Art as Transformer
What are the relationships between the photographic image, painting and mediation?
This extended essay explores participatory relationships relating to the photographic, painting and our mediation with these images. Since the year 2000 to 2017, the exponential growth in mobile devices has enabled a greater connectivity to the Inter-web, enabling the uploading of individual daily experiences, via social networks, instantaneously sharing digitised images with families, friends and strangers around the world.
Although some research explores the impact of social networks on the psychology of users, contributions have generally been beneficial and positive, particularly with social activist movements leading to greater democracy. However, as with all new technologies, we must be cautious about how our psychology is affected and the possible detrimental effects these platforms might have on our identity and social interactions, as well as controlling types of information.
We must be vigilant and cautious due to photographic images becoming easier to
manipulate. Editorially manipulated collages that form corporationist ideologies that could seek to control ways we interpret our view of the world. One can become easily enraptured with these new forms of photo-paintings pervading the virtual world, especially during this so-called fake news era.
It is also concerning how information can be directed via algorithms, creating individualised feedback loops of implantable desires and appetites, reducing access to new information vital for a balanced mind, society and democracy.
[The 80 page book Art as Transformer will be released as a published paperback book and as a Kindle download from Amazon this month circa 26th May 2017]
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).
The centre of my images are forms of despotic and entropic reality that has become symbolic of our global narrative. This narrative appears to have been driven by the architectural spaces that surround us, regardless of the place in which we live. Through the scratched, drawn, printed, pulled, pushed and dragged marks we leave behind, these marks of our time in a place become symbols for something which is still becoming – in a sense these writings, marks, scrawls become signatures in our spaces on the walls, left for someone in a future time to see.
Whether through human hands or nature’s marking, the entropy I am drawn towards become a central theme or form, although I will contest there is no central narrative to drive the images or to become something I wish others to latch on to, yet upon further reflection through time some motifs will become apparent to the mind and certain repeating forms will reveal themselves to the artist and begin the forming of a new piece. Thess images of the despotic and entropic states of mind become a form to enquire and seek resolutions to the reality we are part of and contribute towards. Whether these are symptoms of a Rupert Sheldrake projected reality of a morphic resonance or a Nassim Haramein holographic understanding of the greater mind, these are left to the philosophers to discuss and evaluate.
Through these pieces I seek a non-image upon the surface – to become only a set of repeating patterns of line and tone, yet these continually strive to become an image in the mind of the viewer, with our minds continually seeking some type of resolution to an enquiry of reality, a validation to the reality we experience, bringing into the space of the flat, non-perspective arena of layered images of drawings, paintings and prints some resolution to what and how an image can be without giving into the conventions of what others believe an image should be.
The flat space of the architecturally-made image and its formless space becomes a morphological element from which we try to draw meanings from – a social metaphor through the historical sensibilities of past images placed within a squeezed space – a space of little meaning in a world saturated with images and a people unknowingly affected by a growing desensitisation of reality and the events that happen in the world today.
This space is where air is tightly packed, yet seeking to find the fullness of itself – searching for a resolution to the fragmented and broken worlds that comes through our digital age of the formless virtual reality of ones and zeros. You think that is space in that image you are looking at on the screen of the computer? Even in the space surrounding you now there is many ‘things’ going on and travelling through that space – radio waves, x-rays, gamma rays, the electro-magnetic wave-lengths of light, particles etc… and yet in this reality of space we forget we might possibly be living within one photon occupying all space in all time.
These shifting forms and spaces is seeking a language to help me negotiate – the stripped scaffolding of past worlds, the language and certainty now evolving into an ever-increasing world of uncertainty, becoming a visual landscape to draw new meanings in these cacophony of meanings. Meanings that have become intricate mazes we try find our way through, to grasp the thread we hope is there by the many Ariadne’s of our time, whoever this will be, friend or foe, scientist or priest, politician or co-worker. When it comes down to it we are slowly becoming more cut off from reality as we seek fulfilment in the technology we use to distract us from the ultimate reality of life.
Through becoming immersed within an image of images, overtaken by fragments of the whole and the obliterated ideologies of past powers, meanings that have been shown to be useless, meaning nothing to us in the present moment yet so quick to become peer-grouped into a stereo-typed view of who and what we are, rather than seeking our own way, our own view of who we are, we need to go back in time and really try to understand the political and historical past, a reality that continues to inform the underlying structures of our contemporary society and cultural heritages. We need to become aware of those who seek to control the records of history – those who deem it necessary to decide which images our shown or purchased for their collections for the good of the Nation. How many portraits of African, Asian, South American, Gay, Transvestite, and Lesbian do you see in the collections? How many of these collections are filled with powerful elite men and women who are white American and European cultures. Today’s contemporary cultural institutes appear to still see through the lenses of the 19th and 20th Century. Today’s new media of contemporary cultural diaphanous realities of the inter-web is more open to new ways of seeing, yet our collections of images are ‘right click and save’ folder collections of images that we like, without subsequently building a new collection of original art – still believing only the particular institutions have the right and the power to collect their view of art for the future generations.
Through these constructions of thought, we process various pieces of information – buildings and symbols, coming together from different eras with their sets of meaning and political powers playing with the historical place, forced together to occupy the same space and perform this sense of loss, for their physical and cultural placement in our current times, Their removed being grasps, reaching for the essence through which all our cultural baggage of being a Westerner and a European is trying to make sense of a new ‘virtual’ world, except looking through the cultural lens of Nations built from past Imperial endeavours – a Colonial past I am a result and the inevitable subsequent repercussions that reverberate throughout time and history. Unpacking this visual language through the practice of drawing and painting can be a means to seek new meanings for symbols of the past. We have travelled and lived amongst other cultures – seeking visual codifiers that will help us relate and decipher. To articulate who and what we are whilst we try to break free and see from outside the system we are born and have not contributed much to in its construction.
Its contribution to identity and its relationship to our sense of self, our place in the world, our unknown appetites feed through the advertisements of our past and present, selling dreams of a lifestyle that will never fulfil our true cravings – cravings we can not really get to know until we remove the mire that is rooting us to comfortablility – an analysis of where we precisely fit or not fit in.
All time coalesces into one space to force particular social and dynamic systems together. Re-seeing particular marks and repeating patterns of lines, forms and behaviours that perform in the construction of a piece and inform the living in the day-to-day. The repetition of the past in the present becomes an informant to a re-shaped past.
What will happen when I force one thing against another? What will become when something is revealed through a new form, evolving and morphing from these compact spaces – breaking away from the despotic and entropic political/ polemical space to uncover and reveal the hidden desires, biases and prejudices we have yet to become aware, born from an education and learning we are growing up within and which no longer functions in a 21st Century that constantly evolves and changes, moving so fast that what was known yesterday is no longer viable today and in its distraction hides that which has passed on by before we have had a chance to de-construct to fully understand.
Upon reflection it seems I am drawn to the entropic state of objects, whether this is stone worn by nature or peeling paint from walls, stemming from a childhood spent around building sites. I can still remember trawling around sites where houses were being constructed, before the days of boundaries keeping us out for our own safety – I can remember the smells from these sites – the drywalls, plaster, cement and the wet pools of water from the rain mixing with the material still waiting to be placed in their spot by the builders.
The colour wires protruding from walls waiting to be affixed to the socket boxes that would one day play host to any numerable appliances of the future. Walking around these spaces always fascinate me, imagining those who would move in and live their lives within these yet to be decorated walls. Like the derelict buildings I also visit, left to crumble, retuning to the earth from which their material had once come, now home to nature and its reclamation of these constructs and structures of the past.
The mixing of plaster and wire – uncovering not what I intended, but a revealing and uncovering of something from my mind. The entropy, the despotic reality of my own internal dialogue playing out waiting for my conscious self to become aware and realize the importance of where ideas stem, growing into a body of work that is more biographical in its nature than I could ever have foreseen.
The studio becomes a gestation space – a place to meditate and make sense of a projected self into the work, contributing to an entropy in the work – to break down and re-form images into new ways of understanding – making a mark and reflecting on that mark and it interaction with the next mark.
The external world impinges itself in the mind and forms into a re-action as a mark – the mark left behind informs the next and so on, becoming something else – becoming a commentary of a thought process that interacts with the social conditioning put upon by the past events that in-form into present thoughts, in-turn re-informing the past mark, thought, action – a performance between the past, present and yet to be defined future based upon a projection of my thoughts contained in a loop of inform and re-inform.
These contribute to the forming of the image, layering one on top of the other – each action erasing the previous through its interaction. The covering over or an erasing of the line becomes integral piece in the formation of its marks, left by the mind through its physicality as a biographical representation of an identity shaped by the society and cultural it has been born into and shaped by the choices and decisions one makes in the quest to find some understanding of what it means to be alive and lucky to be given the opportunity to experience a reality we call life.
A new set of oil pastel drawings exploring the effect of a remembered past and how it is affected by the moment of remembering in the present. These landscapes, this one from Belalcazar, Spain, explore the fleeting images in my mind when I begin to remember the places I walked – journeying around the landscape – seeing and experiencing changing light, weather, objects of the landscape, mountains in distance and the approaching rains yet to come during my walk.
Each scene (seen) remembered and combined into a new form of landscape – one of memory and rememberance. Diaphanous realities flip in and out; captured lines of tone, colour and forms, that bring the experience lived – relived in the present/ past time.
There is a fine balance between having enough and having too much of things in one image. This balance I have sought over the last ten years, playing with overlays, seeking the right balance between image and colour. The unfinished sensibility harks back to my childhood seeing billboards which sold promises with their models and imagined lifestyles, selling an ideal, a dream. The billboards of my childhood had been abandoned, left to the elements in the mid to late 1970s. Looking back these act as a symbolic gesture to economic decline during the 70s in the UK – something I have never forgotten (three day week, power-cuts, inflation, Winter of Discontent in 1979). Then the 1980s and the rise of Thatcherism with her stance towards the unions and trade, leading towards an economic recovery (built on debt) or what would become known as Laissez-faire economics.
My particular favourite billboard was one by the old cinema in Yeovil Town, by the telephones. I remember the first time I saw it whilst waiting to see Star Wars in 1978 – noting its entropy, (although at the time I did not know of this word), but that symbolic image in reality and an altogether other reality which came with SW – a new hope was stirring. The previous poster images appearing through the gaps, the torn areas created by wind and rain, revealed a past that had still the potential to affect the future, one which would lead me to a quest to research how a past affects a present and the present affecting the past at the point of remembering, in one feedback loop of time.