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Life’s Priorities in Focus

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Week 12 of first semester at SCU and an excursion to the Cape Byron Lighthouse with the Space Place and Travel unit a cultural studies unit was a fitting end to the term. We assembled at 9.30 am and boarded the bus for the one h0ur trip through the senic country to the coastal town of Byron Bay and the high point, the historic lighthouse.

After listening to a great talk from the parks and wildlife custodian on the many layers of culture that had been assembled to construct the current situation we filed into the lighthouse proper. The history of the light house and its use to guide shipping was an interesting story . The motto sand blasted into the glass door ” Once a danger now Safe ” says it all .

Before roads were built the ocean was the main trade route for the timber which was harvested in the hills, the red gold cedar and later the Whaling that was a part of the economic mainstay for the development of the area.

Seeing this with my classmates on such a beautiful sunny day was a treasure and the fact that I had my Nikon to record the fact was even more of a plus.  One thing that will always be a part of my memories of that day was being with Joseph a young man who will never age in my memory .

On that particular day as was his custom he was barefoot.   Being tall and with long dark hair he had the look of the prophet and was unasuming and very polite in his nature. He offered to take a picture for me of the only goat on the headland ,there was once a flock of them, and added ” I won’t run off with your camera,”  I handed it to him and he was good to his word not that I doubted him .

We stayed together as we walked down the path to Wategos beach and tragically Joseph was killed in an ultralight plane crash a few days later . The next class we were all in tears at the sad loss of one so young and we all took a walk in our bare feet to remember Joseph.

The end of the semester came and now the feeling of completion is washing over me the idea that the work is over for a while and having one semester to go to the completion of my degree . A dream that seemed not impossible but improbable, starting a Bachelor of Media degree as a mature age student . In the beginning I almost gave up but giving up was more painful than going on . The end is in  now in sight and what a wonderful experience it has been .

I have come a long way this I now know and can no longer see the beginning that is how I know how far I have come . I no longer feel foreign to the University and have found my feet and my voice , the lecturers are my friends and my most respected friends for University has shown me a side of myself I was unaware of and this has made many things possible and I would recommend it to any one .

That is not to say it does not require great application and dedication but the rewards are equal to the effort and I have with the great tutition and help of the staff built an academic castle that is mine forever and one that can be shared with others .

During this semester in which I tackled three units namely Arts Industries Studies , Space Place and Travel and Studio Drawing , I have  been able to call on the first couple of years work and to use what has gone before as a foundation on which to build .

Also as my interest has lain in the area of screen and digital production the opportunity to work on at least half a dozen projects using the high end Sony HD cameras has been invaluable and I now have a large body of work to show for my time . The filming of the SCU race day meeting at the Lismore Turf CLub was a great project and one that was a touch nostalgic as I once worked there as the Farrier so the surroundings were familiar to me.

Preparation for the Mazstock 2010 Project.

working on the hand gestures..

I have also filmed the Nimbin Mardigrass Festival and more recently Mazstock 2010 at the Italo Club a music event featuring 15 bands and outputting these shows to DVD.

One of my elective units was Studio drawing and this was a most interesting divergence from the ususal units in so much as it was one of the visual arts areas in which we were required to spend hours of home studio time working on drawings the term drawing is a verb came to mean a lot to me. In the final outcome we were required to produce a series of work in an intallation that related to the body and was a narrative of mixed media.  The lecturer was usually kind in her appraisal of our work but I was pleased to see her uphold the artistic standard and not to let art be trashed . As she looked at one lot of work and just said no there was insufficient time spent and did not comment further but what she did say to the student in question was this is not the end but the beginning ,resubmitt . I was wondering if my work would be pass and in my heart I knew I had laboured long and hard on my piece which was a series of large hand gestures . The universal language of hand signs . When it came to me I read out my critique as follows ….

Drawing is a verb: Exploring identity and the figurative

Critique statement for “Hand Gestures” the universal language.

Drawing inspiration from   “Daniel Guzman’s work. A Cult Mexican artist Daniel Guzmán appears for his first London solo exhibition ‘Don’t Ask Me How the Time Goes By’ at Stephen Friedman Gallery.

This work of universal hand gestures / body language is part comic part cartoon in its essence. Yet the one-dimensional representation of this media lies in collision with gestures of ancient and modern cultures, belying a far more sophisticated enquiry.

Sensitive to all facets of daily life and responsive to the most meaningful areas of communication and in doing so attempts to bring the past and present together. In observing and in fact studying body language and focusing primarily on hand gestures the artist seeks to go beyond the duality of speech and traces the wide World underlying contemporary life and it’s secret meanings.

The order of presentation of the works is from the point of view of initially the single finger or in Western Culture giving someone the finger. An obscene gesture and often meaning “fuck you” or “up yours” it is performed by showing the back of the hand with the middle finger pointed up and the others bent down.

So this installation is about body language and developing human relations from a starting point of arrogance and hostility. I should like to add that in the Caribbean Islands a similar but different gesture is, the hand upturned and extended to another with all five fingers up signifying that you are a bastard, that is having five fathers or to put it in another way your father is not known .

The next drawing shows the open palm signifying an opening deepening and an extending  in a human relationship  . A open hand that holds no malice. The next three drawings offer nothing but positive reinforcement one being the V victory ,the thumbs up for life and I’m okay and the final positive circular shape between the index finger and the thumb is another sign for Okay but it is more than just Okay. This denotes a higher meaning and a positively outstanding state of communication having taken place the feelings are ecstatic. The last in the order of presentation is above all the rest and is in a class of it’s own having a particular origin and that is in the Hawaii islands. This is the Shaka a common greeting gesture the Aloha spirit and used to denote all right cool hang loose.

The intentions of this project are to give the viewer and insight into the universality of communication through gesture and body language. In exploring the figurative this work looks at the idea of gender bending and the ability to use the body to communicate and in particular a small part of the body and one that we use every day in the most common of tasks.

This is ideologically deconstructs the body as a whole to focus on the hands. Hands are central to all human creative and destructive pursuits. Hands can hurt or heal and there in lies the conflicting and irreconcilable riddle of the hands. Gestures can be friendly, formal, salutes, celebration and obscene to name a few.

This was received well but the Lecturer commented on the fact that I had missed out on the idea of mixed media having used only pencil and some ink. I complained a little saying how much work I had done and she said I know you have and then I realised I could have submitted and she would have most likely accepted my work but instead I took it home and made a set of small cutouts of the larger hand gestures stuck them on cardboard. Using paddle pop sticks I ended up with a small set of the originals and so qualified for mixed media including, small photocopies of the originals , cardboard , paddle pop sticks  and super glue.  Kelly had shown me something rather beautiful about art and something I would remember for a long time .

Hawaiian Shaka

More of the hand gesture series including the miniatures.

Written by Andrew Speers

June 1, 2010 at 11:17 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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