For 13 weeks I have progressed in creating a media artwork that deals with the notion of ‘Futures’. A critical understanding of theory, practice and research was laid as a foundation to which our ideas would then be built upon. I find that my works become more valuable when I use myself and things that affect me as a filter – in continuing this momentum I decided to touch on the issue of refugees through the eyes of higher powers and societies rather than the directly impacted population.
My work began as an investigation and drawing of binaries between my visions and the work of Apichatpong Weerasethakul titled ‘Fireworks (Archives)‘.
During this time of study and installation period, it gave me the opportunity to rethink and compose my visions properly. My last blog post mentioned my plan and sketches of a new approach and image to depict my information and story. During this time off I was able to qualitatively put it together, film and edit my work in a way that I believe stay true to my motives.
In the beginning of my composition I began with the filming of my flower sketch, the reasons why I decided to play off paper flower are:
Government and society views on refugees are fickle, not everyone has the same thoughts. With the alternating ‘responsibilities’ and ‘burdens’ petals, it depicts how some view the issue
Flowers represent living things, but a lot of the time when governments talk about asylum seekers, on paper, they are just indices and matrices. The paper flower is used to depict these two thoughts and acts as a reminder that this is ultimately about human beings.
Legislation and Policies are based off collective or ruling decisions, in doing so, is that not just taking a chance in some ways? Like the plucking of the flower, it showcases the making of changing decisions.
The circular nature of the drum also provided possibilities of content composition. The initial text that was projected was in the structure of a stanza in the centre of the drum. It was noted to be too structural and straight forward, to increase interactivity and stimulation for the audience – a circular unfolding of the text around the drum would be more suitable – encouraging the investigation into the drum as the piece progressed. With the help of Anh and through After Effects this circular motion was achieved around the border of the drum.
I also used a time-lapse of the cloud-filled sky to express the fluidity of refugee interest, acting as an opportunity to start conversations and express the visions of ‘what’s next?’. solutions for the refugee epidemic is far from having a solution, this factor in my work gives the responder to think about what has happened, what is happening and what can happen.
The outcome from all of my efforts, experimentations, fall backs and motives have led to a visually simplistic piece that I believe holds strong messages and data. The abrupt and sombre sound works well with the round moving images and overall narrative expressed.
Speaking with Jo about my previous week’s iterations and idea brainstorming, it was apparent that my play on words with the UN article 14 is still very dreary – in terms of stimulation. I think that handwriting different versions of the same text is easily overlooked, especially within a gallery space setting, that’s why I need more of a vision to come to life. The situation of the matter which was going to be present on top of the drum, bouncing with the sound was still unclear and at this point I think it is unnecessary. I have been thinking about its lack of purpose for quite some time but held onto it because it was so well received in the first iteration though it had no real point than to make the projection visible.
Jo recommended that I look at the works of Tokyo-based artist KEN MATSUBARA. His works encompass the same sort of elements that I deal with and that this particular work is working towards. These elements include the subtle and powerful nature of his composed moving images and how he generates them through beautifully built installations and screen-works. I needed more life in my work, something that tells a story without punching you in the face. Jo has pointed out an aspect of his work that I have grown very fond of – Paper In The Wind:
The paper is fluctuating in the air without ever floating away or falling to the ground. At the same time as the state of our heart that I keep fluctuating slowly uncertainly and but is shown. As in Buddhism, all things are connected “engi”. The paper is shaken by the wind, and we can see the wind because of the paper.
This reinforced a passing thought/vision of painting the surface of the drum black to then make the projection of my content to be bold and clear. I would film my story in a way that was animated and would play with the surface of the drum and also the quaking nature from the sound. I always appreciated simplistic works and I think eliminating the distracting factors that would dance upon the drum refined the simple aesthetic. I was originally thinking of writing out the text where I would then use wind to disturb the paper and blow it away, this option was okay, but still did not fulfil my desire to create a meaningful piece. It was still the same writing, just on an unstable piece of paper. I have since been working on an illustration that I want to bring to life, when ever I would make a decision as a child I would go outside, pick a Daisy flower and pick off the petals alternating between YES and NO. Rather than just text, I think that if composed with a degree of care, this could be a turning point for my piece.
[ The animated image would showcase the petals being plucked one by one ]
Weeks 11 and 12 acted as a contextual revamping of my work. I was stuck with what I wanted to express and how it was going to be showcased. I am unhappy with the layout and specific individual elements of my installation and need to quickly think of what my real motives are behind my work, rather than what my tutors want to see. I spent time researching and delving into different ways of depiction into different facets behind the politics of those seeking asylum in different countries.
Some elements I intend to showcase through my work include:
The fickle nature of refugee interest
What is happening right now within the issue
The play between people as responsibility and/or burdens
Encourage another way of thinking about asylum seekers
Depict how higher powers/society interpret the influx of refugees
Illuminate different perspectives to then move forward
This week I decided to experiment with the actual projection itself, building upon the book video in my first iteration. I wanted to add a personal dimension to the work – so I decided to film my own book projection. In this, it would depict myself writing in a book which in hopes for a different level of stimulation for the audience.
I stuck with writing the passage evident in the basic human rights of the UN:
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
I did not put anything up today but rather work on the internal aspects of my work, that is its purpose. What am I depicting? What story am I telling? I feel like the presence of my installation is strong, but just needs that small push to make it stand out more -so; through the matter on the surface of the drum or through the projection?
This was the first week of idea iterations. I began by piecing together different elements of previous works that were strong. This included; the notion of asylum, the use of old and tattered materials and the use of sombre sounds.
I decided to continue my work on the refugee experience but take it through a government and societal filter – re-utilising a 44 gallon drum from a previous work and a sound that I have composed to accompany my dark piece. This first iteration was to test if all of these factors work hand in hand, without any real content matter. To tell a story, sometimes the tone set by materials must be laid as a solid foundation in order to build upon. My first iteration was to:
Embed a speaker within the drum and seal it off with a plastic skin (like a drum)
Project onto the surface of the drum (content yet to be discovered)
Lay matter on top of drum to interact with projection and sound
Play sound that resonates through the drum therefore disrupting content and projection on the surface of the installation.