After my previous reflection with more focus on my collaboration with music student Vicki Downey, here my wider reflection on this works sits in my practice and the course ‘Studio Practice’ as such.
in key words
(permission to quote was received) – link to PDF
I very much appreciated the feedback on our work shared later by Caroline Wright, lead of the New Music Collective-Fine Arts collaborative project (together with Carla Rees):
I’m pleased the NMC/FA project was worthwhile. Collaboration can be challenging but it is very often incredibly revealing – to those involved to discover one’s own sense of self and way of working, and to better understand the content and communication in (and of) the work. Your collaborative work was, for me personally, an interesting example of how music/sound and visual material can create atmosphere, and how changes of tone and manner of communication can be enhanced or changed by experiencing work through different senses. Within collaboration, there are fascinating aspects around boundaries, of the work, of the ideas and of the two modes of realization, where do they extend to, overlap or synthesise. And where do the boundaries exist from the audience point of view. Sound can bleed beyond visuals and can be seen as a tool for segueing visual material, but it can also be so much more on top of this. I hope you continue to explore working in this way.
– Caroline Wright, MA, PGCert HE Art & Design, SFHEA, Program Leader, Fine Art, post- and undergraduate, The Open College of the Arts
=> It very much enhances aspects of boundaries and transformation, of expansion of experience beyond the pure visual, aspects that I found became more and more important in my work since the beginning of this course related
Positive moments of our work:
- The combination of visuals and music came across as powerful and uplifting the work to another level
- The at times disruptive sequences were perceived as an integral part of the work
- A change in atmosphere, from comfortable and curious, through disturbing and unsettling, to a relaxing and peaceful finish, was appreciated. Though, not for all it was working properly (especially those viewing it on smaller screens at home)
- The incorporation of paintings and process paintings was considered as powerful and successful
- A sense of failing and unresolved boundaries was recognized, for me a great feedback as such.
Reflecting on my tutor’s response to the third part as having some sense of ‘melancholy’ I can relate this back to one of my beginning of the work, the baroque and sense of temporal intensity, or as Michael Ann Holly described the ever changing and metamorphosis:
it [Baroque] dazzles and distorts in failing to represent the unrepresentable, baroque vision sublimely expresses the melancholy so characteristic of the period. – (Holly, 1996:92)
Questions to myself
How relevant are the discernible sections in the work?
=> Vicki and I found the sections as important to give structure, perhaps a reflection how structure was integral and supporting our distant collaboration work. Would a collaboration with both on site looking different? I am wondering whether independent sequences, installed on different screens in a gallery space, as body of work alongside possibly non moving images, could be more powerful? Each sequence in itself possible to be stretched more? A question of narrative in a work and a narrative in an exhibition space. I felt reminded of the exhibitions works of Jutta Koether (Four Seasons and the Seven Sacraments – paintings) and Bill Viola (Intimate Works, slow motion videos). Possibly, slower transitions with more coherence between section, e.g. as seen in Will Kendrick’s work That Hall Is Woven With Serpents Spines, 2018. From the peer feedback received, those who viewed the work through the provided vimeo link on flatscreen devices, it appeared that the three sequences were too much distinctive and possibly missing a motif or visual connection
How important are some visuals, e.g. face-in-sand for the work, as they are at times perceived conveying an obvious message related to cultural connotations?
=> I had another version as a process painting that I could replace the face-in-sand sequence with (Schaffeld, 2019b). However, I do wonder whether those cultural gestures do need to be considered purely as cliché – or whether in context of a work that one would consider ‘art’ could exactly challenge underlying assumptions? How didactic or obvious should or should not a work be? As Caroline Wright asks in her feedback, ‘where do the boundaries exist from the audience point of view?’
How relevant or didactic is the use of a title? Mindful Resonance Interaction (MRI) was mostly placing the work as a response to MRI scan experience.
=> I could completely eliminate any reference to MRI, possibly to use a complete different text? Although, some didn’t bother at all with the title. Wearing a patient gown in the middle section seemed also be obvious, although wearing a black dress could put this section even more into other areas, e.g. computer games, tron-type. Apparently, single bits in the work came across as ‘obvious’, but would the entire narrative be as obvious? I got the sense that the viewers who picked on single obvious bits, didn’t consider the entire work as obvious – perhaps this made it so discruptive, unsettling, unclear of what it could be?
How relevant is the final part?
=> Idea was to get the audience back into the room, into the present after the quite unsettling middle section. Although, disruptive elements continued to play a role, the overall feedback related more to feel relieve, relaxed and with a sense of peace. In that sense, the final part was successful.
How does my work sit in relationship to painting?
=> Some parts of the work are video recordings of my live performance (with painted face) and of painting as process. Some other parts, eg. face-in-the-sand could be considered as drawing? Leaving a human trace in nature, though ephemeral in its existence? I do consider painting as an interrogation of color and space. Trying to expand this notion, I went to digital and sound spaces that could bring the audience into a physical embodied encounter with the work (with reference to Vincent Morisset)
How did my personal project evolve, which decisions did I take to move forward?
=> Since part one I was intrigued by crossing boundaries and expanding conventional notions of what painting could be. I very much like the process approach alongside a blurriness between materials, including blurring boundaries between digital and physical matter. I embraced more and more the materiality in itself and how actions as pulling and stretching do impact performance, understanding and visual expression. Starting out rather literally with pulling and stretching, the parallel project lifted those aspects up to a metaphorical level: stretching connotations and understanding of sections that made up for a disruptive narrative. Further, I do embrace ambiguity as a key elements, leaving space for the audience to response with their own experience and stories, there is not one way right or wrong. Also there is no misunderstanding as one could often hear from conceptual artists that the audience could mis-interpret the work (question of intelligence and decoding competence?).
What did inform my work as it stands today, and where there comprises to be taken due to the collaborative aspect?
=> Mostly, I was inspired by works of Bruce Nauman and Hito Steyerl, artists of different generations embracing their contemporary technologies and imaging techniques to explore space, understanding of material, and experiencing ambiguity. Further, the entire area of medical imaging technique is certainly informing my work and the way I do see the key elements as written down in the featured image above. I find those sensibilities of media technology as one can experienced either through medical imaging or through popular media culture do inform the vulnerability and forces I apply on materiality.
To make my parallel project as a collaborative project might be a risk that I take (what is mine and what is not mine). But I do believe that one always makes work in collaboration, even if it is ‘merely’ informed by peer or tutor feedback. My collaboration forced me to work more structured and to response what is there (in this case the music pieces created by Vicki). Music is abstract, and it informs abstract ideas – being transformed by my hands with material matters turning into visual imagery.
What are my key learnings throughout the development of my personal project?
=> I found the collaboration a stunning experience. We worked for four months on it, quite effectively (considering that I started this course more than one and half year ago), and in resonance. It felt as if our collaboration was another metaphor for MRI process.
How would I want to develop my work further? Deeper or different directions?
= Overall, I do think that the work is too loaded with a complex narrative. Three to four distinctive parts bundled into one audio-work. Considering gallery spaces, I would rather split the apart, make it into three to four screenings, possibly in three joined rooms to allow and add the movement of the audience to be part of the work and its experience. I am very much intrigued by the layering of sensual channels, visual and auditory at least. Other senses, as touch (through walking through) and smell or taste could be explored additionally. However, I am with Merleau-Ponty who stated that all senses are linked to each other in the phenomenological encounter with the and in the world.
– Transformation – Crossing Boundaries –
– Disrupting narrative –
– Vulnerability – Fragmentation – Material Reality –
I find as if I am coming not more and more to a core of what I want. Part of it seems to me quite autobiographic, although not spoken out explicitly, only through visual imagers and spaces that exceed the sense of sight alone. It seems to resonate what I partly described in my short ‘journey’ for #OCAstories . Big part of what I want to do relates to the psychological dimension of human life as I do experience intersubjectively with my clients/patients in art therapy.
Overall, I can now discern a few aspects that are important for my work as an emerging artist:
- transformation of material,
- crossing boundaries of single perspectives and material reality,
- disrupting narratives through juxtaposition and contrast,
- showing vulnerability and fragmentation
Actions to develop the work
- First, to make a distinctive and slower version (either with cut-up voice-scape, see example) or with the organ part alone
- Second, more visually coherent, yet disruptive transitions.
- Third, a plan for presenting the work for assessment incl ideas of room spaces.
- Featured image: digital composite of painting and writing out key elements relevant to my practice
- Downey, V., Schaffeld, S.J. (2019a) ‘Communication with Vicki Downey (March-July 2019). At: https://drive.google.com/open?id=143f1CRWaacfR2eCI9MDA8JkGj8hHDTmT
- Downey, V., Schaffeld, S.J. (2019b) ‘DRAFT-V1-complete-MRA Organ Baroque_low’ [film] At: https://vimeo.com/354202212/7145b70974
- Schaffeld, S.J. (2019a) ‘Sketchbook #6’ [pdf], At: https://drive.google.com/open?id=11XCQDJcc88A0lV6xe5ijqC5124Yn-9R5
- Schaffeld, S.J. (2019b) ‘Parallel Project – Editing visual materials’. At: https://ocasp.stefanvisualart.com/?page_id=7923
- Schaffeld, S.J. (2019c) ‘Critical Review’. [blog category] At: https://ocasp.stefanvisualart.com/?cat=230
- Downey, V. (2019) Reflection on multi-disciplinary project. [pdf] At: https://drive.google.com/open?id=12OIyVZD5H2ov-MfU3aXpJCfmrBJbRzMW
- Furnace, F. (2017) Newsome, Rashaad – Shade Compositions (2007), [online], At: https://vimeo.com/219147231 (Accessed on 12 June 2018).
- Holly, M. A. (1996) Past Looking: Historical Imagination and the Rhetoric of the Image. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
- The Open College of the Arts / Rees, C. & Wright, C. (2009) <about the collaboration> At: (link to come)