14 December 2013

'I'd rather it fails miserably now, than at the Degree Show"

I know you're all avid readers of my blog, so I don't need to reiterate what I said in this blog post, but if you did miss it, it was about 'Constellation' and its involvement in our degree show.
In January we are going to have an  had an 'Interim' show, at Sheffield Institute of Arts (SIA), which in accordance with Constellation, is a way to get to know the year group's art practices and design/curate a show to their advantage. SIA is a professional gallery with perfect lighting, high ceiling, an abundance of projectors and plugs, and all-round top-notch appearance. As a result, we are being encouraged to try something really bananas (ambitious), and have to refine it for the real deal (degree show), rather than playing safe (standard exhibition) and having no progression for the final show in June.

Having awkwardly and reluctantly established that the 'Constellation' map is probably unusable as it is to inform the show's curation directly, we are having to 'think outside the box' (I hate that phrase), to dictate a show full of absolutely eclectic artwork. Here are some of the most established/promising/interesting/exciting ideas.
Cabinet of Curiosities

One traditional way to bring together completely eclectic stuff is a cabinet of curiosities. This method houses all scales of artworks, and would allow for various 'curiosities' of artist practices to be shown (tools, research, inspiration etc.), as well at the main pieces. It also has connotations of high art and wealth, as well as implications of a diverse timeline - not just one static moment, but a showing of process and time in the work.

'Up in the Air'

Obviously all the art wouldn't be kitchenware, and it would be spaced around a gallery. This image is purely for illustrative purposes.

During discussions it was noticed that the inability to pinpoint the diversity of work, and the course as a whole, was as if CAP was loitering in space somewhere, up in the air. It was suggested that all the work was suspended, in some sort of to-be-defined constellation, as a really ambitious and dramatic show. It will obviously be difficult to 'hang' some works, such as video piece or large/heavy pieces, but the idea is more of an image of suspension - plinths would 'suspend' some works from below, for example.
One part about this which I find particularly appealing, is the use of the shadow cast on a blank wall, to mark our artist names/info. It would also be a wonderful spectacle from the mezzanine balcony of the gallery.

'Making Noise'

One way of exposing our practices/artworks in a conventional gallery space would be subtle sound installations for each piece of work, either with headphones for every piece (the closest image I could find is above), or as a quiet atmospheric mix of noises. Paint squelches, squeegees, ticking, typing and clicking (in my case).

Inverted white cube
I think it would have been hard to make this work, in that it would have perhaps looked like a bad attempt at a white cube, rather than subverting the expected.

Salon style

This method would have been guaranteed to look good if we all had small to large, shown in light, 2D work. However, this is not the case and would have worked to some people's advantage while at the detriment of others. Also, the walls are the perfect size for this, but the floor space is enormous.

Kids' alphabet poster
A particularly beautiful example from Decoylab
Another lovely example from Draw Pilgrim

One curious idea to tie together a seemingly eclectic mix of work was to base the room on a children's alphabet poster. There are about 30 of us, and it could be a cheeky and playful way to present while non pretentiously putting forward conceptual themes in our work.

Ordering by Colour

I was particularly fond of ordering everyone's pieces by colour across the room or around the room. Or ordering them by complexity, size, or other aesthetic values.

4 December 2013

Youth Arts Online Interview, with me, a youth

In case you fancy a read, which is mainly me channeling the voice of my tutor and bigging up Sheffield Hallam, please go on Youth Arts Online and read my INTERVIEW. I also talk about my art, and my processes, and my aspirations.
YAO is a really great platform for young creatives, and I think it's a really valuable source to show that a creative career path is completely legitimate, and should be encouraged! I was a little surprised when I was approached because I forgot that I was technically a youth. I do feel twenty years old, but I feel like twenty is a lot older than it is.

30 November 2013

Shapeshifting and Constellations

'Constellation' is the project which aims to map the diverse range of art practices across Creative Art Practice, as a means of producing a carefully considered and well-curated degree show in June. The mapping began in an interactive session where all students placed their 'art practice' on this graph:

I don't have an image of everybody's practices mapped, but this is last year's CAP Level 6 constellation:

As you can see from the site, last year's group followed the constellation quite closely, not in a literal way to lay out the show, but as a running theme for the diverse work, and a way to amalgamate artworks together with more conceptual links and underlying connections. However, when it came for our year group to plot their works, there was confusion and uncertainty for such a pinpointed diagram. I wondered for a while what was so confusing about it, and why pieces of work could be placed in various quarters of the graph - and it is for a few reasons that I think unfortunately we have to abandon the physical contellation, and go on with our new knowledge of our colleagues practices:

  • The Graph implies that 'material' and 'concept', and 'start with material' and 'start with concept' are opposite, and mutually exclusive - which they are not. This causes a few indiscrepancies on the graph, including one example below.

  • Also, a lot of students' practices are process based, especially on CAP, and this graph doesn't really allow for this concept - is 'process' a material or a concept?

There isn't really a solution, as trying to fix diverse practices under the umbrella term of diversity renders itself impossible but I have come up with a couple of ideas - partly in response to the set question, 'What Shape is Your Practice?'

Using the same graph (with the x-axis labels swapped to make a positive 'material' quarter and a negative 'concept' quarter), I have plotted points on each axis like a personality map, to show the 'shape of my practice' in an easy and simple way.

What Shape is Your Practice #1

I have also made a more abstract shape similar to Jerome's above, which depicts raw, 'solid', fixed data being manipulated, refined and transformed into a similarly rigid new form. There is always a link between the two stages.

What Shape is Your Practice #2

I will queue an update on Constellation for the next few days, I haven't done a blog post in forever and am trying to space them out! I will DEFINITELY blog more often this time.

24 October 2013

Situation of the Gravity

Iiiiittttttttt's that time again!
I say as if I ever wrote up my notes from last year's Gravity series of lectures. Yes, Gravity is back and it's stronger than ever (hurr hurr). The theme this year is Pleasure.

Gravity I. 10th September 2013
The first lecture was mainly an introduction, and involved speeches from Penny McCarthy, Dr Becky Shaw, and Andrew Sneddon. I remember last year at the beginning of Gravity, Penny wrote a brilliant speech to open with, and nobody clapped! The same again happened this year, although Penny's speech proved a little controversial. All of the speeches surrounded the role of Pleasure within art - in its making and its viewing, and all (except Andrew) gave a manifesto-style speeches, almost like rules of pleasure within art.

Penny began by comparing the pleasure of art to the pleasure of television. Whereas television is produced to provide as close to 100% pleasure as possible, Penny stated that art is 51% pleasure, 49% pain. I think she is saying it is as pleasurable, but only complete with pain in making, in resolving issues, understanding the artwork instead of being served it on a plate - but then the percentages don't add up. Surely she didn't mean that art is only half as good as telly? She then encouraged us to always find time for art, and don't be preoccupied with making art for propaganda messages, but enjoy the pleasure of conjuring worlds, arranging patterns and improving visuals.
It was then that she brought up Hitler's art school past, and said that art isn't for the elite or cleverer people; some awful people, like Hitler love art, which renders art useless of a practical function-or at least contributes to art's uselessness. The uselessness/lack of functionality of art is so significant to the human species, as it is one of the things which humans do only for pleasure - art is a purely useless yet beautiful and pleasurable thing.
The argument of what 'use' is didn't really add up, and I am still a bit confused by the whole thing. Following on from this we were told that you should learn your artistic-fantasies by encountering those just above you, and were encouraged to do a set amount of making/creative activities each day. Q&A tried to unravel this bizarre introduction.

Becky said:

  • Don't perform for me and the tutors in your work, it is essential that you make work that gives you pleasure.
  • Teaching can be an art - it is incredibly pleasurable to watch someone develop and nurture them in education.
  • Working with other people can be a pleasure, artist contemporaries, or with the public as the face of your work, or helping people, in art therapy for example.
  • Your research is making based - colour and making are the root of enquiry, before any larger non physical issues.
  • Anomalies are sources of interest - things that go 'wrong', unexpected results, captured moments of time.
  • Guilty pleasures don't have to be guilty - colourful pop culture is nothing to be ashamed of, and these types of forms of 'low' art have a valid place alongside 'higher' art.
  • Pleasure in art comes in discovery - discovery in research and discovery in unravelling a piece of art.
She also came up with the McCarthy Formula (Penny).

The McCarthy Formula
- The things that give us pleasure, have no eternal measure
- To develop our practices, pleasure has to be accompanied by

and you can see from the notes the last word is so messy that you can't really tell what it says. I think it is 


...but I'm not sure.
Andrew's speech was a little less motivational, but interesting nonetheless. He said that his pleasures in looking lie with Gracian marble sculpture and antique Japanese print - but made it very clear that he has no pleasure in Shunga. He, like Becky, finds pleasure in communication and teaching. He then showed a video and still from his crit group on the slide at Electric works, an outing based on the vague link of the Tate having Carsten Holler's slide installation, about art and the pleasure of experiencing art. He also taught us the word 'scopophilia' - Freud's pleasure of looking.
He concluded by saying that

'All research begins with looking and obvserving'
..which basically says indirectly, that if you don't find pleasure in looking at things, your art practice will be flawed from the start.

Question and Answers and Observations
The first question addressed Penny's notion of the uselessness of art, saying that indirectly, art cannot as a functional object help famine for example, but indirectly, by tapping into philosophies and broadening minds and creating wealth. Penny did quite well to defend her speech, but from then a lot of issues of 'use' relating to saving lives came up from both the audience and the staff. It seemed that the only significant way something is 'useful' is by saving lives, when really there are infinitely more types of use. The second question addressed the censoring of the vices, sin and sex in the speeches about pleasure. The speeches were very clean. Penny said she actually censored the part of her speech about art being able to induce orgasm, and both Andrew and Becky discussed erotic Shunga, including octopi. More people then felt fit to ask questions. It all went a bit bizarre from here, including Becky making a 'come again' pun. Then, Penny announced that 'Andrew is funny isn't he', a 'funny sidekick.

Last Thursday (my blog is so late), was Liz Rideal, who opened with her 'object of pleasure', which each artist chooses prior. She said she could have just brought a big dildo, as this would have been 'certainly pleasurable'.

Gravity is funny, I will post my serious notes on Liz Rideal asap.

10 October 2013

Stripey Paintings

One comment I have got on my work a few times is 'I like your stripey paintings'. This is obviously interesting as they're always presented as digital prints. This came up in Crit the other day too - When my tutor asked my colleagues what the medium of my works were (referring at this time to the ones exhibited in Confab (see next post)), they were described as paintings.

Jaz Parkinson, Revelation I

I think the culture of stripey paintings, as outlined in this great fun article here, is the reason why. In cropping away the poster-like, book-cover-esque borders, the colour signatures in a gallery setting instantly reference years of minimalist, stripey painting, from huge figures such as Mark Rothko and Bridget Riley.

Have a look!

6 October 2013

Long Time No CONFAB

Been almost a month since my last blog! I promise to blog at least once a week from this very day. I guess this means I have been busy!

I'm in two exhibitions at the moment! The first is CONFAB, as part of unofficial ArtSheffield, at 35 Chapel Walk.

There's actually only 9 artists in it, so the space is a little sparser than I would have hoped, but on the closing night this Tuesday, we are hopefully having some live drawing and live origami! This is the blurb I wrote:
'Confab brings together the work of nine locally-based contemporary artists, in an exhibition which explores the assembly and construction of materials. The notion of ‘confab’ encourages a dialogue, not only between the various and contrasting components of each piece of work, but between the observer and the artefacts within the space. Stand-alone, the deconstructed components of each work are not precious – it is upon the construction of these elements that a valuable dialogue is formed.'
I am showing two colour signatures from Genesis and Revelation, and using the exhibition as a bit of an experiment. The setting is a lot more contemporary than I am used to, and with the absence of blurbs and labels, there is limited information available about my work. All I have is 'Jaz Parkinson, Genesis, Revelation (2013), Colour Data, Digital Print.' I'm curious whether people will 'get it', so I look forwardto any feedback.
Private view is this Tuesday! Come along if you're in the area. https://www.facebook.com/events/584927491564267/?fref=ts

Up at 35, Chapel Walk

Mounting in the Studio (A1 square is bigger on the floor than it is on the wall)

15 September 2013

Lost in Translation

The other day, I entered the Information is Beautiful awards, with comparative data from Genesis, and Revelation from the bible. I ordered them as similarly as I could, so the differences would be more apparent:

Genesis on the left, Revelation on the right.
All very interesting, the similar palettes of creation and destruction.

However the strange thing is the dissimilarity between the Revelation signature for this project, and the Revelation signature which I originally did:
Revelation (New Style (King David))
Revelation (Old Style (Different Bible)

As you can see, the charts look subtly different, which I think is mainly due to the different translation of the Bible I used. For the new project I used the King James version, but for the other, I'm fairly sure it was a different version (Maybe New International? which has caused these irregularities - as if the translator has a limited colour palette.. I mean obviously I know that I have switched the spectrum around too in order to compare with Genesis, but you can make out the colours which I've switcherooed quite easily. Although, looking at the two, it is strange how having a colour being surrounding by different colours in each can change it.

You can see that a lot of the 'gold' imagery has been changed to 'golden' in the King James version - I aways depict 'gold' as the metallic colour, whereas golden is brighter somehow, more fantastical. Also, for some reason there is a significantly larger amount of 'fire' in its various forms, indicating that is was much more prominent. A few of the gemstones have been replaced with other gemstones - carnelian for sardine stone for example, and the lapis lazuli I was so fond of has disappeared completely! Also, there seems to be generally a higher proportion of gems in the first version I did. A few similes were also changed, including 'black as a funeral pall', to 'black as a sackcloth of hair', and 'blood like blood from a corpse' to 'blood like of a dead man'.

More research to be done I think, and its a curious one. I am questioing my own colour judgement I think - did my mind feel more colourful first time round? And I thought my mind was a constant.