John Poppleton

John Poppleton uses black light to create beautiful ‘Bodyscapes’, strange paintings and intriguing photographs. Poppleton says on his website that he has ‘always been in awe and wonder of the beauty found in nature’ (Poppleton.com). This awe has led him to include nature in many of his works. Much of his career has also been involved with brides and weddings, showcasing his earlier portrait photography passion.

“Black Light Bodyscapes combines the beauty of the female form with the splendor of God’s creations found in this world and the worlds beyond. Using temporary fluorescent materials the scenes are painted directly on the skin and photographed in modest poses to create a piece of art that is a unique as you are.” – www.poppletonportraits.com

I am inspired by the use of the fluorescent paint and both the camera and bodily manipulation that takes place. The modesty behind the portraits that he takes implies a sexual nature, but is innocent, especially when the model has a beautiful UV portrait on their back. I would like to bring this modesty and innocence, along with the possible use of UV into my own work.

Tino Sehgal

Tino Sehgal can be considered a choreographer, organising performances that are the ‘dance for museum settings’. His performances are organised wholes, bringing large groups of people together, often in order to break the fourth wall. In the Tate, Sehgal directed people to sing in harmonic chorus with each other, walking backwards through the large Turbine Hall. These performers then broke the fundamental fourth wall between themselves and the audience, coming into conversation with them. This break in the fourth wall was intense for those who experienced it, and the audience were confused, bewildered and unsure how to act.
Using the experience of breaking the fourth wall and making those watching feel uncomfortable, he is able to choreograph very interesting and captivating performances.
Sehgal does not document his own work, but rather lets the audience do this if they so wish. One of the main elements of being at a performance of his, is to be present, to have the full effect of the uncomfortable upon you.

Year 2 Spring Exhibition

The Spring Exhibition was a little controversial, as some believed that we should have not had this because of the minimal support we had over spring term, due to lecturers striking. The exhibition, however, went ahead. The poster we used [below] was created using the top titles the year group voted for, as many of them had the same number of votes, and was created by Clémence Muller.
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I placed my sound piece in a room with several other pieces that looked at feminism, the body and identity. Instead of clashing with the artworks that were already in the room, I felt as though my sound piece enhanced them, and created an invisible sculpture in the spare space around the works. Although this connected the pieces within the room, I also felt that the room wasn’t particularly inviting. There was a piece that covered much of the door, and although there was a sign saying for people to duck in, many peered in and then moved on. This barrier meant that they were unable to listen to my piece and the impact it had on travelling around the room.
Within these, I also uploaded them to YouTube with images of my Pole Performance. I did this, as I found it links the movement that you can hear in the audio pieces, with that of the movement in the performance and in the accompanying videos. I also put these on for ease, as I wanted someone to listen to them, and to associate my previous feminist work with this audio. When showing these, however, I did not show the videos, but rather audio only, meaning that many people would not have this association, but they would still be able to grasp the concept.

Even though this had occurred, I still felt that the piece, and the curation of the room, as well as the exhibition as a whole, went very well. I was able to stand in the room for quite a while to listen to the piece. There was some unintended overlap of speech, however instead of sounding weird, it just sounded like an echo. This echo gave the perception that the space was louder than it was. The use of smaller speakers in the corners of the room gave the effect that no one was there, even though there was always a sound.

Paul Purgas

Paul Purgas likes to make massive noises in obscure locations. Through his work he managed to create records in historic places, such as an anonymous Gothic architecture, much of which was pushed together in a way that didn’t make much sense. Within this house, you would clap your hands in one room, and the sound would ring into the other rooms of the house. By playing with the audio, he was able to find out what he needed to come into a record.
With this building, he improvised a three hour performance by using very basic sonic amps, classic base tones and sine waves. Through this, he would try and put the sound waves onto the building itself. Purgas would also use the technique of analogue distortion to carry this out. The distortion would be to put the sound through an aggravator, which adds to and distorts the wave. In this project and sound production, he picks out the ideas of distortion and gives it a physical space, and decided to put it in this house because of its history with these types of noises.
Prior to this, Purgas was making music in a traditional and conventional approach. The project in the Gothic house was the first step out of the traditional music studio.
From here, he got invited to the Tate and got given a small budget to record somewhere. Out of everywhere in the world, Purgas chose a nuclear power station in Snowdonia, which was designed by the architect Basil Spence. This space is constantly being dismantled and is a space that had completed its life cycle. Purgas took over this nuclear power station with massive PA systems to improvise sounds into a solid composition. Through his work in this building, he ended up creating a dark record that doesn’t particularly sell nuclear energy.
Though working in such unique buildings, Purgas was approached by the architecture foundation in order to create a project or installation as part of their exhibition. For this, Purgas found that he was very much inspired by the 70’s TV show with Nigel Neil, The Stone Tapes, in which researchers go into a Gothic mansion where they believe that the stones have captured the supernatural sounds of the house. These elements of sound, space and the sense of supernatural otherness inspired Purgas for this piece. It has the method to overwhelm the sense and has a powerful method of other perceptual possibility. These themes were always in the background of the architecture project. The main question here was; how do they define the building through these supernatural noises? This exhibition took place in London, near Baker Street, and created physical sound.
Purgas always tries to find the fundamental frequency and pure tone in physical spaces. This ensures that when these tones and frequencies are played, the sound itself is able to become physical. This also ensures that a maximum effect outcome is created through minimal parts.
After this work, Purgas carried on with architecture investigations and was asked for a commission with a radio broadcasting project in Germany. This made him rethink of active listening and the frame work of music, and how putting brackets around it is enough to make it a composition of work, or a performance. Within this work, they set up a radio receiver for the fluctuations of the atmosphere. This was partially inspired by the book ‘Earth Sound Earth Signal’, that which they talk about the Earths’ sounds and electromagnetism and art. [Purgas likes to pick up historical ideas, and taking the ideas, concepts and knowledge that we have now, and imagine how we can remix this knowledge.] Radio waves bounce off the ionosphere and picks up some of the noise of the ionosphere as it does so. For a trans-medial art performance, they did this in real time, outputting what was on their mixing desk, which bounced across the atmosphere and relayed back into the concert hall. What was sent up was clean, but what came back was almost pulsating, just like the atmosphere and the ionosphere does.
Purgas then moved on to the David Roberts Art Foundation in London, where which he got a commission. He found that especially here the landscape is different and that the public money is not available especially with private collectors and museums, that are cropping up more frequently. Purgas moved back into acoustic modelling, and using a frequency sweep in a room, giving them enough information about the room to work with it. From here, he looked into the qualities and latent sonic qualities of the space, in order to get the maximum output that he was able to in the space. For this piece, he also uniquely collaborated with vocalists and mimicking what they were doing electronically, but the putting it through as a voice. By using large and rigid objects within the space, he was able to create a base and foundation of the improvised performance. This performance ended up sound very new age.
Purgas is currently working on an entirely new project in which neural networks that allow AI systems to work, and manipulating the AI, or the neural networks to create music. There are multiple networks that are working at the same time, fighting and completing to arrive at decision and conclusions. One of the aspects that Purgas is interested in is how we can extrapolate this into a composition system. Through this, he is looking to work with a super computer in Cambridge to build the sound and sonic processing.
Another project that Purgas has looked into in the endless theatre which was adaptable for everything. This theatre was never actually built because no one realised the potential, however Purgas managed to get his hands on a 3D model of this. Transferring it into an acoustic model software and playing around with the position of PA systems and microphones, Purgas was able to make a piece of music from the brain of a building on a computerised system.
He is also working on research projects in Finland, with electronic instruments that no one knows how to play. He is going over to try and decode the instruments and create a composition. The original artist was interested in the biological part of the electronics. There is also a project in India that he is currently looking into, in which the first electronic music was set up along with a large archive of music and artists unbeknown to anyone.
Purgas also worked with other artists to curate programmes. He found it to be one of the most useful and enjoyable things that he has done outside of his normal ‘studio’ works and has helped him to build relationships and connect art back to the outside world.

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Pole Performance

I have to admit, I’d never imagined myself being a performer, let alone using projections, videos and performance on a pole. Setting up this room was a little annoying, as the pole itself took two weeks, and then there were difficulties with equipment. I did, however, enjoy performing to the studio group, and receiving their feedback for the presentation of the performance.
It was said that the set up of the performance worked well, in that you are always looking at something. This included the projections, myself performing and also the shadows that were created. There was also a drawback of this; even when it said ‘look at me’, some people found that they were too busy watching the videos to watch me, even if they wanted to.
The use of the blacked out room also made the performance more powerful, along with the spoken word. I did find, however that the black blackout material did not work as powerfully as the white walls, and thus people did not often see that there was a video on this wall. For my next performance, I may try out some of the different techniques of projecting that I tried in Untitled Collection Projections, in order to determine the consensus and the power of this.
My costume choice was also mentioned, as this was something that was rushed and a last minute decision. In my next performance, I would like to explore more my costume choice and how this may affect the power and speech of the performance itself. The power of the speech will also be improved through louder and more empowering speakers.
Overall, I really enjoyed this performance and the ideas and points of view that I was able to present within this performance. Below is two versions of the performance; one that I showed to my studio group and another that I created afterwards, in order to get a full edit from different angles. Below is also several film stills from the performance, used as documentation.


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Untitled Collection Projections

Following on from Untitled Collection I decided to project in various ways while doing a small performance on the pole. This was recorded from two different angles in order to see three videos that were projected onto three out of the four walls in the room.
Initially I tried to fit two projections next to each other on the same wall. This caused several problems including that of the projectors at my eye level while I was on the pole. The blinded me a couple of times, and I felt like I stuttered. Because being on the pole takes a lot of concentration, this was very distracting. I also found that the projections overlap each other on the wall. Although this was annoying, the effect that it created ended up being very interesting; the new videos of pole and red lips, and then the old videos of the Suffragettes.

I then decided to play with the two projectors on opposite walls. I found this to be much nicer on my eyes, as the projectors were at a level that they were not shining into them. It also allowed those viewing the performance to see the videos no matter where they stood. The projections were centred more onto the wall than myself, which also meant that you could see more of the video, and myself performing separately.

When projecting three videos onto three of these walls, there was a large emphasis of movement, especially between the videos and myself, the movement I was making and also the movement of the shadows that were being cast. I preferred this out of the three different projection types as I felt that it was able to get across my message in the best way. I also liked this set up as the viewer was able to see videos and shadows no matter where they stood.

Untitled [Body Pole]

Once again, I captured some of the footage on a Go Pro. This was more difficult than I originally thought, and more difficult that when capturing footage for Untitled [Close Pole] & Untitled [Head Pole]. This is because I did not have the door blocked off with a curtain or any blackout material, which meant that the light from the corridor and the room opposite could be seen. There were also lots of occasions and deleted footage because someone was walking past, or you could see into the next room. Something that will nag at me as well is the view into the dark room next door, where a painting that is on the wall is obviously seen.

Within this edit, I once again used the breathing from Pole GoPro Experiments that was also used in Untitled [Floor Pole] and Untitled [Top Pole] to ensure synchronisation when playing. It was also to ensure that when editing, I had certain happenings at certain occasions, which would play out fully when all three videos were running on projectors. I wanted this to be longer in order to use it for the performance that I am planning.

Within this edit, I did find that there were extremely long gaps, however I felt like I had to accept this, as I did not want an overload of video when all three were playing at once. I did like some of the unique shots, especially when it seemed like my knees were coming towards the camera. I did believe that I could have done more editing to this in order for it to be more different, rather than just videos of pole that have been slightly altered with speed. I finally added Spoken Poem in the background in order to show it within my performance.

Untitled [Top Pole]

These videos were captured using a clamp and my phone at the very top of the pole. Capturing video this way was a new experience for me, and I made the mistake of thinking that the phone would last for 20 minutes the first time I videoed. Sadly, my phone only lasted 5 of these minutes, but luckily I had also used the camera on the floor, meaning I had almost an hour of footage by the time I had finished. With using my phone up here, I also had to use the ladder to get up and down – this wore me out, but it was less than climbing up the pole itself.

Like in Untitled [Floor Pole], the first edit I used had the breathing from Pole GoPro Experiments, which I did late last year. I also made this the same length as Untitled [Floor Pole], so then when displaying it, there would not be random stopping times. Throughout these videos, I did find it difficult to get a so say ‘nice’ angle for the camera, due to the clamp that I was using. I tried my best however, and I was happy with the results. I also extended this version.

Once again, I added the Spoken Poem to the video, and extended the length so that the three Untitled films could be shown at the same time.

As previously mentioned, I felt that there could have been a better camera angle to capture the footage, however I did find that I concentrated on the mat. This was somewhat better so that there would be no other distractions, and often it would be concentrating on my body, rather than my face. This reduction of the person to the body is something that The Male Gaze and Voyeurism look at, which allows my work to link into this even further.

Untitled [Floor Pole]

While I had the room to myself, I decided to video myself from a very traditional position. I used a tripod and camera pointing at the pole in order to video myself from this new angle, as previously I had only used the Go Pro and camera from above. I captured footage each time I was on the pole, and I quickly found that I repeated the same moves time and time again. A part of me thinks that this is because I was more comfortable doing these moves, however another part of me knows that I simply could not remember more moves.


The first edit I did included the breathing from Pole GoPro Experiments, which was exaggerated and showed the physical exertion that I take each time I go on the pole. Although I enjoyed this version, I felt that it wasn’t enough and that I had simply taken the concept of doing pole in a gym and put it in an art studio. This was not linked to the feminist and male gaze themes that I was looking into for my performance. This lead me to create a longer version of this, by spreading out the clips from each other. This makes the video long, with plenty of black spaces, however I am looking at displaying all three videos at once, and I don’t want all the videos to be quick. The length of the videos will also allow me to perform on the pole while these are playing.


The last edit I did included the Spoken Poem I created for the performance. This final edit I preferred because of its longer length and because the meaning is more prominent within it. I was a little annoyed, however, at the angle of the camera as you could see the wall plugs, wooden baton on the ceiling and the light. On the other hand, it was even more difficult to find an appropriate place for the camera, as this was the best place in such a small room.

Spoken Poem

As part of the video and performance work, I wanted to look more into making the experience somewhat uncomfortable and more emotional for the audience. I thought that music wouldn’t have the same effects as words, and decided upon creating a small script or poem to speak out over the speakers in the performance. I have also added these to the later versions of the Untitled Collection.
Some of the phrases I used from the ‘top 50 most empowering feminist quotes of all time’ (Stylist.Co.Uk) and after little Googling, Barack Obama even had something positive to say about feminism (Independent.co.uk). I decided upon the quotes that I felt had most meaning and power behind them including;
“Value yourself for what the media doesn’t – your intelligence, your street smarts, your ability to play a kick-ass game of pool, whatever. So long as it’s not just valuing yourself for your ability to look hot in a bikini and be available to men, it’s an improvement.” (Jessica Valenti)
“There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex. Might as well speak of a female liver.” (Charlotte Perkins Gilman)

Look at me.
We are all women. Or at least we begin that way.
So why is it that we are not all treated the same?
Look at me.
What I said. Does that make me a feminist? A woman? Or just human?
“Feminism is not a dirty word. It does not mean you hate men, it does not mean you hate girls that have nice legs and a tan, and it does not mean you are a ‘bitch’ or ‘dyke’.” (Kate Nash)
Look at me.
“A life without femininity – devoid of mystery, emotion, gentleness and the unerring power of a woman’s love – is no life at all.” (Antonella Gambotto-Burke)
Strength and beauty. Not just a body.
Look at me.
Value yourself for what the media doesn’t – your intelligence, your street smarts. If it’s not valuing yourself for the ability to look hot in a bikini and your availability to men, it’s an improvement.
Power and control. We changed history 100 years ago. So why can’t we do so today?
Look at me.
“Progress is not inevitable. It’s the result of decades of slow, tireless, often frustrating and unheralded work.” (Barack Obama)
Some may hope that we never get there, but they don’t know our strengths.
Look at me.
Do you see me as a body? As a figure on a pole?
Or do you see me for a woman, playing to my strengths?
Look at me.
You tell me we are equal, but I am looking down on you.
You tell me we are equal, but you couldn’t do this.
Look at me.
Because I am looking at you.

 

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