My learning outcomes for this semester are Resolve, Communicate and Reflect. Being that I’ve spent a good part of the semester to far screwing things up, the majority of this presentation is going to be about resolve.
But first, I guess, reflect, since it’s better as a reminder. My project explores problems of perspective, time and understanding of identity. We think of our “selfs” as continuous, and tend to associate “what is on the inside” with “what is true.” I aim to question this through the objects that I make, making things that make the outside world their core, and place something that is constantly changing and moving (a projection) in a place normally associate with stability and authenticity, thereby to place change and instability in the place of authenticity.
We tend to make up stories about ourselves based on our past that tell us what we can be now and in the future, and say “I’ve always been like this.” This can be both positive and negative, but either way, if we don’t recognise our inherent changeability, we create problems for ourselves. Many of the metaphors we use when we speak are related to surfaces and interiors. Surfaces are often represented in language as changeable, inauthentic, disingenuous; it is what is on the inside that is seen as truthful or authentic. We also like to represent our identities as unchanged, rooted in the past and therefore authentic. I think that if there is one thing about identity that is interesting and authentic, it is that it is always changing, always responding to and integrating new experiences and influences. I am making objects that are camera obscura integrated with engraving, because they have an ever-changing interior that responds and changes with the surrounding environment, and a stable exterior, positioning the changeability in the place of authenticity, and the part that is unchangeable on the surface, reversing this common association. This is not to say that we are nothing but the place we are currently in – the objects make looking at the mundane here and now an interesting, and somewhat difficult task, because of the interference of the engraved surface. They are objects that must change, and to be understood, they must be interacted with, and they help the user to want to notice the here and now.
My plan for the degree show includes a number of objects:
Five camera with turned wood cases, these will be 10-15 cm long and about 10 cm in diameter. These will have a viewing surface that is engraved images of people curled up in the fetal position, to have an introspective feeling, that leads the person holding the object to feel protective, or compassionate towards the person in the image. The people will be nude and have as few defining features as I can manage.
Four of a similar size and shape, but with the case made of slumped glass, with colour overlays on the inside. These will be a combination of single lenses and multiple lenses, projecting into portraits taken from above the head of the sitter, similar to the small pieces that went to Emerge.
A camera on a stand that will need to be placed near the window. This will be 20 cm tall on one end, and taper down to 12 cm tall on the other, in a shape that references mathematically drawn lines of perspective. This will be a box made of wood with panels of engraved glass on the front side, and multiple lenses on the back side, creating an image that plays with the idea of a single perspective by overlaying multiple optical perspectives with a singular hand made perspective. The engraving here will be architectural, to emphasise the relationship with formal perspective.
Five palm-sized cameras, convex on both sides, with black glass backs, and solid clear glass lenses for the projection surface. These will be similar to the one here, but the engraving will come around the shape, interfering with the projection, and making the object more unified. I find these interesting because the way the projection works means that to look at a thing, you have to move it around, focusing on different parts of the image in succession. Like with the others, the surface engraving and texture get in the way of seeing, the existing for interferes with understanding of the projection.
A series of 8 3D laser engraved pieces, 12cm diameter round, 3cm thick, that stand round face forward, have have one side of the circle flattened for this purpose. These will be engraved with drawings made based on the camera obscura projection in the sculpture court from last semester.
A book that describes and explains the objects, process and reasoning.
I guess I’ll finish off with a few words about communicate. I’ve been developing professional relationships this semester through continued participation with the Glass Engraving Network. Additionally, I have had the pleasure of having Alison Kinnaird here in the studio. She has been an invaluable resource in learning more about copper wheel engraving, and particularly about improving my figure modelling and my drawing for engraving. Since I’ve been trying deep slumping, I will get in touch with Amanda Simmons, whose work is mostly in that technique.
I’m still working on improving my ability to reflect and communicate while I’m making, especially as things are going wrong. This semester so far has been quite difficult for that, but as things are beginning to come together a little, or, be less frustrating, it’s easier to reflect.