Creative Practice – Post 6

“WHERE IS THE BURNING?” – It’s coming soon, but in the meantime here’s what I’ve been reading, watching looking at etc.

Hollis Frampton – Nostalgia (1971)

A film in which Frampton burns photographs, while a narration provides a description for the upcoming photograph simultaneously.

 

For a bit more context, I’ve also been reading the following about Frampton’s work. They have been insightful, not only with understanding the nature of destruction within art and burning the photographs, but also the disjunction created by the narrative with the audio and visual components portraying a different narrative.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/32555396/Segal_UT_publication.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1502538685&Signature=PitrkrsUD2c2xfuoIJ95sWJfJHw%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DFrom_the_Private_to_the_Public_Photograp.pdf

http://www.jstor.org/stable/20687561?seq=3#page_scan_tab_contents

https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=7oaop4ekuEMC&oi=fnd&pg=PR6&dq=hollis+frampton+nostalgia&ots=dtwSu01AMo&sig=JARDS0m5JN5xAGHE797FWRYXPGM#v=onepage&q=hollis%20frampton%20nostalgia&f=false

Auto-destructive art and Gustav Metzger

I have also been reading articles and viewing artworks that would fall under the category of Auto-destructive art, taking inspiration from the pioneering artist in the movement Gustav Metzger in particular.

Of all the work I viewed, one in particular, in conjunction with the line of one quote, had an impact on my outlook towards this project more than any other did.

“The important thing about burning a hole in that sheet was that it opened up a new view across the Thames of St Paul’s cathedral. Auto-destructive art was never merely destructive. Destroy a canvas and you create shapes.”

Recreation of First Public Demonstration of Auto-Destructive Art 1960, remade 2004, 2015 Gustav Metzger

An integral part to my work is the view, and challenging perceptions of how domestic photographs are viewed. I have taken a large amount of inspiration from how Metzger perceived the destruction of the sheet altered how a view was observed. It has encouraged me to experiment with using a sheet to cover my photographs, and in turn destroy the sheet as a metaphor for breaking down the concealment within domestic photography and the family album, and also as an expression of looking at the images with an alternative view.

Creative Project – Post 5

“The Erasure… Or…?”

Somewhere along the lines of experimentation I decided that I didn’t like the way that the project was progressing. The Erasure is something that I will no doubt go back to, however, I feel like I need to both broaden and reduce the scale of it simultaneously.

So where does that leave me?

I believe that in order to do The Erasure justice, and to truly comprehend the effects of land displacement, I need to take a step back and look at the wider picture of my heritage, family background, and family album on the whole. I am using it as a tool without necessarily first understanding what it contains and how it can be used as a tool. This is where the Creative Project become a new project entirely – or at least a different branch of the project.

From here I began looking at the theory of family albums. Jo Spence and the Social Album in particular, which is demonstrated through her 1979 work Beyond the Family Album. (See link for details)

http://www.jospence.org/beyond_family_album/beyond_family_album_thumbs.html

The Social Album presents the idea that there is a large amount being screened out of domestic photography and the family album. Families are indoctrinated with the idea that they must only present a positive impression of their life and the negative aspects cannot be displayed or documented. In opposition to this, the Social Album celebrates all aspects of family life and therefore can be used as a genealogical tool to understand the lives as lived of those before us.

In the shifting direction of the project, I therefore decided to create a response to the Social Album using my own family album. I have decided to use four frames, each incorporating a different theme of the Social Album. Cragside is the starting point, as this was the starting point of the initial project. It presents what an idyllic family life appeared to be, as this is the impression Cragside has always given me. Over the last 23 years I have romanticised it to the extent that I have created my own Domestic Myth. However, the frame speaks of displacement, and other negative aspects of family life that in my romanticised vision, I did not usually associate with Cragside. This includes untimely deaths, miscarriages, unwed mothers (in the 1930s shock horror) and hidden adoptions. The following 3 frames deal with adultery & divorce, breakdown of family ties, and illness & death. The images used are symbolic of the themes and do not depict them explicitly, as my family album mirrors the traditional albums that do not show negative aspects of family life.

I aim to approach this as an investigation: is it possible to create a full Social Album and not exclude negative aspects that one would otherwise hide? Can the family album be used as a genealogical tool if it does not give an accurate overview of the family life? Can a Social Album (or a reverse Social Album) be read within the family album through absences and negations? People disappear from the albums – why is this? Can a narrative be uncovered through learning how to read beneath the surface of each image and the album as a collective?

Next: experimentation. I have ordered a blow torch and plan on experimenting with how burning can be included in the work.

 

Creative Project – Post 4

“Dissolve my pretties!” – Me (2017)

The second round of dissolving photographs had a much more immediate impact than the first round did. I predicted that the bicarb and vinegar mixture would have some immediate effect, however, they didn’t. Which was disappointing. I thought that once the foam settled it would leave some form of alteration on the image. How disappointing…

 

Bleach, however. The dissolving with bleach is my new favourite effect. It is immediate and once all of the image has ran, it is left as an entirely erased white piece of photo paper. It was quite astounding to watch.

The result of this experiment was much closer to the effects of Seung Hwan Oh – Impermeance (2012) (see Post 2). I like this look, although it may be difficult to preserve the photograph with this effect in the long term as the bleach eventually leads to a complete erasure. This could be further experimented with as different dilutions of the bleach. The physical act of immediate erasure could also be incorporated into a performance element within the exhibition itself.

Creative Project – Post 3

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 19.06.13

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.‘ [https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/3.-emergency-management/3.7-emergency-salvage-of-wet-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

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 18.26.29

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)

[http://www.seunghwan-oh.com/text1 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)

[https://magazine.the-impossible-project.com/dancing-emotions/ 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. [http://www.artandsciencejournal.com/post/98993240087/dissolving-the-photographic-medium-the]

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

IMG_20140421_0010

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)