The last few months have been exciting, stimulating and frustrating. I invested so much time and research into my crib piece that some version of it would have to be my degree show exhibit. Yet as deadlines crept ever closer it seemed that a resolution moved further out of reach. For weeks I felt close to…something…that I could not quite grasp. Like a word on the tip of your tongue or the lingering edges of a dream when you first wake up. With each construction my understanding of what it was I wanted to articulate became clearer but the means of doing so continually eluded me.
I had, up until this point, been working with the disassembled parts of the crib. Now I began to look at methods of assembly. Experimenting with found domestic materials as substitutes for the missing nuts and bolts, I was still thinking of the finished product in terms of an installation or sculptural object. Pleased with the appearance and the way string, tape and wool, amongst other things seemed to echo the way family connections are made and held together in a haphazard, whatever is necessary way, I wrote my proposal. Ignoring the nagging reservations at the back of my mind.
A last minute tutorial with a new (to me) tutor brought my anxieties to the surface and helped me to put words to some vague thoughts that had been chasing around my mind. I began to consider adding a video to the installation. The video would be a recording of the crib being assembled. The more I thought about it the more I came to realise that it was the act of putting it together that was central rather than the object.
I wrote the video into the final proposal, still imagining that it would be a small addition that would lead the viewer to the main piece – the crib – which would be presented in a dark space lit with one spotlight.
My mobility restrictions meant that I could not film until I had arranged some help. This worked well as Geoff Berrow not only carried equipment and helped to rig the set, but as an experienced camera operator and video maker was able to offer invaluable advice.
I decided to film in a dark space with one fixed camera. The scene was back lit with some fill being provided from the side.
As soon as the camera began to roll and I began to construct the crib my plans for the degree show changed. I immediately realised that it was the activity of construction that was the work, not the object. Performance was able to provide the means of expressing my thoughts in a way that my previous installation attempts had failed to do. A look at the raw footage confirmed my thoughts.
The final version was edited very little. This was not intended to be video art, but a straight record of a performance. If I had had the time to experiment I would have used two cameras and edited the footage together to give a more varied view of the action.
I am not altogether happy with presenting my work as a video for assesment and the degree show as the static nature of the medium does not fully express my intentions. However I failed to get the required permission to present it as a performance piece. I do intend to look for opportunities to perform It’s not a bit like The Walton’s (and it’s not like Eastender’s, either) after graduation.
One of the unintended consequences of moving from a sculptural installation to a recorded performance at such a late stage is that my I now hate the photograph that I chose to illustrate my work in the degree show catalogue. It represents a version that had yet to evolve into something more although I did not know it at the time.