The Further Education of An Artist: Process Studies in Art & Design
Whilst pursuing my graduate studies in 1996, I made a series of sketches on books – books as subject-matter. It all started when I was doing an assignment for a subject called Process Studies in Art & Design. We were to produce a work of art or a design work: documenting the process and later analyzed it through some approaches as suggested in the methodologies of art examined or discussed during the lectures. A report was to be submitted at the end of about six months study semester, together with the finished work of art or design work.
As elsewhere mentioned in this blog, during the time I was also reading and experimenting with Conceptual Art. The assignment came almost naturally: I have been keeping diaries and documenting my working process since the ITM days in the 1980s. I thought I could further my experiments with Conceptual Art and decided to take the assignment by producing a ‘conceptual’ work of art. Here published a selection of my diary’s entries, notes, sketches and a rather ‘spoiled’ photograph of the work.
A Diary’s Entry: Saturday. 30/7/1996
Sitting in the living room_ thinking about the Process Studies’ assignment. How do I begin? Today was hazy. Looking at the wall: Beethoven was playing _ yes, I’m learning to appreciate classical music. On the wall, there was The Dream-weaver, the last sculpture of the Gunung Daik series.
Dream-weaver / 1993 – 1996 / Wires, books, plastic bottles, tobacco and nipah leaves / dimension – variables
The Dream-weaver was the last of Gunung Daik. The making was started in 1993 whilst the family was living in Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam. I was, at the time, trying to abandon the idea of ‘sculptural forms’ – sculpting out and constructing things. It took me some three years to justify my decisions in putting or using actual objects like the books, plastic bottles and the tobacco, as well as exploring more ‘concrete’ ideas or themes, rather than just drawing on or from literature like the stories and the characters which I portrayed earlier in Teleng, and then, Gunung Daik.
The Dream-weaver was first exhibited in Malaysian Contemporary Sculpture: A Question of Tradition and Modernity, curated by Dr. Tamyes Bajuri, at the Balai Seni Lukis Negara, 1996. The books I included in the The Dream-weaver’s ‘container’ (the bottom part) were W.G Shellabear’s version of Sejarah Melayu or the Malay Annals, Misa Melayu by Sir Raja Chulan and a guide-book on the traditional Malay sexology – Permata yang Hilang. The plastic-bottles, once, contained the popular aphrodisiacs – Tongkat Ali capsules. And the rokok daun & tobacco…
FAN, LAURA. (1997). Weaving A Dream. Asia Pacific Sculpture News. Summer 1996, 35 – 36. Hong Kong: Asian Art News.
A listing on The Dream-weaver (what’s it all about or what I was trying to say):
- Colonialism – orientalism (?) _ the W.G Shellabear’s version of Sejarah Melayu. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orientalism & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malay_annals
- Traditional Malay Royal Courts – Rajas, Sultans _ the Sir Raja Chulan’s Misa Melayu. http://ms.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misa_Melayu
- Aphrodisiacs / fertility / sexology
- Tobacco / rokok daun / madat – ganja
- Malay Nationalism? Radicalism?
- Dreaming – dream jar: Can we choose what to dream?
- Unknown forces / unidentified forces – coming to destroy us?
… the work, the assignment for the Process Studies… may start from The Dream-weaver.
Note: web’s addresses of certain terms and names were recently added to facilitate further references.
Another Diary’s Entry: Thursday. 15/8/1996
A quiet night except for the Jimmy Page’s wailing solo, doing Black Dog on my old cassette player. The Work have already existed – virtually. It should be conceptual, 3D piece or perhaps a wall piece – using real objects. It should be related to education – in some ways. The dream jar has been broken.
I chose ‘used school exercise books’ as my materials – the ones which usually came in brown colored covers with the RUKUN NEGARA (National Principles) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rukunegara) at the back, sometimes also with a multiplication and conversion tables. The materials themselves, the exercise books, carried meanings related to education and ‘love the country.’ I remembered my primary schooldays in the early 1970s, where we have to recite RUKUN NEGARA during our weekly assemblies. There were competitions to look for the best reciter, who then would lead the recital at assemblies.
Another Note: 16/8/1996
I’m certain with using the used school exercise books. The idea, the best I can described is that I wanted to document an ‘educational-experience’. By this, it refers to the exercise books where they were actually where we, as students, exercised our understanding through writing or sometimes calculating and even drawings. These books were sometimes not fully used – there were blank pages, and usually they were discarded after a semester ends. We would buy another exercise book then to continue practicing our lessons. The RUKUN NEGARA printed on the back covers was for facilitating us to remember them_ hoping to instill patriotism or nationalism, in some ways or another, at a young age.
Another Diary’s Entry: Wednesday. 25/8/1996
Today I talked about Abstract Expressionism, the New York School, Minimalism and Andy Warhol with Nasir. I told about my yet-to-be-titled work, the assignment, stating that I’m framing an experience – an educational experience, that was.
HOW OFTEN WE HAVE TO FIND GOOD EXCUSES TO OUR TEACHERS WHEN WE FORGET TO BRING OUR EXERCISE BOOKS? ARE YOU DONE WITH THE HOMEWORK? DO YOU REMEMBER RUKUN NEGARA? WE HAVE USED THEM – THE EXERCISE BOOKS – WHAT DO WE HAVE NOW?
The work is now on the wall. It was made entirely with used exercise books, arranged and tied with wires.
I named the work, ‘A Recital’, referring to the Rukun Negara recitation at my primary school weekly assemblies back in the early 1970s.
(Note: The work is now lost).
Notes: Quotations Referred During the Process
1. Art is an intellectual and an emotional recording of an attitude or an experience presented in a personal manner. The visual arts – painting, sculpture, architecture and other related arts – are concerned with the creative handling of lines, textures, shapes, colors, and space in materials such as paints, stone, and wood. ‘Creative’ implies bringing into existence new constructions through a personal arrangement of existing or new elements. – A. SCHINNELLER, JAMES. (1961). Art: Search and Self Discovery. Scranton: International Textbook.
2. Art is a quality of doing and what is done… the product of art – temple, painting, statue, poem – is not the work of art. The work takes place when a human being cooperates with the product so that the outcome is an experience that is enjoyed because of its liberating and ordered properties. – DEWEY, JOHN. (1934). Art as Experience. New York: Minton Balch.
3. Experience is the result, the sign, and the reward of the interaction of organism and environment which, when it is carried to the full, is a transformation of interaction into participation and communication.- DEWEY, JOHN. (1934). Art as Experience. New York: Minton Balch.
4. Creative Experience – the creative experience is dynamic. It is a purposeful transaction between a person, a whole being, and his environment, a whole context. the process of creation is like a field of magnetic action in which the creator’s entire being is stimulated by a new challenge to his present state of well-being (a simulation), his perceiving of ideas to meet the challenge (individuating possible solutions), his evaluation of possible solutions (interaction), his processes of decision-making (dialogue between self and solution) and his artwork (final visual solution).
Creative Expression – is the result of reflective action on a medium. It results from a process involving curiosity, questioning, inquiry, searching, manipulating, experimenting and formulating ideas into objects… – SAWYER. J. & FRANCESCO, I. (undated). Elementary School Art for Classroom Teachers.
Another Diary’s Entry: Friday. 13/9/1996
Today I worked on the report for ‘A Recital’.
– List of Diagrams / List of Illustrations
– Introduction: i) Impressions. ii) Objectives. iii) Methodology
– Part One: Thinking About The Work: i) Ideas – the retrospective experience, the social experience, the critical experience, design concepts. ii) Resources – readings, monologues, dialogues, talks and gallery visits.
– Part Two: Making of the Work: i) Materials and Techniques. ii) The Making Process. iii) Presentations.
– Part Three: Appreciation: i) Personal Evaluation. ii) Educational Implications.