Monthly Archives

April 2018

Making

Project Proposal

April 13, 2018

What is your project about? In 150 words outline your understanding of your developments following the recent crit.

The work began with research into the women and girls who were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery (euphemistically called ‘comfort women’) by the Japanese military during World War II. The work itself speaks of this forced invisibility and is a direct response to the research undertaken for my written dissertation.

The central themes of time, collective as well as personal memory, and testimony intertwine to cross over into new themes and questions within socially engaging practice. These new themes highlighted include how history is written and remembered, how women are forgotten in those retellings of history, and how we can engage with new histories with the use of testimony and documented experiences. The work looks at the pain of others and gives voice to their testimony, using the material of clay to bear witness to that testimony.

Titled ‘We must record these things that were forced upon us’, this facilitates bringing the work into the context of the ‘comfort women’ issue as these were the words of Kim Hak-sun, the first Korean woman to testify in 1991of her experience of forced sexual slavery by the Japanese.

What is the most effective medium to convey your ideas within the context of an Art and Design showcase? I.e. Website / Onsite Exhibition or Offsite Activity and associated documentation.

I’ve used unfired clay to cast small ceramic forms that I’d brought back from my trip to South Korea. These small pieces, once bone dry, are partially submerged in water and they gradually dissolve as the water penetrates the layers of unfired clay, causing them to flake off into the water.

The entire process is filmed in the Lens Based Media Studio with three video cameras from different angles, with the footage edited in a dynamic and satisfying way. The resulting film will be displayed against a white wall/screen, 8ft high, filling the space. The work needs to be at a large scale as this ties in with the center of my research around the vastness of the ‘comfort women’ issue.
The piece will be shown during the onsite exhibition in addition to screenings and panel style discussions during the BAAAD Public Programme.

Location:

I would like a dark space within IPS – there are a couple of sections within the project space that could remain unlit while not disturbing others’ work. Due to the satisfying aspect of the clay flaking away from the pots in the water, I want the area to be contemplative and quiet. I will be attaching the projector to the opposite wall with the use of a bracket, mounting the projector at a height so it’s as big as the wall is high. A closed off section of IPS would give the work an isolated feel, something which ties into the explored themes of forced invisibility.

Making Research

Projection Trials

April 14, 2018

Until now I’d always assumed I would show my work on a larger scale, as this ties in with the vastness of this particular issue of human trafficking, however, after speaking with Stuart and Sarah I’ve begun looking at alternative sizes to display the video.

My feedback for the Work in Progress show was to look at making the work ‘monumental’ as the pots were in the same formation as the monuments commemorating the five original women who came forward and sued the Japanese government in the early 90’s, so the question was asked: Why didn’t I make the scale of the work ‘monumental’? I thought this could be addressed by making the projection really large, but after trialing a couple of other sizes I’ve found a new language within the work that comes through when it’s projected at a smaller size.

With a smaller projection I felt like the work was a lot more intimate and enclosed. It felt a lot more defined and the quality of the image was a lot better than when it was projected at a larger scale.

ADD MORE HERE – Why does it work at a smaller scale?

Once I’d established how effective the smaller projection was I moved on to working out how I could display it at a smaller scale in a visually pleasing way, because having the projector 30cm away from the wall isn’t practical and disturbs the work too much. I want my viewer to be able to stand in front of the work and not have to look around a projector. In my original plan for the projection I was going to have the projector and media player hidden, as I didn’t want it to become a part of the piece. Hiding the equipment by installing it up high above natural eye level also meant the work could be at a large scale and the line of projection could eliminate the possibility of people’s heads blocking the image when they walk across the room.

With displaying the work on a smaller, more intimate scale I’ve realised I’ll need a solution to the new problems having to have the projector so close to the surface I’m projecting onto. I don’t want the viewer to have to look around something to see the work.

I went and spoke to Ana about these issues and asked if any previous students had worked out a way to project something onto a surface at a really small scale while simultaneously hiding the equipment. She ran through a few options troubleshooting possible problems against what I want the viewer to experience:

  • Do I want people to sit in front of it and watch it like a film?

    No, because the work will be very long I like the idea of people coming back to the piece to see how it’s changed since their last visit. Inviting people to sit down and view the work on a bench/chair feels too directional and I want the viewer to feel like they’re witnessing an event, not watching a film.

  • Do I want it to be low down and small?

    When I first projected the film onto the wall it was on a fairly low surface, initially I didn’t think this would be an issue but as I was watching it the viewing angle felt uncomfortable and wrong. I felt like I was crouching down in an unusual way.

  • So do I want it to be high and difficult to see?

    No, I think somewhere between the two would be better; eye level felt the most natural and the most appropriate as well. It invites the viewer to feel as though they can comfortably look at the film while making sure these encounters don’t last too long. 

  • How does the image quality change as I trial different sizes and how does that make me feel as a viewer?

    When the work was huge I felt it conveyed the vastness of the issue I was researching, however trialing it at a smaller size helped the work speak of different things, of fragility, of ‘smallness’, while also emphasised the silence of the video. These themes relate closely to my work in ways I didn’t expect. 

Ana went on to explain that I could make a slim rectangular plinth, with the projector at one end and a perspex screen coated in projection film installed at the other so the film could be back projected and viewed from the front of the plinth, eliminating the need for the projector to be mounted to a wall, or installed directly in front of the screen/surface I will be projecting onto. I trialed this idea using card as my mock back projection screen to see how close I could get the projector to the screen while maintaining the quality of the film. Obviously this isn’t a back projection set up and I’m seeing it the wrong way around but this helped establish how far away the projector would need to be to achieve the effect I want.

I used a previously built plinth to further test how far away the projector needed to be in order to get a clear, crisp, concentrated image. The typical throw range for this projector is between 1-8metres, however I found I was able to get as close at 20-30cm and still maintain image quality. I moved the makeshift ‘screen’ around a bit to establish what looked best and found the smaller it was the more interesting it became. The piece changed quite dramatically, from being a big unavoidable film covering an entire 8ft high wall, to a suddenly quite beautiful and ethereal piece at a smaller scale. Having the work smaller meant I could manipulate or make my viewer look at it in a different way, in a way that speaks more about the work.

While researching the ‘comfort women’ issue during my time in South Korea I came across a lot of images taken during WWII of Japanese soldiers lining up outside ‘comfort stations’ in occupied territories:

 

While viewing the exhibition at the Museum of Sexual Slavery in South Korea I noted that most of the images presented for display were shown on a small scale, with masses of text surrounding them. I don’t feel it necessary to include any text with my work apart from the title, however investigating the impact of displaying the work at a similar size to the images in the museum has turned up better questions about the work. Looking back on the images of soldiers lining up to visit ‘comfort stations’ as well as remembering scenes in various films which address the history of ‘comfort women’ I’m reminded of the small windows at eye height with a view into the rooms within ‘comfort stations’ where victims were forced to service soldiers:

I didn’t like the feeling of having the work low down, initially I thought this might work because it speaks of the way women are looked down on within society, but given that the film is being projected onto a flat surface it felt more of a hinderance to look down at it. With this in mind I tried looking at it at eye level, and found it to make me feel a lot more like I was looking at something happening for a fleeting moment – a moment in time where something is being destroyed but I can’t stop looking at it. The soldiers watching ‘comfort women’ being used by their colleagues saw something awful happening and may have watched for a time and moved on. Coming back to that window might have shown them a further degraded version of what they witnessed earlier.

This is what I want to achieve with my final piece, and projecting it at a smaller size at eye height achieves that feeling. The viewer may not be fully aware of what they’re looking at, but if they revisit the film and find the objects more and more degraded/destroyed then their understanding might shift.

Additionally, having the piece displayed at a smaller size means I won’t need to have the lights off in order for it to maintain maximum impact – the above images look dark but they were taken with the lights on, with the camera set in a way that picks up the detail of the bright projection. Having the piece displayed in a brighter environment means I’ve got more options in terms of location.

Next Steps:

  • Begin designing my display system.
  • Speak to Ana about ordering back projection film.
  • Book in with Charlie as soon as possible.
Making

Wednesday’s Filming

April 20, 2018

So Wednesday 18th was probably one of the most stressful days so far and for all the wrong reasons. I arrived early in the morning and transferred all the necessary equipment over to the Lens Based Media Studio before kit request opened, something I’d negotiated with Ana and Luke to make sure I could maximise my time in the studio and meticulously prepare for filming. I spent a total of six and a half hours setting the space up, as last time when I used the space to film I was only shooting with one camera, this time I had three. Setting up the cameras took the most amount of time as I had to work out a way to fit them all in while still accommodating for the screens in front of the lights. I used two tripods – one shooting the pots head on as I’d done in the previous video, one focussed on the pot in the middle of the formation at the front, shot from the side – and a Jib Arm shooting down, focussed on a pot on the corner of the formation.

Once I pressed record on each of the cameras I made sure I left at least five minutes before I began pouring in the water, to account for the cameras wobbling slightly (especially on the Jib Arm) and also to give me enough footage at the beginning to give the film a smooth start. Once I poured in enough water (1.5 litres) I had been advised to vacate the immediate area, leaving the cameras running. The reason for this came from reviewing the footage from my last film made, where I noticed during editing that whenever I went to check on how the pots where doing throughout the filming the floor wobbled the tripod ever so slightly, causing a wobble in the footage. The floors in the LBMS are all quite bouncy, and because Ana and I weren’t sure where would cause more severe bounce than other areas it was just safer and better to leave the cameras to do their thing. I couldn’t place one of the foam screens in front of the entrance to the LBMS because I was using all four screen stands, so I placed signage on the front door to F12 and blocked the doorway into the space with chairs and someone’s work that had been balanced in the corridor.

The total time filming was almost four hours long. Unfortunately this footage can’t be used as while the three cameras were filming someone entered the building and stole one of the cameras off the tripod, taking my work with them and compromising the footage captured on the other two. I had been periodically checking on the set up throughout the evening every 20/30 minutes, when I arrived for what I had hoped would be my final check on the status of the pots I found the tripod on the right of the set up missing its camera. After a lot of frantic searching it had been established that someone had stolen it, along with a number of lenses. I was able to view the footage from the other two cameras, and in the audio file for one of the films I can hear him moving around the room going through bags and boxes, and attempting the remove the cameras from the tripods, however because they’re quite tricky to use it took him a while to actually remove the plate. It was horrible hearing the audio, remembering how upset I was thinking that someone could do something like this.

Obviously I’m fairly upset, as I’d put so much time and energy into the day and was really excited about the resulting footage but upon reviewing it the following day it’s not something I’m happy to use for my final piece. It is salvageable with the footage from the two remaining cameras, but it isn’t how I want my final piece to look – the camera that was stolen had been set up in a way to show a really contemplative, almost serene angle of one of the pots disintegrating out into the rest of the frame and trying to edit what I have left doesn’t feel right.

Reshooting the footage brings up a whole host of problems I’m determined to work through, so the next week will be crucial in order to make sure I can make the best version of this work possible. After speaking to Ana it’s been established that I have a couple of options in terms of rebooking the studio space, at the moment I’m pencilled in for Thursday 28th until 16.30. I’ve spoken to Luke and my plan is to go in the night before and try and set up as much as I can before the building closes so I can maximise the amount of time I have for filming on the Thursday. I need to speak to the Fine Art student who’s in the studio space the evening before just to establish that that’s okay.

EDIT Making

Motivation

April 25, 2018

Motivation has been a huge issue since the camera was stolen last week. I didn’t think I’d feel like this, and it’s been difficult trying to push through it. Having my work taken away from me at such a crucial time was always going to feel terrible, and talking to tutors about it has made it easier to get back into it all.

I spoke with Linda Matti, who helped me with my dissertation writing, and she suggested exploring my own reflections. While I don’t want to rehash the actual event I think it’s important to reflect on the positives, despite feeling like its an impossible task finding any positives.

  1. I can reshoot and I’ve rebooked the studio between other bookings. Everything will be fine.
  2. I have the support of the technicians and they have been unbelievably helpful and kind during all of this. Everything will be fine.
  3. I still have enough time to make the work exactly how I wanted to make it. I don’t have to settle with what’s left. Everything will be fine.
  4. This is a good lesson in working practice, and despite not being to blame for what happened it’s helped me understand how valuable the work I’m doing is to me, and how important it is that I protect it in future. Everything will be fine.
  5. Everything will be fine.
  6. Everything will be fine.
  7. Everything will be fine.
  8. Everything will be fine.
  9. Everything will be fine.
  10. Everything will be fine.
EDIT Making

Thursday’s Filming (Final Piece)

April 26, 2018

Third time lucky ft. studio accident.

 

I don’t want to start every post during this period by outlining how stressful it all is, but maybe this is the most stressful so far?

 

I’m trying to remain positive and remember that this could be a blessing in disguise. I noticed while I was reframing that I had the opportunity to try something a lot more directional with the framing, that I didn’t need to do a carbon copy of the previous video because I don’t even know if it had worked.

EDIT Making

Plan

April 26, 2018

Since the workshops close on May 10th I need to make sure I manage my time well and really utilise the editing suite as much as possible. I’ve booked out a computer until that date, and Ana has spoken to me about a contingency plan just in case it takes me a little longer than that. I have a total of nine hours of footage so far, and essentially all of that footage needs to be viewed in case there are small things I need to fix. My plan over the next two weeks is to dedicate each day to working through 20 minutes of footage from each of the cameras (totalling an hour of footage each day). I believe the last 40 minutes of footage could be cut, as I set the shoot time to be a minimum of 3 hours but the pots seemed to disintegrate faster than the last time I filmed. I’ll start by looking through the last hour of footage to make sure that’s achievable – when I skimmed through it after I had done shooting it I didn’t notice any kind of change to the piles of remnants at the end but I wanted to make sure I had enough footage at the end so that the film doesn’t just end suddenly like the first time I shot with the C100.

The files are huge, totalling at almost 100GB in their raw format. When I come close to exporting the film as its final version I’ll need to make sure I can either leave it overnight or begin really early in the morning. I need to speak to Ana about the best option, as the final film could total as large as 40GB.

I’ll also need to look into buying a USB stick that’s a more suitable size or a fast SD card. Additionally, I might need to purchase my own media player, as currently the AV department aren’t able to accommodate all the requests they’ve had so far.  Given that I’m not doing anything complicated like splitting audio, or anything other than just using the media player to play my media, buying my own wouldn’t cost too much:

I’ll find out sometime next week if this will be necessary so I’m keeping my eye on a few on Amazon in case there are any deals that come up.

 

ADD INFO ABOUT PROJECTOR STAND