Autumn Assessment 2017, Studio

Artist Statement

My work explores themes of nature vs human through the process and of abstract painting technique. I am interested in the fragile relationship between humans and nature, and how such different components can exist on this world simultaneously. The occurrence of natural disasters is evidence that nature is superior to human-kind. The power of nature is comparatively beautiful yet frightening, gaining respect from those who inhabit it. This related my research to Edmund Burke’s theories explored in his book, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. I also researched the concepts studied by artists such as Myeongbeom Kim, who combines aspects of nature and man-made, and Kate Macdowell, who blurs the difference between man and nature through states of destruction.

Aiming to portray ideas that the sublime helps us to feel part of humanity, I thought carefully about my selection of colour. My initial experiments comprised of complimenting and aesthetically pleasing colours. In comparison to this, my final painting uses unappealing, dull and muddy colours that step away from the beautiful and in to the sublime. This representation of the sublime links to our desire as humans to feel an emotional connection to the world, as well as the portrayal of nature and its sublime qualities.

My decision to use a paint pouring technique to create my abstract piece, consists of the careful mix of PVA glue, water and silicon spray. Looking at Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionism paintings, encouraged me to use the medium alone in order to explore its fluid potential. My technique involved the use of my body to lift and tilt the large board at different angles, encouraging the paint to flow and spread over the surface. Alike Pollock, I allowed for mistakes and accidents to happen. This decision portrays how nature is uncontrollable. The paint pour created earthy, bodily colours that combined and mixed to form a marbled effect with detail only revealed once the painting is closely studied. This method aims to represent the relationship and co-existence of humans and nature through colour and consistency, for its beauty and delicacy.

In order to enhance the depiction and emotions of the sublime, I would recreate this paint pour on a larger surface. This technique would need the involvement of assistants to help tilt a larger board. I am interested in how focusing on the creation of the painting in relation to Pollock’s video performance, (of the creation of this paintings) would evolve my concept into human vs nature further.

 

 

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Landscape and Memory, Studio

Landscape & Memory Assessment

 

Illustrated Report  Metropolis and Batman.

In this report I will analyze German Expressionist film maker Fritz Langs, science-fiction film Metropolis (1927). The silent film is set in a dystopian city of the 21st century called Metropolis, where the problematic concepts of man vs machine and class struggle arise. I will focus of forming a connection between the film and the cultural context that inspired its creation while using views of relevant historical and thinker’s such as Homi Bhabha and Edward Said to support my analysis. Secondly I will investigate how place has been similarly represented in Tim Burton’s Batman movie, and reveal the German expression influences of cinematic techniques and themes. Once highlighting the topics of German expressionism displayed in both Metropolis and Batman, I will evaluate what this reveals about place representation.

Lang’s film reflects the cultural issues Germany was currently facing in the 1920s; a time of the Weimar Period and the First World War. He addresses concepts of communism, fascism and capitalism while tackling government ideologies. This is portrayed in the film through themes of corruption and class-struggle. Lang’s Metropolis was not only his vision of the future, but a warning of how the state would climax into modernisation. Cinema offered the people of Germany an escape from the hardship of daily life, dissatisfaction with authoritative figures and anxieties of hyperinflation. This made the portrayal of new worlds as modernist and futuristic desirable in the growingly popular historical and sci-fi genre.

metropolis
Fig 1: Brandy Dean, Set of Metropolis, digital image, Pretty Clever Films, October 30, 2012, accessed January 4, 2018, http://prettycleverfilms.com/galleries/on-the-set-of-fritz-langs-metropolis-1927/#.Wk5D7610f-.

The futuristic city of Metropolis is presented through dark city-scapes. Metropolis did not mirror the appearance of Germany, but shares similarities with the physical dimensions of city expansion developing further West. Lang was also influenced by ‘New York, and especially the Art Deco architectural style of the time, certainly influenced the visual design of the film.’[1] Although the film explores concepts of modernism through the exhibition of extensive and appealing city-scapes, beneath this vision Lang reveals the social disputes of injustice and violation. Metropolis is separated by class, with the rich living above the glorious city and the poor slaving away beneath them. This split in the city of upper and lower, can be seen as metaphor for the class-struggle currently taking place in the German civilization due to issues of capitalism.

Lang’s use of advanced cinematic techniques cleverly portrays the dystopian city of large eccentric buildings, and evokes concerning emotions for the immoral conditions of the lower-class workers. The use of dark tones and shadows create moody scenes that reflected the attitudes of Germanys society. Camera angles were used to generate shots that exposed towering, intimidating buildings. Another well-known cinematic technique used to enhance the size of the city was the ‘Schufftan process,’ founded by Eugene Schufftan. It involved the arrangement of live actors amongst miniature sets and mirrors, projecting the illusion of real life people inhabiting the city while enhancing its size.[2]

Batman
Fig 2: Netherith, “The preparation of the Gotham City model for that Batwing falling,” digital image, Batman Wiki, accessed January 4, 2018, http://batman.wikia.com/wiki/Batwing_(Burton_films).

Director Tim Burton was heavily influenced by Lang’s Metropolis and other films of the genre and era. Batman can be described as modern day film of German expressionism. We can see these connections through Burtons choice of themes, characters, sets and aesthetics. The most obvious similarity originates from the visual aspects Gotham City shares with Metropolis. Both cities contain looming, futuristic buildings presented in dark and gloomy scenes. Lighting and shadows were popular qualities used in expressionism to suggest and portray emotions on to the audience, through the contrast of light and dark. This technique is exemplified through Burtons use of shadows which concealed Batman’s face, accentuating the character’s mystery. Other cinematic techniques such as flashbacks and juxtaposition were used to aid the portrayal of characters’ emotions. This is frequently seen in Metropolis through displaying quick expressional shots on characters’ faces. And, when combining lighting with juxtaposition, the disparate social classes are exposed. However, characters emotional states and backgrounds in Batman, are revealed through the use of flashbacks in to character Wayne’s childhood memories.

When German expressionism film became popular, a new form of acting techniques became useful to portray themes of character alienation. The style of acting consisted of harsh robotic movements which are seen often in Metropolis through the mechanical-like workers. This method of acting highlighted the difference between them and the others, estranged in comparison, while their movements reflected their emotional state of emptiness and dehumanization. Burton uses this technique through The Penguin’s peculiar movements to reveal its deeper feelings. This can be seen as a another reference to issues of capitalism and concern when looking into philosopher Edward Said’s perception of humanism; ‘Humanism is the only – I would go so far as saying the final- resistance we have against the inhuman practices and injustices that disfigure human history.’[3]  These themes of alienation utilized in both Metropolis and Batman relate significantly to the emotions felt by society at that time.

The main similarity between Metropolis and Batman is how place has been represented through cities of hybrid characteristics and inhabitants, and what this represents. ‘The contemporary city is an ambivalent, hybrid space, both a site of multicultural richness and and a symbol of technological process and imperial domination…’[4]  And these hybrid characteristics are most visible through the split in the city making it dual in class and geography. The creation of the city of Metropolis and Gotham can be defined as a third space, a term created by cultural and post-colonial theorist Homi Bhabha, used to describe a liminal space that is in an in-between place. ‘It is the in-between space that carries the burden of the meaning of culture, and by exploring this Third Space, we may elude the politics of polarity and emerge as the others of our selves.’[5] It is this representation of place that allows reference to be made to Germanys social and cultural issues, while also constructing a warning of how the nation could progress as a result of these unresolved disputes.


[1] Martha Marvels, “Appreciating Films: Fritz Lang’s Metropolis 1972,” Lomography, November 24, 2011, , accessed December 3, 2018, https://www.lomography.com/magazine/117893-appreciating-films-fritz-langs-metropolis-1927.

[2] Ibid.,

[3] “Edward Said > Quotes,” Edward Said Quotes (Author of Orientalism), , accessed January 04, 2018, https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/24390.Edward_Said.

[4] Jessica Langer, Postcolonialism and science fiction (Place of publication not identified: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 111.

[5] Homi Jehangir. Bhabha, Location of Culture (Routledge, 2012), 56.


 

Bibliography

Images:

Figure 1-

Dean, Brandy. Set of Metropolis. Digital image. Pretty Clever Films. October 30, 2012. Accessed January 4, 2018. http://prettycleverfilms.com/galleries/on-the-set-of-fritz-langs-metropolis-1927/#.Wk5D7610f-.

Figure 2 –

Netherith. “The preparation of the Gotham City model for that Batwing falling.” Digital image. Batman Wiki. Accessed January 4, 2018. http://batman.wikia.com/wiki/Batwing_(Burton_films).

Resources:

Bhabha, Homi Jehangir. Location of Culture. Routledge, 2012.

“Edward Said > Quotes.” Edward Said Quotes (Author of Orientalism). Accessed January 04, 2018. https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/24390.Edward_Said.

Langer, Jessica. Postcolonialism and science fiction. Place of publication not identified: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Marvels, Martha. “Appreciating Films: Fritz Lang’s Metropolis 1972.” Lomography, November 24, 2011. Accessed December 3, 2018. https://www.lomography.com/magazine/117893-appreciating-films-fritz-langs-metropolis-1927.

Snider, Eric D. “12 Futuristic Facts About Metropolis.” 12 Futuristic Facts About ‘Metropolis’ | Mental Floss. July 25, 2016. Accessed January 03, 2018. http://mentalfloss.com/article/83617/12-futuristic-facts-about-metropolis.

 

Artist Influences, Autumn Assessment 2017, Studio

Robert Motherwell

 

Motherwell tries to unravel the deeper meaning of reality, something that is never seen and unrecognizable. Some of his most iconic works are related to the Spanish Civil War, which left quite an impression on the artist. Robert’s desire to explore, allowed him to move from one medium to another, from paintings and prints to sketches, collages, and drawings. His mission is to create substantial and eye-catching art imagery, which will transcend pure emotions, truth, and authentic feelings.

Autumn Assessment 2017, Studio

Woman as landscape

‘Nature is feminized because it is seen as possessing the same qualities as women at the time when most of the romantic writing was produced – Women were seen as being domestic, pious, moral, pure, gentle, kind, graceful, simple and beautiful; this was according to the nature of separate spheres: men and women were fundamentally different in terms of their characteristics as men were seen as hard-working, industrial, rational, assertive, independent and proud; none of which is easily connected with nature. Therefore nature was seen as the embodiment of all the characteristics that women possess and there are frequent references to this in literature, especially poetry.’