An impromptu converstation I had with a peer about my work from Crit day started me questioning why I have been holding onto the representational.
It was suggested to me that my exposure images were blocking the viewers thoughts. I feel that I defiantly wanted to hold onto a representative form which might suggest to the viewer that i was dealing with subjects of confinement but including a barred window as a symbolic theme.
It was agreed that the images reminder her of gates, therefore the work was associated with some form of protection from danger which to me encapsulated some of the issues surrounding refugees rights for protection. When living in liminal states they are vulnerable to exploitation
It has been suggested that the further destruction of images might carry the work beyond what we can easily process to a more challenging level. I think I want to start looking at covering the surfaces of images either by direct destruction e.g. sanding or by applying materials onto their surface.
I started to look at the constraints of human decision which can sometimes prevent us from breaking through artists barriers which we from through rituals.
Donald Judd starts to explore how we can create methods of breaking these habits of human nature by using mathematical algorithms or rule to change our making process- inviting an external dictatorship. ‘Untitled 1985’ shows a series of objects made in different variations. His work is a reaction against individualism, where all decision making is down to the artist- such as Clifford Stills work. The work is traditionally completely under the artist control. Therefore the artist self is the core source of the making of an article. The artist is the creative one. Much of the control held by the artist was celebrated in the romantic period as an opportunity for self discovery, which was seen as a liberation. In 1960’s artists consider what an artist does when they produce art and start to challenge that the focus on the ‘self’ might actually be a limitation. Therefore some forms of art could go beyond the idea of self.
Italo Calvino discusses the need to break outside of self and starts to think about that need to create other rules to break from own decisions: “Think what it would be to have a work conceived from outside the self, a work that would let us escape the perspective of the individual ego, not only to enter into selves like our own but to give speech to that which has no language… ”
(Italo Calvino ’Multiplicity’ in Six Memos for the Next Millenium 1988)
The idea of allowing another force to come into the work might give a new intensity to the piece. Dieter Roth ‘Flat waste’ collection of all of Roth’s waste over a 17 year period makes you consider what a human beings life is by looking at the gathering detail of remains of a human life. There is a decision made at beginning which carries an intensity as Roth chose to continue to meticulously collect his waste. Tehching Hsieh One Year Performance becomes an obsessive project which he keeps. The work discusses the human capacity to submit as he take a photo every hour of his life for a year.
These external rules start to question the artists role as not making a compete work but as something which starts a process. I’m interested in how I could apply this repetitive nature to my work. I think when discussing detention camps I could enforce a time period of working following a rule. As I have meticulously have been chopping up images I could set time limits on the work, or systems to be followed and produce a body of work who’s scale is emotive, commenting on child exploitation in these locations. This could become laborious work which reflects that which might be forcibly set on detainees as work during their time in a detention camp.
‘A formation of short and long lines seems to be repeated through all the work which seems to make me think the work is being exploratory with shape’
‘The grid formation seems to unite the work’
‘I get the impression the work is in a liminal state- its neither GROWING nor DECOMPOSING but is in-between.’ This is an interesting comment for me as I could see liminality being reflective of the state a detainee is held in.
‘The work seems very logical and thought through with a huge attention to detail being shown in the work’
‘The two pieces on the walls have very strong links were as the mesh and glass force me to question if they’re part of the work. We are unsure to include them or not.’
‘The white tiles could be representational of the passage of time/day. The engravings become like sun dials with their shadows being a references.’ I find the relationship between time and being detained is very strong, so to have this interpreted in the work is an unintentional surprise for me. I think the marks could be viewed as engravings marking each day which passes- as seen on the walls of prisoners.
‘THE PASSAGE OF TIME AS MANIFEST BY THE SHADOWS’. When your in captivity your very aware of the time passing as your confronted with self and contained within the same 4 walls of a cell or communal space in a detention camp.
‘The photographical exploration with exposure seems to draw away from the other pieces. This technique of photography I’ve seen in the past so I feel the white work and mesh with glass is far stronger and more subtle. We are more challenged to find a conceptual meaning behind the work so its holds my attention more’. I think in many ways I held onto the security of presenting my work along side a photographical reference of a window so that the minimal lines could be interpreted. However, I think that I have prevented the viewer for being able to draw their own understanding of the work.
‘The photographs are being used as a key to understand the rest of the work and make connections with the broken lines we see repeated in the instillation.’I think I need to make more carful decisions about what to show a viewer in on space, as all the work informs how we read each individual piece.
‘As an artist by including the mesh and glass in the instillation of the work, I am telling the viewer its important and worth looking at even though they can see it in an everyday situation. Therefore I need to question why its important, when I haven’t obviously manipulate and changed the objects.’ I think this bring into question and interesting argument for what can be art. Does the artist need to have an intent or have manipulated an object to call it work and say its worthy to be looked at and pondered over? I think the issue with this paritucal work might stem from the disconnection between the labour of the wall based pieces vs the lack of work involved in the set up of the glass and mesh.
‘The Artist as Artist as Curator as Collaborator’ – Clare Goodwin (curating around practise/collaborative projects).
What lies behind offering the gift? Is The gift more about cultural or capital status?
The ideal of the ‘individual’ was born in renaissance. It was a workshop so you would have an assistant who would mix your paint for you. But this isn’t a collaboration because you have servants, whoever signs the painting is the master so they get the credit. This happens nowadays because Damien Hurts, Phia De Barlo ask someone to do things you can but still have the authorship of the work which changes the dynamic of collaborative work. Collaboration – Marinia Abramovic is another good example of this exploitation, although she worked with Ulay he is unrecognised in her performance pieces. Although without his presence the work would function, she is accredited.
As an individual artist there is an argument that you can only access a limited resource, confound by your own mind and condition. Working in collaboration could be suggested to unlock new ways of visualising and pushing boundaries. This brings to question at what point are you collaborating officially? Many ideas circulate around the art work, and beyond this in adverting, film, music and conversations which are drawn upon in influencing artist. Meret Oppenheim’s ‘object’ on a fur tea cup and saucer was the product on a conversation with Picasso in which he suggested anything could be covered in fur, sparking the idea for the piece. Oppenheim took all the credit for the piece, however, this could arguably been unjust considering Picasso’s role.
Interestingly at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchesteran Exhibition on ‘South Asian Modernists’ has been curated in celebration to the Partition between India and Pakistan. This act is celebrated despite it being orchestrated by the British Colonial Army, causing huge devision and murder across the land. The work doesn’t actually discuss what’s happened but seemingly celebrates independence. Here’s an example of when historical facts have been concealed so that the art work in the exhibition can be ‘enjoyed’ on an aesthetic level, without confronting the responsibilities of our colonial past. This covering/ concealing of history is something which really fascinates me in my own practise. I defiantly want to investigate historical events in my work.
Some artists we discussed:
Sophie Call – lived as a house maid in a hotel. She compiles info through notes e.t.c she registered how her relationships were between herself and her interaction with those visiting the hotel by recording what they left behind. She is a surrealist and dada artist who’s work becomes auto-enthnographic (almost obsessively about herself). This talks about the notion that we are present not just in our body but also in the objects which surround us.
Clair Goodwin’s curation of ‘Museum of the Unwanted’ Zug 2015 featured artists who uses the unwanted either directly or conceptually. It was a readymade space so had to be careful about where to place work. ‘Unwanted’ questions if these pieces are important but they were all pieces which were on loan from artists. They couldn’t buy any of the work as it belonged to different galleries. http://www.huberhuber.com/exhibition/-the-museum-of-the-unwanted/
Material and Dematerialisation – A lecture by Andrew Chesher
Richard Long’s ‘A line made by walking’, was created by Long walking up and down in a straight line until the grass was trodden flat. The photograph is how this work is now presented. Long calls this work sculpture. There is a minimalistic sculptural reference but there is a huge different between this work and that of Carl Andre. Long’s work exists solely as a photograph whereas the other artists found photography was an inadequate form of presenting their work. For Minimalists, the work has to be a in a special reality, whereas photography is merely representational. The object has become mediated by reducing its material reality by making it an easily transmittable information.
Richard Long ‘Untitled (Ben Nevis Hitch – Hike) 1967. At specific spaces, he took a photo of bot the ground and the ski. For Lon, his practise was walking as sculpture. Whilst walking doesn’t have a form (and his photographs don’t feature people walking) there is an idea of getting away from objects by dematerialising work. He instead points to something which can’t be presented in its entirety. It becomes a fundamentally important concept that part of his work is held in Ben Nevis and the work cannot be viewed collectively.
This work departs from the idea of ‘form’ as the ‘idea transcends the form’ (any form presented is only partial of the idea). Robert Morris said that previously the relationships within the work of art were what was important(e.g. between paint and the canvas), but for him the relationship was between the object and the viewer. Long extends this more to something which you can’t see but can only imagine.
Robert Morris’s work ‘Untitled’,1965 the work seems to continually push us out into the contingent events which surround the work. They’re always changing and therefore have no end – its context dependent and open to the influence of its environment. Robert Smithson moves beyond Morris’ work (with the idea that the object he was making had a form which could be recognised immediately e.g. it was a cube with 6sides). He plays with idea of ‘site and non- site’. Smithson would place mirrors in a site and then take photographs or take the material form the site and place in the gallery – ‘Non sites’. His work dealt with a displacement, he wanted to continually relate back to the space/location he took the work from rather than presenting an object.
This idea of dematerialisation is continued in Francis Alÿs piece ‘The Loop’ 1997 was made when asked to contribute to an exhibition in Santiago. Alys took the money for the commission and flew perpendicularly around the globe to arrive back to Santiago. He got from Mexico to USA by not crossing the Mexican/USA border. BUT the purpose of making this work is the ‘process’, although many would argue he has squander the money from the commission. The form of the work is a post card of the ocean with a text which describes what he did and why. This work is actually JUST A POSTCARD, but the it’s the’ experience’ which your involved in. Although this only exists as photograph, he said the point was to become a rumour. He wants his work to be told to a friend. RUMOUR = ART.
There is always a question of why does the work take the FORM that it does?
Dematerialisation– “When not on exhibition, the pieces are dismantled and cease to exist except as ideas. The dematerialisation of his sculpture makes it impossible for Andre to indulge himself in wasteful activities like polishing and shining…. “–David Bourdon 1966.
Carl Andre works with materiality always sourcing his work form the surrounding of where he is exhibiting his work. He also decided he would never make work if he couldn’t set it up by himself, the piece needed to be proportional to his body. However, he also followed the idea of ‘post studio’ art, focusing on creation without needing a studio himself. He makes the work in situ and because of having an idea and then making the work – he said he is interested in ‘seeing what it looks like’. Sol LeWitt said that conceptual art is when the ‘idea was a machine which makes the work’. Both these artists have very different approaches as LeWitt sees the concept as generating the outcome but Andre was also concerned with how his work is read in space.
Conceptual Art– 5-31 January 1969 (Exhibition curated by Seth Siegelaub). In one room there was a series of work which were physical e.g photography’s, paintings. In another room there was a description of the works written up in a book, these were descriptions which could be carried out. This first room was described as ‘secondary information’ where as the book was seen as ‘primary’ as it was where the work was created. The IDEA is now seen as the primary thing. Lawrence Weiner makes works which are ‘written up ideas of works’, and then carries it out. He’s very interested in the relationship between the idea and the creation and his work became about removal, removing parts of the location where he was invited to exhibit work. “Removal of the Lathing or Support Wall of plaster of Wallboard from a wall, 1968’ is where he started to remove a square of plaster. It could be argued he’s showing the materiality of the wall but he wants to emphasise that this is a removal and not a ‘form’ to be read therefore dematerialising the work.
Martin Creed’s piece ‘The lights going on and off’ 2000, The lights of the room go on and off in 5 second intervals. Is this piece about light? The room? Is it the moment that the lights are turning off and on that the work exists? Have we arrived at the work of art? But the work is the questions, because we don’t know its boundaries. This is discussing the notion of materiality, if the idea is something which can have in our head, to some extent the materiality goes beyond form.
Gabriel Orozco became a reference point for an art form which responded to the modern world but referenced the traditions of the Avant Gard. ‘Extensions of reflection’ and ‘Breath on Piano’, both only exist as photographs. We can’t say that the creation is the sculpture, or the photograph is a representation of the sculpture, nor is the photography the primarily reality. We are asked to think about how this act is done spontaneously in the world. This response to the world is also completely ephemeral- taking the barest minimal form. Therefore, we experience an idea which is made from encounter with the world. This is similar to the content of Martin Creed – Is it happening?
Frank Stella’s work ‘Empress of India’, 1965 is a painting where he painted chevrons on shaped canvases, the canvas is shaped to conform to the shapes it contains of visa versa. Michael Fried wrote a critical book called ‘Shape as Form’ in which he discussed that Stella made a painting which sailed as closely to objecthood as possible and then came back. He does this by acknowledging the edge of the canvas. For Fried this piece acknowledged the objecthood by echoing an optical visual experience within the canvas but also comments on its object within the room. There is no longer a need for the ‘edges of a work’.
“Nowadays everything happens at once and our souls are conveniently electronic (omniattentive)”– John Cage, 1966
EVERYTHING AT ONCE
The exhibition isn’t chronological or categorised by movement or influence but features 45 works which explore ‘experience, effect and events, invoking immediacy and immutability’- Alison Thorpe. I definitely experienced a sense of being immersed in all types of contemporary art whilst walking around the exhibition. I found that It was at points an overload of information which reflects the changes which social media have bought about, overloading us with information.
Entering into the exhibition were told to take off our shoes and enter a dark room where a a light a light display takes over the room with accompanied electronic sound. The black and white stripes which take over the floor resemble bar codes with sound transforming us into a digital world. Ryoji Ikeda focuses on sound and light using mathematical precision. ‘Test pattern’ is an ongoing work which uses data from texts, photos and movies and converts them into bar codes and binary patterns. In this space, people began to sit and get comfortable with the environment. They’re stays were extended over a period of time as they almost became hypnotised by the immersive experience. I was fascinated by the urge to record the work, most people in the room were taking photos or film for their own use.
Film created by Ruth Linnell
Ikeda’s work set the tone for the theme ‘everything at once’. Then traveling outside the to get to the first studio space, we were being transported into a wildly different environment which worked well in disorientating the viewer. In the first studio I was particularly drawn to the work of Richard deacon. His minimalist sculptural forms, by use of light and shape, have challenged my perception of what their construction consisted of. As I moved around the work I discovered its reality, which was disguised from certain angles, presenting itself in a very different way.
Similarly, ‘At the edge of the world’ by Anish Kapoor creates a sense of misunderstanding with his sculpture. The viewer experienced the audio form a large dome structure when standing inside its belly, however, when looking up- the surface appears flat- thereby confusing the viewer. This large scale distorts the air around it. ‘By combining them (the sculptures) with pigment and light – or the lack of it – he transforms the viewer’s perception of his work, creating ephemeral experience as much as actual objects.’ I find the power of illusion within sculpture very interesting and I want to explore this within the field of photography within my own practise.
Ai Weiwei’s work consisted on a wall which tells the story of displacement, conflict and alienation which has been displayed along side blasted tree roots. The iconography of the wall paper was inspired by Greek and Egyptian imagery which documented early movement of people. I think that the scale with which this piece was displayed payed emphasis to the scale of the refugee crisis. The work becomes overwhelming when looking intimaty at individuals which are depicted and connecting with their story, then panning back to see a 60 meter stretch of wall which holds repeated stories.
Another significant piece of work for me was that of Lee Ufan (Please see ‘Playing with Situation’ blog post).
I found that the curation of the show massively played into its title. The viewer was not only overloaded with visual information form a variety of artists, but the movement around the exhibition brought you through a variety of different space. The slick opening was representational of a modern gallery space, but moving through we entered into darkened spaces where the light was ‘at the end of the tunnel’ so to speak. Much of the building seemed unfashioned and under construction which I personally felt added to the intended experience for the viewer.
“This is the first major exhibition in the UK to explore the artistic, philosophical and personal links between two fo the twentieth century’s greatest artists: Salvador Dalí and Marcel Duchamp”
The exhibition was structured into 4 sections: Identity, The body and the object, Experimenting with reality and playing games. Looking at the body, I found that I was particularly drawn to Duchamp’s ‘The King and Queen surrounded by swift nudes’ 1912, and was interested in the deconstruction of figures. I would be interested in replicating a technique which cuts in my photography (as I have been discussing destruction in my own practise). Similarly Dali’s ‘Cubist self portrait’ 1923 plays with fracturing his images to abstract shapes whilst keeping a string of representation.
Duchamp’s readymade was secret for ages and his pieces were only seen by other artists in his studio. However, during the rise of surrealist movement “in 1930 the surrealist followed Duchamp radical reverent, using found objects in a kind of concrete poetry that produced provocative conjunction such as Dali’s lobster telephone as a surrealist object functioning symbolically’
“Surrealist objects are in no mans land between art and life. They confused the animate with inanimate”- RA
When in the room which was studying the erotic, I found the curation of the space to be very successfully linked. The room had been painted a dark purple, with gold mirrors around the space, capturing the light and self in a very luxurious way. The room had central cabinet which fetishises these objects collected and presented as art by Duchamp. I noticed people start to stare in a deepened way which they wouldn’t do if they had seen the object outside of a gallery setting. Its interesting to see the fascination with the work, now that the readymade has become an accepted form of art work, however, I started to question how many people understood its history. I assumed most were just there to observe because they know its important superficially, maybe they felt a social pressure to appreciate the artwork. The mirrors significantly heighten the richness of the environment in which the art is viewed and people start to view the work as relics from a master in the art world.
Inside this room, there was one of the smallest photographs being completely overlooked by the many. “Photograph of shadows cast by readymade” shows the shadows cast on wall from Duchamp’s readymade objects when hung in space. This adds projected a negative space onto a wall, fabricating a piece which might be more widely understood as art. We can understand form and something being ‘created’/processed, which for many, defines what art is. Yet in this exhibition, the public are celebrating the object and ignoring the photograph. Is this representational that we now accept the readymade as art or are we merely following others in their understanding?
Sarah Lea writes for the RA, commenting on the importance of Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ 1917 – “Thinking of Duchamp’s affinity with Dada, we can perhaps understand Fountain not simply as a joke on the audience, but as the provocation of a genuine and important question: what is art? Does the act of simply placing something in a gallery make it art?”
Marcel Duchamp’s ‘the bride stripped bare by her bachelors’ 1915 is a large glass panel which records a ‘metaphorical account of the encounter between bride and her bachelors’. The work is made of oil, lead, dust and varnish on glass in a metal frame. Much of the work was left unfinished when Duchamp went to New York. Duchamp didn’t want to use canvas and therefore limited himself to working on large glass for 8 years. Both Dali and Duchamp felt modern art had become detached from its earlier functions of being religious, philosophical and moral. Therefore they started to compensated by creating personal iconographies. His work is ‘enigmatic’- hard to explain/ interpret, however, I am fascinated by the interruption of paint on the surface of the glass (what should be a transparent window to whatever surrounds it). The scale of the piece is similar to an altarpiece with the work being defined as neither painting or sculpture – its almost a monument.
The use of broken glass is something which is interesting to be in my practise. Glass is by its nature a medium which is meant to simply continue a reality- it shouldn’t fracture or alter whats behind it. So much of photography is held behind glass, I think it is an interesting medium to play with, especially as I am considering how to distress my own images. I could consider smashing glass and re-glueing it back together to see how this alters the reading of a photograph which is underneath its surface.
Abstract (no 1st hand experience of being detained)
Do I enter the realm of documentary by separating myself from the subject – photojournalism.
The process of cutting up photographs and the DESTRUCTION involved with the process is time consuming -Child labour was used to recombine documents which had been broken down so I could consider how Labour becomes part of the work. Could I work on a piece for an extended period of time to challenged my role as Artist by becoming a ‘worker’.
When looking at my painted wood work, I could have placed an image underneath the paint and no one would know if it was there or not – Im playing with a photographically based process by physically manipulating the image in an ungracious way.
Could be interesting to play with Glass as the materiality suggests an honest view to whatever is behind the glass. A lot of photography is held behind glass in frames – how could I smash glass or manipulate it and present an image behind the damaged surface?
Look at the work of Gorden Matta Clarke. His processes are semi-destructive public interventions such as directing buildings. Consider what he does in a two dimensional form with photography.
Consider is the recognition of the photographic imagery necessary or could they be processed to the point of just being aesthetic? would they still have a haunting quality because of a text written describing what WAS on the images even if it cannot be seen directly?
Research Deutche Börse Prize by looking at their catalogues as they focus on artist who deal with political issues. Specifically look at Bloomberg and Channering (official war artists).
Jasper Johns recently exhibited at the RA. He looks at targets, states and flags and aims to challenge the viewer by making the familiar unfamiliar. He uses repeated and reformed shapes and symbols which are disguised to force the viewer to look more closely at things the mind already knows.
I was particularly interested in Johns earlier work and personally think he was most innovative when he retracted his subject matter to just dealing with numbers or the American flag, creating different variations. Johns interest in Magritte, Cornell and Duchamp led to inform his early work and Johns started to explore the idea of PAINTING AS SCULPTURE. In Johns ‘White Flag’ I was interested in how he has focused on the remnant being all thats left. We become forced to deconstruct the flag and view it not as a patriarchal symbol but as a series of shapes and lines. I think that the limited tones and monochromatic palette of this piece is particularly successful at achieving this.
“Johns’ early flat, target, number and letter works, some of which appeared in this first exhibition, established a new vocabulary in painting. His appropriation of objects and symbols – ingrained in consciousness since childhood- sought to make the family unfamiliar. One of the ways he achieved this was through the complexity of textures that he created on the painted surface.” – Edith Devaney (RA Guild for Friends).
Johns became interested in exploring language by appropriating familiar words out of context into his work. Their inclusion started a discussion into mis-interpretation. ‘False start’ 1959 Johns uses language to jiggling the complexity of seeing and thinking, naming and perceiving. He places ‘yellow, blue,red’ over blocks of alternating colour so as we view the work we challenge our perception of colour. This seemingly is a theme which runs through his work in his sculptures ‘Painting Bronze’ (1960). These are two hyperrealistic reproductions of domestic items which force the viewer to question what is true or false. Only the knowledge that it is a reproduction lets us know, otherwise we might assume this was a readymade.
Johns plays with the balance between art and functionality. When looking at maps he make a point to retain their ability to perform as global representations. In ‘Two maps’ 1989 Johns uses a carborundum wash to conceal the image, forcing the viewer to look with intensity. Similarly in ‘Map’ 1962-63 we struggle to view the border of countries because of its stylistic application of paint however the piece remains both a painting and an object that preserves its fictional value although boundaries blurred it still retains each borders unique shape.
I was particularly drawn to John’s ‘Regret series’ which is based on a photograph taken by John Deakin of 2 mirrored tracings of Freud on his bed with irregular edges and damaged surfaces. Japser Johns has taken this photographic image and reproduced it in huge variation, forcing the viewer to read something different in the work from each piece. I found that the curation of this work, using a ceiling hight wall to mount this series of work was very wise in dramatising how manipulation can completely alter your perception of an image. This is something I would be interesting in exploring in my own work by looking at printing an image and destroying or manipulating it in a variety of ways, presenting them all to the viewer to be digested simultaneously.
Since the early twentieth century artists have been focusing on the use of only white when painting. Monochromes have been key to artists creating abstract work. The Tate modern has a room called Painting with White which has been curated by Tanya Barson. The Tate says:
‘Using only white might seem, at first, to take this approach(abstract painting) to extremes. Without image, and apparently pure, the white monochrome appears to resist meaning and interpretation. For some people, it has come to symbolise everything that is believed to be elitist and difficult about modern and contemporary art’
I think that there is a point to be said surrounding the accessibility of work which reaches new levels of abstraction. This is something I have become more concerned with in my own practise. Whilst my aim is to restrict the reading of an image so the viewer has to really stretch to view the work, I want a remnant of the original image to be felt, either spiritually or eerily through the subject of the hidden image being revealed in text.
However, there is also a coded symbolism to the colour white which explores religious, spiritual and poetic connotations which explore purity, hope and meditation. I think that when dealing with a loaded subject, such as human rights- limiting the palette and vision to such extremes could be very successful in communicating a gospel message of hope.
When looking at ‘Spiral Movement’ by Mary Martin, I have started to consider how the paper itself could become the work. The photographic images which I print all are white on the underside, therefore I could create images by using the paper itself (the weight of the photography very much still being a part of the piece but completely concealed from view). I would like to explore this experimentally first, and consider using the ‘window’ symbol as a structure to create sculpturally.