Archives for posts with tag: geometric

First outing with the crystal ball into quasi countryside creating mini worlds.

Learnt an important lesson about the intensity of the sun + polished glass. Within seconds of putting the ball on a bench the wood was furiously smoking. I left a series of charred marks behind and have decided to keep the sphere in its box when not in use.

 

The mysteries of the sun was the focus of the exhibition The Green Ray at Wilkinson Gallery curated by Andrew Hunt.

1604 Le Rayon Vert

A momentary green flash visible at sunset when atmospheric conditions combine with light refraction is a rare and fêted phenomenon that inspired the novel by Jules Verne and Eric Rohmer’s film. Witnessing the green ray purportedly bestows powers of insight and perception. The poeticism of such a moment is captured in this text piece RIFT>GLYPH by Sophie Sleigh-Johnson

1604 Sophie Sleigh-Johnson

1604 Jeffrey Dennis

Jeffrey Dennis The Green Ray

1604 Anna Barriball

Anna Barriball Sunrise/Sunset XII

1604 Daniel OSullivan

Daniel O’Sullivan Palm Beach

1604 The Green Ray Phil Coy Yellowed Sun

Phil Coy Yellowed Sun

At MIT they have their own henge sunset celebration when the sun is in alignment and sweeps the length of a corridor. Yuri Pattison’s installation Sleepless Synonyms, Sleepless Antonyms uses this natural phenomenon occurring at a technological site to make connections between natural and screen light and the psychological  effects of sleep deprivation while wafting us with Sweet Dreams vaporised melatonin.

Terra Tremula at Lubomirov/Angus Hughes Gallery was a show about instability and tenuous balance. I was particularly drawn to the glossy striated surfaces of Paul Manners paintings. Caught somewhere between peering out and peering in. I must have some primordial fixation with the circle.

Juilette Losq’s muddle of undergrowth is slightly claustrophobic yet like all the best fairy tales also inviting. Strange abandoned structures are being entwined, obscured, pulled under. She sets up a tension in a quiet space and leaves you there.

1603 Terra Tremula Juliette Losq

Shelagh Wakely Spaces Between Things at Richard Saltoun Gallery could be described as barely there and likely to disappear at any moment. Fragile, ephemeral materials, translucent papers, jittery images, loose threads, sprung wires make a tenuous hold on materiality.

1604 Shelagh Wakely (1)

Shelagh Wakely’s work has a lightness that Richard Deacon expresses beautifully when he says that her work helped him come to ‘the realisation that an object could share space rather than occupy it.’

This is something that is also apparent in the work of Maud Cotter seen at Domo Baal in the her exhibition Matter of Fact.

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Maud Cotter Litter Bin

Everyday items and materials are opened up in space allowing us a glimpse into the complexity of structure in the world around us. What at first glance appears to be basketry turns out to be tightly packed lengths of spliced corrugated cardboard arranged in geometric patterns. The secrets of the universe are held in the simplest of building blocks.

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Maud Cotter Matter of Fact

The Subterranean Saturday event at Conway Hall presented 3 speakers on the subject of exploring underground. Scott Wood gave an idea of the sort of myths that circulate relating to the London Underground system and the origin of those stories which appear and reappear in modified forms throughout history. Antony Clayton the author of Secret Tunnels of England; Folklore and Fact shared his knowledge of where to go to find a tunnel system to explore and the myths that have built up around some of these spaces. It’s astonishing how much of the ground has been burrowed through.

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Gary Lachman’s talk was called The Occult Underground but it was much broader than that and I was interested in the analogies he made between matter and consciousness and how the tunnel plays a part in transcendental states of mind. Tunnel vision experienced when in a trance like state is said to have nested curve lines that give the impression of entering a tunnel in the mind and shamanic tunnelling is performed to enter the spirit world.

1604 vision

Entoptic phenomena are forms that originate within the human visual system. There has been research into the similarity of these geometric patterns that appear on our inner eyes when they are closed and the sort of shapes and marks made in paintings by societies that practise altered states of consciousness through religious, shamanistic or drug induced means often in the dark depths of caves. Our physiognomy hasn’t changed in 40,000 years so we can still experience floating shapes within our eyes, how we respond to these optical hieroglyphs depends on our culture and transcendental interpretations.

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The research of Raymond Moody in the 70’s into the Near-Death Experience of people who had experienced clinical death discovered that many experienced shared features, such as the feeling of being out of one’s body, the sensation of traveling through a tunnel, encountering dead relatives, and encountering a bright light and often returning with a new found faith in an afterlife. This inspired Moody to build a psychomanteum replicating the practice of the ancient Greeks who would sit in a dimly lit room staring into a mirror to consult with the apparitions of the dead. Moody calls his psychomanteum The Dr. John Dee Theater of the Mind. He has written a more recent appraisal of his work ‘Paranormal’ looking back at his fascination with death and beyond in which he writes;

“I felt the question of the afterlife was the black hole of the personal universe: something for which substantial proof of existence had been offered but which had not yet been explored in the proper way by scientists and philosophers.”

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There are many theories past and present sparked by the concept of the tunnel and Lachman mentioned quite a few in passing.  The birth canal being our first encounter with a tunnel which according to Otto Rank was also our most painful trauma which we spend the rest of our lives trying to recover from. Stanislav Grof is also captivated by the idea of passage through stages of perinatal matrices before we are born.

1412 Her

Her

The tunnel takes us underground to the underworld, in ancient Egyptian mythology to Duat, the realm of the dead where the sun god Ra goes every night. In Greek mythology to the domain of Hades and Persephone and the journey of poet and musician Orpheus to rescue his wife Eurydice.

1605 persephone

The theme of a sunken, subterranean, and secret chamber is found in many secret societies. The early Roman cult of worship that centred around the god Mithras made its temples underground. The powers of Mithras are celebrated in his dragging a bull down into a cavern and slaughtering it with a sword then feasting with the sun god in this underground sacrificial place.

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Mithras requires seven steps to initiation which relate to the seven planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Luna, Sol, Saturn.

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The planets also figure in legends surrounding the tomb of Christian Rosenkreutz founder of the Rosicrucian Order whose interred body is said to have been preserved for 120 years in a heptagonal vault lit by a miniature sun with the Alchemical motto: V.I.T.R.I.O.L.  – Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem – “Visit the interior of the Earth; by rectification thou shalt find the hidden stone.”

The mysteries of what may be discovered underground, caverns of light, treasure, the philosopher’s stone inspire the imagination and feed into mystical tales such as The Manuscript Found in Saragossa, a collection of interconnecting fantastical tales involving an underground society by Polish Count Jan Potocki who tragically committed suicide as he feared he was turning into a werewolf.

On a visit to southern Italy in 1638, the ever-curious Athanasius Kircher was lowered into the crater of Vesuvius then on the brink of eruption, in order to examine its interior.  His geological and geographical investigations culminated in his Mundus Subterraneus of 1664, in which he suggested that the earth’s tides were caused by water moving to and from a subterranean ocean.

1605 tidal

Trained in law rather than science John Cleves Symmes  was a proponent of The Hollow Earth Theory  publishing a circular in 1818  – I declare the earth is hollow, and habitable within; containing a number of solid concentrick spheres, one within the other, and that it is open at the poles 12 or 16 degrees; I pledge my life in support of this truth, and am ready to explore the hollow, if the world will support and aid me in the undertaking.

The hollow earth theory was popular with novelists and science fiction writers such as  John Uri Lloyd who wrote the Etidorpha ( Aphrodite spelt backwards) series of books relating a journey to the earth’s core.  Jules Verne ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ being the most well known of the genre and although inspired by recent geological discoveries was also perhaps written in the vein of a journey of self discovery.

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ANATHEMA – distortion/displacement/the other. The programme of artists films screened at Danielle Arnaud’s gallery was curated by Anne Duffau as the first in a series of events by A—Z, a platform to explore various unstable potentials that lead from the idea of entropy.

Zina Saro-Wiwa Phyllis

Laure Prouvost We Know We Are Just Pixels

1604 Laure Prouvost

Jordan Wolfson Animation,masks

Tai Shani The Vampyre

Even if the post human was addressed via the digital all were films that get under your skin.

In other rooms of the gallery a skin was forming over pools of tinted cough syrup slowly evaporating from smooth concrete surfaces leaving chemical residues in Robery Cervera’s Drawn reservoirs.

Larger than life images of limbs and torsos are draped over scaffolding as though hung out to dry by Alix Marie in Hanged, hung, numb. The sharp resolution gives fascinating detail to every hair and pore, crease and blister of skin, naked and exposed thrown together in a haphazard mingling of flesh.

The works showing in ICHOR share a sense of the unheimlich.  As ‘ichor’ could be the discharge from a weeping wound or the golden fluid running through the veins of the gods so the films screened in ANATHEMA and the works in ICHOR carry both possibilities of visceral mortality and mythical powers.

 

 

 

 

 

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My interest in what we can and can’t see in our environment led me to think about the substance of matter.

1601 sphere

At the Shadow without Object symposium the idea of a dematerialized world and how we record it was raised in Duncan Wooldridge’s paper Some Notes on a New Realism: Relocating Representation in the Technical Image. Once when we learnt to negotiate our relationship with the world visibility equalled presence. When representing the world it was with graphite, paint, film and emulsions that were all material objects. Now the world has dematerialized. The digital image is not made or transposed in the same way. This opens up other ways of visualising the world. To visualise through transformation.

We can tap into new technologies to see things that previously were obscured from us.

1601 Trevor Paglen

Trevor Paglen

STSS-1 and Two Unidentified Spacecraft over Carson City (Space Tracking and Surveillance System; USA 205) C-Print

Trevor Paglen’s The Other Night Sky is a project to collect evidence of classified American satellites, space debris, and other obscure objects in orbit around the earth with the help of an international network of amateur satellite observers. The position and timing of overhead transits are calculated, observed and photographed with telescopes and large-format cameras and other imaging devices.

For what we can see we are dependent on photons bouncing off some matter and hitting a receptor, in our eyes or in our equipment. For what we can’t see we rely on recording some disruption in the path of those photons.

Erik Kessels work is a reminder of how dependent we are on the technical abilities of our eyes or equipment. In almost every picture #9 is a collection of found photographs of one family’s endearing attempts to photograph the family pet, a black Alsatian. Their camera’s limitations meant that the dog always appeared as a black featureless shape.

As technology advances we are able to record more accurately. But we still find instabilities, no process is error free.

Matter refuses to be reliable. Giacomo Raffaelli has been researching how weights and measures are standardised across the globe and presented his discoveries in a paper Non-standard Uncertainties: Experiments in Current Visual Conditions of the Kilogram Standards.

1601 Standard kg

In the late 1800’s identical cylinders were manufactured from Platinum Iridium and stored across the world encapsulated under three bell jars. These were to act as standard units of mass. Britain holds model no 18. Periodically these units are tested for mass and compared with those stored in other countries. Some have been found to be gaining mass at different rates to others. This is fascinating to think these sealed solid objects have all this activity going on that can’t be seen but becomes evident when measured. In response to this discovery the National Physical Laboratory is doing research to redefine the kilogram as a standard number of atoms.

Within their laboratories NPL hold a polished silicon crystal sphere – the most perfect sphere on earth.  Raffaelli wanted to relocate this seductive object from the laboratory where it functioned simply as a measure. The only way he would be allowed to achieve this reimagining would be via an image. First he tried green screen, then 3D imaging, then an optical scanner, then a nautical scanner in the dark and finally a laser scanner that detects points of volume but none of these technologies could capture the sphere.

1601 shadow without object

Giacomo Raffaelli With Relative Uncertainty

Hand crafted and hand polished to perfection this crystal ball completely resisted the process of digitization.

Reporters from The Londonist website had a similar problem ;

1601 John Dee at British Museum

John Dee’s mystical artefacts at the British Museum

At the front of the picture above, you can see Dee’s crystal ball. We tried several times to take a close-up shot, but neither of our cameras could get a sharp fix. It is obviously haunted.

The ability to focus is something Marco Maggi encourages in his installation Global Myopia II.  The ability to see from very close allows one to focus on what at a distant glance may be missed. At first the room might look empty.

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Marco Maggi

Close up, a world in miniature appears in the form of grids and geometric shapes like paper circuitry which can read as encoded information, routes of transmission, architectural plans or space age archaeological sites.

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Marco Maggi

Joseph Cornell was able to poetically record places he never visited. He was a collector of journeys captured in little boxes. I was very inspired by the Wanderlust exhibition at the Royal Academy having always been keen on small worlds to peer into.

1601 Jospeh Cornell A Parrot For Juan Gris

Joseph Cornell
A Parrot for Juan Gris

Constructed with found artefacts, maps and letters these enigmatic worlds are catalysts to the exotic, that which is always just out of reach.

1601 Joseph Cornell The Clockwork Utopia

Joseph Cornell Clockwork Utopia

On opening an atlas or looking at a map you must interpret the information and relate it to the world at large. Through her series Victory Atlas Elena Damiani aids us in those leaps we make in our minds to the tropical shores or glacial rocks which are signified by a few lines and coloured shapes. I found her work really interesting.

The group show COLLABORATORS 4 presented by Roaming Room at their current mews premises was a beautifully curated invitation to ponder materiality and the many ways we record the world and visualise our responses to it. Participating artists can be found here. I was particularly drawn to the small installation of Alexandra Hughes which beamed light through tiny images roughly embedded in clay portals.

1601 Roaming Room Alexandra Hughes

Alexandra Hughes East’s Blue Clayoto

I have always liked Ambrosine Allen’s intricate assemblages  constructed from slicing up national geographic publications.

1601 Ambrosine-Allen Retreating Glacier

Ambrosine Allen Retreating Glacier

The piece by Dunhill and O’Brien made me think of those first measurers that Raymond Williams writes about in his novel People of The Black Mountains who took a rod and every night went out to the hills to watch the rise and set of the moon.

1601 Dunhill-and-OBrien Stone Appreciation

Dunhill and O’Brien Stone Appreciation (Rostrevor)

 

First came the sound and the sign, then came the word – which turned into image and overtook the gaze. The sign, turned into figure, sought ways to become perpetual – quipus, incisions in clay boards, traces left by chisels on rocks, ink on papyrus or paper, then neon signs, LEDs, and many other technologies.  – Oscar Sotillo Meneses writing on the work of Argelia Bravo which celebrates the words, signs, gestures and poetry that interweave the historical evolution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela but can be recognised the world over.

1601 Venice venezuala