Recently, I have been researching the artist Heidi Bucher and the entwinement of built space, body and time. I thought it would be beneficial to take the opportunity to see more of her work first hand. It was exciting to see such a diverse range of her work which included the skinnings, glue houses, frottage rubbings, and latex suits to name but a few. A worthwhile trip!
Recently, I explored the delightful sights of Nottingham where I visited the exhibition House of Fame at the Nottingham Contemporary, as well as artist led spaces - Primary, BACKLIT and the Surface Gallery.
The exhibition House of Fame was convened by Linder Sterling, the first artist in residence at Chatsworth House who engages with gender, commodity and display by creating photomontages and carefully selecting key influential artists and artefacts from the Chatsworth collection. Whilst appearing to be a random assortment of work, this eclectic mix provides an insight into the complexities of an artists mind and their subsequent influences, whether that's other practitioners or the environment they are working in. In celebration of her achievements spanning 40 years, Sterling provides a platform for artists that she is inspired by to share the limelight from Moki Cherry to Heidi Bucher, the latter of which, called to me the most.
Artist Heidi Bucher creates "room skins" that preserve architectural spaces through the use of latex and gauze (see image below).
In addition to the Nottingham Contemporary, it was a pleasure to visit artist led spaces Primary, Backlit and the Surface Gallery. This provided a wonderful opportunity to see how collectives have set up spaces to work and exhibit. For me, Primary was a fantastic example in how an art community can be formed where people have the opportunity to be creative, collaborate and give back to the organisation by delivering workshops, organising exhibitions and engaging with the community. It is my hope that something similar might be formed in Lincoln in the future, fingers crossed!
‘Postman Time’ was a collaborative performance between MA Fine Art and Drama, which was inspired by Hans Ulrich Obrist who curated an event called ‘Il Tempo Del Postino’. For me, the concept of ‘Postman Time’ was to allocate time rather than space to creative practitioners to deliver a piece of work. What they did with that freedom was up to them and it was this freedom that led me to consider surface rubbings as a live performance, initially inspired by Do Ho Suh’s apartment.
As I am interested in revealing hidden histories and raising awareness of materiality, I decided to produce a live surface drawing where an element of the space was covered by newsprint but slowly revealed through surface rubbings. My initial intention was to amplify the sound of this process by using contact mics, unfortunately these were not sensitive enough for the live performance, which meant that a pre-recording was required. This led to an interesting dialogue where the sound would sync and fall out of sync so that it became a dance between current and past time. Once the performance had concluded, the surface drawing was torn down to reveal the fireplace underneath where the fragments were subsequently given to members of the audience as a memento of the space.
Overall, this was a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with creative practitioners from other disciplines and work in an alternative space. This has led me to consider new ways of working, which I hope will lead to some ambitious work that envelopes whole rooms and environments. Keep an eye out for some exciting developments in the future!
Video to follow.
In August, I received an email saying that my proposal had been accepted for the Frequency Festival of Digital Culture 2017, which was a surprise seeing as the project in question didn't exist yet. My initial proposal intended to create an interactive, site-specific response to a place utilising projected visuals from the archives but in reality, the end result was very different... By early September, I had chosen the Lincoln Guildhall as my venue and point of focus. It was an intuitive decision more than anything as I was struck by the fact that as a local to the area, I had never been in the building but had often walked underneath it. After speaking to the Mayors Officer, I found myself drawn to the local guilds and how they had been dissolved despite their power and influence between the 14th and 16th Century. These were essentially early trade unions which were designed to protect members, maintain standards and regulate businesses in the local area.
As I studied the archives, I began to formulate a list of local historic guilds which could be reintroduced into the space. I decided to focus on craft-based rather than religious guilds as I thought it important to celebrate the craftsmanship which helped build the city, both literally and metaphorically. These ranged from specialisms such as: butchers, shoemakers (cobblers), stone masons, bakers, plasterers, bricklayers, pavers, pointers, blacksmiths, textile workers (weavers, dyers and fullers) etc etc.
As a heritage site it contained fixed furniture and narrow walk ways which placed some limitations on what could be achieved in the space and in the time allocated. Ultimately, I wanted to produce work that sensitively responded to the place and create a dialogue. This led me to consider sound rather than visual material because for me, the visual was already there; I was simply introducing a subtle element into the space which drew the viewers attention to an element of time and history. The description for the site-specific response was as follows:
In Sian Wright's site-specific installation, 'disPLACEment' is introduced in sounds recorded from local trades that are displaced into the historic Guildhall. The Esoteric explores perception and spatial experience in response to the Guildhall, which is designed to reflect the local area and its history.
Interested in perception and interaction with space, The Esoteric creates an immersive experience that presents a dialogue between memory and place. Archived material has been used to inform the selection of sounds introduced into the very essence and action of the space highlighting notions of 'the present and the absent, the near and the distant, the sensed and the imagined.'
Sian Wright explores how buildings and places structure our understanding of reality and the fluidity of time. With an interest in aesthetics and immersive experience, she embraces a multi-disciplinary approach which typically encompasses print, photography and installation.
To conclude, it's been an eye opening experience to develop a site-specific installation for Frequency Festival, especially working in an unfamiliar medium! I feel as though my work with sound is just the beginning and that this project has kick started my practice into the exploration of place which had otherwise become stagnant this past year. Whilst it has been a tad stressful, it has been a worthwhile journey and I look forward to continuing my research utilising conceptually appropriate mediums rather than just falling back on the familiar.
I don't know how it happened, but somehow it's already May 2017. I told myself that I would blog at least once a month and my previous blog post dates December 2016... THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. Anyway, what have I been up to? Good question. For those of you who read my blog which are probably very few, I bought an Intrepid large format camera which arrived in the new year. It's taken five months to get round to using it but I got there. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the first decent test image I've taken:
I've had a few problems regarding film development, dropping my wet negatives on the carpet were one of them so excuse the flecks of dust.
For whatever reason, FP4+ film and Rodinal have produced mixed results for me so I've ended up using the standing development technique for the first time. Unfortunately, as I was using the MOD54 there is a gradation in tonality where the image is darker at the bottom than the top. If this was developed in a tray I think this technique would have worked really well, particularly for lazy people who can't be bothered to agitate!
Those of you unfamiliar with processing black and white film, you would normally load the film in a spool/holder in the dark and dip the film in developer, stopper and fixer chemicals for specific amounts of time. Throughout the development phase, you would agitate for 5-10s every minute to ensure that the film processes evenly but with standing development, you just agitate for the first few minutes and leave it for an hour in a water bath (optional). With standing development, it produces the appearance of a sharper image by contrasting the blacks and highlights very similar to an unsharp mask but it can result in haloing. This can work in some images but not for all.
People might wonder why there is a fascination with analogue film when digital photography is more cost effective and produces immediate results which has streamlined the entire industry. To put it in simple terms, a normal full frame DSLR is the equivalent to a 35mm frame which takes an approximate image of 22-32mb. A large format 5x4" film is the equivalent to 200mb; that's 8K. New televisions don't usually reach this resolution! Now, I am often quick to judge when someone preaches about how more mega pixels equals a better image. It's really not. If you have an awesome camera but a poor bit of glass then you may as well be looking through fog.
Next purchase... two more lenses to complete the large format kit for my trip to Normandy this summer. Watch this space!