A5 – Beyond the Skin – A material Approach
Skin – Sculptures – Disciplined Material – Stretching
Latex was my material of choice in assignment 4. I was fascinated by the response of material -acting and reacting on my actions, at times quite strong forces: pulling, stretching and folding. Actions upon material matter, to feel, to see and to experience what happened and what failed to happen.
Could I apply my latex skin approach with other materials? And how to choose the right ones? Are there right ones at all? Nevertheless, I felt connected with my parallel project, medical imaging, and materials that could trigger some connotations either with clinics, medical, or the medical gaze. All what one could experience as materials that get in contact with one own skin, e.g. as textiles are clothes, clothes acting as a second skin. Bandage, e,g. leukotype, is touching the skin closely, others as Tyvek in the form of protective disposable gowns are less close to the skin.
Considering my rather bold use of canvas stretcher for assignment 4 and my tutor’s comment of using more subtle ‘frames’, I found metal hangers as a good choice to work with. Hangers are used for clothes. Metal hangers are thin enough to provide enough support for stretching but also being not too dominant. I felt inspired to use them by Richard Tuttle’s work in series Wire Pieces, 1972, although he explored a different subject through it (line, shadow, drawn line – questioning objectivity and subjectivity (Horn ed al, 2015:54-55). In this context, I also felt inspired by some of the layered works of Christian Bonnefoi, although his conventional rectangular frame felt too contained to me.
Multiplicity – Stretching and Pulling as Attitude
How to approach this?
Informed by my previous assignment 4, seeking for alternative materials for latex without rejecting stretching and pulling as important ‘verbal’ actions, and smaller scale works in series:
- Exploring the sculptural aspects of skin through fabric materials
- Exploring paint as peeling-skin with Hostaphan foil
- Exploring the intimacy of stretching as word and through words
Visual Text: Suspended Skin
I was considering my tutor’s remarks on last assignment re too dominant frame (and too conventional) and was informed for my next decision on material use by:
- Richard Tuttle’s ‘wire’ work (see blog post)
- the notion of Vesalius’s ‘Muscle Man’ studying anatomy (earlier medical gaze) and the skin as fashion accessoire that could be put on a hanger like a coat (see Juan Valverde de Amusco ‘Vivae Imagines’, 1566)
I got hold of those metal hangers and felt this would be fab framing and interactive material to stretch and pull my paint-fabric-skins (Fig. 2 – 13 – click on one image to open in lightbox view):
interaction – interdependency – holding together
=> A series of rather experimental use of various fabrics alongside acrylic paint, some with latex, wire. The challenge was the process of making: to manipulate the metal hanger and to find a balance between fixing the fabric to it, to stretch and pull the fabric, and to find a final sculpture that is stable and ‘stretched’ enough.
A different approach comparing with my latex stretching works from previous part with a focus more on the thick latex paint and finding the point before it fragmented. This time, it was more an interaction between frame and skin. both equally relevant, the one was not stable without the other, an interdependency.
Considering these skin sculptures and some reclaimed peeled paint from my second approach (see below) I made a series of more interaction between paint skin, hanger and fabric (Fig. 14-16 – click on one image to open in lightbox view)
Intermezzo: Skin and paint
My second approach was to work with acrylic paint on Hostaphan with the intention to obtain latex-like skin textures that I could stretch and frame (using above hanger or something else)
transparency – you impact my gestures
=> I think it all went well, I enjoyed applying gestural strokes across the highly transparent foil. Interestingly, the highly visible but not touchable wall impacted my painting. The foil was not rigidly fixed and was vibrating under my strokes. It felt as if I was painting on water
I was very positive that all would turn out for the good. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way. Apparently, I applied the paint far to thin (what is thick enough?) and I couldn’t peel the paint of (quite different from a plastic sheet where I could peel of acrylic paint easily). I was wondering whether to stretch with the entire foil? But this wasn’t likely to work either (and would have been a step away from my skin-approach)
paint thicker – or you will stay here !
I tried another simpler gesture and applied thick paint in it to see how it would work better. Fig. 14-16 (above) with the hanger was done with this yellow strip.
I overpainted with thicker paint, not sure whether this is a way I wanted to continue. I got reminded about my acrylic transfer process that I use at time since my painting 1 studies. I wanted to transfer the paint to fabric, and using the fabric instead of latex or the pure paint to stretch. It worked and it resulted in a new idea (Fig 15) – a patient gown appropriation, reminding me of the embroidered patient gown of Tabitha Moses (2014)
=> It went a complete different path than I expected. I wanted to leave it as there as such. Not sure how successful it really is. However, there is a certain aesthetic and I felt it closes a loop to my starting point with a patient gown made from mylar in part three – see Project 3.3 – Ex. 3.2: Before and After / Pulling a Narrative. It also reminded me of some other artist’s work informed by textile works, e.g Sam Gilliam. The shape as such reminds me of an insect body bringing up associations to Franz Kafka’s novella ‘Die Verwandlung’ (Metamorphosis)
Eventually, I decided to move on with my third approach: intimacy of small scale. Knowing also this will take time and space to develop.
Verbal Text: Stretching my words
I haven’t used words or text in my first two approaches. I was wondering whether my action of doing ‘to stretch – to pull – to hold’ would count as text? What is making the difference anyway? Most of visual perception is going to be interpreted already subconsciously through learned linguistic signs.
Words – Where have you been?
This approach is informed by my commissioned work for my local art community (see my blog post) and by my curiosity to explore the materiality of Parafilm M® as an exciting outcome from my sketchbook experiments on various materials.
A large scale constructed wall painting, a frieze, composed of bands of Parafilm M (4″ width) covering an area of approx. 280 x 60 cm. My gestures applied combining, making sense out of it. A performative painting, over time informed by interactions and connectedness, a network (like neural network of the brain?).
Color / shapes / lines / words
The evolution of a making (Fig. 21-30) – click on a single image to open in lightbox view.
It took a few week, each stage hanging and waiting for next inspiration, until it was ‘complete’ with words written onto it. What reminded me of wall graffiti and my recent exhibition visit in London Writing on the Wall At that time I was reflecting on how Twombly applied scribbling and inscription as a performative act, deconstructing written language in its gestural aspects. Perhaps, this became quite close to my approach here. My visual mark-making through gestures and words – to be deconstructed into smaller works..
The resulting large wall frieze (Fig. 31) – constructed to be deconstructed:
With this large fragile frieze (the single Parafilm stripes not really attached to each other, at some points the paint was making connections though) handing for a quite some time in my time
Also in my reflective post, I was asking myself “Are public walls the skin of a society?” and “Are human skins becoming a public wall? ” WIth this in mind I continued with cutting and stretching, deconstructing, and turning vulnerability into effect.
Be small – your own STRETCH
Stretching and pulling from the inside out,
Small is beautiful
=> I felt intrigued – as for my assignment 4 work – to explore the features of the material in itself, not to use more tools to put in a place where the material doesn’t want to be. Making smaller works, cardsize 6×4″, helps to keep the support rigid. Trying to do the same on A4 scale didn’t work. The support collapsed as the wire mesh I tried earlier one. In this case, small is beautiful, being big is not the way to go.
The wall frieze had to* undergo the process of my gaze, incisions. A process of cutting-up , stretching and pulling, cardsize paintings embracing intimacy and to be pulled into.
(* This certainly reminded me of my painting for Painting 1, a large scale painting cut up into grid segments, followed by my tutor’s questions of relationship to the Modernist grid and iconoclastic approaches – see my blog post for PoP1 and my reflection )
Video 1 (1:10 min)
=> I decided to go for rigid rhenalon sheets, as they are sturdy in small sizes holding the force of stretching, it is a transparent material that could work with backlight (informed by earlier works in assignment two (the Two Side Box), and my tutor comment on assignment 4 that one could see more intimate elements with backlight). Trying to work larger scale wasn’t that effective. Though I used A5 and A6 both to discern later.
This process of cutting-up and transforming into new pieces of work with a loose connection to the larger work appeared to be a process of diverse aspects:
- Scale: I decided to use A5 and A6 sizes, mainly to explore words as such (larger better) but still keeping an intimate approach to it (the viewer can hold it in the hands)
- An intimate interaction: cutting manually, peeling off the backing, stretching and pulling each piece onto rhenalon card. Each stretching and pulling different, a sensible touch, fragile material, vulnerable to strong forces, various application front and backside – multiplicity of ways to do
- Stretching words: – distorted already through cutting- became even more distorted through pulling and turning into abstract patterns.
- Color: I used first quite muted but later bolder color, reminiscence to muted color of human skin. I wasn’t sure how the color of paint would behave over time on parafilm. The black lines and words would make a more dominant contrast to it. With backlight – especially with lightbox and ambienbt light – the color turned stronger
- Transparency: I was impressed by how much backlight was transforming to work and the colors. Under normal toplight conditions muted colors, with backlight (lightbox) brighter. I also tried to hold it against a window at daylight (see end section of video 1) but due to the strong contrast the photograph doesn’t work that good. The eye and brain can better adjust to this contrast. However, it still worked best on lightbox. Something for me to see how to present for assessment (though I have some ideas to check out)
What is left behind and what appeared in another place.
I explored ambient studio light (A6 card size – with wider border on photographic image – Fig 34 – 37; click on one image to open in lightbox view):
… and lightbox, embracing the performative aspect of backlight (A6 card size – with wider border on photographic image – Fig 38 – 41; click on one image to open in lightbox view):
=> I started with making A6 card size plates and moved on in making A5 plates. One cut piece (approx 6 x 4″) from the wall went onto one A6 plate, and two pieces from the wall onto one A5 plate. The latter allowing me to combine two parafilm pieces in a more versatile manner: both on one side, one on the front and one on the back, oberlapping around the edges etc. It all was a quite intimate approach in finding the right force to stretch and pull (otherwise fragments are torn), to play with edges and transparency, and to explore words, now rather letters, around the various plates.
Total collection made: 13 A6 and 32 A5. I will see what to select for submission. Perhaps 22 of the larger A5 in reference to the 22 months that I am now on this course unit and finally found the end?
I will submit the lightbox version (as it is digital submission) and have to see how this could work at assessment (perhaps to ship my flat LED lightbox with the work)
Enough Gaze (20x30cm; latex, tyuvek, rhenalon, acrylic paint)
- Verbal interaction can inform the practical exploration: to stretch – to pull – to hold
- Materiality is interactive and interdependent
- Intimacy of touch and scale – a multiplicity of interactions
- Exploring self sufficient stretching: I wanted to avoid a canvas stretcher or other additional items that hold the stretch. Self-sufficient in respect to the material in itself holding and maintaining the stretching force. Parafilm M and rhenalon plates are keeping together even without use of adhesive. The final works are rigid, solid, stable without the risk of further fragmentation during transportation. Comparing to some of my works for assignment 4 with latex – with some even collapsed during one week.
- Overall, it was quite a turn in my making. I could make out some connection to my work from all previous parts (fragmentation, repetition, transparency, skin, words) and found that the materiality aspect in itself is quite rewarding. And it is an open subject matter to be explored further.
- As future steps, I want to explore various fabrics more. The one used for the ‘patient gown’ is jersey stretch fabric. The stretchability appeared as an important element in my work.
- The series that I will submit for assignment 5 (be small – your own STRETCH) might be explored with other colors, or perhaps with more text on it. Also the durability of Parafilm, as plastic material, is not know to me.
- Campoli Presti Gallery (2019) Christian Bonnefoi, At: https://www.campolipresti.com/artists/christian-bonnefoi/bio (Accessed 03 Aug 2019).
- Horn, R., Tuttle, R. J., Butler, C. H., Kläs, E., Tuerlinckx, J., Voigt, J., Gross, J. R., Chaffee, C., Roberts, V., Sullivan, L. L., Yale University, P. and DeCordova Sculpture Park and, M. (2015) Drawing redefined. Lincoln; New Haven; London: DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum ; distributed by Yale University Press.
- Moses, T. (2014) Tabitha Moses, At: http://www.tabithamoses.co.uk/page10.htm (Accessed 28 Oct 2018).
- SFOMA – San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (s.D.) It’s alive! Richard Tuttle creates a wire piece at SFMOMA,[At: https://www.sfmoma.org/watch/its-alive-richard-tuttle-creates-a-wire-piece-at-sfmoma/(Accessed on 20 Aug 2019).
- Tuttle, R., Petersens, M. and Borchardt-Hume, A. (2014) Richard Tuttle – I don’t know : The Weave of Textile Language. London: Whitechapel, Tate.
- The University of Cambridge (1566) ‘Juan Valverde de Amusco (ca. 1525–ca. 1588), Vivae imagines partium corporis humani aereis formis expressae. Book 2, plate 1’, in Juan Valverde de Amusco (ca. 1525–ca. 1588), V. i. p. c. h. a. f. e. B., plate 1, ed., Antwerp: Christopher Plantin, print.