Final Module

Please find following my 1200 word Statement of Intent for Module 5, the final project and culmination of my MA studies.

Liz Dees

MA Design

Hull School of Art and Design

Leeds Metropolitan University

January 2014

Module 5 – Statement of intent

 Physical end product

I have identified my art form as sitting firmly within the field of ‘live art’, theatrical in nature and often site-specific. My intended audience is that of an accidental body, one left to serendipity, no specific age, class, gender or sexuality. My reasoning in wanting to present my work to whoever, whenever, wherever, not pre-determined, but random set of recipients, is to allow a wide variety of and often anarchic uncontrolled reactions, experience and feedback.

In establishing this, I was influenced by discussions raised in the book entitled ‘Live Art’ by Robert Ayes and David Butler, such phases, as ‘Unless their art can change the lives of its’ audience, then…it will be no more than decoration’ and ‘live art allows the artist to enter the everyday lives of its audience and – quite literally – touch them’.

It is my intent to create a positive experience for audiences, however temporary and fleeting, that create an impact that is both notable and memorable. Experiences that aim to enlighten an audience’s mood, to evoke happiness and proliferate fun. It is my desire to raise the audiences’ life aspirations by creating uplifting and inspirational happenings, ones that stimulate the imagination, and through surreal encounters jerk the audience out of their safe everyday routine.

My motivations in wanting to produce a piece of live art, art which aims to touch larger quantities of people and make an impact upon their every day lives, almost in a rude and invasive way is further informed by – ‘it is this element of risk, whereby the artist is left open to the collective intervention of the viewer or the unforeseen event. Tim Brendon’ (Ayers and Butler,1991)

My work during this final module will be aiming to be pro-active not re-active as in previous modules. It is my intent to identify a specific client(s) and events for which to develop an idea. These clients and events are likely to be Fools’ Paradise and other national entertainment agencies with whom I have a strong working relationship. Events to be identified will be local outdoor events and festivals such as, Assemble Theatre Festival, Hull Carnival the Humber Bridge Soapbox Derby, The Hidden Hill festival, The Sesh, and The Freedom Festival.

By embarking upon an independent project where the research and then developing design work that is initially both speculative and conceptual, I will not be limiting or constraining the work by an actual specific client brief and budget, I will then be looking to the resultant concept towards actuality, raising funds where necessary and to practically realise to a finished 3D piece, this will be a mobile vehicle/machine involving mechanical movement. The resulting work will be representative of my research pathway and investigative journey.

In clarifying the perceived impact upon an audience and the reactions I am expecting or aiming for, I believe in contemporary British society, the public audiences are supportive and appreciative of art presented in an alternative and unorthodox way, therefore my expectations are encouraged by the notion that: ”Live art has certainly touched a nerve in British Culture. It continues to flourish here. There’s clearly a need in society for a ‘free form’ ingredient, for someone to be provocative and ask awkward questions. Traditional pagan rituals in Britain (like Maypoles, Guy Fawkes, Morris dancing) are often pre-Christian in essence. Live artists have consciously or un-consciously often fed into these traditions. Coupled with this there is the British celebration of absurdity and eccentricity.” (Ayers and Butler, 1991, p28)

Materials techniques and processes.

I intend to continue experimenting with resistant materials and actively pursuing strategies for learning and developing fabrication techniques. I have acknowledged the need to out-source certain elements that need more advanced skills or specialist equipment, I will be contracting or collaborating with others to complete the 3D pieces. My method as explained in the book entitled ‘Live Art’; ‘’the artists strength lies in adaptable attitudes; a capacity to acquire new skills as needed.’’ (Ayers and Butler, 1991, p17)

It has been established that I do not need or should not attempt to personally see through to complete realisation of my ideas. To attempt to practically complete the entire piece myself would be counter-productive, and therefore I shall focus upon an activity that can be pre-determined and planned working collaboratively with performers, a director and engineering specialists.

The majority of my work takes the form of the collaborative and I intend to continue in this manner actively pursuing collaborations with others artists. In support of my reasoning and desire to do this is Chris Lord says: ‘’All collaborations or partnerships will help to deliver wider audiences or opportunities to reach different people.’’ (Hill and Paris, 2001, p254)

Curating and exhibition.

There are conflicts with exhibiting my work as it is intrinsically designed and produced not to be exhibited in a gallery environment. Therefore the static display of such work is setting the work outside its’ usual intended context. In fact site specific work, street theatre and live art were born out of a dis-satisfaction with the gallery system as Ayers and Butler reflect: ”The broader context for much of this ‘live’ work was a profound dissatisfaction with the commercial gallery system.’’ ‘’Conceptual art, live events and artists films offered an alternative, one which appeared to be non-commercial and therefore a challenge to the gallery system, were art was equated with commodity.” (Ayers and Butler, 1991, p26)

Therefore the original live presentations of my work will be outdoors at local festivals and events, such locations as sought by artists historically interested in finding an alternative to the gallery environment. ‘Happenings were first enacted in determinate, non-theatrical spaces – warehouses, deserted factories…’ (O’Doherty, 1999, p47)

The static exhibition within the college foyer will be representative of the research pathway and resultant material work compromising a body of work, charting the journey through module 5, work that may be at the research and design stage, or may have been taken further towards a realised finished piece. Full scale, test pieces and technical try outs will also be included.

However documentary evidence of the 3D piece at outdoor live events as will be exhibited in the form of documentary photos and video footage as well as the 3D piece itself. I will be engaging/out-sourcing a photographer and video artists to complete this element for me. I would like the 3D piece to be accessible by the audience, i.e. I would like them to be able to sit, peddle and try it out. Therefore I would need a suitable amount of space around the 3D piece to allow for ease of movement by the audience.  The finished 3D piece is likely to be, large but within a transit vans dimensions. It will be made to fit through the main entrance double door and will be low enough to sit below ceiling height.

It would be nice if the natural light from the windows at the front of the building was allowed to flood in, and my piece displayed near the windows would then make the exhibition visible by and accessible to members of the public and Hull College students that would not normally come into the college foyer, thus reaching out to an outside audience as my work normally resides in a public presentation context.

Inspirations, research sources and contextual references.

I will be taking inspiration from the legacy of 1960’s and 1970’s radical theatre and art movements. I will continue to look at feminist art activities historically and be aware of current thoughts and theories. I will also be looking more closely to the de-constructivist design movement. I am also heavily influenced by the early surrealists and their use of found objects.

In researching this project I will be looking at the performer- Freddie Frinton and his play ‘Dinner for One’, and Commedia de l’arte, and alternative theatre styles and genres such as Biomechanics and the Theatre of the Absurd. I will be investigating further contemporary artists such as the handsprung puppet company (War Horse), I wish look at the Madmax scifi phenomena, the Steampunk genre, the writings of Jules Vern, the work of Heath Robinson, and Arthur Ganson.
I wish to study further the notion of guerrilla art and its place in contemporary art practice. My work remains to be anti-push button culture, participatory and interactive, therefore I will be seeking theoretical underpinnings around this aspect also. I will be looking at sociology and psychology writings around anti-obesity, anti-laziness, anti-passive unquestioning and acceptance of societies construct, and texts that explain the urge to enlighten, stimulate, up-lift and empower the audience.

I am also interested in looking further at the impact of the temporary legacy, the fleeting experience of engaging in live art. I will be looking at Jim Dine, Allan Kaprow and at the Happenings in greater depth – modern versions being flash mob and silent disco. Other sources of investigation lie with the Futurists, dadists, fluxus and Buckminster Fuller.



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