Video Art – Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Still Life (Project 2: Time and time-based media – Exercise 2)

Interpreting video art

Watch: Sam Taylor-Wood’s Still Life (2001) http://samtaylorjohnson.com/moving-image/art/still-life-2001

Make notes on:

 

  • Initial response after 1st viewing
  • Media and form of the piece
  • Contextual info; influences, other work, etc
  • How does this comment on time

 

In 250 words describe your understanding of this piece. What do you think Taylor-Wood wants us to think about or experience from watching this?

1. Notes

Initial response after 1st viewing

The opening shot of fruit in a bowl is reminiscent of old still life paintings. The fruit has been selected and chosen with care. The colours are a mix of reds and pale yellows. The small bunch of grapes reminded me of Edwaert Collier’s “Still Life with a Volume of Wither’s ‘Emblemes’”.

The bowl is a gentle brown and its texture contrasts with the smoothness of the fresh fruit. The background behind the bowl is out of focus and provides no distraction from the fruit. The light shines from the left and so produces shadows which accentuate the shapes and forms of the different fruits. The fruit is resting on a pale wooden table with a blue ballpen to the right of the bowl. The pen’s colour and form jars with the fruit. Whist everything else maybe described as natural, the pen is plastic and cheap.

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Longplayer (Project 2: Time and time-based media – Case study)

Case study Interpreting Sound – Longplayer

  • What is your initial reaction to the idea of this piece?
  • What do you think about the sounds in this piece?
  • Why do you think Finer has chosen these particular sounds?

Roundhouse Performance 2009 – Look at how it is presented to the audience. Think about:

  • Quality of the sound
  • Choice of singing bowls
  • Positioning of the bowls
  • Positioning of the spectator
  • Length of the piece
  • How it is performed

Write a short interpretation of Longplayer

1. Initial reaction

I think the idea is an interesting one. The thought that a piece can sustain itself without repetition for 1,000 years feels original. The website likens it to a planetary system where 1,000 years might pass before the planets return to their original alignment. Finer is quoted as saying that the preoccupations that led to its conception were not of a musical nature, rather “…they concerned time, as it is experienced and as it is understood from the perspectives of philosophy, physics and cosmology.” From a cosmological perspective, however, 1,000 year is no time.

My main reactions are questions. Does a good idea necessarily translate into an interesting piece of art? In a piece such as this, is the art the thought and/or conception? If so, does the idea actually need to be executed? If I were to be honest, I think I have more questions than opinions about this piece.

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Time in relation to artwork (Project 2: Time and time-based media – Exercise 1)

Make notes on your own thoughts about time.

  • Have you thought about time in relation to artwork?

  • Have you already come across pieces that explore what time is? Write a little bit about these pieces in your learning log.

1. Thoughts about time

My thoughts could be crudely categorized under the following headings; personal, work and relativity.

Personal

My oldest child is 30 years old later this year and my wife and I are on the threshold of our 60s. I am, in fact both my wife and I are, acutely aware of the passing of time.

During the last six years both of my parents died. The last 6 or 7 months of my dad’s life were difficult due to the relatively sudden deterioration in his mental health. My mother, however, lived healthily up to and including her 91st birthday. The last six months of her life saw a rapid deterioration in her physical health.

This combination of my parents’ death and seeing my children age can’t help but act as a reminder about our mortality in general, and mine in particular! Time will, therefore, become a factor in my wife’s and my decision-making, if it hasn’t become so already.

It is worth noting that time loses its proportional value as we age. At 60 years old, one year is just a 60th of a life whereas at 30 years old it’s worth a thirtieth of your life. Is it any wonder that as we age we complain that time appears to speed up?

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