Year 4: Reflections

Personal Journal for Year 4

September 2013: We are on hiatus for the month of September until mid’ October 2013 and I’m already excited about my final project work and proposal. I’m starting the year thinking about Rauchenberg’s “combines” as a format for combining multiple mediums. I’m also thinking about a loose narrative which I can split into parts for this final project, each part being a kind of “combine”. My combines will include moving image, expanded painting, sculpture and assemblage with the possibility of using the web as a medium also.

A good start to storyboarding and planning my final project, but then some delays in December and January. Luckily I scoped out most of the work so I feel like I know what I need to accomplish. I’m doing a lot of writing and some sketching in my sketch book. I’ve also started collage pages in my sketch book assembling ideas for materials, forms, and method of installation that resonate in some way for me with my aims for The Healing Room. I’ve talked with an “actress” who I want to cast as The Seer, Stephany. We’ve had a coffee meeting in which Stephany had some great ideas about the male character and also how to work with The Seer. I’ve written these notes in my sketch book.I want to start “principal photography” in January and will perhaps do some location “second unit” photography before then.

In the meantime on a drive up to Whistler, BC I passed the destination that is the namesake of this project. A New Age crystal and psycho-spiritual healing retail venue in Britannia Beach, a small stop on the highway about 45 minutes North from Vancouver.

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January 2014: I’m still looking for work but I have a commission from a Real Estate Developer whom I worked for previously to create a large artwork for a new building. I’ve pitched the idea and this 11 foot by 7 foot sculptural painting is going to take up most of the next 2-3 months. However, it’s my paid work for the moment so I will be attempting to keep the MA Final Project work going through reading, research, collaging and working out shapes and forms in my sketch book.

February 2014: My actress has dropped out of the project. She hasn’t told me such, but has just stopped returning my phone calls. I will have to recast and this time will use an actual performer who understands the nature of committing to the project. I’m already sensing a problem with recasting and trying to find both a male and female performer. I’m considering revising the project and to create a piece this time that introduces The Seer character. I’ve been developing an idea of the last few years of making art in a project-based manner which means that I can keep building on the work over time much like a author or a film director could create sequels or prequels to a single work. I have never done well working in a traditional “series” like some artists. I seem to always want to use different mediums and also tell my story from a number of different angles.

March 2014: I’m researching in a number of directions including moving more towards philosophy pertaining to film rather than concepts from film theory. There is a difference between the two as film theory is much more about the tangible, the process, and the constructs of film, including film as a tangible medium. Philosophers about film think more about the implications of film and what film is. I’m mostly reading French philosophers Alain Badiou and Gilles Deluze, and film critic and writer Andre Balzin. Francois Truffaut wrote the introduction to one of the Balzin anthologies, which is pretty cool.

April 2014: Ideas shaping up from my reading that intersect with my areas of interest and plan to use sequential photography and stop-motion animated stills included Deluze’s ideas on duration and time, and Badiou’s ideas about how films think. I like the idea of immersiveness and interactivity in an artwork being related to how the work might possibly think. Of course it’s impossible for film to think, but the sensation that a work of art in particular a time-based work of art might be considering it’s next move and motivation is deeply interesting to me. I’m wondering how I can work with that idea and

May 2014: This month is occupied with other project. The Opsal building artwork has to be finished, varnished and installed this month. Also, I’ve been invited to do Give & Take at an arts festival on Vancouver Island. Immediately after which it is now confirmed I’ll be starting a new job. It will be a challenging month but I have to finish the commission, and there are overwhelmingly compelling reasons for my goals for next year to exhibit Give & Take at the end of May, including the fact my expenses will be paid.

June – August 2014: I started a new full time position in June 2014 and it’s been a challenging change to my schedule. It’s a great job, but I’ve started on the heels of the Opsal Corporate artwork commission and immediately after installing Give & Take for the Elevate The Arts Festival in Courtney, BC (which took two-week for both preparation and the event). A change in pace and brain space also, as it’s been 12 months since I had a full-time role back in the business world. I’m not able to do much heavy reading or thinking on my final project except light reading, surfing the web for inspiration and also revisiting my previous research notes and sketchbook/journal entries. I’m also taking photographs with my mobile phone at the office (below). After being ahead of the game in December, I’ve clearly fallen behind in the Unit and need to find a way to catch up. Everything is a challenge at the moment. Due to the fact I am now working again on Mondays I am unable to join our MA online sessions and seminars because they happen during the middle of the work day morning. I don’t have enough time yet established on the job to be able to book myself out during the day. I’m having to try and catch up after the fact by logging onto the Google Site and try and find notes and emails. I need to check in with Caroline and Angela.

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September 2014: Mieke Verhelst is now cast in my female role. I’ve reworked my story and concept so that my final project will be based around just The Seer. I’m feeling confident that building a “ring” of small experimental films that in some way interact with each other is possible, I just have to start with the first one. I’ve been taking some phone camera snaps for location and set ideas based on my conversations with Mieke. We talked about how the character might need to be shown in a space that is kind of like an office cubicle. It should be ambiguous as to where she is and not too literal in terms of showing a health institution or fantastical bunker or lair. I think that connecting to the everyday contemporary is a much better direction, and keeping the reading of the location open in some way. Likewise with the costume design, the “off” nature of The Seer should be implied, not overblown. I plan on pulling clothes from my own wardrobe for this direction and not going to the charity shop to find the outfit. I’ve also selected two props that are found objects. One, the lock box, was found at a thrift shop/charity shop. The other, a used drum head, has been in my studio supplies for several years because two studios ago I moved into the space after a rock band, who had used it for rehearsals, had vacated the location. Mieke and I also had a pivotal conversation around motivation for the “ritual” that is related to her personal world and connects to my original intent for the character. It involves her fear of listening to the heartbeat of anyone she loves (family members and her husband) due to the death of a best friend when she was a teenager. I want to use this fear and her phobia for her direction when we move into photography. The Seer character now believes that if she does not keep her ritual going that the heartbeat of the world will stop.

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We’ve shot over two evenings of photography, just Mieke (above) and I very quiet and intimate between actor and director/photographer. The wardrobe and styling was simple, and a bit off. I put her in a long eccentric dress, a camel business blazer, red retro trainers and we put on red lipstick but purposefully splashed over the contours of her lips. The feeling I’m aiming for is serious but a bit off. Like those people you see on the street who are so invested in their belief system that they don’t realize they are entirely eccentric and completely misunderstood by the rest of us. The Seer needs to be entirely authentic in her phobia and ernest in her actions, including her internal thought process.

October 2014: I’ve now got about 800 still images from the two days of photography to import, edit, colour balanced and select in order to create my stop motion sequences. I’m using the same process I developed with The Liquid Gesture. Adobe Light Room to ingress and edit the individual files, exporting as jpegs to individual folder. To help manage my work flow I’ve grouped the files into sequences, then I’ve made stop motion .mov files of each folder using Quick Time (import as “sequence” feature). I’ve made a chart in Google Docs showing the first and end frame of each sequence so I can find what I need by the file structure. This is proving invaluable. I’ve hand held the camera so there’s quite a bit of movement between the frames. I’m hoping this work in my favour to create an interesting texture to the work and also imparts some “realness” a la Cinema Verite style of filmmaking. The project is very much about making this “film”. My workflow and thoughts are very much like a film maker at this stage. I miss working with real materials as I’m spending so much time on the computer, both during the day at my job and then in the evening on The Healing Room. Once the sequences have been made, I bring them into After Effects to composite, add effects and combine. Then I take the sequences into Premier and edit together into the “film”.  I’m scoring The Healing Room also in the same way as I did The Liquid Gesture. Once the final edit of the footage is locked I will score the sound in several tracks (simple sounds, utterances and percussion) and then lay into the Premiere edit where splicing and volume can be adjusted. I’m leaving some black spaces between the moving image for the viewer to experience the sound. This may or may not work.

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November 2014: The final edit and the sound track has been cut, and I’ve created the story board and selected with images to print as photographs. So much of the actual exhibition however, will be created onsite. I can’t replicate the conditions at Bank Street so I’m just going to have to bring works and let my final decisions be made on site in response to the site. Now the project is much more like an art installation project, and not like filmmaking as it has been over the last two months. I have to think about the placement of the works in the space and the connection between them. The entire installation is important as a unit and in how it unpins and supports my narrative. I’ve been able to do some projection tests at home which I’ve blogged about in more detail. I’m also now pulling together the found objects to show with the film and photographic images. It’s all got to be ready by the time I jump on a trans-Atlantic airplane on November 15th. I’ve allowed for 3 days for assembly and installation and we’ve got to be done by 5pm on November 19th (including the submission of the “school” work required for the degree completion.)

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16-19 November 2014: I’m installing at Bank Street Arts and making some final decisions about what works to include in the installation. I will be installing fewer printed works due to the size of the space, but also the whole installation will be stronger with fewer works. I’m installing two props from the shooting of the film as found object sculptures. Both have a meaning in regards to the relationship of painting to the underpinnings of this project. I’m happy with how they are looking in the space. The Lock Box references the Claud Mirrors I’ve researched and the Drum Head not only shows obsessive and repetitive marks, but also resembles a minimalist monochrome tondo painting. I’ve suspended it over a square of found mirror mylar (again a reference to the reflections and refractions of the Claud Mirrors) and placed some blue foam safety corners I found onsite on top of the mylar. The blue connects to the blue in the palette of the film when the Seer is at the Storage Locker location, missing in the photographs I’ve elected to show. The purpose of safety corners I also think is fitting. There is a comment about protection against harm. The film will be projected directly into the corner with no Duralar or other materials. This is different from my plans but in fitting the work best into the space there is enough texture and different vertical planes on which to project the image just working with the room as is. To do more would be too much and be merely for the sake of sticking to plan.

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December 2014: Once The Nine show has opened and I’ve had a few weeks break I am going to return to this journal page and close off with some final reflections on the past year, and my journey with The Healing Room.

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