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.

3 comments:

JazzGreen said...

a most interesting diversion, and worthy of further cogitation if not actual activity...

may i draw your attention to my own crumpled 'in-creasing' circles or discs? such as 'crumpled inked paper', which was one of many, as evidenced here...

http://www.jazzgreen.com/artistjournal/ever-increasing-circles

now, what if you were to photocopy (or scan) the crumpled, creased sheets, what then? the 'flattened' smooth copies could be re-crumpled and smoothed, then re-copied..? and so it goes on...

i imagine a dense, fathomless network of creased lines developing, erasing any evidence of an original' grid'... then, there's origami...

p.s. i saw alison watt's phantom paintings at the national gallery... breathtaking...

TV's Mr Snooker said...

Thanks for your comment & pointers towards further investigation, Jazz.

The copies-of, etc, suggestion is a fine one indeed, especially as I already have the precedent of working from degraded 4th & 5th generation copies-of-copies about 18 months ago. Also, it adds another 'photographic' dimension to the endeavour, so there's plenty of 'integrity' factored-in to any such project!

Glad you enjoyed the 'Phantom' paintings, I imagine they must have been quite something to behold.

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It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................