Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Void

Still from process and perception

Keywords: The void / Being and non-being / Sublime / Threshold / Immanence / Liminality / Ritual

In my most recent work 'Process and Perception' the final screen burns away to reveal nothing but blackness, the void. One of my primary module aims was to explore how aspects of a contemporary Sublime centred on obscurity and the void manifest in my work? With my recent experiments I feel I am starting to more directly question this relationship.

The concept of the void is one that has been with us for thousands of years, creation theories in many world religions have at their heart the paradox of creation from the void, non-being and then being.

"The non-existent was not; the existent was not
Darkness was hidden by darkness
That which became was enveloped by The Void"
(Rigveda creation hymn, 1700 BC)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said "let there be light" and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he seperated light from the darkness. God called the light "day" and the darkness he called "night". And there was evening, and there was morning-the first day.
(Old Testament - Genesis)

The concept of the void doesn't just exist in a religious context. The scientific discovery of atoms and therefore the space between atoms, as well as the vacuum of space means the void or emptiness is found to pervade or occupy most of the universe. Modern physics now proposes that everything came from nothing, therefore it is possible that the universe emerged out of the vacuum - out of nothingness.

Within us the void manifests as the feeling that there is something bigger than us, this could be something vast, terriffyning, heavenly, benevolent. A feeling very much tied to the concept of the sublime. 

The essential claim of the sublime is that man can, in feeling and speech, transcend the human. What, if anything, lies beyond the human – God or the gods, the daemon or Nature – is matter for great disagreement” (Weiskel, 2010, p.12).

This feeling of something other, vast, beyond ourselves has been used by religion as evidence God or Gods. But how in a western society which has largely regected the Christian narrative can we explain the persistence of this feeling within us?

In 'Civilization and its Discontents' Sigmund Freud discusses this particular feeling. An acquaintance wrote to Freud in-response to Freud's 'The Illusion of Religion'. This acquaintance talks of having:

 "a Particular feeling of which he himself was never free, which he had found confirmed by many others and which he assumed was shared by millions, a feeling that he was inclined to call a sense of 'eternity', a feeling of something limitless, unbounded - as it were 'oceanic'. This feeling was a purely subjective fact, not an article of faith; no assurance of of personal immortality attached to it, but it was the source of the religious energy that was seized upon by the various churches and religious systems, directed into particular channels and certainly consumed by them. On the basis of this oceanic feeling alone one was entitled to call oneself religious, even if one rejected every belief and every illusion" 
(Freud - Civilization and its Discontents - 1930)

In his seminal text 'The Sublime is Now'  Barnett Newman builds on this idea of our inbuilt feeling of something greater, for him it is no longer a signifier of something exterior, by moving its focus from religion (God) and onto ourselves (Man)  he internalises the sublime. It is not God at the centre of the universe but ourselves, the sublime is within us. The religious space of mysticism or theology is flattened, otherness is now within ourselves, owned and understood by us individually.

'We are reasserting man's natural desire for the exalted, for a concern with our relationship to the absolute emotions. We do not need the obsolete props of an outmoded and antiquated legend. We are creating images who's reality is self evident... We are freeing ourselves of the impediments of memory, association, nostalgia, legend, myth, or what have you, that have been the devices of Western European painting. Instead of making cathedrals out of Christ, man, or 'life,' we are making it out of ourselves, out of our own feelings. The image we produce is the self-evident one of revelation, real and concrete, that can be understood by anyone who will look at it without the nostalgic glasses of history.' Barnett Newman - (The Sublime is Now - 1948)

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. I have always been interested as an artist in how one can somehow look again for that very first moment of creativity where everything is possible and nothing has actually happened. 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 fist instance" (Anish Kapoor - Bhabha, p11-41 - 1998)

Here Kapoor is describing the void as a transitional space, the distance or time between two states, being and non-being, its loaded with potential, be it for creation or destruction. In this relationship between being and non-being the void becomes a temporal threshold not a destination.

Reading the void as a transitional or liminal space the burning transitions In 'Process and Perception' as well as 'Chronos' could be seen 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 quickly becomes being again. With the final transition to black in 'Process and Perception' 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 two states are therefore interrelated one cannot exist without the other, this reciprocal or symbiotic relationship between being and non being has been much explored in relation to our mortality.

'Dust thou art, and to dust shalt thou return.'
Genesis 3:19

'We begin to die as soon as we are born, and the end is linked to the beginning'.
Minilius Astronomic

You will not die because you are ill, but because you are alive'

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.


Liminality refers to the act of being on a threshold, crossing between two states, it is a period of change charged with ambiguity.

"A limen in Latin is a threshold. While its current usage is principally behavioural with respect to the threshold of a physiological or psychological response, in fact, liminal or borderline states are anywhere that something is about to undergo a phase transition or turn into something else."
(George Quasha and Charles Stein - HanD HearD, Liminal Objects - 2000)

However is it possible to make liminal art? Does the very act of looking/focussing on a liminal passage fix it in time as an event, the transition has now become another destination, it is no longer in-between but an event in itself.

Immanence refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence in which the divine encompasses or is manifested in the material world. Immanence is usually applied in monotheistic, pantheistic, pandeistic, or panentheistic faiths to suggest that the spiritual world permeates the mundane.

Bill Viola - 5 Angels for the Millennium
Bill Viola is an artist who's work explores the non-demonstrable. Focussing on the human condition and our relationship with otherness, that which is beyond comprehension, the cycle of life and the impossibility of death.

Bill Viola - Still from 'Ascension' 

In his Work '5 Angels for the Millennium' Viola create 5 separate pieces which all in some way involve a figure in relationship to water; Ascending Angel, Creation Angel, Fire Angel, Birth Angel and Departing Angel. All involve; submerging, ascending, sinking etc... of a single figure. The theme of water brings with it the dualistic positions of rebirth and drowning, ascending and decending, being and non-being. The mind-map below explores concepts and texts which form a contextual framework around '5 Angels'.

Each video is projected life sized in a totally dark room immersing the viewer and controlling their field of vision. In each work the relatively simple actions, sinking, floating etc are defamiliarised, time is slowed down, reversed, sounds are abstracted and do not run in time with the action. The disorientation created by this along with the immersive nature of the work combine to allude to an experience of otherness, of being overwhelmed, the Sublime.

The religious titling of the works as well as Viola's use of water creates an  obvious link to Christian baptism. In a baptism water acts as a threshold. After being immersed we re-imerge reborn, absolved of our sins and ready for a new life. It could be regarded as a positive affirming act. however here the outcome of each interaction with water is much more ambiguous and unsettling, rebirth or death, exhilaration or despair. The water is the boundary creating a before and after, the exact nature of each transformation is unclear, is this a biblical awakening of annihilation?, are we seeing someone come into being or returning to the void. Baptism is a form of ritual and ritual could be seen as a key term in this work.

'A religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.'

Rituals are commonly associated with religious practice and are used to bind a community together. People gathering to celebrate a event such as marriage, harvest, birth, coming of age, etc...They are routinely performed and become familiar to those taking part. This familiarity brings comfort and stability, it also functions to create collective social identities. Viola's editing of each passage, slowing down, speeding up, off setting sound, destabilises the familiarity or ingrained cultural knowledge of such rituals. We are aware of its immense and transformative nature but can't decode through our existing cultural knowledge what we are seeing. However the association with religious ritual gives us clues enough that we are open to feel a preverbal resonance. Viola's interest in religion has clearly influenced his work throughout his career but we cannot read his work clearly as relating to a specific sect or faith, Zen Buddism, Islamic Sufism, or Christianity. But these references seem to provide Viola with a recognisable framework to draw the viewer into an altogether more ambiguous space.

I am interested in how Viola controls the visual domain of the viewer in these works. Light is strictly administered, when Viola wants there to be an absence of light it will be pitch dark. This is a total kind of artwork in which the viewer is 'encased' during the performance. However here the viewer is not an active participant but a spectator, like a guest arriving at a rite of passage they know little about they are not expected to take part. There remains a physical and phycological distance between the viewer and the work. In my own work I want to more actively engage the viewer, linking the agency of the work more closely with their decisions or response. I admire the raw power and honesty of these works (there are no post-modern, ironic, knowing, in-jokes here) Viola is tackling big issues, life, transformation, transcendence, death, being and non-being. This approach is powerful but ultimately not a path I see myself taking. In the same way I have recently scaled back the size of my projections I want the actual experience of the work to be more subtle or personal. In a group tutorial it was discussed how 'quieter' or more mundane works can outlast 'louder' instant works by allowing us time to think or live with them. We are more likely to stay with or consider something the experience of which does not physically or physiologically overwhelm us.

However when I speak of the last black screen in 'Process and Perception' as a void would a viewer really existentially make that connection without slight fear of their own annihilation? Watching Viola's 'Asending Angel' or standing at the edge of Kapoor's  'Descention' whirlpool one is more directly aware of ones mortality.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Shooting 'Process and Perception'

The images below document the filming of Process and Perception. The whole work had to be filmed over 3 nights due to its many stages.

Process and Perception - outcome & alternative ending

Keywords: Stuplime / Perception - Affection - Action images  / Chronos / Kairos / Tempus

Below is the final two cuts of my latest work, 'Process and Perception' and 'Chronos'. They start as the same work but have alternative endings. The first video 'Chronos' is designed to be played looped while the second video 'Process and perception' is designed with a defined beginning and end point.

LLOYD EVANS - Chronos (final cut - low res) from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

In the first video I simply wanted to create a cyclical loop so that the end of the work brings the viewer back to the beginning. As previously mentioned this was to question the separation of art and reality as different and defined concepts. I also tried to negate what I perceive as an art and reality heiarachy where art is subordinate to the perceived truth of reality.

The title Chronos refers to the greek notion of time:

"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. Its 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

Reading the work with this lens the periods of relative stability during both the animation and forest video become 'Chronos' while the liminal ruptures created by the fire transitions become 'Kairos'

Originally I titled the work Chronos and Kairos however I wanted to question the idea of the 'Kariological'. When seen in loop the significant moment, that rupture charged with promise starts to become mundane, expected. Through the act of repetition the kairological quickly reverts back to Chronological.  The astonishing act when seen again and again, becomes boring. This feeds into the concept of a Stuplime - astonishment mixed with boredom which saturates and defines post-modern experience.

In her book 'Turbulence and flow in film' Yvette Biro discusses how time functions in the context of the moving image. Drawing on idea of 'Chronos' which Biro describes as "Chronos, as we denote the concept of the clock, of physical time, proceeds according to its own rigid laws: time is passing; Monday is followed by Tuesday, night by morning.'  She theories that this disembodied time is separate to 'Tempus', a more dynamic embodied human time. 'Tempus' like 'Kairos' is the present 'expanded' with possibilities, only here time is rooted in the experiences of the individual.

'the processing of impressions and experiences, this human time we call Tempus, this reality, a micro-level compared to the big one, is unforeseeable. The interconnection of so many causes played out on the field of acceptance-rejection results in such a complex, ballooning mass that Tempus will (might) get the upper hand over Chronos.'
Yvette Biro - Turbulence and flow in film - 2008

Therefore the internal time frame of 'Tempus' is affected by our experience and understanding of the external world 'The human experience of time is genuinely sensitive to the emotional quality of time. Our perception is essentially affected by the emotional weight and content of external occurences.'
Yvette Biro - Turbulence and flow in film - 2008

LLOYD EVANS - Process and perception - Final cut from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

This second video 'Process and perception' was shot in response to a question posed by tutors, they questioned wether the work was the 'process' (all my experiments, prototypes etc) or 'outcomes'.  Reflecting on this question I have begun to look at my work in a slightly different light. Ultimately it is the process and investigation which sustains me and keeps me pushing the work forward. The works increasingly have a performative nature as shooting becomes more complex and physical, including this process in the work itself changes the reading again and takes the work in a new direction.

During the shooting of this cut technical issues arose and the outcome is not 100% as planned.
1) The first section of the clip is slightly out of focus.
2) When revealed the third screen is paused! it was meant to be playing already.
3) In the final sequence the last screen was meant to burn away on the image of the studio door, however I had to shot this part in damp conditions and the screen took longer to burn than expected. As I had the clip set to loop it jumps back to the beginning of the clip which is me burning the charcoal animation.

I feel I have taken this idea as far as it needs to go at present and other works need more attention which are ultimately more likely to be used in the MA exhibition. (I will try and to reshoot this at a later date)

Deleuze - Cinema 1

In 'Cinema 1' Deleuze theorises the idea of the Movement-image,
"Figures are not described in motion, rather, the continuity of movement describes the figure'
(Deleuze - Cinema 1 p5)

 Here the moving image is not capturing or documenting but creating anew image which is "capable of thinking the production of the new" (Deleuze - Cinema 1 p7)

In ‘Matter and Memory’ Bergson breaks experience down into three parts; Perceptions, Affections and actions. Perceptions cause affections and affections cause actions.Building on Bergson’s work Deleuze applies this formulae to cinematography. Thus there are three types of cinematic movement-images:
Perception images (that focus on what is seen), Affection images (that focus on expressions of feeling) and Action images (that focus on the duration of action). 

Applied to my work :

Animation of trees - Affection image - My subconscious response to the memory of the forest, what I feel about the experience of being in this environment.
Video of forest – Perception image - The forest as documentary reality.
Flame transitions – Action image - Liminal passages which signal change. (Kairos)

After Corpse - Shadow Time

In 'Corpse' a video of a forest behind the charcoal animation was revealed by the presence or shadow of the viewer onto the picture plain. Here I have experimented further with this concept layering a range of video clips projected from two sides onto a central screen.

I feel the first clip 'Shadow time forest' is my is most resolved, the interplay between hand drawn and black and white video creates a more subtle dialogue, I originally used a colour video but decided that aesthetically the combination jarred - in a bad way!

LLOYD EVANS - Shadow time forest from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

In 'Inverted Shadow' using a powerful projector from one side I was able to completely obliterate/hide the image behind. In previous experiments I had not thought it possible to completely hide an image with white light, however here I was able to achieve this. This had the effect of effectively inverting the viewers shadow, by standing in front of the projection the viewer does not obscure the image but reveal it. I was hoping to create destabilisation where what you are 'seeing' is questioned as expectations are reversed. It also encourages interaction the viewer to move around the work to see how your own own physicality creates new arrangements. The agency of the work is therefore closely tied to the actions of the viewer.

LLOYD EVANS - Inverted shadow from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

In 'Shadow time1 central screen' I used a video shot for another project which I knew would really contrast/clash with the charcoal animation. Moving round the screen to see how its effects are reversed on either side I feel the charcoal animation containing in my silhouette is particularly effective. Its as if the drawing becomes a phycological response to the more literal surroundings. The layering of this clip creates a confusing space, the pictorial space of the animation is one that recedes back into the picture plain, while the film clip rushes past from left to right. After this I intend to go back and reshoot 'Shadow time forest' in reverse so that a similar effect is achieved all be it with a more subtle contrast.

The video used in 'Shadow time1 central screen' was shot for a 'Pop my Mind' collaboration and is independently discussed in a later post.

LLOYD EVANS - Shadow time1 central screen from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

In these works I feel I am starting to get to grips with one of my central concerns of how the agency of the work requires and responds to the actions of the viewer.

I intend to explore further how layering different moving and static imagery in this way can create new narratives. In particular I will continue exploring how the hand drawn can work in juxtaposition with shot video.

Shadow time - A Bergsonian reading
In 'Shadow time' the combination of video and hand drawn animation creates both aesthetic and temporal juxtaposition, the unnatural speed of the charcoal animation contrasting with the slower time frame of the 'real' environment, just as the gestural mark-making contrasts with the representational video. Reading 'Matter and Memory' by Henri Bergson I started to formulate an understanding of this work though the lens of this text.

Bergson considered memory to be of a deeply spiritual nature; Memory is not located in the physical substances of the brain but reside in the spirit. A brain injury therefore would not erase memory but block the brains ability to process or access this information. He also theorised that there are two types of memory:

Habitude, 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, inscribed within the body, and serving a utilitarian purpose. this could also be described as an implicit memory.

Pure memory, on the other hand, 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. this could also be described as an explicit memory.

Habitude is therefore cantered in the bodies response to ingrained/subconscious memory, while pure memory is centred in the spirit and is detached from the body. This builds on the ideas of Dualism formulated by Darcartes, however Bergson takes the divide of the body and spirit even further. For Bergson the split between mind and body is a temporal one. The spirit is the abode of the past, the body of the present; the soul or spirit is always anchored in the past, not residing in the present; lodged in the past and contemplating 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, in the temporal domain of the body. True awareness necessitates the united action of body and spirit.

When viewed with this lens I see the fast, abstract, intuitive charcoal animation as residing in the body and therefore the present. It is a subconscious response to the past experience of the forest. While the hidden screen containing the video of the forest acts as a 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. The body and spirit, past and present unite to articulate time.

 While this 'reading' very neatly ties the the different elements of the work together I have aways found the dualist standpoint problematic, for both Descartes and Bergson the substance of the body was separate from the immaterialarity of the mind/spirit. Bergson went even further putting the mind into the temporal realm of the past.

The lineage of this standpoint can be traced back as far as Plato. Plato argued that material forms are flawed, the only 'truth' living in the realm of Pure forms, is that of disembodied ideas. Bodies to Plato were only second rate copies of that superior reality.

However according to Nietzsche abstract concepts such as thought are actually functions of biology. We think the way we do because of the kind of body we have. Here mind and body are not divided into separate realms, the body and mind are inextricably linked, our physicality goes to influence our knowledge, choices we make, and therefore our memories too.

The phenomenological philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty also theorised that our access to the world around us is through our bodies. Therefore all our thinking is embodied. Consciousness comes from perceptions we have made through our bodies experience with the external world.

"Our body, to the extent that it moves about itself, that is, to the extent that it is inseparable from a view of the world and is that view itself brought into existence, is the condition of possibility, not only of the geometrical synthesis, but of all expressive operations and all acquired views which constitute the cultural world" Maurice Merleau-Ponty


Thursday, 16 June 2016

Subject Matter - Representation and Abstraction

Keywords: Sublime / Shadowtime / Stuplimity / Solistalgia

My switch from purely abstract images to a more representational approach was born out of an observation made in the last module that my mark-making was becoming repetitive. I was starting to rely of a range of 'characters' like an alphabet is used to make words and sentences. I wanted to start working from reference to give myself a range of visual problems to solve, namely how to describe line, texture, shape etc… Therefore I would be forced to adapt my intuitive approach and create a richer range of marks. The Landscape and Light project provided the perfect opportunity to test this out. Here I had a defined reason to use trees as subject matter, they were of that place and defined the space both architecturally and psychologically.

However in this final module I have decided to stick with trees as a motif on which to 'hang' my abstractions. But this new body of work is not about a specific location so why? This was a question posed to me at the start of the module.

As I develop this new body of work two possible answers to this question have started to emerge:

My first response was that trees acted as symbols of the metaphysical, allover weblike structures functioning as literal interpretations of my earlier abstract pattern based paintings. These organic structures also allow a degree of flexibility in how they are described, allowing me freedom to use expressive, gestural marks. As symbols of the natural world they have an engrained universal resonance, we are part of nature and nature is part of us. Images of the natural therefore encourage an emotional response. I have always felt that understanding is first gained through 'feeling'. I see the initial preverbal response to an artwork’s aesthetics as a powerful and deep-rooted connection; successfully evoking a scene of sublimity is therefore directly tied to the viewer’s first engagement. These emotive motifs may therefore better function as agents of a preverbal response. 

“Gaston Bachelard (1969)’ a pioneer in the investigation of the creative reception of literature, famously asserted that ‘…the image has touched the depths before it stirs the surface’. He meant that we do not need to know the context from which it originates, nor to have shared the poet’s suffering, in order for an immediate response to a poetic image to make itself felt” (Maclagan, 2004, p.44).

Language is a Chinese whisper from our own psyche. We can never fully articulate our understanding with words, understanding is first 'felt'. Feeling is the mind/bodys primary response to a stimulus. Language is therefore a reductive system which will always fail to convey the RAW of experience. I regard this immediate connection as a spiritual one, not to be confused with a religious belief but a belief in the ‘other’, something that can’t be proven and is known through feeling.
“The essential claim of the sublime is that man can, in feeling and speech, transcend the human. What, if anything, lies beyond the human – God or the gods, the daemon or Nature – is matter for great disagreement” (Weiskel, 2010, p.12). 

The sublime is centred in us, a personal response to the undemostratable, its true understanding is attained in the moments you experience it.

‘The role of the contemporary artist is to “question the nondemonstratable’. That question is, to me, the only one worthy of life’s high stakes, and the world of thought in the coming century”
(Lyotard, 2010, p.135).
This reading allows contextual ideas and concepts developed from my initial proposal to apply in much the same way and requires no big shift in thinking. Trees/nature are functioning as metaphysical agents, the face of the non demonstratable.

The other reading and the one which is becoming unignoreble as my work progresses is that there is an ecological reading. Independent of my practice I have begun reading articles about the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene is a term is being used to define the period in which we as a species have caused ecological long-term damage to our global environment.

The word joins the Greek word 'anthropos', for humans, to the suffix 'scene', meaning new or recent to suggest an epoch defined by recent human activity. The start of the Anthropocene is much debated but is commonly placed with the dawn of the nuclear age. It also coincides with the 'Great Acceleration', when massive increases occurred in population, carbon emissions, species innovations and extinctions, and when the production and discard of metals, concrete and plastics boomed.

Throughout my reading I have been finding new terminologies invented to try and define the issues and ideas around the concept of the Anthropocene. I have found these words/phrases often  intended to help describe or define this new ecological concept often also seem to 'fit' or define concepts starting to form in my work.

Shadow time - The sense of living in two or more temporal scales simultaneously.
Stuplimity - An aesthetic response in which astonishment is mixed with boredom.
Solastalgia - Form of psychic or existential distress caused by environmental change. Solastalgia speaks of a modern uncanny, in which a familiar place is rendered unrecognisable by climate change or corporate action:the home becomes suddenly unhomely around its inhabitants.

Stuplimity in particular seems to resonate with my thinking, in many ways stuplimity defines a post-modern Sublime. While formulated to articulate ecological concerns it effortlessly extends to define the whole our post-modern experience (or post-postmodern but there is no time here for that debate!).

We are saturated with information and in the current din of information all sense of importance, meaning and clarity are lost. Taking Facebook posts as an extreme example of this, scrolling through my news feed I see War in Syria, mass shootings, a cat holding a pizza, deforestation in the amazon, what my friend had for dinner last night. All is served up in the same manner with the same implied relevance. The mundane and the catastrophic have lost their distinctions. It may also be that in our coverage of geological or man made disasters such as, war, famine and disease we are seeing sublime terror often. This familiarity normalizes and these encounters and the sublime is diminished.  The Stuplime has replaced the Sublime, we are astonnished then but it soon passes and we scroll on by.

The indifference hinted at in the word 'Stuplime' is itself terrifying, the knowledge that our compassion and will to act have become paralyzed by the weight of information. However I'm sure the terror of this realisation will soon pass!  

I do not feel I have to decide between these two positions and feel its possible for both to function concurrently. But with trees and 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

Further reading:

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (2014) Elizabeth Kolbert
Field Notes from a catastrophe (2006) Elizabeth Kolbert
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate (2014) Naomi Klein
Adventures in the Anthropocence (2015) Gaia Vince

Watch video before reading! + set video to loop.

LLOYD EVANS - Prototype sequence (Corpse) from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

After discussing Guy Sherwins 'Paper landscape' in a previous blog entry I will not recount my reading of the work here. However this work has stayed with me, in particular the final sequence where he cuts through the picture screen destroying the work and revealing its artifice has stuck in my mind. With this final destructive act the 'illusion' of the work is destroyed and 'reality' is reinstated. I started to consider how this creates a hierarchy between image and reality, where the constructed image becomes subordinated to reality. But is not reality also a construct? Our sight does not 'see' the world around us, our brain interprets electrical impulses from our optic nerve and creates an image of the world which only exists in our minds. A simple blind spot experiment easily reveals how a small part of our field of vision is actually missing and that our brain simply fills in the missing piece with what it believes is likely to be there! Touch is no more real, smooth, rough, furry, cold, are centred in our minds not the world around us. All our senses conspire construct our own personal reality in much the same way an artist interprets an experience and presents it back to the viewer.

In this work I sought to question this hierarchy. At first the viewer is lulled by the familiar, the expected, the animation progresses with its relentless pace, changes occur but they are familiar and quickly become routine. With the burning of the animation the viewer is initially destabilised. A liminal space is created which the viewer momentarily questions what they are seeing. With the screens burning you first become aware that you are not just watching an animation but a videoed projection of an animation. As the forest behind is revealed the viewer becomes aware that the event is located in a place, namely a forest. Reality has been revealed and the viewer is given time to settle into this new 'truth'. With the burning of the forest on the second screen the viewer again is destabilised, reality has also been reveal as a construct and the third screen links back to the first. As the work loops a sense of a beginning and end are lost, does reality make way for the animation or does the animation make way for reality

This was all shot in one take, there are technical issues to address such as the smoothness of the looping from beginning to end, the length of the clip,  and the slight walring of the forest screen before the fire starts. This alerts the vier that something is wrong before the screen starts to burn. At one point the screen also jumps which looks like the video is badly cut together but in reality I accidentally kicked the camera stand!

The third screen should have been white on reflection and featured the animation from the first screen, then a seamless loop could have been created. Without a starting point or end point the question of what comes first, image or reality is realised and the hierarchy of the two states is questioned. I intend to reshoot the work to address these issues.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Projecting & Layering test.

In these experiments I explored back projecting my new animations onto the paper from which they were drawn. Back projecting really softened the image, better imbedding it 'into' the paper. I also looked at projecting two different animations onto a central sheet from opposite positions. this created a layering seen in earlier experiments. Where the viewer moves around the image the central image is interrupted, and the silhouette they create on the picture plain is filled with the moving image from the opposite projector.

LLOYD EVANS - Corpse test1 from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

LLOYD EVANS - Corpse test2 from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

LLOYD EVANS - Corpse test3 from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

LLOYD EVANS - Corpse double exposure test from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

In response to the test above I intend to explore using longer screens, this may encourage the viewer to walk along the image in order to expose the image beneath. Its also worth noting that this can be viewed from the opposite side where the second image is seen and the first is now hidden.

LLOYD EVANS - Corpse mirror test from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

Corpse - Extended collage

In the video below my earlier short animations have been overlaid to create a longer composition. The result is not polished, the image jolts and constantly fluctuates, the overlay of stop frame clips speeds up the rate of change. Jarring, the eye is unable to fix or rest. The image also breaks down and becomes progressively pixelated in the second half of the sequence.

LLOYD EVANS - Corpse extended collage from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

I like the flux and speed of this clip, it speaks of a quickening of time or the present. Nature moves at an unnatural speed, the evolution of a forest over hundreds of years condensed to a three minute time lapse video.

I began to consider how this quickened time could be juxtaposed with real time. This would open a reading of 'shadow-time' where two time frames are experienced simultaneously. My first thought was of a second slower animation, however after shooting some video of landscapes for another project I started to think that using a real landscape in realtime may heighten the otherness of the animation.

In the test video below the animation has been projected from the front onto a paper screen, while the video of the forest has been projected from behind. by using a more powerful projector for the front animation at its brightest settings the animation obscures/masks the second back projection. This is then only revealed when the viewer moves between the front projector and the image.

LLOYD EVANS - Corpse double projection test from Lloyd Evans on Vimeo.

The viewers participation is needed to reveal the full extent of the work, the viewers movement around the image therefore alters the nature and experience of it. It becomes impossible to stand in front of the work to consider it without also being part of it.

Encouraging the viewer to walk in front of the projector may be an issue to solve, in earlier work at Letheringham lodge my installation had been designed so that the viewer could circle but was mostly only viewed from its perceived front. Moving in front of a projector is something which the viewer may be reluctant to do. Therefore if this idea is developed how the movements of the viewer can be led/guided must be considered.