Part 1. Project 3. Conclusion

Conclusion

I started Creative Arts Today prepared to have a more open mind and knowing I would find this initial section on Contemporary Art hard. It has been a struggle trying to keep questioning and find understanding for things which I see as grandstanding. The finest example of this is Damian Hirsts shark in formaldehyde, I’ve read several essays on that now all explaining to me how many layers of meaning there are but I just can’t take it seriously. What surprised me most about my responses to this module is that even when I really looked deeply into it, I could find nothing that appealed to me. If that means I’m doomed to be a cultural peasant for the rest of my life at least I’ll know I’ve tried!

 I haven’t felt inspired by any of the works that I’ve looked at, that’s quite a strong word. There are several Illustrators and Photographers that inspire me but nothing from this module has stood out. The most interesting installation for me was the illuminated lettering ‘A Place Beyond Belief’ by Nathan Coley. Initially I was hopeful that this might prove to be a Contemporary Artist that I could get behind but these hopes were swiftly dashed when I started to explore the rest of his work. What really put me off his work was the Dundee based housing block in the Bristol church yard in response to Bristollian history. I’ve searched the internet out of sheer curiosity looking for any reasoning behind it, any sense, but am still bemused.

I have discovered one artist that I am interested in. Doug Aitken and his use of large letters containing photographic imagery. It reminded me of an exercise in Illustration One where we had to use mixed media to illustrate pairs of words, ie FAT would be bulbous and composed of McDonalds labels. He is one artist which I would like to look at further.

What has changed for me is my definition of Art, or maybe rather, my understanding of what Art is for other people. I still prefer my physical image depicting something, these images often prove to be thought provoking/stimulating for me. I better understand now that other people don’t want or need that physical image, they are happy just to be stimulated in a particular direction and fill in the blanks for themselves.

Part 1. Project 3. Case Study: ‘A Place Beyond Belief’

For the case study I must look at a piece called A Place Beyond Belief by Nathan Coley.

What’s your first response to this piece?

What are the meanings behind the words? I can see a church roof, is it a statement about heaven? Or is it more about what’s after belief? Death?

What questions are you going to ask in order to make sense of the piece?

  • Is it site specific? If so, where is it?
  • Who commissioned it and why? Were they motivated by politics/religion?
  • In which year was it constructed?
  • Does it only comprise of the illuminated letters or is there more too it? Does the scaffolding count as part of the piece or is that just what the letters are attached too?
  • Does the time of day at which you view it matter?
  • Does the piece evolve or is this the finished article?

What type of work do you think this is? It could fit into several different categories; how would you define it?

My immediate reaction is to say, it’s contemporary art! That’s surely too obvious an answer though so, if I had to pick a sub-category I would choose Text Art. Possibly Text Sculpture is a better word considering that all the letters are quite large physical items?

What do you think the text is about?

I think that the phrase ‘A Place Beyond Belief’ refers too either the afterlife, what people of religions believe awaits us all when we die, or possibly just a really strong sense of believing in something. From the initial image with the illuminated lettering set against the stormy sky either of those could be workable theories. With a different image taken from a different angle or at a different time of day the message could be quite different. I’m assuming here that the physical lettering on the scaffolding is the artwork here, not the photograph.

Listen to the monologue – what are your first thoughts?

I could not access the given link to the monologue nor locate it when I searched, I did however find an article from the Guardian newspaper in which the artist talked about the creation of the piece.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/sep/23/nathan-coley-kosovo-sculpture-beacon

My first thought is that the text on the art installation is not religious as I initially thought. It is a message of hope and aspiration, something for people to strive towards. Religions with their differences often lead to wars but if everyone can look past that and just try to be good people, the world would be a happier place and we would all achieve a lot more.

What other information can you find on Coley’s website about this particular piece? The ‘view text’ link, centre top, is a good starting point.

Where is it actually sited? Does this change your response to it?

Godwin, M. (2019). Bad religion: A Place Beyond Belief reaches Kosovo – in pictures. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2012/sep/23/place-beyond-belief-kosovo-nathan-coley [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

The installation is sited in Kosovo outside a half built Orthodox church. The country is mostly Muslim, they were oppressed by Slobodan Milosevic in the 1990’s and the church is seen as a symbol of that.

The siting does not change my response to it. The wording and it’s message is not site-specific but I would argue that it is situation-specific. The original inspiration for Coley was the aftermath of 9-11 in which it was obvious that people had to come together, to move past differences of religion and work for a greater good. That is very similar to the situation in Kosovo post-Milosevic. The Muslims were the majority and they suffered under an oppressive regime, they could turn on the minorities much like what happened in South Africa or they could all try and work together to create a better future for their country.

Have your views on this piece changed after listening to Coley speak about it? If so, why?

Yes my views have changed on reading more about the origins of the piece. I initially thought that it was more likely to be a religious statement, now I can see that it is about something much bigger than that. My view changed on learning about the Sikh man on the train experiencing misplaced hostility, now that I have that piece of information I am better placed to apply a context to the wording on the scaffold.

Can you see how this piece might take on more political significance than we might have realised upon first viewing the image on the page?

Yes, the message that Coley has chosen to illuminate is particularly relevant to Kosovo. They are currently on the road to being recognised internationally as an independent nation, though still under supervised independence and with some way to go they are looking to the future. It is said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, as recently as the 1990’s whilst being oppressed by Serbia, all ethnic Albanians (90% of the population) were banned from holding state jobs. Normally sweeping acts like that are in the history books but that is still one in living memory. That is exactly the kind of act that Kosovo wants to move away from, a mistake that they do not want their politicians to make again. That is possibly why the Guardian article talks about how it was the idea of Petrit Selimi, Kosovo’s deputy minister for foreign affairs to have the installation in place for one month and how there is an idea of the Government buying a copy of it to display in their Parliament building as a constant reminder of where the nation has been and what it is heading towards.

Do you think contextual information is essential to gaining a greater understanding of contemporary art? Do you think that it should be an essential ingredient?

Contextual information is essential to gaining a greater understanding of contemporary art. Without it the various pieces have no meaning or relevance and is a waste of time in both the creation and the viewing.

What do you think about this piece, what do you think it achieves?

I think that whilst this piece was on location in Pristina, Kosovo it will have been a constant reminder that we need to move beyond tribal differences and work together to make a better future for everybody.

  With something so large and outdoors, even when it has been taken away again it is not the sort of thing that will be quickly forgotten. The juxtaposition of it against a church which was a symbol of Serbian oppression will have served to magnify the message that Coley is trying to spread. I think that the installation will have had an effect locally, I think it will be a reminder, those that forget history are doomed to repeat it.

I then had a further look at some more of Nathan Coleys work as displayed on http://www.studionathancoley.com/works

 

ttp://www.studionathancoley.com/works

 

You imagine what you desire (Brighton) 2015

The phrase “You imagine what you desire” is a quote from a play, ‘Back to Methuselah’ Pt 1 Act 1 written by George Bernard Shaw. The full quote is “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will’. For an installation in Australia Coley chose to split the text into different sections and install them seperatley. The installations were not just confined to Australia, the above installation was resident in Brighton in 2015.

This is my favourite of the variations of examples that I can see on Coleys website. The reason for my preference is the choice of Place. Brighton is very close to my hometown so I know it’s culture well. Famed as the gay capital of the UK it has a fun loving all accepting environment where people can be as flamboyant as they like. With Brightons reputation the topic of sexuality frequently gets associated with the most unlikely issues. I looked at this work by Coley inside a church and instead of thinking of religion I have thoughts of sexual tolerance and it’s occasional absence. The South East coast has a strong older population many of whom are a little bit stuck in their ways meaning that there are still such unfortunate scenes as people attempting to ‘pray the gay away’ out of their children. Also linked to this for me are the many individuals that I have known who have been passionately anti-gay only to burst out of the closet a few years later.

Moving in a totally different direction and looking at it’s specific placement in a church as opposed to the town, it could be a statement about faith. People imagine what they really want, I imagine leaving the military, a new career in the creative arts and being able to have a dog. People who are passionate about their religions imagine a heaven, a loving god and in some cases miracles.

There is a school of thought that to achieve what you want you only have to picture it clearly enough, to see it happening and it will materialise. This potentially could also be a message reinforcing that belief.

It looks very different when the illuminated letters are displayed in a gallery on a plain wall as seen below.

When set against a backdrop of trees and nature the phrase could be relating to yet something else. It could be a message about saving the planet or global warming, or even a hope for good weather!

Nathan Coley, A Place Beyond Belief, 2012, Illuminated text on scaffolding, Dimensions variable, Installation view,Haunch of Venison, London, Photo: Peter Mallet, Courtesy Studio Nathan Coley.

As something completely different to look at I also chose ‘Iceman’. I was interested to read that when at art school Coley was encouraged to explore ideas rather than traditional artistic medium. https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/features/nathan-coley

Due to this he works in a range of media including photography, film and sculpture whilst approaching ‘questions about how we relate to public spaces and architecture’.

Iceman 2005 was the result of a commission in the city of Bristol. Coley was invited (amongst others) to join an exhibition called ‘Thinking of the Outside’ which was supposed to be in response to Bristol’s historic landscape.

As the National Galleries article describes, rather than making a work that came from the place, Coley decided to bring a work too the place.

So, on a project that was to respond to the historic landscape of Bristol which is extremely colourful in both drama (slavery and trading) and actual structures, Coley chose to make a plywood rendition of a four-storey housing block. On the side he then added a graffiti tag which he had photographed up in Dundee. The tag itself, ‘Iceman’, refers to heroin. This entire ensemble he then placed in the churchyard of a place called St Johns which is in the centre of the town.

I’d love to know what the exhibition organisers thought of it!

. Situations. (2019). Nathan Coley: Iceman / 2005 – Situations. [online] Available at: http://www.situations.org.uk/projects/nathan-coley-iceman-2005/ [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019]. .

Nathan Coley, Iceman, 2005 (detail), painted plywood, 3.2m x 4.8m x 2.7m. Photo: Jamie Woodley, Courtesy Studio Nathan Coley.

Part 1. Project 3. Research Point: Text in Art

Research Point –

I accessed both the hyperlinks listed in the course manual.

The first ( https://www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms/collection/themes/artist-rooms-theme-language) led to a Page Not Found error message.

The second ( https://www.tate.org.uk/search?f[0]=im_vid_49%3A2579) led to a catalog of all the work held by the Tate.

One link which did work was https://www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms/collection/themes/language

The essay at this hyperlink seemed to be about the evolution of the use of language and its increased incorporation into art. This ranges from examples by Bruce Nauman with neon tube wording to more basic presentations of words by Edward Ruscha as seen in his ‘Dirty Baby’. Ruscha focused more on pop culture and common parlance when choosing his word forms. In this sense ‘time’ and ‘place’ are very relevant because out of context the words ‘Dirty Baby’ have very different meanings.  

Bruce Nauman, ‘La Brea/Art Tips/Rat Spit/Tar Pits’ 1972
https://www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms/collection/themes/language

Bruce Nauman
La Brea/Art Tips/Rat Spit/Tar Pits 1972
ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland
© ARS, NY and DACS, London 2019

Edward Ruscha, ‘DIRTY BABY’ 1977
https://www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms/collection/themes/language

Edward Ruscha
DIRTY BABY 1977
ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland
© Ed Ruscha

As marketing became more important with the rise of consumerism post-war especially in the 50’s it makes sense that people were paying more attention to the effect that the different presentations of words can have. The font or size, ie small/bold etc, can impart different meanings to the same word choices. This is something which I explored in my previous module, Illustration One.

Displaying a selection of words can inspire the viewers imagination into creating a sensation for themselves as I saw in Exercise Two when looking at the work of Kate Paterson. “The scent of rain left on the moon” is something which I can conjure up very easily.

The essay then continues on to talk about artists associated with the dada movement and their rejection of traditional art materials in favour of ‘ready-mades’. Again Duchamps ‘Fountain’ is brought up, apparently ‘this controversial work questioned the identity of the artist through the incorporation of text’. That statement piqued my curiosity until I read on to find that this was only because he’d written his pseudonym ‘R.Mutt’ on the side. Frankly, unless you’re leading a secret double life or have a high level of identity theft paranoia you don’t need a pseudonym. As for writing it on the side of a plaster cast of a toilet, I can only assume that this was to try and add hidden layers of meaning to hide the fact that it is just showboating. A plaster cast of my toothbrush with my name on the handle is not a controversial statement on oral hygiene habits of the 21st century, it’s just a plaster cast of a toothbrush from someone currently living in a 4 person room.

The section which I found most interesting was this “Conceptual art represented a shift towards ideas and systems that invited the viewer to engage with an intellectual concept, art became increasingly ephemeral and transient – famously described by Duchamp as the “dematerialisation of the art object”.

I think that this pinpoints what it is that I struggle with so much with conceptual art. Whereas the conceptual art movement focused on ideas and systems which the viewer has to take more of an active role in, to me proper art is a physical depiction of something tangible.

Reading further through the essay there were more examples of how artists have used the presentation of words alone in different forms to provoke some kind of mental engagement with the viewer. They seem to be intended to stimulate either the imagination of the senses.

Ian Hamilton Finlay takes this a step further with his garden creation Little Sparta. He has random words which relate back to Ancient Greece, Sparta and Athens at different points within the garden.

I read the Errata page in the course manual and found a reccomedation for another article to read. (https://www.tate.org.uk/art/student-resource/exam-help/letters-and-words)

Things that I noted from the article-

  • Cubists were the first to include text in their art in approximatley 1912
  • Pop artists (such as Andy Warhol) used logos and phrases from consumer culture in their work
  • Even many layered fragmented old wall posters were used as found art. ie Mimmo Rotella
  • Concrete poetry arranges words and letters in a visual way, often the emphasis is more on the layout than the content
  • Wordscapes – descriptions of scenes from films – interesting idea
  • text in art is useful as a call to action. ie the Guerrilla Girls use it with humour and imagery to make a point about relevant issues.
  • Having watched the video about ‘Bob and Roberts Smith’s work, I do not think there is as much deep meaning to it as the videos presentation implies. Where is the line between hobby and art?

Part 1. Project 3. Exercise 3: Gallery or Site Visit

Unfortunately, I am currently sat in the middle of nowhere (Falkland Islands) where I am condemned to remain for some months and so am unable to get to any kind of art gallery. Before I left the UK (knowing about this exercise) I had a look around my local art galleries at the exhibitions that they had on. There was nothing that particularly caught my eye until I wandered through town and strolled past one of the sites of the local annual street art festival. I love a bit of good street art and normally always end up stopping there for a bit to stand and stare. Street Art has been gaining in popularity in the last few decades thanks to the efforts of a while cadre of artists including one of the most famous, Banksy, a household name. Not a lot can get more contemporary than things that were painted just last year, and frankly after the exercises that I’ve covered so far I’m just happy to be looking at something that isn’t riddled with maggots, so my two selected pieces are both from the North Street Car Park, Cheltenham.

Each year during the paint festival artists who apply to enter are allocated plots of wall in various places around the town. The criteria is pretty broad but all designs are to be approved before they are applied to the walls. Because of this a lot of the designs are site specific, the advance notice allows the artists to design something which works with the surrounding environment and architecture.

Both the images are taken from – Cheltenham PaintFest. (2019). Cheltenham PaintFest. [online] Available at: https://www.cheltenhampaintfestival.co.uk [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

The first, by an artist called Void One in 2018 is of a tank emerging from a wall.

Void One, (2019). [image] Available at: http://ttps://www.cheltenhampaintfestival.co.uk/copy-of-2017-artwork [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

This piece is more designed to be on a corner than site specific in so much as it was designed for painting onto the corner, utilising a small area of the ground in front of it has enabled a very effective 3-D effect to be achieved, the tank really pops out of the wall and towards the viewer.

As a piece it makes me think of a future time, something that could maybe transpire if the world continues to relentlessly build over green spaces and inch towards a Total Recall-esque existence.

Looking at Void One’s website it became clearer that this tank really was specific for the Cheltenham Festival. His portfolio shows that generally he just paints artistic squiggles. It made me curious about why he chose a tank for that particular location.

Looking at the different work he has done for protests and commisions he covers a wide range of topics in a highly skilled way. My particular favourite is a wall featuring Alice in Wonderlands white rabbit which he created as a commision for a summer mushroom party!

WooCommerce, B. (2019). PAINT_. [online] Void One. Available at: https://voidone.uk/portfolio/paint/ [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

The second piece I selected is by an artist called Rich RTC Turner. It shows a Chimpanzee called Caesar from the franchise Planet of the Apes, Caesar ends up leading a war against the humans, so his face becomes quite a menacing sight. The film franchise is filmed in jungle/woods, so the artist has made use of the handy nearby tree placement to give added power to the image of Caesars face (this is the only tree on this particular road). This painting is site-specific, it wouldn’t look anywhere near as good a bit further down the road and especially not on the side of a building!

RTC, (2019). [image] Available at: http://ttps://www.cheltenhampaintfestival.co.uk/copy-of-2017-artwork [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

Suprisingly Rich RTC Turner does not have his own website. I say surprisingly because he is quite a rising star on the stencil street art scene. His Facebook page and Instagram are all he uses to document his work. He paints on a wide range of topics in a variety of locations. Heavy on the portraiture he is known for his use of stencils but is in no way confined to it. His artwork is simply superb.

Instagram.com. (2019). rich turner (@rtc72arts) • Instagram photos and videos. [online] Available at: https://www.instagram.com/rtc72arts/?fbclid=IwAR0zuZfcerrVRU-7HaNwkxEj2GzeBMF5GUpFXYiUYeEyiShHAERZXuZqdKk [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

Following this exercise I am to read and make notes on an article at www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/it-installation-art.

  • the phrase installation art has no one definition anymore
  • installation art can include the environment the art is displayed in as well as the piece itself
  • some artists use our bodily reaction to the display space to enhance or antagonise the senses
  • even the Tate Modern does not acquire a lot of installation art for its collection preferring to invest in mediums such as painting, sculpture, photography and video.
  • further installation art is dedicated solely to the use that people can make of it such as Rirkrit Tiravanija who recreated his apartment to be used by the viewers.
  • Jorge Pardo convinced the LA Museum of Contemporary Art to subsidise him building a house as both a dwelling and a work of art ( – How. How can this possibly be classed as art. I’ll paint my house pink with yellow spots if it means someone will subsidise my mortgage. *head in hands*)
  • installation artists attempt to activate the viewer in some way

Part 1. Project 3. Exercise 2: Developing Your Research Skills

In this exercise I was directed to look at the work of Katie Paterson, I was directed to particularly look at her website featuring her iceberg project and to listen to the extract at the bottom of the page.

When I visited this website I found that the sound extract was not functional. Reading the page as directed I found that it was about a phone line installed on an iceberg at Vatnajokull, the idea was that for one year anyone from around the world could phone the iceberg and hear it melting.

How would you define this piece in terms of media?

I would define this piece as an interactive sound installation.

Unlike Longplayer (Project 2) this is a genuinely site-specific piece. Make notes on this and also on Vatnajokulls relationship to place and Patersons use of text.

This piece is obviously site-specific, it’s linked to a particular iceberg. Vatnajokull is a place which normally would be inaccessible except to the few. By adding a phone line in, this has now become accessible to anyone on the planet (for the one year that the artwork was operational). By allowing people to phone the iceberg, Paterson is empowering them to generate their own sense of place and project it towards the idea of Vatnajokull without ever having visited, much the same way that people do with books that they read. Imagination can be a powerful tool.

 I could not see any use of text in the reports and pictures which I could locate about Patersons project, so I am assuming that this relates to her other work?

I inspected her website and could not find any examples of her work using text. What I did find (on a broader search) was a video about an exhibition in which her work was to be placed beside that of William Turner. 

paterson, k. (2019). [image] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaowitdHZUA [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

Within this video there were several phrases displayed in large letters by themselves on walls coated in a variety of textures. From their positioning they look as though they too are features of the exhibition as opposed to supporting elements. Possibly this is what the course workbook is referring too? The phrases were;

 “The scent of rain left on the moon”

“The speed of light slowed to absolute stillness”

“a drawing made from the ashes of stars”

“the surface of the moon sculpted onto white cliffs” I’ve got quite a vivid imagination, so I find all of these phrases pretty compelling without any further input. My favourite is “The scent of rain left on the moon”. It really tickles my imagination. It makes me think of the smell of earth and grass after rain which in turn takes me back to a variety of locations and therefore that phrase has given me a sense of place. The same could be said of “a drawing made from the ashes of stars”, it brings to mind the stars, the solar system, the Sun, and as the mind wanders back towards Earth…a sense of place in the Solar System. I’m finding ‘place’ a lot easier to relate to than ‘time’.

Part 1. Project 3. Research Point

Make a list of the artists mentioned in Dean and Millars essay. Look up at least one piece by each of the artists mentioned whose work incorporates text. How many of these pieces are relevant to the theme of place and how do they reference place?

  1. Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid I’ve listed these two together as they worked together so closely that even when just one of them made an image they chose to sign them together. They created a series of paintings called ‘Peoples Choice’ where after using questionnaires by country they would identify the factors most and least wanted in a painting by that countrys demographic. Below is Americas Most Wanted.

Deadword.com. (2019). painting by numbers. [online] Available at: http://deadword.com/site1/pay/komar_melamid/index.html [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

This is relevant to the theme of place as in the majority of countries, it was a place or location which the questionnaires respondents listed as a desirable scene. It is also relevant to place as it is an accumulation of views taken from one specific geographical location. The responses will be governed by the different living conditions, economic hardships and political structures present in each particular country.

2. Graham Guissin

Blurred, Vague, Unstable
Paintings, T. and Image, M. (2019). Blurred, Vague, Unstable | Graham Gussin. [online] Grahamgussin.co.uk. Available at: http://www.grahamgussin.co.uk/work/blurred-vague-unstable/ [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

These neon letters bolted to the wall seem to be something of a contradiction as they are neither blurred or vague nor unstable. I imagine that they could be deemed as relevant to a sense of place as something like a comment on the fleeting nature of an average lifespan and everyones quest to leave the planet, their place, in better shape than they found it. I struggle with this as I really do not see how neon lettering can be thought of as art.

3. Roni Horn

Tate. (2019). ‘Thicket No. 1’, Roni Horn, 1989-90 | Tate. [online] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/horn-thicket-no-1-t07178 [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

I’ve read the blurb that accompanys this image on the Tates website. The blurb itself does not mention place at all, I had a different thought process entirely when I looked at it myself.

To me the references to place are quite heavy despite being unspecific. The nearest thing to philosophy that I have seen that I like is the old question ‘when a tree falls in a forest does it still make a sound if thee is no-one to hear it’. This piece with it’s two lines reading “to see a landscape as it is” “when I am not there” reminds me of that old question. I think of trees and forests which I love, of deforestation and the relentless spread of humaity over the planet and into the wild places which I hate. It’s quite sad.

So, for me, this piece invokes a sense of place.

4. Doug Aitken

Time for me to chew some humble pie. I’ve found a piece of contemporary art that I love.

fuck you
Putting Text Into Context. (2019). Text as object : Doug Aitken. [online] Available at: https://textintocontext.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/doug-aitken/ [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

For me, this piece is class. It summarises rebellious spirit, adventure and daring to push the boundaries of whats possible. In terms of place there is the obvious reference to Planet Earth, this itself refers to outer space. In terms of the viewer it took me straight back to being 18 with the world at my feet, when anything was possible. More of a time in life than a place.

5. Ian Hamilton Finlay

Ft.com. (2019). The conflict connection | Financial Times. [online] Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/375726b4-e60e-11e1-bece-00144feab49a [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

This is one of Finlays stones from his garden entitled Little Sparta. It references the Romans which immeadiatley gives the viewer a sense of context, it gives us a sense of time and place. It also makes a clear and easy to understand statment. The Romans (as Monty Python explained) did a lot for us. We have not had an era of such innovation yet which could possibly compare.

6. Alec Finlay

5 poem-objects (detail) 2012 hand embroidered linen handkerchiefs, with Jean Malone 5 parts 48 x 48 cm each (unframed); 57.5 x 57.5 cm each (framed)
Ingleby Gallery. (2019). Works | Alec Finlay: 5 poem-objects. [online] Available at: https://www.inglebygallery.com/exhibitions/2047-alec-finlay-5-poem-objects/works/ [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

This collaboration work references a sense of place in a broad sense. It gives the viewer the option of regarding where they are right now, where they were previously or where they intend to head in life. I like the idea that everything is connected, I dont think that anything is pre-ordained but I do think we can choose which route we take.

7. Marine Hugonnier

Artmap.com. (2019). Marine Hugonnier at Max Wigram London – Artmap.com. [online] Available at: https://artmap.com/maxwigram/exhibition/marine-hugonnier-2010 [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

I found that with a lot of Marine Hugonniers work it was the isolation of previously established text which formed the artwork. In this example of a newspaper front page depicting the moon landing the star of the show should be the image of Neil Armstrong stood on the moons surface. Instead the text is all that remains so the viewer is forced to imagine the scenes for themselves to fill in the blanks. In this sense, we are forced to generate a sense of place for ourselves.

8. Robert Smithson

Image result for rob smithson ta heap of language
on site review. (2019). Robert Smithson: a heap of language, 1966. [online] Available at: https://onsitereview.ca/miscellanea/2014/3/11/robert-smithson-a-heap-of-language-1966.html [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

In Robert Smithsons ‘A Heap of Language’ in a very basic sense it gives me a sense of place. It visually looks like a hill and when walking in the hills I always find that they make my mind more eloquent…wordy. It vaguely reminds me of the opening sequence of Star Wars (the angle of the text) which in turn takes me back to being in our ratty local cinema. Except when it’s the only cinema you’ve ever been too and the biggest screen you’ve ever seen, it’s more of a palace. If I shut my eyes I can see the pink lights on the walls, smell the popcorn and feel the tackyness on the floor.

9. Guy Moreton

I could not locate any work by this artist that used text and referenced a sense of place. Whilst reading through his bio I did learn about a collaboration project that he carried out with Alec Finlay and Micheal Nedo entitled Ludwig Wittgenstein – There Where You Are Not. It explores landscape and the architecture of landscape, but from what I could see, without text.

Guymoreton.org. (2019). Guy Moreton | Biography. [online] Available at: http://www.guymoreton.org/biography/ [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

10. William Blake

An artist that I have heard of! I knew that Blake was famed for being a poet but I had no idea that he also painted, exhibited at the Royal Academy and opened a print shop. I read a lot about his various work and found that he released a series of poems called ‘Songs of Innocence’. It seems that these poems were originally presented with watercolour paintings. I have not been able to locate examples of the two together but I did find the poems themselves online.

Poetry Foundation. (2019). William Blake 101 by The Editors. [online] Available at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/articles/91570/william-blake-101 [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

11. Caspar David Friedrich

I could not find any examples of work by this artist using text which referenced a sense of place.

Caspardavidfriedrich.org. (2019). Caspar David Friedrich – The Complete Works – Biography – caspardavidfriedrich.org. [online] Available at: https://www.caspardavidfriedrich.org/biography.html [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

12. John Constable

I could not find any examples of work by this artist using text which referenced a sense of place.

John-constable.org. (2019). John Constable – The Complete Works – Biography – john-constable.org. [online] Available at: https://www.john-constable.org/biography.html [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

13. Martin Heidigger

I could not find any examples of work by this artist using text which referenced a sense of place.

Martin Heidegger. (2019). Biography – Martin Heidegger. [online] Available at: https://thegreatthinkers.org/heidegger/biography/ [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

14. Poussin

I could not find any examples of work by this artist using text which referenced a sense of place although I did find a large catalog of paintings which featured a lot of landscapes.

Nicolaspoussin.org. (2019). Nicolas Poussin – The Complete Works – Biography – nicolaspoussin.org. [online] Available at: http://www.nicolaspoussin.org/biography.html [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

15. Dan Graham

I could not find any examples of work by this artist using text which referenced a sense of place.

Tate. (2019). Dan Graham born 1942 | Tate. [online] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/dan-graham-1200 [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

16. Joachim Koester

I could not find any examples of work by this artist using text which referenced a sense of place.

Koester, J. (2019). Joachim Koester. [online] Widewalls. Available at: https://www.widewalls.ch/artist/joachim-koester/ [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

17. Jane Wilson

I could not find any examples of work by this artist using text which referenced a sense of place although I did find a large catalog of landscapes.

Artnet.com. (2019). Jane Wilson | artnet. [online] Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/jane-wilson/ [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

18. Jane and Louise Wilson

I wasnt sure which Jane Wilson I was supposed to be looking at so I also checked out the work of the identical twins Jane and Louise Wilson. Again, I could not find any examples of work that included text and referenced Place.

Artsy.net. (2019). Jane and Louise Wilson – 32 Artworks, Bio & Shows on Artsy. [online] Available at: https://www.artsy.net/artist/jane-and-louise-wilson [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

19. Alexander Maris

I struggled to find a decent information source for Alexander Maris. From what I can see he is primarily a photographer and does not appear to use text in his work.

CULTURAL POLITICS. (2019). CULTURAL POLITICS. [online] Available at: https://newsgrist.typepad.com/culturalpolitics/alexander-maris/ [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

20. Susan Maris

Again I struggled to find a good information source for Susan Maris. On one website under ‘biography’ all it said was “Alexander and Susan Maris is an artist” ! There is evidence of photographic work attributed to both the Maris’s but no solo work that I can see, and nothing that uses text.

https://www.mutualart.com/Artist/Alexander—Susan-Maris/E1D4F8F159634F66/Biography

21. Mette Tronvoll

On exploring the artists website I found that she has a lot of photographs which give a sense of place but none that use text.

Tronvoll.net. (2019). Mette Tronvoll–Biography. [online] Available at: http://www.tronvoll.net/biography.html [Accessed 18 Jul. 2019].

I found this exercise quite frustrating. Although it was interesting looking at the different artists work and learning some new things, to find that so many of them do not use text initially made me think that I wasn’t reading around enough. After spending a couple of days exploring different sources and satisfying myself that my initial impressions were correct I do not feel that what I have submitted for this research point reflects the amount of time I have put into it.

But, on a positive note, I’ve found some Contemporary Art that I quite like. I’ll be looking at more of Doug Aitkens work at a later date.

Part 1. Project 3. Exercise 1: ‘Place’, London: Thames and Hudson by Dean, T, and Millar, J. (2005)

This exercise requires me to read and assimilate the essay on Page 11-26 of the set book ‘Place. London: Thames and Hudson by Dean, T and Millar, J (2005)’

Reflect on how you found the activity. Is it too difficult? Do you agree with the authors or not? Has the piece expanded your understanding of what the word ‘place’ can signify?

I read the essay which I found too philosophical for my taste, particularly “Place is all that there is, the limit of all things and in this it might be considered as a divine being” (Page 14-15).

 The activity is not difficult. The most challenging bit for me was in cutting through the waffle to what the authors were getting at. I feel sure that I could have put all the same points across a lot more succinctly with a page of bullet points.

  I don’t agree with a lot of the conclusions drawn by the authors. I do not think that the value of place has been diminished. I think that it is down to the perception of each individual, if you have been to a particular location, you know what it feels like, you know it’s moods. How those make an impression on you will differ to those of the next person. For example, I see big green hills and think of the rural freedom that they provide, a town dweller may look at them and imagine only the horrors of the  wind, the rain and the cow pats. What I mean to say is, somewhere either resonates with you or it doesn’t, there is no lessening of that.

  The only new thing I found within this text was the description of how the modern concept of landscape has evolved into being. This was interesting, and I saw the truth in it more on my third/fourth time of reading than I did on my initial read-through.

Part 1. Project 3. Place In Art

“…there are more concepts of place than actual geographic ones’’ (Dean and Millar, 2005, p12)  What does this mean?

My initial response to this one question perfectly sums up what I’m struggling with with this section of the module. Although I know exactly what the authors are getting at with that statement, my initial thoughts were that there are an awful lot of places in the world and that I doubt they could come up with enough theoretical notions to beat the list I could make after just ten minutes with an atlas.

What the authors are trying to put across is that there are many different uses of the word place. I’m currently working out of the country, everyday for 2 weeks I have sat in the same chair at the communal meal time. Initially it was just a chair, now it’s my place which is left free for me. When I first arrived here my initial actions were to put my own photos on the wall and to swap the institutional bedding for some that I brought with me, doing that turned it from a faceless room into my place. Another example is the feeling of relief that I have on returning to the UK from working abroad or even holidays. Although other places are nice, England is where I belong, it is my place.

Place doesn’t have to be a physical location, it can be a notion or a mindset or even a memory attached to a set of circumstances which make it relevant to an individual.

Part 1. Project 2. Exercise 2: Interpreting Video Art

This exercise instructed me to watch a video of an artwork by Sam Taylor-Woods. This video which I accessed at https://youtu.be/BJQYSPFo7hk was a time lapse video of a bowl of fruit decaying.

YouTube. (2019). Still Life by Sam Taylor-Wood. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJQYSPFo7hk&feature=youtu.be [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

Initial Response after first viewing

I am puzzled as to how this can be classified as art. Maybe it is a statement on the perishable nature of life? Maybe it’s supposed to be a reminder that fresh food is better for you but it goes off fast? Maybe it’s a statement that peopleare ignoring their health and thereby their lifespans are shortening? Maybe my ideas that art should be something beautiful and good are wrong?

The media and form of the piece

The piece is, I’m assuming, the video as opposed to the rotting bowl of fruit. As a form I normally quite enjoy a time lapse video, the ones I see are more often things like sunsets or speed-art photoshop videos on Youtube. Seeing that someone has decided to apply time lapse video to something like decaying fruit was a bit of  shocker for me. Initialy the setup of the fruit looked quite classical and reminded me of a Caravaggio still life. In classical old paintings of bowls of fruit there were often nods to death or references to the impermanence of life, maybe by using video in this form Taylor-Woods is putting a modern spin on classical techniques?

What do you think has influenced this piece?

A lot of things could have influenced this piece. It could be a modern spin on a classical approach to still life, it could be a piece about the passing of time, or it could be a shock and awe exercise reminiscent of Damien Hirst. I had a look around at some of Taylor-Woods’ other work. A video which I accessed on YouTube at

https://youtu.be/NYka4ouQXqk (YouTube. (2019). Sam Taylor-Wood – A Little Death [720p][2002]. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYka4ouQXqk [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019]. ) entitled ‘A Little Death’ shows a hare and a peach rotting. As the video continues the maggots erupt from the body of the hare and consume it. Weirdly very little happens to the peach.

Again I found this quite gross to watch. There are different messages that the artist might be trying to put across, it could be a statement on the life cycle, how maggots will consume us all. Maybe it’s a statement on how we all feed off each other. Having read a few essays about Hirsts shark in a tank I imagine that it’s more likely to be a darker approach about how something like a consumerist society destroys all life and feeds off the broken carcass of it’s participants. Just a guess. I’ve noticed that not many of these modern artists seem to be wanting to spread messages of positivity and rainbows.

Talking of Damien Hirst, one of his early works which attracted him much publicity was a rotting cows head (complete with maggots) inside a tank. The tank even included smell holes to allow viewers of the piece to ‘engage further’ with the installation. Freud commented on it along the lines of that Hirst had opened his career with his best work.

The rotting cows head with maggots rings bells when I look at Taylor-Woods ‘A Little Death’. Is it a deep statement or is it more like one artist craving a bit of notoriety of the other and so is embracing the same concept?

How does this piece comment on time?

This piece comments on time in several different ways;

  • There is the more basic passage of time shown by the way the hare is being devoured by the maggots.
  • There is the relation to time shown by the speeded-up video which is what the viewer sees.
  • There is the way that seeing a video of a still life with its references to death relates to the classical painters of hundred of years ago.
  • There are possible references to vegetarianism, currently a very popular trend. This can be seen in the way the hare is devoured so much faster than mould starts to affect the peach on the left hand side.

In 250 words describe your understanding of this piece

Having made some notes of different aspects of the piece I believe that this video is about time passing. I think that Taylor-Wood wants us to think about how short a lifespan is and how everything ends with decay no matter who you are. I think this is symbolised by the choice of the hare, hares traditionally win races but this one has met the same end as everything else. This is further echoed by the maggots, they live breathe and breed just the same as we do and we get to see their life cycle play out as they feed on what has gone before.

  There are several different refences to time in this piece. The initial set-up echoes early still-lifes as depicted by Renaissance painters, this allows Taylor-Wood to show how far technology in art has come by using different methods to show the same relationships between life and death.

 The choice of video as a medium has allowed further references to the passage of time. The actual event of the hare rotting would have taken several days, possibly weeks. This is delivered to us in minutes thanks to technology. There is also a possible relationship here as to how long traditional paintings of still life would have taken to create as opposed to how we can use for example digital cameras to swiftly create the same stunning images.

 I think the use of video has allowed this art piece to be more user friendly (no Hirst-like smell holes here!), the choice of this media makes it accessible and gives it longevity.

Part 1. Project 2. Case Study: Interpreting sound – Longplayer

What is your initial reaction to the idea of this piece?

My initial reaction was to wonder how on earth they think that they can guarantee that something will play for 1000 years. My next reaction was to wonder why they would set this up in the first place. Is it for any substantial reason or just another act of humankind attempting to do something that will outlive them?

What do you think about the sounds in this piece?

I think the sounds are very basic, I imagine that this is to form a connection between the early music practitioners who used bowls in this way and to ensure that no matter how technology evolves the music can be continued. As the musicians on the video demonstrate, it is a music which can be created by hand.

Why do you think Finer has chosen these particular sounds?

I would take a guess that Finer chose these particular sounds because they do not form any obvious pattern or tune. It is the kind of background noise with which it is very easy to switch off and start daydreaming. Again looking at the ‘spectators’ on the video who, the longplayer website tells me’ are directed on where they may sit’ I can see that many are meditating and some are in fact asleep.

I’m really struggling with this module. The module textbook says ‘This is quite a mind blowing piece’. The internet shows me that there are legions of rabidly fanatical Longplayer fans, musicians are playing it on video with such a degree of seriousness, it was commissioned by an arts agency. Going back to Grayson Perrys Reith lectures at the beginning of the module he states a series of tests that something must pass for it to be successful art. I look at Longplayer and I see it passing these tests so I know that it must be classed as good, but for the life of me I can’t see why. If someone presented the concept of Longplayer to me on April the 1st I would put (and lose it seems) my house on it being a prank, a mad imagining of a brain addled by drugs over the course of a music career.

I understand that it’s a cool idea thinking that in decades to come people of a different generation will be listening to or maybe even still performing the composition but it’s not something that I can get all warm and fuzzy about.

Find out what site-specific means in art

Sitespecific  as found on  https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/s/site-specific

‘The term site-specific refers to a work of art designed specifically for a particular location and that has an interrelationship with the location’

Longplayer is not a site-specific installation. It is performed in various locations and is continually broadcast online. For something which Finer produced as a result of philosophical, cosmological and a physics perspective it would be wrong for the Longplayer to only have one home.

Analyse the performance of the piece, looking at how it is presented to the audience. Think about;

  • the quality of the sound used

The sound used has an ethereal quality. This echoes both backwards and forwards through time. The lack of human influence in the quality of sound produced, by which I mean they are ringing metal bowls as opposed to blowing into a woodwind instrument, ensures a consistency which may not otherwise have been achieved.

  • The choice of singing bowls

I would guess that Finer chose singing bowls as a matter of continuity. They have a long history, and with their very basic nature, should be around for years to come. There is also less room for artistic interpretation of Finers composition, less room for character. It is just a relentless clinical march of exactly what he wanted being played for the next 80 years. Another reason for the choice of singing bowls may have been for their ethereal quality, t is easy to space out or meditate when listening to their background noise.

  • the positioning of the singing bowls

The positioning of the bowls in circles reflects the circular nature of time such as the life cycle. It also physically resembles the rings of the Solar System which have long been associated with the passage of time, when shall we colonise Mars etc.

  • the positioning of the spectator

Spectators are allowed to circle the installation either around the periphery or within the rings. The rings keep reminding me o the life cycle and how humans keep rotating through it.

  • the time length of the piece

The piece is due to run for 1000 years and then it is intended that it should run again. The Longplayer site tells me that it is associated with the movement of planets, it seems that they only ever line up once every 1000 years and that Longplayer is designed to reflect this. Currently there are six pieces of music, the computer is choosing to play different parts of each piece at the same time which ensures that there will be different music with no repetitions until the next run through.

  • how the piece is performed

Players taking part in performances move within the rigs of the Longplayer set-up. This resembles a life cycle, the Solar System and the intended ongoing cycle of the Longplayer performance. Most of the time the piece is played by a computer but knowing that at some point this will become obsolete, a Trust has been established to ensure that new methods of continuing the composition are found as technology evolves.

Write a short interpretation of Longplayer

Longplayer is a 1000 year long musical composition composed by Jem Finer of The Pogues. It started playing at the turn of the millennium in 1999 and is currently officially based at a listening post in a lighthouse in Trinity Buoy Wharf London. Though performances are played in a variety of locations, in addition the whole thing is broadcast live on the Internet constantly. The Longplayer set up is of 234 singing bowls set around six concentric circles.  It is comprised of a series of six pieces of music, one for each physical circle of the composition which are all played at the same time. Each of the six pieces of music is broken down into a further si pieces/ The timing of each of the six pieces on each circle is staggered and picked at random by the computer (which usually controls the playing of the music) to ensure that nothing is repeated for a one thousand year cycle. The Longplayer composition is based on perspectives taken from physics, philosophy and cosmology as opposed to just music. The siting of the bowls in concentric circles echoes the movement of the planets. Once in a thousand years all the planets align, Circle One’s composition within the Longplayer piece takes 1000 years to complete, unlike the other circles ‘parts’ to play, it will not repeat itself. Finer has created a work which, if the Longplayer Trust is successful, will outlive generations to come.

For my research into Longplayer I used the following source;

Longplayer.org. (2019). Overview of Longplayer : Longplayer. [online] Available at: https://longplayer.org/about/overview/ [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].