Monthly Archives: September 2013

Ideas so far

Idea development has moved on a fair bit in my head but I haven’t really recorded any of it and I thought I’d best get some of it down in case I forget it.

One idea is to build something out of voxels and then get it printed in 3d and then make a mould from the 3d print which can then be used to cast the form in other more workable materials such as glass, porcelain, bronze or paper. Within that there are more options. Initially I was considering the play off between organic and computer generated or digital image inspired forms. Maybe a series of sculptures starting with a very organic looking form and gradually being broken down to just a cube at the other end. I guess the equivalent of taking a photo and then lowering the resolution in paint, but in a 3d form. Then there’s vertices or polygon based breaking down of objects. In video games generally the same object is created more than once in varying degrees of complexity, so things in the distance are much simpler versions of when you see them up close with much blurrier textures. A mountain, for example, may be just a few polygons from far away but when you are walking on it it’s a much more detailed version. This is primarily so people’s computers don’t combust and so that you can play games at more than 1FPH (1 frame per hour).

To an extent it’s an idea inspired by the development of Piet Mondrian’s work as much as video games techniques. I really love the progression of his work from the early 1900s to the de stijl style he’s most famous for in the 1920s and onwards, which I have displayed at the bottom of this post.

So the breaking down would either be a recreation of the object built from increasingly larger and fewer cubes, or it would be a recreation of an object multiple times using increasingly larger and fewer polygons.

Other than that I thought maybe the contrast between natural and CG could be contained within the same object. So, for example, a tree that’s part hand built and then part lo fi (polygons or voxels)… Or maybe a sculpture that is lo fi but has soft organic surface textures or is being overgrown by something, or has been ruptured by nature. I found this work by Elisa Confortini very inspiring but also quite creepy:

Work by Elisa Confortini

Work by Elisa Confortini


As well as the lo fi sculptures I also considered going down a slightly more literal idea. Obviously video games have always been a big part of my life. As I’ve mentioned before I think it’s the most interesting area of the arts with the most new and unique ideas coming out of it, despite also being the most sneered at and overlooked area in the arts. It would be impossible to really translate anything other than the sound, narrative or the aesthetic into another media, being that video games strengths come from interacting. You can’t really have a credible opinion of a video game without ever actually having played it because it’s a completely interactive experience.

I am considering making stylized video game inspired sculptures, but ones that try and capture the essence of the atmosphere of particular games or styles of games rather than faithfully recreating scenes or characters. I always avoid being too literal because literal translations of everything are being done all the time, primarily by illustrators and fans of things in general. Someone who really likes Buffy the Vampire Slayer will have made a photorealistic sculpture of Buffy, and built various cars from the show, and made comics of the show. It’s not anything that really has any legs conceptually, or that lends itself to the artist coming through in the work which, for me, is very important.

So yeah. As usual a very rambley post but i thought it was worth getting these thoughts recorded and blogged. Below is the development of Mondrian’s tree paintings.

Expect sketches later today.


Piet Mondrian - Avond (Evening): The Red Tree (1910)

Piet Mondrian – Avond (Evening): The Red Tree (1910)

Piet Mondrian - The Grey Tree (1912)

Piet Mondrian – The Grey Tree (1912)

Piet Mondrian - Trees in Blossom

Piet Mondrian – Trees in Blossom (1912)

Piet Mondrian 'Composition Trees II', 1912

Piet Mondrian ‘Composition Trees II’, 1912

Piet Mondrian - Composition No. 6

Piet Mondrian – Composition No. 6, 1914

Piet Mondrian – Composition with Gray and Light Brown (1918)

Piet Mondrian - Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray and Blue, 1921

Piet Mondrian – Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray and Blue, 1921

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Reflections on the Brief (A fair amount of rambling)

After steaming ahead with various research strands and coming up with lots of final pieces in my head (that I should probably draw in my sketchbook rather than letting them disappear into the void), I felt that despite having these ideas and piece designs that the research backing them up wasn’t really full enough. If I wasn’t on a degree course I would just crack on and make the pieces but being on a degree I have to work in a way that gets me marks.

I have gone back and re-read the brief. The starting point it suggests is “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.”

Locating myself in the broader historical and cultural world is quite difficult. I like some of everything. I like animation (Anything so long as it’s creative. I tend to like stuff that’s either technically amazing or visually distinct. I prefer 2d animation to stop motion or CGI), video games (Any genre so long as it’s interesting and distinct, from big budget AAA titles to the poorest of indie developers working out of their bedroom), quirky atmospheric music (Film scores, jazz, klezmer, folk, rock, prog, funk, electro, blues, soul, grunge, trip hop, avant garde and probably lots of stuff that doesn’t fit into any of those genres). I’m vegetarian and care about animal rights. Politically left wing, although probably more centre left in some ways. I don’t get out very much so in terms of my actual life due to social anxiety issues and depression so I’m largely a single, bedroom dwelling person. Is that a part of the broader cultural world? I guess bedroom dwelling media sponge is me. Maybe that can be a new subculture.

In terms of my practice it’s probably more difficult. I’m a huge fan of just black line on white paper, drawn with a pen. One of my strands of exploration involved using very small, simple line drawings with gel pens to create frame by frame animations with very little planning and no measuring at all. I love doodling and I still think my animation work is the strongest work I have ever done, although I can’t really follow it through without 3d elements for this course which means I can’t do the animation I enjoy so it’s maybe not worth categorizing myself based on that aspect of my practice.

I really like abstract painting and sculpture. I am aware that this is a HUGE proportion of all art that exists. I think more specifically I like work that is self contained and that one can get a lot from without knowing about the history or culture of where I’m from or my background or trying to find political implications within it. Anish Kapoor is a great example of someone like that. He makes things that he wants to exist, and they are self contained objects which are just about themselves, and to an extent the area around them. They are about colour and form.

According to my tutors I have a thing for surface pattern, although I think it’s more of a by product of my actual interest. I have a thing for creating objects entirely, and covering the surface completely allows me to make the object look exactly how I want it to without having to be too limited by the qualities of the building material. The fact that surface pattern is sometimes necessary to achieve that is just the by product of wanting to create interesting objects.

Work by Anish Kapoor

From what I’ve seen in the world of animation, I don’t think I fit anywhere. I have my own completely unique thing that is literally Benjamin Scott-Pye. I suspect that this probably isn’t the case but after years of searching I’m yet to find anything genuinely relevant.

When I started on Contemporary Craft I had just discovered Alan Shields and I was really excited about the prospect of building structures and coating them in cotton pulp. This is something that I definitely want to explore when I go back now I have some creative freedom. From what i can gather it’s a technique most relevant to paper making and since looking into it I have found that paper can be cast into plaster moulds in various different ways, as well as being able to use many objects as armatures, both found and handmade.

My favourite piece by Alan Shields, “Headline Bus Driver” Cotton pulp on steel

The problem I have then, is that I have a lot of things that I want to experiment with to learn about the properties of how materials interact with each other and what works visually and what doesn’t, but not much in the way of a driving concept. On top of that I’m not really sure how much concept is necessary. If I were to just dive in exploring these materials with no concept, would I lose marks for lack of a concept. If I do focus on a concept, will it lead me away from being able to explore these materials I’m so excited about, and will it be a waste of time anyway if it turns out not to be so important for my marks?

“Stepwell” by Alan Shields 2000

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