Untitled [Summative Pole Performance]

Final full edited version of the performance, taken from two cameras in two corners of the room. No sound editing.

Final full edited  version of the performance, taken from two cameras in two corners of the room, edited to view both angles at the same time with a focus on the projections rather than my bodily movements.

Full, unedited videos from the two individual cameras, showing the whole performance.


Full, edited videos from the two individual cameras, showing the whole performance.


These screenshots are demonstrating the skill taken to perform on the pole, and shows the projections and shadows created during the performance. I enjoyed this performance, and felt confident with the way that it was presented.
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Artist Statement

Much of the work presented looks at the manipulation of space and the movement of those within it. The Start Project concentrated on the traditional architecture of Yemen, a country that many fled from with their lives. The Forgotten War video highlights the elements of movement, while crushing and destroying the space. Following on from this, I studied my own life, focusing on the manipulation of space and movement. Pole Fitness allowed this manipulation, whilst bringing forth the idea of reactions and sensations for the viewer. The use of multiple screen while displaying Pole GoPro Experiments was inspired by John Akomfrah’s, The Unfinished Conversation (Akomfrah, 2012).
A larger manipulation of space led me to the work of Matthew Barney (Barney, 1992), who performs by mark-making an entire room, and the making of my own pole in the studio, along with Untitled Collection. Untitled Collection showcased the manipulation of space better within a small room, with three separate cameras capturing my body throughout the space.
Feminism and returning the male gaze, raised by Laura Mulvey (Mulvey, 1999) and Jacques Lacan (Lacan and Sheridan, 1977), were a heavy influence from here, as pole is associated with eroticism, strippers and impurity. Valie Export (Export, 1968) and her somewhat crude displays of returning the gaze inspired me to become more daring with my own body, movement and space to communicate ideas more clearly. Performances were produced with accompanying projections and audio. Immersing yourself into the environment of Pole Performance allowed the artwork to say something beyond the walls and created an overpowering space, much like No Crying in the Barbershop, by Pepón Osorio (Osorio, 1994).
Sound and voice were key aspects of Pole Performance; however, it was drowned out by other elements. By stripping the work down to audio, something more personal and powerful was created. Invisible sculptures were created when using two, three and four different speakers in both Feminist Poems and This Is What We Did Exhibition. The manipulation of space, and the movement of sound was inspired by Paul Purgas (Purgas, 2017) and Evan Ifekoya (Ifekoya, 2015). The theme of feminism was further highlighted when displaying with other feminist and identity-themed artworks in the exhibition.
During the progression of Feminist Poems, there was a need for further manipulation of the physical space using light and the pole. Heather Cassils in Becoming an Image, (Cassils, 2012) uses the camera flash to create an intense environment. Using strobe and UV lights on the pole, the audience are only able to gain small pieces of information, recreating intimacy and a physically overpowering space.
A glimpse of the performance creates moments of statuesque provocation, while also highlighting equality and allowing the return of the male gaze.
 
Blog: www.charlotteabrahamart.wordpress.com
 
References
Akomfrah, J. (2012). The Unfinished Conversation. [Video] London: Tate Modern.
Barney, M. (1992). drawing restraint. [Performance and Video].
Cassils, H. (2012). Becoming an Image. [Performance].
Export, V. (1968). TAP and TOUCH Cinema. [Video (black and white, sound)] New York: Museum of Modern Art.
Ifekoya, E. (2015). Ebi Flo. [Video].
Lacan, J. and Sheridan, A. (1977). Écrits. 1st ed. London: Tavistock Publications Limited.
Mulvey, L. (1999). Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. In: L. Braudy and M. Cohen, ed., Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. [online] New York: Oxford UP, pp.833-844. Available at: http://www.composingdigitalmedia.org/f15_mca/mca_reads/mulvey.pdf [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018].
Osorio, P. (1994). No Crying in the Barbershop. [Mixed media installation with barber’s chair, photographs, objects, and videos] Puerto Rico: Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico Collection.
Purgas, P. (2017). Boiler Room. [Sound] London: Art Night.
 

Final Videos [Pole Performance Projections]

Because there were several elements that I did not enjoy within Pole Performance Videos, I decided to take action and change them. I wanted more dark spaces within the video, and better clarification of modern feminist marches and speeches. I also needed to add the black at the beginning of the end, to give myself time to enter and exit from the performance area. This was completed in the videos below, where I took the full audio that I were to use in the clip. I found that changing these elements allowed the clips to be more successful. When projecting them, I did notice that the UV clips were still very dark, however I enjoyed working in this slight illumination of the space – it continued the theme of having a glimpse of the performance, creating moments of statuesque provocation, while also highlighting equality and allowing the return of the male gaze.


I then layered these on top of each other, to highlight further the elements used within the two videos, and how they interact with each other. By using this technique, I was able to determine that there was an even spread of different types of clips, including UV pole, spoken poem, and both old and new feminist clips, throughout the videos. It also allowed me to determine when the dark spaces were, allowing me to be prepared during the performance.

I then lastly added the audio that was to be used across four separate speakers. I preferred this outcome to the earlier videos that I rushed through while editing. I did notice, however, that the audio did not go across four speakers when setting up for the performance, but rather two. I found that this was for the better as four speakers may have been too overwhelming, but the two sets of speakers across from the room from each other still allowed for the interaction of audio.

Pussyhat Project

“The Pussyhat Project is a social movement focused on raising awareness about women’s issues and advancing human rights by promoting dialogue and innovation through the arts, education and intellectual discourse. The Pussyhat is a symbol of support and solidarity for women’s right and political resistance.” (Pussyhat Project)
The Project brings itself into women’s marches, giving a physical, and very obvious symbol for something so powerful and important. This began as an accessible platform for participation as one of the co-creators was not able to attend a march last year due to recovery from a serious accident. It therefore gives “visibility to the invisible and voice to the voiceless. Its beauty is that anyone, anywhere can participate. There are so many reasons why someone may not be able to march: medical, financial, or scheduling to name a few… With this project, many women are able to create something to support the women’s movement”(Pussyhat Project), including knitting, marching or simply wearing a pink hat.
I wish to use some of the inspiration that the movement has given people to create, within my performance, to show that the feminist movement, and the fight for equality is still going strong, and that people have not given up in the 21st Century.
 

Pole Performance Videos

Using all the elements that I have edited both previously, and from the most recent UV videos, I felt that I had created my final videos to go on the projectors within my performance.
I initially used the full audio, altering the speed of the audio, as experimented in Sound Manipulation UV Pole [Take 2]. I used elements from UV DSCN Merge PoleSilent UV Pole Videos [Take 2] and Untitled [Pole Projections], while manipulating the speed of each clip, including reversing the speed. I was not completely happy with these, as I clearly did not check on some elements within the black and white clips, nor did I factor in the light within the background of the UV DSCN Merge Pole clip. Because I did not initially notice these within the clips, they are throughout the ones below. I also completed two videos for each alteration that I made, as I need one for each projector that will be displaying on the white walls in the room.


Within the Alternative Audio, I began mixing the audio between the two videos, to try and get it matched up, such as in Feminist Poem 3 Audio, 4 Speakers. I found it very difficult to work with right and left speaker as this is not necessarily something that I have had to do before. Within Feminist Poem [Extended] Audio, I used four different speakers with four different videos and audio tracks playing at once, so I did not have to manipulate the audio to left and right within a single video. I also found that because I was switching between two different videos, I was not able to get the correct timing of some elements, creating the occasional overlap. This was admittedly not my best edit, however I was not prepared to let this one falter me.


Even thought the videos had its faults that I did not check while editing, I continued to create two videos with the surround sound effects. I ensured that the audio would come separately out of the two speakers, creating the effect that someone is walking around the room. Until the day, I do not know whether I would want to use this version, or more simplistic audio, and so I went ahead with the editing. I found that the use of the left and right audio to be very effective, even when it is four speakers split between two different videos.


I finally created a video that mixed the two Alternative Audio Surround videos, and altered the audio so that it sat a four different places. This is especially noticeable with headphones on. The layering of the images allowed me to see what was was going at one point, and showed that the videos were very busy and had minimal gaps – I wasn’t sure whether I wanted more gaps but it did seen very full when playing. Some of the visuals still did not match with the audio, however I found entranced with how the visuals were constantly changing. This change was fast enough so that you would not get bored, but it was long enough to gain a perspective of what you were looking at.

Although I believed these videos to be successful, I did find that I was concentrating on the past of feminism a lot, and did not have any references to more modern feminism. When watching the videos, once I had noticed a lack of this element, I found it strange, and felt like the videos needed this extra element that I have talked so much about, including in Women’s Vote: 100 Years and Waves of Feminism. This is why I decided to edit the videos one last time, to add the element of modern feminism, and to extend the beginning and end, so that it gives me a clear entrance and exit in the performance. I also wanted to correct the elements that I had not noticed when I first edited and exported these videos, to ensure that they were of higher quality for the performance.

Sound Manipulation UV Pole [Take 2]

I felt that Silent UV Pole Videos [Take 2] and UV [Take 2] Pole Merge both clearly and cleverly highlighted the aspect of manipulation of space and movement, however I wanted to see if they would continue to fit in with the theme on Feminism and Pole Performance. I therefore decided to take Spoken Poem, and manipulate this within the video. I chose the Spoken Poem for the final audio track, as I found that this was the one that best highlighted and encompassed my thoughts and ideas about feminism. I also particularly liked the parts that told the viewer to look at me, as this is a powerful instruction being dealt at a time of uncertainty.
Initially, the audio was placed in without edits. This acted as a reminder of the audio, ensuring I remembered it as I worked with it. The video did not quite match up with the audio, as the audio began after, and ended before the video was completed. I did perform to another audio piece that was longer, and so I was partially expecting this to happen. I did enjoy the calmness of both the audio and the movement on screen.

I then decided to begin to manipulate the sound in other ways compared to using different speakers. Within the next edit, I layered two different parts of the audio at several points. These were sometimes confusing and overwhelming, but then crawling back into something very simple. The juxtaposition between the layers, busy and calm, gives you time to recover, and also to listen. I enjoyed this edit as I had never done layering like this with the audio before, and it highlighted the ‘look at me’ element, which is something that is very key within the piece. I did find, however, that the last ‘look at me’ was drowned out by other words, making the last statement less powerful than I had hoped.

Lastly, I decided alter the speed of the audio. At some points, it does make my voice sound silly and obviously altered. I wanted to created something that was reflective of my voice, but making it sound almost childish, or deep. I wish to alter the audio like this again, however I would not change it as drastically, so that it gives the effect that I wish.

UV [Take 2] Pole Merge

I wanted to include edits and merges of videos within my final projection, and so took the UV Pole Videos [Take 2] rather than Silent Light Pole Videos [UV], for there was a darker space, along with better camera shots.
This first edit was done using the footage of the same performance from the two different cameras. I found that there was a large juxtaposition in what could be seen in the footage between the cameras, which was made even more obvious when putting them together. Although this is annoying, it is also refreshing to not be able to see much at some points, guessing where the body is within the room, versus the bright and lightly obtrusive images, where it is obvious where the body both is visually and within the room.

The 60s Mix used the same technique as UV DSCN Merge Pole; layering all of the images on top of each other and varying the opacity of each clip. The use of four, compared to the earlier three layers, was difficult as I was not used to this extra element that I had to control. I found the use of four clips to be more confusing as well, as there is too much on screen to keep an eye on. It was overwhelming rather than enchanting.

I took more of a simplistic approach after the overwhelming video of 60s Mix. I decided to layer two videos that show the same routine done from different perspectives. This keeps the element of confusion and surprise, but keeps it simple and easy to follow. One of the clips is also zoomed in further onto the general space of the body, creating a blue glow as it was dimmed. You therefore are not sure which body to watch, and become almost trapped within the video, without being overwhelmed and wanting to look away. Out of the three edits, I would want to continue with this one within the final edit of the projection videos.

Silent UV Pole Videos [Take 2]

Much like in Silent Light Pole Videos [UV], and Silent Light Pole Videos [Strobe], I edited the second set of UV videos, to cut out the sound and the beginning and end parts, to see their full effect. Doing this, I was also able to determine which parts were my favourite, and also which moves looked better on camera.
The first set of videos were captured using a different camera compared to last time. This camera was able to keep up with the UV light much better, and gave a crisper image. The clothing, which was being lit up by UV, was still very bright, however I believe that this particular camera was on the same side as the UV light, meaning that this was the brightest side of the clothing. It is also particularly bright because the rest of the room has been darkened out to the best of my ability, which gives a very high contrast. I still enjoy this eerie glow, as it give a glimpse of the rest of the body if you look very carefully.




The next set of videos were captured from a slightly different angle, while using one of the same cameras as used in Sound to Light. This camera was able to keep up with the UV light and the movement of myself on the pole. I found that the angle that the camera was at, it gave no extra information about where my body was – you could only see the clothes that were being lit up. The pole was occasionally lit, which brings you back to the ground, as you are able to understand that my body is simply not floating. Specifically within the first four videos, you are not able to see the extremities of my hands and feet, which does make the video very disorientating and confusing. I preferred the last video, where you are able to determine more of what I am doing on the pole. The extra slips of fabric give four floating patches which can confuse you further.




On both sets, such that has been said before, I feel like I preferred the last videos as it allowed the viewing of the movement of the extremities, which is a key aspect of pole and shows the manipulation of space better compared to the other performances.

UV Pole Videos [Take 2]

I decided to re-take the UV pole videos, as these were the most unusual and successful when working with light. I also wanted to add clips of this element into the final projections, that I have decided to display within the performance. To do this, I blacked out the room better, minimising the effect of the sunlight that was hitting the window as I recorded. The sunlight didn’t make as a big effect to the recording as I thought it would have done, and so I was grateful for that. I also found that the second camera that I used was able to keep up better, and record at a higher quality than the camera that was used in Sound to Light.
I chose upon re-taking the UV videos rather than the strobe light videos, as I would want clips of these in the final projections for my performance. Because the cameras struggled with picking up on the strobe, and minimal footage showing myself on the pole, I decided not to utilise this opportunity again.
Throughout the 00060 to 00063 series, there was still an eerie glow from the UV-lit white clothing that I was wearing. This was also seen in Silent Light Pole Videos [UV], and I believe it is because the UV light is sat just to the right of the camera, making the light very potent, and hence the camera picks up on this brightness, especially against the contrast of the blackout room.








I believe these recordings are more successful than the last collection, and I would prefer to use these within the final projection videos within the performance. I also found that I was better able to manipulate the space, according to the camera. I moved around a wider circumference of space around the pole to achieve this manipulation. This is an element that I would like to ensure I bring into the performance, as the manipulation of space and the environment is a key part of the performance and on of my central ideas.

Final Performance Costume Design

After deciding on a performance for my final piece, I needed to choose a costume design. Within Pole GoPro Experiments and Untitled Collection, I used a normal pole kit – a crop top and shorts, as this is what I had at hand, and I did not think much of it. For the Pole Performance, I decided that I could not show off the branding that I had on these pieces of clothing, and so covered them with simple scraps of white cloth. Several comments of the performance included that about the cloth, and how it wasn’t tied in with the theme, unlike the presentation of everything else.
I also went plain with the more recent Silent Light Pole Videos [UV] and Silent Light Pole Videos [Strobe], however this was more out of necessity, especially with the use of the white clothing and UV light. Throughout the thought of a feminist performance, I created designs for a feminist performance costume which was based on the feminist clothing of 100 years ago. Although this was unique, it was somewhat predictable, and I wanted to do something that would shock the viewer, and make them slightly uncomfortable in the environment that I created.
Because of everything else that I want going on in the room, including that of projections and up to four speakers, I don’t want to overwhelm someone with an extravagant outfit. This is a juxtaposition to what you expect pole dancers to wear, and also the overwhelming elements within the room. I wanted to almost become invisible in the room, and decided that black would therefore be the most appropriate colour to wear. From here, I designed several plain designs, to determine what would work best with grip, and without looking like I am just about to strip. I wanted to highlight the feminist element through the choice of outfit, not degrade myself.
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From here, I decided that the crop top and shorts would work best – I would not be worried about anything of mine showing, it gave me enough grip on the pole to complete moves, and I would be able to add other elements to showcase the feminism element.


I initially looked back at Designing a Feminist Pole Mat, for inspiration on how I wanted to alter the plain black. My concern with the words, is that they would not necessarily be clear within the performance, and would become colourful blurs. Especially with the lighting, there is the concern that there would not be enough light to see them either.
I then went back to look at Valie Export with Action Pants, where Export walks around with a gun and the crotch cut out of her leather pants – many were shocked by the crotch of the pants, especially considering the time that this was done, and her gender. A part of me wanted to take this shocking approach and utilise the female genitalia, primarily because it was unpredictable, and would be unnerving for those viewing the performance.

I decided on the final design on the right, using small nipples and fake hair on top of the black crop top and shorts. These are discrete enough that they will not be in your face, but obvious enough that you will be able to see them in the performance. I also decided on this, rather than the larger boobs or the vagina model, because it would seem like it is my own, and that I am showing intimate parts of my body, and yet I am protecting myself against my body becoming an object. I would particularly find it interesting if I were to do this performance in front of men, as I believe these elements would make it more uncomfortable for them. This uncomfortable sensation is what I want to create, as it is something that feminism is trying to break down; I want those watching to feel the same uneasiness and uncomfortable-ness that both women, and men, have to go through on a daily basis.


I cut up an old pair of leggings and a vest top for the base of my costume. These fitted better than if I had made them by hand. I tried a couple of techniques for the Merkin; the first was to stick wool on top of the fabric, and then split it. With this technique, the wool fell off and the Merkin quickly came apart. I then sewed the wool through, to create a large continual loop, then cutting it and splitting it. This way, there was a lot more to stop the wool coming through the fabric, as there was another piece of fabric protecting it the other side.

The boobs were measured against life-size breasts, so that the areola did not seem comically oversized. The nipples were stuffed, so that they would stay poking out, making them slightly more noticeable from all angles.
Overall, I found the costume to be sturdy and successful, and something that I would happily perform in. The wool was not coming out and the felt used was secure on the top. I would also be able to grip to the pole, ensuring that I would be able to perform for the whole of the allocated time.


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