About Me

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If you like short, fiery, red haired East Londoners who now reside in Norwich that have a penchant for video games, board games and filmmaking then you've come to the right place, my friend. I write a fortnightly column about video games for Forces of Geek and I write, direct, edit and film with Cheesemint Productions, my production company. You can search for us on YouTube, you know how the Internet works, right? This blog, Excuse Me While I Geek Out is a place to collect my column pieces for Forces Of Geek and anything I've written for other websites and publications as well as being a place to write about all things geek. My other blog, For All Or None is a cathartic activity dedicated to my mental health and I write openly and honestly about deeply personal psychological issues that effect me. It's an mental outlet so doesn't necessarily require readers especially as it will no doubt be full of grammatical errors, nonsense and spelling mistakes.

She appears composed, so she is, I suppose

Hi there,

Welcome to this unorganised collection of my writings, thoughts, creative notes and ramblings. It may not be coherent and at times may be a little hard to follow. Such is the nature of language and I'm not writing for anyone else, just myself, in an attempt to organise my thoughts and to aid me with my creative work but please feel free to peruse and comment if you wish to do so.

XO,

Emma-Jane

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Drop-in Centre Private View "The Housewarming"

The private view was a success! We had a really good turn out,I got some interesting feedback and the comments on the exhibition on the whole were 99.99% positive*! (*approximation!).

One of the comments we received, in fact, several of them expressed the view that it was the most homely exhibition they've ever been too. One commented, "I wasn't sure if I was walking into a gallery or someone's house". As well as all the lovely comments, I also recieved a compliment about my chocolate brownies! Score!

Lots and lots of pictures were taken, by several friends and myself and I will upload them in the form of another slideshow soon. The collection of images is vast and impressive!

We had to make 2 extra alcohol runs, much like a housewarming! Also, people naturally interacted with the work, some picking up books, sitting in the spaces and most people did a portrait of Mark! For a first exhibition, I couldn't be happier!

I'm hoping that I'll have a few more comments in my book before the end of the week and will endeavour to publish them on here asap!

Also, watch this space for more pictures!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Installing the Drop-in Centre!

Setting up my exhibition on Sunday proved harder work than I imagined. There had been an event at the space we were using the night before and let's say that it didn't smell/look too pretty! We had to clean up before we could start! Despite it taking longer than I assumed, it was actually quite fun. I took lots of pictures to document the progress of installing our work. There are too many pictures to post, so I have made a slideshow; hopefully it works!

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Sunday, 24 May 2009

Panic and Nothingness

I forgot to write this up from Thuuuuursday 21st.

For one of my projects I'm concentrating on blankness or nothingness. The scary blank canvas! When I was explaining this to everyone in the sessions, our tutor made a point that when I use the word "blank" I say it with negative connotations...which I do. I panic!

We put ourselves into images when we view them and acquire stimulus from different objects/concepts. I'm going to try and detach this pnaic and fear I have when thinking about blankness. It was also pointed out to me that silence might be interesting to explore, as it is another form of blankness! The scary thing is...I am actually terrified of silence, which I'm sure comes as no surprise for those of you who know me! I hate silence, I feel so incredibly uncomfortable surrounded by it. No such thing as a comfortable silence for me! So I'm going to look at nothingness, which sounds impossible! Ha! No doubt I shall be revisiting philosophy once again for this one!

I'm hoping to also investigate what might happen if I take my book sculptures into an art setting. Maybe the context my practice will change? Or maybe not?! Apparently the main idea behind action research is learning to accept not knowing!

I'm intending to research and re-explore the work of Rauschenberg and De Kooning. Also going to look at Ulrich (representations in visual objects/stimulus). Best get on with it then...

Hume the Artist (Not to be confused with Hume the Philosopher!)

This was written yesterday in my journal(23rd May).

Have been given the go-ahead from my manager to exhibit some art work in the bookshop! So I'll have my second exhibition to plan and organise soon! This means that my self negotiated unit is already well underway!

Also, I have been looking at Gary Hume's work after my tutor said that one of my book sculptures reminded her of his work. I wanted feedback as I wasn't sure if it fitted in with the rest of my work but also I genuinely wanted her opinion. It turns out that his work is actually rather good! Thought I'd post an image of his work along with mine and write a bit about him.





Gary has a series of paintings of "sacrificial lambs", his own term for cheerleaders. They make for very interesting viewing. There are limbs everywhere, ambiguous close-ups, isolated, denatured images of young girls contorting their bodies. Quite unsettling once you realise, however they take on a strange quality, detached and disparate due to the magnified image. It is hard to tell which bit of the body you are looking at and what might look like a leg at first could also be an arm. I imagine the size also adds to this as Hume's technique involves projecting and enlarging the images he paints. This fragmentation seems to objectify each individual body part. There is a sense that the female form is being viewed yet some of the lines do not possess this quality. It is a very strange mixture of the real/unreal...

In the case of my own work, the intention was not to hide the female form, I simply found the lines interesting. I decided that it is not often that people view this part of a woman, rather, only a female woman looking down at her crossed legs can. I also like the temporary nature of the "lap". A concept which can only exist if someone is sitting. Much like a dent can only exist because it relies upon something in which the dent has been made...if that makes sense...?

Makeshift Cardboard Houses and Thinking Creatively!

Have been meaning to put up the pictures from one of the new units I'm doing at the moment; Learning Conversations. It's been really interesting so far and has proved quite enjoyable.

It's been more practical than I thought it would be and the 1st week we listened to a piece of writing about washing hands whilst washing our own hands with wet wipes! For some reason this sticks in my memory more than anything else from that particular session. The combination of bringing something normal and ordinary into the realm of out of the ordinary...it really encouraged creative thinking. For me at least!

The 2nd week involved a lot of fun with cardboard! (See pictures!) And the 3rd week, or last week we talked a lot about the way we learn. When we see something new we will always respond emotively then we begin to orientate what we see, comapring it to everything we already know. Once we give it a name, we know it. Once you describe something and frame it with language then you can begin questioning and enquiring. Maybe form metaphors. This made me think about delivery and how something could potentially be viewed and I've had this in mind all day while I've been installing my exhibition!

I will be adding pictures from the installation later but these are the pictures from the 2nd week of Learning Conversations...we all had to make a space for our things, or utilise the space around us in some way to create a space for ourselves using the cardboard...








We had to make use of what was in the room and the materials we had on us!

Ali decided to just plonk herself and her chair down on the card!
Jenny stole a corner and piled her things up on it claiming it was hers because she is an only child!
Jane made use of the corners and strange interior of the room to highlight form.
Linda (as seen in the photo) wore hers for the rest of the lesson!
Angela made a defence shield for her things!
And I...made a strange house for my things using my trusty scalpel and tip-ex, that live in my make-up bag!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Notebook Entry 20th May

This from my notebook: 20/05/09

Spent all day preparing my 1.5mm plywood that I "found"...well, kinda procured. It was a road sign, but it had been dumped behind a post and I'd seen it there for weeks before I took it. (With moral support of course...crime is no good without an accomplice! Hehe!)

Because it had a stickered surface on one side I had to spend a lot of my time peeling it away, painstakingly for 2 and a half hours! After all my hard work (including physical injury in the form of a few grazes and repetitive strain injury!) I tested its weight resistance and realised that it would snap or bend under pressure from the books on top. The moral is...test thing FIRST!

It was also pointed out to me that my finished coffee table would need to be transported so I decided against glue but was left with the task of finding a way round this.

It was suggested to me that I could drill holes into the book sculptures (table legs) and sit the wood on top with bolts or by using a length of dowelling. I went with the dowel solution. So I enquired at the wood work shop but there was a bit of concern whether a drill bit as thick as 12mm would work or just destroy the books!

I tested this out on another book to be safe and much to my relief it worked. In fact it reminded me of a bullet hole (which, incidently, has inspired another book piece...but I'll get on to that later on!).

As the dowel was 12mm I also noticed that if I hammered it into the 12mm hole it would be stuck (thus the idea of transporting the work could be forgotton!) So, I went over the holes with a 13mm drill bit so that the two would fit more like a puzzle. Success!

Another point to consider...Should I paint the spines of the book legs because they aren't "coffee table books"? Aesthetically, I love the bare pages showing as they create a wood-like effect but the covers detract from this. However, another student commented that she liked seeing the spines. Although, I dislike it as some are very badly damaged. I suppose because of this I could claim that, like "coffee table books" I am giving unusable books a use/function?!

Had I have considered this to begin with I could have chosen ONLY damaged books. Or, designed the table a bit 'better'. I suppose I had originally intended to paint the whole thing but then during the process of gluing the books I liked how the glue dripped and the pages (some of which were up to 50 years old) looked like wood stacked up on one another.

Note to self: PLAN THINGS IN ADVANCE IN THE FUTURE! My old nemesis TIME MANAGEMENT rears its ugly fat head!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Going...Going...Glued!

Whilst glueing books together for my coffee table legs, I decided to make a note of the last lines of some of the books...no idea why, it just felt like an interesting thing to do. Especially as once glued they would be lost! Perhaps its the unconscious guilt of ruining an authors work, despite their lack of talent in some cases. I guess by documenting some of the text I am somehow preserving part of their legacy? Maybe...maybe not...Either way I might do some work with them in the future mayhaps? Even if I don't use them there's no harm in documenting them anyhow...

Some of them were hilarious, others incredibly cheesy and some just damn right awful. Here are a few...

"There is only Jake Hanlon, not Old Jake, not Young Jake, just Jake Hanlon, man, tall, in the saddle on a little Southwestern mustang, riding, riding, riding, into eternity."

What I take from this is that cowboys live forever! Brilliant! That was from Mavericks by Jack Schaefer.

"Then he kissed her, and felt the full, sweet pressure of her lips, and knew there'd be no more lonely trails for him, ever"

Yet again...cowboys just loooove eternity! Cheeeeeeeesy! Thanks to Mr Leslie Ernenwein.

"His face was horror-stricken."


Dundunduuuuuuuuuuuun! Ha! We have Alistair Maclean to thank for that scorcher, it's from Force 10 from Navarone...which is also a pretty awful film.

"'Yes', said Wind Jackal looking out across the broad sky 'perhaps the greatest adventure yet'"

Inspiring words there from Cloud Wolf by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (incredibly popular kids authors who write the Edge Chronicles.

"I folded the paper and placed it under the dark glasses on her desk"

Way to end a story...not exciting in the slightest. Although pointed out to me by David, it might make a great ended for a pulp crime novel of the noir kind! Weirdly enough, this is from a kids book about footballers! The Transfer by Terence Blacker.

I started getting bored but laughed out loud when I looked in the back page of Plum Island by Nelson Demille

"Everyone applauded." Haha, way to blow your own trumpet Mr Demille! What also amused me is that underneath the last line was an image of a skull and crossbones! I will upload the picture soon! It was too good not to document visually!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

A Space for Books

I've just finished writing my proposal for the self negotiated unit. These are the aims I have put together:

The Book as an Art Object and its Functionality in a Gallery and Domestic Environment

Aims:

• To explore books as art objects through theories relating to an art objects spatial environment.

• To explore my own art practice with books as art objects and to use this knowledge as a way of understanding the functionality of art.

• To research the influence that an art object can have in regard to its placement and environment on its viewer.

• To challenge what an exhibition should be or how it ought to be.

• To learn something new about my creative practice.


My reasoning for embarking on this project rests on the notion of the book as an art object. My practice involves using books as opposed to the traditional canvas. I want to learn more about my practice so that I can develop as an artist and evolve my art into something new. I’m also interested in where particular forms of art are exhibited and want to test different spaces. Particularly the spaces that books perform their functions, essentially I want to explore their natural habitat!

For example, in a domestic setting such living rooms, in bed etc. And also non-domestic settings such as a book shop, coffee shop or library.
Throughout the development of this unit I am open to the possibility of change. In fact, I expect it to happen!

I'm planning to document my exhibition as well as organising 2 more but in very different settings; the domestic (my house!) and the non-domestic (either in the book shop I work in or a coffee shop!) both of which are not usual gallery/exhibition spaces. Although, it is a trend which is becoming ever more popular and has done since the later 90s. I will also be researching around this and will hopefully learn something. Also, I'm genuinely interested in this!

Bring. It. On.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Blank Canvas Battle!

Van Gogh on "facing a blank canvas" :

"Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don't know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, ‘You can't do a thing’. The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of `you can't' once and for all.”
(Letter to Theo van Gogh, October 1884)

Some wise words from Mr Van Gogh there...

I've recently been alerted to the fact that I struggle immensely when encountered with a blank canvas...all of my work is either carried out on books or found objects (written notes included!) The picture below are my exhibition planning notes on origami paper!)



Even my last sketchbook was brown. I somehow find it easier to create without the pressure that a traditional white blank canvas brings out. Is this is something all artists struggle with?! I hope so although I'd be interested to find out and also to learn more about why I feel paralysed when faced with blankness? Perhaps it's the fact that once I touch the blankness...it becomes my own responsibility? My own work. Strange how I can quite easily cut up books and draw on them. Yet, a blank sheet of paper I can't?! I wonder if I just lack imagination unless something is there to begin with?

When I try to I just stare at it gormlessly not knowing where to begin, how to approach it, what to create - my mind goes as blank as the canvas! I've decided to explore this aspect of my practice for one of the new units at uni; Learning Conversations. I have to pick a focus/question that I'd like to explore relating to my practice. It's certainly interesting enough for a 10 week project at least and might help with my other unit, which is my self-negotiated one. This one is still a little "unknown". I'm thinking that I might concentrate on domesticity/space through the context of books (of course!). My exhibition will help, what with it being a recreation of a living space out of books...definitely need to develop this before I begin my proposal though.

Perhaps the only way to settle this score between the Blank Canvas and Myself is to fight it!? Although, I've already destroyed a canvas...hmm, this is going to be a bit of an endless struggle methinks!

Ooooh...and one more thing, Mark gave me a great idea. (Thank you!). I'm going to take a book sculpture to a life drawing class and work on that instead of paper/canvas and maybe video it so I can get a better idea of how I work. Also, I'd be taking a non-traditional canvas to a traditional art setting! Much like my books are removed from their setting or created into one (Narratively and literally!). I think it'll be very interesting even if it turns out I learn nothing at all!

Hmm...so to sum up; Van Gogh was a wise man, the blank canvas is not my friend (I actually think it's bullying me!), domesticity needs to be explored, a life drawing class needs to be attended and I need to get working!

Friday, 8 May 2009

My Portrait of Mark...

Was in the studio with Mark today, who is currently embarking on a project in which he asks people to do a portrait of him to be displayed at a later date (think this is also his idea for the exhibition too! Should be good!) Anyway...he asked me to do one and I agreed, for which I am pleased, it turned out quite well. It looks nothing like Mark but it was the words that excited me (as always! I looooove the words!)

I asked him to pick a book from the pile which jumped out at him or he felt represented him. He chose Braveheart! Mainly because of the Scottish family connection.

I began drawing straight onto the book cover, over the image of Mel Gibson. I transformed him into Mark but then felt it needed "something". So I searched through a few pages of the book and cut out some words I felt described or were just "Mark" and stuck them on the cover.

It just so turns out that Mark has written a song called "Piglord Cometh" so you can imagine my delight when I found the word PIG! Then, I found HE SANG OUT, THE REBEL...among others. This was the result...





We were also discussing a possible collaboration in the future...so watch this space!

Time For Your Close-Up!

Thought I'd upload a few more images of my latest book sculpture. These ones really gie you a feel of the tactile quality it possesses and also highlights the mottled colour effect...

I will definitely be trying this technique out again as I love the way there's no way to scratch off the paint neatly with a screwdriver! The images themselves are really delicate but in using a screwdriver to etch it gives the work a rougher look - of which I am a fan (I also like the reminder of corrector fluid I get with the white acrylic!). The revealing of the women in the images works well with the idea that I'm scratching away at the surface revealing the books underneath. The books themselves being Bratz annuals highlight the absurdity of beauty and hint at the darker side of sex and sexuality. Especially as I also drew these images originally in Red Dragon because I wanted to explore the " pursued sexual victim" described in the book.

For the next few weeks I'm going to be focusing on my exhibition; meaning I need to get on and make that darn table! But in the meantime...here are the close-ups:

















These are the original images, one is from a sketchbook from October 2008 and the other is one of my more recent sketches done in the Red Dragon book April/May 2009:



Awful Books and Beautiful Mistakes

Today I defaced my copy of Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. I had previously sketched onto the pages however I wanted to alter the cover in some way, similar to the book by Robert Ferrigno that I manipulated into a value judgement upon the book itself – much like the reviews of critics and the media that you so often see on many mass market paperbacks.



On a side note, it actually irritated me to find that publishers are just as bad- Every Murakami paperback that I look at has the same quote by David Mitchell on it...THE SAME QUOTE! As if all of Murakami’s books are indistinguishable! It’s awful and makes me incredibly angry! I’m talking “Hulk, maaaad!!!” angry! Now I have to buy new clothes...I’ve gone and ripped them to shreds again! Yeah...rant over).

So...I started looking at ways I could play around with the text on the cover... T H O M A S H A R R I S R E D D R A G O N.
I was amazed to discover that I could find the imperative; “DONT READ” in there! It actually made me excitable...I’m not even lying! Mark will vouch for me! Anyway...After that I was left with some random letters, I couldn’t quite get it to work. The most productive words I found in the remaining letters were HARMS and GO but I couldn’t fit them in. I took a picture with HARMS under Harris’s name but decided against it.

Here it is:







I then used some more corrector fluid to paint round the edges of the letters - I’m not quite sure what my reasoning for this was but at the time it felt like the right thing to do. This is usually the way I work, reasons can always be discovered later! I used to think they could be made up later, but actually, upon reflection I always find out something about my art...something that had I have known or realised whilst making it, might have caused my work to take on a different style. So, I tend to use this for next time. For example, the other day (6th May, I believe), I finally got round to painting on the kids annuals that I had glued together ages ago. Here’s the proof...I was so agitated because I had no idea what to do with them! (Apologies for the awful picture, it looked better on the view finder of my camera!



So anyway, I painted the front cover and the spines and nothing else, previously I had painted the whole sculpture. I liked how the colour showed through at different angles and the reason I use white acrylic is because it reminds me of corrector fluid...I had thought about using that but decided it would take at least 10 bottles and it’s not that cheap! Whilst I waited for it to dry I decided to think about what to do with this “blank canvas”, my readymade book sculpture base. Of course, as always I couldn’t decide...my mind went as blank as the thing itself!
It was at this point that I realised that some of the paint at the bottom was stuck to the desk (I had forgotten to put down newspaper! Fool!)

So, in my infinite wisdom...or because it was the nearest item to me at the time I picked up a screwdriver and began digging away (carefully, as the paint wasn’t fully dry yet!) at the bottom of the sculpture. Despite being really careful...I get impatient. This always happens – which is why most of my work appears as if it’s been rushed. It has. I’m not happy about it but I’m aware and working on it, okay! Well, I’m sure you can guess what happened next; Yep, my hand slipped and the screwdriver’s metal tip scratched a line of paint from the sculpture. Shit! That was my initial thought, but then I noticed that the colours underneath gave a mottled effect and actually looked quite good. In the Red Dragon book that I’ve been sketching in, I’ve been focusing on the female form – mainly because of the content of the book itself as Dr. Hannibal Lecter preys on female victims, sometimes with sexual intent, but also because I just really enjoy how it feels to draw curves and lines.

So, I decided to transfer some of my images from the book onto the sculpture. I really liked the end result. One thing I will comment on is that in hindsight, I would have preferred it if I’d have used one image instead of two. This is because I liked both images singularly but when brought together they don’t quite work. Perhaps it’s because one if a close-up of a sectioned off area and the other is the whole body. It might have worked better if I’d have etched out a close up on one part of the body maybe?

Still, I really loved the flashes of colour and the revealing of this. I suppose it comments on the idea of revealing the female form? Or highlights nakedness? It also amused me as the kids annuals were all Bratz annuals. If you don’t know what Bratz is then prepare to be shocked:



Yep, teaching young girls to look sexy and dress provocatively. Not to mention that the sensual parts of the characters such as the lips have been plumped up. They look like cheap prostitutes. In fact, they don’t even look human! I won’t bring up the whole Barbie dolls are evil thing...but c’mon this it’s outrageous! Do I sound like a rambling old woman? Well, I’m actually 23!

Anyway...enough digression, this is how the etching turned out:









Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The Kindness of Strangers...

Exhibition is happening fo'real!

The Drop In Centre presents...

Serena Caulfield
Emma-Jane Corsan
Mark Jennings
Cherry Styles

Curated by Alison MacRonald

The House Warming!

Private view 26th May

at Unit 5, off of Magdalen St, Norwich!


Woo!

With that in mind...I've been working hard like a good Emma should. Today has been quite productive...whilst planning exhibition details etc. I had a bit of a breakthrough. Have decided to make my work interactive to fit in wth the theme of the exhbition. We want to make it as homely as possible. So, I'm going with the coffee table idea. What's the coffee table idea you say?

Well, I shall tell you. I've decided to make a coffee table out of "coffee table books" This is a comment on the absurdity of books for display purposes only (see my last blog entry!) and fits in with my previous work in that it involves the manipulation of books and the creation of something new out of existing objects/media. Rather than adapting the narrative of a book as I have been doing, I will use the books in their entirety and give them a purpose, not only as art but also as a functioning coffee table. On this table will be a few of the paperbacks which I have "destroyed" for my viewer to peruse, whilst sitting on a selection of comfy cushions. Above them there will be 2 book shelves which will hold my book sculptures and a few more of my books. The idea is that the viewer can take books off the shelf and look through them. As the coffee table will be covered with a layer of perspex, I might even throw in a cuppa for them!

That's the plan anyway...

On the other side of things; the resubmission of my research project is done and dusted...although I am a little worried as I don't think it's even half as good as the one I gave in and failed! Very scary...although it's a relief to have it done! We'll be starting a new unit soon; Learning Conversations (whatever that might be!) so I'm pleased to have finished.

This exhibition has also motivated me and inspired me to think "big"...as I still enjoy using books I decided that for the exhibition I would go a'hunting for lots more books...hundreds. Ambitious, yes. Realistic...yes, actually! Although I never thought it would be! I sent an email to all of the students at NUCA and a few Facebook messages requesting any unwanted books...despite offering to pay I've been offered 4 boxes worth of books as well as buying some top quality hardbacks and coffee table type books for a damn good price! It's really surprised me just how kind strangers can be (friends too of course - although that's a given!) and so I've also decided to make a mention in the exhibition (in the form of some kind of list) of all the people who donated/sold me their books! People have been so kind that I feel I owe it to them at the very least. That, and baked goods Emma-stylee! Speaking of which, as our exhibition is called The House Warming we'll be putting on tea/coffee/cakes as well as the usual wine and beer at the private view. All cakes made by me!

I suppose I better get back to work, as I've got little time left (not only am I working at Borders but I'm working for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival at the moment too so my precious art-making time is being eaten away!)

Although, I do feel as if I'm finally becoming an artist and I'm relieved to have found my feet...true it's taken 6/7 months...but hey, I got there in the end! I've begun to associate my work within a wider context and discover where my practice fits in the contemporary art world. I don't expect to become the next big artist or anything...it just feels amazing to have rediscovered the confidence to associate myself as an artist, I've missed it...plus it's another label to add the institutional pile, featuring such delights as bookseller, student and not forgetting female 20-something; all of which will only to be deconstructed and recycled at a later date...hehe! I really ought to read some more Foucault!