I have been working on sketches for what will become an object – the object – starting point for my work on the project programme. After years of working with ready-made second-hand objects drawing something to be made with with raw and ‘formless’ materials brings interesting questions. I feel more responsible and alone than I have done in a long time. Thoughts about ownership and power as well as about the creative processes have been raised while dealing with the practicalities of making an original form. Objects I have been working with lately have already been authored, the thing that I am working with now is being authored.
While pondering all this, ideas for other pieces are surfacing too. These nacent ideas combine working with ready-mades again, with making processes that have a strong rationale behind them.
It is becoming very clear that Mejan is an art school absolutely grounded in materiality. Working with Annette to build a plaster lathe it is apparent just how knowledgeable she is about wood, and how she engages with making from a position closer to that starting point rather than to an ideological one. And conversations with Ulrika about the ceramic workshop she was leading demonstrated how material knowledge forms the core of students practice (at least in their first years). It was good to see, and reminded me of the sculptural workshops I had at Dartington. It has been interesting to think about how – both practically and conceptually – I have recently engaged with materiality, lacking both technical expertise and physical resources, my materiality has become a blend of home-crafts and ready-mades.
Speaking of which, I had to laugh at myself as I taped pencil drawings to an internal window in order to trace the lines I wanted. My adopted working space is a room that is also connection between the older and newer college buildings. I was literally between the department for 3D prototyping and printing in one building and digital technology in the other, but as I do not know how to really use computers, I was using simple and effective techniques that I learnt at primary school (when computers were the size of a house) to do something that I am sure is now easily done with a few clicks of a mouse. For me scanning and manipulating an image on a screen does not have the same appeal as working with paper and pencil. I like the hands-on-ness, and the feel of the tracing paper.
Next week, however, I am doing a three-day workshop in ‘physical computing’. And already I am dreaming up projects that could relate to my kind of interactivity. It is an introductory course and from what I understand looks at the potential for using off the shelf technology such as simple sensors but in a more advanced way than I did with Go-Go. I am interested in how information collected by sensors can be fed in to a computer to activate something else. My experience of interactive art to date is that it was not something for me – too playful by far! – I hope that by starting to understand the technology I might find a use for it that makes sense to me. I am wondering if I can use sensors to register stillness rather than activity – a kind of interstillness rather than interactivity! I am also keen to see how a direct cause and effect relationship might be put off. The potential is simultaneously amazing and terrifying.
This daydreaming led me to this think about Mariko Mori’s show at the RA (although I did not actually see it). I was fascinated by the idea of how Japan’s weather could change the colour of a sculpture in London. I am not sure I want to know that it might have been as simple as relaying and processing data from weather sensors. This in turn, and in connection with thinking about artistic research, has led me to think about the idea of magic. Some of my anxiety about research is perhaps the erasure of magic.
I want, I need, art to be a bit magic!