The Trails Investigation: After the case is closed.

Some challenges I faced:

  • Push pins are terrible and don’t hold anything, at all. Tacky superglue is necessary to keep the twine wrapped around, but be careful because it can look rubbish!
  • Push pins and twine are hard to buy. Who knew?! How do police stations do it? 😉
  • Remembering where the photos came from! The thing about a repetitive process is it’s easy to get them lost and confused. I was fastidious about nothing where each photo came from and picked only my favourite three or four images from each ‘site’ I visited. I am confident that every image is linked to it’s correct position, and was careful to show that correct position on my map. That’s something I’m really proud of in the work.
  • Making my inspiration clear/the artist statement: This was a challenge, as I knew what I was trying to say but didn’t want to over-complicate the message. I found that researching where my inspiration came from was vital to this, because artist’s before me have said, in a way, what I wanted to in my work.

The crazy detective board itself:

image image image image image image

The Trails Investigation.

Artist’s Statement:

This work explores the unknowable and inevitably frightening quality of nature. Despite each walking trail appearing unique, they are similar enough to prove it impossible to determine their location by just photographs. This work attempts to solve this mystery, plotting and speculating about the trails as a detective would his victim’s locations – hence the general aesthetic of the work.

It also serves as a comment on repetition itself, and the mystery of each of these walking trails. Like Long’s “Line made by walking” (1967), many footsteps have been taken along these trails but unlike Long’s work, we have no idea why, who, when or how often. Even the numerous locations of such a repetitive action are varied and hard to precisely pinpoint. They were repeated enough to leave a mark, but the true purpose is unclear and perhaps different for every person taking those steps.

Criteria:

-All pieces work together to have a cohesive, aesthetically pleasing flow. They all ‘fit’ together.

-Able to see the influence of Long’s work

-Evokes a sense of mystery and confusion – demonstrating the idea that nature is a timeless, unknowable and potentially dangerous thing.

-Crazy detective string wall.

Richard Long: Research Edition.

Richard Long / Line Made by Walking / 1967.

Richard Long / Line Made by Walking / 1967.

Long’s formative piece, finished in 1967, was created in a field, somewhere between St. Martin’s and Bristol in the UK. Long made this trail himself by walking back and forth for hours in order to flatten the turf. He then took a photo of his completed work.

Despite the perceived simplicity of the work, it makes comment on performative art practice, repetition, nature, motion and relativity.

Long has commented on his work:

“Nature has always been recorded by artists, from prehistoric cave paintings to twentieth-century landscape photography. I too wanted to make nature the subject of my work, but in new ways.”

The use of the natural environment and the impermanence of the work are two aspects which fascinate me and I hope to take on in my work. I also have his interpretation that we can anonymously leave our mark on a landscape, which lends well to my concept of mystery in my work.

“I can make it in a very remote place, almost secretly or in an isolated way. Maybe no one sees it” -Long.

References:

Higgins, C 2012, Richard Long: ‘It was the swinging 60s. To be walking lines in fields was a bit different’ , The Guardian, <http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/jun/15/richard-long-swinging-60s-interview&gt; accessed 26/10/15

Tate, 2007, ‘Richard Long: A Line Made by Walking’, <http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/long-a-line-made-by-walking-ar00142&gt; accessed 26/10/15

The unknown of nature.

Some inspiration for my work, which is fast becoming unknowable and completely crazy (if you can’t tell, I’m super excited!).

Lars Hertervig, the “incurably insane” artist who found the terrifying mystery in landscape imagery.

Note: The colouring (blues, yellows, greens), the mystery, the layering and unusual shapes.

Richard Long, the 1960’s (note: the retro!) artist who made art by walking back and forth in a single space. His work inspires my repetition, as these walking tracks are the same, but different.

Note: The time! Black and white photography. Also the simplicity but power of the work and the complete inability to ascertain a location from just looking at the image on it’s own.

Reena Kallat: The chaos and confusion of her work, but the way the string relays a message and links different locations. The colouring is also significant in this work, representing different links and different locations.

Note: The ‘string’ – in this case being different wires (perhaps explore this?), the formation of links, the representation of a ‘map’ in an unusual way that still reflects what a map is used for.

‘Crazy’ detective boards: nature is a scary, unknowable force, and my work is an attempt to track the locations in a noisy, frantic way.

Note: The ‘string’ boards and the way you can stand back and look at a chaotic wall and see a pattern, a repetitive process. The wall can ‘inform’ the viewer.

Progress Report; Media artwork edition.

My artwork is, thankfully, coming along nicely. I’ve created the image I’m going to use as a map and am currently getting it printed onto a canvas. All the ‘walking track’ photographs have been taken and I’m in the process of editing those images and transferring them into black and white. I’ve recorded my soundscape and it sounds awesome and bush walk-y. Fantastic? Fantastic.

I’m content with my idea and I think I can see the repetition and inspiration throughout it’s entirety. But, after speaking with Mat, I’m realising that I haven’t firmly figured out what my artwork is really about. I’m a week out and I’m still unsure about what the purpose of the work is.

I don’t want it to look like and infographic and I want it to say something of significance, so I think the way I lay the work out is going to be a key factor here. The use of black and white images, like Long’s work, adds a timeless, mysterious quality to the work which I think might be significant. Who knows how long these tracks have been around, serving the feet of bushwalkers for generations. Unlike Long’s work we don’t know when or how or why they were made, and I think this mystery is significant when making commentary on nature.

Somebody who really got this representation of nature as unknowable was Lars Hertervig. His works have inspired me because they are timeless and I love the idea of “stumbling upon” something hidden and dark in nature. The colouring in his paintings is also similar to my tone and I think, with the correct display, I too could reflect the idea of nature hiding something more sinister in it’s repetition.

The ‘unknowing’ landscapes of Hertervig.

Perhaps I could talk about how it’s impossible, by sight, to pick out the locations of each of these walking tracks individually, and how anything could happen on any of these walking tracks. If there was no map, people would have no idea what is happening or where.

Perhaps I could position myself as a crazy detective, locating the spots of these sinister walking tracks on a hand crafted, dedicated map?

detective-crazy-wall-43

By using fairly ‘vintage’ tools – such as string, push-pins, printed paper and black & white imagery, I can reflect the timeless nature of the ‘mystery’ of the walking trails. My artwork could be from this year, or it could be from the serial killer super era of years gone by.

This is all really flouncy, but I love the way it’s headed. I’m off to build a ‘crazy detective wall’!

Exploration, location, reiteration.

Draft Statement:

My work explores repetition, location and nature. I did this by taking multiple photographs, altering images of maps, playing an ambient audio track and using coloured string to pull it all together and create a work that constructs an interpretation of my local area. The photographs, each from a slightly different location, display a similar thing – a beaten in walking track. These images, inspired by Long’s ‘Line Made by Walking’ (1967), demonstrate the repetitive and familiar pastime of exploring your local area and following the beaten trails. The locations of these photographs are then pointed out on a map with a piece of string and push pin, giving each ‘general area’ a different colour, adding vibrancy and difference to the work as a whole. These strings also highlight the fact that, no matter how similar the images are; they are in fact from different locations, on different days of adventure.

Criteria:

  • Aesthetically pleasing, with an obvious flow.
  • Able to see the influence of Long and Kallat’s work.
  • All pieces of the work together in a pleasing way; that makes sense and adds to each other.
  • Must evoke a sense of nature and the outdoors, calling to mind the exploration of bush walking.

Last week: Finalised idea, sourced locations, got a camera organised, found some images of maps I can use as a basis to manipulate for the centre of my work, finish off the ‘central’ image of the map.

This week (weekend): Go exploring! Take a whole bunch of photographs (at least 20) at each location, get map professionally printed, head to spotlight and purchase some push pins and a whole bunch of different coloured twine.

When art takes shape.

A couple of days ago I had a really inspiring class and, followed by some really productive brainstorming with a couple of classmates, I (finally!) came up with my idea for my assessment.

Richard Long / Line Made by Walking / 1967.

Richard Long / Line Made by Walking / 1967.

Inspired by this artwork, I began to brainstorm my ideas. I decided to go exploring and take photographs in a similar composition to Long’s, of multiple walking tracks in a variety of locations. These tracks would help serve my repetition and inspiration, but it was boring!

I then spoke to my little brainstorm group (Emily & Josh) about ways to further explore and display it, because it seemed so mundane and contrived. I thought perhaps I could some how map the different locations of the walking tracks, perhaps with string and an old school, colourful printed map (that would be manipulated by me) Something like perhaps this work by Reena Saini Kallat-

map

Untitled (Map/Drawing) | detail | 2011 | electric wires and fittings, 10 min audio loop |

Emily had the brilliant idea of perhaps tracking it on a system like Google Maps and making it interactive and digital. I’m not sure if I have the know-how for that, but it would be lots of fun to try! I’m thinking, perhaps, I could do both. Print out my images, attach them with string to the map, and have a laptop set up where you can physically pick and pull back the images from the various locations.

If anybody has some ideas, let me know! I’m very excited to develop this and have already started taking photos of my tracks 🙂

A (pretty) computer coding exercise.

My artwork was inspired by this blurred city skyline image:
(searches to find the original artist are ongoing).

linkedin-27

The colours, repeating shapes (particularly the circles) and overall tone of the image inspired me to further experiment. I began by overlaying the image with static circles (using a loop) with complimentary colours, but thought the end product was a little disjointed and boring. After the classwork on arrays I decided to add movement to my work, because I think the background image looks as though it is alive and moving. I repeated the circles and similar colour tones, and kept the array opaque so the other aspects could come through, but this layer gives a change single time you press play. Which I think is pretty gorgeous.

I was inspired by Ruth Palmer’s Circle Pattern Overlay II: her use of texture, staying within a particular colour scheme and the use of repetition to create a unique image out of pretty basic shapes and lines. I also found Bonseok Koo’s LED city nightscapes fascinating and definitely drew from them when deciding upon the tone and colouring of my work. Finally, Bridget Riley’s Encircling Discs with Black (1970) was the first repetitive, digital work I gained an active interest in and I took a lot of composition cues from that.

Here are some examples after I hit play:

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.03.50 am

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.03.25 am

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.01.59 am

The codes I used to inspire and guide me was the one used for loops. The tutorial for arrays and the Processing tutorials for utilizing and manipulating images.

Exported code:

int colNum = 5;
int colVal = 4;
int circleMax = 400;
int [] [] colArray =new int [colNum] [colVal];
//col val and num, extract hard data when possible.

void setup() {
//tells you width and height
size (900,900);
//white background
background (255);
//image inclusion here, repeating three times to fit screen, fitting horizontally on screen. Must save image as ” linkedin-27-jpg ” to desktop and the import the sketch into Processing.
noLoop();
PImage img = loadImage(“linkedin-27.jpg”);
image(img,0,0,900,300);
image(img,0,300,900,300);
image(img,0,600,900,300);
}
// In this loop,
// X starts at 50, and keeps going up by 20
// as long as it is still less than 500

void draw() {
{
//static circles, in centre of image. Not moving or changing colours
int a=0;
//size, rows and cols. also details what colours they will be
int diameter = 50;
int rows= 4;
int cols=4;
int [][] rgbValues = {
{163,55,180,45},
{237,129,214,80},
{61,242,241,70},
{222,120,30,60}
};

for (int x=0; x <rows; x++){
for (int y=0; y <cols; y++){
fill(rgbValues[a][1],rgbValues[a][0],rgbValues[a][2]);
a=a+1;
if (a>2){
a=0;

}
ellipse((x+1)*(width/(rows+1)),(y+1)*(height/(cols+1)),diameter,diameter);
}
}
}

//coloured circles, repeated. varied colours, using array, creating a moving image.
noStroke();
fillColourArray();
int size = (int)random(circleMax);
//grid size (whole screen)
int rows = 10;
int cols = 10;
for (int x=0; x <cols; x++) {
for (int y = 0; y <rows; y++) {
getColour();
//extraction of hard data, so changing the size of the screen should not negatively effect the drawing.
ellipse((x+1)*(width/(cols+1)),(y+1)*(height/(rows+1)),size, size);
}
}
}
void fillColourArray(){
for (int i=0; i < colNum; i++){
for (int j=0; j < colVal; j++) {

colArray[i][j]= (int)random(166);
}
}
}

void getColour(){
//changing colours code. values of ‘int’ are at the start of sketch
//circles are opaque so bottom image is seen.
int colSelect = (int)random(colNum);
fill(colArray[colSelect][0],colArray[colSelect][1],colArray[colSelect][2],colArray[colSelect][3]);
}

My interpretation of Bridget Riley’s ‘Encircling Discs with Black’.

So, I’ve never used Processing before, so I’m kind of flying blind (thanks tutorials!) and this is my interpretation of the artwork:

Not bad, no? I can’t get rid of the black lines around the circles though and I think there’s an element of transparency in the original work that I can’t quite grasp yet. I’m pretty proud though, not going to lie 😉

My process was pretty much just this;

fill (255, 154, 59);
ellipse(160, 160, 150, 150);
fill(252, 140, 221);
ellipse(160,160, 130, 130);
fill (55, 237, 226);
ellipse(160, 160, 110, 110);
fill (250, 245, 230);
ellipse(160, 160, 90, 90);

But changing the colours and positioning. I know there was probably a loop I could use but I am REALLY not that advanced yet.

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 9.48.03 pm

Gutenberg’s Printing Press

It is almost impossible to imagine the world without Gutenberg’s Printing press. It revolutionised the way the written word was circulated throughout the world, lead to book printing being seen as an ‘art form’ with it’s varying typographies and helped usher in the “Printing Revolution” – a period of time when the printing press facilitated the widespread circulation of news, information and ideas and was seen as an “agent of change” throughout societies and to the people that it’s message reached (Eisenstein 1980).

How the original Printing Press would have looked. Credit

Johannes Gutenberg did not live in a vacuum and his invention was made possible, largely, because of the maturing technologies of his time. The rapid economic and industrial development of late medieval society in Europe meant that an invention that proved most useful to the Printing press’s development, the screw press – which enabled direct pressure to be applied onto a flat plane, was already in use throughout society (Marshall 2011) and was even seen as ‘antiqued’. It was Gutenberg’s understanding of this procedure, and his ability to alter the design and construction of the press to allow elasticity and an exertion of even pressure across the paper that made his version of the printing press possible. Gutenberg also sped up the printing process significantly by designing movable tables underneath the plane surface to allow the sheets to be quickly removed and changed (Wolf 1974, p36). The mechanization of paper production in the early 13th century (Burns 1996), and the ability to mass-produce this resource, was another vital factor in the creation of Gutenberg’s press. The way Gutenberg combined these previous technologies with his own innovations to create something completely unique and extremely useful is why some scholars, such as Stehpan Füssel, call him a “genius” (2001).

Perhaps one of the most fundamental ways the printing press changed the way we transmit and translate information was the use of the ‘codex’ format in the printing press, as opposed to the scroll format more commonly used in medieval times. This transition, from ancient scroll to documents that closely resemble our books of today, is considered the single most important advance in the history of book printing (Roberts & Skeat 1983, p75). This codex format has a significant impact on the way the information being copied is transmitted to people as it was more convenient to read and transport, less costly to print and more compact then it’s scroll predecessor. Perhaps most vitally, however, the codex was easier to copy and, unlike the scroll, both recto and verso (back and front!) could be used for writing and printing.

An example of codex. A Gutenberg Bible on display. Credit

Asides from these innovations, we must remember that Gutenberg’s technology was not without it’s limitations and many inventors, such as Koenig and his Flatbed Cylinder Press, tried to improve upon the original invention. It must also be remembered that the idea of printing was not anything particularly new. Before Gutenberg, there was a series of inventions that allowed printing; including the use of woodblocks, which was popular in the Holy Roman Empire (Burland 2013) and had actually originated in China in the 7th Century before migrating to Europe (Chappell 2011).

Despite this it is clear that Gutenberg’s Printing Press had a revolutionary impact on the way society receives, copies and transmits it’s information. If the invention is considered through American media theorist Neil Postman’s ‘Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change’ (1998), it is clear that the effect is massive. Postman’s first ideas, that all technological change is a trade off, is obvious regarding the printing press as it has been argued that the invention led to a decline in the handwritten word and the tradition of handing down stories and histories orally (Norman 2004). Postman’s second and third ideas, when related to the printing press, can be seen as entwined:

2) That the advantages and disadvantages of new technologies are never distributed evenly among the population and

3) Embedded in every new technology there is a powerful idea that is often hidden, raising the valuable question of “what are the consequences of this technology?”

It can be argued that those in society, with the money to operate the printing presses on a large-scale, have a say in what is being printed and circulated to the masses and therefore control ‘the narrative’ being passed down through their copies. This can be seen even in today’s society, with Rupert Murdoch’s massive media conglomerate News Corp being frequently accused of bias in reporting and censorship in their stories (Kehoe 2014). Postman’s fourth “thing we need to know” is that technology is ecological, not addictive, and that each new invention is not just adding to the technological ecological environment, it is completely changing it, just as the printing press did when it was invented in 1440. The media, printing and technological landscapes were forever changed by this one piece of equipment. This massive, defining influence leads us into the fifth idea of Postman’s; that media tends to become “mythic” and a “god-given” right to the masses. The Printing press has certainly fallen into that category, as a society, and as individuals, we take the printed word for granted and expect it to always be accessible.

An example of Murdoch’s News Corp illustrating Postman’s ideas 2 & 3. Credit

References:

Burland, J 2013, ‘Gutenberg’s The Invention’, Gutenberg’s Invention, <online> Viewed 17/08/15 at < http://www.gutenberg.de/english/erfindun.htm>

Burns, R I, 1996, “Paper comes to the West, 800–1400”, in Lindgren, Uta, Europäische Technik im Mittelalter. 800 bis 1400. Tradition und Innovation (4th ed.), Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, pp. 413–422, ISBN 3-7861-1748-9

Chappell, P 2011, ‘Gutenberg’s press revisited: invention and renaissance in the modern world’, Agora, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 26 – 30.

Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. (1980), The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-29955-1

Füssel, S 2001, ‘Gutenberg and today’s media change’, Publishing Research Quarterly, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 3 – 10.

Kehoe, J 2014, ‘Julia Gillard blasts ‘biased’ Murdoch News Corp’, Australian Financial Review, Oct 28 2014, viewed 18/08/15 at < http://www.afr.com/business/media-and-marketing/publishing/julia-gillard-blasts-biased-murdoch-news-corp-20141027-11ctmj>

Marshall, P 2011, ‘A History of Communications: Media and Society from the Evolution of Speech to the Internet.’ Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-521-17944-7.

Norman, J 2004, ‘2. Transitional Phases in the Form and Function of the Book before Gutenberg’, <online>, viewed 17/08/15 at < http://www.historyofinformation.com/narrative/oral-to-written-culture.php>

Postman, N 1998, ‘Five things we need to know about technological change’, Denver, Colorado, 28th March 1998, viewed 17/08/15 at <http://web.cs.ucdavis.edu/~rogaway/classes/188/materials/postman.pdf>

Roberts, C H & Skeat, T C, 1983, The Birth of the Codex, London: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-726024-1

Wolf, H-J, 1974, Geschichte der Druckpressen (1st ed.), Frankfurt/Main: Interprint