Janet Cardiff is a Canadian artist who works with immersive multimedia, sound and audio/video walks (Miller, 2022). She often collaborates with Georges Bures Miller on the video walks to create alternative realities for the audience who listen to (and view) the constructed narrative, layered with background sounds and directions.
I spent some time looking at the different walks on their website. I selected Thought Experiments in F# Minor, described as “A labyrinthine video walk that takes you inside and outside of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A”.
The same place is used in the video, but there is previous footage of past events being shown at the same time as someone walking the tour. In addition, there are more fantastical elements, such as the cat conductor. The cat also links to the idea of reality in Schrodingers cat. What is real? Is video footage real? The people in the video are both alive and also not necessarily. An image or video always shows the past. We can then meet the person, the person has aged, changed, or in some cases, they may even have passed away, but the photo still exists.
Ideas for my Own Work
I find this piece very inspirational. I wonder if I could incorporate some time shifts in my own piece about mapping digital pieces. Superimposes two days of work on top of each other.
What are the main areas or ideas for reflection from the feedback you received?
Something that stands out to me is how my tutor really liked the pieces I didn’t particularly think were strong. I experimented with taking photos with wires on my screen, and I wasn’t happy with how they turned out, but my tutor really thought they were powerful. This makes me want to be more experimental and take a few more risks. Post work that I perhaps don’t think is finished and get feedback on it.
Creating any piece of work is a risk, and it exposes you to criticism, something nobody enjoys, but it is how we all learn and develop. It is something I definitely need to get better at. I could be braver with what I post here and open myself up for feedback more instead of waiting for a polished piece of work.
How will you develop and refine your work and ideas in response?
As mentioned, I want to be more creative and experimental. I need to get back into playing with ideas and not necessarily only post on here the ones that feel finished.
One thing I could do a lot more of is using my sketchbook to develop ideas and show how I get to my finished pieces.
Another aspect my tutor mentioned was to explain my thinking a little more.
Which sections of your work do you want to explore in more detail, and how might you do that?
I really want to explore this idea of the internet and time spent and now bring in place too. The internet is a place that perhaps doesn’t meet the conventional understanding of place, but we all curate our own little corners of the web. There isn’t a physical space but a digital space. How can I explore this?
What elements of your work start to reflect something about the place you chose to work in, and how might you build on that?
My work was based around my desk and where I work. How it is all digital and not something with a physical presence. Is this still a place?
Place: An Introduction by Tim Cresswell is a geography textbook for students focusing on human geography. It looks at the everyday usage of the term ‘place’ and the debates and discussions around the definition.
This post will summarise my notes from reading the Introductory chapter.
Notes on Introduction: Defining Place
Place is one of the most important terms in geography and its study benefits from an interdisciplinary one.
Artists along with geographers grapple with the idea of place.
Not only artists, but place now has a price attached to it and is important to businesses. GIS (geographic information systems) map places and fuse with social media so our phone always knows where we are. Data from this is valuable. There are open-source maps so that corporations don’t have a monopoly on the production of place.
This virtual battle reflects longstanding struggles over place. Links to previous protest movements.
Place often has political elements.
Place is important in many aspects of life – food production, housing, holidays. Yet despite its importance, it is very difficult to define. It isn’t a specialised academic term, it is an everyday term that is familiar to us. However, even though we inherently seem to think we know what it means, it is both simple and complicated. It is different to a word like “territory” which is a specialised term.
Every day uses include:
“Would you like to come round to my place?” – indicates some kind of connection between a person and a building and a notion of privacy and belonging.
“Brisbane is a nice place” – a geographical location
“She put me in y place” – a sense of position in a hierarchy
“A place for everything and everything in its place” – an ordering of things
We often add possessions to spaces to turn a space into place.
We name spaces in the world to give them meaning. Coordinates on a map mean nothing, give it a name like a city and we get an image of what it is like.
The most straightforward definition – “a meaningful location”.
John Agnew has outlined three fundamental aspects of a place as a meaningful location.
Location – they have fixed coordinates on the Earth’s surface.
Locale – the material setting for social relations
Sense of place. – subjective and emotional attachment
When humans invest some kind of meaning in a portion of space it becomes a place.
Goes beyond just landscape they are connections, they help us understand people.
Artists and Works Mentioned
Towards Re-Enchantment: Place and Its Meanings by Evans and Robson
Christian Marclay – installation in Gstaad Switzerland
“place is perhaps the key term for interdisciplinary research in the arts, humanities and social sciences in the twenty-first century.”
“Place is a word that seems to speak for itself.”
“You discover the art through the place and the place through the art”
“Power of Place”
“transforming space into place”
The GIS systems mentioned and how valuable this data is, links to my data collection in assignment 4. I wonder if I could incorporate some of this into a piece?
Cresswell, T 2014, Place: An Introduction, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, Hoboken. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [1 Apr 2022].
Here are three extracts which contemplate the theme of ‘place’ in different ways:
The Herefordshire Landscape by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Hills, vales, woods, netted in a silver mist, Farm, granges, doubled up among the hills, And cattle grazing in the watered vales, And cottage-chimneys smoking from the woods, And cottage-gardens smelling everywhere, Confused with smell of orchards.
The Lost Land by Eavan Boland
I can see the shore of Dublin Bay. Its rocky sweep and its granite pier. Is this, I say How they must have seen it, Backing out on the mailboat at twilight, Shadows falling On everything they had to leave? And would love forever? And then I imagine myself At the landward rail of that boat Searching for the last sight of a hand. I see myself On the underworld side of that water, The darkness coming in fast, Saying all the names I know for a lost land: Ireland. Absence. Daughter.
Slough by John Betjeman
Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough! It isn’t fit for humans now, There isn’t grass to graze a cow. Swarm over, Death! Come, bombs and blow to smithereens Those air-conditioned, bright canteens, Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans, Tinned minds, tinned breath.
Although each is about place and evoke a sens of place, they are on different levels.
The Herefordshire Landscape purely evokes a sense of place. It is atmospheric, full of visual language that evokes all the senses and gives you an idealistic view of the English countryside. It is peaceful, calm and allows you to picture yourself in the landscape living a carefree life. There are no politics in this world, it is celebrating the pure beauty of place in an escapism way.
Slough is much more political and thought-provoking and is a commentary on modern life. You get a real feeling of contempt for modernity from John Betjeman. It makes definite social comment about progress and place about how humanity with its modern interventions has made a place inhospitable. He actually wants bombs to “fall on Slough!” as “It isn’t fit for humans now”.
The Lost Land evokes a sense of place in relation to identity and exile. The poet is longing for Ireland “saying all the names I know for a lost land”. You get a feeling of desperation and loss from the poet, grief for a place and he is imagining himself looking at the shore of Dublin Bay.
I actually like all three poems in different ways. I love the pure escapism and naive joy in Browning’s poetry. It is a world I want to live in. I also like the thought-provoking nature of the second two poems. All three have given me more ideas to explore around Place.
How can I explore the sensual nature of place?
Place is linked to politics and change – how can this be explored?
I would like to create a triptych of the three poems and the images they invoke.
Place is difficult to define. I decided to create a mind map with all the ideas I think about when I consider the word place. Place is home, it is linked to people and culture but there is also a sense of movement about it. Place never remains still. Just like time. There is constant change, boundaries change, people and things move in the place, time changes places like the seasons, climate, there is growth and shrinking.
I don’t think I am any clearer about what place is. Can we even define it?
Assignment 4 was the first real practical piece I did so I was pleased with the feedback I got. I had a video call with my tutor to discuss my work who is very impressed with my progress so far. I have produced a good range of creative experiments so far and am beginning to find my personal visual language. This I am pleased about as it is an area that was concerning me. It is always difficult producing something personal and getting feedback on it as it is something you have poured feeling into. I realise this is an area alongside my perfectionism that I struggle with as I have a fear of people not liking or understanding it, even being judgemental about it. I think all artists feel like this to some extent and it is about gaining confidence in yourself and your work to face criticism. Not everyone is always going to like or understand everything you produce and that is okay if it comes from a place of authenticity.
One area to work on is to continue building synergy between different elements of my practice in research and studio work. I think I am still a little too careful and could experiment more to create even better synergy and unique pieces.
It was interesting that my tutor picked out one photo as a highlight that I wasn’t too keen on when I originally created it. Again it should be a reason to not worry so much about what people think as they will have different opinions on what I do and different preferences so I shouldn’t be afraid to experiment.
My tutor also gave me a lot of links and suggestions to look at which I have summarised here:
This project has allowed me to be more creative in my responses to the ideas of Time. There have been a few ideas that I have tried to develop as I have progressed through the learning exercises.
1. A Series of Work “What is Time?”
My everyday job involves spending all day at the computer. I work digitally and remotely for a company and so spend up to 10 hours a day sometimes moving my mouse and clicking on various parts of the screen to “work”. At the end of 10 hours at the computer, I get up and leave the desk with nothing physical to show for the mental effort. The only physical effort is maintaining my posture and moving my hands, both to type on the keyboard and my right hand to move the mouse. The mouse moves no more than a few cm to move a cursor on a screen no more than 0.5 metres in any direction. At the end of the day, I have created many bytes of data but what can I show? In the past, people would have more physical tactile jobs where after 10 hours they would have a physical product, their muscles would ache, they would have a wall, a ditch, a selection of crops, a garment they had made. The work was physically tough but they had something concrete to hold in their hands. I do not. I wanted to create something to show what I spend my time doing. My picture is the result. Something I can be proud of.
Using recording software, I screen recorded a standard work task. The software was set up so that it recorded the whole screen, highlighted the mouse movement and would flash red every time the mouse was clicked.
I then watched the recording back in slow motion, so that even a 20-minute task took over 2 hours to watch back. As I watched I copied the movement of the mouse on the screen with a white gel pen on black paper. Each time the screen flashed red to indicate a mouse click, I paused to glue a red star in the spot of the click.
I stopped to photograph the work after 5-minutes, 10-minutes and 20-minutes of real-time recording.
2. Reflection on “What is Time?”
The idea developed from a combination of Jane Grisewood’s line drawings where she walks and draws and the line drawing responses to exercise 2: marking time. Jane Grisewood’s drawings are about the performance and what they represent rather than any technical traditional drawing style which is something I tried to incorporate here. My “drawing” isn’t classically skilled, it is a simple white continuous line, like Jane Grisewood, the addition of very childlike glued on stars adds to this in my work. I am not aiming for something that looks skilled, I am aiming for something that speaks more about what it represents than something technically accomplished or stunning to look at. Time was also a big factor in Grisewood’s work that I was trying to emulate. Her works take hours to create with the mental determination and focus to complete them being a big aspect. I wanted to create something on this scale, and this work is unfinished. I would like to extend it and create a full 10 hours of screen time into this style which will take me somewhere close to 100 hours to complete.
It is odd as when I read back my reflection on Grisewood’s work, I recall that when I first saw it I wasn’t particularly moved or made to think much. But it clearly left a bigger impression on me than I realised at the time.
The inspiration for the source of the movement in relation to time came during the activities in exercise two. I chose to base those activities at my desk as it’s where I spend the most time. I commented at the time “I have chosen to base this work at my desk as it is a place where I spend most of my day and I am not always happy about spending so much time here. I wonder if the emotion of feeling trapped here will come through in what I produce.” I think that has come across in the way the drawing does create a mesh, a trap for the stars. Stars of ideas but trapped in the monotonous white lines.
The poem I wrote at the start shows the initial idea:
Tucked away in the corner of a room
Facing a barren wall
No window to dream out of
Prisoners have more pleasure
Yet my desk remains
The source of my income and freedom
Entrapment leading to enrichment
A necessary evil?
Constant pings as people keep me here
Tasks pile up, yet the space remains clear
No papers anymore to show what I have achieved
Digital is the only mark I make.
"Digital is the only mark I make.". I want to create more.
Whilst completing the one-line drawings in that exercise, the one that stood out was the white pen on black paper:
However, I wanted to develop the idea of drawing one continuous line into something else. I did try to create something digitally and here the red circles were the mouse clicks:
However, I wanted to move completely away from making something digitally as that is part of the message.
I am still drawn to digital as a discipline. There was obviously digital components to this. I had to digitally record and manipulate the video in order to be able to draw from it. The end result is very physical. There is a sense of depth and going back in time as the stars that end up being hidden by newer white lines go back in the piece and you get a sense they were created first. It is giving time direction and the aspect of we can’t go back to those moments that were gone as they are now hidden in the mesh of time that has since happened.
As mentioned previously, I want to develop this even more. Do a longer recording and on a bigger scale. Experiment with different techniques of creating the lines. To make something 3D involving wool or thread as the lines would be interesting. To make a giant board to represent the screen and then hammer in a nail or pin to wrap the string around each time there is a mouse click. To get a real trap, a mesh that extends forwards would be intriguing. In exercise 2, I also played with sounds a little to try and something to develop to accompany it. Just having the mouse clicks as sounds could perhaps add to the atmosphere, it would be reminiscent of Geiger Mueller counters when they click every time a radioactive substance decays. Like time decaying and we can’t stop it.
Reflection on Progress
I feel that I have progressed a lot during this project, particularly in terms of being more creative and selective about where I spend my time. The initial piece on Tacita Dean was very research-focused but since then I feel my responses are more creative. I have started to try and include more of my random experiments with different materials linked and not linked to the course directly. For example painting with wool and life drawing. Life drawing isn’t something I have ever really done before but I enjoy going to draw from observation and it is teaching me a lot about drawing quickly and in real life. I feel it will help my general painting too and ideas of the human body in terms of scale and proportion. I’ve also tried to start writing up some of my random research and ideas from the history of art I end up looking at. One day maybe there will be more structure and pattern to these!
I very much enjoyed the different creative activities and I am starting to develop them into more of a narrative to explore the idea of time. I do seem to have moved away from my idea of how the perception of messages over time evolve during this project, but I still wish to return to that.
Grisewood, J. (n.d.). Jane Grisewood Artist. [online] janegrisewood.com. Available at: http://janegrisewood.com/. [Accessed 21 Feb, 2022]
Due to a few delays, I am late receiving and responding to this feedback. However, I still feel like it is useful to pause before submitting assignment 4 to reflect on previous work.
I completed Project 3 over a month ago and recently had a video call with my tutor to discuss progress so far. There are lots of positives in the feedback, I do feel like my research and writing about what I have found is good but I do agree it would be good going forwards to include more personal reflections and how what I am researching will impact my work. I do need to trust my own instincts and opinions more.
A lot of our discussion and feedback was around creative work. I still don’t feel I am making enough time for my own creations and this is something I really do need to prioritise going forwards. I think I have started to do so in Project 4, with creative responses and I am trying to include more of my own work on here. I still have to work on the perfectionist streak I have where I want everything on this learning log/blog to be the finished product.
Mapping 5-mins, 10-mins and 20-mins of mouse movements and clicks.
I screen recorded my work and then sat and watched it back. As I watched I followed the mouse movement with a white pen and then stopped to glue a star for every click I made.
Watching it back made me reflect on what do we have to show for a day of working online? We work hard but physically move little and then at the end of the day have nothing to show but a tiny bit more data generated.
This was one of the “line drawings” I completed for that exercise but using drawing software. This only covered a short period of time but I wanted to extend the idea.
I prefer the idea of creating something very analogue and material from a digital piece. So much of what I do all day for work is online, I wanted a physical something to hold to represent the time I spend working.
The final piece after 20-minutes is the look I was aiming for and I still may develop it to an even longer piece. I like that it reminds me of neural networks or data networks, or even a constellation and galaxy explosion.
I also like how the stars from early on get hidden by the white pen to create a mesh of activity and some depth to the piece. There is a sense of movement in the piece.
How might your chosen method, process, or media ‘reveal’ time?
I feel like my piece reveals a snapshot in time but shows that time has fluidity and movement to it. It captures “work” done in a period of time but in an unconventional way.
Which element of time do you feel your work is exploring or communicating?
Time and work are linked. This explores the nature of very modern work and how we often end a day with nothing physical to show for it.
What is the role of pace in the processes of making and looking?
Although this was a 20-minute recording, the process of making a physical replica took much longer. I had to slow down the video to get the mouse movements and pause each time there was a click to get the star glued down. It highlights how time can change depending on how you are interacting with it.
Is stillness possible in and through mark-making?
There is both stillness and movement in the piece. It is like a camera shot of the action. A still in time. There is also a movement that comes across from the lines.
How might duration be explored in drawing, photography, text, sound?
The duration here is interesting. Although it is 20-minutes of recording. It took much longer to make.
Which of the creative disciplines are you combining and how do they work together?
It is almost a reverse animation. Going from video recording to physical drawing. Where most people may draw ideas to then animate or record.