Influences with Anna Gerber

Our third project named influences required me to explore my influences, look at who or what provokes, inspires and informs my working methods and research processes. The point was to to raise my awareness about my own influences. To look beyond myself and draw from experiences, contexts, impressions outside of myself. We were encouraged to explore and investigate those influences in different ways. We were required to create a list of five of our influences and mine are as follows:

  • The work of visual artist Gorden Young
  • Africa : the colour, vibrance and beautiful hand-rendered signage
  • Film director Ed Wood: hailed as the worst director of all time
  • The Arts and Crafts Ideal
  • The work of Steve Mc Queen

I then chose one of my influences to create work that expressed how my influence made me feel. I chose Gordon Young. He is a visual artist who focuses on creating art for the public domain. His work ranges from sculptures to typographic pavements for places as disrelated as government headquarters and village squares. The common denominator for all projects is the basis of relevance to the surroundings.

I thought about what it was about his work that attracted me to it and asked myself how the work made me feel as a viewer. As I am interested in typography, I enjoy the way Young creates public art using typography. He captures the essence of his subject, and creates a beautiful relationship between the art and the environment it is placed in. He embraces his environment and uses it to his advantage. I also enjoy the tactility of his work.

In creating my own piece of work I endeavored to create the same feelings. My criteria were, the item should be sensitive to its environment - it should look like it belongs, plain and simple, and it should evoke a feeling of beauty. I decided to make an installation in our classroom. By using sheets of clear plastic and super-glue I created a rain effect on the window of out classroom. I feel this was a subtle and successful solution that fulfilled the criteria I set myself.

Walter Benjamin Project with Jonathan Griffin

‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ (1935) by Walter Benjamin remains one of the most influential cultural texts of the modern era.
The text, although written more than 70 years ago, is still relevant today, and contains a wealth of ideas and reflections on the modern era that continue to inspire and excite new generations of readers. The text is particularly relevant in the fields of graphic design, moving image and digital media.

"The project will require you to interpret the text and
develop a personal response using a blend of visual,
analytical and communication skills. There are no
limits to the media you may choose to use."

Benjamin used the word "aura" to refer to the sense of awe and reverence experienced by a viewer when in the presence of unique works of art. Benjamin believed that this aura lies not in the object itself but rather in external attributes such as its known line of ownership, its restricted exhibition, its publicised authenticity, or its cultural value. With the advent of art's mechanical reproducibility, and the development of forms of art (such as film) in which there is no actual original, the art is to a mass audience, leading to a shattering of the aura.

One part of the essay that particularly appealed to me was a passage about acting. Where the actors attainment of aura is discussed. Benjamin also believed that the same principal of aura applied to acting - if you are in the audience of a theatre you are in the presence of the actors aura but that the same aura could not be transfered onto film. For aura is tied to his presence; there can be no replica of it. The aura which, on the stage, emanates from the actor and cannot be separated for the spectators from that of the actor. He quotes Pirandello:

“The film actor,” wrote Pirandello, “feels as if in exile – exiled not only from the stage but also from himself. With a vague sense of discomfort he feels inexplicable emptiness: his body loses its corporeality, it evaporates, it is deprived of reality, life, voice, and the noises caused by his moving about, in order to be changed into a mute image, flickering an instant on the screen, then vanishing into silence .... The projector will play with his shadow before the public, and he himself must be content to play before the camera.”

This is the area of the text I decided to pursue. I wanted to make a documentary (of sorts!) of the struggle that an actor has with himself. The Actor changes during the piece morphing into entirely different species, before returning to himself. The set was created using mundane household items. The lighting is quite dark in places as I wanted to create a tense atmosphere. I also chose music that created tension, Ensurance Trap by Michael Andrews and recorded Ulrick reciting an edited version of the All the Worlds a Stage speech from As You Like It. It was then edited so it would not be recognisable to the viewer. I used dominoes to represent ritual but also the unpredictable nature of acting, they are spontaneously arranged without effort but with the same ease they are knocked down by the Actor at the end of the piece. 

Stills from the stop-motion animation

The finished piece

(the sound exported out of sync with the film - im still trying to fix it!)

The Triangle Project in conjunction with MA FIne Art

Five days to work with strangers. Create works based upon another person’s practice. Produce a catalogue. Assemble an exhibition by the end of that week. Being thrown into unfamiliar territory forced the team to work within a framework that challenged us to step outside our comfort zones, in a limited amount of time. Our group had an interesting dynamic as everyone was exploring different themes seemingly worlds apart from each other, but by spending time discussing our practice, we were able to find traits or themes that we could explore within this project. Whilst working on our interpretations and concepts of our partner’s work, we discovered that we were all using similar organic materials eg. wood, apple, food. Through discussion and debate we decided that a common structure could link all our projects into a whole -a space for our work to challenge the viewer by having a large physical presence through its display and presentation. This structure not only allows this, but at the same time offers the segregation of each solo piece to be interpreted as individual. There were a lot of challenges and a sense of frustration working within a group, but we all enjoyed the experimental aspect of it. Some of us were trying to create works which could render our understanding both in the practical and theoretical way. It is interesting how interpreting someone else’s practice for a week has opened up our eyes and it would be great to try and bring these new ideas to further our own practice. As a whole, we all agreed that this triangle project was an experiment that pushes us to do things that we would not have done otherwise. The experience has been a rewarding one that has opened doors, not only for our own individual practice but also for future collaborative projects within the groups.

I was lucky to have gotten an excellent partner with a very interesting body of work. When exploring Josh’s work the themes that interested me most were his experimentations with imperfection, coincidence and human interaction. In reponse to his work I allowed paint to flow freely and mix organically down an 8ft by 8ft board as an expression of an undetermined journey. I then placed at random painted apples which represent human role in the journey. I chose the apple as they will change in this piece over time and eventually shrivel up and fall off the board, they have a limited life span and had no choice in the path they were put on. The apples are painted white so they are not initally recognisable as fragile fruit but as objects.  As part of the brief it was also necessary for each group to create a run of ten catalogues. Rather than assign this task to one person we created the catalogue as a group and passed a file from person to person. Each person contributed to its production. I enjoyed the project and hope to use what I have learned to inform my own practice.

My Final Piece