Module Brief Breakdown, Chosen Artefacts and Research

In this post I will be discussing the artefacts I have looked into and considered doing for this module. It’s important to note that because I came into my group late, I will most likely not be working on either of these, despite the fact, I think I should try and imagine the what-ifs – let’s say I didn’t find a group until even later on in the module and started working on my own thing so as not to waste time – these artefacts are the ones I would’ve chosen in that scenario.

The brief asked us to choose an artefact that was not from the field of illustration, but would retain the art and design basis, then, we’d have to analyze it and extract a selection of keywords that would serve the purpose of categorizing/contextualising the piece, then we’d have to do research on the extracted keywords and figuring out a modern context that could be applied to the piece, and, lastly, recreating the piece with said modernized context.

Ever since we got the brief, I’ve had a sort of clear idea of what I wanted to do, or at least I thought I did. Looking through the examples put up on the module’s pinterest board proposed a slight challenge – there was no clear direction given – no clarity on whether we had to just replace a part of the piece or completely rework the piece and just pay homage to the source material. To be fair, I have no idea why that threw me off as much as it did, every single module up till this point did the same – every brief was incredibly open-ended and it was up to us to pick the route we wanted to take.

I found that being thrown into a pool of possibilities often overwhelms me, however, based on past experiences, there is truly no need to worry as I always end up overcoming that part of the challenge eventually. What’s better is that this time round, it’s not just my decision to make. This project is the first mandatory group work project and I have to say, I was NOT thrilled when I first found out – rants in the kitchen, rants over the phone, rants in my head, rants, rants and even more rants. I truly made the beginning of the module rather difficult for myself by trying to deny that this is what was happening. Thankfully, after a few good conversations, I was able to put my unwillingness to comply to rest. I think what it was was that I am quite independent creatively and I am very protective over my concepts and processes, the thought of anyone having a say in regards of what the final piece will be was scary. I’ll be the first to admit that I am a control freak when it comes to creative practices, I don’t like being not in control and I think that will be the hardest thing to overcome in this module. However, I think I’m slowly easing up on the idea of it. What I learned from my previous experiences is that I seriously need to chill out. I keep treating university like it’s life or death, but it really isn’t! I need to understand that this is a safe space for us to try out ultimately anything and everything. To a point, I do understand that, but have continuously failed to apply it to my practices on this journey. I want that to end with this module – and it will! I want to give group work an honest shot. Whatever the outcome is, at the very least I can say “I gave it a shot”, which is exactly why we’re here – trying out new things and seeing what clicks for us.

With that rambly bit out of the way, I can move on to the meat of the post – the artefacts and my research for them. Of course, not to say that the rambly bit is not important, but obviously, this is the main reason anyone would go onto this post. The rambly bits serve as sort of beef jerky, a snack before the main dish. I sometimes think that it’s rather obnoxious of me to go on these rambles on a blog dedicated to my university ventures, however, I think these rambles are JUST as important as the bits where I showcase my work as it displays my growth and thinking processes as well as the uni journey in itself. This blog is a documentation of not just the evolution of my craft in a professional academic setting, it’s also a showcase of my growth as a person and a creative. Right, I think I’m done for real now. Onto the main dish!

For my first artefact, I thought I’d go for Bosch’s triptych, titled “The Garden of Earthly Delights”. It’s a piece of work that has always peaked my interest and I thought that due to the amount of detail and context within the original work, creating a modernized version of it would be huge – perfect for a group project.

The piece possibly depicts the author’s perception of life, each piece symbolizing a distinct stage. The first, recalling the Biblical scene that took place in the garden of Eden, could represent birth – the beginning of all sin; the middle piece being life and its sinful nature; and the last – depicting death, or, more so, hell – the ultimate punishment for sinful existence. However, it would appear that hell and its inhabitants do make an appearance as early as the stage of birth, perhaps insinuating that life, in the artist’s eyes, is just the gateway to eternal damnation in the pit of Earth. Hellish creatures (and hell in general), sinful activities, grotesque environments with surrealistic structures scatted across, forms of punishment and suffering are the key elements of the triptych. A recurring theme in this brief analysis is hell transcending death, hell being the constant state of being – existence is hell.

Keywords: Hell, Sin, Punishment, Existentialism, Reflection of life, A fate worse than death.

With my rework of the piece, I would’ve loved to have gone for quite a literal take on the matter and turn the piece into a horror-house sort of construction that would walk the visitor through Hieronymus’ creation. However, there would be a twist – I would love to advertise it as a walk-through of the original piece, having the starting bit be a complete replica of Bosch’s piece, but then, gradually, having real-world elements replace the original pieces here and there, until eventually, the visitor is exposed to the hell that is our reality, having everything replaced with pieces that would reflect the most recent unfortunate events in our world in this day and age. The end of the ride would be a plummet down to the pit of hell, which would serve as the exit of the attraction, letting them go with a newfound perception of the reality that they live in. Hell transcending death. Hell transceding art.

The way I imagine modernization of this piece would work is if I took separate elements, looked into what they represent (i.e. what sin is the punishment displayed for; what crime is being committed, what cultural significance does a creature showcase hold, etc.) and found a recent event that could potentially serve as a replacement for them. Heavy symbolism would be necessary to get the point across, however, it would be interesting to maintain at least a tiny bit of the surrealism and iconism that the artist has created within his piece. Although, sensitivity to subject matter should be considered with this approach as otherwise it could be taken the wrong way.

The other piece I considered as a possible candidate is the Witches’ Sabbath by Francisco Goya. I’m not entirely sure what it is about this piece that speaks to me but it does. I noticed a tendency within myself of having interest in rather morbid topics, more often than not, tied in with psychology, which, is probably a good route to take for someone who is not quite there psychologically. Consuming and analysing content like that helps me understand myself a whole lot better, works as great food for thought. While it can trip me over sometimes, in the end I end up garnering more positives from it than negatives.

The piece depicts a ritual carried out by a group of women, referred to the artist as witches. It appears to be a peace offering to the devil – portrayed by a rather humanoid goat. They seem to be offering children, but it could also be interpreted as an offering of innocence, purity, life. The focal point, or rather, main character of the piece, as suggested by the triangular composition, is the devil themselves. Reading up on the piece has revealed a lot more historical context as opposed to symbolic context.

Goya’s paintings have been seen as a protest against those who upheld and enforced the values of the Spanish Inquisition, which had been active in Witch hunting during the seventeenth-century Basque witch trials.

Wikipedia

I feel like this could be used as an advantage in recreating the piece as it creates a new possible route for it. One of them would solely be based around what can be seen, with minimal historical context, the other, taking the historical context into consideration and altering it by applying a modern context to it.

  • With minimal historical context – the bad habit that is practiced by people in a semi or non-semi ritualistic fashion, regardless of age or other demographical factors (race, gender, status, other).
  • With historical context in mind – portraying a group of people idolizing someone that is deemed evil by enough people to make the practice of idolizing them taboo or coven-esque.

Another thing I found quite interesting is the fact a lot of the symbols displayed in the piece are inverted:

Typical of the imagery of witchcraft, many of the symbols used are inverted. The goat extends his left rather than right hoof towards the child, while the quarter moon faces out of the canvas at the top left corner. In the middle high-ground, a number of bats can be seen flying overhead, their flocking motion echoing the curve of the crescent moon.

https://www.franciscogoya.com/

Perhaps challenging the binary/the ordinary, subverted expectations, destruction of stereotypes could also be added to the list of possibilities for a remake.

Keyword: Ritual, The devil, Coven, Offering, Stereotypes, Evil, Women, Age, Sacrifice, Purity.

One thought on “Module Brief Breakdown, Chosen Artefacts and Research

  1. Pingback: Expanding On The Concept For Witches’ Sabbath – Robertas Tijusas

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