The exhibition opening night was a great success, it was so good to see all of our efforts over the last few months come together to produce such a well executed and varied exhibition around the theme time. It was a shame that the fire alarm interrupted the evening, but it gave us an idea as to how many people turned up!
I think the biggest success for the collaboration aspect of unit X was the Facebook group which we made, it was great for sharing ideas, letting people know how you are getting on and also a place for group discussion and voicing any opinions or concerns.
All hands on deck!
It was great to see everyone working together and deciding on important issues, like which pieces compliment each other and how best to display works, as a team. We would all help each other out, and when your area was sorted you would give someone else a hand who hadn't finished yet. there was constant conversations about what was working and where improvements could be made and we didn't leave until everyone was satisfied. This was a huge change from the practice exhibition in G01 the other week! The task of producing an cohesive exhibition that seemed so daunting just seven days ago was now an easily manageable one through having all the finished pieces ready and all the group chipping in together. As a team we brought several different ideas and works together and created one single, harmonious representation of time, displayed across many pieces.
The set up was also a great opportunity to talk to other people about their work and to get a real insight into how and why they did certain things or used certain materials. Although this project was meant to focus on collaboration I feel that it was only in the last week that we actually came together and started working as a team. This is probably down to a few key points, the first being that the unit started just before the easter holidays where everyone was off doing their own things (I was in Spain and Portugal for the most) and we hadn't really met up as a group before then. Also the fact that people have done what they want and don't want to be tied down to working in a certain group hasn't helped, but also I thought that the collaboration of unit X was the coming together of students from different courses, fine art, art history and curation, to produce an exhibition of work on the theme of time, which we have actually managed to do rather well.
When I got to federation house with my tree trunk it was clear that it didn't work with the wooden floorboards, wood on wood was not good, it detracted from my piece. I decided it needed to have something else underneath it and tried white paper but that still didn't look great. I also thought that it needed raising off the ground slightly but worked well with the viewer looking down upon it, so I made a small plinth for it to rest on. I got a piece of MDF of 15mm thickness cut to A2 size and painted the edges white. I was messing around with some photos I had printed earlier that day, seeing what would look good and when I put the tree trunk on top of the 8 x 8 Sky photo montage that I had produced previously in the unit, I knew they complimented each other. I then decided to get a thin sheet of clear perspex cut to A2 size to go in-between the trunk and photo so the weight of the trunk didn't distort the photo. I am really happy with the end result that came about from being playful and open to new ideas!
I think the base worked well for me because having it raised slightly off the ground gave it a sense of importance, but still allowed the viewer to look down upon it. Having both the edges of the MDF painted white and the border of the photograph white gave the impression that it was all one sculpture and meant all the components came together to make one coherent sculpture. I think the sky photo works well on several levels, firstly it is another huge reference to Nature, secondly the deep blues bring out the warm woody colours of the trunk and lastly I think the gridded design of the photo contrasts the organic nature of the tree. The grid is very precise and has the feel of a man made aspect to it, almost transforming the sky into something that can be manipulated, manufactured and mass produced, turning it into a synthetic product.
The sky works on another level allowing the sculpture to almost levitate, seeing that the sky is below the stump. The photo looked pretty effective by itself on the floor, just because it has a bit of a juxtaposition with the sky and looking down onto the floor. Its not a sight you often see and it feels unnatural to have look down and find what you usually see looking up.
This is the first day we were allowed into federation house to see our space and start working on setting up the exhibition. I walked into town with my tree trunk and found out what kind of space we had to work with.
It was exciting seeing the space for the first time and although it didn't look like much, we could see the potential in it. It was a good size space with enough floor space for the sculptures and some wall space for hanging. We were given and endless supply of cardboard to make temporary walls to hang more works on, which weren't the most effective or flattering for the work.
The technicians in the wood workshop recommended using some linseed oil to bring out the natural sheen that the trunk had lost from drying in the sun. I went to Wilko's and bought a bottle of it and gave the trunk a good coating, it only needed one coat and was transformed, enhancing the grain definition and bringing out the natural sheen of the wood.
Originally I was going to draw a design on, but I talked to the technicians in the wood workshop and they recommended using a pyrography tool to burn the design in, I agreed that that was the best idea and they got it out for me to use.
The tool was quite tricky to use at first, but the more I used it the better and more steady handed I got. With the trunk not being perfectly circular I decided to use the rings as a guide and kept the design within a few rings, this was very helpful because the space between them changed and so there was room for imperfections with the writing or numerals. If you look at the roman numerals photo then you can clearly see the difference in size of some of them, I think this works really well though because it accentuates the importance of the rings, but also nature isn't perfectly precise, it is the imperfections that give it its organic feel. Nature doesn't conform to the strict guidelines of urban linear time, with its precise milliseconds and constant ticking away, nature is free to grow and evolve. It is these contrasting ideas that I am trying to highlight with my sculpture and retaining the writing within the rings is another effective way of showing this.
I loked in word for a suitable font for the seasons, I wanted one that would work well with the theme of nature, one that had an organic feel and had a flow. I found Trajan Pro which was perfect, I particularly like the R and the curves on the U and G. I think the serif typeface works well and is in keeping with the numerals and also the traditional, old fashioned style. This typeface allows a little change between the seasons too, Spring has a nice curvy exterior and feels a lot more inviting than Winter, where the strong, straight lines resemble the cold harshness of the winter weather. I don't know if this is down to the letters or the typeface but it works well.
Today we had our practice exhibition in G01 and it was terrible! First of all only half the people actually turned up so we didn't know exactly how much space each person would need and what kind of space everyone wanted, either wall hanging space, floor space or a dark room for projections, whether their finished pieces would be a sculpture, video instillation or photographs and which work it would compliment and look good next to. For the people that did manage to turn up it wasn't that great either, most of the work wasn't complete (me included) and in some cases was just an idea brought along that made it very difficult to place it next to other work. It also didn't help that we were in a completely different space to the one we were actually exhibiting in, which made it hard to determine how much wall and floor space we would actually have, wether there would be windows near, what shape the space is, how high the ceiling is and even what material the floor would be. These are all small details but they are massively important when it comes to curating an exhibition. I understand that it is important to bring everyone together and try to collaborate with each other and get a feel for an exhibition space, but with it being so different to where we are exhibiting and with only a handful of the group with semi finished pieces it doesn't really help. I think it would have been much more useful to spend the day working on our pieces and all coming together when we can get into federation house and spending the day there moving work around, trying different combinations out and transforming the space into an actual exhibition.
This was a prime example of how the collaboration of different people coming together didn't really work, there is about half the group that haven't bothered turning up to any of the meetings and haven't played a role in the several group chats we have been having on the Facebook page specifically made for 'Time Unit X Group'. It is these people who are letting the side down. On the other hand, the group chat has been really useful for communicating with other people who we wouldn't normally see on a regular basis and keep up to date with what they are getting up to with their work.
I decided to photocopy the trunk so I could test out some designs before actually marking the wood itself.
Idea 1 - Is kind of an amalgamation of many ideas and doesn't really correlate with the notion of natures time as a cyclical, although I do really like the word timelessness and it is fitting that it has 12 letters. I think the roman numerals work a lot better than actual numbers as they feel more old fashioned or traditional and in keeping with nature, because it to has been around centuries ago.
Idea 2 - I really like the idea of an outward ever expanding spiral when thinking about time, as it sort of mimics what happens in previous cycles but is always evolving and changing. This is maybe a good design for a different time, but it doesn't really represent natures time all to well.
Idea 3 - Starting with the Roman numerals, it is similar to a clock, signifying that we are looking at time, the next layer out is the months, of which there are 12 (very handy), then I have added the seasons on the next layer and then finally we have the moon cycle on the outside. I really like this design and am going to continue with this one.
First thing to do with the tree trunk is to sand it down to get a nice smooth finish and so you can see the wonderful grain of the rings underneath. For this I used the orbital sander down in the wood workshop.
It took well over an hour to sand it down to a completely flat surface because of the previous striations that cut quite deep into the trunk. This was definitely time well spent though as the stump looks so much better and you can clearly see each individual ring expanding out from the centre.
We went to the YSP and Hepworth Gallery today and it was definitely worth going. I had been to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park not that long ago but this time when we went we got to go into the storeroom where they keep all the sculptures while not on show and had a really insightful talk into how and where they source their sculptures from and how much funding they get to buy them. It was interesting to see this side, that we rarely see, and was great to get an idea of how we might submit our work to get bought by people after we leave university.
We then went on to the Hepworth Gallery which I haven't been to before, it was a nice change to look at art rather than think about creating my own for a while. Im not a massive fan of her work but it was interesting to see how long she had been creating art for and the huge catalogue of work she had managed to make.
All in all it was good day out, although it did not relate directly to my work, it is always good to expand your horizons, visit new places and try new things.
Have been wanting to expand into sculpture and found a tree trunk today that looks perfect for me. I have already touched on ideas of how nature has a cyclic time and how in the western world we have more of a linear perception of time, and looking back through my work it is clear to me that I am much more in sync with nature and its cycle of time. For me a tree is one of the first connections I make when the thinking about the word nature, it is also a fundamental image associated with nature, wether it be a single tree, a leaf or even a whole forest, so I think it is a great starting point from which to create a sculpture looking at the idea of nature's cyclical time.
Tried the same idea again but with 100 individual photos, meaning that this covers a time frame of 3 hours and 20 minutes!
Similarly to the first attempt in Portugal this one is plagued by cloud, which to me is no where near as effective as having the blue sky running through. Also the blue in these photos changes quite dramatically between frames, I think this is due to the sun shining on and off the camera and changing the settings quite drastically. With the 8 x 8 one the clouds never took over the full frame and I feel that in this grid they don't at the start, do in the middle and don't again at the end which looses the connection from start to finish, making it a lot less effective than the others. At least the 5 x 5 one stayed mostly cloud for it all, in doing so it kept the flow between the different frames, this one doesn't and so looses the relationship the individual photos share with the photo taken after it and the photo taken previous to it. There is nothing to say that these photos are all linked.
I did another time-lapse while sat in the park, it was a very nice sunny day by Manchester standards! Again I took a photo every 2 minutes so this image shows the change in 2 hours and 8 minutes all together.
I really like how this turned out, there is a great ratio of blue sky and clouds that the previous 5 x 5 grid was lacking in, I also think the greater number of photos works better, giving you more of a variety of different shots. The blue is rich and adds another layer to the image that the previous one didn't have, also it is a lot more recognisable as sky. The clouds also seem to have been moving quite slowly in this one, because you definitely see how each frame relates to the one before and after it, there is a crossover that is unmistakeable, whereas you didn't really get that with the Portugal one.
Here I have just taken the middle section of the photograph from each 5 minute shot and put them next to each other to emphasise the change that occurred in the hour by looking at how it directly affected the same area.
I quite like this as an image in itself but it is really useful for seeing how the change in time does change the things around them. The gradual change from sunlight to shade is shown effectively here by the shadows creeping up on the tree, you can see it go right up until even the branches at the top are covered. You can also see the food truck just behind the tree start packing up and then leave by the middle point.
The change here is just as apparent as it was in the original image, the frequent change in the weather caused the sun to be shut out by clouds every now and then. This piece shows how time effects an area but not in the linear way that the above photo does, instead this one shows how things can change and then revert back to how it was, more of a cyclical view of time.
I am starting to think of natures time and urban time as two separate ideas of time, for example natures time is to me a cycle, you have the seasons that come around and happen again each year, the moon cycle, the circle of life and also the fact that trees grow outwards and you get the circles or rings that show haw many years old they are. Then on the other hand you have urban time, a linear adaptation of time with its idea that 'time is money', time costs you, you don't get time back and you will never have enough of it. It is a very immediate view of the now and of the present without a care for the future or the past, it is a single track that can only lead to one thing, an inevitable end. A cycle has a much more positive view of time, one that comes around again and again, it has a structure, a reliability and a constant reoccurrence.
Tried some more of these shots around Manchester.
I chose this location as I thought it would be good because of the different roads and directions of traffic, but it ended up being a nit of a disappointment because there is hardly any sign of change. The blue sky didn't change much at all and I hardly got any vehicles or other signs of movement. This was probably due to the timing, it was around midday and the roads were quite quiet. I think another reason this one hasn't worked out that well is that lots of photographic subject is further away than in the shots where they have worked better.
I think this one is particularly effective because you can see all the sections of busses that have been split up by the columns of time. You also get the sunlight slowly creeping up as the shade consumes the park on the right and then climbs up to cover the tree and the buildings in the background. I also like how the tree branches fill the space in the sky that would be empty and plain otherwise, they also play a strong part in linking the columns together to form a coherent image when some of the crossovers don't match up. You need a mixture of both of these elements to make this idea into a successful image.
After trying for a while to get a descent shot with traffic and failing because of the distance, I got one that was close to the action and chose this location because of the busy crossroads and church in the background. Although there is not as much action as I hoped for it is a lot better than the other ones I have of roads and traffic. The shadows changing in the bottom left hand corner also show the slow shift in time which I like.
There was a great view out of the window at the hostel we were staying at...
...and I had the idea of taking lots of photos at different times of the day and then showing the same window but with each individual section showing a different time of day. Here is the finished result.
I think it was a good idea but the finished piece isn't that great because of a few problems. the first was that I didn't have a tripod with me so the photos were all taken from different positions as I moved throughout the day, this meant that the window sections were all different sizes and at slightly different angles so they didn't fit the individual window panes well at all. This also forced me to crop the image down to just the black window frame which looks a bit tacky in my opinion. Also the times I took the photos were pretty similar because we were usually away from the hostel during the day, so a lot of the photos looked very similar, either early morning or with a sunset.
I have found that a lot of my photo montages have a similar way of working to that of john stezakers collages.
I think the reason our images work so well is because of the few strong lines that cross over and connect the separate images together, there are a lot of lines that don't match up perfectly, but your eyes choose to see the ones that do and forget about the ones that don't. This is true at first glance, but after a while of staring at it you begin to see that there are lines that don't match up and you drift between seeing them as one single connected image and two separate totally unrelated photos. The most effective photo montages I have made stay true to this idea and are better understood after studying them for a while.
Thinking about Carmen Laffon's sky paintings (previously posted) I have decided to take photos of the sky every 2 minutes with my camera aiming straight up and as zoomed in as possible, using a remote shutter as to not move the position of the camera. I planned to take 25 photos to fill a 5 x 5 grid of photos lining them up next to each other so you can see the crossover of time and wether they flow.
Although there isn't much blue sky in these images I think that is an advantage, there is a strong contrast and character that the clouds hold. You can see some similarities in the some of the photos that are next to each other but also lots of differences, changes and developments in the weather. I think this works really well and can definitely see the inspiration that has come from Carmen's paintings, although it is a lot smaller scale than wall size. the obvious next step for me is to go bigger and better, more photos!