Archives for posts with tag: Paradise

Back in beautiful Northumberland for a Beyond gathering of artists at ACA who will be continuing in the open door residency as the project evolves into Continuum.

1810 ACA.jpg

Lots of particle trails were spotted during The Cloud Chamber Workshop. Thanks to the Institute of Physics for sponsoring this, Allenheads Contemporary Arts for hosting and the North Pennines Stargazing Festival for including it in their programme.

1810 cloud chamber workshop 1

A cloud chamber gives us a glimpse into the invisible world of particles produced in the radioactive decay of naturally occurring elements and those generated when cosmic rays strike the top of the Earth’s atmosphere.

1810 cloud chamber workshop 2

These particles pass though us continuously without our awareness. Witnessing this usually unseen activity can lead us to look beyond what our immediate senses tell us is there and consider the possibility of other intangible phenomena.

1810 Wilson's cloud chamber

The rather gorgeous original Cloud Chamber was invented by Scottish physicist Charles Wilson and he won the noble prize for it in 1927. It has been said that the cloud chamber might be the most important piece of experimental equipment in the history of particle physics. It was a chance discovery that made the study of particles possible.
Wilson was fascinated by clouds and was actually studying meteorology spending his time observing clouds at the top of Ben Nevis. He thought it might be easier to study them if he could build a device to create clouds in his laboratory. He also hoped to recreate the strange optical phenomena known as a Glory caused by light hitting clouds below the observer which he had experienced from his high vantage point on the mountain.

1810 A glory

It was Victor Hess who discovered cosmic rays and earnt the Nobel Prize for this in 1936. Scientists had been puzzled by the levels of ionizing radiation measured in the atmosphere using electroscopes. It was expected that radiation would decrease with distance from the earth but to test this Hess risked his life taking measurements at high altitudes in a balloon without oxygen tanks. He found that the radiation levels increased with altitude and concluded that there was radiation penetrating the atmosphere from outer space.

1810 Victor Hess balloon

Left over dry ice from the workshop gave us the opportunity to try freezing bubbles.

1810 freezing bubble

The workshop was followed by The Dark Side of the Universe talk from Dr. Pete Edwards. Our universe is filled with mysterious dark matter, whose gravity provides the cosmic glue that holds it all together, and dark energy, which is slowly tearing the universe apart.

1810 Pete Edwards Talk ACA

The finale of the Stargazing Festival was the screening of Steven Spielberg’s 1977 sci-fi icon Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Good to revisit and think about how much more we know about the universe 41 years on.

1810 Close Encounters

This was preceded by an appropriate dinner courtesy of Alan Smith.

1810 Close Encounters dinner

I was invited as a guest speaker at London LASER Labs Re- Thinking Space at Central Saint Martins.

The session remit was

We are in the midst of both an incredible and challenging space age. How can we harness the information, collected in silo, from the fields of cosmology and quantum physics to conceive of a more unified vision of how the universe (and us) are put together? Within science and culture – what new models of thought could we foster? How do creativity and consciousness fit into this emerging paradigm? How can we rethink our practices to swerve the impasse some are labelling a new ‘Dark Age’?…

I was glad to arrive early to see the collection of meteorites Dr Natasha Almeida, Curator of Meteorites at the Natural History Museum had brought along for the Playlab hands on session. This included a spectacular slice of iron meteorite. Due to a long cooling period inside the parent asteroids the nickel and iron alloys crystallise then when polished and acid etched the classic Widmanstätten patterns of intersecting lines of lamellar kamacite, are visible. Also a tear drop of earth rock created when a meteorite struck the earth and the heat melted the rock which flew into the air and cooled into tear drops as it fell.

1810 meteorite collection.jpg

Other speakers at the event were Dr. Thomas Kitching a Cosmologist from Mullard Space Science Laboratory who is Science Co-Lead for the ESA’s Euclid Mission launching in 2021 to map the geometry of the Dark Universe by observing thousands of millions of galaxies.

1810 terra incognita.jpg

He told us how confidence in what the universe is made of has eroded over the centuries and perhaps dark matter and dark energy which make up what we call the dark universe should be renamed Materia Incognita.

Dr Ceri Brenner is a plasma physicist and innovator at STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory’s Central Laser Facility. She uses the most powerful lasers in the world to study what happens when extreme bursts of light come into contact with matter. She told us how firing these high energy lasers  through Tantalum a rare, blue-gray lustrous metal can produce high energy x-rays which can be used for imaging the container walls of  radioactive storage facilities to look for damage. The extreme physics she studies can also be applied to understanding supernova explosions in space or how we can ignite a star on earth for clean electricity generation.

1810 STFC laser lab

Apparently plasma accounts for 99% of the known matter in the Universe, it’s a soup of sub-atomic particles at temperatures way beyond what we usually experience on earth. This makes the stuff we interact with on a daily basis seem a really tiny portion if 99% of the 5% we know is also stuff beyond our realm of experience.

1810 plasma.jpg

Astrophysicist Dr Chamkaur Ghag was also there to talk about direct dark matter research and how extremely sensitive the detectors need to be. It was interesting to look at the progression of the different detectors from DRIFT to LUX increasing target capacity and homing in on areas of possibility where the illusive particles might be found.

Cham always gives insight into the importance of not just interrogating matter but putting scientific research into context. Asking why we are doing something, not just how. This fires his passion to address climate change and his involvement in the grassroots initiative from Particle Physicists European Strategy Update on Climate Change

1810 Paradise burning

PARADISE burning — More than 30,000 people fled for their lives as a late-season wildfire swept across this town in the Sierra foothills

Laser Lab Talks Re-Thinking Space was compered by Nicola Triscott, founding Artistic Director/CEO of Arts Catalyst who asked the panel some reaching questions about the future of physics and how we make a difference to the debate placing ourselves in control of our destiny. Questions from the floor addressed the public interface of science. Speaking in front of an audience is not something I find comfortable so my input to the panel was slim but hopefully I had aired some relevant points during my talk looking at the opposing scales of cosmology and quantum physics and how we might relate to these two spheres of knowledge, both beyond human scale and comprehension.

1802 frozen galaxy
The idea of a new dark age approaching addresses a fear that we no longer understand the world around us. We are subjected to too much information that we can no longer process. There is too much complexity, we don’t know where to turn for verification.
The knowledge of the way the world behaves built up over generations may no longer apply. The fear that we are losing connection to the world around us is in many ways a long standing one – we have always looked back to a time when we believed we lived in harmony with the natural world.  That something central to our lives has been lost.

 

1810 Bruegel Two Monkeys

Pieter Bruegel The Elder Two Monkeys 1592

I have seen some interesting exhibitions tracing the human experience through alienation, projection and what happens when different worlds collide.

Nicky Coutts excellent examination of interspecies dissonance Man Stupid at Danielle Arnaud. Koko the gorilla was born and raised in captivity. She was taught to sign and ultimately deliver a message in the role of ambassador on behalf of nature to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.

In Nicky’s drawings Koko has slipped away leaving just her skin as shadow.

1810 Nicky Coutts

The images read as an indecipherable code. The frustration at the divide between human and non human communication is held in these traces of gesture. We can look hard, make suggestions but will never know what is in the great ape’s mind. Drawn in blackest charcoal, rich and intense with a primeval, totemic aura they could be the props of the shaman hinting at another world that requires some rite of passage involving the returning to a world of raw visceral nature.

Oceania at The Royal Academy.

In 1768 James Cook set sail from Plymouth in the HMS Endeavour funded by the Royal Society to track the transit of Venus in Tahiti and explore the islands of the Pacific Ocean.

1810 Oceania RA Lisa Reihana 3.jpg

Lisa Reihana has created a large scale panaoramic video installation in Pursuit of Venus [infected] using the French scenic wallpaper Les Sauvages De La Mer Pacifique as a backdrop to the complexities of cultural identity and colonisation depicting scenes of encounter between Europeans and Polynesians.

1810 Oceania RA 3

Much of the exhibition was uncomfortable viewing for although the catalogue emphasises that objects collected by Europeans were frequently given willingly I don’t feel confident there was equality in these ‘exchanges’.

1810 Oceania RA 5

1810 Oceania RA 7

1810 Oceania RA 1

That the objects still resonate with spiritual significance for some is evident by fresh offerings left around the galleries.

I had just finished reading the riveting Modern Gods by Nick Laird before visiting which raises the subject of proselytism and relevant contemporary issues on religious belief and cultural contamination drawing on events in Ulster and Papua New Guinea to highlight the fragility of social cohesion when faith and tribe are on the line.

 

Sarah Christie’s Library shown at Southwark Cathedral is an ongoing attempt to give voice to the individuals that make up the 48% and the opposing 52% trying to make sense of the divided society they find themselves a part of in post Brexit referendum Britain.

1810 Sarah Christie

In Ancient Greece, people voted by writing on ‘ostraca’ a broken piece of pottery. The public have been invited to select an ostracon – sherds made by hand from a hundred and fifty cast bowls – and offer their own words that break boundaries.

I enjoyed Alex Prager’s Face in the Crowd series at The Photographers Gallery.

1810 Alex Prager Face in the Crowd

The individual is picked out in the crowd and elevated from anonymity, but look at the crowd – these are not the grey masses we blend in with on the streets, at airport lounges and theatres. Each of these characters is chosen, placed and choreographed. The unnatural vibrancy and controlled demeanours give the scene an unsettling automaton quality.

1810 Alex Prager

Entertained by an evening exploring the darker past of the gothic extravaganza Strawberry Hill House.

Spirits invoked for Ghost Tide exhibition at Thames-side Gallery curated by Sarah Sparkes and Monica Bobinska.

1810 Laura Marker Ghost Tide

Laura Marker

1810 Mary Yacoob Ghost Tide

Mary Yacoob

I took part in the Hollow Bone Ceremony led by shaman Kate Walters who uses repetitive drumming to alter the brain waves to ‘theta’ waves to allow travel to either the Upper world or the Lower world to convene with the cosmos, nature and animal spirits and ask for guidance on behalf of the participant.

1810 hollow bone ceremony

Was it coincidence that my mind focused on an unexpected encounter with a deer in Grizedale Forest the previous week that after the 10 minutes of rhythmic trance Kate came back with a strong image of a large Moose or Stag whose energy and ferocity I needed to tap into.

1815 Grizedale Deer.jpg

Thanks to Jim Lloyd for highlighting this quote from Werner Heisenberg

“What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning. “

 

Advertisements

I have put together a short video documentation of Scales of Intangibility an interactive installation set in a black velvet lined room made during my Studio4 residency at Chisenhale Art Place. Immersive projections of particle trails, filmed from my cloud chamber experiments, make visible the activity of cosmic rays and background radiation that pass through us continuously without our awareness.

1804 documentation scales 4.jpgThrough experiencing this usually unseen activity of particles that shower down on us when cosmic rays strike the edge of the earth’s atmosphere we can begin to think about other possibilities of what might be present in our universe that we are currently unable to interact with such as dark matter.

Excited to hear that in 2019 Science Gallery London will be exploring dark matter with a scientific and philosophical investigation into the fundamental nature of reality, taking  the theory of dark matter as a starting point for conceptual investigations and experimental forms of inquiry.

1804 Boulby dark matter detector.jpg

Original dark matter detector Boulby Underground Laboratory

The text In the Dark by Alexander B. Fry will be one of the texts discussed during the upcoming Laboratory of Dark Matters event being hosted by Guest Projects as part of their 10 Year Anniversary celebration weekend.

1804 LaboratoryofDarkMatters_gp celebration_sketch.jpg

Short texts which have a relationship to the exploration of dark matter as a scientific or philosophical concept will be presented to stimulate questions and encourage shared knowledge across disciplines and perspectives. These will also include excerpts from Joyful Cruelty: Towards a Philosophy of the Real by Clément Rosset – translated by David F. Bell, 1993 and Edward Irving’s 1905 How To Know The Starry Heavens.

1804 Great Lick Telescope.jpg

The New Materialisms Reading Group I attend has been persevering with Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. It has had an influence on the work I am making for the upcoming exhibition at Ugly Duck Lumen: Cosmic PerspectivesThe exhibition aims to inspire a change of thinking through highlighting the precarious nature of life, and the extraordinary set of circumstances that allow us to exist, in an otherwise, possibly, lifeless universe.

1804 Paradise Walk.jpg

I have been out taking new photographs in local paradise locations to use for submīrārī (earthbound). Printed on organza, the ethereal images will float in water in earthclad bowls, landscapes fluctuating on the cusp of disappearance. Donna Haraway, drawing from Latour, proposes the ‘Earthbound’ as those humans who are ready to rethink and create new narratives with Gaia at the centre, who recognise the entanglement of society and nature and aim to pursue a ‘nonarrogant collaboration with all those in the muddle’. The shift in perspective embraced by the ‘Earthbound’ embodies a grief shared with other species at loss of habitat and disappearing landscapes. It is not a nostalgia for paradise lost but a reappraisal of what paradise could be. The scenes depicted in this work, sourced from prosaic locations named Paradise, aim towards deconstructing a romanticised ideology and bringing us down to earth.

1804 Earthbound.jpg

We must stay with the trouble. It is important to care. ‘We are all responsible to and for shaping conditions for multispecies flourishing…’.

So glad I got to see Marcus Coates exhibition at Workplace Gallery. He shares a similar sensibility to Haraway regarding response-ability and interconnection to other species. He engages in new ways of thinking through humour and pathos. In The Last of Its Kind  a video where he faces the ocean naked, desperately shouting a list of human achievements at an indifferent landscape he brings home the insignificance of the human in the history of Gaia while in Apology to the Great Auk the extinction of this once numerous flightless bird is placed firmly on our collective shoulders.

1804 Marcus Coates 1

Extinct Animals is a collection of Plaster of Paris casts of the artists hands taken whilst performing the extinct animal’s shadow. His work is absurd, painful and joyful.

1804 Marcus Coates 2

Lorna Simpson’s beautiful show Unanswerable at Hauser & Wirth London questions the archive, how we hold onto the past through artefact or memory, ultimately all of this will dissolve away despite out best efforts.1804 Lorna Simpson

Looking through the prism of media presentation of women and the African American experience as portrayed in magazines that reflect a different era.1804 Lorna Simpson 2

There is an appeal in the aesthetic of old magazines, a nostalgia could be evoked. Or it could just be a painful reminder of issues that are still to be fully resolved.

 

1804 1953 Cosmetic RaysThe Tate screening of Jean Painlevé’s documentary films Silver, Photons and Liquid Crystals was a rare chance to see his abstract films made between the early 1930s and the late 1970s on liquid crystals, photons, diatoms and silver nitrate. It was an odd mix of science and psychedelia. Painlevé used the microscope and modern optics to reveal the natural world in intricate detail. I particularly wanted to see the early films of photons and silver nitrate but it was quite hard to decipher and at times the bizarre commentary was distracting. The programme’s finale was rewarding with some stunning footage of liquid crystals.

1804 jean painleve
Jean Painlevé Phase Transition in Liquid Crystals

Micro to wide angle but with a shared curiosity to re-present the world beyond our natural senses. Andreas Gursky at Hayward. ‘Driven by an interest and insight into ‘the way that the world is constituted’, as well as what he describes as ‘the pure joy of seeing’, Gursky makes photographs that are not just depictions of places or situations, but reflections on the nature of image-making and the limits of human perception. Often taken from a high vantage point, these images make use of a ‘democratic’ perspective that gives equal importance to all elements of his highly detailed scenes.’

1804 Andreas Gursky.jpg

I still have to finish editing the video filmed in the velvet chamber in collaboration with dance artist Paola Napolitano exploring theories from Laban and Plato. The process can be maddening and slow when you are new to the software. I am trying to get to grips with After Effects to clone out some unwanted light reflections but keep finding myself in a black hole and having to start again.

1804 video stillOn the horizon is new work for In Search of Darkness an exhibition curated by Lumen in Grizedale Forest to highlight the importance of preserving dark sky areas and raise awareness of the ecological problems caused by light pollution. My proposal is to create a suspended sculptural print that demonstrates, through the choice of materials, that adding light doesn’t always make things more visible. To relate the loss of knowledge of the night sky through urban light pollution to the unknown mysteries of the universe yet to be revealed.

1804 Cosmic Test projection.jpg

Blinded by the light. Great sun spangled woodland scene in an inspiring show from Christiane Baumgartner Liquid Light at Alan Cristea.

1804 Christiane Baumgartner

Enjoyed a visit to see Sam Hodge in Surface Tension with Andy D’Cruz and Marcia Teusink at The Stone Space. The works explore the idea of surface tension as a force and a potency between objects and materials.

1804 Sam Hodge

Tense with anticipation. Totally enthralling story telling from mythologist Martin Shaw. A woman arises from a mare’s tale plant with red beads falling from her mouth as she speaks, and a king’s son tied to the top of the tallest pine tree, is slowly becoming a crow.

Down below the forest path splits into two. One path is that of the sable. The other path is that of the bear. One is good. One is very bad.

1804 crick crack club

 

A second visit to experience the powerful performance of Simon McBurney in The Encounter. Inspired by the book Amazon Beaming by Petru Popescu he tells the extraordinary story of Loren McIntyre, a National Geographic photographer, who in 1969 found himself lost among the people of the remote Javari Valley in Brazil. It was an encounter that took him to the limits of human consciousness and questioned his idea of reality. The evening ended with Marcus de Soutey joining Simon McBurney for an open discussion on what consciousness might be, how it can be experienced collectively, how we determine reality, non-linear time and what happens when we die.

1804 The Encounter

The dead live on through our memories. Retrieving memories is a dynamic process – every time you recall a memory you have to repeat a pattern of signals – this is how memories change as the pattern changes or becomes incomplete. It’s interesting that there are alternate pathways in the brain to the same or a similar outcome.

1804 The Encounter complicite

National Geographic reporter Loren McIntyre had his world illuminated to other ways of thinking I wonder if Martin Pomerantz Trailing Cosmic Rays in Canada’s North in 1953 ever had a similar experience, maybe he encountered some women with interests other than cosmetics.

 

 

More excellent news is that I have been accepted as one of the Open Door Residency Artists for the BEYOND project run by Allenheads Contemporary Arts to take advantage of its new on-site astronomical observatory and to consider the word BEYOND as an open ended starting point for discussion.

The timing is perfect as I am about to begin my Chisenhale Studio4 Residency where I will have a large space to develop ideas from this experience that build on my current research looking at cosmic particles, the shape of the universe and the philosophies and mythologies that first attempted to understand the cosmos and relate its vastness to the human experience.

1802 frozen galaxyI spent a wonderful weekend with 12 artists enjoying perfect moon gazing weather in the dark skies of Northumberland, seeing galaxies in frozen puddles, plunging into the darkness of the forest or the inflatable planetarium and discussing ideas generated as we shared our own interests and observations.

 

1802 forest

I am thinking about what stories might be told if our ancient eyes had reached beyond those points marked out on the first star charts. Maybe Atlas would have had more daughters. Hopefully with the help of the brilliant open source planetarium Stellarium that we were introduced to I can add another layer of narrative.

From my vantage point on earth, the moon slides quietly, the stars twinkle through the atmosphere, satellites pass serenely by, but I know that just 15km above my head is a very violent place of high energy collisions as protons slam into our atmosphere, break apart and rain down, on and through me.

1802 Cloud chamber lightningThe opening paragraphs of The Power by Naomi Alderman prickle with the power they describe

“The shape of power is always the same; it is the shape of a tree…branching and re-branching…the outline of a living thing …the shape of rivers leading to the ocean…the shape that lightning forms…the shape that electricity wants to take is that of a living thing .. this same shape grows within us …power travels in the same manner between people..”

A brilliant novel. Shifts perspective to reflect the world back at us to shine the light on some uncomfortable truths.

A fascinating book to help understand the activity of matter is The Particle Zoo: The Search for the Fundamental Nature of Reality by Gavin Hesketh. I got this book to learn about the characters of the 12 fundamental particles and the forces that they interact with. It presents an unseen world of spinning, colour changing oppositely charged partners, repelling, attracting, sticking together, passing messages or passing straight through each other; releasing and absorbing energy in constant activity. Out of this melee which appears, once you get to the smallest scale, to be made of nothing but points of energy all things are formed.

1802 muon

I have been reading this in tandem with Stephen Fry’s reworking of the Greek Myths – Mythos. Just as improbable.

1802 parthenon

Captivating performance storyteller Ben Haggarty brought to exquisite and gory life three retextured Greek Myths under the banner The Fate We Bring Ourselves – decisions have consequences at the Crick Crack Club event Myths Retold at the British Museum. He spoke afterwards about the intimate space of the darkened circle that forms around the storyteller where each audience member feels personally addressed.

1802 Ben Haggerty

Mythological thinking looks at the whole – the micro and the macro and sees commonality.

The New Materialisms reading group that I have been a mostly absent member of is currently reading Donna Haraway Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene

 

1802 Donna Haraway

Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival

 

Fabrizio Terranova’s film, screened at the LCC, brought the text to life with her infectious mix of enthusiasm, joy and bewilderment at the world and her passion for new ways of thinking. The director spent a few weeks with her and her aging dog Cayenne in their Southern California home, exploring their personal universe as well as the longer development of her views on kinship and planetary welfare. Animated by green screen projections, archival materials and fabulation he has created an enchanting insight into the mind of Donna Haraway.

 

1802 Bjorn Hatleskog

Bjorn Hatleskog Perpetual Jellyfish in Liminality at Gallery 46

 

“The tentacular are not disembodied figures; they are cnidarians, spiders, fingery beings like humans and raccoons, squid, jellyfish, neural extravaganzas, fibrous entities, flagellated beings, myofibril braids, matted and felted microbial and fungal tangles, probing creepers, swelling roots, reaching and climbing tendrilled ones. The tentacular are also nets and networks, it critters, in and out of clouds. Tentacularity is about life lived along lines — and such a wealth of lines — not at points, not in spheres.” Donna Haraway

Also ‘Staying with the Trouble’ and hoping for a positive collective future are London duo patten at Tenderpixel asking ‘how do we make it to 3049?’

1802 patten 3049 3

I had the pleasure of hearing Mark Dion talk about his work, love of systematics and the usefulness of taxonomies as tools of communication at Whitechapel Gallery on the opening day of his show Theatre of the Natural World.  Like Donna Haraway, he is concerned with extinctions, environmental exploitation and catastrophic interaction with other species and expressed a pessimistic resignation that our future is unlikely to be a positive one unless there are some radical changes.

1802 Mark Dion 1

1802 Mark Dion 2

Archaeology came with the Anthropocene.

1802 Mark Dion 3

His recreation of a Wunderkammer is another step in the journey for a collection of objects that were removed from their original environment, placed on display in a cabinet of wonders, then captured as drawings that were turned into engravings and then published in print.

1802 Mark Dion 5

Manually sculpting the objects using the limited information gleaned from the prints as a guide they are returned to 3D. Ghosts of the past losing clarity with each transformation.

1802 Mark Dion 4Looking at the aura of objects Secular Icons in an Age of Moral Uncertainty at Parafin questions the idea of art as a system of belief based around looking and valuing objects beyond their intrinsic materiality. Lower floor was closed when I visited so didn’t see everything. Though just contemplating the horrors associated with Indrė Šerpytytė’s giant lightbox totem constructed using the first blocks of colour that appear from the google search ‘Isis beheading’ was enough.

1802 Indre Serpytyte

Indrė Šerpytytė 2 Seconds of Colour

Hell on earth continues. Glenn Brown Come To Dust at Gagosian had some genuinely creepy offerings and an obsessive repetitiveness.

1802 Glenn Brown

I did find Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death from Above compelling despite its bleak vision. Hung at an angle to appear that the sky is indeed falling and it is not the heaven we wished for that is descending upon us.

 

1605 Mercator World Map 1569When paradise could not be mapped on the known land it was believed it must be on an island over the ocean. Dare to dream.

 

 

on my island none of this would be true  – a dynamic group show at the new Arebyte Gallery space on City Island curated by Chris Rawcliffe took its title from the last line of a poem called Security, written by Tom Chivers for his book Dark Islands (Test Centre, 2015).

1802 Tom Chivers Dark Islands

It was another chance to see Verity Birt’s Venus Anodyomene a spoken text and video work with Holly Graham and Richard Forbes-Hamilton.

1802 venus anadyomene.jpg

The rhythmic narrative evoking a slippy oozing layered earth world of geology, archaeology, lost time or excavated memories was enhanced by the boardwalk approach to the gallery in torrential rain alongside the exposed mudbed of the River Lea.

1802 Hannah Regal

Hannah Regal What Transpires in the Field of a Body That is the Base of Her

1802 Gery Georgieva

Gery Georgieva Europa Airlines Stand

 

“Again and again
we’re
expelled
from a garden
that never
existed” Ludwig Steinherr from Before the Invention of Paradise

What goes on in nature under our radar beautifully captured in Sam Laughlin’s series A Certain Movement as part of the Jerwood Photoworks Awards. Intimate moments and hidden processes lifted from nature with a quiet sensitivity.

 

1802 Sam Laughlin

Sam Laughlin from the series A Certain Movement

 

1802 Florence Trust

Visited Mayra Ganzinotti in the chilled and vaulted splendour of Florence Trust Winter Open Studios. Her beautiful work mixes crystal forms in geology with the body; rhythm and structure.

1802 Mayra Martin Ganzinotti.jpg

Mayra Martin Ganzinotti

Other exciting work and use of materials going on was from Amanda Baum and Rose Leahy

Unexpected juxtapositions offer new paths to tread.

A group of artists and writers, selected by Payne Shurvell, were each asked to respond to the same image either with a text or intervention directly over the image. 256 possible diptychs were created. New pairings are hung daily in random combinations pulled out of a hat. The Arca Project lets fate or coincidence decide the outcome the audience will experience depending on when they visit. The concept to present multiple readings of one event draws on the ethos of W. G. Sebald who revelled in mixing things up.

1802 TonyGrisoni StephGoodger

I only had time for a brief visit to Liminality [The Unknown] at Gallery 46 which was a shame as I think I missed some good things. But I did see the delicate and fluid interpretations of sound technology diagrams by Mary Yacoob

1802 Mary Yacoob

Mary Yacoob Draft Drawings

also her meticulous ‘Seraphim for Sanctus’ inspired by a choral score for ‘Sanctus’ and the prophet Isaiah’s visionary six-winged angels.

1802 Mary Yacoob 2

Mary Yacoob ‘Seraphim for Sanctus’ detail

I have been contemplating the circling angels of the Empyrean that dazzled Dante when he reached the final sphere of heaven. It might be the first time I have really thought about an angel as an other being/species not just a good human with wings.

1802 Empyrean Gustave Dore.jpg

Gustave Doré The Divine Comedy’s Empyrean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New year fresh start. Laboratory of Dark Matters evaluation reports submitted. Now to build on my research from the last year. Time to put up the dark tent again and get the cloud chamber running to take some more controlled footage for use in an immersive installation. Excited to be experimenting with video projections, lenses and different media to project onto to ‘capture’ the particles.

1712 Lens layer.jpg

Sun Factor jostling for space at a busy Atom Gallery private view of Tomorrow’s World where most visions of the future appear dystopian or apocalyptic.

1712 Atom Gallery PV.jpg

The backstory to this work begins with a holiday to Sardinia and the day trip salesman’s  insistence the island bay he proposes taking us to – it’s paradise, it’s paradise … well how could we refuse. It turned out we were to be cast ashore for hours on a tiny strip of sand with no shade, no escape and a sea swarming with tiny stinging jellyfish. A concrete obelisk stood over the blistering bodies; once ancient sun worshippers built these capped with gold to shine like beacons celebrating the power of Ra the sun god. Modern sun worshippers have their own rituals, laying under a hot ball of gas so massive and so hot it has been active for 4.5 billion years yet it will be another 4.5 billion years before it will expand into a red giant, vaporize the earth and explode.

On a rather grander scale was ( my past RCA tutor) David Blandy’s The End of the World at Seventeen Gallery.

1712 David Blandy 2

Designed for solo viewing, a single seat faces the enormity of space. You become the lonely astronaut gazing down on a faraway world, at once familiar and distant. The voiceover poignantly recounts what is being lost; spanning perspectives, the micro and macrocosm of life, imagined, virtual and real. When the end is in sight senses are heightened.

1712 David Blandy 4

Touched to hear that David thought of me when making the High Definition series splicing microchips, crystals, nebulae and rock formations into stars which appear 3D until you approach more closely and then they flatten. Heptagrams (seven point stars)share Christian and pagan symbolism, they can represent the seven days of creation, the perfection of god and the seven planets which were known to ancient alchemists.

1712 David Blandy 3

The installation HD LIfestyle also plays with the illusion of surface and the material cost of being able to pass through the screen to an ever more real and immersive experience on the other side. The wares are on display. The images sweep us forward. It would be hard to stop.

1712 David Blandy 1

Thomas Ruff at Whitechapel Gallery. He is big on scale, control and appropriation.  I was struck by the regularity and precision of the white dot of light reflection in each of the portrait models eyes.1712 Thomas RuffThe Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launched 2005 recorded topography, water related minerals and climate using an imaging spectrometer, context camera and mars colour imager transmitted as radio signals to be translated into images.

1712 Thomas Ruff 3D

Thomas Ruff ma.r.s. 

SPACE/London Creative Network Showcase – showing works in progress as part of an ongoing exploration of new technologies employed within art practice.

Catriona Leahy uses laser-cutting technology to etch delicate capillaries onto marble to articulate a sense of fragmentation and the scarring of  manmade intervention in the form of land drainage found in Dutch and Belgian post industrial landscapes.

171124 space LCN Catriona Leahy

Catriona Leahy Percolation Test

Always drawn to the perpendicular – the standing stones. I enjoyed Ben Branagan’s legacy of the built environment captured in totems made from building site aggregates.

1712 space LCN Ben Branagan

Ben Branagan Hardcore Colonnade

Next door was the satisfyingly ritual space of BearMotherhouse a collaboration of Fourthland, an artist collective, with Xenia a group that brings geographically displaced women together with local communities for friendship and integration through creativity. A quote from the accompanying essay by Alberto Duman addressing the cosmological connections and mythologies of the objects that ‘ speak of the degrees of interconnectedness beyond human knowing and the evocation of powerful figures such as the Bear and the Mother that oversee and mesmerise this house’s proceedings

1712 Fouthland with Xenia

Cryptic exhibition at The Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church examines the relationship between art, science and technology. Lisa Pettibone explores matter and form through the manipulation of one template and the forces applied to alter its appearance.

1712 cryptic lisa pettiborne

Lisa Pettibone Apeiron 01_02_03

Pentagon envy.

1712 Cryptic Bekk Wells

Bekk Wells Elements

Imagining CERN event at CSM presented the results of creative collisions between interdisciplinary art and particle physics.  MA Art and Science students got to visit CERN, collaborate with scientists and make work in response.

1712 CSM imagining CERN exhibition

Gavin Hesketh was here to talk about his work at CERN searching for new particles

1712 Gavin Hesketh

He had brought his cloud chamber along. First time I had seen someone else’s cloud chamber other than online. No dark tent here.

1712 CSM imagining CERN cloud chamber

In particle physics the closer you look the more similar things become,

when you get right down to the elementary particles there is no colour at this scale

 

 

I have been immersed in the final preparations for my Royal College of Art MA degree show. Consequently the updates to my thoughts here have not happened recently.

Along with tidying my studio after this intense period of activity I need to tidy my thoughts.

The last time I posted here I had just been to Paradise Park Lane, Cheshunt, looking for clues.

It was muddy but illuminated.

1504 paradise bridle path

I found Paradise Nursery was not lavishly planted with beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers. It was Eden after the expulsion.

1504

It was those outside the walls, for whom it was unattainable, who called it Paradise.

1504 paradise nursery

Those inside found it a confinement.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

I found the waters of Paradise feeding into a glutinous green pond

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

and a touching roadside tribute to a lost son. These ideas fed into my work. I spent many weeks in the screenprint room.

Printing the circles took up all of my time, each one has 14 layers. They are on 50cm diameter mirrored acrylic.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

I had found the tree of life in Paradise Park, Bethnal Green.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

The fruits of temptation in Paradise Walk, Chelsea.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

There were promised riches in Rue du Paradis, Paris

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

as in Paradise Row –  will it be riches on earth or in heaven?

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Jacobs Ladder was found in Paradise Industrial Estate, Hemel Hempstead.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Holiday dreaming in Holloway’s Paradise Park

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

and a taste of the tropical in Paradise Street, Southwark

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

where there was also the tender nurturing of a garden, however small.

I did manage to see a couple of shows. The First Humans exhibition at Pump House Gallery had some interesting work. The curator Angela Kingston was interested in the number of artists in recent years who are investigating the prehistoric and the primeval and wonders if this is a return to raw materiality, a response to ecological crisis or a dystopic analysis of what might be the last humans – us.

I enjoyed the playful nature of Jack Strange’s primitive boulder with video insert where Doctor Who type aliens peer back out at you.

Jack Strange

Jack Strange

Andy Harper’s The Threefold Law looks like a mash up of insect, tribal mask and tropicalia.

Andy Harper

Andy Harper

Ben Rivers’ film, The Creation As We Saw It, recounts the myths of a village where straw huts exist alongside mobile phones.

It cuts scenes of geological activity with mythological tales and contemporary images of people, tracing a line from spectacular eruptions to present day mundanity.

Ben Rivers

Ben Rivers film still from The Creation as we saw it

Adams Hut, Paradise Park Lane

‘Adams Hut’ Paradise Park Lane

Nicky Coutts look at mimicry in her exhibition My Previous Life as an Ape at Danielle Arnoud threw a light on our animalistic tendencies and questioned our evolution and the commonalities we share with fellow living creatures. Through film, staged photography and commissioned portraits from a court artist she explored our need to fit in, our use of guises and disguises, the lies and deceptions evolved to hide from predators and the predatory nature of the lies and deceptions practised in our courts of law. Her series of photo etchings Mimics were stunning.

Nicky Coutts Mimics

Nicky Coutts Mimics series 1

 

I have been working hard on my new piece everydaymatters.

Within an ordinary space are hidden the building blocks of the structure of the universe – intangible and unseen. I am exploring the similarities in our search for a spiritual encounter and the urge to understand the origins of our universe.

1502 Everydaymatters 6

The RCA Second Year MA interim show at Café Gallery Projects in Southwark Park was a chance to test out ideas to take forward for the upcoming final show.

It was also a chance to be in the park in early morning sunshine with the first hints of spring in the air and the sounds of waterfowl and birdsong.

1502 Everydaymatters 1

This bird is a bronze ornament seen in the antique shop at the corner of Paradise Walk in Chelsea, a bit of imported tropicalia. I used images taken around the various paradise locations I visit that I felt had some connection to an idea of paradise; exotic birds, palm trees, sunshine, plants, spiritual reflections.

It had been a marathon of screen printing to get my work ready in time for Café Gallery; 6 mirrored circles to print with 11 layers on each one.

1502 Everydaymatters 2

With no straight edges to register to and often printing black on black it felt impossible at times to line it all up. The mirrored surfaces are very vulnerable so I  became rather precious about the whole thing.

1502 Everydaymatters 5

The fear that the structures I had ready to hold the circles may just lean to one side or even topple over once the mirror was attached added to the stress and my heart was thumping when I finally slotted the circles over the steel upright. It was an exhausting experience and a huge relief to find they stood straight. (like sentinels – thanks Zoe)

1502 Everydaymatters 3

Placing the bowls with the disperse images at the base of the stands was a last minute decision but it suddenly seemed that they belonged there to complete the work. One image of the everyday scattered into matter, dark and otherwise, and one paradisiacal image hovering illusively, both are about looking for something, an aura, an understanding of origins.

1502 Everydaymatters 4

In my crit there were comments about the small punctum of colour being an entry point to the work, a little view of the world or another world. Of being drawn into the image, looking through the surface and finding yourself absorbed into the work. The slightly runic quality of the placement looking religious or ritualistic but also having a cinematic quality. Exploded moments of arrested movement. The idea of trying to solidify a glimmer of a partial thought.

1502 Everydaymatters 8

The Sarah Sze exhibition at Victoria Miro fully repaid the effort required to traipse over there in a bitter wind. The first gallery downstairs was all grids and space, a bit like Tron, creating mazes of perspective as line and depth moved as you circumnavigated.

Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze

So much detail, held together by dashes of  repeating colour. The long studio where Siobhan Davies dancers used to limber up was strewn with lichen crusted boulders in vibrant shades.

Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze

Some real, some not. Finally the grand arena upstairs laid out a response to all matter and all questions.

Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze

The Times newspaper, the everyday, a record of time passing with every image scalpeled out, leaving a high definition replacement showing the real news; the elements, the forces of nature. Ice, fire, earth all spotlit in the grand experiment of life.

Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze

Stripped back to basics, revealing the true beauty and complexity of the universe. Everyone who saw the show was awed and everyone felt it spoke to them and their practice.

Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze

Back at school there was a general consensus that Sarah Sze has cracked it, should we even bother to continue our pursuits.

The French writer Xavier de Maistre suggested back in 1790 in his essay ‘Journey Around My Bedroom’ that is was possible to enjoy the thrill of discovery without having to embark on a long voyage, travel to foreign parts or even leave the confines of your own room. To look with tourists eyes upon the familiar would reveal hitherto unnoticed phenomena offering an equally rich experience.

I have recently been playing the tourist on my visits to Paradise Row in Bethnal Green and Paradise Passage which runs alongside Paradise Park in Holloway.

1502 Paradise Row 2

Delighted to discover an appropriate spiritual behest above a more direct pursuit of happiness in one frame

1502 Paradise Row 3

and a personal reminder of old bosses from chefing days – Balls Brothers legacy

1502 Paradise Row 1

Paradise Passage is worth a visit at dusk

1502 Paradise Passage2

for the ethereal light of the sports pitches

1502 Paradise Passage 3

turning Holloway into holiday destination

1502 Paradise Passage 1

Any exhibition involving Esther Teichmann is going to be a sensual experience. We Come From the Water at Jonathan Miles new project space/gallery Lychee 1 submerses you in its dialogues like the water it speaks of in terms of a weight, an origin.

Esther Teichmann

Esther Teichmann

It was wonderful to encounter Chantal Faust’s work for the first time, her Plantlife series is stunning.

Chantal Faust

Chantal Faust

Carol Mavor weaves language and image to create weighted slippery moments.

Had the pleasure of attending Mark Ferelli’s Magic Lantern Show : Devil Daddy

1502 Ferelliweb

A ritual flame is brought to light the oil burner of a nineteenth century magic lantern.  A twist of fume travels out the painted tin chimney as a slow disc of warm, broad light illuminates on screen.  Within its orbit develops the image of a ruined chapel, alone, deep in the hills of a cruel heath-land landscape stricken by winter.

Weaving original film stills, contemporary location shots, bird song and spoken word, Ferelli re-imagines both time and setting of the ‘lost’ british folk horror film classic ‘Blood on Satan’s Claw’ (g.b.1970) evoking, prompting, the ethereal return of the film’s central character, ‘Angel Blake’, seductress, priestess and idiot savant to the monstrous, blood-thirsty hunger of an old pagan god. The ritual operation of lantern image, sound and spoken text navigate uneasy layers of simultaneity, born of the past film location and ever present film story, a performance crossing this uncanny landscape.

This event was prefaced by a selection of Edison’s Black Maria films and an excerpt from Hans Jurgen Syberberg’s 1977 seven and a half hour epic, Hitler: A Film From Germany.

Hans Jürgen Syberberg Hitler - A film from Germany

Hans Jürgen Syberberg Hitler – A film from Germany

I may never get beyond the opening credits of this surreal film but was captivated by the romantic backdrop and the voiceover which sets the premise on which the film evolves as an investigation into evil and guilt stating that if man is offered any amount of material wealth or the paradise of the imagination he will always choose paradise even when he knows it is false.

Our relationship to nature is close to the heart of one of my classmates, Gloria Ceballos who has just had an impressive solo show – Nature: a cultural artefact open at the Instituto Cervantes. Her work explores our experiences of nature in an urban environment focusing on the idea of three natures. 

Gloria Ceballos The Three Natures

Gloria Ceballos The Three Natures

I was recently asked by a male visitor at an exhibition if spiritual concerns were predominantly a female pursuit.

For Ana Mendieta in the 1970’s when a lot of land art was being made by artists such as Robert Smithson she felt her works were more spiritual and in tune with nature as opposed to the brutality of the industrial spirit. She left little trace in the landscape unlike her male contemporaries who were interested in the earth as material. She was interested in the earth’s sensual qualities, exploring the primary relationship of humanity with the earth as mother.  Through tapping into the ancient spirits of a primordial age and using the same elements of earth, fire and blood in her art as her ancestors used in their rituals she hoped to infuse her work with power and magic. She was often aligned with feminist and goddess groups but held firm that her work should not be tethered to gender issues, it was more universal.

Exploring the complexity of the female perspective today Disturbance was an exhibition culminating on International Women’s Day featuring Hermione Allsop, Alexandra Drawbridge, AnnaMaria Kardos, Paula MacArthur, Kate Murdoch, Mitra Saboury, Wendy Saunders, Susan Sluglett and Geraldine Swayne at Atom Gallery in Finsbury Park.

Kate Murdoch

Kate Murdoch

Kate Murdoch’s silent gathering bears witness to those unheard voices from the past when a girl was not expected to speak out.

My time at the RCA will soon be over. It’s been an incredible experience that I never imagined I would participate in.

After spending last summer wholly immersed in writing my dissertation I have had the honour of receiving a distinction. It wasn’t an easy birth so it’s really rewarding to find my energies were worthwhile and I ended up with something I can be proud of that will be archived at the Royal College of Art.

1502 Cover dissertation

The visions of paradise that we conjure in our imaginations will be influenced by our culture, personal aspirations and spiritual beliefs but however paradise manifests itself in our consciousness it will symbolize the promise of bliss.

Formed from joining the ancient Iranian words pairi, ‘around’ and daêza, ‘wall’, paradise was first used to describe a walled enclosure. Over time its meaning expanded to include the landscaped parks local nobles created to hunt animals trapped within their walls. These royal parks were lavishly planted with beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers and so paradise came to refer to any delightful garden. Ultimately used as epithet for the Garden of Eden, imagined as the most exquisite garden of them all,  its meaning became ever more sacred, taking on the very idea of Heaven itself.

Also I have met some personal challenges so am feeling good about that too.

One of the reasons I initially hesitated over applying to the RCA was the knowledge that as part of the MA I would be sent on a teaching placement. This terrifying possibility is now in the past. I went to Manchester School of Art and was made very welcome.

1502 circle of influences

My fears were unfounded and I was able to give a talk and tutorials which although an intense and exhausting experience was not the horrific one I imagined it would be. So I feel ready now to set a new challenge.

The myth of the wild man stretches back to the ancient tablets inscribed with the tale of Gilgamesh’s quest for immortality. As a barometer of the mores of society the wild man’s characteristics reflect topical fears and aspirations. If society is perceived to be corrupt the wild man symbolises natural wisdom, if society embraces convention the wild man represents anarchy. His character can also be assessed from the landscape he purportedly inhabits, a pastoral setting reveals an ideal to be strived for whereas the dark forest conceals the untamed savage.

Forest of Eden

Susan Eyre Forest of Eden

I wanted to discover a female counterpart to the contemporary wild man (an internet meme) I had placed back in the ancient forest.

Rather than a female on the edge of society I wanted a female at the centre of society.

Wondering who a contemporary goddess might be I was introduced to Bernadette by a mutual friend.

I spent some time with Bernadette, listening to her stories.  She is very proactive person in the local community and has had an impact as a campaigner for the Green Fair, uplifting some dark neglected spaces with vibrant mosaics, and more recently setting up the choir Shakti Sings recognisable in red with flowers in their hair who honour the earth through song and have become a mainstay at Glastonbury encouraging the crowds to keep the site clean. She has also established the Beacon Temple as a place of worship to honour the many goddesses in her own home. She kindly agreed to my taking some photos of her at home which I have used as basis for work focusing on connections between ancient spiritual beliefs and contemporary society. Her spiritual life requires that she gives up stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine as well as any contact with money. One of her missions is to uncover and document the ancient sites of goddess worship that have become hidden within the palimpsest of the city. The goddess Isis cropped up a lot in our conversations and so for one piece I used imagery from the ancient temple to Isis at Philae in Egypt, placing Bernadette within the sphere of the ancients yet maintaining her contemporary domesticity with her carpet and slippers. I was inspired by the exhibition Mirror City at the Hayward Gallery which refers to Jean Cocteau’s Film Orphée and the significance of a mirror as a portal to another world.

Considering Bernadette’s positioning as a portal between this world and the spirit world I screenprinted onto mirrored acrylic.

I am a portal

Susan Eyre I am a portal

In a second piece of work I took inspiration from the storytelling of Xanthe Gresham-Knight who weaves tales of ancient mythology into contemporary scenarios.  I used images conjured from her goddess tales such as the song of the white snake and the ear of corn she gives out at the end of her performances combined with wall paintings from Bernadette’s home to weave together the ancient with the everyday in a rich multi layered screenprint worthy of a goddess.

Her

Susan Eyre Her

At the RCA I was extremely lucky to be selected to have a masterclass with Susan Hiller who coincidently featured in the Mirror City exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. I have appreciated her work for a long time and share many of her interests.  It was an exciting and nerve wracking proposition to present my work to her. I had prepared a 10 minute power point as requested but after attending her lecture the week before felt this wasn’t perhaps the approach she would approve of. She seemed to find both the Powerpoint presentation and her in conversation partner for the lecture irritating. With her depth and breadth of experience she was going to be a difficult woman to impress.

She began by telling me that she finds printmaking to be an unsatisfactory medium to convey ideas. As I stuttered though my presentation I could feel her impatience growing.

I had used a favourite quote from artist Sergio Vega

“the concrete texture of perspiration” [ ] “that intimate battle with humidity – the monumentality of spaces, the exuberance of vegetation with that smell of ripe fruits, the exotic flowers in the never-ending heat, those sunburned colours, and the buzzing of mosquitoes, which, like fat angels of a tropical rococo, rue without mercy in the sky of Eden.”

She stopped me there and asked how the work I have produced so far addressed this problem of conveying such an experience.

I admitted I had not so far resolved this issue but have been thinking about this since. Sergio Vega also struggles with the problem of conveying an atmosphere, for example an experience of the forest rather than a depiction of the forest. The thing about the Tropicalia exported in the rococo style was its cleanness, its reduction to aesthetic – the mosquitoes  were not exported too. In his work Vega aims to show the sweat, the grotesque dictatorships, the poverty. It may not be possible to show all this in one piece of work but in a body of work over time maybe some of these issues can be addressed, even in printmaking. This is my challenge.

It was wonderful to spend a morning with Susan Hiller, she has an amazing mind – acute and resourceful. She did see a glimmer of hope in my etching Paradise HP2 and also in the spectrum print that was a chance discovery along the way.

Susan Eyre

Susan Eyre

Stephanie Rosenthal the curator of Mirror City describes the mirror as an unreal space, a virtual space like the world behind the screen where we spend more and more time. There was a lot of information to take in at this extensive show so the magical simplicity of Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq’s imaginings of objects from other worlds was memorable and his intense geometric black hole did pull you in.

Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq Black Hole III

Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq Black Hole III

Susan Hiller’s audio-visual installation Resounding (Infrared) relayed earthly accounts of possible extra terrestrial sightings mingled with recordings of static still audible from the big bang while the screen quivered and pulsed with coloured light waves.

Susan Hiller Resounding (infrared)

Susan Hiller Resounding (infrared)

The theatrical setting for Tai Shani’s performance pieces was set behind glass creating a sort of time capsule effect.

Tai Shani Dark Continent

Tai Shani Dark Continent

A world we cannot enter only dream of. In Dark Continent she fantasizes a utopian city of women, different characters in history represented by the Neanderthal Hermaphrodite, The Medieval Mystic and The Woman on the Edge of Time, all bearing the same face.

Tai Shani Dark Continent

Tai Shani Dark Continent

A pink fantasy of a genderless society.

Inspired to learn more about medieval mystics I signed up for an RCA reading group with Tai Shani. The text we were looking at was a section from Amy Hollywood, ‘Mysticism, Trauma, and catastrophe in Angela of Foligno’s Book and Bataille’s Atheological Summa’. Bataille identifies with Angela and seeks to experience the ecstasy she purports  to achieve  from a concentrated identification with the suffering of Christ on the cross.

Excerpt from the text …

It is impossible for me to read – at least most books. I don’t have the desire. Too much work tires me. My nerves are shattered. I get drunk a lot. I feel faithful to life if I eat and drink what I want. Life is an enchantment, a feast, a festival: an oppressing, unintelligible dream, adorned nevertheless with a charm that I enjoy. The sentiment of chance demands that I look a difficult fate in the face. It would not be about chance if there were not an incontestable madness. I began to read, standing on a crowded train, Angela of Foligno’ s Book of Visions. I’m copying it out, not knowing how to say how fiercely I burn  – the veil is torn in two, I emerge from the fog in which my impotence flails. (OC V 245; G 11)

Bataille opens his exploration of ecstatic anguish at the moment when World War II begins and claims that the war itself necessitates his text. Bataille finds his own tormented desire the very anguish that compels him to write reflected in Angela’s pages. Angela, the most important of the Christian mystics for Bataille, surpasses him in the pursuit of abjection and ecstasy.  He wants to be like her in her desire for and proximity to death: “I suffer from not myself burning to the point of coming close to death, so close that I inhale it like the breath of a loved being” (Oe V 246; G 12).

The discussion revolves around the idea of the rapture and how this ultimate dissolution of self over to ecstasy might be achieved.

Anselm Keifer had a major exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. I find his work very inspiring, the scale and exuberance of his paintings carved from the substance of the earth with all the pain and trauma of geological and social evolution. The gallery guide tells us he seeks to understand our purpose here on earth, our relationship with the celestial, the spiritual, and the weight of human history. He also has a fascination with the civilization of Mesopotamia and the story of Osiris and Isis.

1412 keifer Osiris and Isis

Anselm Kiefer, Osiris and Isis, 1985-87

At the summit of the pyramid is an extruded old television circuit board emanating golden wires and shards of pottery over the ancient steps to heaven.

I was intrigued by his use of geometry and references to ancient beliefs and mythologies.

Anselm Kiefer, The Rhine (Melancholia) (Der Rhein (Melancholia)), 1982-2013. Collage of woodcut on canvas with acrylic and shellac

Anselm Kiefer, The Rhine (Melancholia) (Der Rhein (Melancholia)), 1982-2013.
Collage of woodcut on canvas with acrylic and shellac

The Rhine (Melancholia) references Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia, an engraving dated from 1514 which appears to lay before us clues to the puzzles of the universe.

1412 Durur Melencolia

Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia

It was encouraging to hear Christiane Baumgartner talk about her work at Alan Cristea Gallery in such a down to earth manner, giving credence to intuition in her feel for colour and composition. She takes photographs of her TV screen and through diligence of process captures the flickering screen in a frozen moment. In her series Totentanz she witnesses the smoky death dance of a plane shot from the sky. Her work holds melancholia within it.

Christiane Baumgartner Totentanz 2013 series of 15 woodcuts on paper

Christiane Baumgartner Totentanz 2013 series of 15 woodcuts on paper

She seemed surprised herself to discover so much of her work references the war. Often her images may appear innocuous without their title which is what ultimately adds the layer of pathos removing it from sentimentality.

Chrisitane Baumgartner Wood near Colditz

Chrisitane Baumgartner Wood near Colditz

It is interesting how subtle shifts in the colour of paper and ink can change the atmosphere of an image. For the softground etching of the Chapel of Rest in Paradise Industrial Estate, Hemel Hempstead  I found a soft grey paper worked well with chine collé added over the windows. The grainy etching aged the building and using a lustre powder on the chine collé  reflecting opalescent when viewed at different angles gave the interior an other worldly aura that felt appropriate.

1412 Paradise HP2

Susan Eyre Paradise HP2

 

I aimed to take a piece of soulless architecture and give it some gravitas worthy of a resting place for souls.

 

 

Beguile the Night exhibition at Dark Matter Studio had quite a spiritual ambience.

Gary Colclough Uprooted

Gary Colclough Uprooted

The quiet and solitude of after dark meanderings in creative processes came across in a collection of work imbued with mystery.

Patrick Jackson Companion of Odysseus, Fleeing the Blinded Polyphemus

Patrick Jackson Companion of Odysseus, Fleeing the Blinded Polyphemus

The intensity of a directed concentration was evident in an opening up of space to reflect and wonder.

Mary Yacoub Proposal for Modernist Teepee in Poured Concrete

Mary Yacoub Proposal for Modernist Teepee in Poured Concrete

Marianne Walker Grotta (Neo-Delphic)

Marianne Walker Grotta (Neo-Delphic)

Zoe Dorelli The Division of the Waters

Zoe Dorelli The Division of the Waters

The exhibition Stranger than Fiction at the Science Museum was billed as questioning the truth and reliability of photographs.

Fauna - Joan Fontcuberta

Fauna – Joan Fontcuberta

Joan Fontcuberta is supposedly setting up a fiction that, through documentation, the viewer is lulled into believing.

The fauna series is both visually striking and disappointing. Bad taxidermy and impossible juxtapositions create sad undignified rather then magical creatures.

In some of the black and white aged photographs there might be something fantastical to be grasped at

Joan Fontcuberta

Joan Fontcuberta

but placing the evidence of the constructed enigma next to the documentation means all illusion vanishes.

This may be the intention.

Joan Fontcuberta

Joan Fontcuberta

The Orogenesis and Constallations seires were more rewarding for me, using a more subtle intervention in photography resulted in dramatic landscapes that you could get lost in.

The annual Deptford X festival proved an opportunity to catch up with new friends met though the neo:print prize.

Kaori Homma presented an interactive performance in the square as part of her ongoing interest in the conventions of the east/west divide set by the meridian line at Greenwich.

Homma Meridian

Homma Meridian – Deptford X

Carol Wyss was showing her beautiful large etchings in a summer house in the green and tangled setting of Old Tidemill Wildlife garden.

Carol Wyss

Carol Wyss

Carol constructs her etchings from images of human bones, building up the form with multiples of shoulder blades or tibia.

Also in the wild garden was artist Anita Gwynn with her detailed mono prints installed inside a polytunnel.

Anita Gwynn

Anita Gwynn

In the crypt of the magnificent St. Pauls Church in Deptford were 2014 Art Action UK award winners Komori & Seo showing their moving new work derived from working among the victims of the 2011 Tsunami and nuclear fallout disaster in Japan ‘Moving the Mountain’

Seo and Kamori Moving the Mountain

Seo and Kamori Moving the Mountain

We watch a woman returning to where her childhood town once stood, where her parents were swept away along with her neighbours and all the buildings, but not her memories. She washes and folds her parents clothes over and over, trying to dislodge all the sand from the fibres knowing every tear and abrasion in the fabric represents a trauma to her parents bodies during their violent death.

Read more here Art Action.

The magnitude of the loss has the same incredulity as a myth, how can a whole community be swept away so suddenly and with such force. The machinations of the gods seen in the power of nature.

The stories that Xanthe Gresham-Knight tells also hold you in awe. In her stories people are searching too. Searching for truth, searching for paradise.

I have been introduced to the wonderful Treadwell’s Bookshop. A bit late for my dissertation research but for future interests it promises information on any aspect of Western pagan spirituality or the esoteric traditions of Europe.

1410 Treadwells

Downstairs with wine and snacks Xanthe gave an amazing physical performance of hypnotic singing, playing the accordion and morphing into a myriad of characaters.

She tells of Celtic poets who would make a boat from the flash of a teardrop and sail out to the Land of the Ever Young in search of a goddess.

Centuries later, a man, desperately googling for a Paradise Bride accidentally summons ‘Her’ again. …  ancient myths of Britain and Ireland collide with the modern world.

It couldn’t have been more apt, a collision of ancient and modern still searching for paradise.

More storytelling at Holborn Library with Jose Damasceno’s PLOT an Artangel commission.

Local authority libraries on the whole are not very inspiring environments. On the ground floor the architectural figures on the ceiling and decimated encyclopeadias did not manage to compete with the setting.

It wasn’t until we reached the fourth floor that we were suddenly transported into the drama of a possible plot.

1410 Jose Damasceno 2

A bizarre empty theatre space of panelled wood and reflections

Jose Damasceno

Jose Damasceno

lit with the pink fluoerescne escaping from the small high windows of a room where a neon sculpture is held and is only made visible via a monitor in the outside corridor.

Jose Damasceno

Jose Damasceno

Another world  where the laws of physics appear overturned is the digital space.

Digital Revolution at The Barbican

Digital Revolution at The Barbican

Our known perceptions of landscape are challenged here.

will.i.am debut artwork with Yuri Suzuki

will.i.am debut artwork with Yuri Suzuki

There was spectacle in immersive scale allowing you to physically enter the space

1410 Digital Revolution 2

and engage with common fantasies

communicating with other species

1410 Digital Revolution 1410 Digital Revolution 1

being plunged into a drama set in the place of your birth

even Kessingland

1410 Digital Revolution 7

or being transformed into a bird and flying

Chris Milk The Treachery of Sanctuary

Chris Milk The Treachery of Sanctuary

There was a reminder of research from my dissertation –

1410 Digital Revolution 0

the dystopian future of London in Kibwe Tavare’s short film, Robots of Brixton

Robots of Brixton

Robots of Brixton

I didn’t end up writing about the film but it made me want to see it and it kind of fitted with ideas of urban bad/rural good that abound through the ages.

The mythologizing of the rural began even before Virgil’s ‘Bucolics’ and continues today massaged by technological spectacle in mass entertainments such as ‘Avatar’.

Handing in the final document of my dissertation ‘Finding Paradise’ unleashed a new energy.

Back for my second year at the RCA its time to put all that thinking into my work.

1410 Chapel of Rest

After such a break from making over the summer spent at the computer screen I thought the best thing to do was to just get on with something.

I started a soft ground etching of the Chapel of Rest in Paradise Industrial Estate, Hemel Hempstead.

1410 softground peel

While working with my magnifying lens there was a moment of euphoria – a bit like finding that illusive paradise

1410 spectrum

I am excited by this new development

 

I so loved Nick Abrahams exhibition at The Horse Hospital.

“Lions and Tigers and Bears” – the fears of the forest that haunted Dorothy and her companions as they followed the yellow brick road

1408 nick abrahams_0001

Nick Abrahams makes short films, sculptural and installation pieces.

A wild man sings power ballads around Hampstead Heath and explores the suburban streets by night

Nick Abrahams 'The Wild Man'

Nick Abrahams ‘The Wild Man’

Dogs perform dance routines to the music of Iggy Pop

Nick Abrahams - Doghouse

Nick Abrahams – Doghouse

His award winning film Ekki Mukk is a beautiful and poignant story of a man, a snail and a fox.

I bought the 7″ single with recordings of a snail eating, a fox sleeping and sounds recorded of nature under the Tolpuddle Tree, the site of the birth of the first trade union.

Shirley Collins the film narrator tells a magical tale.

Nick Abrahams 7" single

Nick Abrahams 7″ single

These pieces are suggesting a way to look with your eyes shut,

Nick Abrahams - Fox Sleeping

Nick Abrahams – Fox Sleeping

bearing witness to the British countryside that you may not always be able to notice, a landscape that is both political and mystical, alive as it is with ‘animal magick’.

Nick Abrahams - wild man illustations

Nick Abrahams – wild man illustrations

Rachel Champion looks at urban architecture and energy in her installation at Hales gallery.

Pools of green algae sit in what might have been an abandoned attempt at some suburban municipal space.

Rachel Champion - Primary Producers

Rachel Champion – Primary Producers

Pebbledash has such resonance of the cheap and ugly that walking around this work is a bit of a dour experience.

The punched out circles glinting with the promise of little worlds, maybe offering the wonder of the rock pool, instead present a prosaic stagnant puddle more reminiscent of the back yard bucket.

Or flowerpot in my case.

1408 back yard algae

In its aim to highlight the successes and failures of the cheap fix and reassess materials it is an effective installation. The artist is hoping that we will look with new eyes for unexpected saviours to our urban afflicted energy crisis.

I went to the WYSIWYG? (What you see is what you get?) discussion evening at South London Gallery to hear more about What happens to Art in a Digital World.

Too many speakers had been booked for the time available so it was a shame they had to rush, rather like me in my end of year exam with 58 images in 15 minutes.

I was hoping for a bit more discussion about the immersive possibilities of virtual gallery spaces but the focus was more how technology is used in institutions or by artists rather than the experience of entering a new space online.

It was still interesting and we could try out some technological innovations.

ChairAXJ01 designed by Joe Want and Andrea Concha

ChairAXJ01 designed by Joe Want and Andrea Concha

Joe Want and Andrea Concha have designed a chair that records the unique movements of the sitter and creates a graphic depiction that can be controlled a bit by wriggling around  in your seat.

My personal graphic made by sitting in ChairAXJ01

My personal graphic made by sitting in ChairAXJ01

Melanie Lenz from the V&A talked about the difficulties of archiving digital art due to commercial upgrades of the necessary hardware and software.

Julia Crabtree and William Evans spoke about their exhibition at South London Gallery made by using 3d imaging techniques to create digital smoke then capturing the image and finally printing it onto carpet so in fact the image begins digitally and then ends up in a physical form.

Julia Crabtree and William Evans

Julia Crabtree and William Evans

Natalie Kane spoke about the power of  algorithms in connection with the artist Jonus Lund and his exhibition Fear of Missing Out, and TED talks from Christopher Steiner and Kevin Slater.

An essay by Christopher Pinney – Future Travel: Anthropology and Cultural Distance in an age of Virtual Reality; Or, A Past Seen From a Possible Future which was recommended to me by Esther Teichmann is interesting reading on the possible effects of digital technologies on everyday life. Thinking about cyberspace in terms of a space for a new paradise tailored to your own specification. Pinney’s view, looking back from an imagined future, sees physical and moral boundaries being broken with total sensual experiences allowing unlimited sex and no need to travel.

‘The Nether’ a new play by Jennifer Haley at The Royal Court Theatre tackles similar issues.

The Nether

The Nether

Popa has created his own dream space, a house populated by young children in Victorian dress with whom he and the guests to his world can have sex and then axe to death.

An argument unfolds on stage about the need for the same moral codes we employ in reality to be enforced in cyberspace. Popa’s plea is that no real children are harmed, the characters are avatars of adult participants in this world.

The Nether

The Nether

This virtual world felt very visceral when reaction to such a dilemma is sort.

Entering a very different staged environment I finally stepped over the threshold of the RA annual summer exhibition  My first visit to this annual institution  was in the belief that things are changing backstage, its updating and bringing in new blood. Also two of my RCA classmates had won a prize and a few other people I know were in it. Time to stop being sniffy. It was good to see Pauline Emond’s etching and Wuon-Geon Ho’s artist book.

Wuon-Gean Ho receiving her prize for 'unending forest'

Wuon-Gean Ho receiving her prize for ‘Unending Forest’

Wuon-Gean Ho - unending forest

Wuon-Gean Ho – Unending Forest

Pauline Emond with her winning work Regarde De Tous Tes Yeux

Pauline Emond with her winning work ‘Regarde De Tous Tes Yeux’

I was surprised how many names I recognised in the selection and how many red dots there were.

Maybe I’ll even have a go in future.

1408 Azores 9

It seemed appropriate to be reading Raymond Williams ‘People of the Black Mountains’ in the Azores even though the book is set in Wales.

1408 Raymond Williams

The islands have a black volcanic landscape, still very primeval in parts with bubbling hot springs and paralysed lava flows.

 

1408 Azores 7

These tiny islands are also a mixture of the pastoral

1408 Azores 6

and the tropical – in a garden setting

1408 Azores 8

there are inaccessible forest covered mountains

1408 Azores 3

and the blazing sun can turn to thick fog in minutes

1408 Azores 4

With all the rain and fog it’s moist and things grow

1408 Azores 2

everywhere

1408 Azores 1

best discovery was the crumbling ruin of 5* Hotel Monte Palace high on a volcanic ridge

1408 Azores 11

emerging from thick fog at the end of a tortuous jeep ride along tiny precipitous roads

1408 Azores 5

built only 30 years ago it never fulfilled its owner’s dream and has been left to rot

1408 Azores 10

The eerie atmosphere of abandoned space is echoed in Suzanne Moxhay’s constructed images

Suzanne Moxhay  - Copse

Suzanne Moxhay – Copse

Her work was part of ‘The Combinational’ at Studio 1.1 curated by Paul Carey-Kent, last years gallery fund-raiser ‘lottery winner’

'The Combinational' at Studio 1.1

‘The Combinational’ at Studio 1.1

I was drawn to the ethos of the show-

“The found and the collaged are dominant modern modes; what artists choose to use, and how and why they present or combine them, count for more than their ability with traditional techniques.

One could also say that life in most of the world is less about individual survival than it would have been in pre-modern eras, more about how we live together and whether we can survive that.”

I bought a ticket for this years lottery, so fingers crossed.

Despite a raging thunder storm the opening of Ochre Originals showing two pieces of my work at New Ashgate Gallery was really busy.

My work at New Ashgate Gallery

Rainforest Section 1 and 2

I have been reading in my research about paradise how the botanical garden emulates ideas of Eden with its mix of species cultivated together in a garden.

It offers a tame nature, we look like we are in control

and then this happened

Collapse of paradise

Collapse of paradise

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.