Well it’s that time with the big end of degree show looming its ugly, but very exciting, head. I believe it is costumery for 4th years to begin to freak out at this point, or at least start worrying that everything they’ve done is not good enough, or that they’ll never get everything finished in time, or that they’ll have to compromise their work too much to accommodate their fellow students, etcetera etcetera. So why is it I do not feel worried? Even though I’m just back from holiday where I done no practical work, though my workbook is filling up nicely, and still have a fair amount to do?
I think reasons for my calm state are that I am one of the lucky 4th years who has a clear idea of where they are, what they are doing, and what they need to do to get there. I don’t want to seem over confident because I am considering the worries listed in the previous paragraph and understand that my work may have to go through some drastic changes due to the issue of space, but I think that if I started to freak out now I wouldn’t use my time nearly as efficiently as I should be at this point. I still have quite a bit to do, but, I used my time away to look at where I was from an outsiders point of view and began to grasp the extent of what lay in front of me, both practically and conceptually. And for the first time in my life I saw the advantages of lists. Lists allow you to see the volume of what you have left to do, they convert the magnitude of tasks into easily categorized chunks which you can then set about organising into the most practical plan of action. Praise be to the list!
The only issue I find myself dealing with is that I keep having more and more ideas for works that I want to do for the degree show. But can I really achieve all of them? I guess its a matter of prioritising the ones that are both achievable and fit in with the work I have already been creating. It would be nonsensical of me to start giving up my time to works that are so fresh and out of context to the works I am currently trying to ‘resolve’, as I have been trained to call it. But I do feel it would be a waste not to at least try them out. I don’t want to give up on an idea which could grow into something striking. But I know for a fact that I am not the first, or the last, 4th year art student who has, or is, having this dilemma. All I can actively do is give the ideas a small, but fair, go and from this determine the best course of action.
So onwards and upwards to the finale of my educational life.
Rebbeca Horn is a German installation artist wroking since the 1970’s. She has covered many themes in her work, varying from social issues to do with immigration and refugees as well as work that deals with war atrocities. One element of her work that is a constant is her visual style, the symbolic use of stringed instruments as a reference to humanity and our form, and the dexterity of our creations, however destructive.
Tower of The Nameless
In Tower of The Nameless she sets a monument to the refugees from Balkan states in the form of a tower with mechanically playing violins. The hight and motion of the tower representing the huge plight of these refugees, the violins an expression of their bodies.
Concert for Anarchy
In her work Concert for Anarchy a grand piano is suspended upside down from the ceiling by heavy wires attached to its legs. It hangs solidly yet precariously in mid-air, out of reach of a performer, high above the gallery floor. A mechanism within the piano is timed to go off every two to three minutes, thrusting the keys out of the keyboard in a cacophonous shudder. The keys, ordinarily the point of tactile contact with the instrument, fan disarmingly out into space. At the same time, the piano’s lid falls open to reveal the instrument’s harp-like interior, the strings reverberating at random. This unexpected, violent act is followed between one and two minutes later by a retraction as the lid closes and the keys slide back into place, tunelessly creaking as they go.
“There exists a universal truth about sound, one that no creature can escape, one that will always accompany us throughout our lives: an archetypal unity elevated above the plain of awareness. Sound penetrates where no other sense will dare, it occupies space and time ubiquitously, its presence illusive yet monumental in its emotive proficiency. Sound is fundamental to both how we experience the world and how the world familiarizes ourselves. Sound exists as language and noise, as harmony and cacophony, even as information and sensation.”
Cornford is an English artist/composer/musician. Cornford’s work explores platforms such as sculpture, instillation, composure, performance, and ‘the extended technique of free improvisation’ all of which he dedicates to the examination of our relationship to space. Cornford uses his intricate homemade mechanisms, which are often adaptations of recognisable instruments like guitars, drums, and turntables, to have an acoustic relationship with both the space they inhabit and the spectators experiencing them.
“My installations employ space as a physical and acoustic substance in order to provoke the audience into a durational and subjective encounter with the work. My performances employ unpredictable processes and systems to ensure that my position in relation to the sounds is primarily as a listener.” – Stephen Cornford
One example of Cornford’s work and general visual style is Air Guitar. Made from a revolving electric guitar and amplifier the work combines a unique physical presence as well as creating a ‘droning Aeolian loop.’ The works sound comes from the motion of the guitar and amplifier, which have both been attached to a slowly spinning wheelchair motor, the movement created reminiscent of some great machine as its cogs turn giving life to that machine. Because of the movement the droning sound produced by the guitar is subject to the Doppler effect, Cornford employing scientific knowledge to accomplish a constant variation in the ambient sounds, his Leslie speaker supplementing the works incredible character.
Marclay is probably acknowledged as the most famous artist/composer to use turntables and records as a focal point in his work. Both visually and musically. Since the 1980’s Marklay has pushed the boundaries of what can be listened to and perceived as music, or at least can be listened to and enjoyed. He approaches both the turntable and the vinyl as objects of creation, not just reproduction, molding them into fantastical articles of function.
Marclay is not only known for his inspiring work with turntables. He has worked with a range of musical and visual devices like the above Guitar Drag. Marclay has always had a ‘punk’ attitude to sound creation attributed to his practice that this work captures. In this video he ties an electric guitar to the back of his pick-up and hauls the instrument on a trail of destruction and creation. The destruction of the guitar a homage to the rock legends, The Who, Nirvana, Hendrix. The creation of a new challenging sound emerging from the slow fracturing of the guitar.
Video has also been a equally major attribute of Marclays work. In his piece Video Quartet Marclay astonishingly manages to to combine the musical elements from a selection of video recordings of live music. Played on a projection divided into four screens, he manages to to mix the music, in much the same way as DJ’s do today, over the screens. The affect is a magical display of Marclays innovative talent, the work like experiencing four concerts at once, perfectly timed, perfectly harmonious.
Bernhard Gal is an Austrian artist/composer who has tested on the relationship between sound and space in many of his works. Exhibiting since 1998, Gal’s portfolio consists of a range of musical compositions for instruments, soundscapes, sound and light installations, performance, and inter-media art as well as electro-acoustic compositions. For the series of works Defragmentation’s, 2000, Gal collaborates with Japanese architect/artist Yumi Kori to create light and sound installations that explore the properties and possibilities of spaces both within and out with the traditional gallery format. Together they achieve stunning articulation of ideas using coloured light and sound textures to distort the audiences’ experience of the spaces they inhabit, and aim for “a more holistic perception of the space,” one that is not based on a predetermined conception on the characteristics of that location.