Thursday, 29 January 2015

Phyllida Barlow and Richard Tuttle

Barlow: large scale installations in Hauser and Wirth, arranged so you can either walk through the space  or are excluded from a space and can only stand outside and gaze in. Interesting manipulation of space and viewer  and objects within it. Simple and quite crude materials and making.

Tuttle large scale installation in Turbine hall, Now there's a space to fill. Sense of being microscopic in comparison: like a flea in a woollen mill.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Phenomenology and James Turrell

Photo: Mike NewmanSkyspace, Thremenheere, Cornwall

By phenomenological definition, space is a medium of communication, of mediation and transference of idea and perception.  Heidegger thought that space had a physical presence; it is a material with which we interact and that our physical beings connect or radiate with the universe and thus our physical boundaries do not mark the end of our selves but rather the beginnings of our interaction with the world. In this sense, in Turrell’s work, the boundaries between subject and object, the constructs that scientists and philosophers have created to explain ourselves and our place in the universe become irrelevant as we glimpse the possibility of a different way of seeing, of perceiving beyond these ingrained constructs.

Video progression

Do I want to have single images on a loop as separate videos. or sequence images into plural videos. Move in one video from mouth to eye to ear to nose for example. Considering senses together.

Also shall I try a sequence of retinal images and eye images?
Also do more retinal images for print. Colour and b and w.

Lindsey Seers installation ideas
Lovely, flowing,, circular shape repeated, religious symbolism, a sense of moving through, sequence of apparently unconnected images. Colour and tones beautiful and rich.
At Hayward gallery, also sculptural objects, large and somehow empty.
Association and duality of solid and transcendent. What is the relationship between the body of the viewer and the mind of the artist?

Julio le Parc and Gavin Turk installation ideas

Julio Le Parc, Sackler Gallery, Hyde Park
Light installations in  very small spaces. Made them feel like circus side shows. Would like to have seen them individually in a large space. One interesting one made of closely spaced hanging mirrors that you walked through. Expected to feel claustrophobic but was strangely spacious. All you could see was yourself and countless moving reflections of other people in there too. 

Loved this one; looked like water running up hill.Reminded me of Mira Schendel exhibition at Tate Modern only she had much more space and class.
Having problems uploading the video I took. Stupid google+ so had to nick one from youtube.

Current exhibitions
Gavin Turk: We Are One
8 November 2014 - 8 February 2015

Gavin Turk's latest exhibition brings together many of his neon works, the signature pieces he made between 1995 and 2013 and which evidence the evolution of his practice, quite literally, in lights; their glow, suitably enough for Turk, has the aura of consumer fetish, celebrity and glamour. Turk often co-opts and transforms original meaning and many of his neon works turn everyday objects into luminous symbols. Hence a banana and a lobster channel the spirit of Warhol and Duchamp, in order to create Turk's own-brand logos. Visually reduced to minimal typographies, other works offer signs of communication in its simplest form: a seeing eye, a flickering flame, primordial hieroglyphs, with their ancient mysteries and secrets, evolved to modern day usage. A red star recalls Turk's 'Che Guevara' series and a red Maltese cross alludes to Yves Klein's interest in the Order of St John. Turk wore the Maltese cross when he married recently, in a ceremony that was a partial re-enactment of Klein's own wedding. Moreover each point of the Maltese cross represents the eight lands of origin, the origin of languages, and the values of truth, sincerity and faith. 

I am interested in the quality and power of light and the role it plays in perception. How our eyes and brain process the light photons and convert them chemically into electrical impulses which are transferred to the brain via the optic nerve and somehow shapes, colours, objects and ideas are seen and understood.
Light is energy and it can be so powerful that it hurts the eye.
 I'm not so interested in the figurative objects that Turk uses though I appreciate the aim of reappraising ordinary objects. Goes with my ideas about the ambiguity of what you see in my videos. 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Perceptual Reality and the retina

 The retina is actually a part of the brain that is isolated to facilitate the conversion of patterns of light into neuronal signals. These signals are processed by different parts of the brain. The perception of objects and the totality of the visual scene is accomplished by the visual Association Cortex.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Technical issues with Premiere and Photoshop

Issues with making videos:

  • Changing format of still images from bitmap to jpeg. Had to open in Paint and then save as jpeg. Photoshop needs jpegs.
  • To run clips together in Premiere needed to change to jpegs first.
  • However Premiere is happy to run bitmap videos so could open them directly into Premiere and edit.
  • The size of the microscope photos changed apparently randomly from large to tiny. Still not sure why.
  • The quality and resolution of the microscope photos isn't great as they are so tiny, only a few kilobytes.
  • Needed to Google for tutorials in editing in Premiere and photoshop:
  •  how to layer two videos to run together
  • different transitions and speeds to move from one clip to the next. 
  • change opacity.
  • cut unwanted bits, 
  • copy images
  •  duplicate them.
  • How to add audio to video
  • How to slow down the video
  • How to run it backwards
  • How to make images into circle using vignette effect

Issues with Photoshop

  • How to crop
  • How to make images circular
  • How to use tools round images to select
  • How to layer images via copy or cut 
  • How to set resolution for printing
  • How to change levels/ contrast
  • How to change colour to black and white
  • How to set size of canvas and image
  • How to duplicate images
  • How to make transparent images

Technical Help and video installation experiment

Saw the two Johns in Photography at Sion to ask about getting a projector for an installation experiment.

Can also get images digitally printed. Might try a sheet of small images from the microscope photos as the resolution isn't great. Must do more retina photos, using Image - Resample at 180 res to keep picture quality. Can make larger then with same pixel amount.
Also use Unsharp Mask to sharpen up quality: setting 80.

Have chosen videos for installation experiment. I have chosen images that represent the senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and the nit for touch. I'm also thinking about our communication from inside to outside so have tongue for speaking as well as taste and the nose for respiration, for the ingress and egress of air.
 Picking up projector first thing from Sion then going to Dartmouth to experiment with four simultaneous video projections. Steve is helping to build a space that gives four enclosing walls so that the viewer enters into the space and is surrounded by the images. Issues with where to place the projectors so are above human height. Also where to site them, inside the walls or outside. Issues with power cables etc.
The installation space will be far from perfect as it  won't be very dark or enclosed. Also aesthetically  how do I want the space to look from the outside?
Does it matter that it will look rough and the projectors and leads will be on view? Should it rather be a smooth cube with no visible working parts?
Smooth and perfect won't be attainable with the resources I have and I prefer a bit of scruffiness anyway!
I've selected six videos and will experiment to see which work best together.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Pipilotti Rist video installation

Sumptuous, immersive, encouraged to sit or lie down and spend serious time within the installation.

Helen Chadwick enfleshings

Helen Chadwick:Fantastically strong image; raw, visceral, strange, uneasy, duality of flesh and digital.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Presentation of my work: large scale or small?

Large scale:Inside looking out.
Does it want to be a space that you enter and are surrounded by a projection on each wall? So how to set up four projectors? Speak to Simon Butler, technician about projectors.

Small scale:   Outside looking in.       Peep-hole: An enclosed smaller space that cannot be physically accessed but that you have to look into through viewing points. So have to construct a space like a phone box? Or a screen with peep-holes? Or a false wall with four iPads set in so have to go close and peer in. Or boxes that you put your head into?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Double slit experiment explained by Jim Al Kalili.

Reminding me of the Double Slit physics experiment to test whether light photons are waves or particles. Fire them through slits and measure their endpoint on a flat surface. Don't travel in straight lines but as waves. And react unpredictably with each other so are never where they should be. Not quite relevant to my work but interesting and something I've been thinking about through my dissertation too as regards the nature of light and perception.

Do I want it large and immersive or small and hidden? What would suit the work best and why? Do I want people to be inside my work? See what I see? Then it's large.
Or am I thinking about the distance between us as humans so although we  have the same bodily construction we are still separate. Our phenomenological experiences are unique to us. Also Descartes' notion of the duality of mind and body. The mind has sovereignty over the body: it has rights over it. Separation.

Do I want to add sound? Ambiguous sounds, as the images are ambiguous in terms of gender and of recognisable body part (especially the under tongue.) Try recording the lip smacking or nose squelching or ear polishing and play through large speakers. 
I want the sounds to be deep, but unrecognisable. Would the large installation be incomplete without sound? 

To Do: Approach Steve Butler, electrical technician for help with projection etc. 
Need help with construction too. if want false wall or booth.
Must test the films through a projector to see how they look.
Check with Martin next week when I pick up retina photographs.
Also printing on metal sheets? 

Sunday, 11 January 2015


Ambiguity of my work. Making me think about gender and the body in art history, especially the female body.
How to disentangle the ideas and connotations of the sight of a female body. So long has been the object of the male gaze. How can we be  in a way that isn't prescribed and defined objectively before we even see the body. For example, Allen Jones claims he is a feminist yet he is recycling the cliches of female perfection from a male point of view. He says that the artwork is the object and the women are the subject...yet they have to be naked and conform to a certain standard of body form i.e young, big breasted, slim and fit. He isn't interested in older,fatter, wrinklier, smaller, wider....he claims to be satirising the depiction of women: bondage chair, coat stand etc yet this entrenched objectification of women's bodies is embedded too firmly in the male psyche to be able to gain the distance required for satire to have any effect. He is not engaging in my opinion with the issues of objectification in a critical way but rather endorsing it.
So is it possible to look at a woman's body from the viewpoint of  a man or woman and not read it in an objective  sexual way? How can women reclaim their rights to their bodies; Very big subject. I'm skirting round the edges; I want to show a non gendered approach yet be aware of the historic issues. Links to my question about how gender specific my images should be . 

So in my work I'm not only thinking about humanity's bodily connection with the universe but also about the representation of the female body. If Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology comes from a male perspective that assumes it is the only one, then my exploration of it so far has obviously come from a female one which I was applying generally also. Maybe I need to deliberately think as a woman rather than a neutral, all humanity point of view.
However the body images that I have made are visceral, sensual and possibly disturbing: pink , soft , moist with crevices and depths: yet they aren't obviously female. They could be male ear, nose, tongue. I feel that this uncertainty adds interest to the work. I'm not making a definite statement about gender or gender politics but instead raising questions about

More retinas for digital printing

Digital Retinal image from optician photoshopped to black and white, levels altered. Image of my eye from digital microscope superimposed.

Possible development:try using the original coloured retinal image with  b and w eye superimposed..maybe make the circle into an ellipse? 
Have had digital prints made of these five. Successful.  Strong and interesting.

Skyspaces and retinas

James Turrell: Skyspace at Tremenheere,Cornwall.

Just realised the connection between this and my retina images. Difficult to put into words. Have to think about it a three dimensional solid or a  hole in space......planets, eyes, space, perception,inherited notions, inherited sight.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015 The Body in art
Bonington Gallery

"How the body is interpreted, crafted and re-imagined, within historical, contemporary and future contexts."

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Phenomenological experience in the womb

A still from a film, made of hundreds of FMRI scans, by Moriah Thomason at Wayne State University in

Excerpt from article: my italics:  "We know babies in late-stage pregnancy react to light but a particularly striking study, led by neuroscientist Veronika Schöpf from the University of Graz in Austria, used fMRI to determine the direction of eye gaze in the womb and showed how this was associated with surprisingly well co-ordinated neural activity in the action, visual and control areas of the brain. Many of these abilities were thought only to be present in elementary forms at birth, waiting to be shaped by experience. But we are now learning that during the last months of pregnancy, experience of the world, through the womb, is shaping the brain more fully than we previously imagined."

Amazing :so right from our beginnings, before we emerge as separate individuals from our mothers, we are learning phenomenologically the shape of the world.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Light Photos, seeing through nose, Earth rise and retinas

I took photographs of sunlight refracted through glass objects and then Photo-shopped retinal image into them.
I feel they are a  bit crude and clumsy. My Photoshop skills aren't up to the task.

Photo shopped ear and eye.

My body is a thing among things: it's caught in the fabric of the world.....but because it moves itself and sees, it holds things in a circle around itself." Merleau-Ponty.

Original coloured digital retinal image from optician;
 My retina: direct perception threatened by glaucoma. Genetic inheritance plus cultural inheritance of how to understand the world and my place in it.

As I was moving the images around on this page, by happy accident the colour retina settled above the b+w and I like the effect. Will do more experimenting with the contrast.

Earth Rise; The first time that our planet was seen from outer space., 1968 Huge paradigm shift in thinking and perspective. We can't help but think of ourselves as the centre of the universe and relate everything to ourselves. This image showed us as a fragile tiny part of a huge universe. Duality of thought: two impossible concepts to reconcile:micro yet macro. Inside and outside. Solid and ephemeral.

Noses Still images of experiments through my nose, Made a film sequence of them fading into each other. Idea of "seeing" with other senses. Not happy with them; bit obvious. I do like them as a group of single images together. Maybe try a digital print.

 Nose images as a video.

James Turrell, phenomenology and my dissertation

Photo: Florian Holzherr

My dissertation was centred around Turrell's use of light as a sculptural material and the idea of perception and I was very powerfully affected by encountering two of his installations. The following is an excerpt from my diss.
Tremenheree Skyspace: Cornwall 2014
I enter the installation through an enclosed tunnel; coming from a recognisable garden landscape exterior, from the blue sky of a sunny summer afternoon and moving into an elliptical white interior space which yet gives access to the outside through the circular hole
 cut in the curved roof which frames the sky. I feel an immediate loss of perspective: I have no depth perception.
The portion of sky visible ceases to be part of a recognisable vast and far distant vista and instead becomes a three dimensional form that is hovering within my immediate vicinity, just over my head. The noun form is an inadequate descriptor yet our language fails to provide me with a better way to convey the identity, the presence of this object/non-object.  The surrounding white walls take on a complementary hue; looking black against the pearly grey of the sky. I have no clear sense of the division between interior and exterior; no grasp of the scale of the form or its size in relation to me, my understanding of my sense of place in the world disappears. I feel like a stranger in a strange land. The elliptical form is descending towards me as a solid shape and simultaneously rising above me drawing me up into its endless space. 
  I feel as if I am falling upwards- my normal awareness of my physical presence, my embodiment in my personal space-time no longer has meaning. I can sense my feet upon the ground, my physical presence anchoring me, yet I am aware of a sense of weightlessness as I look upwards.  I am floating into unknown and unreadable parameters of being. Space and my previous understanding of it seem to turn inside out as I attain an indescribable new dimension. I am flickering between inside and outside, I am inhabiting a space that is within yet also without.  This perception is not disorienting in an unpleasant vertiginous way, it is instead peaceful, meditative and other worldly. It is an almost an “out-of –body” experience where time and space cease to hold their accepted meaning.
Glass Works Series Royal Academy 2014
From the traditional environs and yellow artificial light of the RA hallway, I enter the first of the series of three interconnected spaces that hold the Turrell installations and my eyes are immediately flooded with sumptuous light and colour. It touches more than just my eyes, I feel as if I am bathing in light. It clings to me, I am saturated with it, immersed in it. I am inhaling it. The colour emanates from a rectangular form on the far wall which at first seems to be flat but then appears to stand proud of the wall. The light appears to form a solid plane, it has a tangible presence.  I am transfixed; the colours are so glowing, so overwhelmingly strong and rich. I am sharing the space with other viewers yet their presence is insignificant, they hover on the edge of my vision but do not distract from my experience. I am entranced by the colours which slowly transform and cycle through their particular colour spectrum, blues to greens to yellows, or reds to purples to blues. Each shade is full of an ineffable force, not flat and static but vital and awake, a living breathing material, an entity of enormous energy and power.
 Although I only have to turn my head to see back through the open door and the space of normality outside, of visitors coming and going, this only enhances the altered state I am experiencing.  The light and colour are so powerful and mesmerising that I lose myself in the beautiful motion. I am embodied in the light, drawn towards the colour as if it is a black hole exerting inexorable force, an opening into another world. Yet simultaneously it appears to be emanating out into the space. My perspective is gone; my sense of space and of the passing of time is irrelevant. I can’t apply the structures of my usual world to these environments. I can only drink in the sensation, feel it with my skin, sense it as a real entity that mingles its essence with mine. I have temporarily stepped out of the normality of my perceived and accepted reality and entered into a communion with another dimension, my perception has been turned inside out. I have no sense of being an observer, there is nothing to observe. I am instead having the experience of becoming one with my environment in a way I never do normally. I cannot usually escape my personal viewpoint that I carry around, me as a distinct entity travelling through and making sense of my surroundings from my personal perspective. This Turrell installation is as close as I can come to losing that sense of me as separate from my environs.
To summarise my experience, current theoretical physics postulates the existence of dimensions beyond the three that we inhabit (four if you include time). Turrell’s work induces this sense of profound alteration. I transcended my personal spatial and temporal perspectives and caught a glimpse of a radically different state of being. My viewpoint was fundamentally challenged through the use of light which provoked profound metaphysical[1] questions regarding the structure of our universe. Many of my previous encounters with painting and sculpture, with installation and film, have been powerful. They have intrigued, repelled, entranced and baffled. None have however come close to the Turrell experience.
   “We eat light; drink it in through our skins. With a little more exposure to light you feel part of things physically. I like the power of light and space physically because you can order
 it materially. Seeing is a very sensuous act-there’s a sweet deliciousness to feeling yourself see something.”    (Govan, 2013, p13)
When you enter the space of a Turrell light work you are becoming part of a philosophical enquiry into the nature of reality itself. The exchange between the viewer and the art work is the catalyst that transforms our perception; his work conveys you to an altered state of reality; it is immersive and overwhelming; it overrides the notions of duality: interior/exterior; subject/object; mind/body that we subconsciously adhere to and which form the fundamental definition of an art object. Turrell removes not only the object but also the subject and creates instead a transcendent experience; I am truly embodied within the universe.

Phenomenology from a feminist perspective.

Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex. (1908-1986) French existential philosopher and feminist
"Along with other phenomenologists, particularly Merleau-Ponty, and, of course Sartre, Beauvoir recognizes that “to be present in the world implies strictly that there exists a body which is at once a material thing in the world and a point of view towards the world” (Beauvoir 39). What is central to her account is that such bodily existence and the point of view it provided, is lived differently for men and women. "
Merleau-Ponty was presenting his theories from a white male perspective yet implying that these experiences are universal regardless of gender or race, most especially with his ideas around sex. However the notion of embodiment can be said to be inherently genderless as it is unique to each individual regardless of gender.

Accepted constructed notion of the association of mind and rationality with men and body and emotions with women (also action and passivity.)

Despite the feminist enquiry of De Beauvoir, the duality of mind and body is still implied in her writing. The struggle for equality still had an inherent axiom that the body was separate to the mind/self that had rights over it. 

Alia Al-Saji is an Associate Professor in the dept of Philosophy at McGill university.
"Perception proceeds in a quasi-immediate way – I just grasp a whole, it has a meaning for me. That relies on habitual schemas and on learning. Merleau-Ponty actually says that we learn to see.Perception is also intentional. It’s not intentional in the sense of being voluntary, but in the phenomenological sense of being about a thing that we grasp as having meaning. That meaning is not just there in the thing, it is constituted in relation to the perceiving body. And perception is generally open. Although it is habitual, it is still responsive to difference. Habits can change and improvise in relation to the world. This is a dynamic relation– there is a kind of feedback loop. We are affected by the world and we make meaning of it. Merleau-Ponty will even describe this as a kind of dialogue."

I am realising how much implicit bias we operate under; it's confusing;  my judgements or opinions or actions are pre-formed; culturally programmed. To change our perception means putting ourselves in different situations to challenge our inherited beliefs.Actually make us stop and think and therefore maybe change. Escape the net of constructs that we operate within.

Judith Butler,(1956-) is Professor of Comparative Literature and Rhetoric at Uni of California and a  theorist of power, gender, sexuality and identity. She argues that " feminism had made a mistake by trying to assert that 'women' were a group with common characteristics and interests. That approach, Butler said, performed 'an unwitting regulation and reification of gender relations' -- reinforcing a binary view of gender relations in which human beings are divided into two clear-cut groups, women and men. Rather than opening up possibilities for a person to form and choose their own individual identity, therefore, feminism had closed the options down."

Butler argues that this clear cut division between men and women  fixes the idea of gender
as rigid and indeed is culturally imposed. She feels that gender identity is expressed in terms of feeling: feeling feminine or feeling manly and so gender is actually a free floating performance which changes according to circumstance and is not a fixed inherent essence.

Dividing cells under a microscope          Cells on Film: making movies in biology.

These are the oldest known films of cells under a microscope. 

"To be clear, there is no director in these productions; the cells are responsible for their own performance and I am only there to facilitate their story. Movie making is now commonplace in biology and is part of any experimentalist’s tool-kit." (Dr Brian Stramer, Research Scientist at Kings College, London)

I like the idea of the cells busy acting and interacting within our bodies unbeknownst to us. Microscopic interior universe. We are all a part of the fabric of our universe on so many different levels: as physiological bodies  with biological and chemical and physical interactions and also phenomenological bodies with thoughts and emotions and experiential reactions.

Also interesting is the use of film in the physiological sciences. 

"It is now routine to make movies to address not just basic cell and developmental biology problems, but also cancer biology, immunology, and neuroscience. A look at recent scientific journals reveals that a significant percentage of papers today have supplementary movie files. It was due to these cell biologists, working at the interdisciplinary interface between biology and cinematography, that movie making is now such standard practice." Dr Brian Starmer

Thursday, 1 January 2015

More hair

Head hair. I like the movement that occurs from my breathing and the involuntary tiny muscular movements of my arm. Flows like water. However it is still obvious it is head hair. Not ambiguous enough.

Nostril Hair The movement comes from breathing again. I prefer this as it is less obvious  what part of the body it is.