Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Venice Illuminated

Amalia Pica
Venn Diagrams (under the spotlight), 2011


Friday, April 22, 2011

Influence...or anxiety?

I keep coming across wonderful light work I didn't know about. When I first saw Eliasson's work in 2007 I was crushed. I was finally moving from representing light to using light as medium and I wondered how I would continue when this fabulous work was already out there. Just thinking about all the differences possible in the use of paint or pencil ought to have set me straight, but it took a moment to absorb and fine tune.

Diane Landry
Flying School, 2005
(on show at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC 2005 - 2006)
This photo quality is not good, but you can just see the real effect is up on the ceiling above.

Alexander Gutke, Shattered, 2001 - 2007
(Sies + Hoke Gallery, Dusseldorf)
Simple and beautiful.

In this respect it was enlightening to visit "SLASH : Paper under the knife" in NYC last year. To see all the work being made of paper - a lot of it cut paper - highlighted the multiple approaches possible within the same medium.

There was some beautiful work in the Paper exhibition, but to me the pieces with a strong conceptual approach really shone. I'm including this image as it is similar to one she had in that show.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More Light work

Julieta Aranda "There is a heppy lend - fur, fur awa-a-ay", 2011

This would be great to see in the flesh. Luminous paint is quite magical - and elusive. National Geographic shop had a luminous paint and flash gun set that made shadow "paintings" at home ... so luscious but never lasting long enough. Like fireworks, you can watch the magic over and over again. Good that this installation gives viewers the chance to experience that, presumably (there's a timer included in the materials list). Haven't had time to investigate Aranda's work but do remember seeing this one a couple of years ago and being very intrigued.

Julieta Aranda, Partially untitled (tell me if I am wrong), 2009 at the Guggenheim, NY

Wonderfully mysterious and dark, a feeling of Magritte's Black Flag in a sort of a way, though not a danger from machines but the unknowable qualities of time, the inexorable end point. And the beautiful if temporary experience meantime.

And, exactly the same, only different... the magical bedtime story. They've been around for a few years now. There is a better image out there b/c I have seen it. Can't find it right now.

Heather Zschock Whoo's there? 2005

Saturday, July 31, 2010

light stuff

Diane Landry, Mandala, 2002
at SECCA re-opening exhibition
Look Again
earlier this month
(image posted by SECCA on Flickr)

Saw this hugely powerful light work by Diane Landry at SECCA in Winston Salem recently (great show all round btw). The laundry basket (with clear plastic water bottles strapped round the top) and moving light source create a shadow that expands and contracts, dominating the space magnificently, like a sort of moving Rose window... It was AWESOME.

Peter Kogler, Untitled, 2010,
Multiprojection, sound, loop
at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
(news on E-Flux)

Press release says it is a 360 degree multiprojection from 12 projectors, creating a "space of illusion that completely envelops the observer". The sound vibrations by sonic artist Franz Pomassl from home made devices and technological instruments helps dissolve the space, as "the ground disappears from under our feet." It looks seamless, love to be there!

Jim Campbell, Scattered Light (2010),
Madison Square Park, NY
(art news daily)

Almost 2000 LED lights in a 3D matrix, going on and off to animate shapes of figures walking across the space. The images (which obviously are conceived in 2D it seems) break up as you move away from the initial viewing point and "blurring the boundaries between image and object". Like to see this in the flesh. I loved the more luscious quality of his tiny Ambiguous Icon #1 (running falling) from 2000 - LEDs embedded in 12 x 15 inch plexiglass.

Well, ending outside the remit of art but in the spirit of this website and the right direction for the planet... This is an amazing book so far. Ray demonstrates that big business (the kind with US$700 million dollar worldwide sales each year) CAN completely embrace green technology, and that Industrialists can be activists with enormous power and influence. He's a relentless salesman which can get a little grating but his actions are worth it, and the idea that green equals profits might just get other industries off their butts...

I have the stirrings of ideas for art installations in this direction but they'll have to incubate for a while.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Vestiges of civilization

I'm a long time admirer of Richard Slee - back when I had a production pottery even, or... especially... that's why I'm now a fine artist : production pottery is more slog than creativity when your body is the machinery. Italian dinnerware designers were having more fun designing new "rustic" lines for their factories. But back to the matter in hand...

Here Slee shows some interesting objects ... Hales Gallery press release says "Slee renders the possibility of function as a distant memory, rather like the evolutionary remains of a tail."

A pun on the Bauhaus "form follows function" right enough. A wry comment that in the age of mass production crafts have become merely decorative products. Trinkets to be embellished and displayed rather than used. The practice reminds me of something. Oh yeah. People hanging old guns and swords over the fireplace. Or trophy antelope heads or indeed nostalgic items, antiques of any kind. Relics of activities that used to be vital.

Slee's references are bringing up a lot of thoughts for me about contemporary culture.

Landscape paintings appeal because they show us fertile and productive land that our primitive brain sees as necessary to survival (or words to this effect). Crafts seem to appeal to people because of the mark of the hand, human input, and skill, somehow associated with "the good old days"... but it is all more complicated than that.

In "The Meanings of Modern Design" Peter Dormer describes Marx describing a woman making bricks for a living (p 151) - craft industry at its most brutal (activities we are happy machines have taken over). Antelope hunting and guns above the fireplace refer to days we'd all rather not replicate in reality - having to catch and butcher our own dinners, or fight off our enemies personally. But there is something in there about human- ness that we cling to. Perhaps it is the idea of our power to accomplish all these things... when sometimes it might seem that we do nothing anymore, that we are not powerful. That's not true, of course, but if you watch the news you might start thinking that way.

Hales' press release notes that Slee's work recognizes these issues. It challenges conventional notions of ceramics and transcends "its utilitarian roots whilst also sidestepping the self indulgent aspects of the studio tradition which became ubiquitous in the late twentieth century".

Craft becomes art when it is aware of its own references and contradictions. Cool! Please explain that to the folk who are probably still painting bluebirds on the hand-polished agates they then make into clocks.

My further thoughts about culture run on ... more appropriate on the blog about my own work, or explored in the sketch/note/book. They go hand in hand with reading "The Invention of Capitalism" et al and curiosity about what we can learn about ourselves by the interpretation of contemporary cultural artifacts. I feel there's a mother lode buried under these premises ... but I'm still nibbling at the edges.

Richard Slee at Hales Gallery, London, 4 Jun - 17 July, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Artist Roger Hiorns is installing two aircraft engines (infused with brand name depression medications) on a terrace at the Art Institute of Chicago - I found this interesting...but not nearly as interesting as a previous work in London. In 2008 Hiorns filled a bed-sit (studio apartment to some of you) with boiling copper sulphate solution, let it cool and crystallize, then drained off the remaining liquid. Those modernist apartment blocks due for demolition may have been awful to live in but they are a boon to artists, right enough. The results are awesomely beautiful and unsettling.

The result looks like pictures of the Titanic with its decades of decay and colonization visible in the softening and blurring - but you can walk into it in the middle of a city. It looks like the work of ages but it happened in a few days. It seems dirty and ruinous but it is breathtakingly spectacular at the same time. I wonder if its poisonous, and how on earth they'll clean it up... or will it go to the landfill with the demolished building. Surely not... what could all that copper sulphate have cost???

Hiorns puts it well, saying something like it involved a lot of science but it wasn't a scientific project. I venture to say it is a microcosmic view of industry and technology laid bare for our consideration. Are there not parallels? The speed of it, the beauty and magic, the dirt and concern, the cost... the wondering what it is all FOR. Yet if we hear about a new advance in silicon chip manufacturing or evolution of factory processes it seems hardly noteworthy. Here, Hiorns the philosophical questions are encapsulated within the visible and factual.