Almost at the end of my first term at uni. These past couple of weeks I’ve mainly been developing my studio work (in our Studio as Machine event), planning a group film project and working on our brief to ‘make a photograph of nothing’. Hmm. Art school am I right.
For Unit 2, there are two main threads I can identify within my practice. The first is me learning how to use the studio, and let myself be used by it in creating my work; this began in the project Studio as Machine, and I am still trying to develop this now. The second is an idea I have been working on since the beginning of November – “The Empress”, the idea of working as my 6th dimensional self, who controls all of the versions of me in the 6th dimension. This stems from my deep interest and research in M-Theory, spirituality, philosophy, and sacred geometry. Based off of the Empress tarot card, she represents the embodiment of female energy and creativity. Part of this stemmed from my personal tutorial, where I realized I focus too much on research (particularly scientific theories) in my practice, and not the making, the experimentation. I considered this in relation to sacred geometry, which is related to the idea of left and right brain thinking, with left being the “male” or “straight line” energy, and right “female” or “curve” energy; I believed that in my work I become too “male”, and needed to become more “female” – that is, less structured in my development and to learn by making. In the past few weeks I have produced a film about The Empress (beginning to learn how to use the recording and editing equipment available to me), worked onto the walls of the Studio as a kind of installation, make a proto-crown for her and thought about the idea of storytelling, using narration in my work (inspired by Walter Benjamin’s essay The Storyteller and Tacita Dean’s 2015 film Event for a Stage). The idea of the Empress as my higher self, and I am a story that she is telling, or perhaps one of her dreams; I have begun practicing Tibetan Dream Yoga, and recording my dreams by writing them down – my dreams as stories that I could perform or narrate. I have, this week, begun to think about how to unify these two threads. The studio could be considered as a dream realm, or a place where I write stories, my art being my stories or dreams, my lower self. Or perhaps myself as the consciousness of the Empress, and when I am in the studio, the studio becomes her body, as the body is the vessel for the great dream of life, and the studio is the vessel for dreams to manifest. These are ideas I will continue to explore in Unit 3. Artists and exhibitions that particularly influenced my work this term were based in film and installation; The Infinite Mix, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Embedded Souths (an online film screening), and Tacita Dean.
The Empress. Film, 3:00 minutes.
For our brief to make a photograph of nothing (which I think is an impossible task), I thought of nothing as the spaces in between things, considering the spaces in between dimensions, or in between Planck frames – the smallest unit of measurement, our experience of the 4th dimension being an infinite series of 3 dimensional Planck frames, as my research was very heavily related to M-theory. This space is beyond representation, as the Planck is 10^-20 times smaller than a photon, rendering it invisible as we need light to be able to see. This relates to the idea of a photograph – a light picture – as I consider seeing to be photography: we do not see objects, we see light. The pomegranate is a part of The Empress project – it is a symbol of fertility and is present on the tarot card; this is an attempt to integrate my own interests in the brief. It also reconciles the male and female energies of this picture – the split representing the space in between a Planck frame. The installation of this piece is a result of trying to print the photos, and not realising that they were automatically cropped. My initial reaction was anger, however instead of releasing it, or trying to fight it by fixing it, I went along with it, adding the middle photo as an index of a past relationship, an embodiment of a feeling I no longer have, that is perhaps nothing as it is no longer “real”.
I found the Studio as Machine event much more productive than the initial project – perhaps this is because I had opened up in my process of making. I continued on the work I started in the studio the previous week, working as “The Empress”, using wool from Poundland to finger knit. This was a fertile process/performance, as knitting is considered a feminine craft, and by using my hands I was growing the knit from my body, like an umbilical cord. The technique was very simple and I picked it up quickly after an initial failure, however I do not think I challenged myself here. Be More: stems from my desire to engage the right side of my brain ore, as I tend to be quite mechanical when I am creating. I expanded into the space of the studio, to see what would happen, as talking to my tutor made me realise I do tend to hide and compartmentalise my work – I don’t know if this is a reaction to my work, but someone wrote “Toilet” in the same tape. Projecting my film, The Empress, also turned into a kind of collaboration, as some people were doing a computer generated vocal performance whilst I projected it. There was a strange interaction between their audio and my glitched narration, like a conversation coming from the computers – one that was a recording of organic sound, the other a live artificial audio projection.
So there’s the end of term for me. I’m a bit annoyed that I’m missing my assessment as I’m flying to Australia on the day of it, but hey ho it’s my own darn fault, and I’m not complaining about having 4 weeks of summer. Limiting myself to 1 sketchbook and my camera as I am the world’s biggest overpacker, generally just looking forward to doing yoga, going on hikes, eating fruit and enjoying life. In January hopefully I’ll be super charged and ready to plough ahead with our film and Unit 3.