Archive for June 2010

Symposium video feedback

June 17, 2010

I’m falling behind with some of my posts – the list of drafts is getting longer. Therefore I need to start compromising on my spell and grammar checks.

Anyway so I didn’t get many comments on the video (, but admittedly it is bad timing as everyone is very busy completing their projects. I did however get some from both Rabhia and Susan (final yr online students). Oh and now Claire too (first yr part-timer).

Rabhia’s feedback was:

It’s wonderful to actually find out what the work is about, I must confess, even though I have looked at your website, the one with the images, I was a little confused with the intention of the work.

But the presentation does make your thought process clearer.

I do have a couple of questions however

1. Being of “diverse background” myself , being born and raised in sunny England.

I wonder-

Do you feel you should define your practice in terms of a connection with religion? , I.e. as a Islamic artist after why not say your just an artist?

2.It could be argued that You, Me and Hassen are all Islamic artists, but then the test would be would we chose to define ourselves as such?

And by doing so are we ineffectively pigeonholing ourselves?

For myself, I do not define my practice in terms of religion, my practice is conceptual art, and the medium depends on what suits the work.

Is possible to denote my ethnic origin of my work, I’m not sure it is, clearly my name isn’t English, without that cue, I doubt that it would be possible to guess my ethnic origin from it.

Clearly, a number of works are influenced by Islamic Art/Faith, especially the typography work, the Miniature painting, the paper sculptures and the IE interactive film, but to say one is an Islamic Artist, is to say that one’s practice sits outside contemporary art scene, after this is largely made up of middle class “white” people with posh accents, especially the ones that run all the art establishments (95%)

(A couple of percent either way) white, according to the Art Council itself.

There a paper on their website or is it the Artist newsletter, I can’t remember.

So it was mostly questions which might sound familiar to a reader of my posts. They are topics and issues I’ve raised in the past and have certainly discussed in my Unit1 essay as well as in previous posts. But it’s always good to reflect back on these things and see if the answers have changed at all. If Rabhia had asked me those questions early in Unit 1 the answers would have been quite different to what they would have been at the end of Unit1 and those have slightly altered now towards the end of Unit2. The focus is mostly on definitions and categories and those are subjects I would look into if continuing the research post MA.

This is how I responded to Rabhia’s feedback:

It’s interesting that you’ve raised much the same questions that I looked very closely at during Unit 1.

I am just an ‘artist’ as you say, but I’m also Muslim and it’s what leads a lot of my choices in the art so I’m not afraid to pigeonhole myself. (as an aside, pigeonholing would not be a problem in itself unless the motive of the artist was to appeal to only their audience and that being to aim for a wide audience, rather than satisfy their own practice. There can of course be a balance but which comes first?)

But at the same time my art is produced for two levels – the first an aesthetic level which serves as a piece for visual appreciation (requires no knowledge of background or context). The second as a communication of ideas which if the viewer chooses can be explored from many angles, not just the Islamic. But if they then found out I was a Muslim, it might lead them to realise certain things in the art which are there to be read. This is the part where they have the option to interpret it as they wish or with some conscious effort to see if something is implied.

I interviewed many artists in the previous academic year and found that they all had different motives which would determine their choice of categorisation. This is why I am really interested in continuing the research – I came across some very interesting commonalities amongst the artists who have been curated as ‘Islamic’ artists. Some are reluctant to use only this term, others produce work which is obviously Islamic (Arabic calligraphy) and so it is part and parcel with their practice. Once the ‘Islamic Art’ label is adopted then it’s almost as if that work has been separated from the rest of the contemporary art scene. This would be another very interesting aspect for further research.

And one more thing – ‘Islamic Art’ is a term widely used in the art scene but relates to the culture and region in which the religion is pre-dominant rather than a direct implication that the work is of a religious nature. This is why categorisation of art work is a bit of an issue when it comes to these types of work.

Susan’s comments were:

The 1st point I’d like to make is that i found your symposium excellent and it gave a clear outline to your project, addressing many areas of your project and drawing the thought processes together in a way that was clarifying for me.

It has made me appreciate a little better the difference in understandings and expectations surrounding Islamic art and made me think about the arising questions of possible dialogues building between different expressions of contemporary cultures.

In response to Susan’s feedback I’d say I am quite pleased she has gained something from the video. The intention was to inform the viewer of the wider context of Islamic Art and to indicate where my explorations through the project research has taken me. It’s really nice to hear that it came across clearly too 🙂

And here’s the feedback from Claire:

it was nice to watch and learn more about your project in a verbal way, having followed your blog since last year

it was nice that the video had so many images to look at, this meant that it was never slow or tedious to watch as some videos are in places

it was interesting to discover your intention for interaction, especially the fact that it is so simple but yet very effective since 3D pieces have qualities of light e.g. shadow and highlights, but to put them in the dark and shine light on them is an exciting way of utilising their 3 dimensional quality

there were some shots which looked like modern sculpture e.g. pattern fabric with kitchen utensils… they were nice but seemed an abrupt jump from the preceding traditional pattern images

however the later inclusion of Islamic paintings as opposed to patterns was quite a nice broad overview of different forms of art for the viewer

the images of cut metal are very strong, particularly those which have been folded into space as opposed to 2D

the commentary sounds in places like you are reading it, when ideally it would sound like you knew it by heart, but this also is a plus because it sounds clear and not confusing

the commentary ends strongly with statements about looking forward to the group show and future research

this backs up the way you have conducted your project, a mix of exploration and confidence about what you like, want and are trying to do

I did indeed write notes which I used to read from at points. My memory just isn’t good enough to remember everything that needs to be said. Plus all good movies have strong scripts right? lol

More MDF cut

June 16, 2010

So I finally got the MDF cut with the laser machine at college. It looks really nice, and for some reason I really like the smell of the burnt edges. It’s been a few hours and it still smells quite strong.

I also really like all the offcuts – they looked so cool when I pulled the whole main sheet away, and the shapes formed the pattern as they were still in place. I didn’t think to take a picture of them at that point and now wish I had. It would take ages to arrange them in formation again. But if I did it would make for a very interesting art piece me thinks.

Laser cutting machine

Laser cutting machine

Machine has finished cutting

Machine has finished cutting

Managed to get a shot of some pieces still in place

Managed to get a shot of some pieces still in place

The final cut mdf

The final cut MDF (3mm)

Two downsides are that firstly at this scale I can notice some inaccuracies in the pattern. Some of the shapes are wider apart than others. It slightly bugs me knowing this although I doubt the average person would notice it unless they looked really hard or if it was pointed out to them. Secondly the MDF sheet was slightly smaller than we thought so the edge of the tile was cut off.

All in all it’s still pretty impressive. I want to use it for the front of my plinth, if I can, but I’ve realised I may need to re-design the way I’m planning to make the plinth.

Originally I was going to just have solid panels to make all four sides but if I use this cut out then it needs to be attached to a strong and stable frame which has legs going all the way up the sides allowing the inside to be hollow and the holes to help ventilation of the hardware concealed inside.

Things are quite mad for me at the moment. There are a lot of family commitments coming too. And I just don’t have enough hours in the day to commit to the project as I would like.

Oh well, better just get on with it and finish that essay!

An offer has been made

June 15, 2010

Well, I emailed the person responsible. My letter hadn’t been sent to anyone. Only I had received someone else’s. Oh well. I managed to get an email version of my real one and so it is with happiness that I can say I have been offered a place to do my PhD as part of CCW (Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon) Graduate School.Now I am putting that aside and not going to think about it till the MA is finished!

On another note: I was supposed to have received my aluminium today. At the back of my mind I’m worried I’ve been scammed. Just like being asked earlier today by a guy who was decently dressed and had a posh accent, if I could give him ’78p’ to buy a fare home as he’d left his oyster card behind. I thought hmm I’m going to take the chance and just be nice. Hopefully he won’t go and spend it on drugs. However, it would be a clever ruse on his part to ask for just 78p, most of the time ppl would just give him a full pound. And by dressing decent and using a posh accent ppl would be less likely to doubt his honesty (don’t ask me why but we all know it’s the truth). I then thought I should have just told him to go to a cash machine or bought the ticket for him lol then he’d be like errr… (at this point the truth would come out).

Why was that little story even relevant? Well because the guy I’ve been corresponding with for my Aluminium order has been very helpful and mentioned very specific technical aspects of the job which convinced me enough to pay for the work in advance of receiving it. We do this all the time with eBay and Amazon so it’s not such a foreign process. But when it involves a larger some of money – well then yeh it becomes a big deal. Now I’m even more paranoid! Oh noooo…

Someone has a PhD offer…

June 13, 2010

…but it’s not me. Read on, as the rest is not as predictable as you might think…

So I got home after work yesterday to find a letter from the college and I thought, hmm what could this be. I never get letters from college. Even for the interview of my PhD proposal the letter never turned up and I had to call the admin office to find out if I was supposed have heard from them by then. They emailed the letter instead as apparently it had gone missing in the post the first time around.

Anyway, so I started trying to guess what the letter was in the split seconds before I opened it. It couldn’t be a library fine or ‘return overdue books’ type, as I hardly ever use the college library (or any for that matter).  It could have been something about  the course nearly ending, some forms to fill in about finishing, and then I ran out of ideas.

So I opened the letter and I did a quick scan. The words I saw first were ‘we’re pleased to inform you…offer of a place…PhD’ and I was like Oh yeh, cool, I totally forgot that I was to have found out around this time if I had been offered a place. The funding I knew I hadn’t got but I was still supposed to find out if I was offered a normal place.

I then read the rest, ‘your area of study will be…Understanding Amateurism..’ what?! lol I was totally confused. I was like hmm maybe they adjusted the title a bit, but this much? No that can’t be right. I read on ‘your provisional supervisors will be ‘Anne something  and Dee something’. I didn’t recognise the names at all. Again they could have decided to just change my potential supervisors too. But this was a bit too much. I came to the conclusion that they had obviously made a mistake and sent me someone elses letter! How mean! I got all pleased, and now I have to wait and find out if I’ve been rejected or not. Imagine if the person who was supposed to have got this letter (even though my name address were completely correct on this one) has my letter. If that person is reading right now (the chances I know are very slim) then please let me know what it says lol.

Now I have to wait till Monday to call up the research admin office and I have a feeling they might not tell me over the phone. Annoying!

OpenCV with external camera – check

June 9, 2010

I’ve managed to get the external camera working with Processing and OpenCV on my mac. I thought it would be more difficult as I tried it about a month or so ago and it didn’t work. Oh well, it works now so I don’t care. I hope it just carries on working right up to the end of the show.

This image shows that the ‘index’ needs to be changed to indicate which camera input to work with when there is more than one available:

Screenshot from Processing interface indicating parameters

Screenshot from Processing interface indicating parameters

So this is one thing ticked off my To Do list.

I’ve also now been booked onto a slot for using the laser machine next week. If all goes to plan I’ll have a nice panel to use for my plinth which should then match with my sculpture as the same pattern will be cut into it. That way there is some correlation between the two and will be easier to identify that they are part of the same installation.

I’m also slightly concerned about how heavy the sculpture will be. It is meant to be wall mounted but the brackets I am thinking of using may not hold it up. Not to mention screwing the front (pattern cut) panel to the back (blank) panel.

I’ve just been reading that if drilling, a fixed or lathe drill is best for metal. For aluminium a fast speed rate but slow feed rate is best. Which means that the drill bit should be spinning really fast but should be pushing down through the material relatively slowly (I think). Handy info on drilling can be found here:

Ideally it would be good to do this at the 3D resource center but then I’d have to leave the parts there through the week and won’t be able to do anything in between the Wednesdays. Not really an option.

There’s a DIY type shop at the corner of my road. I think I’ll pop in there to ask them what kind of stuff they can do. They might even be able to cut all my plinth parts for me and then I can assemble those at home and hopefully (if my car is fixed in time) drive it to uni when needed.  When it comes to this stuff I haven’t really got much experience. I’ve only ever really put some flat-packed wardrobes up. They came out well and are still standing so it’s a good sign I say. Oh and theres the random wood works I did when in school – that was fun. But back then it didn’t matter so much if things didn’t line up all that straight.

I’m also going to have a rifle through some of last year’s show plinths at uni. There might be something that can be recycled.

I think I should sleep now, I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be another looong day.

At a standstill and not in Istanbul

June 5, 2010

I went in to uni last Wednesday for our show meeting. We made some progressive decisions about catalogues (Susan Mortimer, online student, will be making these for us in the style of her MAil Art Zines ), postcards (Jean-Baptiste Di Marco, Erasmus student, has designed us a very nice logo and followed through by creating a Digital Arts branding for posters and postcards, etc), space available and space needed.

Ina (full-timer), has been the most useful person to have on board this year. She’s been very thorough, getting all the info in and making sure everyone is getting their info, payments, images, copy, etc to her. Shes been documenting the process of getting the show up and running on her blog and lol I just read she’s having nightmares about the show. Ina – at least you’re not having Daymares!

Yeh Daymares, that’s what I’m having. And every now and then I’ll have a mini panic attack when I remember something I have forgotten needs doing. Because I keep forgetting things, when I DO remember something it feels like a bit of a miracle. I’ve been told that my forgetfulness (and now clumsiness) is due to lack of sleep. Sounds about right to me!

It’s all happening now and its a bit crazy but at the same time I don’t think it’s bad as we’re all taking it seriously and contributing as much as we can.

Anyway, so back to Wednesday…

After our show meeting I had a bit of a frustrating experience in the college 3D workshop (a bit like a technology design department) where my mdf has not been laser cut even though its been sitting there for weeks and I had been told it would be done soon.

Being unable to come in to ensure an actual slot is booked for me on the laser cutting machine (the timetable goes up on a Friday and is filled up straight away by a queue of waiting students) I was told I’d be ‘fitted in’.

However, it is now that time of the year where the staff are understandably run off their feet helping out the BA students as their show is just around the corner (a week before ours).  As a result the pressure seems to be too much.

Going in to check if my MDF was ready to collect I was first told to wait around for possibly a couple of hours, which I was prepared to do! And then when another student turned up, I was told there was no time for my mdf to be cut.  I left with nothing done and with my ears full of nonsense I did not need to hear. Something needs to be done regarding the current system for signing  for slots. It is not accommodating at all for any part-time students. Knowing most students come in on a Wednesday, the staff are still unwilling to make changes to their rotas. You can probably tell I was not very pleased that day. I could go on about it for a while but I haven’t even got the time to dwell on it.

I wanted to use the above-mentioned mdf as part of my plinth, which I’ve learnt is going to cost me maybe £400 if I have it custom-made. I could order a standard one for maybe £200 but that will still need modification to suit my basic show needs. Surely things shouldn’t be this difficult.

Another problem I am now faced with is not being able to use a PC for my projection. I had set-up processing and installed the OpenCV library but kept getting errors when trying to run the file. After some research and asking Leon Barker for his expert help, it seems there is a bug when using Windows XP for which there is no reliable fix. So now I’m back to having to use a Mac (which I may not be able to get). I’ve put my name down on a list for a Mac Mini (so that it fits in the plinth) but this is not guaranteed. Therefore, I might need to make other arrangements at the last-minute! This is not great at all! Ergh.

Anyway, so yeh that wasn’t a good day for me. But I came home, napped off my headache and am looking on the bright side, I’m alive and nothing that terrible has really happened, Thank God.

Something to cheer me up – I finally got round to sorting through some of my photos from Istanbul. I’m really into architectural shots and so most of them are focussing on details in decor or structure. There were so many mosques so I was surrounded by an abundance of patterns, both geometric and arabesque. Not to mention beautiful scenery and locations along the river.

Here are a few of the photos I managed to take:

Blue Mosque detail

Blue Mosque detail

Courtyard of Blue Mosque

Courtyard of Blue Mosque

Fountain in courtyard of Blue Mosque

Fountain in courtyard of Blue Mosque

Gold dome of external fountain

Gold dome of external fountain

Geometric pattern made with inlaid mother of pearl - cabinet doors within Topkapi palace

Geometric pattern made with inlaid mother of pearl - cabinet doors within Topkapi palace

Exterior walls of the Harem covered with tiles (Topkapi palace)

Exterior walls of the Harem covered with tiles (Topkapi palace)

Decorative patterns within the Haghia Sophia

Decorative patterns within the Haghia Sophia

Mosque on the edge of the river bank along the Bosphorous

Mosque on the edge of the river bank along the Bosphorous

I’ve been soo inspired by my visit there that I’m already thinking of a series of paintings based on the Iznik tiles. It will be a nice way to unwind and keep the creative juices flowing after the MA. It will be a less pressured project and will probably take much longer but it’ll be so much more relaxing not having a deadline. Can’t wait.

Oh and the water-jet cut aluminium has been ordered but won’t arrive till the 15th. That gives me time to do the essay, sort out using the processing code to work with an external camera, build a plinth (that has not been laser-cut) with shelves and a glass top, find or make some polyhedron models for user-interaction on the plinth, oh and I nearly forgot, cut out more mirror card for a side item (possibly to hang on a spare bit of wall in the show).

Now you know why I’m having those Daymares!

Being unable to come in to ensure an actual slot is booked for me on the machine (the timetable goes up on a Friday and is filled straight away by a queue of waiting students) as I am only ever in on a Wednesday, I was told I’d be fitted in.