I was thrilled and amazed to receive over a hundred thoughts on what my followers are "tired of" and having been inspired to develop a spur of the moment blog post into a full collection of artworks including handmade books, installations and diagrams. However, I still didn't feel satisfied that I had repaid the sharing of all those who commented. I knew that illustrating these issues may offer support to those who see my artworks on display but I wanted to send my thoughts to each person who had commented. To show my gratitude and to retain the personal connection in my works: Each of these people are human beings that allowed themselves some vulnerability to share with me in my project and reading them I felt each comment as if an outreach from a dear friend.
Therefore, I decided to write back. Not just the usual, "Thanks for commenting!", blog response but a genuine and focused time dedicated to these individuals and their troubles. For 12 hours (well 15 if you include breaks to eat and change camera) I wrote letters to each commentor from the original blog post. Writing every answer with the aim to offer empathy and support just as I would to a close friend. It was intense, emotionally and physically painful, but left me with a feeling of having repaid a debt and completed something important and meaningful. I hope that my work can inspire this kind of need to communicate, support and share the way that your comments have done for me.
'12 Hours of Answers' was filmed and will be displayed as a video and installation in my upcoming exhibition 'Listening to the Masses' (Kunstpodium T, Tilburg, Netherlands, 3-20th May 2018). After which I will be photographing each answer individually to post here so that the original commentors (including anonymous commentors) can find my letter to them.
I then tried a couple ways of making the 'pom-charts' by cutting the cardboard ring to scale to the number of comments as in the drawn versions and drawing on the pie chart lines to fill each section with the relevant coloured thread. I found the most accurate way was to count each wrap as one degree of the pie-chart meaning once cut the pompom has a dense fluffy appearance with exactly two threads per degree.
I then made tassels to separate the comments by who initiates the problem mentioned. For these each wrap equated to one comment which meant once cut every comment became two threads. The first group (pink, orange and purple) reflect the issues that are at least partially initiated by oneself. The second (blue) are caused by other people or society at large. The tiny third group (yellow) shows non-human initiated or 'situational' issues. I felt this was a great way to give a tactile representation of our own responsibility for the problems faced by ourselves and others whilst retaining a playful, upbeat aesthetic.
These were connected to the original artwork with the same thread as used to bind my series of 'Tired' books that inspired the piece by piercing the centre of the correlating 2-dimensional pie.
You travel through life as if waiting for a moment - a sudden brightness proving the existence of reality. Stare through a one-way mirror to the ghosts of a space that you reflect within but feel not a part of. Standing at a station you stare numbly across the void of empty tracks to witness others, like you, unseeing on their journey.
Then, one day, crack the mirror is broken, by a single soul that, staring ever-blindly as in any other day, finds your stare. And in a crash of realism the blind are seeing - seeing each other, for the first time. The other looks not only upon your mirrored existence but through the chasm of this blurred realm to see you. Through your bored expression and politely closed posture, into the reality you had thought to be but a dream of childhood. In a moment you are one, connected by the energy that pours from your souls, previously trapped by society. It dances in the air like tropical birds reunited with the wild. Spreading their colourful plumage, they touch this bland world with the light of reality. A reality not wasted in routine; but celebrated in emotion and togetherness.
You have found your one. One of many. The one whom ignites the world and brings your soul to dance.
But life soon calls to all: Your train will come and so will theirs. And you may simply shrug, as passers-by most often do in this routine existence. You board the train again. And find a seat alone, again. And as, again, you stare out of the window to the repetitive scenery of your existence, you allow just a hint of colour to filter into your daydreams - a remnants of a possible life beyond this route.
Or perhaps, one day, you may just follow the dance...
[Written sitting on the floor of a busy train, travelling in the wrong direction.]
The portraits were well received with many visitors finding a deep understanding of my concept: The complexity of humanity and the lack of genuine social connection we have with one another. I noticed many more people than expected stopped and spent a good length of time reading and becoming involved with the portraits. Looks of interest, concern and humour crossing their faces as they scanned the variety of personal information supplied from each subject.
This was a huge success for the project and the motivation I needed to plan my next stage: Picking out these statements that get these visible responses from visitors and illustrating them in their own statements. A way of highlighting the oddities of human conversation that get us so emotionally involved in conversation.
My criticisms for this exhibition would be that my room was difficult to find on an upper floor of a side wing to the building. This along with the complicated maps provided meant many people visited the central exhibition and simply avoided the wings. Whilst I had little control over the curation of the exhibition I will keep this in mind when considering future exhibitions in this type of building that needs at least a clear route made to ensure areas are not missed accidentally. Secondly, most visitors are very uncomfortable using the tablet which meant most ignored entirely or read only the part of the page that was showing, not scrolling to see the explanation or comment box. This may be helped in future by printing a full explanation on paper and having the tablet only on the comment box or simply leaving a comment book with printed explanation. It is expected that some will be entirely irrelevant contributions but I do believe more would get involved with this more inviting medium.