PDP

My journey to writing my dissertation started with my fascination with performance art. Many of the work within performance art are based around the body and the ways it can be manipulated physically, but also mentally, whether that is in the mind of the artist or the viewer. My final piece within my first year of studying at Cardiff Met looked at the line between our admiration and our repulsion towards our skin. I did this by videoing the ‘removal’ of my own skin, accompanied by the loud repulsive sound of the latex I was removing within the video. In my second year I looked at making other people vulnerable by threatening their bodies’ safety within a space, using elastic bands and water. Now in my third year I am looking at what makes me vulnerable in terms of isolation though which you could say I become almost an abject object.

 

I started off with looking at Julia Kristeva’s book Powers of Horror as everything that I had found that was previously written on abjection referenced her and the beginning ideas of this process. The obtaining of Barbra Creed’s book A Monstrous Feminine allowed me to further research and back up many of the ideas I already had in terms of men fearing women for their natural pro creating powers and the likening of the uterus to the devil as this has come up in many readings and talks on classic paintings that I have partaken in throughout my education. Learning more about how woman’s biology was seen, and to some extent still is, as threatening to men’s power has inspired me to carry on my own art practice in further years within the realms of this subject.

 

The use of sexualisation within my dissertation was a natural step from my research into the abject body as often they are both linked or one can be used to describe the other.

 

During my research into why men sexualise and supress women I came across Natasha Walter’s book Living Dolls – The Return of Sexism which has changed my views on current society to the point where I thought about changing the subject and rewriting my dissertation to look more into the societal changes women have faced and why circumstances have ended up like this. In her book she interviews many young girls with in different aspects of the sex trade from prostitution to pole dancing. Before this book I was well on the feminist side (without calling myself a feminist) of sexual empowerment being a positive thing for women and would often think along the lines of I can dress and do whatever I want because it’s my liberation and empowerment. But now looking back I can see how woman are still getting into the exact situations they were previously but rather then blaming men for the violence and objectification they have no one to blame but themselves and their feminist empowerment fed to them by other women.

 

I was stuck on how to further this dissertation when it was suggested to me that I look at the combined sexualised and abject in the form of breasts. I have always had a fascination with the suppression of woman’s breasts and the controversy around women breastfeeding in public and the role of clothing in rape culture. From this I am an avid partaker and follower of the Free the Nipple Campaign that is fighting for breast and nipple equality throughout society, culture and the Internet. Even though finding breasts sexually attractive myself I have always seen this as my own problem and not that of the women that has produced the breasts. So the fascination on why this has become such a big statement in the modern world is fascinating to me and being given the opportunity within my own education to read more into this has been a pleasure.

 

I was already planning on using the argument about breast feeding in public within my sexualisation section but the use of the third chapter meant that I was able to explore other areas of the female sexualisation, such as the history of sexualisation within artwork.

 

The use of the artists in this dissertation excluding the ones of painting and sculpture are all personal favourites of mine and therefore inspired me to explain and demonstrate their strong reactions and links to the themes in my dissertation. From all the in-depth research into these artists I have enthused myself into pushing my own studio practice, as the reactions and lasting feelings these works have on the audiences. I would love to try and recreate these types of cultural reactions throughout my own degree work.

 

I always struggle with the writing aspect of my degree due to being severely dyslexic. The actual process of reading all the research material is the first hurdle I came to and you could say partially fell at, as to my difficulties I wasn’t able to read the books in the most in-depth way and therefore have probably missed out on lots of fine grade changing details. When attempting to get help from the university with the structure, layout, and overall correctness of my dissertation, I was left with confusion as all the help I was given was only on my introduction that I was already satisfied with at the beginning of the session. I think to get over these problems I will need to practice my essay structures, basic English writing skills and my reading skills to be within hope of completing my doctoral thesis within the next 10 or so years.

 

But when I look back on my journey through school to the final year of my degree, I have nothing but respect and pride for myself. From being diagnosed with dyslexia at the end of junior school I began to properly learn to read and write in my first two years of secondary school and from there I have never felt like I have had the confidence to read a section of text out loud, let alone creating a high standard piece of academic writing.

Dissertation Proposal Reflection

When thinking about what I wanted to write for my dissertation I was stumped. I fined reading and writing extremely difficult and even with help from the uni I still find it nearly impossible to read academic text as to me the use of language and confusing often unheard of words makes little to no sense to me.

I stared off looking at the idea of the body being replusive and grotesque to our modern day views (naked in public, menstruation and other bodily functions and fluids that are normally to every other human being be we decide to ignore and make them taboo) and also why this then works so well in fine art and art practice, this lead me onto the theories of abjection. Looking at Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection i have learnt a lot about the way we view the body and about the difference between the subjectivity and objectivity of it.

From this thought I fought that I am also very interested in the sexualisation of the body. Mainly to do with things like the controversy of breastfeeding in public but the willingness to used breasts to advertise (and using the ideas of sex sells) but also the idea of women suppression and the male fear of the female form. For research into this I started looking at things like R. Betterton’s work An Intimate Distance: Women, Artists and the Body which looks at the difference between the social body and the psychal body.

I feel like the work on the abject body is way too advanced reading for my ability and even thought I have tried to include it in my dissertation proposal I understand very little of it and therefore my dissertation proposal is lacking and probably wont make a pass grade. Therefore I am going to see if there is a way I can avoid the abject body but still talk about the sexualised body and the reason we are so replaced by our own bodies and bodily functions. I feel like struggling with the theories of the abject body had shown me my love for the debate around how women’s bodies are used and observed and how this has been created though decades of suppression and how it is slowly being changed by feminism and feminist movents.

I also haven’t done a lot of research into why this works so well in art which I was wanting to include as a large part of my dissertation. I have read lots on this topic but wasn’t too sure of how to include the type of information I have read into my proposal. (books on many artists where they describe the work and not why the grotesque or shocking bodily functions make the art work well’

My fear of reading academic texts means that I have not done enough research into what has previously been written and this means that even though I know I can get help with my writing (that wasn’t needed that this point) I need to look into some form of help with the reading and ‘decoding’ of academic texts. I am looking forward to the dissertation as at some point though my persistence I will find something that I can sink my teeth into and proceed with writing something that I am proud of and represents my true ability that the dissertation proposal dose not as I didn’t put as much research and effort into it as I should have.

Constellation Review

During this section of my first year I struggled a lot as my biggest weakness is reading and writing. I always find it hard to put what I am thinking and what I want to express in writing and even harder to make it academic and of a high level. I never thought I would finish secondary school with good grades let alone making it to university so the pressure of the high level work and information was very scary. I knew there was a written aspect to the corse, as with all, and a smaller percentage of that in my first year which worried me as I felt like I would look stupid in compression to the other students but after a few weeks I realised that maybe I had a chance and I was still able to do what I love for at least a little while longer.

Overall I feel like I gave constellation this year my best shot, to helped myself by going to all of my constellation sessions, using the lectures to the best of my ability and my own reading tried to familiarise myself with the subject area i would be later writing on. I learnt a lot about sonic arts as I was writing the piece, so paragraph by paragraph I learnt and researched what was going to be need in that section. I am very proud of my final outcome as reading it from an outsiders perspective you wouldn’t know how much I have struggled with it, but personally I see it as a personal achievement that I can look upon of how I managed to over come my biggest fear and motivate myself.

When I first started this essay I was very scared of how to approach it and turn it into something that would allow me to carry on doing what I love. I came to the conclusion when starting that I have a very large fear of essays and everything they come with them because it is all my weaknesses being challenged and pushed. I guessed I also struggled with letting lecturers and tutors know how much I was struggling with the task.

Looking into sound art, I have always been interested in it but after having lecture on it I was no more inspired, but then after researching into the the area of the subject I found most compelling, Visual Sound Art, I was suddenly inspired and deeply interested in the discipline. I know that from these sessions we are supposed to practise for our dissertation but I guess we are also supposed to explore new disciplines and get inspiration that we that can bring back to our own individual work.

Specifically with the writing of the essay the most I struggled with the word count at the end and only managed the lowest possible limit that was allowed, this I feel could be what lets my piece of work down and produces a fail. But also i feel like the content could have been researched more allowing the pice to even more in-depth and produced to a more higher academic standard.

My personal success would be passing this part of the year with a pass, like I guess it is for everyone else, but also I had my own smaller victory when I realised that I had written half of the essay which to everyone else seems like just part of the job we had to do, but for me it was such an emotional time as I never thought I would be able to complete one paragraph. I have learnt a lot during this even though it was the last thing I wanted to do and I feel I am a better artist for doing this as my knowledge has been broadened but also as a person because I proved to myself what I can do and persevered with something I wanted to run away and hide form. I don’t know if this will improve my confidence when it coms to next year but over all at the moment I believe that this is going to have a positive effect on my next two years, not only with my writing but also with my work.

Constellation – Sonic Arts 3

In this session we started off by learning to listen actively and not passively. We learnt the active listening can trigger memory and past experiences as well as makes you focus on things that you wouldn’t normally hear. Active listening also allows you to look for relationships between notes and pieces and you can there hear miniature differences in sound art. This over all leads to the best over all experience.

One of the  artist we looked at this week was Yves Kline. He was a painter and a musician and combined some of his painting work with orchestral music pieces. One of his pieces done in his classic blue sceem was presented in a gallery where a orchestra played one note throughout the entire showing of the pieces. If you listen to the orchestra the note they are playing almost sounds like the color blue. Yves Kline uses sound art in this piece to add another layer to the paint and over all piece.

We also looked at Alvin Lucier and his piece ‘I’m Sitting In A Room’. In this Alvin Lucier records his self saying a paragraph about himself sitting in a room and then plays it back to the room. When it is being played back he records the play back and then plays the recording and rerecords it over and over again until at the end the only this you can here is the sound the room makes though the recording. In this piece Alvin Lucier uses the space in the room as his instrument and is ultimate playing space with his voice.

In this session we also looked at different ways sound music can and has been made. Such as Steve Reich’s Pendulum music 1968. where he uses feedback between microphones and amps to create sound art.

And the symphony of 100 metronomes

And the final one I want to look at is David Byrne’s ‘Playing the building’. Where he connects a series of machines to different parts of a building so that when you play keys on a piano so that when you play a key it acts like a switch and ‘plays the building’

Constellation – Sonic Arts 2

In our second session of Sonic Arts we still where going through the history of sound art.

This week we had a brie look at 12-tone surrealist section and we looked at Claude Shannon who created the digital computer that was the start of the possibility of electronic and computer sound and music. we also Max Mathews, who was a ‘pioneer in the world of computer music’ and proved that computers could do anything.

We looked at Max Mathews version of a ‘bicycle Built For Two’ and a version of the same song but called Bicycle Built for Two Thousand, where Daniel Massey and Aaron Koblin used two thousand separate voice recordings to recreate the song.

As a group we talked about the transformation these two versions went through and how this has changed and evolved over the years. We then moved on and looked at a different kind of computer music, ‘illiac suite for string quartet’. This piece was the first piece of music that was scored by a computer and then played by a string quartet.

Towards the end of the session we revisited silence and all took part in an exercise where we sat in ‘silence’ for a period of time and had to right down everything we could here. Most people wrote down similar things like the hum of the lights and movement of pens and paper. This showed us that silence dose not really exists. This backs up a statement that John Cage said in a video we watches afterward, where he spent some time in a room where no sounds existed, but afterwards he said that he could still here two sounds, a low beat of his own body and a high pitched ring.

Consterllation – Sonic Arts 1

(Note: Due to still not having support for my dyslexia I am struggling in lectures as I find it almost impossible to take notes down as I process and write information that is being given to us to slowly and miss most of what is being said. I am going to let my lecture know at the beginning of the next session but am finding that I will have to do a lot of personal research into sonic art because I have missed out on almost all of the details and important information we are being given.)

In this constellation group we will be covering the history, the theory, the techniques and technologies that are used for music/sound creations in art.

In our first lecture we where introduced into sound art and what it is and where given a brief outline of the history of it and the people that created it.

During this lecture we learnt about John Cage. John Cage is one of the most influential musicians with “new sound”. In 1937 John Cage created turntableism and he also wrote a book called ‘Silence’ and is was inspired by silence as a thing.

I personally feel that silence in contrast with sound can be a more powerful and would love to explore this more as a concept in my own work and in my constellation essay.

A french composer Pierre Schaeffer, was a main contributor to the creation of the genre musique concréte in electroacoustic music. He was the first composer who started to use multiple gramophones at once, looped tracks and mixing tapes together. He uses sounds from every day life, for example uses train sounds to create his peace so it is entirely created ‘naturally’ (not by his hang)

Another big influencer but on the other side of the scale is Stockhausen who creates sonic art where every sound is completely controlled and manipulated to perfection.

Constellation – Baby Cage

babycage2

One of our main aims in constellation is to develop our skills in academic research and writing and to develop our relationship between our theory and practice of our work. We work towards developing theses skills through weekly study skills sessions where we work on different aspects of academic writing and weekly lectures.

The out come of theses sessions also results in a 500 word essay on ‘The Baby Cage’ controversy The controversy that I fond in the image that we have been given to start from is not to do with the dangers of putting your child in a cage on the side of a building but the circumstances and poverty that led people to live in high rise tower blocks, therefore creating the need for the baby cage.

I personally am going to struggle with this aspect of the course as I suffer with sever dyslexia and often find it impossible to communicate my ideas though writing and at times struggle reading, especially academic text making the research side of this module very difficult.