CONNECT DIARY 2007-2012

These entries show my thinking from 1st November 2007 (Beginning of the Connect PGCERT) to December 2012 when I commenced on a revamped M.A. in drawing at NTU following the death of my mother in Summer 2012.

The previous and now abandoned M.A. in MULTIMEDIA developed into the art and design history PhD and Book ‘Tracking Time’.

http://www.shaunbelcher.com/rpt/

The CONNECT show was at LINCOLN COLLECTION gallery in APRIL/MAY 2008.

lincoln

Full archival description and photos here: http://www.shaunbelcher.com/artwork/?p=139 

 

 

Experimental photo-stories

Very provisional idea but links to the Suit of nettles sequencing..maybe a series related to written pieces or songs. As stand alone closer to spirit of ‘sudden fiction’..Carveresque?

Possible social interaction format?

Just an idea at early stage.

Interesting format when auto=posted out giving rise to idea about presentation of these images..as broken texts?

The death of painting: The last act

I have posted photographs below from my father’s shed and my mother’s garden (under the post ‘Garden Films’) both of which became neglected as their illness progressed. Indeed they are a tacit reminder of how much their illnesses imobilised them both. In the process of clearing my family home for future sale I also had to confront another loss.

The last time I had a viable painting space before gaining a new studio in 2011 in Nottingham (not counting a brief attempt to start again in 2005/6) was a garage at my parents last utilised in 1993. In it I left stored all my paintings from a ten year period in London (1979-89) and over the years at least half of the works had to be destroyed as eaten by mice (rolled canvases) and the rest on board stayed in garage. As the garage became dilapidated following my father’s death they too were affected.

Finally in August this year I broke up the remaining large hardboard oils (some 8 feet by 4 feet) as a final act of closure….maybe on painting too. Here a sequence of photos showing their storage and final end.

The white bycycle is my mother’s bike that I toured the downs on when completing a sequence of nearly 70 charcoal representational drawings on in 1991-2.


There is also a short 3GP phone video which is on Vimeo

Where I stopped: RP June 2012

This post was originally posted on June 12th 2012 and was the end of two years (one unsupervised and one of official leave of absence from my M.A. RP at Nottingham Trent.)

I am looking at a range of options to decide what I persue in my second year of RPT. At present I have reviewed all of the sources that I have found over the past two years. The illustration below shows the strongest categories in my original research blog in 2010 and 2011.

(Click to see larger version)

Looking at the spider diagram one can see how the original parameters changed as I went through the year. The above diagram does not include any references to non-multimedia i.e. Drawing related practice as at this point I was keeping this separate. I began with a fairly tight proposal focused narrowly upon using the then new tablets and possibly applications running on tablets which used a narrow geographical location as its subject matter. As I progressed through the year and investigated the area more deeply I found myself moving away from the original proposal. My original idea of using GPS within a hand held application was quickly undermined by a rapid development of several freely available apps which operated very similarly to my original concept. These included the Spanish paint map use of Google maps API and the Brothers and Sisters ‘Street Museum’ for the Museum of London.Since then the History Pin android app pretty much does what I was hoping to prototype. I also looked carefully at the category of Locative drawing. This seemed to me to be a fairly shallow theoretical area which had been explored thoroughly and had produced a range of outcomes from the banal to the quite good. At this point I seemed to be drawn most to Richard Coyne’s theory of ‘Tuning of Place’ and the ‘multimedia work of Martin Reiser.

Having a year break has reinforced the turn away from this original idea as both hardware and software developments have moved on a pace.

 

My first actions on location on the actual disused railway track involved photographing places along it. In the course of this I met a local photographer and historian who is very active in documenting this particular location. This led me to investigate the then new concept of context provision and to consider placing my practice within a social practice container. Once again I felt that this categorisation did not really reflect my aims. There are elements of my practice as a web practitioner which could be seen as context provision. However, advice for me, find this was not an area I wished to develop at this point.

Having decided that my research project should produce quantifiable research and physical artefacts as outcomes I reconsidered my position and turned to photography/film as a more solid theoretical base and area to explore. This was reinforced by the wider availability of DSLR HD cameras as well as the increasing potential of mobile phones to shoot video footage. Two photography mentors suggested that I focus on producing manageable outcomes in a variety of media. I also discussed with them the concept of deep mapping and especially the work of Cliff McLucas and Mike Pearson in regard to performance mixed with graphical elements and video. This for me, sale all linked directly to the work of Patrick Keiller especially in his recent ‘Robinson in Ruins’ film.

At this point (November 2011) I had taken several photos on location and voiceover films via mobile phone incorporating local history/natural observation/political commentary live as I was walking along the track. This correlates with a lot of contemporary theory and practice in terms of both Locative and dialogue related practice. Some of this practice appears to me to be weak if not founded on a thorough knowledge of the area being traversed. I bring to my practice knowledge gained over 25 years of researching and writing poetry informed by local history and natural observation. This enabled me to ad lib continuously over handheld film for 40 minutes. This was very experimental and obviously is not tightly scripted nor well edited material. Indeed the very amateurish and ad-hoc nature of the performance as recorded is a necessary part of the experimentation and the final output.

View on Vimeo here : http://vimeo.com/user2430018/videos

Following up suggestions from mentors I have been investigating the theories in respect to early rail travel and early cinema. Rebecca Solnit, Lynne Kirby and Wofgang Schivelbusch have been most useful in terms of examining the experience of place on this disused railway line. However I also from an art historical point of view found myself digressing in to a great deal of art historical research. Especially in regard to a little documented art colony known as the Blewbury artists and related material. This colony and other artists such as Alexander Mann had direct physical connection to the area of railway track I was working on and alongside. Subsequent research uncovered a rare set of etchings in a Folio edition by Alexander Mann called ‘Gnats and other hindrances to the landscape artist’. These etchings possibly show an early knowledge of photography and cinema. The publication was found in a house Alexander Mann had occupied in the village of East Hagbourne next to the disused track. Below a couple of illustrations from the folio I discovered. This suite of etchings has a performative and animated aspect. (see Appendix One)

I however cannot directly link this portfolio to this area. Others sketches by Alexander Mann do correlate with the location. These drawings appear to relate to a Scottish landscape particularly in their subject matter i.e. Gnats being actually Scottish midges! Mann is not the only artist who relates directly from the historical point of view to the track I was walking. I went into some depth in locating various individuals as they linked to my own practice in the early 1990s. I have found one Mann easel painting which appears to be the same view I drew some 90 years later.

Alexander Mann – The Road to Wittenham Clumps near oxford 1901 (Government Art Collection)

 

However as with previous research diversions this material takes me very far away from the original premise of the research project. At present I have put this particular research on hold until I can find a way of reintegrating with the notion of multimedia.

 

Returning to the idea of multimedia and leaving the historical aspect for while I re-examined the material shot on the Sony Xperia Mini mobile phone. This is low quality footage gathered by holding the phone in front of my face and speaking as walking. This enabled me to produce a voice-over in the manner of Patrick Keiller not with a far more personal focus. I have also experimented with this footage by stripping out the frames using free software and then moving through the sequence by hand and using screen capture software to produce a fake’ film’. The results I have posted to my vimeo website. My interest here relates to the Solnit and Schivelbusch concepts of film and railway time being linked. In my case I am slowing down the film manually to create ‘walking time’ as my viewpoint is that of the walker not of the railway carriage occupant. This can be seen to link to Darren Almonds contemporary work with film and trains. I also see it as linking to Philippe Parreno’s reconstruction of the funeral train journey of Robert Kennedy’s body only in my case I am deconstructing the view from the train completely and replacing it with a walk thus reversing the technological advance which aligns with the physical deconstruction of an arterial route. This particular line reveals a post imperial contraction as commerce and goods ceased to flow through the traditional ports such as Southampton. Thus this in a greater sense reveals the nature of Britain as a post imperial, service led rather than manufacturing economy. My political comments came about through voiceover as a natural addendum to the film. As I have stated this was not scripted or planned. In this regard that commentary links directly to my work in poetry.

This project has been directly influenced by a sense of loss. My father died in 2004 from cancer and my mother suffered from carcinoid cancer in the period 2005 to 2012 and died on the 8th June 2012. My focus on the track was done in the full knowledge that I would be visiting the area regularly and that this would be the last time I could focus on it fully. I intend through the summer of 2012 to complete a series of short films with no dialogue related to their loss. I also intend to create more artefacts out of my engagement with the track itself. Whether or not this will be shown or included as part of my final M.A. RPT multimedia summation depends upon the direction I choose from September 2012 onwards. This I will decide in due course. This document acts as a summing up of the various directions my research has taken over the past two years including the year of leave of absence. It is intended to clarify these tentative investigations both for myself and any potential supervisors.

Shaun Belcher June 2012

 

References:( to come)

 

Almond, Darren
Coyne, Richard
Keiller, Patrick
Kirby, Lynne
Lubbren, Nina
McLucas, Cliff
Mann, Alexander
Parreno, Phillippe
Pearson, Mike
Reiser, Martin
Schwivelbusch, Wolfgang
Solnit , Rebecca

 

Appendix One:
MANN, Alexander. GNATS AND OTHER HINDRANCES TO THE SUCCESSFUL ACCOMPLISHMENT OF LANDSCAPE PAINTING.
London: Fine Art Society, 1884. Oblong folio. A special publisher’s Presentation Binding in full pigskin. x pages, etched title page and 16 etched plates, each in two states, with a third state of 10 plates also present. Number 9 of 250 copies of the large-paper issue.
A nice association copy, owned by James Mann, the artist’s father, with his bookplate. The book also bears the bookplate of the flamboyant architect and historian, Roderick Gradidge. Alexander Mann was a Glasgow-born, Paris-trained artist. This suite of delicate comic etchings depict the trevails of the poor landscape painter who must deal with rain, insects, cumbersome easels and umbrellas. This copy is in a full pigskin binding by Maclehose of Glasgow, most probably designed by the artist. The copy contains two states of all etchings and a third state of ten of them. The first state of Plate VIII is on inferior paper and is slightly spotted, else a very good copy with very minor edge marks. OCLC lists two copies of what appears to be the regular edition with seventeen etchings only. Those are at Cambridge and the British Library. No copies are cited as being in American libraries and we could find none selling at auction during the past twenty-five years.
Source: http://www.bookpress.com/featured_402.html

 

 

Garden Films


August 2012: 5 am misty.
Still images from two longish films shot on Nikon D3100 at HD quality in my parent’s garden when clearing their house. The garden had become overgrown since my mother became seriously ill at Xmas 2011 and subsequently died in June 2012.

The third image is a green ‘blackboard’ still left in my father’s garage where I left it when I used it as a painting studio in early 1990’s.

I also have camcorder footage and photographs of my father’s shed the day my mother finally opened it up over five years after he died in 2004.

Both died of cancer.

I am unsure of these documents status. They mean a lot to me obviously but would their meaning out of context have meaning to others?

 

Drawn on film? Painting as maps?

Experiment that lead me to look at…

Two totally unrelated but interesting uses of mapping and text.

Firstly AYREEN ANASTAS & RENE GABRI

Their combined sketchbooks/mindmaps offer a tantalising glimpse of what ‘graphic research’ paintings might look like.

http://www.tanyaleighton.com/index.php?pageId=189&l=en

This led me to thinking on my interest in Simon Lewtys ‘painted maps’ too. These had a big influence on me when i saw his exhibition at nottingham castle many years back.