I Can’t Help the Way I Feel- My Fat Body

UNIT 2, Videos, Work in Progress

 

An artwork exploring my relationship with my body existing in a culture that simultaneously glorifies and vilifies food and sells diet culture to the masses. Interspersed with clips of my own body are clips of the John Isaacs sculpture “I Can’t Help The Way I Feel”, previously on display at the Medicine Now exhibit at the Wellcome Collection in London, which depicts a vaguely human form (without the head, arms, and genitals) engulfed in an explosion of fat. This video piece is both a response to that work, and a work in it’s own right. Ideally I hope to display this in an exhibition with works made by other fat artists, projected onto a wall at a large scale, so that it cannot be ignored by the viewer. I would also like to make casts of various parts of my body to display in the space, so that the audience is confronted by other kinds of body to what we are force fed in the media-  tiny bodies, with only certain parts deemed acceptable to be large (i.e. bums and boobs on women, usually- but only if they are smooth and free of cellulite and stretchmarks).

A large part of my struggle with my body image comes from the outside world, from society as a whole. The footage of the bacon roll (a Greggs advert) represents the constant imagery of fast food that we are bombarded with, from television adverts to posters and even giant billboards. Being in London, particularly, means we are constantly surrounded by this, as the city is saturated (pardon the pun) with images of food. At the same time we are also assaulted with images of the “perfect” body, whether that is on the front of every magazine, or for diet pill and fitness regime ads on the tube. This constant war between the food we are reminded is unhealthy, and images that show bodies like mine as the “before” all contribute to my twisted self image, and have fueled my disordered eating for years.

The “we’ve shed the pounds” footage is not from a health or fitness shop though- it is from the window of an EE phone shop. Clearly they are advertising that they have made their products cheaper, but the wording and the imagery of the scales alludes to weight loss- on a shop that has nothing to do with weight! I thought that was pretty ridiculous, which is why I filmed it and included it in this piece. I may also record some footage of the diet and fitness ads on the tube next time I use the underground and add it to the video at a later date, as I feel that would fit with the work. I would also like to play around with adding sound to the piece- I considered recording myself reciting some of my writing and poetry on my body, but I don’t really like the sound of my voice, and someone else’s voice would not work as it is a personal piece. I feel music would be distracting, so I might ask some people I know who work with sound to help me come up with something, as I feel the work could benefit from it.

This is definitely a work in progress, and I am excited to see what I can do with it in the future! When I finish my MA I think I would like to get a group of fat artists together to put on an exhibition and run some drawing workshops in the space, inspired by my original Fat Bodies Drawing Workshop for the Post Grad Community at my uni, but bigger, better and fat artist only! Perhaps this work will be part of it, but perhaps I may have moved on to a different piece by then.

3D Printing iPad Scan

river project, UNIT 2, Videos, Work in Progress

The scans using the iPad didn’t pick up much detail, but captured the shape of the bone quite well- I then used Meshmixer to try and get rid of the pen I used to prop up the bone, which was harder than I expected- cutting it off was the easy part, but I struggled to figure out how to seal up the hole left in the mesh. I haven’t shown this part in the video, as I forgot to record it, but you can see on the 3D print where I dragged the mesh across in an attempt to seal up the hole, so I definitely need more practice with this! Overall though I am very happy with how the print came out, for a first attempt I think I did a good job, and going forwards I know I need to practice messing around on MeshMixer to make my other 3D scans and prints look better!

I am planning on scanning the rest with the iPad as well, to see what they come out like, and to act as a back up in case I can’t get them to work with photogrammetry in time.

3D Scanning using iPad 14/01/19

river project, UNIT 2, Videos, Weekly Summaries, Work in Progress

This video is of the Digital Media Technician Adamina demonstrating how to use the 3D scanning software and piece of kit for an iPad. This is one of the more basic 3D scanning techniques available, and as you can see the scan hasn’t picked up the details of the bone, only the rough shapes.

The next step for me is to install a free programme called MeshMixer and cut off the pen, as it came up in the scan, and seal up the piece. Then it will be ready to be 3D printed on Monday next week.

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These photos show the set up in the studio, including white backdrop, plinth, and lighting set up. We suspended the bone from nylon wire so that we could scan the whole object, and used a pen and blueback underneath it for stability- we needed it to be still for the scanning to work.

Next Steps:

  • download MeshMixer and clean up the scan for printing
  • meet with Adamina next Monday (I have booked an appointment with her) and send the scan to print
  • hopefully next week we will also experiment with photogrammetry, which she mentions in the video. This process is a bit more lengthy and complicated- I will have to borrow a camera and lens from uni, and photograph the object multiple times from multiple angles, and then upload these photos to a specialist programme that stitches everything together to create a 3D model. This will take a fair bit of time, and I might still need to work into the objects on the software to clean them up before we can send them to the 3D printer

Silicone casting 15/01/19

river project, UNIT 2, Videos, Work in Progress

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I decided to make silicone casts of the bones, to explore a different material and its potential for my project- and luckily someone else in the foundry also wanted to work with silicone too, so Lindsay mixed up the last bit of silicone she had for us both to use. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough to cast the brick or jaw pieces, so I may revisit this material once she has more in stock. The photos above show the process- weighing and mixing the two parts of the silicone, then pouring it into my moulds, the same as when I used the wax and plaster, as well as photos of the silicone bones de-moulded.

The above video shows clips of all the bones, and demonstrates the qualities of the silicone- as you can see it is a very tactile material that I have had a lot of fun playing with! There is something very surreal about squashing a pink bone in your hands, and being able to fold it then watch it spring back when you let go, and I am very happy with the results of this experiment.

When I get the chance to present these to the class the main feedback I want is whether or not to cut off the excess silicone- the bronze and aluminium casts don’t have the “feet”, but the plaster and glass wax pieces do, so this is something I need to consider when deciding what to present and how in the final exhibition.

Weekly To Do List 14/01/19

river project, UNIT 2, Weekly To Do Lists

Monday:

  • Morning – help prep sandpit and mould for the pour in the afternoon
  • 12pm- meet Adamina and experiment with 3D scanning and printing

Tuesday:

  • Morning- Glass wax cast the jaw pieces and redo the brick
  • Afternoon- start making silicone casts of bones

Wednesday:

  • I have work in the evening so I will probably rest during the day

Thursday:

  • 10am – 12pm Group tutorial
  • Continue casting in glass wax/silicone/polymer plaster (brick)
  • Work on aluminium bone casts?

Friday:

  • Photograph pieces so far
  • Continue working on presentation for 7th March

Glass Wax Tests 11/01/19

Photographs, river project, UNIT 2, Videos, Weekly Summaries, Work in Progress

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Some photos taken of the process of casting with glass wax- the melting glass wax, the casts full of glass wax, and photos of the failed jaw bone casts and brick cast. Casting the brick hollow with glass wax is proving troublesome- the wax is very brittle and the sides of the cast keep breaking as I try to de-mould it. I will try one more time to cast it hollow but a bit thicker and if that doesn’t work I might have to cast it solid instead. The jaw bone pieces kept failing as the glass wax is too thick and not hot enough to flow all the way through the moulds- I will try to get it hotter next time, but I have to be careful in case the wax gets too hot and the colour changes.

Video demonstrating the properties of glass wax and the casting process.
I wanted to explore the properties and materiality of glass wax, and these are the results so far.
Clip 1: the chunk of unmelted glass wax, demonstrating what it looks like before it is melted and cast- you can see how the light refracts and passes through it.
Clip 2 and 3: the glass wax as it melts, showing the viscosity and how it stretches and flows much like real glass when in molten form. It is very different to other waxes I have used in the past.
Clips 4 and 5: the first attempts at casting the jaw bones in glass wax- as you can see the wax didn’t flow completely through the moulds as it was not hot enough and cooled too fast. I will try again but with the wax much hotter so hopefully it will flow through the moulds properly.
The rest of the clips: the other bone casts in glass wax.

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These photos show the second attempt at casting the jaw bones in glass wax (still not hot enough), the glass wax casts all together, the broken hollow brick cast (the details were captured beautifully, it’s just a shame that the sides broke), and one of the glass wax casts lit by Jonathan’s phone torch- as an experiment to see how light travels through them. I think going forwards I would like to photograph the glass wax pieces with a light source beneath them like this, but using a more professional set up.

Notes on glass wax:

  • Properties- melts differently to waxes I have used in the past (i.e. the green and orange waxes used in uni, soy wax, paraffin wax, beeswax)
  • As it melts it goes quite stringy and is still very thick and viscous, can be stretched into glass-like threads that look like nylon thread
  • It sets VERY quickly and needs to be quite hot to pour well, but you have to be super careful not to overheat it as it can make the wax change colour
  • You can add oil paint as a pigment to glass wax, but I’m more interested in how it looks originally- like a translucent glass
  • I might do one or two in colour just to see what it looks like, but we’ll see
  • It is quite brittle- I tried to make a hollow brick cast and the sides shattered (like glass) as I tried to remove the cast- if I retry this I will need to make it thicker
  • It picks up detail really beautifully and I’m definitely impressed
  • I need to redo the jaw bones in glass wax as the wax wasn’t hot enough and as a result didn’t flow through the moulds properly

 

Plaster Room 03/12/18

Weekly Summaries, Work in Progress

Today I got the third and final rose ran up, then attached to the cup with the rest using hot knives and wax. Then I painted a layer of shellac over everything, to help the grog to stick to it, and once it was dry I covered it all in first coat grog.

Once that had set we put the plastic cylinder over it all, and I layered scrim (netted fabric) and plaster along the bottom, to seal the cylinder to the board, and around the middle of the cylinder for stability. As soon as this was set I spent the rest of the afternoon mixing and pouring second coat grog, to fill the entire cylinder to make the mould ready for the kiln.

Really proud of my progress today! Got loads done, and worked hard to get the mould ready for the kiln. It doesn’t look like I’ll have a chance to pour before the break, but at least when I get back it will be all ready to go.

Practical Work To Do List

river project, Weekly Summaries, Work in Progress
  • Buy saucepan for glass wax
  • Use existing moulds to make glass wax casts
  • Use existing moulds to make jesmonite casts (plaster casts didn’t work)
  • Finish bronzes and aluminium casts
  • Go back to riverbank and find plastic bottle (and other things?)
  • Cast bottle in foundry (?)
  • Use existing moulds to use eco resin? – Speak to Jonathan in 3D
  • Find 3D scanning/printing place and look into costs

I would like to get as much of this done by January as pos, so I can start casting my objects in Ceramics in the 2nd term

Using an Engraving Tool on the Bronze Brick

river project, Videos, Work in Progress

Process Video: Using an Engraving Tool from Kat Outten on Vimeo.

This short clip shows how I have been using an electric engraving tool to work details back into the surface of the brick wherever it was lost due to the casting process. The shiny parts are where I have used an angle grinder or Dremel tool previously to get rid of runners, risers, and other imperfections on the surface of the bronze. I have to take frequent breaks when using these tools, and swap hands often, as the vibration from the tool makes my wrists ache, but otherwise it is fairly simple to use. As always I follow safety protocol, wearing a visor, ear protection, dust mask, and gloves to protect myself, as well as having the extractor fan on and handling all tools safely and responsibly.

Work in the Interim Show

Exhibitions, river project, Videos

Video of my work in the show, including close up clips of each finished bronze piece, and a clip of the whole display.

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The two photos above show the set up for the exhibition, and one of the visitors interacting with my objects. The back row of objects are the real bones that each bronze was cast from, with the cast displayed in front of each one. I chose this format as I wanted to see whether viewers would be more likely to pick up the bones or the bronze casts, and i wanted it to have an almost museum-like feel to the display. I did put in the artwork description “Please Touch Me” but as it wasn’t very visible not many visitors did pick up or interact with the objects like I wanted. As well as the label not being very visible I also feel that the gallery space, as a concept, probably contributed to the lack of interaction- in most galleries and museums the audience is highly discouraged, if not prohibited, from touching the artworks. This is something I am very much against, and want to challenge with my work, so going forwards I think I need to make it clearer to the audience that they can and should pick up and touch my work. I will probably do this through larger and clearer signage, but I will have to see what happens at our next show, and what is possible with the space we have.

The feedback I got from people who did pick up and touch my work was overwhelmingly positive- I was asked about my walks and how/where I collected the objects, I was questioned about the process of casting, and about the ideas behind the project. Although my display was simple I was very pleased with how it looked, and I thought that it fit well with my classmates work, although our work was quite different nothing looked out of place and it was visually cohesive. I did find it difficult to stay in the room for more than five minutes at a time though, due to the combination of sounds from my classmates work. It was quite overwhelming so I found myself frequently wandering around the other spaces in the exhibition whilst invigilating.