Artist Statement

I came up with the idea of my project when watching what is considered to be a horror movie, in this case ‘Paranormal Activity’. Due to being bored I wound up wondering why it’s meant to be scary, there I thought it would be fun to question this in my work. I began this by brainstorming popular horror movie figures, including Chucky, Pennywise and Frankenstein etc, eventually branching out into comics and books I’ve read. To begin with I was unsure which medium I wanted to use to translate my work, so I started with what I know best, drawing and painting. Starting with the most popular, I painted the Joker, Chucky and Jigsaw.

From this I then decided to take a risk and start working in the 3d medium of plaster casting, often used for making moulds, but in this case I used to make large masks of the figures faces. Using the 3 paintings and the 4 masks I created, I presented these as my first piece back in the new term. I got alot of positive feedback and it was suggested that I looked into Yayoi Kusama, Mike Kelley and the essay The Uncanny Valley by Masahiro Mori. The essay from that point on, really took hold of my work as it was so similar to what I was trying to do. I then began to hit a wall in the sense of how to show my aim in this work, therefore it was suggested to me how I could show this way of thinking. For week 4 I created a huge mind map comprised of the original paintings and some new ones, ranging from Werewolves and Zombies to the Tooth Fairy from ‘Darkness Falls’ and Jason Voorhees. It was designed to question the fear of these figures, comparing them to people and events that are deemed to not be scary. Comparisons included Wolves and Werewolves, and the fear of Pennywise stemming from killer John Wayne Gacy.

I decided then to try and flip the idea, going from extracting fear from figures to making ordinary objects seem scary, slightly taking on from the Uncanny Valley. Inspired by Mike Kelley, I done a ‘found objects’ idea, painting blood onto an ‘Operation’ board game, and toy baby dolls being turned into scary figures. It was pointed out to me that this was becoming more of a jokative work which wouldn’t give the desired effect. At this point, on week 7, I hit another wall on where to go, and so I dived into research in different artists I had been given. I also decided then to go back to my most successful idea of masks, playing with materials I had on hand, this included latex and polystyrene faces. I was thinking also of Paul Thek’s piece ‘Warriors Leg’ which shows only a leg, nothing more which is both unsettling and interesting. Creating realistic human faces, again referring the Uncanny Valley, I was able to create the desired effect of fear and revulsion due to the skin like effect latex can have, much like how Kiki Smith’s work Soft Bodies does by looking like shedded skin.

For my final piece of this term I settled on the idea of mirrors, possibly because of Yayoi Kusama, showing the idea of how fears are projected onto an object or figure in order to make them appear scary. I had 2 mirrors facing each other with a pile of the latex faces in between them, creating the infinite mirror illusion when seen from a particular angle and leaving the faces to be available to touch, therefore making the fear and revulsion even more of a prominent feature in this work.

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Autumn Term Assessment Week 11

To conclude this term I was required to fill in a self assessment form and to discuss it with my tutor when talking about this term’s work. I was recommended that the best way to mark myself was to go back through my blog and ask myself the questions given in the marking scheme whilst reviewing my work.

Presentation; Does the art work presented provide evidence of appropriate levels of purposeful self-directed inquiry?

For presentation I gave myself a 2:2 (59-50) as I felt that I did develop my ideas through this term, and attempted to work with different variations of my ideas. Examples being in week 1 I presented masks, going on the idea that fear could be projected through something as simple as the face. ‘Unmasking’ the fears in a way.

I then worked on a mind map to connect the fears to objects and people in real life, in a way trying to debunk those fears. I was also introduced to the Uncanny Valley essay, which discusses the idea that if something inhuman begins to look more human it starts to create its own fear factor. This started to impact my work in the idea of how something can appear scary because of its features, even if they’re not made intentionally to be scary.

img_20161019_114445And then after debunking the fears in the mind map I worked on flipping it so as to make something that;s not considered scary, to become scary, beginning in my idea of playing on the theory in the Uncanny Valley.

And then to continue I developed the idea of faces into the idea of making life like faces out of latex. At first I considered painting them but that was advised against, as the reaction I received from the plain latex masks worked much better than the any of the detailed work I had made previously. It also was quite interesting to see that although they looked rather plain they proved the theory of Uncanny Valley to be right, the closer it got to looking human the more scary it became.

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Also with the mirrors it continued my idea of the fear being projected through visual features of the villains in the movies and books we consume. The main idea that kept coming up which made the latex much more successful and worked alongside the Uncanny Valley again, was the feel of the latex, in some of the areas of which I had painted it onto polystyrene faces it was thinner of thicker than others, these differences feeling strange but also giving the impression of skin. This texture resembling skin disgusted a few of the viewers I saw touching the work.

Materiality; Does the presentation demonstrate a considered and experimental use of materials and does it convey meaning/s through materials?

I marked myself a 2:1 (69-60) in this area as I practised with various medias through this terms, dabbling in plaster casting as a sculpture, drawing, painting, using and improving found objects, and finishing with moulding using latex, evidence of which can all be seen above. I was careful in my final piece to ensure that it still met with the Uncanny Valley whilst still playing with materiality.

Contextualisation; Does the work presented indicate an understanding and dialogue with relevant current or historic artworks, artists or genres?

I marked myself a low 2:1 (69-60) in this area as I did feel inspired and referred back to alot of artists and their artworks in my work, in particular Mike Kelley when working on the found objects pieces, Kiki Smith in her pieces involving a look of shedded skin, which I feel that the latex masks could call back too, and Louise Bourgeois, as she used latex and plaster cast a lot through her work, and it seemed in my project this term I kept going back to plaster and latex. Other artists my work refers to include Paul Thek, in particular his piece ‘Warriors Leg’ which I felt played with the Uncanny Valley much more than my work does at this moment in time.

Installation; Does the presentation demonstrate that the work has been edited? Is this reflected in the presentation?

I marked myself down majorly, 3rd (49-40) for this as I felt that the final installation for this term was not my best. I didn’t have enough time to edit it, so once I sketched the idea on how to present it I just had to go with how simple it was despite knowing it wouldn’t look as good as it could do. I hope that I learn from this and make a much better presentation next term so as to raise this mark for the Summative assessment.

Documentation; Does documentation provide evidence of ongoing investigations and show different stages of development? Is text used in a relevant way? Is there selective inclusion of current and historic art work that directly informs your practice?

I marked myself 2:1 (69-60) for this as I do think I included everything relevant to my work, and anything not relevant yet had to be included I also noted in the text. I tried to show my development as clearly as a I could, and I included all extra activities I took part in, and I was very selective in which artworks of artists I was recommended to include, being sure that their link to my work was clear, without writing an essay.

Reflective Writing; Does the written statement reflect upon and inform the reader of your aims and intentions? Does it convey a coherent and structured form and understanding of an art context relevant to your work?

I marked myself on the edge of 2:1 (69-60) and 2:2 (59-50) for this as I was unsure. In the limited amount of words I was allowed I didn’t get as much as I wanted in there, and felt with about 100 more words or so I would have been able to get it to the way I would be happy with, but I don’t think I babbled too much either. I tried to link the artists to their influences in my work, which I think I did do as clearly as I could limited, and I also think I did show the aims I had, and what I plan to continue with in the next term.

My tutor agreed with me on most of my works, and agreed that I should continue my ideas on using the Uncanny Valley and playing with plinths in my next term. She encouraged me to continue with sculpture, describing it to be stronger than my 2d works. Overall this term I think I could have done much better, and I hope to grow from this to create better works and therefore get better grades.

Week 10 Feedback

It was agreed this week that the presentation did let the piece down, but the fact that it has coloured even further to the point that the old and new look almost the same did work very well in giving the message of fear and revulsion. I was told I should definitely keep going into horrifying the art space itself, giving me some ideas for next term already. When I arrived this morning I was delighted to see that a lot of the masks was moved, in particular the one hanging from the side of the plinth. I wasn’t happy to realise that some of them had gone missing, for what I don’t want to think why.

It was suggested I start to play with other forms of casting, moulding and continue to make sculpture pieces, as they work much better than my 2d works.

Overall, it was generally all around agreed that with a bit more time put into the presentation of the work that it would have been much more effective, but as an experiment in this project I’m still working on it did turn out well. For next term I have been encouraged to not hold back on using the plinth as a work itself, as I was hesitant to present a wrecked plinth as part of a piece, on the idea that I didn’t want to ruin the integrity of a tool used in the world of art. But if I was less hesitant I could have used this tool as another means of revulsion and fear, having things come out from it would work well, and would hit artists and viewers who expect a clean pillar in a stronger way.

Week 9 Exhibition

Today was the last day I was allowed to play with the piece I plan to exhibit, and I’m really not happy with how it turned out. I think that the masks really do portray the fear and revulsion I wanted to give, but I think the presentation is seriously lacking.

When I arrived this morning to apply the finishing touches I realised that the latex had continued to set, so now the masks I had left in the studio was now starting to look brown, almost like they had received a tan. I found this unexpected development brilliant as it means the piece will continue to change due to the change of colouring happening in the latex so rapidly. I also found that the masks had been moved around, so there was evidence already of the piece being interacted with before it was even complete.

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I placed my new ones on top of the old whilst leaving some poking out understand, giving the masks a nice contrast of colours with each other, the old mixed in with the new. I also played with the arrangement, and settled on placing one mask almost in limbo of balance, although it was completely secure it looks set to fall off quite easily. I also was able to give the plinth another coat of paint before I ran out of time entirely.

If I had more time  I would have liked to be able to either borrow, or make, 2 more plinths, and have the mirrors placed separately away from the masks while still facing them. I also would have liked to have some hanging from the ceiling so that the faces look like they’re floating. Overall though, I think with the little amount of time I left myself due to other module commitments and my mental health, I was happy to get it up.

Preparing for Exhibition

Although I don’t have enough of my masks finished yet I wanted to ensure I have my space during the exhibition so I began to set it up today. I brought in 2 mirrors, plain wooden mirrors so as to not draw attention to them too much, and started to place the latex faces and the skull on and around them. This is a close up of the skull on the mirror, as I forgot to take more pictures of the positioning. Due to the lack of time I have left I have to go with the simple version of installation that I came up with, as the much more complex ideas I have will take too much time and I won’t be prepared for the exhibition. I will take notes of this when I come to the assessment to leave myself more time to make a much more impactful piece.

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As of this moment it is just a a small pile of latex masks in between 2 mirrors on a tall plinth, which looks rather badly damaged and is in need of a paint job. I did have a clean plinth but it got stolen this week, much to my dismay, so I have had to use one from the shed. Another thing to take note of, write name somewhere inside plinth to prove ownership if stolen again.

I painted a coat of white paint on it today, as well as sanded down the edges to try and improve it’s appearance but I still am not happy with it. I will try and fit in some time to come back and paint a few more coats on.

Latex Experiments

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Using thickener and a polystyrene head I have begun experimenting with making latex faces, playing on the idea that we project our fears upon them.

The amazing thing about latex is that not every face will look the same, depending on how thick I layer the latex, how detailed I go into or whether I allow it to drip etc. Experiments are going well, still yet to decide which way I want to present them in.