Mid Point Review Reflection

All the comments offered have provided me with much opportunity for reflection and a deeper understanding on how this work is being perceived. This exercise of the Mid Point Review is really going to help me when I talk about this body of work in the future. I have left it a few weeks before reflecting on these comments, so that the experience of the Mid Point Review is not so fresh in my mind and I have had time to inwardly process the comments before I reflect on them further.

I’m not sure what those living would think on seeing this work. Having spent most of my life concerned with what others think about me, my artwork has provided me with a method to be without thinking of any judgement from elsewhere. When I’m making work I move into a space that is not focused on what other people will think. This helps me to create the best artwork that I can create at the time. In my mind, if there is a reaction from the audience then the art has served its purpose.

I am becoming more confident in my critical analysis and I have been influenced greatly by some of the works of Christian Boltanski. I definitely feel that this work is still in the experimental stages and requiring to be resolved and refined further. I am hoping to focus further now on the creative intention and the visual communication process which I feel may enable my question to become more clearly defined and less inconclusive/more complete.

I had not considered the romanticism in the imagery and perceived the washing flapping in the wind almost as a harsh reality reflecting the domesticity of the consequences resulting from the building of the reservoirs.

Interesting comment about the project seeming almost complete as my own perception is that there is much more to draw from this body of inquiry.

The sense that the physicality of these villages still remain underwater alludes to the hidden aspects of the consequences of these events – hidden from view yet still there, akin to the memories and the emotional, mental and psychological effects on the individuals and the communities.

The deforested trees spoke to me on a level that is hard to describe or understand. They have a story to tell and in bringing them into this work, I am helping to tell their story. The metaphors that I see in these trees being cut down in their prime yet remaining rooted after all these years underwater really bring home the effect on the local people.

The natural world is significant to me on many levels and I feel my connection to the natural world drives my need to make work that brings awareness to the effects that we as humans have on nature as we develop in society.

The nature of my reflection when I visited the sites was about the energy of the sites and through energy work, ritual and ceremony these energies can be changed. It is a bizarre feeling being below the water line in the reservoirs and the muddiness is overwhelming. The childlike joy of discovering abandoned buildings was very apparent during my site visits.

All of these events happened in the 1960’s, however there are also much earlier examples of this happening in the UK – what’s significant about all of this is that these events occurred after decisions made by a governing body and that the laws that allowed these events to happen have not changed to this day, effectively meaning that despite public opinion there is potential for similar events to happen again. I’m generally not a political person – however the thing that comes to mind here is “Look what you did!” “Does this make you proud?”

An intrinsic connection is perceived by me with the larger historical memory formalised and recorded in books, yet have an awareness that these smaller memories are often what becomes forgotten with the passing of time. This idea of small memory is something that I want to develop further.

Interesting to explore further the tensions between large and small history. The individual is a key part of the whole community and a comparison can be drawn between the individual and the small memory and the community and the larger memory.

It’s often the small memories that bind a community together more so than the formalized recorded memory that you see in history. In today’s society, I see a loss of community and individuals becoming more and more isolated with the greater acces to technology and this isn’t necessarily a good thing. As social creatures we all need to belong – yet more and more we feel disconnected – that community connection that we are losing I feel is in fact more important than ever as we move towards the future.

People experience the loss of everyday throughout their lives, it almost happens and it’s gone before you realize its happening. Remembrance provides a way for the future to connect with the memories of the past.

The research of the ordinary is of great value here and the awareness of the small memories. I have been in two minds about taking it back to the communities, however after reflecting on this for some time and becoming more aware of a growing trend for awareness of these events I am going to try and make some connections in the local communities. Preserving memories is also important here, yet this artwork could be an excellent way of helping to raise awareness.

I like this “Everyone in the world is insignificant but each is the most significant part in his or her own world.”. I agree with the concept of self identity and external memory and in some way although memories about these events have changed or faded over time, the fragments hold a physicality that have degraded over time yet remain inherently unchanged.

Enshrinement – I like that word! Moving forward I have collected together experiemnts of works that can be expanded upon to make larger scale pieces. Taking the detail of the small memories and building them into larger scale works is what I forsee as part of my future practice. I was hung up for a while about having a particular style or material or technique however I now know that this isn’t necessary as part of my process is finding the right material for the work. The overriding feeling I have about my work, whatever the process, technique or material is that the made elements will always be large scale.

Also interested in producing a painterly effect through video and this has come through in another piece I have been working on.

Especially interested in the preservative quality of the latex, the fact that it draws elements out of the materials that are being cast, forever preserving them. The latex is developing over time and the colours are changing it’s also taking on a darker, muddier colour which is interesting. The effect from the metal objects in particular has been of great interest to me. I like the descriptive essence of the objects coming from the mud and returning to the mud.

I hadn’t considered that this method with latex was unique before – the quilting together of fragments brings to mind the stitching that I am keen to include in this work. There is an urgency to protect the history, definitely – it’s born from an awareness of the fading of these memories over time and the sense that few people are alive now who have a direct remembering of these events. The descendants of those who experienced this also demonstrate a determination to remember and not forget.

The comparison to wounds or bruises in the skin and make me think of the analogy between scars on the body (seen and not seen/physical, mental and psychological) and the scars on the landscape from the demolition of these villages and the beauty that existing in the valleys.

The latex has been a really transformative material to work with. It has taken the fragments and made them into something cohesive. Seeing the latex pieces in their physicality it brings about a different sense of the work again. Topographical – Yes – I get this too and the visualizations of the drought – totally.

The Wilding does have a floaty feel about it and I will be testing the latex prior to applying it to ensure that this essence is not lost.

I appreciate that it may not matter if it survives the film, however I have an overriding feeling that I want it to survive so that it can be displayed. Also in surviving it somehow reflects the resilience of the communities and their ability to survive and retain their historical routes and story.

Having been personally interested in shamanism, healing and spirituality, I feel a sense of the video being produced serving as a method for earth healing and as such shamanic dance ritual would be a part of this.

Some of the fragments I will be using in a spiritual ceremony for a similar issue in Scotland soon and I perceive this will help to combine the fragments with the video. The hope for the video is that it will incorporate an Earth Healing ceremony into the work.

Linking again to the shamanic rituals and the repetitive nature that can be found in body movement, I like the concept that this is awakening forgotten landscapes.

I have two ideas for the performance, recording some in a studio using a green screen and then recording some on site.

A live performance is also under consideration – not quite sure practically how that might work.

I have become aware of some Facebook groups for Capel Celyn and I am now considering how I can connect with the communities further.

Mid Point Review Comments

Today was the Mid Point Review Silent Critique where we have all created a five minute video detailing our work to date and each of us will have a seven minute silent crit at the end of our video. See Mid Point Review Presentation for more details on my video and the script.

Below is my Mid Point Review Video.

Below are the comments about my presentation that were provided by the other people in the group. There are two sets of comments – one recorded from the live video stream from the people attending in London and the other from the Skype Group Chat. A further post to follow once I have reflected more deeply on all of the comments.

Recorded Comments

My initial ideas are that your work evokes a sense of beauty that is almost romantic – the washing flapping in the wind.

It’s just a simple yet intriguing project around the idea of ‘small memory’ through these places that longer exist.

I feel your project seems almost complete. I am drawn into your visual imagery – more than the castings, though these 3d pieces work well alongside your film/photography work.

I think there are actually some analogies in the castings because latex in itself is an ambiguous preservative that degrades over time and discolours. Reminds me of Heidi Bucher who we saw after the Yayoi Kusama exhibition where she put forms into inhabited spaces, Michelle’s gone down the rabbit hole into even smaller memories, not even the place the things that are left, things like the fixings on the doors and the small memories, who remembers the fixings in the home or those little things that are left.

I find very interesting the dichotomy between small and large history, oral history and what you find in books. This makes me think of my work and interest in what is called Big History. I infer from what you say that there exists a tension between the small and the large.

Latex is the sort of material which is very strong yet very associated with the body and skin, very skin like, texture that image of objects embedded in the latex, they look like wounds or bruises.

Sculpture at the end is a lot like Louise Bourgeois, worry that the latex will change the way it moves a lot and make it rigid, it looks like it could have this wonderful floatiness.

Idea that its made for the performance and the performance is the film it doesn’t really matter if it survives, it depends on whether she wants to display it alongside the film.

Research of the ordinary and it great value is it something that you want to take back to the communities or is it more about preserving memories.

I feel a happening with the costume and the dance which is like a shaman dance bringing back the value of the lost landscape.

The nice thing about the latex being naturally degradable and how it reacts differently to different materials with metals turning a different colour and burning into it, yet with plastic it doesn’t react in the same way, setting a variety of different types of materials in latex, it’s quite a good material to do that because of the different ways it interacts with the different materials.

Chris says Your introduction to latex is quite a unique method in contrast to the materials you have been acquiring from the reservoirs. Rust sticks onto it, becomes part of it, molds around it. The larger slabs, “quilting” together these fragments, seem to re-contextualize the fragmentation. An urgency to restore and protect the history of deconstructing land, the memory of it – a connection to it.

The idea of quilting it together and the urgency to restore and protect the history is almost like the pages of a book.

I wonder if there’s something special about the villages, there are lots of villages that have been destroyed, yet these villages haven’t been destroyed, they are still there, they are covered by water, so there is something special about that..

She’ll be lucky if she gets a year as hot as last year.

The specific one she’s looking at which is very close to her is actually very old the reservoir was built in the 1960’s, so it’s not a recent thing.

One wonders if she could find some of the original residents, trace to match with stories – that might be too much labour.

Ash says I think those fragments you presented in the video is really important to your project. How to combine them along with your video might worth considering. That’s the tricky thing, how to combine those two things together.

Pav says You have produced a solid visual document of your creative journey. Your work has evolved from a range of primary sources and intrinsic experiences. The element of critical analysis is gradually improving and expanding.

Your learning form Boltansky’s work is clearly evident and had a substantial influence on your thinking.

However, the element of questioning in your project was relatively ambivalent and undefined. Subsequently, your work would benefit from a greater degree of resolution and refinement. This process should also allow you to make a shift from a retrospective and descriptive approach to a focus on your creative intentions and deeper analysis of the visual communication process. There is also a strong link to Heidi Bucher.

Aristotle: Michelle: I really enjoyed watching this. It gives me an idea of where you are coming from, where you stand at the moment and which direction you want to go. Perfectly timed as well. Your rhythm made the video perfectly comprehensible. I find the latex to be a very interesting choice as a tool of preservation and expression. Very skin like and tactile. Flexible yet carrying so much detail. I am really interested to see where this will go

Interesting impression the idea that these objects have come from the mud and they’re going back into a different kind of mud which is really interesting, like digging things out of the swamp.

Skype Comments

Kelda, 13:20:

Michelle: My initial ideas are that your work evokes a sense of beauty that is almost romantic – the washing flapping in the wind.

It’s just a simple yet intriguing project around the idea of ‘small memory’ through these places that longer exist.

I feel your project seems almost complete. I am drawn into your visual imagery – more than the castings, though these 3d pieces work well alongside your film/photography work.

Alexis, 13:20:

Your narrative’s trajectory is very clear yet you leave an open space for development. I sense that this development is mapped out in the intention that you refer to later on in the video, that of saving small memories from being lost, something akin to the preservation of oral traditions that hold societies together.

Q – How do you think saving small memories impacts on a society’s ability to thrive and progress in the contemporary world?

Q – When you visited the reservoir sites, what was the nature of your reflection on the villages and what part do the collected artefacts play in your thoughts?

I find very interesting the dichotomy between small and large history, oral history and what you find in books. This makes me think of my work and interest in what is called Big History. I infer from what you say that there exists a tension between the small and the large.

Q – Where do you consider might be the meeting point between small and big histories and how do you see the individual being reconciled within this dialectic?

Q – How does the loss of the everyday make you feel and inform your ideas about the future?

The enshrinement of fragmentation and preservation of decay is very apparent in your work coupled with an eye for detail.

Q – How do you think you might build on your detailed observation and where do you think this might lead with respect to your practice?

The deforested trees are a very powerful image that bring in not only the human but the natural world into your work.

Q – How significant do you consider the role of natural elements in your narrative?

There seems to be a political element close to the surface in your work.

Q – What would you like to say to the world of governance in general and perhaps to a specific group?

Friederike, 13:24

I had the question if the research of the ordinary and it’s great value is something you want to potentially bring back to those communities or is it more about preserving memories ? I feel that happening with the costume and the dance, which is like a shaman dance, bringing back the value of lost landscapes and traditions.

Alexis, 13:25

The video of the water around the trees suggest painting

Friederike, 13:26

I feel through that dance you are really awakening forgotten landscapes.

Christopher, 13:26

Michelle, Your introduction to latex is quite a unique method in contrast to the materials you have been acquiring from the reservoirs. Rust sticks onto it, becomes part of it, molds around it. The larger slabs, “quilting” together these fragments, seem to re-contextualize the fragmentation. An urgency to restore and protect the history of deconstructing land, the memory of it – a connection to it.

ASH, 13:28

I think those fragments you presented in the video is really important to your project. How to combine them along with your video might worth considering. I like the concept you quoted Artspace about large memory and small memory. Everyone in the world is insignificant but each is the most significant part in his or her own world. In Ghost of the Shell, the main protagonist lost her watch during a fight but it is the only thing she had worn since she used her first body. She is a cyborg so she frequently changes her body but the watch is the only thing as her self identity, which is called external memory. Even when the the human memory can be changed, the object she had is still there to make her herself.

Alexis, 13:29

This is not conservation or preservation so much as a reconstruction; what would those living then think on seeing this work?

Pav, 13:29

You have produced a solid visual document of your creative journey. Your work has evolved from a range of primary sources and intrinsic experiences. The element of critical analysis is gradually improving and expanding.

Your learning form Boltansky’s work is clearly evident and had a substantial influence on your thinking.

However, the element of questioning in your project was relatively ambivalent and undefined. Subsequently, your work would benefit from a greater degree of resolution and refinement. This process should also allow you to make a shift from a retrospective and descriptive approach to a focus on your creative intentions and deeper analysis of the visual communication process.

Kelda, 13:29

Heidi Bucher

Aristotle, 13:30

Michelle: I really enjoyed watching this. It gives me an idea of where you are coming from, where you stand at the moment and which direction you want to go. Perfectly timed as well. Your rhythm made the video perfectly comprehensible. I find the latex to be a very interesting choice as a tool of preservation and expression. Very skin like and tactile. Flexible yet carrying so much detail. I am really interested to see where this will go

Alexis, 13:30

I would want to see a live performance too…

Kelda, 13:32

Would the performance work outside the space where the trees were?

Alexis, 13:32

Kelda – I think that is a good idea, then it can be filmed

Alexis, 13:32

It is a waterworld…

Friederike, 13:34

I also really like the latex pieces, they are strong visually, and do give the impression as if one is is looking right into the mud or reservoir and discovering these pieces on the spot. They give the joy of discovery, like when as a child one was climbing in ruins of abandoned houses.

aesun, 13:34

I feel your work and alexis work bit similar as a like unique creature from nature

Arthur, 13:34

Can’t think of latex without thinking about sexualisation of it

Arthur, 13:35

Disagree – history is unavoidable

Matt, 13:37

Though there are many difficulties to this have you interviewed anyone that might have lived through and experienced forced relocation as a result of reservoir developments? There id a topographic quality to your latex pieces that reflects the idea of the uncovered river bed – these beds are trapping manmade debris and interwoven in a sort of protective skin though this is torn, and on a wider scale or collectively this could be seen as analagous to the Anthropocene debate and a delicate grey area between forced displacement and the ongoing war for dwindling reaources – and what is frequently being referred to as the ‘death of the ovean’ and our essential support systems. Also reminded of the term ‘retreat’ – the burnt-looking latex pieces to me look like visualisations of a drought.

Mid Point Review Presentation

Original Script

Comment Audio File Video(s)
When I was about eight, my mum took me to a local reservoir where a village had been destroyed and the community moved on. 22 Previous Tryweryn Work
This memory that has stuck with me for over 40 years and has prompted me to consider these events further for my latest body of work. 23
Before I started this course I reflected on the construction of the Reservoir and the effects on the displaced community of the time and the domesticity of the situation. 25
I became aware that in fact Tryweryn was not an isolated case and in fact many reservoirs now exist where communities previously thrived. 26
In the intervening years, the community of people with direct experience of these events is diminishing and memories of these events are becoming faded over time. 28
It took me some time to realise that in fact there are a lot of metaphors in this work, most specifically these communities and their experience being a metaphor for loss of collective memory but also personal memory too. I now realise that although on the surface this is a project about a specific set of events external to me, in fact using these events metaphorically is reflecting on my own personal feelings of displacement and loss of memory that have been with me throughout my life.

Something that on the surface appears very impersonal in actual fact deeply personal.

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I decided to visit four such reservoirs and begin to get a sense of the areas and record some photography and video footage. Interestingly 2018 has been the first year since 1996 that the water levels have dropped so low that evidence of these villages was apparent and I was able to walk on the reservoir bed which normally would have been covered with many metres of water.

This also provided me with the opportunity to reflect further on the villages and to be able to collect some fragments/remains of village life. Mostly ceramics but also some metalworks from the actual buildings which had been made inhabitable but not removed.

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Map

Footage

Photographs of fragments and slates

At this time I also discovered that in fact there had been much deforestation and discovered the remains of the deforested trees along the shores, particularly at Thruscross.

To me these deforested trees became a clear metaphor for these lost communities and memories cut off in their prime as part of the construction process, yet having survived under the water for so long demonstrating that the memory of these events will live on.

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Shots of Wildling
For the pop up show I wanted to begin to work with some of the footage I had created and was aiming to create something that had the essence of nostalgia.

I wanted to overlay archive material with footage that I had shot during my site visits.

37 Nostalgia video (show brief clips)

Fragments video (show brief clips)

I am interested in the ordinary and the commonplace that might have some wider significance or meaning, I always strive to use my artwork to communicate how the subject makes me feel using the most appropriate materials.

Having collected many fragments during the site visits, I knew I needed to find the best ways to represent the everyday that had been lost during these events.

In this case, I had several ideas, firstly I knew I wanted to reintroduce fabric and stitch into my practice and felt that net curtains prevalent at the time of these events would meld my own personal memory into the collective.

I decided to have some photos from my earlier video printed onto lightweight fabric.

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Net curtain material

Casting Slates Video

Slates and Net Curtain

Rusting Objects

Latex Experiments ( sketchbook cover)

Latex Experiments Single Items

 

I also knew that I wanted to create something that reflected the spaces left after I had prised the fragments from the reservoir bed and I decided that perhaps using Latex with the fragmented objects I had find might be a way to achieve this. I didn’t want to cast the objects themselves per say, just an impression the spaces where they had resided.

As part of this experimentation, I cast slates, individual fragments, prints (distortion)

Happy Accidents – it pleased me no end to find that when removed the latex had bits of rust or slates creating a preserved lasting impression of the items that I had casted and the blurred memories that they invoke providing a metaphor for what existed before.

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Latex Experiments – casting space
Since my site visits the images of the deforested trees have stuck in my mind and I have decided to create a costume as a reflection of these with a view to using the costume in a performance piece.

This is most definitely unfinished and work in progress but I have ideas to record a performance on site and also using a green screen.

The costume has been made from cotton wool wrapped in kitchen paper and wire and then wrapped in gorilla tape. Finally I intend to cover it in latex to make the costume more sturdy and long lasting.

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Costume pics

I find some similarities in Christian Boltanski’s work.

The humanness in some of his work representing the unique lives of everyday people, whom we will probably never know reminds me of something that sits very firmly in my mind that these difficult experiences could happen at any time to any one of us.

I later discovered that indeed Christian Boltanksi had worked with net fabric in a similar manner to that which I intended.

Boltanski explores the power of photography to transcend individual identity and to function instead as a witness to collective rituals and shared cultural memories.

https://www.guggenheim.org/arts-curriculum/topic/christian-boltanski

I have been looking at the work of Christian Boltanksi and what I perceive as the humanness in some of his work representing the unique lives of everyday people that we will never know in person yet have many similarities in their lives, experiences and memories.

In an interview on Artspace he says:

Part of my work has been about what I call ‘small memory.’ Large memory is recorded in books and small memory is about little things: trivia, jokes. Part of my work then has been about trying to preserve ‘small memory,’ because often when someone ides, that memory disappears. Yet that ‘small memory’ is what makes people different from one another, unique. These memories are very fragile; I wanted to save them.

https://www.artspace.com/magazine/art_101/book_report/christian-boltanski-phaidon-54886

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Rachel Whiteread also speaks in an Artspace interview about the everyday.

She says

I’ve always used found objects, things made for simple, everyday usage. For instance, beds are completely international—you find mattresses up against the wall or rotting in alleyways or whatever. And with the first table piece that I made, I wanted to give the space underneath the table some sort of authority. Casting it in plaster monumentalized a space that is ignored.

https://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/book_report/rachel-whiteread-55186

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