Avoidance and Encouragement


Lately I’ve been avoiding things…

When I’m developing new work I find often myself (unknowingly) resisting the next steps in creating the work. It’s an unconscious thing, based on fear of the unknown, but manifests itself through procrastination and re-prioritising (doing admin), avoidance of forking out for necessary expenses, or rationalisation that something ‘wont work anyway’. Recently I’ve felt it when dealing with new materials – such as my experiments with concrete – which in hindsight were so straightforward, but at the time felt alien.

It can be crippling at times. I remember struggling to start the first Small Cinema community project, to the point where I just wanted to just give the funding grant back and shout “I can’t do it!”, until my friend and fellow Re-Dock-er John O’Shea sat me down and asked “what do you want to do, and when do you need to do it?”. From that point, we set some tasks and some dates and I just tried to hit them. Having someone there to share the responsibility of thinking about it was what got me going, and not wanting to let them down got me through it.


Haunted by the Ghost

A similar scenario occurred this week with my artwork for the Portal project. I’m designing a video installation which is a development of the database-style installation of Gillfoot No. 2, whilst incorporating Skype as a live interface, and a Peppers Ghost illusion as part of the presentation. Whilst I had researched the illusion extensively, I had not tested it enough practically and found myself avoiding doing so, until friend and projection magician Dave Lynch invited me to Leeds to have a play for an afternoon. It was Dave’s confidence and enthusiasm for the idea that encouraged me to fork out on a few materials and commit some time purely to experimentation (a rare treat these days!) to achieve the illusion. And of course, as he was a friend, I didn’t want to let him down…

So we spent an afternoon in a dark room in Leeds stacking boxes on monitors and taping bits of perspex and mylar at odd angles, and pretty soon we had results. Ghostly reflections of my pixellated face appeared on the plastic screen and I could see that this was going to work. Dave also is a keen documenter of process so thankfully we have pictures to prove we achieved something. Sketching and prototyping is such a valuable part of a creative process, but its something I avoid, for the fear of it not working. Here though, I was kicking myself for not trying it earlier. If it hadn’t been for someone, in this case Dave, pinning me down to a day to experiment, I have written it off without trying it at all.

The final piece, along with Dave’s own work with lasers,  will be presented as part of the Portal project exhibition – “Can You Hear Me? I Can See You!” at FACT from 17th May.

One thought on “Avoidance and Encouragement

  1. Kay

    Thanks for sharing this Sam. Know exactly what you mean. I find the easy bit is getting the idea particularly in conversation with others. Implementing it can feel more isolating and sometimes overwhelming. Regular xchanges with colleagues as well as bite sized targets is the way to tangible outcomes and outputs. Bet you there are loads of people out there in a similar position

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