The first thing we did in our lesson on Tuesday this week was to share some of our old artwork with the rest of the group. I was originally going to bring in my taxidermy butterflies from my TAKEOVER project last semester, but decided not to in the end due to their fragility as some of them have already been damaged. Instead, I chose to speak about my installation of Gouache paintings from semester one last year, ‘Purple Rodents’. I have been thinking about this project increasingly of late; my purpose for creating the installation at the time was to capture in purple paint each of my pet rodents at that moment in time, as I knew their lives would be ephemeral. The piece captured them each in all their beauty and displayed each of their characters perfectly. Fast-forward to the present, three of the subjects have passed away this year and two now have cancerous tumors. This piece is now bittersweet, as I always knew it would become at the time of creating it. It’s hard to look at in some ways, as part of me longs to return to the time when I was surrounded by them all. But I suppose that is just the grief of losing them, and preparing to lose more, that I am still trying to come to terms with. It has been tough recently, as one of my rats Alfonso is nearing the end of his life. I am struggling to deal with this- I am tempted to paint him so that I can add him to this piece and make it and ongoing projection of my appreciation for their company and my grief of losing them. A way of coping with my emotions as all of my projects seem to morph into. I will have to see how I feel. In relation to this semesters project and my interest in the art of tattooing, I am brought back to the idea of tattooing to remember and commemorate someone or something important to you. A way of appreciating a life, a journey or an adventure in life. A means of carrying a memory with you until your own death. Tattoos have more permanence and longevity than life itself. I am thinking about what tattoos I want and why. What will they mean to me?
An update on the above
Alfonso has now passed away. It happened so suddenly yesterday afternoon, on what was supposed to be our last day together. I miss him lots. Here are a few pictures of him ʚ♡ɞ.
The lecture this week revolved around Sound Art. Sound Art became popular in the 1990s and looks at the relationship between acoustic space, visual stimulus and audio in different forms. We were tasked in pairs to chose an exercise from the sheet and take note of our responses to it. Mike and I chose ‘Connecting to you Sonic Voice’. We laid on the sofas in the room with our eyes closed for ten minutes and focused on the sounds around us. I found it hard not to fall asleep, as my muscles were tired from exercising the evening prior and so laying down was very relaxing. I noticed the table was creaking which occasionally jolted me back to alertness, and the sound of coffee being made in the kitchen reminded me of the early morning. I got the odd shiver, but this was due to me being right underneath an open window and it was freezing!
The second part of the lecture looked at what sound is. Sound is ephemeral (I love that word). We understand it. Interpret it. We listen to interpret its meaning, to understand the causality of it and to look at its characteristics. Sound is powerful and can have many different connotations.
This week I began by creating a mind-map relating to the subject of ‘Tattoo’ in order to try and bring order to all of the thoughts and ideas I have in my brain to put towards my project. I watched a short video on Youtube to help prompt some more in-depth ideas, which I will add below. Having created more of a visual structure to these thoughts I now have a clearer understanding of which areas I want to research and investigate at this point in my project.
The word ‘Tattoo’ as we use today in the West is actually a modification of the Polynesian word ‘Tatau’, from Tahiti, where Captain James cook and his crew landed in 1769. Prior to this, the process of ‘tattooing’ was often referred to as the skin having been ‘marked’, ‘engraved’, ‘decorated’ ‘punctured’ etc. Whilst writing this segment, I stumbled across an interesting dissertation titled ‘The Cook Myth: Common Tattoo History Debunked’, which states that although the word ‘Tattoo’ seemed to originate from Cook’s famous exhibition in 1769, the art form had been previously practiced in Western society, albeit lesser-known, prior to this ‘new’ wave of popularity. Just as the origins of commercialized Western tattoo practice is ambiguous, the origin of the art as a whole leads down many different cultural routes of history.
After researching the history of tattooing following the creation of my mind-map earlier in the week, I looked into the discoveries of Faience figures from ancient Egypt. The figures are depictions of the female body and have indentations and markings that are presumed to be representative of tattoos. The markings are thought to connote fertility and have direct links to female Egyptian mummies that have been discovered that have the same style of tattoos. A famous example of this is the ‘Mummy of Amunet’, discovered in 1891 by French Egyptologist Eugène Grèbaut in Deir el-Bahari. The mummy dates back to Dynasty XI (c. 2134-1991 BC) and has markings that are incredibly similar to those depicted on known Faience figurines. The use of tattooing in ancient civilization to represent fertility shows the power in marking the skin to express and adorn oneself. It is an ancient form of symbolic visual communication, like a permanent display of self. Following this research, I have been creating small clay figures of my own, that I plan to lightly engrave and mark with ink to show the subjects tattoos- kind of like little clay voodoo dolls. I plan to do one of myself and possibly one of my mum, who has lots of meaningful tattoos. I’m not sure where this idea is taking me, but I like to work week by week to evolve my project in a fluid way as new concepts and ideas are constantly popping up in my mind. I will see where these figurines take me next.