First YouTube video is up!
– couldn’t edit images into the video. Keep graphic language by putting up posters in the backgrounds of videos?
– need to ask for Kate’s help with Premiere because I couldn’t even keep the audio and visual lined up while trying to do edits in there
– struggled also to figure out how to add captions (which is important to me for accessibility reasons), but realised that I could actually do that within YouTube, which solved that issue
-think I’m doing well at keeping my authentic voice and aesthetic, but I’m not comfortable in front of the camera yet so I’m a bit worried about whether the approachable personality that leads people to ask me questions is actually coming across
Need to get a few more videos up and then I can start publicizing the challenge and hopefully getting more public dialogue.
Graffiti/stickers/street art progress
Have now made 3 different stencils (4 if you count the tiny patch one) in two different materials, and put up slogans across town (Headington hill, High St and St Giles etc, a Temple Cowley) several times. I’m still using the same paint, but I want to try a different brand/type of spray can because I want to see if I can get the spray narrow enough to do freehand words that don’t have to be a foot high to be legible. It should be possible. I have also seen some people using some kind of graffiti pen and I want to try getting hold of that.
Had a bit of a mid-project slump with the graffiti/posters despite introducing faces and engaging with the community more. After doing some research and reading books about street art (particularly Banksy), I realised I felt like my work, in trying to work with positivity, had become a bit limp, and what I felt like it was lacking was an element of aggression – so I added handwritten slogans to some of the posters. That immediately felt better. It also increased the personal sense of the posters.
Having done more font and typography research, I am interested in trying new letterings, but it’s hard to do when 1) I’m still hand cutting the stencils and 2) it has to be a stencil-appropriate font (no floating segments) – this is outranked as a priority by things like public interaction, working on YouTube dialogue, and getting the next round of posters up.
Public interaction is going well. I coordinated an event with Oxford LGBTQ+ Campaign for Trans Day of Visibility where we got together and made several hundred stickers, most of which people took away to put up themselves, or gave to me to put up, and they were pretty excited about making and projecting messages like ‘trans happiness is real’ ‘non-binary lives aren’t tragedies’, so that was a success. The Instagram account (@transhappinessisreal) is getting good interaction with the local community, especially since I started asking for photo submissions so that I can put actual trans people on the posters (these will be the next ones to go up – stay tuned). Also, the Beyond the Binary project at the Pitt Rivers museum reached out to me and we are in talks about potential collaborations (despite my misgivings about the problematic colonial behaviors at the core of the museum).
The graffiti itself is also getting good public interaction. Lots of people respond ‘oh yeah I’ve seen that around town!!’ when I tell them about what I’m working on, or they show me a photo of it thinking it’s cool and then I get to tell them that I did it. My coworker (who suggested branching into Temple Cowley) told me that her 12 yr old daughter and her gang of friends have made a competitive game out of it – whenever you spot a graffiti you get a point – and are going around town getting excited whenever they find them (and that it’s pissing off some of their transphobic parents) which is just so cute and great.
The research that has hit me most heavily thus far has been on the one hand sources about typography and handmade work (especially Michael Perry’s Hand Job), and on the other sources on (queer) activism and theory in general (Matilda Bernstein Sycamore’s That’s Revolting! Queer Theories for Resisting Assimilation). I’m concerned about who I’m speaking for and to, and whether my work has theoretical legs to stand on, but I’m also comforted by the fact that my work is coming from my heart and is reaching people enough for them to reach out to me and tell me they appreciate it. That must mean that it’s doing something, is worth something, but how can I do more.
I’m also concerned about anonymity, legality, and the authority of the establishment. One issue I’m facing is that the anonymity of the street art is becoming less and less tenable the more this work expands. For example, if I end up doing an event with the Pitt Rivers, it won’t be possible to remain anonymous. Also, I want to try wheat pasting fabric art up (using the style of my recent life drawing work), but that’s also something which I would want to publicize from my personal account, and would be recognizably my style. Also, if I do posters sparked by the YouTube channel, that would connect everything. It would be easier just to not have to keep it separate, it’s getting messy. Given that the reason I’m working on the street is my closely held principles of art should be accessible, tangible, present in daily life, not locked in the gallery, maybe I should just come out and own it. Not sure what legal risks I face on that front (vandalism). But by now lots of people know that this work is me anyway, and will do from the final show. Maybe I should just find a balance between not blasting the fact that this is my work, but not continuing to be really zealous about keeping it as untraceable as possible. Lots of concerts and events advertise with posters in lots of the same places I’ve been putting my stuff, and they literally have their addresses on the posters, so no one must be bothering to prosecute them.
- Digital stickers
- Most patch development remains untouched
- Posters sparked by the YouTube channel that have Q&A on them
- Publicly taking questions / irl dialogue
- Fabric street art (tactility)
- Plywood poster boards
- Moss development
I originally decided not to develop the moss work because it was very poorly time efficient in terms of getting the message out there. But now that I’ve got the message on the streets in several rounds of graffiti and posters, maybe I have time to look at more novel ways of communicating. And the moss seems to stick in people’s heads, they mention it to me a lot. It’s a novel surprising thing, and also carries good associations of being environmentally friendly, and the message that trans happiness is real is found in nature. If I’m going to try to develop it, the issues I need to solve include
– placement where the moss gets rain but is still visible (also consider pollution?)
-size: need to cut a balance between amount of moss and time, and eye-catching power
How to deal with the exhibition
My work is on the street and online because I want it to be accessible to people and present in their lives, where they can touch it and talk about it loudly. I don’t want to put it behind gallery doors in a quiet white room. I’m tempted to not put any of it in a gallery behind closed doors. See: theories of the museum as a tomb: once something is in the museum, it’s disconnected from people and not living and vivid anymore. Plus, gallery = establishment? (Is there a possible conception of an art school show as something loud and tactile and accessible and anti-establishment?)
It’s also not any one thing that could be conceived as a final piece, and I won’t be done with it after our final show, it’s more that the final show will be a snapshot of where the work is at that moment in time.
Plus there’s multiple strands to the work that don’t necessarily necessitate each other. So I’m not really sure how to approach the exhibition.
Maddy suggested that I just put in the show all my empty spray cans. I’ve been thinking about putting the stencils and stencil scraps, spray cans, associated remnants etc. in the show, maybe calling it something like ‘All the Gallery Gets’.
“Street art is the epitomy of real-world accessible art, but it cannot be fully accessed from the gallery. What you see here are only the partial components of my work – the building blocks and side products that have purposefully been curated as little as possible. To see the work fully you must go outside and engage with the streets of the city. “? Could include some unpasted posters and disposable camera photos (minimal curation). Also want to put ‘please touch the art’ signs.
What if I just vandalized the building. Or maybe I can come up with a less destructive method. Like graffiti-ing the bin or the car park, or putting up plywood poster boards around campus.
Documenting the work in a zine? DIY anti-establishment methods (IF PRINTING – DO TESTS EARLY)
Also connections to the YouTube – a screen? Business cards? A tablet so people can interact?