Fragments and Latex – Part 2 – Prints

Continuing on from Fragments and Latex – Part 1 I rescued some of the early failures and instead of using actual objects I used ink jet prints to experiment with. The prints were on 140 gsm ink jet paper.

I applied two coats of latex onto the slates and then simply laid some of the paper before painting the next layer of latex – some I painted the latex first and then applied the prints – finishing off with a final two coats. One thing I deliberately didn’t do was to add a fabric structure to the pieces.

When I first removed the pieces from the slate after having applied anti fungal powder – I really felt like it was an epic fail – however after leaving the pieces overnight I changed my mind and really like the result.

To ink jet printed paper did not adhere to the latex at all – however it created an interesting effect where there were almost pockets in between the paper and the latex, almost entombed but not quite. The interesting thing for me is this is potentially a good way I can begin to construct an assemblage of fragmented archive footage and a good way of adding a layer of additional distortion to the imagery.

I wanted to start with some stitching using the leather thread that I had used in the past. I decided to use these experimental pieces as my sketchbook cover.

I concluded that although the end result was a happy accident I needed to experiment further with paper and latex.

I went through the whole process again but this time using laser prints and 80 gsm paper.

This time the paper did adhere to the latex however it ripped inside the latex providing me with another interesting distortion of imagery.

Reflection

These pieces began their lives as the latex and object experiments that went wrong. I had removed the object after layer 2 and decided to use print instead.

Initially I began with ink jet prints and a heavier paper. There is something in the ink that repels the latex and this created the interesting effects found on my sketchbook. Happy Accidents definitely.

Overall I think the best way forward with paper is laser print and a heavier paper – unless I am looking for the effect that I found with the inkjet paper.

I was also considering stitch at this point and stitched a sketchbook cover together which was somewhat successful and is giving me something to think about as this project moves forward.

Virtual Reality Workshop

I attended a Virtual Reality Taster Experience on Friday 25th January 2019 at Tape Community Music and Film run by Helfa Gelf. This offered the opportunity to experience to interact with a virtual environment using auditory, visual and haptic sensory feedback and explore the different software available for creating virtual reality environments.

Tutorial – 18/01/19

I found my tutorial with Jonathan today to be very constructive. To date I have begun several threads of experimentation which were up for discussion.

In the first instance we discussed the experimentation I had recently completed using latex. See Roof Slates and Latex.

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My intention is to upscale this experiment to create a much larger piece and the intention of bringing stitch back into my artwork. Reflecting on my previous piece using stitch in Evacuee I do not simply want to recreate the process and apply it to this body of work, I want to develop the thinking further. For the evacuee project, I used leather thread to stitch burnt photographs and acetate together to create an assemblage. My reasoning behind using latex – that I can use stitch to bring all the slates together into one larger piece and I can begin to introduce digital elements into the work with a focus on distorting the images. Distortion of memories, facts, truth, history but also physical distortion of the digital image.

We briefly discussed the distortion of imagery through photo transfer and Jonathan told me about Citrasolv a degreaser that can be used to transfer laser print. We also had a brief discussion about acquiring copyright free archival photographs though Library and Newspaper archives.

Having printed digitally onto thick canvas fabric, I have recently order some samples on much light fabrics, these samples I then intend to use to experiment on how the latex works with digital imagery on paper and digital imagery on fabric. Why lighter-weight fabric? This project in particular continues to bring me back to the time of my childhood – the reservoirs flooded around the time of my birth. Memories of home keep flooding back to me as I think of the homes that were demolished to make way for these reservoirs. When I think of my mum’s house and my nana’s house and what objects/fabrics signify them as different to home now and this would have to be net curtains. The days we’ve spent hanging the freshly washed net curtains on the line still linger in my mind – an act that is rarely seen nowadays. So I had two samples printed, one on Organza fabric and one on Net fabric with the potential to further distort and fade the imagery.

Although it had been my original intention to print onto net curtain fabric, I discovered recently that indeed this process had also been used by Christian Boltanski in La Traversée de la Vie and the 1994 piece Moved (Menschlich). This leads me onto a question that Jonathan asked me during the tutorial – Why Boltanski?

This is a question that I found difficult to answer – indeed I have found other artist that also reference that historical post war era – Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer. In previous work I too have referenced war and the effects on humanity. But I ask myself, is it really just this – why the effects of war in particular – or is it more than that – is the loss of our history or memories what is paramount. I know that for me in particular – I always have in the back of my mind that this could have been me – but for a change in circumstance. I  feel that events for all of us change and distort in our memories over time and creating art about these events is an act of remembrance and in a sense an acknowledgement of the people and the experience they went through.

Boltanski uses archival photographs, something which I am keen to explore further and the sense of anonymity from some of his works I find particularly evocative – no – we don’t know who all these people are – yet they are individual just the same as each and every one of us. Perhaps this is the inspiration I see in his work. On Artsy.net he reflects on the fact that although everyone is unique, we also disappear so quickly and the conflict we all have towards those that have passed over, hating death – yet loving and appreciating the deceased.

In the work Forgotten Children, I found anonymous photographs of children affected by the Syrian war and produced a series of Photo Etchings in an attempt to acknowledge and remember their struggle – recognising that these children are all unique and individuals just like every other person in the world.

We then discussed what had had the biggest impact on me from my recent Site Visits to Haweswater, Thrusscross & Derwent and Tryweryn. This would have to be the tree stumps that I discovered on the shores of both Thruscross and Tryweryn. The result of deforestation to make way for the reservoir, to me these tree stumps act as a metaphor for the memory of the history and events of the locations.

img_3174Having been cut down they show the memory of their demise, being soaked and dark brown and peaty showing the memory of being submerged underwater, their roots exposed reminding us that at one time they were living trees. Memories of Life, yet memories of the effects of man on the area. When I first saw them I felt as if they were crawling up the embankment and as if they were indeed alive. For something so static and so dead they still felt alive and full of movement.

As soon as I saw them I had this idea for creating a larger scale model which I could then get someone to wear and perform in at our next visit to the locations.

We had briefly discussed the fact that I felt my video work with the shirts What Lies Beneath was not stimulating and that I felt it needed some movement/performative element to add more interest/stimulation to the piece.

I feel that the tree stumps provide the perfect opportunity to gain this performative element.

Jonathan commented on the shape and colour of the tree stumps against the lightness of the shirts and the ground and that he felt this could be a way forwards with a movement based idea. He also suggested that I might introduce dance as a physical movement – something that could visually connect with the ground and the shirts. Possibly using slowness in movement with the movement of the shirts in the wind.

Another idea we discussed was also the use of a drone (which will be much to my hubby’s delight) and to be honest it was clear in the first site visits that drone footage would have been a really useful tool. Drone footage will provide a new perspective on the view of the sights an be able to gain a Just above the surface view point of the sites on my next visit.

Jonathan observed that a lot of what I am doing with this project is creating Metaphors for Memory – so many metaphors to create and lots of ideas to be working on. Feeling positive for the way forward.

Fragments and Latex – Part 1 – Objects

While on my site visits I collect some fragments of buildings that had previously been underwater- only small rusty metal parts and broken pottery that most would overlook – however in these broken remains I see the life that these objects once had and the representation of the lost communities and the collective memories having become distorted – no longer like their original state – a metaphor for our own personal memories that become distorted over time.

I’m still experimenting with latex and wanted to see what objects I could produce that show the essence of the space that the object once inhabited.

So I decided to use the slate as a base for these objects – not my best idea in terms of a well thought out process yet I continued anyway.

Some of the objects were and immediate fail moving as I painted them – yet I managed to gain some success with this experiment.

The more successful ones after three coats I covered with fabric before adding an extra two coats.

Partly here I succumbed to my lack of patience and removed them the same day – with some success but overall pleased with the outcome.

What I particularly like is that the latex has really taken on remnants of the rust and dirt on the objects and that this has lead the imprints to become metaphorical in their own right.

The less successful ones I rescued and continued with a new experiment with ink jet paper in Fragments and Latex – Part 2 – Prints

Still to experiment with a pouring method.

Reflection

I began this work early in the morning and my head wasn’t really in the right space, so I struggled to get the objects to stay still on the slates and in fact this reduced the number of final objects completed.

I would definitely find a way of fixing these objects to the surface prior to painting the latex on and indeed plan to experiment with pouring latex around the object so as to fix them in place early on.

I definitely enjoy working with latex and like the way that it takes on rust and dirt from the object you are casting.

The overall effect I am happy with and I like the effect of the space that the object had inhabited creating the essence of negative space akin to the work of Rachel Whiteread where she casts the space around the objects of her attention.

The most tedious and challenging aspect of this work for me is waiting for it to dry enough to apply additional layers and then to finally cure. This really challenges my lack of patience.

Fabric Samples

Having previously decided to investigate using lighter weight fabrics for my digital prints and an interest in creating a metaphor for the loss of homes and community in the context of collective and personal memory I have been thinking a lot about my own personal memories of home – particularly reflecting on my mums house (my childhood home).

The idea of using a washing line originally came from the idea that since the onset of the automatic washing machine and the ability to tumble dry our clothes washing lines are seen less nowadays. Something else I associated with home from those years 1960’s onwards was the plain old fashioned net curtain.

So I decided to order some samples of lighter weight fabric akin to net curtain material.

I ordered a chiffon sample and a netting sample. The images below are to give an idea of the fabric samples.

Before I received the samples I would have definitely said my preference would have been the net sample yet when they arrived the chiffon was noticeably more tactile and fluid and had an ethereal sense about it.

I decided to make good use of the samples anyway and used them again in the Fabric and Latex experiments.

Reflection

I think the best thing about ordering these samples is that I ordered several different types of fabric so that I know what will work the best. In actual fact, the one I thought would be the best – net fabric turned out not to be. The chiffon has a much lighter ethereal presence about it which lends itself to the historical nature of the subject matter. From here I intend to spend some time choosing the images very carefully.

The piece, Memory by Christian Boltanski displayed at the Kunstmuseum in Wolfsburg expands this further into an installation where the 1200 portraits printed on net fabric are continually in motion and the scene continually changing.

Research – Evocative Objects

I have been reading the book, Evocative Objects by Sherry Turkle and am fascinated by the meaning we place on objects around us, making the seemingly ordinary and insignificant possess greater significance in our lives. Certain objects can bring a sense of reminiscence for us, evoking memories and recollections from our past. The meaning that we place on specific objects can change as time passes and our memories fade. This book is a collective of stories where people are providing a narrative relating to familiar every day objects that they have pinned this sense of remembrance onto.

Using theory Turkle explores the role that everyday objects play in our inner lives and how this affinity and associations we possess for our own evocative objects brings the outer world into our inner world connecting objects to and preserving our relationships with our memories, bringing thoughts and feelings and melding our ideas and passions together.

There are six theoretical themes in this collection; Objects of Design and Play, Discipline and Desire, History and Exchange, Transition and Passage, Mourning and Memory and Meditation and New Vision. Bringing together a collection of personal stories about objects with strong connections to daily life that are then further reflected on and related to theoretical texts.

Jewellery invoking emotions and feelings about the immigration status of a mother and daughter. A student who identifies through the car she is driving who finally changes her Ford Falcon to a Station Wagon when she becomes a mother. A child with a bunny that can read her mind. A rock reminding a widow of the presence of her deceased husband. A sense of oneness between a gentleman and his glucometer akin to the oneness we feel for our modern technology. A grandfathers life-long association with his SX-70 Polaroid camera and photo transformation leaving his family with a representation of familiar people and places on his passing. A collection of salvaged photographs recovered after a fire.

Most objects have this value to people because of the circumstances in their lives around the time that the object was part of their lives. Yet some seem to have a more natural, uncanny resonance with memory, recognizable, yet unfamiliar, creating an ambiguity with what is known and not known about our inner self and the outer world.

The Knot Lady, as she was formerly known observed a student who was subconsciously using knots in her Knot Laboratory to process her feelings and emotions experienced during a difficult time in her home life, the divorce of her parents. Feeling torn between her mum and dad, she expressed these feelings of being pulled in two different directions through her knot making and also began to overcome some of these emotions at the same time. An expression of her own inner reflection on the outer world and circumstances around her. This particular story is paried with a reference to the Paris archives La Fondation Le Corbusier, the experience of visiting the archives in person to reflect on the archived drawings and their materiality and their subsequent digitisation. Observing the archives online lead to a greater sense of anonymity and a lack of connection with the physicality of the archive. The physical essence of the painstakingly hand-drawn drawings covered with directly fingerprints and smudges on the really thin paper was lost when viewed digitally.

An MIT student describing her laptop as irreplaceable may not seem an out of place ideal in today’s society. Yet her associations with her laptop may not be what would first come to mind. Her early romantic relationships were intrinsically associated with her laptop, in particular being the medium for the initial connection with her first love. So much so that any interaction with her laptop would remind her of this person supporting the idea that we can imbue an object with emotional value, bringing reminders of a person or situation whenever we associate with that object. In this particular case, the student already passionate about computers with early romantic associations is naturally reminded of love when she interacts with her computer. A reference is also made to another student with “romantic” ideals who spends all his time at his computer, but not to avoid the outside world, seeing the computer as a pathway to a web of social interactions and relationships and potentially a way to fall in love again.

The associations we subconsciously create with objects can subtly alter over time as circumstances, emotions, feelings, thoughts and opinions change and develop. We use these associations with the familiar to connect our inner being with the outer world. We can forget how these objects came to be so important or natural in our lives, yet these natural objects have historical significance to us as our lives progress.

In my current artwork I am creating associations and connections with seemingly inanimate objects to reflect on memory; collective, personal, historical, social, known, unknown, fading, changing and assumed in an attempt to express the relationship between the experience of the inner self and the outer world.

Bibliography

Turkle, S. (2011). Evocative objects. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Roof Slates and Latex

I previously had an idea to latex the roof slates and decided to put this idea into action.

I had in my mind a larger sculptural piece of work and saw potential in using the slates I had previously gathered to create this piece. I also had a desire to investigate potential projection surfaces and latex could possibly provide me with a suitable surface to project onto.

As part of this task I also wanted to estimate how much liquid latex I would need to create a large sculptural piece and some estimation would be required as to the number of layers.

As well as some liquid latex I also purchased a cheap decorators drop sheet from my local B&Q to cut up and use as a reinforcing material.

I set about beginning to apply latex to the roof slates to see how successful this might be. Having laid out the slates on my kitchen table, I started applying thin coats of latex to the tiles and decided after three coats that it would be a suitable time to add the reinforcing material.

I had the idea that I would ultimately stitch the slates to a larger piece of strong canvas material. so I used the edge of the drop sheet to provide a strong supporting edge that I could then stitch to the larger canvas material at a later point in time.

Half an hour between coats and once the reinforcing material was applied I left an hour between coats. I only applied one extra coat after the reinforcing material – bearing in mind that this was an initial experimental stage. In total – 5 coats. I then left the latex to cure overnight.

The next morning I then began removing the latex from the slates and for the first experiment with these slates I was delighted with the results. I really like the fact that the latex has taken on some of the material from the slate and the effects that were produced.

I then laid out the latex slates in the manner that I had in mind for the larger scale piece. I’m happy that this will scale up really well.

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At this stage I had half a litre of latex left so I repeated the process on six of the larger slates. Left the latex to cure and then removed the latex from the slates. I applied anti fungal talc to all of the slates to ensure that they don’t go mouldy and no longer stick to each other.

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The next day I reflected further on what I had produced. Not all of the slates would prove to be useful at this stage. If I decided to create a larger piece that effetely appears like a roof top the larger pieces are more effective for what I have in mind. I’m happy with the number of layers required to produce what I need.

I estimated that it takes 1 litre of liquid latex to produce 12 large tiles which would be approximately 1 square metre. Knowing this will help me to calculate how much latex to purchase when I decide to upscale.

I’m really keen to produce the larger piece which I have in my mind to be approximately 3 metres long by 2 metres tall – 6 square metres and 72 slates in total – six litres of liquid latex.

I only have six of the larger slates at the moment so my estimation would be 2 days per square metre – 12 days of latex prepping in total.

Reflection

The best thing I did was to go back and read up on applying liquid latex again as it had been some time since the last time I did this. This gave me the confidence to just get on with the task in hand.

It was a good idea for me to latex all the tiles I had as this enabled me to be more clear about which tiles would be most suitable and what I would need to do to upscale.

Because I read up on this subject again, I remembered to use anti-fungal talc and not just ordinary talc – saving the latex from becoming mouldy in the future.

I possibly could have put more thought into the process prior to starting and that way I may have produced only the larger tiles from the outset. With hindsight, this would have meant that I’d have had more useable pieces at this stage. I also feel that although the reinforcing materials was appropriate in this case, if I was working with different objects (for example the fragments I have collected, which I intend to work with) then I would need to use a lighter weight reinforcing material.

This task will definitely have an impact on my future work as I have intended for a long time to reintroduce latex into my practice and definitely see ways of introducing stitch into this work as well. I have several 3-dimensional ideas which I feel latex would be an appropriate material for.

The greatest challenge in completing this task is the one thing that always raises it’s head and that is my lack of patience – I so wanted to hurry the work along to see the final effects – however managed to reign this in and wait albeit slightly impatiently for the curing to take place.

I didn’t find this task boring or tedious at all, in fact very therapeutic and calming. If anything the production of 72 tiles is going to be a bit repetitive and in the future producing a larger single latex work may be more stimulating.

All in all – very happy with this piece at this stage.

 

 

Fragments – Part 1

I have always been a bit of a squirrel, collecting random stuff that has little meaning to other people. Whilst on my site visits I had collected rusty nails, guttering and a bolt along with much broken pottery.

Looking at these fragments I have collected from the various locations, I decided to put together some video experimentation that would hopefully provide me with additional inspiration as to what to do with these fragments.

First step in my process was to take photographs of the fragments I had collected. Using my iPhone, I piled the fragments together and begin photographing and filming close up shots and footage of these fragments – again in both monochrome and colour.

I then shot footage of water running into my kitchen sink.

Following this I combined footage that I had of both the above to produce the following effects.

Further to this I was also considering footage that I had shot previously of half submerged trees at Tryweryn and decided to bring this footage into the mix. I really like the effects I achieved with this.

Reflection

Organisation has to be the lesson here – and go with the flow. I combined all of the video sequences for this work in the same Premiere Pro Project as the What Lies Beneath work. As the work has developed and grown for both – the project has become unwieldy. This is not normally how I would work – I’m usually very good at separating work pieces until they need to come together.

I fully intend to continue this thread of experimentation as I’m really enjoying putting this together. So far, my favourite sequence is the one that includes the trees, however I’m really liking working with the water effects and want to continue this further – thinking about recording more video footage that relates to water, shooting the footage in an abstract way.

With hindsight, I would have shot footage of the fragments in situ, however at the time I was just too busy gathering fragments. Sometimes I just get caught up in what I’m doing and need to learn to take a step back (at the time) and not just during times when I reflect.

More time spent experimenting with Premiere Pro is on the cards here! Stimulated and Excited about the outcome of this line of experimentation.