Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Methodology and Discovery

So I have a show opening this Friday the 25th of November at Kings ARI. The same place I had a show last year around July. This time it is a Group show I was asked to participate in. The theme of the show is disappearance, I guess the metaphysical nature of my work suits this theme.

After much anguish, I worked out what the work would be. I've cycled through so many ideas, developing them and not being happy with the results.

The first time it dawned on me just how stuck I was feeling for this show was back in August, sitting by a lagoon in Venice, just after seeing the makeshift Haitian Pavilion and spending the day at the Giardini. I was exhausted and figured I would be sitting for long enough to write and think. Inspired by the days Arting, and thinking about what the role of the Artist is, I focused in on the Idea of an Artist being a Psychopomp, a Facilitator. Not a particularly new thought for me but one that I feel warrants more investigation. This quickly became a process of thinking about ceremony and ritual, a performance piece. This would have been a floor drawing including sound. I got back to my hostel later that night and emailed my idea to the person organising the show letting them know that I was planning on using the floor and that it may get on others Artists work if it is on the ground.

Anyway, back in Australia with time to reflect on the trip and being back in my studio, with cables choking up space, my focus began to shift. For starters I realised that I couldn't work out how to reconcile the different Elements. I went back to thinking about the theme, and my situation. Being back in Australia wasn't really a huge shock. The thing that got my goat was going back to the same situation, same crap Job, no perceived new opportunities etc etc. It felt like the past was the only positive thing I could grasp. So I started working with old works and the materials around me. The more I worked on this the less it seemed to be going anywhere. I was going to be an environment made from cables that were tangled and consuming a fragment of previous work and me in it performing.

The same issue came up as before, I couldn't see how to reconcile the elements. At some point in this second phase of production, a conversation shed some light on this. A friend was explaining my practice to someone I had just met. They described it by saying that I am a Sound Artist that creates Installations as a platform for Sound Performance. In a matter of seconds they had identified what had been preventing me from resolving the works.

This rather than making it a simple job to of getting on with it, threw a spanner in the works. I decided that I would keep working through this and get resolution through working harder on the piece. Getting more materials (Thanks for the mountain of cables!) trying more arrangements, take photos of myself in the work, conceptually sew the pieces together into a Frankenstein made from the corpses of Dead and Failed attempts. The resulting work may be resurrected at some point, but with the deadline getting close it had to accept that this was not working.

With the distraction of a new computer I went into denial and was going through the process of copying my copious unorganised data over to the new machine. I uncovered the Audio Bootleging files I have been collecting over the last year or so. These recordings have been collected from various Art Institutes around the world. Being reminded of this positive work has or had finally struck the right chord. It brought up a whole series of other technical issues and presentation problems to solve but focusing in on one work rather than trying to bring everything together has been more productive for the time being.

I no longer plan on performing at this show or ritualising it in such a literal way (although the opening evening is a ritualistic performance in its own right). It is a Sound Sculpture, existing in space, across time, and I feel generates the kind of contemplatitive environment that I find exciting.

You may be wondering why I wrote this and why bother reading it, but what I am trying to do is explore my methodologies in practice. There are so many ways of arriving at a destination it's easy to ignore the work that has gone into the making of a work. So this may come across as overly personal and simplistic in language, but what is intended is to give some insight.

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