Category: previous assessment examples

The Mobile Sanitorium: Manifesto

The Enlightening, Mystical, Tranformative Mobile Sanitorium, of which has become the name of our project, is a tour of Wollongong in relation to that of Pyschogeography.

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Psychogeography draws upon the Situationists’ theories and particularly those of Guy Debord. The beauty of Psychogeography is that it doesn’t have a 1000 page instruction booklet – many situationists claimed to be against ideology, so they were hardly specific about anything in particular. Psychogeography is defined by Guy Debord as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals”.

Following this definition of the concept, Psychogeography would look something like drifting around the environment – sometimes aimlessly, sometimes purposefully and always playfully, imbibing the fundamental laws, relationships and culture and then analysing, studying and thinking about these.

In our project we would act as informative tour guides that take participants to key locations that have undergone transformation by humans:

  • Tom Thumb’s Lagoon that has been transformed as an environment in several ways to be more amenable to human settlement.
  • The deconsecrated catholic cemetery that has been transformed into a beer garden outside the entertainment centre.

Our aim would be to provide participants with an alternate view of the human motivation for transformation of their immediate environment and at the very least, upset pre-existing sensibilities. We would use a model of tourism from a previous age that has difficulty being reconciled with current models of tourism and current ideas of environmental preservation, that can lead to hatred of human civilisation – 19th century tourism.

19th century tourists were known for their quest for the exotic, the healing powers of nature and also their graffiti and souveniring. For instance, at the Jenolan cave, tourists would take a stalactite home and sign their name on a 100 million year old limestone formation. We will feature a graffiti session in our tour that confusingly reconciles the idea of the foreign and unnatural nature of human graffiti with pre-existing ideas of the Natural.

Deeply interested in the reconnaissance expedition.
Deeply interested in the reconnaissance expedition.
Thought-provoking staring into thought-provoking distance.
Thought-provoking staring into thought-provoking distance.

We will use a bioactive paint formula that encourages white lichen to grow as an alternative to white paint. This was a well-known technique in 19th century times and examples from this period of lichen graffiti are as clear today as the day they were made. We would also have a refreshment session that will be exclusively alcoholic beverages. Sailors and bushwalkers were famous for maintaining the integrity of potable water stores during long trips by preserving water with alcohol content. This seems bizarre, but cider was long considered a very refreshing beverage. This also pays homage to the Situationists who were famously drunk.

Not for eating.
Not for eating.

Through our topographical research, our reconnaissance expeditions through the Wollongong CBD and surrounding areas, and our studies into the formulating of bioactive paint, we will devise a tour that will reflect that of the Situationists’ Pyschogeographical theories and values and create a relationship between the intersections of modern-day Wollongong and olden-day Wollongong.

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Plaque Reflection

Task 3 was a very insightful assessment that allowed me to experience multiple ‘happenings’, which i thoroughly enjoyed. For the task Logan and I became a team and it was interesting to work with someone else as we were able to build upon each others ideas, whilst also learning more about each other (double the social intersection right there!!). I found our plaque idea challenging at first as I wasnt confident it was strong enough for the assessment. However as we did a test run and Logan and I talked more and discussed with Nick, I begun to see that it actually was a strong idea that needed heavy concentration on the execution of the plaques for it to be successful. I think the plaques were done to the best of our ability considering the time and materials available to us (since we couldnt afford a leg and an arm to create metal plaques and get them engraved on). The paint stroke lines portrayed the natural metal streaks that are in real plaques and the 3D paint in the corners actually did look like nails from afar.

As previously mentioned putting up the plaques gave us an adrenaline rush of doing something mildly ‘illegal’, which reminded me of Melanie’s last project with her paste ups. Her project was really cool and it would be interesting to see if that were still there, as it would be to see if our plaques were still there in a week or too. This graffiti idea also reminded me of the lecture where we had guest speaker Bianca Hester and the discussion sparked the mentioning of Tony Spanos and his Graffiti murals around Sydney. It was exciting to feel a little part of the massive rush Spanos would feel when creating his works.

What I really loved about this task was that I have taken a different approach to every assignment. For the first one (walking backwards) I took a very ‘build as you go’ approach by testing, re-evaluating and testing again, further developing my idea/limits. For the second one (Sense walk) I took a very iterative approach by creating a set of rules that were repeated. For the second task my inspiration was from Janet Cardiff’s Bathroom Stories 1991, which is interesting as it is completely opposite to my task 3. Cardiff generated an audio piece that told a story and instructed others to complete things or notice things. The plaques had a very different system as they were simply placed on objects and whether they were noticed or not did not affect the outcome of the assessment. At the beginning of the task we stated we wanted to interfere with people and make the plaques get in the way. But I personally think the most interesting reaction was how people would notice them and read them and then just continue on with their day without so much as a confused reaction. It was almost as if the plaques became a natural part of society.

Looking back over my previous tasks, I found two quotes that I used that I think are truly relevant to all my projects and the subject itself:
“…it is in everyday life and starting from everyday life that genuine creations are achieved” (Lefebure, H 2008, p.31)
I think a true social intersection or happening can best be achieved through the everyday life. I think the most honest reactions and most interesting work comes from those who begin with the everyday life and everyday objects. What is more real than that. The plaques ended up becoming part of the natural scenery and society just automatically began to accept their placement. They would admired and appreciate the plaque and then continue on with their lives. I think Wollongong appreciated the plaques as there are numerous art pieces around such as the painted electrical cabinets, mosaic pedestrian poles, painted building walls, which brings to mind the famous saying ‘Art for art’s sake’. The plaques were not only a true social intersection but also became an artwork in themselves.

The quote I read in Johnstone’s The Everyday: “The ordinary event leads to the beauty and understanding of the world” (Ruppersberg, A 2008, p.54).
I really like this quote and I love that something with such simplicity (such as a fake plaque) can make society appreciate the world, environment, art and the natural behaviour of each other. The simple placement of our plaques created a sense of beauty to an object that was otherwise boring. I loved that the plaques had the ability to bring awareness to something that is part of the everyday that we don’t normally notice. In the wise words of Rob, the plaques “immediately make a boring space more interesting because of the benality that its on a piece of paper there”. It is a true observation that I was happy to encounter as the plaques generated conversation of the beauty that it can bring out in something.

If we were ever to complete this task again I do think some improvements could have been made. The plaque text could have been more witty but then again I think we did the best between us. I think I would have also liked to sit or be near each plaque for a certain period of time to observe the reactions more closely rather than just the few encounters we did have. I also think we should have considered the weather aspect as it did damaged, not so much the plaques, but the stickyness of the blu-tack and double sided tape. Which is not entirely a bad thing as its instability became part of the work itself.

Overall the task went really well, it generated responses that I didnt imagine it would and I loved how it made something boring more interesting, bringing out the beauty in something ordinary.

It is extremely sad the subject is now finished! 🙁

It’s a plaque day

So today (Tuesday 18th) was the big day!

Logan and I met up before we had to present and placed all the plaques in there appropriate positions. As Logan stated it gave us a little adrenaline rush as we felt sticking the plaques up was a mild form of graffiti, similar to Melanie’s last project. We wanted to stick it up as quickly as possible so it wasn’t obvious who we were or where the plaques where coming from. A lot of strange looks occurred and the odd swearing from and older tradie looking man (its true, im not being stereotypical haha). I did like that the plaques did draw some attention, people did notice them and were reading them. Below are the images in their final positions:

Telstra Hub
Telstra Hub
Parking Meter
Parking Meter
Bench
Bench
Bin
Bin
Noticeboard
Noticeboard
Telstra Phone Booth
Telstra Phone Booth
Camera Pole (zoomed out)
Camera Pole (zoomed out)
Camera Pole
Camera Pole
Tree
Tree
Rock that had a missing plaque
Rock that had a missing plaque
Skate park
Skate park
Pedestrian buzzer
Pedestrian buzzer
Bus bay
Bus bay
Empty space
Empty space
Water bottle
Water bottle
Construction
Construction

I think the walk went really well. It was interesting to walk back and see how some were taken, some were completely gone, others had fallen down and the others were still perfectly in place. Logan lead everyone on the path of our project but neither of us pointed or looked at the plaques and just waited to see if the others picked up on them. I was at the back of the group and I honestly loved watching everyone’s reaction when seeing the plaque. I loved that the plaque actually made people stop and read it or made them laugh or made them take photos of it. And of course my favourite was when people began to observe and generate opinions one them (such as the ever wise Rob). Below is a few images of peoples reactions:

Beginning the walk
Beginning the walk
Chris examining the empty space
Chris examining the empty space
Stolen pedestrian buzzer plaque
Stolen pedestrian buzzer plaque
Yione taking a photo of the skate park plaque
Yione taking a photo of the skate park plaque
Chris taking a photo of camera pole plaque
Chris taking a photo of camera pole plaque

Group observing the bench plaque


Overall I think the project went really well and I shall reflect more, in depth, in my final reflection post!

the after thoughts of task 3

Putting up the plaques gave us the feeling that we where doing something wrong, sure we only used blutack and double sided tape, but there was still that little rush of doing something we shouldn’t have done, just because it’s written down somewhere. there where a few times when we put them up and as Alanna was taking a photo if a plaque in position there where some stares and some muttered comments, we even had a “get fucked” after one guy read the construction plaque.

if i where to do this project again the main thing i would give my self is resources and time.  as the plaques where supposed to get in peoples faces and get their point across, unlike the average plaque does, it would have been really good to have a much higher concentration of plaque in the area (not a dentist joke).

and if we could have had the plaques made out of metal, not card board. it would have been much more effective, the aesthetic we wanted would have been there and this would have made them much more definable in the plaque category of ‘serious plaque’ and if the plaques where metal the horrible weather would not have been an issue, our cardboard warped and blew and the water weakened some of our fixings , a real bummer!   visual and audio surveillance on each plaque would be good to have as well, just to have that library of reactions, and i would have liked to see who took a few of them as souvenirs, or if in fact they where taken for that purpose. the final thing i would change is to have a bit more wit and fun with the plaques text content, but as it was a group project we had to compromise (not saying it was a bad thing)

aside from this, the plaques where still visually effective and positioned well and initiated the desired response (either completely ignored, or taken or inspected) that was the point of the exercise, to see how many people pay attention to plaques and what level of attention they give them.

The Zimmer Reflection

Apart from the opportunity to develop my walking project, the presentation today provided me with an afterthought. In the delivery which was a video it highlighted the effect the media can have on a subject and the influence it can have on the general mass. The suggestion of Oprah was raised after the video in the sense that she can take a subject that may be trivial or miniscule and transform it into a front page media coverage of popular social interest. An example would be on the Oprah Winfrey show where she made a trivial comment on beef being tainted, and then all of a suddenly it made the national news and the beef industry was taking her to court. (PBS News Story January 1998)

As a side note, on further research from today’s class I can report that “Zimmer frame” is indeed an everyday trademark from Zimmer Holdings, a company that actually produces walking aids.

The fact that this artwork created discussion afterwards is an excellent example of artwork generating discussion within a group. It is with this foundation today that I feel the project successfully demonstrated  socially engaged art.

Below is the video that was presented in class with a small sample of photos from the project: