This is a double header as I submitted assignments 3 and 4 at the same time, it being hard to distinguish them in practical terms. As a result, the formative feedback spanned both but had to be written for the formal record as two separate reports. An unenviable task.
The key issues though, were relatively consistent and addressed the transitions from gritty physical work to equally gritty filmic pieces; do I think the film short is the end? how will I avoid becoming mechanistic in my process? can I extend it in some way? and what have I taken from my recent art trail experience to inform thinking about audiences?
I was pleased to hear that the films so far have retained their grittiness, some of them adding more, I would argue, by the use of lighting and colour enhancements. But the mechanistic thing – something I’ve referred to elsewhere as the one-trick pony trap – could easily become an issue if it weren’t for my tendency to look for a new thing to do, and once this body of work is complete, that particular consistency of approach will be redundant. I will be looking for something else. So the next question is quite pertinent – do I think the films are the end with nothing else to come? Well no, I think the conversations are the next step, whether these are internal monologues or happen between viewers and/or me. But in asking this question, I had also to ask myself whether a painting is the end with nothing else to come.
I had experience of these questions at the recent art trail where almost all of my paintings were embedded with video material, viewed via the Artivive app. While very few conversations were prompted by the paintings themselves unless the viewer(s) had a particular interest, many more arose when people saw them via the app. As a result, we talked about conservation and clean water; dance, Degas, and social change; Chinese philosophy; the reintroduction to the UK of osprey which we had hunted to extinction prior to the 1950s; and the possibilities opened up by this technology for people with literacy, visual, and communication difficulties to participate in viewing art. Embedded videos are capable of containing audio tracks and sign language to help people ‘see’ or ‘read’ what everyone else takes for granted, although I would be keen to maximise this by using entertaining and engaging media rather than trying to throw fully explanatory essays at them.
From my unscientific observations, there appeared to be some demographic trends with regard to initial engagement. Men, who often described themselves as engineers or IT specialists, were largely excited by the technology, children with what the technology could do, while women were generally caught up in the aesthetics. Outside of these categories, age seemed not to be a particular issue.
This goes to another question brought up in the tutorial, that of audiences and how to take this to a wider one. The art trail took place in a very conservative but relatively art-aware village and so I had taken pieces of work I thought more likely to interest this broad group. My co-exhibitors were professional artists for whom the trail was an opportunity to sell their work and so they too had brought work they judged suitable for the location. It was all very safe and, significantly, my one sale was of a cat.
My more edgy or equivocal work was at home and it is this I would want to take forward to a wider audience using screens alongside the physical pieces, and enabling personal engagement via the Artivive app. I am looking into ways of doing this.
Artivive is the only app I know of that offers this facility, and although I have seen it used with street art, mostly the embedded work is in galleries and operates as a 3D layer enabler or a way of livening up posters. A second app called Pioneer also activates a 3D image in response to a postcard, but it appears to be a one-off project. Nevertheless, the virtual cat is out of the bag and access to additional information without the use of QR codes will likely become more widespread in time.
As always, my ability to relate my work to that of other contemporary artists falls short of the ideal, and I have been given some names to follow up. I suspect this will be something to address in the essay which will be discussing the place of digital art alongside the more traditional physical process. At 1000 words, it is likely to be a scamper across the surface of the key issues, but it’s clear to me that hybridising the two is a natural progression in what has been a history of innovation using new techniques by artists across the centuries. Had this not been the case, surely we would still be standing in caves, blowing pigment at our hands.
In researching for the essay, I have found a great deal of projected work, some of it room-sized, filmic and performance material, and work produced on dedicated apps or by AI. Significantly, these artists appear to have abandoned the physical entirely and I have so far found no hybrids of the type I’ve been making. Arguably then, my inspiration is driven more by physical media than digital, the digital being a way of layering additional content much as a film does when it adds lighting, focus, and audio tracks to a primary piece of action.
Curation for the assessment material is, at one level, already underway as I’m mulling the process and either weeding out or listing for editing pieces that don’t cut it now even if they seemed to a while ago.
I am very much aware of a subcurrent of mental activity that is working on the whole while I deliver the detail. This includes audience, ambition with regard to future shows/exhibitions, and how to integrate my core drivers, communication and inclusivity.
These look like fertile ground for finding digital/physical hybrids.