Thoughts about the individual elements of multimedia installation, The Last 'ee aw' of Buridan's Ass

Bucky, I'm bored.

Wood, string, eye-screws and paint, 2018

Last year I became interested in the geometry of nature and brutalist architecture. My research led me to Buckminster Fuller and his famous geodesic dome. I set myself the task of building a geodesic dome from scratch and designed it so that I would be able to stand up straight in the centre. I managed to complete the task and the dome filled my 3.5m square studio space. The task complete, I worked inside the dome for a few days but soon got tired of crawling in and out of triangles. I dismantled it and began experimenting with the pieces. What else could I make with them? Repetitively constructing and deconstructing was back-breaking. I began to favour the unsymmetrical over the symmetrical and then focussed on what could be considered the antithesis of the original dome: small, pathetic, seemingly pointless groupings. I was done with the dome; with its utopian ideals; with perfection. 'Bucky' was, in fact, Buckminster Fuller's nickname and the title of the work is a play on the title of an album by Evan Dando (Baby I'm Bored, 2003).    

Twiddle Dumb Simple

Projected video, 5 mins 41 secs, loop

I caught myself twiddling my thumbs on the top deck of the bus on the way home one night. As a gesture it seemed to encapsulate everything I was thinking about and doing at the time in the studio. It was soothing, skin against skin. A substitute for the human touch and intimacy that I have missed of late. Its 'round and round' rhythm occupied my body, propelling my mind to other places. Skin on skin, hand touching hand, self touching self. Subject and object seemed to dissolve and with them my ego. This is pure escapism.

Twiddle Dumb Multiples

Video on screen, the artist’s boots, two Surrogates (inside boots), 2 mins 7 secs loop

It's always worth seeing what happens if you repeat, double or duplicate something. In the case of the twiddling thumbs video, something interesting occurs. Little, fleshy, headless bodies straddle the individual videos; dancing their own unique, circular dance. They move to different times and sway rhythmically. There is something perverse about it; uncanny. It is something new; something transgressing the known.  

Surrogate #7

Fired terracotta, 40 x 10 x 15 cm, 2018

The Surrogates started life as therapy. I wanted to do something slow and physical, using my hands and I didn't want to have to think. I soon realised that the forms that were emerging were unintentionally bodily. Gaston Bachelard wrote about the way that snails extrude their shells and I felt that I, too, was somehow extruding these forms. I sat cross-legged on the floor throughout, working the clay in my lap with my hands. As the clay began to harden it would feel just like skin pulled taut over muscle. Pushing holes through the clay body could be considered, then, an act of violence. Yet, as a child at the beach, it seemed obvious, after making a big sandcastle, to make a hole that ran all the way through it so that you could touch someone's fingers in the middle. Perhaps then, this work is about touch; about connection. But as with Twiddle Dumb Simple, the only other fingers I touch during the process are my own. Again, subject and object fuse, opening a portal to an ego-less time-space. There are currently eight surrogates. 

Boxy

Cardboard, masking tape and pretend eyes, 15 x 15 x 15 cm, 2018

Boxy has been my studio mascot for the last year and kept me company when I have seemed invisible to the world. Boxy doesn't judge.

Dancing with the Noonday Demon

Projected video, 3 hrs, 30 mins loop, 2018

Soma cubes, bedlam cubes, diabolical cubes. There is a theme running through the names of these puzzle cubes. They are devilishly difficult to complete; they may even drive one to madness. I set myself the arduous and tedious task of making several of these cubes to play with. It seemed important that I made them by hand; this investment of time and energy would imbue the wooden blocks with my own personal history. 

Noonday Demon is a term associated with acedia, melancholy or boredom. Between the hours of 10am and 2pm, the hottest time of day in the desert, ascetic monks living out their lonely, devoted lives in caves would suddenly be overcome by a sense of tedium, depression and nostalgia for home. It was the most testing time and Noonday Demon was held responsible!

Having finished making hundreds of individual pieces of various puzzle cubes I began to play with them. I had some success completing the three by three soma cubes but was completely at a loss trying to solve the four by four bedlam and diabolical cubes. After failing many times over, my frustration at getting stuck turned into amusement. Hello failure, here we are again! I decided to embrace these moments and let my failures lead me in new directions, leaving the search for  perfection and success behind.  

Self-portal #2

White chalk on wall, 3 x 3 m, 2018

Light, body, stick, chalk, wall. Repetitive, toil on body. Shadow escapes body. Shadow as an aspect of body that isn’t body. She moves, it moves. It feels no pain. It is free of flesh, skin, bone, muscle, vein, failure. But it follows her or precedes her. it is her. it isn’t her. it is light around her. She is blocking the light. A trick. It is the light that is visible, not the shadow. But the human sees herself. She sees herself. She recognises herself in the dark space left by the light. She recognises her existence as a body, as a light-blocking object. She exists. She was here. here and here. A body was definitely here and this is how far it could move within the light; whilst keeping light outside of it. 

©2018 Julia Hopkins All Rights Reserved.
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