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.

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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.

Noise Fest – LINE

I was commissioned by Teddy Hunter to make another visual projection for her event ‘Psych and Noise Fest’ last weekend. I took it as an opportunity to try out some visual work for a change – I wanted to experiment with creating tactile or sonic sensations through visuals alone.

I wanted to try filming materials very close up to the point of ambiguity – in the spirit of Rob Pepperell’s visual indeterminancy. I thought that these zoomed in shots would create a sense of intense tactility, and I think they succeed in that. However, I realised quickly when I started filming that following the lines in the materials was a vehicle for exposing the materiality of them. It created a framework in which to follow, like we did in circle line.

I don’t know how well it went as a piece in itself. The editing isn’t great, nor is the filming – the camera moves very shakily, and things looked good in premier pro but got compressed and look awful now. It was still very worthwhile though. I learnt a lot from it and got some interesting images I can use in future. I know now as well that if i want to pursue video further I need to progress a lot skillwise.

Pacing is also essential I think. ‘The straight way was lost’ worked well because it had rhythm – the image changed regularly, dictated by the slide projector. This piece was all too slow I think, which suits the event it was made for but doesn’t work as a piece in itself. I think rhythm and pace in visuals is something I need to consider and practice more.

Handmade Books

I’ve made two books in Tom’s workshop, a handmade paper multi-signature case-bound book, and a custom concertina book. The two were very different in their construction, but the actual book construction required precision for both. Actually using a ruler and measuring things for once was surprisingly enjoyable, and I was incredibly proud of what I’d made. I want to make more books in the future so will keep this up, but I think a greater sense of care and precision is something to incorporate into everything I do. Listening back to the Venice piece now, I think there are a lot of little bits I could have done to a higher standard, and with better technology I should be able to do that.

The handmade paper book is the ‘Tea Book’, because the paper is made with tea leaves . This isn’t particularly high concept – I like tea, so I wanted to document my devotion. I really like the quality of the paper and how it came out, but I don’t think paper making is that relevant to my practice. I want to do more things just for enjoyment though, so I will probably do this again in future. Although frustrating, the binding gave great results, and I would like to try making sketchbooks like this. I’m so particular with sketchbooks – I’ve bought the seawhite A5 travel sketchbook for the past few years, but making my own could be even more appropriate to what I want. It could make me work more in a sketchbook too.

This is one of the biggest issues I’ve identified with my ways of working. On art foundation I worked really effectively in sketchbooks – I know it’s  really valuable way of working for me, and I haven’t engaged that much with them so far in my degree. I need to get back into them to sustain a continuous practice, and making my own books might encourage that.

The concertina book is a format I really like. I like the flow of the pages, and the extra compartments etc we made could be very useful in making sketchbooks too. I want to work more with book construction, and we learnt ideas and techniques here that could lead onto more.

I think I want to make a book of a graphic score for one of my final pieces, and I think a book will contain it better than a long sheet etc. I think a book is similar to headphones in that it requires a decision to engage with it – you need to open the book to see it. I think maybe a book and headphones would be a good combination for this. Only one person can experience it at once, so it’s more personal.

Final Sound Piece: Venice take 2

I had intended to create a new sound piece for the exhibition, but life and a bread knife got in the way of recording new violin stuff which is disappointing, but life goes on. I remember hearing artist Neasa Terry talking about her work in the Rejoinders show at G39 when I had my crit. She spoke about how she had planned to do xyz and make work from it etc, but it didn’t work as planned and life happened and you can’t plan for these things. So I’m not so disappointed that the recording didn’t work out. Also I remembered that making the huge sound piece for Sightseers nearly drove me over the edge because my equipment is so bad, so I’d much rather make this piece once I’ve got some swanky new kit thanks to the Helen Gregory Memorial Fund trustees.

I’ve decided in the end to exhibit my Venice piece again for this, for a few reasons:

  • It’s the most ambitious piece I’ve made since my art foundation fmp, and I’d like to present it again now that I’ve had time to reflect on it further.
  • This time a year ago I was in Venice, where this whole thing began. I’d really like to round the whole experience off now, ready to move on with what I’ve gained from it.
  • In G39 my piece was on wireless headphones, and people naturally looked around the exhibition as they listened – it became a soundtrack for it almost. This worked well curatorially I think, but I want to let my work be heard in a different way. It will be displayed with an mp3 so free movement around is still possible, but I’m making a book for it as well which can be looked at whilst listening. The book is a graphic score of the piece.

I did a lot of sketches to help me visualise the piece whilst making it, and audacity is a very visual way of editing too. I want to display that element of the piece as well, and I think by doing so it will a) round off this experience for me, and b) generate a lot of new ideas to lead on from it.

Paper-making

Myself and a few others did the paper-making workshop with Tom Martin, in which over the week. It was nice to do something material based as I’ve been doing so much digital work recently.

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You can make paper from anything fibrous essentially, but we were making it from recycled paper. We made a big batch of ‘normal’ unadulterated recycled paper as a group, and then I made more of my own later in the week. I used tea leaves for some of mine – some had tea sprinkled on the top, some had stained plain paper underneath and some I made by mixing tea in with the paper. I think the paper with the tea in it was most successful for two reasons. Firstly, the tea incorporated into the paper best with this method. It died the paper slightly, and the leaves were mixed and set with the paper pulp making them more combined. Secondly, the quality of paper is a lot more consistent. Because it was the last paper of the batch all of the lumps had been removed already, leaving thinner and more consistent sheets.

I think making my own paper was interesting etc,  but I don’t know how useful it would be for my artistic practice. We’ll bind the paper into a book next week, so maybe that will be more beneficial. In the meantime, I scanned in some of my sheets.

The scans were interesting, but they lost a lot of the nuances of the paper. You can’t see the textural or tonal detail in them, which is a shame. Perhaps handmade paper is one of those things that really can’t be captured well digitally.

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