ARTEFACTS as TEXT seminar series

ARTEFACTS as TEXT seminar series - reflections & after thoughts: This seminar series provided the first formal assessment for the parts ones, a re-connecting with the part 3, time to research in library or galleries and listening to great artists practices and thoughts Grant Stevens was first up, who delivered a very enjoyable talk and the talk that I found the most interesting from an artistic perspective. He came across as humble and sincere, very vulnerable. His art practice is deeply interwoven and influenced with some events in his personal life. Stevens’ practice is text or words based, which is something we use everyday to communicate and connect with others. In today's world we not only use spoken words, but many other forms of communication, mostly via a screen of some sort. (Later in the week Judy Millar talked about this relationship between words being influenced by sound, image, gesture and words themselves. All of this works, as long as you are able to hear, see and understand well. If you have problems in any of these areas, then you are can be left behind or feel frustrated.) Combining all of these in art (& the world around us) is a challenge we all face. As words can often have several meanings, connections and influences through culture and era born in. Grant Stevens harvests most of his words from media such as movies, social networking sites to TV and music videos. Stevens’ art work resonated with me, as it was often silent. Which fascinated me as many of the places he gathered these words from were not a silent media. Many of his works were words coming into focus on the screen, growing larger and then receding or drifting off the screen. This being devoid of spoken sound was for somebody (me) with a hearing challenge easier to grasp in the first instance. I found when there was a combination of spoken and written words, my brain became a mess, not knowing which one to concentrate on. Several times I lost the plot of the work, having to refocus on either one to pick up a thread. (just as well we were not tested later on what we heard and read at the same time, as i would have failed miserably) In a away this makes the work also very powerful, as it needs to be viewed/listened to several times, to pick up the many threads it has. As a person with a hearing challenge I have discovered that in life and art, the works that speak to me the most are the ones that can capture me without sound, since that is a challenge for me (maybe that is why I make the work I do?). Two work by Grant Steven that have a universal appeal, and held the most emotions for me were Really Really 2007 and Crushing 2009. Really Really is about falling in love and no sound is needed when you read the words.The way Grant has made them appear on the screen creates and emotion within you. You can sense the desperation, the deep need to be with that person, the emotional overdrive that the brain goes into when you fall in love. In similar fashion the Crushing video, which is about the break up, also brings on a raft of emotions through the words on the screen and the way they appear at times single, but increasingly more jumbled and desperate. For Stevens it provided him with material for his art, but considering they have a universal appeal they are very powerful works. The theme of this seminar series was about art being text that could be ‘read’. It is interesting to think that we now ‘read’ everything, even if it is an image or are listening to sound. An interesting comment from Grant was that the spoken word is from the present, while the written word is the past. This interests me, as I believe we have done a reversal; In the past language was mostly spoken (at times drawn), the sharing of knowledge was done orally. In the present we have spoken words, but the main driver to get a message or knowledge across is through the written/documented word. This makes me think: We are so overloaded by imagery and sound in today's world, that how do we as artist get our message & ideas across? With all this ‘noise’ around us, we tend to walk past the ‘roses’ and forget to smell them. Details of the world we live in are lost on many of us. Thinking of the top of my head: Gently, softly and quietly. Draw the viewer in, slow them down and hold their attention so that they can ‘read’ the work by being captivated by it.

Posted by Elle Anderson

comments powered by Disqus