C8H8 Exhibition (March 2012)

Myself and two other fellow artists, Eleanor Osmond and Nicola Reeve have recently worked on a collaborative project together and produced an exhibition at our university for the public a few weeks ago on the 15th and 16th March. Being set a collaborative project to do as one of the modules needing to be completed in our first year, we decided to group together to piece our individual art practices into something joint by the three of us. Nicolas work is very sculptural, creating installations of her own in the past year and Eleanor has been working a lot with video and sound. My personal work revolves around process- based art, such as weaving, using repeating, gridding, collecting and ordering as the main principles within this. Combining our own individual work was something we knew would work well, we wanted something installation based, something we made ourselves from scratch, something using video and sound. After talking about our ideas to contribute to the project on a whole, we began threading polystyrene balls onto threads of invisible string, it was labour intensive, monotonous, obsessive, ritualistic such as is the theme of my own art practice at the moment.
The decision to expand further the amount of hands that threaded was a very important part of some of the concepts behind the work, we sat in public places and invited other people to thread with us, making this more a mass collaboration rather than the three of us. We continued to do this over a period of six weeks, we became obsessed with threading, it became part of our daily routine, the repetitive action was clearly reflected in the finished piece.

An entrepreneurial approach to the project meant we made posters which were distributed around the university, also creating social networking events to publicise the exhibition. As the day grew closer we added more information to the posters about where and when the exhibition would be held, keeping back some of the information was a good way to draw people in. Here are pictures of the posters we made for the event.

We decided to call the collaborative exhibition C8H8, which is the chemical equation for polystyrene. The intrique for the public to know what this meant and what the event was by calling the exhibition something not immediately known worked really well.
As the exhibition date grew closer, we brought wine and nibbles for the guests and began the final preparations, finishing our final threads and putting the installation together. Eleanor mainly worked on the video and sound for the installation, the sqeaking sound of polystyrene could be heard in the final experience and a video of a blurred pair of working hands, although advice on editing the pitch and tempo of the sqeaking we discussed as a group.
The threads were assembled to two boards so as to be easily hung from one end of the installation room to the other. Technical difficulties in assembling the strings and the fact that they were different lengths made it difficult to meet both walls, so improvisation had to take place and they were hung at an angle in the corner of the room instead of across it. It turned out to be a successful mistake, the way the light from the video hit the polystyrene balls looked much better than in our original plan.

Here are some videos of the installation so as to get an idea of the sound and the moving video over the threads/ the shadows of the polystyrene threads on the wall with the overlaying video. They arent great videos but they give the general impression.

For the guests, we asked them to comment on the exhibition by leaving notes as feedback on a cork board we put up on the wall outside the installation space. We worked out that overall, over 50 hours was spent making the threads, with an average of 1 hour per thread, adding up to over 44,000 polystyrene balls in total. Statistics like this really interested our guests and add to the preciseness of the threading as a concept. There was a really good turn out for the exhibition and lots of people came so we got an excellent amount of feedback, opinions about the work and what it reminded them of etc. Here they are below.

Have a look at my fellow artists blogs for more information on their own individual art practices: