Monthly Archives

March 2018

Making Research

Display

image

I began working on building a display system for my tank, as after the WIP show I felt it was appropriate to find a better way of displaying it than on the OSB plinths we made as a group. This turned into a really strange disaster due to restrictions on which metalworks equipment I was able to use.

I worked with Andrew Lacon to design a framework using box section. Measuring the base of the tank and using this as my guide for how wide the base would be I then worked out how to get as much height as possible out of the leftover box section I was allowed to have from the workshops (I had asked for some to be ordered for me but it never arrived). After this was all measured out I went to get it cut, discovering that a clamp on one of the machines was broken which meant I wasn’t allowed to operate it and instead had to leave it with a technician. After it was cut down I was then faced with the issue of acquiring access to the welding facilities, as the workshop had problems with extraction.

After lots of conversations with technicians I was told to order some plastic connectors as it seemed the extraction issue wasn’t going to be resolved. I wasn’t able to afford eight three way connectors so I salvaged four two way connectors from a structure leftover from a previous exhibition and waited for the other three way connectors to arrive. Once they arrived I assembled my frame and realised the connectors had added several inches onto the dimensions of the frame, rendering it useless for the tank. Additionally, the connectors gave the frame a really unappealing look, and reminded me too much of window display systems.

I went back to Andrew for production support and came up with a new plan, after finding out I could potentially weld over at Parkside. The new plan was to cut each corner at a 45 degree angle and spot weld each corner in order to get a more flush, refined edge. We went back to the metal workshop to work out what I was able to do and were faced with further issues due to the broken clamp on the metal cutter. We did, however, potentially have access to welding which was promising to hear, however were told it hadn’t been properly tested yet.

In the end, with the worry that I was focussing my energy on the wrong thing I agreed to abandon the display frame idea for now in order to focus on slip casting as many of my pots as possible, as since the WIP show I’d used almost 60 and didn’t have many left.

Making

Filming

During the Work In Progress show a lot of people asked me if I was going to film the process of the pots dissolving. I’d never considered it before as video isn’t something I’ve ever fully understood in an art context and often I feel it can be a bit alienating in gallery spaces. However after talking with my tutors I decided it was worth trying, even as a way of building a body of work, rather than just focussing on one final piece.

I borrowed a Canon 5D mk iii and set up a small filming station in the corner of the studio space. I wasn’t happy with the surface I was filming on as I had plans for a more refined display so I spent a long time working on the composition of the frame so that none of the OSB surface was visible in the shot.

Getting the depth of field right was tricky to begin with as I didn’t want to put the pots in until I was filming so I had to use trial and error, in future I’ll try and utilise the help of a second assistant to make sure the focus is sharp and perfect. I settled on f/4 as I wanted to keep the depth of field shallow so the tank wasn’t as prominent.

Once I started filming I carefully placed the pots into the tank, making small adjustments as quickly as I could and then waited.

Issues:

  1. The camera couldn’t film for longer than 29 minutes.
  2. The pots took a lot longer than previous pots did to dissolve.
  3. Because of the above two issues the battery drained completely before all the pots were fully dissolved.
  4. The natural lighting outside changed too much and the white balance in my video was all over the place.
  5. In addition to the natural lighting problem, I forgot that the lights in the studio space were fluorescent which caused a strobe type distortion in the video.

Resolutions:

  1. Borrow a camera better suited to filming for longer periods of time (Canon C100).
  2. Use a fresh batch of water and start right from the beginning instead of filming on the remnants of old pots.
  3. Battery issue can be resolved by using a better suited camera.
  4. & 5. Book out the photography studio for a day and work with lighting.

 

Video:

The above video is all the footage I captured stitched together with the audio removed, sped up by 999% (I couldn’t speed it up into four digit numbers). I’m not sure if speeding the video up is appropriate for the work, but it’s been used here for the sake of video length.

I noticed once I’d uploaded it to YouTube for my blog that around 20-25seconds in my reflection can be seen in the glass at the front of the tank, something I absolutely cannot have for the final piece. Ana has mentioned multiple times that it’s always important to view the work in lots of different ways throughout the editing process, as often seeing the same film over and over again on one screen tends to cause you to miss small issues that aren’t immediately obvious.

Making

94 Pots

Since January I’ve dissolved a total of 94 pots into my tank through both experimentation and performance of the work. These remnants are still in the bottom of my tank and as the mounds get higher and higher the pots take longer to dissolve. I wonder if eventually a pot will stand on it’s own, unchanged by the water, and if so what would this say about the work?

I booked out a Canon 5D mk iii and a mixture of prime and zoom lenses to photograph the remains in the tank, working to make sure the composition was clean and correctly positioned to avoid lens distortion as I was photographing a flat surface with the sediment in piles.

I cleaned up the image in its RAW format in Lightroom, I also worked on correcting some perspective errors. The tripod I borrowed was a bit creaky and once I’d focussed and pressed the shutter the weight of the camera meant it all got a little bit wobbly and once I’d readjusted the frame it was ever so slightly off. In future I’ll see about getting either a more secure tripod. Because I was trying to avoid lens distortion I needed the lens at about 50mm so the tripod had to be quite high up in order to make sure all the sediment made it into the frame. This meant that the tripod was extended to it’s maximum and that seemed to be a strain.

I then worked on getting close up shots of each pile of sediment and I really enjoyed how these looked. They reminded me of age rings in trees, which helps convey how much clay had been dissolved in each mound.

I feel the individual shots of the sediment mounds are successful and interesting, I particularly like the one above, as the folds of the wet clay mimic the lines in thumbprints, which are intricately unique in themselves and speak of identity. This occurrence in the clay is pretty much random and hard to recreate.

Shooting across the tank meant that the lens picked up the fractions within the layers of glass that make up the walls of the tank, which was disappointing because I wanted to shoot the mounds from an angle, because it was a bit more dynamic than top-down images. Finding a bigger, shallower vitrine/tank would help with this as there will be ample space to shoot over the walls.

Making

Filming Day Prep

This morning I borrowed the Canon C100, along with two prime lenses at 35mm & 50mm and a standard zoom lens which I’m fairly certain I won’t need but kept anyway just in case. I’ve had an induction with Luke where he went through all the functions of the camera and as I explained what it was that I’m planning to film he was able to help me with certain function buttons that’ll help me record the best footage possible.

Notes so far:

-Shutter speed needs to be x2 the frame rate otherwise the image will be ‘juddery’ and not smooth

-Peaking & Zebra functions will help me ensure the footage isn’t overexposed.

-ND filters are built in and it’s always good practice to make sure they’re not already on and to make sure they’re off when I’m done.

-Check audio input settings are correct otherwise I could end up with no audio.

-Shoot in cinema for the best quality.

-Plug it into the mains while I’m shooting to avoid battery worries.

-Leave at least half an hour at the end of filming before returning the equipment to transfer all the files.

-Make sure to transfer the Private folder too as this holds invisible data I’ll need.

 

I’ve scoured the building in search of an appropriate tray to film the pots in, as it made no sense to shoot through the low quality glass of the tank I bought for the performance of the work. Stuart located a nifty beige tray down in the casting room so I’ve borrowed that and cleaned it up.

Research

Books

-The Art of Rachel Whitehead – Whiteread, Rachel.

-Education for socially engaged art: a materials and techniques handbook – Helguera, Pablo.

-Cross-cultural issues in art: frames for understanding – Leuthold, Steven.

-Holocaust testimonies: the ruins of memory – Langer, Lawrence L.

Research

The Art of Rachel Whitread

Rachel Whitread’s Judenplatz Memorial in Vienna: Memory and Absence by James E. Young.

Rather than filling in the void left by murdered people with a positive form, the artist would carve out an empty space in Berlin by which to recall a now absent people. rather than concretising and thereby displacing the memory of Europe’s murdered Jews, the artist would open a place in the landscape to be filled with the memory of those who come to remember Europe’s murdered Jews.

Townsend, C. and Whiteread, R. (2004). The art of Rachel Whiteread. London: Thames & Hudson.

Making work about absence and presence, and voices unheard and silenced, has been difficult as I’ve been sensitive to the fact that memorialisation represents something entirely different to the listening of and documenting of testimony, and the retelling of forgotten histories. If anything, memorials are what change the narrative of the histories of violence in a way that doesn’t do much to honour the memory or wishes of those impacted, but does more to those who have been able to escape judgement for their parts in that violence.

Making

Filming

I arrived at the Lens Based Media Studio with half an hour to begin setting up before Luke could formally induct me into the studio space. I worked with Stuart to get my framing perfect and we discussed what kind of layout would work best considering I was using a plastic container with a harsh edge where the wall joined with the base of the tray.

Initially I was worried that having any lines in the shot would distract from the pots, however once I adjusted the composition of the pots I found the line worked to break up frame and helped establish a horizon so the pots had more depth in their arrangement. I set my aperture at f5.6 to help soften the seam in the background enough so that it wasn’t cutting a sharp line through the frame.

I worked with Luke to establish the most suitable lighting. I didn’t want harsh shadows and I wanted to avoid criss crossing any shadows I did have as the frame would have looked too busy so I opted for a stronger light on the left which gave me shadows on the right that I then offset with a slightly dimmer light on that side. I then added in some big screens to diffuse the light.


I began filming at 17.45, expecting I’d be waiting about 45 minutes until the pots dissolved and was surprised to find they took over 2 hours. I had the studio booked for 16.30-20.00 and I needed to leave half an hour at the end to transfer my files, but because the pots took so long to dissolve I had to return the equipment at 20.00 and come back the following day to retrieve my data.

While I was discussing my work with Ana Rutter she shared her own experiences with clay and suggested that because I’d left the pots to dry for a lot longer than I did for the Work in Progress show that their water content was a lot lower. Once water was introduced to the unfired clay that it took longer to absorb. She suggested spraying the pots with a water spray bottle of some kind in order to help them along a little, then waiting for them to be dry to the touch and then using them for filming as they’ll likely fall apart a lot quicker.

I think in my next round of pot making I’ll work out a system where I can keep track of which pots are older and therefore drier and which are freshly made so I don’t end up with inconsistency as well as long dissolving time.

Making Research

Title

In the lead up to the formative assessment I felt the work needed a title, considering it was without audio to give it more context, so I decided on a quote from the first survivor to publicly testify of her experiences as a former sex slave for the Japanese military:

“We must record these things what were forced upon us”

 

  • Uses the voice of a survivor to carry the message of the work
  • Speaks of the documenting of testimony
  • References the medium used in the work
Making

Formative Assessment Prep & Feedback

 

I took the two hours of footage and worked in Premier Pro to cut it down to show for assessment. The above video is what I showed in my assessment, upon uploading to YouTube I noticed it wasn’t the correct colour or brightness, but this is due to the fact that it’s been edited slightly to be appropriate for projection as that can wash footage out slightly. For the final show I want to have a full length video projected onto a large wall, playing over and over again with subtle edits where necessary. For the assessment I decided it was more appropriate to cut down to the most interesting parts of the footage. I collected a media player and a projector with a wider throw and projected the film onto the large moveable wall in G05.

The footage was really crisp in the foreground and obviously softer where the plane of focus fell off near the back of the frame. When I was editing it I didn’t notice it so much because the screen was at eye level, however once I projected it onto a wall that met with the floor I noticed it all felt a little low. I don’t want to display the footage higher, I want it to take up a large amount of space, so when I reshoot I’ll need to adjust my framing. I noticed a lot of the fallout from the clay forms ended up falling off frame, which is something I want to adjust in the reshoot as well.

Feedback

The feedback was encouraging and everyone really enjoyed watching the video. It felt immersive and intimate despite being so simple. The materiality is well considered and appropriate for the work, most of the improvements I need to make are small changes to the framing and refining details such a focal planes and making sure everything is 100% smudge free so the film is as clear as possible.

Language: Very Good – Very simple yet effective. Make sure the horizon line and framing are perfect in the reshoot. Work on resolving small issues with the materials used in the reshoot: make sure the container I shoot in is clear of smudges and marks, make sure the wall I’m projecting onto is also free of marks.

Skills: Good/Very Good – Refine all the small bits in the reshoot, perfect the simplicity of everything.

Ideas: Very Good/Excellent – Look into working on a small piece of text to give the actual work more context. The work itself might not need this but it could help for when it comes to writing something for the publication.

Communication: Very Good – Think about what three words communicate the ideas driving work & consider how these words are communicated when I reshoot.

By the next QRS group I should look to reshoot my video using several different camera angles, work on refining the small imperfections, consider how the materials I’m using speak of the issues I’m researching and how they communicate that to the audience without prompts.

Further thoughts:

I should try showing small segments of my work to viewers who aren’t familiar with my research and see what their feedback is.

I want investigate how the work changes when I introduce audio, either during filming or in post production – I need to test out a few options over Easter after I’ve gathered relevant audio. I’ve been thinking a lot about the feedback I had on the drafts for my dissertation earlier in the year, with Lisa commenting that the ideas were strong but the actual voices and experiences of the women I’m discussing were strangely absent from my writing. I think moving forward I want to see if incorporating that same methodology I used in the final stages of my writing can give the work more legs; by including the voices/testimonies/experiences of women how much does the work change, and does it need it?

I believe my work can have as many legs as I want, I just don’t need to extend them all the time.