8th February 2018

WIP Show/Library Display

 

Working Title:

  • “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:

  1. Ceramic Cast Jellybean – Magenta cast (+)
  2. Ceramic Handbuilt Jellybean – Yellow (+)
  3. Ceramic Black cup or Broken Cup (+)
  4. Ceramic Purple tactiform (or blue) (+)
  5. Ceramic mini Tactiform (+)
  6. Ceramic Blue Cactus (+)
  7. Wooden Robopants
  8. Metal Plughead
  9. 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?

 

Next steps:

  1. 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?

 

  1. 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…)

 

  1. By Wednesday 14th February, ensure most of the objects I want to show are together, and bring to university.

3rd January 2018

Themes:

  • “Everyone is welcome”
  • Aesthetics of friendliness
  • Why creatures?

 

“Everyone is welcome”

A particular personality trait I have, and one that I have always had, is a distinct sense of want for togetherness and inclusivity.  I recall being a child and enjoying the premise of collecting all of a particular series, of toys or other collectible objects, even if some of said objects were not my favourite or first choice. Rather, there is something to be said about those objects or things that would otherwise be ‘left behind’ or excluded if I did not take them in too.  There has always been a sense of responsibility towards togetherness in my history of things.

 

These feelings are also exercised when one of said collection is broken, damaged or less that perfect, and in fact the feeling towards this imperfect object exacerbates the sense of duty to include.  Although nowadays there are less toys in my immediate possession, these feelings can still be found with plates or mugs, wherefore should a mug become chipped, I cannot bring myself to throw it away and exclude it from the others.  The chipped mug still remains, and may even get used more, or at least more consciously than a) before and b) the others.

 

Yes these feelings are irrational – they are inanimate objects – but they are participants in my world, and I want to take responsibility towards what I can affect in this frenetic world, which in this case is looking after my things as if they were sentient, children or friends who share my world.  Rationalities such as space, aesthetics (I.e. colour coordination) and practical uses (i.e. it might not function, if it is broken), are disregarded for the sake of inclusivity. Everyone is welcome.

 

There is also an underlying guilt towards waste and respect for the craftspeople behind each object and thing, which further underpins my emotional connection.  I want to make sure the craftsmanship of each thing is respected by not treating the object as a throwaway, transient ‘chachki’.

 

Moreover, in my own work, over the last year or so (and looking further back), my creative output seems to be concerned with a few tropes which support these ‘inclusive’ obligations I have.  Firstly, a lot of my work centre around multiples, or a series, and every object is different in its own way. This could be through individual organic fluctuations in the design, variations in decoration, or being made ‘with lax standards’.  All objects are included, none are mistakes, and all make it to the final ‘display’.

 

Aesthetics of friendliness

Secondly, is the notion of friendliness, specifically the aesthetics of what makes an object ‘friendly’?  A crowd of people don’t look lonely, whereas a single person does, so a multitude of objects makes for a friendly scene, and much of my practice concerns a group or series of things.

 

However on an individual level there has always been a concern for the things I make to look or suggest anthropomorphic qualities and friendly gestures – not explicit smiley faces and hugging arms, but the suggestion of a friendly creature or character.  This can be seen through the large Tactiforms, which seem like they might have a head or face, or be looking up at a viewer/owner as if to be wanting to be picked up. The Mini Tactiforms also reference a personality through subtleties in visual language, in the way a slight roundness can suggest a face or belly, or 2 protrusions could be limbs, etc.  The handheld-ness of these objects also encourage them to be picked up and ‘petted’, smoothed or stroked. Interestingly, when these objects were made available for sale, most people chose to purchase more than one. Could this be an aspect of the new owner wanting to maintain the ‘inclusivity’, and stop a single Tactiform from becoming lonely (at their new home).

 

Currently, I have exploring different ways to incorporate ‘friendly aesthetics’ into ceramic objects, for example an ‘almost-amorphous’ object which looks like it might have a head, or arms, or feet.  These are seem to be an extension to the Tactiform series, in the sense that they are being modelled in a similar way, but this time with a different sense of purpose (beyond the textural experience). However these are elements of the Object, Language, Landscape project which are also present here…

 

…For a long time I have been unable to underpin why I feel a cactus is ‘cool’, or what I feel to be the ‘best’ object that I made.  I think that it might be because the cactus embodies the aesthetics of friendliness that I have been thinking about, with its arms stretched up for a hug, it’s expressionless, yet emotive face, and the fact that as a group they all look happy together.  The other objects all around all reference the sense of inclusion as their rationale – each object is welcome in the scene – which is the only decisive factor in the assemblage. They’re not a collection because they’re all edible, all consumable, all contemporary, all Western, all blue… they’re together because everyone is welcome.

 

Incidentally, the colour treatment is the only unifying attribute of the pieces in Object, Language, Landscape… for some people, the rationale of these objects existing together is that they’re all blue, so they belong together.  However I want to avoid my future work being read as such and so I will explore a more diverse colour pallet or possibly centre on CMYK to reference all colours/a spectrum, and all colours are welcome.

 

Now I have some clarity to my rationale I feel ready to experiment and plan ways to visualise this to an audience.

 

23rd November 2017

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.

15th November 2017

Small scale experiments;

  1. Hand making cactus – make several to see if they can be made to an appropriate standard, rather than casting them
  2. Small scale – as above but seeing what qualities emerge from smaller scale modelling
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

 

9th November 2017

Project Proposal

  1. Working Title

‘Sandbox’

  1. 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.

 

  1. Context

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.

 

  1. Methodology

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.

 

  1. 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.

14th September 2017

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?

The Future:

  • 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.

 

What next?

  1. Research into other people’s take on the uncanny
  2. Find and curate a selection of uncanny objects – possibly focussing on uncanny foodstuffs?
  3. 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.
  4. Respond to the objects by making ‘immediate’ versions or responses, in card, tape, etc.…

1st August 2017

Review of 1st Year Projects

Project 1: ‘Tactiforms’; September-December 2016

3 keywords:

  • Texture
  • Amorphous
  • Handheld

3 positives:

  • Explored a range of different textures and people’s response to textural (subversive) qualities
  • Began to explore amorphous forms that felt ‘just right’ while making and while holding
  • Looked good as a whole set/collection

3 negatives:

  • The work seems more like a scientific experiment with little aesthetic/artistic merit
  • The project is somewhat unfinished in that the results didn’t lead to any specific outcome
  • The general quality of the making was questioned by my peers/mentors

Project 2: ‘Tacti-Vessels’; January-April 2017

3 keywords:

  • Texture
  • Visceral
  • Perverted

3 Positives:

  • The forms had a function, and therefore some kind of outcome or resolution of the contexts/concepts was tangible
  • Making skills were stretched in learning the mould-making process for casting; keen to use this skill again
  • Tried to push irrational revulsion of texture further by making forms which reference human (sexual and gastro) anatomy

3 Negatives:

  • The pieces were quite cliché and gimmicky
  • The pieces were not finished to a high or useable standard (glazing)
  • There were fundamental issues with the usability, by the material of choice: ceramic (i.e. small, brittle, breakable parts)

Project 3: ‘Object, Language, Landscape’; May-July 2017

3 keywords:

  • Iconic
  • Colour
  • Meta-Meaning

3 Positives:

  • Enjoyed making these pieces – it felt like fun, and ambitious (installation)
  • Gut instinct about which objects to make, which objects were ‘iconic’
  • Really pleased with the colour, plus the cheekiness of using car paint instead of glaze

3 Negatives:

  • The pieces were not finished to a consistent high standard – some where better made than others
  • Some objects did not hold enough meaning on their own, and made the viewer question to their inclusion
  • The size of the objects or the number of objects needs to increase to maximize presence

1st March 2017

Mid Point Review sheet

Pathway: Designer Maker

Name: Martin Williams                                                      Date: 1st March 2017

Briefly write here (500 words max) on two or three key issues (you can list these in bullet points) on the development of your practice in the following and see them as points for discussion. 

  1. Exploring notions of rationality and irrationality in object design and application: what is function/non-function?
  2. Splitting and conflicting fields of consciousness and sub-consciousness by presenting sub-conscious (primitive) behaviours
  3. Applying point 1 to point 2; making and presenting objects with questionable functionality that provokes the response to sub-conscious behaviours in a holder.

Firstly I wanted to address and define processes and responses to the creation of forms, which question conventions of rationality, purpose and function. I wanted to raise a discussion through my works as to what function and non-function is… Personally, I often feel it is hard to describe or rationalise why certain forms and visual language appeal to me, and I feel somewhat uncomfortable or dissatisfied with a sense of needing to give a reason to why I like a certain thing.

To explore these concepts I created a series of small ceramic objects, called Tactiforms (“tactile forms”). I chose to construct a multitude of forms, with similar visual language, yet innately individual in order to spark choice and preference in a beholder. The visual language employed references several contexts. Firstly, the size and shape of the form is designed to be hand-held, to encourage haptic exploration, rather than visual. Secondly, the forms are amorphous (unrecognisable) and non-functional as to discourage the eye from pre-analysing the object. It is my belief that the eye can often steer our other senses away from further exploration, if it is presented with something our mind already recognises. Thirdly, the choices of texture applied to each of the Tactiforms serves as discussion points, choices and haptic explorations, mainly to give rise to the ‘I like this one but I don’t know why’ response, or push the boundary of what function is within an object. They are designed to inspire the beholder to pick them up and explore with their hands, in both a conscious and subconscious way.

The questions raised by the Tactiforms lead me to explore the schism and conflicts of the rational and irrational mind. I believed that the sense of conflict between saying one likes a particular object (for example), but cannot explain why was perhaps down to an inner mental/behavioural conflict between different states of consciousness and sub-consciousness. After being influenced by primitive talismanic objects (Pitt Rivers, Ashmolean, V&A and British Museums)… with psychological and behavioural theories, particularly Freudian theory of the Id, the Ego and the Super-Ego, I noticed that there was a clear rift between the Id (which is primarily responsible for thoughts of instant gratification and primal urges) and the Ego (which gives credence to morals, social expectations and the acceptance of rationalisation of reason/law frameworks). The Id within us is only concerned with the very animalistic side of our human nature; the need to satisfy our hunger, with food and with sex. It made me think about what it would have been like to be a primal human: what sort of feelings do I have that I could relate to primitive behaviours?

In response to these thoughts I set out creating a series of semi-functional (or questionably functional) objects that attempt to reconnect a beholder with primitive behaviours, or even attempt to draw attention to their inner conflict of the Id and Ego sensibilities. Will a beholder be repulsed by the actualisation of basic human instincts (sexually suggestive forms)? Will the user attempt to use the objects to feed from? Or will they only go so far to admire them as non-functional objects?

Evaluation of my project proposal as a part of a self-directed programme of study:

My proposal has gone through multiple reinventions, and is currently in a state of deconstruction. The process of exploring ever deepening contexts and responses to each smaller ‘make’ has seemed to have paved a very long and meandering road. Most aspects of my proposal are almost unrecognisable in my later work. I am however not deterred by this, and don’t feel it is necessary to have answered all of my previous intentions in order to give value to what I am currently doing. Moreover, the creative process has been applied as an organic one; there are links back through various stages of makes (mini-projects as it were). With this in mind it is hard to apply a scaffold to evaluate my current progress.

I feel however that the journey has been necessary and much distance has been covered. I feel there is a lack of depth in some areas of my contextual understanding; for example I am only just starting to understand the nuances of Freudian theories, as well as contrasting these with the works of others (Maslow, Jung…). I am also somewhat aware that the practical qualities of what I have made lean towards the sketchy, the experimental and the unresolved, rather than showcasing real craftsmanship.

Where I need to develop study plans in relation to the Unit 1 Learning Outcomes (please refer to the unit briefing sheet):

  • Deeper and wider reading and understanding of contexts, leading to synthesis
  • Qualitative feedback on my work; recording the responses of others using/holding my work, comparing these results to my intentions and contexts, and developing responses by identifying opportunities to develop further work or manipulate certain variables.
  • Develop making skills to a level that yields ‘finished’ results, to a high standard of crafting skills.

Review sheet (2)

Student to complete on the day of Mid Point Review and email a copy to tutor by Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Pathway: Designer Maker

Name: Martin Williams                                                      Date: 8th March 2017

Peer group comments noted during the MPR:

  • Not enough work made
  • Visual contexts not specific enough
  • Work is not of a high enough standard of finish (although I somewhat disagree that at this stage it is vital that they are representative of ‘finished’ pieces: they are sketches/experiments)
  • Try being more specific regarding particular reactions, i.e. phobias
  • General direction of intentions somewhat unclear and/or alienating
  • Responses are not ‘personal’ enough
  • Ceramic may not be the most appropriate material to apply recent designs
  • 2D drawing is not utilised effectively to express reflective thinking

Response to the discussion and next step – actions to be taken: 

  • Visual research – identify at least 5 artists/practitioners who make objects which apply contrasting textural elements (hard and aggressive/soft and comforting).
  • Break down the broadness of my current proposal and select one singular avenue to focus on until the interim show.
  • Explore other materials, such as rubber, wax, foam and textiles, in conjunction with ceramic elements.
  • Explore the notion of attraction/repulsion of human bodies and textures.
  • Draw more… human forms, body parts and contrasts of human textures.
  • Focus on my own response, rather than working ‘for others’.
  • Be more personal about what I do: do what I like and like what I do.

28th November 2016

They’re finished! Not quite 100 as planned (didn’t want to rush and scrimp on quality), but each of these will be for sale this weekend. I need to get feedback and observe people interacting with them to help me understand my next steps.

The forms are designed to be selected and arranged to form some kind of ‘irrational language’, as justified by the holder. I am very interested in the reasons why certain forms will be selected and arranged.

23rd November 2016

After speaking to one of my colleagues about my mini-tactiforms, two of the textures I had applied – the dimples and holes – reminded them of the Suriname Toad.  She showed me a video and we both recoiled in horror and disgust!

I’m not sure why I didn’t realise this before when making the textures, but it has now completely changed my perception of what I have created, from something of intrigue, to something of anxiety.  Upon further research, the recoil I experienced is linked to a condition called ‘trypophobia’, which is the fear of densely-holed surfaces.  The rationality of the fear relates to the human condition to fear danger lurking in unknown, dark spaces, such as insects that may sting.  I was really surprised at how intense my feeling of disgust and recoil was, especially when I don’t consider myself to be afraid of insects, or pathological natural dangers.Suriname Toad

18th November 2016

…in 2 weeks time I will be selling my work at an Art & Crafts fair, at Richmond Adult Community College (Saturday 3rd December). This will be my first ever proper market, and first time I will ever sell direct to the customer!

I have been busily working on a series of small tactiforms (100 is the target)… 50 made so far; here’s how they look!