The interim exhibition happened 4 months prior to the final exhibition that myself and my fellow colleagues on the Digital Arts MA will curate and put up at the end of September. We called our interim exhibition, In the Works and it consisted of 2 spaces. One space was the Project Space at the Stephen Lawrence Gallery which focused on pieces of work we had created and finalised to be exhibited as a part of Aesthetics and Practice . The other space was the Heritage Gallery located at the Old Royal Naval College (the older campus site) in Queen Anne Court were we exhibited works which were in their development stages. The gallery below is of selected photographs from the Heritage Gallery.
Based on previous experiments, the way they were received from viewers and their development, this interim exhibition became a chance to establish a more solid concept for this project. This establishment started with the creation of something physical followed by reflecting on it. The physical creation is what could only be described as a hypothetical portal.
I wanted to create something more tactile as a lot of the work I make is video based and strives to be immersive, I thought about bringing the world I create within the short films outside into the physical world. Allowing the barrier between these worlds to leak through and become more fluid. The process I followed for this mock up was to create a border out of a hard cardboard material and then to create a base which would hold the fibre filling without making the middle substance too dense. I then weaved the fibre filling through the thread.
As already mentioned the aim of this object I had created was to work as a hypothetical portal, however what I was really interested in with this particular experiment is to get a feeling of how light would work with the fibre filling material. I wanted to create something dreamy and magical and also to experiment with projection and light. Light plays a main role in my practice, I strive to use it in ways which transform the worlds I’m presenting into the unknown and unrecognizable, colour also plays a part in this but without light my work would not exist and so I find it to be the most important aspect. In this experiment a projector was used to emit light onto this mock up portal and so what I anticipated was for the softness of the fibre filling material to create a very smooth surface for the projection and give it a sort of lightness suggesting the fragility of the threshold between different realities. Whilst it’s lack of density to let light leak through and extend the existence of the portal beyond its physical structure. As I look to take the viewer of my work out of the borders of the screen and into another reality, dimension or state of mind. The existence of a sculpture in space but also a sculpture which is not confined to its physicality has potential in doing so.
As the previous experiment was successful conceptionally, although maybe not technically I did continue with its development into a more refined as well as large sculpture. When it comes to process, this time around PVA glue became the thing that holds it all together. The process included sketching out a mirror like wooden frame with a base to be developed later. I went on with mixing PVA with water and dunking the fibre filling in a bucket of this mixture, later pulling it apart and lining it up on the frame. There was a good 12 hours waiting period for everything to dry, when the fibre filling took on a more rough texture, whilst keeping its fragility in reality and aesthetic. One thing I would’ve done differently to save time would be to attach the base to the oval before I start adding the fibre filling. The reason behind it being that in order to attach the base I had to stand up the whole frame and make sure it is all even and balanced, however he fibre filling had not yet dried and it could have detached from the frame as the wetness was pulling its weight..
Other aspects which I would reconsider are the choice of materials and weather the projection truly needs to be graphics or pure light being emitted is more than enough when considering the concept. When it comes to the fibre filling as a material I am confident and happy with my choice, however the wooden frame and base still have a very mock up feel. Although we cannot see them in the dark and the projection needs to happen in darkness for the world within the portal to come to life, I am still wary of where I will be exhibiting and that there is not space with complete darkness. The idea of repurposing used mirror frames can be considered or possibly a different type of mood and colour for the frame. Also the possibility of using sandbags was brought up as a way of balancing the portal. As I was also considering to create multiple portals there is also the option of creating a triptych mirror design where the portals are connected in structure and work as support to each other without needing a stand. The idea of making a concrete block also came up. Materiality wise that would be a juxtaposition to the light fibre filling material.
Two other aspects I would like to touch upon are scale and shape. The circle shape is a repetitive theme within my work and so is repetition, a circle in a sense is repetition or a loop and this notion of the never ending is something that no one will ever experience, in reality. However the sense of the never ending has been experiences by many, and it comes with negative and positive connotations. The never ending could be something that has become repetitive and dull, but it can also be a place of nothingness. I’m referring to something similar to what I explore in Blue Esc., an infinite psychological space, or the notion of escapism.
Scale on the other hand is something I always struggle with. Taking in consideration that my work is abstract and the spaces I present do not exist or at least not in the way I present the, the scale can be anything, there are no boundaries or regulations I have to follow. And because my aim is to really immerse the viewer, create almost a simulation or simulacra of an imaginary place, I am drawn to large scale as a way of overpowering the senses and overtaking of the physicality of the space of the gallery. Even erasing the space as it is and that space become the place that my work presents.
For the projection onto the portal, I mapped a video I had previously taken of glass segments and the way they reflect light. I now question whether there was something poetic or rather ironic about using a video of glass onto a sculpture which imitates a mirror structure? Also I question if it matters what the substance of the video is when the material it is projected onto is disrupting its clarity. It instead uses the colours, movement and the light the projector emits rather than focusing on the visuals of the projection. I also previously mentioned that the light is what my work really relies on and, as the visuals are not clear are they even necessary or would just light or even a flicker of light work better. Thinking back to my work Expressions and the flicker it incorporated which was embedded from the process, using a flicker of light for this work rather than visuals/ graphics would in fact work better in transporting the viewer into the in-between place, hovering between realities, slightly intrusive but also creating a sort of a fog for ones thoughts, detaching them from their physical surroundings.
If I were to continue this aspect of my work, it would work as a part of an installation rather than be exhibited individually. I imagine having 3 portals, each portal referring to a different reality. I would like to reference 2 realities or states of mind I have already explored in my masters, which are presented in my works Expressions and Blue Esc., through the colours used in them, yellow and blue. The final portal would be a reference to the final film I create which would focus on consciously exploring an alternate reality, meaning that the protagonist would be aware of their existence in an alternate reality unlike in previous works, yet they would not have control of their existence there. It would be almost like an awakening but not quite because the protagonist would potentially still be experiencing a state of mind out of the ordinary, possibly a dream or a different reality. I suppose this piece would be more of a question and less of a statement. Which ‘reality’ is real, maybe they all are?
In The Works. Heritage Gallery
01.06.21 – 13.06.21
When it came to installing the piece I initially wanted to have the portal near a wall, a plinth in the space and project at a straight line. That proved to be too confined, it didn’t make use of the space, neither did it allow the light to really make a statement. What I then tried was to have the plinth by the wall and attempt to activate the space by positioning the portal in a way that some may call awkward. Looking back at it now, I wonder what it would look like if the portal appear to have fallen over. Could I have some upright and some fallen portal when it comes to the development of the piece?
I am also not sure about the white plinth. I did have an idea of painting it in different colours so it becomes more of a part of the work and less of a plinth, but possibly I will have to use something that is not a plinth at all in order to achieve this effect. I also need to consider whether I would like to hide the projector or having it out in the open is fine. The Project Space in the Stephen Lawrence Gallery does have walls at a very convenient height, where one could prop the projectors. Or if I use sandbags to prop the portal, could I possibly use sandbags to hold up the projectors too? Just thinking about the way the TV’s were dug into piles of white dust at the heather Phillipson Exhibition. I imagine the projector to be ‘stuck’ similarly in a pile of sandbags.
The above is a moving poster I created on after effects as promotional material for the In The Works Exhibition. The visuals were made by Yi Ting Liong on Illustrator, I simply used the different shades as puzzle pieces which piece together.