Fit to Survive?

A short film by Helen Paris and Leslie Hill (Curious) was broadcast on Channel 4 on the 12th of February (Darwin’s 200th birthday) as part of the Three Minute Wonders series and screened at the Natural History Museum as part of the Darwin200 event. It features footage of the Pacific Trash Vortex, which ironically looks like a beautiful installation from beneath the water, and poses the question : what will be fit to survive in the environment that we are creating?

Take Two Influences : Completed Project

I completed the project earlier tonight, although the piece had been finished last week, I still needed to take some decent photos, and also opted to take some video footage.  I set the mask up in my studio, hooking it to a white canvas board in which I had made a small hole to allow me to thread a string of lights inside the mask.

I was trying to capture the mask from various angles.

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I think that illuminating the piece has been a positive contribution both aesthetically and conceptually. The light coming from within the mask suggests bioluminescence, which is the ability to produce and give off light, an attribute which is a characteristic of many deep sea inhabitants, and can be used as camouflage, communication, or as sexual attraction.

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You can learn more on the subject by following the links below:

http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/bioluminescence/?ar_a=1

http://www.ted.com/talks/edith_widder_glowing_life_in_an_underwater_world.html

The polymer threads which hang from within the mask, and dangle down below it could represent tendrils from a jellyfish. If I had more time, I would like to explore the use of shadow, as I have noticed the shadows cast from the threads and think that these could have been exploited further.

In the video clip, the light could also act as a metaphor for the enlightenment of (some of) the human race to the harsh reality of how we are affecting our environment; the darkness, on the other hand, could represent death, blindness or ignorance to how our actions impact on the earth.

I feel that the way that the mask glows intermittently almost gives the viewer a sense of the mask breathing slowly, or possibly having some life contained within it.

View my short video at the link below:

http://youtu.be/VaSV2Bb2LmY

We were asked by Angela to pose two questions to the rest of the group regarding our work. My questions are as follows:

  • What are your initial thoughts on the aesthetics of the piece, and how do they change once the piece is illuminated?
  • Do you think the materials that have been used convey a concept behind the piece?

I’ve uploaded my work to the G Drive folder, and await comments from the rest of the group. So far, the work I have seen from others has been really interesting and varied; photography, mixed media and installation. I’m looking forward to seeing work from the rest of the group and hopefully receiving some feedback from them on Monday evening.

Take Two Influences : Making Session 2

My next stage in the process was to glue all the components of the mask together. One by one I carefully took them off the polysterene mould and laid them out, ready to glue. I had found some heavy duty super glue, and expected it to do the job with no problems. Unfortunately, my expectations couldn’t have been more wrong! The plastic would not stick together, even after holding it firmly for 20 seconds, it slid apart, or they dried in a “skin”, which eventually came apart too.

I needed to find another solution, so I decided that I would like to try to sew the pieces together. I didn’t have any large needles at hand, but I did have an etching needle, so I pierced small holes in the plastic and threaded polymer thread through them, and tied them together.

Having had ideas of adding fishing wire or other items into the head, I decided to keep the threads long, so that they hung loosely inside the head. I was working near an anglepoise lamp at the time, and noticed that the threads gave an unexpected beauty to the piece when it was illuminated. It almost looked like there was a jellyfish inside the head, so this made me feel that my previous disaster with the glue was destined to make me attach them together in this way after all.

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The only negative now was time, and I realised that I would not really be able to incorporate all the bits and pieces which I had planned to, into the head. I managed to sew the head together, and I decided I would fix some netting inside the head by tying it to the threads. I thought that this would also perhaps be interesting if illuminated, as I hope to photograph the piece (with lighting inside) in a darkened room.

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I hung the piece up using a fishing hook, and although I didn’t have much time to play around with all the materials that I had hoped to use, I actually feel quite pleased with the final result.

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I don’t think that my piece really resembles any of Archimboldo’s works, instead I have created a strange mutant head, with a snout-like nose and “bug”eyes. Its appearance does seem rather unnerving and sinister, which adds to the mystery of the piece.  I am hoping that the viewer may connect the use of the plastic bottles and the string and net inside the piece, and the fact that it is hung with a fishing hook, to my second influence : the polluted seas which surround us. Having had enough today, I plan to take some better shots of it (illuminated) and possibly some video footage.

Take Two Influences : Making Session 1

I have been collecting plastic bottles, and have also looked out an old polystyrene head that I found at work, which I have used as a mould to work on. At first I thought that I could maybe use a few varieties of bottle, but I started with the milk cartons, and fell in love with the texture and ease in which I could cut the bottle into components to create the features. I have really enjoyed the plastic as a material to work with, and think that it has a very contemporary, minimalistic feel to it, although this seems to contradict my influence of Arcimboldo.

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The eyes are almost goggle-like, and I have placed them slightly at an angle to one another, giving a bit of a bug-eyed, mutant effect. Perhaps this creature could represent the way that some sea creatures are mutating due to the pollutants in their environment. I have used mapping pins to hold the parts of the face together, and have found the polystyrene head an invaluable asset to allow me to create the piece.  At the moment, the head looks like a cross between a Cyberman from Dr Who and Nefertiti. I’ve have played around with this for about an hour and a half tonight, and stopped as it was getting late. I may finish this off tomorrow evening. I’m not sure where I’m going to incorporate the fishing lines yet, but I’m going to concentrate on fixing the piece together with super glue to stabilise it, before I add any other elements into it.

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