After the failure of my Perspex sculptural piece to withstand the on site construction process I turned to an additional sculpture piece that I had been working upon alongside a number of other ideas. I had discussed this piece with my tutor at an earlier tutorial and it was felt that it was representative of my earlier work and that it fitted with the discussions I was having throughout this final project. I have posted throughout my blog my interest in non representational art and I have looked at a broad range of artists and writers who have worked with that as their creative premiss. The premiss isn't one that seeks to make meaning hidden but rather one that rather transfers other senses beyond the immediacy of sight into the work.
My project brief was 'Ways of Seeing' and it was for me to interpret through this my own problems encountered in my visual field as well as also in some way equating this to wider discussions about art itself. This led me toward researching abstraction in many of its guises as I felt this was the closest I could come to exploring a non immediacy in art. I found abstraction not only in the final pieces of presented work but also in the materials that were used by many artists to communicate their creative message.
I moved toward creating a link between my own individual experience of disturbance in my visual field and artists who were non visually impaired but who were exploring the experience of their form beyond its immediate purely visual explanation. I sought to go back into early 20th century art history to in some way build a chronology of this method of working and thus foundation for discussion in both painting and sculpture. I then spent time looking at a variety of modern artists who were working with their own concerns and communicating to the viewer in a way that wasn't purely visual but equally poetic.
I defined this balance between the poetic and the immediately visual as a way of exploring a fracturing in how my own visual system worked. My pieces were predominantly about exploring ideas related to the eye both as an object but also as a process of submitting information to the brain. I felt that many painters had addressed what might be taken for visual distortion on a canvas and equally video artists who were working with altering the nature of the film stock they were using to get at some essence of how film itself as a material can be recognised as part of the perceptive process. Isidore Isou, founder of Lettrism famously exhibited a film at the 1951 Cannes film festival titled 'Venom and Eternity' which was the first to speak of the deconstruction of the film stock in order that one may see a new space beyond the formally visually apparent. The film that carried the message now became intrinsically part of the process of seeing when before Isou there was no conception of the medium itself being anything other than the entirely clear conduit for a film makers art. This worked led to the opening up of another way of seeing and the genre of experimental film and to the later schools of film makers some of whom I have mentioned in previous posts.
Sculpture seemed always to have the possibility to be anything at all and modern contemporary sculpture has reduced further and further that idea to a natural conclusion of lines of string placed on the floor as a choreography of purely spatial relationships such as In the work of Richard Tuttle. I sought to explain sculpture equally however within its wider historical context and I went back to Giacometti and Caro to provide a grounding before moving to modern sculptors work that I admired. I wanted to frame my idea in a context that suggested that although modern sculpture might appear utterly abstract there was a lineage of form, balance, harmony and structure in its history that all good artists carried through into their modern work. The use of industrial materials to create new relationships within formal geometric ideas was something I explored in my project as I personally found some of the best modern sculptural works were doing this so well. This covered everything from the trash, recycled and everyday repurposed material art through to the highly technical very precise material use of modern manufacturing.
I think for every artists work there was a list of critical interpretation and I went back to important articles of the 50's and 60's to look at precisely how interpretation beyond the immediacy of the object played a role in the consumption of what appeared at first hand an otherwise aesthetic experience. Sontag regarded this as the revenge of the intellect for being fettered to this world pitting itself against the artist and trying to ground the imaginations freedom and drag the artwork back into a mundane reality. This was something I discussed in my previous work about the processes of perception with the writings of Merleau Ponty and others.
I came to the conclusion that one could express anything and many of the artists I covered did as long as the object itself had an inner independent strength which adhered in some way to rules of spatial relationships. It seemed to me art had this code that facilitated the use of any material object or process to create a piece of work as long as one held it together via the invisible elements of harmony. The artists could then bring to the object or the space it existed within their message layered on top of this recognised aesthetic structure. Sylvester had recognised this as something Denis wrote about in the late 19th century and had specifically reasoned it as the reason the English abstract expressionists were failing to produce work of the magnitude of their American counterparts. He felt their poetry came before their geometry and in terms of my project I felt it useful to structure this as part of my project.
I am of course presenting arguements for discussion that have led to why my final piece is as it is and not suggesting that X or Y have a definitive answer to anything. This is simply my take based upon a specific set of reading and artists that I feel help me build a specific point of view. I am not suggesting I am right or even that I would wish to be but I am merely providing the background to my way of working in this project that seemed to fit with my ideas of visual perception as something I experienced as damaged but that others didn't but could recognise through a wider association with art history.
To explain my piece literally in the context of the above would seem to contradict much of what my blog has been about. I could certainly explain it in terms of a model of the visual system and that the tyre represents the mechanism for seeing and that the coloured balls act as atoms of light travelling along through the eye but in my case some of the colours are lost or displaced to other places so that the linear light path in my case is disturbed. One colour is missing, 4 travel in but only 3 come through and those 3 are not taken to the same place or rather there is a fracturing of their journey. Equally the material surfaces along which light travels represented by the wooden middle bar is truncated and other vertical lines appear elsewhere. That main material line has been shortened and travels along the optic nerve to break up into two new lines of differing length.
Does all of this explanation override the formal precise harmony of the sculpture and its self confidence at being a balanced form that a viewer might come to and perceive as anything they wish? I think at this stage in my artistic development I would be very happy to say I have produced a balanced sculpture that is uniquely my design and structure that reflects 12 weeks of my own learning rather than seeking to require a viewer to get the precise meaning of my work. I would be most happy if it encouraged someone to see discarded wood in a new way, to paint it, scratch it, burn it or to turn their own table upside down and look at it anew themselves and perhaps also feel compelled to make something. In other words to enhance the viewers way of seeing. Do I look at Anselm Reyle and wonder what he means or am I instead excited by the possibility of the worlds of colour, inventive material use and interest he opens up within me that enhance my 'ways of seeing' the world. Is David Hammons asking me to 'get' his work or is he asking me to experience its richness and simplicity with his use of everyday throwaway materials. Hammons may say it is the former as a political artist but as a viewer I could feel something totally other and still go to a gallery and enjoy his intriguing work. These are some questions I am merely exploring via discussion and I am not presenting definitive answers. I am looking to develop my own practice through finding joy in the things that appeal to me and being enriched by those whilst also placing all of it within a much wider context of art history generally.
I feel most enriched by the artists who develop my emotional appreciation of the world and who show the possibilities to repurpose the content of the everyday into something more beautiful or strange. Artists who make me stop and look not to learn but rather to pause and feel joy in the beauty of imagination are those I feel I will always be continued to be drawn to. I began my art foundation course from a background in philosophy and my earlier works were nearly all driven purely by this focus. I think the last 12 weeks have been the most enriching as I engage with artists who are not trying to philosophise but who are more creating visual poetics and just as in that art form on paper it is very much about presence, feeling and mood and in some way tuning in to a world beyond the immediacy of a purely visual sense alone.