art's duty to illustrate and represent
i started this project by thinking and planning in line with an agenda:
what is the purpose of creating work? what can i use to give my work a purpose?
my slump in motivation and conviction to my work has actually given me a new direction and energy for unit three. with the world's inequalities and tribulations seemingly out of any single person's control, its hard to argue for any inherent point to the work we're creating. the show at the end of the course gives me an oportunity and privalige show soemthing. my first unit project is going to explore the ideas of representation, and artists part in thepeople they represent.
i spent a lot of this first day reading around arts interaction withclass. i think i need to start making some stuff so i know which direction i want tyo explore in rather than getting distracted or not focusing enough.
talk about writing down quotes from around
to start this project i decided to focus on illustration in the most literal way i cold think of: writing then drawing. i wanted something naturalistic so i started recording and noting down things i 've over heard, starting with Walthamstow , leytonstone, kings cross and inside csm. i love drawing and have always found it satisying. realistic drawings have a sort of glamorising effect on the person they focus on, no matter how flattering or otherwise the portrayal. this linked in nicely with some of the poetic and political writings ive been looking at. poetic writing romanticises the words, so usuing overheard quotes as the start, i had a tool to romaniticise the somewhat mundane. issues of class usually are linked to problems with vlaue and superiority. romanticising places value, so this sis something id like to look at more in the future.
Viisting the national portrait gallery on a whim reminded why i started doing art in the first place. not so much the prestige or artisty or the people in the gallery, who mainly jus kinda pissed me off, but fact it was full of people. famous and infamous and unknown alike, the galleryt is filled which people who have spent time with a nother person, paying attentoin to them in a wayt non-art students and artists dont get to do. understanding and appreciating people in this way is one of tyhe things i had forgotten about art. learning about the history of the painter is usually as interested as whos painted, such as the william boywer painting in my research. i overheard a staff member talking to a group of primary school children about the painting, saying 'a portrait is a conversatiopn'(between the sitter and artist)'. i loved that.
after visiting the national portrait gallery i started researching working class artists and griuos. the ashinton griup struck me alsp because of their links to arthurs scargil and the struggle of the miners, they were the so-called 'pitmen painters. ' they reflect4ed what they saw around thm sleves so in started to photograph and film what was around me. starting taking phtotsin caf i started to realise that i was myelf dping exactly what hadpissed me off about thepainters in the npg and csm in the first place. i was focusing on my own persepctive, i felt it was starting to come accross as a little victimising, even playing a sort of 'working class hero' card. i pissed myself off by doing this so started to look into different ways of representing which include what you are familiar with, but not yourself. Julian German's phtotgrpahic re -imaginations of the oringinal apiantings made me think of looking back at my unit one film project, and re-using and re-imagining found footage to convey a similar message.
below is the film from my unit 1re-edit fine art practice project and below that wasthe start of a film i was working on for this project, using simliar techniques.what ithink made the old video succefull and nthe new one less succesfull was th music and use of sound mainly, i stopped making thew dsecond film half way through, as it was kindapissing me off.
Post nathen eastwood exhib at the sid motion gallery i decided to take some similar style candids of stangers around me:
although i liked some of the outcomes of this, i found i was missing something; painting pays a massive amount of effort and attention to the subject, and arguably therefore places a lot of value. i had kept the focus of his work, but lost the quiet glamour of oil painting. this ended up meaning the works became more vouyeristic than anything: i didnt know these people, didn't have their permission, and they wouldnt benefit from the photos being presented. in the past ive found paint an exclusive medium because of its ties tothe upper classes adn establishment, but i now see that these ties can be soewhat maniuplated in the hands of the painter. Eastwoods works are welll painted, so an instictive admiration for his skill is already part of the way we receprocate his compositionb. who he chooses to paint are also admired. this has led me to search to creaate works which are, in a quiet and simple way, good.
it was satisfying and kinda inspiring to read the Nicholas Middlelton article. reading about art usually ends up seeming incredibly turgid and, in parts, tediously bombastic. his appendix was completely facts and figures. it was refreshing to read some impiricism! it made his paintng seem a lot less superficial in its aims and direction, and his voice came accross a lot stronger. a good deal of this is because he simply accepted as much as he coulddo, using the space he has as a skilled artist and using to its full capacityi. it reminded me of Tolstoys 'what is art?' in its functialism.
his work is a great example of what im trying, and partially failing tio do in this project - taking the facts and figures around injustice and iinequality, and translating them into somethiong that people will value. the reason im failing in this so far i think is becuase i cant accept that nothing i make is going to be completely functional, there is alwasy goin to be an element of indulgent enjoyment, of luxary and superficiallity. i rly need to gett over this lolbecause its actually preventing my work from moving forward at all.
the part that faces play in vouyerism intrigyes me. i started to explore the question:
can you represent someone if you dont show their face?
can you represent without being part of what your representing?
i read an excelent article by Aron Kelly, where he quoted Irviine welsh saying 'when talking about voyeurism you really need to talk about the voyeurism in yourself first'. i love this quote and it really stuck a chord with the problmes im having in this project. i then designed a photo project to try and get rid of my vouyterism, or at elast the vouyerism of the person viewing the photogrpah (which in its nature, and when looking at representation, is very dificitlu)
i used a disposable camera becasue they have a creppy siletn quality, and i wanted the photos not to be selceterd from the screen out of 10 possibel shots, but created and printed in a much less conscious way. i also lost my camera and my phone camera run put of space ahaha. the results were a lot of dud photos which werte missing theperson i was trying to take a photo of completely. however, some of the photos i did get were gold. a lot were headless, because i was taking the ohtots of strangers from my hip pointing outwards. the glossy printed photos had an intrisntic value, so the strangers i photogrpahes around islington and waltham forest sorta turned into characters.
taking photos, drawing, and filming strangers has a kinda excitement to it. sometimes feeling like a spy, often seeing yourself as a characture of a person, seeing the 'true beauty' in people and the mundane. ive realsied that its probably too dificult to not patronise because of this internal dialogue. seeing thwe people im phtogrpahing as 'subjects' rather than real human beings is a dangerous mentality. no matter how a part of my area and stuff i feel, im still an art student.
i have decided to look more at peoplea littlecloser to home, specificallypeople whoc live in my home, or at least visit a lot.
researching hans eijkelboom, whise photogrpahy really like and admire, has made me thinka bout the way subjects are treated in photography and artin genrral.he is collecting people, by things the have in common, but most of the things they have in common have some tie to class. men in neon pink shirts, furry hooded women, legins and denim skirts so on. then i came to the collection of men in suits without suit jackets. perosnal favourite and i take it all back.
looking at my sister more has been really intersting. shes sorta mouthy and stropey, a very typical teenager. she thinks all my art is weird (which, tbh, it kinda is) and its dificult to get her not to pose for a photo. below are some experiments. taken when she gets home from school over the last two days.
LOVE RICHARD BILLINGHAMMMMMMM
love the rays a laugh series, partially think its because i have a mate called ray and a cat that gets thrown about a bit. the colors remind me of the colors i used in my disposables series, the saturation editing something i plan to look into. the short film is natural and un-self conscious. i experimented with editing films of my sister in a similar way in termsof casual ness, but found it dificult to edit witrhout putting my own narative ontothe footage, when really beth was jus wanting to eat her chinese:
i showed my sister and she showed her firendds. i asked her to tell em whta they though of it, and found their replies kinda jokes:
i really liked the way the subtitles looked with the film, but as the small feedback sample shows, its a pretty weird film. i have a feeling 'artsy' is pretty much the same as pretentious. and not undrestanding somehitng about you, thats set in a pretentioos tone, is pretty patronising, even if it s made by your older sitset. the photos i took of her i think were more succesfull even though they took less effort than the film. photos have a natural honesty, and although they hold my persepctive, my part in the work is reduced, theyare less manipultated and contorted. this makes me think about the chanel four news clip talking about benefits street and tyhe many programmes so called 'poverty porn'. these programmes compared to some of the works by photographers i have been looking at signicantly maniplate the view for the audience, directing attention in certain ways. i have com to the conclusion that iprefer photos for this reason.
ive lost a bit of the poetry in my work, seeing as im not even using the film subikes. i am still writting, but its slightly more eparate to my work because i find i always overcomplicate when i include too much of my own voice in my worlk. ive descovered a lot of th e things i write about are pretty small , which contrasts with the things i try to tackle in art (ie representation) however the outcomes are kinda similar. for example. i wrote a poem recently about how my sister shair smells, a tiny thing. ive also take photos of my sisters hair, as part of a series in this project. the outcomes are similar, but they have differnet goals in mmind, i think i need to simplify my work to make it more like my poetry (ugh hsate saying my poetry i sound like such a dickhed) and less ambitious, think this might create a larger volume of succefull pieces.
lil somethin i wrote recent, trying to mimick the way my photography is familiar but my drawings are a bit twisted, and how nothing comes out how id like, but also how i piss myself off whenever my work ends up being too autobiogrpahical. my sisters uaully a good starting point as shes neer enough for my not to feel vouyeristic or encrouching butb didtant enough, jus about, that i dontfeel its aself gratifying or victimising nover romanticesd version of stuff. i think you cant ell ive been reading a lot of bokowski ahahah
me and my sister, we share a bed
under a lamp light from a night sky
that we ignored for a long time
now there's a lump sum of dusk and dawn
carried in every yawn
in every morning after every sleepless night
then one day it rained so long
the house fell down
and now we live underground
at least the flooding cleared the bedroom
and stole the popcorn ceilings
so the light bulbs turned plant bulbs and bloomed above our heads
but its still so fucking hard to get out of bed
the more poetry i read the more glad i become of having left it out of the main focus for my final project. there are a lot of better poets abuot, (Kieran in Fine Art Practice for example) and more to the point i feel im not yet capable of not sounding incredibly pretentious when i wrtie. as this is about representiation, i want to avoid pretentioun quite stromngly, i dont want to alienate anyone, and i dont want people to feel superior for understanding my work at all, i want it to be simple n good but not patronising. i experimented with taking some more poetic photos, and i really liked how they turned out. even if i dont use the poems directy in my final piece its been nice to ecperiment with the more direct illustation side or writing and art/photography.
some film outcomes from the illustrating poems experiments:
ive tried editing some of the experiments int short films more like the one i did of Beth (responding more directly to Billinghams work) but cant make them stick or sit right. they either come out too much like a music video, because i edit them too tight to the music, or too ambigous /indirect. ive put some screen shots from thefilm works into my sketchbook to try and develop them more inline witht the photographic pieces. although i enjoy the slightly grainy efffect the screen shots have, they become to abstract and contorted which is not ideal considering my project is a bout reoresentaton...
its strange that ive only just proeprly noticed the profound efffect that natioanl identity has had on this porject. looking at the Shane Medows film 'this is england',Don Mcculins 'In england', 'our friends in the north', the union marches , protests and miners strikes has given my work a grouding in something quite close to home, something i really care about. this raises issues, as ive found out, because im so self conscious and shit scared of misrepresentation i often over think simple challenges and tasks. but im glad ive found some themes that i keep instinctively coming back to, as it reasures me theres at least something a lttle geuine about my work. in the future i hope to look at photographing and documenting more around me, which i thinkn is developed mainly through confidence. however, for this project i think im going to chose two photographs to put up, keeping it simple and clear, with nice quality but not too precious prints i feel this could be the most effective at conveying my ideas.
reading books v ciggaretts by orwell and revolutionary photography by christiana Lodder has given me another reason to use photographic prints in my final piece. paintings or even films have an aspect of unattainability. this reminded me of why i set out this project in theway i did at the start. photographic prints do hold value , especially when well presented, but they can be both purchased, stored adn displayed easily. this makes theme excellent for the final show pieces.
tbh i spent today looking through my phtots and trying to work out whhich would look best printed, and which would work wel together. toyed with hte idea of printing and enlarging some of the disposables but couldnt really work out how to do it and keep the same quality to the colours of print.
prep for show and putting work up
when lookign at representation, i have found there are three main parts: who you are representing, who you are representing them to, and who you actually are. this course has made me aware of who are is usually representing to, and how this tends to be a sort of 'rich kids playgound'. it is dificult to exlude the voyeurism this naturally creates from our work, and ive ofeten found it dificult not ti focus on my own perpectives. through putting my work up today and over the end of last week ive learn that there are some parts of this that i simple needed to get over in oredr to created valued and effective work. after all, whats the point in having a morally perfected message if you are unable to communicate it ( cough corbyn cough).