Category : Coursework

A6 – Critical Review – Final Draft

Stefan513593 -P2SP -CR - - draft - digital composite of sketches and drawing after Chadwick ('Self-Portrait', 1991)

After feedback on my revised draft, I pulled up the key items that I need to consider in my final draft

  • less dense and less informative
  • more reflective and critical engagement
  • more emphasis on materiality, process, and visual aesthetics
  • to relate strongly to my practice and interest of materiality transformation and vulnerability of the body.
  • make it really an enquiry into my ideas
  • relate to my approach towards the contextual notes for A5

 

Here the link to : PDF

05 Stefan513593_P2SP_CR-final draft

 

(Total  word count: 2528 // without direct quotes, footnotes, references: 2065)

 


Remark on tools

For my research, brainstorming, outlining, and writing my drafts I used the following tools – all with which I can work on my laptop and my tablet in sync, an important aspect for me when travelling:

  • Inspiration:  for brainstorming, on the go, visual mapping, connecting and outlining
  • Scrivener: for writing and compiling essays, providing structure, 
  • Endnote: reference database, with pdf and annotations and research notes accumulated, now also an archive of my studies

I do find them very supportive and helpful (although inspiration is the least stable one, not on a Mac, Windows is better). It gives me structure, quick access to information, and space to connect and to relate to. It might be not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am very positive to have found a robust and sustainable working approach. And all three are malleable enough that I can adjust if needed to my way of working.

 

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Critical Review – Revised Draft for review

amended:  for the sake of avoidance / self-plagiarism: 

I do thank all who gave me their feedback and comments on my revised draft. The final draft is the current one

I am considering here the discussion on self-plagiarism at OCA discuss forum and input from OCA librarian Helen at: https://discuss.oca-student.com/t/should-i-publish-my-essays-on-my-blog/10737?) and the mitigating the minor risk that someone could reference this revised draft – what would apparently put me intro trouble, as I did not reference my revised draft in my final draft. Let the readers of this amended post reflect for themselves on what may be good online academic standard….

Please see my final draft at: 

A6 – Critical Review – Final Draft

Total  word count of revised draft: 3282; without direct quotes, footnotes, references: 2487

 

 


Image:

  • Schaffeld, S.J (2019 Reflecting in layers – Sketches and drawing after Chadwick (‘Self-Portrait’, 1991)  [Digital composite] 
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Medical imagery – an ethical question?

On Ethics

Medical-ethical issues are media-ethical concerns – (van Dijck, 2005:14)

Alongside writing my critical review and working on my parallel project informed by my own MRI scan in 2018 and the obtained medical imagery footage. I was concerned about ethical questions and the purpose us those medical images. Images of media culture and evidence as trophy? Would I not put myself into those habits of collecting images as iconic sign?

How do and for what purpose do I want to use medical imagery? It raises ethical and morale questions, questions of ethical permissibility and educational value as explored by van Dijck (van Dijck, 2005). Aesthetically appealing images do attract the public and e overrule a ‘pure’ medical meaning and concerns

What about using my own imagery from the MRI scans? And to make them public through ‘works of art’? Would this change of how it is perceived versus using imagery from others? Foucault asks questions of morale considering a dislocation and removal of the direct gaze.

Instrumental mediation outside the body authorises a withdrawal that measures the morale distance involved the prohibition of physical contact makes it possible to fix the virtual image of what is occult well below the visible area…What one cannot see is shown in the distance from what one must not see – (Foucault, 1994:164)

The moral question relates to the dominant sign of the visible leading to difficult choices and dilemmas. ‘Seeing is intervening’ – as Ian Hacking explained the biased dynamic of how it impacts our conceptualisation and representation of the body (van Dijck, 2005:7-8). Examples as Bodyworlds (Institut für Plastination e.K, 2019) or the Visual Human Project® (National Library of Medicine, 2019) challenge us to reconsider status and nature of the body, and challenging epistemological categories guiding us in making ethical distinctions (van Dijck, 2005:62).

The way of seeing is not restricted to medical imagery, it extends all imagery in media culture where what is seen and what is perceived is subject to the viewer’s interpretation. Attached informative texts may play a guiding role, nevertheless, the dominant role of the visual has its own dynamic:

The significant role of images and imagination in the construction of corporeality is one of the prime motivations for cultural critics to analyze and theorise medical imaging. – (van Dijck, 2005:12-13)

The human body would turn away from being an object of surveillance under the medical gaze towards a posthuman cultural ‘fashion accessories’, not any longer ‘of being’ but rather ‘of having’, as Katherine Hayles describes the shift in perception (Hayles, 1999:5). The image by Juan Valverde de Amusco, 1566 does remind us of that as a pre-modern reflection on anatomy practice as this time (The University of Cambridge, 1566).

In summary, I tend to use my own MRI footages with care. My practice is a visual reflection on what the imagery are doing with me and how I response to that visual ‘evidence’. The process of remembering my experience inside the machine as well as my reflection in the aftermath are opening up new explorations of materiality and transformation.

 


Image:

  • featured image: Schaffeld, SJ (2019) digital composite of painting and screenshot of spectrum from music created by Vicki Downey

Reference:

  • Foucault, M. (1994) The Birth of the Clinic : An Archaeology of Medical Perception, Routledge classics, Reprinted ed. New York: VIntage Books, A division of Random House, Inc.
  • Hayles, N. K. (1999) How we became posthuman : Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Pres.
  • Institut für Plastination e.K (2019) Bodyworlds – Körperwelten,  At: https://bodyworlds.com/  (Accessed  10 Jul 2019). Heidelberg:
  • National Library of Medicine (2019) The Visible Human Project®,  At: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/research/visible/visible_human.html  (Accessed  02 May 2019).
  • The University of Cambridge (1566) ‘Juan Valverde de Amusco (ca. 1525–ca. 1588), Vivae imagines partium corporis humani aereis formis expressae. Book 2, plate 1’, in Juan Valverde de Amusco (ca. 1525–ca. 1588), V. i. p. c. h. a. f. e. B., plate 1, ed., Antwerp: Christopher Plantin, print.
  • van Dijck, J. (2005) Transparent Body : A Cultural Analysis of Medical Imaging. Seattle, WA; London: University of Washington Press.
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Critical Review – statement

Author personal statement

As an emerging artist and a professional art therapist and counsellor, I am concerned about how identity and the self-image is mediated through a media culture informed by medical instruments and informing a disciplining medical gaze that makes the human body and psychical states appear a disembodied and displaced state of the visible.

With reference to phenomenology and embodiment I do consider the space of experience residing beyond a dichotomy of the body and a mind. My viewpoints are founded on my own experience of being exposed, vulnerable, and stretched and pulled by a medical surgical gaze. I consider my surrounding perceptual space as a kinesfield, as it was named by Gretchen Schiller with bodies connected through the invisible.

My critical review informed my parallel project. At the same time, my practical work in the aftermath of my MRI experience informed my writing of aspects of material vulnerability and temporal experience. As important as it was for Helen Chadwick, the aesthetics of perception of my work could be seen with Merleau-Ponty as a relationship of ‘being-to-the world’.

This essay is built on the following supporting facts:

  1. My own MRI brain scan experience April 2018 at Inselspital, Bern, Switzerland
  2. Research on MRI and use in arts
  3. Research on medical imaging as cultural media and the body as transparent mediated object ‘under the skin’
  4. Research of philosophical exploration of the medical gaze, clinic, patient
  5. Research of Helen Chadwick’s body of work, especially her latest and un-finished series mid 1990s
  6. Collaborative work with music student Vicki Downey to explore different responses to sound
  7. My practice as research in the body and the plasticity of the skin, expressed through the malleable matter of painting and its materials

 

 

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Project 5.4: Writing out of the Parallel Project

Artist Statement

I am concerned about how medical technology inform our self-perception, shaping disembodied and displaced visual images. My practice and own experience in healthcare informs my exploration of painting as a physical and psychological encounter of space through a material expression. My approach is inter-medial, looking beyond conventional forms and perception of painting.

My investigation and transformation of material matter reveals aspects of vulnerability and fragmentation through stretching and pulling. I consider my works as spatial arrangements of layered materials. They cross boundaries between the physical and the digital and embrace expanded visual and auditive spaces. Through my physical interaction with materials I explore performative and transcendent aspects of materials and my body.

My practice is informed by the transgressive and embodied works of Helen Chadwick. It explores spaces between the inside and the outside, with skin as a metaphor for transformation. I rely on my direct sensual experience through my body as a medium. Created works are my visual response to that experience.

 


A list informed by my background search and continuous reflection on the core of my practice (a continuity, never finished)

  • Ideas: mental, medical imaging, MRI, experience, self, seeing and touching, sound, rhythm, life, transparent, exposure, vulnerability, fragmentation, dissociation, transcendent, surface, space, interface; paint, light, sound, moving images = crossing boundaries / embodiment
  • What is holding together: transformation through crossing boundaries, becoming vulnerable and transparent even with an opaqueness, touching fragmented matter
  • Decision for most meaningful outcome: to go with the flow of material properties
  • Media: inter-media as painting, material properties as interaction, constructed spaces of color
  • Process: painting, performative painting, a physical material and bodily process, collaborative
  • Intention: seeking new perspectives in painting through arranging and exploring materiality beyond conventional forms and creating varieties of experiential spaces.
  • Theme: exploring the world as an embodied encounter. The parallel project being informed by experiencing the intrusive gaze through medical imaging techniques

 


Development of my statement

Draft 1

Experiencing life as a patient ‘out of norm’ can be daunting, experiencing art can be daunting as well. Feeling vulnerable, exposed to a medical gaze through high-tech instruments, e.g. MRI scans, and falling into a space of uncertainty, leaves one alone to make sense of what is appearing and happening. My art embraces the vulnerability of my Self through material properties. It is an experience crossing boundaries of seeing and feeling. I am searching for possibilities through painting, light, sound, and moving images. There is the touch of painting as material and the rhythm of sound that places one in a different space of experience. How to create spaces that do not belong to the picture I can see? It makes me aware of how fragmented and transparent things might become and to feel the paint, to touch the surface, is making me more real. I need the directness of sensual experience. My work is exploring this by touching various media. My body is one medium to turn images into a picture.

(172 words)

 

 

Reflection on draft 1:

  • How important is the patient aspect?
  • How important is the medical gaze as an external factor compared with my subjective encounter with materiality and matter?
  • How does surface relate to skin?

Draft 2

I am painting through my exploration of interfaces and boundaries related to the human body as a vulnerable encounter in the world. I am searching for new perspectives of how material and space can be experienced.  By using the metaphor of the skin as a protective but also vulnerable semi-permeable material, my work explores the properties of materials. Works consist of surface and spatial structures, flat or multidimensional, questioning the difference between inside and outside.

I do consider painting as the relationship of color in space, embracing properties of light and sound to create new experiences of space and form. My practice is founded on a transgressive and transformative inter-media approach, crossing boundaries and expanding conventional forms and perception of painting. I am exploring constructed layers of perception and meaning by drawing attention to the unique properties of materials that can be stretched and folded.

My practice is personal – building on experiences of vulnerability and fragmentation. Distorted, ambiguous and fragmented parts are becoming part of a painterly experience. By transforming materials, materiality conveys its vulnerable and fragile properties. A directness of sensual experience places my body as an important medium in my practice.

(193 words)

 

 

Reflection on draft 2:

  • How is the aspect of vitality involved, baroque intensity?
  • How is the bodily, the gestural involved?
  • Is art not always personal?
  • Is medical imaging completely out?
  • Where are the other senses, eg. sound?

Draft 3

I am painting – exploring color and spaces, physical present and psychological absent spaces. My practice is founded on an inter-media approach towards materiality beyond conventional forms and perception of painting. Through constructed layers of material and meaning, spaces created do cross boundaries between the physical and the digital, between perception and meaning, between seeing, touching and hearing. My works do draw attention to the unique properties of materials, being manually or metaphorically stretched, pulled and folded.

My project relates to the psychological dimension of human life informed by my practice as art therapist and my own MRI brain scan. Exposed to external gazes, especially the medical gaze, perception of space and body shifts. Elements of vulnerability and fragmentation can be experienced as an intrusion beyond the skin – and beyond the visible. I am searching for new perspectives in how those distorted, ambiguous and fragmented spaces can be bodily experienced.

By transforming materials, materiality conveys its vulnerable and fragile properties. A directness of sensual experience places my body as an important medium in my practice – and the audience into a space of different material reality.

(184 words)

 

 

Reflection on draft 3:

  • How convincing and clear are the main connecting elements of transformation, materiality and crossing boundaries?

 


Draft 4 and final 

I am concerned about how medical technology inform our self-perception, shaping disembodied and displaced visual images. My practice and own experience in healthcare informs my exploration of painting as a physical and psychological encounter of space through a material expression. My approach is inter-medial, looking beyond conventional forms and perception of painting.

My investigation and transformation of material matter reveals aspects of vulnerability and fragmentation through stretching and pulling. I consider my works as spatial arrangements of layered materials. They cross boundaries between the physical and the digital and embrace expanded visual and auditive spaces. Through my physical interaction with materials I explore performative and transcendent aspects of materials and my body.

My practice is informed by the transgressive and embodied works of Helen Chadwick. It explores spaces between the inside and the outside, with skin as a metaphor for transformation. I rely on my direct sensual experience through my body as a medium. Created works are my visual response to that experience.

 (163 words)

 


The Elevator Pitch

unfinished – one of many

audio (0:39 min)

=> a possible development of the ‘elevator-pitch’ animated painting with voice-over statement)


Background:
Learnings from resources:

  • from Artquest:
    – To say what I see.
    – To link purpose, media, idea and process.
  • from Gilda Williams:
    – To attract interest (use of small details) and to assist in my thinking
    – Which decision produced the most meaningful outcome?
  • from both:
    – What is connecting/holding all bits together?

Reflection

  • It took some time to write my artist statement. I enjoyed having time between each draft, not only to reflect on the core of my practice but also to add or refine words and a flow in thinking.
  • It supported me in thinking clearer
  • To think about ‘wjhat is holding it together’ while looking at soma pieces helped me to reflect on what I did and what would be possible next steps. In that sense, I do see writing my statement rather as a study and research in itself. It helped me to stay more focused. 
  • I find it really helpful to phrase some kind of statement even at the beginning of a project to support the making of work. During this part, I used the reflective accounts for each assignment in a similar sense. For assignment five I am going to write it before.

 

 


Images:

  • all images are my own work, photographic reproduction of my painting, and/or digital composites of layers crossing inter-media classifications

Reference:

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P5.2 – Parallel Project Ex5.2: Reflective exercise (Part b)

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.

 

Feedbacks received:

in key words

Stefan513593 - P2SP - Parallel Project - Reflection - key words

Fig. 1: Parallel Project – Reflection – key words

 

Some voices
(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.

Key subject

 

– 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.

 


Image:

  • Featured image: digital composite of painting and writing out key elements relevant to my practice

Supporting Material

Reference

  • 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)

 

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Project 5.1 – Ex5.1: Cut-up technique

Wondering what text of words to use? I wanted to take text with some relevance to my personal project, considering ‘cut-up’ technique as an analogue to my recent assignment 4 paintings related to skin: fragmentation, vulnerable, distorted, disruptive, unsettling

Text input:

Reflecting on practices of text related to MRI, one example is Nicoleta Colopelnic (2013) where she described her back MRI scan through poetry and gave the medical imagery an aesthetic appeal, I decided to build my words from various sources that seem meaningful to me and my parallel project (Fig. 1):

  1. a medical text on psychological effects of MRI scan (Westbrook and Talbot, 2019:350)
    => the rather technical tone related to a patient’s ‘non-compliance’ with the machine process reminds me of how strongly the body became disciplined through the medical instruments it themselves. The fear and different responses by the patients as a flaw to correct.
  2. a text on visual aesthetic perception and the brain (Cela-Conde ed al., 2004:6321)
    => how neo-Descartian the medical world became by trying to map not only the mind but also the sense for aesthetics 
  3. key words from peer feedback (see reflective blog post) on my inter-media collaborative work Mindful Resonance Interaction (MRI) 
    => kind of verbal stimuli, different, falling onto me, what to make out of it?
  4. words from Vicki and me in resonance to MRI as subject matter, that until now didn’t go into the performed work from July 20th, 2019
    => how we came up with some freely associated words related to an MRI experience, un-discplined, un-mapped, chaotic. Those words are most closely to MRI poetry and I might use them explicitly for my further work.
  5. technical words from DICOM data of one MRI scan (screenshot from Horos)
Fig. 1: words from parallel project and feedback

Fig. 1: words from parallel project and feedback // check out the QR code to soundcloud file with spoken words

 

Techniques to cut-up and shuffle

I was trying to make non-sense out the the tons of words (how to reduce those? or is the amount of overload part of the work and the experience of it?). Considering the MRI machine and the machine coding process to deliver visual imagery to the human beings in-front of the operator screen, I felt inspired to use an automatic coding approach as well to shuffle and cut-up my various text inputs. Looking for online tools (line shuffle tools from Advameg. Inc.and Random Tools) and use of LingoJam (2019) tools for creation of type fonts, a visual encounter with the invisible text resulted in a nearly illegible sequence of words that I composed as a string of large letter pages, in total 93 pages !   that became my base material for following explorations

link to : PDF 

Video 1: more linear unsettling the entirely // Words cutup – sequence no 1(video, 1:33 min)

 

and as layered and double moving text-image (with the animated painting done earlier on for my parallel project, and a raw sequence that didn’t go into the final performative collaborative piece –  see my blog post at: Spin-off Idea: Gesture as Narrative)

Video 2: recent aesthetic distance// Words cutup – sequence no 2 (video, 2:31min)

Not knowing what to do with the massive amount of text not giving me any further insight in how to proceed further, I eventually printed and manually cut them in smaller pieces and to see whether my more visually and touching approach of collaging them together in a sketchbook could show a way forward.

Playing around with to structure :

  • to make connections – cut up my thinking (Fig. 2)
  • to make sense (Fig 3) 
  • to response through feeling and touching – ? (Fig. 4)

Slider view (Fig 2 – 4, click on one image to open in lightbox view):

Fig. 2: text and words - no1

Image 1 of 3

text and words - Making Connections - cut up my thinking

Intermediate results

Informed my previous playful selection of narrowing down the words (Fig. 2-4) I was curious to see how to use them in a collage way. I am more intrigued by the materiality and performative aspects of the resulting non-sense cut-ups, less about the process of making (Fig. 5)

Fig. 5: text and words - sketchbook // informed by language from my parallel project

Fig. 5: text and words – sketchbook // informed by language from my parallel project // left: latex and Tyvek plus words, center: non-sense cut up words behind the window, right: stretching words with parafilm

 

=> I was intrigued by the use of parafilm (or better PARAFILM® M) from some previous trials after reflecting on assignment 4 and alternatives to latex. Parafilm, material used in medical or chemical labs to close beakers and other containers, is translucent materials that can be painted on with acrylic paint. Due to its plasticity it is easily stretchable, an action that I wanted to continue exploring after assignment 4 in relationship to skin and medical matters. My exploration of Tyvek® (Fig.5, left) – a paper like material that can be cut open to expose the inner core and being used for protective and disposable clothing, e.g. in clinics,  is informed in a similar search for latex alternatives and materials with connotations with medical stuff. 

Exploring incision, stretching and other material matters. Slider view (Fig. 6 & 7), click on one image to open in lightbox view:

Fig. 5: collage 1

Image 1 of 2

exploring verbal and visual materiality // abduction - part - dominion - insane - gaze - rhythm - loneliness - mind - touching - sound - alien

=> I found the relationship between materiality and action an interesting aspect. stretching and transparency as two key elements involved in my work since part one.

stretching

as

action

onto

materiality

words

are

material 

torn

apart

 

Making collages, partly as an instruction partly as a declaration (slide show Fig. 7 – Fig 14;  click at the bottom right tiny arrow top open images in lightbox view):

=> this brought me back to some of my initial bar-codes, slicing experiments (see post). More an illustration, crossing boundaries with drawing and eventually creating ideas for painting. The series done in my A3 sketchbook, might be quite sketchy and illustrative, but I find the line between legible and illegible, between comprehsensible and non-comprehensible fascinating. It is a border that in case of QR codes can be easily crossed, with a rather digital result: yes / no – legible / illegible. This liminal space of making sense and getting insane sounds relevant.

=> the no.5 work is obviously as contained and unsuccessful as it was my work with paper chips for part 4. I kept it here for the sake of completion and as an idea. To develop it further I would reject the backing support paper and make it more sculptural, unframing and expanding the edges into the space of the viewer

 

code

-non-

sense

gazing

me

crossing

border

insane

 


 

Words as speech

I wanted to move away from visual, words to see, towards auditory, words to hear. Considering words as speech, intrigued by my experience of my collaborative project and of one project performed by a Anna, her husband and Naomi at Toynbee Studios, and informed by William S Burroughs practice and some artists examples from the Radio broadcast (Hollings, 2015)

the words from VIcki and me – spoken by me – unfiltered and raw (just with noise reduction and normalization filter, (audio, 0:57 min)) 
 

 

a) First attempt in taking my spoken words, apple various effect filters with Adobe Audition and re-mix as multi-track file. Creating a speech-scape, to be layered with visuals (audio, 0:29 min)

=> to soundscape partly distorted, interruptive, but good as a first speech-sketch

b) Second attempt my spoken words as a) re-shuffled, cut-up with Adobe Audition (audio, 1:08 min):


 

=> more flat as single track and no filters applied. However, the cut-up as a mix of chance and conscious decisions, percussive, repetitive towards the end. Wondering how this could be developed further. Speech felt now more as a plastic material to be transformed and modulated.

With this audio-soundscape sketched I am wondering how the words can be merged with visuals, feeling intrigued by Kentridge’s short moving images Breathe, Dissolve, Return (2008)  What would be the difference in experience versus my collaborative music work? Another approach to ‘feeling complicit’ with the materials. All about creating in-between spaces

c) Third attempt mixing various words (incl Vicki’s) spoken by me, cut-up, merged and re-shuffled with Adobe Audition (audio, x:xx min):

<  planned idea but skipped in order to move directly to the next step  >

d) Fourth attempt audio from my cut-up speech (second attempt) with ‘merged’ with the handwritten words amended and a painting on parafilm as process – multilayered in Adobe Premiere. Finally, I got to move away from iMovie and enjoyed the versatility and flexibility of Premiere, especially for layering (what became a nightmare in iMovie). 

Video 3: Cut up My Thinking // Words cutup – sequence no 4 (video-audio, 2:30 min)

 

=> After various attempts in recording the massive amount of text from video 1 in a linear way of reading (making a very long strip of small scale prints of the 93 pages) with either moving myself with the camera in front of the text frieze of – more successful – moving the text strip with a fixed camera. I was not that satisfied and convinced by the typed and printed text, thus I revisited my work in my sketchbook (see Fig. 2-4) and choose those ‘keywords’ to write them out on a similar small long strip of paper: text, written by my hand, more personal – another index of my being (writing and hand and pull). The moving strip itself reminded me of analog magnetic tape recording and cutting, quite as Burroughs mentioned it. It reminded me also of Jennifer West and her material usage of film tapes to paint on and to project them. In my case, an audio version of that. The layering process of physical and digital materials (experimented earlier on – see ‘my digital body in space’ from Project 3.2 – Ex. 3.1: Body as canvas and multilayered moving images ‘Performance unframed #2‘ from Project 3.4 – Ex. 3.3: The mirror as a stage .

Some aspect that I can find coming across in some of my works since part one are :

pulling

stretching

layering

 


Reflection

  • Using materials does matter: I found it intriguing to find some relationship between written or typed words on paper, on other materials, and the process of reading (in this case from left to right as by my own learned cultural convention). The performative video works with connotation to tape (magnetic tape recording of speech) as moving images.
  • I enjoyed the speech approach and using soundcloud – for its plasticity and to make it more malleable compared to written text. I do embrace more and more different senses to have a more immersed experience of a work. Definitely, something to look deeper into.
  • My last video 3 work and its preparation made me aware of how my body posture and gesture plays a role in the making and reception of the work. Moving with a video cam means to record my movement as well (I don’t have such fancy film maker motion reduction devices) while moving a strip with a fixed cam makes the strip movement (smaller gesture with the hand) a bodily experience with its traces left on the video. I intentionally kept those ‘non-professional’ motion traces, not only as index but also as awareness of the body in the work.
  • Informed by my collaborative work with music student Vicki I was intrigued by soundscape and now of speech-scapes an additional dimension to visual spaces. It brings me to multiple layer approaches that could be performed either live or as recording in a room. The works above are single perspective works, i.e what the viewer sees and what the viewer hears is coming from the same direction, mostly a computer or mobile flatscreen. In a physical gallery setting this could be disconnected and displaced, the speech, the sound coming from different directions, placing the viewer inside the work and not as an observing person alone. I like the idea of complementing visual that one looks at in one or the other direction and other senses exposed to different directions.
  • I find malleable materials with a plasticity quite relevant for my work and relating to my parallel project. Did my last assignment 4 looked at latex as a stretchable and fragmented skin pattern, I can see now that even words might be as malleable as such materials. I found in Parafilm M® a similar material that I could use for that. Stretchable fabrics, with incisions, might be another approach to look at.
  • Further development: 
    – I liked the developed idea of considering words as a plastic material, literally explored through stretching parafilm with words painted on it. Certainly more to discover with other materials, e.g. to cut out words from fabric or latex and to stretch them in similar way as I did with latex for assignment 4.
    – Words as speech acts brings me to the performative aspect of language. Speech as such is performative, compared to a more ‘still’ expression of non-verbal paintings.
    – Overall, I do believe that to work with the plasticity of words in context of my subject matter (medical imaging, skin, embodiment) would be the way forward.

 


Reference:

 

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Critical Review – Outlining argumentation

Outline of my argumentation, based on my earlier brainstorming and draft outline around the subject of medical imaging / MRI and art. Especially, considering more the work for my parallel project and assignment 4 works around materiality of paint as malleable and vibrant as skin through which the gaze is intruding onto us.

link to: PDF

11 Stefan513593_CR_P2SP_outline2

 


Reference:

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Collaboration as Parallel Project // P5.2 – Ex5.2: Reflective exercise (Part a)

collaborative project music fine art MRI

This was going a bit different than just a straight forward parallel project. The outcome was realised and performed aka screened in a private viewing event at Toynbee Studios, London E1 6AB on 20th July 2019 with the support of OCA (Caroline Wright and Carla Rees). The work consisted of an approx 10 min visual-music performative video created together with music student Vicki Downey.

Mindful-Resonance Interaction (video-audio, 09:45 min): 

as installed and screened at Toynbee Studios on 20th July 2019. A collaboration with music student Vicki Downey ()

Remark: in order to have the best experience of the work, it is recommended to listen to with good headphones with a frequency range down to <=20 Hz or with a good audio system that can convey very low pitches

 

 


Now, with the outcome accomplished, time to reflect on the work done and a reflection after the event including feedback from the audience and learnings from what I experienced from the other five projects presented.

About our collaboration

(see also Vicki’s reflection – under Reference)

When the call for a New Music-Fine Arts collaborative project was announced, I was thrilled. I pondered for quite some time about how to bring sound and painting together, having only experimented for myself with some animated images and recorded painting processes. I knew that I often take too much on my shoulders and at times all over the place. Therefore, I hoped that I could integrate the collaborative bit into my coursework, even hoping it could be part of my parallel project related to medical imaging and MRI and being presented for assessment (still to come) – and I got the go from my tutor under the condition it would be well documented. I was even more thrilled to hear in my first virtual meeting with music student Vicky Downey that she felt intrigued by the topic of MRI and was open minded to have our collaboration on this theme, somehow ‘directed’ by my parallel project. Since the start I felt an amazing resonance and trust between us.

Big challenge for me was how to create and get visuals, animated images or ‘still’ paintings into a piece of work that work together and are ‘synced’ with Vicki’s music. We discussed this and it occurred to me that non-perfect sync might be even a good idea. I never worked on any video or animated piece longer than 1 or 2 minutes, and mostly as recordings, but without the addition of extra-soundscapes. I was afraid that I have to spend a massive amount of time on learning film editing and post-production software, and that the results would look clumpy, rough and amateurish.  Or that awful transitions would damage the experience of our work. I put this concern away and was pleased that our discussion went along more or sensation and experience of visual and soundscapes.

I really enjoyed our collaboration that followed a mutual sequence, starting with talking through my initial idea and own experience of brain MRI, Vicki’s experience and ideas relating to MRI, and pulling together rough ideas on how MRI works, how it could be translated musically and visually, and some references to other artists.

In this flowing phase, I found it tremendously helpful to have Vicki as a remote partner, giving structure through her music pieces, that I could take up and inform my visuals. We refined and build a flow together later. I do thank Vicki for being in that sense more structured as me, as I tend to be rather experimental, at times chaotic and always embracing uncertainty. Also, I very much appreciated how Vicki took up points from our discussion through a few virtual meetings and more email exchanges (that I put all together in a separate doc) and played out and experimented freely. Fortunately, this didn’t put her off. 

I made a very rough first draft visual sequence midway that found good resonance with Vicki, and just before our big day made variations and eventually the night before the final cut. I was embracing uncertainty and considered certain de-synced transitions as a key element of the outcome and the experience. It was like a dialogue in three, between visuals, music and perception by the audience of both together. This also led to the fact that I could share a second version of a full visual sequence (a narrative?) with Vicki only the day before the event. However, I made some variations of sub-sequences that we reviewed remotely by texting together. A big thank to her for this late checking in and trust and openness.

Each of us created more ‚raw material’ that didn’t go into our final cut. We have more material that we could (and will) see how it could be used. This includes MRI footage in the work, voice and words, humming sound by string or by audience, and last not least how a live performance with people (us or other) could look like.

Overall, I very much appreciated the opportunity from OCA to work collaboratively with music, especially that it was Vicki who became my partner in ‚MRI-crime‘ (our work title ‘Mindful Resonance Interaction (MRI)’, that I made up in a moment of deep inspiration, is also a reflection on our collaboration based on openness and trust). I also found the inspirational and pragmatic Carla and Caroline very supportive and appreciated that both also made some work together. As a Fine Art student at level HE5, I feel inspired to explore further relationships between visual spaces and sound spaces, both key to our human understanding and knowledge of the world around us. This collaboration opened up new perspectives for me, and I can now even imaging in include voice/words into the work.

 

Reflection after the performance event 20th July 2019

We started the day in a wonderful venue at Toynbee Studios, six projects in pairs, three before and three after lunch. I was so thrilled hearing that my tutor will come, and for time reasons made us to schedule our bit as the last one of day.

Stefan513593 - NMU/FA Collaboration OCA - 20July2019

The day started with the fantastic impromptu Kym and Jason, who performed painting and music ad hoc, involving us as the audience by asking to roll a dice that would inform their performance. It was a good start with a lot of fun. I very much liked the vitality and spontaneity of the performance. Something, I could do envision for street art performance or any other public spaces as well. Will keep this in mind as it resonates with my art therapy practice as well. 

A slide show accompanied by live piano music followed by word and voices followed by Anne and Naomi (who was virtual present), with Anne’s husband joining in. I very much enjoyed her piece ‘hands’, written poem, sung along by Anne and her husband, we as audience were invited to sing along as well. I found it intriguing to include words and voice in a piece, something Vicki and I considered but not realized. Re audience voice, it appeared also in the piece performed later by Anna and Deborah, as well as by Emma and SarahJane.

The next project by Anna and Deborah was informed by Anna’s graduate show work on ‘one year in prison’ informed by letters of one prisoner. It sounded familiar to me, as my work with Vicki was also informed by my ideas of parallel project, though nothing was realized till that moment. Nevertheless, there work got a spin by the input of Deborah. The audience was once again invited to participate by creating a human wall (reference to the prison wall) and holding lace flags. Anna informed us that this bit was informed by her exchange with textile students. Their piece was an animated still photograph sequence with voice over by Anna and Deborah sitting on both side of the human wall. I took away the experience of space created in the room, through a layering of background screening, audience as object rather sculptural installation and the words and voices that pulled me as an ‘observer’ into a liminal space.

After lunch, the room became dark, as the three following projects were built around the screening experience accompanied by music and sound. It was interesting for me how the day was split into two parts (intentionally?). Caroline’s and Carla’s work was according to their information a rather short notice built together performative work. Carla was playing on her flute and creating a huge variety of sounds and Caroline played a gong, both playing in the back, between the screen and the audience seated. I was impressed by the experience of time and duration. At the beginning the transitions of stills were very slow, meditative, and the perception of space through layering was stunning. What started abstract moved on with zooming out perspectives and with more clarity on location and video sequences were included. The soundscapes created and experienced were intriguing. Compared to screen-based sequences only, as me and Vicki worked along on our piece, a double space created, the room of the performance was part of the work. A tension between what I see and what I hear, going through my body, being fully immersed. Time was standing still, and I did appreciate how long a piece can be (it was roughly 15 min long) with slow motion or even still.  Definitely, something for me to keep in mind.

The project just before our part, was done by Emma and SarahJane, a fast moving sequence build around original footage from an older Venus travel film related to the myth of the Sirens, accompanied by Emma’s music as a soundtrack, or a soundscape synced with the visuals. SarahJane had incredible technical knowledge how to apply filters to make visual effects. Most stunning was their rather improvised audience involvement through a voice choir accompanying the last sequence of an underwater siren sequence. Another fab example, how well the audience can be involved actively, and how improvisation actually works by just doing, being in the space, and feeling resonance among the people and the visuals or music.

The last bit was our work ‘Mindful Resonance Interaction (MRI)’. I was quite nervous, checked with Vicki who was virtual present, sound systems, being concerned about the transmissions of very low pitches. We didn’t foresee any audience involvement or live performing things; it all was about the visual-music experience conveyed through projection and sound. We discussed before the duration of the black screen in the middle of the work just the night before. But having experienced the other works before I was not concerned at all. It is amazing how much space (visually and musically) can be hold when being in that space physically. An experience lacking completely when viewing online, screen based only. For me the big take away: one’s own body has to be in that space. How could embodiment be better explained? We received good feedback related to the photo-painting sequence and the narrative created, at times an disruptive, unstable sequence that worked well with the experience.

Overall, a fantastic day, full of creative energy. We all worked together very well. It was very worth for me to flying over. As one key aspect in my work is embodiment, best experience for me was the necessity of being in the space itself. Kind of summarizing what my parallel project was and is all about. The experience of MRI was a point of departure, it concluded in an experience of visual-sound-music-embodied space experience. I left the venue and the day encouraged and highly motivated and was following up with Vicki to share what I felt and experienced, and feedback received offline. This is another aspect of collaboration: sharing and involving.

 

About the development of the work ‘Mindful Resonance Interaction’

First, we agreed to start wide open, bringing each of us visual and musical sketches into the table aka into the cloud (a shared drive). This was quite a helpful approach, to have a place to share without talking directly to each other (Vicki is based in UK, I am based in Germany) and to get input of what the other had in mind. We discussed themes as body-mind binary opposites, sense of disembodiment inside the MRI machine, the hand outside the machine with the thumb on the emergency button, physical parameters e.g. proton spinning, Lamour frequency, precession, slicing, machine sounds, notation etc.  One reference I added to our discussion was Rasheed Newsome’s Shade Compositions (Furnace, 2017), a combination of stage performance, screening, and sound and voice – it was good to hear that this resonated with Vicki. I do believe that this idea of combining wall screening and stage performance followed through our collaboration. We diverted from this, perhaps more unconsciously mutual agreed on in resonance, it became clear that Vicki couldn’t attend in person. Therefore, we put the stage performance bit aside, and to make it digital only. Somehow, I didn’t feel it would make sense to perform on site/stage alone. 

I did pull from ideas created during my course, kind of spin off ideas informed my ideas about my parallel project. I maintained a dedicated sketchbook for my project, at the beginning it was rather focused around my brain MRI experience, other artist’s work informed by MRI, and my coursework ideas. It developed into a more focused exploration around our collaboration.

A next main phase started midway, when we agreed to structure our work around three parts: an emerging (informed by my reference of arriving in the clinic and before going inside the machine) , an inside the machine (with its percussive, pulsing sound and slicing effect relating to the visual imagery resulting from the process), and a final part that I referred to as Baroque, informed by MRA images of my brain vessels, we called it  ‘Brain Baroque’.

Concerning the Baroque: this is informed by my reading of Deleuze ‘Fold’ (brain as folded matter) and inspired by Helen Chadwick’s work ‘Oval Court’ and her interest in the Baroque, Rococco. I found it helpful to have midway Carla Rees supporting Vicki in finding her way into this theme that she took up and came back with stunning piece of music. 

Concerning uncertainty, I tend to push thinking about final piece away and still being very positive about the process and an outcome. I have to acknowledge that only quite late in the project phase I got some clarity on how things might evolve from my side. 

My first draft (Downey, Schaffeld, 2019b) based on the three part music provided by Vicki established for me a frame around emerging (my portrait with zooming into my eyes) , using original MRI footage and some of my sketchbook ideas to improvise on the idea of slicing alongside the organ sound from Vicki, using original MRA footage of my brain vessels (animated) for the ‘brain baroque’ music, and last taking my same portrait to fade away into blackness as end. 

I was not satisfied with couple of items, e.g., do I want to use original footage? Do I want to illustrate ‘slicing’ through animated movement of still images? how could we make a meaningful finish? I wanted to build in process work, i.e. painting process, and to replace photographs with paintings, all still to be created.

I found it was very helpful that we obtained a combined full piece of work, even in a very raw and sketchy way. It supported us to reflect in structure, on timing, on visual-music resonance. Without that overall impression, I doubt that we would have been able to establish the outcome we presented (see Schaffeld, 2019b).

Few main changes we made: to break the first part down into two sections (a slower and a more dynamic phase) and to break the third part also in two sections (allowing a smoother finish). Vicki came up with the idea of breathing, I related it to departing from the machine into nature. This really got my ideas flowing, to distant myself from rather illustrative visuals, and to relate more to the body. Some further reading done for my critical essay gave me ideas in faces, defacing, and touch and the body. The result was me drawing a sand with the water washing it away. This is what I do relate to the seacoast, for our work I had to improvise and to set up the ‘beach’ on our porch with sand and letting water from our rainwater container run over it to flush it away. All these connotations with drawing a face in sand and the sea informed the last section of our work.

I decided to start the  ‘Brain Baroque’ piece with the original animated footage (was too fascinating for us since the beginning), but merged it with a process painting of watercolor running down (in final piece it is ‘running’ up as I rotated it informed by the uplifting sound and uplifting evolvement of Baroque forms).

To replace my photographed portrait with a painting was the easier bit, and I think that the fact of Vicki being not physical present informed my decision to ask her for a portrait photo and to paint her as well. During the making next steps followed on each other and our two photographs turned into two portrait paintings that turned into one layered combined portrait followed by the first idea of zooming into the eye and into the brain. 

The last, the middle section was perhaps the hardest bit, as I not only questioned the use of original footage for that (too personal? too illustrative? ethics?) as well as the visuals as being just an illustration of the music or of my idea of ‘slicing’. A turning point for me was when I started to depart from being inside the MRI machine and focusing more on my embodiment, my reaction to sound when I was inside. Is music not creating a soundscape that we tend to take in us, triggering images, and last not least make us to move, to feel? What if I would perform not to the original footage but to Vicki’s music? A surrogate perhaps, but more real in the presence, informed by same phenomena of human embodiment. I think after making several performance during daylight and at night with UV light, fluorescent paint on my face, and a check pattern projected onto my body and the background wall (the  pattern was one of those moments of serendipity found during making of other works for my course, informing this project) I did know the music by heart.

 


Supporting Material

Reference

 

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Project 4.5 – Ex. 4.5: 3D colour chart

  • Project 4.5 – Ex. 4.5:  3D colour chart
  • Project 4.5 – Ex. 4.5:  3D colour chart
  • Project 4.5 – Ex. 4.5:  3D colour chart

Color – Mapping a Space

My chosen location was the garden of the South London Botanical Institute, that I visited as part of the ‘Art & Environment’ study weekend with OCA tutors Melissa and Dan (see my reflective account)

Two aspects fascinated me:

  1. The varieties of color of plants and flowers (Fig. 1), with a selection of it embedded in a slide (Fig. 2)
  2. The botanist gaze embodied in the microscopic view (Fig. 3)
Fig. 1: SLBI garden impression

Fig. 1: SLBI garden impression

and my collection (with some ethical concern, feeling myself as a Victorian naturalist, and with an awe for the powerful colors of the specimen)

Fig. 3: SLBI -Plant collection

Fig. 3: SLBI -Plant collection

..specimen to look at, to gaze through the human prosthesis: the microscope. Triggering associations of far away (planets?) and very close (‘inside the body’)

Fig. 3: SLBI - the botanist gaze

Fig. 3: SLBI – the botanist gaze

I wanted to comhine both somehow, with some preliminary experiments informed by project 1 of part 4. My fascination became even more intriguing as I could relate this to my parallel project on medical imaging, the microscope as perhaps the first human prosthesis to look deeper, to discipline the body, to slice, to flatten. My reading of Lisa Cartwright’s ‘Screening the Body’ (1995) supported my interest. 

My aim for this exercise:

  • to match the various colors found,  with my naked eyes in the garden, through the microscope, and through photographic reproductions after my return to my studio space. 
  • to build on, but also to free up from my initial thoughts, and to response more directly to the process of making

 

Preliminary experiments

How to capture color with the idea of microscope? I eventually found that circular shapes would be more suitable than rectangular as advised in the coursematerial. 

Considering the aims of this part of the course, I found that to isolate color as paint from its support might be also an idea to look at. 

Materials used:

  • circular shapes: found plastic lids from yoghurt products. Those lids did remind me of petri dishes (made from glass or plastic( that are typically used in microbiology 
  • paint: acrylic paint and/or Aquacryl paint plus impasto gel or arcrylic adhesive to be able to peel the paint skin from the plastic lids

Some experimental tests (Fig. 4):

Fig. 4: preliminary testing // peelable paint and plastic lids

Fig. 4: preliminary testing // peel-able paint and plastic lids

=> quite satisfied with the performance of the paint (though it took some days till completely dry and peel-able). The obtained paint-disks to work with, not so rigid, with some flexibility. More to see. This triggered some childhood memories: ‘melting crystals’ to create colorful melted, normally round shaped,  stained window pictures (they melt at around 180 C, and we used a kiln for that). Anything to take from this autobiographic experience? Quite astonished by this connotation. Would this trigger in other viewer’s mind childhood memories as well? Perhaps just a side effect, one of many narratives. 

Surface and supporting material: my main reasons are the disk shape resonating with the ocular botanist gaze, and the plastic material (acrylic paint easy to peel of) as found object (found as linguistic gesture of what I found in the garden, at the study visit, when looking through the microscope). Using other surfaces would alter that connotation. 

Next steps: to color match observed garden and microscope colors, and to discern difference between impasto gel and acrylic adhesive as well between acrylic paint (opaque) and aquacryl (transparent). Would it be possible to obtain transparent or translucent disks with light able to shine through? Like the light from a microscope? 

Matching colors

(slider view, click on one image to open Lightbox view – Fig. 5 & 6)

Fig. 5: matching botanic color

Image 1 of 2

matching botanic color

 

=> as envisioned, the plates with acrylic adhesive turned out to be glossy, compared to the mat impasto gel plates. Also, acrylic adhesive itself is transparent compared to impasto gel being rather opaque (surprised me). Further, I noticed that the color adhesive plates are much less transparent, wondering how this could be. Nevertheless, I decided to move on with what I have (and not trying to repeat till I get what I intended to get) and to see how things would work out in space, and under the performative impact of light.

Anatomy of Color

Question: to peel the paint skin of the plate? Or to keep it inside? I decided to peel – not knowing whether this was to best decision  

{xx color disks} in space 

together – alone – flat – in relation – activating the background – being activated by light – mapping

(slider view, click on one image to open Lightbox view – Fig. 7 – 10)

Fig. 7: color in space no1

Image 1 of 4

color in space no1: placing as collection

 

After my various ‘installations’ , still kind of flat though, I sketched down two ideas for more spatial installation: kinetic and negative space (Fig  11)

Fig. 11: color in space no5 - sketchbook ideas

Fig. 11: color in space no5 – sketchbook ideas; kinetic mobile and negative installed space with looking through circles

 

All in all, I am not so satisfied with the outcome. Perhaps, I was too busy with my parallel project and the rather flexible disks seemed to be rather restrictive. Nevertheless, there is something in that I cannot grasp at this point of time.

Naming my colors

Why to name them? For me or for the audience? As title for the work? As list of names as title? A poem? As contextual reference? Or as intentional meaning to guide the viewer? Perhaps, an invitation to connect linguistic and visual cues?

I could name them after the botanical origin, or after some colorant used in microscopic (eg. astra blue, sudan red or safranin). I didn’t find that those name who add to new knowledge, seemed to be rather too illustrative.

My thoughts for names:

  • yellow: ocular round
  • blue: botanist gaze
  • yellow green: nature’s skin
  • blue-green: water of life
  • transparent: transparent body

=> Here I can see how names, playing with connotations, can bridge somehow the gap between context, idea, and aesthetic perception, beyond the functional realm of paint tubes in stores or to nostalgia


Reflection

  • Overall, I was intrigued by my initial response to the idea from garden and microscope. Although, the technical execution of the color-plates was not as intended, I found some spatial arrangements, that went beyond that initial idea. Especially, I was intrigued by the light performance through a projected test-pattern onto the plates. Giving it all together a spatial appeal in a flat environment. Nevertheless, I felt that my direction went a dead end, and will therefore continue in a different direction.
  • The test pattern, laid over the physical paint-skin, adds a sense of artificiality, scientific, or medical appeal to it. I am wondering whether this could work in context of my parallel project.
  • By chance, I was struck reading about Percival Lowell and seeing his sketches and photographs of the Mars, 1905 in context of ‘objectivity’. The images reminded me strongly of my microscope images (see Fig. 3, especially right bottom) His drawings after photographs challenging the question of whether it is ‘objective fact’ (in Lowell’s case the appearance of channels on Mars) or whether to ‘say that the results were from the brain of the retoucher’ (Galison and Jones, 2013:331). I can relate this visual images as mapping (drawings and photographs), mapping similar as MRI works as a mapping device.

Reference:

  • Cartwright, L. (1995) Screening the Body : Tracing Medicine’s Visual Culture. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Galison, P. and Jones, C. A. (2013) Picturing Science, Producing Art. London, New York: Routledge.
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