Saturday, 8 October 2016

Digital media concepts, a tutorial structure discussion.

The study of digital media concepts (TM 1404) carries 30 credits towards the Master's degree
it will be the vehicle and basis for peer group feedback.
Within it, we will learn the ability to analyse key concepts in digital media
to develop perceptual expertise.
And hone and improve critical analysis techniques.

A Masters degree teaches one to think in a much more structured way.

The lecturers appointed for this module are Dr Liam Devlin whose particular speciality lies in the conceptual and research writing practice; together with Richard Mulhern, whose expertise is in creative production and execution.

It is recommended to read the project brief, which accounts for 100% of the portfolio and works together with the reading list which is located on Unilearn jointly with the module brief

As part of the Master's degree study, it is important to realise that the work is very different from that of the undergraduate level. It isn't necessary to learn "craftsmanship," as your earlier pedagogy would have been expected to give you this skill. However what is important, is the emotional connection and success to what you achieve as an output. Nevertheless, this study at postgraduate level degree requires a student to commit to developing a clarity of purpose to make a critical framework with a higher standard of clarity, academic rigour and professionalism in the chosen subject.

In essence, it is an engagement in building an informed, critically articulate approach to your practice.

In this sense, we are all producers and makers, and thus any work submitted as part of the course must be technically fit for purpose.

The idea of craftsmanship at the postgraduate level should be much more meditative with the practitioner engaged "in the moment". It is then that you apply the technical rigour to analyse what you have done and created, to contextualise and implement the academic rigour required in a team environment.

It is, therefore, essential to use deadlines set by the lecturers effectively!

Creating new networks of people are also vital to the creative environment and here in Huddersfield, located between Manchester and Leeds on the M 62 corridor, makes this particular region active and fertile for developing personal networks in the creative field.

Do not limit yourself to only attending the workshops that you might just be peripherally interested in; it is useful to do them all because it is through these engagements that new ideas will flourish.

We are always engaged in a constant battle of emotions versus logic; how we carve and refine our ideas of how visual images are received is a response that is to be critically cultivated. When we create an image or a visual response to some thing, we need to test it, then test it, then test it again. It is useful therefore to develop the online presence of your practice consistently through engaging with Instagram, twitter, tumbler et cetera almost as a second nature.

Consider that the whole creative practice is built upon 'Association'. Through the creation of, for example, record sleeves, magazine sleeves, book covers, videos, event recording et cetera and then displaying them through various media networks, creates a kind of network of people to help you execute and realise future projects.

During tutorials, it is vital to bring images, notes, recordings, print tests, ideas and moving pictures or videos, etc. to allow lecturers and staff to engage with your work on a critical level too. However, Richard Mulhern also suggested to "beware of the Pub- philosopher" when looking for your feedback about ideas from those individuals whom you may know. The "pub philosopher" often have great ideas about work but are usually completely incapable of executing anything. It is your job as a creative artist to have the ideas and then actually implement them, entirely, producing resolved outputs that adequately feed into your next creative endeavours.

Resources that are also useful for this community are;
Foam (Amsterdam) as sources and publications, which also have an online presence.

Competitions for digital media practice should be fully engaged with and include;
BJP Lens-culture. And perhaps www.photomediations.
Competitions are vital to engaging with if you want a career as a digital media artist as these are now perhaps the only defacto away that creative directors usually select people for recruitment in this day and age!
It would be useful to sign up to the Photomediations website as they have something called the Photomediations Machine which highlights and showcases various practitioners within the current context. For example Catrina Selewis,-her ideas of unthinking photography are useful paper to read in which it discusses different approaches to image making. Within this article, she articulates very clearly that the content is always the same as it ever was, but it is the process of presentation and reprint or re-presentation that is now different, and it is this area that needs to be explored.

It is also extremely useful to volunteer at digital media events and festivals such as the Bradford symposium and book fair at the "impressions" gallery.
The "format" exhibition at Derby in April/May 2017.
The "look 17" will be held in Liverpool during the summer/May 2017.

Other exhibitions and galleries should be visited and attended as often as possible, for example, the "Open Eye" exhibition, currently showing Sarah Fisher, a very progressive artist not to be missed.

As an exercise for the next tutorial in a couple of weeks time, an assignment was given to select a single text that connects with my practice. The text and summary should be submitted by 17 October and should articulate why it is important.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Reflections on a lecture of discovery, elements of the archive.

This lecture was provided by Dr Juliet McDonald, whose PhD study was based on the act of drawing, but now Juliet is engaged with the study of the archive and in particular to contemporary art practice.

We opened the discussion with the simple question "what is an archive?"

Essentially, an archive as a repository of selected material retained for various reasons of posterity or as sources of historical research. Invariably, the archive holds material that is of value, and in this sense value is an emotional connection perhaps far more than a financial one. It is also of value in an esoteric sense.

Types of archives were also delineated, for example; electronic, digital, photographic, film, voice, recordings of sound, objects, museums, paper, library, index vehicle, retrieval, backup, all of these have "value" to someone. All of these are methods to save; it is a reference for the future. The most famous perhaps being Noah's Ark, the word archive is directly linked to the notion of 'ark'.

There is some sense of fragility surrounding the concept of an archive.

The contemporary artist and curator Caroline Christov Bakargiev talks about archives being a form of "composting," i.e., something new comes from the compost. It generates new life.
This notion seemed particularly poignant to me and my concepts of speculative realism and the works of Graham Harman, as he talks about the building of the new from the old and describes it in a single word of anamnesis.

Dr MacDonald then discussed her important thoughts towards how she has succeeded when working towards projects concerning archives. Juliet believes that the key to getting a good proposal for this sort of artistic engagement is to "drive up the value" of the archive itself. In other words, that good publicity helps to generate more revenues for the particular institution or body that you are proposing to work for, through raising additional funding via entry fees and licenses et cetera, so that the archive can continue to survive and flourish.

We then went on to look at the Journal of writing in creative practice. We investigated three articles in particular;
1) "Precious" by Tony Bates and Liz Garland.
2) "House within a House within a House" by Aneka Pettican and Spencer Roberts.
3) "The Archive of Unrealised Artefacts" by Lisa Stansbie.

All these articles were created by lecturers and senior lecturers of the University of Huddersfield and published in the Journal of Writing.

In the article House within a House within a House, the notion of this paper explores the artefacts of the 20th-century psychologist Sigmund Freud. Creating a narrative of Freud's ideas and thoughts, but reinterpreting them through the author's exploration, and by the use of technology including the Microsoft Xbox Connect with laser scanned mapping to create a new and virtual sense of the archive.

"The Archive of Unrealised Artefacts" was created by Lisa Stansbie, in which she used Google patents website (HTTP:// as a source of inspiration and design to create physical representations of ideas and patents perhaps created many decades in the past, to be realised.

This particular lecture and exercise provided an excellent example of the technique of academic reading.   In essence,  it is the behaviour of sitting in a group of say 4 to 6 people and reading out loud sections of an essay or paper to the group and then discussing various thoughts and outcomes of the activity to help generate and explore new ideas from the team. I found this to be particularly useful and will aim to continue to use this method.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Putting space into action-reflections on a symposium held at the University of Huddersfield on 30th of September 2016

The session was introduced by Dr Rowan Bailey and forms part of the work of the Henry Moore Foundation Grant, who provide funding for this event.

The first discussions were given by speakers from as diverse locations such as the Texas University of arts and media; the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. The Department of the history of art, UCL; the school of art history, University of St Andrews; Sheffield Hallam University and finally the Department of art and art history at the University of Stanford, United States.

The afternoon session will culminate in the evening around the development of "Action Space" and "happenings" which arose from the 1960s.
[This was a movement that sought to interact with the public by bringing a sensation of contemporary artistic practice. It was based on inflatable structures being positioned in public spaces such as parks and galleries]. A book available which explores this theme entitled "Crashing Cultures, 1956 to 2016" by Ken Turner [is available through Amazon].

The theme of the day was the concept of performance art, with the idea of a 'cutting' of space, sculpture through leaving a trace beyond the stillness.

Overall the purpose of today's conference is to connect a number of academic papers and thoughts on how space can be reclassified.

The first speaker which was Dawna Schuld, senior research fellow of the Texas Art and Media University, USA, discussed the concept of "Happenstance And Presence: sculpture as incident" in the work of Maria Nordmann.

In the work of Maria Nordmann, the perception generally given to her work is of a public-ness which can be seen as "Conditional Art" and also as "Stealth Architecture". It was articulated that the views presence changes the state of situated-ness through happenstance. For example, this can be seen in Nordmann's work of "installation 12839", Washington Boulevard Los Angeles California (1979). In which, what appears to be the front of a building shopfront in any suburban or town Street, but yet what would be found inside the building would be a totally white space, which effectively creates a sensation of being reset, the perception of the viewer is in effect reset.
"Presence is always with us" quoted Gombrecht, who went on to discuss the importance of the crossing of the threshold, and this is further explained with the concept of an un-concealment versus a withdrawal.

Notions are introduced of presence and time within these works, which challenge the physical space and temporal dimensions. Ultimately what Nordmann was interested in was the erasure of the public versus private space. For example in her work of 1961 which explores the "porosity" of design in architecture for example, "The Garden Grove Community Church", California 1961, which was effectively a religious drive-in space; and inside and outside open church all at the same time.

Using lessons in experimental psychology, ideas of the inside transforming into the concept of being outside (and here another example was given of Robert Irwin's studio, market Street Venice, California (1969)

Exploring the idea of space as support, by re-architecting space to create new reflections in temporal dimensions was a collaborative project by Andre Barron Irwin and Nordmann.

Nordmann's reliance on the incidents of pedestrian footfall in towns throughout the United States makes happenstance all the more serendipitous because so many people in the United States simply do not walk, people almost always drive!

Happenstance, therefore, is habit breaking
the acceptance of randomness or random incidences is essential to make this 'happenning' work, and the idea of a gallery with an open door allows of the viewer both an entry point but also naturally, a way out.

2) the second speaker of the day was Anna Turrock, of the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. Her paper entitled "An Inspiring Wreck: Rooms" was a discussion around the work of Henry Lefebvre. In particular, the discussion around Public School Number One, abbreviated to P.S. 1, situated in Long Island City, Queens, New York which now holds part of the Museum of Modern Art archives for the city of New York.

Ms Turrocks discussion was ostensibly about the reuse of abandoned buildings during the 1970s, and their use by various artists as new and affordable artists studios and galleries. This was often done in a subversive way through the occupation of such buildings, the subversion being of the municipal and bureaucratic authorities by taking possession of them. In effect, this was an interruption of the "do nothing" approach to the usual way that local bureaucratic administrators and authorities gave permission to use such buildings that were already vacant.

The difference between the sites of artistic production versus the sites of an artistic presentation was solved in New York City through the adoption of PS one. In detail, this was effectively the re-purpose thing of the abandoned school in Queens, to create the space to combine both a site of artistic production and the sight of artistic presentation together.

An interesting cultural change occurred in this rundown and dilapidated area and periphery to the site of the PS one which can be described as a kind of gentrification of Manhattan colonialism perhaps?

By removing the original artworks from their place of production which in itself was a temporal moment of production, and then re-presenting them in galleries and exhibitions, it generates a new and possibly sterile museum environment where the typical white space removes the energy of the artwork as it is 'forcefully displaced' from its point of origin.

3) the third presenter was Anna Maria Kanta (of the Department of History of Art, University College, London). She presented a paper on the works of "Ferdinand Kriwet in Televisual Space: Mass Media, the Public As Sculpture and the Architecture of a Counter-Public Sphere".

This was a difficult subject to engage with as it discusses the contemporaneous transmission of optical perceptions for the consumption and reception of viewers. The communication boundaries of the traditional gallery were compared and juxtaposed towards the television based dissemination of the optical information.

A quotation cited by Adorno would be "the demarcation of art spaces and the fluidity of mass media, creates anxieties of, and over, the control of reception".

In Ferdinand Kriwet's work, he explores the interaction of the relationships of language through written texts and the "mobilisation" of the reader.
e.g. the ability of the reader to choose where and how to look, for example, to create a visually "Iris stimulating" and aesthetically pleasing perceptual experience. This relies on physical and mental mobility. This can be thought of in its negative form in examples such as urban advertising, which destroys contemplative state space.

How is this collective experience mediated through social exclusions? Cultural consumption through new media allows mobilisation of perceptual experiences in themselves. The linguistic and sensory realms change the traditional semiotics and messages in communication.

4) Elizabetta Rattalino, of the University of St Andrews School of Art History, presented a paper which discussed "Curating the Invisible: Ecological Implications in Maria Lai's Legarsi Àlla Montagna."
In this article, the speaker discussed the ideas of urban and territorial histories, versus the human utilisation of the countryside. In particular the abandonment of central zones in Italian cities in order to vacate sites that are no longer usable within the context of current culture and modern living

A piece of the art cited as falling within this category is that of Franco Mazzucchelli and his work "A to A" which was an abbreviation for art to abandon, (1982). And in this works, Gianni Berengo, "Legarsi alla Montagna" (1981) and examples of his work which ostensibly were the plating of blue ribbons within and through a village scene, photographs of which were published in "Storia Della Citta", (1981).

[See also the book by Maria Lai, "Diarrio Intimato" (1977), published in "Maria Lai: Inventari Gli Spazi" (1993).

In all the above works the idea that the blue-ribbon interlinked the community metaphorically from the culture of the agricultural and pastoralisation of the village society.

5) this paper was entitled "Hide and Seek: Playing with Visibility" which discussed the notion of hiding in plain sight and was presented by Rose Butler and Becky Shaw of the Sheffield Hallam University.

This was a discussion around the concept and thoughts on visibility in both public spaces and private spaces. What makes art in public spaces, and what makes something that is usually hidden, "visible"?

It asked the question is Utopia a "non-space"? The context of this thought is vital here, and this notion requires a critical context of the actual space being inhabited within that particular moment to define one's behaviour while within that space.

This was delineated further because, as a "seeker", one's perception and sensation are far more vulnerable than that of the "Hider".

In order to carry out experiments in this concept, the artists immersed themselves (what is alien to them), within the space of a hospital training ward. They went on to film the idea of playing hide and seek within the nursing research school, (which is a simulated ward of a general hospital). How humans interact with each other in such a space very much depends upon their own authority to be in that place.

These ideas were explored by Walter Benjamin and discussed in his book "The Arcades."

What these two artists from Sheffield Hallam University were attempting to do, was to problematize the ideas of visibility; the invisibility of visible and the perceptible legitimacy.

6) In the final lecture, Boris Oicherman and Laura Steenberge from the Department of art and art history and the Department of music, of the Stanford University, USA, provided an interesting paper entitled "49 Days for Space: Reflections on an Experiment in Public Learning".

The public face of learning in a particular learning environment of the University was investigated in these collaborative works between an artist and musician. The space in question was made from the utilisation of public space within the University, which in this case was an open corridor to the new Stanford Art building.

Within this purpose-built architecture, there are series of glass walls that divide the learning space from the transit space for students and lecturers. Along a particular series of walls that were 25 m long, each one was rigged up with wall mounted surface microphones that had been bonded to the glass, which worked in tandem with similar output speakers also bonded to the glass to in effect make the walls playback into the public corridor.

They then did a kind of performance act of "public learning", spanning over a period of 49 days by getting the artist, Boris, to learn how to play the guitar, under the tuition of Laura. Performed while situated within this public corridor, and then at the same time, or slightly later, representing the results of the learning back into the same space. This created a kind of soundscape that merged with the background sounds that would typically be emanating from the street in the public space at large.

In conclusion, the whole performance was in effect "democratising the production of knowledge".