The various components for the small scale model are completed. The work has shifted from the ancestral vertical Oracle to is horizontal descendant. I know that the actual large scale work it is modelled on will not be finished before the summer. It does not have the incised words and was much much easier to make and assemble. The large scale work is going to be quite a beast to complete but I am nearing the time for tackling it as I complete other tasks.
Logos has fewer components than Oracle, and its coherence and simplicity is a function of the way it will work once completed. Oracle was an ensemble of disparate pieces that as such creates an interesting collection, However, assembled it would have presented a distinct incoherence and inbalance. Not an imbalance by choice, imparting a dynamic articulation of parts, but one where the consideration for each part takes precedence over the whole. I think the synthesis that has arisen in the form of Logos, the simplicity, is the result of over a year’s process of distilation and understanding.
Today I continued with the modelling of Logos in miniature. I can see how this can translate for the online show. The actual large scale work would be too uncontrollable to capture in the studio satisfactorily but the model could be placed in a more manageable environment where I can control the lighting, surfaces and so on. It would be in effect a diorama. It is also comparable to what can be done virtually only a) I have a tactile object at the end of it b) it takes a fraction of the time to put together giving me more time to do other work c) making it functions as practice for finishing the large work.
I remade the smaller spheroid in proportion to my original intentions which seems to work much better, more balanced. I started making the connectors and still have to make the anterior components.
Supporting the pieces with wooden blocks gave me an insight into how I can find alternatives for supports. In the case of these blocks, a more architectural approach, or perhaps as a conceptual landscape, Logos perching, roosting, surveying its domain. As for the scaffolding, that is perhaps a more formal solution that isolates the sculpture in space. This has yet to be tested. I shall have to wait until all this COVID-19 business is over and the pieces to be fired to find out how it works on a large scale. However, in the meantime I could experiment with the model, time permitting.
Logos is clearly not going to be finished on account of the large kiln not being connected due to isolation. So, I have decided to use it, as described in previous blogs in its ‘green’ (unfired) state. However, I am also making small scale models of the pieces to play around with and create miniature scenarios for physical exhibitions.
In this case, I have laid out the four pieces completed so far in the large work. The round form on the left is slightly smaller proportionately with respect to the original. I shall make another to the correct scale but also use this one to create alternative forms.
This miniature scene helps me think in terms of animations for the online show. On a small scale, the handling of the pieces and space required to do so, become much more manageable.
I find this an exciting prospect as I can make a ‘theatre’ of the works very simply, thereby making the process much more agile.
Logos begins to appear not as a departure from Oracle over a year ago, but an extension. The two titles speak of language, the former of ritual, mystery and prophesy, the latter of reason, order and creation. It seems almost as though Oracle foretold what would come in Logos but I did not know it at the time. There is a kinship between the two sculptures with the current one being a more evolved synthesis of ideas, materials and process. It has incorporated Oracle beside other notions weaving together words, form, myth and ritual with the potential for freedom to evolve into new interations in the future.
Video showing a detail of the lettering impressed on the various components of Logos. It is taking some time, but once done I shall be able to continue with finishing the connecting, and terminal parts of the sculpture.
In the meantime, I shall finish some other works and fire smaller pieces in addition to making models of the large works, developing sounds, writing the script for Symposium 2 and planning online presentations… amongst other things.
Inscribing, pressing, carving the words on the porcelain surface has led me to develop a particular technique and this, in turn, put me to thinking about creating a font. The main tool I am using is an angled, moderately sharp-edged box wood tool. I chose this tool because it is not the perfect tool to use. The difficulty of handling this tool ensures that the text does not become too even and crisp, more in keeping with the largely informal making of the porcelain forms.
The font has very many similarities with cuneiform writing, runes and classical stone lettering found in Ancient Greece and Rome (not forgetting ancient graffiti). The first made with a wooden, wedge-shaped stylus, the second a knife and a chisel for the latter. The respective tools and materials dictate to a large extent how the font evolves. The above font is a first draft distillation of the lettering I am using on the porcelain. It forms a very decipherable cypher, which is easy to read and based on the principle of two strokes per letter. I shall rethink about this in view of some of the letters being made up of three strokes. This is a relatively straightforward development. It is just that I wanted to document this now while the idea has some momentum. Subsequently, I may also include minuscules, numbers and symbols.
I intend to convert this into a font that I can use as type on the computer. I have opted to use Font Forge software which, although not the simplest, seems to offer a wide range of features. There is also a large number of tutorials online to help with learning. I can then use it to type documents and on sculptures. As for a name? I am currently thinking of Porcelana although this may change.
Today I started incising the sculptural pieces with the words in the previous post. As I start on this long task I know that the script will change along the way. This is only one aspect of how I envisage the surface work of the sculpture developing over time, altering in response to its making.
It quickly became apparent that there was the danger that the lettering might become the principle and overt aspect of the work. However, this is not necessarily the case for two reasons. Firstly, as I handle the heavy pieces, the inscriptions will become eroded in places affecting their legibility. This allusion to the effects of time, loss of form and meaning, may invite an a posteriori interpretation of the partially hidden or cryptic content.
Secondly, the repetition of the text over the length of the sculpture, creates at a distance, a texture that does not resolve into discernable words or their constituent characters, until curiosity draws the viewer sufficiently close for those words to play their principle intended role beyond an aesthetic one; that of context. The degradation or disappearance of a particular part of the text in one place, only to reappear somewhere else, again invites the building of a narrative that may be quite different from the original. Somehow, this brings to mind the Rosetta Stone and how the stele changes from hieroglyphics to Demotic to Ancient Greek in a three-way translation of the same pharaonic decree.
The work of writing, inscribing, carving, the words creates an archaeology, a partial fossil, a cypher. These are all subliminal, at times overt, influences on my aesthetic horizon. Beforehand, I was concerned about losing the clarity of the words. In the doing of it, I have lost that fear and am perhaps more concerned with too much clarity. Erosion and loss in the handling of the pieces during work is a precious process that transforms meaning in a way that is not wholly under my control. Knowing this has loosened my hand in writing the words as they are converted into sculpture. The words resurrected in stone, live in the imagination.
I have always been drawn to the archaeological departments of museums. Shaped, inscribed stone fascinate me. I am not sure why. Perhaps it is a communion with past peoples, perhaps the immortality of words written in stone, or maybe it is that I imagine myself engaged in some similar activity. I feel an urge to make, to fashion, carve mould, shape. It is a fundamental need, to change the physical world, to alter it in some way, to make art. Carving is a direct link to nature. Working with natural material and limited means is something that is within reach of anyone. It is a human thing to do. It is both earthly and divine, the extension of a transient thought, moment, place.
I see words encircling Logos. I see them appearing and disappearing, emerging as an accumulation of reading of repeated passages of text.
After setting up the work bench I tried something out that came to me as I was travelling down to the Residency in February. I am currently working on the text and will soon apply it to the sculpture components. I made the first marks with what will no doubt be the stylus I use for the script.
I have always had difficulty with my calligraphy, but somehow this form of writing suited me. I enjoyed inscribing the soft material with the wooden tool, lightly dragging it through the flesh to be made stone. It seems so appropriate to the text which ties up the two main pieces of the installation.
Thinking about the textual link between the two pieces, the third work has suddenly, as I write, become resolved. I was in two minds as to which of a number of works I would use. The answer is clear: the silent ‘What is the Difference? (I can also add the video if there is time; brings in another dimension to the overall idea).
The material as flesh; the words becoming flesh: An allusion to the process as well as biblical references. This is part of the composition of the verse Logos. Layering meaning into the large sculpture of the same name.
Finished prepping the studio for continuing work on the various pieces. Clearing surfaces and reorganising work is always refreshing and a necessary part of embarking on new ideas. Not exactly that this is a new idea, the work continues, but I need the space as the work will become quite physical. Not strenuous, rather a question of doing, experimenting and redoing. I used the term tabula rasa for a post at the beginning of the MA. Now that things are nearing the end, the new tabula is set for this and future work. What is more, I did it one day before schedule. This in itself is not important but it does confirm my estimated deadlines as realistic.