Thursday, 26 September 2013

Digital Self Portrait

I've decided to create a digital self-portrait using Anime Studio. I have always had an obsession with birds so I am basing my digital work on a self-portrait which was a "morph" of myself and our caged Galah (Rose-breasted Cockatoo) whose name is Budgie. I entered a version of this "bird morph" in the Archibald Prize in 2010. There are some strange works entered in the Archie, but this must be one of the oddest.

Budgie was born on our farm as a wild bird, but when she was learning to fly she broke a wing. She is about three years old now and a caged bird. I have always felt bad about birds being caged, but if one's cage is one's only means of survival perhaps it is not that bad. Any sane creature wants to survive. Budgie has an indoor and outdoor cage with a transparent sliding door between, she opens her own door and goes out each morning and we spread birdseed on a two sided feeding shelf which she shares with her wild family, so at least she has a good social life, if not freedom.

I designed this galah morph as a result of questioning the traditional portrayal of winged humans in art. Bird/human hybrids like Nike, Hebe, Alkonost, Genies, Cherubim, Maat, Garuda and Tangata Manu all have their wings at shoulder level or as part of their arms. Occasionally a symbolic winged figure like Faravahar has lower body bird characteristics, but I became fascinated with the actual mechanics of bird movement and decided, when watching my galah, "Budgie," that her legs were actually more the equivalent to human arms with their hands and opposable digits, whereas her wings provide the propulsion force as do our legs.

I have an interest in mythology and comparative religion and I am fascinated by the narrative uses of anthropomorphism and its impact on society. I have a lack of belief in human supremacy and attempt a level of fairness and relative equality in my relations with other animals. I find the anti-anthropomorphic attitudes of extremists in religion and the sciences absurd. I am an animal, I think like an animal and feel like an animal. This attitude is reflected in my artwork. This project is a way to express my artwork in a new form where I link abstract images and words and sounds to tell a personal story.

For the last 35 years I have been using a wide variety of media including sculpture, glass, ceramics, collage, drawing and painting to express my viewpoint and explore my obsessions. Over these years I have intermittently created self portraits. A painting expresses a single aspect of my self, but I usually explore deeper levels through the use of complex detail. I am wondering how the ability to use of a linked string of moving images will effect my ability to portray my shifting identity. I am hoping that the use of sequences of images will reveal a more complex self portrait.

When I paint and draw I use complex techniques which can often obscure the primary statement of the artwork. I am hoping that by using a medium in which I am less skilled, but which is straightforward enough for me to use intuitively, I will be able to communicate more simply, the emotion of this personal statement. At the same time these simple abstract forms will become complex by their placement in the sequence of the short film.

I will use film of live action as a reference for areas which require life-like form or movement. I have been making videos of trees moving in high wind. I will study these films to use as a reference for the way the different levels of trees, individual branches and leaf clumps move against each other, but I am unlikely to use them as a direct photographic reference because I want the moving landscape to be fairly abstract.

The narrative is an important part of this project. I am intending to incorporate both sound and text into the film. I want to strike a balance between the images and the words. For added impact I will experiment with how I can create dissonance by disturbing the synchronisation between the sound, the images and the text, while still retaining a cohesive narrative. My bird/human character will create a point of reference throughout the film.

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