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New Research Blog

This blog is the archive of the learning blog I maintained during my MA Fine Art graduate studies. Since successfully completing my MA my new, ongoing research can be found on my Research Journal (here).

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MA Final Show – The Healing Room

Click for The Healing Room.

image (5)The Nine MA Final Show

November 22 – 29, 2014
11.00-16.00 (closed 23rd/24th)

Bank Street Arts,
32-40 Bank Street
Sheffield, UK
S1 2DS

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Installing at Bank Street

I’ve arrived in Sheffield for the installation and exhibition of my final project with odd sized and fragile parcels in my hands and strapped around my body. A parcel of large photographic prints had to be stashed in First Class on the airplane after asking the onboard attendants very sweetly to care for them. I also went through security and customs with a roll of duralar film duck taped to a broken strap and then the roll of duck tape, which I was wearing like a bracelet disappeared by the end of the flight. I’ve also got two of the props from the shooting of The Healing Room to install as sculptural found objects in a nod to the interest in and display of props from popular films and television series. I do think the addition of these works will round out the installation of The Healing Room and position it clearly as a contemporary art project, not just an experimental film.

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As suspected, the install at Bank Street is evolving as I respond to the space with the various artworks I’ve completed. The experimental film, The Healing Room, is the central focus of my installation. Assumptions have been challenged and I’m not setting up the work like I thought I would. On a positive note however, there appear to be some good plinths and other tools.

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I will be showing The Healing Room projected in a corner as planned, just not the corner I expected. There is also enough texture on the wall and a “step” in the vertical plane of one wall such that I may not need the durlar scrim to create texture after all.

Lighting and sound appear to be my biggest problems. The sound is lacking bass tones I could here in my stereo system at home through the speakers provided which I think takes away from the resonance of the soundtrack. I may need to look at the sound track file one last time.

I’ve selected one story board to show as part of the exhibition out of the 6 that were printed. The single story board has been rolled up for a few days so that it can unroll like a drafting plan and place on a large rectangular plinth I found at the gallery. This story board I’ve selected I believe to be the strongest of the 6 and showing stills from part of the film that the other larger photo prints I’ve selected do not show.

Storyboard

I’ve selected three portrait oriented large photo prints to hang as a triptych. The three images are the ones that work the best together in this format. The golden and green palette is also working well in the space. When the rest of the install comes together tomorrow I will decide on whether or not I hang one final large photo either above the storyboard or next to the moving image. Lighting will have an impact on this decision.

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The “props” from the film are set on individual plinths. The drum head I am suspending from the ceiling like an abstract monochrome painting. The metal lock box will be treated inside with black oil paint to create a bookended monochrome painting that evokes the spirit of Claude Lorraine mirrors — an inspiration for the way in which I’ve chosen to compose and install the moving image.

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Preparing to Project

Still at home here in Canada, I was finally able to set up against a clean wall and white space with a projector to test the way I will project The Healing Room for the MA final exhibition. I’m working “blind” in many respects as I’m still struggling with not having proper studio space and I’m also creating I’ve planned to project the work into a corner to avoid typical reference to the rectangular stretched painting canvas and four-sided video or television screen. The three most important ideas for me for the installation are: expanded, immersive, and multi-screen.

I am also playing with using planes cut across the space to break the geometry of the space by creating angles and reflections. This intention is informed by a desire to work with the things that also concern me as a painter. Points of reference that have been building as I’ve developed The Healing Room include breaking the 2-d picture plane with expanded painting to create a space to experience the work, and also reflections and refractions of the Claud Glass. Originally I had wanted to mark or paint on the clear duralar panels but when testing how to make marks and have those marks cast shadows doing this seems as if it may distract from the work. Also when testing the projection of an early version of The Healing Room I discovered that the clear Duralar material refracted the light and colours into the darkened room with interesting wave and circular patterns. The effects are visually effective, but again may not work with the actual artwork. Also, I will have to navigate around some aspects of my gallery room that in some respects are less than ideal: pipes and alcoves and wires against the walls.

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I found the artwork below by Dan Flavin evocative of how I want to use light and reflections of light and shadow to create an immersive experienced with “The Healing Room” and also employ concepts related to “expansion” (based on my desire to continue to explore expanded painting). I originally reflected on these ideas in this earlier blog post:http://vantageartprojects.com/jennifermawby.com/ma_journal/wordpress/?p=5145

I plan to bring the duralar roll with me and see if I can make it work in the room. My tests at home show that it could work, but I am thinking more and more that I need to respond specifically to the site. This is something I’ve done with other work, so although it’s creating uncertainty, I know that in the past allowing some final decisions to be made onsite was very successful.

After testing the project I feel confident in my use of split screens and floating frames in the work and also to use the projector to create more than one space in which to see the moving image. This is a holdover from my previous explorations into multiple screen works and artists like Issac Julien uses multiple screens in this project to create an immersive environment for his work “10,000 Waves”. In this pervious blog post I consider what methods and effects Julien uses that I may want to carry over to The Healing Room.

http://vantageartprojects.com/jennifermawby.com/ma_journal/wordpress/?p=5050

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The Healing Room is not just the moving image work. There are props from the photographic shoot I want to include as found objects, photographic stills from the hundreds of frames shot, and also the storyboard composites on paper that I’m making. Some decisions have been guided by the investigations I’ve done of the past year studying and observing exhibitions where moving image is projected or shown on screen in a museum or gallery context. Some exhibits at the Vancouver Art Gallery are reflected upon in this blog post:

 http://vantageartprojects.com/jennifermawby.com/ma_journal/wordpress/?p=5004

I’m doing as much as I can ahead of time, but as mentioned above, I feel as if I am working blind. My way of dealing with this will be to assume that when I arrive in Sheffield I will have to respond to the space on order to make the best exhibition, as opposed to just installed previously created objects in a new, random space.

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Artists Own

I’ve made a new “self-portrait” (a selfie) as part of my Personal Practice Plan and for my promotional website. related to my Master of Fine Arts Final Project exhibition. Actually, I made the selfie pix (embarrassing but true) and then Google+ made a composite for me through it’s automation engine that senses when, via the cloud backup function, you’ve made a series of images in a row or a “burst”. Sometimes Google+ generates a stop-motion animated gif image, and sometimes it creates a multi-frame picture. This time Google+ made an multiple frame picture and I have discovered that in some ways it resembles a self-portrait artwork by Hannah Wilke (a still from this video artwork shown below).

wilke

Hannah Wilkie, Gestures (1974-76)
Basierend auf der gleichnamigen
Video Performance von 1974
(35:30 min, b&w, sound)
Silbergelatinepapier, 12 Blatt je 12,7x 17,8 cm
© Marsie, Emanuelle, Damon and Andrew Scharlatt, The Hannah Wilke Collection & Archive, L.A./ VBK, Wien 2012

My new Google+ cloud-generated selfie:

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My collaboration with an computer algorithm in making this composite image is interesting and creates a distinct difference between my portrait and that of Wilkie. The constituent images were chosen at random and include images I would have edited out from a series – the image in the bottom left with a goofy eye roll expression for example. The machine generated image and the “goof ups” included are a kind of glitch being revealed in the final image because a human eye probably have chosen a different selection.

Both Wilkie and I were performing for the camera, but she had much more control over the finished image than did I. It is the lack of control I like best about my image in contrast to the self-control asserted when taking a “selfie” portrait.

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Articles

Research Presentation: Alain Badiou’s Cinema

For one of our last seminars in Unit 2.2 I presented this research to date on Alain Badiou’s ideas about film based on his book “Cinema”. The final slide positions this research in the context of my current practice and my final project The Healing Room.

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Expanded Light and Space

I found the artwork below by Dan Flavin evocative of how I want to use light and reflections of light to install “The Healing Room”. The minimalism is also appealing. Flavin uses both light and shadow to construct a virtual place. As such, these artwork are a combination of the real and the implied. The experience created by the light source and the expansion of the light (by shade and reflection) is the artwork. When activated, the physical materials of the piece (the fluorescent tubes, the wires, the electricity) fade into the background. I see these works by Flavin as holding the same concepts as expanded painting (in face they are probably expanded sculpture). In my final project I will consider the way in which I install the work and use the light and shadow in the work to create the “expansion” of the work beyond the material components.

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(image above from www.blakegopnik.com)

 

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Black Mirrors & Corners

For my research on how to project and install The Healing Room using concepts related to painting, I discovered the Claude Glass (or Claude Lorrain Mirror). These small black mirrors were used by artists and landscape connoisseurs and they reflected the landscape into a dark “painterly” reflection. Used before photography, not only were they a way of romanticizing the scene in front of the artist, but they also frame the scene before the invention of photography. Many Claude Glass took the form of a book that opened with a protective velvet pad for the mirror.

I like the idea of using a the book, or corner format, and playing with reflections off a dull surface for the installation of The Healing Room.

Claud Mirror It is also interesting how the Claude Glass resembles in form the modern laptop computer.

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To continue on the theme of breaking the single 2-dimensional picture plane I’m planning to use split screen and floating “frames” within the composition of The Healing Room. I found an example of a split screen artwork on Blake Gopnik art blog where the artist has placed two frames in a corner in a similar way to what I am thinking.  This artwork was made in 2005 by pioneer video artist Gary Hill.

Split Screen

I’ve also been exploring in my sketch book how my video projection could work into a corner with two right angles. I’m also exploring how to use reflections and refraction to underscore my aims to incorporate “painterliness”.

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Making Sounds

Link to my Sound Sketch Book on Learning Blog:
http://vantageartprojects.com/jennifermawby.com/ma_journal/wordpress/?page_id=5041

In the last two years of the MA program I started making sound artwork, or studies as I prefer to call them. For my third year Final Project I scored a short, stop-motion experimental film in the manner that I’ve been making those studies. The sounds are made by my own voice and simple percussion. I breathe, and speaks, and tap and attempt to sing into the computer microphone. Once I get a simple pattern of sound or a rhythm going, I start to build layers on and modulate the sounds using effects in the simple computer program I use (Apple Garage Band). I think that I approach the building of these tracks like I would approach the making of a painting. Starting with a support and something to grip on to (like gesso on stretched canvas). Then I build up the layers with different “brushes” and add and remove marks in subsequent sessions until the work feels complete. I do not believe I approach the work in a musical way, nor do I consider myself a musician.

I started the first sound studies thinking about “genres” of music, in particular sound track music for films. Such types of scores, songs, and themes with the purpose of creating suspense, introducing the hero, expressing the loneliness of the road ahead. In sound studies recently made “La La La” is in the wandering genre. “Hero” is the theme of the champion. When I made the score for my third year project, The Liquid Gesture, I was for the first time scoring to moving image. (The sound was made after the final edit of the film was completed). I did not want the sound to be just an accompaniment to the images, nor did I want it to follow any kind of scrip. In The Liquid Gesture, the script is a Haiku poem and I think that my final project will likewise not have a script. I assume that I will approach the score for The Healing Room in the same way.

In March, I spoke with a cousin who is also a fledgling composer. Tristan and I had a valuable discussion around the idea of a score and ways to think about creating and composing music. My notes on our conversation are written in my sketch book, however one very interesting idea that fits my simplification of both sounds and genres is that of the Leitmotif, in particular in Wagnerian opera. The leitmotif is a signature sound (sometimes as simple as transition between notes) that announces the entrance or reappearance of a particular character. I like the notion that the audience is prompted in a way they may not even realize to know through sound who in the story is next being discussed. My original idea for The Healing Room is to use two characters – the Seer and the Seeker. However, the first actress that I cast for the Seer role has dropped out of the project. This will put constraints on my ability to complete the work for this character and also cast and develop the second, male character. I am going to try to find a replacement in enough time to also cast the Seeker. However, I am starting to make plans for introducing The Healing Room with a first single character, and then in the future build out the story further in a “ring” of tales, quite like Wagner.

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Video

Tree Rings Transposed to Piano Sounds

“Artist Bartholomäus Traubeck has custom-built a record player that is able to “play” cross-sectional slices of tree trunks. The result is his artpiece “Years,” an audio recording of tree rings being read by a computer and turned into music, much like a record player’s needle reads the grooves on an LP.

The tree rings are actually being translated into the language of music, rather than sounding musical in and of themselves. According to Makezine, the custom record player takes in data using a PlayStation Eye Camera and a stepper motor attached to its control arm, and relays the data to a computer. A program called Ableton Live then uses it to generate an eerie piano track.

Though the record player “interprets” rather than actually “playing” the tree trunk, as Gizmodo notes, the song still varies with each new piece of wood placed on the turntable.”

Reference link: http://www.livescience.com/33673-tree-rings-sound-record-player.html

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