Here you will find research (primary and secondary), words of analysis and reflection, transcriptions of conversations with artists about my work, and a discussion as to why I have presented Works in Process in its chosen form.
Digital replicates of my notebooks from February – August 2018. They show my mind at work and create a visual timeline that has a clear influence on the WIP collections. Through the analysis of my practice and attempt to understand why I make certain artistic choices, this project has become a sort of self-portrait, so treat these notebook studies as a form of personal research, aiming to understand the pattern of my work and thought process at a deeper level than I have looked to before.
WHAT IS WORKS IN PROCESS
Works in Process is the first of many collections of objects that visualise the possibilities of materials, objects, and narrative, through process heavy solutions. Charlie's first collection is comprised of twenty-nine objects that explore these possibilities through sub-collections of Still Life, Conceptualisation, Lighting and Furniture.
Envisioning Works in Process as more than a stand-alone project, I wanted to create a brand and a platform from which I can produce and showcase any future works in process. The name is fluid (Furniture, Experiments, Flaws, Materials, Ideas) in Process. My plan is to release certain projects or collections onto this platform, as well as showing them on my own website. However, using this space as more of a specific ‘studio’ of chosen works that align with the Works in Process Manifesto. Taking this project a step further is important for me. Creating a platform to release consistent, related works will hopefully help when trying to get commissions or producing one-off furnishings. A space my audience and clientele to see certain updates that align with my social media will also help me present the progression of my practice.
The nature of my work seems to have stemmed from the satisfaction of exploring my ideas through tangible processes. Since stepping back and analysing my work, I've formed an opinion as to why I make certain artistic decisions; because they aren't by accident. My practice intrigues me, and what's more, I'm now starting to understand what it means and where it currently sits in the wider world. The listed artists/designers are people whom I admire, forming a bracket in which, to some degree, I see myself and my work belonging.
Each designer/artist influences me differently, however, their individual use of materials, form, narrative and conceptualisation has taught me to be expressive with the forms I create and the materials I use. You can see how every artist/designer has used a similar style when directing the photos of their objects. Embracing the form of each object, whether they seem finished, unfinished, rough or neat – is a step which I took in this project. Instead of seeing my works as finished objects, I would subconsciously move onto the next thing, photographing them in areas that echoed ‘work in progress’ and moving on. Now I realise that the tone of voice that comes with a clinical space is important when framing my work as finished pieces of a larger ongoing body of work. (Hover over names for links)
A CHAT WITH ALDO BAKKER
Aldo is an artist and designer who produces objects of beauty. Recently I turned up at Aldo Bakker's studio in Amsterdam. He kindly let me in, where we exchanged words for a while. This is part of the transcript from part of our conversation.
Aldo “Your work is very conceptual – would you agree?”
Charlie “Yes, I guess some of it is.”
Aldo “Concepts are visualisations of our subconscious - and once we leave the object in a shop or gallery, we are no longer there to explain the concept. It has to stand on its own. That’s why sometimes we need to step aside from the concept and ask ourselves - Is it finished? Are the materials working together? Am I happy? Does it make me happy?.”
Aldo “If something makes you happy it has succeeded.”
A CHAT WITH WESLEY GOATLEY
Wesley Goatley is an artist and digital media theorist, recently we spoke about my Works in Progress and this is the transcript from our conversation.
Wesley “Normally in a lot of forms of fine arts practice, an object, especially a sculptural object, can be seen from a number of positions. But, traditionally, you only present one - and its meant to be the authoritative position, because there's a lot about authority, artist authority, intention.
But what I like and I’m reading some elements of what we’ve spoken about before, about understanding a bit about where you’re at in terms of your relationship towards your practice, in that, you’re still kind of thinking about what these things mean. The meaning, from what you’ve said, doesn’t seem fixed to you - in that you originally weren’t thinking of these in a fine arts context, and maybe you’re still not, but the easiest way I’ve found to read them is in that context. I think they also work as designed objects in the exact same way. But what's interesting about these two images for example (“I was saving that”) - the left one, its self-stabilising, it’s a view of the object just as the object. In a sense, as much as we can say we can get a view of an object as just the object because it's all about framing as well. But then this one, the leaning of the legs, and the hand, and the direction - is so, umm, intentional. It feels like you’re implicating so much. This one (Fungus for Lunch), it's like the open box can feel like there's human action, whereas the closed box, can feel like things could have just fallen on top of each other. But the open box feels very intentionally human intervened.
This one again, clear human intervention. Clear human on one, and form in the other and then a human intervention. Stacking up like this, again this feels like less of a human intervention and that one does feel intentional.
Ditto – an unstructured thing, and something that's been formed very clearly into an object, but it's like they’ve flipped spaces, from the object as it is, to the object with an intervention on it. The closed latch and the open latch feels like it's been particularly intervened upon, and this one could not be.
This one really intrigues me (Sheet Metal), I think this one is the most compelling one in thinking about them as just offering two different views on an object, and what it means to be offering two different views on an object, because then you’re like, authorship is working in a different way. Instead of you saying no it's fucking this, this is my vision, it's that – you’re offing the fact that what you’ve made is interpretative, and in some sense is conceptual, in many senses, arguably is conceptual, unless you only see it as form, in which case it's not. But when you’re looking at form in these two different ways, you’re presenting two totally different methods of understanding the subject. It's not just two different views on the subject but is two different views on the object. They represent different ideas.
I think that if you don’t come from an arts background, which I don’t either, umm, I feel like there’s an inbuilt opposition to sort of like, being an art wanker. Of just being like ‘stop fucking trying to read too much into it’ - or ‘no it doesn’t fucking mean anything, it's just a thing’.
There is something in culture, that is in culture, particularly in a lot of the working class culture in this country, that is really just like ‘no its all nonsense its just pretentious’ or whatever - Pretentious is just a word used by people who don’t know what they’re looking at, they go ‘oh that just pretentious’ - well you just go, well that just means you don’t understand it. But in these instances I think that there really is something, you know, your intention is so clearly present in the object, that there must be something quite deep in you, that you might not have accessed yet, or a form of understanding about these objects that you maybe haven’t reached to in your practice in terms of self-interrogation that there is something else that seems to be operating on you when you seem to arrange these images, that I haven’t yet heard you really talk about, and I think that when we started talking about it, you were unsure, and you’re talking hesitantly about it now, but there does seem to be some growth - it feels like from the first time we spoke about it, to now, you’re articulating slightly different things already. And I would really encourage you to continue on this route of figuring out why have you made these decisions? Like why did your hands go here and not here? Because that's not an accident, you know, that's all your intention, and a lot of that in these sort of forms of practices is totally subconscious. And its basically like doing psychotherapy, unfortunately, to try and interrogate what you’re doing.
There’s an artist, John Cage, who was interested in how far you could remove the author's hand. There’s an art piece where he used the method of dividation - (tarot-like), to generate a way of producing art that removed the artist's hand. But he realised that he couldn’t space the movement of the brush, even with these tarot-like methods of divination.
John Cage was always trying to interrogate the boundaries, but he always knew he was there, he was really saying, ‘I’m still here, in this, but I’m thinking about how much am I not here’ which I think is a really interesting question. But also think, of the other side of the question, how much am I here, when you don’t see how much you’re there, is also really interesting. And I sort of think you need to do the second one before the first one, figure out less naively how you’re invested in the work, and where your intentions lie, the way your hand is, and why your hand is doing what it does before you can extract away from it. I’m not sure that you don’t seem interested in extracting away from it though. Seems to be that all your work involves your hand in some way, like, really expressively.”
Charlie “Well I think a lot of the stuff I do involves process, and I enjoy process, mostly because it gives me something as well, enjoying this process, and that's why. I don’t know, I don’t know.”
Wesley “It's a good question to be asking though. I don’t know, I had to reflect upon my practice for ten years before I figured it out, or before I started to figure it out properly. I would urge you to stay inquisitive about why you're doing shit.
The view that you take from this (the publication) is different to the view I take from this. Not just the physical view, but the conceptual view. What my understanding of what this is, is utterly different to yours, and will be utterly different to yous (looks at Natasha), and utterly different since - you know, so… in a sense you freeze things when you do this. But then there is never any way you can close that down and allow anyone to take one thing.
Immanuel Kant’s idea between the phenomenal world and the noumenal world - so the phenomenal world is the world as we perceive it, so like the form of the bottle (I’m perceiving it) - but its always filtered through our perception. So I can't see inside this bottle, and I can't see what at the back until I turn it around, at which time it's changed in time and space. So its not this anymore (turns the bottle around), its now this and I don’t have access to the front. And he refers this to the phenomenal world. And there’s the noumenal world, which is the thing in its self (dang and zich?), which is the bottle as it is as a thing external to our perception, but we can even confirm if the bottle is a thing external to our perception because we only understand everything through our perception, so in which case there's this notion of phenomenal and nominal world that he talks about, that is an interesting other thing, that is there another object that is another version of an object? Do any of these things exist? Is there a notion of Sydney that is outside any of our perceptions of Sydney? We can't confirm that, I’m sorry.”
The book has given me a chance to really look at my practice from the perspective of a third person, and the website platform will hopefully allow me to operate a space that continues this critical design approach.
Mostly, throughout this project, I have learnt about myself. As an analytical piece, I've dug into who I am as a designer and challenged why I make specific choices and assign certain actions when crafting works and to top it off, I've become conscious of much feedback that before I had ignored. My main problem was transgressing from one project to the next, without taking time to reflect on what I had made, or what impact it was having on me or the intended audience – sometimes not even thinking about the audience. In making a conscious decision to step back and ask myself these questions, I have built a lexicon of knowledge about myself and practice, while really beginning to analyse, frame and value my work for what and where it is.
I can confidently say that my evolution as a designer is moving in what feels like the right direction, and although these last few months have sped by, and I wish I could have done more, I'm fairly happy with how this project has turned out. One thing which I would love to revisit is the publication! I was a bit unlucky with paper stock, which meant the colour didn't take to the paper as well, so had to sacrifice my designs to the dreaded self-service printers which aren't nearly as good quality as the Xerox. When revisiting the printing side of things, I will also look at the paper stock – I had chosen the stock I wanted and ordered it from GF Smith, but I would have loved to used photographic paper for the images, and looking back now, a thicker white paper for the text pages would have worked a lot better in combination with the image pages. But these are aesthetic worries, and although that is important, what is more, important is how people might interact with this work.
When thinking about how this project succeeds in terms of interaction design, I see the main avenue being the materiality of the objects. I see interaction design as something that can satisfy the user, creator, or observer. The interaction could be self-inflicted, in which case, the project would satisfy the creator in some form. In the search for how this project is in any way an ‘interaction design’, I began to think about how else people may interact with it. In creating a platform where I can produce ongoing and one-off works in process, I’m broadening the meaning of the project, showcasing the work in a virtual form.
Even when creating the performance chair, I was unconsciously thinking about the user and how they might interact with the platform. As process is key to my practice and plays a huge role in this project, I wanted to give my audience a closer look at how process is so incremental to my practice. In a sense, the performance chair was a way of seeing how my mind works.
The book has given me a chance to really look at my practice from the perspective of a third person, which was a literal choice that you can see in the written parts of the book. I'm very happy with every object that I included in the collection, it was tough deliberating what would go in and what would not, but overall I was able to express myself this year and build whatever I liked. It proves to me that the choices I've made over the past few years have really made an impact. I'm not here to mess around, I work my arse off and I have a vision, and IDA has allowed me to refine my craft while opening up whole new pathways that I will hopefully use in the future.
Casting and mold making is something that I will undoubtedly learn in the near future. It would have been helpful to learn these processes in my final year, in order to bring to life some ideas that at the moment seem out of reach (in a technical sense). One idea is to cast spring chair legs, out of solid metal, resembling that of a flexible spring – see here https://www.charlieboyden.xyz/high-risk. But that said, I appreciate these times and knowing that I'm still exploring the materiality and purpose of existing objects, I feel this exploration of craft will come at another point in time.
The designers/artists whom I've displayed in my research are not entirely representative of my work, in that my approach is still very experimental, however, these are people that truly inspire me. Yes, there are the classic heroes of mine, Gaetano Pesce and Marcel Breuer, but at this point in time, I see the designers/artists shown above, as a solid foundation in my directional growth as a designer.
In search of a job and interest in the city, I visited Rotterdam. This was a compelling experience where I spent almost every waking, working hour visiting studios (mostly who didn't know I was coming). It was an intense week but it taught me a lot about what I want and more importantly, what I don't want. Meeting my design idols wasn't all that great. Expecting studios full of creativity and hands-on making was not what I saw – maybe I simply don't understand enough about the industry, or maybe their fame had brought them to a place of stillness, stuck behind a screen designing the next 'Richard Hutten', because that's 'all they want'. Either way, the trip taught me that maybe instead of flying under someone else's wing for a while, I should try and take flight myself. This is where the progression of the project, into more of a studio, is going to be interesting. Using my name as a brand is fine, it's the route that most designers take, but I see something in Works in Process. As a name, it touches something in the core of my work, the process! Having always valued the process of anything from typesetting in the letterpress studios, to leaving the ends on used cable ties, because it says something, I see Works in Process as the natural progression of my practice.