This past week we were able to connect and introduce ourselves via zoom to acquaint ourselves to the course as well as one-another. We began our introductions by allowing each student to pick an item that best represented an element of their personality; many students chose to explain their connections to houseplants and small personal trinkets. I chose to show a clay lighter sleeve that I had recently made to look like a human eye; which connects two of my passions; anatomy and art. We then looked through the course outline and asked any questions regarding the upcoming semester.
In the following class, we began our research into some of the more well-known conceptual artists of the century to best exemplify conceptual artworks in order to inspire us to create our first project. We looked into artists such as Sol Lewitt who uses code and analytical diagrams to conduct other artists to create his visions. We looked at Yoko Ono and the written work she has created as artistic instruction. Furthermore we looked into Bruce Nauman who focuses greatly on the banal moments of the human experience which greatly opposes the precise and accurate depictions that other artists like Sol Lewitt worked towards. Finally, we were introduced to our upcoming assignment; conceptualizing 1 kilometre without using the expected visual art mediums (to think outside the box).
Notes on Sol Lewitt:
I think that when Sol Lewitt says that, “The idea becomes the machine that makes the art” he is referring to the way his conceptual creativity is what fuels and drives the hired artists physical skill and thus the final piece of art and its outcome. He is referring to this process as a machine as it can resemble one of a conveyor belt in a sort or another factory-like process of creation. I found it to be fascinating how he would plan his works in such an analytical and methodical way which was then interpreted by his hired artists to create the final work. I found it to be enlightening that he had such a methodical perspective on his art and further compared the process to one of a machine.
I think that when it comes to conceptual art, the perspectives on which the viewers judge and decide what is and isn’t art is inherently a part of conceptual art itself. I think that art has always meant to stretch boundaries and force viewers to change their ways of thinking, stretch their perspectives and to see things in new lights and I think that conceptual art is the greatest example of this. In the case of Sol’s work, I think that his work exemplifies this concept within conceptual art and stretching perspectives on what is and isn’t art and who is allowed to call themselves the artist. In this case, I applaud Sol for not conforming to norms around creating art as long as he put an emphasis on also crediting the other artists involved as I think they were also very much a part of the “machine”.
Notes on Yoko Ono:
I have always had conflicting feelings regarding Ono’s work. I can remember seeing some of her works as a child and being confused as to how it was “art” and it has been interesting to be able to revisit these pieces with a newfound and more mature perspective. I can remember enacting one of Ono’s instructional works with my father when I was young and taking joy in the simplistic activities shared with my dad. Now I can look at this piece with congruent memories which greatly enhances its value for me. When I look at some of her other pieces, I am able to appreciate its groundbreaking approaches of bringing light to mundane activities but I must say that i prefer some of her more involved works. I believe that this is exactly what Ono had intended when she creates these pieces, with he intention being on the act itself being the art.
Notes on Bruce Nauman:
I think that Bruce Nauman is the perfect example of an artist who has mastered the skill f framing banal objects and actions and successfully posing them as art. In some of my favourite pieces by Nauman, he enacts extremely simplistic actions repetitively and compiles these into videos. For example, in this piece Nauman walks around his studio playing the same not on the violin over and over.
or in this piece where Nauman bounces his body against the wall repetitively. He frames these actions as art and then allows the viewer to be the judge of this. Yet, because he is the artist and the one responsible for the work, Nauman has all of the power in proving that it is in fact art if he believes it to be.
To approach this assignment, I began brainstorming about what came to my mind when I thought of a kilometre; a walk, a drive, an errand, legs, wheels and feet. Initially, I thought about the things that were within a kilometre distance to myself when I was at home. After doing some googling and navigating, I realized that my local Starbucks was exactly one kilometre away from my home. Admittedly, I walk this route very frequently but was unaware that it was exactly 1km distance from my home. To conceptualize this distance I wanted to represent my walk without simply bringing back my coffee cup or taking a video of the experience. To do this, I began thinking of the ways that I could describe a distance and show a journey without using mediums that I am used to such as drawing or creating images. I began to think of the ways that the body shows distance, the way it can hold time, in wrinkles, in scars, in the way that clothes tatter over time, shoes wear down and socks grow holes. I wanted to show this measure of distance in this project. At first, I thought about walking around in a new pair of shoes to see the difference before and after, but soon realized that meant buying a pair of shoes that I likely did not want or need. Then I thought about walking around in the snow in my bare feet, which seemingly, sounded very unpleasant and fairly unsafe. Yet, this concept rekindled memories of working and volunteering with homeless youth when I was just a teenager myself. I remember the ways that kids my own age would survive Canada’s winters and the brutalities that their bodies faced over the season and furthermore, the ways that their clothes would become entirely tarnished by salt and dusty slush. Each season, my volunteer group would organize an evening where we would spend the night outdoors alongside the youth who were less-fortunate; and for the first time I was able to grasp, even an ounce of what those kids dealt with daily. This concept as a whole inspired me to create something that could incorporate these powerful memories for me. I wanted to portray the physical dirt that could be built up over a short distance and have a canvas that could display this. I knew that walking around in bare feet would not be a smart decision as a I live in a busier area and did not want to put my health at risk but it was still important to me to challenge myself to be uncomfortable in this feeling. I chose to wear a new pair of white socks to wear on my walk in hopes that this would be the best canvas to create the product I had intended for. I also already had these at home after receiving many new pairs of Christmas socks.
On Sunday morning, my roommate and I ventured to my local Starbucks to grab our daily coffees. After we had picked them up, I then changed into my brand new pair of white socks and we proceeded to walk the 1km distance home. I quickly realized how long a kilometre could feel in -5’ weather but again tried to remind myself of the intentions behind this project. After what felt like a good while, we arrived back at home where I proceeded to remove the socks in order to capture the final product in a photo. Lastly, I decided to tie this project together by storing the pair of dirty socks inside my empty coffee cup to reuse the cup itself and to show not only the distance but also the beginning point of the kilometre.
Today in class we were able to look at and discuss each-other’s kilometre assignments. I really enjoyed the pieces that were shown and found the explanations to be very revealing of one-another’s artistic and overall thought processes. I specifically enjoyed Emma’s work which portrayed a continuous thought during a kilometre walk, Bella’s overlay of images showing a kilometre of yarn, Celeste’s overlay of music, and Kayla’s animation of a cat running past flag markers.
We were then introduced to our upcoming homework assignments where we have been instructed look into Marina Abromovic’s work and watch the film…… we were also asked to capture a still image of a performance piece where we are to sit entirely still within a space.
Notes on Marina Abromovic:
I am vaguely familiar with Abromivic’s work, specifically her “Artist is present” piece. After researching her work and life further, I have gained a much deeper appreciation for her as an artist as well as the piece that I was already familiar with. I found all of her pieces to be extremely emotional, and occasionally triggering for me but this almost deepened my appreciation. I love all types of art, but when a piece is able to evoke an emotional response from me, that is when I am truly impressed. I found it to be specifically interesting how she was raised and how she feels how that has had an affect on her art. Her piece ”Art must be beautiful, Artist must be beautiful” specifically spoke to me. In my past, I have struggled with obsessive compulsive disorder which has affected the ways that I view myself and everything that I create, including my art. I can remember experiencing emotional fits and times of overstimulation which I feel, Marina conveyed in this piece. This piece overwhelmed me, but in that way, I think it was extremely successful.
Notes on film:
Overall I found this film to be truly fascinating and have found a deep appreciation for Marina’s work. I was taken aback by the ways in which she would put her body at risk in such dramatic ways to create her ideal product. At times, I found this display of strength to be disturbing, especially in her pieces that involved self-mutilation, yet as a whole I deeply appreciated her commitment to her craft. I found it to be especially interesting when she spoke on the ways in which the art community views her today versus in the beginning of her career and how society begins to accept your work as “actual art” the older you grow, or at least they pretend to.
For this assignment, we were instructed to sit entirely still for one hour in a specific location and capture a still image of this experience. Initially, I was quite stumped by this project and struggled to conceptualize a way in which I felt was unique enough to submit. I began brainstorming ideas for locations but felt that because of community health guidelines, I would not be able to effectively execute a more public display of this project. Instead, I decided to challenge myself to remain completely still while enduring Canada’s winter temperatures.
Sit Still Assignment:
Last week, we introduced our kilometre assignment which stirred up past memories of working alongside homeless youth during my teenage years and since then, it has been weighing heavily on my mind. On Sunday morning, my roommates and I walked to grab our daily coffees, but along the way, encountered a woman standing along a road median collecting donations for her and her family. This caught all of us off guard as we walked-past, silencing our complaints about the snow on our faces and cold toes. After returning home, I knew that I wanted to continue my theme from last week and shed light to the ways in which less-fortunate Canadians live and survive our brutal winter seasons.
In 2017, I had the privilege of being a part of multiple events that worked to share experiences and new perspectives amongst Canadian youth, both fortunate and less. For a specific event, my group decided to spend one of the colder nights of that winter season, outside alongside local homeless youth. I can remember trying to slow my breathing; willing my body to warm itself. I remember the excitement of the night dying down and being left alone with the noises of the streets at night. I can remember trying to empathize with my peers but knowing this was out of my reach. I could feel the physical sensations that they had experienced time and time again, yet I could not grasp the fear and unease that these kids lived with constantly. I remember the struggle to simply find a safe (as possible) location, and setting up a secure location in an area that we could feel comfortable enough to close our eyes in. I remember closing my eyes for the first time and this is when my privilege truly set in; in that moment i understood that even though I was cold and wet and uncomfortable, i still knew deep down that my belongings and everything i have ever worked for will still be there when I wake up, and i knew that not everyone around me could say the same.
For this project, I wanted to recreate this humbling experience for myself but now as an older person with even more experience and perspective on the world around me. I decided that my parameters for my specific location would be someplace safe and somewhat private outdoors where I would be able to lay down without imminent danger, and for this assignment I chose to capture this in my backyard. Initially, I thought to set a timer for an hour and thought that i would challenge myself to meditate through my uncomfortableness but realized that I wanted to push myself further than that. I knew that I have spent many hours while outside and while i do not usually sit in a single spot for an extended period of time, I felt this wasn’t enough of a challenge for me. Instead, I decided to challenge myself to try to take an hour long nap outside in -15degree weather. I happen to be a person who is usually quite capable of mediating myself to sleep and so i wanted to put this to the test in this scenario to further put my experiences into perspective.
To do this, I laid down a blanket and dressed in my winter jacket and semi-warm clothes, knowing that if i had dressed in multiple layers of expensive thermal wear, I would not be replicating what I had intended. I knew that it would take me over an hour to become comfortable and warm enough to to fall asleep so I had instructed my roommate to keep a watchful eye from her bedroom in case I needed any supervision. So at 2:10pm on Sunday, i began this project. At first I focused on slowing my breathing as i have learned how the body can regulate temperatures more effectively when using breath work. After what felt like 15 minutes, I began to feel tired but at the same time, numbness in my fingers and toes started to set in. This reinforced the overall concept for me in how even in times of more comfortability, life on the streets is never still or comfortable. Eventually, I was able to slip into a state of semi-consciousness where I was deeply meditative but not quite asleep which further proves how difficult this was for me. After an hour an 22 minutes, my roommate captured an image for me and then proceeded to wake me. I have included the image that she captured:
This week we were instructed to create a Defenestration. A defenestration is the act of throwing something out someone out of a window or opening. When I began to brainstorm for this assignment, I struggled to come up with an idea that I felt could be properly executed to my liking. Initially, I had thought about different items that I could throw from my window without causing damage or danger but thought that this was slightly too mundane for my liking. I let myself think on this concept for a few days until I unfortunately contracted Covid19 from my roommate. Due to this, I have been feeling very unwell this week and have found it very difficult to remain awake for more than a few hours at a time. While trying to adjust to isolation, one of my roommates had her brother stop by to drop off some necessities for the house. During this interaction, my roomie mentioned that she would be trading these groceries and necessities in exchange for a white onion. This was amusing to me as to why her brother wanted a singular onion but chose not to question it too intensely. Instead, I decided to photograph this interaction of a social distanced trade of an onion.
This past week we were able to meet in person and discuss video editing software. Additionally, we spoke about pandemic art and facial gesture art. We looked at artists like Cindy Sherman who distort their face as a form of expression and furthermore how artists have been able to manipulate this concept especially over the pandemic. We were then instructed to create our own images of either pandemic art or facial gestured art. I chose to create pandemic pieces that spoke to me. The first image that I created is one that I know well and admittedly resort to often on days where my last intention in the world is to perceived by another single human. I frequently experience days where I have things to do but very little interest in being recognized or ever really acknowledged. The pandemic, has allowed for me to go out in public in somewhat of a disguise as I’m able to cover large portions of my face without question. While I have found this to be useful, I feel that the allowance to be able to cover up in this way has somewhat exacerbated my social anxieties. Regardless, this is the disguise I will put on; I admit it looks quite silly, but I think subconsciously I am hoping this will further give off the antisocial vibe.
After taking this image, it reminded me of the earlier days of the pandemic when absolutely no-one seemed to know what was going on or what to do in response. I can remember how strange it was to even consider wearing a face covering and getting used to bringing them everywhere with you. I can remember seeing homemade masks everywhere from paper napkins to socks. I wanted to recreate a specific memory of a friend who wore a sock over their mouth and nose as a mask when they did not have one. Looking back, we now know that a sock is not an effective protective barrier against Covid-19-19 but I think this further illustrates just how lost we all were at the time.
Further, this week we were able to discuss and edit our own version of ”pandemic portraits” by Adad Hannah. I found this idea of approaching strangers to be very interesting but even more nerve-racking . I struggle when interacting with strangers as I am always concerned about offending or interrupting someone on a difficult day. Regardless, I decided to commit to this project by taking my tripod to the local mall and waiting outside of the entrance for unsuspecting videography victims. Initially, I was responded to with confusion and slight judgement but found that after receiving a few rejections, I was less worried about being rejected again. I would have preferred to have been accompanied by friends or roommates but feel that doing this alone added an extra challenge and put me very far outside of my comfort zone. After spending 45 minutes outside, I was rejected by 5 groups of people and was able to interact with four strangers. Yet, these videos weren’t as successful as I had hoped. I found it very difficult to direct strangers and ask them not only to do an odd favour, but to also follow exact instructions. I found that everyone I spoke to would enter my personal space as to hear me better, or would be too far to understand audibly. I also found it difficult to ask each person to be silent prior to and after their response and found that many of them tried to run off screen as fast as possible. Additionally, I had two people that had said the same answer after one another but neither of these clips audios were very good. Due to this, I had to refilm and reshoot this project. I have included my first set of videos;
Finally, I was able to have my sister film a short video of my mom in order to successfully capture this concept. My mom is widowed and the pandemic has been especially trying for her at times due to the lack of social ability. I was interested as to what she had to say but was expectedly saddened by her response. I can only imagine how this pandemic has been for single person households and how that has had an effect on these individuals mental health. Thankfully, I will be well enough this upcoming reading week so that I can finally come home again to see her. My sister was further able to ask her partner to participate who has also had a very difficult time adapting to the pandemic. Jacob, (her partner) lives with his mother who is a healthcare professional, and his brother whom he is the primary caretaker of. Jacob has had a very hard time managing his mental health with the stresses of caring for a sibling with disabilities during a global pandemic. Further, his family has conflicting views over health mandates which has resulted in familial conflicts. Jacob’s response to my question was, ” i am confused” and while I don’t know if this will fit the overall theme of the video, I think that this was a successful response to the question. I chose to ask jacob to preform this while studying as he is a master’s student and asked my mom if she would film her part after coming home from work in order to achieve a more casual look.
This week we were able to discuss our upcoming button project. We were able to look at previous student’s works and discuss their successes. Further, we had a video editing demo in the studio to perfect our Adad Hannah videos.
I was particularly inspired by past pieces from years prior. I really enjoyed a past student’s piece that consisted of a button on a ribbon with the words ”tried my best”.
This week we were able to meet on zoom to discuss artist multiples. I am vaguely familiar with artist multiples but would like to familiarize myself as I have found them to be extremely enjoyable. I specifically enjoyed Shannon Gerard’s work as it was very centred around anatomy, which is a special interest of mine. I found it to be very interesting the ways that she has been able to create educational art that is beneficial in bringing awareness to sexual and public health. I major in human developmental sciences and am deeply passionate about sex education and found this project to be extremely successful and hope to create pieces in the future with similar origins.
We further discussed our upcoming button project and were able to propose some of our beginning ideas. While brainstorming for this project, I began thinking of the ways that the pandemic has had an effect on social interaction. I thought it could be interesting to create a series of antisocial/hyper-social pins that could invite strangers to begin conversation or to sway them away. I considered buttons that said, ”touch starved”, ”will bite if provoked”, ”don’t talk to me about politics”. while i thought these were clever, Diane made it clear that she hopes for us to push our concepts further and create more of a series. I then thought about creating buttons that were aware of themselves, for example buttons that direct you to different areas of the body; ”look at my left shoulder”, ”now my right foot”, ”now my left hip” etc. i also thought of making buttons with onomatopoeias which could invite people to press the buttons and create the sound effects themselves, for example; ”beep”, ’Boop”, ”bop” etc.
With continued brainstorming, I became inspired by a previous student’s project who created an award ribbon that said ”trying my best”. This inspired me to create a series of ”little victories”. I live with a chronic illness and because of this, I struggle to complete daily activities, but always try to celebrate my smaller victories in order to maintain a sense of optimism. Some days, simple activities such as dressing myself and making a meal feel monumental and while I know they are not, I try to allow myself to feel satisfied and proud regardless. I thought that I could create a series of daily small victories, for example,
“Called my doctor back”
“Facetimed my mom today”
“Washed my sheets”
“Had all four food groups for breakfast!”
“Made coffee at home”
“Washed my bras!”
After working in the studio, and learning how to use the button machine, I was able to create a series of buttons. I first played around with some of our pandemic portraits and facial gestures assignments and was able to create a button with an image of myself in my covid gear. I then began creating a series of ”little victories” and was able to make two buttons that I was happy with. Although, I had personal obligations this week and was not able to attend Monday’s critique. If I were to continue to work on this assignment, I would like to add ribbon to create more of a finished piece and may alter the sizing and orientation of the image.
After spending more time on my button project, I was inspired to go in a different direction. I stumbled across a ”thrift haul” video where a person found a shakeable button from the 80’s that had a face on it with an attached chain that would morph into the silhouette of the face. I wanted to push myself to create something more interactive and this seemed like an excellent opportunity. I decided to create an image of a punk look inspired by the 80’s and inspired by the original button I had seen.
Final Button Project
This week in class we discussed our audio art projects. I was initially inspired to create an internal dialogue documenting the experiences of a person living with OCD interacting with daily life but after attempting to record both internal and external dialogue, I found it to be unsuccessful. I continued instead to create an audio series of some of my favourite person’s footsteps on stairs. I was able to record my voice in the recording studio and then chose to film audio at home on our actual staircase for authenticity.
I really enjoyed creating this piece as it was my first ever audio art project and found these skills to be very interesting to learn and play with. Overall, I was very happy with my piece but feel that with extra time could have been extended.
This week is our final week in class together, and the end of the semester. I was pleasantly surprised with this course and found it to be both creatively stimulating and enjoyable to participate in. Our final project was meant to encompass a self portrait. I had many ideas when this project was introduced as I am a hyper-realist portrait artist in my own time. Normally, I would create a visual piece of art using graphite to illustrate a portrait but as this is a conceptual class, I wanted to push my concept much further.
Recently, I moved out of my childhood home that I grew up in and where my father passed away. Leaving this home will be freeing to me and my mom but it has also been incredibly difficult to leave these memories and emotional ties in the past. On my very last day before taking my last bags away, I decided to take a few minutes to myself in my childhood bedroom. I did not have an expectation for this time but just wanted to capture my last few moments of my childhood in a video that I could reference later in life. I chose to just sit on my childhood bedroom floor in silence and let my thoughts take over. I frequently meditate and am very involved in mindfulness practices so this time in silence was not new to me, yet this day I found the silence to be overwhelming. Eventually, my emotions took over and I began to cry which I found to be very vulnerable to do on camera but felt that this was a moment worth holding onto. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share this moment but feel that it truly does encompass a portrait of my childhood, and a house that was once a home. The video is not perfect by any means, as there are echoes from missing furniture, street noises, moving truck sounds and footsteps but this does not bother me as I feel it is a genuine, raw moment.
After completing this piece, I feel that I could continue this project to create a multitude of conceptual portraits of all types of things, places and people.
Home is just a house
As I was so unsure about sharing this video, I decided to tackle this assignment from an alternate angle as well and decided to create a series of images detailing my BedHead first thing in the morning and use these “Hair sculptures” as my self portrait. I have always struggled with sleep and have been diagnosed with multiple sleep disorders throughout my life and wanted to illustrate a portrait of my sleep habits through the way my hair changes based on the quality of my sleep and how much I move around.
2 thoughts on “Lily’s Work”
Hi Lily, I appreciate your projects so much so far – and real evidence you get the conceptual modes of thinking, and strategies of conceptual art- I still love your Kilometre gesture to dirty your socks for a walk that long– and your Face images, especially the all black one is going to make an amazing button! Really stylish and start and gives me a chill – remembering how erased and spooked we feel these in this historical moment. Great effort and investment in each of these posts, comprehensive notes, and wonderful participation in class. Cheers!
Hi Lily, thanks for so much thoughtful engagement and many iterations of the projects – I was especially moved by your Conceptual Portrait – thank you for this brave and smart piece – you made many effective artistic decisions and it shows! It was so great to have you in the class Lily, thanks for your tremendous participation and your full imaginative and intellectual engagement with the course materials, I really hope we’ll see you again in Experimental 2! You belong in Experimental Studio!