An ambient track about the first flight of the pterosaur.
I’m quite good at going around in circles, so I thought I’d try composing a waltz.
Something I made to amuse myself while everybody else was watching the football this evening.
The video starts out silent and is best viewed full screen.
Imaginary Translation on vimeo
Yesterday I drew naked people all day.
On the 5th of April I participated in a two week project in the Witte Zaal gallery space (Sint Lucas, Ghent) whereby, daily, new artists responded to the gallery space as it was left the day before.
Items and resources could be introduced to the space but not removed. The artist before me put all the previous works in garbage bags and numbered the bags by day.
I responded to that by making a trashy, anxious environment with ink-scrawled messages denying the value of art and announcing the waste of time art represents. A classmate arrived then and further added to the visual aspect of it by arranging old records and empty drinks cans in the space. Then I declared that I would just read and study all day, because it was more important than making art. I taped the pages of my art history syllabus to the floor and the walls (with a note saying I was keeping it safe for later because it was important).
I began to read a novel (Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence), flicking through pages at random and only reading full paragraphs when they immediately appealed to my present state of mind. Then whenever I felt a strong connection to the words — whenever they appealed to an immediately relevant memory, a philosophy, an attitude, etc — I wrote down the whole paragraph or line or lines. In the end I had a big scroll of paper which when read functioned as a portrait or snapshot of my mind as it was that day. So it became an experiment in literary portraiture.
If I can track down the text that was created, I’ll post it here (it had to stay in the gallery space, and was used by an artist in a subsequent performance during the project).
I made some audio. It’s available to stream and download on SoundCloud (or above).
The above is just a video postcard from yesterday in the atelier. More info about this, my latest project, later.
I’m learning how to wield a pencil. More photos from my sketchbook are on flickr.
In January I showed a second, improved version of my translation of a poem into sounds and smells.
This time the environment was more fitting, some of the visual elements of the installation were improved upon or added to, and the mechanism of the machine was made more accurate and automatic through the addition of a braking system*. I got some very positive feedback from my mentors and classmates. Even the librarians were excited to have my work in situ.
*The brakes use a touch sensor to stop the turntable motor, in combination with an electromagnet to open and close a gate at the appropriate time. This way one can stop the turntable spinning at intervals of 1 sixth each time. It’s a rather amateurish or indirect solution to the requirement, but that’s in the spirit of the original poem — the playful spirit of finding your own interest and excitement in something you’re not equipped to understand yet, the spirit of looking in on a world that’s not your own and finding wonder/beauty through or despite your ignorance.
So I’m off to a good start in the experimental studio. Time for a new undertaking.
See my previous posts about this project.
I’ve been working on a translation of a poem into sounds and smells. The sounds and smells are released in synchrony by a machine (made with help from my engineer friend Brecht) that selects scented beakers using the turntable of an old record player.
You can download an excerpt from the audio track here, smells not included. This one is the translation of the second stanza, which begins “fondants, fudge, caramels, taffy brittles”, and lasts one and a half minutes. The whole piece is approximately eleven minutes long.
I may improve upon the audio, smells and machine over the next weeks. This is a sort of work-in-progress or, I suppose, the continued evolution in my mind of the original text.
It’s getting cold and grey in Ghent but there are still tropical plants in and around the glasshouses at the university’s botanical garden.
It’s interesting to me how my own inaccurate reproduction of the scene above in paint is already replacing my memory of the real thing in my mind. The more I look at my own painting, the more it becomes my memory. The same thing happens with old photographs, I find.
Although, to be fair to my brain, I do remember more detail from the real scene than I would have if I hadn’t painted it at all, even if the painted version is encroaching on that memory.
A caveat: These images are a tad unsharp because I copied the paintings with my camera instead of scanning the originals.
Though these paintings are still heavy handed and lacking in control, I feel like I’m paving the way for improvement every time I paint something new. The hardest part, again and again, is summoning the confidence and ease of mind to finish the painting when — during every painting in this beginning phase — I inevitably lose control of the painting.
I’m not sure I’m happy with this postcard sketch. What I am sure about is that I need a lot more practice.
I went out and painted in the centre of Ghent today. At first it was uncomfortable — people swarming around you, cars, trams, bikes. Ok perhaps not swarming. Milling.
But once I got into it, I forgot where I was and what time it was, and enjoyed it a lot. Drawing urban scenes is completely different to drawing the natural forms of the countryside.
I was almost finished when I was approached by an old man who talked to me about painting. That was nice. He said he was thinking himself of sitting in that position but with a different subject. And he was politely complimentary about my picture. It was a nice exchange and I thought: that’s something that wouldn’t happen in the countryside.
The picture above is taken from a poor angle using my camera as I don’t have a scanner here. Maybe I can get a proper scan of the image at a printshop.