Conceptual Portraits

Lecture:

On Kawara

On Kawara has based the entirety of his collection of books, paintings, and drawings on the arbitrariness and subjectivity of the way we measure time. Many of his projects are ongoing, making Kawara himself, as the recorder of time, one of the primary materials in his conceptual works. Kawara is perhaps best known for the “date paintings” in his Today series (1966-), each of which conforms to one of eight predetermined sizes and features a date in hand-lettered typography painted over a monochromatic background. The artist completed the canvases while living or staying in over 100 cities around the world. Each date painting is displayed with a handcrafted cardboard box and a clipping from a newspaper published in the same city and on the same day that the artist made the work. Kawara continues to create new works in the series.

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“Today” series, 1966-2013
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 10 inches (20.3 x 25.4 cm)

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One Million Years (Past), 1970-1971

10 leather hardbound volumes 2,000 pages

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On Kawara: Reading One Million Years (Past and Future)

installed at documenta 11, Kassel, Germany in 2002

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Pages from One Million Years (Future) One Million Years (Future), 1980-1998

10 leather hardbound volumes, 2,000 pages

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Kawara’s interest in how our society uses dates to grasp time’s elusiveness can be seen in the two–volume book project One Million Years. The first book, Past, is dedicated to “all those who have lived and died,” and covers the years from 998,031 BC to 1969 AD. The second book, Future, is dedicated to “the last one,” and begins with the year 1993 AD and ends with the year 1,001,992 AD. At the request of the artist, portions of the books have been read aloud in locations around the world. A recording of these readings is part of Kawara’s installation here.

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Teching Hsieh
One Year Performance 1980-1981

(Video in link, first 1min 30 seconds gives a succinct explanation of the piece)

John Baldessari

John Baldessari was born in National City, California in 1931. He attended San Diego State University and did post-graduate work at Otis Art Institute, Chouinard Art Institute and the University of California at Berkeley. He taught at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA from 1970 – 1988 and the University of California at Los Angeles from 1996 – 2007

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I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art, 1971

Douglas Gordon, List of Names, 1990 to ongoing

“This work consists of a list of names, displayed in columns, as if it were a war memorial or a roll of honour. They are the names of everyone the artist has ever met, or more precisely, everyone he can remember meeting. Gordon says of this work, ‘It was an accurate and honest statement but it was full of mistakes (like forgetting the names of some friends), so there were some embarrassing elements in the work, but that all seemed to be quite close to the truth of how our head functions anyway. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.” From: https://www.a-n.co.uk/media/52431069/)

Kelly Mark: Artist Statement

I have always had an intense preoccupation with the differing shades of pathos and humour found in the repetitive mundane tasks, routines and rituals of everyday life. Hidden within these spans of time can be found startling moments of poetic individuation, and an imprint of the individual within the commonplace rituals of society. Individuation, especially within this uniformity, although subtle and frequently paradoxical, is something I find myself returning to again and again. Through my ‘will to order’ and my frequently inane sense of humour my objective is the investigation, documentation and validation of these singular ‘marked’ and ‘unmarked’ moments of our lives…

In & Out – 1997 ongoing until 2032

Steel time card racks & punched cards

Current dimensions of installed work is approximately 28 feet

This work was purchased by a private collector in 1999 and he continues to purchase each years cards

Installation view of 1997-2008: Time as Activity at Netwerk Center for Contemporary Art. Aalst, Belgium 2009

Ongoing project where I keep track of my ‘working hours’ in the studio on an old punch clock. Started in 1997, this project will end in 2032 when i turn 65.

Sourced from Kelly Mark’s Website

  1/8Hiccup #1 (Toronto) – 2000
30 day public performance/intervention 
7-channel video installation: 15 minutes each, silent 
Commissioned by Public for the exhibition Being on Time at Central Tech. Toronto, 2000
Photo Credit: Emily Brian. Video credit: Marc PiccinatoThis 7-channel video entitled Hiccup is based on a 30 day performance that took place daily between 8:45 am & 9:00 am at Central Tech High School in downtown Toronto. Conceived as an orchestrated “ballet of the ordinary”, the work pivots on the play of two differentiated timelines: my standardized routine of carefully choreographed body movements, juxtaposed against the limitless variables of the everyday world.
Everyday for one month I arrived at the front of the school at the exact same time, wearing the same clothes and sitting on the same step. Then as the students began to arrive, I began my performace of a pre-set routine of simple everyday actions. I smoked a cigarette, took sips from my coffee, looked to the left, stretched my leg, adjusted my hat, red the same 5 pages from a book and underlined the same passage etc… Although appearing to be moving and acting in a completely natural and spontaneous way I was in fact, with the aid of a pre-recorded audio track on headphones, completing the exact same actions and gestures everyday at exactly the same time. For one month I entered into the normal daily routine of the people around me as a background element… a small anonymous deja-vu experience.
During this month I had 7 days of this performance video taped from across the street, this is what was exhibited, and the effect of each video shows me moving in synch with myself from monitor to monitor while everything else around me is different.

Micah Lexier:

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A Portrait of David, 1994.

Life-size photographs of men and boys named David, one of each each from age 1 to age 75. Commissioned by and presented at The Winnipeg Art Gallery

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David Then & Now, 2004.

Bus shelter project presented throughout downtown Winnipeg, presented by Plug In ICA. This is the follow up project to A Portrait of David, in which we photographed one David of every age, from age 1 to age 75. For this project, David Then & Now, we located as many of the original Davids as possible and photographed them exactly 10 years later.

Sourced from Micah Lexier’s Tumblrhttp://artmatters.ca/wp/2010/03/micah-lexiers-39-wooden-balls-video/

Katie Patterson:

Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Solheimajökull

2007

Sound recordings from three glaciers in Iceland were pressed into three records, then cast and frozen using the meltwater from each corresponding glacier. The discs of ice were then played simultaneously on three turntables until they melted completely.

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Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Solheimajökull
Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Solheimajökull

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.

2019

Adrian Piper

Adrian Margaret Smith Piper (b. 1948) is a first-generation Conceptual artist and analytic philosopher. She began exhibiting her artwork internationally at the age of twenty, and graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 1969. Adrian Piper produces artwork in a variety of traditional and nontraditional media, including photo-text collage, drawing on pre-printed paper, video installation, site-specific sculptural installation, digital imagery, performance and sound works. Piper’s works locate the viewer in a direct, unmediated and indexical relation to the concrete specificity of the object of awareness. They consistently explore the nature of subjecthood and agency, the limits of the self, and the continuities and discontinuities of individual identity in the metaphysical, social and political contexts.

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Catalysis III, 1970

In her Catalysis series, Adrian Piper physically transformed herself into an odd or repulsive person and went out in public in New York to experience the frequently disdainful responses of others.

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The Mythic Being, 1973

In 1973, Adrian Piper created an alter-ego, the Mythic Being, who became the basis of a pioneering series of performances and photo-based works. Piper—a light-skinned woman of mixed racial heritage—transformed herself into the Mythic Being by donning an Afro wig, sunglasses, and mustache and adopting behavior conventionally identified as masculine. She then explored how she and others responded to the Mythic Being. In the process, she transformed the conceptual art practices common in the period, infusing them with strong personal and political content.

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Calling Card, 1986

Piper also explores issues of personal identity and social boundaries. Using the antiquated nineteenth-century social convention of calling cards, Piper adopts a passive-aggressive approach to showcase how racism and sexism are intrinsically harmful. One of the two “calling cards” in the Indiana University Art Museum’s collections (the brown one) uses misperception of her race (she is a light-skinned African American) to directly confront anyone who utters a racist remark in her presence. The white card thwarts the presumption of men that she is available simply because she is unaccompanied. She says she handed these cards out in the above situations and has since exhibited them for viewers to take and use. While not precious or valuable in the traditional sense, they clearly represent her ideology. The focus in these mass-produced objects is not on craft, but on the ideas behind their production.

Sophie Calle:

Take Care of Yourself:

In 2007, the conceptual and performance artist Sophie Calle was chosen to represent France at the Venice Biennale. The installation she created for the French pavilion, titledPrenez soin de vous (Take Care of Yourself), comprises hundreds of photographs, documents and videos that depict 105 women’s (plus two puppets’ and a parrot’s) interpretations of the same source document: a break-up email sent to the artist by her lover in 2004 which ends with the cryptic and seemingly offensive parting, ‘Take care of yourself’. The email’s clichéd ending became the instructional imperative for the artwork but, unlike her other works, in which Calle played a central and active role as artist-protagonist, Prenez soin de vous constitutes a dispersal of autonomous artistic authorship, offering up in its place a collective form of interpretive labour by other women. By inviting so many different women to interpret the breakup email based on their professional expertise, Calle’s project engages – perhaps accidentally – in a 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.https://www.youtube.com/embed/Q9E4dA0EGaM?enablejsapi=1&autoplay=0&cc_load_policy=0&cc_lang_pref=&iv_load_policy=1&loop=0&modestbranding=0&rel=1&fs=1&playsinline=0&autohide=2&theme=dark&color=red&controls=1&

Spring Hurlbut

Memorial portraits, representing the intangible:https://www.youtube.com/embed/DNEL6W76qXE?enablejsapi=1&autoplay=0&cc_load_policy=0&cc_lang_pref=&iv_load_policy=1&loop=0&modestbranding=0&rel=1&fs=1&playsinline=0&autohide=2&theme=dark&color=red&controls=1&

SPRING HURLBUT. PEEWEE #3, 2007. NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA. PHOTO: NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA.

“Hurlbut “wanted to do something that was secular, but something that was meaningful to me, and that was to investigate the ashes of my late father, James.”
Hurlbut had her father’s ashes in her Toronto studio for five years. Finally, she decided to photograph them.
“When I began this process, I didn’t even think I could call it art. It was just something I urgently needed to do for myself.” But when she exhibited the photographs for people who had allowed her to use the ashes of their loved ones, “it turned this very sombre affair into a cathartic experience.” From https://artsfile.ca/bearing-witness-governor-generals-visual-arts-laureates-ask-much-of-the-viewer/

Felix Gonzales Torres:

Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Felix Gonzalez-Torres was born in Guáimaro, Cuba, in 1957. He earned a BFA in photography from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, in 1983. Printed Matter, Inc. in New York hosted his first solo exhibition the following year. After obtaining an MFA from the International Center of Photography and New York University in 1987, he worked as an adjunct art instructor at New York University until 1989. Throughout his career, Gonzalez-Torres’s involvement in social and political causes as an openly gay man fueled his interest in the overlap of private and public life. From 1987 to 1991, he was part of Group Material, a New York-based art collective whose members worked collaboratively to initiate community education and cultural activism. His aesthetic project was, according to some scholars, related to Bertolt Brecht’s theory of epic theater, in which creative expression transforms the spectator from an inert receiver to an active, reflective observer and motivates social action. Employing simple, everyday materials (stacks of paper, puzzles, candy, strings of lights, beads) and a reduced aesthetic vocabulary reminiscent of both Minimalism and Conceptual art to address themes such as love and loss, sickness and rejuvenation, gender and sexuality, Gonzalez-Torres asked viewers to participate in establishing meaning in his works.

Also in 1992, Untitled (1991), a sensual black-and-white photograph of Gonzalez-Torres’s empty, unmade bed with traces of two absent bodies, was installed on 24 billboards throughout the city of New York. This enigmatic image was both a celebration of coupling and a memorial to the artist’s lover, who had recently died of AIDS. Its installation as a melancholic civic-scaled monument problematized public scrutiny of private behavior.
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Untitled

1989
Billboard

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Untitled (Perfect Lovers)
1987-1990
Wall clocks

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Untitled

1992/1993
Print on paper, endless copies

Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), 1991

The approximate 175 pounds of candy that make up the work resembles the 175-pound body of Ross Laycock, the artists’ boyfriend who died of AIDS in 1991. As each person takes a piece of candy, they in turn act as the AIDS virus depleting Ross’ body, piece by piece taking it away until there is nothing left. Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who dedicated his artwork to the one he loved and lost, died in 1996 of AIDS.

His work doesn’t only represent the disease and its depletion on the body, but it represents the love between the person who is suffering from the disease and the person who is there to support them and suffer with them. The sweet candy, in and of itself, is a representation of love. If you think about giving candy to a loved one on valentine’s day, sweets in a box with flowers on mother’s day, candy has long been tied to affection and love. While the candy is eaten, while the body begins to disappear, the love remains.

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ASSIGNMENT FOR NEXT WEEK:

Create a proposal for this assignment below. Write about references from the lecture that inform your thinking – use images and prepare to discuss your proposal in our next class meeting:

Make a Conceptual Portrait:

A photo series, a collection of things, an audio work, a found-object sculpture, a series of data-oriented drawings, or a video. Maximum limit for time-based works of 3 minutes.

For this open media project you will create a representation of something, or someone – in a non-literal way.

You will create your conceptual portrait by using a system – like a rule, a formula, a series of tasks, or an experiment to plan and create the work.

 Let the system be the “machine that makes the art” as Sol Lewitt said.

Consider creating a work that is:

  • A series of repeated gestures or actions that are documented or found
  • Modified found objects to change their purpose or meaning
  • A work made strictly by adhering to instructions, and documenting what is done
  • A series of similar-photos or video clips – taken or found – that come together to create deeper meaning than the images individually
  • Creative documentation of self-observation or data
  • A task-based experiment in any media with results unknown in advance, present results
  • A substitution of one material reality for another

Week 5

  1. Reminders: Schedule, Social Distancing portrait footage is due on WEDNESDAY
  2. Facing the Strange text reading and discussion
  3. Quick Face exercise for ZOOM – assign faces also for next week.

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2. Video editing demo in class

Working on Final video and discussion in progress

Work on faces post for the blog!

These videos are due on WEDNESDAY in Week 6!

Anne’s Work

List Portrait

Week Ten : Systems, Series, Process.

March 30/22

For the final project I reviewed all my notes and the last lecture. I was most impressed by the work of Katie Patterson. What was it about the work? There were several things. First for me was a scientific project and one which is fascinating: dead stars. Astronomy dwarfs us. We are less than minute compared to stars and outer space and our lives are not even a flicker in the grand history of the universe. So why not take that on? But then Katie emails all sorts of astronomers and star spotters, people who have an interest in dead stars (didn’t know people did this). She gets replies it seems and likely over the course of considerable time. Correspondants tell her about the dead stars they have discovered. She catalogues all this volunteered information creating a metal frame and etches a tiny mark for each of these stars in the two by three metre galvanized steel form/canvas/map. There is something so compelling about star gazing. Stars are beautiful, romantic and mysterious but in this case she is also dealing with the ephemeral nature of all things and the interconnectedness of the natural world. Iron in humans can be traced to the stars. I didn’t know this fact and that there are “dead stars”. I really have enjoyed projects I have done that have a scientific or research base. Alice Aycock’s Low Building With Dirt Roof (for Mary) 1973, I studied and was so impressed with the breadth of her research and this was where I first learned artists did extensive research sometimes. Some of my projects were The Big Idea (introductory art class) which was an idea for sculpture based on geology, a video on the art of North and South Ireland during “the troubles,” and a sculpture, Neuronet 2 based on a book by Nicholas Carr titled The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.

To get back to Patterson, I am drawn to the subject of death and the timeless. I also loved the light of the tiny”star” marks on the dark metal. On the other hand, I liked the simplicity and the humour in John Baldessari’s “I will make no more boring art”. The hand written text is appealing, so personal. Also, I like the Micah Lexier piece…the 39 balls. The material carefully chosen for its visible rings along with the number for the artist’s age at the time. Though there were firm parameters, there was space to discover something new: how as the balls got bigger, the added 1/8″ became less and less visible. From an earlier lecture, I liked Kelly Mark’s “should” list: the pacing with which it was read and how so many of her “shoulds” were orders I had given myself. It said a lot about the personal, maybe the role of woman, but also the culture.

My first project idea came to mind very quickly. Monday night I sat down and created a 30 item list based on two lines from a poem by Robert Frost- “two paths diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less travelled by.” My list is not about shoulds, it is about things I haven’t done. Life throws some things at us and we have choice about some things. Choices may be acted on or may be things that we haven’t gotten around to yet. This project provides me with some new insights into what I decided to act on and what I did not choose. It is also a glimpse of the world of one woman across a number of years. I am trying to have 75 items on my list but time constraints re video length may limit that. For me, this project is not about individualism or regret. It is a big world and there may be infinite options. But this is also about choices, that we see, or can attend to and many that we remain unaware of as we are limited by time and maybe more: upbringing, race, gender, class, physical or intellectual challenges, religion, education, language, geography, politics, economics and culture.

Process: (revised after critique Monday) April 1/22

I have 75 items on my list. Diane suggested one for each year of my life and also suggested some drama, some scary things like “I didn’t die”. Also Diane suggested I should focus on performing the list and not my handwriting or finding a container to hold the hand written items on the list. Alexia liked the variety in my list. Remaining “choices” are “the performance”- length, volume, pacing, and location.

What did I learn from this? I learned more about speaking into a mic, swallowing, sniffing, pacing, repetition in delivery of each item- the technical side. But also, I was surprised at how distant I was from it all. Making a list seemed to remove what could be intense. It was like I was looking at film footage still by still. You state an item and move on. No time to linger. Stating what I didn’t do at one moment in time allowed me to think about what I still want to do, what a different career path might have meant, how I might be viewed as pretty conventional in some ways, in other ways, not so much. And why does conventional or not matter?

April 5/22

In discussion with Diane, I am going to practice video at home, more relaxed, with less focus on getting through the 75 items in 2 minutes with some time between items to allow listener to grasp what is being said. I also am going to try to be more engaged with the camera/audience. I did put more emotion into the reading, I was more animated and I felt better about the final result. Though I did write a play and perform on stage once in high school (grade13), performance is something I was taught not to do. I was always very nervous doing speeches in school but it got better over time. In my family it was important for children not to stand out.

April 6/22

One last thing. These projects work on me, or I work on them in my sleep sometimes. I was thinking of a friend who imitates accents very well. Then I made the link to my list and the video. This morning, I see each item on my list as unique, like characters on a stage and that my reading and gaze into the camera could reflect that. Each item on the list occupies a unique place in the sequencing of the video, has it’s own timing, its own tone, and the content, reading and visuals are unique to each. Each one can’t be too different as they must contribute to the whole. The whole piece needs to fit together- a bit like theatre.

Week Nine

Recording With Your Phone

A Quick Introduction to the Language of Music

March 10/22

Thinking about yesterday’s lecture on audio art. I knew of John Cage and the silent symphony but had not seen the video of him talking about the work. Certainly unusual approach to sound. Makes me think about all the other noise musicians make..coughing, fidgeting, turning pages. I liked the conductor mopping his brow when he actually just stood still in front of the musicians. It was good to have some humour. You might have to see a symphony performed to appreciate the humour in this performance. We had a band in my high school so that would be close enough to a young student experience of a collection of musicians that might be playing but don’t. Music was in my home growing up and I am a fan, but I haven’t thought of sound as acting ie louder-quieter, longer-shorter. On second thought, I read music which tells you to stretch things out or speed up and get softer or louder. When I played piano as I child and sang, I got onto this emotionality of music but I hadn’t thought of it as acting. I knew it was being altered and I tried for “feeling” in my practicing.

DuChamp saw music as space, sculpture, maybe like a material. There can be “interior listening” or meaning and it can be just outer, meaningless..it doesn’t have to be more (Kant, Buddhist). I wonder about this because a lot of sound registers physiologically, but maybe that is different from registering a psychological/emotional meaning. Does some sound not move us at all in any way?

If we regard music as a material, we can think of it as layered. Emilea Ogboh created music with African immigrants having them sing the anthem in their own language. This piece illustrated the layering effect. Janet Cardiff did this as well with Thomas Tallas’ 40 Part Motet. I saw/heard this at the AGO a number of years ago. It was impressive. There were a few people there “interacting” with the 40 speakers. You could stand in the middle and hear all the voices as if you were “inside” the music (a full body experience) or stand very close to one speaker and hear one singer. I didn’t know there were eight choirs recorded and five parts in each. The sound could move like it was material- ripples on water. Sound can strike your body, can make you weep, lift your spirits.

The Oakville Gallery will lend an iPod to take to a nearby garden. There you can experience the layering of sound…the noises in the garden and the sound from the iPod. It must be a challenge to figure out what is real in the garden and what is not, which is probably the point. Both are real.

Christian Marclay’s piece Guitar Drag, I never would have thought of. It references a killing where a black man was pulled behind a truck by white men and reminds us of racial violence.

I got quite a kick out of Kelly Mark’s list piece “I really should”. It has certainly been one of my behaviours. I have a friend who says when that comes up..”shoulda, oughta, gotta” to remind one to stop it. I also liked the annoying sound in gallery that just keeps playing. I had heard that piece before…maybe mimics the sound of coffee percolating. The artist thought it could be contagious as others hear people humming this melody that they can’t escape (ear worm). I liked the dot matrix sound too and there is a typewriter song. Will send it if I can locate it. Will have to look at Christian Bok pronouncing punctuation. Liked the idea of manipulating found sounds like a child’s piano. Matthew Sawyer created the “pissing diary”. That was an unusual theme. Seemed the pissing was at the end of some other more musical? sounds.

Student Anna Pipmeester created a song with a pipe in her building in the key of C: the pipe’s note. That was inventive. It was sort of similar to My Mother Cleaning My Father’s Piano by Jonathan Monk. It reveals some of his parents’ relationship and the sound is random. Also enjoyed hearing Brenda Lee and “I’m Sorry” rearranged.

Dave Dyment’s interpretation of the Beetles “A Day in the Life” was maybe more conceptual? The track was extended to last 24 hours so it became just a single note-a buzz. The anomatopia list by Aaron was pretty entertaining as was the forgotten school song on two tracks. I loved the canned laughter in the art history lecture. Make light of something notoriously serious. Another in this vein was the opera about compost. Yoko Ono’s scream (Twitter) when Trump became President was too much of what a lot of people were feeling.

After the lecture, I thought of two pop songs that I really liked :”New Shoes” by Paolo Nutini and another one I can’t find but thought it was quite funny. It has the words “get my soldering iron” in it. I think it was an end of relationship song and the female singer has to get her soldering iron to repair her broken heart. I like the song “Girls just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper, Alinis Morrisette’s “Hand in my Pocket”, and Shania Twain’s “Up”. I just wanted to think about songs with lyrics that I found funny or uplifting. I thought of the typewriter and the dot matrix printer. Last year I used the laser etcher on the 4th floor to do a woodcut. It makes a distinct sound. That could be combined with something else…maybe the typewriter- technology from another era? an old dial telephone? where would I get that?

March 13/22

On Friday the 11th I walked to U of G to work but intended to record sounds on my phone to see what I could get. I already had some recorded from just wandering around in the apartment. En route I heard birds, water draining, people talking, music, people walking and three chainsaws. I checked these recordings in the lab and could hear them. I then went to the 4th floor to record the laser etcher but Anna was not there so I managed to record one of the large printers for photography. I had to do it twice to get better sound and use the small mic. My idea is to try to combine these sounds in an interesting way..layering?… a day in the life or a walk..flaner or flanerie. One thing I noticed on the walk was that it was challenging to get clean sound when outside, without birds or cars or people talking for example.

March 20/22

I have a solid first draft of the sound tape. I decided to focus on the chainsaw that I had as part of my recording from March 13th. As I had been working on it, it seemed better to focus on one thing. I had considered adding bird sounds which I also had recorded, but it seemed too confusing and complicated. The chainsaw has a lot of variability as I learned from sound ideas. I used two recordings from my walk and excerpts from “sound ideas”. We had a Husqvarna chainsaw about 1974 when we were moving a cabin and I worked with it a bit. It had a safety shut off which I appreciated. I am reading a book titled The Art of Cruelty by Maggie Nelson and on p.201 it refers to a “mixed signal”. This is a “mixed” sound tape but it is also “mixed” in meaning. The chainsaw can be associated with the slaughterhouse (Nelson, 2011) and violence but it has a lot of variability in sound from quite delicate and lyrical to sensory overload. It was a good sound for me to experiment with.

March 22/22

Am reworking the audio project. Plan now is to use a voice-over to link up the new sound segments. My hope is to talk about some of the language of music, connecting that to excerpts from my first attempt at the sound project. I hope it is amusing in the way that the opera about compost might have been or the comedic history lecture. Take something that is usually a serious topic and lighten it a bit.

Week Seven

March 1/22 Buttons Alone or in Series

I reviewed lecture material re Buttons… The “I am not a fetish” button packs a punch. It appeals to me knowing at least one of the artists- Raquel. Maybe there is something I can do with “aging” …what are the usual associations with (female) aging, lost beauty or attractiveness, sagging of tissue, hair loss, facial hair, bad smells, forgetfulness, wisdom, care for others and the earth. Other buttons took on the meaning of art…art and the pun ie “art is all over”, “art attack”, “certified artist”, “authentic artist”, “official artist”. There’s Yoko Ono’s work…so timely “Imagine” and “Peace”. I hadn’t seen her name on those pieces at first and then it was no surprise when I did read her name. Jessie Eisner’s “Ask Me” looked like lots of fun to make. It surprised me that “You Can’t Steal this Button” wasn’t stollen. Must have taken way the urge to steal by naming it.

From the list of some possible ideas for buttons these were favourites on first run through.

  • the button that knows its a button …..”cute as”…batting eyelashes? “don’t push” this button.
  • social interaction– or an ice breaker- “congregate”, “no masks”— anti- covid or “Tell Me” your favourite singer, your favourite number, your favourite colour, your favourite brand, your favourite hour, favourite day, favourite place, favourite object, favourite street, favourite flower, favourite animal, favourite season, favourite hair colour, favourite team, favourite tool, favourite snack, favourite drink, favourite movie, favourite song, favourite socks, favourite hat,
  • gives instructions “stop saying that”, “check your laces”, “pull that up”, “put that back”, “watch my back”, “move it”
  • speaks to the body directly- “that hurts”, “stand tall”, “give your head a shake”, “put your teeth in”, “smile”, “laugh”, “wink”
  • reveals things usually hidden- bottom of your feet, photo of your bare back, photo of the back of your head
  • consider font, design, images.

March 3/ 22 I am trying to decide what to work on for a series. I thought of Tell Me which would be a bunch of different buttons like Tell Me …about your feet, your surgery, your hair, your birth, your toys, your mind, your pandemic, your nuisance, your walk, your bathroom, your door, your refrigerator, your pillow, your digestion, your sleep, waking up.

The next one I thought about because it could be timely. I feel stressed with a lot going on: in the Ukraine, just over truck blockade, still in pandemic and transitioning to new housing after 5 1/2 years…a move and a necessity to declutter and reduce. So the idea I had was just “home” in different languages. It is where I am at the moment. Need for inclusivity maybe. I don’t want a house on there as it does not represent everyone’s situation. I thought of the languages that friends speak, ancient Celtic script that my ancestors may have known, and people that speak different languages in Guelph. Why have a button that says “home”? I think the word has a lot of meaning for people. It is complicated though because when I looked up the word, it is nuanced…or qualified. For example, there are several words for home in French. I have some familiarity with the language so chose the word in Gille Vigneault’s song “foyer”. It translates to hearth I think..sort of the heart of the home. I worked with a person who is Mi’kmaq, however Ojibway people were in the territory now Guelph. Ojibway uses phrases like “carrying home” because they were nomadic. That changes everything. There are others I could reference: Spanish, Chinese, Filipino, German, Italian, Arab, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Egyptian, and my friend from the Caribbean. The word home on a button in a language other than English might be of some comfort or might not.

It is now March 6. I have scrapped the “home” idea. I would have to be familiar with every language I referenced or speak to someone that knows the particular language well in order to give me the correct translation when there may be a number of words for “home” or maybe no words all.

I spoke to Diane on Wednesday about my “Tell me” idea and rather than “favourite” she suggested something more unconventional like “Tell me about your surgery”. This could be much more interesting and maybe something the speaker would like to talk about. I chose some words like “sky” that could be a metaphor, or “door”. The speaker could assign any meaning really. It didn’t have to be literal. I wanted something interactive, that could be an ice-breaker or a hand out at a party to stimulate conversation, or maybe for speed dating.

The buttons were designed alike. I wanted the text to show up and my health background told me black on white is the easiest to see…(think of the optometrist). I put the buttons on a black background for documentation due to the contrast. It would be easier to see the border of the white button against the black.

Week Six

Feb. 7/ 22 Facing the Strange

Which faces in the text did I find interesting? I enjoyed the story behind Super Us 1998 by Marizio Cattelan. I thought it surprising that each one of the portraits of Cattelan drawn by police artists from friends’ descriptions were different. No two were exactly the same. This raises important questions: Can anyone really describe us? Does anyone really know us? Do we really know ourselves? Are we composites ie many bits and pieces?

I liked the appearance of Gillian Wearing- Me Now in Mask 2011. It is SUCH a mask..so plastic, like a Barbie Doll. Seems to me we all wear a mask to some degree. I hear this is worse with social media as people create a persona there, a kind of false self maybe to compliment the mask.

Another Image I liked was that of artist Nina Katchadourian. She set up a work space in airline bathrooms. She began using toilet paper that recreated a look of self- portraits in the Flemish style. I created a self-portrait/ mask that I thought had a bit of a Flemish self-portrait look, or maybe a rearranged Nun and it was made from a woodcut print. I also wrapped my head with left over paper scraps about 15″ long each.

Another artist whose work I liked was Christine Devuono, a U of G grad. Her images were varied, colourful, the shots were from different angles and the masks seemed polished, professional, aesthetically pleasing and she made good use of black.

In the first group of images omitting the two mentioned above I made use of a homemade wool scarf, seashells and coral I gathered from various places, a spider plant, a metal pie plate cut in half and decorated with narrow rectangular strips of four landscape photographs.

What can I say about this process? I did the photograph of the wool scarf first. It took a while and I got pretty warm inside there. The white bandage one, where I was completely covered made me a bit claustrophobic. I wanted my head wrapped because it needs a rest from covid and all the other things that I and the world are dealing with. I wouldn’t do well with my face covered all the time. The seashells and plant reminded me of taking care of the planet and that in some ways, we are all things. The bib mask and the plate with photographs I thought were just interesting. I tried square photos on the pie plate and then decided the cut strips would adhere better. It ended up looking like the Statue of Liberty maybe, a kind of halo. These masks and coverings are a different way of being in the world. Who are you without your face… nobody or everybody? I experimented with covering the whole face, part of the face, and hiding hair in a towel. Hair is also part of our presentation of self to the world.

My experience is different without my face in public. Early in the pandemic I met a friend at Market Fresh and started chatting away to him…He looked at me and said “I don’t know who you are”. I had on a mask, sun glasses and a hat. No wonder- but I forgot that I was probably unrecognizable inside all that covering.

Re. new ways to face the world? I read the book Black Like Me. That was a different way for the author to face the world. I have been taken for a member of another race. That is a confusing experience. I am not a member, but now I have an affinity for people from that other race. It is strange…like I am a step- child or something.

We use the word face in the English language as a metaphor…two faced, couldn’t face it, can’t show their face, faceless crowd. A harlequin has another way to face the world.

What if your face were severely disfigured? People would turn away likely. Movie stars work hard sometimes at preventing the change in facial appearance due to aging. This is becoming a big industry. Poker faced…Hiding well what you think or feel especially in poker. I have noticed with some politicians, that they can change the way they look when they are lying. We may count on having this observational skill as we age.

In the beginning of the pandemic I thought how strange it was..all of us sort of duck-like in our masks. Now I am just used to it. I still try to notice eyes though..above the mask. I have a sense that people can tell if I am smiling when I am wearing a mask…Maybe they can’t?

As of today, Feb 14, I have made more masks. Some were done with cotton balls, with wool, and exercise bands. I have a few more ideas to try out before I select the three masks for this post. The new ideas were using fridge magnets, and coloured pencils.

Of this group of images, it was hard to select three. There were at least five that I really liked. In the end I chose two that covered most of the face and one that covered all of the face. The materials were quite different and in one the hair was covered.

Plant mask, Cotton mask, Wilderness Photography mask

Week Five

Feb. 4/22 Social Distancing Portrait

I began work on the Social Distancing Portrait (Adad Hannah) on Thursday with reading over notes and looking at Haddad’s work for this assignment. He chose people of different ages, with different jobs, documentary journalism. He asked these individuals (usually one at a time) to pose and be still in a way that captures their feelings of this moment in the pandemic. This class project is to create two 20 second videos of two different people (either single or with one other) in a similar style to those of Hannah. Question was “what is pent up for you regarding the pandemic”. The class was going to participate in this and then all the videos would be combined and sent to Adad Hannah. We would try to frame all of our videos in a similar way for continuity.

On Thursday I set out to try to record a video with a borrowed U of G camera and my tripod. The elementary school next to where I live seemed like a good possibility and handy. I intended to video outside. I did check with the school and parental permissions and Principal ok were required. That was the end of that. I walked in my neighbourhood and asked one person if I could video him. He did not reply. I asked a postee, but she was waiting for a cab. I went home and warmed up. Next, I got into my car and drove to Guelph City Hall where I thought there might be warm skaters to approach. I tried two people who were not willing to be videoed. The third did agree. This person was a grandmother coaching her two grandsons from the sidelines, as they practiced their ice skating. I explained that I hoped for a 30 second video, that I was an art student at U of G and the video was about the pandemic. I suggested she could think about what was “pent up” for her or what is top of mind today when she thinks about the pandemic. It would be 10 seconds in a posture, 10 seconds talking about her feelings about the pandemic in this moment and 10 seconds of stillness again in the pose. There were two takes. The speaker was animated but the request to be still and to speak seemed confusing. Also I discovered in lab the next day that the image was out of focus. I would use autofocus next time due to my challenges seeing the screen clearly. Thursday at around five pm was very cold, cold enough to be a sizeable distraction. Though I had written out a kind of cheat sheet for myself, it wasn’t helping really. I needed to have more comfort with the process of asking people to contribute and be clearer.

Friday I did three more videos. I decided to cut the talking out of the videos as I wanted to simplify the process. I learned these videos could not be used without the voices. I would get more videos and try harder to help the volunteers understand what I was asking of them.

I learned that it takes practice to express your idea and to do that with strangers. I did not introduce myself….that is something I often forget to do, and it would have helped with both my comfort and theirs. I think the second introduction I used was best…not explaining one idea behind the piece ( was it video, photograph, still, sculpture) except for thinking about the pandemic and what is most pressing, and how to express that in a still posture. This was an issue because one person chose to appear as a sculpture. I needed to say more about the timing too- a total of 20 seconds- 10 seconds, a word or two about “what is pent up” about the pandemic and another 10 seconds. I would provide hand signals so that my talking would not be recorded on the video.

I was impressed with what I understood to be some of the thinking behind Adad Hannah’s images of diverse people and the pandemic. He is interested in the “tableau vivant” which was popular in France about 1830-1920. During that period people enacted favourite things like a poem, classical art, or political protest. He plays with time- the line between photography, video, performance, sculpture and “organic physicality.” His “pandemic” images could be described as ambiguous, a paradox, confusing. He is interested in diverse experiences too. A question his work raises is whether the body is concealed or revealed.

The concealing or revealing of the body is important to the messages these two people created in their videos attached below, as well as what is revealed in their faces. I took five videos on Friday Feb 11. In two there was too much movement in the street. I needed a better location-fewer vehicles and pedestrian traffic as this made it clear that these were videos, rather than stills or sculpture. The dog walkers were out and I managed to get one person with her pet but the dog moved in and out of the frame which again made it clear this was video. Also this volunteer was pretty active. One of the videos I showed in Monday’s class seemed ok..the pink coat. The other seemed too staged and didn’t give much context. Feb.16 today, I edited a second video taken on Friday and posted it. With the two videos below, the volunteers were pretty still in spite of their talking. Their messages were quite different as were their poses. The biggest challenge I had in editing was with the sound (quiet voices and sound of the wind) and the lighting (over exposure).

Glad to be outside today. Sick of covid.
Dualistic thinking.

Week Four

“Defenestration” Jan 28/22

I am trying to reorganize this blog and put most recent post at the beginning.

This project had a few challenges for me at the outset. The first was to find a window. Where I live, all the windows have screens that don’t open. I tried to throw a scarf out my car window in a location at U of G., hoping it would get caught by the wind and land in an interesting spot. That did not work. The scarf just dropped to the ground out of sight of the camera. I went back home to use a door. I could use a door to the inside or to the outside. I chose the door to the second floor outside patio. Another question was material. What would I use to demonstrate something being thrown out a window or into the air. Nothing much came to mind except the excess of stuff in my apartment after downsizing from a house. When I looked up “defenestration” on the internet it told me this was a way to get rid of some adversary. I had two balls of wool, 70 pieces of wire, a number of scarves (too many) and laundry awaiting the washing machine. I decided to try one or two of the scarves because there were gusts of wind on Thursday afternoon. My intention was to find a way to “see the wind”. That had been my intention with my first attempt at U of G as well.

I experimented with a heavier scarf…one I like to wear -turquoise- and it would show up against the white snow outside. I couldn’t prevent myself from thinking about aesthetics..how would it look in photographs? I also had to work with the multiple frame setting on the camera. I did get that set up. I used the same scarf for attempt 1. It seemed too heavy again and just dropped. I wanted the item I chose to float. I found another light weight scarf that was on my “in excess” list. I love the blend of colours in it and I liked that there was wind that I could try to enlist. Trying to get a scarf to float on the wind was not easy due to gusts and the shelter of the building. There was a broom handle available so that became a kind of platform for the scarf and it could extend out from the building 3 or 4 feet. That made a difference. There was enough gravity on the thin scarf that it stayed aloft and also dropped to the ground. I took several multiple shots, maybe 5 or 6. Some did not work due to light settings or the scarf staying stuck to the broom handle. I was running out of daylight after an hour or so and my camera froze so I came inside.

Week One

JAn 11/22

Hi Everyone,

It is Tuesday January 11. I would like to do some writing about the first class. I was glad to see all the new faces even though it is on line and not in person. I forgot to say where I am…that is in Guelph, near the Boathouse and Royal City Park…a good location in covid.

You all had interesting items..quite unique to each of us. Some of us chose manufactured items like Brennan’s older video camera and Celeste’s disco ball and others chose living things like Alexa’s tooth-like plant. I liked Bella’s necklace and the symbolic…reference to Wes Anderson and the Latin phrase which is a compelling one- “I struggle and emerge”. Not only was there a movie reference but also records with Sophia’s album..Wings- Back to the Egg. Must look for Faith’s favourite book The Road. One of my favourite books from high school and after was Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea. Kayla’s learning the Korean language is notable. Nathan’s item, the times table, connected us all to his home schooled daughter’s work and memories of elementary school tasks. If someone from Mars came upon this collection of items what would they say about us?

I wondered what it was about plants that made them the chosen items more than once. Maybe they are like pets in covid. They keep us company.

It occurred to me that we humans engage with all these items in different ways: we use eyes, ears, voices. We use the whole body to carry a video recorder or to make a necklace. With plants we may engage sight and smell and touch. We poke the dirt checking to see if the plant needs water. Sometimes we talk to them, dust them, we use the whole body to reposition them in a location that helps them to thrive. For Diane, the mushrooms may take her to the woods and to new outdoor places for an on-going investigation. All of these selected items lead to other connections for us as individuals and for us as a kind of collective. Will any of these items appear later in the course as we move through it?

I like the idea that the grade is about engaging with the technology, expanding ideas and imagination. I am not remembering how to add an image to the blog.

Notes on Sol Lewitt Jan. 12/22

Lewitt means that with his conceptual art, all the decisions about the work are made before he begins the piece. When I do projects, I often have a rudimentary idea of where I want to go with the work. I allow for changes in direction as I go along. I let the medium and the process of working inform my project. In other words, there can be surprises as I am making the art work. For Lewitt, “the idea becomes the machine that makes the art”. He knows exactly where he is going when he sets out to actualize the piece. His experimenting may occur in the initial phase because he uses a variety of sources to determine his plan for a piece- he says “all types of mental processes”. In the example we saw in virtual class (Wall Drawing No. 652 Continuous Forms IMA), he used primary colours plus grey. He also repeated dots and lines. He makes all the decisions before he begins to make the project a reality. His concept is form and rules. The instructions for his work…the idea, are so precise and clear that he can have other artists work on one of his projects such that it will evolve as he envisioned it. His idea generates a map that other artists can follow closely.

What does the artist’s actual hand have to do with the final work in a conceptual art context? The artist’s hand is not revered as it has been in other styles of art. For example, in an abstract art course, I was told not to remove any paint marks on the sides of the canvas as this is part of the history of the artist’s work on the piece. It may have to do with authenicity. The artist’s hand/body in abstract work is key. Lewitt regards the idea as the most important thing. Actualizing the idea is not essential, so the artist’s hand is not important. Further, any artists’s hand can create the actual piece once the idea is formulated. He says the idea is purposeless so not only is the hand of the artist not important but the idea is not theoretical. It is to be mentally interesting. He describes the development of the idea as intuitive, objective and subjective and the concept is form and rules intended to engage the mind. The centrality of the idea frees the maker of the skill of the artist as a craftsman.

Notes on Yoko Ono Jan 13/22

The boundaries of Yoko Ono’s performance -reading from The Grapefruit Book seem limitless. She uses canvas in a few of her ideas, as a visual artist might. She uses easily found objects like a paper bag and from nature-seeds. She adds to these two items, the wind creating a delightful image. She uses more of our natural world in her prompt to look at the sun until it becomes a square. Her materials are readily found, sometimes, anywhere and by anyone and they don’t require financial expense…seeing shadows together until they become one, or listening to your heartbeat, or touching the earth with your bare feet. Sometimes her suggestions for engaging the imagination require another person -shaking hands through a hole in a large canvas or inviting friends to a spot. She suggests a task for noticing one’s state of mind, again with at hand items. She suggests making a list of sad things in your life represented by one colour of pebble, happy things in your life being a different coloured pebble and asks the listener or reader to count and compare the two numbers. She suggests other ideas that may improve mental health like “don’t say anything negative” for varying lengths of time and see how you feel. Another salve for mental health might be “don’t classify things”. The following prompt engages movement, sight, touch and smell, -burn everything you fear and then anoint the fire with a fragrance. When I was thinking she hadn’t dealt with outer space I read one of her last prompts..”think of people close to you as planets. Watch them orbit and shine”. She made use of two elements, earth and air(wind) but not fire and water.

I have not listed all of the prompts she gave. This list is limited by my memory, ability to write quickly and the prompts that intrigued me. I am really impressed by the fact that many of prompts may be beyond culture or capitalism. Maybe they are within her culture/religion if she is Shinto or she was influenced by it. My understanding is that there is a reverence for the natural world, that it is sacred. I have seen the wishes on trees in Japan at the shrines. I remember them from one of the shrines for children where I spent some time. The prompts are positive and uplifting, you can do some alone or with one other or with more than one which allows for connection not only to the natural world but to people. It seems to be this was the artist’s intention. The prompts remind you to notice, maybe experience the world in a time of innocence.

Notes on Bruce Nauman

One of Nauman’s works is Poke in the Eye, Nose, Ear. I would say these are every day actions or banal. Most people can do these 3 things or any one of them. He frames this piece as art partly because of the technology he used which was a slow motion video. He mentions John Cage who made use of time in music. Cage reminded him of the value of stretching out time. By using this slowing down the camera speed, Nauman remarks on the how the camera shows the light on his skin and how the skin looks like a landscape, a thing of beauty. The framing challenges my view of his actions. I think of parents saying “don’t do that or your face may stay like that”. Toddlers may investigate this way. Nauman’s use of the slow motion camera makes this kind of exploration legitimate and elevates it. Though he is distorting the face, it does become a landscape in my view.

Another of Nauman’s pieces is “Setting a Good Corner”. It is a more recent work. With this piece, the artist does a video. He digs a hole and puts in one of three pieces of railway ties- like standing stones- to mark the corner. This arrangement can be seen as banal. It is not remarkable. It is an everyday sort of thing. It is the kind of thing, though, that ranchers do on a regular basis and it takes skill. He draws attention to the idea of the corner. He makes me notice it. I notice it has its own beauty. He highlights the process of corner-making -that is making something everyday into a work of art. He also foregrounds the idea that there is art in the everyday and that there can be much skill in the making of everyday items. He doesn’t like repetition and prefers efficiency. The corner does seem efficient and if not done accurately the fence will not be stable.

I had a few ideas for this project..2 different performances- one sitting and another walking. The third had to do with the eye. I was excited about these. When I undertook the research on what were hunches, I found a lot of complicated information. Though the ideas seemed simple and straightforward, the science gave me a lot of detail. In other words, the execution of those ideas did not give me a straight or curved line. The eye and circulatory system work in very complicated ways and the initial information I had was debunked in further research. I lost a foundation for measurement. Also my phone froze when I tried to do video of a walk.

The new question I came up with was how could I make a kilometre visible..a little more concrete. On Victoria Street north in Guelph there is a hill and a valley just before the road to Guelph Lake. If I took a photograph at the top of the hill and an image of the odometer at 0, and then the car went 1 km and I took an image of the odometer and also one of the location where the car stopped- then I would have one kilometre and I could see the car doing that kilometre. Though I would have the documentation of the photographs of location and the odometer readings, the measurement might not be exact. If I tried to do it twice, would the start and finish be exactly the same? One of the problems is stopping. When the odometer gets to one, you have a bit of a warning but you have to stop, so you move a little beyond a kilometre. The kilometre is a concept. It is somewhat imprecise. The amount of imprecision depends on what you chose to illustrate the concept.

Week Two

Kilometre Assignment Jan 17/22

Jan.17/22Week Two

Image of starting point for 1 kilometre on Victoria Street North. I used the yellow marker as a reference for the back of the car.

Odometer at 0
Odometer at 1
Stop location at Conservation Road
Video of vehicle travelling a kilometre

Jan. 19/22. Getting a video onto wordpress was a new experience. In the end it was pretty straight forward but it took me a while to get to that. Looking at the video, I wasn’t sure about sound. It wasn’t really necessary. Also I could benefit from a little more practice using the video function for this task. I wobbled a bit and the zooming in was awkward rather than smooth. Some of my other ideas were more imaginative and fun to do but the execution was more problematic. With those ideas, accuracy was less likely. In the end, the video of car travel seemed to be in line with one of Nauman’s criteria. It seemed efficient.

Week Three

Jan. 21/ 22 Exercise One Hour Gesture

Just after lunch, I decided to try to do the assignment…to hold a pose or gesture for 1 hour. I had been thinking of doing it outside so there would be some opportunity for engagement with people (Abramavic) on a path or roadway. However, I ended up walking outside with a fellow walker from 10:30 to 12:00. The walking worked but I thought the cold would be hard to deal with and my reaction to it would be an added unknown as I tried to stay still. I had experience with meditation though I am no expert. I have done a one hour session since Christmas. Initially I picked a spot in the hallway, where I could lean against the wall and stand on a piece of rug that might be unstable. My shoulder hurt after about 5 minutes. I then settled on another location and tried to hold 1 position. My goals initially were; to use the body, to make use of my current state of mind, and to pick the theme of precarious. In the end, I did not use the theme.

The place I selected was the most comfortable chair in my living room. It is made of maple and is well padded. It has arms for added support. I know what it feels like to sit crosslegged on the floor….I can only do about 25 minutes on a good day and then I have to lie down. The other thing about the chair is that it was bought with breast feeding my second child in mind. It is a rocker so I can adjust the position backward or forward.

I sat in this chair and tried to find a position that would give my body maximum support. I could feel feet on the floor, left leg on the chair, hands resting on arms of the chair, back against padding of the cushion, bottom on padded seat and head somewhat balanced on neck. My head did not have a support.

What did I notice as I began my one hour position? I could not see a clock but I had a timer. I really didn’t know how the hour was progressing. I wanted to keep my eyes open and focus on one point (the top right corner of the mirror) as one might in yoga. Half an hour after, I can feel tired back behind my ribs and weak legs. I could not log my experience as I sat still, so this is what I recall. I began to feel sleepy. My eyelids drooped at times and I may have fallen asleep briefly especially near the end. One of the first things I noticed was my hands, they got heavy as did my fingers. Eventually they were numb. I noticed my right arm tickled, later the left arm and eventually, near the end, my left ear. I tried to ignore that but gave up and gave it a good scratch. Felt much better and the movement loosened my whole torso. I did body scans throughout to help me stay focussed. I noticed my feet on the floor, my left leg on the chair, my bum in the seat, my back against the padding on the chairback, my arms and hands supported by the arms of the chair. I got sensation in my neck..just discomfort. My head needed to shift position a bit. I tried not to alter the position of my head but did so at least once. I found if I lost focus, thinking about something other than the task at hand, I lost my focus on the corner of the mirror. I swallowed fairly often maybe every 5 or 10 minutes. I tried not to swallow. I tried not to move my eyes but my eyelids let me down. I noticed my heart rate from time to time. It seemed to be lighter and heavier, slower and faster, in other words it seemed to be changing. When I swallowed, I had gurgling in my throat and sometimes in my gut. At the end, I felt exhausted. Even my brain was tired and it was hard to get organized to start writing this. The body is not meant to be still? At this point about 1 hour after, I feel more able to take on a task though I still feel relaxed. It struck me that what Abramavic did in The Artist is Present was a gargantuan task requiring tremendous physical and mental / emotional stamina. She stayed still for 7 hours 6 days a week for 3 months and remained engaged or connected with each individual who came to sit in her presence. There were over 70,000 people who shared that experience with her.

Position in rocker staring at corner of mirro

Brennan’s Work

KM – January 17

My kilometre was made by walking ten lengths of a soccer field (plus 7m to make it an even 100m each time) while moving a yellow ball. I gave myself the task to move the ball using a different motion each time. This task became harder to complete as I progressed through my kilometre, as my movements had to become more abstract in order to follow my rule. I documented my kilometre by wearing a POV camera with bright orange gloves and a dark-coloured jacket to contrast the snow I was walking upon. To show the abstract variations in movement, I overlayed these clips in three layers using a ‘vivid light’ blend mode to morph the figures together and dissolve any visual hierarchy or fading in the dynamics of the video. The goal with this was to create a video that focused on the strange dance created by the body rather than the specific actions themselves. One quickly and often loses track of the ball when watching the video, and the movement overtakes the action as the focus.

Alternate Version*EPILEPSY WARNING*

This version utilizes a concoction of effects to glitch and warp the video, making it focused on the movements of the whole frame, deemphasizing the hands/ball in some shots, and isolating it in others. I found this version to be less effective overall, but it produced some super interesting footage.

Lily’s Work

Week One:

Hello everyone,

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.

Kilometre Assignment:

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.

Week two:

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:

Week Three

Defenestration Assignment:

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.

Week Four

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.

Finally, i found an old halloween decoration among some of my winter mittens. i thought the shape would produce a successful image

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.

Week six

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”.

Week seven

Button ideas:

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”

“Flossed today!”

“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.


Week Eight

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.

Favourite Footsteps

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.

Final Week

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.

Natural sculptures