I am interested in how I can show my ideas in the most stripped down way possible. The pile of tags I had leftover piqued my interest in the remnants of other works. These can be a very effective way of breaking down a work into only the elements it needs to be: taking away all the unnecessary parts. Sometimes these remnants represent ideas in a way that is less explicit to the audience which, therefore, draws them in and encourages questions to be asked. There is a sense of something greater in a way that is difficult to achieve when trying to create a minimal piece straight of the bat.
Going forward, I am somewhat conflicted. Although I knew going into the exhibition that it was not a conclusion of my work, but a midpoint, I still feel that it was too literal a representation of what I was looking at. The group crit and my conversations with my peers were useful in building an understanding of how my work would be received by a viewer. Conversations surrounding my work quickly turned to the objects and the tubes. Therefore, the work became about these things: once a piece of work is in the world, artist’s intention is somewhat meaningless – the viewers understanding of the piece becomes the meaning of the piece.
I want to start thinking more about how my concepts manifest themselves as physical pieces. Do they need to become physical pieces at all? Is this literal visual depiction necessary? This becomes a bit of a contradiction in my mind: one part of me thinks I need to focus on the bringing together of concept and physical work, whereas the other part wants to explore the concept and the physical as two very separate distinct things.
One way I want to push my concept forward is by bringing in a more direct human element, inspired by Valerie Tevere, whose work relies on relationships with the viewer. When working with found objects / the city, there will always be a social aspect, so it makes sense to acknowledge this to refine my ideas.
I am also very interested in Sol Le Witt and his ideas about ‘systems art’ and how I can use this to develop my practical work. I want to explore how much I can strip down my practical work while still representing my ideas. I want to spend more time in the studio and use this to develop my concepts through practical work.
I had decided to put up the map on the wall for the exhibition, however, when in the space I realised there was not as much wall space as expected and the majority of people in the group had wall-based work. This meant that I would have had to hugely reduce the size of my piece which wouldn’t have nearly as much impact. It also made sense for me to change my plan as I had other options whereas people presenting, for example, paintings, couldn’t change their plan as easily. Exhibiting my work as a floor-based piece would also allow me to expand my work greatly as there was a lot of unused floor-space.
Firstly, I had to fix the problems I had with my first attempt at the floor piece.
I chose to use blue tape for my exhibition piece. I did like the subtlety of masking tape structure in contrast with the boldness of the objects, however, I thought it would get kind of swallowed up when surrounded by all the other exhibition pieces. I thought the blue would be a subtle link to the tube map that the viewer would perhaps subconsciously pick up on.
I decided to keep going with the morphing of the tube map, rather than bringing in another, irrelevant system (eg alphabet). Here, I grouped the objects based on the line on which they were found, then made connections between mutual lines. For example there is a group of objects found on just the Victoria line, a group of objects from both the Victoria and London Overground lines, and a group found on just the London Overground.
I think this could be a very effective arrangement as it vaguely references the actual tube map in its layout, but is in fact completely made up. However, I would need to more space and would need to think carefully about where each pile goes and how exactly everything is connected; all Victoria lines to all Victoria lines or just all connected in a loop? Here, I began doing the former and it is already too cluttered.
The labels are for my benefit only, they would be taken off if I were to finalise this as a piece. It would be difficult to figure out what this map means.
The grid from my previous experiment reminded me of the co-ordinates grid on a tube map. For this piece I arranged the objects based on where on the map the were found – not worrying about if they overlapped other objects, which created this cluttered, incomprehensible arrangement. I think this piece is much more effective than the last.
Formally it is high impact due to the tension created by the area of high concentration vs the few objects to the top left and the objects on the floor. I also like the contrast between the pale, barely visible tape and the bold colours and shapes of the objects.
These factors are also interesting conceptually. The grid straight away creates a feeling that there is an order of some kind, but the sporadic arrangement of objects contradicts this. The viewer would never be able to figure out any kind of order, however, the co-ordinates grid very subtly alludes to it. The spreading of the objects from where they are supposed to be begins to warp the structure, making it into something else. Could I play with this?
Remnants from removing the labels. How can I present the complex systems in their simplest form? This feels almost like a lucky dip. I am completely randomising the previous, very non-random, system. Maybe something as simple as a little pile of tags has as much power as a large, carefully thought through installation. If my key focus is very non-material then is there any reason to create these very material exhibition pieces?
Making the items into a wall-based arrangement immediately begins to distort the original system. When on the floor, a collection of obviously found objects makes almost too much sense – they are where they belong, which prevents the viewer to ask questions or attempt to find meanings/patterns in the same way. Once on the wall there is a sense of deliberateness: each object has been carefully placed in these specific places. Why?
A grid has instant connotations of order. Here, I have organised the objects alphabetically by the station they were found. Alphabet is a very obvious way to order, however, without knowing that he objects have a link to stations it would be difficult for the viewer to figure out any pattern. This is contradicted by the labels which straight away give it away. The fact that the objects burst out of their boxes creates a tension between order and disorder which relates well to my ideas about creating systems where there are none. Forcing things to fit into an invented structure.
I removed the labels as I think they take away more than they add: all mystery and subtlety is contradicted by telling the audience exactly what they are seeing. Visually, the piece is much cleaner and more impactful without the tags.
Is this “cleanness” to much? Is the idea of neatly ordering grubby, found objects a bit done? Or does the fact that they don’t fit in their neat boxes enough to suggest something more than just an exploration of order?
Seeing as these were just quick experiments, I didn’t want to waste time figuring out how to attach these final things to the wall. I kind of like the fact that they are separate as it, again, adds to the question of why I have made the choices I have made. As the artist I could come up with a complex reason as to why they are separate, when in reality it was purely practical. I am creating my own logic that the viewer has no choice but to go along with.
I have realised that with just a week left until the deadline, there will not be enough time to go to all the remaining stations (roughly half left). It would be a better use of my time to start playing with the objects I have in order to figure out what I actually want to present in the exhibition. Since the tube map/ objects are not actually the focus of this body of work (they are just how the focus has manifested itself), I don’t think it is massively important to have an object from everywhere – I have already created a fairly vast network. Working in the studio will also help me push my ideas and see where I want to go with my work.
I plan to spend a week in the studio arranging, photographing and rearranging the objects.
There is a complete lack of structure here which makes the objects look simply like a collection of stuff. It could be interesting to explore this idea of letting the objects be objects – rather than ‘artworks’ or ‘representations’ – however, they are currently in an ‘in between’ of organised and disorganised.
Thinking of museum tags and my earlier thoughts about fiction vs truth vs lies in terms of artworks, I tagged each object. I thought this would bring about a kind of order and exaggerate the viewers feeling that they should be able to find a pattern/order in the work. However, I think they make the link to tubes too obvious – I don’t want the work to become about tubes which this (obviously) forces it to be. The work is about how the artist can create systems generally, not about one system specifically. The colour and shape of the tags also don’t work in my opinion. They draw to much attention, bringing the focus to the location rather than the object. Perhaps would work better as a little black and white plaque next to the object, as opposed to attached to the object. Also need to consider the words on the plaque.
Books are an effective way of displaying time based works and works that exist in the world rather than in a gallery setting (e.g sculpture, painting, installation that appears the same once presented as it does in the place it was created).
I also tried to make a book of the photos of my objects in the places they were found, as a sort of record before I took them. However it became very time consuming and I realised that this element wasn’t really a representation of the work I was doing, it was more of a bi-product, so was probably not worth spending the time on.