Notes from SW OCA meeting 12 January 2019
Tutor – Matt White (moving Image)
Matt presented a fascinating lecture on the research process. He is an enthusiastic and engaging presenter.
What is research?
- Everything you do around the subject is research – any creative, systematic activity. E.g. making is a form of research (yay!)
(When writing his songs, David Bowie used to write a load of works on pieces of paper, and then throw them up in the air to see what patterns appeared when they fell).
Research is a cycle with three parts:
Inspiration – action – review. One then returns to inspiration. Most students tend only to go through this cycle once, but the more you do this, the more your subject becomes refined and the better the end result is likely to be.
Let go of your original idea – by using the above process, you are highly unlikely to end up with the same concept as when you started.
Types of research
- Primary – original sources and artefacts
- Secondary – other people’s writings
- Theoretical research
- Other artists
You don’t need to go far to find subjects for research. Sian Bonnell did a whole body of work on staying at home with her young kids.
What stops you doing research?
- Fear of failure
- Not knowing where to start
- Fear of looking stupid
- Fear of making mistakes
Don’t worry about mistakes – your best teacher is your last mistake. Leave in the mistakes as they show where not to go again. Use them as learning points.
Erwin Wurm made a whole art career out of looking stupid. When you enter your studio (or creative space, whatever that is), you should feel free to play and be silly and try out mad ideas. That is where you learn.
Process and Product
Artists tend to be more interested in one than the other. Neither is right or wrong. The process is the making, experimenting, reading etc. and the product is the outcome.
John Hilliard – pioneer of conceptual photography. The process was the product. (Also Thomas Ruff)
Jeff Koons – all about the product. Also Damien Hurst.
Look at Julian Germain
Francis Alys – When Faith Moves Mountains – no product at all.
How research works
It does not start with a clearly stated problem. This is art, not science. The purpose of the research is to identify the question that you want to explore. Be imaginative, creative, and inquisitive. Don’t be bored or derivative.
Look at work of
David Nebreda, who was a hermit and lived without any outside influences, but still produced work (very dark work)
The Enigma of Casper Hauser – film –
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ted Talk on genius –
You have to find your own way of researching, but this is a good starting point.
Matt then went on to explain in some detail how he made his project From the Wing of a Fly.
It started out as a project on how capitalism started and ended up as a fiction piece/travel documentary/experimental film/conceptual documentary on finding the location in Turkey where the first cultivated tulip originated from. Very difficult to position for arts festivals as it doesn’t fit neatly into any one category.
We went through the whole process, which took a couple of years. Most of his work is about quests for identity and place and it was interesting to see how the process unfolded over time.