SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT

PERSONAL STATEMENT:

Over the past year I’ve been honing in on my practice in sonic art, expanding on both what I make and how I exhibit it. Sound has the ability to change our perception of a space without physically altering anything. It can be inescapable (you can’t close your ears), or something you choose to engage with (eg using headphones).  I’ve also developed my curatorial skills further, something which influences my dissertation on how curation can enhance our sensory engagement of art. Sound has been of huge importance within this. I think the way that text is used in galleries to disperse information often diminishes our experience of the work, so experimenting with sound and language has begun my research into creating a new curatorial language.

The piece presented here is a sonic map I created in response to my time invigilating in Venice, and an accompanying graphic score.

FIELD

DOCUMENTATION:

1. A post that evidences the material and conceptual exploration and thinking that initiated and led to the development of your own original
artwork(s).

2. A post that documents some of the key aspects of the Site Venue project that you participated in.

3. A post that documents some of the technical skills you have learnt and developed over the course of this year with regards to to the production of your artworks.

4. A key post of your own choosing that illuminates your studio practice.

5. A key post of your own choosing that illuminates your studio practice.

 

CONTEXTUALISATION:

1. A post that demonstrates the most influential concepts you have gained from the Key Concept lecture series with a brief, but specific, description of how this has influenced your practice.

2. A post that demonstrates a key contextual contemporary reference you found through your continued research with your studio practice.

3. A post that indicates your contextual research and thinking about how artists display and disseminate their work with regards to your final work presented for site venue project or your final exhibition.

4. A contextual post of your own choosing.

5. A contextual post of your own choosing.

 

 

 

 

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Final Book

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Here is the finished score! I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, but I also think there’s a lot more I can do with this. That’s how I feel about both of my final pieces – I’ve been ambitious and tried new things etc, and now  I’ve taken the positives and negatives from them and can expand further in future.

  • I think the choice to use only line was the right one. Colour would have confused the images, and it’s not how I interpret the score so would have been dishonest and inaccurate.
  • The format of the book works well. It reads and handles well, which is what I wanted.
  • I was very neat and measured with some sections, and more expressive with others. Unintentionally this reflects how I made these sections – the more expressive lines match sections that were more recorded stuff from Venice, whereas the rigid structures were the parts I constructed myself from scratch. It’s interesting how I hear them differently.

I want to explore the book as an object more. I’ve struggled this year finding a medium to display visual work in, and I think books are the perfect one. I think they’re more grounded in reality than video etc. You can hold them, leaf through them etc. This tactile experience of books is what makes them stand out to me I think.

As for the set up of the exhibition, I went for something humble: a shelf for the book, and a hook for the headphones. The piece is meant to be an experience, and I think having flashy curation would diminish that. I think in hindsight, I might add a stool/chair. The piece is 20 minutes long, and if people want to fully engage with it then maybe having a place to sit would encourage a longer interaction.

Key Concept Review

I didn’t realise the key concepts were meant to be so important, they felt very sporadic. They were interesting, but none of them really affected my practice that much. The one that probably had the biggest effect was James’ on the Everyday. I think I learnt from it not to be so serious about all of my artistic output. It’s okay to make more lighthearted things that don’t necessarily relate to my conceptual progression, because the act of making and being creative is beneficial in itself.

Because of this, I’m going to make Raisinquest over the summer. Raisinquest is a survey I did over the Christmas Holidays where I interviewed people on their opinions of raisins. I’ve wanted to collate the information into a book for months, so now I shall.

Making the Score

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I was torn with the score. I didn’t know whether to go for purely line drawings, or add aspects of colour – some of the scores I researched were purely b/w, some colour. B/w seemed the natural option, but then colour could depict parts in more detail maybe?

I went for b/w line drawings in the end. The way I work is always in b/w, and I never think of sound as colour, always as shapes and lines. To use colour would be a dishonest depiction I think. Restricting it to line ended up allowing me to use line more creatively too – like I learnt in circle line, restrictions can make you more creative etc. I made the score from sketches I had done whilst making the piece, and listening to it over and over and interpreting it.

Constructing the Book

Finding the right form for the book took quite a while, but it was worth the time – I think the form suits the score well. I’ve chosen to do a 9 page concertina book with a cover. Each page will depict a minute of the piece, and it will flow from left to right, then flip to the other side. I chose to do a paper cover as the contents of the book it quite delicate – I didn’t want the cover to overpower it. I think the less formal cover keeps a ‘working’ essence to it as well. The score will be very linked to my ways of working, so I don’t want to stray too far from that.

The construction was really difficult to work out, because for the amount of pages I had it would open so the edge was facing inwards. This disrupted the flow of the book and the score, so after a lot of thought I worked out a solution of removing a page – I thought my piece was closer to 20 minutes, but it’s only just over 19 so losing one page doesn’t matter.

Above is the model I made for the book. Again, as I said previously about being precise and caring over craftsmanship, taking the time to plan it out and try different formats meant my book form is exactly as I wanted, not a ‘that’ll do’.

The actual book form itself went really well – I really cared over it, and it looks neat and professional as a result. Now I need to fill it.

Alex Cecchetti At the Gates of the Music Palace

NEUTRAL OBSERVATIONS:

As you enter the space, you are confronted by a weathered looking door that looks out of place in the gallery. It doesn’t look like you can go through the door, so you walk to the left instead. There are graph-like colourful prints on the wall in frames to the right. In front of you there’s a big copper satellite/like piece hanging with a cord hanging down from it, which appears to be a sensor on closer inspection. As you walk past it, frequencies sound. Then you follow the space round to the right, and there’s a huge wave like piece made from copper and fabric. It looks like a ribbon suspended in air, or a sound wave. There are also some benches with books on them. As you continue there’s a cabinet of erotica drawings and simple line drawings. There is a central room in front of you, and you enter through a curtain. The room is pink lit, with a thick carpet, cushions on the floor, and little speakers set up in a large circle around the room. There’s a sonic installation playing, each speaker sounding a different voice in a choir. Close to one of the corners is a huge mobile of blown glass, it looks like a circular cascade of colour. Inside is a windchime and a music stand. At the opposite end of the room, piano strings run from a high shelf to the opposite side of the doors that you saw as you entered. As someone opens the doors, the piano strings are strung, creating more live sound.

(Please excuse that I accidentally filmed it portrait, below someone else’s footage)

PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS:

It was a strange experience, because it felt unnatural and forced. The whole exhibition felt disjointed, like the curator was trying to force different pieces together. Only when I read the information leaflet did I realise that the benches and erotic portraits were part of the exhibition at all – they seemed completely removed from it. The satellite piece that sounds when you walk past is a good idea, but it just didn’t work as I expected. It only sounds if you walk down one side of it, and it’s the same frequency pretty much, there isn’t any variation to sustain your engagement with it. As for the speakers installation, it just felt like a rehashing of things I’ve experienced before that are better executed. It all just felt very naive. The bird beak blown glass mobile etc all felt like it was clutching at straws, trying to make you think a certain way about the work rather than letting you make your own opinion.

My main gripe however was the piano strings piece. I think the idea is brilliant – I’ve worked with exposed piano strings in the past, and their sonic capabilities are amazing. I just felt the way this was executed let it down. The doors looked out of place so you didn’t feel like you could enter through them – only when I saw the invigilator open them did I realise you could. This is that tricky issue of whether or not it’s better to show people like that, or put a sign up to tell people (which draws away from the experience). But I think certain elements could have encouraged you to open it more naturally. If you had to open those doors to enter the gallery, you would have interacted with them. If the doors didn’t look so out of place, they would seem less intimidating.

The writing about the exhibition from the artist is so ‘flowery’, it just makes you cringe:

‘Dear You,
Let me welcome you as a musician and not as a
spectator. Dancers, singers, readers, builders, sleepers
and dreamers, this is us, constantly busy, willing or
not, to participate in the world. No exhibition or
representation can suspend for a moment the joyful
and inexorable process of becoming.’

What exactly is, ‘the inexorable process of becoming’? It all just feels so forced and overly poetic. I feel like it creates an atmosphere of not allowing you to think for yourself.

MY OWN PRACTICE:

Overall I did enjoy the exhibition, even if I didn’t love it. It allowed me to think critically, and I think it had a lot of interesting ideas that just didn’t get executed well. I think this shows how much my knowledge of sound art has increased – I’m not in a position where I can compare and critique sound art in a wider context.

I want to try and work with exposed strings more after this. I think they have a unique resonance that changes entirely when removed from their conventional instrument, creating an ambiguity that sustains intrigue. I also think my anger over exhibition texts recently could really help with my dissertation. I want to write more about how text in exhibitions can really restrict your experiences of them, and create my own language for talking about them in the process.

 

Field Evaluation

CIRCLE LINE:

I chose circle line for two main reasons: I wanted to explore working visually in relation to sound, and to gain a better skill set from working with the Royal Welsh composers. The project was to, in groups of 6, work together to create a minute of film, and a composer from Royal Welsh would compose the soundtrack for it, all groups work eventually being combined to form a larger film at the end that documents our locations (Pontypridd, Cardiff.)

We created a manifesto, or creative limitations to impose on ourselves. I found this a useful way of working – restrictions make me more focused and creative, and I found it an effective way of generating ideas specific to a theme. My group wasn’t particularly forthcoming with ideas, so I decided that we would explore text and sensory crossovers – what I’m interested in in my own practice. I enjoyed exploring these visually through film, though I haven’t worked in film much since. It could be a possibility for third year if I want to work more visually again.

I learnt more about places, how we inhabit them, explore them, represent them etc. This has been useful for thinking about where/how to exhibit my work. I’m really excited as well, as thanks to the Helen Gregory Memorial fund, I’ll be able to start working with Logic Pro X soon, and you can create different acoustic environments using it. Representing spaces and environments is something I want to try in sound now.

I got a lot of professional skills from the continuation of this module. In January I was the lead in promoting it for it’s showcase at an event at the Royal Welsh for ‘Dear Esther’, and organising the set up etc. I did it again for their final composition show where we exhibited the film again. I learnt a lot about organisation of events and promotion from this, as well as getting a lot of connections within the university and arts community.

Throughout this project I was incredibly bitter as only a handful of people actually tried, and my group of 6 were not helpful at all. I had to carry everyone, and it tainted the whole project for me. I had a far better experience working collaboratively with other people: Chris Glynn and Tom Edgar were great to work with, the Royal Welsh staff and composers, the Pitch Illustration radio team, and some of the students that weren’t in my group (sadly). I learnt a lot about how I function within a group, and got a lot of useful experience from it ultimately. Moral of the story is: working collaboratively is wonderful, if the other people are as on board with it as you are.

ART AND THE CONSCIOUS MIND:

I felt that Art and the Conscious Mind was more like constellation than field – I didn’t ‘make’ anything as such, more so I learnt new concepts which have informed my practice past and present.

Anna’s meditation class made me think about sound and concentrated listening in a new context. The qualities of sounds and the environments they create are something I understand better now in relation to the mind. There is more on the rest of my blog I shan’t reiterate here, but on the whole this module helped me to reaffirm why I make work and understand what I seek in art.

GENERAL:

One of the most valuable parts of field for me was being able to work with a wider team of staff from the university. To learn from them was extremely useful, and I know I can go to them for specific help in future.  Also mixing with other courses has been very beneficial to my practice in terms of understanding different perspectives from different makers.

For next year’s field, I hope to draw on the connections I made at Royal Welsh and galleries in Cardiff to collaborate more, and exhibit it different locations.