The Fictitious: Re-Present

Also wanted to share my excitement, to say that my piece World Wide Web was accepted and has recently featured in the Crocus Gallery Exhibition 16th January – 26th February: The Fictitious curated by Re-Present.

http://backlit.org.uk/the-fictitious-bryony-stringer/

The link above is a review of the show by fellow Backliteer, in which she is very complimentary to my piece:

“Perhaps I missed the meanings behind quite a few of the visual works, but I was frequently at a loss as to how they connected with the concept of the fictitious. In my opinion, the three strongest works of the exhibition were World Wide Web by Rachel Fenwick, I Hate Writing by Lucy Orbell and Untitled by Kerry Burns.”

World Wide Web by Rachel Fenwick is a photo album containing the private photos of a stranger who chose to make her photo album publicly available on Facebook. The story told is not one that belongs to the teller. The arrangement of photos, and the inclusion of a few that weren’t, in fact, part of the original digital album, presents a partially fictionalised life sequence. The work also raises questions about the public and the private; whether by printing and pasting these photos into an album, the artist has somehow “stolen” privacy, even though the digital album was made publicly available. At what point does the truth of someone else’s life become fair game for the creative energies of a stranger? Can privacy be challenged when it’s being fictionalised? To what extent is it required to be altered before it’s no longer an invasion of privacy?”

I can’t say more than that really? Bryony summed it up pretty well for me there! I have to say it was a lovely feeling seeing people pick up the album and question it’s content. I got some fantastic comments on the night as well as a lovely Amaretto Hot chocolate!

Nothing Like the Privacy of Your Own Home

I’m annoyed at myself for not writing sooner about the exhibition piece that developed from the box I began making in Maurice’s Barn. Following from the last post, I was unsure about the image inside. I had hoped to include a photograph of a private image, one that you would never upload onto the internet; a naked image perhaps or of someone particularly sad; maybe crying. By displaying a photograph using these most intimate moments I had hoped to show that the internet world is mostly just a mask, a representation of real life, no matter how many smiley images we put online there are always some things we keep hidden inside the home; behind that keyhole.

I found it difficult to decide how I wanted the viewer to react towards the image. I found that an image of someone crying was hard to come by- given the reason I wanted the image- no one puts an image of themselves online crying. Therefore I have limited myself- an image I could create myself I know would be too staged. A naked image I reflected would result in an attitude towards a “dirty box.” Therefore I began to think about the concept of the mundane home, the unexciting life we wouldn’t publicize, the ordinary behind the keyhole- our private life that only the select few see.

An artist I want to mention here is Manfredi Beninati. He was a great influence in the making of this piece. I saw his piece “To Think of Something” years ago whilst at 6th form at the Liverpool Biennial. http://liverpoolbiennial.co.uk/artists/all/85/manfredi-beninati/  The piece was housed secretly behind a billboard. It had glass in the bottom corner for the viewer to look through. Me as the viewer peered in to see the installation of a home setup. With my piece Nothing Like the Privacy of your Own Home I wanted the viewer to feel how I felt, that they were being allowed to look into something secret, feel that childlike guilt that you were looking into something you weren’t supposed to. When I saw people peering in at the Private View I felt had achieved the interactive role of spying!

However after receiving some feedback, I’m not sure I fulfilled everything I had set out to with this piece. My tutor felt that the photograph did not fulfill its role as an actively spying feature, perhaps he is right that the image is too stagnant to feel like you’re a trespassing on someone’s personal life. The keyhole aspect could also be greatly improved. A whole door or room is needed to play out the part out.

Moment of Clarity

Note from my journal when I had a moment earlier today:

Just having a think about my practice, how I’m feeling, I’m trying to think of ways to define it. Human activity? The spaces we inhabit? Trying to find links. Privacy is a key issue. I feel painting v photography was an important question to ask in my practice. I needed to ask it to further my making process. I don’t even feel like I fully resolved it but it felt right to ask it. The home is still very much at the forefront of of my thoughts. I am linking the role of Facebook into the privacy we no longer have, or have given away maybe. Layering of lives is very important to me which links to the vintage photographs and albums, they are ways of showing our existence. Facebook is a way of showing our existence. Records and archives do this too. Searching for people has always been possible it is just easier and more accessible now. 

Would also like to note the book i’m reading right now which is amazing, called Home by Julie Myerson. It tells the story of the all the people who ever lived in her 130 year old house in Clapham, London. All the personal stories which went on there and her voyage in finding them. Another great source is the BBC’s documentary Supersize World. What a program!  It makes you think about the 7 billion people that now live in the world and how we are all clustered together in such small areas.

Catfish

I was just about to put a blog post up about the painting I have been working on in the last week when my house mate asked me to watch a film with her. It’s a film that someone suggested I watch after I gave my presenting context presentation a few weeks ago. It’s the film: CATFISH. What a film! So relevant to my current practice and has really got me thinking about some ideas I’d had not long ago.

In the film we follow the real life story of, at first we are lead to believe, an 8 year girl who paints and becomes friends with the narrator of the film who is a photographer. The narrator is spun a web of lies which goes on for over 8 months as he becomes friends with what he believes is an entire family, forming a romantic relationship with the little girls’ 19 year old sister. That’s a brief description trying not to give too much away!

The film explores the role of social networking and the extent at which fantasy can become reality through the means of the web. The online world is indeed a world of its own; separate world from reality. You can put anything up there real or not. You can access a world of information about others. Create an entirely different person from yourself online. Whether it’s making an entirely different self or maybe just an improved self, only the good points?

The film was so well made, it made we think about the internet the whole way through, through snippets of Google maps, Google maps arrows and finding houses through Google maps and being able to find information about people and events all so easily. There was one part of the film where a physical letter was sent between the two people. This got me thinking about the physicality of a photograph again.

So think this may mean I might be making something new for my show and listen tomorrow! Revert back to the facebook vintage photo album.

What’s the point of Painting if you can just take a Photograph?

As a response to my painting workshop I’ve created a hybrid of my own. I have used the references I took to the workshop- Turner and Shaw and used them as a basis. I have also incorporated the notion that my practice is questioning: Whether or not there is any value in painting when photography is so easily accessible? By including a photograph I hope to ask this question. I have extended the image beyond the photograph; creating an extensive viewpoint? I think including the image in this painting has been a lot more successful than the Lisbon painting. I feel those images got lost in the painting, where as with this one I feel it has blended in well. I have tried to use a Turner style sky within the painting. I also used wood, getting back to a surface I really enjoy working on, much better than canvas in my opinion. Also I thought I couldn’t paint skies! Not a bad attempt I don’t think!

What’ve you had for your tea?

Another obsession I’m beginning have, now I’ve begun to Facebook stalk to the extreme, is the amount of images people put up online of their tea/dinner! (I do this too I’m very hypocritical!) The question my work is beginning to ask, on a basic level, is whether or not there is any need for the medium of paint now the world of photography has become so accessible? The question I asked in my presenting context presentation was whether; if the 11th century man had had the means to take a photograph rather than spend painstaking hours on a painting would he have opted for the camera? It is an interesting question because obviously even now in the 21st Century artists still prefer the medium of paint. By painting an image make it more valuable? This is another question I am throwing around in my work. So flipping this again I then I ask the question; if we did not have the means to photograph our dinner/tea so easily would we then sit down and create a painting of  it?

Facebook Stalking

As well as the painting, I’ve been doing a lot of research considering the privacy of our images on the internet on sites such as Flickr and Facebook. The artist I saw in Amsterdam; Erik Kessels, had an exhibition previous to Album Beauty called 24 Hrs in Photos. What an amazing exhibition! What he did was print off all the images uploaded onto the net in a 24 hour period and put them all in the exhibition space at FOAM gallery creating an avalanche of images. I particularly liked the interactive element his work has! You could physically wade through the images! This made me think about how easy it is to access the private photos of strangers on the internet now. So I started invaded peoples lives! I clicked from friend to friend to friend on facebook so that in the end I had no idea who that person was. I then clicked on their photo albums, some were private, but most I could access so easily! I began saving these images trying the method friend to friend to friend to get more images, I saw the child just been born, I saw proms, I saw a man in a mankini, I saw family Christmases. Precious private images I could access so easily! Here’s some of the images I found:

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