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.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fellow exhibitor

this is an installation by Hanna Von Goeler in the room next to mine at the Hunter College/Times Square gallery. Its great!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nina Canell

Nina Canell, "Temporary Encampment (Five Blue Solids)" (Detail), 2009. Showing in "The Inner Life of Things" at Frankfurter Kunstverein, Germany

Powerful image! A suggestion of craft (the multiple plinths) and industry (the plinths look like wooden crates) with constructivist and modernist overlay in the lush abstraction and the whole thing's sort of idealistic glow.

Canell's work apparently "stems from a basic interest in the convertibility of materials and conditions". She "combines everyday items and found objects - objects shaped by everyday processes, features and nature and transformed into carriers of new information - into walk-in, spatial installations with visually, audibly and intellectually experienceable, process-oriented arrangements". (that's from "Projects in Art and Theory" space, Cologne).

Whew. Well, that may be translated from German, as she is Swedish, and based in Berlin. The installation materials are "Elektromagnetische Gerate, Gipsplatte, Plastik" .... hm. Figured it had to be some kind of magnetism keeping those balls in the air. Interesting avenue to explore!

The other work of hers that I found was less visually powerful, more minimalist conceptual. Sound works, boiling things, cement sacks and neon tubes seemingly draped over rods or branches. I kind of like the new look with the floating balls.

Here is another image from the show. Egill Saebjornsson, "Grey Still Life II", 2009.

Fascinating, but the site was only in German so couldn't really get the gist. Want to know if the diagonal is out of paint only, or if there's a board sticking out towards us. Either way - I like it. Reminds me of Dada mixed with foundation course work, but it hangs together and makes me curious.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fabulous news photo

This is a press photo, by Ana Marin, c/o Reuters. Popped up on ArtDaily Newsletter. Shows fireworks exploding round the Burj Dubai, the world's tallest tower, at its opening ceremony.

Fabulous photo! Great to see the rich darks and the intimate feeling given by the leaves attaching us to earth, while ahead there is this astounding fuzzy, ethereal pillar - like something from an undersea plankton documentary or a fiber optic fashion show - lighting up the sky above. What a moment, the old, the natural, and the new!

I'm not entirely convinced of the value of the tower, nor care that it is the tallest. I haven't dwelled on the philosophical ramifications of the whole event - it may not be tied to positive change in any way - but as a documentation of human ingenuity and the ongoing aspirations of humankind, the photo does a pretty good job. Well, maybe the fact that we are using fireworks for show instead of destruction is a step in the right direction. What of the fact that oil has created new cities and extravagant expansion out of nothing? Commerce and material underpin the origin of all our cities so this follows the pattern of centuries. It is however interesting to see one that zooms through its evolution quite so quickly and flamboyantly.