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Is a constant, underlining narrative required to keep research projects like '1500 Volts DC' focused?

\\ During a recent series of work I created for part of my degree at the University of Central Lancashire I was struggling to maintain the focus of the project, where it was going and what I wanted it to say. It was therefore hard to continue creating work for it as I kept hitting this same brick wall; What am I trying to say and what is my work trying to say? What is the point that its trying to make? Normally I would refer back to the reason I had started this project, look into the contextual research I had, then begin to rebuild the narrative based on what I had originally researched. More often than not this would defeat my block. Alternatively, should this fail, I would dive back into my contextual research and search for an angle I had not yet explored, an article I had not yet read or a person I had yet to spoken to. This time however I was looking at a currently developing political situation, something that did not have a predetermined start or end. This made it very complicated to just return to the beginning as the notion of the beginning was continually changing.

Looking back, this was the main problem with the project from the start. I'm beginning to gain a greater understanding of how I work and the work that I create and as such, I've realised that I need a solid, contextual narrative underlining the work I'm creating. I believe this epiphany came from my interactions with photographer Jack Latham last year. The way he described his work and how he went about creating the stories he told showed me what I had felt was missing from myself and my work. Almost over night, I suddenly realised what I wanted to do as an artist. I'll talk more about Latham and my epiphany in another post but that was the same moment that I realised that I could create much stronger works if I looked to the past for inspiration and explored a historical concept to create a visual response. History is not set in stone, so the contextual narrative cannot be truly fixed however, the facts of the narrative can be found if you know where to look.

The danger with this idea however is that the narrative I'm trying to create could just be the same as the contextual narrative, just telling a chronological story of events as they occurred. This isn't what I want my work to do. Latham's most recent body of work; Sugar Paper Theories is very much the study of a contextual narrative. However, he create a story that explored the original context but in a way not seen before, not only visual but a narrative based on what those involved had told him and how their knowledge steered the project. One of the biggest problems that plagued my previous series was lack of direction, I was blindfolded and didn't know which way to steer the work.

\\ For my next major body of work it was therefore important to have a solid, predetermined contextual narrative that wasn't going to dramatically change every five minuets. Equally, however, I needed to keep an open mind and let my research and those I speak to guide the narrative I'm wanting to create. With 1500 Volts DC I have begun researching into the historical context and have just visited the real world location. I believe the project is now reaching the point where I feel I have a competent understanding of the contextual narrative so can now start to build the narrative I want to tell. I intend, going forward, to continue my contextual research as so far the ideas coming out of this research is the main body of the work but start to expand this exploration to a variety of contacts I've made and start to get some first had accounts and opinions to hopefully drive the project forward to tell its own narrative and not just a chronological, history lesson.


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