My initial approach for my FMP came from the previous project 'Alternative Miss World' where I was trying to define what my work was, if it was sculpture, costume or wearable sculpture. I think this struggle reflected Alternative Miss World well as its hard to label and box what it is. I found the blurred middle ground of transformation interested because it’s hard to define. I wanted to relate this to the materials I used that were also in a state of 'transformation', we previously had a few weeks working with plaster casting and I liked the idea that it changed from powder to liquid to solid which made it unpredictable and hard to control. This is where I found that the process became very important to let the materials work freely with little control to create an unpredictable outcome, during the 'transformation' stage relating to many things like nature and human beings it can go many different ways it all depends on the variables.
I started my research into how changing variables such as our environment can transform the way we act and bring out traits of our personalities. This lead me onto proxemics where I read up on text such as Edward T Halls 'Proxemic Theory' to help give me a better understanding, it gave me an awareness of my own behavior and this definitely made it a more personal project for me as I started feeding off of things that make me feel uncomfortable and invade my personal space. I researched ways we try to hide these feelings such as simulated micro expressions. From this I started sketching sculptures that would cover certain parts of our face and body language; I took references from Charles Ray and Marina Abramovic who placed naked models on either side of a doorway forcing viewers to walk through closely to them. I also did quick experiments using props I made similar to Jennifer Crupi’s ‘Guarded Gestures’ which forced the wearer into different body language poses.
I got the idea to cast the body portraying certain body language and to then carry on recasting the same cast till the message has been distorted and abstracted. This evolution of the original body shape transformed it into another human like form still partially recognizable. This lead me onto Bart Hess and Lucy McCrae’s work who use cheap materials to evolve the human shape as if we were to be affected by our new lifestyles and the influence of technology. From this I wanted to use partially recognizable textures and colours relating to skin but then alternative shape and form. I made short videos that involved movement and sound with materials that altered the surface of the skin. They showed the temporary phases of transformation that can only be caught in an instant or a live performance which made me try Erwin Wurms 1 Minute Sculptures. This made me very aware of materials and the cosmetic side of transforming. I researched areas like body modification and fashion trends that are taken to extremes, I wanted to poke fun at these extreme ideas of beauty. I worked with unappealing materials like latex and expander foam that referenced things like hair gel and fishnet tights, I contrasted this with colours that appeal to your senses such as food.
Since my initial idea and group discussions I think I’ve returned to my basic ideas but with a stronger understanding and knowledge to back up my work. I’m glad I went quite far into my research and worked laterally to then bring it back in again once I had a broader knowledge, I feel it’s strengthened my work and my planning skills. I could have gone further with my materials and done some more work with video installation but I just see this as an area I want to move into in future. I could of moved away from plaster but as soon as I started to use colour it opened up a new area and made me want to stay with it and explore it fully. Because I wanted to work with instinct and unpredictability with materials this meant it was hard to plan until I had a stronger idea on my final piece.
When I moved more into casting the body I picked up on historical practices as casting is a very old technique. Not only the technique but the poses the body was in, I wanted to take an opposite view on classic poses for casts/statues that are usually strong and show power. Throughout this project I covered a lot of areas that I was interested in such as performance and video installation, this project definitely gave me the chance to explore these, although I didn’t fully pursue these ideas I want to carry them on within my studies at university. Because I took such a broad view at the beginning of my project, this helped me get a better knowledge base to plan further research and areas for exploration. Throughout the project I did constant evaluations and updates on my ideas using my blog and also my reflective practice book which really helped. We also had informal group critiques most lessons which helped give me another perspective from someone who works with another material to give me a more rounded view.