Rose-Anne Gush

Rose-Anne Gush felt like she needed to explore the history of women, and to engage with women artists in order to peruse artwork in feminism and politics. One of the key questions that Gush wanted to look at was that of; how do you overcome scale and how is it transferring in art practices? In order to begin this, Gush has become a third person in the relationship between Valie Export and Elfriede Jelinek, both artists that she has been looking at for her MA.
Gush’s work centres around learning about how these two artists practice in detail, almost down to their thought process, and even considering how they live and breathe. Valie Export looks a lot at feminism and the history of the feminine experience. As part of this, one of her works has been to roll over glass, and then roll over a large piece of paper to record all the marks. Gush is personally interested in the space used, and the space around this performance, as well as the pain that is behind it. One of the other most famous pieces by Export is otherwise known as a boob cinema – people enter the cinema (which is showing her breasts), with their hands, and they are invited to feel the space around, inside the cinema.
Psychology is also a large part behind Gushs’ work and she is intrigued in the psychology behind natures’ process. A significant part of this is culture and the development of the ego, which is quoted by Freud. Therefore, the body, or the woman, becomes an element in the social structure. There is also a technological production behind this.
Talking about myths and overcoming these is another part of Gushs’ work. It is art and anything non-conceived is not art. However, it is always conceptual no matter what (or what did not) happen. For Gush, the violence has not gone away for both women and artwork. She is therefore interested in knowing the mediation that come into play and how the myths shape the society.
This quickly moves onto the Jewish artist Elfriede Jelinek, who wrote the book Lust. This book deals with a society of people who never admitted to the holocaust, almost as though it never happened. The novel itself is structured around a minimal narrative that grinds you down with the (im)possibility of female sexual desire. Lust has been described as a stance of pornography but from the viewpoint of women. Jelineks’ work is often censored because of the nature of the subject. In sexuality, women are unable to gain their own sovereignty and they are objects for they are looked at but unable to speak. The book talks about in depth sexual fantasies, and I found this uncomfortable when an extract of the text was read to us.
Overall, I was a little confused about the work Gush did herself due to the fact that she talked heavily about these two women artists who have heavily influenced her. I was, however, intrigued by her level of almost obsession, and I am able to relate to that on some level.

Andrea Zittel

Andrea Zittel are painting and sculpture are forms of representation. When she moved to New York, she bred animals with living units that included everything that they needed to survive. She then did this for herself, and in her self-sufficient ‘pad’ she did not have a shower or a bath, but a large washing-up bowl.
After this project, Zittel found that she had no direction for her work, and this made her think, or obsess over perfection. In her house, Zittel had a bowl system of big, medium and small, and this was especially seen when hosting parties. The kitchen itself has a small stove and a small fridge, which suggests that she does not cook for many, and the table is for a large number of people. The floor in the kitchen and patio points towards modernism. In the bathroom, Zittel hand laid the floor tiles, and everything is laid out neatly in windowed-cupboards titled ‘addition’, ‘subtraction’ etc.
In the house, Zittel also made garments to do with the seasons. This stemmed from geometric ideals and would only wear rectangles, which she wore for a year. This moved onto producing crocheted dresses because it was all from one strand.
When Zittel was twelve, her family bought a sailing boat which she would obsess over, specifically the way in which the boat would move. This gave her the idea of creating a floating concrete island that which Zittel is going to live on for a month. Zittel finds this terrifying but enchanting, as well as all the other adventures she has been on with her artwork.
Most of Zittel’s work is about creating illicit personal and controllable situations. Her work is often about isolation. Zittel is interested in human values, perceptions and the understanding of meaning.
I enjoyed seeing the progression of Zittel’s work throughout the years, and how she has moved onto producing liveable ‘eco-systems’.

Maya Lin

Maya Lin finds art wonderful as it is everything that you’ve ever known, coming to form ideas. Lin’s art is large scale art, and she has played the part for the project of the five Foundation, in a tough park. One artwork cannot resolve all of the social problems that this area had. This piece was called Three Stages of Water, as included in the sculpture was solid, gas and liquid, coming into play in separate areas. The rings in the centre of the area were originally going to have water dripping down each one, but this idea quickly morphed into an ice rink. This piece marks a set point in time and also sets back to a certain time in nature.
Lin’s sculptures and works are set in natural phenomena and often look at geometry and formations. She enjoys playing between inside and outside works, trying to capture the landscape in both of these instances. This lead her onto cutting holes, making intricate islands and carving out landscapes in atlases.
A part of Lin’s work is being an artist and being an architect, although she has to be careful with the pieces that she produces. This is shown in the Vietnam memorial that she helped produce – if she had not done this, Lin believes that she may have been called an artist a few years earlier. There is no transition from artist to architect, or architect to artist, but rather a it has taken a body of work to see how she is developing.
I found her work very captivating as the use of the natural forms and also natural materials in works that are often in cities and troubled areas is an interesting juxtaposition.

Red Angel Chinese Opera

I initially planned for my piece to be showing in one of the white rooms of the studios. My mind was quickly changed when I found that the image came up very clear in one of the dark rooms. The projector and speakers were then set up in here for people to view. I originally wanted to display the masks along with the video, however I felt that I could not find an appropriate space for this, and the audience can capture the meaning and beauty in the film.
Editing the video was very quick as the interpretive actions were done in time to the speech. This allowed me to understand the use of getting it right first time during filming, rather than pieces many parts together.
I decided on the name Red Angel as these are some of the most common words in the opera. It is also because red defines bravery, loyalty, positivity and prosperity in a character. The angel part is because they are divine creatures, much like the female character within the story.
Overall, I was happy to research Chinese opera, and I have found it very interesting, and that I would consider other ‘non-Western’ routes for my artwork. However, I also felt as though I did not enjoy this as much as I did with the other films I have done, and also found it very awkward at all points of editing and producing.
Below is the final edit of Red Angel, which can also be found on YouTube.

When showing this to the studio group, many of them enjoyed the speech, especially as this was only myself doing both parts. There were also many comments about how it was clear which character was speaking, even though it was only one voice. Someone did find this too long, and I would agree with this and I feel as though 6 minutes would be long enough. To improve upon this, I have been given the idea of making, or finding more traditional costumes, finding other people to perform (as I didn’t like the project primarily because of this factor), and making it shorter. Another way to present it would be to have it on a larger screen, like in the cinema, while having it on the loop with seats all around, allowing people to come in and out. A last way to present this is having a live performance – having two or three people do live acting while I speak into a microphone.I found these ideas really constructive and hope to get others involved in this project, which would be very fun.

Red Angel Chinese Opera – Planning

After researching about the different Chinese operas, the processes, designs and dance, and also looking at Bauhaus and their costumes, I went on to design my own opera.
I had several versions of a script, as I have always found it difficult to create stories. The Final Script is available in PDF form. It was based off of The Drunken Concubine and Mulan Psalm, both very influential Chinese operas. The story is of two people who fall in love, and wish to meet each other the next day in a meadow. The man did not turn up, and the lady turns bitter and sour, hatching a plan to deceive him into believing she is the best thing that could come around, acting as a wise gentleman. The man then repented for his sins, and asked the lady to be once again his. The lady is then pleased as her plan worked, but still aware that he may leave her once again.
I designed three masks for this; one for the lady, one for ‘the gentleman’/deceiving lady, and one for the man. I followed the colour meanings that the Chinese use, which can be found in the post Chinese Opera Masks and Makeup. I also took advice from Nouahsark about the layering and designing your own masks. There were simple costumes of plain t-shirts and a patterned blanket. This was inspired by both Bauhaus and Chinese opera, as they both have very simple, but often bright outfits. This was also done to keep the costs down. Inspirations for the masks/makeup are below:

The opera was filmed in three takes, as improvisation was used, much like Bauhaus used it in many of their performances.
I also ended up speaking the opera, concentrating on the themes and meanings. This was also because I was too nervous to sing, and I feel as though it would not have the same effect. Because this was spoken, it made the performance part much shorter, and I think I would have been a bit stuck if I had to produce all the choreography alongside the opera. Admittedly, I was also uncomfortable with producing an opera, especially compared with some of the other pieces I have recently completed. I did, however enjoy learning about another art form that I would not have normally considered.
I also wanted to try and fit in some elements of Bauhaus [Performance] – The Turn of the 20th Century, as I found these costumes and performances very strange but captivating, which is an element that I wish the opera to have.
My own designs are below.

Letterpress Workshop

The letterpress workshop was held in our Typography and Graphics department, around the corner from the art department. We were able to see the original design of a letterpress, including a copy of the script that Gutenberg used to produce 400 bibles over a few years – this was an impressive feat considering it would take that long for scribes to produce one bible. The letterpress process stayed the same, however it switched to a more mechanical iron casting. This allowed a higher level of production, and as technology improved, more and more books were printed in the same amount of time.
We were also allowed to play around with three letterpresses and primary colour inks. We used the iron cast press and roller presses in order to create different prints. I was working on the iron press and because we didn’t have to fix anything, we could make patterns with the letters. Our theme was fireworks, which gave me the idea of making the work ‘firework’ look like a firework! The three groups who were working with the three colours and we shared the prints around to ensure that we got some really different designs.
I really enjoyed learning about the history of letterpressing and how we are able to accidentally mix the colours when layering the presses. One of the pieces I took was really effective in terms of being able to see colours behind each of the fading letters. Some of our prints were really strong, and others were very faint due to the number of prints that were done on one roll of ink.

Chinese Opera

There are many elements to Chinese opera including that of the stories, costumes, acrobats, makeup and themes, that are recurring throughout all Chinese operas.
Beijing, or Peking opera is regarded as the standard opera of China and is always performed in Mandarin. Some universities are solely devoted to Beijing Opera, although only a couple of channels show Beijing Opera on TV. Sichuan is the other well known opera type in China, but for its mask changing technique. “Overall the art form is well known for its singing, which is less constrained than that of the more popular Beijing opera form… is more like a play than other forms of Chinese opera and the acting is highly polished” (China-Expats).
Other types of opera include: Ping, Qinqiang, Henan, Kunqu/Teacher opera, Huangmei song (Opera about rural peasants) and Cantonese/Yue Ju.
Music in Chinese opera is often made up on Erhu, the gong, and the lute. The music, much like the costumes, makeup and masks, are very elaborate and often easily explain feelings and thoughts. The opening verses of opera often set the scene and are much like the writer’s notes, which ensures that a background does not need to be made on the stage. There is often a choir singing, an orchestra and the main characters of the opera.
Costumes, like the masks and makeup, are highly elaborate and colourful. These are often made up of large and heavy head-dresses, large shoulder-pads and soft, delicate and floppy sleeves.
Stories and themes
Rather than having variations of one or two plays, there are several traditional story lines that are repeated throughout the country. It is done in this way because of the many different types of Chinese operas, and thus the same story in a different style opera is almost like a new opera in itself. I found many of these, no matter the topic, very tranquil, such as Butterfly Lovers (Story can be found here.)

The Phoenix Returns Home is a Peking Opera with the elements of love, manipulation and mistaken identity and combines dance, mime, music and acrobatics. While researching other stories that are used throughout Chinese opera, I found that love was not an element of all. There is often elements of family, deception and manipulation. This is seen in Mulan Psalm, or as many people know it from Disney – Mulan.

A very famous story in Chinese opera is The Drunken Concubine, a one person show showing the concubine’s disappointment, her drunken charming and her intentional show-off of her beauty, all because the Emperor left her at the banquet table for another of his concubine’s. This opera is most known for its difficult movements throughout the performance, “including drinking a cup with the performer’s teeth only and placing the cup on the tray by bending backwards” (China Highlights).

The old tales of China tell us that all things may grow and change. A stone may become a plant. A plant may become an animal. .An animal may become a human. A human may become a god.
Just so, a snake may become a woman. And we are told of one who did.
Who can say for sure how it began? Yet after centuries of ceaseless effort – meditating, disciplining herself, mastering the energies of the universe – this white snake took human form. Immortal now and with great powers, she longed for one thing more.
Human love.
– Lady White Snake, Aaronshep

Chinese Opera Masks and Makeup

There is a certain art to creating Chinese opera masks and makeup. In the Sichuan opera, there is a talent of switching masks – this can be done up to several times in a minute and even 50 times in one show. The different masks introduce characteristics, indicate personalities, tell good and evil and distinguishes beauty and ugliness. The “masks come from an ancient tradition of face-painting among warriors and, as with war paint, the colors and patterns bear symbolic meanings” (ferrebeekeeper). These are more often than not elaborate designs, especially when partnered up with the costumes. The costumes with bright colours and soft, wavy arms, gives the actors moments to be able to change their masks.

The colours and what they represent throughout Chinese opera include:

  • White: sinister, evil, crafty, treacherous, and suspicious. Anyone wearing a white mask is usually the villain
  • Green: impulsive, violent, no self restraint or self control
  • Red: brave, loyal, positive, prosperity, courage, heroism, intelligence
  • Purple: used as substitute for red, justice, sophistication
  • Black: valour, rough, fierce, or impartial, neutral, integral
  • Yellow: duplicity, ambitious, fierce and cool-headed, cruel, evil, hypocritical, ambitious, sly
  • Blue: steadfast, someone who is loyal and sticks to one side no matter what, stubbornness, astuteness, fierceness and can be an indication of neutrality
  • Golden and silver: mystery, aloofness, also shown to be a demon, ghost or spirit
  • Lines: the larger the white area painted, the more viperous the role

ArtLab Workshop

The ArtLab workshop was used to introduce us to the aspect of 3D scanning and printing and these resources we have within our art department. By using a Sense scanner, with integrated sense programme, a scanner compatible with iPad and Cura (3D printing programme), along with a Cube and WASP Delta 3D printer, we were able to scan multiple objects and rooms, and see one of these come slowly to life in 3D print.
Throughout this workshop, there was also discussion of how we can translate this into an activity, or a workshop in the Tate. There are large debates and copyright infringements if we walk in and simply start scanning the artworks. We were effectively attempting to document the undocumentable. However, by translating this into a different medium, we would mainly avoid this problem. At the same time, we would loose meaning in this translation. We can exhibit the system, exhibit the document and document this translation all through this process.
Voids were also a big part of what we were look at, as you needed to fill in the voids in order for the printer to print a clear model. In many of the scans that we took, both with the iPad and Sense scanner, we had many voids, especially when we were scanning things that were in action.
Another thing we were looking at and constantly thinking about within the workshop was the use of these tools when working with the schools. One activity we thought of was scanning and then drawing from this scan – this could end up as line drawings, figurative drawings, paintings and possibly even further sculptures. Along the way in the schools workshops, there was the idea of creating ‘working’ 3D images using the handheld scanners to make a final story or comic, and possibly be able to 3D print some parts of this. Animations were thought about, however this was at then end of the workshop, and would therefore be something to explore in the future.
I enjoyed this workshop and the way in which it made me think about other uses for both the scanning and the 3D printing. I feel as though I could now easily bring this into my artwork, and working with technology, rather than against it.

Other works and our own from this session can be found on the ArtLab Flickr page.

John Smith

John Smith took a video of an everyday street, with unsuspected people, in 1976. Smith then did a voice over, directing each person, each vehicle and each camera shot within the video piece. This, all layered together, creates an effective and comedic art piece. Every detail has been covered, which makes you laugh, when someone has been told to walk on shot while picking their nose.
The comedic aspect of this piece was highly unexpected, but also very welcome. At some points, I found that this did get somewhat repetitive, however it was still a welcome aspect.