Positions and Practice – Week 6 (1/2)

Oral Presentations – reflection (part 2).

Following my conversations with my fellow students initially about my presentations, and the subsequent review with my tutor and other students this week, I finally feel as though my proposal is taking shape.

It is reassuring to know that I do not have to have something set in stone; that work can be fluid and change as the research progresses and new avenues materialise. But because of this my thinking and reasoning behind my work is much clearer.

Having shown my short film about my past work and two research proposal suggestions, I informed my peers that I knew I would already be producing something quite different for my final submission but it would be based on my leanings towards research into the use of environmentally-friendly processes that reflect the delicate nature of nature. It is through this that I aim to encourage people to learn more about how the human species has a huge responsibility for the planet we inhabit, and all the flora and fauna we deem less than ourselves. By creating images using techniques that have a short lifespan and which are made from the environment itself I hope to reflect the short timespan each individual has to help ensure planet Earth is sustainable for as long as possible. This also ties-in with my preference to use alternative processes as a means to work at a slower pace; many of them require long exposure of hours, days, weeks or more. For me this helps showcase how it can take time to make something wonderful happen, whether that be creating art or saving the planet but also reflects a need to be conscious of time passing so that things get done.

I had considered using the folklore of Cornwall as a base for imagery. These stories are passed down through the fullness of time and again, for me, create a connection to the short space of time we have as individuals to find our place in the world. They can create a community spirit and hold people together, inspire traditions and help inform and explain the complexities of human existence within its environments. Could modern folklore tales be created to encourage a dedication to supporting the environment in which people live without it being a conscious effort? Could I do this through this proposal?

Part of my research will look into the history of chemicals used in the creation of photographic processes and the effect this had on the people using them. It will also consider the specific chemical make-up of processes deemed safe for the environment at washing out stage such as the Cyanotype, and as I do love the rebirth of instant film through the Impossible Project, how the manufacturing of their products fits in with my desire to work with techniques that have the least impact. The idea of creating my own process (provided by the tutor who referred to it as a “josietype”) has also got me thinking – I’ve always been fascinated by chemistry but never felt I had the academic prowess to follow that subject in detail. As I’m keen to research alternative processing/printing options such as caffenol, wine etc. this is definitely an area for more consideration. Thank you also for highlighting Bill Jay – excited to read more about him and his articles/books but already wishing I’d had chance to speak with him before he died.

Following the presentation this week, I also hit on the notion of researching the mediums I create my work on. I have always been interested in making work on wood, stone, glass etc. but also want to look into further the types of paper I can use. Without giving too much away just yet, my tutor’s comment about a dinner party being a potential way to exhibit work has given me food for thought – sorry about the pun – and is now an element of my research.

I do not plan for my work to be evangelical or to make people feel told off. The content of the imagery, will, in theory, be quite abstract and in most cases left to whims of nature to help create – it is more about being a catalyst for conversations.

With that in mind, I plan to use the involvement of others in the creation of my work too. I am aiming to take up a few short residencies as part of my research and have determined a few places in Cornwall to approach.

I do know that I don’t particularly want the final ‘exhibition’ to be confined to an enclosed space. I would like the work to be situated within the environment and in such a way that viewers are able to take away a piece of the work so that before it fades it can give “moments of joy” – which is what human life is if you are lucky -and then go on to decompose and return to nature.

Reflecting on the idea from my tutor to consider the scale of the project, there may also be the potential to involve people from around the world to create an image using my instructions on the same day – I hope my connection who travels to the Poles will be able to take part. They could be used as a global conversation about our universal need to consider how we impact the planet, not just in relation to what we take from it or how human population is impacting on it, but how it is not solvable by someone else alone and where you can play your part.

This week has provided me with much needed input to focus my ongoing research safe in the knowledge that it is a fluid and responsive beast.

PS. I’m currently titling this project as:”When you can walk its length and leave no trace, you will have learned.”

Thanks to the Kung Fu TV Show for my inspiration.