Madiha’s Work


I decided to use the 50 bottles of nail polish I’ve collected over a few years as my conceptual portrait. This collection includes all the bottles I’ve bought, as well as many I’ve received as gifts from friends.I always buy individual bottles as I’m picky about colors, but some are from packs that my friends gave me. I think this represents some of my preferences and I also think it would be interesting to know the total cost. 

I painted one brushstroke of every single color onto a piece of paper (even the clear coats). I was going to leave it like this, but I decided to experiment by cutting each square out, and I thought this looked better. I do think a better way to present this would be to take a picture of my nails after I’ve painted them, as this would also include combinations of colours and designs, but that would have had to be done overtime. This also makes me wish I still had at least the bottles of my old nail polish that I either finished or threw out.

I was initially inspired by On Kawara and the way he displays the concept of time through his works. As I said earlier, I would have liked to have taken pictures of how I painted my nails over around ten years and see how I improved and how my preferences changed as I got older. The pictures I took don’t really show all the details or how metallic or matte the polishes are, or how sparkly. Here is the final image I chose:


I usually have a lot of trouble waking up in the morning (especially these past few months), as I am more of a night owl, so I set around 10 alarms on my phone, my alarm clock, and tell my entire family to wake me up if I don’t wake up for something important. One alarm doesn’t work for me because I start to sleep through it after a couple of times. 

I liked the idea of making something ‘useful’ and after hearing The Clock by Christian Marclay and Listening to the ‘C’ by Lee Walton I wanted to do something similar with the ticking of clocks in my house, before realizing I don’t have any analog clocks! I only have a one digital clock and my phone, so I decided to use them in the only way I could, with their alarms to create one horrendous mixture of sound, something that could wake up a hibernating bear. 

I recorded all the different alarm sounds from my clock and my phone for a minute and layered them all on top of each other, in a specific order, going from calmer to more startling alarms. I then added voices and scarier, louder alarms. This includes my mom yelling at me to get up, and car alarms and fire alarms. I made some of the noises come from different directions as well, such as the car alarm, and my moms voice.

I found this extremely unpleasant to listen to, but it would probably work great as an alarm!

(It might be loud, please be careful if you’re using headphones!)


Janet Cardiff’s Alter Banhof walk was my favorite out of the works I listened to. It was very immersive and I almost felt like I was playing a video game or watching a movie because of the merging of reality and fiction, as well as the binaural audio. I think the audio really affects how the place is viewed, and adds to it with information and experiences of the speaker. She interjects her narrative every few moments with a direction the viewer should follow, and I think this is one of the things that would keep the audience focussed on the work while listening to it. There is also so much going on at once that we are not able to dwell on any one sentence; it moves on too quickly. I really like that it does this because it prevents me from overthinking one thing too much and losing what happens after. The fact that her work is able to be listened to by anyone and that she can provide everyone with her own experience without having to be there in person makes this piece intriguing to me.

I found I Really Should, by Kelly Mark very interesting. It was as though a burden was being unloaded. It reminded me almost of a to-do list, except somewhat more stressful, because so many things were being remembered but not written down. It was like remembering something that needs to get done, then immediately checking it off without doing it and moving onto the next thing. It also could be seen as a collection of things that need to be done – and they are being said as if they are objectives that should be completed immediately but many of the things listed can only be done over time with dedication; they are very difficult. Her audio was somewhat repetitive, but as soon as you got used to it, Mark would say something unexpected and trigger thought again. Overall I think this work is very easy to relate to, as we all have things we want to do or finish but are unable to.

I really loved the concept of The Clock, by Christian Marclay. I could definitely see myself watching all 24 hours of this. I noticed that some of the clips contained the ticking of the clock, and some didn’t. The movies that were used are from a large range of timelines, and movies usually sound different depending on time frame (especially old movies) and since they are all the authentic sounds from the movies, it would be very interesting to just listen to this without the visuals. Also interesting to note is that the artist was relying on visual imagery for this, as some of the eclipse do not have any audio cue of the time; it is more of a combination of visual and audio that makes this work what it is.


In the article Steinke says: When I look at masked people my brain still feels like its malfunctioning, a skipping sensation, a tenuous connection is reached for and missed.” Describe a situation from your recent experience where not seeing faces has caused significant misunderstanding, confusion, or grief.

I work in childcare, and the kids having masks on makes it very hard for me to see and understand their facial expressions. It even makes it hard to tell if they are crying or laughing, and sometimes hard to tell what they’re saying since you cannot read their lips or faces. It is significantly easier when they don’t have masks on. One time when I was working in a new classroom, one of the kids asked me if they could use glitter. I asked them if their usual teacher allows them to use the glitter, and they said yes. It’s usually easy to tell when most children are lying, and I’ve had to decode their facial expressions many times in the past to prevent disasters. But in this case, they were wearing a mask and I couldn’t tell if they were telling the truth at all. I had to basically interrogate the poor child, and in the end, I found out they in fact were not allowed to use glitter.

Who are you without your face? How is your experience different without your face in public? Can you imagine new ways to face the world?

I find that I smile a lot, and since I’m really quiet in real life, I rely on smiling to convey appreciation. When I was younger, I would speak so quietly that whenever I would say “thank you” to a store employee, or hello to a passing stranger on the sidewalk, they would never hear me, so I’ve gotten used to just smiling. I’m not that quiet anymore but I still find it difficult to convey expressions with a mask and am always nervous that the other person didn’t hear me and probably thought I was impolite. Other than this, I personally don’t mind wearing a mask in public as much, it makes me feel less self conscious. 

The use of masks also makes it hard to work in a childcare setting. Many children rely on facial expressions to make connections and wearing masks completely destroys this. Many places allow using clear face shields instead of masks because of the psychological harm the prolonged use of masks by adults may cause. This should especially be considered for children on the autism spectrum. I worked with a nonverbal child with autism who relies a lot on sign language and lip reading, and masks made it very difficult for them.


1. With this image I was thinking of how people online can usually say and do things without facing the consequences, and they say things they would never say in real life, as though they are wearing a mask.

2. For the second image I used aluminum foil and sort of wrapped my head in aluminum foil. I think it looks like a creepy sculpture or a very futuristic robot.

3. For my last image I used an old glass fruit bowl. I noticed the clear parts of the glass heavily distort things behind it, and wanted to see how it would look over my face.


I figured that the prompt Adad Hannah gave to his subjects was: “how did the pandemic change your routine?” I decided to ask my mom to hold a pose for one minute while I filmed her. 

“The pandemic has changed things for my whole family. Everyone is at home, and a lot of our plans have been delayed. I’ve been spending lots of time in the backyard now…I started gardening. I’m hoping I can enjoy the outdoors for a few more weeks until it is winter and there is nowhere to go.


For this exercise, I decided to throw a bunch of nickels, dimes, and quarters into the air. I wasn’t able to take the screen off my window, and even then, I didn’t want to lose any coins in the grass and have an animal eat one! 

I was sitting by my window, and it had just rained, so there were still raindrops on the glass. The sun was setting, and the angle of its light made the raindrops sparkle strikingly. This is what initially made me want to throw something shiny in the air on a sunny day for this exercise. I wanted something very reflective, almost enough so that it would look bright white and the object would not be able to be made out. First, I thought of glass (broken glass), but that would have been much too dangerous, and I didn’t know where I would get any. That reminded me of these small crystals we had from an old chandelier, but I couldn’t find those.

In the end I picked out the shiniest coins I had and used those. I really liked the effect they had in the sunlight. I found it interesting that when I threw it the first time (I was using one hand), the coins clumped together, but they did have the reflective look that I was going for. The second time I threw them, I used both hands, and after a few takes, I managed to catch the coins in the air with my camera.


A lot of these video artworks are challenging societal norms to pique the interests of the viewer. They are interesting because, since the artist is interacting with the public, the end result is unpredictable. In a way they also ask the viewer what they would do in this situation. I found myself continuously wondering how I would react if someone around me did something like that without context, or how I would feel doing it.

While watching each video, I wrote down words the actions were making me think of, then I used them to ultimately create a simple instructional sentence to describe the overall message of the video.

Making Changes

  • Disrupt
  • Move any object from one position to another
  • Unusual position
Change the position or form of any object in an urban area.

I noticed how he made sure to be safe with most of his changes, such as the large cylinder; he made sure it wouldn’t go onto the road. I wouldn’t be able to do anything like this since I would be too worried about bothering somebody.


  • Sit at an uncomfortable distance from another stranger
  • Sit close to a stranger who is sitting by themselves/alone
Sit at an uncomfortably close distance from a stranger who is sitting by themselves.

I find it really interesting how no one asked him to move, or moved themselves, or even said anything. The most people did was stare. I know I would have either moved or said something, but maybe that is because the video is older, and back then people may have been less concerned about safety.

Ladder Climb

  • Climb an unsupported ladder to the top
  • Repeatedly
Repeatedly climb an unsupported ladder.

I honestly never would have thought this would be possible. When I read the title, I didn’t expect Jon Sasaki to get so high on the ladder. I was thinking he would maybe reach a maximum of two steps. I feel like I would have lots of fun trying to do this! The entire time I was watching 

Dead End

  • Drive into a dead end, then try to get out 
  • Not in reverse, do a u-turn
  • A large white van
  • Turn the van without damage
Drive a large white van into a dead end, then do a multiple-point turn until the van is facing the opposite direction, then drive it out.

While watching Jon Sasaki do this, I was wondering whether he was trying to do it as fast as possible, because he’s going really close to the walls, but he’s not driving really fast to prevent damage. This video reminded me of how I had to do something like this once because I got myself stuck in a very small, full parking lot, except instead of walls, it was cars, and I had just started driving.

The Distance I can Be From My Son

  • Stay still as your son walks away from you
  • Until son is too far
  • Until you feel he is unsafe
  • Until you are uncomfortable with the physical distance between you and your son
Stay still as your son moves further away from you.

I decided to not include “until you are uncomfortable with the physical distance between you and your son” at the end of the sentence because I felt the instruction should not include the reaction of the person, as that is what the piece depends on (how far she will let her son go).

I also found it very interesting how her son kept looking back at her, yet kept walking away. It shows how dependent he is on his mother, and how this much of a distance is not normal, but also that the son does not feel held back by the fact that his mother is so far away the same way she does.

Several Observations

  • Observe
  • Touch
  • Bend
  • Move
  • Interact with random objects
Interact with random objects by observing, touching, bending, and  moving them. 

I found this video differed from the others. It was not something that goes against societal norms, rather ASMR has become very popular. 


I decided to stand outside in the rain for an hour. I’ve always loved the rain, but never had the opportunity to actually stand outside and enjoy it. Near the beginning the rain was almost a mist, it was very light, and kind of annoying. I could barely keep my eyes open (not that there was much to see at night). I kept hearing quiet noises of things moving in the grass pretty close to me. We have so many animals in our backyard – especially at night — (including skunks, possums, toads, mice, rabbits, snakes, and cats!) that the noise could have been anything and it was too dark to see. After a while the rain got very heavy, and then I couldn’t hear anything either (except rain).

Marina Abramovic was able to put herself in much more uncomfortable, difficult and even painful positions. Me standing in the rain does not even compare to what she has trained herself to do, although I was pretty uncomfortable by the end of the hour. It was already cold outside, and the rain had made me even colder.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how privileged we are to be able to take rain for granted. So many countries don’t get enough rain, and some countries’ economies even depend on it. I thought of how many people collect rainwater because they don’t have any, or to save water for the environment. I somehow felt like I was wasting water by standing there, though it’s hard to explain why. It may have stemmed from thinking about people and animals suffering from annual droughts, and I was there with all the water I could ever want and wasn’t doing anything about it. All in all, it was an interesting experience and I would do it again for sure!

A few days later, there was a very foggy night, and I really wished I could’ve done another hour in it, just to see what it would’ve been like. I’ve heard fog muffles sounds, and I wouldn’t be able to see anything. It would’ve been very interesting, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to go out and do it.


WRITE: How does Sol Lewitt express the notion that “the idea is the machine that makes the art” in his work? What does the artist’s actual hand have to do with the final work in a conceptual art context?

Sol Lewitt comes up with a detailed and well thought out idea or plan and has other artists execute it. By this he expresses that without an idea there would be no art and that ideas are the basis of conceptual art. He provides the methods and diagrams of what he wants the artwork to look like, and trusts that it will be followed, and this process even adds to the artwork; all the experiences of the artists that have worked on it and the personal interpretations they contributed are now part of it. This gives other artists a way to participate in a large project and learn, and also lets Sol Lewitt execute such a large and detailed plan according to his exact wishes and without limitations of skill, age, or ability. 

WRITE: Where do you draw the boundaries around the artworks in this video? What are the artworks? What strategies and tools does Ono use to challenge the viewer? Do you like any of these concept-works? Discuss.

Yoko Ono begins each of her pieces with a related title; some have subsections which add onto the original. Many of the pieces are connected to each other and most seem to promote living in the moment and enjoying life as it is. She encourages using things that are already accessible to create happiness and intrigue, instead of pursuing something beyond reach. This lifestyle stimulates spontaneous actions and feelings, as well as nurtures the urge to explore without worrying about consequences.

I really liked Yoko Ono’s concept of choosing a spot and declaring ownership of it. I think with it she inspires the idea of being confident with your existence; as if she is saying “you belong on this planet and deserve what you want”. I also appreciate End Piece, her conclusion, where she tells her audience to watch other people enjoy their own lives too.

Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit pressures viewers to think of their lives and how they could be having positive influences on themselves and others with only ideas and concepts.

WRITE: Describe two works by Bruce Nauman (include images) where he frames every day actions (non-heroic, banal) as art. How are they “framed” as art, and what does the framing do to our understanding and experience of the actions?

Bruce Nauman’s Bouncing in the Corner is framed from unusual orientations, and his face isn’t shown. His body is still framed in the center of both walls, and the camera angle also changes in Bouncing in the Corner No.2: Upside Down.  Colours are plain and any unnecessary details are left out. It is said in the video that he would rather have his art speak for itself, instead of injecting his personality into it, which might be the reason for the ordinary colours and why he didn’t show his face.

 This framing causes the audience to study the piece for a little longer to try and make sense of the movements and proportions of the individual, especially Bouncing in the Corner No.2. I actually had to watch it very carefully to understand which direction he was moving in and how he was oriented. 

In Raw Materials, Bruce Nauman uses normal speech repeated over and over so many times that its sounds distorted and unfamiliar. He also uses longer recordings of himself speaking. He then arranges these phrases in corridors, and although we are used to hearing sounds from all directions, the combination of noises and phrases that Nauman uses and the way they are arranged sounds unnatural; sounds are arranged so that when the audience walks through the corridor, they walk through noise, then silence, then noise again. The specific order and distances between the sounds all contribute to how the artwork is perceived and interpreted.


I was watching a TED talk by Rodney Mullen, a renowned street skater:

He is so passionate about his work that he started doing tricks on the stage! The noises from the skateboard as it was hitting the floor echoed nicely and reminded me of how much I like the sound of the wheels on a skateboard. I’ve always noticed that the noise it makes is really loud, and sounds almost like thunder, so I thought it would be an interesting way to document a kilometer. 

I skated down the street that I live on for a kilometer and recorded it. My phone was in my pocket recording, since I only wanted the audio. I decided to do it at night so there would be fewer cars and the noise of the skateboard wouldn’t be drowned out.

When I played back the video, it wasn’t pitch black like I expected; sometimes the street lights would shine through, and this tempted me to keep the video. In the end I decided to get rid of it since originally wanted no visuals in the video, and the lights weren’t necessary.

The video includes the sounds of skateboard wheels on asphalt, cars passing me, and me stopping at stop signs for cars (and for a cat!).

2 thoughts on “Madiha’s Work

  1. Madiha:
    Very good notes on Sol Lewitt, Yoko Ono, Nauman , shows evidence of curiosity and engagement with material.
    Kilometre image and description – seems related to conceptual practice, I like that you noticed sound was a big part of skate boarding, and travelled/recorded a kilometer to precisely express the concept, and give us a feel for the incidental adventures/textures of the city along one KM.
    W2: Image of Abramovic/Stillness gesture, and description complete and I appreciate you made yourself uncomfortable/challenged– to create interest and meaning in the work– I love that you stood in, and thought a lot about – the rain. I wish this were a video -or that the image somehow conveyed the experience/discomfort/duration/wetness of it. You might think of ways to re-make it in the future as a complete work. Could use more notes/reflection on Abramovic’s works.
    W3: 6 conceptual sentences are complete and get the idea – to write the simple formula for actions in each piece, as opposed to broader themes. Defenestration image and description are very good, I like how you describe your thought process, and how you come to ideas based on what is around, what you are doing and seeing. The coins are simple, but I like how you tried to catch they way each reflects light,and how they changesshape in the group. Makes for weird, ambiguous but interesting abstract images, in the blue sky.
    W4: Good Distancing video, your mom’s performance of stillness is solid– but I wish she was in the garden, or doing something she normally does in the yard, as if you caught her in a moment or one the way to something real. Good relevant quote. Glad you tried to work with others – wish I saw a bit more reflection on the Hannah methods and works.
    Good effort on these pieces, do go through and think about all the lecture materials and references as thoroughly as you can, there are a lot of good ideas here, and clear direct thinking. Very good work, it’s fun having you in the class!

  2. If you would like to talk with me about your work in progress, readings, exercises, one-on-one comments on your work, and grades – send me an email in the morning to book a 15 minute appointment during my office hours: Thursdays 1:30-3
    And you can show up to a zoom meeting with Nathan anytime during these hours to ask your questions, and get tech support for using software and finishing your projects:
    Mondays and Thursdays 1-4pm

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