For my topic tackling on the experience of drowning, I plan on using mirrors, words(which may be from cut outs) and photographs as my media for my artwork. Using these media, I plan to create a kaleidoscope that invites the viewer to look into the piece from the small hole on one side.
When I envisioned creating a kaleidoscope for my piece, I took into account my past young self experiencing something magical and surreal, but at the same time, getting a glimpse of something familiar and yet unknown.I think a kaleidoscope gives a nostalgic feeling about one’s childhood and embodies the idea of another world encased in a small delicate space. When you look into a kaleidoscope everything in the form of patterns occur at once. As your eye looks into it, you also somehow become ignorant of the rest of the world. The things you see in a kaleidoscope can be juxtaposed as simple yet complex in the way that you cannot exactly define what it all sums up to. And the more you look, the more enamored and fixated you get in trying to make sense of the patterns presented to you. I relate this to seeing what I shall describe as a “life review” in those moments underwater.
The use of the mirror will be essential to my work, not only because I plan on making a physical kaleidoscope, but also because the mirror is very flexible as it symbolizes many themes which my work is connected to.
Mirrors have always been considered symbolic since the ancient times and was said to be an object which reflects an “image of the soul.” They have the capacity to induce self-introspection in the way that it invites a viewer to look at one’s self.
As I’ve researched, I found out that mirrors have only been explored as a medium in art during the recent times.
Often, artists make use of this medium as a way to crystallize theoretical and psychological ideas-some examples of themes connected with the mirror include narcissism, vanity, and self-awareness. Some, on the other hand, use mirrors in order to draw attention to light. Mirrors are also said to serve as gateways to parallel worlds through illusion, multiplication and distortion of spaces.
Mirrors can also be likened to water. They have similar properties(a person recognizes his own reflection on both surfaces). The mirror and water are both calm and destructive, and channel and bend light(sometimes even acting as a prism). Further more, mirrors are linked with self-creation and self-destruction, two things that were present in my experience.
Instead of colored beads or confetti, I plan to use torn photographs in my work as the small pieces that would be reflected in the mirrors of the kaleidoscope. The reason why I want to use photographs is because the photos are usually authentic records of the past, and these photographs will be of mundane images of what my child self remembered during the time of drowning.
As much as possible I will look for pre-existing photos of specific images, however if I’m trying to find a specific photo which I do not have, I will probably take a photo of it myself in the present. I might also try to scan them and then digitally reprint them on colored acetate to resize them or create a further translucent feel.
I envision these images to create elaborate patterns of broken memories which will both confuse and evoke a feeling of wonder from the viewer.
Aside from photographs, I might include cut out words from various existing sources that I already have(from my old kindergarden books and now, readings from college)The reason why I wanted words to be part of my work, is because I think words have a certain strength in which they suggest as well as hide. I want it to be ambiguous and explicit all at once. I like to think that although I feel that I’m keeping all of these thoughts to myelf, the words are actually already around me. I guess I relate this process to the fact that while you’re drowning the words are all in your mind, you just can’t get them out? And in this case, the words are there I just have to find them.
Since this I’ve reincarnated my experience to a literary piece, I might also either try to incorporate certain lines or verses in the work, or display the poem alongside or on the work.
note for myself to think about: I am not sure whether I will collage all of these to be put in the kaleidoscope or if I will place them freely so that the elements(pieces of photos and words) keep moving.
Review of Related Literature
A. Art Works
For my RRL, I’ve done some extensive artist hunting. Here I discovered that I have just about the knowledge of an ant about the art world. So this is really a continuous discovery of other artists, some I’ve heard about before, and some who I now encounter for the first time.
- “I Am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds” by Damien Hirst(2006)
The first time I heard about Damien Hirst was probably through his work in “Natural Selection” wherein he showcased animals in formaldehyde. The next time I heard about him was in FA102 about his “A Thousand Years” showcasing the life of flies. Now, I chose his painting “I am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds” as something related to the artwork I’m planning to make not just because it’s part of a series called “Kaleidoscope Paintings”, but because the work shows Hirst’s fixation with death, and also his expression of death as a celebration of life. The title of the painting was something said by J. Robert Oppenheimer when they tested the first Atomic Bomb. While Hirst used dead butterfly wings in order to create his piece, I plan to use photographs and mirrors instead to evoke this continuous propagation of images of mundane things in life in the context of seeing it near death. I want my work to show how no one really knows if death is the greatest blessing known to man, that although many people think death is an ugly thing, I guess it can be painted in different lights, that in the midst of something being broken we also see something beautiful.
Ltd, Science. “Damien Hirst: Kaleidoscope Paintings.” Kaleidoscope paintings – Damien Hirst. Damien Hirst, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017. <http://www.damienhirst.com/texts1/series/kaleidoscope>.
“Art 02 – I Am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds.” STORM BIRD DESIGN. N.p., 09 Feb. 2016. Web. 19 Feb. 2017. <https://stormbirddesign.wordpress.com/2016/02/07/art-02-i-am-become-death-shatterer-of-worlds/>.
2. “Light Rain” by Chris Wood (2015)
Chris wood is a light artist who uses dichroic glass to create her installations which produce mandalas of light. In Light Rain, she draws the connection between light and water in the form of rain using bottles, sand, and the drizzling sound. Her works struck me in the way it strings together different senses at the same time. It gives the illusion of movement, fluidity and exposes the power of light to complex structures.
In relation to this, I want to also further mention another artist’s work, Soo Sunny Park’s “Unwoven Light”(see additional souces below for pictures) whose installation drawing focus to light also influenced my thought of making light an essential part of my artwork because without light, one cannot see or experience the world around them in color.
“Installations & outdoor works.” Installations & outdoor works. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017. <http://www.chriswoodglass.co.uk/gallery.php?gallery_id=4&start2=0&start3=0&start1=0&hash=4eeb7e1bf1921ac84b653d62ee8c4bdc68af7761472>.
3. “Pool Party” and “Principessa” by Agnes Montgomery
Agnes Montgomery’s collages are made in a very clever manner. She puts together found images and creates a whole different world that may seem surreal and transport one back to the peak of their childhood imaginations. I can relate this to what I wish to do with my work because I wish to create a similar effect of surrealism and childishness. It also influenced my work to find existing objects or images and piece them together in my work.
Jeanmendoza. “Clever Collages by Agnes Montgomery.” · Lomography. Lomography, 13 Nov. 2011. Web. 19 Feb. 2017. <https://www.lomography.com/magazine/119488-clever-collages-by-agnes-montgomery>.
Montgomery, Agnes. “Agnes montgomery.” Agnes montgomery. N.p., 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
Soo Sunny Park’s Unwoven Light Installation
“Shimmering Chain-link Fence Installation by Soo Sunny Park.” Colossal. N.p., 31 May 2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
Billy Collins’s “The art of Drowning” is a book of poems that I found related to my artwork because the in this book, the title poem which is entitled “The art of Drowning” talks about a man reflecting about his whole life while he is drowning. It’s a piece that resonates with my experience about questioning why the life condenses into one burst of explosion when one approaches death.
“The other Side: Mirrors and Reflections in Contemporary Art,” on the other hand, is an article about an exhibition which featured artists who used mirrors as mediums. It gave me insights on the symbolism of mirrors and how they were used in art that helped me in the process of choosing what medium to use in crystallizing my artwork. Similarly, the journal “The Viewing of the Self:A Reflection on Mirrors as a Medium” also helped me understand the way mirrors were used and how it represented psychological ideas as well as the use of reflection.
As I researched, I also found out that my fixation on what happened to me, which was usually described as “seeing your life flash before your eyes” in movies, is not just something that happens to just one individual. I found a journal “Life Review in the Critical Care” which wrote about it as a phenomenon called the “Life Review” and it explains that this frequently happens to people who had experienced near death experiences. Theories about why it happens include individuals reflecting on their life or expressing that there is no outside force that judges you, rather it is the self, you as an individual, who does the judgement. Another theory is that maybe one is trying to find a past experience that would help one survive in that near death situation. Its a moment where times seems to slow down and an infinite amount of moments become condensed in one moment.
- Collins, Billy. The art of drowning. Pittsburgh (Pa.): U of Pittsburgh press, 1995. Print.
- Villarreal, Ignacio. “‘The other Side: Mirrors and Reflections in Contemporary Art’ on view at the Belvedere.” ‘The other Side: Mirrors and Reflections in Contemporary Art’ on view at the Belvedere. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017
- Demere,Claire H., “The Viewing Self: A Reflection on Mirrors as Medium from the 1960s to the Present” (2014).ha
- Jenko, M., L. Gonzalez, and P. Alley. “Life Review in Critical Care: Possibilities at the End of Life.” Critical Care Nurse 30.1 (2010): 17-27. Web.
Part 2: I suddenly had a somersault of ideas regarding my third topic while coming out of the bathroom. For my topic concerning grief, I suddenly felt like I could use photography and words as a medium to draw focus on what is missing or not present. I still have remnants of things which are related or associated to things that I’ve grieved over because they are gone. An example of this is an umbrella sleeve/case, the old rusted bag which my keychain used to hang on, the garage where I first saw my puppy.
By taking photographs, I feel like people can see better that these items or beings are real, that they used exist and by taking a series of photographs of things that are not there, I can let the viewer fill in the gaps themselves of these missing items. Similar to the way one draws suggestive lines where one uses broken lines and employs the eye of the viewer to fill in those parts that are hit with light themselves. I’d juxtapose these photographs with titles of items that are not there and encourage the viewer to try and find or place the item within these photographs.
I haven’t done so much research on this topic so far, but through last minute hunting, I’ve come across Darren Jones’s “A Time and a Place” which features still life of “personal objects which one accumulates on short trips away from home” which the artist describes as things that exist together momentarily but are eventually discarded or left behind. Yet those items speak volumes about who used to own them. It is relevant to my work because I want to create a reversal of this process and instead feature things present but represent things that are lost, and this in turn will shed light on the artist or other people who own the lost items.
source: Pentry, M.”10 Best Contemporary Still Lifes,” The Guardian. 19 October 2013. Web.19 February 2017.https://www.theguardian.com/culture/gallery/2013/oct/19/10-best-contemporary-still-lifes