Archives for the month of: March, 2016

Back to etching. Have completed an intro/induction at Thames Barrier Print Studio so am now good to go with new work. 1603 aluminium plateTried aluminium in saline sulphate which gives a really deep etch. Used stop out and painting into hot hard ground. Was good to play around with new materials and get some tips from resident expert etcher Nick Richards. 1603 stop out

This primer from Wilkinsons is cheap and works well as a stop out solution. The etchings I had done before were all on steel with soft ground, I love the deep rich tones from steel but am trying a new piece of work on zinc with hard ground with should give me a more precise line.

1603 etching plate

 

 

 

This work is inspired by the idea of gravitational waves and grains of space which is one of the lessons in Carlo Rovelli’s book Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. It’s taking a while to cover the plate in the dots. I’m not sure when it’s all done if the wave pattern will disappear.

 

Michael Doser’s keynote paper Seeing Antimatter Disappear at the symposium Shadow Without Object  gave an insight into how the study of gravity acting on antimatter may help explain why it has disappeared. As a research physicist at CERN he is engaged is trying to discover why there is not the same amount of antimatter as matter in the universe and why what little there is remains clumped at the centre of our milky way galaxy. I asked him if antimatter was considered part of the 5% of the visible world of matter and I think he said that it was as it interacts with photons and fundamental forces.

1603 Michael Doser

Although gravity is the weakest of the fundamental forces its impact on the parabolic flight of anti-hydrogen atoms can be witnessed by using emulsion on a photographic plate which records the particle collision. Using photographic emulsion gives a far more accurate and sensitive result than any digital recording device could.

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He said some confounding things – that antimatter emits light exactly like normal matter so you can photograph it but you only see it when it annihilates. So we don’t actually see the antiprotons just the trace of the aftermath of their disappearance left in the photo emulsion on the plate. Working at quantum scales the collision of the proton into the emulsion is digitally scanned and a 3d image stacked up to reveal a starburst. The starburst is the locus of disappearance.

Cosmic rays coming from remote stars hit our atmosphere and produce showers of particles that plough through our bodies – these can be seen using cloud chambers which are detectors that track the particles. The unseen activity of the universe made visible. This is something I am hoping to see when we visit the underground laboratories at Boulby.

1603 cloud chamber particles.jpg

At the talk Are We Darkened by the Light? at Tate Modern architect Asif Khan had brought along a sample of the darkest material on earth – a Vertically Aligned Nano Tube Array. This material was made as a reference for noise images which aim to establish what black should be when looking at a camera chip to remove interference. This material is so black because it absorbs all the photons of light rather than bouncing some back to our eyes.

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I wonder if all the photons stay in this material when they are absorbed. Does it fill up with photons?  Does it get hot in there?  Planck’s constant states every hot object emits light, how does that fit in?

Also at Tate Modern was In/Visibility a work by Vinita Khanna that uses a polarising filter to conceal and reveal the colours in a copy of Gustav Klimt’s painting Portrait of Frau Adele Bloch Bauer.

1602  InVisibility

Vinita Khanna In/Visibility

Choosing an image that we are all familiar with, yet most of us have never seen the original, Vinita Khanna comments on the intangible nature of vision demonstrating the invisible made visible. Humans treat their vision as absolute, when in fact the bulk of our perceived reality is generated by our brains.

1603 Clare Muireann Murphy

Clare Muireann Murphy is a brilliant story teller. She was performing her new work Universe at The Crick Crack Club event upstairs at Soho Theatre. Colliding the science of the big bang (cracking of the cosmic egg) with mythical tales of a goddess tumbling from the skies into a watery world to be rescued by a fearless turtle who then gets turned into a magical lyre that plays the music of the cosmos passing from god to mortal. Clare creates a place of wonder and insight where time stretches and a fissure opens that builds a dream bridge between many worlds…

1601 Repetition Variation

Julian Page presented a group show at Clerkenwell Gallery with a strong sense of the material world. Layers, grids, clusters, networks and stacks – great pictures here:  Repetition Variation.  Having watched the steady growth of Stack while sharing a studio space with Amy Gear at the RCA I have a great affection for this piece.

Stack is an encounter with mass.

Repetition celebrates editions in the print fest Multiplied at Christies. A jostle of galleries showing their wares. The RCA gets a stand showcasing alumni with recent graduates. I had one sculpture from everydaymatters showing. It looks obvious in this picture but it was surprising how people just didn’t see it. It was about the only work not on the wall and when the room was packed it disappeared in the crowd. Invisible matter.1602 RCA  mulltipliedI was pleased to have two variable editions of Paradise Road sw4 shown by Dark Matter Studio in a grouping with work by Zoe Dorelli, Mary Yacoob, Marianne Walker and Patrick Jackson – The Inner City Pilgrims. A new collaborative project I am involved with whose aim is to re-mystify the city.

1602 Dark Matter at Multiplied

Katharina Grosse has been interrogating space in relation to her paintings such as  ‘Untitled Trumpet’ which have expanded to the point that you can walk through them.

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Katharina Grosse Untitled  (Trumpet)

From the experience of having a painting transferred from canvas to silk she was inspired by the folds in the fabric. Folds in space.

1601 Venice Katherina Grosse  (1)

Katharina Grosse Untitled (Trumpet)

A fold in space could theoretically, allow a short cut from one place to another.

1601 wormholeA wormhole has two mouths and a throat. For travel to be possible, wormholes would need to be full of exotic matter, that is to say a non-baryonic matter like dark matter i.e. not made of the stuff we are made of. It is as yet another unknown.

How we move through space and interact with the architecture that surrounds us was explored in Mimesis  at Westminster Reference Library.

“Mimesis produces mere ‘phantoms’, not real things. It is at once dependent and deluded, just as a mirror is empty and inessential without something to reflect.” – Matthew Potolsky

1602 Amelia Critchlow

Amelia Critchlow

Amelia Critchlow and Evy Jokhova have been considering how image and architectural form influence the way we read our world; how cognition can cloud and clarify and how association can attack an image or experience, or stand apart, apparently neutral and transparent.

1602 Evy Johkova 3

Evy Jokhova

Mimesis created an unstable environment of wobbly furniture, erased images and material associations where the chalky surface of architectural columns turn out to be constructed from Brie.

This is the playful mimic undermining the authority of grand architecture and opening a space to question our surroundings by subverting expectations of form.

I was introduced to the beautiful work of Ben Cove at Multiplied and then visited his exhibition Modern Language at Peter Von Kant Gallery.

Architectural devices are made symbols. Flat surfaces deceive the eye with shadow and form. Clean, sharp colours zing against black and white images drawing the eye backward and forward shifting us in space and in time. It’s a dynamic experience. Having read a lot lately about how there is no empty space, there is no void, I can feel here that all space is packed with information and all is connected through space time.

For her archaeological installation Wrong Way Time in the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale Fiona Hall filled the room with an ecology of objects that tell the story of civilization from primal beliefs in magic and animism through capitalism, global economic collapse and climate change leaving us with the challenge of facing the end of anthropocentrism.

1601 Venice Australia Fiona Hall (2)

Fiona Hall

She trusts in our sense of wonder and imagination that can see life forms in sculpted drift wood to see a world not of exploitation but of symbiosis.

1601 Venice Australia Fiona Hall (3)

Fiona Hall

In the French Pavilion Celeste Boursier-Mougenot’s work also activated primal beliefs that animals, plants, and inanimate objects possess a spiritual essence. In transHUmUs an arboreal dance reintroduces us to a latent anthropomorphism. The trees glide around directed by their own metabolism with their truncated roots exposed on their islands of dirt, like isolated protesters quietly demonstrating.

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Celeste Boursier-Mougenot transHUmUS

In the beginning…the word became flesh. The vertical-transcendent dimension of the Logos – the word of God from above and the horizontal-immanent dimension of the flesh below were the axes of research put forward by the Holy See as participant in the Venice Biennale 2105.  Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva created ‘Haruspex’ in this context.

1602 Venice Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva Haruspex

Using the raw flesh of pig’s caul, sheep’s intestine and cow’s stomach she weaves a canopy, an enclosure, a net, a trap, a sanctuary. It’s meaning oscillates as does the beauty and horror of its materiality. We must read the omens by inspecting the entrails of sacrificial animals.

Pamela Rosenkranz questions what it means to be human in a digital age. The anthropocentric bias of humanism is challenged when subject and object are impossible to separate. Our physical and psychic being is undergoing a transformation by the new materials that we wear, inject, subsume.

1601 Switzerland Pamela Rosenkranz (1)

Pamela Rosenkranz Simulation

The glowing wet body of synthetic liquid designed to replicate a particular skin colour floods the Swiss Pavilion with a sickly sweetness that has a back flavour of the murder victim’s chemical bath.

 

 

 

 

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Past time is finite, future time is infinite –  Kathleen Herbert’s exhibition at Danielle Arnaud explored the connection between a lost landscape and personal identity, place and memory, the natural and the manmade. Her video A History Of The Receding Horizon is a poignant narrative of a land stripped of people, homes, gardens and woodland to allow for the municipal construction of the Kielder reservoir.

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Kathleen Herbert – still from A History Of A Receding Horizon

How do we sense time?  In her film we are reminded of the journey light must make to reach us from the farthest stars. Kielder Observatory is here, looking out into the cosmos. We are then taken underground into the antiseptic tunnels within the walls of the damn. Scientific endeavour. The demands of an industry that also vanished leaving the flooded valley to reinvent itself as a leisure resort. The heart ripped out and replaced with a mechanical version.

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Kathleen Herbert – Past Time Is Finite, Future Time Is Infinite

 

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Kathleen Herbert Time Creates Great Distances in Life

Katie Paterson looked at tracing the history of life on earth through its fossils.

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Katy Paterson Fossil Necklace

Light gives life. Rocks hold a record of life and its absence impacted by times of darkness.

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Katy Paterson – Fossil Necklace

Carving beads from different strata the necklace she threads is a manifestation of deep time and ancient secrets, each bead a tiny world echoing untold planets of the universe and their unique geologies.

1512 bead planet 2

Katy Paterson – Fossil Necklace

Beneath the ground – Silent Movies was an exhibition of purely monochromatic work at Q Park, an underground car park. The low oppressive ceilings of this vast space added to the strangeness of this nether world emptied of colour.

1602 Silent Movies

Cathy Gale and Carol Wyss were exhibiting their installation Casting Couch. These artists have been casting the landscapes of their bodies.

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Cathy Gale and Carol Wyss Casting Couch

 

The death mask seeks to preserve the memory of a face. These little hummocks are casts of elbows. A part of our own body like the face that we need a mirror to view.

Jananne Al-Ani’s paper View from Above: Latent Images in the Landscape expanded on her research into the Aesthetics of Disappearance. Speaking at the symposium Shadow without Object she asks how one can disappear a body? She told us the grimly poetic story of the The Butterfly Hunter. Margaret Cox, a forensic archaeologist reads the geophysical anomalies in the landscape to discover the hidden mass graves of genocide victims. Clouds of blue butterflies gathering in the Kosovo hills uncovered the sites of tragedy. The butterflies were attracted by an unusual and intense blossoming of Mugwurt which signified a change in the nutrient levels of the soil as the buried bodies decomposed and leached into the earth.

The landscape can work as an unexposed photographic plate. A trace, a latent image can be read and transformed into a site of information. Our understanding of conflict is often from an aerial perspective. The view from above is of depopulated space. We look down on abstracted and beautiful landscapes scarred with trenches and shell marks.

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Jananne Al-Ani Shadow Sites

From above we can pick out prehistoric dry stone structures, archaeological sites that are invisible at ground level. These are the traces of the people now absent. Jananne Al-Ani is looking at the bare landscape of the desert, where the past is slowly eroded away by the winds, in Sarah Sze’s The Last Garden the past is overgrown with vegetation. We are left to discover the interventions she has inserted amongst the tangle of undergrowth and abandoned architecture.

1601 Venice Sarah Sze  (1)

Sarah Sze The Last Garden

It is a treasure hunt of clues to a world of materiality and entropy where we can see  breakdown and decay but are also aware of new growth. The crack in the wall stuffed with images of the canal water about to burst through from the other side, the weight of the gently swaying rock are reminders of fundamental forces at play.

Hours, Years, Aeons; a site specific installation by Patrick Söderlund and Visa Suonpää known as IC-98 takes us into a dark space as though we are stepping off the edge of the world and looking back.

Abendland (I: The Vaults of Dreams; II: The Place That Was Promised) is a two-channel video with animation by Markus Lepsitö and a haunting soundtrack by  Max Savikangas. We see the slow death of a desolate gnarled tree set against the alien black skies of a world with no atmosphere. The film runs in a cycle and so the tree is reborn but this may be the part that is a dream.

Vincent J. F. Huang on behalf of small island nations at the mercy of rising sea levels presented Crossing the Tide.  A world of only sky and water.

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Vincent J. F. Huang Crossing the Tide

 

Regardless of how far the world has evolved the four primary elements are eternal. In many classical world views four basic elements are believed to constitute the essential components of which everything consists. Usually these classical elements Earth, Air, Fire and Water relate to ancient philosophical concepts which today are generally compared to the contemporary states of matter, with earth relating to the solid state, air to gaseous, fire to plasma and water to liquid. In Buddhist philosophy the four elements are not viewed as substances, but as categories of sensory experience.  –  Thai artist and printmaker Kamol Tassananchalee on the theories that underpin his work

1601 Thailand

Kamol Tassananchalee

When did these primal elements first separate out from the turmoil of the big bang?  Sarkis gave us a neon rainbow as part of his installation Respiro.

1601 Venice Turkey Sarkis (4)

Sarkis Respiro

Reflected back at us through a constellation of finger prints on mirror

1601 Venice Sarkis (2)

Sarkis Respiro

and in the unsteady surface of water. Through his arrangement of objects, images and codes Sarkis wants to take us back in time to the very first rainbow.

1601 Venice Sarkis (1)

The flysheet of The Quantum Universe depicts a rainbow and the inside cover explains how particles of light from the sun (photons) approach a cloud of water droplets in the sky.

1512 The quantum UniverseSome pass through, while others enter the drops and reflect and refract back. Quantum theory is able to precisely calculate the probability that a photon, will reach your eye along with many others to create a rainbow on your retina – but (and this is the bit that I still don’t really get) – only by allowing each and every particle to explore the entire universe on their journey through the rain. My understanding after tackling the book is that this doesn’t really happen but in order to compute the probability the maths requires that it does. It’s a poetic thought that the photon hitting my eye has explored the entire universe before connecting with me.

1603 light.jpg

 

 

 

If my artist statement had to be condensed into human form it would be John Dee.  1602 John Dee 2

He studied astronomy but also astrology, mathematics and also alchemy, geometry and also the language of angels. Living at a time when science and religion clashed as the source of truth he was the most intriguing Elizabethan polymath, setting the mould for future  magicians his reputation waxed and waned like the celestial objects he observed. John Dee’s curiosity for how the world was put together fired his imagination and thirst for learning. In his lifetime he collected the largest library of books and manuscripts in Europe.

1602 John Dee surrey map

This great treasure was ransacked from his home in Mortlake while he was abroad and sections are now scattered across the world. The Royal College of Physicians were donated a substantial number of his books in 1680 and their exhibition Scholar, courtier, magician: the lost library of John Dee is a celebration of this collection, his life and contribution to so many spheres of knowledge. On display are his personal notebooks and other volumes and editions many with his annotations and diagrams in the margins.

These books are available for viewing at the college outside of the exhibition period so would be worth a trip back to see them in detail, unfortunately for me they are mostly in Latin but the illustrations would be amazing to look at more closely.

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John Dee Monas Hieroglyphica

The symbol Monas Hieroglyphica  combines the moon, the sun, the elements and fire. It is also the title of his repository of knowledge on all things numerological, astronomical, cosmological, alchemical, magical and mystically spiritual written in coded language to protect his secrets.

1602 John Dee Claude Glass

John Dee’s Claude Glass

John Dee used a medium or scryer to communicate with angels on his behalf and collected many magical objects to assist in divining the future and accessing the spirit world.

1602 John Dee crystal ball

John Dee’s Crystal Ball

I was surprised how small his crystal ball was but it does have a deep smoky quality.

1602 John Dee gold disc

John Dee – Gold Magical Disc

The gold disc is engraved with a vision of four castles seen by his medium Edward Kelly  and the notations and scripts of an Enochain Code devised by John Dee as a system of communication with angels.

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Painting by Henry Gillard Glindoni

Even today John Dee surprises us  – an x-ray of a Victorian painting showing Dee in the court of Queen Elizabeth I reveals him to be performing within a circle of skulls which were painted over and hidden but are beginning to emerge as the chemical composition of the paint changes with time.

1602 john dee skulls 1

I leant about another medieval mystic and polymath from Professor Christopher Page at a lecture at St Sepulchre-Without -Newgate, Holborn – The Mystery of Women part of his series of discussions on Music, imagination and experience in the Medieval World. The remarkable abbess Hildegard of Bingen claimed to see visions and receive spiritual communications from an early age and that it was baptism in the Pentecostal tongues of fire which taught her the mysteries of the faith and enabled her to write her rapturous music and Latin verse. Education was denied to girls at this time as was much of civic and religious life so perhaps claiming divine intervention gave her authority to write, compose and involve herself in scientific research without condemnation.

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Illumination from the Liber Scivias showing Hildegard receiving a vision

 

The Elmgreen and Dragset exhibition Self-Portraits at Victoria Miro was a sideways look at the proliferation of the selfie and the impossibility of capturing a persona. Looking for other ways to visualise a memory they looked for a trigger to an image in the mind.

1601 ElmGreen and Dragset

Choosing personally significant artworks they elevated the exhibition label to permanent tribute in marble – in memoriam, a gravestone.

Memories are left with other people. We just leave our bones. I visited Carol Wyss at The Montage where she had a show with fellow Slade graduate Tessa Holmes.

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Carol Wyss

Carol’s deep and rich large etchings are flowers carefully constructed from human bones.

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Carol Wyss

In the simple height differences of charred paper tubes in Past Future Qin Chong gives a blunt reminder that some of us burn out faster than others.

1601 Venice Qin Chong (1)

Qin Chong Past Future

I unexpectedly found myself with a ticket to Here We Go a short play about death by Caryl Churchill at the National Theatre. Divided into three scenes it opens with a funeral wake and the staccato abbreviated and truncated conversations that pass amongst family and strangers  on such occasions. There were sharp one liners and at intervals each person turned to the audience to state their future time and means of death. We then move to a darkened stage and the recently deceased bare chested old man who is in a state of confusion as to his whereabouts, backtracking through his past beliefs to find a footing to explain his predicament.

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The play was insightful, funny and touching. It was also a brave production especially the last scene which proceeds in silence as a care worker methodically undresses and dresses our protagonist from pyjamas to day wear and back again as he painfully shuffles on his walker from bed to chair and chair to bed in the interminable routine that had become his life before death.

1601 here we go

He gazes helplessly out at the audience as the stage lights grow almost imperceptibly dimmer until blackness ensues.

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From our material remains to our spiritual engagement Susan Hiller’s exhibition at Lisson embraced the portrayal of the paranormal, the unconscious and subliminal desire for a world beyond logic. Entering a ritualised arena we witness successive examples of the psychic powers of children taken from popular films.

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Alchemical flasks hold the cremated ashes of paintings.

A stitched canvas makes me think of the construction of space, how we image it and how we collage it together from fragments of knowledge.

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Susan Hiller

My lightbox Entrance was showing at the exhibition Signs That Say What You Want Them To Say at Lights of Soho selected by Robert Montgomery.

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It was a great setting for this work in the underground cavern bar. Contemplating the other side. A traffic warden considering the possibility of angels.

1601 Entrance

Susan Eyre Entrance

entrance n. 1. an opening allowing access. 2. an act of entering. 3. the right, means, or opportunity to enter.

entrance v. fill with wonder and delight. >cast a spell on.

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Susan Eyre Yellow Sky

I also had Yellow Sky showing here which is more about looking for refuge and reliance on a controlled environment, the other side of the apocalypse. Both pieces sold which is always a mixture of delight that someone has responded so positively to your work and mild grieving at losing something you had brought into the world.

Arriving rather late for International Lawns Field Trip No.7 at Domo Baal Gallery I felt I had missed the party. Great poster image by Craig Burnett.

1601 international-lawns-field-trip-no7-2015-domobaalBut I did hear the fantastical tale delivered by a dead pan  Jonathan Meades which as best as I can recall was of a French political activist, drug addict, convict turned business and policy advisor who died crashing his high spec car on route to give an after dinner speech while over the limit on the very best of French wine.

Daniel Rubenstein’s paper Graven Images: Photography after Heidegger, Lyotard and Deleuze aimed to have us consider the latent image, the image held in some kind of stasis as yet to be brought to life. To be made visible. To explain the idea of a latent image he told us the story of the Swedish expedition to the North Pole in 1897.

1602 Swedish Balloon Explorers

Pioneering balloonist S. A. Andrée envisaged a plan to restore the national pride of Sweden in the race to the North Pole and artic discovery. Setting off in a hydrogen balloon the three explorers hoped to avoid weeks of hard slog over the treacherous landscape and at the same time make cartographic observations of the terrain from the sky. Unfortunately they soon were lost and their fate remained a mystery for over 30 years until their frozen corpses were discovered by walrus hunters on the island of Kvitøya, the most remote island of the Svalbard archipelago.

1602 Swedish Balloon Crash 1897Found with the bodies were a number of exposed frames of film. Despite the terrible plight they found themselves in crashing on an uninhabited ice cap with no means of communication they continued to document their journey with images that then lay dormant for the intervening years.

1602 Swedish expedition Strindberg

Daniel Rubenstein is interested in this state when an image is held as index, as possibility before its transformation in becoming visible to us. To make the photograph the index must be washed away – from negative to positive – something had to die. He sees the latent image as the third space, the space of the void, the nothingness that Heidegger questions. A metaphysical state. He reminds us that what makes us think is not objects but encounters.