Mission Aborted: The Virtual Cyberflanerie Experience Piece

I had to abandon this idea as it was far too complex for me and time consuming. I used a set of YouTube tutorials to help but they were something like a 6 part playlist with each video lasting around 1 hour.

It was going to be similar to Langlands and Bell’s interactive video/animation pieces. Like their pieces it was going to be navigable via a joystick. I used Blender and Unity to create it. The wall’s in this virtual space were going to be not walls but the surrounding cyberspace. You can see how the navigable space like rooms in a building was a very rough version of the cyberflanerie map.

unity

 

Posted in Masters Final Project, Psychogeography | Leave a comment

Summarising My Route Map Through Altermodernism and Psychogeography

There are various intersections between Altermodernism and psychogeography and various ways in which it inspired and contextualises my practice.

 

Altermodernism essentially re-energised my practice, opening my eyes to many possibilities. The concepts of Heterochronia, Energy, Travel and Archives were inspirational.

Heterochronia is the co-presence of different time periods in everyday life, which can help us understand contemporary times and what we’re contemporary of. It’s very similar to the psychogeography of Mark Rainey who views history as all jumbled up, a view which I embraced. Likewise it echoes Jonathan Jones in his Guardian review of the Altermodern Tate Triennial: that we live in a science-fiction age but still with the old clutter of before.

Travel describes artists searching for the unseen or unknown in their own environment or further afield, documenting their journey and discoveries, creating art from them. I can see parallels here with Iain Sinclair, which adds a psychogeographic dimension to this concept.

This, for my practice, tied in with the concept of Energy – the potential for art to be created out of the whole continuum of art practice, not simply working towards a ‘final piece’. It’s influenced by contemporary concerns over sustainability, being more resourceful with art practice. One particular artist who inspired my MLSE projection piece was Loris Gréaud with Where Tremors Forever, where he recorded his brain as he thought about plans for an upcoming exhibition.

With Archives the past is used as part of an understanding of the present. It’s not an archive in the traditional sense, but the chaining together of similar things from different historical periods. Again, this resembles the writings of Mark Rainey.

These concepts have obvious resonance with my work. The value of the past and the realisation that time doesn’t have to be viewed as linear, which enabled me to adopt a pick-and-mix strategy to approaching and applying psychogeographic tradition to my own work and philosophy, and the mixing of imagery relating to different periods of time.

 

Bourriaud’s lecture The Problematic of Time in Contemporary Art was a significant inspiration for utilising archaeology in my practice, which was bolstered by the Journey-Form: Expeditions and Parades chapter of The Radicant (see below). Bourriaud describes Modernist art as refusing to dig into the canvas, with focus being on the surface, flatness and planes, but recently the proliferation of historical documents in art has resulted in the emergence of the figure of the archaeologist. Archaeologists use plans to locate themselves within space and time – both archaeology and history are used to understand the present. One artistic example is Robert Smithson’s Hotel Palenque in which he analyses the hotel, learning about its history and location, focusing on the traceability of the present. Parallels between archaeology and my practice were drawn to articulate my investigation into Huddersfield.

 

The Journey-Form is a complex subject in its own right, which Bourriaud breaks down into various chapters in The Radicant: Expeditions and Parades, Topology and Temporal Bifurcations.

 

In Expeditions and Parades Bourriaud notes contemporary artists borrow various aspects of the Journey-Form: it’s forms, iconography and methods. The reason the Journey-Form is commonly used today is because of globalisation: the democratisation of tourism, widespread commuting and the proliferation of screens in everyday life, particularly the Internet and subsequent web surfing, which prompted me to explore cyberflânerie.

Expeditions involve a motive (knowledge), an imaginary setting (the history of exploration linked to the present) and a structure (collections – samples along a path like Gelitin’s Klumpatsch (The Ride) or Francis Alÿs’ journeys through Mexico in 1991).

 

In relation to my practice, several aspects of the Journey-Form can be seen: forms (the concept of cyberflânerie and mapping it, and Altermodern Energisation of the journey of my practice), iconography (the jungle of cyberspace, exploration of the terra incognita or uncharted territory of the little known reality of Huddersfield’s industry), and its methods (cyberflâneur and psychogeographer as an explorer, and archaeology).

My expedition involves the motive of uncovering the truth of Huddersfield’s industry, the imaginary setting is my place within psychogeographic tradition and archaeology updated for contemporary times, and a structure which is artworks that act as collections of findings and samples.

One artist who uses the Journey-Form is Pierre Huyghe in A Journey That Wasn’t. Based on the rumour of an Antarctic albino penguin, Huyghe and his team investigate. The journey becomes art itself, a Journey-Form.

Similarly, my practice was based on MLSE footage shown in a lecture. The prospect of Huddersfield’s industry being no more was enough to conduct an investigation with forms, including Journey-Forms, being born out of the expedition.

 

In the chapter Topology the Journey-form is linked to the iconography of displacement, since journeys are non-static. Global displacement is a reality, linked to multiplication via the Internet and its myriad of sites. Browsing the Internet is an everyday example of displacement and multiplication is experienced all the time.

Flânerie and cyberflânerie are defined by their displacement so it’s very much relevant to today. With my practice displacement is referenced and induced via QR Codes intended for the viewer to access various websites by scanning them.

 

There is also a form of alternative mapping in contemporary art, found in Franz Ackermann’s paintings. This alternative mapping, like the contemporary equivalent of landscape painting, focuses on the experience of space, hence it’s close link to psychogeography. Similarly, my colour specimens depict not just the appearance of industrial sites, but their psychogeography, the products they manufacture and their significance regarding local identity.

 

In Temporal Bifurcations Bourriaud addresses the relevance of the past. Nowadays nothing disappears and everything is archived. Space and time have now merged and exchanged properties. One example is tourism, which involves a temporary change of scenery via geographic distance. Just like Berlin’s appeal being based on historical divisions of space and society, Huddersfield’s appeal might be the presence of Victorian Britain – this was a defining factor of my investigation (the relationship Huddersfield’s current industry has to its past). This merging of space and time can also be seen in the writings of Mark Rainey. Likewise, Bourriaud’s describes Winifred G Sebald’s stories as illustrations of collective memory and past events haunting and shaping the present and spaces. Travel helps us to access the past via historic buildings, museums, monuments, hotel rooms and conversations, which can be seen in Robert Smithson’s Hotel Palenque and Iain Sinclair’s books. In Merlin Coverley’s Psychogeography he profiles Sinclair as part urban wanderer, local historian, avant-garde activist and political debater. Sinclair has aspects in common with the Surrealist drifts of Breton and Aragon, who unearth hidden aspects of cities as they drift and sample ambiences, but not Situationist theory.

Contemporary artists interact with history through time travel, using nomadic forms – one such form, in my case, is cyberflânerie. As a result archaeology plays an important role in contemporary art practice, due to its mixing of time and space.

 

In the chapter Urban Wandering Bourriaud notes the imagery of urban is omnipresent in contemporary art. Just as Impressionists were fascinated by the ‘becoming world’ of industrialisation, so artists are fascinated by the ‘becoming world’ of post-industrial city life. Likewise, I explore the presence of cyberflânerie, facilitated by the ‘becoming world’ of the Internet as part of everyday life and the ‘becoming world’ of a new phase of British manufacturing based on luxury goods.

Artistic fascinations with the ‘becoming world’ are tied to modernity and thus precariousness, as modernity constantly transforms our world. Baudelaire called these figures artiste mutants – flâneur artists who mutate to reflect the ever-changing world we inhabit.

Thus contemporary fascination of the ‘becoming world’ is linked to modernity and precariousness. These artists are what Baudelaire called the artiste mutant. These artists mutate to reflect the ever-changing nature of modernity and are the flâneurs of the art world, which makes me an artiste mutant. Contextual justification for the use of flânerie comes from artists such as Gabriel Orozco in Yielding Stone, John Miller in Middle of the Day and Kendell Geers in Suburbia, who depict the status of flânerie in the 21st century.

 

At the end of Exploration Through Practice I felt there was more mileage in the subjects I had explored but I was unsure as to how to explore it further. Finding a route map through Altermodernism and psychogeography nourished a continuum of practice throughout the Final Major Project, providing inspiration, contextualising and clarifying areas I had touched upon.

 

 

Posted in Altermodernism, Masters Final Project, Psychogeography | Leave a comment

Cyberflanerie Map

This is my mapping of cyberflânerie. Just like everything else, nothing went smoothly. The first issue was during printing. The fluorescent perspex came with a protective film on both sides. I took off the film on the side the image was to be printed on, leaving it on the back for fear it might scratch when put into the UV printer. We did the first coat but the colours weren’t very strong. The blue colour of the Perspex seemed to be tinting all the colours, so we did a second coat. My heart nearly stopped when I saw the result. It was way too dark. After asking the technician whether we could do a white silhouette like we did on the linen canvas prints then do it again to get the right colours, it became apparent we could do it but the QR codes would no longer be transparent. They would be white. Then I remember somebody having a eureka moment and as we removed the film of the back and the image got some light behind it, it became apparent that it had worked perfectly. I aged 10 years that day.

Another problem was presented after the print had been finished I took it down to Queen Street to be laser cut when I was told it couldn’t be done. The laser would destroy the print. It was a nasty shock. I should’ve cut the Perspex before I had it printed onto. He did however tell me he could use a saw machine to cut it which he did and it turned out very well. It does need sanding with a bit of wet and dry sandpaper but apart from that it’s great.

A friend lent me a black light which as you can see illuminates the fluorescent Perspex in an electric blue very nicely.

P1080591 P1080590 P1080589

Posted in Masters Final Project, Psychogeography | Leave a comment

Cotton Colour Specimens (Encaustic Pieces)

These cotton colour specimens were printed using the textile department’s digital printer with help from Laura, another member of the textile staff. She showed me a variety of different fabrics that could be used but we settled on a type of pure cotton that has quite a fine texture to it, after I told her I planned to do some waxwork over the top of the image. The pieces came out very well. I was pleasantly surprised at the strength of the colours and the crispness of the lines.

Originally this idea featured printing my colour specimens onto fabric, then applying an image transfer, to depict the ghosts of the past in the present-day textile industry of Huddersfield, then applying layers of wax, paint and images relating to the narrative of 20th century deindustrialisation. This deindustrial/post-industrial layer would then be ‘excavated’ archaeologically, symbolising how by, scratching underneath the surface, the truth of Huddersfield’s industry was unearthed. An industry, which on the surface, appears to be dead and gone to most of the town’s inhabitants, is proven to be very much alive.

The layering was inspired by the Altermodern concept of Heterochronia, the mixing of various periods of time in a non-linear, more truthful fashion.

The first pictures you see are of an abandoned mill in Huddersfield, which, after reflecting critically, wasn’t the right picture to choose to evoke the ghosts of the past.
It seems as though the film of the photo paper is what transfers it onto the fabric. I tried using white spirit instead of water but it didn’t work. I thought it might produce a stronger image when in fact it didn’t even transfer. I did lots of testers just to get an understanding of how to transfer the image successfully.

P1080649 P1080652 P1080646 P1080644 P1080639 P1080638 P1080636 P1080656

This tester involved adding layers that symbolized deindustrialisation which were then symbolically removed to reveal the true state of Huddersfield’s textile industry. Layers depict red (left wing) and blue (right wing) politics clashing, redundancy protests, uniform black to symbolize the death of the industry, rust, peeling paint and graffiti. Two faults emerged from this layering. Firstly it was suggested that it was too literal, secondly, after ‘excavating’ the encaustic piece, it looked appalling. The clash of hard reds and blues with yellows, greens, browns was too much. It couldn’t work. A simplified version would be opted for instead: a simple layering of wax, then rust, then peeling paint.

P1080621

I did a variety of try-outs for the different stages. The image transfers below were pictures from Antich & Sons’ page on the textile industry’s history in the town, printed on photo paper. The fabric was brushed briefly with water, the image placed on top, the fabric and photograph were turned over together, and then brushed for several minutes with water and a hairdryer was used to speed up the process. Without the hairdryer it took about half a day to transfer. Then I wiped the transfer with kitchen roll to get a clearer image.
One serious issue was that, even though the images were printed on the Grayscale setting on the printer, when the images were transferred and then the kitchen roll used to wipe it off, the resulting transfer was pink. I had to wipe the image as the transfer, which was black and white at this stage, was too blurry. The solution I found was to print out the image on plain paper, then put it through a photocopier, the photocopied image was then printed onto photo paper. Photocopiers only use black ink and it worked like a dream. An added bonus was a grainier image which added to these historical images, giving them a bit more of a genuine feel, and resulted in a more ephemeral and aesthetic transfer. I found that I could also reduce the strength of the transfer by rubbing it with a damp dishcloth, which came in handy for the Camira piece, as before wiping with the cloth, it was too obvious who the letter was from and what it was about. With the cloth I obscured all but one of the letter’s mention of “Their Majesties”.

P1080657 P1080655 P1080654 P1080653 P1080651 P1080650 P1080648 P1080647 P1080645 P1080643 P1080641 P1080642 P1080632

P1080631 P1080630

P1080627

P1080628

 

 

P1080626

 

P1080625

P1080620

The try out below was the first image transfer to be done on the cotton fabric (it was an off cut) from the original print out and it worked very well, much to my relief.

P1080623     P1080622   P1080619 P1080618 P1080617 P1080615 P1080614 P1080611 P1080610 P1080609 P1080607

I got into great difficulty turning the iron filings into rust. I’d done many testers before so I knew it worked fine. But for the final pieces, knowing that the crust of rust can be very fragile and crack, I applied a layer of glue on the wax before adding the iron filings to rust. I chose a glue stick over PVA as the PVA said on the label it was ‘washable’, so I thought when I spray the water it’ll just dissolve the glue, defeating the object of using it. However, after two days of spraying the filings with water again and again, nothing was happening. I noticed it was parts that were rusting were where it was hard to run a glue stick over due to it being a bumpy surface. It was obvious the glue stick was stopping the iron rusting.
After removing the iron filings, I added a second layer of wax and this time using PVA glue, and tried again. After a day, there was a small amount of rust appearing but not nearly enough. I wondered if a hairdryer might speed up the process and, within less than a minute of using the hairdryer a good amount and colour of rust appeared. This was quite a relief. I could control the process of rusting myself rather than being at the mercy of atmospheric conditions. There was a snag in that the wax melted if I left the hairdryer on it too long and the wax soaked into the filings and changing the colour to a very dark brown, so it had to be a gradual process.

Afterwards I added PVA glue to some parts, then while it was still tacky, the emulsion paint. Cracks appeared which I used to peel off as in the experimental piece above. Despite applying PVA underneath the iron filings, cracks were still occurring, making it very difficult to peel off the emulsion paint, so I covered the cracks in spray mount as the rust broke up. I discovered it produced quite an interesting effect, not dissimilar from mould or lichen. I took advantage of this and sprayed it to rust and paint. I found that after I applied the paint it still wasn’t what I would call visually interesting or appealing. The addition of spray mount and subtle use of black spray paint I think enhanced the aesthetics considerably.

The repeated use of water has made the cotton crinkle, but I will iron this out, ready for exhibiting.

Posted in Colour Specimens, Masters Final Project | Leave a comment

Linen Canvas Colour Specimens

P1080568 P1080596 P1080598 P1080600 P1080601 P1080603Some of the Colour Specimens will be shown as linen canvas pieces, as seen below, printed on the UV printer with help from textile technician Linda. It’s a great piece of kit and I was dead happy with the finished product. Great colours and I like the fact it’s slightly textured as it, in certain lights gives it a sheen with adds a real depth. It allows you to get lost within the pieces.

A white silhouette of the image is laid down first then the actual image on top to give a strong colour and to reduce the texture of the canvas slightly. To get a colour similar to that which was on my screen on Adobe Illustrator, we had them printed twice.

There has been a problem in that after the time it took for refinement of the colour specimens which I found really quite difficult, there was only a limited window to get the linen canvas pieces printed. To make things worse, me and technician got seriously confused about my cyberflanerie map which I’ll elaborate on in another post and the UV printer wasn’t aligning properly so not everything is as I would like it to be.

I was told the UV printer would be up and running from the 1st Sept, but unfortunately the ink has expired so more has had to be ordered. Now it looks as though printing won’t be possible until Monday, so it’ll be ready for assessment but not for this blog’s submission.

Posted in Colour Specimens, Masters Final Project | Leave a comment

MLSE Animation Update

This was created on Adobe Premiere which is actually a really easy program despite looking quite challenging upon opnening it for the first time. I just used this tutorial video to help: http://vimeo.com/46218664

Compared to the last attempt which was done on Photoshop the quality is far higher. I exported it as 1080p which I gather is a very high quality from a little online investigating so it should work well on a projection.

The animation has hypnotic feel once you daydream in front of it. It has the intended optical feel of pulsating lasers. Unfortunately I can’t seem to upload the file to wordpress so as a subtitute I’ve had to do another GIF hence the poor quality. But at least you can seem something resembling the proper file.

Animation

Posted in Masters Final Project | Leave a comment

The Radicant: Urban Wandering

This took several goes to actually get my head around it but I’ve figured out the role of artiste mutant now.

 

Life in big cities is omnipresent in contemporary art. Imagery of streets, stores, markets, buildings, vacant lots, crowds and interiors is everywhere. Artists are fascinated by the transformation of this environment and the ‘becoming world’, e.g. post-industrialisation. It’s like the 19th century Modernists depicting the ‘becoming world’ of industrialisation and urban life. These two are also like me depicting the ‘becoming world’ of cyberspace which has recently become so prominent in everyday life. The streets of the city are like the pathways through cyberspace, stores might be websites, crowds might be viewing figures and comments. I have explored Internet iconography like artists use urban iconography.

Precariousness is linked to the artiste mutant. Precariousness is also omnipresent in contemporary art, linked to modernity: the fleeting, ever-changing nature of modernity, the shifting ‘crowd’ (changing habits of society).

Precariousness = mobility = modernity. Precarious art = modernity art.

Baudelaire’s artiste mutant he regarded as a man of the whole world, who understands it and all its uses.

The artiste mutant reflects the reality of modernity – the changing nature of modernisation, reflecting the mutating qualities of life (modernity).

The artiste mutant is a flâneur who’s able to become one with the crowd (a metaphor for modernity), conscious of mutations, responding to it, reproducing it in art: “a kaleidoscope gifted with consciousness”. Examples include Gabriel Orozco, Thomas Hirschhorn, Francis Alys and Jason Rhoades.

Therefore, I am an artiste mutant (a flâneur artist) and a precarious artist changing with the times and reflecting them.

Contemporary artists are utilising the remaining momentum of Modernists and thus modernity and modernisation, steering it in response to today’s landscape to form Altermodernism.

Flânerie in art includes Gabriel Orozco’s Yielding Stone, which refers to the erre of the urban pedestrian, an alternative form of portrait of the artist as flâneur. A plasticine ball picks up debris as its rolled around the city. The debris accumulated is the result of flânerie. This is like my colour specimens and cyberflânerie map, presenting the debris accumulated from cyberflânerie and serving as portraits of me as cyberflâneur with the latter, with the former the abstract pieces are the debris and portray me as a psychogeographer.

An interesting sidenote prompted by this chapter is the resonance Walter Benjamin’s description of the city has with the Internet. He describes the distance between the individual and collective diminishing just like global connectivity is doing. The immensity of the crowd destroys the bonds between the individual and the community. Likewise global connectivity and things like online shopping have shifted focus away from physical shops and neighbourhoods towards virtual equivalents.

Wandering has become an important response to city relations between the individual and collective for Bourriaud. Might it be that wandering forms are also important repsonses to virtual relations, either physical exploration to re-establish the importance of real-life community, or cyberflânerie as either a subversive act or, in my case, simply a contemporary, commonplace, accessible and popular way of doing things?

As a sidenote intersection between The Radicant and the tradition of psychogeography, the photographs of John Miller which show dinnerbreak flâneurs and flânerie, depict flânerie as being squeezed and hemmed into dinnerbreaks because of industrial production, drawing parallels with the narrative of the 19th century flâneur, finding himself increasingly unwelcome, his habitat shrinking in the changing Paris.

Also relevent here is Kendell Geers photographs of security systems in 1990s South Africa, where the wanderer is equally squeezed and threatened.

It seems comparisons can be made between Francis Alys’ multimedia art based on his 1991 journeys through Mexico and my practice. The body of work included drawings, photographs, films and actions. My body of work includes a variety of media. He recorded his strolls or collected found objects and images that were used in paintings. Likewise my ‘strolls’ and collected found objects, e.g. online newspaper articles, or photographs of industrial sites take art forms. Bourriaud asks “Why is it that the contemporary equivalent of landscape painting is based on action and narrative at the expense of representation?” It’s the same reason he says psychogeography is so important now – there’s no terra incognita – every conventional avenue has been explored, e.g. everything has been painted or mapped. Maps now feature experiences, like Franz Ackermann’s paintings. Likewise Alys says “I tried to create painted images that could become ‘equivalents’ to the action, ‘souvenirs’ without literally representing the act itself.”

All contemporary art is precarious art. It renders our established perspectives precarious, using everyday, familiar images like logos and street signs in discursive rather than the way of established facts are communicated to us: dictatorial and non-discursive. Art is the editing bench for reality. So I’m engaged in editing the reality or perceived reality of Huddersfield.

Building on this, in Bourriaud’s words, “art preserves intact an image of reality as a fragile construction and carries the torch for the notion of change…If contemporary art is the bearer of a coherent political project, it is surely this: to introduce precariousness into…representation by which the powers that be manage behaviours, to weaken all systems.” Therefore a political angle might be added to my work. Globalisation and Londoncentricity are values of the powers that be. They promote a view of the world as homogenous, replacing diversity with one global market for, say, McDonald’s, and Londoncentricity which presents itself as the only place to be in the UK, so many move there. By demonstrating that small identities still survive and thrive and that provincial Britain is still business-friendly, I can render established views precarious.

“Thus, wandering represents a political inquiry into the city. It is writing on the move” which Bourriaud says is as much as a “a critique of the urban”, so creates an aesthetic of displacement. One example of displacement aesthetics are Duchamp’s readymades like Fountain.

 

Wanderers are the contemporary equivalent of Duchamp – the mass produced object within the museum has become the journey forms within 21st century life. By representing my cyberflânerie in visual form I’m creating a type of displacement aesthetic and thus one of the wanderers Bourriaud describes.

I might also be a semionaut as well. Semionauts are artists who create paths through a miasma of signs, linking together industrial sites in Huddersfield together and with images of the past. My projection piece uses photography of Seahenge with MLSE technology, and I link the various industrial sites of Huddersfield with each other contemporarily but also Heterochronically with photographs of mostly King George VI’s visit to Huddersfield mills and machinery from that era. Bourriaud describes semionauts as joining up signs from a variety of cultural and geographic locations but the principle is the same.

Semionauts tend to use signs from a variety of different locations and cultures whereas I’m linking together similiar signs in the same geographic place but might the principle be the same? In any event I’m applying Hetereochronic principles which link signs from different times which might make me the time travelling semionaut.

Posted in Altermodernism, Masters Final Project, Psychogeography | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment