Jenny Holzers sign works use language to draw attention and disrupt an institutional site, this is seen strongly in her set of works Truisms. The work is displayed in public spaces and engages a new meaning that challenges the preconceptions of the space. She particularly is interested in corporate use of public space, and challenges this with her text signs. I am interested in this use of language to disrupt a space, and in my own practice I am particularly considering how disrupted language sits besides intentional, direct language used by institutions, and the relationship that this creates.
The work of dècollage artists such as Wolf Vestell and Jacques Mahè has been also been a key influence in my repsonse to the SITE project. I haven’t done any specifically dècollaged work, however I am interested in their use posters and advertisements to disrupt public displays of information. Dècollage is also an interesting example of the relationship between destruction and creation, through the working of existing layers of information – the practice becomes a creative archaeological exploration of history, reinterpreting and reconstructing the relationship between the layers to create fresh pieces of work.
I have been developing chance pieces of text and photo-montage for the subject brief, generating meaningless and nonsensical works. Through the SITE project ‘Do it yourself’ I have been exploring places around campus where I could possibly look to bring this work into the public realm.
When exploring around campus I quite quickly began thinking about the places that contain quite intense amount of written or visual information intended to convey a message or act as a form of communication. For example, places such as notice boards, magazine racks and the library.
I thought it would be interesting to play around with the contrast between information and non information. To explore how pieces of non information, with no intentional meaning, would sit in a space specifically designed with a purpose of conveying intentional and specific messages or news.
Here are some examples of the work that I wanted to display
And here are photographs of the works within the spaces.
I am also quite intrigued as to how the collages I have made would be received by anyone who came across them in that space, how they would try to make sense or understand the works. I am interested in that process of trying to work out whether or not the information they are seeing has any possible message or information to communicate, why it is there at all and seeking to make sense of what is written or what is shown.
Dada artists were concerned with distancing themselves from reason, a tool that many of these artists used to achieve this was photo-montage and collage. Collage allows for the disruption of rationality, whilst using familiar and commonplace imagery found in tools of communication such as magazines, newspapers and other mass media.
I am interested in how I could deal with contemporary imagery, in similar ways to the Dada artists, in order to critique or examine the way we deal with stories within a postmodern society. My intention is to further investigate the conditions of postmodernism, and explore the mass of disjointed and obsessive narratives that form from these conditions.
Ernst was a pioneer of both the Dada and surrealist movements, his primary concern was a reaction against the logic and bourgeois sensibility that had led to the horrors of World War 1. His photo-montage work achieves this, playfully bringing together the images of the time to mock the ‘logic’ that had led to the War.
Höch’s focus was a critique of modern imagery and media – particularly on how women were represented within this, creating collages that examined the changing role of women following the War.
Hannah Höch. German, 1889-1978 Cut with the Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany (Schnitt mit dem Küchenmesser durch die letzte Weimarer Bierbauchkulturepoche Deutschlands). 1919-1920 Photomontage and collage with watercolor, 44 7/8 x 35 7/16 (114 x 90 cm) Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie © 2006 Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, © 2006 Hannah Höch / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo: Jörg P. Anders, Berlin
“Schwitters set out to make “new art forms from the remains of a former culture””
Using found materials and fragments, Schwitters is less inclined to make humorous social comments, but instead takes a disrupted wander through culture.
The first few sessions that I had in ‘Tipping Point: An Agent for Change’ were really quite daunting! Sitting in the clean graphics studio reading through a list of objectives and dates, discussing how to develop a brief and awaiting the arrival of a client, I felt a bit like a fish out of water and if I’m honest, was regretting my choice of field group. However, I decided to stick with it, recognising that positioning myself outside my comfort zone would probably be a good opportunity for growth as an artist. This was definitely the right decision, and I found this option one of the most significant opportunities for growth that I have had in university so far.
This was a live brief, which meant working alongside a real client, the significance of this was the opportunity to experience a realistic working environment. As a result of its live nature, the project involved more structure than I am used to. In my artistic practice, I have really benefited from some of the skills that this structure gave. For example, I was able to see that rather than hindering creative process, being able to set and meet goals was actually improving my productivity. Instead of one large objective at the end of the project, we set milestones to meet along the way, which enabled me to work much more thoroughly and consistently. This is something that has definitely benefited me in my approach to the way that I work as an artist.
One main objective that the client emphasised was to consider how to create and nurture empathy between cultures that have significant social and geographical differences. Myself and my project partner Rebekah Seaman, looked to achieve this by creating a mascot and encouraging the children to create, personalise and then take this mascot to a favourite outdoor place in their community and take a photo, which they would then be able to share across the communities that they were partnered with through Size of Wales. I am incredibly pleased with the outcome, and how it was received by the clients. Working closely with an organisation taught me a lot about the importance of listening carefully and responding thoughtfully to the direct needs of a client. I am pleased that this became a strength of ours, and the clients noted in their feedback of our presentation that they were pleased with how well we had considered and met their specific concerns. I felt that we successfully and sensitively put forward a good practical way to achieve connection, empathy and communication across such a diverse range of communities. Encouraging those involved to value their own environment, and to also recognise the value and beauty found across the world, hoping that this would change attitudes and encourage people to reflect on the way that their behaviours (specifically linked with environmental issues) can have a global impact.
Below is documentation of the mascot itself and some prototype photographs of our intentions. Following this is a link to the presentation that we made to the clients, a creative narrative of how we hoped that the project would unfold in the future.
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Yesterday was our final pitch for the project – it took place at the ‘temple of peace’ in Cardiff, which was a really lovely place to end the project.
We are really happy with how our presentation went, and how it was received by our peers, tutors and by the team at Size of Wales. It was a really great end to a very interesting and beneficial 5 weeks working in ‘Tipping Point’. We really hope that Size of Wales takes on our idea, and will work with us to implement it and carry it forward into an active project.
Working with them in the future is something that looks like a real possibility, judging by the conversations we had with them following our pitch. Claire was really affirming of the way in which we had ticked many of the boxes of the organisation. We had kept in mind their message of empowerment and positivity, worked within the platforms that the organisation had available to them, and had proposed a project that was practically and financially viable for them. We really hope that the idea we have proposed to them has stuck and is something that we can continue to work on with them.
It is helpful to consider how our idea sits in relation to the 3 agents highlighted by Gladwell as necessary in creating a tipping point.
The Law of the Few
As well as being able to include myself and Bex under this, I can also recognise that the people that we are hoping to reach out to with this project will also act as the few that are needed to carry the intentions of the project forward. Size of Wales are able to easily access schoolchildren, we can recognise schools and partner schools across communities in Wales, South America and Africa that can be reached by the organisation quite effectively. By reaching out to these young people we hope to encourage a behaviour change, both in them and anyone that they need the support of to implement changes. We hope that by changing the way individuals feel towards other communities far from their own, it will create a passion and a care that will spread.
The Stickiness Factor
Our stickiness factor is the pride that individuals have in the places they love and the want to share what they are proud of with others. I also think that this project idea would stick as it creates an opportunity for people to engage with new, exciting places and also themselves become ambassadors for their own loved places, that they can then share with lots of other people around the world. We also hope that the character of Sow in itself would become part of what will make this idea stick, if we can get people relating to and engaged with the character in some way – then this will hopefully encourage people to sustain an interest and relationship with the project.
The Power of Context
It was important for us, from the beginning, to find an idea that was able to fit into and travel across multiple contexts. We hope that the idea that we have proposed is able to achieve this. The nature of the idea, pride and appreciation of your environment, is something that I think is able to reach into many different contexts. Considering the idea within the immediate context to us, in the West and more specifically Wales we can see how the use of social media can play a large part in the unfolding of this idea. In a society of viral trends and online sharing, we have a very helpful platform from which we can launch this project.
We wanted to explore how Sow would fit into different environments. We also thought we’d start the activity of photographing Sow in places important to us, and so took Sow around Cardiff for a photo shoot. I managed to persuade my sister to come with me and help me with this. We got a few funny looks, however this actually allowed me to consider how the photographing part of the activity can become a powerful part of getting people engaged with the organisation. Carrying Sow around publicly is an out of the ordinary activity which does turn heads, especially if its being photographed. We had quite a few people looking at us whilst we took photographs. Hopefully, this could encourage questioning and raise awareness for the work organisation.
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