I am getting closer, as my work progresses, to a very stripped back presentation as my ideas try to focus in upon a final piece about the self. I am trying to find a visual sculptural language that can contain the elements I want to address and hold to a narrative that the viewer will wish to engage with. I think finding that language is the most difficult part because one starts with so many other artists visual voices present and one tries to construct their own dialogue that conveys their meaning. I like the way artist Richard Hughes pares back his art for example but I don't necessarily engage with his content. I admire his economy with visual words which I don't see as minimalism but more as short precise sentences.
I am trying to form my own short visual sentences out of which will emerge a body of more complex meaning. This blog gives one a chance to explore many ideas and to record the process of thinking as one evolves through thought. Some ideas are done and then discarded others stay and merge into other ideas and different forms. An encounter with a new artist or writer might further move one's course upon another slightly altered trajectory.
I think for me it has been clear throughout this project that I am not trying to find a recognisable self of any description indeed I am trying to construct a visual language from which an idea of a self will emerge and will question what a self actually is. Thus the final work is more a discussion about many elements of what a self is rather than a self portrait as one would typical imagine.
I think the language of the self portrait in art needs to connect with contemporary philosophical thinking and also address neuroscience and its discoveries. This might not produce a traditionally aesthetic response but then I imagine that as an artist one decides where their interests lie and produces their work within the context of a visual language that reflects their world. I think one can alter the visual idea of the self as in a portrait by Frank Auerbach but I personally question to what extent that spreads out into connections with other objects. It is no doubt visually pleasing and stimulating and definitely what one has learned to term art but for me is it exploring anything further than the capabilities of a particular medium to address a visual idea. I want art to be much more than that whilst recognising the craftsmanship that goes into great art. Of course we can have both and one doesn't replace another but this is purely my argument to support my project not a manifesto about what art should or should not address.
This piece is directly influenced by the writing of Antonio Damasio who is a leading neuroscientist. I wanted to include his thinking in the evolution of my own sculptural ideas of self. This piece is again a fragment or aspect of self that forms an unconscious part of the whole. I am again drilling down to details in order to try and establish foundations for my ideas about the self portrait. In particular I am addressing Damasio's writing about the 'chemistry of the fluids' in which all our living tissues are immersed as the very beginning of the mind body relationship. The brain has to deal with this 'internal milieu' before what we typical understand as primary brain function, namely motor operation. Professor Damasio has also written extensively upon reward punishment brain mechanisms which led me to a particular sculptural idea that would encapsulate his writings on the brain's control of the fluids and the emotional brain centres.
I therefore took that notion of the 'chemistry of the fluids' and reward punishment brain mechanisms and related it to a broader idea within the sculptural piece via the coital moment. I felt that this is a point where there is a conscious sense of the fluids and emotional drive thus it would be a useful way of bringing that idea of the brain as this engine of self to the fore. The coital moment is also a representation of the creation of the self, the point at which the possibility of life begins. It is the moment one self portrait (identity) creates the possibility of another. This sculptural experimentation of course doesn't exist as self portrait but creates another point of discussion for me in looking at visual language and where I might position my final piece.