3.15. Exhibition Prep

Week 5 would see us complete our first exhibition. We knew from the start that it was scheduled for week 5, however because we had been so busy it really had crept up on us, and the deadline seemed very sudden. This was no problem, however – in fact it only motivated us more to self-organise and be creative.

The process of creating the artwork began from two main stimuli. The first of these was the space we had to operate in – we learned that the AV room was available for the exhibition. We had to respond actively to the space in order to create our work.

The projector we were given, situated on a white plinth in the small AV room. It came complete with a media player and remote (resting on top of the projector).

The room was entirely white and windowless, so could be made completely dark, and was equipped with a projector. To our studio group, it seemed like a lecture room or even a cinema. Considering a large portion of the group were working on video art, the idea of creating a cinema screening event took shape almost by itself. In deciding this, we immediately had a format in which to display our art, which would be more exciting than sharing one gallery space between the entire year. This way, our art would be part of an event, which brings it all together and encourages us to collaborate. We hoped the resulting event would be greater than the sum of its parts, and display our art at its full potential.

Although mostly pure and white, the room did have a few imperfections such as these plug sockets. We could potentially have done something to disguise these for the sake of refinement, but decided against it because the room was going to be dark for most of the event anyway – it wouldn’t be worth the time.

We swiftly began with the business of forming an artist collective. Trying not to over-think the name, we quickly decided on “The Wonder Collective” to reflect the otherworldly nature of our work.


We also decided to name the event “Maud’s Cabinet of Wonders,” in keeping with the theme of wonderment – “Maud” is the nickname/alter ego of our studio tutor, who organised booking the AV room. We dedicated the exhibition to her as a result.

The second stimulus for my artwork was the feedback I received from my tutor in week 4. The feedback was in response to a piece called “To Fall Asleep,” which, to progress from previous pieces, featured phosphorescent paint and a more musical, dramatic soundtrack. Effective though the piece was, I learned that the musical part of the soundtrack came across as similar to elevator music or spa music, which is too familiar and doesn’t help the artwork. Also, although the use of phosphorescent paint was an interesting experiment, in practice it was barely visible, which was a shame. That aspect was perhaps something to be re-visited. Following the feedback, I felt it necessary to re-imagine and re-evaluate the other aspects of the piece before experimenting with phosphorescent paint again.

With all this in mind, I set to work. In the past four weeks, it had become clear to me that the most effective piece I’d created was my first one this year  – “Motions.” The simplicity and mystery of this piece were extremely effective. Its weaknesses were its small scale, and lack of sound, so I aimed towards taking its strongest elements and presenting them in a large-scale piece with a powerful soundtrack.

Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 10.33.20
This is the Microsoft PowerPoint user interface, and this is how I created the three glowing ‘orbs.’ Each is made from four circles of differing colour (white in the centre, then yellow, orange and red) with a “glow” effect added. On the left, each circle has been highlighted.

Shown above and below is the beginning of the animation process. I created three glowing, moving orbs that were reminiscent of “Motions.” This is where I had a realisation – if I had three orbs, why not do three paintings?

Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 10.33.55
The orbs appear against a black background. Here I realised that this black rectangle is where the wall in the AV room would be – so I could arrange the orbs to be exactly where the paintings would be on that wall.

Three paintings it was. There must, I thought, be some kind of parallel drawn between the paintings and the orbs. Seeing the orbs in their black space, I imagined how they’d look when projected, and wondered if the orbs could each be projected onto their own painting to start off with. Better yet, could they return to their respective painting when the animation finished? The paintings would then serve as a kind of home, or dock, or resting place for the orbs.

These are the canvases I bought for this piece.

The paintings took shape in a very organic way. Taking inspiration from “Motions,” they were abstract, they were thoughtless, and they echoed the motion found in nature.

As you can see, I began mostly with dark colours, and built light ones on top of that.

At this point I’d like to pause and interject something: speaking in hindsight, colour has not been a large part of the process during this project. I have not spent a large amount of time considering what palette to use, or why. The emphasis has been placed more on movement, sound, and structure. Why not? Isn’t colour an important aspect of this kind of work? I would not say my lack of consideration of colour has been detrimental to the artworks, however going forward from this piece it would be interesting to dedicate some time towards deciding why I use the colours that I do.

Often, while painting, I’d start with two base colours as a theme, and build from there.

This being a light-based piece, I felt it important to have paintings with contrast; dark colours and light colours. This was one of the things that made “Motions” so successful – the painting had dark and light patches, so the moving lights would fade in and out as they moved around.

I would often leave the paint wet while I was working with it.

Hopefully the influence from nature and abstraction is clear. The swirling lines are inspired by clouds, waves, and the flight of birds.

Hopefully the main inspiration of “motions in nature” is clear here.

I often like to paint with diluted acrylic; that way it stays wet for most of the painting process. This makes blending easier; which diversifies the colour, and improves the general flow of my brush-strokes.

Again; starting with darker colours and building in lighter ones.

With the painting and animation processes complete, the final stage was to create a soundtrack. With week 4’s feedback in mind it was clear that an abstract, non-musical soundtrack was much more effective. As I was upping the scale of my work, I wanted to match this with a more complex soundtrack.

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 10.27.58
This is the user interface of GarageBand. The lines in each track control a specific aspect of the sound as time goes on; here either volume or pan. “Pan” means that the sound moves from the left speaker to the right speaker and vice versa as it’s played.

As you can see (above), I achieved this by taking a pre-recorded “delay sound” and remixing it. The delay sound was made by simply recording myself clapping with a delay effect added, and letting it stew in its own feedback for a few minutes, which created a very alien sound. The resulting sound clip could then be repeated, modulated, and structured into a three-minute-long abstract sound piece.


How could this sound piece be heard? Shown above are a pair of speakers I use at home, which after discussion with everyone else in The Wonder Collective would end up being used in the exhibition for both my piece and the cinema show reel. They are small, but in terms of volume and sound quality they pack a punch.

Consider this post as a diary entry describing the process of creation. Hopefully I’ve provided a glimpse into the methods I used, the thought process behind it, and the decisions I make. This post is about both our event as a whole, and my individual piece of work. You can read about our exhibition here, and my individual piece here.




Published by William Fowler

I'm studying Art and English Literature at the University of Reading. My work includes painting, drawing, installation, film, performance, writing, and music. My main influences are surrealism, psychedelia, philosophy, literature, op art, and Arte Povera.

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