Artist Research

How artist research has influenced the process of me making work:

Ed Kienholz

Kienholz engages the audience with his installations by incorporating life size figurative sculptures and physical scenes that engulf the viewer and forces them to consider certain truths about society. For example in his 1965 piece ‘The Beanery’ Kienholz tackles ideas to do with time. He uses the setting of a bar that was popular with celebrities in LA around that time. Kienholz uses figurative sculptures with clocks as the faces all set at exactly the same time, to symbolise the wasting of time that happens when people go to a bar.

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The Beanery 1965 – found objects and casts

Kienholz’s use of figures in an installation to talk about a certain short coming in society has helped me become clearer about the way that I am planning on using figurative sculptures to comment on what I believe to be a shortcoming in our society at the moment. As my project is about Altruism, and I have been looking into the systematic denial of our society to accept that as humans we all have natural instincts that may contradict living a perfectly selfless life.

Furthermore, Kienholz’s  selection of the found objects that he used are meticulously chosen to link with the themes behind his installation as the dirty and gritty objects that he found in junk yards symbolise the dirty gritty society that he felt he lived in and was trying to present. The way that he has combined particular found objects with self-made casts has also inspired me to think about how pieces that I have made can be combined with specific found objects.

Below are photographs of my final installation, I have incorporated different pieces that I have made myself like bones made out of clay, and found objects, this combining of found objects and hand crafted items came from the direct influence of Kienholz, who employed the same method in his piece ‘The Beanery’ creating a unique composition. I, in turn employed a similar process of creation combining found objects with hand made piece. Although the aesthetic is very different to ‘The Beanery’ the combination of these different types of materials has created the same type of  unique atmosphere, of figurative sculptures interacting in a social way.   

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Kienholz has added atmosphere and life to his installation ‘The Beanery’, by having a sound clip that plays on a loop with ‘clinking glasses and laughter’, the addition of the sound creates a more all-encompassing environment for the  audience as they are forced to use another sense rather than just sight, which can create a more immersive situation. For my own installation I have been influenced by Kienholz’s use of sound, as I want to try to incorporate sound into my own piece to bring the figurative sculptures to life and create an immersive environment. I want to incorporate sound that is various different people talking about their opinions on helping others and how they feel about the concept of altruism, to correspond with the figurative sculptures that are representing these different types of people in visual way.

Isa Genzken

I thought to mention Isa Genzken, whose assemblage sculptures often explore the way that certain aesthetics in society correspond with social and political ideals at that time. I think that her work has given me inspiration, to do with the composition of my installation, as I am keen to present certain aesthetics through each of the 8 individually assembled sculptures that would suggest to an audience the type of person that the sculpture is trying to represent.

Like in Genzken’s piece ‘Schauspieler’ (2013) she has used multiple mannequins as a base with objects added so that all of the mannequins are assembled in different ways, therefore presenting different ideas for the audience to consider about each sculpture and how that could be a wider comment on society. All of the pieces individually have suggestive element to them, which then allows the audience to try to read between the lines and interpret the gaps to then discus complex topics. I would like to in a similar way create all of my sculptures so that they are suggestive instead of giving the answer straight away, which forces the audience to pay attention to each element and suggestion of each object and about what each sculpture is representing.                                                                                                      Image result for isa genzken schauspieler

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Additionally, Genzken’s placement of each of the mannequins so that some of them are by themselves and some of them look like they are engaged in conversation, is another crucial element that contributes to the success of the piece, and I think that from Genzken I have noted and am prepared for the importance of the composition of all of the sculptures and how they will appear individually but also how they will all interact with each other.

Image result for isa genzken schauspieler  ‘Schauspieler’ 2013 – found materials 

 

Yinka Shonibare

In Shonibare’s piece ‘Gallantry and Criminal Conversation’ (2002), he presents the insatiable sexual appetites of young European socialites from the 17th and 18th century, when they would go on the ‘Grand Tour’- seen as central to the education of a young aristocrat at the time. The presentation of life size fiberglass mannequins with no heads, in compromising sexual positions with the luggage around them used as props, suggests the openness of their debauchery, which contradicts the traditional societal ideals of the time, when equate and polite, demure social interaction was publicly accepted and ravenous  sexual appetites were not. As independent art critic Janet Batet commented in a review for Art Pulse, ‘sensuality and flirtation have been replaced by stark libido’. In this piece Shonibare is bringing to the fore natural/ instinctive activity that would have been kept behind closed doors and would not have been outwardly accepted within societal norms.

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‘Gallantry and Criminal Conversation’ 2002 – Fiberglass, African Dutch wax fabric

I feel as though this idea of a completely instinctual way of being and feeling, that is shamed by wider society but that Shonibare wants to address and bring to the fore has inspired and given myself clear direction to the way in which I want to present my thoughts on altruism.

Many people are perhaps instinctively/naturally greedy and are not capable of selfless acts, but society denies this and has made me want to confront the deep routed hypocrisy in modern society as people continually try to deny their natural greed, by celebration or public acknowledgment of any act they have done to help another who is in a less fortunate situation.

Like Shonibare, I would like to create a figurative piece that discusses deep routed hypocrisy within society.

I am also taken with the visual duality of the clothes Shonibare’s headless figures wear as the contrast of the Victorian style which is traditionally physically constricting, with the African fabric which in recent times has become synonymous with African identity and independence, connotes the duel personalities that individuals living in a society that accepts some human behaviour and not others are forced to adopt. As Batet said ‘Shonibare’s characters reveal the agonizing condition of a human being caught between two cultures’ but as I see it, there is a sense that he is presenting more than just teetering on the edge of two cultures, but he is also suggesting that humans are forced to teeter on the edge of their natural instincts whilst conforming to what ‘sophisticated’ society expects of them.

Like Shonibare using the clothes to represent this duality in society, I wish to use physical elements of the human body like skin, bone and hair, contrasted with found objects like clothes, jewellery and food to suggest the ways in which humans feel societal pressure to be as selfless as possible and ‘fit in’ represented through the clothes and other objects that people outwardly identify with in public, whilst underneath all of the materialism still being animal and still being made of flesh and bone, therefore having natural instincts.

Above are photographs of pieces of the sculptures, that I created that show off the use of elements of the physical human body, the pieces of spine stacked one above another, with a piece of metal running through to keep the spine up.

The other photograph show a casted latex  nipple  combined with a peach coloured pillow with a ruffled border, this seamless combination of skin and found object, along with the spine screwed onto the bar stool present the aesthetic contrast of the human body and the materialist elements that surround the human body this contrast being inspired by the the way in which Shonibare presents contrast through his selection of clothes for his fibreglass mannequins with the style contrasting the material they are made from, which in turn is a comment on the way that humans are forced to balance their lives within society. 

Vanessa Beecroft      

Beecroft is mainly a performance artist who focuses on creating work to do with body image and how this relates to modern society, especially to do with eating disorders, which she herself suffered with. What particularly interested me about this artist in relation to my work is the way that she uses marble, inanimate sculptures of the female form, interspersed with real women adopting the same positions as the sculptures in her 2011 piece ‘VB67’. This combination brings to the fore all of the similarities and differences between a real human and a marble/plaster interpretation and how the two link together presenting Beecroft’s discussion of the female form in modern society. I think that I can take the idea of comparing two types of entity and matter in my own installation that are linked in many ways but are also very different and can therefore create an interesting discussion about the topic of altruism and acting selflessly vs acting of greedy natural instincts. For my installation I wish to compare physical human elements that I have hand crafted like skin and bone (made from clay and liquid latex) with sourced materials and objects that suggests the use of materialistic objects for a person to present an outward persona to society.     

 B. Wurtz

In Wurtz’s work he focuses on using ‘ordinary’ objects and materials, like shoelaces and plastic lids for tins, to express his belief in the true power and interesting nature of these seemingly plain objects, as he focus on ‘food shelter and clothing’ suggesting that what more do humans really need to feel happy in life? After watching a Baltic Bites video in which B.Wurtz discusses his work he says at one point that a lot of found objects that other artists will use already have an intrinsic uniqueness or identity and so he said ‘they are already too interesting’ and ‘there is nothing really I can do with those’. I think that this philosophy that B. Wurtz implements when choosing objects to use and create sculptures with, is something that I definitely want to take into consideration, as I do not want my sculptures to stand out because of individual objects that are incorporated into them, I would rather that they were much more ordinary and could encapsulate a wide range of people without giving way a very specific or particular identity.

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Untitled (pan paintings), 1993/2002, Acrylic paint on aluminum

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Bunch #4, 1996 – metal, wood, wire

Bruce Conner    

I looked at Conner’s piece ‘Child’ (1959-60), which is tackling the controversial topic of execution in the USA. Conner made this piece in particular relation to the criminal Caryl Chessman, who was sentenced to death by gas chamber in 1948 for kidnapping. This sentencing was extremely controversial at the time.

The reason why it seems important for me to mention this piece is because of the composition of the piece. The distressed, grotesque figure in the chair at the moment of execution would most likely pull focus to the viewer, however the crudely build child’s chair (almost the shape of a high chair for babies) I think is where the success of the piece lies or at least heavily contributes to the overall impact as the type of chair that it is and the fact that it is so childlike speaks volumes within itself.

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‘Child’ 1959-60 – Wax, nylon, cloth, metal, twine, and high chair

Like Conner has done, I want my bar stool to be able to present the emotions and life of the figure that the sculpture is representing without the need for much else to express it, so that the chair can truly be a part of the sculpture. 

As Conner’s ‘child’ piece is so simple yet the chair is integral to gain an emotional response from the viewer, as it gives so much away about the type of figure that would sit on it. In the same way that the bar stool I want to use does not need many objects added to it to make it complete as the bar stool can tell an audience what type of person would sit on the chair because of the type of chair that it is. 

 

Joseph Kosuth     

I looked at Kosuth’s piece ‘One and Three Chairs’ (1965). This piece consists of a physical chair, a photograph of that chair and a printed letters definition of the word ‘chair’. The reason why I thought that this could link to my project is because Kosuth had chosen these objects – representations of chairs – to spark a discussion into which one is the most important, and also creating a new meaning for the chairs. I think that it is significant that he has chosen representations of a chair as the object in question as this object does not have the most outward excitement for a viewer or philosophical importance in society and is simply seen as a functional object by most humans, however Kosuth has created deep importance around the object due to the selection of three different version of the same thing. In the same way that I wish to suggest the deep importance of the chairs that I am going to use in my sculpture, and how even the most subtle difference between one chair with another can be important.

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‘One and Three Chairs’ 1965 – Found objects, a photograph, a physical chair and printed letters 

Joseph Beuys 

Joseph Beuys’s 1964 piece ‘Fat Chair’ expresses a lot of important ideas about how humans exist within society, through the use of a plain chair with a mountain of fat on top which was given until 1985 to decompose. The fat on the chair presents an abstracted human anatomy, and the decomposition process of all of the fat mirrors the way that humans metabolise fat in the body to be able to carry out day to day functions.

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‘Fat Chair’ 1964-85 – wooden chair and fat 

I have found with this piece, like when I was looking at Bruce Conner’s piece ‘child’ that the way in which a simple chair can hold so many human attributes, which helps when discussing such complex philosophical ideas about society and human interaction whilst keeping an aesthetically simple sculpture as the chair can contain so may figurative characteristics when used in the right way through art.

Look at this piece ‘Fat Chair’ it has reinforced to me the fact that I want to keep my sculptures as uncluttered with found objects as possible so that each of the chair can truly be a part of the sculpture and suggest figurative elements of the person that it is representing.

Marcel Duchamp    

I think that as I am planning on choosing ‘readymade’ objects to bring together to make a sculpture, to discuss an idea to do with society, it was important for me to look at Marcel Duchamp, who was the first artists to speak out about his beliefs about art being an intellectual pursuit and that the idea and the concept should always be favoured over the visual pleasure of a piece. He controversially started making art work that was made out of carefully selected mass manufactured objects, like a urinal and a bicycle wheel for example, so there was not skill to the artwork in the traditional sense of the word.

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‘Fountain’ 1917-1964 

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‘Bicycle Wheel’ 1951 – metal wheel mounted on painted wood stool

It was Duchamp who I looked at who first made me think about the fact that the topic that I am tackling in this project is so conceptual that the best way that I could possible present my ideas in a physical way would be through an installation comprising of various different chosen objects that are ‘Readymade’.

Robert Gober

I particularly like the way that Gober combines domestic scenarios with very physical human element of the body, to create discussion around political and sexuality. I would like to incorporate very physical human elements into my sculptures whilst combining them with materialistic element of clothing and pieces of furniture like the chairs.

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Untitled beeswax, pigment and human hair

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Untitled, 2009-2010, Plaster, beeswax, human hair, cotton, leather, aluminum pull tabs, enamel paint

These photos show how I was directly inspired by Gober, when creating my own work as I have created a figurative sculptures that incoperates domestic (deck chair) and materialistic (tie and shoes) elements, whilst also containing black synthetic hair that I have sewn into the tie to help strike the visual contrast between the bodily hair and the domestic objects, this contrast of objects then allows conversation of more complex societal issues in the piece. 

Week 6

In the first week back after Easter, now that I have all of my chairs painted white, I have begun to turn to all of the sculptures that I wish to create, and what I want to incorporate within them.  I turned to artist research to help try to inspire my ideas.

Firstly I looked at Marina Abramovic, who is a performance artist who uses her body as a medium for the art. I wanted to look more in depth into why Abramovic allowed the public to pick from a table of different objects (including a loaded gun) and then let them do whatever they liked to her. I am inspired by the way in which she breaks down the societal barriers in her work and forces people to stop thinking within the bounds of society if they want to interact with her work using her body is a vessel to help connect with people on levels that they are not accustomed to in normal society. I think that the very physical use of the human body has helped inspire my own work as I am very keen to represent the physical presence of the human body in my sculptures, for example with the bar stool I would like to connect a spine coming out of the stool. I want the human physicality to be an unavoidable truth when people see the installation with all of the chair together.

To make the spine I first took reference photographs of a model skeleton in particular focusing on the spine. I obviously want the spine that I make to be a representation, and not a direct copy of an actual human spine. The spine has lots of different small parts connected together and there is also a natural bend in the spine. I bought some air drying clay and started experimenting with how I could make each of the piece of the spine. When I had come up with the shape of each piece I started to make lots of them all varying in size. I then used acrylic paint to first paint then white and then paint them with another layer of an off white cream colour that I had mixed together with the paint, to give the bone a deapth and add a realistic quality.

I then went to the technician and melted and bent a piece of metal so that it had a similar curvature to how you might find a spine. Attaching the metal to the bar stool had to be a well thought out process as I ended up using a block of wood that was screwed to the stool which I could slide the metal in and out of. Once the metal was on all I had to do was slide the pieces of clay that I had made onto the metal and they would stack up.

I am pleased with how the spine has turned out, because I think the simplicity of the piece is very effective and the combination of the tall bar stool with the spine coming from it appears very balanced and the piece has that undeniable  human quality to it whilst also being so simple.

I wanted to incorporate bones in another one of the chair sculptures as it was so successful with the bar stool and the spine. I decided to use the wicker chair as I had already decided that I wanted to draw from the reference photos of the working class woman; her brightly varnished nails clutching an oversized mug of tea. I think that this one element can suggest so much about a person. I thought that it would be a good way to incorporate the bone as a sceletal arm bone attached to the chair at the angle her arm would be if she was clutching a cup of tea, I also bought some bright pink acrylic nails to place onto the mug where her fingers would be. Originally I was going to use a large mug that said ‘hug  in a mug’ as I think that that phrase holds a lot of connotations of average decor in an average house, which has signs like ‘home is where the heart is’, however I ended up thinking that this was too over complicated and could become confusing to someone viewing the work, as the link was slightly too tenuous, so I used a plain white mug instead.

I used the same kind of air drying clay like I had used for the spine, although it took a couple of attempts to get the arm bone to the standard that I wanted it.

I do think that this piece is relatively successful, however it does not possess the same natural simplicity of the spine and the bar stool combined because it does not possess same balance of objects however, overall I am pleased that I was able to incorporate another representation of human bone into my work.

Now that it has come to the end of week six, I am pleased that I have been able to incorporate representations of  human bone into two of my pieces , as I think that it has been a successful venture as the presence of the bone forces the viewer to consider the human form whilst coupled with the sound of peoples opinions towards helping others and conforming to societal norms.

Week 4 

On the the first week of the Easter break I decided to focus on collecting interesting opinions and ideas surrounding supporting charities and how different individuals would prioritize one group over another. I wanted to collect sound clips that I could then bring together to complete my installation.

I used the research and data that I had collected earlier in the project to compose questions to ask different people and also record their voice whilst I was doing this.

The first question was:

‘Do you prefer giving or receiving a gift?’

With this question I wanted an opener that people would find more straightforward, and although the question does not give me any responses that directly speak altruism, as both choices involve emotion as you are choosing which one makes you feel better, the question can give a suggestion of the type of person that you are talking to as the answers suggest how people like to see themselves or how much they care about others gratification and feelings.

The second question that I asked was:

‘Would you prefer to give money to a charity supporting animals or a charity supporting humans?’

The purpose behind this question was to see if each person would be more likely to participate and take an active role in the community versus favoring much more individualistic values, as from my initial research, it seems that those who are more involved in a community or group of people are much more likely to support human charities whilst those who are more on the outside are much more likely to favor animal charities, for example, according to the Guardian newspaper and the list of the 1000 most donated to charities, the Donkey Sanctuary received £18.5 million which makes up most of its income ‘in legacy giving from supporter’s wills.’ Therefore I felt like this was also an important question to ask as it addresses how people view community and everyone helping each other in society, however this question is not 100% asking people if they like being a part of a community or not, it is simply an indicator a lot of the time.

The third question that I asked was:

‘If you had to pick only one charity to support and give money to, which charity/ organisation would you choose and why?’

The reason that I choose a much more open ended  question as the last scripted question is because I wanted to try to see the variety of answers that people may give which means that I can potentially get a variety of different responses.

Deciding who to ask, and thinking about the range that I wanted and needed meant that I did decide to go out on the streets and ask as many people as a could and as wide a variety of people as I could. I am aware that one of the main drawbacks of this project is the fact that the premise behind it means talking to as many people as I can from all socioeconomic backgrounds, all genders and all ages, which can add a lot of variables into my research that I can not necessarily control. I traveled down south to Kent to see family which meant that I was able to talk to my Grandma and my Nanna, and ask them all of the questions that I wanted to, I also took photographs of everybody that I spoke to, like the photograph of my Grandma, which I will use as a reference point to help inspire one of my installations.

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I also spoke to some men in a premier inn Beef Eater who were sitting by the bar. I also had a long and in depth conversation with my Uncle, who lives in Lincolnshire and is also fairly wealthy. I found that the middle aged men that I asked often had very similar answers, and so I decided that for one of my installations I could combine the middle aged men into one category, as they all believed that they would rather support an animal charity over humans as humans are able to ‘help themselves’ and they all said that they would rather give a gift because they have the resources to get all of the materialistic things that they could want or need in their lives.

When I came back to the north at the end of this week I spoke to a woman who works at a Bargain Booze, and I learnt a lot about her priorities about supporting and helping others which can always directly come back to the fact that she is fiercely protective of her children, and anything that she would do to help others would have steamed from something she had done to help her children. I also spoke to her son who is 11 who said that he would want to help other people like him who have dyslexia. What I learnt from these two is that helping those in your wider community comes directly after helping your immediate family which I felt could become another interesting viewpoint.

I also spoke to various 16/17 year old boys who mainly gave uninspired answers without thinking about the questions that I had asked them, giving brief responses that they would not expand upon. But one of the 16 year old boys that I asked was very passionate about English and history, and when I asked him if he thought it was possible for a human to do a truly selfless act he said no because it has been proved throughout history that humans are ultimately greedy, and that this is how nature has built us, therefore we cannot change that, another type of person with an interesting viewpoint.

I also talked to a middle aged woman, a self employed architect, who lives in the countryside and owns hens that lay eggs, she is very middle class and liberal, and I particularly found it interesting comparing her responses to that of the woman’s from Bargain Booze, as whilst the Bargain Booze woman was very much focused on her immediate family, especially her two boys, the countryside women gave her money  to the red cross for a long time, which is a charity that supports people in crisis wherever they are around the world. I felt as though it is interesting to compare two people from completely different socioeconomic backgrounds, and how this may impact on the ways in which they might choose to help others in wider society. For one it is all about being very hands on and thinking about things that  have a direct impact upon them, and for the other they are perhaps just donating money to those around the world who are suffering injustice, without a particular focus.

Whilst I was talking to my Uncle he pointed out a couple of ideas that I felt it might be important to note. Firstly, his beliefs about true altruism, sparked a conversation regarding the anonymity of celebrities like George Michael who did a lot of charity work without anyone knowing until he died. This reinforces the idea that the closest that people can come to being altruistic is when they can only feel pleasure or benefit from themselves when helping others and they can derive no pleasure from third party sources praising them.

The second point that my uncle made that I thought was insightful, was to do with the fact that by asking the questions face to face and reccording the answers that people gave, this  could potentially gove contrasting answers than if  I had asked them to simply fill in an online questionaire. An online questionaire would have perhaps taken away the pressure of wanting to give ‘the right answer’ with me sitting there recording them. Also the potential for anonymity with an online questionaire could also produce more honest answers. However, I do not think that asking people face to face is the wrong way for me to go about gaining information on peoples opinions and attitudes surrounding helping other and altruism, as even if they have lied or twisted the truth slightly with their answers in my final outcome their opinions and stories will be made anonymous, and they will lose any chance for third party appreciation which is a consept that I am trying to put across in my project; the idea that they will be punished in my piece by loosing their identity, as they can not claim their verbal opinions and thoughts as their own.

I am planing to spend the next week of the Easter organising all of the chairs that I wish to include in my final piece so that I can think about and visualise how I wish to structure the final outcome.

Week 3 

After having a conversation with one of my peers about how she felt about choosing between charities and prioritising different causes, she said that she would rather just ‘not help or give any money at all than have to pick just one’. This made me start to think about the multiple people that I know who would have a similar response or attitude to my friend. This then made me think about finding a way of  categorising individuals into a representative sculpture that would incompass many different types of people, almost like a cross section of society. I was particularly thinking about all of the different ways that people like to present themselves in society through their styles and the materialistic possessions that they own. I thought back to a previous project when I had referenced Marcel Duchamp who was the first champion of ‘readymade’ art, as he took objects that had an everyday function like a mass produced urinal and put it in the context of a gallery space, turning it into a piece of art. I think that in my project I am keen to use readymade objects and re appropriate them to try to create figurative sculptures.  I decided to use chairs as the base of the sculptures as chairs can already have a lot of figurative qualities to them.

I looked at the artist Nicole Wermers who combined chairs and coats in her 2015 piece ‘infrastruktur’, as she has the lining of each of the fur coats sewn over the backs of the chairs so that the two ready made items became one entity. Through this art piece Wermers was commenting on the way in which people claim public chairs by placing their jackets over them. I think that this piece of art is very interesting and I am also very interested in combining readymade objects with a chair so that they become one entity, as I would like all of the chairs to contribute to the figurative qualities not just act as a dumping ground for multiple objects.  I want to make a solid square out of the chairs so I will either have 9 or 16 chairs. I want them to all be a different kinds of chairs. I am going to paint them all pure white to connote the purity and ultimate simplicity of true Altruism and then contrast that with the physical human elements that I am going to use to build around the chairs and suggest specific characters.

I have spent the week trying to construct one of these sculptures so that I can see how it will look with a solid white chair. I used Laura as the subject for the chair, as the category of an indecisive deeply intellectual person is to be modeled off Laura, as I want this sculpture to be less generalised and seem more individualistic, to act as an encompassing  bracket for ‘the individuals’ category. I took many, many reference photos of her to use as inspiration for how I wanted to put together the chair.

I ended up focusing on three elements that I think best showed of her particular personality, I looked at her make up because she always puts a lot of glitter on her cheeks, and iridescent stars. I also focused on her slouchy oversized knitted jumper and the last thing that I focused on is her love of oranges.

I started of by taking one of the chairs that we have in college and placed her jumper over the back of the chair so that it almost looks like it is engulfing the chair in a similar way to Laura, when she is sitting on a chair she always slouches back into it, and this is a key physical representation of her own personality which is very reserved.  I also added a bit of stuffing to add a small amount of volume to the jumper. I then positioned her arms in the way that she often holds them. I debated adding some wire to the inside of the jumper to position it in a certain way, but then I decided that Laura is so slouchy that it would not lot look quite right adding some rigidity to the jumper.

I then decided to get Laura herself to peel an orange so that it would be completely random in the exact way that Laura would peel an orange. I then put some of the peel on the chair and some on the floor to make it seem as if it had fallen naturally.

I painted the chair white, added the jumper and the orange, and then took some face glitter and placed two strips on the chair in a way to represent the way in which Laura puts glitter on her face. The white paint lifts the whole sculpture and ties it all together very well. DSC_2077

I am pleased with the overall outcome of the sculpture because although it is simple it represents Laura very well but it is also figurative which means that it could represent any number of different people in that type of category.

Whilst I was making this first sculpture I also started to consider  how I could incorporate the verbal opinions of the people I spoke to as a part of the final piece.

I looked at the artist Gillian Wearing, and her 1997 piece ‘2 into 1’. The video shows two boys talking as if they have the voice of their mother and visa versa. Although her reasons for creating this piece are very different from what my project is  about I really liked the way that she contrasts the image and the voices and it got me to thinking about how I could possibly use sound clips of voices in my installation so that each sound clip would correspond with one of the categories of people represented on the chair. But in a way that the viewer of the piece would be unable to tell which sound clip was for which chair, which would tie in with the idea that the closest way to being altruistic comes from anonymity.

Week 2

After spending the first week of my project conducting in-depth research, by reading various books and articles, I began to consider how I could put my research into practice by creating some kind of fake campaign that would spark a reaction from people, so that I could then ask them questions about how they feel about helping others and their thoughts and opinions on various charities and campaigns.

I wanted to try to think of some kind of campaign, which had a ridiculous message, but that people would buy into if they only looked at the campaign on a surface level. One idea that I had was ‘save horses from being forced to sleep on itchy hay ’ although this may not have been the best message, as it is fairly obvious to a large proportion of the population that hay is not uncomfortable to horses the principle of the example suggests someone on the street telling a story about the harsh reality of horses living conditions whether real or not, would draw some people in to support the campaign, even if this is just through a simple signature. I think that this would prove a point or at least give me more insight into the ways in which people support campaigns or charities, by either, ignoring it altogether, stopping and signing up without questioning or stopping, questioning the charity or campaign and then deciding whether  it is a cause worth supporting or not. I think that it is also important to note that asking people to support a charity out on the street is one of many ways that people are approached or targeted by charities, and that my method would only culminate curtain responses, as for example, whilst someone might walk past you on the street, if they received a leaflet through the door they might take a look and invest time and money into the charity. However, for my specific project its success somewhat lies in me being able to go out and talk to a wide range of people from different classes and cultures so that I can see if it is possible to categorize, find trends and come to some kind of coherent conclusion about altruism, and its realistically as a concept, and learning all of the individual opinions that people have.

I wanted to try to gauge how likely it is for someone to support a campaign in order to clear their conscious, without having any kind of real vested interest or concern for the charity or cause.

I feel as though what I really want to express and show through this project is that to some extent there is as systematic failure in the way that our society treats charity work.  To me there is a sense that as a society we manage all of the charity work so that people can feel better about themselves for donating or raising a certain amount of money and then not worry or think about that charity for at least another year. I am particularly thinking about ‘Children in Need’ and ‘Red Nose Day’ as our country seems to celebrate those for raising any amount of money. But I think why should we celebrate this person? Should they not want to help children in need without any public celebration or mass counting of money. Of course, this is a massive generalisation, and there are many people who truly are invested in helping others and supporting charities, but I am trying to see how people’s attitudes towards charities differ from person to person depending on their personality, their socio economic factors, and suchlike.

To gather information in the most effective way, about people’s priorities when it comes to helping in society, I began to create a series of campaigns and scenarios that I  was going to ask people to compare and rank in order of importance. I hoped that this mightgive me clarity on which idea to use in a fake campaign.

They were:

‘Giving horses itchy hay must stop now’

‘Raise MP’s salary to £100,000 per year’

‘Help those with paedophilic thoughts get the support that they need’

‘Gain awareness, respect and support for those with mental health issues’

‘ Help women travel to worn torn countries and support women who are less fortunate than them’

‘Stop letting people walk across sand dunes as they are destroying birds homes’

‘Make drama, music and art compulsory on the leaning syllabus in school instead of maths and physics’

 

The reasons that I choose all of these scenarios, as fake campaigns are very specific, some of them seem like obvious choices over others, but this is simply a diversion to see how people view all of the other ideas for campaigns, which fall into a bit more of a grey area. I included examples of animals in need, along with humans in need as the contrast between the two and which people choose can bring up interesting suggestions about their personalities, like wether they are more community minded or not. The inspiration for choosing animals vs humans as examples came from me reading the Guardian’s ranking list for the ‘top 1000 charities’ based purely on ‘donations’. I was surprised to see that the Royal Society  for the Protection of Birds was 15th on the list, above the British Heart Foundation and Marie Curie Cancer Care.  I thought that is experiment would also suggest something about each individual’s personality, conscience and intelligence levels.

However, after counducting this experiment a few times,the results from various people were not as inspiring or interesting as I thought that they would be.  I began to feel as though I had no clear direction for the project, interms of an artistic response. My aim for the next week is to start to formulate a way in which I could turn my concept and detailed research into a piece of physical art.

 

Week 1

The initial reasons for me wanting to do this project is based around my increasing dissatisfaction with the way in which the collective society of this first world country I live in deals with helping those in need. I was watching a documentary on the BBC, where the investigative journalist Stacey Dooley travels to Japan to look into the underage pornography problem in that country. I felt frustrated by the way that Stacey was talking to the people there and the undeniable judgmental tone of voice. I was thinking, why is she creating an investigative documentary about a topic that she clearly does not have a passionate vested interest in. Especially when I compared this video with  a previous series of documentaries that she created about the lack of women’s’ rights across the world, where it was clear that she had a vested interest in these women’s’ rights. This then led me to think more generally about our society, and the ways in which we ‘manage’ charity work. So we will dedicate one day of the year to Children in Need where people are publicly praised for raising £300 in a cake sale, and after that day they do not think about the charity again for another year. I wanted to think in more detail about Altruism and the possibilities of people being able to actually do selfless acts, with no gain to them what so ever, and if doing ‘selfless’ act should even be considered a important or highly regarded ideal in society when we are animals and have extremely primitive roots.

In the first week of this project I have spent a lot of my time doing in-depth research into Altruism, as I have tried to gain a deeper understanding into the viability of individuals being altruistic. I have read a book called ’50 psychology ideas you really need to know’ written by Adrian Furnham, and in the chapter called ‘Self-Sacrifice’ Furnham suggests various different reasons why someone may be likely to help someone else. For example, both men and women are just as likely to help someone in need but the reason that men help people is different from the reasons why a women might. For men they will help because they want to be seen as heroic and chivalrous, whereas for women they are likely to help people because they are more caring and nurturing. There are many factors that make up a person including gender, race and religion that can contribute to the reasons why someone is more likely to help someone selflessly, or not help at all or even help someone to benefit themselves in some way.

My next step in this project is to start researching artists and different schools of thought about Altruism so that I can start to conceive an idea of what road I might want my project to go down ultimately.