UK notes

Research undertaken since re-enrolment at 1st March 2007:

Ongoing re-establishing of my project and redefining of research questions following the period of suspension for maternity leave.

I have gained readership at Hyman Kreitman Research Centre at Tate Britain

Had appointments at Prints and Drawings Room at Tate Britain where I have made sketches and watercolour studies from a number of Turner’s Colour beginnings (sketches in watercolour). The aim of studying these works and making copies from them is to gain understanding into Turner’s choice of subject and handling of paint. What he chooses to focus on in these watercolours and what is later developed into a painting may help me to determine whether his interests were in colour or movement. I hope to have discussions with Julia Beaumont- Jones the Print Room coordinator but as yet she is unable to find time.

I have requested a possible meeting with Turner curators Ian Warrel or Nicola [??] this may be a conversation or an email question session depending on their availability and time.

I have been looking more widely in the library archives for material on artists working with the weather and the notion of experience, and hoping to find artists whose work encompasses both. So far my reading has included the following:

Exhibition catalogues:
Olafur Elaisson: The Weather Project (A Tate Modern project )
The Snow Show curated by L Fung
Painting not Painting, Tate St Ives project
Weathervane, Ottawa Gallery Canada
Wilhemina Barns-Graham catalogue: Movement and Light Imag(in)ing Time (essay by Mel Gooding), Tate St Ives project

Painting the Weather , by Richard Stemp
The Assassination of Experience, Jean-Francois Lyotard
Shades – Of Painting at the limit, John Sallis
Empathetic Vision – Art, affect and trauma, Jill Bennet

Artists Books:
A Still Dawn, Tara O Brien
Blue Sky Research, Lin Charlston
Nature Diary, Eileen Mayo

Some Connections and Differences between Visionary Experience and Painting, Adrian Stokes (undated c1962)

This reading is hoped to widen my knowledge of the context of my inquiry in a historic sense and in contemporary projects.

What is most useful that I’ve discovered so far?

Vija Clemins work and approaches resonates with me a lot in terms of my own work.

Turner stuff… need to go over Venice notes and actually go and look at a couple more works.

Weather and experience reading – this has been really useful. It backs up my theory that a lot of this work does operate in modes other than painting.

What have I learned about painting particularly? The Monet shades of painting comments are interesting in terms of how paintings work and what effects they have – does he talk about affect? Need to clarify that.

Affect – lots in photography (Uta barth) and sculpture and installation -

Quote from Drawings After Turner exhibition:

“However in copying Turner it seemed that the marks were almost incidental, a record of the experience of seeing rather than a blueprint for composition. This made the drawings seem at once more incidental and more crucial, as they appeared to be almost superfluous to the final paintings, and yet an essential tool informing their intelligence and sensitivity” Lucy Coggle on her experience of copying a Turner work.

It is noted in Ruskins writing on Turner as a ‘Painter of Clouds’ that he set up a production line and worked on several pieces of paper at once, laying down one colour on them all … I find this interesting in relation to the way I set up many canvases and often work on several at once, particularly in the spray layer stage. This also was a feature of the way Monet worked.

“Turner’s concentration on a dominant colour for each work…challenged the conventions of naturalistic representation, offering instead something more sensory and elusive: a subjective vision of aesthetic unity: p 171

I noted that Whistler, Turner and Monet all worked on series, in series and intended the work to be seen together for ‘full impact’ to see endless variation of tone, touch, texture.

So the experience of seeing an exhibition or group of paintings is very different to seeing an individual work, how to I feel about that relating to my work? Is it a weakness, no, just a difference and is part of the process of showing works.

Permanent display of Turner works titled ‘Finished or unfinished?” – clearly our modern sensibility all could be considered finished, although Turner probably did not consider them as such. The works are incredibly dynamic – storym seas, thunderstorms, fire, sunrise. They are rough, physical yet delicate in tone. They ought to move more, yet some don’t at all.

Framing – the works that are framed seem hemmed in. the forces of the storm in the work is held in, cut short. Those works that are unframed seem to extened onto the walls. This is why I don’t frame my works.

Scale. I can’t help wishing these works were bigger. Would Turner paint them huge if he were painting now?

Texture: close up the works have fascinating texture. Turner looks to have gotten right in there with palette knife, brush, fingers. They perhaps are studies, maybe the finished works wouldn’t contain all this texture mish mashed together, results of experimentation left visible.

The works dissolve, the subjects dissolve close up, (as with the Monets), they are nothing, ephemera, tonal contrasts, texture and movement. At a distance there is the sense of squall, of waves crashing against the shore, close up there is paint and marks of a hand, arm, mind across the canvas. They are produced works, not as experiential as they are designed to seem.

27 March.

Modern Painters magazine:

Ann Craven, makes paintings and repeats the work 10 years later – this in an interesting take on time in painting, and memory figuring in the works. Craven comments on Agnes Martin and her work as a “visual emblem marking time”. Craven’s work in the article is described as “not an act of mimesis per se but instead one of copying as filtered through memory of a continuous ‘just past’”.

Painting the Weather – BBC book details on website. Overly simple explanation of use of weather in painting.
Constable in letter to John Fisher, 1821:

Skies must and always shall with me make an effectual part of the composition. It will difficult to name a class of landscape in which the sky is not the ‘key note’, the ‘standard of scale’, and the chief ‘organ of sentiment’. The sky is the source of light in nature – and governs everything.”

I still paint skies.

Howard Hodgkin “painting is always based on personal experience. This is often expressed in terms of the memory of an event or situation.”

Turner’s ‘Rain, Steam and Speed

Has a ‘translucent, thin layer of paint dragged across the picture to create the effect of rain. The paint mimics what the rain does – providing a transparent screen between us and the landscape’

Mimicking what the rain does – I like this, it is what I do with my works too, spraying layers of ‘rain’ onto the works. The idea of screens between us and the landscape or work – I am looking at layers in the work itself, playing off the layers against each other. Visually however I don’t get the trace of this, no visual residue necessarily of the raining, spraying process – do I need to? Should I change this?

The Snow Show

Show in Lapland using, ice and snow installations in a collaborative project between artists and architects.

The show brings together many points of interest for me – weather, water, experience and experientiality, phenomena, phenomenology, perception, time, memory… although the results are not painting.

Particularly like the Anish Kapoor work of sprayed red dye onto a wooden mould, creating layers as the water froze. It’s a large red blob in the middle of the white snow, made entirely by layers of sprayed water. Is it a frozen painting?

Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project, Tate 2003

The elements of weather, water, light, temperature, pressure – are the materials that O.E has deployed throughout his career. His works harness the precarious and evanescent aspects of nature.

Eliasson himself describes his works as ‘phenomena- producers’ often these devices generate replicas of nature’s phenomena.

It still seems to me that all the works I find relating to weather, perception and time are sculptural and or installation based – not painting. They utilise the body of the viewer to walk through a space, complete the work by either being there or by seeing, touching, hearing something. Can I do this in painting, or is the strength of painting that it is always complete in itself as it is. It always exists whether someone is seeing it or not. The works utilise retinal after images, complementary colours – these aspects of painting are experiential and could be said not to exists unless there is a viewer experiencing them.

Eliasson’s works do many of the things I would like my work to do. His are on the one hand quite literal although retain an ephemeral quality too. They are experiential and certainly beautiful in ways.

Uta Barth, White Blind, Bright Red, 2004. Cat essay by Jan Tumlir

‘the moment of picture taking signals a breach in the continuity of perception. Barth calls it an interruption and its results are inevitably marked, scarred in the process.

The catalogue for the work discusses the idea that the camera lens is an eye, the black box (of the camera) the mind, film is memory, and photographs are thoughts. And the opposite… could this be useful for me?

“Foregrounding the act of looking Barth’s pictures imply a duration, a sense of perception that unfolds in time, and thereby also a phenomenology. However, they can only do so by cutting into and subdividing the original phenomenal moment, and this act – the act of photographing – inclines more to the ontological end of experience. The vaguely paradoxical ‘oscillation’ that her pictures perform between these two poles is noted by Conkleton in relation to … where is rest of quote??!?

Katharina Grosse, Perspectives 143, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, 2004.

Interview with Katharina Grosse:

KG: it became clearer to me during my studies that I needed something that was very immediate, where the result was visible right away, whereas in sculpture, printing or photography (with the development process) or video, you need extra tools to make your work visible. I was so much faster with painting, and to split time and movement and space into smaller units was easier for me in painting. “

With regard to different supports (canvas, walls, paper) is there a dialogue between them?
KG: at the beginning there was this simple impulse to paint on whatever I could get hold of, but later, as I got more and more into the different media I used to paint on, I understood that the potential of painting was actually in its independence from the different supports that on the other hand define specific conditions in terms of space and time”

Tate Modern April 4th

Rothko room – reconfigured display of works originally commissioned for restaurant in NYC but given to Tate instead. Rothko left very detailed conditions for lighting of the works. I’m interested in this aspect of control some artists want over their works in spaces.

Contemporary painting room –

Dumas paintings seem overrated to me (at least today, perhaps I’m not in the mood).

There is a Gary Hume piece that really does not seem to be performing what it says in the text or what the artist says about it. I find it interesting this aspect of the notes that accompany paintings in museums. They are prescriptive and can be misleading, but it is hard even for me with this thought in mind, not to read them. Old habits die hard. How to subvert this?

Tacita Dean – The Roaring 40s

Wonderful series of drawings in chalk on blackboard panels. Beautifully drawn and enjoyable to see a piece with simple narrative yet extremely effective, powerful.

Walking around the museum today I feel very clearly that paintings operate on a very affective level – physically, emotionally, sensorily. They make me dizzy, they induce movement, they take time, contain a sense of time. Paintings very clearly deal with time and movement, how do mine specifically?

Looking at the relationship between photography and painting – artists who work in photography and whose work deals with subjects that relate to mine: Uta Barthe, Sugimoto, Jari Silomaki, Crystal Lebas

But paintings? Are there paintings that deal with weather, time, landscape, memory, experience… probably thousands…

April 11th

Aritst Jim Lambie – vinyl installation at Tate St Ives, striped vinyl all over floor, very similar to Sara Hughes piece at Hocken Library/DPAG..?
From an exhibition called ‘Painting not Painting’ Tate St Ives project

Catalogue essay on works – ‘the work draws its energy from an easy acknowledgement that art can both affect everyday experience and be shaped by it”

Victoria Morton pieces – spray gun experiments were like “ scattering droplets of paint like distant galaxies over vistas of infinite depth” “ the experience of looking at one of Morton’s paintings often begins with a dizzying rush, a vertiginous feeling of depth and motion that makes you acutely aware of the process of looking and seeing”

Adrian Stokes essay “Some Connections and Differences between Visionary Experience and Painting” also called “ Some Connections and Differences between Visionary and Aesthetic Experience” circa 1962

Stokes refers to two types of colour; ‘film colour’ and ‘ surface colour’

He suggests that film colour: ‘ is a colour-effect distinct from the predominant chromatic usage in painting where colour is linked with surface as a rule, with texture, with objects in space. Film colour represents the ‘non symbolic”

Does contemporary painting still fit this definition of colour usage? Or is contemporary work using film colour as well as surface colour? Colour is an attempt to harness feeling, essence, space rather than surface. Monet wanted to ‘spray colour in the air and have it stay there”

Stokes comments on Impressionism that the emphasis is placed on surface and texture combined with a penchant for a chromatism that suggests film colour.

But – “who would suggest that the impersonal observation, studious calm communicated by Vermeer’s interiors is not transfiguring? All masterpieces are transfiguring if we mean by this last work that we are taken up into them. They differ from visionary objects in that they also symbolise and unchanging object-outwardness.

Visionary film colour – what you see when you shut your eyes

“ I regarded the experiences of colour that are inseparable from textures to be potentially aesthetic, allowing in the aesthetic effect only a small admixture of the always spongy chromaticism, ill defined space, of film colour”

April 18th

Shades – of painting at the limit, John Sallis.

“Monet said he “painted directly before nature in my search to render my impressions before the most fugitive effects”. Setting theories aside, painting directly before nature, Monet would paint his impression of – his impressions before – nature’s most fleeting effects” ... and I would add to this that he did so creating works of great affect.

“ what is to be said, then, about the relation of Monet’s paintings to those particular, actual wheatstacks? How is one to weave a discourse pertinent both to Monet’s Wheatstacks and to the wheatstacks that once stood in the farmer’s field in Giverny? Such discourse would only venture to duplicate in its own register what Monet’s painting accomplishes in deed, in the work: effective circulation between the inside and the outside of the painting.”

So – does he mean that what painting does cannot be duplicated really? If it does it in its own language, should it perhaps be left there to be understood in its own language? Will its effects, effectiveness, affect then be lost in translation?

Sallis’ chapter on Shades of Time, looks at Monet’s series painting and discusses his working on many canvases at once for different times of the day and weather conditions. One assumes he moved between works a lot. In this way a series of works can be said to be dealing with time, re-presenting time. But what then happens to that sense of time when the works are seen individually? They still function, but perhaps with less effect.

Uses words: instantaneity, render, envelope and atmosphere – these all come from quotes from Monet himself in letters etc. Do I need to analyse them further? Sallis uses them a great deal and goes into definitions of them that are on the one hand useful and on the other possibly over doing the translation from French into English and giving them more significance than they need?

“Dispensing with theories, Monet’s painting would render his impressions before nature’s most fleeting effects.” p 40.

“there is nothing beyond the painting, no meaning to be conveyed somehow by its contours and shades or by the rendering of surface that they effect on the surface of the painting. There is no original sense that would be imagined in the sensible work, making sense palpable to sense. “

“Monet’s is an impression, then, in which things would be rendered in the fleeting sensible presence, leaving the concept aside and submitting the object as such to the conditions of its palpability to sense.” P 41

“ it is the spread of light throughout an atmosphere, the shining that governs the visible presence of the things that are enveloped by the atmosphere suffused with light” p 45 (- relate to Turner’s paintings on Venice atmosphere?)

April 24th

Notes from Empathetic Vision, Trauma, Affect and Art. Jill Bennet.

What is required is a framework that challenges the nexus between art and experience and a realist aesthetics: a framework that distinguishes the kind of inquiry that art might instatiate from the idea that art is a vehicle for the interpersonal transmission of experience” p 6

Generally Bennet’s book is about trauma and attempting to discuss how art about trauma functions. She looks at realism, reality, representation, transmitting meaning. Trauma art that is not the artist’s trauma but general, or when personal is this ok? How to do it with respect without reduction, mimicry or appropriation.

Deleuze suggests that physical affect and emotion are far more important in triggering profound thought (than intellectual stimulus). Philosophy and wisdom are triggered by the senses not the mind. There is ‘what leads to thought’…impressions which force us to look, encounters which force us to interpret, expressions which force us to think” Deleuze quoted on p 7 (find original reference)

Bennet makes interesting points on affect in art, although foregrounded with trauma it is not that useful for me in many ways. There is a focus on art theory, rather than art, but it is useful to have thoughtful theorising about affect in art, with reference to representation and the unrepresentable – in this case trauma but I could perhaps utilise this to my unpresentables – experience, memory…

She talks of ‘opposition between affect and representation’ is this a given? Can there be representational art that has affect? Yes, but perhaps the affect is not in its representational aspects, they are opposed then, but can co-exist?
Can we judge affect as good or bad? Moral or immoral? Some more worthy than others? Perhaps in relation to trauma (with the notion of appropriation etc) but more generally I don’t think it can be qualified.

“I shall show that art works can be regarded, not simply as illustrating certain clinical, psychological or psychoanalytic propositions, but as engendering new languages of trauma that proceed from its lived experience.” – Can we change this for – artworks engender new languages (of experience, or simply new languages) proceeding from lived experience.

“ I shall move towards a consideration of the ways in which affective responses to artworks can be thought provoking as well as emotive – and, specifically, how they can produce a form of empathy that is more complex and considered than a purely emotional or sentimental reaction.”

Is her split between thought and emotion contradictory? And is she placing thought on a higher plane – or suggesting (after Deleuze) that emotion produces thought? Both I think.

In my work am I suggesting that affect/emotion produces thought? That they are the same and/or as ‘good’ as each other? Are they essentially linked or quite separate entities?