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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Large scale mask construction

After I had done enough layers of paper mache all over the head for it the hold its shape I did a layer of gum tape over it all to give extra strength.

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I added extra layers of gum tape around the the forehead motif and any weak points to ensure it was robust.

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Here is the finished layer. I marked out in gum tape a better eye shape.

After this I i started sculpting a better shape on the cheeks with paper mach

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I continued this technique and smoothed out the rest of the shape.

 

The Fetch Theatre Company

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I found this company ‘The Fetch’ that I think I may have fallen a little in love with. They specialise in puppetry and masks! Also the artistic director Purvin’s work has similar ideals to my current project and my own interests.

My current project is 100% the embodiment of these words. The ability to talk to all with visual performances and no speech. They offer residency opportunities and so I will be applying for one over the summer.

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Inspiring designer

FRANCESC SERRA VILA – MOLECULES

Molecules is an exploration of an ever-changing shape that reflects nomadism and the capacity of human beings for adaptation and dialogue with the environment.

Three dancers give form to an organism that travels through a building and the public space, and that it is in constant transformation: it breathes, expands and compresses; occasionally it splits and comes together. A sense of disorientation and loss of references is reinforced by a soundscape coming from the mass: the sound creates a three dimensional effect that moves around the space and the audience.

We perform in non-theatrical places that become temporal art spaces; intruding into an everyday space, we break its routine and invite passers-by to experience it differently.”

https://stagingplaces.co.uk/designers/francesc-serra-vila/

 

Cirque Du Sole application

For my first professional practice application I have applied as a Cirque Du Soul ambassador. Their roles range from earning commission on tickets or online advertising to decor and build work for their events. The past two years I have performed at their festival in the summer with different performances and so I wanted to apply to their club events in the hope that I could get some paid work before the summer. The previous performances have been zero commission but we got about 12 festival tickets comped per performance. My hope is that by applying for work with an events company I already have some experience with, will advertise me as an asset to their events. Hopefully if I manage to get some paid work before their festival this summer our walkabout act might be eligible for funding.

 

Surrealism

Surrealism Characteristics

  • Automatic writing – write whatever comes to your mind without stopping or structuring your thoughts. eg:

    Tristan Tzara, “Volt” (1915)

    The inclined towers the oblique skies
    The cars descending into the void of roads
    The creatures along the country lanes
    Branches covered with hospitable virtues
    With leaf-shaped birds at their crowns
    You walk but another walks in your footsteps
    Distilling her spite through fragments of memory and math
    Enveloped by a robe almost mute the clotted sound of capitals

    The seething city dense both with proud cries and lights
    Overflows the saucepan of its eyelids
    Tears flow away in streams of wretched population
    Over the sterile plain towards the smooth flesh the lava
    Of shadowy mountains the apocalyptic temptations
    Lost in the landscape of a memory and a darkened rose
    I roam the narrow streets around you
    While you too roam different wider streets
    Round something other

  • Juxtaposition – put together crazy things that we wouldn’t normally associate with one another.

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  • Association – the connections that we make between different thoughts, ideas, or images.

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  • Irrational – The Surrealists thought that Western society placed too much emphasis on rationality. The problem with rationality, according to them, is that there is a whole realm of experience that exists outside of the rational mind. After all, we often behave in irrational ways, don’t we? The Surrealists felt that the irrational is a big part of our identity as human beings, and it’s also a big part of how we understand and see the world.

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  • The unconscious – the Surrealists were interested in digging beneath the layers of our conscious experience just as they were interested in digging beneath the layers of our rational experience. They believed that the unconscious mind is central to our identity. In order to truly understand who we are, we need to understand what’s going on in that dark place in our mind.

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  •  Dream and Fantasy – Dreams and fantasies are often the means through which our unconscious selves, and our irrational drives, find expression.

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  • Revolution – According to the Surrealists, a society that was capable of so much destruction was definitely corrupted. And so part of their mission was to revolutionise society. They felt that Surrealist art, was capable of giving people new perspectives both on themselves and on their society. Surrealist art was a way to escape the old, corrupted ways of thought (which had led to so much dang destruction) and to enter new ways of thought: ways of thought that would be more productive, rather than destructive. The Surrealists also felt that the social, cultural, political, and economic frameworks that had led to the war had to be challenged.

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https://www.shmoop.com/study-guides/literary-movements/surrealism/characteristics#irrational-characteristic

 

pin board of Surrealism inspiration:

Dissertation PDP

I started out this year lost and unhopeful about my academic abilities. I had decided the question I’d chosen to write about in my proposal was not correct, I was confused by the brief I had burdened myself with and didn’t know what to change my area of study to. I was so afraid of the monumental academic task that stood before me that I decided to join the Erasmus programme and run away to Germany for a year to give me time to contemplate my options. Now a year later I’m sitting here reflecting upon my finished thesis, that I am extremely proud of, as a more complete artist, designer and maker. 

The primary difficulty I faced was figuring out a topic that I felt was valid and an academically sound area of discussion for a dissertation. I was feeling a similar way about my practical work at the time. I felt my work although visually and aesthetically pleasing lacked substance. Now I have completed this quest for knowledge, I have realised this is exactly what my work was lacking. I needed to have a deeper understanding of the wider areas of study to help inform my own practice. Through research I have learnt about art movements and manifestos that mimic the trends that were already, organically appearing in my own work. One such example I have been deeply moved and inspired by, is the work of a man called Edward Gordon Craig and his contribution to the New Stagecraft movement in the early years of the 20th century. He reinvented theatre embracing abstract imagery and surrealist themes in place of naturalism as a form of universal communication with his audiences. He did all this primarily through the mask as a theatrical tool. He also aimed to bring the traditional esoteric and carnivalesque uses of the mask to conventional theatre which is a key theme my work embraces. This ability of the mask to remove our primary form of communication (facial expression and speech) and still allow the wearer to convey any message is fascinating and exhilarating when you consider the possibilities this tool holds within. This concept that his work is centred around is the defining characteristic that spiked my interest in masks in the first place. Now I have learnt of a movement that has already explored these ideas I can see a clearer path as to where my own practice belongs within the world. I have also found a deeper context for my work by researching broader areas of study, like philosophy or sociology. I have found myself referencing Plato or Descartes throughout my work, although these ideas take far longer to evaluate and apply to my own thoughts than standard anthropological investigations, I found them monumentally more stimulating and inspiring. Also by learning about the history of the mask through different traditional or innovative cultural uses I have a deeper comprehensive knowledge of the mask’s practical journey through time which has inspired and positively affected my relationship with masks.  Now, in the future, I can evaluate others’ art and my own with a more profound understanding. What was once an almost superficial love and fascination has become a deeper understanding of the symbolic value of the mask. Its relationship with the wearer and the audience has always interested me but now I finally understand how to harness the power of this vehicle of transformation. It’s as if the world was once merely a sketch upon a flat plain, now through broader understanding it’s been elevated and I am viewing the world in 3D for the first time. 

The highest hurdle on my journey so far was tackling my dyslexia when partaking in academia.  Engaging with academic texts has always been difficult for me, having a full dyslexia test helped me understand fully my own areas of weakness. I have learnt more about myself and this has informed my learning approach during this research project. Understanding my dyslexia on a deeper level has aided the organisation of my research using colour coding and keys keep from being swallowed by information. As well as allowing me to allocate more time to my specific areas of difficulty. This further knowledge about myself coupled with finding the right question to study cured my self doubt. I also received such positive feedback from my formative assessment that faith in my own ability was restored. Due to the fact I had less time to write my formative assignment, as I hadn’t decided on a question until late in the game I told myself it would be more valuable for me to have feedback on a shorter piece of well edited writing than trying to produce 3000 words in a very short space of time. This taught me that I work better by setting myself daily goals to stop me from being crippled by the anxiety of the enormous task ahead of me. I implemented these rules upon myself for the rest of the assignment and they worked with great effect. The task of the dissertation went from looming dread to inspirational investigation simply by breaking up my work load. 

Looking forward, for any future academic writing I need to do, I will be marking out these personal interim deadlines; starting out weekly at the beginning of a project during the initial research phase, then setting daily word targets once sufficient background research is achieved. Regarding my practical work, I won’t turn purely to visual inspiration when designing and making future projects. I will utilise the wealth of knowledge in the world from broader areas of study to help inform my practice. I hope this will help validate my work further and help me place my work into the correct context on the artistic spectrum. 

The Uncanny

For my dissertation I am looking at masks and the effect they can have on the wearer but for this project I want to focus more on the effect a mask can have on the viewer. I want the mask to play with your mind and create an optical illusion effect. But more than that I want it to effect the viewer on a deeper level to highlight the significance a mask can have. Naturally even a simple mask can have an uncanny effect on a viewer and so I want to play on this for this project.

ART TERM – The Tate’s definition

THE UNCANNY

A concept in art associated with psychologist Sigmund Freud which describes a strange and anxious feeling sometimes created by familiar objects in unfamiliar contexts

 

Ive done some research on the uncanny to inform this project:

Fantastic Literature: A Critical Reader, By David Sandner:

The uncanny 1919, sigmund freud (1856-1939)

https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=-AR9FEgly9wC&oi=fnd&pg=PA74&dq=freud+the+uncanny&ots=AeKwCij0LY&sig=igF4LLA8CB51AL-3BoLJh_UxvkY#v=onepage&q=freud%20the%20uncanny&f=false

Freud’s theory of the uncanny is a latter-day theory of the sublime, of the imagination overwhelmed in a moment of bafflement but also exhilaration.” pg 74

What is the uncanny?  The uncanny is recognising something as familiar in a strange way, through a psychological experience. It sometimes describes objects or circumstances where a familiar thing or event is encountered in an unsettling, creepy or taboo context. To freud the uncanny was all about locating bizarreness within the ordinary. 

roboticist Masahiro Mori‘s uncanny valley :

He was a robotics professor at the institute of technology, he anticipated how people would react to human like appearance and gestures of robots. Specifically he thought that entially people would sympathise with the robots but this would quickly shift to loathing or repulsion when the robots failed to convincingly convey a human likeness. 

The original Uncanny Valley graph by Masahiro Mori

Figure 1. The graph depicts the uncanny valley, the proposed relation between the human likeness of an entity and the perceiver’s affinity for it.”

“owing to great advances in fabrication technology, we cannot distinguish at a glance a prosthetic hand from a real one. …One might say that the prosthetic hand has achieved a degree of resemblance to the human form, perhaps on a par with false teeth. However, when we realize the hand, which at first site looked real, is in fact artificial, we experience an eerie sensation….When this happens, we lose our sense of affinity, and the hand becomes uncanny

The effect of movement:

The original Uncanny Valley Moving Still graph by Masahiro Mori

When objects resemble human likeness our affinity or dislike for the object is plotted on the uncanny vally chart. But when movement is incorporated the once fondness or dislike for the object tends to change. When the objects move the steepness of the uncanny valley increases.

“Since negative effects of movement are apparent even with a prosthetic hand, a whole robot would magnify the creepiness.”

“Movement-related effects could be observed at the 1970 World Exposition in Osaka, Japan. Plans for the event had prompted the construction of robots with some highly sophisticated designs. For example, one robot had 29 pairs of artificial muscles in the face (the same number as a human being) to make it smile in a humanlike fashion. According to the designer, a smile is a dynamic sequence of facial deformations, and the speed of the deformations is crucial. When the speed is cut in half in an attempt to make the robot bring up a smile more slowly, instead of looking happy, its expression turns creepy. This shows how, because of a variation in movement, something that has come to appear very close to human—like a robot, puppet, or prosthetic hand—could easily tumble down into the uncanny valley.”

I think this descent explains the secret lying deep beneath the uncanny valley. Why were we equipped with this eerie sensation? Is it essential for human beings? I have not yet considered these questions deeply, but I have no doubt it is an integral part of our instinct for self-preservation.The sense of eeriness is probably a form of instinct that protects us from proximal, rather than distal, sources of danger. Proximal sources of danger are corpses, members of different species, and other entities we can closely approach.Distal sources of danger include windstorms and floods.

https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/the-uncanny-valley

The extent of human likeness/ hyper realism that would come from the mask i plan to make would create this eerie uncanny effect on the viewer. Although the wearer is human the mask strips their humanity and replaces it with a artificial version of themselves. by doing this and replicating the features in a hyper realistic fashion i’m creating an uncanny mask but only the wearers face is used.

Uncanny artists:

I went to Rotterdam and visited the Kunsthal museum, there we saw a hyper realism exhibition where I found a lot of inspiration for this project. Although not its aim the sculptures created an extremely Uncanny effect. One particular piece by Evan Penny particularly inspired me due to its digital influence.

Panagiota: Conversation #1, Variation 2 2008 silicone /pigment /hair /aluminium

A major theme in Evan Penny’s work is the ways in which perception has changed in the age of digital media. Our imagination he States is informed and limited by the particularities of the technology we have available to us. We have become so accustomed to the visual tricks that are employed to manipulate two-dimensional images that we are no longer aware of them.  By inverting the process and rendering these images once again three-dimensional as sculptures penny exposes the illusion and the deformity of the human image in the media age. This sculpture is based on photographic shot showing a conversation between penny and his friend and fellow artist Panagiota Dimos. rather than a series of snapshots we see a single image with the camera lens has remained open while the film spools from side to side.  the beaches are elongated unreadable transformed into a flow of colour and line in time and space. and experience penny than characteristically meticulously sculpt into solid matter. his work does not look like Panagiota but can be viewed as a more precise depiction of their conversation just like a conversation actually is focused and distracted clear and obscure.”

Hans Bellmer
The Doll (La Poupée), 1936
From Art Blart

Hans Bellmer The Doll (La Poupée), 1936

Bruce Nauman, Rinde Head/Andrew Head (Plug to Nose), on Wax Base, 1989. Froehlich Collection, Stuttgart. © ARS, NY and DACS, London, 2006.

Bruce Nauman, Rinde Head/Andrew Head (Plug to Nose) on Wax Base, 1989, wax

Salvador Dalí, Buste de Femme Rétrospectif 1977 edition of 1933 work, bronze

Untitled #261, 1992

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #261, 1992