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Centre of attention: elephant or cockerel?


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ten seconds of watching Arttube’s video about the Designing the Surface-exhibition (posted on the website of het Nieuwe Instituut), brings you Chris Kabel, “concept and curator”, saying the following:

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Although just having visited the exhibition, I did not remember seeing a thickset, usually extremely large, nearly hairless, herbivorous mammal (family Elephantidae, the elephant family) that has a snout elongated into a muscular trunk and two incisors in the upper jaw developed especially in the male into long ivory tusks, [x] at all.

I started doubting if I had seen the same exhibition he was talking about but looking at the video we pretty surely had. But also on the screen (see above) there is no elephant to be seen. Maybe the zoo (or, so called fun fair)

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is too big for the elephant to be found? Impossible. Kabel even mentions giving the elephant centre stage,

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so it must not be too hard to find this “elephant.” What is really meant with the elephant in the room,

an obvious major problem or issue that people avoid discussing or acknowledging [x]

is the surface in design: apperently ‘avoided’ (as quoted above) or ‘ignored’ (Chris Kabel), en therefore in Designing the Surface, put in the centre of the room. Also should be to be found in one of the two other animals in the room: the golden cockerel.

The golden cockerel might be a bit rare - it’s one out of the three animals (an elephant, a zebra and a cockerel) n the zoo –  it is one of the first objects to be seen and written about:

ACT I PATINA: How does the fate of a golden cockerel and his companions intertwine with that of the tormented tale of two fountains, the first crafted from copper and the second one built from brass?

All to be found in a zoo perhaps? Or in the near surroundings of a church?

Gold-plated weathercock, lent by Museum de Roode Tooren, is a weathercock like any other apart from the fact that it’s gold-plated, and therefore it doesn’t lose its shine.

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Normally sitting on the church’s tower in Doesburg, shining bright and golden, the weathercock is certainly put in central view. And now put on the ground, looking at it from closer by, we are obviously not looking at the rotting wooden cockerel inside, but at the shiny golden elephant.

 

Gold-plated weathercock. Museum de Rode toren. exh.cat.no2-patina

21g


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

THE DOCTOR OF DEATH

On the 2nd of March at 14:35 I was sitting in the Starbucks at Rembrandtplein, ready to meet the “Doctor of Death”. It may sound like the title of a Blockbuster but in fact the Doctor of Death really exists between us. In Amsterdam. There are many more who have the same job like him but are not willing to talk about it. Believe me, I tried.

I meet Hans S. with mixed feelings. First of all because I was happy to finally find someone who wants to talk about his work and his feelings enrolled with it.

How does it feel like driving a Van filled with tools, make up, a cooling table and 2 big canisters of formalin? Does he whistle when he drives to work?

I was nervous, excited, but mostly curious to find answers to all the questions I had in my mind. It didn’t even matter to me anymore that I was sitting in a Starbucks coffee, listening to jazzy tones and observing the stage, filled with actors

A CALL FROM MY MEMORY

When I was asked to contact a person who’s work we are interested in I saw many pictures in my unconsciousness, but only one was very sharp. It was the picture of a Thanatopracteur. He looked into the camera (it was a scenery of a documentary I watched years ago), commenting: “I am not thinking about the fact that the person is dead. If I would think about his life, I couldn’t do this job as I would loose the focus.” The camera slides back and you see the surroundings of a body, covered by a clean, white sheet which is as stiff as the body under it.

FORMALIN VS. CELL EATING ENZYMES

A Thanatopractuer conserves dead bodies temporary with the help of the conscious use of chemicals. Four minutes after someone dies the body starts to decay. Blood circulation and respiration stops, the body doesn’t get oxygen and starts to release carbon oxides which cause an acidic environment. The low ph level causes cell membranes to rupture, releasing enzymes that would eat the cells from the inside out,……[x]. The “Doctor of Death” slows down the process by exchanging the body fluids, restore or reconstruct body parts in some cases and cover the appearance with make-up.

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TO MAKE-UP THE DEAD

Hans S. told me his daughter describes her dad as someone who “makes dead people look beautiful“. In that sense he gives people who are left behind the opportunity to say goodbye on an open coffin in a respectful way. Especially when people die unexpected the left behinds want to get the chance to see the person one last time before the coffin is closed forever. Hans S. said that otherwise you don’t consider someone as dead. You need to have the visual proof, see the dead person to truly understand the consequences.

NASAL FORCEPS, MEDICAL SUCTION PUMPS AND MORTUARY TROLLEYS

My first intention meeting a Thanatopracteur was all about attending a practise. I was interested in the tools he would use and the process itself as I imagine it a strange scenery and atmosphere to see someone working on a dead body.

Unfortunately it turned out it is not possible due to hygienically reasons and privacy rules. Therefore I had to work with the information I get from the talk.

THE GERMAN CODEX

The most fascinating topic for me became funeral rituals as part of a culture and how they see death in the context of life. During my research and comparing funeral rituals from different cultures my own culture became strange to me. It seemed like other cultures like the Mexicans make death part of life and even celebrate it. In Germany funerals proceed a specific codex [x] in which some points can be designed free depending on the way the body is buried.

I have never been at a funeral as I never lost a close person. I can only make assumptions for myself, exploring the territory like a journalist but also as a concerned. One day I will be at a one.

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THE FUNERAL AS A MEDIUM

I based my design object now on the idea to figure out what would help me to process the loss of a person and make use of the funeral as a medium. The funeral as a medium has the potential to help the bereaved to let go their emotions and share it. Everyone in the funeral came with the same intention and feelings as they had a story with the person who died. This creates an invisible bond between them which helps to feel no longer alone with your grief.

What if there was a room or space after the burial where you could go alone or together to transfer your emotions to an object and let it go whenever you feel like?

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THE RISE AND FALL

The first idea I had was to create an installation with small, handmade objects from different materials that would refer to the person who uses it. Each object would be linked to a ring with a thread and on the ceiling there would be hooks attached. The Thread would go threw the hooks to make the object rise.

However when I was working on the objects I felt there was something wrong with it. It seemed too artificial, too complicated and overloaded. The thread reminded me of a doll house theatre and I felt the technique of rising something would keep your mind rather busy than free.

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THE SUM OF 21g

However I still wanted to work with the body and the funeral as a medium to create a ritual, a shared experience for and with people who need to free their emotions.

While I was working on the objects I developed a feeling for the weight of different materials and started to become interested in it. I remembered from my research the story of a Doctor in the early 20ies, Ducan McDougall, who measured the weight of 5 persons just before and after they died. The result was, that their bodies lost 21 grams after the Doctor considered their death.

SCALE IS A BIT__!

I started to fell in love with the number and made it a restriction to create as many objects I can that would weight 21g in a sum.

I became inspired by the aesthetics of weights for precision scales and wanted to make objects that work as rings. Each ring would have a specific weight attached but will be carried by the person who chooses it.

 Immediately I began working on the objects in metal. However I didn’t had a precision scale during that time. When I already created a small metal collection I finally get a precision scale.

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The precision scale made me realise to stop working in metal and find other materials instead.

THE UPSIDE AND DOWNSIDE

During the process the way how to carry the object became really important. As a jewellery maker I am trained to see the ring-head upside, on the hand. In Jewellery terms it is so to say the main character of the Design. But do I want to communicate that?

((((CONTENT)))) >  DESIGN

The Design of the objects became less interesting to me than feeling their individual weight. It was like you are holding something fragile in your hand and you want to protect it.

So I stopped considering the objects as rings that would decorate your body but start to explore the content. When the object is hanging from the finger you are more sensitive for the weight. You can close your Hand around the object and feel the shape, the surface, the temperature, the weight and it is energy. You start to imagine what could be inside and take all your time you need to carry it with you during the funeral. You would be free to test the other weights or talk to other people to exchange your experience.

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THE WEIGHT OF LOSS

Duncan McDougall was obsessed with the idea to proof that the human have a soul by trying to measure it. For me as a creator it was interesting to work with the restriction of 21g. It became a challenge for me to be directed by a precision scale as it make you operate like a scientist.

The final piece will look like a wooden box on which surface there would be a formula resulting in 21g. Opening the box you would see different handmade weights not only from metal that you can carry with your finger. The box would be a suggestion to  put your thoughts of the dead person into the object and feel the weight of your memories, your thoughts and emotions. They will always stick to this object and you can carry it whenever you FEEL like.

CAPTURED AND CARRIED FOREVER.

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NOTES FROM THE DEAD


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

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Dying is something we all have to face one day.

When it finally happens, we trust on the people closest to us to give our remains a place to rest, playing the right music at our funerals and keeping us from being forgotten, by remembering us, and telling stories about us to our grand kids.
 
But what if a person dies who doesn’t have any close ones to remember them…
Who doesn’t have friends or family to attend their funeral..
 
In Amsterdam it happens multiple times a year.

 

The Pool of Death

Drug addicts, drunks or abusers rejected by friends and family…

Illegal migrants, wanderers and hobo’s without papers, permits and names…

Rejects and the misunderstood, whose mental disorder kept them living in seclusion… Recluses who cut off all social contacts or lost everyone that was ever dear to them… Elderly who outlived every last relative… Youth, abandoned and unable to survive on their own…

The pool of death is a group of poets, who honour the lonely deceased.

As the sole attendant of a lonely funeral they accompany the lifeless remains to the grave where they recite a specially written poem.

To write about someone, and give their story to the world, a poet needs to learn as much as they can. Like a detective, they look for clues. They visit the homes of those lost, talk to their neighbours, and search through city archives gathering as much information as they can to form a sense of the person that was.

The same week i received the assignment (to meet up with someone that inspired me), I attended a funeral, my second of the past two years. This very present sense of death and mortality made me think of the Pool of Death and the Foundation of Lonely Funerals, a project by artist/poet F. Starik.

 

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 Frank Starik

I had met Starik once before, about a year ago, when he was clearing out his workspace. He was leaving his current atelier to work from home, and couldn’t bring all the things that had come to fill that space. I got a tip from someone very close to me who was helping him sort out what he would take with him from what he would sell, that the rest would be thrown out.

Amongst all the things, I found this big box. Inside it, were all these wooden crosses. They were old crucifixes that all seemed to be missing their christ figures, leaving them to look like movie props for an old Hammer production starring Christopher Lee. When I asked him why he had so many of them, and what happened to their prophets, he addressed me in the solemn but raspy voice of a chain-smoking reverend:

“Well my son, I have dedicated a great part of my life to freeing Jesus from the cross…he’d been hanging there long enough!”

When I later continued my look around, I found an army of Jesus dolls lying carefully displayed on the ground, as if they were all out sunbathing on the beach.

Along with the crosses, I left with some old photo works. Most of them were collages made on old canvas frames, all black and white.

 

 The Detective

On an early Sunday afternoon I went to my appointment with Starik at his house.

Next to his writing table stood an enormous plant and above his couch hung a note saying: “we are decent and normal”. Some of his work’s consist of a note or message, handwritten on a painter’s canvas. I really like these works. They might seem simple but they work really well.

I was curious about the proces of writing a poem for a person that just died, in total solitude. Somebody you’ve never met: how do you learn about them? Are you allowed to visit their homes and search for clues like a detective?

He told me that sometimes it was very difficult, depending on the situation. He was allowed to go into their homes, but a lot of times these were in total chaos. The anonymous deaths are often discovered when the neighbours call the police to complain about the smell. It can be weeks before they are found, and by then, the bodies are in a state of decay. But sometimes you can find something that can be of use. He confirmed my suspicion and said it was very much like being a homicide detective. He always makes a talk with the neighbours, and if the person still has some long lost family members, searching the city archives can be a big help.

Sometimes people have a strange relationship with public workers, relationships that in a way replace the lack of closeness with anyone else in their lives.

He told me of the anonymous death of an autistic man, who had a special relationship with his plumber. Being extremely parsimonious, he was particularly stingy about his water-heater, and feared spending even a single cent too much. Every day he would blow the flame out, fearing it was burning away a lot of unused gas. Sadly he was never able to reignite the flame, so every day, when he needed hot water, he would call the plumber to reignite it. Because the plumber understood the man’s condition, and knowing this system would actually cost him significantly more than he was trying to save, they worked out a deal. Each day he called, he paid only 10 euros. This was still significantly more than he would pay if he simply kept the water heater running..

He also told me about another man who fabricated the whole of his own history. Among the stories he told people is one about him as an important war hero with the resistance. His long lost family members however, said he had actually been working for the Germans. He kept on with these stories for so long that he came to believe them, and lived on in his own fantasy, in his own fabricated biographies. In the poem Starik wrote for him, he kept those fabricated stories alive and didn’t kill them off.

 

 The Design

After you die, you sort of live on in marks you’ve left behind..in handwritten letters and notebooks…in old grocery lists…in doodles and scribbles… because handwriting is really someones second voice. Handwriting is personal, has a character that speaks for itself: a voice that is read instead of heard. Reading a person’s script, you can almost hear a person’s voice talking.

 
De Dichtkist

 
I wanted to make a sort of vending machine, containing unopened letters written by somebody that passed, so that the living could receive letters from the dead.
This transformed into the big turning of the wheels, and then to the transfer turning of a scroll from the bottom to the top. Inspired by Starik’s written canvasses, it became a sort of alter, displaying a composition of words.

 
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De Dichtkist (translates into “sealed burial box with poems“) is a tribute: a coffin for handwriting, an open casket, a single space for the second voice and all of its marks to collect, and with a bit of turning, display. As it fills up, that turning can lead to a sort of conversation. The second voice can speak with itself. Built from the wood of century old doors, de Dichtkist houses the marked memory of lives that will some day, come to end.

 

Criteria of beauty


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Step 0 | Question: What is beauty?

 

 

What is beauty? How can it be defined?

It could be an obscure question which does not have a clear answer. A topic of my first art theory class of this semester was just about it. The first chapter in Cynthia Freeland’s book, Art Theory: A Very Short Introduction was used and it also referred to aesthetic judgement of Kant. It has never been a simple subject for me, since there would be an enormous space to argue.

But a couple of months later, I happened to think of what is called “style” might have its own clear answer.

This idea made me feel a little bit better.

 

 

Step 1 | Dutch style aquarium has appeared as unknown territory

 


Work by Takashi Amano, the founder of the style “Nature aquarium”

 

When I got an assignment named “exploring unknown territory” in design class, I never thought about such a thing. As I need to meet a professional who inspired me to go in his/her context, I was simply looking for someone who I can contact in the Netherlands. In my mind, a specific genre of aquarium, Dutch style aquarium, came earlier than an idea of who to choose.

It is because an aquarium making was my hobby which I got interested in, few years ago in Japan. This aquarium is specifically called “Nature aquarium” in which you can create an “aquascape” resembling nature landscape by putting growing aquatic plants, stones, wood and little creatures like tropical fishes or shrimps in your tank.

Unfortunately I had to leave mine in Japan when I moved to Amsterdam, but I still had a little expectation that I would see a different type of aquarium. I had already heard the word of “Dutch style aquarium” even in Japan. Now is it time to explore it here, in the Netherlands?

 

 

Step 2 | The Answer from Dutch style aquarium

 


A work from category of Dutch aquascape in AGA contest 2015

 

There are two kinds of major styles of aquascaping. One is called Nature aquarium in which I had been interested since before, and the other is called Dutch style aquarium, the oldest style becoming popular during the 1930s in the Netherlands. The former has become the global mainstream since being established in Japan in early 1990s, but actually it came after the latter.

To know more about the Dutch style I tried to meet one of judges for a category of Dutch aquascape of the international aquascaping contest. Unfortunately it was not realized. Instead, I still could get a lot of information on the internet.

Though the most simple feature of the Dutch style is nonuse of hardscape material like stones or wood, the most interesting finding for me was the very detailed rules. It is very much specific.

 

It requires;
- well grown and defined grouping plants
- a small space between the groups
- clearly different height between the groups
- more than 3 plant species per foot (foreground / middle / background)
- terracing to convey depth
- rich contrasts (made by color variation, leaf height, texture)
- a focal point (emphasized by a red or large plant / by the effective use of the “Rule of Thirds” / only one focal point in tanks 36” or less)
- more than 70% of the floor planted
- imaginary streets / pathways of plant
etc…

 

You would also find that contest’s judgments are always given from an objective viewpoint, if a work fulfills the criteria mentioned above or not.

In my mind, these were immediately connected to the question, how aesthetics can be judged, which was discussed in the theory class before. If the guidelines of aesthetic, could be applied to even other things?

Then, I decided to try to make “beautiful” compositions by appropriating these criteria for totally different things.

 

 

Step 3 | Then, what can the criteria fit?

 

The first cutout with images from “SimCity” app

 

It was not easy to choose the objects for the composition.

I think I was caught too much by the idea of choosing a specific motif, which needs arrangements as well as aquascapes do. What came in my mind, for example, was still life painting, architecture or city planning. I actually have tried to make some 3D collages with these motives.

After some struggle, my idea eventually reached autonomous graphic compositions without any motives. It would be interesting to use things without any restriction, than to focus on a specific objects, since it has more expandability. What is more, I could not imagine the result and it simply made me curious.

How much universal could this criteria become? I wanted to make some studies to examine it.

 

 

Step 4 | Interpretation of aquascape language

 

 

To go on with this experiment, I deliberately applied some points mentioned below to my practices, choosing from many.

 

- Contrast by colors
the use of color highlights
black and white, green and red, positive and negative…

- Contrast by textures
fluffy, flat, glossy, mat…
photo prints showing different textures

- Contrast by shapes
curvy and strait, circles and angles
same shapes but in different size and height

- Focal point
A focal point provided by the use of above techniques
Application of the rule of thirds

- Imaginary pathways
Emphasis of the perspective

 

In addition to these rules, I found that aquariums are something in-between of 3D and 2D. I mean, it is actually three dimensional but the layouts are always considered from a fixed viewpoint. Traditionally tanks show only the front side and the other sides are totally covered. Photography always had an important role in showing it also. I put a camera in a position where I started to make each layout.

 

 

Step 5 | A result

 

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

 

In this experiment, I had already found that the goal of this project would not be to make an finished image but to try a lot of compositions as studies. What kind of results can I get from this? Is it “beautiful”? These kinds of tryouts are not completed in short time but should be just a starting point of pursuits.

Will it still continue?

Room


Thursday, April 20, 2017

 

 

I think they live differently. In a different world than mine. They look differently. They do not chase after things that capitalism offers. They live within a concept that is rooted from ages ago. The concept is centered around the immaterial. It is real for them. I would like it to be real for me too, but somehow it does not work. I wonder how it works for them. I think they are happy to have a one focus in life. I feel that my mind is out of focus. I wonder if in a contemporary society one is able to find a grounding. If one has to separate himself to find a clear focus, in order to create a space inside thoughts that are often dominated by information from the outside world.

 

 

 

Saša Karalic / Square

 

My process started with the interest in people who communicate with immaterial. I thought about contacting psychic mediums or ones who have strong belies in god. I ended up going to a monastery for 3 days. I was welcomed really warm and had long conversations with nuns on religion and their personal stories about their decision to live in a closure. I am not a christian myself, but i am interested in eastern philosophy, that also shares connections with christianity. And in the case of the monastery, the practice of silence was the strongest meeting point for me.

 

By separating themselves they fill the space with the highly structured concept, that occupies their lives from the very morning till the very evening. I resist to analyze the concept, but I rather focus on their inner state. Which seems to be empty form overdose of various forms of information. They have one form of information that can guide them through all. That information is received in a condition of silence. They said that the noise of the world disturbs the signal. And a closure helps to cultivate it, creating a room for exercise. They lived in a space that was elected for a special meeting, for a vertical sight and inwardness.  Space filled with quietness.

 

 

 

process

 

The first object I made was a silent book, that contains no written word or image. It was influenced by old religion books i found in the monastery. They were made ofreally thin paper, that was nearly transparent.

Later on I researched believe systems that contain practices or notion of silence and learned what does that mean. I also remembered a composition by John Cage “4’33”, where orchestra does not play any sound in duration of the piece. This piece is not necessarily about the silence, but it is more about the sounds of the environment, listeners are surrounded by. This made me think about the negative spaces, the inversion, the surroundings that are invisible.

 

The absence of sound is registered as non-existence and non-form. Emptiness is the inner state of things. Things around us are weightless. They do not have any meaning, only our mind creates meaning for them. Objects are silent and transparent.  We are surrounded by space and we float in it. The absence of sound is registered as non- existence and non-form. Emptiness is the inner state of things. Things around us are weightless. They do not have any meaning, only our mind creates meaning for them. Objects are silent and transparent.

 

 

 

silent book copy

 

I thought that the subject of silence could be expressed through a suggestion of the object that appears in mind but not in matter. In Japanese language word MA expresses a gap, a space, a pause. MA is also the thing that takes place in the imagination.

 

We are surrounded by space and we float in it. Space is a continuum. It gently touches objects not affecting them. If we would like to, we could see just space around us instead of objects. We could see negative shapes in objects instead of seeing objects themselves. We could experience how much weightlessness and formlessness is around us. Everything around consists of being and non-being, processes of becoming and vanishing.

 

2 .2

2.3

1.

 

Soap stone was the material I used for my objects. It is a really soft stone, also called a quiet stone, because of its properties. I carved abstract shapes in them, creating a negative shape of a suggestive shape. An immaterial object that can exist only in mind. Three stone objects work as the reminders of an inverse looking.

 

 

The Infinite Script


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

 

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“The infinite script” (2016) is an alternative way to look at a human being. It is an uncommon representation of a nature and specifics of mental and behavioral algorithms.
This work is an attempt to visualize a functioning organism as a mechanism supplemented with a human intelligence that uses algorithms. The visibility of the algorithms is created by a computational language and visual information, which are united in one endless artistic research.
A self-development of an artist is a key point of this audible script. It has been performed as a visual monologue of the artist together with the video projection.
 

Thesis by Kateryna Snizhko as a video/animation artwork, presented at the 2016 graduation show as part of the department of photography

 

all rights to this thesis are property of Kateryna Snizhko © 2016

for more information check out Kateryna's website : http://www.experiolation.com//

 

Untouched


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

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Irene Vonck / From Rhythms of Space series 1995

When material is manipulated to make-believe, touch becomes irrelevant for the experience of tactility, the physical experience of touch is exceeded and the brain is provoked. “From the rhythms of space” touches upon the idea that when contact between bodily surface and the object displayed is censored the viewer perception is (mis)leaded into dissonance with reality. This visual contradiction appears when the associations between the artwork as a whole and the material used in brut is not coherent.

Soft

Malleable

Comforting

Pretend

Fake

Play

The art piece appears to be made of cloth but instead it is made of airbrushed stoneware. None of this adjectives mentioned prior seems to describe the properties of cooked stoneware; this is because construction of tactility is build upon the pillars of experience and imagination since we cannot come in contact with it. Due to this I believe this work of art belongs to FAUX (in which nothing is as it seems) and AGENCY (in which paint takes the power back). Colour and subtitle sinuosity trick the viewer, the black colour gives the piece a sense of heaviness whilst the red interior an association with felt fabric. Paint definitely becomes an important element; it gives the object a sense of elegance and mystery and of course exhilarates the desire of touch. There will always be something very special and curious in tactility, in objects that seem ambiguous, objects that lure the viewer into doing what it is highly prohibited – TOUCH. When exploring an art gallery/museum/space etc., objects can be quite novel to us and thus, as young children do, we might feel the urge to touch, touch to understand, touch to explore, to grasp on the full experience of wonder. But … when we cannot touch ( and this is what fascinated me this time)it becomes pure mental construction and sense of touch is replaced by sense of sight.

When the surface is sticking it to the man


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

At the design section of the Stedelijk Museum I felt an attraction towards objects that glitter and sparkle instantly. The jewelry collection was filled with extravagant pieces made from expensive materials and with a shiny finish that effectively seduced me. But in the middle of all of these flashy designs I found a simple and minimal bracelet made from lusterless rubber and with a small bulge in the middle as the only detail. As it was in such contrast to the other items, it raised my curiosity.

Gold macht blind

Otto Künzli, Gold macht blind (1980)
galvanized rubber, gold


Otto Künzli created his jewelry piece ‘Gold macht blind’ in 1980. It’s seemingly just a simple rubber bracelet, but Künzli claims that under the surface a ball of pure gold is concealed in the rubber. Instead of letting the gold do its job by shining and seducing the viewer, Künzli has decided to cover it up by a cheap, industrial and unpolished material. He raises the tension between what you experience on the surface and your desire to dig inside and reveal the gold. This way the bracelet comments on our destructive greed towards everything that glitters: “If the owner wants to know with certainty whether gold is concealed in the armband, he must destroy it.” (x)

concrete stereo

Ron Arad, Concrete Stereo (1983)
Concrete, steel wire, electronics

Gold macht blind was made as an effort to undermine the expectations we have that jewelry is supposed to be decorative and flashy symbols of status and rank. This way Künzli’s bracelet has a lot in common with the industrial-looking record player covered in concrete, Concrete Stereo, Ron Arad created in 1983, which I described in my last text (x). Both works play with notions of value, and whether objects with lusterless surfaces can be desirable, and both artists create works that devalue status symbols. While Arad was part of the punk movement, Künzli is known for his humorous “stick it to the man”-attitude [x].

It’s obvious how ‘Gold macht blind’ with its matte rubber surface is in huge contrast to the sparkling works seen in the collection LUSTRE from Designing The Surface. Just like Arad’s Concrete Stereo [x] I find it fascinating how Künzli can convey his anti-elite opinions by playing with our expectations to what the surface of a piece of jewelry is supposed to look and feel like. By removing the shine and luster, the jewelry piece appears valueless, even though beneath the surface gold is hiding.

 

 

Designing the Surface Supplementary Show /New Institute


Monday, February 13, 2017

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Gebr.A.R.& P.van der Burg /wood and marble painting examples in color 1876

 

Supplementary Surface Show Under Construction

 

20 students of the Rietveld Academy’s Basic Year visited the exhibition “Designing the Surface” organized at the New Institute Rotterdam (2017).
The intriguing aspect of surface, an issue that is generally avoided in a discussion about the context of content, raised our curiosity.
The exhibition and the accompanying publication was inspiring as were other additional exhibits like ‘Screen Savers’ or various shows in adjoining musea.

/FAUX /PATINA /LUSTRE /TEFLON /AGENCY /SLIM

Curious for our reflections on these subject?

Chose an image and click on it.

We assembled this small supplementary research show for you to enjoy.

 

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FelineH VanilleOugen

SimonMarsiglia Screen shot 2017-02-13 at 12.05.50 PM CeliaNabonne

KaanKorkmaz JimKlok

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KimLang OfiaBaytocheva FelineHjermind

NadjaSchlenker JohannesZ

Parelstrik vantablack

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Programming language as a System of Thought


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

by Medeina Musteikyte

From a conventional viewpoint programming is a process of command execution that brings about a certain result; a problem-solving tool to produce a desired outcome. Aside from its practical usage, coding is expanding to a different sphere of interpretation where new meanings gained, outgrow its primary function.
My essay examines the role of non-function oriented programming, the artistic value of the concepts behind works of code and experimental programming languages. An overview of examples from Algorithmic Auction to ‘Esolangs’ — Esoteric Programming Languages is questioning the boundaries between programming and artistic practice and exploring the creative potential of such method.

bodyfuck – undo from nik hanselmann on Vimeo.

 

A work of code can acquire different forms and exist as an object, text or music piece gaining new definitions and material qualities.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Likewise conceptual programming languages can be perceived and interpreted by their instructions alone, without executing a command or using a computer. Designed for experience of thinking through them, esolangs unfold the confrontation of computer logic and human thinking in the most rational or the most absurd processes [x].

Sound file: castleman_css_descramble

 

pdf-scan_cover [click on image] to download thesis by Medeina Musteikyte

all rights to this thesis are property of the author © 2016 : http://medeina.xyz/

 
 

Welcome to my homepage!


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

by Noémie Courtois

The Internet arrived like an ufo, bringing a promise towards the future. When it became accessible to the broad public, users started to play around and share their hopes, dreams and productions with  the global village in which their children will be living. The birth of the Internet created a specific utopic spirit and everybody was invited to the party.

‘‘And here comes everybody ; moms teens, celebs, goths, tots, gamers, nerds and artists’’. Everybody else, Cory Archangel, 7 [x]

 

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The Internet changed a lot over the last decades, this utopic spirit began to fade and its users with it. Today, these webpages have been hidden and forgotten by everyone. Luckily, our digital heritage defenders do exist and are truly active ; there seem to be a resurge of our digital culture and artefacts.

In my thesis, I’m exploring the Internet in a sociological and archeological perspective. I’m developing the idea of a ‘digital folklore’ (cf Olia Lialina ) ; Today more than before, there is a wish to keep traces of our digital tradition. The defenders of our Internet culture are fighting against the forgetfulness of a material that henceforth belong to the past. This thesis is a contribution to save that part of history that went missing in the fast Internet evolution.

 

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The first users of the Internet were the first digital tribes and they were living in a specific environment:

‘‘A structural, visual and acoustic culture you could play around with, a culture you could break. There was an ocean of options and one of the options was to be different. (…) It was bright, rich, colorful, naive, slow, personal, direct and under construction.
It was a web of sudden collections and personal links. It was the Internet of personal pages and personal collections. It was the web of indigenous and barbarians, the web for the amateurs soon swept by Internet experts’’

A vernacular web, Olia Lialina, p19 [x]

 

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The importance of the first tribes lays in the spreading of the Internet architecture and culture. The shutting down of GeoCities (the biggest hosting service at the time) marks a shift in the Internet history : only a very small part of webpages have been saved,  there are holes in the shallows of the World Wide Web and pages are filled with dead links.

 

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Shot(picture?) of one of the many digital ruins, where images have been replaced by the icon "image not found".

They work as a religious triptych and are inspired by traditional construction : The birth, the life and the death

They are the remains of the first digital tribes : structures that were once complete and have fallen into a state of partial of complete disrepair. These digital monuments became places of worship, places where you can remember this specific time where movement and construction were the core of the online activity.

This specific idea lead me to my graduation project:

« Incidentally they're all gone,
well not exactly gone... more sort of... absent… »

 

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The 3 tapestries were part of the graduation show.
They work as a religious triptych and are inspired by traditional construction : The birth, the life and the death

The tapestries pay tribute to a web that is gone or -say- hidden. They work as a religious triptych and are inspired by their traditional construction : The birth, the life and the death. The idea of making tapestries came into my mind quickly while writing my thesis. Initially, tapestries were made to educate illiterate and uneducated people about subject of war, religion and so on. Whilst contributing on saving the history, they were also made to make a space warm and welcoming (such as the first webpages). The connection between the Internet archeology and tapestries was really straight froward; they also recall the computer screen and pixels.

 

thesis_900 [click on image] to download this thesis by Noémie Courtois

all rights to this thesis are property of the author © 2016 http://courtoisnoemie.tumblr.com/ [x]

 

willit

 

Approaching the Archive


Sunday, December 11, 2016

‘Approaching the Archive’ begins from a coincidence that becomes an unexpected point of access to the archive and book collection of artist, writer, editor and graphic designer Will Holder, in the context of his exhibition ‘Sorry! NO we don’t do REQUESTS’ at Kunstverein in Amsterdam.

The essay deals with the successful as well as the unsuccessful attempts at trying to grasp a lot of material in a little space, and the systems that one makes up in order to organize and process content through. Moreover, it is an essay about books and the stories and associations they convey, as well as it is about the finding of an unexpected relationship between ‘typography’ and ‘topography’.

Will Holder click on the image to download the pdf

A visit in Pieke Bergmans studio


Saturday, December 10, 2016

 

 

At the moment you are exhibiting in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam with your installation Phenomeneon. Now I am really excited being here in your studio in Amsterdam to talk about your projects and you as an artist.

 

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There is surprisingly much space in here. In what kind of room are we?

It is an old factory building. We actually just moved into this studio a few weeks ago. So we are still in progress about rearranging the space, like removing the ceiling and creating small office rooms. There are not a lot of my works here yet but I can show you around…

 

The Phenomeneon project gets a lot of admiration with its mesmerizing appearance. I am really interested in the production process and the applied techniques. Could you tell me more about it?

Yes, sure. Not everyone realizes that light in this case is gas. People think it is a really new technique, but it is actually an old one. I do like light a lot. It is a very beautiful material to work with and I discovered many different effects. People are getting so much information nowadays it is hard to get their attention. But in this case I think it is a perfect combination of technique and mystery.

 

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When you mention the mystery it makes me think about the moment when walking closer to the installation and realizing that the neon light moves through the organically shaped glass. The light runs through it and you start to follow its way.

Exactly! That makes it feel alive.

 

Are the organic shapes made to play with the intensity of the light?

The intensity of the light is defined by the width and length of the glass. In the end it is just playing. Its like a three dimensional painting. Like when you have a brush and you choose the pressure of your brushstroke.

 

I can really see how playful you shaped the glass. Are there any other factors affecting the form?

Yes. The installation consists of seven separate parts. It was difficult to do because they are all handmade and quite big. The biggest one is almost six meters.

 

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You cannot see where they are connected which gives the impression of one very long piece and makes me question the process.

It starts sometimes with a simple observation. I was questioning why neon light is always a straight tube. Most people saw the shape as a limitation, for me it is more a possibility. With the understanding of the technique I could have come up with so many ideas about the design. One reason for the process and especially the shapes of this project is that I am a person that is always interested in setting things free.

 

How is that combinable with your background as a product designer? I can imagine in this area the focus is more on creating something specific.

Yes. It is mostly about creating something perfect. I basically didn’t believe in that concept. That is why I turn nowadays much more to art. I try to stretch the borders within the functionality. But now I am also more free about creating something that has nothing to do with functionality even if I started from this ‘other world’.

 

Do you have an idea of an aesthetic that deeply touches you — an idea of personal beauty in ‘your world’?

Yes and that’s only for myself. I have no idea what the public thinks. I am not commercial in that sense. I don’t do works someone else wants. I think it is a power within the simplicity. Like this table over there. Its so simple but at the same time it is fragile and the surface a bit wobbly. You are wondering if it collapses or not. So it is also about the balance. I am looking for this tension. I like to use things that already exist in my environment and I take them out of their context. If I work with big companies then often lots of things are possible. All the equipment is available. It happens fast that things are getting too complex. Then it looses its quality. I am striving for purity and simplicity.

 

Do you think mass-produced objects have less individual quality?

Oh, I don’t think there is such thing in mass-production. Every object is exactly the same. The best design is multiplied: ‘the Golden Mean’[x]. I don’t want to judge mass production because its designed for optimal purpose. But if you study nature, then everything is unique. You can not find one olive tree that is the same. Not one animal or human. We are all different. Thats why I create production lines that produces unique objects. It would be great if people would spend a tiny little moment to witness these individual unique differences. It is hard to make people feel something or even make them wonder.

When I was studying I really admired a lot of designers or artists for their capability and their way of looking at things. I also really understood that it was not my way. But when you are young you are not really sure about your way. That is sometimes a bit confusing. So you have to find your own strength, your true fascination. And after some time by simply doing you feel more and more secure and comfortable in choosing what you want to do. At the end it is about experience I would say.

 

I read an article where you said you take already existing working processes and change them to give materials space to let them expand in their natural way. What is your fundamental inspiration concerning your working process?

If I compare my own mind to nature I am a bit disappointed. Because whatever nature is doing in terms of gravity or elasticity or any other effects basically — I could have never come up with this. The result is so much better than everything I could have ever designed. So I just started going into the direction of letting things happen. But of course in a quite distinguished research. I have to do it over and over again until I understand why and what happens when. And then I pick out something to focus on.

 

Do you have plans for further projects based on the idea of Phenomeneon?

Yes, for sure because now we developed the techniques and finally we can start to play. Basically I am looking forward to the opportunities in the future. To be able making more things happen within the world of Phenomeneon. If you discovered something you are really fascinated about, I think it is important that you spend some time in making more pieces because mostly they get better and better.

 

 

Check out Pieke Bergmans official website for more information.

 

 

Here comes the future. Circumventive organs, bioprinting and bioart


Monday, November 28, 2016

Some works initially aim to touch your feelings and to change your carefully complied seeing of life. They can cause a whole pattern of various emotions from the complete abhorrence to inexpressible delight. I walked through the halls of the “Dream out Load” exhibition and noticed a small group of people gathered around something that seemed to be very interesting. “That’s gross!” – Somebody exclaimed but continued starring at the subject of interest. I love gross and in a second I found myself looking at the “Circumventive organs” by Agi Haines and a short footage about implanting the organs inside the artificial (I hope so?) human body. From that moment I would start calling her “a mad scientist” of the design. What she designs is not posters, not buildings and even not that fancy clothing you are wearing. The subject of her focus is mainly a human body and organs.

Electrostabilis Cardium by Agi Haines on vimeo

With the introduction of bioprinting the possibility of new organs is becoming a reality. The ability to replicate and print cells in complex structures could mean different cells with various functions could be put together in new ways to create new organs we would take millions of years to evolve naturally. Frankenstein-esque hybrid organs could then be put together using cells from different body parts or even different species.

This short film envisions the surgical procedure designed for the fitting of Electrostabilis Cardium, a defibrillating organ using parts from an electric eel that can discharge to release an electric current to the heart when it recognizes it going into fibrillation (heart attack).

Alongside the film are other ‘Circumventive Organ’ designs including Tremomucosa Expulsum an organ that uses rattlesnake muscles to release mucus from the respiratory system of a person who suffers from cystic fibrosis and dispel it through the stomach, as well as Cerebrothrombal Dilutus which contains cells from the salivary gland of a leech and releases an anticoagulant when it feels the pressure of a potential blood clot in the brain as a way of avoiding a stroke.

Agi Haines’ mind-bending, hyper-real sculptures function in an epistemological limbo, existing somewhere between art & science, technology and ethics, and present and future. Haines creates pieces that are uncanny, transgressive, and sometimes conflicting, stunning in their insight and repulsive in their execution. Her near-future world is one in which rattlesnake muscles can be 3D-printed, inserted into the human body and used to combat cystic fibrosis.

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I chose Agi’s work as a main topic of my research because bioprinting and bioart is something that intrigues me a lot. Though I was never familiar with bioprinting, I was always interested in this incredible and magical world of the body and it’s insides, how it lives, transformes, reacts and evolves.  I am fascinated by the possibilities of 3D bioprinting and how it can affect the evolution process. My belief is that the future of design lays in more extensive work with human body as a material and If I will be given a chance to take part in the process of organ designing, I would be glad to create something useless and provocative. In the interview Agi explains how the organ printing works: living cells mixed into cell-friendly material, such as collagen, that will make a scaffolding for cells to grow on. Then the organ is being printed layer by layer, just the same as an ordinary 3D printer works.

The ability to replicate and print cells in complex structures could mean different cells with various functions could be put together in new ways to create new organs we would take millions of years to evolve naturally. Haines envisions what it would be like to not only replicate existing human organs, but also produce newly designed, improved organs for implantation as (curative) therapy for chronic diseases and defects. In the same way, animal cells with useful properties might even be employed to create organs with entirely new properties. An organ that incorporates eel cells could conceivably function as a natural defibrillator, delivering a resuscitating electric shock in case of cardiac arrest.

"If you prick us do we not bleed" work by Agi Haines

If you prick us do we not bleed" work by Agi Haines

… can we consider bioprinting as an art form?

I keep on asking myself this question, because the border between biology, genetic engineering and art rapidly disappears, or, more likely, has already disappeared. Tissues, organisms, organs and bacteria became a media to create works of art. They have been used in the same way as one artist would use the paintbrushes or the materials from the Rieveld’s trashcans.

Even before the bioprinting, American artist Eduardo Kac established the name “Bioart” for his works. Kac considers himself a “transgenic artist,” or “bio artist,” using biotechnology and genetics to create provocative works that concomitantly explore scientific techniques and critique them. In 1998 he comes up with his work “Genesis” that explores the intricate relationship between biology, belief systems, information technology, dialogical interaction, ethics, and the Internet. The key element of the work is an “artist’s gene”, i.e., a synthetic gene that he invented and that does not exist in nature.

"Genesis" by Eduardo Kac

Another project of Eduardo Kac was famous glowing rabbit called Alba. By injection of green fluorescent protein (GFP) of a Pacific Northwest jellyfish into the fertilized egg of an albino rabbit he creates the bunny that can glow green when illuminated with the correct light.
“GFP Bunny” has raised many ethical questions and sparked an international controversy about whether Alba should be considered art at all. “Transgenic art brings out a debate on important social issues surrounding genetics that are affecting and will affect everyone’s lives decades to come,” Kac is quoted as saying.

'Alba' glowing in the dark bunny, by Eduardo Kac

'Alba' glowing in the dark bunny, by Eduardo Kac

Faced with some operations our aesthetic but also ethics sense is often put in a critical position. We are forced to redefine the border between animate and inanimate world and our definitions of subject and object. Indeed, when the symbolic and material boundaries of humans opened to technology, some considered it as hospitable, however many found it offensive or even dangerous. One of the main concerns about bioart is that people view it as an unnecessary use of living organisms. While the use of living organisms is often tolerated because they are used for research and thus improving the quality of peoples’ lives, bioart is often criticized as an uncalled-for practice because of the role of aesthetics in the artworks. In addition, bioart creates uncertainties among the public because bioart projects such as eugenics are undertaken by artists and not researchers. Nevertheless it is important to bear in mind that (bio)artists also need to do research prior to conducting their experiment or artwork.

Coming back to bioprinting as an art form, I would also like to mention the Dutch artist Diemut Strebe and her 3D printed Van Gogh’s ear. She created the replica ear using living cells from van Gogh’s great-great-grandson. The ear itself is made from actual living tissue and was 3D printed into a shape resembling van Gogh’s left ear. The ear is currently being displayed in a German museum and is suspended in a clear display case full of a nourishing liquid that is expected to keep it viable for many years. The artist has also added a microphone to her installation so you can actually speak to the replica of Vincent van Gogh’s severed ear [x].

'Sugababe' by Diemut Strebe

"Sugababe" by Diemut Strebe • "Body Modification for Love" by Michiko Nitta

Another artist, who is trying to make our life more interesting, bypassing the ethic issue, is Michiko Nitta and one of her works - Body Modification for Love. It is an idea which could be developed in the future – a technique for genetically growing selected parts of another person on another person’s skin. What Nitta is proposing is for example a nipple of ex-girlfriend or a mole of ex-boyfriend. Patch of living hair would be also possible to grow on somebody’s else arm. It is supposed to be a new form of tattoo as Nitta says. Parents are always upset when their kid makes his first tatoo. How upset they are going to be now, when their beloved one would come up with a nipples on his forearm?

The options are endless and there are a lot more projects, researches and artists I could also mentioned here. There are a lot of things to discover yet and who knows – maybe in the nearest future our bodies would be modified and consist of artificial organs? Not the best scenario, to be honest..

3d-printing

This research project is based on the "Dreaming Out Load" design exhibition curated by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

‘Jewelry attitude’ as a way of looking at the world


Monday, November 21, 2016

Stone needs a special care and appreciation to shine. Conversely, any stone can shine if you care for it. In my thesis, I am exploring the particular kind of value which derives from the personal observation and appreciation of seemingly ordinary objects. Furthermore, I examine how this value can be shared with others through an inscription of observer.

 

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Roger Caillois author of "The Writing of Stones" [x]

 

There is a picture book which is called EVERYBODY NEEDS A ROCK, written in 1974 by Byrd Baylor, an American author of picture books for children. With her sparse poetic prose, she gives us ten rules for finding our own special rock. The rules of the book are highly sensuous, therefore it rather becomes a kind of tool, to switch our mind and invite us into observing mode; they change our way of looking at things surrounding us.

 

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"Everybody Needs a Rock" by Byrd Baylor [x]

 

Through the invitation to the observation of neglected objects – in the case of the book, ‘rocks’ lying on the ground start to gain our awareness and appreciation. This awareness and the observer’s eyes brings new value into existence. This value is perhaps not only applied to rocks, but also to anything ordinary around us. A piece of plastic rubbish on the ground next to the rock could get the same attention as rocks, if the one looking, could appreciate it.

 

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My graduation project has started with an inspiration from an article about a new kind of rock found in Hawaii, which contains plastic debris. According to the article, the rock won’t be decomposed, but will remain in the ground forever. Therefore those rocks have been considered as a potential marker of humanity’s time on earth – a kind of our generation’s rock. It led me to imagine that people in the far future dig those rocks out from the ground and appreciate it like a ruby or diamond.

 

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Based on the principle of the formation of the stone containing plastics, I have collected plastic rubbish and natural materials surrounding it such as twigs and shells on the street. I melted them down together, cut, polished and obtained plastic gem stones out of it. From that point, I observed the different qualities in each stone that I made, and turned them into jewellery. By caring and celebrating such a neglected object – plastic trash, I tried to generate a new value of it, and give people a new way of looking at the world and new encounters in everyday life [x].

 

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graduation presentation Sae Honda ©2016

 

Writing the thesis gave me a great insight and I started to understand my graduation project more and more in the process. Moreover, it eventually led me to realize why I chose jewellery as a medium.
The essential role of a jeweler is perhaps not dealing with rare materials, but rather reading the signs in any material and inscribing them through a process of making and caring. The jewellery attitude could be a way of looking at the world, and a way of creating the new value.

 

EVNR_BOOK_COVER_A4  [click on image] to download this thesis by Sae Honda
all rights to this thesis are property of the author © 2016 www.saehonda [x]

 

Walking with a Line


Monday, November 21, 2016

 

“For there to be lines, do there have to be a surfaces, or can lines exists without any surfaces at all?”Tim Ingold

 

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Images: A Line, collaged book, graduation project, 2016

Making a line basically means connecting point A with point B, but it does not matter whether the line is connecting two points in geometry or people waiting in queue. It is a fundamental form that is defining, shaping, connecting or dividing. A line can be on its own, or in close relation to other forms. It can exist in space or simply be drawn on a paper, there are an endless number of possibilities.

 

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Images: A Line, collaged book, graduation project, 2016

This thesis “Walking with a Line” describes a line as a form appearing in different kinds of fields. It shows about 30 examples of various types of lines across a history, biology, astronomy, maths, art and so on. The text is structured as a simple kind of dictionary which you can just flip through and start reading wherever you want.

 


2.cover_image download this thesis by Jolana Sykorova
all rights to this thesis are property of the author © 2016

 

Stone, Space, Me; Pretending to be Solid


Sunday, October 30, 2016

How to enter a stone? by knocking? stroking? breaking it with a hammer? or by curving a door in order to step inside?

Thinking and imagining about how it must be like to dwell inside a stone and take part in the universal creation, I find my search. Focusing on the human ability to relate, think and imagine spaces in objects, I create a link between the interior of stones and human memory and imagination.

 

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Pretending to be Solid, Naama Aharony, Gerrit Rietveld Graduation show, 2016.

( solid as stone they say…)

Along with personal notes and thoughts of dwelling a stone, I collect, trace and place cultural narratives, legends and philosophical thoughts contemplating the meaning found in stones. Through those I look to change the perception of stones being solid, suggesting to look at it as constant movement. The mind then becomes the traveler, moving through environments, places and spaces the stone I hold may offer. Those spaces are changing, coincidental, circumstantial.

This writing can be seen as a collection of short texts where the shared ground is memory, imagination and the stone. It will not necessarily talk about actual caves, walls, floors or corridors that might exist in the interior of stones, but will be researching the potential content of the stone, the meaning and narratives this stone might bring. And although while reading you might drift away from time to time, one will always go back to the ground, and the stone.

 

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For my graduation project, I was focusing on the relationship between man and the stone. I wanted to work on the way people approach and perceive stones. To open up the understating of A Stone to discussion and new ways of seeing. To create tension between what people usually think of a stone and the sensible perception I am offering them.

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Writing the thesis and researching on different layers the stone offers, pushed me to create my own, man-made stones. Using ceramics, a study of oxide glazing and experimenting with different firing programs, enabled me to create a divergent collection of stones. Where each of the made stones carries different qualities, tells a chapter, a layer and where all together they create a story.

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The installation ‘Pretending to be Solid’ consisted of the stone collection I have made, creating a constructed landscape inside the room. The spectators were invited to walk through the room, in-between the placed stones. Through the walk, I looked to evoke a personal contact between the spectator and the made stones. Which was for me, a place for memory and imagination.

 

cover_image_shade download this thesis by Naama Aharony
all rights to this thesis are property of the author © 2016

 


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