James Green conducted this weeks seminar on the subject of ‘making things appear closer: using specially shaped supports to paint on”. I found a number of components that stimulated further thought on the nature of visual awareness in art. Green’s discussion on humanity’s proclivity to frame the world in the confines of the rectangle was interesting in view of my background in photography in which the frame becomes intrinsic in the act of using a camera. In light of my former negotiation with the photographic image’s confinement within the rectangle (or square concerning certain medium formats) I understood the challenges Green was facing in his own practice. I often felt restrained by the camera’s cropping and negation of a world in flux that I believed often became absent of intimacy, therefore I could appreciate Green’s determination to escape the boundaries of the rectangle. Likewise photographers happen to be exploring the same avenues as Green by adopting new technologies that allow for a more expansive photographic image such as panoramic and spherical constructs.
Its incredible how deeply imprinted we are with these … rectangles … everything in our culture seems to reinforce the instinct to see rectangularly – books, streets, buildings, rooms, windows.
Hockney, in Weschler 2008:30
A quote by David Hockney was incorporated into Green’s presentation that highlighted the cultural reinforcement of the rectangle in not only the production of art emphasised by Green but in a number of objects too. There have no doubt been certain exceptions in this case whereby creators diverge from the orthodox form and I have previously been curious with applying Green’s methods to publication design. The creative act is continuously evolving and discovering innovative modes of expression in order to conceivably expand the capacity to externalise the conscious state. At one point during the seminar Green addressed a remark made by French Painter Georges Braque that disputed the Renaissance rules of perspective since it intrinsically distanced the subject from the spectator, instead proposing that artists aught to bring the subject within reach of the beholder. Green develops this ideology further by eliminating the conventional frame entirely in the interest of ‘making things appear closer’ to the viewer.
Shaped supports becomes the technique Green implements in order to bridge the distance between work and viewer that Braque suggested linear perspective triggered. This method noticeably arose from Green’s examination of anamorphic images. Anamorphosis is essentially a perspective illusion that necessitates decrypting a distorted object into something familiar, this can be achieved by using mirrors or another example would be the logos stretched across a rugby pitch, appearing as anticipated from another vantage point. I find something contextually arresting concerning the perception of anamorphic images, notably the element of ambiguity when observed from a certain point of view. An anamorphic image often requires an approach of reconstituting the distorted image in favour of observing a recognisable form, which I feel in some ways can be applied to the nature of art. Let me put it this way, all creative endeavours are effectively ambiguous until viewed from a particular vantage point, therefore the anamorphic image can perhaps be used as a metaphor for the subjective ontology of art. Substituting the literal sense of occupying a vantage point and in its place introducing the theory of cognitive archaeology with reference to the autobiographical self.
The point is that any picture is usually tested against preexisting suppositions and knowledge about the world.
David Bate, On Photography