Hey all 🙂
I’m just going to start with a quick overview of what I’d like to try and cover in the short time that we have :
- I’ll take you through 3 key themes of my research / practice
- I’ll open up some questions that I have been asking myself, I don’t particularly have any definitive answers for them yet! – As such I would really value your considerations, so please engage as much as you can.
- I’ll show you works by other artists that are my current influences.
- I’ll show you some of my work and attempt to offer some context as to why I’m doing what I’m doing.
If you have any questions please ask! Please add comments and thoughts about my postings whenever you want.
Just as a foreword, my research paper was centred on the concept of ‘alter-ego’ in art. However – I am going to try NOT to use that term here – as I have decided it is inappropriate when describing ALAN now. (If you don’t know who ALAN is then.. ALAN is me. Kinda. But not really. But ALAN is. Maybe we’re all ALAN? Maybe ALAN is just a dream…)
Key Theme No.1
ART = LIFE (this was the short title of my paper)
To try and unpack this a bit – here is a quote from Letter’s to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke – I used this as the opening for my written research.
Do not now strive to uncover answers: they cannot be given you because you have not been able to live them.. And what matters is, to live everything. Live the questions for now. Perhaps then, you will gradually, without noticing it, live your way into the answer, one distant day in the future.
In order to answer the question as to what one should be an author or maker or architect of, as so beautifully articulated by Rilke, it seems imperative that one must live everything. Based on this concept, if one ever wanted to attempt to answer the ever elusive question – ‘what is art?’ we must be able to consider that becoming art – that is to create oneself anew for the purpose, is not as absurd or abstract an inclination as one might first have thought.
Another view point on this theme comes from E.E Cummings, taken from his aptly titled short ‘The Agony of the Artist (with a Capital A)’
Look into yourself, reader; for you must find Art there, if at all. . . . Art is not something which may or may not be acquired, it is something which you are not or which you are. . . . if you are this something — then, gentle reader, no amount of discrimination and misapprehension can possibly prevent you from becoming an Artist. . . . “to become an Artist” means nothing: whereas to become alive, or one’s self, means everything.
What are your thoughts are on this theory? – Can one ‘be’ art?
What would we call work that isn’t tangible or obvious?
Further thinking – Can anyone be an artist?
My view is .. I hope so. Because, I guess I have gathered that being an artist (possibly with just a lowercase a) is all that I am. And I am nobody special. I’m just another anyone.
Key Theme No.2
REALITY IS AN ILLUSION /
DUALITY (FANTASY & REALITY – CAN THEY BOTH EXIST AT THE SAME TIME?)
As philosophised by Alan Watts
Reality is ‘one-without-a-second.’ In the ordinary way the idea of one immediately suggests the idea of many.
There is no reality without suggesting that there exists fantasy (or, maybe, many realities). In that sense, fantasy, or an invention, or a creation – can become a reality.
The artist I focused on in my paper was the ‘obscure’ avant-garde Claude Cahun (born Lucy Schwob). She has a great backstory (please see notes at the end of my paper for more info), and was a fitting candidate for the start of a discourse pertaining to what it might mean to live art.
Although the above gallery shows some of her self portraits – they were never meant for public consumption, and only started to get exhibited after her death.
One of the many things that stands out about her, and has helped me with coming to terms with my practice is – She was not necessarily reliant on just visual aesthetics to produce work or convey character. She was primarily a writer, so language was one of her artistic mediums.
I am currently working a lot with sound, or music. At the moment I am trying to work out which bit is the ‘art work’. Is it the finished musical piece? Is it the act of playing it in the first place? Am I just using ALAN as an excuse to play music? Is that ok?
If something is hidden does that mean that it can’t be seen?
For me – sound and visuals are intrinsically linked. Music is the language I use to express my emotions. Images add an accent.
I recorded this piece very recently as a test for a song to play as ALAN as part of the band LIOLA – a duo that would not exist if it weren’t for ALAN.
ALAN has also recently become a member of another band ANATOMY – a girl band in a world of their own.
Here is a REALLY ROUGH rush test of some footage ALAN captured layered over a recording taken from one of ANATOMY’s first rehearsals..
This type of video is meant to be projected onto live performance.
Another aspect of Cahun that I can draw similarities from, with my own work, is that Cahun chose to live as Cahun, in body and as a state of mind, not just on film or as an image. This reveals the importance of the conscious notion that art could be an artists self.
What would you like to be?
A – More and better. My own perfection.
What would you like to do?
A – The impossible.
I am in the final stages of organising an event built around ALAN playing ‘live’. It is an experiment with the hopes to finalise the performance aspect of my work in the final show. I have created a group/brand – WHIRRR – touted as an artist/musician collective based in my hometown. WHIRRR (of which the management is just me) is putting on an ‘Audio-Visual Exhibition’ in an art gallery in Leicester at the end of February, ALAN is on the bill.
How and when does something (a concept, or a fantasy) become real? – Or, how does one determine what’s real?
Is your practice an extension of yourself?
Does your work ever take on a ‘life’ of it’s own?
Does your work affect you? / Does your life affect your work?
Key Theme No.3
IDENTITY – WHAT MAKES A PERSON?
I guess I could talk about anything here – psychology, political and social climates, influences, genetics. The list is seemingly endless, because, of course, we are complex beings.
In terms of my practice – a quote taken from Andre Gide’s ‘Rules of Conduct’ has had the most impact.
Dare to be yourself.
At first glance this is an innocuous throw-away phrase, it could be construed as self-help nonsense, something that might show up on a motivational poster with a picture of a lion roaring or something.
To be able to ‘dare to be yourself’ means that you should know who your self actually is.
To go back to the first point – that we must live the questions we ask – if I were to ask ‘who am I?’ I would only find out by living as me. But I don’t know which ‘I’ I am. Who is the ‘me’ I am supposed to be?! Henceforth ALAN was created so I could live through ‘him’, and in doing so see what or who ‘I’ am, in the context of artistic practice.
AND NOW FOR A KEYWORD THAT I DIDN’T USE IN MY PAPER BUT SHOULD HAVE
‘To invent . . . is to choose’ (Poincare, 2012, p. 414).
‘Invention’ has lead me to look at these areas during research
- What are the themes that surround the invention of an other self
- Consider the issues of self and identity as a motive for artistic invention
- How does one attain personal realisation through the vehicle of imagined personas and invented identities?
Picasso once stated –
Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.
Is this true?
and de Botton notes
Art can offer a grand and serious vantage point from which to survey the travails of our condition. . . . Art can put us in touch with concentrated doses of our missing dispositions.
Another artist that inspires me is ANOHNI
She is daring to be.
I need another place
Will there be peace?
I need another world
This one’s nearly gone
Still have too many dreams
Never seen the light
I need another world
A place where I can go
SOME CONTEXT – Please note this is personal stuff. Cos all my work is about me.
I am alive
When I started this MA the initial starting point to attempt to resolve this question was my creation of another character by whom I could do things that I wouldn’t normally be able to do – ALAN.
ALAN is now infamous, we are existing somewhat symbiotically – people ask ‘ How’s ALAN?’ when they see me – ‘Is ALAN here?’
This is a refreshing counter to the usual questions that I got when I was ‘just Leonie’ – ‘How are you?’
-I’m fine, yeh I’m ok thanks.’
A generic answer that meant nothing. Cos, most of the time I’m not actually fine, and nothing is ok. Also, I don’t know who the ‘you’ is that they are asking about. I don’t know who I am.
To give a bit of context – growing up I was the only ‘mixed race’ person at school, to this very day new people that I meet ask ‘What are you?’ (in reference to my visible features?). I don’t ever get angry at this question, it mostly amuses me..
I’m – er.. human?’ I enjoy telling people about my cultural background, I’m half this quarter that..
Always ending with the description
I laugh. Perhaps it makes others uncomfortable. I don’t intend this side effect.
I’ve been called a P***, a N*****, berated for living in a ‘white’ area, told to ‘go back to where you come from’ less than a mile from where I was born. I never really gave it much thought up til now, but I guess it has all had a profound effect on the way I view myself.
And that is why my practice is so personal. It is a commentary on the self, on me, on the connections that happen within my very being, on the relationships that I experience with my surroundings. Inward. Selfish. I don’t expect anyone to get it. But I need it, and it’s only very recently, that I have discovered how much.
I’m going to let you in on a secret..
I started this MA because.. I wanted to impress a boy.
He likes digital things and art and poetry,
he’s into music and the internet.
he likes sci-fi and other worlds.
I wanted to show him that I could do things, that I was worth something.
Could ALAN be the key to his heart?
So yeh, embarrassing and awful truth – I didn’t start this for myself.
I started it for him.
Now I’m doing it for me.
As part of the event I am putting together, I am creating a ‘stage’ / back-drop out of large mirrors.
One of my earliest childhood memories is playing with 3 hinged mirrors on a dressing table – I was entranced by the infinity effect.
I’ve been researching artists who use mirrors in their work – my hope is at some point to have an infinity mirror chamber that utilises sound as well as visuals.
Thilo Frank | The Phoenix is closer than it appears, 2011 at KUNSTEN, Museum of Modern Art Aalborg, DK
I am also going to use video in my work / performance – mostly via projection.
The ‘reality’ is to be shown in the performance but the reflected imagery and the multi-layered audio and visual experience to use create a juxtaposition – The projections create a sense of other-worldliness, of fantasy. Of unknowing.
I am in LOVE with this work by Guy Sherwin
For the event I have had to figure out how to build 6ft tall , frameless, freestanding mirrors – with very little budget and no previous skill of making things in 3D! It’s a challenge.
I hope to create a multi-layered 3-dimensional space in which video will be projected as the artist performs in the space.
I am also looking at using a camera as a ‘mirror’ – whereby a live image is both shown and made at the same time.
Other explorations – why is it so difficult for me to take photos? Is it because they are too real?
This is lifted from a blog post I did a coupla months ago :
I started taking photos again. As me. As ALAN. Thoughtlessly. Not with my camera, with my crappy phone, because I stopped carrying my camera around with me, because I fell out of love with photography – or really, it fell out of love with me, and it hurt too much to have that weight hanging round my neck.
I’ve been thinking about what connects us (humans, things, beings), is there a constant that all who exist have in common… I found a possible answer by accident.
If ALAN was here, would he see what I see?
If I was here, would I see what you see?
If you were here, would you look?
Are we united by this atmosphere? By the sky, by the clouds, by the sun?
We wouldn’t exist without them.
That trinity above us.
I had a 5 year gap in my life where I didn’t play music at all (I only started again because of ALAN), and now the same has happened with my use of still image. GREAT TIMING for a Fine Art MA, brain.
I’m trying again though, or, ALAN is pushing me.
The future is a past
This happened in real life
I have moved away from the outset of my proposal – that is to have a ‘finished’ body or piece of work.
Nothing will ever be finished!
If Art = Life then it really is forever ongoing. At least until death.