Exploring ideas of depth and vitality using a materials natural properties and their interaction with gravity.

The flat paper takes on a vibrant life when the canvas is hung and gravity acts upon the paper's natural weight.

Flat surfaces combining and being altered by the natural wish of the material as it is acted upon by gravity. This was aided by shredding paper into thin flat strips and then attaching them to a flat canvas which would then be hung.

This was day 3 of the module and involved using paper in a different way from how it is traditionally seen as a flat surface. The idea was to adapt a book and or magazine into something that no longer resembled its original form.

One of the striking things for me when working with wool and paper during the textiles project was how little I wanted to interfere with the materials natural properties. The dialogue between myself and the materials was one where I didn't want to impose a conscious aesthetic and manipulate them to my will but I rather wanted to allow the materials themselves to go where natural forces took them and explore the accidental beauty that may emerge or not as I progressed. I was very sensitive to what I felt the materials were telling me as I touched them and that they had an intrinsic wish to be a certain way. They of course could be controlled but I found that if I allowed them to express themselves the results for me were 'true' and unforced.

The images above were taken after cutting up a magazine and starting with those purely flat pages. I was interested in how when I attached these flat planes to another flat pane (canvas) I could examine further the physical natural properties of the paper in 3D space. Paper is experienced in books and magazines as this thin, flat, lightweight surface. It is understood as holding words and images together and the information is contained within the external covers. We experience lightness when the page is turned and the sound of those pages turning. We also feel dimension via the things it displays (media) rather than from its own flat surface. The same way a television screen is flat but communicates vivid dimension via the things it displays.

For me it was interesting to see how I might look for dimension and vitality not in the contents of what the material (paper) might display but in actually working with paper's properties and interfering as little as possible. I wanted to allow gravity to act upon the paper and watch it interact with the paper next to it so that I might represent something about its natural properties both in a sculptural sense and also as something that could be experienced as a flat photograph, as in the final image above.

A page was shredded into strips and then the tops of the strips were stuck to the canvas. The idea was to then hang the canvas so that the paper would then fall as gravity acted upon it. I could then get a sense of its lightness and also a sense of how it might want to naturally interact with the other paper strips around it. There is an immediate vitality as the flat paper falls, some bits are held in a certain position by their interaction with other bits of paper and some simply fall into free space. The result is a figure that looks like they are either running or facing a stiff headwind. If the canvas is rotated in a different way then the paper falls and interacts differently and there is no representational outcome just swirls of paper which represent a different vitality. The idea wasn't to create a representational sculptural piece from paper but more to convey a feeling of depth and vitality out of flat planes that would work in 3D space and further could be seen on a 2 D photographic image.

Prior to making this I had been looking at the work of El Anatsui, who is an African craftsman / artist, in the summer 2012 issue of Parkett's magazine of contemporary art. El Anatsui is a leading artist and skilled craftsman who works with materials that western art would view as meticulously crafted. He has a different idea of form which is obviously non western. He does not work with paper but rather metal and other materials. He produces extraordinary pieces that either exist in space alone or else when he does use canvas or a wall things emerge 3 dimensionally away from the surface. He isn't specifically looking at the idea of gravity working as I am here but there is a sensation for me of invisible forces at work on the objects he crafts. My shredded paper example would obviously have very little visual or skill connection with El Anatsui's work but I found his use of materials inspiring. I of course don't understand the subconscious process of how I made a link in what he was making, which is visually very different, to my paper project but I feel his work influenced what I was doing.

El Anatsui metal wall sculpture.




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