In the Studio: Experiments for Re-entry

There is a growing list of experiments that I am eager to dive into in the studio at Dartmouth Avenue. For now, I envision small models and installations: 

:: materials that read ephemeral, impermanent, vulnerable, friendly, human, warm, communicative, inviting (I have no idea how or what these involve, only the ideas at this point)

:: paper casts of small objects that have personal meaning

:: rubbings/frottage of surfaces and objects that are associated with home, place, belonging

:: combinations of objects that I associate with my father—the tools and materials he used in his work

:: playing with the relationships between and among objects

:: how to suspend, support, connect things—invent and build my own systems, frames and supports

:: invented maps—drawn directly onto wall, layered in space, suggesting not only place and location but also layers of meaning

:: installations that inhabit and occupy my space

When we return after the Christmas break, these are some possibilities for re-entering my studio practice.

Study sketches

After meeting with Michelle and Andrea for the RM tutorial, the ideas have started flowing for small tests and models I want to pursue in the studio.

O'Brien, K. (2017) 'Thread and frame studies',  Research Methodologies . Bath Spa University. Unpublished sketchbook.

O'Brien, K. (2017) 'Thread and frame studies', Research Methodologies. Bath Spa University. Unpublished sketchbook.

O'Brien, K. (2017) 'Thread and frame studies',  Research Methodologies . Bath Spa University. Unpublished sketchbook.

O'Brien, K. (2017) 'Thread and frame studies', Research Methodologies. Bath Spa University. Unpublished sketchbook.

O'Brien, K. (2017) 'Tape studies',  Research Methodologies . Bath Spa University. Unpublished sketchbook.

O'Brien, K. (2017) 'Tape studies', Research Methodologies. Bath Spa University. Unpublished sketchbook.

O'Brien, K. (2017) 'Paper studies: felting machine',  Research Methodologies . Bath Spa University. Unpublished sketchbook.

O'Brien, K. (2017) 'Paper studies: felting machine', Research Methodologies. Bath Spa University. Unpublished sketchbook.

O'Brien, K. (2017) 'Cable tie studies',  Research Methodologies . Bath Spa University. Unpublished sketchbook.

O'Brien, K. (2017) 'Cable tie studies', Research Methodologies. Bath Spa University. Unpublished sketchbook.

In the Studio: Pierced Paper Experiments

At Dartmouth Avenue there is a vintage industrial felting machine in the mixed media textiles studio. It is traditionally used to felt two pieces of textiles together, but all I could think of was running all kinds of paper through it!

Vintage needle felting machine, Dartmouth Ave. mixed media textiles studio, Bath Spa University, 30 November 2017.

Vintage needle felting machine, Dartmouth Ave. mixed media textiles studio, Bath Spa University, 30 November 2017.

Vintage needle felting machine, Dartmouth Ave. mixed media textiles studio, Bath Spa University, 30 November 2017.

Vintage needle felting machine, Dartmouth Ave. mixed media textiles studio, Bath Spa University, 30 November 2017.

My interest lies in testing techniques to create degrees of opacity and translucency with manipulated paper. Piercing paper has been part of my practice through the use of a sewing machine to stitch images and sheets together. Patterns made in the paper as light shines through the piercings have been an unintended but welcomed outcome.

I wanted to see what happens with a less designed approach by simply allowing hundreds of needles to transform the paper. Would it be possible to get a more organic or at least abstract result using this machine?

Since this was a spontaneous set of tests during my induction to the machine with Stephen Daniels, I used three types of paper that I had on hand: sketchpad, vellum, and acetate. They had to be taped end-to-end to form a long enough sheet to safely pass through the needle bed.

O'Brien, K. (2017) Pierced paper tests: sketchbook paper, 30 November 2017.

O'Brien, K. (2017) Pierced paper tests: sketchbook paper, 30 November 2017.

O'Brien, K. (2017) Pierced paper tests: sketchbook paper (detail), 30 November 2017.

O'Brien, K. (2017) Pierced paper tests: sketchbook paper (detail), 30 November 2017.

O'Brien, K. (2017) Pierced paper tests: sketchbook paper, 30 November 2017.

O'Brien, K. (2017) Pierced paper tests: sketchbook paper, 30 November 2017.

O'Brien, K. (2017) Pierced paper tests: vellum (detail), 30 November 2017.

O'Brien, K. (2017) Pierced paper tests: vellum (detail), 30 November 2017.

O'Brien, K. (2017) Pierced paper tests: vellum (detail), 30 November 2017.

O'Brien, K. (2017) Pierced paper tests: vellum (detail), 30 November 2017.

O'Brien, K. (2017) Pierced paper tests: acetate (detail), 30 November 2017.

O'Brien, K. (2017) Pierced paper tests: acetate (detail), 30 November 2017.

O'Brien, K. (2017) Pierced paper tests: acetate (detail), 30 November 2017.

O'Brien, K. (2017) Pierced paper tests: acetate (detail), 30 November 2017.

This is a promising start. It seems there is potential to create the effects and feelings that I seek: translucency, veiling, delicacy, vulnerability, impermanence. These initial results are satisfying, so I will continue in this vein. I am also surprised by how beautiful the destruction is from thousands of needle punches, and excited about the potential and application to my work.

For future experiments, I am interested in:

:: creating long sheets that can be draped or hung. I need to source rolls or larger sheets that are already long enough to go through the machine, or that can be attached (sewn, taped, lightly glued/lightly tacked?)

:: trying more types of paper and materials (thicker fine art paper, tissue paper, Tyvek (a synthetic American sheeting used in construction and for disposable hazmat suits), cellophane, handmade paper, plastic sheeting)

:: experimenting with color

:: text—possibly as a way of encoding hidden or secret messages

:: combining papers—run them through as two or more sheets together, layer felted and untreated pieces

:: making larger works —because the machine bed is only 16 inches wide, I will have to attach pieces together once they are felted to build larger pieces (machine stitch, hand-sew)

:: supports and frames—how will I install, suspend, drape, hang and otherwise make use of these materials?

Research Aim + Objectives, v.3 + new questions

As ideas emerge for my research aim, it's been helpful to keep the scaffolding simple about methods I can use to test and model ideas:

Themes/Message > Materials > Form + Structure > Models + Tests

Aim + objectives, v.3

Aim + objectives, v.3

This mind map looks fairly rational and intellectual, but there's a lot of meaning embedded in the thinking.

After a trip to the US to visit family for the first time since losing my father this Spring, I returned to the UK imbued with wanting to work with this loss. I returned with a suitcase full of the materials of Dad's work (he owned a telecommunications installation company). They now inhabit my school studio - wire, cable, zip ties, tiny metal and plastic connectors and fixtures of his trade.

As soon as I could work as a teen up through my undergraduate summers, I worked for my father, shoulder to shoulder pulling cable, punching down wires in the telephone room, making intricate cable connectors with special equipment. Dad taught me hand skills and how to work with a wide range of high-tech, piece-y materials.

Research methods, v.1

Research methods, v.1

Now I find myself wanting to use these materials, or at least the suggestion of them. How can I use them in a manner that feels warm, connected, human, vulnerable and organic? Eva Hesse's work comes to mind—she used industrial materials (rubber, fiberglass, resin, wire) that were imbued with organic vulnerability when I saw them in person in 2013 at the Hamburger Kunsthalle. In contrast is Tara Donovan's work—brilliant but rather otherworldly and intellectual —that dazzled but didn't move me when I saw her installation at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery in 2016.

Eva Hesse (not dated),  Contingent 1969 , National Gallery of Australia. Available at: http://bit.ly/2BomFx6 (accessed 30 November 2017).

Eva Hesse (not dated), Contingent 1969, National Gallery of Australia. Available at: http://bit.ly/2BomFx6 (accessed 30 November 2017).

Tara Donovan (2014),  untitled , Pace Gallery. Available at: http://bit.ly/2zEiM6H (accessed 30 November 2017).

Tara Donovan (2014), untitled, Pace Gallery. Available at: http://bit.ly/2zEiM6H (accessed 30 November 2017).

How might an installation, its materials, its form, and flow create belonging? community? connection? disconnection? crossed wires? mixed signals? confusion? being found? feeling lost? These are the small tests and models I'm leaning toward for next term, and am beginning to sketch ideas for now.

References

Eva Hesse. One More Than One (2013) Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany. 29 November 2013—2 March 2014. 

Wonder (2016) Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC. 13 November 2015—10 July 2016.

Research Aim + Objectives, v.2 + ideas for research methods

My research aim and objectives are narrowing, thankfully. The scope of what I could learn is enormous, so focus is imperative. I've gone from a bit of a kitchen sink approach to what I want to investigate (image! sound! memory! objects! video!) to a handful of keywords:

Installation art, home, dislocation, belonging, community

In turn, these ideas translate into my Aim and Objectives, v.2.

Aim and objectives, v.2

Aim and objectives, v.2

My initial ideas for methodology include:

  1. Continue my secondary research (papers, articles, critical reviews) on the historical and current contexts of installation art - when did it emerge and why? what differentiates it from other mediums? how might it be particularly appropriate for expressing my themes of interest?
  2. Primary research to document my experience as a newcomer to BAD, a cohort of 25ish MAFA colleagues, and the broader MFA (and maybe BFA) community. I have three "logs" that I've been completing daily since November 1st to capture various aspects of my experience.
  3. Primary research in the form of an invitation to this community to respond to statements such as: "What does home mean to you?" "What object, thing or image represents 'home' to you?" I would need to work out guidelines for the response format (visual, text, sound, video?) and how to process the data, which in turn could be used in an installation (maybe).
  4. Take up a collection of small objects donated by colleagues at BAD (students, faculty, staff?) that they feel represents who they are in our community - then use the objects in an installation.
  5. Create a participatory installation that people could contribute to over its duration. Again, I would need to determine how to process and document my "findings" and conclusions. And then what do I do with the things that viewers contribute?

Things are starting to feel clearer. I'm excited about some of these ideas. It feels interesting and important that the process I use directly impacts and contributes to what I hope to create through my practice: community, a sense of belonging, a place to call "home." If I can figure this out on a small, experimental scale through my research, the applications beyond an academic environment in today's world are powerful.

In the Studio: Finding Home

Surprisingly, it has taken me until today to actually get some work started in my on-campus studio at Dartmouth Avenue. Nearly nine weeks into the term! We were told there's no hurry, that next term we "re-enter" our studio practice officially, after this term's intense focus on research. We've also been told to just get into our studio space and experiment - that it's in doing the work that we'll uncover our new direction. All of which has felt like contradictory advice and has left me feeling like a deer in the headlights, temporarily frozen.

Kelly M. O'Brien, work in progress. Bath Spa MA Fine Art Program, Dartmouth Avenue studio, 18 November, 2017.

Kelly M. O'Brien, work in progress. Bath Spa MA Fine Art Program, Dartmouth Avenue studio, 18 November, 2017.

But I know from experience that the longer I hesitate, the harder it really is to begin again. So today I picked up where I left off in September for our group exhibition in Germany and recreated a partial version of my Mending | Tending wall installation. 

Kelly M. O'Brien, work in progress. Bath Spa MA Fine Art Program, Dartmouth Avenue studio, 18 November, 2017.

Kelly M. O'Brien, work in progress. Bath Spa MA Fine Art Program, Dartmouth Avenue studio, 18 November, 2017.

Although it's something I've done once before, it will always be different. Kind of like moving into a new home - my belongings are the same from the previous house, but they look completely different in the new space. Surrounding myself with familiar objects and materials is grounding, comforting. It will feel like home after awhile, but not right away.

Kreuzer, M. (2017)  Home in the re-making: Immigrants' transcultural   experiencing of   home . Journal of Business Research: Elsevier, Page 6, fig. 2. Shared consumer experiencing of home. 

Kreuzer, M. (2017) Home in the re-making: Immigrants' transcultural experiencing of home. Journal of Business Research: Elsevier, Page 6, fig. 2. Shared consumer experiencing of home. 

In a recent paper, Home in the re-making: Immigrants' transcultural experiencing of home (Kreuzer et al., 2017), Maria Kreuzer and her colleagues found three different ways that immigrants experience home: 1) longing for the past, nostalgic for what they left; 2) mingling new relationships with old and new ways of consuming (products, food, etc.); and 3) experiencing home within oneself, supported by new close social relationships and an independent sense of groundedness and wellbeing regardless of location. I can relate to all of these, with the latter being the most satisfying and beneficial to my wellbeing.

In thinking about my research aims and objectives, which have evolved and crystallized since I first wrote about them a month ago, these questions come to mind:

  1. What portion of the students in my MA program are from overseas or have relocated within the past three years?
  2. How do they define or experience home? What does home mean to them?
  3. What helps them feel at home here?
  4. What role does their participation as a student at Bath Spa play?

References

Kreuzer, M. (2017) Home in the re-making: Immigrants' transcultural experiencing of home. Journal of Business Research: Elsevier. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2017.10.047 (Accessed: 13 November 2017).

Case Study: Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze is a contemporary American sculptor and installation artist based in New York City and teaches visual art at Columbia University. Her work consists of using a mix of everyday objects—office supplies, cotton swabs, toilet paper, tape—and art mediums such as paint, prints, and video to create multimedia installations. She represented the United States at the 2013 Venice Biennale, was a MacArthur Fellow in 2003, and designed an immersive permanent artwork for the Second Avenue Subway in New York City in 2017 (Art21, 2017).

Sze, S. (2013) Triple Point, installation view, US Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale. Available at: http://www.tanyabonakdargallery.com/exhibitions/sarah-sze-triple-point (Accessed: 13 November 2017).

Sze, S. (2013) Triple Point, installation view, US Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale. Available at: http://www.tanyabonakdargallery.com/exhibitions/sarah-sze-triple-point (Accessed: 13 November 2017).

Sze's work challenges the traditional norms of sculpture by creating fragile, impermanent works that look as if they are in the process of being built or dismantled (Enwezor, et al., 2016). The accumulation of objects combine and inhabit spaces, climb up walls, and colonize "off" spaces (storage rooms, bookshelves, ceilings) (Slyce, 1998). While comprised of "a million little pieces," (Scott, 2012) her work is vast in scale and scope.

Sze's work addresses the tension between chaos and control (Carlock, 2003) through themes that include living in the urban environment (Slyce, 1998), data proliferation (Norden, 2007), consumer society (Buchloh, B.H.D., 2016), and climate change (Volk, 2015).

Sze, S. (1998)  Untitled (St. James) , Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. Available at: https://art21.org/gallery/sarah-sze-artwork-survey-1990s/#3 (Accessed: 9 December 2017).

Sze, S. (1998) Untitled (St. James), Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. Available at: https://art21.org/gallery/sarah-sze-artwork-survey-1990s/#3 (Accessed: 9 December 2017).

I find Sze's delicate and ephemeral work powerful and grounding—both in form and concept. A deeper dive into her work has helped me identify aspects of my own practice for further consideration and development:

:: the pace at which it is realistic to develop my concepts and the actual work—while Sze's early work as an emerging artist received a lot of critical attention, her practice has developed methodically and consistently over decades to become the tour de force that is is today.

:: practice-led research (Gray, 2004) is an appropriate path of inquiry for installation art—Sze says that she has dozens of experiments ongoing in her studio at any given time which are constantly being used in installations, then recycled for further development back in the studio before re-emerging in other installations (Art21, 2016). This practice is extended on-site during the installations themselves, with an emphasis on improvisation and spontaneity (Art21, 2012).

:: the importance of meticulous design and making—even though Sze uses bits and pieces that she buys enmass from local office suppliers and dime stores, her installations attend to sculptural formalities such as form, line, mass, balance and structure (Carlock, 2003), and are handcrafted and assembled with great care. There is nothing sloppy or haphazard about her work.

Sze, S. (1998)  Second Means of Egress,  Installation View, Berlin Biennial, Akademie der Kunste, Berlin. Available at: https://art21.org/gallery/sarah-sze-artwork-survey-1990s/#4 (Accessed: 9 December 2017).

Sze, S. (1998) Second Means of Egress, Installation View, Berlin Biennial, Akademie der Kunste, Berlin. Available at: https://art21.org/gallery/sarah-sze-artwork-survey-1990s/#4 (Accessed: 9 December 2017).

:: pay careful attention, starting now, to how I document my work. Because installation art is temporary, the only record of its existence will be the photography and video that are made of it. Sze took documentation of her work seriously from the very beginning (Slyce, 1998), using it as a means to "further communicate its bodily effect on the viewer beyond the limited time and site of the installation" (p. 8). 

:: the role of lighting and light in installation art—Sze makes interesting use of shadows in her work, playing with angle and intensity to distort line and pattern (Hunter, 2014).

Sze, S. (1999)  Seamless , installation view, "The Carnegie International 1999–2000," Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Available at: https://art21.org/gallery/sarah-sze-artwork-survey-1990s/#5 (Accessed: 8 December 2017).

Sze, S. (1999) Seamless, installation view, "The Carnegie International 1999–2000," Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Available at: https://art21.org/gallery/sarah-sze-artwork-survey-1990s/#5 (Accessed: 8 December 2017).

:: focus on quality over quantity and build from there—not all of Sze's works are room-sized. She puts her models on exhibit and has done smaller installations, especially earlier in her career.

Sze, S. (2015)  Model Series , installation view, Victoria Miro Gallery, London. Available at: http://thisistomorrow.info/articles/sarah-sze (Accessed: 9 November 2017).

Sze, S. (2015) Model Series, installation view, Victoria Miro Gallery, London. Available at: http://thisistomorrow.info/articles/sarah-sze (Accessed: 9 November 2017).

Sze, S. (1999) Capricious Invention of Prisons, installation view, 48th International Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Venice Biennale, Venice. Available at: https://art21.org/gallery/sarah-sze-artwork-survey-1990s/#6. Accessed: 8 December 2017).

Sze, S. (1999) Capricious Invention of Prisons, installation view, 48th International Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Venice Biennale, Venice. Available at: https://art21.org/gallery/sarah-sze-artwork-survey-1990s/#6. Accessed: 8 December 2017).

:: Sze's work is a solid contemporary contextual reference for my work. There are enough parallels—achieving mass and scale through accumulation (Slyce, 1998), site-specific response, use of marginal or atypical surfaces and spaces such as ceilings and corners, and the use of ephemeral materials to create delicate structures—for me to pay close attention to her approach and techniques, while enough difference in themes, motivations and materials to carve out a practice that is decidedly my own.

References

Art21 (2012) Improvisation: Sarah Sze. Available at: https://art21.org/watch/extended-play/sarah-sze-improvisation-short/ (Accessed: 14 October 2017).

Art21 (2016) How We See the World: Sarah Sze. Available at: https://art21.org/watch/extended-play/sarah-sze-how-we-see-the-world-short/ (Accessed: 14 October 2017).

Art21 (2017) Sarah Sze artist page. Available at: https://art21.org/artist/sarah-sze/ (Accessed: 14 October 2017).

Carlock, M. (2003) ‘Sarah Sze’s Organized Chaos’, Sculpture, November 2003, pp. 24-29.

Chiu, M. (2011) Sarah Sze: infinite line. New York: Asia Society Museum.

Enwezor, O., Buchloh, B.H.D., Hoptman, L.J. and Sze, S. (2016) Sarah Sze. London: Phaidon Press Limited.

Gray, C. and Malins, J. (2004) Visualizing research: a guide to the research process in art and design. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004.

Hunter, B.H. (2014) 'Sarah Sze at the Philadelphia The Fabric Workshop and Museum', Sculpture, October 2014, 33 (8), pp. 75-76.

Norden, L. (2007) Sarah Sze. New York: Abrams.

Scott, A.K. (2012) 'A Million Little Pieces', New Yorker, 88(13), pp. 60-66.

Slyce, J. (1998) ‘The Imagined Communities of Sarah Sze’ in Sarah Sze exhibition catalog. London: Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Volk, G. (2015) 'Sarah Sze', Art in America, 103(11), pp. 134-135.

Case Study: Grayson Perry at the Arnolfini

Grayson Perry's exhibition, The Most Popular Exhibition Ever!, at the Arnolfini in Bristol comes at an opportune moment. As students of research methodologies, we couldn't ask for a more accessible example of an artist's research and making process, from start to finish.

This is the second Perry exhibition that I've seen, the first being The Vanity of Small Differences (2016, Victoria Gallery). Then as now, Perry has deployed a repeatable methodology that involves a form of anthropological fieldwork that takes us full-circle from inception to reveal of the finished artwork back to the subjects of his research.

The Most Popular Exhibition Ever!  Installation view (2017). Arnolfini, Bristol, UK. 29 October 2017.

The Most Popular Exhibition Ever! Installation view (2017). Arnolfini, Bristol, UK. 29 October 2017.

The Most Popular Exhibition Ever! felt refreshingly transparent. The work on exhibit is the result of his long-term project, All Man (2016, Swan Films), a documentary that investigated multiple aspects of English society and culture to understand masculinity. Perry admits that he had to overcome his own prejudices, and the impact of a traumatic childhood with a father insensitive to his needs. He coaxes transparency from the people he studies, uncovering deeper emotions beneath their macho behavior. His entire process is transparent - from conception to research through making - by giving us access to his sketchbooks and video footage of him in various socioeconomic groups, in the studio, and video of him discussing the work.

Grayson Perry (2017),  Matching Pair  (detail). Arnolfini, Bristol, UK. 29 October 2017.

Grayson Perry (2017), Matching Pair (detail). Arnolfini, Bristol, UK. 29 October 2017.

Perry's research methods sit somewhere between non-participant observation (NPO) and participant observation (PO) (Gray, 2004) starting with a personal struggle or question, then using interviews, observation, participating in group activities, open calls for content via social media; sensitive documentation via photos, video, documentary film, and sketchbooks - all of which make sense and seem quite accessible for conducting research into cultural and social norms.

Grayson Perry (2016),  Death of a Working Hero . Arnolfini, Bristol, UK. 29 October 2017.

Grayson Perry (2016), Death of a Working Hero. Arnolfini, Bristol, UK. 29 October 2017.

One of the most powerful outcomes of Perry's process is that he shares the work he makes with the people who inspired it. It feels like a form of ritual, validation and healing for everyone involved, completing the vase or tapestry through the viewers' response to the work. The process seems complete for Perry as he reflects on how what he learned transformed him in relation to the original struggle that inspired his search for answers.

Thank you, Arnolfini and Grayson Perry, for curating this exhibition in a way that makes it highly transparent and extremely relevant for those of us digging our way through learning how to do proper academic research in service of our practice.

References

Gray, C. and Malins, J. (2004). Visualizing research: a guide to the research process in art and design. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Swan Films (2016) Grayson Perry: All Man. Available at:http://www.swanfilms.tv/productions/grayson-perry-all-man/ (Accessed: 30 October 2017).

The Most Popular Exhibition Ever!, (2017) Arnolfini, Bristol. 27 September - 24 December 2017.

Victoria Gallery (2016) Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences. Available at: https://www.victoriagal.org.uk/events/grayson-perry-vanity-small-differences (Accessed: 30 October 2017).

Research Aim + Objectives, v.1

In thinking about my research project, some initial clarity is starting to emerge. This is a first stab, an attempt to get my arms around a number of ideas swirling in my head.

Aims and objectives, v.1

Aims and objectives, v.1

After my brief brush during the Elastic Spaces Symposium with how other artists are portraying themes of belonging, dislocation, and community in their work, my thinking has opened up considerably around what mediums I might deploy in my work. I hadn't considered sound or video before, but now I am. This is exciting! Also a bit overwhelming - what do I know about sound and video? And how can I incorporate digital media with my affinity for analog materials like paper, thread, and ephemera?

While I realize that these ideas will morph and re-solidify as I move deeper into the research, it feels good to start putting some stakes in the ground. Only (already!) 3+ weeks into our program, I see that there's no time to dawdle.

Elastic Spaces Symposium

The Elastic Spaces Third International Symposium 2017 was held here at Bath Spa University on October 11-13. I went to two sessions: Thursday's research presentations at Sion Hill and Friday's VR broadcast session at the Newton Park Campus.

Screenshot  of  Elastic 3D Space  mindmap animation

Screenshot of Elastic 3D Space mindmap animation

I went to the symposium to expose myself to other ways of thinking about my research interest themes: home, place, dislocation, belonging, distance from loved ones, leaving people behind. I also wanted to see and hear how artists present their research - how are artists who are further down the path than I talking about their art? While I could only attend these two sessions, it turns out they were well worth the time and effort!

For my purposes, I found the presentations and subsequent conversations with Santiago Tavera (Virtual Narratives of Dislocation), Philippe Battikha (Halo), and Brigitta Zics (The Role of Experience in Art) to be the most compelling. In very different ways, they each introduced me to the idea of layering in an installation setting. That is, building up and playing with layers of elements like sound, video, and projected images to create an immersive experience. 

This is a key idea for several reasons at this point in my nascent research. First, I'm inspired by the idea of layers of meaning - and investigating ways to do that with the materials I use and how they are used. Layering—like a Google Map—comes to mind, offering different views of or perspectives on a place or location. Second, the use of other media is intriguing. A blend of analog and digital, material and ephemeral. And third, I love Santiago Tavera's notion of creating a sense of community and belonging by participating in his installations:

...ephemeral installation created as a collective; exploring what it means to belong in a specific place created via participants’ stories of belonging and dislocation.
— Santiago Tavera, lecture comments, Elastic Spaces 12 Oct. 2017

My brain is buzzing with ideas. 

Autobiographical Art

Another student asked a question I've been pondering: where to start if one's work is largely based on personal, private experiences? This question has become increasingly insistent for me and was an impetus for me pursuing this degree. The answer is something I've been intuitively doing all along: look at other artists who use personal content in their work.

It feels like I'm getting a bit ahead of myself since I haven't stepped back to respond to basic questions regarding paradigm, worldview, or any other of the weighty academic terms we're learning. Which I will. But for now, I'll capture and start to reflect on the content I've been collecting so there's a record of it here. 

Starting with a series of mind maps feels so much easier than taking a bunch of notes about different artists or themes. Here's a very early version of one of Autobiographical Art.

Mindmap for Autobiographical Art (v1).

Mindmap for Autobiographical Art (v1).

There are clearly tons to drill down into for many of these components. I can already see that I'm taking an inductive approach, allowing the content to evolve as I do the research and notice patterns (Gray, 2004). The highlighted yellow bubbles are trends that I see at this early stage. I envision more mindmaps (Installation Art, Techniques, Materials, a specific artist's influences, etc.). These little maps could well become a key part of my process.

For now, instead of getting hung up on theories and terminology, I'll allow these explorations to unfold, watching for what they want to reveal.

References

Gray, C. and Malins, J. (2004) Visualizing research: a guide to the research process in art and design. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004.