Archives for posts with tag: process

I am continuing to look at research showing it may be possible that humans retain some residual magnetoreceptor in our eyes that once allowed us to navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field. We know animals and birds have this ability and current studies suggest that some people do indeed perceive magnetic fields, albeit unconsciously.

I dropped some iron filings into a little water which evaporated leaving a pleasing deposit. I wanted to see if the filings lose their magnetism once oxidized and how the rusted filings would sit on the iris image.

I was invited by Luci Eldridge and Ian Dawson to present a talk and run a Cloud Chamber Workshop as part of the Images In The Making series, a Communities of Practice cross-years project at Winchester School of Art.

Images in the Making considers images in an expanded sense in terms of process, materiality, interaction, exploring how artworks evolve and come into being.

Images – be they human or machine – are entities that are made. They are drawn, sculpted, painted, mapped out, captured, rendered, visualised, spliced, amalgamated. Images in the Making considers images in the broadest sense, exploring them as fluid, dynamic entities that emerge and transform through making, unmaking, and remaking. Process is at the core of this project and we will think about ‘imaging’ as an unfolding activity, investigating how artworks change as they are made and circulated.

Writing the presentation allowed me to revisit and consider how I use process in a practice broadly to do with visualising the unseen.

As my starting point is often an unseen or maybe even an imagined object this might mean visualising a close approximation of something to open up the imagination to phenomena that is beyond our capability to visualise. This would include things like dark matter, higher dimensions in spacetime, or the aura of an object. Or it may be using technology to make visible something otherwise outside the limitations of our senses. Or a conflation of real and imagined such as seeing a galaxy in a frozen puddle.

In Patrick Harpur’s book The Philosophers’ Secret Fire – A History of the Imagination he talks about those inbetween spaces where things are not quite ‘there’ and not quite ‘not there’ which I think is an interesting space to look at when trying to bring the unseen out of the shadows. The book relates how myths have long been used to make sense of the world. For most of our evolution humans have believed in an otherworld of spirits – a metaphysical realm governed by archetypes. Daimons are given context in the book as elusive, contradictory, both material and immaterial concepts that still reside in our culture but are now so far removed from their personified shapes that we fail to recognise them.

All human experience is an edited account of full reality as neuroscientist Anil Seth tells us

“You’re locked inside a bony skull trying to figure what’s out there in the world. There’s no light inside the skull, there’s no sound either, all you’ve got to go on are streams of electrical impulses which are only indirectly related to things in the world, whatever they may be. Perception, figuring out what’s there has to be a process of informed guesswork”

 and then tangled with our reality according to Harpur

“…daimons inhabit another, often subterranean world which fleetingly interacts with ours. They are both material and immaterial, both there and not-there – often small, always elusive shape-shifters whose world is characterized by distortions of time and space and, above all, by an intrinsic uncertainty.

– the subatomic realm, like the unconscious, is where the daimons took refuge once they were outcast from their natural habitat.”

A few years ago when I was visiting and photographing streets and roads called Paradise trying to capture the aura of such a place I stopped to wonder what everything was made of. Did I need to look closer to find hidden patterns or clues in the everyday which might point to something sublime. This is when I turned to particle physics. I found the language to be quite like that of mythology, full of mysterious characters; the quarks, the muons, neutrinos. Characters governed by fundamental forces like the strong force and the weak force that are defined by their characteristics, just like the mythical gods. I also found the theories of particle physics to be as fantastical as the ancient tales where the laws of classical physics do not apply. I was amazed at the time to discover that most of the universe is hidden from us as mysterious dark matter and dark energy. 

To provide a relevant backdrop for the online presentation I set my dodecahedron sculpture Diazôgraphô by the window to light up the images of cosmic particle trails within. The dodecahedron is used here as a motif for the universe. The title translates from Greek as ‘to embroider’. Plato described the dodecahedron as ‘a fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven.’

The cloud chamber workshop gave students a chance to experience the otherworld of subatomic particles. Dark matter might be inaccessible to us but cosmic particles offer a more tangible contact  – although too small to see we can witness their effects through quite simple processes. In the chamber we see trails from naturally occurring background radiation as well as particles from outer space.

Out of the Studio

Not Painting at Copperfield

Inspired work by Nicola Ellis from Dead Powder series (first pic) in a show hitting the zeitgeist of rethink, repurpose the materials around us. Some beautiful and thoughtful work here much of which will confound you as to its material origins.

Darkness At Noon: Nigredo of a Pandemic at APT curated by Ruth Calland for Contemporary British Painting

Great to see some of Sarah Sparkes exquisite ghost painting series along with Chantal Powell’s alchemical totems and other works from 27 artists.

Alchemy is all about transformation from one state to another, the pursuit of a deeper truth as precious treasure. Alchemists were engaged in the Middle Ages with a physical process, trying to turn base materials into gold through a series of chemical processes, a metaphor for the transformation of the soul. There had to be a Nigredo, a dark night of the soul in order to purify it. Death and decay, destruction of the old to make way for the new, are both real and symbolic in these precarious times of ours. 

Bosco Sodi Totality at König London presents a grounded solar system we are able to walk amongst, surveying the raw materials of our creation. Heat, minerals and time. Very satisfying.

Tacita Dean – The Dante Project at Frith Street Gallery, Golden Square

Hell made heavenly in silvery surfaces, paradise emerges glimmering from the streets of LA.

Magical otherworlds. These stunning backdrops were created for the ballet based on Dante Alighieri’s 1320 narrative poem The Divine Comedy choreographed by Wayne McGregor at The Royal Opera House but can also transport you in their own right. I was lucky to also see them on stage. The sets progress from the monochrome backdrop of Inferno, through the luminous transitional state of Purgatorio into a circling colourfields of Paradiso.

The large-scale photographs printed as negatives are of Jacaranda Trees which bloom in hot climates when the entire foliage turns into purple blossoms. In negative the purple becomes an otherworldly green and the background streetscape is muted with white pencil. The monochrome photogravures of an inverted mountainous terrain in negative using silver ink reference Botticelli’s drawings which signify Dante and Virgil’s descent through the nine circles of hell.

Tacita Dean Monet Hates Me at Frith Street Gallery, Soho Square

The importance of objective chance as a tool of research used as the basis to craft 50 objects inspired by the random choice of a box of artefacts at The Getty Research Centre, Los Angeles. The objects pertaining to ‘an exhibition in a box’ include ‘the forged signature of Christian Dotremont, a long-dead Belgian surrealist, on a postcard; a letterpress copy of Piet Mondrian’s carte de visite, hand-corrected by Dean to match a pencilled correction on the original; Fluxus artist George Brecht’s Stamp Out Stamping stamped on vintage index cards; a vinyl record of Dean reading a montage of text fragments collated from her working photocopies; and ‘a foot of feet’ – a foot-long strip of film made of sixteen frames of found images of feet. Object 1, is a small book which also acts as the key to the provenance and manufacture of the other 49 objects.’

The enigmatic painting I love Lord Pannick sits outside the viewing area for Pan Amicus, filmed in 16mm on the Getty Estate but transporting the viewer to a golden classical Arcadia littered with Greek and Roman objects and imbued with the spirit of Pan “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908).

Mixing It Up; Painting Today an exhibition of painting at the Hayward Gallery.

Charmaine Watkiss showing with Tiwani Contemporary at Cromwell Place.

Meet The Seed Keepers in Charmaine’s magical collection of works on paper. Powerful images brought to life with a luminous delicacy full of hidden symbolism waiting to be discovered.

Researching the medicinal and psychical capabilities of plants, Watkiss has personified a matrilineal pantheon of plant warriors safeguarding and facilitating cross-generational knowledge and empowerment.

Relationships. The discovery of gravitational waves was the inspiration for some recent etchings. Trying the same image in softground on steel and hardground on zinc.

As I understand it gravity is the result of a relationship between the bending of space time and mass. The recording of these waves pulsing for the briefest flash of time when  two black holes collided and merged into one has excited scientists. This merging of two black holes was such a massive event that it caused ripples in the fabric of space time to spread out across the universe. 1604 two black holes

I was first introduced to the idea of beauty in mathematics and the extraordinary collaboration  of Cambridge professor G.H. Hardy with Srinivasa Ramanujan, a self-taught mathematician from India by the Complicite production A Disappearing Number.

1603 a disappearing number

Raymond Flood’s Gresham College lecture on the value of collaboration between these mathematicians along with J.E. Littlewood and Mary Cartwright gave further insight to their relationship and the advances they made in mathematical analysis and number theory. What interested me was Littlewood’s summation of four distinguishable phases  in creative work: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification or working out. Preparation is the conscious research and the problem should be kept in mind at all times. Incubation is the work of the subconscious and the waiting time can be several years. Illumination can happen in a fraction of a second; it is the emergence of the creative idea into the conscious mind and implies a mysterious rapport between the subconscious and the conscious. The verification is then just a matter of realising the idea, the hard work has been done. I feel this.

My etching ‘Forest of Eden’ was selected for ‘Blind Plural’ at Hundred Years Gallery. The exhibition ‘comments on or plays with issues related to the nature of hostility, its forms and representation…’

1409 Forest of Eden

Susan Eyre Forest of Eden

In history the wild man’s characteristics reflect topical fears and aspirations, violating the taboos of civilization and symbolizing the repressed desires of society; they oscillate between horror and fantasy. I wondered who a contemporary wild man might be. Someone on the edges of society, both fascinating and repulsive. I had come across images on the internet of this person who posts photos of himself posing almost naked with guns strapped to his body. An internet meme shared with equal disgust and fascination – I placed him back in the forest of all our origins.

Jane Boyer raised some interesting questions about self awareness with her solo show A project space called I at ARTHOUSE1. An exhibition of the I-artist curated by the I-curator.

1604 Jane Boyer enigma

Jane Boyer enigma wall

My own mind struggles. How can I separate myself as artist and myself as curator with regards to my own work. 1604 Jane Boyer Minerva

Surely I want the same things in both those roles. I start by thinking I can see how this works if I separate myself as chef and artist. Looking at different roles I play and how I react to people from these different perspectives. A bit like cross curriculum activities, but within myself. I think I’m going to need a chat with Jane about this sometime.

 

 

Alongside this I have been reading Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli whose final lesson Ourselves tells me that I am a process which adheres to the laws of nature. There is not an ‘I’ and ‘the neurons in my brain’. They are the same thing. My unique sense of self is the rich culmination of billions of interactions and processes within my brain that reflect my personal history of experience. So with this in mind the works in the solo show are the markers, the process made manifest and as Jane presents; an autobiographical curation of a self.

Denise Gough playing Emma in the play People, Places and Things makes a plaintive cry to the world at large – why is it that she can’t cope with reality, why is it that she is overwhelmed by the unjust nature of the world and must resort to mind altering chemicals as a means of escape when everyone else seems just fine with it. The audience joins her in a spiral of despair.  Denise Gough’s performance is extraordinary and totally captivating, how she can put herself through such emotion every night is another question this play raises about how we separate ourselves from reality. The clinical rehab set protrudes into the audience arena like a neuron connection within our collective brain.1601 People Places and ThingsThe play is a visceral interrogation of self and relationships. The cause and effect of actions between mind and body. Self destruction and self renewal.

1601 Denise Gough

People, Places and Things

When Emma finally emerges from months of tortuous self analysis to face the world alone she is advised that to maintain her freedom from addiction she must avoid anything that might trigger associations with her past life causing her to relapse – she must avoid people, places and things.

1604 Govt collection

As part of London Open House weekend I visited the Government Art collection on a guided tour and behind-the-scenes look at how this major collection of British art operates. There was a lot of security and in most areas no photography. Our Government (us then) owns a collection of around 13,000 works of art mainly by British artists from the sixteenth century to the present day.  About 75 per cent of the collection is on display in British Government buildings in the UK and in Embassies and Residences around the world. The idea is to help promote British art. There is a meagre budget to purchase new work with most of the funding going to conservation, transportation and installation. A nice perk of being a civil servant is to have the choice of some great works for your office, for the rest of us they do offer a lunchtime tour of a small viewing gallery and the racks to see what’s been left in storage.

The raw space of the Bargehouse on the South Bank was a great setting for the meditative pieces of Kate Fahey. The degraded building echoing the degraded web images she appropriates into her work.

1601 Kate Fahey

Kate Fahey

Pulling the digital from the screen into the world of matter, she reverses the process of the viewers visual overload of images.

1604 Kate Fahey Possible-Object

Kate Fahey Possible Object

A hundred explosion images become one, one grainy image is cast solid in aluminium and a slow beat metronome stills us.

1604 Kate Fahey Counting-Uncounting

Kate Fahey counting/uncounting

We are in a war zone, in slow motion.

Bedwr Williams animated line drawings that made up the film Writ Stink at Limoncello showed the deconstruction of a man obsessed with hiding his secrets – turning on fellow creatures, suspicious of everyone he meets – maybe with good reason – life becomes a battle to preserve, to hide away and disengage.

1601 Bedr Williams

Surreal, comedic and tragic we are left wondering about the power of knowledge.