For me, this was an interesting project. Be it the fact that I had minimal knowledge about the manhattan project before it or that I used to think contemporary art was a joke. So it was good that we not only covered but combined those two subjects in this project. More specifically we were asked to after some research create a conceptual art piece that represents some part of the manhattan project.
On the manhattan project side of this project, we started by learning the basics. After that, we started the interesting part which was how these bombings affected Japanese citizens. Enter Hiroshima by John Hersey. Hiroshima is a non-fiction book that follows six survivors of the Hiroshima bombing from moments before to weeks after the bombing. As part of this book reading, we were asked to write questions and answer them with our opinions every twenty pages. This was all in preparation for something called a Socratic seminar which we would do around every forty pages. A Socratic seminar is a form of group discussion created by Socrates to create a dialogue between students rather than a traditional lecture where a teacher is presenting information directly to the students. The story told by Hersey was a very human one. The part that struck a chord with me was the descriptions of the chaos that ensued after the detonation. Reading this book I felt like I was able to get a better understanding of the consequences of the bombing and what survivors had to go through. If you would like to have a more in-depth view of my views on “Hiroshima” you can find all my questions plus answers along with all of my reflections.
The second part of this project was the art aspect. This ended up being one of my favourite parts since I discovered that I quite like conceptual art (with some exceptions). We started our education with some of the basic histories. That is when I learned of Yoko ono and Marcel Duchamp. I specifically mentioned these two because they were both very important when it came to forming my opinions on conceptual art. One forming positive views one forming negative views. My negative views stemmed from the “readymade art” that Duchamp was credited as pioneering in the early 1900s. It’s not that I have no respect for readymade art I have respect for the effort of the idea behind it. It is just my opinion that I feel without changing anything about the item it lacks any way of giving off your idea. I think that interpretation is good but if I were to just put an uncooked hot pocket on a table in a museum most likely nobody would be able to infer the intended meaning. Speaking of museums back to Yoko Ono. During this project, I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Vancouver art museum where they were showing the Yoko ono exhibit. This was interesting since it was the first time I was able to experience some famous conceptual art pieces. One such piece was a short film that I wrote an essay on which you can find here. If you would like to visit the Yoko ono exhibit yourself you can find a link to the exhibits page here.
In some ways creating my piece of art was the hardest and easiest part. That is in thanks to how the creation portion was split up. The creation portion was split up between idea creation and creating the art piece. For the idea creation process, we were put into groups that had a specific theme. This was because The exhibition our art pieces were for was split up into themed rooms. I was not the biggest fan of this idea since it restricted creativity. However, I’m biased since I missed the day when we were put into groups which meant I was put into a group that didn’t match up with the ideas I had been brainstorming. Along with that, the exhibition needed to be split into themed rooms or else it just really wouldn’t have worked. Even though it was a slight inconvenience to me it was necessary and it wouldn’t even be an inconvenience if I was in class. In the end, however, after doing my brainstorming and talking to the teachers I had an accepted pitch. That pitch was about the switch in people’s perception of what is and isn’t possible after the discovery that nuclear technology is possible.
I decided to represent this idea with a locked safe that said unlocked this was to represent the subversion of what people believed was possible. You may be wondering why the safe wouldn’t say locked and be unlocked, well, too bad because telling you why would be very embarrassing.
Finally, the night was here, it was time for the exhibition. This was by far one of the hardest exhibitions I have had to set up. That is thanks to my little side project which was a video that was meant to go along with my room’s historical context statement. You may be wondering why the video was the reason it was hard to set up since you would generally make a video before you had to set it up. Well, the reason may surprise you. It was not because I procrastinated on making the video (although I did also do that) it was my over-complicated idea of how I was going to display the video. That idea was to project the video on the back of a curtain so you could see it on the other side like a screen. This idea wouldn’t have been so hard if it weren’t for the fact that we had certain lights we couldn’t turn off and that the area where we were planning on setting up the projectors was the abysmal entrance to the washroom. My original plan was to Since my video was split into two I would have each half projected onto two different curtains. Although in the end, I ended up combining the two videos and just projecting it onto one curtain. Although this wasn’t what I had originally planned it did end up working well and I think if I had stuck with the two projectors it wouldn’t have turned out as well due to how many problems would arise.
In the end, the night ended up being pretty well I got to talk to lots of people about my art piece. I also got to experience some silent judgment. If I were to do it again I would probably have practiced explaining my art piece a little more. I also enjoyed looking at all my peer’s art.
Overall this project opened my eyes to the world of conceptual art leaving me with some good and bad impressions. If I were to do this project again I would have put more effort into reading and reflecting on Hiroshima by john heresy since I would often procrastinate on reading what I had to. This lead to my reflections not being of a quality that they should have been. This is something I hope to work on in my next project.