Skype Session 6 Recap

Just skipped right over Skype Session 5, mainly because it was about the E-Library and I have yet to go through the live streaming video (I missed a part of it) and I don’t want to lag behind because of one missed video. So yes, onwards to Skype Session 6!

Date: Tuesday, Nov 7th 2017

Guest Speakers: Donald Takguy and Terry Quinn

Both of these artists were UAL alumni. We started the session off by meeting Donald, who began the MA as a filmmaker and during the MA focused on making simple abstract films. The idea behind these films would generally be simple, usually one element or idea that repeats itself. Since video is a challenging medium to exhibit, he often took stills from the videos and used “Adobe after effects” to enhance, change them into some visually artistic. He preferred Adobe aftereffects over Photoshop because aftereffects has a lot more interesting tools and filters to play around with.

At this point some of us asked him why he considered video a challenging medium for exhibitions. His reply was that the audience may not have the patience for it. For example, they may not wait till the video restarts from the beginning and therefore miss a certain part of it, which may hamper their understanding or they may not watch the whole video till the very end which again limits their appreciation of it. So, essentially, in order to involve people in the video exhibit you need to make further arrangements based on the nature of the exhibit. For example, perhaps have headphones that allow people to move around the remaining exhibits even as they listen to the video. The act of putting on headphones is likely to draw in more commitment from the audience since they will make a conscious choice to put them on and may not then decide to take them off until they have heard the piece. So, there are potential ways to make the medium more engaging such as setting a timer or clock that tells people when the video will restart so they can view it from the beginning or comfy chairs that encourage them to sit through the documentary etc. But, it definitely requires more thought to put together a video exhibit.

Donald’s final MA exhibit was incredibly fascinating. He showed us a picture of multiple screens of different sizes placed on floor level, facing up. Honestly, that looked like a piece of art in itself!

All these screens were showing those short abstract films, looping at various times.

For the prints that he put up he would take still images from these short videos, layer them with other images and then use after effects to turn them into an abstract. Jonathan suggested that Donald was following the idea of literally, “playing with time”. Donald also mentioned something about using a lot of ‘mapping’ though I did not manage to get a clear idea of how that was.

Now, post graduation, Donald seems to have drifted back towards traditional painting. He mentioned being inspired by “Stuckism” which I understood to be an art movement that emphasizes ‘figurative’ versus ‘conceptual’ art. With an inclination towards the use of traditional painting mediums, Stuckism expects its followers to give importance to the aesthetics and appearance of art as opposed to art where concept takes precedence.

So, after deciding to re-explore painting, Donald felt inspired to paint cats. The whole point was, that these cats were not realistic cats, it was like throwing the question out there ‘do we even know what cats look like?’. If you draw a human face and at pointy ears, doesn’t that make the audience think of a cat too? Janet called this series ‘catstracts’ which was pretty accurate!

We ended the discussion with Donald by discussing a small exhibition he was organizing for all the students at the 3 Girls Gallery Cafe in Peckham. YAY. and us online students can send digital work in as well!

The next guest was Terry Quin, a very recent alumnus. Before he joined the MA he was a hobbyist and life drawer, but his career was in IT. That was kind of what led him to consider a fusion of technology with art. Perfect for this MA 😉

Since his practice before the MA had focused on realism/figurative drawing, he decided that he would use these 2 years to explore the following things:

  1. Instead of using perspective to create a painting he would explore the use of 3D technology.

  2. He wanted to move from the ‘static’ and add ‘life’ to the life drawing.

He began by exploring 3D scanning on giant canvases 3mX5m. Then he moved onto scultping MDF wood (an easy to sculpt wood). He used 3D printing and laser cutting to make the sculptures. 

He also tried making bronze sculptures though they turned out different from what he had imagined.

He began to follow the process of ‘heritage restoration’ and discovered that they use a variety of rather interesting techniques like photogrammetry, casting, recordings etc etc. That inspired him to add sound to his sculptures to add that ‘life’ he was looking for. He found a company called Bare Conductive Sound Board which is based off Arduino and is actually a very simple contraption. He then created a piece by copying a famous painting ‘red lips’ and using conductive paint and the sound board. He called this ‘Unrequited Love’. It was an exhibit that allowed the audience to interact with the painting. Touching different parts of the painting would make the woman say different things.

He then worked with a former dancer who, after a leg injury, became a quite famous model for artists. He made two sculptures of her and the previously created bronze sculpture that had turned out so different from what he expected, was meant to describe her state of flux and confusion immediately post her injury, before she discovered that she could be a model. Using the same sound board, he created an interactive piece where if someone picked up the book placed between the two statues, the voice of the model would start reading different passages from the book about her life. He called this piece “Metamorphosis”, showing her transition from confusion (the bronze) to self actualization (the white).

He then thought of the ‘intangible reality’, virtual or augmented reality. Where virtual reality pulled you into an entirely separate world, augmented reality allowed you to view the current world and yet interact with certain intangible things that were not really there. He discovered the ‘binomial head’, which is a type of headphones that create an audio experience that stimulates talking to a live person using a very free moving headset. This is when he began working on an installation where a video plays in front of sculptures.

He focused on a documentary by BBC about an encounter experienced by a woman called Emma Tate. The explanation and the scope of his achievement was awe-inspiring and rather lengthy but he essentially replicated Emma’s experience that day encountering those refugees in the water and trying helplessly to save as many of them as her boat could manage, knowing that she was going to be unable to save most. He recorded Emma and a man (who was playing the role of the refugee) talking and then used sculptures (with the binomial head) to have the sculptures transmit those voices. The sculpture of the refugee had very unformed features, a kind of reflection on simply how many there were and how lost, literally like a sea of humanity and how people get bloated up by exposure to water. Emma’s sculpture on the other hand had very well defined features. The audience could move around this exhibit, interacting with it as they did.

To summarize, Terry said that his primary objective in the first year was to build a ‘toolbox’. He had no idea that as he built it, he would be moved so far from where he had begun, and that’s really the beauty of it! Through a process of experimentation he now knows what his practice is all about: encapsulating a narrative of people’s lives, gaining empathy for the characters he creates.

We discussed how technology was important for both Donald and Terry but how their work helps us realize that technology is a ‘servant to the art’. The ART is what the focus should be on. Terry spoke about how an obsession with exploration drove him, how the journey was definitely more important than the destination.

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