Thursday, October 28, 2010

Collagraph_Text, Multiples and Transformation of Meaning_3

Just for a little fun, I took a word, and found text generating software, which will make 'text out of your word'... quite an interesting excercise, gave me a good few ideas on presenting text...

The meaning of text can change by colour, pattern, text and form... not to mention location and associated imagery.

Marjorie Perloff discusses this in her writings "THE Sound of POETRY/The POETRY of Sound" - whilst artists like J Druckner, write passionately about the word or even letter being important not only by understood meaning, but by font choice, typogrpahic selection, meaning that something can be taken out of context and put into a transformed meaning. Text can call attention to itself as it becomes the completed art piece, as in Mira Schor's and Beuys works, or it could be a part of the overall meaning and fairly concealed in the works of Chiari and Corner... basically, sometimes you have to look for meaning and it's really subjective to the reader... Ezra Pound, poet and writer, spent much of his time making 'art of words'... I particularly enjoy his comment that:

"... it takes six or eight years to get educated in ones art and anothr ten to get rid of that education. Neither can anyone learn english, one can only learn a series of englishes. Rossetti made his own language. I hadn't in 1910 made a language to use, but even a language to think in..."

The importance of language is that even language vs. text has its own modes of materiality. Marjorie Perloff's writrings really stimulated the idea of text as language as art... I would certainly want to spend more time on this specifically. Even looking at Joseph Grigley's exhibition of "textureality", keeps me interested. Basically, texture is like art, it informs and creates a reaction. And, like art, it's complexities ensure that a certain degree of eduction on a piece is needed to guide a person to understand its meaning....

In symbolism, my excercise of ASCII text generation played a big part in my understanding its complexities. Language transforms, meanings evolve, and each generation takes on a different level of meaning in their language. Look at something like text generation for myspace/facebook/msn - you want a smiley face or a glitterly word to convey a meaning? It'll generate it for you. We all know what it means... to a degree. And this isn't a new thing, Joseph Manca discusses this way back to Rennaissance times in his article "Moral Stance in Italian Renaissance Art: Image, Text, and Meaning"...

Collagraph_Text, Multiples and Transformation of Meaning_2

Research - the images I've put on the board aren't collagraphs, they're just ideas on how to use text. I'm investigating how artists us text in their works...

Joseph Beuys (images 1 - 4) for example...

Michael Glassmeir (image) 5

Guiseppe Chiari's work (image 6) - shows that it's not just about words, but symbolism. A few artists use music in their 'written pieces', Christian Marclay (Griffiti Composition) is another artist using music.

or Philip Corner's 'A piece of reality for to day' (image 7)

Collagraph_Text, Multiples and Transformation of Meaning

Text in Art

Switching from woodcut to print is taking time, but I'm getting into it. I've started reading articles on text and use in art, and I realise that there are hundreds and thousands of approaches to text - meaning, symbolism, understanding etc. I think it's going to take a bit of time to get into producing collographs that will present an understanding/meaning in a way that appeals to me, if that makes sense.

I started off with some of the quotes I'd taken from the reference books I've been collecting. Words and phrases, such as 'I am not myself", or taking 2 words and putting them together to change their meaning, such as "age" + "permissions", which I thought were both suitable considering the mask is about keeping behind or revealing from behind a mask, and in most cultures, represents a social occasion, such as a 'rite of passage' (e.g. coming of age celebrations where a girl is accepted into the older female group through ritual).

The handwriting, gives a different meaning to the type, and even the speed of writing alters its possible meaning, as does the font... so many variations. Then, the image, or lack of image, suggests another whole new dimension... writting reversed has a different effect on the brain as well, so yes, no major breakthroughs here, just more conversational thought...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ideas of Transformation_7

Kiki Smith

Looking at contemporary artists who use printing processes as well as the idea of exposing ones self, or hiding behind a mask of sorts: Kiki Smiths' integration of personal, social and artistic concerns in her pieces, forces me to look closer at her imagery and conceptual pieces every time I read about her... initally I found the pieces offending and didn't want to get 'closer', but here I am.

Most of her pieces are focussed on her ".. own individual experience of the body, and into a realization of the ways in which that experience is manipulated by external forces...", the use of 'face' (specifically her own face), in her Lithographs Banshee Pearls (1991), has a certain narrative I would like to incoroporate into the use of masks in my work.

Smith used a mixture of printing techniques for her 12 lithographs. Each of the prints shows photographic arrangements of herself, mixed with pattern or line - something she called "femme butterfly/flower pictures". In this sense, like most of her works where she has 'female' as her narrative, I'd say it's the opposite of what I present with the masks, which to me are 'masculine'. What I found particularly important was that she decided to approach the subject matter of 'self' using print ("...a secret entrance into using myself as a subject..."). I appreciate what she sais about Banshee Pearls (images: MoMA) and using herself in the imagery because, as she says "It's much more scary to be a girl in public than to talk about the digestive system", when referencing her 'self portraits' and other pieces she's created.

Susan Tallman, who's article I'm referencing here, also says "Not only is the subject matter of Smith's prints highly personal, there is also a distinctly handmade quality to her manner of printmaking."

Susan Tallman's article "Kiki Smith: Anatomy Lessons," Art in America, April 1992 can be found at:

Kiki Smith's Lithographs can be found at:

Saturday, October 9, 2010


And finally to colour. I've exhausted this direction for the moment, so I'm moving off it. The outcome was that colour isn't necessarily where I want to take the masks at present, however, a little colour here and there isn't a bad thing. I realise you have to print black last, but in some cases, I couldn't pass up the opportunity of printing over some of my older b&w works.

Interestingly, some of the shapes that came out of the prints inspired me to begin sketching these shapes and thinking about printing them. For example, turning the mask upside down, gave such great results in terms of form, that I began drawing what I saw immediately, as not to lose the image.

Anyway, back to colour... burnt umber, yellow and red... cadmium - too bright, but still great to mix and play with. The colours I chose, are reminiscent of childhood prints, textiles, masks and smells.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I continued with my experimentation, and found some went well, and some not so great. Mostly tho', the results were varied and interesting, so I was pretty happy with that. I also found, if I turned the image upside down on some of them, I saw something quite different!

Variations included:
1. plain single print
2. double print of blocks 1 and 2
3. 2 print (first print on ghost)
4. Upside down
5. double print of blocks 1 and 3
6. ghost print of blocks 1, 2 and 3

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


So, to the challenges I set myself...

My rule of 8 hours of cut, print, cut print... let ink dry, cut, print etc. altered slightly - I am working larger than A5, but smaller than A4, so I have found I worked much quicker than I thought I would...

I decided to work on a few pieces at a time (equalling the 8 hours), to experiment a little with the same image, but with different outcomes... this meant that I stuck with the 8 hour time frame, but landed up with three woodblock/lino pieces by the end of the 8 hours.

I varied my line - found the U and V groove tools great, and with the cuts and blisters this evening, sort of feel pretty much ready to do another one...

OK, so I've been a bit literal with the next image, so here are my transformation of image...

For this first woodcut 'transformation', I listened to music out of my comfort zone - noisier music - and I felt it was irritating rather than stimulating, so from the end of the second version, I just switched over to the radio...

The lino was an interesting change from the wood - lino slips more than wood when you're doing to pressing, so I found many of the prints came out as double images... actually, in some of the cases I thought it enhanced the subject matter, and just kept printing over the same piece, and basically using this to my advantage...

The balaclava came to mind often when I was working, so perhaps this is where I saw the masked image 'going'...

I've got one more part of my rules lists, and that's the experiment with colour... I started, but still have much to do.

Time permitting, I'd like to have another go at a different image... but this is something I may have to come back to.


Woodcut Practial

With the excercise ahead, I've set out a few rules for myself on what I'm going to print.
I want to base woodcut on an image I have already printed - trying to keep the spontineity of original piece.

Work small - I've been enjoying the freedom of large expressive works, lets see how this translates to a smaller piece. Work on woodblock over a 8 hour working day... listening to a variety of music and record how this might change the work - music out of my 'comfort zone'.

The idea was to stop every 20 - 25 minutes and print... this should equall around 10-14 prints or so...

I wanted to think about varying colour and style and about how 'transformation' can be presented as final pieces.

Note to self: don't focus too much on rules, just have fun...

Ideas on Transformation_6

Rhythmic Automated Scribble
So, I've done a few more prac. sessions, which I'll post tomorrow. Something else I've been doing is listening to music and just doing a sort of 'automated scribble. The rhythm is a sort of relaxation/meditation mechanism, as well as allowing me to explore certain shapes and forms without thinking too hard on what to draw next.

I have been getting inspiration from watching the following videos for inspiration. Rhythmic music there too.

Museum of African Culture - The Spirit Masks: masks, dancing and really a sense of bringing tradition back to 'community'.

"... when you put this mask on, you feel a chill go all through your body. You are aware of yourself but know that something has changed in you.

From then on, you are not in control. And whatever the mask wants to do, you will do". Unknown

Afro-masks - an image gallery of masks from all over Africa

"The only difference between us is, I embrace what I am. I don't hide behind some cheap mask...

When you learn that you will see how much of a difference it really is. Until then, get a better mask..." Masks around the World

On a different note, I've been investigating the prints of artists Edvard Munch and Paul Gauguin.

Munch - (1863– 1944) - mostly known for his painting of The Scream, which he transformed into prints. He has an intense ability to portray similar subject matter and moods/emotions in a variation of mediums.

Influences: Depersonalization Disorder
The environment of The Scream is often compared to that of which an individual suffering from Depersonalization Disorder experiences, such a feeling of distortion of the environment and one's self.
Of course the irony with The Scream, in terms of masks, is it's now one of the most recognisable Halloween masks in Western culture...

(Image: The Scream)

Gauguin (1848 - 1903)
Gauguin was inspired and motivated by the raw power and simplicity of the so-called Primitive art of those foreign cultures.
Picasso as early as 1902 became an aficionado of Gauguin's work when he met and befriended the expatriate Spanish sculptor and ceramist Paco Durrio (1875–1940), in Paris. Durrio had several of Gauguin's works on hand because he was a friend of Gauguin's and an unpaid agent of his work.

His bold experimentation with colouring led directly to the Synthetist style of modern art while his expression of the inherent meaning of the subjects in his paintings, under the influence of the cloisonnist style, paved the way to Primitivism and the return to the pastoral.

Gauguin also translated his paintings into wood engraving and woodcuts as art forms.

(image: Human Miseries)

My themes: Transformations >> African traditions and masks >> Fetish Traditions + Fetish Today >> Plastic Sexuality