Place Entry 13 - Reflection

I originally wanted to make a big splash, but the flex paste was hard to shape it to a long, tall splash since they would sort of deflate and droop down. It would take weeks for me to build it up bit by bit and let it dry every time. The thin resin did not look too good being the shard-like splash. I might have to rethink it next time. Maybe taking the time to shape it with flex paste is more worth it.

My artwork also looked more like a beach to some with the gold acrylic, maybe I should have added a bit more wave to the mellow part of it. The artwork’s minimal use of colours is not visible through the camera lens, and can only be seen in close-up. I should use a bit more colours to make them more prominent next time.

I mentioned that I wanted this journey to be beneficial to me emotionally, and it really did help me. When I was handling the resin and pouring it onto the canvas, it was hard to balance the canvas to get and equal spread of resin onto it. Being frustrated at the difficulties I faced doing my artwork made me feel frustrated at the subject of the problem – my family. Why can’t I do this or what am I doing wrong etc. Though I still managed to pull through. Reapplying the resin again and again forced me to think about how I can change my mindset try by try and be more than just a negative nagging person. Putting myself back into my past made me feel upset, but it also made me glad that I am about to face it. I feel stronger as a person and gaining the ability to shape out my complex problems, facing them head first. I now understand the nature of my place and feel grateful for having it. For this I am very thankful.

Place Entry 12 - Process

Overall structure:

Ø  Solid concrete-like wave (I was suggested to use it to represent the hard crash of a wave that hurts when hit by it, I liked that idea very much)

Ø  Resin for water (Poured layer by layer)

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I started to tape my canvas in case the resin will spill out. I used a cement-like paste mixed with mod podge to make a hump for the rising part of the wave at the top. I used white acrylic to paint everything white to avoid the canvas texture from showing.

I didn’t know if it was going to work but I wanted some of the small sprouting waves to emerge slightly out of the resin that I was going to pour. Nonetheless, it helped me grasp the angle of my wave. I thought it would look nice if it was tilted. I then shaped the wave with flex paste and modelling paste.

Next, I added some colours and poured the resin I mixed. I couldn’t document much of the process since a lot of tools were use and everything was scattered. I worried that the corrosive substance might go everywhere. Somehow, the colours were too clear and started to look like a rainbow. The colourful appearance seemed foreign to me since my anxiety attacks and episodes were full of unknown negative emotions. Rage, dread, fear, devastation etc. are too hard to put into colour without it coming out as magical and colourful. So I poured another layer of resin and reapplied blue and black. I subtly left a bit of red and green beneath to show a tad bit of variety in negative emotions in the wrath part, to show the complexity in what I feel during my episodes.

I added some small white strokes to create rushing water effect, like a ripple. Not sure how I might turn out but that was what I felt like doing at the time.

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After adding another layer and the darker colours, I tried using white and gold to create small and mellow wave forms. The gold really adds character to the energy.

I applied another layer of resin to serve as a final surface and darken the wrath part with a specialised colouring made for resin works. I pulled the tapes on the sides off and started to work on the color of the wave. I also used thin dried resin pieces to make shards of glass-like waves to make the whole work look fiercer, as if it is really to attack and engulf you.

After some finishing touches polishing the sides and wiping everything clean, my artwork is ready to be presented.

Place Entry 11 - Colour Improvements

I didn’t want the artwork to be just a body of water. I wanted it to carry feelings too. I think the mellow side can be of a lighter colour and the wrath part can be a deep dark blue or black. Other colours might include gold to represent my patience and tolerance when I am emotionally stable, and red for violent thoughts. I didn’t know what else to add so I had to start working to find out.

Place Entry 10 - Different Materials

Having the sketch settled I tried different materials to see which one can become the water. I used 9 different substance, including glue, cold enamel, epoxy resin, mod podge, modeling paste etc. Epoxy resin turned out to be the best one since it was transparent enough, dries well and mixes well with colours.

Place Entry 9 - Wave experiment and combined ideas

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To show how waves embody emotions, I went to a beach to observe the ocean waves. Sadly, it only does it’s own thing and I can’t inflict my own feelings or emotions onto the ocean, which is very different from my room. My room’s atmosphere almost bends to my will, if I’m calm it’s calm, if I’m upset everything goes maniacal. But ocean waves do have the slow hum of the water and the rumbling (almost numbing) feeling like my air-con and the average atmosphere of my room. This means I’m on the right track.

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I moved on to using a tub at my friend’s house. I used different ways to create patterns to mimic how I would feel when I’m feeling different intensities of anxiety or disturbance. I found that creating a wave and letting it crash onto the  edge of the tub makes a great splash effect. To me, anxiety can feel like a raging wave/ tsunami tha devastates the area. I realised I’ve also did a similar wave pattern in my flex paste model. I knew that I had to add this waveform into my artwork.

 

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I combined my ideas with the raging wave pattern from the tub experiment, Pia Fries’s heterogeneous composition and the energy-like representation of anxiety/ calmness. Hoping to come up with an overall design for my artwork, I drew some sketches. I tried using Pia’s style and used different brush strokes and colours but it didn’t make sense to me.

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But I finally settled with a design. A gradient from mellow to wrath, capturing the heterogeneous nature of my room on a single plate and allowing the wave to hang over above a person, seemingly capable of engulfing them. I need the wave to represent my emotions from a calm Friday night, to when my father suddenly comes in my room or when I remember something bad again. A big crash froman unseen force almost. Originally I wanted to show how my room comforts me, but now I wanted to show how it changes it’s atmosphere, and how it understands with empathy. This has to be it.

Some have suggested me to depict two wave crashing into each other. It would be very majestic, but to me, only my room has such a virtual wave. For the suggested two waves, not only my room, but the area outside that represents choas should be depicted as waves too. It would lose my room’s special function of being a comfortable place represented as a mellow/ calm wave. I would rather only have one big wave to show tht it’s special to me personally. Hopefully I can let others undertands my room’s most valuable ability ans feel what it can become, going along with me emotions to become the saddest place I know.

Place Entry 8 - Opening up

I was also asked why my room was the only place to feel sad in and why not use the whole house. I figured no one would understand my work or be able to help me if I don’t open up a bit. Pia Fries said so herself that she’s still finding her visual language and I agree that I’m doing the same, but I won’t be able to if I’m not honest with myself or revisit some places.

 

Summary:

Family members aren’t nice – leaves me depressed always – my room as an escape from them – but close enough for me to feel the pain – anxiety attack

(see bold paragraph for main-point, skip the rest if you don’t want to hear someone’s meaningless rants)

 

My family has a history of telling lies and exaggerating stories to attack one another. My mom has had two divorces, the second one with my father, yet we still live together. To me the whole house has different sections that belong to different person. My room is my space. The living room is my father’s. My sister and mother have their own respective rooms. Somehow there is a negative aura that surrounds the house, like a rotting corpse.

 

 My father is a businessman and was never close with especially me, since I was/ am not as smart as my sister since a young age. He wasn’t too harsh, but it was obvious I wasn’t the favourite. He would look at me as if I was a bother and would be pissed at me about little things. I often retreat and tell my mom for me to be happier but the impression that he has never been a good (or at least nice) father never left.

 

The divorce made it worse since my mom would tell us what he did to her financially and emotionally that made us even more distant with him. She always told me horrible things she went through with both marriages, even the fact that she was a long term domestic abuse victim in her first marriage. She always cries, gets drunk and throws things while locking herself in her room. She even manipulates us a bit and automatically thinks of herself as the victim. She drowns herself in sorrow frequently and the mother I knew a long time ago never came back, even after 10 years now.

 

My sister is more of a sociopath who tell me she is self-centred and would act nice to take advantage of our father, whom she hates, for money. She would laugh and say, ‘you’re my sister but that doesn’t mean you’re of any importance you know,’ and I can only laugh along since I’m a bit numb. But at other times, she’s very nice. This makes me a bit psychotic to some degree.

 

All this made me slightly unnerved and demoralised. My mom told me that my dad’s mistress physically attacked her when she was pregnant with me with him absent. I immediately feel I was born in an environment without enough love. I feel bad for even typing that since I can’t blame them, that would be too mean of me. What do I know about sadness and sorrow? Many other families have it much worst, without food, straight up child abuse, or family members that don’t believe you when you told them you were raped. I, to this day, have no right to say that I can be upset. I even feel bad for telling my past since no one is obligated to hear them and that people might think that it’s a nuisance. But I know it’s ridiculous. Till this day, I still wonder so many times where my childhood went.

 

A 7-year-old child shouldn’t bare the weight of the adult world. I shouldn’t have been exposed to such horrible things. I was just a child. I should have been protected from these things. Yet, I still blame my self for having these thoughts, who am I to scorn my family? The gloominess isn’t that bad anyway and my sister is often supportive. I just ashamed to come across as ungrateful.

 

All this alone, putting aside school, the debt collectors, and interpersonal relationships, becomes too much to bare and I get anxiety attacks. Since we still live together, I am reminded every day of my past and the people involved. But when I go to my room, there’s a momentary pause. I get to rest for a bit a do what I want in my room. My room is less harmful emotionally and I don’t have to deal with the people or what happens outside too much. It’s distant enough to have my own space, but unfortunately, it’s close enough to the problem as well. Sometimes the memories keep rushing back in with no stimuli whatsoever. My room is a the classic ‘child’s room in a troubled home’. I’m totally fine outside and at school, but if I’m reminded of my past, the cloud of sorrow swallows me. It’s just that I can’t cry outside since I might become a nuisance. Sometimes people don’t take it nicely when you ruin their day all depressed. Therefore, my room is the only place where I can cry in. To let my guard down and just cry.

 

Now that I’ve opened up and calmed myself down, hopefully it will be easier to understand how I show my visual language later.

Place Entry 7 - Wave idea inspired by Pia Fries

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I was introduced to Pia Fries the artist by my teacher who said that her style might have a good influence on my work. I researched about the Swiss painter and delved into a whole new world of art. She creates these sculpture-like paintings by carving, scraping, reapplying, painting etc. to create different identities in her paintings. She emphasises on the physical materiality and forming surface structures that involves fluidity. In one of many interviews, she mentioned that she likes heterogeneous paintings. Heterogenous, meaning the involvement of all the different gestures or different parts on a plate. ‘It’s like an embodiment of energy,’ she said. I love this woman already. I love how she can visualise energy and encapsulate it with grace and style. This form of energy was exactly what I was feeling in my room. The heterogeneous factor helps give variation to a piece and gives it life. It gave me an idea to include the energy of when I’m upset and when I’m calm into my artwork. The contrast of it might be helpful.

Place Entry 6 - Comfort idea – Water

Before doing anything, I had to do some research on water. By observation, water is free-formed and easy to manipulate/ react to impact, creating motion and movement. This gives it life almost which I have mentioned my room being the same. The constant movement of a wave almost has a calming effect with my thoughts drifting away, leaving me lost in the moment.

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I then did some research on famous artworks that include the subject of a body of water or a wave. Including The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai, Ocean by Vija Celmins, The Monk by the Sea by Caspar David Friedrich.  

My findings were incredible. All artists used water waves to inflict emotion/ faith. For example, Ocean was portrayed as sorrow or uneasiness. The Great Wave off Kanagawa even inspired other forms of art, namely the orchestral composition ‘The Sea’ by La Mer. The energy given off by the water can represent people’s emotions. This is exactly how I feel when I am alone in my room. When I am calm, the atmosphere of my room remains calm. When something happens that causes my anxiety to increase, the atmosphere rises followingly. It even seems like my emotions amplify in my room, like a wave that reacts violently when it encounters a cliff or an iceberg. Everything intensifies. Waves and my room trigger similar ways of feeling emotions, like they are both embracing my emotions both figuratively and literally. The air in my room engulfs me and letting me indulge in my own thoughts.

 

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With this direction, I wanted to create my own wave to see how it matches up with the personality of my room. I used flex paste and shaped it into a wave vortex sort of thing with a ruler to see how goes. It still felt a bit off since I personally thought it didn’t look nice and the concrete-like substance wasn’t fooling anyone. I wanted it to look more like water or at least give off a nice flowy feel to show the comfort provided by my room and how my emotions are cared for/ amplified exclusively in my room in the form of a continuous wave. To be honest I was a bit frustrated. Luckily, I was enough to be given some guidance after my mid-term presentation, which turned out to be a big turning point.

Place Entry 5 - Breakthrough (water and current)

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After being stuck in a rut, my trip to Ocean Park gave me a breakthrough. In one of the aquariums, I was fascinated by the large fish tanks full of fish. It is as if I could see the water’s current with the school of fish swimming in one direction. I felt very at peace that is somewhat very familiar. It is at that moment that I realised that my room gives off the same calming feeling.

Excited about my recent findings, I proceeded to address the similarities between the aquarium and my room:

  • They usually are in a one directional flow/ movement

  • Both enclosed space (what happens inside, remains inside)

  • Both capable of extracting emotion/ being an emotional place (my room being the only place that can make me feel relaxed enough to unleash deep sorrow)

  • They both made me feel like I belong there, a strange homely feeling

  • Easy to be left with my thoughts, isolating myself from reality, like a time warp

After finding so many similarities, I felt confident that water is a good direction to develop more. By connecting comfort and water, the comfort idea was formed.

Place Entry 4 - Adapting the wind current idea

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­I mentioned that my air-con is always on. It is special since it gives my room a gentle humming sound and sort of gives subtle motions though wind to my room. I thought of a way to document this through photographs. I idlily stuck strips of paper and some yarn onto the vents of my air-con. I took hundreds of photos and tried to see if I feel anything or if I can map something out, not knowing what I was doing and thought it was kind of weird. I looked at it, whilst feeling the cold breeze. ‘Isn’t this constant wind motion similar to being hugged or embraced?’ I though. Like the air was wrapped around me, having a presence as if the whole chunk of air is the physical/ emotional entity of my room. As abstract as it is, I unknowingly drew it out a couple of weeks ago, meaning that there is a certain importance of it to my work. It was definitely how I viewed my room to have such a lively presence with the help of my air-conditioner.

However, I got stuck again not knowing how I could explain why it has such significant or identify how I came to that conclusion. This remained for a few days.

Place Entry 3 - Scratched ideas

The barrier idea was sprouted from my blanket into a physical representation of my duvet fort, imagining how I might build something big to mimic my blanket in a nice steam-punk way. I did not do any further developing since it seemed a bit off. Reflecting on why I did not choose this idea was because I did not do much experimentations on it. It was plain thought and a classic case of doing things rash. Besides, I did not feel confident or feel like it was what I wanted to convey as mentioned earlier, the urge to do my room justice. It was not strong enough. Therefore, I decided to abandon the idea. Though it is a good reminder to do things thoroughly so I much document it properly.

Place Entry 2 - Brainstorming

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I had to move on to finding inspirations to start building up a meaning or what I am going to portray. I took advice to take some photos to document the physical structure of my room, such as the size of my bed, where everything is located, where I out my essentials and how I personalised my room. To me my room was comfortable and very personalised like my own den.   

Other than that, I sketched patterns and try to place myself into the sketches of my room to try to convey how I felt as I am in my room in my natural habitat. I realised that I often use an energy-like flow to represent my room’s atmosphere. I did not know at the time, but I will be crucial to my findings.

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Shortly after, I tried to list the things I am drawn to in my room, something that is special to me. One of them is my air conditioner. I never turn it off since I need it cool my room down so that I can dive in my duvet all year round. Second would be my blanket, which instinctively serves as a barrier to me. I did not know the reason why at the time, but I was positive it was something about security and guarding my own territory. Since I only cry in my room, I felt like it was the only place I could cry in. I can only be totally vulnerable in my room. Still, I did not know why.

Place Entry 1

Upon given the topic ‘place’ for a project, I had some difficulties in choosing what kind of place I would be comfortable doing. I thought of using Hong Kong as a city or my secondary school since they are a large part of my identity and who I am. Though I had the impression that my place should be somewhere consistent and somewhere you go to when feel a specific emotion.  I was strangely compelled to do my room and thought it would be easier for me to study my room thoroughly due to convenience, to understand what that strange sense of attraction I have to my room. It is as though I had to uncover something or unveil something about myself, so I decided to treat this project as a way to help me grasp what my room as a “place” really means to me.

I never had a place that had a meaning to be honest since I have moved 6 times in my lifetime. Taking this project to heart could probably benefit me emotionally. One’s room should be a haven and a place to hide, especially when I often need to hide from the harsh reality that is my lonely existence in this world inevitable of death. However, there is a certain numbing feeling given by my room that really connect to me as a person and even overpowers my identity as a Hong Konger or my precious secondary school memories, as if it craves my attention. I feel most obligated to direct the word ‘place’ to it so that I can get closure and do it justice.