Statement: Meta-morphosis series

The Meta-morphosis series (1994 – 1998) was made using the etching process as one that can imitate weathering and aging processes. The prefix “meta”, a chemistry term, refers to the use of acids and salts, or the organic derivative of an acid; “morphosis” is a change, transformation or degeneration. Printmaking allows for stages in the series to become visible, as each plate was printed at certain stages in its degeneration.

Both Meta-morphosis I and II reveal on the one print the several stages of the image as it metamorphoses. In Meta-morphosis III to XII, each stage stands alone. These stages are subtitled the primo, or first state, which was followed by a progression of deep etches, printed to produce the secondo (second) state, and deeply etched again to form the terzo (third) state. A fourth set of variations is subtitled Passages, in which each of the three states of a plate were printed as layers over each other on the same sheet of paper.

The Meta-morphosis prints reveal a multiple life in which every stage in their degeneration is important. They are images of forms becoming aged to disintegration, the origins of the images becoming uncertain, their disparate forms merging but not absorbed. As prints they exist as stills from a moving process. As a series they draw attention to the continual morphing and weathering of form.

Brian Eno on culture

(a deep-etched copperplate of mine)

Scribblingwoman recommended having a look at a post over at wood s lot about Brian Eno and A Big Theory of Culture.

This is essentially an interview of Brian Eno about his book, A Year With Swollen Appendices – long but very fascinating and inspiring reading. Here are a few excerpts to pique your interest:

The informed viewer or listener is invited to think like an artist and therefore in a sense to become an artist. This is good for art and good for civilization…

We see what a good artist does with his mind all day. It’s inspiring.

“is there a way of understanding why humans continuously and constantly and without exception engage in cultural activity?” We don’t know of human groups that don’t produce something that we would call art. It seems to be something that we are biologically inclined to do. If we are, then what is the nature of that drive? What is it doing for us?

The first assumption is that all human groups engage in something that we would call artistic behavior – if they are at all capable of it, that is if they are beyond the most basic problems of survival – and even when they aren’t, they will engage in decorative, ornamental, and often very complex stylistic behavior.

This is the point at which there is a deep connection between art and science: each is a highly organized form of pretending; of saying “let’s see what would happen if the world was like this.”

One of the things art does also is to remind you constantly of this process that you’re most of the time engaged in – the process of metaphor-making.

and much more…. recommended reading!

This has taken the earlier posted discussions of Why Make Art? to a higher level.

Thoughts on PATHS

Notes from my sketchbook, January 27th, 2000:
— the places one walks, the surface under one’s feet
— the journeys one makes, physically and mentally and artistically
— the explorations into unknown territory… as in walking on new ground, new places…learning new ways of working ie. computer technology and how to apply it to the printmaking studio…new media …web art…
— where do these “paths” lead to?… “heaven”, some other “state”…..?
— connections to previous work, such as use of images of Hornby’s rocks also relate to “Paths” theme

The Paths series of prints (1998 – 2000) began with experiments in totally new techniques for me and the studio: digitizing images and using photopolymer emulsion*.

*Technical notes on photopolymer intaglio:
See Tools. Simply put, a photo sensitive polymer emulsion is applied to a metal plate (I usually use copper), the inkjet film positive is placed on top, and exposed to a very bright light. The first emulsion that I used was ImagOn, which is thick and takes on etching-like depressions on the film that hold the printing ink, so no etching is necessary. I prefer etching, so later started using a thinner emulsion Z-Acryl that allowed for this. Of course, the printing process then follows in creating an edition of prints.

Read more about printmaking at What is a print? and more on prints.

Science picks our brains about art

I’ve been enjoying reading North Coast Cafe for a few weeks, but only recently did I dig deeper into the Visual Arts category, and found this fascinating January 26th entry:
Emotions in Art and the Brain. This was the theme name for a conference on neuroesthetics that was held back in January and reported in the Washington Post:

If you stick people into a machine that does functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI — a brain scan, in layman’s terms) and then show them paintings they find beautiful, you can see certain characteristic bits of their brains going wild with delight — or so suggests the recent research of Semir Zeki, an eminent neuroscientist at University College London who’s recently also become a leader in neuroaesthetics. The brain shows a slightly different response to ugliness, including stirring up motor centers that also buzz when someone’s angry.

Do read the posting and the article for yourself. I do believe the findings have some truth, and the writer of North Coast Cafe gives some examples of these feelings. Yet I’m left with many questions. Why does artmaking make us artists feel better? Why do some art works create a happy buzz for one person and an angry buzz for another, or no reaction at all? Are some people more “sensitive” to art naturally, or is it because of education? As an artist myself, these questions frequently test me. I wonder if science will be really ever be able to measure all these complexities in art’s effect on human emotions, and is it necessary?

Why Make Art?

Anna Conti in her Working Artist’s Journal (April 7/04 entry) brings up this perennial question that we artists are always asking of ourselves:

“Why make art? What is it good for?”

She writes: “I don’t think we’ll ever know. The compulsion to make pictures, sculptures, stories, or music has been part of being human since prehistoric times. What changes are the explanations we come up with to explain or justify our behavior. We have to come up with an explanation that will convince people to leave us alone so that we can keep making art. Or better yet, an explanation that will convince people to support us in making art.”

I particularly enjoyed all the quotes from many well-known artists answering this question.

UPDATED Jan.2014: Anna Conti started a new blog in 2006, and we lost her older pages and comments. Hence the link no longer works and has been removed.

I am also sorry to have lost the excellent comments I received here as they did not transfer with my blog’s recent move to WordPress. Time takes its toll even in the blog world.

Miksang and the art of perception

As a newcomer to blogging, my recent explorations have been through the immense jungle of blogs on the internet. Chandrasutra’s blog* is one of the interesting finds in this online journey. Particularly fascinating is an item about Miksang photography in the art category, Jan. 13th entry. This is a partial quote:

The inspiration for Miksang images is very different than traditional approaches to photography. You do not, for example, spend time ‘thinking’ about what you will photograph or go off into your day with a ‘plan’ about what you will photograph. You don’t “compose” the photo in anyway. It’s about looking but not looking ‘for’ but looking in. Experiencing, rather than thinking, about the world around you and being alive to all the textures, surfaces, colours. There is an avoidance of that which is narrative or relates to a generated thought. It is actually not simply a form of photography but part of a practice of contemporary Buddhist meditation. Miksang translates as “Good Eye” in Tibetan.

According to Toronto’s Society for Contemplative Photography, Miksang involves “the synchronization of eye and mind. When eye and mind are in the same place the moment by moment vividness of the visual world manifests and is appreciated fully. This manifestation is spontaneous – a flash of perception – the ordinary magic of the phenomenal world. When one connects with pure perception there is no struggle in making a heartfelt and brilliant photographic image that one can share with others […]. These moments of pure perception and appreciation happen all the time but we often ignore and devalue them. However, it is worthwhile to recognize and cultivate these moments because they recollect the inherent openness and goodness of our being.

What a lovely name for this vivid experience that all visual artists at some points have felt, not just in photography. Thanks, Chandrasutra!

*Update Dec.14, 2013: Sadly, this blog is no longer in existence.

Human Marks

For the past decade now, my work has largely been concerned with the marks left by humans and their art upon their environment. It is also about nature’s marks on humankind’s traces and upon nature itself.

My ideas come from a gathering together of experiences, particularly SEEING images that have a kind of pull or tug for me, with a sense of time, history, weathering, and aesthetic qualities. Some important places have been Italy, Germany, Finland, and Hornby Island, Alberta hoodoos and Royal Tyrrell Museum in Canada, and research on rock art from books and the internet.

Taking photographs when possible is a way of gathering materials and archiving images for possible future use in artmaking. Later, in the image-making process I respond again to certain collected photographs with a flash of intuition and excitement (inspiration?) when I see the connections between seemingly disparate imagery and discovering serendipitious things.

These works rarely show human figures except as indirectly represented, as in some rock art images, but there is a strong sense of human presence in the work. For example, this presence is very strong in Nexus IX & Nexus X.

“Nexus” means connections. I am intrigued by the multitude of connections between the past and present, between places, and even within my own work over many years of artmaking. I often reuse my past images in new combinations as I keep discovering new threads.