Week 11 – Conceptual Portrait

I wanted to capture myself through my own gestures and habits that I repeat often. Anytime throughout the week that I noticed myself doing one of these gestures (i.e rolling thread, bouncing knees, etc) I would record it. The settings change as a result of this, sometimes outside, other times inside. I liked the idea of getting the essence of someone through just their gestures and habits.

Week 10 – March 23

Lecture notes:

  • On Kawara -Self Observation
  • 3 types of works: post cards, maps, and lists
  • 12 year span
  • represent ways in which he was observing himself
  • postcards – “I got up” at ____ time sent on a postcard twice a day
  • postcards sent to thousands of recipients, 1968-1969 (over 8000 postcards)
  • announcing beginning of day, started in Mexico City 1968 to Kasper Koenig
  • lists – “I met”
  • readymade poem of names of people met each day
  • maps – “I went” trace his path traveled on a photocopy of a map of New York city where he was living
  • maps had similar proportions or colors for continuity, marking where he woke up with a red dot
  • “Today” series started in 1966 and ongoing
  • handcrafted cardboard boxes (like a shoebox lid!) painted with a monochromatic background with a specific date on the front, the back contains the newspaper from that day
  • one of them the month is placed first, but others have the number of the day listed first, why not consistent? did it change based on where he was living and how they present the date in that country?
  • One year performance 1980-1981 by Tehching Hsieh, (aka time clock piece) the artist punches a time clock every hour on the hour for a year and documented it with the cards, film strips, and a time lapse video.
  • sometimes the artist missed punching it, human failure or mechanical failure represented
  • time-lapse video is fast and feels deranged much like how the artist would have felt doing this task every hour
  • “you can consume all time until you die”
  • no matter how hard you work, or how lazy you may be, we all experience the same passing of human time
  • every time is different but also the same
  • artist shaved his head before the piece began to show the passing of time
  • wearing a dreary mechanic work uniform appears sad, no smiling, speaks to the fact that we work until we die and it sucks lmao
  • John Baldessari – I will not make any more boring art, 1971
  • the artist writes out the promise to himself to never make any more ‘boring” art
  • is this piece considered boring? is this his last “boring” work or the beginning of his exciting work? Up to the viewer I guess
  • the piece is cut off implying the artist wrote it many more times
  • Douglas Gordon, List of Names, 1990 to ongoing – artist engraved the name of every person he has met displayed in columns (similar to a war memorial)
  • kinda creepy because it seems like they all died? or maybe its his hit list lmao
  • documentation of every person that the artist can remember meeting, shows how many people we get to meet in our lives and how we are influenced by them
  • shows how the mind works because the list is not entirely accurate as the artist forgot some people he has met, very humanistic piece about our experience on earth
  • In & Out – 1997 ongoing until 2032 by Kelly Mark
  • punched a time card when entering and then again when leaving the studio the artist works in
  • documentation of how much time we actually put into making our artwork, a piece that literally shows the amount of time and effort that goes into being an artist
  • Hiccup by Kelly Mark – the artist stood outside Central Tech High School in downtown Toronto from 845-9am acting out choreographed gestures to immulate the student body
  • Artist wore the same clothes and repeated the same gestures in the same order using a taped recording of instructions playing through her headphones (smoking, drinking coffee, shifting feet, reading a book etc)
  • reminds me of how highschoolers just want to “fit in” and the artist is trying to fit in with the students even though she isnt a student at all
  • orchestrated movements for ordinary actions is quite funny, speaks to “masking” and how people will act to fit in
  • much like we as people are “preforming” everyday as ourselves
  • A Portrait of David, 1994 – Micah Lexier
  • boys named david from age 1-75 arranged side by side from left to right, comparing height
  • almost humorous because they have no connection other than being called David
  • David Then & Now, 2004.
  • photographed the original davids again 10 years later and compare them to the past photograph
  • documents the passing of time as each person experiences it
  • Katie Patterson: Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Solheimajökull 2007 literally the coolest piece ever no joke this is so swag
  • my girl katie here recorded the sounds of 3 different glaciers in iceland and pressed them into 3 recorded. She then cast them and frozen using the melted ice water from each of the corresponding glaciers
  • a time capsule or portrait of the glaciers in the form of a record
  • the melt and are gone forever much like the glaciers – speaks to global warming and how little time we have
  • bruh why is there no recording of the sound?? i wanna here it so bad but it does make it special knowing you could only experience it once and then its gone
  • All the Dead Stars – 2009
  • A map documenting the locations of just under 27,000 dead stars – all that have been recorded and observed by humankind
  • the sky that we have been living under and the stars that have died over our existence on earth – a recording of our existence through dead stars
  • Adrian Piper – Catalysis III, 1970 the artist dressed in distasteful or odd clothing and walked through the city, capturing and experiencing the side glances and confused faces as she walks past
  • “wet paint” written on the front of her shirt, im assuming is still wet, its possible for people to walk by her and get wet paint on them, which people always try to avoid when painting a house
  • forces people to confront things that are odd or repulsive
  • The Mythic Being, 1973 – artist donned an afro, stache and sunglassses as well as a masculine personality and experienced life on the city streets as this mystic being, and watched the response of the public
  • we can be whoever we want and experience life as different people – just by dressed one way or another we are perceived as such
  • how she experiences the world as a man
  • Calling Card, 1986 – literally another amazing piece by Piper, she created passive-aggressive “call out” cards that actually called people out on their shit
  • one card is addressing anyone around her that makes a racist remark, the other to the men that assume she is looking for someone just because she is alone
  • i would love to have these honestly these are so cool
  • such a badass way to directly call people out on their shit
  • take care of yourself – sophie calle
  • had several different women read and intpret a breakup email ending in “take care of yourself”
  • feminist critique of women’s work in the post-industrial, service-based economy or a commentary on women’s current roles as both producers and consumers of culture
  • Spring Hurlbut – Memorial portraits, representing the intangible:
  • the ashes of dead people, photographed in the air
  • taking the last elements of someones life, and reincarnating them for a moment in time, gives them energy and movement, a last bit of life
  • able to connect with those who we have lost through art
  • investigation of mortality
  • Felix Gonzales Torres: love, loss, sexuality, sickness, gender, etc represented through mundane human objects like candy, paper, string etc
  • untitled 1991 – photograph on billboard of the artists empty bed, the presense of 2 people who had once been laying in it is evident in the indents on the pillows and sheets – speaks to the loss of his partner from AIDS
  • Perfect lovers – 2 clocks, 1st appears later than the other, each clock representing a lover
  • Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), 1991 – 175 pounds (approx) of candy, representing the weight of his lover who recently died of AIDs
  • viewers are welcome to take a candy – representing how AIDS took pieces of his lover away until there was nothing left
  • Lover Boys 1991 – 161 kg of candy, the weight of he and his lover together. viewers can take a candy away to represent the loss the couple suffers. the staff refills the pile each day to symbolize enternity for the 2 of them
  • candy is sweet and represents love and affection to loved ones, as the candy fades much like our bodies, the sweet sugary love stays behind

Conceptual Portrait Proposal:

Brainstorming Ideas:

  • one sided recording of phone calls with loved ones made into a song
  • a set of objects photographed and only the artist knows how they are connected
  • height of loved ones in string lights – my loved ones bring light to my life
  • photos of shadows of people
  • how much money I spend each day
  • time lapse of all my drawings or pieces as an artist – artist portrait
  • graffiti found objects – is this allowed?
  • photos of buildings I can see from my apartment building
  • recording of mannerisms / gestures of people

Final Idea:

  • the artist records the mannerisms, gestures, and physical habits that are common to the artist
  • my portrait through the mannerisms I have
  • fidgeting, bouncing legs, rolling thread, biting lips, play with hair, etc
  • little things only people who are close to you know about
  • video – 3 minutes max

Week 8 – March 16

After finishing my audio proposal, I got straight to work recording the pieces I would need to create my final piece. I wanted the audio to not just be recorded sounds of things around town, mixed together to sound like fall. I wanted it to be unique to me as an artist and the kind of art I like to create. So instead of recording real crows cawing, I recorded my friend Emma imitating the sound of crows. l wanted to create the sounds myself to add a hint of humour to the piece, if you listen closely enough, you can tell its a human imitating a crow, and I think its hilarious. This idea was inspired by favourite audio clip in last weeks audio content by Matthew Sawyer entitled “Piss Record”. I thought this piece was so funny, and I wanted my piece to be humorous as well. My friend Alex recorded the wind audio for me, which is loud and fades in and out of the piece, if you listen with headphones, the wind moves from one ear to the other in the middle, to give the listener a sense actually walking somewhere and the wind direction changing. Similarly, the crow fades in, to sound as if it is flying towards you and getting louder. These audio clips, accompanied by the audio from my proposal (the sound of stepping on paper packaging to imitate stepping on leaves), sound exactly like fall, but with a hint of humor. I also wanted the piece to strike you with a feeling of nostalgia for fall, much like the way “Lost in the Memory Palace” by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, triggers your own memories and experiences.

Week 7 – March 9th

Two of the artists that stuck out to me in this weeks audio art content is Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s “Lost in the Memory Palace”, an interactive exhibit with aural and visual experiences. Each room contains a combination of sounds and visual pieces that mix historical, realistic aspects with fiction. The result feels time-altering and blends with the viewer’s own memory and experiences. These works stuck out to me because they reminded me of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity room exhibit. You could walk into different rooms and step into a new feeling and become flushed with memories. Some rooms contained large polka-dot covered balls hanging from the ceiling and ground, some of which were interactive. Much like the Infinity Room, Memory Palace is a transformative experience that brings the viewer into the art, literally. Your body is experiencing so much visual and auditory stimulation, that you are reminded of other times in your life when you felt that same way. I think this is so interesting because your body is able to remember things that your mind might not. I really wanted to play with this in my audio piece. My absolute favourite audio piece though, was Matthew Sawyer’s Piss Record, in which he narrates and embellishes the sound of his morning piss with musical instruments. The sound of the strong stream of piss accompanied by horns, whistles, and vocals is truly hilarious to me. The first time I listened to the piece I was only expecting him to narrate it, so when the instruments kicked in I was taken aback and I couldn’t help but laugh. The combination of extremely loud pissing and nonsensical horns and whistles is so outrageously stupid that it made me cackle. I loved this piece not just because it gave me a giggle, but because it was such a mundane thing as taking a morning piss, but embellished as if it were a song. The idea of making simple things into something more fantastical or humourous it what art is all about for me. Inspired by these artists, I had a lot of ideas for my audio piece:

  • recording the noisy neighbors and making music out of the sounds
  • narrate the neighbors noises
  • record my friends in a conversation and embellish with instruments (if they are fighting just add funny horns and whistles) (dumb conversation = dramatic music)
  • Record my bunny eating lettuce, narrate
  • use the sound of something and add other noises to make it into a memory
  • record the loud pipes in my roommate’s room, make it into a club bop

I had so many ideas running around in my head that it took a while to decide, until I happened upon incredibly crunchy shredded paper that was used for packaging my friend’s haircare. Each piece is bent like a little accordion and the sound it make when I scrunched down on them all reminded me of fall leaves. From hearing that sound, my body remembered walking home from high school in the fall and crunching on the fallen leaves. It gave me such a distinct and vivid memory that I wanted to use the sound in my piece. My proposal for my auditory art piece is to take the sound of walking on the shredded paper, and re-create that memory. I want to add sounds of the wind blowing through the trees, footsteps on gravel, and crows cawing everywhere (my hometown is FULL of them). As a base, I recorded the sound of my friend walking on the shredded paper to see if it sounded how I wanted, and I am very happy with the sound it made.

Test Audio – Crunching Leaves (Paper Packaging)

I am hoping that once I add the additional sounds of walking down the street during fall, listening to the audio will transport the viewer to a specific memory of crunching fall leaves.

Week 6- March 2

This weeks content was very intriguing because it has to do with altering faces. As an artist one of my favorite things to draw is faces so reading about and looking at the multitude of ways we can change them interested me greatly. I love the mystery it adds to the pieces when parts of the face are covered or altered because you can no longer read the persons emotions from their face. After reading the article “Turn and Face the Strange” by Darcey Steinke I couldnt help but be struck by a specific statement she made, “When I look at masked people my brain still feels like its malfunctioning, a skipping sensation, a tenuous connection is reached for and missed”. This idea is one that I am very familiar with. I am someone that figures things out with the help of visual aid, so when I am unable to see something and use it to gather information, I often get confused or it leads to miscommunication. Recently I had a miscommunication within my friend group, and one of my friends does not like confrontation, she prefers to talk over text. I personally like to talk in person so that I can read their facial expressions, body language, and tone to understand their perspective better. As a result we spoke over text, and I struggled to tell when she was upset with me because I could not read her face or hear the tone in which she spoke it in. This lead to an even bigger miscommunication, which could only be resolved with a face to face chat.

One of the artists that inspired me when reading the text was Gillian Wearing. I was first struck by her when I saw the piece Self Portrait of Me Now in Mask 2011. Gillian faces the camera wearing a mask that matches her skin tone. The mask has only her eyebrows drawn on, and her eyes can be seen behind the cutouts of the mask. Her eyes are what connected me to this piece because it felt that she was looking right at me and I had no choice but to look back. At first glace the picture seems normal, but the closer the look you realize its a mask, forcing the viewer to look at it longer. The simplicity of the image works in its favor because it just adds to the mystery and creepiness. Her eyes look almost scared as if she is trapped behind the mask.

Another artists work that inspired me was Maurizo Cattelan’s Goodnight, 2020. Similar to Gillians piece, everything but the eyes are covered. In this case, the subjects entire face is blacked out with marker. The subjects eyes appear happy or angry, its hard to tell because the rest of his face is covered. Yet again I feel the confusion and frustration that Steinke mentioned because I am unable to connect with the person in the picture. I cannot tell if they are angry or happy, and it feels as though my brain is trying to connect with something that isn’t there. As a result, looking at the piece makes me feel confused, which only intrigues me more. This face feels aggressive to me, perhaps it’s the eyes so full of emotion or the stark black surrounding them.

Without our faces, its very difficult to connect with people. I find the only way I can connect with someone wearing a mask is if they have their eyes uncovered (window to the soul or whatever). I think this is why I am so amazed by the works of Gillian and Maurizo. Somehow they are able to create a connection to the viewer while still covering most of their face. This is the main inspiration behind my works this week. I wanted to cover my face but leave behind a few recognizable things so that the viewers are still able to connect with it.

I knew I wanted to wrap things around my face because I love the idea of wrapping yarn or string around the eyes, mouth or ears (see nothing, say nothing, hear nothing etc). For my first attempt I wrapped holographic string around my face, and after trying to pull it off (unsuccessfully) I took another picture and I preferred how it looked over when I had my face entirely covered. The second attempt I used belts because I wanted to try covering up more of my face to see what effect it gave the piece. I find this one more mysterious because of only 1 eye being shown and the nose is covered. Lastly I put a wall decoration that my mom made me for my window over my face. Its made of twine and small wooden frog and mushroom charms. I chose this because of its personal connection as well as the simplicity of it. I love the thin string because it lets so much of my face show while the wood charms cover small parts. I like how it only slightly obscured the face rather than covering it entirely.

Week 4 – Feb 02

Adad Hannah: Social Distancing Portraits 2020:

What are the kinds of people he observes? How are they different from one another? How do the portraits change over time? How do the portraits witness important moments of the pandemic? What new insights or meaning does he bring with these videos – especially with so many of them?

Adad Hannah observes many different kinds of people for his piece, especially those who are participating in social distancing or following covid 19 guidlines. The portraits over time have less people in them as less people are going out due to harsher restrictions over time. The portraits are witness to the important historical moment of the Covid 19 pandemic, they are small moments within history that record the culture of society during the time. Adad brings new meaning to these videos by creating a collection that captures the essence of society during such an important historical moment.

For my piece, I chose to take a portrait of my friend Alex. I chose Alex as my model because he represents the average student during the pandemic. I wanted to capture Alex in his “nature habitat” because it speaks to the way that covid dictates the way we live now. In the video, Alex is laying on his bed in front of his tv with his game controller in hand. I chose this pose because it tells a story of what we as people have been doing during the pandemic. I wanted to capture a small moment in pandemics history through its people. For 1 minute, Alex stares at the TV and fiddles with the game controller. Music plays gently from his laptop and the red lighting in the background creates a tense feeling to the video, reminescent of the intensity of the pandemic. Alex is at home following the stay at home order during the pandemic, and during his free time loves to play video games since he can’t do much else. “I am so bored all the time, I bought a ps5 just to keep myself busy. The pandemic has zapped all my motivation to do anything else.”

Week 3

Making Changes – Lee Walton

Move an object in the city slightly to change the image in the frame.

Sitting – Lee Walton

Find someone in the city on a bench and sit directly beside them.

Ladder ClimbJon Sasaki

Try to climb an unsupported ladder.

Dead End, Eastern Market, Detroit – Jon Sasaki

Course correct a large vehicle in a dead-end alleyway.

The Distance I Can Be From My Son — Lenka Clayton

Record the physical distance you can withstand to be away from a loved one.

Defenestrate Object

I was really excited to try this week’s assignment but unfortunately, I could not. My apartment building windows all have screens on them that I tried to pry off but I couldn’t. So here’s my attempt to throw clothing out the window. I chose clothes as my object because it reminded me of when in movies the couple breaks up and one person throws the other person’s stuff out the window. I liked the emotional charge behind the idea of throwing someone’s clothes out the window.

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Week 2

After reading and watching the movie about Marina Abramovic, I was very intrigued by her work. For my weekly assignment, I chose this gesture in which I am underneath a small side table and laying on one arm on the carpet. I chose this pose specifically because it reminds me of when we were all kids and used to lay down on the carpet floor in front of the TV and watch cartoons. I wanted to see how long and how difficult it would be to hold a pose I used to sit in for hours as a child. It felt very nostalgic to me and I feel like the photos reflect that. As time went on, my arms began to hurt and go numb, so I had to adjust my position slightly throughout the exercise.

Week 1

Sol Lewitt – For All to See


  • 60’s new way of making art
  • Instructions and diagrams are given to other artists and students to make the piece
  • Sol Lewitt acts as the conductor of the orchestra (the artists)
  • Artists recreate Sol’s piece in the museum and move it to a larger area for all to see
  • a realm only understood by the heart

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 expresses the notion the “idea is the machine that makes the art”, within his work by incorporating a team of artists and students to help him create new artwork. Lewitt lays out the blueprints for the piece and lets the artists go to work. Each line, angle, and the colour is written out by Lewitt. His idea is the machine that fuels these artists to make the art. The artist’s hand in a conceptual art context is not the focus, but rather the planning and thinking that goes into it. This can be seen in the influence Sol Lewitt has on his piece, even though he did not physically create it. Though Lewitt’s hand was never actually touching the piece, his idea was the machine behind the art.

Yoko Ono – Grapefruit Book


  • Describing each artwork step by step
  • Force the listener to visualize the work or sometimes create it
  • Asking the listener to do tasks
  • Painting to be stepped on
  • Laugh piece
  • Fly piece
  • Shadow piece
  • Sun piece
  • Drill two holes into the canvas and look at the sky
  • Step on a painting

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.

The boundary around the artworks in Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit book is the lack of visual aid. Yoko Ono describes each piece to you, rather than show you the image of the piece once completed. The artworks are the creation of the piece, broken down into simple instructions by the artist herself. She describes each step, such as breaking holes into a canvas to see the sky. Yoko Ono uses simplicity as a strategy to pull the listener into their mind and visualize the art creating itself. She challenges the viewer by asking them to do tasks, some more challenging or time-consuming than others. One suggestion Ono makes is to “not say negative things” for several days. I deeply enjoy some of these concepts works because they act as a kind of meditation because they force you to imagine things in your mind rather than let you see them. It breaks down the art into each layer until you have created the entire piece. The works also challenge you to make changes, or try new things and make new creations.

Bruce Nauman “The True Artist Helps the World”

  • Not “perfumey” or pleasant
  • What the hell going on
  • Pieces are cohesive and fill up space
  • Used what was there
  • Observational
  • Humour
  • Minimalist sculpture
  • Neon pieces involving word spirals and sex

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?

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Self-Portrait as a Fountain, 1966 – Bruce Nauman

The work that first caught my eye by Bruce Nauman was Self-Portrait as a Fountain, 1966. The piece is simple, yet it intrigued me right away because of the humanistic nature of the photo. I love the hands gently floating in the air, one eye looking right into the camera. It takes the simple action of the artist spitting water out of his mouth and makes it art. Bruce frames the subject within a black background to give a sense of drama to the piece, but Bruce himself is well lit. His hands act as a type of frame as well, one on each side of the picture. Our understanding of the experience of the action changes and it feels more intimate and charmingly human.

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For Beginners (all combinations of the thumb and fingers 2010) – Bruce Nauman

Bruce Nauman’s piece For Beginners (all combinations of the thumb and fingers, 2010) is another piece that exemplifies how Bruce Nauman frames everyday actions as art. The subject of the piece is simple hand gestures that anyone with two hands could make. The photos are blown up and placed in a gallery. The black and white backgrounds act as a frame for the hands. The framing, size, and quality of the photos change how we feel when looking at the hands, something we see every day. The artist plays with shadow and light to capture your attention. Nauman could have used just one hand but chose to portray both hands beside each other as we have a predilection for symmetry.

Making a Kilometre

Brainstorming Ideas

  • Km of houses ( take a picture of each house within a km)
  • Km of receipts (way too long to make this)
  • Rollerskate 1 Km (uh no thanks way too cold)
  • Drive a Km with Sibling and roommates in the car, tell bad jokes the entire way
  • play bad music for a km ( please god no)
  • record audio during a car ride for 1 km – don’t tell anyone in the car, just see what u catch ( this is kinda creepy maybe)
  • Km of clothing tied together ( that’s really long )
  • walk a km with Peaches ( too cold outside, cant use bubble bag because she wont be able to stabilize herself with 1 front paw )
  • Walk a km with Ferguson in the bubble bag (perfect because Phoebe would rip me to shreds if I tried to stuff her in a bag but Fergie loves it)

Taking Fergie for a Kilometre-long Walk but not a Walk Because He is in a Bag

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I chose to take my siblings’ cat Fergie on a walk for my kilometer. It was too cold to take him on a leash and harness plus he is too young for that anyway, so I whipped out the bubble bag and began my journey. I downloaded an app to keep track of my distance and set out with no particular path in mind. I didn’t want to make my kilometer too artistic by going somewhere special or drawing something funny, so I just walked my usual walking path until I reached my goal. I was joined by my sibling and roommate Alex, and of course Fergie. We walked until we reached a point where the path was entirely ice, so we turned around. Soon after, I had reached a Kilometre.

2 thoughts on “Regan

  1. Good for week 4 Regan, in fact it’s a great response to the assignment and understanding of Hannah’s work – and a thoughtfully finished video, but the rest of your course work is missing –
    I’ll check in later this week for grading,

  2. The Repetitive Gestures portrait is such a good idea, I think it could be expanded, imagine on multiple screens? Slow-mo not needed though, the natural rhythms of things are important… thanks for all of your thoughtful work Regan!

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