Part 3: Preliminary planning of the practical work

7 September 2017. I am supposed to carry over especially the insights gained in working with different materials in the first two parts of the course and continue using those materials that worked best for me. This may be a bit tricky with monotype portraits, as the study guide advises us to use oil paint for easier manipulation. My focus, however, is on inks and acrylics plus some mixed media, as well as shadows and legacies as self-chosen course subject. I will thus need to approach the part to come with special care.

After a few days of confusion over Part 2 feedback I just had an idea for tackling the subject of monotype portraits in Part 3 of UPM. We will be spending a year in New Zealand starting July 2018. I have always been interested in languages, and just reminded myself again that I want to try and get acquainted with the basics of the Maori language. I have no spare time to sit down and learn, but for me casual listening and skim-reading work really well. As soon as this idea had crossed my mind, there was an immediate connection to an exhibition on the traditions of body piercing, tattooing and body painting I had curated several years back. The intricate patterns typical of traditional tattoos are not just body decorations, but serve as a sacred symbolic language transporting information on “rank, social status, power and prestige” (Zealand Tattoo, 2017). This language was, and sometimes still is, passed down from generation to generation and is an important part of a cultural legacy. To me the bearer of a facial tattoo shows not only their face, but on their face, in shadow-like fashion, the sum of their people’s common heritage. In a similar way I could, in what looks like a convincing idea, investigate the properties of a special form of art and adapt it to my own idea of expressing the present actions of shadows from the past. To me this thought is intriguing enough to serve as the basis of my investigations and experiments in Part 3.

Although I will let much of the development happen as I go along, I will want to include the following aspects into my planning:

  • be highly selective with materials and methods, incorporate those working best from Parts 1 and 2 and carefully expand on them, only include new ones if the former cannot be adapted in the expected way
  • work extensively with 1 minute ink portrait sketches first, as my preliminary tests for exercise 3.1 showed a lack of proficiency, 20 sketches will very likely not be enough to get thoroughly acquainted with the characteristics of my own face
  • take the image/part of the image working best for me from my umbrella and transform it into patterns suitable for tattooing, then make several good monoprints of my “tattooed” face following exercise instructions in the study guide
  • extend to 3D by e.g. making a rough mask of my own face with paper mâché/plaster/thin clay to project my tattoo monotypes on and, to continue working with multiples, tell a very short animated story by projecting a number of slightly changed images (inside out zeotrope effect) in Assignment 3

The above will hopefully allow me to fulfill the requirements of continuous development.

Separate mind map to follow!

References

Zealand Tattoo (2017) Maori Tattoo: The Definitive Guide to Ta Moko
[online]. Zealand Tattoo, Christchurch. Available from: http://www.zealandtattoo.co.nz/tattoo-styles/maori-tattoos/ [Accessed 7 September 2017]

Artist research: Allen McCollum

6 September 2017. My tutor suggested I have a look at a set within Allen McCollum’s (*1944, USA) famous surrogate paintings, basically empty frames painted in vivid colours and lined up in rows along a wall (McCollum, n.d.). Despite the connection my tutor tied (“where absence and shadow can speak volumes”), I was not attracted. The frames look rough, their colours haphazard. Looking at them again during a quiet minute they reminded me distantly of the multitude of doors leading to the childrens’ bedrooms in the great film “Monster Inc.”. In contrast to McCollum’s frames I find a real purpose to the doors besides serving as symbols for individual lives. Of course I can fill the absences in McCollum’s frames with whatever (shadows) I like, but this I can do with everything that is empty around me, so I do not really need the frames.
McCollum not only works with sets of blank frames, but also with multiples (similar but not the same) of drawings, sculptures or even collections of natural objects such as fulgurite tubes (glass lined hollow tubes formed where lightning strikes sand), which I was not happy to see either. I am having difficulties again with the lining up of multiples of objects into grids and rows, no matter how sophisticated the connection with some important human issue such as a discussion of the mass-produced versus individualized, the issue of a painting being an object representing itself and such like, in the late 20th century (ARTCenterMFA, 2015). At the risk of outing myself, again, as a philistine, the addressed issues feel vastly insubstantial to me in the face of the enormousness of the universe and the mystery of life. The produced objects are sometimes attractive, more often nice to look at, but this is where my interest ends somehow. I believe that most repetitive patterns look attractive to the human mind because they are aesthetically pleasing, but this does not automatically make them qualify as works of art. Is this the same sort of decoration my tutor saw in the first stages of my Assignment 2 umbrella project (Lacher-Bryk, 2017)? I am probably not the best person to judge here, because to me the umbrella is a multidimensional analysis of a highly personal legacy. However, I will be taking my own experience with McCollum’s work as a warning to myself, so that I do not wander, starry-eyed, into the same trap.

References

ARTCenterMFA (2015) Allan McCollum, Graduate Seminar 2/3/2015 [online]. Department of Graduate Art at Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles. Available from: https://vimeo.com/118767506 [Accessed 6 September 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017) Assignment 2: “An Umbrella Project” [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA blog: Understanding Painting Media, 17 August. Available from: https://andreabrykocapainting1upm.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/assignment-2-an-umbrella-project/ [Accessed 6 September 2017]

McCollum, A. (n.d.) Allan McCollum [online]. Allan McCollum, New York. Available from: http://allanmccollum.net/allanmcnyc/ [Accessed 6 September 2017]