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26. January, 2010 / Idun

It is Time to Make a Change

In the first trimester of my MA Ceramics I have been undertaking two separate modules; a practical studio module named Initiating Creative Practise, and the theoretical Research Methodologies for which this document is intended.

This document will have two parts. In one part I shall look at some of the main sources of research and inspiration I have used throughout these modules. In the second part I will explore the possibilities of where I can take my project next, including research and ideas of what I might find interesting to look into further for my current project, and eventually my MA project.

To understand the research for my practical studio project, it is important to know a little more about the project itself. In short it has been a project for exploration of the material ceramics, As the material in itself goes through some great changes before it is finally finished, I decided that exploring changes would be both interesting and fitting. To start with I had a broad theme of changes, seasonal changes, and metamorphosis, but the project slowly turned to become small series of a shape changing into something else through steps of metamorphosis. I have used several different research methods, including interviews, image searches, photography, and looking into the work of other artists, but in this document I will highlight the most important aspects of the research.

A great source of inspiration has been the work of the artists Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long, who have been good helpers in defining my own work. They both use natural materials, and arrange chaos into order and system. Andy Goldsworthy’s work is often very large and site specific, situated in both natural and urban settings. The materials he uses include leaves, flower petals, icicles, various kinds of stone and rock, mud, branches, and twigs. What I find most interesting about his work is the use of natural materials, and the system and repetition of his work.

“I find some of my new works disturbing, just as I find nature as a whole disturbing. The landscape is often perceived as pastoral, pretty, beautiful – something to be enjoyed as a backdrop to your weekend before going back to the nitty-gritty of urban life. But anybody who works the land knows it’s not like that. Nature can be harsh – difficult and brutal, as well as beautiful. You couldn’t walk five minutes from here without coming across something that is dead or decaying.”
(Andy Goldsworthy, 2007)

The natural world is full of changes and contrasts, both wonderfully beautiful, and decaying and deteriorating. It is something I find very fascinating. It is also important to my work. My series are based on changes, and the contrasts between the end points of the series.

Much of Richard Long’s work is based on various walks he has made around the world. His work is his walk recordings, and include deliberately altering the landscape and creating sculptures from stones, branches, and the like found on site. The work havs several aspects that I find interesting. Like Andy Goldsworthy, Long also have system and repetition in his work, arranging natural materials such as stones and twigs into often geometrical shapes. There is also the aspect of time. A good example is the work that made his name; “A Line Made by Walking” (1967), which is exactly what it describes. To me it represents how time and change work together, and links directly to my choice of material; clay. It is a material that requires time, waiting for stages, drying and firing. I believe both Goldsworthy and Long will continue to be sources of inspiration.

Another artist I particularly find interesting is Martin Creed. While not all of his work appeals to me, his different series of objects is a real help and inspiration for me. I can draw lines between some of his work and my own, though the materials he uses are varied compared to my own ceramic work. The work that I have found most interesting has been of a quite late date. Work no. 928 and 925 are pyramids of chairs and tables respectively, the items changing from a large object to smaller objects as the pyramids grows taller. Earlier work I have found interesting, no. 180 and 223, are both a series of metronomes that do not change in shape, but that have a change in pace. The latter two made my mind spin towards questions such as why ceramics has to be something static. Ceramics is after all a material that changes constantly through the making process, so why should it not be changing when it is finished? What will for example animation do to my series? The idea of animation also originates in my initial source of inspiration; seasonal changes. The seasons seamlessly morph into each other in an endless loop. Having images of the series merge into each other creates another dimension to the changes that happens in the work. While the linear series of change in themselves seem very static, the animated film clips give a sense of movement, underlining the changes happening.

This change from static to movement is something I would like to continue with in my next project, and also possibly in my MA project. It would be very interesting to explore the possibilities when ceramics becomes a time based medium. When working from a static piece to the movement in a film clip, there will be new elements to consider. This would include arranging the time and space in which the work is set, the narrative. Time in itself is interesting in the way that it is constantly moving. As Paul Ricoeur (1984) claims “we try to hold on to time, but it is impossible”. We do, however, use photographs as a medium for trying to capture time, and set these into sequence to capture movement through time. This is what I am doing to my series of change, setting each moment into a sequence and thus creating a movement. This would be an example of classic narrative. Classic narrative, or realism, has its emphasis on the present. It moves through time towards the future. It drives forward sequentially and chronologically, and it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. But what happens if the narrative revolves around one particular moment in time? This is something that is unique to the comic.

According to Scott McCloud (1993), comics are unique in a way that they are both sequential and has a all-at-onceness in them. They are composed of static images, all being frozen moments in time where something has happened, is happening, and where something is also about to happen. What could be interesting to do is to have one of my objects in a frozen moment, and add movement to it by time slice. Time slice is probably best known through “bullet time” in the film “The Matrix” from 1999, with cameras swiftly moving around the action in a frozen moment in time. Time Slice films Ltd have also several interesting film clips showing time slice. In my sequential series, time is in my opinion the most important, as the change happens over time. However, with a time slice, the space would play a greater role in the narrative. It is the viewpoint that changes, and it changes by moving around the object through space. I believe this would be interesting to explore alongside the sequential and chronological film clips in my studio practise.

Another interesting concept is spatial montage. Spatial montage basically means multi-frame application, several images or events going on at once on a screen. The idea of spatial montage seemed confusing to me at first. How am I, or anyone else, supposed to process all these events? I have come to realise that we are surrounded by spatial montage on a daily basis. Every day there are multiple events going on around us, some have our full attention, some we notice subconsciously, and others we hardly notice at all. Even the world of television has picked up on this idea. A good example is the series called 24. While most series have multiple narratives going on at once, they only show one at a time. 24, however, gives us an update on all the different narratives in a spatial montage. I find this very interesting, and I think I will continue researching spatial montage, and how it can be applied to my own work.

I would like to conclude with that everything I have been doing the last few months has been about changes. My studio project is based on changes, and I am using a material that changes. My research is about changes, and my future work will be about changes. Also there has been changes within myself. I know that I am better equipped to take on new research challenges, and I believe that Research Methodologies has given me a more reflected view of my own work .

Bibliography and references

Ricoeur, Paul, 1984, Time and Narrative, The University of Chicago

McCloud, Scott, 1993, Understanding Comics, Tundra Publishing

Manovich, Lev, 2001, The Language of New Media, Cambridge: MIT Press

Sooke, Alastair, 2007. He’s got the whole World in his Hands. The Daily Telegraph, 24. March. Available at: www.telegraph.co.uk, He’s got the whole World in his Hands. [Accessed December 2009]

Gayford, Martin, 2006. In the studio: Richard Long. The Daily Telegraph, 4. April. Available at www.telegraph.co.uk, In the studio, Richard Long. [Accessed December 2009]

Martin Creed, The official and unofficial Martin Creed website.
Available at: www.martincreed.com [Accessed November 2009]

Wikipedia, Andy Goldsworthy. (Updated 27. December 2009)
Available at: www.wikipedia.org, Andy Goldsworthy [Accessed November 2009]

Wikipedia, Richard Long. (Updated 15. December 2009)
Available at: www.wikipedia.org, Richard Long [Accessed November 2009]

Wikipedia, The Matrix. (Updated 15.January 2010)
Available at: www.wikipedia.org, The Matrix [Accessed December 2009]

Time Slice Films, Time Slice Films – enhancing the story.
Available at: www.timeslicefilms.com [Accessed December 2009]

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