Research – Presentation Strategies

Having not taken part in an exhibition before, I wasn’t very familiar with the different options I could take for my own project, therefore I needed to conduct research to widen my knowledge and figure out what would be the appropriate decision for my project. My tutors had recommended I seek the installation shots of the different projects or to visit them in person if possible, this would enable me to see how the prints were displayed and how they worked within the particular environments they were exhibited. I attempted to research a wide variety of different artists, what their work investigates and how they were/are displayed. This would give me my own ideas as well as seeing what sort of methodology is appropriate for the work that is of a similar nature to mine.

 

Kennard Phillipps is a collaborative movement making work since 2002 to respond to the invasion of Iraq; the work seeks to challenge the concept of power and war internationally. Their cause has brought various different people together offering a range of skills to create work for different environments including gallery spaces, printed matter and online spaces. The piece I am particularly interested is also based on a politician, in this case the subject is George Osbourne and his quote ‘Britain is turning a corner’. The piece uses newspapers with economic figures as the basis before using alternative methods to overlay another design and element of subject matter.

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The piece is printed on newspaper which is a really interesting choice to use when responding to political and controversial matter. There is always a subtle indication that anything printed on newspaper, is the news from professional news organisations, our traditional gatekeepers who are meant to have a responsibility towards the public and publish the truth. This notion has been combined with the practice of politics, where information is given to the public in a matter that is meant to sound as positive as possible, being manipulated as much as they can to make sure that no negatives can be taken. A speech or a promise from a politician is always taken with a pinch of salt as they can be no way of knowing what they are telling is true, or what they have chosen not to tell. The medium of print also means that people can really get in close and look at the numbers and figures behind the artwork, looking at the detail may broaden their interpretation of the project. The act of taking something in their hands and looking at each part of it is not available in the online spaces of the Internet, the only function that comes close to this is the ability to sometimes ‘zoom in’ however this does not always achieve the best results. This is something I really need to consider with my images, I had previously thought of displaying them on a screen as this would indicate I am investigating a digital concept, however this would make it hard for the viewer to see the detail in my images. In a printed version of my image you can really see the individual numbers more clearly and a static print on a wall would be much more effective for the viewer and radically improve their viewing experience. These prints could either be separate prints featured on the wall, or all of the images could form a printed book. This piece has also opened up another avenue for my project, using alternative materials to print on as I have identified the newspaper has brought another element to the project. I need to consider whether the materials I use for my project compliment or destruct the notion I am trying to express.

 

Christian Marclay is an artist who explores the relationship between fine art and sound, attempting to produce pieces which explores the dynamics of both mediums. From January to April in 2015 there was an exhibition showcasing a vast majority of the work from Marclay’s work which in turn, demonstrated the vastly different outcomes each project produces. I was particularly interested in the work exhibited in box frames, Marclay took sheet music from songs and put them in frames with warped bullseye glass. The songs themselves indicate onomatopoeia, or reference the art of painting which Marclay envisioned having a dripping, wet sound, therefore the frames reflect this notion by replicating a raindrop.

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These box frames are a really interesting idea and they really help to make the concept behind Marclay’s images clear. The space between the sheet music and the glass means that the audience can still see part of the music to recognise what it would be, without the warped glass becoming too much of a restriction. However the glass adds an extra element which works to convey the idea of water Marclay identified in the creative process. The actual box frame would indicate to me that these portraits are a study, in this case a study of sound. The brown frame, the white mount and the slightly aged tone to the paper of the sheet music all aesthetically reference zoology studies in which the scientist would preserve species such as insects. The idea of preservation and observation could be really effective for my project as it would indicate I am preserving a method of portraiture that might become common place. It could create the idea of the human race being preserved in a way that is convenient and legible for computer technology. In this case it would appear the box frames are a good idea, however when referring back to my reflection on the Kennard Phillips work, I remembered how important is was for the viewer to get close to a piece with detail, especially if the detail is the most important part, not the effect of the overall artefact. The distance between the glass of the box frame and the content would be detrimental to my project as it would obscure the view from the viewer and make their viewing experience limited as a result. The viewer needs to be able to get up close to my prints and examine the detail, a box frame would not allow this close interaction as the glass would act as a barrier.

 

Emma Critchley is a visiting professional to our course and previously gave a talk on her artwork before making herself available for tutorials on her work. She showed many installation shots of her work in the talk and this enabled me to really see how the work interacted and existed in the physical environment. She also explained that the creative process can either be impacted by the intended environment or the work itself can demand a specific type of space to be effective. Critchley’s work ‘Figures of Speech’ was an abstract investigation into the way communication is made and it is altered by a change of environment. Critchley photographed people speaking particular words underwater, capturing the release of air made with each element of speech.

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These images are displayed in a very clean, abstract style with no captioning or artist statement, the work stands alone within the exhibition alongside the other elements of the project. They are displayed in thin black frames, so as not to distract from the image content, working to merge into the black background of the image. The photograph evidences that the pieces also have a specific lighting set up, the spotlights proving the viewer with the ability to examine the images in more detail, however the glass could work to make the viewing experience less effective because of the glare. Without being at the exhibition myself I can’t criticise the choice of glass without seeing how the pieces react being in a spotlight. Lighting is definitely something I should consider when producing my pieces and picking the presentation method, as the background of my images is mainly black, having glass may make it harder for the viewer to see what is in the image. With Critchley’s images it doesn’t matter as much because the viewers don’t have to get very close to the pieces due to the size, however since my pieces are small the viewer would have to get closer, increasing the risk that they might not be able to see. However the use of the black frame is something I can definitely apply to my own project, if I was going to use a frame it would need to be dark to merge into the subject matter and not distract from the image content.

 

I was recommended to research the artists of the Carroll Fletcher gallery, as they experiment with concepts and issues centric to the digital revolution. The first I chose to research was Thomson and Craighead, who have produced many different pieces of work which have operated in both gallery spaces and online environments. They often adapt the pieces to suit the different environments which can help to extend the lifecycle of the project, their piece Beacon began as a gallery installation however now that the installation is over, a digital version is now featured on the Tate website.

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Online Version

 

Although the gallery version looks different from the online version it doesn’t necessarily mean that the project itself has changed or become less effective. It has simply had to adapt to suit different environments, the flip screen installation wouldn’t be able to operate online however it would have had a powerful physical resonance in the gallery space. The online web version wouldn’t have had such a great effect in the space of a gallery, but it does have the ability to withstand and exist continually whereas the gallery installation has a limited amount of time to make the statement. I need to consider the longevity of my own project and decide whether I need to make certain steps to adapt the project to exist out of the gallery space once the degree show and free range are both over. My project needs to be able to exist afterwards online to continue making the statement and also to improve my exposure as a photographer after the exhibitions have finished.

Another project from Thomson and Craighead is London W1W which was exhibited in the Museum of London in 2013, existing as a series of fly posters. The pieces consisted of a number of tweets, statuses and other social media activity over a specific portion of time which where then made into artwork and pasted on the wall in location.

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In contrast to the previous piece, this body of work is very perishable, only meant to exist for a short amount of time. These fly posters will only exist until new exhibitions are put over the top of it, they will either scraped off or painted over. This presentation method is extremely appropriate for the subject matter it is investigating, the limited life span of this project represents the fleeting nature of social media, each thread representing the raw thoughts of the user at a time. The idea of the piece having to be removed or painted over represents the individual trying to change their representation by removing the content they have chosen to share, however like with the physical piece of art work, there will always be a trace of that information left behind. Although this piece of work won’t last and be viewed continually like Beacon will be, this presentation method is extremely effective and works completely for the concept. This is definitely a different element I hadn’t considered before, when seeing how Beacon would continually be seen by audiences, something I believed I wanted for my project. However after being introduced to another form of presentation which is although limited in time, is proven to be more effective I have found I need to be open minded and respect what is right for my project, not just what would be good for exposure. Ultimately if the project isn’t effective, it won’t stay in the public eye for very long which would mean my profile as an artist and photographer would suffer as a result.

 

Constant Dullaart is another artist from the Carroll Fletcher gallery who works with highly digital concepts, the website of Dullaart is an artefact in itself with a self-scrolling device and a digitally  creative site heading and subject bar. Dullaart’s project’s work both in an online space and a gallery environment, similar to Thomson and Craighead’s Beacon, however there isn’t such a big alteration in the aesthetic and appearance. The piece of work ‘Jessica.ps’ was shown first as a gif which explored the transformation a photograph can make when it is highly edited; this is relevant because the original image was one of the first cases of Photoshopping to an extreme standard before. This is a reconstruction of the original however as there was an attempt to delete and destroy the image for good after the discovery.

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The piece was also adapted to also exist effectively in a gallery space, taking different stages of the editing process and displaying them as still images. Although the form of the project has changed, the original aesethetic is still very similar, allowing the viewer to relate to the project in pretty much the same way as they did before. The only difference is that they don’t see the project as a moving image feature, they view the stages in a slower time scale. I hadn’t previously considered trying to make my images into some other format to follow the exhibition however this is an aspect of my project I really need to make a decision about. whether my images only exist as images after the degree show and free range, or whether to change the nature of it to suit a different space. I probably won’t be able to exhibit again for a while and there is no great need to exhibit the project again following two major shows however I do want my project to exist online after the two different shows end. Therefore I need to think about how my project will currently operate in an online space and/or how to change it to make it more effective in a digital space. I could consider changing it into a gif, this would mean that all of my work is seen at once and none of the image are seen out of the context of the series. It also means that the viewer can make comparisons between the images throughout the course of the moving image piece, the fact that a gif is on loop will enable this comparison process to continue. However I wouldn’t be able to include the captions beside the actual images unless I used a different image file; one with the caption embedded or placed on a border around the content. Although gifs can be highly effective, this is clear from Dullaart’s work, I need to be able to justify that this option is appropriate for my project.

 

Reflection:

Overall the research I have done into presentation methods has been really useful, I have opened my mind up to new methods of presentation as well as ruling some of them out. I can appreciate how the different approaches are effective for each project however as the concepts are different to mine, I shouldn’t necessarily utilise them for my own work. I can however, keep them in mind when I next produce a body of work, as it may be that one of these methods I have researched would be perfect. The black frames from Emma Critchley’s work could be appropriate for my work however I am concerned about the glass and whether the glare would be too much. The fly poster approach is so effective for the concept Thomson and Craighead were investigating, but it isn’t effective for mine, I need to reflect that this project is a study of a moment in time, therefore it needs a sense of durability. One aspect both Thomson and Craighead and Dullaart brought my attention to, was the form my project should and would take after the exhibition time was over. I knew I wanted it to exist after the exhibition was over and that would most likely be in an online space, but I hadn’t put any thought into whether I should adapt the project and change it to suit a digital environment. However I now have some ideas to experiment with in relation to my exhibition and the life of my project afterwards which I will go on to pursue.

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