Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Material and Conceptual Investigations_7

Materiality 2 - FINAL

Final Images -
1. Community I
2. Community II
3. Conversations
4. Reflections

5. Intersections
6. Thoughts I

7. Contemplation and Balance
8. Visitor
9. Experiences
10. Passages
11. Front Window Treasures

This is where I decided to go with the final images - 'dislocation' or dissolution, the personal memory or experience, the personal experiences... and I'll see where they take me... my inspirations are Paul Pfieffer for his concept of mediation of time and image, Elaine Reicheck for her discussions in the "postcolonial discourse" (would this make me an Orientalist? I have African masks, Indian saris, Chinese teasets, Aboriginal and Japanese painting in my house...). Ann Hamilton's use of environment and senses, Magdalena Abakanowicz, and Do Ho Suh's concepts of crowd and 'belonging'...

Did a final scout of China Town for the installations and then went on Friday and did the final shoot in the rain - the rain landed up being a great visual interest. I used reflection and wetness wherever possible.

Time and Space with a focus on Change:
dissolution of traditions
minority groups living abroad or dislocatoin of foreign peoples, "assimilation"
personal experiences of culture and individuality in societal structures

Other Time/Space Ideas:
1. Tradition (textilemuseum.org)

2. Deriving from nature (over time) or removal from nature (wolfgang laib).

2.b. Deriving from and transforming in nature (andy goldsworthy installations) - Kinetic sculpture/materiality, ephemeral art/installations

3. Building artwork's memory (vija clemins) over time

4. Building relationships with external world (ann hamilton, tim hawkinson, paul pfeiffer

5. Dissolution of relationships with objects or people over time (paul pfeiffer)

6. Changing of the context of matter (suggesting memory) over time, affecting meaning through time... transforming meaning and/or memory (lara splan and rachel whiteread)

7. Recorded time - historical, geographical, social, materials, tradition, context

These are ideas typed from my visual diary, so they don't make much sense yet, but I will keep thinking. I enjoyed the discussions and thoughts I had around my submission 1 pieces with people, so I've really used them as part of my moving forward...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Material and Conceptual Investigations_6

Materiality 2

TIME AND SPACE FOCUSSING ON CHANGE – relationships of teacup with its surrounds, surfaces, textures and colours.

Previous experiments – I enjoy projections and reflections, so I also incorporated rain and viewpoints where ever possible.

Inspirations – Do Ho Su, Dorothy Caldwell, Caroline Broadhead, Annette Seeman, Lucy Freud and Elaine Reichek
Choices of objects
– tea cup purchased in China Town during my living there for many years.

image 1 - inspiration

Thread – intertwined relationships, dependencies, communication and memories.

Rolled up Chinese papers – cut out from the China Town Gazette, a local paper for foreign Chinese immigrants.

Red vegetable dye – I tried paints, but didn't want to stain porcelain – I experimented with a few dyes and found a vegetable dye that I dripped into the cup over 3 days. I wanted to use this as a representation of time and change... it turned out on the day of the photo shoot, it was raining, so I just let the cup dye run and enjoyed the results.

Motivations – I am interested in my memories of my time in China Town – I am an immigrant myself, and it was the first time I lived in an area that is non-English speaking. I reveled in the anonymity of such a culture rich in traditions and sensory experiences.

China Town experiences:shopping, eating, smells, languages, grime, incense and money trees, porcelain and noodles, lucky fountains and seating, lamps and smiling faces.

Narrative – my experiences of living in China Town, the places I frequented, the pattern and textures I was inspired by. I love the rain, so I couldn't think of a better way to represent reflections than in a beautiful setting.

There's a thought about urban environments in there too, organized balance and traditional representations of a China that has been 'symbolized' in these small urban environments. I think many might find the idea as a sort of 'kitsch' representation of a rich culture, but I was inspired by the words of Elaine Reicheck, whose aim is to “take 'scientific' document s, made out of an “objective desire to record” - I was interested in her conversation with art as a means of representing the issues of “cultural identity” - this is an area I am interested in researching further.

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Final - Materiality 1

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Materiality 1:
To represent a memory with reality as a combination of time and space – in a sort of 'capturing of a memory based on an experience

By day three, my leaves were dying... I gathered my now brown leaves, went through them and found a leaf which had the partial red colouring on it still. I then wrapped the brown leaves in a sort of lament, and then wrapped the visual diary notes from my excursion in the same fashion. I placed the objects in man made boxes From IKEA, which I thought was quite fitting – the nature away from nature... and then I created a backdrop, similar to those found in professional portrait studios my family went to year in and year out, to photograph the family looking all clean and happy. I chose to use a repeated image in a variation of colours, because my memory of the day changes when I think about what mood I am trying to convey about the situation.

Day 1 - Leaves – vibrant and red...

Day 3 - Leaves – … in their caskets...

Day 5 – ... I tried to skeletonize the leaves, with very little joy

Elements and Method...I then created a backdrop using Photoshop taking a photograph from the internet of a 'lovely leafy natural backdrop' which I printed out in various seasonal colours as well as black and white. I 'stitched' the A3 pages together to create a backdrop similar to those found in professional portrait studios my family went to year in and year out, to photograph the family looking all clean and happy. I chose to use a repeated image in a variation of colours, because my memory of the day changes when I think about what mood I am trying to convey about the situation.

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Materialty 1:
Process and Inspiration...

I have started looking through the artists I know as well as the artists recommended for inspiration, and I have also started diarising my thoughts on Space and Time. Hopefully over the course of this thread you'll get to see how my process evolves with this piece...

A few weeks ago I went out to a nature reserve. It was incredibly wet and humid. Now, the thing was I walked around the environment a bit, and was inspired by the textures and surfaces of everything... specifically, there was a type of red leaf across this area - in most cases there was one leaf for every square meter of ground. I gathered up as many leaves as I could in the space of two hours and have brought them home.

I realised something as I removed the object from its environment. In this natural surrounding it was unique, and vibrant. I've taken about 40 or so, and in a box on my work desk, they're no longer unique - they're part of a 'crowd' of natural objects... so my first reference there was back to my thoughts in my essay on Magdalena Abakanowiczs' 'crowd' analogy.

I was gathering the leaves, I thought of how man-made objects had found their way into the nature reserve, and presented a contrast of space and nature (my thoughts here are built urban environments vs. urban 'natural' environments). This again reminded me of some of the intentions of artists we'd investigated, and on a level of 'nature' others I'd investigated before - artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Bob Verschueren and Lise Letoumeau.



I have many thoughts on how to bring my ideas of process into this. I am not specifically interested in a purely natural environmental slant, so I'll keep on thinking and writing, and see where this takes me....

Material and Conceptual Investigations_Theory_5

Ghada Amer

The first thing that struck me about a large body of her work, was the beautiful and textural way in which she embroiders. Her canvasses are multimedia fiberworks with a great transformation between acrylic and embroidery, or drawn line and thread, it's really different in this sense.

The diversity of her tackling a themes such as gender and society is of particular interest. From the sewn stereotypical bodies in Barbie Loves Ken, Ken Loves Barbie (image 1), to Les Maries (image 2) and then to Red Diagonales (image 3) - all completely different approaches...

There's an interesting site article on inscribing the body. http://africa.si.edu/exhibits/inscribing/body.html . The site quotes: "Ghada Amer addresses text and the body through embroidery. She uses this quintessential female art form to portray complex ideas about gender stereotypes and identity. By embroidering two body suits with texts that repeatedly declare "Barbie loves Ken, Ken loves Barbie",
she assigns male/female identities to two androgynous figures. In this way Amer questions gender roles, especially those based on popular American icons."

I think that sums it up pretty well for much of her pieces. The use of embroidery is a very female craft which she certainly exploits in her more sexual pieces, such as Trini (below).

I particularly like this piece because along with the overtly sexual linework, in very 'primal' colours (red and black and blue), there is one figure in there, looking away from the audience... fairly demurely (well, that's what it looks like until you navigate through the lines and find another face (blue and yellow) looking up at her - more like you're catching them in the middle of a sexual act. Most of her women look directly at the viewer (like you're in a peepshow)... or closed eyes, as if you're even more the voyeur (like a peeping tom). This piece just keeps you looking and looking - more is revealed by colour and line, and more of what she is presenting becomes apparent.

She's using the painting, drawing, sculpture, performance and installation pieces to present you with erotic motifs - mostly recognisable - and often presenting women as auto-erotic and self sufficent rather than passive and powerless beings. Initially I felt she was exploiting the 'sex sells' pornographic approach to art, but there is much to be said about looking at a crafted piece with so much richness and irony and realising she's making a very clear statement about feminism.

"Feminism can be empowered by seduction" (Ghada Amer, in Feb-Mar 2000 edition of Elle Decor)

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Ann Hamilton - thought provoking, historically and socially questioning ... wow, I just enjoyed her work...

She uses all the senses in her work. The Tower at Oliver Ranch - it's scale and acoustics, certainly make it feel timeless. There's a video on SPARK, where she talks about the location, building and intention of the work. And certainly, timeless comes into it in a big way. The detail from seating windows, spiral staircase and the facade, not to mention the shape, just inspire me. You can't help but be drawn in... it's like every aspect of the experience of The Tower has been thought out. I know she talks about having to change the location and materials etc. to suit the structure and acoustics, but it certainly seems like the end result was 'meant' to be there - so much a part of the environment's being.

I enjoy her use of materials which are so fitting for the environments she works in - I wondered whether she sees the location and then creates the installation to the works? It doesn't sound like it, more I assume that her works just appeal to the environments she chooses to exhibit in, or build on, which I felt with Paul Pfeiffer's buildings and use of materials... they evolve. She talks about how the environment, her work and herself cohabit or occupy a space - as "... always dealing with a state or a place or an edge, a border, a threshold, a place that's in between. And I think that's the place that I occupy within my work and that perhaps the work occupies. "

(bearings) 1996

I really like the idea of sound and imagery in her installations - extra sensory to the touch and see of a usual sculptural form...

ghost... a border act - 2000

Scale is a big part of that feeling of 'uncomfortableness' in ghost... this is a use of space Hamilton really works well with - whether to create harmony (with Tower) or a more ominous feeling with an installation such as ghost... it's funny, I have always battled to understand the feeling an artist is trying to convey in a piece - often times I just don't get it. But with Hamilton's works, I certainly understand some part of it...

Will keep on watching her inteviews - there are a fair few on youtube and pbs (Art:21) ... her work is like her - a solid confidence.

Theres a 1.30 hour talk by Ann Hamilton on her recent and past works...

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Wolfgang Laib and Vija Clemens

I've just reread Wolfgang Laib's comments on art and nature... and because I chose to explore this in my first freestanding sculpture, and couldn't quite fine the voculary to express my thoughts on not trying to represent 'environment' or 'nature' I found this quite interesting.

From http://www.jca-online.com/laib.html

Ottmann: When you spread out the pollen, it doesn't took natural anymore. It seems very artificial and unnatural.

Laib: Of course. It’s not about naturalism. Many people think that my work has a lot to do with nature. Yes, it has a lot do with the natural world, but not only that, it’s much more complex. I would never agree to be part of a “nature show.”

Ottmann: Doesn’t art always reflect and carry with it the thinking of its time?

Laib: Yes, but I think the better the art is — you see this in history — the more it really makes a change to something else. When I think of Giotto’s painting of St. Francis of Assisi, even though he is not an artist he is an important man — more so than Giotto who made a painting about his life. St. Francis really changed his life and his work. For me, he is interesting. Giotto is an incredibly good painter, but St. Francis is for me the more important man. He really made changes and had an incredible vision.

The Five Mountains Not to Climb On, 1984

I then went back to Vija Clemyns work, which I thought initially was just about reproduction of an image - which she does admit to being a part of the work... but I thought of her representation of nature, and thought that perhaps she too was, in a complex manner, trying to represent nature in some of her works... I know she says she took images and environments of interest and recreated those, I just wonder whether on some level she's not doing something similar in trying to present you with the importance of surroundings. Although her pieces are about creating a man-made object which represents a real one... hmm... not sure. Any ideas?

I really enjoyed Clemins' work I think because of the craftsmanship more than anything... not the accuracy so much. Her prints and attention to detail are incredible.

“Untitled (Web 2)”
Mezzotint on Hahnemühle Copperplate paper, 18 x 14 3/4 inches

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Rachael Whiteread

Another artist using the 'space' in a monumental form to depict of our everyday lives and (time) history is Rachael Whiteread. In House (1993) she made a ".. cast from the last row house left in an area in East London that was being demolished for urban renewal. The brick and wood structure of the house was used as a mold for the casting... and [after] the structure was stripped away, what was left was a ghostlike monument to the private insides of a dwelling turned inside out". http://www.damonart.com/myth_uncanny.html

There is a sense of not being able to associate a historical/time and space in this work, as well as an odd sense of loss of comfort and an odd unrecognisable architectural language telling you what happened to the building - it's stories over time. It looks more like an ancient civilization has left some sort of burial tomb behind rather than a home, where 200 years ago, families lived.

Whitread's House and similar works play on the 'uncanny' - confronting the human need for an understandable recognisable form... the uncanny as “in reality nothing new or alien, but something which is familiar and old established in the mind and which has become alienated from it only through the process of repression." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny

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Time and Space... Do Ho Suh and Magdalena Abakanowicz

I looked into Cornelia Parker, and Anniken Amundsen - mainly because of their uses of time and space. I said Parker's work had a sort of outerwordliness, whilst Anniken Amundsen presented a very innerwordliness in her work. I have now meandered throught the whole list, and found just so many different approaches by artists to this theme.

If you look at Do Ho Suh's use of space and representations of everyday life and times in his works, you get a great sense of upliftment, flight... pleasant memories of time past perhaps, especially if you look at the works he did of his home from his childhood (father's house).

This short essay discusses the work of Do Ho Suh and Magdalena Abakanowicz. Because of the diversity of talent in the recommended list of artists, I found referencing the the artists by Subject, Elements, Method and Intent a way of explaining why they were interesting to me.

Do Ho Suh creates life size replicas of functional domestic spaces. Specifically, he recreates his childhood home and his New York apartment – as isolated, diaphanous, suspended, multi-coloured living spaces, which overshadow the viewer. There is a great sense of reflection in the use of fabrics, especially noticeable in Gate (1995) and Staircase (2003/2004/2008). Accurate measurements were taken by Suh to create the patterns for each piece, which were then cut out from Nylon or Polyester and sewn together in Korea. Each form is constructed over a stainless steel structure. Suh puts is choice of material down to the fact that he is able to fold the structures in his suitcase and travel without carrying too much. Even that experience feels transient to me.

If you look at Suh's use of space and representations of everyday life, relationships and time in his works, you feel a great sense of tradition and nostalgia, memories of times past, of identity and an emotion of not quite belonging... even in his New York apartment series.

He talks about his leaving 'home', moving to New York and how these places play different (and sometimes conflicting) roles in his life as an adult and artist. Initially he noticed he felt "a longing for this particular space [Seoul]" but that “once you leave your home. it's quite an unsettling experience, because you feel like you don't belong anywhere".

http://www.designboom.com/eng/interview/dohosuh.html - this is most apparent in his use of elevated structures made of the fragile transparent materials on a very thin, yet strong, steel frame.

In Staircase (2003/2004/2008) I felt a great sense of process and relationship over time, which interested my in my ideas of Time and Space.

This piece has a history of its own – one which tells you about Suh's interactions with the people around him, as well as the spaces he inhabits.
It is based on a staircase and floor in Suh's landlord's apartment. After six years of living in the same space and revealing their common interest in art, Suh was only then comfortable in asking permission to measure the space. Extending his process into another person's living area was a new experience for Suh, who refers to the work as "a spacial manifestation of the human relationship and of the ambiguous boundaries between personal and public space."

Image 2 - Staircase – V, 2003/04/08. Polyester and stainless steel tubes
Courtesy of David Winton Bell Gallery

In contrast, Magdalena Abakanowicz's subject is 'the countless' – the quantity where counting no longer makes sense. By unrepeatability within such quantity of crowds: human and natural - a riddle of nature abhorrent to exact repetition or inability to produce it, just as a human hand can not repeat its own gesture." http://www.abakanowicz.art.pl/about/-about.php - To me, there is a representation of the idea of strength in numbers, group mentality vs. individualism or the notion of the shared experience..

Like Suh's work, Abakanowicz creates life size structures, but chooses to represent human body and organic forms, which are natural and express individuality.
Grounded flocks and crowds, singular free standing seated headless or shrouded figures, leave you with a sense of oppression and liberation - a contradictory participation - as if Abakanowicz is expressing personal experiences vs. historical dictation.

Adult figures and childlike figures – headless or shrouded – stand outwards, or away from the viewer encouraging you to ask the piece's story, but from a distance. As in Coexistence, Abakanowicz's figures have a natural texture, similar to that of bark or weathered skin, with enough human detail to distinguish the form's approximate age and gender.

Materials Abakanowicz use s in her works, such as Coexistence (2002) add to this sense of oppression – burlap, resins sculpted onto a larger than life human form. Organic, with the imprint of the artist's fingers. The lighting of her works, as with Suh's work is important; it gives you a sense of grounded experience and solidarity of form of the crowd moving as one.

These works interest me because they represent Abakanowiczs' memories of existing in a Communist regime which repressed individually, creativity and intellect in favor of the collective interest. As with the Abakan series, which were individually powerful pieces, the figurative sculptures lost their individuality in favour of multiplicity – however each sculpture, material treatment and story reminds me that this is an intensely individual experience. Perception and memory vs reality. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magdalena_Abakanowicz

Images from the Abakanowicz official website: http://www.abakanowicz.art.pl/

Material and Conceptual Investigations_2

Experimentation - grayscale

This is something we experiment with in drawing and painting, so I've done a few examples in a sort of textile fashion.

Stitch is included on a few examples. Definition of a stitch is:
•a link or loop or knot made by an implement in knitting, crocheting, embroidery, or sewing
•sew: fasten by sewing; do needlework (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)

Definitional of grayscale:
•A continuous tone image comprising black, white , and gray data only (authors.nejm.org/help/techglossary.asp)

There are many ways to represent tonal gradations from black to white, here are a few examples:

In most of my examples, I've used a pushed or pulled motion to wrap, reveal or conceal parts of material, board, wood or paper.