Documentation; 13/02/15

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Work flow has been pretty productive as of late, despite the majority of my focus being on the field module; Art & The Conscious mind, which has started to bleed into my subject work, inspiring new concepts within my work. As you can see above, I began to experiment more with a sense of ‘visual indeterminacy’ that has been pioneered by Robert Pepperell in his own work. After an intense research session on cancer and microscopic images of the disease, I began to experiment with a means of detailing this through watercolours, and began to explore the colours as the focus of the piece; how it shifts and blends with one another upon the paper.

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This then led into an experiment on some fabric I had left over from the previous project; working back with the idea of a black, tumorous form within an empty white space; I began to draw paint onto the fabric with fountain pen ink; which begins to bleed into a distinct purple hue. Utilising this interesting aspect of the ink as a means of shifting the shape and colour of the blackness created something very interesting upon the fabric; the purples reminiscent of necrosis within the flesh, of bruises, of a damaged body, of something dying. Purple is often associated within mourning and death, and it also combines these two opposing colours of blue and red, most commonly seen within the body, into it’s being. A harmonious combination, which can often symbolise death…fascinating.

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I also began to experiment with sculpture, after creating the dead stars in the summer (https://ethangrantdodd.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/dead-stars-290814/), I wanted to create something that was 3 dimensional, but could also symbolise this tumorous shape. These experiments with string and black emulsion were unsuccessful for the concept, yet began an interest within me in the ‘blackness’ of them. This aspect of ‘absence’, so commonly associated with death and with nothingness, is a very interesting colour; especially as it is not a colour, but rather the absence of colour within it. Within my field option, we began to explore the absence of stimulus within the mind, and the effects it has; hallucinations, insanity, discovery, all fascinating to me. I then began to explore and research ‘the void’, which is often defined as ‘nothingness’; I’ve been struggling with this concept for a while now, nothingness; how can one create corporeal nothingness? and how can I even begin to understand such a hard and contrived concept? Many artists have struggled with this throughout the years; Yves Klein, Rachel Whiteread etc. I feel like I am in a long line of artists attempting to discover this.

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I then began some experimentation with casting, more specifically, plaster casts of bags. I was inspired by this after viewing a plastic bag float along on the wind; a bag is a physical representation of a space, especially when one is tied, much like a cardboard box or a crate, but a bag is interesting as it is not a defined shape; it can shift and morph depending on what it is filled with. This sight, of this malleable shape being pushed along by something unseen, was a flash of inspiration, and I began to cast these forms. However, this lacks the blackness that I am searching for. A black hole, which consists of nothing, is not white, it is black. Therefore, black is the obvious colour scheme chosen for this project. Maybe I will try something black; wax, possibly mix a dye into the plaster? I am not sure yet, As other work has taken the reins at the moment.

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Voids; the initial brushstrokes crafted by myself, and then manipulated by forces out of my control, that of water and ink. This series of work has taken over my studio practice the past two weeks, there is something that draws me into this method of working. Some are prints of other pieces, printed straight from the still wet surface of another piece, whilst others are separate entities altogether. There are some really interesting pieces crafted in this manner, and the more I peer into the black, shapeless forms upon the paper, the closer I feel I am getting to the answer I seek.

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Last week, I had a  brief, impromptu tutorial with Susan Adams, she was wandering around the studios and talking to students about their studio practice at this time. She was drawn in by the heavily detailed, colourful tumours I created a few weeks ago, but was fascinated by the sheer amount of black forms plastering the walls and floor of my space. We began to talk about the difficulty I have been having with crafting something corporeal out of a concept that is, for the most part, undetectable by our human limits. A void, a Black hole, can only be witnessed by the effects it has on the space around it, it is invisible to our eyes. Art is often visual, how can I understand something like this? Susan, had some advice; ‘as an artist, you are crafting something corporeal, something physical, out of something seemingly unseen’. Of course! I have been crafting something out of this concept as a means of understanding it. We also discussed the connections between the bag sculptures; which create physical, heavy representations of nothingness, and the dark void paintings I have been making, as a means of understanding this nothingness.

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The two favourite voids I have made; the first representing a smouldering meteor, with the ‘void’ leaking out of the black core. The second, by accident, has a series of marks which appear much like japanese calligraphy, and making these pieces resemble the ‘enso’ that inspired my work last year.

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This image shows a series of paintings all made from one single painting; the resulting series of works were all printed from the one painting, and therefore all hold some form of intrinsic connection. I have been interested by the idea that our consciousness exists everywhere in the universe at the same time, as it is intrinsically linked to all of the other consciousnesses throughout our reality. Could this be a possible developmental point? A series of connections between seemingly unconnected objects?

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This idea of intrinsic connections between works, especially with the prints, has begun to be realised in a series of works I am making. Through my research, I discovered that the singularity that is present in the very epicentre of a black hole is the same as the singularity that was found at the beginning of the universe; some scientists believing that the energy present in these singularities causes a big bang in another reality, and therefore creating another universe in the ‘swiss cheese of reality’. Ashes to ashes, dusts to dust, singularity to singularity, nothing becomes becomes everything, and then reduces back down to nothing. This concept has pushed me to pursue a way of making work that extends from another piece before this. I have been creating a series of prints that are printed from the previous print, until the marks on the paper are minimalist and almost non existent on the paper. This idea of a piece that begins as a manifestation of nothing, and then returns to a manifestation of nothing, is very interesting to me. I will pursue this idea further, crafting more work in this vein.

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I also crafted a series of ceramic pieces roughly two weeks ago when attempting to craft physical representations of tumours. Unfortunately, they did not get put into the kiln when they were originally supposed to, and therefore came out a week later than expected. Nevertheless, they come out in an unexpected way; I have worked with porcelain before, but in this instance, I utilised string and wool within the forms so that they would be burnt away, and hopefully leave cavities within the porcelain like the veins that run through the tumours. Interestingly, the cavities were formed, but they were unlike the veins that I expected them to appear like. They actually resembled bone more than flesh, as if they were some extracted part of flesh stricken fro the body of a patient suffering with Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, in which the flesh and muscle of the victim slowly turns to bone, restricting their movement and eventually killing them. I will return to this sculptural aspect of the work in due time, but as of yet, the black voids are the most interesting part of my work flow.

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