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By: James Blackburn
Ba(hons) Fine art
# 6 [26 February 2013]
I have two modules to complete and then my degree will be over!
Better get my ass in gear and utilise these last few months to get my blog started and established as I have a feeling that blogging and social media,as Peter Kay says about Cheese cake,it's the future :)
I have been encouraged to use this blog as a way of organising my thoughts as my sketchbook in so disorganised anyone reading it would need a degree in solving puzzles.
First things first.
What ideas will I be exploring?
(the answer will start manifesting themselves as from tomorrow,due to the immense amount of translation I am having to do right now)
# 5 [17 December 2012]
What medium to use in my work is my biggest conundrum to date,i have been making use of the freecycle(others are available) network in securing materials for my work, so far I have obtained through the generosity of the public.3 old(i mean really old) working laptops,a desktop computer, a load of unused ohp transparencies , many many used and new floppy disks, circuit boards of varying ages and size aswell as a few other items I cannot think of at this moment but will come to me later on.
oh and an old working type writer and full set of encyclopedia's from 1975 :)
All of these items have presented opportunities for me to play around and experiment (and if i am being honest: engage my inner childs curiosity) to find out how things are put together or re-arranging them in such a way that new meanings and functions,conceptually and visually emerge through these combinations of 'defunct' technologies previous incarnation ie it's use or characteristics to my work.
In my first creative module of my final year I decided that I would use the set of encyclopedia volumes in such a way as to re-cycle the imagery and structure to create a book,aswell as exploring video to bring these static and probably forgotten images to life or at least take them from their original context within the pages of the encylopedia adn offer the viewer the opportunity to view the images as a large scale projection.I will add the video ...
# 4 [4 September 2012]
Where has the summer gone?
It seems like only yesterday that I was panicking about what to produce for the end of my second year of my Ba exhibition.
Although having wild dreams of opening a pop up gallery over the summer and having a right old laugh and making somegreat art it didn't quite go as planned,but I did get a job working at a distribution and recycling centre for tele's,washing machines and fridge's- my job was to seperate the recyclable materials which where shipped off to be recycled(clues in the name on that one) it started out as just something to keep me busy and earn a bit of money until my course started up again.
BUT one thing I didn't expect was the job pricked at my conscience and got me thinking about my rubbish habits and recycling(or lack of) aswell as how my environment and further afield are impacted by my actions.
After a few weeks of churning a few ideas over in my head(I had nothing else to think about whilst seperating cardboard,plastic and polystyrene) I decided to write a few down and explore them a little further.
I am a fan of freecycle and getting things for free,usually stuff that no-one else uses anymore,(this is something that goes back to my child hood when all the cool kids got their hands on the new toys and as we were quite poor I had to wait for the 'scraps' and ended up getting my hands on the broken and slightly damaged cast offs(I could always find another action figure with the missing leg still in place and splice the two together,or replace the string and glue the two halfs of a yo-yo back together,or use the motor from a battery powered fan for something cool).
Having previously been to a couple of exhibitions at the photographers gallery and spending the day googling recycled art,I came to the conclusion that I will make my final year about exploring the re-cycling, appropriating, collaging and upcycling of materials that are generally discarded and to give them a new lease of life and meaning that will at least slow the process of this consumerist detritus being thrown away,if I am not able to halt, entirely my materials from being thrown away altogether.
I have never really been into the whole save the planet stuff but for some reason my summer experiance has started to change my ideas.
I am attending a conference entitled 'TRASH' next week (14th September) and I cannot wait to get cracking.
ideas come in the dead of night,I cannot sleep for these things keep me awake, I have to act on my impulses and once they leave my brain I can rest easy.
# 3 [30 July 2012]
It's been a while since I last attempted to write in my blog,lots of things have been going on and recently lots of things not going on,which is a little disheartening.
Being alone with no access to the facilities I have been acustomed to whilst studying has left me feeling completley useless and uninspired,a bit like a fish on a bicycle in a tornado.something has to change soon otherwise I shall become self-descructive and not in a good way.
I must dust off the Art materials and attempt to create some work that will help channel the pent up create energy,it is a great therapy as long as I start soon,otherwise it will fester like an old fart under the bed cover waiting to strike.
my task seems simple but is it? we shall see soon enough...
# 2 [27 March 2012]
Yesterday(Monday 26th March)- My latest deadline- Collaborative Project.
Our brief was to create a piece of work in a partnership,we were given around 6 weeks to create the work and after pulling names out of a hat my partner and I began our work.
A day trip to the coast with a mountain of equipment (cameras,tripods,a mirror and a packed lunch etc) was planned.
The equipment was piled into the back of my retired london taxi and off we went.
Upon arrival it became clear that the weather wasn't too favourable,but we ploughed on through the grim and grey day, slowly having all our energy and enthusiasm blown out of us by the biting wind,it was so miserable. Our equipment just seemed to enjoy nothing more than making us more miserable.
one broken and abandoned mirror later, we had ran out of steam.
our camera film was all but used up and not feeling particularly creative,we trudged back to the taxi where we were relieved to be out of the wind and on our way home.
as a last minute idea we set up our digital compact camera on a tripod and pointed it out the front of the cab to 'capture' some of our journey home.
We reviewed our reconnaissance material and weren't too impressed,some of the pictures were just about ok but it was the film footage on the digital camera that caused a spark of an idea- as we watched this tiny screen we were noticing the reflections in the partition of the taxi,they were really interesting.This could not be ignored!
after thinking about possibilities of expanding this 'footage' we had the idea of going for a drive and recording what we saw using 2 perspectives:
i) the drivers fixed concentrated view out the front and limited to small glimpses from the side window,
ii) the passengers view or ability to view almost 360 degrees and freely,
aswell video we used sound recorders to capture ambient sounds ie cars going past,the squeeking of the taxi on it's journey,aswell as that we recorded a commentary of some of the things we saw and thought about as we travelled around in the taxi.
The approach we adopted was that of a psychogeographer, we met at a designated point that each of us knew how to get to, after that it was a case of following ones nose when it came to direction of travel,with cameras and video recording of course.
we had pre-determined a time limit for the drive of 15 minutes and that was our only stipulation.
Whilst reviewing the footage we realised that the visual element of what was recorded didn't enhance our idea and we decided to explore the possibiltiy of using the sound alone.As this isn't a medium that myself or my partner had ever really thought about using we had to research other artists using sound instead of visual work.
a couple of days passed and the deadline was looming ever closer...
Late one night a eureka moment struck and next day I passed the idea on which was eagerly accepted by my partner.
We began to organise our 'piece'
the plan was to use the original vessel in which we recorded the sound
The Taxi :)
one thing became immediately evident when listening to the piece in the taxi, was that it would be almost impossible to really feel immersed in the sound as outside distractions such as people peering in through the windows.We wanted to allow people to experience what we had experienced on our journey and came up with a simple but effective solution- why not black out the windows.
We sought permission (from Croydon council,through one of our lecturers contacts) to park the taxi on the green space outside our college ready for presenting our final piece.
needless to say that we presented our final idea and although there are things we would want to change (for next time?) it became quite a talking point and we had some positive feedback from our peers.
(although I haven't gone into too much detail about the work created I wanted to share some of the process we went through in our collaborative project.if anyone is interested what we did in more detail then feel to contact me and I am more than happy to go through the finer details.)
I will add pictures and possibly a video soon.
# 1 [16 March 2012]
Where does one begin when the option of writing a blog is presented.
I never thought I would ever have the time or energy to even read a someone elses blog let alone write one of my own.
I am half way into my second year of my Ba(hons) in Fine Art at Croydon and still as keen today as the day I started my course, everyday turns something new up,new challenges and new ideas.
There are a few niggling things that have annoyed me about 'university life' at Croydon mainly the apparent lack of communication between the higher level management and regular staff and more importantly students,it also appears that the support for students is 'guided' by senior management also. There was an issue at the college that saw close to 100 students rallying together to raise concerns over planned redundancies of key staff members being implemented as we will be going into our 3rd year of our degree's,as well as that a reduction in certain facilities at the college that we were not informed of officially and we still don't know what is going on now.
Now I have got one of my only complaints about the college off my chest, I will try and peice together in some coherent fashion my experiences: both highs and lows to give an insight into what I go through as I head towards my final degree show in 2013.
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Studying Ba(hons) Fine art- Croydon College(and very proud to say so)- thouroughly enjoying every minute(even the rubbish bits), but the good bits are even better such as photography(my favourite medium) and more recently print making :D