There are quicker and easier ways to take pictures. It’s not as though cameras aren’t readily available in shops. For Steven Pippin though, the process of making a picture usually starts with the process of making a camera. In itself that’s not so unusual. There are probably countless art teachers out there who have encouraged students to make pinhole cameras. Usually such undertakings begin with a box of some sort, often a biscuit tin. But that would be way too easy for Pippin.
Among the many everyday objects Pippin has turned into cameras – bath, train toilet, wardrobe etc – the most ambitious in scale is probably the prefab bungalow in Clerkenwell used to make the picture shown above. As self-portraits go, it’s not the most detailed around but that’s hardly surprising given the eight hour exposure and the fact that it’s in negative (it was made directly onto sheets of photographic paper pinned up inside the building rather than on film, which doesn’t come in bungalow size).
of a generation of young German painters dubbed Neo-Expressionists during the 1980s, Anselm Kiefer has explored German myth and history in his art since the early 1970s. Woodcut, the only printmaking technique Kiefer uses, has played a central role in his work. However, rather than creating conventional prints published in standard editions, he incorporates woodcuts into paintings, groups them together to create works that rival the grand scale of his paintings, or uses them in his many illustrated books. To date he has completed approximately one hundred works incorporating the woodcut technique. In 1970 Kiefer began to study with Joseph Beuys at the Academy of Art in Dnsseldorf, where, under Beuys’s influence, he embarked on a personal examination of the troubled legacy of Germany’s past. He incorporated a wide range of diverse materials into his work, including photographs, straw, tar, lead, sand, and dried plants, as well as woodcut, a technique with a long and distinguished history in German art. Richard Wagner’s opera cycle The Ring and the tragic fate of its protagonists Siegfried and Brunhilde form the backdrop for Grane. The heroic role of Brunhilde’s horse, Grane, is a recurring motif in Kiefer’s work. Here the horse is engulfed in the funeral pyre into which the heroine rides at a climactic moment in the opera. Kiefer’s book Der Rhein can be seen as his response to the German tradition of landscape painters such as Caspar David Friedrich and others of the Romantic period. It epitomizes his use of the book format as an evocative metaphor for the communication of collective knowledge and memory.
Vija Celmins Talks about herself and her works
Apart from being an incredibly accomplished ‘technician’, which is perhaps MOST of the reason that attention is bestowed upon Vija Celmins, there is a tenacious - even obsessive quality seen in her works - at least in the aggregate. And so, syntactically - they fascinate. That is to say that seeing a collection of her work over time is rewarding… to explore the variations in treatment, framing, subject matter and technique. And it is a fascinating exploration, a controlled one at that, into the psyche of an artist and a human being. This is perhaps the most powerful aspect of her work -and the aspect that you will RARELY hear being talked about. This is where we discuss thematics. There are several enduring themes running through her work which appear time an again - all loosely intimating a sense of mortality - the ocean(water)… the night sky… the spider web… disasters. The universality of such existential tropes resonate soundly with all of us.
But it’s not even so simple. The degree to which craft is exercised embeds a layer of communication, a layer of intimacy - in her work which is all but absent in the conceptual musings of the last 20-30 years of efforts by our best artists. She exposes us to a level of mastery and that is haunting that we wish not acknowledge nor discuss because it’s not convenient to the narrative of the ‘contemporary’. I think that Celmins’ work provides a reminder of the soulful aspect of art that is all too often missing these decades. It is a challlenge that needs to be answered.
Contemplations of the Spiritual in Contemporary Art
Liverpool Cathedral, 10-I I Sep 2010
“James Elkins, reporting on the scene in the United States, described how the secular art establishment, like so many latter-day Borgias, exercise a negative power of patronage by refusing to allow new ar twith religious themes into leading periodicals and galleries.”
“Both religion and art have rediscovered a vocation to inhabit this in-between zone and to interpret its potentialities to the wider world. If they will have the courage to put aside their mutual suspicions, then the freedom and openness of this threshold have the potential to transform their relationships with one another and to enrich both communities and others beyond. This conference was an encouraging step in that direction.”
“ Harry Lesser argued that modernism and the spiritual are not inherently exclusive, but that modernism provides a potentially fruitful opening for the representation of the spiritual. Like the movement of the Spirit in religion, modernism breaks away from the requirements of realism and the mimetic tradition and has an interest in what is moving and unfinished. Jim Malone revealed the way in which the work of many modernists evokes a contemplative stillness that can be a great source of stimulation in the spiritual life. He pleaded for the recognition on the part of art-critical and theological commentators of the spiritual value of these ‘secular’ work”
Using alternative mediums, cyanotype printing, scanner photography, projection on alternative photography, I wish emphasizes the interconnectedness of spirituality and art in postmodern culture. Printing alternative photos on dirty old white fabric. Found objects. Perhaps using photographic transfer on worn out surfaces. (recycling mediums, idea of beliefs building on top of one another, Joanna’s use of landscape, numerous possibiliies). Probably exploring the digital world by discarding all my artwork, and only keeping a digital copy of it. The idea of a floating intangible existence. Unseen weightlessness. Idea of a living in a third space. Using certain historical symbolism as a metanarrative of our postmodern world, I do not sought to particularly express a spiritual absolute, but to sum up the complexity of our existence and our struggle to grasp life of humanity’s ambition to outdo each intellectual claims throughout history. Art materialistic nature, undoing the spiritual heights our forefather has built, back into abyss, darkness. With a retraction of the metanarratives that govern a rapidly changing, increasingly globalized world, we become free to embrace diversity, innovation, freedom, and the paradoxical present in all its splendid ambiguity. Not everything is pinned down in a dichotomous universe; there arestill questions that remain simply questions, unanswered, perhaps unanswerable. Perhaps a juxtaposition of a inner spiritual sanctuary versus an external chaotic one in the world. Snitching of internal and external spirituality,that something in life goes beyond the here and now and the commitment to that something isolation and self-absorption but of self-transcendencetoward the ultimate value one perceives”
Most spiritual seekers dabble and experiment with an array of choices rather han make a permanent commitment to one set of teachings or beliefs. Spiritual seekers may find the church set on building an organization or an institution rather than promoting spirituality, which emphasizes the spiritual growth of the individual
“We encounter spiritual issues every time we wonder where the
universe comes from, why we are here, or what happens when we die” (2001, p. 8). In
this instance, spirituality takes one to the larger picture, those philosophical questions that are asked by many at varying degrees and varying intensities.
The endless (meaningless) pursuit of knowledge?
Random conclusion of symbols and frameworks of meaning that may result in disjunctions and eclecticism? Leading to The futility of philosophies, abandoning the idea that overarching myths, narratives, or concrete frameworks of knowledge can be found.
Beauty of fragmented contradictory philosophies interweaving through history.
Very Interpretative work, abstract pieces. Using abstract to express our plural world. Role of the artist in the society: that the artist has become the philosopher of the postmoderner in contemporary society refers to a melding of eclectic and sometimes esoteric teachings from scriptural components, sacred texts, premodern belief systems, psychology, mysticism, secularized thought, and a host of other influences “collage, bringing in meaning.” Our world today is a collage. By combining, melding, and synthesizing a number of belief systems and the teachings of mystics from many generations and cultures, Viola and his work reflect both the varied ingredients and the additive processes typical of postmodern art.
Viola attempts to convey the existence of something that is unpresentable without necessarily emphasizing images themselves, but rather what lies beneath and behind the images, the connotations of the images. Through the sublime feeling his work evokes, Viola uses his art to communicate his deepest thoughts, dreams, fears, processes, and epiphanies
Reference to Joanna Love’s work.
Shifting perspective, “malik suggests one major historical change to consider is that religious belief has been wrest away from its traditional strongholds of “institutions, religions, and cultures” and is now less about salvation and service than individuality and belonging. He argues that this shift is one consequence of a particular late-20th century erosion of faith in human-directed progress, which has ultimately lead to developments over the past two decades resulting in western societies having become “less secular without becoming more religious.” (post modern: God is Dead. Existentialist)
Reader interprets the work, and reflects their own stand in the history of spiritual philosophy. French philosopher Jacques Derrida references the phenomenon of multiple interpretations when he suggests that the meaning does not reside in the text, or in this case the artwork, but in the reading and writing of the text (Derrida and Attridge, 1992). When the text or artwork is “read” in different contexts it is given new meanings that are socially embedded within ideological systems (Hodder, 2000). The “reader” is in essence invited to become a “full and equal partner in the meaning-making process,”
Bill viola on Art as spiritual. Bill Viola writes: I believe in the human capacity for survival, against all odds—that life will always find a way to go on, and that within ourselves we will always discover the will and ability to rise up again to overcome obstacles, to transform and transcend who we are. This is why I believe in the power of art, and especially media art, tospeak across borders and barriers, transcending language, culture, socio-political differences, and even space and time, to become a universal expression andreflection of mankind (2007, p. 11)
On iconoclasm “the biblical distinction between the one true God and false gds or idols is still potent, as is the resulting monotheistic suspicion towards images, which are always potentially idols. In his text in this reader, Whats wrong with images? Assmann provides a historical account of the thelogical and politica meanings of the religious prohibition on images, and in so doing explores the specific understanding of images in both monolatry and monotheism.
On the gap that art/religion has to fill in our lives but religion still holds more weight than the shifting art perspective. “Further Groys weighs in on how religion and art might substitute for the lack of horizon we are confronted with today, claiming that unlike religion, art is always “material and materialistic,” which is an essential condition of art’s potential to fulfill its emancipatory role in society.
“How much (or, more to the point, how little) irony is still left in art’s obsessive exploration of New Age phenomena at this point in time? Will contemporary art’s stubborn drive towards a re-enchantment of the world plunge us back into dark abyss of superstition from which the men and women of the Enlightenment took such great pains to rescue us, bathing its bathetic depths in the light of earthly knowledge?
”a radical identification, that is, of art’s secular thought with a defiant, ruthless materialism, with scepsis and godlessness-a refusal of all transendence. May all that is post secular melt back into air.”
Attention to and adequate documentation of this phenomenon is essential to understanding and encouraging contemporary creative processes and spiritual explorations in all their guises.
My body as a holy temply.
My spiritualism as freedom to life.
“In the 19th century exploration was geographic. Journeys were made into impassable jungles or the ice deserts of the Artic in an attempt to map the last “white” spots on the globe. But in the 20th century this notion of the ‘unknown’ changed. Exploration turned inward. The new realms to be explored were to molecule (Niels Bohr), the unconcscious (Sigmund Freud), language (Gertrude Stein) or the outskirts of the mind (Henri Michaux) by Joachim Koester
Cover: Toned Silver Print on Mulberry Paper
Mike & Doug Starn
Since the 1980s, Mike and Doug Starn’s conceptual approach to photography, and use of unorthodox techniques, has broadened notions of what is accepted as a photograph. In a signature manipulation of materials and form, the twin brothers apply innovative printing techniques, and a vast array of materials including transparency film, plexiglass, layered fused glass panels, gilded colored carbon prints, scotch tape, wax and pushpins, to create, and intensify, their metaphorical landscapes. I am interested to reference this siblings because of their similar techniques in creating alternative prints on alternative surfaces. With their development of their technique i can than learn how to develop my craft as well, and explore more ways of expressing my spiritual themes beyond my own imagination. With the theme of light as a central component of their work, the brothers explore the physical and philosophical interconnections between subjects such as leaves, trees, snowflakes, and religious icons, with human memory, perception and thought. Working collaboratively in photography since the age of thirteen, their innovative techniques, and unique combination of sculpture, painting, and video, have defied categorization, and earned them a position of eminence within the history of art.
Born in New Jersey, 1961, Mike and Doug Starn attended The School of The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Their work has been widely exhibited throughout the world, and represented in the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among many others. They live and work in Brooklyn, New York.
Artist to reference: Ingrid Pollard
ingrid describes her photographs as ‘focusing on the original elements of the earth, which form the fundamental substances used in photographic production.’ ingrid gained attention in the 80’s with pastoral interlude, a series of photographs of black people in the english countryside. this was the start of her articulation of her experiences as a black british woman through the conventions of portraiture and landscape photography. Does the term “landscape” merely conjure up idyllic notions of the countryside? Or is the seemingly neverending industrial malaise in the countryside symptomatic of a broader crisis of identity that has begun to erode the distinctions between the metropolitan and the rural tradition?
Through processes of construction, destruction and reconfiguration, Landscape Trauma in the Age of Scopophilia provokes a re-examination of our relationship to landscape - be it geographical, cultural or political - by examining the interplay between these different dimensions.
Rejuvenating and expanding the subject of landscape, it presents spectacular illusions of scale and space, combining the macro and the micro, the scientific and the psychic.