Field: Final Reflection

For field this year I chose ‘Did someone call the doctor?’ and ‘Athletes of the Heart’.

In my first term Field option, ‘Did somebody call the doctor?’, we were introduced to the world of PhDs both theoretically and from actual experiences. We heard from different PhD students and staff members, who each presented their diverse PhD studies and the routes they had taken. We were tasked to develop a research question we felt had the potential to be the building blocks of a thesis, which was then presented to the group. In developing my question, I chose to look back at my previous constellation essays, and determine common features and ideas, and then build upon them. My research question became ‘Should/could all ‘art’ be named based on the same classification system?’ i.e. ‘A Taxonomy of Art’.

My second term Field option was ‘Athletes of the Heart’. This was a more practical based project in which we collaborated to produce an abstract animation in response to an extract of a musical composition provided by Dan Soley, a student at the RWCMD. The composition was titled ‘Socialite’. It seemed like a daunting task, but through collaboration we could focus on just thirty seconds of the composition in each of our groups, making it more manageable. The abstract/experimental approach gave us great freedom to express how we personally visualized the music. However, the task parameters kept us from straying just enough so that the possibilities were not quite endless.

‘Did someone call the doctor?’ did not directly influence my subject work this year, however, I did receive a lot of information which was incredibly useful for my professional development. Before this project I had very little knowledge about what a PhD entailed and the different types of PhD’s you can do. I am still highly interested in pursuing a PhD in the future, however I feel a masters first, will prepare me and  help me decide if academia is the path I wish to follow. This project also aided my constellation work, improving my research and writing skills. Furthermore I chose to use the question I developed during ‘Did someone call the doctor?’ as my research question for my Dissertation Proposal. I found this area of research interesting but also challenging, as it required knowledge in areas I had never before researched. But the preparation I did for the question during field, put me in good stead for expanding and developing the idea into a proposal.

On the other hand ‘Athletes of the heart’ was a very practical based field group. The abstract, experimental approach to animation highly influenced my subject work, so much so that after Christmas I completely altered the aesthetic and ideas of my work. I went from traditional pictorial patterns, to abstract minimalist repetition using textiles. I continued the experimental approach, just changing the medium. Before Christmas the direction for my work unclear to me, but participating in ‘Athlete of the heart’ I believe refreshed my ideas for the better. I very much enjoyed learning about stop motion animation and definitely want to do more in the future. The repetitive nature of creating stop motion can clearly be related to the repetitive pattern themes found in my final subject work. I was going to do some more animation this year, however I ended up following a different path, I hope to come back to it next year.

Overall I found field to be both interesting and influential in the personal development of my practice.

 

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Exhibition – Jacobs Market

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Displaying work:

When given the opportunity of exhibiting in an abandoned house (Welcome House) or a traditional, white walled, gallery space (West Wharf Gallery), I chose the gallery. The primary reason being the accentuation of the minimal aesthetic I am trying to achieve.

On arriving at West Wharf for ‘set up day’ I had a few ideas of possible ways in which I could display my work. Initially the top of my list was to simply hang the knotted loop over the end of one of the separating walls, having it perch on the end, drape down and bundle on the floor. This would eliminate the need for additional fixtures, and minimize  contortion of the work. However, this was not possible due to the columns which anchored the end of each wall. Other options were to, staple the loop to a  wall (hiding the staples), arrange on the floor (however, I was really not keen on doing this because it made it look small and you lost the physical weight of the work), or hang from a hook or some thing else in the space.

There were a few small hooks already scattered around the space, however most were too small and awkwardly positioned. I temporarily hung the work on a small brass hook positioned, off-centred, above a window. I liked the height and light shining between the loops but, it looked out of place and made that area feel unbalanced.

I determined that this work could be displayed in a number of places. Having ruled out stapling it to a wall, due to the lack of negative space, in which you can peer through the loops. I waiting untill later in the day, when most other works were up, to observe and determine where it would best complement the space and existing works.

I chose to hang it above a different window, which was on the right as you walk into the gallery space.

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I chose a window because of the light and negative space; not being on a wall made the outcome feel more like a three dimensional object rather than a flat arrangement. I chose this specific window/space for a few reasons:

  • It was the only window positioned perpendicular to the internal walls, creating a more pleasing environment.
  • The outside view of the simple grey building, rather than lots of lights, felt like the more ‘minimalist’ option.
  • Plus the existing works displayed in that section were all brightly coloured paintings, and I felt my work brought a textural and monochromatic moment to the space.

I hung the knot loop asymmetrically, draping it along the windowsill. This created movement and volume.

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I am not one for naming my work, especially with this style where I am not representing a physical thing, but a mental idea/concept/way of thinking. However, since we were asked to label our work, I came up with ‘Knot Art’. It’s an obvious play on words but hints at the idea of how we think about art, whilst also being slightly descriptive.

 

Viewing Final Exhibitions: Welcome House & West Wharf

Welcome House and West Wharf as exhibition spaces were complete opposites. I found it interesting to observe the style and types of works which were specifically chosen to be displayed in each space. The atmosphere of Welcome House was raw, disjointed, in such a way that when you turned a corner you didn’t know what you might come across. This made for a more explorative experience, full of discovery. West Wharf on the other hand was far more ‘traditional’. I am very pleased to be part of what I believe to be a coherent display of contemporary fine art.

On viewing my work at the final exhibition (after also exploring Welcome House), I have determined that a larger loop/collection of knots and fabric, arranged as to almost cover the entire window, would have created a far more authoritative, engaging  display for the viewer.

The whole experience of displaying and observing was a great lesson in how to curate a space, making it coherent and yet dynamic. Due to the vast array of types of works on display I was able to learn how to display works different from my own, gaining skills and insights for future displays.

Knotted Fabric Outcome

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This outcome consisted of 34 strips of canvas, all knotted together, with the addition of 17 strips of muslin and felt, arranged alternitly to create a pattern of textures and knots to form a continuous loop. A never ending pattern.

All three fabrics were off-white, creating a neutral palette. This allowed the textural qualities of the fabric and their contortion into knots to take precedence. Inspired by Robert Ryman’s white-on-white paintings. Ryman’s art is about, and is itself, the paint on the surface of a material that is affixed to, or hung on, a lighted wall in a gallery or museum.

I also take inspiration from Eva Hesse, and Robert Morris to inform the upcoming external exhibition. Both have works which are hung and arranged to make the most of the natural drape of the materials. I intend to emulate this.

The idea to knot the fabric, came from not wanting to use any unnecessary fixings or materials, to construct the piece. Furthermore, I wanted the process of construction to be stripped back, to make a very mundane process and object the crux of the work, giving authority to the mundane. I chose to use a specific kind of knot, a Reef/Square Knot, which is a symmetrical double-knot, where the ends follow the path of the rope. I wanted to make a feature of the rough and ready ends of the knots, however the reef knot kept them following one path, and not interfering with adjacent rows.

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Exhibition: Disobedient Bodies – JW Anderson

Disobedient Bodies curated by Jonathan Anderson at the Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield.

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Anderson is a contemporary fashion designer,who explores the human form in art, fashion and design. He has constructed this exhibition, combining figurative sculptures by artists including Jean Arp, Louise Bourgeois, Lynn Chadwick, Naum Gabo, Barbara Hepworth, Sarah Lucas, Henry Moore, Magali Reus and Dorothea Tanning alongside fashion pieces by designers such as Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo of Commes des Garçons, Helmut Lang and Issey Miyake.

Anderson had the flowing to say, ‘This exhibition is not dictating to you, it is asking you questions. It is more about how you emotionally feel about looking at two things, beside each other.’ He continues, enthusing about the ‘dialogue’ between works, which don’t usually interact, and further more the subjective interpretation of that relationship by individuals.

In my opinion Anderson succeeded in constructing a visually intriguing environment. The exhibition space itself become an installation, with tall curtains forming mini pods within the space, allowing you to peer around corners and uncover the next interaction between works. Although containing primarily fashion pieces, the show gave me new perspective for what ‘clothing’ can be. Wareability was obviously not the primary concern, instead the ordinary was contorted to form completely impractical fashion sculptures, which questioned norms.

 

The most pertinent work/display for me was ’28 Jumpers’ by JW Anderson himself. As the name suggests the work was a collection of jumpers, however all were extensively elongated and suspended from the ceiling, crating a ‘forest of varying knit patterns and colours. ‘Anderson wanted to create a tactile experience, highlighting the importance of touch in understanding object.’

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Angela Bulloch

Angela Bulloch’s work takes many forms, but all manifest her interest in systems, patterns and rules, and the creative territory between mathematics and aesthetics.

‘Pixel Boxes’ have become her most familiar component: fabricated modular systems, primarily cubes, with plastic front screens that softly change and pulse between colors. These programmable illuminated boxes contain three fluorescent tubes capable of creating all 16 million colors of a standard computer screen.  Bulloch has insisted that she is not interested in technology for its own sake, but rather the ways in which people ‘interface’ with it and ‘what psychological effect this has’ (Bulloch in Bussel 1997, p.34).

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Many of Bulloch’s works are interactive in the sense that her patterns are controlled by the noises surrounding the works, such as visitors walking and talking.

‘The viewer is a collaborator in the sense that she defines, perceives the meaning in her own terms. This would happen anyway with any work, provided there is a viewer. What I try to do is make the fact of interpretation, understanding or perceiving part of purpose of the work itself.’

(Bulloch in Bussel 1997, p.31.)

Bulloch also makes ‘Drawing Machines’, which produce vertical or horizontal lines directly on the gallery wall.  In this case, the lines drawn change rhythm according to sounds produced by visitors.589.0

In Bulloch’s interactive works, pattern is to an extent unpredictable, ultimately determined by the random actions of visitors, who themselves have no choice but to ‘interact’ with the work.

‘one’s individual choices are more or less meaningless, because the system or structure has already defined the parameters of choice, even if they seem elective … The viewer is already framed within the work, whether one likes it or not’

(Bulloch in Bussel 1997, p.31).

Patterns and sequences can obviously be identified as a key part of these works, just by viewing the work itself, without any external information. The works speak for themselves.

Plastic-Three-Sphere-Cube-Triangle-RYB-close-upWest Ham - Sculpture for Football Songs 1998 by Angela Bulloch born 1966

Constellation Reflection

First year Constellation was insightful. My practical work, particularly Field, addressed many of the ideas discussed in the study sessions. To make progress I continued to recall and consider influential moments, integrating them into my practice.

This year I attended ‘Cognitive Futures’, which expanded upon ideas from one of my previous study groups ‘Creative and Cognitive Development’. Within ‘Cognitive Futures’ we considered alternative ways of thinking, focusing on critical design. We used critical theory to unpick how our eyes and minds analyze the world, specifically considering design and sustainability.

Week one, entitled ‘The senses mistrusted’, stood out most for me. I was particularly interested in perception and reasoning and the quote from Rudolf Arnheim’s ‘Visual Thinking’ in which he states, ‘A stick dipped into water looks broken’ (p.5). This is a simple idea, something that we encounter constantly, but at that time I hadn’t really considered how my mind processes my senses. Without an understanding of water and the solidness of a stick, we are incapable of coming to a reasonable conclusion. With the use of reasoning, we are able to establish truth. This first week brought about a new way of thinking, helping me approach later theories with a more open mind. I did sometimes find it difficult to interpret our discussions, in relation to fine art, but it was interesting to hear about creativity from a design point of view. I do not usually engage with design, and the knowledge I have gained has reminded me of the broad variations of creativity and its relation to the world.

Perception and Reasoning became the topic for my formative essay. I expanded the information I gained in the study session to discover how perception and reasoning interact with each other, our minds, bodies and surroundings. Although I do not feel this particular essay was the most eloquent, I did enjoy integrating studies that practically explored perception and reasoning, interpreting experiments to determine the most relevant and insightful elements. Upon reflection, perception and reasoning will undoubtedly play a part in my ongoing research, but not as the primary topic.

My first term Field option was ‘Did somebody call the doctor?’. We were introduced to the world of PhDs both theoretically and from actual experiences. We heard from different PhD students and staff members, who each presented their alternative PhD studies the routes they had taken. We were tasked to develop a research question we felt had the potential to be the building blocks of a thesis, which was then presented to the group. In developing my question, I chose to look back at my previous constellation essays, and determine common features and ideas, and then build upon them. My research question became ‘Should/could all ‘art’ be named based on the same classification system?’ i.e. ‘A Taxonomy of Art’.

My second term Field option was ‘Athletes of the Heart’. This was a more practical based project in which we collaborated to produce an abstract animation in response to an extract of a musical composition provided by Dan Soley, a student at the RWCMD. The composition is titled ‘Socialite’. It seemed like a daunting task, but through collaboration we could focus on just thirty seconds of the composition in each of our groups, making it more manageable. The abstract/experimental approach gave us great freedom to express how we personally visualized the music. However, limitations kept us from straying just enough so that the possibilities were not quite endless. I am not usually a highly collaborative person, but this year collaboration, within both Field and Constellation, has definitely helped expand my knowledge of areas I previously knew very little about. Within Field it was my animation and video editing skills which were increased. In Constellation working with designers, who approached tasks in a different way, caused me to analyze my own behaviour, which was evidence that what we are taught and the way we think directly corresponds with our actions. I found that Product Design students had a far more practical approach to certain tasks, whereas I was more theoretical, and wanted to discuss why something was a particular way.

Within Subject my interests lay in the repetition and process of creating sequences. Taking much inspiration from Minimalist/Abstract artists such as Frank Stella, Agnes Martin and Eva Hesse, I have been creating non-representational objects of pattern. I have primarily been working with textiles, finding a mix between the two-dimensional and the sculptural. Constellation has significantly improved my ability to research, which has consequently enhanced my contextualization.

The Keynotes this year have been highly informative, outlining the parameters of the dissertation, as well as providing a breakdown of how to go about writing a dissertation. The understanding I have gained has informed the writing of my dissertation proposal, and has prepared me for the third year.

When it came to developing a research question for my dissertation proposal, I was keen to pursue the question I had constructed for ‘Did somebody call the doctor?’, and consequently I already had a plan for the breakdown of this question, which was useful. However, as I began to more rigorously engage with the question, I realised that very little had been academically pursued concerning digital art databases. Therefore, I chose to explore related areas which would directly influence the building of an art database, in an effort to establish relevant avenues of study. I did not want to refine my question too much at this stage, because in researching a wider area I was able to ascertain which parts interested me most, and could be adapted next year.

Since finishing my dissertation proposal, my views on a potential art database have indeed changed. Originally, I was very positive about the concept of a Taxonomy of Art, however the more research I have done the more I have realised that, no matter how much was done to make a database work seamlessly the within the artworld, there would undoubtedly be restrictions and problems likely to negatively affect the inclusive nature of art. Subsequently, I have realised that I am far more intrigued by the secondary question within my proposal; ‘Could art have a common name and an ‘artistic’ name?’ I am interested in pursuing this idea further.

I enjoy finding links between Subject, Constellation and Field. Last year Constellation dominated the development of my practical work. This year it was more Field which established ideas for Constellation, and determined changes within Subject.