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A Similar Page

Debbie Cook

June 22nd, 2017

With six short stories as a starting point, A Similar Page was a group show at the Horse Hospital, featured ten visual communicators from the Reader Elective. United by an interest in the written word and the power of stories to connect, each member of the group has applied their own voice to a chosen text using the pages as a springboard for exploration and research. A dissection of sorts, each student has undertaken a process of un-ravelling and re-ravelling the texts, to reveal and visualise an interpretation that converses with the story.

A Similar Page, 28 - 30 March 2017, The Horse Hospital, Colonnade, London, WC1N 1JD

Led by Debbie Cook, Ken Hollings, Richard Bevan with guest tutors Jennifer Nightingale, Joe Pochododzaj, Mariana Sameiro and guests speakers Vicki Bennett and Cathi Unsworth

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Antipode, Laura Copey, Video installation, Dimensions variable

Laura Copsey
H G Wells – The Remarkable Case of Davidson’s Eyes

What first attracted you to the particular short story you chose and was that the reason you chose it?

The story is clearly a fiction but is written in the style of a factual account referencing scientific experiments and a real-life island on the opposite side of the world. Exploring the borders of fact and fiction is an interest of mine and I felt the narrative gaps (centered around place and story telling) could be developed into a work.

Was there anything about the story that you found unhelpful or restrictive?

The story was written in 1895 but is surprisingly contemporary in terms of language, and the themes of disconnection and reality have relevance to the present - so no!

What kind of research did you do?

Initially my research centred around methods that people believe can facilitate a shift in vision. I looked at the spiritual applications including astral projections (Nazca lines) and more scientific/military modes such as remote viewing and sensory deprivation. Early on I watched a number of YouTube videos and noted that all seemed to offer to teach or guide the viewer in some way. It was from this realisation that I wanted to develop a voice over to guide the viewer on a dislocated journey.

What did you struggle with?

The work led on from an earlier piece called ‘Super Forecaster’, which is similar in aesthetic but conceptually is completely different to ‘Antipode’. I possibly had too much footage and made multiple edits, eventually excluding most aspects that suggested the figure or real-life representation. The final result was very graphic in nature and it wasn’t until I learned about the ‘Ganzfeld Effect’, an aspect of sensory deprivation that can facilitate hallucinations, that I settled on this language and refined it via numerous edits exploring the pace.

Was there a particular ‘breakthrough’ moment – and if so, what was it?

The island referenced in the text is the Antipode Island - the word ‘Antipode’ literally means ‘opposite’, and when I realised that the Antipode Island is almost directly opposite to the location of our exhibition (The Horse Hospital) I was set on more coherent pathway to realise the piece. I wanted to visually shift between these locations in the manner that Davidson shifts in the text and this led to the development of the double projection as two locations and the duality of dark and light between time zones.

What was the most significant thing said to you during the crits?

There were several references offered to me in crits that pushed my thinking – the work of Janet Cardiff, Julian House and Elizabeth Price were all suggested, and looking at their works helped guide my thinking and push my ambition. Generally I was very grateful for the constructive and critical comments in the crits, and the group was very generous with their feedback as viewers, which helped me refine and more clearly communicate my intentions.

What was it about the Reader Elective approach that you will take forward with you?

This project is the first time I have ever decisively responded to a text. Text often is involved in my process, but The Reader has significantly helped shape this into a more coherent approach and given me confidence to explore my visual language as a style of graphic poetry. It has been a really great experience and opened new avenues for research, process and experimentation.

Does Freedom Exist?, Lily Jones, Sound and image

Lily Jones
Virginia Woolf – The Mark on the Wall

What first attracted you to the particular short story you chose and was that the reason you chose it?

My work and contextual interests focus on topics surrounding gender politics and social structures. The story resonated with me due to its themes, which challenged the status quo and patriarchal norms of the time. Despite being written almost 100 years ago, many of Woolf’s contemplations are still so relevant in today’s climate, which really is worrying. So many themes and parts of her writing could easily be applied to today, especially since Donald Trump’s recent election and his dated and potentially damaging frame of mind.

Was there anything about the story that you found unhelpful or restrictive?

I found Woolf’s writing style very complex, and quite difficult to digest at times. However, I also found it fascinating as each time I read over it I’d pick out different themes or reflect upon the story differently. This was exciting, but at first it did leave me with what felt like too many options to explore. Overall, I found I had a real connection with the story and I was lucky as it explored themes I was already interested in and introduced me to key feminist literature I hadn’t yet explored.

What kind of research did you do?

I started by researching Virginia Woolf’s life, the Bloomsbury Group and various other writings such as Society and Mrs Dalloway, which all touched upon similar themes by questioning the patriarchal constructions that frame our understanding of the world. Early on in the term I attended the Women’s March Against Trump, this was a really great source for primary research and it made so many links between the story and today’s political climate, it was clear that this was something to explore further through my work. I also looked at the second wave feminist movement, something that’s also been informing my dissertation, and made many links between various points over the last century and today.

What did you struggle with?

I was lucky that I made a connection and contextual links with my text quite early on, which led to developing my concept. I found that revising and refining my script took a lot of development and experimentation to get to a place I was happy with. This was also the case with perfecting the performance aspect of the sound piece. I tested various actors, different tones of voice and delivery, allowing me to reflect and adjust it until I was happy with it. I was also relatively new to sound editing, so learning the ropes was technically quite difficult as I was covering new ground.

Was there a particular ‘breakthrough’ moment – and if so, what was it?

My breakthrough moment was at the Women’s March. I was there to document the day, and had an ‘A-Ha!’ moment when I spotted someone carrying a banner featuring Virginia Woolf. It really confirmed the idea that little has really progressed, merely shifted for women in the last 100 years, and we are still dealing with similar issues. This is something I felt needed to be addressed through my work. There was another ‘A-Ha!’ moment when Trump and a room full of men were pictured on the front page of the newspapers attempting to make decisions about a woman’s right to abortion (Roe v. Wade). It really resonated with the line ‘we woke from a midnight dream of horror to the masculine point of view, which governs our lives, which sets the standard’. It was moments like these that made such a strong link between today’s issues and those voiced in 1919.

What was the most significant thing said to you during the crits?

There were two really key pieces of advice that I kept in mind from quite early on in the term. The first was to not overcomplicate my work just because we had time, and the second was to take the time to really perfect my script, as at first I was trying to run, developing a final outcome, before I could walk. These simple pieces of advice boil down to placing quality over quantity: something I kept in mind throughout the project. I was then very selective and considered every step towards my outcome thoroughly. Debbie, Ken and Richard all provided really great references, support and advice throughout the elective, which were really constructive in helping our final pieces come to fruition, particularly when it came to considering our presentation working with the exhibition space.

What was it about the Reader Elective approach that you will take forward with you?

The Reader has completely changed the way I approach a brief and think about my work. I will take forward the conceptual aspects of The Reader approach: that not everything has to be delivered to the audience on a plate. More conceptual outcomes allow for more interesting and personal readings. I will also take forward my process from this project, taking my time to perfect and iron out each part of a project so that each component, at every stage, is thoroughly considered, creating a solid concept and outcome.

Here Is A Table, Mixed media, Dimensions variable

Chan Shin
Miranda July – The Shared Patio

What first attracted you to the particular short story you chose and was that the reason you chose it?

I tend to be interested in peripheral stories and rumours. When I was researching some information on the given stories, I found ‘The Shared Patio’ was quite recently published – the only text written after the millennium. The way of storytelling, the time and space, was more temporal than the others. That was the first attraction. Also the title was quite tempting. If I have to pick the biggest change of my way of living after being in London, it might be the sharing. Whilst I was reading the story, I could find many articulated points with my personal experiences. That’s why I chose it.

Was there anything about the story that you found unhelpful or restrictive?

The author was telling a story with a neutral voice, dissolving some heavy contemporary issues into the everydayness. The method of description was one of the attractive points. But on the other hand, it often distracted the main objective of my work by introducing other big issues to me.

What kind of research did you do?

I tried to research some artworks about articulating narratives with objects. And as I have a lack of experience in 3D object making, I researched woodworking skills as well. Mainly, the story led me to look into the contemporary way of living, such as dwelling culture and the single-person household. While reading related articles and stories, I also had a chance to listen the opinions of colleagues from different countries and different disciplines.

What did you struggle with?

If there are several stages of working, the most challenging phase was the construction. I felt no light pressure for making the physical object. Also, I couldn’t be sure how the outcome would work with an audience. So I tried to have discussions with students from product design and architecture.

Was there a particular ‘breakthrough’ moment – and if so, what was it?

Looking back, there was no dramatic ‘breakthrough’ moment. Rather, some vague points from the early stage were gradually clarified. As this project was a long-term one, it was more like building a structure for my own narrative rather than responding to impromptu ideas. Only the construction part, consulting with the wood workshop technicians, was a breakthrough moment.

What was the most significant thing said to you during the crits?

It is difficult to pick one from the whole crits. Instead, the way of the crit was helpful. There were quite many crits with different tutors in this project. Having crits with the tutors who know and who don’t know the whole context was efficient in terms of retracing my steps. While sharing general opinions, having discussions about specific aspects – site, text, visual language – was the most significant aspect of the crit system in The Reader. If I had to pick one, I would like to choose the opinion that led me not to design the table as a multi-usable furniture. This was the most significant thing because it clarified the main communication point of my work and combined many fragmented ideas into one core idea.

What was it about the Reader Elective approach that you will take forward with you?

While I was doing several projects in the Reader Elective, I found my interests in the materiality, game generating and automation. After the experience of making an object that could be played with or interactive, I became more interested in something with a physical body rather than something on a screen or paper. I thus speculate that I will continue to cultivate narratives by using physical objects.

You, Multi-channel video installation

Rachel Davey
Miranda July – The Shared Patio

What first attracted you to the particular short story you chose and was that the reason you chose it?

‘The Shared Patio’ by Miranda July spoke to me on an emotional level. The narrator’s thoughts, feelings and emotions are unrelentingly honest; yet some of the information that is revealed makes you question whether elements have been imagined by her or if it’s all completely real. I was interested in exploring these tensions within my own work.

What kind of research did you do?

I researched into the idea of the facade and its functionalities, considering topics such as pop culture, set design and the juxtaposition between the real and the imaginary.

What did you struggle with?

I’ve struggled a lot with self-confidence this year, but it’s been really helpful presenting our ideas and progress on a regular basis throughout the Reader. Organising and subsequently expressing your thoughts to others helps consolidate the themes of your project and reiterates why you’re interested in certain subjects.

Was there a particular ‘breakthrough’ moment – and if so, what was it?

Making the decision to create a multichannel installation and creating an additional three films to be exhibited on small screens behind the facade. This decision came about while talking to a fellow student and reinstated for me the importance of discussion and not becoming too up in your own head during a project.

What was the most significant thing said to you during the crits?

As my work often comes from a personal place and can sometimes be ambiguous, I really needed to consider the ‘in’ for the audience – to always have the position of ‘the reader’ in mind when creating work.

What was it about the Reader Elective approach that you will take forward with you?

The importance of practice-based research, to embrace writing, to always have the audience in mind, to allow yourself time and space to think, to constantly critique and discuss ideas, to be clear on your ideas and intentions and experiment with the best way of communicating them.


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