FMP: Development

From my work in the Textiles pathway, I realised the benefits of having a fixed colour palette as a basis for an art project, the limitation being a stimulus rather than an obstacle to creativity. I decided to use the A5 sketches mentioned above as I had found myself favouring certain colours and wanted to explore what those colours meant to me. I produced versions of the palette using various media and as a textile collage.

Project palette
Project palette in textiles

I started working with Solidworks to plan and visualize my gearwheels sculpture. After importing one wheel from the original vector drawing, I was able to extrude it to 3mm and finish it to look like black acetate. I was then able to import and manipulate six gearwheels into something like a physical structure. It was fascinating to learn how to do this, but the effort involved and the amount of further work required led me to drop this approach.

Screenshot of six gearwheels modelled in Solidworks
Sculpture of six gearwheels modelled in Solidworks
Simulation of sculpture rotating

I had another idea of all the gearwheels flying away from a central point, as in the Big Bang (the theory that the universe formed from a singularity and subsequent inflation from which all matter and the forces which govern them was created). I built this using chickenwire strips to form a sphere and then strung the gearwheels within and around the sphere using lengths of coloured wire (representing the fundamental forces holding the universe together). The sculpture lent itself to some good photographs and films as I strung it up and set it spinning in the darkroom.

I also filmed it spinning over a stairwell. When playing this back on my laptop, I found an option in the application to view specialist films in 360° mode: setting this on manipulated the film into something more dramatic, twisting the view around itself. I recorded this and then viewed that in 360° mode, and then repeated the process. The last of these seemed to look like a black hole sucking in all matter around it and, when played in reverse, like the universe forming from the Big Bang singularity, a quite serendipitous discovery.

Viewing video of spinning sculpture in 360° mode
‘Big Bang’ video

The sculpture was as I imagined it but was flimsy, looked unfinished, and had a lack of focus. In the end, I decided the approach was too illustrative to be worth pursuing a more substantial mode of construction.

Visiting London in November allowed me to see several exhibitions. The Gormley exhibition allowed me to take a lot of photographs of people interacting with the art works, several of which had aesthetic merit of their own. Sometime in the future I’d like to try a series of paintings based on these photographs looking at how art is viewed, perhaps alongside an investigation of some aspect of the philosophy of art.

At the National Portrait Gallery, I saw Elizabeth Peyton’s portraits and copied two of these in my sketchbook. Working close-up on just one face brought a sense of focus to the work: balancing representation against the needs of the colour shapes was absorbing. I followed through on this with large-scale portraits in the Final stage.

After copying a detail from a Ken Kiff painting (or, rather, the photograph I’d taken of it) in my sketchbook using oil pastels, I tried to get the same feeling of colour work in another piece based on a collage of a fashion magazine photograph with one I’d taken in Nottingham outside the Royal Concert Hall. Multiple sketches led to a composition that worked for me and I then worked directly into my sketchbook with oil pastels. I was pleased with the result, with a composition and colour application helped by studying the Kiff paintings but still wholly my own. This approach to colour use also helped with the large-scale portraits I produced in the final stage.

Collage of fashion magazine photograph and photograph taken in Nottingham
Oil pastel painting

Alongside the art making, I was still exploring the philosophy of Free Will and Determinism. I gathered my notes and made a list of concepts, terms and phrases that I associated with the discussions I had been reading. This list formed the basis of my final pieces and will do for future work on this subject.

Blended collage of five pages of notes

I was still hoping to create one or more sculptures to show as part of my final presentation and was inclined towards making these from clay. I had no experience of sculpture and decided to create a personal ‘language’ that I could use: a set of basic forms that I might combine in ways that would relate to philosophical concepts. I started with a rectangular slab of modelling clay and began to make slight deformations to the shape, photographing the new shape from different angles and then returning to the basic shape. I documented each shape in a sketchbook and then wrote down thoughts about each shape. However, although it proved an interesting exercise, it got me no nearer a language that might inform the sculptures I wanted to make.

Some of the shapes made

In addition to lasercut, I took animation as my choice of advanced workshops. With two other students (who provided most of the creative impulse to this rather cute film), we produced a simple stop-motion based animation using wire spooled out from a roll.

I’d also watched a documentary, ‘Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin,’ which had included some wonderful animations by Em Cooper, created by successively painting onto glass using oils, photographing the painting and then erasing and repainting. I researched how this was done but it required much more equipment than I could assemble. I then thought to use a painting application, Rebelle, to do the same thing. I attempted a quick study animation, saving the painting at each stage with a different name instead of taking photographs of frames. It worked quite well and is something I will follow up on later in my art practice.

Digital emulation of oil on glass animation.

The philosophical concept of ‘causa sui’ (something which is generated within itself) is fundamental to determinism, in that nothing can be causa sui, everything has its cause. I wanted to make something of this idea and finally settled on a simple animation using modelling clay. The film neither demonstrates the concept nor the refutation of it, but I wanted the title to remain as it is simply because that was the original idea – perhaps the idea of the film is causa sui.

Causa Sui