Sunday, 30 October 2011

Follow the Rules!

I've been pretty stuck with research for this video project, but I had a really good tutorial with M last week (I think he's an astute guy, with lots of good energy) and as he put it, I need to stop researching and just shoot some 'stuff'!

I think part of my problem is that I'm so aware of my own pressures of time, that I have an idea of what I want to do and therefore only work towards that particular outcome; of course, the down side to that is that you miss other opportunities on the way - like so many other parts of life.  Research is something that's easy for me, I can do it after a day's training, I can do it on the train to work etc, much easier than getting out with the camera (it always seems to be raining!!)

So I realised that I've fallen foul of some more of Mr Cage's rules, nos. 7 and 8 to be precise:

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work.  If you work it will lead to something.  It's the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don't try to create and analyze at the same time.  They're different processes.

Wise man that Mr Cage!!

Keep Calm and Carry on!

At least that's what I keep telling myself!  Unfortunately, it's easier said than done when I seem to have been living with an undercurrent of panic and fear for the past couple of weeks.  A wise friend told me recently, that being at university is like having a layer peeled off the world and you begin to see everything brighter, and I know they are right, it's just that I'm kind of being blinded by that brightness right now!

Don't get me wrong, these first few weeks of 3rd year have been amazing, but they have also passed like a whirlwind; I haven't had the chance to really get to grips with everything I'm learning.  And there's so much of it, coming at me from various directions, that I'm afraid I'm missing something really important; something hovering just out of reach that would really mean something if I could just catch hold of it!

But despite the fact that I feel I can't be far from reaching my poor brain's limitations, I know I'm not; if I just following the advice given out in 1939 at the beginning of WWII, I'll boost my morale and be able to continue with my own wee war against knowledge overload!!! :)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Laurie Anderson

I'm finding it quite difficult to research video art; it's not that I can't find it, it's that there's so much of it -I'm finding it quite hard to find things I'm interested in or that I feel are relevant.

I am however, really enjoying discovering more about Laurie Anderson. Until now, I only knew her from her 1981 hit 'O Superman' which I loved at the time (was reminded of it recently as it was used in the Louise Bourgeois film: "The Spider, The Mistress and The Tangerine"), but I think some of her work is really interesting - she's such an excellent story teller.  I think the thing I'm most drawn to in a lot of her work, is that the soundtrack doesn't always match what we see - her voice is often distorted in some way.



I'm particularly interested in making a piece of film which either has an 'opposite' or unexpected soundtrack and it's this which I'm finding hard to find.  Any suggestions?

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Video Art

Whenever I've talked about starting 3rd year, and in particular the 1st term, I've always said that I'm really not that interested in video, or making video art.  I certainly enjoy going to the cinema and my appreciation of cinematography has increased as I have learned more about art and photography, but I've never really fancied trying my hand at making a video art.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to realise that in recent years, every time I've gone to a contemporary art exhibition, the thing I've enjoyed the most, seems to have been the video piece!  So here's a quick run down of the ones which had the most impact on me (in no particular order):

Sam Taylor-Wood - "Brontosaurus"

Will I ever stop talking about this?! Just last night I showed it to my American friend Z, who immediately associated it to the New York gay scene with which she is more familiar than me - obviously!  This then sparked a discussion about drag queens and feminism - so many layers to this piece of work!!

Willie Doherty - "Ghost Story"

An unending walk and a haunting script, I thought this was a really intense piece of work.

Pipilotti Rist - "Sip My Ocean"

This is the only Pipilotti Rist piece I've seen in real life and the scale and colours were just so mesmerising.

Duncan Campbell - "Bernadette"

Old enough to know of Bernadette Devlin, but not to actually remember that much about her, Campbell's film is a documentary meets fiction portrait of the young, Irish dissident and political activist.

Elizabeth Price - "User Group Disco"

Fantastic imagery and an excellent, specially commissioned sound track made this a really powerful piece for me.

Johan Grimonprez - "Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y"

Definitely one of the best films I've seen.  Again it's sound track added to the power of the images about hijacking of airplanes - a must see.

Christain Marclay - "The Clock"

Although you know that it's a serious of film clips, it's so cleverly put together that you are really drawn into it and I found myself wanting to know what happens next! Wish I could have seen more of this.

Paul McCarthy - "cisuM fo dnuoS ehT/The Sound of Music"

It's quite disconcerting, but at the same time strangely addictive to watch such a family favourite upside down and played backwards.  Hard to stop watching!

Artur Zmijewski - "80064"

This one has stuck with me mainly because I was really unhappy with the contents - a definite question of ethics in art.

And a couple others:

Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani - "Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway"
Douglas Gordon - "24 Hour Psycho" and "To and Fro"

and a couple I can't remember the names or artists of! One is a double projection one side of which is a man running towards you and the other is the view of him running away from you - is this another Douglas Gordon? And the other I saw at Tramway a couple of years ago and I've lost the name of the artist: it was a haunting black and white film based on the death of an actor from Aids and included words from a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.  I  anyone reads this and can help me identify these 2 films, I'd be extremely grateful!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

This Blog is Cancelled ...

... due to brain overload!!  At least that's what it felt like by the end of Thursday last week; thought I'd finally discovered the limit to which my mind could be stretched!

Continuing to follow Mr Cage's advice ("Come or go to everything.  Always go to classes.") I decided to go to the Design lecture first thing and the Learning Support session last thing; the lecture was interesting and I'm glad I went, the support session was great and extremely useful.  I've done ok with my essays so far, but we're on the lead up to dissertation year and I figure I should take all the help I can get in preparation for it!

It was the bit in-between that did the serious stretching!  The guest speaker was Ron Broglio from Arizona State University, discussing "Art, Ethics and the Animal Other".  It was a really interesting lecture, and one that I hadn't really thought about given that I prefer not to have anything with a heartbeat in my images!  He talked about which side of the fence you are regarding the use of animals in art, about what are the limits, and who gets to decide.  He presented several examples of art involving animals - some acceptable, some not acceptable (to my measure of 'ethical') and certainly raised a lot of interesting points and questions which were then carried over into the workshop straight after.

I was a wee bit worried about this workshop as it was being led by a tutor who can sometimes go over my head, but he was great.   In our small group we discussed whether there were any ethical questions which arose from our own individual practice, and whether our work responds to any ethical, social, political, etc issues.  We also discussed whether we passively reflect a situation or actively create one; we generally felt that none of us were far enough into our practices to be able to consciously make that choice, but it was certainly lots of food for thought.  We continued to discuss the question of ethics for example, is it that your work is ethical, or does your work question the ethics of others, and is art the space outside ethics?  Considering the work of Marco Evaristti we discussed where the line is between art and ethics/legality; if it's within a gallery space, is the artist above the law or above society?  Bearing in mind the principle of 'cause and consequence', if for every piece of art there is a consequence, is the artist to be held responsible and/or accountable?

Anyway, you get the general idea - big topic, lots of really interesting discussion, limited time to process it before on to the next session!

I came to GSA to become a different person - by the end of this 3rd year, I'm going to be unrecognisable, even to myself!!!


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Is John Carey right ...

...when he states in his book 'What Good are the Arts?" that in his opinion, literature is the greatest of all the art forms?  He argues that, amongst other things, only literature can create such an impact as to effect a change on a reader.

Quite a controversial book it seems; I read it recently and wasn't convinced he's right.  Some people are enraptured by a piece of music, overawed by a sculpture, or deeply moved by a painting - I cried the first time I saw Ansel Adams' "Oak Tree, Snowstorm" I was so overcome by its (unexpected) intimacy and beauty.


And having just returned from seeing Lars von Trier's latest movie 'Melancholia' at the film theatre this evening, I'm even less convinced. I understand Carey's argument; I am a great lover of books (and the power of books), but I think there are also films which can create a 'shift/change' in your mind, your perception, your attitude etc; that can have just as much of an impact as a piece of literature.

There were aspects of the film which I wasn't so keen on, but without doubt it was visually astounding - cinematography at its best, put together with a soundtrack that left me (and several others in the theatre) stunned.

Of course, that's only my opinion!



Kirsten Dunst in '
Melancholia'


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A Space of My Own

One particularly nice thing about reaching 3rd year is getting my own studio space.  I'm sharing with C, S and eventually R when he comes back from exchange, it's interconnected to three other studio spaces, and it's lovely!

One of the biggest issues for me with 2nd year was the studio space, or lack of it.  Not having enough space to sit and study, to display your work, and the constant to-ing and fro-ing of other students using the space as a meeting area and kitchen, meant that I always went back to my flat and studied on my own.  This reduced my interaction with the others, which often meant I felt isolated and on the periphery of things.  Now I feel very much part of things and the group

So far it's been nice and quiet, and although I worry that this won't always be the case, it feels great to be able to go back to it after classes etc and just sit and write up notes, blog, and so on.  Need to make it a bit more homely, but that will come with time no doubt.

My studio space :)



A, B, C ...

The presentations for the rest of the year group took place this morning - again really good to see what everyone has done/is doing.

A has a particularly interesting concept - the female A to Z.  She has already worked on F (for Female) and W (for Wanton) - unusual choices of words.  I think the alphabet would be different for each woman, probably depending upon where they are in their life; I would probably have gone for Fatigue and Work, but that's probably more to do with my lifestyle than being a woman! Perhaps I would have A for Aging and W for Wisdom - the two seem to go together -  but I'm certain of my L and M!!

Will need to ponder over the rest of my alphabet.


Monday, 3 October 2011

And so it begins!

3rd year that is!  I can't believe how quickly time has flown - but then I was warned that it would go by in a flash!

I was a little worried about this year; was expecting one tutor and with very short notice, this was changed to another.  Needless to say this was a little unsettling - not because one was better than the other, but that I knew a little more about what to expect with the tutor from last year.  So this year we have M, and if things continue as they have started, we are in for an interesting and dynamic year.  I like his enthusiasm and apparent commitment to us and to the course;  I'm really looking forward to working with him.

Our year group has changed of course - some have gone on exchange, some have joined us on exchange - but it is as great a bunch as ever.  It's so good to be back among them again.  This morning we had short presentations of our work and I was really interested in some of the work by the new students.

One in particular combined new photography with traditional processes  - cyanotype and van dyke - which I thought was very exciting.  M is planning to run alternative processes this year and hopefully they will go ahead as planned (I was very disappointed that they were cancelled last year).  Being interested in the 'craft' of making photographs, I would really love to be able to do something like this (must find a link to his stuff if I can!).  I thought it was particularly interesting in light of P being at GSA in the last few years and getting the feedback that his work, and his interest in the older black and white photographers, was too 'nostalgic'.  A's work proves that you can still create contemporary work whilst embracing traditional techniques, thus avoiding such criticism.