Independent Project 2020

Fine Art BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing and Printmaking - Year 3

Mirrors, echoes and reconciliation - Joining the dots and filling in the gaps

I hope that this blog will meet the criteria of the project brief, both well presented and clearly. The pages have been divided up along the lines of the remit, however there may be some blurring and merging, for example I find that it helps to be making throughout the project, and this will be evident as the various pages are peppered with examples of my sketches, photographs and experiments.

I am looking at a different although associated topic as last semester, but the making begins by following on from my specialist project. Penultimately I concluded that project, digitally photographing images and creating transparencies for screen printing, this process led me to experiment with cyanotype printing. For my independent project I have picked up pretty much where I left off by continuing with the cyanotypes, but I quickly turned my consideration towards analogue methods of photography, as a way of slowing down the process of selecting and tackling subjects. My previous topic had been about navigation and philosophy, this was a path that has brought me to the topic of propaganda, counter-propaganda and information within Art.

My mind goes back to an event in Berlin sometime during December 1989; at 5 am in the morning myself and some other revelers thought it was a good idea to try and find the famous Soviet War Memorial at Treptower Park. This is situated in the previously difficult to access former DDR. None of us had ever been there or knew what to expect, but we were determined to pay our respects to the fallen of the Red Army who liberated Berlin from the Nazis in 1945. Nothing prepared me for the scale of the place which was shrouded in an early morning mist. It was not possible to see or imagine the monument from the north western entrance, but as we approached it, passing by the massive tombs either side of the central concourse it gradually became larger and more magnificent, until I could eventually read it as a huge Soviet soldier, carrying a baby and striking a broken swastika with his sword. To say my hair stood on end would be an understatement, it was overwhelming, the most moving monument I have ever come across. There was some extreme polarization during the grand narratives of the 20th century, that's for sure.

George Orwell famously writes that "All Art is Propaganda" and this is the theme that I will explore. My intention is to investigate methods of giving powerful meaning to images by recording and developing them. Perhaps combining several processes I could find how it might be possible to break through layers of polarization, to find common ground, forming alternative realities?

Cautionary observations of how emotion motivates above and beyond critical analysis and content, especially in an angry, frustrated and fearful lay audience.

Each page on this blog follows a more detailed line of inquiry explaining the stages of development from; research, concepts and techniques, methods leading to outcomes and conclusions.

I have been making home-made pinhole cameras, from found objects as well as designing and building them from scratch. I have found that it is much more personal to make your own cameras as this method of photography captures something ethereal. I feel more like I am creating worlds or versions of reality, rather than simply recording an image of what I see. I could develop this, drill down into it but I do not think it will completely satisfy my objective on its own.

I am still very keen to paint and I completed 'Cath's Friday Workshop' recently, working from a range of source material including some John Heartfield and Peter Kennard. This produced complex layered studies that has given me the idea of exploring mirrors, and echoes, those of social media that are so extremely polarised and irresistible. The possibilities of combining images, text and medium to come up with different meanings. This also relates to the work I was producing last semester based on printing over collage. I found screen printing had limitations over textured and layered surfaces, so I have considered trying stencils. I should be able to create stencils from the same tonally separated acetates I plan to use for more complex screen prints and I would like to experiment with these stencils over layered surfaces. I may incorporate cyanotype or bichromate pieces into the collage surfaces over which I then stencil. But I will let the project guide me as it progresses.

If I am not starting to find answers through the layers of exploration, I might have to re-evaluate what I have produced and start over again. But I hope that like mirrors positioned to reflect infinity without conclusion I do not share the same fate...