There has been an extended break since I completed A3 for BoW. After coming to a satisfactory conclusion to how my visual strategy and theory behind formations works, the focus shifted with me and my tutor how best to bring it into the public space. Two recommended essays from Robert really did help me to decide how, and where I should engage with participation and site-specificty. Firstly, Miwon Kwon’s essay One Place after Another: Notes on Site Specificity (1997) provides a strong overview on how the artists role has evolved from “…a maker of aesthetic objects…” to “…a facilitator, educator, coordinator, and bureaucrat.” (Kwon, 1997, p.103). This alludes to not only the multiplicity of roles the artist undertakes, but perhaps also the levels of meaning that can be attributed to the work. Kwon refers to the work of Richard Serra in how size, scale, location of the work are collaborators when determining how a work will be initiated in a specific space (see fig. 1.). In this sense Serra is as much a spatial consultant as he is a maker of sculpture. It is in this spirit that I see my formations being determined by the light and shadow patterns unique to the surface I attach my gaze.
Of course the creation of formations is not the solitary role for myself as an artist. Documentation as I have alluded to in A3 is an important part of site-specific work, particularly if the work will be in public, and ephemeral. Like street art, there will be no guarantee of its longevity. Looking into the work of artists such as Serra and James Turrell, two of my favourites in minimalist art, it is notable that they use dedicated specialists in art documentation. Serra works a lot with Lorenze Kienzle, mostly in black and white, which in Serra’s case, neutralises the surroundings from unwanted distractions. In publications such as Torqued Spirals, Toruses and Spheres (Serra, 2001), there is also a use of photography to document the process of making. A further document that can be created here is the viewers interpretation, something I find particularly engaging as a photographer, and something much more widely accessible with the development of smartphones.
Turrell’s work is largely photographed by Florian Holzherr, who frequently uses human scale as a tool to communicate size and perspective (see fig. 2.). His other main responsibility is to share the variations in light-colour which is central in much of Turrell’s work. Unlike Serra and Turrell, I have the means, skills and motivation; not to mention the lack of budget at this stage, to self-document. This is a primary autonomy for me as a photographer to document the work how I see it, while individual interpretations of my formations in a public space is the active role I want to leave to the viewer. If, like in the documentation of Turrell’s work I wish to use a human presence, the main ‘message’ I will be looking to communicate would be the potential interaction between the viewer and the work.
There is a potential issue on representation to address here. While I acknowledge the limitations of photography as not being able “…to capture the sensation of seeing it fully in the round, for only then does one experience it as an assertive, three-dimensional presence whose appearance shifts consistently with changes in light and shadow as well as in the viewer’s own position.” (Johnson, 1999, p.3), documentation does provide a reference point for the artist. This is most explicit when considering Richard Long’s A Line Made by Walking. The photograph is all that exists today of the original piece and in Long’s case, become the commodity. The multiplicity of interpretations the viewer could create from his/her own point of view supports Johnson’s position while simultaneously recognising the purpose to facilitate engagement.
What I take from considering photography in this context is that I have two separate jobs as a photographer, both to create and archive. Each of which contribute to the dialogue between art vs document; something that formed a large part of my previous Documentary module. Certainly the role of the document can also evolve into a means of income as a service to others if done well.
Dutch duo Graphic Surgery provide inspiration for me in getting the balance right, as they produce a series of both private and public interventions with construction inspired designs. The self-initiated pieces they produce are in many ways the most interesting work. The selected sites such as abandoned spaces provide a rich textural backdrop for documentation to a minimalist stencil (see fig. 3.). They are also more radical, in that they do not engage in negotiated collaboration like the commissioned work they produce, resulting in the full expression of the ideas they are exploring. But this mix of public and private offers a template of contemporary practice to both develop the craft of ones art, and create products/services that provide a means of income (that can be reinvested in further development).
My goal therefore in commencing with ‘production’ for A4, now that the theory and strategy is sufficiently grounded, is to accumulate a more radical self-initiated body of work I would like to present to suited collaborators, institutions in future, where production will be subject to “…the contingencies of locational and institutional circumstances.” (Kwon, 1997, p.93).
Graphic Surgery (no date) Available at: http://graphicsurgery.nl/work (Accessed on 18.03.19)
Holzherr, F (no date) Available at: http://www.florian-holzherr.com (Accessed on 19.03.19)
Johnson, G (1999) Sculpture and Photography: Envisioning the Third Dimension. UK: Cambridge University Press.
Kienzle, L (no date) Available at: http://www.lorenzkienzle.com/en/index.html (Accessed on 18.03.19)
Kwon, M (1997) ‘One Place after Another: Notes on Site Specificity’. In: October, Vol.80(1), pp 85-110
Serra, R (2001) Torqued Spirals, Toruses and Spheres. Germany: Steidl.
Turrell, J (no date) Available at: http://jamesturrell.com (Accessed on 18.03.19)
List of illustrations
Figure. 1. Kienzle, L (2008) Promenade [Photograph] At: http://www.lorenzkienzle.com/en/serrapromenade.11.html (Accessed on 18.03.19)
Figure. 2. Holzherr, F (no date) James Turrell JM Berlin [Photograph] At: http://www.florian-holzherr.com (Accessed on 19.03.19)
Figure. 3. Graphic Surgery (2016) Uncommissioned [Photograph] At: http://graphicsurgery.nl/work/uncommissioned#2 (Accessed in 18.03.19)