Sunday, 28 February 2010

On Being Overwhelmed!

I've just spent most of the day and all of tonight working on the current project and the only thing I feel I have achieved is another long list of artists, books, websites and videos I need to find out about.

There seems to be so much to research - everywhere I turn there's more information to take in. Every conversation seems to lead to another artist being recommended and added to my ever increasing list. And it's not just this project, it's everywhere, it's everything!

I'm trying hard not to become overwhelmed but between Fine Art and H & C, I'm starting to feel like I'm walking in ever deepening mud.

Better get the waders out incase the wellies are too short!! :-)

Indian Raga - Painting with Music

This Friday was a lovely end to the week with a concert organised as part of the 4 Minds project some of the 2nd years are doing with Ranjana. It fitted in with the lecture she gave us regarding the current project so I went along. I didn't know what to expect, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The concert was by Prakriti Dutta and it was a small affair in the Mac lecture theatre. Prakriti sang and explained the tradition of the Raga - traditional indian singing and music. She explained that it was a melodic scale using 12 notes and likened it to having 12 colours with which to paint a canvas. Her voice was beautiful - rich and smooth - and she sang with such emotion.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Proof and evidence!

When I started this project I went through the list of artists we were given and looked at each one. I marked the ones I was interested in looking at again and now it's time to go through and provide the evidence in my sketchbooks.

Why didn't I just do it at the time?! Now it seems like an even bigger job to go back and find the images that caught my attention in the first place (not all were book marked) and to also remember what it actually was that attracted me to them!

Lesson learned!

As the bard would say ...

O wad some Power the giftie gie us,
To see oursels as ithers see us!

Kerrpow! Thwam!

It's funny how everything I'm learning really changes my view of things - even comic book characters!

A couple of years ago I watched Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr), the first movie of the Marvel comic book hero. I thought it was great - very funny in places, loved his humour and just silly escapism really. Watched it again last night and still felt the same about it.

Then this morning it hits me - the body as a site of cultural representation!!! Iron Man, Batman, Spiderman etc. all the superheros (and baddies) all fit into this project! They are all respectable men during the day and superhero on demand - divided souls, split identities, struggling to find meaning etc, etc, etc! But in the interview feature of the dvd, Stan Lee points out that when he wrote Iron Man, it was the height of the Cold War and the character was created as a defender of all things American at that time; his two arch enemies are The Crimson Dynamo (Russia) and The Mandarin (China).

These characters were used to reach an audience who would not otherwise be reading newspapers or taking an interest in the politics of the time. The body (the character in his rubber suit - ok, his titanium plated, something coated whatever ...) representing the powers of good against the powers of bad (cultural representation of the time).

Ok, I know it's a bit of a leap ... but, if you can leap tall buildings in a single bound...!!!

The Body etc.... the story so far

Had my group feedback session on Monday afternoon to discuss my research and ideas for the project so far. It was good. Had been a bit worried about my lack of information and not being too sure about my approach, but it went well. Richard was very supportive and Ranjana was complimentary about the work I had done so far. She is a walking encyclopedia of artists and information about this topic! Richard even admitted to me later that he finds her vast knowledge a little intimidating at times!

Based on feedback I've had from Lesley and the responses on Monday, I'm quite happy that my approach is fine. Just need to get on with it now!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Body Project - Lectures this week

This week started with 2 lectures offering other tutor's interpretation of the project and both were really enjoyable.

Lesley's approach was more about the physical aspects, about the way some artists have approached the topic in a more physical way. It was very interesting and a different view point than I had considered, however, there was one film clip that she showed that has stayed with me since. The piece was Sam Taylor-Wood's "Brontosaurus" (1995).

As the artsist explains:
First I filmed a man who was dancing naked in his bedroom, to the rhythm of very fast techno-jungle music. Then I took away the music and projected the film in slow motion. While I was filming, his movements became almost alien, they made no sense, he went through all these motions and they ended up seeming clumsy. In slow-motion they became very beautiful, but totally ungainly. Then I changed the music and introduced Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, a melancholy excerpt … it became a eulogy to living, even if the person seems to be doing a dance of death, because it is so fragile, delicate and vulnerable.
I was mesmerised by this film; I'm still haunted by the image of the dancing man. Perhaps it's the music that makes it so poignant; but the description of it as "a dance of death" is almost how I felt about it. The man is athletic but thin, so when he dances his ribs are accentuated and his hair is very short, almost shaven. I felt like I was watching the dance of a concentration camp victim. When he opens his arms, it's almost religious, and when he dances balletically, it's almost pitiful.

The second lecture was by Richard (Walker) and was about man's approach to animals and culture. He talked about various aspects susch as the Egyptian god Anubis who had the head of a Jackal, Pan (part man, part goat), the Centaurs (half horse, half man) etc. He also talked about how we use animals as metaphors - "he behanved like an animal". It was extremely interesting and he asked us to consider how we now interact with animals ie. we no longer have an authentic relationship with them, we are detached from them and animals are now approached more as a spectacle eg. zoos, or how we treat them as pets and in some cases they are treated as babies! (And yes, I talk to my cat, but I treat her as a grown woman/cat - most of the time!!)

Richard did end his talk on a rather amusing note and that was a video of Marcus Coates performing a shamanistic ritual in a Liverpool high rise! He had the full deer skin outfit on, although I did note the hooves were held on to his wrist by elastic bands!! I'm not sure how serious or how tongue in cheek it was meant to be, but it was hard not to laugh (although to be fair, most of the funny parts were the ladies reactions to Marcus's performance!)

Marcus Coates, Journey to the Lower World (2004)

Sunday, 21 February 2010

The Body as a Site etc - My Interpretation

I'm rather confused by this project - I can't work out whether it is about the actual body, or the culture? Is it about culture in general or is it meant to be about us personally and our own culture?

Ranjana's lecture was very good and there were several things she said that I was particularly interested in: Where do we fit in? What does it mean to be an individual? Who are we? What do I have to do with anyone else? She also pointed out that Yoruba culture recognises that we are pulled in many ways as individuals: by society, by families, our self etc.

This made me think of one of the exercises that I use on one of my training courses, one which asks people to identify the many roles they play in life: mother, wife, daughter, grand-daughter, aunt, friend, lover, employee, boss etc, etc. It points out that these are all roles we play and that each one of them comes with their own priorities, responsibilities, stresses etc. All of this takes me back to my idea for the 'work' part of this project which is that we are all a sum of these various parts.

Back to the research though!

I've looked at the majority of the artists on the list and I'm struggling to understand why some of them are on it - I think it's perhaps going back to the difficulty I'm having with understanding this brief.

However, I've decided that I should stick to what interests me particularly and that is the discovery of self - of who we are. It follows on nicely from the 'Layers of Loss' project and is something that I have been working on since my separation 4 years ago - trying to find out who I am as an individual instead of one half of a long-term partnership!

The Body as a Site of Cultural Representation - What??

Having been ill on the day this project was introduced and ill for the following week too, I am really unsure what the project is actually about!

It doesn't help that the assignment part of the project was over one week of my being ill and then reading week which is my working week. Once again I find myself in the position of really being behind with the work that's needed for this course. It's not that I haven't researched the topic, but I don't have the necessary materials to meet the brief.

I can't help but think that maybe I'm in the right place at the wrong time. I need to work to be able to afford to be here, but I can't keep up with the work that's needed for the course. I know that being ill for 4 weeks doesn't help, but perhaps I need to really consider whether I have bitten off more than I can chew? Perhaps I'm just homesick and feeling sorry for myself?!

But in the meantime, I'll try to pull together the research I have done, see where it gets me.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Mid-Term Review

Had my feedback session with Lesley and Jake last week and despite having very little to show for this term, I think it went fine. It was good to be able to talk to Lesley about my 'ah ha/oh oh' moments, rather than exchange emails.

But I think I talk too much!! Back to the H & C disaster!

One big question that came out of the discussion was what I was going to do now about the Layer of Loss project and the answer is, I have have no idea. I don't know where it needs to go. I don't know if it needs to go anywhere?!

It seems to lead/flow into the next project which is 'the body as a site of cultural representation' but I'm not quite sure how yet. Part of the problem I think, will be my interpretation of the brief.

I was particularly interested in Ranjana's lecture last week when she talked about: Where do we fit in? What does it mean to be an individual, who are we, who is this being and what do I have to do with everyone else? I struck a chord with some of the books I was reading after I was separated (The Spiritual Tourist, The Power of Now etc) - trying to find myself as an individual after being in a partnership for so long. This is the emphasis I would like to take but reading through the course materials, it doesn't seem very clear whether I'm on the right track or not.

I was thinking along the lines of 'the sum of all parts'. Taking the time to look at all my old snapshots (as suggested by Jake) I realise that I am a result of all these people, places, events etc (this is nothing new, I have always known this). I am a sum of all these parts. Where I have been, who I have been friends with, loved etc. has led me to being who I am and where I am, now, at this moment. The more I write about it, the more I feel this is the right approach for now.

H & C - The Disaster

I knew I shouldn't have gone, I should have waited, but the thought of my presentation in H & C was weighing heavily on my mind. I was already a couple of weeks late because I had been ill, so I thought it would be best just to go and get it over with. A definite mistake!!

Not only had I written it when I was ill, I'd also tried to edit it when I was worse! Presenting it in the state I was in was always going to be risky. It had to be one of the worst presentations I have ever made! I do this for a job, how could I have gotten it so wrong! Easy answer would be that I went into trainer mode - not presenter mode. Off I went!

But not much I can do about it now, damage done. I'm pretty embarrassed about it and my natural inclination is to avoid all future classes but that's not going to happen. I'm going to just accept that these things happen, the grades don't carry over into second year, get over it and get on with it ... till next year's presentation!!!

(Maybe I could wear a mask?)

On Being 'Well'

It's been a while but it's time to get back into the swing of things as they say. Just wish it was easier than said! It's been nearly 5 weeks since I actually felt truly well, but at least I'm not 'ill' anymore - no more hot or cold sweats, sleepless nights, wracking coughs etc (well, still a bit) but oh boy, am I tired!

I knew it would take time to get over this completely, but every time I sit down, I just want to sleep. I can't really be bothered to get dressed or go anywhere and getting my head back into work and study seems to be just one challenge too far. However, it must be done, and today's the day as they say.

There just seems to be so much to catch up on - maybe I should have a seat and a cup of tea before I start ...!!!

Sunday, 7 February 2010


In Buddhism, bodhisattvas are people who have completed endless lives on the wheel of reincarnation and suffering, and now having achieved enlightenment, are entitled to step off the wheel for the bliss of nirvana. But a bodhisattva, out of compassion, renounces nirvana in order to save others and returns to the wheel to work for the enlightenment of all.

Right now, I needed this:

Bodhisattva on Metro


Friday, 5 February 2010

The Concept Co-operative...

a support group for the newly enlightened (and those in the process or currently in denial).

Membership - 2 so far!!!

Those precious dreams we had,

Should never be forgotten,
But every girl has to grow
Up to be a woman,
It's just that for a second
I recognised
The girl I used to know

G Clark

Thursday, 4 February 2010

What now?

My recent 'ah ha' moment has left me with a problem: where do I go from here?

Unfortunately, the immediate answer to that has been straight back to bed!! I made it in at the beginning of the week for workshops and to deliver a truly abysmal presentation at H & C (ironic - bad time management last term and bad presentation skills this term!!!), but have been really ill for rest of week. I haven't been this ill since 1994 - guess I had it coming!

Needless to say this has been extremely frustrating.

However, my problem is what do I do now? I'm really stuck with where to take this project now. I still feel that as 'Another Layer of Loss' it has potential, I just don't know what.

I feel like I need to join a support group for the newly enlightened!!!