Field year 3: Encounter (PDP)

 

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In Illustration they don’t appreciate exhibitions in the same way as other courses do. The whole idea is that the work we do is not the type one would see in a gallery, so there is no emphasis on shows, and that makes complete sense. As illustrators, this isn’t something we have to worry about, while our friends in Fine Art actually get assessed on it. Since first year a few of us have felt this certain discontent with how for two years we’ve seen amazing work exhibited by our friends while all we had was our portfolios, project books and desks. Personally, and I know this is true not just for me, I believed that if we had exhibitions at the end of first and second year, it would not only have been good experience but also would have helped us have at least some basis for this year’s ‘Encounter’ brief.

The most confusing part of the whole thing was constantly being reminded that we should not think of it as an exhibition (because it’s not what illustrators do), but we should focus on our work and think of how it sits in the world and how we want it to be encountered… that’s all fine, but at the end of the day what happened was that we were building spaces and putting up an exhibition. The continuous refusal to refer to it as such added to the constant level of stress throughout the year along with one other thing.

Groups. Since the start of the year, we were told to divide into small groups according to what our work was about, so when we put up the show at the end of the year, people would be looking at a collection of works with the same thematic. Instant red light goes up in my mind, how come we are the only course that’s not exhibiting everyone’s work together? Ignored the red light and tried to make sense out of the situation but it was only worsening. First with realising that I’d have to be into a group named ‘Myth and Fairy tales’, even though my project wasn’t meant to be perceived as a project on fables but a project on scientific truths based on mythology. When it turned out to be only me and one other person in that group we were told to just group with everyone who’s uncertain or hasn’t decided and so our odd-one-out group barely had any relation whatsoever between everyone’s works. We managed to find connections in the end although the very idea of having to consider how our work comes together and speaks as a whole was adding so much unnecessary stress, I was this close to leaving it all.

And then there was the lectures on how to put up a show, which, to be fair, I completely understood, though I believe both the lecturer and most of my course mates were misinterpreting the situation. Rita Cachao was teaching us by giving examples of different shows and how they work together, but the very idea is, that the work is collected or created for a specific show with a specific purpose, whereas each of us had been developing their own project of choice. Most people in the lectures were misinterpreting her efforts, thinking that now we have to change our work because it all has to go together. At that point the lectures were cut off and everyone felt even more frustrated because of the uncertainty – are we exhibiting together or are we not? What was the point to all the groups in the end?

One thing we had to do a month or two ago was fill out a form about technical requirements and describe the type of work we’d be exhibiting. After having stressed and talked to tutors about my installation plans and needing a large, open, free space, time and time again, and after handing that form in, you can imagine my surprise and frustration when I was allocated the furthest corner in the tightest maze of a space, which by the way turned out to also be where the door to the product design storage room was. Having that on my mind, being told that it could change when it obviously wasn’t going to (and it didn’t) and in the end being told I shouldn’t be stressing about it was just drop after drop until the cup was full and I no longer cared about how my work was going to be encountered. Nothing went according to my plan and in the end I had to rethink the whole setup just to make sure there is enough room for my work to be observed and for people to be able to go into the space right next to mine without getting caught in my pieces and messing everything up… all was fine in the end, I don’t have my hopes too high, knowing how much better it could have been had I got the type of space I asked for.

Building the actual walls and boxes actually turned out to be more fun than I thought, and it felt like a good way to connect with everyone and do something together, as a team, although some people didn’t show up and that ended up delaying us. Altogether it was a good experience that could have been so much better had it been addressed differently.

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Field / overall reflection

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Experiment 2 (part of my Rorchach Experiment book, inspired by Painting Performance)

I was beautifully surprised to get to choose from so many interesting Field options this year. Even though the ones I chose were both short 5-week projects, I got to experience an artistic cleansing of sorts, an opportunity to see my ideas, process and artwork in the context of two incredibly different practices, both of which I was already quite interested in. Throughout ‘Painting Performance’ and ‘Gorillas in the Roses’ I went through several drastic changes of the scale on which I was working on, the materials, and the very process and its pace. And dealing with all that, as well as my Subject work, I started delving deeper and deeper into the mysteries of how my own mind works. The different kinds of artistic freedom of expression the two options presented were what led to the inevitable influence in my way of thinking and my artwork ever since. I found it incredibly exciting to think of both practices as illustrative, and clearly intertwined. They both now seem to be vital parts of my repertoire as an artist, mostly because of their incredibly clear methods of interpretation – the understanding of meaning through the traces of the intrinsic connections between mind, movement and material.

During Painting Performance, we were introduced us and allowed to experience the history and development of performance art for ourselves, and so we started heading in our own directions within our groups – researching artists, themes and techniques more similar to our collaborative ideas and interests. As the module was all about action, the documentation aspect was very important and the final outcome was a short film based on my experience. It was interesting to practice my video editing skills and exciting to work on the outcome but the true power of this module (both Field options) for me was in the implications of deeper meanings and context to every single aspect of an artwork and the process of its creation. That proved to be the real ground for my collage outcomes in Gorillas in the Roses. No matter how chaotic and crazy my collages were becoming, they helped me find the order in the chaos and the excitement and almost godlike qualities of creation via destruction.

Out of my whole university experience since I’ve come to Cardiff, this year’s Field module has definitely been one of the most memorable experiences. In all fairness, I didn’t think I could have so much fun while learning and growing as an artist and I truly believe that the artwork I’ve created and the techniques I’ve learned will come in handy over the next months, and hopefully years. I will continue to explore my mind and its mysterious ways, and now that I have learnt about performance art and collaging, I feel like I have much more solid ground to work on – with research, technique and ideas.

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“something I can’t understand is reaching out to me, trying to tell me something” (collage part of “human nature, cosmic nature”)

Gorillas In The Roses / reflection

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GITR Zine Cover (for our zine of zine covers)

After the chaotic atmosphere, large scale and spatial freedom in first term, Gorillas in the Roses, led by James Green, seemed like a real challenge because of its contained nature. With my collaging experiments from last year to back me up, I’ve been thinking it might be interesting to learn about the true nature and history of collaging, how it fits in the greater scale of the art world. I couldn’t help but notice how different the two options were. I had to once more change my perspective on processes and materials, and it was the most exciting idea to reflect upon in my work. I’d been thinking about Nature – the general nature of things, ‘nature’ as in our environment, the nature of the world we live in, human nature, the nature of my thoughts and emotions.

Being confined to my desk space felt really strange at first but the lectures we were having soon took my mind off it. James introduced us not only to collage art and artists, but also to some of the most incredible comic book artists, examples of book art, shows and animations. The calmness and quiet of the collaging process (finding the right elements from newspapers/books/magazines, cutting them out, arranging them, and sticking them down) was what helped enforce the idea of a meditative process of visual reflection, of putting things in order and understanding them through this different perspective. While I was trying to put some specific meaning in every element of my collages I realized that what I was coming up with were perfect reflections of moods and mind states, strange combinations, that don’t really make much sense, but secretly, hold bits of a life story. Of mind states. Of Nature…

One thing I found incredibly reassuring, and liberating in a way, was that there were no restrictions, no limits, and no boundaries. We were just told to produce a body of work, to concentrate on something, and to do some collaging. That meant a great deal of experimenting and a lot of collages made on a purely random basis. And even still I kept finding meanings in the outcomes. At the start of the module James told us to each get a sketchbook for all our collages, but after the Subject projects, and the feedback from both this year and last, I was determined to create a finished outcome in book form, made from scratch, rather than just bought and filled. That is how ‘M!nd States’ and ‘Human Nature, Cosmic Nature’ initially formed as themes and ideas, and, as the module went on, as real finished pieces. But my work was also influenced by not only the artists I was encouraged to research but also my peers. Even though we were working alone and each of us in our own ways, we managed to produce more artwork than any of us thought, all while comfortably collaging in a room, chatting and listening to our favourite music. I couldn’t appreciate it more.

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Life and The Universe, as I see them in collage. (part of my “human nature, cosmic nature” book)

Painting Performance / reflection

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Our Painting Performance studio with our group’s “Klein blue experiment” piece on the wall.

Painting Performance wouldn’t come across as a useful practice for an illustrator, would it? Surprising as it sounds this module was an absolutely irreplaceable experience which helped me rediscover my artwork and process, as well as my ideas and drives as an artist.

Led by prof. André Stitt, this module was packed with information backed up by performance exercises. After learning about the history of performance art, its origins and increasing popularity throughout the years, we got to experience it ourselves, experimenting with the techniques of artists such as Yves Klein, the Gutai group, Carolee Schneeman, Hermann Nitsch and more.

As we got the chance to explore the subject more deeply within our respective groups, and of course on our own, I realised how this expressiveness that is so vital for painting performance is in fact just as vital for my own work. I started noticing my process in a much more conscious manner in the sense that I started having a much clearer idea of what I was doing with each movement when I painted, the materials, colours and shapes I used started becoming metaphors for specific ideas, the awareness of the duration and repetitiveness of the mark-making itself uncovered a meditative aspect, all of which I’d understood as an inseparable part of the process of art-making, but for the first time I was paying attention to it all, I was mentally, consciously and physically aware.

I was very lucky to be in a group of friends which allowed us to quickly come up and work on ideas we all agree with. Interestingly enough we managed to translate our differences into our work and make them work together to reflect on our interaction with each other as a process as well as the idea of the performance itself. This was all explored in our final performance, as well as the idea of interaction, the individual, the group as a higher form of synergic consciousness, the ways we influence one another, the ways we influence the world around us, the traces we leave through our lives and the intrinsic connections between all of these ideas. With the incredible idea to do it all with the sounds of space as a background we managed to bring it all to life, to reality, for the short space of time we had. The relief, calmness and content that I experienced every time, after finishing each session, had never been more clear and powerful than at the end of our final performance.

It made me understand how important it is for artists to be able to express themselves in their art, even if it isn’t fully understood by the rest of the world. By the end of the module I’d been so deeply influenced by painting performance in my other artwork, it turned into deeper, more personal experiments with free movement, different mark-making techniques, more repetitious, time-consuming or really quick elements and ultimately an exploration of my own self and how my mind works.

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left to right: Kirstin Crocker, (me), Ethan Dodd; at our final group performance

Painting Performance / film

I feel incredibly happy about my experience in Painting Performance. It proved to be a necessary reminder of what art could do for me, for my mind, body and soul. It felt incredible to release all the emotions embodied in the paint, right there in front of everyone, and the most beautiful part of it was how incredibly exhilarating and FUN!

As an illustration student I felt strange, almost overwhelmed, but I soon realised that that kind of performance art was just a way to illustrate pure emotion and the power of influence (of any kind) on the grand scale that they deserve.

And as an artist, it was release. It was like my mind was singing ‘yes! finally! god f-ing damn it!’. I was in my element, in my Zone. I felt no pressure, and no boundaries, even though I was in a group with 3 other people. It felt great to be surrounded by so many fine artist friends.

In the end we were each asked to produce a short film based on our experience.

Space sounds from NASA – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MmWeZHsQzs
(we used it for our final performance)

artist research / Judith Braun

An interesting mark-making technique I recently stumbled upon which I found quite captivating.

Book of Nature

This book, combines in itself the idea of nature, wild and raw and beautiful as it is, with human nature, which ultimately leads to the questions of our existence and the cosmos itself.

This book is a concertina (12 x 12 cm) with several different fold-outs and two pop-ups, as well as a back spread.

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~      c   o   s   m   o   s    ~ (back spread, 12 x 48 cm)

This book goes hand to hand with M!nd States.
Note: there are more pages in the book itself which I haven’t included in this post.

M!nd States

As you sit down and you look at the collection of old magazines, comic book issues, and all kinds of scraps and papers and pictures, all about to be cut up, rearranged and stuck together on a page in a sketchbook or a random sheet of paper, you can’t help but notice a little sadness amidst your excitement and delight – sadness about the ‘destruction’ of other people’s works because of a specific detail which we use for our own imagery. This ultimately makes you think about the kind of world we live in, the nature of humanity and the beauty of balance – to create you need first destroy – like the phoenix, which dies in fire and is reborn from the ashes. Collaging becomes this act of creation via cutting, tearing and trimming.

At the same time it gives life to all the scraps and the bits and the little papers that we come across each day – the receipts, the tickets, the leaflets, the wrappers… they are given purpose when they have none and they are made interesting when they usually wouldn’t be. What is by some considered trash becomes a gold mine for those who know what to look for.

Collaging in itself can be a deeply personal experience, which opens you up to how your own mind works – how you see things and how they subconsciously rearrange themselves inside your head; the outcomes become the reflections of ideas, thoughts and mind states. Collages are weird in nature; they are nonsensical, shocking and/or simply strange but that gives you the freedom to see just how far you can go before you get completely lost and confused and disgusted by your own artwork.

The following pages of this book are filled with the outcomes of my own exploration of that uncharted mind space – trying to make some sense out of things that at a first glance make none.

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happy new year
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parallel progression
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dreaming
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daydreaming
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‘how do you feel?’
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(after) g l o w
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me (you)
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jkcddda\\:”{w6uo/4 v3q50-]r oj”dX,XC.ZS BL!!!!!!!!!!!! (frustration), Collaging + Painting Performance
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s . o . s
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~   everything   ~

~~~—– 10 / 25 artworks from the book (all images in M!nd States were selected out of a larger body of work done in the last 5 weeks  —–~~~

Final Outcomes

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My final ‘pieces’ for our Gorillas in the Roses field module this term.

I made the two books from scratch – binding, stitching and, of course, the collages inside. I decided to go all out for the formative assessment this module as soon before I got the feedback from my Subject term 1 assessment. Amelia (Johnstone) mentioned that I haven;’t really been completing my artwork to the fullest extent in a sense of – weak in context and because of that unable to finalize whatever I produce. (I’m being quite vague because the examples wouldn’t apply in this case) At the very beginning of this field project James explained to us that with collaging we don’t need to make perfect sense, in fact, we don’t need to make sense at all. What he wanted us to focus on was exploration. In a way, whatever we come up with will add to the final body of work that was expected of us by the end of the 5 weeks.

These two books are a product of the absolute chaos and order of my mind. My process was quite simple, go through all the imagery (scan it) and then cut out what I like and what I feel might be useful (without actually specifying what for). Then I try to look for more in the same way, but with that first cut-out in mind – what would fit, what would work well with that? I do that until the collected bits start interacting with each other – they start revealing narratives, settings, composition challenges and specific colour schematics which ultimately lead to the image in my mind’s eye that I need to arrange down on the page. The entire process happens almost subconsciously, the only way I am now able to talk about it is because during the first few sessions, James (Green) and Tom (Martin) were asking us about our process, do we work in any specific order or just randomly putting stuff together, and I wasn’t sure how to answer at the time, the question was just as confusing as the collaging I was doing.

What I was really doing was spiraling in and letting go, going as crazy as it suited me. I felt like I was in a completely stress-free environment, no pressure of working on a brief, no outlines our work needed to fit in, just free to do whatever. And that was like a tap of creativity pouring down a well of inspiration. I find collaging entrancing, meditative, inspiring and sometimes frightening – whatever comes out on the page, is the product of my own imagination so obviously the more twisted the outcome, the more I question my own sanity.

In that sense, these two books are a sort of revelation, a reflection of how my mind works in various states and situations. Whether sleepy or hyped up, at uni, at home, after a night out, after having lots of food, when I haven’t really eaten all day; whether sad or happy or bored… the results always fit with my mood, without fail.

Mind States, album book
size: A3 (29.7 x 42 cm)
contents: 25 collaged pages

nature, human nature, cosmic nature, concertina book
size: 12 x 12 cm
contents: single-page collages, collage spreads and pop-ups

Here you can see a short preview of what is actually inside. :)

The footage for this clip was quite plain and  I thought I might spruce it up a bit on Magisto, an app I’ve had on my phone for ages but never really used before. How it works is, you select the videos you want in your short clip, choose an effect setting, a style, and then either choose a soundtrack from the app library or add your own music from your device. Could not be more simple – you don’t do ANY of the editing and you still end up with a decent little video. One of its effect settings (Rock On) just seemed perfect for my idea, as it was using stop motion collage frames and transitions which fits perfectly with our field module. The only feature I didn’t fully agree with was the black and white bits as the use of colour is quite an important feature, although after seeing it a few more times I realised that it actually works quite well – in order to inspire interest, you don’t show everything straight away, do you… The song I used is from the soundtrack of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (“Garbage Truck” by Sex Bob-Omb), it is one of my favourite films based on a comic book (story & artwork by Bryan Lee O’Malley). I thought it’d be quite fitting for a few reasons, like the grungy footage, and the fact that we’ve been working with and looking into comic books during most of this module.

Workshop with Tom Martin

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In our workshop with Tom Martin we were making collaborative collages and at the same time mixing it all up with our own drawings as parts of the collages.

It was definitely an interesting day that produced some ecen more interesting outcomes. Most of the pieces looked quite chaotic and nonsensical on their own but when Tom invited us to put all our final pieces out so that everyone can have a look, I believe we all felt like we had done some pretty good work that day.

It was also interesting to observe the different tables’ working process and the range of outcomes.