Today has seen this work move a few more steps forward. I left the studio last weekend after trying to figure out a fridge on wheels – or to put it more eloquently a refrigerated freight wagon, which would become part of the reason why the aliens have invaded and are staying put. After spending more than half my time today focusing on a new design I can safely say that I have combined the best of two designs for this element of the work.
I began by fixing 4 cups (end to end) before I began to work around this structure. I’m glad I did the other one last week as it really informed the construction of what turned out to be taking the best bits and combining with with a freight wagon. I’m really pleased with the outcome and decided to return to the writing process.
I forgot for a time that this piece would not have a happy ending, which I am slowly drawing to. With a finale of sorts being written by the time I left. I am thinking about other attempts to try and over-throw the invading force. I must remember American history though which tells me the more technologically advanced race won sadly so I should reflect that. Maybe more skirmishes are needed using the language of the Western to fight against the alien invaders. It could go on forever, until I reach a decision I need to carry on writing. Today has seen what could possibly push my abilities both animation and software. It’s something I need to experiment with a lot before I plunge into anything. I’m not put off by that either, I see this all as a challenge to be met.
I’ve not actually done as much making as I have done in previous weeks. Having reached the end of the making process for this test piece. I might be adding more detail later on however.
Focusing on the base, constructing a cave at the bottom of the shaft where cowboys and possibly Native Americans might go into hiding. I’m starting to think about how possible events may play out in the event that the aliens had succeeded in taking over America. I began the day by drawing out and then shaping out cave ends that were soon fixed to the structure, adding even more stability to this piece. After a break for lunch I began to cover up the base that created the cave.
It built up quite quickly allowing me time to pause and begin to think about the concept more, leading to some research to begin. Part of that led to me finding a painting that really celebrates the term and idea – Manifest Destiny. American Progress by John Gast (1872). Today its not so much prophetic as disturbing, you have a woman in the middle of the piece – Progress making her way West moving the savage Native Americans, Buffalo out of the way as progress in the form of trains and stagecoaches follow in her way. Farmers waiting to move out and settle on newly claimed land. Ironically it’s a woman bringing civilisation West and not a man, maybe it’s the aesthetic of a woman treading over the land being more pleasing on the eye than a farmer or prospector, traditionally a male role men leading the way and women following quietly behind, keeping the new homes ready for their return from a days work in the wilderness. A woman here suggest also the virgin land yet to be touched by the American dream, ready to be tamed to be worked by the American Anglo-Saxon’s that believed it was their god-given destiny to reshape the land. This is where the research took over for me. It was an editors article – John O’Sullivan article that first mentions the term Manifest Destiny that’s adopted by some, but not all politicians. Also the term was only really used between 1812 and 1860, just before the Civil War broke out. It was the fear that the spread of slavery across America which was becoming difficult to accept. So it’s more about the spreading of American ideals initially, spreading and sharing the right ones as the expansion process was rolling out. The image of the woman could be easily replaced with a spaceship or a flying saucer firing lasers into the ground as all life escapes to the East. This is definitely an image that will inform my current work.
The Louisiana Purchase (1803) allowed this expansion into territory that was to American knowledge undiscovered, the French declined to share any details about the huge swathes of land they have just sold, probably to help fund/resolve the unrest back home under Napoleon. The extra land was also a worry to politicians not wanting the spread of slavery again.
I also came across part of a speech/reason behind the resolution to the 1812 War between British British Canada, which was over Indian Raids into the Midwest. I learned the original reason behind the acquisition of Native American land.
“The United States, while intending never to acquire lands from the Indians otherwise than peaceably, and with their free consent, are fully determined, in that manner, progressively, and in proportion as their growing population may require, to reclaim from the state of nature, and to bring into cultivation every portion of the territory contained within their acknowledged boundaries. In thus providing for the support of millions of civilized beings, they will not violate any dictate of justice or of humanity; for they will not only give to the few thousand savages scattered over that territory an ample equivalent for any right they may surrender, but will always leave them the possession of lands more than they can cultivate, and more than adequate to their subsistence, comfort, and enjoyment, by cultivation. If this be a spirit of aggrandizement, the undersigned are prepared to admit, in that sense, its existence; but they must deny that it affords the slightest proof of an intention not to respect the boundaries between them and European nations, or of a desire to encroach upon the territories of Great Britain. . . . They will not suppose that that Government will avow, as the basis of their policy towards the United States a system of arresting their natural growth within their own territories, for the sake of preserving a perpetual desert for savages”
It took a few reads to understand what was really being said beyond the old pleasantries of political speak. So my understanding is…
- They would rather take land with a little fuss as possible, that would allow farmers to work the land.
- They don’t want to tell the Native American’s how to lead their lives.
- They will be exchanged like for like land in terms of quality, not so much scale, as I have ready previously.
- The new boundaries will be respected – in reality they will become reservations that no white American would want to go near.
As I made more sense of all this research, manifest destiny still exist, just in a different form, the land grabbing has been done. The land has been reshaped pretty much for the use of the American Ango-Saxon’s who along with other European settlers have made their own. The political ideal of democracy is the only thing they can still promote beyond their borders. It’s what has lead to America’s entry into WWI, WWII (that and Pearl Harbour) among other more modern American wars, wanting to bring democracy where it doesn’t exist, or not in the form they want. Now currently isolationism is very much foreign policy of the Trump administration – “America First”. There have been interventions just more subtle, in hopes that democracy – American style will one day take route.
Away from all the research which is starting to inform my thinking I needed to take a break from all of this to just play, see how the cowboy and Indian toys would work if they were all in this cross-section piece. It was really fun to do, I can see where the camera would potentially go and any difficulties that may arise (there are a few) which I would need to amend. Maybe a bigger cave for example, or building separate larger sections for more in-depth work. I’m already thinking it will be an animation.
When I consider the aliens I’m drawn to the H.G. Wells saucers from War of the Worlds, it’s like I’m moving the action back a century before technology would have allowed us to understand the visitors before it worked out in our favor. I could simply suggest their presence through special effects or other methods. That’s one for another day though.
I’ve had an unwanted break from the studio, it’s really being bothering me. When I had other things that needed to do, pulling me away from the studio where I’d rather work full time (if only I could). Enough moaning and I’ve had a really good day, doing more than I had expected again. Beginning the day wrapping the largest element that would later form the cross-section of a gold mine.
Once that was wrapped in brown paper I was ready to fix them all into position. Taking into consideration the difficulty of blending in each section, leading me to work on the 2nd element sooner than I thought. During this long process I ran out of the brown paper I was using, switching to a much lighter stone colour, which thankfully works OK at this stage as it suggests extra work has been carried out by the miners digging into different rock.
I finished the day making a start on the cave at the bottom, which became to arches (of sorts) which acts as legs that support the entire piece. I’ll be wrapping them up next time and working on the other ends to create the cave effect to. So far It looks far more defined, it’s taken more work to bring it to this level. This piece shows that a lot of progress has been made. I’m considering buying more balsa to work on buttresses for another test (or to add to this piece) which will hopefully show more progress. This piece whatever form it may take is using a lot of material, both recycled and new. I’m leaning towards an animation, which potentially will have more advanced sets since Playing with Plastic (2016) which was more floor based. This relies on more sculptural pieces to explore the work.
I wanted to post an update yesterday, however I felt and needed a break from most activity to just switch off as much as possible. Plus I didn’t really achieve much either so I decided to leave things for the day. That was then, today I’m actually pleased with the progress I’ve made. A far larger scale piece that really has come along quite well during the day.
Yesterday I had drawn up a new cross-section with another level and a cave at the bottom, which I am looking forward to seeing come together. The spaces around the tunnels I had drawn up were then raised up into 4 separate elements which I have them begun to wrap. The process of constructing them was pretty straight forward. I’ve got a nice method for the curved edges which I break up into multiple pieces. I spent the rest of the day wrapping each of the pieces, starting with the smaller one’s which I knew I could complete in the day. I knew the larger element would take far longer due to it’s size. When I was reflecting on the days work I could see that I had constructed 4 objects over the weekend in their own right. It feels a shame to have them just fixed to the board and joined up with more wrapping. I feel that they should be explored, or at least acknowledged before this realisation is lost to the progress of making this piece.
I’ll continue to wrap up the remaining piece and sadly fix the elements to the board and start more fun work of making the piece stand. I am also considering bringing in balsa on this piece, which would be used for buttresses at intervals. I think that maybe held back until I know whats going on.
After a short trip to London, I returned to the studio for Bank Holiday Monday, hoping to make some more progress with this test piece. My main aim was to get the shaft up and in place. Things have moved in a slightly different direction.
I began the day by adding the base and fixing in place, slowly patching up the brown paper to remove any suggestion of a join between the elements. I’m starting to get a hang of how the wrapping working, almost like paper mache in places, wrapping over before making it look more realistic, or my own language for a tunnel which so far I’m happy with the aesthetic. I have another tone of paper to use next.
With the base in place I moved onto added the shaft, which I knew would might be harder to wrap once in piece, working with three sides at once. Working with larger strips of brown paper I was able to achieve this. Once complete I was wondering how I can potentially reach/work with model. So I began to cut into the shaft, extending the level that the shaft goes into, whilst still trying to look like a shaft.
Reflecting on it now I can see that I still need work on it, how the tunnel becomes a shaft. It may even revert back to it’s original form, it means more work. The main thing is I want to see how things are working before doing something even more complex. I can consider for now how to move forward.
Today has been a challenge, one I hope I am meeting head on. The challenge to create layers that connect up. After some research I came across a model miniature that I am using as a reference for my own. I’ve taken a section to replicate in my cardboard style.
Taking the whole side of a box I began to sketch out a rough cross-section to build up a low-relief piece that I knew would keep me busy. It’s been a learning curve, I started out fleshing the roofs of both section of tunnel. I started to realise that I was going to fast, forgetting that I need to get to wrap those sections, I had two roofs set-up before this happened. I stopped to wrap up the first one before carrying on. Then I move on to flesh out the ground that connected with the layer below. Once I had that section in place I was busy wrapping again where I spend the rest of the day.I also added to supports above – forgetting the extra pieces so far.
I knew I wouldn’t finish the piece, with the base still to be added and more construction on the shaft too to begin. I’ll be adding some balsa too in that area. I’m happy with the sloping floor which I hope I can populate with cowboy figures and wagons, just to see if they fit at this stage.
I’ve made a few steps in the right direction now. Taking the base of last weekends model miniature and building underneath it a more cave like structure. I began by drawing up a series of pieces that had a more overtly arched shape. A shape that works quite well when I fixed them to the base and secured. I noticed that once I stood it up right it was top-heavy. I had to think about how to balance it out whilst also maintaining the look of the cave. I had a spare cardboard tube in the studio which I grabbed, cutting to size and butting into position.
Once I knew it was secure and able to stand up I began to wrap it up with brown paper once more. Again it went pretty well. I had enough time to make another base which I began to wrap. Now the step up, I wanted to join the two pieces together making it a whole piece. which was a bit slap-dash in places. I knew that it fitted my overall aesthetic and I could wrap over these parts. The good think about this work that any new additional parts that are created and joined can look naturally part of the whole with the help of the paper. I know that looking at this finished test piece that I could have wrapped it a bit better where the joins are hidden, that’s something that comes with time and practice of making these pieces. I’m also considering that the supports need to look more natural, maybe pieces of cardboard either side. It’s something to take to the next piece.
The next step is a big step is to make it possible for the layers to be connected to suggest that travel between them is possible. I know that can’t be steps, it might be a series of shafts, or could there be a staggered drop between layers. I’m imagining both options right now which need to be research before I make a quick piece like this again. It’s back to the research for now.
The aim of the day was to construct two layers of a tunnel, one, the entrance and a level below. I didn’t quite meet that but I have still made some progress as I can share below. I had a bit of a false start, even after I made a solid start on a new test piece. I got so carried away with making the walls I forgot to add the roof above that forced me to unwrap what I had already done to add that structure. On the wrapping front I decided to buy a roll of brown parcel paper which I’ll now continue to use and distress before fixing into place. My reasoning is that I have used fresh unused boxes in the past for piece so why not here, The paper’s distressed before being used, taking it away from its desired function.
As I began to wrap the new improved piece I had tried out the folded edge method which looked good to a point. The point being that after a few more pieces were added in places, it looked too neat. I was given some advice during the day to added ripped pieces, which I adapted to fix on top to appear more natural too, which it does.
I tried this method out on the next piece, the base and potential ceiling of the next layer, It worked really well, so I decided to return to the top half which really changed the who look of the piece. I felt it would be patchwork, but honestly it adds more authenticity than I imagined.
Reflecting at the finished work for the day I have come further forward, However much I have the aesthetic down, the overall construction is not quite there, I need to build it up more like a tunnel, even with a ridge on the base was not enough. It needs to be more rounded above. Yes it’s narrower but it’s not looking like a tunnel really, it’s getting there slowly which is what I am taking away from this weekend in the studio. Next time I’ll take my decisions from the end of today and apply then to the next layer, building under this base with a more rounded tunnel and an improved base for that too.
After an unwanted extended break from the studio due to illness I made a much needed return which has been very productive. I’ve done more than I had expected to do which is always a bonus. I was greeted this morning by a nice donation of cardboard from another studio holder, something I am accustomed to, but not to this degree. A number of flattened boxes with a lovely note.
So I began where I left off, the structure that was essentially a tunnel on the corner in between two walls of cardboard, ready to be fleshed out during the day in preparing for brown paper to be wrapped and fixed around the cardboard frame that was built up. I’d had to say the hardest part was constructing the framework for the ceiling of this tunnel. I had already cut away the majority of the ground to allow me easy access to eventually add the brown paper on top.
The wrapping itself was pretty easy going, I think I’ve improved since I made the rocks for my animation a few years ago, being more precise with where I fix it in place. Even fixing to the framework. My only concern with the paper is that it comes in strips which naturally have harsh or even torn edges which spoils the illusion to a point. I don’t really want to reveal that. An early thought is to fold over these edges to create something new in the texture of the rock faces. My only concern is that I will be soon running out of brown paper. My only option is to constantly reuse as much as possible. I do have a roll of parcel paper, however it’s unused, so not at the point where it can be recycled. It’s something I would have to purchase new to use for different purpose. I’ll have to make that decision when I’ve exhausted my current supply.
Moving on I also made a base – the ground of this tunnel, complete with a mound to create something more natural to look at. Making use of my most recent donation I pieced two leaves of the boxes together and drew out the area that needed to be wrapped up, with a mound and section of another on the side. I finished the day by bringing both elements together to complete the desired piece. I’ve got the right scale, it needs some improvement and I also need to reduce the width of the piece so it’s more like a tunnel not a cave, which can be more expansive. I’m saving something like that for later when I know what I’ll be making for this piece. Now it’s just about understanding how to make these pieces before adapting them to the concept which needs to be research more before going further. I know I need to look at the notion and drives behind the policy of Manifest Destiny and seeing how an alien translation would look.