(The image above is a picture of a reflection of me in a wavy mirror which I found in the MA studios.)
I went into Margaret Street today, primarily to return some library books, I decided to have a bit of a mooch around the studios to see what, if anything, was going on. I started in the MA studios which were empty of students, there was however a fair bit of work around. Mostly large paintings, some were giant Cezzanesque landscapes made in a series of 3 panels. Large blocky brushstrokes in bright colours (but not overpowering) worked together to form Mediteranean landscapes complete with dusty roads, Cypress trees and white blocks which I took to be whitewashed buildings. They became clearer the further away I moved.
I turned the corner to the studio where I'd attended a group crit a couple of weeks ago, to find that virtually all the photocopies had been removed from the wall, the only trace of any work having been there were a few specks of black tape. Happlily the swinging paint tub was still suspended from the wooden bar, I pulled it back slightly and let it go... I don't know if it'l still be there next time! I'm guessing that the artist has removed them because she was going to re-evaluate the display of her work... I'm looking forward to seeing how her work progresses.
Down the corridor there was a tv on a stand, the screen was black but there was a soundtrack, what sounded like a group of young people talking about random things (which I couldn't hear because of the low quality speakers in the tv and the hubub of noise from downstairs.) Occasionally the title of the piece faded in and back out again. I didn't really engage with the work, I couldn't, it wasn't apparent what the subject of conversation was and the sound quality was poor. I wasn't sure about the blank screen either, if i were the artist, I would have left it as a sound recording played simply through a speaker. I'm also one of these people who doesn't like the title or the artist's name to pop up actually in the work like somekind of TV exerpt - this work and the others like it dotted around, had these features in spades. For me, the jury is still out with this work.
Next I wandered downstairs to the basement studios, I have to say that there was quite a bit of interesting work around. It is strange though, I had a space there until May/june last year and it was completely different! One of the highlights was a large house made from ice-cream wafers, marshmallow twirls and sweets! It was really cool!
So, for those of you who have never been to Bromsgrove Station, here it is! The view above is towards Birmingham. Not terribly interesting I grant you, but it helps to gain an overall picture of how my day starts - it's not usually that sunny though!
On Monday I accompanied Nathan to his studio at Wolverhampton. It was really good to see where he studies and was great to meet the other members of his group and Sophie Hope. As part of Nathan's group tutorial we discussed our individual and collaborative practices, in particular the data sent to us by the mystery Moon Dust circle . Nathan also outlined his curatorial practice.
All in all it was a rather productive day, we got lots discussed and formulated!
Last week we were sent these images, they came in a shroud of mystery, we are investigating, but on this evidence of a type of art work on the moon NOT OF HUMAN CREATION:
"J. Doe, J. Doe and I are all amateur astronomers, we are really competitive and have been feverishly mapping the Lunar surface for some time now and have been studying the moon in the run up to this weeks total eclipse. We have been particularly interested in Christopher Hodson's Kepler area. The Lunar mountain in the lighted upper east side of the moon, the web has been an excellent tool in recent years and has helped us in our mapping project. NASA and The US Department of the Interior Geographical Survey have been photographing the moon for some time. Only in the last two years have these images been loaded up (most of them are from the 60's and 70's.) on the web, the images are loaded up slowly and we are always the first to download them anyway, last Thursday John was on a flight back from a Tokyo astronomical conference when he received the latest downloads, without notice they made the attached files available on the web, fortunately John received them in real-time, by the time he touched down and met us back at our HQ they had been removed, Thankfully John downloaded them. We have tried to contact NASA as we have friends there, officially they have told us that if we have any files they are the work of hoaxers who have recently hacked into their site, we know this not to be true as our associates on the inside. One of our agents has obtained further evidence in a film of the files. When it is safe we will send it out, can you disseminate this information in the U.K? We’ve analysied the patterns in the dust they seem to resemble our own crop circles found throughout the globe. If you are interested in this story can you not mention our links to the people on the inside, also please don’t use our real names as we are pretty sure NASA are trying to block out our IP addresses."
A fantastic couple of days in the capital - I attended a Graphic Design conference in Leicester Square at the Odeon, we heard from Sir George Cox amongst others talking about the Cox report and the future of the creative industries. That all got a bit anal and the hipocracy of the ad men and copy writers was wearing a little thin. Luckily I found some time to myself and snaked my way around London and saw some fantastic work. 1st. Rodchenko. In brief this left me a little cold - I also felt a little uncomfortable with the assosiations with the current Russian dynamic, most of the works are owned by Abromovich, only with the unfolding of modern history will show the ethics behind the relationship between an arts institute and a olygarch? Then downstairs at the Hayward, a fantastic exhibition of humour - highlights - Doug Fishbourne and Markus Coates. 3rd - Poped into the National Gallery to see the Forth Plinth proposals. 4th - ICA - Double Agent exhibition a brilliant piece by Barbera Visser. And then to top it all off, I met up with Kate Forde the curator who gave me a tour around the Wellcome collection. Perfect!
A lecture delivered by Richard Billingham to my college for the Foundation students rounded of a fantastic cultural week spent with Halesowen College (on return from a London field trip)
The jury's still out on Richard's practice, having said that he came to speak to perspective students (representing Cheltenham & Glos Uni where he is BA photography fine art tutor) so he was invited, and as such I shouldn't critique his work. But listening to him talk about his dysfunctional parents and the recent Zoo images. He remains detached, focused on the image , not the subject, he won't be drawn into debate about welfare state or repetitive behavior in zoo animals. But who can blame him? I'll have to think about this further?
Interestingly we had a John Robert's lecture on post-modernism and as a choice of final slides John jumped from the 80's to 1994 and a billingham plate of his dad in a dirty toilet. Horror and fear of post-modernity?
A regular party balloon is cast in Lead. Unlike a party balloon this sculpture will be solid, taking merely its shape. There will be no air or any other gas inside the piece. On Earth, this sculpture can exist as a Lead object on the floor, but if/when taken aboard the Space Shuttle or the ISS would float very much like a real balloon. The characteristics of the material (in terms of weight) alter with the change in environment. It is a slightly humorous play on the adage, “That will go down like a Lead Balloon.” In my view, this work explores changes in gravity and the realm of zero-gravity in a rather poetic way. The following image is a visualisation of the sculpture as it may appear if taken to the Moon, where it would weigh one sixth of its Earth weight.
So, since before Christmas I've been trying to develop ideas for artistic projects that could be carried out in Space, with particular emphasis on the Moon.
In order to give the work some kind of definite context, I went and bought a 1 acre plot of land on the Moon - it's at 32'W 14'N a few km away from a crater called Kepler. I've modelled the landscape (after I found a detailled map) with a 3d package, the result of which you can see above.
One of the proposals I think works the best out of all of them (so far) is a piece called Lead Balloon which will be highlighted in the next post.
One other proposal involves me dividing my 1 acre plot in smaller plots, within the rules lain down by the Lunar Embassy (yeah..I had no idea one existed either!) it states that I cannot sell my plot to anyone else, but there is nothing in the rules about me allowing others to run/work within parts of the land I own. The whole area of land is 63.3 x 63.3m , i'm considering a proposal where the plot is subdivided into smaller plots just under 4 x 4m which would provide me with 250 smaller plots. I'm quite open to receiving proposals from anyone who may want to use this land.
Some feedback from Roger Malina (Leonardo/OLATS, MIT) has led me to realise I'm being quite conservative with the proposals, he commented that the ones I've already formulated are too much like art seen on Earth. I can definitely see his point and am endeavouring to work with more radical, completely site specific works.
Nathan having met up wth Ruth Claxton brings back a whole load of great memories for me (#cringing at his own sentimentality#) you see, Ruth was the first Fine Art tutor I ever had, whilst studying at the Bournville centre for the Visual Arts. It was there that I knew being an Artist was, for me, not only what I wanted to do but what I should be doing with the rest of my life, and Ruth is partly to thank for that.
Ok, enough of the mush - what have I been doing......?
In this months review I would like to look at two artists: Ruth Claxton and Laura White both of whom I met in the same day. In the morning I visited Ikon Eastside. Ruth is the first resident and has been working there since December. Eastside, a fairly battered factory building neighbouring the Custard Factory in Birmingham is an extension to the ever-growing Ikon empire. I was greeted by a host of Ruth’s works that filled the large space. Hundreds of steel rings in oscillating groups, intricately welded together and sprayed battleship grey. Some of the rings are filled with coloured mirrors reflecting the light and catching the frost melting drips that were sneaking into the industrial space. The third element to this work is the porcelain figurines. The figurines are the types that live on Great Britain’s mantelpiece. In some weird staged play where spotted kittens can inhabit the same scale and space as a dancing milk-maiden. They are bought from ebay and arrive at Ruth’s door to be ‘subjected’ to a type of bastardisation akin to Jake and Dino Chapman’s drawing on Goya’s prints. They are added to and in doing so they become Ruth’s works, they take on new meaning and live again in this hall of mirrors sculpture.
Ruth Claxton has exhibited widely and gained representation at Arquebuse Gallery, Geneva and has added her work to the collections of among others Frank Cohen. This show entitled Lands End will be opening at the Ikon on April and then travelling to Spike Island in 09 and her postcard works are at the Barber Institute from
After the interview I had to dash over the City and bridge the gap to Wolverhampton where I was late for a lecture by Laura White, Laura is also a sculptor, and her practice and methodologies in some respects mirrors (excuse the pun) Ruth’s and visa versa. Laura takes objects often as she finds them, arranges them and projects videos of nature onto them. The imagery can either be lifted from natural history documentary or primarily sourced this is not important. Having grown up in Worcester Laura’s roots are in the countryside, as extension of her growing up she is interested in the way nature is portrayed in the everyday, in urban living. Laura is fascinated by, dare I say it again, the bastardisation of nature by advertising, for example she points to the recent run on car adverts that morph into animals or are shown in some interaction with nature. In other works Laura has produced a series of sculptures entitled ‘small sculptures’ they feature cut outs from magazines pasted onto and obscuring the heads of toy animals. Again this is a critique of how TV, magazines and the Society of the Spectacle interact and feed of nature. These pieces are also physically similar to Ruth Claxton’s Porcelain pieces.
This physicality is the only real similarity, as artists their motives and ideas lie elsewhere but what I find interesting is the ‘image sifting’ (to use a phrase from my theory lecturer, John Roberts) of these two talented artists. In some ways they have become curators by selecting imagery, organising, adding to it and then showing it in a gallery space. They are showing us new works using gathered imagery in a new DJ style of shopping on ebay and googling images – mixing objects and material in new configurations of postproduction.
Laura White teaches at Goldsmiths and the Manchester Met, she is currently working on a new book.
Today I attended the group tutorial of one of my peers, she was also on the BA course that I finished last year, so I kind of have an idea of what her work is about. She takes various (seemingly random) generic objects and arranges them in ways that almost make them seem like accidents waiting to happen. The work reminds me very much of Fischli & Weiss aswell as work by Harrison & Wood. The wall is covered (although not completely) by degraded black and white photocopied images of these assemblages annotated with explanatory phrases like "Blue Wellington Boots" referencing/explaining what the images contain. The photocopies are affixed to the wall with torn squares of black electrical tape, some copies overlap - folds in the paper provide a way for lines to combine. Much of the work responds to the space that it's in, a crack in the wall might be continued with a dark black line created as a result of the photocopying. There is a definite humour here, akin to that of Charlie Chaplin or even Wile. E. Coyote and Road Runner (suggested by another student).
In the middle of the studio space hung an 8 litre tub of white emulsion at the end of an elasticated rope, hovering about an inch or so above the wooden floor. On the lid of the tub was a pooling blob of what seemed to be black enamel paint or gloss, parts of which weren't quite dry. (The tutor pulled it back and it began to swing and for a few minutes the piece was alive.) Next to the suspended paint pot were a pile of breeze blocks which appeared to have trapped the other end of the rope. Looking up towards the wooden beam that supported them, you could see that they were not infact connected by the same piece of rope and the breezeblocks were not helping to suspend the paint tub. I did say that I was a tiny bit disappointed by this in a way, probably because the sense I'd tried to make of the work didn't now add up. I'm not saying this is a bad thing though, it provides you with another challenge.
Talking to the artist after we had tried (somewhat successfully) to get a handle on the work, she told us that what we had read into it was correct for the most part - the disappointment was a good thing because that is what she had intended - a kind of entropy (energy loss) in terms of reading the work is attained in this way.
All in all a really good group crit, lots discussed and certainly lots to think about!
Matthew Cornford, our tutor has started a sabbatical. In his absence we have Dr Alistair Payne, (acting course leader, also my personal tutor) and a new visiting tutor; Sophie Hope. the account below is from her organisation - B&B - www.welcomebb.org.uk
Sophie Hope's work inspects the uncertain relationships between art and society. This involves establishing how to declare her politics through her practice; rethinking what it means to be paid to be critical and devising tactics to challenge notions of authorship.
From 2006-7 Sophie carried out a residency with the Beyond Action Research Programme in Leidsche Rijn, Holland, where she worked with residents to produce a one-day performance of life in 2007 told from 1000 years in the future. Other current projects include publishing a Manifesto of Possibilities for commissioning public art and Reunion, a programme of meetings, residencies and exhibitions between artists and curators based in the UK and South East Europe. The most recent manifestation of Reunion was The 2007 Almanac of Political Art, now available to download from the Reunion website.
Sophie is currently undertaking a practice based doctoral study on the economics of socially engaged art at Birkbeck College, University of London where she is also a lecturer on the MA Arts Management and Cultural Policy.
Weird, Michael Schwab is the perfect practitioner for Chris and I feel I can learn stacks from Sophies practice who's work is close to my own interests. She is also keen for each of us to lead a seminar, we each have to propose a text and deliver a conversation.
I have recently begun work on a new project as part of my Fine Art practice - iVoyager. I aim to collect thousands of images, videos, sounds etc. gathered from artists and other interested parties around the world. Everything will be stored on a 160GB iPod® and perhaps sometime in the future will be sent into space.
This is an ongoing, two year project to collect a whole new body of information images, sounds, videos, podcasts, games, infact anything that can be played or viewed on an iPod®.
The original Voyager discs were sent up in 1977 though... it is safe to say that our knowledge and technology has moved on considerably since then and with the advent of portable multimedia centres like the iPod®, it is high time a more up to date version was created...
more info (how you can get involved) can be found at: www.christopherhodson.110mb.com/iVoyager.html
So last week (Wednesday) I finally graduated from my BA course! At last! Had a great day catching up with all the people I hadn't seen since June. I also met Rhydian from X-factor who was collecting his BA in Music. He was a really nice guy and his family we're very friendly too. All in all a really great day... only another year and a half (ish) until we have to do it all over again!!
Read the blog entries of two MA fine art students. Nathaniel Pitt and Chris Hodson are studying at Wolverhampton and Birmingham respectivly. This blog is a recording of their experiences in these two seats of learning