Saturday, 29 May 2010

Pointless is Pointless

I recently completed a workshop with Ian anderson (The Designer's Republic)
I was anticipant for the workshop and nervous. I was ready for what Ian had to throw at us.
We were asked to do something pointless for one hour and document this is a way we thought was appropriate. Previous examples included
- cutting grass with nail scissors
-pressing the return key for one hour
-throwing pennies into a ravine for one hour.
Ian explained from the offset that the way we presented the hour was the most important thing. So i first of all had to decide on what it was i was going to do for an hour. I considered; plucking my arm hair out for an hour, cleaning the floor with a cotton bud, unravelling a jumper for an hour etc. unwinding a video tape and winding it back up again.
I decided in the end to sit in the electricity cupboard in my building, and switch a bulb on and off for one hour. I only had a camera and a dictaphone to document this. I also counted the amount of Ons and Offs within the hour. I plugged the extension cable into the plug in the hallway and led the wire into the cupboard. The cupboard was extremely dusty and pitch black when the door was closed. I sat on the floor and taped the bulb to the wall. i began the time and got clicking. The clicks were not rhythmical in any way, my speed was sporadic and often there were pauses where my leg went numb or I had to stop and sneeze.
Naturally, residents of the flat, found a wire leading from the communal plug socket into the electricity cupboard very strange. Therefore i was interrupted a few times, as people potentially thought I was trying to tamper with the electricity meter, To there surprise on opening the door they saw me sat there, camera in hand, bulb taped to the wall, startled some instantly closed the door before i could explain, others found it humorous and one man offered me a cup of tea and began telling me how he often hid in the cupboard and waited for his girlfriend to walk past so he could scare her. After about half an hour things were getting really tedious and the same man came down the stairs to check on me
Man- "how's the hour going?"
Me-'Tedious very Tedious"
Man: "How long you got left now? half and hour, twenty minutes?
Me: 'Half an hour"
Man: 'Enjoy'
Me: 'Thanks'
For the presentation i decided that instead of trying to interpret data i had collect,such as how many clicks a minute etc. I wanted to try and give my audience a sense of what it was like being in the cupboard. It struck me that I was the only one who could see what was going on in the cupboard and outsiders would only have a view of the door, and the sound coming from within. I made a stop motion using the photographs i had taken, and synched these with the sound of the clicking on and off.
I also included within the film, a shot of the outside of the cupboard to portray the outside interest in the project i.e. the man, the film started and ended with the view of outside, and the duration showed visuals from inside the cupboard. The video lasted a torturous 6 minutes and the audeince said that they could definitely imagine what it was like to be there for an hour.
To develop the project I would have liked to try and get more of a sense of being inside a closed space, perhaps if the video was screen in a different environment, maybe re-creating the dimensions of the cupboard, the dust the rubbish etc, then people could truly experience it, whether they would want to is it a different story.
stills from my film;
Martin Creed
I came across Martin Creed, whilst researching and realised that he won the Turner Prize in 2001 for a piece called 'The Lights Turning on and Off.." This piece is basically a room in any given space where the lights are turned on and off repeatedly. Creed is known art, which is seemingly about nothing, I find these kind of characters intriguing, but more so I was amused that when I myself tried to be pointless I ended up with a similar outcome to Creed. I questioned how this reflected on the Turner Prize?Is it all a load of shit? or is there something to be said about doing things for the reason of just wanting to do them, and not considering other peoples opinion, reaction or interest. Creed explained the reason he did the piece was because he felt unsure of things and undecided, he wanted to use the whole room without using any materials, "...there is no one material or shape that I believe in enough to put it together and point to and say ‘look at this’…" I think this is valid, however does this mean my 1 hour task is no longer pointless? no, I think the 'point' comes from the intention, I intended my piece to be pointless, therefore it was. Creed had an intention, this is the difference. My piece had more of a 'point' once I had presented it , the point of trying to share the experience with the group, just as Creed shared his unsure feelings with the public, by presenting this or any idea, something 'pointless' can end up having 'a point'
The Lights going on and off, 2001

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