The Studios

For me, the concept of a studio is very different from the reality. You see photos of the great artists in their studios, and it sets an archetype in your mind of what a studio should be. Because of this, from my GCSEs to A levels, the studio wasn’t something I knowingly had. I would work downstairs at the table, or in my room at my desk. When I got to Art Foundation we were suddenly given this space to call our studio, and even though it was a small desk in a studio that constantly smelt like bird poo, I was rather chuffed.

I wasn’t really sure how to use it, however. And when I think back on it I would occasionally work in my studio space then, but mainly in the workshops and in my room at home. I didn’t really ‘get’ what the studio was until I came to Uni. Now, I see the studio as a designated space to make art in. When you are in that space you make art, and then you go home. A day’s work.

I find this very strange. Surely this means your practice is limited to the studios? Creativity doesn’t work like that. Just because I enter into this creative environment, doesn’t mean I’ll make work. And when I go home I don’t stop making work and thinking about art.

Perhaps the studio is more of a designated creation zone. Your practice is constant, but it transforms from potentiality to actuality in the studio.

I feel like my studio at home is more of a studio space to me than the studios at Uni.

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I have an unnecessarily large desk with ample space to work. A constant supply of tea and food. Every book I own, plus my library books, available to me. My laptop. But most importantly, my speakers, recording devices, instruments, and above all somewhere quiet.

The studios at Uni are lovely in that they are very social, very creative, and a generally pleasant environment to be in. This year compared to last, my practice has evolved to one that is embedded in the manipulation and exploration of sound, words, and reading. All of these things are quite difficult to work with in an open plan, distracting environment.

I enjoy the solitude that my home studio provides. I can crack on with my work and delve into different bits and pieces without having to plan in advance. Taking breaks is crucial to keeping my attention occupied as well: a valuable way of working for me (which I did a lot during A levels) was to take a break in the middle of the day from my arts practice to practice my violin instead.

My artistic practice is very thought through. My line of philosophical enquiry is constant in my own work and how I understand others, so to play the violin for a bit is a much needed break. When I play the violin, I’m thinking about how to play a passage cleanly, how to perfect a scale, how to change my technique to create a better tone. The things I’m thinking about are embedded in practicality and musicality, not philosophy. Especially now that my violin is more involved in my artistic practice, I really need this space at home to utilise this time.

If I only used the studio at home, my work would really suffer. The studios at uni provide a change of scene, conversations and critiques (of my own and my peers’ work) and an insight into other courses’ ways of working. I love coming in to see what my friends on ceramics are working on, or how things are going in graphic design, and so on. The community across courses that the uni provides is something I appreciate a lot, especially when I’m still exploring what my own practice is and how it related to other peoples.

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Michael Dean

In my tutorial Sean told me about Michael Dean’s work and recommended I look into him. I realised I had watched a video about his work before: one of the Tateshots from last year’s Turner Prize. The video really doesn’t do the the extent of his practice justice, though.

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Michael Dean uses writing as the starting point of his practice, and in itself as a way of ‘capturing moments’. In the roots and shoots interview (above) he speaks about how he wanted to explore how you facilitate sharing writing with people. He says he felt that at school when studying texts you have to negotiate the presence of the author which detracted from the experience. By placing his writing in a moment, the viewer can take possession of the work.

The way he sources text stood out to me as well. In the roots and shoots interview he speaks about the main phrase of the exhibition: ‘lost true leaves’, describing cacti. He said he found the phrase on Wikipedia and it just worked. Finding poetry in unexpected places has a wonderful air of fate around it, like it was just quietly waiting to be unveiled. It reminds me of my project last year on words and images:    https://heleddcevans.wordpress.com/2016/10/16/word-image-week-3/

I was imposing text over images of places, but also taking text from these environments and using them with images of where they came from. I think this is worth revisiting, maybe by constantly searching for text in places I go and recording phrases that resonate with me.

The book ‘Selected Writings’ about Dean’s work was extremely illuminating as well.

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Tactility, multi-sensory, audience agency in the work: all things that I’ve felt were necessary to include in my own practice. The decisions made in exhibiting, Dean has not only created work but an experience throughout the whole space. The use of carpet especially is one simple decision that affects the entire way the audience engage with the work.

The sculptures demand your physical engagement: the handles on the doors are replaced with sculptures, books are sat under sculptures you have to move to access the text, or as pictured below, you can stand on the sculpture. The re-engagement with our sense of touch that Dean’s work demands is crucial in a visually dominated world

The way the photos of the work have been set out seems very deliberate – why are some images very small on the page? It would be worth looking into the book as an exhibition itself, thinking of it as a curated object and not a piece of literature.

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Dean’s written pieces at the back of the book echo the tactility of his sculptures. The language itself is very tactile, and the way the sentences sound when said is more of a physical thing.

I want to try working with and against the meaning of words. How does a word feel? Look? Sound? And how can I represent that?

Pekka Kuusisto – Improvisation

I’ve been really into Pekka Kuusisto’s work since I watched him perform, and this improvisation has been on repeat. Like I was trying to achieve in my recordings, he explores the whole instrument and really pushes the constraints of musical conventions. I want to try working like this more – editing and layering sounds in present time rather than editing them after recording. I think the results could be more organic and the element of other thinking would be removed, leaving me with some unusual results.

Key Concept – The Exhibition

Exhibition as a Market: Artists began making work to sell rather than being commissioned. This lead to the exhibition originally being a format for buyers and artists to be introduced. The context reassured the public that the work was of a high standard. Positioning was everything: there were prime positions on the wall that had greatest visibility – a bit like visual merchandising in a shop, displaying things in a way that will make them sell better.

Exhibition as Education: Like in the RA, the work is accompanied by a lot of text and explanantion, eg booklets, wall text, audio tours etc. The exhibition exists as a way of teaching you about the art, in line with the common notion that to enjoy the work without understanding it is inadequate.

This reminds me of some of the things I saw in Venice – the Palazzo Fortuny and the 2017 Future Generations Prize were some of my favourite exhibitions, and they provided no information about the works other than a name and date. I feel like letting the art speak for itself is more valuable.

– The Exhibition as making Public: The exhibition is a social ritual – you queue up, have a glass of wine, etc. There is a determined pathway to work your way through an exhibition – it is a form of theatre about how people move through a space. The artwork sets the conditions for how the viewer moves through a space. The exhibition is incomplete without an audience, the viewer is part of it from the moment they enter.

-The Exhibition as an Argument: The curator’s argument is evidenced by the work in an exhibition. It’s a way of saying these works belong together, and what isn’t here doesn’t. Positioning determines significance, as does format – the white cube format was originally used to make works seem more scientific and clinical.

-information is presented in three ways: a dictionary, work is ordered in advance; a map, you have to navigate your way around; or a magazine, each room is unrelated. The way of presenting is crucial to what an artwork says as well. A plinth is not just a plinth, when does is end and the work begin? etc.

-The Exhibition as Temporary: The work isn’t everlasting, therefore it becomes an event. Bigger risks are taken, more outlandish pieces are created.

Delia Derbyshire

Since I saw a short clip of Delia Derbyshire’s work at the British Library I’ve become slightly obsessed. Her process of working with sound is so physical and precise, I’ve never encountered anything like it before.

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She would create music in a very mathematical way, evident as well from the way she notated her ideas, often numerically on graph paper. A sound would be sampled (recorded onto tape), then cut, slowed down, sped up, and so on until she had the desired tone. One piece of her music was the collective of all of these sounds together played simultaneously.

She did a lot of work for tv (most famously being known for the Dr Who theme), but her radio works are incredibly valuable as well. I feel like she had more creative license in these areas. http://www.djfood.org/barry-bermange-delia-derbyshire-amor-dei/

The inventions for radio she created really interest me in terms of how we can present both sounds and words (as sounds). How is the spoken work enhanced by it’s accompanying sounds? Or a read text altered by the sonic input?

This is a very useful bank of her work for future reference: http://delia-derbyshire.net/

I think this way of working could lead to some very interesting results for me. Delia Derbyshire is fabulous and I can’t believe I didn’t find out about her sooner.

Janet Cardiff – The Missing Voice Case Study B

https://www.artangel.org.uk/project/the-missing-voice-case-study-b/

I wandered into Whitechapel on the London trip to see what was on and was very pleasantly surprised to discover one of the Janet Cardiff Audio walks!! A WONDERFUL HIDDEN GEM!

Artangel have this to say: ‘Part urban guide, part detective fiction, part film noir, Janet Cardiff’s The Missing Voice (Case Study B) entwines you in a narrative that shifts through time and space in London’s East End. Seductive, intimate, even conspiratorial, Cardiff’s audio-walks are psychologically absorbing experiences – for an audience of one at a time.

NOTE: in 1999 when the project was created, the experience would begin in The Whitechapel Library, which closed in 2005. As such, please begin listening to the first instalment outside of The Whitechapel Gallery (into which the former Whitechapel Library building was absorbed) by the entrance closest to Osborn St / Brick Lane. You can then follow the narrator’s instructions once she has left the library. She will instruct you when to begin parts 2 and 3.’

My thoughts straight after experiencing it:

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My reflections in hindsight are similar, but I’ve been thinking more about how I could respond to this. I’m really into this way of sharing sound and information. The headset is for one person at a time, and it’s just you and Janet Cardiff on this journey around London. The sounds and information I received completely altered they way I navigated my environment, and this is something I really want to implement into my work.

X-Ray Audio

When I was at the British Library visiting the sound archives, I saw a peculiar object: an x-ray that was a record.

 

After a bit more research I found out about the history of these x-ray records. X-rays were used in Soviet Russia for the illegal production and sharing of prohibited music. The lengths bootleggers (the people who produced the records and sold them) went to to share music shows how powerful music is and how vital it is to human life.

I keep coming back to these records as objects in themselves.  Stephen Coates in his tedtalk about the project says, ‘Images of pain and damage are inscribed with the sounds of pleasure.’ Each record contains this juxtaposition and is loaded with meaning and history.

They also remind me of the James Richards and Steve Reinke film from the exhibition. The records combine two iconic images of human existence, the body and passion.