Monday, June 28, 2010

Having a Ball, Undoing the Work of Art

So, there we were, Saturday morning, sat on the back step, enjoying the glorious sunshine & the first, pre-breakfast cup of tea of the day, lightly reading the most interesting book ‘Sol LeWitt: 100 Views’ & occasionally pausing to gaze up into the clear blue sky for the purposes of momentary consideration, when, for whatever reason, thoughts of Martin Creed’s ‘Work no. 88: A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball’ intervened (not for the first time here at TOoT, if the reader kindly refers to this previous occasion)...

Specifically, such ponderings concerned the 'what if..?' potential offered by the uncrumpling of such a ball & the reflattened return of the paper object to sheet form: a little practical project to undertake at some later point of the day as it might unfold in an intended leisurely fashion.

Now it transpires, following a little light research, that Mr Creed himself has created a couple of works related to such an idea, namely ‘Work no. 340: A sheet of paper folded up and unfolded’ & ‘Work no. 384: A sheet of paper folded up and unfolded’, both of which deliberate, regular processes have resulted in the formation of 32-cell gridded ‘sculptural’ objects of standard A4 dimensions, both ostensibly similar yet possessed of their own unique incidental details of varying subtlety, as one might expect.

Anyway, come the afternoon, with a virgin sheet of A4 paper duly chosen for the purpose, the process of crumpling into the formation of a ball duly occurred, with such art-referencing spherical-ish object photographically recorded for posterity:

Subsequently, a process of uncrumpling took place, carefully teasing the ball out into flattened form (as much as manually possible), with the resulting extensively textured object blu-tacked to the wall & recorded thus, its surface a veritable riot of detail-in-relief - folds, creases, peaks, depressions, etc, a snow-blanketed alpine landscape as viewed from directly overhead (hence the display format, as suggested) or battered panel (or whatever) of the imagination:

Which 'sculptural' three-dimensional object, in the manner of such, offers the spectator the opportunity to approach from an acute angle in order to traverse its surface in a studied appreciation of its details & the subtly-changing, possibly fugitive nature of, in relation to the light source:

The use of blu-tack as the adhesive agent offers another familiar reference to the practice of Martin Creed, of course:

'Work no. 79: Some Blu-tack kneaded, rolled into a ball, and depressed against a wall'

However, returned to functionality as in this instance, & not (re)presented as a discrete object in, as & for itself (& not within an institutional setting), the blu-tack thus becomes de-activated from even the possibility of being considered ‘art’ (‘de-artivated’?).

Back to the subject of the paper, & presenting another crumpled/uncrumpled A4 sheet (actually the original example of such, neglectfully not photographed in its balled state) in a compendium of images designed to illustrate the versatility of such objects for the purposes of being exhibited for aesthetic consideration, even merely in landscape format as in these instances, flipped vertically & reversed back-to-front.

Given the past year-&-more's concentration upon the subject/object matter of the found 'roadkill' aluminium drinks cans, & the nature of many of their respective surfaces, this apparent, whimsical digression might be reconsidered, rather, as entirely in keeping with the habitual crumpled appearance displayed by TOoT..!

The following day, developments took place.
To begin with, a simple grid was drawn upon a fresh, flat sheet of A4:

Which was then crumpled into a ball in the established & art-precedental manner:

Note the evidence of the graphite lines upon the surface of the paper 'ball', which thus might be considered as a form of drawing (re)presented in explicitly three-dimensional form &, indeed, be perceived 'in the round' as an object (hand-made, at that).

Subsequently unfolded, the drawing now takes on a third form, re-flattened but not, of course, to its original unadulterated 'perfection' as such: consequently, the ruled grid resists the attempt to be read as cleanly straight-lined (however much the mind might know this, the empirical eye communicates something else), instead having developed incidental kinks - which the gaze follows - in keeping with the nature of newly-textured surface of the ground upon which it was drawn...

In a further development, a smaller-celled grid was then drawn upon the verso of the un/crumpled sheet, again ruled but with the pencil lightly touching the surface, thus being allowed to be guided also by the texture of the ground, with 'kinky' incidents occurring as they might under such physical circumstances...

with an enlarged detail providing clearer evidence of this process:

Finally, another A4 sheet was crumpled into a ball & again unfolded & flattened as best as possible before a regularly- & closely-spaced sequence of vertical lines was lightly drawn in the manner of the previous grid, with the creases & folds of the ground providing both physically-textured & further optical incident across the 'allover' picture plane:

Even art-related & -referencing play based upon slight, whimsical thoughts of 'what if..?' provide at least a little grist to the creative mill & food for further thought, even if not especially nourishing..!
It's drawing, Jim, but not as we know it around these parts...

Notes to self:

As ideas for further development, consideration might be given to ironing the re-flattened sheets, perhaps, in the interests of exploring just how much physical evidence, however subtle & 'trace-y', might remain of the crumpling process.

Also, & related in some way to William Daniels' marvellous realistically-rendered still life paintings from the subject/object matter of his own cardboard & waste paper maquettes of paintings from the history of art, one might also consider making drawings & watercolours, in the habitual manner, from close scrutiny of the un/crumpled sheets of paper, on either a 1:1 scale or perhaps somewhat enlarged (as has already been proposed in relation to the development of the 'roadkill' cans subject/object matter), which may then relate to such an example as Alison Watt's 'Phantom' series of paintings based on folds in fabric (all of which, coincidentally, are white, like the paper), a project inspired by the artist's long-standing admiration for Ingres' 'Madame Moitessier' which, of course, features virtuoso renderings of such subject matter.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Flipping Heck, They're at it Again...

And today, presenting, as found, the flipside of yesterday's 'roadkill' object...

More curious overnight movements amongst the 'roadkill' cans (note a pretty neat flip in this instance, with, otherwise, little significant positional change), another unstill life composition, with, additionally, much splatter-staining of the double black lines in the vicinity of the occurrence...

Friday, June 25, 2010

More Surface Activity...

Another example of the familiar 'roadkill' (with something of a Pop Art flavour) found upon a section of the double black lines, themselves in proximity to further road markings at this particular location, providing further compositional incident...

And then, a little further along the walk home, some intriguing, rather boldly-coloured marks, signs, spray-painted (drawn) upon the road surface...

What can it all mean..?

Note too the wonderful 'archaeological' appearance of the double black lines here, with each layer (black over black over original yellow) displaying significant evidence of its historical existence.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Back on the Grid...

In line with one of the recent photographic developments, or, more specifically, compositional aspects of, this evening's post-work perambulations offered an encounter with more 'roadkill' object matter found just so alongside a stretch, approaching a curve, of the local double black lines road markings, one such item compressed & impressed upon a drainage grid, the boldness of design of which constitutes by some distance the dominant formal factor of the picture whilst remaining firmly embedded within.

Note also the presence of a second fragment of a 'roadkill' can, to the right of the grid, the sharply folded shard of which appears incandescent in the bright sunlight illuminating the scene as it curves towards the source, &, furthermore, a pair of Jackson Pollockesque discarded cigarette butts also embedded within the picture plane in the finest traditions...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Things Looking Up...

A change of viewpoint today, directing the camera’s gaze upwards rather than the habitual downcast air to proceedings here at TOoT (which applies to the physical act of the hunched-over drawing & painting process in addition to the photographic focus upon road surfaces & the significant details thereupon), inspired by the glorious clear blue sky overhead early this morning, appearing particularly vibrant at that point where, across the plane of vision, its edge met that of the complementarily-coloured earth-reds & -oranges of the brickwork of the immediate neighbour’s chimney stack...

Which colour & texture combinations then inspired the ‘playful’ creation of a digital ‘painting’, intended to walk something of a line between abstraction & representation, with the saturated flat colour field of the sky blue occupying the greater area of the picture plane before abutting against the contrasting division provided by the more visually ‘incidental’ irregularly-gridded, lightly textured, rusty orange ‘stripe’ to the right, a little computer-generated homage to Modernism. One might also acknowledge the influence of Jazz Green in seeing the ‘painterly’ potential inherent in, particularly, incidents of colour & texture as encountered out in both the natural & built environment, & as occur in the brickwork in this particular scene.

(digital 'painting')

The process of the realization of the ‘painting’ as imagined from source involved more work than initially assumed, with the ‘corrective’ distortion of the chimney stack - so that it would read frontally & as flat as possible, with the ‘grid’ properly right-angled, in the interests of asserting its best Greenbergian modernist credentials – having to be done so incrementally, in 2 – 3 row blocks, rather than en bloc, given the angle of perspective of the original image: an instructive if time-consuming learning curve, which oft seems to be the rule when employing digital technology.

The subliminal inspiration behind the desire to photographically record the scene (before the motivation to ‘paint’ from/with it) might well have been the brilliant Indian skies as featured in the film ‘The Darjeeling Limited’, transmitted on television yesterday evening (but watched a little later).
Such a celestial blue was but one of the vivid colours gracing, saturating, the picture, with particular emphasis also on saffron, earthy reds & turquoise, all of which nicely complemented the oft (it seemed) grey-suited protagonists. As with the earlier ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ (suitably enthused about here for much the same reason), although in a considerably higher key than the muted autumnal tones of pinks, browns & greys of such, ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ proved to be another aesthetically ravishing production by Wes Anderson, to immerse oneself in visually & thus be borne along by the unfolding narrative flow: gorgeous stuff, & there always seem to moments of great poignancy too. Most enjoyable. And of course it should be remembered that this blog was originally entitled ‘The Life Aesthetic...’ in acknowledgement of ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ (which itself features some delightful colour coding & co-ordinating) & Mr Anderson’s work in general.

But, in a not unusual development, we digress...

Further to structures protruding upwards, ‘disruptively’, into the expansive, immersive colour field of the clear blue sky, or seen, perhaps, as still life objects placed upon a slim horizontal plane against such a ‘ground’, another couple of images captured during this morning’s photo-shoot: firstly, the oppositely-neighbouring television aerial & the crest of a chimney cowl as they emerge above the ridge of the roof...

Then a more diagonally dynamic approach taken to the pictorial rendering of the first chimney stack with attached TV aerial against the sky...

No claims for anything artistically special here, but perhaps there’s a nod towards the influence of William Eggleston in the featuring of apparently banal subject matter & the saturated colour.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Found 'Drawing'

Now, the presence of found objects haunts TOoT through the provision of subject matter for the processing of drawings - most specifically the ‘roadkill' diptych series of such that have occupied the most significant area of operations over the past year & more - & also photographs, as many a recent example might attest.

However, this particular post marks the occasion of (re)presenting the found source itself (or at least the image of a digital reproduction of), which item came to hand but yesterday during one of the frequent ‘tidies-up’ that form an aspect of the day job duties.

found 'drawing'
printer toner on paper/21x16cm

Departing somewhat from the norm, in an act not of process but, rather, of aesthetic perception & designation, one might consider this as being ‘art’, a ‘readymade’ example of such, in the form of a found ‘drawing’: it is, in fact, the obviously-trimmed & subsequently discarded residue of a larger sheet of paper that has passed through a monochrome photocopier, bearing the ghostly trace of an image of the pin-prick marks upon the inside of the machine’s lid, that part which comes into direct contact with the screen, fixed with toner powder.

Thus it is the proposal today that to anyone sufficiently aesthetically-inclined (the premise upon which TOoT exists, of course) - & quite possibly having passed through a process of art education – the potential exists to view such a ‘mere’ by-product & the mark-making thereupon (or therein) as a drawing (as both object & process, indeed), in, stylistically, something of a minimalist idiom – measured, cool, subtle, yet possessed of a quiet, compelling intensity all the same, classically modernist one might even say, not least in the manner in which the regular pattern of the marks implies the presence of a grid without actually describing such explicitly (in fact, a grid could be imaginatively constructed by joining-the-dots horizontally & vertically).

Trouble is, even when considered & designated as such, which way up & around is the ‘drawing’ meant to be viewed, for the most appropriate & profound aesthetic appreciation?
In ‘portrait’ fashion as initially presented? Or otherwise ‘landscape’...

Or flipped on either vertical or horizontal axes...

Or perhaps this very ambiguity, this versatility, these complications, this further ‘leaving open to interpretation’, are the clearest indications of all of the object’s status as ‘art’...

For another particularly well-presented & thought-provoking example of 'art' as found amongst the duties of the day job, please refer to this entry in Jazz Green's ever-excellent artist's journal (& Jazz's website as a whole for much intriguing & aesthetically-engaging 'found art' - 'paintings', 'drawings' & more)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Can of Paint...

graphite, putty eraser, wax crayon & watercolour/30x20cm

Being the latest in the ‘roadkill’ diptych series, this example the most ‘painterly’ yet in terms of overall surface, with even the bare aluminium areas of the represented found object/subject matter being rendered in watercolour, when habitually such features have previously been left as ‘exposed’ graphite however much of the remainder of the surface has been treated & built up with overlays of discrete brushstrokes of translucent paint, in line with recent developments & as also occurs in this particular instance, in the ongoing interests of the explicit display of the process of the facture of the drawing-painting, the (manual) work of art.


’s ‘Spectral Cassette’ Vol.4
The Geraldine Fibbers ‘Hut Recordings’
Jesca Hoop ‘Kismet’

Digression: a thought occurred whilst listening to the commentary on the Algeria v England World Cup football match this evening. Whilst it is said that 'no man is an island' - what about blokes named Barry?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Still Being Found Out...

Another day & another example of 'roadkill' found upon one of the sections of local double black lines road markings: in 'readymade' pictorial terms, a still life object against a subtly modulated & textured monochrome ground...

Also, having found & broached the subject within the course of the previous findings & post, another example of 'roadkill' compressed onto the bars of a cast-iron drainage grid, which might possibly have the potential become a sub-theme within the body of photographic work (without being forced), given the additional compositional interest such strong, geometric forms provide (especially in conjunction with the double black lines), the tendency of the grids to rust in a pleasingly, subtly colourful manner, for example, & not least the play inherent in the word grid itself, with all its 'essential' modernist connections, &, particularly, very close association with the practice of the very wonderful & recently-considered Chuck, of course...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Found Out a Third Time...

Further findings of 'roadkill' over the weekend along the various courses of the local 'double black lines' corrective road markings, duly recorded & reported in photographic form, the practice of which seems to be forming quite a substantial subspecies of, & discrete area of operations within, the general theme of the current creative practice, given the pictorial nature of the results of the process.

Note the 'compositional' aspect of this first illustrated example, found yesterday, with a pair of still(ed) life objects being able to be captured within the single photographic frame...

Which subject-objects can then be pictured individually whilst still maintaining their own pictorial integrity in keeping with the great majority of previous examples of the genre, not to be considered as merely details of a whole...

And then...walking the same route today revealed evidence of curious overnight goings-on, the like of which wouldn't be out of place in Clinkskell, perhaps, with the Fosters can having not only flipped over but also changed its position, from to the right to the left of, in relation to the Carlsberg one...'the not-so still life', as the title of the exhibition catalogue would have it, indeed.

Given that the double black lines themselves are an unusual & remarkable phenomenon, perhaps the unexpected shouldn't be too great a surprise, & something, perhaps, never to be discounted...

But that’s not all folks, during what proved to be quite a busy couple of days along the roadside, for, prior to the discovery of the movements of the unstill life (re)arrangement, another object was found compressed upon a different section of the double black lines...

which, when panning out as far as possible within the constraints of the photographic frame, may be observed in relation to a second ‘roadkill’ can, impressed upon the bars of a drainage grid, itself an additional compositional device & area of formal interest (note also the splash of blue paint at the top right of the image, another pleasing little incident)...

N.B. The grid area of the original photograph was subjected to a little digital corrective distortion in order to represent it as ‘squared-off’ as possible, to deny the sense of perspective inherent in the panoramic view in the interests of asserting the flatness of the picture plane in best Greenbergian fashion, which seems most appropriate to the subject/object matter represented (& also due in part to one’s personal ‘unreconstructed modernist’ tendencies, as once remarked upon, which obviously endure).

The final find of this most fertile weekend again threw something else into the compositional mix, with this particular 'roadkill' object found upon another instance of the double black lines, these being adjacent to other markings in the form of the 'dashes' of broken white lines - wonderful broad, discrete 'brushstrokes', when considering the whole in pictorial terms, arranged diagonally across the picture plane...

Moving slightly to the left, it became possible to incorporate the ends/beginnings of the double black lines (which always seems an appropriately & satisfying 'painterly' touch to bring to the proceedings if the opportunity so exists) into a composition including the other elements in some form at least...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Close Call

Today the opposite of tomato is 'like watching a conjuring trick performed in slow motion'*

graphite & putty eraser, with watercolour/30x20cm

Continuing the 'roadkill' diptych series of drawings processed (increasingly slowly of late, it must be admitted: performed & unfolding in slow motion, indeed) from the close empirical study of found object/subject matter, with another intriguingly reshaped, reformed character thus represented, pleasingly rusting in the interests of providing further subtle incidents of colour in addition to those of its branded identity (which, rather ironically, are black, white & grey, enlived by a flash or two of red), a small synecdochal hint of which is offered - fittingly, perhaps, as the 2010 World Cup gets underway, that it proves to be one with associations to football.

*The tag line leading this particular post being found in & thus appropriated from Christopher Finch’s massive ‘Chuck Close: Work’, a recent investment in which we’re currently immersed: a truly fabulous art book, lavishly & exquisitely produced, which might be rashly but not necessarily wholly unreasonably claimed to be one of the best of its kind ever. The quality of the reproductions of many examples covering the complete scope of the subject’s painting, drawing, printmaking & photographic practice are stunning (including many details to be pored over – if you, dear reader, might excuse such an obvious pun - & scrutinized with great delight), with the accompanying text complementing such visual evidence perfectly, offering much fascinating insight into the creative process (& emphasizing that key word, with its especial value to operations here at TOoT), the work of art, its developmental stages & incremental progress, woven into the broader biography. Altogether an exemplary volume, a big one for a big subject, one to be treasured for its many & profound riches.

One of the particular issues related to the work of Chuck Close is, of course, scale, &, considering also a enquiring comment recently kindly posted by Jazz Green concerning the size ('life') of the objects represented in the ‘roadkill’ diptych series of drawings, this is something that’s been mulled over in terms of potential future developments of this very body of work, if such might indeed occur, whether it might be fruitful to explore enlargements of the subject/object matter, as found, as an aspect of the drawing process, for the scope such a device might offer for the representation of detail, for example, which can become frustratingly difficult, to a satisfactorily-realizable extent, on a 1:1 scale.
Of course, if such were to occur, the represented images would inevitably become something ‘other’, offering the possibility of being read as being more obviously ‘iconic’, ‘glorified’ or whatever, but the distance thus created from the original source could well be an interesting one to travel & explore - it might, for instance, be a fascinating experiment of both mark-making process (imagining this to be much more expansive under such circumstances) & perception to represent the objects on a scale of 5 – 6 feet tall, similar to the height of a human being (e.g. the viewer in the context of a physical spatial engagement with the work itself on a wall), where the shapes, kinks & angular folds into which many of the objects have been accidentally, unwittingly reformed (habitually chosen for such very reasons, of course), might well suggest & reflect those of various human stances & arrangements of limbs, etc, where a ‘dialogue’ between work & viewer could accordingly take place.

Someday, we really will require the environment of proper studio space & clear-the-decks-I’m-an-artist-&-nothing-but time in which to carry out some of these ‘dreamy’ proposals...


Pontone's 'Spectral Cassette' mixes Vol.1, Vol.2, Vol.3 & Vol.4

Alerted by Mr Reynolds to the existence of Volume 4 of the Pontone website's downloadable series of 'Spectral Cassette' mixes of various examples of obscure contemporary electronica, in the interests of TOoT's continuing aesthetic research projects it was felt to be of sufficient import to the sonic branch of proceedings to sample the preceding 3 volumes also.
Whilst the third of the compilations provided little of lasting or even follow-up interest (many of the selections within proving to be of insufficient duration to make much of an impression), the other 3 mixes revealed all manner of fascinating findings. Volume 4 in particular is a most compelling, immersive experience, characterized by periods of dreamy wooziness that recall early-ish Boards of Canada as something of a reference point, with all manner of found voices drifting in & out of consciousness, half-heard, half-remembered, very much appropriately spectral prescences haunting the overall enveloping atmosphere as it slowly unfolds in a sequence of minor shifts from one artist's chosen contribution to another, utterly engaging & a(nother) most efficacious accompaniment to the drawing process.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Reduced Circumstances Again...

graphite, putty eraser, wax crayon & watercolour/30x20cm

Continuing with the 'roadkill' diptych series, the found object/subject matter here represented by the drawing-painting process seems to be but a fragment of a once complete whole, flattened to a mere beaten sliver (that suggestion of intensely & minutely hammered metal) & its branded coat of surface colour weathered down & washed out to appear now as somewhat faded from its assumed original glory, suggesting nothing so much as a blush of watercolour.
Again, the sharply folded, overlapping planes of the reconfigured object particularly, inevitably, recall the appearance of a Cubist transformation of three-dimensional visual phenomena & space, compressed into a form more closely related to the two-dimensional picture plane.

Given such influence & also following on from the immediately previous & other recent examples, the ground was subjected to an all-over watercolour treatment of discrete, short horizontal brushstrokes, tonally built up in numerous layers, observing the habitual dark/light compositional division, over erased pencil marks (themselves subject to such all-over process on these such occasions), minimalistically & monochromatically limited this time to Payne's Grey, eschewing any supplementary inflections of colour (blues, greens, rust, etc) as had been utilized in the past, in keeping with the particularly 'metallic' quality of the found object.


Moon Wiring Club 'Striped Paint for the Last Post'
Jesca Hoop 'Hunting My Dress'
Nick Drake 'Made to Love Magic'
Elliott Smith 'Roman Candle'
& eponymous
Test Match Special England v Bangladesh
2nd Test, day 2