Assessment 2: Critical Reflection for our Major Assessment

  • Your response to the theme:

In our Major Project the theme is ‘the nature of curiosity’.  The idea is that the audience is invited to interact and engage with the work.  I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would respond to this idea.  I didn’t want to make a work that relied solely on audience interaction, so I started to think about maybe using something that could incorporate sensors, or something that meant that the audience’s involvement changed the work without them having to actively participate.  I spent a lot of time looking online at other artworks and couldn’t find anything that suited the brief I was looking for.  I remembered that I saw ‘Silver Clouds’, a work by Andy Warhol, a few months ago; it was a room filled with helium-inflated pillow like objects.  I thought it was a really interesting idea because whether the audience chooses to purposely engage with the work or not, it is affected by their presence.  Just walking through the work will change it.


  • Contextualisation of the project in relation to media art works:

The work that I will be creating is centred on the idea of the materiality of the objects chosen.  Throughout the semester, we have been looking at what media art is and how objects can become a medium in their own right.  My idea, like Warhol’s work, is about the involvement of the audience with the objects floating around the room.  You are invited to engage with the work and, in turn, the objects that embody the meaning of both interaction and the question of materiality.

  • Outcomes of your prototype:

I began to design my prototype in the mid-session break.  My idea was to try and repurpose ‘goon bags’ as they have a very similar look to the materiality of the ‘Silver Clouds’ and they are airtight.  The first problem I came across was that I don’t consume anything that comes from a goon bag so I had to purchase some (but thought I could collect them over the next 5 weeks).  I purchased some helium and experimented with inflating the bags.  Unfortunately, they didn’t float as they were simply too heavy.  I tried cutting the spout off and inflating another balloon inside the bag, but again it wouldn’t float.

For the sake of the prototype presentation, I decided to use the balloons that had come with the helium I bought so that hopefully I could achieve the environment of the piece.  I filled all of the balloons, trying differing amounts of helium to see if that would change the height.  Unfortunately, it didn’t; the balloons either rose entirely to the ceiling or they were on the ground.  I ending up typing them to some blocks so the idea of differing heights and an immersive feeling was more evident.

  • Audience experience:

It was a little bit hard to gauge as I was talking in the room which was very small, but people did get up and enter the room.  The work ‘reacted’ as I had hoped.  It seemed like they knew that they could enter it.  Some people just walked around and the balloons moved, whilst others actually played, knocked them about or kicked the balloons, so were actively interacting.  I’m hoping that the final piece will have more of a ‘mood’ associated with it – I’d light to have it quite dark in the room with one spot light pointing up through the work.

  • Feedback from peers and tutor:

The feedback was primarily positive.  Jo (tutor) suggested that instead of balloons I could use the plastic bags that you use at the supermarket to put fruit in and Jasmine (peer) said she had found a heat sealing appliance online that I could use to make the plastic bags work.  Most of the negative aspects I had already explained and needed to work on.

  • Further work to be done:

Firstly, I need to fix the problem of the objects either floating too high or being on the floor.  I am thinking I can either mix helium and air (which Warhol did) or perhaps install a fan in the room to create that movement.  Initially I was concerned that that would change the purpose of the work, but I believe that the audience involvement remains the same.  I also need to experiment with the new objects I choose, I’m hoping that maybe if I have a heat sealing implement, I could also try to make the goon bags work as well as the plastic bags.