James Richards; ‘Radio at Night’

Richards work also has this force which resists completion through it’s constant usage of manipulation. This is a point which is going through my head all the time currently, I never feel like my works are necessarily separate series or complete as one – they feel ongoing – constantly developing and building from one another. Reading on much of Richards films, I’m realising nothing needs to be identified as ‘finished’ as such but growing, changing, enhancing etc. They can have separate titles or the same, have different elements but still connect or even use old footage and be turned into something ‘new’ and the fact remains of you as the artist having full control and confidence in what your art is speaking or being read as.

In his piece ‘Radio at Night’ (2015), the artist speaks about this grapple between anxiety and pleasure of seeing in an era which saturated by technology. This idea that we as the audience are continuing to build and create such astonishing things but at the same time, polluting and destroying the world. Images which demonstrate animals being processed and news forecasts are amongst some of the footage within the film and continue to play up on the negative aspects of the world we live in. Close ups of the artist’s face become quite prominent throughout the film and makes the work that bit more powerful. Highlighting the negatives and triggers of my health, is a constant thing for me and like Richard’s it’s important for me to show not everything is as it seems. You can perceive something one way but beneath there are multiple layers.

Richards most recognisable effects in the footage are the looping and distorting of the imagery. He is also inspired by a film maker called Derek Jarman – his biggest influences are with the film makers inverting colour palettes and collaged techniques. Using parts of the face as a domineering feature in my collage videos like Richards has in this video, seems to create a focal point. Richards also continues to embrace sound as a complex force that may govern the behaviour of an image and in this 8 minute video, a spectral meditation on the human figure as a space of sensual integration emerges.

The inverting qualities made me feel like I was being nosey and invasive for some reason. Like I shouldn’t be looking or like somethings possibly hidden. The inversions give a sense of animosity and a loss of clothing. I just want to dig deeper and know more!

Some of the images remind me of mechanical structures and create a sense of tension and tightness. I feel like somethings being destroyed and/or coming to an end. The more zoomed in the image seems to play apart on these thoughts also. I like this idea of having focal points which force the viewers attention and create reaction and opinions.

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The negatives and positives of suffering with mental health; Sleep Paralysis & Schizophrenia

Making my Dissertation around the subject of mental health became very helpful and insightful for my ongoing practice and a point which seemed to keep being reinforced was how the effects of mental health are seen and used as a positive thing.

More so in first year when the incidents became most effective and prominent, I dismissed the condition and looked at it negatively but also ignorantly. During second year I saw myself struggling to cope and had to seek help from a Doctor. The thought of doing this year wouldn’t have even crossed my mind but here I was. I cringe even thinking about medication for some reason even though it’s not been long now from the last time I was on it. I guess I’ve always seen myself as someone who doesn’t need anything and it almost felt like I was giving into being weak by taking it.

My dissertation looked primarily at the mental health conditions of Sleep Paralysis and Schizophrenia;

*“Research confirms a link between schizotypy and creative achievement. In particular, ‘positive’ schizotypal traits such as unusual perceptual experiences and magical beliefs tend to be elevated in artists” (Kaufman, S. 2011, p.1).

*“Munch’s creation of the famous ‘The Scream’ used healthy mental processes”, “Visual hallucinations such as Munch’s commonly occur in psychotic illnesses, but healthy creative processes are necessary to transform them into art” (Rothenberg, A, 2015, p.4).

*Positive Hallucination; Seeing or hearing something that is not there in reality (this is most commonly experienced in the visual or auditory senses but could arguably apply to feelings, taste and smell as well)” (Gale, H. 2015).

*“It is too easy to react negatively when the term ‘disorder’ is used, in any context. Dalí and his contribution to the history of art is a perfect example for highlighting the fact that abnormality is not necessarily disagreeable – or to be so readily dismissed as a sign of neurological disease. For without his instability, Dalí may not have created the great art that he did” (Dr Shock, 2009).

As much as it’s been a struggle, I’ve learnt how to deal mostly with the condition and I’m not convinced my art would feel as personal or real without it. My works taken to a dark, slightly sinister feel more progressively with age and I have felt myself struggling in the past with getting up and feeling a general bit of loss of sanity ‘haha’. But the sounds, visions, sensations and so fourth presented from my condition have became a part of who I am and I’m learning to use this to my advantage and build up on this the more I’m learning and getting from it.

Magical thoughts/beliefs, hallucinations/visuals have been confirmed by many as healthy mental processes ^ and as much as they have been the most confusing, realistic and sometimes haunting things, they’ve weirdly been the most exciting and stimulating experiences I’ve had. There’s this constant crossover barrier – There’s an obvious amount of negativity when it comes to a big Sleep Paralysis sufferer but my art’s been the best spokes person and general outlet for my condition.

PDP

 

Throughout the course of third year at Cardiff Metropolitan University, I have developed a greater understanding in a range of disciplines. In a previous essay I had to write, I investigated the theory of ‘Distortion’, this was for my initial Dissertation proposal. Subheadings for the theory such as ‘layering, blurring and collaging’, became important factors in the moulding of the proposal but it has to be said that although the subject was intriguing and worked well in certain capacities, when it came to relating to my Mental Health of Sleep Paralysis, it felt too broad and that perhaps the reader could become confused. I did gain some interesting knowledge on the Photographer William Klein however; his exploration into the ‘blurred image’ and ‘fast motion’ imagery, were both fascinating subjects for me to read about.  As my subject work explores the matter of Sleep Paralysis I am interested in those moments upon when one is awakening and falling asleep. These stages where one is paralysed but can feel weird sensations, disorientation, suffocation etc. and Klein’s blurred photography were great inspirations in the later process for me to feel confident in pushing boundaries and expand my experimental side.

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In previous lectures I was fascinated by the topics of Medium and differential specificities. We investigated into objects and their secondary sources, for example; the relationship between the T.V. programme and their secondary sources. Within these lectures, what became the highlight for me was investigating the differential specificities of the medium – so this could be argued as the eye, the mind, the hand, implement, marks made etc. Medium specificity is a crucial component in which to reflect upon for the true understanding and success of your practice. If there were no specificities, there’d be no clear substance or maybe even concept. Medium specificity is the case of fundamentally finding out what you see as the medium. I also loved researching into some theorist’s points on how abstract art has become this individual, fluidity and dimension.

Clement Greenberg, 1909 –

Where the Old Masters created an illusion of space into which one could imagine walking, the illusion created by a Modernist is one into which one can look, can travel through, only with the eye.”

I feel strongly that if I didn’t have these types of lectures, I wouldn’t be as open minded to how diverse and experimental we can be as Fine artists. It’s given me confidence and took me down avenues, exploring mediums, ideas and concepts I’d never have even thought of beforehand.

This leads me onto the astonishing lectures I had from the artist Annabelle Craven-Jones. A selected bunch of students attended her Friday lectures and we began to learn about technology and the boundaries within technology.

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The main subjects which stood out for me were investigating ‘broadcasting’ and the boundaries of ‘consent’. Annabelle explained how in one of her exhibitions, she had a live broadcasting feed for the audience to unexpectedly see as they entered the exhibit. Anabelle went onto explaining that it took a lot of discussion and organising to allow this to happen. The artist almost thrived off the fact of this though, it was this element of what is consent? – We discussed how interesting it is that there are constant CCTV cameras watching us and although this is for our safety, it still feeds into personal boundaries. This made me think about how I could explore ‘consent’ in my own practice, I went onto asking individuals about their own disturbed thoughts and sleeping issues. I recorded people without them knowing but did let them know after, I felt if it was a more planned experiment, people would think far too much into it and most likely react differently. It was so overwhelming to witness people’s responses and simply how different they all were to one another as well as how different individual’s reacted to knowing they were being recorded afterwards, I guess it was all part of the exciting process. I have to thank Annabelle a great deal for her great impact on my own artistic practice and how much more my mind is open to exploring endless routes within my work.

This even led me onto putting a sound pieces together, merging the recordings with other sound recordings which were stimulated from everyday noises. Any type of odd sound or resonating conversation I hear throughout the day which stick with me and remind me of my moments within my sleep paralysis where I get confused my odd conversations of piercing noises. I titled this piece ‘Distorted Consent’ and I feel it work extremely well in balancing a contrast between my research from Annabelle’s lectures and my own mental health explorations.

https://youtu.be/9w201kp3Omg (YouTube link to ‘Distorted Consent’)

 

A lecture audio I listened to on a PHD Student who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia; Emma Sithole, really opened my eyes during Christmas. She explained;

“Everything hurts like my whole body”, “voices telling me; you’re worthless”, “I nearly hurt my mum and I love my mum”

It made me realise how much Schizophrenia can feed into Sleep Paralysis and how impactful they can be on the individual dealing with the illnesses. Both illnesses have this uncontrollable hold on its taker. This led me onto confirming that my Dissertation would definitely be about my mental health in relation to artists and other individuals and how it can be expressed in somewhat way in art. This only seemed to make sense really, having prior knowledge, passion and exploration into the subject.

I have to also say that initial workshops and lectures and in the creation of my Dissertation, that I have felt that much more confident in perusing my artistic stance. I have been accepted for my own exhibition as well as becoming part of Arcade Cardiff invigilation team and being involved in a few group exhibitions. My field developments have continued to grow and I’m feeling more and more prepared each day in the build up to my end of year exhibition. I’ve been so happy to have been able to connect my Dissertation with both Field and Subject and in doing this, I have been able to grow and gain the confidence I need ready for the world outside of art school.

Confusion ARTEFACT

This video corresponds with my Dissertation and although I won’t be using the majority of these shots in my exhibition, this is one of the more up to date videos I’ve made with how I want my videos to appear. My Dissertation focuses around the subjects of Sleep Paralysis and Schizophrenia and has actually helped my artist progression tremendously!

I’ve learnt how much a good contrast between layering, single shots and having a diverse range in shots matters. Instead of every visual being just of the ‘sufferer’, I have came to learn how important exploiting thoughts and visions of feelings, distress and sensations are. And in doing this the outcome immerses you into this feeling of confusion and as if you are experiencing the artists experience.

Group meeting: Dissertation prep

In this first meeting back I was able to ask some much needed questions in the build up to getting to grips with my Dissertation.

Question options; ??

How imagery is reflected through my practise?

How distortion is reflected through photography in relation to my fine art practise?

-Trying to consider how distortion is perceived through the copy of an image?

-Understanding how other artists use the theory of distortion in the work with imagery?

-How does my work relate to the theory? How do I use the theory in my practise? How does my work counter act and relate to other artists work around the theory? Theorists/essay writers/authors who write about distortion/the manipulated image?

<Summarise whats being said…

-Writing for the person who doesn’t know anything….Setting the scene for the ‘intelligent person’ who doesn’t know.

-Listing artists and selecting the ones with the strongest connections and understandings.

-After around first 3,000ish (which is setting out topic/enquiring) – START answering.

How is the question perceived? – In relation to at the start maybe? – variations of the subject.

-Challenge orthodox representation.

-Not looking for a singular answer – looking at views/questions. – There are many different perspectives on distortion – artists, authors who have their own ideas on the theory!

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PDP

In the development of my constellation artistic practise I have really enabled myself to let loose and delve deeper into the understanding of my own work in relation to the building up of my lectures and the continuing processes I’ve continued with since.

The lectures gave me the confidence to consider new words and concepts I never thought I’d even consider before. The lectures entailed an effective case study around the artist called Jessica Stockholder ‘Garbage pails and giddy Cunning: medium & Differential Specificity’ – Where we as a class attempted to unpack and understand the topics medium and differential specificities. For example, by using Stockholder’s installation as an understanding; we were working towards using this idea of a play on with words by possibly specifying identity through a relationship between the T.V. programme and it’s secondary sources. By looking at boundaries and form in particular and whether the materiality and the dimensions of the installation actually have any boundaries Stockholder’s installation was then able to depict the general specificties more appropriately.

Specificity: Each piece of art does something specific. No piece of art is the same.

I found these lectures pretty challenging at times but as time went on I found myself getting to grips with what these specifities stand for and how they actually really help to unpack ones understanding of a subject in a more thorough manner. The medium specificties helped one to consider what the materials are used for; artwork/sources researched to develop – make the work have an understanding. Critical understanding – The artist themselves e.g. could be a performance piece. – Experience – documenting places you’ve been – languages/ideas. And then the differential specificties of ones work would be the questioning of the substance behind ones work and the understanding of the work being illustrated. – How is the work explained/defined? Is it a stable definition? – loop holes?…

Once I came to the end of these classes I found myself overwhelmed but truly inspired! I was slightly anxious to use these definitions for my proposal but felt I had gained too much knowledge to not at least give it ago. In the previous essay I was really happy with the feedback but was told areas could have been touched on more. After reading back on my essay now, I still feel as if I’ve maybe still not gone into enough depth in areas but maybe what I need now is to be pushed to which areas are actually more worth running with.

Distortion is the topic I’ve ran with and been running with a good while now and I feel a growing connection to as it’s the main substance and core to my personal artistic practise. – Distortion is the act of altering something of its original or true state. It could also be defined as the changing, manipulating or transforming in a way, which creates some form of unclearness. Another reason for choosing this as the theory to run my proposal around is was as I’ve been directing the theory to my sleeping disorder.- Sleep Paralysis which is a condition which affects the subconscious mind, most often when one is falling into or out of a deep sleep. Your mind is aware to an extent but the rest of you can take up to a few minutes to react. Distortion has been altering my sleep in many cases and creating disorientation, blurring and so forth and as an outcome creates confusion and discomfort. I’ve gone onto really reinforcing these issues within the proposal in relation to other artists work.

Using subheadings such as collaging, blurring, and deforming, I’ve been able to delve deeper into how artists understand the theory of distortion. It’s been a massive help in the fact of just learning how each artist understands the theory and use it to relate within their works. As happy as I am with the build of certain areas within the proposal, I still feel like I could maybe of expanded areas and even researched further into sleep paralysis to get to grips with comparing how my work goes against or relates to the other artists work.

I have also gone onto using a couple of theorists named Louis Althusser and Clement Greenberg. Althusser made a strong argument which explained basically needing the conceptualisation or text/explanation of the artists work to get a true understanding of the art. So adding that he may argue for one to really define why I’ve chosen distortion as a theory and considering the ‘differential’ specificities has made an interesting debate within my proposal to how we as artists see our own work. Greenberg looks more into the medium specificties and considering the theory of what actually do we as artists see as the medium when creating our art. I was able to consider maybe my mind being the medium as in theory it is the original route to the ongoing creations of my practice.

I do worry that I ramble on sometimes and maybe when I do find a relatively strong quote as such, I lose the substance and go off track. At this point I do feel it’s the best time to venture into different areas to be able to find out where I need to focus in the build up to the dissertation.

Bruce Nauman’s weird installations and video work have lately help me to open up a new door within my art and find many pointers for within the proposal. Considering the many ways you can look at the theory of distortion just pushes new possibilities and I hope to keep reading and developing my practise to a point ready for assessment.

Breakdowning proposal

Introduction:

What is Distortion?

How do I wish to discuss this topic within relation to my own practise? – How I wish to break the heading into subheadings: such as layering, blurring, deforming. – Artists in relation and how their work’s relate to the theories. – Is there a main aspect of something within their work which demonstrates the theories effectively?

How medium and differential specificties come into play? – What do these specificties mean? – What are they within the theories/theorists/artists explainings-

  • Understanding distortion, not only through the sub-headings but through specificties also.