Project 3: Case Study – A Place Beyond Belief by Nathan Coley

A Place Beyond Belief is a 2012 work by Nathan Coley which you can view on his website here. It’s described as illuminated text on scaffolding, measuring 6m x 7m x 3m.

We are asked some initial questions about it:

  • What’s your first response to this piece?

At first look, I thought it was quite cool. The lights look like those on an old American theatre, or a bit like the lights around those Hollywood dressing table mirrors that I’ve always loved. The text coupled with the pretty lights makes it look like it could be the entrance to … Read the rest

Project 3: Exercise 2 – Developing Your Research Skills

This exercise asks us to look at the work of Katie Paterson, particularly her piece Vatnajökull (the sound of).

We are asked how we would define this piece in terms of media, and told to make notes on the different layers of existence, the forms it has been displayed in, how it’s a genuinely site specific piece (unlike Longlayer from Project 2), and on Vatnajökull’s relationship to place, as well as Paterson’s use of text.

Firstly, I would categorise the original piece as mixed media. It is a sound installation, but there is also the neon phone number displayed … Read the rest

Project 3: Exercise 1 – Place

This first exercise asks us to read the opening essay in Place (Dean and Millar 2005, pp. 11-26). We are told to try and get an idea of what the authors are saying, to reflect on how we found the exercise, whether we agree with what the authors are saying, and whether the piece has expanded our understanding of what the word ‘place’ can signify.

Firstly, I found this exercise difficult for various reasons. At a basic level, I have never read such a long piece of writing relating to art in the way this one does, and the vocabulary … Read the rest

Exercise 2: Interpreting Video Art

This exercise asks us to watch the video of Sam Taylor-Wood’s Still Life here: [accessed 13/03/17]

The main aim of the exercise is to write down our understanding of the piece in 250 words and explain what we think Taylor-Wood wants us to think about or experience from watching this?

There are a few questions we are told to think about:

  • Your initial response after first viewing

It took me a while to realise what the piece was about. Not a lot happens in the first 44 seconds of the 3 min 44 sec video and I fast forwarded … Read the rest

Case study Interpreting sound – Longplayer

This case study looks at a piece by Pogues member Jem Finer. It’s really a musical work, but could also be considered an installation and a performace piece. It started playing at midnight on the 31st December 1999 and will play for a thousand years. The ‘song’ is made up of 6 different versions of a 20 minute, 20 second score written for Tibetan singing bowls. One of the pieces is the original, and the others are transpositions. One is an octave below, one 7 semitones below, one 5 semitones below, one 5 semitone above and one 7 semitones above. … Read the rest

Exercise 5: Finding Out More

This exercise asks us to watch/listen to a discussion from the Khan Academy on Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde piece (here).

We are asked to make notes, paying particular attention to the following:

• Hirst
• the piece
• Hirst’s other work
• information on other artists whose work is concerned with mortality
• references to ‘time’

There is a transcript available under the video, so I won’t type up all of my notes, but I will mention the information relevant to the ideas above.

With relation to Hirst and the piece itself, a lot is said about … Read the rest

Exercise 4: Looking at Context

This exercise asks us to look at Damien Hirst’s 1991 piece title The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. The work is essentially a steel and glass tank filled with blue formaldehyde and a suspended shark. The piece is also referred to as ‘the shark in formaldehyde’.

We are asked to answer to following questions:

• Write down a few words giving your first reaction to the piece.
Weird. Scary. Ugly.

• Do you have an emotional response to it?
The thought of the formaldehyde makes me feel a bit queasy. The work in general … Read the rest

Exercise 3: Reading About Art

This exercise asks us to read an excerpt from Art History: The Basics by Grant Pooke and Diana Newall (2008, Abingdon: Routledge) and make notes of anything interesting, as well as writing down any new terms or words we come across.

The first thing that struck me was the amount of words that I normally know the meaning of, but had to actually look up to see how they were being used in this context. Here’s a list, along with some other definitions that were new to me:

Arbitrary: Founded on or subject to personal whims, prejudices, etc.

AestheticRead the rest

Project 1: Exercises 1 & 2

Marcel Duchamp, 1917, Fountain, photograph by Alfred Stieglitz
Marcel Duchamp, 1917, Fountain, photograph by Alfred Stieglitz [Public Domain]

Exercise 1 asks us to write down a few words about our first response to Marcel Duchamp’s piece Fountain, shown in the photograph.

Looking at the original work, right, I would say it does not surprise me that this is presented as a piece of art, but, at the same time, it does not appeal to me and I don’t understand how anybody could see this is art. My first impression, without looking up any further information about the piece, would be that it is representative of something important … Read the rest

Exercise 4 – Izabella Godlewska de Aranda’s Space, Time, Motion, Green

This exercise in the introductory section of the course asks us to try to find an image in the Bridgeman Education Library by searching ‘time contemporary’.

There were many results, but the work came up on the first page and can be seen here.

The full title of the piece is ‘Space, Time, Motion, Green, 2010’ and it’s a mixed media work by spanish artist Izabella Godlewska de Aranda. The description notes that it is an homage to Mark Rothko, who was a Russion-American abstract artist whose signature style could be described as ‘fields of colour’ and some of … Read the rest