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]
Over the last three months since returning from spending a year abroad I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the work I had created and the experiences I had in Cyprus and Spain. I left England to change the way I was creating work and to push my boundaries a little more – to seek another way of making work through placing myself in another country. This small piece of writing is a way of getting to the crux of what my practice has revealed and the practice-based research I have been exploring. Something which has evolved through the many experiences, sights and people I have had the opportunity to meet on the Cyprus residency, Flow and Art residency, La Fragua residency and my pilgrimage across Spain from the South to the North.
‘My practice explores associations with drawing through a variety of media: Printing, Painting, Mark making of one kind or another. In terms of printing I have always been particularly drawn towards linocuts, woodcuts, etchings, mono-prints, lithography and alternative methods of print production through the use of a third party, usually the environment. I have always continually sought new techniques in drawing and printing, exploring and questioning the traditional modes of production and experimenting with new ways of producing a line or print mark in my work. In the past it has been said that my working practice is a little eclectic and that it is problematic in some trying to contain my work in one category or another. In part I agree, yet my work is in some ways more consistent with processes and the way images are produced. Although one could say that in the past I was more concerned with ‘mirroring reality’ rather than creating a response to reality or acting as a gateway into another space beyond the picture plane, that may well exist at some level.
Drawing is central to many artistic practices and it has played a prominent role in my work. James Elkin remarks in his letter dated 29th January 2004 to John Berger about the appearance and disappearance of the line, and how these end up becoming part of a playful game in drawing, and that through this push and pull between the visible and the invisible. Drawing has the ability to capture the invisible line. Each time we draw the act redraws how our imagination sees it, ‘remaking my own imagination… reform[ing] the figure on the paper… redraw[ing] the model, because it changes my capacity to perceive.’.
Through alternative methods my aim is to reveal these invisible facets through the drawn line, exploring what ‘drawing’ exactly is and through this discipline reveal through relooking at what was missed on the first observation and the way my imagination reveals something more of reality, in its portrayal and how, we relate, respond and draw something fresh from this physical and mental act of seeing drawing as ‘…going for a walk with a line…’.
Through alternative methods of production using a variety of implements I record my journey or pilgrimage through a landscape, either literal or imaginatively, creating a response to one’s thoughts, emotions, feelings or reactions to the moment. Capturing as I move through physical space or back in the studio and move through ephemeral space, the memory of what stood out for me during the journey.
In September this year I collected soil samples to extract bacteria. I obtained 10 samples during a ten-mile walk, and explored another form of drawing and reveal/ observe hidden realities, creating another form of mile markers. The results where extracted and drawn in petri dishes. I drew the part of the walk I collected the particular soil sample – each representing a marker of one mile (1.6km). This act is experimental into ways of drawing and seeing reality from another perception. One of no boundaries accept for those brought to the table through human intervention.
Through multilayered drawings and paintings I explore memory and ephemeral reality. Using digital drawings created through the use of an application on the ‘smartphone’, I set the program to record the journey walked, cycled, train-travelled or driven. I observe the application drawing a travelled line in real-time. A hyper-real mapped image contained within the digital realm; the virtual reality of the replicated map.
I use this captured realities from the satellite as a foundation for translating into calligraphic Zen inspired art drawings, akin to the Spanish artists Antonio Tåpies and Eduardo Chillida. These drawings and eventual prints record a retranslation of the hyper-real into a moment of time through the hand, the gestural mark of bone, sinew and muscle; retranslating through the energetic emotive force of the ephemeral relived through the process of its creation and the remembered moments of time passed.
These ideas are born from my year away from England and pastures green. Six-month residencies in Cyprus and Spain, mixing and meeting wonderful artists and people who live now within my memory – reminding me of those moments of joy, frustration, events, shared space – now replaced with ghost-images, like photos, standing in place of that moment caught and experienced for one second, consigned to the corridors of memory. These phantoms from past time form a mapped history in the mind. The passage of time and its effect on our identity and the relationships we have.
Its contribution to our sense of place as I move from one place to another. Experiencing new realities, new experiences, new people who bring something new to the table – and those I remember and wish were still a part of my reality. Each phantom contributes to my continual fascination with reality, aesthetics, entropy and my insatiable appetite for mark making. The exploration of the cultural influences and contributions we all make with our interaction with contemporary society. Exploring through practice the research and thought exercises on those influences in our time, resulting from past moments in history – ancient and contemporary. The continual influence upon our present age and the resultant understanding of ourselves, individually and collectively, and our cultural development through the visual arts and the culture we each have contributed towards and become part of in some small way.
Adam R. Grose MA PGCE
 Susan Stewart, The Open Studio, (University of Chicago: Chicago, 2005) Pg 23. This passage deals with the aesthetics of ‘matching or mirroring’ reality as a form of narcissism and awakening the hidden realities brought to the work through the viewer’s previous experiences in life. I reference this piece purely for the realization that in previous work from the last 20 years I purposefully sought to bring about reactions within the viewer, to reveal the hidden realties we bring to a piece of work and how the artwork viewed awakens something within us and acts like a mirror in its effect to reflect something within us, rather then act as a gateway into another realm of existence – something explored through Dr Michael Paraskos’ New Aesthetics movement with the artist Clive Head.
During my time travelling in and around Cyprus and Spain I had begun to become increasingly aware of the many synchronisations which seemed to appear in these places. In such circumstances it appeared that whatever I had been thinking about during the week or a couple of days before, the object of these thoughts would materialise in some form, presenting an uncanny reality that either a) I was synced into some process of reality which was presenting something for me to take note, or b) it was all by strange chance.
Now, I know what some might think – however, as a scientifically-minded person I default to the avenue of ‘chance occurrences’ and that the only possible explanation is somehow, unconsciously, my thought process was already aware of something I was seeking, from the peripherals of memory, and over a given period of time it played itself out, until I became conscious of that reality through the presentation of the particular information, image, person or object. I equate this to the phenomenon that sometimes, after not seeing a particular object for a while, for example a type of car; i.e. Morris Minor, suddenly we see one and then we begin to notice more. For me this reveals a power of the mind in which our focus, whatever it be, is determined upon the reality we choose to be part of and incorporate into our day to day moments.
Two situations came to me during my travels through Spain:
1) Fluxus, an art movement which sought to break from the elite control of the art market, presented itself in two instances. Upon reflection I now realise it has followed ever since this art movement was presented to me from the artist and Senior Lecturer at Falmouth University, Gillian Wylde. When visiting the El Greco museum in Toledo, I happened to ‘get lost’ and come across the Synagog. I decided to take a look inside and there before me was the painting Shoah by Wolf Vostell. He is considered a pioneer of ‘Happenings and Fluxus’. Later, upon arriving in Bilbao, unknown to me before arriving, I happen to see a retrospective show was on at the Guggienheim of Yoko Ono’s work, who is also considered a leading member of Fluxus. Coincidence for sure – yet, at this time, I noted the message my mind was deciphering from this experience – ‘take note of Fluxus’.
2) During my time in Cyprus I had happened to come across the British Zen Philosopher Alan Watts on You Tube. Every now and then in the evening I would listen to some of his lectures, as I found these interesting, enlightening and full of humour. Later, during my travels in Spain I found myself being presented to artists, unknowingly, who had been influenced by Japanese Zen art and applying the principles to their practice. I came across Fernando Zobel (a retrospective book I pulled from La Fragua’s Library), Antonio Tápies, at the foundation in Barcelona and Eduardo Chillida, who I came across with Tápies and Zobel again in Bilbao at the exhibition on Japanese Art & Zen at the Museo Bellas de Artes and who also has a wide collection of contemporary art in the last gallery – an amazing space.
I mention these experiences purely because of the coincidence in coming across these artists, and that even though I am aware of their work and seen them over the years, I had not gone out of my way to see them in Spain, consciously. In some way, through subtle resonances to my past, it felt I had begun this pilgrimage through Spain because I needed to ‘see’. In a strange way it is though eventually we become aware of our inner-mind/ self/ being, and what it will make us aware of, once we stop and listen. For me, the multi-layered images I have been producing are symbolic of the multi-layered images of thought, held in the mind for years, and over time, as we allow ourselves to open up to the creative mind, fully, we are drawn on journeys into a multi-layered reality of the mind-set and we unknowingly follow a path we have already mapped out years before. The mass of similar events, together in our mind, overlapping to be played out in some future time.
Through these experiences I am becoming more aware how my mind relates and interprets my reality around me. Creating forms of drawing which explores and resonates the multi-layered reality of our world. Now, through practice-based research and the Art of Zen, I am beginning to see where the application of these ‘events’ I have been creating over the years is leading me. No refinement, no erasing, no habitual changes. Pure flow in the production of a mark on the surface – pure light vibrational energy – from sight to transference into a mark; one sweep of my arm, hand and tool upon a surface – producing an immediate response to a fleeting experience, recorded as a moment in time which has passed as quickly as it had appeared. An ephemeral, transient reality, suspended thought as a mark, a line, a dot, itself affected by the passage of time.