Process of Shredding

I wanted to record the process of creating the shredding. I think that because the process is so important to the works subject, I wanted to share the time which each A4 sheet of paper takes to process. Although these are incomplete clips showing the different processes, rather that the full start to finish for one page, It can give an idea of the laborious nature of the production of my work. Hopefully when viewing the piece, the scale might allow the viewer to be shocked with the work which must have gone into the piece’s production.

 

 

Strips and Squares

I started to explore the visual capacity for information to be understood but seriously controlled when shredding paper documents. I’ve found that some interesting works can be caught up in the sections such as ‘Labor’ which can be seen in this piece.

I have been looking at collecting information from Government organisation documents such as the International Labour Organisation, articles written on different countries using forced labour throughout the world and images taken directly from those situations. Although the piece with i display will not explicitly show the imagery and information, the eeriness of those situations should stay with the work. I need to inform the viewer of the contents which has been shredded so the knowledge of that can infiltrate how they view the shredding.

I think I want to explore how dissection can impact the viewers perception of the information stored on the original document. Somehow the content is controlled, we aren’t allowed/ mean to see what its discussing but we can understand snippets of this. I think it would be hard, however, in a gallery setting, to understand form the physical shredding (rather than a clear image such as the one below) what any of the written text or images were discussing. We generally would scan over the shredding and conclude we understand thats all it is- Shredding! I doubt that without any prompting the viewer with investigate the contents of the  documents and images therefore I need to consider how I display my work.

I also feel that the work’s conceptual content is firmly embedded in the process of creation. All the squares and strips of paper have been shredded by hand. I hope that the quantity which I create will be dramatic enough for the viewer to be shocked by the labour which will have been involved in the piece of work.

 

‘Documents Shredded’
2017
Ruth Linnell

Shredding

I started to explore how I could move forward from applying dissected materials onto the surface of a piece to a more subtle form of destroying or concealing the imagery of a photograph. I looked into the shredding of documents as a secular means of destroying information. The regimented format of this pulp when processed is very controlled and I became interested with the idea of introducing the time consuming laborious nature of my work by possibly directing and cutting down images myself as a way of commenting on a process which might be motioned by someone working under forced conditions.

Documentary Photography
Ruth Linnell
Documentary Photography
Ruth Linnell

When experimenting with the manual shredding I discovered that the process was going to take significantly longer than I had previously expected – which obviously is a part of the piece’s nature, however, with the show only a week away I’m becoming worried I won’t have the time to complete my work.

Sketchbook Work by Ruth Linnell

Things I need to consider:

  • Am I happy with manually cutting all images when they won’t nescisarily be all the same size and to the standard which might be enforced if they were in a Labour camp.
  • Would I be more effective if I were to use a machine to shred the info on a scale could be more impactful than the manual shredding as time constraints might mean I can’t shred as many images as I would want?
  • Could I increase the volume of information by considering including written info such as documents and articles which have been written and including these so not just images of forced labour which I’m exposing?
  • The manually cut images seem a lot flatter than those which have been cut on machine so their volume is significantly less than manufacture and therefore will take more time to create a large volume.
  • Do I want to present the work in sacks in the middle of the space? Or would presenting the shreddings against the wall or on the floor be more effective in people seeing the work?
  • Do they need to see the images at all? Or is it more about the concept- if so I could include whatever images I wanted which weren’t related and no one would know? Does this matter? 

I think it’s important to make sure that the work is genuine even when they can’t see the images or text. I think I could consider changing the format as time is restrictive.  I either go for scale and quantity being the most important by using a machine to shred the work or I think about presenting manually shredded images against the walls by gluing directly onto it in circular and irregular forms as I have done in my sketch book presentations.

‘Hidden Behind’

I started to consider how I come move away from the direct photographic manipulation by looking at the application of materials onto the surface of a photograph to conceal whats behind. I started with my initial experimentation with wood as seen in ‘Time consuming Labour’. I found by cutting vertical dissection of wood and placing them over the surface of the image I not only controlled the view but also referenced the blockaded viewpoint you might receive from being behind bars.

However, moving forwards I wanted to look more at the ‘process’ of creation becoming the conceptual driving force behind the work. I started to use materials which came in a singular dense form such as a foam board and a polystyrene board and dissect these into their segments. When working on the black foam board, I pulled apart its structure to collect sections of fluff which were no larger than by pinky nail, using destruction as a form of processing. The idea is that the time which this has taken me to do would be representative of the repetitive nature of forced labour which happens within detention camps.

The concealment of the image behind the medium which I have applied to the surface of the imagery also comments to the common concealment of forced labour as an issue occurring in detainment environment. I wanted the work to be counter intuitive in that rather than revealing the truth, the work conceals in a form which makes the act of concealing ‘exposed’.

‘Hidden Behind’
2017
Ruth Linnell

The process of creating the work took be two solid days and resulted in sever cramp in my hands. I did, however, feel that the image which I chose to use underneath the imagery didn’t reflect the possibilities which I could have pushed the work to conceptually. I feel that in future, I would want to used more weighted photography which has been taken from within detention camps. I do think it worked having the three pieces next to each other as the central image was able to give away more of the content. However, I feel I need to respond to my crit feedback and actively attempt not to hold onto the representational when showing my work as it sometimes prevents the viewer from creating their own ideas.

I think I do need to consider weather its important for the viewer to have an understanding of the time the work has taken even if this functioned as the time written on the wall next to the work. This could suggest the manual work of the piece whilst not giving away all of the subject matter in an explicit way.

Please see: Time Consuming labour

Time Consuming labour

I started to further explore my earlier investigation of overlaying materials onto photography to conceal information. By working on a larger scale I was more able to emphasis the labour insensitivity which I want to make known in my own work. I think this is increasingly becoming something I want to make evident. I started by completing a large overlay of wooded stripes over my photographs. The process of measuring and cutting each strip of wood, then gluing them onto the paper was very laborious. I want to push this into a tryptic series, standing along side a piece were fluff is added to the photographs surface- each small piece being individually played and repeating this with the application of small polystyrene balls which I will create and lay over its surface.

‘Time consuming labour I’ 2017 Ruth Linnell
‘Time consuming labour II’ 2017 Ruth Linnell

 

This work will then not only function as a means of concealing a photograph, but also be able to emphasis the energy taken to make the image hidden. This concept could also hold a lot of significance and it comments on the lengths people take to make sure the information they want to conceal is secure from public understanding. This could nod to governments concealing information which they deem unimportant for the public to know. I think it will be important for me to record the process that i take to create the work and the time which I spend – docking in time sessions so I can make known (either by supplementary commentary or directly within the work ) the labour which went into the concealment of the image.

Documentary Photography
Experimental Process-lead work  
Ruth Linnell

Easy Vs Hard Labour

When displaying my work for my Crit, I had planned to put up these 2 wall based pieces. I had started my exploration into photographic manipulation – removing information initially by playing with the exposure. This then moved towards the white tiled work which I felt was more subtle. I decided to hang both in conjunction, initially to compare them and then later decided the aesthetic worked well. I also wanted to create a reference to the original image which had sparked my use of a repeated window symbol throughout my work. I felt that if I were to have put my white tiled work up in isolation the weight of the engraved symbol could have been completely overlooked.

Visual display of ‘White windows’ and ‘Manipulating exposure’
Ruth Linnell

However, I decided to bring in my ‘black lines’ work into the studio to photograph it. As I placed it it situ I started to visually embed the piece within the context of the wall based pieces. They started to relate to each other, playing with the same shapes and a monochromatic theme ran through the three piece. The materials I had surrounded myself with in the studio I started to draw into the space, lining a glass panel next to my black line barred painting. This action was very spontaneous but the work seemed somewhat incomplete and almost sat as an ‘add on’. Adding some mesh I had found in the skip as a layer over the glass referenced the ‘barred’ experience of being detained.

Mesh work and ‘Black Lines’ in Visual Display
Ruth Linnell

The work started to reference a very different way of working which was spontaneous and took very little time.  This was a wildly different approach to working which conflicted with my intended aim for the crit presentation. I had aimed for my wall based work to be emphasis the time which I had taken to produce it, the labour being a conceptual core to the piece’s success. However, by introducing these two found elements which had very little/ no alteration, I had somewhat thrown off the cohesive reading of what is now an instillation piece.

I felt these spontaneous additions to my display relate loosely to the Arte Povera Movement which explored everyday materials, and presented these in the context of a gallery to challenge the traditional understanding of art materials.

Bibliography:

Manipulating Exposure

BLACK – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  WHITE

‘Black to White Windows’
2017
Ruth Linnell

Having been influenced by the work of John Hilliard, I started to explore how exposure could be a form of manipulating an image to remove information form it. This could happen in two ways, by turning black and in the other extreme white. I initially planned this piece to be far smaller scale, only 20 images but as I started to explore how to edit the images it expanded. I played with the exposure levels but as I was working towards creating a White image, I discovered that I could get there by producing harsh lines of colour or by softly facing the image to wash it out completely. These two techniques I found hard to marry together into a nice grid formation. However, with time I was able to create a layout which worked subtly in transitioning between the two.

        

Experimental process of creating ‘Black to White Windows’ 

Although the exposure was an important element in referencing the removal of an images information, I was more concerned with emphasising the time which the creation of the work had taken. The manipulation and sizing of each image, followed by the cutting out of each square, its positioning within the grid and finally mounting onto the wall in a systematic way all took an considerable length of time. I found that the labour involved in the works production, and its controlled aesthetic were of more interest to be than the photographic processes I have made so obvious within the piece – manipulating exposure.

Experimental process of creating ‘Black to White Windows’
Ruth Linnell
Experimental process of creating ‘Black to White Windows’
Ruth Linnell

Please see: John Hilliard

White Windows

A previous piece of work I had created in my sketchbook in which I used a wooden block to carve the symbol of a barred window into its facade influenced by decision to create a work which replicated the images development. I wanted to move forward from the exposure which I had previously looked by still keeping the focus of meticulous display and sizing, emphasising the time consuming process of the work. I felt that the neutral palette of white and the emphasis on form had a most sophisticated and pioneering interest.

Each piece built up the information which was allowed to be understood. It reminded me of some of Jasper Johns early experimentations with numbers. I really liked how the work sat within the space which I was displaying my work. It naturally embedded itself into the wall, requiring intimate viewing as at a glass you only saw the outline of each square. I think the work maintained the viewers intrigue far more so than the exposed images. I think it equally would be interesting if I had considered displaying these images in one long extending line around the exhibition space, this could have allowed the viewer to journey along the build up of information.

‘White Windows’
2017
Ruth Linnell

I think another really key aspect of the work is that it is CARVED. I would want to consider how the positioning of this work in space could capture the direct sunlight passing over it at one time. This might emphasis its engraving and during different times in the day appear slightly altered. Based upon the photography of each individual square I created a short film which builds up the image, I think the absence of any previous knowledge when watching the film makes the work into a more REVEALING process. I think that making the viewer slowly discover the final image would be more interesting then having all the squares laid out to be digesting in one viewing.

‘White Windows’ film created on Vimeo by Ruth Linnell

Please see: An Impressed Symbol

Scattered in Situ

Sca t t   e     r     e        d             i             n              s                i                  t                      u

                      

‘Strips Scattered in Situ’ I
2017
Ruth Linnell

I started to explore how scattering cut up images within a space could function as another form of disrupting the image. However, I quickly found that this form of presentation seemed unfinished and would only work on a larger scale, having been pushed further. I took an image which was primarily of a wall with some small widows within its frame. When cutting this image it’s subject matter became significantly obscured as many of the strips were just of brick work. I think that the work might have been more successful if i have considered which image to use sightly more carefully. I feel that the concept of the practical work is somewhat taking of the content of the image, being far more process lead. I want to push the work forward by changing the imagery I have used.

‘Strips Scattered in Situ’ II
2017
Ruth Linnell

I think in principle the concept of distributing sections of an image was rooted in a desire for the viewer to have to patch together the sections, creating a puzzle which needed to be solved. However, in reality because the images were only A3 in scale, they became more like off cuts which weren’t important, swallowed up by the space. I think that if I did want to pursue this idea further the dissection of the images would be far more thorough and I would hang the work in a more structured way. I feel that the relaxed form of presentation is in contrast with the subject matter. It seems to undermine the importance of whats being discussed- especially as the strips have been placed on the floor.

‘Strips Scattered in Situ’ III
2017
Ruth Linnell

Changing Focus

I wanted to play with the shadows of this work more, and shift the focus off the original object (the glass) into a more subtle response to environment. I started to photograph the work when the widows of my room what cast shadows. There is a barred black metal balcony rail outside my  window which was duplicating the experience I wanted my manufacture when painting the glass. Therefore by allowing the shadows to pass over its surface  I had created a poetic reference between the ‘created’ in the hands of an artist and the natural.

‘Black lines’ playing with creating shadows
2017
Ruth Linnell
‘Black lines’ playing with creating shadows
2017
Ruth Linnell
‘Black lines’ playing with creating shadows
2017
Ruth Linnell

I wanted to play with the shadows of this work more, and shift the focus off the original object (the glass) into a more subtle response to environment. I started to photograph the work when the widows of my room what cast shadows. There is a barred black metal balcony rail outside my window which was duplicating the experience I wanted my manufacture when painting the glass. Therefore by allowing the shadows to pass over its surface  I had created a poetic reference between the ‘created’ in the hands of an artist and the natural.I think my earlier idea of painting directly onto a window in a space would work better in creating a more subtle work which presented the viewer with a work which was of a relational scale.

When photographing this in situ, I started to capture the bars from my window as they were reflected on the glass’ surface. This started to create a really interesting illusion which confused the viewer but also started to play with perception. I think viewing these three images in conjunction with each-other forces the viewer to question their perception being manipulated by the artists. Photography can no long be viewed within the fine art practise as a recording device for documentation but it has the ability to manipulate a scene completely – as showcased here.

‘Changing Focus to the View Beyond’
2017
Ruth Linnell