11
Aug
09

been to long…..

(I wrote this a month ago when I was in NYC on 1 July)

It often starts with the tossing and the turning, searching for the cool spot on the pillow.  Most people find it and fall back asleep. Me, I never find the cool spot.

I am sitting here, looking out over New York City as the sun rises and lazily tries to break through the low-hanging haze that seems to be a permanent fixture on the skyline. When I leave my cocoon of air conditioning and sound-proofed windows, not only will I be immersed in the city but also in the haze and the humidity.

So, why start like this, why bring us into it? you ask. It’s simple: it’s about work and ways of being and thinking. I know this is a shared blog and in general the policy is that I don’t really write on my own work things in the specific, but I feel that this is a worthwhile endeavour, so here we go:

WHAT DRIVES YOU TO MAKE THE WORK?

I am asking this, because this morning I woke up wrecked with anxiety, an anxiety that makes me want to hide from everything: my work, the PhD, and life in general. It’s not as if it’s too much, or as if there’s something that I can’t manage, but it’s like the haze outside my window: it envelopes you like a blanket, and right now it feels too heavy for me to move myself.

As I am about to embark on another installation I think about this state of mind and who I am, and which aspects of it are present within my work. It’s not like I have come to some sort of light-bulb-like conclusion: ‘Oh anxiety, that’s what it should be about’. It simply seeps in.

So what and why and how is this in any way relevant to this blog and the working relationship I have with G? The reason is that it’s about the base for everything I do: in some way every work I have made has in some aspect tried to address this issue. I suppose it comes down to the question of ‘what kind of experience am I trying to create?’

It’s such a vital and important question, and in a way I haven’t answered it or even asked it directly. My father came over to Glasgow after the second installation in my PhD research was completed, and we did a brain-storming session, I have never worked with my father like that before on a project.  For the most part my parents don’t participate in that way. But working with someone outside of my contextual framework was amazing. I had to have answers and I had to know, as he was asking questions out of curiosity, not malice. It made me realise how little I did know about what it is that I want. To some degree working within the structure of practice-led research creates some kind of tunnel vision. I was going full steam ahead on the work, with in some way letting my instinct and gut feeling take over when it came to the nature of the experience. But I never directly addressed what that experience was to be or what I wanted it to be. A bit cart before the horse. Now I have the chance to rectify that process, can I change that with the third installation?

So back to the nature of experience: what is it that I want? The best way of doing this is to look at work that I have seen lately, and to give you a peak at the thinking inside my head.

When G and I were in Basel there weren’t any immersive installations per se, but there was a lot of work that was immersive in some way. Lots of glossy black plexi, in which you’re reflected, but not forever like in a mirror, but in a rather flat 2D way. I have never enjoyed seeing myself in artwork, because it break the fantasy: I am real but the artwork is producing this thing beyond myself and then bam, there I am. In some way that inclusion of the self is vitally important.  It’s jarring in the sense that for the most part we have an idea of how we look, but sometimes our reflection is not the same as the internal image we have created of ourselves. That’s where the black plexi and the mirrors come in.

I had been deliberating for months, or rather the past year, that Room 3 would involve a pool. I had seen it done in Basel several years ago, and besides the sheer coolness of it, being in a pool was something so ineffable within the context of it being a work of art. The work came alive when it was engaged with by the viewers, and it contained an ultimate sense of immersion.  But as I have neither the funds nor the physical space to create the work that I want to create, the questions is how do you substitute that and what do you do to keep moving?

In glimpsing all of this black Perspex in Basel and seeing some mirrored pieces, it became apparent that I wouldn’t need water to generate the effect that I am after. I can create an environment about immersion without having people actually physically immersive people within the work.

Within the last two installations, the work has had a high aesthetic sensibility while I am also cultivating and actively generating a sense of dread or doom. There is something about the work that makes people uncomfortable. I like that, and I want that as that is my way of allowing people in, to give them a sense of certain things that I feel at particular moments, if only for a short time. I am not just immersing people into this aesthetic visual world, but I am using the music that I create to integrate the visual and the aural, to make something that is more than the sum of its parts.

So back to what it is that I want, what kind of experience I am after. What is the purpose of Room 3? Simply put, I want Room 3 to be the integrated accumulation of all that I have been working towards. This is my chance to really show not only my aesthetic sensibility, but to also highlight what that sense of aesthetics means to the work as a whole. I want the experience to incorporate aspects of calm but ultimately to have people leave feeling unsettled. I want the hair on the back of your neck to stand up and for you to feel a mental itch. If the work were to be realised right now, I would say that the purpose of the work is to drown you in my anxieties and to allow someone else to feel them, to truly know the level and depth of someone else’s fears. And I want it to look good.
For the moment I feel pretty I have said everything there is to say. The sun has broken through the haze, so it’s time for me to frolic.

aps

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