Monthly Archives

May 2018

Research

James Benning

James Benning works with film, focusing on a sense of place. His work is often built from long, unedited takes. The lengths of his films are determined by the lengths of film he’s shooting on. A parallel can be drawn with my work in that the length of my film is determined by the amount of time the pots take to dissolve. A few people have asked me why I’m not speeding it up so the viewer can experience a lot of the work all at once rather than relying on their patience and I feel it would do the subjects explored within the work a disservice, especially since I’m looking at the retelling of ignored histories and long term periods of silence.

That being said, currently my video is just over two hours long, and in some areas the pots don’t seem to be dissolving at all because the process is so gradual. I’m considering making a shorter, ‘cooked up’ version of the film, where I edit it together in a way that wouldn’t be as noticeable as if I’d just sped the entire thing up. I don’t want to speed it up as all that does it highlight the interesting effect of the water permeating the clay, rather than the clay slowly breaking down due to its materiality.

James Benning’s Ten Skies has given me a lot to think about in terms of film length. I can’t anticipate how long people will willingly watch my film for, and it would be a shame if someone sat watching it during two minutes where not all that much even happens. While I still have access to the editing suite I’m going to try and make a shortened version and see how it feels compared to the longer version.

I think part of me wants to hold onto the longer version because for me it represents all the time invested in this film as a result of the camera theft and I know I need to separate myself from that for now and think of what’s best for the work, not my own ego.

Making

Projection Films

Originally when I looked for back/rear projection film I did a general search and found myself looking at materials I didn’t understand and spec sheets that made no sense, additionally reviews I could find seem to suggest what I was searching for wouldn’t stay up for long periods of time and obviously I need to make sure it sticks to the acrylic for nearly 3 weeks.

I went back to Ana and asked for her priceless advice 💖

 

 

I started with ProDisplay, but their website had no prices. I double checked with Ana and she said she’d expect it to be about £30 for a couple of sheets, so I fired off an email to ProDisplay. This was the response and I died a little bit inside:

After picking my jaw off the floor I looked into contacting 10outof10 instead, ringing their London branch to work out if they could help me. They explained they had back projection vinyl and for £30 I could get a couple of sheets of dual projection screen, which would mean I could view the film from both sides. I asked for an email with all these details in so I could show it to Ana:

For obvious reasons I was concerned I’d misunderstood either Ana or the specifications given to me by 10outof10 and the ones on the ProDisplay’s website, so I went back to Ana and asked for her advice before committing to anything. She too was surprised at the difference in price and eventually worked out that 10outof10 only had the kind of screen you stretch over a frame, not the kind of adhesive film you ‘float’ onto acrylic panels. So that ruled 10outof10 out, which was disheartening because I was keen not to spend a fortune and ProDisplay seemed like my only option. Ana offered to phone ProDisplay herself to work out if it was in fact the correct kind of material and managed to work her magic and get them to post me two sample sizes (a4) of both their dual 360 degree film and standard rear projection film for free! Very happy and relieved, as finding out a bit of projection film could cost me over £300 after VAT and postage was not how I wanted to start my week.

 

All Hail Ana Rutter 👑

 

😎

Research

Empathic Vision

Affect, Trauma, and Contemporary Art

To identify any art as “about” trauma and conflict potentially opens up new readings, but it also reduces a work to a singular defining subject matter in a fashion that is often anathema to artists, who construe the operations of their work as exceeding any single signifying function. […] This is partly because trauma itself is classically defined as beyond the scope of language and representation; hence, an imagery of trauma might not readily conform to the logic of representation. But it also has to do with the interests of the primary subjects of trauma. If art purports to register the true experience of violence of devastating loss – to be about a clear event – then it lays claim to an experienced that is fundamentally owned by someone. Moreover, it invites a wider audience to partake of this experience in some way.

At the very beginning of this year as I was presenting my detailed plan for my dissertation – and subsequently my practice – I was asked why I was researching something so far away from my own experiences, from a time beyond my own, about women in foreign countries. Until now I’ve worried that art relating to traumatic events should be made by people those traumatic events have impacted, or at least people who can relate to the kinds of oppression the trauma was birthed from. Reading more about the language of trauma and violence within art and how that language doesn’t necessarily adhere to the representation of trauma and violence we understand has helped me understand my place within the discussion.

A form of philosophical realism grounds the notion that art can capture and transmit real experience. This realism sits uneasily with a politics of testimony. I want to propose that such a politics requires of art not a faithful translation of testimony; rather, it calls upon art to exploit its own unique capacities to contribute actively to this politics. […] we cannot limit the function of art – be it pleasure producing or redemptive; what is important is that art itself challenges rather than reinforces the distinction between art (or the realm of imaginative discourse) and the reality of trauma and war.

I’ve considered the possibility of including the actual voices of testimony within my work, however at present it didn’t feel appropriate as I would be combining the actual voices of survivors with a visual representation of their trauma which wasn’t made specifically from their experiences of trauma. Transmitting those two things side by side in this context isn’t appropriate for the politics of testimony. I want for my work to facilitate discussion, to bring light to histories being forced out of collective memory.

Governmental institutions have looked to change the narrative around the ‘comfort women’ issue, through the changing of text books, use of subversive language in their discussions of the issue, political deals made supposedly in the interest of victims, all while not listening to the demands of survivors. I don’t want to join this discussion in a way that adds the issue of not allowing women to use their own voices, but rather to reveal my own understanding of why their voices are being ignored.

Bennett, J. (2005). Empathic vision. Stanford (California): Stanford University Press. (p 3-4)

Making

Editing

Most of my time over the last few weeks has been spent editing the footage in the editing suite. It’s difficult to present the kind of work I’ve been doing, but essentially it’s been many, many hours staring at the footage to eliminate things like the camera wobbling, aspect ratio issues and colour grading.

Colour grading has been necessary on one of the sections of footage as I was using two C100 mk1’s (front and side) and one C100 mk2 (top) which wouldn’t set exactly the same as the other two mki cameras. The tones within the footage from the mk2 are a lot more purple, whereas the mk1’s come out a little yellow. Correcting them by eye has been really tricky as looking at it for too long makes it difficult to see the colours properly. I’ve had to work on it in small sections, making sure I look back on it with fresh eyes where possible.

Alongside that I’ve been building my final films, editing them in a way that keeps them interesting and dynamic. I tried to avoid making it too chopping, but also didn’t want any sections to be too long. I think I’ve watched it all the way through a total of five times at it’s current length of two hours.

Thinking about the length of the film and now I wanted to keep it as long as possible I realised I needed to begin exploring the idea of ‘cooking’ up the footage to see if it could be made shorter but in a way that wasn’t noticeable. I cut out extended periods where nothing seemed to be happening to the clay, with particular focus on the end of the film where everything is very waterlogged but not crumbling. The footage from the Jib Arm (shot down) helped cover up any cuts that were further along and overall I felt it was very successful. The new short version of the film finishes at around 38 minutes long, which while being still fairly long gives the audience the chance to see a lot in a small amount of time. One of the issues with the film remaining in real time at over two hours long was that if someone came along and saw only five minutes of it its likely they’d catch 5 minutes where nothing was happening and the work might not have as much of an impact. Whereas 5 minutes of a 38 minute long film is a reasonable chunk and they’d definitely see things happening.

My next steps will be to export both lengths of the film after I’ve masked off the top and corrected the aspect ratio so that it fits within the cut out on my wall, and check to see if my colour grading needs more work under the conditions the room will be in for the degree show.

Research

Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys was a key participant in the 1960s Fluxus movement. At that time, many artists in Asia, Europe, and the United States became dissatisfied with a long tradition of “heroic,” or object-oriented painting and sculpture. Influenced in part by contemporary experiments in music, such artists found themselves turning away from the art world’s prevailing commercialism in favour of “found” and “everyday” items for creating ephemeral, time-based “happenings,” impermanent installation art, and/or other largely action-oriented events. From roughly the 1950s through the early 1980s, Beuys demonstrated how art might originate in personal experience yet also address universal artistic, political, and/or social ideas.

Beuys suggested, in both his teaching and in his mature “action” and sculptural artworks, that “art” might not ultimately constitute a specialised profession but, rather, a heightened humanitarian attitude, or way of conducting one’s life, in every realm of daily activity. In this regard, Beuys’s work signals a new era in which art has increasingly become engaged with social commentary and political activism.

Research

Subjugation of Women & The Handmaid’s Tale

The word ‘subjugation’ hasn’t appeared much within texts surrounding the issue of wartime sexual slavery or trafficking in general, however recently while watching The Handmaid’s Tale I noticed discussions around the subject of authority of autonomy online, via Twitter & Instagram.

The story of Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale centres around a dystopian future where reproductive rights are taken from women and they’re also stripped of their bodily autonomy in the wake of a reproduction crisis. Women who can bear children are forced into a slave like existence, serving as makeshift ‘surrogates’ for high ranking officials and their wives through rape ceremonies. Any attempts to escape and they’re punished with violence or death.

Many discussions on the central themes of The Handmaid’s Tale revolve around how in today’s political climate, specifically in relation to America, there’s a feeling of unease over how close to home the violence against women feels. Be it within a domestic or public context, women are still feeling unsafe and without a right to their own bodies, without rights to their own children, to their homes, etc.

With representation of a history of violence against women appearing in mainstream TV shows new discussions are occurring around the voices of women and their experiences, as well as the representation of the rights of women being gradually taken away over an extended period of time reflecting current political climates:

As The Handmaid’s Tale Moves Beyond The Book, Is The Series Too Close For Comfort?

Making

Projection Film Install

With Zunaira’s help I installed my projection film, starting with the 360 degree sample. I needed to break the surface tension of the film so I sprayed the acrylic with some soapy water and then we placed the film on top, starting at the middle. Then using a squeegee I got rid of as many air bubbles as possible. It’s left it overnight to completely dry out before fixing the acrylic sheet to the MDF board.

After it had dried I used epoxy resin on each corner to fix it to the MDF. Once the resin was dry I tested a small section of footage and noticed a few air bubbles which wouldn’t shift with a squeegee. I didn’t want to try and install my spare film, as if that went wrong I’d be left with no options so I worked on a plan to cover the worst of the bubbles, which thankfully were mainly around the edges.

Using my footage I marked off where the edges of my film would be so I didn’t overlap and end up taping inside the cutout. I then measured out my carpet tape and tried to keep is as flush to the acrylic as possible. Once the tape was in place I covered it with gum tape, leaving the edges unstuck, as I felt this gave a cleaner finish.

Once I had my projection running and was able to see the work overall I was really pleased, considering the problems I was having with the projection film. The film sits flush with the cutout, and while the back has had to be ‘fixed’ due to the problems with the air bubbles it doesn’t feel like I’m trying to conceal anything to obviously.

Making

Notes for the show

Instructions:

Remote can be found behind the blind on the window sill.

  1. Turn on the media player first
  2. Then turn on the projector
  3. If the image isn’t clear then use the lens at the front to focus accordingly – it’s helpful to use the menu as a guide to make sure it’s crisp
  4. I’ve already set the zoom, however if it’s not lined up correctly with the cut out when it’s switched on then some adjustments might be necessary for it to sit flush within the cutout. The zoom slider is above the lens
  5. If the perspective is slightly off then key stoning might also be necessary, this can be found on the remote (+ & – signs)
Making Research

Feedback & Understanding My Audience

Feedback on the work has been positive, staff who have walked past have said it’s simplicity and size are striking so I’m pleased I didn’t end up making it huge. Some reactions the work so far have been:

“Tranquil yet destructive”

“Beautiful and satisfying to watch”

“Sad yet strong”

“Beauty in perishing things: something about the clay slowly withering away.  But then it becomes sad. I understand the educational aspect of it, the awareness. I get conflicted. Should I be appreciating the beauty of it? Or not?”

  • this one is particularly helpful in understanding my audience and how they react to the cues within my display, as I am aiming to reveal a history and a practice of silencing women through the same themes present in trauma – the eventual breaking down, the erosion, the helplessness of the situation, all while referencing windows to see things through, to witness something.

“That I’ve been indoctrinated under patriarchy to accept exploitation of and violence against women’s bodies – of my own body and the bodies of other women, so over the course of my life so far I’ve become desensitised to it. Which is both an intended effect of patriarchy but a coping mechanism too. Watching the clay pots dissolve in water is a visually interactive representation of the work that goes into creating life, inflicting trauma upon those lives, and how all too easily all this can be erased by the historical record. Work went into every clay pot, and for me anyway – I don’t know if this is what you were going for but – the water seemed to represent colonial and imperialist control of each woman’s story by eroding and eventually erasing it.”

  • This response came from a friend who saw the work during the Work in Progress show and I’m touched by how much she was able to read into the work. She had the added context of my dissertation, but aside from that I had only been showing her my making and my title and it seemed to click really clearly for her. Reflecting on her words has made me feel proud of how passionate I am about my research.

 

Making Research

Summary

Identify and critically engage with relevant research material.

Doris Salcedo
Mona Hatoum
Kim Juree
Menashe Kadishman
Jan Banning & Hilde Janssen

Analysis and synthesis of research into the successful development of individual project outcomes.

Notable research:
Kim Juree’s Hwi-gyoung.
James Benning’s Ten Skies.
Kim Hak-sun’s testimony
Empathic vision – Bennett, J. (2005)
The Subject of Rape – Helena Rubinstein Fellowships; Whitney Museum of American Art
Artwork as social model: a manual of questions and propositions – Willats, S. (1943)
The House of Sharing, Seoul, South Korea. (Visited July 20th, 2017)
Museum of Sexual Slavery by the Japanese Military, Seoul, South Korea. (Visited July 20th, 2017)

Critical selection and application of appropriate methods/technical and production skills.

Throwing (School buff and porcelain)
Moldmaking
Slip casting – producing large amounts of forms for performance, testing & final filming(s). Total pots made = over 130
Metalwork – initial display system
Performance – maintaining a routine of ‘performing’ the work every Wednesday at noon in line with the Wednesday Demonstrations.
Filming – use of several Canon C100’s, utilising various tripods and lighting set ups.
Projection – Trials with all kinds available in AV Hire
Video editing software – Adobe Premier Pro.

Utilisation of suitable sources/materials.

Working with information gathered while in South Korea
Leaving ceramics unfired – using their materiality
Casting a form that was relevant to the research – Korea, tradition, memory
Continuing to research into socially engaged practice after finalising making, thus expanding the themes of my work to include more than just this specific event.

Contribution to knowledge and debates in the subject area, including the limitations of the Major Project and potential future development.

Initially I’d have said I was a ceramics practitioner, researching in the forced invisibility of women’s voices with specific emphasis on wartime sexual slavery, however with the inclusion of video in my work I now understand how that has shifted and given new context to my work as I research the power behind documented testimony and socially engaging practice. I’m keen to further explore these new contexts, widening my understanding how my work sits in relation to conversations surrounding women’s voices within contemporary art, with the view that I’ll continue this line of research within a Masters setting after summer – something I’m really excited to sink into. I’m also looking forward to reflecting on the conversations I have about the work during the degree show.

Execution of the Major Project; organisation, clarity of presentation, consistency with conventions of the discipline.

The majority of my academic research was done before and during my dissertation period, where I was able to get to grips with the history of the issue I was researching, enough so that I could turn my attention to less obvious discussions during my making.
Most of my ceramic making was done between the end of Semester 1 and the first few weeks of Semester 2 – the longer the pots dried out the longer they took to dissolve so I dedicated a huge amount of my time to working in the ceramics studio.
With the issues I had filming the work after the theft of the cameras I made sure I kept both tutors and technicians updated on my progress and utilised their support as much as possible to get back on track. Editing took up a substantial amount of time but I allocated enough time working between that and my blog to make sure my eyes remained fresh on the work to ensure I wouldn’t miss errors/mistakes.

-Skills Learnt

Plaster mold making for slip casting using laithe
Slip casting en masse
Canon C100
Adobe Premier Pro
Digital colour grading for video
Projection film installation
Sanding made me feel like an adult

Thank You,

Ana Rutter for her unwavering support when things got tough and helping me whenever I had “just one more quick question”, and for always having “two options”.

Claire Walton for helping me approach new techniques in ceramic practice for weeks on end and for always having the time to show me new things.

Luke Pickering for laughing at my crap jokes while helping me set up over and over in the LBMS, and for getting earlier trains so I could collect equipment stupidly early.

Andrew Lacon for his production support bright and early (sometimes) on Monday mornings, also for leg wax inspo.

Stuart Whipps for his encouragement when I had no idea what I was doing, for his super helpful tips on painting over sanded filler and for always listening to me when he was supposed to be doing other stuff.

Dr Lisa Metherell for her unconditional love for colour coded timetables which, with a little added help during tutorials, kept me so on track I rarely forgot what day it was.

Jake Wilks for making sure I didn’t just sit at home doing nothing, for your endless encouragement and for making sure I left the house when I was supposed to.