Gaining knowledge is a thread woven through my current thinking for my dissertation. From the first knowledge of conscious thought – that we are separate from nature, the temptation of the tree of knowledge and its consequences, to self knowledge through the grand Romantic quest and the furthering of knowledge to pass on to future generations.

Kadar Attia – Continuum of Repair: The Light of Jacob’s Ladder at Whitechapel Gallery was interesting to me because of the focus given to the value of knowledge.

Books as receptacles of history.

Kader Attia _ The Light of Jacob's Ladder

Kader Attia   The Light of Jacob’s Ladder

The shelves which rise up to the gallery ceiling are full of books with evocative titles and inspiring covers from science, anthropology, politics and physics – they are mostly in French though so for me the knowledge they contain is frustratingly inaccessible. Attia talks about repair as a principle of evolution and development – that we plug holes and fill gaps – holding it all together with sticky tape. I enjoyed seeing the physical manifestation of knowledge. The internet holds so much and offers so much so quickly but the material sight of so many books is uplifting.

Kader Attia

Kader Attia

The installation at Whitechapel is about conveying knowledge from different ideologies, it refers to Michel Foucault – The Archeology of Knowledge and uses the symbolism from Christian, Islamic and Judaic traditions of a ladder of light – a link between the terrestrial nad the celestial. Within the installation the telescope and the microscope embody two alternative ways of looking at the world.

Revelation through scale.

Simmons and McCollum 'The Actual Photos'

Simmons and McCollum ‘The Actual Photos’

This collection of portraits by Laurie Simmons and Allan McCollum manipulate scale through photography – enlarging the tiny to life size.

These melting features are portraits of model railroad figures used to add human presence to the constructed landscapes of the hobbyist.

Simmons and McCollum 'The Actual Photos'

Simmons and McCollum ‘The Actual Photos’

A land of the disfigured is revealed. Disrupting the symmetry and expectations of the human face.

Hannah Hoch also uses this approach of disruption of the human form to pose questions about our inner humanity – it’s amazing to think when she was making this work – the early work, particularly in the 1920’s how different the world was and yet how the same. Like the ever on-going topicality of Shakespeare – we struggle with the same issues in every generation – money/power, image, gender. It still seems so fresh though I found the volume of works at her Whitechapel  retrospective a bit overwhelming.

Hannah Hoch

Hannah Hoch

I joined the RCA school trip to see The Negligent Eye exhibition at The Bluecoat Gallery in Liverpool curated by our own RCA head of printmaking Jo Stockham

– she questions;  ‘scanning is riddled with an internal contradiction: is it a close reading or a glance?’

The artists in this show all use some form of scanning, experimenting with translations across digital media into various print processes

Maurice Carlin

Maurice Carlin

Endless Pageless is performance screen printing on a vast scale. The surface of the gallery floor is recorded though an analogue scan; the pressure of the screen over paper on the floor gradually building up the image in coded blocks.

Rebecca Gossling

Elizabeth Gossling

Gossling scans from a computer or tv screen with a hand held recording device which results in a distorted image that highlights the waves of transmission – like the image on the edge of tuning in to a channel, you are aware of the process.

A feeling reminiscent of having one of those little tellys with a bent wire ariel – not going to happen with a digital signal.

Christiane Baumgartner

Christiane Baumgartner

Also taken from the screen Baumgartner translates the media image from tiny pixels to giant woodcut

Juneau Projects

Juneau Projects

Hand held scanners traversing the lawn

Helen Chadwick

Helen Chadwick

viral attack

Bob Matthews

Bob Matthews

A reimagining of the landscape, Bob Matthews  explores architecture within the environment, painting by pixels

Jo Stockham

Jo Stockham

value, discarded and reborn

Jo Stockham

Jo Stockham

Some good thoughts on the show at
http://www.furtherfield.org/features/reviews/digital-autopsies-negligent-eye-bluecoat

The book ‘Keywords’ by Raymond Williams was recommended to me by my tutor Faisal Abdu’Allah when we were discussing the etymology of words and personal interpretations of paradise or utopia.

The guiding principle in the composition of Keywords was to look at historical changes in the meaning of 109 key words, in order to bring out the significance of the facts of these changes. As Williams put it in the book’s Introduction:

This is not a neutral review of meanings. It is an exploration of the vocabulary of a crucial area of social and cultural discussion, which has been inherited within precise historical and social conditions and which has to be made at once conscious and critical – subject to change as well as to continuity.

While in  Liverpool we visited the Keywords exhibition at the Tate. The idea offered really interesting possibilities, juxtaposing works from the Tate’s collection with keywords from the book.

Some good work but the strange display with blocks of carpet and the words in giant cursive script on the walls destroyed any magic the theme evoked.

Keywords Tate Liverpool

Keywords Tate Liverpool

Another school trip was to see the David Hockney prints at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

It wasn’t something I would have gone along to myself but I enjoyed the humour in his early etchings done while at the RCA and our technician Alan Smith was able to show off his knowledge of the etching process

David Hockney - A Rake's Progress

David Hockney – A Rake’s Progress

Some fragments of Rue de Paradis

1406 Rue de Paradis 1

Paradise – prison

1406 Rue de Paradis 2

or sanctuary

1406 Rue de Paradis 3

discover

1406 Rue de Paradis 4

a place of false riches

1406 Rue de Paradis 5

a place to be wary who you trust

1406 Rue de Paradis 6

like reaching for a reflection

1406 Rue de Paradis 7

always unattainable

1406 Rue de Paradis 8

While in Paris also had a look at the Unedited History of Iran exhibition at The Musee D’art Moderne

1406 Unedited History

 

Behdjat Sadr

Behdjat Sadr

Was captivated by the surreal images in the video installation of Parviz Kimiavi – a mixture of Oz and world pollution, will the good fairy come to save us all from drowning in our own filth

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

does the yellow brick road end here

Parviz Kimiavi

Parviz Kimiavi

‘Office of Investigation into Diverted Trajectories’ – the dead birds

Narmine Sadeg

Narmine Sadeg

This was poetic

Narmine Sadeg

Narmine Sadeg

Also while in Paris visited the vast installation at the Grand Palais” by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov.

We came across the exhibition by chance but it turned out to explore many of the themes I am currently interested in.

Ilya’s background is questioning the totalitarian regime of his childhood in soviet society – in the end he believes every -ism ends in disaster so there is no point in trying to build Utopia in reality – better to keep it in the realm of the art-world.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov  'Strange City'

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov
‘Strange City’

In exploring the maze of the city the viewer is exploring the dreams of individuals that are shared across all nations

'Stange City'

‘Strange City’

The installation is made up of many buildings. There is the empty museum reflecting a yearning towards the sacred as a shrine to our values.

There is the model mythical Tibetan city where the world is in duplicate – one celestial, one terrestrial but it is not known which is heaven and which is earth.

'Strange City'

‘Strange City’

There is the centre for cosmic energy built on an archaeological dig uncovering a time when contact was established with alien life.

'Strange City'

‘Strange City’

Instructions on how to meet an angel.

'Starnage City'

‘Strange City’

The artists are not religious but like many people still hope for miracles.

Axisweb ran a competition for curators to select work from their database for a theorectical exhibition.

It was a nice surprise to find Laura Dennis won the competition with one of my pieces included in her selection for her proposal ‘Synthetic Landscapes’

StrataGem(ii)

StrataGem(ii)

She writes: ‘In the screen print StrataGem(ii), Susan Eyre has created a mesmerising image of geological strata using items of plastic landfill. Shimmering, iridescent layers of waste packaging form the imagined rock structures and gemstones of a distant future. Despite its apparent beauty, the image is unsettling: it prompts us to contemplate the far-reaching impact of human activity upon the earth, and a legacy in which the man-made and natural worlds have become indistinguishable.’

My themes have shifted slightly since I made work with a more ecological slant. Still interested in the human connection to nature I have been looking at a more emotional relationship.

From my research into the stimulus for the first conscious thought, when man looked at nature and found it ‘other’ I have been thinking about basic instincts. The line between civilization and savagery.

I went back to an image I found on the internet a couple of years ago when I was making the installation ‘Syndrome’ of a guy in his room posing almost naked with guns and weapons strapped to his body.

I felt he might embody the contemporary wild man. I have gone back to the source of the image and found he has become a meme with many postings and comments.

This furthers the idea of identity and illusion. Someone on the edges of society.

Through a laborious process of drawing and soft-ground etching with aquatint I have placed him into the ancient forest of all our origins.

Forst drawing printed onto thin paper

Final drawing printed onto thin paper

I polished a steel plate and added the photo etching around which I would draw the forest.

Soft ground (a sort of wax) is rolled onto the plate and the paper drawing is placed on top.

The pressure of the pencil on the paper pushes into the wax beneath. I used coloured pencils to see where I had drawn.

Drawing into soft ground using coloured pencils

Drawing into soft ground using coloured pencils

After the dark areas are drawn over, the paper is peeled away, the wax sticks to the paper leaving the metal exposed for etching.

The plate is etched in acid, then placed back under the paper and drawing continues to add midtones.

Soft Ground Peel

Soft Ground Peel

The paper is peeled away and more drawing is done and etched until the range of tone is acheived

Peeling away paper from plate

Peeling away paper from plate

Between each drawing and etching the plate is printed to see how the tones are looking and which areas need more work.

A dusting of aquatint added a final depth of tone.

Test print

Test print

I wanted the forest to appear dark and primordial, the forest of Grimm brothers imaginination

Final print - Forest of Eden

Final print – Forest of Eden

Not the Garden of Eden but the land before, of after, the garden existed.

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