Archives for posts with tag: cosmonaut

BEYOND – Midsummer Events at Allenheads Contemporary Arts kicked off with Far From Daylight -Outstation #1. This involved lying in candlelit rows, blindfolded, on inflatable beds subjected to a pulsating tone while a disembodied voice gave an account of cosmonaut training in the 1960’s and the interrogation of the minds of the cosmonauts. 1806 outstation 1

Fact and fiction overlapped or merged as documented experiences of cosmonauts were read from texts by group participants. Later small groups of participants plucked word cards from a bag, the words signified archetypes or directives to inspire images that would be used as thought cards for future floatation tank experiences.

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‘The Illuminated Woman’ became the all encompassing and much more open ‘The Illuminated’.

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The Pilgrimage; a non-linear spiral, borders were permeable or herbaceous, the map dissolved leaving no points of reference in space only the depths of the mind to navigate. This was preceded by skimming stones on the cosmic pond and followed by conversations around the fire with artists Jo Hodges and Robbie Coleman who had devised and led this affecting event.

The next night was a test run for the scheduled live streaming of the sunset and sunrise from the top of the fell…

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…situated between borders.

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The Midsummer’s Night droning began just as the sun dipped the horizon and continued until it appeared again on the other side of the earth. It seemed to get around very quickly.

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It never got dark. The earth orbits the sun in about 365.25 days. Up 31 octaves this is 69.05Hz, a slightly flat C sharp. This midsummer the earth will rotate on its own axis in 23 hours, 59 minutes, 59.9998932 seconds. Up 21 octaves this is 24.269Hz, a slightly flat G.

Open Weekend Events up at the school house included seeing comic particle trails in my cloud chamber.

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Also a little hologram film I made of the trails set in a dodecahedron (motif for the universe)

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Exoplanet exploration

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The gallery in the village with work from other BEYOND residency artists

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Earlier visit to Allenheads – circling ideas, segmenting, focusing

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The density of the forest is overwhelming – no space to enter – yet imagine being able to pass unheeded through this entanglement

1806 Allendale Impenetrable forest

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Had a preview screening of edited soft borders (video with dance artist Paola Napolitano) and installation of Duodecimens (etched aluminium. screen print) in my studio space for the annual Open Weekend at Thames-side Studios.

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Using the dodecahedron as motif, the boundaries of the universe are brought within reach; pliant and permeable as the body bathed in cosmic particles that do not recognise borders but pass unseen through spacetime and matter. 1806 soft borders still.jpg

There was some interesting use of materials in New Relics sculpture show in Thames- side Gallery.

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The Echoing Space exhibition is a sensitive response to the history of Leith Hill Place from artists Julie Hoyle, Mary Branson and Penny Green. Combining traditional and contemporary materials and processes the past and present are drawn together reigniting the passions of past inhabitants for a new generation.

1806 Leith Hill Place Mary Branson

1806 Leith Hill Place Julie Hoyle

The austere façade and darkened windows can give an initial impression of a sinister past and ghosts best left to rest but inside reveals a palimpsest of family life steeped in the arts and scientific discovery.

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In 1847 it became the home of Josiah Wedgwood III who was married to Caroline Darwin. Her brother Charles Darwin often visited and the wormstone he used for research into how stones and ancient ruins become buried over time is still in the grounds. He studied the action of earthworms excavating soil from beneath the stone and depositing it above the surface. It has been estimated that a 25cm thick stone might take approximately 250 years to fall to the level of the ground. What was under becomes surface.

Vibrant Matter: a political ecology of things by Jane Bennett has an interesting chapter on the earthworm and Darwin’s studies which conclude that earthworms ‘make history’ and augment human culture through the accumulated effects of ‘small agencies’.

Darwin’s niece Margaret married Arthur Vaughan Williams and their youngest son, Ralph went on to become the composer best known for The Lark Ascending. He was also an avid collector of folk songs hoping to save them from being buried in time.

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I didn’t get to see any of the live performances but did go to the Joan Jonas ‘in conversation’ with Marina Warner.  Denying any pretentions of being a shaman herself Joan denotes how the shaman enters an unconscious state and makes clear her performances are highly structured, rehearsed conscious episodes though both performances may appear to invoke the use of objects in ritual the intention is quite different. She draws on influences such as the documentation of Aby Warburg who was captivated by the rituals, masks, architecture, art and culture of native Americans he met on his travels in 1895. She has been to experience remote cultures for herself drawing on both real events and mythologies to feed her performances, creating an alternative space to preside in.1806 Joan Jonas (1)

The viewer watches. We are gathered at the fire.

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To follow the tale

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saw this pattern recently in Valencia on a 15th century floor

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Flooring Consulat del Mar at La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia (The Silk Exchange)

 

Communication between trees came up during the talk as discussed in The Hidden Life of Trees a book by Peter Wohlleben who describes a forest as a superorganism of unique individuals. He is writing about processes going on unseen beneath the soil, chemical languages, networks and relationships. We fail to understand trees because “they live on a different time scale” from us.

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In Material Sight at Arts Catalyst Fiona Crisp presents a series of photographs and films within a structure of scaffolding and invasive noise echoing the utilitarian sites from which the images are taken. She has spent the last few years stalking spaces of scientific research deep underground and beyond public accessibility to pluck out small nuggets of suggestibility that bring a sense of these remote locations to an audience who will never physically experience these unique spaces. We are not invited to comprehend the activities and processes of the laboratories shown any more than we can grasp the mysteries of the universe that these sites are endeavouring to solve.  The images aim to engage through a visual intimacy to counteract the distances crossed in bringing the images to the surface.

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The programme of events continued with Kosmica Ethereal Things at Iklectik which turned out to be in ‘Old Paradise Yard’ (one I have missed on my paradise trail.) Chamkaur Ghag was speaking about dark matter, current research, what we don’t know, physics in culture and the need for a more holistic approach to scientific investigations. Annie Carpenter who is also participating in the BEYOND residency was there to demonstrate black hole accretion using dry ice and household items to create a spinning contraption with a hobbyist aesthetic bringing scientific endeavour into the everyday.

Coming up is the final weekend of events for BEYOND at ACA when I will be screening soft borders video. A research trip to Grizedale Forest as prelude to making new work for an exhibition there. Further research for the weather balloon project – in the meantime having fun running the tracking predictor to see how likely it might be to retrieve any video footage depending on where the camera might land.

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Today would have been a good day for a flight.

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I have been looking at A History Of The World in Twelve Maps by Jerry Brotton again, this time in connection with the work I am making as part of The Matter of Objects collaboration between artists and historians. The little fall front cabinet that I am responding to took the journey from India to Portugal around 500 years ago, possibly following the same route as the spice trade.

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I have been looking at maps created around that time and reading about Gerardus Mercator and Abraham Ortelius both renowned cosmographers. I particularly like Ortelius view of his atlas as the Theatre of the World – ‘a place for viewing a spectacle’. Maps present a creative version of a reality we think we know but transform it into something different. Both men expressed a cosmographical philosophy of peace and harmony and hoped their world maps would give mankind pause for thought much as the 1968 earthrise image embodies.

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Ortelius added the quote from Seneca to his maps –

‘Is this that pinpoint which is divided by sword and fire among so many nations?  How ridiculous are the boundaries of mortals.’

And from Cicero –

‘what can seem of moment in human occurrences to a man who keeps all eternity before his eyes and knows the vastness of the universe?’

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Another point of reference for me is the astrolabe, a complex and beautiful instrument used by early astronomers and cosmographers to determine time and the movement of celestial objects.

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I have been making ‘markers’ from aluminium. The shapes and patterns relate to those on the cabinet and the materiality of the etched metal which will be filled with ink and spices relates to the objects kept in the drawers of the cabinet and the trade that circulated the wealth of the merchants who owned these exotic objects.

I screen printed sugar lift solution onto the aluminium shapes before coating with stop out.

These are etched and then inked up with spices and will be laid out in a sequence that follows the route from India to the Iberian Peninsula and ultimately London where this little cabinet now sits in the V&A.

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I am in love with this Boyd and Evans lithograph. I was very jealous of the lady who bought a copy from our RCA stand at Christies Multiplied print fair.

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Boyd and Evans Insignificance

I went to hear them talk about their practice at Flowers Gallery where they had an exhibition of panoramic photographs in Overland. These vast moody skies, rocky barren vistas and abandoned structures are a record to their travels across the American South-West.

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Boyd and Evans Benton Springs, California

Inspired by the book Amazon Beaming by Petru Popescu the latest production from Simon McBurney’s Complicite  is an extraordinary journey in consciousness, questioning reality and its constructs.

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The Encounter tells the story of a National Geographic photographer, Loren McIntyre who in 1969 found himself adrift among the Mayoruna people of the remote Javari Valley in Brazil. Following his desire to discover and record he enters uncharted jungle putting himself at the mercy of the people he was trying to capture on film. He develops a close relationship with the head tribesman and shaman he calls Barnacle and begins to feel they are communicating through thought as they share no common language. The old language is not something you learn it is something you remember.

The tribe are on the move. Distraught at the impact of the sacking of resources of the forest and diseases introduced by outsiders they are heading back to the beginning.

In order to return to a time before the bad things happened they must destroy all their possessions that are holding them in the present. Everything is thrown onto massive bonfires. The journalist is  distraught as he fears the ritual will involve death but the chief is calm, he doesn’t worry what time is, he is just concerned with what he can do with it.

The beginning lies at the inception of time but is also everywhere at once. Going back to the beginning is not really a return, but rather a form of exiting from history proper, into the mythical time of renewal.

There is a powerful message here about matter and its hold on us and our experience of history. The concepts that these shaman were expressing are the same as the problems physicists struggle over today – what is the present?  ‘Time sits at the centre of the tangle of problems raised by the intersection of gravity, quantum mechanics and thermodynamics.’ – Carlo Rovelli

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In the audience we are wearing headphones, the sound of the forest is all around, voices appear in our head, just as they did for Loren, beautifully demonstrated by the use of binaural speakers. Reality is an illusion, all our constructs are fictions and exist only in our imagination.

Creating the sort of places where the Mayoruna people might live…Dean Melbourne paints the places where myth still lives deep in the forests. Shadowy figures, totems and ritual mingle in thick glutinous surfaces.

His exhibition This Myth at Coates and Scarrry’s gallery invites you to step into a sensual and primordial world.

Hilma af Klint was also making connections with the spiritual world. Her public face during her lifetime was of a figurative painter but in the late 1880’s she began painting in secret and created a huge body of work that explored her private interests in the nature of the universe and the relationship between matter and the spiritual. Believing that perfect unity was lost at the point of creation she sought to reconnect the dualities that had arisen from the primordial chaos. Entering Painting the Unseen at The Serpentine Gallery I was immediately awed by the three large works The Paintings For The Temple.

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Inspired by the experiments with séances and automatic drawing that she engaged with as part of a small group of women artists she called The Five (De Fem) she felt herself led by a spirit counsel. Motifs and symbols appear in her paintings that she then interrogates for meaning.

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Her use of colour allows for contemplation in works that have a calm sensuality.

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Her notebooks reflect her dedication to her continuing search for meaning within matter and the extent of the work she produced which  is all the more remarkable for her desire to keep her spiritual work hidden until 20 years after her death. Did she believe the world wasn’t ready for her questions, let’s hope she is pleased with the attention it is getting a hundred years on.

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Good to see RCA printmaking alumni Wieland Payer’s work showing at The House of St. Barnabas with Man and Eve Gallery and to discover the beautiful work of Nadege Meriau. These artists both take you to another world that is just a step from reality and intriguing for that mix of the familiar with the strange.

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Wieland Payer DRIFT   Photo: Herbert Boswank

 

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Nadage Meriau Grotto

The cosmonaut exhibition at the science museum was a window to the world of space exploration. The risks and competition in the race to be the first. The wonderful graphics that heralded a new era of exploration.

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The romantic quest going beyond the rugged landscapes and sublime vista of previous generations. What was most striking I think was how low tech it all looked and so cramped. The bravery and optimism of these people to get into something so small and basic to hurtle across space is to be admired.

cosmonaut. astronaut. nautilus.

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Alistair McDowall’s play X at the Royal Court is set in a future where four astronauts are stranded in their spaceship on Pluto.

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Unable to communicate with earth they await rescue that never arrives. It felt more reality TV show where four unredeemed characters are flung together for eternity than exploration of a new frontier for humankind as Pluto barely gets a mention and we suffer endless ranting as each character loses grip on reality before ending up in the freezer.

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Finally rescue did arrive, for the audience anyway in the form of Dr.Mike Goldsmith who gave a very informed post play talk about the possibilities and potential of Life on Pluto.

Astrophysicist Dr. Roberto Trotta was out campaigning for ‘Why Society Needs Astronomy and Cosmology’ with his Gresham Lecture at The Museum of London. He was making a case for public funding to support what is increasingly becoming big science big money projects that involve many hundreds of scientists across the world. Detectors and image capturing devices are scaling up and new sophisticated technology means the amount of data captured is beyond human undertaking to analyse and requires huge resources to process all the information. We can reach further and further out into the unknown searching for answers to the big questions of existence. This vastness is awe inspiring but also daunting and so he aims to bring the human scale back into space exploration and make accessible a world that is often described with unfamiliar and obtuse language. He has written a book ‘The Edge of the Sky’ using only the 1,000 most common English words. 1603 Trotta .jpgThis approach not only simplifies huge concepts for a younger audience but gives everyone a pause to think about language.  The tourist visiting new places may not have the word to describe an unfamiliar object and so must find a way to describe it using known language. This is an effective way of opening up new interpretations and perspectives and encouraging curiosity to discover and explore the unknown.

Moving in unknown territories borders are blurred. Julien Charriére has erased all borders in his installation We Are All Astronauts. Using an international sandpaper made from mineral samples taken from the member states of the United Nations he has carefully eroded any geopolitical demarcations mingling the dust of our homelands. We have the same origins and the same destiny.

1603 Julien Charriere We Are all Astronauts

His solo show at Parasol Unit For They That Sow the Wind was an eloquent exploration of our relationship to the world of matter, its exploitation and ultimately our insignificance in the wake of  our destruction.

Towers of salt bricks mined from the ‘lithium triangle’ in Bolivia sit in geometric patterns like the remnants of an ancient civilization.

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Julian Charriere Future Fossil Spaces

Structures break down.

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The haze of devastation burnt into the landscape; a legacy from 456 nuclear tests carried out by the Soviet Union between 1949 and 1989 in Kazakhstan.

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Julien Charriere Polygon

A solitary Charrière stands for all of us as he actively melts ice beneath his feet with a blowtorch.

1603 Julien Charriere The Blue Fossil Entropic Series

Julien Charriere The Blue Fossil Entropic Stories

It may be too late to protect the environment, now we must put our energy into creating protected environments.

1603 Julien Charriere Tropisme

Julien Charriere Tropisme

Plant species around since the Cretaceous period are shock-frozen in liquid nitrogen and preserved in refrigerated containers. The ice patterns appearing over the inside glass of the vitrines cast beautiful veils that threaten to obscure our view. Nature is blocking us out.

It hardly seems any time since I was setting up our RCA interim show at Café gallery Projects and yet here I am visiting the current second years exhibition DIS PLAY having stepped on out into the wider world. This year because they have taken on so many more students the show was mixed across the years to balance numbers.

Great texture and pallid colour from Emma-Jane Whitton where the tight aqueous skin of the succulent makes haptic connections with the tight skin of the salami, bursting oozing and barely contained this structure is like plastic surgery in meltdown.

This work sat well next to Randy Bretzin’s assemblage of works relating to the body and its skin at the point of rupture.

Further body references from Fei Fei Yu whose casts in aluminium of Randy Bretzin’s head lay empty and shattered. No bodily fluids here just a bed of salt left like the residue from some alchemical reduction experiment.

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The body and psyche exposed. Nothing like descending the spiral stairs to the museum at The Last Tuesday Society for a delve into the realm of mortality, sex and the fabulous.