Archives for posts with tag: primordial

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.

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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.

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

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

 

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

1604 Le Rayon Vert

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

1604 Sophie Sleigh-Johnson

1604 Jeffrey Dennis

Jeffrey Dennis The Green Ray

1604 Anna Barriball

Anna Barriball Sunrise/Sunset XII

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Daniel O’Sullivan Palm Beach

1604 The Green Ray Phil Coy Yellowed Sun

Phil Coy Yellowed Sun

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

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

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

1603 Terra Tremula Juliette Losq

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

1604 Shelagh Wakely (1)

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

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

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Maud Cotter Litter Bin

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

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Maud Cotter Matter of Fact

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

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

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

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

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

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

1412 Her

Her

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zina Saro-Wiwa Phyllis

Laure Prouvost We Know We Are Just Pixels

1604 Laure Prouvost

Jordan Wolfson Animation,masks

Tai Shani The Vampyre

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

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

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

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