Aims and Ideas
My aims for this week involve investigating further into Automatism and Automatic Processes, as I have thoroughly researched the use of Sound in Art, which is my main focus and primary medium of work in this project. However, I think it is also important to provide context to the work I am producing alongside/in response to my audio pieces. If I have time, I will produce an Automatism response to the audio piece I produce to accompany it.
Automatism is a Fine Art technique of subconscious drawing and/or writing, in which the artist allows their unconscious mind to take control of producing the work. The term is also used to describe the result of any technique that eliminates conscious control of artistic process and replaces it with chance. Automatic Drawing and Writing is about disconnecting from the piece you are creating or the words you are writing, and avoiding conscious control, often without letting the pen leave the paper to provide a consistent flow of movement.
Automatism was popularised during the 20th century by Surrealist artists, who sought to release the creativity of the unconscious mind in Art. Automatism played a role in other artistic movements such as Dadaism, and a late-1940’s group known as Les Automatistes. However, Automatism has existed in a variety of forms since the early eighteenth century, such as the accidental ‘blot drawings’ of watercolour artist Alexander Cozens (1717-1786). William Blake, an English painter and printmaker who lived between 1757-1827 was a pioneer in a different form of Automatism, as he claimed his artwork was guided by the spirit of his late younger brother. In the later nineteenth century and early twentieth, Madge Gill (1882-1961) produced a large number of pen and ink drawings following several traumatic experiences, claiming to also be guided by a spiritual force.
Historically, Automatism has been a form of freedom and escapism for artists, specifically after the events of the First World War, were a lot of artists produced anti-establishment and anti-war art and found themselves stuck creating in the system they were fighting against. Therefore, Automatism was a way to free themselves from any possible cultural connections and to suppress their conscious thoughts and worries while producing creatively. However, the Automatism techniques used during the surrealist movement were not entirely unconscious and therefore, not 100% automatic, as they involved a degree of control an often influenced their Automatic productions with hypnosis, dreams and hallucinations. Surrealists use of Automatism did, however, play a vital role in the development of the Art Style ‘Art Informel’, which emerged in France and spread through Europe during the 1950’s.
Looking more specifically at Automatic Writing, the practise traces back to psychoanalysts’ experimentation, such as Sigmund Freud, who sought to access their patient’s subconscious mind. Surrealist Poets took inspiration from this technique, such as Andre Breton and Louis Aragon, who experimented with writing in a hypnotic state a quickly as possible. Automatic Writing was also derived from ‘spirit writing’ of mediums, who believed they could contact spirits from the afterlife, and communicate with them through Automatic Writing. The Surrealists believed that the speed of Automatic Writing and also Automatic Speech surpassed logic and the filer that the conscious mind creates, allowing a direct transcription of subconscious thoughts.
Audio Piece: Waves
I took this audio recording at Aberystwyth beach, standing close to the sea when the waves were calm enough to do so. I managed to capture some interesting audio of the waves and tide, but also picked up a lot of wind in the recording, which was a little difficult to remove in editing, but a layer of reverb and a frequency cut managed to get rid of most of it, alongside trimming the parts that were saturated with the noise of the wind. I didn’t combine this audio recording with another in editing, partly because the editing of this piece took so long, and partly because once this piece was finished, I couldn’t find the inspiration to rework it into something different. However, I think I will transform this piece by combining it with another one of my pieces or recordings as future development.
Soundwave of Audio Piece: ‘Waves’
Due to the time it took to edit this recording, I haven’t been able to produce an Automatism piece in response. I think I will use this edited recording in a future piece, though, and create a more developed response to that. However, I was very inspired by the appearance of the soundwave in the final exported media. I think it was especially interesting as the sound of waves crashing obviously produces soundwave spikes. These spikes, then slows of noise, visually look like waves, and I think that in itself is a very creative transformation of art from one medium to another, and additionally, it reflects the source of inspiration in a different way.
Meaning and Symbolism
I think that researching spiritual meaning to accompany my audio pieces was an interesting concept, but I want to divert it into something more controlled. I want the meaning to be more personal to me. I can apply spiritual meanings to my different pieces, but I want to interlink it more with my own psychology, which is why I think I will be investigating meaning and symbolism in response to my Automatism productions, that respond to my audio pieces, instead of the audio pieces themselves. It’s like filtering the audio piece first through my mind before I can analyse its data, and the evaluation of my Automatism pieces, is what I can truly draw more personal meaning from. So, I will be continuing to provide symbolism and spiritual interpretation to my project, but just in a different way. I think this will also allow me to appreciate more the psychoacoustic aspects of my pieces by analysing my subconscious and automatic creative response rather than the content of the audio.
Analysis and Reflection
I think that my research into Automatism was very interesting as it provides more context to providing spiritual meaning to my Automatically produced writing and drawing pieces, due to the heavy influence of Spirituality in inspiring and creating Automatism. By involving Spiritual meaning and producing work with this in mind, in respect to the Surrealists who practised Automatism, I can produce with more respect to the practise and strengthen the meaning of my pieces. Additionally, I feel like I have a greater understanding of producing Automatic response work, whereas previously it was entirely experimental, as I was focusing on researching artists of Sound. Now I have more context and knowledge of the two mediums I am producing work in for this project, I feel like development will be stronger and more linear.
Work and Development
I’m fairly pleased with my ‘Waves’ audio piece, however, I am going to spend next week hopefully planning a more developed audio piece that perhaps involves, or transforms this one. Sound editing is fairly laborious to end up with something that you are pleased with, and as a bit of a perfectionist, I get a bit too caught up in fixing small parts and forget to develop my work further. So, I will be developing this piece into something else in the following weeks alongside making more audio pieces.
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