Summary/Evaluation of the Extended Practice Module
This project started by simply sharing contemporary still-life photos with a friend who commented that the images were lurid.
The word lurid really stuck with me, as it seemed like such a loaded and complicated word, and when researching the etymology, the word changed over the past couple hundred years. It seemed to initially refer to ‘a sickly pallor’ colour in 1658, and then made its way to the ‘sensational’, and finally in 2007, it was ‘unpleasantly bright in colour; gaudy, loud’. (OED, 1903)
When I see contemporary still-life images like the one above from Doan Ly, I think more of the ‘sensational’, ‘of, relating to, or dependent on sensation or the senses; sensory’.(OED, 2016). And I wondered how I could approach still-life from my point of view. While researching around still-life, I came across a fantastic lecture by Mariët Westermann, titled The Lemon’s Lure, published by Yale University Art Gallery, you can view it here. She mentions the great work on citrus by David Freedberg, and I quickly discovered his epic book titled, Citrus Fruit, that he co-wrote with Enrico Baldini. This book introduced me to citrus varieties that at first glance, seemed fictional in the way that they were so unusual and otherworldly. There is an archive of etchings and watercolour taxonomy of citrus from the 1600’s onwards, and interestingly, the archive features monstrosities, misshapen fruits, and hybrid varieties, not just beautiful or perfect specimens that one would expect in a book of this kind. I think it is the element of surprise or novelty that seduces the viewer here, at least it did for me, and possibly Giovanni Battista Ferrari who commissioned his hesperides to be catalogued. (Freedberg and Balddini, 1997)
I started investigating whether it would be possible to find interesting hybrid varieties of citrus and mutations, and through social media I was able to find two sources. It surprised me how generous both producers were, in their wiliness to help and share their citrus with me for free. One of them said to me that ‘my love of citrus fruit was payment enough’.
In the early stages of this project I was primarily interested in photographing the citrus fruit that I sourced, but wasn’t satisfied with my early attempts at creating representational still-life scenes.
It wasn’t the trajectory I wanted to go down, despite finding the images by Doan Ly so appealing. I started thinking more about the words that I found in the Citrus Fruit book, monstrosities, misshapen fruits, hybrids, synthetic chimera, and by focusing on them, it allowed me to leave the table-top of the still-life scene and think of the words attached to citrus fruit conceptually.
It was easy to form a connection between the citrus hybrids and hybrid printmaking, and to try and think of extensions of print. For example, printing/etching sound onto a vinyl record (more on that later!), or using technologies like 3D printing. These print methods had been curiosities of mine, but I had not seen a way of using them or entwining them into a body of work until now. I found that the ideas around hybrids and cyborgs a useful strategy to strip away definitive boundaries between human/nature/technology and traditional and digital print methods. Donna Haraway (1991, pp. 150) states ‘I am making an argument for the cyborg as a fiction mapping our social and bodily reality and as an imaginative resource suggesting some very fruitful couplings’.
With my interest in citrus, machines/technologies, me/human interaction with these objects from nature, I was thinking about experience and event, in the way I would create ‘happenings’ to document or to fictionalise a moment, and how the event, the participation and interaction, forms an intimacy towards discovery and knowledge.
When researching around the idea of ‘event’, I came across Alain Badiou’s book Being and Event. The below quote talks about void, but I am thinking of void more as an eraser of barriers between categories or definitions, specifically nature, human, and technology. Badiou (2005) states:
On the edge of the void- characteristic of the position of an evental site within a situation. Since none of the elements of the site are presented ‘underneath’ the site there is nothing- within the situation- apart from the void. In other words, the dissemination of such a multiple does not occur in the situation, despite the multiple being there. This is why the one of such a multiple is, in the situation, right on the edge of the void.
I was asked to write a simple paragraph about this project to act as a guide for both me and the tutor/viewer to make connections between ideas, but most importantly to create some loose parameters to work within. Otherwise one could easily cloudy meaning by adding more and more elements. Here is the paragraph:
This project is about how we perceive failure. Everyday small failings reflect ‘mishappenings’: of communication and dialogue, of what happens between humans, and of what happens between humans and their natures, including machines. I can identify and empathise with these mishappenings. The project seeks to document a few of my interactions with the so-called ‘flawed’ as a way of preserving intimate, shared experiences, and of trying to understand the feeling of the ununderstandable.
For this project I was determined to add a sound element. Since the start of the MA, I have been talking about sound. For the research module I used sound works to help me make images, and to think about conceptual screenprinting/printmaking. By listening and thinking of the layers of sound, and then trying to translate the sound layers into layers of an image. At the start of my second year, Sarah brought me an example of ‘printmaking’ that was a vinyl record by artist Magda Stawarska-Beavan, of her project East (Hypen) West.
It wasn’t just a record, the inside of the record jacket was an artist’s book, and had an interactive quality. My mind was doubly blown. Firstly, because Sarah seemed to capture precisely the most important part of my art practice that I had not explored yet, and secondly, because her work couldn’t be closer to my own artistic goals. The coupling of sound and print. Stawarska-Beavan (2017) writes about sound and printmaking in her practice here:
I am interested in how one method of creative technological practice informs and translates to others, for example how working with printmaking can influence the way artists approach sound or music and vice versa, how working with sound, deep listening, can change the way we create and read the visual image. The elements of printmaking techniques such as layering, transparency, and viscosity can readily be recognised in the creation of sound compositions but equally the rhythm, passage of time and performance can also be read in examples of printmaking where moving image qualities flow back and feed into the works on paper. In particular, I am interested in how the visualisation of sound can affect image making and how the ephemeral qualities of sound and memories translate into printmaking forms.
We are conceptually driven by different themes and influences, but the outputs are similar. I probably hesitated making my own sound works, because it technical, and requires a number of years invested in it to produce something of an admirable quality. But, with my interest in sensation/the senses/sensory and theories around affect. What I hoped to do is, even if it is not technically proficient, at least provide a feeling or experience. Translate a sound event into a sound experience.
I did a few test sound experiments to test equipment and the editing software. One test was my interaction with a pink lemon paper wrapper that arrived from one of my suppliers. I scraped the paper against a contact mic, to get close up sounds, and also to document an experience of my interaction, creating a type of event. Transforming the paper wrapper from its one use, to an instrument of sorts. Although, I was told it sounded like scurrying rats, I was happy to evoke a feeling. I don’t mind if the reaction to my work is uncomfortable, better than feeling nothing. The other test was using a coil mic recording the sound of one of the 3D printers as it printed one of my citrus fruits in blue. The result was an intense electronic noise, synthetic like the colour of the printed citrus. For both recordings I was able to do a simple upload with the editing software, and convert the file so that I could then create a downloadable file to share on SoundCloud for listening. For my sound work for the degree show, I wanted to create a piece that was referencing print, using many layers and misregistration of sounds, creating some distorted effects, as you would get in print. I recorded the peeling of oranges, and dropping citrus seeds onto cymbals.
The editing of the sounds was a huge learning curve for me. The software that I have been using is called Reaper. Many people creating sound works/sound art use it, so I thought that I should have a go. It is far more than what I needed, and its capabilities are vast. But, I finally made some progress (thank you YouTube) and feel fairly happy with the result. It has taken months to produce 6 minutes of sound. It could have been a longer piece, but I thought for the show, 6 minutes is actually quite long. Especially considering the audience, many people won’t be interested in this kind of sound work, and the potential that listeners will lose interest quickly, is highly probable.
I have to say, ‘printed’ sound on a clear vinyl record is an object of beauty. It is probably one of the most exciting things I have been creatively attached to. And hope that I continue on the pathway of making books and records in this way. It would be a nice feature at book fairs to have a sound element. It wasn’t just about trying to be retro or that vinyl is cool. It is about etched sound. Like sonic relief work. There is also the interactive aspect of the listener physically touching the piece and ‘pressing play’. The temporality of the tone arm and needle moving across the grooves, which also lets the listener know approximately how much time is left, through movement, is more satisfying that watching a digital numerical counter on your screen or device. There is also something pleasing about the mechanisation of the needle delicately moving across a perfect sphere, the pops and crackles at the end of the record is possibly one of the best features of the piece.
Another long and technical process has been the printing of the 3D objects. I wish that I would have started this process earlier in the MA. Again, it wasn’t until thinking about this particular project, that I thought of making and printing objects in this way. The 3D scanning of the fruit proved to be tricky, it was as if the machine could not interpret the curves found in nature. One of my favourite scans was a ‘mishappened’ scan of a ‘mishappened citrus fruit. It seemed to duplicate the image, almost like conjoined twins. Which I also thought was interesting, that something that naturally happens in nature, also could happen digitally. This was a good example of my empathy towards the theme of perceived failure that was found in my use of technology in this project, and the mutated fruit that I was working with.
I also wanted to incorporate some traditional print elements to counter some of the technology that I had been using to create hybrids prints. I decided to explore this with photography and ceramics. It is natural for me to use photography, because it is my first language, and for the past few years there has been a resurgence of film and analogue processes, therefore using film, could potentially counter the 3D printed forms, even purely from a haptic element in making.
Ceramics I also have a history with, and using it for this project represents the handmade element, together with the hand of the machine. My original goal, without knowing how the processes worked, was to have some of the citrus fruit 3D printed by a robot. I soon discovered that it is very difficult to print complicated forms, such as tentacles found on a buddha’s hand citrus or curves of other fruits. I thought a workable compromise could be plaster casts of the 3D printed forms. I soon found out that the traditional plaster cast process also has limitations, and work best when using a simple form. I did some casts of some more simple shapes from a bizarria citrus fruit, and that work quite well.
It was also suggested that I use a silicone mold to cast one of my more complicated 3D printed forms in jesmonite, as silicone is more forgiving of complex shapes. I was interested in the casting process for reference the idea of editioning in print.
I could have used one of the more standard print techniques to create a ‘hybrid’ print, which is very common in contemporary printmaking, such as screenprinting, letterpress, laser cutting, combined with other print methods, but I wanted to approach it from a different angle, and actually stretch mediums beyond my comfort zone. I was also interested in multitude of printed forms, especially weaving between the idea of a sonic etching, 2D print as photographs or in book form, and also 3D quasi-replicas.
I used a digital camera and a medium format twin-lens camera for the images in this project. Because there are two lenses, these medium format cameras can be problematic. What you are viewing through one lens is not what is being captured by the other lens, and this can give you a parallax error. Typically, this happens when you are too close to the subject, some of image that you see through the viewfinder is displaced or missing when it is exposed to film. I personally like this effect, the element of surprise, letting go of control, and letting the machine dictate the circumstances. It can technically be a ‘perceived failure’, but with time you get to know what to expect and create the desirable outcomes. And often your image contains a lot of negative space.
Last on this list, but first on my mind are books. Making books was the reason I wanted to do this MA. I was very apprehensive to begin with, as I wasn’t exactly sure where to start, but the best process for me is to just start making pages. Just start. I have only made one book this year. The viewer will travel in and out of images, text, and quotes around ideas related to the larger body of work I have been making this year. I had the book bound and a presentation box made for it and the degree show.
The degree show
I am writing this before the show is installed. I am inserting an edit here. I have now installed the show! I had done some careful planning, but there were a few things that I did not anticipate, such as the electricity that I needed for my turntable, coming from the ceiling, there were no wall sockets, like what I assumed. Or that there would be some permanent gallery fixtures, that would be included in the colour of paint I used. Just like the past three years, the installing of the degree show is also about problem solving and compromise, and in some cases some positive results. What I found interesting, was when the plan when out the window, due to the external issues, I went into making mode. Just like I would when making photographs or a book or recording my sound piece. That wasn’t something I expected. And another reason why I didn’t want to have perfectly lined framed works along a gallery wall. I wanted it to be an extension of everything from this past year, or three years. And I think it does that. I am ever so thankful for the space I was assigned. Despite the electrical issue and ugly gallery fixtures, it is an intimate space, which is perfect for contemplation, looking at pages, listening, questioning, and hopefully feeling.
The time during this MA has stretched and pulled me in a multitude of directions, and I looking forward to seeing where the momentum and stimulation takes me next.
Badiou, Alain (2005) Being and Event. London: Continuum.
Freedberg, David and Baldini (1997) Citrus Fruit. London: Harvey Miller Publishers.
Haraway, D. (1991) Simians, Cyborgs, and Women, The Reinvention of Nature. London: Free Association Press.
Oxford English Dictionary, 1903. Lurid. [online] Available at: https://www-oed-com.bris.idm.oclc.org/view/Entry/111313?redirectedFrom=lurid – eid[Accessed on 4 October 2018].
Oxford English Dictionary, 2016. Sensational. [online] Available at https://www-oed-com.bris.idm.oclc.org/view/Entry/175941?redirectedFrom=sensational – eid[Accessed on 4 October 2018].
Stawarska-Beavan, Magda (2017) Resonating The Visual: Printmaking and Sound Practice. [PDF] Magda Stawarska-Beavan. Available at: http://www.magda-stawarska-beavan.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Resonating-the-Visual-Printmaking-and-Sound-Practice-New_B.pdf[Accessed on 17 May 2019].
Detailed notes from the start of the Extended Practice Module
First week back of our final year. The energy amongst the group seems to be filled with excitement, trepidation, anxiety, and the familiar feeling that things are the same. The same in the sense that it felt like no time passed. We didn’t have a summer break. It seemed that some people didn’t do much making at all over the summer. Some got new jobs. One even a job that you would hope for after graduating. Not much changed for others. Some gained weight. Others looked exactly the same. There is a pressure. The last year. It feels as though what we make this year needs to be amazing. All of a sudden a solid body of work that will go places. The work will go places, but probably for those that already had work going places before they started the programme. I feel panicked. It is almost as if there is something that I know about myself that hasn’t been revealed yet. A ridiculous sense that this could be my last chance. But that isn’t how it works. No one has given me a deadline. An expiry date. But it is an overwhelming feeling. And who for? What will it do. Art doesn’t save lives. Or does it? Maybe for the maker. The mundane of the everyday and crumbling and collapse of civilisation make me want to create micro fantasy worlds to escape into.
I have been trying to make photographs throughout the break because I wanted to be prepared for the final year. I didn’t want to lose momentum. It was helpful. Ideas have taken shape, and I feel a greater sense of commitment towards them. But that voice inside my head keeps asking me, why? What are you doing? What is the point? Don’t get distracted. Do something, one thing, well. Try to at least. Why do you want to I do everything? I mean try new things now? Now? You had two years to play, why do you want to add more unknowns to a restrictive period of time. The degree show. That is what we are preparing for. Focus on that. Be ready. Feel good. People will see it. The judgement. Three years spent building towards the show.
Why have I been looking forward to this pressure?
Now that the first week is over, we have reacquainted from the summer break, we better get serious. Take advantage of the facilities while we can. I mean, that is what we are paying for, right?
I was focusing on the mini-print. This is a 3rdyear task. It is a fundraiser for our degree show and other activities. The annual mini-print usually is shown at the Arnolfini Bookshop. I have been thinking about the mini-print all summer. It should be something someone wants to buy, it is a fundraiser after all. So, probably not something I would normally do. Ha! Also, it is a group of 30 prints, I think, so what should I make that will stand out. Be appealing. We collectively joked that a sell-out mini print would be a print of a cat. Everyone will surely want one. In the back of my mind I think that the mini-prints that don’t sell get seen again, and again. They get offered as prizes for other fundraising activities, are archived, are given to each one of us who has made a mini print. The mini print lives on. So, it needs to be good. But it is small. Hence the name mini. So how do you make an impact with a dinky image? You can probably tell that some overthinking is happening here. I wonder if that is a form of procrastination. Probably. Procrastination in a cloak of so-called thinking. Forming ideas. Trying to be ‘intellectual’ or ‘conceptual’.
I was also struggling with the need to do some actual printmaking. I thought about doing a photo etching, but an edition of 60 would be painful. Visitors to this exhibit and potential buyers are expecting something that is a print made by a ‘printmaker’. I decided to go for a riso print. Still nodding at printmaking, still using plates, colour separation, still something somewhat acceptable to the printmakers. Maybe not the hard-core traditionalists, but still a language that they might understand.
I have sent off the files, paid, and now I wait. A mini-print in the hands of someone else. I don’t mind that someone else is doing the printing. But what will it look like? I have been warned that there will be more grain and the colours will be different, but will it still look good? Will anyone want it? Time will tell.
Today is my scheduled catch-up with my tutors. I thought that I should show they some prints I have been working on so they would see what kind of still life I have been exploring. So far this summer I have been trying to get the still life to feel like me. I have been doing cut outs, collages, garish colours, quite over the top, but needed to find what was right. I thought that I should move from the small Instagram backlit square to a large print to see how they felt. How they would hold up. And if they are large, they would be more serious, right?. I ordered paper so I could print them at home, but didn’t order the paper in time. On Thursday I prepared my files in the photography print studio, but they were doing workshops so couldn’t’ print them. I had no other choice, I had to go to the Digital Print Bureau. Luckily it is the beginning of term and the cue was manageable. It was a race to get them printed before my catch-up. They were finished just in time, but they looked terrible. I felt horrified. The small image on my laptop looked so much better than a A0 flat ill conceived, poorly manipulated image. What a waste of £123! One of my classmates saw them being printed, and said “I love your work”, “your work is really going to go places”, “I could see them in a hair salon”, “you know the soft colours”. Wow, a hair salon!? No offence to anyone that has work hanging in a hair salon, but that isn’t my ambition. My goal. My vision. What is my ambition, goal, and/or vision? How about a gallery and/or a book.
I thought that I was on to something with these images. That somehow I was finding my way. And then they are right in front of you. Looking terrible. So I chopped some of them up, because they were too big to fit in our drawer. That’s right drawer. Not a studio, a drawer. I wanted to immediately alter them. I could only think of painting on top of them to cover the areas I hated. Later I thought that I should careful use a scalpel to cut out the ‘bad’ sections. I feel like I need to start again. That I don’t know what I am doing. But time is running out. I have 8 months to prepare for our degree show. I have other things I want to figure out. Sound and ceramic pieces, neither of which I really know how to do. I thought I knew how to make photographs. I would have one component that was getting close. But no. I have nothing. Zilch. Better to know now I guess.Oh, and the work that I have in the Visions of Science exhibit is framed and matted wrong. I struggle with thinking about what other people want verses just doing what I do.
Things have settled, a bit of normality seems to be with us. I did a few test prints this week, and that was helpful. It highlighted errors in my prints which I wasn’t able to see on screen. I know everyone talks about this, but it only seems to be relevant when you see it with your own eyes. The metamorphosis of an image when it moves from pixels to ink on paper. Not that it makes it better or worse, but it changes it.
I was reading a comment made by an established photographer who would probably be in his 60’s, and would have grown up as an analogue photographer, but moved with the times. He was reminiscing about large format chromes/transparencies on a lightbox. If you haven’t seen them for yourself, they are exquisite. Nothing can replace this process. The light going through an image in this way, is similar in some ways to viewing an image through a backlit computer screen. It gives the image a life that paper cannot. Ink bleeds into the paper pulp becoming its own thing, and in turn, hopefully absorbing us as well. But, like moths, we are attracted to light.
This week I have been thinking about Library Man Books. Do you know them?
And Mack Books. But I think everyone thinks about Mack Books. They are very established in the photo book game. I have been thinking about them because I am not interested in DIY projects other than home renovations. But I want beautifully crafted, simple, clean, designed, books. But, I would like to move away from the rectangle. I know that a photograph is usually a square or a rectangle, but I like the fragments of a scene. A part of an image. A cut out. Like isolating the sound of a songbird from the traffic.
I know I have told you this once before. But, I just reminded myself of an old vision/desire I once had. Several books, by me, on a shelf, in a shop, for sale, and to look at. To be something that people want to buy and/or give as a gift. I knew that it wouldn’t be my writing that would do this for me, but there is this ridiculous desire for this fantasy. I have made ‘books’. But they are more in the DIY realm, not a properly published book.
Mack just announced an open call for the first book prize. A person who has never been published by a third party. I feel compelled to do this, but it is completely ridiculous. I am not ready for this call. One day.
I went off early to see the Spike Island Exhibit
Benoit Maire’s Thebeson viewuntil 9 Dec.
This exhibition is comprised of three parts- films, objects and paintings.
The film ‘The word origin’ (2018) seemed to be a stumper for some but I thought maybe the clue was in the title. Perhaps I was viewing it too literally, but it made me think about words and their root, and definitions that are fronds and expand into new meanings or things. I especially thought this when the protagonist got an egg out of the fridge and a bottle of maple syrup. I zeroed in on the maple syrup, no doubt because it runs through my Canadian veins, but I couldn’t help but tap into the fact that it too is a product of a tree, like the egg from a chicken, the architect creating a future building that may or may not get built, and the intellectual discussion about economics and politics acting as a soundtrack in the background. Symbols in a rhizome web.
I entered another transition zone in the main gallery with the cloud paintings. I felt like I was on a flight, but the clouds in the gallery were magical, and hinted at Peter Doig’s paintings of rainbows.
I was slightly more disconnected from the large instillation of objects, even though I liked the overall scene. I thought that the photographs were very strong, and the image of Maire and Matthias still stay with me.
It seems a little unfair that an artist can be successful in a number of disciplines, I find it challenging to figure out one. A must see exhibit.
After the exhibit I went home to photograph the orange I had in mind for the for MA Reunification project. A zine that was going to feature the work of all of the MA students in the different programmes as part of the degree show. Sadly, it didn’t generate enough interest, so they decided not to continue with it. The idea for that image, has led me to make some other work that I am doing on the side of my main project this year. When I am feeling stuck or that momentum is halted do to waiting on others etc., I like to make these images that where were referred to as “one liners”. I guess because they are lacking depth? They are more of a self-amusement project.
Re-think/What the heck
Discovered artist Sarah Knobel
You know you have a long way to go when you see what someone else is going.
John Baldessari– Why didn’t I know about this. I too have a ridiculous hippo, it looks completely derivative.
Frans Baake artist book talk. Good. Clever bits. Interesting use of photography. Not a photobook. I am always curious about this. The photobook and artist’s book distinction.
Grymsdyke Farm visit
I first found out about Grymsdyke Farm back in February 2017 when the Architecture Centre exhibited Life of Clay: Experimental Practice at Grymsdyke Farm. This was a fascinating and stimulating show. It did blow my mind a bit. The work was tactile, somewhat otherworldly in the way that the shapes and forms were familiar but also odd. Odd it the best possible way. Textures that were organic and biological, repetitive and pixel like. The colours were bright and synthetic. It was futuristic, to me anyway. I really had not come across digital forms like this before.
When thinking about my current project and wanting to weave histories and explore the idea of the hybrid, I thought it would be appropriate to try to incorporate digital ceramics to create digital documents of misshapen citrus fruits. It was suggested that I shouldn’t simply reproduce fruit, it might be more interesting if I were to inject my own fictions. But, in wanting to highlight our digital times, I wanted to document the citrus in a technology of today, just as they had used watercolours and etchings to make documents of the citrus varieties in the 1700s.
I sent a feeler email out to Guan Lee the Director/creator of Grymsdyke Farm, as it seemed like the ideal place where my robotic/digital fruits could be made. I didn’t hear back for a few weeks. I assumed that either they were busy, like everyone, or they were simply not interested. I am a nobody, and they might only want to work with established artists on bigger projects. That still might be the case, but I did hear back from Guan Lee, and he suggested that I come out to the farm for a visit. This was a very exciting prospect. I was giddy with excitement.
It was unclear if we had arrived to the right place. Google maps said yes, but there was no signage. We drove up the drive, with the hopes that we wouldn’t be greeted with a passive aggressive telling off for being at the wrong place. There was a promising sign that one of the buildings had its doors propped, something was going on inside, but it could have easily been farm vehicles getting an oil change. Phew. We were in the right place. We got someone to help us find Guan. He was in the large communal kitchen making noodles. It was a casual, inviting, nicely designed kitchen. One large table for visiting makers to eat at, discuss ideas, and/or to chit chat. I immediately started talking to three master’s students in architecture who were there for the week finishing up a project. They were open, friendly and interested to share. They were from Brazil, Greece and Luxemburg.
I thought that it was interesting that this farm in the countryside appealed to creatives from all around the world. And also an oxymoron in my mind, that digital futures, a place for exploring possibility and the desire to stretch the elasticity of materials to create a new language, was on a farm. With animals and vegetables and a small orchard. The place itself was a hybrid. Old ways of living with technology bursting out of the buildings, literally. Alien forms littered the yard. It was hard to tell if I was in a dystopian or utopian land. I decided it was utopian because I was so happy being there. Having read about artist communes throughout art history, I felt this was the closest that I have experienced. The shared kitchen, and other shared work spaces for computer work and an extensive library for references. There is a traditional ceramic studio, and other buildings for the robot, CNC, laser cutter, and more. Groups of people worked together in each of the spaces. Harmoniously.
Guan took us to a room at the back of the house to discuss the project I had in mind. The lighting was warm, and we sat at a Hans Wegner table and his famous three legged chairs. I am not sure that my ideas excited him. It was hard to tell. His face was not overly expressive. But, I have not yet met a face that has shown me an expression that matches my enthusiasm. He was clear about the challenges of the robot. The difficulty or impossibility to create circular shapes. The programmes needed to create files. Both that I have not worked with before. It was a slow crumbling of an idea. Not dead, just difficult. He then took us around and showed us all the studios, and introduced us to the robot.
I was so happy to meet this machine. It was tall and elegant like a crane (the bird). Guan wanted to do a quick demonstration for us. There were technical issues with trying to find the right file. And with a few attempts with the wrong files, the robot sputtered and gasped, as if it needed a little sympathy. Here we go again, he thinks. Another fucking coiled pot. I knew it was ridiculous to feel for the robot, but it was probably just my projection and hopes that it could do something great for me. Weary to put all my eggs in one basket, and having been warned about the complexity involved, I felt excited and deflated at the same time. Gasping and sputtering in my mind.
We finished our visit back where we started, at the communal kitchen table. Guan asked what Mark’s research was about, and his interests seem to perk up. He then thought that one of his students should have a quick discussion with Mark about his project. Perhaps Mark could provide some colonial/post-colonial/de-colonial insights. He did. Both Guan and the student were excited, almost enthralled. I felt proud and jealous at the same time. I wondered if there will be a time when I could offer something like that. To get people excited. I guess that is the thing with the arts. There are so many artists. There are less people who can talk theory to you about our colonial past. Maybe it is just the circles we run in/around. I feel like a dog chasing its tail.
On the road, back to Bristol, thinking of how I can make my robot fruits.
Meet with Sarah. She suggested it. Sarah and Paul together.
Hybrid printmaking often combines a digital technology with a traditional print method. I thought that this would be a natural way to expand on and enhance my approach and thinking around my photographic practice. I have experimented with digitally printing photographs and then screenprinting and/or etching on top of the digital image to create a so called hybrid. This isn’t anything new in the grand scheme of things, and therefore left me feeling that it was just about combining processes, nothing more than that.
I then started thinking about how to expand on hybrid printmaking as an idea, but thought about going more basic. Just focusing on the word hybrid. Thinking about other forms of hybrids. I had recently revisited my interest in Dutch still life painting, focusing on the reoccurring lemon motif, and discovered David Freedberg’s research on citrus fruit. This led me into a fascinating world of hybrid fruit, misshapen forms, monstrous beings. This investigation has also led me to a couple of citrus producers, Cayetano Bravo Oliver who has an orchard in Spain and shares with me the appreciation for mutated fruit. He has agreed to send me a small box to make some work from. I have also met Neils Rodin, through social media, who grows rare hybrid breeds in Switzerland, and has also agreed to send me some wonderful fruits.
I am delighted about the prospect of receiving packages of otherworldly fruits through the post. Cayetano said that nature is unpredictable, so we just have to wait and see whether mutations form. Neils is happy to send me fruit in exchange for some images. I am feeling dependant on whether they actually will send me anything. I am a very impatient person. I want the fruits now. But at the same time I want to do so many things with them, they could rot before I do everything. Perhaps rather poignant, it reflects my own shelf life.
I also feel somewhat precious towards the expectant fruit. Will I do them justice? I have already thought that I will want to preserve them, like brains in a lab, to keep forever.
I have also thinking about nature, humans, technology. How we have traditionally separated them, but I am interested in their similarities. I currently trying to understand some of the writings by Donna Haraway, in particular, A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century. I especially like this quote:
A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.
She requires a lot of time to understand (for me!), but I think it would be useful to explore.
What I plan to make– Mishappenings
I want to weave in and out of digital and analogue processes, creating ‘hybrids’ through the documentation of citrus hybrids in ‘nature’, but nature created by the hand of the human. The documentation process will be intimate, experimental in the sense that I won’t know exactly what will happen, and built around affect. Works created through feeling and given to you to feel. Experiments that act as extensions of nature. I am interested in blurring the distinction between nature, human, and technology.
- Photographs: exploration of the fruit and my interaction with the different hybrid varieties.
- Need the fruits for this. What if I don’t get them? Option to visit.
- Citrus soundscapes (digital sounds in the form of physical vinyl). Sounds I want to record:
- Peeling fruit: recording the actual close up of the peel coming away from the flesh of the fruit. Experiment with these sounds.
- I can also experiment with the peel falling and landing on different surfaces.
- Eating of fruit.
- In the future (probably not now), I will want to expand the soundscape to include the picking of the fruit in an orchard. So broad a soundscape, including the sounds of cicadas and far away Spanish dialogue. Citrus falling into baskets.
- I am planning on digitally 3-D printing/documenting citrus fruit. So I want the sounds of a 3-D printer/robots making fruit.
- Digital ceramics: This is proving very tricky, but I feel important. I like the historical importance of ceramics, and how it is archaeological, and I wonder what our digital productions of today will say about us in the future. I want a robot to create citrus fruits, but may have to resort to 3-D printing and making casts. Hybrids in the sense that I may need to use both digital and traditional methods to recreate my citrus fruits. There are limitations with the robot and the powder porcelain digital ceramic technologies in CFPR.
- So far, I have visited Grymsdyke Farm about the robot printing my fruits. I have also had a good discussion with Dave Huson in CFPR. Mostly about the difficulty of what I have in mind.
- Book: I want to make a ‘proper’ book. Perhaps this book will take the place of the specimen jars, a container for the precious strange fruits. My interaction with them. I am not sure about text yet. My words would probably ruin the fruit.
There are many technical requirements needed for all of these components to come together (less so for the photographs, I know how to do that part). I am not sure if I am able to do everything that I want to do before the end of May. But I will give it a go.
I ordered a Buddha’s hand citrus fruit (the one with tentacles) from London. I have been feeling impatient, and thought that when I do a test 3-D scan, I would like the scan to be of something useful, even if it isn’t the perfect fruit, and when I say perfect, I actually mean, not perfect. Mutated. Then I should be ready and know the process. I didn’t know what I would get. Or if I would actually be sent one. Was the website a scam? My high desire for this strange fruit has created paranoia. I received email updates. It has been shipped. Paranoia was somewhat dampened. But would it be crushed and damaged by the delivery in the back of a van from London? It came quickly. It is fruit after-all. A perishable item needs to be delivered quickly. Key word: perishable. I opened the box. There was a lot of protective soft wrapping. It felt special. But I was slightly disappointed. It was a closed hand, meaning no wild citrus tentacles extending its reach. Extending out. This is the one I want. Because this is me. The weird, scary, monster citrus is me. A bit of you too. I know the photograph I want to take. And it needs tentacles.
I wanted to show Dave Hussan from CFPR the hand. I wanted his opinion about the digital process. He had concerns. I think he is a little worried about crushing my enthusiasm, but it is important to know about potential obstacles. I think I may not have explained that I am not looked for a perfect replica. I don’t mind if there are technical glitches. I actually think the technical glitch could potentially speak more about the idea of mutation and misshapen fruits. I am not sure if I am after a loop of mishap. But, I am also interested in the distinction that has been placed on nature/human/technology, and would like to blur these lines. Anyway, it was useful to talk to Dave, and he has been very generous with his time to discuss a project that has no use to him.
Another strand of this project are the field recordings I want to do of various citrus sounds. There is sound equipment that I can borrow from UWE. I had to complete an on-line induction in order to take equipment out of central loans. For the equipment most likely one would want to borrow, you are also required to take a workshop, to learn how to use the equipment properly. Unfortunately have bad timing, as there currently are no workshops now. So, what does this mean? Should I buy a recorder? I can only really afford a lower range average one with limitations. But, I will also need good headphones as well. An expensive way to try something out, and get going on recording. But sound plays such a fundamental role in my practice. Even If I haven’t made any of my own sounds yet. There will also be technical obstacles once I edit the recorded sound, and there will of course be delays in the actual producing of a record.
I am feeling anxious about the sound recordings I want to make. Of course they sound brilliant in my mind, but why would I think they would be perfect at my first attempt? This is so typical of me. I have in mind that I will create these interesting citrus sounds, have them pressed/printed onto vinyl and presto, printed sound. I suppose these delusions are an important feature of the creative process. They push you to keep going no matter how many rejections, setbacks bad ideas, lack of interest, and/or being middle of the road.
The images I photographed with my beloved Mamiya twin-lens, medium format camera, came back from the lab. I cannot remember when I last used this camera. It is brilliant. It is a machine that takes me closer to the subject. I am happy with the images as is. My plan is to do any interventions at the time of shooting, rather than digital post-production. But, we will see. I may not be able to resist. Hard to leave things alone. I wonder if this will be how I feel when I create sound works. Will I be happy with a straight recording, or will I feel the need to tinker with it after the fact.
I have set up meetings to learn how to traditionally plaster cast my citrus fruit to recreate them in porcelain. This is keeping in mind that I will be ready to go by the time my digital citrus scan can be made, if it can be made. I have to say I am delighted with the prospect of working with clay again. It is similar to photography in a way, the independent act. Solitude. Although, the clay studio is busy, not a place for solitude, but there is something about the simplicity. It feels like taking a break.
It is completely out of my comfort zone to have to rely on others for my projects, and I don’t see how this is good for me as a learning experience. It is incredibly frustrating when my time is so limited to be met with a treacle like pace. One of my meetings was cancelled today due to illness, and the other meeting, which I thought would be more of a demo, was a brief conversation about my plans. If feels like road blocks. I can see why DYI print processes that you can do at home, on your kitchen table, are actually quite liberating. No one to blame but yourself.
Finally, what a fantastic day. I really enjoyed my last minute workshop in 3-D scanning/printing. I have desperately wanted to book a time for some technician time, and was worried that my poor citron wouldn’t make it. It is the newness of machines and software applications, and the interesting aesthetic that is created in the editing process. I suppose it is that it is so novel that fuels the excitement.
Mini-print exhibition private view tonight. It had been such a hellish week leading up to the this, what I look forward to the most is having a beer with friends.
My Swiss fruits arrived. Perfectly unusual hybrid citrus. Bad timing. Too early as I have no access to get them 3-D scanned or printed, or too late for the same reason. I need to desperately keep them alive so that I can scan them before their death. How bitter sweet. Of course I am not in a privileged position to have access to some of these facilities. Note to self, get a tech job or an academic position! But who the heck will hire me, I don’t have skills, or at least the ones that seem in demand.
Received a Zoom H5 recorder for Christmas! Excellent! I wouldn’t normally want to mention my Christmas gifts, but this is related to my practice and very exciting to be at this new and interesting point. I think about sound constantly. Not only am I listening to it, but I am thinking of the layers of sound recordings I want to make for my first sound piece. Some would say that I am over thinking this. But, interestingly, in the act of making, I stop thinking. Or at least that is when things are most successful. All the thinking should happen prior. In the research around the subject.
Found out that one of my images was selected for ‘Numerology”, a Humble Arts Foundation Group Exhibition. I have submitted a few times and haven’t been selected before, so very happy to be included this time. What a great Christmas gift.
December 22-January 3
Christmas break. Read a few books. Some fiction for pleasure, but still related to research in the sense that it was about dialogue.
- Sally Rooney, Conversations with Friends (I have already read Normal People).
- The Second Body, by Daisy Hildyard
- In the Field, Cathy Lane & Angus Carlyle
- Interview about Laurie Anderson
- Still readying Donna Haraway, Cyborg Manifesto
- Started reading Feelings of Structure: Explorations in Affect.
Not a school day, but a Thursday, and I did actually go to work (my day job) for a few hours, but wishing I was at UWE.
Sent a message to a person I have been following, I Make Books. I would like him to make me a record box to contain the vinyl record I want to ‘print’ with my citrus sounds, and I will also make accompanying book/liner notes that this box should contain as well. I later thought that I could get him to make another box to hold my prints for assessment. Of course it wasn’t clear to him what exactly I want made, and he suggested we meet to discuss what I have in mind. I also sent him a drawing, which I think has helped. Will see him 22 Feb. It seems somewhat premature to get a box make for a record that I will make, before I have even done any recordings, but I need to be prepared. Everything takes longer than you hope.
Dashed quickly to ensure I could do some 3-D scanning as soon as possible. It worked. I set up an appointment. Two in fact, as I know these things take longer than you think.
Recording equipment from Jez riley French arrived! Nothing is stopping me now! Although, I do feel a little hesitant. I have something in mind, and know it will be difficult, and probably won’t sound nearly as good as what I have in my mind, but hey, the failure will no doubt keep to my project theme.
First day back. More attempts at scanning some of my citrus. It is starting to make sense why it is an expensive process when you outsource it. But, there is the attempt to teach us how to use it, and I really wonder why. Will I get the opportunity to use this kit when I am finished in a few months?
I feel irritated. Thinking too much about what other people are doing. Comparing myself. Wishing I didn’t have to work so much or have the level of responsibility I have at my job, especially when I think about how some of my classmates don’t work at all, or work at jobs that are less stressful and demanding. But my situation also allows me to make things I might not be able to do if I earned less money. And the intensity is probably more closely aligned to others working in academia who have to balance admin duties with making. But, they are at least working in the same field, which ultimately contributes to their own making. Side note: Funny that no one ever mentions how teaching and seeing the work and processes of their has an influence on their art practice.
Blast! I had an appointment to prepare my files to 3D print, and there was a scheduling problem, so I have to wait. I deplore the wait. So much waiting. We were told to have multiple things on the go for times like this. So here I am, writing.
I have just sent a quick sketch to a person who I hope can make a box to contain my record and book for the degree show. I am just setting up a meeting to meet with him in London to go over some ideas and hopefully he will be able to do this in time. I think I will also get him to bind the book that will go in this box as well, and I have also thought I could get a box made to contain my prints for assessment. I have no idea how much this will all cost!
I also need to source a company who can do a limited print run for vinyl. This could be crazy expensive too. I definitely feel like I need to get this sorted asap. I still need to sort out my sound recordings. I can hear it in my mind. A sort of composition.
I want to do a close up recording of the 3-D printer when it is printing some of my citrus. I don’t know exactly how this will sound, but it will be more of a background machine like rumbling, then I can add bits of other citrus sounds, abstracted, overtop of the mechanical sounds. Because these will be microscopic sounds, it might be difficult to make out what they are, but that is ok, it is fine with me that they are actual citrus sounds, but distorted.
Prepared files for print. The resin machine will take 11 hours to print, the Makerbot (the other older machine) takes about half the time. I need to leave them to print on their own. Seems odd to be making and not be making at the same time. Out of your hands. In a different building. Not in anyone’s hands. And you cannot give it a hand to help speed up the process. These machines do not have hands, but there was a tiny hand that had just been printed and drying from an alcohol bath.
Picked up two printed (plastic) fruits. I am not sure how I feel about them yet. They are odd. Odder than they were before (in their original natural state). I think the machines struggle to print an organic shape, especially the older of the two machines. There is something about them that make me think of the fantasy film from the 80’s The Dark Crystal. Which I haven’t thought much of since my childhood, and even then, the only aesthetic that seemed to matter at that time were the comments that I looked like a Dark Crystal character. The Dark Crystal aesthetic I am struck now, is the cave like. Drippy speleothems. But in this case, the quirks of the material are digital deposits.
The resin printed form is probably the more successful of the two. It is slightly more identifiable, but the structures/scaffolding are very appealing. They are meant to be removed, but I am not sure if I want to. I will photograph them with their supports in place, as part of the technological feature of this project. I never wanted them to be replicas, more of a digital interpretation, and that is indeed what they are.
I am getting a third one printed as I type. This time in yellow. Although, it looked more golden than yellow as it started printing the base, but it might have been hard to tell looking at it through the plastic window of the machine. It probably won’t be done by the time I need to leave, and I won’t see the finished version until next Thursday.
Picked up my third 3-D printed citrus. Interesting colour with a touch of luminosity. It was thought that the colour was garish, which sounds like I’ve hit the right tone. But, I am not sure anyone could tell that it is a fruit, or that it is an iteration of my prized Bizzaria citrus. In that sense it does keep on the mishappenings theme, but I am not sure what I think about this. On the one hand, they are what I consider to be enchantments, I feel like I want to preserve them and create precise replicas. This would lead down the road of plaster casts in porcelain (I think), to make little beautiful objects. Treating them with respect. The technicians helping me with this 3-D work referred to them as Frankenstein like monsters. I thought that was a bit harsh. Like jokes about hairless cats. Do I think of them as pets? Difficult to be objective or critical with this attachment.
I also set up studio time to do scans of some mutated fruits that are currently on their way to me from Cayetano my Spanish citrus supplier.
I do wonder if all of this citrus is too much. I mean, is ittoorepetitive. Will people become instantly bored and switched off? But how is it different from any other subject? I specifically follow people on social media who only do citrus mutations, and personally, I think wow! I realise this is rather niche, but maybe there are some of us who prefer microscopic interests. This allows me the justification to continue, because surely I cannot be the only one who will appreciate my efforts. I am hoping that when I mix the human and technology with the citrus this will make it feel a little less repetitive.
I had a tutorial which was okay, but there were a few comments about the 3D printed fruits, that made me think they were novelty items. Ha, and the candle comment. I purposely wanted to ensure the stem of the fruit was scanned in, because I thought that was a distinguishing factor of the fruit, but, it was thought to look like a candle!
Received my mutant fruits. They are lovely. I 3-D scanned some of them which was quite a challenge. Perhaps the folds of the fruit were too complicated to properly capture. The most complicated fruit has become a mutant of a mutant which I actually think might work well as my plaster cast porcelain piece. I haven’t quite worked out which fruit would be best suited to that process, as it seemed more about trying to preserve the thing rather than say anything about it. But I think processes of processes works best when exploring the idea of the hybrid.
Lovely reading recommendation by an unexpected source, Graham Dunning. Beyond unwanted sound: noise, affect and aesthetic moralism,Thompson, Marie (2017). So far, she has given the clearest definition of affect that I have found. But I have not exhausted myself trying to find all possibilities. I saw him perform almost a year ago and have followed him ever since. He makes very interesting sounds using experimental mechanical devices. He is a very technical musician. But it is still very enjoyable. I mean, there are some people who I would call a musician’s musician. They are excellent at their craft but lack feeling. But there is a lot of feeling in Graham’s sound works. He also gives a lot to the field. He teaches, has a tape label, and does a couple of radio shows where he highlights the work of other artists. His Twitter feed kills me. He is very amusing and openly expressive with his thoughts which doesn’t seem like he is self-consciously editing, like the way that too many do these days.
I have also asked his advice about getting some records pressed for the degree show. He had some excellent advice and an idea about getting a picture disk made. Basically an image sandwiched between two transparent records. This could also work well used in the presentation box I am getting made to contain the book and record.
I wrote the below text from the perspective of almost being trapped in my Mamiya twin lens camera.
Melting into a labyrinth of spherical shapes hiding unexpected tentacle like fingers, bumps, shadows and textures that one could fold themselves into for contemplation. This is not the kind of maze that you panic to exit. It is to be enjoyed. Slowly. Feeling around corners where the light is blinding leaving silhouettes of retinal burn, orange haze, sometimes red. There is a sweet and also bitter smell that holds a temperature as if the sun is still captured in the oils of this skin. Through the looking glass is not what is seen here.
Conversation about robots. I met with Helmut Hauser a researcher at the University of Bristol to discuss art and robots. Interestingly, I was introduced to Paul O’Dowd, who I remember from UWE, but he is now working on a research project at the UoB. We also had an interesting chat about his research around the drawing robot. He is not the typical science researcher, definitely someone who I would expect to find in an art setting.
This day felt pretty unbearable. Questioning everything which is normal, but I feel that this isn’t healthy, I don’t think. I am still functioning. Making. But the days have been difficult. I hope this passes quickly.
Review with tutors. Paul wasn’t there. I think it went pretty well. Both Ian and Sarah were helpful and offered some feedback to some of the questions I had. Ian had some ideas about the framing the photographs for the show. Sarah was helpful about text that I have been thinking about for the book. I have just starting collecting miscommunications and feedback about some of my written work, here are some of them:
These are not sentences
I will try to sit down with your email again and see if I can think anything out of it
Diver not driver
We have a different prose style
I meant incarnation not carnation
Turing not Turning
Or you could have asked me when you saw me
I made a few edits
Try working on making a good sentence
Your email bemused me
Why didn’t you tell me
Unpack ideas or omit them
Paragraph contains many different ideas
This is a good sentence because: a) it’s analytical; and b) it’s clear
Whew! Topic sentence v. hard to unpack; its syntax is also wonky
Commas link elements
Say why, specifically
What I would like to encourage you to do now is approach your writing with the same vigour and rigour as you bring to bear on your reading
; not ,
Think of sentence structure please
I’d like you to continue to work on your writing so as to be sure you’re conveying the ideas you are trying to
Usually better not to end with a quote
Have you got the grammar of this quotation quite right?
You can make your point non-polemically
Had a meeting with I Make Books. We are all set. He will bind a book and make me a box for my book and record, but it is really up to me to produce both the pages for the book and the record! I do feel a bit of pressure now. I am feeling a little clearer on how I see the book taking shape. Weaving in and out of thoughts and images. Exciting!
Spent some more time in the 3D print studio. I prepared the mutated mutation to resin print. 8hours, 34 minutes. I also did quick prints in blue from the Makerbot. While my Blue Citrus were printing I did a sound recording of the process. It was quite interesting. It was an agitated repetitive sound. The programme I am using for sound editing is far more than what I need, but I know of a few sound artists that use it, so I thought I should have a go. I have a lot to learn.
Now that I have started to record my own sounds and edit them, I think of how I make photographs, so the photographic process feeds into the sound making process. When I make photographs, I am thinking about sounds, and layering images as if they were notes, or a score. It is quite strange that I seek the help of both mediums when approaching the other.
I decided to do another resin print of the mutated mutation, but this time in clear resin. I will use the grey one to do a plaster cast, and then porcelain slip casts. Basically just some lumps and bumps of my 3D print. All along the process the technical staff has been concerned about the difficulty of what I am trying to do. They think I want to make perfect replicas, but I keep needing to explain that I am looking for the imperfections of the processes to keep on the mishappening theme.
I had a great discussion with Ru and Carmen today, each of us doing a show and tell. Talking about our process and where we are going next. I will miss this when we are finished.
I have also had a good start on making my book to accompany my record. I have been wondering if I should include any of the photographs of the 3D printed citrus fruits that are more documentary style. These are straight-up images, but people seem to like them. I guess in some ways it might depend on whether I include any of the 3D prints in the degree show. The thing about the photographs, they actually make the 3D objects seem more impressive, or at least it is hard to judge the scale. In actuality they are quite small, so when you see the physical object, I think it is slightly disappointing compared to the photos. I am hoping that the porcelain casts will add a bit of interest/dimension.
Met with Sarah today to discuss my book. This was very helpful. She reminded me what the book is for, and that it isn’t a catalogue.
First plaster mold for casting today. Very exciting. The ceramics studio feels like therapy. It quiets my mind. It would be good to have a little home studio. This isn’t intended to offend, but it doesn’t seem intellectual. Of course, there are very conceptual ceramic works, but somehow, in the studio it becomes basic and tactile and messy. And Rob the technician is lovely. I will miss him.
I am very distracted by words. They just started pouring into my mind when I was cycling in today. I wanted to immediately give them attention upon my arrival, but didn’t want to be antisocial with my classmates, and then had a 10am booking for plaster casting. And, I forgot about the student rep meeting this afternoon. I don’t think of these particular words as fiction. They seem to be so clear in my mind that they are almost like memories or documents. I can’t just sit down to force them out or create them, they seem to force themselves on me and create themselves.
The sound component that I am working on is very frustrating. I haven’t quite captured what I want and wonder if I ever will. The editing software is complex, more than what I need, and not intuitive. There is another one I can try, but it seems like most people use the one I am attempting to use. It seems odd to go to the effort to make it into a record when it is just mediocre. I just want the sounds to be big, abstract, and clear. A bit repetitive and drone like. I have been listening/researching a lot of sound works to help inform my decisions, but this research has no doubt contributed to my disappointment with what I have captured.
I feel like the book component of this project is getting closer. Paul might look at it today, so difficult to know what his feedback will be. And should I be getting more feedback at this stage? Will it muddle things? It needs to be sent off for printing, then binding. So many stages to everything.
I have made my plaster mold. Now I will do some casting today.
Tutorial with Paul to discuss my book. He seemed positive. I was surprised. Possibly the most positive he has ever been when viewing my work. He was curious about my process and why I make the design decisions I do. I think I give a very bad impression, or maybe bad is not the right word. But certainly not intellectual.
Tutorial with Paul, discuss exhibition. We have made a plan that I will show him everything after the Easter break. Although, I now realise that I will not have access to facilities, so this will be very difficult, to show him everything, when I still have things to make to show him. I will need to do some printing at home.
Read(ing) the following:
- Things I Don’t Want to Know, Deborah Levy. This was given to me to read because it had oranges in it.
- Then, I was given her latest book The Cost of Living. Curious to read at a time when I am second guessing and questioning everything.
- I have started the This Young Monsterby Charlie Fox. I thought this would be important to look at the monster or monstrous from a human perspective.
- I have also been dipping in and out of Alain Badiou’s Being and Event. I am especially interested in the idea of an event. Especially when it comes to sound and affect. The act/event of making sound and affect. I know there has been much research around this area, but it is just trying to hone in on the area that I am most interested in.
- I have also been looking at Gertrude Stein’sTender Buttons, and am interested in how her writing seems like a mishappening in the way her words act like they are being sprinkled out of a salt shaker onto the page. Salt because of the multifaceted nature of a crystal. And her words have so many dimensions, could be interpreted in so many different ways.
I am currently on a train to meet someone about the sound recordings I have made and for some possible help with the sound component for this project. I have recently listened to what I have recorded about a month ago. I feel almost distain for them. I do a lot of listening to sound works. For research and out of appreciation. I know what I like. Minimal, repetitive, a hum of white noise. But I also feel it is important that the sounds were once of something. I guess all sounds are generated from somewhere, but for me it is about a kind of intervention. For example, they start off as something recognisable, but then transform into something completely unknown. I am not sure why it is important that it comes from something specific first, rather than creating sounds that are ‘noise’ at the beginning. I suppose it is a bit of a process, similar to printmaking. And for this particular project I am planning on using layers to distort the original recordings.
On a side note, I have been thinking a lot about collaboration. The mixing of different ways of approach. This is not something that comes naturally to me, and it must be very tricky to find the right person, I mean, it is a type of relationship, so you need to find another artist who you are compatible with. You almost want equal measures of personality compatibility, an openness from both people, as well as the appreciation for each other’s practice and how they complement or at least their work forms a type of dialogue.
I have decided that I want to include a ladder that looks like a scaffolding ladder, but also resembles the supports for 3D printing. In this case the ladder will be a human support. I have a friend who is an artists with skills, and he has agreed to make a a ladder. I sent him a sketch and specifications and he has done it exactly, and amazingly quick! I think all of the elements that I have not actually made will be the nicest pieces in the show.
Tutorial with Paul to plan for the exhibition. I brought a selection of photographs and 3D printed objects and cast objects, and my sound work for him to see/hear. It was curious to watch him make groupings of some of the pieces. And he said the sound piece wasn’t as bad as he thought it could be. Ha ha.
The hierarchy of machines. We had a workshop today that Erwin Blok duplicating machines that can do colour separation, so in-between offset lithography and today’s risograph printing. It seemed interesting that people who identify with the handmade seemed enamoured by these machines. Perhaps there is a bit of nostalgia for machines remembered, or the novelty of something not experienced before. I am always curious about the rejection of digital machines vs mechanical ones. I personally love both. But is it purely an aesthetic preference, the end result, or is it something else? Is a digital print too perfect, glitches and all? But then we want our landscapes perfect. Our faces? Very curious.
I went off to drop off my book pages to the bookbinder/box maker. I joined a meeting he was having when I arrived with a photographer that was getting his degree show photo book bound. It was a great conversation discussing his work and plans for his photo show. I also had the opportunity to look at some other book projects that were being made, and it turned out to be an inspiring conversation.
I heard back from the bookbinder a few days after our meeting, and he noticed that my pages were not printed correctly. Therefore, in order for my images to align properly, some of my pages need to be up-side-down. It is interesting that this truly is a mishappening, but I have to say I am not completely comfortable with it. I am accepting of a mishappening in nature, by a machine, and in other people, but someone when it reflects on me, it doesn’t sit well. But, I suppose the most annoying part is the time and consideration put into each page, careful placement of each image, and the movement of text by a millimetre to make it just so. It also feels disingenuous to have a bookbinder who is careful and considerate and concerned with making beautiful pieces, bind something that is not perfect, or at least as close to perfection as possible. Very disappointing. Preparing for the degree show and final assessment seems to be managing disappointment.
I am not sure if it was the right thing or the wrong thing to tell Paul and Sarah about the mishappening that happened to my book. I thought they would embrace the misprinted pages as a true mishappening, and that it would be perfect, but they took it more seriously than I expected, and it has actually made me worry. Would anyone have actually noticed if I didn’t say anything? I actually showed the book to a colleague at work, and I didn’t mention the printing mistake, and he thought it was brilliant that some of the pages were up-side-down.
I also need to sort out plinths. And of course it seems that everyone needs plinths. Why do we need so many plinths every year? Surely, we could re-use them. They could rent them out and make money. I am not interested in making my own plinths as an exercise. I want to spend time making work. What everyone is most interested in looking at.
Of course all there are no slots available to book with the workshop technician about making plinths, and the workshops available are not on Thursdays. I have sourced a fabrication studio in Bristol, but they will cost £460 for two plinths. WOW! I cannot obviously do that. Just as I received the quote, my lovely classmate Niamh said that she will try to add my plinths to the list for the workshop that I cannot attend. Huge thank you to her. They were able to make them. Not exactly the original dimensions I was hoping for, but I don’t care, it saved £460!
The turntable that I ordered that had a built in headphone jack, will not be ready for another month. Despite being on the website, looking like it was available, it isn’t. So the shop is trying to help solve the problem for me. They have a headphone amp that I can use. They had to order a power supply, but they were sent the wrong one. The new one for some reason didn’t seem to work when I brought it home, so I had to take it back, and they ordered another power supply. Apparently when they received that one, and tried it, the unit started smoking. So they ordered another headphone amp for me. It worked well in the shop when I tried it, but when I listen to it at home it has some distortion. I have researched this, and this can be a type of feedback that is picked up by other electronics in the space. I am hoping with all of my hope, that it will work OK at the Arnolfini. This has been incredibly stressful trying to sort this out.
My presentation box and bound book arrived from I Make Books. It is beautiful. Wow, he has done an amazing job. Actually, it is too nice for what I have made. Perhaps over the top. But regardless, wonderful!
Had to pick up my framed work today. They look so small and insignificant. I wonder if I have made the wrong decisions. I won’t entirely know until they are in the gallery space. But I am feeling very worried about it. I also had to get the turntable, drill, headphone amp PAT tested today. And an emergency risk assessment done so that I could borrow headphones. All of these last minute things.
I am feeling very nervous about installing my work and having people come and view it. I just don’t know how it is going to look together, and don’t want to disappoint and/or be an embarrassment. Ideally one could create an entire mock exhibition prior to the real one. Painting the walls, all the same specifications. This seems like such a gamble. I can see why white walls and traditionally framed works is a safe solution. I mean, it isn’t a bad choice at all, but it is easier to presume how it will look. There is a risk here. It could look good, and it makes sense the reasoning as to why I have made all of the decisions I have, but theory and practice often don’t align. VERY worried. Just a few more days. It is unbearable. I have had an intense headache, no doubt, in response to this anxiety and anticipation of a potential disaster. Why do we do this?