What Next?

While on my study abroad I approached the mediums of photography and sculpture (plaster, wood and metal). These were laid out in separate classes, but on my return to Reading in the spring term, I wish to see how I can bring these together.

I very much enjoyed both photography and sculpture, learning about different methods and physically mixing and playing with the materials to see how they react to different motions. Within photography, we looked at a lot of physical matter that was in the city, attempting to see things from new perspectives, as well as stretching our abilities away from the camera, in and out of the darkroom. Sculpture, on the other hand, looked more at process than subject matter, ensuring we explored the limits of the materials plaster, wood and metal. This was done through several processes, coming together in two groups of final pieces.

I want to bring the material into the piece upon my return to Reading, still being very physical and part of the process of my work. I also wish to continue with the theme of a false sense of reality, much like we explored in photography. Most importantly, I want to continue with both methods of making to inform my practice.

Barbara Brown and Cynthia O’Brien

Barbara Brown and Cynthia O’Brien come together in a collaboration working on a combination of artistic vision. Both artists work in different mediums, but ‘both employ the changing beauty and delicacy of plants and flowers as a commemorative act and as an observance of transience, loss, remembrance, decline and rejuvenation in all living things’. The installation of their works in this environment reflect the emotional impact of living in a long-term care residence and as artists. The works reveals insights gained from this experience that they have had in this world where they had to interact with the nature around them. There is also an interactive element to the final piece seen in the back of the exhibition with a description;

Columbariun: A Consequence of Life


archival pigment print and clay

Columbarium is defined as a memorial space with niches for funeral urns. In this commemorative installation, each clay or photographic plaque represents a deceased person remembered by the artists.

The public is invited to place a person memorial note in one of the niches provided.

Tiffany April

Tiffany April is a current MFA student at the University of Ottawa whose work looks at the alien and unknown through painting, video and installation. The pieces work in conjunction with each other to produce a sense of calmness and an almost out-of-this-world experience. The soft palette of her paintings with the dispersing light from the videos and reflections from the installations, create a space that you are fully invested in, and become immersed within as each individual piece hits you one by one.

All images from Ottawa MFA Blog

Joi Arcand

Joi Arcand uses the almost lost written language of Cree as a message giver in an aesthetically beautiful form with cultural significance. There is a play on how language appears on street signs and shop windows, and the expectation that western societies hold. With depictions of how the world would look like in the Cree language, replacing all signs to create a somewhat surreal environment. There are often no translations available so then the audience have no satisfaction of having the right answer.

Photography Assignment Three

The third and final photography assignment at Ottawa looked at the history of photography, with my work specifically emulating and taking inspiration from Harold Edgerton. I chose to emulate his milk drop photograph by designing and 3D printing the drop. The two additional images look at the everyday that Edgerton was interested in, a running tap and card tricks. These were taken with surprisingly low shutter speeds, ranging from 1/8 to 1/15 due to the aperture used. I was unsure as to the success of these images until development and display, where I felt that they worked very well together. The final display of the three images in the frames was more professional than previous displays, adding a sense of completion to the images and project.

Harold “Doc” Edgerton was the first to use strobe lighting to freeze everyday objects and phenomena in motion. Edgerton worked both inside and outside of the studio and photographed in black and white as well as coloured film. Using the strobe light, he was able to capture moments that before, were unlikely to be photographed because of their speed and intricacy. He was first interested in photography through his uncle, Ralph Edgerton, who produced studio photography. Edgerton then went as far as producing his Engineering PhD paper on the use of strobe lighting in photography.

Using an exposure rate of 1/480 of a second, or nearly 30,000 a minute, Edgerton captured one of his most iconic images; a falling drop of milk with splashback, letting the film roll through the camera as though it was a motion picture camera. It must be remembered, however, that the strobe light was the key here in the darkened room. To recreate this photograph, I used the controlled environment of a lighting studio but manipulated the angle of the camera and light reflecting on the object instead of a strobe light and milk droplet. I produced the milk droplet through my own 3D print design, capturing that one moment in the fast-action shot. I chose to make it this way to challenge my knowledge of 3D printing, and to add an element of ‘new’ to the ‘old’. The 3D print also allowed the manipulation of other materials, and further post production development. This challenged my use of techniques learnt throughout the semester in the dark room to produce a final print.

Edgerton also made his first flash photograph without a motor, photographing running water, which transformed into crystal in the speed of the flash. The photographs of water portray a sense of soft destruction that water can cause. I wanted to take another perspective on this, capturing the water as though the tap is just being turned on or off. The image produced was with water running from a tap in the department, working with this idea, but still capturing a single moment of plain running water, such that Edgerton produced. The extraordinary in the every day became apparent to me through this.

The everyday was a continued subject matter for Edgerton, photographing with an exposure up to 1/1,000,000 of a second, demonstrating everything from depressions of tennis balls and rackets to the controlled shuffling of cards between hands. Again, it must be remembered that the strobe played the key role by lighting the subject in the darkened room. With my new understanding of seeing the extraordinary in the every day, I also continued in the same fashion of subject matter. Card shuffling has always been mesmerising to me, and so to recreate a moment of this fast action, I attached playing cards to wire, positioning them to cover the wire, while also appearing as though they are in motion. This was more difficult than anticipated as holding the wire for this length of time took a toll on the model’s arms. The final development of this image, however, demonstrates the control and ‘instantaneous motion’ captured by both Edgerton and I.

3D Design and Printing

As part of the third photography assignment to copy one photograph from a list of photographers from the first 150 years of photography, I wanted to copy Harold Edgerton’s Milk Drop. This was created using strobe lighting in a darkened room and allowing the film to run through the camera such like a motion picture camera would. This allowed the camera to capture the motion of the milk as it fell through the air and created a splash.

I used Meshmixer, a 3D design tool, to recreate the above image. I was new to this software, but had to pick it up very quickly to design the milk drop in time to finish my project. I consulted those in the art department that had previously used the programme, and YouTube, for useful videos to help me on this. Instead of producing a design from scratch, I manipulated a design that I found on thingiverse, which I believe made the project easier. I managed to gain a final design by continually looking at the milk drop and aiming to gain the same angles.

The final design was then saved and dragged into Cura, a software I have previously used for 3D printing. The print measuring 10cm would take around five and a half hours. Unfortunately, when I went to collect my print, I found that the 3D printer had struggled, or had simply not printed the top layers where the spheres were. I consulted the technicians in the department, and we decided that I could either use clay, glue gun or a self-hardening putty. I first tried clay, however this kept falling off and extra adhesive wouldn’t stick to the clay itself. I then decided to experiment with a glue gun. This stuck to the plastic very well, and I was able to manipulate the glue in such a way that it looked like the 3D print that I had designed.

The print and glue was then painted with household high gloss paint and once it had dried, was used in the lighting studio for the photography element of the project. Although several things had gone wrong as part of this process, I felt like this was still a good choice of process and material for the object, bringing something new and something old together.

Setting up Cards, Drips and Taps

Using a lighting studio, I was able to use the black curtain in a curved formation to recreate the background of the Harold Edgerton photograph, ‘milk drop’. The light was controlled using a snoot on a spotlight. This technique of the black curtain and snoot on the spotlight was also used with the cards photographs. The tap, on the other hand, required a delicate set up of a black cloth, while two iPhone torches were directed towards the tap and the water. All photographs used a light meter and were taken several times with surrounding settings to ensure a clear photograph.

Sculpture: Wood and Metal Assignment

This is the second of the sculpture assignments, looking at the use of the wood and metal workshops within the University of Ottawa. The project demanded two chairs as part of the brief, and I found two small children’s chairs that I soon wanted to make a curled up child, natural in form, such as the bodies of Kiki Smith. I wanted to attempt something more abstract, with inspiration from Ai Weiwei and Marc Sparfel, but found myself drawn to the more natural sculpture of Brian Jungen‘s plastic garden chair whales. After assessing the wood that I had, I found that the design was not compatible, and I moved onto what I thought would be easier; making part of a tortoise shell.

After choose a tortoise shell, I found that manipulating the wood into the forms that I wished it to go in was more difficult than anticipated, and several times I did not find it suitable to continue. Keeping all the smaller off cuts, I was able to salvage them into a smaller element of the shell that the larger element sat on. The final result of the wood was at first disappointing, as it was not what I had in mind. I initially wanted a smooth and formal shell that hid its imperfections, but as the project grew larger and time shorter, I found that the mismatch of the pieces was what made it unique and special. The metal created a hollow element to the shell, that was previously unavailable, and allows the audience to see through the wood, as well as at it. It was quite not of this world, much like the exploratory work of Tiffany April, whose work invites you in, much like this does. Balancing on its own also simulates the important balancing technique of Ben Woodeson, as the wood and metal are not connected to one another.

The final result named Show Me Your Insides, is a balancing empty shell, visible from all angles. It is an invitational piece that comments on the manipulation of material and trying to understand more than what is presented. The depiction of a natural shell in man made and natural materials adds to the unknown, especially of that within the animal kingdom.

Adding Metal To Chairs

I knew I wanted to merge a metal structure into the already made wooden structure, while using no fixtures, much like Ben Woodeson. I ended up creating a hollow, metal part of the shell that would help support the wood, while adding to the existing shape. This creates the effect of imagining what the shell would look like if it was to continue, both inside and out.

To create the metal element, I used MIG welding and a circular metal rod, cut down into appropriate lengths for the intended design. It was led down on the floor as a rough estimate, and then welded according to that design and the memory of it. I enjoyed the welding as I have previously welded and was comfortable doing so. Some of my welds were rough, however I felt like it added to the visible exploration of the material.