December 19, 2014Comments are off for this post.

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.

November 19, 2014Comments are off for this post.

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.

October 29, 2014Comments are off for this post.

Entanglement | Technology Philosophy

Attempting to ascertain a different path for my research I have begun to remove myself from my previous venture in exploring the difference between traditional mediums of art and design and emerging digital manifestations. Having recently chosen to direct my enquiry into the rudimentary elements of graphic design I had developed a vague hypothesis with the aim of considering the creative act as an extension of communication (as discussed in my previous post). Last week I was mindful of an upcoming task that involved sharing my envisioned project and research to fellow students in the form of a poster and for that reason I made an effort to present my research as clearly as possible. In retrospect I recognise that I was trying to connect an array of theoretical disciplines without an established preceding question and therefore I struggled to generate a cohesive description of my work which was inexorably reflected by the feedback I received.

Subsequently I was contending with the poster dilemma and cogitating a resolve for my approaching mid-term viva in the time that I had before this week’s research seminar with Dr Stephen Thompson. In preparation for my own presentation next month I was eager to witness how Thompson would conduct his seminar and more importantly how accessible the content would be for the unknowing spectator. I admittedly spoke to Thompson on regular occasions at this point and begun to delve into similar research topics that had been recommended, nevertheless it was apparent that the presentation was stripped down of complexity and articulated in a graspable manner. Not only did I gain an insight into Thompson’s presentation methods that I intend on executing in my own delivery of research next month but also found a number of notable statements that I aim to explore further.

The overarching subject of technology philosophy integral to Thompson’s presentation was insightful and underlined an array of elements that have progressively come to be relevant in my own practice. I admit that the research field of technology philosophy is expansive and have only begun to delve into specific areas of interest that I feel necessary in order to shape my position on the matter. A statement found in 'The Systems View of Life' chimes with my current research and corresponds with the actor-network theory:

Twentieth-century science has shown repeatedly that all natural phenomena are ultimately interconnected, and that their essential properties, in fact, derive from their relationships to other things. Hence, in order to explain any of them completely, we would have to understand all the others, and that is obviously impossible.

The Systems View of Life | Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi

Particular components that can perhaps be applied to my current endeavours are the actor-network theory and recognising technology as an extension of ourselves. I have become vaguely familiar with the debates associated in technology philosophy stemming from Thompson’s seminar and recent engagement with Merritt Roe Smith’s ‘does technology drive history: The Dilemma of Technological Determinism’. The term Technological determinism supposes that society and cultural values are inherently and predictably driven by technological innovation. But I myself believe that this relationship cannot be reduced to such a cause and effect formula and remains far more complex. Ian Hodder who looks at humanity’s relationship with things in his book ‘Entangled: An Archaaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things’ identifies that things are not isolated. That they are connected and remain intertwined in a framework of relationships, a principle of the actor-network.

In light of recent discussions on the ontological presence of technology as a facilitator to emancipate from our biological limitations, I determine that Graphic design is an extension of our ability to communicate and has been from its first inception.

SMITH, M. (1994) Does Technology Drive History. Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

October 22, 2014Comments are off for this post.

Anamorphic Images

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

October 20, 2014Comments are off for this post.

“A painting is not about experience. It is an experience”

What is the Aura?

Although the presence of the aura (distinctive feeling that seems to surround an original artwork, for instance a painting) remains debatable, I personally deem the notion plausible and plan on emphasising why. The aura is essentially a transcendent sentimentality induced by the physical presence of a painting and often amplified by the knowledge of its unique creation. In comparison to painting being intrinsically unique in its fabrication, the instigation of the modern age and influx of reproducibility has provoked a new dispute on our relationship with art and authenticity. Theorists Walter Benjamin and John Berger have both contemplated the aura's illusive impression on the spectator, whilst Benjamin stipulates that the aura has been negated, the influence of the 'original' becoming diluted by infinite duplicates, Berger goes on to maintain that the original's status has merely changed, now exaggerated by being the first materialisation of a work of art, 'the original'.

The aura is an effect of a work of art being uniquely present in time and space. It is connected to the idea of authenticity. A reproduced artwork is never fully present. If there is no original, it is never fully present anywhere. Authenticity cannot be reproduced, and disappears when everything is reproduced.

Links: Ceasrfire Magazine on Walter Benjamin: Art, Aura and Authenticity

Key Text: Walter Benjamin: The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction / John Berger: Ways of Seeing

{0D4A89C6-3D4E-4ED0-A9A7-7C3A28637B78}Img100          Waysofseeingcvr

October 15, 2014Comments are off for this post.


Instinct to analyse

In a seminar last week we were asked to come prepared with an image or story that we felt represented ourselves in 30 years and I instinctively chose to analyse the transition of Van Gogh's oeuvre as an analogy to my predicted future. During the seminar's discussion other members of the group had chosen various other forms of representing the particular brief in question, these ranged from an "Instinct to explore but stay located" to an "Instinct to practicality". Within this post I plan on instinctively analysing my desire to analyse.

Self-reflexively engaging with my predisposed research methods I have come to understand why I automatically analyse and I know that this is not a new occurrence but something I have always employed when given a particular assignment to undertake. I chose to title this post 'entropy' due to the term typically meaning "disorder" or "uncertainty", two words that absolutely embody the outlook that I tend to have when beginning a new task. Analyses therefore becomes the logical solution to my disarray, derived from the Greek 'a breaking up' and 'a loosening', analyses primarily allows me to capably absorb the fragments of information most noteworthy to me.

Fluid Logic

This weeks seminar's key focus was fluid logic, I especially found this subject to be directly linked to the considerations I have been having with regard to my instinctual analyses when conducting research and immediately found parallels between interactional (contingent) research methods and my own. As the name suggests, the premise of interactional (contingent) study revolves around a network of information built upon a framework of interconnecting relationships, very much like Kenneth Snelson's sculpture Double Star which I have included as an illustration. When i speak of incorporating analyses in my research to resolve a state of entropy, I do not imply that I construct order out of chaos but simply to decipher the expanse of knowledge obtained into relevant fragments. These fragments can then be utilised and implemented into a framework of understanding that remain comprehensible to me.


Double Star By Kenneth Snelson

The analyses of Van Gogh's transition that I wrote can be found here