Part 2, exercise 2.1 continued

I have reached a compromise with this task; the birds made in bird seed of the previous post, some white items on a white ground, shoes from the Auschwitz museum, and hand prints, made by early hominids, dating back thousands of years.

Made by spreading glue in a rough outline of the picture of my various metal birds, scattering bird seed over the paper so that it would stick outside the birds’ forms, then bleeding ink into the gaps.
White items: a notebook, a mug, a Blink camera, and a penguin that responds to music (iDogs anyone?) and has subsequently been given new batteries. Painting made with Winsor & Newton brown ink using the loose end of a feather.
Cave handprints. Painting made by drawing the hands essentially blind with a piece of wax then dusting graphite powder over it. I’d somehow expected the wax to repel the powder but instead it stuck and so my random scribbles are highlighted rather than hidden.
Clogs from the shoe museum at Auschwitz. Painting made in plain water with Ecoline ink allowed to bleed through it and then lightly trained using the wooden end of a paint brush.

This exercise proved much easier to accomplish with more meaningful and less personal subject matter. It had to be inventive about media though, as most of the ones suggested either give off noxious fumes or are food stuffs. Instead, I’ve used PVA glue, wax, plain water, and seed that can be washed out of the paper or left in a seed tray to see if anything grows.

I can see a point to being adventurous with materials and I think I have been already in my previous modules, but I believe there are ethical limits and also limits with regard to what we, as artists, can expect from the public. Do we risk taking them for fools by saying that a painting in, for instance, HP Sauce, is innovative? Or are we inviting them to share an ‘in’ joke that maybe they don’t quite get because they’re not ‘in’, and expecting to be judged by our wackiness? Would the painting have the same intrinsic value had it been painted with a more conventional substance, and if not, then why not?

This exercise has been – well – exercising. I hadn’t expected to feel so strongly about the materials or about my need for significance even at this level, and this has caused me to begin thinking through my ideas about art, my pre-conceived constructions from my experience as an observer and my experience now as a novice practitioner. Someone said problems are opportunities*, in this instance to reflect intellectually on what really is a very basic set of tasks which I doubt the author of the module could ever have guessed might be contentious.


*I have just remembered who this was. From the film Pad Man, it was the view of a most extraordinary man indeed – Arunachalam Muruganantham – who single-handedly changed the practice of Indian women from using dirty rags for their menstrual needs to sanitary pads that he made at very low cost by inventing machines to do the job. He undoubtedly saved lives and also freed women from their obligatory 5-day (test cricket) isolation every month. He also gave women jobs, businesses, and financial independence by building more and more machines so that as many villages as possible could have their own. The film is a tad Bollywood (and on my copy you had to actively seek out subtitles) but this doesn’t detract. Whole heartedly recommended.

New life as a seed mat. I will document its progress along with the ‘made by wildlife’ Pollock on the garden shed.

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