In anticipation of my article being published in volume 10 of the Studies in Material Thinking journal, titled 'Painting Architecture: Towards a Practice-Led Research Methodology', you can sign up for my forthcoming newsletter:
Is the visualisation of spatial thinking different in other parts of the world? With this question in mind, I organised two 'Painting Architecture' sessions during my stay in Hong Kong, which will feed into my PhD project.
The collaborations were very dissimilar in nature and outcome. The first one took place with an architect to discuss ideas for his ideal house. He invited his wife to participate, turning the session into a proper negotiation - if not confrontation - of private and shared space. Alongside the conversation was a more subtle discussion of how ideas are translated into their visual counterpart, balancing between oversimplictic symbols and the esoteric visual codes inherent to architectural training.
The second session addressed an existing place and its future development. I met with the owner of the small property that lies vacant and mostly in ruin within a deserted village, just outside of Hong Kong. We discussed the opportunities for a revivial of the village, in terms of the impact it could have as a cultural attraction, and the risks of attracting large investors that would negatively transform the idylic place into a tourist trap. Our painting became a real collaborative field of possibilities, as we talked about the various aspects of the place. We decided to leave part of the canvas blank, in regards of the uncertain future of the place, as well as its yet undiscussed opportunities.
As to the question of different visual approaches, there seems to be too much cultural crossover nowadays. Especially when architects are trained in the west, and bring their exertise back to the east, there is a standardisation in the rendering of spatial ideas. It could be argued that it's the intentions which account for the visual approach.
Back from the EAEA Conference in Milan on 'Envisioning Architecture: Design, Evaluation, Communication', generously hosted by Eugenio Morello and Barbara Piga at the Politecnico di Milano. I presented a poster on my PhD project, which can be viewed online.
The full and ambitious programme left enough time to meet some inspiring people. I was especially intrigued to hear about research and ideas from the Middle East, and glad that there was such a mixed international crowd.
In the presentations, many arguments were made for the development of simulations of reality. However, these were not always convincing, in particular where the tools are used without clear indication of the need for such visualisation. Maybe the most convincing talks, albeit few of them, were the ones which presented low-tech visualisation strategies for the collaboration with others, which were subsequently translated into analytical visualisations using software.
Certainly, a discussion was missing on how architects and planners can engage with others in their work through innovative envisioning tactics. In this light, maybe the most accurate quote mentioned in one of the presentations was "the more isms, the more schisms". Nevertheless, the European Architectural Envisioning Association (EAEA) is clearly the platform where progress in the envisioning of architecture is shared and exposed. The next conference will take place in Lodz, Poland, in 2015.
Venice Art Biennale!
Moving from country to country in short time spans, the pavilions at the Venice Art Bienniale reveal how national identities are produced and shaped. Not surprisingly, they often reinforce our expectations, and unfortunately also our preconceptions. The African pavilion deals with Apartheid leftovers, Finland with natural environments, the Greek with economics and the Brits with their political misery diluted by milky tea. While the latter was clearly overhyped by the British online guides, we were blown away by the following artists:
Camille Henrot, exhibiting at the Arsenale, leaves us deeply impressed through a screen capture of her computer, showing her research that attempts to encapsulate all of human's knowledge. This multilayered work is both original and mundane, as it reflects our own continuous scrolling through neverending windows of information.
Iraq welcomes us with tea and cookies in a homely setting, which is much appreciated after elbowing through Venice's crowdy center. The individual works exhibited in this large apartment make a strong impact: a video revealing the daily hardships of alcohol smugglers between Iraq and Iran; the transient nature of 'home' in the cardboard room; and cartoons about the presence of war in everyday life.
From all national pavilions, Greece presents maybe the most urgent and timely work, while refraining from documentation. The three film narratives present different economic situations; a rich Greek art collector who makes flowers from 500 euro notes out of boredom, a homeless immigrant who finds the flowers while searching for recyclible metals in a bin, and - clearly metaphorically - a German artist who becomes the link between both stories. The work is informed by interesting texts on various kinds of currencies and their modes of exchange.
Extremely delicate and simulatenously robust are the plastic sculptures by Pawel Althamer. Walking between the life-size figures which have faces cast from the city's inhabitants, evokes a sense of calm and tenderness - a collective introvertness.
Much on the contrary, the humour in the Musical Diary video by Milos Tomic in the Serbian Pavilion causes hysterical laughter! It is much in the style of artist Guy Ben-Ner, in the way that the artist interacts with his children to create hilarious and creative situations that would melt everyone's heart. It merges art and life in a way that previous 'isms' have not managed.
The Holy See presents a spectacular new media work by Studio Azzurro. It is an interactive installations with large screens, on which people walk around. If touched, the person comes to the fore and communicates to you through sign language, movements which are poetically traced in the air.
In the Central Pavilion, Artur Zmijewski's intriguing video draws crowds through its down-to-earth documentation of the painting process of blind participants. Even more intriguing is the subsequent internal dialogue on the ethical dimension of the work, apparently a reaction he wants to evoke with his oeuvre.
Yuri Ancarani's video of high-tech endoscopic surgery steals the show in sense of impact. The work Da Vinci (2012) was shot inside a hospital operating room, equipped with cutting-edge technology, showing skilled doctors maneauvring through a patient's intestines. It is hard to tear away from this highly invasive bodily experience, with curiosity and disgust stetched to their furthest limits.
Another highly moving video documents the experience of immigrants in Italy. Their stories are emotional accounts of xenophobia encountered during their long-term stay in Italy, exposed by the artist Bouchra Khalili. It's a work which should have received more exposure, for example at the Italian pavilion itself, but its isolated location reveals that the critical topic is sadly too sensitive for the host of the Biennale.
Also Venice has a pavilion, which shows amongst others large hyperrealistic photographs by AES+F. These surreal scenes of multicultural figures at an airport and an outdoor event seem to reflect the increasing mixing of co-habitations of cultures.
The pavilion of Slovenia shows two thought provoking videos; an art committee discussing the acceptance of an artist's work, and an interview with an architect as a parody on the architectural profession. It takes a while before the earnestness of the works reveals the underlying sarcasm. A sense of humour was added when two dogs entered the space playing wildly - apparently not part of the exhibition.
Belgium offers a poetic work in the form of cripple wood as a massive wax sculpture, in an atmospherically gloomy darkened space.
Finally, Zhong Biao's multimedia installation in the Santa Maria Church is breathtaking. The floating paintings are both cheesy and captivating, with the sound and light effects stimulating all the senses. Good to see painting coming alive in such exciting large endeavours, especially since the Bienalle was quite low on painting.
Although it is expected that sensorial and multimedia installations leave the deepest memories, this year's biennale has convinced me of the power of video in the hands of artists. While I usually don't have patience for time-based media, it is both the humour and the gravity of the stories that has not only absorbed me, but invited to reflect and to learn.
In the most desperate of times (i.e. doing a PhD), I always turn to www.phdcomics.com for a 'LOL' moment. Much recommended to feel part of a community! My current favourite:
"Piled Higher and Deeper" by Jorge Cham
Thinking through art, as entailed by practice-based research, is proving extremely ambiguous through the lack of a history of defined methodologies available to artists/researchers. In my quest for sources, the recurring advice is to find your own methodology which enables getting evidence for the support (or rejection) of your argument. I am finding, right now, that conceiving a methodology is becoming a research project in itself. With the third transformation of my methodology, I am starting to consider whether this journey itself shouldn't become the focus of the project...
Update 09.09.2013: As usual, it turns out that one of the e-books which has been gathering dust on my virtual shelf is proving very helpful in listing artistic methods and their contexts of use: Gray, Carole, and Julian Malins. Visualizing Research: A Guide to the Research Process in Art and Design. Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2004.
Having recently left Facebook, in light of the increasing evidence (statistical and personal) of its disastrious impact on productivity, I am dedicated to share more of my relevant ideas and explorations here.
As the dissemination of architecture as spatial agency is spreading (e.g. FT's 'Architects who improvise and innovate'), I recall a small project I recently undertook in the Italian countryside. To visit the place I was staying at, one has to ignore all the signs to the left and take a dirt path in the right direction, which becomes even more questionable when 'private road' signs appear. Surely, a sense of destination would be evoked by an indication of the right turn possibility at the crossing? Above all, it might provide a sense of existence for the inhabitants of the small community at the end of the road. If a feeling of ownership over a place can have positive results over the long-term, it is worth thinking how one can contribute to this through small projects.
So I set out to make a road sign which would not only be informative, but also reflect the identity of the place. Who better to engage than the local children? Together, we made sketches of the place, thinking about the key elements which represent the location. The next step was to find materials which could be recycled into a sign board. Of course, the installation of the sign is mainly useful for visitors, but it is the process of making the sign which evokes a sense of spatial responsibility. The key question is to what extent such a sign can become a 'relational object', as defined by Marjetica Potrc. My hope is that it will inspire other interventions that will improve the place, since Italy needs bottom-up interventions in light of the hard hitting crisis.
Update 01.09.2013: The sign board has been removed by an unknown entity, a sad loss for the community. However, the process remains realised and cannot be undone, as such an argument could be made for the importance of process over product. In the meanwhile, the case is being investigated until further notice.
The poster will be presented at the 11th EAEA 'Envisioning Architecture: Design, Evaluation, Communication' Conference, hosted by the Politecnico di Milano on 25-27 September 2013.
The conference investigates "the role of visualization as a tool for conception, verification, evaluation and communication of architecture and space", in particular "visualization as a platform for experimentation, exploration, research, user participation and teaching".
For more information: www.eaea11-2013.polimi.it
Pleased to share that I've passed the research upgrade (confirmation as it is called at UAL)! This is a stage at which you proceed from MPhil to PhD level, based on the originality of your research, as acknowledged by the examiner in agreement with both supervisors.
I will be presenting my research at the RNUAL Spring Research Symposium, at the University of the Arts London, taking place 11-15 February.
My book review of Painting with Architecture in Mind (ed. Edward Whittaker and Alex Landrum, 2012) is available online on Leonardo Reviews:
"With the title in mind, it is easily anticipated that this book advances the current debate on painting in the expanded field, but it covers a much larger territory. Exemplified by practices from the early twentieth century up to today, the contributing authors approach the relationship between painting and architecture through notions of colour, aesthetics versus aesthesia, (de)framing and display, geometric thinking, objecthood, dematerialisation and autopoiesis..." read more...
Having just returned from a nice break in The Netherlands, and with the recent trip to Rome still fresh in mind, it is intriguing to compare two similar kinds of galleries with a totally different impact: the recently opened Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome. With the former shaped like a giant white bathtub, and the latter a majestic classical building, you would expect to swim around for hours in the Dutch masterwork and to quickly scroll through the Italian arte. Nothing proved further from the truth. After six hours non-stop in Rome's wonderful gallery, we were still running on adrenaline from the excellent curatorial job. Cheesy neon plastic sculptures adorned rooms with futurism's bald paintings, then some blue illuminated op-art hung next to conventionally framed impressionist painting in a room with clay busts. Around every corner another curatorial trick, with the highlight a full-room mirror floor reflecting its classic sculptures. In stark contrast, the bathtub treated us to a linear stroll through the standard -isms and its associated highlights, without any risk taking nor invitation to engage in a dialogue. This comparison and experience proves that curating is an art in itself. Moreover, it's a hint that, when writing my thesis chapter, I ought to refrain from historic linearism and instead propose some controversial juxtapositions to ignite the argument.
"An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way."
- Charles Bukowski
November will be a very busy month; I will travel to the University of Innsbruck for the conference 'Spatial Thinking 2', then to Helsinki to present at 'The Art of Research Conference' at the Aalto University, and finally, my work will be shown at the conference 'Immaterial Materialities – Materiality and Interactivity in Art and Architecture' at the University of Technology in Sydney. These will be great opportunities to reflect upon and discuss the pilot study of the project 'Painting Architecture'. With seven completed sessions, some initial arguments can be made, while I am also looking into the best way of documenting the paintings since they are in the ownership of the participants (see project description). The one painting which is in my possession, I intend to circulate around the audience during my conference presentations in order to make the audience see it. Our society is so overwhelmed with pictures that we have become indifferent and unresponsive, not paying attention to the embedded meaning(s) within the image. By holding a painting in the hands, while listening to a detailed description of the pictorial elements, I hope to make the audience aware of the painting's functional and rhetorical value. As such, the work is not only a relational object in the studio, when created out of the dialogue with the participant, but also when experienced and interpreted by the viewers.
I have been invited to present at the conference “Immaterial Materialities – Materiality and Interactivity in Art and Architecture” at the Faculty of Design Architecture and Building, University of Technology, in Sydney. This takes place on 28-30 November 2012.
Exciting news! The painting 'Urbanization' has been acquired by the University of the Arts London for their art collection!
There has also been an exciting auction of my works in a small circle of friends, and many works such as State and Edifice have found a new home.
Three important works are still looking for a (large) wall space, please contact me if you are interested. See 'Cities in Progress', 'Working Space' and 'Tenth Floor' in the gallery...
My work 'Alternative Masterplan' will be on show at UCL Cities Methodologies, an initiative to showcase innovative methods of urban research.
I would especially like to invite you to my event on Friday 6th of July at 5-6pm in the Auditorium. This one-off event is the original context in which my painting should be viewed and experienced:
This event if free and open to everyone (also non-architects!), and part of a larger Programme of Events. If you can't make it to my talk on Friday, drop by for a chat at the Private View on Wednesday. Here are all the details:
Private View: Wednesday 18:30, 4 July 2012, all welcome!
Date: 4-7 July 2012
Open: Thurs to Fri 10.00-20.00, Sat 10.00-13.00
Place: Slade Research Centre, Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB map
My exhibit is in Room 2.
"Visitors to Cities Methodologies will encounter diverse methods of urban research in juxtaposition - from archival studies to digital media experiments, practice-led art, architectural and design work to film-making, soundscapes, games and public sculpture."
Back from 'The Media of the Metapolis' conference in Weimar, which aimed to critically disseminate the ways in which knowledge about, and research into the city is communicated. Great experience to present for such an international group of researchers and practitioners!
Just returned from presenting at the two-day conference at the University of Lincoln; Theoretical Currents II: Architecture and its Geographical Horizons. With the theme of Ptolemy’s Cosmographia - how the geographic impulse maps not only the known world, but also the inhabited world - the conference brought together a wide variety of speakers and research topics. The keynote speakers Prof Andrzej Piotrowski and Prof Carolyn Steel reflected the two main approaches taken in the conference; on the one hand the continuous problem with architecture as an autonomous project that translates social complexity into visual complexity in a failed attempt at a holistic perspective, and on the other hand the lack of awareness in current design and planning of the fundamental human needs that essentially shape the landscapes we inhabit. The various presentations reveal a struggle how to introduce a human element into thinking about the geographic impuls in architecture, often through a reconsideration of the relationship between city and countryaide, but also by asking how design and visual representation should map human movement, protest, needs etc - in short, how we respond to contextual complexity in a way that is both ethical and aesthetic.
I attended the 'Contested Sites/Sights' research conference at Chelsea College of Art, which responds to the idea that: “[If we think of place] as formed out of social interrelations at all scales, then one view of a place is as a particular articulation of those relations, a particular moment in those networks of social relations and understandings.” (Doreen Massey, ‘Space, Place, Gender’, 1994) What struck me most, when comparing research in the fine arts and in architecture,, is how art research allows the researcher to be at the source of the enquiry. This subjectivity reflects the extremely qualitative methods used, whereas architectural research hides this in complex diagrams and 'facts'. Especially in light of the question to what extent research ought to be holistic, havign embodied a postmodern sensibility/responsibility, the question what position we take up in our own research is crucial to what we want to claim when locating ourselves within "a social, economic and political realm".
Another interesting Friday Session at Public Works yesterday, to "feed the culture" and to "feed the stomach" with soup afterwards:
"An introduction to alternative economic models and collaborative practices in times of decreasing mainstream funding. The discussion will focus on thoughts and tools towards more democratic and sustainable economies for experimental cultural practice."
Compared to the model of talks and discussions at other fora (let's not mention names), these sessions really stand out. They are, as I see it, practical exchanges of knowledge and networks, inclusive and informal enough to embrace the cumulative intelligence of the whole audience, rather than revering the speakers as exclusive experts. This is not to say that the speakers weren't contributing invaluable insight into contemporary developments in society and the creative sector. The three speakers provided theoretical, practical and ethical arguments for developing a better context in which creative practice can flourish, through alternative (economic) models such as crowdfunding, commoning, Sunday Soup and Artist Run Credit League. These are all about creating networks that are based on other values than the ones advocated by capitalism. One could add to this list: freecycle, furniture re-use network, swap a skill, read it swap it, ecomodo good returns. Maybe we don't need all that money after all!?
Some interesting points that came up:
- Alternative (economic) models have always existed, but are now being systematised. The internet can, as such, reach wider networks.
- Especially interesting is the system of pledges in crowdfunding, where the supporters receive something in return for their financial support.
- The danger of such network groups becoming freemasonry, if powerful people get together. This relates to the ethical ground on which such networks are based.
A fresh new look for my website! I can never resist doing a bit of website design aside of my academic and artistic work, as a kind of 'organised creativity'. Yesterday, I attended the panel discussion on The Creative Process at the British Academy. While it was rather depressing to hear the reality (as opposed to generally kept myths) of creative work by Professor Rosalind Gill, the presentation by Professor Pat Healey reminded me again of the importance of externalising ideas. Based on other research, he argues that a mental picture is not enough to be creative, rather one has to externalise it by, for example, making sketches in order to start a creative process. Thus, the active engagement allows for the emergence of creative ideas and new interpretations. While this might sound pretty basic, it is a valid argument for practice-based doctoral studies - and, as I argue in my PhD, for architects to work more free-hand/style instead of using software.
While the discussion was very well chaired by Professor John Sloboda, he raised crucial questions which unfortunately remained unaddressed. After all, creativity is not just part of the working process of the creative sector, but can be invaluable to everyday life.
Excellent news! I have been invited to present at the conference The Media of the Metapolis at the Bauhaus-Universitšt Weimar, 24-26 May 2012 (www.mediacityproject.org).
My paper has been accepted for the conference Theoretical Currents II: Architecture and its Geographical Horizons at the University of Lincoln, on the 4-5th of April 2012. (www.theoreticalcurrents.com)
I am presenting a paper entitled 'Who Manages Who? Art and Law in Conversation' with Hin-Yan Liu at the conference:
Law, the Universe and Everything
Wednesday 16 November 2011, 10:30 – 19:00
University of Westminster
Room C2.15, 115 New Cavendish Street
London, W1W 6UW
Attendance is free, but places are limited, RSVP required
With an inaugural lecture 'The Interdisciplinarity of Law and the Post-Humanist Turn' by Professor Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos at 18:00.
Ridley Road Open Studios 2011
this weekend, 28 and 29 October
Friday 6-9pm, Saturday 12-6pm
Address: 51 - 63 Ridley Road, London E8 2NP
my space is 2nd floor, studio 8
Submitted an artwork for the Secret Art Show, to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Trust.
The Private View of the RSA exhibition was really wonderful last night, and a great opportunity to meet the other artists involved, such as Martin Stynes and Frank Creber, each interested in the urban environment from a different perspective. The space at the Portico Library is unique, and itself representing a romantic site within the harsh architectural contrasts of Manchester.
Photos of the exhibition are now online!
The exhibition 'Romanticism in the Urban Environment', opening in Manchester next week (see information below), is now accompanied by my article on the RSA website, entitled 'Engaging Artists in the Debate on 21st Century Cities'.
Upcoming Group Exhibition 7 July - 26 August 2011:
My work has been selected for the prestigious RSA Fellows exhibition 'Romanticism in the Urban Environment', in The Portico in Manchester, during July and August.
Private View: Wednesday 6th of July, 6-8pm
Address: The Portico Library & Gallery
57 Mosley Street
Manchester M2 3HY
I will be presenting at 'The Journey as a Site for Creative Practice: A Symposium', taking place in the second carriage of the 11:12 high speed train from London St Pancras to Folkestone on Saturday 25th of June 2011, organised by 16 Space. Upon arrival in Folkestone, after a 55 min. journey, there is the grand launch of Folkestone Triennial, with a conference taking place at 2pm - 6.30pm (key speaker Saskia Sassen), as well as many other events. Check out www.folkestonetriennial.org.uk for more information and the full programme.
Great news, I got awarded a grant from The Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust for the next academic year!!
I am currently working on a new piece, which will depart from pure painting and incorporate appropriated images in 'conversation' with the painting. Very exciting!
Monday 11 April, I will be giving a talk on professional practice, as part of a-n Air Activists Salon (Artists' Interaction & Representation)
Gallery London 94-96 Peckham Rd,
London SE15 5PY
More info: website a-n AIR
I will be doing a workshop with the BA Architecture students at Westminster University, consisting of a lecture, discussion and tutorials. The workshop will be on the topic of effective presentation methods for architects, and the rhetorical value of architectural representation. It will also touch on issues of motives and choices in creating images, thus very relevant to my reseach.
I'll also be doing tutorials with the 1st year students at the School of Media, Arts and Design, to which I'm really looking forward to!
Back in the studio... finally finish the official PhD proposal for registration! Time to get going with the research. My current project is a response to the Meanwhile London competition, whichs aims to regenerate Canning Town and the Royal Docks area. It's interesting how the local councils are looking for "temporary use" projects for three sites, in order to generate long-term interest and investment. Their aspiration is "local projects that reach a global audience", which sounds like a rather challenging project!
On the 16th of December, I will present my research as part of the CREAM Winter Symposium, which will take place at Ambika P3, University of Westminster (Location: Ambika P3, 35 Marylebone Road, NW1 5LS . Baker Street Station).
The theme of the symposium is built around the exhibition of Terry Flaxton: High Resolution Moving Image Works. The presentation will respond to the question: "In what way do high definition digital technologies affect the production and reception of art in the fields of Photography, Print Arts, New Media and Moving Images?"
I will be giving a short talk about my PhD
research at the 3rd Annual Festival On Cities 2010, organised by This
Is Not A Gateway, as part of the "Soapbox, Oh that's interesting!"
The talk will take place on Sunday 24th of October, sometime between 2-3pm (Location: Match Stick Hall, Hanbury Hall, 22 Hanbury Street, London E1 6QR, MAP). The Soapbox introduces new research, ideas and projects, and it would be great to see you there!
The festival takes place on 22-24 October and has 163 contributors which makes it a large platform for discussions on all aspects of the city. Check out the full programme (discussions, walks, films, exhibitions and workshops) on the TINAG website.
Exhibiting in Group Exhibition 'Ponglish for Beginners' (curated by Stephen Campbell) at From Space, Salford, 18 Feb - 31 March 2010:
'Ponglish for Beginners' Part 2 focuses on the theme of the Metropolis.
London has attracted many Polish people to its bright lights and opportunities. In this exhibition five young artists who have moved to Britain from Poland, explore different aspects of the City.
From Space is a unique arts space in the centre of Manchester, associated with Islington Mill and just outside of Spinningfields, it is a world to its own. The public are invited to draw every day at 2, and are encouraged to use the space to get on with some work, read, or join in with all sorts of projects happening by the fire.
'Ponglish For Beginners' is a series of exhibitions which explore the relationship between Britain and Poland, beginning with Polish artists who practise in Britain.
Artist Talk at St Cross College, University of Oxford
Date: Thursday 4 February 2010
Exhibiting in Group Exhibition 12-15 November:
Large Solo Exhibition 8-11 October: