Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Sketches and what they mean

So we're almost up to date, last week i had to present my progress once again, and a lot had happened in the 2 week gap between presentations, but they had mainly happened conceptually, and i had nothing really visual to show. i did however produce a number of sketches / storyboards depicting some of the issues i would be tackling now.

When i started drawing these, the purpose was to just give an idea of the images i would go and capture. These crude drawings depict specific locations from my childhood, and i plan to visit these locations and photograph them. But whilst sketching i realised that i was drawing from memory, locations i hadn't visited or seen for 15-20 years. And that whole process intrigued me greatly. Drawing and sketching these locations, then comparing them with the reality of now, and of the photographic evidence of the still image would be quite an interesting process.

I haven't been back to these locations yet but i have a feeling they are not going to be as i remember, things never are are they?


I don't believe in fate but....

Everything seems to come together sometimes. Or maybe this happens all the time, and everything is interlinked, well it must be, but it's only sometimes when you are able to tune into these occurrences and make the connections.

At lunch before meeting Asa, a friend mentioned the Wellcome Collection in london, and the anatomy exhibition that is housed there. My ears pricked up as i had never heard of this place. How exciting, a new place to visit in London, a city that i've covered quite extensively since i was a kid. Then a couple of hours later Asa mentioned it again. I went to London the Friday of that week to visit a friend from university, and arranged to meet her at the Wellcome Collection. Getting off the tube at Euston Square i saw a poster for something called the 'Identity Project' That might be interesting i thought. Standing waiting for my friend outside the Wellcome building i jumped onto my iPhone and googled the identity project only to find it was an exhibition currently on display at.... The Wellcome Collection. I went in.

8 rooms 9 lives is the tag-line for the display, 9 different explorations into the notion of what makes us who we are, explorations of identity. Each Story is displayed in a different room, but what makes this even more interesting for me is that all these rooms are within the same space. Each room is a large box, the exteriors all look the same, but the content in each is displayed in different ways in each.

More information can be found here.

Asa Johannesson

Asa came and gave a guest lecture about her work and practice. She works with concepts of identity, notions of self and otherness, with a strong focus on gender identity.

Some really interesting work, and seeing her a couple of days after i had made this breakthrough with the idea of exploring my own past and identity, a lot of pieces clicked into place.

Particularly her project entitled "The Twins" stood out to me. Asa has revisited the photographs from her childhood, taken by her grandfather of her and her twin sister.

Asa is now using these images as a base for new images where she's photographing her 'muse' a transgendered boy called Jacob. Sometimes recreating poses, framing, content. Other times displaying the found images with her own in a fascinating juxtaposition.

You can find out more on her website

Baby Daddy

During the late night conversation with g, another idea arose. i closed my eyes and created a picture of the empty space inside the box, and then with no real thought filled it with a train, a toy train on a track circling a mountain.

g drew this too:

I spend a lot of time on trains, living in hertfordshire and working in lincoln, i commute each week, taking 4 hours in each direction. This not only causes issues when it comes to actually living with g, but also acts as a brick wall when it comes to planning a future with each other. We can't buy a house, where would we live? We can't have a dog, I wouldn't be there to take care of it, and on that, we can't have a baby, because i wouldn't be able to leave home each week.

Having a child of my own is probably my biggest, strongest desire for as long as i can remember. (quite a few interesting points in that statement)

When asked at school what i wanted to be when i grew up, my answer was never, to be rich, to be famous, to be a cowboy, like all the other kids. My answer was simple honest and true, I just want to be happy.

A few years back i was the dj at a friends birthday party, it was fancy dress, with the theme being "what do you want to be when you're older?" An interesting question for someone in their mid twenties. But i struggled to come up with an idea, unsure about my career and what i wanted from that, where it was going, IF it was going anywhere at all. The only thing that i could think of was my desire to be a father, the only thing i am 100% sure about. And so i dressed as a dad, no idea how i did that, but that's what happened.

So what's this got to do with this blog / project?

Well, i've decided to put myself in the box. Create an autobiographical piece, a self portrait, but not in the traditional sense.

I wish to explore my memories of my own childhood / my currant situation, the ticking clock of the approach to 30 / and my desires and aspirations for the future.

Not one box but three


Wednesday, 17 February 2010

John Gerrard

Gerrard is someone I've been meaning to blog about for some time now. About 5 years ago he cisited the university as a guest lecturer to discuss his working practice, and in particular his work in progress at the time entitled "The Ladder."

Gerrard works with interactive elements with the majority of his pieces forming some form of installation. "The Ladder" featured a physical ladder leaning against the wall of the gallery, propped against a high window, a window through which the viewer could not see. In front of this set piece was a video display, depicting the same ladder, but with a virtual character at the top looking out. This character would then describe what he was seeing through the window. An interesting play on perception / trust / and virtual design.

The piece was displayed as part of ARS Electronica in 2005, and I was there to see it. If I'm honest it didn't really work for me, the way John had explained it months previous left me rather disappointed with the end product. Regardless of this I still find the whole project fascinating.

Since then Gerrard has continued working on a number of different projects, none of which i've actually seen, but maybe this is the best way for me to enjoy his work. From his website examples of these new projects can be found.

One that stands out in particular is his most recent piece "Animated Scene"

"John Gerrard Animated Scene is a collateral project at the 53rd International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. It will be inaugurated on June 4, 2009, and remain open to the public from June 7 - September 30, 2009.

Animated Scene will present three new works as large-scale projections. Each work introduces a virtual scene - astonishingly real but entirely and meticulously fabricated by the artist and his studio between 2007-9 - based on documentation of the agri-industrial landscapes of the American Great Plains, scattered with grain silos, pig production units and small towns.
A fourth work from the same series will be shown concurrently at the Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, as part of Infinitum, the final part of a trilogy of exhibitions mounted by Axel Vervoordt which began in 2007 with Artempo: When Time Becomes Art.

The project is curated by Jasper Sharp, curator and writer, and Patrick T. Murphy, Director and Curator of the Royal Hibernian Academy."

I just love the vastness of this installation. It's simple, stripped setup, yet with a grand possibly overwhelming appearance.

What's in the F'in BOX????

So a couple of weeks ago I had to present to my tutors a kind of update, where i'm at. And although I can clearly talk about all these things for 20-30mins, essentially I didn't really say anything about what my project is actually about. Re-assuringly my tutors did pick up on this, and so the question arose again, "So Graham....What's in the box?"

The following few days this panicked me out a fair bit, much like it has done since september, but time is pressing on, as it seems to have a habit of doing, and I needed an answer, and I needed it soon.

I had the idea of this staircase, and the doorway creating a frame to the rear, through which content can change and adapt over time. Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to ask someone who has no real idea of what this whole thing is about, and get their reaction, their thoughts. It's through this detachment that this idea could develop, something that I was really struggling to do myself.

So I talked it over with g, (g is for girlfriend) and a number of interesting things came about. The following day she did some doodles at work and emailed them to me:

Seeing g's vision of the staircase, simple as it is, opened my eyes to a new possibility. By actually using the staircase in the scene allows there to be multiple layers to the backdrop. So playing on notions of "What the Butler saw" the idea of the working class, the hired help looking in on the upper-class scenes. This multi layered setup would present a form of "upstairs downstairs" play. Which reminded me of one of my favorite images by Alfred Stieglitz:

So finally there was an area of interest, some content for my box.

Alas, something else happened that day which changed everything once again...... (Cliffhanger)

Sam Buxton

I stumbled across the work of Sam Buxton at the V&A gallery last week. Featured in the new acquisitions gallery, his work entitled "Mikro Man" took my interest. Tying in the idea of pop-up cutouts, Buxton has created business cards that can be viewed as flat planes, and also as 3 dimensional pop-up scenes.

His website is under construction at time of typing this, but it's something i'll be checking back on in future.

Voyeurism Shoot

Cast your mind back to that time when I went down to Brighten for my first photo-shoot. You there? Good.

The actual images that I took didn't really come out as I had planned, and I can probably put this down to going on a shoot without a clear idea as to what I was after.

But the purpose of it was to be a learning experience, and in that sense it was a success.

However, there was one particular setup we tried that prompted a possible avenue to explore further.

If we can ignore the terrible balance of light, the framing of this shot is quite interesting for me. In a sense what we have here is a large foreground element, (the staircase) and a framed window / portal into the room at the rear.

The idea would be to construct a physical staircase inside the diorama box, made of cardboard/wood/paper mache, this feature is static in the scene, the foundation, ever-present. The window/doorway/portal on the back wall could be made from a video display, and therefore the content through that frame could change over time. We could look in and see the girl changing, but also, the family eating, the kitchen, the bedroom, the office. And this could be taken further to scenes outside the home, the street, the church, the landscape.

Marilyn Macros

I've also pursued the Thomas Allen concept of the cutout slightly further. I found a book featuring images of Marilyn Monroe throughout her career, glossy black and white photographs, both candid and professional.

I then proceeded to cut the hell out of the publication, turning the images into 3D miniature scenes. This is what I have come to love about this process, images seem to come alive when given perspective, popping out from the page.

I took these cutouts into the studio and played around with different lighting techniques, yet again adding another layer of context to these images.

Here's what i came up with:

Found Dioramas

Over the past couple of months I've visited a few places in London and found some examples of theatrical set design in the form of dioramas. There's something quite different about seeing them in reality. Being able to move around these physical objects and view them from multiple perspectives.

An Edward Gordon Craig set design for Hamlet - From the V&A

The same scene viewed from a different angle

This idea of a whole new world in miniature still excites me.

Sorry RV

So yes, i did that essay thing, and time has past.

I haven't really stopped since this new semester has started, so the blog has been rather neglected.

but that doesn't mean i haven't been doing things, seeing things, reading things, imagining......

So prepare yourself for an onslaught of updates.