Post-painting

From painting the canvases for ‘Loading…’ and ‘LSTV’ I had marked a table in my house and whilst scraping it off I began making patterns and working around the different textures that I had unknowingly made. The table was covered in paint quite thick and it was possible to see the imprint of the canvas between the table and the paint, creating a piece that documents the evidence of a performance. If I ever find myself painting another large scale canvas in this repetitive process I will paint a board white to use underneath to capture these accidental marks as I was upset that I could not keep the outcomes of this piece.

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Acrylic paint on vinyl table
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Detail

I used some of my close up photographs of this removal process and the textures left behind by the paintings as backgrounds for new paintings. I experimented with painting over these colourful compositions with white to create new spaces and forms, and to possibly use for the background for line drawings. As pieces on their own I think the use of white is quite interesting for disguising or neutralizing a space, I also experimented with painting AstroTurf white in an attempt at disguising it’s materiality.

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Acrylic paint on A4 ink jet print

Scraping the paint of became easier as lumps of it formed on the sponge I was using, this created very small formations of flaky dried paint. After seeing Tetsumi Kudo’s work at Hauser & Wirth I played around with using AstroTurf as a backdrop to these abstract forms. I noticed that close up they looked like moss or even lichen, and the AstroTurf composition encouraged this comparison.

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Paint form
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Experiment on AstroTurf

Using a macro lens I photographed these forms, cropping them to look much larger than they really are. Blowing these up and printing them on A3 I arranged the images on the wall next to the paint forms. This felt quite resolved in some ways as the comparison between the 2D image that shows the details of the object in comparison to the very delicate form next to it demonstrates the objectivity of the camera. The photograph gives aesthetic insight into the object but does not give us the rational information about its size. I found this comparison visually quite successful here even though this feels rather too polite but still this piece too thinks about the natural and artificial in a new way.

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Macro experiment
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2D and 3D display

I have noticed that in a lot of my work I tend to try and use all outcomes of a process, the marks that are made elsewhere as a by product of making something always seem to interest me, and I often cannot see them as separate from the intended piece of work.

‘Loading…’ – For Gustav Metsger’s ‘Remember Nature’

After the October crit exhibition I had the opportunity to be directly involved with Gustav Metzger’s recent project ‘Remember Nature’. As I felt that my last piece did not focus on the natural or the political as much as I’d like my work to, this was the perfect opportunity to introduce these very important themes back into my work. Attempting to use paint in a more conventional way, I painted a leaf in my chosen colour palette of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow to create a contrast between natural tones and
artificially mass produced colour.

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Acrylic painting

Using Photoshop I made a short animation with this painting that imitated a conventional buffering symbol. I experimented showing this on a monitor and thought it would be interesting if the viewer had to see this looped animation at close proximity, reflecting the way that we interact with screens everyday.

Like my previous piece ‘LSTV’, I painted a canvas to conceal the monitor, this time experimenting with using block colour. This decision was made after many different composition experiments and then reflection on Aldous Huxley’s study that “bright, pure colours are characteristic of the other world.” Again this forced viewers to look into the piece through a small hole cut into the canvas, but unlike ‘LSTV’ this hole was much more obvious.

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Final composition plan

This piece aimed to glorify the buffering symbol whilst also demonstrating time wasted on staring at screens. I think in some ways this did come across but here I feel that the canvas was rather unnecessary and was only included because of my previous work. Possibly showing this on a more appropriate screen would have been more successful instead of concealing it as I preferred the canvas as a piece on its own.

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Installation view

Photocopying photocopies

For the second unit of the drawing project I have been working with using photocopying as a means to manipulate and expose images. In my initial experiment using a close up photograph of a canvas painted with ice I found myself making 3 photo copies out the original image using a particular technique and then choosing the most ‘visually successful’ image and repeating the process with that image.

When I realised that I had subconsciously been doing this I became very excited about how this process could be used in part of a bigger sequence. So I continued with more experiments where I consciously made 3 photocopies of each image using a particular technique then chose the one I felt was most successful and used another technique. I felt excited about this because I realised that the possibilities of this process were endless, you could continue to photocopy photocopies stemming from one image repeatedly, so the piece itself could be infinite, or at least suggests its own infinity. I felt a sense of evolution when looking at the series, and thought about how it could talk about the natural evolution of our planet into present day. The photocopier here would act as a symbol of man’s modern day immediacy warping our perception of the world around us, removing us from our human nature. I felt that the way I was presenting this, as a diagonal so that each set of photocopies was seen in relation to its original, showed this. But when speaking to a tutor he recommended I think about using a grid, as the current presentation was too decorative. On trying this I found this form both allowed more photocopies to be shown in the same space, and made the transitions between images easier to read.

After researching John Cage’s printmaking techniques I realised that my process was too objective to present something so based on chance. So like John Cage I experimented with using a random number generator in order to get my head around the process before applying it in a different ways to this photocopying work. I realised that to be able to use the random number generator I would need to categorise all the different techniques I have been using to make the previous photocopies so that I could assign them a number. I found this difficult to do as there are so many variations of techniques so I had to be really concise about how this would work, making strict categories and sub categories. It was also around this time that I came across John Hilliard’s piece ‘camera recording its own condition’. This piece too aimed to expose the inadequacies of it’s own process of making.

John Hilliard - Camera Recording its own Condition (1971)
John Hilliard – Camera Recording its own Condition (1971)

At this stage I realised that I the image I was using was as important as the process itself. I had mainly been using pictures of natural forms as a visual representation of nature being warped by technology, but I felt like I needed to find a ‘pure’ (non-objective) image for this process to really work. This really hindered me as I felt like I couldn’t start categorising my techniques until I had a ‘pure’ image. In the meantime I started doing small observations of bananas and passion fruit shells decaying, focusing on making forms and patterns with them. Then I experimented with photocopying these 3D objects and moving them whilst being scanned. From this I got an image to work with to realise all the categories, I decided to get a still image of the fruit as I felt this was more truthful, but not yet a pure image as the composition was considered aesthetically.

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From this I finalised my Categories to; Wiggle, Holding away from the scanner and back down again, circular motion and left – right, and a sub category; portrait or landscape. I found an image to work with by cropping and enlarging natural textures found in Tomas Marent’s collection of Rainforest Photography. I then made a set of 9 to start practicing with this technique. I didn’t feel entirely happy with this outcome but I think that is due to my struggle of finding or realising a pure image to work with.

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I still feel that this pieces process is not fully resolved. Afterward I experimented with dragging the image across the photocopier left to right at the same time as the photocopier. I then alternated between photocopying landscape to portrait with the image. I found the outcomes of this to be much more exciting than the ones using the random number generator, so maybe experimenting with using only this could lead me to a resolving piece.

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I feel now that I need to leave this photocopying process alone and feel eager to get it resolved, but I have had an idea of possibly resolving the piece using the intaglio print process. Thinking about how I could manipulate a plate one stage at a time (using processes and co ordinates selected by a random number generator), taking a print after every action for x amount of times and using the final image to make the same amount of photocopies using the random number generator to decide what process will be used to manipulate it. Although this does not really talk about the manipulation of nature that I wanted the piece to talk about it does expose two separate printing processes in different ways.

Intaglio printing experiment

In the past week I was granted the opportunity to try out the intaglio printing process. In preparation for this I researched Dora Maurer’s work with printmaking as I had heard that she aimed to produce indeterminable outcomes from processes, which is what most interests myself. In my research I found her piece ‘Throwing the Plate from Very High” to be of most influence to my own approach to the intaglio print process, as I too wanted to catch something as fleeting as a moment of impact. My initial brainstorm in the workshop was thinking about how I could capture ice melting through this process, unfortunately this did not seem possible given that water softly shrinking would not mark the soft ground applied to the plate, but perhaps I may be able to do something with water, salt and vinegar that would arrive at a similar outcome once I have a better understanding of this process as a whole. In the end I decided that the best way for me to start using this process initially would be to mimic Maurer’s use of the process but instead of throwing the plate, drop a slab of ice onto it.

This made a much larger mark than both the technician and I had expected which was positive, but as a saw that there was still large pieces of ice intact I decided to continue smashing the remaining pieces onto the plate until there was none left. The spontaneous performance of this was quite exciting, being free to smash blocks of ice as an expression of nature felt liberating and almost therapeutic. The plate took around 40 minutes to get a good etch as I used steel with a very thin layer of soft ground. At first I found this process quite intimidating because of its complexity but once I had inked up the plate and created my first print I felt much more comfortable in the print workshop and I am eager to experiment with the boundaries that this process has to offer.

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‘Dropping ice from quite high’

Despite having got a final outcome from the plate I didn’t quite feel that this piece was resolved yet. In my other studio work I had been experimenting with a more common process of printmaking; photocopying. Using an A3 photocopier I have been manipulating colourful images by moving them sporadically whilst being scanned and working repetitively from those scans rather than the original image in order to expose the colours. I decided to see what would happen if I did the same to this black and white image, but I didn’t feel that it would be right to add more movement to the print as it was being scanned as the ‘action’ had already happened within the image. Instead I decided to see what would happen if I continued to photocopy the previous photocopy of the print as I was hoping that this in some way could visually resemble the process of ice melting.

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36 photocopies of photocopies

This is the result of photocopying photocopies of the print 36 times, although changes in the quality cannot be noticed when a photocopy of the previous photocopy are compared, the 6 diagonal copies in the middle show the disintegration of the process concisely. I am pleased with the development of this idea, what I was most interested in Maurer’s work was the way in which she exposed processes and I feel that I have achieved this to some extent here with the photocopies. The repetitive and tedious task of photocopying photocopies exposes the fact that this instant process of reproducing an image has its faults, every time a new photocopy is made the image is manipulated further away from the original and truthful image. For me this is important as I think it could be applied to the way in which society, especially western society, views itself within the natural world. Over the most recent period of history we have found ourselves progressively loosing touch with the natural world of which we are apart of, with the focus of our day to day lives slowly leaning toward technology and ridiculousness, instead of growing to understand ourselves and the world around us.

Recent work – Ebb and flow

My initial inspirations for my most recent work has stemmed from my documentations of Farnham park from October into December. After capturing this beautiful and vast location through its natural transitions from Autumn into Winter and day into night I started interpreting these natural phenomena’s into home made ice sculptures. My mould for these sculptures was simply a shallow bowl that came from a broken desk lamp but I chose this particular form as it resembled a perfect puddle and as the weather has gotten colder I have found myself fascinated with the way puddles freeze and the debris that gets suspended in them momentarily. I experimented with taking three of these sculptures, each one representing different times of day, into Farnham park to photograph and film recording in their natural surroundings but I found that the weather was far too cold and they barely melted. I then saw that it would be much more interesting to document how they melted through the marks made by them rather than a time lapse. So instead I got a canvas and left the sculptures to melt on it one at a time. The marks made with these sculptures were very subtle as I only added small amounts of water colours and ink to slightly alter the colours of the ice. My goal with this piece was to create layers of marks to represent the ongoing changes in nature and I wanted to use the canvas to capture my interpretations of these changes, just as so many have done before me. For a recent exhibition I decided to repeat this process but this time use only paint and use it thickly within the sculpture in order to make more striking marks.

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Initial ice sculpture experiments photographed in Farnham park (December 2014)
Close up of ice sculpture and paint before it started to melt
Close up of ice sculpture and paint before it started to melt
Ice sculpture melting in the exhibition space (February 2015)
Ice sculpture melting in the exhibition space (February 2015)

In this exhibition I found that many people were confused by the materials I had used before the ice started melting, initially people thought I had placed a dome of brightly coloured resin onto a plinth, then they thought it may be jelly because of the colour, only when they touched it did they realise that it was ice. It helped that I had found a plinth that fitted my canvas perfectly as it made the fact that this was a painting quite discreet and left people to focus on the performance of states changing from one to another, which I hoped would be the most important thing about the piece. I feel that mainly this piece was positively received by my peers and tutors, with many of them commenting that it was the simplicity of the idea that made the piece successful. Useful criticisms were about my choice of colour palette, the lurid green was quite distracting and didn’t talk to the audience about nature or the history of painting as it was meant to, and also about the fact that the canvas was not clean before the ice started melting on it. I had chosen to use the same canvas as before as I liked this idea of adding layers to represent the ongoing changes in nature but I now see that a blank canvas would have been much more appropriate for the aesthetics of this piece. Another concern raised by my peers was how the piece would be displayed after the exhibition. There was concern that the canvas would be put up on the wall alongside other paintings and would then only be talked about as an automatic painting. I shared this concern so after the exhibition I dismantled my piece and found other ways it could be shown after the event of the ice melting, separating the canvas from the plinth and the plinth from the marks made by the melting water on the floor. This may be a more interesting way of showing this piece in an exhibition after an ice piece has melted, as it forces the viewer to piece together what has happened and realise that all objects are connected by an act of nature, just as everything is on earth. This is primarily what I want to talk about with art, but I think this could be done with more interesting objects which would make this idea clearer. Another way of presenting the work after the ice had melted which I found successful was taking close up pictures of the marks made on the canvas. These photos made the paint and canvas unrecognisable so that the focus is solely on the intricate and strange marks that was made by the combinations of natural process and paint, these images are so abstract that it is impossible to guess what they are of, but make for aesthetically pleasing images that show off the beauty of nature.

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Close up of canvas detail
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Close up of canvas detail

From here I want to continue to make work that talks about the constant transitions of nature, from day into night, winter to spring and life to death and become more in touch with the flow of nature and hopefully build up an understanding relationship with these natural events that I cannot get from our capitalist society and share them with my audience.

‘Place’ Project


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“Take me to Egypt,

I’ll go to the Red Sea and

float for the first time.”

Here is my finished series of photographs I did for my project ‘place’. I decided to go with the sub theme of misplacement and more precisely the title; ‘I’m losing my mind’. I started off this project by writing my poems on things that we tend to loose such as a wallet, keys and even a person. The poetry here is used to represent my thoughts, as my poetry is my own way of trying to understand my personal feelings and try and use negative energy that I have in a constructive way, so the materiel objects therefore represent the physical misplacement of my mind. I then decided to incorporate nature into my work after looking at Antony Goldsworthy’s work, as I felt that this was the best way to present my work as the way that a mind deteriorates is a natural process, this is something I also experimented with in my first few photos as I wrote a short poem;

‘You bloom,

I rot.’

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On a tomato and then documented how the writing became distorted as the tomato was left to rot. The photos that I took of my poems written on objects did not come out as well as I had hoped despite the fact that I thought the concept behind them was strong, but they did not feel particularly creative and the writing was difficult to read. This was annoying as I felt that writing my poems on certain objects illustrated them really well such as writing;

 ‘I will lay with you

for as long as it takes,

I will draw poems

Onto your spine,

I will give you back

The life you gave to me.’

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Onto someone’s back. I felt that possibly these experimentation’s would have been more successful if presented physically rather than through photographs, but this completely contradicted the idea of them being lost. After some experimentation in my garden, trying to write poems with sticks and stones, I found that leaves were the best material to use as they were readily available and the writing made with them could be seen from a distance. I decided to use a haiku for this piece as traditionally this form of poetry is used to express mans interaction with nature and clearly making this piece required me to physically interact with nature. The poem is also about interacting with nature in two ways, first of all physically again and second of all the experience of the nature of depression. I photographed the leaves over a matter of days to record the way that it disappeared. The idea of this is to show how the human mind naturally disintegrates occasionally, linking this piece to mental health conditions such as Alzheimers and depression. This project was extremely personal to me but I am rather pleased by the outcome, although some of the pictures are not of the best quality because I had to stand on a ladder on a balcony to make sure all the lettering was in the frame and it could have been much more interesting if it had snowed, this piece was quite therapeutic and gave me a new way of expressing myself while also allowing me to collaborate my poetry with my art studies.