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On the 1st of October I will be heading to Yerevan, Armenia for two months to partake in an art residency program operated by Art and Cultural Studies Laboratory.  This is an exciting opportunity especially after my experience in Athens previously I feel more than ready to make the most of my time there.  It is a place that I have not experienced before but sits in an important part of the world.  Its rich history and current economic state will provide many new thoughts and ways to reflective current thoughts and perceptions.

This year has seen me move quite a bit and most of that time I have been immersed in countries where I speak little of the language.  This isolation in my nomadic practice really plays on my current thoughts of what home means to me.  My projects tend to start from a personal response but then tend to be expanded to become works that others can reflect on and read in their own light.  However I feel also whilst in Armenia I need to document the daily emotional attachment I have to what I deem as home, the never studio or practice nomadic..

I am also grateful for the funding that has been provided for this time I will spend in Armenia.  The ECF Labs and their Step Beyond Bursary has made this time one which I can devoted solely to furthering my research and creating new works.

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Re-post from Highsnobiety

  • By Fritz Radtke

For about 20 years German photographer Michael Wolf has been living in Hong Kong – a city as beautiful and exciting as it is crowded. Being one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with an overall density of some 6,300 people per square kilometer, Hong Kong’s architecture is accordingly dominated by staggering highrise buildings. For his recent photo series ‘Architecture of Density’ Wolf has captured the city’s unique landscape. By removing skies and horizons, thus focusing on and highlighting the structures’ abstract elements, his photographs evoke a sense of endlessness – an ever-growing urban space.

Michael Wolf Website

Shame to miss this show back in London.  Ends the day I leave Chile, such a shame as the group exhibition has some great artists and works.

THE SPACE WHERE I AM | GROUP EXHIBITION

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THE SPACE WHERE I AM | GROUP EXHIBITION

17 July 2014 – 27 September 2014

The Directors of Blain|Southern are delighted to present The Space Where I Am, a group show exploring ideas of the void and emptiness from the 1960s to the present day.

The exhibition’s title is taken from philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s book The Poetics of Space (1958), which describes the lived experience of space and where he contended “it is better to live in a state of impermanence than in one of finality”. All of the assembled works examine the dialectic between absence and presence, primarily valuing absence in the construction of form.

An element of faith or belief is often required when encountering Tom Friedman’s (b.1965) works; the viewer is invited to engage with the idea of the work, which might not be immediately visually apparent. Upon first encounter, Untitled (A Curse) (1992) appears as an empty pedestal. However, the sculpture actually comprises an invisible globe of space, as a witch has been asked to cast a curse on an 11-inch sphere floating 11 inches above the top of the pedestal.

Donald Judd’s (1928-1994) Untitled is a historical work from 1969, exploring how sculptural space cannot exist without empty space. A long, hollow aluminium beam rests on blocks of various sizes, the spaces between these corresponding to the blocks in identical proportions (based on the Fibonacci sequence). Judd felt that both positive and negative spaces were integral to form, with the relationship between the artwork and its environment also being key. Indeed, Carl Andre’s (b.1935) 36 Aluminium Lock Square(1968), a tile pattern arranged on the floor, directly explores space and form, removing sculpture from the plinth so that it expands into the space of the gallery and physical remit of the viewer.

Based on the principle that in our age matter should be transformed into energy and invade space in a dynamic form, Lucio Fontana’s(1899-1968) Concetto Spaziale (1964) consists of cuts and slashes to the surface of a bright monochrome painting. This gestural aesthetic blurs the distinction between two-and three-dimensionality, opening up sculptural possibilities with the appearance of a void behind, giving the spectator a sense of ‘serenity in infinity’. In a similar vein, work by Michelangelo Pistoletto (b.1933) addresses the spectator directly through a mirrored surface, blurring the line between the space of the work and the space of the viewer, unifying art and the changing realities of everyday life.

Integral to defining the aesthetic possibilities of video, one of Bill Viola’s (b.1951) rarer sound works, Presence (1995), offers a sensitive interpretation of human existence. First exhibited in the rotunda of the US Pavilion at the 46th Venice Biennale, voices from early childhood through to old age can be heard at the edge of audibility, whispering secrets and personal stories. The presence of the work can only be heard and felt, as sound vibrations pulse through the space.

In Schwarz, Rot, Gold (1999), Gerhard Richter (b.1932) abolishes form in favour of blank, reflective spaces; black, red and gold rectangles — recalling the German flag – become relational to the painting’s environment. Created alongside Richter’s commission for the entrance hall of the Reichstag in Berlin, celebrating the reunification of Germany, the work emphasises history’s untold stories, emptiness and reflectivity providing a vehicle to evoke memory.

James Turrell’s (b.1943) work is primarily concerned with light and space, and Pullen (Red) (1968) is created by projecting a single, controlled beam of light from the opposing corner of the room, so that it appears as a three-dimensional form. Working with simulation and real-time 3-D, John Gerrard’s (b.1974) work Sun Spot Drawing (Guantanamo City) 2012 (2012) is also created purely using light. The artist’s hand holds a magnifying lens which simultaneously casts a shadow and concentrates the sun’s rays into one pure white spot in its center. The work unfolds in this way, dawn until dusk, every day for a full 365-day solar year.

Taking a closer look into travelling sound and light waves, Continuum (2013) by the artist collective United Visual Artists (UVA), was born out of studies into interference and the way in which waves are refracted by environments that we occupy. Among other media, the sculpture uses coded LED lights in an attempt to merge the visible and invisible.

Best known for his paintings and sculptures that reflect concerns with the social ills of urban living, Keith Coventry (b.1958) often signals absent presences. Bench (1995), suggests an act of urban vandalism, presenting a bench characterised by its loss of function, its wooden seat gone to reveal a lonely skeleton. Rachel Whiteread (b.1963) actively casts negative space, inverting the presence of objects and nothingness. A work from the late 1990s, Untitled (Paperbacks) formally recalls minimalist sculpture, while incorporating hues of subtle colour; casting an impression of the pages of books, rather than their spines, it marks the removal of the object’s function and suggests absence or loss. Gordon Matta-Clark’s (1943-1978) silver-dye bleach-print Office Baroque (1977) marks the artist’s site specific work in a derelict building in central Antwerp where he made cut-aways in the different stories of the building, creating a vertical deconstructive sculpture.

Lawrence Weiner’s (b.1942) ROLLED INTO & ONTO THE SEA (1999) draws into question the relationship between sculptural form, signification and meaning. In the 1960s, Weiner challenged traditional assumptions about the status and nature of art. In doing so, he offered a unique insight into the difficulties of ascribing fixed forms and definitions, or perhaps even meaning, to both the practice of art-making and to the art object itself.

Rosy Keyser’s (b.1974) painting reaches beyond the limits of the canvas, inspiring a bodily response to our existence in the material world. Interested in the intersection between people and the matter that surrounds us, she forages for materials which she then gesturally moulds, tears or deconstructs to reveal their intrinsic fragilities. Using large stretchers that seem window-like and operate as a grid, these materials are applied upon voids of space to suggest a sense of ritual and renewal. Decay and absence are in flux, emphasising past presence and action; a palimpsest of existence that waxes and wanes.

Spinning Heads in Reverse (2006) by Tim Noble & Sue Webster (b.1966; b.1967) actively plays with positive and negative space. Self-portraits of the artists appear to be both physically absent but simultaneously present, perhaps only truly resonating in the viewer’s imagination.

Employing a metaphorical interpretation of absence and obstruction, Michael Joo’s (b.1966) Emigrant (2012) explores notions of exclusion and socio-economic division. Delicate self-entwining rope and stanchion forms are constructed of mirrored borosilicate glass, both absorbing and reflecting their own surroundings. As familiar objects that define space and segregate people, Joo suggests a new space, a cyclic space, which breaks down any social or physical divide.

Through the dialogues created by the juxtaposition of these artworks, the exhibition assesses how absence can actively give form to space, a subject that has preoccupied artists over the past half century, as well as examining how viewers might encounter these ‘empty’ spaces.

For further information on the exhibition, please contact Mark Inglefield
T: +44 758 419 9500 | E: mark@blainsouthern.com

Image above:

Michael Joo
Emigrant
2012
Mirrored borosilicate glass
Approx. 139.7 x 61 x 81.3 cm (55 x 24 x 32 in)
Photo: Peter Mallet 23.04.2012

 

Re-Blogged from Motherboard

Floating Utopias for the Age of Rising Seas

Written by
BRIAN MERCHANT
@bcmerchant
brian.merchant@vice.com

May 14, 2014 // 07:00 AM EST

 

A two mile-thick ice sheet in Antarctica is collapsing, which all but guarantees at least 10 feet of global sea level rise. That’s grim news for the 44 percent of the world’s population living in coastal areas, who now face the dire prospect of preparing for the coming tides. Developing the necessary engineering solutions, as well as plans to anticipate some inevitable social and economic destabilization, will prove a daunting challenge for millions of communities worldwide. Which is why, along with the engineers, we’re going to need utopianists.

In 1962, haunted by the specter of nuclear annihilation, the sociologist Lewis Mumford penned a new preface to his book, The Story of UtopiasHe noted that utopianism tends to thrive when civilization is in turmoil, and that far from being useless pie-in-the-sky dreaming, our utopian myths, schemes, and fictions hint at what he terms society’s “potentialities.”  

“[E]very community possesses, in addition to its going institutions, a reservoir of potentialities, partly rooted in the past, still alive though hidden, and partly budding forth from new mutations, which open the way to further development,” Mumford wrote. In the face of utter destruction by the bomb, he said, there was nonetheless an opportunity to “renew in man himself the sense of his more-than-human potentialities.” 

Now, we’re faced with an existential crises of another stripe. Scientists have for the last few years considered a significant amount of global warming, and the sea level rise it brings with it, an inevitability. Now that we have a forebodingly certain baseline in place, it’s an apt time to look at some of the many utopian ideas that have quite literally—yeah, sorry—been floated to cope with the rising tides.

Image courtesy of Remizov

Floating Cities

I’ve been keeping a close eye on modern utopianism for the last couple years, and one of the most common themes is, unsurprisingly, floating cities.

Whether grandiose, or of the humbler variety, both sci-fi designers and urban planners are imagining how to raise our metropolises up to ride atop the rising tides. First, let’s look at what is maybe the most prevalent medium for modern utopianism on the internet—design fiction. You’ve maybe already seen some examples of the genre running through your feed; the self-sustaining, ark-like city designed to float in a globally-warmed world. 

This one, designed by Russian architect Alexander Remizov, is a “bioclimatic” ark—a self-sustaining, floating system designed to harbor insular communities of people in a disaster-ridden, high-tide world. It’s both apocalyptic and hopeful; we can keep our sleek modernist design and opulent lives, we modern-day Noahs decked out with smart tech, as the world ravages everything unfortunate enough to lie outside the walls we’ve built. 

According to Arch Daily, “Remizov envisioned this project as the house for the future which can be constructed quickly and withstand environmental disasters through its structural integrity.” Resilient, perfectly-organized floating domiciles aren’t just the focus of science fiction, though.

Image: NLE

In a poor neighborhood of Lagos, Nigeria—now Africa’s largest economy—local architects are trying to engineer an entire city to float. The first phase has been completed; the school is now essentially a moored boat. But the next phase of the African Water Cities Project is where the utopian planning begins in earnest.

According to Design Boom, “phase two includes the construction of floating housing units that can be interlocked or float independently… the houses will also contain a state-of-the-art device designed by Japanese company AIR Danshin Systems Inc that detects certain movements (such as earthquake tremors) and activated a compressor that pumps air into a chamber below the structure so that the dwellings may navigate safely over a flood plain.” It’s supposed to be completed by the end of this year, but as with most utopian schemes, it appears to be a bit behind schedule.

Floating Power

Nuclear energy was the original utopian energy source: boundless, clean, a triumph of science. To its advocates, it still reflects near-unlimited potential. So, to better suit our drowning world, MIT has made them float. These buoyed, modular reactors rise and fall with the seas; tsunamis ostensibly glance off them harmlessly, and they use the vast reservoir of ocean below them as a well for cooling water as they produce a font of clean energy.  Problems persist, of course; meltdowns or radioactive discharge are even more a terrifying specter at sea. 

Less controversial, but no less optimistic are other floating power sources; Singapore is getting ready to try out a pilot program for floating solar panels.

New Venices

If we cannot build utopian floating city-capsules, then perhaps we at least will be able to adapt our current infrastructure to the flood. Science fiction might offer some clues as to how.

The sci-fi historian Adam Roberts argues that “utopian writing becomes a sort of para-SF, entwining itself round the genre in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” Yet in traditional science fiction, it’s rare that irreversible climate change produces hopeful communities; Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 is the exceptional vision that does. 

“It was almost an ice-free planet now, with only Antarctica and Greenland holding on to much, and Greenland going fast. Sea level was therefore eleven meters higher than it had been before the changes,” Robinson writes. “This inundation of the coastline was one of the main drivers of the human disaster on Earth.” Pertinent words, those.

After a couple generations of terrible chaos, some degree of stability reemerged—as well as a New York City replete with Venetian canals laced between permanently submerged skyscrapers. Life, and its messy bustle, goes on: “A few parts of Manhattan’s ground still stood above the water, but most of it was drowned, the old streets now canals, the city an elongated Venice, a skyscraper Venice, a super Venice—which was a very beautiful thing to be. Indeed it was an oft-expressed cliche that the city had been improved by the flood.”

Floating Free Market Utopias

Image: Seasteading Institute 

It’s doubtful that libertarians like Peter Thiel are all that interested in fighting climate change; statistically speaking, most don’t consider it a pressing issue. But their long-gestating Seasteading communities, those floating free market utopias where the tech elite can innovate away without the burdensome shackles of government, incidentally appear primed to adapt to a high-tide planet.

Rising Prospects for Radical Change

From the beginning, Occupy Wall Street was a utopian project in the strictest sense—a leaderless, ultra-egalitarian activist community founded at the foot of its participants’ oppressor. Utopian projects are often most notable for how they illuminate the gulf between imperfect reality and their lofty aims, and the gulf OWS, was attempting to bridge was glaringly self-evident: Students, laborers, and average citizens couldn’t find work, while profits for the 1 percent soared. A radical adjustment to income equality was therefore in order.

When Hurricane Sandy, pulling from sea levels raised by climate change, washed over New York City, the movement’s ideals were again translated into action—and we saw a glimmer of how besieged coastal communities might organize to respond to crises. Decentralized, democratic, networked, and better organized than legacy aid efforts, Occupy Sandy empowered communities while delivering disaster relief. It proved Occupy could organize to provide shelter, health, food delivery, and other crucial services.

But, effective as it was, it also made the chasm to utopia again starkly evident, this time in the face of a harsh scientific reality—thousands of people are still without homes, and storms like this are going to keep coming. Occupy Sandy shows how far we need to travel before we’re ready for the disasters of the future—our institutions aren’t yet equipped to cope. 

That’s why we need to consider each of these utopian ideas (okay, maybe not the Steasteads). As Mumford says, even if the total vision they convey are ultimately impossible, they reveal the potentialities in our communities to first adequately imagine, then adapt, life beset by rising seas.

 

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Thanks to OZON online and magazine for featuring my work Concept Of Since : 24 Options, 2014 in their review of Art Athina 2014.

My work was part of the annual residents show for SNEHTA artist residency.  The group show titled: Things Are Different Now”  Included past residents who have participated in the SNEHTA artist residency.

Click here for the whole article. 

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Seung Teak Lee and Mi Jung from STPMJ architects have designed this invisible barn, situated within Socrates Sculpture Park.  The barn or folly mirrors its surroundings, becoming one with the tress and seasons around it.  The building tricks the eye and operates as a glitch in the landscape.  The presence of it amongst the trees is subtle and its actual foot print being minimal also allows it to hide and camouflage itself, it allows those that experience it to engage not just with it but also with the landscape that encapsulates it.  Its walls seem to be the very nature that surrounds it.  

This project was awarded a notable entry for the ‘folly 2014′ – a competition led by the architectural league and socrates sculpture park.

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The photography work of Sam Irons presents photographs of everyday situations and vistas but with twist.  The way the scenes are framed and composed subtract them from the world we maybe familiar with and suggest somewhere else an otherness.  These heterotopic visuals leave us to rebuild the story and context to comprehend them.  They allow us to engage with spaces that otherswise we would just digest without a second thought.  For more work please check his website here.  

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