Re-Imagine Project by James Carter
Shredding original oil paintings? Creating a whole new artwork with epoxy resin? Selling NFT's? Writing a book? Donating money to the charity Team Trees?
How does all of this link into anything of one similarity?
This... is my final year project for my college course.
You can also read about the whole project here:
In my final year project, I was set the brief of “Re-Imagining” our town.
I didn't just want to just create a page of something and hand it in across a desk for this project, no. Anyone who knows me, will know that I just have to create something with a little more zing to it; I needed to create something that would make a real impact... so I chose to Re-Imagine our town by focusing on the environment.
I decided the best way I could do this was to create a series of oil paintings, depicting the same landscape over a period of time to show how it’s changed, as well as two variations for the future, one filled with plastic waste and pollution, and the other, a clean environment using clean energy.
At the end of the project, I will turn my artworks into NFTs, destroying the originals through a tree shredder, which will then be put up for sale (on an environmentally friendly blockchain platform), and the money gained will be donated to the charity Team Trees. With the remains of the artworks being put into epoxy resin to create a whole new piece of art.
A key importance of this project for me was that I wanted a way in which I could help individual people make a change to the environment, but at this stage, I had very little idea on how I could achieve such a thing.
I decided to use oil paints to create my artworks for this project, as many people see oil paints as being the ‘masters material of painting’ with many of the greatest artists in history using oil paints, I feel it will make a really great impact for the project and how people see it. Plus I just really love using oils.
I have, however, been developing my skills in digital art and I thought this project would be a perfect opportunity to really push those skills so I could learn how to use it a lot better. I used a Wacom tablet to create my development pieces in photoshop by creating digital sketches, and then enhancing them by creating them as digital oil paintings.
The health and safety of using oil paints is a little more complex than using media such as acrylic. Oil paints themselves are non-toxic (as long as you don't eat them), but when mixed with medium (which helps the drying time, and can improve the texture and application process to the canvas) can be.
When creating these oil paintings, I hit a few roadblocks along the way, such as having to learn how to paint a landscape.
I have never painted a landscape before this project, and so I knew I may hit a wall, so I devoted a lot of my time to learning how to paint a landscape, I watched as many videos on landscape painting as I could find, and watched every tutorial by my idol, Andrew Tischler. I also bought a wide range of books on how to paint a landscape.
I chose to paint these on A2 stretched canvases.
I feel that these paintings turned out really well, and I thoroughly enjoyed using oil paints to create these works, as I felt I could achieve very unique textures for the painting itself.
Taking high-quality photos of my artworks proved to be a learning curve, as I needed to learn how to take up-close images, and then stitch them together to create one high-quality image for each one.
Below, you can see photos of the paintings: unfortunately, the files were too large to upload the high detail images, so you can see the high-resolution ones here on my OpenSea Account
I will be destroying the originals of my paintings for this project, as I would like it to draw in a crowd for this one-time experience to be some of the only people who will ever see these works in person. I also plan of recording all of this as well so I can reach even more people that this may make an impact to.
I am going to destroy these works in the middle of the Town Centre as to draw in the community to experience this all together.
I have had a range of ideas on how I could destroy the works. At first, I thought I could burn them, but that would emit the fumes into the air and environment, and possibly cause health issues if people breathe in the fumes of burning oils and medium.
I also thought about exploding them, but that could go drastically wrong, it could go wrong in so many different ways, such as if someone is too close, and gets hit by shrapnel, so I could put it in a contained area, but that just wouldn’t be as entertaining to watch.
So I decided that I'll put them through a tree shredder, as it will be entertaining for people to watch, and once destroyed, I will put the remains into epoxy resin, to create a whole new artwork, this comes back around to show how we can recycle anything, and back into the idea of ‘re-imagining’.
Once destroyed, I will list the artworks for sale as NFT's on OpenSea.
What are NFT’s?
NFT’s are Non-Fungible Tokens, this basically means that they are unique, just like a unique piece of artwork, except it’s digital.
I am going to use this in my work by taking images of my oil paintings and then stitching the photos together to create high-resolution images, and then minting them as NFT’s. (Minting is where you change an image to an NFT by associating it with a unique number that travels with the artwork.)
Why do I Want to Use NFT’s?
I plan on using the destruction of my original artworks as an opportunity that will draw in the community to come and see them, as they will be the only people to ever see these works in person, (it's designed as an opportunity for people). I am also going to donate the earnings from the works to Team Trees (an environmental charity). There has also been a bad reputation around NFT’s, where they are helping to produce carbon emissions, (which they are), but I want to use this opportunity to promote an environmentally friendly platform.
The platform NFT’s trade on and the currency they are listed as make a huge impact to the project; the most popular currency that’s used to trade with is Ethereum, and the platform that’s most used is called OpenSea.
I don’t intend on using Ethereum, as it has very damaging properties to the environment (one digital transaction uses the computing power of 100 years of running a laptop, and that is then emitted into the environment, and is rather damaging.
As my project is very much about the environment, and saving it, I need to find an environmentally friendly currency that is traded on a used platform.
OpenSea can trade with Polygon, (Polygon is more than 84810x more energy-efficient than Ethereum). I would personally love to use a newly developed platform called Bubblehouse, which trades solely on Polygon, but unfortunately is in BETA mode at the moment.
So I will be going with using OpenSea’s Polygon servers.
After I uploaded them all, I realized that polygon servers don’t support auctions. So I did some research and found I can do it with WETH, so I had to delist all of them, and then relist them all on the WETH blockchain. This is a really bummer because it’s more reliant on ETH, but I kind of need to auction the artworks rather than have a set list price because that way TeamTrees can get more from it (hopefully).
Who Can Buy It?
Anyone who wants to. The works will be listed for auction, on the platform, and anyone can bid for them individually.
Writing A Book?
Seeing that my project is all about changing the environment for the better, I wanted to write a short book that will actually explain how individuals can make a change and play their part to help the environment and the world for generations to come.
I don’t plan on just making the final display of the works, and then people forget about it. I want to make this a lasting impact, and so I want to write a short book that will really explain to people what they can do, and how they can actually save some money by doing it.
I compiled a whole list of things that anyone can do that will help the environment, and then worked out the best practices for how people can also save some money by implementing them into their daily habits. Some are a little more out there, but others are as simple as not buying a plastic bag.
Getting permission to do my project had been more complex than I first envisioned. Pendle Council needed assurance from both In-Situ and NCC to cover my project, and that they take responsibility for the health and safety. I went back and forth with the head of the art department trying to get permission but was told approval would take up to one week as this had to go through both the health and safety team and the marketing department. Wanting to speed things up, I went to chat with them in person.
A very helpful lady in the marketing team put me in touch with the personnel I need to speak to. I then managed to meet with the head of health and safety, who looked over it all and gave me the full go ahead, so I was delighted permission had now been granted. It may have been obnoxious of me to go over a few heads, but I couldn’t just sit around and wait for other people to move my vision and project forward. Meeting directly with those who could help ensured I wasn’t stuck in a chain where my project could potentially fizzle out.
On the day of the event, I was really nervous about everything going wrong. But I got to go on BBC Radio Lancashire in the morning before the event to promote it a little bit, and after that, everything just went down so well.
We packed up the car with all the stuff I needed, such as the generator, the PA System and so on, then had the chipper dropped off by Jewsons at 11:30. I then got all the easels set up with the paintings, and started to get a bit of a crowd. I then had a great time talking to people, got the music system set up, and then started the livestream. https://youtu.be/NAkjxVWLOtU
Which lasted for 43 Minutes.
After a little while of setting it all up, I got onto the mic to explain a bit about what was happening, and what the project was doing.
From there, I spoke to loads more people about the art, the NFT’s and the project as a whole.
From there, I took down the paintings from display, and started deconstructing them with some help from my father, then got back on the microphone, (at this point I had gained a rather large crowd) and so I started talking about what I was doing, and then when I finished, I got some applause (which made me smile, as I wasn’t expecting it).
I then continued to get the chipper going and put the paintings through. They went through with such ease, and the chips that came out were so great, and everything went perfectly.
I am so thrilled with how it all went, and I really enjoyed myself while doing it.
You can see the main part of the event here https://youtu.be/2l777ZjP3c4
The resin part of my project was a little more straightforward. I decided that I wanted to have all of the shreds from the paintings put into epoxy resin of A2 size, and 20mm thick. I also want to have it illuminated, so I wanted to add in lights around the border of the resin so I got hold of some LED lights that I could use.
The resin, once dried, will create something of a sculpture that can be displayed with people being able to see it from any side.
I underestimated the resin part of this project a little bit. There was way more chips and shreds than I thought there would be, and they overflowed on the mould way too much, so I had to thin it out a little bit by removing some of the larger chunks of wood.
Once, I’d done this, everything fit a lot better, and I was able to get the resin.
I had kept the 7.5Kg of resin in a box in my studio for several weeks, where it gets really cold in the studio sometimes, so when I got the resin out the box and it was cloudy, my heart skipped a beat in shear panic, but after some research, I found it was just crystalised slightly because of how cold it got in the studio and just needed to be warmed up.
So I got a bit pot of water, and stuck on the stove with the bottles of resin inside, after about an hour, it was as clear as water and ready to use.
I then just had to quickly pop out to get a good bucket and stirrer to mix the resin up in, and I was good to go.
I set all of the shreds of the paintings out around the mould, with the glass on the bottom, and then used leak proof take around the edges to secure it, and the final touch was adding in the LED lights around the edge (which just makes it I recon).
And then I poured the resin. It’s taken a good week or so for the resin to dry to a point where I can remove it from the mould, and I was honestly a bit scared that the glass would have cracked, but it’s absolutely fine, so I just need to place the artwork into a stand that I’m making out of clear cast acrylic.
Re-Imagine Project Evaluation
At the start of this project, I was given the brief of “Re-Imagine”, which in short, means that I had to re imagine Nelson town.
I chose to focus of the environment as the main subject of my project, while also focusing on how people in Nelson can make a change to help the planet.
In order to do this, I came up with a range of different ideas, and I eventually chose to go with an idea I had of destroying original artworks, and using the remains to create something new (this would link into the idea of re imagining something, and would also look at how recycling works, so the artworks would have essentially been ‘recycled’ to create a new artwork.
After contemplating on this idea for a while, I decided that I needed to do something with a little more bang to it, so I decided that I wanted to explode the artworks.
I decided the best way I could make an impact was to create a series of oil paintings, depicting the same landscape over a period of time to show how it’s changed, as well as two variations for the future, one filled with plastic waste and pollution, and the other, a clean environment using renewable energy. I got the my reference image for this from a local archive, and then ‘Re-Imagined’ the landscape over a period of time, depicting the ways in which we have affected the landscape, and could affect it in the future.
The first painting is based on a time before we cultivated the land, the second is during the industrial revolution, the third is a future representation that shows a world filled with plastic if we don’t make a change to help the environment, and the fourth is a future representation of what the landscape would look like if we made use of more renewable energies.
Each of those paintings were painted in oil paints on an A2 canvas.
I really wanted a way of connecting traditional art to contemporary ideas, and so I decided the best way I could so that was to use the newest form of art within the market, which was NFT’s.
I did a whole load of research on NFT’s, and then decided that once the paintings were destroyed, I could list them for auction as NFT’s.
In order to do that, however, I would need to have high detailed resolution images of each painting and then upload them in high resolution ready for auction (this links into using photography within my project).
This is where I decided I could also promote the use of environmentally friend NFT’s, as they had gotten some bad reputation around harming the planet, (but only on certain blockchains), so I did my research, and decided to go with the polygon blockchain to sell my artworks on. But I ended up using the Ethereum blockchain, as polygon doesn’t support auctions.
I then decided that I still wasn’t doing enough to really make an impact, so I decided that I wanted to publish a book.
This book is titled “Time To Make The Change”, it is 136 pages long, and available on Amazon. The book outlines my project, and details the ways in which individuals can make a change to help the environment rather than having to rely on the big countries and companies. It also teaches people how they can save money while helping the environment as well. (This may not seem like it has much to do with my art course, but graphics is part of my course, and I learnt how to create a book cover, and its contents.)
I then also looked into the ways in which I could destroy the paintings, and the best idea was to use a tree chipper.
I wanted to do a live public performance of the destruction of the original paintings in the middle of the Nelson Town Centre. After some back and fourth with the college, they finally gave me permission to do the destruction with a tree chipper there. This was also livestreamed on YouTube.
The whole event went down without a hitch, and I am so pleased with how it all went. I was really nervous ding public speaking, but I was surprisingly comfortable when doing it.
With the profits gained from the sales of the NFT’s, I decided that I wanted to donate them to the charity #teamtrees.
With the remains of the original paintings, I wanted to create a whole new artwork using epoxy resin, with the chips from the paintings placed and solidified in the resin to create an actual displayable piece of art. This also went down really well, and took a good week to allow the resin to dry, but it looks amazing in my opinion.
Overall, I feel my project want really well, and I managed to make an impact on people, which was the biggest thing I wanted to achieve. I also managed to get some PR around my project with two local newspapers, and BBC Lancashire.