The Art Assignment #8: Walk on It

This has to be one of the most fun Art Assignments so far:

I was kind of mesmerised by Kate’s video ‘Double Dutch’. It reminded me of a piece of video art I watched while I was studying independent film. It was called Soda, and it was basically a static shot of a while tiled floor. Then one after another, glass bottles of coloured fizzy water would be dropped. With each drop would come a satisfying cracking sound, then the coloured water would disperse and fizzle over the while tile. It was, like Kate’s work, mesmeric. I think people overlook video art quite often, but the combination of sound and visual is very powerful. People watch cookery programs for exactly the same reason. The colours, the sounds, the movements of a person’s body against objects, or objects impacting on other objects, it’s intriguing. I must admit I’ve seen some dubious ones though. People forcing themselves to throw up in the middle of the artist’s studio? I can stomach the sound and look of vomit like no one else, but the sounds reverberated around the exhibit and I found myself having to leave in a hurry (maybe that was the artist’s aim?).

What I love about the Art Assignment is that, although there are frameworks in place, we are able to translate the assignment in our own particular way. But in this case I think it is especially so. Kate gives us what seems like quite a strict framework, but really it isn’t. I think that’s why I took so much joy in it. My favourite colour, my favourite shoes, my body letting loose. You’ll see what I mean in the next few paragraphs…

Luckily for me I keep a lot of cardboard around in case I need something to paint on. Cardboard, I knew, would be better as an impact would leave more of a mark. But the shoes I planned on using don’t have much texture to them so I knew I would have to make it interesting. I decided to lay on a few layers of Gesso (a sort of thick white paint you’re supposed to use to prime canvasses, but which we use in art class to create texture). But only had enough for one layer, then as it was drying my cat, Frankie, decided he wanted to take part…


I painted the cardboard my favourite kind of green. But it was a bit of a pain trying to mix up enough of the right colour to cover the board. So I mixed it on the board instead, which is something I’ve been reminding myself to do when painting pictures. I have to get away from block colours, it never looks as good, and I always have leftover paint. In this case I could have piled on layers of paint, and probably should have, because the shoes I wanted to use, my beloved yellow Onitsuka Tigers, don’t have much texture on the bottom…


Especially since I’ve worn them so much…


So I took the opportunity to use a big tub of gold paint that doesn’t get any use, and made giant blobs, painting them on with my fingers. I also decided to preserve Frankie’s contribution to the project in a gold ring (on the left)…


But I certainly had no plans to walk on this. Walking around in circles? Doesn’t sound like much fun. I was going to dance. Dance to what? One of the most upbeat songs I know, Hanson’s ‘Thinking ‘Bout Somethin” (yes, there really are that many apostrophes in that song title). The only way I had of playing it was through my computer. But because, for some reason, it was missing from my iTunes, I decided I had to go back to what made me love the song in the first place, the music video, on youtube. I had an idea that maybe I could instagram a bit of my dancing. Then I thought, wait a second, I’ve painted something in my favourite colour, I’m in my favourite shoes, I’m in my new favourite shirt, and I’m in my bedroom which took me weeks to redecorate and was only just finished the other day? This demands to be expressed through some dancing, and I want to show people what that looks like.

So I guess that’s my point about video art. It might look quite simple and nonsensical but it, like many other kinds of art, has layers built up underneath it. So although this might look like some very shaky footage of someone dancing on some cardboard, it’s actually a culmination of a number of joyful, unique, things… It’s a bit annoying that the picture isn’t great, the sound is kind of bad, and I completely forgot about the copyright issue so it might not be watchable in some countries, or it might be taken down. But I really wanted to put it up, especially since… yeah, the cardboard didn’t really look that much different afterwards…


Now to do some of your own dancing…

Afterthoughts. It occurred to me, not to long after I put up the video, that I am jumping a lot in that footage. Why does that makes a difference you ask? Well, due to complex reasons I’m not going to relate here I ended up with a physical malady. My right knee would crunch terribly. It wouldn’t hurt, but it would make the most almighty horrible sound for a good six years. I had scans etc. and discovered that it was okay, I could have had some crazy surgery which would have reduced the sound, but there was nothing wrong with my knee so I decided to pass on it. Then a few months ago my chiropractor, whose main job is to keep my sciatica in check, did something to my knee and it stopped crunching. Since then I regularly bend my knees and jump on the spot just to hear the silence. I even jumped off a three feet wall the other day and was delighted that I landed just like someone in an action film. So maybe that’s why I like this video. But also…

I didn’t really realise it, but yesterday (when I did all this) I was having a bad day. But when I look back at this video I realise how great a moment that was. In fact, while doing the Art Assignments (and my own art projects) I’ve realised that after the enjoyable moment, after the completion, bad moods have always inevitably followed. This is not to say they cause these moods, it’s just that when the moment passes I regress to my mean, which is to be down-hearted. This is a great epiphany for me. It’s important, I realise, to treasure these artistic, carefree moments, because they keep the bad moods at bay. And that’s an important weapon to have. And one I should use more frequently.

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