Archives for posts with tag: Etching

The end of summer. Time for Laboratory of Dark Matters take down at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum.

1710 The Forms

During the six week exhibition and many trips to the north east where we were made so welcome I became very fond of all those involved at the museum and the dramatic backdrop of the North Yorkshire coastline. Sad to pack the work away and leave.

1710 Diazôgraphô

Boulby Mine became a familiar sight and distinct reminder of the surreal journey underground and project conception over a year ago.

1710 Boulby Mine

It was a genuine coming together of disciplines and communities which I think we all gained from. Pinning my hopes for the future on similar undertakings.

1710 CIMM and EU nostalgia

 

We are better together.

 

 

 

Straight onto making new work for Deptford X Fringe show Supposedly Predictable Phenomena with [ALLOY] artists.

1710 etching plates

Etching 12 plates, then screen printing the centre circles as 4 colour separations. The printed images are from crystal ball photographs taken out in the woods.

1710 screenprint over etch

A portal for the imagination as well as a folding in of space.

1710 screenprint on aluminium

Meanwhile I was invited by The Institute of Physics to speak at the INTERACT conference in Birmingham. I was able to participate in some interesting workshops alongside the physicists  and listen to Jim Al-Khalili and Alice Roberts in conversation about the shifting perspective of the academic world in relation to public outreach and the role of women in the sciences.

I was introduced to The Planeterrella, an incredible artificial demonstration of the Northern Lights. The aurorae are created by charged particles from the Sun travelling along the Earth’s magnetic field lines and exciting our atmosphere.

1710 Planeterrella

In this experiment most of the air is sucked out of a glass chamber to recreate the conditions about 100km up in the Earth’s atmosphere. The large sphere represents the sun and the small sphere the Earth which contains a very strong magnet to represent its magnetic field. A voltage is sent from the Sun to the Earth to recreate the solar wind which excites the electrons in the field enough to give off light at characteristic frequencies.

1710 Planeterrella 2

Listened to Gravitational Waves

1710 Gravitational Waves

and picked up a useful leaflet on cosmic rays which were first discovered by Victor Hess in 1912 using an electroscope to measure ionising radiation in the atmosphere 5300 metres up in a hot air balloon. The higher up the higher the radiation therefore the effect must be caused by something extra-terrestrial.

1710 Victor Hess

One high energy primary cosmic ray gives rise to a cascading shower of secondary particles that scatter across the earth, colliding and decaying in a constant stream. Mostly passing straight through us and the matter around us but sometimes there will be a direct hit at a subatomic level from a particle having travelled from outside our galaxy.  1704 Cosmic Trail 3

Lizzie Cannon ‘Liminal Matter’ at The University of Greenwich explored the constantly shifting dynamic of the shore and its material.  Through the process of art-making, critical reflection and dialogue; this exhibition continues Lizzie’s research to address questions around human and nonhuman agency, temporal and spatial flows of matter and meaning, and an ontological fluidity that allows for an understanding of materiality as a reciprocal and generative relationship between humans and environment.

1710 Lizzie Cannon In Transition Detail 1

Lizzie Cannon detail of the mighty In transition

Wandered the set at South London Gallery of Tom Phillips IRMA: An Opera Opus XIIB. This 1969 mini opera was drawn from Tom Phillips magnum opus which was in turn born from an idea that he would alter every page of the first book he came across for 3d. W H Mallock’s 1892 novel A Human Document thus became A Humument. 

1710 Tom Phillips

1710 Tom Philips Humument.jpg

Further wanderings during London Open House weekend led to the architectural hybrid of Lloyd’s Register.

1710 Lloyds Register Open House

Hidden within the Richard Rogers glass and steel is Collcutt’s palazzo with grand marble staircase leading to the ornate General Committee Landing dominated by The Spirit of Maritime Commerce 

1710 Spirit of Maritime Commerce

and the bronze frieze sculpted by Frank Lynn Jenkins, inlaid with silver, mother of pearl, turquoise, coral and pearl.

1710 Lloyds Register Bronze Frieze 2

1710 Lloyds Register bronze Frieze

The landing opens onto the Italianate opulence of general committee room with its barrel vaulted ceiling and more exposed left breasts of various symbolic maidens

1710 Night

Lloyd’s Register was founded in 1760 in Lloyd’s Coffee House as a means of registering the seaworthiness of wooden commercial ships sailing from British ports. An attempt to plan and predict.

A tight turnaround from ideas, to making work, to installation of Supposedly Predictable Phenomena at no format Gallery in time for Deptford X.

Very happy to be showing alongside Jessie Sheffield and Lauren Ilsley. 1710 SPP 8

This was new work that investigates the themes of sequence and consequence

1710 SPP

Contained Nascent
Acrylic, wood, water, powdered minerals.
Lauren Ilsley, 2017

Apparently linear processes, psychological and physical, are rendered unpredictable and essentially chaotic due to their inherent and entangled sensitivity.

‘Supposedly predictable phenomena’ relates to the concept that if all contributing factors could be mapped and understood, then the outcome, theoretically, should be predictable.

1710 Jessie Sheffield

FixPoint 36
Steel mesh, wood, acrylic.
Jessie Sheffield, 2017

The results of this is a calculable universe and suggests a trajectory that is not only logical but also predetermined.

1710 SPP 2

Tools for Transition
Ceramic, aluminium, wood.
Lauren Ilsley, 2017

This raises the question of the alternative – Chaos Theory, and in turn free will.

1710 SPP 7

Duodecimēns
Etched aluminium, screen print. 12 pieces.
Susan Eyre, 2017

Duodeci – 12    mēns – minds……or Twelve thoughts, one from each multiverse

1710 ssp exhibition

no format gallery space worked well for us, if slightly on the edge of the festival bounds. It faces onto Propeller Foundry with 4 floors of artist studios many of which invoke studio envy with their big windows and vast spaces. Found a few old friends in here. There was some opportunity to head out to see some of the other work on show around Deptford.

Ambient Occlusion was another excellent curation at Gossamer Fog. Muted as the first step towards the synthesis of human and computer, the attraction of virtual reality evident by the queues to experience Jakob Kudsk Steensen’s Terractic Animism. It was terrific. Hyper-real. Which cannot be conveyed in this image or the Vimeo link demo.

1710 Jakob Kudsk Steensen

Other mesmerising work was Alan Warburton’s 3 channel video Primitives

1710 Alan Warburton primitives

and Katriona Beales video with mixed media Working Table II

1710 Katriona Beales (1)

Bearspace was showing Bella Easton Breath

1710 Bella Easton

colours slipping from muted to monochrome, an enveloping tangle pieced from oil painted linen still scented with the mediums of its construction.

In the bare bones of St Paul’s House Tom Ireland placed three screens showing voyages across the sea or the galaxies. The Heavens (Deptford Observatory) places the local dockyards and observatory at the centre of the universe from which we embark.

1710 tom Ireland.jpg

New Scientist Live 2017

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Best thing I saw in some ways was these extraordinary fanged tubes of flesh that hold the clues to longevity but I did feel for them being thrust under the spotlight. Exposed. Naked indeed.

 

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1709 CIMM exhibition 1Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum exhibition brought work created for Guest Projects residency into a very different space, reinventing and presenting it in new ways.

1709 diazographoDiazôgraphô – (Wood, acrylic, digital print) has been reworked since Guest Projects. You can still see through it, but it is more reflecting; you and your surroundings are echoed in it and so it appears you are both surrounded by and surrounding the same space.

 

1709 diazographo 1

Using the dodecahedron as a motif for the universe I like this quality that draws on Dante’s description of the universe as concentric circles; that the very outer circles also appear to be enclosed by the inner circles and the relationship that this enfolding space has to a 3-sphere and Poincaré dodecahedral space. Plato described the dodecahedron as ‘a fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven ’  so it works as a metaphor for dark matter too – a phenomena that binds the galaxies together.

1709 The Forms
The Forms – (Etched aluminium) Installed in a new configuration here as a net that together would build a dodecahedron. In scientific visualisations of dark matter we see familiar organic patterns emerge; the fronds of dark matter spanning galaxies could be the spreading branches of trees or the veins under our skin. The realm of abstract thought Plato called The Forms is where ideals reside, outside the limitations of the physical world and where, if anywhere, paradise might be found.

Some work by the other Laboratory of Dark Matter artists was new, some reworked or given new context

1709 CIMM exhibition 2

Amy Gear Nudge – (Painting on unstretched canvas)  Reflecting on video footage from a Women’s Self Defence and Green Screen Workshop run in collaboration with martial arts expert Jiff Higman, the work employs the body as a tool to help describe the incomprehensible notion that only 5% of the universe is visible to us; the bodily contact through self-defence actions related to the contact scientists are hoping for when a dark matter particle ‘nudges’ the nucleus of the target element (Xenon) and causes a recoil that can be recorded.

1709 Elizabeth Murton

Elizabeth Murton Connective Matter #3 – (Porcelain paper clay, LED lights, wire, yarn), a new site specific iteration in a series creating a connective web of black yarn and illuminated ceramic objects made by spinning clay, like the spinning which forms planets, stars and galaxies from the matter of the universe. We cannot see dark matter directly, only infer it indirectly from observations such as the spin of the galaxies and gravitational lensing and so must speculate its structure and role in the universe.

1709 CIMM exhibition 3

KATE FAHEY Optimistic – (Copper and resin); Dark Adaptation – (Digital video with two channel audio) calling on lost lore and old forms of knowledge to negotiate technology and scientific advancement, the work seeks to establish a speculative relationship between dark matter, dark adaptation, the lectures of Rudolf Steiner on the practice of divining and John Carpenter’s film They Live, where the main character discovers sunglasses that reveal an alternative reality.  Dark adaptation refers to the ability of the eye to adjust to various levels of darkness and light.

1709 Daniel Clark.jpg

Daniel Clark Projected Chamber – (Giclée print) describes a potential space, a chamber that exists only through a distortion of light captured at the moment of creation.

1709 CIMM EXH.

Veil – (Pigment on archival polyester) examines ways of visualising or mapping the invisible and the transference of imagery from intriguing and unexplained sources. A vinyl cutting machine was programmed to draw with a marker pen instead of to cut, reimagining the single line engraving of the Face of Christ, known as the Sudarium of Saint Veronica, by Claude Mellan from 1649.

1709 Luci Eldridge

Luci Eldridge Untitled (Dark Matter, Reconstructed) – (3D print with silver leaf, privacy screen filter) In 2007, a group of NASA and ESA scientists led by Richard Massey constructed a three-dimensional map offering the first look at the web-like distribution of dark matter in the universe. This 3D model reassembles this data to present the invisible as a cluster of abstract forms. The intangible is objectified as a collection of shiny entities reminiscent of early sci-fi aesthetics.
Germanium Fragments I-VI – (Duotone photo-lithographs) Germanium is one of the elements often used in the detection of dark matter. The lithographs depict tiny fragments of this lustrous grey metalloid, the surfaces reflecting the dazzling lights of the scanner bed on which they were imaged. Combined, the prints and 3D model play with limits of visibility, the boundaries between surface and depth and the loss of any kind of sense of scale.

1709 Melanie King

Melanie King Cosmic Ray Oscillograph – (Phosphorescent spinning disc, solenoid, laser, data from LUX video credit: Euan James-Richards) A laser light is sporadically jolted across a rotating disc coated in phosphorescence by a solenoid translating wave form data captured from the Large Underground Xenon Dark Matter detector. The data is transformed to an audio signal using computer coding techniques and represents cosmic rays which have been detected along the way towards finding elusive dark matter. Cosmic Ray Oscillograph, Cameraless Photograph uses direct laser light onto Ilford Multigrade Resin Coated Paper Pearl.

1709 Sarah Gillett

Sarah Gillett The Case of the Gold Ring (research mapping wall) plots the discoveries made while tracing the history of her Mother’s gold ring; it’s unique personal journey as well as it’s cosmic origins. The ring becomes much more than a circle of gold as connections are made across space and time, from the boxing ring to the financial bullring and the asteroid belt.

1709 Peter Glasgow

Peter Glasgow The Indicators of Illusive Ideas – (Audio and text) frames itself as an attempted commentary, and plays with the notion of producing a commentary on something in the world. It’s about language, and format, and ways of stringing ideas together. It finds a narrative about art practice within another narrative from popular culture, speculating on making in terms of loyalty and legitimacy. It is a contemplation on the commentaries that run alongside a process; the attempts to get close to something but failing.

1709 Robert Good

Robert Good How To Know The Starry Heavens – (Text fragments) Selected text snippets from Edward Irving’s book of the same name are set on a vast dark backdrop to appear from a distance like a sparkling galaxy of stars but close up to spark our imagination with language full of wonder.1709 Cimm diazographo light

I was invited by the Institute of Physics to write a blog about Laboratory of Dark Matters  read it here –  IOP BLOG   …. The visit to Boulby Mine was a catalyst for us to develop new artworks reflecting our personal responses to dark matter research and the broader issues it touches upon…

1709 talks promo

As a satellite event to the exhibition at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum we had additional sponsorship from the Institute of Physics to host an afternoon of talks at Whitby Museum as part of their summer sessions initiative to bring the arts and science together in a public forum. Emma Meehan from Boulby Underground Laboratory introduced a video tour of the facility led by Chris Toth who gave an entertaining and informative account of life 1100m below ground and the experiments that take place there.

Sara Gillett delivered her performative lecture ‘The Case of the Gold Ring’ that animates and coalesces her research presented in the exhibition and Dr Cham Ghag gave another of his incredible accessible lectures on what dark matter is not, what it might be and how it might be detected.

We were also joined by Dr Sarah Casey, artist collaborator in the brilliant project Dark Matters – Interrogating thresholds of (Im)perceptibility through Theoretical Cosmology, Fine Art & Anthropology of science,  an exciting study into radical imperceptibility or more specifically, the provocations and challenges presented to theoretical cosmology, fine art and anthropology of science, by entities, forces and dimensions that currently (or perhaps will always) exceed human and technological modes of sensing and comprehension.

1709 dark matters video

Encounters at the thresholds of human understanding, sensing, knowing, or the possibilities of relationship with the nonhuman – and the vulnerability and exhilaration that these cause – are intrinsic to the project’s methodology. On the one hand, claims from cosmology that 95% of the universe is made up of invisible dark matter and dark energy, or that it is possible to mathematically predict the existence of many more dimensions than we are aware of in our known and knowable universe, presents immediate challenges for all three disciplines as they play at the limits of sensibility and relationality with regards to human to nonhuman encounter. How to think and practice with these provocations? On the other hand a different set of challenges are inevitably posed by the complexities and endless possibilities for (mis)understandings by interdisciplinary conversation.

1709 Sarah Casey 1

Sarah Casey

For the theoretical cosmologist, when faced with the imperceptible, the imperative is to produce and contest evidence – to ultimately reveal the imperceptible or negotiate the status of the role of speculation. For the artist, the interest lies in interrogating thresholds between the seen and unseen, known, unknown and unknowable, through art practice to enable critical and poetic reflection. For the anthropologist, the category of the imperceptible provokes a questioning and further pushing of the limits of human subjectivity, experience and sensibility in relation to the inhumanly (un)manifest.

The excellent accompanying Dark Matters  video is deservedly shortlisted for the AHRC research film of the year.

A sensual treat while back in London was Wayne McGregor and Random International’s collaboration +/- Human at the Roundhouse. Extraordinary dancers and extraordinary machines. Uplifting. Disquieting.

1709 plus minus human

Laboratory of Dark Matters final event at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum was the dark matters themed open day with dark matter life drawing in invisible ink…

1709 CIMM Open Day dark matter life drawing

…make a dark matter particle plane and fly it to hit the xenon nucleus target……

1709 xenon nucleus target

…tours of the exhibition…..

1709 CIMM Open Day gallery tour (2)

…Robert Good reading from Edward Irving’s 1905 book How To Know the Starry Heavens. He was also encouraging visitors on the day to write their own snippets for a group collage in reply to – What do you think about when you look up at the sky at night?

1709 Robert Good 2

Lots of other activities like Hunt the WIMPS where small shapes denoting particles that were not WIMPS were hidden around the museum site  –  these could be found because they were not WIMPS…

1709 CIMM Open Day Activitiy tent

….Chris Toth and Emma Meehan from Boulby Underground Laboratory were on hand to answer the science questions and help out with a dark matter quiz…

and a final chance to see cosmic particle trails in the cloud chamber.

1709 cloud chamber1709 cosmic trail

I met Jessie Sheffield and Lauren Ilsley during a cloud chamber workshop at Guest Projects. We subsequently found we shared interests in how we perceive the world around us and I was invited to join [ALLOY] in presenting new work for the exhibition Supposedly Predictable Phenomenon at no format Gallery as part of Deptford X.

Planning new work my first thoughts were naturally Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and thinking about natural phenomena. The shape of a raindrop, bacteria, magnets, wind, water, electricity, bending light, bouncing photons, dark photons, optic boom, special relativity. I get fixated on the 12 sides of the universe and start mapping out a sequence of 12.

1708 studio test

My studio is too small. I think about decisions, prisms, scattered light. If I use steel I could use magnets. I don’t have time to etch plates and print them. I think about quantum leaps, band widths and atoms. Electrons appearing and disappearing. Moving between possible multiverses. Transforming in new configurations. Circling the nucleus. A portal. A panorama. A dopler shift. How to be random?  I throw ink soaked kitchen roll and mark the spot on twelve targets.

1709 random start points

I decide to use softground on aluminium – an unpredictable process

1709 applying softground

Charbonnel softground smells of woodsmoke. It feels right for autumn. I draw concentric circles into the wax

A satisfying peel

Nature echoing art again.

The etching process is full of rich colours and smells. Softground on aluminium in copper sulphate is a violent etch. The heat is palpable before I reach in to pull out the plate, the wax bubbles and the blue solution darkens and smokes; I pull the plate out when it feels that any longer, it might ignite

1709 etch process

it already feels cosmic

1709 removing stopout

Each plate takes a long day to prepare; sanding and degreasing, painstakingly rolling on the softground for an even coating , fixing the paper taught and drawing with enough pressure to imprint into the wax, peeling away the image with the paper and finally etching.

1709 peel and etch (1)

Aluminium has a grain that grabs any direct light and powers it into a bright band.  It seems to absorb and glow with any colour in the room. I really like this metal.

1709 test light on etch.jpg

 

So I entered that tunnel where everything blurs and I shoot through the ether at uncontrollable speeds slammed rigid as I am blasted forward barely able to make any alterations to my predestined trajectory. Those faraway deadlines have arrived. I am writing from the middle. Trying to recall events that have passed unrecorded as the avalanche of admin hits home. Yet more funding applications, press releases, ticketing sites, contracts and applying emotional balm to frayed nerves.

Laboratory of Dark Matters ACE.jpg

And now I am slung out the other side. Limp and disorientated, I will try to make sense of what just happened.

I got myself an orange boiler suit in preparation.

1703 Boulby boiler suit.jpg

I was generously given dark matter visualisation images by Ralf Kaehler and astrophysicist Tom Abel from the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), a joint institute of Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory who worked on Terrence Malick’s IMAX documentary  “Voyage of time”.

1703 dark-universe-dark-matter

From these images I created my own interpretations for screen printing sugar lift

1703 screen

The image was screen-printed on both sides of an aluminium pentagon

1703 screen detail

using a sugar lift solution of camp coffee and Indalca paste, really sticky sweet and two coats are good, allowing the first to dry before applying the second

1703 sugar lift drying

The plates are then immersed in a bitumen bath

1703 bitumen bath.jpg

the pooling of dark matter

1703 bitumen bath 2

Once dried they are put in hot water, bubbles gather and the image emerges

1703 sugarlift

ready to etch (a dodecahedron has 12 sides)

1703 ready to etch.jpg

copper sulphate that catches in the throat, salt on the lips + hot water (500g+ 500g +3l )

a light froth and a pink blush quickly spreads

1703 etching (2).jpg

fizzing and belching so that the plates must be weighted down, the copper separates out to appear as a thick red lichen to be scooped out, bath refreshed four times and after eight hours the metal erodes and restoration can begin

1703 clean up

galaxies appear as light breaks through

1703 clean up 2

In the meantime I did the first cloud chamber test to see the trails of cosmic particles.

1703 cloud chamber test

It was incredible. Mesmerizing. Captivating. So much activity going on all the time that we are unaware of.

cosmic trail 1 e

It all happens on such a small scale but draws you in to this strange landscape

cosmic trail 3 e

I have Alan Walker of The University of Edinburgh to thank for all his advice on building the chamber and for providing the anodised aluminium plate that really helps ensure a good result.

I learnt some interesting things from Paul Hill of Awesome Astronomy in his talk Dark Side of the Moon. That all the metal we use on earth has been deposited here by asteroid and other collisions from outer space – any metal that was part of the original lump of matter that became earth is trapped molten at the core. That the moon doesn’t pull but push – I am still trying to come to terms with it being me moving not the sea when the tides turn. This needs further research.

1703 intertidal.jpg

Another mind bending talk was Adventures in the 7th Dimension a UCL lunchtime talk from Dr Jason Lotay. I knew I was at the right lecture when he said one of his favourite shapes was the dodecahedron. In the 4th dimension it becomes a hyperdodecahedron made up of 120 dodecahedra. We can never really see it – it is always a projection back into 3D.

1703 hyperdodecahedron

I thought I was following, then suddenly from the 4th dimension we are in the 7th and I don’t know how I got there. Then I remembered it’s all maths. I can’t visualise this.

As you go up in dimensions there can be more symmetries. There are special symmetries that happen only in the 7th dimension. This is Holonomy G2. We don’t know how to combine quantum theory with gravity. String theory says you replace dots with lines – instead of having zero dimensions they are one dimensional. Lines can be curved, geometry can start to appear. M-theory combines all the different string theories together into one but you have to have 11 dimensions in the universe for this to work.

11 = 4 (3D + time) +7 (G2)    =  serendipity

1703 tree of codes 3

Then a different experience that was purely sensual, Tree of Codes had me in tears for sheer pleasure. Taking inspiration from Jonathan Safran Foer’s book of the same name, which was physically carved out of the pages of another novel,

1703 tree of codes

Wayne McGregor,  Jamie xx and Olafur Eliasson collaborate seamlessly

Tree of Codes

a successful cross discipline collaboration is not about sharing knowledge but about tolerating each others ignorance…in this way gaps open for others to enter

1703 hackney today.jpg

Hackney Today

Then it was time to move into Guest Projects….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big news is that Laboratory of Dark Matters has been awarded Arts Council England funding. I am still struggling to believe. We are also getting some support from the Institute of Physics for when we take the exhibition to the North East. This news is such a boost for our project and has unleashed a rush of activity, but also a torrent of admin. I had been making some progress with the sculpture.1702 Dodecahedron.jpg

Results of a day at Woodhall Barn Workshop under the steady supervision of wood wizard Christopher Hall and I am very chuffed with my dodecahedron frame.  The angles have to be cut so very accurately using a table saw and digital level to achieve the precision needed for it to fit together. It’s basically 30 identical pieces ripped from 2 x 4 pine at 31.7° and mitred at 36° and glued together. We got these top tips ‘How to make a dodecahedron the easy way’ from YouTube. It was not easy.

Reading Plato’s Timaeus and Critias I was hoping to find some more information on the relationship drawn between the dodecahedron and the cosmos but have found no further explanations. Plato describes a primitive chaos where the four elements of fire, earth, water and air formed from a turbulent mix of ‘being’, ‘space’ and ‘becoming’ to be assigned by their solid or fluid characteristics to the tetrahedron, cube, icosahedron and octahedron respectively then adds .. ‘There still remained a fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven’…it’s almost an afterthought or maybe just too illusive to elaborate on.

1702-studio

I have started the experiment with sugar lift and etching aluminium to see if I can bite right through the plate and keep the structure of the image. I screenprinted a sugar lift mixture onto the plate on both sides. The image was adapted from data visualisation of dark matter kindly supplied by Ralf Kaehler of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology.

I drenched the plate in stop-out and left it to dry before immersing in hot water which dissolves the sugar and reveals the image. It was surprising how much fine detail came through. Though one side of the plate was always better than the other – this could be due to lots of things that are hard to control accurately like concentration of sugar, thickness of stop-out, temperature of water. A primitive chaos.

1702-detail-stopoutI am etching in saline sulphate as it gives quite a deep etch into aluminium.

great colours and quite mesmerising to watch as thick red deposits appear

1702-etching-process

Chemistry at work, lot of bubbles and heat. Several hours later after lots of dips, touch up of stop-out and fresh saline sulphate baths, light begins to appear through the plate

Cleaned up to see the results and decide where to go from here

The cloud chamber is also coming along. With the help of next door cutting my wood I have assembled the box. Even the insulation for the dry ice is cosmic.

1702-cloud-chamber-box

Had an interesting day listening to panel discussions and talks at Belief and Beyond Belief on the South Bank. Topics covered were Science versus Religion: Do We Need to Choose? ; Quantum Theology: When Faith Meets Science; The Big Bang and Beyond; God of the Gaps. Religion and science ask the same questions but have different mechanisms to answer those questions.

1701-shadows

These were some of the points discussed – When we look to understand the human condition and question the meaning of life, what truth are we seeking? The scientists present seemed more content to live in doubt but appreciated aspects that religion offered such as community, emotional beliefs and quiet reflection. The difficulty for scientists was in accepting that religions think they are based on truth. This religious truth comes from faith and cannot be tested as the argument is that God is beyond definition and therefore transcends understanding. It may be that searching for answers to resolve uncertainty is a survival trigger that persists as a craving in the human condition. .

1608 Paradise Row 7

The methodology of science is devised to look at facts unbiased, it has no moral or ethical framework. A theory in science is not a hypothesis. The scientists said they get frustrated by people saying they don’t ‘believe’ in their theory when they are based on facts. A theory may begin with a lot of intuition and wondering and develop like an artistic process of discovery within parameters; but then there is lots of testing, running the ideas through a sieve to filter out possible truths. A theory may start in mathematics but then is brought into the realm of language and the visual to express what we don’t understand. Georges Lemaitre in 1931 chose to explain his theory of the origin of the universe as “the Cosmic Egg exploding at the moment of the creation”; this became known as the Big Bang Theory. Pervasive metaphors colour our perceptions.

1701-seance

Science is perfectly happy to interrogate contradictory theories at the same time unlike religious belief which involves accepting one truth. All religions can’t all be right but their own belief in one truth makes it hard for them to accept a non-exclusivity of truths. Science cannot offer us all the answers. There cannot be a theory of everything, there must always be a gap in our understanding because to understand everything we would have to be omniscient – to look in from the outside. Or step outside of our own subjectivity. Thinking about this I went back to look at Schrödinger’s Mind and Matter, particularly his chapter Science and Religion which asks if science can help answer the questions of a possible eternity. Plato was the first to frame the idea of a timeless existence, more real than our actual existence which he saw as a shadow from some realm of ideas. He looked at the patterns in mathematics and geometry embedded in the structures around him that were determined by reason and logic and concluded that mathematical truth is timeless; discovery of it does not bring it into existence, it never changes and goes on forever. Schrödinger opens up further ideas on the indestructibly of the mind using the theories of space/time from Einstein and world view from Kant. This moves into more mind bending ideas, that theoretically time can be reversed. Here I struggle. The theories when pulled from mathematics into language sound fantastical, yet I am asked to believe mathematics is a truth. Then we come to the quantum world where observation and measurement do not apply. And so on.

1701 Soul Searching ve 1.jpg

Conclusions were: Our consciousness is the intrinsic unknown. We have to seek paradise even if it is unachievable and live our lives in a precarious state of doubt.

Analogies can be made, replacing religion with art. Making in Transit hosted an evening at Cube exploring art and science in collaborative situations to discuss the strengths and challenges in bringing them together. ‘Both physics and art thrive on the premise that there is structure as well as genuine ambiguity and mystery in the universe and although  very different in terms of practice, they both depend on an ability to visualise or conceptualise abstract notions and patterns.

There was an introduction to the world of Jiggling Atoms, a collaboration of scientists and artists who bring fun to workshops and experiments in arts and physics. Named after the visual interpretations of maths formula from Richard Feynman they display the same constant energy.

1702-feynman-diagram

Dr Daniel Glaser the director of the new Science Gallery London made the point that a successful collaboration is not so much about sharing knowledge but about tolerating each others ignorance, in this way a gap can be opened up for those who know nothing about either field to enter. The role of each party isn’t always clear or equal. He suggested the platonic ideal of ‘the essence’ was something artists could extract and Dr Chiara Ambrosio  suggested art should question the boundaries of science. Her interests are in the use of images to produce knowledge such as when high speed photography or microscopes revealed the secrets of the natural world. It was not as symmetrical as we supposed.

I returned the next day for an evening Imaging the Invisible to explore how we observe what we can’t see. Scientists and artists gave their perspectives on the invisible and how it operates in their own spheres. Bernard Siow and Yolanda Ohene from the Centre for Biomedical Imaging at UCL were passionate about the body imaging technologies they are developing, enabling extraordinary visualisations such as the muscle fibres of the heart.

Artist Dave Farnham has created sculptures through 3D print technologies that replicated internal structures from his friends who were going through medical scanning procedures due to illness.

Particle physicist Dr Ben Still introduced us to the world’s largest cosmic particle observation device The Super Kamiokande, set 1,000m underground in Japan.

1702 credit Kamioka observatory, ICRR.jpg

Using 50,000 tons of ultra-pure water as a target to detect neutrinos. The quantity is to increase the chances of a collision.  A neutrino interaction with the electrons or nuclei of water can produce a charged particle that moves faster than the speed of light in water. This creates a cone of light known as Cherenkov radiation, which is the optical equivalent to a sonic boom. The neutrino is a subatomic particle able to travel through matter without interacting, they have no electric charge and almost zero mass.

Lead is what we think of as most impenetrable. A lead lined coffin for Alexander Litvinenko. However it would take a light-year of lead, to stop just half of the neutrinos flying through it.

Anselm Kiefer Walhalla at White Cube Bermondsey weights the air with lead. We are in the lead coffin.

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Alternative materiality at Chain by 15 an artist led exhibition in Peckham presented an Itchy and Scratchy world brought together by the Pokémon generation.

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The Head Must Go cross stitch on linen by the uncompromising talent Hadas Auerbach was a delicate and poignant highlight.

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Enjoyed the beautifully staged performance  –Venus Anadyomene -a collaborative 3 channel video and performance by Verity Birt, Holly Graham and Richard Forbes Hamilton; part of ongoing research around de-colonising histories, feminist narrative and collective voice.

The layering of voices, looping narrative and rhythmic pulse hooked into lost voices of history transporting the audience into a dreamlike territory.

I was invited by Lumen:School of Light to show everydaymatters at Ugly Duck for a weekend showcase of artists who explore the relationship between astronomy and light.

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everydaymatters dissects landscapes to discover the hidden structures of the universe.

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Images taken from everyday prosaic paradises such as Paradise Road, Stockwell and Paradise Row Bethnal Green, are divided into constituent proportions of dark energy, dark matter and the visible world opening the spaces between what is seen and unseen.

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Anna Gray’s water filled glass sculpture gave endless pleasure

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the mini planetarium experience from Sylvana Lautier, Rose Leahy and Kim Yip Tong was blissful immersion

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Spaceheads & Rucksack Cinema multi media performance was funky

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Was quite energising to set up and take down over one weekend with lots going on

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After months of anticipation we finally crammed into the miners cage and made the 7 minute descent 1100m below ground to visit the Dark Matter Research Facility at Boulby Mine near Whitby on the dramatic north east coast.

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Led by astrophysicist Dr.Chamkaur Ghag and his colleagues Emma Meehan and Chris Toth we were transported to a hot and dusty world beyond the reach of cosmic rays and background radiation that would distract from the search for the illusive dark matter particles.

Kitted out in orange boiler suits, heavy boots, hard hats, safety goggles, ear defenders, shin pads and tool belt we were inducted into the safety procedures and alerted to the hazards of life underground. The most alarming was the  instruction on use of the self rescuer (a metal box containing breathing apparatus that converts carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide) ‘better to use in doubt than die in error’. Only three breathes of deadly carbon monoxide and you are unconscious, possibly dead.

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On descent there is a series of air locked passages to pass through, ears popping before stepping out into the vast network of tunnels that extends over thousands of kilometres under the sea. With our headlamps dimmed here is total darkness.

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We walk 20 minutes to visit the original research laboratory now being ripped diagonally in half by the slow liquid like movement of the salt walls sliding against a fault line.

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The floor and ceiling are ruptured and so the highly sensitive equipment is being moved to a new purpose built reinforced steel clad lab.

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From the abandoned clutter of past experiments we cross another grimy passage to enter the pristine white cavernous space of the new laboratories.

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Still in the process of being equipped and put into full use we can only see a small part of what will go on here.

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Behind the blank face of the technology in large metal containers sprouting many wires and screens with data passing across in repeating wavering lines is the ongoing hope to witness a tiny scintillation of light that can be identified as the result of a collision of a dark matter particle in the target matter of pure Xenon.

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The three hours underground pass very quickly as we are in constant awe at what we see and hear about the extraordinary past and present projects that take place in this hidden arena. 1605 dmboulby detector

Prohibited from taking anything battery powered below we rely on borrowing a lab camera to take a few snaps before we have to return to the lift shaft to be hauled back to the surface this time tightly packed amongst the silent salt dusted mine workers.

We returned to the surface exhausted and full of information to assimilate. The next stage is to let this experience feed into and stimulate new work engaging with ideas of charting the unknown and extending our vocabulary and ability to interact with the matter of our universe that at present we can only surmise about through theory.

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I was delighted to be asked to show work in Aether curated by Lumen at Imperial College London. Aether is a curatorial project, focused on the philosophical aspects of astronomy and space exploration. The participating artists explore phenomena existing in outer space  considering how “invisible” objects are made tangible in the fields of both art and astrophysics.

These pieces from the everydaymatters series were inspired by the discovery that we can only see less than 5% of the matter in the universe.  Sparked by an interest in aura of place and dreams of paradise this has expanded into a fascination with how we encounter the physical and the spiritual world and the unseen activity of matter in the universe. The images, from real locations called Paradise such as Paradise Industrial Estate, Hemel Hempstead are dissected into the proportions of dark energy, dark matter and the visible world that current science believes constitutes our universe.

I have been pursuing further investigations into matter as part of  The Matter of Objects collaboration with Medieval and Renaissance research historians. This project interested me as it combined an investigation into the physical matter of objects and also more intangible things such as agency of object. I thought the Medieval period would also be interesting as a time when science and religion clashed as being the source of truth. I was paired with PhD researcher Bruno Martinho based at the European University Institute in Florence. His work explores the consumption of non-European objects on the Iberian Peninsula during the second half of the sixteenth century. Something I had never considered. The object he chose for me to respond to was a C16th Fall-fronted cabinet probably made in Gujarat for a Portuguese merchant. This work has taken me in unexpected and new directions.

At first I thought I may only experience this object as a digital image so was pleased to discover it was at the V&A and I could visit it and get a sense of scale and materiality. The most striking thing about the cabinet are the patterns. I could see the incredible detail, the minute pieces and precision in the workmanship.

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I think it is hard to connect to an object when you can’t touch it. It’s tantalizing not being able to open the drawers – they are tied shut just in case you are tempted to try.  At least it’s not behind glass so you can get up close and sniff it. I learnt from Bruno about its heritage from a mixture of cultural traditions seen combined in the patterns (European, Islamic, Indian) and materials (tropical woods, ivory). These cabinets were highly sought after at the time, they were the latest must have item to show wealth and status. An object of beauty, rarity and symbolism; commissioned, bought, sold and smuggled. They became part of 16th Century life but not always in a good way. A play “The Avaricious Cabinet” written at the height of the cabinets popularity criticized the hoarding practices it encouraged in merchants that were causing stagnation of the Portuguese economy. It could be written today about the unpopularity of the avaricious banker who dodges his taxes and is more concerned with his own wealth than the welfare of society at large.

The cabinet’s basic function was to store expensive objects, such as jewels or money, and important documents, like contracts or letters, and also all sorts of personal items such as lace and porcelain. There were antidotes against poison (like bezoar stones or unicorn horns), perfumes (made of musk extracted from Asian civet cats), coral (to make toothpaste), and also rosaries made of jet (that was believed to protect against melancholia). These appear as alchemical and mysterious objects today adding to the sense of mystique that surrounds the cabinet.  The warm tones, exotic aromas and smooth surfaces made using the cabinet an intimate and sensual experience.

The idea of using spices came from my conversation with Bruno about the aroma the cabinet would give off from the exotic woods it was made from and the smells it would absorb from its contents and surroundings. I thought of the mix of cultures that came together to produce this object, the markets of India and Spain and all those places in between. I made inks from ground spices and copperplate oils to fill the etching plates that would operate as markers of the route from Asia to Europe along the spice route.

I hoped that as the viewer leans in they will smell the spices and the colours would be natural and earthy like the materials used in the cabinet.

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I wanted to try and include something personal into the work about this particular cabinet but so much is a mystery. The V&A don’t hold a lot of information about its personal history. They sent me the purchase order and had a look to see if there were patterns inlaid inside the drawers – there are not. So the history of who this little cabinet belonged to and the items it stored seems lost. All that we know is it made the journey 500 years ago when navigating across the globe was reliant on reading the stars.

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containment –  60 x 60 cm,  screenprint on board, etched aluminium, spices

 

This one object that potentially holds so many other objects all with their own reasons for being, the trail is endless and diverse. After many weeks of conversation it was good to finally meet Bruno at the event at Queen Mary University and to see work produced by the other collaborators. Everyone felt it had been a worthwhile experience opening up new ways of thinking on both sides. The exhibition was then taken to the extraordinary setting of  Barts Pathology Museum where matter and objects have a very direct conversation.

1605 containment Barts Pathology Musuem

I went to the Materials Library for their Pigments, Paint, Print event.

1605 pigmentsThere were various minerals on hand that can be used to grind into pigments but we were only offered synthetic materials to make into ink and ready made inks to print with so wasn’t quite what I hope for but I did get to see aerogel.

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This was like looking at little pieces of sky or transluscent mini icebergs. Apparently NASA uses this – the lightest material on earth, to collect stardust in the tails of comets. It looks a bit like a very fine mesh yet is brittle and very fragile and also very expensive.

Helena Pritchard’s show Encounters at T.J. Boulting was a dialogue between materiality and light, the play of one off the other created in collaboration with Ilenia Bombardi.

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Mesh cloyed with plaster scattering light to create movement, light bouncing from projectors and splitting into spectrums.

Spencer Finch ‘The Opposite of Blindness’ at Lisson Gallery is also an investigation into light –  how it hits the back of our retina to burn images into our mind which hover beyond our ability to physically recreate them. What we see and what we imagine take place in the same arena.

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Spencer Finch Sunrise (Mars)

There are paintings made up of concentric dots that animate themselves as our restless eyes dance over their surface creating ever changing patterns

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Spencer Finch Sunflower (Bee’s View)

then as relief, soft grey fog to wade into. The paintings, like after burn on the retina, are pared back to leave just the essential essence that Finch wishes to convey.

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Spencer Finch Fog (Lake Wononscopomac)

Finch has taken light recordings from the Pathfinder unmanned mission to Mars and recreated the exact colour tone of a sunrise as would be experienced on the red planet.

Photographic images created from space agency data by Micheal Benson in Otherworlds: Visions of our solar system at The Natural History Museum  included one of the sun setting on Mars.

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Tracing space exploration from the first images in 1967 to the present day his aim is to create images as close as possible to what the human eye would see were we able to travel to the far reaches of the solar system.

1606 Francis Upritchard Orrery IV

Francis Upritchard Orrery IV

The speakers at Tate Talks New Materialisms: Reconfiguring the Object were considering how investigating materials can stimulate new ways of thinking. Francesco Manaconda gave an overview of his curatorial explorations into how materials can be presented in new ways by imagining viewing an exhibition from the perspective of an alien in Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art and Radical Nature which focused on our relationship with nature. Anne-Sophie Lehmann and Iris Van Der Tuin discussed the importance of material literacy and the exactitude required in differentiating between materials, matter, materiality and materialisms. It is important that if we are to understand the matter that surrounds us we must test the resistance of the materials we encounter.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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…’

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

 

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.

1603 anti proton imaging.jpg

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.

1512 darkest matter

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.

1601 Venice Katherina Grosse  (2)

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.

1601 Venice France Celeste Boursier-Mougenot (2).jpg

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.

 

 

 

 


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.

Been spending a lot of time in the etching workshop.
It all started with a photo of Paradise Forum shopping mall in Birmingham.
Everyone looked so pissed off – yet if they just looked beyond to the cosmos, wouldn’t they be dazzled.
I thought the two girls on the steps looked like they had their feet dangling in space, that they were sitting on the edge of something, awaiting their escape.

Of course the word Forum conjures up ideas of a Roman Forum, from which I segue to amphitheatre, a place of gathering, like a shopping mall. A sense of history of construction, of public space.
This small exert of life on earth in fadeout – a temporal moment.

Paradise Forum B3

Paradise Forum B3

I listened to Bill Viola being interviewed about his current retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris which I hope to visit shortly. He talks about the brevity of our lives and how it is really important to leave behind some knowledge or some new thing for the next generation, it can be something really simple. Through knowledge we gain transformation. But beware, too much information can become a pollution and we have to separate out the unnecessary bombardment of advertising and media sources from the good stuff that enriches us.

1404 Bill Viola

Also looking at  the work and ideas of James Turrell. His formless landscapes of light with no object, no image and no focus leaves us only with an awareness of ourselves looking and an experience only felt otherwise in dreams, meditation or near death experiences. I can remember my visit to Gagosian a few years back to see Dhatu – staring into a pink misty void, anticipating angels.

 

JAMES TURRELL  Dhātu, 2010

JAMES TURRELL
Dhātu, 2010

 

In ‘Once Upon a Time’ Steve McQueen presents 116 images from Karl Sagan’s Golden Record which was launched into space in 1977 to enlighten any extraterrestrials about life on earth. McQueen overlays geographical images and scientific diagrams with the sounds of people speaking in tongues. The highly factual with the highly emotional – potentially equally indecipherable to aliens but showing an alternative side to human nature other than the one NASA documented.

Steve McQueen - Once Upon a Time

Steve McQueen – Once Upon a Time

In ‘The Dry Salvages’ Elisabetta Benassi presents 10,000 bricks made from clay taken from the 1951 Polesine flood area (one of the largest natural disasters in Italy) that are printed with the names and codes of the largest space debris orbiting the earth.

1404 Elisabetta Benassi (2)

Elisabetta Benassi – The Dry Salvages

Power of nature, power of nations.

Elisabetta Benassi - The Dry Salvages

Elisabetta Benassi – The Dry Salvages

The regeneration of matter. The impossibility of control.