Anthony McCall: Projection Artist

Anthony McCall – an artist that greatly inspired my recent IBDP body of works (Link to Grasping the Intangible, Manipulating the Metaphysical). He is an avant-garde, cinema and projection artist who deals with many multiple projection works that seek to create not just a two-dimensional experience, but a total atmospheric experience to audiences, immersing them into all four dimensions.

(For those that do not know that there are four dimensions, let me elaborate a bit on the subject with respect to the artistic process. The second and third dimension are both well known to us. the second being the flat plane, where drawings and paintings exist with no literal visible movement. The third dimension is where sculptural and installation pieces exist. These pieces integrate movement and a more defined interaction between the work, the space they are displayed in as well as the audiences that view the piece. At times, these pieces specifically seek to emphasize the relationship between audiences and artworks and interpretation can be greatly subject to the lighting and nature. However, in some instances, three-dimensional pieces start to flow into the fourth dimension – time. The fourth dimension considers the effect of time in or on an artwork. Moving sculptures, movies, etc. arguably are affected by the fourth dimension, playing a great role in the conceptual development of the work. Works that make use of this element include John Cage’s 4:33 and Michael Wesley’s Open Shutter Project painstaking time-lapsed photographs, both of which ultimate pay tribute to the element of time drastically changing and morphing a work’s outcome to give a different final “piece” depending on the time and space in which it is displayed or made.)

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Going back to McCall’s works, they consist of intricately and accurately project rays of light into a smokey, hazy atmosphere created with smoke machines. These rays of light then form shapes, patterns and almost three-dimensional “objects” that exist within the negative space of a room. These projections’ metaphysical form take on such solidity, especially on camera, that one cannot help but feel that they are actually physically there and that you might just be able to grasp the object and feel the grainy texture courtesy of the smoke. These “solid-light” installations exist in the intersection of drawings, cinema and sculptural installation, beginning with the series Line Describing a Cone (above) in 1973, where the metaphysical form of light slowly transforms in three-dimensional space, thus involving the fourth dimension of change.

Anthony McCall has, in this way, inspired some of my works. His works are metaphysical, interacting with the space to create almost solid object from, literally, thin air. This made me question “what was actual artwork, the projections of light, the intangible objects’ interaction with space, the audiences’ interaction with the projection or maybe even just the concept of questioning and think about this?” It went on to reveal to me the potential that each space has, regardless of history or future, whether it was filled or entirely empty, a space was a space, unchanging and ready to be defined according to the terms of the artist.

The places and stereotypes of where we exist in are only constrained by terms and conditions that we define, causing us to be slightly narrow-minded in terms of the environment’s potential. We then seek to create objects to exist within the space, without fully considering that the space itself affects how one can perceive what final product you displayed. Ultimately, this might result in people not asking the questions we desire our art to stimulate, but rather create confusion between viewer and concept. Therefore, from the lighting to physical positioning of a work, the space must be considered not just as a exhibition area, but also a medium in itself.

As some might have seen, my work which was displayed at iLight Marina Bay Singapore, Tabula Rasa, 2012sought to play with space. Reminded by the quote that now echoes through my mind, “respect the space”, I created a work that was crucial in changing my conceptual thinking. In the process of developing this work, I considered all the various elements of space, from the walls to the lighting in our surrounding and using the intangible elements, I sought to pay tribute to what was not physically there but still significantly affected our perception of objects – light. In doing so, I created a work that was a pivotal transitioning point, widening my horizons beyond the doors that were before it. Without it, and the inspiration of Science and Anthony McCall’s works, I do not think that I would have been successful in creating the body of works that gave me overall success in not only my examinations, but maturity as a developing artist.

Anthony McCall’s Site

References:

John Cage

Michael Wesley

Guardian Newspaper UK

Grasping The Intangible, Manipulating The Metaphysical (Cont’d)

Since you have already read my short little “monologue”, I want to give you an initial glimpse into my works in yet another verbal expose. This short segment comes from my Artist/Candidate Statement during my IBDP years and was submitted as a part of my examination requirement together with my Visual Arts portfolio. This statement is an attempt to summarize all my thought processes and conceptual thinking into a compacted summary. So here it is…

My investigation draws inspiration from architectural elements – not the physical, but rather the negative spaces created after a structure has been erected, spaces within the frames in which we exist. Initially, I had difficulty condensing this ambiguous theme into something that reflected my experience and area of interest. It called for much thought and experimentation, including exploring basic visual elements that could express my concern with space, and approaches such as to-scale maquettes and observing people’s reactions to space.

In this exploration, I looked at space not so much as a place for exhibition, but as a material in itself – something that could be manipulated and controlled. I sought to create works that would not only exist as objects, but also respond to a variety of environments. Through my works, I aim to bring to awareness how I approach and experience a space, as well as the potential I see for it. While examining linear elements and the lighting that architects and artists use to define certain spaces, I created responses in the form of doors, site-specific lighting works and “line” works. I believe that these lines and lighting techniques are objects that define space in a subtle manner, but are often overlooked and misunderstood.

Artists like Peter Callesen and Anthony Mccall have spurred me on to work with different media such as paper and light, and to approach them through various less conventional techniques that draw attention to elements of space.

As my works are impacted by the surroundings in which they exist, in the process as they are altered, re-made or take on different forms, the material carries with it a sense of “history”, of continuity. These works represent part of an on-going investigation that grapples with the intangible. The process of working with space knows no limit.

Now most may wonder why post this block of words talking about a concept of space but to not actually demonstrating the use of space through installations and sculptures? The answer is simple – a book started this investigation. The book’s title, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman is a bestselling author of fantasy novels, elucindating intricate details in deeps mysterious novels. Neverwhere portrays the journey of a girl, Door, who can open any door to any place she desired. This got me thinking about transitional spaces, questioning “what makes a door what it it?”, “does a door truly matter to the space?” and “what defines a door and its existence?”

For those who have not read Neverwhere, I strongly encourage you to do so. Afterward, share with my your insights and thoughts regarding the characters in relation to my concept of transitional space. In my opinion, it was the best and most unforgettable of Neil Gaiman’s collection of novels.

Grasping the Intangible, Manipulating the Metaphysical

At last!!! I can present to you my body of works that I conceived during my International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP). This program requires students who take art to create and exhibit a body of work, and their processes, that revolves around a theme of their choice. The medium and specialization is unspecified and students are then graded not by their specialization, but purely as art “majors” by artist-examiners from other IBDP schools.

However, in SOTA, things ran slightly differently and it was to my benefit that they did. Given the choice of actually choosing a specialization, I chose sculpture and this gave me a wide exposure to a variety of mediums and techniques within the specialization. As, most might see, I am not a classical sculptor, dabbling in stone or wood carvings. Being more of a contemporary sculptor, I put concepts before my works in the hope that the concepts will speak through my pieces to audiences. All this is done with the aim of challenging stereotypes, norms and other conceptions that people may have. Now some may wonder, “How can a person with little or no classical training come up with something that can truly be called art, or abstract art for that matter?” That, I will let you as audiences decide for yourselves. For me, it has always been about my processes and my journey of self discovery and creation. Through that, I hope people will see my works as substantial pieces that speak for themselves in more ways than one.

To start it all of, I will introduce to you the concept and theme – Space. As you may have read from my posts, space, to me, is more than just a place for displays or somewhere that we exist. It is a medium, intangible and vast.  My two-year investigation drew upon the negative spaces of the more commonly thought of architectural elements of positive space. Perceiving space as a material rather than just an environment opened up my eyes to the potential of this medium. Inspired by artists such as Peter Callesen, Olafur Eliason and Anthony McCall, I sought to create a reciprocative relationship between audience and the environment, one that is continuous, and appeals to not just one audience, but many regardless of upbringing, race, religion,etc.

This body of works that I am about to present to you over the next few posts will bring you through my processes and tell you a story like you have never heard before. And do not forget that all this is an ongoing process to dabble with the profoundness of space. I wish that as you read and view my posts, you contemplate about the spaces that you exist in, even as you read this post, and see if you can think out of its confines to see it as a place of contentment and satisfaction. If you do not, I challenge you to change it, to create it as it were, and make it into your own.

The Art Update: Erica Heng

So I’m back again (and trying to keep it a consistent weekly thing) with some extraordinarily exciting news for you!!! My ex-classmate from School Of The Arts, Singapore is carrying on her art practice in London!!! Now making it big out there on rawartist.org!!!

She was with SOTA during the initial years of the school as the school was just starting out and creating amazing art. However, after a few years, due to her parents’  career relocation, she had to leave for Manila, Philippines. But that has not stopped her from her art making and an awesome art making practice at that. She has come a long way and now, I am extremely glad to exhibit just a few of many works on my WordPress.

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She describes herself very much as a comic fan, taking inspiration from comics like Marvel’s X-men and Kickass among many others. Many of her drawings depict Marvel characters or people who have represented then in real life blockbuster movies, such as Robert Downey Jr., reknowned for his portrayal of Iron Man and X-men’s Mystique. As you can see, many of her works are extremely detailed, giving a lot of definition to each piece with each mark she makes (even though literal marks cannot actually be seen). For instance, the portrait of Robert Downey Jr, though simple, drawn with a few strokes, illustrates the subject matter beautifully and “succinctly” Each drawing carries with it much passion that speaks through the intimate blending of colours and the intricate textures created with the simple ballpoint pen, with great attention to detail. Most of her portraits are seen with a blank canvas behind, drawing focus to the subject matter that seeks to captivate audiences, in the hope of drawing them inward to the skill and detail. Now, sketches they may be, but for an “artist” such as I, a sketch can sometimes be greater than just a scribble or, well, a sketch. It can be a pivotal point of an artist’s process and deserves all the recognition it can get.

Other than these beautiful realistic drawings, she also has a passion for crafting jewellery, which she will be displaying at her exhibition in London, England . Also, you can purchase her works as prints on Society6 and Etsy (details and links below). So do support her in all her endeavours, an artist truly worth watching!!!

Here’s the awesomeness coming your way:
On rawartist.org

On Facebook

On Society6

On Etsy

ALSO,

Upcoming exhibition in London, 13 November 2014, so do drop by and support her!!! Details below:

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Designer Recycler

As promised, a sneak peek into what I am currently experimenting with:

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What you see are two paper bags, one inside the other, cut with random geometric designs and layered. These two bags are from two different supermarkets – Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, given to me by my girlfriend during her current tertiary education in the USA.

This was inspired by two service trips to Cambodia where I saw handicrafts such as wallets, handbags, etc. that were made by street youths and adults to supply them with a source of income. Now what sets these handicrafts apart from others is their innovative and creative use of materials. They are in actual fact made of recycled materials, including soda cans and newspapers, among others. What astounded me was that these materials, uninteresting and “useless” as they would usually seem, were made into really durable, waterproof items that were functional. So, after I was presented with the numerous paper bags, it brought to mind all the handicrafts I saw in Cambodia and made me ask myself if I could do something similar; something that had functionality as well as artistic design. So that is what you see before you in the picture above.

At this moment, the paper bag is reinforced around the rim and interior. As I mentioned earlier, it is one bag inside another, making it stiffer and, therefore, stronger. Hopefully, in the near future I will be able to make it more functional and longer lasting so that it can be used for a wider range of purposes. Currently, 99 percent of the materials are totally recycled and recyclable, and I hope to keep it that way till the end.

Right now, I need to find ways to stiffen the paper even more without compromising the idea of recycling so that it’ll be more durable. Also, I am thinking of more ways to make them more functional so that people can use it on a day-to-day basis.

If any of you guys have any input, it would be greatly appreciated :))) I hope you stay tuned for updates and hopefully, just hopefully, I’ll be able to unveil my body of works. SOON…

My inspiration:
Friends International – Mith Samlanh
Peter Callesen