Tuesday, 13 August 2013
Sunday, 28 July 2013
|Original photo taken Newmarket September 2012|
|One of my colour studies - not sure why no feet|
|Trying to abstract a bit using monotone oil on board|
|Drawing again from memory - feet reappearing|
|Abstracting further and making a new picture - just the start here|
Friday, 12 July 2013
Studying from life is one thing, and a very valuable one. But making the leap from that to something deeper and more energetic is something else. I am not suggesting that versions (4) and (5) are successful, but they do tap into a different sort of energy, they "unlock" a deeper source. I work very intuitively with the equestrian drawings, and find it hard to work out what I am doing and why some things work. I caught myself in the process here.
|1. Page from Muybridge photographs|
|2. My drawing/study - quite free|
|3. Getting looser but still very related to original photo|
|4. A leap to something different and more expressive - working on cloth|
|5. Similar to 4|
Sunday, 24 March 2013
|Marilene Oliver Scan sculpture of "real person"|
|Marilene Oliver A Melanix sculpture??|
In her talk Marilene Oliver spoke mainly about the pieces on show, with emphasis on the MRI technology. I would like to have heard her speak more about her general interest in digital technology and its relations to us. In the catalogue she says that her original aim was to reclaim the body from the “medical and digital gaze” and retain human and embodied relationships. At that stage she was working with clear and transparent materials, using screen printing and laser cutting. The scans were of real people that she knew (her family) - “to offer a life-size, real- time encounter with digital copies of human body”.
In 2007 she started to work with a programme called Melanix. This digital programme represents an anonymous body, in this case (like the artist) a woman, white, female, under forty. It is a kind of mri scan which could be “reformed and rematerialised to suit Oliver’s changing ideas and impressions”. Flesh can be virtually removed to expose bone and vein. She uses the term “Virtual leakage” – mixing the digital and the real in her sculptural objects, all created on the computer.
But as an artist “who works to challenge Post Humanism”, Oliver embellished her sculptures with embodied techniques such as beading and weaving to “embody” the materialisations of Melanix. She has recently been living in Brazil, and spoke about the way of life there. There is so much material there available as decoration (the carnival culture), so much focus on using the body for display and as means of expression. There are scanning shops on every corner in Rio, for example, and readily available plastic surgery to improve image and shape.
Now living in Angola, Oliver is rethinking the significance and symbolism of the scanning technology, as this is rarely available in sub-Saharan Africa. She is now using the Melanix model in the cultural context of Angolan values., Her work for the Edinburgh exhibition is a series of etchings showing the Melanix figure wearing elaborate hair braids or being bitten by a giant mosquito, for example.
I found the work at this exhibition quite disturbing. In spite of the rational technology, Oliver explores dark and primitive holes of mind and body, the most basic level of our existence and identity. But at the same time (perhaps this is not a contradiction) she is exploring very contemporary and artificial media, using digital technology to explore the human body, and to how we relate to new media. She quotes Hans Moravec on how we need to “download our consciousness to the datascape in order to survive”. Her work opens up many interesting questions and links to the subject of our relationship to the digital.
Steve Nichols Post Human Manifesto
Pepperell's The Posthuman Condition
Hayles's How We Became Posthuman
Monday, 11 March 2013
Friday, 8 March 2013
|Ivory carved pieces from the Ice Age exhibition|
This exhibition, "Ice Age Art - arrival of the modern mind" at the British Museum, London, is a most exciting and satisfying event . Most of the pieces on display are very small, probably made to be easily portable in the nomadic times (20,000 to 40,000 years ago) when they were made. They are mainly carvings from or incising in mammoth tusk. Many of them are now partially destroyed and the original smoothness of the tusk has cracked into a yellow and textured appearance, which gives them a rugged yet delicate look. For such small sculptures these works have amazing power.
The exhibition has been very well curated and themed. One of the main points made was the similarity between ourselves and our ancestors from those times, who obviously also had the ability to transcend their lives through imagination and art. In fact I experienced a great sense of recognition in the simplicity and strength of the work. Many of the pieces reflect the importance of prey animals in the lives of Ice Age peoples, not only as a means of sustenance, but as a link to the spiritual world. The pieces would symbolize this link, and like so many works in the British Museum, they retain an immense charisma.
Many of the statuettes were symbolic figures of women, with exaggerated breasts, stomachs and genitalia. It is even suggested that, from the angle of the carving, they could have been self portraits. The function of these statuettes can only be guessed at. One small model is obviously the portrait of an individual woman, with a damaged or blind eye. Over many thousands of years the female statuettes gradually became much more abstract, just a slender silhouette with a hint of breasts and buttocks.
Several pieces (purpose unknown?) are decorated with abstract patterns. Rather than these patterns having aesthetic or formal value, it is suggested that they have a social and spiritual meaning. We are so blinded by formalism that it is refreshing to think of pattern in this way.
A reference to neuroscientist, Semir Zeki, indicates s that visual perception is a much more ancient sense than the use of language. Zeki's experiments famously show that a particular area of the brain lights up (and we therefore experience pleasure) when we see something beautiful. I think my brain must have been fizzling all the way around this exhibition! Wonderful.
Here is a link to an article about a visit to the exhibition by Kathleen Jamie
Saturday, 2 March 2013
|Igor Benca and translator at Edinburgh Print Studio 2nd March 2013|
Artist Talk by Karol Felix and Monoprint demonstration by Igor Benca
Edinburgh Print Studio 2nd March 2013
Today I had the privilege of hearing a group of Slovakian printmakers from Bratislava speak about their work and their thoughts. I was particularly impressed by their thoughtful and careful approach and by their extreme skill, as well as their different experiences. One remark by Karol Felix that stays in my mind concerned his influence on his students. He said that good students are independent and thrive in the environment of the art school, whereas the weaker students are less sure of themselves and become overly influenced by their teachers. I would not have described "good" and "bad" students in this way, it is a little harsh. The weaker ones are just less confident and at a different stage of their learning. But it was interesting to hear the professor's comments.
The picture shows Igor Benca in the process of demonstrating his monoprinting technique in the studio at Edinburgh Printmakers. He had cut an elaborate shape from a plastic material, he then inked this in two colours, and took an offset print of this - meaning that the shape transferred exactly onto the big roller and when rolled onto the paper the shape emerged.
Wednesday, 27 February 2013
I have to put this onto my blog. I heard about this Venezulean artist, Saras Feijoo, via the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, where I am currently doing an evening class. Hers is an inspiring, lively and courageous story. She has travelled widely and is now living and working in Edinburgh.
I like the quote on her home page: ‘Surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, to where no one can go any further’. (Rainer M Rilke)
Thursday, 21 February 2013
|Rudolf Steiner Blackboard drawing|
"Beuys believed everybody was an artist, he once said “every sphere of human activity, even peeling a potato can be a work of art as long as it is a conscious act.” The idea being that every decision you make should be thought out and attempt to make or contribute to a work of art which in the end is society. Individuality and well educated decisions are promoted in the person while the government is made of those decisions put into referendums. This point of view invites followers to humble themselves by realizing that they are an important part of a whole not only an individual."
I have a long way to go before I grasp more fully what Beuys, and for that matter Steiner were saying, but I have begun to understand it intuitively through my work on the litho stone, which is currently linking techniques of print making with my experience of and passion for textiles..
Monday, 18 February 2013
|Working drawing by Masae Bamba|
|Diana Hand's interpretation on lithographic stone|
I like the fact that it is a diagram and an attempt to work out a practical method of, in this case, stitching cloth. I am interested in these kind of images after my reading of Christopher Alexander and his "constructive diagrams" (see my new blog "Thinking it". for more on this)
Sunday, 17 February 2013
Two years ago I did an excellent screen printing course with Joanna (click to see her website), at her workshop in Glasgow. Highly recommended for her great care, knowledge and skill, and also her complete dedication. I was very thrilled to see that the work I did that week had been included in her brochure.
Saturday, 12 January 2013
This weekend I am at Leith School of Art in Edinburgh to learn more about oil painting. Last minute decision to take this opportunity. Today we just worked in tone, using "black" (ultramarine x burnt sienna) and titanium white on coated cartridge. Above are my results. A lot of useful information and I like working in tone only, with emphasis on pattern and texture. It is akin to my work in printmaking. Tomorrow we work in colour.