Category Archives: STUDIO PRACTICES

Installation Preparation & Set-up

My tutors had allowed me to use one of the small upstairs rooms in PCA’s Studio 11.  The room was quite small at approximately 2.5m by 1.85m, however I felt this would be adequate for my installation and would give a more intimate, secure environment and less intimidating than a large open space.

I decided to repaint all of the walls white because although the room would be unlit  (allowing the projected film to be easily viewed), it would still be light enough for the table and chairs to be visible.

I also filled and sanded any gaps, covered any unused plug sockets with masking tape and painted and cleaned off the ceiling tiles.  I was happy with the standard ceiling tiles being present because they were something you would possibly find in a classroom anyway.

There was a problem with the floor as there was a stain which kept reappearing after paint application.  I thought about possible ways to get around the stained floor – one of which was to put down a carpet.  The carpet would be the kind of cheap, rough, corded, primary coloured carpet one might find in a classroom.  I thought this would again help to set the mood of the installation in that the audience would hopefully recognize the type of carpet used and perceive it to being classroom/school related.

After pricing up carpet I realized that I would have to get a much larger amount than required because it came on a 4m roll and would prove more costly than anticipated.  Also, I considered whether the use of a brand new carpet would compliment the older desk and chairs.  I decided not to use carpet after all and instead painted the floor grey.  The grey floor worked well and gave a stone or concrete affect which I was happy with and reminded of visiting historical villages and estates where there would be small classrooms with old wooden furniture and cold stone flooring.

Morwellham Quay Historic Port Village, Image of classroom with stone flooring. Image available at: http://www.morwellham-quay.co.uk/index.php?route=product/category&path=91_81
Morwellham Quay Historic Port Village, Image of classroom with stone flooring. Image available at: http://www.morwellham-quay.co.uk/index.php?route=product/category&path=91_81

With regard to the desk and chairs, I placed the desk in the far left corner at an angle.  I didn’t want it to be typically forward facing as it would be in a classroom.  Instead, I wanted the desk to take on a sense of animism – to become a living soul so to speak even though it was an inanimate object.  The desk already had a sense of history and with its original scribbles and etchings from children over the last few decades (1950s desk). My view of the desk was that it had ‘lived’ through many childhood experiences and possibly held the secrets and stories of the children who had sat at this desk and placed their belongings inside.  I angled the desk in the corner to give a sense of vulnerability and thought this could be comparable to a child being asked to stand in the corner of the class after misbehaving.

The two school chairs were placed at the opposite wall/corner to the desk to allow for two audience members to sit and watch the film if they wished to do so.  The chairs seemed to be for older children, whereas the desk seemed to be for infants.  I felt this would work well, as it would again give the desk a sense of vulnerability when compared to the larger school chairs and the audience looking on.

Below is a rough plan I drew out to give an idea of how the room would be set up (drawn to scale).  As one can see, the electric socket was on the back wall.  I had to use grips to hold the white extension cable in place along the right-hand wall to the projector. The cable was slightly visible but not distracting, however the smaller cable of the projector was black and quite noticeable – I may paint this white for PCA’s summer show.

Basic plan of installation. Image by Helanie Moore
Basic plan of installation. Image by Helanie Moore
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Film Editing

For editing the footage together, I used Final Cut Pro – an editing suite I had used previously.

Th editing process was possibly one of the most stressful and frustrating tasks I have ever undertaken since I started my course at PCA.  I had four different clips of footage to edit together and although this probably sounds simple, it was anything but. Below is a list of problems and solutions I faced during this process:

  • Newton’s Cradle:

As mentioned in an earlier post, the cradle only worked for about 10 seconds before slowing down.  I needed to create at least 3minutes of a continuous ticking motion for my film.  The process included clipping the film at a certain point when the cradle was in motion and looping it so it would continuously tick.  Although this sounds fairly easy, it was not – simple because I had to clip and loop the footage at an exact point so that there would be no irregularity in the ticking rhythm or timing – even if there was the tiniest percent of a second out, it was noticeable.  Also, although the cradle ticked for 10seconds, the first few seconds were quicker than the last few seconds which also caused problems because I did not want the cradle to slow down and speed up again when looping the footage.

  • Frames per second issues:

The iphone footage of the walking was 29.97 frames per second, whereas the rest of the footage was 25 frames per second.  Although Final Cut Pro should not have a problem converting the frames per second, unfortunately the program didn’t seem to like it and kept crashing.

  • 16:9 widescreen or 4:3 standard:

I had initially thought that I would probably need to edit in 4:3, however I was advised by a peer and tutor that it would probably be better in 16:9.  However, when I edited it in 16:9 and projected it toward the school desk lid, it did not cover the entire lid.  I therefore had to re-edit to 4:3 standard size screen.

  • Brightness and Contrast:

Again, this should have been fairly straight forward but as there were several different films, I had to adjust the contrast/brightness in each so that they would compliment each other well.

  • Cross Fade:

This should have also been an easy task but for some reason some of the clips would not allow the cross fade effect across two clips (I sought help from tutors and I.T. assistants in LRC but nobody could understand why it wouldn’t work).  I ended up having to cross fade out one clip to black and cross fade the next from black.

  • Exporting movie:

When I exported the film to a Quicktime Movie, some frames would drop and cause a pixilation. I had to edit the film several times before it exported correctly.

  • Rendering clips/film:

The rendering process was extremely lengthy – sometimes taking 30minutes to render 2mins of edited film which meant I could not watch it back or check it was edited correctly until it was rendered. I had to render footage every time I made a change so that I was only waiting  7minutes each time instead of longer.

 

 

Artist as Curator – Reflection on Studio Practice

During the last year, I have tried to find a balance between my studio artistic practice and my curatorial practice.  My knowledge of curatorial practices has grown significantly in recent months under the guidance of my tutor Edith Doove and I have done my utmost to develop my skills in this field – particularly with regard to my own arts practice.

In my most recent studio project I have tried to take an objective look at how my work is displayed to allow for wider audience interpretation.  Quite often I have had a tendency to produce somewhat personal and subjective work which perhaps can shut off members of the public. However, my aim is to make my work accessible to a wider demographic in terms of being able to relate or connect to the pieces.

Furthermore, the curatorial aspect has made me consider how small distractions and unnecessary clutter can change the context and meaning of the work.  With this in mind, I have tried to limit the amount of equipment used in my CURA300 project.  I wish to keep the work as simple as possible so that audience members can focus on just a view elements at one time without having a visual overload.  With my video installation I used a small projector and although I may have been wise to try to disguise it, it was much more preferable than a larger projector, laptop and speakers.  The room for my video installation is quite small, so it was important to limit the amount of objects placed within the space.  (https://helaniemoore.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/856/)

It had been suggested that I remove the door of the room and replace with a curtain to allow for easier access to the room.  I can appreciate this comment as I would want as many people as feasibly possibly to view my work during Plymouth College of Art’s Summer Show.  However, there are other video/sound works around me – one of which is particularly loud and may cause a significant distraction if I were to remove the door.  I will have to create a sign for the door to advise audience members to enter the room to view my work and close the door behind them to allow them to witness the film projection at its maximum potential (if the door is left open, the projected film is not as clear as there is too much light filtering into the room.

As mentioned in previous posts I arranged the school desk and chairs in a specific way to not only allow up to two audience members seating to view the film but also to give a sense of superiority toward the desk which is placed at an angle in the opposite corner.  I wanted the desk to take on a life of its own and also present a substitute for a child who may have been told to stand in the corner of the class after misbehaving. (https://helaniemoore.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/installation-preparation-set-up/).

Furthermore, the furniture was chosen specifically to create a sense of familiarity and recognition within the viewer, with the hope of evoking an involuntary memory.(https://helaniemoore.wordpress.com/category/studio-practices/research/marcel-proust/)

There are probably still things I would change if it were possible to do so with regard to the set-up of the work (i.e. remove electric sockets, paint out electric cables etc) but I am satisfied with the result.

I have found my studio artistic practice to be quite stressful at times but have enjoyed how the pieces have come together and are improved by considering how they are displayed and curated.  Overall, I have enjoyed the role of artist as curator and feel that each aspect has benefited the other and become one amalgamated practice as opposed to two.

 

 

Projector/Projection

One of my peers William Danby had purchased a mini projector for his project.  It worked by projecting a smaller image/video than what a normal projector (or one that I would have had to borrow from PCA’s ERC) would project.  It also produced sound which would be clear enough for my own project.  Furthermore, it could use an SD card as opposed to linking a projector to a laptop.  I felt this would be perfect for my own project and decided to order one. The room that I was using for my film installation was only 2.5m x 1.85m in size.  I thought that the use of a mini projector would allow for less equipment and would not clog up the room with unnecessary speakers and/or laptop or distract from the school desk, chairs and film. I asked Ryan Curtis if he could make me a small projector shelf for the corner of the room behind the chairs.  Although he made it exactly how I wanted it, I could not get the angle right for the projected film to only cover the lid of the school desk.  William Danby suggested adding a bracket underneath the shelf.  This worked brilliantly and I managed to re-position the projected video toward the lid of the desk.

Film projection on to school desk lid. Image by Helanie Moore
Film projection on to school desk lid. Image by Helanie Moore
Mini Projector on bracket under shelf. Image by Helanie Moore
Mini Projector on bracket under shelf. Image by Helanie Moore

Although I probably didn’t need the shelf in the first place, it was not a distraction or offensive to my installation and the bracket was actually now attached to it.  I decided to keep the shelf for practicality reasons i.e. I could place the projector’s remote control on it and my business cards for PCA’s summer show – although I was not 100% sure I wanted this in my installation.

 

Artist Statement for CURA300 Studio Practices

Title:

“The best years of your life”, they said, 2014 (film installation: projected film, vintage wooden school desk and chairs)

Artist’s Statement:

The concept for this piece initially transpired following the provocation of an involuntary memory within the artist’s consciousness on encountering a pair of discarded plimsolls pendulating in an exposed tree. The unwanted memories of her old school days led to the artist developing a film installation with the addition of recognisable classroom furniture with the intention of providing the viewer with a sense of familiarity, nostalgia and phenomenological perception. With an existing interest in physically demonstrating the passing of time and how experiences can affect an impressionable child into adulthood the artist uses semiotics which are open to audience interpretation.

Helanie Moore, "The best years of your life", they said, 2014. Photograph by Helanie Moore
Helanie Moore, “The best years of your life”, they said, 2014. Photograph by Helanie Moore

 

Performance Assistant: Jem Williams, Vibrate, 2014

Jem Williams is a fellow peer on the BA (Hon) Fine Art, Critical & Curatorial Practices course at Plymouth College of Art.  In her artist statement she explains her practice as follows:

I’m a conceptual artist based in the South West. I work with appropriation, post-production, photography, collage sound and video. Through my practice I explore ideas of sex, relationships and how we engage and respond to this. I utilise my own experiences and those of others to at first glance present half-truths, presenting the audience with a warped perception of who I am as a person. Often my work has humorous overtones, to enable the audience to connect with my work and release the often-overlooked melancholy elements of human nature and how we relate to one another (Williams, 2013).

For her CURA300 studio practice she decided to create a film/sound piece which would “question the development of sexual apparatus within contemporary society” (Williams, 2014).   This piece had been inspired by conversations around the production of discreet sex toys which resembled beauty cosmetics.  The reasoning behind producing these disguised adult toys is thought to be as a way of hiding the usage of such appliances from one’s partner.   In Jem’s piece she had chosen to film a female performer undertaking the ritual of applying make-up, but replaced the mascara and lipstick for vibrators of a similar aesthetic to the cosmetics.

This concept particularly interested me as I had researched ritual and the pressures on women to remain beautiful with the use of cosmetics during my CURA301 project:

Furthermore, with regard to the sense of voyeurism within Jem’s concept, I had also looked at John Berger’s Ways of Seeing during my CURA302 project:

On reading Ways of Seeing, one can see through Berger’s commentary on art, how women have been portrayed throughout history – being objects of pleasure to the spectator, being perceived as inferior to men, taking the blame for being spectated i.e. acknowledging one’s own beauty – ideas of vanity – leaving the spectator blameless and the idea of women surveying themselves and judging themselves by surveying others (Moore, 2013)

Myself and Jem had taken part in a performance workshop under the guidance of artist duo VestandPage in January 2014.  Several months later Jem had asked whether I would be interested in being the performer in this particularly project as she understood I had an interest in performance art.  Although I felt quite self-conscious during my own performance work in CURA301 (and during January’s workshop) I felt happy to assist Jem.  I did not feel as much anxiety about undertaking another artist’s vision – whereas during my own performance pieces in CURA301, I had felt quite insecure about my own ideas and concepts.

On the day of filming, Jem with the assistance of Reiss Portman had set of the spare-room of their shared house with lighting equipment, camera, tripod, chair, table and mirror.  Jem had asked me to bring my make-up, hair products and to wear black clothing.  up to be something that looked very natural as opposed to orchestrated and not true to life i.e. waking up in the morning and throwing on a dressing gown as such.  I arrived wearing a black, patterned long kimono, black vest and black jeans.    Jem was happy with the kimono I was wearing and I advised her that I was happy to wear a vest, bra or neither.  She wanted me to be as comfortable as possible and so we agreed with bra and kimono which seemed to give the most realistic and natural effect.  I sat in front of the mirror with the camera facing me – slightly to my left.

On the first take, I was slightly shakey and had to stop, however Jem was not happy with how the camera had been set-up and repositioned it so it was more central and from a higher angle – looking down.  During the second take there was a problem with sound coming from outside the house which distracted from the sound of the vibrations but I continued nonetheless and she managed to film the entire ‘ritual’ lasting approximately 12minutes.  I tried to remain as natural as possible while substituting the lipstick and mascara for the vibrators and I think Jem was happy with the result.

From what I understand, Jem had to remove all of the sound from the film because the external sound was too distracting and stifled the sound of the vibrations.  She decided to remove all of the audio, re-record the vibrations and overlay this new audio recording over the film.  She also desaturated the film to greyscale.

I enjoyed assisting Jem Williams with her piece and look forward to viewing the finished result during PCA’s Summer Show from Wednesday 11 – 18 June 2014.

References:

Berger, J. (1972) Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin.

Moore, H. (2013) Eye of Providence – All Seeing Eye. [online] WordPress. Available at: https://helaniemoore.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/eye-of-providence-all-seeing-eye/ (accessed 02/06/2014)

Williams, J. (2013) About Me. [online]. WordPress. Available at: http://jemwilliamsartistascurator.wordpress.com/ (accessed 02/06/2014)

Williams, J. (2014) Ideas & Development. [online]. WordPress. Available at: http://jemwilliamsartistascurator.wordpress.com/category/cura-300/practice/ideas-development/ (accessed 02/06/2014)

 

Filming – Walking

To film the walking footage I decided to use my iphone because I did not feel comfortable using one of PCA’s cameras for this kind of filming.  The reason for this was because the camera would be pointing downwards toward the feet whilst moving and I was worried that there might be the possibility of the camera getting damaged.  I could have hired a GoPro camera – which I understand is specifically used for active filming but decided that I didn’t have enough time to get inducted in using this equipment.

I initially tried to film myself wearing similar plimsolls but after watching it back several times, I felt it did not give the impression of a child walking.  I wanted to film a child’s footsteps as opposed to an adults so it would relate to school.

As I also wanted to use footage of an apple in a tree, I decided that I would experiment with adding an apple or apple core to the walking film.  I initially started filming and then threw an apple core to the ground and kicked it as I walked.  This did not create a steady visual and the footsteps became disjointed in rhythm.

Untitled1
Film Still of me kicking apple core. Film still by Helanie Moore

I then decided to place an apple on the pavement in my pathway.  The apple would only be visible for a second or so when walked passed.  I felt this would give a subtle glimpse of the apple to the viewer and would not be too overpowering.

Several days later, I decided to ask my daughter is she would help me this this set of filming.  After numerous takes and re-positioning of iphone camera (sometimes her feet weren’t visible or she had her finger over the camera), we managed to get some usable footage.  I was also happy with the sound of the footsteps as well as the background sound of the birds as it felt more natural and less constructed.

Child walking passed apple. Film still by Helanie Moore
Child walking passed apple. Film still by Helanie Moore