My current art practice is exploring the effects of social anxiety that I experience in my daily life. I have used video to show a direct and immediate documentation of the aspects of social anxiety and how I feel and perceive them. The work on show today investigates my experience of two different aspects of anxiety. When I’m in public I have an increase sense of awareness that moves my mind uncontrollably into the fast lane. In comparison to when I am in my safe zone of my bedroom, a moment of calm amongst the anxiety. This is not a just a time of relaxation from the social stresses but it forces me to relive the passage of time that I am unable to consciously experience.
I have found that during my artistic journey I have learnt more about myself and ways to express and communicate. Art has helped me personally to reach parts of my unconscious and gain a sense of control through understanding. I hope this show of work can give you an understanding of myself and the effects of social anxiety.
5 Contextual Posts:
- Francesca Woodman – Documentational photography exploring herself and the relationship with her body and the space she is in.
- Bruce Nauman– videos about identity and the physical and mental relationship and exhibition set up.
5 Documentational posts:
As an artist, I have continued to learn about myself as a person and express areas that I didn’t realise I was holding on to. I have struggled in my work to pin-point what it is that I am trying to say, however recently I have come to the realisation that my work has always be revolving around one particular subject; my social anxiety. Towards the beginning of this project I was trying to express the idea that I had multiple selves (as a result of anxiety changing the way that I act around people and in certain situations). I produced a series of paintings that reflected different aspects of myself that I felt was important in my life. Towards the end of this project, I started to realise what was more important; it wasn’t the concept of multiple selves, instead it was the idea of living with social anxiety that was paramount. I am including this part of my project as the start of my 5 Key posts because it has played a very important role within my work and how I have got to where I am today.
I received an extension after this point and felt it was crucial that I get back in touch with myself and where I want to take my practice. I experimented with blind drawings as a way to bring my sub-conscious self forward. This idea was informed by my dissertation which was researching how art can be used as therapy; the key point being that art is a tool to access the unconscious. I found it quite difficult at first to draw so loosely but it was quite liberating not to worry about the finished product and to just feel the drawing. I really enjoyed creating the blind drawings and felt as if each drawing was a representation of my unconscious self at that specific time. These blind drawings are a key moment for my practice because it led me into film and photography; the speed at which I was able to produce these drawings and the amount of information that was in them made me realise that I wanted that immediacy in my work. The time taken to produce a painting, or detailed drawing etc meant that the original meaning got altered and almost lost through the process of creating (often due to my lack of self-confidence which is linked to the social anxiety).
I’ve used photography as a way to document myself in my bedroom and as a way to explore the relationship between my mentality and the space I am in, inspired by artists such as Woodman, Calle, and Goldin. My photography mostly consists of self- portraits. After the ‘my bed’ piece that was created in the ‘multiple self portraits’, I became aware of the importance of my bedroom in terms of my social anxiety. I have taken photographs of myself on my bed, shadows in my room, in my bathroom and film stills which ar explained further in the next section. The main photograph that I have taken and has had an effect on my work is the ‘my bed’ photograph. Following that it is the breakdown in bed/ falling series. I will include both pieces in as part of my Photography section.
I made a film of myself whilst waiting for a bus experiencing anxiety – at the time I was trying to identify what it was I was doing in reaction to the anxiety. I noticed that I felt like I couldn’t control my body and its movements- I felt very fast and jumpy and my attention was caught by every little noise and movement. Alternatively, whilst at home and feeling anxiety about leaving my bedroom and thinking about the effect it has on my life I felt the opposite. I was drained and exhausted from all the overwhelming senses- it manifested itself in a slow, apathetic and distant persona. Having a mental issue like anxiety or depression causes one to be dominated by their own mind and self. I’ve noticed that due to these thoughts and my way of life, I am always conscious of myself and how I feel. I’m tired of being my only thought and problems. It’s quite a narcissistic disability. Within the slow videos of myself, my face becomes distorted, this reflects the way in which I perceive things when in a state of anxiety. Everything starts to feel too close and too overwhelming and too distorted and difficult to separate. The videos emulate a typical ‘bad day’ for me and this is what I’m trying to express. its a difficult subject for me to discuss, my anxiety and state of min, however through this video I feel like. I am communicating what it is like.
My practice has enlightened me to what I have been wanting to say with my art and it helped me to express in words – I believe I experienced what Natalie Rogers calls ‘The Creative Connection’. By being able to create something that I had known all along but hadn’t been able to access until now, it gave me a powerful rush of emotion that I wanted to write and speak. I created some poems in relation to some work I had done and felt better for it – if there was any confusion of misunderstanding with the art I made, my words paired with it perfectly. I originally had the idea of using my words as part of the film, to appear word by word as if spoken.
My choice of monitor’s to show my video on was a very large flat screen tv monitor, two slightly different old style 15″ monitors or a small flat screen monitor. I have made the decision to use the small flat screen monitor because the format of my videos have a black border and will look too small on the 15″ and too large on the biggest.
I will have one monitor on top of a plinth in the centre of a wall, and a series of images on the adjacent wall.
I have edited my videos to work as one; I have included my fast paced walking videos as well as one slow video paired with music, also a poem that I have read out loud.
In the video, I have used fading transitions so that the viewer gets taken gently into the different videos without sudden changes. I have paired the music so that the fast and loud part matches the fast paced videos and vice versa for the slow. At the end I fade out the visual image of the film and audio to see a plain black screen and then hear a poem being read out by myself. I chose to use a black screen so that the viewer can focus entirely on my voice, each breath and word I speak and the meaning behind each line. I thought about not including my writing, or including it in the style of viewing text- but ultimately the act of having to speak and record myself is an important part of this piece as my issue is speaking. I felt it was something that I needed to do. Also, for the viewer, I believe it is incredibly effective for the experience of the work to actually hear the artists voice and the physical communication of the self-expression.
The video then loops straight back to the start of the fast videos.
The poem that I have used is ‘Time’, I chose to include this particular poem because I originally wrote it in response to noticing the speed change that I experience in my mind when going through an anxiety attack or anxiety at home. This ties in the two videos and is another self-expression.
After looking at my video’s (fast paired with slow), I thought it was lacking something for the fast walking video. I tried it along with some music and felt it increased the sense of the over-whelming speed.
As well as this music, I have included audio for the end of the video where I am speaking one of my poems. I decided to use the “Time” poem because it ties in the two videos quite well.
As well as videos, I have also got a number of photographs that I may exhibit. I am torn between the fall series, film stills, the bed photograph and the blurred photograph.
I think in terms of mounting the photographs, I really like the idea of a float mount. I think it looks neat, contemporary and professional. In order to make this I’d need a backing mat, mount board, and to make a wooden frame. To attach the frame to the wall I will use a French cleat.
I have printed three film stills that I think work well together and assembled them to a foam board with a float mount technique. I have used wood to stand the photographs out and make a shadowing effect.
The fall series has been printed on A2 size photo paper but unfortunately there has been a printing mistake because it has developed black vertical lines down across it all. This needs to be re-printed and I will hopefully be able to use the University’s print shop to do this. I like them at that size but I’d also like to try a smaller size. As a piece, I think the prints at A2 size work really nicely but if I want to have any other pieces in the exhibition as well then I think I will definitely need them to be smaller.
Not forgetting the photograph hanging off my bed. There is something I really like with this photograph, I think it might be because it played a huge role in helping me understand and think more about myself and the way I was living at that time. This photograph was taken on my iPhone and was a very immediate image that I captured whilst lying on my bed. I think the honesty in the photo is powerful; showing my bedroom, my belongings, my mess and my safe place (bed). I have looked at both colour and black and white for this photo and I think the black and white more effective.
SHOW BOTH HERE.
If I were to display this photograph I’d like to see how it would look at a size A1/A2 and on a mount board cut to size with a French cleat to add a gap and shadow.
Ways to hang photos that are more interesting. The contrast of fast and slow… contrast of standing and falling. How time changes and attacks arrive and leave but come back etc.
Wood block on top to act as ceiling. With two images on either side, spinning on its own accord. One side portrays a moment of standing, on top of my bed( safe place but also false sense of security) I’m up and ok but it’s all there still deep down. Then the next is tied to my bed, trapped in the consequences of anxiety.
I made this with these two images at different sizes – the bed photograph is slightly smaller which reflects the concept of feeling small when I’m trapped to my room/bed. The size reflects the psychological state.