Reflection / whats next

Im so happy with how this project has turned out. I think the fact I was inspired by my dissertation meant I had a deep contextual understanding of my themes and concepts to help me achieve a high quality final outcome.

This whole project was an exploration of the self and identity and I feel like ive learnt so much about myself and how i present my self in day to day life. I am a performer but when it comes to presentations about my own work I become extremely anxious as its like presenting a piece of your soul to the world when exhibiting art. At the end the of my second year presentation I was very emotional and Pip told me to make art about this difficulty and what ever maybe holding me back.

This project has tackled this issue, examining my own insecurities. During a presentation I feel naked and vulnerable. I realised after this project that its probably because to present my work is to present my true self and to do this i must remove the metaphorical masks I wear everyday. I am an actor, I like to perform and the clothes I wear or the humour I use day to day to keep up appearances must be removed for these short periods. Before this was one of the scariest thoughts imaginable for me but now I realise that my true self is not me with out a mask but is a collection of many different masks. I may feel vulnerable during the presentation but now I know that the invisible masks I wear each day do not cover but help me express my true self.

Whats Next?

This project has made me consider the relationship between masks and puppetry and so id like to explore this relationship further with future projects. My idea is to make a puppet and its puppeteer wearing the same mask to dehumanize the puppeteer and blur the lines between human and puppet to create a surreal illusion for audiences.

I have been inspired by bunraku style puppets that aim to mimic human movements accuratly. for example Tchaïka, de Belova & Iacobelli by Natacha Belova puppets, masks & costumes performance that breaks the forth wall between puppet and pupeteer.

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https://www.facebook.com/belovaworkshop/?eid=ARC5EYYaxqdNtahVL0LmLj3I-q8epNBybqt6DQ0I7NoDDDKBl5xeruKmURTc8kNkM-C4mh-yLSvr6Uykhttps://www.facebook.com/belovaworkshop/videos/378080263088051/?v=378080263088051

 

Design for internal structure

The head works pretty well without any internal structure but if it was to be worn for a full performance holding the head in the correct position would become tiring and would also restrict the range of the movements of the wearer.

So now the head is finished I have designed this simple structure that would attach an old hiking backpack with a wooden inlay to piping paper mached to the inside of the mask under the arm holes.

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Here is the design:

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I made a similar structure for the dragon puppet in first year which was much heavier than this head so im confident this would work well. That design was essentially the same only the copper pipe attached to the back pack was going straight up instead of infront.

I was also donated this already recycled wadding made from old plastic bottles that I would use to pad the wood inside the back pack to make it comfortable for the wearer.

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To cover the back I would just add more hair tassels to make the back of the puppeteer blend in with the rest of the mask and complete the illusion.

 

 

Social Media Presence

With everything that has happened due to Covid-19 i changed my plan and decided to produce an interactive video series in place of live physically interactive performances. So as well as my website:

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https://rhiannayates.com/

I have made a youtube channel to share my videos on:

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https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTgvfJ-2wZaY_SF7lWyszFQ?view_as=subscriber

To help promote these videos and show some process I have made an Instagram account:

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https://www.instagram.com/rhiannayates_masks/

Poems for my artists book

I wanted to use a excerpt from my dream blog in my book to help explain where the design originates.

” I traveled to thousands and thousands of other alternative dimensions some very similar to ours but each time I opened that black door way I stepped further and further away from my original reality. Each one slightly stranger, slightly more horrible than the last. One where body shoppers were the biggest risk of all and everyone was always scared they would have a leg or an organ cut from them like someone snatching your phone from your hand. People would buy and sell body parts like phone upgrades and the poor would be sold to the rich. People who could afford for such modifications looked like beautiful yet grotesque patchwork monsters.”

(link to dream blog : https://mysecretentrancetowonderland.wordpress.com/)

I went back to what I wrote at the time and it was a little dark, the project has grown from this seed of an idea but isn’t represented by the original text anymore. So I decided to write a poem called patchwork people to help define the design concept a little better:

Patchwork people

I dreamt of another world, 

where everyone was patched together,

Stitched and sewn with only the best,

To keep themselves  beautiful forever.

 

What a sight stood before me,

I looked at it and thought it sickly,

“Don’t change yourself!” I gasped,

But then, who was I to judge so quickly?

 

Thoughts and feeling on my face,

Like words of a story,

Tell the tale to of who I am

To those  that sit before me. 

 

I admit , I exaggerate truths,

And skip boring parts of the journey

Just to please those watching,

and see what it could earn me. 

 

We don’t just tell our story,

We act every inch of this task,

And what else is an actor,

But a man in a mask?

 

Smiles and frowns stitched together,

To help us tell this sermon,

So in essence aren’t we each 

Just a patchwork person?

This poem explains the style and design choices I made whilst referencing Erving Goffman’s front stage/ back stage sociology theory. Explaining whimsically how we we are all actors on the world stage wearing masks everyday.

Im really happy with this poem but it does not explain all of the concept so I wrote another called liberation to encapsulate the rest:

Liberation

Like a prisoner and his jailer,

Shackled by audiences watchful eyes,

I don’t  dance or lark about,

For fear others may scrutinise 

 

My every action big or small,

I feel is judged so I curb my fun,

Hiding in the shadows Like the ant,

through the looking glass is scared of the sun.

 

The lack of liberation,

To me is really such a pity,

So I went to find the cure,

And found its simply Anonymity!

 

The mask is a healer,

imbued with a shamans wisdom,

saved from normality

masked we have limitless freedom!

 

Great power is held in such a simple object,

like spark to flame or a witches incantation,

we evoke the main quality of the mask,

the power of transformation.

 

Disguise IS liberation.

With no expressions we move with intensity,

a visual language

to portray true identity.

This poem explains how the mask liberates us from normal societal constraints and allows us to act with out fear of reprehension. I also made reference to the original esoteric and ritualistic origins of the mask as each and every mask has this healing and liberating quality when worn. I also reference Edward Gordon Craig’s universal visual language and how the masks power of transformation along with this allows us to become the truest form of ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

Business card

I used a template from the internet to work from then started changing the colours and motifs to fit my practice. I used the colour palette from my current exposure project to guide this, using my Instagram essentially as a mood board.

Here is my first draft:

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I really like the back and the colours look good together but the front isn’t quite right. So I changed it to add a photo of my full body mask:

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I like this a lot better but I didn’t like being able to see the buildings in the background so I edited the photo here was the result:

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I then decided this wasn’t quite right still so heres the final version:

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Making final Video series

Due to lock down I wasn’t able to video the mask being interacted with at the community event as I had planned. So I instead amped up the surrealism and made a very different type of video as a response to isolation. The concept of the project evaluates how we wear a series of social masks every day and so exhibiting them through these dreamlike videos of a day in isolation seemed fitting.

To plan my videos i made this  storyboard for each one showing how i was to include both the large mask and the small ones in each video. This is something I found improved the quality of my videos massively as I had a clear vision and so filming ran smoothly and was more time efficient. 

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The scenes with the smaller masks juxtaposed with the more surreal larger mask scenes reflects our external and internal differences. When observed we wear social masks and act in accordance but inside we let our imaginations run wild. 

Making costume and set for videos

For my videos I wanted to have an entirly upcycled costume so I made a two piece out fit from an umbrella I found:

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I cut the top off  and then cut that in half for the bra pieces

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I gathered these at the wide ends to make the bra shape and sewed them onto left over ribbon from the wig (found in textiles’ scrap bin before lockdown)

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Then I put a draw string in the bottom half of the umbrella to make the skirt and complete the look.

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For the set I used any lovely bits of fabric I could get my hands on (i had lots of lovely blues and silvers left over from the dragon in first year). I used bedsheets towels scarves etc. Im also very lucky I live with creative people who had green carpet and foam flowers kicking around after past projects. So I strung all these up on the fence in my garden to create a dream like backdrop for my videos.

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Unfortunately it was extremely windy whilst trying to film and it all kept falling down and so the continuity is a little off but its defiantly better than having a broken fence as a back drop. Another drawback of using an outdoor set in Wales was it started raining before I had a chance to take any high quality photos in front of it and so we had to rush to take it down. 

Editing and Stop motion

I did all the editing on the power director app on my phone and used an app called stop motion studio for the stop motion segmants. I had really gotten on with power director from the bowl project and so wanted to continue with it. I took much of the inspiration for how I edited them from some surrealist films of the 1920’s, such as ENTR’ACTE  by René Clair (1924) , Man Ray: The Starfish (1928) and Un Chien Andalou (1929) by  Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. They featured lots of experimental video techniques, such as overlaying videos using mirror images and the juxtaposition of imagery so these are all features I included when editing. 

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 I had a little trouble when trying to export videos from the stop motion app it would only let me upload them to youtube where I had to redownload them to import into power director this was a little time consuming but i got there in the end.

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‘Choose your own isolation’ interactive concept:

The video series was designed to provide virtual interactivity in place of physical. It simulates the sensation of chancing upon a public performance by replicating this in the digital realm. Bringing the spontaneity of a live performance to homes of many. I felt it was imperative to as closely simulate a real performance as possible, because I wouldn’t be able to tour my performance this summer any more. I did this by making the series a “choose your own reality” adventure. To do this I put links to the next options at the end of each video to make a continuous narrative throughout. As well as this I wanted very much to provide positive content during such difficult times so making it an interactive activity would provide entertainment to all those confined at home. I aim to always spread whimsy and fun with every performance and so in times like these it seemed essential to try still spread these feelings from a distance.

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Link to my youtube channel and full series-

Round 1, starting video:

round 2 options:

vs

Round 3 options:

vs

Round 4 :

vs

My brother produces his own music and so I featured his music in the videos. I wanted to have upbeat music on the videos so I could chop and change between clips quickly, the added advantage of this is that its royalty free. I am really happy with the final outcome and i thoroughly enjoyed the editing process, Its made me reflect on the context of my practice and has made me think how I could use these video performances and editing skills to potentially make music videos in the future broadening my potential career horizons.

 

Stop motion

I have been greatly inspired by the surrealist movies of the 1920’s such as Entr’acte René Clair (1924). As these films were examples of early cinema they used simple techniques such as stop motion. Therefore I was keen to use it in my videos. I did some research on stop motion techniques and applications.

i found this and other recommendations for an app called stop motion studio, so i downloaded it and started doing some tests.

I decided to do some tests with my masks to understand how it works here is the result:

in this my tripod obviously wasn’t set up right and so drifted during the shoot, something ill have to be weary of next time. I like the effect and I understand the app now so will try experimenting with more complicated movements with household objects:

With this simple sequence I put tape inside the bottom of the toilet rolls to keep them in place while i took the photos and i’m really pleased with the effect! so much so I think i will put this sequence in one of the final videos.

Online residency – Arcade Campfa

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First draft:

Anonymity is a curious thing, with a dazzling effect. We don a mask and become invincible. We cover our face but naturally compensate with exaggerated gestures, communicating meaning through movement. I designed a triptych of short whimsical, interactive videos embodying this concept. The videos centrer around a character which conveys emotions via three masks and one full body mask with moving mouth and eyes. Each is brightly coloured and made from upcycled materials inspiring movement physically and ecologically. The project depends on the physicality of the actor to convey intent visually not verbally. I have designed the puppet head to be animated by the actors movements creating an innovative and fresh style of performance. At the end of the first video a simple choice will be offered to the audience, a healthy snack or junk food? The choice they click on will take them to the corresponding video of the surreal outcome. This project explores the effect a mask can have on the wearer. The mask conceals our physical identity, but masks aren’t deception, nor are they a normal truth. Instead they point to a surreal truth like the truth we find in dreams that tell us something about our deepest feelings and philosophical interpretations. Masks give us a similar truth that the images in dreams do. I’ve used this theory as inspiration using imagery from my own dreams for the designs of this project, as an inward exploration of my subconscious. This project delves into this ability of the mask to explore our inner selves  and unapologetically, outwardly express true identity.

This is good but is too much about the concept not enough explanation of the submission idea.

Final draft:

Anonymity is a curious thing, with a dazzling effect. We don a mask and become invincible. We cover our face but naturally compensate with exaggerated gestures, communicating meaning through movement. I designed a triptych of short whimsical, interactive videos embodying this concept. The videos centre around a character which conveys emotions via three masks and one full body mask with moving mouth and eyes. Each is brightly coloured and made from up-cycled materials inspiring movement physically and ecologically. The project depends on the physicality of the actor to convey intent visually not verbally. I have designed the puppet head to be animated by the actors movements creating an innovative and fresh style of performance. At the end of the first video a simple choice will be offered to the audience, a healthy snack or junk food? The choice they click on will take them to the corresponding video of the surreal outcome. I have chosen to make the video “choose your own adventure” style to make the video virtually interactive in place of physical interaction. This project aims to spread positivity during isolation. Alone this project would be limited to my personal social media reach, Arcade Campfa’s network would enhance the project and allow for a wider audience to be enriched by the project. 

Along with this I will send a pdf portfolio, a link to my Instagram for this project and my creative CV.

I had to edit the profile on my cv from what was originally written for a puppetry residency to an online submission.

Before :

I specialise in making wearable art and performing objects. Festivals and events are my passion and the focus for my art. My aim is to always engage and excite my audiences with my performance-based showcases. I thrive whilst working with mixed mediums in creative and innovative ways to produce dazzling performances. I have experience in making large scale puppets for festival performances which was extremely inspiring and has sparked my interest in puppetry no end. So far, my specific knowledge in puppetry building is self-taught. It is my ambition to combine my expert skills in the repurposing of discarded materials into up-cycled art, with professional standard puppetry making and performance techniques; to bring the message of sustainability to the masses through the whimsical and technically spectacular medium of puppetry and performance

after:

I specialise in making wearable art and performing objects. Festivals and events are my passion and the focus for my art. My aim is to always engage and excite my audiences with my performance-based showcases. I thrive whilst working with mixed mediums in creative and innovative ways to produce dazzling performances. To accompany my performances I make videos to engage audiences of many platforms. It is my ambition to combine my skills in the repurposing of discarded materials into up-cycled art, with these video editing skills, to bring the message of sustainability to the masses through the whimsical and surreal spectacular medium of masks, puppetry and performance

https://arcade-campfa.org/

Copy of sent email:

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Final images of finished full body mask

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Here is some final images of the finished full body mask!!

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she works well situated on my bed when the light hits my sun catcher

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Here ive played around with using the smaller masks on the larger ones for an even more surreal picture. The mouth can be pushed out from the inside to make it appear to be sticking its tongue out. This is an important feature for the actual performances as it can throw up the rubbish in its mouth into a bin and be left with a funny face. This is practical  as the puppeteer doesn’t have to carry lots of rubbish and put strain on themselves and the mask. It also adds another activity to do during the performances and adds to the humour element.

Making the mouth

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I took more Velcro from the tents to attache the mouth to the jaw. I used fabric from the red ten and a piece of foam from the window of another to give the mouth structure.

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the tape here is marking where the velcro needs to line up underneath to match the jaw

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to make the bag i cross stitched it into shape

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I then sewed a piece of elastic to top so it can be worn like an apron over the wearers neck to keep it up and give the mouth depth.

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