Unit X Overview
Unit X Overview
I began unit x with a proposal of making an ambitious series of five books each book concentrating on each of the five senses and coupling text of peoples memories that are triggered by the senses with a texture smell image taste or sound. I began by sending out messages on social media telling my friends and family to ask people to send me a memory triggered by the senses and I got a healthy response with people sending emails and face book messages full of wonderful memories triggered by all sorts of everyday things. When I began researching into this idea it became apparent that in the short time of this project five books was not feasible and so began ruling out what I though was unachievable. I was really interested in playing around with scents but after watching a documentary on the bbc called Perfume Bottling the Memory – BBC Four 2011 I found that perfume making is an art in itself and a very particular art. A school in Paris nick named the school for noses only takes a maximum of six students per year but sometimes takes none. In this school they study scent having to remember hundreds of raw scents and what combinations they can mixed in and what group of scents they belong to. In the documentary was a perfume artist called Christopher Brosius who has a shop in NYC where he sells an eclectic mix of scents including roast beef and ink. He makes perfumes that are everyday smells that remind us of a certain time or place he says that he hates how Americans want perfume to cover up how humans smell the musky unwashed body. To make a perfume of a particular scent takes months and many experiments and mixing of random scents to try and create a new blend. A lot of the memories I had received were very abstract for example the smell of a green house on a summers day which I felt I could not do justice.
For memories triggered by certain textures I began sourcing different materials from the memories I was working with and started to play around with them. The textures didn’t work as I would have liked it was messy and there was no fluid feel from one to the next, it was also quite garish and reminded me of a child’s interactive book with different textures and surfaces to explore which is not what I was aiming for.
I did not want to work with taste as it is a very particular thing and every one person has different dietary requirements and taste buds and sound was also something I didn’t have much interest in working with so I decided to concentrate solely on sight and working towards visual representations of the memories.
I began to experiment with letter press in the first week of the Easter holiday, I scoured the fonts available and settled with the type face Baskerville it is quite a traditional straight forward looking font it is also quite close to the font used for news paper print so I felt it would look effective. I began doing prints in a variety of different font sizes on A5 paper as I wanted my book to be A5 on the A5 page smaller text felt a little lost and by placing an image behind made it clear that a smaller font would be fighting for attention. I began using 30 pt and felt that this size made the text feel as important as the image so neither was more in focus than the other. I experimented on different colour papers and different types of card but found that printing on tracing paper had a really nice effect. The tracing paper did not absorb the ink as quickly as paper so I was a lot messier but I quite liked the imperfections of the prints it made them more obviously hand printed. It also gave the memories a hazy ghostly feel and added the same effect to the image laid behind it. It was a really nice effect to have the text and image on separate pages so you are able to see them each as their own piece but then also as one. I used the letterpress to print all of the memories to be used in the book and printed around thirty different pieces of text and printed each a number of times.
Once I had a decent amount of text I began to plan my visual interpretations of the images. I am very fond of Christian Boltanski’s work especially his series of Photographs titled favorite objects in which participants favorite objects are photographed simply on white backgrounds in black and white. I find the images really powerful as I am interested in narrative and memory and by photographing this objects singularly with out the owner and the context they belong in you are left to imagine who they belong to where they are from and how much the owner loved them. This is something I wanted to achieve through my images so decided to photograph objects I had collected in the day light studio on the plain white product table. I photographed as many objects as I could in the studio but a few of the memories contain narratives and objects that could not be brought into the studio. In the studio I used the main lighting and soft box lighting to brighten my images and photographed the objects portrait to be used in my book. I then worked with a few more abstract images of trees and clouds to fit the memories I had been given I was fond of the images but worried that together the images would look like a disjointed combination of photographs taken in a number of locations. In a tutorial it was suggested that maybe all of the images should be more abstract but I was happy with the photographs of the objects and felt that they were as open to interpretation as an abstract image as they are photographed out of context on just a plain white back ground and it gives a small stimulus for the reader to imagine the scene being described in the memory. To over come the disconnect of the images I decided to print them using the risograph, I felt that the images being printed in a singular colour would give them uniformity no matter what the image. I ended up with twenty-four images that I was happy to print and use in my book so made up six A3 Photoshop documents with four A5 images on each. I began printing first with black ink on to scrap A3 paper, the first few prints when the master copy is made it doesn’t always print clearly, I then printed onto thick cartridge paper and did four copies of each master copy and then repeated the process in flat gold. As I had laid out the images on a Photoshop document before hand it was easy to cut them on the large guillotine into singular prints. When I started to lay the images behind the text on tracing paper I found that some images worked better in black and others in flat gold and that the colours actually worked nicely together so I decided to use a mixture of both colours in the book to use the best possible print of each image.
When I had decided which print I as going to use for each image I arranged them in an order that I felt worked well with the mages and text to get a nice mixture of the different sensory memories and of sad, happy and funny memories. When they were in an order I was happy with I glued them in the book binding workshop and added scrim to cover the bind. I then used natural colour plan for the front and back page of the book as it was a similar colour and texture to the cartridge paper I had used for the risograph prints and was a nice neutral colour for the front and back page.
To make my cover for the book I decided to make a flower pounding on fabric to cover the book board. I used orange yellow and purple tulips on cotton gauze, as I used cotton gauze and it is a very thin fabric so I ironed it onto wonder web and then backed it with natural colour plan to strengthen it make it less transparent so the board couldn’t be seen behind it and to stop the glue form coming through the fabric and ruining the print. Once the cover was dry I glued into to the front and back page of the book and left it to dry in the press for a few hours.
I was very happy with the outcome of my book I feel the flower pounded cover gives a really nice aesthetic and from being ironed onto wonder web gives it a crinkled textured feel which adds to the book. The letterpress and risograph images came out well and I think that the time and effort put into doing the text and taking the photographs myself gives the memories importance as they are valuable and precious things to people they belong to that kindly were willing to share them with me.
I took part in the File Print in the link gallery during this project, I felt it would be good practice to take the hanging and presentation of my work seriously I preparation for the grad show. I measured out grids on the wall to make sure my framed works were hung properly and used a curtain pole and sticky back Velcro to hang my large fabric piece in the window. I was quite daunted at first by the thought of requesting two walls and a window to work with but wanted to display my flower poundings as I hadn’t had a chance to do this since pip. I also wanted to show my new large flower pounding that I had made for a photo shoot with a photography student and some of the letterpress print work I had been doing without giving anything away as to what they were to become. I photographed some of the letterpress pieces in the workshop to stick closely with the theme of the print exhibition, I think the process is very beautiful and I like the metal gallys that are used to fix the text as they are splattered with different coloured inks and scratches from all the metal letters they have been used to print. I was really happy with how the fabric was hung in the window it looked a lot more professional than the last piece I hung in a window in the link. It was also really nice being able to see the buildings through the fabric out of the window and also the sunny cloudy sky behind it. The sun also cast a beautiful strip of shadow on the floor and you could see the flecks of the petals on the floor. For my small flower poundings I cut them down small to fit the frames and also layered the paper print of the flower pounds behind the fabric but moved it slightly to one side giving it a shadow 3D effect.
During this unit I also helped out with a first years collage and poster-making drop in workshop. Doing this helped me build the confidence to hold my own flower pounding workshop. I held it in a friend’s garden and invited people from uni to come and make some prints. It was nice doing the process outdoors and also pounding on different surfaces. Some of the paper and fabric prints came out very interesting as they were made on hard bumpy concrete surfaces which meant some of the colour was very pronounced and also left some holes in the material. It was a really nice experience to get people together to make work outside of the university and the people who participated really enjoyed the process and loved that from something quite violent you produce such a fragile print.
I have also carried on from the last project making more small books to show the flower poundings from the work shop and to incorporate some more of the memories which I did not use in the final book. I ended up with nearly 400 memories to work from and made a small book with ten of my favorites from each sense and made them into a small soft back stitched book. I made a third small book which contains some of the images my flower pounded was used in by two different photography students and also images from the link gallery exhibition to show the different ways my work has been used and presented.