Week three : Blog ‘ Who were you when you made the work?’

Last week’s web-chat was about how to use our MA blog as a reflective research tool. I admit that I felt rather uncomfortable with this because of the personal process of writing and the public demonstration so immediately through publishing regularly. As a young teenager I loved my 7-year diary with a lock and key. Private thoughts and reflections. I like to make and create my work, carry out my actions, document my process( sometimes obsessively), hold it in on my personal hard-drive and trust that the residue of that will be experienced and carried forwards by others, possibly also invisibly. There is a large part of me that feels that is enough, it is done.
Little or nothing needs to be ‘shown’, exhibited’.
Every small action is cumulative, personally and collectively. We are our archive.

So this action of regular posting is, for me, essential for my reflective practice within the academic MA framework but also as part of the questions which will provide the framework for my MA. They are inextricably linked.

I have been unwell for most of the week and am still somewhat restricted, and so have been spending time sleeping, possibly dreaming and assimilating invisibly all the new information that bounces around at the start of a new project.

I have even had very vague and developing visions of how I may make visible some work in a way that feels comfortable. That’s interesting. Especially as I searched around in the e-library for some ‘pictures’ to inspire me before I went to sleep.

Often the work of other artists thinking about the same issues as me  e.g. Kerry Tribe does not excite or move me. I find it very interesting but not affecting. This concerns me. I do want to steer clear of pure sentiment however, which is always a danger when considering memory. As I write this post I acknowledge, of course , that Jonathan Kearney was correct. I still feel uncomfortable with making my process visible, possibly more to myself than others. As he said …the blog acts as a mirror and he gave us this quote.
In the act of writing, you are written – Daniel Chandler

Daniel Chandler is a semiotician based at Aberystwyth University who saw at its introduction, the computer, as a means of expression rather than information for learners. (‘Aber’ coincidently has featured in my past professional and personal lives- note to self- Chart coincidences! ) Referencing it has reminded me of an artist I have found exciting – Mike Pearson )
This reminds me to look again to Liveart for what I may need to employ.

Weeks two – three: proposal and practice

Proposal – reflections

The last couple of weeks have been interesting! Thinking so much about the Proposal made me feel like rabbit in the headlights. I initially wanted to hide in reading theory as I had done just before starting this MA to make me feel as if I ‘knew something’.

Henri Bergson – Matter and Memory.

Then to take train to London to seek inspiration  and comfort in a library of solid, sweet smelling books.

This is surely seeking reassurance form others who have already passed this way as well as finding  academic and practice  contexts.

After our web- chat on Tuesday 16.9.14 I watched the video links and found Jo Love’s discussion of her practice -based PhD proposal  helpful, partly because she was talking about print and it’s possibilities – The way she draws on print and uses digital and analogue together – a ‘material’ practice that really explores the nature of the image.

I have been thinking of working with a local print workshop and wondering how I can ‘justify’ this in my practice and proposal.This lecture will help me think more about print-making as a methodology and also my need for justification! I will post the link when I finally update to a new computer and can simply copy and paste it from Skype chat- not possible for this ‘old laptop’. Discussions of ‘old and update’ later…

The David Cross lecture regarding Research Methodology gave me a feeling of confidence in just ‘following my nose’ in search of direction – of trusting in my senses to lead me. I liked the description of the ‘action-based’ model from social science which very much fits with how I feel emotionally about my practice . However, I tend to want to make a tangible object sometimes.

Is this another justification thing? Something that I feel people will accept, understand and value rather than my place-related responses. Part of me knows that these actions and their residue do affect people and that they do carry them in their memory and conversation as well as formal documentation and yet I still feel a sense of inadequacy as their purposeful un-monumental quality.

Quite a paradox to unravel before or during the writing of my proposal.

I often feel as if I am saying one thing about my work and my intentions and yet doing another—–that there is insufficient clarity. Some years ago Sarah Cole commented that I did not take what I did seriously  enough and that my practice would never have an absolute clarity as it was not that sort of practice. That was most useful at the time. There are references to personal mythology in my work, not necessarily mine and sometimes collective. Maybe it is time to realise those connections again?

Practice

At the end of Week two  I started to play with some cassette tapes that belonged to my late father and asked a colleague, Claire Winfield, to film on my iPhone ( also filming her playing too). Initially the  action was intended to be about the haptic quality of the tape and the associated sound it produced. I had thought of a much bigger performative action at some point, using my whole body and some’ wrapping’ type action which features a lot in my work. Some years ago I had started to knit a blanket with the tape but stopped before it was large enough to do anything with, Maybe time to re-visit.

The documentation I chose to work with was of me ‘playing with the tape’. I had looked through some old C.D’s in the studio which had belonged to Claire’s recently deceased mother, as for the future piece I wanted to use sound which may be on the original tape, during the performance. The only music suitable was Sibelius Finlandia. This was a strange coincidence ( I am fascinated by co-incidence) as it is

  • Is well-known as an English hymn ‘ Be Still my Soul ‘ lyrics written by Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel in the 17th century.

Be still, my soul, the Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change He, faithful, will remain. Be still, my soul, thy best, thy heavenly friend Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

  • known for its Nationalistic links ( pertinent with the action being considered by the British Government at this time
  • known for its WWII associations ( both my father and Claire’s were Prisoners of War in the Far East from the fall of Singapore in 1942 to VJ day following Hiroshima and Nagasaki)
  • by a composer who was loved bothe by my father and me.
  • also has Welsh lyrics ( Gweddi dros Gymru or A Prayer for Wales) -my father was a Welsh speaker and `Claire’s mother Welsh by birth.

We played  the CD, I played with the tape and Claire filmed. I have edited the video roughly as iMovie audio fade out won’t work properly (yet another old version) and played with exposure/contrast/brightness to give three versions below.

I find playing a combination of them together interesting and imagine them projected, possibly as an immersive installation.

I will play with projection next.

I also made some tracing drawings of photo documentation from an action from October 2012 and some traced drawings from stills of the video. See Post below for further details.

Experiments with analogue materials

I am aware that the soundtrack and its associations are loaded with cultural, as well as personal, meaning

(see above).

The former may override the latter for a viewer and so make my interpretation of the video in the context of my practice, irrelevant and invisible.

My concerns are those of personal experience of an event, how this experience is stored and accessed in association with future experiences; individual, shared or collective.

Also the effect of the senses, in this case: haptic, auditory and visual, and the resulting affect with its relationship to re-experienced events through remembering.

I have been thinking also about forgetting as an emphasis and I think this comes through unintentionally in these pieces.

More the destruction of memory than the preservation of it?

I think that, maybe in working on drawings of the documentation of an action, the material process acts as a sort of immaterial ‘processing’ ( of the archive?)

Thinking and memory-making

This blog is, at present, a place where I am trying to concentrate and clarify my thoughts into something more accessible and easier to assimilate for future reference, whilst another complex almost random and unconscious process happens within me, day and night.

I am becoming more aware of how my methods of recording information, making notes and processing what I have read, act as an archive and look like as a representation of my process of memorialisation.

The images above show how I make my notes and record my thoughts as I read, watch, listen and talk to others.

I plan to handwrite the text from the post-its into a notebook and maybe use it in a post here on the blog.

Using the post-its concentrates my thoughts into small pieces or ‘bites/bytes’ for re- consumption.

Reading the almost prophetic work of Philip K. Dick – ‘We can remember it for you wholesale‘ which was filmed as TOTAL RECALL and Ray Bradbury – ‘Farenheit 451′, and Henri Bergson- Matter and Memory feeds into my process.
They all explore the way that experience and information is ‘laid down’ and accessed later in the human body and the implications this has for us as ‘self’ and humanity.

‘her’ (2013) by Spike Jonze is also extremely interesting, as the operating system in the title role responds and grows through its ‘digital’ memory of others and its own experiences via various interfaces.

Week 1- Binary and printing


My thoughts for some time have been regarding units of memory, digital or embodied.
I am interested in the concept of prints used as a means of fixing memory.
What is fixed and how fixed is it rather than a drawing which is more fluid, inchoate, temporary?
The impact of our ‘digital age’ is likened that of the invention of printing press in the 15th Century and so to Enlightenment and Reformation in Europe.
As I am moving back, re-examining and re-presenting work it felt appropriate to investigate the some of the earliest examples of prints.
Rather than those made directly with hand and mouth,40,000 years ago I wanted to explore those mediated through another material, an interface, between hand and the print made.
I used Sumerian cylinder seals 

I wanted to reduce ‘something’ to composite units: Text to binary.
At night, a fragment of remembered speech/verse/text came to me as I fell asleep.
I cannot remember if I heard it/ spoke it/read it.
I typed the few words into Safari on my phone and found the full quotation:

‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’
William Shakespeare – Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 159–167

and converted it into binary notation:

01010100 01101000 01100101 01110010 01100101 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01101101 01101111 01110010 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01101001 01101110 01100111 01110011 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01101000 01100101 01100001 01110110 01100101 01101110 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01100101 01100001 01110010 01110100 01101000 00101100 00100000 01001000 01101111 01110010 01100001 01110100 01101001 01101111 00101100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100001 01101110 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01100100 01110010 01100101 01100001 01101101 01110100 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01110000 01101000 01101001 01101100 01101111 01110011 01101111 01110000 01101000 01111001 00101110

The initial small positive and negative cylinders have a small amount of the binary notation inscribed.

Below is a monoprint of part of the text and also the residual imprint on the glass plate after the print has been removed.
This latter is, of course, not reversed whereas the print is.

Using prints of the documentation images from Unscheduled (2010) seen in my first post, I made monoprints and photographed the prints and the residue as below.
This time the digital ink prints I used to draw from were in black and white and of rather poor quality.
It was hard to determine the lines I wanted to follow.
The lines I made did not follow the original as exactly as before.
Some lines were made which I realised afterwards did not follow the original thread but were joined as I saw them as I was making this drawing.
The print became more of a construction based on an original than a representation.
It was not even made from my memory of the drawing or of the original performance, but an act of piecing together the fragments of visual information I could retrieve from the paper copy to make an image on the paper and the glass plate below it.

Introduction

This blog describes some of the work I am developing as a starting place for my MA Fine Art Digital research September 2014.
This post shows examples of my work processes which investigate the perception and re-presentation of experience through process. By re-using the remains of previous processes as a continuation of ‘trace’, the works explore the fluidity of experience and the impossibility of preserving, quantifying or measuring it. Physical action provides agency which spreads contagious activity and conversation.
Recent work responded to location and considers the paper archive and emotional affect.

The relationship between physical sensation and embodied memories intrigue me, especially when confused or ‘faulty’. Forgetting rather than remembering.


Unscheduled II (2010) was a performance emanating from a mutual recollection
and recreation of an experience of bereavement, and thread which was repeated using the material residue of previous action. Collaboratively documented using photography, video and drawing, it was otherwise unwitnessed.
Graphite pencil drawings (2013) were made using the printed documentation images as reference, scanned as .pdf then converted to .jpeg for uploading to the blog.
A similar series of drawings (2013) were made by tracing in graphite pencil from the printed documentation images.
The tracings were then layered in a linear sequence.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


At the site of a now derelict paper-mill, large rolls of paper were floated in the mill race and then retrieved.
The debris was laid out using it to draw on the grassy mounds of bricks left at the site and photographed for documentation.
Drawings were made by tracing over the images on the computer screen and then overlaid.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


In response to the same location I invited an audience to cover me with personal bank statements from the previous decade.
This was interpreted, by those who had not witnessed the covering, as a sculptural piece.
I continued conversations with those around me, my voice disembodied and my presence not immediately recognised until my emergence sometime later.