GCD: Contextualizing the "Site Specific Type" project
GCD: Site Specific Type - Dear Data (2016) Video
GCD: Site Specific Type - Impressions (2015) by Thomas Kilpper
GCD: Site Specific Type - Jaemin Lee (Artist & Conceptual Research)
GCD: Site Specific Type - Jaemin Lee (Annotated Article Research)
GCD: Contextualizing the "Lost Letters" Project
The only form of printmaking that I’ve worked with was linocut. I thoroughly enjoyed the process though the carving can be a bit tedious and draining. The designs and illustrations that I’ve created on linocut have been predominantly ethnic as opposed to illustrating a character, so I decided to look into more printmaking illustrators that have created prints for conventional purposes of prints such as movies, books, posters and many more for this project. It has come to my understanding that the project entails the shape and form of a letter, number and/or characters rather than considering a character’s function to spell words. So the illustrations I looked at were ones that gave off appearances of prints and quite simplistic shapes in illustration. The research is spread over a variety of media such as prints, linocut, film, animation and GIFs.
GCD: Lost Letters - Women of WOT by Sofia Niazi
GIFs in popular culture today are often referenced to the humorous ways of the internet. Spread across memes, movie quotes and many more, this illustrator has fused GIFs with captivating illustrations. London-based artist Sofia Niazi gets real political with a series of GIFs she created to narrate stories of women of the war on terror. Because GIFs are played on a constant loop, the artist has used the repetition inherently to depict the haunting sensations of loneliness and routine. Therefore, the illustrative GIFs only emphasises repetition and routine in a melancholy tone. Though the tone of the GIFs are somber, the series seems to scream “happy” due to the clean lines and bright colours of the artist’s illustrative style. The narratives reveal the daily habits of women facing the irreparable damages of the War On Terror. These included being left behind by their husbands who were facing arrest, deportation and other unfortunate circumstances.
The GIFs simply depict domestic routines that women do as mothers and wives such as scrolling through the TV channels and setting the table. Seeing the GIF of the woman setting the table, it’s as if the loneliness was screaming at me because the illustration shows her setting the table for her family, though the question that rings true is “Where is her family?”. Therefore, the continuous loneliness that is being communicated through these GIFs literally loops on forever, giving the impression that the story is dragging though time moreover, showing the powerful effectiveness of utilising GIFs as a media in the favour of the message Niazi conveyed.
Sofia Niazi commented on Women of WOT to The Huffington Post:
"I was looking at the daily routines that had emerged for some of the women after their family members had been arrested, detained or extradited and was struck by how repetitive and difficult their situations must have been," Niazi explained to The Huffington Post. "I was exploring ways of storytelling through the internet and it felt really appropriate to explore these routines using GIFs. I hope the GIFs and images communicate the everyday reality that people, these women and families, are confronted with and the maddening repetition of their prolonged situations.”
Personally, I love the political motivation behind Niazi’s illustrations, it elevates the idea of meaning behind art on such a powerful level. The commitment it takes to address issues that mainstream media conventionally does not address brings that much more perspective in art today. The artist has vocally expressed art’s ability to articulate the sentiments of a movement or phenomenon that is bigger than the artist herself. Additionally, the ability to communicate and from people about certain issues shows the evolution of art and design. Illustrations in this case are no longer constrained to just books and animations and has transcended politically in the world today.
In relation to the lost letters project, I wanted to explore Niazi’s use of GIF as inspiration for creating an animation based on the final print. Because it is a short animation, I wanted to find gestures that look continuous and constant so that my animation can be played on a loop. The idea of repetition as manifested by Niazi creates a sad and lonely tone, which is why I wanted to explore how versatile repetition and continuity can be in provoking a mood and creating an atmosphere when I’m going to bring my lost letter print to life by animation.
- Frank, Priscilla. “Striking GIFs And Illustrations Depict The Women Of The War On Terror.”HuffPost UK, HuffPost, 8 Oct. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/sofia-niazi_n_5903274.
GCD: Lost Letters - Christoph Niemann tells brutal truth of creative process (for Wired.com)
GCD: Lost Letters - Sunday Sketching (2016) by Christoph Niemann
People like to say that “practice makes perfect”, well this quote is what comes to my mind when looking at Christoph Niemann’s series of doodles titled, “Sunday Sketching”. Not only does the book feature a collection of whimsical illustrations, but I believe that the book is Niemann’s manifesto on working creatively. This book holds the artist’s innovative observations of contemporary life as manifested through sketches. The manifesto is Niemann’s guidelines through his creative process and how he’s conquered both internal and external obstacles that people in creative careers often face. The illustrations incorporate everyday items from an avocado to a set of highlighters as he follows the items’ shape to create illustrations that are witty, essentially allowing the audience to perceive the items from a different perspectives when tied with the illustrations he’s drawn around these everyday items. For instance, a fork is no longer a fork when Christoph Niemann has doodled a head with a pair of ears, antlers and a long mouth on top of the fork handle, it is now a giraffe. I’ve come to learn the importance of practice in illustration and in any field of work or hobby as a matter of fact. It was really refreshing to observe Niemann’s philosophy of his art as it merely stresses the crucial habit to keep drawing in essence. The artist claims that the idea of practicing and doodling isn’t just for the sake of getting better but it also gives the freedom where your ideas can happen organically when creating art. The ability of open-mindedness and finding inspiration is not about what you like or dislike, it’s about inviting inspiration as opposed to just choosing what you feel as an artist is right or wrong. This point of research is not necessarily directed to the printmaking project but rather a factor in deciding which pathway I want to specialise in. From my innate habit to gravitate towards cartoons I’ve always had a passion for illustration, though I feel like I have not done enough to create illustrations, but the option is very much open to consideration for me. Moreover, looking at an artist like Christoph Niemann was really eye-opening in adjusting my creative process and different experimentations and approaches towards practicing illustration.
- Niemann, Christoph. “In ‘Sunday Sketching,’ Christoph Niemann Tells the Brutal Truth About the Creative Process.” Wired, Conde Nast, 1 May 2017, www.wired.com/2016/12/sunday-sketching-christoph-niemann-tells-brutal-truth-creative-process/.
- Bromwich, Kathryn. “Christoph Niemann's Sunday Sketches – in Pictures.” The Observer, Guardian News and Media, 24 Jan. 2015, www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2015/jan/24/christoph-niemanns-sunday-sketches-in-pictures.
- Quito, Anne. “‘It’s an Exercise in Seeing’: An Artist’s Mind-Opening Ritual of Doodling on Sundays.” Quartz, Quartz, 13 Nov. 2016, qz.com/833574/its-an-exercise-in-seeing-illustrator-christoph-niemann-shares-the-mind-opening-benefits-of-doodling-on-sundays/.
GCD: Contextualizing the "Poetic Cardboard" Project
The research conducted for this project mainly concentrates on the exploration on possible ideas and themes in relation to the words 'social environment' which constitutes the portrayal and message of the final project outcome. My partner and I were confused on how different messages are executed through design and how the arrangement determines how the clear the message will be to viewers. Therefore, I found it helpful to look at different examples of political art that draws in themes of social, environmental, economical and many other serious topics. Design inspirations and layouts were also helpful in guiding the project to obtain an aesthetic that fits the theme of the project.
GCD: Poetic Cardboard - Between Spring Collection (1998) by Hussein Chayalan
Though I’m not the biggest fan of fashion, I find that I tend to gravitate towards art that makes me uncomfortable. Instead of avoiding it at first glance, I look into it more and this fashion show done by Hussein Chayalan is just one of my curiosities of the unpleasant. This fashion show showcased Chayalan's “Between Collection” comprised of experimental and futuristic aesthetics stressing on the status of Muslim women. This theme connotes on things such as how a simple hemline could discern such meaning within the religion. The image above shows the finale of the fashion show where a group of women were lined up wearing black chadors each of varying lengths. As you scan the models from left to right, the first model’s chador is extended all the way from head to toe, while the last model’s chador is barely covering her face, with her bare naked body exposed. It was clear that the intention of the finale was to stress the idea of what should and what shouldn’t be revealed of a woman’s body within Islamic norms. The fashion show in essence communicates a social issue that challenges the boundaries of a woman’s body foremost Muslim women. Though the execution of the message was unsettling to see for me personally, I believe that the artist’s approach in portraying the message made a clear, bold and powerful statement that essentially challenges the religious ideals of women within Islamic society. Coming from Indonesia, where Muslim citizens rule the majority of the population, I was able to relate the theme addressed by the artist and draw connections to stories my Muslim friends have told me about how they as women practice the Muslim religion. The diversity in religions and cultures of Asia have made me more familiar and exposed to numerous of different ideas that I felt connects deeply to the terms “social environment” in the poetic cardboard project. Therefore, looking at this fashion show allowed me to conduct a more expansive research as to the different perspectives I could take the message that I'm trying to convey in relation to the assigned words for the project. It was a matter of comparing, political, social and economical problems to really allow engagement and discussion within the making and thought-process when working with my partner to create the outcome.
Source taken: “Chalayan Spring 1998 Ready-to-Wear Fashion Show.” Vogue, Vogue, 17 Sept. 1997, www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-1998-ready-to-wear/chalayan.
GCD: Poetic Cardboard - Relation in Time (1977) by Marina Abramovic & Ulay
The full video of "Relation In Time" is available in this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA_hFywUtHo
Because the poetic cardboard outcome was intended for something to be documented by photograph or moving image, the idea of creating a performance piece was definitely apparent in problem-solving the poetic cardboard brief. I believe that a performance piece is intended to evoke a feeling along with a simple aesthetic that is frequently seen with performance art.
Marina Abramovic and Ulay’s performance of “Relation in Time” is a testament of patience and tolerance. The art couple sat back to back quietly while being connected to each other by their hair for a total of seventeen hours. The whole process was filmed privately however, their performance was open to the public at the final hour. This performance again exemplifies the simplicity that is so transparent when communicating a message. Similarly, I’ve looked at Ai Weiwei’s work of which carries a simplistic aesthetic within his respective media. This performance was compiled with a fusion of other performances done by the duo under the same title project. Initially when watching this, I felt that the performance was dragging through time. The attached ponytails made me feel uncomfortable in a sense that I would have never had the patience to experiment with performances that involved waiting. However, I do commend the commitment for the long hours it took to create this. To me, this performance communicates patience between male and female counterparts. It challenges interaction between the opposite gender and it’s fascinating to see the gradual fatigue after several hours. I love finding irony in art, in this case, the performance showcases the process of interaction and the heavy reliance on each other’s physical and mental stamina, yet they are still facing back to back which conventionally represents disconnect and/or separation. It was amazing to see the artists capture a moment where eventually after spending all those hours, the duo reaches a state of harmony of the body and mind. It was as if the two counterparts have achieved a sense of equilibrium, which embodies a calming and sincere moment in time.
Extract from an article written by LIMA (Wesbite on art preservation):
“Ulay and Abramovic have to rely on their mental strength to be able to sit still for seventeen hours, without speaking. This process of the submission of the body to the mind is a central element in ancient eastern meditation. John Cage, who was an influence to Ulay and Abramovic, called this 'activity within inactivity'. Abramovic, referring to the 'Relation work' in general: 'We became a kind of polarity. He presented the male energy and I presented the female energy, and we tried to combine them'. From the very outset of their cooperation, in 1976, Ulay and Abramovic regarded themselves as 'androgynous', as a unity containing both male and female elements. This idea derives from Greek, Chinese and American Indian sources that describe the melting together of man and woman, resulting in a state of absolute harmony.”
The performance definitely gave me ideas to explore outcomes involving moving image in order to create a simplistic visual as possible approach for the poetic cardboard.
Source taken: “Relation In Time.” LIMA Preserves, Distributes and Researches Media Art, www.li-ma.nl/site/catalogue/art/abramovic-ulay/relation-in-time/8039.
GCD: Poetic Cardboard - Incoming (2015) by Richard Mosse
GCD: Poetic Cardboard - Incoming (2015) by Richard Mosse (Annotated Article Research)
As a different approach of researching, I've decided to annotate an article review on Richard Mosse's "Incoming". The article I've chosen to annotate was one written by Eliza Williams for the Creative Review website. I thought that by trying this approach, I am able to get clear insight and learn from a credible perspective regarding Mosse's work within the context of graphics.
*Note: Article with my annotations are seen on the right-hand side column.
Clearly, it is evident that the article review speaks highly about Mosse's visuals and how it correlates with political issues and ideas regarding war-struck countries today. I found the article to be very insightful and informative as it carefully dissects the message that is being communicated by the artist. By looking at the article along with adding my personal notes and opinions, I am able to examine and obtain a deeper understanding regarding Mosse's work analytically.
To view the full collection of "Incoming", it's available on this link: http://www.richardmosse.com/projects/incoming
- Williams, Eliza. “Richard Mosse on Incoming, a Striking New Installation.” Creative Review, 17 Feb. 2017, www.creativereview.co.uk/richard-mosse-striking-new-exhibition-barbican/
- Waywell, Chris. “Richard Mosse: Incoming.” Time Out London, 17 Apr. 2017, www.timeout.com/london/art/richard-mosse-incoming.
- Seymour, Tom. “Richard Mosse – Incoming.” British Journal of Photography, 4 Apr. 2017, www.bjp-online.com/2017/02/mosse/#closeContactFormCust00.
GDC: Site Specific Type - Dear Data (2016), Stefanie Posavec & Giorgia Lupi
Christoph Niemann previously stressed the idea of incorporating sketching and drawing in your daily life in his book “Sunday Sketching”. It seems that more artists have communicated this common philosophy only this time, it’s with postcards and data-keeping. “Dear Data” was a project created by longtime pen-pals and friends Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec. These two information designers have turned quantitative data into beautiful drawings that were sent weekly to each other representing a collection of data each person measured in their daily life. It was the duo’s way of getting to know each other analogically. The idea of analog data drawing has since popularised the design world. Though this inspiration does not directly use typography, I feel that this research concentrates on the idea of meaning and different approaches behind text within art. What Lupi and Posavec were able to do with this project is beautifully execute information both quantitative and qualitative, through drawing instead of generic postcard letters. I myself am a big fan of sending postcards and still feel a sense of excitement when I receive mail from my friends and family. In this modern world of social media and instant messaging, everything is so fast-paced that people don’t stop to notice their surroundings anymore. What “Dear Data” entails is the importance of being aware of your environment and taking notice of the things you never thought you’d pay attention to. By collecting data, it represents the manifestation of the world through analogical information. Additionally, the style of these postcard drawings are clearly innate and done routinely as it shows the spontaneity and the resemblance of doodles, thus showing the clear observational effort to create these drawings. In relation to site specific text, I feel that you have to have a sense of curiosity and attentiveness to realise text in surrounding spaces. Text design should not always rely on colour, shape or boldness to attract the audience, but also trust in the keen eye of observant people. Which is why I feel that this project really gets you to evaluate your surroundings and accept all the information that is out in the world as it allows ideas to happen organically. As a result, it made me look at spaces for text in places that I never thought could incorporate text to further compliment space for this project. Furthermore, the relationship to text and space implies the idea of bringing design and typography out into the world for people to physically see as opposed to designs on a digital platform. It does not only create aesthetics but also elevates design out into the world for people to appreciate and understand.
More information about the “Dear Data” project: http://www.dear-data.com/theproject
GCD: Site Specific Type - Comedy Carpet by Why Not Associates
GCD: Site Specific Type - Why Not Associates' Andy Altman on the creating process of Comedy Carpet
Text is incorporated in our everyday life. It represents our individual voices, opinions, information and encircles all knowledge and news that we are exposed to day to day. This collaborative project by Gordon Young with Why Not Associates encapsulates text’s innate ability to make impressions information, only this time the project makes text more interactive to the audience, witty, and well, just BIGGER. Situated in front of the Blackpool Tower, the Comedy Carpet pays homage to thousands of comedians and is celebration of British comedy. The carpet is made up of visuals of jokes, references, quotes and catchphrases stemmed from numerous comedians. The first thing that drew me in about this carpet was the humungous size of the carpet. I wanted to explore the significance of size when creating text on site and how it provokes viewers to engage with the art. Experimenting with scale with reference to this project, it would be clear that possible outcomes for this project will not at all be subtle. The Comedy Carpet has made itself a platform (literally) on an extraordinary scale. Moreover, allowing audiences to laugh and enjoy as one of the tower’s notable features of the attraction. Being new in London, I would love to explore the UK more and I’d consider this project to be worth seeing in person. I especially like that the artist did not shy away from mixing different fonts and styles within one carpet. It’s as if the carpet resembles a standardised collage of newspaper clippings due to the bold fonts and the aesthetic of headlines the carpet conveys. With relation to the project, this definitely gives me more ideas of large scale texts on site if I were to develop the project on to a bigger scale.
GCD: Lost Letters - Scoutboy by Jack Fletcher
My favourite part of illustration is the coherent style of figures and drawings that are so childlike in appearance. Though cartoons and illustrations are targeted to all ages, I love illustrations that are often childlike as it gives illustrations the lighthearted tonality that comes with characters and illustrative figures that have potentials to be humorously animated. This print by Jack Fletcher clearly exemplifies the childlike nature of illustrations that I find so enjoyable to create and observe. Art and design nowadays are often political and serious in conveying messages, which is why it’s nice to see illustrators continue the humorous approach in drawing and designing as I believe that it represents a fresh perspective in developing characters within illustration. Within the context of the lost letter printmaking project, I wanted to explore the simplistic tone of shapes that can create shapes or characters that often appear aesthetically childlike and lighthearted.
Fletcher has simply illustrated on print a boy scout. I find the image humorous foremost through the childlike appearance of the print but also in the irony of the childlike style along with the gesture that is being conveyed in the print. The boy scout is seem smoking a cigarette (which is an adult thing to do) while remaining to look childlike based on the artists stylistic elements of the print, which I thought was profoundly refreshing and interesting. Within the context of graphics, this takes into account the possibilities of conveying messages through a lighthearted tone. It made me realise that sometimes the ways in which we communicate messages whether it be through graphics or illustration does not necessarily have to be thought over to be arranged in a serious manner, but can be simple and more buoyant. Additionally, I felt that the artist has successfully done just that due to the extensive use of primary shades of red, blue and yellow. Personally, I thought that the text on the bottom left corner gave the print’s narrative away as the label somehow reduces the significance of the print, however I still enjoy the burst of colour within the shapes that are tied together to create the boy scout’s form. The overlapping printing ink increasingly creates illusion of different colours (e.g. green overlapped with red creates a brownish colour) when it was simply two different colour inks overlapped on top of one another. Furthermore, emphasising his gesture and profile angle of the face. Moreover, the artists has concentrated the print’s energy towards the side view of the boy scout as a way to emphasise the hat and the gear the figure is wearing that identifies him as a boy scout.
Source taken: http://jack-fletcher.com/Scout-Boy
GCD: Lost Letters - Vertigo (2012) by Nick Morley
Details of poster description are as follows:
- “Vertigo” (1958), Saul Bass, Official movie poster, Print
- “Vertigo” (2012), Nick Morley, BFI Film Classics book cover, Linocut print
Since I’ve worked with linocut, I thought it would be fitting to look at an artist that specialises in linocut in order to familiarise myself more with the project brief so I can tackle the brief to my understanding. Nick Morley is a linocut illustrator who often works with a monochrome tonality in his linocut prints. However, the book cover he created for Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” (book originally written by Charles Barr) is my favourite print of his that he’s done. Morley was one of the designers chosen to design for the British Film Institute Film Classics Series. I really liked how he executed his own variation of the film and the print really embodies a more animated perspective of the film.
Morley represented the gist of the film exceptionally in a way that you can still recognise the film as the artist maintains his own style while also incorporating similar visual elements form the original movie poster. For instance, Morley incorporated red as a primary colour of the book cover and added the spiral shape in to the cover composition as seen similarly on the original movie poster. I love how Morley was still able to make the image different while taking common elements from the original copy of the poster, thereby still capturing the movie’s theme and visual aesthetic. The angle that the artist chose to illustrate intensifies the suspense and thriller essence of the film as the film is a psychological thriller. It constitutes as a poster variation and could get away with being fan art of the Hitchcock classic. The solid colours and shapes used in the book cover ties in together to make the tower shape the focal point of the cover, thus creating a more balanced composition and proportioned scales between the identified shapes. Overall, I really liked the book cover as the design itself is simple and solid in form. If I were to identify the lost letter in the book cover, it would either be an “A” or a “V” turned upside down. I specifically took this print as inspiration as I feel that the illustration in essence can look like it stems from a letter form. Moreover, I want to explore balancing composition of a print and creating scaled proportions to create an illustrative print that’s clear and expansive in frame for the lost letter project.
Source taken: “Hitchcock's Vertigo - Linocut Book Cover Illustration for BFI.” LinocutBoy, 6 Jan. 2016, linocutboy.com/hitchcocks-vertigo-linocut-book-cover-illustration-for-bfi/.
GCD: Lost Letters - Persepolis (2000) by Marjane Satrapi
Other than my favourite Disney classics, I cite Persepolis as one of my inspirations of illustration. Not only is this my favourite movie, but the illustrations are absolutely beautiful. Persepolis was initially a graphic autobiographical memoir arranged in a form of a comic. Author and illustrator Marjane Satrapi taken readers on a journey of her childhood in Iran in the midst of overthrowing the Shah caught in a whirlwind of revolutions and chaotic war conditions. Though, I’ve never read the book, I really enjoyed the animated film adaptation. I really appreciated the fact that the animators decided to carry the monochromatic illustrative style of the comic into the film as it keeps the distinct style of Satrapi’s vision and creativity. I first watched this movie when I was 13, thereby I did not really understand the context and political references throughout the film, so I would think that I’ve paid more attention to the animations and illustrative visuals of the film as opposed to the real narrative behind it. The drawings shows a beautiful combination of colour and monochrome visuals as we see the film alternate from one colour scheme to another. I felt that this gave a symbolic touch on how the protagonist’s life has changed overtime. Because the story is told chronologically through Satrapi’s life, I believe that the shift from black and white to colour signifies her life in Iraq transcending into her life in the present as she’s found a new life in Europe. Moreover, the illustrative style in ways follows the story’s cycle as the ending shows the animated Satrapi trying to board a plane back to Iran, as a result returning full circle to bring her back home to her roots. The story is not only a powerful voice on the political state of Iran at the time, but also a story communicating the lesson that “No matter where you end up in the future, you’ll always find yourself back home”. Visually, the shapes of the illustrations make for good flowing animations. I wanted to explore this movie visually to see how colour can fuse with black and white illustrations as red, black and white are common colours seen in printmaking. Conventionally, watchers tend to gravitate to psychedelic illustrations full of colour, whereas I wanted to appreciate the aesthetic Satrapi (as an illustrator) has attained as a result of the success of Persepolis both in book and film form.
To read more on Persepolis, here is an article available on this link: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2008/mar/29/biography
GCD: Poetic Cardboard - Oldie.com
GCD: Poetic Cardboard - Ai Weiwei (Artist Research)
Since I was assigned the words 'social environment’ for the poetic cardboard project, I thought an artist like Ai Weiwei firmly represents an artists who frequently discloses on social and political aspects in their art. Throughout his career, Ai Weiwei constantly challenges cultural dynamics manifested through his contemporary artistry and activism. Drawing direct connections from his experiences with China’s illustrious history in politics, this artist is explicitly vocal in his work and does not shy away from addressing issues such as anti-authoritarianism, communism, Chinese societal issues and many more. Descended from a long line of counter-culture artists, Ai Weiwei has clearly carried on the spirit of free-thinking from his ancestors, marginalised from both right and left sides of political ideologies. The fact that he’s also one of the earliest artists to utilise social media, primarily makes him as an artist more of a fit to the terms ‘social environment’ in a literal sense.
Through this artist, I wanted to look at how he has publicised personal opinions in order to make an audience understand the bigger message through his experiences essentially touching on growing politics and cultural inclinations. Within the context of graphics, the direction Ai Weiwei took to communicate messages explicitly shows how sometimes conveying a message through design does not necessarily have to be abstract and complicated to be visually pleasing and comprehensible. To communicate effectively in graphic design means committing to the idea that you’re presenting in the work and not hesitating your ideas otherwise.
Source: “Ai Weiwei Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works.” The Art Story, www.theartstory.org/artist-ai-weiwei.htm v.
GCD: Poetic Cardboard - Dropping A Han Dynasty Urn (1957) by Ai Weiwei
Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn is one the artist’s earliest work where he smashed a 2000-year old urn. Although this seems like a simple action, the urn was used for ceremonial purposes and thus carried ancient, cultural and symbolic value. The urn came from the Han Dynasty era of which was considered a turning point for Chinese civilization.
“General Mao used to tell us that we can only build a new world if we destroy the old one”
In essence, the simple act sparked a controversy due to the urn’s historical value which in turn was worth a huge amount of money for antique dealers. Due to the object that the artist smashed, the piece was described as a provocative act of cultural destruction with intentions to symbolically erase the cultural memories of the Communist China. Though some would argue the cultural damage triggered in this piece, I believe that it was the artist’s way of contributing to diminishing the old persona of China as information, media and historical censorship was strictly enforced during China’s communist era. Essentially by documenting this act through photography, Ai Weiwei wanted to wipe out what he thought was China’s negativity and conveyed a sense of frustration by channeling the emotion into smashing the urn, as he was fascinated with China’s traditional heritage that Mao tried to obliterate during his reign (Cultural Revolution, 1966-76). To my personal interpretation, I felt that the gesture that was photographed is a juxtaposition to the meaning conveyed in the piece to intentionally show contrast. Ai Weiwei smashed the urn to gesture the fall of Mao’s communist era, bringing in a new era of China’s culture. Therefore, the artist damaged an ancient artefact in order to express the need to preserve traditional heritage as opposed to a loss of culture as most people have assumed from this piece, which altogether is very ironic to me.
“In its literal iconoclasm and spotlight on hypocrisy, this smashed vase embodies the central message Ai would continue to explore.” - Louise Cohen, Royal Academy of Arts
I’ve developed deep connection with Ai Weiwei’s, “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn” because though it is a jab at China’s communist era, it makes me think of the cultural evolution that Asia essentially faces through time. As I come from an Asian background, I tend to connect deeply with art that stems from places closer to home (Indonesia). In essence, showing the effect of Ai Weiwei’s expressive ability to provoke thinking and discussions within his controversial art, further showing the effective communication skills this piece entails. Communication techniques is definitely something to consider for this poetic cardboard, the objective of this project that I want to set should consider different arrangements and symbolic methods to explicitly communicate a message that resonates effectively with the audience. In addition, this piece visually is very raw and fits the artist’s aesthetic with the black and white film and the composition centralised on the subject dropping the urn. The chronological arrangement of the photos shows the narrative of the gesture and animates the photographic images, this technical aspect is something I’d definitely like to explore when working on the poetic cardboard.
- Cohen, Louise. “Ai Weiwei: A Beginner's Guide.” Royal Academy of Arts, 14 Sept. 2015, www.royalacademy.org.uk/article/ai-weiwei-beginners-guide.
- “Ai Weiwei's Dropping A Han Dynasty Urn.” Sotheby's Est. 1744, www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/lot.42.html/2016/contemporary-art-evening-auction-l16020.
GCD: Poetic Cardboard - Richard Mosse on his experiences documenting The Enclave (2013)
GCD: Poetic Cardboard - The Enclave (2013) by Richard Mosse
The first thing that drew me in about these photographs were the vibrant outbursts of pink. Illuminating infrared light, Richard Mosse continues the war-theme to the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo, where over 5 million people died as a result of the conflict since 1998. With the use of an infrared military film, Mosse documented the military state of Congo with a touch of fantasy and a lot of pink. Though the images do look dreamy, the ‘pink filter’ does actually have a science behind it, which was what fascinated me the most about this series. I’ve always wanted to try photographing with different types of film so this brought me deeper into exploring different photo filters and identifying the aesthetic of “The Enclave” that I believe looks immensely raw and profoundly psychedelic. It turns out, the film Mossed utilised was manufactured under the certifications of the US military as the film is designed to detect enemy camouflaged in plain sight of plants. As a result, the chlorophyll of plants reflect the pink colours so that soldiers can separate the hiding opposition to the plants. Though the process I’d imagine must be daunting, I’ve found a sense of calmness when looking at these photographs. I find it interesting that the results of documenting a chaotic war zone can reveal a sense or serenity seeing the soldiers and villagers working within the environment. I believe that this is due to the film’s illusive ability to create serenity in the vibrance of the exploding colours in the photographs. Altogether, these types of photographs has really inspired the raw aesthetic in photos that I tend to gravitate towards, moreover expanding my interest in working within photojournalism.
Sources taken: Digital, Dazed. “Richard Mosse: The Enclave.” Dazed, Dazed Digital, 14 Apr. 2014, www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/19536/1/richard-mosse-the-enclave.
Fine Art: Collection - Gastanks by Bernd & Hiller Becher and Homage To Bernd Becher (2007) by Idris Khan
Artwork Details (Refer to numbers next to image)
- Gastanks (1931), Bernd & Hilla Becher, 9 photographs on gelatin silver print on paper, 172 x 142 x 2.1cm
- Homage to Bernd Becher (2007), Idris Khan, Gelatin silver print, 49.8 x 39.7 cm
Condensed in layers is Idris Khan’s Homage to Bernd Becher’s “Gastanks”. Instantly, I thought about double exposure photos when looking at this piece. Khan has constructively created a composite overlay of photographs (taken by Bernd & Hiller Becher) by superimposing seminal cultural artefacts. Initially, what Khan has done has somewhat blurred the images to create ambiguity as the gas tanks no longer look like gas tanks anymore due to the condensed layers. On the other hand, the artist is still able to enact a destructive essence by blurring the source materials, essentially removing the original image to the extent of almost complete illegibility while still paying tribute to the singular vision of the artists he is paying homage to. In addition, the expansion of lines and structural figures from the overlay results portray a ghostly and haunting nature of the gas tanks, and thus made me visualise small hints of World War I and II and the use of gas tanks during war. Allusions to the Holocaust may be apparent in this piece as the gas tanks do appear to resemble a building. Although my interpretation may be dark and somber, the idea brought a bit of cultural and historical significance to the collection that I’m looking at. The overlay results also give the illusion of charcoal as a possible medium if I were to create a rendition of Khan’s homage. I love the idea of a photograph's illusive ability to make you see a different medium and thus can spark debates of whether a photograph is drawn of simply captured by a camera.
“Khan’s condensation of whole bodies of the Bechers’ work into single images underscores its obsessive, serial nature.” - Guggenheim
I believe that Khan’s homage to the Bechers’ “Gastanks” has made itself a juxtaposition to the original piece. The idea of overlaying a collection really overlooks the idea of a standardised collection and thus contrasts to the standard arrangement of collecting. An aspect I’d like to examine more of from these two piece is the experimentation of unifying a collection, this can take into account double exposure imaging and photography or simply stacking objects on top of one another resulting in a potential three-dimensional figure. In the context of my shadow collection, I’ve been looking at obtaining the overlaying technique from Khan’s piece and comparing them to the singular perspective as inspired by Bernd & Hilla’s Gastanks. Altogether, these pieces have been integral within my thought-process when constructing my collection through a singular or a unifying approach.
Source taken: “Idris Khan, Homage to Bernd Becher.” Guggenheim, 2 Nov. 2017, www.guggenheim.org/artwork/21637.
Fine Art: Collection - Waste Not (2012) by Song Dong
I’ve actually had the privilege of seeing this piece in person at the Barbican Gallery during my holiday to London in 2012. Although I didn’t understand the piece at the time, I remember seeing an array of empty bottles and immediately assumed that this exhibit was an indication to environmental themes. Though this piece could be a direct environmental announcement, Song Dong’s collection is made up of over 10,000 everyday things collected by his mother over the course of five decades exhibited as a reflection of the artist’s childhood in the wake of the Cultural Revolution. This collection touches on the fundamentals of family and how Song Dong reconnects with his family every time he has to remake his exhibition with the help of his sister, wife and his entire family. Moreover, the collection addresses the art of saving and re-using if viewed through a more public perspective, this subject is aligned with the Chinese principle of ‘wu jin qi yong’ meaning, “waste not”, the title of the exhibit. What really interested me about this piece is the excessiveness that is being captured through all the mess that has been nicely arranged to create an big ocean of colour made up of family artefacts and knick-knacks. Additionally, the rustic and old appearance of these items implies the longevity this collection demonstrates further showing the evolution of different objects over the decades like the different television models for instance. The conception presented in this collection is not only an artistic take on his mother’s hoarding, but is also a testament of the family’s survival during and era of social and political turmoil. Collecting and hoarding was a common survival manoeuvre therefore, this exhibit reveals an ancient form of Asian culture that became apparent due to needs of survival. I love the artist’s story of this collection and the continuity that comes with it. The collection was a collaboration project with his mother but due to her death, then follows along the family to Song Dong’s wife and sister, thus showing the continuity the collection carries within the artist’s family. The element of continuity is an aspect that I’d definitely like to incorporate as a way of making my collection relevant to the audience. Moreover, this collection gives me the idea of incorporating influences from Asian culture which I was raised in, as a way of personally engaging with the collection I am creating. While reflecting memories sensitively from the past and bringing them into the present, the collection reveals the narrative of the family and how they’ve come to survive within adversity. Furthermore, highlighting the immediate habit of saving things as a way of attaching oneself to their memories, clinging to the past as a way of manifesting emotion, and in essence, that is the art of collecting. Moreover, the art of collecting comes from the attachment and connection collectors and artists have to their memories, further rekindling and healing personal pain and grief that was once loss but can be found with the emotional power of collecting.
- “Objects With Stories, Song Dong: Waste Not, Barbican Art Gallery, London.” Aesthetica Magazine, 8 Mar. 2012, www.aestheticamagazine.com/objects-with-stories-song-dong-waste-not-barbican-art-gallery-london/
- “Song Dong's Waste Not at the Barbican – in Pictures.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 14 Feb. 2012, www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2012/feb/14/song-dong-waste-not-in-pictures
Fine Art: Collection - Methodology & Presentation
HOW THE CONTENT OF THE COLLECTION IS DEVELOPED AND CONTENT.
Question to consider:
- What methods have artists used to develop their collection?
- In what way does the presentation of the collection influence the way the collection is perceived by the audience?
Types of Presentation methods
- Formal Presentation: Archaeological and anthropological manner in arranging a collection promotes reading similarity and difference. Social conformity is shown by using the similarity and difference approach. The formal arrangement helps us explore how groups adhere to a consumer driven consensus. Formal methods tend to place an equal value to each constituent element of the collection. This allows a sense of narrative and time when perusing the elements both artistically and metaphorically
- Museology: Art is increasingly incorporating scientific methods of collecting, archiving and classifying. Many artist adopt pseudo-scientific approaches to the art of collection and presentation to their work. The formal museum format for instance, demonstrate how individual elements are altered in terms of their meaning through a process. E.g. Boarders at rest, Annette Messager (1971-1972). Mark Dion’s “The Cabinet of the Machines of Capital" (2012) exemplifies taxonomy and the deliberate usage of Victorian and Enlightenment methods of presentation. In contrast, Christian Boltanski’s “Réserve du Musée des Enfants I et II“ (1989) still maintains formality in his presentation however, the collection is more spatial in composition. Additionally Boltanski’s collection is arranged to suggest that the objects are relics of lost memories.
Other collection strategies:
- Overlaying: Removal of difference
- Elements used to make a specific form: Components selected for specific placement
- Duplication: Action or process of duplicating an object essentially to create another object identical to the original.
- Metaphor: Methodology (of straightening and repair) used as an act to embody a desire to repair and fix remnants of humanitarian disaster. Usage of symbolism and representation can also come into play when arranging a collection based on metaphorical elements.
- Non-Visual Collections: Collections often involving sound or audio, art that cannot be seen by the naked eye or is not physically there. Often require visualisation and imagination, encourages viewers to think when observing non-visual collections.
- Performance and Reenactment
- Longevity: Collecting over a long period of time. Evokes a personal feeling that artist convey through the narrative of their collection.
- Collection: The act of collection becoming the work. E.g. Yielding Stone, Gabriel Orozco (1992) - The act of collection here is the piece. A ball of clay the artist’s weight rolled around the vicinity of the gallery. The work will continue to change and reflect its surroundings. Paper is also an example of a collector. It is suggested through Tom Friedman’s “1000 Hours of Staring” (1992-1997) that the artist’s presence has been captured by the paper which becomes active, not passive.
The method of collecting is integral, at times collection arrangement can be classified as more important than the work itself. The way a collection is arranged is at times the aspect that makes an artwork important and aesthetically pleasing.
*Notes taken during project brief
Fine Art: Collection - Boring Postcards by Martin Parr (1999)
A book review of Martin Parr's Collection of Boring Postcards can be viewed in this video: https://vimeo.com/151315194
Martin Parr is another example of an artist that has a good eye for things that aren’t necessarily beautiful, unlike Jim Shaw’s (Thrift Store) impulsive fascination for the distorted, Parr has an eye for postcards in fact, boring ones. The photos above are just a few pages taken from Parr’s Boring Postcards USA and Boring Postcards UK. With the minimal captioning, no date nor context whatsoever, it’s not the photograph on the postcard itself that’s boring, but rather how the postcards (all of which come from the British photographer’s private collection) are placed into one book like an incomplete photo album. In my opinion, the photographic content of the postcards stood well on its own on the blank pages, it in essence conveys the faded remnants of a postcard. Though Parr does not include any context to teh postcards, by the faded and noise-filled photographs, it’s apparent that the postcards are old. There is a sense of ambiguity and timelessness from the way Parr has constructed the collection. The deliberate decision to show vagueness just makes the audience focus more on the visuals of these so-called ‘boring’ postcards.
In an interview Martin Parr did for varsity.com (Cambridge, UK), reviewers commented:
“Boring Postcards sets out, quite deliberately, to exist in a vacuum, one in which all sense of narrative is subsumed to the aesthetic.”
Full interview available: https://www.varsity.co.uk/culture/4262
Clearly this book is an obvious sense of irony, as the postcard collections aren’t boring. Both attractive and evocative, the aesthetics were apparent to Parr’s eye as a collector.
“I don’t think there’s anything explicitly condescending about Boring Postcards. That said, it’s not hard to see how easily the collective impact – or non–impact – of these images can be used to confirm just about any theory about post–war, pre-Thatcherite Britain. Harold Wilson’s ‘white heat of technology’, while it may have evoked a romanticism more reminiscent of Joseph Wright of Derby than of contemporary science and industry, is nonetheless crystallised within these pages.”
- Jonathan Bell’s review of Boring Postcard, http://www.thingsmagazine.net/text/t15/postcards.htm
Assuming that these postcards are dated back to post-war era, the photographs have a little bit of contemporary and modern style that constitutes the film aesthetic. This book definitely opened my eye to the idea of photojournalism constitutes as a fine art collection. The sense of freedom and timelessness of this collection is definitely a considerable theme that I would like to portray in my collection. Visually, I love the noise the photographs on the postcards have although that is the result of the film and printing, the noise of the photographs is something that I can manipulate digitally to make up an artistic collection for my project. Additionally, I’d love to get my hands on the rest of the Boring Postcards series as I find that the book will fit a coffee table well as a conversation starter.
“Our first flip through Martin Parr's Boring Postcards USA book years ago made us laugh out loud. Not only was it amusing that postcards ever focused on Old Orchard mall in 1960s Skokie or on an Indiana toll road (pictured above), but we couldn't believe how many of those places we had actually visited. We just never memorialized the occasion with a photograph, let alone a postcard. We've certainly "escaped" to as many unremarkable destinations as we have wonderful ones, so we could relate to the ironic sentiment of boring postcards of boring places.”
- Heather Blaha’s review of Martin Parr’s Boring Postcards USA (2008), http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/martin-parrs-bo-29538
Fine Art: Collection - Mississippi River Mural (2013) by Jim Shaw
A notorious collector of American junk (as Mass MoCa described), Jim Shaw's Mississippi River Mural" is another piece that I frequently go back to when viewing his work. Although this piece by classification is not considered as a collection, I beg to differ. This mural is an ode to pop culture, icons, superheroes and a unique fusion photography and illustration.
"So much of his work looks at things we think of as cultural saviors, when the reality is we're doomed anyway,"
- Mass MoCa's exhibition's curator Denise Markonish
The reason why I wanted to look into this specific Jim Shaw piece was due to the way the artist illustrated and arranged these figures on the mural collectively. Though not deemed as a collection, I’d like to think that these figures are an illustrative take on action figure collections of superheroes and other characters from Superman to Wonder Woman for instance. I felt that the series of figures Shaw illustrated on the mural shows coherence based on the monochromatic comic technique used by the artist. Clearly, the collection of figures are very comical and animated based on the gestures and positions that these figures are situated in. Animated drawings always reveal some sort of narrative for me so I really enjoyed the comical experience when looking at this mural. From a wide viewpoint, the piece has such continuity in a sense that Shaw is trying to transcend popular culture from the past into the present as this is represented from the way the characters are drawn on top of a landscape picture that looks outdated based on the filter and noise of the photograph. Although the photo visuals could have been manipulated to look old as opposed to a photograph that was actually dated back, I loved that the photo background looks old as if it was taken with an analog and stretched out on to the mural. As a collection, I believe that Shaw has successfully demonstrated how a collection can be perceived both as one body of work while simultaneously detaching each object in the collection to remain individual. Through Shaw’s mural, I would like to explore how I may construct a collection that shows duality in perspective and versatility as to how the audience may perceive a collection.
Source taken: Charles Bonenti >> Special to The Eagle. “Fallen Heros: Jim Shaw's Mass MoCA Exhibit Explores Fallibility.” The Berkshire Eagle, 27 Mar. 2015, www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/fallen-heros-jim-shaws-mass-moca-exhibit-explores-fallibility,331705.
Fine Art: Collection - Thrift Store Paintings by Jim Shaw (1990)
As a whole, collections are often thought to be personal however, what people tend to overlook is a collection’s ability to bring value to objects that aren’t necessarily personal to the collector. This idea is represented exceptionally through Jim Shaw’s “Thrift Store” Paintings. A collection curated and thoughtfully comprised of junkyard, garage sales and thrifted paintings that are, if displayed on its own, horrific and awful. When Shaw began collecting these works in the 1970s (all of which were priced no more than $5), the artist knew that these paintings were on to something. Overtime, his thrift shop paintings have become increasingly popular as these nauseating works are in high demand during Shaw’s prime. The collection in essence brought numerical and quantifying values to unwanted pieces but to Shaw, the collection merely signified his relentless fixation he had to the painting’s haunting artistry. The Guardian stated that Shaw had a good eye for the bad, he was able to find beauty and humour in something that conventionally would not be identified as a masterpiece. Whether the collection was created to mock or humour the audience, the paintings came together to fit a folk and raw aesthetic that is not often seen anymore in exhibitions or galleries. The reason that I’m fascinated with this particular piece is due to how the artist’s resonation with these old paintings were able to influence the perception of the public eye on things that aren’t always beautiful physically. Although these paintings were arranged in a simple standardised method with the application of museology, the origins of how the collection came about was what fascinates me as opposed to the presentation of the collection itself. I find that it’s always important to look at an artwork or series beyond what is being displayed physically as it brings more meaning to an artwork. In essence, this aspect crucial throughout fine arts in constructing my collection. Likewise, Shaw’s work has enhanced my perspective on finding beauty within collections especially ones that did not necessarily compose of items that belonged to the collector within his respective context. Considering the collection began in the 70s, conservative views may have still come into play when the collection was first exhibited but nonetheless, the artist has found success and gained responses that indicates the aesthetic of his collection influential.
“Whatever glimpses of darkness these pictures show, they often also prove the simple truth that ineptitude can be expressive.”
Because I’ve been facing “art block” due to the lack of ideas I could think of for my collection, Shaw’s view of profound beauty within distortion and evocative pieces of work has allowed to open myself to ideas that may not necessarily make sense to the viewers. In essence, I plan to explore old archives, surroundings and environments that can help me generate ideas and creative elements that can be put together into an eye-opening collection for my project. By drawing inspiration from Jim Shaw, I’ll be able to consider more bizarre ideas by means of collecting.
- Searle, Adrian. “Arts: Jim Shaw's Collection of Thrift Store Paintings.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 25 Sept. 2000, www.theguardian.com/culture/2000/sep/26/artsfeatures.
- Book: Shaw, Jim, and Matthew Higgs. Thrift Store Paintings. Institute of Contemporary Arts, 2000.
Idea Factory: Contextualising ANIMISM in religion & spirituality
Animism is the belief in supernatural attributions in plants, inanimate objects and natural phenomena within the material universe (Oxford American Dictionary). Although this dictionary definition is quite abstract, I perceive animism as the practice of communicating with entities through natural elements such as plants and animals. Immediately, what came to my mind were the clear connections the term, "animism" has to religious and spiritual beliefs within different cultures.
Examples of animism within cultures were evident in Greek mythology and Native American religion. Although I initially looked at the two cultures as I starting point of my research, I began to look into more of Native American rituals because I had ancestors that were Native American, therefore I resonate more with the culture despite its far relation to my ethnicity. The quote below interested me by the way it emphasises the Natives unification with the Earth by means of worship and correspondence to the physical universe. In relation to the idea factory, the quote inspires me within the process of how the group and I will be able to construct an idea that defines animism through the element of culture and belief.
"Whenever the hunter came across a beautiful scene... he paused for a moment in worship"
-Native American Belief in the Wakan Tanka religion (Taken from GSCE Bitesize)
Source taken: Anon, “GCSE Bitesize: Native American Religion - the Spirits.” BBC, BBC, www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/shp/americanwest/religionrev1.shtml.
Idea Factory: The Chagall Windows (1985) - Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall created a beautiful stained glass window installed at Tudeley as a memorial for Sarah d’Avigdor-Goldsmid. I believe that Chagall’s piece represents the quintessence of the terms animism, light and draw and is essentially the artwork that comes to mind when I combined the three words together. All throughout history, stain glass windows have epitomised gothic and church architecture. Similar to Native American art, the creation of stain glass windows are deeply rooted in storytelling often portraying biblical tales and other ancient folklore during the Medieval era for instance. Chagall who despite being Jewish, often includes Christ and other biblical figures in his work, additionally describing Jesus as “the radiant young man in whom young people delight”. The design above was particularly difficult to get installed as Chagall was initially reluctant to do so. It was only when he arrived at the church where the east window was situated did he take on to create the remaining eleven windows in collaboration with Charles Marq of Reims, thus completing the “Twevle Tribes of Israel”. The stain glass window is mesmerising with its cunning backlight specifically designed lightbox that was installed in the vestry in 1985. The Tudeley windows are inspired by the verse of Psalm 8: 4-8, where is states:
"What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.”
The stain glass window’s conceptual origin is very well connected to spirituality, a core aspect within religion. What inspired me the most about Chagall’s window is the way he maximised the space by enhancing the spatial surroundings with the stain glass window. The cool colours evoke a calm and peaceful mood. Moreover, the colour further transcends on to shadows with the help of sunlight, once again manipulating shapes and colour with the aid of natural lighting and silhouettes. Not only does the stain glass window enhance space, but also enhances lighting essentially brightening up the room to create a sense of life through the stain glass and thus exemplifies the growing phenomenon of animist philosophy utilised and applied through religious art foremost architecture. Altogether, the Tudeley windows have become Chagall’s most prominent work as a result distinguishing the Tudeley windows apart from most of his other stained glass.
- Capel United Church.” The CHAGALL WINDOWS - Capel United Church, www.tudeley.org/chagallwindows.htm.
- Book: Entwistle, Jill. Detail in Contemporary Lighting Design. Laurence King Publishing, 2012.
Idea Factory: Drawing The Sun (2014) Bruno Munari (Reference)
Idea Factory: Drawing the Sun (1980) - Bruno Munari
Idea Factory: Drawing the Sun (1980) - Bruno Munari (Sketch 2)
Idea Factory: Drawing the Sun (1980) - Bruno Munari (Sketch 3)
Idea Factory: Mask (1827) - Kaigani Haida
This mask came from a Alaskan Haida tribe who inhabits the Southern region of Prince of Wales Island. Hydabrug and Kasaan are the primary villages of the Haida people and the sea and forest are fundamental sources of sustenance of the people. The Haida culture is very rooted in their spiritual connection to the natural and physical world. The Haida society is divided into to moieties (ritual groups): the Raven and Eagle along with subclans beneath the two ritual groups. Similarly to southeastern tribes, Haida people manifest their spirituality through their craft of beautifully decorated button blankets, costume wear and props like the mask above. Their ethnic aesthetic stems from their animist belief as every traditional ornaments is wholeheartedly constructed with the blessings of the Haida society. The artistry behind their traditional items goes beyond just painting, colours and construction. Even being part of a clan within their matriarchal society can be channeled through the many narratives that are portrayed in Haida creativity. Additionally like most Native American tribes, the Haida culture do create and use masks and totem poles as part of their rituals. However unlike most clans, the legends, clans and art specialties of the Haida people are unique. Throughout history, Haida craftsmen have gained a reputation for masterful carving foremost for their dugout canoes. Moreover, more of Haida craft comes from artisans like silversmiths who are responsible for etching clan symbols onto jewellery and garments, which is a speciality obtained over a century ago when Haida craftsmen hammered American coins into jewellery.
- Anon, LitSite Alaska | People of the North > Native Peoples > Haida, www.litsite.org/index.cfm%3Fsection%3DDigital-Archives%26page%3DPeople-of-the-North%26cat%3DNative-Peoples%26viewpost%3D2%26ContentId%3D2650.
- Book: Penney, David W. Native American Art Masterpieces. Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, 1997.
Idea Factory: Research Notes
Idea Factory: Idea Development
Idea Factory: Sketching Ideas
Idea Factory: Dream of Ancient Life (1997) - Dan V. Lomahafetwa
Native American art is a quintessential symbol of animist art. According to the Peabody Essex Museum, Native American art has a unique fusion of historical and contemporary style manifesting the relationship within Native communities and their spiritual beliefs. Moreover, Native American art is still relevant and thus extends the conversation to viewers that want to learn beyond the cultural bonds of Native culture. This piece created by Lomahafetwa targeted for non-Native audiences not only introduces the idea of animist beliefs, but also invites discussion regarding tribal rituals, social hierarchy and beauty within cultural concepts. It is clearly evident from the figures and shapes the painting creates, that the Natives’ artistry is deeply rooted in its rich history of storytelling. Additionally, demonstrating Native figures, totems and legends that bring along a creative and expressive nature overtime. Moreover, animism within Native culture is also incorporated in ceramics, textiles, jewellery, clothing garments, musical instruments and many more artworks that will later evolve into great cultural influences and movements.
- Anon, “Native American Art" Peabody Essex Museum, staging2.pem.org/collections/11-native_american_art.
Idea Factory: Double-sided Drum (1890) - Chaticks-si-Chaticks
Idea Factory: Double-sided Drum (1890) - Chaticks-si-Chaticks (Side no. 2)
The tribal patterns of Native American art constitutes animism as an art form. These designs were part of the Ghost Dance religion, bringing renewal to Native faith and religion during the dark era of Native American history. This double-sided drum reminds me of cave drawings by its shapes and its outline technique done by the artist. The vibrant use of colour evokes an earth-like atmosphere with the illustration of landscapes and star constellations further emphasising the drum as a ritual tool. I especially enjoy working with cool colours and am often more drawn to cool tones as opposed to warm. Which is why this piece caught my eye within the context of animism within culture. What I found most interesting about the piece is the coherence that came with the illustration on both sides of the drum. The traditional craft of the designs creates a flowing image from one side of the drum to another. Metaphorically, I believe that the coherence of this piece signifies the continuity of these animist beliefs, therefore showing the realness and relevance of such cultural beliefs in modern times. In terms of the designs visually, the simple approach to the round composition of the drum ties many elements of the landscape and nature-esque drawings together very well. Therefore through this piece, I wanted to learn more on how coherence can be achieved when creating artworks revolving around such personal themes.
Idea Factory: Bull's Head (1942) - Pablo Picasso
Described as an “astonishingly complete metamorphosis”, Picasso’s creation of “Bull’s Head” exemplifies a modern take on cultural art as the artist made this sculpture out of a bicycle seat and handlebars. Although there was no indication that this was influenced by animist aspects, I believe that the physicality of this piece is itself related to animism just by the way that the artist was able to bring life to inanimate objects like bicycle parts by simply changing it’s position to create an animalistic form. Thus, by definition, animism is the belief of life within inanimate things and Picasso has simplistically conveyed that idea literally through his piece and beautifully may I add. This piece makes me want to explore the ways in which I can alter metal or industrial materials in different positions to redefine its purpose within a possible idea for the idea factory.
Art critic Eric Gibson has described this sculpture as unique in comparison to Picasso’s other work, mainly due to the simplicity and transparent nature the sculpture evokes. Moreover, describing the sculpture’s transparency due to the fact that the found object is not disguised and is easily identified as bicycle parts despite it’s altered position in the sculpture. Highly sophisticated in its childlike simplicity (Gibson), the sculpture has transformed and challenged human imagination and perception bringing a whole new value to bicycle parts as a medium purely based on form.
Picasso’s commentary of his artwork (1943) to photographer George Brassai:
“Guess how I made the bull's head? One day, in a pile of objects all jumbled up together, I found an old bicycle seat right next to a rusty set of handlebars. In a flash, they joined together in my head. The idea of the Bull's Head came to me before I had a chance to think. All I did was weld them together... [but] if you were only to see the bull's head and not the bicycle seat and handlebars that form it, the sculpture would lose some of its impact.”