Archives for posts with tag: wonder

In my practice I spend a lot of time thinking about the past rather than the future, researching origins and myths. History changes with the telling and the future is full of probabilities. In Carlo Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physics the sixth lesson asks the question ‘what is the present?’ Physicists and philosophers have come to the conclusion that the present is an illusion and time does not flow, but this is not how we experience the world. Compare ‘now’ with ‘here’. ‘Here’ is subjective to where it is spoken. ‘Now’ is subjective to the instant it is spoken. Both terms are indexical. We wouldn’t claim only things that are ‘here’ exist so why do we say only things that are ‘now’ exist? The problem isn’t solved but it is believed to have something to do with thermodynamics (heat does flow) and our limited capacity to comprehend the universe. A supersensible being would experience the universe as a single block of past, present and future.

1602 London Lumiere 1

The London Lumiere event changed the city temporarily, bouncing some photons around which brought people out onto the streets for a bit of wonderment.

1602 London Lumiere 6

It was the coldest night to be out but there were some magical moments to be had.

1602 London Lumiere 2

Litre of Light – use simple technology with recycled plastic bottles and water to provide sustainable solar lighting for communities across the world. Fantastic idea and I liked that these bottle ends look like a myriad of suns.

1602 London Lumiere 4

Spectra-3 is an interactive light and sound installation by Field who create hi-tech experiences with a human touch. Supposedly tracking the audience it looked like it had latched onto to something more interesting in the cosmos. Liking this other work of theirs –  New Nature

Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho’s video installation  The Ways of Folding Space and Flying is an archaeological quest into human civilization.

1601 Venice Korea Moon Kyungwon Jeon Jooho 4 (2)

In this multiscreen installation we are dwarfed by giant projections. Voyeurs peering through portholes at this lone explorer on her voyage, sleeping, taking exercise, discovering new experiences.

1601 Venice Korea Moon Kyungwon Jeon Jooho 4 (1)

Both futuristic and retrospective the artists are inspired by Taoist practice, supernatural powers and the desire to fly. Their protagonist appears in a state of wonder exploring the unknown.

1601 Venice Korea Moon Kyungwon Jeon Jooho 4 (4)

Giving ground to the meditative and emancipatory effects of  complex human desires it allows us to dream and wonder what an other future might hold.

Lee Lee Nam shows technical wizardry in a series of digital works. Moving gently through the seasons this traditional landscape is in a constant captivating cycle of rebirth.

The characters on a traditional scroll dissolve, falling away pixel by pixel

1601 Venice Lee Lee Nam (3)In the centre of the room a captive dove beats its wings as it is plunged beneath the water.

1601 Venice Lee Lee Nam (8)

I thought Lu Yang’s video work Moving Gods. was really interesting, the imagery playing with desire and attraction, worked on me.

1601 Venice China Lu Yang (1)

An ethnically diverse male group play out some ritual that references video games, mythology and religious iconography.

1601 Venice China Lu Yang (3)

A mash up of superheroes, fashion iconostas and saints that plays on the attraction of power and the use of symbol to establish status.

1601 Venice China Lu Yang (2)

She is out to deconstruct and uses new technologies to question our emotional and bodily relationships to a digital world.

Introduced to Hito Steryl via her e-flux essays on digital culture I was keen to see her new work at the Venice Biennale. Entering the space of her video installation Factory of the Sun was like entering digital space in Tron fashion.

1601 Venice Germany  Hito Steryl (1)

The room, pulsating with dance beats, was transformed into a 3D graphic grid with deckchairs and loungers to lie back in and be transported to the future. 1601 Venice Germany  Hito Steryl (2)

Fast moving and mesmerizing dancers morph and rotate in a game like scenario where a new digital light transfers reality into digital culture. There is an underlying menace in this frenetic world as borders collapse and the gun may or may not be real.

It makes me think of the curse of the red shoes.

 

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‘For everyone who has philosophized, now or in the past, has been motivated only by wonder. Now, wonder is defined as a constriction and suspension of the heart caused by amazement at the sensible appearance of something so portentous, great, and unusual, that the heart suffers a systole. Hence wonder is something like fear in its effect on the heart. This effect of wonder, then, this constriction and systole of the heart, springs from an unfulfilled but felt desire to know the cause of that which appears portentous and unusual…’ Albertus Magnus (1200-1280) Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle.

This quote is from ‘The Artificial Kingdom’ by Celeste Olalquiaga a book recommended to me by artist Bridgette Ashton who I met when she led a walking tour of Hackney all about the Loddiges’ Nursery 1785 – 1852.

Bridget Ashton  Leading the walk

Bridget Ashton leading Loddiges’ Miscellanea Walk

We looked out for clues left behind from the Loddiges hothouses and exotic gardens that once were here.

Hackney

History in Hackney

Trees like this have been in the area for 200 years yet still they remain other.

Hackney

Hackney Town Hall

Bridget has a fascination with the Monkey Puzzle Tree.

Bridget Ashton Monkey Puzzle

Bridget Ashton Monkey Puzzle
papier mache, glitter, soap, found object

Bridget Ashton  Monkey Puzzle Tree Presentation Case

Bridget Ashton
Monkey Puzzle Tree Presentation Case

The Loddiges’ Miscellanea walk was part of  ‘Wintergarden’ a collaboration between Sutton House and Transition Gallery.

Sutton House

Sutton House

Sutton house was an elegant backdrop to work that references the public pleasure houses of the mid 19th Century where tropical flora and fauna were displayed often for the first time in Europe.

Alison Stolwood Dark Green Fritillary on Wildlife Attracting Mix

Alison Stolwood
Dark Green Fritillary on Wildlife Attracting Mix
photomontage, digital c-type print

Focussing on contemporary artificiality and fake environments, the artists embrace the notion of a self conscious spectacle in the remaking of nature.

Rachael Adams

Rachael Adams

 

Mimei Thompson Rhododendron Screen

Mimei Thompson
Rhododendron Screen

Jo Wilmot Neon Lights

Jo Wilmot
Neon Lights

Jackie Chettur Ivor's Chrysanthemums'

Jackie Chettur
Ivor’s Chrysanthemums’

Jackie Chettur 'I set out to pick a yellow bunch to place as a lamp on my table'

Jackie Chettur
I set out to pick a yellow bunch to place as a lamp on my table
white modelling wax, wax colour pigment, silk, wire, copper jug

International Lawns with Rebecca Eastland  Joppatowne (The Gunpowder Falls)

International Lawns with Rebecca Eastland
Joppatowne (The Gunpowder Falls)
water clear casting resin

Darius Lambert

Darius Lambert

Cathy Lomax Aloha from Hawaii

Cathy Lomax
Aloha from Hawaii
oil on card, mirrors on rotating mirror turntable

Cathy Lomax Aloha from Hawaii

Cathy Lomax
Aloha from Hawaii

Annabel Dover Holy Mountain

Annabel Dover
Holy Mountain
cut paper, glass dome, papier mache

Annabel Dover Phantasm

Annabel Dover
Phantasm
cut paper, orchid cloche , peat

Annabel Dover Lux

Annabel Dover
Lux
dressing table mirrors, cocktail glasses, cut out hothouse flowers

Went to two very interesting talks at the RCA , Peter Kennard whose photo-collage work has a political agenda and David Rayson who dreams of escaping suburbia aboard a galleon bound for some exotic island of the imagination.

Peter Kennard is concerned with getting a message across so admits his work may sometimes appear unsubtle, but then he has created some iconic images that are globally recognisable.

Peter Kennard

Peter Kennard

David Rayson makes drawings that originate in his own back yard but often offer a way out to sail to distant shores.

There were so many of his ideas that I relate to.

David Rayson

David Rayson

Listening to these speakers helped me think about ideas for my dissertation – to clarify the difference between utopia (Peter Kennard –  social ideology) and paradise (David Rayson – fantasy landscape).

I thought these painting by Caleb Taylor look interesting. Showing in NYC though – only saw this via the re-title.com newsletter.

I like what they have to say about the idea of access open/denied. Looking through.

Caleb Taylor  Space Gate I - Pull 2012 Oil and acrylic on canvas

Caleb Taylor
Space Gate I – Pull
2012
Oil and acrylic on canvas

Bands of dark grey and black paint, like bars of a gate, sweep across the surface in broad gestures – vertically, horizontally, or crisscrossing – blocking or revealing the more luminous bright colors underneath. Gates serve a dual purpose: they deny entry, but they also allow it. This tension and duality carries on in Taylor’s work with investigations into what is near/far, foreground/background, concealed/revealed. According to Taylor, his paintings “create non-specific places where modes of looking are as much the content as material, subject or presentation strategy”.

Fascinating to read about how Gina Soden creates her atmospheric photographs on Rise Art website

Mine:Changing Room Gina Soden

Mine:Changing Room Gina Soden

‘I like to shoot at the best time of day if possible, the ‘Golden Hour’. The light is thick and takes over the scene, picking up a lot of texture. In high contrast scenes such as these, many cameras find it hard to depict all of the tonal range in one single exposure, so I blend around 5-9 shots, painting in different layers of exposures, (depending on the scene) to gain the best possible dynamic range in one shot. This is otherwise known as HDR. The process brings out the shadow detail and gives a painterly feel to the image. I chose this aesthetic as I like to breathe life into the scenes, in certain light the colours can look dull and flat in camera and I like to be able to depict what my eyes can see, with a bit of extra pop. I also like to shoot the ceiling, middle and floor of the image (5 shots each sometimes with the HDR process, so the image can made out of 15-18 images) If it is a wide angle scene with lots of verticals, this tilt shift lens gives me little to no distortion, and I have a HUGE file at the end of the process which can be printed at a very large size.’

Who gets more visceral than Matthew Barney.

Matthew Barney 'Cremaster'

Matthew Barney ‘Cremaster’

I went to hear him in conversation with Jonathan Bepler. Together they are developing a new film project ‘River of Fundament’.

River of Fundament

River of Fundament

The starting point for this project is Norman Mailers 1983 novel ‘Ancient Evenings’ which tells stories of reincarnation, mythology, violent and hyper sexual gods from the age of the pharaohs in Egypt. I haven’t read this book but it is described by readers as anything from a literary masterpiece of astounding brilliance, the greatest gay love story ever told though to disgusting grotesque violence and simply masturbating shit onto the page.

Matthew Barney, Ancient Evenings: Ba Libretto, 2009, Ink, graphite and gold leaf on paperback copy of Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer, on carved salt base

Matthew Barney, Ancient Evenings: Ba Libretto, 2009, Ink, graphite and gold leaf on paperback copy of Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer, on carved salt base

Matthew Barney always appears so serious and deliberating. He doesn’t give the impression that the work he will produce will be messy and sticky and barely possible to look at.
Unphased by a question from the audience about his feelings regarding an afterlife he replied in the same thoughtful manner giving respect to an off the wall interjection from someone recently bereaved.
We were shown unedited film excerpts from the work so far. They get under your skin.
There is beauty and majesty in shots filmed at a steel foundry and there are the basest bodily functions performed as ritual celebrations. It is operatic in conception and mixes the filming of live performance with more choreographed staging a scene to be filmed.
His response to why he chose such a character as Norman Mailer as inspiration is that he prefers to work with a subject that repels as well as attracts him.
He believes this dichotomy of feelings gives his work an edge, a challenge – like the artist Andrew Salgado explained when asked why he chose to paint a serial killer.
Don’t make it easy.
Those feelings are translated in to the work and the audience becomes challenged too.

Matthew Barney 'Cremaster'

Matthew Barney ‘Cremaster’

The definition of visceral – relating to deep inner feelings rather than the intellect.
So a deep spiritual experience could be visceral but not unsettling.
I think ‘River of Fundament’ will be intellectually challenging and visceral and quite unsettling.
There will also be moments of wonder that will be the reward for having to watch some of it squinting through your fingers.

Also as part of The Manchester International Festival was a Tino Sehgal performance piece ‘This Variation’ which tapped into the visceral.

Mayfield Depot

Mayfield Depot

Directed into a dark space of the Mayfield Depot the first reaction is to reach out – when these tentative approaches touch another body the reaction is to pull back.
The lighting level is so low that on entering the space the new participant is blind. In the space are an unknown number of performers beat boxing, singing, or calling out questions.
In the pitch black I decided the best policy was to remain immobile. Voices chanted and bodies began to move, dancing and stamping and sweeping past so close the air was alive, brushing my body so close while I stood, not believing they could see me, waiting for a major impact. I imagined I had been captured in the forest and was at the mercy of a wild and uncontrolled people, unable to escape. It went on long enough to worry how I would ever get out but eventually my eyes or the light levels adjusted and I was able to witness more people stumbling into the space before I left feeling I had truly been transported elsewhere.

In Venice at the Biennale there were more artists who delivered work that also had a visceral impact.
The most unsettling was perhaps at the pavilion of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva was ‘exploring the effects of the silk route and how mobility can spread disease as well as commerce.

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva  'Silentio Pathologia'

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva ‘Silentio Pathologia’

A route through the pavilion was mapped out in curtains made from the flayed skins of albino rats and the woven cocoons of silk worms.

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva 'Silentio Patho;ogia'

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva ‘Silentio Pathologia’

It was the smell that was most powerful and also the sight of some live rats in wire cages trapped amid the stench of the death of their own kind.

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva 'Silentio Patho;ogia'

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva ‘Silentio Pathologia’

Another but very different bodily impact came from Poland.

Konrad Smolenski created a sound installation which was so loud as to be unbearable to approach.

Konrad Smolenski 'Everything was forever, Until it was no more'

Konrad Smolenski ‘Everything was forever, Until it was no more’

Kimsooja in the Korean Pavilion also plunged the visitors into darkness but it was not a threatening space, aware of the other people who had entered the small space alongside you by number system it was not isolated or long enough to develop any real sense of displacement.

Korean Pavilion

Korean Pavilion

The entrance however was a more alarming experience, supposedly a kaleidoscopic light diffraction experience it was in fact an embarrassing realisation that the mirror flooring showed right up your skirt.

Petrit Halilaj for Kosovo used memory to dig into the psyche of everyone who grew up able to dig and play in the soil.

Petrit Halilaj

Petrit Halilaj

He created an earth tunnel inspired by memories of a rural childhood before displacement, destruction and exodus reshaped his world.

Petrit Halilaj

Petrit Halilaj

Able to enter this dark space sprouting with twigs and roots like the lair of some large beast I was glad to exit without encountering some living thing to make me shriek.

I might have had a rural childhood too but now I am firmly urban and terrified of those tiny creatures that inhabit the wild.

Ali Kazma for Turkey explored the reactions we have to our own body in his video installation ‘Resistance’.

Ali Kazma 'Resistance'

Ali Kazma ‘Resistance’

A line of body builders flex their muscles on the giant screen; a group of young girls in the audience squirm in disgust.

Ali Kazma 'Resistence'

Ali Kazma ‘Resistence’

Not sure how I would bring these sorts of feelings into my own work but it is an interesting exercise to think about.

These feelings which are so fundamental, so deep within that to stir them is to feel alive, be conscious of mortality.

130731 (2)

work in progress

My visit to the Venice Biennale was marked by my receiving news that I had a place at the Royal College of Art for the Autumn.  A great start to a very inspiring few days.

It does feel a bit like I am going to be launched into space. Exciting and an amazing opportunity but also not knowing what to expect with anxieties that I will be lost or unable to cope.

Bedwyr Williams ‘The Starry Messenger’ and Sarah Sze’s Triple Point both explore feelings of place within the universe. Very apt for my frame of mind.

Wales in Venice

Wales in Venice

‘The Starry Messenger’ explores the relationships between stargazing and the individual, the cosmos, and the role of the amateur in a professional world.

Inside the former church and convent in a darkened room there is a small observatory with a door ajar through which we can see the starry cosmos. There is the sound of a man weeping, just like Kevin does when he thinks about the vastness of space and his own insignificance. Moving through the installation you walk under glass with household objects placed on its surface above your head which I took as a possible reference to Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing ‘A cloudburst of material possessions’. Maybe it is space debris.

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

There is a film with a Mighty Boosh style protagonist who represents a character trapped within a mosaic mural.

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

From the geological formation of stone out of oozing mud through its journey and subsequent use in a mural to the demolition of the building and its return to the earth. From looking out at the stars through a telescope to ‘staring into space’ the outer and inner worlds collide in a wonderfully amusing narrative encompassing the life the universe and everything dialogue.

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

Bedwyr Williams The Starry Messenger

Sarah Sze explores the desire to locate our place within a disorienting world.

Sarah Sze Triple Ponit

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Her fragile sculptures echo the balance and chaos of the world around us.

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Sarah Sze Triple Point

They appear to spin or be in the process of expansion, beautifully mysterious like the working of the atom or the universe they are full of wonder.

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Playing with pattern, order and taxonomy she creates a laboratory busy in its own pursuits which makes us feel we are close to understanding something great.

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Sarah Sze Triple Point

I was excited to see she had used moss a lot throughout this installation, even turning its image into wallpaper.

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Sarah Sze Triple Point

Triple Point refers to the phase when gas, liquid and solid form of a substance are all in equilibrium, her use of natural forms keep our ideas grounded in our surroundings while drawing us into the mysteries of evolution.

The extraordinary collection of stones once owned by artist Roger Caillois were on display in the Central Pavillion.

Roger Caillois Stones

Roger Caillois Stones

Caillois believed that nature should be examined as something other than as the utilitarian force that Darwin purported and that aesthetics and the need for decoration should be considered integral to our understanding of the natural world.

Roger Caillois Stones

Roger Caillois Stones

He considered the beautiful patterns within ancient natural forms were a sort of cryptic ‘universal syntax’, a unifying aesthetic language.

Roger Caillois Stones

Roger Caillois Stones

He wanted to understand the mysteries of the subjective experience through its relationship to factual reality.

I find it fascinating trying to understand the aesthetic experience.

Gerhard Richter’s tapestries at Gagosian, Davies Street emanate pure aesthetic pleasure, colours and form coalesce erupt and fade.

These works are based on Abstract Painting (724-4) (1990). The visual effect of the tapestries is a Rorschach-like multiplying of the forms and colours of the original canvas.

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter

Like entering a hypnotic state, like staring into space both literally and metaphorically you are transported to a place where it feels familiar and strange at the same time.

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter

Venice was a perfect location to think about mysteries, the sacred and the wonders of the world.

1307 Monastry