After yesterdays day off to watch England’s quarter-final match I have returned to the studio. I hoped to have been writing more today, well I didn’t really, except I have expanded it slightly more, it’s a natural process that I think will often be interrupted with the odd making session which will help inform the writing process.
I picked up where left off, the big reveal which will require a rather complex model miniature set-up which needs some work. I wanted to see how a retro-futuristic fridge on wheels would look. It took me some time to get started really, the heat in the studio was just a few degrees less than outside which had highs of 34 degree’s Celsius. I needed a break before I finally got started on the making process.
I made two test pieces, both using paper cups as starting points. The first was a struggle as I got used to the heat, something I’m not really used to, (or much of the UK). Trying to combine both a cardboard tube and two paper cups, which wasn’t really successful. The base is probable the best part of this one as I had to work on a way connect it to the base and wheels. I’ll probably use that technique for a future pieces.
I was ready to pack up and go, thinking I need to get out for some fresh air. Instead I found myself playing with more cups, 4 this time which I quickly fixed together at alternate points to create a wavy line, now I had to work out a frame-work of how best to connect this one (even more complex than the first) to the base. Strangely I started in the middle, fixing a strip that reaches across the middle, before adding other strips that were connected to a base.
What I noticed from looking at previous train pieces at this scale, was that I could easily remember how to construct the wheels and how much I rely on trimming to hide any joins. I used the trimming also to really add form to the second one which on reflection looks more like a tanker. However on reflecting at the end of the day I like the look of the silhouette that it creates, like a sunken wagon top. I want to keep that whilst also looking at the more traditional freight carriages that would’ve been used to carry life-stock. Also I need to do a few sketches and see what comes out of those, see where the combination of both models meets. I also need to lose the obviousness of the cups which hold it back, whilst maintaining the shape I’ve discovered.
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.
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.
As my most recent work is winding down I’ve decided to push my making even further – tunnels. Well that’s part of the reason, as much as I want to see how tunnels would look on a large-scale. Another major reason is to flip the idea that is explored in the film and comic book Cowboys & Aliens, looking at manifest destiny which was the basis for the White Western expansion and forced removal and relocation of Native Americans. Without getting too political in this post, I wanted to further look at how the flip of the coin in both print and film looked at the Aliens belief in their own manifest destiny over the planet, putting the White man on the other side of this ideology. However in both book and film they win the day and the status quos restored, progress is allowed to carry on. I want to see how it would look if the Aliens did win, they were able to communicate for reinforcements who arrived and enslaved human kind.
I’m jumping forward a few years to look at the possibility of a group of White man or Cowboys hiding out in an invade United States, just another section of an invaded planet. I’ve not even thought about that yet, focusing on that role reversal instead. So today I’ve made a start on how things might look physically. I’m learning a new side of my practice again. This time very confined spaces – tunnels. I can already make exterior rocks that can be moved about for animation. However I’ve not made anything on a large-scale or higher detail with this technique.
Today I made a test piece that was the entrance to a tunnel, using as plastic cowboy toy figure again for scale as I hope to use them in the final outcome. I also started working with cardboard tubes to begin with as I flesh out the tunnel, which was completed with strips of card at the base of half a tube. Before really beginning to flesh out the walls and legs, which were later wrapped in brown paper. It worked really well, even taking my time as I wrapped the paper around. The only trouble I have at the moment is working in the tunnel to cover it. I know eventually it would be darkened or blocked off.
Before I left I made a start on a more elaborate piece that was looking at the inside of a tunnel, meaning a roofs needed. I could only make a rough start on the piece, drawing in walls and supporting pieces. I have decided to cut this piece out to be solely the walls on the base. This is where it’s starting to get complicated, the removal of most of the base allows me to construct a ceiling that can be more effectively worked. I know if I build something intricate it will have to be built in sections to allow me to complete them to a good standard. Sadly I was called away before I could take any photo’s of this piece. I’ll be back in the studio soon enough to hopefully complete the piece and improve on the overlapping of sections that I know will come with time.
Today I’ve been focusing on a suggestion that was made to me during the open studio last week. Focusing on the audio – playing with that to see it through and see if anything comes out of that experimentation. If I’m honest, whenever your given ideas so late into a piece of work that you know is almost complete aren’t generally appreciated. If anything it’s just little hints and tips to refine it.
After editing together the final versions of the videos to be projected into the model miniatures. I wanted to look at even the possibility of a solely audio element. So taking the nearest model miniature to hand and tweaking its video to become another test. I copied and lifted the audio and began to play about with it. I settled on a version where the segments of audio slightly overlapped each other.
Testing this first version I could see straight away that something was happening. The audio fills the space more immersive than the projection on its own. It also acts as draw to the piece without the need for video, which is a bonus. The projection is confined to the space it’s directed to also, which is limiting.
However I took the video idea further by refining the test further. I first adjusted the volume of the audio track, whilst adding the video to the end with no audio, which was again very effective. It leaves the visuals open to interpretation what the audio might me, which draws the piece back to one of the principles of my work – not to insult the imagination of the audience. Removing audio is another way of achieving that. The audio can be unnerving on first experiencing the audio can be quite jarring and also cliche. Slow-motion action with the slow-motion audio on loop can be hard on the ears, but that’s what draws you to the piece, the strangeness of it is a characteristic of the piece I don’t want to loose. The audio is a cry for help and attention.
So where do I go from here? I need to decide how if any of these elements goes through to the final outcome and rolling them out. Otherwise I’ll keep the refined versions ready to show.