Skin and Structure
Much of the work below was done in the immediate lead-up to the exhibition, where a number of the final pieces were featured.
Having rebuilt structures from the inside out, I began to take the opposite approach by taking an existing volume and destroying it. In my first attempt at casting techniques, I used dental alginate to create a mould, which was then filled with liquid plaster to create a meticulously detailed replica of hands and faces. The results were less precise than I had hoped, as they were cracked and occasionally distorted by an unevenly drying mould. Indeed, as grotesque as it
Left, a collage of the outcomes of my various experiments. The imperfections became a source of inspiration, as I broke the hands apart before reassembling them so that they might be recognisable but the silhouette disjointed, broken. In order to soften the transition from sculpture to empty space, I used bamboo to continue the shape as a wireframe skeleton, which was then embellished with leftover alginate and painted white.
Below, I applied a similar technique to faces. Due to the limited number of casts, I mixed and matched several to create masks of a Frankenstein-like composition. The stark geometry of the bamboo contrasted the organic, decay-like aesthetic of the alginate, such that I coloured the
masks to highlight the difference. Interestingly, the more successful versions, above, differed from the less successful, immediate left, by their complexity. If too convoluted by layers of decomposition and plaster, the face became unrecognisable.
For my final outcome, below, I photo-manipulated images of my sculptures to reunite them with ones of living, intact skin. The emphasis was on creating drama through the use of black-and-white, and high contrast, which would draw a visual thread from one piece to another, reflecting the constant cycle of growth and decay that takes place in nature.
Right, my early attempts. I deemed these unsuccessful as, despite being interesting collages they did not satisfactorily capture the union of qualities I hoped to achieve.
Left, aside from solid volumes, I looked into the idea of perceived volumes. These are created by the intimation of a shape, often by means of a frame, but have no
substance of their own. By wrapping string around a human torso, I was able to create an abstract cast thereof, which I consolidated by applying a heat gun to the cling wrap layer I had used during the construction process. By draping this with cloth and lighting a lamp in the
heart of the structure, the, now quite abstract, shape gained an air of intrigue, spinning shadows along the walls.
The complexity of the sculpture's shapes became especially poignant when projected as shadows onto a flat surface, two dimensions that yet contained the information of three. Combined with glitches, I used clips of the shadows to create a movie, reconfiguring the observer's perspective by divorcing the shade from the substance.
SHADES OF AMBITION
Finally, I wanted to return to my source material. Rather than using the human form as a base for abstraction, I returned to it as a subject for geometric rendition and reinterpretation. The three figures, made out of balsa wood for lightness and ease of construction, are
representations of fundamental human movements: crouching, running, and jumping.
As I built the life-sized models, I was struck by how they also seemed to epitomise certain emotions. Combined, they created a story, of the human urge
for self-improvement tempered by an opposing reluctance borne of the desire for safety. Painted black, the active figures are, in essence, the shadows of the stationary one, whether projected into the future as a prediction or simply an unspoken hope, a dream.
In a way, they represent my own journey. When things change, my world explodes into shards of potential, excitement, and colour.
SHARDS OF SPACE
The most fundamental way I could think of to change a person's perception of the world around them was by manipulating their vision, literally the way they see the world. This helmet, built with a combination of the techniques
I had been developing throughout my diploma, from stick construction to wire draping, incorporates a set of triangular mirrors which permit a view in any direction, any perception.