Work Schedule – Year 2

The following outlines the proposed work schedule for use moving forward. This is a working document and will change as time passes. See Also:

Date Proposed Work Actual Work
01/10/2019 to 5/11/2019 Integrating findings from Research Paper into practice
12/11/2019 Digital Photography and Fabric
19/11/2019 Digital Photography and Fabric
26/11/2019 Digital Photography and Fabric
03/12/2019 Digital Photography and Fabric
07/01/2020 Digital Photography and Fabric
14/01/2020 Digital Photography and Fabric
21/01/2020 Expanding on project work with latex
28/01/2020 Expanding on project work with latex
04/02/2020 Expanding on project work with latex
11/02/2020 Expanding on project work with latex
18/02/2020 Expanding on project work with latex
25/02/2020 Expanding on project work with latex
03/03/2020 Expanding on project work with latex
10/03/2020 Expanding on project work with latex
12/05/2020 Preparation for Final Show
19/05/2020 Preparation for Final Show
26/05/2020 Preparation for Final Show
02/06/2020 Preparation for Final Show
09/06/2020 Preparation for Final Show
16/06/2020 Preparation for Final Show
23/06/2020 Preparation for Final Show
30/06/2020 Preparation for Final Show
07/07/2020 Preparation for Final Show
14/07/2020 Preparation for Final Show
15/07/2020 Preparation for Final Show

 

 

Unit 1 Project Proposal – Final

Working Title

Investigate the associations with objects and the landscape that reflect issues of collective and personal memory, displacement and loss and the way that memories fade and change over time.

  • Can the influence of an overriding power in the landscape provide an analogy for the social issue of displacement and loss and the effect this has on the remembrances of the community and the individual?
  • Can the effects of dereliction and abandonment in the landscape reveal 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?

Aims

  • Research theories that relate to memory and art that can be utilized for inspiration.
  • Develop a body of work that considers memory/ remembrance  both on a collective level and a personal level
  • Consider my own relationship with ageing, remembrance and memory loss.
  • Investigate the Generation effect as a concept for reflection, remembrance and memory loss.

Objectives

  • Reflect and respond to inspiration derived from research of contemporary artwork relating to memory and remembrance.
  • Develop an experimental body of work that reflects upon the issue of displacement and the effects of distortion/loss of memory through time and life factors.
  • Experiment with photography and video to create digital and photographic material that can be utilized as part of the larger body of work.
  • Consider favoured techniques and processes to further refine and understand relationship with these materials.
  • Reflect upon memory triggers, introducing the theory that sights, sounds and smells can trigger a memory long since forgotten. Expand on these ideas by considering Binaural Audio, Binaural Beats and Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR).
  • Develop experimental artwork that considers the Generation effect, the theory that it is easier to remember information recalled from your own mind than it is to remember information read.

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 interest apparent in the work of Christian Boltanksi are Life, Death and Memory with much of his work focusing 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). I intend to reflect further upon parallels between Boltanski and my previous work. 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 focuses 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.

Further reflecting on previous inquiry of the following artists: 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 inquiry 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 alter over time creating metaphors in the processes that I will be using.

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, governments can influence massive change in an environment using parliamentary bills. In their wake, landscapes 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 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.

Completion of archival research using a variety of methods. Initially, using the internet to identify exactly where statistical information that relates to historical events.

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 with my making and digital skills to bring together a body of work that reflects the Project Proposal Question. 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 and printing outcomes onto different fabrics with the intention of further integrating digital methods with more traditional artistic techniques.

Making

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

  • Found Objects: utilizing found objects in experimentation, applying making processes to the objects.
  • Molding: Latex, Resin, Silicone, Plaster, Clay.
  • Fabric: Digital Printing on Fabric, Banner Making, Lightweight Fabrics, Stitch
  • Costume/Props: Using techniques found in the Comicon industry to fabricate a costume for recording of video.

Photography

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.

  • Photography: Digital, Poloroid, Photo Transformation and Distortion Methods

Video

I intend to record video for a potential exhibit using projection.

  • Video: Video Editing and Animation processes

Audio

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.

  • Binaural Recording, ASMR, Audio Distortion

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. They continue to produce Polaroid film and cameras.

For Audio recording and playback, I am currently investigating required technology and cost of purchase in particular relating to binaural recording a field recorder with this capability and a Yeti.

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

Outcomes

Potential Outcomes are as follows:

  • Collection of assemblage work involving digitally printed fabric, latex and distorted photographs
  • Possible Collection of Polaroid Photography linking to the assemblage work

Work Plan

Navigate to the working document for the Work Schedule using the link below:

  • Work Schedule

Bibliography

library.wales. (2019). Cwm Tryweryn – National Library of Wales Archives and Manuscripts. [online] Available at: https://archives.library.wales/index.php/cwm-tryweryn [Accessed 8 May 2019].

Aranda, J. (2010). E-flux journal: What Is Contemporary Art?. New York: Sternberg Pr.

Bampton-history.org.uk. (2019). Bampton and District Local History Society, Cumbria. [online] Available at: https://www.bampton-history.org.uk/ [Accessed 8 May 2019].

Berberich, C., Campbell, N. and Hudson, R. (2016). Affective landscapes in literature, art and everyday life. London: Routledge.

BFI Player. (2019). Watch Tryweryn, the Story of a Valley – BFI Player. [online] Available at: https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-tryweryn-the-story-of-a-valley-1965-online [Accessed 8 May 2019].

Couldry, N. (2013). Media, Society, World. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. (2019). Haweswater Reservoir, Cumbria: regional water resources study | The National Archives. [online] Available at: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C10983447 [Accessed 8 May 2019].

Gibbons, J. (2015). Contemporary Art and Memory. London: I.B. Tauris.

Greslé, Y. (2015). PRECARIOUS VIDEO: HISTORICAL EVENTS, TRAUMA AND MEMORY IN SOUTH AFRICAN VIDEO ART. Ph.D. University College London.

MACE Archive. (2019). ATV Today: 04.08.1966: Lost Villages of Derwent and Ashopton. [online] Available at: https://www.macearchive.org/films/atv-today-04081966-lost-villages-derwent-and-ashopton [Accessed 8 May 2019].

Manovich, L. (2010). The language of new media. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Munteán, L., Plate, L. and Smelik, A. (2016). Materializing memory in art and popular culture. Taylor and Francis.

Pathé (2019). Haweswater Dam Under Construction. [online] Britishpathe.com. Available at: https://www.britishpathe.com/video/haweswater-dam-under-construction [Accessed 8 May 2019].

Pollock, R. (2013). Discovering Rachel Whiteread’s Memorial Process: The Development of the Artist’s Public and Memorial Sculpture from House to Tree of Life. Undergraduate. Brandeis University.

Quigley, T. (2010). Memory, Temporality, and Loss: Rachel Whiteread.

Saltzman, L. (2006). Making memory matter. Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press.

Solnit, R. (2017). A field guide to getting lost. Edinburgh: Canongate Books.

Svasek, M. (2014). Forced Displacement, Suffering and the Aesthetics of Loss. Open Arts Journal

Taylor, K. (2009). Cultural Landscapes and Asia: Reconciling International and Southeast Asian Regional Values. Landscape Research.

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

Washburnvalley.org. (2019). Home page – Washburn Heritage Centre. [online] Available at: http://www.washburnvalley.org/ [Accessed 8 May 2019].

Yorkshirefilmarchive.com. (2019). THRUSCROSS RESERVOIR | Yorkshire Film Archive. [online] Available at: http://www.yorkshirefilmarchive.com/film/thruscross-reservoir [Accessed 8 May 2019].

Draft Research Paper – Version 1

Naturally possessing a lifelong interest in familiar objects ordinarily overlooked and a prevailing tendency to carefully collect and attentively treasure random objects. This genuine interest has been more considerably developed after being drawn to the published book Evocative Objects by Sherry Turkle. With no outward apparent significance or specific meaning, these random commonplace objects undoubtedly possess a deep connection with our ordinary lives. When we invariably observe our potential associations with those familiar objects or thoughtfully consider what they have merely witnessed throughout the entire span of their material existence. We can subsequently identify these deeper connections we vicariously experience with commonplace objects.

The published book Evocative Objects typically contains an extensive collection of individual accounts of particular familiar objects and the profound significance in the personal lives for the individual authors. Each of these first-hand accounts has been properly supported by the meaningful connections each of these familiar objects undoubtedly possesses to intellectual practice. Each individual author attentively examines the established associations with their chosen objects and the conscious thoughts, expressed and unexpressed feelings and their complex emotions that these treasured objects invoke.

Turkle speaks enthusiastically of the direct associations we typically place on familiar objects with our close friends and beloved relatives who are no longer in our local community. Each respective author candidly discusses the specific circumstances around their treasured object’s visible presence in their routine lives. Familiar objects have a hold on us. We intimately connect them to specific situations, particular people and certain historical, social or cultural events that have been a part of our social community. Commonplace objects can powerfully influence us positively or negatively with overwhelming feelings of involuntary attraction with fond memories or distinct repulsion with unpleasant memories.

Our continued association with recognisable objects is undeniably on a deep and personal level, integrating our conscious thoughts with our heart-felt feelings. Indeed, with some treasured objects it may be hard to sufficiently separate the life force of the specific object from one’s own life force. We sometimes believing these sacred objects to be lucky or totems, comfortably providing us with an at-oneness with the chosen object.

As a mohair-covered, stuffed, jointed toy, with movable arms, legs and head, a teddy bear can be cradled and hugged like a baby. But the wild bear referenced by the toy is an animal that can be threatening to human beings. Having a ferocious guardian at one’s side makes the teddy into a symbol of protective aggression, which is why, for the past hundred years, it has provided solace to frightened children and later to adults, who carry that comfort with them as a cherished memory.(Alphen, 2014)

The specific term Involuntary Memory was first discussed by Marcel Proust, the French Novelist in his novel ‘À la Recherche du Temps Perdu’ (In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past). This seminal novel, considered to be undoubtedly his most prominent work was consistently written in earnest between the consecutive years 1913 and 1927 in seven published volumes. The published volume that properly discusses the most famous reference Proust’s memorable Madeline moment, Swann’s Way, the first published volume in 1913. When eagerly eating a tea-soaked Madeline cake, Proust involuntarily remembered a childhood incident with his dear aunt and his childhood home. Fondly recalling these childhood events naturally led him to reasonably consider these experiences as involuntary memories.

Involuntary memory or Proustian memory is more commonly known as involuntary auto-biographical memory. This typically occurs when spontaneous observances in our typical lives invoke a distinct recollection of a previous event, specific person or a certain memory without any conscious effort whatsoever. Different to voluntary memory where conscious recall invariably brings about the specific memory, these recollections instinctively appear as a direct response to an extrasensory stimulus.

Spontaneous stimulation of our intuitive senses can invoke distinct memories from our forgotten past. Indeed, our subconscious associations we typically establish with familiar objects around us can invoke these involuntary memories when we interact directly or indirectly with the commonplace objects.

As our personal memories typically begin to diminish gradually over considerable time, we naturally need continued reflection with the collective community to properly maintain the ongoing remembrance of such established associations. These ambiguous associations, we attach to are dependent on extrasensory perceptions and our social connections with our local community. Without the social interaction with our local community in conscious recollection and continued remembrance, these precious memories can become more blurred throughout the advancing years.

The French Philosopher and Sociologist, Maurice Halbwachs fundamentally believed that our specific personal memories can exclusively exist within a social collective context. He is primarily recognised for progressively developing the philosophical concept of Collective Memory. His most significant theory of Collective Memory was first expressed in his book La Mémoire collective, 1950 (“The Collective Memory”). In this published book he succinctly describes the fundamental notion that a social group unquestionably retains a collective memory. This significant notion is clearly defined by the social framework of the local group within our civilised society. Our personal memories are naturally influenced by the overall memory of the social group, and our unique understanding of the historic past is intrinsically linked to the group recollection.

We may exist concurrently within many social groups. All of the social groups we invariably have ideologic affinity with will naturally exert some evident influence over our own personal memories and daily interactions. We undoubtedly possess an intimate interaction with the familiar objects in our routine lives and ordinarily possess personal memories typically associated with these commonplace objects. Our conscious perception of these familiar objects will be naturally influenced by the collective memories of the social groups we invariably share mutual accord.

It is commonplace for artists to use found objects in their artwork and often these objects will suggest a connection with the theme or be included to invoke a response in the viewer. In an interview with Artspace, Christian Boltanski describes the commodification of objects in the Western culture where the importance of the object becomes paramount, not because of the object itself but because of the context it has been placed in and the story behind the completed artwork. He asserts ‘it’s not important to keep the object, but what is of value is knowing the idea or story behind it.’(Artspace, 2017)

Boltanski often uses objects in the artworks he produces and in an interview with Apollo Magazine, he also describes how he uses objects that have become redundant to their previous owners describing the break away from its previous owner as ‘sometimes have a second life (in a charity shop or an art installation); or it can float in the world, ghostlike and redundant.’(Bickerton, 2018)

His exhibited artwork ‘Personnes’ (2010) was first displayed in Paris at the Grand Palais. In direct reference to the Nazi death camps, sixty-nine camps were laid out in memorable lines and a towering pile all comprising only well-worn discarded clothes. A dehumanising piece, this powerful artwork jolts the intuitive senses bringing to the surface both emotional and psychological responses for the discerning viewer.

The chosen name of this unique piece ‘Personnes’ when translated into standard English is either People or Nobody if pronounced ‘Personne’. This powerfully suggests the innocent people who rightfully owned the dilapidated clothes previously. They no longer exist, and only their well-worn clothes undoubtedly remain, familiar essential objects to commemorate them.

One can instantly see the cultural metaphor for all of the missing people that the forsaken clothes ostensibly represent. On closer inspection it is clearly evident that these carefully laid out castoff clothes belong to both young and old alike. The appear as they have been arranged as they would in an organised mass grave or for proper identification.

Each individual piece of worn-out clothing sadly representing one particular person and their extensive lifetime of conscious memories, yet the collective prominently representing the social group as a coherent whole. The overwhelming impression of the sheer enormity of the dear lives seemingly gone and their unique stories yet to be eloquently shared. For the exhibition viewer who rightfully belongs to the social group closely affected by such unspeakable atrocities, the involuntary recollection of personal memories will be overwhelming and powerful. Yet for those not connected to this social group, a historical recollection of these cultural events shared by the modern media that are still connected to the greater collective memory of the social group through the compelling stories that have been candidly told.

Oddly, no discernible odour permeated the worn clothes prominently displayed in ‘Personnes’. More surprisingly, not even that reminiscent smell of the charity shops that the used clothes will have been consistently acquired from. In a structured interview with Museo Magazine Boltanski eloquently expressed his genuine disappointment at the distinct lack of a familiar but unpleasant odour. Succinctly describing the primary importance of being immersed in the completed artwork. He emphasises its complex relationship to the discernible effects on the physical body and the profound effect on the olfactory sense. These extrasensory effects were therefore desired by Boltanski to efficiently produce a more compelling exhibit.

I refused the heat, and it was terribly cold. I hope that the smell can be here, but I’m not sure that the clothes are going to smell. It’s important for me to work with cold, or to work with smell. When you are cold, you are inside the work. If it smells, you are inside the work. If it’s very noisy, you are inside the work. And it’s this idea of being inside the work that is important to me. (Rosenbaum-Kranson, 2010)

The published book ‘The Proust Effect: The Senses as Doorways to Lost Memories’ by Cretien van Campen comprehensively describes an extensive series of controlled experiments efficiently performed to adequately support the philosophical theory of Proustian Memory. He plausibly suggests the cognitive stimulation of the olfactory sense is undoubtedly the most powerful. Emphasising that it is more powerful than the direct stimulation of any of the other senses in direct relation to the involuntary recall of Proust’s autobiographical memory.

Campen convincingly suggests that indicators of the recognised Proust effect can be specifically located in the physiological composition of the Hippocampus. The sensory centres in the active brain are properly governed by the hippocampus which records memory pathways for sensory events. These complex pathways traverse various areas of the brain responsible for diverse types of sensory information. He also asserts that with sensory stimulation the hippocampus consequently activates entire memory pathways; subsequently triggering an involuntary remembrance uniquely associated with that particular stimulus. In close proximity to the hippocampus lies the amygdala is furthermore said to play a role in emotional memory; assessing emotional significance of remembered events.

We can now also answer the question of why smells evoke more emotional childhood memories than other sensory stimuli. The brain scans of the participants in the experiments by Herz et al. described earlier showed that smell stimuli stimulate the amygdalae and the hippocampus more powerfully than images. The answer to this question is there that the amygdalae are situated closer to the areas of the brain responsible for smell and taste than to the areas responsible for vision, hearing and touch. (Campen and Ross, 2014)

Boltanksi fully intended to appropriately include extrasensory stimulation as a key aspect of the completed exhibit ‘Personnes’. He cleverly used his powerful imagery along with sound recordings and the distinct smell of unwashed clothes. It was important to him that the acquired clothes preferentially used in ‘Personnes’ naturally had a musty odour. This was absolutely intended to powerfully stimulate the attentive viewer of the exhibition further and invoke involuntary memory recall. The sound recordings playing gently in the exhibition background were remarkably of heartbeats of different people throughout the modern world. A separate artwork in considerable progress ‘Les Archives du Cœur’ otherwise known as ‘The Heart Archive’ poingnantly bringing a deeper sense of emotion to the overall exhibit.

Speak about Halbwach

Paragraph linking to Hatoum

In 1996 Mona Hatoum was graciously commissioned by the Anadiel Gallery in Jerusalem. This resulted in the subsequent on-site production of her symbolic piece ‘‘Present Tense’’ (1996), more recently acquired by the Tate Gallery in 2013.

The completed work, a precise arrangement of over 2000 unique pieces of traditional Palestinian soap that historically retains considerable symbolic meaning to the Palestinian community. Typically manufactured in Nablus from virgin olive oil, local water and sodium compound the soap gains its proper name from where it typically originates. This strategic city, located north of Jerusalem remains economically the most significant cultural and cultural centre in Palestine.  Historically, continuous production of this handmade soap has been in existence since the 10th Century and export to other economic regions undoubtedly continues. Many of the local factories have been demolished through inevitable disaster or continuous occupation by armed-forces. Only a limited number of local factories are currently producing handmade Nablus soap.

Establishing strong cultural and historical associations with the Palestinian identity by imprinting the laid-out soap with a political map based on the Oslo Agreement. Hatoum intentionally created a symbolic representation of the Palestinian resistance to the official borders rigorously defined by this government agreement. The distinct smell of the mild scented soap permeated the immediate atmosphere adjacent to the significant sculpture. Invariably becoming a potent trigger for poignant recollections of individual, historical and collective memory by the visiting people viewing the commissioned artwork.

Throughout her extensive career, Hatoum has carefully considered the multi-sensory experience of the potential viewer during her creative process. She convincingly demonstrates the meaningful connection with the intuitive senses when viewing her artwork as essential to the overall experience.

Thus, invoking a psychological and emotional response in what she unambiguously identifies as the visible embodiment of personal memory, our ‘bodies, home, place, and displacement, we are confronted with a visceral reminder of how the body remembers: the food we eat, the objects we take in with our eyes, the smells we sniff, the traumas we experience.’ (Brophy and Hladki, 2014).

The handmade soap itself may seem an inconsequential commonplace object. Yet to the local people of Palestine it traditionally holds significant historical context. Possessing considerable potential to naturally evoke distinct recollection of long-held memories and profound emotions of a remembered time and a familiar place that no longer exists.

For viewers of ‘Present Tense’ in 1996, the spread of the smell of the soap throughout the gallery in occupied East Jerusalem – for Palestinians an emotionally charged place – may not only have activated memories, but may also have intensified longing for the homeland that was taken from them. This longing may have been accompanied by a feeling of sadness because the homeland, as they knew it, no longer existed. The integration of the map of Oslo accords must have only enhanced that feeling, as it shows fragmented Palestinian Territories. Hatoum activated the senses of Palestinian viewers with the scent of this work, which, along with the map of the Oslo Accords, may have caused a reliving of personal and cultural memories of Palestinian history and the loss of homeland. (Goudeau, Verhoeven and Weijers, 2014)

Throughout Swann’s Way, Volume 1 of his novel ‘In Search of Lost Time’, the French Novelist, Marcel Proust wistfully recalls his own involuntary olfactory response to certain intoxicating smells. He speaks eloquently of the characteristic quality of genuine sorrow and intense sadness he undoubtedly feels on a typical evening invoked by the olfactory guise in the pervasiveness of the unmistakable smell of the familiar staircase. Powerless against the rapid onset of daily anguish as he anxiously anticipates the insidious smell of varnish permeating the stairwell.

It was the converse of this relief which I felt when my anguish at having to go up to my room invaded my consciousness in a manner infinitely more rapid, instantaneous almost, a manner at once insidious and brutal, through the inhalation—far more poisonous than moral penetration—of the smell of varnish peculiar to that staircase. (Proust, 1913)

Typically described as the Proustian Phenomenon, involuntary autobiographical memories are triggered suddenly by a sensory perception. Olfactory perceptions are relatively considered to instantly convey a deeper sense of evident emotion and more pertinent detail in memory recall than any other sense.

The particular smell of the handmade Nablus soap traditionally retains a particular significance to both local and displaced Palestinians. With recognisable remembrance of the familiar smell of this olive-oil soap is intimately intertwined with their own direct memories. Invariably comes an accurate recollection of historical events. These may not have been experienced directly, but through historical commemoration and cultural celebrations of historical events gone by.

For others, with no direct connections to Palestine, this distinct smell will invoke contrasting memories and complex emotions naturally relating to their own life experiences and social history. When properly understanding the cultural significance behind the handmade Nablus soap, a different set of visible emotions may typically arise, from a compassionate place of cognitive empathy.

Irrespective of the cultural background of the discerning viewer, the compelling smell of the olive-oil soap will invoke a sensory interaction with the final artwork. The subconscious will consistently attempt comprehensive understanding of the social experience by reasonably relating their personal memories and independent recollections with that of the collective. Linking with the historical remembrance of their social community positively establishes their personal experiences and personal memories within a social framework.

Individual, personal memories are intrinsically linked to fundamental beliefs, social concepts or prevailing ideas universally adopted by countless others. We constantly evaluate and objectively compare our personal memories with the collective so that we may validate our independent recollections. Apfelbaum succinctly describes this social interaction in the specific context of the social psychological theories of Maurice Halbwachs, the French Philosopher and Sociologist.

This collective memory provides the frame within which (or against which) individuals try to make sense of their own personal experiences. Individual and collective memory are thus dialectically related; our experiences and private recollections are continuously evaluated and shaped by confrontations with collective memory, which confer legitimacy on our memory: ‘‘I have shown that memory is a collective function….. If recollections reappear, this is because at each moment society possesses the necessary means to reproduce them. (Apfelbaum, 2010)

Although it can be plausibly suggested, that collective memory and historical memory are the same; Halbwachs clearly differentiates between them by the measurable depth of understanding and distinct quality of accurate recollection with which one can conscientiously recreate the specific remembrances. He refers unambiguously to social history as an abstract knowledge of notable events from the historical past which have been merely learned, perhaps from reading about cultural history.

He also suggests that with collective memory, historical or cultural events are not necessarily recalled from direct experience but through in-direct ways; reading about one’s cultural history; listening to local, familiar stories passed down through countless generations; commemorative events or festive occasions where the social community traditionally gathers to fondly remember the remarkable achievements of local community members long since passed.

Collective memory is intimately tied to a particular group, since it is the product of the group’s own past experiences. Halbwachs’ focus on past lived experience and his description of collective memory as part of a group’s identity are interrelated, because personal identity is closely tied to this particular kind of memory. (Russell, 2006)

The social generation currently identifies with a collective thought and historical remembrance. These historical recollections are firmly established in the cultural past by our social communities that re-enact events that would otherwise gradually disappear and become forgotten by all. Hutton also epitomises collective memory an ‘elaborate network of social mores, values and ideals that marks out the dimensions of our imaginations according to the attitudes of the social groups to which we relate.’ (Hutton, 1993)

For those with a personal and direct connection with Palestine, the commissioned artwork ‘Present Tense’ may invoke collective memories of cultural remembrance traditionally passed through innumerable generations. Yet those who do not have that direct connection with Palestine may still experience a distinct personal remembrance, albeit abstract and historical, rather than a collective memory.

Write Conclusion

Bibliography

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Alphen, E. (2014). Staging the Archive: Art and Photography in the Age of New Media. Reaktion Books.

Apfelbaum, E. (2010). Halbwachs and the Social Properties of Memory. [online] Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1c999bq.9[Accessed 23 Sep. 2019].

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Bilsel, C. (2017). Architecture and the Social Frameworks of Memory: A Postscript to Maurice Halbwachs’ “Collective Memory.” Iconarp International J. of Architecture and Planning, 5(1), pp.01-09.

Brophy, S. and Hladki, J. (2014). Embodied Politics in Visual Autobiography. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Campen, C. and Ross, J. (2014). The Proust effect. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chu, S. and Downes, J. (2000). Odour-evoked Autobiographical Memories: Psychological Investigations of Proustian Phenomena. Chemical Senses, 25(1), pp.111-116.

Collins, N. (2012). Smells can trigger emotional memories, study finds. The Telegraph. (28thJanuary 2012) [online] Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/9042019/Smells-can-trigger-emotional-memories-study-finds.html.

Cooke, R. (2016). Interview: Mona Hatoum: ‘It’s all luck. I feel things happen accidentally’. The Guardian. (Sunday 17thApril) [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/apr/17/mona-hatoum-interview-installation-artist-tate-modern-exhibition.

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Draft Research Question and Abstract – Version 1

An Object is just an Object, or is it?

Research Question

A comparative examination of the selected artworks ‘Personnes’ (2010) by Christian Boltanski and ‘Present Tense’ (1996) by Mona Hatoum; in the critical context of Involuntary Memory and Collective Memory.

These creative works will be objectively evaluated against the critical context of the wider theoretical concepts of involuntary memory and collective memory first introduced by Marcel Proust and Maurice Halbwachs.

This Research Paper will consistently advocate the philosophical argument that personal involuntary memories can spontaneously appear through direct or indirect interaction with insignificant, inauthentic objects. Our personal associations with such commonplace objects are also influenced by the collective memory of our local community and the social framework where it ordinarily resides.

Keywords

Boltanski | Hatoum | Involuntary Memory | Collective Memory | Objects | Halbwachs | Proust

Abstract

The artist Christian Boltanski typically adopts familiar objects in his completed artworks to invoke involuntary memories that intimately relate to specific community groups and historical recollections. He deliberately reveals seemingly irrelevant objects as historical and significant where unconscious associations are established through individual relationships with these contrived artefacts and the implied circumstances. He plausibly suggests that ordinary materials and commonplace objects are inherent to our conventional lives and profoundly integral to our unconscious minds.

A symbolic mountain hauntingly comprises many used tonnes of discarded clothes in the selected artwork ‘Personnes’ otherwise known as Clothes as Bodies. Each particular piece of clothing representing and individual person. The massive size of the formidable pile of well-worn clothes emphasising the countless people long since gone. Each forsaken piece of dishevelled clothing reverently placed at the highest point of the overwhelming pile to symbolise a supported return to a higher place for their dear souls. An evocative piece that invokes both personal memories in the critical context of the collective and historical remembrance.

Mona Hatoum consistently produces completed artworks that abruptly stimulates our intuitive senses and intentionally establishes familiar objects into unfamiliar surroundings invoking personal involuntary memories and historical recollections. Her commissioned artwork ‘Present Tense’ accurately reflects an ongoing political situation in Palestine. Faithfully reflecting the historical endurance and indefatigable perseverance of the Palestinian people, invoking recollections and cultural remembrance. These personal and collective recollections naturally occur through the intuitive senses of sight and smell and the practical use of a simple traditionally produced product Nablus soap.

The French Novelist Marcel Proust advocates that our forgotten memories are buried somewhere deep beyond our conscious minds. He suggests these concealed associations with the unremembered past can spontaneously resurface through our unique interactions with material objects.

In his final novel ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’ Proust recounts the emotional moment he savours a madeleine soaked in hot tea, his Proustian Moment. The Madeleine acts as a personal memento involuntarily accentuating his previously obscured correlations between his heightened senses, emotional perceptions and his own subconscious mind.

Maurice Halbwachs, the French Philosopher and Sociologist theorises that our individual memories not only contribute to our personal identity but our proper place in civilized society. Plausibly suggesting that the conscious mind will seemingly reconstruct our forgotten memories within the confines of acceptable societal interaction. We invariable associate with those who typically maintain similar recollection, yet our personal recall of historical events can generally be dissimilar from the collective remembrance.

This research paper aims to clarify that involuntary recall of a historical event can happen spontaneously with no first-hand experience and on direct interaction with a familiar object. The fundamental notion that seemingly irrelevant, inauthentic yet commonplace objects can be utilised in a completed artwork as emotional triggers becoming characteristically memorable when put into a critical context.

Research Paper Tutorial 1

My first tutorial with Gareth Polmeer was to discuss the content of my initial draft of my research paper question and abstract.

My initial thinking had been to focus on the works of Christian Boltanski and Joseph Beuys perhaps most predominantly because I have researched their work a lot in the past and had written about Joseph Beuys during my previous degree, so I felt a degree of comfort reflecting deeper on their works.

During the tutorial I described my thinking in more detail and we discussed the potential for this to be to broad a topic considering the outline I had provided in the abstract.

Gareth advised me to consider perhaps using a different artist and also focussing specifically on two distinct pieces of artwork so as to make the research paper more specific.

The philosophies of collective memory and involuntary memory, being very broad constraints in their own right, the concept of focussing on two specific artworks would constrain these theories within a specific context.

The conversation with Gareth at this stage proved very useful to me and gave me the impetus to consider other artists and begin to frame my research question more succinctly.

Draft Research Question and Abstract – Version 0

An Object is just an Object, or is it?

By examining the art of Christian Boltanski and Joseph Beuys this paper will argue that successful associations can be made with the larger collective memory through the use of insignificant, inauthentic objects. This analysis will be completed within the theoretical concepts of memory defined by Marcel Proust and Maurice Halbwach.

Keywords

Boltanski | Beuys | Memory | Healing | Objects | Halbwach | Proust

Abstract

The artists Christian Boltanskiand Joseph Beuys are adept at fostering illusion, an apocryphal narrative and false re-imagining of historical recollection. Deliberately revealing seemingly irrelevant objects as historical artefacts where unconscious associations established through individual relationships and personal memories of these unimportant objects and the associated circumstances. Both suggest that ordinary materials and commonplace objects are inherent to our everyday lives and profoundly integral to our unconscious minds.

Marcel Proust advocates that our forgotten memories are buried somewhere in our subconscious beyond our conscious minds. He evidently asserts that these concealed associations with the forgotten past can resurface through our unique interactions with material objects.

In his final novel ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’ Proust recounts the emotional moment he savours a madeleine soaked in hot tea, his Proustian Moment. The Madeleine appears as a personal memento of his subconscious mind involuntarily accentuating his previously obscured correlations between his heightened senses, emotional perceptions and his own memory.

Maurice Halbwach theorises that our individual recollections not only contribute to our personal identity but our proper place in civilized society. Plausibly suggesting that the conscious mind will seemingly reconstruct our forgotten memories within the confines of acceptable societal interaction. We invariable associate with those who typically have similar remembrance, yet our personal recall of historical events can be dissimilar from the collective remembrance.

This research paper aims to clarify that involuntary recall of a historical event can happen naturally with no first-hand experience and on direct interaction with a familiar object. The fundamental notion that seemingly irrelevant, inauthentic yet commonplace objects can be utilised as emotional triggers becoming characteristically memorable when put into a critical context. Thus, actively stimulating remembrance and emotional healing.

Wildling Video Experimentation 4

Continuing on from Wildling Video Experimentation 1, Wildling Video Experimentation 2 and Wildling Video Experimentation 3 this post has some further experiments using the drone and the preliminary Wildling costume (in glove form). See The Wildling – Part 4.