Fine Art

What is fine art?

Fine art is a broad art form that integrates a variety of disciplines from new media to installation and even performance.

When practising fine art it is important to consider a range of factors in order to create a well structured and thought provoking piece. The  formal elements, for example, are still relevant even when traditional drawing methods aren’t used as they still exist within all objects and materials that we do use.

If you keep an open mind the process of developing your work can can be a constant influence, something unexpected or accidental can take your work in a whole new direction. In some cases it’s the process itself, possibly captured through film and photography, that becomes the final piece.

When looking for inspiration you can draw from your individual experiences which not only makes your work personal but adds meaning. Some artists use politics and media, especially those making a statement, but your work could relate to something from your daily life that may seem mundane or trivial and yet still be effective.

Mapping Journeys

For this task we had to retrace one or all of our journeys whilst paying attention to details we would otherwise miss. This was in preparation for our final task of designing and constructing an installation. We were encouraged to collect objects, take photos, make rubbing’s, to sketch and to record our journeys in whatever way we could think of, but to also be selective and focus on the simpler smaller things instead of instantly thinking big. I think this was an excellent way to encourage our work to progress and develop from a smaller concept through to our larger finished piece, helping to refine our creative process.

It was difficult to not indulge the instant flood of ideas that entered my brain and to stop myself from focusing on ‘what would make a good installation…’ but in the end I was glad that I kept my mind open long enough to explore different avenues.

I began by retracing my journey from college to home, listening to music as I often do. Music influences a lot of my journeys, how quickly I walk, if I catch a bus or not, whether I walk a slightly longer route in order to fit in another song. This in itself seemed significant to me and so I logged the idea of incorporating the music into my work.

I tried to pay extra attention to where I was walking, hoping to notice something that I usually miss, however it was then that I began to realise how much I take in when I walk. I naturally examine the floor, taking note of cracks, wonky slabs, plants, surrounding buildings and signs. Because of this I began to struggle to pick up on anything that felt new or worthwhile.

Something that did draw my attention was the amount of abandoned items, mainly furniture like mattresses, chest of drawers, clothing. These were all things that I have seen before and acknowledged, as I have been known to find some rather useful and amazing things in back alleys and taken them home with me, but I felt like this could be relevant to the project as waste is something that I feel quite passionate about. I decided to take photos of the items so I could refer back to them for the next project.

As well as abandoned items I began to notice how much litter there was which is something else that frustrates me as I find it to be unnecessary, selfish and lazy. It made me wonder if I could use these ugly crisp packets and empty cans that were cluttering the streets, bushes and gardens, to make something beautiful.

I also came across some intriguing images, one was a replication of the pattern of a railing, as it was indented into the pavement bellow the railing I was interested to know how it had come about and so I took a picture along with one of some mysterious marks on a pole.

By this point I felt like I had enough scope to help initiate my thought process and begin working towards a final idea. I browsed my pictures and bits of rubbish I had collected and thought through the various avenues I could go down.

One idea was to compile a sculpture from the trash I had found, turning something ugly into something beautiful. Another was a series of images of abandoned but useful/functioning items with again, some kind of sculpture made from said items.

I finally decided to revisit the concept of incorporating music into my work, it was then that I realised that the one thing I hadn’t thought of trying was to try my journey without it. When I did I discovered that what I don’t normally experience are the sounds around me and the more I realised this the more amplified the sounds became, crunching leaves, car engines, even my creaky back gate.

It was at this pointed I concluded to create and atmospheric experience, I wanted to record and play these sounds whilst using lamps, stencils and shadows to enhance it.

I spent a day attempting my stencil/lamp concept but eventually realised that it simply would not work in the time that I had. I ended up not showing my work that day but looking back I could have kept it simple and used just the recording.

I cannot upload the sound file to this blog due to compatibility issues but I shall display the dictaphone with my final work for assessment.



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.

Land Art

Land art came about as a movement in the late 60’s as a way for artists to protest the convention of art galleries and to express their frustration with the political and social upset of the time. As the work was not confined to an inside space they were often large scale projects, installed and interlinked within there surroundings, rather then just adding a sculpture or other artwork into a contrasting environment. Land art promotes using organic matter that coincides with the existing landscape and encourages the disuse of plastics and other man made materials normally used in art that can be harmful to the environment. Rather then work that could be bought and sold it was a new take on a once very commercial industry, challenging the way people viewed art. Land art  is a way of using natural resources to enrich a space. Prominent artists from this movement include Nancy Holt, Richard Long, Robert Smithson and Christian Jean – Claude.

This is a piece by Nancy Holt called sun tunnels. The image below is not the most visually stunning of the land art pieces I have come across but the thought and intricacy that has gone into it is what caught my attention. Each tunnel has carefully drilled holes matching specific constellations as well as the tunnels being aligned with the sunrise an sunset of the summer and winter solstice. Although these tunnels  stand out from their surroundings they are simultaneously working with the environment.

Robert Smithsons Spiral Jetty was created in 1970 but despite it’s age and the fact it is sometimes submerged in water and sometimes exposed it is still intact and there for people to see. A spiral is a simple shape, one that I like many people I’m sure will use when doodling, but in this setting is a far more impressive image which works well alongside the similarly curvy landscape and the contrast of the stillness of the sea.