2008 HCS Analysis

Unpacking Section 1

In a recent revision of unpacking strategies for section 1 of the HSC paper we looked at a number of questions and attempted to assemble the requisites for addressing the question effectively.

Question 1a

Remember that the rubric for section 1 requires you to; “write in a concise and well reasoned way, present an informed point of view and use the plates and any other source material to inform your response”.

The page in question has two plates and two citations. To write concisely you need to avoid plate descriptive responses and answer the question directly. The essential skill here is enabling yourself to draw the correct inferences using only the source material.

a) How does the sculptor Ron Mueck represent his view of the world?

Key to understanding this was looking for the significant parts of the question. These were identified as the indicators how, sculptor, represent, view and world. We discussed what was meant by “how” and located that in everyday experience that could be related to by everyone. We discussed why the term ’sculptor’ was significant; in that it prepared you mentally to manage the material considerations of the question. This brought up issues of differences in practice between painters, photographers, sculptors, print makers, installation artists etc, and that Mueck as a sculptor would have different issues to deal with in the creation of his work as opposed to other material practitioners.

We discussed what was meant by the term ‘represent’ and how representation/representations  could differ. We discussed the term ‘view’ and looked at subjective and cultural contexts for this word and lastly discussed what was meant by ‘world’, from internal/psychological readings to empirical real-world views.

We then looked at the ways the artist (Mueck) represents his view of the world. Collectively this was broken up into the following;

Scale, stereotype, gesture, attention to detail and material usage.

The plates given in section 1a ( Ron Mueck, b. 1958, Australia. Boy, 1999. Mixed media including fiberglass and resin, 490 cm × 490 cm × 240 cm. Photographed on exhibition at the Venice Biennale, 2001 and Photograph of Ron Mueck making final adjustments to his work Two Women, 2005.) are similar to the ones shown below, but I have included other views of the same image to open out your reading of the plates.


These reference plates for Boy are located in two different spaces. Whilst they are similar to the image in the paper they give a better idea of the scale of the work. Whilst you should be able to extrapolate this from the citation, scale markers in the images (figures, architectural references etc) make that a fairly instantaneous process.

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It’s easier to see the attention to detail in the image above, although you were expected to infer that from the plate that shows Mueck making adjustments to the figures of the old women in the gallery space. Attention to detail is of two types here. The first being attention to detail in the sculpture themselves, the second is the ‘act of attention to detail’ depicted in the image showing Mueck making adjustments to the figures in the gallery space.


Question 1b

“Shilpa Gupta’s work Untitled, 2004 is an interactive installation. The audience selects images of the artist attired in seven different outfits striking poses and repeating actions. An electronic voice repeats statements that correspond to movements on the screen.

Explain the significance of Gupta’s choices to her art making practice”

The plate provided by the Board of Studies is still awaiting copyright clearance, so I have provided two images here (one of which is the image in question) that give the same information. A text accompanies the plates and references some of the voice recordings that accompany the video installation.

Plate 3

“Shilpa Gupta, b. 1976, India.
Untitled, 2004.
Sound extracts, colour still of video projection. Duration 8 minutes.”

An explanation by default, must show cause and effect. In this question you are asked to explain the significance of the artists choices to her art making practice. So essentially you have three parts to address.

  • The process of explanation
  • Significance of choices; What are these choices and how are they significant?
  • Art making practice; What is this and how do the artists choices impact on this practice?

Unpacking the question.

Let’s come back to the question and look for clues in the text of the question itself

in our discussion we found the following;

  • is an interactive installation
  • audience selects images
  • attired in seven different outfits
  • striking poses
  • repeating actions
  • electronic voice
  • repeats statements
  • correspond to movements on the screen

Next is the plate itself; the main visual cues (clues) here being;

  • the mouse on a flat surface with cable going into the container the mouse is sitting on (no inference drawn just yet)
  • images on a flat vertical surface
  • text on a flat horizontal surface
  1. The notion of it being an interactive installation implied the following;
  • interactivity had to be planned at the outset as it determines a number of aspects of the installative environment.
  • interactivity engages the viewer actively and not passively with the work.
  • it implies that the viewer is either in control of or being controlled by aspects of the interactive nature of the installation.
  • it implies the provision of means (sound devices, projection devices, control devices and software, connectivity for these devices) by which the interactive nature of the installation is realized and sustained. 
  • the installative nature of the piece implies a number of components being assembled or organized in the exhibition space to facilitate the work and that the artist is sensitive to the way these components work in the space.

     2. The notion that the audience selects images implied;

  • that the audience had prior awareness that this could be done and understood the means to do this. (and / or)
  • that the audience was left to their own devices to discover the connection between moving the mouse and events on the screen
  • that the audience was able to decode the environment i.e., know what a mouse is, know how to use it, understand that the flat surface acted as a mouse pad, understand that it was connected to a processing unit of some kind.

     3. That the projected figures were depicted as attired in seven different outfits implied;

  • that the artist understood the nature of her audience and used this device to connect with them in the broadest sense possible
  • that she targeted particular aspects of her audiences understanding of certain issues
  • that she wanted to force or reinforce certain associations
  • that she targeted particular notions of gender

     4. That the projected figures were striking poses indicated;

  • that the artist intended that the audience be involved in decoding / interpreting the poses.
  • that the artist believed the audience could and would interpret the poses
  • that the artist believed that certain poses would convey certain messages
  • that the artist understood the universal nature of some of the poses

     5. That the projected figures were repeating poses indicated;

  • that the artist used this device purposefully
  • the artist understood the impact of visual and verbal repetition
  • the artist may have been referencing outdated cultural mores and attitudes that are recycled from generation to generation.

to be continued..

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