Archive for August, 2007

Moot Icon Pt. 2

Posted in art, Uncategorized on August 30, 2007 by artbizness

Aren't blue LEDs lovely?

Meh heh heh…

Oh yeh.

I did actually put the LEDs on temporarily the last time I was in the studio, but I wanted to surprise you. I’ve taped them on a bit better now – with a lot more of it. Making a feature of the gaffer tape also adds to the feel of it, I think.

Apparently there’s something about twinkling lights that encourages people to spiritual visions. I’m sure that Richard Dawkins would suggest that its all part of the way the human brain has evolved, and that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about God, yadda yadda… But there you go. It is what it is, and I’m happy to go with it for the moment.

Since I was last in the studio, the black electrician’s tape has come away from the wood a little bit. I’m slightly concerned, as I don’t want this to keep happening every time. It might just be the damp air – my studio has a lot of moisture in the air, which has lead to all sorts of problems in the past – and its impossible to heat it up sufficiently to deal with the problem.

I like the idea that the icon could look like a piece of wood found on a building side – with boot-prints all over it, coffee mug stains, etc. There’s something about the urban-ness of it that suits moot‘s ethos. The burntness is part of that. I don’t know how to depict the table, wine-glass or bread in that vein, though.

With chewing gum, maybe.

More photos will be added as the piece changes and is worked on.

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Sacred

Posted in art, general, Shows I've reviewed on August 29, 2007 by artbizness

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I went to the “Sacred” exhibition at the British Library in North London today. The show is basically an exhibition of Christian, Jewish and Islamic texts alongside each other.

Its a nice idea that puts together the 3 warring Abrahamic faiths, and you can see visually how similar the traditions are without needing to understand a word of Arabic, Hebrew or English. It was a great chance to see some really early manuscripts, and get a sense of touching history. Texts that are so close to the source of faith.

It seems to me, that broadly, the older and simple the texts were, the more of God seemed to shine through. I think the lesson is that its tempting to think that opulence and verbosity are no less than the deity deserve – that we can somehow communicate or apprehend God by being garrulous – but actually, for me God shines through the simplicity of the Kufic Moroccan Qu’ran in a way that is out of this world.

Funnily enough, it was the Islamic texts that (visually) allowed God to flow out more than any other. The Islamic prohibition on the use of images has lent a kind of purity to the visual, that is not quite present in either my own Christian tradition, or the Jewish texts.

The only Christian texts that really breathed God for me were the Armenian “Lives of the Desert Fathers” (that figure is one of the most alarmingly striking images I have ever seen) and the Ethiopian/Coptic rendering of the Trinity for similar reasons. Both had an unfamiliarity about them that was refreshing, and inspired me to dig a little further into the Desert Fathers history. Although bizarrely, I can find a link to neither on the British Library’s own website. Maybe I’m just being blind. Put a link in the comments box if you find them.

As to the drawbacks of the show – Its amazing how easy it is to “gag” art by talking about it. The clutter of signs, explanation and multi-media is so excessive, that it really distracts from the things you’re looking at. Both the Mizrah and the Islamic marriage contract were partially obscured by signs telling you what they were! Its only a matter of time before you might as well have stayed at home and read about it instead.

As a whole the multi-media experience was centre stage. The actual texts themselves were scattered to the edges of the room. What the hell was the blue LED cone for? Such wizardry displays a lack of faith in the objects we’re supposed to be looking at.

I’m a firm believer in making things accessible to all, but sometimes there’s a fine line between being helpful and patronising people. Some like having the explanations nearby, but the things that tend to get written on these placards don’t help people develop confidence in their own responses to art. In my opinion, it’s just as ok to say: “its nice.” and move on, as it is to just sit there and stare for half an hour because you can’t take your eyes off it. If you’re someone who derives pleasure from knowing how things fit together historically, then a bit of explanation is fine – or just buy the catalogue.

The moral of the story?

Keep it Simple, Keep it Sacred.

UPDATE: I got a nice response from Rob Ainsley from the British Museum re: the texts that didn’t make it onto the Sacred website:

“You’re right, there isn’t a page for the Lives of the Desert Fathers on the website. We only had time and resources to put about half of the texts on display on the website (67 of 150 or so). There’s a complete list at
http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/sacredtexts/sacredthemesall.html

However, of the texts that were in the exhibition but are not on the website, we *may* be able to add some of the ‘most requested’ over the next month or two. (Not a trivial business, because we have to do things such as taking high-resolution pictures of the text). If so, LoDF will be on our shortlist.”

Its brilliant that the British Library interacts with the punters, and it shows that they have a real love for what they’re doing that is forward-looking. Cool!

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F.E.A.R.

Posted in general, video on August 29, 2007 by artbizness

I made a little film for a service that moot did at the Greenbelt festival on Saturday night.

It uses the track “F.E.A.R.” by Ian Brown. This track is an old favourite of mine, and I’ve been wanting to do something with it for a while – it suggests so many things, the lyrics are really clever, and the music as a whole is very powerful. If you don’t have anything by Ian Brown, then I can recommend that you make a start with his Greatest Hits collection, as the man is an understated genius.

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Moot Icon commences

Posted in art, general on August 14, 2007 by artbizness

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So, I’ve finally started the icon for moot. Whether it gets finished in time for Greenbelt is a moot point, but at least we’re underway..

I had the idea for drawing the figures by scorching the wood for quite sometime. It looks much better in real life than in the photo here (but then I do only have a crappy point-and-shoot camera).

Since I started it this morning, I’ve realised that it fulfills a lot of things – the first figure (top photo) looks really scary and intimidating on its own. God the Father. Very foreboding. It also sidesteps the gender/race issues that I mentioned before – not in a bad way, but in the sense that you can read things into the figure without those issues becoming an obstacle.

I also remembered that many of our images of God revolve around fire – the Holy Spirit’s “tongues of fire”, the burning bush, the pillar of fire by night, etc.. This touches on the idea of abscence and prescence – the prescence of fire, but the abscence of it too – the scorched wood that is left behind having been visited by fire.

It also reminds me of the Hiroshima figures – the dust shadows of bodies left behind having been vapourised by the atomic blast – literally blown away.

I’m not sure that the figure on the left works as well as the one in the middle – and the combination of the eventual three may not work at all, but we’ll see. I did think of doing a white line around the figure of Jesus, to make it look like a murder scene – sort of like the chalk line on the floor where the body laid before it was taken away.

But then, that might just be something that only happens in Columbo films, which would make my icon look a bit silly…

But then a sense of humour is useful in a painting..

Oh sod it, I don’t know what to do now.

Pyromaniac tendencies

Posted in art on August 14, 2007 by artbizness

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One of the great things about being an artist is that, if you want to, you can legitimately set fire to things for a living…