My first thought when starting this self-assessment was “I wish I had blogged about many more activities and experiences I have engaged in during my MA”. My experience has been so fast and furious that there has literarily not been time to write up everything. As Jonathan once correctly observed to me “You have been studying and making as though this course was full time over two years”. Consequently, many so far un-blogged activities are also referred to here, alongside those I have referenced.
My second realization, was that I have written 50 blogs in a total of over 50,000 words which have had close to 2000 views. This includes recordings of two of my artist interviews. So please bear with me, as it could take some time to understand in depth what I have been up to in Unit 1, but I hope you will think it worth it.
- Formulate, describe and implement a challenging and self-directed programme of study, relating to your Project Proposal
I was interested to compare my proposals at the start of the MA,
with those I presented at the mid-point review
and the updated version I have now produced at the end of Unit 1.
The process of research, making, and reflection resulting in my latest plan is documented fully in a recent blog, and explains why it was necessary to update my proposal for Unit 2.
In essence, my proposal has developed from extending my former life drawing practice of primarily the female body, to ‘born-digital’ art installations focused around the human form and activity. I am interested in researching and making born-digital artworks of this nature, where their final manifestations are distinctively either in material or immaterial form. I have termed these ‘digital to physical’, and ‘purely digital’. To date, my focus has been on the former, but now I am turning my attention to the latter, exploring leading edge emerging technologies to do so. I am interested in making a mix of both for my final MA Show.
Essentially, I recognise that these are all extremely ambitious programmes of work, and remain so, in the timescale of the MA. My primary motivation for this, is to learn as many ‘tools’ of a digital artist’s ‘trade’ as I can, to enable me to use a wide range of artistic expression in my practice. I am playing catch up as I do not have the art school experience gained during a fine art first degree. To me, this is the most important educational outcome of my MA, and why I have continued to work full time for my MA, including during my ‘vacations’.
Jonathan Kearney’s immediate response to my original proposal was “Terry, you have five MA’s there!”. I think and hope that these concerns are now allayed, as in Unit 1, I have almost finished everything I originally set out to do for my entire MA. I had thought of holding back my MA Display exhibit at the end of my first year, namely Metamorphosis, for my final MA Show. But I am glad I did not, as I have so much more I want to learn. I have therefore had to set some additional or modified objectives for Unit 2.
What has changed is that I now have much more clarity of purpose. I now realise that I have effectively divided my MA into three phases.
The first phase, to date, is a digital to physical practice, where the artwork is ‘born-digital’ and the final manifestation of the work is a physical object. I feel that I have largely achieved this objective. Here are some examples of my work, which culminated in my MA Display:
MA Display 2016 – Metamorphosis
The second phase is where the final manifestation of the artwork is entirely digital, and which relies on a digital environment for its display. I am currently working with the UAL Digital Maker Collective on an exhibition for their Tate Exchange Programme in February and March 2017. This includes my own collaborative mixed reality intervention, Alice through the looking glass.
The third phase, from late March to July 2017, will concentrate on my MA Show. This will be a combination of a purely digital work adapted from my Tate Exchange exhibit, and a physical work in the form of another foundry bronze. The latter will enable me to apply for a Foundry Fellowship, which I have already discussed at UAL Chelsea. It will be made from a 3D scan, 3D printed in castable PLA.
- Critically engage with practice-based research and contribute actively to debate and discussion
Here I feel that I have been particularly successful. Jonathan can attest that I have been fully engaged in all that MA Fine Art Digital has to offer, and am now as much a part of the studio based group, as well as my online group. I have used Camberwell facilities and technical staff to the fullest extent I can for my practice. When I have found limitations I have reached out to other UAL colleges, namely Chelsea, Wimbledon and CSM. I use the Camberwell foundry, have special permission to continue to use the digital fabrication workshop at CSM, and am a founding and active member of UAL Digital Maker Collective.
When I find UAL does not have the equipment or facilities I need, rather than let that limit my activities, I have acquired my own and learnt how to use them. These include Wacom Intuos Pro graphics pad, 3D Structure Sensor scanning, Bare Conductive Touch Board Arduino, and Leap Motion, as well as many items of supporting or related software. Soon I will take delivery of a Holus Plus holographic display, and Microsoft Hololens Augmented Reality Development Edition, which will both feature in my MA Show exhibit.
I have also extended my research activities to external organisations, including one-to-one familiarization with 3D drawing, rendering and animation at Xchange Training, London and in Projection Mapping with Alex May. I have visited Fab Lab London and Digits to Widgets, London to understand more about 3D fabrication. By the time I submit this Assessment, I will have participated in the Veronica Scanner event sponsored by the Royal College of Art, and introduced a first and a second year MA Fine Art Digital colleague to join me on the day. I am currently also following up an invitation to participate with Double Me, a research arm of a USA based company, in conjunction with the Virtual Reality research department at Ravensbourne, in a project to make a short true 3D Augmented Reality video of Vanessa dancing.
I am anxious to use these facilities and technologies to make meaningful and distinctive art. Whilst I am keen to deploy emerging technologies, they must remain subsidiary to the artwork, as tools to explore new means of artistic expression. I have therefore sought additional tutorials with art professors within UAL to help me accomplish this, including one with Prof Paul Coldwell, and most notably Prof Stephen Farthing who continues to offer me tutorials at his studio in UAL, Chelsea. I have also sought advice from other artists including Alex May, and June Mendoza. I have not written blogs for all of them, but here is a selection from those I have:
There are several other exemplars I have spent time with since starting my MA but sadly, to date, most of which I have not had time to include in my blogs. These include meetings with: Richard Colson – author, artist, and MA course leader in Computational Design at Ravensbourne; David Byers-Brown – artist and MA Course Director VFX and Digital Animation, who I visited at Kent University; Patrick Gibbs, MA Ruskin – landscape/figurative painter; Kate MccGwire – MA Royal Academy, specializing in large sculptures made entirely of bird feathers, and a regular exhibitor at international exhibitions including the Venice biennale 2016. My MA colleagues and UAL technical staff have also offered helpful comments and suggested areas for research.
Additionally, and also un-blogged, I have attended several UAL Post Graduate events including meeting Grayson Perry in his studio, and the MA Fine Art graduate show 2016. Prior to meeting Grayson Perry, I independently visited his solo exhibition at Turner Contemporary, Margate to see his digital to physical works including the Walthamstow Tapestry. I have been to lectures given by Prof Steven Farthing including Drawing and writing: the intersection, at the University of London, as well as visiting many other art exhibitions independently, including: V&A Digital Weekend 2015 and 2016; Patrick Gibbs’ solo exhibition of 100 paintings at the Mall Gallery; William Kentridge at the Marion Goodman Gallery with Kate MaccGuire, as well as visiting her sculpture studio on the river Thames in Hampton; Anthony Gormley’s Another Place, on Crosby beach Liverpool, his Angel of the North, and Firmament at Jupiter Artland Sculpture Park, Edinburgh; Digital Weekend at Edinburgh Festival 2016, where I experienced Tilt Brush in action; Ravensbourne final MA Show 2016 Human; Lumen Prize 2016 including the follow up event HackervsMrRobot, where I experienced Hololens Augmented Reality, and was personally invited to correspond with two of the main speakers, Prof. Carla Gannis, who won the Founders Prize, and Douglas Dodds, curator responsible for the V&A’s digital art collection. Most recently, I visited the Institute of Making at UCL with Romain Meunier, and during Jonathan’s annual Liverpool trip, was invited to correspond with the artist Cecile b Evans, who was setting up her solo exhibition at Tate Liverpool, Sprung a Leak, which explores our relationships with humanoid robots. I could go on, but I hope that this sufficiently illustrates and demonstrates the kind of contextual research that I have undertaken to inform my study and practice to date.
I regularly contribute to the UAL Digital Maker Collective (formerly CCW Digital) at UAL Chelsea, including collaborative education workshops and a week-long Pop-Up show, which Jonathan Kearney visited at Chelsea. This has included demonstrating and teaching 3D scanning, 3D printing, use of conductive materials and proximity sensors with Arduino. As a result of becoming aware of my work with their products, Bare Conductive have asked me to blog on their website. My acquired expertise and skills in this area have enabled me to provide assistance to other MA students, two of whom were keen to show me the outcome in their recent final MA Fine Art degree show at UAL Chelsea.
- Critically reflect upon your practice and articulate a clear understanding of methodology and context of your creative practice
There were several major reflections affecting my practice: The first was the desire to give the usually silent and objectified life model a voice in the artwork; the second was the conflict between physical touch and nakedness; the third was the realization that I enjoyed making physical artwork, in particular foundry bronze sculptures; the fourth was that I could be seduced by technology, and I needed to ensure that technology remained solely as a tool for artistic expression; the fifth was that I am fascinated by the issue of conservation of purely digital art installations for our cultural heritage, which became the subject of my research paper. The sixth was that I can see where Augmented and Virtual Reality could help resolve this conservation issue, and that this encouraged me to look at the possibility of a research based PhD. There is no clear statement on any of these major realizations, but they run through many of the following blogs:
These reflections have clearly affected the methodology and context of my practice, as I hope has been demonstrated in the earlier sections in this self-assessment. This resulted in my Research Paper, which explores the potential loss of purely digital art installations for our long term cultural heritage.
These reflections continue, and I am grateful to able to discuss my thoughts with some eminent people in the art world.