I’ve finally gotten started making things to go into the boxes. I’m going to make the gifs first, because I’m worried about them the most time-wise. Here I’ve got the gifs for HERETICS and LUST.
For the HERETICS level of hell, Dante and Virgil come across fiery graves that the heretics emerge from and tell them their stories. When I looked up past depictions of this scene they seemed more like crypts that graves, and I decided to show them how I imagine classic gothic graves. I’ve also just included hands because I wanted to have the feeling of hidden things emerging through all of the images. Also the white hands reaching upwards out of the dirt are meant to symbolise the Superego reaching to overcome the Id. For me, hands, feet, and heads are of the superego, and the body is of the Id, because hands and feet and mind are a kind of symbol of our intelligence and separation from animal, whereas the rest of us holds the heart and stomach and reproductive organs that operate on the level of the subconscious.
You wouldn’t think that the second one would symbolise LUST, but I thought about how I wanted to portray it, and I decided on this. I hate that lust is always represented by a seductive woman all in red, why not a lecherous old man? And I didn’t want to represent the act of lust anyway, I wanted to represent the punishment that would fit it according to Dante. Dante describes for this level of hell, a hurricane of souls, and that is what I’ve tried to show. I think a hurricane of souls well represents the feeling of lust, as consciousness is swept aside for the desire of the Id.
These are the boxes midway through completion. I was only focused on 3, and tried to make them as thought out as possible.
I spent a long time making the boxes themselves, modelling and firing the porcelain feet and hands, figuring out how to do the water (it’s clear silicone) and soldering lights into the scenes.
I did my Viva presentation, and the tutors were less than impressed with the boxes. They said that the models weren’t good enough quality to exhibit on their own, and that them being physically there meant that people would scrutinise the craftsmanship. They also said that I should include animations, because it’s my strongest work.
I definitely get where they’re coming from, but at the same time, it’s going to mean a lot of extra work, and completely starting again, rethinking everything.
I am also unsure at the moment, how to show 9 gifs in a way that reflects the message of the narrative, and also is do-able with the materials and technology I have.
So this week has been pretty dedicated to doing the porcelain and paper mache, I’ve also made a little boat for dante and virgil to stand in. It all seems like it’s going well so far, however, for some reason my porcelain didn’t get fired on Monday, so they’ll all just have to be in the same one next Monday. I’m struggling with ideas about how to make the backgrounds see through.
This is the boat, all painted up with watercolours, and also a box of lights and wires that my parents sent me. They’ve been explaining how I should wire all my LEDs and all about resisters and batteries and soldering.
They also made me this handy diagram!
So this week the process has started. I had 9 weeks as of today to build 9 boxes with working lights. I’ve spent the morning planning out exactly what I’m going to do each day (then Amelia came in immediately afterwards and told us about several all day workshops we have).
It shouldn’t be too much of problem, because I’m left a whole week for catching up on anything I’ve missed. And I’ve realised I’ve left a lot of time for paper macheing when I only have two boxes that really need it.
But then again, some things might take ages when I think they might only need a day (I’m looking at you lights and wiring). I don’t think it’ll be a disaster if I don’t get it all done in the time I’ve planned. I’ve only given myself 3 weeks to do 4 boxes. Then I want the next week to be making the next 5 wooden boxes. And then I’ll have 5 weeks to make the last 5 interiors. I’m pretty confident in my time scale at the moment. I’ll figure out the schedule and deadlines for the next five boxes when I’m little less bogged down with these. I think they’ll be fine too though, because I am going to be doing the time consuming things, like the porcelain and the wood at the same time I’m doing the things for the current boxes.
FYI, I’m making boxes 2, 4, 6, and 8 now and 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 later. Chosen to do it this way round, because at least then I’ll have a range of scenes rather than a chunk.
This is the first layer of paper mache on Box 6. I’m doing it in paper mache rather than my usual expanding foam because I think it’ll be easier to cut out sections to fit wires into and under. I’m happy with how it’s looking at the moment, although I think it will look a lot better with a few more layers! Hopefully will do that later this afternoon and tomorrow.
We had a trip yesterday to Bath to see Grayson Perry’s tapestries at the Victoria Art Gallery. They were really very impressive, and actually very funny. Me and Ross discovered they all had a little symbol of an anchor with W above it, hidden within them, which we had a lot of fun finding.
I think this trip happened at just the right time for me. I was really struggling with how I wanted my work to look, and how I wanted to speak, and just by seeing an actual exhibition, it gave me a little more confidence.
I also found a painting in the main gallery that was really relevant
Psyche Crossing the Styx (1925) John Armstrong
This has given me a little confidence boost as well, that there is a little backing up my project!
This was my plan for how I wanted the box to look. I drew a neat image instead of the usual scruffy sketch, so that Nigel from wood work could help me cut the wood, and actually understand what I was talking about!
I also sketched out plans of all the individual pieces I needed, and the dimensions and all bits that are cut for the half lap joints. (Excuse the strand of hair that fell into the frame when I was taking the picture)
And this is the finished box! I couldn’t take any photos while I was making it because the camera on my phone is broken, but I can promise I did everything apart from the cutting! Even the drilling and nailing, I was very proud of myself. It says Ross on the bottom because Ross ordered it the wood on the phone for me, so when it came it had his name on it.
And these are my wonderful cams! One of them is unfortunately too big (because I fucked up the box, and didn’t leave quite enough room in the bottom), but I think the rest of them will be fine. I’ll fix the other one next week I think
I spent a long time thinking about these animals. About how they looked last time, what I wished I had dome differently, what they were supposed to represent, and lastly, how I was going to make them movable. Firstly, they are supposed to represent violence, hunger and lust, and last time I didn’t think they really worked as that. So this time, I tried to make the leopard more flesh toned, and the tail is going to be waving around in a kind of slinky way hopefully. I made the tail more movable by making it out of sections of plasticine on a thread. This seemed to work really well.
Last time, I thought that the lioness should have some scars on her to make her look like she’d been in fights, seeings as she represents violence. I also made her front paw movable so that she could claw at things.
I’ve changed the wolf the most. It no longer has fur on, because I think it makes them all look a bit more uniform. I also made it skinnier, and the jaw able to move, as the mouth is associated with hunger obviously. It seemed like the right thing to move to represent hunger. Let’s hope this works!
When I think about how my work is encountered, I’m unsure about how I imagine it. I’m not sure if, for my degree show I want to just have some gifs playing on a loop. I want it to be a bit more than that. I think that it needs to be more visceral, especially seeing as I choose to make my illustrations 3D and textured for that exact reason.
I had the idea to put my scenes into boxes that people can peer into. I also like the idea of having the top levels of hell/consciousness be high up, so you have to climb a ladder, or go on tiptoes to see into it, and the bottom layer being on the floor so you have to crawl on your tummy to see in. I’m reminded of that bit in As Above so Below where the entrance to hell said “And they shall be made to crawl on their bellies to enter the kingdom of darkness”. I think it’s referencing the part of the Bible where God curses the serpent to crawl on it’s belly.
But how to organise the boxes?
I thought about these lay outs, but I realised if I wanted the boxes to be any bigger than 30cm tall, the whole structure would be in excess of 8 ft tall, which I think might be a bit silly, also a bit dodgy safety wise…
This was my final design before I realised the height issue! I’ve since decided that all the levels are going to be the same size, because of time and logistics, and price of wood. I’m just going to make nine boxes the same size, and think about how to display them later. I think at the moment just shelves at different levels, or plinths around in a circle.
I’m imagining something like the piece of work Scenes for a Future History of Ornament 2015 by Phoebe Cummings. It was in the Fragile? exhibition in The National Museum Cardiff. There were loads of cardboard boxes with clay sculptures inside.
You’ll also notice that I have colours next to each layer of hell/subconscious, and this is because I want to have the colours bleeding into each other so that it is like a cohesive journey.