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Tutorial 2 (12.02.2024)

I postponed this conversation with Jonathan by 10 days from my original planned date, and I’m quite happy I did.

I pushed it for two reasons: a physical one, as I’ve been sick for a week and I didn’t want to “waste” this 1 on 1 opportunity, and a psychological one, because I was experiencing so much confusion, stress and fear in my mind before submitting my Study Statement. I wanted to deal with that on my own and not use this 1 on 1 as a therapy session.

In the 10-day delay, I managed to catch up with blog posts (so Jonatahn could see what I’ve been up to), work through my anxiety, submit a Study Statement with which I’m honestly satisfied, and ultimately make the most out of the conversation with Jonathan.

 

This is where our conversation kicked off.

JK asked me how I’ve been and expressed his impression of my Study Statement, which naturally pleased me.  

I talked about how my perception of myself and my practice is changing and, for better or worse, evolving.

Until the end of December, I adopted a very open, playful, experimental approach, enjoying the process of trying new things, challenging my work modes, travelling, and embracing the uncertainty of not knowing exactly where I was going.

January, on the other hand, has brought about a radical change in my position and rhythm.

After a two-month sabbatical that I took to dedicate myself 100% to the course (especially at the beginning), commissioned projects started pouring in, and perhaps I was too quick in accepting them. The weight of Assessment Unit 1 made me very stressed and anxious, and pushed me into an obsessive performative mode.

A nasty flu was just the icing on this manic cake.

I screwed up. And then I reacted. I managed to overcome the challenges and arrive at this tutorial stronger and clearer than ever.

We talked about my difficulties and my observations about this performative mode. How the Assessment becomes a performance and how my stress and anxiety eat up everything around me, including actual practice.

I also talked about the positive aspects of this “mode”, which brings out all my determination, ambition, and hunger. If only I could channel this powerful energy into the work and push myself without the pressure of deadlines and audiences.

As hard as it has been, this month has been extremely useful to truly reflect on my practice and my plans.

 

JK observed that there’s an interesting tension between experimental playfulness/exploration and performance/presentation/concretisation. I can work on the balance between these two opposite aspects. I need to recognise the weaknesses and strengths and learn how to play with the strengths. This balance is the essence of an artist’s life (experimenting VS exhibiting).

JK commented that he finds my level of self-awareness very high. I would add that sometimes this is both a strength and a weakness!

 

We talked about the paradox in relation to external judgement. I need to be praised/recognised/reassured by an audience to feel like I exist, like I matter.

At the same time, I am aware that I shouldn’t care so much about exterior judgement and I need to accept that my work is not universal, no work of art is.

But how can I not care about something so important to me, and so deeply personal?

For me, the point is not to be carefree (or care-less!), I will always be terrified by the judgement. The point is to be terrified and do it anyway. And it’s enough that my work touches one person, and it all will be worthwhile.

 

JK observed that the beauty of paradox is that on the surface it looks like a contradiction, but it forces us to dig deeper into ourselves, and that’s where we find deeper truths. His observation resonated with me.

 

JK proceeded asking me about the darkroom experiments and the physicality of it.

I expressed my frustration in not having found a proper working space yet, but I’m working on it by trying to get in touch with the analog photography community in Paris, and I’ve decided to use part of my small apartment to build a darkroom.

 

I am reading Jung’s “Man and his Symbols” at the moment, and I have found much inspiration in it. The work in the darkroom is an excellent method for me to explore my own unconscious. It’s a powerful metaphor too, experimenting in a small dark space reflects the dark spaces of my mind.

I also have an idea to study Rorschach’s bloats and create photograms with organic materials (I’m literally thinking brains and hearts. And I’m a vegetarian).

 

We went through the Desert Shapes series, and there’s a connection with the unconscious there too. These shapes can be interpreted in many ways, depending on the viewer’s psyche. The psychic images emerge within the real image.

 

I would like to introduce other physical experiments, like framing, to add other layers of perception. (maybe lenticular effect, pepper’s ghost…)We continued talking about the physicality of the darkroom process and why/what is so attractive to me.

I’ve always been attracted to raw materials, that’s no novelty, but in the darkroom process I found a new way to interact with the material.

There’s a shift of control. I don’t have total control over the materials. They become independent, alive. In this new relationship, I don’t play the role of the demiurge creating the world, but instead I engage in a dialogue with the materials. I observe them creating the world, and try to capture it.  It is a collaboration between my observation, my perception more than my actions, and the materials. Materials behave more freely, and I love the fact that I can never predict exactly what the outcome will be.

I am re-discovering photography. I used to think of this medium similar to Roland Barthes’ observation that a photographer is “an agent of death”: the second a picture is taken, its content/subject dies in the stillness of the image. I always felt photography was a look outward, but the work I discovered in the darkroom, is actually a look inward. This look, this process truly makes the materials come alive, reversing the deathly aspect of photography.

I am also fascinated by processes that phisically keep evolving, keep living, for example cyanotype.

Also, the result is totally unique. It only happens once with this shape, nuance, density…I find it a lot closer to painting than to photography.

 

We talked about the importance of sensoriality.

Working in the darkroom is an extremely sensorial experience. When I work with colour, I rely entirely on the sense of touch. Playing different music influences how I work on a piece. I am viscerally excited by the smell of the chemicals. On this note, I am experimenting ways to incorporate these other sensorial elements into my works.

I’m particularly fascinated by scent. How can I include scent in my artworks?

Scent is the most “analog” of all senses, because it cannot be digitised (yet). There is a physicality to it, you can only experience it right here, right now. Studies I’ve read also talk about the effects of scent on our subconscious. Smells are incredible emotional triggers, and they are invisible. They affect a particular area of the brain connected to memory. But they are also undetectable, sometimes we don’t even realise we are smelling something, and memories are triggered in the brain without our conscious awareness.

 

JK showed me the picture of the “cortical homunculus”, an illustration of what our human bodies would look like if the parts of our body were proportioned to our use of the senses. That was funny, I wonder what my body would look like.


Embodied experience is relevant to me (working in the darkroom, meditation, travel). Continue in this direction and think about the concept of sensorial environments (not about what I see, but how I perceive it).

 

JK suggested this quote/book.  

quote:

he suggests we need to move from...

‘a dominant ocularcentrist aesthetic to a haptic aesthetic rooted in embodied affectivity’

 

Mark Hansen

(Hansen, Mark. N. B. New Philosophy for New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2004.)

 

We talked about the possibility of making art accessible to people with disabilities. I don’t want it to be the central focus of my practice, but it could be interesting (and hopefully, enjoyable) to shift position in my practice, focusing on a “secondary” sense in the act of creation.

 

Dig deeper in the sense of smell. I work with chemicals, so the sense of smell is already very central to the process.

 

In conclusion, JK observed that my project is very ambitious. Not too ambitious, but very ambitious! My research and practice will take on new dimensions influenced by my experiences.  

JK feels that these physical/chemical processes are crucial and are a very valuable next step. He advised me to go down this road and I couldn’t agree more.

My priority now is to build my own darkroom and gain full access to practice.

JK also encouraged me to play the strengths of my performance-driven attitude, without losing the spontaneity of my initial playful experimentations with a sense of direction. This practice is a very good way to maintain that balance.

 

I’m very excited to uncover deeper layers of my practice-based practice.

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