Investigations – FMP

This is the page for all the reading, watching, listening, visiting and any other investigations in preparation for my Final Major Project. Full references can be found here:

My work in progress page can be seen here:

Tuesday 28th May

Stephen Harlan

Whilst in St. Petersburg in Florida, we saw some work by the American artist Stephen Harlan.  His digital method of work is not photography based, but created entirely in his mind. This work was of interest to me because of the material it was printed on – aluminium. Initially I thought it was back lit because of its vibrant colours. The artist says that the pictures work best in natural light. Since seeing his work I have looked into aluminium printing and have contacted Genesis Imaging who are going to look at one of my images to asses its suitability.

Morean Arts Centre, St. Petersburg, Florida

This arts centre is currently exhibiting local work from emerging artists. Again, the interest for me was more about the curation than the work itself. It was an open white wall space with walk – around walls separating the large space into smaller ones.  I found that the images displayed of one student were all very similar – and whilst individually they were interesting, collectively I found them uninspiring.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh House

I contacted the curator of the above Georgian house  (also known as 78 Derngate)  to enquire about the possibility of exhibiting my work there, sometime after the exhibition at the theatre. No.78 had its interior designed by the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1916-17.  He is also said to have designed its rear extension. As it is in the same cultural quarter of Northampton as the Derngate Theatre, and relevant to my work because of its modernist design, it’s an ideal place to show my work.

The reply I received was very promising – although the two exhibition spaces are fully booked for another year, there is the possibility of them showing some of my images in a different space – I have to contact them to discuss the potential of this.

PAW gallery exhibition in 2020

Very excitingly, I have secured exhibition space in St. Petersburg, Florida next year to show my work Hub. It is a busy dog-friendly ale works (Pinellas Ale Works), the bar area is large with lots of wall space to exhibit. My images will be the only work on show, September to November 2020.  The curator of the gallery liked my work and has suggested that I also do a talk about the connections between music and art. There are opportunities to sell my work there. I have plenty of time to work out the logistics of this!

Shirana Shahbazi

Shahbazi, an Iranian artist,  photographs brightly coloured objects, working with shape and colour. What also interests me is that when displayed, she alternates her images between abstract and reality, mixing genres. They are in a different order each time they are shown creating an aleatoric (chance) element.

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 Fig 10: Shahbazi. 2011. Composition-22-2-11. Chromogenic colour print.

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In the image above (WiP11)  I have drawn lines to pinpoint similarities to form with fig.10. This highlights the trajectory of the eye across the image. Furthermore, both images have colours that have been created by the overlay of different tones. That aside, the images have little in common.

April 27th 2019

Alexander Calder

Jessica Eaton

Christian Marclay

Sara Van der Beek

Hannah Hoch and Dada

I explored Hoch’s work in previous modules but sadly my CRJ was lacking in this respect!

Photomontage, cut from mass media. German Dada movement. Social commentary.  Surrealist tendencies. Later works more simplified. She was a friend of Moholy-Naguy.

 

Hoch dada

Fig. 9. Höch. 1922. Dada. Collage

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Fig 10: Höch. 1922. Poesie. Collage with ink

The above image reminds me of the colour and form of my WiP#2, which I now plan to name after this piece.

Kazimir Malevich

After experimenting with many different art styles, Malavich came to alogism around 1912-13. Alogism is a theory which embraces the absurd or irrational. In this image the cow is placed as equal importance to the violin, which was ‘beloved of the Parisian Cubists…using mutually incompatible scales…’ (Néret, p.38)

Malevich cow&violin

fig 8: Malevich. 1912-13. Cow and Violin. Oil on Canvas

Naturally this interests me, the fusion of music with unmusical objects; the fascination with shape and form seen here in the background, and the incompatible size of the cow and violin. In my own work, musical instruments are not to scale, their function is to add musicality, shape and movement to the images (see particularly WiP 1 (cello), 3 (viola), 4 (french horn), 6 (flute), 10 (oboe), 11 (cello and violin), 12 (cello).  Less obvious is WiP 5 which uses mainly parts of percussion instruments. It’s apparent that stringed instruments are included more often than other families of instruments; predominantly because of the musicality of their structure – their head looking rather like a treble clef, at times personified.

Sara Davidmann, Sophie Callé and Gerald Durrell: returning to previous investigations

A suggestion from our Module Leader was to look at the work of Sara Davidmann and Sophie Callé. I looked at the work of these two practitioners during Sustainable Prospects, and so have re-looked at what I wrote then.

Davidmann’s work was in mind as I photographed archival material at NMPAT recently, particularly her bundles of letters in Ken to be Destroyed. I also looked at My Mother’s Notebooks, and how these were photographed. With these, I particularly liked how some of the objects were placed on what appears to be a pink candlewick bedspread (I had one just like that as a child); it places the ‘then’ into the ‘now’, and brings objects which have no connection with us, as the viewer, into familiarity.  This collection also reminded me of the Durrell collection I saw at Jersey Zoo last year, where Gerald Durrell’s mother’s recipe books and other memorabilia had been photographed. This was a huge inspiration to me. Here is where I wrote about the Durrell archives: Durrell

I’ve always been fascinated by Callé’s work, particularly her audacity to photograph other, unknown people’s personal belongings so furtively! Oh, to have the courage to do that – even recently whilst photographing NMPAT’s archives I was so careful not to include anything I shouldn’t!

Rather than re-post my original articles, here is a link to them: Davidmann and Callé

Masters and Mistresses of the Bauhaus

As time goes on during this module I look ever increasingly to the work of the Bauhaus masters and students. Below are notes from my more recent learning.

Johannes Itten

Itten was associated with Alma Mahler, Alban Berg and Arnold Schönberg, so musical influences abound his work. His ‘Bach Singer’ (1916) refer to anologues between music and art. He also shared a studio with montage artist Kurt Schwitters.

This is a screenshot taken from Masterworks: the Meeting; a documentary about Johannes Itten (black frame not part of the work). Full reference can be found here:

This was of particular interest to me as its title is ‘Spring’. The reason for my interest is the respresentation of spring (pastoral, new growth, life, nature) with these greens – both dark and light, rich and pale, yellowy too. This further gives credibility to my WiP#6 with its green background.

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fig 5: Itten. c.1965 Spring

Itten was fascinated by the continuous movement of dark to light through colours of the spectrum, with shapes and colours representing the union of opposites. He worked with pure line and colour, in order to not have to portray reality, and was fascinated by the balance between colours. Itten was interested in music, trying to see beyond colours and shapes in the same way that composers looked past notes. In his work there is a recurrence of motifs over time, including horizontal and vertical shapes and lines in the background, and spirals.

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fig 6: Itten, 1916. The Meeting. Oil on Canvas

The screenshot above was of interest to me because of the way the colours fold into each other. The documentary (see above) describes how this is a meeting of two wheels, each going in opposite directions. To further investigate Itten’s use of colour I have tried to access his colour wheel – this has proved so far impossible as online it costs in the region of £400. It is in the Falmouth library but isn’t suitable for scanning. Other books are scant, there is one released at the end of May but this may be a little late for me as I plan to have my images mainly finished by then.  However, being fascinated by the above painting I hope that its influence can be seen in my WiP#12b.

Itten also constructed photomontages, which were of a larger scale than those of the Dada artists. He used found images in his work. Incidentally, thinking about the word montage, a monteur is the French word for a machinest or labourer – clearly relevant to the Bauhaus where there was an emphasis on construction, where art, craft was produced alongside each other and use of machinery prevalent.

Marianne Brandt

Brandt was Moholy-Nagy’s student. Although most well-known for her metal work, she also produced photomontages. Initially she used press (magazine) cuttings to make political and social statements. She challenged gender stereotypes, and her work can be considered to bridge between Dada and Constructivism. (Dada being fragmentory whilst Constructivism was more ordered and structured).

me literally means the metal workshop at the Bauhaus:

Brandt ME11

fig. 7 Brandt. 1928. me ii. photocollage.

This work, above, by Brandt was one of two images she created to represent the Bauhaus as it’s director left the establishment in 1928.  Included in this image are the figures of Maholy-Nagy, and Brandt herself (leaning into a metal lampshade of her own design). Towards the top right can be seen the glass wall of the Bauhaus building, some of them would have been where the metal workshop was.

I can discerne direct links to my own work here; particularly in the way the building is introduced into the montage, bringing the outside into the image itself. In many of my pieces the windows, or fragments of the interior and exterior of the building can be seen as part of the montage.

Secondly, my introduction of a tin can in WiP12b (photographed in the percussion store room) was a debatable choice – as it could be seen at odds with the subject matter of its surroundings (who might recognise that this tin can had been used for percussion?). I had been contemplating its removal – but having since seen this montage of Brandt’s and the similarity of pattern, material and shape, I have decided to leave it in.

April 23rd 2019

Wine Doors of Florence Exhibition 

Yesterday I travelled to Oxfordshire to see fellow student Andrew Barrow’s exhibition: Wine Doors of Florence. The primary reason for going was to support Andrew (taking photos, providing coffee and packing away at the end of the afternoon); but of course it also provided me with another opportunity to examine a different style of exhibiting – as this was in a deconsecrated church.  The prints were mounted on board, with no glass frame, and presented on small dark-wood easels at the end of pews and at the altar. This method was at ease with its surroundings and allowed the viewer to gaze whilst either standing or sitting, walking down the aisle and up to the altar.

Andrew Barrow’s ‘Wine Doors of Florence’ at St. Peter’s Church, Wallingford

Two A4 posters outside the church announced the exhibition, and impressively there was a table with take-away postcards, information about the work (and how to purchase), a newspaper article about the work, a comments sheet (filled in by some of the 100 or so visitors), a vase of red tulips; and – for Easter Sunday – a dish full of brightly coloured chocolate eggs. Just to the right was a stand with more detailed information on the work.

The biggest pieces of the exhibition were saved for the altar area – these looked impressive from a distance, but close up it was remarkable just how much texture could be seen in the images. The two largest pieces were on a lecturn and a prayer stool. Just to the left was a large vase of white flowers.

This show was in a very different setting to the two others I had seen over the Easter break – and felt just right for the theme.

April 12th

Today, Google marked the centenary of the Bauhaus movement in Germany with its Google Doodle. I made a screen recording below:

Clicking on Google’s green square with the magnifying glass led to links about the Bauhaus including articles in the Independent and iNews (online). Full details may be found in my references page.

Two Exhibition visits

On the evening of Thursday April 11th I travelled to London to see the opening of two exhibitions: firstly to the Velrose Gallery where online tutor Stella Baraklianou had work shown; and then to The Four Corners Gallery to see fellow student Ant Prothero’s FMP exhibition Ipseity. In both cases ( as well as seeing the work!) I was interested on a practical level to see how the gallery spaces was used. The Velrose Gallery was small, with pieces visible immediately on entry through the outside door. Not having a white space was unusual but worked really well in this setting as most of the work here was vibrant and chromatic, and their placement on the various colours of the walls was clearly carefully considered. The walls were well-covered, with art, photography and sculptures from the 20th and 21st centuries sitting alongside one another. Colours running through the pieces formed links between them (‘themes’ would be too strong a word). Being a private collection they came in many different sizes and frames. Unfortunately I was unable to stay for too long; the owner and curator was interesting to listen to as he recounted stories about particular images.

Selection of works at the Velrose Gallery

The Four Corners Gallery was a white walled space, and a fewer number of pieces was exhibited.  They were uniform in muted black frames which worked well with a majority of the images being in black and white. There were some softer pink hues in a couple which were complimented with the dusty pink armchair in the corner (where the audience could sit and listen to an audio recording). There were also a couple of larger eye-catching images that were distorted through RGB – I would be interested to discover the reasoning behind those effects. Just around the corner there was a looped video recording of the photographer’s grandparents’ wedding – which tied into the photographed artefacts which came from his grandmother’s memorabilia cabinet. The large display case in the centre was certainly a focal point with the large colour image inside it  full of detail. This was my favourite piece although I was not able to look at it in as much detail as I wanted to due to the fact that it also became a place for the audience to gather and chat. The way the exhibition was presented was clean, professional and engaging; with a variety of print methods and media.

Ant Prothero’s ‘Ipseity’ at the Four Corners Gallery

17th March 2019

Face to Face 2019 at Falmouth

Commitments at home meant that I wasn’t able to get to Falmouth this year. Instead, as the Saturday Symposium got underway I visited a recent graduate of the MA programme . Catching up and seeing her work properly at last was fabulous and gave me lots of think about as I mentally prepare for what will be my final exhibition. She showed me the different materials she had had her images printed on – even though I recently experimented with printing on gliceé, I hadn’t really appreciated just what a huge difference it makes – especially as she carefully explained to me the reasons for her choices. Also seeing some of the work exhibited in her own home helped me to appreciate the value of the work we make – I can be a bit flippant about mine and realise I should have more pride in what I do. We have agreed that one weekend soon we will visit the Charles Rennie Macintosh house in Northampton – of special interest to me as I have been investigating the period of the Bauhaus and its association with architecture too.

During the weekend I watched several live lectures and talks at Falmouth; and have since watched the rest via the Canvas recordings. It was good to be able to see some of the MA lecturer’s talk about their own work – Michelle Sank and Paul Clements gave talks that were based on their own life experiences; the way they shared such intimacies was incredibly touching and was so important for us to see how personal stories feed and inform their work. I also watched with great interest the talk from Charlotte Cotton – fascinated as I am by ‘Photography is Magic’, having being introduced to her book ‘Photography as Contemporary Art’ early on in the MA. I’ll write about her lecture at a later date.

Also I watched the small group of MA students deliver their own Pecha Kucha presentations. Unfortunately the sound was fairly poor for these but I managed to get the gist of them.

Although I was sorry not to be able to get to the F2F and take advantage of workshops and meet the lecturers in person;  I was pleased to be able to do the next best thing by watching it online.

10th March 2019

Concerning the Spiritual in Art – Wassily Kandinsky

This book is of particular interest because of Kandinsky’s work with colour and shape. These points are of major interest to me,  and relevant to my work.  Many of my images are concerned with reds and blues, as the photographs I took to use as background colour were often these hues. Now I find myself wondering if they were the predominant colour, or whether they caught my eye most strongly, and without realising it.

Kandinsky writes about the first and second reactions experienced when looking at a painting. The first impression is a ‘purely physical’ one; whereby the eye is either ‘warmed or soothed and cooled.’ These impressions are short lived.

‘A first encounter with any new phenomenon exercises immediately an impression on the soul’. (p23)

‘The eye is strongly attracted by light, clear colours, and still more by those that are warm as well as clear.’ p24.

The second impression of looking at a painting is ‘psychic’, producing a ‘corresponding spiritual vibration’, and ‘a warm red will prove exciting’; ‘another shade of red will cause pain or disgust through association with running blood’. p24

Kandinsky also reflects on the taste of colours, scented colours, and the sound of colours, noting that ‘It would be hard to find anyone who would try to express bright yellow in the bass notes’. p25

‘Colour is a power which directly influences the soul. Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul’. p25

Of particular interest is his discussions around form and colour, and that form (the line) can exist without colour, but not vice versa. ‘Form, in the narrow sense, is nothing but the separating line between surfaces of colour’. p29

‘A yellow triangle, a blue circle, a green square, or a green triangle, a yellow circle, a blue square – all these are different and have different spiritual values’, says Kandinsky p29. He goes on to say that ‘Keen colours are well suited by sharp forms (eg a yellow triangle), and soft, deep colours by round forms (eg a blue circle). But it must be remembered that an unsuitable combination of form and colour is not necessarily discordant, but may, with manipulation, show the way to fresh possibilities of harmony.’ p29

Writing about colour in detail, he notes ‘Two great divisions of colour occur to the mind at the outset: into warm and cold, and into light and dark. To each colour there are therefore four shades of appeal – warm and light or warm and dark, or cold and light or cold and dark’ p36.

‘Generally speaking, warmth or cold in a colour means an approach respectively to yellow or to blue’ p36.

Yellow has a disturbing influence, and reveals…an insistent, aggressive character’. He goes on to note that both sour lemons and shrill canaries are yellow. p37.

By equally mixing yellow with blue it becomes ‘sickly’, paralleled to ‘violent raving lunacy’; however (a different shade of) green is the most restful colour that exists…pictures that are painted in shades of green are passive and tend to be wearisome…this contrasts with the active warmth of yellow or the active coolness of blue’ p38.

Blue is ‘heavenly’, creating a feeling of supernatural rest. p38

On pages 40-41 Kandinsky writes about red in depth:

  • ‘The unbounded warmth of red…a determined and powerful intensity. It glows in itself’
  • ‘Light warm red has a certain similarity to medium yellow, alike in texture and appeal, and gives a feeling of strength, vigour, determination, triumph. In music, it is a sound of trumpets, strong, harsh, and ringing.’
  • ‘Vermilion is a red with a feeling of sharpness, like glowing steel which can be cooled by water’
  • ‘(Vermilion and light warm red) are more beloved than yellow, they reach out less to the spectator than yellow’
  • Cool red can be deepened…by an intermixture of azure…the character of the colour changes as inward glow increases’
  • He compares the sad, middle tones of the cello to a deepened red; and a cold, light red to the singing notes of a violin.

Finally, Kandinsky talks about ‘leitmotiven’ in composition (p33) but does not explain what he means by this word; but I draw an analogy with leitmotif in music, with themes running throughout which are linked to character, theme or mood.

NB – more can be read about Kandinsky’s writings on colour, on the entry on March 17th on my Work in Progress for FMP page,  here:

5th March 2019

A touch of Stockhausen 

Having presented my work to date in my first group critique of the series, my tutor suggested that I watched this work.

A place where a mainly arts audience can mingle in a huge space and find themselves in an immersive musical experience – this is what visitors to the Tate Modern found themselves when three orchestras performed Stockhausen’s Gruppen. Conducted by three composers including Sir Simon Rattle, each orchestra was on a different platform spaced around the Turbine Hall. Although the conductors could see each other, the orchestra members could not hear the full effect of the music – in fact only visitors who were standing in the centre of the space could. This work was really where Art and Music collided to produce a unique performance just as Stockhausen intended.

Can I take anything from this when considering how my final project will be presented? Having made the decision to include audio, my intention is to record sounds at the NMPAT building (footsteps, voices etc but no music); as well as current and previous peripatetic teaching staff reading extracts from the archives. This material will then be edited (chopped up and rearranged in a similar fashion to my collage work) using software such as either GarageBand or Logic Pro.

Once the audio is complete I envisage it playing on a loop in the same space as my abstract images; thus creating more of an immersive experience for the audience, and truly combining Music with Visual Art, as is the intention within the images themselves.

Still a major consideration for me is how to print / frame / not frame my work – something that we briefly discussed in the critique but a decision feels a long way off.

Mary Martin

Five minutes after posting the picture below on Instagram last night, figure 2 popped up on my feed, posted by Tate Modern:

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my IG image 

           IMG_7089

 Fig 2: Martin, 1969. Perspex Group on Orange (B)

This is very interesting. Mary Martin working  in 1969 on this image, the same year that NMPAT was formed. Now fifty years later I’m working on a piece with striking similarities regarding colour and form but not materials.  I need to research her work quickly!

2nd March 2019

Guest lecture 1/3/19:  Gary McLeod

In this lecture Gary introduced us to the beginnings of his creative work, dating as far back as his primary school days when his class teacher noted in his end of year report that he had an aptitude for the arts; but could improve his group work.

Traces of his early work dating back to his teenage years is clearly visible in his current practice; and it’s clear that he was experimenting with different methods of photography before they became ‘mainstream’ (such as taking screenshots from a TV screen and manipulating the images before it was possible to do so easily with a cell phone).

During his time at Art School in the late 1990s he worked with conceptual ideas  (he produced “portraits of classmates” in 1997 aged 16 which was un effect a series of photographs of film stars he’d seen in the many films he was watching every week).

Always looking for new ways to present his work; after photographing the many sets of traffic lights where he lived in Osaka, Japan, at this time; he devised an interactive chess game whereby the players only got to move their pieces when the lights changed colour.

Also whilst living in Osaka Gary videoed more than 200 escalators. Having thought he had moved away from photography towards video work, to his surprise, his tutor told him that his video work was very photographic…and his MA came out of that.  He describes his way of working as ‘collecting’.

The work “HMS Challenger” spanned ten years up to 2016 and formed the basis of Gary’s PhD and was, fundamentally about rephotography and the Japanese landscape.

Another change was from working on his own to pursuing a more collaborative approach, enabling others to become involved in his projects.

The third change at that time that Gary spoke of was in his use of equipment – he’d been taught to work with both anologue and digital; now he was placing an antique lens on a modern camera, way ahead of it being a trend.

When working on his PhD, Gary realised that he would have to visit again the sites of his rephotography, and still tries to visit every few years where possible.

During the PhD Gary designed a website which enabled participants to contribute globally; this became a major element of his work as he explored how this concept could be helpful to other people.

Creating workshops around photography, Gary not only shared his expertise but learned from the experience too. After these workshops all photographs taken were shared with all participants, it was important to him to ensure that nobody was taken advantage of or treated unfairly.

In the not very distant past, after exhibitions in 2015/6, Gary realised that his rephotography work was running into limited time, some exhibitions had insisted on the work being framed which to him took away from the intent of the work.

Another  focus of Gary’s work has been his Educational Portraits, this is still ongoing. After completing his MA, he taught English in Japan and after a while tried to understand what he was doing in his day job through the medium of photography. His photography and audio records of 96 English teachers in Japan over a year was labelled a Post Colonial project.  This work enabled him to move on from his work as an English teacher, and he travelled back to the UK and visited several other countries, including Turkey.

Gary said that his work is “learning through doing”.

Teaching at a  University in Tokyo, Gary did not like the way attendance was treated (poor attendance by students, recorded in what he saw as archaic methods). To combat this he started to take weekly group photos of his class, bringing the printed image to class the following week for the students to sign. He still works in this way.

The ‘His and Mine’ project started in 2018, and Gary sees it as a project that will never be finished. Describing it as simultaneously going in the opposite direction, and an extension of his usual practice, it started with weekend walks with his two year old son, which developed into photography outings as both of them recorded on a camera things / places of interest. As time went on, he noticed that his son saw things differently to himself (Gary was also seeing things differently, out of a need to be more aware of the immediate risks around him to keep his son safe, such as traffic).

The pair would go on the same walk each time, and rephotograph the places that they saw. Perhaps the most photographed is a yellow blob on the pavement, often captured with their feet on it. Gary notes that over time this blob is disintegrating so he plans to build a 3D model of it.

As records, Gary produces zines, which he keeps with him as he travels. Some of the work can be seen as series – pairs of his and his son’s work, photos of his son’s dirty hands, sets of fingers on lenses (taken by his son).  There is lots of repetition.

He is very interested in time and the representation of time, and in what physicists say on the matter; and is adamant that photography is a way to get to know a place.

No longer being interested in having exhibitions, Gary is more interested in how the work is arrived at – the journey – than the end result.

2nd March 2019

Having downloaded a few articles from Falmouth One Stop Library, and afterwards realising that it allowed only one week to read them, I got a move on. The following is a series of notes I made, points I see as pertinent to my project and to further consider are emphasised in this colour.

Theories of Modern Art (from Impressionism to Kandinsky) by Moshe Barasch

“The impact of science on the visual arts is encountered and can be seen on two different levels. We can speak of a direct and an indirect impact of science on art.” (p. 232)

At the turn of the century, people spoke of the ‘dissolution of the atom’; which was really about the scientific discovery that all matter could be dissolved. This, alongside the discovery of radiation created a reaction amongst non-scientists –  p.235 mentions an ‘apocalyptic doom’. Spiritual and occult movements  started as a reaction. (Occultism is the ‘belief in and study of those hidden forces in nature and in the cosmos that supposedly cannot be reached by regular human reason and particularly by science, p.235). Its unscientific basis attracted many artists, who believed that true reality (hard matter) was spiritual.

There came about psychological vs. spiritual, with the psychological referring to the individual and their experiences, and the spiritual seen as more objective.

Artists that became the founders of abstract art were interested directly in the occult movements. Kandisnky was also familiar with religion.

Abstract art was not about anything represented in the picture. It is an object in itself which belongs to the world outside the picture.

Kandisnky critised the view that art’s main purpose is the representation of material objects that can be experienced in nature. He thought that the content of the painting was so important. He saw the main function of art as conveying ‘something’ to the spectator. Abstraction was the rejection of the object in painting – there was another type of subject matter – the ‘inner nature’, or spiritual (p.245).

The article discusses Kandinsky’s writings in ‘On the Spiritual in Art’. I do have this book and will therefore be able to reference it as a primary source. For now, though, the page numbers here refer to Barasch’s article.

Kandinsky explains what he sees as the mystery of colours and the effect they have on the spectator (p.251). He describes three levels of colour:

  1. A purely physical effect (superficial, fleeting, with no lasting effect).
  2. Psychological. A more profound effect, an emotional responser. Colour is powerful.
  3. Colour therapy (its therapeutic effect). Kandinsky learned about the specific effects colour can have on the heart and nervous system etc. In some cases of a ‘disturbed balance and harmony in the organism, a proper equilibrium could be reestablished by providing the missing colours (p.253). (Update 8/5/19; I caught the end of a discussion on radio 4 this afternoon about the effect of colour on mood and behaviour and need to find this programme so I can listen to all of it),

Kandinsky and other artists were influenced by the history of colour theory, and by Goethe and his colour doctrine.

A major point in Kandinsky’s writings is the ‘rivalry’ between form and colour. In early art, the line was considered to be the most important as it could be representational in a way that colour without line cannot be (p.253).

Now, Kandinsky and other abstract artists had a stronger emphasis on colour. It is furthest removed from the representation of objects, figures and external reality. (p254-5). Because there was at this time less importance attached to representing the outside world (going back to the earlier points regarding scientific break-throughs destabilising the modern thinking of artists), colour could become as important as line. Colour was more able to represent mood and feeling.

Kandinsky wrote about the ‘inner character of colour’, ie its power to evoke a mood. ‘…a way of sensing the inner hidden reality behind the tangible objects we perceived in everyday experience’ and that ‘colour is a means of exerting direct influence upon the soul’ (p255).

He goes on to say ‘Since in general the soul is closely connected to the body, it is possible that one emotional response may conjure up another, corresponding form of emotion by means of association. For example the colour red may cause a spiritual vibration like flame, since red is the colour of flame’ (p256).

Interestingly, Kandinsky also draws parallels between colour and sound, and spoke about ‘the scent of colours’. In Spiritual in Art he attributes four main sounds for every colour (p258). These sounds are:

Balanced/combinations / varieties / contrasts / dissonances.

He also talks about the use of leitmotif, and believed that painting should imitate music, and that in its most abstract form painting could match its spirituality. In the spiritual world of abstract painters, colours were seen in two ways – as ‘hues’ and as ‘harmonies’. Each colour has its own individual character which was conveyed to the spectator –  each colour had its own ‘internal psychological sound’ (p261).

Speaking of warmth or coldness of particular colours and its light or darkness, examples of his interpretation of colours are as follows:

White = purity; red = love; black = sadness; yellow = light; blue = cold.

21st February 2019

The past few weeks have been busy for me as I have been preparing my Final Major Project proposal for submission, and shooting lots too. In amongst all that I have managed to do some reading, but only just found the time to write it up here.

Guest lecture 20/2/19: Stella Baraklinou

Twice in one week, a guest lecture that I was able to attend! Stella is my online tutor for this module so I really wanted to hear more about her own work!

Stella introduced escapism, fantasy, installation/experimentation, and utopia as main themes within her work. Much of these have come about because of the extensive inter-continental travelling she’s done.

Working with reflective materials, cool silver and warm gold are recurring themes; which she developed during her prestigious residency at the Banff Arts Centre in Canada, 2016.

She has worked with installations (such as ‘Let down your Hair’) 2010, working hard to overcome technical obstacles and find solutions.

Baraklinou also has publications which include a chapter in Bergson and the art of immanence (2013), Pixel, and the moiré effect.

She has connections with Charlotte Cotton, and was involved in her 2016 show Photography is Magic, which followed the book of the same title.

Experimental photography techniques, photograms, play with light and sculpture, analogue, digital (use of layers and abstraction) are all elements she includes. In 2016-7 she self published three short books (Container 1, 11, 11), which were hand-sewn. The first was printed at Banff.

Her use of reflective surfaces continued with ‘Sunlounger” (2017) in which she weaved gold and silver materials.

This lecture was inspiring; seeing how Stella’s practice evolved from her 2007 PhD (Photographing the Landscape of Memory) and its investigations into memory/psychoanalysis, art theory and history, and creative processes; into the multi dimensional creative practices she works with today.

Guest lecture 19/2/19: Chris Coekin

I was able to watch a guest lecture live as it happened during the evening, and as this practitioner uses ephemera, archives and audio, it was particularly pertinent to my own work and therefore important for me to take part.

Chris is from a working class background in Leicester, now lives in LA.  Working for 25-30 years as a practitioner, he sees much of his work as collaborative, and multi-layered both visually and contextually. He took a Media degree initially then did a Masters in Photography later. His work is centred around his own experiences with pop art / folk art / music and working class backgrounds.

Coekin works with triptychs, examples are Blind Vision and the Hitcher. Much of his work is staged – he observes, plans and finally stages. These works often span many years. 

Autobiographical and documentary are words used by Coekin to describe his work; although he contradicts this by saying the work isn’t really about himself). He has been known to buy items of ephemera from online auctions to use in his practice; something which I also did in my projects for Surfaces and Strategies and Sustainable Prospects, so this was of interest to me. (This time though, I’ll be using archival materials that are found on site, not purchased).

Interesting was his use of equipment, on his road trip (Hitcher) he used medium format film for portraits, disposable for ‘landscapes’ (often the road, his feet etc), and instamatic for self portraits.

For him, and being interested in typography, the process of making a book is very important. Chris suggested that we looked at the ‘why not’ designer books at http://www.juliangermain.com

In one of his later projects, Coekin uses audio, recorded from the sound of machinery in a disused factory; and in ‘The Distance is Always Other’, a collaboration with Noel Nasr used rephotography as its methodology.

http://www.walkoutbooks.com

http://www.chriscoekin.com

IG: chris.coekin

Finding out about data protection law

Whilst planning my proposal, knowing that I would be looking through NMPAT’s archives, I looked into the new GDPR laws to see where I stood regarding archival photographs which included children. What I found was confusing and, to an extent, open to interpretation. So although not necessary to obtain permission of people who appear incidentally in the background of a shot; if images are to be published on the web then this is a ‘potential disclosure to the world at large’, and one should err on the side of caution. (www.admin.ox.ac.uk)

Another site (actnow.org.uk) suggested that photographs of a child or teacher should not be used after they leave the school, and should be destroyed. Moreover, it suggested that new permission should be sought if using old images at a later date. If using photos that were taken before the Act came into force, then common sense must be applied, considering such questions as ‘for what purpose where / when/ was the photograph originally taken?’.

Copyright lasts over 50 years; the length of time depends on the relevant Copyright Act at the time the photo was taken (see table below).

copyright table Screen Shot 2019-01-24 at 20.30.55

table taken from actnow.org

Prior to these discoveries I had already decided to base my work around object and place, but was considering the use of archival footage. These findings led me to make a decision to not include any people in this project, no matter how old the photograph as I had no wish to breach the data law, or to act unethically.

Notes on the documentary by Alan Roth Re/Collecting Memory.

This documentary is about the work of photographer Masumi Hayashi, and I was particularly interested in her thoughts on memory, collective memories, and the sharing of memories. Initially I had planned to use these concepts of memory in my project, but after talking to my tutor decided against it.

In 1942. 110,100 American Japanese were forced to go to concentration / relocation camps until 1945.  There was a shame of being imprisoned. Finding out which block she was born in, she revisited the site many years later in search of memories. Hayashi recounts other people’s memories of being incarcerated. People lost their homes, farms, livelihoods. She was born just before they were all freed. 

During the interview she talked about the “search for feeling about the site or the memory” and that even if you didn’t have your own memory, you would search for other people’s memories. 

She describes her resulting work as “remapping or reconstruction of space”

By using collage she says she goes beyond that moment of ‘truth’ and has created some fiction.

Screen Shot 2019-01-24 at 16.54.53

Fig. 1: Hayashi, 1995. Gila River Relocation Camp (panoramic photo collage with Fuji Crystal Archive prints)

The photos are supposed to give the sense of being alone, the audio that accompanies the images are supposed to represent memory.

After visiting a few sites she realised she was looking for archeology “the remnants of something’.

In 1995 1000 people returned to Gila River for a reunion. People searched for a moment, “something to place history with… something they recognise… to share with their children…people they knew”

Hayashi spoke about these experiences becoming her memory now, a collective memory, a collection of other people’s memories. Trying to make something ‘cohesive’, ‘rational’ about it.

2nd February 2019

Brief notes and quotes from The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin.

“The uniqueness of the work of art is identical with its embeddedness in the context of tradition. Tradition itself is of course something very much alive, something extraordinarily changeable”. (p.10)

“Works of art are received and appreciated with different points of emphasis…the work’s cultic value…its display value” Benjamin goes on to say that the cultic purposes mean that for cultic images, their presence is more important than the fact that they are seen. (p12).

2nd February 2019

Quotes and notes from the introduction to Art Photography Now by Susan Bright

“It goes without saying that photography can be art” (p8).

“One reason why digitalisation makes many observers uncomfortable is that it takes us away from reality and into the realms of fantasy.” (p9)

Gallery director and writer Alfred Stieglitz fought to position photography equally alongside painting. He was an advisor on what MoMA should display as photographic art. Paradoxically, photographers such as Ruscha saw photography as a function rather than as crafted objects. The postmodernist movement “asked questions about the place of images in our culture, who produces them and who reproduces them…Postmodernists considered form as the embodiment of the values of a given society, not as a …neutral carrier of carrier of meaning, as pure modernists would have it….Postmodernism impacted on art photography in vital ways. It exposed how photography was used and understood as a medium.” (p10)

Kruger and Prince, affected by postmodernist theory,  ‘appropriated images originally used in advertising and represented them in the gallery space. ‘ (p.13).

“The physical act of photographing something can in turn change its meaning.” Bright describes how in the chapter ‘Object’, featured artists deal with questions of subjectivity and objectivity…photographic truthfulness and manipulation, and what makes a photograph, and indeed, an art work. With no set style…or obvious identity, such work demonstrates the diversity of contemporary art photography…to its range of influences, from important artistic pioneers to the vernacular and the commercial. The crossovers with other artistic media such as sculpture and still-life painting are also apparent…” (p. 15)

‘Document’ is the sixth chapter in the book. Bright says that “documents have traditionally laid claim to certifiable truth…there is an escalating presence in the gallery of work dealing with issues of the document…The decline of the supposed certainties of photography – such as authenticity and veracity...” (p.16)

She talks about the changes in trend in the first decade of the twenty-first century; including photography being about the medium itself rather than its subject matter (p16).

2nd February 2019

Quotes and notes  from What is Abstraction in Photography? Diarmuid Costello

“In art theory, ‘abstract’ tends to be used as a contrast category to ‘figurative’ and means essentially non – depictive...3-D shapes unrecognisable as objects” (p4).

Clement Greenberg was a leading theorist of this way of thinking.

However, ” ‘Abstract’ and ‘figurative’ …is a distinction within representational art not a distinction between representational and non-representational art”, according to Richard Wollheim (p.6).

Kendall Walton says painting continues to mandate ‘imagined seeing’, so it’s representational art.” (p6-7).

“Limited perception of depth and spatial relations between forms, planes and lines”. (p8).

Constructed abstraction – the construction of an image from scratch : no straight recording of the world. Lopes calls it ‘lyrical photography’.  Could also be called ‘material photography’ –  turns itself inwards into the material processes and procedures of photography itself. Examples : Wolfgang Tillmans, Walead Beshty and James welling. (p25-26).

Weak abstraction records the world in such a way as to no longer give rise to a clear experience of seeing figurative content or volumentric form. Examples: Aaron Siskind, and Bert Danckaert’s Horizon series. (p23).

Strong abstraction is very similar to weak abstraction; except that it no longer gives rise to an experience, or of seeing everyday objects.

2nd February 2019

Quotes from Photography is Magic by Charlotte Cotton

“The artists featured here…are astutely aware of their viewers’ perceptions and trains of thought in ways that are grounded in our shared visual culture…there is unprecedented compatibility and transparency between viewers and artists…”  (p3).

“…ideas repeat and morph over the course of the artist’s practice.” (p5).

“The force of the global developments that affect our image / media landscape are such that the ubiquitous apparatuses and automated systems have now become constants. Increasingly, contemporary art photographers are working with the possibilities of creating variance within this visual system…they deploy destabilised practices…the systemised ‘rules’ of contemporary image – making have become the terrain that artists are using as a site of play…” (p9).

“All the artists represented in the book have an ‘immeasurable quantity of active choices‘…in a subjective and non linear fashion’… (p10)

“Non – hierarchical characteristics” (p10)

“…post – disciplinary age of art, we can begin to consider how the history of art is animated in the present in consciously deployed gestures of the ‘photographic’, ‘painterly’, and ‘sculptural’. The lexicons of these creative fields become agents of creative originality – ways of selecting, combining, and subverting visual language.” (p12).

Binding together of image and object (or image as object) is a fundamental cultural phenomenon that the artists represented here are consciously designating and navigating. This is a field in which distinctions between original and copy do not dominate and where images act as objects and vice versa, comprehended through their ongoing state of circulation and versioning.” (p13)

“Post internet art”. (p14).

“New aesthetic”. (p14)

” ‘Post-internet’ is increasingly used to describe work by artists who embed their practices in fluid versioning and scrolling information streams in our commodified systems of communication , using the same iterative processes and dynamic structuring of relations between works to the point that they become inseparable from the systems themselves.” (p17).