Group Drawings: Scaling Up

This final drawing day with John Bentley for the term was a great departure from the loose and simplified style we had been exploring. However a common thread seemed to be in that here, we again manipulated perspective and composition. John gave us each a numbered fragment of an image which in their isolation were extremely abstract. He said the drawings would be joined to create a much larger whole but from this pixelated matter it seemed impossible to imagine this end result. He stressed the importance of accuracy, in the marks as well as how it scaled up onto the A1 format. My section was very complicated and rendering a copy became vey time consuming as I had to be conscious of tonal range and the various mark qualities. It was incredible to see how my drawing was given meaning and realised within the context of the collar. The collaboration of the exercise I feel was really successful as we were all able to share in the sense of achievement when the piece was revealed.

For our second drawing day with Will Stevens we looked into the possibilities of primary colours. Although this is a very simple concept, constantly evaluating how colour works against and with others is hugely important. Using a chosen image we played with combinations of two primary colours, one as the base and the other in the line drawing. I was most intrigued by the blue on the red as they are very different but communicate well in a subtle way. For the next task we manipulated the LIDL logo that featured these three colours and produced some humorous but exciting pieces together. Taking this simple logo and dissecting the colour into blocks and the logo as a pattern each group achieved a complex and unique representation of Henry VII for the large portrait. With the translucent quality to the plastic carrier bag we realised there were dual possibilities to each colour, with the reverse being more muted down and explored tone with this. This reflection made me consider the materials we use to draw with through collage as well as fabric and the possibilities they posses when viewed in a more open way.

Advertisements

Assessment Block 2

For my final knit samples I wanted to create a collection of samples that express an interest in form, tactile elements and colour. From my previous sampling experimentation, I reflected on these successes to develop my final pieces. In order to combine the grey and red colour palette, as coherent within the collection, I adjusted original grey tone, with a cool undertone to a warmer tone which was also featured in my drawings.

From my visual research I looked to emulate the prominent curved edges and forms. With knit I found there were so many techniques to keep in mind and I saw it becoming easily confused and overcomplicated with my latest experiments. To move forward I decided to focus on manipulating a single method and explore in more depth a compelling approach to proportions of colour. In my zigzag sample, I alternated the direction to creat an undulating form that I found draped beautifully upon presentation. I explored a tonal range of colour with pops of the ochre tone and brighter green that were more unexpected. Also through adjusting the tension I achieved a  contrast between breathier areas and more dense sections of knit.

I did come across some technical obstacles, where small mistakes led me to need to re-hook a single sample several times over. Although I know the pieces were perfect I feel they communicated an aesthetic I was pleased with, demonstrating my experimental approach.

Below are some images from the technical notebook. Although the process isn’t as immediate as the stitch making there is a certain satisfaction to creating something new with a established skill. I found my feedback for the block to be very encouraging, with my intentions for the samples being recognised. From the first assessment the presentation of my samples has improved substantially, Julia did give a note however that I should try and present my visual research more meaningfully. Moving forward I will keep this in mind and respond to this contructively for the next block.

Collecting the Exotic

From the previous lecture I have become intrigued by the process of putting the ‘exotic’ on display and how this is linked with the action of Collecting. Although I discussed the aspect of the presentation of the Orient within visual culture quite lengthily I felt the need to delve into the multifaceted way this collecting takes place within Western society. Through reading Baudrillard’s ‘The System of Collecting’, it dawned on me the significance of trying to acquire such things and especially when dealing with living people, how collecting takes something from its original context and transforms it into a ‘piece’ for exhibtion. The narratives crafted and given to represent the differences between East and West, one viewed as ‘subject’ and the other ‘object’, leaves something to be possessed.

Colonialism to me is extremely problematic, I cannot fathom how a tiny nation on one side of the world can have such unrelenting power and hold over much bigger nations thousands of miles separate. The question of authority is what troubles me most, who gives this power and how can the infiltration of foreign land with the intent of control ever be just. I can’t help but imagine that the narrative would be entirely different if the roles were reversed, with those that inflict this upon others feeling attacked.

http://www.cap-concours.fr/enseignement/preparer-les-concours/concours-de-crpe/la-formation-de-grands-empires-coloniaux-mas_his_56I found this illustration to be poignant, the animated quality is exaggerated and stereotypical in its representation of characters  with the intention of a satirical tone. This physical cutting and claiming is an act of power.  The concept of dividing land is one that I have genuinely contemplated before. When looking at the world map, it makes no rational sense that the organic shapes of the land could be dived with such harsh straight lines, as if someone has taken a ruler directly to the printed image. If so, who? and with what motive? When reflecting it is clear, these manmade alterations are only present in certain regions and this is often related to politics. When dealing with geography, the inhabitants of these lands are irrelative and come as a part of the package, either to the hindrance of the conquerer or benefit through means of exploitation.

Being shown such examples was hugely upsetting, especially with the story of Sarah ‘ Saartjie’ Baartman. Her hardship seems exemplary of the brutality of the western world. Having thought she would be admired for the ‘beauty’ she was told she possessed, her role within western exhibition was purely about ridicule. Her physical appearance was shown as a kind of freak show, diminishing her humanity by presenting her as a collected primitive being. Often it is  through the process of presenting another as low, that one looks to elevate themselves. However in such a abhorrent display, it seems to me that the ‘exhibitors’ were the ones who were truly savage.

Hagenback’s human zoo’s use a collected troop of ten or eleven individuals to represent a whole (seen above: Sudanese troop). This live exhibition compromised of choreographed dance, native huts, eating rituals by hand and any other practice that seemed sufficiently ‘foreign’ and barbaric. Thereby generating a performance for the white spectator to confirm the western narrative given of these people and their culture, not in order to learn but to judge. Those involved were easily replaceable, all needed was a skin colour, as all else was designed. In this form of collecting people for display, the desire is not to prevent something from becoming obseilte.  These individuals will still exist irrespective of how the west tries to intervene, it is about conquering and being able to posses.

Within display the most obvious way of demonstrating ownership over a culture is through the ‘souvenir’ and the way these collected objects are presented as ‘Other’ especially within the idea of taxonomy.  The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford is a overwhelming example of this. As it lies unchanged, the various exotic objects are grouped through this one defining factor that they are foreign and typically primitive. Not being able to change the exhibit stop us from forgetting that at a time this was completely acceptable. In a way this then becomes an exhibit of how people tell stories of the past.

In response to these ideas I visited Leighton House to examine first hand how efforts to present the oriental world, are diminished in the hands of westerners that curate this information with their own intent. Unlike a museum the furniture and objects are seen in situ. What is intriguing is that the entrance and main entertaining quarters are decorated in an Arab style. The outstanding beauty is indisputable yet there is an air to wariness I tried to poses as I took this in. This grandeur is used to add importance and value. However as I explored the rest of the house and looked to be more critical, the traditional western design complemented by these elements of orient, that were said have been imported specifically, evoke a sense of souvenir of cultural education. By being able to posses the Eastern beauty and design it is as if has been conquered and the collectors takes what they want from this foreign world but is still able to maintain their western value and superiority.

As well as this adaptations are seen in the presentation of the arab ceramic art, where deers are incorporated into a motif tiling detailing. This evidences western perspective disregarding the culture it displays, where in actuality, such art does not depict animate creatures due to specific beliefs. It seems as though within the western world there is no respect for the cultures we destroy in museums and collections. Much of the information provided about the house was about restoration and this led me to reconsider the concept of mummifying to send a human into eternal life. By laying these tiles and creating this installed collection of a home, Leighton cements his name but also a twisted and corrupt narrative of the Eastern culture he is said to have admired.

Bibliography

Leighton House Museum: London

Images

En Chine Le gâteau des Rois et… des Empereurs. (1898) [Online image] Available at: <http://www.speurders.nl/overzicht/kunst-en-antiek/zeefdrukken-en-tekeningen/politieke-spotprent-en-chine-le-gteau-des-rois-et-137208865.html&gt; [Accessed 25 Nov 13]

Pitt Rivers Musuem, Oxford, England. [Online image] Available at:

<http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g186361-d215644-i55378784-Pitt_Rivers_Museum-Oxford_Oxfordshire_England.html&gt; [Accessed 25 Nov 13]

<http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/governance.html> %5BAccessed 25 Nov 13]

<http://www.shopcurious.com/curious-trends/Cabinets-of-curiosity-revived.aspx> %5BAccessed 25 Nov 13]

Sartjee the Hotentot Venus. (1810) [Online image] Available at: <http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1490165&partId=1&people=108609&peoA=108609-1-7&page=1&gt; [Accessed 25 Nov 13]

South Sami at the Hagenbeck Zoo. (1926) [Online image] Available at: <http://sciencenordic.com/sami-never-sold-their-souls&gt; [Accessed 25 Nov 13]

Sudanese troupe at the Hagenbeck Zoo. [Online image] Available at: <http://kwekudee-tripdownmemorylane.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/of-other-races-inhuman-zoos-and-fallacy.html&gt; [Accessed 25 Nov 13]

 

Journey Towards Knit Final Samples

As I work towards making my final samples I am continually learning new skills and using this to progress my development. Tim showed us various ways to embellish a knitted sample on the machine. Using the e-wrap technique from casting on I explored adding fringes, which I found gave a tactile dimension. The fringes worked better with the raffia rather than soft yarns as they held their shape whereas the wool became confused and lost. Within my sampling, learning how to hook hand knits samples onto the machine gave a differentiation in weight, which was appealing. As I combined various methods I found the samples becoming more personalised and exciting in response to my inspiration.

Although knit gives a specified end result I have seen through the process of making and observing the 2nd and 3rd years how innovative the results can be. As we all continue to experiment I can also see how each individual has adapted the techniques and are producing really exciting personal outcomes. From the samples below I am most interested to explore the concept of reattaching in different ways, I think the red yarn manipulations that I hooked into the grey sample are very compelling and have the potential to be developed. However I feel the grey and red colour palette is very separate from my other samples. I don’t want to abandon the colours though because the red brings a boldness that I think could be exciting. The question is now how to incorporate this cohesively within my final pieces.

The processes using the holding levers in various ways allowed for some intriguing techniques as seen below. With these we began to explore shape and in turn colour combinations and mixing to different effects. In my tutorial with Julie we decided I should pursue the techniques using the holding levers and consider facing the triangular shapes in the same direction to give a curve, complementary to the circular forms in the drawings of my crystal plate. To move forward with my ideas to create more considered and refined samples I thought very carefully and planned. I found using photocopies and collaging them a productive way to realise new compositions for my knit final samples. From these I trialled how the ideas could be implemented, in order for the end result to posses a better sensitivity- the feedback I had from my stitch samples.

Found details

IMG_8389

IMG_8459

IMG_8393

IMG_8396

Some inspiring textures and surfaces that I noticed on my journeys that felt reminiscent of some of the stitches I had been exploring in Knit this week. I like the proportion of the smaller dark details situated within more larger subtly textured areas.

Orientalism & Visual Culture

Today’s lecture was extremely compelling to me as we considered the concept of Orientalism. Although I have never explored this idea theoretically, I have always had a curiosity or interest in questioning how the western world sees and comments upon what is different. Seeing this within modern society, it is enlightening to reflect on how this ideology has played out, developed and been dealt with throughout time.

It seems as though Westernisation as term has evolved from dictating geographical location to defining what is ‘progressed’ and ‘better’. This therefore infers that the opposite might give the term Eastern connotations of being primitive and low. Edward Said proposes the term ‘Other’ as the way in which all that is derivative of the Orient is viewed by western society. He comments on the mixed relationships Europe has with this society of ‘Other’, often its own cultural contestant. In order to better understand this we need to question perspective and what the vested interest could be in presenting the ‘exotic’ in such a critical way. Despite this there have been western figures such as Abraham Antequil Duperon and Baron de Mantesquien that have studied and looked to complex Eastern systems in order to critise and bring to focus the short comings of Western democracy.  Those who were truly committed to exploring and presenting the Eastern world objectively often had their work suppressed due to its displacement within the established narrative of the time. These theorists had visited the subject of their study and ingrained themselves in the language. Instead of learning from this authentic research it is instead the manufactured work of James Mill, ‘The History of British India’ who’s ideologies became the fundamental drive behind the shaping of Britain’s India policies. The desire to present an India that was archaic and static suited economic position by concluding the citizens were not ready for self government. In the same way, this is a narrative that is still apparent today: when we look to the Middle East, and how the need for democracy served as an excuse for invasion.

Whilst considering how the west views ‘strangers’, it is crucial to take a shift in viewpoint and consider how we too are viewed as ‘other’ to someone else. Western literature, art and knowledge especially within the 19th century portrayed the Orient as a sensual, mystical, barbaric, undemocratic and irrational realm: everything the narrative of the West was not. The problem here is that these narratives can be turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy with enough fuel.

Paintings are instrumental in understanding, visually, how the West looked to degrade and position themselves above the Orient within history. These images shown and discussed within the lecture provoke some very curious reflections of the presentation of women within this division of global society. An extraordinary numbers of points of discussion arise with these images yet these are only a few excerpts  from the whole crafted narrative of the age. Within each, a commonality is seen in how skin colour and tone is exaggerated to immediately distinguish importance and status. Even within this culture, that is viewed as beneath western society, there is a hierarchy, with the black woman of Gerome’s Moorish Bath, exposed physically, subservient, at the very bottom of this ranking.With Ingres’ Odalisque with a Slave, the title immediately evokes roles of power and servitude. The reclining nude female is clearly a courtesan, being waited on by the people of the eastern world she seems to be set in. Her body is open and she appears aware and comfortable with the gaze of the viewer. The hypocrisy here is that within Delacroix, The Women of Algiers the women are more covered in contrast yet their posture and type of clothing suggest immorality and intends to questions their worth. Seen sitting relaxed on the floor, in these primitive poses they are entirely stripped of their femininity as women of the age would not have been seen on the ground, their clothes would simply have not allowed for it.

These images are aligned with the narrative of the time to propagate meaning and to exist an affirmation of white superiority. Even if this is not seen literally in the scenario of the painting, the way the western painter controls his subject and presents these women of the Orient, demonstrates layers of prejudicial and exploitive behaviour of the western world. Ingres’ The Turkish Bath of 1862 is an overwhelming example of this attitude. These foreign women are seen in an almost fantasied manner, the composition suggesting the very idea of a peephole. Their bodies relaxed convey oblivion, therefore leaving them vulnerable and inferior to their western onlooker. The concept of the ‘gaze’ is that the act of looking is never neutral, whoever poses it holds power especially if the watched person is unaware. It is the body of ‘Other’, where the sexual frustration of the west is played out, thoughts that were not subjected to their own women. Unless they were courtesans the middle and working class women of the time were not sexualised, their clothing oversized as if to dwarf or cage the woman. Not only is the presentation of these women in such work of art massively contemptuous, these men use the tools of visual language to manipulate a situation to suit their base desires. Seen again through imagery, within the animated movies Pocahontas and Mulan these oriental tales are presented by westerners of imagined worlds, that even the native would not necessarily recognise.

This judgement of sexual immorality was not solely reserved for the women, within literature the scenario of a black man assaulting a white woman speaks volumes of the division between these worlds- how ‘other’ is the enemy and not to be trusted. Individuals from the Orient region were presented in this prejudicial light and often within visual language degraded to the status of animals. The film King Kong was often critiqued and thought to be about questioning the ‘irrationality’ of interracial relationships.

This exploration truly resonated with me and issues discussed when addressing Delacroix’ image Turk Smoking on a Divan fed their way into how I viewed works later in the gallery space. The anonimity of the title Turk serves to disregard the people as a generic whole, becoming cartoon images to the narrative. When sitting down the western man is still active, in roles of reading and writing, whereas here the man is entirely relaxed, passive and his purpose is inconsequential. On a visit to the Tate Britain, I saw how curation affects meaning. In a room that presents very ‘British’ people, a painting featuring Indians stood out. The curators  simply give the accompanying text, ‘This unruly sporting event exemplifies the looser moral codes of British colonial life’. This sense of depravity is unavoidably obvious in the picture, but I query whether this is due to the artist’s interpretation and possibly a  vested interest. Within the chaotic scene there is so much to take in but also much to analyse. What strikes me immediately is the distinction, the  Indians squatted on the bare ground are seen as heaving mass of bodies and the westerners clearly uncomfortable, seated on a higher level. Their bodies and their gaze are seemingly directed away from the natives and looks of distain are blatant on the faces of the pristinely dressed western men. With these men entirely separate and disengaged from the chaos this indicates it is solely the Indians that are corrupt and barbaric.  This presentation of the time seems to me as yet another act to reduce people to a set of judgements that allow for their mistreatment by a condemning society. One that does not itself accept but forces acceptance from others whose entire customs and beliefs are trivial within the manipulated pursuit for personal gain.

Bibliography

Images

Delacroix, E. (1832) Turk Smoking on a Divan [online image]. Available at: <http://www.imagekind.com/A-Turk-smoking-sitting-on-a-sofa-by-Delacroix-art?IMID=0d3d87df-faab-4965-a487-4db3cf97d51f&gt; [Accessed 15 Nov 13]

Delacroix, E. (1834) The Women of Algiers (in Their Apartment) [online image]. Available at: <http://makeyourideasart.com/art/masters-of-art-eugene-delacroix-1798-1863/&gt; [Accessed 15 Nov 13].

Gerome, J. (1870) Moorish Bath [online image]. Available at: <http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/moorish-bath-32124&gt; [Accessed 15 Nov 13].

Ingres, J. (1842) Odalisque with a Slave [online image]. Available at: <http://keephistoryalive.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/art-history-wednesday-la-grande-odalisque/odalisque-with-a-slave-ingres/&gt; [Accessed 16 Nov 13].

Ingres, J. (1862) The Turkish Bath [online image]. Available at: <http://fineartamerica.com/featured/1-ingres-turkish-bath-granger.html&gt; [Accessed 16 Nov 13].

Zoffany, J. (c.1784-6) Colonel Mordaunt’s Cock Match. Oil on Canvas. London: Tate Britain.

Books

Mill, J. (1997) The history of British India. London: Routlege/Thoemmes.

Expanding Knit Techniques

As I continue practising with the knit techniques I am keen to start responding to my visual research and make connections. From this I will be able to explore the pathway in a more experimental and personal way. I have found, having had the stitch block first very helpful as I begin to do this. I am now looking at my drawings in new and more inquisitive ways, questioning how can I express the marks and have found myself able to move more fluently from drawing to material process and application. The ideas I experimented with may not always turn out as I expect but I am then able to push on through experimentation and try again by responding to a previous sample.

My drawings that explore colour have been more influential in my knit development. Within several drawings the colour comes through in a speckled detailing. Using a boucle yarn with a white and black mix I was able to explore this quality and also mix in the blue in a cohesive way. As I develop the knit processes I am fascinated by yarns and how they behave together texturally and tonally. In particular I admired the iridescent colour quality of the green against the wooly textures. By varying the width and length of my samples I have uncovered different aesthetics. I was amazed by the process of making chords that in themselves could become a unique yarn to hand knit or could be manipulated within other machine samples. After practising a lot with the transfer process I finally grasped the technique and think this could yield more complex and exciting results to be developed.

The samples above pull from the green and blue colour palettes and whilst I found these combinations successful I wanted to explore other prospects from my visual information. With the black and white yarn I saw a connection with the rock drawing beneath. The sensitive and smaller proportion of red was quite striking and I found this effective when developed in the knit process. Along with this colour I wanted to explore a sense of weightiness and fragility. The thicker yarns then allowed me to create some intriguing ridged surfaces by knitting on alternate hooks. This then led thinner yarn that follows  to have looser open stitches in juxtaposition to the more solid knit preceding.