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Fleshy Experiments and Fluid Failures

This week has been full of little experiments, unfortunately most of which resulted in pretty rubbish outcomes. I wanted to take this opportunity, after the big Bargehouse show ('Intertia for Superior Souls'), to play with ideas that I've put off and expand on my collected of object-making processes.

To start off I wanted to push the ideas of skin more, so I decided to test out making a cocoon-like structure, which is a bit of a call back from last year's themes. The aim was to create a semi-tranparent 'membrane' so details inside would be partially visible. I decided to make the most out of the materials I've got (baring in mind the state of my bank account after splashing out for the show!), so I utilised one of the fleshy sculptures from the 'Gluttonous Dramas of Cannibal Excess' piece (that didn't quite survive the drive back from London in one piece), removing the clay from it's wire and chain inner supportive structure. I've been thinking about using liquid latex to create a 'skin' that I could stretch over a structure for a while so I decided to get on with it and painted multiple layers of latex onto a flat surface until it was dry and thick enough to avoid ripping but transparent enough to have the desired affect. Between the round clay structure and the top layer of latex, I decided to add these strange pink beeds that I had found which appeared like drops of dried fluid, so as to add details underneath the 'skin'. The latex was sticky enough that I just had to press the ends together to seel the piece up. I then hung the

object from a hook by its own stretchy 'skin'. I found that this method of hanging was particularly effective because it appeared particularly abject, almost creating a feeling of sympathy of sort for the piece as the 'skin' being pierced and stretched could be imagined to be our own, causing discomfort and a sort of crawling skin sensation. This is something that could be interesting to expand on further in my work. I felt that by seeing underneath the 'skin' of the piece it continued my discussion of blurring the boundaries between the insides and outsides of the body. However, I feel there is a lot of potential to exicute this far better, as the beads in the sculpture were not secure enough and ended up falling to the bottom, so they would need to be stuck to the inner surface with glue. I also think more details could have been included, perhaps using string or paint, so as to create veiny imagery, really pushing the idea of the body and seeing under the skin, linking more closely to human bodies. I prefer the wobbly latex sacks at the moment, because of their movement, but I feel this has potential as a more permanant option, as the sacks just get smelly and mouldy (which I still haven't worked out if it is a good thing or not due to the idea of mortality and the decaying corpse, as well as playing will more senses). This piece really did remind me of cocoons, so in some ways it met its aims, and I felt I wanted to be able to see more clearly through the skin but wasn't allowed to, which I quite like, as it keeps an audience curious but also adds that abject ambiguity that I've been chasing. It brought back images of butterfly cocoons that I saw on holiday a while ago and of an analysis I read on Ivana Basic's sculptural work, discussing the abject nature of butterflies, their mutant bodies, and our ability to voyeuristically observe them, in a child-like but also scientific curiosity, denying them their privacy in their personal moment of transformation.

The next experiment that I tried out was, using the fleshy sculptures again, drilling holes into the clay bodies and trying to get paint and liquid latex to ooze out of the oriphises, referencing bodily fluids. I like the idea of using this imagery, as substances leaving the body have both sexual and grotesque connotations, further playing on my ideas about incorporting attractive and replusive imagery into my work, and blurring bodily boundaries:

- Urine and excrement are usually seen as digusting things we don't discuss in polite conversation, sometimes fetishised, but is waste, the dead stuff of the body that doesn't serve a purpose anymore.

- Blood is also something that we don't want to see as this is something that really should stay on the inside. It rushes around our body, essential to life.

- Semen and vaginal discharges, sexual connotations, reproduction, but also pretty gross and not discussed.

- as well as snot, ear wax, stomach acid, oils in skin, puss, sweat, tears, saliva.

By filling the sculptures with paint and latex I was hoping that the thick liquid would dribble out of the holes and also leave a solid mark. However, I found it difficult to get the liquid to ooze out of the holes properly. I think it would be best to play with the consistency of the liquid and also other materials. However, I did like the fact that some dripped on the floor, leaving a trace of the action, marking the space, which is something that I could take further.

The next experiment involved making a fleshy meaty hook, combining and playing with the meat on the hook. This was more of a mock-up of something that I actually want to create on a larger scale. I made it by wrapping dried latex (mixed with paint) around a metal hook, and dripping more of the mixture over it, layering it up until there was no metal visible underneath. I liked the stringiness of the stretched latex, like skin. But the colouring was off, it was closer to skin than to flesh or meat and didn't have much variation, just one basic colour, next time adding different layers of colour would reference the body more closely and also be more repulsive. I think it would be fun to actually make a meaty hook that is the size of a carcass, it could even have a bone-like structure to give it shape, or could be a floppy mess that doesn't even work, adding to the absurdity. Whilst the latex works well, I'm wondering if there is something else to make the process of layering a little faster, to build up the shape and then just use latex on the top few layers, maybe silicone would be good for this (but expensive). There is clearly much more to be done here!


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