Archives for posts with tag: Caryl Churchill

2002 St Augustine's Tower

In the studio I have been experimenting with magnets and iron filings while thinking about magnetoreception, methods of navigation and finding the way in the dark.

2002 magnetoreceptor wip 1

Some interesting research at the Max Planck Institute headed by Dr Christine Nießner has been looking at the light-sensitive molecules that exist in bacteria, plants and animals which are used for perception of the Earth’s magnetic field to aid orientation and navigation.  In birds the cryptochrome molecule is located in photoreceptors in the eyes and is activated by the magnetic field but only reacts to the magnetic field if it is simultaneously excited by light.

An additional meaning to birds eye view.

In animals, these molecules are also involved in the control of the body’s circadian rhythms. The researchers think that some mammals may also use this cryptochrome to perceive the Earth’s magnetic field. In evolutionary terms, the blue cones in mammals correspond to the blue- to UV-sensitive cones in birds. It is therefore entirely possible that this cryptochrome in mammals has a comparable function.

2002 magnetoreceptor wip 2Observations of foxes, dogs and even humans indicate that they can perceive the Earth’s magnetic field, but may perceive it in a different way, for example with microscopic ferrous particles in cells known as magnetite. A magnetite-based magnetic sense functions like a pocket compass and does not require any light.

2002 naked mole rat

Mole rats navigate their dark tunnels using this kind of compass. Birds also have an additional orientation mechanism based on magnetite, which they use to determine their position.

 

 

 

2002 dark skies forest

 

Continuing research for a collaborative event with UCLO looking at the planetary system most similar to our own Solar System which contains the bright star HD70642. It is visible with binoculars from the southern hemisphere toward the constellation of Puppis.  “The Stern”  (poop deck) was once part of the constellation Argo Navis. Argo was the ship that Jason and the Argonauts sailed on their quest for the Golden Fleece2002 star map Argo Navis

A planet with twice the mass of Jupiter has been discovered orbiting HD70642 in an almost circular orbit. This means it is possible that Earth-type planets may be orbiting further in. In all other planetary systems discovered with massive planets they usually have disruptive closer elliptical orbits which would destroy any smaller planets on a circular orbit.

At 90 light years away, extremely faint early radio broadcasts from Earth are now passing this planetary system. It was around 90 years ago when University College London Observatory first began exploring the night sky. It was also around then when my mother was born which gives a human scale to the journey time. The constellation of Puppis is only visible from the southern hemisphere but should there have been a radio broadcast about the opening of UCLO then this information would now have travelled to this potential alternative home.

2002 UCL Observatory

 

British Pathé produced a short but sadly silent (sound was not introduced until 1930) newsreel of the opening of the observatory at UCL in 1929. View here

 

 

 

 

There may be a chance to discover Earth like planets using the new high precision spectrometer technology developed by Macquarie astrophysicist Christian Schwab which collects starlight from  unimaginably distant stars and measures the subtle effect orbiting planets have on their parent stars.

2002 spectograph Kitt Peak Observatory

Further research for a future video work The Seeker, The Seer, The Scientist. Looking to the horizon, the line that separates earth and sky.  The optical horizon is what we see but is not at the same as the geometric horizon which allows for the curvature of light due to atmospheric refraction. If the surface of the Earth is colder than the air above it, light is refracted downward as it travels around the curvature of the Earth and if the ground is hotter than the air above it light is refracted upwards causing a mirage.

2002 horizon

The true horizon is usually hidden.

2002 horizon sea

We each have a personal distance to the horizon based on our specific height of eye from the ground and the local elevation from sea level at which we stand. It is a distance we can never reach as it always recedes.  The seeker must send a seer to visit their horizon and report back on what it is they see, they may also send a scientist. The seer can see beyond, but is what they see real or imagined, the scientist can explain what is beyond but this is just abstract space.

My height of eye = 1.5m + local elevation

Distance to horizon = √(13 x height of eye)

2002 iris for etching

Some interesting ideas in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, a 1909 text by Max Heindel which seem relevant to my meanderings intersecting cosmic particle trails with matter. This text, setting out a theory of seven Worlds and seven Cosmic Planes, supposes an intermingling of spirit with matter where the intersection of the material and metaphysical world are not one above another in space, but inter-penetrate each with the other.2001 cosmic planes

Beginning the process of disposing of old work and bits and pieces. Storage is a big problem for artists I think.

2002 plastic

Also reworking old prints. It’s taken a couple of years to percolate but am working on a suspended paradise.

2002 paradise suspended

Out of studio.

A brief look at what is current in Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2019 at South London Gallery

200219 new contemporaries

The Missing Day discussion on 29/02 as part of the The Habitat of Time programme at Arts Catalyst curated by Julie Louise Bacon was a cross discipline interrogation of the social, political and personal impact of how we order time.

  • Once every four years, here in the collective habitat of Earth time, 365 becomes 366 as the missing day of the leap year makes another appearance in the now-global calendar. This quadrennial occurrence foregrounds the essentially malleable nature of time. From the earliest lunisolar calendar developed in Babylon during the Bronze Age, to the invention of atomic clocks in the mid 20th century, and speculations on the quantum realm in the laboratories of today, time’s parameters have taken on new guises, shaping and regulating life in the process.

The Missing Day roundtable explores the development of human modes of measuring and understanding time, and their impact on the ways we order time as societies, individuals and a species. The discussion will bring together perspectives on observing, keeping and speculating on time from the fields of the history of science and physics. It will consider the emergence of the modern regimes of time that dominate social life, their limits and the possibilities beyond.

Chaired by the curator Emily Akkermans ‘Curator of Time’ at National Maritime Museum Greenwich spoke about the mechanics of horology and the trade and empire building that led to time keeping for navigation, transport systems, industry and financial markets. Artist Ted Hunt whose work is featured in the 24/7 Somerset House exhibition spoke about his attempts to deconstruct the clock and find alternative methods of recording time. Artist Ami Clarke from Banner Repeater had a stark message about capitalism driving our relationship to time, taking control away from the human as algorithms respond to twitter announcements and fluctuate markets faster than humans can intervene to prevent malfunction. Particle astrophysicist Cham Ghag was present to give insight into how time does not exist in physics apart from in the law of thermodynamics. All other processes are reversible but heat can only travel in one direction. He also spoke about the importance of good quality sleep and disengaging from the demands of 24/7 ordered time.

2002 habitat of time

24/7 – A WAKE-UP CALL FOR OUR NON-STOP WORLD at Somerset House. With over 50 works it was a bit of a sensory overload in itself but thankfully interspersed with meditative works that gave some respite. An urgent analysis of sleep deprivation, disrupted circadian rhythms and non-stop culture.

The current new materialisms reading group book is Posthuman Knowledge by Rosi Brandotti who writes about complex multiplicity and a global exhaustion from having to negotiate new technologies, the political landscape and climate urgencies, like surfers riding an ever increasing number and magnitude of waves. How do we position ourselves (we who are in this together but are not the same)  in a world where we must distinguish ourselves from non-human (I am not  ROBOT) yet embrace and include the non-human; confer rights to nature; dismantle dualisms?

The question of what is it to be human is wonderfully scrutinised in Caryl Churchill’s play A Number which looks at human cloning and identity, particularly nature versus nurture in making us who we are. The story, set in the near future, is structured around the conflict between a father and his sons – two of whom are clones of the first one. The original son feeling loss of self, the second son feeling a poor copy, and subsequent sons freed of guilt or jealousy or lacking in introspection and depth.

2002 mirrors

Research Network: Ecological Sci-fi – Artist talk with Stephanie Moran and Keiken at Inniva.

Scientists have been incorporating more and more attributes based on animal perception and behaviour into media, a process that has been intensifying since the beginnings of Modernism, from steam engines to AI (Lippit, 2000; Parikka, 2010). If we are already cyborg, we are also already interspecies cyborgs, albeit in anthropocentrically instrumentalised, alienated form. As artist Jennet Thomas’ dystopian sci-fi film proposes, “The category ‘human’ is falling apart…” (Animal Condensed>>Animal Expanded#2

Stephanie Moran’s PhD research considers how to think about ourselves as part of a shared ecosystem and to consider the embodied experiences of other species that share our world but inhabit very different experience-worlds. Unfortunately I found it hard to hear and follow her talk, and keep pace with the slides. I’m sure there was a lot of interesting information that escaped me. I did pick up the mention of magnetoreception though.

2002 Stephanie Moran

Astrobiology researcher Professor Lewis Dartnell gave an interesting talk at Conway Hall Origins – How the Earth Made Us

Geological forces drove our evolution in East Africa; mountainous terrain led to the development of democracy in Greece; and today voting behaviour in the United States follows the bed of an ancient sea. The human story is the story of these forces, from plate tectonics and climate change, to atmospheric circulation and ocean currents.

2002 Cutty Sark

Slow time. Norwegian choreographer Ingri Fiksdal presented Diorama at Greenwich on a thankfully bright February lunchtime.

These performances reflect on the passing of time, on the slow change in landscape, and scenography as an ecological practice of bodies both human and non-human.

The word “diorama” often refers to a three-dimentional model of a landscape, such as displayed in museums of natural history. Another use of the word is for the French diorama theatre, invented by Louis Daguerre in 1822, where the audience were sat watching big landscape paintings transform through skillfully manipulated light, sound effects and live performers.

 

ONE FOLD, TWO FOLD, TEN FOLD, MANIFOLD at Exposed Arts Projects.

2002 manifold library

Manifold has varied meanings across context and research discipline with use in mathematics, topology and geometry.  It describes .

2002 manifold Gina DeCagna

 

Artist Gina DeCagna presented her explorations with discarded cardboard built into installations looking at layering and hierarchy. These assemblages work as symbolic means to arouse social questions around empowerment and inequality.

 

 

 

In mathematics, topology compares shapes to see if they have the same number of holes and handles and can therefore be moulded from one into the other by stretching, twisting, crumpling and bending, but not tearing or gluing.

Topologist Dr Mehdi Yazdi gave an introduction to mathematical concepts in topology, manifolds and foliations from abstract space to the expanding rings of trees found in nature. Foliation is the decomposition of shape into lines and circles. We gained visual inspiration from hands on participation with marbleised paper.

2002 marbling

Mushrooms: The art, design and future of fungi – an exhibition at Somerset House celebrating the remarkable mushroom, and all the progressive, poetic and psychedelic wonder it evokes.

2002 mushrooms (3)

Michael Pollen’s excellent book How To Change Your Mind  sets out a fascinating history of psychedelics bringing us up to date with current research and future potentials for treating addictive behaviour as well as offering well adults access to an alternative consciousness. Told through his own experiences using LSD and psilocybin under guidance and his many interviews which researchers, practitioners, therapists and volunteers one overarching theme that comes out is a feeling of transcendence to another plane of consciousness which many interpret as becoming one with the universe or feeling the presence of god and an overwhelming sense of love. Could this chemical be the catalyst to opening receptors in our brain enabling us to access a consciousness present in the universe outside our body or are the emotions, visions and dissolution of ego experienced by those taking psychedelics all taking place within the brain?

Pollen quotes from Aldous Huxley’s experiences documented in his 1954 book The Doors of Perception where he describes an unmediated access to realms of existence which is always present but kept from our awareness by a “reducing valve” of everyday waking consciousness a kind of mental filter that admits only a “measly trickle of the kind of consciousness” we need in order to survive. A bit like us only seeing certain wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The title comes from William Blake’s 1793 book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell which expresses a unified vision of the cosmos in which the material world and physical desire are equally part of the divine order. It would not be hard to imagine Blake’s visions rooted in a psychedelic experience.

2002 William Blake

Over 250 years after the young William Blake saw a vision of an angel in a tree on Peckham Rye, Flat Time House has commissioned six poets to bring their words and visions to Peckham. Each of the poets has been commissioned to write in response to the life and work of William Blake and/or in response to that other creator of cosmologies, John Latham.

Poets in Response to Blake is part of the exhibition programme The Bard – William Blake at Flat Time House. The evening I attended we gathered to hear Chris McCabe, Niall McDevitt, Karen Sandhu and Iain Sinclair read from their commissioned works. It was such a treat to hear the spoken word live. A time to listen and reflect. Each of the contributions was evocative and insightful. I like that Iain Sinclair suggested John Latham was of such an expansive mind that he spanned time and consequently predated Blake.

“Spectral Latham pre-deceases William Blake,

      while both magicians,

burning like thermal lances, are numbered among

     the chain of stars.

Curved light reaches through infinitely extended

   quantum crumbs,

Planck time, to a black metal box that flattens,

   swept by paper waves,

into a cemetery suburb on the hill. Angelic incidents

   are reported”       Iain Sinclair

 

 

 

 

 

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.

1602 John Dee monas hieroglyphica.jpg

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.

1602 John Dee 1

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.

1602 Hildegard_von_Bingen

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.

1601 Carol Wyss (2)

Carol Wyss

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

1601 Carol Wyss (1)

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.

1601 here we go 2

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.

1601 Susan Hiller 3

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.

1601 Susan Hiller 4

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.

1601 Susan Hiller 5

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.

1602 entrance 2

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.

1601 Yellow Sky 1

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.

Things slightly out of control.

Another sharply intelligent play by Caryl Churchill, Escaped Alone bats us back and forth from cosy garden chatter to the heart a dystopian future world of civic anarchy.  The scenarios the character Cassandra paints of a poisoned world run by the media where the obese slice off their own bodies for food and fashion choices revolve around which colour gas mask to choose appear just the other side of a thin membrane. Great review of the play here. As Cassandra stepped from bright sunshine into dark void to deliver her visions of spiralling societal collapse one of which included people trapped in tunnels underground resorting to cannibalism and giving birth to blind children I wondered how I will react to going down the deepest mine in the UK to visit the science labs at Boulby. Our trip is planned for May.

1602 escaped alone

Linda Bassett as Cassandra in Escaped Alone  by Caryl Churchill

Shivering is usually a temporary condition triggered by cold, fear or excitement. Damir Očko looks at the involuntary actions of our body and the physicality of the flesh in which we must live. His videos show a man shaking with Parkinson’s disease desperately trying to write the word tranquillity; the muscle spasms of young healthy men freezing as they stand near naked in a frozen landscape; flesh scarred through burning to a rough meaty texture.

1601 Venice Croatia (2)

Damir Ocko The Third Degree

We walk between fragmented mirrors glimpsing our broken selves.

1601 Venice Croatia (1)

Damir Ocko installation at The Croatian Pavilion 2015

Tulipmania swept the world in the 17h Century. The passion for the perfect bloom inflated prices out of control and fortunes  were made and lost in the worlds first recorded financial crash. This was the subject of  Gordon Cheung’s Breaking Tulips  exhibition at  Alan Cristea. The most desired blooms with their striated petals were the result of a virus, unknown at the time which added to the speculative nature of trade in not knowing whether a bulb would go on to produce the requisite flower or not. He sets his tulips against the background of the financial papers and comments; “In the context of the Dutch Golden Age the Tulip Breaking virus is both a biological and mind virus where a distorted sense of economic value has taken hold in a herd mentality.”

1601 Gordon Cheung 3

Conflating history in his new work we see Dutch 17th-century still life paintings cascade like sand though our fingers. In frozen apocalyptic moments the solid world disintegrates before our eyes.  The collision of Dutch Master and Kim Asendorf’s open source algorithm computer glitch program has created a new kind of sublime; that mix of fear and beauty seen in entropy. We fear losing our history and also fear the ever changing new world of pixels. We are witness to a transient state.

I thought Filip Markiewicz installation Paradiso Lussemburgo was a bit heavy handed, but then considering his topic – the violence of reality seen through greed and the injustice of world economics maybe it was OK to shout about it.

1602 Venice Luxembourg

Filip Marckiewicz Paradiso Luxemburgo

 

There was no missing his point that the world of finance is corrupt.  Money doesn’t go where it is needed most. The packed boat precariously hangs over a blood bath. Making a political point can be blunt. Mark Fromm’s packed boat of waving lucky cats set in a perpetual cycle of sailing to disaster is titled Lampedusa Good Luck!  Smiling fixedly and clad in shiny gold like the refugees gold survival blankets it is an unsettling analogy but it does open the question of how we see the thousands of migrants who risk their lives to escape terror in their homeland – left to the mercy of so many forces; the war, the sea, our generosity.

Nidhal Chamekh  makes considered connections between contemporary realities and the sprawling nature of human history. The Anti-Clock Project looks at the destruction of an urban monument in Tunis through the use of models of the city and drawings.

Tunis, like any city is a testament to the forces that built it and as Nidhal Chamekh reminds us through the construction and destruction of its architecture is witness to society and the political forces which govern it.

Consider two bullets colliding head on. Art Collective The Propeller Group were intrigued when they came across the remains of a bullet from the American Civil War in a museum which had apparently smashed head on with another bullet on the battlefield. They decided to apply this mythology to the guns used in the cold war era.  The work they made AK47 vs M16 captures the colliding bullets in an FBI clear ballistics gel block accompanied by a video of the collision.

1601 Venice The Propeller Group (1)

The Propeller Group Ak47 vs M16

 

By collapsing/colliding two pasts together they explore possibilities.

Possibilities always lie in the future.