Through Level 6 I feel I have focused and identified my practice. Through encouragement and guidance from my peers and tutors I have had the confidence to produce work that has pushed my practice into other disciplines. By identifying strengths in my work (that I previously thought were weaknesses) I have found a way of working that I think disrupts the traditional boundaries of illustration. The role and function of illustration itself is changing. Our decreasing attention spans and increased time spent on the internet means illustrations are required to be more efficient at grabbing our attention, pushing a message and standing out from a sea of images and information. To break up this mass reproduced, mass consumerist, mass bombardment, mass confusion, mass of mass is increasingly difficult. I consider the work I produce to be quite desperate, compulsive reactions to this. The central theme in my work is the role of humans within society, and how we live within the faceless virtual and urban multitude. Consequently, I have evolved a way of working that epitomizes what I consider to be key human qualities that set us apart from our surroundings. My work throughout level 6 has been honest, untamed and ugly a lot of the time. It is full of mistakes, awkward parts that don’t fit, nails poking out of wood that shouldn’t be there. The materials and media I am drawn to are raw, used, discarded materials that are not traditionally desired. I think this is a reaction against the glossy, treated surfaces and screens that feed us with
Problems I have encountered in Level 6 include channelling my obsessive nature and chaotic energy into a coherent and technically sound project. Before Level 6, I saw both these qualities as great weaknesses; however, through reflection and evaluation in Negotiated Practise I learnt that these are interesting parts of my practise. For example my obsessive need to record everything I do related to creative projects I considered to be a desperate and rather irritating ‘A-level’ Art quality; a need for praise or sense of accomplishment through volumes of work I created. However, I think handled in the right manner adds an energetic and boffin quality that is strangely captivating. In Level 4 and 5 I found it very frustrating that I would have to vigorously research and experiment and reflect to produce a final outcome, whereas my peers would (seemingly) effortlessly turn out a fantastic outcome without the sweat, tears and tantrums I encountered. My overly close involvement in my work and deep thinking (which is unnecessary and again, desperate) is something I can’t switch off. I judge my work against my peers often and get very frustrated why my work can’t be more refined or clever or humorous like theirs. Probably the most important lesson I have learned in Level 6 is that you can’t force these qualities on your own practise that don’t come naturally. You have to acknowledge all your bad points and see the good side to them. I think everything I learned in Negotiated Practise about myself propelled me into EMP with a running start. I didn’t want to break up my momentum and enthusiasm I had from negotiated practise. I was shocked by the positive feedback I received, as I hadn’t seen the strengths in my work. I think gaining self-confidence and belief in my work has been an integral part of my personal development and an essential skill for applying for post-degree projects.
For EMP I wanted to explore a theme or concept that was relevant to me, my generation and the rest of the world. Andre Bretons’ ‘The First Principles of Surrealism’ for me encapsulated the mood of everything surrounding me whilst undergoing this research. It highlighted the harsh realities that ‘few people realise how miserable they really are’. He goes on to propose that ‘as long as capitalism endures, humans will grow increasingly miserable.’ To support this, ‘Human Scale’ by Kirkpatrick Sale states that ‘Every survey or poll undertaken in the West in the past twenty years has gauged a mood that is unhappy, distrustful, disgruntled and alienated.’ I am reminded about this everywhere, the way we talk to strangers, our irritable attitude and constant frustration with everything. A book of David LaChapelle’s fantastically absurd compositions that are the epitome of escapism immediately struck a chord. ‘Living in this time is difficult, so many things are sad, flipping through pictures is an intermission, a break of beauty’. Art can be used as a means of recycling monotony and everyday into fantastical creations that can excite and engage into an energizing environment. I have a desire to create work that can encourage social change or at the least prompt reflection or thought. Arts purpose or function in our increasingly unstable economic climate is uncertain. Its reputation as being inaccessible or pretentious or bullshit was proved for me when in Negotiated Practise I animated an installation on Boscombe high street. It was possibly my favourite aspect of this project, with the best quotes from Brian, a Boscombe local. He told me he liked to ‘Jackson Pollock all over his mattress’ and that my work was, ‘well a bit shitty innit.’ It was so interesting to be met with such stares of confusion and pure ‘why are you farting around with that rubbish while the rest of us are trying to work’ from the people of Boscombe. I questioned my intentions a lot afterwards and the place my work has in our society. There is such a transformative and transcendental potential in art. It can stand up to the sophistication of corporate culture, which I think is very important.
When I went to Berlin on a cultural exchange at the beginning of this project my questions about ways art fits into society were answered. In Berlin art has such a central role in daily life. The arts scene is so exciting and integral. I felt extremely inspired. The highlight was the Hamburger Bahnhof, where there was such a plethora of work. In particular, Joseph Beuys Installation. I hadn’t heard of Joseph Beuys before but I was blown away by his work. It was like organised chaos, lo-fi aesthetic, parts that related to each other, producing a narrative. It wasn’t pretentious at all. I felt welcomed to explore, walk around and watch. Since seeing his work in Berlin I have read some interviews and texts of his which have been equally inspirational. Beuys sees great potential in the power of universal human creativity, proposing we are ‘capable of dismantling the repressive effects of a senile social system that continues to totter along the death line’. Art ‘counteracts the destructive elements of human coexistence where meaning is lost and devoured faster than it can be injected’. The loss of meaning is directly linked to the dissolving dissuasive action of information, the media and the mass media. I wanted to continue along this vein, reacting to all the mass I consume everyday.
With all this in mind I re-read an extract that I highlighted for a project in Level 5. This was an extract from Joe Stretch’s’ novel ‘Wildlife’. His writing manner struck a chord with me. It was seedy, grimy and completely honest. There is a sensuality and savagery that bluntly describes our hungry escapism and culture of sensation. I wanted to produce the visual equivalent. A raw experience that depicted our lusting, suffering and crazed humanity through installation, film or performance that had humorous and sinister undertones. In the extract interesting paradoxes between virtual reality and ‘reality’ are made, ‘a virtual boy for the actual worms’. Specifically in this extract Stretch explores how sites such as facebook and MySpace are used as ways people boast about mundane things and the way this warps our relationships with one another. The internet, which was originally meant as a vehicle of self expression and means of connecting humanity was exploited and monopolised into the corporate ground of boundaries and limits. The counter culture to culture. This reminded me of a Baudrillard quote I once read about societies reaching delusional states when they are globally linked and have reached the height of knowledge. Research into Baudrillard has provided me with invaluable quotes about the way we have lost what reality is, and now we live through the media, through mass reproduction and reproducibility. I find it really helpful when attempting to visualise ideas that I have words to clarify in my head exactly what I’m trying to say. I revise these words like I’m going to be tested on them. I have found this a successful method in keeping me on point.
Wanted to have the same control over audience experience that Peter Pfeiffer ‘The Saints’ had. I felt guided through his part of the exhibition with perfect amounts of anticipation and expectation. The feint sounds of the chants had your brain working through common associations of chanting. Your instinctual curiosity is teased. He gave us a suggestion, not giving too much away. A small screen then focused your attention at the end of a massive white hall-like space to a tiny screen. Behind the wall with the small screen there is a split screen of a football match. Your mind immediately works overtime trying to find significance that football has in an art gallery. These two things are never normally even remotely linked. In my opinion, by appropriating iconic 1966 World cup final footage the work is made more accessible to a broader public. To achieve this strong intent and message like Pfeiffer I scrambled to the best solution my limited technical and practical know how could achieve. I had a clear idea of how I wanted the participant to feel. I wanted the audience to be active participants rather than immobilised spectators, the choice of participating is an action. When researching the nature of silence and sound (initially referring back to Joe Stretch’s’ ‘silence, please’ quote), key words came up that described how I wanted the participant to feel. These were the feeling of a physical force or weight, demand, difficulty, load, hurry, compressing, heaviness, insistence, press, heat, hassle, strain, tension and trouble. The opposite of this is ease, facility, competence, dexterity, efficiency, lightness, fluency, effortlessness, readiness, skill, smoothness, spontaneity, poise, and propensity. Luckily for me this attributes were the opposite of what I was trying to achieve, I don’t think my building skills would lend themselves to lightness, competence and poise.
I brainstormed how I believed a physical manifestation of the internet could look like. I think what interests me is the voyeuristic element to sites such as facebook, people watching your status’, likes, dislikes and photos. You don’t know or you do know people are watching you? You’re in a private environment (i.e. your desk or bedroom) being watched publically (research into ‘cookies’, basically the id of your computer and its online movements). This was the basis of my idea and all the other aesthetic decisions branched off from this. Here is a description of the intended participant experience: you’re wearing a helmet connecting you directly to your surroundings. The distinction between you and your surroundings is less clear than usual. As you sit in an overcrowded space information is thrust in your face. The rickety shelves bursting with unorganised loose papers loom over you. Your head is held in position by the helmet so you are inches away from the screen. It’s too close and the helmet which seems comfortable to begin with soon becomes too hot, too bright, too tight, too loud. Once the helmet is on you feel like it’s hard to escape. The stench of paint is intoxicating and the beige walls are exhausting. What’s in the sketchbooks, folders, handouts? Is it important? Does it matter? Inside and out you are overwhelmed with information. On the outside there are remnants of former glory, replaced with seedy, over sexualised, over reproduced, over edited imagery. It’s all too much to take in. I hope this is how the viewer feels. I wasn’t able to refine the details of this as much as I would like because the reassembling of the booth took longer than I expected. I personally feel when I sit in the installation and watch the animation the combination of the mixed media and uncomfortable surroundings achieves the overly crammed and frantic nature that we are all scrambling to be noticed.
I think the animation was the least successful element of the installation. I think the sound has that uncomfortable, grating, unpredictable quality I was trying to achieve but I think the visuals could have been much stronger. Rather than spoon feeding the participant with the text I wrote in the animation, I would have liked to leave the message open to interpretation. I was thinking of connecting another web cam to the screen outside the booth. So the people outside the booth watching the participant inside could be seen by the participant. This would create an awkward situation where the two groups could see each other, maybe even try to communicate. Would the voyeurs feel intrusive or empowered and so on. Alternatively, I thought there was room to experiment with multiple screens playing the various animations simultaneously. Another thought I had about the animation was that a lot of it was edited on computer. I think this made the message slightly muddy because there was a clear rejection of computers in the exterior handmade qualities of the installation. I think if it was completely live footage or unedited film or stop motion it would have had that undiluted smack of raw energy the installation needs to have full impact. I think that the overall idea could be so much more sophisticated, less literal and obvious. This is how I tend to work though, I have to create things to see if they work rather than judge them by design. I work in a trial and error way, stabbing in the dark a lot of the time. I think this makes the process of my work quite interesting, which is why I think documenting it is necessary. In the mid-stages of building the booth when it was more structural and skeletal without panels I preferred the aesthetic. It had a confidence or poise to it that I found calming and satisfying. I think that for free range I want to continue the development of this idea. I want to attempt to make the setup in a more architectural form, progressing into a narrative landscape type form. I’m also considering possibly extending the interactive qualities and exaggerating the voyeuristic qualities of the installation. I would also like to include some kind of promotional material. I think it is important to have something people can take away, less chance of your name dropping out of their already full minds. I would like to do this in a way that captures this feeling of bombardment. I am presently applying for sponsorship to aid this project financially.
As my work sits on the borders of illustration it is hard to specify exactly who I should be aiming my work at. I don’t think my work is ready to be commissioned, so I have been focusing my applications to work experience and artist residencies. However, I have a file of creative practitioners and companies that I find really interesting that I regularly update. This ranges from illustrators to musicians to design houses to art squats. This has acted as an initial mailing list for my promotional material ‘Tran-script’ (newspaper format). I chose the name transcript as it literally means ‘a printed copy.’ I wanted something that accommodated the multi-modal nature of my work, and that would link and lead directly to a moving image (on my website www.tran-script.co.uk). This will be updated every month, with themes that centre on our existence. This may change and evolve into a more specific genre over time. I am keen to continue setting myself deadlines to keep myself motivated and producing work. The Newspaper club charge £100 for 100 copies. This is affordable enough and a good amount to send out as promotional material with a hand-rendered accompanying note linking to the website for the moving image, making sure to keep continuity between blog, website and promotional material. I will have about 90 to send out each month (I would like to keep about ten for my own collection and portfolio). Transcript will begin this promotional mail out on June 5th with Issue 2- Man the measure (initial sketches are included in my EEE file). I think this is relevant to my target audience of art directors and creative’s because I think a newspaper is a unique format. Issues are numbered so they are limited edition, making them collectable. The issues will document the moving image, which will record 3d intervention, performance and the guerrilla promotional tactics. Newspaper also has connotations of a conventional format and content that I would like to think I am trying to react against. I think that newspaper illustrations are quite bland and inoffensive. Disposable quality of newspapers is similar to my work I think. Also in a similar way that newspapers are outdated every day by new news I feel this way about my work. It is constantly topped and outdated by newer, bigger and better things by other practitioners.
I am keen to take an entrepreneurial approach to promotion, something that appeals to the multimodal and slightly unpredictable nature of my work. ‘Advertising is dead, long live advertising’ gave me some inspiration on guerrilla tactics with this sort of thing that I think would be really fun and something a bit different. For example, on the way to university on Talbot Road there is a (approximately) 30 m stretch of chipboards painted over. Every day hundreds of university students walk past. To raise ‘Tran-script’ profile as a brand and experiment with this form of promotion I commandeered these boards for my own purpose. I think I will continue to pull promotional ‘stunts’ and publish them on my blog and website. I am not fully confident in using my name as the promotional tool. I would rather I use an alias or brand type name so that when I do slightly antisocial things (like pasting up those boards) I am not held personally responsible. I never intend to damage property or do something too illegal that it would give me a bad conscious. (Putting food colouring or fairy liquid in public water monuments yes, stealing and damage no.) I also like the idea that a brand-name would give me an enigmatic genderless quality. I think when people see a female name they automatically have a preconception what you’re work will be. I’m proud to be a female but I like that there will be a small question mark in the gender box.
Artist residencies I think are really exciting opportunities for development. I love the thought of being part of a collective group of artists and still having a lot of freedom of work I produce. I still feel that I have lots to learn and refine. I am concentrating my search to Artists residencies abroad, as I feel my education so far as been extremely generic. Nothing on my CV so far would set me apart from any other practitioner. This is a concern to me. I am keen to get some life experience that nourishes my practice at the same time. So far I have concentrated my applications to residencies that have specified applicants must have graduated within 5 years. I have also applied to residencies that looking for multimodal artists and visual communicators. The majority of these applications require a PDF portfolio and links to a website or blog. From the industry talks I have attended this term this has been the focus of promotion. As well as keeping portfolio constantly updated and I think I will feature this somewhere on my website eventually. My Website needs to be a reflection of my practise and technical capabilities. In this way I have kept it as low-fi, hand rendered and simple as possible. I needed to make it so it could be simple enough for me to update easily (without supervision) and simple to use. I think people just get angry with over complex websites. I will also continue to enter graduate competitions and festivals like D & AD awards, Exposure film festival and its nice that graduates 2010 because they have really interesting briefs and I think they’re really good to keep your work moving. In dealing with financial, legal, business matters I intend to join the AOI. I am not wholly confident with this, and I can’t even imagine having to deal with this side of things so I think the wisest move for me is to have my hand held for the first year at least. I have my notes from Anna Steinberg’s workshop and lecture that were very insightful and helpful.