Category Archives: [8] Wet Negatives and RAW Ideas

Photographic Experiments with Film and Pixels

“Everyone is …”

People tend to fall in two categories over Joseph Beuys words “Everyone is an artist”. Of course there will be some that don’t really believe in  or agree with either side of the statement,  some that only agree  little bit and some that just couldn’t be bothered answering the questionnaire. But still one either leans towards an agreement with his words or an head-shaking-grumbling-something-about-education-and-knowldege-kind-of- approach (giving you almost the extremes here…)
So when I read those words on the back cover of a book I am trying to read for over a year now, but never really got down to it, I started thinking on which side I stand. Let’s play something:

“Everyone is an architect”

“Everyone is a writer”

“Everyone is a doctor”

“Everyone is a builder”

“Everyone is a photographer”

“Everyone is a psychologist”

“Everyone is a police officer”

“Everyone is a painter”

“Everyone is a designer”

“Everyone is a novelist”

Everyone is a goldsmith”

“Everyone is a politician”

“Everyone is a car mechanic”

“Everyone is a dentist”

“Everyone is a historian”

“Everyone is a cook”

“Everyone is a manger”

“Everyone is an athlete”

“Everyone is a teacher”

“Everyone is an engineer”

“Everyone is a baker”

“Everyone is a plumber”

“Everyone is a psychiatrist”

“Everyone is a racing driver”

“Everyone is a pilot”

“Everyone is a barrister”

“Everyone is a nurse”

“Everyone is a hairdresser”

“Everyone is an electrician”

“Everyone is a sales accountant”

“Everyone is a shepard”

“Everyone is a fine artist”

“Everyone is a lorry driver”

“Everyone is a ceramicist”

“Everyone is a beautician”

“Everyone is a secretary”

“Everyone is an urban designer”

“Everyone is an archaeologist”

“Everyone is a vet”

“Everyone is a journalist”

“Everyone is a landscape architect”

“Everyone is a captain”

“Everyone is a philosopher”

“Everyone is a fashion designer”

“Everyone is a musician”

“Everyone is a fitness instructor”

“Everyone is a life guard”

“Everyone is a dancer”

“Everyone is a florist”

“Everyone is a crime scene investigator”

“Everyone is a software developer”

“Everyone is a timber merchant”

“Everyone is a spy”

“Everyone is a zoo keeper”

“Everyone is a waitress”

“Everyone is a banker”

“Everyone is a potter”

“Everyone is a factory supervisor”

“Everyone is a security guard”

“Everyone is a lecturer”

“Everyone is a three dimensional designer”

“Everyone is a butcher”

“Everyone is a post man”

“Everyone is an agent”

“Everyone is a sculptor”

“Everyone is a prison guard”

“Everyone is an actor”

“Everyone is jokey”

“Everyone is a meteorologist”

“Everyone is a coroner”

“Everyone is a brewer”

“Everyone is a PR intern”

“Everyone is a surgeon”

“Everyone is a wood carver”

“Everyone is a publisher”

“Everyone is a scientist”

“Everyone is an illustrator”

“Everyone is a farmer”

[Hmmm, I thought so ] To be able or refer to oneself as, let’s say’ an architect, one has to fulfil certain criteria, undergo a lengthy study, be recognised and registered. So no, not everyone is an architect. Similar principles apply to becoming a doctor, scientist, pilot and police officer. So no, not everyone can be one.  Even if it all made sense I our childhood dreams and fantasies – we could be anyone just by imagining so- and don’t tell me otherwise or I tell mum / dad/ uncle /______________ (insert any primary caregiver)  – , we grew up. Or are still growing up…well, let’s just say once being faced with daily life (routine) we tend to realise that we cannot be anyone we wish to be. It starts with school and which GCSE subjects one should keep, which ones to ditch,  which A-Levels will propel the career, which university to choose, or would an apprenticeship be more appropriate, take the job offer or carry one with a research degree… the list never ends, does it?! Well, it is always possible to change once course, after all I’m not really sure when I’ ever going to use my A Level in Economics, so one doesn’t signs one’s death when choosing to open a different or new door.
Don’t get me wrong though, I have nothing against Joseph Beuys or his work, on the contrary! I even considered studying for an MA in Social Sculpture, a postgraduate course which is informed by refection on the social sculpture ideas and work of the man himself.

“My objects are seen as stimulants for the transformation of ideas of sculpture, or of art in general. They should provoke thoughts about what sculpture an be and how the concept of sculpting can be extended to the invisible materials used by everyone:

Thinking Forms – how we mould our thoughts or

Spoken Forms – how we shape our thoughts into words or

SOCIAL SCULPTURE  how we mould and shape the world we live in: Sculpture as an evolutionary  process; everyone is an artist.

That is why the nature of my sculpture is not fixed and finished. Processes continue in most of them: chemical reactions, fermentations, colour changes, decay, drying up. Everything is in a state of change.”[i]

Flux. Instability. Fluidity. Unpredictability. Change.  Impulsiveness. Spontaneity. Suddenness. Unrest.

Context is the key concept: Take anything out of it and its meaning can change.

“Everyone is an artist” as a quote on the cover of a unrelated book “Everyone is an artist”as part of a statement by the artist
 “Everyone is a cook”“Everyone is a manger”

“Everyone is an athlete”

“Everyone is a teacher”

“Everyone is an engineer”

“Everyone is a baker”

“Everyone is a plumber”

“Everyone is a psychiatrist”

 “SOCIAL SCULPTURE  how we mould and shape the world we live in: Sculpture as an evolutionary  process; everyone is an artist.”

 

I honour flux highly and my own (reflective) practise is influence by the instability of my surrounding. I’m very interested in the constant change and one’s own interactions, but personally I would not “go as far” as saying that everyone is an artist. The following quote is in German, but I shall translate and summarize loosely (if you don’t trust me, select a search engine of your preference and let it translate the words, or even better, go over to your book shelf and get the old and dusty dictionary out – will do you good):

„Jeder Mensch ist ein Träger von Fähigkeiten, ein sich selbst bestimmendes Wesen, der Souverän schlechthin in unserer Zeit. Er ist ein Künstler, ob er nun bei der Müllabfuhr ist, Krankenpfleger, Arzt, Ingenieur oder Landwirt. Da, wo er seine Fähigkeiten entfaltet, ist er Künstler. Ich sage nicht, daß dies bei der Malerei eher zur Kunst führt als beim Maschinenbau …”[ii]

Everyone is an artist. Duh! One could have guessed, but here Beuys weaves peoples professions into the mix. According to him, it doesn’t matter whether one collects bins for a living or works as a farmer , as long as one engages to one’s fullest potential in such activities.
[Hmmm….]  I am only at the very beginning of my journey through the “wonderful world of Oz”[iii] even though I have been drawing ever since I could hold a wax crayon, or a piece of red brick -creates beautiful red lines on a tarmacked or concreted ground, give it a try sometime, it is fun!  Moving on: I cannot agree with “everyone is an artist”. Without sounding like a snob or similar, I try not to, believe me, I don’t think picking up a paintbrush and oils and replicating the poppy field across the road, or attending a life drawing class makes one an artist. Some people have a fantastic talent, be it in creating two dimensional masterpieces or chiselling an updated version of Rodin’s “The Kiss” out of the most beautiful marble, but not everyone with talent is an artist. I studied art, design and culture now for several years, but I’m still taking baby steps. I will be graduating top of my class with a degree in Three Dimensional Design this year; does this make ma a designer?
If one visited my degree exhibition last month, one would have come across the following few words:

Design is not a movement;

Design is an outlook on life.

 

Design was not made, but came into being,

one cannot become a Designer,

one can only be one.

 

(After Van Doesburg, 1923)

What do you think: can anyone be an artist??

If you would like to find out what I think, drop me a line and employ me – I am currently looking ofr a position in the design environment – I’m sure we would have a blast!


[i] Harlan, V. (2007) What is Art? Joseph Beuys Forest Row: Clairview, page 9

[ii] Spiegel Online [WWW] http://wissen.spiegel.de/wissen/image/show.html?did=13508033&aref=image036/2006/06/13/cq-sp198402301780186.pdf&thumb=lse  [Accessed 08 July 2010]

[iii] Substitute for the world of art ,design and culture – everyone needs to listen to the voice behind the curtain from time to time, bearing in mind however the possible fraud factor

How very true this is…

After several extremely engaging, sometimes frustrating, sometimes pleasing months, and very quick and challenging final weeks, it has come to an end. And somehow, I have seemed to miss this point in time – or am I still holding on to something that has long gone – one does wonder sometimes… occasionally more and occasionally less… Anyway, the current phase seems to fizzle out and I’m slowly moving towards a yet unknown state.
This morning, I decided to start my day with some light housework and carried a huge (let’s call it) cargo of washing down the stairs, not very designer’y one might think. Well, one might be very true here, but after the sense of accomplishment of loading the machine and pressing the specially designed button to start the thing, I can now sit in my garden and consider the finer things in life. Plus, I have just actively engaged with the world of design and can now draw upon my experiences, reflect and possibly one day re’collected this morning’s activities whilst sitting behind my drawing board. After all, in the words of Dai Fujiwara: “I sometimes feel that my process is digging, but other times it’s swimming and other times it falls from the sky.”[i] Well, I feel like hiking today.

It is now the fifth day I have been without phone service, which in today’s life, is rather a long time! And I’m almost ready for writing letter in open and ink… Not too sure how the phone company can make such huge mistakes, but apparently it wasn’t them, or something like that, and things shouldn’t have happened, that did indeed happen and blah blah blah… the end results is: I have no phone service and am very likely missing out on some massive / sad / intriguing / shocking / loving / hating / gossiping / ______________ news right about now. And now. And probably now! … Welcome to the wonderful world of design one might say! If someone hadn’t designed the mobile phone all those years ago, I would not have to be part of this consumer’y world and would probably be very happy sitting in a garden on a bench with a notebook and pen writing lovely letters to the world. But hey, someone did and probably made loads of money out of it… or didn’t…who cares, I’m in a dreadful situation right now, and all I care about at the moment is to get my life/live -line back. And yes, I am aware of how terrible this sounds, but then it is 2010 and it all feels appropriate.

Moving on. Well, to what actually?
Today has been the first day I didn’t do anything with a specific university-course-driven –motif behind it, and quite frankly, I believe I will have to re’learn the sweet’ness of doing nothing “planned or planning”, because I did struggle a bit to start with… I’m not a massive geek who just cannot wait until the next assignment or projects pours in, nor do I get over-excited with work. It’s just that I was deeply immersed in my work over the last few months; and … let’s just call it post-hand-in-empty’ness . So there I was, and still am, sitting in my garden, staring at the blue skies, wearing my most summery kit (yes, we actually have a summer in England), drinking tonnes of coffee, both hot and cold, and begin to wonder what this is all about. Big words like internship and MA studies, London and Ibiza, holidays, regattas, festivals and hay fever buzzing around in my head, and I’m getting slightly uncomfortable with the fact that an army of ants has just decided to walk across my deckchair… well as long as they don’t take me hostage I guess I’m ok, for now anyway. Even if they did, I would helpless, as my mobile is still “Searching / Limited Service”. Grrrrrr….!

What is it all about really? Time? Money? Family? Sex? Drugs? Rock’n’Roll? For the moment I think I go with a rather large bottle of water, a peach and a straw hat, but this might differ immensely in an hour, tomorrow or even in ten years. Should Design therefore predict what will happen in the future and act accordingly? Or should Design make the everyday, the here and now a more pleasant experience? Should or could Design do both or neither? Should one follow Javier Mariscal’s approach of “I want to be a rock’n’roll star.”[ii] Or exists along the lines of “I want to make bright peace world.” Nobumichi Tosa[iii]? One very current and personal question is :should Design remain in the background or be right in the front line of all the happenings?
“There are a lot of choices that as designers we can make alone, but there are also a lot of choices that that we can’t do alone.” Anthony Lebossé[iv] How very true this is…


[i]Design Indaba What can your creativity do? [WWW] http://www.designindaba.com/article/what-can-your-creativity-do [Accessed 28.06.2010]

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Ibid

The In/Visible

Sight – How much do we rely on our eyes?

Explorations into the role of vision and its potential hierarchy over our other senses, including the possibility of Braille being a three- dimensional representation of the spoken and written voice.

If we walk into a room we have been present in before, we recognise, we store, we categorise and we re/connect.
If we walk into a room we have been living in, we recognise, we store, we categorise and we re/connect.
If we walk into a room we have never been in before, we recognise, we store, we categorise and we re/connect.

I enter the room through a wooden door, after climbing a flight of stairs and see the space in front of me – grey, like a rainy day in November; the interior of the space is dark grey – just grey. After a few seconds, I can see shadows developing; I begin to find myself again. I confirm my place through my vision. Ah, yes, I can “see” where I am now, I can distinguish between objects, I can see the space between the objects – a grey galaxy filled with grey artefacts and shadows. I step further into the room and stop again to settle my experience. I have now fully arrived in “the Shadows”. Without them, the sea of grey’ness would just flood me, swallow me whole, but the grounding shadows hold each artefact, each being in its place and help me, the reader and explorer, to engage. I look down and see my own shadow on the floor. Without it, I would be absorbed – I would not be “seen” as individual being, but part of the greater grey background of existence. After co-ordinating my thoughts with my visual input, I proceed further into the room and stop at the dinner table near the windows. Almost peaceful, the table is set and is waiting for interaction. Every single object on the table top is the same grey as rest of the interior, every single surface is grey. I pick up a grey apple from the bowl. Can I be sure it is apple?
I recognise the “image” of an apple – it is round’ish, bears the signs of growing on tree, out of a flower, the weight feel about right for an apple, I would say it is an apple. Except for the fact that it is grey, and not the otherwise welcomed green’, red’ or yellow’ish appearance of an apple – even though, with the missing visual colour information, I can still assume it is an apple. I have learned that apples look like this years ago, I know how they taste, how they fell in my hand, how they grow, how they look on the insight, what happens to them if you heat them up, cook or bake them, mix them with other ingredients, I am aware of historical, religious and everyday connections– I have a working knowledge of an apple. I can draw an apple from observation as much as I could draw one form memory. However, this understanding is largely based on visual engagement – I see it, I touch it. How would the world have been, if I had explored with without vision, if I had learned to read through touch first, if I had developed a tactile exploration over my visual engagement with the world?

If I walk into a room I have been present in before, I recognise, I store, I categorise and I re/connect.
If I walk into a room I have been living in, I recognise, I store, I categorise and I re/connect.
If I walk into a room I have never been in before, I recognise, I store, I categorise and I re/connect.

I close my eyes and just feel the fruit in my hand. Still feels the same “apple’ish’ness” to me. The surface feels warm and I begin to engage with the object to a different level – I become aware of the small raised dots on the surface. I haven’t paid much attention to them before, possible due to the way I recognised categories, stored and re/connected the visual information, but now, I am aware. With both hands, I begin to “read” the object and realise that the little dots actually spell out “apple” in Braille, something that had almost gone unnoticed to me before – information in/visible.

I am a visual person, I cannot deny that. I like pictures. I like my world full of colours and moving images, I am intrigued by cameras and how they record the world, I like being able to “see” – to explore the world through my eyes. It is impossible for me to understand how the world is without vision having such a high priority in my life, I can only assume, but never fully understand – until I stop relying on my vision. However, I do believe that through all the visual noise surrounding us, it is important to close one’s eyes from time to time. The noise that surrounds us is not only acoustic or visual noise, our world is flooded with objects and their stories, our interactions and rewritten stories, our surrounding environment is over saturated with being. And even without vision, we can gain an insight into this. Should one consider Braille to be the three-dimensional representation of the written and spoken voices surrounding us?
I have recently used my Valentine typewriter to record some hi/stories. The surface of the paper becomes three-dimensional once the keys hit it. I am physically engaging with the information to be recorded, the keys become extensions of my own being, my arms, my fingers. My laptop represents a diluted version of this engagement – I am less aware of the happenings of writing, I am less involved in the making.
A result of the fast-paced life and environment in today’s world, one wonders?
I can almost make out the mark the typewriter created on the surface; I am almost able to “read” the information – almost. I recognise the letter on the paper as I have learned how they look like. Back in primary school, I have drawn each letter of the alphabet in wax crayon large scale on wallpaper rolled out on the floor, every time I trace over the round curves of the “s” or the straight and lines and harsh corners of the “k”, the letter became more and more solid, more and more recognisable, more and more me.

Should one consider Braille to be the three-dimensional representation of the written and spoken voices surrounding us?

Small round dots, universally recognisable, perfect to tell the stories of everyday happenings. Just round dots, raised from the surface they sit on, be it paper, metal, concrete or wood. Small round dots. Once learned, they offer a great vastness of informational input – they tell the world’s tales in three- dimensions, with or without a reliance on sight and visual participation.
Eternally round –  do they have a beginning? A middle? An ending?  Are they just part of a phase or phases we go through? Is it a question of beginning – middle – beginning?

They are .
Design is.  
I am.

Objects of Desire: Schnellhefter

A basic, simple tool for gathering, keeping safe and in order of appearances / importance / [insert any chosen word here] – a coloured plastic sheet, folded and paired with a clear front and metal clips: the common A4 folder. Any pupil, student or, well everyone who had to keep things collected and safe will have come across one of them in their life time, and if they haven’t, they will at some point during their time on this planet – I’m almost certain. In design terms, a simple yet practical piece of material, user-friendly,can be recycled or even made from recycled stuff, ease of storage, well, I think you get the drift.
My story begins with my time back in primary school. I chose this point in time as entering primary school is often seen as a big step in a child’s world – but it is not necessarily the first time I came across one of these covet plastic keep- sakes. My school was a beautiful old building, with really high ceilings, a marble staircase, big heavy wooden doors and awesome large windows. So when you sit in one of these rooms on a small creaky wooden chair, at a pond green Formica covered table with loads of other kids you’ve never really seen, you really wonder why you are there and not in a massive sandbox playing or finger painting a large roll of wallpaper…well, at least I did… but the teachers have a rather clever way of engaging you (or basically ripping you away from your fantasy world and dropping you in this cold and results-driven daily life) : they give you homework.
Yes, homework – the stuff of (almost) every first grader’s dreams and every older pupil’s nightmares… not really sure when this switch happens, but it does and it’s painful, very painful!
You first tasks might have included colouring in a picture of a teddy bear holding a pen in its paw or painting a bunch of flowers in the brightest colours your acrylics will generate, but you feel like you’re actually learning things you didn’t know before. And then comes the reading, writing and counting…and now you either fall into the “I’m very keen” or the “I can handle this without anything new” category. If you fall into the latter, by now you begin to think that you don’t really need to know all this stuff. I mean, why would you, you survived up to now not being able to read or write and you can continue this life style.  And well, if you fall into the first category, you just cannot wait to get started. But my point being, that whatever group you choose, the grown-ups are there with their teaching. At my school, we had a colour system to teach us order, organisation and very, very possibly annoyance. Each lesson was associated with a colour:  red for German, blue for Maths, yellow for religion, green for geography and so on, if there are anymore lessons… If I remember correctly, you were allowed to choose the colour for art education….so I think loads of girls had pink or purple while the boys had black or silver or whatever was available. And this is where it gets annoying:  all your notebooks and workbooks for each lesson had to be wrapped in the specific associated colour and you had to have a plastic folder for all your hand-outs and loose leafed informations. Seriously? Seriously. Those teachers created a colour coordinated system of information and threw all of us into this rather disturbing new world. And at this point I began to dislike blue and red and favour green and yellow…. I can however see now where all these nation stereotypes come into play…And you made sure that you and your newly acquired knowledge fitted into this colour system, because if you had a green folder for let’s say Maths (let me remind you the colour is blue – and a dark blue, not one of these fancy lighter blues, no a dark and depressing blue), you received a lecture on how you cannot learn anything from being sloppy and you will need to be organised for the rest of your life and blah blah blah and if it happened more than once, you were handed  a polite note to take home to your parents. Cold German primary school reality. And the economy benefited from this categorising as well: what started each autumn and continued until spring time the following year was a mass-flooding, over-populating of coloured plastic folders. Every shop you could buy writing equipment or stationery items, you would find (not too sure how it is these days, but will check next time I’m back in Home’land) you would find a table or corner of shelf specifically designated to the common plastic folders.  All kinds, colours and qualities whatever you could imagine… but the most common purchased versions must have been the multi-pack:  the dream of very mother/father/primary caregiver. Usually twelve flimsy, but not too cheap looking plastic folders:  four red, three blue, three yellow and two green Schnellhefter. I did however once wonder why there would always be an almost overload of red folders, but then conclude it must be because we all write load in our German lesson and hence we needed four red folders in one of these multi-packs. My idea held up until I found out that in other schools they would use yellow for German lessons and red for Maths and purple for geography and who knew what else  … but by then the cold and harsh school routine had gotten hold of me with those icy and long fingers and I had lost my inspiration to investigate this colour situation further. Thankfully, I got hold of my motivational drives later on in my school career and took charge of situations and explorations again.
However, once the folders where introduced into my life, they stayed with me. Let’s talk GSCE’s and A-Levels (well , the German equivalent) , actual A-Levels (once I moved to the UK), various coursework, general collections of information, undergraduate essays on art and gender, Saussure and Derrida, recipes and notes, well anything in paper form actually. Once you are old and knowledgeable enough, you go to secondary school and quite often, you are allowed to choose your own lesson-organisation-system, as long you can provide evidence of administrational talents, well mostly homework.  And once again, the crowds split: you get the rebels that completely  throw all the colours out of the window and mix them up, so Maths now is green and German blue and the colour for the new and eagerly awaited lesson: English, become pink and religion white and no one really is able to keep track of them as they often change depending on the mood or the shopping situation on the open market and the spending behaviour of the primary caregiver (if they still give a damn at this point) and you get the nerds that stay with the system “because it works”.  You might even find a rebel that comes back to Geek’land because they lost any form of organisation, but that is rare, which does not say it never happens, or a nerd that discovers new found radical behaviour, but who are we kidding here….this is just life now and one’s own position in the daily routines.
But back to those thin layers of plastic covering piles of paper, holding them together for easier transport, storage or just because, seem to be a powerful part of (my) daily life, even though the mental connection of a red folder and German grammar still exists, or the dislike of blue folders and the disturbing thought of calculators and numbers seems to haunt one form time to time.
And while those boring looking plastic have become filled with knowledge and paper goods, they also have become loaded with stories and histories, both in the physical and mental worlds.  Everyone who has come into contact with one of them will have some form of opinion, story, memory or connection to tell and share, be it a long and detailed monologue, a heated debate or a quick comment, any recollection, written down or verbal, “every object has a story”.
So next time you see one of these hi/story-loaded things, sit back, stand up, roll around , … and let it tell its tale.

Pink and Blue

What is there versus what isn’t (30 questions)

Can we only read through recognition? Do I have to be able to tell what I am reading? What if I close my eyes and begin to explore the world though a different mechanism? What if I can recognise every single thing I have once seen, touched, experiences? What if I can’t? What makes an experience? Do I have to able to experience something? What if I don’t wan to be visual anymore? What if I need to be lead into the darkness by my own experience? Why do I challenge my view of the world? Can I trust my eyes? Do I need to conform with my hands? Am I conformed by my own existence in vision and touch, in sound and taste, in smell and in thought? Am I just a collection of senses? A collection brought together to justify my own being in the world? Am I a body in a world of bodies? Am I a sensation? Am I just a combination of physical and mental constructs? Can I design? Shall I design? Will I design? Can I challenge myself with myself? Do I need further assistance? Do I need to read – look – or see? Where do I start? When do I stop? Where will I end up? Does it ever stop? Did I ever start? Is there a definite answer? What is design?

Der Lattenzaun // The Picket Fence [For Herr Weber]

Der Lattenzaun

Es war einmal ein Lattenzaun,
mit Zwischenraum, hindurchzuschaun.

Ein Architekt, der dieses sah,
stand eines Abends plötzlich da –

und nahm den Zwischenraum heraus
und baute draus ein großes Haus.

Der Zaun indessen stand ganz dumm,
mit Latten ohne was herum.

Ein Anblick gräßlich und gemein.
Drum zog ihn der Senat auch ein.

Der Architekt jedoch entfloh
nach Afri- od- Ameriko.

The Picket Fence

One time there was a picket fence
with space to gaze from hence to thence.
An architect who saw this sight
approaching it suddenly one night,
removed the spaces from the fence,
and built of them a residence.
The picket fence stood there dumbfounded
with pickets wholly unsurrounded,
a view so loathsome and obscene,
the Senate had to intervene.
The arhitect, however, flew,
to Afri- or Americoo.

Christian Morgenstern

Talking about …

Wet-Paint Syndrome

Caution: Wet Paint ?

Talking about …

Zoomorphic Design

 Owl be back?

Talking about …

Figure – Ground – Theory

What do you see?

Implied Leaf