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I have written about my ideas and developments in response to the theme Citizen of Nowhere, but that was in the pretty early stages of development. Until then I have continued to photograph, continued to create collages, and even made a booklet that reinforces the theme behind the artwork.

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Prints from the series Concrete Landscapes

Along with the images in the above photo, I have gathered more work which has been discussed in some of my previous blogs to add to the collection in my booklet. Below is the series entitles Nowhere Snaps, which has also been subject of a previous blog post.

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From the series entitled Nowhere Snaps

Considering my new affair with photography, I am very pleased with the results. One thing I have also learnt is that if you think a photograph you took looks nice, then you should probably print it – a good quality print of an image can make you like it that much more.

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Handmade packaging for photographic prints

I am so happy with the results of this project in particular, and having to print so many photographs has made me appreciate new things about photography, paper, and of course, prints!

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Citizen of Nowhere booklet, 2017

Want more? You can find the rest of my images on my website, or additionally, on my Instagram.

Making an Artist Portfolio

This year, I had a vision to create a certain kind of packaging for my work rather than printing a traditional portfolio booklet which, although appealing, would become redundant rather quickly as the quality and quantity of my work plans to increase.

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I drew inspiration from all sorts of non-portfolio stuff which opens up and creates a nice user experience, but perhaps the part most-fun was actually getting to make it myself!

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Originally designed in black, I decided to link the aesthetic of my website and portfolio together, with the exception of the grey background of the logo which was one solution to the many that occurred during printing; yet I believe that the white, grey and black create a nice harmony and contrast the colour within the content, which is supposed to stand out, after all 🙂

 

 

Installation Space

After submitting our student proposals for the curatorial plan of our exhibition in June,  our tutor has merged the best ideas together and come up with something he thinks would work best for our exhibition. We have received the plans yesterday, and I am so excited to be looking at a model of our space and my piece in relation to the space!

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For those of you who don’t follow, I have previously blogged about the practical work linked to my thesis which I will be exhibiting as an installation piece occupying the room in these images. I won’t repeat the details, but it involves certain still and moving images.

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The space allocated to my piece was originally shorter, but I was worried about a certain element which might not work well with a lack of space, and lucky for me there was plenty of it to spare in that particular area.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to this exhibition after all the hard work that has gone and continues to go into it.

Break of Colour

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Untitled (people of colour), 2017, oil on canvas.

I have found myself taking painting breaks by starting other paintings. The image above is a detail from one of these painting-break paintings, and was executed in relation to the theme I have been blogging about: Citizen of Nowhere. This time, the idea is very simple; I began to search for portraits of individuals from different races on the web, looking to paint them in colourful hues so as to disguise their nationality by interpreting their skin colour. This way, they became my ‘people of colour’.

Although it might look like watercolour was used to create the painting, it was actually highly diluted oil paint. This is due to no particular reason other than having my oil paints handy (I was on break from an oil painting, after-all), but I enjoy the effect, and look forward to more experimentation in the future.

 

Blog of My Life

As my undergraduate life builds up to its end, many people have been asking me what it is I would like to do now – what the big next goal is. Little do they know what they are getting themselves into by asking that seemingly simple question, and those who have suffered a long response might as well have charged me for a service by simply listening to me talk mostly to myself.

So may I present my answer as a blog for a few of many reasons: so that I can work more of it out before answering, so that I can make my answer agreeable to a socially acceptable word limit, and possibly so that I can direct those who ask to this link and spend less time talking about myself in general.

What I really want to do is take a break away from working under academic pressures, not because I believe in the need to relax and do nothing after what felt like an intense course, but because I have been working under these similar academic pressures for five years now, and would like to see how other kinds of pressures influence my practise differently. I have been taking my studies seriously enough to drop my hobbies and other relaxations, because I thought that if I would produce or do something, then it should be productive enough to at least benefit my academic practise. Yet I am very much the kind of person that feeds off my environment to a point where anything can be productive – I take the same eyes and the same mind with me to a walk in the park, until inspiration results from something I could have even seen at the supermarket. My mind does not ‘switch-off’ or separate one part of my lifestyle from my art, so the kind of break I would like is one that will allow me to be productive under different circumstances and limitations I have not had the liberty to experience as of yet in this new and current stage of my life.

Academia has taught me so much, and as nourishing an experience as it has been, I have still had to work again and again in response to similar criteria; what will my work look like after a shift in these criteria? I will have more time, money, and skill to produce art that I have not seen from this current version of myself as of yet. I want to know how I will react and produce art under different circumstances.

Secondly, I would like to revisit my hobbies. I have missed them so much, only because feeling guilty about doing something that does not feed into the productivity of course work is not the same as doing it freely; it is not as liberating, nor as successful.

I want to dedicate more time to people. I would like to make it up to all my friends and family who have had more than their fair share of inviting me to places or events I was too busy to attend. It has been hard for people to understand how much I have preoccupied myself during scholastic semesters, and why I would make that choice in the first place, but I will not forget those who have accepted it as something I felt the need to do.

I would like to get back into exercise, healthy eating, travelling, and other ways of helping my body and mind unwind as I appreciate my surroundings and the natural energy they give me. These have always been my ways of recollecting myself, and having to drop them during the busy and broke months have made me feel like a different version of myself, a less confident one.

This one ties into a previous point, but I also want to help people. When writing my dissertation, I have emailed a number of artists asking them if I could kindly take up some of their time with an interview. They have been so willing and so nice to me. I have even had the pleasure of corresponding with a few over a number of emails in which we got to know more about each other and our musings on art and life. These things have made me happy, and I would like to give the time and help to other people who can benefit from what I have learnt so far.

I want to read most of the books I have shelved for later, and I want my mind to be preoccupied with new and different subjects. I also want to have the time to produce work I will hate and rip apart, and the time to run errands for those who have endlessly supported me through my studies. I want to have the time to create work I can give to people (to those who have asked and still wait for a piece of work – I haven’t forgotten you!).

To sum up, I would like to produce more work, continue to improve myself, make some money, produce some more work, be more available for others, feel less stressed and even have some time to feel a little bit bored, get to know more of myself and do this all within a year before taking up a masters. One thing I have learnt from my course which stands out is how to make a lot happen in a short amount of time. A year could be a good amount of time.

An Idea to the Test

On the 10th of May, I rented the necessary equipment and had the university studio booked for a test-run of the multi-media installation linked to my practical thesis. For this experiment, I invited several participants to come and experience the installation, playing close attention to and documenting what they spent most time viewing.

To give you an idea, the final installation involves three phases; the first phase features a painting mounted on a wall and surrounded by semi-hidden cameras (look at my previous blog to get an idea of the painting), the second involves a four-monitor display set up in a separate (yet connected) space, and the last phase is a projection of moving image on the wall.

For yesterday’s purpose, the experiment was a small-scale version of the final installation that I have proposed for my thesis, involving roughly half the amount of equipment and an unfinished painting.

Using windows as a metaphor to explain the external positioning imparted upon viewers when looking at an image as an abstraction from a whole entity, along with the tacit form of knowledge discussed in my thesis which contains an analysis of the still and moving image, I have designed an installation that placed its viewer as the subject; catching them completely off guard by sectioning each phase of the installation separately from the others. In this way, the viewers did not see what was coming, and how they were to form part of the work.

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What they first saw was a painting. The painting was of a woman standing behind a half closed window, as though she is about to open or draw the curtains.

Installatio-run-monitorsMonitor display: at this point, due to some technical problems, two of the 
feeds were put down, leaving the two monitors to display the same feeds. 
This did not alter the effect of the small-scale test run.

Whilst the viewers were looking at the painting, the four semi-hidden cameras recorded them as they observed. These cameras sent the feed directly onto two display monitors which were set up in a small room. This section comprised the second phase of the installation – or at least, a test-run of the installation. The monitors did not simply display the live feed as it were, but rather – with the help of a software, incorporated a different amount of delay within each of the four feeds. This delay allowed the viewers to observe themselves observing a painting. I wanted them to distinguish between the physical involvement of experiencing something (in this case a painting), and an extraction of that real experience through a camera. At a later stage, the viewers were presented with a wall projection that featured the live feeds imposed into the windows of a house, as though they were looking at segments of their own experience through the eyes of another person by looking through the windows of a house they had never stepped foot in.

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I could write more and more on the analysis of my piece, but I made a promise to keep this shorter than my academic writings. I do hope to release more information soon, so as per usual – stay tuned!

Sadly, the quality of the images are not great. There was too much excitement within me to attend to my picture-taking skills. One thing I should mention is that due to the available space I was working with, the actual projection of the moving image was weak because of the light that entered the studio. Once I noticed how hard it was for my viewers to make out what was going on, I began asking them to look at the laptop screen in order to improvise with the given situation.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoy my blogs, you can subscribe here or follow me on Instagram to keep up-to-date with my latest projects. I am happy to announce that my official website is currently undergoing some final touches and will be launched very soon! Stay tuned for more information.

Joanna

 

Working in Relation to the theme Citizen of Nowhere

In relation to a project theme titled Citizen of Nowhere, which was assigned to all the 2017 BA students, I have created a body of work in a number of different mediums which I have been encouraged to share. Most of the work is (and looks) experimental, but through this exploration I have also been working towards a main series in photography.

It felt natural for me to deal with the theme Citizen of Nowhere from an ‘identity in conjunction with place’ perspective. Almost everybody gains a sense of their identity from the nation they come from, or one they live in; yet on a more intimate level, a good part of one’s personal identity is tied to the household.

There is a reason why people say that home is where the heart is. It is where most come from and return to every day, where many of us store memories and all our personal belongings, and it is also the very foundation of our families.

When citizens are sentenced to prison, the first thing they must give up is their home. Our home plays a big role in the ideas we form of ourselves and reinforces that idea through our lifestyles. So in response to this theme, I have chosen to think of those who have had to constantly resettle in different places against their will – the people who never really settle.

For my main series, I have been documenting construction sites through the medium of photography, paying attention to details that reveal fragments of a two-dimensional plan of the house that once stood there, as well as details which suggest certain characteristics about those who have inhabited the house. The characters that have touched the walls in my photographs have most likely not had to flee from their homes forcefully, but what I am interested in is documenting the way people leave a part of themselves behind in each home – whether through the colours they chose to paint the rooms they spent a lot of their time in, or the wallpaper that reveals their taste, or the tiles that show where they used to bathe.

As I have not completed the final series as of yet, I will show the photos at a later stage, but here are some experimental collages the concept has inspired.

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Mixed media collage
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Mixed media collage

Citizen of Nowhere, Olklahoma.

At the beginning of the scholastic semester in February, we were assigned a unit that came with a theme called Citizen of Nowhere. As always, it is up to each individual to interpret the theme as they wish, yet the notion of citizenship is inevitably laced with political undertone. Our lecturer explained, as you may have guessed, that the theme originated from Teresa May’s skepticism about world citizenship, claiming that those who believe themselves to be world citizens are citizens of nowhere.

This word ‘nowhere’ resonated within me, until I was reminded of an earlier project proposal I had worked on, titled The Strictly Human World (2016), in which I had put emphasis on public signs that untraditionally conveyed ambiguous information about where the reader was located. Perhaps the link is not clear without more of an overview about my previous project proposal, but it all made sense to me, and so I began brainstorming by deconstructing the word ‘nowhere’ with the idea that it must be a place on earth.

To my surprise, I found that Nowhere is actually a place in the United States of America, Oklahoma, located at the south-east end of Fort Cobb Reservoir. After finding that Nowhere can be located on a world map, I took to Google Maps to take a closer look at this piece of land and photographed it from my keyboard. This method of photographic a piece of land I have never stepped foot in has raised questions about what kind of photography it can classify as; although the digital photo has been taken through the very device that exposed it whilst the photographer was remote from the subject, there was an undeniable choice of framing – of, for example, one piece of land over another – how much zoom, and definitely an intention that drove a pair of hands to capture at the exact moment they did.

Whilst photographing this piece of land and being not quite ready to overcome the excitement of finding a place called Nowhere in the world, I kept thinking – in response to Teresa May’s statement – that those who believe they belong nowhere, belong somewhere after-all.

 

What is an Artist?: Searching for Answers

Today’s blog is a collection of musings on what it really means to be an artist to some people. I have been hearing many talented individuals – most certainly considered artists by other individuals – say that they do not think of themselves as artist, and this made me wonder whether I could call myself an artist or not. What these responses show is that everyone’s opinion of what constitutes an artist tends to differ, and so it may very well be that some would classify me as an artist, whilst others would not.

Perhaps in the past, it was easy to categorize an artist as a creative individual who showed a promising amount of skill and good command over his/her subject, but nowadays there seems to be less of a clear distinction. There is no longer need for an individual to obtain good understanding over anatomy, or practice endless amounts of still-life drawings to grasp the nature of light and the way it interacts with objects in order to be considered an artist. Nowadays, an artist does not need to know how to draw, and is not required to put in the leg-work for the work he/she calls his own. So as unclear as some of us feel this definition has become, here are a few thoughts from my lecturers and other wonderful people I have had the pleasure of asking. Are there any ones you might agree, or disagree, with?

What is an artist?

 

Somebody that engages with the world on an artistic level, has an appreciation of aesthetics, either consciously or subconsciously, and chooses to use that to engage in expression.

– Darren Capp, Designer and musician

 

An artist brings new language to the table, the artist is a rebel; a divergent thinker who questions the very essence/system of things and happenings. An artist may be silent, his very thoughts and perspectives may shape change through action. An artist is overly aware, overwhelmed and subject to change as change is inevitable. An artist may soon be the only ‘occupation’ left for man, given the rise of autonomous robotics and AI.

– Kane Cali, 3D artist

 

For me an artist is someone who makes art; a creator, maker, thinker. What is art is not up to me to decide.

I’d like to think that anyone can be an artist, but I still don’t like calling those people who don’t fit my bill of an ‘artist’, artists. I think the question would be what qualifies them to be called artists, and whether that is something you are called or call yourself. There is also the issue of art; there has to be something called art, for there to be an artist.
I would consider someone an artist, when their work is thoughtful, when they’re work can be analysed, when there’s multiple layers of thought imbued with an artwork or a body of work. It would be art that tackles issues, provoke new outlooks, perspectives, or breathes new life into something. Aesthetics are important, but so is the thought, the fusion of the material with the immaterial intellectualism. The one who did it best was Duchamp (he started it all), and perhaps I hold his sentiments too.
Isaac Azzopardi, aspiring artist, historian, critic and writer

 

As much as I would love to call myself an artist, I would not even dare to do so. I find the title of an artist to be so prestigious. But unfortunately, I see this title being exploited and misused, to the point where one starts being skeptical when one meets persons who calls themselves artists. For example, in my main profession of graphic design, one finds quite a large number of people who, just because they have got their hands on Adobe Photoshop, then they feel that they qualify as graphic designers. In my opinion the same thing happens with artists. In Art unfortunately I see a lot of people who call themselves artists, when in reality they are only producing what I like to call “lazy art”. An artist has the power to convey a message to a large number of people using different Media. I always like to quote the example that if a person had to go in public and start talking on issues that concern them, or narrate stories that move them, then such individuals may be perceived as a nuisance to the public. But if the same message, or narrative is conveyed through the beautiful medium of art, then people are more likely to stop and listen, and maybe even relate. I see art as a powerful way of communication, a method of exploring one’s soul and express it through visual or sound. But I see too much alleged art that is nothing more than just marks on a canvas, with no motif whatsoever, and even worse, with no sense of skill. Skill: another important key element that an artist must carry, but so many self-proclaimed artists do not carry any.

For all I know it might be the kind of “art” that I just do not relate to, but for me, unless the artistic piece has a concept, or a message, or at least a technological, visual or audio experiment and experience, then I tend to wonder whether this is art, or just people trying to make money out of nothing: the kind of abstract drawings people get through mass production to fill the walls in buildings. I love art, I love art that is done well, that has skill, the kind that moves me emotionally. I love seeing the signature of an artist through his work, through the skills portrayed in the work, through the messages and narrative that the artist portrays, being able to interact, and almost have a conversation with the artist just by interacting with his work.

– Francantonio Domenico Cuschieri, Graphic Designer

 

Defining art is problematic so consequentially defining an artist is equally difficult. If pushed to define then I think that the best I could do is define the artist as a masterful creative decision taker.

– Dr. Martina Caruana, Art historian

 

I believe an artist is someone who gets excited by little things, is constantly looking to and wanting to explore the unexplored, to later feed into his/her need to create. I also believe the real artist manages to create work which in its very essence is humble and honest, making the work valid, valuable, worthy etc… I guess this discussion can be never ending.

– Carmen Aquilina, Visual artist

 

The difference between art and craft is the intent to tell a story. The difference between owning a camera and being a photographer, is the seriousness of the pursuit of the craft. The difference between a photographer and an artist using the medium of photography is the importance of the story rather than the technical execution.

– Edward Fielding, Photographer