Tessa

WEEK ELEVEN:

I had fun making the cake! I haven’t tried it yet, though. Hopefully it tastes good! The only ingredient that I did not have was chocolate chips.

WEEK TEN:

For my final product, I ended up with a video of me preparing the “soup” that is a bit over four minutes long. Initially, I thought I was going to do a voice over explaining what I was doing, but I preferred it without this. It almost seems like some sort of weird ASMR, except it is not very satisfying. The sound of me cutting into the wood is very squeaky and unpleasant, and there are a lot of cringe-inducing scraping noises as I stir the bowl. This year, I have focused a lot on making very absurd artworks. I really like the concept of making food with things that are not food. I like the sense of discomfort that I feel when watching this. The thought of someone eating this freaks me out a bit.

Another thing that I have been focusing on in my art is feelings of nostalgia and childhood memories. It is so interesting to recreate something as an adult that you used to do as a child.

I used

  • Grass
  • Flowers
  • Rocks
  • Burnt Piece of Wood
  • Pinecone
  • Water

WEEK NINE:

This may sound like it is completely unrelated, but what made me think of my idea was the bread podcast we listened to. It made me think about how bread means something to everyone, and everyone has at least one memory surrounding bread. For me, some of my fondest memories of bread come from my childhood. That made me start to think about what other food-related memories I had from my childhood. One thing that came to mind was this one Easter when I was probably around seven or eight years old, my grandparents gave me this huge chocolate bunny and I ate the whole thing when my Dad was busy giving my brother a bath. I thought about recreating that moment for a video, but I knew that would make me feel very sick and I wasn’t up for that. So then I thought of other memories of food I had when I was a child.

When I was a kid I used to make “soups” out of everything that I could find outside. My grandfather owned this nice little piece of land in the country that we called “Grandpa’s Garden.” There were two huge fields that were part of his garden that he grew many types of vegetables in. Because of how big the fields were, he had this bathtub in the middle of one of those fields that would collect rainwater that he would use to fill his watering can. One day, I was with a couple other kids and we decided to make a “soup” in that bathtub. We put in dirt, rocks, leaves, and some of the crops to really make it interesting. I really like the concept of nostalgia and reliving some entertaining childhood memories, so this memory really inspired my idea for this assignment.

I want to make a video of myself making a “soup” out of stuff that I find in my backyard. There’s branches, leaves, apples, walnuts, and many other interesting ingredients. I want to make a video of myself preparing, scooping, and presenting the “soup.” I also want to write down and post the recipe of what I make.

WEEK EIGHT:

Bread is something that is very important to me. It is a comfort and is something that I have probably a couple times every week.

Bread is something that was very important to me growing up. Some of my fondest memories of my childhood involved bread. I remember being very young and waking up on Saturday mornings to my dad baking a fresh loaf of bread for my brother and I to have for lunch for the next few days. We had a very small house, so the whole place would smell like freshly baked bread when he made it. I would always be so excited at school when it was time to eat and I would open my lunchbox to find some of my dad’s bread. So much has changed since I was a child. My dad’s bread maker broke and life became more complicated as I grew older, but to this day, baking bread reminds me of the point in my life when I was the happiest. Making bread as a class reminded me of that time.

Bread is a staple in my family. I am currently back home living in Barrie with my mom and my brother. We get local grocery deliveries every week, and recently, we have been getting a loaf of sourdough bread every week. In my house, there is nothing more exciting than having a loaf of bread. It creates more possibilities and options for meals, or you can just have it plain, but no matter what, it always tastes good.

I think that one reason why people started to bake bread during the pandemic was that we all collectively attempted to learn a new skill or become more resourceful when we were staying home. This might sound weird, but I felt so accomplished after making bread from scratch in our class. In my twenty years of being alive, I have accomplished many amazing things, but for some reason I was especially proud of myself for this. Bread is just such an important everyday food, so for me to finally make it by myself felt very impressive.

Something that I really liked about the podcast was an observation that it made close to the beginning. It talked about how bread is important in pretty much every culture in some way. Not only is bread consumed by so many different cultures, but the form and meaning behind bread differs between cultures. Bread is significant in christianity, for example. But ultimately, bread is the one food that brings us all together. What especially shocked me was how the term “companionship” comes from eating bread together. Bread has always been a big part of my life, but this podcast made me realize how many different conversations we can have related to bread. The podcast described bread as a foundation. It was easy to transport and easy to make throughout the years. Bread was a very significant part of human development. Although, it also claims how bread was the worst mistake that humans have ever made. Storing grain equaled storing wealth, which meant that some people had more power over others. Poorer people usually farmed for wealthier people in order to make bread. Bread was also used as a currency throughout time to pay workers. Bread can also be kind of controversial because it can be rather unhealthy for you if not eaten in moderation. I have encountered many people in my life who do not eat bread because they are trying to be healthy. The podcast stated that the idea of bread itself is political, which I find very interesting and true.

I forgot to take a picture of my bread, but I do have a photo of the dough.

The bread turned out so much better than I thought it would. I was just about to start another class so I was a bit distracted when I made the dough. I was worried that I might have done something wrong, but it turned out amazing and my mom and brother loved it.

WEEK SEVEN:

Suck Teeth Compositions:

I really enjoyed this piece. It describes how the act of sucking in your teeth is often done as an act of disapproval, disgust, or disappointment. This action is performed by a group of Black people. Additionally, each time a person is shown, it typically shows them three times on the screen, or shows them with two other people on the screen at the same time. The frame is relatively close to the person’s face, but we can still see enough of their body to see their corresponding body language. The audio is clean and crisp, and it is easy to understand what the noise they are making is. The use of media and visual technology creates a very interactive experience with this piece. The individuals in the video are responding to both global and personal issues that they have experienced with race. The understanding of racism by many white people is that they believe that they are not racist and that Canada does not have not have a racism issue because they say we are “not as bad as the United States.”  I have met racist people who get offended when they are called racist because they don’t want to be associated with that word, even though it perfectly describes them.

Something that truly angers me is how often I have heard people say something along the lines of “racism doesn’t exist in Canada.” I attended a primarily white elementary school, and the way that many of the non-white students were treated was disgusting, and I do not understand how people think that racism is not an issue in Canada. 

I think that this piece would not have as much as an impact if it was not shown as a video. This piece could have been done as a series of photos, but I do not think that photos alone can capture the emotion that is held in the video. I think that part of the instructions were likely something along the lines of “think of your experience living in Canada as a Black person,” or a response to someone saying “racism in Canada isn’t that big of an issue.” Everyone looks upset and like there is so much on their minds. I think that the use of technology in this video piece is perfectly used and I think that the style of the video is absolutely essential to portraying this message.

This is the only video that worked for me. The other two links did not work when I pressed them, but I did try to do some additional research on “The Mobile Kitchen Lab.” I think that this project shares a similar theme as the previous one.

http://basilalzeri.com/projects/the-mobile-kitchen-lab-presents-beit-suad/ 

I found some great information on this site. This piece is inspired by systemized violence, similar to the previous piece. Based on this website, it appears that this piece is the artist, Basil AlZeri, cooking meals that his mother would cook for him and then teaching his audience to make those meals.

What strikes me the most is the familiar and comforting use of video calls as a part of his art. In the photos I found, it shows him cooking while on a video call with his mother. I have family living in many places around North America, so video calls have been a big part of my life for the past decade or so. My aunt and cousin live in Mexico, so we video call them every few months to catch up. I think that video calls and technology are a great way to celebrate one’s culture or their relationship with other cultures in ways that are more easily accessible to do now. It is easier to communicate with your friends and family who live in another country than you do.

My cousin is half Mexican and has always lived in Mexico, so I’ve only been able to see him in person maybe three times. I think that the act of video calling a family member and sharing memories or information is so wonderful. When my family and I talk to each other, it is interesting to see how different our lives are because of where we live. In Canada we have snow and cold winters that my cousin doesn’t get to experience in Mexico. We share our very different experiences and stories over video calls.

This piece focuses on the importance of embracing your family and culture despite the violence against Palestinian people. After a call with his mother, he holds workshops to teach his audience how to make the food, which celebrates his culture and his relationship with his mother. I think that food is something that brings so many people together, and also creates a sense of comfort in this work. 

I think that the initial presence of his mother on a video call is essential to this piece. I don’t think that this work would have affected me so much if there was not this use of technology that I can relate to so much.

For my zoom video, it didn’t turn out how I thought it would. I asked about 40 people to help me but no one was available except for my brother so we just rolled with it. I was originally going to edit it and just make it a compilation of our animal noises, but I actually preferred the unedited version. It was really messy and we laughed a lot, and my brother kept coughing for some reason. It reminded me of how in our online classes, we cannot edit out our mistakes. I like how raw and cringeworthy it is. My idea is something that I think could have been so fun and interesting with a large amount of people, but since it was just the two of us I felt like it could be less formal and more like we’re trying to communicate and have a conversation.

WEEK SIX:

For my idea, I would like to make a “Zoom Zoo.” I want to have a large group of people together on a zoom call, and have everyone imitate an animal. I had a lot of fun when we made a video in class with all the different reactions at inappropriate times. I realized that I really love videos like that which are entertaining and often weird. I had a lot of initial ideas, with some being:

  • Everyone screaming together
  • A physical fight over a zoom call
  • A staring contest
  • Someone leaving their mic on, which records an awkward situation or conversation
  • Everyone breaking proper zoom etiquette
  • Having a conversation with myself on the different days of the week

Although I had many ideas, I became very interested in my concept of a Zoom Zoo.

Other than the video we made in class, my biggest inspiration was the video of the people singing Bob Marley songs. I like the idea of many people together on one screen, working as one, but also independently. Each person plays a significant part of the whole piece, and it’s so wonderful. I want to try and do this, but in a very different way.

When coming up with this idea, I was spending a lot of my time thinking about zoom calls and the new problems and situations that have surfaced because of them. I googled a couple words related to zoom calls to see what google would suggest for me to look up. 

A primary thing that often came up in these searches was that zoom calls make people uncomfortable, or they make people feel very bored. I have had a fair share of awkward zoom moments. A couple weeks ago in sculpture I accidentally unmuted my mic and I was aggressively shaking a bottle of vitamins to try and get one out and everyone heard that and had no idea what I was doing. I have also heard countless of my classmates speaking when they thought they were muted. These are all new issues to us, so of course there are some rather funny mishaps sometimes.

I am a very quiet person and more often than not I will be in zoom calls with my mic and camera turned off. With my idea of a Zoom Zoo, I wanted to acknowledge and tackle the idea that zoom calls can be boring, awkward, or even chaotic and overwhelming by creating a purposely intense and uncomfortable situation.

WEEK FIVE

Here is my finished video. I ended up only doing indoor plants because I couldn’t get footage that easily distinguished between the outdoor plants because they were all dead or bare because of the weather. There may be a few editing errors that I missed in this final video. Premiere kept crashing on me and I had to keep restarting everything so I might not have caught everything.

WEEK FOUR

Many of these artworks made me think about plants in ways that I usually would not. I found “Houseplant vacation,” to be especially interesting. Most of our houseplants stay put, and are not usually moved around too much. The idea of taking your plants from your home and taking them on a “vacation” is a very interesting concept that I really enjoy. Another concept I really like comes from “Trees are fags.” In this audio walk, it is discussed how trees have been around for so long and have had so many experiences.

My brother recently told me about a conversation girls in his class were having about plants. They were saying how there is something wrong with you if you do not regularly talk to your plants. I wouldn’t say that I often talk to my plants, but I do sometimes make comments about how they’re doing when I water them. This comment made by his classmates made me wonder something: if plants could talk, what would they say? 

Moving forward with this concept, I started thinking about what each one of plants would talk about. All of my houseplants came from somewhere, and they eventually ended up at the grocery store where I bought them. Some I bought in Barrie and others in Guelph. My small collection of plants have been in places that I probably haven’t been before. They have interacted with people before I got them. It is possible that someone else almost bought them before I did but decided against it. Then, I thought about outdoor plants. They have also seen many interesting things and people. The trees in my backyard have seen me grow up over the past eleven years. They have experienced harsh snow and rain storms that my indoor plants would have been inside for. Looking at these contrasting experiences, I thought: if indoor and outdoor plants could talk to each other, what would they say to each other? And how do their own memories differ from plant to plant? And most importantly, what would these plants say about myself. Throughout my whole life, I have been surrounded by plants. Each plant has a memory of me. Plants have seen me at my best and at my worst.

My idea for this assignment is to have each plant tell a memory of me. The memories of each plant will vary depending on when I got the plant and whether it is an indoor or outdoor plant. The following images are a few examples of plants and how they relate to me. An autobiography, but told through the perspective of significant plants.

Here’s a couple examples of plants and memories or moments that I associate them with.

WEEK THREE

 Some of the sentences that I was looking at:

meaningless way to describe art

the lone image of a glass of milk

Simplicity

anxieties about death

minimal aesthetic

deeply conflicted

While reading the article, I wrote down every sentence that stuck out to me. Some I thought sounded very deep and meaningful out of context, and others I found sounded quite strange. Then I kind of made it my goal to find the best sentence that could be looked at out of context and perplex the viewer. I ended up going in a weird direction for this assignment. The words I chose to isolate were “The lone image of a glass of milk.” I thought it was funny and kind of ominous. I made the banner out of blue paper and a blue marker. I was hoping to use a blank wall as the background and just have a glass of milk in front of it, but the banner was too big to be hung inside my house. I went outside in my backyard and chose our pergola to hang the banner. I put the glass of milk on the step and hung the banner above it. I like how it turned out. It’s very weird.

WEEK TWO

Both artists use text in very interesting ways. In the first example, Myre uses an existing text: The Indian Act, and beads over the writing. In Niro’s work, she writes her own text on the shirt. To begin, I’m going to talk about both pieces and how the medium is relevant to each message. 

Nadia Myre, Indian Act, 2002
I learned about this piece in an Indigenous art history course that I took last semester. In this class, I learned about how significant beading is. To take the Indian Act and cover it with beads is very powerful. It is a message of holding onto one’s culture even when it was trying to be destroyed. The materials used in this piece are especially significant, because of how important the art of beadwork is in Indigenous communities throughout time. The Indian Act has caused so many horrible things to happen. 
Shelley Niro, The Shirt (detail), 2003

Just like the previous piece, Shelley Niro’s “The Shirt” is also very powerful and the materials in combination with the text are very strong. Indigenous people have been treated in horrible ways for so long. They have been looked at as some sort of rare object to be observed by Europeans, almost like some sort of tourist attraction, which I can see portrayed in Niro’s piece. I also learned in my art history class last semester that countless precious artworks and ceremonial masks or other objects were stolen and displayed in museums by Europeans, which is an example of my previous point.

I think the main message is that Indigenous people have been through so many terrible things, and nothing has been done to resolve it, shown in the “and all’s I get is this shirt.” As I’m sure you know, getting a t-shirt as a gift from someone who travelled somewhere exciting is considered very underwhelming and disappointing. So to say that her ancestors went through all that trauma that continues to affect people to this day and then say that all she gets out of this all is a shirt says a lot about how Indigenous people feel about the lack of compassion and continuing mistreatment that exists to this day. I think that using a shirt with this text is a perfect way to portray her message.

The medium is very important in this piece because it creates a commentary on the issues that I have mentioned, like treating Indigenous people and objects as tourist attractions throughout the years, and also, shows how Indigenous people are left with nothing. 

In both examples, the viewers are supposed to use their historical understanding of Indigenous issues and connect the text to that. The first example shows a feeling of overpowering the horrible contents of the Indian Act with beadwork. The second shows the frustration and disappointment experienced by Indigenous people. I think that both of these artworks create an emotional response in the viewers. I found both pieces very powerful.

WEEK ONE NOTES

I had a lot of fun creating book stacks. I was most inspired by Nina Katchadourian’s narrative compositions. I made it my goal to make really absurd stacks that tell weird stories or say strange points. My house has so many books in it, so I had a lot to work with. I went through every bookshelf in my house, trying to find titles that I thought sounded interesting. At first, I used books with similar themes or genres. I grouped books for children together, and textbooks together, but nothing sounded good to me. I went through my mom’s bookshelves, and I found books with more interesting titles. I combined different types of books and ended up with some pretty interesting narratives.

To me, my examples feel like they’re trying to make a point, but that point is unclear and you’re not too sure what to take away from it. They feel kind of ominous and overall very odd, and I really enjoy that.

One thought on “Tessa

  1. Hi Tessa,
    Week 1:
    Katchadourian notes complete and lots of reflection and engagement, 3 Book stack images complete and more – I like how you used what you could find at home, and pushed into your mom’s collection and made new stories – I see evidence of thinking and processing, and a sort of poetic, humorous new text appear.

    Week 2:
    Notes on two text works complete, and shows a good general level of understanding of critical ideas at play.

    Week 3:
    Text banner exercise and description – so much process and thinking, and close consideration of the article. Great choice of found words – and a pretty absurd set up for the lone glass of milk. I wonder if you tried this in various contexts? Does it create more tension when there is a banner announcing something banal in a normal situation? Although I like again how this proposes a mystery, and prompts the viewer to imagine an explanation… Think more about how material, form, and context all expand meaning and the emotional effect on the audience.

    Week 4:
    Nature video- notes on Houseplant Vacation are there, and I like this video and your approach to imagine your stories from the plants’ point of view. It’s a moving list of deadpan, simple narratives – that together paint an emotional story. Play with conceptual approaches too – not just narrative ones – and start with a prompt or a task for yourself or for your materials/subjects. This brings interest and tension – watching things unfold in unpredictable ways. In your own work, think about experimentation (not knowing what will happen) and risk – push yourself but while being safe to make something with more complexity and seriousness.

    Trust the artworks shown in class and give them serious attention. Spend time with all the references, and see how artists approach video/images differently from stories from popular culture.

    Thank you for your attendance and engagement in class discussions and activities. We’d like to see and hear more from you!

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

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