Unit 2 – Reflection & Presentation
Critical Evaluation of Practice and Future Development
The most profound discovery about my projects and my investigations over the last 2 years is finding out my work was about me. It was only in the last 4 months that I started to feel emotional and protective about the work that I was doing, in response to critique and questioning; it made me feel very vulnerable. At the same time I was enjoying what I was making more than ever – I felt that although I was able to be more free and authentic about my creative output, I was opening myself up for more criticism and judgement. I developed a sensitivity to being misunderstood. However, I felt my instincts to work against judgements were being validated by drawing autobiographical parallels with other people and wider contexts.
One particular artist I feel has impacted upon me is Marlene Hartmann Rasmussen. Beyond the visual, her work is conceptually about finding strength in her own narrative, and finding personal ways to express herself and her ways of thinking through installation. There are several other artists who work in this way and that have subsequently influenced my practice, yet it wasn’t until engaging with Rasmussen’s work that I found the ability to trust in my own story and feelings.
The journey of my practice over the last 2 years has been difficult to summarise due to the complex and deep reflection that has taken place. The decision to express my work as a curated exhibition of works, alongside a written guide (‘A Reflective Narrative’) not only tracks my reflective practice in the clearest way (to me), but also helped to underpin a visual method of reflecting too. The following list however provides a concise timeline of reflective practice.
Main stages of my work:
- Psychological phenomena of ‘I like it but I don’t know why’ – the unexplainable, irrational response
- Focus on texture to encourage push-pull effect
- Explore forms (and functions) which give push-pull
- Explore relationships between objects which cause uncanny response
- Breakdown of developing habits, to dig deeper into what it is I want to make and why
- Want to make work that I enjoy
- Becoming defensive over criticism of my creative decisions; feeling personally scrutinised and dismissed
- Is how I am feeling something everyone feels? Have I always planned to make work that defies total understanding (enigmatic, tenuous…)?
- Choosing to represent myself
- What my are objects inspired by: visual language, personal feeling, showing myself to the world
- Consolidating the parts of all my work that are recurrent (tropes), or seeing the value in certain creative gestures that were missed the first time around.
Going forward, I feel like I am walking into a vacuum or an empty space. For the first time in my life I have no job or income. I am trying to allow myself maximum availability to be able to take advantage of any opportunities that come along instantly, such as responding to open calls, applying to galleries, etc. But the truth is I don’t feel I have a strong enough sense of networking to be able to capitalise on the opportunities out there. Therefore it is vital for me to get myself involved in creative communities, through group projects and collaborative works. I still have a desire to teach, or be involved in creative education, however I am keen that if I do go into this direction that I am able to be and express myself in a honest and unmasked way – which my work has just started to become.
The main topics arisen from the tutorial:
- The Future/Beyond the MA
- Reflection on last 12 months work
- Defining ‘The Uncanny’
- Immediacy of Making
- What next?
- Teaching at HE level (Associate lecturing, technical facilitation…)
- Requires experience in professional creative practice, i.e. exhibiting work and/or publishing written work – neither of which I have yet done
- Opportunity to apply for residencies and/or open call exhibitions; artist statement required for this – TASK: write an draft artist statement and send to Bridget
- Opportunity to get some teaching experience with BA 3D Design – TASK: speak with Jason (new course leader of BA 3D Design)
Reflection on last 12 month’s work:
- Agreed that a new proposal to be written, however some kind of direction or short term action plan needs to be in place in order to avoid stagnation (see slow)
- Earlier work I feel ready to ‘let go of’/put down (Tactiforms and Tacti-Vessels)
- Interesting debate came up regarding the term ‘gimmicky’ – I referred to my Tacti-Vessels as too gimmick in a negative way. Unpacking this point, I realised this is highly subjective, and can have a lot to do with intention and function, and how original the idea is… there’s certainly room for gimmicky or camp work in my future projects but it does beg the question ‘where is the line, between acceptably gimmicky and tacky-gimmicky?’
- I still have a strong feeling towards certain aspects of my later project (Object, Language, Landscape)… there are several elements that I particularly like/enjoyed and feel there’s more to be done with these:
- The types of objects I had chosen to make still hold my interest, however I’m starting to think that food objects might be the way to go with this – I seem to be able to come up with a lot more examples of potential uncanny objects which are foodstuffs – there must be a significance in this, possibly to do with how food plays a fundamental element of culture, but also because I’m a bit more partial to food than I should be!
- I also particularly my selection of finishing treatment to the ceramic forms: I like the cheeky, unconventional-ness of using car paint to coat the ceramic forms, rather than glaze. It makes them more plasticky, and helps to enforce that the objects aren’t meant to be an accurate representation of a sandwich, a cactus, a hotdog, etc. (i.e. not a still life), but more like a suggestion or an indicator – like a glyph or icon. I could have used a typical ceramic glaze, but that would have enforced the ceramic element, made it more ‘formal’, which I didn’t thin would help to enforce the notion of the uncanny within the forms.
- The colour choice was quite a subconscious decision, or should I say it was something of a matter of fact in that in my mind there was never any question as to what colour the objects would be… they were always blue in my mind. Blue is a very inorganic colour, especially when associated with food. It makes objects immediately look plasticky and inedible, and helps to confuse the materiality of the form – it looks man made, but I could be hard, could be soft, heavy or spongy… blue is hard for us to tie to a particular organic medium. The pairing of blue with orange was also something of a gut feeling – a certainty. The two hues have a very similar value, which is why they contras so vividly – this brings another uncanny effect to the assemblage. The overall impression appears so striking, and so inorganic that it bares the appearance of a digitally rendered image – like CAD/graphic design but in the flesh.
Defining the Uncanny:
- I had been often using the word ‘Iconic’ in the wrong way: I meant Uncanny. The problem was that the meanings are actually quite different. Uncanny objects reference other attached experiences and feeling – they emote beyond their function and inspire wonder, daydream and whole worlds of ‘otherness’ not figuratively depicted with its form. They are almost transportive or teleportive. An iconic object on the other hand stands for something… it means itself. I would argue that there are instances where an uncanny object can be or can become iconic – such as The Statue of Liberty (representative of American culture, but also representative of liberty and empowerment). And this can also be the other way around – an icon becomes uncanny, once its original meaning is removed through a change in its meta-language. This can be exemplified in the Eggplant Emoji, which is used to emote ‘penis’ (as an uncanny object)… yet a cartoon picture of an eggplant just 5 years ago would have only meant ‘Eggplant’, and thus referred to as an icon.
- I think I would be good to get some other’s take on the idea of the uncanny, I am certain Magritte probably write or made work based around this aspect of semiotics and semantic visual language, but also I have been recommended to look into the works of Martin Puryear… he speaks of the idea of visual language being used in a non figurative way to conjure and represent the figurative within our minds.
- My contextual writing will focus around this, and I will spend the majority of the next 3 weeks working on this. I aim to identify 3 case studies of the uncanny – or what isn’t uncanny – one of which I think will be Jeff Koons, who I believe works towards devoiding objects of any iconography or uncanniness – good way to define my terms by identifying an antithesis.
The Immediacy of Making:
- A discussing came up regarding my choice of material; I have always worked in clay yet I always feel reluctant to limit myself to clay in the future, regarding outcomes. There is an immediacy that I connect with when I use clay, it is instantly manipulated, I can sketch with it, and I can refine it all in a relatively lo-tec way (excluding the firing, and glazing). The actual making is very instant, and changeable. You don’t need a rubber to undo your mistakes or anything you’re not happy with, you can add or subtract clay in an easy way, it is resilient enough to cope with an organic mindset and changes to design. It is also cheap and very available to me.
- There are other materials that I work with which are also quite similar in their immediacy… I have experience with building using card and paper, and even stationary materials such as masking tape. It was even suggested that cheese, or other foodstuffs could be used and manipulated in an immediate kind of way… before I embark on a period of refined making and ‘final designing’, I have the opportunity to do some more experimenting in these materials before I commit to what my major outcomes will be.
- Research into other people’s take on the uncanny
- Find and curate a selection of uncanny objects – possibly focussing on uncanny foodstuffs?
- Photography and/or arrange these items with a similar colour treatment to ‘Object, Language, Landscape’ project, in order to elevate the uncanny aspect. This could involve spray painting or dipping the objects into some kind of plastic.
- Respond to the objects by making ‘immediate’ versions or responses, in card, tape, etc.…