Saturday, September 15, 2012

A self-perpetuating, self-generating, self-regulating system (which is quite possibly an idealistic impossibility)

In an act of blog-fail guilt (last post in December? Holy moly!*), herein I post a slightly altered version of a piece I wrote recently, to contribute to the first stage of a multi-phase exhibition project in which I had no actual artwork.


Recently, I've been thinking a lot about analogue systems.

My current studio work has focused on looping systems, with no start or end point. Due to the nature of these systems, each element, both electronic (motors, relays and switches) and mechanical (sculptural elements in motion) is crucial to the ongoing action of the work.

Of late, however, these systems have come to feel rigid, pre-determined, and overtly authored.

Subsequently, I have been attempting to create systems which are self-regulating, with self-generated sequencing. In short: I want to make systems in which I, as artist-creator, take little part. Unpredictable, random, ongoing systems.

My current experiment has proven this to be a very difficult (I am not yet ready to concede impossible) task.

Why should it be so difficult to make a random yet ongoing system? I suspect that the dilemma actually lies in language. For, in actual fact, systematic and random are antonyms; to be systematic is to defeat randomness. To have a system that is ongoing and self-contained, and also random or self-determined, has so far eluded me – and perhaps this is why.

Quite possibly, these two hypothetical ideals – the ongoing (and in reality, gallery-suitable) looped system, and the self-determined, random, unpredictable system – are mutually exclusive. The current experiment suggests this may be the case. Hopefully the next experiment will prove otherwise.


* Dictionary spelling check-up was required here. Holy moly.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Faith and the Artist

Spurred by a conversation with the lovely RAD about the nature of faith - in particular, discussing how people position themselves in regards to differing views about the place of religion in human existence - I spent much of a five-hour train trip today pondering the connection between faith and artistic production.

I am a-religious. I was brought up in a non-religious household. At age twelve I was offered a free place at the local Christian camp for a week. I can distinctly recall sitting in chapel there, singing along to children's hymns, and thinking "everyone here seems really happy believing in God!" And so I decided then and there that I was going to believe in God. I tried really really hard to believe, for the entire week, and was quite sorely disappointed when it just didn't work. I then attended an Anglican secondary school, and whilst the faith itself had little meaning to me, the contemplative space of our weekly chapel services was something I looked forward to.

So, where does faith sit for those of us who don't carry a religion? In these musings today I began to see a link between artistic production and faith: my entire career, my creative outputs, rely on a form of faith. Within my practice, though levels of logic and reasoning are involved, my experience is that decisions are primarily made on gut-responsive intuition. And I, as artist, must have faith in this intuition, this sense of 'otherness'* that permeates the work and the decision-making. I rely on this faith to know that it will all work out, despite insecurities, anxieties and the laws of time (that for some reason just stop applying when things get crazy). And, whilst this is not at all a religion, I imagine that perhaps this intuition, this often blind faith in where the work is going, may be reminiscent of the feeling of God's presence to those who hold him.

So, the thought occurs that perhaps, at age twelve, I couldn't believe because I had always known that I would be an artist.

*this is interesting considering that much of my PhD is based around the idea of an 'otherness' in the work, of a liveliness in it that goes beyond my input as artist; that which I call a 'shimmer'...


A thought occurred to me earlier today, whilst in the depths of train-induced contemplation: that the lapses in time within my expressive recordings - such as this blog, and perhaps more importantly my visual diary - are directly reflective of the patterns of my life. My last serious post here was just prior to undertaking the fabrication and installation of the 'monster' (better known as "Plunge") in two weeks; a task which left both myself, and the several wonderful beings who made it happen*, in a state of utter exhaustion. I then had another two exhibitions opening three weeks later, and soon afterwards left for overseas. Both the blog and my visual diary exhibit a gap that coincides with these events.

These periods of intense activity and production leave no time for contemplative consideration. They are periods devoid of day-dreaming; an exercise which I now consider a necessity, rather than a luxury, for both creative and emotional function. As I discussed in an earlier post, I've really come to believe that whilst production phases are necessary (particularly within my working practices) the work that they generate is significantly improved if underpinned by quiet day-dreaming.

So, with this in mind, here's to deep, wandering, gentle thought; and thus, a re-ignition of this blog.

* the wonderful beings being: JSF, ET, SJH, TP, AB-G, and DJW. Thank you guys.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Learning curve

So, after applying to exhibit an artwork in the United Kingdom, and being accepted, I now find myself facing the task of getting a large sculptural installation overseas. Without breaking the budget. Or the sculpture.

Whilst undertaking said research, I came across a list of what cannot be imported into the UK. Whilst most of it is to be expected (animals and such) a few items struck me as slightly amusing, including:

- bullion
- soiled clothing and rags
- electrical machinery (it is unclear what this constitutes?)
- horror comics
- salt, sulphur (dammit!)
- tools, cutlery
- sealskins

Does a kinetic sculpture fall under 'electrical machinery' or 'tools'?

The beast...

My apologies for the significant hiatus between postings... it is primarily due to the creation of my work "Plunge" for Lorne Sculpture 2011.

Here is a rough video (thanks to JSF) on the first day it was running:

I will follow up with some better documentation once it exists!


Thursday, September 8, 2011


"A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd." 
- Max Lucado

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Studio Experiments

Playing with magnets... (I just realised you can also hear what I was listening to in the studio...)

A new work underway:

I bought some silicon hose to experiment with in water, but discovered that it reacts really nicely to a 'flick' on one end - the wave of motion then runs the entire length of the hose. So started testing to turn this into a work, based on the 'flick' closing a circuit.

Test for contact circuitry - when the hose is flicked the alfoil makes contact, causing the motor to turn...

Nutting out the circuit to run the piece, final version:

Setting up to test the above circuit:

Tested and proven that it works! Yay!

I will post some images once the work is actually at a photogenic stage. LW.