Final Piece + Evaluation

Alas, time has come to finish off the second year and as usual, I’ll be doing it by writing out a post talking about my final piece for the module. In this post, I will be going over the finalized concept, inspirations as well as showcasing the work I’ve made as well as the process pictures that I’ve taken over the course of the module and at the very bottom of the post I will include the 500 word evaluation that we were asked to write out. I have found it extremely difficult to keep up with developmental posts over the course of the module, therefore this post will be much longer than most of my previous final piece posts as I will be talking through everything in a single go. For maximum clarity, the linearity of the post will follow the sequence that I have listed above and highlighted using bold text.

My initial idea, as I’ve noted down in my first post for the module, followed the narrative of an autopsy that would have been performed on my body, exploring the theme of regret but made somewhat autobiographical by having it be based around my own regrets and the effects they may have had on my body.

To this day, I think the idea holds great potential , however, having a tutorial in which I could talk it over early on in the module really put into perspective just how overly-ambitious I was being yet again! I did attempt to tone it down a bit and instead of doing everything I was thinking of doing, focusing on a select few pieces and pushing them as far as I possibly could, but, unfortunately, ended up changing the idea altogether after I had realized it was not doing me any good in the mental department. I had already been in a rather wobbly place with my well-being at that point and actively thinking about every single major regret I’ve ever had, as you’d expect, made it all the more unbearable. I had realized that trying to “assign” a physical deformity to individual regrets and in turn forming a sort of chimaera of remorse, in the long run, was the working of my deeply ingrained self-hatred. I had actively spent all this time essentially dehumanizing myself and for what?

This mental breakthrough made me scrap the idea altogether and turn my attention to the aforementioned self-hatred, I started thinking about possible narratives that I could create off of it and the one I was able to come up with was that of “Moonhead” – an autobiographical (graphic) novel in which I am first made aware of the malicious force in my life that is my self-hatred and for a small while everything was working, until I started thinking of whether I wanted it to be a silent narrative or not. While thinking about it, I ended up having conversations with this voice of self-hatred within me and after a short while I realized that it had not been the only voice in my head (other than that of my consciousness) – I realized that self-pity had been pulling some strings within me for some time too.

Initially, the name Moonhead was meant to be a reflection of my struggles with self-hatred, taking a lot of inspiration for the natural cycles of the moon phases – a constant battle between the dark and the bright sides, ever-changing but at no point is one side obsolete. Given that, it was going to be a novel about me learning to overcome self-hatred, learning to live with it, however, upon realizing that self-pity had been there all along, I decided to resort to a different route, one that would incorporate self-pity in it as well. I retained the name Moonhead, but now it had a slightly different meaning – the bright side was now represented by self-pity – the defender, and the dark – by self-hatred , the aggressor. I imagined these entities to be an extension of my body, an extra layer of flesh and skin, wrapped around the core that is me and my mental self. I was initially intending on representing self-pity as a face formed on the front of my own, while self-hatred, at the back of my head, being almost tumour-like, but seeing as I had just made the realization that I had been dehumanizing myself by giving myself these deformities, I ended up going for something more tame. The initial idea of two faces was mostly inspired by the urban legend of Edward Mordake.

An account described Mordake’s figure as one with “remarkable grace” and with a face similar to that of an Antinous.[2] The second face on the back of Mordake’s head — supposedly female[3] — reportedly had a pair of eyes and a mouth that drooled.[4] The duplicate face could not see, eat or speak, but was said to “sneer while Mordake was happy” and “smile while Mordake was weeping”.[5] According to legend, Mordake repeatedly begged doctors to have his “demon face” removed, claiming that at night, it whispered things that “one would only speak about in hell”, but no doctor would attempt it. This then led to Mordake secluding himself in a room before deciding to take his own life at the age of 23.[5][6]

Wikipedia

But after the decision of scrapping anything too dehumanizing I was met with an alternative solution – torture devices, or to be more specific – the iron maiden. I had a look at other possibilities like waterboarding and plastic bag suffocation but with how I wanted to make my final piece, I don’t think they would have worked.

Mayhaps a tad grim of a comment to make but I found it quite intriguing how every iron maiden I had come across had some form of a bust of a person on top of it, with a face full of agony on full display. The humour fit the age alright..

With that figured out, I was now able to start creating my final piece. Before I could though, I gave a couple of mediums a test drive in order to plan out the next couple of weeks before hand-in, one of them was weaving, I’ve written out a post for it here, the other – crochet – was something very fresh to me as I had never done it before this. I knew from the get-go that I would be aiming for a final piece that would be 3D so I skipped the basics of flat crochet and jumped straight to 3D crochet.

I started out by doing some practice shapes which I was intending on using for a mini-test-project before I could get to making the final piece but seeing as time was tight, I was only able to make a few before I jumped to making something more.. relevant..

I will definitely be returning to this mini project over the summer as I had a great time with figuring out the parts and such, would love to make the goat head I had originally planned to make.

Having gotten somewhat of a hang of the medium, I gave something a tad more complicated a try – recreating a small part of my hand!

Again, great practice in the form of a small mini piece, but I grew antsy again and decided to quit practicing and start making the actual final piece.

This might have been the biggest leap from beginner to intermediate I’ve ever had with a medium, I cannot describe the satisfaction that I felt once I had finished it. There are definitely some thing I would’ve done different in hindsight, but that’s a given when picking up something fresh.

The colours I chose ended up working incredibly well in my favour, being slighted toned down/washed out helped get the point of lifelessness actoss, this does look like a head that’s been preserved well. The texture of the crochet is also a great feat in my opinion, really helps convey the delicacy of the subject matter. I am overall the most satisfied with this bit of my final piece as I believe most of my effort and energy did go into the making of it.

After I had finished my head I had to think of what to put it in/how to display it and this is where the iron maiden as a piece of reference came in. I was aiming to create somewhat of a replica of those busts that sat on top of the torture devices, started out by creating the base using felt fabric.

Once I had the base completed, I started building upon it using small “pillows” I made using a few different types of fabric and stuffing. While I did think that the felt mask was already quite effective, I thought it was missing the weight that all those busts had.

I think it’s safe to say that the neck is the strongest part of it, as I only got to the part of making this a few days ago before submission, I had to rush the majority of it and therefore made some poor decisions when planning out the layout of the bits and pieces and some parts ended up looking a tad janky. Had I had more time, I would definitely have put it into this part of the project as I do think it might be the weakest part of it, even though it holds higher potential.

My main inspiration for the iron maiden part stems from my friend’s – Davey Krofta’s – work.

The final bit of my final piece was going to be the thing that would be placed within the crocheted head, and I will eventually update this post with pictures of it, but as of now, it is not yet finished because it’s still drying at the time I’m writing this, which is 2:47, May 10th.. yikes..

I had to put off making it for the longest while to ensure that everything else was done. It should be ready for the time of hand in, no, it will be ready for the time of hand in! I was thinking of a concept of what to put in the “brain” bit for a while and some of the solutions I had come up with were not going to cut it as they were either not exciting enough, not original enough, not unexepectable or just didn’t make any sense, but, then again, what does even make sense these days!

After some thinking, I realized that the perfect object to place into the head I’ve crocheted based on the concept at hand was something to do with a cicada.

Since ancient times, the cicada has been seen as a symbol of resurrection, an association that owes to its fascinating life cycle. Newly hatched insects drop from branches to burrow into the ground, where they nourish themselves on tree roots for as long as seventeen years before emerging into the sunlight.

Smithsonian

Based on this alone I knew that it just made perfect sense for me to go with it when taking the narrative into consideration: Torment/Torture -> Anguish -> Death -> Rebirth.

I made sure to still incorporate vulnerability/delicacy into the design of the cicada – having it be in a foetal position, exposed abdomen, missing pairs of legs, other. Using those details, I wanted to comment on how even rebirth cannot free one from the mental torment they’ve endured, or at least, that’s what best reflects my personal experience. I have also worked out an abstract design for the wings so that they could both be reminiscent of a face as well as a brain.

Update: 3:17AM – it has dried. While the crack was not intentional, it sure is a welcome feat, the more vulnerarability, the better! I will be finishing this off throughout the remainder of the night, the final result will be displayed at the final hand in, I will be updating the blog with the pictures as soon as I can. The idea as of now is to give the cicada a coffee wash all over, other than the wings and the eyes, cover it with magenta/burgundy fuzz to match the inside of the “plush maiden” (a symbol of the torment sticking with you) and the bits that were untouched with the coffee wash being coated in some varnish for extra sturdiness and gleam to signify newfound purity and relief, a glimmer of hope.

Update: 6:54AM – I ended up going with a different approach to the coating of the cicada. I realized that by coating it with fragments of what I used to represent despair and emotional turmoil was going against the concept altogether. Past trauma and hurt should not defy or become an extension of you, instead, you should feel entitled to gain a new, fresh coating, one that would represent a new chapter. I figured the cracks were more than enough of a visual representation of past struggles.

I ended up using a dye that I made using crushed up dried daffodil petals and coffee grounds. The reason I chose those 2 ingredients is because yellow daffodils represent rebirth and coffee to me has long been a bearer of a fresh start, whenever things go south or if I’m feeling under the weather, a coffee always helps me to sort of resurrect in a non-literal sense! I am very satisfied with how it looks, but I did end up having to turn in a piece that was still drying, hopefully the warning was minded and no one got varnish on their hands..

And with that, my final piece is now fully covered, the best in my ability. Now just to write out the evaluation and second year is wrapped up!

EVALUATION

It’s getting a bit tiresome – having to bring this up time and time again – but this module has been quite the rocky ride. It started out very strong, I felt on top of everything, was keeping up with lectures and other academic activities tied to the module, everything was going swell but then something happened in my personal life, and I got completely derailed, as per usual. I’m beginning to believe that that’s just my luck. However, I have once again managed to pummel through, a tad too close for comfort, but I’ve done it, nevertheless.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, I believe I have been able to create a body of work that does not fall short in concept. I have successfully crafted a narrative using 3D objects for my final piece and have also experimented with classic on-paper visual narratives through the form of comics. I have picked up a couple of new disciplines, honed my skills and created something I’m satisfied with.

The only real issue that I ran into this module was time, but then again, as I’ve mentioned during tutorials/in emails, it was caused by something that was out of my power. If I had more time, I would have used it to improve the outer layer of the piece, dedicate more time to figuring out the inside of the head, book on-campus workshops that could have helped to expand the concept even further, gone to more tutorials, developed more sketches and worked on other mini projects for this module. I definitely would have done more. I normally hate reminiscing about what I could have done when I know I had the means of doing it but in this case, it’s much more so the case of simply not being able to due to extreme time constraints.

A part of me is upset about how everything unfolded over this module, I really wanted to finish the year off with the best work I could possibly have made, but unfortunately, the odds were not in my favour this time around. What I can take from this module is that I should not take any spare minute for granted, that I should try and figure something out and reach out to my tutors more. It’s so easy to fall into this pit where you feel like no one can help you but that’s never the case, I should have tried harder to communicate the issues I had been facing as I’m certain there could have been solutions for them.

Overall, I truly enjoyed this module, the tasks we were given were fun and reminiscent of the artist book module from first year which without a doubt is still my favourite. I enjoyed having alumni teach us as it’s provided me with the perspective of what I could do post-graduation and that only motivated me to work harder. I leave this year feeling excited and prepared for third year, thank you for a great module and a great year.

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