A unique opportunity…
Gillian Wearing is making a new piece of work ‘Your Views’. She’s looking for people to contribute 30 second clips of the view from their window and it’s an open submission project.
“Be part of a unique, global, collective filmmaking experience with the artist Gillian Wearing. We want to capture a snapshot of views from people’s homes all over the world and this can only be done with your help.”
You can see how to film the clip and then submit it through the website above. You can just use your phone or a camera. It doesn’t have to take long to do, and versions of the film will be shown in certain galleries across the UK and abroad and also on Channel 4 (who have commissioned the film). If your clip is included you will receive a short trailer version of the film that includes your clip.
I found it quite an inspiring thing to do because having such strict guidelines focuses the mind and allows you to just look very closely at what’s right there, in front of you, in a different way. It could make a really good starting point for sketchbook work and short film projects of your own.
I asked Gillian some questions about her work in general and Your Views.
LO: What motivates you to make work?
GW: Ideas, and I tend to get more ideas the more busy I am. If I have time and try to think the ideas somehow elude me.
LO: What would you say your work is about, in essence?
GW: It is all a form of portraiture. Even the views are portraits of a moment in time in someone’s life.
LO: Which of your work do you consider to be your best piece, in that it has got closest to what you are trying to do in your work, and excites you?
GW: I really couldn’t say, from the idea to the realisation of a work always changes some of the initial concepts and ideas. Which I feel is a good thing, because if you just create something that is exactly like you have in your head then nothing has evolved and art is better when it can give you surprises back.
LO: Who or what inspires you?
GW: I really like reading, even if I am not reading something relevant to what I may be working on I am more creative during and after reading.
LO: I see a lot of dislocation in your work, people are mute in photographs but speak in written signs which highlights the lack of sound, others in video, have different peoples voices and words coming out of their mouths, yet others take on different faces in the form of masks including you. There’s a sense of the people in your work hiding, being afraid/ashamed to be open about who they really are, but you offer them roundabout ways to reveal themselves. It seems to be a recurring theme. You are trying to dig deeper than the surface and I wonder what are you looking for?
GW: I am looking for certain truths.Some of my work offers structures that allow people to have the freedom to speak without being recognised. The setting to a certain degree is artificial, the studio, a mask, a structure, that is all plain to see. But as the person speaking has a greater freedom than in their daily lives to speak of how they feel, the masks and the setting all become more alive and real. No one is completely open about everything in their day to day life, and when someone can be anonymous they can speak of things that they never get the chance or opportunity to speak of through fear of how it will impact on them. As Oscar Wilde wrote “man is least himself when he talks in person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth”
LO: Do you still apply for things and get rejected? I remember reading somewhere that Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes always had at least 80 pieces of work out with publishers at anyone time, so even when the rejections came through thick and fast there were still plenty of other possibles in the pipe line. (It always makes me feel better to know that). Plath said ‘I love my rejection slips. They show me I try”
GW: I don’t apply for that many things now, but yes still get rejected at times. I think our failures teach us something and our rejections should make us more determined.
LO: Do you work on more than one project at a time?
GW: I do but not lots of things and I will go for weeks just working on one thing.
LO: When you are making work do you consider the viewer’s perception of the work?
GW: When I am actually making the work I am always thinking how will this translate. Sometimes you can never know. I don’t think of a viewer per se as I know from experience that there is no typical viewer, and so many people watch things with different perspectives.
LO: Where did the idea for ‘Your Views’ come from?
GW: I had been thinking of the window as a cinema screen, and wanting to create something that could literally encompass the world. Now that’s a big ask I know.
LO: The administration side of this project on it’s own sounds complex, with each contributor receiving a trailer including their clip. How many people are involved in the project?
GW: Quite a lot so far and yes the trailers take some time in sorting out, but I think it is important to give something in return for people who have generously participated in the project by filming a view.
LO: Do you have a vision of the outcome at this stage? Much artwork only reveals itself as you are making it, have you had any surprises so far in terms of how the piece is coming together?
GW: The edits won’t be themed or have any logical order. But I like it to feel like each curtain, blind or shutter holds a surprise. On the curtains etc, will be the name of the location. So you have a momentary sense of the place, not that the view will have the visual you might imagine.
LO: The lack of visible and audible human presence is slightly eerie, also the sense of ‘revealing’, the 10 seconds of anticipation, of waiting for what will be revealed will make up a significant part of the film, perhaps a quarter of it and this echoes traditional film making and story telling. Does the film have a theme or plan, a definite beginning and end, or will the film be made up of different clips in different venues or is it always the same film?
GW: I have shown short films on Channel 4, and I will show a longer form film as well as some longer short films. It is of course very adaptable.
LO: Do you hope to reveal a wider truth, of humanity, and an insight into how what we see out of our windows makes us what we are?
GW: The idea is to have a snapshot of the world now. So within that you get humanity and you get everyday life, framed by a window. The window is the second lens.
LO: Do you think that the view from your window can have an impact on your views on life and your politics? Is that interpretation of ‘Your Views’ intended in the title?
GW: I was playing with that title as if of someone expressing a view. Especially as a lot of my work is about peoples’ views. I think when you move into a property a view seems very important but over time living with that same view it becomes something we take for granted and notice less.
LO: Why do you think people are/ will be motivated to contribute?
I hope because the idea interests them and they would like to be part of this great experiment. I have been so far fortunate to have had so many people send really thoughtful and fantastic views. You would think because of the window restricts that it would be a mechanical and not very creative thing to film, but it is the waiting for the moment, the light, whether there is going to be people or animals in the shot can change everything. I have an old photograph that I shot when I was 17 which was a view from my window, I used to think I had an interesting view from the window, there was a motorway, horses, a train line, blocks of flats. But the camera was so bad and my composition was such that I didn’t get what I can remember of the view. I wish I had been a bit more thoughtful about it really.