Monthly Archives: August 2013

Sculpting/casting with paper/organic pulps

Mainly posting this as it’s maybe useful in the coming year for what I might potentially sculpt.




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Anish Kapoor at the Royal Academy

I like this interview because Anish Kapoor is a Fine Artist but he rejects the idea of the artist having to have something to say with their work. The work can just exist and the viewer can interpret it.

“Perhaps when one’s got a lot to say, there’s less room for the viewer. What I’m concerned to do is to (imply) well I’ve got nothing to say, nothing much to say anyway, or as little to say as possible and let the viewer find that space in themselves”

That’s exactly what I want to do with my art.

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Westeroscraft and building with voxels

From an aesthetic standpoint I’m considering using voxels to create a sculptural form or sculptural forms. That might change the more I get to grips with the subject I’m going to run with but I think it has the potential to look quite interesting, plus it gives me chance to play with a 3d printer which I’ve never done before.

This is a project that’s being going on for a year to make Westeros, the world from Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire. I’m not interested in making some kind of huge world from voxels but I think there are some nice qualities in the way some of the architectural and natural forms are interpreted.

I’ve been trying to find a voxel modelling program that lets you build with cubes and then export a file which is usable by 3d printers but have had no such look yet. One thing I did find was some programs that work with voxels rather than polygons and then render polygons over the top to create smooth curves and intricate details. I found some nice images of forms that were one half voxels and the other half smoother more realistic shapes which I liked. The juxtaposition of the two rendering styles were quite interesting.

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Bedroom GIF Animation

I’ve never made a pixel art animation before and after drawing my room of the awful house I was stuck at for a year I decided to make a two frame animation out of it. It gave me chance to play around with lighting too. You have to click on the picture to actually see it animate.



These are the two pictures



and an extended one for my facebook cover


and then a couple of experiments, one using circle pixels and one using a bevel effect to make it look like tiles just to satisfy my curiosity really.



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Possible Themes (Social Anxiety and Depression)

Normally i like to make work that is self contained and doesn’t take too much reflection from the viewer to understand. It’s about line or form or colour or pattern and doesn’t reference anything other than itself. This time I’m thinking of trying to express something that is relevant to me or something that I am interested in outside of exploring pure visual elements.

The most obvious one for me is my social anxiety disorder. It’s something that I have much more control over than I did when I was younger. It resulted in me losing years of my life which I spent mostly on my own, too down to do anything or call any of my friends or go outside and as a result now I feel like I have less social experience at 26 than most people have at 16, and definitely less relationship experience. I’ve largely been dependent on the internet and video games to keep myself from going totally over the edge.

It’s been suggested to me that reliance on escapism through computers hasn’t really helped my social abilities and confidence but then there were long periods when I was at my absolute worst where I didn’t have access to anything like that, for example I spent a year in a room in this horrible house where the router was stolen, and then my laptop was stolen and then a few months later my phone was stolen so all my possible communication with the outside world had been taken away but it didn’t make me feel encouraged to leave the house. If anything I felt much worse not being able to talk to anybody via text or email or facebook, and actually I think a lot of the improvement in my social confidence has come from talking to people online. I still find talking to people face to face quite scary a lot of the time (often overwhelmingly scary) but it’s definitely easier than it used to be. And as a result of spending so much time isolated I find a lot of things scary that most people just do normally as part of their everyday life.

In relation to that I have found on the independent games scene recently some very evocative and thought provoking titles which use fairly minimal pixel graphics to tell a story. Video games being such a big interest of mine and also the resurgence of pixels to create beautiful art (See Cart Life), maybe combining pixels with aspects of my life where I have felt particularly trapped or hopeless due to social anxiety could be something to work with… Or at least the start of an investigation.

cart life

Cart Life

Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor

Glitch and Data Bending

I’ve been looking into pixel art for inspiration for potential artwork. I found when I looked for “abstract pixel art” what came back was lots of the same kind of stuff. Basically abstract pixel art is horizontal stripes of colour, usually representing some kind of human character. The many artists who do this abstract pixel art all basically do that exact same thing. I don’t really get why. I mean when the first person did it, that’s interesting… When the 500th person is making little box characters from stripes of colour I’m pretty sure it’s been pushed as far as it will go.


So that was a mostly disappointing search. One thing I did find this morning was “glitch” art. It’s where you take an image file and then edit it in a text editor or a hex editor and mess up the code so that you end up with a distorted and messed up “glitched” image. For most people it’s the equivalent of a filter on an iphone (I think there are actually glitch filters in some photo editing suites) that makes your photos look weird, but it’s actually something you can learn to control and use in some very interesting ways although I think it’s probably something that takes a long time to understand enough to make work well. I discovered an artist called Gregory E. Pilling (clearly his real name) who posts lots of experiments on tumblr, some of which are rather beautiful and interesting.


“Fraloyt 2” by Gregory E. Pilling – November 2011.
A heavily distorted image of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.


“Liropny Narrol” by Gregory E. Pilling – November 2011.
Precise calculations must be used to ensure that all corners meet properly. The larger, angled layer had to be rotated to 26.57 degrees and is 223.61% of the size of the smaller layer.

I think this is two of the same image, one enlarged and layed over the other at an angle so the edges line up in an interesting way.


“Vantoosit Blants” by Gregory E. Pilling – November 2011.
Orthogonal shapes don’t line up very well when rotated on intervals of 30 or 60 degrees, but the random shapes that are produced by the overlapping layers prove interesting.


“Boston City Hall Overdrive” by Gregory E. Pilling – August 2010. This was an experiment in layering various parts of a glitched image on top of each other. The result reminds me of brutalist architecture. Boston’s City Hall is one of the best examples of this under-appreciated architectural style.


Self portrait from 2011.

And then chasing up the reference to Brutalist Architecture:


Boston City Hall. I googled this and it came up on a page about Bostons ugliest buildings. “Boston’s ugliest buildings are… SURPRISE Brutalism”

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Concept Art

DSCF2244The most important thing to me as an artist is creating a unique aesthetic. I think that a concept can never be more important than the work that is created from that concept. People will only see the work, they don’t see the concept. Obviously if the communication of concept is the most important thing for you then the work succeeds if the concept is communicated well. To me it doesn’t matter if a concept is communicated well, only that the concept has lead me to something interesting and that works. Concepts to me are starting points to be redefined when necessary. I think my long term aim is to try and end up with something that can only be articulated through the work visually and can’t be pinned down with language at all. That would be fantastic although probably unachievable. I think if a piece of work fails conceptually but works aesthetically then it is still a successful piece.

One thing that worked very well for me was starting out with no brief whatsoever, finding some random objects around town, looking at them, possibly combining them and then doing studies of the objects with different materials. Remaking them out of metal or paper or whatever else and then putting all of them together and finding qualities in the relationships between the objects or qualities in the way I had built them as something to run with as a concept. It didn’t have any cultural or historical or political references but it was incredibly interesting to me and I produced a lot of work and sketchbooks that people seemed to enjoy. I’m not sure that I can pass this course working on pure isolated experimentation however although I feel like if I do try and fit myself into some kind of art pigeon hole I run the risk of producing cliched work about seed pods or nudes or the circle of life or something.

Translation from 2d to 3d and back again across multiple media is definitely a great way to end up at a unique aesthetic. I recommend to anybody who is feeling stuck or that their work is bland or who is at a dead end to try this.

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Brief, waffle and Toby Ziegler

I’ve been thinking a lot about potential ideas for next year. The problem I have with the way I come up with ideas in relation to how a University course is marked is that I often come up with strong ideas that I think will work before I’ve started my research and then often the academic stuff gets in the way and what I end up with is weaker than what I wanted to do in the first place.

For example the glass project that we had at the end of first year I had a plan to chop up lengths of pipe and drill lots of holes in them and attach the rings together to make the tentacles for my extension but we were told to behave as if we didn’t know about the extension part  so I spent 4/5th of the time working on carving out the floppy guts/tentacles out of wax and plaster and then  would have had to chop them off afterwards to make way for the metal versions which would have negated the majority of the work I’d done which seemed pretty arbitrary so I kept the tentacles and came up with two ideas, both of which were much weaker and also less adventurous (although quite time consuming anyway).

I think this time it’ll be worth drawing my ideas out that I have pre research and including them in my journal anyway and if they are stronger than post research ideas do them anyway even if it means losing marks on my degree.

This is what the brief says:

“We would like you to produce a critical journal over the summer that not only locates you in the broader historical and cultural world but also explains the journey you have taken whilst you research. This journal may take any form that you deem appropriate but must contain extensive notes and a personal dialogue as you uncover relevant and useful information. This should be a journey and an exploration into what underpins and substantiates your practice.

This is about researching in relation to the external world.   You must identify influences and the directions you are inclined to take, what subjects interest you, try to look at a variety of interests and begin to make connections, at this stage your research should be broad.  Do not restrict your research to other artists and makers; think about historical, cultural, social and political influences. You may want to consider some of the following questions:

What is the history of your subject/subjects you are interested in?

What have you learnt through this research exercise, how has it informed you?

Are there any practitioners dealing with similar context within their work, if so, how do they inform your ideas?

What have critics written about your subject?

How do you relate to all of this?”

It’s quite hard to think of artists that I can relate my work to because I don’t think that where I come from with my art is the same place as many well-known artists at all. Toby Ziegler at first glance seems to to a point. Without knowing about him I stumbled upon his work at the Saatchi and was a little bit gutted because he had done my idea I’d had for a painting for years but never actually had a go at on a larger scale than in a notebook drawing. I do love his work though. I think his was my favourite that I saw on my trip to London.


My interest was in the fields of patterns he used in his work that ran through various areas. The neat thing about patterns is that you can warp them to give the illusion of a receding plane, which is something you can’t do with blocks of colour.



I have never actually read any interviews with him about his work until today and it was very interesting. He takes sculptures and then simplifies them down in Cad before reproducing them in paper or card or aluminium and wood. His work is kind of half about taking art from periods of history and reproducing it in a modern way and half about presenting something unfinished and ambiguous which leaves the viewer to fill in the gaps. He makes a point of choosing names for his work that leave more questions than answers, saying that titles that give you all the answers are not good titles.

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