Opportunities Radar

Practice Development

 

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 08.54.07

Figure 1

Whilst keeping very busy with the installation, I have an eye on future opportunities; whilst this, fig 1, appears to be a commercially based call for work, it has an intriguing theme which may be appropriate for my work in future.

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 09.17.16

Figure 2

The timing was imperfect to apply for this role, fig 2, but it is a measure of opportunities that may arise in my local area and of course beyond.  The director of New Arts West Midlands is due to attend my show launch.

Finally, I have a meeting, during my show, with the principal of K4 Architects with whom I had a short residency with a view to picking up a longer relationship.

 

References

All accessed 11.6.2018

Venice biennale private call  https://www.itsliquid.com/call-places-surfaces-festival-venice.html

New Arts West Midlands http://newartwestmidlands.co.uk/events/artist-in-residence-university-of-birmingham/

K$ Architects https://www.k4architects.com/

 

 

Advertisements

Edgar Martins – Latest

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 17.47.53Figure 1

Keeping an eye out for the activities of Edgar Martins has become a regular delight as I  appreciate his work and regard him as an influence on my practice.

His Instagram account has recently announced two manifestations of his work. The ‘Poetic Impossibility to manage the Infinite’ is an exhibition in Leicester that I hope to visit.  It reflects Martins’ long-term work with the European Space Agency and his insightful images that capture the wonder and complexity of space flight and exploration, figs 1 and 2.

Quoted in Vice, 2014, Martins describes this current fascination “We are slowly getting a new picture of the universe that is pushing the limits of our understanding of current cosmological theories, making the confluence of the infinitely large and the infinitely small an ever more viable proposition.  I have no doubt that we are entering a new golden era of space exploration. But perhaps the most interesting realisation for me, throughout this process, was coming to terms with two simple ideas. The void and vacuum of space has become the busiest concept known to mankind. And, for all the advancements in technology and robotics, space exploration is still inherently dependent on the individual.”

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 17.46.10Figure 2

Secondly, with Martin’s relationship with Grain, the Midlands photographic network, images are beginning to emerge from his collaboration, facilitated via Grain, at a sensitive period related to the HM Prison, Birmingham. Little is revealed from this entry, fig 3, but this appears to be a fascinating body of work which I look forward to exploring.

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 17.44.59Figure 3

 

Notes

Figure 1 screenshot, accessed 27.5.2018 https://www.visitleicester.info/whats-on/the-poetic-impossibility-to-manage-the-infinite-p739301

Figures 2 and 3 from https://www.instagram.com/edgarmartinsphotography/ accessed 27.5.2018

Quote from Vice, 2014, accessed 27.5.2018 https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/mv59bx/edgar-martins-explores-the-limits-of-the-european-space-agency

 

Ideas come from Ideas

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 07.44.52Figure 1

I work two days a week at an organisation in the centre of Birmingham, here I had a discussion about the future and the plans for the Commonwealth Games, 2022.  In a little under 4 years and much of the world’s eyes will be on the city I have been part of for a long time.  As I am considering as an integral element of my practice light, projection, surfaces and architecture I came up with an idea that has sprung from my projection experiments.  A whole street projection.  The idea being that projectors are mounted within the first floor of buildings along a street and images are projected onto the opposing facades.  This would be installed on both sides of the street.  The images could be historic, abstract, or something else.  I this created a sketch, fig 1, to demonstrate the two streets that I currently judge to be potential candidates as they are historic and thus spatially complete and both lead to the principal square in the city which is likely to be a focal point for the duration of the Games.

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 07.58.51Figure 2

I held a conversation with a firm in Scrofland called Double Take Projections, (fig 2 shows a still from a demo video) which is intereted in talking about developing up the first stage technical approach and budget.  I was pelased to hear that their primary software tool is Madmapper, as this to the tool I am using.  The intention is to develop this further from a curatorial angle.

Notes

Double Take Projections http://doubletakeprojections.com/

 

Outdoor projection

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

IMG_3342 2Figure 1

Fearing I may run out of time to experiment out of the gallery and write about it, I was compelling myself to simply begin to analyse what it was like working at a scale larger than the compact gallery space or indeed indoors at home – so on a dry evening I gathered the kit and installed outside, fig 2

BB5B48BB-9415-47D8-AF43-DD35DCF062A2Figure 2

I tilted the projector up into chestnut trees in an adjacent garden that are some 20m high and used a moving, psychedelic pattern from YouTube and I was pleased with the intensity of light at some distance and height.

IMG_3334Figure 3

Working closer up, figs 1 and 4 demonstrate the clarity of the light and the shadows created using a pure red colour projection.

IMG_3343 2Figure 4

Conclusion

My premise that you can alter the perception of surface, texture and reconfigure form using lit images, has carried out into a wider realm.  I fully appreciate that these experiments are simplistic and unrefined and others are creating much more ambitious and resolved work, however, I was not using Madmapper to develop the solution (neither was it applying the images from the Pause Project), at this stage and clearly much more can be done, but this is a small step forward.  Much more experimenation will happen beyond the MA.

Final Zine

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 12.10.24Figure 1

The final chapter in the zine account will be its impending arrival.  300 zines to be delivered by Evolution Print, Sheffield, fig 1.  Chosen because of their co-operation to all queries, their willingness to send through a white paper mock up and because they, to quote their Instagram page “We use lots of ink, paper, & big sharp scissors. And still buy books. Often. Shortlisted PDMA Hardback Books & Best Own Marketing Print for My Top Tens” 

Choosing a graphic designer that understands photography, book-making and can bring a working method to a discerning client is critical, I also value the relationship and working knowledge designers have of the printing industry, its attuned firms and the appropriate methods.  In this case, Evolution is litho printing the zine on two paper types, so my expectations are high.

The submitting of the final graphics package was a milestone in its own right.  It represented a close collaboration between Rebecca Foster of the eponymous design company and myself.  Hours of debate and carefully considered and increasingly fine revisions to layout, adjacencies, white line separators, and not, text disposition, front cover choices, spell-checking, map work, paper choices, staple choices and then the correct image sizing and type all melded into the pot labeled zine.

We settled on A5 format with fold-out gatefold as it is portable and will make an impact for the viewer upon opening.  It has a planned life of up to one year as a marketing collateral tool.

I discussed the collaborative nature of this work with my MA tutor, Wendy McMurdo, and we agreed that to create a zine of quality and provide a liaison with printers is relevant and appropriate; clearly all of the imagery and narrative is created by me and the disposition and related matters are framed by the graphic designer.

The deadline was achieved and provided the final risk element is knocked away, that is to say, a bad print run, then all will be well.

These are the screenshots of the final version;

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 11.36.17Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 12.05.51Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 12.06.09Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 12.06.21Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 12.06.41Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 12.06.55Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 12.07.09

 

Notes

Rebecca Foster Design http://www.rebeccafosterdesign.co.uk/

Fig 1 from website accessed 27.5.2018 http://www.evolutionprint.co.uk/

To Rome – Canto & Fano at Work

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

IMG_3141Figure 1

It was part way through my interview with the artist Stefano Canto, fig 1 on the left, that I pop the question about photography, his response was “It is a companion – many times I take a photo – it is a way of understanding and reasoning – an analysis – a study – like a sketch book – photography is a big part of that”.  Is a photograph partly permanent partly ephemeral, I ask?  “Yes! both.  A fossil is the first form of a picture.  Like an imprint”.  These thoughtful and reflective words summarise his approach, he is an analyst, he searches and thinks, he is visual and he makes things.

Sometimes those things look like fossils.

I was delighted when I had ventured into the idea of meeting both Niccolò Fano and Stefano Canto and my preparation, reading, mind-mapping (see notes below, fig XXXXX) and book reading meant I was armed with the tools to maximise the opportunity before me.

IMG_3145

Figure 2

Canto had fascinated me for a while, for his work which coalesces both the finely honed and the amorphous, fig 2, his references to contemporary and twentieth-century thinking and his roots as an architect.  His show at Niccolò’s gallery, Materia ‘Sotto l’influenza del Fiume. Sedimento’ was the perfect opportunity to meet them both.

Figures 3, 4

Canto had built the frames, figs 3, 4 and designed the machine that takes concrete powder and pumps it through a noisy mechanism into a long black, tapering funnel, echoing a flour mill arrangement.  The overhead grid allows the funnel to be moved laterally as it hovers over the large tray which set down the central area of the rear gallery.  This tray receives the objects Canto has carefully retrieved from the river’s flow.  I was privileged to see a demonstration as the noisy pump ground into action, a fine trail of powder was emitted from the funnel and began to fall loosely around the objects that were about to be transformed from their free flow, to be captured and coalesced into the trappings of the solidifying process ad the water reacts with the concrete and solidification commences.  It is an intriguing combination of a finely engineered machine that then allows the randomness of floating objects to be made into a permanent form with nebulous and thus unique shape – a modern archaeology, but also a strong emulation of the process of photography – the machine that fixes a moment and creates a gathering of emulsion, pixel or paper into a unique piece.

The bond between artist and gallerist is palpable during our 2-hour meeting. Fano tells me he works with seven artists presently “it is a long dialogue, a continuous dialogue, once we decide a show is due we work on ideas and the space in the gallery.  We are always aware of boundaries” his use of the term boundaries is interesting as he is thinking spatially about his two interlinked spaces with its small interstitial nerve centre partly open to the rainy elements during our time tougher.  But the other boundary is about roles; I ask about whether Fano sees himself as a curator, his response is emphatic “No, and I am not a big fan of the word, there are very few real curators.  I think of myself as a gallerist.  There are distinct boundaries about our discussions, for example, I would never say what work to do (to an artist) but we have our discussions”  Do these ever become tense? “No, as I have a distinct understanding and I am open to making mistakes – there is nothing perfect – sometimes making mistakes can provide surprises we didn’t expect”  I ask for an example and he cites the installation process  the people that build the installation discover problems – as long as we do not compromise an idea – it is about translating into space”

IMG_4810

Figure 5

And so we explore the three spaces. The racks that create a stack either side of the fore gallery approximate the archaeologist’s store.  Canto “The process started on the bank of the river.  The publication is a study of this.  Inspiring factor – sediments – contemporary architecture is made from parts” He shows me the first picture – concrete, brick and metal tubes, as one ‘block’, fig 5. “These were immersed in the eco-system.  Ancient Rome and contemporary Rome in one place.  There is a speed to change as a concept with the work – the work shows a change in colour, fig 6 – past and future in one moment in one piece.  Eternally present – the river is liquid, the real city within the river  – always present – it merges everything”. 

img_3155.jpg

Figure 6

The concrete binds – a kind of setting for the objects – both organic and pieces of city cast into the flow. Bark and leaves deteriorate at differing paces, even within the short period of the show.  The open structure to the concrete that is hardening with the passage of air and time too will respond to the environment it is found to be.  Each piece is taken from the gallery’s river bed – the  production tray and, once the curing process has provided enough innate strength and structure, it is taken to a working table where brushes are used to carefully run over the surfaces to remove loose pieces, then the final hand of the artist is applied with the compressed air nozzle that blows away the looseness of any dust.  The heavy pieces gradually occupy more space on the scaffold racks as the show progresses.  This gallery is a studio, the work is made, finalised and displayed, fig 7.  This clearly makes revisits by viewers not just a pleasantry but an essential.  The show’s conclusion will provide the richest diversity of things.

IMG_3134

Figure 7

What enriched my fascination with Canto and Fano was Canto’s backstory.  He is a trained architect.  How does this impact on your work, I ask “my architecture is very important to me, when I graduated I knew about function and form, I ask what is form without function?  I am interested in communication through building, through construction. I feel I can speak about the city and about society.  It is about the changing contemporary city and its archaeological form” fig 8.

img_3143.jpg

Figure 8

I ask, do you identify as an architect? “Yes I do, I work as an architect but not in the traditional sense”.  I suggest some architects would not ‘get that’ – he laughs “I probably am an artist, I am a hybrid, in contemporary society, the barriers do not exist anymore, a lot of architects are making works of art”.  It is a profession that hails from drawing, I interject, drawing as a thinking means and mechanism, “I keep aware of contemporary practice and watch people like Peter Eisenman and Rem Koolhaas” he responds, a little enigmatically.

IMG_3882 2

Figure 9

I invite a question about architecture which, at city and room scale, provides enclosure whereas Canto is making works which are objects which may seek enclosure or a sense of a place, as, if you like, sculpture would, his response draws on the work of what I tend to term object making architects “Zaha Hadid, (see fig 9, Maxxi, Rome) she makes fluid forms as you may see a building from a passing train or plane. Contemporary architecture is ephemeral” I ponder whether this is an accentuated philosophy and position from a man who is steeped in the traditions and immutable fabric of the ‘eternal city’ where the currency of contemporary expression is restricted and controlled.  His is an art that exudes from a context.  He has trawled and sieved the watery artery, for pieces that have been discarded as the centuries of living and city-making go on around it.  He defines it as ‘the paradox of ephemeral concrete”.  Hearing these words spoken by the creator, alongside the heavy objects, really assist in defying the meaning of this paradox.  The form of an archeologist’s tradition is applying a contemporary commentary on the ephemerality of the discarded and refound.

I take this opportunity to introduce some words from an essay in Concrete Archive, by Carmen Stolfi, the curator and writer, in her essay ‘Archiving the Ephemeral’ in Concrete Archives (pp90-100) discusses the ‘Fear of Missing Out’ (FOMO) generation, the implication of a quick discard for the ‘before’ and the breathless eagerness for the ‘next’, so, is he commenting critically about society? “It is an observation, not a political or a social statement, but is embedded in the work, we have talked about this a lot.  The work is about the bits and pieces of the present moment”  figs 10-17.  It strikes me again, the artist is making work about the present moment, as a photographer does, he uses a concreting method to fix.  He is offering the art buyer the opportunity to adopt a new piece about the pieces of her or his city.  We both cited a previous exhibition that involved forms, concrete powder and large geometric slabs of ice, the melting water reacted with the powder, leaving a race of its form, Canto “the void left, the empty, is about our society, we can feel empty in a vacuous society.” 

Figures 10 – 17

I talked briefly about my own work using concrete based imagery to evoke memories of places lost and the related struggles with perfecting the techniques, Canto’s response “there is lots of experimentation in my work and many failures” he shrugs with a nonchalance I naturally envy “it is normal, an everyday problem”  We talked about how Epoch 731 that I had seen in Amsterdam, was an antique paper and thus so very different from the inkjet I had tried to embed in concrete and the blue oxides in his moulds and how they added a beautiful hue to the ice moulds.

A context for my practice

There are several lessons drawn upon from this interaction, about the practicalities of refining constantly the thinking and making, but also working in the context of a city, a studio and a gallery – there is a scale, a societal positioning, a professional rooting and a presence to the work which reflects a long an personal investment into practice.

There is a powerful, kinetic presence in this installation, both literally with the machine that is making during the show or in spirit as the work ‘dries’ before your eyes, but being able to watch Canto prepare the works he plucks from his metaphoric river bed on the gallery floor to meticulously prepare it for show and sale is a tangible demonstration at the heart of his thinking, dwelling in the moment of fixing, of solidifying what would otherwise simply pass.  The ephemeral is snared by the permanence; the viewer is offered the opportunity not to be deceived by the aesthetic by the form of the ancient found object.

So, to my work; I have over the course of the masters degree firstly defined a position and an approach, then refined its context and created a bandwidth in which to work.  The drive and desire to form and think in three dimensions has created the concrete memoriam, a thing with thickness, with permanence.  As I rehearse and clarify the purpose of capturing places and memorialising them the parallel strategy to alter the perception and presence of space and surfaces through the application of projected light remains the counterpoint to the solid; the transient flickers across the permanent.  Canto perhaps melds the organic with its susceptibility to degrade over a long period of time, with his solidifying material.  I divide the solid from the ephemeral, so there is a division of thinking there.

Canto’s pursuit of architecture that emits from his training is a manifestly strong link to my own ‘back-story’ that in fact, over the last year, has returned to my foreground.  I am making now space and form, an unexpected outcome from a masters in photography.  The image capture remains the essence of the work and has a stronger presence than Canto’s.

Like Canto, I am commenting upon a society and a place which, whilst very different from the rigour of conservation of Rome, creates a fertile visual ground on which to make work and replay it to an audience that may see its city reflected back at them.  Beanland’s quote is at the headline of my show’s narrative, to which I add here the words of Will Alsop (born 1947), deceased this month, May 2018, who, as an architect and powerfully practicing artist said “We shouldn’t be knocking anything down, but always be adding, extending and adapting existing buildings, so we don’t destroy the memories people have of places”

Footnotes

IMG_3859

Figure 18 – notebook for interview preparation

Image 10-08-2018 at 15.35

Figure 19 – a view of me talking to Canto, by Rosanna, Materia Gallery

Article on Artsy for the Canto show;

<https://www.artsy.net/show/materia-sotto-linfluenza-del-fiume-sedimento

On Will Alsop (accessed 10 June 2018);

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/may/14/will-alsop-his-joyously-surreal-creations-broke-the-laws-of-physics-interview

All other images Philip Singleton

Practicing the Words

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

Figures 1, 2

I have been deliberately rehearsing the messages of the Pause Project and the exhibition title Birmingham Dust.  Talking over and over again, at any opportunity has assisted in refining not only the vocabulary of practice, but attunes the mental process too (the reinforcement of repetition).  To be compelling and convincing as a personality seems perhaps as important as the set of edited images themselves to engage people.

As I am a month away from installation, I have had meetings this week with the art blogger (Ruth Millington, fig 1) and also the PR (one-person) firm (Stacey Barnfield, fig 2) I have asked to spend a month promoting the exhibition.  Alongside the zine production, too, the published words become critical to be acute, succinct, punchy and meaningful.

Firstly, the list of buildings;

The Conservatoire

The Roundhouse

Municipal Bank

Edgbaston House

The Clarendon Suite

Madin Studio 123 Hagley Road

Herbert House

Gilder’s Yard

1-4 Great Hampton Street

Christopher Wray Building

Steelhouse Lane Police Station

Junction Works

Here is why they were chosen for my shoots, within the body of work;

All of these buildings were ripe for change and thus became the primary target for negotiation with owners and agents, to enable me to carry out the shoots.  I will often spend 5 to 8 hours in a building to understand its history and purpose and then closely observe its use, often uncovering surprises.

The project formed when I shot Edgbaston House on the Calthorpe Estate, in late 2016 and again in 2017, as I was expecting a series of banal and repetitive spaces over its 20 storeys, but in fact the things left behind were curiously engaging and a real find –  both corporate and personal, from food, to tables, to pictures, signs, computers and a suitcase.  I took delight in the intimacy, the detail, the unexpected – as if stories were emerging or being implied, peoples’ lives, their memories, the simple signs of abandonment.  I use dust as a theme because it evokes the passing of time and neglect – it also shrouds but invites marks and traces of human movement, like fingerprints.  Photography is a kind of imprint; light is shed onto an object then captured onto the camera’s sensor and that moment is caught.  The moment precedes the wrecking ball or the polishing of the new.  So, these memories are made solid when I create concrete tablets that are in the installation at Argentea gallery.  It is as if I make concrete from the dust or crunched up walls.

All twelve of the buildings are within the wider city centre of Birmingham.  I have been living here for 28 years now and I am certain that the sheer pace and volume of change in the city exceeds anything I have seen before.  The routes we take are being altered, familiar forms, structures and buildings are being reconfigured, rearranged.  All this change means we lose the past, so memories can only live in our mental catalogue and of course through images.  We live so much now ‘in the moment’ but we calibrate where we are now with where we were – call it progress, call it growth, call it regeneration, but it is only those descriptors if we know where we have been and what things were like.  Photography serves as a visual stimulus and founds these thoughts.  This is why I make a statement of memoriam via the solidity and tangibility of concrete and, by contrast and counterpoint, the projection of the ephemeral, playing with light, remaking images onto new surfaces.

A little more about my back-story, where the themes interact with the text above;

Being an architect has given me an undeniable view of the world – the materiality, the shapes, the forms and meaning of things.  This has seeped into my image-based work.

Add to that the fascination with Birmingham – the city that has absorbed two-thirds of my life.  Its motto, Forward, provides fertile ground for architects; the liquidating of buildings just one generation old means the shiny new becomes the next wave of excitement.  I intervene with my camera into the paused time before the demolition ball or clean-up moves in.

I have become more reflective; my images indulge that sentiment.  Each building earmarked for change or death, however seemingly ordinary, I have discovered, is imbued with a patina of life, even when the people are long gone.  There are marks, abandoned things, echoes of life.

So, the work is about memory – both the physical and the social – of Birmingham.  Its prominent buildings like the Conservatoire to the ordinary, like shops in the Jewellery Quarter.

The work is not some vast vista documenting facades and huge volumes, it is more about the intimate, the detail, the lost moments, the leftover objects.

The exhibition is an exploration of the dust of time; dust as the sign of passing.  The work divides into three very different media – I have been experimenting with concrete and this has become solid, tangible tablets, like a permanent memorial to the objects that will be gone, forever.  Concrete is that hard material, almost like a remaking from dust.  As a counterpoint, the other media is projection, where I will be creating an opportunity for the gallery visitor to see images in constantly rolling pairs – these are more transient, about light and moments of observation.  So one thing you can touch, the other is fleeting.  The third means for showing is the traditional, high quality, limited edition print, framed and behind glass, to demonstrate that the work is rooted and can be regarded in a conventional sense.

Notes

Stacey Barnfield image from, company website, accessed 13.5.2018

Ruth Millington image from Twitter (@ruthmillington) accessed 13.5.2018