Imaging Conflict

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Imperfection Series
bruising, bruise, beneath the surface, imperfection, damage, imperfections of memory, reconstruction, abstract and real, abstraction, reality, suite of paintings, series of paintings, oil painting, oil on canvas, bruises, imagination, malice, clumsiness, memory, body's memory, embodiment of memory, healing, vulnerability, intention, history of painting, memento mori tradition, before photographs, stopping time, decay, still life works, bowls of fruit still life,
description

 

... the bruising pieces create a dynamic located somewhere between  subjectA topic or idea represented in an art work.  and technique; using the idea of the temporality of existence through bruising as a starting point, they reveal what goes on beneath the surface, through the build up of  translucentQuality of material which allows diffused light to pass through it.  layers of color. As a result, little squares of damage reveal the imperfections of memory and the residues of reconstruction. What I seek to create is an encounter that is both  abstractImagery which departs from representational accuracy, to a variable range of possible degrees. Abstract artists select and then exaggerate or simplify the forms suggested by the world around them.  (Artlex.com)  and real,  concreteIn art criticism, concrete refers to things which are real, particular, tangible; as opposed to abstract. The more general use of the term refers to the concrete building material, which is extremely heavy and durable when set. First employed by the ancient Romans, it's made from a mixture of Portland cement, aggregate (typically sand and gravel), and water. Concrete is typically poured into a form; very rarely modeled or carved. Slabs should be between four and eight inches thick, depending on their function. A basement floor: 4 inches; home garage floor or porch: 4-6; sidewalk: 5-6: driveway: 6-8. Concrete is sold by cubic volume. Calculate need as: slab thickness in feet x slab width in feet x slab length in feet = cubic feet of concrete. 27 cubic feet = 1 cubic yard. Large projects require steel reinforcing bars (called re-bar). The strength of concrete increases when the amount of cement in the mixture increases, the amount of water relative to cement decreases, the density of the concrete is higher, and the aggregate is coarser. (Artlex.com)  in  formIn its widest sense, total structure; a synthesis of all the visible aspects of that structure and of the manner in which they are united to create its distinctive character. The form of a work is what enables us to perceive it. Form also refers to an element of art that is three-dimensional (height, width, and depth) and encloses volume. For example, a triangle, which is two-dimensional, is a shape, but a pyramid, which is three-dimensional, is a form. Cubes, spheres, ovoids, pyramids, cone, and cylinders are examples of various forms. Also, all of the elements of a work of art independent of their meaning. Formal elements are primary features which are not a matter of semantic significance — including colour, dimensions, line, mass, medium, scale, shape, space, texture, value; and the principles of design under which they are placed — including balance, contrast, dominance, harmony, movement, proportion, proximity, rhythm, similarity, unity, and variety. (Artlex.com)  while human in nature.  --Tammi Campbell, from an artist’s statement about Imperfection Series

Tammi Campbell’s Imperfection Series is a  suiteA suite of anything is a connected series or succession of objects; a number of things used or classed together; a set; as, a suite of rooms; a suite of minerals.  (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of paintings she made of bruises. Whether the bruises are her own or those of others, real or imagined, her statement does not tell us. Furthermore, we are not shown clearly whether these bruises are made on purpose or by accident, by clumsiness or malice.

The reason behind the bruising may be beside the point. As Campbell points out in her statement above, she is interested in memory, specifically the memory of the human body. In this  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of works, Campbell is exploring what it means to have a body that is vulnerable and prone to damage, but which ultimately heals itself... she has not painted scars, after all.

Memento Mori On another level, these works are about  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  and the traditional intention of painting. Before photographs, paintings were the most effective way of stopping the flow of time in an image, of making things appear not to age or decay, nor to heal or mend. The  memento moriIs Latin for “remember that you are mortal (i.e., that you will die some day)” Go to http://www.tate.org.uk/collections/glossary/definition.jsp?entryId=162 for further information on this phrase and how it relates to the visual arts.   traditionTradition is the passing along of a culture from generation to generation, especially orally. Or, a custom or set of customs handed down in this way. The idea of heritage is related to that of tradition. Any activity — as a pattern of celebration, ritual, or other behaviour, etc. — is traditional once it is a precedent influencing comparable activities in the future. (Artlex.com)  of painting (an example of which is seen in Philippe de Champaigne's Vanitas at left) involved the creation of  still lifeA picture of inanimate objects. Common still life subjects include vessels, food, flowers, books, clothing. (artlex.com)  works that pictured bowls of fruit in various states of decay, insects picking at meat left on a table, and similar images. They were meant to remind us of our mortality. This is what Campbell is doing as well, although more directly. Furthermore, she is pointing out that the painting, while created as a way to show us about impermanence, becomes a more permanent substitute for the long-since rotten fruits, consumed meat, and dead insects.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • Is Campbell commenting on art history? What might make us think so?
  • If you didn’t know this was a painting of a bruise, what might the title Imperfection Series suggest that it might be? Is it visually similar to other works on the ARTSask website, or to other paintings you’ve seen somewhere else?
  • While bruises are often blurry and faded, might the artist have made the image even more blurry on purpose (by leaving out details like the pores of skin)? If so, why might she have done this?
Online Activity
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Recall a movie or television show you have seen in which you see a character remember something. What happens to the images to make the viewer understand that the scene is a memory rather than part of the current action?

Choose one of the photographs to work with (by clicking on it), then adjust any of the aspects of the photograph to levels that you feel would represent an image that suggests a state of remembering a past event.

Studio Activity

Many  contemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (Artlex.com)  artists address issues of identity and the human condition by portraying the body, or convey they messages by means of the body itself through  performanceAn art form in which the actions of a person or group in a particular place at a particular time constitute the artwork; all works of performance art therefore incorporate time, space, the performer’s body, and the relationship between performer and viewer.  art. Campbell’s images of bruises on the body deal with the stories our bodies can physically tell. In a way, bruises or scars are the physical memory of an event on the body

Create a  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  from memory about an event in your life such as moving to a different home, a vacation, the first day of classes, or even the simple events of any given day, like eating a delicious piece of hot, buttered toast, sitting in the dentist’s chair, brushing a cat, milking a cow, sleeping in late, making a cake, etc.

  • Give yourself a time limit of 20 minutes to complete the drawing.
  • Consider how memory works. It does not always follow a linear time line; some details may not be vague while other are; some aspects or details of the event may even be missing from memory.
  • Use drawing techniques such as smudging, blurring, and overlapping to represent these aspects of memory and time.

Create a performance-based art piece that addresses memory

  • Verbally recount a favourite memory in front of an audience for a performance art piece.
  • As performance art the work does not have to be a completed story. Present the piece so that it reflects the idea of memory rather than letting it be a linear narration.
  • Invite others to write down a memory that can be added to a memory board you have created. Consider having the performance and the written memories be in relation to a certain event or theme.  By doing this, you will engage the viewer in thinking more carefully about your memory and your narrative/story.
References

Garneau, David.  Moving Beyond WordsCatalogue essay for “Biennial SCAM (Small Cities Art Museums)”, 2004.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning