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.
I feel that I have developed a lot during this project and even though it has taken me slightly longer than planned, I think the time has been worth it. When I look back at my reflection on my assignment two feedback, I am confident that with each project my progress across the learning outcomes is improving.
From the points to improve, I am narrowing down my analysis. The Analysing Art workshop really helped with this and it has given me the confidence to trust my own analysis rather than read a lot of other people’s before starting my own. For example, in the last piece of work where I was looking at Deveney and Michal’s use of image and text, I didn’t jump straight into researching all about both artists and finding numerous pieces of their work to look at. Instead, I found images of their work and let my natural interest select one piece of work from each to analyse. I spent time considering my own reactions and thoughts before even looking at any other opinions.
I am starting to develop a clearer idea of my own creative direction and am experimenting more alongside the contextual work. I am developing this idea of how perceptions can be altered through what message we receive over time. I started this with The Road where I painted purely from memory the image I had from reading an extract from The Road. What I’d like to do next is extend on this Ekphrastic method and write something based on my painting, then paint or create something based on the new piece of writing and so on for a few cycles. I then want to evaluate or let others judge if there is any imagery or element from the original “Road” left. See what traces of the original are there. I also like the idea of doing this starting from a painting like “Starry Night” which already has a poem associated with it by Ann Sexton and then creating something based on her poem. I wonder how many “generations” it takes until that message is so disrupted it bears no resemblance to the original. This intrigues me as one of my big areas of interest are the old Celtic myths which we have no true written record of, only oral tales that have been passed from early generations. I wonder how much of the tales we tell now are based on what the ancient Celts told each other or believed. It is also extremely relevant in today’s media age where everyone can spread their own version of an event online and over time that idea gets more and more twisted from the original.
It was suggested in my last assignment feedback that I reflect according to the course outcomes:
1. Demonstrate an awareness of a range of contemporary theories and practices in the creative arts.
This is an area I seem to grow in each project. For each project, I try to focus on artists and pieces of work that I have no prior knowledge or experience of. In doing so, I am increasing my knowledge of contemporary practices and theories and generating new ideas for my own work. I am also attending galleries and events where possible. Since the last assignment I have been to Tate Liverpool, Williamson Art Gallery attended the student association talk on the Red Dress and the Analysing Art Workshop. I am also reading wherever I can and keeping a track of these in my Bibliography.
2. Apply and test a range of creative skills to investigate theories of time and place.
This is an area I am continuing to develop in, but I still feel like I could be doing more. Although I created a painted response, this isn’t a new technique to me. I really need to start focusing on experimenting more and using my sketchbook again to develop ideas based on what I am reading and seeing. I am hoping going to a Sketchbook workshop next week will help me get some new ideas and focus here. I am trying to build on my drawing skills by attending fortnightly life drawing sessions at the local gallery. Although drawing life figures isn’t necessarily a big focus of mine, the skills and observational skills are very useful and will help me in this programme.
3. Demonstrate self-directed research skills across theories and practices of creative arts.
I consider this to be one of my strongest areas and especially after the Analysing Art workshop, I feel my confidence is growing here. I think my referencing is now stronger and more focused. Instead of sweeping a broad net to find as much information as I can, I am starting to hone in on the areas of interest that are the most relevant to me. I am now including access dates in references. I have started to use Padlet more as a way of organising my initial research.
4. Reflect and review your practical work and communication of ideas.
I think this area will develop more in the next project where it will be more practical based. I hope to start analysing my own work with the same skills I am analysing other people’s work. I continue to read How to Write About Contemporary Art (Williams, 2014) to improve my writing skills.
Learning Action Points:
Experiment more with creativity based on what I have been reading and seeing. Each time I analyse someone’s work, I want to rite a small piece about what I can take from it for my own practice and then spend some time experimenting with those ideas.
Analyse my own pieces of work with the same structure I am analysing other people’s.
Continue to develop my own clear idea of my own practice. I still don’t think I have a clear vision of where I am heading towards.
Catch up the two weeks I have lost due to illness. I am still not too concerned about completing the whole programme as I left myself catch up weeks.
Write up on my blog more of my experiments and creations.
Part 2 – Research on Interdisciplinary Making
When I try looking for interdisciplinary artists, it is quite overwhelming as there are so many ways in which I could take this. I decided to just use the OCA library and conduct a search for “interdisciplinary artist” and not spend too much time looking at all the different ones but instead selecting one that stood out for me.
The first is Eiko Otake a movement-based interdisciplinary artist who I found in an article in Dance Magazine (2021). The piece of work I am drawn to is A Body in Fukushima.
A Body in Fukushima is complex, probably too complex for me to do justice to it here. It is haunting, powerful, deep, layered and extensive. My initial questions are where to begin? Is Fukushima even safe to be visiting? Do all the expressive ways add to the meaning or detract from it?
It is an extensive and expanding collaborative project that features photography, dance, film, essays, video installations and has evolved to be its own body of work. One of the main elements are photographs of a woman dancing in abandoned sites that we are told are the irradiated areas surrounding the abandoned Fukushima nuclear reactor. The dance movement is expressive, gestural and emotional, with the woman wearing clothes that are as bleak as the surroundings. There is also one event at the Met Cloisters where the dancer (Eiko Otake) performs in front of a projection of Fukushima images.
“By putting my body in these places, I thought of the generations of people who used to live there. Now desolate, only time and wind continue to move. ”
In total Otake and William Johnston (photographer) made five trips to Fukushima between 2014 and 2017. They found the area to be abandoned and each time they saw change in the landscape and buildings. The photographs capture the expression of Otake’s dance but also the evolving landscape. From these initial visits, the films and video installations evolved.
Johnstone and Otake visited Fukushima only three years after the nuclear disaster, there is a sense of bravery in them even going to a place most people would avoid. Otake is a Japanese dancer and so have connections to Fukushima and the land of Japan.
In interviews with her, she talks about wanting to tell the story of people in Fukushima and tell the world of the abandoned place. She had this innate desire to dance there to tell the story of the land. The interview is also insightful about how artists choose who to collaborate with and the need to have a close relationship with those you are working with in terms of shared values and goals.
Part 3 – Reflection on Interdisciplinary Work
Interdisciplinary work is powerful. I feel it is how we expand our knowledge as a human society. It gets us thinking on a deeper creative level than just focusing on one discipline. It is the interdisciplinary aspect of this programme that made me want to sign up for the degree in Creative Arts rather than one of the disciplines I am interested in. When I think about how we learn, there are different levels of learning and at the top of that hierarchy is developing new methods of working to learn in a creative way. When I look at a variety of interdisciplinary artists, the thing that seems to link them is that they create something to make people contemplate in a deep way.
I am still struggling to explain the concepts in a simple way in words. To me, it is levels of thinking. Disciplines can be used together in a cross-disciplinary way where the techniques of one discipline are used to view another. For example, creating a poetic response to a painting like in the Ekphrastic technique. If you then develop this and start working with different disciplines at the same time then you are working in a multidisciplinary way, for example, adding textile techniques and stitching to a painting. Beyond this, once you start merging the lines of each discipline to create something new you are into interdisciplinarity. This is harder to define and give examples of. I think that the way Johnstone and Otake work is truly interdisciplinary as they are creating a new form of expression by merging photography, and film. It goes beyond just taking photos of a dancer.
I am still trying to find my own creative way of working in an interdisciplinary way and feel I have a long way to go.
Part 4 – Reflect on Disciplines
Part of my problem (or blessing?) is that I am still interested in many different disciplines. These primarily are visual in terms of painting and photography, but also poetry, textiles and filmmaking. I think the main thread that runs through all my interests is that I like the intellectual, mentally stimulating pieces of work. Aesthetics don’t interest me unless the way something looks is adding to the strength of the conversations that piece draws.
For me, one of the main riles of the creative arts isn’t just to entertain or make visually appealing pieces but it is to start those difficult conversations around life, death, the future and what we are doing to the world. I like pieces that link to philosophical, ethical or scientific exploration.
When I consider all the pieces that I have been drawn to throughout the programme so far it is this, the interpretation and meaning that I am drawn to rather than the discipline itself. I think this will develop me into a more interesting creative practitioner as the programme develops as I have an open mind to many disciplines.
Part 5 – Engagement with Peers
As the programme progresses I am evolving my way of interacting with and engaging with peers. I have attended each of Doug’ Wednesday sessions to meet other students online, done two workshops and am the most prolific poster in the group chat. I do need to make more effort in sharing some ideas and posts beyond the casual chat. I’ll admit, I find the forums still difficult to navigate as I can never seem to get back to where I posted.
I received my assignment 2 feedback last week and thought it would be useful to reflect upon it.
My work is thorough and organised.
I demonstrate excellent research skills and critical reflection.
I am learning from a wide range of creative disciplines and broadening my knowledge and understanding.
I am expanding my critical and theoretical competencies.
Using a Venn diagram in a creative way to display research more visually.
My research observations are excellent in compiling historical, contextual and observational information.
Points to Improve/Consider
My analysis can be sometimes too broad in scope. Consider narrowing down to the specifics of what types of art etc.
Begin to establish a clearer idea of my creative direction.
Experiment with ideas and materials alongside contextual work.
Do more making and less written reflection.
Activate research in a way that draws connection to my creative ideas.
Look at Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate to compare to Aitken’s Mirror.
Write reflections for assignments using the learning outcomes for 1.1 Experience Creative Arts.
Include access dates in references.
Overall I am happy with the feedback I received here. I was aware that time was an issue for this assignment and I neglected some of the more creative responses to just get to the submission point. I am pleased that my tutor thinks that I have good research skills and that my referencing has improved. I do feel this is a real strength of mine. I do need to continue forwards trying to incorporate a more creative way of tackling each exercise and to include more images of my own sketches, ideas and creations.
I feel in terms of academic theory about creative arts I have gained a great deal in this project. It has been quite theory-heavy overall and I am looking forward to a chance to put some of these ideas into my own pieces of work. However, despite the theory work, it has been another great eye-opener in terms of finding new artists work and ideas to explore and reflect on.
The exercise on ‘Formal Elements‘ at the beginning of this unit both helped and hindered me. It was a great help to contemplate some artistic theory across disciplines and a great chance for me to formalise some of the ideas I already knew but perhaps don’t always think about when looking at pieces of work. However, it also highlighted to me the difficulty when applying these rather outdated lists to contemporary pieces that span disciplines. For example, I struggled to think about how to apply these formal elements to works such as installations and land art. I did find it useful to apply these lists to a piece like The Hedonistic Imperative (Ziegler, 2006) and the films The Story of the Last Chrysanthemumsand Amelie.
I appreciated the chance to return to one of my favourite pieces from the Project One lecture. Future Library(Paterson, 2014) and this gave me the opportunity to use the OCA library to find some existing analysis on this work. By reading other critical analyses it gave me a new insight into the artwork. When I had considered the piece, I focused on the environmental message and the role of the forest and the trees, by reading other critiques, I was able to grasp the view of the contributions of the authors. They too will never see the response to their work, they are unlikely to be alive when their work finally gets published and enjoyed. I agree with Mickiewicz the most difficult question of all is “if people will even understand the work, will people even read paper-based books at all in 100 years time”? (Mickiewicz, 2017).
Another piece of work I discovered in this project was Doug Aitken’s mirror (Aitken, 2013) and I started to compare this to what still stands out as my favourite piece in this course so far The Spiral Jetty. This is a comparison I started here but would like to return to as it gives me some ideas of how I could take some of Smithson’s ideas and bring a modern spin on them.
Having the chance to look at a section of The Road by Cormac McCarthy reminded me of my love of great writing and I am in the process of reading the whole book. Concentrating on literature again gave me some ideas about writing something more creative to go along with some of the artworks. I wonder what it will be like in the future when someone in one hundred years time finds the Future Library? There is also the idea to take some of the visual imagery in The Road and create a Toby Ziegler style image.
The exercise on apples and reading visual communication is a part I feel I rushed through. I think I naturally look for the meanings and context in pieces and so perhaps I felt I didn’t need to focus too much here but also time was against me to get through to the assignment piece. In my past, I have spent a lot of time reading mythologies and religious texts from different eras and so I do analyse symbols and semiotics. I became aware through this work that I am very euro-centric though and to expand into other parts of the world is something I would like to do.
The final section on comparative analysis gave me more artists and work to research and contemplate. I decided to focus on Alice Kettle and Ibrahim Mahama as I found their contrasting use of textiles to highlight the stories of people very inspiring. I felt these pieces moved us away from “Time” and more into “Place” as a concept to look at.
Assignment One Feedback:
Based on the feedback I received for Assignment One, I have tried to incorporate some of the action points from my tutor.
When thinking about action points for future work, I am now taking time to think about the steps to achieve those points as detailed below.
The book How to Write About Contemporary Art (Williams, 2014) was an excellent suggestion and I have read it once through for this project but I intend to come back to many of the ideas as the course progresses. There are so many nuggets of information in the book that I have highlighted to return to.
I feel I am now developing my use of the Harvard referencing structure in my learning log and will continue to do so.
When I get the chance I discuss ideas with peers and take part in the group work. I have attended Doug’s Wednesday sessions which have been a great opportunity to chat with other people on the programme and I am very active in our group chat. I am down to take part in one of the group workshops soon.
Learning Action Points:
There are still many things I would like to improve going forwards and some of the points from the assignment one feedback, I feel I haven’t had time to develop yet.
Explore different ways of presenting ideas e.g. through lens based media. I do want to incorporate more of this into my learning log. I need to sit down and plan the next project in more detail with more realistic time frames. When I have submitted this assignment and before starting the next exercise I am going to read through the project as a whole first to plan where I can start doing this. Time was against me in this project due to the holidays but I will have more time going forwards.
I want to include more images of my own work in the learning log. I feel I have got into the analysing of other people’s work but am neglecting my own practice. Again, with better preparation and planning of the whole project I feel I could achieve this and have the opportunity to experiment with more ideas and materials. Part two below will list some of my current ideas I want to develop.
I need to get back into the good study habits of doing something every day like when I first started. I feel like this project has had some time pressue of my own doing but also not helped by the fact I am interested in all the sections mentioned. I find it hard to not put 100% into all of the exercises and am having to learn to be a bit more selective about where I spend my time. Again, I think planning the start of the next project will help me do that but I am aware of becoming too rigid and not allowing my work to find a natural flow.
Part 2 – Ideas to Develop
I still have some ideas from Project One that I want to return to. I really like the idea from my last feedback about using the hole punching as a prop for photographic or video work in different locations, connecting the word time to specific situations, and allowing you to capture the light through the perforations in the paper, by displaying it on a window, or taking it outside and documenting at different times of day to emphasise the context of the work.
There is also the theme of spirals that I am drawn to and would like to experiment somehow with the hole punch technique in combination with spirals.
Toby Ziegler’s technique really inspired me too in this project and I have some ideas about how to incorporate some of his styles with a spiral based time element. I just need to sit down and develop the idea!
As mentioned in my reflection, an idea I am interested in developing is how to take the principles of Smithson’s Spiral Jetty and modernise them through the use of moving images. I take inspiration from a piece by Doug Aitken Mirror that I stumbled upon when looking at the ArtXHistory archive.
Part 3 – Ideas on Time
When I look back across the whole of this project, I am not sure my ideas on time have changed that much. However, I have learned a great deal of research and analytical skills that help me to look at pieces of work with a more focused and attuned vision. I am developing the idea of time and place being linked, especially with the works in the comparative analysis section.
Part 4 – Question
Using formal elements is useful when looking at quite traditional forms of art, but I wondered if there were any good resources for how to analyse something like land art or installations that perhaps don’t fit into a neat category of visual art?
Is it okay to write assignments like this where the assignment ends up being more of a summary and signpost to the other posts on here? I do feel like I rushed this reflection and it ended up being more of a guide to what I have done in this project than a true reflection.
Aitken, D. (2013). Mirror.
Mickiewicz, P. (2017), “The Library of 2114”, Esse, vol. 89, pp. 40-49.
I received my assignment 1 feedback last week, and there are a couple of points I would like to reflect upon.
My learning log/blog is well organised and engaging.
I am showing good visual and contextual knowledge and understanding.
My learning is progressing through self-directed learning and further studies.
I have shown care and attention when experimenting with the hole punching.
My sketchbook presentation is neat.
My assignment is an effective narrative of my journey.
I have set my own action points to take ownership of my own learning.
My reflection on the Spiral Jetty and Spirals was particularly strong.
Points to Improve/Consider
Explore different ways of presenting ideas e.g. through lens based media.
When lifting action points for future work, take time to think about the steps to achieve those points.
Use the ideas in How to Write About Contemporary Art to develop different ways to write about work.
Develop use of Harvard academic referencing and academic structure to work using more quotes and comparative discussions.
Include images of past work and ideas for future work within blog.
Experiment with new ideas and materials.
Discuss ideas with peers and take part in group work.
Ideas for future work
My tutor has suggested using the hole punching as a prop for photographic or video work in different locations, connecting the word time to specific situations, and allowing you to capture the light through the perforations in the paper, by displaying it on a window, or taking it outside and documenting at different times of day to emphasise the context of the work.
Another idea is to photograph found spirals within my local environment, or create my own, or combine the hole punching technique within this context.
Overall I am very pleased with the comments received. I know there is no formal mark to this part of the course, but it is still nice to receive a positive critique. I have spent a lot of time getting my blog set up to be easy to navigate, I chose not to use the standard OCA template which has meant a little extra work on my part but I feel it was worth it.
Academic referencing is something I have done in the past, I think I am just out of the habit of doing so and so will endeavour to include these in my next submissions.
I am feeling more confident that I know how to progress in the next assignment now. I am just feeling with the time of year, that study time is going to be the biggest challenge, but I will try to stay disciplined and stick to my doing something every day.
I cannot believe it is already a month since I enrolled. I have learned so much and there are many areas in which I feel I have progressed and so many more I want to work on.
When I look at my work for this unit as a whole I can see how my thoughts about time and the whole creative arts discipline have changed. In my initial reflection, I was very rigid and literal in my thinking. I wrote everything I could brainstorm about time and you can see from the mind map I made that everything was already split into neat categories of art, music, science etc with some attempt to connect them. This is interesting to me, as I always thought that I was already interested in the interdisciplinarity nature of creative arts but I feel like I hadn’t even begun to understand this on a contemporary level. A lot of the examples I used in that initial reflection were classical rather than contemporary and I already realise that I need to be more up to date in my art references which I hope to do so by attending more in-person events.
The very first exercise where we looked at Ma(r)king Time by Milou Van ham and Moniek Driesse opened my eyes to more contemporary expressions of Time. I feel by looking at this piece and in particular, trying to recreate a small part of it made me get into the mindset of thinking about how artists use and portray Time. I am glad that I took this opportunity to try and experience in a small way the way that the work was produced and it actually made me experiment with creating something using simple tools like a drawing pin and a straw. One thing that I gained from this was an insight into the deep meditative state of flow that creating something like this can induce and by posting about this on OCA Learn, Adam linked me to another similar piece of work – the sunflower seeds. This highlighted to me about finding connections between pieces of work that on the surface perhaps don’t seem to have anything in common but when you think about them they have many links. It also made me consider the more positive aspects of spending time working. I think we automatically jump to the conclusion that work and labour are bad and exploitative without considering the positive aspects too.
There has been the opportunity to gain and reconsider many study skills during this first unit. The piece on note-taking was interesting, as even though I have studied recently it made me stop to contemplate if I do make notes in the most effective way. Since doing this, I have definitely incorporated a mix of the Cornell system and Feynman and I ask myself more questions as I read and stop to think if I could explain what I have just read in a simple way to someone else. I feel this is making me a more effective learner. There have been some very interesting texts to engage with. I really enjoyed reading George Kubler’s The Shape of Time, although it was stated we didn’t need to for this unit, I managed to get a copy and have skimmed through it and it is a text I will keep returning to. I particularly enjoyed contrasting it with another book on Time by Carlo Rovelli that approaches time from a more scientific-philosophical angle and I want to look at both of these again. I have also started reading Amelia Groom’s book from the further reading list and again, this is one that I will dip in and out of through the whole course.
The Shape of Time lecture by Doug Burton was a mine of information and it really opened up my eyes to many new artists and their work. There were so many avenues I wanted to go down and research from, but I took into consideration some advice from Adam in our first call when he told me it is sometimes more interesting to reflect on why you are drawn to the ones that stand out. The one that really stood out to me and that lead me to research a lot more offshoots from it was The Spiral Jetty Again, I found it quite difficult to know how much depth to go into when looking at it and I feel like I sometimes struggle still to put into words what I am feeling about it. I ended up looking at spirals in general, the symbology and geometry of them, how they have been used across time and how they represent a different non-linear form of time that has religious and spiritual connections. I also spent a lot of time looking at the land art movement itself and how that fits into the politics and culture of the time. I feel a lot of the themes are still very relevant today, this anti-commercialism, anti-establishment and pro-environment ideas.
Development Action Points:
I would like to look into different ways to reflect on my work as I feel this is an area to develop.
I would also like to expand my own research away from just focusing on the course suggestions.
I would like to read a wider range of texts about artworks to hone my ability to write about other people’s work.
I would like to get into the creative elements of the course and start exploring more about how I would use time as a subject or medium.
I would like to attend more exhibitions and in-person art events.
Part 2 – Summary of Understanding of How Time is Used
On reflection, there seem to be three broad categories of how time is used as a material for shaping artworks. Firstly, time and its nature as the focus of the work itself, secondly time is used as the medium in which the artwork evolves and thirdly how we experience and spend time.
The nature of time and what it is still is a mystery to us. Scientists and philosophers question its very nature and existence and creative artists explore it. We seem to categorise is it into past, present and future and accept they are somehow different from each other. We also equate Time with Memory as something in memory can only be in the past. Sarah Sze explores this idea in her work.
Many artists use time as a medium to evolve their work. One example is the land artists who give their works over to time and the land for them to change and in some cases completely destroy them. The Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson was made very quickly, only four weeks from design to complete construction, but the true beauty and piece then are generated by it being left to time. With time, the piece was submerged underwater for a period and then emerged covered in white salt crystals, it will eventually be lost to the sea completely. Another example from the lecture is the Future Library by Katie Paterson. This won’t be complete for 100 years, so the artist herself is unlikely to ever see the full reward of her work. This on one view seems a very selfless act, she is leaving something that only others will be able to enjoy and she will never know how the final reveal is received. The choice of 100 years is interesting as it is just out of reach of most people’s lifetimes but not too far in the future to be incomprehensible. It seems tantalisingly close, but just out of reach.
The experience of time seems to be the most common way in which artists engage with time. There have been many examples in this unit including Ma(r)king Time. One that stands out to me is an exhibition I saw about Motherhood and how that changes your experience of time. Becoming a mother can sometimes make women outsiders to “normal time”. A woman can go from working full time and having a very time defined role to having their world turned upside down. Breastfeeding still even in 2021 makes it difficult for some women to return to the world of work, they can lose part of their identity and with it feel like linear time has stopped for them.
Part 3 – Reflection on ‘The Art of Contemporary Experience’.
The Art of Contemporary Experience was an interesting read by Peter Kalb. I have been trying to get hold of a copy of the whole book as it would be interesting to put into context the chapter excerpt we were given. I wrote up my full notes here on the artists mentioned in the chapter here.
I tried out the SQR3 method for reading this chapter and it did help gain a greater more in-depth understanding. Upon skimming it, the first thing that seemed apparent to me was that there were a lot of different artists mentioned but they all appeared to be very western and male. It would be good to consider the contemporary experience from a broader more diverse range of examples, but again I would like to see the whole book to judge if this chapter is representative of the whole text.
As is often the case when I read, I was left with more questions and avenues that I wanted to research. The chapter (and book) focuses on the post-1980s as it is felt this is when we as a society became more self-conscious. What was it about the 80s and 90s in particular? This lead me to think about post-modernism and the philosophy associated with it and again highlighted that the time in which creative works are made will always have an impact.
Throughout the chapter were various artists that explore this idea of subjectivity and objectivity when experiencing art. How much of what we experience when we connect with a piece of art is down to the art itself, and how much is our past experience, memory, pre-conceived notions and politics of the time in which we are in. One of my favourite pieces mentioned in the chapter was Roni Horn’s ‘Things that happen again’. It is two identical copper cones that are placed in two different rooms that are next to each other. The piece needs time and memory. You go into a space and see a simple disc. It doesn’t look like much: it isn’t until you walk in and see that it is a three-dimensional cone-shaped object which is familiar but has certain subtle formal qualities which make it different, which take away from it being familiar. It becomes memorable. Then you go into the next room and enact exactly the same experience, but of course, it’s unexpected and it’s so many minutes later; it’s a slightly younger experience in your life. Whereas when you walked into the first room, you had the experience of sometl1ing unique, you can’t have that a second time. It is a very insightful way of highlighting that everything we see we are influenced by past experience. This idea of things being identical is a paradox, you always have one that is here and one that is there. Time and place have such an important role in something’s identity.
Another strong message from the chapter was this idea of how we want to classify and categorise everything. Mark Dion’s work ‘On Tropical Nature’ intrigued me here. I resonate with him mixing biology and art and his idea of interdisciplinarity between the two. It is early environmental art. I also am intrigued by his references to the way we want to classify and categorise everything. It seems a very human need. Like the historians who want to categorise time into distinct periods. Dion gathered different curiosities from his trips and placed them together, leaving the viewer puzzled as to why they were together. It makes us think about why museums choose the collections they do. Who gets to decide what is valuable enough to put on a show? If you look at children and the way they treasure the strangest of things at times, it can often seem illogical too. But isn’t every categorising illogical and influenced by someone? It reminds me of a scene early in Stalker where the three men are talking in the bar before they set off to the zone. One tells the tale of an artefact in a museum that was found to be fake to trick archaeologists. Before this was discovered everyone viewed the item with “oohs and ahhs”. After the discovery of its deception, it was deemed worthless. Why do we place value on some items and not others? Is art really the influence of galleries, is this the same thing the Land Artists were running from? Some things also lose their value when placed in a gallery or museum. Like the hemlock tree in Dion’s Vivarium. It can no longer contribute to the greater environment even though it can be grown inside for decades.
Part 4 – Questions
Is there a particular way in which we should write reflections?
Are there any word limits or guidance on what style to write in?
Am I putting the right level of information on my learning blog and is it easy for you to nevaigate?