Constellation has been a blast this year, once again I was with Jonathan Clarkson, and I couldn’t have asked for a better tutor. The module that I undertook was ‘Puzzling out Contemporary Art’, and once again, it influenced my studio practice far more than I originally thought it would. As with last year, Minimalism’s wonder was showcased to me through constellation, and it inspired a series of minimalist sculptures and experiments within Gestalt Theory. This year, however, focused on the entirety of the scope of ‘contemporary art’, which entailed looking at the differing scopes of art in the contemporary world, and the way that it seems to be heading to in the future. One of the most important things that I learned during my time in constellation this year was during the lecture on ‘Installation’, in which a question was raised about the nature of installation Art; ‘Does an installation work only if a person experiences it?’ Now, this is a very intriguing concept, as the vast majority of installations that I enjoy seem to only work if someone is there to experience it; either consciously, or even subconsciously, and this ended up influencing my work for ‘Substance’ (which can be seen here; https://ethangrantdodd.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/substance-my-work/), even though I did not realise the full extent of the influence.
During the show, and in other abacus shows I have taken part in, people have interacted with my work in different ways. In ‘Hope’, the altar installation, a random man sat down and drank the wine. As he did, he pulled pages out of the bible and recited passages from it. Now, I did not know this man, but he experienced the work in a way unique to him, and made the work be experienced by others in a new and unique way to them. I was also influenced greatly by the two trips to London that we took on constellation, and the subsequent lecture on Anselm Kiefer. The way that Kiefer was fascinated by alchemy, mysticism, and the nature of cyclical metaphor within materials, prompted me to look at seemingly dead matter for my piece ‘Icarus’, which consisted of a group of wooden birds strung up and held aloft by wool, another dead material. As well as bringing back my interest in alchemy, and a greater interest in the mysticism that was prompted by Beuys, and is still being carried on within contemporary art today.The trip to London also allowed me to see the work of Richard Serra up close, and experience the density and weight that is inherent in his large scale, Steel sculptures. I was first introduced to Serra last year on a trip to Tate Modern with Constellation, and my interest once again flared up when I was prompted by Jonathan to go and see the work for myself when we went on the trip. It was stupendous, I have never experienced art like that before; the minimalist aesthetic, the decay of the rust on the surface of the steel, and the sheer weight and presence that each piece had…It was nothing short of mesmerising This prompted me to focus my interests on minimalism in relation to my dissertation, and the state of Art history during the latter half of the 20th Century. I have begun to look at how minimalism can be related to the ineffable nature of the cosmos, or to a deity, and aim to argue that minimalist artworks, with their simplistic aesthetic, prompt subjective reflection within each viewer that goes to see it; allowing them to meditate upon their own consciousness, almost as if they are reflecting religiously on themselves.