2021 Art in Process: What the Heck am I doing?

This post is going to go over what the heck I’m doing, how I got to this point, and how I’m jumping into process no-matter if I don’t actually know what the final outcome will look like.

I’ve written in my posts over this year that I’m working towards an art residency that begins in the middle of June and runs till the end of July at RM Gallery in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

An arts residency is difficult to qualify in terms of: what it is or what is expected from the gallery, as galleries will have very different processes and expectations. I applied last year for this residency, as I had already exhibited at RM and found that there was mutual understandings around art and community – so I wanted to engage with them again. In my application I discussed how my main practice is moving-image and my interest in exploring different approaches to ‘making’. Instead of fitting content to the usual commercially driven narrative structures, my intention was to take objects of nature: for example, a shell or a feather, and analyse these objects structurally and then use that information to influence how story or theme unfold. Luckily the gallery was interested in my application and they are very open to what outcomes forge out of my research and creative practice.

So, now I’m 8 weeks out from the residency. The residency consists of a working space to create work and has wifi, a kitchen, a wet area and quite a lot of tools and resources for art-practice.

Going back – I’ve been making moving-image for a long while now. I’ve worked in television, film, corporate video, social media content, even done a wedding or two, and now I teach it. However, lately my main interest in moving-image has taken a turn towards art film, avant-garde film, experimental film, poetical film and DIY filmmaking. This interest started quite some time ago, however at the time I was still engaging with the commercial industry as well. It’s only in the last couple of years that I have committed to an arts-practice approach to my moving-image making.

Since January I’ve been slowly researching my idea, which looks like reading, viewing, drawing and taking notes. And I’m at the “What the heck am I doing?” stage. I’m asking myself that a lot. And if you are also engaging in a creative process and feel a bit lost in it all – it’s OK. It’s actually part of the process. There’s always this moment, many moments when self doubt kicks in, even confusion or a feeling that the idea and project is sh*t. But this is where you push on, keep moving, even if you don’t know exactly where you are headed.

The latest object I’ve been working with is a pinecone. (So difficult to draw). The main aspect of the pinecone that I’m interested in structurally is ‘layers’. There is so much you can do with layers, I jotted down a few ideas but I think I need to think about layers more, before I go into the next stage. So for this week, I want to look at the idea of layers conceptually, and what it means for storytelling in moving-image. I have some ideas.

I just re-watched Marcel Duchamp’s Anemic Cinema (1926), where he is super inspired by Dadaism and reduced form to shape and movement. I’m really interested in this type of graphic reduction, and my intention for this week is to play with reducing the ideas of ‘layers’ into a diagrammatic image – this will be a 2D drawing, but will allow myself to think-and-play further on the concept of ‘layers’. Actually Duchamp’s Everyday (1929) is very much a layering of plot and character to create form and intensify the theme of modernity at work. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth a watch.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I don’t know where I’m going or what the final outcome will look and sound like. But that’s perfectly OK. I know I’m gaining momentum and I just have to trust myself in this process.

If you are in the middle of a creative process, let me know down below how you are going…..

2021 The Art Process that Never Ends…

Well it’s been another month since I posted last and not another week… life has squeezed me. Now I’m only 2 months out from my residency at RM Gallery – and I need to get the shit done. So yes I will be blogging – and I’m going to start Vlogging EEEKKK- and YES it will be every week. I commit to that. I’m going to do it. Haha.

I’ve decided that the output for this residency will be an experimental film, or maybe avant-garde film is a better definition, as even though I’ll be using and experimenting with technology, the main focus of the research is to create film outside and pushing against main-stream cinema. But definitions aren’t everything when it comes to this type of film, you could call it art-film, poetry-film or underground film: something that is not narrative driven.

If you’ve read the other previous posts in 2021 Art in Process series you will see what I’m being influenced by and the ideas so far. I have done more research – I justI haven’t blogged it.

This is a pattern I created out of linear sentences – which I think is interesting.

About the above image: I wrote a letter to myself about the research and then drew around the words that made up each line – then used colour and texture to create something aesthetic. Because I have been using objects of nature to inspire diagrammatic drawings, I wanted to consider how to create a diagrammatic drawing from what I would usually use to start a film project, “sentences”. I haven’t analysed it yet, but I’ve found it a thoughtful exercise.

What I’m doing this week is gathering examples of avant-garde film that intrigues or inspires me in some way. So next week (YES next week), I will link what I have found, and discuss why these types of film are of interest to this project.

Also I’m working on my first Vlog – nervous as heck. But I’ll do it anyway.

That’s it for me. Chat soon x.

2021: Breathe: Art in Process

I haven’t been blogging for several weeks, but I did do some work on my project. It’s pretty difficult at the moment to make time for everything, but I’m trying to spend a little time a few days a week, which does add up. I’d love to be more methodical in my routines, but, yeah, just never happens.

My approach for the last several weeks was much the same as week 4, but accomplished more using nature to inspire the structure of possible storytelling. I’m trying to see if I can develop a method, so then I could possibly lead a workshop in it – which would be fun and hopefully beneficial to those who attend.

So, the method seems to be working, however I need to repeat it a few more times and develop it into something more substantial so there are more divergent ways someone could use it, but I am beginning to see the potential. Last week I took a piece of grass we have here in New Zealand, which we locally call Harestail Grass, but which is formally called, Lagurus ovatus, and although it is originally from the Mediterranean, it is found in most coastal areas. It’s a pretty grass, soft and used often in dried flower arrangements, so it’s a good example to keep.

Like in week 4, I first described the object – not scientifically, just on what I could see. I didn’t draw it this time, however, I did spend a lot of time looking at it and thinking about its qualities. Then I chose 3 of those qualities to explore.

There is a lot in one stalk of grass! I decided to choose 3 points of inspiration to carry on with, brainstorm and explore. These were:

  • Random
  • Life after death
  • Peeling back layers.

At this point I created 3 structural diagrams. This process is totally intuitive, I’m not a mathematician or statistician, all I’m doing is taking inspiration from nature to inspire the creation of structure and it helps me to draw a diagram of sorts.

So, for ‘random’ a drew dots and just randomly connected them, for ‘life after death’ I drew a timeline backwards, and for ‘peeling back layers’ I started off in a linear fashion but then drew parts returning to a point and going somewhere else from there. From this process I decided to take ‘peeling back layers’ one further step.

You can see this on the right hand side of the image. I have worked narrative into the diagram, tried to see where and when plot points could be returned to. Again just an idea at this stage, another exercise which furthers this particular project. From this point, a story could be formed and placed within the narrative – just thinking – it may be beneficial to create several structures and layer one story over all of them to see how they develop or unfold. I guess this would be called plot – the story is told through plot.

That’s all my notes and developments at this stage.

Catch you next time xx.

2021 Breathe: Art in Process Week 4

Today I spent some time thinking about a ‘shell’. Yep a small sea-shell and how it could inspire me.

It is a process.

To understand what I’m on about you will probably need to glance over week 1 – 3, however, I’m working towards a body of art-work and interactive media for an exhibition later this year. The project is based around being influenced by elements of nature to create structures of narrative.

Surprisingly it did – inspire me, the shell. I first drew it and then just listed elements I could see and feel. Things like: lines of spots, 3 rings, textured, neutral colours… and so forth. It took a bit of contemplation and for a while I was thinking, ‘what the heck am I doing?’ – how is this shell going to inspire the structure of a interactive media installation??

This is the shell, which I used in last weeks blog.

I think one thing to remember is to that the process will happen, you just gotta have a little creative faith.

Once I had listed the elements of the shell, I decided to choose 3 elements that could structurally work for story telling. I chose:

  • Shape has function
  • 3 circles
  • Live edge

Once I had chosen this list I wrote what they could mean for story structure. (They could mean anything – this is just what I came up with).

  • Shape has function: The way the story works has function for the content
  • 3 circles: 3 parts, or 3 points of view
  • Live edge: Nothing static, plot points have a living quality, some paths could go nowhere, or characters fall away (like life)

Then I started crafted the very first stages of a story together. It came a lot quicker at this point than I imagined, but by now I was really open, allowing the process to just unfold without my critical mind getting in the way.

I broke the story up into 3 parts, a diary entry, a text, and the description of the world. Once I had those parts, I just wrote, which you can see on the left – yes, I tend to work backwards…

Absolute draft stages, and I don’t think I will carry on with this story – it was just my first attempt to see if nature could inspire structure. And obviously it can. Still a lot to work through – but that is what process is all about.

This attempt only took 1 – 2 hours, I had to walk away a few times just to let me mind think of something else, then I would come back and contemplate a bit more. It’s how I work. I will try again through this week with another item. Drawing the object first was a good start, it just allowed me to be with the shell for a while, also choosing 3 of the descriptions worked well, it gave boundaries for creating structure. So I will do both those things next time, and try a few others as well.

Catch you next week xx

2021 Breathe: Art in Process: Week 3

This week is a little explanation of what the heck I’m trying to do. My partner and I were going for a walk and I was telling him what the project was about – so I thought I would share some of that here:

Often VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality), and interactivity within storytelling heroes the technology rather than the technology being in the background. This can easily turn into a ‘technological’ experience rather than the forgetfulness of technology – like going to the movies and not thinking about the projector.

So how to switch this around?

In this project I intend to be inspired by nature, as in the forms, structures of how nature works as a starting point to create Vr, AR or interactivity. My hope is to create a more natural placement of the technology within the story development. (I do need to add here that I’m not intending to create VR my concentration will be around interactivity with a small AR element. But the intention is for the technology of all of these to always be in the background).

For example, a person maybe seated at a gallery engaged in a installation, and within the experience the story asks the person to use something, like headphones for part of it, or glasses for part of it, or choices on the screen and it seems very natural, it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary, so the parts of technology being used are not focused on – rather inherently part of the experience.

I mean gaming is very good at this. When I’m gaming (and this is very rare), I don’t often think about the controller – unless I don’t know the game well.

So, my first mission is to grapple with how nature gives or provides structures and frameworks and how to incorporate that within a narrative piece. As I stated in the week 1 of this project I want to start with the patterns and oddities in nature and then move onto systems, as in weather patterns as such. But first off, patterns in leaves, shells and stones.

The first part for me is to collect objects and think about the forms nature has given them. There is no wrong or right way of looking at an object for this. For example the first image of the stone I’m interested in the random elements of it, but with the shells I’m interested in the patterns. What I’m not going to do is analyse why they are formed in the way they are formed – not at this point anyway. Rather, I’m just letting myself be inspired and then see what happens.

I really have NO IDEA where I’m going with this – but I have some sort of faith that I will find a way at connecting nature with interactive and AR technology….

That is the hope.

So, my challenge for this week is to be inspired from these objects with no intended outcome at this stage – just to be inspired and of course to remember to breathe.

Catch you next week xx

2021 Breathe: Week Two

How to set up a art based project?

There is no one way, there are as many ways as there are projects. So, this is not a set of rules or a check list, just the way I’m going to do it for this specific project.

My project consists of research before beginning the creative part, and the project also needs managed. So first I’m going to think about the research; how I collect it and collate research that relates to me, how I make notes and observations of my work. Then there are the outcomes, the creative part, what it is that I’m going to create – what I want the final output to be, and, lastly how do I manage the project, including time, budget…yep all the fun stuff.

1. research and observations. 2. creative work and outcomes. 3. management.

For this research I will keep topics, research collected and thoughts in a spreadsheet… For observations I will keep a journal and use OneNote.

Creative outcomes I am aiming to achieve: Feature Film Script, Interactive Video Art and exhibition, Workshop for public. I will be using Final Draft (scriptwriting software), Adobe and AVID, plus recording devices – but not sure what yet. For the workshop I will be teaching with DSLR cameras, and using Adobe.

Management systems I will be using is Trello.

You probably know about most of the software I’ve mentioned but I’ve linked them anyway, just in case. Also, these are just tools I use and there are many more that do the same task. But it is good to acknowledge what you will be using and try to stick to these, which helps with the consistency of the work. That doesn’t mean you can’t change mid-way through, it’s just helps me to set-up the project in this way.

Seems like a odd image to choose, but setting up a project is like setting up anything even setting a table. The choice over what you use will have some impact on the research and outcome, so think carefully about the systems, ways and even software, or tools. There can always be a time to explore some different tools to see what will suit the project best, but it is a good idea to come to a final decision and stick with that.

Catch you next week xx.

2021 Breathe – Art in Process: Week One

Last year I had to stop blogging. I was getting in my own way and things became unfocused; No one wants to go over 2020 again – so, breathe.

Here we go. It’s time to make new commitments with new intentions. Yay!

This year the blog will primarily focus on the process of new art work. I’ve been accepted into an art-gallery residency in June-July 2021, so, firstly I will blog my process of working and researching towards this residency, then blog the residency experience and finally I will focus on the after-process, findings of the research, and art outcomes (work, exhibitions and screenings).

I have a working title, ‘The Narrative Structuring of Nature: Te Hangahanga korero mo te Taiao’. The focus of the project is to look at creating narrative structures through patterns in nature.

I’m at the first stages of this research, so other than the idea and my first inspiration, I have nothing to show. Which is great! I have to start somewhere, and this year’s blog will hopefully document this entire process.

In my proposal for the residency I suggested that the project would look past the ’cause and effect’, ‘3-act structure’ or ‘hero’s journey’ pathways, which are very commonly adapted for moving-image storytelling, and towards unique narrative structures inspired by patterns in nature. Usually, for research purposes, I would start from, and discuss, why particular frameworks are common, successful, or “tried and true”, and then branch out from there. But I’m not going to do that.

I’m just going to dig straight into the work. Enough has already been said and is being said about these common structures in storytelling – you don’t need more on this from me.

There are a few things I want to do to set up the project, and that is to find several applications or programmes that will fit with the research. These could be anything from excel to photoshop – I want to decide on specific tools for a variety of functions and stick to those for the coming year. There are a number I have used before – but I’d also like to challenge myself and try different things out. I’m also going to write an overview of the outcomes, as there are several, and create a calendar, tasks and milestones for each to keep me on track, as each outcome is large. These planning aspects will make up the next couple of posts, so you can see my set up from the get-go. I hope this helps if you are also embarking on research or a project you need to keep track of and stay motivated with.

Me at RM Gallery, setting up for the ‘At The Horizon’ exhibition.

Must admit, I’m pretty excited for the project and happy to be using this blog as a platform to express my process. I’m going to leave the post here – just an introduction to the year ahead. Love this quote from Carla Melucci Ardito:

Learn how to exhale, the inhale will take care of itself.

Catch you next week xx.

The Artist’s Way: Week 6

Check in: Week 5: Recovering a Sense of Possibility

I completed 7 out of 7 morning pages. However on one morning I wrote 2 pages… My creative writing, or thoughts about projects usually start to arise about 1.5 pages in each morning – before that it is all minor fears and gripes, fretting over all the nothings in life. I get that out of the way and then creativity starts to intrude. (Which is lovely)

I did my artist’s date this week. I took myself out to a second-hand book shop, that also sells amazing coffee, and sat and read. I ended up purchasing an art book on the life and work of painter Henri Matisse. Beautiful book and reading through it taught me a lot about process and dedication. It felt good to finally put some time into myself.

Again, I haven’t experienced synchronicity, but I’m not out and about doing things or having social interaction. It’s ‘lock-down’ and being in the world is a very different experience right now. I’m OK with this as my creative output has increased and I’m loving where these new ideas are going.

Reflection

Week 6 is difficult. Not gonna lie. This entire journey through ‘The Artist’s Way’ has been very up and down for me, but this week those peaks and valleys have hit a new level. With understanding why I’ve been blocked brings a sense of anger, and resentment at myself for not seeing what was right in front of me – ME.

On the other side – finally synchronicity is beginning to flow and some things are happening – all because of this course (will discuss this in next weeks blog), but very excited for it. I’m starting to find a freshness to my ideas, a curiosity and excitement I just haven’t had for SOOOO long. But with this is fear, seeing that is a good start – I know – but I also know there is some hard work to do.

Spent an evening listening to old vinyl and playing with plasticine

Catch you next week xx.

The Artist’s Way: Week 4 & 5

I didn’t write last week – life kind of took over and I just didn’t get to it. However, I’m now well into this course of Julia Cameron’s, so will give you the latest update.

Check in: Week 3: Recovering a sense of Power

  • I wrote 7 out of 7 morning pages. However, 2 morning I only wrote 2 pages as I was sick. The morning pages have become integral to my morning. They have become meaningful and creative. I am so grateful for starting this course and finding how incredible morning pages are.
  • Being unwell affected my week. I had planed out the artist’s date for Saturday, however woke up in excruciating pain and ending up in bed for the day.
  • I did not experience synchronicity this week but I am seeing myself and how my past has influenced how I engage with people and how I engage with creativity. A couple of things happened this week to open my eyes to this – so I guess a type of synchronicity.
  • What I have mainly learned from this week is to get out of bad habits and replace them with ones that serve me and my creativity.

Check in: Week 4: Recovering a Sense of Integrity

  • I wrote 7 out of 7 pages. Some of the mornings toward the end of the week became difficult – starting to feel a little scratchy.
  • I did not do my artist’s date. So haven’t been great at this exercise. Not sure why I’m finding this so challenging but will endeavour to do better.
  • Not feeling synchronicity – except in my creative writing.
  • Overall, I’m being a lot more creative. I didn’t realise how blocked I have become. The non-reading challenge has been so, so, tough and I have realised just how much time I waste on stupid stuff that is filling my brain with clutter. It’s like a dumping ground – no wonder I can’t create.

Reflection

The last couple of weeks have been very up and down. I’m absolutely creating more, but also feel at odds with myself a lot. I think it’s because I’m learning much more about how I operate, and how I create. I’ve put a lot of obstacles in my way and it has been tough to see some of them. But other times, I’m having more fun, I seem a bit lighter with myself, maybe more curious. So all in all, it is very challenging but very worth it.

Catch you next time xx.

The Artist’s Way: Week Three

Check in: Week Two: Recovering a Sense of Identity

  • I completed 7 out of 7 morning pages. On most mornings the writing naturally flowed and on several of those mornings it progressed into creative writing, which has given me hope to continue with this. However, I did not complete the artist’s date this week. I think going back into lock-down because of COVID–19, (second time round for Auckland, New Zealand), pushed me into a type of lethargy and I just couldn’t commit to anything. Which is silly, as there are plenty of things I can do and enjoy and be frivolous with, so the challenge this week is the ARTIST’S DATE!!!
  • I enjoyed the other activities I worked on, but probably didn’t put in quite as many hours as I did in the first week. However, I feel like I’m understanding what I need to create in a more sustainable way.

Reflection

This week has been interesting, I’m enjoying exercises more this week. They seem to focus on childhood and reflecting on childhood memories, especially to do with play and creativity. So this has inspired my Artist’s Date, I’m going to be a bit more youthful in my approach. I tend to get too serious too quickly about process and activities and forget about having fun. I’m not sure why. But realising this is a good step to get a bit more lighter with my creativity.

The other thing I have been doing everyday this week is a very quick portrait sketch of myself. Not in a literal sense, but rather trying to express how I’m feeling through the sketching process. Below are a couple of samples.

Also, I fell in love with this quote, and it’s been a bit of a mantra for me this week.

Anger is the firestorm that signals the death of our old life. Anger is the fuel that propels us into our new one. Anger is a tool, not a master. Anger is meant to be tapped into and drawn upon. Used properly anger is use-full.

Sloth, apathy, and despair are the enemy. Anger is not. Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend. Not a gentle friend. But a very, very loyal friend.

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way p. 62

That’s it for this week. I hope you are all doing well. Catch you next time xx.