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Spes Contra Spem
A Dialectic Between the Sacred and the Profane Essence of Material Separation
I change but I cannot die
Shelley, ‘The Cloud’ 76
To unfold, merge and unfold again creation myths and evolutionary ideas into a layered, mythopoietic narrative, concerning human separation from nature in the recently defined Anthropocene:
- offering a sense of connectedness with existence lying beyond the reach of our own time;
- seen through a window onto another world reflecting the tensions existing in dynamic relationships.
To entangle parallel narratives in words, objects and sound;
whilst researching and developing ways of encoding and implementing information embedded in those narratives,
employing a variety of digital and non-digital strategies to create different modes of engagement,
layering modalities in such a way as to catalyse open interpretations connected in fluid ways,
using sculpture centred on ceramic material, sound, words, and moving and still images in an installation,
incorporating the idea of evolutionary space formulated in the Research Statement.
Contemporary and Modern
Artists dealing with the deep past, using a variety of modalities with atavistic perspectives, particularly sound, sculpture, virtual reality and words, including: Marguerite Hameau, Mohshin Allayaii, Mimmo Paladino. and Andrew Lord.
Poetry: Ted Hughes and Rebecca Elson – cosmological and existential
Sound – Wolfgang Gil creating invisible form in which geometry is delineated with sound.
Science Fiction – Philip K. Dick – political, social and philosophical explorations in monopolistic societies; Walter M. Miller Jr. – A Canticle for Liebowitz – the cyclical nature of history and religion vs secularism. Ursula Le Guin – The Left Hand of Darkness – gender in another world.
Studio â€“ shared with Janet Waring Rago in continual conversation and reciprocal interrogation; a chapel in rural Lincolnshire removed from the artificiality of the city amidst a man-made countryside – a paradox reflected in my work which questions the place and effect of humans with respect to Nature of which we are part.
MA Peer group
Evolutionary theories – Richard Dawkins, Stephen J Gould, Darwin, Pinker, E. O. Wilson and others.
Spes Contra Spem – the enigmatic Latin phrase from Romans 4.18, in the KJV, ‘who against hope believed in hope’ or more literally, ‘hope against hope’. This phrase has many meanings and has been paraphrased in a variety of ways, variations of which can be found in the Bible and other texts.
Evolutionary Space – A term coined in the Research Statement which describes art practice as a complex boundless system continually adapting to an ever-changing ecosystem in contact with other ecosystems.
Rasa – the Indian aesthetic system of emotions or feelings that cannot be described; somewhat similar to qualia but more complex.
Process Philosophy – everything is continually changing as a cornerstone of reality linking with the contentious but poetic notion of panpsychism.
John Dewey – Art in Experience. Art and its meaning, contextually residing in how it is perceived and experienced rather than in the artwork itself.
Martin Heidegger – The Origin of the Work of Art – describing the artistâ€™s relationship with their work, the nature of that work, and its relationship with the world.
Kraft von Maltzhan – ˜Nature as Landscape”, a brief history of knowledge and our changing relationship with nature.
Roberto Mangabeira – “ human agency and the dynamics between the individual, state and nature.
Gareth Jones – The Object of Sculpture, traces the history of the reciprocal relationship between sound, music, sculpture, and architecture.
Wolfgang Gil – sonic plasticity. Using sound and its physical geometry in space
On Art – Richard L. Anderson ‘culturally significant meaning skilfully encoded in an affecting sensual medium’; David Bayles and Ted Orlando, art changes the artist and the world.
Symbiosis – Lyn Margulis, The Symbiotic Planet. We are all composite creatures sharing the same body.
Art Object as Agent – idea that corresponds an artwork to a living entity that engenders social interaction with by considering it as an agent rather than an object. – van Eck, Gell, etc.
Magic and myth – texts on religious and secular ritual, development and cosmology: Graves, The White Goddess; Fraser, The Golden Bough, Lucretius, De Rerum Natura; Aristotle, Plato and pre-Socratics, etc.
Religious and sacred iconography – from around the world and different periods: anthropological and archaeological.
Natural History and Art – Ernst Haeckel, Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka, Rodin.
Biology – Life processes and structure; connectedness and evolution; traversal and sentience.
Florence – formative period of ten years immersed in the Classical, Humanist, Renaissance, and Romantic culture, engendering a strong sense of the materiality of art both in making, content and experience.
Linnean Society – source of natural historical narratives in the oldest extant natural history society in the world.
Separation – (or awakening) of the human self from nature. Influential texts include those of Martin Buber, Robert Graves, Richard Dawkins, Kraft von Maltzhan, and Lewis-Hamilton amongst others. The emergence of life and traversals of complexity; the emergence of the â€œIâ€, labels and language.
Metamorphosis – of matter and idea as continuity in a world of constant and cyclical change.
Language – as a vehicle for communication and miscommunication.
Struggle – Life, contingency and inevitability.
The Anthropocene – “ Whatever did the Gardener do to Eden?
Creation myths and religion – explicators of mysteries? Principle sources include amongst others: Ovidâ€™s Metamorphoses; The Bible; texts on evolution including Darwin’s, On the Evolution of Species.
My practice is driven by the feeling of flux being the natural state of things and that I am connected to the most distant time by an unbroken thread of contingent events: the indissoluble strength of the past and the vulnerability of a fragile future existence centred on the axis mundi of the self. I give this shape, synthesising rational and poetic thought at the point of giving material form. I aim to make this corporeal through ceramic material whose alchemical process of transformation links me with the past through its brittle archaeology and beyond that as a fossil of its living, malleable self. I create a space in which layered and intersecting meanings can come into existence, catalysed and unfolding into a multitude of inferences. Within this conceptual space shared between visual, tactile, verbal and acoustic modalities, resonances are delivered at differing rates encouraging the building of subjective correspondences. Modularity of thought and making come together using strategies of engagement that offer an adaptive flexibility for working in what I identified in the research statement as evolutionary space: a complex boundless system continually adapting to an ever-changing ecosystem in contact with other ecosystems.
- Techniques and methods
- modern and contemporary scientific evolutionary theory
- philosophy and history of science
- world creation myths
- historical and contemporary art practices
- archaeology and anthropology
- practice based
- text based
- conversations with peers, staff and audience
- analysis and reviews of works and exhibitions
- reflective critical writing
- painting and drawing
- virtual reality
- projection (shadows)
- virtual reality
- blog journal containing
- sound recordings
An installation with the following possible works:
- ceramic sculptures: suspended, wall or stand mounted, surface mounted
- responsive sound
- contextualising works and handling pieces
- verbal narratives heard through headphones
- image/animation printed and or on-screen
October 2018 – January 2019
Period of orientation
- identify and develop the area of study and work
- inititial Project Proposal
- exploratory drawings and maquettes
- develop critical and reflective writing in blog journal
- build on video editing and digital sound software
- explore theoretical, contextual and poetry texts
- experiment, research, develop, filter and select
January – April 2019
Continue with the above:
- filter ideas, theory and techniques
- start developing an artist statement in the context of the proposal for the eventual final show
- build on Low Residency experience.
May – September
consolidate previous work
- test first prototypes
- develop work further
- research digital sound techniques for real-time interactions
- Research Statement
- develop Project Proposal
- curate work for Unit 1 Assessment.
October – November
Complete Unit 1
- shape ideas for the final show
- crystallise conceptual framework and methodology
start Unit 2 â€“ A period of intense developing and making in the context of previous research and experimentation to deliver project proposal. Throughout this period work on text and drawings for sound narratives.
- finish first sculptures and start other works
- plan engineering of displays
- work on the digital side and consolidate on Blender learning
- narratives ongoing
- experiment with sound
- continue with suspended and vertical sculptures
- begin free-standing silent work.
- narratives ongoing
- experiment with sound
- fire pieces
- start fabricating
- continue work as above
- Low Residency period
- start curatorial content
- troubleshoot digital elements at residency
- start to complete works, fabrication, and curatorial elements
- record narratives
- prepare sounds and digital equipment and code
- complete work and curatorial elements
- plan logistics
By end of May all work should be completed and show planning well underway, also procure materials for packing and transport of work
June – July
Pack work and prepare for final show, review project proposal and prepare for unit 2 assessment. Delivery of work, installation, final show and de-install.
Anderson, R.L. (1990) Calliope’s Sisters: A comparative study of philosophies of art. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, p.238.
Arber, A. (1950) The natural philosophy of plant form. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Arber, A. (1954) The mind and the eye: A study of the biologist’s standpoint. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Arber, A. (1957) The manifold and the one. (1957) London: John Murray.
Bayles, D. Orlando, T. (2002). Art and fear: Observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking. UK: Image Continuum Press.
Esslin, M. (1961) The theatre of the absurd. 3rd edn. London: Penguin Books.
McCormack, J. (2012). Creative ecosystems: Computers and creativity. Eds. McCormack, J. dâ€™Inverno, M. Springer: Heidelberg. DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-31727-9_2 [accessed: 19 August 2019].
Boden, M. A. (2010). Creativity and art: Three roads to surprise. London: Oxford University Press.
Coen, E. (2012) Cells to civilizations: The principles of change that shape life. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press
Dawkins, R. (1976). The selfish gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dawkins, R. (1996). Climbing mount improbable. New York: Norton
Dennett, Daniel C. (1995). Darwinâ€™s dangerous idea: Evolution and the meanings of life. Penguin Books, London.
Dennett, D. C. (1995) Darwin’s dangerous idea: Evolution and the meanings of life. London: Penguin.
Dewey, J. (1934) Art and experience. London: George Allen and Unwin.
Esslin, M. (1961) The theatre of the absurd. 3rd edn. London: Penguin Books.
Fry, H. (2018). Hello world. [s.l.]: Doubleday.
Genesis 1-4, Holy Bible: King James Version.
Gould, S. J. (1991) Wonderful life: The burgess shale and the nature of history. London: Penguin Books.
Graves, R. (1961) The white goddess: A historical grammar of poetic myth. London: Faber and Faber.
Heidegger, M. (2006). The origin of the work of art. Translated by Roger Berkowitz and Philippe Nonet. Draft, December 2006. PN revised. PDF downloaded from https://www.academia.edu/2083177/The_Origin_of_the_Work_of_Art_by_Martin_Heideg ger
Herodotus (1890) The history of herodotus volume 1. Translated by G. C. Macaulay. London:
Hughes, T. (1998) Lupercal. London: Faber and Faber.
Hughes, T. (2001) Crow: From the life and songs of the crow. London: Faber and Faber.
Jones, G. (2007) ‘The object of sculpture’ in Hulks, D. Wood, J. Potts, A. (eds) Modern sculpture reader. 1st edn. Leeds: Henry Moore Institute, pp.426-436.
Lewis-Hamilton, D. (2002) The mind in the cave. London: Thames and Hudson.
Margullis, L. (1998) The symbiotic planet: A new look at evolution. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
O’Connor, D. (2010) ‘The horror of creation: Ted Hughes’ re-writing of Genesis in Crow’, Peer English, Issue 5. pp 47-58. Available at: https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/englishassociation/publications/peer–english/5/04OConnor%20.pdf (Accessed: 16 November 2018).
Ovid (n.a.) Metamorphose. Trans. Kline, A. S. available at http://ovid.lib.virginia.edu/trans/Ovhome.htm
Rescher, N. (1996 ) Process Metaphysics: An Introduction to Process Philosophy, SUNY Press. p. 60.
Robertounger.com, (2016) Roberto Mangabeira Unger. [Online] Available at: http://www.robertounger.com/ [Accessed 14 Sep. 2018].
Smith, K. A. (1992) Structure of the visual book: Book 95. Fairport: The Sigma Foundation.
Tucker, W. (1977) The language of sculpture. London: Thames and Hudson.
van Eck, C. (2010). Living statues: Alfred Gell’s “Art and Agency”, living presence response and the sublime. Journal of the association of art historians. Vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 642-659. Available at: academia.edu/4393041/Association_ofArt_Historians_2010_3_Living_Statues_Alfred_Gell_s_Art_andAgency_Living_Presence_Response_and_the_Sublime?email_work_card=title (Accessed: 18 November 2019).
Von Maltzahn, K. E. (1994) Nature as landscape: Dwelling and understanding. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Wengrow, D. (2014). The origins of monsters: Image and cognition in the first age of mechanical reproduction. Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford
Other Key Texts: To Be Referenced
- Purusha Sukta – Shatapatha Brahmana
- Aristotle – Poetics, Physics
- Milton – Paradise Lost
- Darwin – The Origin of the Species
- Frazer – The Golden Bough
- Freud – Totem and Taboo
- Da Vinci – Note Books
- Buber – I and Thou – Man and Man
- E.O. Wilson