B1.1 – Deconstruction
Amal Flower Kay
Studio 2: Visual Culture
Prof. Sara Jimenez
Class: Space & Materiality
Medium: Plastic sheeting and bags, thread, photographs
1. I started this project by addressing the parameters of the project: a soft sculpture that addressed the theme of “body.” Working with this in mind, I looked for ways I could represent the ideas of isolation, vulnerability, and serenity within New York City, as well as my changing relationship with the city. These themes were really poignant to the emotions I had been feeling recently, and so it was a challenging and somewhat scary project to take on.
2. I initially wanted to create a clear figure filled with liquid and began to sketch what that might look like. I began exploring the different ways to create the shape and then seal it shut to prevent the liquid leaking. I also sketched the concept of the figure sitting within a clear plastic box, showing its isolation but vulnerability to the world. Initially in my mind, this seemed like a great way to represent the themes.
3. After a few days, I was forced to confront the fact that doing a liquid filling would be extremely challenging within my time frame, and that I also wanted to search for a more conceptual way to represent the themes of the piece. I landed on the idea of suspension, a feeling I experience when I am pulled in many different directions. I switched my vision to a grouping of spheres, suspended in space, to better represent this concept. Switching my whole concept was really difficult, and it took a lot of persuasion from my professor to convince me that it was the right decision.4. Knowing that I no longer would be filling the shapes with liquid, I began searching for new ways to provide structure to the plastic forms. As part of an experiment, I sewed a sheet of plastic and flipped it inside out to create a square pillow like shape. I filled it with newspaper, but decided that for my final piece I would use plastic bags as stuffing. I wanted the shapes to have a softer feel, almost like a ball, rather than the solid feeling that the paper gave. This step was especially challenging, as I had no previous sewing experience and had to learn the steps for that process.
5. I then tackled the challenge of forming the sphere shapes. I did some research and found that shower curtain plastic would work well as an affordable, but durable material. I studied a few different kinds of balls and spheres, and created a pattern of pointed oval shapes that, when sewn together, would create the desired shape. At this point I was beginning to feel much more confident in the piece as a whole.
6. Cutting the oval shapes from the plastic was more challenging than I originally anticipated, and I spent a lot of extremely focused time making sure the cuts were perfect. Because the plastic was so slippery, it was hard to get the perfect shape. Eventually, I figured out a better way to use my paper template to get the correct shape, but it definitely took some trial and error.
7. The most challenging part of this project was sewing all of the plastic pieces together. With no prior experience, I took up the frustrating task of learning the ins and outs of the machine. I experienced a lot of anger and frustration while learning, due to threading the machine wrong and ending with a tangled mess. It was a learning process though, and by the end of this step I was really enjoying working with the machine.
8. Curating the photos to fill the spheres with took longer than expected, and proved to be relatively challenging for me. I had to look back into my archives and choose the work that best reflected the emotions I was attempting to translate in each sphere. This mean that I had to really critically look at my work and pick it apart, which was hard at times.
9. After finishing the sewing and curating work, I stuffed the objects with plastic bags, and then slid the cut photos in. This part of the project was the most satisfying, as my vision was finally starting to take place.
10. Installation was the hardest step for me, as I had less than 30 minutes to accomplish it. I put on some pump up music and got to work, which involved heating up a needle to puncture through the plastic spheres and pull the red thread through. I was sweating from stress and overheating in my sweatshirt, but didn’t have the time to take my sweatshirt off.