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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Image result for gallantry and criminal conversation

‘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. 

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Final Evaluation of FMP

Visual Research

I spent a lot of time thinking about the physicality of my work, and how it would look the most effective based upon the images that I collected surrounding the idea of Altruism. I was thinking about creating a fake campaign at the beginning of the project as the best way to tackle my initial concept, and I spent time considering using certain pieces of imagery and lettering how to go about presenting the campaigns that I wanted to create, and I also spend time to create my own posters/ adverts to show people the campaign.

I also did make some simplistic drawings of some of the chairs that I wanted to use when I had changed the idea for my final piece, which I wanted to be an installation with chairs acting as figurative sculptures, suggesting different types of people in society. Making these drawings helped me to really look at and simplify the shapes of the chairs which then made it easier for me to think about how each chair would mould to the type of person that I wanted it to represent. As the simplistic drawings highlighted the basic shape of the chairs ( if they were more square in shape/ more circular).I also created a diagram with a key so that I could play around with the way that I wanted the chairs to be presented. The use of this diagram with clear imagery, made it easy for me to change my mind and switch the way I wanted to present the final installation, whilst showing to others in a simplistic way the changes that I had made.

I have also taken reference photographs in this project of various different people that I have spoken to and interviewed regarding altruism. These photos have helped a lot as they have grounded my experimentation, so that it is not all completely random and shows that I have spent time studying different people and have make an effort to consider the images that I have before going straight into taking photos.

Another angle to my project has been the incorporation of hair, flesh and bone into my final sculpture. Which meant that it was important for me to take photographs as reference points of these human attributes, so that I could try and and interpret these physical bodily elements as well as possible. I wanted to create a spine and so I took multiple photos of a human skeleton with particular focus on the spine. I also took photographs of my father sitting on a deck chair with his hairy belly out, just wearing a blue tie, which I needed to do to help envisage how well my hairy tie might look.

I do feel like it has been hard for me to incorporate a lot of visual inspiration into my project as the idea behind the project is Altruism, which despite all of the research I did for the concept does not have  a lot of visual imagery to go alongside it to take inspiration from. I definitely think that compared to other areas of this project, visual research has been on the weaker side. However, when I have used visual inspiration, whether it be through photographs I have taken as reference points  or by using simplistic drawings/ diagrams it has helped to clarify the direction of my project and can also help an outsider looking in to see the way in which images have helped inspire and develop my final installation, so that the idea and realisation of the final outcome does not look as if it has not just been plucked out of thin air.

 

Contextual Research

When I first decided that I wanted to do a project based on ‘An Exploration of Altruism’, it was because I had watched a documentary where the investigative journalist had been extremely judgmental towards all that she interviewed, and whether she had or not, it did not come across to me that she had spent much time actually immersing herself in the culture and truly trying to understand more than her own point of view.

After watching this documentary, I watched some more investigative documentaries, which then allowed me to form more a rounded opinion about those who created documentaries addressing an issue, and then never talking about it again in their day to day life, and those investigative journalists who are committed to a cause or an issue around the world. Doing this contextual research was a very good base to start my project with quite a clear idea in my mind about our society’s ability to seem concerned and then, after they have done just something for that cause they can drop it and forget all about it.

I also read a lot of books explaining Altruism to me as a concept, even on the most basic level. This was all very important for me to do because without  some kind of basic knowledge of what Altruism is about, and what contributes to altruistic behaviour in society, how could I possibly come up with a comprehensive response? I decided to also go a bit further, and look into some philosophers, and Freudian speculations, to help deepen and richen my research.

The difficulty with research for me came when I had to start thinking about artists that could potentially help with the development of my ideas and give me inspiration. I struggled to find any artistic commentary on the subject of altruism, which meant that I had to think further afield to looking at particular artists whose whole artistic philosophy might contribute in a positive way to my project. When I had started to become more invested in my final piece idea of using chairs as figurative representation of different groups in society, I came across the performance artist Marina Abramovic, whose use of the physical body is very powerful in her work, as if people wish to interact with her performances they are forced to view the human body in a new and fresh way that they would not in their day to day life. The way that she achieves this through her work often has an extremely powerful impact on the viewer. The idea of using the human body in this way for art, I have found incredibly inspiring, and led to me considering her influence as an artist in my work.

In terms of the artistic references that  I looked at for visual inspiration, I considered Marcel Duchamp and his creating of ‘Readymade’ art, as my final piece was mainly a carefully considered combination of readymade objects. When creating the sound clip to go alongside the installation I also considered different ways that artists had used sound in art pieces to create certain effects, like Gillian Wearing’s video ‘2 into 1’ and Susan Hiller’s  installation ‘Witness’.

Overall, even though I struggled at the beginning of the project to find artists that I thought had a lot of relevance to my project, and could help inspire me, I ended up finding artistic influences both for the idea behind my piece and for the visual side of my piece.

 

Experimentation

At the beginning of the project when I thought that I was going to create a fake campaign, and then  talk to lots of people and see their reactions and hopefully spark discussion and debate, I felt as though the project was going to be so conceptual that their would be next to no experimentation with artistic materials. However I decided that I wanted to create a physical installation for my final piece, in which I wanted to incorporate elements of the human body like hair, flesh and bone. I wanted this combined with lots of ready made objects, with the base of all of the sculptures being various different white chairs.

There were two main parts to my experimentation. The first part was the picking and refining of readymade objects, that I wanted to use to represent the different characters I was trying to present. This was by far the hardest part of the experimentation because when you are playing around with two or three objects for each sculpture, there are endless variations that you can create. Furthermore. I had to consider the fact that all of these sculptures have to combine well with each other as a whole installation. I believe that I went through a long tow/three week process of just combining many, many different objects to create the most, simplistic, suggestive, figurative sculptures that I possibly could. Even when I finished the piece within the time that I had left. I still felt as though their was much more that I could have done to make some if not all of the sculptures more effective through more experimentation with different objects.

The other element of experimentation that I had to contend with was creating the suggestive physical bodily elements like hair, skin and bone. To create the bone I used air drying clay but, I had to spend time moulding the clay to create the shape that I wanted for the segments of a spine, the same happened when creating the arm bones, which took many attempts to get to a shape that I could live with.  I also had to mix acrylic paint  a lot to get the perfect shades for the bone. I also had to spend a lot of time moulding various piece of latex, trying to create a modrock torso with liquid lat and eggshells stuck on top and had to sew lots of synthetic hair into one of the readymade objects.

I do think that I did a lot experimentation and tried copious variations of all of the objects for the final installation, however I do believe that their is a lot more experimenting with the placement of objects that I could have done to  take some of the sculptures to the next level.

 

Idea Development  

I do think that a lot of the experimentation that I have conducted has helped to influence my idea development, as a lot of the ideas that I was having were to do with how I wanted my sculptures to look for the final installation would not have developed if I had not tried then out first. For example, the development of the idea of how I would layout all of the chairs came about as I took all of the chairs that I was thinking of using and placed them in different way until I came up with an order for the chairs and the way that they should be arranged that would be the most effective.

When I had my initial idea of creating a fake campaign, it was through my experimentation of creating posters and different scenarios for the campaign that I began to realise how difficult it would be for my to come to a coherent conclusion if I carried on directly down that route. This then lead me to think about creating an installation which would be a much more tangible way of sharing my thoughts and opinions on the topic of altruism through art. I thought that an installation would overall be more accessible to a wider range of people on some level. I was initially thinking about having an identical number of chairs with identical dummies on them and having  voices playing in the space all with different opinions and stories talking about altruism. The idea behind this was to highlight the importance of anonymity for someone who is trying to reach a certain level of  altruistic being. However, I concluded that this could potentially just add to much confusion to the piece and that their would not be enough physical differentiation between the sculptures that would not match the differentiation of the voices.

I do think that I did have quite a lot of idea development from my first idea, however this idea development did happen fairly early on in the project, and when I had decided on the installation my core idea for the final piece did not change, and also the idea that I wanted to present through the project about altruism did not really change throughout the project, which I think is fine because what did develop was the idea of how to present the initial concept in the most effective way. I think that presenting the concept in the most effective way was key to my project as the initial concept is much more complex.

 

Final Pieces

The initial idea behind my final piece was conceived in my mind quite straightforwardly quite early on in the project when I had decided against focusing all of my attention on a fake campaign. However, the majority of the time after this point was spent making agonising decisions about the eight individual sculptures which I wanted to be visually simplistic whilst having lots of different levels incorporated within every item, which would then combine together to be coherent and have a certain flow.

Basically, I had a basic idea for the final piece near to the beginning of the project and every experiment that I did was to go towards helping to create the best sculptural representation of my ideas to do with altruism. I think that there are definitely individual sculptures in my final piece that are stronger than others, like the spine screwed onto the white bars stool as the presence of a human figure is heavily suggested and, with very little, and the barstool has a lot of connotations within itself of whom that sculpture represents as a type of person. There are a couple of the sculptures that are definitely unbalanced and are lacking some unique enticing quality, like the chair representing a middle aged woman, with the scarf and necklace. I definitely think that this sculpture could do with a lot more experimentation of the placement of objects.

In terms of my final piece satisfying the criteria outlined in my statement of intent, I think that I have partially kept to all of the questions that I wanted to address in my final piece that I spoke about in my statement of intent, as I have spoken to a lot of different people about their opinions towards helping others and how this works  in society, and I have incorporated all of these ideas in a sound clip which will be played along side the installation. However, what I did not outline at the start was the fact that I would end up using tangible/ physical objects to try to present my findings about altruism. Although, my project has changed from the statement of intent at the beginning of the project, I just think that it shows that I have been constantly experimenting and developing my ideas to try to get the best outcome possible. I do think that the final piece has an overall impact especially when the voice clip is playing along side the installation as it brings the sculptures to life. I do think that there is potential for the final piece to be pushed further in terms of the composition of some of the sculptures, however I think that how the final piece is now is fairly satisfactory for the time that I have had to complete it.

 

Presentation

For the presentation of my research I tried to make sure that there were clear visual links between the research and how it had influenced my experimentation. For example when I was looking into Marina Abramovic, and I found secondary imagery of some of her work and put it into my sketchbook I wanted to make sure that it was near to the pages with reference photos of the skeleton and also photographs of the process I went through to make interpretations of bone out of clay,as it was a lot of her philosophy as an artist, using her body in way which forced people to step outside their comfort zone which influenced me to incorporate bone, hair and skin into my sculptures.

For my final piece I had decided that I wanted all eight of the sculptures in a square shape with a space in the middle to look as if all of the figurative representations of the sculptures are having a conversation. I had painted all of the different chairs white, to help simplify the sculptures and draw attention to the objects that had been added to them, to represent specific categories of people in society, (also the colour white symbolises purity and often has connotations of  innocence and light, which links to the idea of altruistic behaviour, as pure and light- but also therefore unattainable for humans, who have physical bodies of flesh and meat to lug around, and human appetites that cannot be ignored). When I started thinking about how big the square should be (I decided on quite big to get the full effect of each of the sculptures individually and as a group), I also began to consider the use of some kind of white flooring to emphasises the sculptures. I decided to buy over 100 lino tiles which I painstakingly stuck to the floor, initially I had wanted the white floor to cover the whole space, but and did not have enough so, the tiles created a patch of white floor, with borders of the normal floor around it. I think that this ended up being very successful as the differentiation between the two floors meant that my final piece was contained in one space and looked more like an art piece.

For the sound clip, I wanted it to be played through loud speakers so that the noise would be very impactful when people walk into the space, however, I have to consider the other final pieces that will be in the room for the final show, and so I have begun to think about the possibility of the building small white boxes to attach to the wall which contain some kind of a device so that people can put headphones in and listen to the sound clip whilst looking at the installation.

 

Final Reflection

From doing this final major project, I have learnt a lot about time management, as I discovered whilst in the middle of the project that if I had done a lot of the stages of creating the final piece earlier in the timeline, like painting all of the chairs white for example (which is a time consuming job) then I would have more time to experiment with the placement of objects on the white chairs.

I have also learnt that the presentation of your final outcome can sometimes nearly be as important as the final outcome, as people come to view artwork and so you have to consider every eventuality of the presentation, so that you can do your final piece justice. In this final major project for the first time I realised the important of presentation as when I put the white floor tiles down underneath all of the chairs, my piece was immediately lifted and the visual impact became a lot more striking.

I feel as though I have massively improved my ability to resolve a piece no matter how disappointed I am before I finish, as with other projects on this course especially I have not been willinging to fully committee to some of my final outcomes as I am already too disappointed with how they have turned out before they are finished. I feel as though I tried really had to push through this kind of negative thinking, so that I could get one of my final piece to some standard of completion. Although I would not consider the final piece I created finished, it is completed to a standard where it does not look particularly unfinished, which I personally think is a big step forward for me, as I prepare to move onto the next stage of my life.

I think that doing this final major project has definitely proved to me the importance of context, especially when you are starting of with such a conceptual idea. As it is important that you are able to ground your ideas in legitimate theories and explanations that mean that you are not just plucking information out of thin air. I definitely think that context and research in general is something that I would like to put more emphasis on next time I am doing an art project as the more information you know about the subject you are taking about in your work the better the work will be.

Creating the Final Installation 

After I had considered the layout of the chairs, and the final number I wanted to use – 8 chairs in a square shape with a space in the middle, so that it looks like a group of people having a conversation and interacting with each other.

The sketchbook page below shows my consideration of the layout of the chairs and how it changed and evolved over time to become what it is now.


After I had decided on a final layout for the chairs, I started to think about what I wanted the surrounding to look like. I was very keen to try to get as clear, white surroundings as I possibly could as I don’t want any of the attention to distract from the sculptures.

I bought some white lino tiles, which I played around with in the space that I had to see how many tiles I would need and what shape I would like them to make, so that I could have a white floor space for the piece.

Initially, I wanted to cover the whole floor space with tiles, however when I saw how the tiles looked with an edge to them and the chairs on top I really liked the differentiation between the piece of art and the rest of the room as the white tiles contain the piece and give it a border which I think has ultimately lifted the whole piece.


I am going to play the sound clip through speakers that will be connected to my phone for the final critique, as I think that it is important that the sound of the voices radiate through the room so that everyone has no choice but to here the sound clip, I am also keen to have the sound clip playing on a loop for the final show so that people can listen back over things and so the atmosphere of the piece is not lost if the there is a pause before the sound clip plays again.

Video explanation of why I decided to put together my final piece the way that I did. 

Overall, I am pleased with how the installation had pulled together, for the time that I had. I think that the piece now has some cohesion and clarity that it lacked before I finished the final installation and their was just 8 chairs in a space.

Making the right sound 

An important part of this project is the sound clip that will play on a loop along side the installation. It is crucial that the person looking at the artwork can be given some context as to why the sculptures are there and also to give some indication of how the sculptures are supposed to be interpreted. Without  the sound this would not be possible, as the recordings that I have collected of lots of different people talking about helping others and how they feel about helping others is crucial to the success of the piece and giving enough so that the viewer can try to decipher what is going on.

It is important to me that the voices that can be heard link to each of the chairs but it is the task of the person listening to the voices to try and work out which voice corresponds with which, to add to the anonymity factor of the project, that nobody will get recognition in the piece even though their voice will be used.

I used premiere pro to create the sound clips, and in the first one that I made, I had a lot of voices talking over one another with no one specific voice, and then there was a pause, and each of the voices would speak separately.

After reviewing my work with my Tutor we agreed that the sound clip would be a lot better if there was a constant background noise and would just come to the fore when they had something interesting to say and then it would just fade away again, to try to emulate an ongoing group discussion/ conversation, and to help breath life into each of the sculptures.

I was pleased with how this sound clip turned out as it adds cohesion to the piece and helps to create life and an atmosphere to the physical sculpture.

Week 8

I did a peer review at the end of week 7, as I asked for feed back on the five sculptures that I had already created. My peer told me that ‘less is more’ and that when I continue to make the last three chairs I should remember not to over complicate the sculptures.

I started with focusing on the sculpture to represent the little boy. Unlike the other sculptures where I have been very keen to include physical indicators of their human bodies, with the little boy I wanted to create a subtle contrast as one thought that I had when I was interviewing the boys and teenagers is the prevalence of  technology in their lives. They are always attached to some kind of electronic device almost like another limb.

I found some old headphones and a black Nintendo DS, and starting experimenting with the placement of them on the wooden school chair. IMG_0138

As the Nintendo is all black I thought that it might be quite effective to paint the headphones fully black also so that their is no depth of colour or contrast and everything is black and white. There are many levels of symbolism behind doing this, firstly with no colour just black and white the chair will contrast the other chairs with physical bodily elements, and emphasis the fact that technology has usurped the need for actual physical parts of a human body, as the young boy is the youngest out all of the people represented through the sculptures and he has grown up in a technology driven world like none of the others represented in the sculpture before him. The black and white also symbolises the lack of complexity the boys felt in answering the questions they both found it easy to talk openly and honestly.

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The next sculpture that I focused on was the middle aged woman. I firstly picked out three different elements that all compliment each other, whilst remaining within the bounds of neutral tones. I wanted the neutrality of this piece to come through, and I want the piece to almost fade into the background when compared to some of the other sculptures, as the category of middle aged women particularly mothers, holds less interest than a lot of  the other sculptures, as all of the middle aged mothers I spoke to gave fairly bland answers that were uninspired and fairly similar.

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I wanted to make sure that the legs were crossed with the jeans because when I was taking reference photos of a middle aged woman she always had her legs crossed.

Although I think these three pieces all work well together, I remembered the feedback that I had received in the peer review and I wanted to make sure that the sculpture was as simple as possible, so I decided to take away the white trousers and I do quite like the simplicity of the scarf and necklace with the delicate femininity of the chair coming through underneath. IMG_0108

This week I thought that it was really important to try to complete all of the sculptures to a standard that I would deem acceptable if nothing else, as the final hand in is next week.

The last sculpture that I had to work on is the middle aged man. For this sculpture I started of with a black fleece draped over the deck chair but I felt as though this item of clothing was not strong enough. I then thought to use a tie, but I was inspired by work that I had seen by Robert Gober, where he would contrast elements of the human body in domestic scenarios to discuss political ideas, he abruptly juxtaposes legs and feet and hair with objects that they would never usually be associated with or at least would not be combined into one thing. I decided that I wanted to thread hair into my tie as this would add another level to the piece and force people to consider the presence of hair on a tie. The idea of putting hair on the tie is to suggest the hairy stomach of a typical middle aged man, whilst being contrasted with a smart tie.

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I think that adding hair to the tie was a very effective thing to do and it also adds to the mixture of bone and skin, in other element of the project. I also added some black, large male shoes in a position so they look like they are spread out in a typical male position.

I think that the simplicity definitely works well in this piece, and the hair and the position of the shoes make all of the difference to effective the sculpture is in showing of a particular type of person with so little objects.

I think that I am very aware that their are many more experiments that I could conduct and many more variations of objects that I could try to make the sculptures even more succinct, however, I do not have unlimited time to complete this piece and something that I would try and do better if I had my time again would be to spend it finding more and more objects to play around with to try to create the best figurative sculptures possible.

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.