Constellation has certainly been a great influence on my artistic education; and I owe a great deal of this to my tutor over the past three years; Dr. Jonathan Clarkson. Before I came to University, I struggled with contemporary art; I knew what I liked, and would often stay within those boundaries when dictating what I would look at, or attempt to appreciate. within a gallery space. However, it was Jonathan that opened my eyes to differing forms of art, mediums, and understandings within the contemporary art world. For this, I am exceptionally grateful. First year is where my true passion for sculpture and installation began. Within those lectures, a series of themes and movements began to gestate within my mind; the concept of Gestalt theory, which influenced a steady stream of Sculptures within my first year. This also led on to a great interest with Minimalism, and it’s lasting effects on the artistic world, and it’s surrounding society. This interest has followed me throughout my time in university, and has become an important part of my dissertation.
Due to Constellation consisting of my dissertation this year, and nothing else; this is where all my research and critical development has originated from. Relating to my studio practice in a number of ways, my dissertation; ‘Monumentality: The transcendent nature of artworks in a world without God’ focuses on Nietzsche’s ‘God is Dead’ philosophy, and explores the notion that art, more specifically, contemporary minimalist art, can be seen as a surrogate for this now ‘defunct’ religious sect. If one is to look into that which has no semblance to any other form within nature (to look into something that is nothing), then the only other place one can begin to look is within. This allows a form of meditation for the viewer; and promotes reflection and thought about the viewers life. Often times, this would be found within churches, or other places of worship. However, at a time when people’s lives are as bleak and as hard pushed as ever, someone needs a space in which they can reflect upon their lives, and decide which is the next best course of action; it allows plans to be made, and a breather to be had. It is interesting that this ‘moment’ can be so poignant and important for a person to realise something; either about themselves, or the world surrounding them. Within our current fast paced life, it is often far too easy to discover something happening within the world, or within ourselves, and then forget it due to the steady stream of information being fed to us at all times. Yet, if someone is to pause at an artwork, look into it, the meaning, or concept, will stay within them for far longer; having a far deeper effect upon them This has brought to light within my mind how important art is within society; both as a tool of understanding, but also of healing.
At the beginning of this year, inspired by my research into the sublime in relation to my dissertation, I began to explore the concept of ‘The singularity’; which is the point in which technology shall begin to comprehend its own existence, and will quickly overtake humanity in evolution. This became relevant within my dissertation as began to explore the sublime, and how it fits into our contemporary society. Although Nature is still an example of the sublime, there are now new contemporary sublimes not heard of before; Consciousness, the cosmos above us, and technology. Technology and consciousness are fantastic aspects of the sublime, due to the fact that they have evolved to a point in which we cannot even begin to comprehend the sheer immensity and unbounded energy held within this aspect of our existence. As we cannot begin to even comprehend this level of evolution and advancement within our small brains, we are not fully aware of the implications of this; This drew me into creating machines that held human attributes, in order to highlight the blurring of the lines between man and machine, and how we are inching ever closer to this possibility. I attempted this by creating machines that had lo-fi human organs and biological systems.This was inspired by a quote within ‘Blood Meridian’, a book by Cormack McCarthy, about the gore and horror of the West, due to it’s technological advancement, and what it meant for humanity; ‘Man can build a machine, and a machine to build that machine, and evil that can run unattended for a thousand years.’
Within my research for the final sections of my dissertation, in which I explored monumental minimalist artworks, and their understanding of time and age. Through their challenging of what the artists believed to be the end times, as well as their use of artwork to heal the viewer. These aspects of ‘healing’ aided me through a rather tough period of my life last term, in which I was struggling with University, as well as life outside of University within my student house; as well as issues with friends in very bad places. To exude these negative emotions out of myself, I looked towards art as a means of Catharsis and healing. Creating a series of soft woolen sculptures within a harsh outer frame; either consisting of steel, plastic, or iron; which created an interesting juxtaposition of form, texture, and context. I have also been exploring the notion of time; both in the creation process, as well as the actual artwork being effected over an extended period of time. With a piece I created for my show in the abacus, ‘-exposure’, I spent an extended period of time with the piece, in which I braided some 60ft of wool over a straight period of 7 hours. The piece, once created was braided with feathers within the form; and over time the feathers would fall from within the braid as it loosened, falling to the floor underneath the piece; changing over the curse of it’s exhibition. These notions were also explored within my recent studio practice, in which I am creating crystals within chemical baths on feathers and bird carcasses; as a means of preserving them through this ‘crust’ of crystals. The creation of the crystals can take an exceptionally long time, and through the synthesis process, they collect over a period of time; whether that be a shorter period of time, producing smaller crystals, or a longer period, producing bigger crystals. There is also a notion of the crystals eventually crumbling off the form and collecting on the floor; yet, this will not happen for an extended period of time; and theoretically extends the ‘life’ of the carcass, by prolonging the onset of decomposition. These aspects of remnants, extended life, ritualistic creation, and time, are all entwined in my research within my dissertation this year.