- Decide if audience touching or audience looking – what strengthens my intentions?
- Try writing an artist statement in 3rd person, in order to help be clearer and more succinct in explaining own work.
- Autobiographical work (self-portraits) – how do other artist ensure their message is watertight?
- Narrative – does it have to be a written out story, or is it enough to name the characters?
- How do my personal effects impact the message, when the creatures are displayed on them?
Further thoughts of reflection
- I feel frustrated that I seem to be making more problems for myself. Each action I take, each object I produce or aesthetic decision I make seems to cause Maiko/Oscar – and the world – to question my work more. It seems my work is becoming very unclear to them. I feel mistrusted.
- I innately know that I am not interested – and it is not important – that people arrive upon a common narrative, reason or interpretation of my work – it actually seems incredibly superficial, and quite vain to be that demanding of a unanimous meaning. It is very important in fact that the notion of demanding the answers and the definition of my work to be presented or communicated really irritates me – it doesn’t matter to me if it all makes sense, so why should it matter to others? The constant search for an answer fuels judgemental behaviours. Things can be experienced, witnessed, even enjoyed just because… not everything should have a reason, and not every action or existence deserves to be analysed in order for the decision to be made for it to become legitimate.
- When I look at the work of others, I don’t really care if I ‘get it’ – I’m looking at it, and if I like what I see, or it moves me, then that is what matters to me as a viewer… I don’t look for legitimacy through meaning. I don’t need to feel clever that I managed to work out the ‘code’.
- If the world requires an example, I can link my frustrations very closely to Derrida’s theory of deconstruction, in that the meanings of creative works can greatly differ from person to person. For example, my contexts and development of my own ‘language’ is mine and my own, as a product of my unique journey. As the maker of my objects, I can never rely that what I transmit will be totally understood by someone else, because they come with their own unique contexts and grasp of language, and did not make it.
- This is how I feel about myself in the world – no one ever really understands me, I feel. I very much alone with my mind, and I constantly battle to feel legitimate in the world. When I feel at my loneliest, is when I feel myself the most. I don’t build deep relationships with lovers or friends because I don’t feel validated by them. Instead I feel questioned, invalidated and let down by them, and as a result I feel the person they know is not the real me… that they don’t look hard enough to find me.
- The process of creating allows me to learn and develop my own “language” that makes me feel connected with a world, a place, where even if it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t confusing. I exist alongside my work – we are as good as each other, we all belong together, despite being misunderstood by the world beyond.
- But something inside me tells me that surely there must be others who feel this way – I am not a nihilist, I am an empath – there must be a world out there somewhere where I feel like I belong, even if that world is just one person. Maybe many people feel how I do. Maybe we all do?
- In my bedroom, in my flatshare, is where I feel at my loneliest, and my truest. A 3×3 meter room. Everywhere else I am some vamped up, well behaved, diplomatic, homogenised, capable, adjusted version of myself. I am myself when I sleep alone on my mattress… my shelves collect objects of my own choosing, which would seem random to anyone but me… my cups and plates serve me with the food I make for myself only, without any judgement other than my own… my selection of clothing exists out of my own will. This is my own world, or perhaps it is the only world in which I exist?
- So my creatures – who are all me’s – all find each other, no longer feel lonely, no longer feel illegitimate, judged, scrutinised between themselves, and shame on anyone else who looks at them and judges them. Your lack of empathy, your judgements and insistence on understandability are what has driven me to feel so lonely that I cannot connect with anybody, and I hope you feel bad about it.
- I am the empath that no one empathises with.
One to One with Maiko
Create a narrative which contextualises the characters
Could be a rewriting of an existing story/myth
Create 5 different forms
Why would the creatures be together?
Why do the creatures look this way?
Why do they look different?
What are they doing?
What are they trying to say/do?
WIP Show Artist Statement
Ugly, uncomfortable, unfashionable, imperfect, out of place… it doesn’t matter – everyone is welcome. Although we are surrounded by talk of inclusivity and equality in our culture, why are these ideals of legitimacy often ignored when it comes to our things? There is a tendency to look a gift horse in the mouth; to hide the chipped mug; to separate our things into tribes of what belongs together and what doesn’t. ‘Sandbox’ intends to discuss this through sentimentality, empathy and zoomorphic objects, in a world where everyone is legitimate, none are turned away or separated. They all belong, they are all welcome.
WIP Show/Library Display
- “Everyone is welcome”
Working Project Proposal Title (ideas):
- Expressing and challenging conflicting feelings through zoomorphic sculpture
- Expressing Investigating (autobiographical) feelings on inclusivity, coexistence and legitimacy through making and curation of sculpture.
- Identifying why I make what I do, what it says about me, and what I communicate through my practice.
Objects to display:
- Ceramic Cast Jellybean – Magenta cast (+)
- Ceramic Handbuilt Jellybean – Yellow (+)
- Ceramic Black cup or Broken Cup (+)
- Ceramic Purple tactiform (or blue) (+)
- Ceramic mini Tactiform (+)
- Ceramic Blue Cactus (+)
- Wooden Robopants
- Metal Plughead
- Masking Tape Coral
Other/more materials (to consider/experiment/make before WIP Show)
- Wax – make wax Tactiform or Jellybean
- Card – pangolin hat style
- Paper – papier-mâché?
- Tape – more figurative?
- Plasticine – make Tactiform or Jellybean
- Metal – ???
- Plaster – carving, whittling, casting
Ideas of how to display, and why:
- In a round/crowd – conversing, mingling, participating
- On grass – symbolic of existing in an environment – their land, world, microcosm, but a world we as people share too
- In a house/dolls house – all living under one roof
- A kunstkammer – a curious “world” where a range of wonderful, diverse and not-necessarily related (serialised) things are display and exist as they are
- A selection (curated), based on maintaining diversity and equal distribution of all kinds of objects… but this makes the work quite ‘exclusive’, maybe.
- All objects ever made by me… logistically quite difficult! Can this be played with, for example, by objects ‘overflowing’ a shelf, or starting to take over a wall, or defying gravity, etc?
- Simultaneously displayed collections – the same objects, or different? How are these separate ‘worlds’ decided upon?
Feedback from Oscar, 08/02/18
- Titles are a little clunky – broaden and then gradually decide which bit is the most important part to express/unpack.
- Try to think about how critical my question/position of enquiry is – does it allow me to question, critique, investigate and analyse my process or approach to finding something out (ie is it objective)
- Collage and bring in as much stuff as possible
- A variety of forms, materials and processes makes for a more confident direction, and allows for greater objectivity
- Could each of the three display opportunities be approached differently (I.e. try a different thing, arrangement, objects)?
- How does the notion of simultaneous ‘worlds’ affect the notion of inclusivity and legitimacy?
Key words, and how to clarify what they mean to my investigation:
Legitimacy – what rules, laws, regulations? Can my choices be defended with logic, rationality or reason?
Inclusivity – how far do I pursue or press for inclusivity? Where does it end?
Coexistence – living in harmony, despite differences (ideologies, interests, species…)
Curation – how can curation still can make an exclusive statement, despite pursuing inclusivity?
Conflicting feelings – responses to texture and aesthetics such as recoil, adoration, inquisition, tentativeness, etc… is there a better term for this?
- Build strength of argument through contexts:
- How have other artists/sculptors displayed collections of their works (retrospectives, etc.)?
- How do other artists deal with questions about aesthetic differences between types of work they do (Damien Hurst, perhaps?)
- How can a range of different objects (aesthetically, thematically, chronologically) by the same artist?
- Have other artists used a kunstkammer or similar approach to displaying a range of objects/works? Why?
- Collate as many of my objects as possible
- Start to assemble collections, photographing different combinations
- How would these collections ‘overpopulate’, aesthetically?
- How would these collections work when there is imbalance of certain types (i.e. too many blue things, too many ceramic things…)
- By Wednesday 14th February, ensure most of the objects I want to show are together, and bring to university.
An investigation into where the worlds of judgement, guilt, disgust, nurture and the maternal*** overlap, and manifest as sculpture.**
*As yet, I am unsatisfied with the choice of descriptors in the working title, and I am searching for terminology that is more encompassing, such as:
- Jolie-laide/Belle-laide (pretty-ugly/beautiful-ugly) (although a better term would be one that doesn’t specify human attractiveness, but more a feeling, sentiment or emotion rather than an aesthetic)
- Wabi-Sabi, although it has connotations with Japanese craft specifically
- Sentiment over rationality
- Want to be picked up, despite flaws or failings
- Inclusive, everything valid, yet defying genre or order
**I am also unsure of the use of the term ‘craft objects’, but I am reluctant to pigeonhole the investigation to ceramics only.
My investigation is as much a reflection of my own creative practice, the struggles to associate myself, feel accepted and validated within the world (and professions) of visual culture. The feelings of self-doubt, insecurity and feeling vulnerable to questions of appropriateness and validity of my work and mindset, or lack of validated ‘welcome’ or ‘place’ for me and my work within the industry.
In terms of display, it is appropriate that the work is presented as a microcosm, collection or installation of everything – a world of things which exist together. This could be simply arranged in a room, depending on the allocation for the end of year show, or could have a specific structure built for the objects to be displayed in/on. For example a shelving system, a kunstkammer, a doll’s house, a playroom, a studio, a workshop, a bedroom, a shop window… Each of these has particular connotations attached, and therefore these need to be investigated in order to analyse their appropriateness.
In order to extend and explain the philosophies and theories associated with my practice and the investigation, there are opportunities for the exhibition of my work to be accompanied by the delivery of workshops or other forms of audience participation. Currently, the notion of the public all making their own sculpture to be curated and exhibited together using a small selection processes which I use, seems like an appropriate way to do this (clay hand-building, scrap wood modelling, cardboard maquette-making, etc.).
Tropes from my history – a list of creative memories or tendencies:
- Assemblage, arrangement, build
- Modularity, pieces, construction/deconstruction
- Colourful, contrast, colour-object relationship
- Collection, collectibles, grouping, genres, completion, interchange
- Display, show, curation, togetherness
- Fantasy, narrative, otherworldliness
- Uncanny, strange but familiar, transformation, beyond the ordinary
- Manufacture, admiration, wonder, workmanship
- Cuteness, friendliness, personification
- Form, tessellation, interrelation of forms
- Mechanism, moving parts, animation
- Craft, making, doodling, experimenting
- Materials, textures, tactility, interest, fidgeting
- Physical-digital world overlaps
- Pride – collection, creative ability
- Invention, pushing the limits of product function/intention
- Wanderlust, the exotic, the mystic, the ancient, the alien, discovery
- Psychology, relationships, identity, morals
- Gadgets, technological novelties
This list seems very long, and although there are lots of overlaps and cross references, I am unsure what to do with the information. I would say that ALL of the above links in with what I have tried to do with my own practice, yet the words highlighted in bold seem particularly relevant to my current direction.
What I feel I need is someone to say that it doesn’t matter about finding an answer – it’s all subjective, we all have our likes and dislikes, and these can be irrational and interchangeable. We can be fickle and we can change our mind – we like what we like, and sometimes we can’t explain it or say why. But I feel that I am being challenged to stay away from that ‘easy’ answer.
I just want to make what I want to – it has taken me long enough to find a practical project I can focus on. I don’t feel I have time to do the requisite research into psychoanalysis or narratives or artistic imperatives at this stage. I can’t give any more effort than I have been doing so. I am at my maximum capacity.
Why do I make the things I do? Why am I compelled to make certain ‘ordinary’ objects, and not others?
This is a question I have been trying to answer over the last year, and although I feel I have tried to resolve this through my practice, I still feel the answer is fleeting. I have spent time analysing others work (Skoglund, Kular, Koons, Gormley, Rasmussen, etc.), I still feel that their individual rationale regarding their object choice is fleeting. I have listed and grouped my own work, I have noted a clear ‘inner voice’ that almost decides what to make, and what not to make, but I can’t answer the ‘why’.
I have even gotten to the stage where currently I don’t even see the cactus as a ‘cactus’, and more of an avatar or a placeholder for the eventual form it will become, which demonstrates that the specificity of the object is interchangeable at best, and indeterminate at worst. The project seems stuck until I can resolve this problem, and I feel very vulnerable to criticism of my work until I can be sure of this answer.
In order to understand these questions I have tried to look back into my own personality and interests in the visual and physical, to see if there are any identifiable tropes or themes. I am curious to see if the are links between my own history and interest with the visual, creative and “play” worlds – from toys, games, stories, films, cultures, objects and things – which might explain my own choices.
Another way I could explore my choices may be through deep psychoanalysis, however I am reluctant to make my work seem serious and scientific. The same inner voice which tells me to make certain objects seems disinterested in taking this route. Perhaps we are talking about artists’ intuition here? Are there any writings on this, or is it one of those ‘tacit knowledge’ things, where I can only obtain the answer by doing and experiencing it myself? I feel that I have done a lot of contextual research about this and asked this question already and still I don’t find I am any closer to the answer.
However, is it 100% necessary to resolve this answer? Even that, I cannot be sure.
Small scale experiments;
- Hand making cactus – make several to see if they can be made to an appropriate standard, rather than casting them
- Small scale – as above but seeing what qualities emerge from smaller scale modelling
- Mould breaking casts (“inherited kinstugi”) – kintsugi inspired process where the mould is broken and reassembled, then used to slip cast (mug, cactus), rather than traditional kintsugi method of the form baring the actual breaks. Instead the cast forms ‘inherit’ the cracks from the parent mould, as a motif, rather than an actual breakage. Each cast may further degrade as the cracks in the mould degrades over time.
- Exploring colour – using coloured glazes to explore qualities of finish and apply colour… unsure about the potency of the colour as if applied via glaze. I’ll then photograph these (little yellow cacti) on various coloured backgrounds (deep red, fuchsia pink, lime green).
Currently all 4 experiments are in the kiln, will analyse results next week.
- Working Title
- Aims + Objectives
The ultimate aim of my investigation is to produce a range of uncanny ceramic objects, possibly presented as an installation. The desired effect is to encourage a state of wondering and imagination in a viewer, by proposing a range of objects as ‘props’ that a viewer could piece together to make some kind of imaginary narrative, in order to read or make sense of the scene.
The objectives of my investigation are to explore notions of the uncanny in design objects/object d’art, as well as exploring and analysing characteristics and attributes that can be manipulated in bestowing a sense of the uncanny. I intend to decode what makes an object uncanny when looking at the works of others, while comparing those findings to my own experiments and practice. These attributes concern colour, material, texture, object typology, associations between objects, scale, tangibility/tactility, and environmental placement/context. These will be discussed and dissected in the methodology.
There have been a wide range of visual contexts I have drawn upon thus far; some of the most important influences I have detailed here, where as links to others can be found in further personal writings (my blog).
In terms of uncanny objects, Jeff Koons’ work has been particularly useful, when analysed. The notion of how he intends his audience to respond and react, and the metaphysical world he wants to direct his viewers into bear particular relevance to my investigations into triggers and attributes of the uncanny. This can also be echoed in the ‘MacGuffin Library’ project by Onkar Kular and Noam Toran.
Like the MacGuffin Library project, Sandy Skoglund’s photographic/installation works have a strong impact on my attitudes towards how colour can be used to manipulate an audience and usher in the uncanny. Skoglund’s approach to mass-multiplicity of objects also links to Antony Gormley’s ‘Field’ projects. ‘Field’ harkens back to the importance of material, in how I construct my work. The importance that each object is made by hand, and not via a tool is in some ways an ode to the clay itself, and a direct translation of the malleability and fluidity of the human (sub) consciousness.
The works of Malene Hartmann Rasmussen are particularly impactful to my practice in the sense that her work revolves around storytelling and personal narrative. Her approach to object choice and environmental transformation, as well as the childlike aesthetic all help to reinforce a telling-of-tales.
Other contemporary visual contexts include Paul Nash, Richard Slee, Ken price, Felieke Van Der Leest, Tony Cragg, Yoshitoshi Kanemaki, Helen Marten, Joshua Ben Longo, Nick Cave, Freddie Robbins, Ugo Rondinone and the V&A exhibition ‘Telling Tales’.
Theoretically, my investigation is informed by the writings of Freud on the uncanny (‘Das Unheimlich’) and subconscious mind (the Id, the Ego and the Super-Ego), as well as some of the work of Reigl regarding the intention of an artist/maker (especially when applied to Koon’s work). Furthermore, theoretical understanding of artistic intention is underpinned by Derrida’s Theory of Deconstruction, regarding the struggle between viewer and artist.
The process of which the investigation has taken place thus far has been largely practical, with extended periods of reflection and analysis. This has been paralleled by periods of contextual investigation and analysis. There are 4 main areas my investigation aims to explore; the methodology of each centres around my own practice and analysing the results against the attributes associated with shifting an objects into the real of the uncanny, as mentioned above.
Colour can be used to distance, disconnect or disassociate an object from its original meaning – this can be seen in the works of Onkar Kular & Noam Toran’s work on the MacGuffin Library Project. There is also an interesting phenomenon that occurs when high contrast colours are presented together, where the usually do not exist in reality, causing the mind to detect a ‘glitch in reality’. This can be seen in the work of Sandy Skoglund, and is referenced in my 3rd period of practical investigation; ‘Object, Language, Landscape’ (April-July 2017).
Material and texture can also be interchanged and manipulated in order to make an audience feel displaced (the uncanny)… This can go beyond typical skeuomorphism; disguising a material to appear as if it is made of something else – and instead achieve a sense of inexplicable connection in a viewer or holder of an object. For example, in my 1stperiod of practical investigation; ‘Mini-Tactiforms’ (September-December 2016), I experimented with a variety of textures on amorphous, palm-sized ceramic objects in order to inspire a reaction in a holder. Observing people holding and talking about their experiences, it became quite clear that beyond specific textures, often people were not able to rationalise their likes of dislikes about certain textures and sensations. Often the response was ‘I like this but I don’t know why’, while continuing to hold and fondle their object of choice. On reflection this is an element of the uncanny at work.
The types of objects represented and their association with each other and how they are placed is the most recent of my initial investigations. There is something itself uncanny and inexplicable about the objects I chose to represent in ‘Object, Language, Landscape’, where specific objects seemed to conjure themselves to me to be made, for no rational reason. These fragmented associations between objects demand a viewer to first address way these objects exist alongside each other, but when no connection can be determined, they becomes a ‘sandbox’ in which to be used in any way the participant determines, by offering a range of metaphysical objects a viewer can piece together in creating their own narrative. The term ‘sandbox’ is derived from a video gaming trope, where a player is able to proliferate and populate anything and everything they want into the game-world, with the basic ‘building-blocks’ of the game available to them to play and work with.
Lastly, the notion of environmental context will be explored and analysed through a process of creating objects and installing, assembling, arranging and curating in a variety of locations (gallery, indoor, outdoor, collectively, separately, etc.), and documented photographically, as well as anecdotally. The results will be analysed and marked against weather the context has further impact on the uncanniness of the objects, and gives a strong enough platform for a viewer to participate in the sandbox mechanic. These again will be recorded anecdotally.
- Planned Outcomes
The form of my final work is likely to be a series of hand-built ceramic objects presented as an installation or assemblage. It is likely that the work will be presented in a gallery context, yet there are still opportunities for me to investigate site-specific contexts, both indoor and outdoor. In order for the work to be elevated beyond being ‘just a small series of ceramic objects’, the scale of the installation and the multitude of objects is important; the experience should be immersive to a viewer; like stepping into a world, or a ‘glitch in reality’. Work Plan
As mentioned above, there have been several periods of practical investigation already: Between September and December 2016 I explored, experimented and analysed the impact of texture, material and amorphology in ‘Mini-Tactiforms’. My second stage I tried to apply these findings to functional objects in ‘Tacti-Vessels’, between January and March 2017. Then, between April and July 2017 I began to explore the notion of uncanny objects and how they can be used to encourage narratives and an immersive experience in a viewer, in ‘Object, Language, Landscape’.
I now envisage that between now and January 2018 I will define and determine exactly which attributes I want to manipulate in order to push the notion of the uncanny in an installation of objects. This will be achieved through investigating and exploring colour contrasts, analysing environmental contexts of object placement on a smaller scale (fewer objects at first), and trying to achieve impact through multitude and carefully considered scaling of each object. From February 2018 onwards I aim to be steadily making in order to achieve the impact I have specified while the expansion of the number of made objects will enable me to investigate and critique environmental contexts for my work to be displayed.
On the run up to the start of term, I have feel I have been working with a different kind of attitude towards making. Term 2’s output felt very forced and objective, to the point where I was trying too hard to formulate a functioning brief, rather than making something I feel engaged or passionate with. Instead, over the Easter break I had been making work that I wanted to make, with no rationale other than ‘I made it because I wanted to’.
Perhaps there is something to this statement: something that gives a truer insight into my sub-consciousness perhaps?
The work I made could be categorised as non-functional objects (often in ceramics) – some of which were figurative/recognizable objects, whereas others were more abstracted. I made the following objects:
- Twisted aluminium wire figure with obsolete electronic plug for a head
- Small ceramic blob creature, with a hole for a face
- Thrown ceramic bowl, filled with a fragranced wax candle
- Scrap wood ‘cubist’ self portrait, using only 10 pieces
- A ‘dinosaur bone’ image using heatpress-melted cellophane
- A larger ceramic blog creature, with felting-wool coming out of its face
- A series of slipcast cactuses in various inorganic colours, which maintain their casting edges
- A ceramic sandwich, where golden glaze is used instead of jam
I am unsure as to why these objects were chosen other then out of a whim or gut feeling perhaps, however I seem to be drawn to fairly recognizable objects (sandwich and cactus in particular). I am also somewhat keen to play with size differential between the objects, and against their real life counterparts – again I am unsure at this point as to why I have made these decisions, beyond gut feeling or intuition.