Hello!!

I’m Ella and welcome to my blog page, this is going to show my journey through level 6 of my Fine Art degree.

I wanted to start my first blog off with an intro to my previous work to show where I have come from and how I got here!

My themes and theories I am looking at are feminism, the gaze, the male gaze and currently the female gaze. I used theorist from Jacques Lacan and his thoughts on the gaze to Laura Mulvey and her theory of the cinematic views of the male gaze. The idea that women are objects to be viewed, sexualised and objectified.

I find this extremely interesting as it is very important to me being a women in this current day, even if you can begin to see change (ish). But as social media is so heavily dominated in our lives it has adapted a new gaze, one to be about ourselves, the digitalisation of the self gaze. I want to explore the ways social media impacts the gaze and our views of our body as well as others through level 6.

Reflection 21/12/2020: I am still very passionate about these ideas of social media’s effect on the body and find them very extremely relevant. But as I explored this through making art.. It was very difficult! It didn’t come across the way I hoped and in Only Touch With CLEANS Hands – only confirmed this for me, my group crit gave all thoughts relating to the male gaze instead and it made me think my work wasn’t as successful/understandable as I thought so I have decided to return to the male gaze and the female form.

But first, in level 5 I ranged from digital drawing, to pen, pencil, charcoal, paint, clay, plaster, wire and cellophane. As my heavy focus was the female form I was intrigued at how the different surface area changed the meaning and view of the body.

Artists such as Linder Sterling, Martha Rosler, Rachel Maclean, Jenny Saville, Hannah Wilke and Cindy Sherman inspired me and the way I used those materials.

Currently I work with clay which has developed massively from my previous line drawings in level 5 above. Inspired by Anthony Gormley’s exhibition of Field (above) which I saw at First Site in Colchester, I was drawn to them and amazed at how much personality each one of them has. I began to look at the ways I could bring this into my practice.

After seeing Gormely’s Field it flipped my work into a new direction which I was very scared about but also very excited for as I have never worked with clay or photography before. I could feel my work developing into something new and exciting.

Due to COVID I had to hand in my final work for level 5 online and from March I had to work at home. This benefited me and my practice because it made me try new things I hadn’t before. I was interested in making the viewers feel as though they shouldn’t be looking or it’s too personal, much like Sigmund Freud talks about with his thoughts of scopophilia.

With this in mind I reinterpreted mirrors but used them for unusual angels of the form that you wouldn’t see on instagram our even in your own mirror but somehow they are relatable to women. Currently I am beginning to explore how social media has adapted our ways of seeing not only our true selves but also others. What is true or false?

Which takes me to my current work. Inspired by SH Sadler and thoughts from Shoshana Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism and Nathan Jurgenson’s with The Social Photo as well as social media. The way we perceive things are altered massively due to social media and especially the presentation of Instagram. It creates this idea for young women that we must look a certain way, we see a women with perfect breast and we feel we must have that so many get a breast job to feel on that level of security.

However we don’t realise how much we alter our natural bodies to be like something that is not real. In the piece above Beauty Hurts I wanted to explore how social media visually sells ‘perfect’ images of the body and it disrupts our real vision of our natural selves.

The vacuum packed breasts display the idea of Instagram bodies ‘products’, ready to be sold to all women’s body.

Reflection 21/12/20: They also suggest ideas of suffocation under the pressure of the male gaze…

This is very important to me because I cannot help but feel negative thoughts when I go onto social media, however after creating this and the female gaze as my theme of work as well as expressing my work on this path it’s a way for me to understand and share awareness about social media and the adapted gaze we have.

This is a very lengthy first post but I have so much to say! I aim to update weekly posts as it feels liberating to voice my opinions and my work in a new way!!

Reflection 21/12/20: I have now decided to use my blog as my sketchbook, keeping it updated with every new thing – it feels so much better to document and reflect this way.


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Today we met as a class to discuss our Interim Exhibition. This exhibition is part of our final degree project and as COVID has struck us harder again, this meant that we are not allowed to use the Art Station space in Saxmundham for our exhibition due to lockdown. So, we had to re-discuss and reorganise.

See my notes from this session below:

Instead of a physical accessible exhibition we have decided to go online with use of the Art Stations Instagram and website. We are very excited as it will give us a new audience to showcase to, something we have only experienced with our Arlington’s exhibition in L5. As well as a whole new experience with the majority of showcasing being digital.

As there is 5 of us, we aim to potentially take over the Art Station’s Instagram each day (this isn’t set in stone yet – but hopefully will be soon) and showcasing our artwork throughout the day. Much of this is uncertain but I thought it would be important to note within my blog and development!

Due to lockdown, we cannot go into the uni to display our work how some of us wished too, however, we collectively have come up with an idea to pick a room in our own house and use that as a installation space. A space to display our work in a new and different way, this way it connects our works all together with the issues we have had to face within our degree due to COVID – isolation, lockdown in our home. Independently, we have chosen a space which will relate and benefit our work in relation to that space as well as each other. I have chosen the kitchen to relate to the gender domestic roles and the female representation. I aim to use this time to experiment and explore how to present my work which will suit best.

Recently I have had ideas to re-explore a L5 idea of which I would create a small box and fill the walls with the clay breasts, leaving a small hole for you to put you head/hand in or to just have a ‘peep’. This is something that stirred the imagery of a house for this exhibition and is something I am to explore further, especially in relation to the COVID and being restricted to one room.

Possible ideas/thoughts:

  • Small clay breast covering the counter tops, oven, hob, dining table etc.
  • Continue to experiment with projection as well as the physicality to my sculptures/work.
  • Relate back to possible ideas that contain doll house imagery – my 1-1 with Charlotte Newson and the representations of women that come with this. E.g. Barbie etc (just random thoughts after todays session).
  • Wall designs – breasts growing across the kitchen (relate to Womanhouse).

It’s going to be a really fun experiment working towards this exhibition and I will begin to explore materials, layouts and themes for this exhibition.


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I finally began to create in the kitchen. I quite enjoyed it at time, however now I am reassessing the films etc, I’m not so sure. I feel a further projection of this film might be more exciting etc as I feel like it’s not quite there. I had these notes (see below) from my notebook and sketchbook as initials ideas before I began making and planning:

I felt really inspired after researching Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen that I wanted to turn my making in the kitchen to see what effect it has upon the viewers visually. “Food offers a giant area in which the social overwhelms the biological” (Weinstock, Rosler, 1981, p 83). I feel like it would also add something different when I project it – a mix of environments. There’s many things going on like making breasts, women hands doing the making, a female body in charge, a kitchen setting as well as baking materials.

The gender roles have always been the male is the breadwinner and the female is the homemaker – they’re self explanatory! The woman stays at home and looks after the house, food and children and the man goes to work and provides for the family. It was this way before and after the war. Only effectively from the 70s onwards that there has been change for women.

 

However I was still in amazement at Rosler’s kitchen piece, she had so much anger and emotion towards this divide that she put into her film. Without voicing her opinion with words, she did it with action and body language. “the transformation of the woman herself into a sign in a system of signs” (Weinstock, Rosler, 1981, p 85). This is what I have been doing in my previous films too, using hand language e.g. squeezing/crushing etc. Rosler showed the anger of cook shows and the female domestic role that we were given.

Reflection 04/01/2021: Suggests relations to Womanhouse, Breasts to Eggs. There’s this shared relation to the breasts being made and adapted e.g. in Breasts to Eggs, they slowly change over the walls from breasts to eggs, and within my film, they start as a lump of icing and slowly become breasts – a desirable material in both life and the cinema. There’s the physical manipulation in my film which isn’t present with Womanhouse. Good or Bad? I think I like it.

Reflection 04/01/2021: There’s also the shared  domestic setting in my film and in Womanhouse – the kitchen, gendered role. Breasts to Eggs acknowledged the visuality of women role within the kitchen due to the breasts growing on the walls, in a ‘kind’ type of way, where as within my film I visually destroy and challenge these roles instead, it’s much more performative and destructive.

In my notes above I thought about the ways I could suggest the female POV of the body in a gendered setting. I wanted to point to how women are even still, expected to conform to these ideas. It is tailored to showcase the way most of the baking materials you see are pink, a gendered colour for women. It’s the same with the stereotypes that are put on children when they’re born, a boy must play with a blue car, not a pink baby doll and wasn’t allowed to be seen in a dress-up dress. I love that these stereotypes are being mixed so eventually there won’t be any. See set up below:

All of the tools I used in my film are pink, I wanted to get this across to the viewers as well as being a female visual against an old fashioned patriarchal role (a gendered system where men take the dominance role out of both genders). “Feminists mainly use the term ‘patriarchy’ to describe the power relationship between men and women” (Sultana, 2011).

 

See Baking below, I began to make the breasts and this time I used pink icing for a realistic look. I wanted to refer back to the icing breast I created for Consuming 2 there’s this imagery of the breast presenting women being sweet, like a treat. Much like how women are seen by society and the male. I wanted to create the scenario of a cook show but not as romanticised as the old fashioned cook shows do so. They would glorify the kitchen and in the 70s “the newly emerging feminist movement wanted to get women out of the typing pools and away from the kitchen sinks and into the boardrooms of the land” (Boycott, 2017) and take more control.

This is what I wanted to express, the use of the female hands moulding the icing as though women are made/brought up a certain way to follow the roles. Note: Can also be viewed that women are being made to how they please, making a new path for women.

Baking

I then wanted to contrast this by taking control of the icing as us women should have out own say about our bodies/roles etc. See below in Baking ‘To Roll’, I visualised the aggressive destruction of women destroying this gendered role of the kitchen and patriarchy and being the new wave of women who do as they please, not what is expected of them. Whatever “derives form your experience of the actions” (Weinstock, Rosler, 1981, p 85) you see within my films too!

Baking ‘To Roll’

Baking ‘To Roll’ #2

As I have previously said, I aimed to incorporate my own Verblist I had created from Richard Serra’s Verblist list a few months back, into my work now and again, I felt like it would work really well here to explore the use of materials, manipulations and lay outs. I chose ‘To Roll’ from My Verblist.

There’s this idea where beauty is a “legitimate and necessary qualification for a women’s rise in power” (Koo, 2004,  p 302). This is also used within glamorising women in the kitchen, not only to appeal to men but also other women, so they feel as they would look beautiful, should they follow this. Through using ‘To Roll’ and crushing this idea, I took the rolling pin and used it with force, much like Rosler did within Semiotics of the Kitchen, at 4.50 (see below in link), she except rolled the air and had got more and more aggressive when showcasing which utensil did what. I followed this but decided to roll the icing.

4.50 Rolling pin

 

I aim to take these further and project them back into the kitchen – look at notes in first image. Note: Project on kitchen appliances may suggest ideas/visuals of Martha Rosler’s Body Beautiful series e.g. Hot Meat. This is what I will be experimenting with and researching after Christmas. I will also be continue to expand and explore with more clay figures to work with body image and types. It’s going to be exciting!!


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This is a lengthy one, sorry! See my initial sketchbook notes below:

I wanted to to experiment more with placement projection. I wanted to see how the setting adapted the portrayal of the film.

I had a group crit with Jane where we spoke about different environments to place the projections in and this stirred thoughts from Lockdown and Light which was a project created by Jane my tutor during lockdown, to engage with artists through social media. Below are the examples that caught my attention by Sara Heywood, they are all films and they encouraged me to play more.

Sara Heywood, Lockdown and Light, 2020.

 

After seeing Heywood’s projections I wanted to try!! I used the shower, the sink and the bath. NOTE: I didn’t want to think of any theories/concepts while I experimented. I wanted to focus on the exploration of material and setting and how it could be perceived and interpreted. – This was very beneficial.

Only Touch With CLEAN Hands projection in shower

Water has been active in my work within The Haze of Social Media series, it worked very well when trying to explore distortion and illusion. I wanted to return to this to see what it could add to my projections. See above, in Only Touch With CLEAN Hands projection in shower. There was something intimate and voeyuristic about this presentation as the bathroom is a place where you wash and cleanse yourself, nude – it adds to this visual that you shouldn’t be looking in yet, you can’t help but watch.

  • This was also a comment made from my group crit in November, they felt mesmerised by Only Touch With CLEAN Hands and felt as though they were waiting for something else to happen – the hand sanitiser conveyed this idea that you must touch a women with clean/clear intentions. Like a prized possession you cannot dirty. The shower accentuate this idea.

Does the use of cinematic screen in an unusual and intimate place, such as the bathroom, convey more possible sexual objectification towards women like Mulvey explores?

Reflection 15/01/21: I think it’s shown the body in a new light. Recently I have learnt that within films and in Reese Witherspoon’s films and views, pools and water are used to sexualised women e.g. Elle Woods in Legally Blonde is sprawled out on an inflatable in a bikini, suggests it feeds the male gaze. There’s these expectations that come with this social place as “the poo; is a pressure cooker of social expectations for women: to diet, shop, shave, tweezer, sculpt and tone” (Hess, 2019), it’s interesting to see here that with the use of water within this series, it does everything but explore these. This is something I have researched further recently in my January blog. Out challenges and goes against these expectations – which is what is very powerful about them. I may continue to use this exploration of how water adapts the visuals of the body as well as the representations.

Reviewing this, the formation of the film Psycho comes to mind. The aggressive gripping of the breasts reflects the famous scene of the male watching the women in the shower before he kills her. With this, the darkness surrounding the projection and the voyeurism, becomes quite sinister. NOTE: would be interesting to see if I created a slowed down film in response to Douglas Gordons 24 hour Psycho – would appear more disturbing?

 

I then moved to the bath to experiment with running water and ripples. The bath ripples gave the films a realistic identity, they brought the collecting, clutching and dropping to life. This has taken Serra, My Verblist research further – making the ‘to drop’ more impactful as the dropping breasts are confused with the splashes of water.

Only Touch With CLEAN Hands projection in bath 3

Only Touch With CLEAN Hands projection in bath 2

Only Touch With CLEAN Hands projection in bath

I particularly liked this image. There was a hair left on the shower wall, it was sitting on the nipple of the projected breast. It gives the imagery of normalisation that women have hair on their body, it almost challenges the stereotypical women where we are all seen to be shaven and hairless to begin to enter the ‘idealised’.

 

See below, I swapped from the film to a still image, in Just a Ripple, to increase the quality and I LOVED the use of water within this image, it adds so much more depth to this piece as well as natural manipulation. This is what I enjoyed when I used water orbs to photograph through in The Haze of Social Media, I liked that the actual image wasn’t edited but the perception of the camera was.

NOTE: the projection of The Haze of Social Media in the bath could explore all new meanings for that work.

There is a lot going on within these images, ripples from the water add to the image of the sculpture, distorting the body. It reminds me of Jenny Saville’s paintings that embrace the natural female form. The water exaggerates the imagery of the sculpture, suggesting a more realistic image of women.

Reflection 4/01/2021: Working with a bath bomb and photography could be a new outlook alongside the projection? Relations to Maisie Cousins visual and portrayal of the body??? + Koo’s writings..? 

It’s as though the colour pink from the image has leaked into the bath when creating the reflection. It also dispersed this pink tint of the shadows of the bathroom, which I love, it continues this vibrancy of pink that is fluid with my work, see still below.

Before I moved away from the bath I reverted back to photography I created many months ago into installation room when I created Only Touch With CLEAN Hands that I haven’t showed – not for any particular reason I am just aware I make A LOT of work!!

 

See below, in Where is the Breast?, this photograph was when I was focused on the shadow of sculptures and it was just an experiment see how they change in projection. They appeared like sweets – a comment Susan had made. The image below reminded me of ‘Where is Wally’, I placed a clay breast in the water to play with this illusion of what is real and what isn’t which I really liked.

See above, I did the same with a body too but defocused the breasts, it created an abstract background of which the body sat in – the clay bubbled leaving small ringlets of ripples surrounding the body, I find this image weirdly peaceful to look at as if it wasn’t for the bubbles/ripples no one would know that it’s sitting in water. Does it refer to the concept of women being drowned by gender roles and society pressure to be ‘idealised’ (in reference to Charlotte Jansen approach to the female gaze)?? Maybe…

 

I only took two still image with the sink but felt this was one of the most successful ones out of this session. It immediately gave the idea that there are more breasts present than the 5 sculptures that I placed in the sink. This shares a relation to my CUBED exhibition: the light from the projection gave shadows as if there were many more bodies present.

The image above looks like busy wallpaper and the imagery that something is growing around the sink – weird contrast with them being breasts? It completely dominates the space. NOTE: I think this would very exciting if I projected in the kitchen to see how this domination would come across differently with it being in a gender specific domestic setting. And what message/idea would that project?

In the image below I carried the experience I gained from using the corner of the bath to manipulate the projection of this piece – shares the relation to warped control that is suffered by women?

I wanted to off load all of this into this length blogpost with questions and notes because I felt that there are so many moments within this experimentation that I will want to revise and explore further!

NOTE: I want to involve myself within the projections more than just in the film, similar to Heywood. And to retry projecting into the kitchen – try different surfaces e.g. oven, worktop, hob etc. It may encourage ideas of gender roles within the kitchen and the ‘idealised’ of a housewife???


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