yada yada yada. sometimes i can't shut up, when i'm typing. here it is.
BFA Proposal // First Draft
“Ciphers and Shrines (Notes on Visual Language)”
The basis of this project will be the idea of a ‘subjective history’. For me, it will be a way to distinguish what is essential from what is learned. I want to create a multi-sensory environment that mimics the environment I feel I am a product of. One that raises questions about what we control about who we are, and what makes it’s way in without our knowledge. This is especially relevant to the artist, as the process of art making can be seen as a ritual, with the product being images of a personalized visual language. The setup will be a comparison between what is fact, and what is myth. While this is an attempt at evaluating greater cultural influence, it makes the most sense for me to deal with this in terms of myself, as I can then diffuse outward to make connections between the viewer and myself.
Physically, I will be addressing this problem with an installation consisting of three major parts: videos, a sculptural component, and a book. The videos will be running in sync at times, and break away from each other at others. They will be shown on 5-6 small televisions placed on the floor, and will be simple loops of both created and appropriated footage that test the viewer’s ability to recognize and process the visual information. The book will be a stand in for opposing vessels for knowledge. It will be dealt with as a means of documentation, added to daily as I am going through this transitory period in my life. Inside will be a collection of collages, drawings, writings, photographs, other relevant material, and generally references to ideas being dealt with. The sculptural component will compete with the placement of the televisions, and will consist of fabricated tree branches hung approximately 12 feet above the viewer’s eye level. Hanging from the branches slightly above and below eye level will be found photographs in small frames.
The environment will be a manifestation of forms of knowledge that will be competing for the viewer’s attention. In our age, this is a typical scenario we have been conditioned to respond to. I feel that my entire sense of knowledge is the result of a process of siphoning information; dealing with an overload of visual and mental stimuli through a process of deciding what is important and what is not. While much of the self is constructed by what is learned, there is also the more essential aspect of what is with us, that we have not in fact learned, but still choose to believe. This is where mythology comes in. We look to myth, both literally and in a more ambiguous sense, as a way to resolve questions to which we cannot formulate answers.
Mythology will be referenced through the hanging of found photographs. The images will be borrowed from family imagery and public domain, and will be iconic in such a way so that they have personal significance, as well as room for interpretation. The act of hanging these from branches references pagan shines, quite literally. The installed space as a whole could be thought of as a shrine to my own constructed self, but also contains plenty for the viewer to connect with. For the viewer, this interaction will be like a shrine to some unknown, omnipresent order. They are then left to decide if this environment, and then wheter their own sense of myth is defined personally, or by a prescription of belief. On the other hand, knowledge will be referenced with the book, as well as with technology acting as intermediary for the passive reception of information in the videos.
Another aspect of what this project can be defined is the dialgue between what is inside and what is outside. The environment is being constructed as a way to bring outside environment, influence, and stimuli into the context of the gallery, to be considered. In a way, the process of interpretation will be like the artist’s ritualistic process of making. The artist responds to a somewhat emotional motivation by making images, and taking them through a process of rationalization. Similarly, the viewer will first respond to this environment visually and emotionally, and then rationalize to make sense of it. In order for this to be done most effectively, a corner space in the gallery would be ideal. Since a variety of media are being dealt with in the same space, two walls, and the interior implications of the corner will allow for the space to be designed so that things do not become too crowded. This will be an interior environment referencing it’s exterior counterpart, both formally and conceptually. The effect of ‘environment’ will be much easier to imply if the architecture of the gallery can be dealt with, and space can be engaged with more freely.