Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Cai Yuan Lecture - Cai Yuan and Jian Jun Xi (Mad for Real)

Cai Yuan's talk more than anything made me think about elements of my own practice, that initial thought process when it comes to my work; i always just assume that my work -unless Ive made a conscious decision otherwise, will end up in some form of white enclosed gallery space. and it was really interesting to see an artist who's work was so easily accessible, It was just that the two of them had just decided to take there work out of the gallery. 
During the Biennial the Tala Madani mural on the Gable end 24 Fleet Street had also started me off thinking about working in and out of the studio/gallery space. i think its because of the nature of my work at the minute, the insanely time consuming nature of the crosstitches and animations, that i really want to do something a little more disposable or ephemeral. Something thats outside of the usual white space. 
i think Cai Yuan and Jian Jun Xi's work has impressed a want on my behalf to move out of the studio, I'm not sure for how long the whim will take me, but i think there work has shown me that its not such an alien and difficult concept - the Tala Madani mural had started off that interest, but the sheer practicalities and logistics had phased me, it seemed a little out of my grasp. Cai Yuan and Jian Jun Xi's work however had shown me that its really not that imposing a concept.

Monday, 6 December 2010

My Work - Cross Stitiching

After looking at certain works by Hans Op De Beek and Ewan Gibbs, I became increasingly interested in the idea of vague familiarity and memory. The photos and postcards were so stereotypical in some ways that even though I didn’t know who these people are in the holiday photos, postcards and greetings cards. There is something integrally familiar that I can relate to, they trigger memories of my own, there was something fascinating in that idea of memory being something deeply personal and unique, but equally universal at the same time. The blurred photographs have a precarious value in the way that they have the ambiguity of being lost memories, belonging to no one, but at the same time, the ability of triggering off any number of people’s memories of their own.
I chose to deal with the physicality of this element of my project within the idea of cross stitch for several reasons, there was an initial simple word play on the idea of woolly images, and I loved that idea of blurred indistinct connections to the people and places. I also really like the ideas behind the process of converting an image into cross stitch; it’s like physically detaching myself from the original image, through the process of photocopying/enlarging the original to gridding it off and converting an image into writing, and converting the writing back into an image. That process of distancing the cross stitch from the original image reflected my feelings of being distanced from the people and places in the objects – I wanted the viewer to hopefully get the removed and blurred feeling and at the same time a level of curiosity of how the image has been constructed.
these are two of the images Ive managed to produce, the only down side with the concept of crosstitching is the ridiculous amount of time they take to produce. and honestly after doing these two I'm ready to go on to something a little less intensive.

A Foundation - My Work/Inital Animations

                                                  still from 'the encounter' by Agnieszka Kucharko

looking at the New Contemporaries one if the artist's who i found the most interesting and relevant to my own work was the video piece by Agnieszka Kucharko,  the piece was called 'the encounter' - the whole video is about 11 minutes long, if I'm  honest i didn't watch the whole video, i was just completely captured by a sequence that was only a couple of minutes long of foot steps down a dark corridor, it was the simplictity and rhythm of the foot steps that really interested me. it was just that really basic image, something that's not overly out if the ordinary, but just really captured my attention for those few minutes. its something that started me thinking about elements of my own work, and id love to be able to try and re-create that kind of image that will hold people's attention just for a few moments. that simplicity of moment that will keep your attention in a way that i suppose is quite superficial in that fact that your watching a very simple moving object - that doesn't demand too much thought process, but that's in its simplicity is completely compelling and mesmerising. hopefully i can try to recreate that in my own work.

as the project progressed i began to realise that the project for me had become much more about the process of the cross stitch, and really wanted to start exploring that idea. becoming more aware of what and why i was doing, and try to prevent me from just mechanically producing these bits of embroidery with no more thought input, almost more for my sanity more that anything.
and so with that in mind i began to experiment with animation, playing with the process process of the stitching, the way it was so time consuming, and the way it developed stitch by stitch, i had however never done anything like animation before, and as a result the little initial videos aren't really the best thing in the world;

the above animation is the first i attempted; there was a subsequent and very similar animation that had the stitches progressing from the bottom left hand corner - but looking at it afterwards, i decided that there needed to be more curiosity, to make people want to watch the animation in the first place. which resulted in the bellow (unfinished) animation; the animation is of pillow lace, an image i found in green book in the beginning of the animation.    

Sunday, 5 December 2010

My Work:

My work this academic year has its roots in one of the projects i was doing in my first year, not so much in a physical sense but being much more to do with the fact that the previous project centered around the subject of my paternal Grandmother. Towards the end of last year, in April, my 'Nana' passed away, and this current project really centers mainly around the physicality's of a death. the project initially pivoted around the process of emptying her house and sorting out 91 years worth of belongings and memorabilia.
One of the main ideas that surfaced was from all the things she left behind. all the objects she felt the need to keep, for example she had kept almost every birthday and Christmas card from my family, wedding anniversary cards, letters from when my father was born, looking through these objects I felt like I was learning new things about family members I never knew, fleshing out stories she had told me and reinforcing ideas I had. but at the same time I was coming across people I had never heard about, these strangers seemed to have been an important part of my Nana’s life but since her death had no relevance to anyone anymore, it was the relevance. The issue of their value, do they become worthless photos of strangers now that any link to them has been broken, now that they have no specific memories for me do they just become pieces of paper or are there any residual memory, does the fact that my nana chose to treasure them make them of some worth.

these are some of the initial photographs i took trying to deal with that issue;

The 2010 Liverpool Biennial and Biennials as a whole:


I'm not sure if my opinions of biennials as whole are as well rounded as they should be. Mainly because of the fact that the only biennial i have witnessed has been the recent 2010 Liverpool biennial. I'm not really able to make compassion's and judge on any other terms than what this particular event in the Liverpudlian calendar has impressed upon me.
when the biennial was first opened i was a little intimidated. i was anxious that there was so much going on, so much to experience and the idea of missing something was pretty worrying. the website didn't really help, it was so vast with so many links and different branches with all the different information. i very nearly concocted a calendar of all the different events, what times and where so i wouldn't miss anything. but honestly as i made my way back into the routine of university, and other normality's the issue of biennial obligations faded away.
i think in my naivety i was expecting something more, a more obvious change to the city center to alert me to the fact that there was a biennial going on, god knows what i was expecting - probably something more than the packaged gallery based exhibitions. i think i wanted something more public, more Carnivalesque. although to be honest there were some pretty big alterations to buildings and installations. the rapid building and Do Ho Suh's wedged house in the least. the advertising just seemed a little bit too static, and i suppose half the problem is when you do live in Liverpool after the first few times seeing something in your everyday environment i started to take it all for granted and stopped noticing anything anymore.
I personally haven't seen as much of the biennial as i would have liked to - I'm disappointed in myself for not really getting out there and seeing it all, but i think you need to feel like a tourist, and get all the excitement for it all which, when you live in the city and have other things to think of i was sometimes lacking. there were certain things i missed out on, and certain things we went to that didn't really seem all that impressive - mainly the long night, which I'm assuming was more of a nice afternoon; when we arrived at 8ish there wasn't much still doing. although a cheaper trip up the radio tower was good fun, albeit not really overly artistic.
i think on the whole for me the biennial was a positive thing to have happened. it was by no means detrimental, i possibly on some accounts haven't gained as much from it as i could, and in the end its my fault really. but on the other hand Ive certainly learned a lot from it, and its sparked some valuable and interesting experiences. and i think next time ill take the time to be a tourist for the day and experience it the way it is in my opinion really supposed to be. with a tourists curiosity and untainted view of it all.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Tehcing Hsieh


the One Year Performance (1980-1981) by Tehching Hsieh in fact was something i couldn't really make my mind up if i 'liked' it or not. as you walk into the exhibition space the work evokes a definite respect for the man. The sheer feat of the One Year Performance commands respect and awe, even though i really struggled to empathise with the want, or need to do something along those lines to yourself. To be the honest the over riding impression i was left with was a mildly depressed feeling that the physical proof, photo by photo of Hsieh's year, didn't really ammount to much physically. being confronted with a physical representation, hour by hour of a year made me more than anything realise how little time there is in those 365 days. i assume a year is a big chunk of time, but that fact that Hsieh had used a year of his life to produce x ammount of photos left me feeling a bit depressed at the realisation of what constitutes a year.
obviously hes a well respected artist, the work is described in the fact website as 'an exceptional series of artworks: five separate one-year-long performances.'. Regardless, i really find the idea of this strain of endurance works depressing, the idea that you'd use a year of your life in such a pursuit seems completely alien to me. the whole concept of every hour of every day clocking in and taking a photo seems like a horrendous thing to want to do to yourself, i cant help but thinking of all the implications it would have on your life, and for the whole result of that year to be what it is, for me just seems like an incredibly depressing concept.


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Tala Madani mural on the Gable end 24 Fleet Street


I think this piece is one of the ones that made me think the most about the publication and consumption of my work, i personally found the piece curious and interesting in a visual innuendo/double entendre kind of way, but the reception from the majority of the group got me thinking about how i would have received it it if i hadn't been herded around and told it was 'fine art', it probably would have made me laugh, think about it for a few moments whilst i walked past it and the tell my friends to go and see the big painting on the end of the building outside Envi, not the most life changing experience, but at the same I'm really fond of the piece. But at the same time it really made me think about the consumption of my art, how i would want it received. i really liked the fact the mural hadn't been confined to a gallery, that even if you weren't a little intimidated by the building, you would at least have to go out of your way to see - the idea that it was big enough and in a relatively conspicuous enough place for a whole load of different people to see. its really made me want to use something similarly public and easily accessible if a lot smaller in scale for my piece; But at the same time my work is a million miles away from Madani's fleeting innuendo. my work centers around appropriated memories and my attempt to create objects that are familiar and vague enough for people to evoke and transpose their own memories, and is currently shaping up to be an installation based piece; Yet at the same time theres something about the nature of Madani's mural, the way you can perceive it how you want without all the conventions of showing in galleries, the consumption in a way is quite personal, it could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. and theres something in that idea of people consuming 'as they will' that i find really interesting and something i would like to try with my work, albeit a strain running from the main installation hub of the piece.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Lars Lauman exhibition, Open Eye Gallery

from what i gathered there were three main elements to the Lars Lauman exhibition at the Open Eye Gallery; The first video piece you notice as you walk into the gallery  is entitled 'Morrissey Foretelling the Death of Diana', 2006. The main obstacle for me and this piece is mainly that I'm not really that big of a fan of Morrissey, and I'm also not that keen on conspiracy theories, which didn't really endear me to the idea of sitting down and watching a video piece about the two.
The second video piece that you notice is called 'Helen Keller (and the great purging bonfire of books and unpublished manuscripts illuminating the dark)'. this video piece however was something that i felt i needed to sit down and watch from start to finish. I'm not sure how interested i was in the actual footage and imagery of the film, and how much was the conventions of TV - my routine of 'theres something that looks like a film and has a definite narrative on a screen, sit down and watch it'. most of the imagery was recycled and as a result there were times when i felt like i was watching an old film on TV, a film that id walked in on half way through, something i knew i wouldn't really understand but id give a good half to two thirds of my attention to, im not sure how sucessful a video peice my reactions made it, i didnt really sit down and take the message in - if there was a definate message to be take in! but it definately suceeded in getting me to sit down and watch.

still from the peice 'Helen Keller (and the great purging bonfire of books and unpublished manuscripts illuminating the dark)'

The video piece that i enjoyed the most was a piece called 'Duett', 2010. it was something that i didn't initially notice because the sound was coming through head phones and it was on a TV screen instead of projected like the previous two, the TV screen was on its side, something that caught my attention purely because it wasn't as you'd expect TVs to be, the piece didn't provide me with any proper narrative or information like the other two, and as a result i felt as though i was allowed to take from it what i wanted, there wasn't enough structure or narrative, it was vague enough that i could just enjoy it for what i got from it without the impression that there was a definite message i should be understanding. It was made up of the images of Margaret Thatcher and Donald Rumsfeld discussing the sinking of an Argentine ship and the known and unknowns of the Afghanistan war (information which i have just got off the Internet). but at the time, all i had was assumptions, i knew who Margaret Thatcher was, and i could guess the other speaker was an American politician from possibly the 70's or 80's. i was aware of the political references and could guess certain elements of the facts, but at the same time was lulled into a state where i could have listened to the audio all day, even though it was pretty much on a loop and the same words and noises were repeated it had a really curios quality; i was completely content with listening and watching the visuals of the piece. i was aware of the people and connotations involved but didn't feel forced to understand, i felt as though i was allowed to take from it what i wanted and enjoy the piece just for what i got from it.

Do Ho Suh, the wegded house


i personally thought 'the wedged house' piece was relatively interesting, for me on a superficial and quite simple level it was good fun. there was the initial surprise and innocent appreciation for something that is a visual oddity, i found it quite reminiscent of film sets, almost like the synthetic buildings in Disney land. i personality didn't buy into the idea that this was a serious piece of art that had a message to communicate, it was simple innocent amusement.
I think its main success was in the fact that you don't necessarily expect it to be there, its an 'oh look theres a house stuck between two buildings' a quick look closer and your ready to move on. I'm not sure if that was the artists aim, there were probably quite a lot of references and ideas that were lost on me. i found it, for the lack of a better term, a welcome surprise, it wasn't going to be anything life affirming or leave a lasting impression, but at the same time it got a reaction, abiet a tourist-esque 'ooh look at that' but at the same time is that really so bad?

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Diango Hernández in the Tate

One of the pieces that really made me think about the way i deal with certain ideas was Diango Hernández; i was really interested in the visuals of Hernández's work and found myself wanting more context and understanding of the piece, but just couldn't seem to get an explanation that satisfied me, the little written explanations didn't give me enough information and i just couldn't seem to find a way into the work. That lack of access past the visuals really made me think about pieces i had made and the whole idea of context, how much should you spell out to the viewer? i personally felt that my lack of context made the piece less than it could have been for me. i lost much of my initial interest because i just couldn't get to grips with the peice. its made me address elements of my work that are similar to Hernández's "more emotional end of touched, recreating notions of homesickness in dreamlike landscapes" its made me think about how much i include in the visuals of my work and how much information i allow the viewers to access.

Sachiko Abe:
I'm not sure why, but as i look back on the Sachiko Abe piece, I'm slowly falling out of love with it. initially i really enjoyed the piece because of how visually impressive it all was. i think the magic of it all wears off a little when after a period of time. as an installation piece it was incredibly effective, the way she used static objects and performance, combined with the audio of her scissors cutting the paper. it was an all encompassing experience, that in the moment was incredible. but for some reason the longer its been since i actually experienced it all the less enamoured i am with it. 
I think the Abe piece was successful because of the initial visuals your confronted with as you walk into the room, its initially really impressive, the sheer amount of paper and the way she cuts it so fine and carefully are really impressive on both a visual and technical level. i think the other element of its success was the venue, it enabled the fairytale connotations, an element which i think was really important to the wow factor - something I'm not really sure had massive links to the practice of her 'paper cutting' and I'm assuming was just more of a response to the A Foundation room.  i did however find it bizarre how she used what i interpreted to be a coping mechanism, a massive paper cutting doodle. an act in itself which to me implies something quite personal, but at the same time she had turned it into a performance/endurance piece, the two to me seem to be quite conflicting.