By way of avoiding writing my dissertation, I went to the ceramics ‘Vicarious Wednesdays’ talk by Toni De Jesus, and it was extremely helpful. Hearing what a recent graduate did in 3rd year reinvigorated me and got me out of a rut I’ve been stuck in. Toni spoke about:
- Documenting his process. The video (above) shows his process and how he makes his pieces. Artist’s ways of working have always interested me, and seeing this makes me want to establish more of a routine. If I had to make a video of my process, what would I put in it? I struggle with a consistent work schedule with the nature of my work (nowhere to record or quiet places to edit) so I’m going to prioritise sorting out a space for that. I work well with routine, so I need to establish the right environment for it.
- This made me think about how we document art in general. The most commonly used method is photography and film, but they often provide a limited experience of objects. What if archives used audio descriptions of objects/artworks, describing them in a way that creates a stronger experience in your mind? I’m touching on this in my diss, but I think it’s creeping into subject now too.
- He also spoke about his website and creating a professional ‘outfit’ for yourself. I definitely want to have a clean, professional website that shows my practice well by the time of the degree show, so I need to start working towards that.
- Networking came up as well. The work always made my skin crawl – if I was in a position of authority, nothing would make me want to work with someone less than if they purely spoke to me to get something from me. Natasha and Toni spoke about it in such a way that felt more positive. They said how people enjoy talking about what they’re passionate about, and you should talk to people to learn from them. I always saw it as a talking to people to get something from them, but the perspective of sharing skills, knowledge and ideas feels much more positive.
- The last thing Toni touched on was knowing where you want your work to be exhibited. Galleries? Museums? Homes? Site Specific? I need to think about this a lot more, as I’ve realised how much the space my work resides in affects my work’s reception. I have thought as well, sound isn’t bound to a physical space. Radio, the internet, mp3s etc all have the capacity to exhibit sound pieces. I want to explore these areas more, especially the radio with being a part of Pitch. I might look into prerecording a sound piece/essay to air.
In the first week seminars, the topic we discussed that interested me most was skill. This is something I’ve thought about a lot in the last year, especially in relation to my own practice. My photo for the summer work was grouped with three other students for being ‘skilled’, (because it didn’t fit anywhere else) and I learnt more about skill and what I think of it.
I think with skill-fully made artworks, or works that showcase craftsmanship, have some indisputable value. They don’t need to hide behind a concept or artist statement, because something well made has value in itself. Take a mug for example: if it is well made it will perform it’s function well. You can dislike it aesthetically, but you can’t deny it’s craftsmanship. Skill can also support you financially: Angharad Pearce Jones works both as an artist and a welder for clients. She uses her skill to support herself.
I felt lost in my practice because I felt I wasn’t ‘skilled’. I’m starting a sound engineering course to gain the skills I lack, but I’ve also realised skill doesn’t just mean practical prowess.
At the start of this Svend Bayer video, he talks about skill and craftsmanship. He says that he used to think good craftsmanship must be evident in a piece, but now thinks skill can actually hinder you. Skill can help you carry out your ideas, but you still need the ideas. I think that’s where the distinction between craft and art lies: with skill alone you are a craftsman, with skill and ideas you are an artist.
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.
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.
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.
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.