I’m getting ready for my MA review. Thus I am thinking about how to communicate my process and my thoughts about my work with my review panel. Much of what is here can also be found in snippets in other blog postings — I think. I am trying to connect the dots between what I’ve already written here, in other documents, what I’ve said to my graduate adviser, and what still exists only in my brain. This should really be labelled “ramblings on process, part 2.” Part 1 can be read here.
Construction, Deconstruction, and Reconstruction
A review of technical processes: Process as Concept (pt. 2)
Jennifer Lee Hallsey, 6 September 2014
“The modern scriptor is born simultaneously with the text… the hand, cut off from any voice, borne by a pure gesture of inscription (and not of expression), traces a field without origin—or which, at least, has no other origin than language itself, language which ceaselessly calls into question all origins.” Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author.” In Image, music, text. 1977.
My studio practice over the past year has been multi-faceted. Simultaneously I would be making, researching and writing, and documenting. I consider each an equal part of my working method and one action informs the other.
From the perspective of making, early on during my MA candidacy I became interested in the technique of fold-forming. This technique resonated with me because it allowed me to quickly create voluminous, organic forms that are similar but each has their own unique attributes. The technique of fold-forming and using the hammer on stakes is a direct way of working with the metal also. The more I continued to work with the forms, the more they became removed from the initial technique of fold-forming. I explored other techniques such as chasing and etching on the forms. I began to develop my own processes.
“When you cut into the present the future leaks out.” –William S. Burroughs
My research and writing about critical theory informed my processes as well. I explored using alternative materials and other creative practices I engaged in outside of the studio. The simple overarching theme of making and destroying became my driving concept. I simplified this to construction/deconstruction/reconstruction. It was at this point that I began to look at my making not as a means to an end, but instead as a constant, on-going practice of a larger whole. One piece was not simply born of a single concept or aesthetic ideal and then constructed and concluded. Instead, I began making forms that exist in a continuous state of flux.
“Cut the words and see how they fall.” –William S. Burroughs
This practice started out rather small. I began with the scraps remaining from one project and rearranged them, reconstructing the deconstructed parts. After this success I began specifically making forms to be taken apart, throwing the “scraps” into a plastic bag. I would pull parts from the bag and rearrange them to make new forms. Parts marred or scratched would not be discarded but selected often for their artifacts of process. Forms once made would be later added to or cut apart again to be put back into the bag. The entire ‘life-cycle’ of a form may be weeks or months; simply put the process has been on-going for multiple forms simultaneously. The resulting formal qualities (form, texture, finish, etc) have arisen out of the inherent characteristics of the material, techniques, and processes used. During this process I would document through photography the stages of the forms.
“We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.
[…] One must never forget that in the drama of existence we are ourselves both players and spectators.” -Werner Heisenberg, “Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science,” 1958.
It is debatable, at points, what my work actually is. Is the form itself, or the digital photo of a form, which may or may not exist in that state anymore? For many of these pieces the work is the totality of the transitions from one point to the next, which is why documentation is critical and carefully executed. I have explored creating pieces with my images as well as photocopying forms to highlight the notion of copying and fluidity. When these forms are “in flux”, I do not think of them as a commodity and it has never been my intent to do so. It is important to note that there is a point of finality, it seems, and that is when a form “steps out” of flux and becomes fixed, becoming jewelry or object in the more traditional sense. However, this point is most often reached to fulfill a course requirement or for a competition. I have felt very little drive to make ‘wearable jewelry’. I must acknowledge my own inconsistencies and contradictory approaches to the act of making and thoughts on making; I simultaneously hold antithetical and ever-changing beliefs about the importance of authorial intent, wearabilty, and objecthood. More important is the notion of what is real or what is the work. The act of making and documentation, thinking and writing, is the work — at this point.