April 28, 2016 - Comments Off on PEDAGOGICAL SKETCHBOOK


In a transtechnology research seminar, Professor Michael Punt asked, “Where does the line come from?” At the time I proceeded to write this down in my notebook but nothing else occurred from this noteworthy and curious question. No one attempted a response and the matter was swiftly overlooked. It was not until recently that I returned to this question; I decided on studying the work of Paul Klee and specifically his pedagogical sketchbook as a visual reference, the way in which he attempted to visually orchestrate his theoretical musings. The first such instance of this pictorial rendition was that of the origination of the line, a notion that was negligible in the current state of things, so much so that this very question was ignored in the aforementioned seminar. Perhaps the question itself is unremarkable, but the execution of such a question in its chosen form interests me, both the aesthetic and theoretical underpinnings that Klee favoured.

It is almost as if the pedagogical sketchbook is a field book documenting the inception of graphic forms, drawing upon Klee’s perceptual experiences and relationship with nature in order to fashion new symbols. The origins of graphic apparatus are disclosed, the line stemming from a single point, “shifting its position forward” (Klee, 1953), and take for instance the ‘formation of the black arrow’, which Klee explains with exactitude and authority: “the given white, much-too-much-seen and tiresome white, is noticed by the eye with little sensation; but the contrasting peculiarity of sudden action (black) sharpens the vividness of vision toward the climax or the termination of this action” (Klee, 1953). These sketches were produced in preparation for his lectures on visual form at Bauhaus Staatliche Art School; the version of pedagogical sketchbook circulating to this day has evaded the refinement likely associated with contemporary proponents of academia. Klee repeatedly transfers his thoughts onto the page in a rushed and coarse manner, yet there is something alluring about this on a contextual level that implies a seeming flow of contemplation.

Whilst viewing the illustrations that embellish the almost scientific procedure located in pedagogical sketchbook, I found similarities with Klee’s untangling of visual forms and Mark Forsyth’s ‘Etymologican’. In their respective processes they both extrapolate the origins of subjects that have become part of the putative orthodox of communication. This is possibly a narrow view, but based on the content alone, it makes perfect sense to decrypt the geneses of visual forms ‘visually’ and to decode the evolution of language by unravelling the words ‘textually’, or as Forsyth put it: “a circular stroll through the hidden connections of the English language” (Forsyth, 2011). Contrasting the smooth and glossy ‘Knowledge is Beautiful’ by David McCandles (discussed in earlier post), the pedagogical sketchbook absent of a gravitas in its application and for all its quirks manages to muster an emancipation of sorts. Klee’s sketchbook exudes a purity that McCandles’ creation omits; I personally felt that the arbitrary portrayal of knowledge in ‘knowledge is beautiful’ lacked a sense of purpose beyond the aesthetic whilst the pedagogical sketchbook is rife with a multifaceted vision.

FORSYTH, M (2011) The Etymologicon: A circular stroll through the hidden connections of the English language. London: Icon Books Ltd.

KLEE, P (1953) Pedagogical Sketchbook. Translated from German by Sibyl Moholy- Nagy. London: Faber and Faber Limited.

MCCANDLESS, D (2014) Knowledge is Beautiful. London: William Collins.

April 16, 2016 - Comments Off on Diffusion Festival Website Redesign

Diffusion Festival Website Redesign

One of the many tasks for the upcoming Diffusion Festival held in Cardiff was to produce design options for the website, which would then be developed by Echidna and AmberCouch. Taking into account feedback collected from the public after the preceding festival, which often highlighted issues with accessibility regarding the stream of content that did not intuitively deliver the vital information expected by visitors. I sought to create a variety of designs that allowed visitors to obtain the key details of the programme directly from the core pages rather than having to select each individual artist or exhibition. A unity between design and photography was favoured throughout the chosen design, images were not merely placed within the layout but instead became components and a framework for information to then be entwined within. Multiple arrangements could be achieved by working within a grid system and particular options were tied to certain top-level navigation pages to ensure that variances were perceived by the user, for instance, the ‘experience’ page would adopt a sequencing of large block images and text together with two rows of smaller blocks that would be located in between. The programme page consisting of artists, venues and exhibitions would be assembled from individual blocks and sometimes comprise of larger squares for content that was upcoming or in need of more presence.

December 22, 2014 - Comments Off on Art As Experience

Art As Experience

In reading ‘Paul Rand: Conversations with Students’ I found a recommendation to read John Dewey’s ‘Art As Experience’, to which Rand went on to proclaim “Well, you art just not an educated designer unless you read this book” (Cited in Kroeger, 2008). Upon reading the first couple of pages I felt that Dewey’s text would be in keeping with the theories I have been procuring during the last few months, there were many instances where Dewey shed a light on several topics that are dominant within my project. At the outset I established a connection with my earlier post on the V&A exhibition ‘disobedient objects’, on the subject of objects attaining meaning beyond their predetermined purpose as a result of a collective discord. The emotional impetus that reconfigured the objects’ meaning came to be obscured when placed in a museum, Dewey equally suggests that “when an art product once attains classic status, it somehow becomes isolated from the human conditions under which it was brought into being and from the human consequences it engenders in actual life-experience” (Dewey, 2005 p. 1).

The act of separating the objects from the social construct from which the altered meaning was conceived lead to the subtexts becoming obscured, hence the curators sought to re-establish the cultural context with a view to coalesce content and form. Dewey recognised that art often became “remitted to a separate realm” and detached from the origin of human experience, for this reason he made an effort to “restore continuity between the refined and intensified forms of experience that are works of art and the everyday events, doings, and sufferings that are universally recognised to constitute experience” (Dewey, 2005 p. 2). One thing I can now be certain of is that the visual message is ultimately abstract and tied to self-contained yet interconnecting mass-psychologies, each social construct an actor within the actor-network, both human and non-human. Take for instance Dewey’s analysis of the Athenian citizens whose shared experience became embodied in the Parthenon, “the people into whose lives it entered had in common, as creators and as those who were satisfied with it, with people in our own homes and on our own streets” (Dewey, 2005 p.3). As a non-human artefact the Parthenon came into being at the hand of human experience and ensuingly delivered further stimuli, conceivably a movement of autopoiesis with reference to the transference of experience.

As the developing growth of an individual from embryo to maturity is the result of interaction of organism with surroundings, so culture is the product not of efforts of men put forth in a void or just upon themselves, but of prolonged and cumulative interaction with environment.

John Dewey | Art As Experience

How is the transmission of experiences possible with the subjective ontology of meaning? The creative act is exclusively defined by each author whose purpose it is to externalise the internal conscious state of man. I consider that experiences cannot be universally shared, perhaps on the surface yet on the inside remains subtlety and nuance, “when a flash of lightning illuminates a dark landscape, there is a momentary recognition of objects. But the recognition is not itself a mere point in time. It is the focal culmination of long, slow processes of maturation” (Dewey, 2005 p.24). Each individual succumbs to a multitude of self-defining experiences, in the end accounting for the pre-existing suppositions we each employ when either creating or interpreting a visual message. This multiplicity is the allure of art, that by delving deeper we may obtain the very consciousness of the creator, but it is also for this reason that art is susceptible to misconception.


DEWEY, J (2005) Art as Experience. New York: Penguin Group. (Original work published 1934)

KROEGER, M (2008) Paul Rand: Conversations with Students. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

December 19, 2014 - Comments Off on Transtechnology Research

Transtechnology Research

This week I attended a Transtechnology research seminar on the introduction of moving image technologies and the convergence between medical visualisation. Before attending the discussion I was uncertain as to whether it would raise anything that would directly refer to my own efforts to reveal the full complexity inherent beneath the façade of the visual message. Fortuitously the seminar quite often deviated from the matter at hand and in its place surfaced debates on the subjective ontology of all nature of things. One particular quote caught my attention early on; Dr Martha Blassnigg cited a fictitious conversation by Hugo Münsterberg in which he considers that “science is an instrument constructed by human will in the service of human purposes. It is valuable, reliable, and indispensible instrument, but it is, like any instrument, an artificial construction, which has meaning only in view of its purpose” (Münsterberg 2006 p.9). Science is so often perceived as a certainty, an objective truth founded on empirical evidence yet this is indeed highly disputed and on closer inspection science originates from a branch of natural philosophy. Disregarding the infinite deliberations that could result from opening up such a debate on the nature of science, what fascinated me with this proclamation was the abstract predisposition of all humanity’s creations.

For the most part I found the experience of partaking in such discussions enlightening, but obtaining a corpus of Transtechnology research papers above all has provided me with a platform of information to explore further. Two notable texts that I have chosen to discuss are by Dr Martyn Woodward and Madalena Grimaldi due to their stimulating analyses of humanity’s extended mind and perception. Throughout my own work remains this prevailing notion that creative endeavours serve a purpose beyond aesthetic appreciation and instead the creative act is a catalyst for the externalisation of the conscious state, an extension of consciousness. In Woodward’s text he supposes the same ‘extended mind’ hypothesis and in doing so summons a debate on the extent to which artistic creation is entangled with the environment as part of a larger system. (Woodward 2013). In reading Woodward’s text I found a validation for the research I had been conducting prior to this week, at every juncture I noticed parallel assertions to my own, for example:

The ‘extended mind’ hypothesis is characteristically embedded within the concept of ‘autopoiesis’. This maintains that cognition, perception and action merge together within the relational, reciprocal system that includes the body and world. An autopoeitic system is defined not by its individual components (as separate entities), but by the processes and relations between the components.

Dr Martyn Woodward | Being Through Painting and Weaving: A Brief Commentary on Intuition.

Once I came to the conclusion that visual communication was an extension of consciousness akin to the primordial use of tools (technology) that facilitated hominids to reach beyond the parameters of the hand, I recognised the autopoeitic system was central to the regenerate evolution of the creative act. By identifying the creative act as a catalyst for consciousness we ought to consider perception, how the artist extrapolates their surrounding reality, not so much phenomena (material) but cognitive execution of the noumena (ethereal), in turn how then does the spectator interpret the subsequent work? Grimaldi comprehends that perception “allows us to apprehend a situation objectively when stimulated by the senses” yet I believe later insinuates the predisposition of noumena in its capacity to alter the ‘objective’ in stating “[perception] is an inherently ambiguous process, where perceptual discrepancies may arise in different individuals who experience identical stimulation” (Grimaldi 2013 p. 1). Bearing in mind the content of my previous two posts ‘Disobedient Objects’ and ‘Lost in Translation’, Grimaldi predominantly touches upon the fabrication of consciousness and how perception is reliant on the individuals past experiences, “this knowledge, derived from the past, can directly interfere with the perception of the present” (Grimaldi 2013 p.5).


GRIMALDI, M (2013) Illusions: The Magic Eye of Perception. Plymouth: Transtechnology Research.

MÜNSTERBERG, H (2006) The Eternal Life. New York: Cosimo, Inc. (Originally work published 1905)

WOODWARD, M (2013) Being Through Painting and Weaving: A Brief Commentary on Intuition. Plymouth: Transtechnology Research.

December 16, 2014 - Comments Off on Disobedient Objects

Disobedient Objects

The visual message is elusive and the interpretations remain bound to a collective memory of society in which it is formed; in light of my current exploration into the ontology of meaning I felt impelled to visit the V&A exhibition ‘Disobedient Objects’. The exhibition coalesced a range of themes that I had previously deliberated over, such as the malleable nature of meaning, the fictitious dogma of history and the vision of a mass psychology. ‘Disobedient Objects’ strove to disregard the elitist foundation of history so often framed by selective inclusion and ‘also told from above’ (Flood and Grindon, 2014), in its place highlighting the counterpower of the populace. Bearing in mind my earlier posts on Dr Jonathon Clark’s presentation whereby I became familiar with the abstract concept of history, Croatian artist Sanja Iveković and her motivation to recall forgotten individual stories and certain elements found in Duncan Campbell’s ‘It for Others’, ‘Disobedient Objects’ was an appropriate testament to this conjunction of ideas.

In thinking about the spatial organisation of the disobedient objects exhibition, the starting point has been the idea that these artefacts are defined not by their form, but by their political efficacy. Their disobedience only becomes apparent when they are considered in context.

Catherine Flood and Gavin Grindon | Disobedient Objects

In Dr Jonathon Clark’s presentation in October he spoke of the ‘Mysterious Monuments’ found in John Constable’s paintings and their following appreciation in spite of their function becoming null and void. In the same way that observers imprinted significance upon the archaic artefacts found in Constable’s paintings, the objects shown in this exhibition have attained value beyond their purpose. The red square chosen by students protesting against the proposed raise in university fees in Quebec and red feather later adopted as a symbol of solidarity (illustrated in gallery), in Poland individuals wore power resistors to indicate resistance to the government and support for pirate Radio Solidarity. (Flood, 2014) I found that in addition to the voluminous objects on display with their contextual connotations emerged this idea of entanglement and actor-network theory, every one of the objects shown and their manipulated subtexts were dependent on the social movements that embraced them.

Different local contexts produce different forms of resistance. The strategies activists develop and the objects they make depend on the cultures they are part of and the particular struggles they face. But movements also borrow and adapt designs from each other. As designs circulate, they connect movements, crafting global networks and intersections between social struggles.

Catherine Flood and Gavin Grindon | Disobedient Objects

In the accompanying publication the curators spoke of the challenge they faced when constructing the exhibit, they accepted that placing these objects in the museum would obscure the emotional context that was central to the objects on display claiming value beyond purpose. With reference to these objects being removed from their social constructs in political contestation, one remark stood out in relation to my own exploration into the nature of meaning and the entanglement that connotations have with social constructs, “they [objects] are like characters in a play that have wandered off stage. Only those who know the play can fully catch their meaning” (Flood, 2014). This analogy chimed with an epiphany I had regarding the anamorphic image and the particular vantage point required in order to reconstitute the unfamiliar, those not engaged with the inducements that evoked these disobedient objects are unlikely to fully understand their meaning.

I have not only been interested in the impetus for ‘Disobedient Objects’ but also felt an admiration for the method in which it was conveyed. Even though the objects had been detached from the cultural upheavals from which they were reconceptualised, the commitment that the curators displayed and acknowledgement to the abstract nature of meaning proved indispensable in portraying the ‘disobedient objects’. The calculated curation of the exhibition and the notable attention to detail in the matter of articulating a story for each object made the exhibit all the more conceptually obliging. At every stage of the exhibition I found creative provisions that sought to reinforce the collective ensemble of objects beyond their physical form and introduce the circumstantial reasons for their ‘disobedience’.

FLOOD, C and Grindon, G (2014) Disobedient Objects. London: V&A Publishing.



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December 12, 2014 - Comments Off on Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

The world which matters to us is false, i.e., is not a fact but a fictional elaboration and filling out of a meagre store of observations; it is ‘in flux’, as something becoming, as a constantly shifting falsity that never gets any nearer to truth, for – there is not ‘truth’.

Friedfrich Nietzsche | Writings from the Late Notebooks

I have a proclivity to conjoin meaning to experiences that I perceive and this can often be advantageous in the creative act I practice. Unfortunately I am aware that sometimes the motivations for such connotations become lost in translation when bearing in mind the eye of the beholder. In my recent conversion from artist to designer I sought to hone my ability to communicate through visual methods and negate ambiguity (although I now accept the same issues arise that I faced in the arts). In my latest photographic venture I attempted to emancipate from the mimetic and veracious objectivity (of or relating to actual and external phenomena as opposed to thoughts, feelings, etc) of the world through the photographic medium, I subsequently proceeded to eradicate all obstacles (mimetic elements) between artist and viewer in pursuit of externalising emotions and/or ideas, essentially incorporating the notion of the simulacrum, whereby I re-presented/ re-contextualised my chosen subjects.

I strove to find a transmittable and solitary voice through the photographic medium, extricating myself from the unbounded disparate meanings fragmented by the diversity and context of the spectator’s own life that therefore alters their perception of an image. Self-reflexively engaging with my earlier endeavours to regulate and isolate meaning, certain obstacles began to emerge with regards to the illusive nature of connotative meaning. For instance, a particular image within my ‘Window of Appearances’ series depicts a rose materialising from a red bedspread, by fastidiously determining the composition I had sought to subject the viewer’s gaze and subsequent implied interpretation. I had originally assumed the image would unequivocally denote the stimuli of love and passion, no doubt a self-righteous and partial approach to my work. By engaging in progressive contemplation and researching archetypal images, I began to broaden my own interpretation of the image in question, layers and multiple meanings were exposed, ‘Above all, roses signify love, in all its earthly and heavenly hues: what or who we love in the present; the one we loved and have lost, and the longing for something name-less’ (See Martin 2010). A positive nuance had been negated with reference to ‘loss’ and in its stead surfaced a complexity I had not anticipated.

By chance I found an analogy in Roland Barthes’ Mythologies that uses the rose to explain the transcendent nature of the ‘sign’. Roland Barthes explains that there is not only the signifier and signified but a third term. A bridge between the visual stimulus and what we interpret. This connecting term is the ‘sign’. The sign is essentially the meaning that we imprint upon the signifier. Barthes goes on to explain this further by using a bunch of roses to infer passion and how they become passionified by the sign. But the sign develops within different cultures and mass psychologies. And is susceptible to change.

Take a bunch of roses: I use it to signify my passion. Do we have here, then, only a signifier and a signified, the roses and my passion? Not even that: to put it accurately, there are here only ‘passionified’ roses. But on the plane of analyses, we do have three term; for these roses weighted with passion perfectly and correctly allow themselves to be decomposed into roses and passion: the former existed before uniting and forming this third object, which is the sign. It is as true to say that on the plane of experience I cannot dissociate the roses from the message they carry, as to say that on the plane of analyses I cannot confused the roses as signifier and the roses as sign: the signifier is empty, the sign is full, it is a meaning.

Roland Barthes | Mythologies

Diegesis 2







Window of Appearances (2014)

I remain sceptical of whether objectivity can ever truly be achieved; Friedrich Nietzsche maintained that ‘there are no facts, only interpretations’ and this observation has been shared by a number of contemporary artists. Leading on from my previous post on Duncan Campbell I have uncovered a resonance of ideas in prior and current Turner Prize nominees. Winner of the Turner Prize 2013 Laure Prouvost’s work explores the disparity between reality and fiction and tends to take the form of a video whereby an immersive narrative interweaves with a multitude of stimuli. The format that Prouvost embraces diverges from the conventional milieu of video installation owing to her inclusion of object d’art that relays a tangible presence in juxtaposition with the visual narrative. Comparable to my own questions regarding the elusive ontology of meaning, in an interview preceding Prouvost winning the Turner Prize she stated:

The Whitechapel show is much more playing on the idea of sensation and clichés and emotion; how do you translate that sensation of the smell of dry grass scent on the skill? How do you translate the sensation of the touch? Yes, it’s like creating stories, but I think it’s less about lies, more questioning what is it we’re seeing all the time and what is it we’re understanding.

Laura Prouvost

Prouvost recognises the equivocal nature of the sign and consequently chose to relinquish control to the viewer rather than enforce a solitary meaning. She merely attempts to invoke a sensory response from the spectator and cox a narrative from the visual auditory theatre that is fabricated in the space. By having two synchronistic components to Prouvost’s installations she has made an effort to “blurring this idea of fiction and reality and how, where do we keep those distance[s], what is what, what is reality, what is fiction [?]” (See Channel 4). The paradoxical methodology of reality and fiction is a troublesome proposition for the visual arts, certainly for those who strive to communicate their experiences. There does remain those who find solace in embracing the multifaceted dimensions of meaning such as Laura Prouvost but what can be done for those who rely on the visual stimulus to transmit a message? Those applied artists such as graphic communicators whose profession remains reliant on the viewer’s laconic interpretation. I believe that it is this fundamental question that I intend on alleviating in my book Diegesis.

Recently I have been pondering over what sub title I should attach to diegesis to convey my topic ology, after all I am aware of the possible connotations that could be inferred. So far I am deliberating between either borrowing a title by Susan Hiller ‘the provisional texture of reality’, or possibly adapting a sentence in this post to ‘the elusive ontology of the visual message’.


BARTHES, 1957, new edn 2009 p 136

MARTIN, K and RONNBERG, A. (ed.) (2010) The Book of Symbols. Cologne: Taschen.

NIETZSCHE, F. (2003) Writings from the Late Notebooks. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 80

Turner Prize (2013). [TV Programme] Channel 4, 2 December 2013

December 6, 2014 - Comments Off on Turner Prize 2014

Turner Prize 2014

I have found a number of revelations by engaging with this year’s Turner Prize nominees that I expect will shape my own methodology and ensuing project. As I discussed in an earlier post ‘All the World’s Futures’, I am beginning to establish recurring themes in works that on the surface appear to diverge in their overarching implied denotation. I have immersed myself in the work itself and attempted to delve deeper in trying to understand the artist’s influences, as a result I have chosen particular elements that resonate with my own practice.

Duncan Campbell | It for Others

A History

Duncan Campbell won this year’s Turner Prize with his film ‘It for Others’ that explores how we can understand certain histories through objects. Campbell’s fascination for African art coexists with a portrayal of a constructed history. Originally I established an association with ‘It for Others’ due to the traditional art shown that I conceded to be related to my earlier foray into primitive modes of expression, though I admit this early delineation was perhaps superficial. The African art alternatively strove to question the value of objects in a social and historical context.

One particular element of Campbell’s work that resonated with me was his description of a constructed history that is malleable and susceptible to bias. This observation had been highlighted in a previous conversation I had with Dr Stephen Thompson at the early stages of my project and has resurfaced in an altered façade. In an interview with Campbell conducted by Tate as part of the promotion for his nomination, he stated:

What’s contained in these archives is actually highly constructed and partial. There’s all sorts of gaps and lapses and even, kind of, prejudices against certain subjects. The histories are very important but I also think it’s very important to look at how those histories are constructed as well.

Duncan Campbell

This whole paradigm of a constructed history and the precursors who fashioned this accepted history as we know it poses interesting ideas of an active viscous structure prone to fictitious dogmas. In my previous post I deliberated the work of Croatian artist Sanja Iveković and her work ‘The Disobedienst’ that strove to reveal the disremembered stories of individuals who had made considerable contributions to society. The key figures in Iveković’s work had become marginalised having resisted the Nazi Regime and only now were they collectively revered for their own personal experiences. Drawing upon the actor-network theory I think it is important to delve into the individual elements that contribute to a society or history. Previous Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry made a thought-provoking statement in his Channel 4 series ‘Who are you?’ that approached the question of the individual, he concluded that:

Our identity is something we perform over a lifetime, so this idea that we are this static thing I think, is an illusion. We are a series of bits of baggage, but eventually they build up into this ongoing, lifelong artwork that is our individual identity and we feel it and we live it and we perform it.

Grayson Perry

In addition to realising Campbell’s motives behind ‘It for Others’ I have also established an appreciation in the works method, predominantly the episodic manner that Campbell ascertains: “It’s a moment in thought as opposed to being some kind of conclusion, it’s kind of open-ended” (see Tate, 2014) I found solace in this statement having grappled with my own thought process and similarly how I would ultimately bring my idea’s to fruition. Recently I have begun to adopt the theatrical term ‘Diegesis’ as a label for my work for the reason that it denotes a monologue of sorts in which an interior view of a world is externalised and most importantly a fictional view. Above all I chose diegesis as I felt it reflected my ideas in a concise and approachable manner, basically reducing my hypothesis into two delineations of ‘interior view’ and a ‘fiction’. Campbell’s work has provided a newfound acceptance of complexity and I hope that by implementing the term diegesis I may be able to fabricate a project that becomes a self-reflexive monologue of ideas in perhaps the guise of a book.

I am beginning to envision that a book would become a catalyst for thought as well as a means of honing my design methodology. Essentially it would take on the form of art with its implied contextual framework and embody my progression as a designer.

Greyson Perry: Who are you? (2014). [TV programme] Channel 4, 22 October 2014

Tate (2014). TateShots: Turner Prize 2014, Duncan Campbell. [Video Onlne] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PDFVAE0q7g (Accessed 05 December 2014

December 4, 2014 - Comments Off on Society’s Collective Memory

Society’s Collective Memory

Although I am aware that my research encompasses perhaps too many avenues to simplify into a single project, I have become preoccupied with the notion of a mass-psychology. Two particular exhibits held at Ffotogallery in Cardiff as part of the Artist Mundi contemporary art exhibition and prize caught my attention. ‘The Visitors’  by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson and ‘The Disobedients’  by Croatian artist Sanja Iveković portrayed themes that echoed this idea of a mass-psychology. ‘The Visitors’  is a multimedia piece that combines a stimulating video exhibit with haunting music composed by the artist / performer Ragnar and fellow musicians. On entering the dim lit room I immediately became aware of an expansive ensemble of sound, the sound permeated from nine distinct screens, each screen came to be a platform for each individual voice. This piece was captivating throughout but most pertinent for me was the arrangement of the exhibit to deliver ‘individual minds at work, baring of extreme collective emotion’ (Kjartansson). I think what interested me most about this work was how it visually depicted the thoughts I was having regarding a social system based on actor-network-theory, particularly to a cohesive social construct.

‘The Visitors’ was produced in a country house near New York where each individual was located in different rooms and although the group were connected auditorially they each occupied a sole purpose and I find this to reflect the core element of a culture. Similarly ‘The Disobedients’  by Sanja highlighted the individual stories throughout history that combine to alter society. However unlike Ragnar’s piece which embodied the spirit of social interaction by means of music, Sanja felt that history all too often forgets those single characters: ‘Traditional monuments either extol or absolve the deeds of history and often end up discounting individual stories in order to create an official whole’ (Ivekovic, 2014). Sanja’s Artist Mundi space exhibited a number of projects that cohesively grappled with the notion of forgotten stories. ‘GEN XX’  incorporates photographs of female models found in magazine advertisements and introduces a new juxtaposing context by applying text that articulates the stories of young females who fought against the Nazi Regime. ‘The Disobedients’  presents a number of stories from key cultural figures and formulates their personal plight. I found this piece to be particularly poignant as I had come across a number of the individuals in my own work and their influences on society but had not understood their stories in such detail until now.

Whether approached as an anthropological study in order to apprehend human relationships or as an actor-network to understand the transference of knowledge via social constructs, the sheer depth and complexity that reside in culture theory remains fascinating to me. At this moment in time I am evaluating its importance in my overarching project and despite the resolve I know that I will explore this subject matter again in the future.

Both Barthes and Baudrillard were strikingly uninterested in any discussion of the role of the designer, preferring instead to regard the disposition of things as the physical manifestation of a mass psychology.

The Language of Things  Deyan Sudjic


'The Visitors '  Ragnar Kjartansson


IVEKOVIḈ, S. (2014) ‘The Disobedients’ Exhibition Placard. Ffotogallery, Cardiff, Wales.

KJARTANSSON, R. (2014) ‘The Visitors’ Exhibition Placard. Ffotogallery, Cardiff, Wales.

SUDJIC, D. (2008) The Language of Things. London: Penguin Group.

December 2, 2014 - Comments Off on All the World’s Futures

All the World’s Futures

On a number of occasions this week I have been required to articulate my forthcoming project as succinctly as possible. This has proved challenging as I have a proclivity to construct a research framework that contains multiple possibilities and find it problematic when asked to “describe in a few words”. Two incidences where a coherent description for my proposed project was necessary was at a selection workshop for the opportunity to invigilate and produce work at the Venice Biennale and in a discussion with Professor Robert Pepperell.

A variety of factors that arose from these discussions have assisted in a potential route for further investigation, predominantly cultural theory. The Venice Biennale in 2015 has an overarching theme of All the World’s Futures which is ‘devoted to a fresh appraisal of the relationship of art and artists to the current state of things’ (Enwezor, 2014). I instinctively drew connections with this theme and my own inquiry into the actor-network theory by French scholars Bruno Latour and Michel Callon. The actor-network theory takes into account surrounding factors as part of an interconnecting framework and can be applied to the collective milieu of cultures found at the Biennale. The prospect of being present at the Venice Biennale has no doubt sparked further interest in the transmission of ideas between diverse social constructs.

To date I have accumulated a complex range of research that attempts to reveal how we as humans make sense of the world and in turn shape our surroundings. The type of research that has been collected lends itself to philosophical musings and I am finding it challenging when trying to direct it into a tangible realisation. It is for this reason that I decided to discuss cultural theory with Professor Robert Pepperell as a possible application for my research among other key topics such as humanity’s entanglement with technology and cognitive perception of the world. I believe that there is certainly a mounting interest in the social sciences for artists and designers who are fully aware of our global culture whereby communication ought to be more universal. In a recent article on ‘Design Week’ was a dialogue between various academics on graphic design in 50 years and I saw a similar observation of our global culture’s effect on graphic communication by Professor Teal Triggs (see Banks, 2014):

In 50 years I feel like the mixing of cultures – which is already happening to some extent – will lead to unexpected outcomes. The cocktail of references, languages and even humour will surely encourage designers to think differently.

Professor Teal Triggs | Royal College of Art

This subject will be expanded further in a number of posts on the Turner Prize and Artist Mundi.

BANKS, T. (2014) ‘What will visual communication look like in 50 years time?’ [Online] Available at: http://www.designweek.co.uk/voxpop/what-will-visual-communication-look-like-in-50-years-time/3039390.article (Accessed 02 December)

ENWEZOR , O. (2014) ‘56th International Art Exhibition - All the World’s Futures’ [Online] Available at: http://www.labiennale.org/en/art/news/22-10.html (Accessed 02 December)

Further Reading

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November 19, 2014 - Comments Off on Amalgam | Research Presentation

Amalgam | Research Presentation

Lately there has been a consolidation of ideas, first of all my internal conflict between what it means to be either an artist or designer and secondly reaching an intersection in my research. For this reason I felt compelled to label this post ‘amalgam’ in reference to the uniting of multiple entities into one form. At this moment in time I still remain torn between disciplines; looking for a resolution a self-reflexive debate arose, the paragone between art and graphic design. A paragone (Italian term meaning ‘comparison’) is a debate that surfaced during the Renaissance in which practitioners sought to champion an art form over another. In former analyses I had originally found consolation by determining that graphic design remained entwined in the creative act (a poiesis, a term derivative from the Greek meaning ‘to make’), in principle this remains to be an accurate estimation yet I still feel restless with this resolve. Searching for answers I discovered that my quandary was reciprocated and despite the fact that delineations were found (art makes questions and design makes solutions as discussed in a preceding post), quite often people agreed that graphic design constituted as art and vice versa.

Artist and Architect Giorgio Vasari said that design is the fundamental, the basis for all art, painting, dance, sculpture, writing – it is the fundamental of all the arts. It is the manipulation of form and content in all the arts. So design, and graphic design, is no different from design in painting. If you carry this idea to its natural conclusion, you will decide that here is no difference between design and painting, or design and sculpture, it is all the same.

Paul Rand | Conversations with Students

In conjunction with my introspective search for lucidity concerning the aforementioned internal paragone between artist and designer, was the amalgamation of research in furtherance of my interim viva. Devising a concise narrative posed extremely difficult as I had obtained an extensive influx of information that required refining. This process of reduction proved indispensable and the presentation has surfaced ideas that had previously remained unclear. However, I had intended to demystify my project through the delivery of my presentation having taken on board a number of research seminars and their abridged approach, regrettably I do not feel that I achieved this objective with regard to the spectators of my presentation. Nevertheless the extent of content that I collated in my presentation did feel necessary in order to formulate the complete hypothesis. Over the coming weeks I aim to re-evaluate my convoluted presentation and deduct elements that I deem superfluous in favour of creating a straightforward clarification of my project.