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 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 Twelve

NEW STUDIO Week Twelve

Coming to the end of three months in the shop, and looking like the end might be near – A contractor is looking around the property on Monday. It’s time to take stock of progress and in particular to examine where I am as an artist after retirement.

The shop looks like a gallery and I’ve had a few visitors, enough to mean I need to order some new cards, that have been very complementary. On the other hand I’m a six foot skinhead in overalls and steel toecaps so who wouldn’t be. Nothing is translating to sales but that’s never been the purpose, I don’t have a catalogue or pricelist (add to the to-do list) and the shop signage as yet is tiny. I’m in that mid grant application limbo where my intellectual energies are pointing me at things I can’t develop lest I start the thing I’ve applied for funding for and thus invalidate my application. It remains inordinately difficult to apply for funding as a practice led artist as you don’t know what you’re going to do until you do it. The ‘studio’ space of the shop looks like it’s working, plenty of space and I’m continually refining the way I use it.

As well as tidying up and maintaining equipment I started this week working on the computer – I’ll write a separate post to describe that work – and continued in the sketchbook on Wednesday.

Sketchbook images from 8th May

Sketchbook images from 8th May

I came up with a brief catalogue introduction for the Ptolemy’s Garden, work in progress exhibition.

Ptolemy’s Garden is a set of drawings and sculptures made from old flooring and drawings of gardens where I’ve buried cats over the last thirty years. Ptolemy walked down the garden one day as a kitten and stayed for a few years. He is buried here in these works as much he’s buried in Balby alongside Kelpie and Coco, or in Warmsworth next to Pliskie and Poppy, or in Sherburn in Elmet next to Polly.

I use the materials I find, ideally I like waste material that has had a previous life and breaks unpredictably. The material stops me from over directing the sculptures as the process grows towards resolution.

I collect the detritus of living, scraps randomly encountered, reflecting the memories I carry. I ascribe my deepest feelings to insignificant mementos and nostalgia orchestrates my future and my present.

Thursday I couldn’t face another day frustrated at the computer so I did some drawing, starting a set of collages from old sculpture sketches.

Nine A1 collages

Nine A1 collages May 2019

There are ten started, an individual one is below.

Thursday Collage in progress

Thursday collage in progress

On Friday I continued drawing, in the sketchbook again, then on A1 sheets.

Friday Sketchbook

Friday Sketchbook

 

Three drawings in progress

another three drawings in progress

yet another three drawings in progress

And finally did a small amount on the big garden drawing.

Large Garden May 2019

 

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