I’m Baaaaack

And it’s time to plan.

So I’ve been saying recently that the work was slowing down a bit. Well we’re back in business now. Thursday was a good day. I was on campus at 9.30 in the morning and didn’t get home till half past 8 that evening. It was one of those days where I just remembered how in love with art I am. And then consequently realised how sappy I am also… But sounding sappy aside, I do enjoy days like that. I spent the day on the floor of my studio working away, occasionally nipping outside to steal some sun, and drifting in and out of arty chat with my studio mates.

We’re at that stage in the semester now where I can confidently say “It’s all coming together”. The work is mostly done and the space is looking good. Theres a few things still to do, sketchbooks and organisational touches, but I still have three weeks to go and I’m not panicking yet… which is unusual.

Everythings very chilled and ‘nice’ right now. My work is progressing steadily, the semester is coming to a relaxing end and it is sunnysunnysunny. Things are looking gooood.

 

                   

 

My studio is in preparation mood. Getting there though. I can see the end, and it looks alright. Deadline is 23rd of April. Wish me Luck.

25 Binoculars

Its a really boring task wrapping 25 awkward shapes in paper. Really boring. And its taken up a sizeable part of my week. Because it’s so boring. The best days in art school are the ones where you’re literally running between departments, fuelled by instant cappuccino and barely stopping to realise its got to 7pm. This week has had no such shine. Theres been a lot of dull important things to do. Like dissertation meetings and picking up/dropping off work at various places. Its caused a bit of a stall, but hopefully Monday I’ll be back with a buzz.

So yeah, I wrapped the binoculars and I really don’t want to look at them for a couple days. Hooray for the weekend. People keep asking “oh, so what does this mean?”. Perhaps I’m just a bit distracted this week because my explanations have been sounding a bit lacklustre and I’ve been getting irritated with the question in general. Its just my random thoughts… but in 3D and stuck on a wall.

I’ll try a more formal answer?

My work is about memory, nostalgia and obsessive sentimentality. This piece again is about the assignment of emotion to an object and about the dilution of the objects original value or purpose. Its the memory attached to the object that is important, the thing itself could really be anything. Hence why I’ve covered objects up here and multiplied them, to kind of highlight this loss of significance in the object itself and the importance of personal attachment. I’ve taken away the aesthetic and the purpose, you can’t use them if they’re wrapped up. Get me?

Anyone else think sometimes things are nice without an explanation?

 

Multiplying

Plaster Casting is fun. Having made a clay replica of my binoculars I then had to build a wall around them and melt some rubber to make a mould. (Stirring melting rubber really made me want melted chocolate… even though this mixture was red and had a strong distinctive smell.)The process of making the mould all went a lot smoother and more quickly than I imagined. Happy Rachael.

I made it on Tuesday and spent the rest of that week mass producing my binoculars. Each cast of binoculars took half an hour to set. This was ideal, I’d go down to sculpture and mix the plaster to pour into the mould and then run to metal with a set block of time to continue my other project. I like having targets and deadlines, it motivates me to keep moving. Structure seems to give me a buzz… that sounds weird.

           

I like having my space looking semi-formal, it allows me to view the pieces more finally and see if every things working and how they compliment each other. So I got shelves put up as soon as possible to keep the binocular project moving. I can’t function in a messy space either, so its important having some order. I’m becoming a bit obsessed this semester… Structure. Multiples. Order. Timing.

So now I need to wrap up the binoculars and get this part of the project finished. We had a group crit yesterday, this is when a group of fellow art students circulate the studio and talk about each others work. It’s insightful to hear what viewers are getting from it. My feedback seemed to be pretty in line with what I’m thinking. I’m starting to become aware that there are only 5 weeks left, I’m ‘on track’ but I think that pressure wave is gonna’ hit soon.

‘Things’

Sentimentality in materiality. What am I going on about now?

People are constantly trying to keep hold of the past. We assign memories and significance to objects, allowing them to represent events in our lives. Having a physical reminder of something provides comfort and reassurance that we did something, we saw someplace or we knew someone. Memory is not enough. Its odd really, and sort of a luxury. We accumulate all this unnecessary tac, give it power.

Would you notice if these things were gone? Do you look at them daily? Or is it just a comfort that you still have that old concert ticket stub? The memory itself is fading so the object is used to keep it alive somehow. Perhaps its even vanity. To prove you’re a certain type of person. Your ‘things’ can say a lot about you, and therefore its a selective process in deciding what to surround yourself in.

Personally I’m overly sentimental. I have a good memory for colour and image. This is handy, but can be annoying and provoke a lot of overanalysis. Getting ready in the morning would be a lot less of an ordeal if I didn’t attach memory so freely. I can look at any article of clothing in my wardrobe and instantly recall its triumphs and downfalls. I’ll use this as an excuse for my constant need to buy new clothes. But never throwing away the old ones of course.

This is all just musing really. About the importance placed on often unnecessary material objects. How people tie themselves to their ‘things’ whether the things themselves are valuable or not. Bellow is a photograph of a few of my possessions. I’ve covered some up and even though their appearance is hidden their sentiment is unchanged to me. Its not for aesthetic value that we collect and horde, but for personal comfort. Three of those objects are second hand. Which addresses another habit of mine. Being nostalgic about times I have not even lived through. Talk about clinging onto the past…

 

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Now playing: Sentimental Heart – She and Him – YouTube
via FoxyTunes

Why I like Christian Boltanski


I like French contemporary artist Christian Boltanski. From what I’ve read, our thoughts on art go hand in hand. Boltanksi admits that when you’re an artist, ideas of creation sometimes just don’t come, you can sit for days feeling unproductive with no drive or spark.

“You must wait and hope – there’s nothing else you can do. And when you have an idea, you can do it in 10 minutes.”

A lot of manual work, building and making, is time-consuming, but often the idea itself and the initial sketches can happen in a very short space of time. Sometimes this is reassuring because on those dwindling hours of having nothing to work on, you know that something could inspire you at any minute. Something small. Ideas come from the tiniest things. A lot of time in art school is spent sitting at my desk, idly scribbling nonsense words. Time to ‘do nothing’ is so important in the thought process. Boltanski reiterates,

“Sometimes in two minutes, you realise what you must do for the nest two years. Sometimes its in the studio but other times its walking in the street or reading a magazine. Its a good life, being an artist, because you do what you want.”

I always find comfort when I read interviews with him. The way he openly admits to artist block and even commends it is refreshing. Its easy to feel lazy when theres no ideas.

Aside from his attitude and views on art, I like Boltanski because his work is beautiful. He takes heavy subjects, the fragility of life, memory and loss, and works them with such a subtle flair, often even with humour. The image bellow of No Man’s Land shows a giant pile of used clothes and a large crane scattering the clothes into separate clusters. A good example of Boltanski’s subtle handling, the piece does not scream his intention, but allows the viewer to draw their own conclusion. A child would look in wonder at the giant crane, an old widow might see the clothes and think of remnants left behind by the dead. A young adult like myself might be intimidated by the scale of the piece. When I see this, it hits me how small I am, how many people have come and gone before me, and the traces they leave behind. I’d love to see this piece up close, to let it fully affect me.

So there’s a little bit about why I like Christian Boltanski.

It’s All Over Now

2011 had its ups and downs, as all years do, but was still a little bit amazing. I always get quite sad at new year, I’m not a fan of change and the future scares me frankly. So all I can say is “bring on 2012” and hope for the best.

This year is dissertation year, start of degree show plans, figuring out what I want to do with my life… This is a little bit much for my head to take right now, so lets take it one step at a time. A new project to get into shall suffice for now. I got good grades for my work this past semester, but I want better. So I’ll get better.

My feedback seemed mostly positive. They advised me to look at some examples of architecture and try to incorporate old with new, rather than just ‘old’. I’ll have to think about that one. My wardrobe project in particular was met with enthusiasm from the tutors. However, I was told that if I’d made one change, I would have got a whole grade better. Which sucks to hear but at the same time, I kind of already knew this, I just didn’t have the guts to go ahead and make that change. The opinion was that if my piece had simply been an empty wardrobe on a bed of berries it would have said so much more. I was too scared to do this. I tried to highlight the point I was trying to make by putting empty jars inside my once-empty wardrobe, to comment on empty space. But they’re right, I should have left it alone. Need to take more risks and get some confidence.

 

Capsules 4, 5 & 6

Some more boxes anyone?

I’ve had to go into uni before 9am every morning to switch on the little lights inside each capsule. Nothing like rolling out of bed at 8 in the morning and pounding down Perth Road to ‘Yellow Submarine’. It’s good, cause it gets me up early so I can spend today doing Undiscovered Landscape work… and watching The Big Bang Theory…

Number 4 was fun to make. It includes a piece of driftwood, some curled up leaves and three boxes of spent matches. Again this comments on the passage of time with the objects inside all having been used or changed over time. I sat in the studio and burned through the first box of matches, but they kicked me out to do the second and third, apparantly it caused some paranoia amongst tutors. In fairness, I am very clumsy, so there was probably a good chance of me setting the building alight.

It was a lot more difficult than I’d assumed, installing shelves and making things balance and hang in all of the capsules. Circles have proved to be relatively awkward shapes to work with.

 

  

Its actually a miracle that everything in Capsule 5 is secured and staying together. Theres hidden metal rods, masking tape, double sided tape and an extensive amount of glue. The spools are from a used typewriter ribbon. I threaded through a new ribbon of paper, with my own scribbled signature written continuosly throughout. This was a comment habit, rhythm and memory. Our hands instictively scrawl a signature without thinking about the words, it becomes its own image, a label.

Continuing the idea of text as image, and writing certain things out of habit, I have continued the use of ‘filler text’ this semester. This is text that is used in typing-excercises, usually nonsense but it always amuses me that it becomes rhythm and sticks in peoples heads. I also find that what is nonsense text in the context of a typing manual, becomes apparantly signifficant when used in an artwork. When seen within this box, one might read it with the fluidity of a poem, considering the meaning, when really the original intention was nothing to do with a narrative.

Another aspect of the uniformity between capsules is the little golden plaque on the door of each. The plaque shows a hyroglyphic symbol corresponding to the number of each box. This encourages the collaberation and layering of knowledge and multiple subject matter, that was seen in the old encyclopedias. The numbers provide another aspect of this and also emphasises the idea of documentation and presentation.

 

I kind of think of the final presentation of this piece as an installation with little assemblages throughout. The desk, the suitcases and the drawer are important aspects of this piece just as the capsules are.

Theres so much in this project. Little details, some that aren’t even seen. Scraps, images and tokens, that have been given signifficance. Hopefully the viewer can observe and appreciate this, constructing their own relationships from it and enjoying the aesthetics overall. You tell me…


 

 

The Push

Deadlines are approaching. Sometimes the panic becomes a background thing and all thats felt is a drive to finish. It’ll get done, because it has to. This past week I’ve probably done the work I’d normally do in 3 weeks. I’ve been up before 9 every morning and have been staying in uni til around 7. And it feels good. The capsules themselves took a while to make so its good to get onto more resolved work.

This was basically my blank canvas at the start of last week. It was a little bit daunting, the prospect of having to actually do something creative with these perfect circles I’d made. I was feeling a little precious about ruining them, which isn’t a feeling I often get in my artwork. I usually enjoy the ‘happy accidents’ and the unpredictability of experimentation. I managed to overcome the fear anyway.

Inside each box is a variety of typed text, assorted found objects, and histological images. Quite the mix. The objects range from some shells and an old boot picked up on Musselburgh beach last Winter, to some spent matches of my Grandpas, refound in our garage over summer. This variety links back to the mix of articles found in those old encyclopoaedias I read over summer, and also to the patchwork way our minds work. I like the way memory works, keeping fragments of events and giving seemingly unimportant things signifficance. I think the theme of memory and this idea of remnants of things lost, creeps up a lot in my work.

The histological images are courtesy of my friend Scott and his uni studies. I like that to me they’re pretty and look like planets but theres this whole other importance and relevance to human life that lingers. It seems to work with the layering of theme and different aspects of knowledge I’ve got throughout this project.

One of my six in-progress capsules. Still a bit rough in terms of finish but I’ve got the objects installed and the lighting pretty much sorted, so its on its way.

Bring on assessment, I guess.

 

Artist’s Statement

A wee bit of official stuff for you! This week there’s a Recorded Tutorial. Basically we’ve to present the current state of our studio work and talk about our progress complete with a written report on what we’re doing and intend to do. Its a bit wordy and maybe a bit too ‘arty’ for some, but thats art school…

This semester my work has taken the form of Assemblage Art. Having scavenged and collected a store of objects from human teeth to a pair of 1919 binoculars, I was drawn to the overall concept of ‘free association’, an unconscious associating of seemingly unrelated objects. In the summer of this year I began collecting old encyclopaedias’. These books fascinated me with the apparent jumble of issues; academic tutorials on physics would be followed by an article on ‘How to Bake a Chicken Pie’. I am interested in the idea of seemingly unrelated issues being channeled together and therefore being assigned a common theme. Although the issues in these books did not flow by subject matter, their common factor was simply that they had been bound together in this book for others to observe. This excited my interest in documenting and presentation, I have always been fascinated by the ability to simply change a setting and thereby completely alter a context; one of the most famous examples of this would be Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’.


When something is put into a gallery space, and even more so when it is put into an isolated framework, the level of significance and the way in which it is viewed is completely changed. In my artwork I have a great interest in framing and documenting smaller works, I enjoy the importance this isolation can bring a found object.  I have previously worked in photo frames and large boxes, I wanted to advance my study in third year by moving onto more solid capsules. The construction and form of these capsules is of great importance to the overall aesthetic of the piece and therefore a significant amount of time has been dedicated to making six circular wooden boxes. The technical structure of these capsules has so far been the biggest challenge this semester. I have been making good use of the advice and resources offered in the Fine Art Workshop and my technical skills have progressed greatly. Making the capsules for this project has been time consuming and challenging. However, I am happy with the final form these have taken and am now eager to arrange and assemble scenes within them.                                                                There is an intricacy to encasing logically unconstructed ideas within a solid structure. With the objects being seemingly unrelated in any other context, the viewer is given a freedom and opportunity to perceive their own relationships as well as enjoying the spontaneity of the visual itself.                                                                                                  I have found inspiration when creating this project from the works of Christian Boltanski and Arman (who’s work I was able to view at the Pompidou) with their ability to assign emotion to regular objects such as biscuit boxes and lightbulbs. Also, the work of Will MacClean was brought to my attention when visiting the City Art Centre earlier this year, out of the many assemblage artists I have researched his subtle compositions are some of the most affecting.


Having collected objects, text, photographs, printed images and produced drawings and mini assemblages over the course of the semester I feel my work is now at the more experimental stage of seeing what ‘works’ in my final capsules. The piece is centered on the action of storing and keeping fragments of objects and text, I feel memory is always a theme therefore that emerges in the overall concept. This idea of maintaining images and layering fragments is reminiscent of the mind and its ability to recall and retain. So, in their visual representation of free association, my assemblages are commenting on the unconscious mind as a collector.                                                                                             I have made plans of each box, each with its own identity, however, I prefer a more physical approach when it comes to this stage of the assemblage. When making the capsule structures, rigid plans were necessary for the success of the construction, but in the installation of the content within the boxes, I feel a ‘trial and error’ approach is more efficient.                                                                                                                                     I feel the concept itself allows for context to emerge and grow as the work does. When placing objects together, narratives and relationships are formed in a more natural way. I am on schedule with the development of this project, there is still a lot to be done, but I am confident and enthusiastic about the final outcome.

Sick of Circles

Most of my work is brown this year. Just an observation. It’s all very old and woody…

I finished my capsule structures. I owe the workshop guys big time. The resources and advice available in the uni is very underrated. I wouldn’t have known where to start had I been doing this on my own. It was good to have consistant advice available but still manage to do the majority of work myself after some demonstrations.

                

                

There are so many inbetween steps that are never going to be apparant in the final assemblages. I’m glad I didn’t just buy hatboxes though. Theres a lot of pride when somethings made by hand.

So now that the structures are done, this weeks focus will be content and context. Getting near the deadline now…