Monday, 14 May 2007

These cards are an example of a myriorama; a set of interchangable pieces depicting a landscape. Constant and repeated features in the foreground and/or the horizon support different pastural scenes in the middleground. From myriad, an indefinately great number, and 'entertainments' such as panoramas and dioramas, the holder of the cards is able to change around the pieces, creating their own landscape. The designer would start with one landscape, which would then be cut into 16, 24, or 36 individual slices.

Interactive myriorama at

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Curiosity Cabinet for the Wexner Center for the Arts - Mark Dion

Apart from the interest of the classification systems used and presented by Dion in the plan for a proposed piece, one of the main things that intrigues me about this image is its own layout; separate from that which it represents. Although we see the area from above in the top illustration (a circular room, which according to the authors of Mark Dion, published by Phaidon, separates the viewers from inspecting the cabinets at close range by means of a 'protective railing') when presented like this, alongside a horizontal view of the cabinets the two vantagepoints combine to form the shape an observatory. I presume this was deliberate; it serves both to present the idea and function with its own connotations - especially when surrounded by the images of paintings and books from the Bodleian Library, and the first image, a photograph from an original Cabinet of Curiosities; a wunderkammer; a wonder-room.

This referencing of where it has come from reminds me a little of the repeated motifs in Pierre Huyghe's Billboards presented earlier. Also the presentations of art history by Andrew Lanyon and Cornelius Galle.

Dion's cabinets, organized according to Aristotle's classifications of species, when presented like this: each bookshelf encased in its own white box, remind me of the different playing cards of the myriorama, able to be rearranged at will, and still almost make sense visually. To these however, although change would visually acceptable, the entirely concept would be corrupted.

Rene Magritte - Words and Images

Originally published in La Revolution Surrealiste in 1929. Found in Conceptual Art by Tony Godfrey, Phaidon.

I don't know how these were originally presented; all that the book says is that the top image is a detail and the words are translated from the French. Given that the words are not only those that appear in the images I would be intrigued to see how they were written, whether printed or handwritten. I wonder how the presentation and scale in comparison to the originals varies; its seems to impossible to tell with the reproduction of these line drawings - information that might help, that you might find in other mediums in unavailable. The lines however, are very fine; it seems likely they have been reduced. Still the meaning is still clear on not dependant on its scale - their simplicity and minimal information makes them more versatile and apt to display in a book. This seems very different from the experience of viewing a painting, for example, via the mediation of printing.

Decorator Maligin - from an Album by Ilya Kabakov


In the introduction to Kabakov's albums in a book on him the author describes his 'albums' as words that sit in no particular genre, they 'belong in a space between a few types of art . . . from literature (primarily Russian), albums have taken narrative, plot, the existence of a hero, and most importantly, the direct inclusion of another person's text* or that written by the author . . . ' One stated element from 'fine arts' is 'this genre has the ability to withstand made on works of that type: to hold attention on itself, to be an object of contemplation, to possess appropriate compositional features.' He continues after a moment: ' From cinema, the album takes the use of connections between frames . . .' and ' theatre - not a modern theatre where the action takes place in the dark so that the attention of the viewer can be be even more firmly held, but rather an old theatre on a square, where in full light the viewer is unrestrained in his watching of the action and simultaneously in his evaluation of it.'

Kabakov's Albums are presented on music stands, each drawing or scrap takes a separate page, each is the same size. When presented, always only to small groups of people at a time, the viewers are able to handle them, inspecting at their own speed, in the preferred and chosen order.

Quotes and images from Ilya Kabakov, The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away, Amei Wallach, Harry N. Abrams, Inc, 1996.

*This comment reminds me of a couple of books, where the subject's are authors or editors themselves; Satre's Nausea, and Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov.

Agonizing Surikov - from an Album by Ilya Kabakov

Click on images to see larger, and read text. Apologies for the awkwardness of scrolling back and forth to read.

Mathmatical Gorsky - from an Album by Ilya Kabakov


Saturday, 12 May 2007

Mausoleum for Newton's House - Image from London as it might have been, Felix Barker and Ralph Hyde

The top image image shows a lithograph prepared by George Schalf, an artist, in 1834 in response to a commission from a Mr T. Steele. Mr Steele desired to make a national monument to Sir Isaac Newton who had died over a hundred years before; his plan - to encase Newton's former home and observatory, just off Leicester Square, in a gigantic mausoleum. It would be pyramidal, with a globe at its top. The ideal of encasing the building, which seems to isolate the home from all that surrounds it, is suspected to come from the treatment of a Franciscan chapel at Assisi, shown bottom left. Like this Mr Steele's plan seems to wish to preserve the building from the affects of time and the outside world; it reminds me of the embalming of the Egyptian mummies. I find the the naming of the building as a mausoleum an odd one; mausoleums usually contain tombs: burial places. Maybe Mr Steele believed the essence of Newton was best preserved, not it the usual way - of monuments over graves, but of the place where the given body, the person, has inhabited.
The plans progressed no further than these images; the book which they are presented in quotes someone by the name of Macaulay saying 'to preserve for posterity Newton's house which Macaulay hoped would "continue to be well known as long as our island retains any trace of civilization" ' The building, without still without mausoleum, was demolished in 1913.

The image and information above have been drawn from London as it might have been, Felix Barker and Ralph Hyde, John Murray Ltd, 1984.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Mark Dion - Scala Naturae

'Scala Naturae (1994), was a straightfaced subversion of Aristotle's attempt to classify life according to a hierachical system. . . . The receding steps begin with man's creationsm, climbing past fungi, fruits and vegetables, corals, butterflies, and a stuffed cat and duck and concluding with a bust of the classical scholar.'

Text from Mark Dion, Liza Corrin, Miwon Know, Norman Bryson, Phaidon.

The last thing I need is a pair of binoculars - Edward Ruscha, 1982

Works at show at One in the Other, March 2007. (Not this image)

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Possibilities of three

Proposed pyramids for England

Before the building of Nelson's Column there was a an area largely consisting of the royal stables. A square was planned and a commemoration to the Battle of Trafalgar was to be included. One submission was put forward by a Colonel Trench - a pyramid of tiers, each one of them to symbolise a year in the wars with France: it would have reach the same height as St Paul's, a lofty 364ft.

A cross section diagram shows the high of a huge pyramid cemetery planned by Thomas Willson to sit on top of Primrose Hill. The figures in the foremost image reveal its scale. (It may be necessary to click on the image for an enlargement.)

Images from London as it might have been.

Aspicientes in Autorem Fedei - Cornelius Galle, Copperplate Engraving, Antwerp, 1601.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Only appearances are fertile; they are gateways to the primordial. Every artist owes his existance to such mirages. The ponderous illusions of solidarity, the non-existance of things, is what the artist takes for 'materials'.

Robert Smithson, Incidents of Mirror Travel in the Yucatan, 1969.
Taken from: Smithson, Robert, The Collected Writings, Flam, Jack (ed.), University of California Press, Berkley, Page 132, by
Mannoni, Laurent, & Nekes, Werner, & Warner, Marina, Eyes, Lies and Illusions, Hayward Gallery, 2004, page 13.

Exert - page 122 from Circular Walks around Rowley Hall by Andrew Lanyon

Before reading the applied narrative in the text the image seems to speak of the maliability of photography, with its presentation of a seemingly true occurance; presentation of fact. It appears seemless, and true, one frame, one shot, although also with an archaic feeling grainy texture which might hide all maner of things. On closer inspection the documentation seems to be of the same object; it is only when we see them in parellel do we reasise the significance of its size of printing.
The two objects are aligned to the right, in direct comparision to each other, another element which tells of the relationship between the two items; one which would exist even if they were different objects, and different from each other; it applies an insinuated contrast in the scale, and space filled by one thing, as opposed to another.
When these items then become instruments used for measurement, it then questions firstly their function; as they are available via photography they can be rendered at any size. In the book, the inches in either ruler are not in 1:1 radio with the real measurement, or true size of either object: it is impossible to tell whether they were made this way or photography; they may really be odd sized rulers.
With text the two image/one image becomes part of a larger narrative; Lanyon's book tells the histories of three charccters who make bizarre experiments, each in they own interests and subjectjective views of life. In ther books they become defined by their own indifidual activities and how they cope with each others.
The first line on page 123, after the above image, begins to read in contrast: 'Vera admits there did actually come a time when she found herself agreeing with Walter that every form of art is dangerous, one of many from her subconscious . . .' Another play on the believeability, and truth of sight of the image presented by the author/artist, it seems to reveal the conquest of this image.
The manipulated scale also reminds me of the Marcel Broodthaers piece earlier.

Detail. Click on image.

What Painting Is

Quote from 'What Painting Is' by James Elkins, published by Routlage:

Imagination is fluid, or wants to be, and the very act of painting is an act of violence against the liquidity of our thoughts. A painting is frozen, and its permanence is very much unlike our evanescent ideas. This is one of paintings powers, since the stillness of painting can set the mind free in a remarkable way - paintings give us license to reflect in ways that volatile arts, such as movies and plays cannot. A film bombards the senses with new configurations, while a painting remains still, waiting for us to dream the changes it might possess.
Art Now Cornwall

Redesigning the city to help with paying for taxis

Guildhall University aka London Met has left its mark - the stamps on the pages are stamps on the library book pages.

Image from the Victorian Age.

Image from London As it may have been.

Exert - page 67 from Circular Walks around Rowley Hall by Andrew Lanyon

Click on Image for larger view, or, read transcribed text below:

In the 1980s the vicar of St Ives said 'the stench (of fish) is so terrific as to stop the church clock'. By Walter's day, fishing had declined and the town smelled instead of turps, that embalming fluid with which artists stop time.


Another exert - again Circlular Walks around Rowley Hall, Page 86

Since St Ives overflowed with inns and chapels, it was as full of words as images and fish. There are, furthermore, words peculiar to the place which continue to fox incomers to this day, such as ' The Island', which is not really an island at all. That central feature of the place is not what it says it is worried visitors for years, and many ended up on Vera's couch. In consquence, reality has never been able to get a firm grip, not just because of the radiation, but because of a wayward native element. Those critics who blame artists for the unsettled nature in the area just do not know the locals. Vera even considered a total ban on art for a trial period, to see if it might recover. In her heart of hearts though, she knew otherwise.