MA Tutorial report form Monday 28 March 2011

MA Tutorial report form
Date; Monday 28 March 2011
Name; Jonathan Holden
Tutor: Caroline


Reflection on outcomes since last tutorial

I have started writing more about my own work, and trying to find some “themes” to explore. This includes trying to understand monuments and memorials. Immortality is an idea I need to explore further, and possibly euthanasia as an example of forming society. Gilbert and George "We have no interest in reflecting or showing society - we are only interested in forming it."

As it is only a week since my last tutorial, I am going to keep these three
Current projected aims and outcomes:
1. To write much more, much more reflexively, about my work.
2. To continue to experiment with Abstract Heads, and to document this carefully.
3. To plan and execute some “shows” of my work.

and add:
4. To read up about Ralph Bernabei and Horizon Gallery, and explore the kinds of questions typically asked of artists.
5. To find and read some academic work which will inform this
6. To explore galleries in Barcelona where I would like to show my work.

Discussion and recommendations

We discussed the idea of strategies, particularly commercial strategies for positioning art practice with respect to Horizon Gallery and Ralph Bernabei, which I have chosen as my case study. There seems to be little outward marketing of the gallery (a few press releases in the local press, but no web presence). Is it possible that intrigue and exclusivity are important for the gallery? In my assessed piece I have to be sure to bring depth, not just give an overview.

It might be a good strategy to interview Ralph and Silvy separately, to loose the dynamic between the two and thus maybe shed more light on each other and the gallery.

We talked about envy, as being a good tool for personal goal setting. But this may mean that I have rose-coloured glasses on my view. During this interviewing process envy may be lost, or indeed may grow.

We then moved on to talk about how artists make money, and the role of the gallery. I need to look at galleries and what they show, and to research arts organisation before submitting work to them. Which galleries do I identify with? Which would I like my work to be seen in? How are they appreciated, responded to, looked at with a critical eye? What is it about the gallery that I like? How successful is it as a gallery, and what is the public perception of it?

With respect to art submissions I need to think about what the organisation normally does, what type of work it is likely to be looking for. Sometimes it’s a good idea NOT to submit a proposal if there is no clear overlap with my own work. As for budget, it should include a fee, materials and production costs, expenses and external technical skills. They are looking for project management skills too.

Keep an eye out for calls for artists in AN etc., but also identify galleries where I would like to show my work, and see if they have an open submission policy. Be strategic about moving work forward commercially and publicly.

One other idea, linked to Angela’s idea of having an Open Studio, is to invite a curator to create an exhibition, and to invite a VIP list of gallerists.

Finally I asked about the assignment. It is to be formal and referenced, with supporting research and documentation. This documentation should be creative and might be a log of the journey to and from the interview, interviews scripts, or a film or recordings of the interview.

Caroline will be sending assessment criteria.

(There was also one other reading, I think from McNiff, that Caroline was going to send).

MA Tutorial report form Monday 21 March 2011

Tutor: Angela


Reflection on outcomes since last tutorial

> I am feeling a little more relaxed about the course, though I still don´t feel completely au fait with the “big picture” of this year´s units.
> I have started to build an online relationship with some of the other students, and I hope that we will start feeling much more like a community soon.
> I have done lots of reading (I love the Tápies library), but I need to start writing more reflexively about my own work.


Current projected aims and outcomes:
1. To write much more, much more reflexively, about my work.
2. To continue to experiment with Abstract Heads, and to document this carefully.
3. To plan and execute some “shows” of my work.


Discussion and recommendations

Take Two Influences: Technical - could have used tape cut thinner, or double width stuck together, or made circles, curves, balls. Good to use an influence that I don´t like (Bridget Riley). Need to photograph a sculpture from different angles to document it in 3D. Likes the gawky, new-born lamb feel to this work.

I guess the reason I didn´t manipulate the tape is because I see the lines on AHs as being monogeneous. Not irrelevant, but not needing form of their own. I can see that this might change as I start to use the lines of AH, rather than the planes, to create work, especially “Calders”. I certainly need to document work more carefully, and to reflect on it. I´m certainly not frighted of using influences that I don´t like, but of course I discovered while looking at Riley´s work that I do, in fact, like it, and it has possibilities for finding the visual language I need for my “Mies” series.

Abstract Heads Experiments: think about the difference between relief and 3D sculpture. How do you show 3D, by reference or reality? (by reference = making things smaller that are supposed to be further away). One of the most successful experiments could be described as derivative but that may be why it is successful. It engaged with 3 dimensions in a more dynamic way then the reliefs and the surfaces were less uniform. Am I too dependant on Abstract Heads?

I certainly need to explore dimensions more in my work, but these are early days, and this will come out of a natural playing with the subject. The works are very derivative. As I mentioned in the tutorial, this is a series of work that I started some 5 years ago, and it is something that I will continue to explore for the next 50 years. Having the constrictions of the square, the size (though I have a feeling this may change as I try new materials and sculptural forms), the question of what to include or leave out, but the opportunities of use of colour, material (wait until I do my first bronze “Abstract Head”!!) there is a whole life of work just in this series.

Think about what kind of risks could you take, what might feel unsafe?

Concrete Sculptures (Untitled Series): These have integrity, completeness, materialness, mass.

Which is a very different perspective to Emma´s! I´ll choose to see them very positively, and to display them on plinths in Barcelona as Graffiti Sculpture.

Writing about my own work: not deep enough. Need to look at all aspects, and write reflexively about them.

Get out of the library, and start writing your own! Post tutorial conversation. You could use the questions you identified to look at others work to reflect on your own work.

Exhibiting work: organise an open studio event. Talked about “graffiti sculpture” possibilities. Look at the work of Lulu Allison just because she places her pieces outside in public and they have a temporary existence.

There is an “Open Studio” planned for May, but I might organise a dinner in the studio when I complete another series of “AH” paintings.

Consider being more intentional or pro-active about the role of the gallery and audience in your practice. Post conversation, look at artist Rirkrit Tiravanija and his events based around giving people food and hosting meals.

On Monuments.

I think art might be the memory of the future. It´s an idea I am going to pursue for a while, especially with respect to my Abstract Heads series. I like words like profound and serendipity and architecture and immortality and modern (in it´s old fashioned sense, before "contemporary" took over.

The interesting thing about Abstract Heads is that they abstract the essence of a person from their face. It´s not about expression, impression, construction, poverty, dadactics, cubes, or anything else. And it´s certainly not about now. It is about creating an immortal image.

Einstein was 26 when he posited relativity (it´s not about relationships). But his immortal image is from when he was an older man. It was all relatively downhill for him. My images cut through age, specificity, the known, to create an unknown. Making the known, unknown. They are not about death, which is specific and very well known. It is not about the afterlife, as there is none. It is simply about immortality. These paintings and sculptures are monuments to memory. Timeless and out of time.

Monuments are obvious. A cross, a gravestone, a Nelson´s column. Monuments are memories of people or events. I want to create memories of monuments.

So how is this expressed in my art? Well, for one, no one can recognise themselves from their Abstract Head triptych. It is, and it is not them, at the same time. It is their personal Schrödinger's cat. The arrangement of the triptych is not important, and can be vertical, horizontal or diagonal (like your own personal ducks on a wall). As long as the viewer is moving and moved, I am content.

Making a rough cyclopean wall from the planes of an Abstract Head creates an unstable structure. Infill could be used, but would spoilt the aesthetic. Many thousands of other permutations are possible with the same dozen or so pieces, but one that I will be exploring a little more is the "natural graveyard". In this way, each piece of the monument takes on its own life, memorialising a separate part of the whole life. "Letting the whole world in."

Visual methodologies: an introduction to the interpretation of visual materials

Visual methodologies
Visual methodologies: an introduction to the interpretation of visual materials
Gillian Rose
Publisher: London ; Sage, 2001.
ISBN: 0761966641 DDC: 302.23 LCC: P93.5

Compositional Interpretation

The good eye approach, builds on years of experience, attributing art to artists, schools, styles, sources, and influences, and then judging their quality. p.34

I personally reject this as a concept because it is elitist in its approach.

However, the power of the image must not be subordinated to the theoretical debates in which its interpretation is embedded. Adequate visual scrutiny should be used with other types of analysis so that what you literally see is related to reception, meaning and content. p.37

Not only composition, but also production (including the social modality (who commissioned the work etc. ) ) ownership etc. (provenance)

It is perhaps only useful to describe the techniques of production when this helps describe a particular characteristic of the work.

Composition as a schematic device (few components are completely distinct.)

Content - this may be obvious, and perhaps literally so, but not iconographically. "Take some time to be sure you are sure what you think an image is showing" p.39

Colour - hue, saturation, value. Are the colours harmonious? see John Gage colour theories 1993

Spatial Organisation - the organisational space "within" an image and the viewing position of the spectator are separate things. First then, volumes in an image - relationships, connections, lines, directions, rhythm is static or dynamic. Second the spaces around the volumes - width, depth, interval, distance. "Perspective depends on a geometry of rays of vision, and your eye is central to this geometry" p.40 (this often assumes there is a single viewpoint - that you have one eye. I have two separate eyes, and for this reason my work is about making the viewer move, changing his viewpoint physically.) But having a single eye-level is seen as normal, and having two eye-levels seems strange and incoherent. It is only one part of the toolbox, but, "perspective provides a benchmark for thinking about the representation of space in any particular image" p.42

Draw a summary diagram of the image... look for edges and where lines intersect

Logic of figuration (Holly 1996) suggests that "we stand where the work tells us to stand, and we see what they choose to reveal. The position of the viewer is designed by the spatial organisation of the work. (p.44) Angle, Height and Distance are all important in determining our contact with t he painting. Frontal angles are more engaging than oblique. Looking down on the work gives us power over the subject. Pictures in close up give us intimacy with the subject.

Focalizers are those looks in the picture from the point of view of the inhabitants of the image. Where are they looking? Can we see what they are looking at? What is the relationship between the people in the image?

Light - can enhance or call into question the 3D spatial quality of a work. e.g. consistent shadows from a window.

Expressive Content.
The first section deals with objective(ish) notions of composition. but what about the affective characteristics? Expressive content is not about meaning of the image. Words like "comfortably", "gingerly" and "solemn" to describe the actions and pathos of subjects in a painting.

Is there a Kantian aesthetic; one which argues for an intrinsic characteristic of the work of art? Or is art culturally dependant? And don´t we need to look at both cultures; the time of production, and the time of reception? p 47

This approach to a work is great for works which are new to you, and to describe the visual impact of an image. However, it does not lead to discussion of the production of an image, nor reflexivity that considers any particular interpretation. It relies on notions of connoisseurship, genius, Art, and has no interest in the social practices of visual images.

Chapter 3 - Content Analysis

analyse the content of a wide range of pictures looking for patterns.

1. finding images: Must address all the images relevant to the research question, but this may be too large a sample, so we need to be representative, and sampling will be needed. 4 ways to sample: random (using random number table) stratified (using subgroups that already exist, choose a picture from each subgroup. systematic (every 3rd, 10th or nth image, taking care with possible cycles within images). cluster (choose groups at random and sample only from them.

sample size depends on variation of images - if there is no variation, a sample of one is sufficient.

2. devising categories for coding - categories should be apparently objective, describing what is really there in the image. this can be qualitative, however, by choosing categories that relate to the theoretical concerns of the research. categories must be 1. exhaustive (every aspect of the images will be covered by the research) 2. exclusive (categories must not overlap) 3. enlightening (analytically interesting and coherent)

where do you devise codes? from the research question, from the theoretical and empirical literature from which the research question was formulated, from the familiarity you have with the images. initial category codes must be trialled to see that they conform to being exhaustive and exclusive

Content analysis must be replicable... any research at any time must give the same codes to the same images. again, a pilot is needed to secure this.

analysing the results: frequency counts; comparison of frequency with time, relationships between different coding categories. the results of content analysis need to be understood within a wider context to make sense of them.

issues: content analysis can lend rigour and consistency to large scale qualitative research projects, but numbers do not easily translate into significance (for example, "certain representations of what is visible depend on other things being constructed as their invisible opposite; and content analysis is incapable of addressing these invisible others. " Rose 2001 p. 66

cannot discriminate between a weak and strong example of codes in different images.

there is no correlation between elements of the image (which seems to be quite important in how an image works) and it cannot articulate the expressive content of an image.

content analysis ignores the site of production of an image, and the site of audiencing. You can talk to producers of images, and audiences, and you may find that their understanding of the images is very different not only from each other, but from the "objective" approach of content analysis, there is no reflexivity involved.

Hermeneutics as a visual methodology ????
Discourse Analysis 1

Foucault´s theoretical arguments: "Discourse has a quite specific meaning. It refers to a group of statements that structure the way a thing is thought, and the way we act on the basis of that thinking. In other words, discourse is a particular knowledge about the world which shapes how the world is understood and how things are done in it." p. 136

so... Art is "not certain kinds of visual images but the knowledges, institutions, subjects and practices which work to define certain images as art and others as not art. Discourses are articulated through all sorts of visual and verbal images and texts, specialised or not, and also through the practices that those languages permit." p. 136

Intertextuality is the idea that no image stands by itself, but is understood through the meanings carried by other images.

Discourse is powerful because it is productive; it gives subjects certain ways of thinking and acting, it produces the world as it understands it. It seems to me that this is a cyclical, self-referential system, but as the "whole" system (i.e. everyone in the world, or even a subset of that e.g. everyone in the art world (or even smaller subsets) is huge (and even if there are only two people in the "world" I would still argue that it is huge) then this power is not imposed "from the top of society down onto its oppressed bottom layers" p.137 but that power is everywhere, since discourse is everywhere. And where there is power, there is resistance.

It seems to me that the whole "Is it Art?" debate is the friction between different discourse groups who want to believe they hold the truth (even if they say there is no "truth"). And of course, claims of truth shift historically.

Discourse Analysis I

"discourse as articulated through various kinds of visual images and verbal texts" p.140

[Discourse Analysis II pays "more attention to the practices of institutions" p.140]

The "discourse analyst is interested in how images construct accounts of the social world" p. 140
This is then in the area of social modality of the image site (see Rose chapter 1). As all discourse tries to be persuasive, discourse analysis focuses on looking at strategies of persuasion.

Discourse Analysis pays attention to two of the three "critical approaches" that Rose argues for in Chapter 1 - it takes images seriously, paying close attention to them, and it looks at social production (conditions) and effect. It does not, however, concern itself with questions of reflexivity. "do not ask me who I am and do not ask me to remain the same: leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order" (Foucault, 1972:17) p.141

Finding Sources: all sorts of sources are needed in DA - and "this eclecticism is demanded by the intertextuality of discourse." p.143 This breadth of material means that you need to be selective about your starting points. Look for ones that will be particularly productive or interesting. But then you will need to widen your "range of archives and sites", which may lead to serendipity, which is useful in DA as this leads to bringing together, convincingly, material previously seen as unrelated. This can be time consuming, and it is difficult to know where to stop collecting data. But it is quality of data that is important, not quantity.

Iconography (a method by Erwin Panofsky) is "that branch of the history of art which concerns itself with the subject matter or meaning of works of art, as opposed to their form." (p.144)

Western figurative paintings of the 16th to 18th centuries relied on a list of icons (motifs, allegories, personifications) that would be consulted by the artist making the work, and by the audience of the work to interpret it. Almost everything in a painting could be interpreted in one way or another, down to the very colours used in the clothes worn. Rose argues that using sources such as alchemy books and referring to other paintings of marriages (in the example cited in her book) but I would also regard a reasonable knowledge of biblical (and apocryphal) myths to be important too. DA, then, requires a use of a variety of source material.

Exploring the rhetorical organization of discourse: read and look at sources with fresh eyes. Pre-existing ideas must be held in suspense. Look and look again at the images. Identify key themes (though remember that these may not be the most often occurring themes) and use these to analyse images (See chapter 3). Think about connections between key words and images. look at how words or images are - given specific meanings. clustered together. connections between clusters.

As compared to content analysis, DA is more flexible as it assumes that new questions, new categories will arise from the analysis, and so inform your ideas, and guide your investigations. It is looking for truth (and claims to truth may come from a variety of sources, including scientific certainty, religion or the natural way of things). But "truth" can be rejected, and so in DA it is important too look for conflicting ideas, contradictions, uncertainties. Absences, too, can be as productive as explicit naming, "invisibility can have just as powerful affects as visibility" (p.158)

a nice example is The Cockney. seen as white, despite the constant presence of large black communities in the East End, after the so called race riots of 1958 race could not be made invisible so easily, and so the idea of cockney fades as a meaningful cultural category.

DA is a rigorous discipline that relies on a profound reading of the texts, rather than adherence to formal procedures.

Summary of strategies:

1. looking at your sources with fresh eyes.
2. immersing yourself in your sources.
3. identifying key themes in your sources.
4. examining their effects of truth.
5. paying attention to their complexity and contradictions.
6. looking for the invisible as well as the visible.
7. paying attention to details.

Take care though, because sources come from social institutions. e.g. sources from Victorian England will have been made by educated, wealthy individuals who can make images, photos, print books; not from uneducated, poor people.

There are some strengths and weaknesses to DA as a research approach. See p. 161 ff.

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Christian Boltanski

Sunset Chapel..... An Abstract Head, No?

From an Artist's Perspective

From an Artist's Perspective
Aeneas Bastian,
Publisher: Kerber
ISBN: 3866783639 DDC: 701 Edition: Hardcover; 2010-08-30

What is Art?

"I would say looking for something we have already known, so it is always contradictory, for example, finding new stars is not only finding or discovering, but recognizing something you missed. For me art is like recovering eye sights." Tam Ochiai on the question "What is art?" p.143

"A void which fills something that we miss" Ernesto Neto p. 139

"Art is the future of believing. The future for me is beautiful." Terence Koh p.95

"It´s a quiet witness when everyone else is talking." Bharti Kher p.91

"Art is the assertion of form." Thomas Hirschhorn p.86

Talking art: interviews with artists since 1976

"Obviously a drawing of a person is not a real person, but a drawing of a line is a real line."

Sol LeWitt


Talking art
Talking art: interviews with artists since 1976
edited by Patricia Bickers and Andrew Wilson
Publisher: London : Art Monthly : 2007.
ISBN: 1905464045 DDC: 709.22 LCC: N6490 Edition: (pbk.)

How to bring out the meaning in your work

Isn't the point that we all bring our own experiences to bear on a piece of work? If we have the language of the "professional" artist, we can use that, if we are a "man-on-the-street" then we bring that. Gilbert and George claim to be creating art for the common man, complaining that the work they were exposed to at college was elitist. One of the most interesting things I have discovered by doing this course is that as an artist matures, so their art somehow seems to speak more clearly, but with fewer "words".

Isn't it for the curators and the critics to write the words that "explain" and "bring out the meaning" to the work? Your job as an artist is to make the art speak without words. That's why I don't care if people like my work or not. If they don't understand it, that's because their experience is different to mine. If they do like and understand it, they certainly won't understand it the way I do. They are not me.

One of my favourite art quotes is from RB Kitaj, that art should "let the whole world in". So for my own criticism, I'm happy if I love a work completely, but I think it's unlikely that there are many works out there that can actually achieve this. But we should strive for this as artists. When Picasso started doing crazy-shit paintings he wasn't letting anyone in. He didn't even understand or like the work much himself. But 100 years later we look at Les demoiselles d'avignon, and we can all understand and appreciate it, because we have a shared experience.

And that's another point from Gilbert and George... they are making work to influence the next generation, to change the moral fabric of society, in much the same way that Oscar Wilde or DH Lawrence did. We read them with little real understanding of the antagonism they created, because society has changed. In 100 years, Gilbert and George will be seen in much the same "what was the controversy?" light.

If you want your work to have meaning, look at it. Ask yourself if it does have meaning. Does it speak to you without words? I'm always a little suspicious of artworks that have an A4 page of writing interpreting them (though I don't mind some socio-political background to help place the work in a period of time). If your work makes you feel something, but you can't describe that feeling, then maybe that is all you can hope for.

I think this would be a nice exercise of all of us... to put up a piece of work and ask everyone to comment on the feelings, thoughts, ideas, beliefs, concepts etc. that WE bring to the work. That will tell you whether the work has meaning or not.

For example, Clare's Pigeon Feet is one of the most... grr... I can't even think of the words.... but hey, that's great. I respond to that work on some primal level which is before words even work. It's incredible. I could talk about the colour, the absence of bodies, the symbolism of feet, the path of crumbs (Gingerbread House?) or stones (which way am I going in life?). But that's the curator's or critic's job. I want art to mean something to me without the words.

What Counts? Submission

JD Holden

Proposal for “What Counts?” Micro-Commission £350

One strand of my work is about looking at the human face in Abstract Form. Finding an arrangement of simple lines to describe a face, I then create a triptych of 40x40cm paintings, using a simple colour scheme chosen to reflect the personality or style of the subject. I am interested in finding that unique structure of lines that not only draw on the essence of the form and volume of the human face, reduced to two dimensions, but which also create a dynamic balance in the final painting. This is always done with a live model, and never with a photograph, and it will often take up to 20 initial sketches before I find the finished composition. In effect, I am trying to catch what I believe to be the essence of the person, abstracting that into a permanent work. (see Abstract Heads)

So what counts? I reduce a whole person to just a few lines and colours. Clearly this is just an abstract representation of the person, and yet, somehow, it becomes much more than this.

Face recognition software works by through a two step process. First is “Face Detection” which decides is there is indeed a face in the photograph, and then goes on to look at angle of head due to poise etc. The next step is “Face Recognition”. “A number of factors make this a challenging problem for computers. Faces in images and video can be captured at various resolutions, quality, and lighting conditions. Moreover, people’s facial expressions as well as their pose...can vary widely, and facial characteristics can change dramatically as people age.” (

So what counts? Face Recognition Software (FRS) reduces a person to a highly sophisticated algorithm.

But identity is much more than what we look like. It is how we dress, who our friends are, what we do. Google Picasa Face Recognition software identifies and tags individuals and then we can use Face Movie to create a movie from this data. “Face Movie analyzes the faces in your selected photos to find the smoothest transitions across facial expressions and poses.” (From Google Picasa Support)

The most interesting aspect of Face Movie from the perspective of this project is that it does not just display the individual in the Face Movie, but rather the individual as the centre of the movie. This means that the context of the photo can be clearly seen, along with friends and family, place, activities etc.

And FRS is not perfect. Google Picasa identifies a number of images incorrectly. Rather than removing these images, I will leave them in the Face Movie. (See quick edit here, watch from 1:00 on)

This project then, asks the audience to think about what makes a person who they are. What really counts? Is it just what I look like. Is it about how I style my hair? Is it the friends I keep? The places I go? The things I do?

The proposal is to create between 4 and 6 high resolution one-minute Face Movies of myself, my family and friends, taken from an archive of photos from the last decade, including pertinent images of my “Abstract Heads” paintings. A self-portrait Abstract Head will need to be created for that film.

Permissions will need to be sought from all the “actors” in the movies.

Curriculum Vitae

Visual Enquiry and Research Methods - The Reflexive Practitioner.

What is it to be human.
Reflexology is pro-active, forward thinking. I wake myself up. I paint myself.
Learning happens during normal working practice.
Look at the way you work. Know where to position your work.
You may be confessional, but keep your distance.
Look at processes and objects objectively, even though art comes from the subjective self.
Do new things. Practice art research. Follow curiosity.
Don't become slick, recycling your own style or following dead-end practices.

ENVY points you to where you want to be.

What is your studio for? What do you do in your studio? What do you do that you don't want to do? How do you set up your studio? Is it working for you?

Experience > Observe > Evaluate > Rethink > Plan > Experience II >>> Iterations

Observations and reflective strategies.
> move it
> sit with it
> draw it
> photograph it and draw on the photo
> write with metaphor and ask questions
> put it in a different environment
> place it next to other work


How do you know if your work works?

Outside the studio:
Understand the field of Fine Art. Who does it, where is it produced? Where and when are works experienced or consumed? Evaluation by critics, specialist magazines, media, galleries, auctions.

Intentions of Art > it does not solve real world problems.

Be open to new and multiple interpretations of artworks. Debate and discuss processes and the meanings that come out of them. Question the contexts in which art is made.

Recognise and acknowledge whose work you are building on.
Be transparent in your methods and open about your methodology.
Be rigorous in your recording.
Be prepared to justify your methods.
Don't confuse effort and quantity with quality.
Be careful of using theory to justify artwork.
Be modest in your claims.
Be honest with yourself.

Finding Abstract Heads...

Cornelia Parker

Cornelia Parker
Cornelia Parker: the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Parker, Cornelia
Publisher: Boston : ICA, c2000.
ISBN: 0910663572

Interviewed by Bruce Ferguson, October 1999

"There is one piece where I drowned souvenir models of famous monuments in my bathwater, the blocked up the gutter. I think it´s an early avoided object. It exists only as a photograph and has never been seen by anyone, it´s only been in a catalogue, and it´s one of my favourite pieces." p.46-47

"I don´t want to make art about art." p.47

"That was the only available space." p.47 (on hanging art)

"I don´t often read about art, I look at art, but I don´t really want to saturate myself with the theory of it. I get my inspiration from reading about science in the newspaper, or perusing objects in the street market. I´ve learned more about sculptural space or technique in the real world than in sculpture class." p51

"..but if it´s a lump, like dogma, you find it indigestible, it´s hard to absorb." p.52

"When you think about the history of sculpture and all these monuments, they´re fixed, they´re made to last. Works of art last for longer than the artist, they get reinterpreted over and over by various generations of people." p.52

James Fenton on Cornelia Parker


I want to make things, not concepts. I want to make beautiful things that resonate with people. I want people to understand without words. I want to create an instantly recognisable visual language. I want people to look at my works and say "Ah, that just must be a jdholden". I want to create monuments. I want to create resonance. I want writers and critics to find the words.

resonance (ˈrɛzənəns) — n
1. the condition or quality of being resonant
2. sound produced by a body vibrating in sympathy with a neighbouring source of sound
3. the condition of a body or system when it is subjected to a periodic disturbance of the same frequency as the natural frequency of the body or system. At this frequency the system displays an enhanced oscillation or vibration

resonance (rěz'ə-nəns)
Oscillation induced in a physical system when it is affected by another system that is itself oscillating at the right frequency.

resonate (ˈrɛzəˌneɪt)
— vb (often foll by with ) (foll by with )
1. to resound or cause to resound; reverberate
2. (of a mechanical system, electrical circuit, chemical compound, etc) to exhibit or cause to exhibit resonance
3. to be understood or receive a sympathetic response: themes which will resonate with voters
4. to be filled with: simple words that seem to resonate with mystery and beauty

Abstract Heads Experiments

I´ve been busy with some other experiments; three new "Abstract Heads" minitures in charcoal and gouache (Lady with the Blue Glasses, Edmon and Alberto) and a couple of wood sculptures of Self Portrait and Edmon. I've also started a plaster model of Self Portrait. There are a few random photos of graffiti which reflect this style of work too.

Opportunities to show my work in public in Barcelona

1. Graffiti - either traditional, or sculpture graffiti
2. "Vanity" galleries (50-100 euros for space and "marketing")
3. Open Studio (but I don't know if there is such a thing in L'Hospitalet)
4. Online
5. In "Le Cool" and other online magazines
6. Artist in residence in local business
7. Work with local artists
8. In bars such as Elefanta and Sueca and Stoke
9. In Civic centres
10. Home Gallery
11. In people´s homes.... a personal guide....
12. In my home....

Conversation with Bridget Riley

The Eye's mind
The Eye's mind: Bridget Riley: collected writings
edited by Robert Kudielka
Publisher: Thames & Hudson, 1999.
ISBN: 0500281653 DDC: 709.2

"Mondrian is not at all interested in that type of expressive quality, in the Gestalt characteristics of his means, but very much in what is going on visually in his painting. This is a central aspect of his "realism". Whenever anyone puts some colours, some lines, some forms onto a flat surface, they look as though they were [sic] taking up different positions in space. All painters know this: it is always confusing and chaotic at first and has to be sorted out. There are weights, pressures tensions, all kinds of conflicting forces, and it is Mondrian´s great achievement that he tackled these head on. With his elements he built coherent visual realities, using pictorial forces and contrasts as an integral part of his order.

"In this respect, if one can put Abstraction as such on hold, Mondrian works in principle as any painter would who follows in Giotto´s footsteps. Giotto´s great contribution (so much venerated by by Matisse) was to build a painting as a place in its own right through the distinction of spaces, the massing of forms, the creating of areas of repose and friction. His depiction of humanist realities grew quite naturally out of his organisation of pictorial realities as the primary task. There are no rules for this sort of building: the forms of organisation can be as diverse as are those of Masaccio, Titian, Poussin, Rembrandt or Cezanne - as long as each pictorial world draws its power and conviction from having been built. " p.195

Bridget Riley
Bridget Riley: recent paintings and gouaches
[essay, Marla Prather; conversation, Lynne Cooke and Bridget Riley]
Publisher: New York City : PaceWildensten, c2007.
ISBN: 1930743807 LCC: ND497

In Conversation with Lynne Cooke

"Because my work is based on enquiry, studies are my chief method of exploration and my way into paintings. That is to say, when I start, i don´t have an aim or an image in mind for how the painting is going to look. I explore the potentail of an element, and then gradually several elements. As I moved on, I introduced colours, different forms of structures and so on. When I started to do studies at the beginning of the 1960s few other artists made preparatory works. Most people felt that they were not spontaneuos, or sufficiently informal; it was thought that any form of preparation was somehow a bit inartistic. But I just felt - I didn´t just feel, I knew from all the evidence of what was to be seen in museums - that drawing adn preparatory work has always played a large part in an artist´s practice. So, I persevered in various ways with whatever elements I was then studying." p. 16

"Klee saw [abstraction] as the true basis of picture making, as something that could be continued into figuration or develop itself as an art form." p.20

"The real purpose of painting now was to convey sensations. As making moved further and furthere away from trying to master external reality, it seemed to me an inevitable step to lay my own hands aside and ask someone to paint the work out. It didn´t need to be one particular person, it could be anybody, anybody whom I had trained to apply the paint without emphasis and with no trace of handling.

In England at that time there was a certain love of amateurism. Amateurism was seen to be part of the hallmark of sincerity. Being not commercial, it seemed to ensure a certain kind of purity. But along with that were things that were badly made, and generally ticky-tacky. I was not going to have what we thought of in England at that time as a piece of "fine art". And so I had considerable pleasure in making a hardboard panel, using household paint and even washing the painting with a little Ajax if it got dirty. That little rebellion against handling was one gesture alongside others I was making then.

Over the years my assistants have been extremely good; very tactful, understanding and capable. The thing that I chiefly ask of them is that they don´t tell me what they think: I don´t want their views. Being sensitive they know quite well that when one is in any kind of uncertainty, as one inevitably is when one is working, that one is extremely open to suggestion, and so one can be...not exactly misled...but one can find oneself responding to something that one actually doesn´t want to respond to. Their tolerance has been crucial. Also crucial is the fact that they help me establish distance. the way that I work means that I am, inevitably, my own spectator. Since the spectator who looks at my work is part of the work itself, it helps very greatly to be as objective as I possibly can. For me, distance can be established by just going into another studio, or by an interval of time, or by the detachment that results from not having painted out a big cartoon of myself.

Above all, the freedom that they make possible has made me sharpen my focus. By paring away so many of the little jobs, props and sidetracks, I was left with very, very stark facts. I was pushed into tight corners - which was demanding but good." p.17

Why did I think Riley´s work was all optical illusions?

Gilbert and George: Living Art?

How do you clean your floor?

What would you sing on your plinth?

How do you spell "Urethra"?

Talking art
Talking art: interviews with artists since 1976
edited by Patricia Bickers and Andrew Wilson
Publisher: London : Art Monthly : 2007.
ISBN: 1905464045 DDC: 709.22 LCC: N6490 Edition: (pbk.)

p.319 Gilbert "We believe it is much better that you make your art, that you try to sell it, whomever wants it can buy it."

p.320 George "Or flowers, if you send a beautiful bunch of flowers, you don´t check which one is spunking off with the next one."

p.321 Gilbert "We don´t believe in having only one view - it is many views we believe in very much."

p.322 George "We say that the picture is there in the museum or gallery for people to view in the light of their own life."

p.322 Gilbert "Art is a re-examining of life."

p.324 George "We have no interest in reflecting or showing society - we are only interested in forming it."

p.325 Gilbert "For us, art is searching for life, a re-examination of life for the next generation. It is artificial because we don´t know what life is all about, so you have to put up a new idea."

p.328 Gilbert "We always believe an artist has to ask another person. He asks "Do I like this, or not?" He asks himself like another person."

Questionnaire: Reflecting on theory and practice

Unit M1:1 Visual Enquiry and Research Methods

Questionnaire: Reflecting on theory and practice

Generating and selecting ideas
How do you go about selecting and developing your initial images/ideas? I collect lots of things from the streets, or bits and pieces that I find and use them to create a “project” to work on. If I am working on the Abstract Heads series, I choose people based on my interest in them as people, or their proximity (eg. students in a class)

What criteria do you use to select or reject them? for AH, I tend to only be able to create a sketch that works if I have some real interest in the person. Where I have just tried to draw someone, I am never happy with the result. For other projects, I just try an idea and see where it goes.

Are your ideas usually substantial enough to sustain a piece of work? If not how do you modify them? to sustain a project, yes. some projects could work, but I loose interest in them and don´t take them to any logical conclusion. Those projects where I explore an idea, even as cursorily as looking at some images on the internet, tend to work as a project, though they may not be what I consider “works”.

What do you do when you get stuck? I stop. This is often true where I have tried to “intellectualise” my art but doing some “clever” project or going down some “exploratory” avenue that I am not necessarily comfortable with. In the AH series, I tried using some colour theory to develop a few works, but they did not succeed for me.

Are there ideas you would like to explore but don’t know how to start? I am stuck on the “language of shapes” for my Mies works.

Contextual research
What are your influences? The materials might be; or an intellectual art problem that I perceive to be interesting. I like architecture, and feel that there will always be an architectural basis to my work, either literally or metaphorically.

How does your work draw on these? I collected all the tissue paper decorations from my wedding in the States, and brought it all back to use in my art, though at the time I had no idea where this would lead. I wanted to play with concrete, so I started looking for what to do with that as a sculptor. Whiteread showed me the way. My AHs are linear. My Mies series had both the wall from the Mies Pavilion, and another building in the background.

How do you choose the resources to research and to support your work, where do you find them? I love looking at gallery catalogues of other artists´ work. Beyond that I tend to use the internet.

How do you position your practice in a contemporary context? I want to make familiar, timeless art. Art that everyone recognises, but which is unique. Stealing without taking.
What difficulties do you having in accessing resources? Erm... none?

What is your framework for making judgments about the work of others? Love and Hate. Perhaps a story that the artist has to tell. Maybe the socio-economic story that places an object in an historical period.

How can you tell if images or objects, yours and others are successful or not? I love them. Or they make me have some other reaction besides “really?” I'm definitely a "room-full of..." kind of guy. I love to see a whole series of an artist's work at the same time. Then I can get a fell for the whole thing, and start to unpick the details. I always worries me seeing individual works, particularly when they are thrown together with other artists where the curating is poor. Obviously a work will hang in a home as an individual piece ( I would worry about the psychotic state of someone who hung a whole gallery of one artist's works) but that sense of wholeness, of belonging to a group, a club, a sect, is important to me.

I've realised this is far away from looking at an individual work, and deciding if it is successful. But maybe it is the truth that one image cannot let the whole world in. But that essence of the image, being part of the group, is important to me.

How do you compare your work in relation to the work of others? I´m not sure that I do. I prefer other people to judge my work.

What is successful and not successful about your current work? Nothing and everything. Lack of focus; lack of the X factor.

Materials and techniques etc.
How do you decide whether a material or technique is appropriate or not? I play with it and see what happens.
What limits your choice of materials and or techniques? Money, knowledge and skill.
Are there any materials or techniques you would like to explore? Gouache and charcoal. Large scale acrylic sheeting. Printing / wood block.

Communication and intention
What messages do you intend your work to convey? How do you do that? That the whole world is here, in this work. By finishing it.
What is the intention of your work? How is that manifest in the work? To let the whole world in. To make my audience move, physically. By creating triptychs and sculptures. By creating pairs of paintings to be hung in different rooms.
Who is the audience for your work? Often, the sitter for the work. Or people who go to the type of galleries I can hang my work in. Me.
Who will critique your work? Me. My wife. My public.
What might their criticism be? "I hate it." "I love it." "How much is it?"

Critical thinking
What have been the most and least valuable resources so far? Sitters, canvas and acrylic paint. The answer to a question like: “What does an Abstract Head look like?
What changes has your research made to your work? I am aware that I need to do more research to make more changes.
Have there been any been any negative effects of your contextual research? I haven´t done enough contextual research to have any real effect.
What specific influences and ideas have made the most positive impact on your work? Doing my life drawing and portraiture course... making me think about my art in terms of answering a question.