Here are scanned pages from my notebooks. Although all the vital contents have been rewritten onto this site, here they are in their original form.
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)
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)
For the Interim exhibition, I presented a piece entitled ‘Breaking Bread’.
I 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:
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
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 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.
I recorded the audio for my final piece in the sound room using the RØDE NT2 mics. The microphones had shock mounts to mitigate against noise generated by shaking and pop guards to mitigate overly loud plosive sounds (the word ‘POP’ for example with the P sounding like a small bang). I also recorded in the dedicated studio rather than outside as I wanted the crisp, clear recording this technique would give me.
Having recorded all the text in full takes, and sometimes repeating particular sections if I misspoke or if there was an external noise, I went through and extracted the sections I wanted to use based on the quality of the recording.
I used Adobe Audition to edit the footage. I used this particular software as it had the range of tools I required, specifically noise reducation and the large support community which would make troubleshooting easier and time effective when problems arose. It also has a range of useful tools when it comes to exporting – being able to select specific sections and export those as full files, and to specify exactly the format and the quality of the export, as well as settings such as mono or stereo.
Ambient noise reduction was a primary concern for the editing process as I wanted the final piece to be a clear voice with no interference. This involved capturing a Noise Print which gives a reference for the program as to what the unwanted noise sounds like on its own. This meant I could command the program to apply the filter to the entire audio file and remove the unwanted sounds.
In the second step of the Noise Reduction (process), when adjusting the strength of the Noise Reduction (a percentage) I had to strike a balance between removing hums and hisses and comprimising the actual voice footage – that which I wanted to keep. If I removed 100% of the noise using the Noise Print as a guide, the progam would accidentally remove key parts of the sound of the voice leaving it sounding tinny and hollow. Technically, the trouble was that the frequencies of the humms and hisses (the noise) that I wanted to removeo were the same as that of the human voice; my voice.
This balance of the strength and amount of noise reduction allowing for as much noise reduction as possible while still allowing for a full and rich sounding audio track without distractions.
I then placed the extracted segments of individual lines into a new single timeline that included all the audio I wanted from the two recording sessions. This meant I could treat all the individual excerpts as a whole piece of audio, and edit it to feel cohesive. This involved EQ balancing to normalise the volume and ….
I increased my knowledge of audio editing software. Particularly how to isolate sound to create an immersive atmosphere, allowing the contents of the piece to transcend the limitations of live audio and let the listener get lost in the story.
In future when recording I’m going to ensure the original recording is as close to perfection as possible so less editing is required. Editing is extremely time-consuming with diminishing returns and so ensuring a proper set up as early as possible would mean I could be as productive and efficient as possible and allow me to focus more on the content of the piece.
As part of the promotion and documentation of the Interim show and thanks to already knowing the marketing team from working as a student ambassador, I was able to host a takeover of the Wimbledon College of Arts Instagram.
The near 3,400 followers that the account had allowed us to get our work, and our own Instagram art account in front of a large audience and drive engagement (even if the viewing figures for the story itself were somewhat lower)
This helped to build the following of our own accounts, but also interest in the Print and Time-Based media course within WCA.
What I got from this:
During the Easter holidays, I made a trip to Paris and stayed in a hostel for nearly 2 weeks. Having spent the first 7 years of my life in France, this was the first time I’d been back for an extended period of time, and especially alone.
Broadly speaking, and the answer I would give if anybody asked, I was going to improve my French. Again, I basically hadn’t spoken it for a decade and a half – and if I had it was so far removed from the context of the everyday: think Midlands schoolkids bashing their way through ‘je joué au foot’.
It was different this time.
With my notebook already armed with key phrases that seemed half familiar, and a map of the Paris Métro that did not, I stepped off the train and out of the gates of the Gare Du Nord.
The first thing I noticed was the cold, the remnants of the beast from the east. The second was the bustle – almost but not quite matching London. Finally, the militarisation struck me. Soldiers, honest to god soldiers with semi automatic rifles and camo gear guarded the station, alongside the equally kitted out Police.
On the second or third day, my bag gave up the ghost. This led to the first big test of my french. It was a step by step process. In the glasses store that I walked into in order to ask where I could buy a – I guess I didn’t actually know the word for bag, so I mimed enthusiastically, using props (obviously I could convey what I wanted fairly well – it was just the vocabulary that escaped me). The attended kindly pointed me down the street towards the main shopping district, carrying on down the Rue la Lafayette. The behemoth that is the Galeries Lafayette soon greeted me, and I slinked around in awe and only slightly disoriented. After finally finding a section that sold ‘sacs’, I looked through a few and picked one out. €129. Yeah. No. Again fumbling for vocab, I tried to convey that I was looking for a bag that perhaps ‘moins’ – I rubbed two fingers and thumb together. Ah, d’accord, moins cher, he replied. He suggested ‘Citadium’ – une autre boutique.
As it turned out Citadium didn’t have the type of bag I was after either, but having to visit it and several other stores before ending with joy in the Decathlon at la Madeleine cemented basic interactionary French in the front of my mind, and having the such a specific task did frame my interactions in a way which made it a lot easier to pick up words and gleam meaning from context. I would definitely recommend it as a way to jump back into a language after a long time away.
Millie, our one-woman film powerhouse, has been working on a third edit of ‘Milk’, and I have been there to advise and offer input.
One clear new direction was the involvement of a new composer and sound director, Guillermo, who reached out via a mass email looking for projects to work on. I met Guillermo, showed him the film as it stood and we discussed where we wanted to go from here and what was needed to be done.
Yesterday, he came back with his first edit (not yet finished). It was fantastic – a huge elevation in the overall tone and storytelling potential of the film. Through music composition, some foley, new overlaid ambient sound and a few other tricks, the film now stands on a whole new level.
There is still work to be done, and I’m meeting him this afternoon to give him some notes, however, they are really minor tweaks here and there – with the exception of the long conversation (scene 6); I think it’s missing something that I just can’t put my finger on.
What I got from this:
According to Millie and Lorene’s schedule, it sometimes seems that they think the only thing that needs doing with sound is just syncing it with the footage and then dusting your hands for a job finished.
I guess this is a vaguely understandable belief to have if you’ve not worked with sound files or editing sound files before. However, I made sure that they do have access to exactly the same sound files as me. I know they are very focused on the visuals of the film and esp. the colour grading – which is fab, I love colour grading – but I wish they would stop treating sound as an afterthought.
This is very annoying. Especially when I had to fight so hard on set to capture decent sounds thanks to locals still being in the pub, and I had to pour so much work into Roll 6 (the main scene) in order to get the sound as crisp as possible with a controllable amount of background noise. To do this for every take will be a whole load of time thrown at it, which is something I don’t have while I still don’t have a cut of the film.
I’m sure they will realise once they hear the film synced with just the raw sound files, most of them completely untouched.
What I got from this:
I asked Lorene and Millie for a cut of the film as it stood so far.
I knew they were working on colour grading, but if the film needs the sound done sooner rather than later for the 1st cut, I needed to start before they finished colour grading.
I, therefore, asked Lorene for a full cut of the film as it was so far.
I asked what a “10 bit one” was. I then told her the stills would probably work, as it seems like it was causing her difficulties to sent them a render of the whole film.
This, as I learned later, was a mistake on my part.
She sent me a list of the shots:
so I made corresponding folders ready to receive the stills and dump the relevant sound files in the folder. It was labour intensive – for no real reason, and that labour could have been saved. That was a little frustrating.
As well, the stills were in DNG format! Large and unfriendly. I could turn them into jpegs, but that’s incredibly labour intensive.
The stills turned out to be a little useful, but only really for reference as to whether the sound was for the right shot, which it should have been, but as stills, they were not hugely useful even for this simple task.
I could not get to work.
This is why ‘Data Wrangler’ is a job, to separate the grunt simple file processing with the actual creative process of editing and mastering files.
What I learnt from this: