Rebecca Hammett, MFA / Performance

 

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/d7a/58572234/files/2014/12/img_6122.jpgRebecca Hammet, MFA / Performance

 

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/d7a/58572234/files/2014/12/img_6123.jpgRebecca Hammett, MFA

 

As the second part of one of our Painting Performance sessions we had a guest performer from the Fine Art Masters course (CSAD), Rebecca Hammett, who was testing out her invention – a set of wooden bionic-type arm-like extensions with a brush attached to each end.

For about 10-15 minutes she was stood in front of the paper, moving her body up and down and sideways, letting the arms do the painting for her. It was actually quite interesting to observe her movements and actions, analyse her process and direction towards a final outcome. I was (and always have been, really) fascinated by the growth of a piece of artwork, in this case, from a single pair of marks, to a whirlpool of overlapping, chaotic strokes, a slow yet dynamic mixing experiment. I also got to thinking about taking it further, exploring colour in a completely new way… ideas like adding a single colour to one brush, or to another, or adding two, three, more colours, or even turning the combination into a sort of gradient experiment in which each brush has the same colour but with a different hue/tone/etc.

I find it really pleasing when an artwork (and of course the process of making one) inspires a focus in me, focus towards my own practice and developing my ideas. Also, it was really nice of Rebecca to let a few people try it out.

 

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/d7a/58572234/files/2014/12/img_6126.jpgEthan Dodd (from my group) trying out the ‘arms’

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Non Art Materials / Performance

That day, everyone had an A4 sheetup on the wall in front of them. This was more of a personal exploration, unlike other times, when we shared a surface or worked as a group. We were supposed to bring in any non-art materials of our choosing, to use in our artwork instead of paint. Some people brought Gravy granules, teabags, cleaning products, flour, toothpaste, clay, tomato soup and so much more. I brought a bucket of leaves from the park and I got scared I wouldnt be able to make them stick. Fortunately, with the help of some water (cloudy with washed off acrylic paint), I managed to turn them into a more volatile substance.

We were doing slow movements at first, concentrating on muscle use and breathing and connecting with the material, exploring its flow and consistency and learning to work with it. Then we switched to a faster pace, an angry approach with violent outcomes.

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It was an interesting exercise for lots of reasons – seeing what everyone else had done with their materials, both as interesting mixtures of substances and interesting outcomes. By the end though, the mixed smell of all those mixtures became so potent, we had a hard time trying to focus and discuss the work.

Note:  video update soon.

Panel Discussion 2.0

Feeling no inspiration whatsoever over the weekend, I decided not to write anything about the Key Note until I felt the need to. And here I am now, ready to tell you that it wasn’t such a big deal after all. Remember how in the last Key Note Panel Discussion there were just the three lecturers telling us in short what they were talking about and then the time ran out? Well, basically last Friday was almost the same. The topic was Meaning and as you’ve probably already guessed the three previous lectures were all centered around that.

After the brief (really brief this time) reminders of the previous three lectures, we had time for questions and etc. To be honest I had nothing to ask. I wasn’t sure if it was because I didn’t want any attention on myself or because I thought I understood what the lecturers were trying to tell us and I didn’t need any additional clarifying answers.

But gladly, not everyone thought that because several people did ask questions. It was strange to listen to the conversation and not be able to join in. Perhaps if we had been in smaller, more intimate groups, it would’ve been much easier to communicate to one another. Sitting in a huge amphitheatric hall wasn’t very close to that idea of easy two-sided (or more) conversation, discussion and exchange of ideas.

Presentations

The Study Skill Session on 21 Nov was with Dr. Stephen Thompson and boy, did we have a laugh! It was a strongly interactive Session that could only be better if it was a peula (an activity in Hebrew) in Hashomer Hatzair (a youth movement in which I used to be an educator before I moved here, but more about that another time and if anyone’s interested).

He played lots of videos, he added good advice and showed great presentation skills. And the best part – he divided us into groups of three and had each group do a 1-minute presentation on Picasso’s Guernica. Honestly, this was one of the best Study Skill Sessions I’ve had for the whole two months I’ve been here. (((:

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And here are my personal notes from the Session… (I decided to show this because it’s one of the more colorful ones)

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The Meaning of Ideas (21 Nov)

Now, let’s talk about Clive Cazeaux’s lecture on Thursday last week (two weeks ago actually). Meaning, ideas and the meaning of ideas. It was an interesting way to look at meaning, so unlike Cath Davies’s perspective on the matter. I believe it is safe to say that even though their lectures have the same topic, they are completely different just because they are being interpreted differently. What better way is there to show the changeable meaning of everything that exists than by showing us different views on one single word… Meaning.

The lecture was genuinely interesting. I am not exaggerating or pretending, I really did enjoy it. Besides being filled with information and examples from history it was packed with philosophical and rhetorical questions that left you wondering, thinking and therefore paying attention and participating. The Professor’s view on Meaning, Ideas and the Meaning of Ideas was truly inspirational. Because truly, what is an idea? What is our relationship as artists and designers to ideas? I believe you’ve al heard the phrase “I think, therefore I am”. Have you ever thought about “We cannot doubt that we think”? I hadn’t. Not consciously. You know how sometimes someone tells you something and you can’t help but think that you already knew it, in a way…

After going over some of the philosophies and ideas of John Locke and René Descartes and comparing one to the other, we moved over to the more artistic side of philosophy and ideas and meaning. Starting with my personal favourite – Marcel Duchamp and his “Fountain” from 1917.

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I really do find this… piece (if it can be called that) truly close to my heart. I can’t really explain it but every time I think of it, there’s this fuzzy feeling of excitement coming through me that reminds me that Duchamp, as famous as he was, was a rebel in his soul…

Moving on, though, the professor did talk about a lot more things. For example the death of Art, the death of Design, the fact that neither can really be dead as long as there’s a need for it, a demand for it from the people. Then he moved on to the connection of Thought, Matter and Sound. (To be honest, I must’ve been lost in thought as he moved from the little deaths of design to this…) Anyway, the theory goes like this: Thought, Matter and Sound are shaped by the same process and so they are of the same substance.

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Moving on to Immanuel Kant and his ideas and concept of Pure Reason, Dasein or Da-Sein, Martin Heidegger’s Being & Time from ’27, then the degradation of the portrait into the selfie, and the idea that we think through materials: things we pick up, things that come to hand, that we reach for, that we select, that come to mind, that we think of…

Hmm, sorry, got lost in my own head for a moment. Yes, sometimes lectures make you do that. Don’t you think that makes it a good lecture? I most certainly do.

“God is dead, the Human is dead, but there is a world of possibilities.”

Constellation on Nov 14

KEY NOTE LECTURE

Okay, let me be honest with you. I was late for the key note lecture. I don’t know how it happened since I was awake since 9:30 but apparently something got messed up in the system and I was late. The surprising part of that whole morning was that when I got to the auditorium, and tried to get in, the doors were locked. I didn’t know this was a thing but after I ran to the back, up the stairs to the other door, it was locked as well.

Hmm. Not sure I get the message really. I never thought we were being locked in all these weeks. Now I feel like I’m on the verge of revealing some sort of conspiracy. Anyway, doors locked or not, I WAS late and I do apologize for that. I did ask my friends to fill me up on what I’ve missed and I will check Blackboard for more info.

STUDY SKILL SESSION

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Now the Study Skill Session was a blast. First of all, in Blackboard it was written that it was going to be held in block E, room 102. Well, we were just a tad surprised when some random teacher walks in and looks at us and goes like ‘Oh, you’re not my class!’. Well, turned out we were in a completely different block.

Prof. Alexandros Kontogeorgakopoulos (I really hope I spelled it correctly…) invited all of us in with a smile on his face and started explaining stuff about the trip to Berlin. (Let me just note how much I love traveling. Let me just hint that I have friends studying and living in Berlin. Let me just say that I just paid the deposit that secures me one of the 35 places on the trip.) I am so looking forward to that trip >.<!! Anyway! Getting back to the Study Skill Session.

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Sound. That’s basically his thing. He is a person of sound and music and that is the first thing I connect him to when I hear his name. So, of course, his lecture was connected to sound. ART//SCIENCE//TECHNOLOGY that’s what it was called. So basically we looked and analyzed a case study by Thomas Grill and Arthur Flexer – Visualization and Perceptual Qualities in Textural Sounds. What we did was study the way they made the text. The title – very important to whether people are going to read the piece or not. If you have a lousy title that doesn’t really have much to do with your text people probably won’t be drawn in. Then we moved on to abstract. I didn’t know the concept of an abstract but apparently people do put one in their case studies. It is a short text that summarizes what you’ll be writing about – a hundred words or something like that. It’s actually a pretty smart thing to do because basically when you go and buy a book, you want to know what it’s going to be about—that’s why you read the summary on the back cover. :)  Then the professor was really clear in explaining how important referencing was. Without references, your essay is basically nothing. You HAVE to have all the references from actual books from libraries or whatever. You can’t just say that you read that in Wikipedia and be done with it. (Besides, even Wikipedia has a freaking reference section on every page!)

But let’s be honest. That was not very interesting to talk about. What was fun was listening to sounds and sketching them like this:

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Then we did the survey that we read about before. It was a simple questionnaire in which you hear a piece of music and then choose one of five pictures that you believe represents that sound. That was pretty fun to do and it was an interesting perspective on how sounds and music connect to visual arts.

It was a weird day and it was a fun one as well. People were more open to conversation than the previous week and it felt fulfilling in a way. :)

Key Note and Study Skill on Nov 7

audrey-kitching-and-dr-martens-galleryApologies. Now, I’ve had a pretty hard time getting down in front of my computer and actually getting to write stuff. There were the 7th and the 14th of November to write about and I totally procrastinated until I could no longer stand myself for it. So here goes.97261

November the 7th. A good day it was as far as I remember. I had to go to the Illustration Symposium in Oxford but guess who slept over 5 alarms and woke up at half nine. (FIVE FREAKING ALARMS!!! I mean, who does that?! I wasn’t even hungover!) So I swear my brains out and I decide that there’s no point in me being mad at myself and I should just go to the Constellation Key Note lecture… which I did.

And look at my surprised face when I see Cath Davies (from the study skills with the James Bond posters) getting her stuff ready to give the lecture. The guy sitting next to me literally shivered when he saw her and said something about her being freaking scary and intimidating, to which I laughed because I though he was just joking. In retrospect, I see he might’ve actually been serious… well, whatever, I really like her as a lecturer so…

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Mods VS Rockerspunks_and_fashionistas_kings_road_london_britain_sep_1984_495075Imagine my surprise when she starts her lecture with a picture of a pair of Dr. Martens and says that’s what she is going to talk about. I looked down at my feet—Dr. Martens. Check! I smile and don’t take my eyes off the projections the whole lecture.

Kurt-CobainOkay, so the lecture wasn’t exactly about the Dr. Martens boots. It was about Meaning. Once something is made for the use of people it’s meaning and regard depends on who it’s used by and how these people are using it. She put everything she was saying in a Dr. Martens context and it all made sense.

DOC5In the beginning these were worker shoes – comfortable enough and sturdy and lasting. People wore them because they were good for work. I’m not going to explain everything Cath Davies talked about in her lecture but I will tell you that after the skinheads and mods in the 60s, everything changed. The Dr. Martens shoes became a signature piece of clothing for what those people represented – chaos, not following the rules and what-not. The tradition carried on in the 70s with the punks and neo-skins, in the 80s with the goths and psychobillies and in the 90s with the grunge and Britpop waves. So yes, the meaning of the Dr. Martens boots has changed over the times. I clearly remember several things that were noted about miley-cyrus-doc-martensmiley-cyrus-wrecking-ballDocs nowadays—they’re in Vogue, they’re stylish, fashionable, they come in patterns, customized, personified, modified, they even come in Miley Cyrus’s new video where she’s dangling on a freaking wrecking ball wearing only a pair of Dr. Martens. Really? I mean, really? Is that where it all leads? From the gutter and the mud to the spotlight and the catwalk. Quite interesting if I may say so.

So yes. Everything we see around us has its own “baggage”—years and years of culture, meaning, views, rises and falls… all constantly in the process of change. I really liked this lecture even though I don’t see what its connection was with the other lectures.

*** here’s what my sketchbook looks like in this lecture :))

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 NOW. Study Skill Session with Dr. Jon Clarkson was connected to our essay and most of the two ours went by with us dissecting a text into Claims, Metaphors and Facts. It was a weird lecture and I felt like most of the people in my group are the type pf people that mainly listen and take in and when Jon asks a question they know the answer in their head but they’re not quite enthusiastic about saying it out loud in front of everyone. I was one of those people and although I didn’t understand most of what we did, I still tried to keep the discussion going.

If I have to be honest, this session really reminded me of Theo Humphries’s. Not because it was in the same room, but they did focus on work with text and converting things in our own words. It was weird but I did pinpoint several useful things for the essay that I have to write.

Panel Discussion (Oct. 24 and Oct. 31)

24.

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I was a bit late to start writing this post because I didn’t feel like talking much about it. Nothing new happened. I was late for my Study Skills Session and I missed it, unfortunately (but my friends were good enough to fill me in on what I’d missed), and went straight to the main one.

As it turned out, it wasn’t a lecture but a panel discussion. All the three previous lecturers plus Theo Humphries were there, giving a brief summary of the lectures with time for questions after that. Not that people asked any… I have the feeling no one likes to be the center of attention of so many people and they doubt their questions are important enough. It kind of lost its meaning as a discussion because it wasn’t really one.

But then again, it was good to refresh our memory of the previous lectures. It was probably quite helpful for the people who’ve missed some of them. Also, Theo took some time to talk about some things like What do academics do?  and stuff about the dissertation. He also didn’t fail to stress that he had to read the Handbook because it has everything we need to know in it.

31.

iOJXjpj14UO4That day there was a strike and most the lecturers were going to be in it so we couldn’t have the lectures as planned. The main one was postponed for a later date as were the Study Skill Sessions. It turned out that I didn’t have to go in at all and I had a beautiful calm day in town. You’re probably thinking doesn’t she have those in the weekend already?  Well, not really. The point was that it was a weekday, a working day, so the whole vibe of the experience changes.

I’m happy to say that I finished my Tank Girl Halloween costume and I bought some comics to pass the time with. The non-academic productivity was off the charts.

Music to my Art

procrastination

Hello friends,

I am here to talk about what happened to me 3 days ago in Constellation. Why exactly 3 days ago? Well, mainly because I have not had the writing bug; I’ve actually been so unproductive that I had to give myself ultimatums to get to where I am now (which is in front of the computer, writing this post), although I did procrastinate a lot. Take it from me, procrastination is bad. BAD!

So… Thursday… let’s begin with the fact that I kind of missed the bus and I had to catch the next one and I was late…. And then I got lost and I couldn’t find the building and then the room where the first lecture was supposed to be. When I walked in there was a complete silence, all faces were turned toward me and this woman, who was obviously talking to everyone and leading the lecture, looks at me with a cold glance and I just… shiver as I apologize with a slightly trembling voice. I thought I could feel her icy gaze on my back as I hurried to a free chair. Scary stuff, guys, I’m telling you! Anyway, I could not have been more wrong in my judgment of her. Yes, she looked strict and fearsome and like someone powerful that you wish to impress but that was it, she just looked like that. She was actually really witty and funny and helpful! Her voice was strong and she spoke very clearly and passionately—she sounded like she really believed in what she was saying and she wanted us to believe in it too.

Oh, right! Sorry. (Totally out of it lately.) I never told you what she was talking about, did I? Well, she was explaining to us a method of picture analysis, which consists of 3 columns with different levels of information processing that lead to the creation of a personal interpretation, thesis and meaning, all protected by literary arguments. This would come surprisingly handy in essays and such. At first we tested it on a single image and then we did it again with three James Bond posters.

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viewaug09  Die-Another-Day-Wallpaper-

It was quite nice and I realized I could spend so much time analyzing a single image—I could see so many things in a single glance but as soon as you start writing everything down, you kinda just get impressed by your own brain. And that is a pretty cool self-respect exercise!

After that there was the big lecture by Dr. Alexandros Kontogeograkopoulos (wow, that’s a mouthful {no offence!}) on the Future of Sonic Arts.

“The future of music: credo.” John Cage

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It was a good lecture. An inspiring one for sure! When someone says Sonic Arts you can’t really not think about music—as in the music that we usually listen to. But when you go to exhibitions for example we’re talking of actual sonic art and musical installations—that’s what his presentation was about. Dr. AK mentioned a lot of names (John Cage, Max Matthews, Imogen Heap, Nicholas Collins and more) and played us some nice videos, including one by the Prodigy! Hearing something familiar in such a lecture, hearing something that you really like is what makes you enjoy it, pay more attention, get involved and relate to what the lecturer is trying to say to you! I was kind of disappointed that there was no Dub FX, because he would have been a great example (so much better than Imogen Heap – she’s only got nice and strange-looking gear and that’s kind of it, isn’t it? {sorry, personal opinions, don’t take them by heart}), what with his tech and no instruments and stuff.

Here’s some Dub FX for the curious ones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bioYs6oAD8g (gosh, I got goosebumps listening to that track!!!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBmMzabdEKQ and that’s one of his newest pieces :3

I thank both my lecturers for their lectures. Sincerely. I had fun, I was inspired, I learned new tricks and I even created a new OC! I called her Vasarley Rocket and she looks awesome but her place is not here. :3

Constellation 3: TMI

I have spent the past couple of days in and out of this website, wondering how to start writing and what on earth to write after I’ve begun. It is pretty hard to start if you’re not exactly sure what to say. But after finally pulling myself together, here’s what my brain came up with…

TMI. Too Much Information. Mainly because in one day we had two lectures packed with information and learning and tips and associations and what not… two lectures can be quite stressful when each is so intense.

IMG_1199[1]Let’s start with the first one – a Study Skill Session with Theo Humphries. I enjoyed it quite a lot. Even though he gives you a scary vibe, once you relax and just listen to what he has to say, you can get a lot out of it. What he talked about was basically 1) Handling History, 2)Handling ‘-isms’, and 3)Handling Texts (close reading = opposite of speed reading). I am not going to write here everything he said but in other words. I will only say that while I learned quite a lot of new stuff and saw some things in a different perspective, I also heard and did some things that I had already done before. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that there’s a lot of intense learning in Bulgaria and I kind of went through a lot of things that people my age haven’t… I don’t know. What’s important is that the close reading was a good exercise and it reminded me not to get rusty on that or any other subject. The text we worked on was a short one – it was just one of those explanatory texts that artists and galleries put next to a certain piece. This one was by Prof. André Stitt, ‘The Little Summer of St. Michael’ from 2011. If you can find that text for yourselves and check it out you will see it’s packed with sophisticated words and complex sentences. With straightforward meanings and concealed ones. After a while it could drive you insane. Well, we worked on it for an hour and I think that was plenty.

Next we had a breakfast break of one hour. It was just perfect – neither too long nor too short, unlike last time, when we had to wait for two hours for the next lecture to start and after an hour and a half we felt like our heads were going to explode from doing nothing… Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

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(*This is a painting by Jeremy Deller*)

The second lecture – by Prof. Jeff Jones was mostly about William Morris and the power of Art. We talked a lot about him – where he came from and what heights he reached, the people and movements he was involved with, the ideas and beliefs he represented and how he contributed to Art and the people.

I definitely agree with most of the things he stood for. Parts of the lecture stood out and had an… impact on me, so to speak. For example: An artist cannot, must not, be separated and independent from religion, politics and society. I could write a whole essay saying why I agree with that statement but for now it’s enough to say that I do. (And isn’t it interesting how we in the 21st century can relate to the beliefs of someone who died 200 years ago?)

I didn’t really understand why we were having such a lecture while we were having it. It made no sense to me that we had to focus on that one single artist while there were a thousand more that we could have discussed. But in retrospect, as I write now, I kind of get it. I understand what it was about. I am glad I kept notes despite the fact that I was quite distracted during that hour. I am thankful that I did, otherwise I could not have written this and therefore reached this conclusion… (aah, sometimes it’s the little things you do…)

“There is Love, Pleasure and Cooperation in our art.” A quote by William Morris. This is something I strive to do every time I take the pencil or the brush. Honestly, I feel inspired right now, so great thanks to Jeff Jones for introducing me to William Morris.