Degree Project Title: Infinite Possibilities (considering changing to Infinite POTENTIAL) – abstractions based on specific buildings at Essex University

Fig. 1 Untitled, 2016, timber, paper, various dimensions

An exercise in constructing, deconstructing and reorganising time and space.

This image shows me experimenting last semester with the idea of inserting drawings, photographs and/or painted panels between sections of a 3D painting.

The panels were painted with products and in colours which capture the irregular nature of tarmac (a response to the underground service area).

I considered painting across the inserted panels with the lines corresponding to the lines on the construction beneath thereby reintroducing the continuity of the lines in the painting; and reinforcing a sense of layering and continuity through time and space in different dimensions.

The monochrome photograph (see Fig.1 lower left) shows a surreal image of two buildings at Essex University. I took the photograph standing in the corner of a second storey room where two windows converged at a 90-degree angle. Thus, the image shows two buildings cropped and compressed.

I consider the constructions to be 3D paintings in response to Brutalist buildings at Essex University (knowing the location need not be relevant to viewers).

I used timber to produce geometrical constructs which were then painted in three shades of grey chalk paint (in response to concrete – the material used in the Brutalist buildings at Essex University).

These constructions were not designed; each piece of timber was cut and fixed in relation to others.

Each of the 3D paintings is made up of three autonomous layers painted in one of three shades of grey (Graphite, Anthracite and Flint – corresponding to natural materials).

The layers of the three compositions are interchangeable – which introduces multiple additional possibilities including a sense of depth created by darker and lighter tones of white and black.

Currently, the first layer is prepared with mirror plates to be fixed to a wall and the subsequent layers are designed to balance on the first.

However, all layers could be suspended from a ceiling, hinge out from walls and the corners of rooms.

Fig. 2 Untitled, 2017, timber, various dimensions

This exercise enabled me to analyse my conscious and other than conscious perceptions of time and space.
I walked around and inside the buildings and through the landscape on the campus at Essex University thereby building-up sensory perceptions/memories.

I then constructed a response to those sensory perceptions/memories in my studio.

I found that the more I looked at photographs and images of architectural plans and drawings the more remote I felt from the environment I wanted to respond to and inhibited the act of making.

However, when I simply made work – drawings and constructed layers using timber – with an open-mind I felt highly responsive to a motivating force which was only concerned with process of making and responding to what emerged.

[This echoes my experience of painting abstract images the investigation of which underpins this project – joining up a circle?]

This exercise reinforced my belief that boundaries to our thinking about time and space, (represented by the timber lines) are perceptions (or fantasies/illusions) which we can control and change. I have the capacity to organise lines/boundaries to make new and satisfying associations and relationships (using individual and/or group criteria).

Thus, time and space is the stuff of infinite possibility (potential).

Ultimately, understanding that Homo Sapiens can control time and space is about survival.

Influences (see recent blog pages for analysis):
The early paintings and drawings of architect Zaha Hadid – influenced by Russian painter and Theoretician Kazimir Malevich (1879 – 1935).

Hadid’s use of perspective, colour contrasts and tone to emphasis 3D form and in particular shadows to extend and elongate the relationships between forms. Consideration of the spatial needs of individuals in urban environments (societies). This includes aesthetic considerations together with the relationships between ancient and contemporary buildings and ideas e.g. Rome.

Julie Mehretu – influenced by Marxist and Situational Theorist Guy Debord (1931 – 1994) e.g. the idea of psychogeographies (a study of the effects of the environment on the behaviour and emotions of individuals or something that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape).

Mehretu’s vision extrapolates from the local to the global.
Use of layering e.g. images of architectural features of buildings overlaid with an abstract response thereby creating new spaces.

Display considerations:
The grey, 3D paintings as in Figure. 1 – a response to the build environment – could have colour videos projected into the spaces between the timber lines.

The significance of the use of colour in the videos is that they reflect the changing colours in the ever changing landscape which interact with the built environment.

In one video I have manipulated the colours to exacerbate their depth and contrast.

The videos show layered moving images e.g. grasses moving in the wind overlaid by water in the lake rippling under the pressure of water projected at force from the fountain.

Thus, the projected moving images (the environment) interact with the static 3D paintings (representing the buildings) demonstrating that time and space offer infinite possibilities.

Developments/Intentions this semester:
My work developed last semester from colour, 2D abstract paintings to include photographs taken via reflections – thereby abstracting new perspectives – layering videos, drawing developed to include a sense of perspective and 3D construction/painting.

I intend to return to colour, 2D painting this semester and analyse the changes; including painting on aluminium panels.

I also intend to consider combing video and a 3D assemblage (sculpture – using a limited number of materials and colour) so that the static 3D assemblage appears kinaesthetic.

The apparent movements in time and space will be semi-illusory brought about by projecting moving images onto the 3D assemblage.

Thus, the 3D assemblage will demonstrate the illusory nature of perception.

Areas for research:
Contemporary kinaesthetic, collage, sculpture, installation art practitioners:

• Sarah Sze (see Measuring Stick, 2015)assemblage/sculpture and video
• Helen Marten, assemblage and sculpture
• Philippe Parreno, installation and film
• Contemporary art and psychogeographies
• Contemporary art and the sublime

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Window University of Essex, 2017, Photograph: Gillian Lock-Bowen

Further to the thoughts I listed in my previous blog (20/01/17) which attempt to explain my response to visiting the campus of my first university – from a psychogeoraphical perspective – I decided to respond to those ideas in the form of a poem.

This afternoon, I wrote the poem which follows in less than 10 minutes – like a stream of consciousness it is a collection of impressions of my early days as an undergraduate on the campus at Essex University in the mid 1980s.

Psychogeography – first walk across the Campus

People crossed the numbered Squares appearing to have intent
I too kept walking

Aware of the Titled doors sweeping open and closing like exterior lungs
Propelling people into and out from secret warrens of knowledge.
Behind the doors, pigeon holes empty, or dipping with uncollected mail –
Not back yet, collected, just empty?

The Hex – long queue, multiple voices – questions what and where and when and who?
A bustling space – between bustling spaces –
between fierce, protective Brutalist walls.

The Library – silence, concentration, catalogues, floors –
walk between, or ride the Paternoster lift, to
row upon row of solid, dark shelves and numerical systems;
Seek and find books and journals, new and old
containing numerous traces of bold ideas – hypothesis then theory.
Fascination rippling outward making new connections –
Rabbit holes opening, time ticking…

Views across the Lake, trees beyond, Canada geese
Walking in slow motion in gaggle formation, cumbersome steps
Then necks bent plucking in synchronisation
Like their possessive Theropod ancestors before them

Book lists, Lecture Theatres, intense Tutorials –
Reading at pace, analysis, vivid vocabulary.

Harvard citation whenever A argued against B’s hypothesis, following C ‘s exposition since D’s redefinition of …

Banners and protests, boycotts and rallies – urgency.

Questioning, deconstructing, evaluating, reframing, resistance, self-determination…

Essex University Albert Slowman Library