Thursday, 23 March 2017

On Tiempo, Banff and Rome. And others

Time crystals! Wow, that is indeed fascinating. I should give it some thought.

Well, let’s say that here at the Banff Centre the breath taking environment leads one to consider the practice of drawing and mark making in a more holistic manner if that makes sense. One fascinating element is how the sky and the mountains merge (because of the clouds and the snow in the peaks).
 (Still from a video)

I have been tracking the weather (metaphorically speaking) and decided on three colors that seem to represent the place (very much like I was doing in the Slowtrack project but even more so in the pieces I was working on in Rome, where I tried to figure out the colors that represent the city, whether it is a vertical or horizontal place, and also what type of mark making would be adequate (turns out that I needed and interrupted line)).

So, as I was saying, I started making barely visible drawings and movies that wouldn't move. The form of mark making here is dictated by the trees, which dominate the landscape and make it distinct. 

I am now trying to come up with some measuring devices. Stay tuned!

Friday, 10 March 2017

El tiempo and oscillating matter

Gosh that's a much more elegant way of thinking about time than the economic slant of the metaphors we use when we talk about time in English. 

I wondered if this meteorological approach underpinned the new body of work you're producing in Canada? Your photos of the view were extraordinary and intriguing, and I wondered how the project was linked to or developed the Slowtrack drawings?

In other news, time crystals have been announced to the world. I wonder if it's possible to draw with them?!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

A response to Time

Steph, I do find your comments very interesting and pertinent. As for time, in articular, I like to think of it as Michel Serres does: in meteorological terms.  In Spanish (as well as in French and other Romance languages) we use the same word, time, to refer to both chronological time and to meteorological one (what in English you call weather). This assumes that the nature of time is chaotic, multidimensional and topological rather than geometrical (as you suggest and Bergson pointed out, classical time is related to metrics, to its measurement, and has nothing to do with space). So I would say that there is indeed a sense of temporal depth in what I am trying to achieve while drawing. If such making allows for contemplative time in the viewer the better, although I wouldn’t know.

I would have to think about your second point … In my case, the importance of drawing has always lain in it being a gesture that allows for a certain form thinking to be manifested (that is, drawing as a gesture that gives an idea an aesthetic form). It is only recently that I have realized that drawing represents a very specific ‘occupation of time’.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Time: a response to new works for SLOWTRACK

In response to Laura's last post I've been thinking about two particular points, both related to time. Firstly the fragmentation and spatialisation of time that, for Fredric Jameson, defined the present in postmodernism. It's sneaked onto my radar recently, in several guises but mainly in relation to the aspect of critical thinking that returns to history to quietly check up on the things presented to us. Even if this is a spatial sense of history as a map, in order to reflect on our position in relation to larger conceptual structures. In my defence I'm an illustrator and that's how I process things!

But that's another avenue entirely*, when what I'm wondering in relation to these drawings is whether (in your shift from small to enormous drawings) the sheer scale of the things offers the possibility of adding depth of time (more Bergsonian, maybe?) to a spatial form. Is drawing a way of redeeming spatial time in that respect? Developing it into something productive, in that it gives us viewers a pocket of contemplative time?

*But one that might help to explain my preoccupation with pauses in this post!

The other point that sprang to mind was the sheer brilliance of drawing as some sort of lingua franca (or perhaps it's time as a Rosetta Stone of a concept) for us practitioner-researchers. To explain; I've been to more interdisciplinary conferences in the past year, and the role of the discourse familiar to different disciplines in defining (and potentially excluding) membership has become more apparent. I mention this not as someone in some sort of academic sulk, but in terms of its potential to limit research. We discussed the problem of talking at cross purposes without really being sure of what we'd agreed upon, if we discussed concepts without reference to specific examples to develop our shared understanding. It was the self-made trap in my SAR conference paper! But time has been something that has enabled us to talk about drawing across disciplines. And in turn drawing has enabled us to see each other's perspective on time, even if we can't always articulate its complexity in words. 

At any rate, these thoughts are clumsy and still drying, and are very much open to reworking! Over to you, Laura and Lynn, if there's something in here to pursue or take in a different direction entirely. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Preliminary thoughts

The particular body of work Stephanie saw in my studio back in November 2016 might have come to its end as I just finished the five big-scale drawings (120x250 cm) on drywall that will constitute a fundamental part of my upcoming show at Slowtrack (Madrid).   

Work in progress. January 2017.

Fundamental to the show is the publication of Atmospheric Meditations. Before the Present (338U- 710 U)  a book that includes two years worth of drawings: that is, all the paper pieces I have done since my exploration on atmospheric conditions began.

In February 2015 I was invited by El Museo de Los Sures (New York City) to develop a project that grappled with the specifics of the place where El Museo is located. Situated in Williamsburg, a highly gentrified neighborhood that is undergoing major changes, El Museo has emerged as a space of resistance as its fundamental mission is to keep the memory of the neighborhood alive. Faced which such setting it became clear to me that my explorations had to focus on the fundamental conditions that allow life to happen and thrive and so air and water became fundamental. Mine became thus an investigation on oceanic and atmospheric conditions, on how they could be rendered visible, and it started as a collection of dots (sometimes bubbles) and lines, and had no colors.
Wave 1: East River. 26.07.2014-11.08.2014. Drawing on paper. 21x29,7. 2014

At a certain point I began filming the snow falling against the grey NYC sky. In the videos, the wind turned the snowflakes into white lines, which seemed like a perfect form of mark making. It was then that white lines emerged as the quintessential form of rendering the air visible, of making it explicit while allowing for time to be registered. Each flake was suspended in its journey to the ground, each stroke a recorded instant. 

Snowdrawings1. Drawing on paper. 15,2 x 22,9 cm. 2015

From that moment on I adopted this form of drawing: a succession of white lines entered my repertoire of minimal mark making. Since then my work has grappled with stretching and expanding what this form of marking might mean.

Pantone. Drawing on paint on wall.  45 x 265 cm. 2016. Installation view at Saint Roc’s Chapel, Valls (Tarragona, Spain). Photo by Alba Rodriguez

Pantone. 60% Grey Sky. Drawing on pain on wall (detail).  93 x 54 cm. 2016. Installation view at Saint Roc’s Chapel, Valls (Tarragona, Spain). Photo by Alba Rodriguez

Friday, 18 November 2016

Introductory interview with Laura F. Gibellini

An interview with Laura F Gibellini, Madrid, November 2016, by way of an introduction to the project blog and some of themes that may be explored herein.

Upon entering Laura’s flat in Madrid I’m surrounded by meticulous wall drawings and works in progress for her forthcoming exhibition at Slowtrack gallery, spring 2017. We begin by discussing these large scale paint and graphite wall pieces and Laura’s recent works on paper. These, like much of her recent output, are centred on the project of atmospheric conditions and trying to make these solid through drawing.

Wall drawing (detail)

Temporal density
As the conversation develops it turns out that we have a shared interest in the concept of time, which emerges in relation to the glacial time represented in the older wall drawing that faces us on the wall opposite. This is in conjunction with the time taken to produce such painstaking work, and the prospective historical time that these drawings will occupy when they are painted over and become the sediment of the building’s walls. Here lies another point of agreement; enjoying transitory work that doesn’t hang around for too long. These magnificent undertakings sit in contrast to the more recent drawings produced to accompany a relay-race of translation from image to text and back to image again, which are destined to sit alongside a series of poems written to accompany an exhibition of photography. These images are developed through drawing from photographs, and demonstrate the close relationship between drawing and photography in Laura’s work. Laura uses and references photography in her images in a deliberate way to suggest a sense of a viewer in the space, of someone looking at the scene before you. As she says, images are always mediated through their maker and it would be disingenuous to pretend otherwise. The method of working from photograph through carbon paper to picture surface emphasises this distance and also allows their temporal mediation. In this respect the drawings occupying a place between the extended time of drawing and that of the fraction of a second of the photographic image they transcribe. It is this prolonged attention to a fleeting moment gives them their stillness.

Process and problems
We discuss the result of a recent residency in Munich, where Laura was drawing onto glass with graphite. The work is labour-intensive and involves drawing onto a prepared ground and firing the outcomes at a specific temperature. The final piece didn’t behave as the test versions did, leading to an inverted image. Whilst the alchemy happening in the kiln wasn’t entirely as expected it led to new products and processes entirely befitting of the subject matter such as the impression of lens flare, again suggesting a photographer and a viewer. The importance of embracing (and even setting) problems such as this is a recurrent theme within our conversation and Laura’s recent article for MaHKUscript, as practitioners exploring ideas through practice. Sandblasting these pieces (to address an issue of colour intensity) further increased their sense of snowblindness, and therefore adopted the peculiarities of an unpredictable and wayward process as a strength; just as Richard Sennett (in The Craftsman) describes working with friction, rather than against it. The lesson being to work less, in a sense. Laura proposes that work needs to be difficult for her to learn from it, but on the other hand the challenge might not need to be quite so arduous and may lead to a recalibration of time and output in order to tackle this from a different angle in coming projects.

Work in progress, paper from Vlieger

The conversation pursues this theme of working with and through materials to discuss recent drawings using extraordinarily loud paper bought in Amsterdam following the SAR conference where we met at Easter. This has proved to be another self-initiated challenge to habit, in this case the subtle palette Laura has developed. The strip of colour in the large scale wall drawing is a reference to weather maps, and the colours themselves are a reference to Laura’s own work and its palette. Her work has moved through domestic spaces to mapped spaces, then on to weather maps to represent the conditions of the space. Laura has adopted the colour chart that represents the temperature conditions, but replaces these colours with those from her “key to the artworks”; a chart of colours distilled from her back catalogue. This has been given a sharp wake-up call by the intensely bright paper from Amsterdam’s tremendous paper shop Vlieger, which constitutes a challenge from Laura to her own strategies and comfort zone and brings a graphic sensibility to the drawings.

Line of best fit
During our conversation, we flit between projects to explore the temporal aspects of Laura’s work, and the methods and materials used to produce them. By doing so we emphasise the networked nature of thoughts through practice, making it difficult to discuss projects as discrete units. We discuss the frustrations of linearity in this respect, and the demands of writing that are sometimes at odds with the rhizomatic, spatial relationship between ideas as worked through within practice. This is a theme we explore in relation to the structure and layout of texts for publication that arise from practice. Laura’s previous writing for the Journal of Artistic Research tackles the spatial aspect of her concerns, and for her forthcoming Drawing Research Journal paper Laura tackled the fragmentation of thought through practice within the earlier drafts of the paper. The preference given to words over pictures in the structure of academic writing leads us to discuss the roles of text and image in making an argument, and then to other ‘marked terms’ in visual arts practice: drawing as lesser than painting (as Laura says, “drawing is the little sister”), art as superior to illustration. Which is nonsense, in practice, especially given the articulacy of the accomplished work I have been looking at for the past hour.

We finish our coffees with Laura recommending galleries to visit in Madrid. We arrange to meet at Slowtrack the following day, where I am able to see both a subtle and provocative exhibition based on the theme of text and textiles, and also the venue for Laura’s forthcoming exhibition. On the basis of the work I’ve seen so far the show promises to be a rewarding affair, and the following posts will unravel some of the questions and processes encountered during its making.