Sunday, 20 November 2016

Obscura Camera

The function of a camera obscura was to help the artist 'trace' reality so that a clear likeness could be achieved. Here I have sought to use the camera or lens to obscure, hiding the representational and denying narrative and clear meaning.

LLOYD EVANS - Obscura camera (final cut) from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

Below are some other tests using the same footage, I focussed on using pattern as a method of defamiliarising. The sound track in these clips is the original recording from filming. While I decided to change it in the final cut above I do like its ambiguous relationship to the imagery, from the 'knocking' heard at the beginning to the disembodied voices which can be picked out above a background of static. It suggests a more uneasy narrative where I feel the final cut above is altogether warmer. 

LLOYD EVANS - SHADOW PLAY (TEST 1) from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.
LLOYD EVANS - SHADOW PLAY (TEST 2) from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Homeward Bound - Music Video for Kate Jackson

After shooting imagery to accompany Kate Jackson and the Wrong Moves performance at Pop My Mind's first birthday exhibition, I was asked to rework the footage into a music video for 'Homeward bound', Kate Jackson's latest release. 

LLOYD EVANS - 'Homeward bound' from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Summary - (It's about time!)

I intend here to address key concepts or themes explored throughout my investigation, before attempting to pull these threads together to better give a holistic picture of my developing practice.

The work produced in this module includes animation, drawing, painting, film/video, and photography. Each concept or theme will be considered in relation to how it informed or extended my thinking in relation to one or more of these divergent outcomes.

The haptic

At the outset I proposed to explore how haptic qualities of analogue technologies might affect the reading of my work, however as the investigation progressed and ideas developed I focused primarily on digital technologies; looking at these with the same concern for tactile surface qualities. The need to distinguish between analogue and digital was questioned as I began to see past the boundaries of these terms, haptic sensation being generated through technique and not confined to specific processes.

’To reduce the complex interactions of digital and analogue into a simple binary opposition is to grasp at essences where none can be relied on. Both the speed of innovation, and the unstable relation between bitmap and vector graphics and displays suggest that there is no essence of the digital to distinguish it from the analogue, and that instead we should be focussing as creators, curators and scholars on the real specificity of the individual work or process we are observing.’
Sean Cubitt, Daniel Palmer and Nathaniel Tkacz - Digital Light - Open Humanities Press - 2015

My investigation into haptic modes of seeing led me to works by theorists such as Alois Riegl, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guallari, and Laura U. Marks. Considering vision as both haptic and optical rather than purely optical the surface qualities of works became of paramount importance when developing both drawing and film. The viewer becoming an active spectator or participant who receives information through all senses, I therefore wanted images to appeal to the body in a more active role, the embodied sensation of experiencing the work becoming vital.   

In Laura U. Marks essay ‘The skin of Film’ she builds on Bergson, Deleuze, and Guattari to propose a concept of ‘haptic visuality’ in which the qualities of digital and traditional film are considered as a means to evoke sensory response. Including the graininess of the film, pixilation, changes in focus, under or over exposure, densely textured images; indeed she describes the haptic image as ‘less complete’. The haptic image occupies our senses, inviting association with past experience. This sensory reading draws upon the phenomenological idea of “embodied spectatorship” which Marks’s derives predominately from Vivian Sobchack’s ‘The Address of the Eye’

‘When our eyes move across a richly textured surface... they are functioning like organs of touch. Video, with its low contrast ratio, capacity for electronic and digital manipulation, and susceptibility to decay, is an ideal haptic medium, its graininess a lure for the roving gaze Marks describes.’ 
Melinda Barlow -Review of: Touch Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media’, Canadian Journal of Film Studies – 2003
These thoughts struck a chord as I developed works such as ‘Corpse’, ‘Chronos’ and ‘Process and Perception’. Footage in ‘Process and Perception’ and therefore ‘Chronos’ show clear signs of deterioration. This is foremost a product of the complex process of the work’s making. Each additional step acted to break the image down in the same way a picture repeatedly passed through a photocopier loses definition. 

In ‘Corpse’ the viewer is invited to move around the space in front of the screen, casting silhouettes filled with the back projected animation. Moving close to the screen they are also more aware of the pixilation caused by digital processes as well as the tactile surface of the paper screen itself.  

In ‘Process and Perception’ I see space transitioning between haptic surface and optical depth. As the work begins the spectator is presented with surface, an apparent flat screen which the charcoal animation sits upon. As the screen starts to burn the sensation of the work intensifies, fire being a known element to the viewer who will be aware of its heat, its sound, its smell. Our response to it is therefore felt through the senses and is haptic. However as it burns away we become aware of a space behind the picture plain, the forest environment, this creates depth as we are aware it sits behind the first screen and therefore must be further back; but also because the image itself obeys the laws of perspective, appearing to recede into the distance. This new space is therefore optical. 

With the burning of this second screen we become aware it does not recede but is again a flat surface, arriving back at the haptic. This cycle continues on to the last screen of the black void. Here the type of space is more ambiguous; I would argue that this black void is primarily rooted in the haptic as it appears flat. However back does imply infinity, the depth of space and therefore could be described as illusionistic. This black void is loaded with what has come before; we are aware of the different stages of the work, of each passage punctuated by the rupture of fire. This sites the void as another liminal passage, imbued with a kind of haptic memory.

Throughout this module I had been planning to make etchings from my drawings, unfortunately I have not yet realised this. However I see my recent layered photographic images holding a similar quality of line and tone to etched images. Exhibited as a set they present the viewer with a large fragmented surface to navigate. In some places they present flat web-like surfaces, and sometimes there is more space to  recede into. Using these images as outcome and not just reference has opened up a new avenue I intend to pursue post MA.

Experience of the viewer

In this module I placed great importance on the physicality of the work, considering the ‘embodied experience’ of the spectator more fully.

Experimenting with arrangements of projectors and screens I looked at how the viewer could more actively be immersed or engaged. In ‘Corpse’ the viewer’s physical actions directly affect the agency of the work, their silhouette is cast onto the picture plain revealing an image beneath. I believe immersing the spectator as active participant is more successfully realised here than in earlier work, namely my ‘Concepts and Contexts’ installation. Scaling back the size of installations was a conscious move as I sought to make more intimate or personal types of experiences; creating more subtle destabilisations using pictorial and optical illusions felt more effective as routes to ‘otherness’.

Much thought has been put into considering how the viewer can be encouraged to interact with the work, subtly manipulating them to move in-front of the projector beam. At first I focused on using central screens so the viewer could navigate 360 degrees around the work with the ‘recto and verso’ visible. For ‘Process and Perception’ as well as ‘Corpse’ I have settled on a simpler front facing arrangement. By containing the viewer to the front of the screen the rear projector is hidden, this destabilises the first encounter with the work as the viewer may be unaware how the image is achieved.

The work ‘Metaphors we Live By’ uses the same arrangement of projectors and screen, piloting this at a recent exhibition the most common question I was asked was ‘how does it work?’ Many people didn’t realise there was a projector behind. The destabilizing effect caused by this added to the agency of the work. Watching people play with the image, stand closer then further away, wave their hands, even dance! I became aware they were held in front of the work for longer than one might consider a painting or other static image. 

’Process and Perception’ is also designed to be viewed from the front but does not require back projection and therefore the viewer’s relation to it is more passive. The agency of the work is tied more to the internal content of the image as opposed to the viewer’s bodily experience. Although by projecting onto a paper screen burning transitions become charged with a kind of ‘jeopardy’; as the first screen burns people have reported a moment of uncertainty of where the fire exists either on the ‘actual’ screen or the ‘virtual’ video. With my installation in the waterfront gallery space I have found that a consistent breeze acts to agitate the screen. I think his movement further destabilises the action as during transitions the movement appears caused by the fire on screen.     

As I move on from the MA I want to develop the work further so that its exhibition becomes more an event.  As the final screen burns away revealing the void of the last section I will burn the screen in front of an audience. This takes my practice further into the realm of performance.

By choosing to exhibit ‘Corpse’ in a dim but not black space I have endeavored to ‘soften’ the spectator’s transition into work. Finding black space in galleries often dictatorial and oppressive I believe if the spectator feels more comfortable they will be more inclined to experiment and play, moving around the space and more fully engaging with the work. 

The Void

A question at the outset of the module was ‘How are aspects of a contemporary sublime centred on obscurity and the void made manifest in my work? 

The void is emptiness but what does this emptiness signify? is it the end, the beginning? or a transitional space, the potential to be? And how does it manifest itself in the context of contemporary art practice?

“The void is not silent. I have always thought of it more and more as a transitional space, an in-between space. It’s very much to do with time… It’s a space of becoming... ‘something’ that dwells in the presence of the work... that allows it or forces it not to be what it states it is in the first instance” (Anish Kapoor - Bhabha, p11-41 - 1998)

Reading the void as a transitional or liminal space I see the burning transitions In ‘Process and Perception’ and ‘Chronos’ evoking a sense of the void. However this liminality is fleeting, it is mere moments before the threshold is crossed and a new state of being is revealed. With each burning screen first there is a moment of destruction, being becomes non-being. This is quickly followed by the realisation that the destruction is new beginning, non-being becomes being again. With the final transition to black the void returns, but it is loaded with what has come before, asking the question of what is to come? The potential that Kapoor speaks of.

Being and non-being are therefore interdependent, non-being can only exist in relation to being. In Satre’s ‘Being and Nothingness’ Sartre sets out this relationship.

‘Nothingness is the putting into question of being by being; that is, precisely consciousness or for-self. ... Nothingness is the peculiar possibility of being and its unique possibility. Since nothingness is nothingness of being, it can come to being only through being itself’
Sartre - Being and Nothingness - 1958 - p.79

The annihilation and rebirth in ‘Process and Perception’ or ‘Chronos’ could be read ecologically, the destruction of our natural environment or as a personal one, linked to our own mortality.

Extending the final black void section of ‘Process and Perception’ I have tried to place it as another temporal space, like the videoed forest or charcoal animation. This hopefully charges the void as a transitional space with the potential for renewal. 


One thread running throughout my investigation is the exploration of time. Duration both within the work, and within the experience of the work.

Henri Bergson’s ‘Matter and Memory’ has been central to the development of critical reflections throughout this final module. Bergson theorised two types of memory ‘Pure memory’ and ‘Habitude’. ‘Pure memory’ registers the past in the form of “image-remembrance”, representing the past, recognized as such. It is of a contemplative and fundamentally spiritual kind, and it is free. This is true memory. Pure memory or remembrance acknowledges that a memory was gained in the past, cannot be repeated, and is not internal to the body.

Habitude, is replaying and repeating past action, not strictly recognized as representing the past, but utilizing it for the purpose of present action. This kind of memory is automatic, intuitive, and inscribed within the body, and serves a utilitarian purpose. 

For Bergson the split between mind and body is a temporal one. The spirit resides in the abode of the past, the body in the present. The articulation of time, past, present, and future finds place through the union of spirit and body. The more the spirit descends into the past, the more one becomes conscious. The more one acts automatically, the more one exists in the present, the temporal domain of the body. 

When viewed with this lens I see the fast, abstract, intuitive charcoal animation of ‘Corpse’ residing in the body and therefore the present. It is a subconscious response to the past experience of the forest. While the video of the forest acts as Pure memory, it is the forest remembered as it was from a detached standpoint of the present but rooted in the past, therefore: 

Video of forest - Past - Spirit. 
Animation of trees - Present - Body

Moving around the work the union of these two states is considered, one is always seen in relation to the other exploring the dialogue between the two.

Here the concept of consciousness is explored only in the context of the individual. However as I look further at my work with an ecological perspective I have begun to question if the consciousness the work speaks of is the viewers own or something other. In Bergson’s concept of ‘Elan vital’ he theories that all living things have a degree of consciousness.  

‘From one point of view, we can say that some beings are literally more alive than others. This ‘aliveness’, that the French philosopher Henri Bergson called the ‘elan vital,’ has manifested itself more powerfully within them. We can see the whole evolutionary process which has taken life forward from amoebi to human beings as a process of ‘vitalisation’, by which living things become progressively more animated. As living beings become more ‘vitalised’ the intensity of their consciousness increases; so another parallel way of looking at evolution is to see it as a process by which living beings become more and more conscious.’
The Elan Vital and Self-Evolution -Steven Taylor - 
New Renaissance, Volume 8, Number 4, Issue 27. - 1999

Artist herman de vries (he writes without capitals to avoid hierarchy) explores the relationship between humanity and nature, seeing the production of art as an expression of consciousness which he too finds in all living things. 

‘this line of thought still guiding me now. i have nothing to say: it is all here.
art is not the definable. every definition of it is a limitation. but for me it has to do with the formulation of consciousness or with the process of becoming conscious. 
this consciousness i see happening around me in nature and i show what i have seen happening, what i have seen being’.
Except from - The world we live in is a revelation - herman de vries - 1992 
Re-assessing such work as ‘Chronos’ and ‘Corpse’ the past and present we witness could be seen not as an analogy for our own experience, but as a vision of the natural worlds detached consciousness. 
The destruction and renewal no longer represent our own existential fears but speak of ecological processes. the deep-time of ecological processes are juxtaposed with our own fleeting time frame. The awareness of having agency in these two temporal  time frames is defined as ‘Shadowtime’

The term ‘Shadowtime’ is taken from the Bureau of Linguistical Reality and describes feeling the presence of two time frames simultaneously, human time and the deep time of ecological processes. As my investigation progresses many phases taken from an ecological context were used to describe the articulation of time and other concepts related to my work.

The work ‘Chronos’ as well as ‘Process and Perception’ involve periods of relative stability and moments of significant change. The title ‘Chronos’ reflects the idea of duration as taken from the greek notion of time. In this analogy the liminal moments of rupture become Karios.

“The Greeks had two notions of time: Chronos and Kairos. Chronos is the concept of time as a measure, a quantity that changes in a uniform and serial order. Chronos is, in a sense, empty; without content or meaning beyond its own linear progression. It is when nothing happens, and goes on happening…Karios, on the other hand, is a kind of time charged with promise and significance. It is time that saturates time…. The phrase ‘the fullness of time’ evokes the kairological, in a way it expresses the idea that time can be fulfilled and made anew through a profound change or rupture of some kind, making what happens thereafter radically unlike what has come before”
Paul Chan - A Time Apart - 2010

Nature and ecology

Throughout this module my work has relied on source material drawn from the landscape. This is a new development for a practice resolutely abstract for many years. This shift has seen me re-engage with contextual influences from landscape painters and photographers. The connection with nature I first viewed as functioning metaphorically, branches of trees acting like tendrils or interconnected webs reminiscent of earlier all-over pattern paintings. However, reading the work from an ecological perspective has become intrinsic to my thinking. Indeed much terminology used to describe concepts such as; time, loss, destruction, renewal and indifference are drawn from contemporary writings about the Anthropocene; terms such as solastalgia, stuplimity, shadowtime and apex guilt seam to ‘fit’ with sensations evoked by the work.

Many of these words are, clearly, ugly coinages for an ugly epoch. Taken in sum, they speak of our stuttering attempts to describe just what it is we have done.’
Robert Macfarlane – Generation Anthropocene: How humans have altered the planet for ever - 2016

I see recent work fitting into a tradition of uneasy, unquiet or eerie British landscape art. Animations are agitated and disjointed, images build, become obscured then are erased. Colour is absent, and hand-drawn marks appear quickly, gestural, and with force. Whether reading my work psychologically or ecologically they are about transition, liminality, thresholds, being and non-being. Coming from and returning to the void. 

‘The eerie is monstrous precisely because it will not demonstrate itself (to demonstrate, from the Latin demonstrare, meaning to show or reveal).’
Robert Macfarlane - Eeriness: Tracing an Unquiet Tradition in British Landscape Art. - 2016
I do not feel I have to decide between a metaphysical or ecological reading and see it possible for both to function concurrently. Within nature I have a subject with which all can relate to and draw their own conclusions.

‘The tree is a fundamental form. It’s a shape, a metaphor, a concept that we inherently respond to and find attractive. Trees have the potential to be read both abstractly and formally.’ 
Katie Holten - interview with Stephen Sparks - On turning Words and Paragraphs into Whole Forests


In this body of work I see great potential to extend ideas further, layered photographic images and drawings are set to be translated into etchings, ‘Process and perception’ is set to develop into a performance, and further drawings and animations are planned. 

An original question posed to me was ‘why trees?’ Is this metaphysical as earlier work, or ecological. I now see both concepts functioning simultaneously and do not need to distingish between the two; indeed I believe ‘nature’ physically and symbolically facilitates a dialougue between the two conceptual positions. 

With both drawings and film the surface qualities of the work has become of paramount importance as I have tried appeal to the senses more directly, employing the tactile qualites of each technique and process. Utilising different types of layering techniques I have sought to break down or abstract the image whilst building ‘time’ into it. 

Indeed the unifying thread running throughout this body of work is the articulation of time. Banal time, deep-time, and human time, all liminal spaces full of potential for destruction or renewal.

As I developed both drawings, photographs, animation, and film terminology drawn from ecological ideas and concepts seemed to best resonate with the sensation and experience of the work. Indeed the ‘stuplime’ eloquently sums up a post-modern experience of the sublime, the post-modern sublime being central to all work produced whilst on the MA. Kant and Burke’s ideas re-imagined for an information saturated, disinterested present. To borrow from Barnett Newman, ‘The Stuplime is Now’!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Jillian Mayer & Lucas Leyva - Swing space

Artists Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva make work that explores our relationships with and within digital technologies. There work ranges from web projects, music videos, and expanded cinema.

Swing space 2013 

'A meeting of the virtual and the physical world, Swing Space creates a blissful immersive experience that approaches the sublime.

The skies in Swing Space are digitally enhanced to contribute to the sense of a mediated reality that is authentically enjoyable on various sensory levels. Visitors were welcome to swing in the installation during gallery hours.'
Jillian Mayer -

Swing space - 2013

I am uncertain this work 'creates a blissful immersive experience that approaches the sublime' more than using a swing in the regular context of a park might. 

For me this is a work enthused with melancholy and failure, the failure of technology to replicate those classical 'sublime' experiences of being connected with or within nature. Here the failure is made explicit. it is not a whole view we see but a stuttering fragmented one. while there is a playful otherness in the use of swings and projected clouds in an interior space there also seems a kind of dystopian melencoly that soon this is all the nature you will get. As technology develops the line between the actual and virtual become evermore blurred. The work seems to raise questions about  a future in which nature is augmented; could we relax and recuperate in a virtual landscape as we do in an actual one? Would we even notice? Would we care? Is there even a difference?



Groom, A (2013) Time. London, Whitechapel Gallery

Morley, S (2010) The Sublime. London, Whitechapel Gallery 
Ed - David Curtis, A.L Rees, Duncan White, Steven Ball (2011) Expanded Cinema: Art Performace Film, Tate Publishing
Giles Deleuze (1989) Cinema 2, Continuum
Giles Deleuze (1986) Cinema 1, Continuum

Giles Deleuze (2003)The Logic of Sensation, Continuum
Sigmund Freud translated by David McLintock (1998) The Uncanny, Penguin
Ed JJeffrey Kastner (2012) Nature, Whitechapel Gallery
Brian Massumi (2002) Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation, Duke University press
Janine Marchessault, Susan Lord (2008) Fluid Screens, Expanded Cinema, University of Toronto Press
Henri Bergson (2010) Matter and Memory, Publishing
Yvette Biro (2008) Turbulence and flow in film, Indiana University Press
Tamara Trodd (2014) Screen/Space: The projected image in contemporary art, Manchester University Press
David Maclagan (2001) Psychological Aesthetics: Painting, feeling and Making Sense, Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Andre Bazin (1967) What is cinema? Volume 1, University of California Press
Andre Bazin (1971) What is cinema? Volume 2, University of California Press
Frederick Copleston (2003) A History of Philosophy: 19th and 20th century french philosophy, Continuum
Ferris P. and Moore, J. (1990) Art from South Africa, Thames and Hudson
Sianne Ngaio (2007) Ugly things, Harvard University Press
Sean Cubitt, Daniel Palmer and Nathaniel Tkacz (2015) Digital Light, Open Humanities Press
Claire Bishop (2005) But is it installation art? - Tate Etc. issue 3: Spring 2005
Melinda Barlow (2003) Review of: Touch Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media', Canadian Journal of Film Studies, University of Minnesota Press
Freud (2004) Civilization and its Discontents, Penguin
Sartre (2005) Being and Nothingness - Washington Square Press
Newman, B. (1948) The Sublime Is Now. In: Harrison, C. and Wood, P. (eds.) Art In Theory 1900–1990. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers
Robert Macfarlane (2016) Eeriness: Tracing an Unquiet Tradition in British Landscape Art, Tate Etc. issue 36: Spring 2016
Laura U. Marks (2004) Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media, University of Minnesota Press
Robert Adams (1981) 'Truth in Landscape' from Beauty in Photography, Aperture, Millerton
Vivian Sobchack (1991) 'The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience, Princeton University Press
Laura U. Marks (2000) The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses, Duke University Press
Eckart Ehlers, Thomas Kraft (2006) Earth System Science in the Anthropocene: Emerging Issues and Problems, Springer
Robert Macfarlane (2015) Landmarks, Penguin

Naomi Klein (2014) This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, Simon and Schuster

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The stumps

After creating my recent layered photographs I went on another walk to get new reference pictures to build work from. This area is known for its ancient oak woodlands and I was hoping the gnarly old shapes of branches and trunks would make excellent source material.

However with it being summer the trees were obviously covered with leaves and the forest floor was obscured in ferns. When layering these images the 'busyness' of the leaves acted to camouflage the layers beneath. Layering has worked best with winter photographs as they contain only the structural shapes of branches. This allows space for other layers to come through, whilst shapes within the image can stay clearly defined. I will have to return to this landscape in winter and reshoot.

Below are a selection of the images from this trip followed by later digital layering experiments.

Below the set is laid out to test how they might be exhibited. I favour this tight arrangement as it creates a fractured disjointed space which can be read collectively from a distance, yet close up provides enough detail for the viewer to consider each individually.  Since this photo was taken another 8 have been produced creating a set that is 5 x 8. The human scale of this arrangement allows the viewer to stand within the borders of the image immersing them within it. 

In some places the images appears to carryover onto an adjacent frames, I like how this helps the eye navigate through the larger work.  

Latest drawing

Keywords: Crystal image/ Virtual/ Actual/ Layering/ Temporal 

Alongside working on animations, video sequences, and installations I continue to draw and paint from the 'natural' environment. In these works I've been exploring ways to convey a sense of time though layering and gestural mark-making. The question currently at the heart of my practice is how can I best convey time? Past present and future. Here it is compressed, overlaid and fixed into simultaneous instants.

How many layers used affects how dense and therefore how much the image breaks down into abstraction, becoming less readable as representational image. In the first and second images I have worked from successive reference photographs. As the layers build old ones are rubbed out to make way for new branches and trunks.

In the remaining works layers have been completed and then more fully erased in an attempt to build a rich surface of image fragments. As the work progressed I stopped using reference and instead relied on intuition, reacting to elements already within the composition. Key structures were then picked out of the composition to arrive at point in which all instants are fused.

The 'virtual' image (past/future) is aligned with the 'objective' temporal image of the present. In the context of the cinema Deleuze theorises this fusion of temporal domains as the 'crystal image'.  Objective present and subjective past meet, while the concept of a 'crystal image' has been formulated for the moving image here I am attempting to imply movement and time through layering of moments.

Deleuze described the 'virtual' as 'opposed not to the real but to the actual. The virtual is fully real in so far as it is virtual. Exactly what Proust said of states of resonance must be said of the virtual: 'Real without being actual, ideal without being abstract'“ 
Deleuze - Difference and repetition -  1968

Are these virtual works? while their layers hints at duration, the past of the virtual they are fixed in the impossibility of the present. They have become 'actual' art object. This contrasts with 'Corpse' double projections in which movement in the image unfixes it from the actual to become 'virtual'. But the 'Corpse' works include the 'body' of the spectator. Is not the body 'actual'? Brian Massumi believes the body occupies both positions of 'actual' and 'virtual' simultaneously 

The body is as immediately abstract as it is concrete; its activity and expressivity extend, as on their underside, into an incorporeal, yet perfectly real, dimension of pressing potential....the brain as a centre of indertermination; consciousness as subtractive and inhibitive; perception as working to infold extended actions and expressions, and their situatedness, into a dimension of intensity or intension as apposed to extension; the continual doubling of the actual body by this dimension of intensity, understood as a superlinear, super-abstract realm of potential; that realm of the virtual as having a different temporal structure, in which past and future brush shoulders with no mediating present, and as having a different, recursive causality; the virtual as cresting in a liminal realm of emergence, where half-actualized actions and expressions arise like waves on a sea to which most no sooner return.' Brian Massumi - Parables for the virtual: Movement, Affect, sensation - p31

I find charcoal allows me to work quickly, therefore the works contain more gestural movement. However I have always found charcoal to be problematic as qualities and definition are too easily erased. Maybe this transience suits work dealing with time but it is still frustrating! I often prefer pencil's quality of mark-making and line but sometimes when working more representationally work can appear too 'static',  I especially see this in image two. 

When drawing I often take photos of the work as it develops, here I kept finding I preferred earlier more gestural stages of the work before the surfaces become saturated with mark-making. The two images below are both of drawings during their early stages.

In reaction to these observations I developed the work below. Of the two I prefer the space, movement, and suggestion of forms in the second image. I intend to try and create a set in this looser style which takes me away from the much denser earlier works. Here time is more hinted at through movement; also layering is much less suffocating with plenty of space between compositional elements.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Haptic visuality

Keywords: Haptic Visuality / Digital / Deterioration / Optical / Dada / Uncanny

When previously considering the haptic qualities of my work It has been in relation to such as the surface of the paper screen, the perceived heat and smell evoked by videoed fire, and the tactile understanding of natural textures such as bark, leave or dirt. In Laura U. Marks essay 'The skin of Film' she builds on Bergson, Deleuze and Guattari to propose a concept of 'haptic visuality', in which the qualities of digital and traditional film are considered as a means to evoke sensory response. The graininess of the film, pixelation, changes in focus, under or over exposure, densely textured images; indeed she describes the haptic image as 'less complete'. The haptic image occupies our senses, inviting association with past experience. This sensory reading draws upon the phenomenological idea of “embodied spectatorship” which Marks's derives predominately from Vivian Sobchack’s 'The Address of the Eye'

'When our eyes move across a richly textured surface, occasionally pausing but not really focusing, making us wonder what we are actually seeing, they are functioning like organs of touch. Video, with its low contrast ratio, capacity for electronic and digital manipulation, and susceptibility to decay, is an ideal haptic medium, its graininess a lure for the roving gaze Marks describes. Film, however, may also invite a haptic look by speeding up or slowing down imagery, enlarging grain, or deliberately enhancing already deteriorating nitrate.' 
Melinda Barlow -Review of: Touch Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media', Canadian Journal of Film Studies - 2003

Footage in 'Process and Perception' as well as 'Chronos' show clear signs of deterioration. This is foremost caused by the process of making the work. A drawing is digitally photographed as it is made, this is converted in Photoshop to a stop frame animation and rendered. This in turn is projected onto a paper screen and recorded, again being turned into another digital film which is projected back onto another paper screen to be viewed. All these steps act to break the image down in the same way  a picture repeatedly passed through a photocopier loses definition.

During filming in order that the projectors can sit clear of any burning screens two out of the three have to be back projected, this has the effect of 'softening' or slightly blurring each image. As the screens burn the video camera struggles to maintain an even exposure, sometimes quickly alternating from under to over exposed.

When filming I tried to arrange each screen so that the maximum amount of the image could be used, however in every take there was a degree of zooming in to avoid any signs of picture edges which would betray the illusion of the work. This zooming in created further pixilation. I also didn't want to refocus the camera during filming as this would make the viewer aware the artists participation too early and 'pull' them out of the work. Therefore I had to compromise and the camera was focussed on the middle screen. This meant the first and third screen would always be slightly out of focus.

All these factors combine to breakdown the image, in each of my 4 attempts to film this sequence you discern greater or lesser amounts of picture deterioration at different stages. This is is caused by factors such as lighting, equipment used (projectors/ cameras) or how close the screens are in relation to each other, which affected focus.

The deterioration of the charcoal animation acts to 'soften' the image, especially in the first version where it appears more like a kind of blotchky ink drawing. The second screen of the forest I sought to keep as sharp as possible so it might function more 'optically', enabling the viewer to more easily believe the illusionistic depth of the filmed forest. Overall I am happy with the level of deterioration of the final cut, it navigates a path between haptic sensory surface and optical space. As the work progresses the spectator is pulled between the two modes of viewing as different surfaces and optical spaces are revealed.

Relationships between screen and image 

During the filming of 'Process and Perception' to avoid projectors 'hitting' more than one screen they were angled up over the top of the one behind. Behind my studio is a large oak tree, as a screen burnt away the action of the looped video continued to play on the leaves of the tree. Due to the darkened and fragmented surface presented by the leaves these images could be described as ghostly or ephemeral.  Action and landscape could not clearly be 'read', however moments such as my silhouette moving across the screen, or the burning transitions proved particularly effective. The jeopardy of projecting fire onto a tree created a destablising effect, despite understanding that it was a projection there was a feeling that at any moment the fire may really take hold.

Projecting onto objects/screens which have a dialogue with the image can be seen in work such as EXPORT's Tapp und Tastkino, Malcolm Le Grice's Horror film 1, Peter Weibel's Action lecture and Nekes's Operation (1968). In his essay 'Expanded cinema: The live record' Duncan white describes Nekes's Operation (1968)

'the supposedly 'neutral space' of the usually 'invisible' screen into a less stable, living surface that is already marked. Footage of what appears to be quite invasive abdominal surgery is projected onto the filmmaker's bare torso creating an uncanny sense of displacement'

I see the projections of fire into the tree functioning in a similar way to Nekes's projection of an operation onto a subjects bare chest. In both cases we are fully aware of the illusion but our perception fails to seperate the two events, trying to impose a false reading of reality onto us.  The objects wholeness feels threatened and there persists a nagging sense something is wrong.

In 'Paper landscapes' by Guy Sherwin the screen is a dynamic element and site of action. On the mesh surface an image is slowly revealed before being destroyed. In the process of its revealing its creation is evident and a 'slipage' between the projected and the actual occurs as the movements of Sherwin the performer become blurred with Sherwin's projected past actions. This transitional work goes to extend the role of the screen and has informed both my work 'Process and perception' as well as 'Corpse'.

'In Paper Landscapes the screen is a threshold, a fulcrum, a kinetic object, the locus of at least two different kinds of juxtaposed images (whose juxtapositions generate further complexities), a transparent frame and volatile membrane, Activated by Sherwin's actions upon it.' 
Nicky Hamlyn - Expanded Cinema (Mutable Screens: The Expanded Films of Guy Sherwin, Lis Rhodes, Steve Farrer and Nicky Hamlyn) - p214 - 2011

In earlier modules I have more fully explored projecting in the environment out of a gallery space, due to our private view being on the 1st of september I decided early on against pursuing this line of investigation for my final module. Although the location around the Waterfront in Ipswich is rich for site specific work at this time of year it will not be dark enough for effective projections, even by 8pm when the private view officially ends. This is something I am keen to pick up on post MA.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Disquiet landscapes

I have started developing my new digital forest collages into a large set of A4 photographic prints. After first experimenting with a range of pictorial spaces and surface qualities I have started to build a cohesive arrangement that at present contains around 50 images.

I have decided to present them in a tight grid arrangement which very much links to earlier drawings for the Letheringham Lodge project. Indeed on reflection these photographs function in much the same way as these earlier drawings, with representational elements emerging out of a tangled mass of abstraction.This also links in with earlier writing about a post-modern sublime generated by reproduction.

“networks of reproductive processes thereby afford us some glimpse into a postmodern or technological sublime, whose power or authenticity is documented by the success of such works in evoking a whole new postmodern space”
(Jameson, 2010, p.145).

Re-considering these images as outcome and not just reference I have started to look at the work of photographers in whose work I see correlation with my own.

Paul Nash - Monster field

Nash's 1938 series 'Monster field' documented fallen great oak trees, these are awkward broke objects and encourage a reading of broken hands or limbs. Nash himself described them as possessing 'the mysticism of the "living animate"' They are imbued with a macabre melancholy, twisted,fractured, shards that are not dead but have become something other, something monstrous. Healthy living oak trees in the background of these images act as a counterpoint, evoking  the passage of time. To not take a metaphorical reading of these works is almost impossible, especially when considered alongside Nash's well known war paintings. These are not portraits of trees but portraits of deaths unknown horror.
Paul Nash - Black and white negative, ‘Monster Field’ - 1938

Paul Nash - Black and white negative, ‘Monster Field’ - 1938

Paul Nash - Black and white negative, ‘Monster Field’ - 1938

Paul Nash - Black and white negative, ‘Monster Field’ - 1938

Robert Adams - Skogen

In his body of work 'Skogen' (Swedish for forest) American photographer Robert Adams explores the dense forests of his home state of Oregon. The images suggest and untouched wild, even primordial landscape. An eerie landscape suffocatingly packed with foliage, somewhere not to get lost. The title suggests a dark nordic fairy tale aesthetic. Tonally the work is rich, there are no extreme contrasts, all is subtle nuances of grey. The play of dappled light on the surface of branches and tree trunks becomes another texture in these tactile images. Each image within his Skogen series nestles somewhere between beauty and terror, simultaneously occupying both positions.

Adams landscapes are documentary in nature yet he believes the works agency is derived from combining multiple readings which we internally synthesise inform our own pereception.

'Landscape photography can offer us, I think, three verities—geography, autobiography, and metaphor. Geography is, if taken alone, sometimes boring, autobiography is frequently trivial, and metaphor can be dubious. But taken together . . . the three kinds of representation strengthen each other and reinforce what we all work to keep intact—an affection for life.'
Robert Adams - Truth in Landscape - 2005

Many of his 'Skogen' images despite a wealth of detail are still very readable spaces. However at points Adam's creates more abstracted compositions, managing to capture a complexity with one pictorial layer which I have only managed with two or three!  

Seeing these images inspires and reminds me to visit nearby ancient oak woods at Butley corner in Suffolk. Time permitting I would like to experiment layering photographs of these old giants to be included in my growing set of prints.  

Robert Adams - Stika spruce, Capo Blanco State, Oregon

Robert Adams - Clatsop Country Oregon

Robert Adams - Clearcut, Clatsop Country, Oregon

Ansel Adams 

Ansel Adams is best known for his photographs of grand open vistas, big skys, wide rivers, and great mountains of the American west. A romantic sublime of untouched wilderness largely absent of the presence of man. 

In the following images Adams turns his lens under the earth, documenting magestic and vast rock formations found inside cave structures. These are other worldly spaces, dramatic lighting within the caves creating strong contrasts abstracting further these already foreign spaces. Ansel's work is often characterised by space, lots of it. But here the space is compressed and claustrophobic. The detail on the surface of the rock is caught by the stong light sources, forcing the image to be considered as 'Haptic' surface rather than 'optical' space. Formidable staligmites/ stalactites act like hellish mightly redwoods. Where Ansel Adams path to the sublime is usally through awe and beauty here it is through awe and terror.

Ansel Adams - Giant domes

Ansel Adams - In the queens chamber

Ansel Adams - Onyx formations