All the content is from a single take performance with light in the studio involving a Graven Image. The sound I generated in a variety of ways and the music is my remastering of a 89 year old 78 rpm recording.
All the content is from a single take performance with light in the studio involving a Graven Image. The sound I generated in a variety of ways and the music is my remastering of a 89 year old 78 rpm recording.
The tutorial was far ranging in ideas and reflections on what I have done so far. I have made notes since then but have needed time to think about what we discussed before committing to a post. I want to distil the essence of the conversation and see where it takes me.
The tutorial started with Jonathan expressing an interest in the Graven Images series and what they were about. These are caprices, sketches that embody many of my thoughts in disparate areas: in biology, parallel biology, science fiction, mythology, modularity, religious effigies and gods. The graven images of which there are many more to come, become relevant in the light of other things I have done. They are a curious combination of non-intuitive imaginings and rational ideas. They are about worship, profanity, and how the imagination can create gods from composite ideas.
Because I have a well-developed process of making, Jonathan was interested in how I felt about the actual process I have been engaged in over the past few months, particularly the blog journal. I have found the journal of immense benefit.
The process externalised in the form of the blog journal, is opening out the possibility of contextualising my practise in a deep sense. A sense that can be articulated and externalised not in terms of issues, themes or subject matter, these are material, but in terms of the deepest parts of me. I do not use the word soul because that defies definition, I prefer to say the I in the world as part of the world.
It documents the convergence and synthesis of different ideas and interests.
The process requires time to deepen and broaden my thinking but I can already see the shape of things to come.
Different means of working including, writing, making, reflecting, researching, doing and walking are weaving that elusive fabric I alluded to at the beginning of the MA.
I am seeing repeating patterns that emerge out of disparate areas that reflect how all things have arisen from the whole with fundamental laws governing the behaviour of all things.
As complexity increases, new principles come into play. The traversal from a lower order of complexity to a higher one brings into play new laws: life, consciousness, complex civilisations bring with them new â€˜rules of the gameâ€™ that often hint at their provenance from deeper set ones.
To represent or express this in an artwork is challenging because I do not want to go down the purely conceptual path in which an idea is illustrated by some trope. I am drawn to the visceral, existential, matter of things. I have to find ways of linking ideas through a methodology that encompasses multitudes.
Jonathan had a concern about the amount I write in terms of the shear task. Fortunately, the writing comes relatively easily. I am developing a writing methodology in which ideas are worked out as I pour in the ingredients.
The post writing is not only a reflective tool but also an experimental one where I test out ideas in the abstract.
Synthesis often occurs while writing. Often a posteriori to act of making.
Jonathan questioned me on whether I am able to filter through the posts in a way that I can gain from them. Is it possible and how do I do it? He noticed that one of my most recent posts is succinct.
My being able to this is as a result of having worked things out along the way. Then space is made for new things.
Jonathan also wanted to know if the blog was not only useful for working things out but whether it was useful in retrospect when looking back at what I had written.
I find this an interesting corollary to the former question. When going back over old posts one of the interesting things is that I see repeating patterns in different contexts, and how ideas group together.
I also see where I have made assumptions, created a fallacy, something needs explicating or could have been said better in fewer words. Am I falling into a trap?
The blog posts are engaged in a dance with one another. That dance can be chaotic at times, but that chaos is not random or irrational, it is complex. An important task is to tease out the simple elements, some more obvious than others, and how they correspond to one another.
What to do now with the blog journal
I am resolved to revise the categories and tags but not in terms of content because there are too many candidate words and there is a limit of 45 tags being shown in a normal tag cloud plugin.
I will look at the broad ideas and use tags that correspond to external criteria such as learning outcomes rather than my own internal ones. This I think will help me a lot more.
The projects are precipitating out and things have shifted into a clear set of patterns. So, categorizing the posts will be much easier. I will compare original and new categories to help me clarify my way forward and I hope that by Easter I should have a much clear view towards more ambitious work . This is particularly important since the Research Statement will be starting around then and require a great deal of work.
The point Jonathan rightly makes is to make sure that I can gain the most from the large body of material I have collected in a short space of time. Just the act of going back and reorganising will be a deep reflective process. I could even use a different way of organising the material better suited to my needs. This is an interesting point that I shall think on.
We discussed the video work as a possible way forward; as a means of tying together different strands in my work.
Working from the first video, post-truth-hurtling, I am developing a methodology from first principles that gives a degree of control over ephemeral phenomena without losing the spirit of contingency and heuristics.
The way I work with video is as a performance that could be enacted live.
This work is almost complete and it links with my idea of Mythopoeia and the shadow world.
I feel that the direction this project is taking is an exciting one. One which can be extended to form a suite or series also behaving as poetic labels for other works.
With the video I have the same philosophy as with my mouse drawings. Working with limitations gives way to greater freedom. Not relying on having the perfect conditions.
An interesting conversation pointing to the potency of shadows as a medium.
Jonathan observed that my work with shadows in their details capture a lot of what I talk about.
The loss of information, as the three-dimensional world is projected onto two dimensions creates a space for the imagination.
Following on from this dimensional approach, the video of the line intrigued Jonathan and we discussed ways of extending the idea by removing the horizon. I have since thought of ways of overcoming the slight technical impediments that had precluded me from doing this in the first place. He would also like to see the ‘failed’ experiments online, something I will do because it is these as much as the successful experiments that can show new pathways.
The line video is a metaphor for my working with past material allowing the imagination to roam without consequence and seeing the present through a different optic. Ideas can then be brought into the present and critically analysed in the contemporary context.
We discussed the idea of modularity my methodology and the Graven Images. How modularity is not only about construction but also human interaction such as trade, religion, science and so on.
The proliferation of composite creatures tying up with the emergence of complex body plans in the Cambrian Explosion.
Just as there is the emergence of physical characteristics, you also have the emergence of predation which is a behavioural strategy linked to the physical such as the development of the alimentary canal, a salient element in my work.
There must be a parallel with human society. What could this be and what could this say about our society?
Heuristics and Playfulness and Control
I work heuristically, analysis taking place afterwards the fact. The action research cycle starting with the work, leading to ideas and alterations that then inform new work.
I strive for a level of control that is subliminal, built up from experience, that does not interfere with the heuristic element but allows me to decide on the directions I take.
Jonathan suggested that the heuristic, playful nature of the videos is in contrast with the constraints imposed by ceramic practice involving planning and staging.
I also think that it is in contrast with the side of me that is risk averse and needs to plan and think ahead. By relinquishing a predetermined outcome, I am able to delve into different areas that can bear a variety of novel, hybrid fruit.
I like the idea of the rational being subliminal during making and becoming more overt after the event when it can inform and explain, explicate and imagine (often as a reflection of the self). I have enough experience for this not to be a blind shooting but like a experienced fisherman, casting the line into the water with knowledge borne of experience.
The process often begins with a what which then moves to how and the why is the much harder part to work out.
The what and how are often contextual and technical. Then there is the external why as a response to the world and the hidden,elusive reason(s) which is much harder to fathom. It reaches down to the deepest recesses of the self.
I explained about the emerging idea of metamorphosis, process philosophy and the relationship between being and becoming. How metamorphoses can take place within a closed, short term system and over time within a wider context.
I discussed the possibility of consulting with Ed Kelly in relation the MAX MSP. I am not looking to learn how to use the software for some unspecified future idea. I am looking to use it to perform a specific task and in doing so learn how to use it perhaps for something else. I have a clear purpose and direction, so it becomes about how to get there with the appropriate tool.
Jonathan liked the contrast to other posts provided by the East Coast images. We discussed correspondences with my other work in terms of why I am drawn to that way of working and the significances of the subject matter. I see it as a reflection of one thing in another as I have mentioned in the post.
Jonathan also noticed that in the East Coast post images gallery, the images are followed it one continues clicking by images of the maquettes, something I did not know. That is an accidental juxtaposition of the images and ideas for a work which show a great deal of relatedness. What a lovely surprise!
And indeed, not having people in the pictures gives another view onto the correspondences between things.
Jonathan was drawn to the post Labelling the World Post in which I discuss the awakening of the self through language. This is another more conceptual stream which could yield interesting things to do with separation, boundaries and relationships
A discussion on Buber and Heidegger followed, and how they view the world in complementary ways.
Jonathan is interested in how I am expanding my well-established process and not afraid of not making things perfect. He would, though, like to see some of the alternative works such as for the line video. We discussed this aspect of the blog and indeed, to show abandoned trials could yield something yet unknown. For example, the line could be extended so that there is no horizon. To get around the issue of the cameraâ€™s field of view vs depth of field, one of the large black boards could be used.
Talking about animation, I said that I do not want to get to much into that medium because I do not want to repeat what others have done so so well. We then discussed old Rotring pens!
Something I have not discussed in a post is whether using Rotring pen or an expressive old pen nib. This is a dialectic than will resolve itself with doing.
I like moving from one thing to another when working with different ideas. I find it useful to go from one thing to another. Jonathan told me about ‘Clock Maker’s Wife’ where she used coloured pencils on a notebook, she was able to do something simply as an alternative process.
We also share a love of working late at night, when it is quiet and ideas come on the breeze of silence.
A corollary arising out of the previous post on Uncertainty distance and time, this is an abstract musing in the tradition of many popular science abstractions. One such imaginative piece of writing, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott (1884), came to my attention many years ago. A satirical novella set in a world with only two dimensions.
You are looking down a cosmic microscope where an infinitesimal point fills your field of vision. Sight becomes infinitely resolved.
A. Imagine a dot, an infinitesimal point in three-dimensional space and time does not exist.
Now imagine this point repeated infinitely so each point touches the next along a single axis. The point is now a line.
At any point in space, the line will appear as a single point. You cannot see the line because time does not exist and therefore you cannot move from one point to the next.
B. Now imagine an infinitessimal point in time without spatial dimensions.
The point is now extended in time to form a line.
Remembering there is no space, you cannot perceive the timeline, only a point in time.
C. Now take a point in a world where space and time exist together. Extend it to form a line. You can now see the line because it extends both in time and space. You are able to move through both space and time simultaneously. You can now perceive the line as a continuum of infinitesimal points extending in space and moving through time.
This thought experiment has many caveats and appears reductive: an infinitesimal point seems counterintuitive as does a dimension devoid of physical extensions with only time as a parameter and conversely a space without time. In addition, a line itself without thickness or breadth, only length is also a pure abstraction. The whole thing is counterintuitive. These things are hard to imagine and can only be spoken of in metaphor or using mathematics because to our brains that are seated and immersed in a spacetime world these things do not make sense in view of experience. Experience tells us that it cannot be so. We are made and exist in this world. Our perceptions and minds have been formed as fractals or reflections of ‘real world’ phenomena and the laws that govern it. Such things cannot exist in our Universe.
My simplistic thought experiment is a way of imagining space and time as inextricably linked to form the conceptual fabric containing all becoming, existence and change in our universe. Strip one from the other, and the impossibility to experience existence becomes self evident. This was one of Einstein’s insights following on from Maxwell.
Add another spatial dimension and we enter a world which is alien and again counterintuitive. We can only construct projected shadows cast from such a world onto ours by the imaginative means of strange solid forms. Likewise, our-world solid objects project shadows onto flat surfaces, as an infinitesimal slice of the object that projected it. An idea Abbott made use of in Flatland with the passing sphere.
We have no problem in perceiving and conceiving of shadows as projections of a higher (our) dimension because they exist in a world of lower order than ours and one in which we experience shadows everyday. However, when confronted with a world containing more than three linear dimensions it becomes impossible to imagine such a world and we make recourse to geometric shadows in the form of strange solids and mathematical means to describe them. It is only possible to hint at what a world with four spatial dimensions might be like using animations. It is indeed a strange world.
When I think of my work in three dimensions, I perceive it in time too as my mind traces the surfaces and contours. When I see shadows projected by the work, I see something else, a journey through space riding on beams of light and reforming the world. A world that exist in three dimensions at a subatomic level, but appears flat, in two dimensions. I then recreate that universe in my mind to one that is congruent with an intuitive mind formed in this universe of spacetime.
Looking into the past and future is also a work of shadows: shadows of ideas and events that do not fully form into rounded experience but play themselves on the screen of the mind as words, pictures and imputed movement.
The first term has ended and with it comes the continuation of what has gone before. I do not see it as the completion of a phase but rather as the beginning of what is to come. The term has been a time orientation, revisiting and rebeginning, looking at things afresh: all I do seems to ascend in a cycle.
A popup exhibition entitled Virtual Particles has been organised at Camberwell and rather than making a completely new piece, I decided to work on post-truth-hurtling, the kernel of a sketch done earlier in October and take it a little further. With the direction for the mid-term coming into clearer focus through the elaboration of the project proposal, I thought I would try to reflect this in the work. In so doing, I discovered that which I had suspected. That the themes that have emerged, were embedded within the process only to be unveiled by the elaboration of the project proposal. The title tells me everything I need to know; it encodes a number of elements that I had identified in the PP as my way forward for now:
Combining elements of my research in one piece I turned the video sketch into something more layered. The sound track incorporates elements other that Storm Callum . I have begun compiling a fresh archive of sound files and engineered tracks that will serve me in the future. This follows my thoughts in the recent post, Breakthrough from the Simplest Source. It also ties in with what I will talk about in a latter post relevant to my process: that of making a ritual of the recordings.
The video incorporates shadows and moving light sources giving which initiates an idea I have had for a while. Animation, of sorts, in an installation that I would grudgingly call for now, Plato’s Cave. My difficulty with this name, although convenient as a temporary place holder, is that Plato’s metaphysical explanation for the illusion of reality was based on people not seeing the true actors and props but only their projections. My idea, on the other hand, is to have three layers of perception in which the actual scenario that creates the illusion is clearly visible and exposed and perhaps even open to interaction.
The text in the video, is a reworking of the original, a selection, distillation, concentration. I aimed at something more incisive and yet ambivalent by taking out the superfluous. As the video unfolds, each word or phrase subsequent to the preceding ones changes the overall inferences. I want the words to remain maleable. Only at the end is the context alluded to.
The elemental characters that went into the making of the video remind me of creation myths in an almost Miltonian sense. I avoid icons of or references to the human world. All that I leave is a sense of imputed volition. It is my way of saying that anthropomorphism is a emergent property of who and what we are, seeing the world in our own image. This is a key element of creation myths in contrast with evolutionary theory. Even in the case of the latter, scientists use teleological language as shortcuts for what would otherwise be very lengthy explanations. A simple example is the phrase, ‘evolving towards’. This assumes a direction or goal, something that is counter to the contingent nature of evolutionary processes; a trap we fall into when describing non goal orientated natural phenomena, because we see things with hind sight as though they were leading to some predetermined goal.
Another notion I wanted to imbue the video with is the sense of things continuing ad infinitum even when one is no longer there: an intimation of eternity. This is something I may work on in the future although it has been done numerous times in different ways. The relentlessness I wanted to give the work is part of its possibly dark interpretation; the soundtrack plays an important role in this. At the end I counterpoise this sense of unrelenting descent with the partial revealing of the context at the end: the open, fresh, natural phenomena used to create spontaneously a dark vision. Sun, wind, tree, clay and water: elements often appearing in creation myths conspiring to weave the ‘horror of creation’, as Ted Hughes might put it, or the dissolution of paradise in a Miltonian world where truth is subverted by lies. 1
Distorted, by the unseen cause of its motion: it is cast down by light towards innocent surfaces bearing the scars of altered perspectives, reasoned at distances by the movement of multitudes whose affect is close, so close. It only looks down and away from where it has come and in small instants vanishes entwined with the light that gave it shape. It dare not look at the source of its making as it hurtles into the silence [silent frozen circle] of its own darkness.
In my last post I started to talk about the shadows projected by sculptures. I also talked about the shadows projected into the studio from the lime tree. It brings together many aspects of interest and this is the beginning of a project.
The shadows of objects in the studio are projected onto surfaces. They move as the light constantly changes by virtue of the movement of the leaves in the lime tree. The leaves move because of the wind. The wind is unseen. The shadows move yet the cause of their movement is unseen.
The leaves obscure the light and let the light through intermittently. This causes a change in the apparent direction of light altering the objects projected shadow. These changes superimpose one another in succession. The surface is set in motion, animated. The shadows moved by an unseen cause and I am set in motion and transported to another world for an unseen reason.
The projection from three dimensions onto two is a transformation of the world. I saw this in Chaos Contained, I see this everyday. The flattening creates multitudes in the mind with its own reduction. These multitudes inhabit the imagination and give rise to abstract thought. Shadows cannot be touched, smelt or heard. They cannot be walked around or picked up. They are only seen, ghosts of another world.
An unseen wind moves the shadows, what if Storm Callum recording were to be attached to such shadows? Next Post.
One of the aims of this blog is to bring ideas together and forge new works and trajectories. As this process moves on, the bewildering breadth of possibilities presented before me makes it clear that I have to know where to dig deep and what to leave behind. Along the way I will make mistakes: this is the essence of selection.
Despite the title, this blog is not going to be about Plato’s Cave. His is a fable told to demonstrate that our reality is restricted by our bodily senses and willingness to think beyond them. Its elegance far outstrips what it has to tell us about reality. Nevertheless, although Plato got a lot of things wrong and was responsible for much of the wrong headed thinking that followed, particularly since the advent of Christianity, he does present a paradigm to push against.
Logic is not always the friend of an artist. Absurd juxtapositions and non-sequiturs, intuitive thinking and metaphorical rhetoric often lead to far more affective productions than through logic and reasoned argument alone: that can be left for building an argument between stages or after the fact. Plato has inspired far more artists than Aristotle who did not consider it much at all other than the moral benefits of drama theatre. There I go again, talking about the very thing that I said I was going to avoid. However, I do so because it is relevant to what I saw yesterday.
During the period of Chaos Contained I noticed that the shadows projected by the sculptures, as part of the installations, held a fascination that went beyond the curious and had the potential for future work. I have held onto this idea and played with it in my mind until now: I have started to experiment… I will talk more about this in the next post.
Yesterday the lime tree that oversees our studio, keeps us cool in summer and accompanies us in the winter; the tree that invites birdsong and marks time in its slow arboreal way; this tree was trimmed. Cutting away dead wood and suckers, opened it out to sunlight, letting it flood past the leaves as they are pushed aside by the wind. Shadows cast into the studio bring surfaces to life and everywhere a frantic dance is choreographed in light. To walk amongst these flickering pools is truly magical.
The spectacle showed in many places was on the constant move. I videoed the vignettes, each one a jewel. As I did so, Armenian folk music played in the background. It was then I realised there was a connection. The music was as though synchronised with the visual movements, a dance that had a deeply hidden meaning.
We perceive the world on our scale. From a fraction of a millimetre to several miles we can encompass its size and meter on our terms. Time is measured with the heartbeat and the seasons. It is these things by which music is made. Rhythm is not that of the fly’s or mountains’ but the beat of the heart. Pitch is not that of the bat, the whale or a galaxy but that which we can hear in the voices of those around us. Colour is not that of the infrared and ultraviolet and beyond but of what we need to know without confusion.
I saw the dancing, for that is what it was, of the shadows cast around and the meter and cadence of the dance matched that of the music. Music that draws from what is around it and nature, that is the essence of folk music. There was a synchronicity between the two and it seemed wondrous and yet natural: not a trick of coincidence but a natural consequence. It now seems as though the two are matched because what causes them is matched in scale and breadth. The wind, sunlight, perceived time and a mind that can see them as one. And if what I tell myself is only a confection, it seems as true as any other truth I can be sure of.
What I shall do is build on these videos and they may add to the Sculpture Waiting for a Meaning or stand alone as projections. They are verbs to be placed in a sentence. All at the moment is latent and expectant.