On the last day on my residency at the Merz Barn in Cumbia it was time to reflect on my thoughts over the duration of the week. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had stapled a huge sheet of plastic to one of the gallery walls and had been writing the contents of my head on it all week with a permanent marker pen. It had grown quite a lot, as I had added to it whenever creatively conducive thoughts popped into my brain.
At the beginning I really struggled to write anything, but by reading, thinking and talking I managed to squeeze out lots of interesting ideas, starting points, questions and suggestions.
Before I set off to the Merz Barn, I had been questioning what, how, when, where…. I had been trying to think about my practice conceptually, formally and aesthetically and question myself on all accounts. I was trying to get to the bottom of why I was doing what I was doing, without losing any integrity and my personal interests: – I wanted to come away from the residency with some starting points for the future, not end points to a final work or to draw a conclusion. I wanted this residency to help challenge my ideas of thinking and allow me time to question my main concerns.
On the last day of my residency, Mark Devereux of Mark Devereux Projects was due to visit both fellow resident artist and buddy Alana Tyson and I for a critical feedback session. Alana laid out her works in the gallery space and I was ready to show Mark some of the photographic projects I had done over the course of the week – it was the sheet of plastic with my scribbles on that he was more interested in talking about.
Firstly, he asked me to talk through everything I had written down and add to the diagram if I needed. By saying my internalized thoughts out loud, I heard them for the first time (sounds obvious, I know). I further emptied my head during our conversation – this was a relief as it had been swirling for weeks regarding the questioning of my practice. Mark added to the wall diagram, picking out pivotal things I was saying and adding his ideas too. By the end of the session my mind was spinning again but this time in a good way instead of a confused way.
I had begun to realise what my focus was; I had even managed to pin it down to just one word: Luminous! I had thought about which of my previous works were the strongest and why, I had clearer ideas for the future and for possible lines of inquiry, I also had room to add to the sheet; which is exactly what I am going to do when I get back into my studio at Rogue.
It was through externalising my thoughts that I had come to realise that it wasn’t the objects within my work that was of deep interest; they have been there as a device to stabilize the lighting elements and to create bridges for the colours to balance from. It is the purity of colour and how it effects our senses within an immersive environment that is of real interest. How do different colours affect us mentally, psychically and spiritually? How do our eyes respond to light? It is artificial light that interests me the most; where the colour choice is the saturate hues available in chemical manufacture, that I will investigate with rigor, intregue and delight.
The pieces of work I have made up until this point have lead to more sculptural end-points, where the lamps act as divisions or additions within the space; never-the-less illuminating it. It has been a frustration of mine that when people visit my works/exhibitions they sometimes fail to notice the glorious reflections and reverberations of colour around the room. Colour theory at work. It is my job to direct people to look at what I want them too, as well as their surrounds.
I want to take away any structures and investigate the impact of coloured light on us as a pure form. Light fills spaces, like a painting or sculpture or video or a performance. Only in my future inquiries it is the viewer becoming the performer and the walls becoming a huge light painting.
Then in was Alana’s turn to have a critique. She learned lots of things too, you can read her blog from our time at Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn here: alanatyson.tumblr.com