Still shot taken from "Quatermass and the Pit" (1967)
This module is an excellent start to the year, it has generated quite a bit of work from me and given me many new ideas to go forward with that i would not necessarily have thought of on my own. As a group we have investigated in different ways, traveled deeper and discovered hidden zones of inquiry not usually accessed individually.
I have made new friends and i would work together with any of my group in the future, i really hope they feel the same way about me.
I do believe that our group was blessed in many ways; we were calm, we all respected each other, there were no ego problems and we are all creative, reliable and authentic. In fact we had many laughs on the way, this has been a very good humored, positive and enriching experience.
I do feel that as the only group that had to work internationally we were given both an extra challenge and an opportunity. It has not been easy but we managed through innovation, to successfully navigate the boundaries of culture and language. We were confident in appointing Haiyun our colleague in Shenzen whose first language is Mandarin, the important assignment of editing our visual presentation.
Although our focus changed during the the collaboration, we have proven we can work together to solve complex problems. As a group we are strong enough to apply critical thinking to most anything we would put our collective energy into and get results.
Even as at the eleventh hour when we encountered the sublime and very contemporary contradictions of software, hardware and human capacity, all cycling out of synch, we held firm. We had to compromise our planned and rehearsed live performance for the presentation, sadly the exquisite sound design crafted by Sam would drop out as soon as one of us began to speak from another channel in Teams. The solution was to pre record, a disappointment for us as we relished the prospect of the inherent imperfection a dynamic live event could induce.
Same Same, But Different...
After our tutorial 17/01/22, our collaboration changed tack and we have picked up a fresh breeze. The theme remains the same, essentially perfection/ imperfection, a celebration of collaboration, but we will simplify things and involve the audience. This was bound to happen as we have quite a large amount of material to somehow cohesively present, it was always our intention, to have a large lump of stone to chip away at. The time has come, we have reduced and consolidated our presentation thus:
Practicing my German - Berlin Graffiti
I haven spoken German in over 20 years conversationally.
Each line took about 15 minutes to complete, but this was a a great way to break the complex language down and conquer the pronunciation and intonation.
Additionally through this methodical, slow making i have ended up with a rather striking idea for a future artwork.
I have attempted to change the structure of the collaborative self portraits; i first combined them in Photoshop to see how they might fit together in one piece. The fracturing of the representation in this way introduces tension and causes significant change the aesthetic.
I thought about metaxis and emergence and how successful as a group we have embraced collaboration and broken with habitual thinking.
Each of us has attempted the tasks set with enthusiasm and i would like to respond to this as a "celebration of collaboration".
I reduced the original work into monochrome and then inverted for printing as cyanotype or screen from acetate. Repetition and reproduction should also force degradation and further changes to the traditional portraits that i began with.
Below is my second attempt at deciphering the self portraits as physical collage. In both of my combinations have tried to balance elements from all the self portraits and work with a compositional structure, i am particularly struck by how the "Mondrain" shapes of Sam's portrait somehow underpin and disrupt simultaneously.
I have again simplified the work into monochrome and then inverted for printing.
I would like to incorporate this technique of combining several portraits into one piece within my own practice.
I have noticed that my self portraits vary considerably, perhaps by bringing several together in this way i may arrive at a deeper more authentic truth. It is certainly worth trying.
It is Jenny Saville that i am referencing to develop the self portraits and bring our group effort into the contemporary aesthetic.
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During the acousmatic seminar i used my writing pad and biro to draw with my eyes wide shut, until my pen broke in any case.
But after about 20 minutes scribbling i did end up with this web like work.
I have adjusted, inverted and printed as cyanotypes.
I include these as i think they kind of convey the randomness of connections we make in our group, there is a beauty in haphazardry and chance.
Timelapse prepping the studio!
Green. (2001). The third hand collaboration in art from conceptualism to postmodernism. University of Minnesota Press.
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"Artists appear in their art, voluntarily placing themselves center stage in self-portraits but also at the margins of all their other works, constructing themselves through brush marks, in signature style, by individual preferences, and through repeated motifs—in short, from the intersection of subjectivity with medium. As a basic tenet of connoisseurship, this seems obvious, but there are degrees of self-conscious intention that complicate this process, especially during the latter half of the twentieth century, for many artists have thought carefully about the way they code themselves into their art, manipulating the way they appear. This is not to suggest that artists are narcissistic, or that they are necessarily even interested in the politics of identity; rather, artists have always conceded and exploited the inevitability of implicit self-representation. Artists are thieves in the attic: They far from innocently try out different, sometimes almost forgotten identities in the chaotically organized attic of history, rummaging in dusty, dark rooms where variations of authorial identity are stored away from view. " (2001, p.9)
Since our tutorial, we have unsurprisingly changed tack again, Cath advised us to collaborate outside our usual pathways more and mix it up. So we have all set our fellow collaborators tasks based on our own pathways that they should complete. This serves to mix it all up first before attempting to bring it together at the end.
My fellow collaborators will send me their self portraits, exciting!
I have literally dug out my “yarn”, nice complementary going on with the colours there, helpful doggo demonstrating scale. Now I gotta find me some trees to wrap!!!
After showing my daughter Hazel (who is studying sustainable design) the roped trees, she suggested that i look at the work of Sheila Hicks:
We are now planning a road trip to see the show later this year:
I see these ropes as staged interventions in visual purity.
It has given me some other ideas, of bondage, or being bound. I would like to wrap a human form completely in rope as a kind of "mummy", could this be a super hero/ villain or a spook/ eerie? I have some Action Men from a previous project i may practice on with string, i also have a couple of shop window manikins if i decide to go larger.
Or even binding up cars or public or commercial space...
I have recorded myself on drums, extremely sloppy, I hope Sam can sample the best bits, I am very rusty, haven’t practised in ages, you can see the dust all over the kit!!
Please be kind Sam!! I have my moments but I do keep dropping the beat!!
I have fairly decent levels on the Tascam recording and I used a clapper in case we need to synch that with video footage from the phone.
(No prizes for guessing my character below!)
Silent but violent.
This is my full electric, zero emission Nissan Leaf. I love this car as not only does it save me money, it also saves the environment, and it will burn off any BMW that cares to chance their luck!!!
Pinhole app on iphone XR
Philosophy of Carl Gustav Jung.
My motivation to translate this from English back to its original German stems from repetition and reproduction; do the words change meanings, do the meanings change words as they are processed?
This is an excerpt of my own writing with quotes, translated from:
Hyde, Maggie, et al. (2015) Introducing Jung. Icon.
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“Wie sind Archetypen in unseren menschlichen Erfahrungen bekannt? Sie haben keine materielle Existenz und enthüllen sich als bloße Bilder.” Zum Beispiel zeigen sich bestimmte Stereotypen als unbewusste kollektive Realität. Der Archetyp selbst kann nur in seinem unbewussten Sein wahrgenommen werden, aber die Abbildung des Archetyps wird bewusst gesehen und bestimmt wie es wahrgenommen wird; ob verdeckt oder offenbart.
Hackman. (2011). Collaborative intelligence using teams to solve hard problems (1st edition). Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Hackman describes the 6 "enabling conditions" that foster a good collaborative team:
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"It is like a garden: A plant is more likely to prosper when the seed is good, the soil is fertile, water is plentiful, and the sun shines frequently. None of those conditions, by itself, guarantees healthy development of the plant. But together they increase the chances of a favorable outcome. It is the same with teams. Real team (Chapter 4): Real work teams are intact social systems whose members work together to achieve a common purpose. They have clear boundaries that distinguish members from nonmembers. They work interdependently to generate a product for which members have collective, rather than individual, accountability. And they have at least moderate stability, which gives members time to learn how to work well together. Compelling purpose (Chapter 5): A compelling purpose energizes team members, orients them toward their collective objective, and fully engages their talents. Purpose has high priority when establishing a team because so many other design decisions depend on it—how the team is structured, the kinds of organizational supports that are needed, and the type of coaching by team leaders that will be most helpful. Right people (Chapter 6): Well-composed teams have the right number and mix of members, each of whom has both task expertise and skill in working collaboratively with others. And they are as small and diverse as possible—large size and excessive homogeneity of membership can cripple even teams that otherwise are quite well designed. Clear norms of conduct (Chapter 7): Norms of conduct specify what behaviors are, and are not, acceptable in a team. Having clear, well enforced norms greatly reduces the amount of time a team must spend actively managing member behavior. The best norms promote continuous scanning of the performance situation and the deployment of work strategies that are well tuned to the special features of the team’s task and situation. Supportive organizational context (Chapter 8): Even teams that are properly structured and supported sometimes founder because they cannot obtain the organizational supports they need to perform well. Having the material resources needed to carry out the work is, of course, essential. But beyond that, team performance is facilitated when (1) the reward system provides recognition and positive consequences for excellent team performance, (2) the information system provides the team with the data and the information-processing tools members need to plan and execute their work, and (3) the organization’s educational system makes available to the team any technical or educational assistance members may require. Team-focused coaching (Chapter 9): Competent and well-timed team coaching can help a team minimize its exposure to process losses and increase the chances that it will operate in ways that generate synergistic process gains. But even highly competent coaching is likely to be futile when the other enabling conditions are not in place, or when the team is not at a stage of its life cycle when members are ready to receive it. That is why coaching, as important as it can be in fostering competent teamwork, comes last in the list of enabling conditions." (2011, p 44)
Perfection - Imperfection
By the end of our early group meeting on 11/01/22 we had decided to change tack in order to challenge ourselves more; we will pursue something on our own and bring this together under the banner of "perfection/ imperfection". This is now the theme we have as a group decided upon for our collaborative dialogue and pitch this to our tutor Cath the same afternoon.
The starting point for my contribution was ignited by Haiyun's reference to Lacan. I have read some of Lacan's mirror theory and this connected with something i had come across while reading Deleuze and Guittari; "The aim of painting has always been the deterritorialization of faces and landscapes, either by a reactivation of corporeality, or by a liberation of lines or colors, or both at the same time. There are many becomings-animal, becomings-woman, and becomings-child in painting." Combining these two ideas brought me to consider self portraiture as a way into the collaboration, i thought of Jung and his four archetypal figures that work in pairs; ego/ shadow = purpose/ identity and persona/ soul image = masks/ unconsciousness. I often draw self portraits to practice doing something immediate and i have recently begun painting self portrait studies; my imperfect imperfections. I am using 2 mirrors in order to see myself from a profile angle, i never give myself longer than half an hour to complete one. No 2 paintings are ever the same, in fact they could easily be other people or even by other people, my drawing skills are imperfect.
I have been studying the work of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, his suggestions, economy of brush stroke, light and dark and planes of the head.
"Over 75 self portraits of Rembrandt, a combination of drawings, etchings, and paintings, are in existence today, including three paintings made in the last year of his life. He painted portraits of himself more than any artist of his era" (p.48)
I am clearly not an accomplished portraitist by any means and this is a challenge for me.
Self portraits make me think of Lacan and his Mirror theories; the following text i had researched for an essay a couple of years ago. The mention of Lacan in our group meeting caused me to search for this work and see how it applied to the task in hand:
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For the 10/01/22 group 4 meeting i prepared this short presentation over the weekend for my teammates to help explain where i might fit into the collaboration.
Introduction in my lair; laser printer, vinyl plotter, scanning, theory library.
My interests; philosophy, painting, photography, printing, environmental and social justice.
Darkroom, film developing and printing.
Building pinhole cameras, experimental photography and processing, NV goggles.
Main studio space; type of work - painting, collage, materials, relief printing, screen printing, cyanotype, encaustic, plastic.
Artist and film library. Genres - Landscape, figurative, abstract, installation, working from my own previous ephemera.
Below are a few examples of work from my BA portfolio:
Combining street art and recycling
Further to our Tactic workshop of using printing to stimulate dialogue between communities, i had another idea to combine something i have already been working on; to build machines for recycling plastic.
But perhaps the process could be broken down and further collaboration instigated; plastic needs to be collected, cleaned, sorted before processing.
There are empty business locations around Swansea, perhaps it could be possible to secure a location for the purpose of establishing a plastic collection and sorting unit that could be operated by some of the homeless people we engage with.
Plastic sorting and cleaning is a relatively easy process to learn that does not require much in the way of machinery. "Starter kits" for all processing are available from Precious Plastics here: https://preciousplastic.com/starterkits/overview.html
There is already a company in Swansea producing items from recycled plastic: https://smile-plastics.com/, it would be worth making contact to find if there is any synergy between us.
This tactic could work on many levels;
Recycling waste, good for the environment
Giving homeless people a mission and self worth, good for society.
Using otherwise empty premises, good for the local economy.
Along the lines of Superflex we could prepare a manual for other teams to replicate and improve the tactic which may go to help relieve some of the problems we are currently facing.
Bourriaud, Pleasance, S., Woods, F., & Copeland, M. (2002). Relational aesthetics. Presses du Réel.
My first ideas for a collaboration were to try to work with something along the lines of a flash mob, or somehow turn that on its head:
https://youtu.be/a6W2ZMpsxhg - Night Watch, Rembrandt