Research Showcase at University Centre South Devon

I was invited, for the third time, to deliver a presentation about my research project. When designing a structure for my talk, I divided the supporting PowerPoint into two distinctive sections. The first part was devoted to my recent achievements, exhibitions and awards. The second, focused on my last pieces. I have decided to cover the most current period of the last 18 months only.

UCSD Research Showcase Pav Szymanski.pptx — Read on testmailsouthdevonac-my.sharepoint.com/:p:/r/personal/pszymanski_southdevon_ac_uk/_layouts/15/Doc.aspx

A recording of my presentation is below:

https://web.microsoftstream.com/video/db5b1042-a3fa-4c3c-81d4-cc5bcb897869

Malagasy Queen

Micheline lives on Madagascar – an island, which is famous for its wildlife and beauty. She is stunningly natural, pretty and used to be called a Malagasy Queen. Before the pandemic, she had a respectable job, good existence and worked as a teacher of French. Now, the dynamics changed. She is trying to rebuild her life, while looking for employment in foreign call centres. The beautiful background is a constant, but the reality can be a nightmare.

La liberté ou la Mort

https://www.historyofinformation.com/image.php?id=6982

There are different schools of thought regarding the highest values of humanity. Some say that the phenomenon of life is absolute and unquestionable, while others argue that it is freedom. I support the latter. All our heroes fought hard, and subsequently, sucrified their lives in order to fight for liberty. This document and its philosophy supports my motivation for painting the Haitian series of images and from other countries.

Malagasy Queen – Developments

I have started to introduce a range of vibrant details in the background space. The idea was to create a sense of cohesion and belonging. I have used a repetitive motif of a baobab tree, which is typically associated with this fantastic island. The current stage of the painterly process is below:

Reflections on @madsmilano

When reflecting on the importance of the use of colour in my work, I was trying to analyse its impact on the mood portrayed and the perception of a viewer.

As a part of this critical process, I watched a number of videos from previous exhibitions. My attention was drawn to a brief narrative by Lisa Galletti, one of art curators at the gallery. The essence of her wise words somehow summarises my inner thoughts and feeling. Perhaps, because of this incidental cohesion of views, she contacted me to invite me to take part in “Love My Body”. I was truly impressed by her spoken narrative as follows:

“Colour as a visual perception of the various electromagnetic radiations within the visible spectrum reflected by bodies.

Colour as a natural or artificial substance used as dye or paint.

What is colour for you?

Colour that causes emotion, changes your mood.

Colour is in nature; in its indefinite variations.

It is a foundation of division of the world and, at the same time, a characteristic of it.”

Lisa Galletti @madsmilano

I include an Instagram post with her final video appraisal of artwork, she was responsible for as a curator. Thank you Lisa!

‘Insight Out’ – Presentation by Dr. Joana Casaca Lemos

I am very excited about my recent invitation by Atolye, Dubai’s Creative Hub, to join an online presentation by Dr. Joana Casaca Lemos. She is a designer, researcher and educator, who specialises in interdisciplinary work. Her current engagements include her involvement in an independent run consultancy that supports organisations with research and writing a book titled: ‘When Research is Mesearch.’ She has worked with organisations such as Daimler, Sustainable Oceans Alliance, Business Council for Sustainability, Forum for the Future, among others. 
Joana is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts UK and holds a PhD from Central Saint Martins College of Art in London. 


The aim of Joana’s presentation was to provide a space for creative professionals to reflect and assess their personal growth with reference to their practice. She proposed to question the value of work experiences, which are transformative? The other deliberations were concerned with looking at what makes us feel uncomfortable and, therefore, challenged our understanding of the world.

Joana started by sharing her journey and reflective practice to introduce a framework drawn from her experience as a design researcher. Subsequently,  all participants were guided through a collaborative activity, which enabled them to reflect on their practice and articulate their own ‘me-search’.

Joana’s intellectual provocation was very inspiring, as follows:

As curious creatives we often draw inspiration from the world around us – but what might happen if we look into the world within?
 
Leen Sadder, the organiser, explained the broader concept, which underpins the new series of presentations and stated in her invitation that:

Insight Out is a brand new guest series hosted by ATÖLYE Dubai, featuring creative seekers, whose inward explorations have positively impacted the work they put out into the world. Once a month, we welcome you into the inner world of a designer, artist or maker to learn about the practices and experiences that have shaped their creative output.”

Despite questioning Joana’s spiritual perspective, which may have distorted and skewed her ability to critically analyse her research findings, I found this video conference very inspiring and thought provoking. Her travel experiences have a substantial impact on her thinking and this key element is also echoed in my own creative practice and exploration.

Thank you Atolye for your invitation and another remarkable cultural and professional experience.

.

ARTPANDEMIC – Virtual Summer Exhibition 2020.

In addition to all of my current duties, I have spent the last three months working hard to organise an amazing and challenging venture called artpandemic.co.uk

Due to the many limitations of the current crisis, our summer show has been moved online. Despite these compromising conditions, which you might think, would prevent me from organising a major celebration of learning and achievement, I have put together something very special and much bigger than the usual final assessment exhibition.

As a leader of Art & Design at my institution, I have invited Hi-Tec and Digital to join with me for a unique online international exhibition.  Additionally, I have approached a range of former students, staff and artists from all-over-the-world to celebrate creativity and resistance to the damaging impact of the current pandemic. I am also delighted that Richard Wilson – one of the most renowned British sculptors agreed to exhibit a range of his artefacts with us, including his famous architectural interventions.

The Virtual Summer Exhibition 2020 took place on Friday, June 19th at 6 pm UK time.   A scheduled link was distributed to those invited and activated on the night. The celebrations were possible thanks to Zoom – a multi-screen videoconferencing and interaction platform.

During the Private View, I was joined by artists from 18 countries, who were supporting my innovative response to the crisis, by producing their own work to enrich the exhibition.

I was asked to make a statement for a press release in Devon Live:

“It’s really exciting in these difficult times to be able to construct an exciting and revolutionary platform for students to present their work.  The prospect of disappointing everyone by not having a summer exhibition and denying our learners an opportunity to show their talent was unacceptable.  The idea of organising this ambitious online venture came about from my involvement in the prestigious Dubai Ideathon 2020.  I was selected out of over 300 applicants to play an active role together with 100 fellow international artists and designers.  I realised then the potential in connecting hundreds of people simultaneously could be achieved, and immediately knew, this would be the perfect solution for our students”.

The notion of an online art magazine seemed the natural way to go to prolong and elevate the artwork long after the event and give the work longevity. I have worked with three Foundation Art students on the design and format of the brand new Art Foundry Magazine.  The first edition includes interviews and work produced by Richard Wilson, alumni, current students and a selection of collaborating artists.  This publication will be updated on a quarterly basis.

Further details are below:

VIRTUAL SUMMER SHOW 2020 ART PANDEMIC

Link to the online exhibition:

Home

Static poster:

Link to our full invitation video:

Art Pandemic in numbers:

139 artists, 1935 artefacts and 18 countries are represented, including: UK, USA, Switzerland, Canada, Nigeria, Serbia, Italy, The Philippines, Russia, China, Australia, Mexico, Spain, Poland, Argentina, Bahrain, UAE & Greece.

Group selfie:

I have included some statistics below. Data were gathered on 27th June 2020.

total number of views to date
number of views from different countries
number of top views

Exit Tutorial

Tutorial with Jonathan Kearney,

Video Skype call,

Wednesday, 17th June at 12.30

This was my last tutorial before the final submission at the beginning of July. We had a long conversation about my project and its refined and evolved meaning. Jonathan approved the changes, which I have made in consequence of our previous discussions. All my work was converted into video files and supported by a computer generated spoken narrative explaining each piece. This element of juxtaposition of image and related stories is integral to my investigation. It gives important additional insights and explanations, while contextualising my work and thinking.

We progressed to discuss the impact of the current pandemic on my research, visual investigation and the overall achievement. I explained how I would like to continue with the development of my project and ideas, and we discussed the plan for extending my visualisation during the forthcoming trip to Madagascar. In case of prolonged sky closure, I intend to identify another, appropriate to my creative intentions, location such as Serbia.

The second part of the tutorial was dedicated to reviewing the blog and its curation. Jonathan confirmed the final design of my online exhibition space and asked several questions regarding my proposal and its rationale. Subsequently, I was advise how to improve the initial part of my unit 2 assessment plan. I was advised to elaborate on a list of headings to explain their content and significance to progress. I also learned that some of the links in this document did not work and needed to be corrected.

I fully embraced all advice given for my consideration and actioned every suggestion immediately after the tutorial. I am very grateful to Jonathan for taking a lot of time to help me refine and improve my submission, which is now much more thorough and comprehensive, therefore increasing my chances for the top score.

call ended at 13.45

Final Exhibition

In the context of the current pandemic, our final show will take place online. Additionally, several fantastic opportunities have been recently created to display and promote our work through a variety of exhibitions and using different digital platforms.

At the moment, the main focus is on collaboration with Aristotle in order to present my project using Cables. Following a lengthy process of negotiation, refinement and improvements, the design of exhibition is rapidly taking shape. I have documented the thread of our discussions: https://www.fineartdigital.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=12

The idea for the show is inspired by the clarity and aesthetics offered by platforms such as Behance and Instagram. I really wanted to display all of my artefacts on a plain and long white wall, without any unnecessary distractions. However, due to the limitations of the software I was forced to opt for the grid idea, organising all of my paintings and video work in three rows, 7 pieces in each and 21 in total. Each item included is supported by a computer generated voice in order to contextualise and explain the outcome of my visual investigation and exploration. This method also allows me to detach myself form the entirety of my experiences and, subsequently, view my work as a distant observer. Supposedly, it is all in the past… yet my memories are becoming more and more vivid.

As a coping mechanism, I keep repeating to myself the same sentence, over and over again:

‘Do not be sad that it is all over, but smile that it had ever happened…’

The new research adventure in Madagascar is just around the corner!

The work can be vied at :

https://cables.gl/p/5eb65614c9c5ea4f350f9f87?s=8ZcGTceygsIBRC0J

Screenshot of the front page is below:

‘From A Distant New York’ – International Screening and Conference

I have been invited to participate in a fascinating international interactive screening of the film “The World Before Your Feet” and conference event. It was organised by ATÖLYE, Dubai’s Creative Hub, in partnership with Palmwood, American Film Showcase and the US Consulate in Dubai.

There are 8,000 miles of roads and paths in New York City and for the past six years Matt Green has been walking them all—every street, park, cemetery, beach, and bridge.

Executive produced by Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg and directed by Jeremy Workman, “The World Before Your Feet” is a tribute to an endlessly fascinating city and the freedom to be found, wherever you live, in simply taking a walk.

The team of filmmaker experts were presents:

I am very excited to take part in this amazing venture, which was attended by filmmaker Jeremy Workman, executive producer Jesse Eisenberg and the wanderer himself Matt Green. All live conversations were moderated by Emirati filmmaker Amal Al Agroobi.

A screenshot of a thank you email is below:

Final Evaluation

Summative Evaluation and Progression Statement:

I have thoroughly enjoyed an exciting, life-changing and broad-ranging research journey during this course.  All my creative experiences and activities have been thoroughly recorded in my blog and, to date, I have published well over 200 posts.  In order to give a structure to this ongoing document, I have organised all entries using the following key categories: critical analysis, reflection and experimentation.  The others covered methods of visualisation, gathering of primary sources, viewing of exhibitions, reflection on tutorials and self-assessment of progress.

As a result of my world travels, I had a wealth of resources and unique observations of the dynamics of life across humanity.  However, I was oblivious to a universal truth, which reveals a common link across nations, cultures and races. My initial research was concerned with the clarification of my creative intentions and learning to understand the potential and value of my learning process.

During reviewing my primary sources and research findings, I noticed reoccurring characteristics across the different data.  Therefore, my focus begun to be placed on investigating and questioning the concept on waiting for change in a hope for improvement.  I recorded numerous people entrapped in poverty, who were suspended in vacuum of detachment, frozen in a bizarre inactivity without any chances for progress, development and achievement.

Waiting was a form of a coping mechanism, a form of dealing with tepee truth of their world as it really was.

Experimentation with interrogating an amalgamation of painting with a running narrative followed. This possibility was further extended by looking at denial and considering the dimension of time, which was required in order to make things happen and earn the necessary monetary funds.

I tried to remove from my images all symbols of luxury and wealth, which are taken for granted and, simultaneously, remain unobtainable.  Gradually, I refined my research question and focused on the space in between certainty and uncertainty.  I experimented with video pieces inspired by Bruce Nauman. I started to to alternate a violent act of blasting my paintings off with a powerful jet of water and the repainting process, always uncertain of unpredictability embedded in this method and never satisfied with early of superficial success and accidental effect. I forced myself to persevere and become consistent in my approach.

I took this idea further to a more extreme and aggressive stage by introducing machine interventions.  I produced a range of video pieces with impact and potential for further development.

My research findings confirmed that there is little certainty in life and the only constructive way forward is to persevere.

My work has begun to become sophisticated and evolved during a long period of exploration of media, materials and processes, always trying to discuss alternatives and extend the intellectual properties of my current debate and discussion.

My experiences, at this stage, were continuously updated by ongoing visits in search for new primary sources, references and inspirations. At this stage, I was very intrigued by a newly discovered characteristics of uncertainty in the context of waiting.

Hypnotic repetition gives people to lose themselves in an opiate-trans like entrapment in daily routines and automated activities.

This brain numbing approach allows for hope to flourish and despair to depart.

I have also looked at repetition in a variety of contexts and locations to triangulate date, increase authenticity and reliability of my research findings and observations.

I immersed myself in working with a range of characteristics across different cultures, who were subjected to surviving, while being lost and oblivious to reality.

The outcome of this experimentation started to be more exciting than the original piece. It also communicated my concept and creative intentions through the repetitive spinning of a machine without thought, further analysis and reflected the behaviour of the entrapped people through mimicking automated and unconscious actions.

I painted a piece titled Burmese Captain, who was in charge of a ferry and totally disengaged with his passengers. The next significant painting depicted a Pool Player, who was forced to perform to perfection with no end in sight of relieve and portrayed a Snake seller determined to keep her market stall open.

There were also other works, including Wheel of Fortune trolley and Burmese Monks collecting donations.  Finally, a large-scale painting depicting a foot masseur.  Perhaps this recent attempt to extend my discussion by observing the mundane ritual of repetition in a Thai massage parlour made the most significant contribution to my thinking and visualisation.

Subsequently, I developed a meaningful plan for a range of options for my final exhibition.  The essence of my ideas was to reveal the nature of this universal condition using hypnotic and repetitive tactics. 

However, who could have anticipated the current situation.  The reassurance of repetition is denied and the old dreams, ambitions and desires are totally contradicted.  Previously, the status quo was a daily torture and nightmare, but has subsequently turned into their hope and aspiration.  Their poverty has become more intense and not starving to death has become the focus of the day.  The former definition and understanding of entrapment in hypnotic repetition has been reversed and replaced by survival at its most basic level.

The initial observations of my project were to investigate uncertainty.  My research has ultimately closed  the full circle and is exposing how life has suddenly become ephemeral and fragile to the extreme.  Nothing can be taken for granted and the pandemic has reinforced how unpredictable life is. 

Additionally, the element of questioning in my research statement has been given a new significance.  We are all trapped in the dark hold, sailing through the rough seas of the crisis with only hope as a comfort. Similarly, the artifact by Balka, which confronted us with a dark space not knowing the environment and not being able to see our way through.  There is no light at the end of the tunnel.  Does optimism become despair.

My ambition is to explore the unknown human reactions to this crisis.  I am excited for my work to be shared across to allow for a broader understanding of the world and resourcefulness to keep their spirits high and without self-pity.

Their paradox is, perhaps, most revealing that the people with the least have the most.

My project is on course to continue to develop and expand beyond the scope and time boundaries of this course. I have already planned for a trip to Madagascar and Ethiopia to gather more experiences to respond to and enhance my current understanding and interpretation of the leading research question.  I will attempt to develop a further perspective on related issues and observations.  My approach and explorations will remain open-ended and without presumption of excitement and uncertainty of tomorrow.

The world has suddenly become a much more complicated place.  I am privileged to witness history in the making and would like to respond to the new dramatic developments covering all contexts of life, which is being confronted with so much death, pain and sadness.

My ultimate goal is to prepare a larger number of paintings to reveal the consequence of the evolving emotional narrative in preparation for a one man exhibition.

Symposium – Reflections

Jonathan presented my 5 minute video to the group yesterday. I received a broad range of opinions, questions and suggestions. I was inspired by a constructive dialogue and several intriguing interpretations of my work. I would like to respond to the main comments as follows:

Matt – is the Venetian mask making its way into paintings too or are the sequences of you wearing the mask in this video taken from a piece in itself – where did it come from? I’m curious.

Yes, it will be a part of a future painting. My intention was to create a sensation of an outsider, alien like character, who observes and comments on the nature of the human condition from ‘out there’.

Alexis – you have mentioned that the voice in the narration is as though an alien, it is another and not you. What do you see is the relationship between the voice of the narrator, the text and yourself?

The alien like voice creates a clash between my observations and those of an outsider, who is trying to formulate an objective and detached analysis of the situation and predicaments.

Danielle – I’m interested to know whether/how hypnotic repetition is embedded into your painting process?

Using a washing machine as a creative tool is repetitive in its own right. Watching the spinning of the drum has hypnotic qualities. The slow and very precise process of portrait painting is also monotonous and mind-numbing. It is passive and based on observing the process of destruction without any possibilities for intervention and influence.

Aristotle – Do you see your artistic identity as an alter-ego?

Not at alter ego. The intention is to initiate a dialogue by introducing another perspective, an angle, which is unbiased.

Matt – This is something, which I remain interested in – I asked similar questions during our group tutorial at low residency in terms of the point at which a painting becomes fixed, concluded, or left, and the cycle is broken – is this point at which it becomes a story?

My work is based on an evolving and sequential dialogue, a commentary on the human condition in the context of predicaments of daily survival and turbulence of existence. It is not an object of craft, which forces a question about the work being completed. It is not a piece of embroidery – you do it and than, it is done.

Kelda – is (your project) about discovery? With the travels. With your artwork? You have been experimenting with process like using the washing of your artwork…

My research is focused on an attempt to develop a deeper understanding in order to establish and analyse the discrepancy between what is on the surface and what is really going on underneath the facade. The process is metaphorically important. The underpinning thinking is of primary significance, as always.

Alexis – The washing of the canvases is clearly an important element in your process, how does it function in the concept of hypnotic repetition and does it have a personal significance?

The spinning motion of a drum of a washing machine has hypnotic qualities. Its metaphorical function is to confirm and reinforce my observations about the repetitive nature of peoples’ lives and the entire structure of their existence. There is no escape from this entrapment. The destination of every attempt to break free from this cycle is failure. It becomes consumed by it and integral to the entire existence.

Danielle – (hypnotic repetition is embedded into life in its entirety) through habits?

I am not talking about rituals and acquired habits. My project explores the essence of being and its overwhelming impact on the most basic form of existence – dealing with life without thinking about it – getting on with perseverance.

Ben – I find it interesting that the washing, really does not wash away anything. Merely smears and alters the original image into something new.

It is very much a part of an uncontrollable, uncertain and unpredictable creative process.

Jonathan – the washing process is obviously connected to washing and cleansing but in this case it is also very destructive, as it removes large amounts of the painted surface, how much of this is about your giving up control or giving over control to the washing machine in this case, is it in any way an empathetic action with the stories of come of those you have met?

Yes, it is in a way, because there is a bizarre similarity, a parallel between the nature of my process and the lives of the people I paint.

Kelda – It is also retelling the story (of the painting, or the people whose stories you are seeking out), the ‘truth’ is distorted with every telling.

Absolutely, it is twisted and distorted, just like their lives and existence – nothing is certain.

Leah – Regarding “new normality”. I have a question about this. What is the difference between the new normality and the old normality? What on earth can completely change our inherent state? If it is only changes slowly over time. So can it be said that “change” is what we call “normality”?

The key point is that everyone has a different normality and a unique perspective on life and existence. My work reinforces this concept and celebrates this thinking.

Matt – There is a great richness and depth to your storytelling in conversation. Pav – maybe the layers of paint form a mask that invites inspection without the spoken word?

Yes, possibly, but the narrative is very important and forms another layer to the understanding of my perspective and research findings.

AxAsh – just sharing my personal opinion,I feel there might be some violence element in your work Pav. I meant,did you attempt to make it or it is just a random result?An interesting saying is that art making is another form of crime. Some film directors have the same explanation. This can be a way to heal their trauma?How do you think?

The character is not violent, may appear to be sinister. This is, however, a part of a bias and interpretation from the observer and depends on his own insecurities. It is designed to draw attention to the situation.

Friederike – [It is also retelling the story (of the painting, or the people whose stories you are seeking out), the ‘truth’ is distorted with every telling]
Yes, exactly and therefore is very well in tune with concept of the mask, which can hide identity but also retells a story like in theatre.

Repetition stops you from thinking and analysing your own life, ambitions, dreams and aspirations. You hypnotically and simple ‘get on with it’!