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.

Ben Woodeson

Ben Woodeson came to the University of Ottawa for a short term in residence, where he held an artist talk to explain his practice and journey since art school. Woodeson knew he was a sculptor from the first time he made something. As part of his work practice, he would find things, buy items and just make something out of this. At his graduate show, he strung up electric heaters with ceramic mugs full of tea sat on top of them, commenting on the domestic. Throughout the talk, Woodeson exclaimed that he didn’t know what he was doing there, and he still doesn’t.

In Piccadilly Station, London, he used 400 tins of tomato pulp as a battery source. When travelling to another residence in Toronto, they were unable to get the tomatoes due to price, so they had to pulp old tomatoes thrown away by farmers, by hand. This process led Woodeson to the thought of energy. In his MA, he accidentally made an induction coil, expanding the metal column, and slowly raised the roof. Now he felt like he was onto something and travelled back to Canada where he made a magnet inside of a wall. There was a nail, with its tip pointing toward the wall, and this was the only thing in the gallery space, showing the powerful effect of magnets.

Woodeson then got invited to do a solo show in London, which was a steep learning curve for him. He rigged microphones all around the gallery, which fed into one set of headphones placed at one point. People in the gallery reacted badly to this and often crowded around one table in the cafe that was not rigged. Another piece listened to a conversation at the reception desk, then ran it through processors to spell out the conversation at the other end of the gallery. The timing was too quick for you to run through, so people collaborated to see what they said. In this exhibition, there was a continued commentary on energy and magnetism with Morse code from self-help books being played on handmade conductors.

There was a large period that Woodeson wanted to make dangerous work. One of his first dangerous pieces he produced was 34,000 ball bearings that you are invited to walk on. He was very surprised when people signed the waver and braved the room where they were all placed on the floor – people loved it! The work then extended into dangerous kinetic works, so he went back to thrift stores for source material and continued to work with electricity.

From here, his pieces shift to working in response to a material and trying to push it to its limits. He did not want to hurt people but wants to challenge them, and the health and safety limits of the galleries that he exhibits in. This led him to glass, balancing it in corners and dangling from bungee cords attached to the ceiling. With the volume of glass that he went through on a regular basis, Woodeson wanted to move to something that would be less dangerous if something did go wrong.

Teaching was in his books, so Woodeson had to send instructions for his piece to be replicated. What was then seen in the exhibition was an interpretation of these instructions by the curators. There was a reaction to materials, which has been seen throughout his work, but now also in the written word. This is a reflection of his studio also – a collection of bits that need a home because he is reacting to them. Another university then invited him to teach, and here he created Rat Trap Neon, which used the precarious once again. If you had touched it, it was so delicate that it would break the piece and cause a chain reaction.

Woodeson took up an iron residency in Minnesota where he continued to play with the material and to stretch limits. There was play with scattered pieces that would most certainly trip someone up if they weren’t looking where they were going. He also choreographed step shingles in New Mexico, balancing them like a stack of cards. The precarious element made a return with this work as there were no fixings, nor were there any fixings throughout his work.

For now, Woodeson is working on several projects that work with the material and continuing to stretch it to its limits. Colour has also made an appearance along with glitter, and he uses these with cast iron items that are impromptu and dipped to set. Woodeson finds the smaller pieces covered in glitter attractive and sexy, while also being beautiful traps. He bought the balancing glass back with this along with cyanotypes. The world of VR has also come into play and Woodeson is playing with more technological artworks by creating it in this environment and then 3D printing the result.

All his artwork takes time to construct, and yet it is instantly made. There is always a constant process that occurs. The precarious element within Woodeson’s work will remain there, but the colour of it may change.