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.
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.
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. I believe the three-dimensional nature of it allows for the element of audience participation that I discussed in relation to Doug Aitken’s work: the audience can let the light of the piece shine on them as it pans around.
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.
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.