“…When people lose their way and lack a real purpose for living they often fall back on certain forms of escapism as a form of self-soothing…” – John Geddes, A familiar Rain
Continuing on from previous explorations in escapism, I intend to create work that explores narrative within the theme. How a human mind uses stories and fantasies to interpret the problems of their real lives. It is widely believed that when a person dreams, it is often their minds way of converging unexpressed emotions and desires, in an attempt to make sense of them, and find ways to achieve them. A sort of psychological problem-solving. I propose to use the narratives of my dreams as a basis for my work, seeking to blur the line between reality and fantasy. Creating a narrative that questions the desire to escape into other worlds and alternate realities due to the complexity of human emotion and coping mechanisms.
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; Later Edition edition (19 Oct. 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415205336
- ISBN-13: 978-0415205337
Artists to consider: Lousie Bourgeois, Pierre Huyghe, Omer Fast, Thomas Hirschhorn, Anette Messager, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Philippe Parreno, Mary Reid Kelley, Leigh Ledare, Ken Okiishi, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Nicholas Buffe.
Omer Fast was born in Jerusalem in 1972, and grew up in Israel and New York. His multichannel video installations blur the boundaries between documentary, dramatization, and fantasy, frequently generating viewers’ confusion. Fast often anchors his narratives with a conversation between two people—whether subjects recounting their own stories or actors playing roles of interviewer and interviewee. As dialogues escalate in tension, portraits of carefully calibrated identity emerge. Through repetition and reenactment, multiple takes of given scenes build shades of interpretation as a story is told, retold, and mythologized. Stories of origin, trauma, and desire mutate into one another, forming blended genres that confound expectations and disrupt narrative conventions. Projected into space or unfolding simultaneously on multiple screens, the work resonates with characters—whether a drone pilot, worker in the adult film industry, or a wife talking to her husband—who seem to express the elemental complications and disparities of their own identities. (art21.org)
Connections to my work: Destruction, anxiety, fear, Interested in the format of videos, some context of fear and anxiety, how authority deals with situations.
Pierre Huyghe was born in 1962 in Paris, France. He attended the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (1982–85). Employing folly, leisure, adventure, and celebration in creating art, Huyghe’s films, installations, and public events range from a small-town parade to a puppet theater, from a model amusement park to an expedition to Antarctica. By filming staged scenarios (such as a re-creation of the true-life bank robbery featured in the movie, “Dog Day Afternoon”), Huyghe probes the capacity of cinema to distort and ultimately shape memory. While blurring the traditional distinction between fiction and reality—and revealing the experience of fiction to be as palpable as anything in daily life—Huyghe’s playful work often addresses complex social topics, such as the yearning for utopia, the lure of spectacle in mass media, and the impact of Modernism on contemporary values and belief systems.
Connection to my work: Blurring of Fantasy/Fiction & Reality, Fantasy being as palpable as reality, Visuals (fish tanks), Ideas of UTOPIA, Everyone dreams of a perfect world, but everyone’s idea of perfection is different. “Encounter” and “events”
Annette Messager is a leading French artist whose extensive body of work over four decades encompasses drawing, photography, needlework, sculpture and installation. For her first Australian survey exhibition, the artist presents works from 1972 to the present, including major installations with kinetic or moving elements. Messager’s artworks are modest in their choice of materials. Clothing, badges, stuffed toys, yarn and synthetic hair all feature prominently, reworked by the artist to unsettling effect. Images are culled from popular magazines and newspapers, drawn by hand or photographed, while particular words are repeated over and over, like a litany.
Messager has spoken of her longstanding interest in ‘outsider’ art, including the work of amateur artists and children’s art. Equally significant are the historically overlooked practices, materials and techniques of women artists, which she has explored over decades. Since her debut in the Paris art scene in 1971–72, Messager has created an eccentric menagerie of creatures. Animal, human, monstrous or something in-between, her creations suggest the complexity of life as well as the mythologies, superstitions and vanities that underpin it – the shadowy ‘other’ within us all. From her earliest works exploring concepts of the feminine, to works of the 1980s that explore hybrid beings or ‘chimeras’, to later works featuring dismembered soft toys, unravelled woollen sweaters and hand-stitched limbs and organs, the body remains central while identity is destabilised.
Motion / emotion reflects the dual aspects of the artist’s practice. Motion is central to Messager’s recent works which sometimes incorporate mechanical elements and lights in their realisation. Some pieces employ ordinary household fans that blow objects upwards or round and round, as though animated with life’s force; others house more complex mechanisms that inflate and deflate various components. Several installations, featuring objects suspended by thread, rely on the movement of visitors and airflow to activate their gentle swaying motion. In the major installation Penetration (1992–94), lights hang between fabric body parts – lungs, digestive tract, reproductive organs – and soft pink foetuses, casting dramatic shadows across the gallery wall.
Probing the body from outside and within, Messager’s works reveal a keen interest in humanity and its fragile, emotional core. Nowhere is this more evident than in the dramatic room scale installation Casino (2005), featuring a billowing sea of red silk that rises and falls like breath. Originally commissioned for the 2005 Venice Biennale, and reconfigured for theMCA Australia, this work is inspired by the adventures of the wooden marionette Pinocchio in his quest to become a human boy. Disembodied puppet heads bob up and down above the silk, which suggests the blood associated with birth, whilst below it lie the limbs and organs the marionette so desires.
Connection to my work: Humanity, fragile emotional core, the body, who we are and why we are, feminine, complexity of life, “a fantasy inside our body, very strange and yet at the same time disquieting”.
It is sometimes said that the lines upon a person’s hand may tell a story or reveal their future. Here, the lines become a physical extension of the hand, with each word – protection, illusion, encounter, promise, tolerance, expectation, fear, doubt and solitude – repeated like a litany. (http://www.mca.com.au/discoverannette/)
American sculptor, painter and printmaker of French birth. She studied mathematics at the Sorbonne before turning to studio arts. In 1938, after marrying Robert Goldwater, an American art historian, critic and curator, she went to New York, where she enrolled in the Art Students League and studied painting for two years. Bourgeois’s work was shown at the Brooklyn Museum Print Exhibition in 1939. During World War II she worked with Joan Miró, André Masson and other European expatriates.
Although Bourgeois exhibited with the Abstract Expressionists, she never became an abstract artist. Instead, she created symbolicobjects and drawings expressing themes of loneliness and conflict, frustration and vulnerability.
In 1949 Bourgeois had her first sculpture exhibition, including Woman in the Shape of a Shuttle, at the Peridot Gallery; this work proved typical of her wooden sculpture and foreshadowed her preoccupations of the following years. Her first sculptures were narrow wooden pieces, such as Sleeping Figure (1950; New York, MOMA), a ‘stick’ figure articulated into four parts with two supporting poles. Bourgeois soon began using non-traditional media, with rough works in latex and plaster contrasting with her elegantly worked pieces in wood, bronze and marble. In the 1960s and 1970s her work became more sexually explicit. The psychological origins of her work are particularly evident in Destruction of the Father (1974; New York, Xavier Fourcade). Bourgeois’s work was appreciated by a wider public in the 1970s as a result of the change in attitudes wrought by feminism and Postmodernism.
Connection to my work: Themes of loneliness and conflict, frustration and vulnerability, relationships, innocence.
BRAVE NEW WORLD – Aldous Huxley
- Dystopian, sci-fi, negative view of the future, governed by a single political authority (much like the RDT of my “rift” dream), Themes of control, instability, corporations owning life, and technologies, and politics. How focusing on “being happy” can make us “miss out” on what it is to be human.
OLIVER SACKS – The man who mistook his wife for a hat
- Humans and myth making – Human mind is disposed to create stories, with two ways of thinking, creating the stories, and explaining the stories, leads to creation of narratives and can result in creation of religion, and denial of truths and facts. If the mind is consistently and continuously bombarded with a story, it will become to believe that it is fact, this can be used to control people.
- “To much involvement in the supernatural may blind one to the wonder of nature”
The minds eye & Internal imagery – Images/sight in the brain does not stop working when one is blind, it goes into overdrive. You can “see” the raised bumps of Braille. The brain can conjure up images, even without seeing.
Dreams, why we dream, why we dream, what do dreams do for us?
Water on Mars?!
Susan Sontag “Regarding the pain of others”
“The attack on the world trade centre, on september 11 2001, was described as ‘unreal’, ‘surreal’, ‘like a movie’, in many of the first accounts of those who escaped from the towers or watched from nearby… (…the way survivors of a catastrophe use to express the short-term unassimilability of what they had gone through: ‘it felt like a dream’)”
Aliens – Connection to supreme intelligence, seeking balance from conventional and unconventional life, feelings of separation from society, undiscovered part of oneself, an escape from reality, outlandish ideas and imagination, fear of change surrounding, loosing your family and home, your privacy being invaded, difficulty adapting to new surroundings, feeling disconnected.
Shaped by War – Don McCullin ISBN 9780224090261
Syria – current events in relation to work.
DYSTOPIA – Community or society that is undesirable or frightening.
While looking for images and videos of deserted and ruined cities, I stumbled upon the Chernobyl disaster, and found images of mutated humans, a lot of which were caused by radiation. This finding has fascinated me as the body has played a big part in previous work.
What is radiation? How does radiation cause mutation? Where has this happened?
JANE AND LOUISE WILSON
a strange or peculiar person or thing.“she was regarded as a bit of an oddity”the quality of being strange or peculiar.“realizing the oddity of the remark, he retracted it”
The disturbing universe of Jan Manski’s art conjures visionary
worlds through multi-disciplinary projects, which are
inextricably linked by an exploration of mankind’s most
elemental fascinations. Manski applies a combination of
humour, the macabre and skilful production in his ambitious
series referencing modern culture, mythology and history.
Jan Manski’s meticulous and total attention to detail has borne
two distinct environments to date. Work on ONANIA and
POSSESIA began in 2010. Where ONANIA springs from an
anaesthetic collection of diseased but perfectly preserved
consumerist specimens of a definite allure, POSSESIA proposes
the lingering damage of the ravaged twentieth century
Idol II (detail)
2013 / 172 x 64 x 64 cm (67 3/4 x 25 1/8 x 25 1/8 in)
mannequin head, horn, fat, polyvinyl acetate, old machinery parts,
wood, enamel, vitrine
Aetiology Unknown 33
2012 / 110 x 88 cm (43 5/16 x 34 5/8 in)
Do they relate? These works feel like they belong in the sea. The mutations are similar in my mind to the crew of the Davy Jones ship in Pirates of the Caribbean!
Patricia Piccinini (born 1965 in Freetown, Sierra Leone) is an Australian artist who works in a variety of media, including painting, video, sound, installation, digital prints, and sculpture. In 2014 she was awarded the Artist Award by the Melbourne Art Foundation’s Awards for the Visual Arts.
Art Gallery of South Australia, Australia:
Piccinini has an ambivalent attitude towards technology and she uses her artistic practice as a forum for discussion about how technology impacts upon life. She is keenly interested in how contemporary ideas of nature, the natural and the artificial are changing our society. Specific works have addressed concerns about biotechnology, such as gene therapy and ongoing research to map the human genome… she is also fascinated by the mechanisms of consumer culture.
Ishiuchi Miyako was born in 1947 to a country whose culture had been infiltrated by the influence of the US servicemen living on the naval bases in major ports and cities during the military occupation post World War II. The presence of the western soldiers had a profound effect on Ishiuchi’s early childhood, and inspired her to produce her first body of work- ‘Yokosuka Story’. Ishiuchi Miyako was one of a renowned group of Japanese photographers, including Shomei Tomatsu and Daido Moriyama who confronted the trauma of post – war Japan and the dawning of a new era by using their cameras as tools to express, record and explore what it meant to be Japanese at this pivotal moment in history. Her work is much admired by both her mentors. Ishiuchi Miyako’s personal projects include Yokosuka Story, Apartment, Endless night, Mother’s and Silken Dreams. In 2005 she represented Japan at the Venice Biennale. In 2009, she received the 50th Mainichi Art Award and was invited to participate in the Third ICP Triennal in New York. Her Hiroshima series was exhibited at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, Canada, from 2011 to 2012. In March 2014 she received the prestigious Hasselblad award. Her solo exhibition titled “Postwar Shadows” opens at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles in October 2015.
Andrea Hasler was born in Zürich, Switzerland, and currently lives and works in London, UK. She holds an MA Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art & Design.Her wax and mixed media sculptures are characterized by a tension between attraction and repulsion, and highly influenced by artists like John Isaacs, Berlinde De Bruyckere and Louise Bourgeouis. Recent solo projects include ‘Burdens of Excess’ at GUSFORD | los angeles, ‚Irreducible Complexity’ and ‚Full fat or semi-skinned?’ Next Level Projects, London. Hasler’s work was recently exhibited at the 1st Santorini Biennale of Arts in Greece, 2012. Her recent solo exhibition Irreducible Complexity will be featured in the upcoming documentary Snapshots of Shoreditch, looking at the art scene in the East End of London. Hasler also chairs artist talks at Next Level Projects and regularly lectures on contemporary art, with a focus on women artist and the body, at various institutions including the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London. Most recently, Hasler has won the Greenham Common Commission for 2014 and is currently artist in residency at Chisenhale, London.
These pieces are connected to a protest of storing Nuclear weapons. The women (and one man I think) stood hand in hand around the site of the nuclear weapons. The works were inspired by their camping, the reason behind the protest, and the effects of radiation.
Still from video experiment “Ectrodactyly”
Experiment on performing tasks with bound fingers to replicate sufferers of ectrodactyly. Rough sketch of idea.
I am notorious for taking selfies. I have several different apps on my phone to edit and create the selfies, with a love of highly editing them. An app I have creates mirror images in various forms. I have used this as a connection to conjoined twins.
These are conjoined twins Abby and Brittany, alongside created characters Bette and Dot from the television program American Horror Story. Overall survival rate of conjoined twins is 5-20%. Female twins have a higher survival rate than male twins. Around 70% of all living conjoined twins are female. Facts about conjoined twins
“Conjoined twinning is one of the oldest known birth defects in history and examples with human’s fascination with twins is extremely evident throughout historical literature. The Geminiconstellation, known in Greek mythology as Castor and Pollux, is arguably one of the best known sets of twins of all time.” – wikipedia
WITNESS – Nuclear bomb testing.
I’ve spoken to an anonymous person who witnessed nuclear bomb testing by the British military. He said he witnessed two of these bombs.
According to him, the bombs explode before impact, the explosion is immense, and he could feel the power of it. The radiation isn’t released by the explosion itself, but from the cloud. He said the first bomb test in Australia, everyone had their backs turned, so they did not actually see the explosion. The second they were sat wearing goggles, this was at Christmas island in Australia. He said there was a massive tower of smoke that rose from the explosion, then it burst out into a mushroom. The bomb itself was not dropped but was detonated inside a tower. He spends his days watching old footage from the wars, looking out for family members and himself.
He has had many health issues, including a negative reaction if he lets his hair grow on his scalp. He says its like cradle cap, but keeping his head bald helps. He does not believe that it is because of the radiation, and thinks that many of the health issues that have arisen are not connected.
Pencil Mask by Rebecca Horn 1972
Strapped around the face, this mask transforms the wearer’s head into an instrument for drawing. Horn has described wearing it: ‘All pencils are about two inches long and produce the profile of my face in three dimensions…I move my body rhythmically from left to right in front of a white wall. The pencils make marks on the wall the image of which corresponds to the rhythm of my movements.’ The spike-like pencils make this one of Horn’s more threatening works. However, it is linked to the feather masks, as feather quills were also once used for writing.
September 2004 tate
Restricted drawing? Methods to create without the use of my hands.
Vagina Painting, performed during Perpetual Fluxfest, Cinematheque, New York, July 4, 1965
Penwald Drawings are a series of bilateral drawings in which Tony Orrico explores the use of his body as a tool of measurement to inscribe geometries through movement and course.
His choreographic gestures derive from the limitation of (or spontaneous navigation within) the sphere of his outstretched arms.
Line density becomes record of Orrico’s mental and physical sustain as he commits his focus to a greater concept of balance throughout extended durations of drawing.
Making conjoined twins on photoshop
An attempt to draw circles without using my hands as I normally would. I used my mouth, the tunnel in my ear, my nose (taping the pen to my face), and extending my fingers with pens.
Although the drawings themselves are quite playful, the videos are busy and quickly done. These need to be tidied up, and done in a clean setting.
This is a link to a group I have joined on facebook which is anti-nuclear. I’ve asked them for their input, photos and accounts of Chernobyl. I’ve had positive feedback from this group, and they have sent me images, and links to more information. Here are a few photos I have received so far:
Here is an email I have received:
Fwd: Chernobyl resend
Philip Steele <email@example.com>
To firstname.lastname@example.org Today at 10:07 PM
Begin forwarded message:
Thanks for your inquiry about Chernobyl on the Stop Wylfa Facebook page.
I am not sure I can offer you a lot of useful info personally.
My own recollection is that on the day of the disaster I was on a big protest march in Bangor, Gwynedd, celebrating International Workers’ Day. The rain was falling in sheets and we were all drenched to the bone. When the news eventually came through about Chernobyl, it was only when we realised the colossal area of the fallout that we wondered if all that rain had been contaminated.
The restrictions on movement of sheep in North Wales after Chernobyl affected 334 farms and was not lifted for nearly 26 years. Its aim was to monitor radiation levels.
For information about the site, I suggest you contact Jill Gough, secretary of CND Cymru, who has visited the area of Chernobyl. Her’s is the email addres in the Cc bar at the head of this email.
Organisations have over many years brought children affected by the disaster for recuperative visits to the UK. Many have visited homes in Anglesey.
The lessons of Chernobyl have not been learned. It was caused by poor regulation, by corners cut in the interests of political and financial experience. PAWB (People Against Wylfa B) would claim that these same problems affect the nuclear industry in the UK today.
The medical evidence from Chernobyl has been the subject of great controversy and accusations of misrepresentation. The International Atomic Energy Agency was said to have overridden the findings of the World Health Organisation (I think). There’s loads of info online if you Google Medical effects of the Chernobyl disaster.
see also http://www.llrc.org/wobblyscience/subtopic/infleuk.htm
Best wishes for your studies
Pobl Atal Wylfa B
People Against Wylfa B
Tŷ Cerrig, Llangoed, Beaumaris,
Ynys Môn LL58 8SA, Cymru-Wales
01248 490715 ffôn/tel
0790 889 5986 symudol/mobile
CAM presents the first solo U.S. museum exhibition of Finnish contemporary artist and renowned documentary filmmaker Mika Taanila. Mika Taanila: Tomorrow’s New Dawn features a number of significant videos and installations created over the past decade as well as several important new works. The artist uses the documentary form to consider and often critique the implications of humanity’s drive towards advancement, frequently emphasizing the failure of utopian visions to fulfill their promises and questioning the costs associated with progress.Tomorrow’s New Dawn presents the North American premiere of The Most Electrified Town in Finland (2012), Taanila’s groundbreaking work about the construction of the world’s most powerful nuclear power plant in western Finland—the first to be built in the West since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. This expansive, three-channel video installation arrives at CAM following its world premiere at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany, in summer 2012, where it received critical acclaim. Also featured in the exhibition is Six Day Run (2012), a single-channel video installation about a Finnish runner’s participation in a grueling New York City race in which athletes run continually for six days on minimal sleep in order to achieve what spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy describes as “self-transcendence.”Tomorrow’s New Dawn also includes a new body of experimental photograms titled Black and White Movies (2013), inspired by climactic scenes in major Hollywood film productions, as well as several other works that illustrate the significant gallery practice that Taanila has developed over the past decade. Mika Taanila (b. 1965, Helsinki, Finland) lives and works in Helsinki. For more than twenty years, he has created works in film, video, photography, sound, and installation that investigate various technological developmentas and the innovators behind them. Solo and two-person exhibitions include Mika Taanila: The Most Electrified Town in Finland, KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki (forthcoming, fall 2013); On The Spot #4, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany (2008); Zone d’éclipse totale, Dazibao, Centre de photographies actuelles, Montréal, Canada (2007); Une histoire saccadée (with Erkki Kurenniemi), Institut Finlandais, Paris (2006); Hotel Futuro, Spacex Gallery, Exeter, UK (2005); and Mika Taanila: Human Engineering at Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich (2005). Taanila’s films and installations have been featured at more than 200 international film festivals and exhibitions, including dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012).
CROSSROADS is a thirty-seven-minute film by American artist Bruce Conner (1933-2008) and is considered one of the most iconic works in the history of the moving image. It was produced in 1976 from archival footage of the first nuclear tests conducted at Bikini Atoll in the summer of 1946. These are known as Operation Crossroads. For this film, Conner uses footage of the second test, which was an underwater detonation, known as Baker. As terrifying as it is beautiful, CROSSROADS examines the detonation of a nuclear weapon with a yield equivalent to around 23,000 tons of TNT (identical with the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki) ninety feet below the surface of the ocean, under a fleet of decayed and abandoned naval ships – test subjects for the bomb’s destructive powers. The test was filmed in its original film speed from various angles – footage that Conner used within the course of thirty-seven minutes, enabling the viewer to experience the detonation in fifteen repetitions – a provocative effect, reinforcing the event’s atmosphere in a mesmerizing sense of doom. For the purpose of its original documentation in 1946, sixty-four aircraft carried 328 still and motion picture cameras (some of which were radio-controlled drones). These cameras nearly formed a complete ellipse around the detonation site, allowing for a comprehensive documentation of the event from numerous angles. Some of these movie cameras were capable of filming at speeds of up to 8,000 frames per second. To paraphrase author Jonathan Weisgall, “Nearly half the world’s supply of film was at Bikini for the tests, and photographers prepared specialized equipment that would take a million pictures in the first few seconds after the… explosion.” One can therefore hardly dispute that “[t]he explosions were to be the most thoroughly photographed moment in history.” During the thirteen minutes of part one of CROSSROADS, the nine explosions seem to appear identical. Due to Conner’s careful selection, combination, repetition and variation of each shot, he carefully re-establishes the transcendent effect of the explosion, rather than dulling our response through a “standardization of catastrophe.” Through variations of observation, anticipation, surprise, and contemplation, Conner has created an interplay in the tempo of the editing, in the timing of the explosion in each shot, in “the speed on the footage,” and in the relationship of sound to image. The slow pace of his editing (fifteen explosions in thirty-seven minutes) and the slow motion within the shots allow us to take in the effects of each explosion and repeatedly experience the terror and awe of the nuclear sublime. At its extreme, the slow motion extends one second of real time to more than three minutes of screen time thanks to the special high-speed cameras at Operation Crossroads. Conner takes advantage of that expanded time to intensify the effect of the Baker test. The soundtrack makes an important contribution to that effect: The sound of the explosion in the first part of the film was created on a Moog Synthesizer by Patrick Gleeson, whereas the soundtrack of part two contains a minimalist composition that might be thought of as “slow motion music” gradually changing shape and texture like an exfoliating mushroom cloud. The music, a sixteen-track recording of Terry Riley performing on an electronic organ, “drifts” much like the clouds in part two. In their own way both soundtracks deepen and expand upon the perceptual and emotional experience produced by the images, whilst underscoring the sense of expanded time created by the varying degrees of slow motion on the visual track.
Nature and nuclear contamination don’t generally mix — though as scientific illustrator Cornelia Hesse-Honegger’s paintings show, the results can sometimes be strangely beautiful. She collects so-called “truebugs” living near nuclear facilities and areas affected by chemical pollution. True bugs “suck liquid from the plants they live on,” she says. “So if the plant is contaminated, they take a lot of radioactivity into their bodies.” Conventional wisdom holds that nuclear power stations don’t leak enough radiation to create mutants. But in some locations, Hesse-Honegger discovered mutations, such as asymmetrical wings and eye-cysts, in as many as 30 per cent of the bugs she gathered. “For me,” she says, “the mutated bugs were like prototypes of a future nature.”
Imaging the Body
ARTICLE The urge to image the human body has always been driven by a complex set of intentions.
Today, images of the body are usually taken by scientists wishing to understand the body’s structure and its functions, or by doctors looking to see how the body is affected by illness. But from antiquity through to the Renaissance there were other objectives: philosophical (to identify the location of the soul or ‘self’), theological (to disclose the glory of God’s creation) or aesthetic. Over the centuries the interior terrain of the body has been rendered visible with increasingly sophisticated technology, from medieval anatomical illustrations derived from dissection, through microscopy and X-rays to contemporary computer scanning techniques. The first preserved anatomical illustrations of the entire human body occur in the treatise written by the 14th-century Persian physician Mansur ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Yusuf ibn Ilyas, Tashrīh-i Mansūrī (Mansur’s Anatomy, c.1390). The treatise is divided into sections devoted to the five ‘systems’ of the body: bones, nerves, muscles, veins and arteries. The illustrations (and text) were based on the writings of Galen (c.129-216), whose influence shaped the understanding of the human body until the Renaissance. Numerous copies of Mansur’s anatomical illustrations were produced from the 15th to the 19th centuries, suggesting how widespread its dissemination was in the Islamic world. During the Renaissance the dissection of human cadavers became widespread, a trend led by the Flemish physician Vesalius who held the chair of surgery and anatomy at the University of Padua, a centre of dissection in the 16th century. The close observation allowed by human dissection led to increasingly detailed and sophisticated renderings of the interior of the human body. One form of anatomical illustration that was a popular instructional aid in the 16th century is commonly known as a fugitive sheet. These were delicate woodcuts representing the human body through a series of paper layers, which could be lifted to reveal with increasing detail the body’s internal structures. By the 19th century, anatomical illustration was no longer at the cutting edge of body imaging techniques. The mid-19th century saw the advent of microscopy, allowing the body’s microdimensional world to be viewed, whilst at the end of the century, Röntgen’s invention of X-rays was a radical departure in enabling the visualisation of the body’s inner architecture. Contemporaneously, photography allowed the body to be investigated in hitherto unprecedented ways. Eadweard Muybridge’s studies in human kinetics, published in 1887 in his enormous 11 volume work, ‘Animal Locomotion’, exhaustively recorded men, women and children (as well as animals) in a comprehensive variety of movements. In the last four decades, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been at the vanguard of internal body imaging techniques. Using a powerful magnetic field and radio waves, the technology produces detailed pictures of the body’s interior without exposing the patient to the dangers of radiation. It is a particularly sophisticated technology in its rendering of soft tissue, which makes it especially useful in neurological (brain) imaging. The Visible Human Project is an ambitious project running over the last 20 years to build a digital image library of MRI and computed tomography scans representing complete, normal adult male and female anatomy. The cadavers of one female and one male have been sliced longitudinally from the head down to the feet at intervals of 0.33 and 4 mm for the female and male respectively. Conversely, the way the body looks externally has been used to identify and catalogue the invisible inner characteristics of the self. Physiognomy, the study of facial characteristics to determine the inner nature, has its roots in antiquity but was taken up enthusiastically by a number of writers, thinkers, and artists through to the early 20th century. Most often the principal focus was on facial traits that revealed evil, criminality or mental illness. One especially visually arresting exponent was the eccentric Austrian sculptor, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, who made numerous self-portrait busts between 1770 and 1783 to exemplify a wide variety of pathognomic facial grimaces (which were caused, he believed, by the ‘pinching’ of malign ‘invisible spirits’). Karl Henning’s late-19th-century busts of two brothers with microcephaly are emblematic of the contemporary fixation with the physical appearance of the mentally ill. Jean-Martin Charcot, a Paris based neurologist, used photography to picture the visible manifestations of neurological disorders in facial expressions and gestures, primarily in female ‘hysterics’. “Behold the truth”, Charcot himself said of his studies of mental illness, produced at La Salpêtrière hospital from 1888-1918, claiming their transparent, impartial, and scientific documentation of the troubled mind via the pictured body.
Trawsfynydd is located on a 15.4 hectare site, on an inland lake in Snowdonia National Park, North Wales. Trawsfynydd was the first inland civil Magnox nuclear station and drew its cooling water from Llyn Trawsfynydd. It started service in 1965 and generated 69 TWh of electricity over the 26 years until its closure in 1991. Along with Bradwell it is one of two Magnox sites selected for accelerated entry to C&M.
Radiation, mutation, where am I going with this? Make something.
Props from short videos I have been working on.
There is something quite disturbing about the balloons. They look like tumors. Balloon was for a demonstration of the travel of radiation. Balloon blowing up though, could be like a tumor growing? More balloons! Less blood.
These are sarcastic posters. They combine extracts from the stories I collected of peoples memories concerning Chernobyl, as well as images of the power plant, and the current remains. The children in the photos are victims of radiation being passed from the parents who were exposed.
A quick video that shows how Radiation travels from its source. The ink represents the radiation, and as the balloon grows, the radiation becomes thinner, but it’s still there. The video is grainy, this represents how radiation was picked up at the Chernobyl site. Film maker Vladimir Shevchenko was at the site within days of the disaster, he thought the footage taken was damaged, however it was the effects of the radiation. The camera he used had to be buried as it was highly radioactive.
Children born by parents who were infected with radiation from the Chernobyl disaster, were often abandoned. This was due to a stigma of being an “infected person”. Many of these children were born physically and mentally handicapped. This video shows myself being restricted and attempting to blow up a balloon. This restriction is not only relevant to the physical and mental issues of these children, but to their futures. Many of these children were not able to receive medical help that they needed to live full and happy lives. Living in children’s homes, with no funding for medical bills, their lives were often short, or very difficult. As time passes, these cases have lessened, and more help has been available to them. It may take a long time, but eventually good things can happen, you just have to persevere.
Still from video “How radiation travels”
I tried to do this in a clean setting, the positioning isn’t great. May need an assistant to help with filming. The concept I do like. I think the visuals of the balloon are interesting, and how the colour and shape resemble a tumor.
These are stills from re-filming of my body drawings and the Ectrodactyly video. They do look better, but I don’t feel they work so well. The tasks with bound hands were to easy to perform, I wanted a kind of resistance in them that doesn’t come through. The drawing is playful but it’s not that relevant.
These videos are moving away from the drawing and focus more on resistance. In these videos I have an assistant bind my arms and then perform small tasks. I decided to bring back the balloon as I found it visually and contextually relevant.
Still from “Balloon girl”
Balloon girl worked well for the content, the task was difficult, and I ended up pulling a muscle quite badly in my neck.
Still from “Lipstick”
The binding was loose, and did not work in this particular position. This meant the task was easy.
Still from “Lipstick 2”
In this video I reverted back to the waist binding which made the task more difficult. I added noise and tint to the video to replicate the radiation from Chernobyl.
Still from “STIGMA”
Stigma combined images of me violently removing bindings on my hand, with clips from a documentary about the child victims of Chernobyl. I wanted to portray the stigma around a person being “infected” if their child was born with deformations and mutations. This video was not as successful.
The videos where I am stood were meant to be filmed on a totally black background, so that I dressed in black became a part of the background, a slight representation of the children being ignored or forgotten. The material did not cover enough space, and I used the blue boards to hide the busy background, but this did not work very well visually.
Below are some artists’ works that I can refer to for future videos. They all have a connection to the body, and text ideas.
Birth, death, and the journey between. Possible format for video?
Documentation of relationships, family, sex, social life, love affairs, teaching, cancer, mother’s illness and death, daily routine, radiation sickness, depression, suicide and death.
Possible documentation of film work?
Possible stills from film & filming ideas – bound, helpless?
According to the artist, the different positions evoke states ranging from ‘hysteria, head-banging, catatonia, to the awakened dead and the about-to-be-beheaded’ (note from the artist to Tate curator Evi Baniotopoulou, March 2005).
Body possition? How do I place my body in the films?
Body position. IMPORTANT!! Hysteria? Relevant? What about Victorian medical illustration? photographs?
Lisa Bufano was a disabled (bilateral below-the-knee and total finger-thumb amputee) American interdisciplinary performance artist whose work incorporated elements of doll-making, fabric work, animation, and dance. Lisa Bufano committed suicide in 2013.
Alison Lapper and Parys, 2000, Peter Hull 1999, Kiss 2001
These marble sculptures were made with traditional marble masons in Pietrasanta, Italy. They are partly inspired by the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum and other classical, fragmented or damaged classical statues such as the Venus de Milo at the Louvre. Neoclassical in appearance, they present images of ‘incomplete’ bodies, of people who have either lost limbs due to accident or who were born with a disability. By adopting the language of idealism, they relate to images of ‘idealised’ beauty that Neoclassicism sought to represent but also highlight the fact that while the notion of an incomplete body is something that is celebrated and acceptable within the context of art history, it is not always so in real life. These works explore the contradictions between our outside appearance and inner being, celebrating imperfection and the beauty of different kinds of bodies as well as the strength and vitality of the human spirit.
Look at old/vintage science demonstration videos, and public information videos.
Lorna Simpson – Cloudscapes
Looking for visual ideas for film? Dark space, spotlight.
Board – 1993
3-legged – 1996
Six boxes – 1997
Visually plain. Clean background no distractions. Some elements of restriction. Films are OLD, how to bring them into this time?
Trying to move away from Chernobyl, but keep a connection to it. I’ve decided to look at the Thyroid. Thyroid cancer is one of the main problems that arose from radiation.
I’ve been looking at the Thyroid. The most common cancer caused by radiation was thyroid cancers. I wanted to combine elements from my posters, and elements of the videos I have made so far. Looking at old Victorian photographs, and medical illustrations has been a source of visual inspiration.
Thinking back to Annette Messager, the Pénétration works (1993-4). Fabric body parts?
Producing body parts?
Clay pulp on wire frame
Silk and clay pulp
Creation of body parts led me to make these thyroids. I tried these two different techniques, looking at sculptures by Annette Messager and Louise Bourgeois for the fabric and Marc Quinn for the clay (like his marble sculptures).
Lino prints on white paper
Lino print on packing paper
I really enjoy making lino prints. This was about trying different materials and processes with the thyroid shape. As mentioned before I feel it has a logo like quality.
There’s something that I really like aesthetically about these balloon tumors. The way the ink settles and dries, then stretches when the balloon is blown up is very interesting.
An attempt to gather my thoughts to find a way to move forward with my work. I’ve created a list of things to do:
Critical analysis of research
Analyse – Why is it relevant? How does it relate?
Interpretation of research
Question range of methods and practices
Devise new applications
Make everything “look good”
Try to be inventive and original
Exploration of a range of concepts and approaches
Find a way to use my skills
How do I translate concepts? Why use the materials and techniques?
Sort out time management, communication, development and presentation.
Use of medical items in relation to the body, display in a clean clinical presentation? Blood pressure pump, stethoscope, etc.
Piece of work I have made, using a projection of a video of a balloon being placed under wrapped bandages on my throat and then pumped up. The balloon pulses beneath the bandage. Representation of tumors/cancers. Hanging in front of the video are red thyroids, the shape reminded me of butterflies, and the work of Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, her illustrations of mutated bugs found near nuclear power plants. This keeps a small connection to my research on Chernobyl and Radiation, but is more focused on the body and illness.
The video was hard to focus on with all the thyroids, so I am going to make clear versions and hang them to see if the installation works better alongside the projection. I like the idea of the red light though, in relation to blood and tissue within the body.
Here are some still from videos I have made using red, and balloons in relation to tumors and breathing.
Still from video “BREATH”
This video’s red is off. The idea was to blow up a balloon while bandaged, not using my hands. This is representative of breathing. The task was very difficult to perform, and I think the video suffered because of it. The finished product is a short and laboured piece.
Still from video “EYE BULGE”
I think eye bulge was very successful. It is my favourite of the videos. The red light was applied after filming. The balloon can been seen much more clearly. The use of an assistant is vital to these films. I see it as medical intervention. Without medical assistance, tumors are able to grow and ravage the body, eventually killing it.
Still from video “THYROID ERUPTION”
This was about playing with materials. Wanting to represent the body without using the body. There is a combination of food colouring, bicarbonate soda, washing up liquid and vinegar. The combination creates a chemical reaction (most commonly used in science class volcanoes). The idea was to portray the disease taking over. The film isn’t great, but it has an almost vintage feel to it, much like old science demonstration videos.
Still from video “TUMOR”
Tumor is similar to eye bulge, I think its a strong video. The balloon is less visible on the neck, but is much more related to the thyroids and ideas surrounding my work.
I have created clear thyroids with acetate. These work much better than the solid red as they allow the projection to be seen completely through them. They also reflect light onto the walls that have a very natural, and almost tissue like quality. I put a fan on the thyroids so that the shapes move around the room. With the red light and shapes you have a feeling of being inside the body. This internal feeling is very interesting, and I wish to continue looking at this idea and developing it.
Alongside the video and hanging thyroids I want objects relating to medicine. I plan on using Victorian inspired items and images.
Here I have painted the inside of a jar with an acrylic and latex mix (this means I can easily remove the paint afterwards). The result is something like a gloop, giving the resemblance that some unknown body parts have been stored inside. The bulb is designed to be similar to some of the early bulbs. (See below) All to add along to the feeling of old medical equipment, and the theatres of the Victorian era, where surgery would be performed in front of an audience.
The jars are made to resemble specimen jars. I have used red to keep to my theme. I’ve also given them tags. These are leaning more towards aesthetic, rather than substance, but alongside the work I think they add to the ‘feeling’ that I am trying to portray.
Here I have used various bottles to create my own ‘poison cabinet’. Combining these elements has a ‘museum’ feeling to it, but I think it goes well with the work. The collection of objects is to create a feeling of creepy medical situations, and Victorian medicine is rather scary.
The idea behind the work is to create a feeling of being inside the body, being inside a space where the body is explored.
“Early Victorian ideas of human physiology involved a clear understanding of anatomy (at least among experts; but the populace often had hazy knowledge of the location and role of internal organs), allied to a concept of vital forces focused on the hematological and nervous systems that now seems closer to the ancient ‘humours’ than to present-day models. Little was known of biochemistry or endocrinology. Traditional ideas of the body, whereby women were regarded as smaller versions of men, and ‘turned outside in’ (i.e. with internal rather than external sexual organs) were gradually superseded by a binary concept of sexual determinism, in which difference governed all aspects of physiology, health and social behavior. As the body was also defined as a closed system of energy,
physical, mental and reproductive expenditure were held to be in competition. Hence the notions that male sexual ‘excess’ led to debility and female reproductive health was damaged by intellectual study. Hence, too, must have derived the Victorian prescription for many ailments: rest.”
After this small assessment, I have decided to create a book that uses found images and images of my items together. This will create a book that focuses the items as they are quite cluttered in the space. Combining them with found images of Victorian medicine will give a better understanding of where I have found my inspiration, and how I have gotten to where I am with the work.