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.
After much consideration, I have refined my 5-minute video. This final version was developed further in response to suggestions, which were discussed during today’s meeting. It covers a holistic appraisal of the meaning and messages, I have attempted to communicate during my research, experimentation and visualisation. The running commentary is purposefully interrupted by the sounds of the cutting of the canvas and the rumbling of the washing machine. My creative intentions are to manufacture a powerful impact on the viewers and make them struggle, while interpreting, understanding and digesting the voice of the automated narrator in the background. The Masquerade clown like character at the end of the video, reports on his observations of this world as an alien and an outsider would, detached and unemotional. Therefore, his commentary seems more poignant and unbiased, drawing attention to our own flaws and weaknesses, when confronted with the unfamiliar. The computer generated voice reinforces the authenticity of the dialogue by removing the human element and dimension.
I will continue to update this collection of work as some key pieces are still missing.
This has also given me ideas of how I would like to present my work during the final show. I have exchanged correspondence with Aristotle and uploaded work files into my space on the shared google drive.
I am really looking forward to seeing the work being presented in this simple yet clear and aesthetic format.
All images are of identical height. They are equally spaced, probably further apart than on my rough design. The 7 central pieces are videos (the above design displays only 5) and my paintings on both sides. The order of my work may be adjusted.
The work on the left represents some initial research and experimentation. The pieces on the right are the most recent. Therefore, there is a sense of chronological progression throughout. The idea is to echo my journey, experiences and findings. Ideally, it would be great to be able to click on each piece to enlarge it.
I am also planning to support each piece with an explanation using either a sound recording or text.
The sequence of my work files is: 7 paintings – 7 videos – 5 paintings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tumbling around with my thoughts – lockdown in a dark and claustrophobic chamber of an expanding pandemic – waiting for the end!
The aim of this post is to present my work in progress in order to methodically review my practice, refine my thinking and creative intentions. It is essential for me to reflect on how my visual investigation has developed, altered and evolved, especially in response to today’s global crisis.
The above video draws a parallel to the current global crisis. Isolation and fear are overwhelming. However, The Pianist had his resource, his instrument. He was afraid to touch it and play music. My situation is contradictory – I have a lot of time in loneliness, but cant access my work and studio. Everything appears to by suspended in waiting for the return to my former hypnotic repetition of daily routines and distractions!
My project continues to change with a degree of unexpected persistency and without unnecessary overreliance on resources. The above video clip reinforces that what really matters is the act of creation; whatever the circumstances.
My role as an artist is to comment on and respond to an ever-changing, dynamic and turbulent environment.
Therefore, my principal function is to observe the world with great sensitivity and translate my research findings into art, which communicates my thinking and reflections.
My work, in turn, acts as a beacon, pointing out at new possibilities of how to understand, digest and embrace the world!
I need to accept that my initial project ideas have been altered, distorted and, perhaps, contradicted in the light of the current, brutal and rapidly progressing events.
This is my recent attempt to respond to the current situation. My project has redefined itself a number of times during a very long and turbulent journey through 9 countries. My observations and reflections have substantially changed their focus.
My initial interests were firmly placed on the uncertainties of tomorrow. The context for my investigation was mainly related to a range of economic disadvantages of people in the countries, which I visited. I was both: fascinated and terrified to learn how they deal with their daily lives. How inventive and creative they must become in order to survive.
Subsequently, I realised that everyone is waiting for a new pivotal occurrence. Something important to happen and bring about a significant and positive change. One way of dealing with this lengthy, stagnant and monotonous process is to get subjected by the conditioning of a hypnotic repetition.
My visual exploration of workers, who were suspended in the vacuum of that process, followed. I become intrigued by creating painterly responses based on analysis workers in Asia. This has allowed me to produce some of my recent and key achievements:
2. The Wheel of Fortune Seller
3. Three Burmese Monks
My video of the washing cycle of The Wheel of Fortune Seller is broken down into a number of independent parts. Each one is intended to be to have a separate meaning and be a metaphorical parallel to a chapter in life; from the start to the end:
Introduction of a middle-aged man with a face mask holding a Stanley knife. This scene is full of anticipation and automatic questioning: Who is he? What are his intentions? What is going to happen next? Are his intentions sinister?
Engagement of a background sound recording. This is a repetitive voice of an Asian female. It is difficult to understand and decipher. Her broken accent becomes much more clear with time. Her messages contextualise the scene.
Cutting the painting out and the shaking off. What is the intention? The voice starts slowly to become annoying. The shaking off is metaphorical for causing a loss of something and undergoing or suffering from a misfortune. My creative intention is to communicate how special and significant is the current pandemic situation in all broader contexts.
Magic of loading the washing machine. The painting appears to fly into the drum on its own. There is something theatrical, unreal and intriguing about this. It appears to be a bizarre ballet, a performance in the surroundings of a dirty corner – full of stains and clutter; in front of a red fire extinguisher, which symbolises a state of predicted and unavoidable emergency.
Washing – mundane and foreseeable. This part, coupled with a lengthy spinning cycle, is designed to test the patience. A new thought is born in my mind – when will this finish? Here again, this is a current question of primary importance and substance – perhaps on everyone’s mind (sic!)
Unloading. The female voice comes back. Something is finalised, concluded, yet the ‘old’ is reborn and reformed. It comes back like a haunting ghost from the past.
Final shake. It is intended to agitate – to get rid off what is there. The old is removed and no longer desired. The Wheel of Fortune Seller is erased from the surface of the painting. The old memories are gone. Let’s hope, the real person behind the primary source character has a new and better life to enjoy and celebrate.
My intention was to create an almost religious and spiritual connotation.
Ultimately, the washed canvas will be stitched back onto the original stretcher. This refers to and implies a cyclic quality of life and its all events.
I have asked a group of my Foundation students to watch my Bye Bye Three Monks video. My intention was to receive some constructive feedback from my own learners. I projected the 6minutes and 47 seconds long film on a large screen in the base studio. There was a group of 15 learners available for this experiment.
The key points, which were risen during a plenary session are as follows:
I was waiting for something to happen and felt quite sleepy.
The video was relaxing and hypnotic; calming.
There was a sense of transformation from frustration to relaxation.
Some students felt quite exhausted after watching the vireo, while others found it relaxing and smoothing.
There was a little uncertainty as nothing was happening – concussion regarding the meaning of the piece.
Supporting sound, especially ‘Hugo, Hugo’, adds an element of pace into it.
The film is too long – after a minute, it may become uninteresting. However, later, it becomes enjoyable again.
This feedback has reinforced me in thinking that the video work well and communicates my ideas with sophistication. I may need, however, to support my work with a form of a postcard with appropriate text explaining the context of my investigation. I have used this idea during my most recent exhibition at Art 23 in London and received very positive feedback.
I have made some real progress today. I set up a video recording session of the washing of the Three Burmese Monks piece. Everything was arranged in the print room. As the DLSR run out of power, I had to result to using my iPhone XSMax with a tripod.
Following a discussion of details included in my storyboard, Georgie, our technician, agreed to help with the washing performance.
My picture frame was purposely wanky and crocked. I wanted to include a glimpse of a fire extinguisher and PVC pipes in the view. I also thought that bleeding stains on dirty floor make a valuable contribution to the overall impact of captured images, their meaning and the recording.
The raw footage is relatively long and full of accidental disruptions. They will all need to be edited out in order to create a cohesive video piece. The details of my plan will emerge soon, and continue to evolve and grow.
I enclose the final washed up image of the Three Burmese Monks piece and some raw and culminate footage below: