Bruno Sanfilippo – Upon Contact Reworked

I stumbled across this album, ‘Upon Contact Reworked’, by Bruno Sanfilippo in collaboration with 6 electronic composers and artists: Francesco Giannico, Olan Mill, Leonardo Rosado,  Jorge Haro, Quivion, and Hior Chronik. The album begins with Sanfilippo’s original piece for solo piano, ‘Upon Contact’, a minimalist piece of stillness and contemplation. There is quiet inbetween the notes, pause for thought. I don’t know if Sanfilippo wrote this knowing that he was going to hand it over to others for reworking, but it certainly lends itself well to it if not. The next 6 tracks on the album all revolve around ‘Upon Contact’, but each artist recreates it in a wholly different way.

Some use environmental sounds and found recordings, some have employed mainly electronically generated material. The way in which each artist has developed their reworking makes us notice different parts of the original piano piece.

A lot of the ways in which the artists have worked echo what I’ve been doing with the sound for the film. I’ve been using found footage, but editing it to change it beyond recognition. It isn’t ‘music’ in the sense of something you listen to to enjoy, but I’m working with the intention of it adding suspense and giving the images more presence.

I think the way the artists have worked together echoes the way we have been on the project as well. Each artist was given a brief, and then created something of their own of it. The results were then combined to create a collection. I think this album is so successful in that you can’t tell this. Each artist has created something unique with different affects, yet all of their interpretations flow together as a cohesive album.

 

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Circle Line – First Look at Footage

Going through our footage, these clips stood out the most for me. They’re all videos that have been distorted some way in the filming process, or they’re somewhat ambiguous as to what they could be. The one I filmed where I followed the round archway text stands out in particular – I was intentionally trying to capture the text from the archway, but it’s all of the incidental text captured that’s really interesting.

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I’ve always been interested in collections of things: old photographs from antique shops, slide films, train tickets, etc. I like collecting bits like that because I think they hold a lot of potential, both as objects in themselves and as materials to create something new with. Recently though I’ve been collecting text – every time I’m out somewhere and I see some writing that intrigues me, I’ve taken a photo. Text isn’t something you can pick up and put in your pocket – it’s a concept. I think collecting things that aren’t really things (like text) can generate a lot of interesting outcomes.

So for instance, the archway clip (above) is full of odd bits of text. I wouldn’t necessarily notice them usually, but the context of them as background information in this video gives them a new significance to me. I don’t know if we’ll use these particular bits or even this clip in our film, but I definitely will work with this more in my own practice. I think the idea of using and exploring text as symbols, or turning them into something asemic is definitely worth exploring however.

Assessment

I found the whole assessment process really beneficial. It enabled me to consolidate my work, and more importantly, gave me an opportunity to show it. I have a real problem with showing my work, so I’m going to make a conscious effort to get it out there more! I’ve entered a piece for Tactile Bosch’s open call, and I’ve got exhibitions for G39 and the reception space at CSAD coming up – all fantastic opportunities to show my work!

Obviously I’ll get full feedback in a few weeks, but something that came up during the assessment was Sean asked about how I write. I use writing as a tool for understanding. When I take notes in exhibitions it a) helps record all of my fleeting thoughts and make sense of them, and b) helps me to then further these thoughts and think further. I write on a computer (type) if it’s a formal piece of work – blog posts (though I often draft them on paper first), essays, articles, and so on. Sean asked if there was a space in between them – a space for writing to be a tool within my artistic practice. I’m going to work at developing this further during the field module.

Text as Objects

When I went to print the posters I had a mare with the printer and it printed everything double sided. Initially I was annoyed but then I realised this could have been for the best. Now there was no front or back – the texts had become objects.

Following on from what Sean said tried imposing these texts into the public realm. I wanted them to be slightly hidden, so people would discover them by chance. I decided the library was the best place to try on campus – it’s very busy and people interact with it so there would be more chance of people uncovering THE ART. I knew I didn’t want to put it in the art building because everyone puts weird stuff there all the time, to the point where no one bats an eyelid anymore.

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I put the text pieces into different locations in the library where I hope they’d blend in yet still be noticeable. I’ll go back later in the week to see if anything’s happened to them and if so what. Part of me doesn’t want to know if or how people interacted with them. I feel like my part is done – they’re off into the world, now they can go on existing as they please.

I did have a few issues with it in hindsight. Firstly, I was just putting more text into an already word heavy environment. The library is a bombardment of information, users become very good at filtering out everything they don’t need to see. Moreover, people can just look away even if they notice the text. This is where I think sound would be more appropriate. I need to find a way of disrupting people’s use of an environment and making them pay attention. If there was a quiet sound piece hidden in a bookshelf for example, only audible from nearby, then when people walked past it would be a personal interaction just for them. A bit like the Janet Cardiff audio walk, I feel the one to one connection between artist and audience through the art has more of a profound impact on people.

I did a small experiment on Instagram which yielded interesting results.

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As people scrolled down the text distorted and changed. I could tell a lot of people took note because there were a lot of comments, likes etc. I’ve looked into several artists in the past who use social media as their art site, but this may be worth looking into further as a platform.

I definitely want to move more back into sound now. You can close your eyes; you can’t close your ears. Sound can be more subtle, yet once you notice it it becomes inescapable. I think to continue working with sound is the best next step, but also retaining an interest in words. Maybe combining the two at first – like the Janet Cardiff Audio walk, give someone headphones and instruct them how to navigate a space, leading them to the hidden texts perhaps?

I am still interested in the ways I can present text, however. How do different materials lend context to words? How do different environments change meaning?

Now field is starting I’ll try to incorporate my current line of practice into the project whilst continuing to work on my Wales in Venice work and some zines I have planned.

 

 

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.

Text as Posters

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I tried out the text as posters, keeping the font in capitals for the previously mentioned reasons. The font type used was deliberately chosen – I found a font called ‘Heledd’ and I will exclusively only ever use this font now.

I wanted to add some colour, so I went for a grey with a hint of teal mixed in – I only wanted a hint of colour. I’ve been obviously influenced by the James Richards ‘DON’T WORRY WHAT HAPPENS HAPPENS MOSTLY WITHOUT YOU’ with this. The layout is a cross between the tote bag with that on and the way Whitechapel Gallery title their books.

I also tried flipping the text, disrupting our ability to read it. There was a page in the Michael Dean book where the text was flipped on the next page, like the ink had leaked through:

I’m not sure which outcome I think works best yet – I will see what they’re like printed.

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?