Friday, August 24

How To Make Unconscious Art

Unconscious art is a little bit hard to explain, especially in writing, but it's a pretty cool idea and I absolutely adore it!

At a glance, as the name suggests, the idea is to make art without thinking about it. "Well," you're probably thinking right now, "That's downright impossible unless it comes to me in a dream!" But trust me, it is possible, and to keep it simple I'm just going to offer some quick points for you to link together and digest on your own.

-> When making unconscious art you cannot have a 'final' idea on what your piece is going to look like.

-> It's okay to choose one shape or tool movement and just repetitively go with it - who knows how it will turn out!

I created the above piece by throwing around clay, then shoving a serrated tool into every crease I saw, and simply wiggling the tool around to turn the area into a little crevice. At first glance I thought it was hideous but now I love it because I don't see anything else like it.

On the piece below, after throwing around the clay (until I was content to move on), I took the end of a tool and just poked as many holes as I possibly could. When I made these two pieces I was just trying to pass some time after a rough life problem; the inability to focus on my art meant I could just go with a new flow, and develop a unique form.

-> Puking your colors onto your canvas actually counts as unconscious art.

-> Why is puking a horribly great example? Because short of aiming your head in one direction or another, you have no control over the way the final piece will look.

-> For the artist who cares about their teeth, this is how my school mate Chris says he did the following pieces:

 To create these images Chris tried his hardest not to look at or think about what he was doing as he randomly did auto-writing in wax, followed by water, black ink and red ink. He went on to explain, "I did this on a bed of newspaper and paper towel and once I got all the ink on, I picked it up and let the excess drain off first toward the bottom, then toward the top and then left side, and right side if it was still moving.
 Total work time like 45 seconds, and then quite sometime to dry. It's not terrifically important, but it is part of the rules I set-up for myself! I suggest fixer after it's dry so you don't get that serendipitous smearing during mounting." *If anyone's interested in his amazing Rorschachs, he's got an Etsy.

-> You cannot create this type of art using a process such as glass blowing, because there are too many variables that you have to take care of (i.e. the heat, pipe rotation, glass thickness).

That last point is kind of a doozy right? If you're a textile artist, then you can't very well sew an 'unconscious' wallet, can you? But I think that's where it becomes really fun, because you have to look outside the box!

My suggestions to Ducky have been along the lines of, "Throw some pieces of fabric around without looking, then sew them together as they are." Yes this does sound like a big mess, because what could you make it into? A malformed doll or ball?

Her idea was to use an unconscious process (inspired by Chris') to create print and dye patterns on her fabric. From there, she can take that unique fabric and make whatever she'd like with it!

Super Sculpey:
Jessie's solution to the dilemma of building an armature (which you can't do unconsciously) is to doodle onto a piece of paper, and then take that drawing and translate it into 3D. As a bonus she still isn't going to have a clue what the final piece will look like since she needs to create the other sides of it, so there's two elements of surprise in her work!

All in all, unconscious art can be a little bit complicated, it's hard to tell when you're thinking without meaning to, and some people just can't grasp this concept at all. But it's definitely worth it, even if you're just taking an unconscious design and then using it to build something new up - because I guarantee it will stand out from your other work.

Finally, if you have any neat ideas for other unconscious processes, go ahead and let us know! I'm absolutely enthralled with the idea of running at a medium from a new and mysterious starting point!

And remember, you can comment without signing in!

[Edit: I tweaked Chris' quote after he commented and suggested we elaborate on the random/unconscious nature of his process.]


Chris Laskey said...

I think one of the things you should emphasis here is that when I applied the wax (as a resist) and water and inks, I was trying my hardest not to look at or think about what I was doing, and just let it happen. The scariest image of them all is that middle one, because everyone says it looks like a horse or horses, and I'd been drawing and hot sculpting glass horses for most of the semester. So it's not totally surprising, but it's really kinda weird that my unconscious art would come up with a horse, don't you think.

Nikki Nasvytis said...

Hey I just quoted what you said! I would be more than happy to make that edit though, I was pondering whether or not I should have put it in anyway :)