25 July 2012

In process

I'm amazed, on a studio day, how much to-ing and fro-ing to the computer there is. I find I just get started with something when there's a need for the camera, and uploading the pix because it's something that needs to be written about before any more decisions are made, or there's something that needs checking something on the internet ... so, suddenly I'm in the other room and not in the studio any more. Ah the joys of working at home! Everything is so handy ... so many distractions are possible, too ...

But it all needs sorting so that a way forward can be found. I started arranging my workspace and unearthed the box of books/pages that saw light of day at the tutorial last week.
In it is the core - but not the finished version - of items for my show:
- early attempts to rework cookbooks "loss of language" - or is it loss of (sequential) memory?
-memorisation of sonnets, or rather, attempted memorisation
-over-writing (another approach to loss of language/comprehension)
-Brainstorm and Seepage, two books that will be available in the shop rather than on show - and need just their final touches (eg covers....)
-the cut-up dictionary pages, and the books made from the cut-out words
(There will also be the memory balls, but those are another story.)

"Combing the Alphabet" (on the left) and the untitled one ("Alphabetical Interlude" - ?) are very similar, in that they're all the words defined on a page of the dictionary, transferred to a page of graph paper. Because using glue to hold them there is both fiddly to do and precarious as a result, the tiny pieces of paper holding the words are carefully laid out and securely stitched.

That ordering, and fastening, say something about how rigidly and carefully some things can be kept in memory ... how much organisation is involved ... but like these books themselves, for what purpose?

To make a kind of completeness, as arbitrary as it is - a few dictionary pages transformed into a small book, that's a totally arbitrary thing to do. Even the alphabetical arrangement (which we take so much for granted) has an arbitrary nature - these words happen to fall into alphabetical order (and others might have fallen onto this page, but have been left out by the compiler of the dictionary, the Oxford School Dictionary).

Because of the systems, like alphabetical order, that are deeply embedded into our ways of dealing with the world and of gathering information,  we're always working within some sort of ... randomness? no, it's more a selection process of which we're not aware. On top of that, memory makes its own selection, amid or from that larger selection.

And forgetting (so much a part of memory!) - is that random? For emotionally-fraught memories, it isn't, the psychiatrists would have us believe. Do words take on emotional values that make some of them forgetable, or is it just a matter that the most-used (rehearsed) words stay with us longest? Would those most-used words be the ones learnt earliest in childhood - or the ones that become important to us in adult life, through our jobs perhaps, or in relationships?

My reading on the topic of memory, superficial and scant as it has been, has thrown up many of these questions and concerns. Making a few little books seems such a negligible way of approaching them, much less dealing with them.
And what of the "erased" dictionary pages themselves - do they show anything worth thinking about? I like the look of them - holes are so resonant - but haven't resolved how to display them: in a book of some structure, concertina or codex or individual pages sewn together, and if so, how? simply laid out flat? overlapping? on a light box? How many words to take out of each ... what to do with those words ... whether to cover them with waxed paper or (softer) repair tissue, or nothing ... what do the aesthetics say about the "meaning"? How does the back of the page relate to the front of the page?

When I opened the box with these few bits of work in it, lying on top were the information sheets about show set-up deadlines and the assessment process. Here are the learning outcomes for this part (unit 2) of the course:

  • present, in the final exhibition, a resolved body of creative practice that has evidenced the systematic enhancement of your knowledge and understanding
  • analyse and reflect coherently upon your own practice and its context in both written and verbal forms
  • summarise your overall progress and formulate a constructive plan for continuing personal and professional development

The task with the nearest deadline (6 August) is the Reflective Essay - only 500 words in total -

  1. An artist's statement on your work discussing the relationship between your interests and methods. This will include a critical analysis of your outcomes compared with your intentions.
  2. A statement about your future to include your immediate and longer term goals and outline plan for further development.

1 comment:

Kathleen Loomis said...

I want to layer your cutout dictionary pages so you can see words from other pages through the holes. talk about random selection...