Week 2 Human Being/Being Human: Reflection

21/9/15

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21.9.15

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After researching Mona Hatoum's work and thinking further about subverting the eyelash curlers from today's lesson, I thought about how domestic objects and the domestic environment itself can be a place of stress and fear. I want to look at Hatoum's work further in the context of domestic objects (perhaps this could be incorporated into the found objects I bring in tomorrow?)

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21/9/15

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21.9.15 The Detritivores

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21.9.15 The Detritivores

21.9.15 The Detritivores

In response to the tribe we made up today, I became really interested in the pattern qualities of bacteria (used in our model and initial designs) and decided to develop these further in my sketchbook:

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Whilst I became slightly obsessed with the dotty surface texture and the idea of fungal/bacterial growth taking over the surface of the skin, I am unsure if this will link in to the "being human" ideas of domesticity and fear that I have also been looking at (with Mona Hatoum's work today.) However, these dot experiments affirmed the realisation that I am incredibly interested in creating surfaces and textures, and I feel this can be an important lens through which to carry out my research. 

 

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A History of the World in 100 Objects- 31: Coin with Head of Alexander the Great

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23.9.15

Today's independent study session was fairly successful- after going to see Ai Weiwei's exhibition at the RA this morning I went home and did some research into the performance films of Martha Rosler, in particular Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975.) I was previously interested in dirt and grime on the J-cloths and how to recreate accidents/dirts with craft to enshrine them (after researching Susan Collis' work,) however after seeing Ai Weiwei's 1 metre cubed pieces (and the giant ebony and wood boxes he'd made) I thought I could recreate the aesthetic of marquetry by glue-gunning down the plaited J-cloths (which I had leftover from the previous day) to decorate a small box. Inside the box I am going to have the Semiotics of the Kitchen embroidered onto 26 little j-cloths, with the corresponding words from Rosler's performance underneath; eg. A for Apron. I am happy with the conclusion I reached today, however I am also concerned that I have too many cloth/plait samples and sculptures lying around and not enough developments actually stuck in my sketchbook. I plan to spend Thursday and friday gluing all the samples in and annotating them in more detail to show the process more clearly.

 

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The glue gun/cloth experiment I made was quite satisfying to produce, as it was both therapeutic plaiting the J-cloths but also I felt the surface effectively mimicked the complex marquetry I'd seen at Ai's exhibition earlier in the day. I was interested in how my work was beginning to take a surface-orientated  direction, and thought I would investigate this further by looking at the various shapes and textures I saw in the kitchen (a tangent linking back to Martha Rosler and Mona Hatoum's work.)

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While the results were slightly too messy for my liking, it made me realise that it was really the surface texture of the plaited j-cloths that were what interested me most, and so I decided to hone in on this by starting to develop the "Semiotics of the Kitchen" box for the alien visit tomorrow.

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Reflection on idea RE: Martha Rosler

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24.9.15

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24.9.15

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26.9.15 Reflection on Human Being/Being Human

Reflection on Human Being/Being Human as a whole:

What I found most useful about the project was the research I accumulated about communication in itself, in particular the significance of signs, symbols and semiotics- Martha Roslen's film was definitely the work with most influence on my ideas this week. When making my ritual out of found objects (and also what I was thinking about when experimenting with responses to the Agnes Martin exhibition I saw yesterday) I thought about how as humans we have a contradictory desire for order and cleanliness, yet are constantly creating mess, chaos and dirt- it was this idea that initially led me to think about the kitchen as a centre of where the clean/mess cycle that goes on.

After experimenting with plaiting the J-cloths and researching Susan Collis and Ai Weiwei, I then thought about craft as a means of elevating an object or subverting it- I wanted the j-cloths to be transformed into an artefact symbolic of kitchen rituals, but also the semiotics of language itself ( I enjoyed explaining to the martian what a semiotic was, and the letter A.) I found it interesting responding to the alien's question about whether the word apron was a semiotic (which I said yes to) as it made me realise that any object, word or shape can be a symbol for something else. I was disappointed that he was able to understand our language though as it might have been more fun to explain it as a concept (rather than him just reading the embroidery straight off the j cloth.) The project remains unfinished as I really liked the fabric embroidery/painting thing I made in my book, and would like to do more on a larger scale, but I also have to finished embroidering all of the J-cloths (it's taking me ages and I'm only up to the letter H at the moment.) If I have any spare time during PDP next week I will definitely return to this idea of order vs disorder, clean vs messy.

The J-cloths in the box worked well as I feel they have the necessary element of craft to elevate themselves into artefacts. The only downside to this is that they take a long time to embroider, so hopefully I will have completed all 26 by the time of my progress tutorial. While I didn't like how my ritual looked (I thought the milk and butter containers labelled "wet" and "dry" were a bit too clumsy) it was useful in getting me to the idea of mess vs clean. If I could do the project differently I would have tried to find Martha Rosler's film sooner, as it was really influential in my final outcome and without it I would not have known what a semiotic was ( I also want to research more about semiotics and symbols outside of the alphabet.) My research was really useful in supporting ideas about semiotics and mess/clean, however I wish I could have extended more ideas out of the Susan Collis/Mona Hatoum books I got out the library.

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22/9/15

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22/9/15

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Working with found objects, I wanted to make a shrine to the rituals of the kitchen - repetitive washing and drying everyday give j-cloths and tea-towels a special significance in our lives and I wanted to elevate these objects through the performance of a ritual. Taking inspiration from the works of Mona Hatoum, Susan Collis and Alice Anderson, my ritual involved the plaiting of dismembered j-cloths (at the end of their working life) to honour their use. The process happened largely by accident through experimentation; and realising that I really enjoyed the performative aspect of plaiting itself. I began by deconstructing the cloth and netting, and after realising the soothingness of the plaits I punched holes in the other vessels as a way of marking the cloth's transformation into rope.

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After the initial success of plaiting the satsuma net and using the residue as confetti for a 'snowglobe' like contraption in the jam jar, I decided to repeat the same process with the j-cloth, cutting it into long strands first before plaiting. I quickly realised that the act of plaiting itself (much like Alice Anderson's winding of copper threads round objects) was really the ritual in itself, and that the other components were merely transformative vessels/accessories for the plaiting process.

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After adding the plaited j-cloths to the empty butter vessel, I realised my ritual could be split into two parts: the plaiting of wet cloths and the plaiting of dry ones (we have a similar drawer system in our kitchen where the two are kept separate, and so i thought it would make sense to keep wet/dry cloths and tea-towels apart from each other even when they are journeying to the afterlife.)

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Using leftover scraps of netting and cloth that had fallen off the plaits, I then added water to the snow-globe(jar) to make it really dirty/scummy. In my crit Susan suggested that it was also an ode to dirt itself rather than just an ode to the rituals of the kitchen, and so in this sense a jar of dirty dishwater could easily be presented to the alien ambassadors as an integral part of being human- our continual scrubbing of dirt off ourselves and our surroundings.

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The jar was really gross and made me feel slightly ill but I think my ritual overall made good use of the objects I found. I want to continue looking at the value of domesticity and the kitchen, and also at how dirt (and the idea of an essential cleaning ritual/process) is integral to our existence as human beings. While I did not particularly like the aesthetic of the physical objects (the vessels in particular seemed somewhat disjointed and ungainly) I am interested in this idea of dirt and domesticity and plan on pursuing it tomorrow; beginning with photographing my piece in the context of the kitchen.

 

 

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22.9.15

In response to the research I'd done on Susan Collis and the J-cloth ritual I'd created in class today, I decided to investigate how I could add value/worth to the j-cloths through embroidery. I tried various techniques that both emphasised and masked the paint stains on them, and I thought the beading one was particularly effective, as I liked the idea of beads growing in place of mould. In a more conceptual take on embellishing/adding value to mess and mistakes, I also used silver thread to embroider into one of my failed attempts at life drawing from the previous day, which made me consider how material worth and craft affects our perception of artwork as well as observational accuracy. A question I thought was; if there is a really bad inaccurate drawing done in gold leaf, is it more valuable than a prefectly observed one in graphite?

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25.9.15

After seeing Agnes Martin's exhibition at the Tate Modern today, I was interested in the process of creating grids using a tape resist: I had a go at producing some experimental mixed media pieces using sellotape and watercolour, with acryllic paint over the top to show abstract shapes and outlines of the forms I observed in the kitchen. I was fairly pleased with the overall outcome as I thought there was a good contrast between the tight order of the squares and then the looser messiness of the paint strokes over the top. I thought this linked well to my previous idea of mess vs. cleanliness, and the distinctly human fight against the two.

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Following the success of these, I tried painting/ collaging with string onto a larger piece of j-cloth, and then produced an embroidery on sheer fabrics of the abstract shapes I could see in the kitchen. I liked the effect of the embroidery layered on top of the painting, and the translucent quality of the fabric was also interesting in changing the matte surface to a shinier one.

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I produced a second, more graphic grid study that wasn't as successful, but was still fairly interesting as it broke up and isolated particular pattern elements and shapes, which I thought could be looked at in further detail (from a textile perspective.) On the following page I isolated the shapes and then re-applied patterns from other objects onto them, and then thought about these within the context of the body and constructing around the human form. My work often wanders back to the body, and I think it seems a fairly natural conclusion to the Human Being/Being Human project that all the stress/order/disorder/calm of domestic shapes and patterns links back to covering the body itself.

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