Week 1 Ideas Factory: Reflection





Initial brainstorm on Chiharu Shiota, Feathers and Amplify

After brainstorming hypothetical proposals for the Ideas Factory project in our group today, I quickly learnt to not become too hung up on the final outcome and instead focus more on the process. Despite some early deliberations over which practitioner, material and process to use, we decided to pick them at random and this ultimately turned out to be more successful.

I think that by leaving the combination to chance, we avoided conscious attempts to make "safe" or "obvious" selections; helping us to find potential ideas connecting the three more naturally. While I would like to have a more in-depth knowledge of Chiharu Shiota's work (which I am sure will be helped by the library session on Monday) I am confident that there are enough potential connections and ideas that can stem from Feathers, Amplification, and her art to reach an interesting project proposal.

Considering multiple definitions of "amplify" also proved useful and allowed us to reach a more conceptual question/problem. While we first considered the literal amplification of sound, I'm more interested in the possibility of amplified movement and how the tactility of feathers could heighten or intensify an experience. While I did like our initial design of a feathered cape with a peacock-style ruff to exaggerate the presence of the wearer and their gestures, I am slightly worried that it might be too literal an approach - perhaps it is necessary to consider a more immersive idea larger in scale, or even more conceptual/socially conscious like other groups?

Tomorrow I am going to visit the Rebecca Horn room at the Tate Modern to study her wearable sculptures and masks constructed out of bird feathers. I'm excited to watch her films as I think they'll help inform the performative aspect of the moving feather-suit idea - maybe it could be developed into a gestural dance piece in which performers' movements are greatly amplified by the costume?



Weekend in review:

My gallery visit to the Rebecca Horn room at Tate Modern proved incredibly useful and branched off lots of ideas from our initial feather cape idea on Thursday. I was particularly inspired by the videos of her performance pieces and the various contraptions she had developed for the body, as they solidified the idea I want to develop further- rather than the project proposal being a garment object itself, it should be a gestural performance in which the wearer's movements are amplified by an accessory/garment/tool constructed around the feather design; perhaps with further final outcomes. I was most affected by her "Fingerhandschuhe" piece and thought about how feathers could be attached to the hands and then attempted to paint with- or the wearer could act out their habitual hand movements whilst attached to feathers dipped in ink.

I also read an interesting and essay on the textile applications of chicken feathers and how through thermal or chemical bonding they can be made into a renewable non-woven fabric- perhaps this could also somehow be incorporated into the feathers/amplify performance piece? It was very technical and probably had a lot more information than I actually need but was useful in explaining the feather structure of rachis, barbs and barbules.

I remain unsure about Chiharu Shiota and her link to my idea as due to the limitations of the internet and Tate Modern the majority of my research so far has been based around material and process, however and I'm confident that during our library session tomorrow we'll be able to find the neccessary book: "Walking in My Mind" by Mami Katoaka (including info on Shiota's background and work.)


Feedback from crit (post-it notes from peers)



Today's research in the library was pretty successful; we managed to find the neccessary books and photograph them with enough time to research other practitioners less obviously linked to our project - Alexander McQueen's process behind The Horn of Plenty was particularly enjoyable to look at.

Chiharu Shiota's artistic process of projecting (amplifying?) childhood memories into installation spaces was really interesting, as was Tzachi Zamir's writings on The Experience of Amplification, and it was these two resources in particular that seem to support the idea of a possible performance piece/installation using feathers on the body to create an overall outcome (or an immersive experience involving feathers?) rather than a garment or collection. However, having also loved looking the transformative qualities of the voluminous ruffs in Excess: Fashion and the Underground in the 80s and learning about the historical uses of plumage I feel split between possible approaches. I am experiencing a slight information overload having consumed so many different resources today which is possibly why I'm confused over which of the two ideas/paths to develop next, however I am happy to sleep on it and know that tomorrow I'll have thorough enough research to support either.



Working quickly to produce 30 ideas was really useful today- the idea I'm going to develop now incorporates the performative aspects (using feathers to amplify movement) as well as the non-woven textile I read about that can be made with thermofusion and chicken feathers. Firing off loads of experimental (perhaps too wacky?) ideas resulted in a successful one that I'm going to refine tomorrow in preparation for the proposal on Thurs.

Proposal for a collection of clothing made out of renewable fabric consisting of thermofused chicken feathers:

Large piece of plain white, non-woven fabric made out of thermofused chicken feathers. 9 chickens stand in 9 trays of ink/paint (with a different colour for each chicken.) The chickens have extra plumage (large feathers that are long enough to touch the floor/ink tray/fabric) attached to their tail feathers. A grid pattern of grain is laid out across the fabric. The chickens are released to roam around the fabric, their footprints leaving trails of paint/ink and the plumage leaving brushy strokes (amplifying the chicken's movements,) overlapping to create various shapes. Once all the feed is eaten the chickens are removed from the fabric and returned to their coop/natural habitat. The fabric is then cut up, following the lines/paths left by the chickens. The resultant pattern pieces determined by the chickens' movements are then used to make a garment out of renewable chicken feather fabric.

To do list: Find out the name/ properties of the non-woven fabric made from chicken feathers (can it be dyed? can it be painted on with ink/fabric paint/a liquid that could be transferrable via chicken's feet?) Lino cut of chicken feather print as an example of how the process could work; develop miniature models out of paper. Create a stop-motion animation using paper chickens and tracing paper to demonstrate how the performanc would work and then how the fabric would be cut/ made into a garment. Textural studies of chicken feathers (observational drawing from the natural history museum?)



While the results of the stop-motion animation were not what I'd hoped (more suitable for a GIF format rather than a video,) I produced some good paper models today and have a better understanding of how a textile made of bonded chicken feathers is actually produced (as well as its properties and potential uses/successes). My paper samples and flat work went pretty well, and tomorrow I am going to try making a fabric sample of the prints on a lay figure to see how the abstract shapes (created by the chickens' amplified movement) can be arranged on the body. My proposal is written up in full in my sketchbook, however I think I might also construct some form of storyboard to illustrate the process briefly on a single sheet of A2 card.


Final Reflection from 17/9/15


Final Proposal Presentation




Paper maquettes


Toile attempt on lay figure



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