Urban Void- The Degree Show

After four years of University, sixteen years in education as a whole, I am finally finished with this chapter of my life. This degree has given me a lot and, after an incredibly stressful final week, the madness came to a sudden halt. And that was it.

It was difficult coming to terms with the contradiction of filling a gallery space to represent emptiness but once I was able to get into my allocated space and clear it out it was much easier to imagine the final concept.

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Painting the walls and scrubbing the floors came next, providing me with a blank canvas to create my urban void.

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Soon after this I hung the frames in geographical order relating to where they are in Dundee, with differing heights and spacing, and placed my 3D prints in between these to represent the life between the voids. I was then able to apply my shaving foam and PVA glue mixture to the walls. I knew this part would transform my blank space into an empty void full of history and memories. The foam took a lot longer to apply than I had originally thought, mostly because I had underestimated the size of my space until all of the desks and chairs had been removed. I covered all three walls in foam, making sure all edges of the frames and 3D prints were covered to appear as though they melt into the textured wall. By manipulating the walls I hope to encourage my viewers to come in close and wonder what this texture is. While doing this, I hope they then are inclined to look closely at the blank frames to uncover the blind embossings of forgotten Dundee.

The TV was last to be displayed, and after deciding against creating a white frame for the monitor and choosing to cover the edges in white electrical tape in stead, I ended up leaving the TV just as it is. This was due to the tape creating air bubbles and not looking as neat as I had hoped so I decided to not hide the fact that this is a television and that I had no choice in the colour. The monitor is displayed next to the blind embossing of the same setting as the fashion film and will be in the viewers field of vision while they watch. I decided to use headphones to give more of an intimate experience allowing my visitors to hear sounds from jute mill machines as well as my Grandmother singing ‘The Jute Mill Song’.

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My shaving foam monster appears on a white plinth alongside my guideline of my space, including my statement of practice, that I will hand out to viewers at the degree show. This guideline provides the names of my work and describes the concept behind my display to allow the viewers to understand where the urban voids are and to conjure up their own memories of this land.

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I understand that during degree show, especially the opening night, people may rub against my textured wall and cause it to fall off, just as it did when I was fixing some areas. I have decided just to accept this, let the foam fall and to just leave it there. I feel like this may be of interest to viewers giving them an idea of what the texture on the wall is making it less of a mystery.

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And that’s a wrap. Four years of hard work, discovering myself as an artist and changing the way I think and see the world, all over. The course has been very mentally draining but stimulating and has definitely helped me become a self-motivated and confident worker. I am excited to enter the world of work and put my creative skills to good use, I am raring to go! Come visit the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design Degree Show 19th-28th May 2017 to experience my finished work in all its glory alongside the rest of my amazing year!

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New Things and a Change of Mind

After continually working on developing my blind embossing and my film I needed a change of pace, at least for a little while. I started doing more research on urban voids in Dundee to see if I could come across something that I had not before. After finding my way onto the governments website a found a file that is very relative to my project, a map of Dundee that highlights the cities derelict and vacant land.

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At first I was a little frustrated about not finding this map sooner due to having to scour the city myself to find these bare areas of land. However after thinking about it, I am glad I did not have this map. Finding the land by myself was a big part of my process and my concept, I was looking for and uncovering what I and other members of the public usually ignore. Being told where it is took away the challenge of finding the land for myself and noticing the unnoticed. It was difficult when I set out as I often did not know where to start but it made it even more spectacular when discovering this forgotten land.

I did want to use this map though as I could not ignore it relevance to my project. I decided to use the map as a template and mark out the shape of Dundee along with the empty land it holds. I decided to laser cut this design onto mdf and turn it into a blind embossing, just like my framed prints. I love the marks made and it really shows the abundance of forgotten land in a fairly small city which does not just lie in the poorer districts, but all over Dundee. The sites that I chose to look at when making my series of urban void blind embossing are also from all around Dundee and I will show this when displaying them in geographical order, highlighting that even those living in affluent areas can forget about their empty land.

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After framing my aforementioned urban voids blind embossing, I was unsure on the colour of the molding. I had opted for natural wood but, when imagining my completely white space, I felt like natural wood but stick out too much and the viewer would be concentrating on the frame rather than the print. To solve this, I framed another print using off-white paint so as not to make the print look less white to compare against the natural wood frame. I found this to be a lot more successful and tested how the frame would look against a shaving foam covered wall. I feel like you can see the frame enough to know it is not trying to blend into the space and it will still draw people in to see what is inside the frame. I just have to work out how to properly photograph my framed prints without glare and to get the detail from the embossing.

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I have also been considering what to do with my digital drawings of urban voids that I used to create my blind embossing. I wanted to develop these images as I enjoy the aesthetic of them and was interested in where I could take them. I printed these images on acetate and decided it would be interesting to see how these would look as screen prints on canvas. All white screen prints are very hard to make as they are difficult to see, as I found out at the start of 4th year. to solve this I mixed burnt umber with white ink to create an off-white colour that still keeps in with the same white tones but is visible. I created one print on canvas and left it as is, and printed one more which I then sprinkled dried shaving foam that I scraped off from my studio wall (you can find out more about this technique here https://laurendailly12.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/foam-canvas-development/). My plan is to screen print all of my urban void images and perhaps try to sell these at the degree show.

After researching the jute mills that once stood at the site of my fashion film, I decided to research what used to be at the land of my other urban voids in the same era. I was surprised to see how many of these areas were home to jute and textile mills, while some held no buildings at all.

I printed the maps from the 1900s onto jute to bring the history of this land alive and to fill the urban void.

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After hanging my foam canvases on top of the jute I wanted to find a way to relate the two textures together. I have always loved the swirling shape that shaving foam creates when directly sprayed out of a can, so I decided to mimic this shape with jute. The completely different materials are made strangely alike by creating a relationship between the two through form.

I decided to try this out with the previously printed jute as well to see how this would alter the relationship. I love how the material bares the image void while the white shaving foam creates the feeling of the void, both of which join together to produce the concept of my degree show. The history of the void will be uncovered.

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Exhibition Inspiration and Degree Show Space Allocation

The allocation of my space for the degree show really brought home that there is only 2 months left of uni. Not just this, but in less than 2 months I will be displaying my work to thousands of people for the first time ever. I am desperate to make my space visually enticing to compete with all of the amazing artists and designers who will also be displaying their work at the degree show. However, I will be enticing my audience with the notion of emptiness. My allocated degree show space, shown below, is perfect for my concept. I imagine an all white  space that feels empty so having a contained space with 3 walls is the perfect way to create this. I want the audience to feel the void and on closer inspection, discover that there is so much more there than initially thought.

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I have been researching exhibitions that concentrate on the unseen, a classic example being Yves Kleins’ The Void in 1957. People waited for hours to enter an empty gallery in which Klein claimed to hold his artistic sensibility, which cannot be seen or felt but is there all the same. I also came across the multi-artist exhibition Invisible: Art About the Unseen 1957-2012 at Hayward Gallery. The gallery contained all-white canvases including Tom Friedman’s’ 1000 Hours of Staring, a blank piece of paper. Andy Warhol displayed a plinth on which he once stood, showing the presence of the artist and also the absence. I hope to create a space that shows the unseen, the urban voids that are overlooked and the memory of this land that has been forgotten. It is up to the audience to come into the space, to look and to feel.

 

I recently visited Edinburgh with my uni friends to see the RSA contemporaries exhibition featuring last year graduates from DJCAD and other Scottish universities. I found it funny how I was not only looking at the work itself, but how it was displayed; whether it was framed, the colour of the frames, how they displayed video work etc. I do not normally concentrate on these aspects when visiting a gallery but as I am nearing the end of my degree and close to degree show set up these thoughts were very much on my mind. It was amazing to see the different mediums used and the interesting ways they were displayed. I enjoy how Alison Wright’s photographs above how been displayed in a scattered manner while Lucy Wayman’s mop sculpture interacts with its audience as they walk between it just like Tamara Richardson’s plastic sheets.

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As I too will be presenting a film, I found it fascinating looking at the different ways these graduates presented theirs. Below left shows Clara Hastrup’s film shown as two projections with a seating area for its audience. This was an amazing film for the senses and I loved that the audience were given a specific area to watch the film. Natalie Howlett uniquely displayed a video projection on a cut out of the woman who was being projected which added to the clinical and unemotional feeling of her work.

After trying out projections for myself, I decided that a monitor would show my film in a more successful way. I was paying close attention at the RSA for how their monitors were displayed. Elaine Ang presented her film on the floor which changed the relationship between the viewer and the work as they looked down on it. I am planning on building a frame for my monitor as the ones available to me are all black and this might ruin my all white space, so seeing this framed film piece was a handy experience.

Framing was also something I was focusing on when at the RSA, especially Eleanor Elks Herrmannsen’s white frames. After taking part in the framing workshop and making a wood coloured frame, I decided that a white frame would be more successful in my space. I have made one frame white to compare against the wood coloured frame and I have found the white one to work better with my prints.

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While in Edinburgh we visited a few more exhibitions that were currently showing. One of my favourites was Mark Wallingers exhibition that is showing in two parts, one in the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh and one in the DCA, Dundee. This picture is from the fruitmarket gallery, the artist makes his mark while also writing his own name.

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The DCA provided me with lots of inspiration on how to display film. Projections, hung on a wall, multiple monitors in a round, monitors propped on their side. I just have to work out what is best for my film and the space that I am in but it was amazing to see how successful artists like Mark Wallinger show their work.

 

While visiting a 3rd year illustration student exhibition in Duncan of Jordanstone called Chaos & Order I was intrigued by not just the work, but the presentation of this work. They had a few display tables containing sketchbooks, drawings and other bits and pieces. The display table I have been working with (shown here https://laurendailly12.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/film-as-a-piece-of-art/) is a lot more robust and I feel like these ones would work better in my ’empty’ degree show. I am currently trying to gain access to these tables but I am also in two minds. I do not want to clutter my exhibition as I want it to feel empty so I am not yet sure if I want to have a display table in my space. There is still lots to think about but I have found it very rewarding taking time out to view exhibitions and gain an insight into successful ways to showcase artwork.

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Display is Key

After creating my fashion film it was vital that I thought about how I would display it. Monitor? Projection? Multi-screen? These aspects would be key to the success of my degree show. I have considered each option and changed my mind between these a few times while planning my degree show proposal, but I will display my current findings next week. For now, it was time to decide on what to do with my costumes.

After attending an artists talk at St. Andrews University by DJCAD graduate Lucy McKenzie, I was inspired to combine fashion with fine art. Lucy McKenzie alongside Beca Lipscombe created a fashion line that is displayed as though in a gallery, making the clothes tell a story.

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I decided to hang my costumes on the gate at the land I shot my fashion film to test out how successful this would look. I love how the white costumes create their own void on the gate and create an empty and eerie atmosphere. I enjoy that these costumes represent how the city has moved on and the reason that this land is empty. As a jute mill once stood here, the fall of the jute industry came after the invention of new materials, of which one was the fibres that make up Tyvek. The costumes have come back to show their dominance over the forgotten land and to display their importance and usefulness in the modern world.

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While considering what to do with the display, I thought about creating a replica of the gate for my degree show to hang the costumes on. I spoke with the technician in the metal workshop at my university who informed me that making such a gate would be very costly. I would also have to think about how it would stand or whether I should have it attached to the wall. After lots of research, I decided against both making the gate and displaying the costumes. I feel like my film will say enough without needing the costumes to be in the space. I do not want to overly clutter my installation as the main idea is to represent the emptiness of the land and to make my audience to feel this emptiness. It is very difficult to create work that provokes the feeling of nothingness but this is something I am currently working on. As the proposal is due next week and the allocating of our degree show spaces due at the end of the month, I will keep updating on changes to my display and how I plan to create my urban void.

Dundee Urban Void Collection

After shooting my fashion film at the urban void in Lochee, Dundee, I decided to set myself a challenge to find as many urban voids in Dundee as possible. I searched the streets for derelict areas in urban environments and wanted to capture not only the land, but the urban area around it that is constantly passed by pedestrians and vehicles. I originally edited the images giving them a blue hue to create an empty, quiet and sad atmosphere. However, after further editing of my fashion film I decided to make the photographs whiter to coincide with my monochrome work and relate to voids themselves which are often seen as being blank, white spaces.

I have used these images to create a photo album of the urban voids in Dundee. I hope not to highlight what Dundee does not have, but what it once had. My audience who view the photos should be reminded of what was once in the empty lands place and are filled with nostalgic feelings of life before the void, just as they would feel nostalgic over their own family photo albums.

Blue hue urban voids

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White urban voids

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The Dundee Urban Void Collection photo album

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Degree Show Plan

It’s been a tough start to the week with the degree show proposal due on Wednesday. It felt like all of a sudden I need to know exactly what my degree show will be like, without any work completed. I went between wanting a dark room, then wanting a light room to display my work. It is all feeling very real right now. I initially showed my tutor my idea to create a room where the viewer is taken into the urban void. My plan was to have a dark room and project onto each wall the different viewpoints of the urban void at the Stack Lesuire Park, the site of my fashion film. The idea of creating an immersive room came from the discovering of Chris Engmans work. He creates rooms that take the outside indoors and makes the audience feel like they are in a completely different place.

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I thought about projecting onto a wall covered in foam and decided to take out a projector to see how successful this could be. I discovered that the foam took away a lot of the detail of the image so I decided against this idea.

Specifying a dark room could be really limiting to any future work I create from now until my degree show so I took time to think, write and find out what it is that I want to say. I looked through my sketchbooks from the very beginning to capture what I wanted from the start. The whole idea of the void came from my love of white work against the white walls of the gallery space and the emptiness it conveys. I decided to scrap the idea of taking my audience into the urban void and I will take them into the white void instead.

Going back to the roots of the project, I plan on creating a completely white space that seems empty on first entering. I will be drawing on the modern gallery’s set up of ‘the white cube’ (https://www.artsy.net/artsyeditorial3516) to create this empty world. The walls of the gallery space will be covered in shaving foam, a texture I have found that excites and entices anyone who comes into my studio. I hope this will draw my audience in to the space where they will watch my fashion film. The film will emit sounds from the jute mills, the history of the urban void that is the setting for the film. On another wall, my blind embossings of urban voids will be displayed in frames (blog post to come). These embossings seem like blank pieces of paper at first, but on closer inspection they show images of urban voids in Dundee. I hope these embossings will also draw my audience in and make them notice the land that they usually walk right past.

Inspired by Park Seo-Bo, I have been working on canvases with shaving foam and playing with patterns, levels and textures. Parks gallery spaces feel empty, but hold a lot of thoughts and skill in the canvases. I hope to create the same effect with my blind embossings. I believe that the shaving foam works best applied straight onto the wall rather than the canvases, but I am going to continue create different canvases to further develop my skills.

 

So for now this is where I am, a drawing of a possible room and possible artwork that may fill (or empty) that room. I will continue to develop consisting work and possibly create new work that may make an appearance in my degree show. Although the proposal has been handed in, it does not mean that changes cannot be made. May is still a while off so keep reading to find out what else I create.

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The Void

‘A bit of nothing- but more nothing-much than nothing-ness’ – David Batchelor

When there is a space of emptiness in our landscape, it is often seen as a void. Areas of white space placed in our environment are viewed as the same. A deep hole of nothing that can make us uneasy. When describing a void, we usually think of a quiet space outwith the city such as fields, lakes or outer space. My development with this phenomenon has resulted in me looking into voids in our urban landscape and how they silence an area that would normally be bustling.

This silence is where my two ideas from my previous blog post combine. The silent nothingness that white space brings to every day urban life connects to the silence I believe a life devoid of colour would create for someone suffering from Achromatopsia. We cannot describe a void using language, only silence, we also cannot describe colour using language to someone who has never seen it. Its an experience that needs to be seen and felt.

I was inspired by David Batchelors’ ‘Found Monochromes’- a series of photographs of white squares and rectangles that he has found in urban areas.

Batchelor states, “I often feel that abstract art is the art of the city and that the monochrome is its exemplary form”. Monochromes are seen as simple but as Yves Klein proved in blue and Batchelor in white, they are quite complex. His photographs display blank spaces that are out of place and detached from their surroundings, but are very much temporary. ‘Like errors in the visual fabric that have to be corrected’, they seem unnatural  and have to be painted over to put people at ease.

The following is a selection of photographs that I have taken in urban environments where I have felt silence and emptiness in the heart of the city. Urban voids, urban silence.

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Finishing off with a recent find I was inspired by while walking through town. I discovered voids in a street that I travel down quite often. South Tay Street in Dundee has many grills on its pavements that I literally walk right over and have never taken notice of before. They provide a little bit of nothing, an emptiness to the walkway that often gets overlooked. A little void amongst a concrete jungle.

I was inspired by David Batchelor’s ‘Found Monochromes’ to make my own white voids. I used circular paper plates as this is the shape we relate voids in outer space to be and placed them in empty urban areas. I found these ‘placed monochromes’ mimicked the silence of the forgotten land among busy areas and drew the attention of those who passed by to the land they usually ignore. I left the voids for a few days and when I returned each one was gone and the empty land reverted back into a forgotten urban void.

4th and Final Year – The Beginning

Its finally here, my last ever year of university and less than a year until my own degree show. 4th always seemed like a lifetime away but it has crept up so quickly it is terrifying.

So I have been thinking about what to create for my degree show and the work that has appealed to me from previous shows. I believe it makes sense for me to create work that I enjoy to see when I visit art exhibitions. At the previous DJCAD degree show there was a piece that really jumped out at me. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the name of the piece or the artist but I did get a picture.

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Shoes were covered in white paint and attached to a white wall. Each shoe represented five people that had gone missing in Fife the previous year. I love the idea behind representing lost people as lost shoes, but more so I loved that it was all in white. Artwork that is completely white is very appealing to me, perhaps it could be the cleanliness of it, the simplicity, the purity, or it could be the question that arises as to why the colour has been removed.

So at this early stage, I have decided to look into work that looks at the presence of white, the monochrome.I believe white work is not a lack of colour, but creates a world that is too cool for colour. It is emptiness, but also a space for limitless potential. So it is this potential that I am trying to hone in on.

As a side note I decided to read up on colour blindness. My boyfriend is colour blind, so using The Ishihara Test I was able to diagnose him to have Deuteranopia (green blindness).

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A plate from The Ishiara Test, people with colour deficiencies find it difficult to read the number 74.

Using an app called the Chromatic Vision Simulator, I was able to upload a picture of my boyfriend and see the world through his eyes. Left: normal vision. Right: Deuteranopia.

However, it is Achromatopsia that I have been concentrating on. This is a rare deficiency whereby the person cannot see any colour at all. I am very intrigued by the way life would look without colour. How would our every day life look without colour? How can we describe colour to someone who has never seen it? Does a lack of colour create an emptiness in their life?

There is a lot of research to be done, still a lot of confusion as to what I want to do which scares me but is probably good at this stage as I want to keep my mind open. So for now I will continue to research the world in white and see what other ideas I come up with. Stay tuned!