The beginning of the work started with the ending of a narrative project earlier in the year. The idea of a fabricated place with a sense of history. Upon reflection creating the narratives and histories reminded me of childhood, constructing dens, playing games and imagining whole other worlds. These were the first moments away from parents; dens the first secrets kept from others, the novelty of personal space. Hiding places embody a fragility in their physicality as do the imaginations of the children that created them; a gap in the structure could ruin the illusion instantly.
When considering earlier forms of personal space it became apparent that one of the earliest experiences of it was when ones eyes were closed, left only with the self or consciousness, though this too could be broken by exterior forces especially when, through age, the imagination becomes less vivid and populated by 'adult' issues and worries. When the wider world starts to permeate childhood there is a death of magic and in it's place is science, greater forces than parents become apparent and there is very little meaning to any of it without a god. This left me with a feeling of the direction that I wished to explore further, how can I progress through a point of tension that neutralises my own creativity? Where can I find meaning?
After reading Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf I was left with a wealth of information that captured the fullness of life for the single day that the narrative spans.
Woolf's desire to capture the essensce of thought, the human experience of life, led to her stream-of-consciousness style of writing, typical of modernist literature. There are often moments where the larger conrete happenings of the narrative were discarded for the smaller abstract details where reality dissolves and only single ideas remain. There was a loss of character and one's self whilst reading the book and it was this that interested me, that these human perceptions are lost in the mind and rarely make their way out of peoples consciousness, that all these peoples subjective lives can never be experienced by another.
With the idea of the isolated consciousness in mind I considered how Woolf's characters dealt with their interior and exterior lives.
At this point I thought of how our bodies are shells or storage for our minds. Descartes said "I think therfore I am", I can't know that anybody else is consciouss, much like a container with an unknown content. A wooden box seemed an appropriate form to experiment with, it has connotations of crates and storage, the wood reflecting the organic nature of our own shells. I created the box in such a way that there appeared to be no way of taking the panels off and getting in.I began to read Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness which furthered my ideas about the interior and exterior. Sartre thought that you, the being, became trapped by 'bad faith' or self deception. Sartre describes bad faith as defining one's self by their occupation, for example a waiter. You shouldn't think that being employed as a waiter makes you a waiter. You are still a being, a being who is playing at being a waiter. By not defining one's self you have the potential to be anything. At this point I realised that the cube represented a being who had been forcefully defined, forced into a box and that bad faith was very much a curtain that hid the being.
Minimalism seemed like a relevant movement to inform the use of the cube, especially Sol Le Witts claiming that the object was unimportant but the idea was not. Le Witt buried a cube as a way of saying goodbye to minmalism which felt quite relevant, that the object, walls and pressures that force our being into a form can be discarded and be symbolicly returned to the earth for time to take it it's toll. Minimalism's claims of pure experience were just paint on a surface, the paint still hid something. From this I realised that art cannot present us with something pure in any sense but can provide us the means to think about what that experience could be like and that the imagination is still engaged in those 'what-if?' moments.
I feel that my piece reflects the tension that I feel as an artist and in society as we progress through postmodernism and strive for a new stage of art, which seems very much hidden and constricted by the black curtains and boxes of the work. I feel that the work requires both an acceptance that it is simply a collection of materials that means nothing, and the imagination of a child that makes it anything.
Images to come.