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.


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.


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.


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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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.

Bruce Nauman: BBC 1 DVD

(Imagine:Bruce Nauman; The God Father of Modern art, 2004)

-At vast turbine Hall – Sound art – coming from 20 pairs of loud speakers: Using greetings, jokes, statements etc. -emotions.

-Always doing the unexpected.

-Turning the ideas of art upside down quite literally (video – pioneer)

-Never painted, infact used almost every other medium around painting.

-1980’s: Sexually explicit signs

-Recently filmed what had happened with his studio once he had gone to bed (nothing much)

-What art can be? Anything could be art?

-“Enigmatic and reclusive giant of the contempory art world” – Alan Yentob

-“Allows you to play with anything, anything could be art” – Daimen Hirst

-Controdictory and yet surpprising.

-Hardly ever goes to interviews or explains his work.

-Wark – 1994: Conventing a group of sounds into once space.


-Assembling groups of videos into one video.

-Uses his body throughout: “Treat your body like an object, give it tasks” – Bruce Nauman

“Making negative space into something positive so that you become aware of it” – Michael Craigmartin

“Commununication not advertisement” – Robert Storr

-Minimal intervention

“How can an everyday activity be transformed into art?” – Yentob (repetition)


How tension is created from this? – Tiredness – not so much a story but an activity of reaction – passage of time.

-Language + physical – altering of perception – recurring themes and scary consequences.

-Making the viewer almost take the artists place

“More orless experience what I did, dictating what a piece can be” – Bruce Nauman


-Didnt essentially want viewers to have too many of their own thoughts.

This dvd has helped me to not only distinguish areas within the artists work to use in my essay for in relation to distortion but to also re-consider how I manipulate my own work and lay it out for an audience.

Breakdowning proposal


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.



Considering areas to write within for proposal

-Possible areas = key designers, artists, theorists, case studies

-Considering possible questions/angle of investigation

-Key words which are strongly associated with the topic

(2,500-4000 word essay)

-What is it I am investigating? – include key concepts

-Why am I interested in my chosen topic?

-Background reading

-Conceptual research – inform your ideas?