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Creative Project – Post 3

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The Erasure – Experiment 1

There is something strangely cathartic about drowning a photo in red wine.” – Me (2017)

My bulk order of photographs has arrived. All versions of the same photo, which over the course of this project will be mutilated, mauled, drowned and otherwise abused as a means of illustrating a tangible reflection of erased personal connections to landscapes, memories and material objects.

This first experiment is done using what I found lying around in my kitchen. Eventually I’ll progress to using harsher chemicals and substances, but as a control I wanted to see how the photographs reacted to everyday liquids. I have also placed a photograph in my South facing window to see how much of an effect sunlight and fading has on it.

Annoyingly the photos didn’t fit into my scientific containers (Chinese takeout tubs) and had to have their edges trimmed and rounded.

Red wine

Anyone that has ever received a gift from me will know that I save up all of the bottles of wine I’m given for Christmas and re-distribute them as gifts to other people throughout the year. As there are no upcoming birthdays, celebrations or whatever, I thought I might as well put the nasty red wine to good use. Pouring red wine over the photograph was oddly cathartic. I’m not a wine drinker/enjoyer, so this is probably the most fun I have ever had with wine, which says more about me and my idea of a good time than it should. But red wine is one of those shady bastards that you’re never meant to spill on anything because YOU WILL NEVER GET IT OUT! So intentionally pouring it over something with the purpose of destroying said thing was so freeing. I don’t think white wine would have had the same effect.

Boiling water

The boiling water was the only liquid to have an immediate effect on the photo. It immediately became flaccid and lost paper quality. In the long term, I think this will most likely change the least.

Bison grass vodka

The awful vodka someone gave me as a 21st birthday present finally has a use, almost 3 years later. This experiment essentially became a way to get rid of the unwanted alcohol that has been sitting at the back of my kitchen cupboards. Apparently mixes well with apple juice (the bottle lies about this, it tastes bloody awful and has grass floating in it.)

The solutions will now sit and wallow until something happens. Afterwards they will be air dried, and potentially sculpted into something, depending how they look. There are 5 months until they’re due to be submitted so they have plenty of time to form cultures or dissolve or sit there and not do anything. (Yes this was written in March but scheduled to be posted in July because I’m predicting that I will have no free time during the summer). According to the North-East Document Conservation Centre:

Photographs in water will quickly deteriorate: images can separate from mounts, emulsions can dissolve or stick together, and staining can occur. Mold can grow within 48 hours at 60% relative humidity and 70°F, and it often causes permanent staining and other damage to photographs.‘ [ Last Accessed 10th March 2017]

So hopefully something should happen if they are left submerged for long enough. There are 5 months until they’re due to be submitted so they have plenty of time to form cultures or dissolve or sit there and not do anything. (Yes this was written in March but scheduled to be posted in July because I’m predicting that I will have no free time during the summer).

Also a little shout out to the really cool way the water one reflects back onto itself. May have to experiment with projecting into water.

Coming up next time… Vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Plus maybe a little dabbling with bathroom cleaner and bleach. Perhaps adding salt to the water solution to see if this has any effect.

Once I have sourced better containers and better chemicals to play around with this should get more exciting. Going back to Jennifer Bouchard’s work from the last post, I may also begin to play around with physically manipulating the photographs using temperature – sticking them in the microwave, oven, freezer etc.

Creative Practice – Post 2

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The Erasure – Contextual Research

Seung Hwan Oh – Impermeance (2012)

“The visual result of the symbiosis between film matter and organic matter is the conceptual origin of this body of work.

This project is about the superimposition of a moment in microbial growth upon a moment in the life of a person through the projection of one spatial-temporal reality onto another.

The process involves the cultivation of chemical consuming microbes on a visual environment created through portraits and a physical environment composed of developed film immersed in water. As the microbes consume the emulsion over the course of months, the silver halides destabilize, obfuscating the legibility of foreground, background, and scale. This creates an aesthetic of entangled creation and destruction that inevitably is ephemeral, and results in complete disintegration of the film so that it can only be delicately digitized before it is consumed.”

– Boraam Han & Seung-Hwan Oh (2012)

[ Last Accessed 10th March 2017]


Jennifer Bouchard – Dancing Emotions (2015)

“As an homage to old school print photography with a modern twist, her series of instant film emulsion lifts represent fading memories, personal to her, altered in such a way that they are cleverly concealed.

‘To differentiate myself I decided to put my Polaroids through the ringer; starting with Impossible Project 600 film. I did everything to them I could think of: I put them in the microwave, in the oven, I set them on fire and even put them on ice. I shoot my original subject and then proceed to photo process through the use of emulsion lifts, scanners and photoshop to create a kind of “hybrid” photo. These shots are layered and create a depth which seems almost tactile and forces the audience to really stop and contemplate the subject of the photograph.

I decided to call the series “Dancing Emotions” as it is a representation of a set of secret memories. I wanted to toy with the line between tangible vs. digital in an ever-expanding digital world.'”

– Jennifer Bouchard (2015)

[ Last Accessed 10th March 2017]


I initially came across the above two artists whilst researching different ways to dissolve photographs. They both appeared in the Art & Science Journal article Dissolving the Photographic Medium. []

What started as a methodology search for the best chemicals and substances to use in order to dissolve the surface of photographs led to the discovery of two very similar artistic practices in theory with vastly different final outcomes in practice.

This has led me to think more about how I want to present my mutilated photographs after their experiments have been carried out. My initial hope was that their surface will have a similar reaction to Seung Hwan Oh’s work; the image will distort and become unperceivable. However, having seen Bouchard’s style of working, I have been inspired to attempt to transform them into beautifully disjointed sculptures to further enhance the idea of these distorted intangible fading memories.

This step won’t happen until after my initial experiments with different substances to alter the facade of the image, yet it has given me a lot of material to think about in terms of pushing the photographs further, mutilating them further, and presenting them as beautifully distorted sculptures.

Creative Project – Post 1


The Erasure

The Erasure serves as a tangible manifestation of the trans-generational effects of land and heritage displacement in rural North-East England.

The series is inspired by the loss of the my traditional family home in the years prior to my birth. My family lived and worked on the Cragside Estate for generations, until it was taken over by the National Trust during the late 1970s. The work cements the notion of the family’s existence upon the landscape, and therefore their heritage and identity, being erased.

The photograph above is of myself with my Mother, circa 1995, visiting Cragside. I never knew the place as a home, yet going there always feels like a homecoming. My family history, my heritage, my identity, is ingrained within the land. But it is neither visible, nor known to those who are not connected to it. We have been erased.


This image is a starting point for the series. It builds upon my previous work, Human/Nature (2016), where portraits were overlaid with images of nature, illustrating humanity’s metaphysical relationship with the natural world. It originates the work in something familiar, yet has an unfamiliar resonance. Our features have been obscured and the landscape has been overlaid with a present-day counterpart, illustrating how the family connection to the landscape has been obscured by the tourism sector, leaving those who once lived there as faceless forgotten memories. But the metaphysical relationship between people and landscape persists.

The series will progress by looking at what it means to be erased.

The photograph will be manipulated, mutilated, experimented upon, as a tangible instrument of the erasure of identity.

CPP Derivative Works – Kanto Centos

A cento is a poetical work composed of verses or passages taken from other authors
Wikipedia – Cento (poetry)

No matter what their specialties or aims, there is one code that they all follow—when two Trainers make eye contact, they must have a battle
Bulbapedia – Pokémon Trainer


Seafoam Islands
Hey, wait up! What’s the hurry?
You looked at me, didn’t you?
I never saw you at the party.
That glance… It’s intriguing.
What do you want? Why are you here?
Are you on vacation too?
I was getting bored.
Have you ever gone swimming in the sea at night?

The Fighting Dojo
We martial artists fear nothing!
I haven’t seen you around before. So you think you are pretty tough?
Nothing tough frightens me! I break boulders for training!
Hey there! I’ll take you on!
I’m going to take you down! Prepare to be shocked!
My chance of losing? Not even one percent!
Huh? Who? What?
That can’t be!

Silph Co. Office Building
You! How dare you enter uninvited?
It’s off limits here! Go home!
Our invisible walls have you frustrated?
Stumped by our invisible floor?
Does our unseen power scare you?
Why did you come here?
I don’t care if you’re lost.
Only the chosen can pass here!

Mt. Moon
What’s beyond the horizon?
Did you come to explore too?
What’s most important in everyday lives?
Ahh! Feel the sun and the wind!
The sea cleanses my body and soul!
Isn’t it relaxing just floating like this?

Ssh! My brain is picking up radio signals!


HSS8123; Second Drafts

There’s no such thing as a final first draft. In just a few days and a handful of experiments, my ideas and projected course have changed quite substantially. This was to accommodate what I feel are is a better, more fun and enjoyable script while also smoothing out technical hurdles that could pose a serious threat to my time schedule and/or sanity.

These hurdles came in two flavours. The first was deformation, the second in keeping the damn models upright. As I quickly learned after opening up my packs of clay and throwing together some very quick, crude experimental models, dear old Plasticine isn’t quite sticky enough on its own to hold up even a small model, and is extremely difficult to keep any sort of consistency while making movements and actually animating. Legs grow stubby as they’re pushed down onto whatever surface you’re using, arms grow twisted and deformed, etc.

Mr. Prototype mk.I becoming Mr. Prototype mk.II after having a skeleton transplanted into him.

My first plan was to build on the 3D printing aspect of the project and build the characters, even those meant to be fully human and “fleshy” a skeleton I could wrap the clay around. The idea being that this would help keep consistency while also perhaps creating a better centre of gravity. It helped slightly with the former, not so much with the latter.

Luckily, professional help was right around the corner and I managed to finally get my hands on a copy of Stop Motion by Susannah Shaw. An excellent book going over all the basics and giving hints and advice for beginners. Browsing through it was an informative experience, even if not all the sections or techniques were relevant.  Surprise, surprise, the very two hurdles I encountered in my first few experiments were specific issues that needed addressed by all stop-motion animators. What I had tried to do with the skeleton is referred to as an armature, and is what actually allows a model to be flexible and thus animated.

As to keeping things upright, the usual solution would be to either use magnets and a steel “foundation” as part of the set, or to include bolts in the model’s feet which could be secured in holes drilled in the floor of the set; these holes would then be filled in once the model’s foot has passed over it to the next.

The magnet solution is both very costly and would be somewhat unwieldy in the space I have, as well as total overkill. The “tiedown” method, meanwhile, is a lot more technically advanced and far more time consuming; I do not have ample access to either resource. The subsequent workaround, which I am quite proud of, is to instead 3D print one character a wheelchair, and to change the other from a cyborg into a cyborg dog, the lower, wider frame hopefully providing much greater balance and stability.

These changes also demand a rewrite of the initial script, which on reflection is a good thing. I am prone of falling into a dangerous trap of trying to make things overly melancholy. More often than not it just comes off as pretentious, boring, and not all that interesting. I intend to wipe away all the waxing and wailing of what makes us human in an overly cryptic and annoying manner. Instead of an old, lonely scientist creating a humanoid companion ala Frankenstein, the new draft will be of an old, lonely scientist creating a simple pet, in a far more simple and wholesome tone.

HSS8123; First Steps/Research

For many months the question of “what to do for the final project?” loomed like an amorphous, indecisive cloud. For the first few months of the course the vague answer was to be some kind of video game, but as time went on I became far less confident with the avenue. I did not feel my coding skills were refined or tempered enough to really make anything of it without the use of pre-made tools such as RPGMaker and the like. Further to that no real concrete idea emerged as to what shape, genre, style, etc this non-descript game would take.

With my continued studies in Screenwriting, however, came an increased interest in film, and I began to side more with it as the clock ticked onward. Two questions remained: how I would make such a thing, and what would the actual film be about? Although I did dabble very, very briefly in digital animation, it was clear that, much like coding, I would probably need at least another year and a proper dedicated course of it to be able to pull off something worthwhile. Or rather, and more importantly, something I’d be happy with.

Stop-motion animation, though something I am still inexperienced in, looked a better street to take, having a slightly less intense skill floor and an equally extreme skill ceiling. This allowed me to continue playing around my primary passion of writing, in producing a script, but also a new found interest in 3D-modelling and printing. With 3D printing, the visual possibilities of any stop-motion project are vastly expanded.

I still, however, required a story and central theme. This began as something vaguely sci-fi. Inspiration came from the likes of Fallout, Deus Ex, and even Overwatch to an extent to focus on a theme of prosthetic (and possibly robotics) technology and their implications. This, I felt, could be wonderfully represented using a mixture of traditional clay/putty models and figures combined with 3D printed parts to represent artificial prosthetics, augmentations, and replacements. I didn’t have a story, but I did have something to work with.

Only, the thematic brainstorming didn’t end there. While casually researching the medium, it occurred to me that the use of clay in modelling holds a rather dignified spot in several creation myths, being used to mold mankind or other legendary creatures such as the golem. When combined with the use of 3D modelling to represent the “artificial” and “unnatural” state of man, it seemed particularly appropriate. Specifically, my research is focused on myths of Mesopotamia and such figures as the god Enki (or Marduk, depending on the specific version) and their involvement in the slaying of other gods and subsequent creating of man.

Eventually a story and script began to form, one brief enough to be doable while still having (hopefully, at least) a strong thematic base that would give me plenty to talk when it comes time to write the dreaded dissertation and all its academic necessities and formalities. A sort of retelling of these sort of creation myths, with an added sci-fi flair and perhaps one or two pieces of Frankenstein thrown in for good measure.

A script obviously isn’t enough, however. For stop-motion, a set and models would be required, and I have been gathering supplies for it:

A terrain mat, clay, and foamboard to be used for the set


Extra set pieces, such as shrubs and barbed wire. Usually used in model train sets

WTFU (a transformative work)

Radio Assemblage 170520

The image above shows the starting stages of an improvised radio assemblage, which was made as part of an ICMuS event in Culture Lab on the evening of 20th May 2017. Four portable radios with transmission equipment and speakers were hung down the middle of a three-storey stair well. The Assemblage was created as a performative improvisation. Over a period of five hours the work was developed to include two additional larger radios; improvised LED lighting; two wooden plinths; malleable magnetic elements; and printed material in the form of vintage radio books. Content drawn from the CLRadio online loop was broadcast as a randomized sequence. The work was well received and viewers were encouraged to participate in the making of the work.

Other images may be viewed by following this link.

Creative Uncertainty and Door to Door Poetry

With the degree show looming, everyone’s under increasing pressure to identify their practice and put together an impressive project. This has been making me increasingly uneasy, because not only do I have to draw together a fairly scatterbrained range of interests, but I’m also struggling to figure out what I’m going to do for a job once I graduate, and how my practice is going to fit into that – will I just be doing something unrelated with arts on the side, or will it be a central part of my career? And if so, how do I make my degree show project contribute towards that?

For the time being, I don’t have much of an answer. The most likely options seem to be:
1) making small games and commercially publishing them (however little for) in order to try to get a narrative design job
2) pushing the workshops/public engagement side of poetry (more on that in a minute) to work towards a public sector arts facilitation job (with Seven Stories, New Writing North, somewhere like that)
3) doing copywriting/content writing to make some freelancing money on the side, potentially feeding into more stable work in the future

The upshot of all this is that I’m being pulled in a lot of directions at the same time.  I certainly can’t carry on just picking and choosing whatever seems the most fun and manageable at any given moment, but having failed to really get anywhere on the above fronts has drained me of a lot of my enthusiasm, making it hard to get invested in any new projects.

So! No use being hard on myself. To counter all that moping, I figured I’d focus on examples of things that have been going well or have captured my interest for the next few blog posts, and see where that gets me. Case in point: cool poetry things.

I’ve been going into a local school and doing supervised afterschool writing groups, which has been fun and well-received. That’s what I’m up to tonight, in fact, so expect a post going into more detail on that front soon. Its been great, and as a way of helping people engage with creativity I think its very rewarding (for me and the pupils), and this reminded me of the practice of another poet – Rowan McCabe, the Door-to-Door Poet.

He’s a very talented poet (see video), which I why I was so excited to have him on-board for the Seven Stories/Late Shows event, but it’s the way he reaches his audience and engages with them that is really interesting. It’s in the name – he goes from door to door, knocking on people’s doors and asking to write them a poem. He finds his topics by talking to people and asking them about their interests/what’s important to them, and he does it for free (although he recently received some Arts Council funding to support his endeavours).

So far he’s done this in four  suburbs in the North East from Stockton to Darras Hall (which is close my neighborhood, out on the edge of nowhere). I really admire this work for what it does to bring poetry alive for people and save it from the stigma of being an art form owned by posh/dead people. The results are generally light-hearted or funny pieces which strike a really nice balance between parodying and celebrating the lives of the people he runs into (although he’s done some more involved pieces as well). I think this is partly because this is an easy and fun kind of poetry to engage with – certainly its a style I try to reach in a lot of my writing as well.

This isn’t something I’m about to go out and try to copy, but it has given me a lot to mull over in terms of making writing as a practice accessible and relevant to its audience. Its definitely an audience-first kind of practice. Food for thought.



Well, the second screenplay idea didn’t work out. I should have known better than to try to scrape by with a colour-by-numbers idea I wasn’t really invested in, but I was fairly disillusioned with the course at the time.

I ended up going back to my original idea – the surreal animation about the drowned man journeying towards the afterlife. I called it SUNK, because I felt it captured the essence of the idea without tipping it too much further into complicated pretentiousness. I was fairly happy with it in the end.

It’s probably a right mess according the criteria we were given for what makes a good screenplay, so I’m not expecting a good mark. I do feel sorry for people who mark screenplays – not only do they have to deal with all the subjective merits that the creative writing tutors do, but they don’t even have the finished film but rather a prototype for a film that might end up being good or crap independently or the quality of the screenplay. But I’m creatively satisfied, at least.

Anyway, I realise that I’ve been banging on about this module with no actual examples of what I’ve been working on, so I’ll add some below. Take this image as an idea for the visual aesthetic and tone I was going for:

(damn, I wish I’d found this image before, I would have put it in my reflective report)BLACK SCREEN



Far away, a body floats some thirty feet above the seafloor. Anchored by a long chain, it forms a crucifixion-like silhouette against the vibrant blue.

Moving closer, SHAW comes into detail: early thirties with a castaway beard, average build, wrapped in chains and unmistakably dead.

Intimately close, the only movement is the stirring of his hair in the water and a crab crawling across his waxy cheek.

SHAW raises his head, and opens his eyes.

He looks around. His eyes widen, and he begins to thrash wildly, accompanied by a note of rising panic.



SHAW sits on a rock, staring at his mottled, dead hands. His eyes are wide and shaking, and he does not blink.

Behind him is the anchor embedded in the sand, joined to him by a chain wrapped many times around his body.

Far away but approaching break-neck fast, a scrap of purple fabric is buffeted closer on the current.

It strikes SHAW, wrapping around his face. He stands and grabs it, holding it draped across his hands.

It is a faded scarf, embroidered with pale blue flowers and the faint words ‘forget me not’.



SHAW stands in sailor’s clothes. He is shaven, healthy and alive, holding the same scarf, only new.

He looks up and smiles, with easy affection.

Standing opposite is LORNA, dark-haired and modestly pretty, smiling expectantly.

The surrounding room gives a snapshot of their life: a small bed, a threadbare rug, a rocking chair, a table with a lantern and a DOG curled next to a fireplace, all packed into one small room.

They embrace.



Cresting the brow of a slope, SHAW comes to a wide vista.

A procession of drowned men and women follows a winding path along the seafloor, towards a gate and fence hewn from coral.

Where the line reaches the gate, a SEA DEVIL wielding a long trident sits atop a ship’s crow’s nest buried in the sand.

Closer in, the SEA DEVIL’s bottom half is that of an octopus and its top half humanoid but with a crab-like carapace.

It obstructs the DROWNED MAN at the front of the line with its trident and inspects him, menacing but impassive, before allowing him through the gate.

SHAW watches this process repeat from behind a rock, and then steps out and approaches.

To the side, he spots something – the scarf snagged on a piece of coral.

He picks it up, puts it on, and joins the back of the line.



SHAW lies motionless on barren seafloor, the anchor a short distance away and the lantern lying further off, its glow fainter now.

SHAW stirs.

Blurry, the lantern comes into focus and SHAW stumbles toward it.

SHAW’s boot comes down next to a half-buried shell, setting off eddies of sand that swirl around it.

The shell un-buries itself, revealing itself as a HERMIT CRAB, which scuttles after SHAW.

SHAW reaches the lantern and picks it up.

Straitening up, he is startled as the lantern reveals a gruesome angler fish, uncomfortably close with nightmare jaws stretched wide.

SHAW holds the anchor as if about to swing at the angler, when a pebble strikes it in the eye. It darts away.

SHAW turns to see the HERMIT CRAB next to a small pile of pebbles, bouncing another in its tiny claw.

SHAW smiles weakly, before the scything beam of the lighthouse sweeps overhead like a searchlight.

SHAW turns, gives a whole-body sigh, and pauses.

He begins pursuit, hefting the anchor onto his shoulder once more.

As SHAW walks, the DOG is momentarily walking beside him in place of the HERMIT CRAB.