The idea of palimpsests has been bouncing around in my head this last few days. I think it’s because I’ve been playing around with context in my practice, and the work itself is often both a representation, and a re-contextualisation of my interaction with whichever environment I inhabit at the time of documentation. By literally layering image of place on top of place, I am creating new information and new visual experiences, which in itself is intriguing.
I’ve played with the idea of removing what I labelled ‘experiential information’ from my work - such as with my white acrylic laser cuts - but I’m starting to feel as though my default approach to expression is simply to build. My art often directly responds to whatever it is that I have just made, in a self-sufficient cycle of creation, and surely that’s exactly what memories are; accumulations of information upon information, never insular, always complex and unclear. Is this another element to my paradox? To offer the viewer an insight into my consciousness is an impossibility, so I have in the past attempted to show them a representation of this contradiction, in the form of nothingness, or something abstract and hard to decipher. Perhaps I should instead attempt to overwhelm them with a hoard of information?
As part of my MFA I have been asked to question my position as an artist in a contemporary art setting. To answer this I need to address the following criteria:-
Identity - For me, identity is a fundamental aspect of my work. My personal interaction with the world around me and how I absorb and then externally relocate this information, all define my identity as a maker and a practitioner.
Value - How do I gage the value of my work? In a literal sense, is it saleable? I know that I personally value the amount of time, money and energy it takes to create my art. Some of my work is physically quite tiring to make, and yet the outcome can also be so ephemeral. This relationship between energy and legacy, physical and ephemeral, draws attention to the fragility of art, creating a sense of delicacy and finiteness.
Context - I’m in the process of exploring context. My work is often grounded in the reflection of an experience, and therefore has a geographical residence. In the past this has been troublesome, especially when people start to assume the imagery has more significance that it actually does. For example, by using Brecon as an experiential platform to engage with my concept, people sometimes assume my work is about nature. Investigating how my art is responded to when displayed in different contexts could help to clarify how I define my position as a conceptual artist.
Medium - Medium has always proven to be a key element in the realisation of my material ideas, in the sense that I often explore my work through making. Each piece informs the next, with the objective being the body of work.
Audience - Being chosen to participate in this year’s Tempting Failure has really opened up questions of audience response, reaction and immersion. How will a viewer engage with work that is essentially autoethnographical?
—Response To The Island
One of the pieces I’m currently working on for my installation next month is a video in which I am making a batch of experiential paper, composed entirely of matter gathered from the location of the show. This paper, in some secondhand way represents my engagement with the space in which my installation will take place, but more than that, it is an attempt to articulate the distance between myself, and those around me. The differences between my encounter, my internal absorption of the world around me, and that of the spectator.
I’ve always strived to articulate the concept of inarticulation. And in many ways it’s a paradox I feel runs throughout art history. When a classical painter attempts to show you their view of a landscape, surely they fail every time? Because you miss so much of the experience that is abstract and unpaintable. Even a photographer is governed by the limitations of their medium; the unnatural rectangular framing that is the accepted format for the display and creation of images and the information therefore peripherally missed. But fundamentally, every individual perceives things through their own thoughts and experiences, so is representational art therefore an attempted depiction of the impossible? Not all art forms fall into this discussion, but it’s a thought that intrigues me and drives my practice.