Lockdown 10 (almost a fortnight since the last one)

And what have I been doing since?

Finished the June ‘draw every day’ gallery and started July.

Edlington Woods 1

Edlington Woods 1

Edlington Woods 2(primrose)

Edlington Woods 2(primrose)

Started some new paintings and finished some others. I’ve got two series on the go at the moment, one is a series of Edlington Woods paintings, details of the floor mostly, and the other is a series of collared doves and pigeons in the garden.

Collared Dove

Collared Dove

I’ve continued work on the five/six Balby garden sculptures, trying out finishes with oils and gold leaf with varying measures of success.

Balby Garden 2 (in progress)

Balby Garden 2 (in progress)

I’ve also continued to work on the VR piece, ‘et in arcadia ego’, a journey through a series of gardens with photographic memories inserted withour explanation. This piece was put forward for the Cast theatre scratch night initiative in Doncaster. The tentative working title gives the clue to my intentions. For me the beginnings come from Poussin by way of TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, but rather than the merely elegiac I want (now) to look back to Sannazaro’s original interruption of the idyllic retreat with a dark dream that forces you back to reality where things have inevitably changed.

The last thing for this post is that the piece was accepted for the Scratch Night, so it should be going online somehow, as a work in progress, to draw comments from a panel of arts professionals.

ACE announced that the Lottery Project Grants are returning on the 22nd of July and Barnsley NHS have been in touch to advance the organ donation memorial.

Lockdown Seven (another lazy post)

Update on the #draweverydayinmay2020

I kept going until I had 31 days worth, and I’ve drawn on the two days since, the link takes you to the completed gallery.

So this is a quick picture post as I went protesting on Sunday when I would normally have written a post.

Tuesday I started a painting and worked on the first garden in the VR world that has a working title of ‘et in arcadia ego’

underdrawing

starting tthe painting

Glover Street Yard

On Wednesday I ran and then worked in the garden. I spent the afternoon getting frustrated with the VR – it’s always about adjusting the scale to make the world realistic. (as an aside I bought a copy of MakeVR to try to build quicker but discovered that my kit isn’t upto it, it works so slowly it defeats the object of using it.)

Thursday I carried on painting and modelling.

Under painting

I carried on painting on Friday

Friday painting

On Saturday I worked on the model, changing textures (sourced from old family photographs)

Glover Street Model

The I finished the painting and entered it into a competition locally – online so maybe not just local – I had to submit a photoof me in the studio alongside it.

The artist in his studio [old codger]

The finished(!) painting looks like this…

withered rose

Lockdown Six (and on, and on, and on…)

Lazy post this week…

The gallery has been updated with the daily drawings.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time working up the parts for some maquettes, the series of photographs tell the story…

paper drying in the sun

paper drying in the sun 25/05/20

mould making for rocks

mould making for rocks 27/05/20

mould making for rocks 27/05/20

mould making for rocks 27/05/20

finishing the moulds

finishing the moulds 28/05/20

Outdoor workspace

Outdoor workspace 28/05/20

Solid Castings

Solid Casting 30/05/20

Solid Rocks and half rocks

Solid Rocks and half rocks cast in plaster of paris 29 & 30/05/20

Outdoor workspace 31/05/20

Outdoor workspace 31/05/20

Plinths

Plinths 31/05/20

I’ve made a whole series of parts for the maquettes I’m planning.

I’ve also modelled the old backyard from the house I grew up in in Stoke on Trent for the VR piece I’m working on.

Onwards and onwards!

Lockdown Five (a continuing, if erratic, saga)

A bit of a mixed couple of weeks (12 days as I’m writing) doing a variety of different things.

Lots of gardening, lots of preparation for a series of small sculptures – nothing to show there yet – drawing, painting and so on.

Looking through Instagram, which I just rejoined, I came across #draweverydayinmay2020 run by ‘Marigold the Maker’ under the auspices of The Big Draw. Part of it is to use the additional hashtag #stillpointsketchingchallenge and place some creative limitations on your daily sketching. I decided to use Autodesk Sketchbook to produce all the drawings on my iPad, work between 9:00 am and 10:00 am each day and remain in my seat at the kitchen table.

painting of lemons

Teaching myself to paint

I also bought myself some boards, 5mm ply 25 cm square, to do some small paintings, just to keep my hand in. These lemons were started the same day I drew the two in the dish in the gallery.

I also applied for the Yorkshire Sculpture International Network 2020, which is a set of online meetings fortnightly from June until October where Each of the participating artists will be invited to contribute to developing the content of the network’s programme and to the research and development for the next Yorkshire Sculpture International festival. This programme will enable us to ensure we are building the future artists’ professional development in the most useful way for artists.” I should find out if I’m successful next week, I can’t imagine there will be many people my age applying.

ArtBomb Video  

Flickr Video

Art Bomb Video

I’m posting this again to remind myself, the arts group I did this with has done a zoom meeting with all the videos played, I wasn’t invited (or I missed the email?) I know it’s not great but it would have been nice to be asked.

Lockdown Continued… (notice the calmer Title Case)

The VR world from the geranium project on simmer – www.simmer.io/@IanLatham/the-geranium-project – takes 8 minutes and 7 seconds to load.

The latest WebGL build on my own website – www.ian-latham.com/geranium/build – takes 11 minutes and 39 seconds to load.

I’ve spent hours trying to work out how to make the things load more quickly but everything I try seems to make little or no difference.

I participated in an online event for the Doncaster New Fringe art group, a kind of delayed open studio evening in which artists film their work and upload the videos to a website. This is the video I made Art Bomb Video for Doncaster New Fringe I found some old 3d models I made for sculptures over a number of years and built a VR environment for them, I then made an awful video of my studio and me explaining what I’d done in fluent gibberish and placed that video inside the VR world. I recorded that through the computer and there you go.

Other than that this week has been a lot of gardening, building a greenhouse, and the endless frustration of Unity!

greenhouse

My New Greenhouse

I finally got the WebGL build down to 6 minutes and 17 seconds! Or at least below 7 minutes over several tries, the load bar doesn’t work properly though.

Studio Strike (Two weeks to leave)

Upstairs Studio Cleared

Upstairs Studio Cleared

The upstairs of the shop is now cleaner and emptier than when I moved in.

I’ll be leaving my studio next Wednesday, no prospect of a new one yet, everywhere is shutting up shop, and I’m hopeful my van driver will honour the contract. We live in interesting times.

Shop ready to empty

Shop ready to empty

So all of this is now here…

Stacked Garage

Stacked Garage

Apart from the bits that are here…

Attic Studio

Attic Studio

Ready to work in isolation!

For the sake of future reference ACE effectively canceled all the National Lottery Project Funding currently pending in order to create a support system for freelancers who are seriously compromised by the current closure of everywhere. So all my plans are on hold along with everyone else’s. What I’ve decided to work on now is a Web GL version of the VR world and see what I can do to finesse it.

Studio Strike (four weeks to leave)

I’ve got three weeks to pack up and leave the studio and, as these things do, it’s come at a time when there are other things to do. I’m losing two days for the Future Now conference in York (C-19 permitting) and two days with Barnsley College to help out and begin the NHS maquettes. I’ve also got to find a new place and I’m still working on developing new ideas and refining the geranium VR. This obviously calls for a diary, even if only because it will keep me focused on the things I need to do.

So the first thing is to take the studio apart and pack everything while I look for more space. The shop now looks like this…

One Days Tidying

One Days Tidying – Monday 9th March

I think I can pack everything up by the middle of next week, I’m in York on Thursday and Friday. On Monday I sent some emails, took down the exhibition and the walls for the workshop downstairs, and added more sounds and animations to the VR for geranium.

geranium_march_2020_medium from Ian Latham on Vimeo.

Also this morning, Tuesday, I got the acknowledgement of my next funding application to ACE, so I will find out if I’m successful at the same time as I give the keys back to Axisweb.

Wednesday Tidying

Installation Dismantled – Wednesday 11th March

Wednesday I took down the installation and started to disassemble the panels. I also took the opportunity to film the installation without a roof.

The first chance to see it with decent light.

Friday I finished the panels and started to pile everything up downstairs ready to move. Another day should see it done.

Upstairs Tidying

Installation Fully dismantled – Friday 13th March

Downstairs Friday

Downstairs Tidying – Friday 13th March

Leaving the Studio

I moved into my studio at 13 Scot Lane on February 6th last year, and last week I got notice to quit by April 4th. It has been a long lease for an Axisweb tenancy and very valuable to me. I got the ACE funding and completed the geranium project (R&D), so I have no complaints. I do have quite a headache though. I’ve three weks effectively to pack up and move just when I’m getting some interest in seeing the project from people who might think of showing it.

The shop the day I moved my gear in

Moving in Day 6th February 2019

I spent the week sorting out software licenses, meeting people to discuss possible exhibitions and planning for a project for the NHS in Barnsley. I really need to do some drawing!

I’ve got the Future Now conference at York St. John’s next week, Thursday and Friday, with a meetings with an ACE officer and a portfolio review. It was this time last year when I attended this conference and showed my work to Jane Bhoyroo from Yorkshire Sculpture International whose response convinced me of its viability and Denise Fahmy from ACE who gave me really valuable advice about making an application. Looking forward to hearing Cornelia Parker speak at this one.

Some links that are interesting and may potentially come up again in the next few months.

http://alittlepieceofland.org.uk/

https://access-space.org/

http://artspace.org.uk/

The Geranium Project (R&D) 34

This last week has been spent planning next steps and finessing parts of the VR. The video run through is below.

I had a few visitors, only one set I didn’t invite directly, who were uniformly enthusiastic about the work. I had another today who took the number who have tried the VR to 50. People remain as enthusiastic about the installation as they do about the VR.

Next steps are to make the physical presence more robust so that it can be moved for exhibition and get the piece out to new locations. All of this is of course subject to funding. The final report can be seen here http://www.ian-latham.com/geranium.html

 

The Geranium Project (R&D) 33

The Geranium Project (R&D) – Philosophy

A couple of weeks ago I was challenged to come up with a ‘philosophy’ for my work, an accounting of, or for, its place in the art world. Establishing this philosophy will make it easier for me to develop the work and easier for the work to be marketed (for want of a better word). I also understand that I need to try to place myself in the canon in order to help direct the work to the right curators, competitions and galleries. So this is an attempt to find my location.

Space in the imaginary of the Geranium Project

Making virtual reality artworks is presented as a new frontier where there are no maps and the viewer is faced with charting their own course, exploring in a way that suits them and exercising agency in the encounter. The difficulty with VR as a medium is precisely that it seeks to be ‘like being there’ and ‘there’ must be somewhere, real or imaginary. It is regarded as a manifestation of Plato’s Cave and we are reminded of hisi instruction to return to the shadows to educate our fellow men on the reality that they cannot see. The clarion call of this new technology is immersion and agency towards gesamtkunstwerkii, but it might equally be thought to be  “a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/ Signifying nothing.”iii As with any new tool there is a degree of evangelism inherent in its dissemination.

On a simple level Virtual Reality offers an opportunity to address the movement between transcendence and immanenceiv as consciousness moves between representations. In ‘the geranium project’ the photographic stands for the real (transcendent) object(s) and the drawn elements for the represented (immanent) objects. The environment presents as a field for the fulfilment of perception. The ‘player’ moves through the spaces, looking, listening, considering the changes encountered as they progress. As perceptions challenge the notion of existence the project is an exploration of the act of looking.

The act of “looking” is the foundation of any art work and is the immediate interface with the audience, and this is not in any way a radical viewpoint. The entirety of training in art is about looking in a way that breaks through the filters of perception that are accrued through living. VR offers an opportunity to present a work in a format that reduces the need to suspend disbelief as it tricks the brain into an assumption of presence. It must be noticed that this trick pales with repetition and is both less and more effective with people who play computer games. Any work using this expression has to be sure of the meaning of the perceived presence, in geranium that presence is centred on space.

Discussing the Chauvet Cave paintingsv John Berger remarks that

‘The thrust of an animal’s neck or the set of its mouth or the energy of its haunches were observed and recreated with a nervousness and control comparable to what we find in the works of a Fra Lippo Lippi, a Velázquez, or a Brancusi. Apparently art did not begin clumsily.[…] There was a grace from the start.’ vi

he argues that the difference between then and now is space, rather than finesse, the space, he states, ‘in which their images exist as images and were imaginedvii This connection between the space of the imagination and the physical space in which it is expressed is central to the thesis of the ‘geranium project’. Geranium’s space is composed of versions of a real space, a private space recreated in different conditions, and versions of that space reimagined as drawings and paintings by the artist. The ‘player ‘viii moves through the gardens from a cave like space within the artist’s studio, progressing from reality to reality through the imaginary a number of times during their immersion.

When entering a new space we are faced with a number of responses, curiosity, intrigue, anxiety, or perhaps even irritation. We spend our attention on the environment according to our preconceptions and our intentions within it, so that we may, if we have an appointment, search for signs and follow them trying to exclude distraction, or if we are there without purpose, or only to look, we linger over details allowing ourselves to be drawn into reveries. If this space is a museum we might aim for a studio or a particular collection or gallery, even a specific work, we might search for order, a chronology or stylistic guide to help us navigate, or we may just wander, a glimpse of colour or light catches our eye and we move towards it, spellbound. When the space is the artwork these same intentions direct us as entering a virtual space is essentially the same as entering a building.

The installation itself is experienced in both the physical and virtual worlds, it is a confined space, around two and a half metres at its widest and of a similar height, with illumination provided by a video projected onto a cloth at its end. The journey through the video is replicated in VR as the introduction to the garden spaces. The space has a soundtrack of birdsong that gradually gets louder with the interjection of thunder at some points as the audience passes. Additionally there is a representation of the birds from within the VR that can be viewed as Augmented Reality objects using an android app. The passage through the installation in its physical manifestation is replicated in the VR world as the player passes through (into) the video and enters the virtual garden.

Sartre suggested that imaginary objects are a “melange of past impressions and recent knowledge”ix and the virtual space in geranium explores this idea. The space is represented in a way that is clearly not intended to be ‘physical’ reality but is instead an ‘imagined’ reality requiring the same distance and suspension that we experience when we view a photograph. It is not the ‘thing’, but we accept a perception of it as the ‘thing’ without deep consideration (most of the time). Joseph Kosuth’s ‘One and Three Chairs ‘x is a more explicit expression of this kind of thinking. If we accept geranium as, on one level, a manifestation of conceptual space there are still questions of agency and intention within the space. Intention needs to be questioned from the viewpoints of the “player” and the viewpoint of the artist. Geranium presents itself as an exploration of the transcendent act of drawing, challenging the binary contrast with the immanent and the interpretation of the imaginary through the presentation of analogons as described by Sartrexi. The artist asks the player to view a translation, in the mind of the artist, of a photographic view of the garden into a garden rendered in a three dimensional representation of the garden as a drawing. The photographic garden is presented in three ways, playing with scale, weather conditions and intensity of observation, sparsely populated with birds that, upon closer inspection, are discarded drawings. Each of these spaces leads into a rendered garden presenting an interpretation of those differences. All of the spaces, photographic and drawn, are accompanied by a soundtrack of ambient garden noises with slight differences for each. The intention of the player is, hopefully, to explore. The idea of having any agency in relation to an artwork is difficult. On the one hand a work requires the application of imagination as well as the simple choice to engage or not. The structure of the work should coerce the operation of this agency in the audience.xii Against this the audience as ‘player’ in a VR work has to choose beyond this intial engagement and must exercise this agency within a tighter structure to fully realise the experience. In geranium’s gardens the audience choose their speed, and their direction as well as what they see. There are spots where they can stop to listen and there are places where they might find a secret.

Geranium explores the way engagement with all aspects of a space can be imagined and recreated as an immersive artwork.

Notes:

i Gill, N.S. “The Allegory of the Cave From the Republic of Plato.” ThoughtCo, Jan. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/the-allegory-of-the-cave-120330.

ivWhere an experienced, represented, and remembered object (e.g., a tree) is inside consciousness (immanent), whereas the real object itself is outside the mind (transcendent).

v Chauvet Cave (also known as Chauvet-Pont d’Arc) is currently the oldest known rock art site in the world, apparently dating to the Aurignacian period in France, about 30,000 to 32,000 years ago. Hirst, K. Kris. “Chauvet Cave.” ThoughtCo, Jan. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/chauvet-cave-france-170488.

vi Berger, J. 2015. The Chauvet Cave Painters (c 30,000 years BC). In: Overton, T ed. PORTRAITS John Berger on Artists. London: Verso, pp 1-6

vii Ibid p2

viiiThe term ‘player’ is used deliberately in the context of Virtual Reality, more active than ‘viewer’ whilst still, in effect, a witness.

ix Sartre, Jean-Paul,The Imaginary: A Phenomenological Psychology of the Imagination Translated by Jonathan Webber, (London and New York: Routledge, 2004)

xii In the social sciences there is a standing debate over the primacy of structure or agency in shaping human behaviour. Structure is the recurrent patterned arrangements which influence or limit the choices and opportunities available. Agencyis the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. The structure versus agency debate may be understood as an issue of socialization against autonomy in determining whether an individual acts as a free agent or in a manner dictated by social structure. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agency_%28sociology%29