As part of my art practice, I look to my immediate surroundings to gather objects and information as I walk in my daily routine. My natural inclination to collect intersects with my intention to primarily make work with things that I find. To make work of and from the world.
Often these found objects become the material in which to explore a specific site or space, as a way of articulating it’s peculiarities and perhaps our habitation of it.
These found or discarded objects, become my art materials. They are “recycled’ for use in making multiple artworks, sometimes as repetitive units or as assemblages.
In the early 1960s the American artist Lee Lozano executed a series of drawings of everyday tools. She drew crow bars, hammers, wrenches and vices in tightly-framed compositions where the tools take on a monumental aspect, even though the drawings, executed in a combination of pencil and conte crayon, are modest in size.
These drawings led to a group of large oil paintings. The slightly distorted forms in the drawings – a bulkiness in the proportions of the tools – is exaggerated even further in the paintings, where the tools flex and buckle as if animated by their own actions of banging, screwing and pressing. The series was interpreted by critics as having a socio-political significance, as a female artist used a masculine subject in a parody of phallocentrism.
Seen together the drawings have the feeling of an inventory, and a group of them have stayed together in the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Yet Lozano did not refer to this series as an archive. Perhaps the sense of documentation is incidental, and the artist was more motivated to allow each object to undergo a transformation through drawing and painting. Lozano’s tools take on almost human characteristics of fleshiness and mobility.
Brief bio of Lee Lozano:
This link offers many images of Lee Lozano’s Tools:
This link is to an exhibition walk-through of Lee Lozano: Tools at Hauser and Wirth Gallery, New York, 2011.
Wayne Thiebaud (born USA,1920) and Lisa Milroy (born Canada, 1959) are two artists who have, independently of each other, created drawings and paintings of large collections of objects organised into patterns. Whilst neither is an archivist per se, they bring to still life painting an archivist’s eye for the variety to be found within a particular class of object.
Common to both artists is the adoption of a hovering vantage point, looking down or across at rows or grids of objects, strongly lit on a plain (often white) background.
Thiebaud’s chosen subjects were the bright, mass-produced consumer goods of late twentieth century America, such as shoes, sunglasses and fast food. He worked across a range of disciplines including drawing (pencil, ink or pastel), printmaking (etching and lithography) and oil painting. Sometimes seen as part of the Pop Art movement, a wider examination of his work reveals him to be a traditional painter with a contemporary sensibility, attracted to subjects across the genres of figure painting, landscape and still life. Occasionally his objects will be depicted on shelves or behind glass, as they would be seen in a shop, but within a non-specific location.
An interview with Wayne Thiebaud
Milroy is drawn to similar subjects, with a particular emphasis on shoes, but her playful disruption of the grid creates a different sense of visual rhythm to Thiebaud’s more regular arrangements. Her compositions might at first appear to be abstractions, as the strength of the visual pattern overrides the identity of the depicted subject. In recent years she has developed other approaches to the representation of common objects.
Visit Lisa Milroy’s website for more of her work with shoes.
An interview with Lisa Milroy
Bird’s nests, snake skins, bones and dehydrated animals such as birds, rats and lizards have found their way into Suzanne Archer’s Wederburn studio. This archive of things that are the remnants of once living creatures, has formed the bases of many large scale drawings. Working with a degree of direct observation, these drawings are exploratory and adventurous.
You can see her talking about this practice here
Giorgio Morandi had collections of bottles, jugs and vases that he constantly selected from to make arrangements for his still-life drawings and paintings. He probably never thought of this process as ‘archiving’, but each time he makes a still-life arrangement and records it in a drawing or painting, he is categorising them in his own way.
Luke Thurgate spent ten days in residence at the Burra Regional Art Gallery developing a community authored archive of objects which formed the basis for a live wall drawing project. He used the idea of a collective archive to make social connections with the community of this small regional South Australian town. Locals were invited to lend personally significant domestic objects which formed the subject matter of the work. Thurgate set four simple rules for the project:
- Every person who left an object had a conversation with the artist
- Every object got a label with information relating to what it was, who it belonged to, where it came from and why it meant something
- Every object had to be incorporated into the drawing
- The placement/juxtaposition of objects within the drawing should resist the imposition of secondary narrative connections.
In the end, 85 objects were left at the gallery and were used to make a drawing spanning 27 metres of wall. The drawing was made live in the space and became a way of acknowledging the intersecting memories, stories and identity of the Burra community.
When we are working with moving images sound can be a playful and experimental dimension to the work in which chance and randomness play an important role. We have a strong desire and impulse to connect movement to sound. This allows for sounds that we might think of as unrelated to the visual aspects of a work to become powerfully entangled with the moving image.
In this inspiring interview with Jason Di Rosso audio engineer, sound designer and film sound editor Dean Hurley discusses his ongoing collaboration with director David Lynch. Dean Hurley has collaborated with David Lynch on many projects including Season 3 of Twin Peaks (2017). This interview highlights the value of an experimental approach to working with sound. There is also a useful distinction here between an experimental phase, in which you just allow yourself to try all sorts of things, and the evaluation of those experiments, which is something that might happen much later.
In this video Ben Denham discusses Dean Hurley’s collaboration with David Lynch followed by some practical experiments with sound and animation
In this video Ben Denham demonstrates the use of Paul Stretch, free software for the extreme stretching of audio files (up to 1000 times).
This video discusses examples of ‘expanded’ drawing—a term borrowed from Rosalind Krauss’ 1979 essay Sculpture in the Expanded Field—that is used to identify artwork that is part-way between traditional drawing and other disciplines and practices. In particular, the video discusses how these examples employ representational elements of traditional drawing jointly with the time and space in which their material forms are located. These include use of scale, and proximity to a represented subject—making the latter a type of site-specificity. It also includes the drawing of continuities between represented and actual spaces, as well as openness to the physical and temporal environment implied in unfixed materials, and in actual or potential movement. Also discussed are spatial works that claim a place within expanded drawing by employing line or drawing’s traditional temporal or future orientation that comes from its role in planning and preparation.
Jim Campbell is an artist who studied electrical engineering and mathematics. He is well known for his low-resolution video works. He creates custom LED video arrays in which individual LEDs act as pixels. The arrays vary in size from 300 LEDs to over a thousand. Even at their largest these arrays are a tiny fraction of the resolution of the screens in most electronic devices.
In this short video Ben Denham discusses Jim Campbell’s work and describes some simple ways to create low-resolution effects when shooting video.
In this tutorial Ben looks at creating low resolution works with the mosaic effect in Premiere Pro and a number of techniques for manipulating the colours of the pixels created by that effect.
And in this tutorial Ben looks at how modes can be used to remove information from and image and create low resolution effects including an effect that is similar to a line drawing.
Download a PDF of the slides (right click and ‘save link as’) for the Landscape and Place slide talk by Joe Frost. Follow along with these slides as you listen to the audio below
Download the audio by clicking on the three dots on the right hand side of the audio player above.
Francis Alÿs works with video as a means to document actions that often occur in public spaces. In the iconic video-performance work Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing, (1997) the artist pushes a large block of ice around the streets of Mexico City until it completely melts away.
While Alÿs’ videos are both documentation and the work itself, in the gallery context the spatial arrangement of different works, and whether they are projected or on a screen, adds to our understand of these works.
Alÿs’ work offers us some interesting examples of expanded drawing. In his work The Greenline (2004) Alÿs literally takes a line for a walk by ‘following the portion of the ‘Green Line’ that runs through the municipality of Jerusalem’ while carrying a leaking can of green paint.
Phyllida Barlow is a UK sculptor who has maintained a very strong drawing practice. In this short documentary she offers insights into her studio processes and experiences as human and artist.
Rachel Whiteread likens her collecting of objects to drawings. She also makes drawings on paper from the objects. Her method of finding and collecting objects and extending them into new strands of her art practice is similar to the way drawing on paper can be the initial exploration of an ‘idea’. In this video Rachel Whiteread talks about her collection of objects.
Fiona Hall is an artist who uses archiving conventions in her work. Museological display is normally used to show archives of historical objects, but Fiona Hall often employs it to show collections of her own works. This mixing of the of conventions of museum and art display echoes the hybrid nature of artworks she shows in them. For example, Cell Culture, 2002, (image above) is a collection of animals and plants she constructed out of clear glass beads and white Tupperware containers, all housed within a large museological display case.
Fiona Hall, Sappers and Shrapnel, 2016-17, installation view.
To archive is sometimes to translate something into another form:
Daniel Spoerri archived a moment in time in 1962 by tracing the location of objects as they were sitting on a table at a particular moment. He also described each of the objects in words, cross-referencing them as he went, then published the map and text as a small book. The actual objects and the table seem to have disappeared into the past just like the moment he archived.
Spoerri was part of the Fluxus movement of the 1960s, that inherited an interest in chance from movements such as Surrealism and Dada earlier in the century.
Fluxus—a name taken from a Latin word meaning “flow, flux” (noun); “flowing, fluid” (adj.) (Wiktionary)—is an international network of artists, composers and designers noted for blending different artistic media and disciplines in the 1960s. Read More
In connection with a one man show of his snare-pictures at the Galerie Lawrence in Paris in 1962, Spoerri wrote his Topographie Anécdotée* du Hasard (Anecdoted Topography of Chance). Spoerri was then living at the Hotel Carcassone in Paris, in room number 13 on the fifth floor. To the right of the entrance door was a table which his wife Vera had painted blue. Spoerri drew on a ‘map” the overlapping outlines of all the 80 objects that were lying on the table on 17 October 1961 at exactly 3:47 p.m. Each object was assigned a number and Spoerri wrote a brief description of each object and the memories or associations it evoked. The descriptions cross referenced other objects on the table which were related. The Topographie Anécdotée* du Hasard was printed as a small pamphlet of 53 pages plus a fold out map and index and was distributed as an advertisement for the exhibit. The Topographie Anécdotée* du Hasard is more than just a catalog of random objects, however; read in its entirety, it provides a coherent and compelling picture of Spoerri’s travels, friends and artistic endeavors. Read More
On 21 February 2019 NAS lecturer Ben Denham, spoke with Joyce Hinterding about her drawing work.
Reserve-Detective III (1987) consists of wooden shelves with cardboard boxes, black-and-white photographs of faces taped on them. The images show perpetrators and victims of violent crime, but Mr. Boltanski deliberately does not label or organize the images that way, depriving us of knowing whether any individual is a criminal or a victim.
– Sewell Chan
Janet Laurence’s The matter of the masters is inspired by conservation research and analysis undertaken on Dutch old master paintings in the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands, especially works by Rembrandt.
“In Tony Albert’s conceptually driven practice, he often re-appropriates and recycles items of vintage kitsch that feature Aboriginal images or imagery: objects the artist calls ‘Aboriginalia’.”
In March this year the NAS Collection had a unique donation from the estate of former student and teacher Tom Thompson (1923-2019). Tom constantly drew the NAS site, using maps and buildings to tell its history. Taking on the idea of mapping the site, students will be shown Tom’s original drawings and watercolours as a starting point for this project.