London Fine Art Trip

I decided to make the most of the opportunity for a visit to London and stay for two days. After researching current exhibitions, I wanted to visit the Space Shifters exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, the Tate Modern and join the group from college at the Victoria Miro to see the Yayoi Kusama exhibition. These two days became a moment in time where I was able to see artwork that alters the perception – definitely a mind altering two days.

Hayward Gallery

My first stop was the Space Shifters exhibition at Hayward Gallery. Warned as I entered, that the exhibition is design to make you feel disorientated, the Space Shifters exhibits certainly met that objective. An awe-inspiring collection of work from 20 international artists with eye-catching sculptures and installations throughout.

Alicja Kwade’s piece WeltenLinie (2017) is a steel structure that uses double-sided mirrors and cleverly situated objects. I found myself tentatively navigating the structure, not always sure that I was looking through the object or at a mirror. The structure seemed to become almost a landscape in its own right with my perception of the space being somewhat greater than my perception of the objects.

img_1589A turntable originally used by the American military and repurposed into the Untitled Parabolic Lens by Fred Eversley. The process used by Eversley to create these parabolic sculptures intrigued me. Using a potter’s wheel to create moulds partially filled with liquid polyester that forms a symmetical curve once cool and hardened. Being able to look through this piece as well as at this piece gave the potential for different perspectives that would be continually changing depending on the light and the people around the piece. I really did feel this was a glass piece when I first saw it – reminded me very much of a prism that I had as a child.

The main reason I wanted to attend the Space Shifters was to see Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama. A collection of stainless steel orbs as an installation. First displayed in the Venice Biennale in 1966 as a large-scale intervention, with the plastic mirrored spheres sold for two dollars a piece. A surreal landscape of glistening reflective orbs I found myself drawn into the reflective nature of the piece, attempting to identify markers in the room within the reflective surfaces.

Fascinated by architectural structures and gallery spaces, I always enjoy visiting the Hayward for the purely enjoying the space that this gallery embodies. The Square Tube Series by Charlott Posenenske blended effortlessly with the architecture of the building, so much so that it would have been easy to overlook the piece as part of the building. Prefabricated galvanised steel units that at first impression seem to have always been there, as part of the fabric of the building – yet on closer inspection they follow routes that lead to dead ends – open into nothingness and simply do not make sense – subverting the space that they inhabit.

Having seen the piece 20:50 (1987) by Richard Wilson when it was previously exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery, I was not even sure I would queue to see this piece. However, in the end, I did queue and it was very worth it. The two viewings gave me completely different experiences. At the Saatchi Gallery, I had viewed this piece from a balcony above that gave me the essence of the reflection in the engine oil, but little else.

At the Hayward, however I unwittingly walked along the inclining narrow passageway into the centre of the room I immediately experienced a sense of vertigo. This was strange for me, as it is not something that usually bothers me. I really had to struggle in my mind to remind myself that I was standing on the floor and not on the edge of a parapet far above the reflections of the ceiling around me, even if that is how it felt.

The Sky Mirror, Blue (2016) by Anish Kapoor dominates the outside sculpture terrace. I had plenty of time to watch this piece as I queued for 20:50. This concave mirror turns the space around it upside down and appears almost like a portal into a different dimension as we can look through the piece at the reflected skyline above.

Tate Gallery

In particular, I wanted to re-visit the Artist Room for Joseph Beuys, however found a few interesting things to see whilst I was there.

The end of the Twentieth Century (1983–5) by Joseph Beuys an installation of basalt rocks roughly measuring between one and two and half metres in length with a cone shaped hole drilled into one end. The holes smoothed and voered in felt before the previously removed polished basalt placed back into each of the holes. Prior to Beuys death in 1986, the work had not be installed.

This work suggests a relationship between the natural ancient world and the new world that we live in today. His ecological concerns during this final stage of his life may have been of influence in this piece.

img_1949I happened upon The Clock (2010) installation by Christian Marclay quite by accident. Prior to viewing the piece I had no real understanding other than it was a film called The Clock. I soon realised that this montage of film was running in local time and I then realised that the film was a 24-hour piece. The film covers many thousands of film clips collected from decades of cinematic history. I became quite intrigued. Not only by the fact that the film serves as an accurate way to measure time, but by the painstaking research that must have taken place prior to the film being produced. I sat for 45 minutes watching this film and could have quite easily sat for many hours – quite an achievement for someone who gets bored easily.

The Between Object and Architecture

The Between Object and Architecture exhibit at the Tate modern shows a collection of sculptural pieces in a way that is more engaging for the viewer. Given my interest in architecture, the geometric shapes and configurations were interesting for me to see.

The artists in this exhibition used materials found in the everyday buildings around us; some materials used were from construction and others from building sites and the street. The aim was to provide a more direct encounter with the sculptural objects for the viewer.

The Passing Winter (2005) by Yayoi Kusama was the piece that I wanted to see prior to visiting the Between Object and Architecture exhibit. I was intrigued to know how the process of making for this piece.

A glass cube placed on top of an x-shaped pedestal, which is lined on the inside and outside with mirrors. Each side has three circles cut into the glass revealing an infinite world of circles in the middle of the cube. The circles seem to float with the surface altering depending on the position of viewing and the light in the room.

I really enjoyed being able to interact with the Pavilion Suspended in a Room I (2005) by Chrisina Iglesias. You are encouraged to navigate through the latticed panels providing a sense of being enclosed and detached from the rest of the room. Initially the panels appear to be matting suspended from the ceiling, yet on closer inspection words begin to appear in the panels. These words are taking from the science fiction novel

Rendezvous with Rama (1973) by Arthur C Clarke. This piece relates to a series by the artist known as Celosia (Spanish for jealousy or slated shutter/blind).

Drawn to the piece, Stack (1975) by Tony Cragg, and fascinated by the every-day materials used to create a solid cube by packing them together, wood, magazines and building materials making the cube personify the layering found in geological structures.

A suggestion towards our relationship with the natural world and the impact of man on nature, using the man made to represent something you would see in the natural world.

Victoria Miro Gallery

I was very fortunate to visit “The Moving Moment when I went to the universe” exhibition by Yayoi Kusama at the Victoria Miro gallery. A collection of works from the My Eternal Soul series, a series of bronze sculptures (pumpkins and flowers) and the large mirrored infinity room.

On arrival we were ushered three at a time into the “Infinity mirrored room – my heart is dancing into the universe, 2018” to spend 60 seconds in the otherworldly installation. The inifinity room with mirrored walls filled with paper lanterns with changing coloured lighting inside. Not enough time to fully appreciate this room and feel the effects that it might have on you, however even just that short space of time was enough to make you feel you had stepped into another realm.

The Bronze Pumpkins exhibited reference the cultivation of seeds by her family and her fascination with the natural world. A plant that appears repeatedly throughout her work, appearing in prints, sculptures, installations, paintings and environmental pieces.

In the garden were the painted bronze Flowers that speak all about my heart given to the sky (2018).

img_2238Upstairs in the gallery were paintings from My Eternal Soul series. These large-scale canvases now form part of a collection of hundreds of works. They are surreal and colourful with a strong representation of repeating patterns reminding me almost of ancient populations and shamanic symbology with geological structures and patterns.

Having not painted for some time, these paintings have inspired me to pick up a paintbrush again and continue to paint from my imagination, akin to the paintings of my earlier years.

Parasol Unit

I was especially interested in the exhibition by Heidi Bucher combining some of her latex works created during the last two decades of her life including films that document her whilst working with the latex pieces. Known for her casting of room interiors, objects, clothing and the body using latex skinnings. The skinnings create a lasting physical impression of something that held a memory for her. What I found interesting was the process of lining the objects with a gauze or mesh before adding the liquid latex and removing when almost dry. The addition of the gauze creates a stronger final material for display.

Site Visits – Tryweryn

Reconnecting with the space at Tryweryn was always going to be an interesting time. Although I have visited this location many times already to take site photography, each time has been different and we have found more signs of the history of the location.

This time was no exception, the water level being extremely low has exposed much more along the shoreline and new perspectives were gained from visiting the site and being able to walk where we had been uable to previously – below the previous water line.

Our first stop was to visit the beach where we first took photographs, the water line had dropped roughly 50 feet or more and it was very eerie walking across the rocks that had previously been underwater.

We walked across the dam to the other side where we were able to walk below the overflow for the reservoir, along the shoreline there were signs of a previous life with what looked like farmers fencing drifting off into the water – previously we had not been able to see this.

At the top end of the reservoir nature had begun to reclaim the land, unlike Thruscross which was very sparse and muddy, vegitation had begun to grow on the land below the waterline near to the church at Tryweryn. The water line was so low that what I believe to be remain of a bridge was somewhat visible though not quite as much as pictures I had seen when the water level dropped in the drought of 1996.

At Thruscross it was very clear that deforestation had taken place to make way for the reservoir, yet at Tryweryn there were only a few trees that had been cut down leaving the tree stumps to remain underwater, only to become visible when the water line dropped.

What was very noticable at both Thruscross and Tryweryn was the absense of wildlife below the water line, almost like the creatures of the area knew to stay away

 

 

Site Visits – Haweswater, Thrusscross & Derwent

Having considered my intention to reflect further on the communities displaced to make way for a reservoir, I decided to investigate further so that I might expand the scope of the project. There are 570 reservoirs in the UK with the largest being Rutland Water. There were many reservoirs created in the 1800’s and early part of the 1900’s, all create to meet the increased meed for water supply through the increase in population and the development of industry. I know that there were changes approved in parliament that made way for the easy construction of these reservoirs, and these parliamentary bills are something I need to research further so that I can fully understand the process that allowed the building of these reservoirs in the first place.

The following reservoirs, I have identified as sites where communities displaced to make way for the reservoir to meet these increased water needs.

  • Tryweryn Reservoir – village of Capel Celyn, Liverpool Corporation, 1965
  • Lake Vyrnwy – village of Llanwddyn, Liverpool Corporation, 188’s
  • Haweswater Reservoir – village of Mardale Green, Manchester Corporation, 1935
  • Thruscross Reservoir – village of West End, Leeds Corporation, (1966
  • Ladybower Reservoir – village of Ashopton, Derwent Valley Water Board, 1943
  • Derwent Reservoir – village of Derwent, Derwent Valley Water Board, 1943

I am also interested in the Elan Valley Reservoirs created by Birmingham Corporation to provide water to Birmingham this may well become an extension to this project. I have applied once for a residency in the Elan Valley and hope to apply again next year (2019).

Having the need to spend some time at a location for me to get a sense of the physicality, I decided to organise a weekend of site visits. A lot of miles, but well worth the time. Over one weekend we visited Haweswater, Thruscross, Ladybower and Derwent Reservoirs where I collected photographic evidence and had the opportunity to gain the essence of the energy around each of the reservoirs. Continuing this, I soon plan to re-visit Tryweryn and Lake Vyrnwy too.

To form a link with my previous work, we set off armed with my whirly gig and some plain white shirts used previously a clear reference to the domestic reasoning behind the creation of these reservoirs and was a good creative link for me to use to help with my thought process.

At Haweswater, it was very clear to me that the Water Authority did not want people to have access to the reservoir. However, the reservoir walls built a long time ago had somewhat disintegrated, we jumped over to record some footage. Whilst I was at Haweswater, I felt very on edge and unsettled, feeling very nauseous too – more reflection needs to take place for me to understand why this might have been.

 

It was clear that the water level at Haweswater was low; however, it did not appear to be that low. We did not drive to the end of the reservoir where we may have seen some of the remains of the village – at that point, I was under the impression the reservoir levels would be too high to see anything.

It was only when we arrived at Thruscross; I saw how low the water had become for some of these reservoirs. We visited Thruscross twice over the two days. To be honest, Thruscross on paper was the reservoir I was least interested in – I had not completed a lot of research for here and believed that the reservoir filled long after the community had left. However, a discussion with someone who remembers being in West End as a child revealed a different story. A community was indeed, displaced by the reservoir here and bodies exhumed in the process.

Upon our first visit to Thruscross, we crossed the dam and made my way down to the edge of the water where we set up and took some photography. On the way back up to the water line I noticed there were many fragments of pottery and rusty pipes, along with walls and foundations – signs of buildings and daily life in a place where life had not existed for a very long time. At the time, I felt this was the site of the mill but later discovered that this had been a sailing club in the past.

 

The next morning we returned to Thruscross with the intention of walking the opposite shore to where we had been the day before and this yielded some interesting insights. Signs of buildings and the village of West End along the shore, and the further we walked towards the point where the river meets the reservoir it was clear that this was indeed the site of the village and the mill. We were able to gather some interesting footage and spend time in a place that is usually submerged.

 

To make way for the reservoir many trees were cut down along the shore. These trees are clearly normally below the water line. However, the effect of being underwater has washed away the dirt around them exposing their roots and they still clearly show the marks from being cut down, some fifty-odd years ago. I found these tree stumps fascinating as to me they reflected a memory of a life that existed prior to the reservoir that had simply and brutally been cut short/down. I have much inspiration to work with sculpture here. They remind me of creatures that roam the woods and appear like they are crawling out from the water – Wildlings!

 

 

Our last visit of our trip Ladybower where the water was exceptionally low and remnants of Ashopton very visible although not easily accessible, however when we arrived in the Derwent valley, where the Derwent reservoir has reduced to just a small river surrounded by foundations and remnants of the village of Derwent that was. What appears to be whole building is visible, I think this may have been part of the church and many people were there wandering about in the mud and sludge at the base of the reservoir. What was apparent to me was the vastness of this reservoir and the fact that the recent rain has done little to replenish the water levels. I set up my trusty whirly gig where it was not too muddy and shot some photography.

 

This visit has made me very excited to visit Tryweryn again as I am sure the water levels there will still be low too. The footage I have taken is both in colour and in monochrome, however at the moment, I feel the monochrome is more effective as it gives a feeling of nostalgia and timelessness, a long since forgotten or seen past.

Experimenting with Binaural Audio

An important part of the process I undertake when creating artwork is for me to have an empathic connection to the work that I create. Even when I view artwork, the question that is uppermost in my mind is “How does this make me feel?”. When viewing artwork, I listen to any physical and emotional responses in my body to help me determine a response to this question.

Previously in my video work I have manipulated sound to a certain extent and in particular attempted to collect audio that represents the emotion of the subject matter that I am representing through my artwork.

After a really interesting and inspiring visit to the Liverpool Biennial and a continuing discussion with my tutor, Jonathan, I am keen to develop my skills further when it comes to working with audio, in particular in an attempt to invoke a physical or emotional response.

In particular, I am interested in Binaural recording, where two microphones are placed a distance apart (similar to the distance between your ears) to record different sounds through each microphone so that when played back through headphones, you get the sense of the sound moving around you as each headphone plays a different audio track.

Through my many years of association with Yoga and Meditation, I have long since been aware of Binaural Beats. Binaural Audio and Binaural Beats are not the same thing at all. Binaural Beats are a method of producing two tones of different frequencies (Hertz) when played back so that each ear hears a different tone. These tones cause a physiological response, where the brain perceives a third tone, and the difference between the two mathematically and begins to produce brainwaves at the new frequency (Hz).

For example, if the tones used were 140Hz and 100Hz then the brain would produce brainwaves at 40Hz, the mathematical difference. Also different tones are said to stimulate different brain states, so any tones produced can be set to target the different brain wave frequencies:

  • Alpha (7.5-14Hz) – deep relaxation
  • Beta (14-40Hz – Waking Consciousness and Reasoning
  • Theta (4-7.5 Hz) – Light Meditation and Sleep
  • Delta (0.5-4Hz) – Deep Sleep
  • Gamma (above 40Hz) – Insight

I am also interested in ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridien Response) which is a response to an experience that is akin to a low-level euphoria, bringing feelings of positivity and associated physical responses such as static or tingling. Why this is significant here is that it is usually stimulated with audio or visual stimuli. I personally associate my “How does this make me feel?” question with very similar responses.

The other area of audio recording I am interested in is recording of the imperceptible sounds around us, sounds that happen all the time that we never really hear because of other louder sounds that are at the forefront of our hearing. For this, I will need a sound booth and have invested in the materials to make a homemade sound booth, including a huge box of egg crates.

In the first instance, I decided to spend some time re-acquainting myself with Audacity and using audio from previous videos and some audio recordings that I have made for this experimentation. I used my iPhone for these recordings and covered it in some cases to produce a muffled sound.

Firstly, I reviewed some interviews of people affected by the events at Tryweryn and noted some of the comments that they had made. I then recorded some ambient sounds and whispers of comments made in the interviews that I had seen. At this stage I am not actually recording bin-aurally, I’m just manipulating two mono tracks in Audacity so that the audio in each ear can be heard separately.

It intrigues me the different sounds that use the repetition of words/phrases, so I firstly recorded a couple of tracks where the repetition is the same phrase used in the audio track.

I then moved on and combined different phrases in an attempt to expand upon my first few recordings.

I was also considering at this time the ambient sound from Tryweryn and created the following piece using recordings of the wind and water and incorporating a fade in/fade out.

I then set up a couple of Binaural Beats experiments, the first said to train the brain to produce Beta Waves – (between 14 and 40 Hz) at 20Hz.

With the following track said to train the brain to produce Alpha Waves (7.5 to 14Hz) at 10Hz

With the following track said to train the brain to produce Gamma Waves (above 40Hz) at 50Hz.

I then added Binaural Beats tracks to the Wind and Water Audio track.

Finally I created an audio track that included the whispered phrases, added binaural beats (not yet sure if this is necessary or relevant – but I did it anyway) and added a track that had noise of the bulldozers moving in.

Retrospective

The best thing I did during this experimentation was to learn about the brainwave frequencies and the tones required to achieve each of the associated states of being. I also learned about how the brain attunes to the mathematical difference of the audio playing in the left and right ear. This enabled me to extend the experimentation further on this occasion.

The absence of a proper binaural recording device and a sound box definitely hindered my progress with this and I intend to purchase a microphone and make a sound box so that I can progress this experimentation further.

This work was stimulating, yet challenging as it is a somewhat new addition to my skillset. I did not find this boring or tedious at all. As I find this concept of manipulating audio very interesting, I am keen to experiment further with this.

Aims and Objectives

06/11/2018: A general discussion around Aims and Objectives was had via Skype in preparation for our Project Proposal writing.

What are Aims and Objectives

Aims are the general intentions/statements of the research which give an overall impression of the project. What you hope to achieve.

Objectives are the steps that will be taken to achieve the overall intentions describing how the outcomes of the project will be achieved. How you are going to achieve it.

Aims and Objectives should be clear and concise, relate to each other and provide something to measure the success of the project against at the end.

Aims Objectives
General Specific
Strategic Tactical
Less More
General Statements Specific Targets to meet Statements
Overall Goals Steps required
Intentions Help you to plan, clarify and prioritise
Reason for doing something How you are going to do it.
Clear and Concise – not vague
Passive Active
Reflecting on action Reflecting in action

Learning Objectives

Can be divided into three criteria, Knowledge, Skills, Attitude. Examples of Verbs used when establishing Learning Objectives:

  • Knowledge: analyse, arrange, calculate, circle, cite, classify, compare, contrast, compare, define, describe, match, differentiate, group, identify, interpret, itemize, label, list, match, name, outline, plan, record, revise, select, solve, state, Give examples, evaluate, recognise
  • Skills: adjust, assemble, chart, collect, use, draw, employ, establish, illustrate, imitate, interact, locate, maintain, measure, modify, make, organise, rearrange, return, set up, practice, manipulate, master, fit, perform, demonstrate
  • Attitudes: accept, adopt, advocate, approve, assess, challenge, characterise, choose, criticise, defend, evaluate, formulate, judge, justify, manage, model, persuade, recommend, resolve, select, specify, value, reassure, empathise

 

Research – Heidi Bucher

In October 2018 I was fortunate to have the opportunity to view an exhibition of Heidi Bucher’s large scale latext skinnings at the Parasol unit in London some 25 years after her passing. Mainly of architectural surfaces these latex skinnings eerily hanging in the space giving the impression of the architecture that the latex had been moulded around.

Described by the Parasol Unit as “simultaneously both a physical encapsulation and a liberation from the memories that these things held for her”  https://parasol-unit.org/whats-on/heidi-bucher/ these latex objects provide a glimpse into the buildings that hold the memories of her past.

I found most interesting the video of the work she produced in the psychiatric sanatorium in Kreuzlingen “where Anna O, one of Sigmund Freud’s first case histories, a tragic figure at the dawn of psychoanalysis, was treated.”  https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/sep/23/heidi-bucher-parasol-unit-london-review

I am drawn to her work perhaps because of the parallels I can find with her practice. Her desire to use textiles as a method of visual communication and the contrast of the fluidity  and femininity of fabrics in comparison to the strong masculine materials of bronze metal or stone. Using latex with mother of pearl pigments to represent the structured architecture of a building adds a juxtaposition to the meaning of her work. Using the feminine to represent the masculine demonstrating and her own experiences and memories.

Bibliography

Cumming, L. (2018). Heidi Bucher review – memories are made of this. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/sep/23/heidi-bucher-parasol-unit-london-review [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Elephant (2018). The Visceral Work of Heidi Bucher, as Seen by Her Sons – ELEPHANT. [online] ELEPHANT. Available at: https://elephant.art/visceral-work-heidi-bucher-seen-sons/ [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Parasol Unit (n.d.). Heidi Bucher – Parasol unit. [online] Parasol unit. Available at: https://parasol-unit.org/whats-on/heidi-bucher/ [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

 

Research – Christian Boltanski

This post forms part of my initial research for my project proposal.

Christian Boltanski’s fascination with collective memory, humanity and the effects of time has become of interest to me, the lives of people we will never know, the anonymity and uniqueness that shows through every story. Ordinary and commonplace, yet having significance – what mark do we leave on the world. I perceive strongly the communication of emotion in his work and this is something that I aspire to in my own artistic practice.

His use of found objects provides a direct connection with the subject that cannot be ignored, especially the pile of discarded jackets and the sound recordings of the human heartbeats in the piece No Mans Land (2010). I am always intriguied by pieces like this and they make me begin to question the piece more deeply. In this piece Who did these jackets belong to? What life experiences have they witnessed? Whose hearts are beating? to name but a few.

My own curiosity often leads me to the ordinary and the everyday. I find there is so much inspiration in the normality and the transient nature of our daily lives. The piece La traversee de la vie (The crossing of Life) speaks about ordinary lives and people whose names and identities cannot be traced and appear somewhat forgotten. Yet this piece for me invokes the same level of questioning, Who were these people and what were their lives like, what did they live through.

Anonymity is a strong element in Boltanski’s work as he explores historical events and circumstances through the ordinary people bringing to the fore something that we generally tend not to think about and that is that we are only here for a short time and that we are easily lost through time once we are gone.

Boltanski reflects on what he calls small memory where large memory is that recorded formally and small memory is the little ordinary aspects of life that very often go unnoticed and unpreserved, yet show our individuality and uniqueness. The preservation of the small memories important given they can disappear for good once a person dies.

In an interview with Timeout Shanghai he reflects on his unanswered questions about what embodies a human life and how you symbolize and presevere the essence of such – even digitisatiion, comparing the internet and social media to a large collective storage memory, retaining our prescence even after our passing.

His questions go unanswered, then, and remain all the more pressing. What’s a human life? Can you symbolise it? Preserve its essence? Can you even digitise it? After all, internet and social media can also be said to serve as a collective ‘storage memory’. ‘Absolutely, I’m very interested in computers…I’ve been thinking about doing a project on Facebook. It’s funny with Facebook, how people are kept there forever. I have people requesting me as friends, while I know they’ve been dead for years.’

http://www.timeoutshanghai.com/features/Art-Art_Features/55645/Interview-Christian-Boltanski-talks-life,-death-and-his-retrospective-at-the-PSA.html

Bibliography

Archives and Creative Practice (n.d.). Christian Boltanski — Archives and Creative Practice. [online] Archives and Creative Practice. Available at: http://www.archivesandcreativepractice.com/christian-boltanski/ [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Artsper.com (n.d.). 10 Things to Know about Christian Boltanski | Artsper Magazine. [online] Artsper Magazine. Available at: https://blog.artsper.com/en/get-inspired/10-things-know-christian-boltanski/ [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Artsy.net (n.d.). Christian Boltanski | La traversée de la vie (2015) | Available for Sale | Artsy. [online] Artsy.net. Available at: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/christian-boltanski-la-traversee-de-la-vie [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Duggan, B. (2010). The Persistence of Memory: Christian Boltanski and Memory. [online] Big Think. Available at: https://bigthink.com/Picture-This/the-persistence-of-memory-christian-boltanski-and-memory [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Gobin, A. (2018). Interview: Christian Boltanski talks life, death and his retrospective at the PSA. [online] Timeoutshanghai.com. Available at: http://www.timeoutshanghai.com/features/Art-Art_Features/55645/Interview-Christian-Boltanski-talks-life,-death-and-his-retrospective-at-the-PSA.html [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Guggenheim (n.d.). Christian Boltanski: Documentation and Reiteration. [online] Guggenheim. Available at: https://www.guggenheim.org/arts-curriculum/topic/christian-boltanski [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Hopkinson, S. (2018). Christian Boltanski: Art Beyond the Veil – ELEPHANT. [online] ELEPHANT. Available at: https://elephant.art/christian-boltanski-art-beyond-the-veil/ [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Ley, A. (2013). “Christian Boltanski and the Disruption of Memory” – Written by Allen Ley (Carleton University). [online] VAULT REVIEW. Available at: https://vaultreview.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/christian-boltanski-and-the-disruption-of-memory-written-by-allen-ley/ [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Marian Goodman Gallery (n.d.). Christian Boltanski: Éphémères – Press Release | Marian Goodman Gallery. [online] Mariangoodman.com. Available at: https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/christian-boltanski-ephemeres/press-release [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Moroz, S. (2015). Christian Boltanski: the artist counting the seconds till his own demise. [online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/oct/26/christian-boltanski-interview-faire-part-marian-goodman-gallery [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Penelope1967 (2011). Les vies possibles de Christian Boltanski (audio en francés, subtitulado en inglés) PARTE 3. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://youtu.be/T8cn5im8sPU [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Searle, A. (2010). Christian Boltanski: It’s a jumble out there. [online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/jan/13/christain-boltanski-grand-palais-paris [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Tutorial – 02/11/18

Today’s Tutorial with Jonathan has been really useful as to date I have been going through quite a lot of confusion with regards to my way forward and my Project Proposal.

I began by explaining to Jonathan the point where I’m at now. Prior to starting the MA I had been intent on my project being based upon Women in Work and I originally wrote a proposal for this as a theme. However in one of the recent group chats Jonathan had asked me if I always worked to a theme and this raised for me the fact that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the Women in Work theme I was planning.

I decided to take time to reflect on my work over the last two years in particular and review my motivations for creating the work that I had to date. See UAL First Year Symposium for an overview of my work to date.

In short I had been focussing on the Social Political elements of particular historical incidents that had occurred locally that I felt I was not yet finished with and that I had only just scratched the surface of. My final piece of my degree, about Tryweryn had been the most potent for me personally and had affected me on a very deep level. Through my reflection I began to realise that the subconscious connecting theme throughout my work was about memory both cultural and personal, historical yet up to date and that in my photographs I had been attempting to show unearthed memories in the landscape. I created the following mind map to try and make sense of my much confused thinking.

We then discussed my perception that I have yet to develop my own particular artistic style and whether in fact this is important at all. From our discussion about this it became apparent that perhaps the important thing is the motivation/trigger that stimulates the artistic process. For some this might be using specific materials that the art then flows from the act of using those materials.

For me, I feel an empathic connection to a situation or event that I need to make art about. I then research the subject and decide on what materials would be appropriate for each project.

Perhaps I was looking for some clarity in my work that I had not yet seen. After my discussion with Jonathan I can now see that there is a clarity in my process and that is enough, that a particular artistic style is not always necessary and has been a distraction to me. I already know I’m a maker and that I see the digital realm as an extension of any work that I make and now I’m more aware that I do have a clear process – even if I couldn’t see it until now.

Whilst we were talking about motivation, it also became apparent that to be able to visit a location or site that relates to the work I am making is very important to me – being able to sense the physicality of the landscape and the emotion and feeling of the events that have gone before.

Moving on to the subject of memory we discussed my proposed artists that I am considering for contextual reference; Christian Boltanski, Rachel Whiteread in particular, and also Anselm Kiefer, Mona Hatoum, Joseph Beuys and Louise Bourgeois. We also discussed triggers of memory such as smell, location and sounds that often pull back memories that had been long forgotton. Jonathan mentioned the piece Keicheyuhea (2017) by the artist Aslan Gaisumov on display at St Georges Hall for the Liverpool Biennale 2018 and her rememberance of a life gone by brought about by the sight of her homeland.

We then spoke about my intention to bring my more successful elements of my practice forward to help me with my project enquiry. These would be introducting stitch and photography, akin to the piece I produced for the Elfennau Exhibition – Galeri Caernarfon from my previous degree.

I also mentioned the use of sound that I am going to experiment with having been expoosed to Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) sound recordings at the Liverpool Biennale 2018. ASMR recording is used for the hidden sounds of everyday life that often go unnoticed, for example whispering and the flicking of a piece of paper.

I feel using these sounds with the site specific experimentation that I intend to do will potentially provide me with a method to invoke feeling or emotion, not just through the visual communication but through an auditory method also. I definitely am keen on the idea of producing multi sensory work and my experimentation will include elements of this too.

Along with ASMR sound recording Jonathan mentioned Binaural sound recording and Directional sound recording and I plan to research these further so that I can experiment with them.

Very happy with today’s tutorial – positive and excited and now ready to begin experiementing.

Unit 1 Project Proposal – Draft 1

Displacement, Loss, History, Culture, Memory

What is the question or issue?

Investigate the analogies that can be found in the landscape that can reflect issues of collective and personal memory displacement and loss reflected in the surrounding environment.

  • Can the influence of man in the landscape be portrayed as an analogy for the social issue of displacement and loss on a personal level?
  • Can the effects of dereliction and abandonment in the landscape reflect the inner experience where memories become lost or faded over time?
  • Can changes in the landscape provide an analogy for changes in memory?
  • Can things such as location, smell, sound, objects help us to remember?

Context

Who are the key artists/designers/writers or other creative individuals related to your project?

Initially I intend to reflect upon the artist Christian Boltanski. Areas of intest apparent in the work of Christian Boltanksi are Life, Death and Memory with much of his work focussing on the Holocaust and blurring the boundaries between fiction and truth. Initial Pieces of interest are La traversée de la vie (The Crossing of Life), 2015, Départ (Departure), 2015, Animitas (Blanc), 2017, Arrivée (Arrival), 2015 and La Bibliothèque des coeurs (The library of hearts). Parallels can be drawn between Boltanski and my previous work I intend to reflect upon. Boltanski produces work that documents historical events, he focuses on abandonment or past tragedies that bring awareness to the divide between human documentation and historical facts. These somewhat forgotten events help us to reflect on the present and becomes a method of unification for the audience, so that we can witness social change on a broader level.

I am interested in the artist Rachel Whiteread because of the way that her work elicits memory for the audience by casting the spaces around everyday objects she suggests the space that has existed around things. She explores not only memory but loss and remembrance too, remembering our history and noting the relevance that our history still has in our modern world. Her work brings about many references to our history (cultural, social, industrial and political) and helps us to understand this through our own perceptions and in relation to our place in our community. Particular pieces of interest are House, Ghost and Tree of Life.

Lesser known artists are Shona Illingworth, Debbie Smyth and Briony McDonaugh. Shona Illingworth and her piece Lesions in the Landscape which focusses on the artists own experience of amnesia and the comparison with the landscape of her homeland, St Kilda. Debbie Smyth, a textile artist known for her large scale 2D and 3D pieces using thread as a drawing medium.

Previous enquiry on the following artists will be reflected upon further: John Akomfrah, Lamia Joreige, Mona Hatoum, El Anatsui, Anselm Kiefer, Joseph Beuys and Louise Bourgeois.

What are the key ideas or developments that are central to your area of interest?

My aim is to continue with a previous line of enquiry into issues that relate to displacement. In reflecting further on the current work to date, I hope to delve deeper into the context of historical factual research and the human memories that become altered over time.

The need for a sense of belonging and identity is inherent in all of providing security in knowing who we are and where we came from. As we grow the landscape around us changes, our impression of such and our memories also become fuzzy and unclear. Significantly, massive change in an environment can be brought about through the influence of the governmental decisions of the time and parliamentary bills. In their wake landscapes are destroyed for the greater good and all that remains are clues that allude to the environment that once was. The way that we view and interpret the landscape and environment around us can provide us with a metaphor that represents our identity and the loss of associated memories through the passing of time and changes made in the name of progress. Our understanding of the history of the land that we inhabit also affects our interpretation of our environment.

Methodology

How will you go about researching your question?

Digital Media is a constantly expanding industry sector that provides an effective method for visual communication and can be used to represent the experience of collective and personal memory and associated loss and displacement seen in the landscape through observation and recording. Observation and recording can show the beauty in what remains and the strength and courage to go on with our lives that exists in all of us in our human experience. Using Digital Media can also help to bring historical archive material into the awareness of the here and now. Archive material is often long lost and forgotten – yet it provides us with an important point of reference to reflect against in our current environment.

What means will you use – interviewing, visiting particular collections, processes or production for making.

Archival Research will be gathered utilizing a variety of methods. Initially, the internet will be used to identify exactly where statistical information that relates to historical events. I may also attempt to contact community groups of survivors in the hope that I may gather information on the human experience of such events and the essence of human memory at this point in time. I would hope also to gather some photographic material with the survivors that I potentially may use. I will also be to produce a Facebook page where I can begin to solicit responses from women on social media. The Facebook page will also form an ideal tool to share findings that occur during the lifetime of the project. Where possible I intend to visit sites of these historical events again in the hope of gathering further photographic and video evidence.

Resources

Are there any particular resources or equipment that you plan to use?

My hope is to experiment a lot throughout the duration of this course. I feel that as an artist at an early stage in my career, I have the opportunity to build on a more cohesive contextual artistic practice. My experimentation will extend to but is not limited to – modifying archive photographs with Photoshop and Premiere Pro, printing outcomes onto different fabrics for display, re-introducing stitch into my artistic practice – integrating methods with other artistic techniques.

Experimentation with photography, distortion, assemblage, fabric, stitch, found objects, video and sound is anticipated bringing together what I perceive to be the best of my previous work so that I can move forward with my technique and process.

I am also considering recording any visual findings using both a Polaroid and a modern digital camera. Using the polaroid camera will provide me with a means to produce a seemingly archival record of my findings. The material recorded with the digital camera will provide me with the means to harness modern technology to work with the imagery in a more up to date manner. Video will also be recorded and potentially this video material may be exhibited using projection.

How will you gain access to this equipment?

I already own a modern digital camera and a portable projector. I plan to purchase an original refurbished Polaroid camera from the Impossible Project. This organisation acquired the last Polaroid factory after cessation of production in 2008 and continue to produce Polaroid film and cameras.

A recent visit to the Liverpool Biennial has sparked an interest in ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response) sound recording and I hope to experiment further in the area of sound. For recording and playback, I am currently investigating required technology and cost of purchase.

I intend to rent shop space locally on a short-term basis whenever I am ready to test work in an installation environment.

Liverpool Biennale 2018

This page documents our visit to the Liverpool Biennal on the 18th and 19th October 2018.


Walker Art Gallery

Our first stop of the trip was the Walker Art Gallery for the John Moores Painting Prize the UK’s longest running painting competition having started in 1957 and run for 60 years.

King and QueenThe winner Jacqui Hallum with her piece King and Queen of Wands, an ink painting on cotton fabric. The piece is inspired by a plethora of imagery taken from tarot cards, illustrations in Art Nouveau childrens books, medival woodcuts and leaded glass windows.

I was initially enthralled by the lightness and the fluidity of the piece and intrigued by the essence of childlike storytelling that left me wanting to know more. Always impressed by work on fabric it was refreshing to see that this competition is embracing painting in the broadest sense.

One HundredI was also very taken with the piece called One Hundred Harvests by Liz Elton. Again I was initially struck by the etherealness of the fabric and the tactile nature of the piece as it floated airily with the movement of air in the room. Made from water miscible oil on recycling bags stitched together with silk thread, it references our relationship with recycling and the way we discard our food resources so easily.

St Georges Hall

The piece Reenactment of Heaven by Inci Eviner is a piece that was commisioned for the Liverpool Biennale and considers the position of women in heaven, dismissing  perceptions in societies where women bow to that greater masculine authority. A unique film that distorts one’s perception, based on a series of drawings and recording using a green screen the lower part uses many props and masks that make you question reality. Interesting use of two projectors and the impeccable cross over between the projections in the centre.

Reenactment of Heaven

KeicheyuheaThe work Keicheyuhea (2017) by the artist Aslan Gaisumov (who also has the piece People of No Consequence (2016) on display at the Victoria Gallery and Museum. This piece shows the artists grandmother returning to her homeland 73 years after the Soviet deportation of her people to Central Asia with her community the Chechen and the Ingush people. A very moving piece where the impact of what had happened in this lady’s early life very apparent. Watching her as she comes to terms with the enormity of her return as memories of her life here come flooding back.

The screening in the courtroom at St Georges Hall is a film called Two Meetings and a Funeral by Naeem Mohaiemen reflects on the political coalition of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) and shows where conventient alliances were made during the struggle for UN Recognition by the Bangladshi and the Palestinian decolonisation and the Portuguese in South Africa.

Open Eye Gallery

The work Nigerian Monarchs by George Osodi depict regional rulers from Nigeria in their ceremonial regalia that now represent a long lost power. Referencing the colonial past of Europe and that some of these ruler’s ancestors were kings at the time of slavery. An attempt to redress inaccurate represntation by photographing these rulers in their stately and dignified manner. Personnally, I would have like to have seen photographs of their wider community with these images.

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Tate Liverpool

The Intermediates (2015-ongoing) by Haegue Yang is an overwhelmingly immersive environment that refers to both traditional arts and craft and modern production methods and questions the definition of paganism. Recordings of wildlife from the British Library, Suggestions of folk tradition, such as the maypole and a wallpaper that brings modern hsitory and pagan tradition together is most definitely an onslaught to the senses that brings about much afterthought in an attempt to make sense of the many representations.

I was keen to see the work Your face is / not enough (2016) by Kevin Beasley which gathers NATO issued gas masks, microphone stands and megaphones into an installation of unique tribal-esque masks made from pigmented foam and other materials. These items that reflect control of an overriding authority alongside individual or collective acts of protest, power and protection.

The Cheyenne-style headresses whose feathers are carved from the soles of Nike trainrs are a fascinating collection of sculptures. Made by the artist Brian Jungen, the pieces Warrier 1, 3 and 4 allude to pride and determination in the indigenous communities, and reflect the effects of colonisation and remnants of conflict.

I was especially moved by the piece, The marks left behind (2014) by Duane Linklater. In fact initially I felt so repulsed that I didn’t even want to go into the room with this installation. However, I put on my brave boots and in I went and although I didn’t stay long it was long enough to gain some insight into the fur trade in Canada. The skunk pelts very much suggest the life of the animal and their spirit that some believe remains even in death, a consideration on cultural loss, social anmesia and family identity in the context of current and historical lives of the indigenous people. A psychologically very powerful piece which had a huge impact on me. I didn’t photograph this piece.

Crosby Beach

Another Place by Antony Gormley is an installation of 100 cast iron sculptures – cast in his own image extending over a 3km stretch of beach, all looking out to sea towards the North Wales coast, in a seemingly silent moment of contemplation. This was the end of our first day and the perfect time to view the sculptures, just as the sun was setting.

Blue Coat

lionVariations on a Ghost by Abbas Akhavan references the destruction of ancient sculptures depicting the Assyrain deity Lamassu (half man-half lion). This piece is constructed using a technique call dirt ramming where soil and water are compacted together to produce a sculptural element. This piece will deteriorate and change over time developing a hard grey stone-like crust suggesting the deterioration of the destroyed sculptures over time.

Fact

I particularly wanted to see the work by filmmaker Agnes Varda at Fact. A three changel video installation that portrays a poetic outlook on the temporality and the flow of human life. The three films are Documenteur (1981), Vagabond (1985) and The Gleaners (2000) and I was most drawn to the film Vagabond which instigated a strong emotional reaction in me. The films question the effect images have on our personal and collective memory. One’s own experiences in life will definitely have an impact on our perception of this video installation.

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

The visit to Liverpool Anglican Cathedral was quick but interesting in particular with the Message of Love by Tracy Emin and a quick visit to the Whispering Arch. Definitely a must for another visit when I have more time.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

Part of the large project, Time Moves Quickly, the commision by Ryan Gander of five bench link sculptures behind the Liverpool Metropolital Catherdral reconfigured a model of the modernist cathedral by Frederick Gibberd into simplistic building blocks. These were then reassembed by schoolchildren of Liverpool and reproduced large scale to create these five benches.

Victoria Gallery and Museum

Whilst at Victoria Gallery and Museum we visited two specific pieces:

  • People of No Consequence (2016) by Aslan Gaisumov
  • Tightrope (2015) by Taus Makhacheva

People of No Consequence is by the artist Aslan Gaisumov who also has the piece Keicheyuhea (2017) on display at St Georges Hall. This is a recording of the first meeting of a group of Chechen and Ingush survivors from the Soviet Deporation of 1944 to Central Asia. The film proceeds to document the survivors as they take their seats in preparation for this meeting.

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The piece Tightrope shows the fifth generation tightrope walker Rasul Abakarov, transports 61 artworks across a tightrope from one hilltop to another in the mountainous region of Dagestan. He attempts almost impossible feats in his quest to move the artworks and one is not entirely sure that what you are seeing is actually real.

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Great George Street

Banu Cennetoglu has installed The List at Great George Street, originally compiled by United for Intercultural Action and distributed by The Guardian on World Refugee Day on 20th June 2018.  Tracing information that relates to the deaths of more than 34,000 refugees and migrants in Europe since 1993.

This piece of work has fascinated me, not only because of the sheer scale of the list, but because of the meticulous archiving and the story associated with the list and the subsequent removal and damage at the Great George Street in Liverpool.

the list