicity of Studio Drift’s work and how it is worth more than the sum of its parts. This phrase stuck with me throughout the autumn term, and I feel I have achieved it with this final piece. I now understand the importance of the making process when it comes to inspiration – before, I assumed that ideas come from research and the artwork springs from that. Having completed the term and seen all the outcomes, I now realised it is sometimes the other way around. Sometimes, making physical work gives you ideas and inspires you to research certain things. I have also significantly improved my understanding of animating and would like to keep going with it.

I feel there are some elements that could be more successful. For example, the perspex was suspended from thread and could only spin if pushed gently. In a piece where most other elements look deliberate, this element doesn’t, slightly spoiling the effect. If I did it again I would invest in some kind of motor to make it spin constantly. I would also, ideally, either choose a different location or respond to the location better, because I don’t feel the aesthetic of the parish hall and the aesthetic of the piece go together. I shall take these thoughts forward into my spring practice.

Next Step

My ideas shifted this term via the process of making, so I would like extend this process into next term by putting more emphasis on making work. I feel this is how my ideas are most likely to develop effectively. Over the Christmas break, I watched a great deal of Studio Ghibli films, which really inspired me in how beautifully they are animated and how well they represent ideas of nature and the sublime. They inspired me to think more about the animation process and what I am trying to say with my work. I look forward to seeing how my ideas progress.