Semester 3 Summary, June 2013

The goals that I had set myself, at the end of residency 3, for this semester were:
·       To formulate an outline for a thesis and produce work towards that end.
·       To explore time-based/film and audio work further.
  • To experiment with displaying work in unconventional ways.

Below, I will discuss briefly how I have addressed these areas:
Formulating an outline for a thesis and producing work towards that end
I will only list the topics that I have studied this semester as the complete thesis outline will be submitted separately.
In my first essay, I looked at the Gothic as an aesthetic representing “otherness” relative to its cultural and temporal context. In particular, I read about the more specific term  ‘The Female Gothic’ originally describing Gothic texts written by women, as an expression of their entrapment within the patriarchally constructed confines, which has shed its somewhat essentialist notions in the contemporary interpretation.
In the second essay I researched how elements of the Gothic genre are incorporated into the work of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. Their work employs such Gothic cues as locations like the Eastern State Penitentiary, or Jack the Ripper’s neighbourhood in London, themes of scary childhood memories, abduction, references to being blind-folded, naked and watched, dead bodies, fragmented narratives, science fiction and haunted houses in theme parks, themes of madness, the subconscious, eroticism, sexual violence, terror and darkness. Jerry Saltz calls Gothic art “campy, corny, nostalgic… [where] cheap thrills and clichés predominate”, so it was crucial to learn from Cardiff and Miller, whose art surpasses any stagnant tendencies with its inventive, multi-sensory and technologically sophisticated components.
In my third paper I proposed an artwork based on my interest in concepts of the subversive and occult, the dramatic, chthonic, abject, sensuous and excessive, the exotic, evocative and escapist, and ultimately “otherness” and all its insubordinate hybrids.
I really appreciated my mentor Janet Cardiff’s advice on combining theory and artwork for my thesis show:
“You have to be aware that language and theory are two different things. Artists may fall into trying to illustrate the theory... theory makes you think but you must trust your intuition... The art world gives a lot of kudos to artists who can talk well, but so often it’s about mystery and magic.” 
Exploring time-based/film and audio work
Many of the issues that I worked on this semester were based on Janet Cardiff’s detailed and very specific feedback. Primarily, we focused on: sound, image and timing.
  • It is very much like visuals and juxtaposes the same way that it creates images
  • Should progress and morph into something (eg become more intense)
  • Use it to manipulate
  • successful : “it sounds sexual and goopy – very physical and bodily, messy and yucky” – ‘Window’ video
  • Consider extending the sound so that it becomes more present and becomes a character
  • Can be used to make work “camp”
  • Consider bringing in your own voice
  • Audio can be very powerful in terms of meaning
  • Music has a very emotional and defining effect
  • Using excerpts of other peoples’ music, like a DJ uses, is fine
  • Surrealists have very interesting sounds in films

  • When you look through a telescope…, there’s this intimacy, there’s a texture
  • Have some areas out of focus and then bring some other areas in. Work with the light and shadow so that some areas are highly lit
  • Consider exploring abstraction of the paint mixing with forms
  • Push the erotic (eg. maybe have your hands in there - Rodin’s sculptures are so erotic)
  • Video is a visual language, so it’s important to think about balance
  • Looking through an oval, through tubes,... the viewer… likes to be focused
  • The format of the video is very strong, like painting, it’s something that’s invisible
  • In videos, think about progression, the audience wants to discover something by itself and get enticed into figuring something out
  • In art there is an exchange between the viewer and the artist, the artist gives something, the viewer takes and sometimes if they feel short-changed then it’s not a complete interaction or exchange.
  • Like in a story, the ending is so important, if you give too much there’s an anti-climax and if you give too little, then the audience is also having a disconcerting response…
  • Refine the pacing
  • Success: black blob comes a bit closer to you, it actually creates an emotional effect
  • Juxtaposition put two images or sounds together and create an effect. Triptychs work better than diptychs when it comes to doing that sort of thing
  • Try sitting quietly and imagine sounds you can think of and then sense which one gives you a good feeling with the other element

  • Art can be engaging in ways that can’t intellectually be understood necessarily
  • ‘Feminism’  should be approached very inventively
  • Consider Angela Carter’s ‘The Bloody chamber’ and the way she brings The Gothic and Feminist theory together 
  • Consider Mona Hatoum’s investigations of the body and her sculptures which are very Gothic and very sophisticated
  • Consider having a mixture of pleasure and danger

Experimenting with displaying the work in unconventional ways
  • Consider ways that you can use the object (sculpture etc…) and setting up devices... say a camera that is focused in really closely to the object (which could be on a turntable) or maybe if you have a microscope or a lens or a magnifying glass or something located on it
  • Sometimes different pieces require different presentations
  • For your thesis show have a really dark room and a very good quality projector
  • Consider having the videos on a showreel and blackness between them and some sort of sound between... maybe of your body making noises as if you are setting up different sets
  • Consider if they will be small projections or monitors? Will it be just the monitor? Or will it be in an installation setting? Will they be all in a sequence?
  • Presentation is tricky because it adds a lot of content

In her last feedback on this semester’s videos, Janet gave me quite a few things to think about. I plan to continue developing and refining all of the elements mentioned above and to include the following:
  • Ironically after being told your videos are too long now, the endings all seem to be a little too soon
  • Success: I really like the disjunction of the sound being rain water with the image of the pouring
  • Success: It is very interesting seeing the shadow coming in on the right and waiting to see what happens with that
  • Success: I like the sound of movement in the darkness at the centre of the piece  
  • I like the mystery of that sound of the water being heated *when you record something like this you should set the level at the loudest point before you record it
  • With more practice I think you will get a better sense of timing
  • Success: I like the laughter of it a lot
  • Sometimes whispery voices can become cliché
  • It might be a nice contrast to have the talking voice separate at one point so you can hear it. This could also be done with presenting the different voices on different tracks and different speakers
  • The sound could be just with black and you could develop it as a separate piece if you had more narrative. The narrative that I was able to hear sounded quite interesting... did you write it?
  • Vary the timing of the editing

Personally, with the exception of a couple of videos (eg “ghostly”) I am thinking of showing them on a small scale inside labyrinthian boxes which would hold other (reflective) objects (including some of the sculptures I've made) so there will be partial obscuring and distortion. I have also thought about having holes and lenses through which the objects and screens would be scrutinised - to really enhance that "texture of intimacy" that I initially talked about with Janet. I think I would prefer the audience to use headphones rather than have speakers, but I may change my mind.

Word count: 1383
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