Unit 2 Assessment

Cricical Evaluation can be found here.

Symposium 2 can be found here.

Reflective Journal overview (please accept y apologies for how many words are here, but this really helped me work through everything):

Present a resolved body of original creative practice that has evidenced the systematic enhancement of your knowledge and understanding.

It’s strange that looking back, at the start of this course I entered with the idea that I would carve out some kind of new road on which I would present work that fit within what I understood at the time to be relevant to the world I was entering, that of the ‘artworld’. Though I had a reasonably good understanding of the various creative spheres, and the web-like way in which they interconnect, overlap and feed one another, when considering my own practice, my outlook was still uncharacteristically rigid, and rather than embrace the difference of my professional background, personal history and perspective, was racked with frustration at what I considered a limiting environment within which to present work (the gallery).

I feel it’s important to address this first as the following two years of study for me has been, in many ways, feeling out how the work I’m interested in creating fits together, and ultimately how it fits within that system I seem to feel disconnected to, but seem to want to make sense of (one would assume, having chosen a Fine Art degree.)

[Below I’ve outlined and tried to contextualise all of the significant projects I’ve undertaken as part of the course, but have left analysis of each for the following question]:

Following on then from Unit 1, which looking back seems to have been a playground of research and experimentation awash with teasers and snippets, and a search for answers, the latter part of the course has seen me (without even realising prior to this period of reflection) explore what I’d discovered in that period of experimentation within the context of the other professional and creative spheres I’ve previously operated in – fashion, publishing, music, etc.

The first piece I worked on, made for the zine I co run, was The Cult Film. Utilising, for the first time, higher production values via the use of a crew I assembled through favours and the association with the zine which had by that point a small but dedicated following, that allowed me to explore a few ideas I’d had early on, but through a greater level of technical competence and ironing out the *perceived* quality of presentation, thanks to partly outsourcing expertise and getting a helping hand. In doing so, it reached a much wider audience and has actually opened up some interesting professional opportunities, allowing me to sign on to an agency and be represented as a director.

After this small success, and again through the platform of SORT, I made a film for Dazed at the NY Art Book Fair in September, which I took as an opportunity to be playful and experiment with a more straightforward editorial format, injecting into it ideas I’d had about changing manipulating the atmosphere of a piece using sound and other elements. This included a  spontaneous spoken-word piece by artist Slava Mogutin, who has since become repeat collaborator, contributing to SORT Zine and our exhibition in Berlin last month, as well as extremely supportive in sharing my work and connecting me with other artists in dirt-covered our corner of the art world.

Similar to above, just before leaving my job at NOWNESS I was given the opportunity to make a film with artist Wolfgang Tillmans. After essentially stalking him for years and requesting interviews via various publications I was working at, I noticed he was giving his debut music performance at Noise and Art festival Atonal, in Berlin.

Via the agent I’ve acquired I got the opportunity to make a film on tour with a band, HMLTD – not my usual choice of music, but I figured an opportunity to attempt to work through ideas about the nature of documentary film and the fallacy of objective truth in that kind of filmmaking, including my wish to inject elements of fiction into real scenes to blur the boundaries of what was considered authentic documentation — the difference between capturing true experiences, and truly encapsulating lived experiences, and where the line between those things sits. Interestingly this project also introduced me to the person who does their graphics, who happened to be a final-year BA student at Camberwell, who has since helped me with the CGI chain in my final piece.

Via a company I work closely with, Strut, a fashion archive specialising Belgian and Japanese designs, I’ve workshopped a performance film with a butoh performer (they essentially gave me carte blanche to make a film with the archive). A teaser, played publicly at a screening I hosted for them, and a work-in-progress edit are both on the link.

A recent project on NOWNESS centred on Goth culture and how that appears today enabled me to work on a film about the London queer techno scene.

Most recently I was invited to show work in Berlin as part of a SORT Zine exhibition at Space 31, a gallery concerned with the relationship between art and commerce.

Analyse and critically reflect coherently upon your own practice and its context:

Originally when considering the context of my own practice, I’d sought to make sense of its place through a number of things: the areas of interest it which I’m drawn to and have researched, experimented and explored, the conceptual approach, and the execution in terms of the technical means of production. However, what has become most pertinent in this examination, made clear through the recent reflection brought about by the final few weeks and months of the course, is something much wider, but also more personal — the area of my own practice in which it fits. As I outlined above I came onto the course viewing any output as something I could compartmentalise from the many other areas of my life in which I have a creative output – my professoinal work, the collaborative zine/studio (SORT) I co-run, the events I throw, the consulting and lecturing I do in the fashion world. To put it simply, I thought this would be a new avenue, something I could make work for and section off in a little white cube world.

This recent reflection has made clear that, though this course has provided a new avenue and a new context within which to show my work — one more anchored to what I’d consider a traditional ‘artworld’ context — that this new avenue is inextricably linked to every other aspect of what I do.

Commissioned work in music via the project I undertook with HMLTD is more relevant to early ideas I’d expressed on the blog (here and here), and the context of it being for a band, and for a record label, and being presented online, provided me with the resources and budget to be able to make it happen in a way piece of experimentation undertaken for my course with no other purpose would never have provded.  And In actual fact, the intense connection to music that every aspect of my experimentation, from fake album covers, to my research into some of the wider concepts around music production and presentation (here and here) and artists whose work is similarly multidisciplinary (here and here at the bottom).

Projects undertaken that might otherwise have been merely ‘jobs’ allowed me to be playful with form, communication and presentation, such as the video I made for Dazed magazine at the New York Art Vook Fair in September 2017.

As with the above video, many projects undertaken under the umbrella of  SORT, the collaborative project I co-run centred on a collaborative zine project, has allowed me to explore and analyse elements of my research, develop my technical competence aided by that collaboration and provide a platform to further my professional development that releasing as a solo practitioner may not. Made under the SORT umbrella as with the above project The Cult Film, the first instance in which I experimented with higher production values and working with a wider production team, reached an infinitely wider audience than anything I’d previously made previous had. This was due to a number of things, one I think being the production value – it “looks better” –  as well as collaborating with a wealth of people, from the people in the crew to the cast to the noise artists that scored it, and, probably, to Rose McGowan, the celebrity voiceover we roped in to articulate underlying ideas that we shared, ideas of the abuse of power that, thanks to her and othrs, have literally swept and changed the world since. The SORT project also saw me invited to Berlin to put on an exhibition of work by me and others we’ve included in the project. This, or more the process of reflecting on this, is probably the most important moment to date in my understanding of the context of my work. This project enabled me to present myself as a solo practitioner, presenting work I’d made, but under the umbrella of a project I made to communicate and present things I couldn’t as a solo artist, and present this work in every context I’m interested in; beginning in the white cube space I always feel so uneasy about, but that I made sense of here, through the fashion world with our inclusion of merch and the fashion community that the space is connected to, through the sound and performance aspect that we injected into the space through curation and collaboration, down to — what most surprised and excited me — the realisation that the ‘party’ element, whereby we orchestrate situations to actually explore the boundaries of experience hinted at in the work in a real, live context, that this element is part of my work. This in particular has been so unbelievably eye opening that it’s basically changed my entire outlook on my work and the potential for it to be injected into spaces in ways I’d never imagined. And on reflection it brought to the forefront of my understanding that even more of what I’d been doing ‘counted’ as work, from work I’d made for events, like teasers and promos , to the events themselves .)

The most important part of my research has been, unsurprisingly, my research paper. This not only gave me the opportunity to explore ideas that had been in the back of my mind — not only through the whole duration of the course, but really, since I had an understanding of, and gut reaction to, the world of art — but a clear and coherent (I hope!) path with which to properly examine the wider context of these ideas and condense down into something tangible that I could at least try to propose an answer to. This helped centre my thoughts and really define what it was I was interested in. Yes, the work is always addressing certain ideas that relate to my personal identity and place in thew world, of existing in a shadowy corner of relative extremeity while the outside world looks on in bemusement, and yes this work readily references a whole historical thread of subculture, counter-culture, pop culture and beyond. However I’ve realised this is merely the conversation I’m always hoping to have, and the real point of interest is, to a lesser degree, the language with which I’m having that conversation — my practical approach — and most importantly, and most connexted to my research, is the manner in which that language is communicated, and the way in which it’s received.

 

Summarise and evaluate your overall progress and formulate a constructive plan for continuing Personal and Professional Development:

With my final exhibition piece Covers Vol. 1, and connected merch and zine, I feel, as I’m sure I was always expected to, that I’ve only scratched the surface of what I’d intended to. From the very beginning of the course my plans for the final show were ambitious, which I knew at the time of writing each update of my project proposal, but by doing so provided myself with a goal to aim towards — even if that eventual completion was years down the line. What’s happened since — via my decision to turn this project into an organic one, show it in its unfinished form without pretending it’s anything other than, and plan to add a new section with each exhibition of it like a mutating organism — is that for the first time I’ve seen a way in which this particular thread of my practice, connected to but not explicitly part of any the other spheres of music, fashion, etc. stated above, can continue beyond the end of the course. For the first time I want to continue working in this way, as an artist, and present work in a way that might make sense in the gallery context – though if I’m honest i’m already thinking of ways to present this in a club…

In terms of my overall work, in relation to my realisation above of how every sphere my work operates in connect to make up my practice as a whole, I feel I’ve now reached a point where I can confidently move forward and utilise the opportunities provided by each of these different areas to continue to better my understanding of both the form and content of work. This will involve seeking out opportunities for commission within any parameters and, as I’ve begun to do already this year, attempt to push the boundaries of what’s possible in terms of my own art practice and the ideas that come within that, in these different contexts, ones that are often ruled by their commercial potential.

Also, now I have a much greater understanding of the practical application of certain methodologies, I can better utilise the language of each to further collaborate with outside help, those with more specialist knowledge for instance, to realise ideas I have in ways I’d be unable to do alone—including both collaboration with other artists, identified due to their specialist interests, as well as the opportunity when working professionally, and therefore with budget, to seek service-type assistance, which will allow me to tackle ideas of much more advanced technological application than I have before (like that I’ve only scratched the surface with by use of the the CGI graphic element in my final piece).

Beyond the work itself, I feel now that I can explore each of the professional avenues I’ve identified above – the music world, fashion, digital publishing, etc. – centering my attention on video projects. I’m going to start immediately by finishing a few things that hangover from projects I’ve begin during the course (notably the Strut Butoh film).

As stated in my Critical Evaluation, though I feel really confident in how I’ve developed my technical competence in video in particular, my research skills, and my personal and professional development, the main development for me has been more of a reshuffling. Moving forward I see myself going back into the fields I initially emerged from with a renewed sense of purpose, to inject into these spaces the same vision I would present in the gallery, but in the hope that there is greater capacity to reach and connect and spark questions in an audience. That’s my essential goal, and everything else is an aside to that. If this output – which I plan to continue at the same rate, with the same bredth, and with increasing level of production value – then leads me back to the gallery space, which I hope it does, then I feel I’ll have the perspective, and the necessary tools, to appropriately navigate, and of course question, that space once more. Also, as the collaborative projects I work on, notably SORT, have weaved almost without mention in and out of my personal work, and with the continued enjoyment and benefit gained from collaboration, I plan to continue in this spirit. Each project moving forward will be a new opportunity for collaboration with other artists, crew, musicians, producers, graphic designers, engineers, and anything I can possibly imagine, and that’s more exciting to me than any solitary pursuit. Also, though I’ve tried to refrain from explicity discussing it too much, the course of the last two years have become more and more convinced of the power of collectivism, and reconciling that with the possibilities of indivudual expression. This process has solidified that stance, and has me more inspired than ever to attempt to work out my own personal work within the context of collaborative projects, be that SORT or others.

Advertisements

Critical Evaluation

I entered the course two years ago with the intention of harnessing and directing my solo artistic practice, having worked largely in the context of collaborative projects in print media, and across a wide spectrum of creative fields. My vision of that path at that time, though, was one of a body of work isolated from the spheres of fashion, music and contemporary culture, and isolated from other people; that a solo practice meant creative seclusion. I needed to reconcile a solo artistic practice with my wider interests and collaborative instincts.

Also, planning for a final show in a gallery space, I toiled with the pretence I saw in detaching work rooted in immersive and collective experience from the context that allows it to be as such, and placing it in what I saw to be a clinical institutional setting disconnected from the world I was presenting — as well as what that meant in a wider sense for me and my ‘role’ as an artist. I needed to find a way to challenge, rather than flee from, the concerns I had about the role of the white cube.

The research paper provided an extremely useful moment of pause for me. After a year of almost blind experimentation, done in the hopes of grasping onto what visual language I was most comfortable with, the research paper not only allowed me to condense and work through the wider concerns about viewing work in the gallery context, and how alternative contexts might provide different viewing experiences, but it provided me with a surprise moment clarity. Having spent the summer looking solely at artist Bill Viola, an artist whose work I love but who is the obvious choice, an exhibition I saw while in New York by music video director-turned artist Kahlil Joseph changed the direction of my research. Helping provide answers to my question centred on context and reception, it also opened up a parallel discussion about the artist, both their role and status, and in related social and cultural rooting. In a way, this helped dissolve the structure I’d seen upholding the role of the ‘artist’, one with a narrative potentially played out in bad faith, something inauthentic without a sense of self-perspective that acknowledges its connection to other worlds, other roles.

This realisation provided me with the drive, almost without realising, to begin making work at what now feels like a maniacal, non-stop pace. I took opportunities that came from every field – record labels, fashion magazines, culture sites, brands – and utilised these opportunities to further develop my understanding of the technical production of work, particularly video, which had now become central to my practice. Through these many video projects, all meant to be displayed in a multitude of contexts, I was able to work with teams of collaborators who could bring their particular specialisms to better the overall presentation of the work I’d envisioned, as well as working on these skills myself – from the technical aspect of shooting video, to editing, colour grading, file management, etc. – to better understand the technical and visual language with which to direct these specialists. In this way my position is of a director, the title I take on the majority of these projects, rather than artist, but that in a way these terms are interchangeable to me, provided I’m creating something relevant to my artistic practice (and not a Colgate/McDonalds ad, which I’ll do to fund the end of my covers project if I’m honest).

I feel that now, having found a way to reconcile the once-disconnected parts of my creative practice, I am in a position to use that very perspective to continue to challenge the efficacy of gallery presentation, both from the outside and from within. Utilising opportunities within the working (even commercial) worlds of fashion and music from which I came, as well as making work for the gallery, I can attempt to blur and erase the line drawn between them wherever possible. I feel now that this is my ‘radicalism’, to borrow the context of the term from Sontag. Never having the temperament to make the bold and broad statements within the gallery, injecting my vision, the thing I’d communicate within an art space, into other spaces and other worlds has, for me, the capacity to connect and question in real terms in the way I’d always wanted to do when referencing voices like Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, and others.

In my interrogative outlook, I can be stubborn and uncompromising, and I see now that can be a strength.

Covers Vol. 1 Zine

With delays in printing, I wanted to share here the artwork finalised for the square-format zine that will appear on the merch table outside of my installation.

COVERS VOL 1 ARTWORK FINALCOVERS VOL 1 ARTWORK FINAL2COVERS VOL 1 ARTWORK FINAL3COVERS VOL 1 ARTWORK FINAL4COVERS VOL 1 ARTWORK FINAL5COVERS VOL 1 ARTWORK FINAL6COVERS VOL 1 ARTWORK FINAL7COVERS VOL 1 ARTWORK FINAL8COVERS VOL 1 ARTWORK FINAL9COVERS VOL 1 ARTWORK FINAL10COVERS VOL 1 ARTWORK FINAL11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Made up of original photography, screenshots from my footage, reworked scans and photocopies of typed conversations and song production information.

Butoh Film teaser (and WIP)

 

The butoh film I’m n the process of making for Strut Archive, who gave me carte blanche to work with their archive of rare Japanese and Belgian designer pieces, and which took the shape of a workshopped performance in a desolate beach landscape (yes one I’ve shot many, many times aready, but it just seems inexhaustible).

Password: Aro

The sound is by DVDV, who I worked with to create sound for my final show piece, Covers Vol 1, and who it turns out has a personal history with butoh and offered, after a polite request to use some of her music, to score something, which we’re working on together currently (on hold slightly until after final assessment).

The entire work-in-progress edit can be seen here: https://wdrv.it/ccbad8d32

Title Cards

Struggling with ways to properly communicate the nature of what the viewer is about to see / hear, wanting them to be able to properly grasp it, but always feeling as though there should be some element of mystery, I think I’ve come up with something.

Knowing I love a sharp cut, I’m going to take the graphics I made for the zine with the information about each song that I wrote out and partly obscured, and create a title card for each video. The card will appear slowly,  and the black metal font will obscure in a sharp cut before cutting to black – all over the existing black with sound underscore so as not to break the flow of the looping sound. 

Project Proposal Reflection

Looking back over the last edit of my project proposal, it’s interesting how this final year feels like one single fast-paced journey, rather than the often-disjointed nature of the previous year made up of a number of projects and lines of thought. 

At that point, just before the Unit 1 assessment, my intention was “to find a way to define and manipulate the relationship between prescribed notions of experiential comfort – ones I feel I’ve never been confined by – and find a way for the media in which I articulate these interests to extend beyond the confines of the gallery setting”

I’ve of course, as I always knew, not even scratched the surface of what’s obviously a huge, probably career-long investigation. What I do feel I’ve done is, as stated in my aims, “create[ed] for myself a dialogue for articulating ideas and a means of communicating those ideas in a certain way.” The initial approach was through provocation, but the feedback from the Unit 1 assessment get me pause for thought about how that might look. The aggressive cacophony that’s second nature to me might provide shock, but a true provocation is paired with an inquisition that can be achieved through other means. 

I finally aimed to create “an unspoken dialogue between myself and the viewer”, to communicate the above ideas. Though this project as it will be presented this week is only a small version of what I hope it one day will be, a kind of preview, and though, again, this final aim is one that could span a lifetime of work, I feel this is the central idea that’s stayed true throughout this project. Though I’ve not used narrative in the way I’d hoped, held back by limitations of resources, budget and time, I instead transferred the means by which this dialogue played out to something simple and, perhaps because of it’s simplicity, more effective – the use of a familiar song. 

My objective, to attempt to encourage the viewer over the line of their usual comfort zone, talk them off the cliff in a way, by use of a sense of familiarity, I think I’ve done fairly subtly. There’s still the chance the majority of viewers won’t get the connection, but I do feel the delicate balance of spelling it out and keeping things hidden has become more of a thing and something which I feel suits me better, at least for now.

My intention to create something totally immersive, I feel I’ve gone at least some way to achieve this. The video installation aspect is exactly as I’d always intended, cut off, totally dark and bathed in sound in a way that it cannot be ignored, and I’ve extended it beyond that space at least partly with the merch table, a tongue-in-cheek nod that I’m hoping will cut through to those with a sense of humour, particularly if I’m sat at it, and the screening in the lecture theatre, provided that goes ahead.

My methodology, as expected, has rented on video, though actually the focus of the final piece is deceptive, and the most significant part, and as a result the most significant amount of time and energy spent on this was not the making of the video work, but rather the collaborative aspect of the music. In this way my role is skewed, and, to me, resembles more my role as a director than a maker of things, a place which I’ve found myself more comfortable. And in that sense, in terms of context, I find myself more closely aligned to artists I’d not really considered. Citing counter-culture artists and subcultural photographers like Nan Goldin and Larry Clark, conceptual artists like Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger and most obviously video artists – this final project sees me work in a totally different way, less like a video artist and more like a director, or even something more far removed as I’ve essentially commissioned works within my own work. 

The outcomes, again, have stayed fairly true to my initial intentions; the immersive nature o both the installation space and the screening have gone some way to achieve what I set out to there, and the takeaway element of the zine I’ve expanded to more merch, and will continue to add to this as much as time and money allow between now and the opening (T-shirts, patches, etc.). The one area I’ve not properly explored as intended is the digital arm, an online presence for the project that allows for repeat viewings and further thought. As I got part-way through making this piece, it occurred to me that it makes sense as a whole more through the gallery, or at least some physical, space. Showing the video element online doesn’t make sense to me. The idea to disconnect the musical aspect, and somehow make that downloadable, to be released somewhere, makes more sense – but it dependent on the artists I’ve worked with on this element. I think perhaps this is something that, once this project, after multiple showings, is complete – or at least in a more substantial state – I’ll consider some form of digital component. For now I think this makes sense as it is.

Overall the project has morphed and evolved in ways I could never have predicted, but I feel that the changes and adaptation that has happened has kept true to my intentions, which have stayed surprisingly consistent throughout – and those elements that I haven’t had time to explore, I’m comfortable that, having made this an ongoing, organic, growing piece, that I have the time to explore this, each piece being led by the particular circumstances of the moment in which it’s shown, be that budget, context, interests I have at the time, etc. to eventually become something not only resembling what I’d always wanted to show, but also having in it the fingerprints of my journey along the way – somethings diaristic and retrospective, but always connected to the present.

Titling (FINAL)

 

Title format for final show:

 

Label 1:

Joseph Delaney

Covers Vol. 1

Digital video, sound, installation, 15 minutes; staple-bound photo zine, 120mm x 120mm, digital print on paper; miscellaneous merchandise.

Label 2:

Vignette 1 – ipiwbyd (i wanna be your dog); video and sound by Joseph Delaney

Vignette 2 – not shown

Vignette 3 – not shown

Vignette 4 – not shown

Vignette 5 – not shown

Vignette 6 – not shown

Vignette 7 – not shown

Vignette 8 – not shown

Vignette 9 – eot (Only Time); sound by DVDV, video and sound by DVDV and Joseph Delaney

Vignette 10 – crsh (Summer Holiday); sound by Never Worse, video by Joseph Delaney

Vignette 11 –

 

Scenes: Techno Goth

Having pitched this project to the Tate when an opportunity came up for their Queer Art exhibition in 2017, and it being deemed not right (perhaps nsfw), an opportunity to pitch in a series for NOWNESS called Five Days of Darkness, a mini-series about goth culture and what that looks like today, allowed me the platform and (some) budget to be able to realise it.

Shot in 4:3 as a nod to the gritty nature of this world, the format being that of old analogue TVs, the film is intended as an insider’s view of a very specific part of London clubland, the intersection of Noise and techno events with the underground queer community and strangely elements of the Fashion world, the film takes the viewer on a journey down into the depths of a hypothetical night in this world to meet the characters and have a voyeuristic view at the hedonism that happens – all the whole articulating the atmosphere of this community, namely one of mutual respect built on a shared ethos of exploring the extremes of experience – be that Music and dancing, sex, drugs or the shared community experience in general – looked upon without judgment. Taking place at Electrowerkz, the Home of Kaos, the central night in the scene, we cast regulars from a number of nights, and I workshopped performances with artists, musicians and producers I’ve met along the way. Noise duo Naked, Butoh performer Alice/ex Donaghy and dj Judith Klemptner aka Proteus hang take the viewer, over the shoulder of a gimp suit-clad enigmatic protagonist, deeper and deeper into the world.Perhaps the most formulaic of the projects I’ve done to date, this was very much intended as something for the Everyman. Though the subject matter might be niche and, to some, extreme (having showed this in a lecture I was giving the day the film released there were immediately two complaints from students) the story and message it’s attempting to tell is simple and direct: this is a world of freedom to express yourself, and push your experiences to the limit, free from judgment or negativity. It’s very much an arm reached out to the outside world and, though it’s unlikely to be well received by a majority, there is at least some potential for reaching a new audience in a way a more esoteric art piece may not. As ever, the idea that a kid in a small town struggling with their identity – especially in an era when mental health and suicide are on the rise and marginalised voices are once more under threat – is worth infinitely more to me than any other potential or perceived intention, and perhaps in such a way an editorial work with the potential to reach a wider audience may, at least for me in this particular context, be a more worthwhile exercise than a gallery piece in a small show. I’m brought back, then, to discussions had early on in the course, if I remember correctly when sharing the work of Barbara Kruger as someone who has inspired and influenced my own work, and in particular my assertion that as artists working from a position of privilege we have a responsibility to, in whatever way we can, comment on and attempt to better the world around. Though no way a work rooted in politics or activism, this is one of the first instances in which I’ve felt I have something to say that may change someone’s perception, and amazingly the response I’ve got, which is overwhelmingly positive, goes some way to confirm that. Though it hardly changed the minds of right-wing minds outside of my liberal bubble, a number of people have expressed how it’s changed their perception of those they had a particular view of: weirdos, freaks, outsiders, etc.

In this sense it reminds me also of a quote from Susan Sontag, which I noted here at the time:

“Every interesting tendency now is a species of radicalism. The question each artist must ask is: What is my radicalism, the one dedicated by my gifts and temperament?”

And

“There’s a sense in which all knowledge is dangerous, the reason being that not everyone is in the same condition as knowers or potential knowers. Perhaps most people don’t need a ‘wider scale of experience.’ It may be that, without the subtle and extensive psychic preparation, any widening of experience and consciousness is destructive for most people,” (The Pornographic Imagination, 1967).

The former is an interesting idea that points to an artist’s individual purpose and potential, in what way does my personal body of work and practice pave the way for me to create something new, or as she puts it, radical. The latter provides, though, an interesting context to consider; some people simply aren’t prepared, literally, to make sense of certain subjects and truths.

This brings me back quite nicely to the underlying intention of my final project – to attempt to bypass this in some way by providing a kind of bringing point in the shape of familiarity. The idea that perhaps some sense of knowing of or point of reference to what’s being depicted opens up the potential for some sense of understanding, appreciation and hopefully even questioning of that subject.

 

HMLTD: Hell is a Place on Earth

Password: Hell

Having been given the opportunity to work with a band in the infancy of their career – a documentary about their UK tour – I took the chance to apply some of the thinking I’d had initially around a project that blurs the boundaries between reality and fiction in its narrative. Though initially, I’d hoped to make a project that presented a fictional band as though they were real, this flipped opportunity seemed as interesting.

Also, budget has become a huge consideration when working with video to achieve any kind of level of production value, so to manipulate opportunities that come from elsewhere – whether that be commissions or other – seems the only feasible way to push my practice beyond what’s been achieved so far. However, this comes with its own set of limitations. The original treatment — HMLTD Treatment — was a more involved look into this idea, but costed at £7000, and the budget eventually only getting signed off 1/7 of this, meant it had to be a stripped-back version of the idea.

For the actual project, I travelled to see the band on three dates of the tour – Birmingham, Brighton and the final sold-out show at Electric Ballroom. Alongside footage of the shows, after-show chaos and interview footage expected of such a project, I injected scripted scenarios, dream sequences and workshopped a performance through the streets – all ways of attempting to communicate the identity of the subjects through more emotive means.

To complete this, I also worked with the band to workshop an original score, the brief, and reference music, to attempt to create an atmosphere that communicated the mystery that shrouds them and the constantly changing narrative they present to the world.

The final thing is far from what was intended, but I feel that the chaotic pacing and that there’s not real narrative structure, and that the film appears more like a series of vignettes, makes sense given the chaos of how the project came together. I also did this intentionally as this was very much made for online, and aware that the overwhelming majority of people who eventually engage with it will do so not as a whole, but as clips whilst scrolling through their feeds, and rather than fight this, or attempt to change it, I thought go with it.