Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Susan Hiller @ Timothy Taylor

Went to see this at Timothy Taylor Gallery before it finished on 20th Dec. Good description courtesy of KultureFlash:

This unmissable show presents two recent works and several older pieces from the celebrated American artist whose practice has forged a singular path through the elusive phenomena of dreams, mysticism and the occult. Hiller's recent series of photographic works scrutinizes the occult legacies of modernist art, considered in light of their ongoing presence in popular culture. Aura: Homage To Marcel Duchamp, takes Duchamp's 1910 Portrait Of Dr R Dumouchel as the starting point for a series of portraits which use a special photography technique to create phantasmagoric auras around their subjects. In bringing attention to the "mystical" aspect within a work by a modern icon, Hiller offers an ironic play on Walter Benjamin's prediction of the modern artwork's loss of aura. Also showing is her celebrated 1987 work Magic Lantern, in which a slow-moving projection of coloured discs and a soundtrack of a scientist commenting on the phenomenon of the voices of the dead, along with the voices of deceased famous figures such as James Joyce, offers a skilful play on the boundary between the scientific and the irrational, illusion and reality. Our favourite is From Here To Eternity, 2008: three projected screens of geometric labyrinths within which coloured balls move slowly and hypnotically, the artwork casting its own curious spell.

The thing is - descriptions of her work sound so interesting and I was excited to see the exhibition and although I thought the aura photographs were clever and I did think the labyrinths were hypnotising, it didn't leave a big impression on me :( bit too much hype not enough 'wow' this really hits you as important work kind of thing. Made me think that I need to be careful to make good work not just lots of theories!!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Wax Landscape (cont.)

Started placing the office furniture in the jungle - extended the scene and started to morph this dream into another one - idea for a long piece of work on a table top, maybe 3 or 4 metres with one scene after another joined together...

Monday, 15 December 2008


Here is todays work - feeling much better, I'm going to build this up and make a BIG scene - lots of capitals today!!!

That Obscure Object of Desire - Luis Bunuel

Amazing - complex surreal film. Great bit in the documentary about the choice of two actresses to play the same character - makes her even more ambiguous. Limits of improbability and impossibility, title - because when we desire we don't really know what we want in reality, its obscure and abstracted from it, and sometimes we want the desire itself - just that state which lifts us above the banality of life.

Famous dream sequence in The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie must watch when the characters are trapped on stage - wandering round in a flat world, lacking depth and without an exit. Same artificial dimension in That Obscure Object of Desire - colours too bright, false, actors looking into camera - locked in a fake world.

Ideas for set-like work - abstracted scale - false - restricted viewpoints - no exit.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Visualising Dreams

Tried to access Neuron journal through Athens but don't think article has been published yet - show me the pictures!!!!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Simone ten Hompel

Link to her profile at London Met

3D lecture this week by Simone ten Hompel. Very interesting and struck me as so craft based and having just been in the Mark Titchner lecture. To be honest it was difficult for me to engage with her as I felt so strongly that I agreed with the way Mark thought about his work to go straight into another lecture much more about love of materials did not inspire me - although I understand her passion for metal and her work certainly has plenty of intellectual content.

After lunch we had a group tutorial with her which was very challenging for all of us and really, probably just what we needed - i.e. need to be working much harder and sort out my proposal so my research question is absolutely clear and not just a vague ambiguous subject area.

Mark Titchner

Turner Prize 2006 link
Really liked his talk about his work. Some interesting points I could identify with.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Peter Callesen - work description

Very eloquent critique of Peter Callesen's work


By Pontus Kyander

* * *

All narratives unfold in a space. Normally, both the unfolding aspect and the spatial are to be taken metaphorically: the space indicated is a mental one, one that has to be imagined, and the unfolding is a way of describing how the writer arranges the storyline to evolve in all those twists and turns we know from literature. The story has to be interpreted and re-narrated by the reader, in his mind. Sometimes, and sometimes not, the miracle of reading brings us to unforgettable moments, full of images brought out from our own mind and memories.

The space in visual narratives is mental as well as physical. Again, there is a story to be reconstructed, but the images are there instead of letters. It is an easy way to evade the cumbersome act of description (an image is not a description, it is a reality in itself), but places the viewer in the position to have to re-enact the narrative. Visual narratives are somewhat more open-ended than the stories told in books, in particular if we talk of singular images and singular objects.

Peter Callesen’s paper works are literally results of folding – and cutting. On top of a story that include various symbols that we recognise from fairy tales and other archetypical storytelling, and thus integrating all those narratives that we know from reading books and watching films about castles and princesses and monsters and darkness and a lot of other things, he also brings in the story of the work itself. This is not just a castle, it is a castle that tells you how it was made. All laid bare, the start, the process, and the final result. In that sense, the work is narrative, but also performative. Object and action at the same time. The act of viewing is a re-enactment, and an act of unfolding the folded, uncutting the cut.

The Contemporary Theory of Dreaming


What we call The Contemporary Theory of Dreaming involves several basic propositions, amenable to study:

1. Dreaming is hyper-connective. In dreams connections in the mind are made more readily and more broadly than in waking.

2. The connections are not random. They are guided by the dominant emotion or emotional concern of the dreamer.

3. The dream imagery, especially the CI (Central Image or Contextualizing Image) pictures the dreamer’s emotion or concern. The intensity of the CI is a measure of the power of the emotion.

4. Dreaming can be considered one end of a continuum of mental functioning, running from focused waking thought, through less focused thought, reverie, daydreaming and finally dreaming. The influence of emotion and picturing of emotion, above, occur throughout the continuum, but become most pronounced at the dreaming end of the continuum.

5. The emotion-guided making of connections probably has a function or several related functions. Dreaming “weaves in” or integrates new material, so that it becomes integrated and less disturbing. A new trauma for instance, will be less disturbing if a similar trauma has already been “woven in”. Aside from this basic function, the connection-making of dreaming can of course play a role in self-knowledge, in artistic and scientific creativity, and in therapy.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Joey Morgan

The Man Who Waits and Sleeps
While I Dream

(1997) multi media installation at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

essay by Jeanne Randolph

I became interested in exploring dreams as the primary material of all narrative structures -- the first awkward stories we tell our own selves before our conscious selves can censor them.

Drawing on observation techniques from a 19th century sleep disorders clinic the work poses a charged but unexpressed intimacy between a professional observer and her sleeping charge.

In the main gallery space, a large video projection of an impossibly deep drain is surrounded by images, text, and sound. These elements tumble together in random sequences of narrative structure, and become source material for a kind of "conversation." The video excerpt is shown in an observation alcove, where the voice-over soundtrack can be heard through headphones.

This piece is built from a series of projections. Physically, the images are projected in different scales on all sides of the room; Psychologically, the projections are contained within the voice over as the observer projects her own thoughts and neuroses onto the sleeping subject. These projections can also be seen as metaphors for the exchange between artist and viewer; between separation and longing; between lovers; between the conscious and sub-conscious within ourselves. The viewer walks between the elements of the work, putting together a particular understanding based on the randomness of his own physical placement in the room. –– One has to be somewhere to be at all involved and so we bring to any story our own personal and cultural assumptions, interpreting not only the language of the narrative, but images and sensations as well.

A door knocker on the periphery serves as a hard physical presence into and away from the projected overlays in the rooms.


Thursday, 4 December 2008


Having real problems with ideas - i.e. NONE. Spoke briefly to Paul Tebbs at Wilson Rd - good. Real sticking point in my head since group crit - why is this interesting? Why are my dreams interesting to other people?!
Look at other people's work about dreams that I like - why to I like their work? Clues to why mine would interest other people. Need a faster way to make things - bronze too long at this stage - papier mache?

Nice thought about illusion/mirage/mirrors.....

Chelsea MA Lectures: Culture, Taste and Identity

MA Cluster lecture at Chelsea - *think* it was by Frank Cartledge but not sure.

Started with the 1980s Ferrero Rocher advert. Artifacts as signifiers. John Brewer - Consumer Society. Raymond Williams - Culture & Society (1958)
keywords - vocabulary of culture and society. historical semantics - meanings not fixed.
Culture has been defined as having the most complex meaning of any word in English!
Etymology - meaning of a word, route over time. Culture is derived from the latin word colere meaning to honour, to worship and to tend to natural growth, cultivate. In religious meaning, honour, special treatment.

Matthew Arnold -

"Social criticism

He was led on from literary criticism to a more general critique of the spirit of his age. Between 1867 and 1869 he wrote Culture and Anarchy, famous for the term he popularised for the middle class of the English Victorian era population: "Philistines", a word which derives its modern cultural meaning (in English - the German-language usage was well established) from him. Culture and Anarchy is also famous for its popularization of the phrase "sweetness and light," first coined by Jonathan Swift. [21]"

Think the point I was making here was that as the inspector of schools he developed the idea, special treatment, medium in which minds grow - primary way for this to happen was through education.

There are three contextual definitions of 'culture':

1. The 'IDEAL' pursuit of perfection, 'the best that has been thought in the world'. Matthew Arnold. Body of knowledge. 18th -19th century - colonialism, superiority of UK/Germany thinking. Snobs, the reason they have time for all this reading is because they are the bourgeoisie and have all the time in the world to read books and become intellectual as they don't have to work and do chores etc. Believed in the high points of human social evolution - Egyptians, Mesopotamia, Rome etc. Hierarchical structure largely responsible for the volume of Museums and Public Galleries now in the world, in major cities to expose people to the best that has become a better society. Critics would say whose taste is the best and who should decide? This filtering linked to institutions - mainstream acceptance etc.

2. DOCUMENTARY - the works and practices of intellectual and especially artistic activity. Most museums collect significant artefacts to culture - ignoring others. Mostly happening in the 19th C they were distinguishing between high culture and non culture.

3. SOCIAL - whole way of life, complex whole. Darwin, evolution - simple to complex (they used 'Darwin' but this is not what he was saying). Chauvinistic, Imperialism. E B Tylor - Primitive Culture - led the way for anthropology.

Social - small c
Ideal - big C

Pierre Bourdieu - Ideal Culture, elitist, imperialist is needed to bring back to everyday life social practices - to rejoin these ideas. He introduces new concept - Cultural Capital. What you acquire by being educated and born in a particular social class - culturally conditioned.

It is a myth that only naturally gifted individuals (bourgeoisie) can appreciate high culture. Pompous "I just have a feeling that this artist is good, I just know!"

Habitus - body manners, way in which we speak, walk, talk, formed by where you grow up.

Pyramid of Capitalist System. Adverts for commodities are perfect texts to show cultural object signs and as a viewer you have to know these. Kantian formulation of the aesthetic. Paradoxical ways in consumer societies fixed onto objects that aren't posh at all, short cuts to higher class. Raymond Williams - this magical system of advertising that you know the Sherry isn't high class but we are somehow still seduced by it! Subliminal?

Vulgar and Refined tastes

Ideology - ruling beliefs of the ruling classes.
Naturalisation - saying the rulers opinion should be everyone's.

By expressing your own view you are revealing your own background - taste.
In post-Kantian Europe there was the Ideal definition of Culture, sensations of the body are seen as the poor relation to sensations of the mind. This is a Western tradition. Body seen closer to animal, body, corporeal, taste (mouth) food. Kant (enjoy at a distance - not led by urges). Bourdieu - this appreciation distance puts you on a higher intellectual plane than the profane.

As mentioned above the Bourgeoisie developed the mystification of artistic appreciation - denying that their taste is acquired its just a natural thing - 'I just know its a Pollock!'

Formalism - Clive Bell

he claimed that nothing else about an object is in any way relevant to assessing whether it is a work of art, or aesthetically valuable. What a painting represents, for example, is completely irrelevant to evaluating it aesthetically. Consequently, he believed that knowledge of the historical context of a painting, or the intention of the painter is unnecessary for the appreciation of visual art. He wrote: "to appreciate a work of art we need bring with us nothing from life, no knowledge of its ideas and affairs, no familiarity with its emotions"

Member of the Bloomsbury Group. Which possibly led to abstraction in arts. Arguments against this by Herbert Marcuse in One Dimensional Man 50s.

Cultural Codes

Works of art are encoded products like a language. Communication vessels from sender (artist) to receiver (audience). Encoding/decoding 70s. Now Formalism would say that you just 'know', snobby and you would be vulgar if you don't 'get it'.

George Kubler - The Shape of Time
Adam Curtis - films for tv

Walter Benjamin & Marxism

BA Cluster lecture by Paul O'Kane

Important Philosopher/Writer 1892-1940. Jewish, Marxist, German. Most important essay - 'The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction.'

Had fragmented interests and he was very interested in engaging in the world/history in a very immediate and personal way. (For example - instead of viewing Communism from afar and making unformed judgements - he went to Russia and walked around the streets to understand what it was like for the people). Active between the First and Second World Wars. Overarching questions he was dealing with - What is the Modern world? Where has it come from? and where will it lead?

His writing has influenced the artistic way of thinking. Imaginative ways to think about liberty and justice. Disrupting the immediate reality of the world (i.e. walking round Marseilles stoned!)

Obviously in the political climate in Germany between the World Wars, with the rise of Hitler, as a Jew he was occupied with the rejections of traditional religious values in Modernist society. God is dead? With this loss of direction in society, people became fearful and in this mind set they were more likely to follow a totalitarian leader.

He was also interested in Mysticism of experience - new technology of photography had been invented. Almost spiritual quality to walking around a city on your own - cities can be an intoxication. Allowing non rational forces, chance, surrealism. Only way to live our life through the artistic experience?
Admired Dada and Surrealism. Feared Fascism formed synthesis of Jewish religion and Marxist promise, Neo-Marxism. Just future through Modernity.

Underpinning his theory was the fact that the world is never exactly what you thought it would be, you have to be a child and re-learn through direct imperial experience.

Frankfurt School - beginning of the term Critical Theory, New Left, Max Weber

Cultural Studies - method of approaching imaginative critique - responsibility to history - where are we heading by looking at everyday life.

Under the influences of Photography, Film, Mass Production art has undergone a transformation of values - new paradigm. Art used to be purely for religious reasons, to serve god, esoteric (Esoteric knowledge, in the dictionary (non-scholarly) sense, is thus that which is available only to a narrow circle of "enlightened", "initiated", or specially educated people) role, elitist, aesthetic, beauty, the senses.

Now, art has a political value in the 20th C. Dada - anti-aesthetic - maximum political value. Duchamp - Beauty is dead. Photography has enabled the masses to share in art, whereas in the past only the privileged few could see the paintings, now through books and reproductions everyone can see say Sunflowers by Van Gogh. (Ways of Seeing - John Berger).

Now critical thinkers like Nicholas Bourriard are fashionable, that there are no aesethetics, art is to bring people together in galleries - one of the last places where strangers talk to each other to discuss the work? Interestingly went to Seizure room at E&C day after this talk and its true - had a big discussion with about eight people during looking round which would never happen in London normally!)
Paul even arguing that there is a complete reversal with art becoming completely political and politics having aesethetic values (for example Nazism - look at the films of political rallies with the uniforms and flags).

Coming back to Walter Benjamin - of course, Nazism is a complete antithesis of Benjamin. (Alone,walking, individual discovery, intoxication, letting go).

He became a fugitive in the 30s. A very shy, unassuming man. Went to Paris - Arcades Project. Surreal wanderings - important that kept as fragments - didn't try to pull it together. Exploring the avenues of possibility in everyday things - open your imaginative eyes.

1940 - so sad, refused entry to Spain so committed suicide at the border and then the following day they were going to let him through.

His popularity now is because of his antithesis to Nazism - philosophy of artists - individualism - an accomodation of the volidatity of Modernity.

Contemporary artists influenced by him? Jeff Wall, Warhol (possibly from mech. essay), Katerina Fritch. READ THIS ABOUT HER WORK AGAIN - ELEMENTS FROM DREAMS.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

trAin lecture - Japanese Contemporary Art

Fragments of our time by Mami Kataoka.

Outstanding lecture by this international curator gave me a really good snapshot of Japanese contemporary art from 60s-70s to today. Its a common misconception that Japanese art is all about manga and animation (& sushi!). Partly because Takeshi Murakami's work has had such a big influence (see below). Its an interesting topic how ones culture is translated into another.

She started by showing that there are links between the major cities having the Olympics and then international expo's a few years after which is like a springboard and motivator, bringing international attention and economic growth to that country i.e.

JAPAN - 1964 Tokyo Olympics, 1970 Osaka Expo (64 million visitors)
SOUTH KOREA - 1988 Seoul Olympics, 1993 Taejon Expo
CHINA - 2007 Beijing Olympics, 2010 Shanghai Expo

There were some major postwar art movements:

Gutai (1954)
Bringing raw materials such as concrete to intimate relationships with the body. Performance, famous work by Saburo Murakami - breaking through paper gates. Introduced to the West by a French critic as being part of Art Informel (which wasn't quite right) they were encouraged as painters so performance and installation work declined. Major influence to the Fluxus movement.
Key artists:
Jiro Yoshihara
Saburo Murakami
Kazuo Shiraga

Fluxus (in late 50s early 60s some artists left Japan for New York)
Key artists:
Yoko Ono
Mieko Shiomi
Takeshia Kosugi
Kuniharu Aoyama
Toshi Khiyanagi

High Red Center (Tokyo) 1963-64
Named after the first Chinese characters this short movement had three core members:
Jiro Takamatsu
Genpei Akasegawa
Natsuyuki Nakanishi
and through performance, humour and teasing the attitude of the government their work explored political and economic issues within the social system.

Mono-Ha (late 60s to mid 70s)
Working with natural objects and/or materials they juxtaposed objects to create very subtle work - much of it very site specific.
Key artists:
Nobuo Sekine
Lee Ufan
Kishio Suga

All these movements are linked by their improvised and intuitive nature, using mostly natural materials.

In the 1990s the major economic crash in Japan had a huge effect. As children born in the 60s they were the first generation brought up with tv and had been exposed to popular culture from a young age. They were also much more well travelled than older generations and had a more international outlook. Before the 1990s it was generally only possible to exhibit work by hiring a gallery space which was usually quite expensive. From the 90s onwards the first gallery agents started appearing and offered emerging artists an alternative route to exhibit their work to a wider audience.

Takeshi Murakami began his career with an exhibition at Parco Gallery in 1999, his international career really took off when in 2001 he went to LA. From his book: the value of art should be raised by statement. The client for the art is glorious millionaires. You must know the structure of the art world for survival. You must know how to brand your own history and understand the context of international standards.

Tradition and Popular Culture
Contemporary artists are using traditional concepts like Sotatsu Tawaraya's work (17th century). Juxtaposing tradition and contemporary culture.

Mariko Mori - I had already referenced her in an earlier post!
Akira Yamaguchi

Hisashi Tenmyoya
Makota Aida
Seeking for their actuality in their everyday life
Tsuyoshi Ozawa - vegetable guns
Shimabuku - octopus tour

For children born in the 70s in the second baby boom - they went through a very competitive childhood and upon graduation met the economic crash. With jobs scarce some returned to school to gain more technical skills, to become specialists. The IT revolution also brought new jobs. (There are not many natural resources in Japan and the economy relies on technology. In 1984 there was a major shift and new ideology within government towards flexible, small and compact.)
New words like - Freeter, Parasite single and NEET entered the language to describe people who didn't have a job - stayed at home.

Teppei Kaneuji - person from hairpieces.

The advent of the internet allowed the re appropriation of images, with less sense of authorship more work composed of second hand materials and images started (collage).

Koki Tanaka - *think* these are the video art pieces, fragmenting the present tense by showing an installation of the aftermath of an event, then the event on video in the next room.

Ujino - all the objects that rotate. Is having exhibition next yr 09 at Hayward.

Labour/craft intensive works
Otaku (movement)
Manabu Ikeda
Akino Kondoh - animation with 3,000 drawings

Yoshino Masui - swirls with horses/birds
Konoike Tomoko
Mika Kato - doll portraits
Motohiko Odani - weird video at Venice Biennale
Chiharu Shiota

Ambiguous boundaries between fantasy & reality

Toru Kuwakubo - ships and holes, paintings
Ryuta Ohtake - big and small painting, pair
Hiraki Sawa - lives in London, Chisenhale Gallery - aeroplanes in flat - LOVE IT!

New relationship with society
Chim Pom (group 1 girl, 5 boys)

Monday, 1 December 2008

Jeremy Wood - GPS work

Just remembered about this - guy at Tenderpixel Gallery was telling me about his work. Finally looked it up - v. interesting would like to do this myself! Could track me getting lost all over London!

What is reality?

good old wikipedia!

Ceal Floyer

Door, 1995

Light projected onto the crack underneath the door, making you think that something interesting is happening on the other side but you can't see it, whereas the light is coming from the projector so its an illusion - saw it at Kettle's Yard - cool.

Staircase Ideas