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)
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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)

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.

Gorillas in the Roses

For my second term field option I chose to do collaging with James Green and I was happy once again to see lots of familiar faces, good friends and excellent sources of inspiration. (He-he-he…) This whole option is pretty much self-explanatory. It is about collaging and the making of collages, cutting and gluing, all the special tricks of the trade and how to literally work with other people’s works.

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We started off with a presentation and a few clips, to get us into the feeling of what we will be doing over the next five weeks. I was quite excited and it was all really interesting but when James showed us the pile of old comics and fashion magazines that he’d brought for us to cut up I just lost my head. I LOVE comic books. 2000 AD, with the stories about Judge Dredd, Tank Girl, one of my absolute favourites, and more… And the magazines were full of old coloured photos on incredibly thin paper! I honestly don’t know how to emphasize my outburst of pure happiness! The little child inside of me always wants to copy this or cut that out, but is always shushed by the grown up, rational version that keeps everything safe and in mint condition. Now that I get to cut and rip, and shred, and chop, and slice… ah, it feels so good!

It gives me a sense of freedom, not much different from Painting Performance (last term’s Field option). Last time we were dealing with the essence of paint itself, the ultimate tool of the artist with qualities as numerous as its colours, whereas this time we’ve got finished images as initial material, all the possible colours, patterns, textures, sizes and most importantly mixtures and combinations of different methods.

This year our Field module genuinely seems to be directed at us letting loose and finding exactly where we stand as artists which I deeply appreciate. I am enjoying this Field project and I’ve already started thinking on a few ideas connected to my subject practice.

Painting Performance

Our Painting Performance module is on twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The first Tuesday, after the keynote lecture was our first actual performance, or at least exercise to get us into the spirit of what we’re going to be doing over the next few weeks. Each of us had to fill a bucket with “Almost-Klein Blue” and go from one end of our allocated sheet to the other, making whatever marks we desire.

The results were beautiful and surprising. We weren’t concentrated on the meaning or the correctness of our marks, we just did them, there was no one to judge, no one to criticize, no rules and no limits. It was like once you stepped onto that paper you were in a different universe, like there was nothing else but you and the paint which just wants to get out of the bucket in your hand, and it’s all you can do to help it however you can… so what if you slip and fall down? So what if you dive into a puddle of acrylic? It’s too much fun to bother you even for a bit.

In the end every other group cut up their paper and put it up in their group cubicle space to dry. We made a group decision to put ours up on the opposite wall until it fully dries and keep it full size. We thought it would enforce the idea of time and movement, and the notion of leaving a trace and the uniqueness of each individual compared to the collective outcome.

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IMG_5821-0.JPGKirstin Crocker :))