After initially struggling to come up with a good concept, my partner and I realised that what we really wanted to look at was the value of art and what makes it valuable. This was inspired by John Berger’s Ways of Seeing series, in which he states that the value of art has declined since the invention of the camera. “In a crucial but quite simple way, it has even changed paintings painted long before it was even invented.” (YouTube, 2012) Before the camera, and therefore the introduction of printing and mass production, there was only one way to view a painting, and that was to go see it in the location it was being shown in. So, for example, if we didn’t have printing and mass production we would have to go to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, instead of simply looking it up on a search engine.
Our original idea was to do a tour of the gallery, which would include some activities for the audience to participate in. When we first pitched our idea we hadn’t decide what these activities would be, but we had a couple of ideas. The first was inspired by a children’s activity we had seen in The Usher Gallery. We would have a whiteboard set up which would have cut up versions of a piece of artwork from the gallery magnetically stuck on to it. We would then invite the audience to come up to the whiteboard and recreate the art and later create a new piece of art using the first artwork and another. This would show how easy it is to recreate art and create new pieces out of existing work, both of which have been made easier thanks to the invention of the camera and mass production.
We later dropped the idea of doing a tour, having decided that the performance would have bigger impact if it was just the whiteboard. At first we decided that we would move the whiteboard from room to room in the gallery, recreating a piece of artwork from each room. We would do this for an hour and then take an hour break. We would leave the whiteboard unattended for an hour to see whether the audience would approach the whiteboard to have a go at recreating the art as well. We would also have a second piece of art in a bucket next to the whiteboard, so they could use it to make a new artwork if they desired. However, after we visited each room in the gallery we realised that we would be unable to do this in every room as there was not a piece of artwork we could use in each. So we decided to instead focus on the first two galleries on the bottom floor.
Like before we would spend an hour in each room, recreating the artwork over and over. The art would be cut up and printed onto magnetic paper. We added the idea of having a full version of the art already on the whiteboard, so we would be sticking the pieces over the full version to show how easy it is to copy original artwork.
During our lesson on March 18th our tutor gave us a jigsaw of a piece of artwork that she found, which inspired us. We decided to create our own jigsaw using a piece of artwork from the gallery. We would set this up in one room, with the whiteboard in another, and we would invite our audience to, one by one, put the jigsaw together piece by piece.
The next steps we need to take towards our performance is to get images of the artwork we would like to use from the gallery and purchase the magnetic paper and jigsaw. We also need to source a whiteboard. Once we have all the props we need we can get to rehearse our piece and change anything we feel doesn’t quite work. For example, we need to try out inviting the audience to create the jigsaw to see if our audience would be willing to join in.
YouTube (2012) John Berger / Ways of Seeing, Episode 1 (1972). [online video] Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pDE4VX_9Kk [Accessed 29th March 2015]
Image from: http://creeksidedigital.com/services/fine-art-reproduction/