MCP502 Full Documentation
the connected nature of the present future
As a way of consolidating the work made over the past year Jean Marie (studio advisor) suggested that I print out the photographs and images of the drawings that have been created so far and put them up on a wall. The following image is the result of that process:
Starting from the centre of the wall with the very first drawing - everything else radiates out from the centre in roughly chronological order.
To see this series on the wall has been an invaluable tool to gain an understanding of the relationship between all the parts as a single whole. What I had previously thought to be disjointed experiments in light, air and drawing I have now realised actually has a type of rhythm when placed together. Landscapes seem to appear and disappear, the movement of ideas transpire between images and the topographical surfaces that others had seen straight away became more evident for me - a type of mapping as seen from high above (high up in the air perhaps)...
This project began as an investigation into time, connection, networks and the posthuman Anthropocene and after much research and contemplation, it has been distilled into a single, simple, elusive and yet pervasive phenomena...Air. I began this year with an open mind, determined to follow a path of research and experimentation as a way of seeing where this project could potentially lead. I tried to remove judgment and expectation and keep open to the possibilities held within a drawing.
I am aiming to develop a creative practice that endeavors to reinstate the value of connection – both the connection between humans and also connection as a means of remembering our place within the breathing, living landscape – a reconnection to our environment seems like one of the most pressing issues of our time.
In an attempt to understand this connection my research led into an investigation of the many different types of complex networks in which we exist (both manmade and natural). It was after this research that I realized the current social and political systems (and those leading it) are incapable (or unwilling perhaps) to address the ecological battle we currently face. We are so embedded within the complexity of multiple networks it seems almost impossible to navigate our way into a different mode of thinking, even for those who grasp the urgency of the problem. Through researching the Anthropocene I have realized that the most pressing challenge we face involves the manmade manipulation of complex bio-spherical networks that pervade every aspect of our natural planet and to which we humans have very little understanding. Pace and connected acceleration in all facets of networks are proving beyond the current political and social capabilities to manage.
I am acutely aware that the current political climate operates within (or does it generate?) a divisive social climate that is fought between nostalgia and extreme pessimism on the one hand and a euphoric exaltation, individualistic win at all cost economic attitude on the other. At this point, neither end of the spectrum is helping; however, both are highlighting the need for change to occur at a psychological level before anything else can be resolved.
I am not claiming that this project is able to find that solution, what I am aiming to do is highlight the psychological friction our current relationship with nature induces and to recall the deeply seeded awareness that we all need to have our place within the environment.
I am hoping that a considered investigation into one of the most intimate and yet complex networks we share (breathing) could potentially be a valuable pedagogical tool. As Nietzsche stated, “the more abstract the truth you wish to teach, the more you must allure the senses to it.” This raises the question of whether the knowledge harnessed from an investigation into the simple act of breathing (with the intention to comprehend the complexity of air) could be used as a means for grasping the complexity of the networks that pervade all other systems? Could the power of all networks be demystified by the simplicity of knowing the most intimate network – our breath?
My studio practice, which has formed part of the research, began by experimenting with ways of drawing with light. I was initially investigating the question of “what can a drawing potentially be?” Drawing (or mark making) was chosen as a practice based research tool because it is an activity made by the human and non-human alike. Nothing exists without leaving a mark and this idea refers directly back to the research question:
“How do we carry the marks and nuances of our shared experience?”
I began by creating an extensive list of possibilities and potential experiments (see list) with drawing. Drawing was chosen because it is a tool for communication, expression and story telling that occurs across all cultures and social backgrounds starting with the earliest cave drawings up until the present day. Drawing is a creative tool that connects humans regardless of language, age and time.
The light drawing series of experiments investigated a way of using light as the medium with which to draw rather than light as a subject matter. Most drawings focus on the relationship between the surface and the drawn mark. With this style of drawing, the reality of the world sits within the picture plane - light as reality, the world behind the page drawn into the surface.
The repetitive nature of this process created a meditative effect and as a result, the influence of breath slowly crept into the project. Based on my previous fascination with biological rhythms, breath became the rhythm of choice for this series of drawings while light became the medium with which to draw.
What started to change with the development of the light drawings was the intention of breath. Each hole became a single breath...a deep inhale with intention...followed by a relaxed and natural exhale.
The breath is at the very heart of connection and after careful consideration I realised that the mechanical process of breathing is in fact the catalyst for an even deeper investigation into the inherent potential in Air.
Through this path of inquiry I came to the realisation that solitude is important for the development of this project – isolation in space and silence as a meditation on air and contemporary drawing. To be completely immersed in a vast and empty landscape, as a way of connecting to the ideas and potential in air is something I feel instinctively committed to. After seeing the series of experiments as whole picture on the wall I was happy to realise that the landscape had unintentionally found its way into the work even though the drawings were based on the biology of the human breath.
The following images are of the current light drawing I am working on. I had hoped to have it finished by this post but it is a long way off being finished and rushing to complete it defeats the intention behind this work. The drawing is on a long roll of shoju paper (approx. 4 metres long) so scale has now come into the work.