Aims and Ideas
This week, I am going to be developing a couple of audio pieces, and conducting more research into Automatism, and an artist that uses that medium to work in. I am going to also be looking back on one of my first audio experiments and reproducing an Automatism piece in response to it, in the style of my artist research.
Andre Masson was a French painter, sculptor, illustrator, designer and writer, born in Balagny in 1896, passing in 1987. Masson grew up in Brussels, working creatively in an embroidery studio as a pattern drawer alongside studying part-time at the Academie des Beaux-Arts. Masson moved to Paris and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts between 1912-14, before having to serve in the French Army between 1914-19, in which he was gravely wounded. This experience drastically changed his life, but he continued to create Art, his first one-man exhibition in 1923 at the Galerie Simon, Paris, where he exhibited paintings followed by automatic drawing experiments. Following this, Andre Masson participated in the Surrealist Art Movement between 1924-1929.
André Masson,1924. Ink on paper, 9 1/4 x 8 1/8″ (23.5 x 20.6 cm)
Masson’s Automatic Drawings are iconic in terms of their mark-making with speed in almost a ritualistic manner. His method deviates on the line between control and chaos, some drawings seemingly more consciously created than others. Masson is generally considered to have pioneered the technique of Automatic Drawing. His Automatic Drawings are said to communicate Masson’s psyche, which was damaged as he was a wounded veteran of World War I. Masson suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to his experiences at War, which plagued him so severely that he was frequently hospitalized for it as a result.
André Masson, Battle of Fishes, 1926, sand, gesso, oil, pencil and charcoal on canvas, 14 ¼ x 28 ¾ inches (MoMA)
Masson included Automatism into more than just his drawings by using chance as a medium. He introduced chance as an element in his creative processes by scattering sand over glue-covered canvases and capturing patterns in colour with paint. He also enjoyed random drippings of paint, in an almost Action Painting fashion. Often, Masson would produce Automatic Drawings then review the work and look for recognisable shapes and figures that he could consciously work back into to enhance and provide detail to, and example of this being the above ‘Battle of Fishes’. This method is interesting, working consciously onto something produced unconsciously.
André Masson, “La mer se retire” (“The Sea Withdraws,” 1941)
This week, I developed a workshop idea and produced a presentation on it. A summary of the workshop: reacting through automatic painting techniques, focusing on colour and movement, to music that is emotively curated.
I am currently working on two audio pieces that I want to use as my final pieces. Both of these audio pieces are going to feature the audio I produced last week, ‘Waves’. One audio piece is going to consist of ‘Waves’ and a recording from Bonfire Night that I took on the beach, while having a bonfire and watching fireworks. The second audio piece is going to be focused on Water, involving ‘Waves’ and the audio recording of rain from indoors and the recording of boiling rice. I want these two audio pieces to be produced at high quality, so I am taking my time editing them. I am also going to produce Automatism pieces in response to these two audio pieces, that would be exhibited alongside them.
Automatism: Reworking ‘Birds and Boiling Rice’ in the style of Andre Masson
One of my favourite of my audio pieces so far has been the audio piece ‘Birds and Boiling Rice’. I wanted to rework it to include it with the other two audio pieces I am working on to involve it into the hypothetical exhibition. I already produced an Automatic response for this audio piece back in week two, but I decided I wanted to produce one at a higher quality to accompany it in the hypothetical exhibition, inspired by the style of Andre Masson.
For this Automatism piece, I was inspired by my research to produce an Automatic response, then work back into it consciously to create more detailed and coherent aspects of the work. I like this idea as, to me, it is a way of analysing the subconscious response and translating it into something visually recognisable. Above is my Automatic response to listening to ‘Birds and Boiling Rice’, this time, on loop. Listening to the audio on loop allowed me time to adjust and focus on listening and responding, which I did until I felt I had finished. I used primed canvas paper and a black pen to produce this Automatism response, rather than pen on paper. The canvas paper would provide a base for me to work back into the piece consciously with acrylic paint.
Transforming the Automatic Drawing with acrylic paint was extremely interesting. I kept the audio piece playing on loop so as to allow the audio to continue influencing my creative process. I spent some time looking at the drawing, trying to find shapes that I could transform with paint into something new. I found a lot of quick, horizontal lines near the bottom of the canvas, and decided to use these as the top of buildings. I dragged grey acrylic paint down from these lines to create the shape of many buildings, creating a town or city space. I then used black acrylic to make the original lines I used as structure for the buildings more bold, and to provide more of a solid shape to each of them. I then used black acrylic again to paint inside tiny shapes that were created between overlapping lines above the buildings, to represent birds. The idea was to represent the two different parts of the audio piece, the birds and the boiling rice. The birds are represented more recognisably, however the boiling rice I represented through the buildings that present everyday life through a community. I’m really pleased with this result, and I like that it is abstract in nature, and involves a conscious reconstruction of unconscious response.
(Side by Side comparison: Before/After reworking consciously)
Analysis and Reflection
Researching Andre Masson has been revolutionary for me in terms of developing my work. Inspired by his way of working into Automatic drawings consciously after producing them has allowed me to create more detailed pieces and involve direct analysis of psychological response to audio into my work. I am going to be using this technique to respond to my two audio pieces in progress once they are finished.
Work and Development
I am developing two audio pieces, and I have a clearer idea of the end result of this project now, through working on the hypothetical exhibition ideas alongside being inspired by this new way of producing Automatism responses. Next week, I will hopefully have one of the two audio pieces finished so I can produce another Automatism response in this style.
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