Art as Transformer by Adam Grose is released today on Amazon and available to purchase as a paperback and Kindle. Here is a link to a preview and some images of the new philosophical work by Grose and some images from the forthcoming Art as Transformer Artist Monograph and the link direct to Amazon here.
Walking and being immersed in the landscape brings a connection to its integral beauty and its value to our mental and physical health. Through these walks I absorb the sights and sounds the landscape of Somerset and elsewhere brings to my mind, as I consume the imagery for my painting and printmaking. Lately I have expanded my printmaking with rock powder, obtained from the rocks and materials collected from my walks, using them as pigment to form new ways of layering and forming landscape art.
The latest works that can be seen below explore the connection we have with rocks and their connection to life on planet Earth. Through the sciences of geology, chemistry and biology, I explore the obscure aspects of the landscape and its effect upon our perception of reality and its links to our past, the moment and where it is heading, particularly concerning the environmental aspects and our effect upon it through the industrial age and our current post-industrial digital age.
These new paintings explore various influences coming from my walks in the landscape, either from rocks I have seen, cliff faces, caves, old walls, planet surfaces, moons, peeling paint and objects left to the elements of nature, bringing their own aesthetic to the object and the image. These explore Zen inspired practices and landscapes resonating with the great Chinese and Japanese paintings of the past.
I have also included a video revealing some of the process that went into making these forms of painting. These explore the intervention of the artist with the materials, in this case rock powder taken from rocks collected from Watchet, Somerset and Soapstone powder, working with the natural consequences of chance, accident and natural forces of nature (maybe even those tiny microbes in the seawater and collected snowfall water added to these paintings).
Over the last year I have been exploring landscape art and investigating the various forms attributed to Landscape Art throughout the history of art. Throughout the Modernist, the Postmodernist and into the Contemporary Art era, landscape art has changed and evolved through continual experimental research grounded in our link and relationship to forming new ways of seeing the world around us. Interventions in the landscape; Abstractions; Shattered Landscapes – developed from the returning soldiers from the First World War; Found objects brought into the gallery space and extractions taken from the post-industrial landscape, explore landscape in new and interesting forms. My particular journey began when I left the U.K. in 2013 for a residency for six months in Cyprus and six months in Spain, being drawn to the dry, eroding, weather worn and Sun scored land of Mediterranean culture.
During my explorations finding new ways of working, away from my previously Media inspired figurative work, I explored extracting information from my walks – using technology to record my pilgrimages via GPS, collecting rocks, soil and photographic images taken from the landscapes I was travelling, evolving my processes of painting and drawing in new ways. These developed further once I returned back to the U.K. in July 2014 and whilst teaching at a PRU for a year. I began to extract soil samples and develop bacteria cultures in Petri dishes. These formed the basis of my Petrus prints and since May 2016 have developed into methods of layering printing ink, forming and exploring through chance, intervention, will, Eco-Feminist and Zen principles – exploring landscape through seeking a synthesis between masculine and feminine co-operations, using nature (application and pressure) and material exploration to form memorial abstractions of the landscape and time.
How has 20th Century collaborative practices influenced Contemporary Art in the 21st Century?
(20 minute seminar to learners at Somerset College)
What is collaboration? How do we frame collaboration? What ways do we collaborate?
Do we press a button? Do we manipulate and interact with objects? Do we become involved through forms of participation? What is the future for Contemporary Art in an age of austerity?
How do we become less a passive observer and more actively engaged as a participant in our visual art culture? Jacques Ranciere, a leading French critical theorist writes about the visual arts and delves into ideas exploring aesthetics, participation and emancipation. In his critique ‘The Emancipated Spectator’, he explores the idea that for an ‘Art’ to exist and be known as ART, it must ignite an activism in us – to become critically engaged and involved in the work being seen and experienced. Over the last 16 years it has been noted a rise in community projects involving the visual arts, engaging audiences and opening up ideas about art learning and education; these processes of engaging with an audience teaches new skills to produce something from its processes, both physically and mentally and is something that has become more evident through the funding structures and frameworks set by the Arts Councils and Government initiatives, leading to the expansion of an active engagement with communities, leading to a shift away from private gallery and avant-gardism of the 20th Century. This has brought an expansion of art initiatives and community practices, leading to new understandings of the importance of the visual and participatory arts to the community.
Claire Bishop’s essay ‘The Social Turn: Collaboration and Its Discontents’ explores this shift in thinking with regard to the expansion of the ‘Arts’ to the wider audience. She observed:
‘…these practices have had, for the most part, a relatively weak profile in the commercial art world…they’re also less likely to be [considered] “works” [and seen as] … social events, publications, workshops, or performances – they nevertheless occupy an increasingly conspicuous presence in the public sector.’(1)
These come under the headings: ‘socially engaged art, community-based art, experimental communities … participatory, interventionist, research-based, or collaborative art. These practices are less interested in a relational aesthetic, than in the creative rewards of [a] collaborative activity…’(2)
But, what does ‘becoming actively involved’ mean? How has the role of collaboration from the 20th Century influenced collaborative art practices in the 21st Century, contributing to its evolution?
Beginning in the 1990s and into the 21st Century the increase in digital realities has transformed previous ideas about the role of the artist. Artists and galleries reach an audience directly through websites, video sites and social networks, expanding the role art plays in the community and society.
What can be considered a form of collaboration?
Collaboration was thought as something that did not much happen in the past. Yet, this is an incorrect assumption. Through the Masters’ workshops, training apprentices who would form the main body of a painting: its composition; forms; and style follow the plan drawn by the Master. The Master would add their signature style, finishing the work and in-so-doing completing a form of collaborative practice.
Artists have set up collaborative partnerships in the past, which continues to this day. An example of this can be seen in the work of Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder(3) who executed around two-dozen paintings together between 1598 and Brueghel’s death. Most notably The Five Senses series (Taste, Smell, Touch, Sight and Sound) reveal the level of their collaboration – Brueghel’s landscapes and Rubens’ figures.
In Modernism the Surrealists produced hundreds of ‘Exquisite Corpses’ as a group, playing the game of forming strange and surreal figures – each taking their turn in their production. Picasso and Braque worked on the development of Cubism. The Dadists worked on their publications. De Stijl worked on purifying art to its essence. Collaborative groups of artists working together to form and inform their work to their audience.
Performance and Conceptual art from the 1960s through to the 1990s were recorded and developed through Lucy Lippard and groups like Fluxus and Yoko Ono exploring social issues including: Ecology; Feminism; Civil Rights; Gay & Lesbian Rights; Transgender; Conflict and War – exploring the artist as observer and the public as participant to complete the work.
Artists in later part of the 20th Century explored collaboration through their work, engaging the public through social notions of Modernity. Cindy Sherman and Kara Walker explore social conventions through their work – ‘emancipating the viewer’ from the stereotypes to become active in how we read images from our position of prejudices, becoming more aware of a viewers role and participation in their social role in the 20th and 21st Century history. Alternative perspectives explore the role of the feminine through class and race – the collaborative roles we play in society and social conventions, galvanising social change, leading to emancipation from set frameworks from a particular class of society.
Jeremy Deller explores performance in art through a process where the public becomes integrated into the art. We witness the artist and their questions. The re-enactment of the Battle of Orgreave bringing generations together to relook at a historical event – working with the original miners to explore a point in time. He initiates a dialogue between miners, police, and community; exploring a new angle of enquiry [although whether this heals or re-opens wounds is open to further study].
Ai Weiwei explores memory and history through objects associated with past time. Hand painted porcelain seeds link to China’s Imperial past and their cultural ceramic past – symbols used to highlight ‘the People during China’s Cultural Revolution…the seeds nourish, the ubiquitous discarded husks provide evidence of existence … Sunflower Seeds comments on social, political and economical issues relevant to contemporary China such as the role of the individual in relationship to the collective.’
Grayson Perry explores ideas on identity and role-play. He explores the other through ceramics and tapestries (The Vanity of Small Differences) – he questions social conformity and the identities we become. His work on the system of class and identity is worked through collaboratively working with a community – living with them and exploring their way of life.
Marina Abramovic’s collaborative work The Artist is Present explores interactive participation. A moment of connection: looking, seeing and feeling. The artist stares and the participant stares back – bringing unknown emotions to the surface through a one to one engagement. A direct form of communication witnessing a transformation between artist and viewer, both becoming the work.
Collaboration has also witnessed co-authored works by many visual artists who have worked as a team or partnership. These relationships have seen prominent stars of the art world including: Gilbert and George, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin with their mixed-media assemblages;
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen with their large sculptures of everyday objects and vinyl forms; Christo and Jeanne-Claude Javacheff and their material covered buildings, islands and architectural forms; ATOI exploring ideas about what sculpture is and can be considered in spaces; Patrick Gallaher and Chris Klapper explore mapping and the elements of nature, forming interactive performance pieces; Erika Barbee relays through her performance pieces a collaborative passive process through applications like Twitter – exploring our relationship with technology; Professor Josef Danek explores collaboration with artists around the world, using dropbox to send projects to work on and exhibit in the Czech Republic.
Mike Collier from Sunderland University explores working with groups of artists, scientists, writers, poets and the public through the act of walking in the landscape. The research gathered from these walking journeys lead to the formation of new works exploring the phenomenological aspect and our place in space.
The 21st Century has seen many changes in the way we send, receive and share content. These innovations are leading to new ways about researching collaborative projects. Technology has emancipated communities, social groups and individuals.
Claire Doherty’s From Studio to Situations: Contemporary Art and the Question of Context (2004), …notes:
“using art as a means for creating and recreating new relations between people.”(4)
One such relationship was recently shown on BBC Two’s Artsnight.(5)
Nicolas Serota explores the role of art in the 21st Century and the changes happening outside of the gallery space – revealing projects that utilise the Internet and the gallery space. The Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art has been exploring the work ofThe Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise, a group based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. Through Dutch artist Renzo Martens he brings together plantation workers who engage in art making at settlements of the Institute for Human Activities in the country’s rainforest, for the purpose of affecting social change.
‘The current exhibition features sculptural portraits or representations of art-market figures such as the collector. Each one is moulded from clay and then reproduced in Belgian chocolate through multiple technologies, including 3D scanning and printing. Profits generated from the sale of these works are directed back to the plantation workers, improving their living conditions and help redressing global economic inequalities.’(6)
These experiences are being explored in the community of Middlesbrough. Groups of artists run workshops teaching how to work with local clay from Teesside, once used in the ceramic industry, creating new skills and learning, forming sustainable living – repositioning concepts on contemporary craft and art-making in the 21st Century with the traditional skills from the past.
New technologies are re-shaping the future of Visual Art – ready to be accessed online and 3D printed directly in the customers home. These developing technologies will change the way artists collaborate with the community and the World at large – changing the way people see and think about art and craft-making, its production and the shifting creative economies of the future – no longer bound to a gallery and high street system. Art and Design accessible to the individuals and communities via our developing Internet mindscape.