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  • Writer's pictureKirsten Farquhar

Week 13 .

Brainstorming, initial research, clearing the art room & photoshoot.


This week I made a mindmap made by autonomously writing down the first thoughts and ideas that came into my head to begin my research and development. I feel like my mind maps always look very similar in ideas, however my approach is always very different and ever evolving.

I highlighted some key ideas that stood out for me with a wee star:

★ Film - I started exploring the use of film back in second year and since then I have found that this medium gives me a lot more opportunity and freedom to transform my ideas in more ways than I have ever been able to with any analogue medium. I enjoy working with film because I able able to look back and see how much my technical skills evolve over time, it makes me feel accomplished and more inspired.

★ Sound - Similarly to the use of film, I have been very drawn to the medium of sound as I enjoy its transformative effect it has on my ideas. I also find that it goes hand in hand with film as sound can reallly make or break a film piece. I want to explore the many different ways in which sound can be impactful eg, the absence of sound, minimal sound, multi-directional sound, sound over film, sound on its own.

★ Storytelling - I have been thinking about exploring Gothic literature for my dissertation topic and I feel like the storytelling in gothic stories could be something to really draw inspiration from this semester. I love the use of symbolism in gothic stories and how they present us a scary story that somewhat holds a mirror up to the really world. A lot of gothic writers and artists also created work inspired by their own dreams, fears, altered mind state from drugs etc, which is relevant to my practice as I enjoy writing down my dreams/thoughts and emotions in hopes to create something out of it.

★ Artist book - There is something so beautiful about handmade artists books and over the years I have really enjoyed learning how to book bind and make my own paper. An artist book is a piece of art in itself and I would love to tie it together with a storytelling element.

★ Performance - I've never really had the confidence to do a performance piece, however I think now that I am already pushing myself out of my comfort zone by making art about myself, I think it would be good to push myself to do a performance piece maybe later on in the semester.

★ Dolls House - The idea of using a dolls house structure was inspired by the reoccurring motifs in gothic novels such as the haunted house, the endless hallways, labyrinths etc. I feel like it would be interesting to make wee films out of. A house or structure is sorta how I'd visualise my mind at times, so many different rooms with different things going on all at once. The house could be a metaphor for my subconcious?

Initial Research

This week I began my research by watching a documentary on BoB called, 'The Art of Gothic: Britain's Midnight Hour,' presented by Andrew Graham-Dixon. It is a 3 part series exploring 19th century gothic artists, architects and writers and how their work influenced the history and reflects society today. I think the episode I watched this week was actually episode 2, however I will watch all 3 episodes eventually!

Notes from watching this episode:

Gothic is an interpretation of societies anxiety and fear during the scientific and industrial revolutions. The rise in factories making people feel like cogs in a system, and the advancements in science going against religion and faith. The world was rapidly being reshaped. There was tension between the old world of faith & mystery, and the new age of reason. Britain became the first country to have more people living in cities as opposed to the countryside. City = fear - grime, disease, poverty & crime.

Joseph Wright of Derby

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768) The Old Man and Death (1773)

- Family, fear, knowledge - A skeleton risen from the ground

- The spooky moon, dim/sinister lighting - Face to face with death

- The bird suffocating, a dove - the holy spirit - An exploration into ones own mortality

- Is God being killed by science? - Hauntingly beautiful

- Is science benevolent, or is science a new source of

fears and terrors? A new sense of darkness.

The first Gothic novel was Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764). Walpole’s short story went on to establish a template of motifs and tropes that would be interpreted profusely and inspire the future Gothic writers and artists such as the haunted house, endless hallways, the supernatural, objects moving on their own, the hero, the virtuous heroine, trap doors, dungeons, and rattling chains.

Mary Shelly gave a voice to the peoples fears by writing her 1818 novel, Frankenstein. A novel about progress and the terrors that arose with it. The idea for this book was based on actual real life attempts of reviving the dead. Her story really captured the 19th century terror that science might go too far, and the consequences will be irreversible.

William Blake challenged science within his art.

< In his The Ghost of a Flea (1819–20) John Varley – an artist, astrologer and close friend of Blake – reported in his Treatise on Zodiacal Physiognomy (1882) that Blake once had a spiritual vision of a ghost of a flea and that ‘This spirit visited his imagination in such a figure as he never anticipated in an insect.’ While drawing the spirit, it told the artist that all fleas were inhabited by the souls of men who were ‘by nature bloodthirsty to excess’. In the painting it holds a cup for blood-drinking and stares eagerly towards it. Blake’s amalgamation of man and beast suggests a human character marred by animalistic traits. (Tate). Blake also challenged scientists of this age such as Newton and others who were adamant on promoting the age of reason by stating, “Art is the tree of life, science is the tree of death.”

Is consciousness evidence of a soul? Or simply just a bunch of chemical reactions in out brains?

Are we a product of our emotions, our memories, our will? how do we even know our reality is not simply an illusion?

Perhaps the most terrifying gothic haunted house of all might be the human mind... and the greatest terror is that of not knowing yourself.

Art Room Clearing & Sara's Photoshoot

Me and Sara share a flat together and we have a spare bedroom that we have been using to store all our art supplies however it had gotten into a right mess over the course of last semester. We decided to organise it and flip the bed up against the wall to give us more floor space for things like filming and photography since the workshops and studios are currently closed. Here is a wee time lapse of us tidying up with a wee impromptu dance party at the end, enjoy -

Later on that evening I helped Sara by taking photos for her first photoshoot of the semester. I think it is really great having another art student as a flat mate because we always have each other if we need help as well as being able to bounce ideas off of. This is the first time I have taken photos in a professional setting. I had to read up on camera settings and controls and with Sara's directing and guidance, I was quickly able to get a hang of it and take some really powerful photos of her. We are also lucky to have all the basic equipment we need for shoots like this, last semester I bought a set of small LED studio lights with different colour gels, as well as a tripod. I also took the opportunity to grab some wee arty professional shots of myself for my artist profile.


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