Archives for posts with tag: Gordon Cheung

Settling in. I have moved into a shared studio right next to the newly branded Thames-Side Print Studio at Woolwich.  I have a great studio partner, Kim Vousden who works as a graphic designer with a foot in the digital camp and hands on in the analogue world of letterpress. I switched to my new location just in time for Open Studios so it felt like a moving in party.

During Open Studios the on site gallery was host to a sculpture showcase from the resident studio artists.

Three sculptures from my everydaymatters series exploring what we can and cannot see in our environment were included.

In my studio space I set up submīrārī – floating images that invite a primordial contemplation of a dreamlike space and hint at the usually invisible molecular movement in water. I would love the opportunity to fill a room with these.

Here Be Dragons– Gordon Cheung’s show at Nottingham Castle is a timely reminder of the fragile structures we build our world upon. The volatility of the market, the inevitability of mortality, façades and fading glory. I visited before June 23rd but it could have been a premonition of the dis – integration we have witnessed since.

The moving image works loop through collapse and reassembly in an infinite cycle so maybe I should take hope from this that we can rebuild our world. Other scenarios are captured in stasis as they fall like sand from the sky. Beauty of entropy.

1606 Gordon Cheung 1

There are also magical vistas, the open plains and misty mountains of hopes and dreams. In these works we see how the world is put together and can question what our dreams are built on.

The digital cascading algorithm works give the impression of a world made of sand but in large textured landscapes sand itself is used to create an unstable ground. Grains cling precipitously hanging in crumbling strata from the canvas, dusting the floor with allegory as they fall.

Lumen Studios presented VOID, an exhibition held amid the airy grandeur of St. John on Bethnal Green, a pertinent setting for work exploring the representation of voids, black holes and portals.

There was also a screening of Sarah Sparkes film, Time You Need  which explores the potential for consciousness to time-travel within the material limits of the human body.

Among the works were Black Hole photographs, a typology of voids found in numerous locations around the world from Jane Grisewood.

1606 Lumen Void (14)

There was a fascinating talk from Chris Welch, Professor of Space Engineering at the International Space University in Strasbourg, France, about the representation of black holes and voids in space physics and science fiction. Black Holes are Red Super Giants that explode and collapse.

I was particularly interested to hear him speak about tidal forces within a black hole as I have just completed a soft ground etching intertidal looking at the effects of tidal gravity on the earth.

1606 intertidal.jpg

A human falling into a black hole would experience extreme tidal forces that may cause spaghettification – the stretching of the body due to the difference in acceleration between the head and feet. The smaller the black hole the denser the matter the stronger the force. He put the possibility of worm holes into the world of science fiction saying they would require the unknown quantity of negative energy to pass through a portal from one point in the universe to another. A lot of negative energy has been released lately so you never know, maybe this was the leave EU campaign’s attempt to time travel back to their mythical golden age.

A recent uplifting article from Sam Leith in The Evening Standard praised Stephen Hawking for his ambitious project to put together a comprehensive three-dimensional map of the entire known universe. The Cosmos computer will trace the movements of billions of cosmic objects, using data from the Planck satellite and the Dark Energy Survey. Leith exudes ‘What a thing of awe and wonder! And the stuff that’s not there will be even more exciting than the stuff that is. Think of the holy hush of the Canes Ventaci Supervoid – a region of empty space more than a billion light years across. It makes me think of Wallace Steven’s lines –

"the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is"

Possibilities of parallel worlds were explored by Andrew Schneider in his physical performance piece YOUARENOWHERE staged at Shoreditch Town Hall.

1606 Andrew Schneider YOUARENOWHERE

You are nowhere. You are now here. What if every time you experience near death your life splits in two, even if you just think about death, maybe you did die and another self took off in another parallel world. Setting the scene for tearing the fabric of reality he stumbles and glitches through monologue and dialogue, directly addressing the audience to commit to his unravelling of the physical world. The moment when the backcloth drops and we are face to face with another audience I shuffle to try and catch my own reflection but find no duplicated movement. The character on the newly revealed side of the stage does however mimic Schneider. They play out a dance of disbelief trying to catch the other out to discover who is real. The audience is asked to swop sides and at the next curtain drop our doppelgangers have disappeared. We are left to contemplate the fleeting glimpse of our other selves performing a similar existence.

I experienced the magical journey that is The Embrace of the Serpent in the first few days of  despair over the divided state of our country following the Brexit vote. It seems we are doomed to keep pressing the self destruct button to the bitter end. The film is stunning in its beauty and poignancy for a world being destroyed through greed and ignorance.

As in Complicite’s The Encounter our relationship to stuff is questioned. The heavy boxes of the scientists weighing down the smooth passage of the canoe. Both the Shaman and the scientists giving their own agency to objects be it a sacred necklace or a gramophone record.

 

 

 

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I have had to say goodbye to my studio space and all the other wonderful facilities and people at the RCA.

1507 studio

Lots of ideas were formulated in this little corner and I will miss it very much.

1507 studio2

I spent the last six months pretty much in the screenprinting room

1507 screenprinting

working on the mirror circles for my final show.

1507 circle

There wasn’t much time out but I did try to see some exhibitions that felt were relevant to my own concerns.

I hadn’t come across the work of Michelle Stuart before and I found her exhibition at Parafin Gallery very inspiring.

Michelle Stuart Night Over Alice Springs

Michelle Stuart Night Over Alice Springs

I was drawn to her spiritual aesthetic. The subtle use of colour and juxtaposition of images set within a grid structure bind themes together to create a whole from fragments. I like the way she uses objects, incorporating natural materials and sacred symbolism, referencing alters and rituals.

Michelle Stuart Ring of Fire

Michelle Stuart Ring of Fire

I was excited to see Diana Thater at Hauser and Wirth mostly because of the promise of seven holy ‘kunds’ – or water tanks- and waterfalls that create two tiered pools within her projected installations. I thought this might relate to my own ideas using water in my work giving some insight into water as a sacred medium.

I was disappointed. Due to poor light levels and projected image quality what should have been an immersive experience was frustrated by an awareness of ineffectual technology exacerbated by the front door repeatedly opening and  flooding the space with even more light. There were no ‘kunds’ visible. The gallery assistant thought the pools may be projected onto the floor but with the light levels too high it was not so much that ‘…the pools of water occupy a liminal state between reality and imagination’ but must be totally conjured by the imagination.

Diana Thater Life is a Time-Based Medium

Diana Thater Life is a Time-Based Medium

Online you can find an image more akin to the promises of the press release.

Galtaji Temple near Jaipur

Galtaji Temple near Jaipu

For my second year at the RCA I had David Blandy as my tutor. I think we have quite a few crossover interests in our investigation of contemporary society which manifest themselves in very different ways. He works with video and references music trends and gaming aesthetics and is quite performative. It’s very engaging and has a fine humour.

1507 David Blandy

He screened his video How To Make A Short Video About Extinction for us in the lecture theatre, it was good to see it on a big screen and appreciate the disaster movie genre it plays off though the DIY amateurism invoked does perhaps mean the small screen is its home. Eitherway it’s very funny (while obviously trying to make some serious points too). He put me onto Miranda July, also funny while highlighting some cultural idiosyncrasies , whose book of short stories No-one Deserves To Be Here More Than You I am enjoying at the moment.

I have visited his exhibition showing the video hercules-rough-cut at the Bloomberg Space.

David Blandy

David Blandy

It has huge presence. Ominous and mesmerizing it engulfs you in a kaleidoscopic bombardment of image and dialogue tracing the history of civilisation on its frenzied trajectory to what must be an inevitable implosion. Surrounded by rotating images and screens and immersed in continuous rap-speak that fills your head there is no space to escape.

David Blandy Hercules:Rough Cut

David Blandy Hercules:Rough Cut

It captures the obsessions that are driving our civilisation over the edge into oblivion employing the same seductions that hypnotise us as we are carried along unable to resist.

I have long been a fan of Gordon Cheung’s work so was excited to be able to chat with him about my work when he visited the RCA on what was described as an artists promenade. His interest in relating ancient mythologies to present day financial trading and historical markets such as tulip mania to current boom and bust economics are fascinating subjects.

Gordon Cheung island

Gordon Cheung Island

We also attempted to discuss quantum and particle physics. He had been key in selecting my etching Forest of Eden for the neo:print prize award that I received last year so I was able to go into more detail about what had inspired me to make this work. Originally it was Giambattista Vico’s story of wild men inventing the gods as they cowered in the forest under thunderous skies that led to my research into the myth of the wild man. This myth stretches back to the tale of Gilgamesh’s quest for immortality. 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.

Susan Eyre Forest of Eden

Susan Eyre Forest of Eden

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. He had become an internet meme, shared with equal disgust and fascination. In this etching I placed him back in the ancient forest of all our origins.

The most recent of work I made while at the RCA was Sun Factor. This work allows an alternative access point to my ideas about escape from reality and the search for something outside the ordinary. It explores ancient and modern ideas on sun worship and the rituals that are part of these cultures.

Susan Eyre Sun Factor

Susan Eyre Sun Factor

I used etching for the ancient cliffs and gold pigments on chine colle for the obelisk. The figures are screen printed in high saturation, a reminder of the early days of package holidays and glossy postcards and also of skin damage and loss of connection to the powers of nature. The sun as apocalyptic fireball is a reminder of its true nature which we often forget to acknowledge.

Sun Factor has been selected as a finalist for the HIX award.

I had been experimenting with images printed on translucent fabric submerged in water with a view to using this in my final show.

Susan Eyre submīrārī

Susan Eyre submīrārī

This came from the idea of looking through a surface to consider what is there but unseen by our limited senses   Sometimes the images in the water float and sometimes they sink or fold according to the otherwise unseen movement within the water. The activity in the matter of the universe is going on around us unseen – other intangible things like the aura of place and the dream of paradise cannot be pinned down or explained in terms of materiality.

Susan Eyre submīrārī

Susan Eyre submīrārī

I spent a long time searching for the right bowls for the images floating in water. I had in mind something you might find in the world of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell but ended up using the same simple very shiny ones as I had originally found for Café Gallery – Objects Of.

1507 dry clay bowl

I tried giving them a clay outer shell – it didn’t work but the cracked result was inspiring for future work.

I chose to exhibit the water pieces in a cluster for the RCA MA Show rather than each one placed at the base of the individual sculptures as I had previously.

1507 veiwing submirari

submīrārī installation

mīrārī  comes from the latin miror whose etymology is to gaze in wonder.

Now that I had 7 sculptures (one for every day of the week) I felt each work had more weight holding their own space.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

There is a similarity in the way an image is experienced as a surface to look through and be absorbed into connecting the pieces in the installation.

The images in the bowls are more dreamlike, idealised landscapes whereas the images on the mirrors come from the everyday locations that happen to be called paradise.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters (6/7 escapism  - the life)

Susan Eyre everydaymatters (6/7 escapism – the life)

In conjunction with the MA degree show I led the organisation of our event WHAT WAS I THINKING. This was a chance to look back at the thinking behind our degree show and the ways in which decisions get made and also the alarm we sometimes feel at what we have embarked upon.

1507 what-was-i-thinking

We invited David Cross as our guest speaker. David Cross has an international reputation as a lecturer and academic. As an artist, he began collaborating with Matthew Cornford, in the partnership Cornford and Cross, while studying at St Martin’s School of Art in 1987, and graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1991. In addition to producing aesthetic experiences, he maintains that a key function of contemporary art is to test concepts, assumptions and boundaries.

David Cross

David Cross

Looking at global economics and systems of value which govern the art world as well as wider issues of capitalism and our blind commitment to material consumption fuelling economic growth he poses the question  – can we reclaim the vanishing point and reconnect our individual perspective with our collective capacity to envision and plan for a more ecologically stable future?

Early in our first year at RCA we had a seminar with the provocative title Why Print? This caused a lot of argument at the time as we found there were very many opinions on what was and what was not considered print, the value of craft and the place of the multiple or cheap reproduction. As we progressed we learnt to respect each others approaches and realised that the diversity of our group was a strength from which we could all learn.

Rob Miles Cmd shift 3

Rob Miles Cmd shift 3

Rob Miles was our MC for the event and gave an introduction which set out the challenges we faced during our MA and will continue to tackle as artists.  He explained that in such a programme as printmaking there are many processes we could choose from to express our ideas and it was through this exposure and interrogation that we found our own individual affinities from digital media to etching and many combinations in between. New reproduction technologies offer opportunities for exploration,  the old techniques feed into the new, and the new reinvigorates the old. To study Fine Art today is to navigate a plethora of possibilities across an ever widening field of possibilities, often dauntingly so but this also offers us a new representational freedom as artists.

Navigating these new possibilities is something we had discussed in seminars which led us to authors who write about the impact of the web, image saturation/appropriation, and new ways in which we view the world that lead on to questions of reality and representation.

As a point of focus for our event we referred to the politics of the image theories of Hito Steryl in the e-flux journal The Wretched of the Screen.
Her comments on the condition of groundlessness in her essay free fall a thought experiment on vertical perspective seemed particularly relevant.
          ‘Imagine you are falling. But there is no ground.
          Many contemporary philosophers have pointed out that the present moment is distinguished by a prevailing condition of groundlessness.
          We cannot assume any stable ground on which to base metaphysical claims or foundational political myths.
          At best, we are faced with temporary, contingent, and partial attempts at grounding.’
Peter Glasgow spoke about ways that material might be gathered, piled up, held onto and left over to form a body of work.
Peter Glasgow

Peter Glasgow

Using American TV series as his research material he used this analogy to look at work in the degree show as a gathering of material.
Peter Glasgow I'm dead in the water here

Peter Glasgow I’m dead in the water here

 Jilly Roberts narrated The Case Study, a story which explores her ideas of how perspectives can get influenced and altered depending on their content and origin.
Jilly Roberts

Jilly Roberts

Mixing factual accounts with her own experiences out in the field researching architectural landscapes and the invention of the Wardian Case.
Jilly Roberts

Jilly Roberts

 Daniel Clark discussed his research into the cross section between sound and printmaking
Daniel Clark

Daniel Clark

 covering the strange sensations we experience when exposed to very low frequency vibrations  the mysteries of the aquatint box and the sensory drama of the eruption of Krakatoa.
Daniel Clark Volcano

Daniel Clark Volcano

 Amy Gear brought our attention to the link between landscape, language and the shape of words, focusing on the rich history of her native Shetland
Amy Gear

Amy Gear

and how we mimic through language and also through our work.
Amy Gear Stack

Amy Gear Stack

 Meg Ferguson and Maito Jobbe Duval who both work with text and moving image discussed the ideas of French Philosopher Maurice Blanchot to explore their experience of uncertainty in the creative process.
Meg Ferguson

Meg Ferguson

Meg spoke about the ‘leap’ of faith necessary to make work and its value as a catalyst to move forward, letting go of control and falling into the unknown of the unconscious mind.
Maito Jobbe Duval can you see it

Maito Jobbe Duval can you see it

Maito read from Blanchot’s Thomas the Obscure while screening her video work Can You See It encouraging us to think the image of the thought.
Sarah Gillett read a story from her book which accompanied her work in the degree show.
Sarah Gillett

Sarah Gillett

We were transported to a suburban Mum’s night in which was suddenly impacted by the enormity and chaos of the universe both physically as a meteorite hits the conservatory and poetically as we contemplate the points in our lives when new perspectives open up to us.