More questions about my work (again)

I’d probably describe myself as a frustrated sculptor.  I love using my hands, creating form, playing with shape, weight and space, however circumstances throughout my art training has led me to work in less cumbersome, more portable media.  Previously however my methods have always led to a sculptural and or video/photographic outcome.

This has all led me to explore the idea of working without form, giving shape to the formless and has led to deeper investigations into conceptual art.  Working with text, overheard and captured as ephemeral forms, and trying to capture form from text or concepts have led to drawing practice which I was hoping to develop into sculptural form.  However the idea of working without form and without a studio (as discussed earlier) is taking me in all sorts of metaphorical and actual directions.

Drawing on the very human desire to make order out of chaos, the need to know and the need for a solid ground, are all issues at the heart of my current concerns.  I’m not interested in ripping a hole in reality, rather working with the ephemeral and the formless as a way of encouraging fluidity.  So what does it all mean and how can it be realised?  The boundaries of the studio are extended beyond the boundaries of the walls. Materials become formless and infinite. Boundaries become fluid. The nature of space and the demarcation of borders becomes open, boundaries between species surpass the surface or skin. Senses are open.  Challenge, as always, is how to make art out of such formless ideas or perhaps how to translate such practice into a formal studio/gallery presentation.

Sleepwalking into an Orwellian nightmare

Mattel-Aristotle

Rachel MacLean’s work Feed Me, is a disturbing vision of the commodification of childhood innocence.  Disturbing, not the least by scenes of violence and suggestions of childhood sexual abuse, but by the very real message of the grooming and manipulation of children as consumers.  Feed Me! Feed Me! Feed Me!

The stark contrast between the Disneyfied, pop video production and the reality of childhood despair, identity, innocence and everything that the current late capitalist utopia seeks to steal and corrupt, is, although fictional, a sadly very astute representation of the real undercurrent of the post modern capitalist project.

I recently received an online petition highlighting real concerns with a new digital product, the Mattel Aristotle, sold as:

The First All-In-One, Voice-Controlled Smart Baby Monitor That Grows With Your Child.

Forgetting for the moment the audacity of the name, have a look at Aristotle advert, watch the Feed Me clip, and if you can, the full version (Currently showing at BMAG), then feel the horror.

The Future Is Now, and its a very scary one…

Rachel_Maclean_Feed_Me_6_1

‘You take care of the important things. Like cuddling. Let Aristotle take care of the rest’

RASP – Time for a manifesto?

At a time when the UK faces the treat of nationalism and the current governments fixation on closing down credible opposition with that feels like the emergence of a one party state, the role of art as an active agent in social change has never been more pressing. Influenced by the writings of Doreen Massey, my current practice investigates space in terms of the social and political landscape, raising questions about identity, solidarity and division. The country is split, the leavers and remainders, the urban and the rural, young utopian optimists and the older dystopian pessimists, the Daily Mail and the Guardian, the haves and the have-nots. How can democracy be re-invented, what role, if any, does art have in the shaping of new possibilities?

With all this in mind, I’ve decided to create a new category on this blog, RASP, Radical Art (and) Social Practice, to try and pull together some of my interests and concerns into some kind of coherent model, perhaps for a future project.

At the heart of these musings is the triangulated model of Art – Philosophy and Health (Or wellbeing).

Art = Expression, creativity and collaboration

Philosophy = New ways of being and unfolding

Health = Healthy communities, people and places

As this is an anti-reductionist model that seeks to resist the capitalist treacle that threatens to fill our mouthes, noses and lungs in an attempt to suffocate and consume, reducing us to machines. It should celebrate all that humanity has to offer, the clumsy, dirty and the awkward truth. It should be shapeless, capable of avoiding commodification and should be prepared to kill itself before it is pronounced dead, or subsumed by the treacle.

To start I’ll look at radical artistic collectives such as Dada, and Crass and seek to understand how they tried, but often failed, to resist the treacle, and at radical philosophers who offer new possibilities.  Also I’ll look at critiques of radical social practice and include links to papers and websites of interest.

Into action:

The difficult bit is how such a model (which shouldn’t be a model but at the moment I cant think of a better word to use) can be acted out, how it can be owned and be allowed to develop.  Does it need a manifesto? does it need a set of instructions or a base from which to grow, how does it avoid ideology and how does it resist hierarchy and arboreal models of unfolding?

Perhaps I’m in danger of turning into a mad old geezer, ranting anti capitalist slogans at the clock tower, when my vision of the future includes a cottage by the sea, an easel and some paintbrushes.  Who knows what the future holds?