Wednesday, 29 December 2010

VHS nostalgia

A short test video collaging nostaligic film that was recorded on vhs by my parents when I was a child.
I focused mainly on the adverts inbetween the films and programs that were desired to be watched again and again.
This example video is in colour but I had to re-record a lot of material because I realized after sitting through about 10 hours of vhs tapes that the lack of colour in the recordings was due to an oversight of recording options (d'oh!). Both the black and white and the colour versions have advantages so I'm not sure if I want to carry on creating these videos in black and white or in colour.
But the recording a static paused image and recording while rewinding and fast forwarding brings the exact scrambled quality I've been looking for in my search for suitable representations of memory.

It's definite I'll continue making these video's as I still have a stack to get through in search of a certain very 90's advert involving skeletons that I keep remembering. Hope its on one of them somewhere.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


I was thinking about the mechanics of memory recall being a lot like a lake of dissolved images and experiences. The water undergoes changes that alter the chemical composition of its contents in every moment that passes; and the different catalysts of these reactions come from the environment. Bonds are made between chemicals in the lake to form images and substances that rise to the surface until the moment passes and their chemical bonds are broken and they dissolve back into the deep.

In response to this thought; using latex, pva glue and ink I've been trying to create small pool like sculptures that encase items of personal nostalgia.

I photographed the sculptures both with the items still encased and after I ripped them out as I can't decide yet which works best. The frustration of inaccessible objects or the mournful shell of the object? I definitely want to increase the scale of this work perhaps by creating larger casts or by making many small casts and sewing them together like a huge nostalgia tapestry or blanket that echoes the biological and cells.

I've also been experimenting with coloured inks in the pva glue just to see what happens and I've been left with a rather psychedelic result.

Monday, 13 December 2010

This is a short film which doesn't seem like it took a year to make but I can assure you it did. In some part this is because of the actual length of time I had to sit around with the camera filming but mainly because I've been editing it sporadically since last christmas instead of just working on it solidly for a day or two once I'd collected all my footage.
Anyway, this video is something I've had in mind for a long while, as I do a lot of viewing, contemplating and painting cloud formations and their relationship of conflict with the land and society below them.
I maintain that they deserve far more respect and attention than they receive and I'm certain this will be a lifelong project of work for me.

(Sorry about the poor quality. I'm really angry that Blogspot can't handle HD. What is THAT about like?)

Thursday, 2 December 2010


I have also been working on a continuous archiving piece for my work with personal memory.
I've always felt that the sensation of smelling the familiar is far more evocative of memory than any photograph of an event or even visitation to a place where certain memories occurred.

And so I've been collecting and concocting scents that trigger personal memories and until I found this lovely drinks cabinet to display them in a domestic context they've just been sitting on my desk.
The thing is, that in this desperate pursuit of archiving, where I am constantly smelling familiar scents and improving their presentation, potency etc I'm actually starting to become desensitized to the scents. Each time I smell one it's like indulging in a personal film reel or slide show but the more I do this the more I dilute their power of recall.

I need to continue and build my archive of odours in preparation for a show in February during which I hope to film people's experience of the piece. So far I've seen that its interactive quality could potentially become video as well.

The presentation of each scent inside the jars is also something I need to refine as well as the position and presentation of the piece as a whole. The size and exterior of each can connote to many things.

On a side note, I thought my USB harddrive broke today, turns out it was just the cable but my blood ran cold for the few minutes where I thought I'd lost basically half my work from the last 4 years. That's definitely something to think about in terms of archiving.....

Thursday, 25 November 2010

My double exposed images as a film of slides. I looped this and showed it as a projection of about 1.5m wide.
Seeing the images in motion swallowing and regurgitating endlessly and silently has given me a new direction for my work.
Combining movement with silent monochrome I'm trying to present memory as a constant replay of non existent images.
I may progress these images further through slideshows and experiment with afterburn effects on the eyes.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


2 weeks ago I traveled back to my home in Wales to take some double exposure photography exploring memory and its distortion of the familiar.
I was aiming to get back some prints which would help me to understand and better represent the distortion of overlain memories that I experience when walking through areas I have known ever since I had the ability to.
These are the scans of the negatives I took using a Yashica, can't remember the model name. They are black and white but I scanned them in colour and I'm warming towards the brownish colouring some of them have.

The main bulk of the photos I took are of a section of my favourite mountain walking route. I took photos of familiar markers along the trail until my film ran out then I put the wound up film back in and walked back along the same way and found more of my favourite scenes along the road.
I used mainly compositions of empty road and pylons to create some sense of interminable memory, boundless in my mind.
The intrusions of lines and shapes are mostly down to chance as I did not know which images of the walk would overlap each other. I could only control the images I regarded as worth capturing. I like the layering process and the fact that each shape in the images is determined by its twin image of the return journey.

These are really pleasing so I may repeat the process with some more parts of my home territory.

The only problem is that most of the photos have no discernable borders which presents a problem when I want to take them to print so I need to find out if and how you can print entire strips of negative.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Chemistry of memory

I'm very intrigued at the moment at the biology and chemistry of memory. I've been researching in as far a depth as I can understand and now I've come back down to single atoms. Sodium and Potassium atoms to be precise. These are the atoms that flow in and out of the axon of a neuron (an electrically excitable cell) and transmit information received from sensory stimulus.

Creating long term memory is about synthesis and strengthening of proteins and the more times neurons transmit impulses the stronger they get
. Ergo these tiny atoms are what creates the memories I hold inside my mind. Tiny elements inside the cells in my body inside the food that I eat, inside the rocks of the earth that I walk on.

I'm not really sure what to do with this information yet but it may well involve some geological research of the rocks of my hometown.

current Project: Memory

I want to make sense of memory. Represent and organise my own memories and their semiotic relevance both within my mind and in context of outside memory "trigger" stimulus.
So far I've been:

  • sketching memories that I recall upon experiencing triggers in my day to day life.
  • Using experimental photography and painting to look for methods of representation
  • Anaylising the biological mechanics of memory formation and recollection.
  • Creating memory triggers in the form of bottled "perfumes"
  • Researching the history of memory representation in art
image from my sketchbook analyzing recollection and train of thought

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Supermarket abandon

While shopping I've always noticed and puzzled at the frequent and rather illogical abandonment of certain items on supermarket shelves.

It seems to me that people have discarded these items in favor of the products around them. It seems just plain bizarre that someone would decide milk was suddenly unnecessary and that a chicken must replace it. It makes me think of the trivialities and conversation of people both internal and external that have decided on the abandonment of these things.

So I'll just keep documenting and archiving, every time I see them. With the hope that one day I will make a lovely book from them.

Kenneth Dibben Project

I'll be exhibiting my photographs from my work in the Science Park here along with other WSA Fine Art Painting students.
I think the name of the show sounds a bit like a prog rock band but it works :)

Monday, 11 October 2010

Trees in the Earth

During my lovely autumn walk yesterday I noticed how very peculiar it is that trees planted into concrete is a common occurrence, and that it is even more peculiar that I have not noticed that it is peculiar before.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Science Park Sculptures

So after reflecting on the things I saw in the science park I came to the conclusion that parks, and gardens in general area bit Heimlich.
The layout of most recreational land in urban areas is quite geometric. Nature is forced into small spaces that cannot accommodate it sufficiently despite our best attempts.
Such as trying trees to walls....
Thinking about the way we destroy the wild and then cram our own synthetic cultivated version of it back into the spaces around our constructions I made some bricolage sculptures using the plants and fruit and the man made constructs around the site.
I tried to use symmetrical shapes and patterns in these sculpture/drawings to demonstrate the unsuitability of the materials to achieve such arrangements.

PVA glue

I've started using PVA glue a lot to make new painting surfaces and perhaps to make some shadow images. When it's dried it has a very beautiful opalescent quality.I found that using different drying surfaces and adding objects into the glue generates some amazing and delicate patterns when it becomes solid.

This is a PVA surface that I made using a CD case. I painted on it with oil paint and scanned it to see what that would look like.
Another thing that I find really beautiful about these surfaces is their listless movement when you hold them in your hand.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Science Park continues

First day at the Science Park also yielded these observations:
  • That placing a bench somewhere automatically renders whatever it's facing WONDEROUS. I mean seriously, I think every tree has something interesting about it, but is this "sculpture" really worthy of my attention? Is it really worthy of my sitting down attention?

  • Gardens and parks are strategically placed in urban area's because people need to have organic "greenery" (as its labeled) in their environment or they become depressed or something along those lines. That's probably true but gardens and parks are just plants etc shoved into geometric shaped area's that they don't really fit into which require constant "maintenance".
  • The layout of such parks and gardens often seems as though its attempting to look natural as though when the buildings were constructed on untamed land these little sections of wildness were spared to thrive among the amazing buildings, roads and amenities. In reality, the whole place would have been leveled then turf chucked into some spare areas with trees planted on top in symmetrical rows. Then obviously this looks AMAZING so you'll need a few benches so people can sit down, catch their breath and really appreciate the immense beauty of nature captured in a garden like this......

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Today I was trekking around a "Science Park" as part of a four day project in University. We weren't given much direction from our tutor, only shown slides of some artists work, which is pretty much the perfect way for me to start a project. By just wandering around aimlessly.

Anyway, the "Science Park" was actually a complex of office and lab buildings with standard carparks and grassed areas, not a large field filled with strange sculptures that demonstrate various powers of physics, which is what I envisioned when I heard the title "Science Park".

The offices were actually on the edge of a large nature reserve and the whole place was surrounded by motorway so wherever you were, the constant din of cars was audible even in the forested nature reserve. This intrigued me a lot as it reminded me of the constant rushing sound that can be heard from the factories near my house and so I recorded a few videos including this spider web with the obnoxious background noise of cars.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Paint the unphotographable

As I am about to start my second year at WSA under the painting specialism I have had many thoughts about the purpose/validity of painting in the context of modern art and more importantly what it means to me personally. I have always used a lot of photography and drawing/painting to investigate things but I find that I rarely begin or conclude things with painting and yet it still remains my favorite practice.
Therefore I feel I need to be able to rely more on my drawing and painting skills and I think the only way to do this is to embark upon an analysis cannot be documented initially though photography.

So I'm going to document the reflection and shadow perceived through my own eyelid but I fully expect to veer from this rather vague brief.

A few pages from my sketch book containing paint experiments as I try to find the best way to layer colours that mimic the pulsating patterns of my eyelid in strong light.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Editing process

Long exposure shots before and after they were edited in photoshop using basic auto commands.
I have started using the auto-contrast method in an adverse attempt to realize the abilities of technology to manipulate the natural.

I felt that the meticulous process I usually undertake when editing digital photographs seemed rather redundant here. I want to see what technology is capable of creating without too much interference on my part.

On a side note, long exposure photography is much more satisfying as I find that I don't "hoover" images as a photography tutor of mine once berated me for doing.

More long exposure shots

A few more long exposure pictures from my own back garden. The shadows in these photographs were produced by the bright moonlight at the time. I must take some photographs without moonlight as I want to see how the landscapes will look without conventional shadows.
I'm beginning to refine the subject of these photographs to well maintained gardens. There is something disturbing about the congenital desire of people to ensnare, manipulate and breed nature into their own personal fantasy.
I also have become very intrigued by the tiny scraps and sections of grassland and garden in between motorways and on roundabouts and I intend to explore this subject within the area of long exposure photography.

Monday, 23 August 2010

At the moment I'm very intrigued by long exposure photographs after looking through some old photos. I took this photo of a moonlit field in the snow back in January as a test shot and recently edited it to more closely mimic daylight. I'm fascinated that I can almost create day out of night. The disturbing quality of these photos is something that interests me in relation to other areas of my work.


It is customary to start at the very beginning I suppose but since I can't really decide where that is, and since things only become the beginning when given the contingency to precede other events I will just have to decide that this is now the beginning.

Well, it will be after the second post.