Reflection: Case studies and learnings

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have started working with my ideas of shadowgrams and formations in the public space.

I quickly realised that working with a camera setup was too slow and intrusive. Much like my notations and many of my earlier OCA projects, I drew on the incognito characteristic of the smartphone which allows me greater mobility and dexterity in operating within the public realm. My ‘gear’ was now reduced to a simple A4 wallet which I carried chalk (for dark surfaces and paint stick (for light surfaces) and an A4 card to mark the space. I could then use the wallet for transporting the prints for installation. In a way, the wallet has become part of the “…presence of the artist…” which then “…endows places with a ‘unique’ distinction.” (Kwon, 1997, p.105).

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My first attempts were more subtle, with a simple monochrome conversion. I later realised that a higher contrasted shadowgram stands out better in the space as the print is not aiming to offer a particular color or tonal accuracy but the presence of shadow in a mosaic of light and time. I found the inclusion of the subject that creates the shadow is important in a documented process, without this the abstraction is a little too vague in presentation terms, but perhaps more easily understood when being in the physical space, the viewer can ‘psychically’ connect the dots and interpret themselves from a three dimensional starting point (Campany, 2018). This is the place I would allow the viewers level of participation to intervene. But in the photographic record the image needs to explain itself and be more concise.

Prior to commencing with this period of production, I considered the matter of scale and its impact in encouraging me to pursue smaller shadow projections. What I became attracted to were easily identifiable objects such as a bike or railing. From which I could select the most interesting intersection points of the shadow and create a small mosaic of 1-3 placeholders sized A4. The importance of returning an image to its place of creation in a 1:1 scale is something I was able to verify in some cases as there was an identifiable mark on the surface which could be aligned. Thus authenticating the artists theoretical intent.

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Further evidence of being a concealed nomad was that my printing was done off-site nearby in my studio space. Again I see a connection to the processes of stencilling in street art. In time I became more efficient in preparing the adhesive (double-sided tape) in-house allowing for a smoother process for installation.

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The process evolved itself in that I would have a specific ‘shot-list’ for each intervention. Something I explained in entering the public space. Once I had been able to reflect on the first examples I could search for a greater sense of continuity. What started to become systematic was how this sequence was executed, the confidence I had in this approach and the ease in which I could start to pre-visualise the result, meant I could spend more of the time creating more interesting formations.

Another discovery was that a further process was possible in time to record; the ephemerality of the work. As I returned to the locations I would come across added marks, scratches and even the removal of the piece. Once the ephemeral nature of the work was realised, presence is replaced by absence.

This impacted not only on the work that I actually installed, but also on the work that was prepared but I was unable to realise. For example in Ropewalks square I prepared a series of interventions, only to return later that day to find the entire facade was being repainted. While it could have been still interesting to install, the marked space of reference was lost and as such the intervention was aborted.

So in completing this first wave of examples and ironing out the process, I set out to produce some new pieces and document their presence until LightNight 2019, acting as a quasi participant. The resulting works I will present in my next post.


References

Campany, D (2018) ‘Physical Space, Image Space, Psychical Space’ In: davidcampany.com At: https://davidcampany.com/physical-space-image-space-psychical-space/ (Accessed on 04.12.18)

Kwon, M (1997) ‘One Place after Another: Notes on Site Specificity’. In: October, Vol.80(1), pp 85-110