Intro: From Brainstorm to Art Installation
Questions lead to more questions and images will arise. I find it always very useful to stimulate this process by having several brainstorm sessions. It usually starts with simply writing down words and short sentences, anything that comes to mind. Everything is allowed and possible, you need to give yourself this freedom.
After a few sessions the ideas and images become more clear. I tend to have a purely visible brainstorm i.e. start drawing and/or painting anything that comes to mind. This gives me a better idea about the character of the project / art installation. That's also the moment to delete some ideas.
After the brainstorms, the testing takes place. You need to find out if your ideas will work practically. This is when I normally find out some weird law of physics that forces me to rethink and test again.
Step 1: Testing Images
After the brainstorms I picked a couple ideas to research a bit more and create photographic images using different techniques. I believe you need to do this in order to experience the look and feel of the end result. For the neurons I used the pinhole technique and for rage I needed to try more and different things, because the first test didn't convince me.
For the first test I painted a glass plate. Holding the glass in a vertical position and adding a black background, I would tun off the lights and use a small red light to make circular movements behind the pained glass. This test was also done, using a pinhole camera (analogue). After I had printed the picture I found out I wasn't pleased with the result.
So get a more dark, cloudy look and feel (thunder and lightning) I decided to paint cotton balls red. It took some time before it was completely dry to make it fluffy again. I placed the red cotton balls inside a glass bowl and put a small red light in the middle. The last picture shows the effect, it was precisely what I wanted. It passed the test.
Step 2: Testing Forms and Shapes
For this project I wanted to work with cut outs, replaced by cubes to emphasis the confusion I am feeling whilst finding out about the Self and if I even have one. I encourage everyone to read about the subject you want to portray. For this project I read about philosophers and their ideas about the Self plus social scientist who have a different approach to it, that more or less allowed for the You in my installation.
To find out if cut outs work, you simply need to cut stuff out ;-) One of the pinhole pictures I had taken and printed was used for the first test of the pattern. It completely changed at the end, but that's all part of the process; trail and error and sometimes discovering better solutions. After the cut out I wanted to replace them with cubes. This is when I found out that the cubes needed to alter in height and size. I also discovered that it takes a lot of time to find the right order in which to place the cubes.
Different sizes and heights and also playing with mirrors made the test very time consuming, but I needed it to find out what would work. When do you know if it works: arranging the cubes and mirrors, re-arranging them and stepping back to have a look. As a human being we tend to like patterns, it helps to look and analyse what it is we're looking at. When looking at the final result, the first tests were too crowded so to speak.
Step 3: Parachute Fabric
During the testing of the images and forms/shapes a brainstorm continued in a more intrinsic way. Thoughts that occur whilst working out the first steps. It had to do with presenting the 5 images. The cut outs and cubes formed a different kind of image, but how was I going to present this image?
It felt that my search for my Self was indeed an intrinsic process, so I wanted people to have a look inside so to speak. Which of course let to a dilemma; if people were to stick their heads inside, it would alter the amount of light entering. As usual when working and thinking about a particular project, ideas seem to pop-up out of nowhere. I thought "I should find some parachute fabric. It's light and strong and might just do the trick."
This was the easiest and quickest test of the whole process. I had wrapped the fabric around the wooden sticks and found out it interacted fantastic with light, any light even when it was almost dark. So I chose the white parachute fabric.
Step 4: Me, My Self & You
After months of thinking, trying, testing and failing I finally reached the moment of presentation. Five 'viewing boxes' made of wooden sticks and parachute fabric, showing portraits of my search for my Self.