This year’s residency just finished has been a very rich and intense experience. One opportunity I found particularly valuable was being shown how to make a projection mapping installation at South Kiosk Gallery in Peckham. We worked in groups and achieved a poetic end result which in turn made me think of my painting. This surprised me as I was in a very different context to the studio, an urban one amongst people.
The projection mapping took the form of a video contained in a circular bowl*. The video it contained was a layered affair of photographic images portraying Peckham in terms of different levels and modes of interaction with it. It also incorporated a series of portraits of Iris in that context. The whole had a shimmering aliveness about it, which was also commented on by others. It seemed akin in its way to my painting, like a return to a familiar homeland of feeling but surprisingly to me, within an external environment that was completely different to the studio here. The projection mapping is a way of shaping and containing a world.
The circular motif is one that I use so much myself and I was asked about this in my research discussion yesterday when I had to explain why the circular gesture. I did actually do a post on that topic some time ago. Reflecting on the portrait content and the composition of the projection mapping has brought back into the foreground of my thoughts the poem Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror by John Ashbery
The poem describes the coming into being of a historic painting by Parmigianino as being a relationship of the painting itself with the world. I would say that my painting too represents a/my relationship with the world in a palpable way such that sense of the world, otherwise impossible to really comprehend, can be made through it.
Most interestingly, John Ashbery’s first ambition was to be a painter from the age of 11 until he was 15 he took weekly classes at the Rochester (USA) art museum.
Ashbery’s poem is endowed with a richness of thinking that for me seems to correspond with the intensity of thought applicable when I am making a painting – thinking and doing it pictopoietically. My own non-objective painting portrays me in terms of my thinking about it as I do it. It is not a picture of my face or outward appearance. My thinking concerns my/our fundamental relationship with the world, as a body. No one needs to see my face to know me, I am better known through my paintings as I have transferred myself into them. Surface appearance can actually mislead, after all. At my core reside existential questions concerning us all; how we came to be and why we exist at all.
Pictopoiesis is underpinned by the philosophical which basically enjoys thinking for the sake of it without needing answers. Thinking itself is free to all, that’s what I like about it. There is no consumerism that comes with thinking per se. Thought itself is a precious endless freedom that we can make of what we will. It has boundless potential. At the same time principles are in operation all around that are best understood through facts as obtained through scientific endeavour and these counterbalance the continuous musing mode of the philosophical. I try to put it all together in a painting, all these different modes of thought into an imaginal place of cohabitation. It would be impossible to do if I stuck to just one mode of consciousness and thought about things in an already-established fashion. That is why I go back to origin and work from out of that, as that unifies me with it all at source.
The consciousness of source or origin is mentioned in my research paper. Yesterday’s research discussion Skype chat brought this component out and I had to explain myself. The Slow Circle drawing exercise acts as a way of citing this traceability back to source – the line returns to where it began. It is all a weave of thought, a treatise perhaps. Leonardo da Vinci wrote a treatise on painting that still reads as well today even after all that has happened in art in the meantime. Some things are core to art and these things need to be rooted out each and every time.
Painting, a way of seeing, as in understanding the world
So, now I have a new thread of thought that connects poetry, painting, portrait, and the circle/ spheroid using the tool of projection mapping. I think I shall make this an important component of my project, as it uses the digital as tool, extending the painting significantly out of itself but still maintaining connection with origin.
I now need to design a piece which weaves together these elements artistically, and adjust my project proposal accordingly.
*A bowl has poetry residing naturally in its form; it has an interior and exterior space. A bowl is like a body, and we experience the world as a body, perhaps that is the best way to understand it after all.