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Evaluating the Insignificant Memories Project

March 14, 2011

In this self-directed project, I have been looking at personal memories in connection to objects, particularly how objects can seem insignificant to others, but to me they mean a lot. I looked at many artists and shows to help my background research. I looked at cabinets of curiosity as well as how heritage sites and museums have set about categorising and displaying items.

I looked at the work and visited the exhibition of Susan Hiller (at Tate Britain) who inspired me with “From the Freud Museum” in particular. I also looked at the work of Michael Landy, his piece “Breakdown” (2001) and the inventory of it. I visited Duxford’s Imperial War Museum to see how they displayed their items and presented the text behind it. I researched into which software would best suit me and my needs whilst making my pieces.

I decided to use the idea of a curiosity cabinet to show my objects, as putting them in this arena of display will elevate their status from mere objects, to something of value (which they are to me). I liked the idea of showing them to other people, letting them into my world a little. I cleared out a cabinet of my Nan’s and used this as it was perfect for what I wanted- simple wood and glass construction, with big enough shelves for me to place my items, and it aesthetically looked ideal.

I chose to document my making this cabinet using film and a little photography which you can see here ( ) . I enjoyed putting the film together and it was a little trickier than previous film as I used Microsoft movie maker instead of IMovie (on Mac). And after using both I think that IMovie is better as it has more functions and it’s easier to understand how to do things like edit each clip individually. Movie maker was okay, but it was a bit too simple for what I needed and I couldn’t work out how to alter the duration of a clip. As a film, I think it works quite well as it turned out as I envisioned – documenting the making of the piece, but also adding in what it was about with excerpts from the book.

To go with the cabinet, I made a catalogue to explain what each objects was. I tried out several different methods and software’s before finally hitting on one I could actually use. I decided I wanted to use computers to aid me so it would look more professionally made and so I could account for spelling errors and adjusting photographs etc.  I booked studio time and managed to get some really nice photographs of my objects which I put in the book. I made a mock-up to help me with orientation and layout. First go at making the book I used Photoshop which didn’t work at all, as even in the “Create” option, I couldn’t get the text correct and how I wanted it. Also it wouldn’t print double-sided – I would have to do it manually. So then I tried using Costco’s photo kiosk (online) and I couldn’t create my own from scratch – I had to use their templates, which I didn’t want to do. Then a lecturer suggested I use Indesign. I tried this, several times, printing it out and rectifying mistakes, but I couldn’t get on with the software at all. It wasn’t so bad setting it out, but without knowing how it works, it was very complicated. Every time I printed it out, it was all the wrong way, with the pages all numbered wrong and not printed on the back of the correct page. Despairing, I tried a program I have at home called Printmaster. It was so simple and I did it by just printing off one page at a time (so four sides). My printed (I discovered) does double-sided printing so it was much easier than struggling on with Indesign.  I was really happy with the outcome of the book.

I asked Liz to help me bind the book and I’d tried out several approaches before deciding to stitch it together in a saddle bind. I tried stapling on a test and it looked horrible. I dismissed perfect binding as it wouldn’t work with my small number of pages and it’s not a very strong bind at all.  After a test run on a mock print up, I saddle stitched it together, using endpapers to stick it together. I was delighted with how it came out especially after all the problems it took to finally make.

I made some monoprints as I thought this works well with the theme of memory as this type of print is using an imprint to create the image. I used wooden letters and pressed them into the paper then inverted them in Photoshop to create the type on the cover of the book. I also pressed my hand on it and experimented with some cover designs using that, but although it worked conceptually, I didn’t want to sacrifice the aesthetic of the book – and the handprint part just didn’t work and flow with the inside, it felt too dark as the memories in it aren’t always sad.

On the whole, this project has been really interesting and I felt I could do a lot with it, and have a lot more left to explore within the field of memory.

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