Final Piece: Installation

 

I sketched and talked through several techniques for building the walls of the space with technicians. With their input, I decided on a two flat right angle structure with extra timber for bars as support. The particular way in which it was built required no drilling into the masonry, as the back wall was supported by being wedged in by the second flat which intersected it, and the second wall was drilled into a support timber, which itself was wedged and drilled into the first flat.

(instert sketch here)

 

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The acoustic foam worked like a charm, although at first a few of the squares were falling off overnight, though this was soon rectified by a stickier brand of carpet tape and topped off by adhesive glue. This worked much better.

After originally planning on utilising the strip lights within the room and affixing baking or tracing paper over the gap between the top of the flat and the ceiling to diffuse the light, I decided to try and purchase a light externally. I needed a clip-on lamp to clip onto the top of the flat which could be adjusted to point in the right direction. I also didn’t want the spread of the light to be too wide as this would hamper the experience for the audience.
I bought 2 bulbs of different lumens and colour balance (strength and warmth) to try out in the space, eventually opting for the warmer and less powerful of the two to create a more secluded atmosphere.

An issue I encountered was trying to keep the light and the sound from the outside corridor from leaking into the space. For the light, I landed on a curtain, which was black fabric hung from the ceiling two layers thick.
The sound that leaked in was possibly a larger issue, although it was reduced fairly significantly if the door remained closed, therefore for the degree show opening, I will affix a sign to the door asking for it to be kept closed, and that only one person should enter the space at a time.

If I had the budget or time, I would like to have been able to fully soundproof the room, although this was not possible on this occasion. Having the audience wear headphones as opposed to playing the sound through speakers does more strongly enforce the distinction between listener and outside world, with less sound leaking out, and less ambient sound heard by the listener themselves.

 

(instert final image here)

Research: The Listening Project

The Listening Project is a collaborative project between Radio 4, BBC Local Radio stations and the British Library. Its premise is poetically simple: one listens to, or perhaps eavesdrop on, to two people having a conversation with each other. They are short – around about 3 minutes long, and the conversationalists know each other beforehand, often friends, and sometimes family.

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There is never a prescribed topic or theme, and I don’t think there are rules (although I never hear swearing) so each conversation is not only unique but also doesn’t necessarily fit with any of the other conversations at all.

The low barrier to entry – anybody in the UK could have their conversation recorded, either in their nearest BBC Radio, or in their home – means that not only do you get a variety of topics that are more reflective of the population that a lot of what is often broadcast on Radio 4, but you also get people who are better reflect societal demographics in terms of age, in terms of class, and in terms of accent. Far from ‘BBC English’, on conversations in ‘The listening project’ often have a broad Black country, or Yorkshire, Glaswegian or Swansea accents. This is a breath of fresh air on Radio 4 the West Midlands accent, in particular, feels like home.

Although much of this makes it similar to ‘This American Life’, The listening project’ is distinct in several key ways: the lack of overarching theme, the absolute brevity, the immediate familiarity of the British context, accents and references. It’s collaboration with the British Library also lends it another element – that of the archival. The conversations will act as, and the project is designed in part to generate, something like ‘Time Capsules’. This links with the British Library’s recent exhibition of sound resources. I’m reminded in particular of a clip from the beginning of Radio Four’s ‘Today’ program on the day after the European Union Referendum. The conversations in ‘The listening project’ are also a piece of recorded oral history, but coming from and connected more directly with the general population.

What I gained from this:

  • Personal stories, even inane ones are interesting to listen to, even if the speaker may not be convinced of this fact. The resultant recorded audio can act as either direct oral recorded history for future generations, but even just connecting with a few now is a noble cause.
  • It was listening to podcasts and radio broadcasts like this one that has steeped me in personal storytelling which is reflected in my writing.

What I’m going to take forward:

  • An appreciation of the importance and value of oral history as well as the value added by a base of technical professional grade recording equipment and technicians

 

Research: This American Life

I’ve been listening to podcasts for several years now, and my absolute favourite has shifted during that time from a design podcast called ‘99 Percent Invisible‘ to a publication with a large following and space in general public media space – ‘This American Life’.

TAL_color2I’ve listened to it so frequently that the opening lines, almost always exactly the same, and almost always uttered by Ira Glass in similar but not identical intonation “It’s This American Life, I’m Ira Glass…”. He’s said it so many times and considers it almost an aside (judging from the credence he often gives it compared to the later part of the sentence – often the topic of the show) and rushes through it.

The format of the show is to choose one particular topic, for example, ‘Words You Can’t Say”, ‘In Dog We Trust’ or ‘Essay B’, and then present three separate stories, known as ‘Acts’ which are variations on the given theme for that week’s show. The stories are often journalistic, but could also be essays, memoirs, short fiction pieces, field recordings (such as stand-up comedy sets) and found footage.

Although the stories and they are most often known as stories regardless of media, do necessarily vary in the topic as well as tone, they are often intimate and enthralling.

This is the real strength of the show, the pieces tend to be around 20 minutes or so long, long enough to be substantial but short enough not to feel dragged out or overwhelming – the time limit is not strictly enforced, but it is an average and that balance of brevity vs substance works well.

What I gained from this:

  • I often connected strongly to the stories told in the show, especially if I share any of the same experiences, but still if I didn’t. It takes strength and courage to share, but from the perspective of a listener to this show, it is very compelling to the audience and they are thankful for it.

What I’m going to take forward:

  • The strength and compelling nature of  the personal, intimate stories convinced me that it was important to face the difficult topics that I wanted to make work about, not only as a catharsis for myself but hopefully to allow for that connection with the audience

PPD Talk – Art and the Law: Henry Lydiate

The talk given by Henry Lydiate, a partner at the “Creative Arts Business Consultancy” Henry Lydiate Partnership was an expansive and broad overview of Copyright for Art and Creative Enterprises.
The talk began by talking about the Berne Convention, a late 19th Century international copyright agreement which currently applies to all but 23 of the world’s 195 as well as a slightly snide list of those 23 countries.

Additionally, Lydiate listed all of the various media to which copyright protection applied — to which the short answer is most every medium (see below).
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Lydiate then address the various national updates and addenda to the “base” of the Berne Convention: most notably the US & The EU (plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) each having their own respective particular rules on top of the Berne Convention. As he then listed, one of the key variations was the length of the copyright – most often applied as years after the death of the author: post mortem auturis (pma)

Lengths
Authors:
Berne – artist’s lifetime + 50 years pma
EU + Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein 70 years pma
Columbia – 80 pma
Mexico – 100 pma

Lydiate peppered his talk with images and often cited case studies to illustrate his point and provide evidence of the framework in action.

Photo-by-Rob-McKeever

One of the case studies brought up by Lydiate was that of Richard Prince and the Gagosian Gallery and the works ‘New Portraits’. The work consisted essentially of screenshots of Instagram posts, printed onto canvas and then hung in the Fine Art Gallery.

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As he had detailed elsewhere, one of the exceptions to art copyright law: fair use. Designed for Educational Purposes, for commenting on, quoting or parodying a work, it was used here by Prince in a motion to dismiss the legal suit brought against him by Donald Graham. The ruling was in favour of the plaintiff, that is against Richard Prince – that his use of Donal Graham’s photograph did not constitute fair use.

What I took away:

  • The main thing I took away from this talk was that copyright in automatic right afforded to you after the creation of work. The caveats to this are for fair use, and if the work was not substantially original to begin with. There is also the possibility to licence the work with or without specific conditions, and to transfer or sell the copyright to the work

 

PPD: Greenfields Nursery Visit to Wimbledon

I and two other Wimbledon students assisted Rosie Potter in setting up a visit of the children from Greenfields Nursery to Wimbledon College of Arts.

The children were there for an afternoon workshop in the college’s Gallery, ‘Wimbledon Space’.

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We had previously visited the children at the nursery and spent a half a day not only spending time with and interacting with the kids but also talking to the full-time staff, the head and seeing the various activities in their schedule.

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For the day at the college, we had brought in a large amount of a material called ‘Zotek’ from a company called Zotefoam based in Croydon. The material was uniquely both malleable and rigid, came in several colours and was overall extremely versatile.

The children, in particular, took to the Zotefoam with total abandon: I was struck by how much they could do with it, from costume to structures to cladding. I was also struck by how little external stimuli or complex structure they needed to create work – the children were inherently playful, experimental and unrestrained.

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Moreover, the staff of the nursery were and are deserving of endless admiration, and I gained an enormous appreciation of their work. Keeping up with the energy of young children, day after day, as well looking out for their health and safety, managing complex and shifting social dynamics and all the other tasks entrusted to them is a mammoth undertaking. I managed some of it, with a large support structure of full-time staff and helpers on hand – and being honest, mostly I just played with them.

There is certainly a space for this kind of cross-generational creative outreach, as well as the incorporation of arts education from a young age. I saw first hand the dynamic creative space which this project, Rosie Potter’s project, engendered.

 

What I got from this:

  • Art projects and spaces that can be created for and with young children can be rewarding and engaging both for the participants and the creators, though they wouldn’t be possible without the tireless effort of nursery staff, helpers and volunteers. There is also something perhaps to be learnt from young children’s inherent playfulness and creative spirit.

Interim Show: Breaking Bread

For the Interim exhibition, I presented a piece entitled ‘Breaking Bread’.

IMG_0674I had been reading about happenings, here and here, and was intrigued by the idea of an art piece away from the formality of art, and the structures of an Artistic movement, I was frustrated by the levels of complexity and layers of

faux depth the art world could present at times. I was yearning for art to be about genuine human connection. I wanted to create something as dynamic as a conversation between two wildly different people.

The participatory aspect of a Happening means you are putting value into the work via your presence – and the culmination of this same value being added by each participant of the group leads to something greater than the sum of its parts: a group rather than a set of individuals. The participation allowed for an immediately dynamic and shifting art experience rather than a static art object. The piece fed off the natural richness of social dynamics and inclinations to bond, and using the social lubricant of food and drink – the work created a framework for these interactions. In this light, the artwork has become more than a passive object to be to be gazed upon, it is something to be experienced and has a mechanistic feedback loop of organic social interactions.

 

I looked into other artists who also want to open up this communication stream, Lucy Orta and her collaborative piece ‘The Meal’  was a particular source of inspiration for this event but I wanted to go beyond that, using my prompts, to open up a harder hitting discussion.

On sitting down at the table, each person would be sat directly opposite another participant with several things on the table between them – a large loaf of bread for sharing, some hummus dip, a selection of drinks and some ‘conversation prompts’ in 4 distinct categories:

  • Single Word Topics, e.g.  Depression, Soul
  • Hot Button Topics, e.g. Brexit, Gender Pay Gap
  • Questions, e.g. What is your fondest memory? What gives your life meaning?
  • Create Your Own Topic

 

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I designed these prompts to be hard-hitting, to delve further into social topics than polite conversation would normally dictate.

One of the key areas I’m interested in outside of my art practice is the intricacies and tension of politics. It’s a subject inescapable and ever-present. It rewards analysis and the building up of arguments, drawing on rationale and logic but also rooted in experience and worldview. This aspect is present in the work, but also acted as a catalyst – the divisive and fractured post-Brexit surrounding which the entire country found itself in could lead one to pessimism and isolation: this work was an attempt to fight against that urge and reconnect.

In another sense, the strength of this piece for me was how little it took for other people to open up to near strangers – opening up to others has been something I find incredibly difficult

  • What I gained from this:

Through this event, I reinforced an appreciation and understanding of how a simple act could prompt authentic connections; that I didn’t need anything overly complex to encourage people to share their intimate thoughts with another.

  • What I’m going to take forward:

What I want to take forward the most is the forming of connections between people, and utilising the impact storytelling can have to connect to each other’s narratives. I want to explore how much people can project and reflect upon their own experience instigated by the smallest external stimuli. Going forward I want to focus on creating a dynamic sharing piece and have myself be the catalyst.

I want to explore the unresolved tension of unspoken thoughts and probe deeper into the audience’s consciousness.