where am i at again?: i thought at this stage i would be finished the ‘testing my boundaries task’ but the task is proving to be so helpful in asking me to consider how i make work, who i make work for and where my work is encountered that it really needs to continue and be part of my making or else who am i talking to? the task has also been really helpful in asking me to consider what i am comfortable with and how far i could challenge this in terms of that how, why and where of my work.
thinking about art and audience, i came across an interesting piece about the position of audience in art by N. Zangwill (1999) which outlines various theories that suggest audience is necessary to art. however, Zangwill argues that audience is not essential to art…. but couldn’t audience be an audience of one – the maker?
anyhow, analysing this task has also been really helpful in allowing me to consider how exhibiting my work to an audience in the public domain relates to my making process. throughout this task i have become more conscious of when audience comes into focus during my making process – sometimes as a starting point to my making, at other times as a response to my already made work and also it can become an integral part of the process of making throughout my making process. perhaps audience has always been there but has come into sharper focus.
so for many reasons, i feel that audience plays a part in my making one way or another and therefore I intend to continue the testing boundaries task – a pause for the moment and further to go. i am also starting to see how different audiences are necessary to the making processes – the informal or testing audience which might engage with my more exploratory making as well as the more formal audience of exhibition and more public spaces.
reflection on the plan: the plan i set out for myself was to find audiences for my work, first by researching and submitting to open calls for print (part 1a) and for video (part 1b) and secondly by creating opportunities to reach an audience that may not yet exist (part 2). both of these approaches were intended to find out where i am at, where i think my work belongs, where i feel comfortable, where i feel uncomfortable, where i have success and less success, what my criteria for deciding success and less success are, who my audience are, who my audience could be, what risks can i take in relation to finding an audience, what risks can i take in relation to making work to reach an audience, what relationship my making has to my reaching an audience and vice versa. while this seems like many questions, they all from a single intention about trying to find out a little more about my audience and its relation to my making.
part 1a: print open calls reflection on print ‘open calls’: continuing to develop my landscape, image, body, gender work, as part of this task, i submitted existing and new work in both print and video to national and international ‘open calls’. there seems to be lots of opportunities for ‘open call’ exhibitions, print fairs and exchanges of work for print. most are open themed and only specify the paper or image size and edition number. all open calls usually require archival quality inks and paper which i use anyway. the main search engines i researched open calls was through the VAI, artrabbit, printedmatter and through print ‘open call’ general searches which brings up open calls through gallery websites or print studios. ‘open calls’ can be either for exhibitions or art fairs that are usually in a gallery. they can also be for print exchanges which involve sending a whole edition (the number is specified – usually 10 to 14) and swapping these with other participants, so you will receive some of their prints also. print ‘open calls’ tend to be non juried selection and are also very open so that means the print content, themes and quality will be varied. there is usually a nominal fee to apply but by answering these ‘open calls’ allows my work to reach a new audience which is then usually exhibited in a gallery. it is also a way to network, in fact some actively encourage it by sending you a list of participating artists contact details. ‘open calls’ also allow me to continue to work on the ideas i want to and in many ways help me to put some kind of shape to my making in terms of a focus on some kind of finished piece of work for an audience and within a particular time frame.
galway arts centre: my first ‘open call’ was for a print art fair in galway arts centre/gallery where my work relating to the analogue and digital image was exhibited (and sold). it was a lovely gallery for small print works (A5) and in a central location in the heart of galway city. there could have been an opportunity to send a series of work but time wise i opted to send a single issue of a small edition. this was part of the print series i had been experimenting with in terms of landscape and analogue/digital processes. in terms of audience the gallery was in the galway arts centre in the centre of town and so i guess the audience would have been mixed – those involved in the arts and passers-by. while commercial gain was not the impetus to answer this ‘open call’, i was happy the work sold on opening night. but in terms of feedback, other than some of my family, i didn’t really get feedback or see how the audience engaged with my work. nor was there any scope to say anything about the work so it had to be taken on a visual ‘face value’. in terms of its impact on my making, i had already been testing analogue and digital combinations through screen printing and had a very small edition already printed before i answered the ‘open call’. i did cut the paper size down slightly but not the image so i feel the content and my making was not overly effected by the of possibility of audience. the work had already reached an audience of my peers online so i saw this ‘open call’ as an opportunity to extend its reach.
A5 print fair, galway art centre (dec 2018)
trasna 8: this was followed by a submission to ‘trasna 8’ where a print from the same edition was exhibited in a group show in the courthouse gallery in ennistymon. this gallery was also in central location in the town and the invigilator told me that they had a lot of people coming to see the work. again, there was no real way of accessing how the audience engaged with the work nor was there any feedback except for a general thanks and praise of the ‘wonderful work’ from the organisers. i was happy that i was able to show some of my family who were over for christmas who have never seen any of my work in a formal setting and i thought there was some nice work alongside mine in the exhibition – sometimes i like to see how it shapes up against others’ work. i thought some of the display – using glass table tops, the stairwell and a geometry of ledges – worked well for this type of exhibition in this otherwise ‘white cube’ gallery. i think this type of public placement of my work is quite safe – it will most likely be selected for exhibition and most likely it will not be reviewed in isolation. there is little to no possibility of presenting where i stand in relation to landscape, image, body and the ideas i was exploring in this work so my ideas are not really up for debate. furthermore, i was saved all the practicalities of installing the work and the numerous decisions that the installation process requires.
trasna 8, the courthouse gallery, ennistymon, co clare (dec – jan 2018/19)
lunch money print exchange: over the christmas i was reading Tim Ingold’s ‘Drawing the Line’ and as a response i decided to make a print edition which incorporated this and some of the things that i had been thinking about related to the landscape as experience and as image and as haptic and optic experience. part of the reason why i am so drawn to ‘open call print’ exchanges is that they help me bring an idea to completion and give me some parameters to work within – paper and image size, edition number and of course a deadline to work towards. so i answered ‘lunch money’ print exchange which was set up by a print studio in New London, Connecticut. a particular size (11 x 13), edition number (11) and also image size (10 x 8) (which is a little less usual for a print exchange) was specified. as well as the print edition, the studio was also looking for some images and/or a video of my process to promote the work on social media. normally i don’t feel comfortable saying too much about the work save for a brief statement, let alone a camera on me as i work but in an attempt to test my boundaries and perhaps extend the reach of the audience, i made a short video and sent it to them. i showed the video to some of my colleagues who said that they actually appreciate some kind of ‘in’ into my work. this video as well as my print is already promoted on their website, facebook and instagram pages. i have recently received my box of prints from them and love to look at the work of others up close who worked within the same parameters. lunch money print studio are now organising the exhibition of the work which will take place in the Marquee Gallery in New London, Connecticut later in March. they will send on feedback and images when that happens. they also sent a lovely cover letter explaining the value of print exchanges in creating communities of print making artists. as this was a first for lunch money print studio i feel they went the extra mile to promote the work and also to encourage us to network with their studio and with other print makers.
short video of process for online promotion of exhibition
untitled landscape screen print edition of 11
image of artist for promotion
online promotion on lunch money print – twitter, facebook, website
lunch money print exchange
opportunity to network with other printmakers
part 1b: video open calls
reflection on video open calls: submitting my video work to ‘open calls’ was very new to me. anytime i had researched opportunities for video open calls, they seem more prescriptive than print ‘open calls’ – giving themes, durations and technical specification briefs that do not seem to relate to the kind of work i have made or am in the process of making re landscape, body, gender image/lens etc… or so i thought! after spending a lot of time going through search platforms for video works, i realised that some of the specifications are actually similar to the way a print open call gives a paper size – it does not necessarily change the content of my work or the ideas i am interested in exploring but maybe formats it differently. some briefs might even bring something new into the mix of my video making that can add to my understanding of what i am exploring. so, i have now submitted some of my existing video works to ‘open calls’ and submitted new works in response to ‘open call’ briefs …
‘real to reel’ craft and moving image festival: i was really excited about submitting my existing ‘i shiver and i shit’ short video for this ‘open call’ because i thought it was relevant to the brief looking for work about materiality, making and craft. i was also excited because this work has not found an audience yet (except for my peers and tutors) and if selected it would be shown in the Picturehouse gallery in central London during craft week in May, followed by an international tour in other galleries throughout the summer. although the work was already existing the submission required some re-editing of the titles away from the margins for widescreen projection and i also re-edited the end titles to credit those who took part vocally in the piece. if selected it will need highres editing also for large-scale projection which i will have to purchase as an add-on feature in premier pro. i think this work is a strong piece of work in that it touches on many aspects of landscape, body, gender and of course making but while going through the submission process i also began to feel that its relevance to ‘craft’ might be too wide a margin, although it does say something about craft and women. i have yet to hear back whether it will be accepted perhaps too early yet, but even if not selected i feel learned a lot from the submission process, joining filmfreeway platform for video submissions, tidying the work a little and writing a statement about the work. even if the work is not accepted, i noted that it got almost 40 views so that is reaching a new audience anyhow.
‘i shiver and i shit’ for ‘real to reel’ craft and moving image festival 2019
‘i shiver and i shit’ video still for submission
‘i shiver and i shit’ statement for submission
‘every second counts’ Strangelove film festival: another ‘open call’ i submitted video work to was for ‘every second counts’ 30 second film festival. for this ‘open call’ i submitted new work based on the stereo landscape video footage i had been collecting and working on. i had great fun working on this and enjoyed bringing the idea of 30 seconds – the time people give to looking at art works in a gallery or adverts to my stereo landscape footage, which as yet had no shape – beginning, middle or end, no audience (except for peers) and most importantly had me experimenting with the act of looking and not looking in terms of landscape and the body. going through this submission process also helped me to try and define what i have been working on through writing a short statement about the piece. i was delighted to hear that the work was accepted and has shown the Photography Gallery in London and Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate. It will also travel to Fabrica in Brighton and venues in Folkestone as part of festival looking at time-based media. however, in terms of audience, i cannot say how the audience engaged but i did get something by way of feedback from a peer who was at the Photographers gallery.
‘stereo’ for every second counts strangelove film festival U.K.
‘stereo’ still for submission‘stereo’ statement for submission
acceptance and festival promotion
image of work installed Turner Contemporary, Margate, March 2019
‘human versus nature’ 60 second film festival, various locations in denmark: this was a highly competitive ‘open call’ right from the beginning as it openly said it only selects 10 videos from hundreds of submissions but as the theme was ‘human versus nature’ i thought that a few video shorts i had worked on last year would be very suitable for the brief given. i did very little re-editing, save for changing the aspect ratio, as specified by the brief. however i was not successful and having looked at those that were accepted, many had a futuristic ‘dystopia’ theme or some kind of narrative. does that make me question the success of the work or the success of the submission? i think if i was to think that by not being accepted the work is not successful then i might be slow to ever make a submission – to be honest i think that the work, while not perfect (whatever that is?) has its merits and accept that this was not the time or place for it right now. it will find an audience eventually.
‘mirror image’ for ‘human versus nature’ 60 second film festival
‘mirror image’ still for submission
‘mirror image’ statement for submission
‘nomata’ one off moving image festival: as luck would have it, in conjunction with this festival and theme – ‘human versus nature’, there was another ‘open call’ for short video work only this time 1 second long. i was really excited about attempting to say something in 1 second along the same lines as my work was taking me re landscape, image, body etc. so over the course of a few days i worked up 2 shorts (‘screen saver 1’ and ‘screen saver 2’) looking at a mediated experience of the landscape through the lens. this submission was successful and played as intermission to the work shown in the 60 second festival in various locations in denmark as well as stand alone 1 second compilations in public location in valentia spain and gol norway. and as for audience – i can only assume that the work helped to expand my audience but again have no real sense of how the audience engaged with the work. as a one second video it was very easy for me to share this with lots of my colleagues via whatsapp and was met with a mixture of curiosity, confusion and interest and led to a few conversations about my work, the landscape and screen time. i think screen saver one is more successful and might return to the focus and unfocused lens again. it seems to tie in with the human eye and my research into the lens as an embodied practice.
loop of 1 second short film ‘screen saver one’ (©elaine crowe 2019)
stills from ‘screen-saver one’ (© elaine crowe 2019)
loop of second short film ‘screen saver two’ (© elaine crowe 2019)
loop of 1 second short film ‘screen saver one’ (©elaine crowe 2019)
reflection on open calls:
pros: it seems that there is a lot of opportunities for my video and print works to reach an audience through ‘open calls’. there is usually no theme specified for print so i can work on the things that preoccupy me to my heart’s content, namely landscape, body, gender etc. however, print open calls usually specify a print size (paper and/or image) and edition number. so far this has not been an issue for me as they tend to be small in scale which i like to work with anyway. video ‘open calls ‘ can be more specific in terms of theme but this can add something to the work i am already working on if i am careful in choosing which ones might suit. i find ‘open calls’ really useful in helping me to shape my ideas and reach a deadline. while there is a mixture of jury and non-jury selection processes, i still get excited by sharing my work with others and reaching an audience in national and international places, be they local or more established galleries. i guess communication with an audience is a big part of my motivation to make.
cons: the downside is that print ‘open calls’ are almost always for a single edition so do not lend itself to developing a body of work or displaying my video work alongside my print work. however, there are ‘open call’ opportunities that are not print specific but often theme orientated that a body of work could be developed for by a selection jury/process. i made enquiries at a local pub, asking for an opportunity to show a series of print works and while they did get back to me initially, i did not chase it up because i wanted to pursue other things that developing a body of work would not allow in terms of time (maybe another time). i guess the process has been really reassuring in making me think that there is an audience out there for my work, i just need to be proactive about getting out there and that takes lots of energy and time. i also think that ‘open calls’ do not lend themselves for audience feedback really, except for getting accepted – who really knows what an audience thinks of my work – can you ever really know when you send you work out there? perhaps i could set myself greater challenges in selecting which ‘open calls’ to submit to.
reflection on creating an opportunity to reach an audience: as i have outlined, there are lots of really positive things about submitting to ‘open calls’ in how i can reach and extend the audience for my work. one of the things i have noticed through this process is that it tends to be reactive – responding to the brief, location and timing specified by others. so as planned for the second part of my boundaries task, i have begun to make work that responds to opportunities that i have created myself – a time, place and audience of my own making and for my own making. i also felt that the ‘open call’ process did not allow me to access how the audience encounters and responds to my work, as my work was sent far a wide to an unknown audience. so for part 2, i have had lots of different ideas about how i could address this. i felt it would be important to work spontaneously and not to over think it as i might be put off by the potential risks. this type of public placement of my work has been a slower process than i first thought in terms of its organisation and so many of my initial ideas could be explored in the future.
made up’ mail art/exhibition/audience: wanting to reach a more immediate audience who could give me feedback about the work, the ideas i have been exploring and any ideas that the work generated, i sent an edition of 12 double postcards to a list of my contacts (colleagues, friends, family) who i have never talked about with them. the landscape image and text ‘made up’ which i screen printed using a staggered and pronounced bitmap of cyan and yellow, was sent to the audience in 2 halves – hoping to play with the ideas of how the landscape is framed, how the landscape is viewed through perhaps a compound or multiple eye, how the landscape and lens relate through a time based medium (postcards sent on 2 separate days) and how landscape as image is made up of a series of dots, how these dots and image relate to the real as unreal or real? the brief for my audience was to simply ask for an image of the postcards displayed somewhere informally in their home and a text message as feedback about their response to the work or what came to mind from the work. i wrote a short handwritten (see Tim Ingold re handwriting) message on the postcard about some of the things i have been thinking about re landscape and image making because they are postcards after all. the feedback has yet to start arriving …. to be continued.
‘made up’ screen printing CY K process
‘made up’ landscape edition of 12 postcards sent on 04.03.19 and 06.03.19
audience feedback: the feedback has arrived – really interesting images of the work in totally new contexts and some interesting comments about their relationship to the image, the landscape, the colours, memories etc. this feedback is invaluable in seeing what comes through in my work and how an audience might interpret or engage with it. i think it is a healthy thing to try and do as part of my making from time to time. the audience was with me every step of the way in this making process – the reason i began this making. i have now to decide what (if anything) i should do with this feedback – was half thinking of a small booklet with images and text to complete the process – but this might raise questions about the printed image again. perhaps the feedback is simply feedback and becomes part of my future making decisions subliminally or consciously.
images sent back from audience
written feedback from audience via text message
reflection on this process: i think this is a really worthwhile thing to do – involving the audience in a meaningful way with my work, getting written feedback and seeing my work in new places or contexts according to what the audience feel like doing. it felt like a proper dialogue with my audience. i was a little uncomfortable about the idea of asking for participation but once i got started, i found i was more comfortable than i thought. i was excited by the images and written feedback and feel that there will be things in their feedback that could inform my future making. i feel that this kind of process could be useful from time to time in my making. it also struck me that i could create an ‘open call’ and invite other artists to respond to a brief – working towards the public placmenet of our work.
online audience – printmakers unite: i have been a member of ‘printmakers unite’ which is an online facebook group for printmakers (public audience) for the best part of a year now but have never felt the need to either react or comment on others work and posts or to post about my own work – maybe this is because i am already posting about my work as a reflective journal and on my website elainecrowe.com. for once, i thought i might post about this postcard edition just to see what happens. i got a lot of likes which i does feel good and also some comments which i wasn’t expecting to either get or enjoy as much as i did. i think this was because they were from fellow printmakers who might appreciate the technical difficulties overcome in achieving a ‘clean’ edition.
movement workshop: no church in the wild: in the interest of further testing my boundaries about what i consider my audience to be and how far i can go beyond my comfort zone in terms of reaching an audience and in my making, i came across a performance / movement workshop which looked at how we encounter our environment (or landscape) through an embodied encounter and movement.
‘no church in the wild’ performance workshop, douglas hyde gallery dublin (jan 2019)
there seems a lot that i could take from this movement workshop, firstly to do with embodied responses – to what i consider the parameters of the landscape space that i am in at any particular time, to other elements in the landscape, to the different rolls i take at different times in the landscape – as observer, leader or follower. the other thing i take away with me from this workshop is the power of live work or performance and the ability for a work and an audience (be it co-performers) to exist at a moment in time and for that to be more than sufficient. with that – i add a single photo which i took before the workshop began or the work and audience existed. this of course throws up all sorts of questions about the documentation of live work – how or if it necessary. finally, in relation to testing my boundaries – it seems my boundaries are wider than i would ever have thought because after the initial warm-up activity, i was comfortable in this type of making and this type of audience.
reflection – going back and going forward:
so what do i consider successful?
i became aware of how and when audience comes into focus in my making – beginning, during, after my making.
i was able to put shape on many ideas i have been working around – including the process of writing statements or even giving my work a title.
i reached a new audience in new places – nationally, internationally. i made links with other audiences and other artists
i have lots of ideas for future making and future audience – other open calls (i am working on one now), create a booklet for ‘made up’, develop work through cymk processes, look to creating an audience for my work as part of my process.
i am not as uncomfortable as i thought looking for an audience or working in new ways to test new audiences.
what difficulties did i encounter?
how do i measure how an audience really encounter my work in any meaningful way? is this important – how can we ever know?
some things take longer than i think – be patient; ‘made – up’ postcards took longer and stopped me from getting through other ideas that i wanted to test.
is working towards an audience always helpful or does it effect my free experimentation?
now that i see the huge range of opportunities, do i need to be really selective in choosing appropriately or on the other hand just go for it and try new things.
its always hard threading the line between the known and unknown.
Zangwill, N. (1999) ‘Art and Audience’ In: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 57, No. 3 (Summer, 1999), pp. 315-332 [online] At: https://www.jstor.org/stable/432197?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents (Accessed on 16.04.19).
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