08: ITERATIVE PROCESS

[Martin Molin’s detailed documentation of the making of his instrument: the music box here shows a demanding iterative process.]

Molin is the key member of the Swedish band Wintergarten. He is well known for inventing musical instruments that performs his compositions. The best known is probably the Marble Machine. He has also gained a following on the detailed video documentation of his making and tutorials on his working processes. The music box (above) uses ‘punch card’ music roll that can be ‘programmed’. At the end of his tutorial, he asks if anyone would be interested in mechanising the laborious hole-punching process and this is what happened…

Materialising

In the second assignment, Critical Analysis, you are asked to:

  • choose one work that you feel strongly about
  • research the artist, his/her intention in creating the work, the central ideas he/ she is conveying in the work
  • critically analyse the work in terms of its craft
  • describe the physical presentation of the work in details
  • assess how well the artist achieves his/ her ideas or intention through the work’s material manifestation.
  • speculate on the reasons the artist may have made certain decisions (for example, the exhibition space, technical details in the install, the choice of materials used and so on).

The intention of this analysis to ‘reverse-engineer’ a work, to understand how ideas are transformed into physical, material forms through experimentation, production, presentation and/or exhibition.

How do we do that?

Paul Carter writes:

Materials are actively forming and informing, patterning and re-patterning themselves and their surroundings… their activity can reasonably be described as discursive. To say this means, thought re-materialisng discourse. When this occurs something else emerges. The image/ text, or non-discursive/ discursive opposition tends to melt away, and a third, material discourse emerges. (180)

So we may analyse and critique in words:

  • Analysis and critique are two key steps in creative practice education (critique sessions are the mainstay of disciplines such as art, design, architecture, and filmmaking).
  • This trains practitioners to speak the language of Carter’s “third, material discourse”.
  • Practitioners need to be informed about all the contexts  that may influence their works from economic pressure of the marketplace, the political situation of funding, sourcing materials, to modifying or inventing new methods/ processes .
  • Creative works cannot be separated from the material cultures within which they emerge from.
  • Practitioners/ makers need to understand how materials play a part in realising their ideas.
  • By materials, I don’t mean just physical material; digital media has its own materiality

Analysis: Biennale of Sydney 2018

Start with analysis of the work/ objects you have chosen from this exhibition. ‘Reverse engineer’ or work backwards to find out:

  • how was the work made?
  • What materials was used?
  • What kinds of processes were used?
  • Was there much experimentation involved? What purpose did these experimentation serve?
  • What decisions were made?

Now here is the hard questions:

  • Why were these decision made?
  • Why these materials?
  • Why these processes?
  • How did these ‘serve’ the ideas explored?
  • And what are these ideas explored?

From ideas to making

This is a short feature on Limor Fried (aka Ladyada), founder of Adafruit Industries. Identify the ideas she talks about in terms of making.

Michel Gondry is a innovative and extremely creative maker. He has made many well-known music videos (e.g. for the Chemical Brothers and the White Stripes). He is probably best known for his animation works. Animation is an old technique that is continuously being transformed through ideas and new technologies. Gondry is excellent at problem-solving using this form of expression. Have a look at the following video where Gondry talks about his work Is the Man who is Tall Happy? based on his interview with Noam Chomsky. Write down the different ideas he is exploring, at the same time, write down what animation techniques he is using to explore these ideas.

WORKSHOP

In week 6, you formed groups based on your interests in a number of areas identified as follows (please let me know if I have left you out):

FIDELITY (MAT)
Eliza Appel, Blake Foggo, Liam Walker, Toby Wilkinson, Chris Boyd, Saverio Pirrottina

POWER (MAT)
Christina Donoghue, Emily Duncan, Jessica Dryburgh, David Guveski, Mia McRobert, Chantelle Hyde

DIALECTIC (MAT)
Angus Rigby-Wild, Geoff Lee, Angela Cullen, Ryan Catbagan, Daniel Lavin, Mark Johnson

EXPANDED CINEMA (AARON)
April Misiluti, Brittany Spencer, Rebecca Neilson, Hayden Starr, Andrew Hodsden, Jei Strolin

MONTAGE (AARON)
Blake Sykes, Lee Butler, Alex Mead, Alex Pham, Dylan Le, Adam Weir

THREAD (AARON)
Zoe Majstorovic, Ceren Tabak, Noelle Jackson, Olivia French, Carah Fiseris, Matthew Lawrence

Activity: Experiment

1.On the sheet of paper provided write down:

  • Working title of project (no longer refer to the project as ‘yours’, give it a life of its own and be prepared to kill it if you have to)
  • A key material the project might consist of
  • A significant idea or theory the project relates to
  • Identify a tradition or genre the project responds to
  • An aim or goal of the project
  • The personal motivation or personal relevance behind the project

2. Circle or underline the two most important aspects of the project OR two areas you are having trouble with

3. Outline a single experiment / model to undertake today that will develop the project – detail on sheet of paper

4. Spend 10 minutes on each group member discussing projects by way of the two significant features identified in step 2 and the activity of step 3. Suggest alternative research and development activities for each project and suggest ways in which you might help other projects.

5. Discuss how you each want to spend the next two hours (and next few weeks) and if you require assistance or wish to the share in any of the other project’s development/experimentation. Some of the projects might benefit from similar experimentation.

6. Let your tutor know your plans and any assistance required.

7. Scan/photograph sheet of paper for blog. Document discussions and work-in-progress for blog.

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