The Geranium Project (R&D) 01

Geranium Project

Geranium Project

Preparation:

Spent Saturday modelling a third drawing, subsequently loaded it and the previous two into a model of the garden and started rendering. It took twenty hours to render 12 seconds of video and I then discovered that somehow, I’m blaming the cat, the camera view had changed to perspective in the render window halfway through. 6 seconds of movement followed by 6 seconds standing on the spot watching the shadows move in the sun.

So I have a 12 second lead in to the garden, or a tenth of the 5000 frames, after 20 hrs of rendering. As things stand this means I’ll need to render for more than eight days if I could run the machine around the clock!

The initial render does give an idea of the feel I’m going for, a drawing realised in 3d, which you’ll be able to walk through and navigate out of towards other drawings from other gardens.

Today, Monday, in the studio I painted the boards with a coat of emulsion to be able to start the big drawing on Wednesday.

I spent my Sunday run thinking about how the space works as a garden, questioning whether the space needs to less abstract, or more abstract, how the ‘stories’ get told, what kind of navigation leads to the most interesting interpretations.

As this is the first ‘official’ geranium project post, this is the summary of the accepted submission, the what I’m doing for the next nine months statement.

‘Geranium’ is a room, approximately 5mtrs by 4mtrs, that depicts a garden as a drawing and by projection onto one wall. The audience can explore the drawn surfaces which include text and interactive elements, watch the filmed garden where shadows drift across the lawn suggesting people, and listen to the birdsong and poetry playing in the space. The interactivity works in two ways, some elements are to be touched and will speak to you, some will spring to life when viewed through your smart phone or tablet as AR birds or animals running across the space. It is designed for any audience.

There is a purple or pink flower with five petals, it has long palmately cleft leaves that are broadly circular. Drifts of these used to grow in my mother’s garden and in my own garden now, and I’ve always loved them. For a long time I’ve had a blind spot about the name, when I see the flowers I’m suddenly at a loss but when I can’t see them I can remember. It has reached the point where my wife refuses to tell me what they’re called. This is why the project is called geranium, after this lethologica (an inability to remember a particular word) I’ve suffered from for a number of years. I have wanted to create a space that tells a story since I completed my MA in 2005 and became fascinated with non linear narratives or stories that can be navigated by the audience. My intention is that encountering this space, listening to the poems and hearing snatches of the narrative offers one or two clues that can be explored through an online space or using virtual reality. I see the project as an opportunity to find out how to best present the idea to an audience and to use that initial audience to help refine the experience so that it becomes coherent and strong enough for exhibition.

Starting here!

Wednesday, after emptying buckets full of water from the now (hopefully) repaired leaking roof, was all about reassembling the installation. I decided it would be better to draw the interior with the guide of a projection of the virtual garden.

As a result there is very little to show. The installation needed some strengthening to stand up straight and I should build a stronger roof!

reassembled installation

reassembled installation

It took me all of Friday morning to put a roof on the installation so I could see the new video. I need to build a solid ceiling for the space.

I then spent the afternoon working on the new drawing for the walls. In the end grabbing the bull by the horns is the best way, or in this case grabbing the graphite powder with the rubber gloves (second coat). The piece is underway, but…

New Installation Drawing

New Installation Drawing

New Installation Drawing

New Installation Drawing

New Installation Drawing

New Installation Drawing

I then had an email exchange about moving to a new studio! I’m picking the keys up next week and will then need to dismantle the installation and pack up to move the week after.

The video, by the way, runs to 27 seconds now, 55 hours of rendering, and it needs doing again as I notice parts I have to change.

NEW STUDIO Week Fourteen

Continuing with drawing this week, and having to concentrate on the 3d model because of the poorly cat.

six new drawings started

On Monday I started six new drawings, these had white emulsion painted on the 17th (Friday) and were added to on Monday.

Garden Drawing 20/05/19

Also began this drawing on four sheets of A1 cartridge. It harks back, as I realised afterwards, to the ladybird drawings I did an age ago –

http://www.ian-latham.com/blog/2015/08/08/ladybird/

http://www.ian-latham.com/blog/2015/08/15/ladybird-2/

http://www.ian-latham.com/blog/2015/11/28/ladybird-2-finished-in-so-far-as/

All of these drawings are trying to find a way to realise the 3d model as projection and environment for the installation.

sketch notes 20/05/19

I thought it was worth including a picture of a sketchbook page with reflections of the day’s activities. I often write in the sketchbook or my diary to record the way I’m thinking, not really to hold on to it but more to be able to see how my thinking has changed through the process.

drawings continued

On Wednesday I continued working on the drawings from Monday, for some reason I didn’t photograph one of them and I can’t remember why. Wednesday was split up by a visit to a potential new studio in the morning, it has twenty rooms including a small hall/gym and a roof terrace and is just around the corner from where I am now. In the afternoon I had a visit from the architects for the potential buyers who spent two hours measuring for drawings so I’m on borrowed time at the minute.

Wednesday Sketchbook

I started to pick up the elements from the six drawings in the sketchbook and then developed three new ones from the bottom right sketch.

three new drawings

On Friday, as I couldn’t get in to the studio I made a model of the middle drawing.

There are also two new garden videos ready for project with a more robust model integrated as a walkthrough but I’m dissatisfied with the experience as it lacks the quality of the drawings.

NEW STUDIO Week Eleven

This week was one of those that feels unproductive and somewhat pointless. Again I was not entirely idle but I didn’t feel as driven as normal. The tell tale sign of this when the small stuff starts to be annoying, the floor needs cleaning, the table is untidy etc., things that I don’t notice when I’m in the flow.

Sketchbook 1st May

Sketchbook 1st May

I continued with the sketchbook work, looking for solutions to the 3d modelling conundrum which has occupied most of my thoughts in the last couple of weeks. I also started the next big drawing and worked on the ‘go,go,go,…’ sculpture.

Go, Go, Go, said the bird

Go, Go, Go, said the bird

Drawing in progress 01/05

Drawing in progress 01/05

The above were all made or modified at the start of the week.

At the end of the week I built a rig for slicing bottles for another piece I’m working on.

Dremel jig

Dremel jig

This allows me to use my Dremel with a diamond blade to cut a mayonnaise jar, it’s a slow process by this method though it does the job and I don’t have the facilities to use the ice water method.

 

NEW STUDIO Week Ten

Starting with the Easter Bank Holiday this week was truncated. I’d not been in the studio for six days when I arrived on Thursday morning. That’s not to say I’d been entirely idle, besides working on the 3d model for the garden film I’d done some sketches in the garden.

Sketchbook 20th April

Sketchbook 20th April

These are looking for the marks that make the garden and also have notes that point towards the solutions for the models.

When I did get into the studio I moved the screen out into the space and started a new sculpture.

Garden Screen

Garden Screen

The new sculpture ‘go,go,go, said the bird’ is one I started when I first moved in but put to one side.

'go, go, go, said the bird'

‘go, go, go, said the bird’

In common with a lot of the things I’m building this is made from furniture left behind by the previous tenant.

On Friday I painted it white.

'go, go, go, said the bird'

‘go, go, go, said the bird’

Ready to be drawn onto when it’s dry, and then made some sketches towards the newest big drawing.

sketchbook 26th April

sketchbook 26th April

The rest of the day was spent tidying and cleaning off the whiteboards that were left behind.

NEW STUDIO Week Nine: Easter Egg Hunt

This week began badly, Monday felt like an awful day, one of this where you feel as if nothing is going right without being able to put your finger on what’s wrong.

Rendering the Garden

Rendering the Garden

I took my laptop to the shop to render out some new video while I was working on other stuff. I am encouraged by the idea of what I’m making on the computer and by where it might fit in the overall vision of geranium, but I’m not happy with what I have made yet. The idea is to have the video fade into a drawing that walks you around the garden and then fade back.

I also decided I needed to move ‘Snow Line’ so I broke it, I think this is what put me off the day, I knew I needed to move it and when I moved it was obviously too fragile so I discovered I had to break it. It did help me resolve the top piece that I was unhappy with though.

Snow Line Broken

Snow Line Broken

I also stripped out some of the underside and applied a new coat of blue and made a fillet for the top section that is ripped out which will also be blue.

Screen First Coat

Screen First Coat

and the other side

and the other side

Wednesday was a better day, although still punctuated with the rendering struggles. I continued to paint the screen, hung the drawing and stretched some new paper and fixed the blue fillet into ‘Snow Line’

Snow Line - Compass Points - 17 04 2019

Snow Line – Compass Points – 17 04 2019

The base, added Monday, is deliberate.

Screen Painting Wednesday

Screen Painting Wednesday

and the other side

and the other side

The screen has two sides now, and is progressing.

Garden Drawing

Garden Drawing

The drawing hung upstairs.

I also thought I could use a small desk at the front of the shop so I reclaimed some wood and made one.

Desk

Desk

On Friday, Good Friday, I didn’t get to the studio as I was preparing for the weekend. I did re-submit my Project application to ACE, and I made a sign for Monday!

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt

NEW STUDIO Week Eight

This week started with hanging the rest of the collage drawings, cleaning the inside of the windows and putting up a poster or two in the window.

Window View Monday 8th April

Window View Monday 8th April

There are 30 drawings up now and five sculptures counting the Snow Line piece which is very much in progress. I’ve adopted a deliberately temporary aesthetic and named the show as work in progress. The back gate was open again this morning, I’m told the place is used by addicts who must climb the gates to get in at night. So far they haven’t managed to get into the shop although I have been told that they have broken in before. Fingers crossed I don’t lose anything I can’t afford to replace.

Three Collage Drawings by the door

Three Collage Drawings by the door

These three drawings are right inside the door.

The shop does tend to get the sun straight onto the front window through the afternoon which means you can’t see much from outside. The last thing I did today, Monday, was put a coat of paint on Snow Line.

Snow Line white coat

Snow Line white coat

Midweek I tweeted that the ‘shop’ was open for people to come and visit. Needless to say I’ve had no visitors since! never mind. I worked on ‘snow line’ on Wednesday.

snow line clockwise compass points

snow line clockwise compass points

I’m three quarters of the way to being happy with it, it needs something on the underside, I’m thinking blue(?). I’m also unhappy with the top section and the cloth gathering at the top, Not sure why yet. The piece demands to be left alone in its unfinished state until it tells me what to do. That could be anything from tearing the top section out and rebuilding to completely dismantling the piece and starting again. It could also be that this piece is not ‘snow line’ at all, it does seem to be a development of the ‘Ptolemy’s Garden’ set and might decide that it sits there more comfortably.

The best way to leave a piece alone is to work on something else, so I put together the first of the screen pieces that I built maquettes for upstairs. Cleaning, fixing and sanding took the rest of Wednesday and it should be dry enough to paint on Friday.

Screen cleaned and sanded

Screen cleaned and sanded

Friday 12th April – People are reluctant to come into the shop, which is just as well as far as work is concerned and keeping the door locked doesn’t necessarily encourage them. I do have a bell and a helpful sign pointing to it, it’s by the door handle. It does allow me to work uninterrupted though, so that’s a bonus. I ran into another Doncaster artist on Wednesday who has a studio in the corn exchange who told me that it was an OK space but people did keep coming around and disturbing him for no particular reason.

I put two coats of paint on the first screen, it now looks like this.

Screen with two coats of white

Screen with two coats of white

The plastic finish makes the paint difficult to apply, hence the sanding, so it might need another coat. It has an interesting surface as it is though so we’ll see on Monday whether it needs another coat.

Between coats I worked on the big drawing.

drawing early Friday

drawing early Friday

Initially adding the branches and foliage to the left, then filling in some of the background.

drawing later Friday

drawing later Friday

I don’t know if it’s finished, it may end up as the base for several smaller drawings or another big one. The additions were made with charcoal, oilstick and grey pastel.

The last thing I did this week was add the blue I talked about on the underside of snow line.

I like the look of the gallery space at the moment, some shots below.

Gallery 12 04 2019

Gallery 12 04 2019

Gallery 12 04 2019

Gallery 12 04 2019

Gallery 12 04 2019

Gallery 12 04 2019

 

NEW STUDIO Week Seven

Spent Monday preparing the plinths. I decided that I wanted to keep them very basic as it’s all work in progress so I only painted a section at the top. Installed some of them on Wednesday…

Shop April 3rd

Shop April 3rd

Shop April 3rd

Shop April 3rd

here are the three from the Wheatley Hall Road studio and the two maquettes for the screens that will be built from the shelves here. The new one at the back, or the mostly new one, is called ‘snow line’ based on Dream Song 28 which is one of the saddest things I’ve ever read.

The piece is being built around the armature I built at the last studio and is clad in the flooring the last tenant ripped out of the first floor of this studio.

Snow Line

Snow Line

On Friday I took the forty one Garden Collage drawings from the Ptolemy’s Garden series to the shop.

Shop April 5th

Shop April 5th

The idea is to display as many as possible alongside the sculptures I’m building in the space. I think I can get 30 of them around the room and up the stairs without too much fuss. Everything takes longer than you think it will. I’d originally decided to use a steel wire along the wall and hang the drawings from it using bulldog clips. I want to keep the ‘in progress’ aesthetic, implying a constant state of flux. That’s why I’m building in the space as well.

Shop April 5th

Shop April 5th

You can some work on ‘snow line’ at the back but a better view is provided on the video

I also revisited an old film piece and ripped the sound to add to a track for the installation. The film now runs through the interlaced Burnt Norton/Tithonus poem, into a piece called stations which uses some overheard comments and a few half memories to suggest something of a reverie and then into the short poem paraphrasing the first piece. I will post sections when I’ve edited it to be small enough to upload.

NEW STUDIO Week Six

Monday 25th March.

Started the day by filming the installation with a tripod and adjusting the lighting in the camera. It’s not an expensive camera so the quality doesn’t improve much but it gives a better idea of the space. The videos are very big so I’ve put them on Vimeo.

Vimeo MVI_3310 https://vimeo.com/326652463  6 minutes – Eliot/Tennyson

Vimeo MVI_3311 https://vimeo.com/326652287 3 minutes – summary poem.

rudimentary plinths for shop space

rudimentary plinths for shop space

Subsequently spent time downstairs checking out the lights, the sockets are are working fine but I need a couple of dozen new bulbs, and making some simple plinths to stand the five sculptures I’ve got there so far. Two are put together so far but need painting. The aim is to be able to open the big window shutter by next Friday.

This Wednesday was spent out of the studio doing a spot of teaching. I also spent a full day on an ACE application – got to keep trying – and planning for a potential commission.

‘How I look at sculpture (the same way that I make it?)’

some thoughts about making and looking

The Yorkshire Sculpture International takes place in June 2019 in four venues and across two cities, Leeds and Wakefield. Each of the venues is interpreting a ‘provocation’ by Phyllida Barlow – “sculpture is the most anthropological of the artforms”. At the Aesthetica Future Now symposium – 7th and 8th March 2019 – Jane Bhoyroo, Producer of YSI, delivered a session in which she referred to the Hepworth Wakefield concentrating on ‘Material Literacy’ in their interpretation.

At the symposium I had a portfolio review with Bhoyroo in which I showed photographs of some of my sculptures – the Ptolemy’s Garden series [link to gallery, put a picture in!] – that are made from used or waste materials. In this case an old bathroom floor and a randomly torn and re-purposed set of drawings. During this review I was confronted with the need to explain the gestation of the sculpture, which inevitably led to talking about the materials they are constructed from. In this case the connection between the source of the material and the finished work is quite clear, they are built, in part, from flooring removed from the bathroom which is broken and used to represent views of the garden. The cat, Ptolemy, is present as part of the material, as are myself and my wife, having walked on and interacted with the flooring and also as a memory alluded to in the representation.

Ptolemy's Garden 1

Ptolemy’s Garden 1

It strikes me that there are a series of questions asked consciously or unconsciously when contemplating a sculpture, does it represent, how does it occupy space, what does it feel like, does it have a front view, should you be inside it or more distant from it? Does it want you to touch it, and do you want to touch it? Does it confront or invite? Should these questions be asked and perhaps answered before any sense of meaning is addressed, or is meaning inevitably a precursor to, or at least concurrent with the approach to the object? Essentially the language we use parses from Pestalozzi’s schools through Elizabeth Mayo’s Lessons on Objects to the Bauhaus courses of Moholy-Nagy. We are asked to learn the formal elements of art through experiential encounters with materials and through analysis of these encounters develop a language to describe them.

I continually question myself about these resonances in the things I make. Whilst they are obviously necessary in the making of the object are they at all significant in the understanding of the object for the audience? Is too much explanation an attempt to cover a weakness in the work and/or does it add to the viewers appreciation of it? Given that the work is addressing a memory that is specifically mine, does revealing this disavow a more personal response, a different evocation, from a viewer?

Three Graces Hexthorpe 2012

Three Graces Hexthorpe 2012

Ann-Sophie Lehmann quotes Moholy Nagy in her 2017 essay in Bauhaus Zeitschrift – ‘Material Literacy’

Everyone is equipped by nature to receive and to assimilate sensory experiences. Everyone is sensitive to tones and colours, everyone has a sure ‘touch’ and space reactions, and so on. This means that everyone by nature is able to participate in all the pleasures of sensory experience, that any healthy man can become a musician, painter, sculptor, or architect, just as when he speaks, he is ‘a speaker.’ That is, he can give form to his reactions in any material.”

she goes on to state that ‘this quote summarizes the core of László Moholy Nagy’s seminal book Von Material zu Architektur. Published in 1929 in the Bauhaus series and translated with revisions into English as The New Vision a couple of years later .Lehmann, A. 2017. Material Literacy. Bauhaus Zeitschrift . Nr 9 (“Substance”), pp. 20-27

She suggests there is ‘…a collective urge to grasp— intellectually and physically—the substances of which this world and the things within it are made. This urge is channelled into a call for material literacy, a term that denotes a broad sensitivity to materials and their diverse meanings. Lehmann (2017)

Starting with this need to think and to feel the things the world is made of, sculpture should thus be designed to be touched intellectually and physically, rendering it at least transient if not ephemeral. [There is an aside here about curating ‘experiences’ rather than exhibitions and the development of “relational aesthetics”i in driving cultural experiences.]

Lehmann discusses the tangibility of materials bent to a purpose through the design process in line with Moholy-Nagy’s Bauhaus course which ‘created a unifying experience through the exploration of materials. The interaction with a wide variety of materials— wood, glass, metal, wool, paper, etc.—enabled students indeed to ‘form experience in any material’ and resulted in countless Materialstudien (material studies), only a couple of which survived.’ She goes on to state that ‘Moholy-Nagy’s manifesto-like style reads like a blueprint for contemporary discourses on sustainability and their inherent intentions to change the world for the better. This ideal (prone to abduction by commercial interests) often resurfaces when materials are at stake. Materials, of course, are always at stake, because everything in and around us is material.’ Lehmann (2017)

Three Sculptures 2004

My inarticulacy around making is apparent and it has taken me a couple of weeks to write this vague and erratic text, but this lack in and of itself reflects the way that I make things. Thoughts piled over thoughts, things read and interpreted, understood or misunderstood, reflection, rejection and grudging acceptance delivered through attempts to control media, to overcome perceived limitations it has and then to backtrack and accept the way the material asserts itself despite my efforts to control it. I appreciate the practice that suggests you develop understanding of the material, learn to work with it and build something in concert with it, but I find myself consistently engaged in a battle with all sorts of forces that eventually ends in an exhausted acquiescence.

Bibliography

Young , A. 2013. Material Wisdom. Cabinet. (50),pp. 16-18

Lehmann, A. (2016). Cube of Wood. Material Literacy for Art History..

i“Relational aesthetics” is a term coined by curator Nicolas Bourriaud for the exhibition “Traffic,” held at the CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux in 1996. It refers to installations and interactive events designed to facilitate community among participants (both artists and viewers). Rather than producing objects for individual aesthetic contemplation, Relational artists attempt to produce new human relationships through collective experiences. Artspace editors. 2016. What Is Relational Aesthetics? Here’s How Hanging Out, Eating Dinner, and Feeling Awkward Became Art. [Online]. [10 March 2019]. Available from: http://www.artspace.com/magazine/art_101/what-is-relational-aesthetics

NEW STUDIO Week Five (with a break!)

After my last studio post I went to the Future Now conference – posted here  – and then for a walking holiday in Derbyshire. So this is officially week 5, and week 6 if we’re counting days.

My first day back was a bit of a farce, I put the installation back together and then decided to put a door on the shop wall so that I could close the whole back of the space off. I then got an email telling me that the agent was bringing a prospective purchaser around so I had to take the installation apart again. When they had gone and I had finished the door I put the installation back together again.

Shop Floor 21/03/19

Shop Floor 21/03/19

The door is the lighter hardboard on the left of this picture. The main consideration was that it closes off the painted section of the wall so that it looks better.

I have been working on the sound and been diverted into text, based on the TS Eliot – Burnt Norton stanzas I used on the walls, I looked to emphasise the nostalgic aspects of the verse by combining it with Tennyson’s ‘Tithonus’ . I decided to interleave lines of the verses, playing around with them a little, to break up the meaning of the poems.

The video has a section of this recording overlaid onto birdsong. The recording is not as good as I want, because of my nasal midlands accent that I can only hear on recordings and the quality of sound on my camera. The lighting is also not correct, I had to brighten the video after recording so the quality suffers.

I also worked on a distillation of the texts into something shorter and more individual. My idea is to create something of my own that I can use instead of the ‘found’ text.

The same caveats apply to the recording.

I have also begun to work on new sculptures and rescued the ripped up flooring of the first floor studio to make some new work with.