Research Diary: Assessment DONE!

So, I had quite an intense weekend finishing off my work for the first module in my last year of BA, and finally, at 5:30am on Monday it was done. A submission deadline was at noon so I only got a few hours of sleep but fortunately I was merely required to show up on time with my CD including a PowerPoint presentation, an artist statement and still images from my video piece. After handing my work in, I felt a great sense of triumph as the past weeks have been incredibly taxing emotionally, and thus making concentrating on my studies nearly impossible. And yet, I did it!

I had to give my presentation on Tuesday, which was good because I didn't have any extra time to stress about it, unlike some people who have to wait for theirs until Friday this week.
We are going to get proper feedback sometime next week, but the instant reactions of my two tutors were surprisingly positive, in fact, when I was finished one of them said, and I quote: "Thank you Anni, that was impressive", (I got flustered at this point) and also "You're definitely gonna be an artist" (even more flustered, and beaming). So I guess I did good.

But now, I'll share some parts of my presentation just because it was impressive.

First of all, I've named my project 'A Prisoner', after Emily Brontë's poem 'The Prisoner. A Fragment, and particularly the following passages.

"-- My outward sense is gone, my inward essence feels
Its wings are almost free, its home, its harbour found;
Measuring the gulph it stoops and dares the final bound!

Oh, dreadful is the check - intense the agony
When the ear begins to hear and the eye begins to see;
When the pulse begins to throb, the brain to think again,
The soul to feel the flesh and the flesh to feel the chain!"

I'll give you the most central part of my artist statement: the one in which I outline what my work is about.

Now, the piece itself is, as I said, video. A very unfinished, in progress video. But I can show some stills and try to explain where it's going through the various stages that I went through to get to the present, as well as my plans for the next module.
Before that, let's revise my historical source material - the images of hysterical patients of a Parisian hospital in the late 19th century, when photography was sporting the status of accurately representing the real and the true - if you could see it, then it must be a fact.

By taking countless photographs of mental patients, often hypnotized and/or bound up, in order to be more easily controlled, the head neurologist, Charcot, thought he could prove his theories on hysteria, which obviously seems very wrong today. I'm interested in the, almost obsessive need to pin down this disease or condition affecting mainly women of the turn-of-the-century Europe and America. How these physical confines sort of reflect on the social confines in which women had to try to lead liveable lives whilst their husbands, fathers and physicians were wrecking their brains over why their women seemed unhappy - and sometimes insane.

Like you've shackled someone to a wall, and then you wonder why they don't take a walk as if the chains didn't exist.

Now we come to my experiments in studio.

I started by recreating the series from the original material just see what would happen and know how it would feel to perform those movements. I felt like that wasn't going anywhere so I started moving in the studio more freely, always basing my movement on the source but not performing it in the correct order. I had my camera on self-timer so that I could still work alone, and in about five or six photoshoots I produced some 900+ individual images. For a long while I felt really precious about those images as their aesthetics intrigue me and draw me in, but I wasn't quite happy with just the pretty surface because it didn't actually bring across anything I wanted to talk about.
Moving on to video, I still stuck with the stills, assembling a film where all of the 900+ images were flashed rapidly one after the other. And for a while, I was captivated by the effect.

But then, even that felt somewhat - bland. So I started working with moving image.

These are stills from my current, short video piece and they don't really give any sort of a clue of that the film actually looks like. I mean, yes, that's how it looks like but you don't get the sound, the varying pace, the flickering or the movement quality. It is quite eerie and bizarre and compulsive - and it is going to be even more so once I have more footage, better sound and more time to edit.

Not only do I have to create some additional raw material, but also, I'm now thinking towards two separate screens that would bring more attention to the the confinement of the body within the frame, and how it can resist this confinement through movement. I want the final outcome, whatever it may be, to be an intense experience for the viewer.

And finally, let's have the last paragraphs of my artist statement that perhaps bring a bit more light to my intentions. Or merely confuse you - I don't know.

Now, onto dissertation!