The Way Things Go

For our first assignment we had to work in a group of around ten to get a marble or ping pong ball to move 3 foot using various materials. This project was inspired by Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s collaborative project ‘The way things go’ or in German ‘Der Laufder Dinge’ from 1987. The artists harnessed the energy of twisted cord and a bin bag to initiate an entire sequence of objects to move, burn and react with each other.

I think this was an appropriate task for our second day in college as it forced us to interact and get to know each other as well as see what ourselves and other people could bring to the group. In the same way the Fischli and Weiss did we collaborated with other artists.

It was a daunting task to begin with especially when working with new people and not knowing who was comfortable with what role. A few of us tried kicking things off and so we got started.

We decided to begin by gathering materials as this seemed like a sensible place to start and also in case the best stuff was taken by other groups. Each person who had found an item had come up with an at least vague idea of what we could use it for and so this helped us form a rough outline of our structure. Then there was the list of criteria that had to be covered such as the marble or ping pong ball turning left and right, making  a mark, making a noise, change of speed and going up; half of us discussed this and how we could incorporate these things whilst the other researched other artists who had also done similar work. We managed to get the marble to go up by creating such a powerful down motion by rolling it through a diagonally placed tube that it could go up a slope, the sound from it dropping into a tin like material and the turns by using a round plastic casing to guide the ball

As we neared completion and with most the criteria met we decided we wanted to make it more interesting.  One group member who had been researching had come across a YouTube video where they had done a similar thing using the vibrations of a mobile phone. We thought this would be a great way to start of the process as it meant the movement of the ball could be initiated without us touching it at all. Unfortunately though it didn’t see to work with the phones we had as it is the older models that tend to vibrate hard enough to cause that much movement.

Another thing we tried which worked during our practice runs was to have the marble go through a plastic casing we had found then just as it comes out have it stopped by hitting into a cardboard tunnel. Inside this tunnel was the ping pong ball which after the cardboard was hit by the marble was nudged and the rolled into a plastic tray. The idea was that the marble would go in and the ping pong ball would come out without people seeing the change over making it more interesting to watch. Also for the making a mark part of the task the ping pong ball was covered in paint which then splattered onto a piece of paper in the tray.

In hindsight if we had each had a more specific piece of the criteria to work on each then perhaps our structure could have been more elaborate. There were members of the group who were a lot more withdrawn and less comfortable getting stuck in and despite our efforts to include them didn’t seem interested. Perhaps if we all felt more comfortable this wouldn’t have been the case. After seeing the structures made by other groups we also realised how small and restricted we had made it. This could have been due to our workspace and the fact it was slightly smaller making us think smaller with our project. We could have also used a better range of materials in order to make it more interesting.

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Introuduction to Photoshop

I was really looking forward to working with Photoshop as it is something I have been eager to learn about for sometime now and can see it being and integral part of my future work. I felt that the way it was shown to us, taking us through various tools step by step by constructing a potato head, was a good way to get to grips with the program and gave me a lot of confidence to expand on that in the near future.

After opening up a file of a potato we were shown how to remove the background with the aid of the magic wand tool:

Magic wand tool > click background > shift and click for more background > edit > fill > background > color > white

Screen shot 2013-09-12 at 10.05.30

And then just for fun I chose pattern instead of color and jazzed it up

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Next we had to add eyes to our potato so we opened up the file with the eye image in

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To get the eye ready to place on the potato we had to use the crop tool:

Crop > click and drag to the right size

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No we had to select the eye:

Magic wand > click background > shift and click around the eyes circumference > select > inverse

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Then to get the eye onto the potato:

Move tool > drag up to file with potato

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Then we adjusted the size and rotation:

Edit > free transform > use arrows to modify eye

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To duplicate:

Free transform > right click > copy > exit free transform > paste

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Now for the nose, as we were taking the nose away from the moustache which had detail to it we couldn’t just use the magic wand tool, instead we had to use the quick mask tool:

Command and + to zoom for more accuracy

Quick mask > paint brush > brush over area to be selected > unselected quick mask > area will be selected

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Then as we did for the eye we use the move tool to get it onto the potato

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Then we used free transform to make it fit. To get a mouth we searched through Google images and picked the one we wanted and used the magic wand and move tool to get it onto the potato

Screen shot 2013-09-12 at 11.59.44

Then repeated what I had learned to add a hat…

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And then a body…

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Overall I enjoyed the session and am looking forward to using what I’ve learned as well as developing my knowledge to complete more complex tasks.

Performance Art

Performance art is hard to describe as it does not follow any rules, there are however a few guidelines that can help to define this medium. To begin with it features the artist themselves, usually with props and sometimes accompanied by others. It can include any combination of light, video, sound or other art materials as part of the piece. It could be considered to be similar to theatre but unlike traditional theatre there is no definite narrative. Instead it  is composed as a sequence of events that although are generally predetermined can also become improvised and even sometimes dependent on the interaction and reaction of the audience. A key part of performance theatre is the use of symbolism which is the basis of most pieces.

Performance art is primarily used as a mouthpiece to convey an opinion, challenge perceptions, oppose a political view point or to generally provoke a reaction. Although aspects of Performance Art date back to the early 19th and 20th century within music, art, poetry and burlesque it was in the 1960’s when political unrest arose that it was truly embraced. Women in particular used it as a podium to break down the barriers surrounding their gender and sexuality, often displaying their naked body or in the instance of Yoko Ono have members of the audience cut off her clothes until they got to her bra.

An excellent example of symbolism within performance art is the piece ‘Violent’ by Sinead O’Donnel. Here she uses a stack of plates that tower above her head and then crash to the floor as a symbol of our fragile lives. She used the series ‘Violent’ to explore the use of the word and how saying it can have as much of an impact as an act of violence itself. She describes how for her it was “a way of depicting a past experience of domestic violence combined with living in a society surrounded by violence”

Sinead has a varied educational background which covers sculpture, textiles, visual performance and time based practices. This has no doubt added depth and to her work but it was further enriched by her travelling which she feels has left her with broad cultural perceptions. Sinead has gone on to use these skills and experiences to become a reputable performance and installation artist using photography, film, text and collage to record her work . She explores the relationships between parallels by initiating scenarios that highlight and challenge their differences.

Although Sinead is successful in her field and explores subjects and issues that are of interest to me I find a lot of her work too hard to read and so not all that enjoyable. I think that I don’t fully appreciate performance art as I don’t like to be kept waiting for something to happen which is a part of a lot of the pieces I have seen so far. I prefer to have a noticeable direction, more of a flow to be able to feel entertained otherwise I am easily bored. Because of my dislike for performance art I decided to challenge myself, making it my mission to find at least one piece that I did like. In the end I managed to find two although the second was a piece I had already been made aware of but had not previously looked at it in the context of performance art. They are definitely different from what I had already been researching and are perhaps borderline as to whether they fit within the performance art category but I feel that they have qualities that justify them being a part of this art form.

This 6 hour piece from Hip-Hop rapper Jay Z took place in a New York art gallery which was then filmed and edited into a nearly 11 minute study of the performance. When talking about the video entitled ‘Picasso Baby an Art Performance’ the rapper describes how when performing on stage he takes in the crowds energy whereas in the close proximity of the art gallery and with the interactive nature of the project it is more of an exchange of energies. He goes on to say how he went into the performance with no expectations and with the attitude of whatever happens, happens. In this way he is very similar to many other performance artists who like to use improvisation as part of their work. I think what I most enjoyed about it was how it welcomed interaction with the audience, using their presence to dictate the outcome. Unlike the other other art performances I have seen so far it appeared to have a more positive and upbeat atmosphere and by the end everyone involved seemed to have absorbed a part of this atmosphere, taking it with them as they left. My understanding is that the reason behind Picasso Baby an Art Performance was an attempt to re emerge the boundaries between hip-hop and art. Jay Z talked about the piece saying how when hip hop was underground artists and hip hop artists would party together “the truth is, as far as hip-hop and arts, we were like cousins” but then as art moved into the galleries and hip-hop moved onto the radio the two separated. Overall I thought it was a talented piece of work that brought together people of all ages, races, backgrounds and people from various industries including fashion and film. It gave them all a common purpose and they appeared to find it an uplifting and positive experience.

This next piece was instigated as a social experiment by The Washington Post about perception taste and priorities. They placed famous violinist Joshua Bell, who had a sell out concert in Boston with seats selling at $100 each just two days before, in a busy subway. He played some of the most intricate pieces ever written on his $3.5 million violin whilst thousands of people hurried by, too busy to stop and listen. While a few people gave him a minute or so of their time the most attention he received was from a 3 year old boy who was then hurried along by his mother. In total he received a mere $32 from just 20 people. I consider this to be performance art as it not only makes a powerful statement about our society and how easily context can change our perception but it does it by proving it’s own point. As is the nature of performance art it would have definitely changed the way many people think and possibly treat others by challenging what they consider to be the norm – I am sure that the people involved now view buskers in a whole new light. Not only was it effective at making a statement, the music itself was beautiful to listen to and in my opinion was only enhanced by the contrast of the setting it was played in.