Exhibition Design – First Draft

Following an exchange of messages, Aristotle has worked really hard in order to visualise my ideas for the exhibition. Initially, I wanted to display my artefacts all in one line. My intention was to have them equally spaced and presented on a white and plain wall with no shadows and other unnecessary distractions. For technical reasons, this was impossible to achieve. The first draft is based on a grid, which consists of three rows. Every individual image can be enlarged for viewing. I am very impressed by its simple, clear and aesthetic look.

I have posted the following two questions for a further discussion with Aristotle:

  1. Will videos play looped in small windows or only, when individually enlarged?
  2. Will I be able to add text/ sound files to accompany and explain my work?

This is necessary for me to ascertain in order to continue with additional preparation of appropriate text and narrative.

Screenshot of the overall page
Screenshot of an enlarged individual piece.

I am very happy with the progress of the design proposal for the exhibition. I am excited to see how it will continue to develop and evolve until a final resolution is achieved and refined.

Final Evaluation – New Progress

I have continued with the process of refining my final evaluation and review. The pre-pandemic part appears to be appropriately developed and covers the entire period of the ‘physicality’ of learning, research and experimentation. Additionally, it gives an outline of my personal and professional ambitions for the future.

The next step will be to focus on looking at how the context of lockdown has redefined my thinking. My new findings appear to contradict the former status quo.

Version 1.0

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 humanity across many countries.  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 and experimentation processes.

During a review of my primary sources and research findings, I noticed a number reoccurring patterns and 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 adopted as a form of a coping mechanism and dealing with the truth of their world as it really was.

Experimentation with interrogation of primary sources through an amalgamation of painting with a running narrative followed. This possibility was further extended by looking at denial and inclusion of the dimension of time, which was required in order to make things happen while working hard to earn the necessary monetary funds.

Through overpainting in black, I tried to remove all symbols of luxury and wealth from my images.  These are frequently 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, which were inspired by powerful recordings by Bruce Nauman. I started to alternate a violent act of blasting my paintings off with a powerful jet of water with the repainting process, always uncertain and full of unpredictability embedded in this method.  I was never satisfied with early of superficial success and accidental effects. I forced myself to persevere and become consistent and methodical in my approach.

Distraction become the essence of my creation.

I developed this idea further by taking it to a more extreme and aggressive stage through an introduction of machine interventions.  I produced a range of video pieces with impact and potential for further development.

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

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

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

Hypnotic repetition gives people an opportunity to loose 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 motion of a washing machine without thought, further analysis and reflected the behaviour of the entrapped people through mimicking their 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 and portrayed a Snake seller determined to keep her market stall open.

There were also other works, including a story of a Wheel of Fortune trolley man and Burmese Monks taking break from their duties of collecting donations.  Finally, a large scale painting depicting a foot masseur followed.  Perhaps this latest 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.

I am excited for my work to be shared across to allow for a broader understanding of the world and human 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 trips 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.

Symposium – Development of Presentation.

Presentation in Progress:

Refined proposal:

Image remains:

This is a holistic and conclusive summary and visual outcome of my research, practical experimentation and analysis, which I have develop in consequence to my investigation into hypnotic repetition over the last few years.

I have attempted to portray my research findings as unreal. In the context of the current crisis, my ability to travel appears to be nothing, but a distant memory. The seriousness of the situation is reflected in a ‘torture like’ visual metaphor, which is intentionally ambiguous. The title implies a false show or pretence. The opulence of the Venetian mask has an important function here. It depersonalises the character. We are all entrapped in the vacuum of hypnotic repetition, regardless of status, age and location. The yellow and gold tonation imply a form of celebration, perhaps a masked ball, which allows all participants to misbehave without any possibilities of being recognised and punished. It creates a feeling of safety and removes all unnecessary barriers and limitations.

The process of washing is also of significance here. Its aim is to cleanse, purify and remove a burden of recollections and reminders of the past. It is a perfect time to move on and embrace the new normality in the brave and contemporary post pandemic world.

The narrative has a purposefully confused and partially non-sequential timeline. The underpinning idea is to disorientate potential viewers and make them question the purpose of the existence through an interpretation of the meaning of my video.

The spinning cycle of the machine has hypnotic properties and enhances the overall feeling of absurd, repetition and induces a fatamorgana of safety and cosiness.

In contradiction to logic, opportunities arise in life in order to break the mundane phenomenon of entrapment and never-changing routine. Perhaps, with increased sensitivity of observation, we would be able to free ourselves from this ballast and seek other endeavours and experiences to continue to make progress, develop and flourish.

The masquerade of ‘head-spinning’ continues, while we are all waiting for something to change and happen.

This crazy pirouette continues forever. One broken cycle leads to another entrapment. New becomes old almost instantly. One fulfilment expectantly turns into a disaster and we remain unsatisfied, while travelling on a piece of rock through space – paradoxically, entrapped in a hope that the final destination is anything but death!

However, with great and vulgar arrogance, we continue to refuse to accept that nothing lasts forever and everything will turn into dust.

Dust and darkness (sic!)

Evaluation – Development Stage 2

I have done quite a lot of thinking about my progress during the course. I am trying to develop a further link between my former achievements and my current ambitions regarding my personal and professional development after the course.

The key question is – how do I plan for my further research to ensure continuation of my project and extend on visualisation of alternative ideas.

I have typed and annotated my initial reflections. I carry this document with me during my evening walks along Sunset Boulevard in Torquay. This gives me an opportunity to reflect further on its content and give me additional possibilities for consideration.

I have included scans of this document below. I will continue with this method of refinement until I reach a stage , when I feel that I can make progress with the evaluation process.

Ravens & Crows Will Peck Us to Pieces – Glazed.

The painting has been continuously glazed and cleaned. It has gone through a number of stages and altered by, contradictory in temperature, transparent layers of olive oil and alkyd paints.

I have gone through a long process of consideration and reflection on my current painting. I was questioning how to make a radical progress with my current painting? On the one hand, the composition is intentionally balanced and scattered, on the other, the image lacks the desired level of depth and mood. My intention was to make it more dynamic and dramatic.

Currently, the skeletal silhouettes are quite rough and crude in execution. The idea is to echo the reality of my primary source – crows and ravens feasting on rotting seaweed, which is tumbled and mixed with rubbish, decomposing plastic and other organic matter, and surrounded by the most repelling possible stench. This analysis of my research findings describes and outlines both the source and the concept, while setting my work in a horrid, dark and depressing context.

Somewhere, in the centre of the compositional entrance, there is a portrait of myself. It is covered with an embedded text in Spanish. The fonts are almost impossible to decipher. My intention was to draw analogies to the final end and death of the most amazing and pure experiences in life. I wanted to question the purpose, sense, direction and destination, while embracing the most powerful existential thoughts and feelings.

Subsequently, I started to experiment with a range of glazes using alkyd paints. I wanted to drift away from the time typically used media in my studio: oil and encaustic media. Alkyd paints are thicker and stronger.  They consist of thermoplastic polyester resins made by heating polyhydric alcohols with polybasic acids or their anhydrides. Their main function is to create protective coatings, which are resistant to ageing and general wear. This physical property of this toxic medium creates a significant clash with my need to protect the significance of the past. To experiment with the viscosity and luminosity of the glazes, I have diluted them with the best quality of extra virgin olive oil. The use of a top-of-the-range product, here again, is intentional and carefully thought out. The idea was to depart from commercial qualities of cheap and raw linseed oil. I wanted to replace them with a natural and silky translucency of an opulent food ingredient. It is like feeding the birds and, simultaneously, covering the essence of the subject matter of the under image with a preserving layer of indulgence, luxury and melancholia. The additional purpose of this is try to safe myself from the attack of the cruel and metaphorically important ravens and crows.

I have included below, two documentary photographs of the glaze alteration process. They illustrate a long cycle of the building of the layers. It consists of warming up and cooling down the compositional colour scheme. Ultimately, the developed image will be ‘touched up’ with oil bars in order to continue to increase the vibrancy of the tint and add another element to the piece – texture.

Looking back at the painting process, my inspiration came from both, observation of a primary source and digestion of a piece by Greta Alfaro. I saw her work on display at the Saatchi Gallery. Her 2009 piece called In Ictu Oculi, Single channel video (HDV, 16:9, colour, sound, duration: 10:37) The Latin title in translation means ‘in the brink of an eye’.

She uses birds in a Hitchcock-like, metaphorical way. However, the meaning of her piece is different. It focuses on questioning human desires and has a very dark side to it. I thought that quoting her video and learning from her use of analogies and suggestions was very relevant to my painterly explorations.

In Ictu Oculi
https://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/greta_alfaro_in_ictu_oculi.htm

Final Evaluation – Initial Draft

I have started to draft my final evaluation. My decision is to initially review my progress on the course. This summary will be refined and developed further through further drafts, progress maps and charts. Subsequently, I will attempt to assess the impact of the current pandemic on both my project and thinking. I will look at how lockdown, social distancing and isolation have redefined the meaning of some of the key concepts that I have been researching and analysing. Waiting in the context of hypnotic repetition has changed its depth, intensity and connotations. There is a significant clash between how we embrace these ideas in the post crisis world.

To take a break from the internet and my online existence, I have started to draw up some preliminary thoughts using pan and paper – how refreshing!

The cumulative part of this document will consider the relationship between my learning and growth and my personal and professional development in the post MA environment. I will attempt to go beyond composing an immediate action plan. Hopefully, I will be able to continue to evolve my focus and expand on my research base through the prearranged trip to Madagascar this summer.

I will also reflect on the opportunities, which were created by an unexpected shift from the physicality of a material exhibition to something, which is hidden in a digital space. I would like for my online show to be a metaphor for poetry and music. They are not permanent and do not have dimensions and weight. They exist in totally different spheres of our lives and existence. These are called consciousness and soul.

Reflections on the Final Show

I have researched and tested a great number of possible platforms for the final show. Unfortunately, I have found them quite disappointing. The most common concept is to based on echoing a feeling of a physical gallery. Frequently, the software is very slow and clumsy in operation. Additionally, the overall effect is more focused on the look of the space rather than the work itself. Art becomes somehow secondary to the meaningless decorations and textures of walls, ceiling and the lighting.

The most popular online gallery is artsteps.com and https://www.furioos.com/ is best for streaming 3D work.

Other options, which are worth investigating are:

https://www.capterra.com/art-gallery-software/

https://www.3dvas.com/

http://omeka.org/

http://openexhibits.org/

http://collectiveaccess.org/

http://pachyderm.nmc.org

Alternatively, I have considered using a website, which is similar in design to behance.net.

I really like the simplicity, effectiveness and freshness of the front page. There is a grid of large block images, which is inviting and very clear. This website is able to accommodate a broad range of artefacts, including gifs files and video work. Photography on display is relatively high resolution and organised with order and structure.

Our group meets in Zoom on a regular bases to discuss possibilities for arranging the exhibition. All students are very proud and would like to present their research projects to the best of the abilities. Likely, Aristotle, who is one of our students, has offered to help everyone and donated both, his time and the use of his original software.

In preparation for my exhibition, I have carefully considered a range of ideas. My main intention is to make sure that the way, in which my work is displays reinforces its meaning. I would like to avoid using any unnecessary gimmicks and distractions.

In these unprecedented times, it is quite strange for a painter to accept that the final exhibition will not have a physical dimension. Frankly, I am saddened and overwhelmed by a lack of reality it terms of the experience of true colour, texture and painterly mastery of strokes. However, an artist and creative individual needs to seek opportunities in overcoming obstacles. Therefore, my intention is to excel myself and make the online exhibition even better, more refined and sophisticated. I would like for this to be a new learning curve full of controlled happy accidents, experimentation and deep reflection of what is appropriate in term of visual communication – my chosen language of expression.

The digital approach creates a new chance to experiment with a ‘space’, which supports and reinforces my messages in cohesion to deliver a holistic poetry about my painterly and video work.

Currently, I am planing for a long wall with three parallel and simultaneous video projections. This number can be possibly extended to four. I am in the process of working on a painting titled ‘Ravens and Crows Will Peck Us to Pieces’. It is quite likely that I will make sufficient progress to video another washing cycle. This image is different to portraiture. Therefore, I was relatively hesitant to include this image. However, on reflection, it summarises my overall responses to my research findings in a time of lockdown and social isolation. We are all subjected to mortality, vulnerable and fragile. The end of our journey is the only certainty in our lives. Death is the culmination of our waiting, while being suspended in the vacuum of hypnotic repetition.

The side walls of the gallery will be dedicated to the display of the actual paintings. I should be able to exhibit between 8 and 10 canvasses.

It is all very exciting!

Dubai Ideathon- Day 2

Inspirational experience in a difficult time!

Day 2 was also extended to most of day 3. My team – 11B got very passionate about crating a holistic and xcohesive platform. Our concept was to bring people together in a time of crisis, social distancing and isolation.

We produced a very comprehernsive proposal for a range of ideas and supporting online platforms. I was selected by the team to present our proposal to the forum of 174 observes via Zoom videoconference. Our proposal was very well received and the team and I are awaiting further news on a range of possible developments.

Ravens and Crows Will Peck Us to Pieces – Painting Progress

I have gone through a long journey Exploration, trial and error with this piece. Initial observational and crude sketches of crows in hard pencil, were gradually transformed into dynamic and terrifying black silhouettes of individual birds in a herd. There is definitely something raw about this piece, which portrays a bizarre world with no source of light nor gravity. The mood is overpowering and depressing, perhaps overwhelmed by dirty browns and broken yellows. My painting echoes achievements of strange yet famous Munich grave painters, who limited their palette to the use of dirty colours and broken chroma. This was the main discovery of and I have decided to refer to their learning on the composition on my experimental composition.

Initially, I collaged a self portrait into the painterly space. I have carefully chosen this photo to make sure that it was personal Ly significant. Subsequently, I immersed myself in the creation of an arrangement, which contained energy and drama. Through scraping, glazing and overlaying, I managed to increase the element of a secret atmosphere, mood and, therefore, forced a reflection on a viewer.

The sipping light through the colour layers will later become subdued. I will use an overall glaze of a mixture of crimson Alizarin and Prussian blue. I will also consider using an oil based coat in order to ensure that there is an appropriate translucency and depth of the overlaying colour.

The final stage will be concerned with scrapping of the glaze and, perhaps, imprinting further textures into the existing layers to reveal a mysterious illusions of secrets underneath.

Ravens and Crows Will Peck Us to Pieces – Video Progress

As a part of the process of development of my painting, I have decided to sidetrack it and experiment with digital possibilities and ideas. Yesterday, I devoted my time to drawing crows from observation using a pencil and paper. Subsequently, I moved on and transferred my source sketches onto the canvas using rough black marker pens. The next step was to consider a balanced and rhythmic composition. My creative intention was to achieve a sense of being overwhelmed and taken over by a herd of terrifying black birds. I started to increase the density of drawings, initially with small repetitive silhouettes and gradually increasing their sizes and numbers. My animation begins with a scan of a photograph of me. I have chosen this image carefully. It represents a personally significant moment of my life. In steps, it is replaced by some of my sketches, and than, moderately transforms itself into a black screen. This has some resemblance to the current crisis. It all started with just one mutation, which in turn has expanded enormously to create a global pandemic.

Crows and the use of black are of a metaphorical importance here. They symbolise emptiness, vacuum and nothing, but destruction and death.

I purposefully repeated this sequence and reversed its speed and direction. It grows and withers, reducing itself to a dead screen. This process is looped in order to create a feeling of entrapment and bizarre predictability. We all know, what is going to happen . The cycle has now been thoroughly researched and explored. The meaning of the world is created by a clash of the opposites and juxtaposition of contradictions. Life cannot be just one-sided. Life and death, growth and decline, light and darkness.

At this stage, the overall tonation of my painting is kept in ochre and dirty yellowish greens. In consequence to my digital experimentation, I plan to increase the amount of bright yellowish stains and bleeding patches, in order to over-glaze the entire surface with a deep wash of Alizarin and Prussian Blue. The aim is to enrich the depth of colour to enhance its impact on a viewer. Perhaps, removing parts of the over-layer will allow me to reveal some key elements of the space underneath.

Feedback from Leo and Fleur

I have asked two of my Foundation students to provide me with further feedback. Their key comments are summarised below.

  • There is an interesting dynamic of placing myself as a lens of a camera inside of a machine, which represents cycle
  • Focus on a relationship between ‘me’ and the nature of my work – interaction with references to monotony
  • It is very relevant to the key events of the Corona virus crisis – combination and juxtaposition of chaos and moments of stillness
  • It is necessary to keep the entire cycle in the video to express my creative intention of waiting
  • Consider using a real washing machine as a working object and experimenting with different cycles and programmes.
  • There is a good level of demanding the patience and feeling of entrapment.
  • Leo really enjoyed watching the entire experience, from start to finish, despite understanding how a washing machine works.
  • It is not just about painting – the focus is on the whole experience.
  • Watching the machine work from the inside has shifted the perspective totally and created the division between the inside and the outside.
  • There is a great relevance on the context of the pandemic through the purpose on the metaphorical meaning of cleaning.
  • It is about putting your own meaningful artwork through this process and getting it transformed into something new without having any control over how it will develop.
  • Both, the video and the audio provide appropriate contextualisation.

Ravens and Crows Will Peck Us to Pieces

During my exercise yesterday, I managed to take this disturbing photograph. On the one hand, it reminded me of my primary source for Three Burmese Monks piece. On the other, the black crows drew references to a novel by a Polish writer Stefan Zeromski.

Ravens and Crows Will Peck Us to Pieces – is a relatively short book by a literature Nobel Price winner . It consists of three parts and has references to the atrocities of the partitions of Poland between Germany, Russia and Austria. These birds have also other common connotations. It is usually believed that that the crow is a symbol of bad luck and death. I am not superstitious, but this seen has terrified me.

Subsequently, I have developed an idea of using the crows as an overprinted pattern on my next piece. The idea is to compose a twin image to Three Burmese Monks and use our current pandemic predicament to create a painting about myself, while responding to the broader contexts of the crisis. I am waiting while working in isolation in front of my window.

Optimistically attempting to contradict Zeromski while waiting in a hope that ravens and crows will not peck us to pieces!