Final Major Project Evaluation
The Self Perception Theory started as I explored the way I perceive myself in a video art project I had made as an experiment, during the beginning phases of FMP. I knew that video art was the foundation of which I needed to build on from the inspiration I had gained, watching a short documentary about artist Sam Taylor-Wood. More specifically, the installation for Sustaining the Crisis (1977). The installation is a two screen piece with one depicting a lone man sat on a chair looking provocatively into the camera. The other screen, opposite the first, depicts a half-naked woman walking confidentially down a busy street. At this moment, I fell in love with Video Art. I loved the way that multiple screens could interact with each other and in turn, the audience. I began to research video art and the artists that make up the movement. A piece that caught my attention was Barbara Kruger’s ‘The Globe Shrinks (For Those Who Own It). This piece is a three screen typography installation that stretches across a huge hall. I decided to then make my own typography installation and began to listen to music and capture dialogue to use as a starting point. However, I felt as though I couldn’t use other artists work to kick start my own, so instead I wrote a poem based on my own opinions about the welfare of dangerous pets. Poetry is something I have always enjoyed and I gained a huge sense of accomplishment when I completed my typography piece. I watched it through and thought about using my other thoughts and feelings to incorporate into my work. A self-portrait suddenly felt like a direction in developing my FMP I should take, so I thought about how I felt about myself and wrote an idea down in my notepad. I never intended in making it due to the fear of losing my dignity or self-respect. However, I did eventually decide to make it and it gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my ideas and develop them further. I created a two screen piece very similar to Sam Taylor-Wood’s ‘Sustaining the Crisis (1977)’. I shot a two screen installation, (intended to be exhibited opposite each other) one screen with a video of me sat in a chair half naked and the other a video of myself (fully clothed) shouting at the other screen about how fat I am. I’ve been called names before and had comments about my weight, but it never hurt coming from other people. However, when I saw myself giving myself abuse, which hurt and really put things into perspective for me. I was fascinated by the way my piece made me feel about myself and how no amount of words could have given me a push to better myself. It was my words and to see those words projected in front of me was extremely therapeutic. My research after this point developed and I looked into The Self Perception Theory. The theory that explains human emotion is only distinguishable after that person has assessed and observed their own behaviour. This became the concept and the title for my final major project.
My endeavours were far from over as I had yet to finalise an idea for my project proposal. I started to look at the different styles of video art, particularly the way in which they are presented and exhibited. My experiments taught me that the most important first step of creating video art is the way it is exhibited as it isn’t a film. It’s art that is intended for exhibitions in museums and galleries. Once I knew how I would exhibit it, I could start working on the content of the piece. I looked back through my work and experiments to find my self-portrait and wanted to create something similar, but in a way an audience can relate to. A multi-screen installation was the most ideal exhibition technique that suited me. Interaction between multiple screens is a beautiful technique and if done correctly can interact with the audience in a way a painting or a film never could. And that is what I wanted for my FMP.
Generating my idea was much easier after finalising the way in which I would exhibit my work. The Self Perception Theory, after more research, gave me the development I needed. I wrote down a few ideas in my notebook, but the one that stood out the most was a four screen installation depicting a man with a blank expression searching three other screens opposite that display the emotions of happiness, sadness and anger. I really enjoyed the concept and in the right circumstances I felt that this would have made a great piece of artwork.
I began pre-production almost instantly. Pre-production was almost exactly the same as it would be for a film, the only difference being was booking the exhibition space and equipment. The first thing I needed to do was casting, I searched some casting websites and unfortunately had no luck as I had to request the emails of any of the freelance actors. I requested a couple of emails and after a couple of days after no reply; I gave up and asked a friend. He would happily do it, but he works during the week and doesn’t finish till late. Luckily he was able to leave work early as long as it was a reasonable time. I booked the studio and white backdrop for the late afternoon, with some time to set up lights etc. I needed to book equipment, but at the time there was none available so I borrowed a Canon 70d from a friend after testing its moving image capabilities. When I was confident it would be good enough, I made the decision to use it for shooting my piece. Setting up the shoot came with its problems too. I originally booked the television studio to make use of the lighting kit installed in there, but I was told to use the photography studio as there were already lights and a white backdrop set up. When I arrived with my equipment, I quickly realised that there was a class taking place and there were no lights set up. I was then asked to go down to the television studio and after clearing it for my shoot and setting up the lights, there was paint all over the backdrop making it unusable. When I got back to the photography studio the class had finished and I managed to get some lights and set them up. I played around with the lights and decided to mount them high up, pointing the light towards the floor. This lit my backdrop and casted no shadows within the frame of the camera. I managed to shoot the video in less than ten minutes and had it edited by the end of the day. I did experiment a little during the edit by adding noise and colour to the sequences. The colour I added were to help distinguish the emotions and to separate the screens rather than them having the same background. The only thing left was getting the exhibition ready.
I instantly ran into more problems as the college didn’t have the resources to exhibit my FMP in the way that I had intended. I would need four projectors and a large space, but unfortunately they couldn’t provide it. I suggested a number of alternatives such as; having two projectors, iPads, Mac’s and televisions, but they were all unfeasible because of the funding cuts and the demand of supply. I almost gave up when it was suggested that I used one screen and used a split screen technique so that I could exhibit my work in the cinema, rather than the gallery. I did exactly that as I would rather sacrifice the way I would have exhibited my piece to be able to be part of the exhibition or refuse to do so and not be.
The feedback I received from my peers was great, but I don’t agree with some of the points that were made. I made the decision to cut out the sound as I wanted the character and the audience to interact with each other and I feel that sound would have disrupted that. The self-perception theory is the search of physical behaviour to distinguish the way you are feeling. I feel that sound would have taken that physical element away from it. Another point that was made was about the colour of the background in each of the slides. My peers felt as though the background should have been one colour in all slides to make the piece one video rather than it looking broken and four different videos. This is one of the points that I agree with. Initially my piece was supposed to be exhibited as four different videos, however due to the circumstances; I had to compromise and make some sacrifices by cutting it into one video. If my piece had been able to go to plan, I feel that the colour would have worked well to break up the piece, however due to the changes it didn’t really work. Which moves me onto the next point of solving my problems had created more problems. I do agree with this to a certain extent; however I feel I could only work with the time that I had.
To conclude my evaluation, I feel that overall, final major project was an excellent experience and I have continued to learn new skills as I incorporated old ones. My final cut of The Self Perception Theory for me worked out a lot better than I thought it would. Just as things started to go south, I feel like I dealt with each problem at a professional standard. If I had the resources I feel my project would have worked out brilliantly, but as I had to compromise, I lost sight of the difference in scale of my exhibition and the consequences that came from it. If I could change anything, I would mostly take away the colour of the background. My peers were correct in saying it didn’t work on a smaller scale. I have learned new skills from FMP which are transferable and will be useful to my photography degree. I am excited for the future and to put what I have learned into practise at university.