Wednesday, 31 August 2011

is it ok to offend in order to provoke a response?

I am now on with my new project and this may be quite a controversial one. I am planning on making a clear perspex or plexiglass version of the swastika that I will then stuff un-processed sheep wool into and seal up. The only colour coding that will be evident would be the grey/black wool and be quite minimal in stature. I will make a plinth for it to rest on and be quite inconspicuous in overall design.

I do know the connotations of such imagery and that it will offend a large segment of society but I think the initial conception is sound and will stand up to scrutiny. Although, of course, at certain junctures the piece will fail. The swastika is evident in all communities of the world through Hinduism, Buddhism, the tribes of North American and of course, the tribes of Europe and is constantly referred as the cross of the world as in the elements i.e. Earth, Wind, Fire, Water.

Hitler did take the cross and used it for the Third Reich and now it means evil, death, prejudice etc and that is all fine and good but ultimatley this needs to be addressed. The concept for my piece is that 'Are We Just Sheep For The Leaders Of Men. Inasmuch that all we need is a charismatic charlatan and we will walk with him.

The problem is that I just don't know if I should do this piece and that is it worth provoking a response from society. I may become classed as an exhibitionist, someone who wants to only shock and not provoke or as a rascist fool. It has many possibilities and endings and I have already received responses of the negative aspect already from friends and acquaintances and my intial idea.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

the morning after several days later

Thursday was the night of the exhibition and it went well enough. The cracks was papered over, whitewashed was applied to the walls and after three vacuums being selected, one finally worked and hoovered the mess that accumulated after the 10 day stint as an (open) studio.

I must say that it has been an experience working within Blankspace in the open studio, working with guys I normally work with within an academic and creative way in the univeristy. Working with people that I normally don't work with and having to socialise with distant colleagues was quite nice and lifted the somewhat stilted air that had settled.

I do now know that I need a studio in Manchester to call my workstation. Having the university studio is okay as a means to an end but the closing hours is pretty inconvenient as it closes at 7pm and I don't normally attend the studio until late due to erratic sleep patterns and traffic arrangments. So a consequence of the whole Chinese Whispers/Blankspace experience, what I have got out of it all is that I need a studio. A place that I can my own in Manchester, somewhere that I can work diligently and call a base is on top of my list of priorities.

So its time to speak about the exhibition... Some of the work was alright I suppose and some rose above others in conception and execution. Joel Moore's shoes was old work that had been exhibited someplace else and wasn't made within the open studio and his security cameras was new and i quite liked the idea. Katie Barnes worked through the experience and contributed a floaty and airy piece of collage and projection based on old and new maps of Glossop, her hometown.

We had painting, illustration, installation and photography on show..which are the usual suspects but they weren't paintings in the truest sense of the word. Emma Hardaker's work are somewhat in the dripping territory/in the action paintings of the the fifties and sixties and these mirrored Bex Wild's Scanography which are the same but uses a scanner instead of the canvas.
Chuman didn't enter new work but being in Hong Kong didn't make it possible..his work still stood up to scutiny though. I do like/enjoy his paper constructions and they seem to have a serene feel to them with shadowplay and delicateness.

The installation of the open studio was probably the best part of the evening. It was a documentation of the work that we
produced a was very ad hoc but in a contained way.

We had a good response from the public and had over 75 visitors on the night. A lot of the people seemed to be Interactive Artists and their families, Blankspace where conspicuous in their non attendance which was strange being their gallery. Only Kevin Bradshaw stayed around to talk and have a walk through and I took the chance to explain my work and concept.

All in all, some work shone and some others where so-so, we where shunned by Free For Arts this year and this exhibition was what to be that exhibition we wanted to have in October. As stated above, I entered this venture to absorb the atmosphere of an open studio and to have the time limit to provide artwork good enough for an exhibition. I achieved what I set out to do and the work that I did do was one of my most conceptual and sophisticated pieces that I am now on the step of evolution of my current practise.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

photographs of the final layout

The toppermost photograph is the recording of the sound-piece that I will be installing within the room. The equipment consists of a Roland 101 Frequency Modulator, Tascam 4-track and a Dictaphone. I experiment with sounds for the last week and finally steadied on a piece that I think encapsulates the whole concept. It is a 30 minute drone/frequency driven ambient track that I have programmed and then produced using the was then recorded onto the dictaphone for usage with the computer.

The other photographs show the final outcome and lighting for the exhibition at BlankSpace. It has taken me at least two weeks to decide upon what lighting and how to use the light to it's full effect.

Monday, 22 August 2011

off the cuff

This is the first post that I have written using my BlackBerry mobile and it may be one of many that I'll compose whilst away from my computer.. They will consist of mental doodles and off the cuff remarks..

Thursday, 18 August 2011

display box and plan a

The above photograph is plan a in the dressing of my installation..I have decided to go for plan b at the moment as the reflection of the light is distracting away from the piece and needs to be lit more dramatically. I am happy with the construction of the display box and the aroma of the shoes are now beginning to emante from within..


Artist: Sonny J. Barker

Title: Receptacles | Vessel | Eulogise

Year: 2011

Medium: Two Pairs of Canvas Gym-Shoes, Pieces of Found Wood, Glass


This installation aims to show the correlation between items of attire and the life cycle of the wearer through the frail process of wearing out a pair of shoes. We are born, we live and we eventually succumb to death. When we buy a pair of shoes we give them life, we then live through them and then they are discarded.

Shoes contain our D.N.A. in that the wearer’s sweat, skin and impressions of the feet are contained within. Unlike clothing where these human by-products are so masterfully laundered away, shoes become transitory self-portraits.

I have bought two pairs of canvas gym-shoes and kept one pair sealed and the other I have worn constantly for two months. These shoes have been worn to festivals, meetings and other social functions I have also documented them using digital photography.

Taxidermy was an influence in the way that I have decided to eulogise these pairs of shoes. I am interested in how certain owners of domesticated animals and birds have their beloved companions stuffed and then displayed to memorialise their passing.

These shoes are now elevated from being two pairs of unworn and worn-out items of attire to the status of loved ones. They are slices of my life that have had an abrupt end and now are to be considered as self-portraits sealed in metaphysical aspic.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

new work

Here is new work that I have started this week. I am buying circuit board based kits that have strobes and frequency fuctions and at the moment trying but failing to solder the components onto them and to make them work. I am use defunct disposable camera circuitary as a sustitute due to the expense of the circuit kits.

I would like to make larger scaled versions of these in the vein of Rauschenberg and the pop artists, they will be interactive collage peices that will be placed on the wall and look quite stunning with the correct lighting. This is a new project and I need to practise, and I mean practise alot, on the soldering bit of the work.

Monday, 15 August 2011

creative transit @ blankspace

The opening night for the Chinese Whispers exhibition is the 25th August, Thursday. We are all supposed to be in the gallery as an open studio, we are open to the public and we are also supposed to be chatting to them and getting the space all sorted for the main event, which runs for at least four days. We are called Chinese Whispers because each artist has a link to the next and since mine involves shoes, the tenuous link is to another artist who makes paper shoes. That is the only link to my work.

As stated earlier, my exhibit is an allegory for life as we are born, live and die. Shoes are bought, worn and thrown away, the allegory for the cycle of life. As shown above in the collage, I have planned out the dressing of the room prior to getting a room that I want. I have fought for the room and I have got it. The mapping out of the room is contenious at the moment as I have two ideas and the deciding on what to do is going to have to be decided upon.

I want to eulogise the start and end of the cycle of the shoe, it is going to be like a pagan memorial to the items of attire. I am wanting the visitors to kneel down on a prayer mat in order to inspect the items. They are then transformed into Gods and Kings or a loved one.

The work that I do is apparantley concerned with the cycle of life and this may be evolution towards more stronger pieces for me. I have cornered myself in the minimalist/installation side of art and may need to broaden my scopes a little, even more towards degree time when the final show is being set up. I may need to talk this over with friends after the event next Thursday.

I'm trying to think of what artists that I have been influenced by for this project. Damien Hirst and his preoccupations with life and death, Emin's work concerning personal artifacts and after seeing The Life and Death of Marina Abramovich may have some effect on me. But mostly, even though I was planning this before I seen the exhibition, 11 Rooms have had a pronounced influence on this venture such like a tsunami.

Being given such a space to imprint your psyche upon is daunting but ever so thrilling. It propels the artist into another work ethic, exhibiting in a gallery space with other artists you can become lost but with your own space, you are alone and open to many interpretations. Obviously, the work does has to have communication with others and I think there is some gelling with my neighbours.

At the moment I have constructed the vessel/box that will hold the receptacles/shoes out of found wood and this has slots where lights will filter through. I want the room darken so the attention is on the exhibit with light from the box and from above. I am placing reflective glass on the box to seal the shoes within the construct, they are beginning to smell now due to being over worn for two months. This is further enhance the memorial/taxidermy aspect to the concept.

Having bought a frequency modulator/Roland 101 during the Summer, I will be constructing a sound collage to rumble at low frequencies behind the curtain to give ambience to the piece but I need to think hard about this as I don't want to distract from what I want to say.