=> a visual encounter and drawing line to connect, my previous work (see microscopic color circles at: Project 4.5: Colour) and ideas of sculptural paintings
How scale matters (estimated 1:300 – my paint circles versus large scale street installation)
How found objects, ‘canvas’ like, could be considered as urban installations. The bin or the pillar as context ‘stretching’ and containing meaning and perception.
How the embodied experience of site and objects are informing space perception, scaffolding as kinesfield experience (as the expanded field around the human body in interaction with objects is described by Gretchen Schiller)
How fake is faked through imagery
Schiller, G. (2008) ‘From the Kinesphere to the Kinesfield: Three Choreographic Interactive Artworks’, in: Leonardo. [online]. 41(5), pp. 431-437, At: https://doi.org/10.1162/leon.2008.41.5.431 (Accessed on 10 Dec 2017).
Before going to the exhibition, I was wondering what to expect: graffiti, scribbling at the wall, ancient signs. Considering contemporary art and my coursework for part 5 on words, I had mixed feelings about it: would it inform my work? Would be distant me?
The website and the joining text is comprehensive and complete. Nearly all works (from Brassaï, Vlassis Caniaris, Jean Dubuffet, Manolo Millares, Antoni Tàpies and Cy Twombly) are visible on the galleries site, what I found not only helpful for me and for sharing, but also a good practice that makes it obsolete to take photographs on site, what I find sometime rather distracting. Additionally, the exhibition book is online accessible through issuu
The joining text had a quote of Henri Lefebvre The Urban Revolution, 1970:
The urban space of the street is a place for talk … A place where speech becomes writing. A place where speech can become “savage” and, by escaping rules and institutions, inscribe itself on walls. – Henri Lefebvre
I was thinking of those marks left by humans on walls, but also on other public spaces and objects, becoming personalised, inscribed as collective memory.
This word is more than writing text on a support, using tools or hand and fingers, using ink, paint, or just inscription. Inscription is incision, reminding me of human skin and people inscribing not their flesh, tattoo, bruises, scars carving, pinging, cutting. From making a mark as a picture to making a mark to get relieve or to feel oneself. Self-harming or harming or just part of identity?
Walls are protective layers, with the reading of Flusser, are not only a facade against the outside but also an enabler for meaning of the inside, a metaphor for a double dilemma (Flusser, 1993:27-32): to protect and to encapsulate, to look out and to look inside of oneself. The wall as a surface, a skin for projections and illusions.
Are public walls the skin of a society? -> To raise attention to? To leave marks?
Are human skins becoming a public wall?-> we expose ourselves more and more today, selfies, selfies in our inside rooms, surveillance, we make ourselves vulberable, we turn into public property.
I do feel a strong resonance between walls and skin, especially in context of my parallel project, medical imaging. My assignment 4 work was more about the skin as a material with plasticity and resistance. I don’t know whether it would make sense to expand to walls, perhaps the wall as a backdrop? Too flat. Skin closing a hole in a wall? too literal. Paint as skin as wall – vulnerable. It brings back to me my work done as personal project for PoP1: the decay of residential building, the breaking apart of bricks leaving a hole that allows to gaze inside. Another metaphor for medical imaging.
Considering my coursework, speech inscribed as text, could not also speech be uttered without text? Painting is visual speech, words added to it would possibly add another ‘speech’ to it, or just enforces a speech? Often the way it is done in propaganda, ads, or other affirmative visual statements.
What could be more subtle for doing it? And by subtle? Are bold messages less arty than ambiguous ones? It seems as if the wall to write onto, to inscribe into is a balancing surface between arty, propaganda and protest.
The works in the exhibition are either informed by found wall visual (e.g Brassaï, Dubuffet) or they are appropriating the mediums and materiality of the wall (e.g Tàpies, Twombly or Caniaris). Somehow, I feel uncomfortable of some works and perhaps attitudes, to appropriate works outside the art space made by people with in quite different conditions, to consider those as a new ‘raw’ and direct expression just to be applied and transformed into an art work as art-object. I always feel this sense when reading about ‘art brut’ and outsider art. At times, I am wondering whether those works are documentary or effect. Twombly considered scribbling and inscription as a performative act by deconstruction written language in its gestural aspects. Perhaps, this is closer to how I would like to approach the act of visually mark-making and text.
Comment on gallery space: I felt the space, the rooms joined together, calming and relaxing. As mostly in galleries, the space is not crowded, me mostly the only visitor, at times one or two others. Passing by, not impacting space perception much. The entrance wall was covered with the work Duat (1994) of Antoni Tàpies, a large frieze size 250x600cm.
featured image: collage from screenshot (Waddington Custot) and photograph taken on site
Flusser, V. (1993) Dinge und Undinge – Phänomenologische Skizzen, Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag
What is Art? What is Fine Art? What is Fine Art education?
This question is certainly a question with will no final answer. And to embrace this uncertainty is fine to me. At the London study day in May, Emma Drye asked us to reflect on the question what research means to us and what we want from an art degree.
At that time, I thought of ‘art as research’ as a search in iteration, a quest, getting background and context, opening up to new and/or different viewpoints, extending my own viewing field, discerning my position in a critical manner. And making art as enabler for communication, of ideas and explorations by opening and raising questions.
Perhaps, as a coincidence I read in the current issue of Turps Banana, a splendid painting journal issued twice a year, an article about that topic. Simon Bell argued against a position made by André Hunt, an educated painter and now professor of Fine Art and Curating in Manchester School of Art (Schwabsky, 2018). Hunt referred to a statement of Teresa Gleadowe, teacher for curating at RCA. She told Hunt that for her all ‘art is research’, resonating well with the topic of above mentioned study day, a common art college understanding? Hunt declared it this a ‘valid point’, considering the context of the UK system of REF, the Research Excellence Framework, that challenges higher education system in proficiency in research – and as art is mostly learned in academics is part of it.
Bell argues strongly against this position in a rather polemic manner that this would be a mere result of ‘conservative education policy and market oriented educational reform’ (Bell, 2019:32) that it is ‘enthusiastically implemented by (mainly) left wing staff’ (p. 30). He quotes another Professor, Fiona Candlin of Birkbeck, that art colleges ‘rather than challenging the status quo it now upholds it’ (ibid:35).
I reminds me of the endless debate, even in public and my own local art community, of seeing art as fine art as academic art merely as a science-derivative occupation, versus a ‘pure’ art, an art based on merits. Bell argued that fine art teachers are claiming themselves as artists without being ‘art practitioners’ . And he listed items, merits, that according to him would define somehow who ‘makes a living as an artist’ (ibid:32-33)
Had an exhibition at a commercial gallery.
Associated with that, they will have been represented by a gallery or galleries.
They will have had an exhibition at a publicly funded gallery or museum.
Sold their work.
Had their work sold at auction.
Had their work featured in an art magazine.
Had their work shown abroad, in both commercial venues and museums.
Had their work featured in art fairs like FRIEZE and Basel.
They are also quite likely, as their career progresses, to have been involved in curating.
They are quite likely to have dealt first-hand with collectors, and with socalled ‘art advisors.
There will be catalogues, and even monographs about them.
These are certainly aspects of being an exhibiting artist in a cultural expected way of being. Making art as object, to present, to be represented, to sell commodities, and to make a career and a living from the revenues. I find the argumentation made by Bell refreshing as it challenges notions of what it is about. However, the binary opposites established by him, seems to be rather enforcing an established Modernist notion of the artist being a sales provider and maker of cultural collectibles.
Is this my to-do list ? I am not planning to become an art teacher, it even to spend future time at academics, but to be an art practitioner, applying art as attitudes across areas of interest, and to continue to be curious of things that evolve, develop, materialize, and appear. To exhibit and to sell artworks is not only exciting but also a necessity when one wants to make a living from it.
Nevertheless, I continue to believe in art as attitude, art practices being more than selling and being represented by big-shots galleries. It is also an approach of awareness and finding new perspectives. I do relate this especially in my field of art therapy. Art practice as process, as an constant interrogation and exploration of material, images, responses, and an awareness of one own’s actions. In that sense, Fine Art is for me much more than one of two sides stated by Bell. And the ‘art brut’ would still be seen as outsider art in Bell’s argumentation.
It is perhaps not a coincidence that on the discuss forum Heather Lloyd Payne asked students to tell their stories #OCAstories, and this is what I posted :
“As a kid, I couldn’t speak until I went to primary school, though I could communicate with my parents and older sisters quite well, non-verbally. Painting and playing where my main means for expression and communication. At primary school I was recognized and invited to attend art school. My parents couldn’t afford the fees and life went on with painting and art displaced on a backburner. However, my first prizes won as a kid were for paintings. And I bought a guitar with the prize money at the age of twelve. After spending ‘successful’ but not quite satisfactory decades of life as an expat in corporations, life pulled a break – for me to revisit meaning in my life. I wanted to connect with what really mattered to me, but living a ‘flying dutchman’ life it didn’t allow me to follow art education at a brick&mortar collage. With OCA I was able to re-connect to my passion and happily I embarked with high motivation on my journey as an emerging artist.” – SJSchaffeld
Perhaps, this is more to the bottom of why I am doing what I am doing with and in art.
With some further cross-reading I found an interesting article by Karthrin Busch (2007) who wrote about the various aspects of art and research. From research and science as subject matter in art to a rather different conception based on M. Foucault’s ideas that art is a different form of knowledge and its role is to disturb ‘established knowledge structures, so as to reveal their innate power structures and restriction’ (p.41). To compare way of knowing inherited by power structures and conventional scientific approaches will not enable access to the diversity of knowledge in itself.
By quoting Derrida, Bush highlights that ‘art is committed to represent the ephemeral forces and manifestations that emerge spontaneously and involuntarily’ against a rather ‘performative, institutionalized knowledge’ that ‘belongs to “the order of possibilities that can be mastered”‘ (pp.43-44).
In that sense, art could be considered as a force of doubting and embracing the ‘unexpected’, or as we discussed in the London Study Day, to embrace wonder in each encounter a-new. Compared to science as problem-solving activity, art is a trouble-shooter, and the work in itself could be seen as research, not the final result as in science.
SJSchaffeld, painting from part3
Bell, S. (2019) ‘Fine Art Education and ’Research Culture’’, In: Turps Banana, (21) pp. 28 – 35.
While being in London, searching for galleries open on Monday, and eventually went to Cardi Gallery, London for a mono-ha exhibition: ‘Tribute to MONO-HA’ (13 March – 26th July 2019).
I had some idea about mono-ha, in the Western World often related to ‘the School of Things’.
Another view on this Japanese art post-war art movement is described by Toothpicker
‘their aim was not to ‘create’ but ‘rearrange’ ‘things’, drawing attention to the interdependent relationships between these ‘things’ and the space surrounding them.’ – Toothpicker
I was intrigued by a wall text by Nobuo Sekine
‘What we are doing is finding ways to have encounters today’ – Nobuo Sekine
An encounter of space between
things – matter – mind
Fig 1: mono-ha and Nobuo Sekine – encounter
I was really fascinated by a rather simple approach, an approach to an essence of encounters. Not in a Platonist way of essence of an idea as transcendent truth, more as an essence of what matters.
I was relfecting after my visit for quite some time about these words and along some words from Lee Ufan who stated that their works were made for a show and to be destroyed afterwards. Firstly, I was thinking that they actually physically destroyed the material as such, but it was more about the destruction of the installments, or the work, e.g Lee Ufan’s Relatum III (a place within a certain situation), 1970 (Toothpicker). A work of ropes tied around a pillar and wooden blocks to hold them in place. Each new installation they responded to the respective site to
things a-new, a-fresh
An encounter in-between, on site, in a physical space and place. Perhaps, I was impressed as my visit followed our performance and viewing event two days before. I could experience a difference between materiality in space and screen based art. A truly embodied encounter.
And I felt some resonance with my recent assignment works, latex-paint-skin, stretching as encounter of forces
Fig. 2: SJSchaffeld, assignment 4 work , detail
Featured image: Screenshot from https://cardigallery.com/exhibitions/ and https://cardigallery.com/exhibitions/
Fig. 1: Collages form photographs taken in the exhibition
Underground poetry, take a pen, move on the paper from left to right back and force while moving, at station make circles till moving again, change the pen, each second station rotate the paper continue till your final destination
Words embedded: names of the underground stations (some time after Green Park till Heathrow Terminal, the Piccadilly line)
This work was inspired by my visit to Oscar Murillo at David Zwirner, London, and his ‘Poetics of Flight’ drawing made during his multiple flights. It is not a copying, as Murillo applied quite some different approaches and his embedded words do have a different connotations.
I found it absolutely fascinating how through travel motion, marks can be made in a constrained space through double physical movement: the underground (a linear trajectory) and my hand (small moves rotating the page)
I could envision this as a topology, or as mapping of time spent. A repetition in multiple underground rides, on bus? on train?
thinking about communication
if this is site-specific work, would it not be good to share if site-specific? I.e. to share with London underground? Quick searching revealed that they actually have a social media presence for ‘Art on the Underground’
Oscar Murillo (b. 1983) is shortlisted for this year Turner prize. He went through an amazing painting career with global single shows at major places and fairs.
His large paintings were on show titled ‘Manifestation’ at David Zwirner Gallery, London (June 8—July 26, 2019).
Entering the gallery was a fab experience, as most works are made this year, the oil paint is still fresh:
His large scale painting contrasted with my visit to Frank Bowling at Tate Britain the day before. As Bowling’s work seemed to some extent more contrived, Murillo’s painting seemed to convey a more pulsing atmosphere. The colors are brighter, the texture of the surface more embedded in the picture plane, felt more coherent. But perhaps this was just my in the moment experience. But it definitely inspired me just to paint along.
One aspect that apparently went through most of his paintings, were a split compositional frame, at times left and right side, at times different sections. Similar to Bowling, Murillo used collaged figurative elements, embedded in the picture plane. Another aspect I find interesting, was stitching. Also seen in some of Bowling’s works, Murillo stitched some canvas pieces together (see Fig). I am wondering whether ‘stitching’ canvas is a trendy thing to do… In reminiscence to textile and fabrics was also the way of ‘curtain-hanging’ of another painting.
‘A lot of this mark-making is a release of anxiety and physical energy.’ – Oscar Murillo (interview with Peter Aspden, 2019)
Many of his paintings are an expression of physical energy released in the process of making. A notion that I feel resonates with my latest assignment work on latex-paint-skin, though the physical forces are certainly different depending on scale.
collage of photographs taken at exhibition – Oscar Murillo
One part was keeping my attention, a projection on one gallery wall showing moving images in close up view of colored marks on paper.
This piece is one of several works done in a similar way of his recent series Poetics of Flight. All of them are around around 57 x 40 cm. They are made during one of his flight travels, a visualisation of in-flight movement For these paper works, the gallery created a specific, time limited website (accessible through July 28th)
“Constant transnational movement has become an integral facet of my practice. Flight becomes not just a means of travel but a sacred ‘other’ space, the aeroplane seat itself becoming a unique ‘studio’ at a remove, a non-place which is both physically confined and freed from being in any real geographical location.” – Oscar Murillo, in conversation with the gallery
“The drawings made on board planes, in hotels, and in any space of transition have a similar function: they feed a sickness, a relentless laboring.” – Oscar Murillo (David Zwirner Gallery (2019b)
It really resonated with my own travelling and inspired me to work immediately afterwards on a piece Underground Poetry on my way back from central London to Heathrow airport on the tube (considering my constraints
Frank Bowling (b. 1934 in Guayana) is an abstract painter still working today from his London studio at the age of 85. My tutor suggested to visit the currently major retrospective of his 60 years of work at Tate Britain (31 May – 26 Aug 2019)
At the beginning , I was not sure whether I would appreciate the work of this artist, perhaps too much of the same painting approaches from the 1960s / 1970s? Anyhow, I entered the exhibition with open mind and eyes and was curious what I would encounter. Clearly, it was major retrospective, and the chronological order of the rooms seemed for me the right flow through a painterly movement since Modernism to Materiality, from Formalism to Serendipity.
Whereas his earlier works of the 1960s seems to be made in a similar ‘style’ as his fellow students R.B.Kitaj and even Francis Bacon (e.g. Mirror, 1966) and/or take references from other artists, they are the starting point of Bowling’s interest in geometric abstraction and formalism. He was actually a good friend of Clement Greenberg (interesting to read one of the letters on display at Tate, Fig.1 )
Fig. 1: collage of photographs taken at Tate (https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/frank-bowling); left: letter from Clement Greenberg to Frank Bowling, 1971, Bowling’s studio spaces in London with his assistant Spencer A. Richards (right)
A few examples that stirred my flow and inspiration (Fig 2):
Vitacress, 1981: mark left by paint bucket on the canvas laying on the floor turning into visual language that Bowling incorporated also in later paintings
Benjamin Mess, 2013: The layering of canvas pieces, different sizes, cut with a sewing scissor (patterned edges)
Wintergreens, 1986: building up texture by using acrylic foam and thick acrylic gel, both materials he reduced in use in his later paintings. I didn’t find the embedded acrylic foam pieces that successful and convincing. They reminded me rather of my own experiment in part 2 of this course (e.g. Preservation box #1 and #2 – A2 – The Spatial Box)
Sam’Sentinal, 1999: he reflected on his mother’s activities and her job as dress and hat maker and intense use of sewing informed his ‘stitched’ canvas work. These layered and stitched smaller scale works are combined, from various paintings in progress works in parallel, as parts from one went into the other. It is like re-assembling different puzzles into new puzzles. The painting is therefore the results of a process, of painting a canvas, and of placing it across. Reminded me of Sean Scully’s work Human 3, 2018 where he cut out a square from the center from one work and placed into an even cut out space in another work.
Girls in the City, 1991: A combined work made from seven separate canvas, reflecting on the way ‘people structure themselves, in the way we are, we live in building and express life in opposition to minimalism, enclosure, and death’ (wall-note, quote from Frank Bowling)
From V2-RS1, 2005: Bowling started to make white paintings, and this one has embedded acupuncture needles (artist was treating his back-pain with acupuncture). These white paintings alongside its materiality made me think of how his works could inspire and inform my work. As I am still in a hotel in London, I wanted to make something, and milk and yoghurt came to my mind. The first liquid, the latter semi-solid, a transformation through a natural process of fermentation (and van Gogh used milk to fix his early charcoal/pencil drawings)
Fig. 2: collage of photographs from exhibition – Frank Bowling; top left clockwise: Vitacress, 1981- Benjamin Mess, 2013 – detail of Wintergreens, 1986 – Sam’Sentinal, 1999 – Girls in the City, 1991 – From V2-RS1, 2005.
His long time assistant Spence A. Richards stated once (from wall-note) about Bowling that
“[Bowling] would use whatever I did, even if it was a mistake, as a starting point for a painting.” – Spencer A Richards (Tate, 2019)
I left impressed by the continuity and vitality of the experimental approaches in Bowling’s work. Considering that he worked constantly for 60 years with an open-mind, an attitude for wonder, and searching new approaches by embracing constraints or mistakes (as his assistant stated) as opportunities and including those partly in his painting as visual language, e.g the marks left by a paint bucket on the canvas laying on the floor in Vitacress, 1981. More impressive that he does this at his age of 85 with a decreasing mobility pushing him to work mostly seated.
I do wonder whether all very large scale works do have to be that large. However, I like the way he considered his studio space and found creative ways of overcoming constraints (see Fig. 1).
Bowling started with formal and geometric explorations and this continued to be question throughout his later works. He explored deeply the materiality and physicality of his material. I was not so much impressed of his earlier experiments with adding all kind of material, especially acrylic foam, leaving a touch of failure of my own experiments with pouring paint over all sort of packaging material. His heavy use of acrylic gel had for me quite an ‘artificial’ aka deprived touch. It was fab to see how through his Thames paintings and making reference to the light in his home country Guyana turned the works into more articulated and refined works. I do relate strongly with Bowling’s attraction to the liquidity and fluidity of paint through spraying and letting it go/flow.
His stencil and screen printing techniques reminded me partly of Jacqueline Humphries.
I take away from my visit that experimenting with materials is fine, but it need to put more attention onto aspects like surface structure and compositional elements in relationship to color to make the work pulsing and successful.
Overall, Bowling’s work do convey a contemporary abstract sense. Although, I am not sure whether this way of working alone would satisfy me for longer. I also left with a sense of ‘nostalgic modernism’ and missed some moments of excitement
This was going a bit different than just a straight forward parallel project. The outcome was realised and performed aka screened in a private viewing event at Toynbee Studios, London E1 6AB on 20th July 2019 with the support of OCA (Caroline Wright and Carla Rees). The work consisted of an approx 10 min visual-music performative video created together with music student Vicki Downey.
as installed and screened at Toynbee Studios on 20th July 2019. A collaboration with music student Vicki Downey ()
Remark: in order to have the best experience of the work, it is recommended to listen to with good headphones with a frequency range down to <=20 Hz or with a good audio system that can convey very low pitches
Now, with the outcome accomplished, time to reflect on the work done and a reflection after the event including feedback from the audience and learnings from what I experienced from the other five projects presented.
About our collaboration
(see also Vicki’s reflection – under Reference)
When the call for a New Music-Fine Arts collaborative project was announced, I was thrilled. I pondered for quite some time about how to bring sound and painting together, having only experimented for myself with some animated images and recorded painting processes. I knew that I often take too much on my shoulders and at times all over the place. Therefore, I hoped that I could integrate the collaborative bit into my coursework, even hoping it could be part of my parallel project related to medical imaging and MRI and being presented for assessment (still to come) – and I got the go from my tutor under the condition it would be well documented. I was even more thrilled to hear in my first virtual meeting with music student Vicky Downey that she felt intrigued by the topic of MRI and was open minded to have our collaboration on this theme, somehow ‘directed’ by my parallel project. Since the start I felt an amazing resonance and trust between us.
Big challenge for me was how to create and get visuals, animated images or ‘still’ paintings into a piece of work that work together and are ‘synced’ with Vicki’s music. We discussed this and it occurred to me that non-perfect sync might be even a good idea. I never worked on any video or animated piece longer than 1 or 2 minutes, and mostly as recordings, but without the addition of extra-soundscapes. I was afraid that I have to spend a massive amount of time on learning film editing and post-production software, and that the results would look clumpy, rough and amateurish. Or that awful transitions would damage the experience of our work. I put this concern away and was pleased that our discussion went along more or sensation and experience of visual and soundscapes.
I really enjoyed our collaboration that followed a mutual sequence, starting with talking through my initial idea and own experience of brain MRI, Vicki’s experience and ideas relating to MRI, and pulling together rough ideas on how MRI works, how it could be translated musically and visually, and some references to other artists.
In this flowing phase, I found it tremendously helpful to have Vicki as a remote partner, giving structure through her music pieces, that I could take up and inform my visuals. We refined and build a flow together later. I do thank Vicki for being in that sense more structured as me, as I tend to be rather experimental, at times chaotic and always embracing uncertainty. Also, I very much appreciated how Vicki took up points from our discussion through a few virtual meetings and more email exchanges (that I put all together in a separate doc) and played out and experimented freely. Fortunately, this didn’t put her off.
I made a very rough first draft visual sequence midway that found good resonance with Vicki, and just before our big day made variations and eventually the night before the final cut. I was embracing uncertainty and considered certain de-synced transitions as a key element of the outcome and the experience. It was like a dialogue in three, between visuals, music and perception by the audience of both together. This also led to the fact that I could share a second version of a full visual sequence (a narrative?) with Vicki only the day before the event. However, I made some variations of sub-sequences that we reviewed remotely by texting together. A big thank to her for this late checking in and trust and openness.
Each of us created more ‚raw material’ that didn’t go into our final cut. We have more material that we could (and will) see how it could be used. This includes MRI footage in the work, voice and words, humming sound by string or by audience, and last not least how a live performance with people (us or other) could look like.
Overall, I very much appreciated the opportunity from OCA to work collaboratively with music, especially that it was Vicki who became my partner in ‚MRI-crime‘ (our work title ‘Mindful Resonance Interaction (MRI)’, that I made up in a moment of deep inspiration, is also a reflection on our collaboration based on openness and trust). I also found the inspirational and pragmatic Carla and Caroline very supportive and appreciated that both also made some work together. As a Fine Art student at level HE5, I feel inspired to explore further relationships between visual spaces and sound spaces, both key to our human understanding and knowledge of the world around us. This collaboration opened up new perspectives for me, and I can now even imaging in include voice/words into the work.
Reflection after the performance event 20th July 2019
We started the day in a wonderful venue at Toynbee Studios, six projects in pairs, three before and three after lunch. I was so thrilled hearing that my tutor will come, and for time reasons made us to schedule our bit as the last one of day.
The day started with the fantastic impromptu Kym and Jason, who performed painting and music ad hoc, involving us as the audience by asking to roll a dice that would inform their performance. It was a good start with a lot of fun. I very much liked the vitality and spontaneity of the performance. Something, I could do envision for street art performance or any other public spaces as well. Will keep this in mind as it resonates with my art therapy practice as well.
A slide show accompanied by live piano music followed by word and voices followed by Anne and Naomi (who was virtual present), with Anne’s husband joining in. I very much enjoyed her piece ‘hands’, written poem, sung along by Anne and her husband, we as audience were invited to sing along as well. I found it intriguing to include words and voice in a piece, something Vicki and I considered but not realized. Re audience voice, it appeared also in the piece performed later by Anna and Deborah, as well as by Emma and SarahJane.
The next project by Anna and Deborah was informed by Anna’s graduate show work on ‘one year in prison’ informed by letters of one prisoner. It sounded familiar to me, as my work with Vicki was also informed by my ideas of parallel project, though nothing was realized till that moment. Nevertheless, there work got a spin by the input of Deborah. The audience was once again invited to participate by creating a human wall (reference to the prison wall) and holding lace flags. Anna informed us that this bit was informed by her exchange with textile students. Their piece was an animated still photograph sequence with voice over by Anna and Deborah sitting on both side of the human wall. I took away the experience of space created in the room, through a layering of background screening, audience as object rather sculptural installation and the words and voices that pulled me as an ‘observer’ into a liminal space.
After lunch, the room became dark, as the three following projects were built around the screening experience accompanied by music and sound. It was interesting for me how the day was split into two parts (intentionally?). Caroline’s and Carla’s work was according to their information a rather short notice built together performative work. Carla was playing on her flute and creating a huge variety of sounds and Caroline played a gong, both playing in the back, between the screen and the audience seated. I was impressed by the experience of time and duration. At the beginning the transitions of stills were very slow, meditative, and the perception of space through layering was stunning. What started abstract moved on with zooming out perspectives and with more clarity on location and video sequences were included. The soundscapes created and experienced were intriguing. Compared to screen-based sequences only, as me and Vicki worked along on our piece, a double space created, the room of the performance was part of the work. A tension between what I see and what I hear, going through my body, being fully immersed. Time was standing still, and I did appreciate how long a piece can be (it was roughly 15 min long) with slow motion or even still. Definitely, something for me to keep in mind.
The project just before our part, was done by Emma and SarahJane, a fast moving sequence build around original footage from an older Venus travel film related to the myth of the Sirens, accompanied by Emma’s music as a soundtrack, or a soundscape synced with the visuals. SarahJane had incredible technical knowledge how to apply filters to make visual effects. Most stunning was their rather improvised audience involvement through a voice choir accompanying the last sequence of an underwater siren sequence. Another fab example, how well the audience can be involved actively, and how improvisation actually works by just doing, being in the space, and feeling resonance among the people and the visuals or music.
The last bit was our work ‘Mindful Resonance Interaction (MRI)’. I was quite nervous, checked with Vicki who was virtual present, sound systems, being concerned about the transmissions of very low pitches. We didn’t foresee any audience involvement or live performing things; it all was about the visual-music experience conveyed through projection and sound. We discussed before the duration of the black screen in the middle of the work just the night before. But having experienced the other works before I was not concerned at all. It is amazing how much space (visually and musically) can be hold when being in that space physically. An experience lacking completely when viewing online, screen based only. For me the big take away: one’s own body has to be in that space. How could embodiment be better explained? We received good feedback related to the photo-painting sequence and the narrative created, at times an disruptive, unstable sequence that worked well with the experience.
Overall, a fantastic day, full of creative energy. We all worked together very well. It was very worth for me to flying over. As one key aspect in my work is embodiment, best experience for me was the necessity of being in the space itself. Kind of summarizing what my parallel project was and is all about. The experience of MRI was a point of departure, it concluded in an experience of visual-sound-music-embodied space experience. I left the venue and the day encouraged and highly motivated and was following up with Vicki to share what I felt and experienced, and feedback received offline. This is another aspect of collaboration: sharing and involving.
About the development of the work ‘Mindful Resonance Interaction’
First, we agreed to start wide open, bringing each of us visual and musical sketches into the table aka into the cloud (a shared drive). This was quite a helpful approach, to have a place to share without talking directly to each other (Vicki is based in UK, I am based in Germany) and to get input of what the other had in mind. We discussed themes as body-mind binary opposites, sense of disembodiment inside the MRI machine, the hand outside the machine with the thumb on the emergency button, physical parameters e.g. proton spinning, Lamour frequency, precession, slicing, machine sounds, notation etc. One reference I added to our discussion was Rasheed Newsome’s Shade Compositions, a combination of stage performance, screening, and sound and voice – it was good to hear that this resonated with Vicki. I do believe that this idea of combining wall screening and stage performance followed through our collaboration. We diverted from this, perhaps more unconsciously mutual agreed on in resonance, it became clear that Vicki couldn’t attend in person. Therefore, we put the stage performance bit aside, and to make it digital only. Somehow, I didn’t feel it would make sense to perform on site/stage alone.
I did pull from ideas created during my course, kind of spin off ideas informed my ideas about my parallel project. I maintained a dedicated sketchbook for my project, at the beginning it was rather focused around my brain MRI experience, other artist’s work informed by MRI, and my coursework ideas. It developed into a more focused exploration around our collaboration.
A next main phase started midway, when we agreed to structure our work around three parts: an emerging (informed by my reference of arriving in the clinic and before going inside the machine) , an inside the machine (with its percussive, pulsing sound and slicing effect relating to the visual imagery resulting from the process), and a final part that I referred to as Baroque, informed by MRA images of my brain vessels, we called it ‘Brain Baroque’.
Concerning the Baroque: this is informed by my reading of Deleuze ‘Fold’ (brain as folded matter) and inspired by Helen Chadwick’s work ‘Oval Court’ and her interest in the Baroque, Rococco. I found it helpful to have midway Carla Rees supporting Vicki in finding her way into this theme that she took up and came back with stunning piece of music.
Concerning uncertainty, I tend to push thinking about final piece away and still being very positive about the process and an outcome. I have to acknowledge that only quite late in the project phase I got some clarity on how things might evolve from my side.
My first draft based on the three part music provided by Vicki established for me a frame around emerging (my portrait with zooming into my eyes) , using original MRI footage and some of my sketchbook ideas to improvise on the idea of slicing alongside the organ sound from Vicki, using original MRA footage of my brain vessels (animated) for the ‘brain baroque’ music, and last taking my same portrait to fade away into blackness as end.
I was not satisfied with couple of items, e.g., do I want to use original footage? do I want to illustrate ‘slicing’ through animated movement of still images? how could we make a meaningful finish? I wanted to build in process work, i.e. painting process, and to replace photographs with paintings, all still to be created.
I found it was very helpful that we obtained a combined full piece of work, even in a very raw and sketchy way. It supported us to reflect in structure, on timing, on visual-music resonance. Without that overall impression, I doubt that we would have been able to establish the outcome we presented.
Few main changes we made: to break the first part down into two sections (a slower and a more dynamic phase) and to break the third part also in two sections (allowing a smoother finish). Vicki came up with the idea of breathing, I related it to departing from the machine into nature. This really got my ideas flowing, to distant myself from rather illustrative visuals, and to relate more to the body. Some further reading done for my critical essay gave me ideas in faces, defacing, and touch and the body. The result was me drawing a sand with the water washing it away. This is what I do relate to the seacoast, for our work I had to improvise and to set up the ‘beach’ on our porch with sand and letting water from our rainwater container run over it to flush it away. All these connotations with drawing a face in sand and the sea informed the last section of our work.
I decided to start the ‘Brain Baroque’ piece with the original animated footage (was too fascinating for us since the beginning), but merged it with a process painting of watercolor running down (in final piece it is ‘running’ up as I rotated it informed by the uplifting sound and uplifting evolvement of Baroque forms).
To replace my photographed portrait with a painting was the easier bit, and I think that the fact of Vicki being not physical present informed my decision to ask her for a portrait photo and to paint her as well. During the making next steps followed on each other and our two photographs turned into two portrait paintings that turned into one layered combined portrait followed by the first idea of zooming into the eye and into the brain.
The last, the middle section was perhaps the hardest bit, as I not only questioned the use of original footage for that (too personal? too illustrative? ethics?) as well as the visuals as being just an illustration of the music or of my idea of ‘slicing’. A turning point for me was when I started to depart from being inside the MRI machine and focusing more on my embodiment, my reaction to sound when I was inside. Is music not creating a soundscape that we tend to take in us, triggering images, and last not least make us to move, to feel? What if I would perform not to the original footage but to Vicki’s music? A surrogate perhaps, but more real in the presence, informed by same phenomena of human embodiment. I think after making several performance during daylight and at night with UV light, fluorescent paint on my face, and a check pattern projected onto my body and the background wall (the pattern was one of those moments of serendipity found during making of other works for my course, informing this project) I did know the music by heart.
During this assignment I was more concerned to move away from mere experimental testing of materials and to explore more certain features of one material, through combinations and through action onto the material. But also to see the performative aspect of the material as such. I became more aware of visual languages, of relationship between shapes, lines, edges, and surrounding space. At the end, I worked with an ephemeral material and even with vulnerable conditions of tension. I eventually became aware, that those aspects (ephemeral, vulnerable) could be explored through materiality and not through representational or figurative pictures. What I actually found rather intriguing having moved me away from the ‘hand’ in my previous assignment.
However, at times I worked quite intuitively. Not sure that I made the best color choices, or best compositional expressions. I took the risk to stop at some time and to reflect on possible further developments, making this assignment more of a journey than a presentation of finished work.
Quality of Outcome
I am not sure whether this assignment has the quality at all required. As mentioned before, it is ‘unfinished work’, though some works might actually be convincing as such (e.g. the last one with combined net and paint skin, or some smaller ones). Although, to communicate an idea through the work might be challenging. Intentionally, I tried to keep it more open. letting the material speak for itself. However, it might work that the tension and the various shapes and textures might actually convey an idea, but this would be rather the one created by the viewer.
Demonstration of Creativity
I was quite open to look at materiality as such, and curious to look beyond obvious combinations. Although, I was at the beginning quite unsure to use latex at all, I became more ‘complicit’ with that material, especially looking at from a stretching and vulnerability point of view. At the end, and digesting the results for a few days , I became more creative in thinking even beyond my rather small scale works and to embrace those at larger scale, focusing on a few aspects only (e.g. stretching) what even might be an idea of live performance.
I looked at few artists, but decided not to look much deeper into them as I wanted a more fresh approach in my encounter with the materials chosen: latex. Although, I could have embraced more cultural connotations of how latex and stretching is applied to in various fields, I was aware of such connotations. However, I decided to work only with the material and the responses coming out of the performance of making (though the performance is not recorded as process, but more as intermediate ‘still’ works). Through my reading for my parallel project and especially for my critical review, I looked at skin as a term, and this informed my curiosity what could be done with skin. If I would have looked more into skin, I could work more with materials closer to skin as material, e.g. leather. But I decided to stay with latex, kind of surrogate. And certainly as vulnerable as human skin. Overall, I got some further ideas that is going to inform my parellel project. Especially, I like the experience made that my work is going to inform my critical review – and not vice versa.
Questions to my tutor:
Suggestions (presentation, assessment) for work that are under tension, vulnerable towards movement and especially heavy handling.
Discussion on multiple media (e.g. plus sound): I could embrace this to work in a gallery setting as the sound coming from the backside of the ‘still’ painting. How to get this virtually across?
‘Vibrant Matter -Touching my Skin – Stretching my limits.’
Latex: a material full of cultural connotations, derived a rubber from the rubber tree, used as latex-skin in erotica, as medium for latex paint, as material for medical gloves (what mostly are replaced now by nitrile gloves due to latex allergy). A material, only thinking of it at a later stage, I had explored on a molecular level during my master thesis in chemistry (my first academic degree ages ago).
This part of the course was asking question around canvas and stretcher, mostly I did look at it from a surface versus body conception. All paintings at perceived through their surface and all sculpture through their physical body, was this the way I would differentiate both disciplines? I started to think of paint as body, and of object like the stretcher as pictorial objects. Paint with multiplied sides, as a skin with double faces, and paint as a material that can be modeled with. I found in latex a material that has some similarities with acrylic paint. I could apply it with brushes, I could pour it, I could use various colors. It also has similarities with e.g. plaster in the form of plaster bandage used for sculptures, to build form with it, to cast.
I eventually closed in the idea of skin, and was informed by the books of Lisa Cartwright (Cartwright, 1995) and Jose van Dijk (van Dijck, 2005) as well as Bernadette Wegenstein (Wegenstein and Hansen, 2006). However, I didn’t looked at it from a conceptual viewpoint rather as a possibility of reading material. I found skin as good metaphor for how I perceived the material of latex, body and surface. Paint only as surface is what I would relate to the spray painted works of Katharina Grosse (Art21, 2015). Paint as body is what I see in the work of Lynda Benglis (Tate Shots, 2012). I was curious to see how one material could move along those two poles: surface and body. Some other artists, I loosely do refer to are Angela de la Cruz, for her use of paint as folding materials (though still with a supporting canvas) especially in relationship with the stretcher (Wetterling Gallery, 2016), Simon Callery, for his drappery like suspended canvas sculptures (Fold Gallery, s.D.), Dana Molzan, for some relevance to hangings (Kaufmann Repetto, s.D. ), and Karla Black, for her fragile hanging ephemeral works (National Galleries Scotland, 2019) .
Informed by my parallel project on medical imaging, the transparent clinical body, and the medical intrusive gaze through the skin, informed my exploration of the vulnerability, the fragmented paint, and options of negative space making the opaque latex ‘transparent’.
To look at it from a different angle, I do wonder whether aspect of Minimal Art or mono-ha do not also play a role here, especially considering the perception of the work in space. It is just a fade sensation. Although, the works are rather small scale, I could envision to make them human scale, room scale, These are the dimensions that the works of both art movements (western and eastern) do embrace. I do can imagine it, but I can’t experience it with small scale works only. Possibly, a digital simulation could give a better idea.
Just as a afterthought, I read recently an article about extended MRI techniques that allows to measure brain elasticity by ‘sending vibrations through ..They move faster through stiffer material, producing … maps of tissue rigidity, that may correspond to brain activity.’(Makin, 2019) This might be just too far ‘stretched’, but I found a certain resonance in how I worked with the latex paint material through sensing, feeling, stretching, responding to tensions – a vibrant matter.
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I visited the mono-ha exhibition at Cardi Gallery, London, and was intrigued by some works that embrace with tension: inside the work between two materials and in relationship to the viewer in the physical space of the room (e.g. Lee Ufan’s Relatum, 1969/2015). After our performance event in London where I showed my parallel project (a collaborative work with music student Vicki Downey) I was more convinced that the right perception of certain works can only be bodily experienced in a physical space as an encounter. It resonated with a quote from Nobuo Sekine (Fig. 1).
“My act is intended to open up the state of transparent world …
What we are doing is finding ways to have encounters today.” – Nobuo Sekine
But this might be just the biggest challenge as a distant art student. And what eventually would result in make actual exhibitions of my work and to have that experience being conveyed as part of my work. I possibly have to put this aside till level 3.
I am a Visual Artist studying towards a BA(hons) in Fine Art. My main interest resides in the psychological dimension of human life in daily encounters as an ambiguous temporal-spatial continuum. This is my learning log.
My artist site: https://www.stefanschaffeld.com