This guest post is by Kim Walker, who is pursuing a PhD in Composition at the University of Aberdeen, working with sound, video, installation and new media. She is a Scottish artist whose work explores pathos within playfulness, humour and the everyday. Kim creates settings in which the mundane and the playful, ordinary gesture can suddenly invoke existential and poetic meanings. Profile: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/music/people/kim-walker-586.php & SERG: http://www.serg-aberdeen.net/people/kim-walker/
For practice-based research, creating and applying a methodology has it’s challenges. For many artists, art works are developed with different goals and themes that can make applying a recurring working method difficult. This also applies to my work, however, I have been breaking down my working process for each piece, so that this becomes clearer and I can see where there are similarities to my approach across my art practice.
1. Readings & Research – I always read when I am developing new work. This might be to learn about a particular theme or idea I’m working through or it may be to familiarise myself with an artists’ work who I feel is exploring similar themes to myself. I also write and notation is one of the processes that I have benefited from throughout my career. Instead of a visual sketchbook, I have a diary of sorts where many of my thoughts, ideas and to-do lists are collected.
2. Recording – I usually have a still image, or a set of sounds in my mind that I want to capture. Next, is to set out to record this material. I over record, making sure I have more than enough footage. Sometimes I will record numerous ‘takes’ and then I can choose which to take forward. At this stage I usually have an idea of how I imagine the form of a first edit to take. I also have some presentation ideas for the work, such as an installation idea, diagram or technical set up.
3. Post-production – Next is creating a first edit of the footage. I have been working where I strip back much of the content, leaving a minimal amount of edited material. I apply effects such as EQ, compression and digital filters to further enhance this and to assist with clarity of sound and image. An example of working in this way is to erase one voice of a conversation or removing video footage so that the source of the conversation/event is unclear. This ‘erasing’ is where my thesis will focus on, the creation of new ‘communicative forms’ by deconstructing digital material and presenting these ‘fictions’ to the viewer.
4. Presentation – I have presented work through installation, broadcasts, online websites and collections. I am also exploring live performance elements as part of my research. I see this as not necessarily the final stage for the work, but another opportunity to try something out. I’ve shown the same work in multiple venues; each time it changes and becomes a new iteration of the piece. So, although this is the last stage of my methodology, the result may not be the final one.
5. Finding Support – My academic career has given me invaluable support to develop my practice. I have been fortunate to work with academics who truly see the subtleties and nuances in what I create and assign this with as much value to our understanding the world as I. Online and peer support is also important, especially artist opportunities through exhibitions and residencies where you get a chance to play and experiment. Additionally, be seeking out and creating your own support network, you can be challenged to build and strengthen your working methods through discussion with others.
6. Keeping a Record – For each of my portfolio works, I am keeping a document with images and diagrams that sets out these stages and the steps I have taken to apply this methodology. I hope that this will be useful when I am asked ‘Yes but how exactly did you make this?’
For links to the accompanying audio works: