two.5 not just Dirty Laundry – Part I

This blog seems to have become synonymous with Dirty Laundry but this week we’ve sunk our teeth into a new project and I’m going to use this blog post to talk a bit about how this latest project got started and try to draw together the fruits of yesterday’s brain storm.

A couple months ago I started to sense that Viccy’s demanding schedule was making it very hard for her to find the time to work on DL. I could feel us losing momentum as we battled to find enough time to work on our respective halves of the project and I started to wonder if we needed to think of a project that consisted of smaller chunks of work that- like my pictures for DL- could be developed on an abstract level but would take less time to make concrete. I called Viccy and explained a concept that was half formed in my brain for photos that had ultra distilled short stories accompanied by a single portrait. I was equating the short stories to film log lines and as a result ended up calling the project “Coming Attractions”.  Shortly after that she sent me over a call for a residency in London and we decided to develop the idea further and submit it.

Two weeks ago I arrived in London (to work on a documentary for a friend) and I discovered we’d been short listed for the residency! Pleased we decided to do a test run of the idea in preparation for an interview. It went like this: I took photographs of words extracted them from their context and sent them to Viccy. Viccy used the words to create a log line style story and sent them back to me. Straight away I knew things weren’t working quite right and we had a flurry of emails confirming that we both felt we’d somehow gone of track. I dedicated my train ride to Newcastle to brain storming and yesterday we spent a long walk discussing the problem and coming up with a fix.

The problem was that in a search for the right words to discuss the project we’d been using film language and as a result the project had become a sort of imitation of a film advert rather than it’s own piece of word/picture collaboration which is the core of Two.5. So with this in mind we talked over the project and were able to move back to a more abstract space where we could capitalize on our strengths and get the most out of our collaboration while still working to fulfill the expectations of the squid and tabernacle residency (which aims to promote participation through digital media).

1. Viccy brilliantly suggested we create a blog that examines the relationship between space and practice – the central theme of the residency- we would ask artists, curators and other art world individuals to contribute thoughts and personal stories about effect work space (or that lack of there of) has on their process/practice.

2. During the test run I found that taking a picture of a word to send to Viccy as a prompt felt really counter intuitive. The meaning of the word was important to me and as a result I was trying to find a good word and only after I found it trying to make a good photograph- the link between the process, product, and the purpose was really contrived and it didn’t seem to add anything useful. A picture is itself an act communication and I wanted to be able to concentrate on what a picture could say rather then just trying to attractively or provocatively capturing a word.

After I explained this to Viccy she happily agreed.

3. Perhaps Viccy can comment on this more, but it seemed like the log line wasn’t quite working- it was very constraining and not giving Viccy an opportunity to make a rich enough story. We liked the drama of it but decided to open it up to a paragraph sized story.

4. Next we were onto the picture word relationship. I had wanted to work on portraiture and asked if the picture could be a portrait. After some discussion on this matter Viccy suggested we invert a typical writing exercise where you make up a story to fit a portrait. Here, based on an initial picture prompt Viccy would make a pen portrait a paragraph in  length and then I would have to take that and use it as inspiration for a photographic portrait.

5. For a while I’d been thinking about asking people to read the text but I kept thinking that by bringing in audio we were making the final piece time based and that made me want to make the visual component time based. This felt like a bit of a conundrum. These were meant to be small pieces with a decently quick turn around so introducing video editing seemed like it could majorly change the shape of the project and significantly slow it down. And, I really wanted to do portraiture. But! Then I thought- what about still video portraits. Like the slow motion Andy Warhol portraits. I could set up the shoot like still but record video. The video would play for the length of the audio and it would essentially be a still apart from the minor changes- wind, blinking, breathing. It would allow me to engage both my video and stills brain to create something that mated easily with Viccy’s written word but made the most of the tools available. Just writing about it I’m getting excited.

Those are the major components of the project. Viccy and I dedicated a good amount of time to discussing how we would deliver the pieces digitally- what sort of online gallery we would use, if would would do the pieces one by one mimicking format of DL or if we would release them all at once at the end. But I think I will save that element for a separate post.

All in all development of Coming Attractions had made some major advances in the last 24 hours- a real testament to how important it is for me and Viccy to meet in person and work together face to face.