The Geranium Project (R&D) 04

The week started with some work on the latest big drawing.

Big July Drawing

Still work to do, the greys need to go back a bit and the top right ‘v’ needs more definition, the balancing wedge on the left needs less definition. I think the bars in the bottom right need separating as well.

I did some work on some smaller drawings too, but not with any great sense of direction so they may well be used as collage very soon.

June/July Drawing

The big action this week though has been resolving the studio and investing in some kit. You are constantly weighing up future developments against current availability with VR kit. As I write HTC are a few months (or so) away from launching the Cosmos, which may or may not completely replace the Vive. There is no indication of cost yet. The alternatives are a Rift s, still a slight resolution issue according to reviews although that gap is narrowing and the Valve Index at £900.00

In the end, weighing everything up as far as I could, I went for the Vive and a PC powerful enough to run it.

After buying the kit I need I’ve then spent several hours installing before I can operate it properly. This has involved several hours reading forums and faqs about the issues I’ve faced as I installed and led me to thinking about the way the art can be dragged into being about the technology rather than the ideas. So time for a reality check and a list/timetable.

I’m aiming for a semi official launch at the Doncaster Crawl on the evening of July 23rd. After this, early August, I’m looking to bring the 3d modelled drawings into the virtual space and work on refining that aspect of the project. The first test run of a full public outing will be in September, preferably early, and then again in November/December after considering and reacting to the feedback at that event and from Iain, Wayne and Mike. Repeat this before an event in January/February to test the final(?) version and then prepare a report and spec the installation for proper display.

The big issue is turning the drawings into 3d and developing the (implied) narrative.

This blog covers two weeks as I’ve been away for a week.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 03

Studio View

Studio view 24th June 2019 – tidied for meetings.

This weeks starting question – Is the urge to tidy up when faced with a blank mind a symptom of age? Is having a blank mind a symptom of age? Probably worth acknowledging at this juncture that my idea of tidy may not have a very wide currency.

I visited the new studio today but it’s a building site. I was told that they were stripping out inessential fittings, like the intranet wiring and some shelving, and I should be able to move in. I’d need a hard hat and breathing apparatus to be able to move in as it stands so now I’m fingers crossed for the place to be clear by Friday so I can move next week – otherwise I’ll need to do some quick thinking. I contacted my usual van driver about the move but he no longer has a van so I’m already at the mercy of strangers which increases the effort involved.

This week I’ve got three meetings that will largely determine the timetable for the project over the next nine months, hopefully starting with an informal launch at Doncaster’s Culture Crawl on 23rd July.

1819 pair_four_blog

I organised some of the drawings in the gallery to pair the originals, made last summer, with the new ones made in the last month or two. Each original drawing, which has a collage element, – http://www.ian-latham.com/blog/gallery/paired-drawings-2018-2019/ – is copied to a small sketch and then taken to the upstairs studio and reinterpreted as a pure drawing. It’s interesting to put them together to see how closely they match or quite how far apart they’ve grown.

Wednesday had a meeting with Wayne Sables http://www.waynesablesproject.co.uk/ who is going to give feedback on aspects of production and presentation as well as, with my other collaborators, engaging in discussions about the installation as it progresses. This is what the ACE funding covers, paying for the time of experienced collaborators who can challenge the work as it progresses.

Studio Corner

I also stuck up some of the newer drawings to keep the place from seeming empty, even though I expect to be moving, and began a big version of one of them.

Drawings June 26th

Large Drawing in Progress

Friday ended up being a day of meetings and a visit to the new studio – which now won’t be the new studio. The building is being turned into apartments and all but two rooms are inaccessible.

I met with Mike Stubbs, https://www.mikestubbsart.com/ who is a collaborator/mentor for the installation and Iain Nicholls, http://iain-nicholls.com/ who is specifically helping out with the VR portion of the project.

The week leaves me with a lot of possibilities for the installation going forward – we discussed form, location, looking behind you, the way you are guided through space, the outward appearance of the space and much more. One of my major headaches is going to be holding a firm grip of what I want to achieve during the discussions I have.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 02

New Installation Drawing in progress

New Installation Drawing in progress

Three wall view of the new installation drawing.

Another week effectively lost because of extraneous factors – as much as you might plan for breaks for a variety of reasons, they have a habit of arriving at the most inopportune moments. This week a planned break to visit family clashed with the need to organise moving studios and with the progress of the installation which gains an extra patina of angst due to the ACE funding. The fact that the project is financially supported makes it obviously more important that it progresses and succeeds. The funding was paid into my account this week which makes the thing real.

So I only really got to work on Friday and moved the drawing on as illustrated.

I re-read ‘The Myth of Wu Tao-Tzu’ this week, Sven Lindqvist discusses the morality of seeking to live in art and his own efforts to do so and awakening to the retreat it represents. In the preface to the first English translation, published in 2012, Lindqvist talks about ways he has witnessed this imaginative leap, in Australian Aboriginal art for instance where the pictures are maps of territories that cross the boundaries of physical and spiritual and of his own experience of Fiona Banner and David Kohn’s ‘A Room for London’, a boat atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall. He recognises that “Wu Tao-Tzu had the courage for solitude[…]He had the courage to disappear and continue alone, on the other side of the visible in art.”

the other side of the visible in art.

I had a visitor a week or so ago who suggested that if your work is not about the imminent threat of our climate emergency then what’s the point of it? Lindqvist comes to much the same conclusion, and presents the same lack of hope.

A mental picture of the space;

The Garden is not a copy, or a description, is it an equivalence (obs.)

You walk in the space. There is a path through the space. There is an apparently impenetrable wall around the space but on closer inspection there are gaps. Any hole in the fence takes you to another world (.wrl sense). Through one gap you enter a vast field, at a distance is an object, you can go to it and see that it is a framework of right angles with an ordered tube curving through it. There is nothing else in this space. Yet.

I have not found a way to make roses, yet.

There is the sound of birds singing some distance away.

In the garden a bird hops from one fencepost to the next fencepost.

A cat crosses the garden, curls up under a tree, slows its breathing and disappears.

If you are here long enough you will the cat will reappear, uncurl and walk slowly out the garden. You may follow.

A bird perches on the fence, a female blackbird, she calls shrugging her wings and tail. The call is echoed from a shortening distance.

It would be good to have a secret superimposition of the real and virtual spaces – there are three spaces – REAL – INSTALLATION – VIRTUAL.

Can (shall) I play the sound from the real garden live in the installation?

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 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 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.

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.

NEW STUDIO Week Three (and Four)

Recap:

First saw the shop on January 25th and picked up keys the same day. Heard from Axisweb on Monday 28th that I couldn’t go in yet as the landlord hadn’t given permission. By the Wednesday 1st February the agent was saying I should just move in as the contract was a formality, so I started to tidy up. On Wednesday the 6th February I moved out of the Unit at Wheatley Hall Road and into 13 Scot Lane and began to reassemble the environment. I finished that and wrote about it in the last blog post. Since then I’ve spent most of my time cleaning. I’ve hoovered for at least two hours of three different days, spent a day washing the walls of dry food and fat and mould, and then hoovered again, and finally, yesterday February 25th, hoovered the upstairs. In an ideal world I’d have been in a position to try out different soundtracks and videos for the installation but I heard yesterday that the landlord was sending someone to do a valuation survey which meant removing the back of the installation to allow access to the upstairs that I’d blocked off. It also means that I might well be moving again if this is a valuation for a buyer. The valuer turned up at 1:00 pm today and spent half an hour measuring and taking notes. I’ve no idea whether there is a buyer or not. At the same time the landlord has offered to remove all the rubbish left by the last tenant with the proviso that anything I decide to use I move when I go.

Looking into shop 25/02/19

Looking into shop 25/02/19

So the shop floor looks like this after Monday – from the window, and like the below looking from the back.

Looking to window 25/02/19

Looking to window 25/02/19

There is still no contract and I’ve got the only keys apparently!

As I was waiting I started work on a new sculpture today, making use sets of shelves that have been left. There are four sets of four shelves each supported by welded steel frames. I made scale models this morning to begin to explore possible uses of sixteen slabs measuring 1700 mm x 210 mm x 25 mm.

Two maquettes 26/02/19

Two maquettes 26/02/19

They will be landscape based drawings I think.

John Berger says that ‘it is the actual act of drawing that forces the artist to look at the object in front of him, to dissect it in his mind’s eye and put it together again; or, if he is drawing from memory, that forces him to dredge his own mind, to discover the content of his own store of past observations’ 1 Deciding a direction for work functions in precisely this way for me, the repository of past observations is composed of times, places, drawings, conversations that form a series of stepping stones that carry me across to the finished work, if you’ll forgive my theft of Berger’s metaphor immediately after this quote. This points to both the reason the environment is not finished and the state it will be in at that point that most closely matches its finish. Essentially it is pursuing something in the manner of T.S.Eliot in Burnt Norton.

‘Go said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,

Hidden excitedly, containing laughter,

Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind

Cannot bear very much reality’

Albeit inadequately, this is as close as I can get to the meaning of the installation, perhaps I might get a little closer if this is crossed with lethologica2 or onomatomania3.

Purely by chance my last day in the studio this week is the last day of the month. The aim for today was to receive delivery of the materials for the downstairs dividing wall and build it. The delivery was late so I worked in the sketchbooks, I’m still trying to resolve a look for the garden images – the environment in its current state is somehow too literal. The drawings are developments of earlier sketches.

Rag paper sketch 28/02/19

Rag paper sketch 28/02/19

cartridge sketch 28/02/19

cartridge sketch 28/02/19

Once the materials were delivered It took the rest of the day to build the wall, about two and a half hours.

Looking into Shop 28/02/19

Looking into Shop 28/02/19

The wall is moveable, supported by braces at the rear.

Its main function is to contain the workshop and the sawdust etc., generated by making.

back of the wall with brace 28/02

back of the wall with brace 28/02

workshop area

workshop area

The wall, not including time, cost £76.00 and £18.00 of that was delivery.

1Berger, J. 2016. The Basis of All Painting and Sculpture is Drawing. In: Overton, T ed. LANDSCAPES John Berger on Art. England: Verso, pp. 27

2 The inability to remember a particular word or name. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/lethologica

3 An abnormal concentration on certain words and their supposed significance or on the effort to recall a particular word. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/onomatomania

NEW STUDIO – Week Two

This week has been about catching the installation back up to where I was at the Wheatley studio.

On Monday I had to finish building the space, which took the morning, and then thread the fishing line and hang the leaves, leaving me at this point by the end of the day.

From the video and the picture below you can see I had to build myself a rudimentary ladder to access the top of the boards.

Build your own ladder

Build your own ladder

On Wednesday I got notification that I’m almost official to move in. The agent says the forms should be across to Axisweb soon.

Shadow from projection, inside the space

Shadow from projection, inside the space

As you can see I got the ceiling on the space and set up the speakers and projector. The space presents some profound differences to the Industrial Unit, it’s a lot darker for instance.

This clearly presents problems with the painted space and the degree of visibility required to read its intention.

A view inside the space, lit by the projector

A view inside the space, lit by the projector

The video inevitably, for one as inexpert as me, appears darker than the eye. The photograph gives a better idea of the look of the space. By the end of the day this was the position.

So Friday was about finessing the space and continuing to tidy up downstairs.

Upstairs room with the installation in place

Upstairs room with the installation in place

Even darker with the roof stapled down and the webcam moved to give a better view of the door.

In the afternoon I spent two and a half hours hoovering the shop.

Shop floor view from the window

Shop floor view from the window

It looks much more acceptable now, although I wouldn’t be happy with it if I lived there.

Shop floor view towards the window

Shop floor view towards the window

At the moment I’m thinking of a workshop space at the back and an exhibition space at the front.