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

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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.

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Do I Hold Similarities with Iain Sinclair or Surrealist Drifts?

Reading Merlin Coverley’s Psychogeography Sinclair is summed up as urban wanderer, local historian, avant-garde activist and political debater all in one.

Suicide Bridge, White Chappell Scarlet Tracings, Downriver and Radon Daughters all portray a city inseparable from its past, both real and imagined. This bears likeness to Bourriaud’s description of Winifred G Sebald as mentioned in a previous post. Sinclair’s London is topographically is a mix of local and literary history, autobiographical and poetic, creating an individual, personal view of London.

Like Sinclair and Sebald, I portray Huddersfield as inseparable from its past, not just in terms of memory, but the less ephemeral architecture (that seems to distinguish the town from many industrial places which lost the footprint of that period during the Blitz or towns down south that never really possessed it) and continuation of industry and thus a part of its identity.

Coverley contextualises Sinclair within the traditions of psychogeography, among others, the flâneur and Situationism.

Sinclair describes walking as the best way of exploring and exploiting the city “Drifting purposefully is the recommended mode, tramping asphalted earth in alert reverie, allowing fiction of an underlying pattern to reveal itself” (Lights Out for the Territory). So walking, flânerie and cyberflânerie are all justified and apt ways of exploring Huddersfield thanks to Sinclair.

This is somewhat different from the flâneur, yet somehow the same. The flâneur does drift purposefully, to savour his surroundings, but Sinclair notes how the flâneur must adapt to his environment “to face the challenges of the modern city”, so Sinclair is not a flâneur. He regards the stalker as a “role-model”. Coverley writes that the flâneur couldn’t, after the war, radicalisation and the rise of revolutionary politics be a detached observer or armchair explorer – he had to face up to the destruction of his city. Strolling had to become subversive, reclaiming the streets for the pedestrian. Apolitical strolling ended with Surrealism taking on a communist tone.

Might this fit within my practice? In the face of globalisation and Londoncentricity does walking, of any form, subvert the concept of provincialism, the global village and homogenisation? Why would you stroll through Huddersfield unless you questioned the view that it’s just going to be the same as anywhere else and therefore not worth bothering with? To want to stroll through Huddersfield is to put some kind of value and interest on the town specifically.

Sinclair says the flâneur has been succeeded by the stalker, who makes journeys with intent, not knowing where he is going. He doesn’t dawdle or window-shop or savour Art Nouveau ironwork like the flâneur.

Regarding my work, I describe my research within the context of cyberflânerie, which is itself the adaption of the flâneur to a digital landscape. There was also a degree of intent to this cyberflânerie, which may put it in line with what Sinclair describes as the stalker. It is still flânerie what I was doing though. Also it had the intent, it was to some extent window-shopping flânerie.

Situationism has little in common with Sinclair, who is more similar to Surrealist drifts of Breton and Aragon and London Visionaries. Later work like London Orbital and Lights Out for the Territory is particularly similar to Surrealist desires to “unearth hidden aspects of the city as they drift thought its streets and sample its ambiences.” This is somewhat similar to what I’ve been doing in what I regard as cyberflânerie.

Sinclair also has little in common with psychogeographic theory – it’s a mix of autobiography and literary eclecticism but with a political undercurrent, angry at Thatcherite redevelopment.

Although Sinclair points out he’s not doing exactly the same as what the Surrealists did, he “liked their notion of finding strange parks at the edge of the city.” Likewise I couldn’t be described as a Surrealist drifter, although there are elements that interest me. This puts me in the same ballpark as Sinclair – interested in aspects of Surrealist actions but an outsider to them.

The similarities with Surrealism can be seen particularly in Lights Out for the Territory, which is an exploration of the hidden city and a memorial to a lost London, expressing anger at Thatcherite redevelopment and its banalising legacy, in the same vein as Aragon’s Paris Peasant, which attacks Baron von Haussmann’s destruction of the arcades.

Paris Peasant is a significant book, lamenting and documenting the rapidly vanishing arcades, just like Baudelaire. It seems like a quintessential text of flânerie to me and it went on to inspire Benjamin’s The Arcades Project and his view of walking as a cultural act. Aragon’s book is a blend of local history, biography, political and philosophical debate just like Lights Out for the Territory. Aragon’s approach isn’t far from mine: “The great American passion of city planning…now being applied to the task of redrawing the map of our capital in straight lines, will soon spell the doom of these human aquariums.” Coverley links this to Sinclair’s book but I also see my own views here. Globalisation and Londoncentricity are the forces bringing about the banalisation of Britain and generally the world, causing cultural homogenisation and provincialisation. My work, like Lights Out for the Territory or Paris Peasant is a way of resisting this.

Central to Surrealism was the fusing of everyday life with the marvellous and unconscious desire, railing against the mundane aspects of the everyday. With walking it involved Automatism, where exploration was free-floating to discover the hidden and as an alternative form of tourism. Given that I see cultural homogenisation and provincialism as bad, there is a general aim within my work to undermine the mundane, to give Huddersfield a distinctive identity that might alter everyday experience of the town. People may re-read and re-interpret the town after viewing my work. Huddersfield is no longer a dreary, grim post-industrial backwater but a thriving industrial centre. There’s also an element of the unconscious in the psychogeographic responses (the colour specimens) I created, trying to evoke the ephemeral impression or feel of the site, rather than simply a visual representation.

Breton’s Nadja is described as “a lightening rod attuned to the voices of the past and the resonance of place”, which takes me back to The Radicant and Iain Sinclair. The main character sleepwalks through Paris – a journey governed by chance and desire.

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Clarifying the Contextual Role of Abstract Art

My art took an abstracted form for several reason.

The first was an interest and relevence for graphic design philosophy and aesthetics. I opted for a graphic design-influenced visual style as this fit with my reaction and interpretation of the information uncovered, which was a sense of positivity, progressiveness, vibrancy and optimism. Graphic design is not regressive. As I was dealing with a very contemporary reality I aimed for a contemporary aesthetic.

The second reason was to maintain a level of ambiguity, as it’s necessary for all contemporary art to ensure there is enough room for the viewer of ponder the art. Using too literal or realistic a visual style would’ve resulted in the dialogue between viewer and art becoming a monologue.

Thirdly, because it allowed me to mix forms in a way impossible in realistic or only slightly stylised aesthetics. Thus, textile patterms could symbolically interweave and interact with buildings and landscapes.

The final reason for abstraction was that it allowed me to express and convey certain emotions and perspectives, and to translate the vibrant and dynamic reality into a visual form.

After my work was described by Jill as having an air of Modernist art during a tutorial, I came across De Stijl in the subsequent research into Modernism. What interested me was the simplistic geometry, use of block colour and the feel of dynamism work by Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian, specifically Broadway Boogie Woogie, possess. Vibrancy, energy and dynamism were symbolic and aesthetic concerns for my colour specimens. De Stijl was based on rigid geometry, only using 90 degree angles, and there is arguably a geometric rigidity to my work, via the use of block colour, textile patterns and the form architectural abstractions took. I used De Stijl to inform how I balanced and blended geometric rigidity with the impression of vibrancy.

The Op art of Bridget Riley also influenced visual forms. The flowing designs of her early work, such as Twist, Fall and Cataract 3 reminded me of the rolling hills of the Huddersfield area and the movement of streams and rivers, the latter having a central role in the development of the town’s industry. Conceptually it resonated, too. Op art was all about exploring and playing with the psychology of sight and perception, which isn’t dissimilar from graphic design philosophy, evoking a sense of movement and dynamism which linked to what I wanted to evoke.

Molly Dilworth was a huge inspiration. Her forms are painted but have a crisp, modern aesthetic, not far removed from graphic design, but the forms themselves have symbolic significance, coming from traditional patterns, for example, Dutch and African American fabrics. This mix of traditional and contemporary, graphic design and symbolism had an obvious influence on me. A similar contemporary artist was Jeff Depner, who, like Dilworth, mixes a painterly and graphic design-style aesthetic. Echoes of his aesthetic can be found in my work. Depner and Dilworth’s work possess a liveliness, often through chevrons and zigzags which I used myself to evoke a similar feel.

Kyung Hwa Shon played a significant role in informing my colour specimens. Her works are abstract psychogeographic responses to finding herself in unfamiliar urban surroundings. I was interested to see how a contemporary artist translated psychogeographic thought into visually appealing abstract art.

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Journey Form: Temporal Bifurcations and My Practice

Bifurcation means splitting into two.

This chapter demonstrates the relevence of the past.

Space and time have merged and exchanged properties in 21st century life.

Nothing disappears. Everything is archived.

Tourism is one example of merging time and space – temporary change of scenery achieved by geographic distance. Another is the appeal of somehwere like Berlin, which is divided historically into democracy and capitalism versus dictatorship and communism. People experience a journey through time, space and social hierarchy.

It might be said that part of Huddersfield and its area’s appeal is its relationship to the past. The past was a defining factor in my current practice – an awareness of the industrial past and the relationship the current industry has to it – a continuation of industrial identity (high-quality textiles). I think because Victorian architecture is so prevalent, the past is present in people’s minds more than in other areas. You negotiate a Victorian dominated environment. This, and therefore this chapter is linked to Mark Rainey’s interpretation of history which is a jumble of different periods. Space and time merge and exhange properties in Mark Rainey’s psychogeography and in Huddersfield.

Time is travelled – contemporary artists interact with history via travel, using nomadic forms or adopting vocabularies. One such form of nomadism is flânerie. So here you can see my practice again fitting within a contemporary art context.

The journey-form is a switching form, a generator of connections between time and space.

“[R]adicant artists construct their paths in history as well as geography”.

However, the utlimate aim of global capitalism is the erasure of borders – a vast common market and free-trade zone, free of borders. Globalisation weakens all borders. Bourriaud identifies this as an issue, asking ‘[w]hat is the only solution available to artists that does not involve contributing to the project of global cultural ‘sweetening’?” The solution is the activation of space by time and time by space “in the symbolic reconstruction of fault lines, divisions, fences and paths in the very place where fluidified space of merchandise is established” – alternative maps of the contemporary world.

You might regard my presentation of Huddersfield’s somewhat unseen textile industry as the alternative mapping of the contemporary world. If it is unseen it is terra incognita. Alternative mapping is the recording of the reality for informing people and for posterity. It’s alternative mapping in the sense that geography, culture and heritage are intertwined, and also due to the contexts it’s presented within.

 

Bourriaud writes that archaeology is important today because of its mixing of time and space. 

20th century writer Winifried G. Sebald’s stories blend fiction and reality, poetry and scholarly essays “difficult not to relate to contemporary art.” On his long journeys through Europe, from Scotland to the Balkans, Sebald shows how the people’s memory and past events haunt the present and shape the space around us. This is to be found very clearly within my practice. He describes travel as a way of accessing memory: the presence of history in buildings, museums, monuments, hotel rooms, conversations with locals. I can see a psychogeographic link with Iain Sinclair here as well as Hotel Palenque by Robert Smithson

Likewise Liam Gillick’s Erasmus is Late involves Erasmus Darwin movin amongst prominent Victorian figures, similarly strolling through London past and present. Sebald and Gillick both stress that remembering goes beyond the act of telling – the past is reconstrcuted through a collection of visual and linguistic details.

My MLSE animation shares parallels with Paul Chan’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The past, the present and the future

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My Practice and Journey Form: Topology and Psychogeography

Bourriaud writes that the journey-form provides an iconography of global displacement. This can be clearly linked to my research. The global displacement is linked to multiplication which can be seen on the Internet: “Simply browsing the Internet in search of information, one gets a glimpse of this imaginary empire of the multiple. Every site explodes into myriad others”. Thus, multiplication is the “dominant mental operation” of our Altermodern era.

As I have wrote about several times before, my research was characterised as a form of cyberflânerie. Linking this to psychogeography, you can clearly see how the flâneur is defined by displacement in his travels, and therefore our Altermodern era of multiplication and the journey-form. Flânerie is relevent to contemporary art and times.

Franz Ackermann makes mental maps which include memories and personal notes, going beyond cartography. He expands on Situationist psychogeography, depicting contemporary experience of the transforming urban space. He traces journey-forms to map this transforming urban space. Linked to the Altermodern concept of Energy, his canvas paintings are accompanied/extended by objects, photos and drawings in the exhibition space. Bourriaud writes that these exhibitions come across as 3D computer screens with multiple files open onscreen, “windows onto hetergeneous data”.

Ackermann’s Mental Map: Evasion V:

I wonder if this is similar to how my exhibition will come across, with the Altermodern Energisation of my practice continuum and links to psychogeography.

I can see my own practice when Bourriaud says that contemporary painting is focused on a desire to represent an individual’s experience of space through intersecting spatial-temporal networks. This desire is also found in the cartoraphy of the GPS era as satellite images, transport routes and communication networks, reflecting contemporary experience of travel “[A]ll geography becomes psychogeography” in a world where space is totally surveyed by satellites and totally saturated, for example wi-fi, conversations manifested in phone signals, etc.

Here you can see the importance of psychogeography in contemporary art and life and that my work can be seen within this context.

 

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Inspiring Altermodern Artist: Loris Greaud

Loris Greaud’s Where Tremors Forever was a big inspiration for the MLSE projection piece and the Altermodern ‘Energisation’ of different parts of the continuum of my practice.

His piece entails the recording of his brain, with help from a neurologist, as he thinks intensely about a conceiving a future exhibition for 30 minutes. These electroencephalograms are then made into light emissions, then electrical impulses.

The piece is a journey-form, cerebal wanderings, ‘materialising trajectories rather than destinations’. It’s art made out of the thinking process. Greaud states, in Bourriaud’s book Altermodern: Tate Triennial that it’s no coincidence the end-product takes the form of a network.

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