Category : Assignment 4

A4- Self-Evaluation

How am I doing against the criteria?

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

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.

Context

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?
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A4 – Contextual Notes

Vibrant Matter of Skin

 

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.

(word count 491)

 


Amendment: 
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.

 

"Fig.

 


Reference

 

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A4 – Painting through Skin

  • A4 – Painting through Skin
  • A4 – Painting through Skin
  • A4 – Painting through Skin
  • A4 – Painting through Skin
  • A4 – Painting through Skin

In my prior reflections, I articulated my aim for this assignment:

To explore latex as material, as paint, and as performative subject.
To find a balance between material feature, physical characteristics,
composition, and aesthetics.


Departure

I started to work first time with latex, considered it either as material for disposable gloves, as latex paint for wall painting, or as fetish material with erotic connotation. The first connotation was my first one, the third one that of a few other people.

Point of departure: using latex as conservation, surface coating – see  project 1  (Fig. 1).

Continuation: to understand that latex can be vulnerable when seen as material without support (as it stuck together, Fig. 2), that it doesn’t work as intended with all materials (failing to blend with plaster, Fig. 3), and that it can go sculptural when joined with supporting material (eg. wire, Fig. 4) – see project 2 

grid view – click on an image to open in lightbox view (Fig. 1 – 5):

My most exciting experience was to explore the literal stretching performance of latex as paint material (Fig. 5):  Stretching as a unique feature of the material, and not just acting as a prep to  support a painting, but to become the painting in itself.

I decided to look at two main aspects:

  • sculptural versus surface
  • stretching

Going sculptural

From project 4 I was interested to explore paper chips more, and to see whether they could give latex more sculptural features (Fig. 6-14)

grid view – click on an image to open in lightbox view (Fig. 6 – 14) – sizes each between around 12-15 x 8-10 x 7-11 cm

=> those small scale wire-latex sculpture do have some fascinating aspects. Especially the last one (sculpture no4, Fig. 12-14) do convince more through a combination of transparent and opaque;  patterns, lines and shapes; concealing and revealing;  play with color. In a similar way sculpture no2 has a sense of opening.

The drawback with these small sculptures build around wire is  instability: the wire doesn’t hold the latex-skin enough, both are rather a playful interaction, moving around without stabilising themselves. This might be an aspect to follow through, but I was more interested in other ways, more robust and stable approaches – more stretched ones.

Another, quite experimental approach I looked at was pouring latex over paper chips (those chips I used to paint with in project 4) resulting in quite unique scuptural object (Fig. 15). But it seemed to rather a dead-end – or one off.  No stretching ‘allowed’ here.

Fig, 15: latex-chips-sculpture

Fig, 15: latex-chips-sculpture; pouring – stretching – breaking – arranging; a flower bouquet?

 

At that moment, I decided to revisit a work from project 2 (Fig. 16, left). The stretched latex became after some time less tight, the tension diminished, reminding me of guitar strings that had to be re-tuned through adding more tension, to stay atuned. What led me to ‘unstretch’ it, following the motion of ‘hanging’ and installed it that way (Fig. 16, right). Leaving wide open space inside, space to breathe, to relax.

Fig. 16: revisiting from project 2- stretching the skin

Fig. 16: revisiting from project 2- stretching the skin

 

=> also this approach, through fascinating and intriguing to follow through (relax, breathing), it still did work the way I was looking for. No ‘stretching’ here.

Being complicit with latex – feeling resistance

Therefore, I decided to re-start with new latex-skin paintings, now on paper as a variation towards an unknown. My previous latex works where more about the surface aspect of the material (coating, sticking, folding). I wanted to explore its painterly qualities by layering various colored latex (Fig. 16 – 19). Without knowing the outcome, I was curious to see how it will turn out – and to work from there.

I applied the three colored latex (kind of primaries) rather abstractly and intuitively, in a way that I found intriguing.

grid view – click on an image to open in lightbox view (Fig. 17 – 20) – sizes approx. 32 x 45 cm

Exploring peeling, face lifting, and how the material will perform.  But it happened that some part of the latex didn’t got of the paper. Although, as learned from previous sticky results (Fig. 2), I used baby powder to protect the latex surface of just doing that.

Apparently, the latex mixed with phtalo blue was the one that kept sticking to the paper (the other colors with inorganic pigments (cd red, cd yellow, titan white) behaved differently. I started to think on how this could be an opportunity – and playing with an empty stretcher (Fig. 21)

Fig. 21: latex color skin - failure as opportunity

Fig. 21: latex color skin – failure as opportunity; paper as support and picture plane – stretcher as pictorial element – latex skin as paint and picture; do I need the bull clamps? 

 

=> Would this ‘failure as opportunity’ give me some new directions? 

Stretching

Exploring further, lifted paint-skin, informed by a pictorial use of an empty stretcher.  Extending the stretching aspect of the resulting latex picture.

First attempt, small stretcher (40 x 30  cm)

Fig. 22: latex stretch no1

Fig. 22: latex stretch no1; stretching a released latex picture onto a stretcher, opening negative space; do I really need the bull clamps ?

 

=> this seemed to work quite well. I was wondering whether I could stretch more, using larger stretcher. The color areas turned out to be important pictorial elements in the stretched composition.

Second attempt – larger stretcher (70x50cm)

grid view – click on an image to open in lightbox view (Fig. 23 – 26)- sizes approx 80 x 50 cm

=> I used bull clamps to fix one part of the latex skin on one side and pulled with my hands another part towards the opposite side. Trying what can be pulled towards where. At times, the latex skin became vulnerable and – broke. I worked further with the fragments, resulting in a diminishing picture plane, and increasing negative space. At the end it was not any longer a complete paint layer as in Fig. 16-19, but rather strings been held. The color areas flattened out and transformed into spatial lines.

Following up with these efforts, I decided to revisit the partly stuck-to-paper latex picture (Fig. 21) and to see how I could develop it further, trying to be more in relationship with the materiality performance and to see what the material wants to tell me.

grid view – click on an image to open in lightbox view (Fig. 27 – 30) – sizes approx 24 x 18 cm

=> an evolution of keeping inside the frame, contained, and white areas of paper stuck to the latex (backside) turned into a pictorial element. I found it really fascinating how things can turn around into an abstract composition by considering all sides, and features of the material, playing and revisiting possible constellations till it results into a somehow meaningful work – void of any representational framework or external connotations – just paint material composed and mediated.

I started to sense a familiarity with the latex material, a complicity? I wanted to make thicker layers of paint, and to go back to two colors in order to explore more the spatial performance of areas and lines, how the first can turn into the second.

grid view – click on an image to open in lightbox view (Fig. 31 – 34) – sizes around 24×18+ cm 

=> Because of the thickness of the paint-skin, it material was rather rigid, and the relationship between the shapes stayed pretty much stable. I thought that using the wire could make it more sculptural, not stretching but bonding. As done before (Fig. 23-26), I wanted to explore the shape relationship through stretching deeper and went back to the found object, the wine rack stretcher from Fig. 15.

grid view – click on an image to open in lightbox view (Fig. 35 – 38) – sizes approx 80 x 22 cm

 

=> stretching downwards (Fig. 35 & 36), demanding quite some strength, turning upside down (Fig. 37) and finding a more dynamic form and relationship. Here, I had to use bull-clamps again, the tension was too strong and the  strips the narrow.  The colors wavelike moving upwards, up-lifting. The paint-skin not completely covering the stretcher’s rectangular shape, but following its own dynamic and leaving enough negative space open to resonate with. I was curious to see whether the addition of a different texture (latex skin pattern made with the help of bubble wrap) could work (Fig. 38) –  but I found the result a bit too contrived, too dense, and leaving not enough open space .

However, I found the paint-mesh fascinating, adding certainly contrast, as also explored in project 4.5.  As my stretched works done earlier (Fig. 23- 26) were very open with not a balanced relationship between positive and negative space, I wanted to see whether the mesh could add more meaning to it. I could not undo the stretching and fragmentation of the latex-paint-skin, thus adding could work better. 

I was curious to play along this pattern and the stretched colored bands, placing, stretching as well the mesh-skin.

grid view – click on an image to open in lightbox view (Fig. 39 – 42) – sizes approx. 80 x 50 cm

=> an evolving process of increasing the tension of the skin-mesh, becoming more a net (reminding me of sea and fishing). It appeared to me that the two varieties of solid and meshed paint-skin do stand in a dialogue with each other. It occurred to me that I had to apply much less force to stretch the mesh than the solid paint-skin. An interesting aspect as it could inform future options of ‘stretching’. 

Reflection and possible next steps 

One of my concerns or interest in making the works for the assignment was to see whether I could get rid of the bull-clamps. I considered them rather a temporary fixings, but wanted to see how the paint-skin and the stretched could be more autonomous, being self-sufficient and the only partners in this relationship. I started to create variations since my second attempt on stretching (Fig. 22-25), replacing bull clamps by stretching the paint-skin mostly around the corners so that could be hold in place by its own tension. Only, in the thick latex skin stretched across the wine rack required me to use bull-clamps again.

My initial work (Fig. 15) was still with bull-clamps, but hidden at the backside of the stretcher. And my small scale sculptural works (Fig. 6-14) were hold by the wire net, but the tension was absent due to the fact that both materials (paint skin and wire) were both rather flexible.

The used stretcher (Fig. 39-42) seems now a bit too contained, too much frame like. Whereas, the one with the found stretcher (Fig. 35-38) does work better for me. The smaller one in Fig 34 also appears more successful as the stretcher appears rather as an embedded object than a frame, more than the one in Fig. 30. I would like to ‘un-stretch/un-frame’ , but do not quite know yet how else to fix the material, the edges. And some fixture is needed, otherwise there will not be ‘stretching’. One option could be to put nails in a wall as fixing points. Another option could be, to combine the idea from my small sculptures but instead of the quite flexible wire to use rigid bars. Or too look out for found objects, that could hold the strength of stretching latex paint-skin. Here, I could embrace my experience more that mesh are easier to stretch and hold that solid paint-skin. 

The most successful pieces are those that embrace the material unique features (stretchable, double faces) and have besides a material tension also a tension inside the pictorial elements, e.g. Fig. 36 or Fig. 42. The drawback of these are that they are pretty vulnerable as they are under tension (not good for physical shipments, rather a site-specific installation). And this would be also a key question to my tutor: how to work and present works like that for assessment.

Options to stretch – future extension or application of assignment work

static:

  • nails in the wall
  • rigid metal bars
  • anything ready-made: handrails, trees, hangers, 

dynamic:

  • between doors: open and closing doors kept under tension as performance
  • live performance: audience invited to apply forces, to stretch supplied paint-skins (or to think further, to search even for any material to explore stretching as such)

Options of paint-skin:

  • mesh 
  • solid
  • area or line 
  • different thicknesses for different tension
  • combinations of above

Amendment

inspired by the music-art collaboration and our event in London, I was wondering whether a painting can not also actually make music aka sounds. Here the sound of stretched paint (Fig. 36)

 


A spin off from working with latex mesh and trying to find objects that can hold tension – a failure due to structural collapse. Nevertheless, it became a wall object for itself (Fig. 43)

Fig. 43: Wall object; latex mesh and honeycomb board

Fig. 43: Wall object; latex mesh and honeycomb board

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