I shot some more footage of nature, which I feel has turned out a lot better than the first. In terms of quality I am a lot happier with the work, but also the way that each clips feeds into the next. The content is quite peaceful, with each plant swaying gently in the wind. It is not until it reaches the thorns that this become ever so slightly more unsettling, the music coming to a pause before beginning again as well as the literal visuals of the thorns. Although I am not entirely happy with the final clip where I am introduced into the video as I feel they could be more professional, I feel that short bursts of the self portraiture work mixed with the nature shots work well as it hints at what is about to come.
The music used isn’t my own (Keaton Henson – Alright), however this is something similar to what I want to produce. I will also have speech over the top which I have previously spoke about, and hope to have this applied within the video at the my next mock up. My next steps is to carry on with shooting more of the self portraiture work as well as working on what I want to say within the video, which I feel will shape the visuals further.
One of the key factors I got from watching Front Row Late – in which they discussed anxiety within art and literature, was who do artists and writers create their work for. And more importantly what does the audience get from the work. I found that something that was often repeated throughout the discussed was how it gives those struggling from mental health a way in, if they feel the can’t talk or discuss it with those around them. This is important message within my work as I want people to be able to relate to it.
Within the programme they spoke with Matt Haig who wrote Reasons to Stay Alive in 2015. What I found most interesting is when he was asked who wrote to book for – in which he replied it was his younger self. I have said through the MA course that the projects and work I create is personal to me and acts a form of therapy in helping me understand and manage my anxiety. He also claims that it was women who mostly purchased his book but often for somebody who they were concerned about. Another thing I found interesting was when he discussed the title of his book. He states that he knew he always wanted to call the book ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’, yet reflects on the fact that a lot of people would not want to walk into a book store and ask for a book with that title. I find it interesting that he proceeded to call it this, even though it may effect the sales. I have not yet named the title of my project, but after hearing what Haig says about his, I will reflect on my own title more. I am debating if I would name the project something shocking that will draw people in or something a bit more open, that doesn’t straight away make people realise the project is about mental health. Since watching the programme I have purchased the book myself, and will do a blog post about it once I have finished reading it.
Something that I have not researched properly into but is something that I now intend to do more of since watching the show, is looking at how anxiety and mental health has been portrayed I art throughout history, not just in a contemporary context. Within the programme they discussed The Scream by Edvard Munch and how it has stayed so relevant to this day. One of the most important statements for me came from Scarlett Curtis who said ‘He is really is expressing the invisible in something visible and also vaguely personified’. She goes onto say how what many artists try to do is to visually represent things that cannot be seen. Shahidha Bari talks about how the landscape within the painting is just as important as the man himself and how the background being distorted represents the world screaming and not only a singular person. It made me question my role as an artist and how I represent my own personal issues with mental health and the responsibility that comes with doing that. They went onto to discuss contemporary art which discusses mental health and how it can be guilty of forcing an idea onto its audiences. This is something that I am cautious of throughout my work and is why I want the video I produce to not initially talk about mental health issues directly, but in a more subconscious way.
I have begun researching more into fashion campaigns, and how they use cinematography to address their message.
The Chanel 2018 Fashion campaign was especially interesting to me because of the similarities between their campaign and the video I want to produce. The video starts with short clips of nature as I intend mine to, and then slowly introduced the fashion element of the video. First of all you see only a hand, where as in my video I want to focus on the dress being dragged across water. It then moves on to close up of the eye, still not showing a full body shot of the model. When the subject is eventually shown, the landscape around them is a major part of the shot, and is arguably more important. The link between nature and the body has always been discussed through my work, and I want to continue to do this through self portraiture and the environment I choose to shoot within. The combination of black and white and colour footage is interesting to me, as I have always spoke about how I want to use colour to represent the emotion I am feeling. However when combining the two I feel that it portrays a message within itself, and you view the two pieces of footage completely differently even though they are portraying the same subject.
The music used within the video was also interesting to me, as it is subtle and doesn’t distract from the video. Although I want music within the background of my work, I also want speech over the top and therefore need to ensure that the work doesn’t become overcrowded.
Whilst at Midger woods, I decided to shoot more moving image focusing mostly on water. These videos will be put together and paired with the speech that I create.
I want to introduce the fashion element of the project subtly. Me walking across the water in the dress will flash up between other clips of nature, which will imply what is about to come. I will then show full body shots and then focus fully on the self portraiture element rather than nature.
The above photos experiment with the fashion side of my project. However, they do have a link to mental health and this is something that I considered when shooting the series. I wanted the black dress to symbolise the negativity surrounded with mental health, with the solitude surroundings further playing on this idea. However the location also adds a contrasting idea to the existing one. Suffering from social anxiety, I find myself being draw the locations like these as its where I find peace on my own. Theres a continuing theme of not showing my face which further plays on the idea of social anxiety.
I did intend to use smoke bombs within the picture, however they did not work when I came to use them. I would like to go back this location for a number of reasons. Not only would I ensure that I could use smoke bombs, but I would take a number of different outfits to see which one worked best. I would also like to do more portraits, playing with the make up and hair to create more interesting photos. The location (Midger Woods) is perfect for experimentation as not many people know it is there, meaning that hardly anybody will interrupt the photos. My next step is to consider what I feel went well with this shoot, and to continue to go back a number to reshoot until I am fully happy with the outcome of the images.
I have decided to defiantly continue with the idea of video. As I had many ideas which I did not know how to continue with, I decided to create a mind map with them all on so it was easier to visualise.
I will create a video based on social anxiety/mental health, however this will not be portrayed in an obvious way. Visually, I will continue to include images of nature. The close up with represent mental health issues, for example, a single nettle to represent loneliness. I will then do landscapes, which will once again play on the idea of loneliness but contrast with the images of the body I want to later include. I will create music on to play within the background that will be either piano or strings, which will be influence by musician Keaton Henson. The music will be paired with a speech that I write. The music will get more intense as the speech does. The speech will describe the feelings I have whilst suffering from social anxiety, but not in an obvious way. I like the idea of using time as theme throughout the work. When suffering from an anxiety attack it both starts and stops within a few minuets, however the feelings happen progress rapidly. One idea I have is to count down until the next feeling – for example: ‘In a few seconds I’ll loose grip of reality’. The countdown makes the viewer experience a real life time frame, as well as the work getting more and more intense and it progresses.
Although I want to carry on mostly with video, the idea of photo books still interests me. After doing some more research into them I found photographer Daniel Regan who produced a book on his own issues with mental illness. He once said in an interview with Art of creative photography that ‘The decision to produce Insula as a book was mostly informed by the way in which I wanted people to view these images. The photographs can be highly emotive and I think they’re bested viewed alone, over time, and having them within a book gives the viewer the time to watch the story of chaos unfold.’ The way in which he states that he believes the images are best viewed alone stood out for me. My work represents privates moments within my life and the idea of sharing this to a large audience such as in a gallery space for me doesn’t feel personal enough. I want the work to be personal for the viewer, as a well as me.
The photos above ‘Insula’ – the book he produced using images taken over a period of ten years. The layout of the book is especially interesting to me, switching between images covering the whole page to photographs paired with quotes as well a what looks like assessment forms. This combination makes the book all the more personal, showing the audience what it is really like to live with a mental health disorder. The images themselves combine both fine art with documentary which I found interesting as I had not really seen the two forms mixed within the same project before.
If I was to produce a book a long side my videos, the book would become more of a limited edition version of the work, allowing those who want to have a more personal experience with the project to do so.
I have multiple ideas that I am experimenting with at the current time such as video, fashion, collage etc.
To me, the work is starting to feel slightly random with no obvious outcome. When starting the project I discussed creating a photo book which is something I am still incredibly interested in. However, I also want to keep experimenting with the idea of video as I feel I am best able to represent mental illness through this media. I am struggling to think of ways to combine both video and photo books and therefore am thinking what will be the strongest concept.
At the moment I am leaning towards producing video, as like previously mentioned I feel that this best represents mental illness, and is so far my strongest concept. The idea of combining moving image with speech is something that has always appealed to me and the idea of video is something that I would like to experiment with whilst I have the chance to within a university setting.
As previously mentioned, I have used the combination of text and images before in my work and is something I am looking to use again. The idea of use spoken word in my videos is something that I am going to explore further. To combine this with photos – and continuing my interest in collage – I have decided to combine the two to see what kind of results I achieve.
I am looking to write my own poetry to go with the videos I produce, however for the moment and using ‘Broken in not beautiful’ which is a video I found on you tube that I wrote about before. This is similar to the type of audio that I am looking to produce myself.
I have overplayed the poem onto a self portrait image that I have been continuously experimenting with whilst looking into collage. Below are the results. I am really pleased with the outcome, as I feel that overlaying the text onto the image itself is a more creative way to display text than how I did in my previous module. It also represents the idea of consumption, literally consuming the image as well as looking like it is on my mind. Once again the covering of the eyes adds a vulnerability to the work as well as a lack of connection which perfectly demonstrates how I feel suffering from social anxiety.
I continued with the idea of collage as I felt there was something intriguing about it.
Having reflected on the work I produced within the first module, I found I was drawn to the image of the blindfold. At the time I wasn’t overly happy with the image itself and never used it within my final edit, however there was something about the concept that kept me interested. I found it interesting how I subconsciously never like to show my face within, or all of my face, within my work – even though the project is self portraiture. This is something that I wanted to look into further.
I decided to find older photo’s of myself that I had previously used for college projects etc. yet covered what arguably is the most important part of a portrait – the eyes. Having taken away a part of the image that previously was one of the main parts, I began to feel that I was saying something within the work that I felt was previously missing with my other images.
For me the work has an insecurity and venerability to it which is something that I want to continue to explore through my work. The idea of collage is something I have never experimented with before, yet actually am becoming incredibly interested in the technique involved.