Collection: Part 1

Reflection

11/09/2017

The first day at Archway was simultaneously a daunting yet exciting experience, and while it dispelled some anticipation it served to only enhance anticipation of what is to come throughout the next year. The day was filled with important notices and information which allowed me to familiarise with timetables, Moodle and, most importantly, Workflow and documentation of work. This helped me to feel more prepared for the future amid the confusing first couple of weeks of the course.

For the first project we were divided into small groups and given three words to initiate research. This included an '-ism', a material and a process, mine being:

  • Futurism
  • Ice
  • Hide

Upon first inspection of these words, me and my group were unsure of their relationship to one another, yet as we discussed and brainstormed ideas the links between them became clear. Whilst we used the internet as a tool for quick research into Futurism, we largely spoke of personal experiences and associations to the words, leading to more abstract conceptual ideas as to how they connect. Some ideas included the link between the geometric formations of ice and the geometric qualities of modern structures, ice as a physical/visual representation of the past and how this contrasts the future, and also the emotional fragility of hiding in modern life and the fragility of ice itself. From this I learnt how valuable personal responses are to inform and initiate different strands of research.

We then were given a quick visualisation drawing task where we were asked to create designs/concepts for buildings that linked to our three words (either in how it looked or the function of the building itself). I found that working so quickly to produce concepts was quite challenging as it required me to think of ideas in a short space of time and meant I could only document the most important visual aspects of the buildings. Yet the pressure of time was useful as it forced me to present ideas that I may otherwise have doubted, meaning I could be more creative and abstract. Next time I would try to overcome the initial hesitation during the task which caused me to waste time I could have otherwise used to produce more concepts. 

The plan for the next session is to continue to research the words more closely using multiple outlets and resources for our research, incorporating books/journals from the library.

 

 

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12/09/2017

Today me and my group engaged in research using books/ journals in the library in order to closely investigate our '-ism', material and process, focusing on each word individually. Initially this was a challenging task, as researching each word individually proved to only lead to vast and vague strands of information, seemingly lacking any sort of connection. Yet, as me and my group continued to read and collect books across the library, we came to realise that the words not only interlinked and bounced off of one another, but also sparked exciting ideas and concepts. These concepts included the idea of modern surveillance and the inability to 'hide' due to invasive modern technology, and also the fears surrounding advances in technology and how ice can reflect this as a material.

Using library resources, I particularly focused on finding out more about my material (Ice), and found interesting ideas about the deep associations and reliance of humans on ice and the prospect of our future impact on the environment. In addition, my research triggered thoughts about the way in which ice transforms, subject to the environment, to water/steam and how this can reflect humankind and 'hidden' appearances. 

Throughout today I also familiarised myself with the library as an essential research tool in addition to the internet, aiding my understanding of the alternative methods of researching. However, trying to find books relating to our process, 'hide', proved difficult as upon searching this word not many books came up. Perhaps we should have searched up other words relating to hide rather than the actual word to combat this issue. I plan on doing this tomorrow when I further my research.

During our research we started to bounce back and forth with ideas that could link and express our three words in a visual form. Initial ideas included that of an installation piece using light cast onto large icicle formations, which would emphasise their glass-like, transparent quality and cast shadows to obscure the viewers perception of the space. This links to the glass structures of the urban city, expressing the hidden mystery presented by the modern world. We also discussed the possibility of a garment, which would play off of the geometric formations of ice, creating shapes to hide and obscure the body in ways that would reflect the cubist style of Futurist works. We plan on discussing more ideas tomorrow after researching more thoroughly. 

As a group we worked well at dividing up the task, yet more communication is needed in order for more ideas to be generated. Next time we will come together and discuss our individual aspects of research for a longer period of time to cohesively compile our thoughts. We also need to focus more closely on our process word, which seems to be the most difficult to find research materials for.

In preparation for tomorrow I will research more into the ideas behind Futurism and also any artists of interest that can provide inspiration. I will also brainstorm ideas relating to 'hide'.

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13/09/2017

In continuation of the library research, me and my group focused on gathering information to aid our idea development. Specifically, we focused on the process 'hide' as this presented the most difficulty when finding research materials and books in the library. While originally it was challenging, we came to the conclusion that searching up associations to the word 'hide' may be more useful when refining our search and finding research materials, and we instead searched words such as 'camouflage', 'shadow' and 'mask'. Through this I learnt the necessity of more abstract thinking when approaching research, and I also found that my research became a lot more interesting and complex as a result. Searching up such words led me down different avenues of thought, for instance 'mask' made me think about disguise and the idea that 'not everything is as it seems' within society. Furthermore, 'shadow' made me think about obscurity, and I began to think of concepts that incorporated the projection of light onto ice to create shadows to 'hide' areas from the eye.

This research then sparked more thorough conversations around ideas and concepts to bring all of our words together. Through the more abstract strands of research we were able to formulate more abstract ideas, thus making it more exciting and rewarding for all group members. One idea included that of weaving into paper using wool to represent an iceberg, which when rotated would reveal a man's face thus expressing the idea of illusion and concealment in association to 'hiding'. We then thought about taking this a stage further as a large-scale installation, in which the viewer could walk among large ,futuristic metal wire structures that would present the same idea. Throughout the day I learnt the importance of pushing ideas past their conceptual limits, in regards to this project, to reach more creative and impactful outcomes. 

Although initially it was difficult to bring all of the words together, we came to realise their connections are all very relevant within modern life and, particularly, our own personal experiences. Therefore, by the end of our session, we were able to generate multiple potential ideas for concepts.

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14/09/2017 - 15/09/2017

I have been developing my ideas in response to the brief given on Thursday, where I have to  create 5 ideas associated to my words and relating to:

  • Creating a concept for an animal
  • A concept easy to make
  • A concept out of budget
  • Something impossible
  • Anything 

Although I missed the crit session on Thursday, I have continued to expand on my ideas and thoughts that I have gained from the group work earlier in the week. Despite it being out of my control, missing the group crit session meant I lacked the feedback from my peers which would have been valuable for my process and reflection. However, it has taught me to be more self-reflective on my ideas, constantly questioning my work as I go. This is helping me to become more critical of my work and think about which idea is the most successful and impactful to develop into a final project proposal. 

Since the last group session at the library I have continued to research individually, specifically in relation to artists whom work with ice, which has provided visual inspiration that has supported my sketches. As this project has progressed I have become more involved in drawing to help visualise my ideas, rather than focusing so heavily on notes, despite them still being of use. Upon constant reflection I feel that working large scale works best with my material and process because this best presents the enormity of ice structures themselves. Also, I want to convey the impressive quality of icy landscapes and feel that this would work best on a large scale. This means I will be developing on my installation ideas for a potential project proposal. 

I next plan on developing my final idea in depth from the many ideas I have accumulated along the week. My aim for my final idea is to incite a realisation within the viewer towards the state of modern society; I seek to encourage a higher sense of consciousness amid the human destruction of our environment and ourselves. This builds on my research surrounding futurism and surveillance, and I seek to make links to how this is not only destructive on ourselves but also on our environment.

 

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Final Idea (Ideas Factory)

I reflected on my previous design idea sketches and developed the idea I felt would work best. I decided to expand on my installation idea,  not only as the size is able to convey an impactful message, but also because of the ways the viewer could interact with the piece which would encourage a realisation within them. 

The idea is for a large installation of an iceberg structure, made from fragmented shards of glass, which on the surface appears as ice but beneath is made up of machine parts and circuit boards, lit from within. The iceberg is suspended from the ceiling and can be viewed on two levels; the 'surface' level and the 'hidden' level by having two viewing platforms. This plays off of the notion of the 'tip of the iceberg' being the only thing visible to the eye, highlighting the hidden destruction between humans and nature and also the hidden control of technology within the modern world. However, by allowing the viewer to see beneath the 'surface' I am trying to incite a realisation and a greater sense of consciousness within them, as they are able to see what is 'hidden' in everyday life. The use of glass and metal, and geometric shapes, gives futuristic contrast to the natural beauty of the iceberg, making the viewer question the future of man's influence on the planet and the future of technology itself. 

I created final sketches and detailed notes on the ideas behind the piece. In some ways, due to the very ambitious nature of my idea, it was difficult to visualise the piece. Yet I was able to overcome this challenge by researching visualisation materials and taking pictures of the inside of machines which I could use when sketching. It is important to note that this idea links to the brief of creating something 'out of budget and impossible to create' meaning I acknowledge it would be a difficult idea to construct. 

In comparison to working in a group, I feel that working individually has allowed me to follow the medium I feel works best to convey my three words. However, the conflict of interest that sometimes arises in group work is important, as it means more critical thinking occurs in relation to the ideas. Next time I will try to have more peer feedback to help me with my process.

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18/09/17 - Collection Project Day 1

As part of the first day on the Fine Art rotation we were introduced to our project for the week, which is centred around 'Collection'. I found the concept of collection very intriguing, as I see the process of collection as something that reveals what we value and what we consider important, making it a very personal process.

We began with forming a group collection centred around our keys, where the whole group came together and thought of ways of arranging and organising the keys to present different forms of information to the viewer. We arranged the keys by making associations, for instance, categorising the keys according to the amount of keys in a set. We then thought of the importance of placement and layout in presenting the information, realising that separating the keys equal distances apart made it much more visually pleasing and easy to process. What I found most interesting when looking at the collection of keys was the insight I gained into the person behind each of the keys, for example I noticed only one set had a car key, giving the impression that most of the collection belonged to younger people. I was able to learnt through this exercise the different ways to approach presenting a collection, which is equally as important as the content of the collection itself.

We then completed two short exercises where we created collections related to the human body and the space around us. I created quick sketches to visually present a collection of hairstyles from other people in the room, as I was particularly interested in the way people's hairstyles were a from of personal expression directly connected to the body. I then focused on collecting textures from the space around me as I found the room to be full of interesting surfaces. These surfaces were interesting to me because they enhanced a very plain and ordinary space into a more exciting sensory experience. I found the quick pace of the exercise quite challenging as it meant I had to formulate and document ideas quickly, however it also meant I was able to think creatively and work spontaneously with ideas.

Following on we were sent to curate collections from outside around Archway. Me and my group went to the local park, documenting collections through photographs while also physically collecting items to form collections. I developed a series of collections, including:

  • Autumn leaves
  • Rocks
  • Graffiti

I initially found the task quite challenging, as when looking at my surroundings I found the options of what to collect quite mundane and unoriginal. While the task helped me to start becoming more analytical of my surroundings, I felt quite detached from the content of my collections. However, due to the fact I found it hard to find interesting content for collections from my immediate surroundings, I was forced to think more creatively about how I could systematically approach the process of collection itself. With my leaf collection I focused on collecting solely red-toned leaves, hoping to convey the energy I feel within the autumn environment because I see red as a lively and intense colour, therefore creating an interesting contrast with the fact the fallen leaves actually signify their death. Furthermore, with my graffiti collection I aimed to not only photograph the graffiti but also the environment in which I found it because I wanted to create a visual depiction of Archway high street without overtly photographing the street. The graffiti was especially interesting to me as it visually presented the character of the area and it leaves people's personal stamp on the surroundings.

The biggest challenge with the leaves was actually deciding how to organise them, not only to make them visually coherent, but also to convey the message of time passing with the changing seasons. In order to organise them I decided to create a system of ordering the leaves according to their tonal quality, starting from the deepest reds at the top of the page and becoming progressively lighter. The choice of a white background served to intensify their vibrancy. My peers gave feedback on my work, acknowledging the vibrancy of the red leaves and the contrast to the fact they are in the process of dying. They suggested I could create further collections to categorise other coloured leaves, creating a collection within a collection. The idea of a 'collection within a collection' is interesting to me because it reflects the way in which all things/objects are always a part of a wider idea, and the way in which collections are complex and often present more than one idea.

They felt that my organisation worked very well on a plain background. While I felt this worked well, I feel the impact would be greater on a larger scale. Perhaps a larger collection displayed on a white wall would be better, as the lack of the boundaries of a page would create a never-ending quality, much like the never-ending pattern of the seasons passing. With more time I would have experimented with this on a clean wall in the studio.

As I was not personally connected to any of these collections I have decided to focus on a collection I have already accumulated over time to develop - receipts.  The theme of time-passing and conveying this through a collection, much like the leaf collection, is still a theme/ idea I want to investigate. I feel that receipts are particularly engaging, as they don't only document the passing of time, but also they act as documentation of personal consumption. I see the idea of 'you are your consumption' as opening up higher levels of thought about what we value and what defines our identities, while linking it to a very everyday object otherwise seen as scrap.

Speaking to my peers, they were also very engaged by this subject, offering suggestions as to wider themes I could link to, such as the power of the media in influencing our consumption. I was also given suggestions about how I could organise the receipts, for instance I was told that it would be interesting to place faded, older receipts next to newer ones to create a large contrast between time. I think this is an interesting idea because it is a simple way to visually convey the way in which receipts document time, and also the faded receipts would show my personal interaction with the collection itself.

I will continue to develop this idea in the next session.

 

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19/09/2017 - Collection Project Day 2

Developing on from my idea for my collection of receipts, throughout today's session I focused on the methods of presentation and organisation. Initially I had a discussion within a small group to gain feedback on how they perceived the content of my collection, revealing the many ways in which my work can be interpreted and also providing useful reactions that could spark ideas for how I could present my collection and to what effect. From this exercise, and throughout the day, I built my understanding of how outside perceptions of my work really alter its meaning despite what I intended for the work to present, which I think is valuable to note within the process of making itself. I came to see that they viewed my collection as a documentation of what I am interested in and also my buying habits within the wider consumer sphere. They were particularly intrigued by the longevity of my collection (which spans across three years), and the personal quality this adds to the documentation. 

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We then discussed possible methods of presentation with one another, and I came to the conclusion that chronological systemisation of my collection transforms it into some sort of narrative, presenting a period of my life and my consumption. My immediate idea included taking the key information from the receipts (dates, items, price) and compile this into one long, unbroken set of text in an attempt to re-contextualise and remove the differences between each item. By taking the information out of the receipts I aim to give the information value, and the fact that it was initially a scrap receipt ceases to be of importance. I experimented with this idea by handwriting out the key information from the receipts across a section of a page. When receiving feedback from my peers they noted the success of this form of presentation as the never-ending flow of information created a sense of bombardment that is similar to how one feels with the pressures of consumer culture. Perhaps next time I would try typing up the information to see how this would have a different effect on how the text is received.

 

I then looked at other ways I could present my collection, turning to using space to convey a particular message relating to the subject. I tried organising the receipts chronologically onto a wall using tape, specifically placing the collection in the corner of a room to signify the idea that receipts are seen as scrap and therefore disregarded by most people. However, by spacing out the the individual receipts and giving the viewer the opportunity to process all of the information it gives the collection significance, while the contrast fit he tape to stick them up maintains the informality of the setting. I think the relationship between the space and the content reveals another layer of depth within the collection and makes it more interesting for those who view it as it relates the insignificance of the receipts to an insignificant location.

 

I also experimented with the traditional formal presentation, like archives in museums, by organising the receipts equally apart on a clean white table, inviting the viewer to inspect and therefore give value to the collection. One of my peers noted the success of this format as they felt it transformed the original subject into something of importance.

 

Lastly I presented the receipts in a large bunch, layering them on top of one another using tape and sticking it to the wall at eye-level. This created juxtaposition between the informal presentation, signifying the receipts are scrap, but inviting people to interact and therefore sort through the information themselves. While this worked, I was given feedback that the impact would be greater on a larger scale, perhaps with multiple stacks of receipts, as the longevity of the collection was lost in one pile. I also agree with this, and if I had more time to expand my collection this would be a plausible idea.

 

Reflecting on my work I realised the concept of the collection as a narrative was very interesting and had potential. I think it is interesting because receipts are often thrown away with little thought, but actually are a very personal documentation of a person's lifestyle and concerns. This idea of transforming the ordinary is inspired by my research surrounding Martin Parr and his collection of 'boring postcards', although my collection is not intended to be humorous. I continued to think of the ways I could develop this through other forms, such as 3D rather than just an illustrated form. I began to create a small cube with a peep-hole through which all of the inside was visible and covered with the text from the receipts. This was supposed to create an overwhelming feeling within the person interacting with the cube, to reflect the fear related to consumption, yet my peers found it hard to process the information on such a small scale. To tackle this I created a cuboid shape with a larger opening for viewing the text. I continued to experiment with boxes and viewing formats, and plan on making a larger box for the final presentation. 

 

 

I also experimented with how I presented the text, looking at how typing up the narrative could change the visuals and therefore change the impact on the reader. I came to realise that by experimenting with fonts and sizes I could loosely mimic the image of a barcode with the information from the receipts. This idea, too, has potential; perhaps I could include the barcode on the exterior of the box to use the entirety of the structure to present my work.

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20/09/2017 - Collections Project Day 3

After reflecting on the small mock-ups of the boxes I made yesterday, which re-contextualised the information from the receipts to transform the presentation of my collection, I began to develop this idea on a bigger scale in preparation for the final presentation tomorrow. Having experimented with both hand written and typed text I realised that the hand written text gave a more personal touch to the piece, conveying the narrative and my connection to the collection much more strongly. I decided to keep most of the text standardised by using the same pen, as this made the information a lot more difficult to decipher in an attempt to make the viewer feel overwhelmed by the collection. However, on the base of the box I used a thicker pen in areas to highlight the prices of the items, creating a break to allow the viewer to still process the information and therefore give it value. I assembled the box initially with quite a small opening, but upon feedback from those around me I realised this obscured the information, thus making it more difficult for the viewer to interact with the piece. To tackle this I cut a larger opening to make the information more visible. 

I also wanted to incorporate the idea of the barcode onto the box in some way, as a representation of the 'data' of the receipts themselves and as a visual description of the collection (much like a receipt describes the object it is on in some way). In order for the barcode to 'represent' the collection I condensed all of the information from the receipts, by typing it up, into a form that visually resembled a barcode to then place onto the box itself. I placed the barcode on the front of the box, at the bottom/centre, much like how a barcode is placed on a receipt to link to the content of the collection. 

I am contemplating physically presenting piles of receipts, in chronological order, on top of the box to add more of an interactive element to the presentation. This would enable the viewer to both experience the bombardment of the information inside the box and capture the longevity of the collection to enhance the narrative. However, I will be asking my peers for feedback on this tomorrow as I don't want to take away from the interior of the box itself, nor do I want the collection to become lost in the various presentation methods.

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21/09/2017 - Collections Project Final Day

Today I had to think about the final presentation of my collection piece within a whole group exhibition, particularly focusing on the method which would reinforce the ideas behind the collection and allow the viewer to best interact with the box. I initially considered placing the box in the centre of a table with an all white surface, with the physical receipts displayed in chronological piles to flick through around the box. However, when re-considering this idea I realised it posed problems as the box would not be displayed at eye-level, therefore making it hard to view the interior of the box itself. I also realised that presenting the physical collection of receipts alongside the box would take away from the idea of the box itself, as the focus is on the collection of information rather than the receipts themselves, and would take away the ambiguity that forces the viewer to question the piece. 

I then re-considered how I wanted to present my box, and came to the conclusion that nailing it to the wall at eye-level would enable the viewer to interact with the box and peer inside it to fully experience the bombarding amount of information. I decided to place the box on a wall with a wooden texture to create a contrast with the all-white interior of the box, thus making the internal information stand out and draw in the viewer to further inspect it. However I realised that the lighting within the room, despite placing the box beneath a source of light, meant that shadows obscured the information within the box. To tackle this, I bought a small LED light and cut a small opening in the bottom of the box to thread the LED through, creating a source of light at the base. This improved the visibility of the information while also making it jump out to the viewer. 

We then split into groups for our crit session. During the beginning of the crit we were instructed to leave the rest of the group to interpret our collection, without explaining our intentions. I learnt how vital it is to consider alternative interpretations in order to step outside of myself when creating a piece of work, as a work is perhaps not always perceived in the way it is designed to be. I noted down the feedback of my fellow group members, which were:

  • Samo - He was really interested by the simplicity of the presentation, but how the work was still very present and engaging. He interpreted the box as a sort of 'TV', with the information reflecting the way in which he feels brainwashed by the media and consumerist system. He saw the use of a box unconventional, as usually a cardboard box is something which would be overlooked, reinforcing the idea that 'you can't judge a book by its cover'. He liked the fact it was placed on wood, and suggested that the interior information resembled a bible script for the modern consumer. In his opinion, the artificial light made the work appear soul-less and this intrigued him as he still felt the collection was something anyone could relate to, presenting a sort of 'silent chaos' of the modern world. Despite others opinions, he liked the informal presentation and obscurity as it forced the viewer to figure the piece out, but he suggested that I could have placed a crumpled receipt to represent 'my life' instead of the barcode on the front of the box.
  • Vivian - She saw the presentation in the cardboard box very fitting to my collection as its disposable which reflects the act of buying itself. The bombardment of information made her think about the idea of gratification within modern society, where the act of constant buying provides only short bursts of happiness, but leaves a constant emptiness within life. Due to this, she felt the rough finish of the box with the exposed tape was necessary to reflect the idea that receipts are disposable, like happiness. However, she was confused by the barcode on the front, and needed an explanation for her to realise it was intended to represent a barcode. Instead, she suggested I should make some aspects more bold and perhaps run the barcode across the bottom of the box rather than just at the centre, as she overlooked it by focusing on only the inside of the box. She also suggested that instead of just having bold text on the base I should randomise it as it appears out of place and confuses the message.
  • Sim - She appreciated that the use of text was very overwhelming. She felt confused as the information was very hard to process, but she noted that she liked the effect this gave. She also liked how I condensed all the text into a barcode as it linked to the content of the collection well. 
  • Anne-Marie - For her, the fact there were actually no receipts made the piece all the more interesting, and she liked that the viewer would have to question and read the text to actually realise the content of the collection. She was also confused by the bold text only being on the base, and felt that the barcode needed to be refined.

 

In response to this feedback I feel that the presentation of my collection was successful in the way that it conveyed many of the messages I intended it to. I find it interesting that, while I would have wanted to refine the box further to make it more polished, other members of my group really liked the informality of the cardboard and exposed tape and felt this matched the idea of a 'receipt'. This was interesting to me as it really highlighted that you cannot predict how others will interpret your work. Perhaps if I had not been limited by materials and time I would have liked to have more refined lighting inside to illuminate the text better, as I felt the lighting was very hap-hazard and did not have the strength I wanted it to. On a larger scale I think this could work as a room where each wall is covered in text, so the viewer could walk around the space and experience the overwhelming nature of the information more intensely. 

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