In conversation

In conversation

As a second-year student studying for a BA in Fine Art at Aberystwyth School of Art I am constantly discovering new approaches and new insights into my art work. During this year I have studied Painting, Sound Art and Interdisciplinary Practice, which have all enabled me to find a cohesion and connection between the different aspects of art that drive my work.

The concept of frequency is playing a large part in my approach to my work this year, incorporating music & sound, colour & light, doing & not-doing. Frequency of practice, frequency as a sympathetic charge that unites dissimilar things, ideas that resonate with other ideas in an expanding conception, these are recurring themes that are helping to inform my work and development.

Abstraction involves me in developing ideas that straddle the disciplines I have been studying. I am attracted to the process of abstracting ideas to feed the range of work I am involved in. I tend to avoid pure abstraction and am drawn to more narrative forms of expression that take their cue from this abstract approach.

My video piece “static/dynamic – the flora and fauna of perception” deals with the juxtaposition of scenes from either a stationary viewpoint or from a viewpoint in motion.

“Imagine a tree, rooted, static, aware but fixed. Imagine a person, mobile, unfixed, fluid in motion.”

This piece aims to promote a conversation on awareness, mindfulness and mindlessness, being still and being in motion, being a witness or being a participant and how these reflect different aspects of our nature in its many forms and interpretations. It presents a range of visual and audio stimuli to encourage one to think about how a tree or plant (flora) might perceive things in comparison to how a person or animal (fauna) might. A static/dynamic conundrum of experience.

My “captured paintings” are examples of the serendipitous moments that photography brings to my work. They show an unrepeatable, frozen moment in time. They are some of the most interesting images, for me. A combination of reality and imagination that creates another viewpoint on the processes and intentions of myself as an artist. They are ephemeral, and if not captured would only exist in a fleeting personal memory, which misses out on the possibility of being shared with others.

For example, “Skyline” was conceived as the sun shone through my window, casting shadows on my desk. Minutes later the sun had moved and the moment was gone. There is an influence from German Expressionist films from the 1920’s, such as Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, in this piece. The twisted architecture, strange angles and theatrical backdrops had a profound effect on me and some of my work directly reflects this.

My Interdisciplinary Practice studies have yielded a rich vein of work, allowing me to play to my strengths and develop my understanding of how I can progress as an artist. My second semester project: “Conversation Pieces“, is a response to the general theme of “Animal”.

“Imaginary animals having imaginary conversations in imaginary environments heard by imaginary people.”

I have been able to take an idea from Semester one and expand it into a multi-level creation. I designed a guitar effects pedal, which a friend hand-made for me. I called it the “buz fox” and this name has followed me throughout the year. I wrote a review of the process of the custom guitar pedal being made & used it to make some of the sounds for my “static/dynamic” video project in Semester one. In Semester two the “buz fox” became my imagined animal and I created music, sound art pieces and a multi-media display, all based on the “buz fox” concept. I also devised and delivered a three-hour audio animal group workshop which was designed to give a voice to my group’s created animals.

I have found this process to be most rewarding. I have been able to develop my initial ideas and incorporate a conceptual continuity that has allowed me to follow the ideas through a focus on Foley and sound design, as a foundation for the development of my group’s ideas about their own animals and the sounds they might make. This led onto the group workshop which looked at communication, including speech patterns and emotionality, storyboarding and graphical scores to create sound art pieces from. I also included a brief tutorial on the use of computer software to create multi-track, inter-species conversations between our imagined animals.

Sound artists Nicolas Collins and Peter Cusack were influential in my work for this project. I have recently been seduced into the world of electronics and circuitry, which is the area that Collins inhabits. I am exploring the flow of things; ideas and electrons, circuits and synapses, conversation and communication. Cusack’s work with environmental recordings was also reflected in my audio compositions. 

My work has been featured in the Aberystwyth School of Art Winter & Spring Shows over the past two years. For the Spring Show this year I delivered a short version of my “Conversation Pieces” workshop. I also created three audio animal conversation sound works, using the recordings from the initial group workshop for the online exhibition. Working with the limitations imposed by the global pandemic has been quite challenging, however, I feel that I have achieved many of my objectives using unfamiliar tools and techniques.

I embedded the three audio animal conversations into separate video films and made the decision to use footage of TV static when the audio was playing. I did this to flood the viewer’s visual perception with random nonsense which enables the auditory to take precedence over the visual. As one can’t make sense of the visual stimulus, one’s hearing takes over as the predominant sense. The pieces were well received and I feel that the idea can be expanded upon, to become a larger piece of work over time. The workshop can appeal to people of all ages and there are many conversations to be had in the future.

All materials copyright © 2020 – 2021 Tim Beckham.

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