I’m just a couple of months away from my final degree assessment, and am starting to put together the building blocks of this project, and how I will present it. This is an exciting and scary time usually- that stage of the creative process where you can’t quite envision what a final artwork will look like, but the possibilities are starting to come together. But as this is the final project in my degree, there’s the mounting pressure that ultimately, whatever I make now is my Final Degree Show.
I’m trying not to worry though as that will get me nowhere.
I’ve been practicing more with projection mapping, specifically with clown face on mannequin. I’ve always viewed clowning as a kind of projection, and as a physical, moving projection it creates an eerie yet peaceful vision.
One of the benefits of the studio I currently use is that there is absolutely no natural light- making projection work a dream! Having an affordable studio is such a privilege, especially when living in the centre of a busy town full of artists.
I’ve been getting into the swing of things with projection mapping and finding it very exciting- it’s like a new little world has opened up creatively. So far I’m using film I already have of tightrope walks, and footage of my own face to project onto objects too (which is spookily delightful!)
It’s difficult to photograph projection work, which I think makes it even more interesting to me- similar to live performance, once it is filmed, it becomes an entirely different thing. One of the main things I’ve been focusing on for this project, is keeping it accessible and affordable (people spend A LOT of money on these kind of effects, but if you’re wanting to just try out ideas before spending, here’s a breakdown of what I’ve been using:
Optoma Projection Mapper appThis is a great little basic app, costs around £5. It’s only available on iPad/iPhone currently, but this is perfect for my needs at the moment. I’ve not tried the app with a phone yet, but for display/exhibition purposes, this could be really handy if it works ok.
Deeplee projector £50ish from Amazon. I did a lot of research and asking around, and after finally settling on this one, have found it to be working really well. It’s pretty bright even in a dimly lit room, the only downside so far is that it’s quite noisy.
HDMI Adapter – under £20. Like all projection projects, you gotta sort the pesky cable nonsense out. This is the right one to connect an iPad/iPhone to the projector, and it also needs to be connected to a charger at the same time.
More updates soon, when I’ve had more time to play around. I’m off tightrope practice for a couple of weeks, which although makes me sad, it does mean dedicated time to working on the art/tech side of things.
I’m practicing after the new year/Xmas break and though I’ve been a bit wobbly at first, I’m back walking from end to end. I need to keep my arms up more, and one foot off the rope as much as possible (interestingly, it’s easier to balance on one leg than with both on the rope!)
I’ve been getting back on to the projection side of things, using a new mini projector whilst figuring out how to do very basic projection mapping. I’m starting with ‘Projection Mapper’ by Optoma, a device-based app, and am currently having LOTS of fun working out which cables to get to make it all work. I hate cables. I long for a cloud-based life.
Currently my process looks like this:
It’s great to start playing around even with just straight projections- I’ve always found projected film intoxicating, more so than on a screen.
My next step once I’m all rigged up tech-wise is going to be proper film footage of a tightrope walk, which will mean having to take a white and black backdrop into the circus school, unless I manage to find another place to walk that can be moved in front of a better backdrop. I’m still on the trail of a tightrope that may or may not exist in another location…
In lieu of a tightrope, (it’s not up at the moment) I took my slackline down to the West Pier and practiced between the old metal pillars.
Slackline seems similar to tightrope, but it’s completely different, and I find it so hard- I much prefer the tightrope. However, it was good to get some balancing practice in after the long Christmas break, especially in a picturesque environment.
I used to love watching people doing slackline and tightrope by the West Pier when I first moved to Brighton, over 10 years ago now (although I remember them being a lot better than I am!)
After I took down the slackwire, I created a line where it was with white stones. I wonder how long it will stay there?
I’m going to look into the feasibility of rigging a tightrope between the pillars…it would be great to be able to rig it myself anytime, especially once the weather gets warmer.
Each year at uni, we are required to do a corridor exhibition. As my work becomes more film and digital-based, this has become more of a challenge. To get around this, I installed my film at uni using a QR code. The viewer scans the code on their phone, and my first ‘Balancing’ film plays on their device.
My friend James was able to help put the film online, without having to use YouTube or Vimeo (which can get clunky). The code is shown both alone and on a ‘stage’, which gives the feel that the film is a performance.
I’ve had a break from the tightrope over Christmas and New Year (it hasn’t been up) but I got back into handstand practice today. I’m able to hold myself upside down against a wall for around 15 seconds, but still not strong or confident enough to kick up backwards into a wall handstand, but I’m fully intending to keep practicing.
Have had a couple of weekends away from the tightrope, as it’s not been up, so have spent the time working on other balancing techniques and exercises. I’m still working towards doing a handstand, and the exercises I’m doing are definitely increasing my upper body strength- albeit slowly, as I’ve never really done any form of physical performance/sport. I have a vague recollection of doing gymnastics when I was little, but I wasn’t very good and I HATED going upside down! I realise now that a lot of that had to do with having bad eyesight and wearing glasses.
I did some more balancing at Fabrica for the experimental life drawing class last week, and it was interesting how quickly I was able to walk along my practice beam without falling- 5 mins, as opposed to half an hour! Also great to see the kind of drawings people made of a moving, balancing figure. It’s really good for me to practice balance skills whilst not on my own too- doing anything in front of an audience, whether they are drawing or just watching- is really challenging.
I’ve also been working more on my shoe balance performance- it’s an idea I liked and keep returning to, and I wondered how improving my balancing skills may change things. Turns out I am able to stand on one leg, in a high heel, for some time, and to step in and out of shoes more smoothly.
I’m unsure if the visual of someone stepping in and out of shoes is a little too obvious a metaphor for the ‘precariousness’ of performative femininity, but it’s a good place to start. My wish to start balancing practice is rooted in theory anyway, so it seems to be a natural progression.
A friend of mine, who is currently doing a practice-based phd based around circus, lent me a really interesting book by Dr Camilla Damkjaer, ‘Homemade Academic Circus’- about the writer (an academic) learning circus as a non-performer, and exploring how she can learn and explore theory and ideas through the process of learning physical techniques.
I came across this youtube clip of one of her ‘performance lectures’. It would be great to speak to her about this, if at all possible.
I feel I’m getting a little better, although my balance and concentration were a bit off this week as I’m in the midst of pretty bad PMS.
Coincidentally, this weekend I went to see Dr Marissa Carnesky’s ‘The Incredible Bleeding Woman’- a multi-disciplinary show about menstruation that I’ve been wanting to see for quite a while. A number of performers create menstrual rituals- some are funny, some are quite moving, and it was really inspiring to see female performers fearlessly confronting such a taboo subject onstage in a variety of different ways: magic, monologues, dance, video and even hair-hanging. A really great section on trans-feminism too. Specifically, it made me think more about the physical ways that my cycle can affect me and the things I do.
I always find my balance and co-ordination are somewhat lacking at certain times of the month, and my body is considerably more sensitive to pain and discomfort too (I found this out when getting tattooed in my 20s!). However, I had not thought about how much it may affect skills that rely on these things, and how perhaps this could be incorporated instead of forced out.
Fortunately at this week’s practice, dressing up was encouraged for Halloween, so the next picture is me, enjoying myself dressed as a clown:
I’ve also been returning to ideas about clowning- specifically how clowns are all about projecting thoughts, feelings and ideas onto an audience. This ties in nicely with the working title of my current project (Balancing|Projecting), and I’ll look into this a bit more over the next couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, today whilst life modelling at Fabrica (where I was asked to do a circus theme) I found I could hold longer standing poses than usual…my core strength is improving, though I didn’t think it would be that noticeable so quickly!
Today I managed my first full tightrope walk, which feels like a huge step, especially since it was only my second time on the rope. I made the most of a three hour open practice session, and learnt some useful tips from some of the other people practicing there.
Genuinely, the more I do it, the easier it gets. Currently, when I make it to the other side it feels a bit like a fluke, so I’m looking forward to finding out how it might feel to be able to do it more confidently. Learning to do something like this with absolutely zero circus experience (outside of random clowning!) is incredibly rewarding, and worth the zillion times I fall off. I’m keeping a track of my practice over on instagram, if you want to see videos etc. Here’s some photos:
I’m learning at High Top Circus, a local circus school run by some brilliant friends. They do all sorts of classes- mostly aerial- and are great.