Monday, 24 August 2015

Post-Hiatus Printmaking update!

Every print I've made in the last 2 years that I have kept to put up here.

BEES, BEES, BEES (2014):

A body of work that began with this image, entered in the national 20x20 where several universities swap a print of each student with other Unis across Australia - unfortunately I could only keep the rubbish, off-centered ones (didn't have any acetone to line them all up), but here's the best of the worst:

The work developed into the 'secret language of insects', based on habitual movement/migration/communication between bees and other insects. I represented this unknown, unheard language with an official (made-up) language created in the 1800s, supposedly the language of angels: Enochian.


Another project was a historical research work - based on the genealogical findings of my Grandmother, Norma Jean Biggs, who sadly passed away November 31st 2014. Her dedication to researching our family tree was phenomenal, and I wish I had been able to start the project with her guidance. Unfortunately, I was too late, and I regret it too much. Grandma, you are and always will be missed. Lots of love to you, wherever you are. And wherever you ended up, I hope you got a good cup of tea. If not, they certainly owe you one. Thank you for everything.

What she found (a few years ago) was that our family is directly descended from King Edward I, the Earl of Longshanks, the Hammer of the Scots and what may be to this day that last of the most powerful and successful Kings of the English royal family. He was apparently a stubborn bully of a man, although a loving and loyal husband to his wife Eleanor (who bore him 13 heirs!), and claimed Scotland in a war that eventually ended his life, ignoring his mortal needs and health in favour of his war.

The body of work was about bringing him forward to the future - how would he react to my life and the society I live in if he came to visit? There is humour in this project, as my family is a jovial one*, so I used that as a tone of voice, rather than a serious one - I don't want King Eddy ragin wars with people I know, especially seeing as I'm friends with a descent of Braveheart! I made a few prints, and a series of videos which can be found on 'King Edward's Youtube Channel', link here:

 Unfortunately this work was not well recieved by my tutors, mainly because it was reviewed with another project, detailed below, which seemed to dominate the discussion between my biased tutor, the other two tutors that were quite fair and nice about it, and myself. It didn't have to have humour in it, sure, I agree - but I'm absolutely no good at being serious about a topic like this. Why not make it enjoyable for the audience to view as well! I'm not ready to bring my viewers down to the ground, to bring up depression, anxiety, or anything else that might bum them out. It's not fair to make my audience feel sadness when I could give them a joke instead. Besides, it would have become too personal for me, which was already getting in the way of my progress. I didn't produce a huge quantity of work because I had to teach myself video-making skills from scratch - turns out art in an academic institution is not fully prepared for the insane ideas people like artists may come up with, and won't have everything they might require! God knows why else we're paying them to teach us how to write essays like high-schoolers! They do very well with what they have, or at least I have found this in the printmaking department. The quality of teaching definitely affects how you feel about learning subjects, I have found. That and printmaking is really fun. :)


This was the contrasted body of work - a different class entirely - which was originally to play around with the form of lost and dead languages that was continued on from the ideas and research produced in Bees, Bees, Bees. Rachel Berwick and her May-por-e parrot installations were a great influence on this, the resurrection of a dead language through a traditional ghost story. Unfortunately, celebrating the evolution of form in the languages that came before our own was not enough (I'm not that great an artist, although I am passionate about languages, and am glad I spent the time researching them so thoroughly. It was a lot more fun than producing the work!) so the work evolved itself, to be tied to pop culture and the language of the genres and brands that we had thrown at us every day. I attempted to make Olaf the snowman much more sinister than his store-bought poster suggested, with a code scrawled in glaring red numbers across his visage. The Polybius code, when solved, simply revealed an argument against why this poster should be bought, and why the branding and merchandise of pop culture was not necessary, and only a piggy-bank for already-major companies and corporations. With the theme of big companies lining their pockets with 'unoriginal rubbish' I assembled an alphabet, nicknamed the Betabet, from several dead and living languages, and wrote over a Minions movie poster, and a Call of Duty game poster as well, with paraphrased critiques from amateur reviewers written in the Betabet code. I also used video for this project with an idea heavily suggested by a tutor (who later reviewed me quite fairly, understanding what I had achieved in that class by his guidance), that I should buy and play CoD (I game I hate and never thought I would spend money on. Bleh. Even the cheapest one (this one) was still $20 >:( ) and use it somehow, with the war theme being very well-related to the history of language and code. I attempted to use the multiplayer of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for an idea that would involve me communicating with strangers in codes, and recording the reactions. Unfortunately, the multiplayer failed me, probably because I was a n00b/scrublord, a level 1 player, and the game refused to match me with anyone for a game, and the only time it did work successfully, I stupidly decided to use a mic and speak in Esperanto (a language made for everyone that no-one uses) and when all the single males I was on the server with realised I was female, it just became a hubbub of useless reactions, and I was eventually disconnected for terrible ping anyway.

Some of my language studies, from Bees, Bees, Bees and Betabet. All linocuts printed with relief and etching (oops, naughty me) inks. I like the effect of the etching ink more, it's more substantial and felt better rolling it onto the plate. I love that tacking sound! *schik schik schik*

I did have an incredible technical success with this project though - first green-screen video I ever made! Link here:
The video has several layers - The first layer being myself filmed Napoleon Dynamite-style going about the house, doing chores, being productive until unexpectedly interrupted by rain when I go to hang out the washing... so I ditch the housework to sit down and play a game, demonstrated by the controller. (the stripes on the controller are a personal thing, nothing to do with the work, just something to jazz up the otherwise boring and kind of slippery controller. Although a fellow student pointed out that it could have been war paint.)
The second layer is the text, which acted as the green-screen, which was a Latin translation of a very paraphrased critique of the latest Call of Duty game, Advanced Warfare, which (if you, dear reader, are interested) can be more or less translated back through Google Translate if you so wish. The original critique is by ZeroPunctuation, a.k.a. Ben 'Yahtzee' Crosshaw, an Australian-English journalist working for Escapist magazine, and can be found here: (NSFW, a bit of swearing/crude language!).
The third layer was the audio from the first or second (can't remember) campaign of CoD:MW2, where my tutorial was yelling in my ear to get a move on and blow up an airplane, while I was hiding under a truck, shooting anything that moved (pretty much everything) because I barely understood the game mechanics at that point. The insistent and incredibly annoying yabber from this man proved very useful audio for the video, and I think it worked really well in the final result! Needless to say, I'm proud of that video.
The fourth layer was the video green-screened behind the latin text - the video from CoD:MW2 didn't record successfully, unfortunately, and I had to quickly record another game (Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition by From Software/Bandai-Namco/Hidetaka Miyakzaki, a game I actually enjoy playing in my minimal free time) so although the footage is actually unrelated, it did everything I wanted it to, and worked better than the snowy-white footage I had gotten from CoD:MW2 would have.

That hint of movement distracting the viewer from reading the Latin without pause worked perfectly, and it reviewed exceptionally well. The technical aspect was great, and it brought that project back up on its feet, although the biased tutor I had immediately attacked me for using games (something I didn't want to do in the first place) and confusing 'high art' with my 'other, unproductive life'. What are you, my mother? Sorry mum, but at least you know how little I play games nowadays ;)

So learned a lot from that rather useless final review, which reinforced the fact that games, no matter how well they're made, the dedication behind them and the success that follows, are hard pressed to find a place in the world of Art Snobs. I'm sure that tutor thought her line was a real zinger, probably cackling all the way home afterwards, but that really affected me in ways that human beings can afflict on each other accidentally all the time. I don't know if she was having a bad day or she just has no faith in me (she reviews me almost every semester and I'm sick of her) or if she has just gotten a bad rap from games in the past, but if you're a tutor, maybe that tutor, please do not attack a student, someone who is learning from you, and paying you to teach them new skills from their own stressed-out, poor-man's pockets, for having a life outside of art. If you do, you probably shouldn't be teaching... and if you disagree, sure, students need guidance because they usually don't get it or forget to spend time on your class project, but don't make it personal in such a valuable timeframe! At least mention it earlier, take them aside, discuss it if you need to and learn their side of the story. I don't know if you think you have the time or not, but if there's anyone who doesn't have any time on their hands, it's an art student. If you still think that this was a good idea on the tutor's behalf, you are a heartless person, because I don't wish it on anyone.

Why is art even taught!? It doesn't even have a 'right answer'! What is art? Is it art because somebody says it is? In which case, how exactly do high and low art exist? Why do we care that some guy from Vinci in the 1600s painted a lady with no eyebrows? Sure, he concocted some amazing water and flying machine ideas and created the principles of atmospheric perspective and sfumato, but how did those few half-arsed paintings get more popular than his multitudes of sketches of everyday Florentine life in the Renaissance? Who said he was amazing, other than he had a brilliant mind? Who said he was high art? Did he say it? Was he that good at PR? Wow, did he invent that too? *sarcasm*

Doing fine art academically has made me realise how much I love illustration in an academic context. That was the degree I should have gone for first - although this knowledge of art practice, self-advertisement and art history is going to serve me well. When people misunderstand me and think I do Finance at uni, I don't bother correcting them anymore. They'll probably think better of me for it. And it stops them from asking for a drawing of themselves. Maybe I should start charging? Would $2 for a quick sketch stop you asking 'arty' strangers for self-portraits? Go pick up a pencil, look in the mirror and do it yourself. You know what, if you think you're crap, do it everyday, and I guarantee you'll get better at learning what faces look like and how much history they hold that most people don't notice. Who cares if you even draw it well?
And maybe you can sell it, too. Just call it high art, she'll be right mate.  

I'll be uploading the rest of the photos once I've sorted through them and have better internet, but that's it for now, thanks for listening, I'll drop another huge essay some time soon!


 (Personal spiel below, you really don't have to read this unless you want to know why I've been a bit weird to talk to lately)

* Although, to put a damper on things again, the family is less light-hearted now. It has almost been a year - Christmas was not an event so much a habit we put ourselves through, and there was very little mention of Mother's Day, aside from 'we kids' and Dad going to see Nanna and Pop for a couple of hours. Grandbob died the same day as Grandma did, 4 years earlier. Mum said 'it was like she had planned it'. It's going to be hard for her when the date comes up again, and I'm not going so well either. I know this was meant to be a professional blog, but it didn't seem to be going that way, so I may as well put my own thoughts up here while I'm still alive, even though my anxiety levels are increasing every day. Last November affected me a lot. I never understood mourning before, and now the slightest thing can set me off. I'm worried that it has been a year and in that time I've become so much more fragile. Why are our minds our worst enemy? I'll surely give myself ulcers with all of this thinking and anxiety - thought and feeling are now separate. I'll feel the pangs without having thought of anything beyond death as if the thoughts and fears have become subconscious. Distractions are great, stress is unbelievably horrible, and meditation is showing promise, although no guarantees. I am absolutely against medication of any sort - the brain and its chemicals are delicately balanced already, I don't see how chucking some maybe-pills into the mix are going to help. The other possibility is that my body has just got bad timing, and the anxiety, which has pretty much plagued me all my life, but for MUCH shorter periods of time, is a product of me transitioning from teenager to young adult. Although I don't think I've stopped having headaches since November, or wanting to cry, or thinking about death and the nothingness/unknown. It has been non-stop for 10 months. I finally told mum how I was reacting last week, and she told me off for bottling things up again and not telling anyone! Haha :') I do that, I suppose, I don't really know how to show emotion too well, my body doesn't want to release it. I didn't realise what had happened when we got into the hospital. Nobody told me anything, just looked at me silently, crying, as we walked in barely a minute too late. I only realised later, when the priest came in to say words she would have loved to hear. I had come straight from work, unable to leave earlier, as much as I wanted to, even though I would have been of no use at the hospital. It had been a very hard month, I hope Mum and my aunts and uncles were able to reach her somehow. If I knew she could hear them, it would make all the difference for me. I still regret not skipping work to go see her at her home, comfortable, chatty, lovely, the last chance I ever got. A lot of guilt is sitting there. I did exactly the same thing with Grandbob, missing my last chance to see him walking and talking, although very tired and quietly suffering, because I was busy playing on a computer with my cousin. I hope what they say about an afterlife, or heaven, or limbo are true, because there are so many people I'd like to see again, or even meet as I never had the chance, like RoosterTeeth's Monty Oum, an amazing man with a terribly efficient work ethic, and Terry Pratchett, the smartest, funniest, loveliest man I will never meet. 2015 hit me very hard, in other words, with a lot of unfair personal losses that seemed to come out of nowhere, and I am a very different person to what I was before and getting worse all the time. If you know me in person, please do not approach me about reading this, I would rather not get another reminder of these fears for the day, and I will be thinking about it every time I see you around afterwards. Please spare me! Just let me deal with my stress so it can be out of the way and I can rebuild myself again. Only one more stressful review to go!