Following on from my last post, I expanded on the isolated shadowgram by conducting further experiments within the domestic space. I recall when I was researching Uta Barth, that her approach of harvesting her work from within her own home reminded me of the studio of Piet Mondrian, who lived with his aesthetic in an ever evolving arrangement, showing “his signature style was something he discovered, not something he planned.” (White, 2014). This was something I wondered about, but due to time commitments I couldn’t follow-up on for another month. I find that the mystery of Mondrian’s home resonates with what I have been doing.
Each shadowgram I have produced has been the product of discovery as much as arrangement. Where the light appears evolves over time and the ‘spectacle’ is dependent of temporal and atmospherical conditions. As the A4 placeholders are positioned, there is still an element of ‘chance’ as I have superseded compositional control to the paper, meaning with the liberation from work I am “free to play." (Flusser, 1983/2000, p.29). The placeholders have accumulated, creating what Nicolas Bourriaud calls a “formation” (Bourriaud, 2002, p.21) that is site-specific.
As such what becomes important is not so much the abstracts, but the documentation. It reminds me of the ephemeral land art of people such as Richard Long, who relied on photography in works such as A Line Made by Walking to record his sculpture. The photograph is all that exists today of the original piece. Perhaps not as extreme but I do concur that the abstracts mean nothing when taken from their place of creation.
The formations have a resonance with the compositional quality in the work of Lee Ufan (b. 1936). His Korean minimalist paintings such as Correspondence and Dialogue (see fig. 1.) rely on the seemingly random arrangement of individual brushstrokes on the canvas. Lee’s method is a mix of ritualistic and phenomenological practice. Each brushstroke is carefully prepared but executed based on the experience of the moment.
Another formation in my work is this multiplicity of reference points, Mondrian, Kepes and Moholy-Nagy, ephemeral sculpture and Korean minimalist painting. This hybridity turns the visual strategy into a game. As Bourriaud says “Artistic activity is a game, whose forms, patterns and functions develop and evolve according to periods and social contexts: it is not an immutable essence” (Bourriaud, 2002, p.11). What is the use of this game in todays social context? I would suggest that it is a historical and global collection of influences that similarly conclude the uniqueness of exerpience in art. Moving away from “…imaginary and utopian realties. but to actually be ways of living..." (Bourriaud, 2002, p.13), or, perhaps at least, a way of seeing.
But perhaps furthermore, in creating a game that relies on its spatial-temporal existence, it can also become a democratic activity to promote ‘shared experience’ in the understanding of how photography works. In an age where almost everyone has the capacity to take photographs, there is little physical interaction as the most collective act today is the selfie, while the image only ‘exists’ on screen.
Bachelard, G (1958/2014) The Poetics of Space. New York: Penguin.
Bourriaud, N (2002) Relational Aesthetics. Paris: Presses du Réel.
Flusser, V (1983/2000) Towards a Philosophy of Photography. London: Reaktion.
White, M (2014) ‘Mondrian Guide to Life’ In: Tate [online] At: https://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/mondrian-guide-to-life (Accessed on 07.09.18).
List of illustrations
Figure. 1. Lee, U (2009) Dialogue [Oil, stone pigment on canvas] At: http://www.studioleeufan.org/main/ (Accessed on 29.11.18)