New directions opening up I could almost call myself an art historian maybe…(trainee level:-)
New directions opening up I could almost call myself an art historian maybe…(trainee level:-)
Things have moved on considerably in the last few weeks.
I was interviewed for a Horizon CHI (Computer Human Interaction) PhD at Nottingham University two weeks ago. I did well to be shortlisted against stiff and much younger competition (average age 25). From the get go though it obvious that my interests were not aligned with CHI and secondly that I would not be able to work with their new corporate partners. I pitched my application to their older local community arts led model. No point crying over spilt milk….marked the end of my involvement in any kind of contemporary web/internet/computer relatedresearch.
What it did do was focus me on to what I do have an interest in and this Book proposal and possible PhD more firmly located within the Arts and Humanities area.
Here is a very rough outline of what the book may cover.
All dates and ideas provisional in the extreme :
An original provisional title from 2010
TRACKING TIME; ART, TECHNOLOGY AND UTOPIA IN ENGLAND 1850-1950?
Proposed chapters .
Intro: Chalk Detonators to Concorde – The coming of the railway to the end of the line?
1. Dickens and Seymour. Railways and Illustration
2. Mr Fox Talbot and Mrs Dann: Reading’s First Female Professional Photographer and the Inventor of the calotype process.
3. Alexander Mann and the sequential image.
4. Fairground Kinemas and William Frith – Mapping Oxford a psychogeographical derive
5. Industrial film the art of industry in the Thames Valley – Rural Unions and the Co-Operative movement to Cowley Motors .
6. Rural Idyll: The Oxfordshire Railway Villages and Art Movements Blewbury, Long Wittenham and the Cotswolds.
7. Rural Presses and reactions to Modernism and Technology: Kelmscott, Cockerel Press and Communism.
8. Shooting Europe: The Spitfire Reconnaissance mapping of Germany from Beconsfield Aerodrome.
9. Atoms and Stars: The disintegrating world seen from Harwell and the DNA shuffle.11. Building the 60s Oxford and Abingdon – The Mini and The MG. The patriarchical machine.
Coda . Satellite of Love: Space -race to Boom-bust and the end of empire. Trickle down and the rise of the web..Bletchley Park to Cheltenham. News from Nowhere to News from Everywhere.
I also have a facebook page which may come in useful for future crowdfunding if I need to go down that road..or track:-)
Back to where I started..literally…..first thought best thought?
I no longer consider myself to be exclusively in the fine art ‘drawing research’ area.
I am now seeking full or part-funding or a receptive institution to help develop this project.
And here my first mention of ANAMNESIA in 2010:
I sent a submission to a Film Philosophy conference in Amsterdam and have been accepted so have three months to write paper detailed below. This will pull together all the research done as first year of M.A. which was put on hold whilst rejigged M.A. to be fine art and cartoon based (this blog). The previous research is specifically archived here http://www.shaunbelcher.com/rpt and merges into ongoing fine art’Projects’ here http://www.shaunbelcher.com/fineart/
The proposal which has been accepted is as follows:
BEYOND FILM PROPOSAL
Alexander Mann’s ‘Gnats’: Early film and photography in rural England as traced through an artist’s sequential narrative and sketchbooks.
Alexander Mann (1853-1908) landscape and genre painter was an early adopter, seek post impressionism, viagra of photography and his sequential narrative in etchings ‘Gnats and other hindrances to the landscape artist’ of 1884 reveals not only an awareness of photography but hints at a wider filmic narrative.
It is the purpose of this paper to explore this folio work of Alexander Mann alongside his sketchbooks and relate this to the wider discourse around early cinematic and photographic technology, troche artistic modernism, artistic communities and the railway. This will draw on Benjamin, Kirby, Solnit and Schivelbusch in attempting to uncover information from a neglected area of art history i.e. Artistic Modernism in the Thames Valley (England) and the spread of ‘new’ imaging technology from 1850-1914 through artists to the local community.
The paper will attempt to reveal a correlation between ‘experimentation’ with ‘new’ technology in post-impressionism in the English provinces with present day advances in pervasive mobile and digital imaging and its equivalent widening of participation in the processes of image creation.
MFS Modern Fiction Studies
Volume 55, Number 1, Spring 2009
E-ISSN: 1080-658X Print ISSN: 0026-7724
Regional Modernism and Transnational Regionalism
In lieu of an abstract, here is a preview of the article.
“Europe,” crowed Iowa-based painter Grant Wood in a lesserknown modernist manifesto, “has lost much of its magic. Gertrude Stein comes to us from Paris and is only a seven days’ wonder. Ezra Pound’s new volume seems all compound of echoes from a lost world. The expatriates do not fit in with the newer America, so greatly changed from the old” (19). Wood—he of American Gothic fame—titled his snippy comments Revolt against the City, and in this 1935 essay argued for a quiet revolution that would stymie metropolitan-based modernisms: “But if it is not vocal—at least in the sense of issuing pronunciamentos, challenges, and new credos—the revolt is certainly very active. In literature, though by no means new, the exploitation of the ‘provinces’ has increased remarkably; the South, the Middle West, the Southwest have at the moment hosts of interpreters whose Pulitzer-prize works and best sellers direct attention to their chosen regions” (8). “Because of this new emphasis upon native materials,” Wood went on to explain, “the artist no longer finds it necessary to migrate even to New York, or to seek any great metropolis. No longer is it necessary for him to suffer the confusing cosmopolitanism, the noise, the too intimate gregariousness of the large city” (22–23).
I do not want to dismiss Wood’s anti-urbanism, his insufferable claims against cosmopolitanism, his social and most likely racial conservatism, and his emphatically American exceptionalism. But I do want to highlight that in the midst of these questionable politics lays an inchoate theory for a “regional modernism” decades before the phrase achieved wide currency in academic circles. The term “regional modernism” first originated in architecture studies, where it came— and where it continues—to characterize building design that opposed the
Paper submissions of 20 minutes are invited for this one-day postgraduate conference hosted by the Centre for Regional Literature and Culture at the University of Nottingham on 14 April 2011. The event will be followed by a one-day symposium of invited speakers, including Prof. Patrick McGuinness (University of Oxford), Prof. Andrew Thacker (De Montfort University), and Dr Nadine Holdsworth (University of Warwick).
Recent critical work on regionalism in literature has sought to reassess both its scope and its continuing importance over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. For instance, Scott Herring has recently emphasised ‘the importance of locality to modernism’s world-imaginary’, echoing Raymond Williams’s call for the equation between modernism and the metropolitan to be reassessed.
This collocation of locality and modernity can be seen in the fictions of, among others, D.H. Lawrence, Storm Jameson, George Moore, Caradoc Evans, Sylvia Townsend Warner, and Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Even James Joyce’s Ulysses derives its cosmological universalism from a microscopic attention to the local details of its provincial urban setting. In the post-war period, the currency of regional themes in British fiction is apparent in novels by writers like Alan Sillitoe, Muriel Spark, Raymond Williams, Graham Swift, Pat Barker, and Jim Crace.
A similar richness of interests in ideas of place and intra-national identities can be found in the late modernist poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid, David Jones, and Basil Bunting, and Patrick Kavanagh’s advocacy of the ‘poetry of the parish’ has also had a wide and lasting influence. Regional themes, settings, and dialects strongly colour the work of Ted Hughes, R.S. Thomas, George Mackay Brown, Paul Muldoon, Gillian Clarke, and Roy Fisher, amongst many others. In the work of a younger generation of poets and novelists there is a striking convergence between local experience and the pressure of international contexts and relations.
British and Irish drama saw a resurgence of local pride at the start of the twentieth century. From 1904, the acting and play-writing energies of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre were emulated by a number of other regional repertory theatres in Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Belfast. And in recent years, companies including Theatre Workshop, Druid, Kneehigh, and Field Day have attempted to stage work that speaks to audiences away from the usual centres of theatrical power and influence.
It will be the purpose of this symposium to explore the variety and diversity of expressions given to regionalism in British and Irish literature and culture during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a particular emphasis upon modernism and its after-effects. Contributors are also encouraged to consider the intersections and conversations that occur between regionalism, nationalism, internationalism, and cosmopolitanism.
Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
Prof. Luke Gibbons (NUI Maynooth)
Prof. Dominic Head (University of Nottingham)
We would therefore welcome papers on a wide variety of themes and topics, such as:
• The locations of modernism
• Regional literary geographies
• Regionalism, form, and language
• Archipelagic relations and the cultures of the ‘Four Nations’
• Gender and regional identity
• Writing, reading, and the poetics of place
• Regionalism and globalisation
• The politics of regional cultures
• Critical genealogies of ‘regionalism’
• Mapping and cultural cartographies
• The phenomenology of the ‘local’
• ‘Parochialism’ and ‘provincialism’ in contemporary writing
Please submit an abstract of 300 words to email@example.com by 28th January 2011, ensuring that you include the following details: your name; your affiliation; your email address; the title of your paper.
We are also able to offer one bursary of £100 towards the costs of fees, travel, and accommodation for the conference. If you wish to apply for this bursary, please also submit a statement of 500 words explaining how your current research engages with the themes of the conference. This should also arrive no later than 28th January 2011.
The conference fee will be £50 for both days. Please note that this does not include accommodation.
* Stylistics across disciplines
* Bridging the Gaps, Minding the Context
* Spaces of Alterity: Conceptualising Counter-Hegemonic Sites, Practices and Narratives
* Language, Literature and Cultural Policies – Centres and (Ex-) Centricities
Review: James B. Thompson’s ‘painting’ as a verb at Hallie Ford Museum in Salem
Frank Miller, capsule Willamette University
James B. Thompson, treat “Swale,” 2008, acrylic on canvas.
As painters immersed in the 20th century’s abstract revolution stopped painting things that looked like things, several interesting things happened.
First, art — or this type of art — relinquished its sense of place. Even if the artist was thinking about a mountain or a street corner or a pillow on a bed, there was no mountain or corner or pillow to be seen. Impressionists fuzzed up the landscape. Cubists diced it and reassembled it in funny ways. Abstract artists packed it in a steamer trunk and sent it off on a one-way voyage to Yesterdayland.
Second, space became intellectual, not actual. Painting had always been an illusionary act – how can we fool the eye into seeing what we want it to see? — but now the illusion was that spatial relationships as we ordinarily think of them didn’t exist. Artists such as Mondrian and Klee were consumed with the idea of how space works – they could be downright mathematical about it – but they produced a geometry, not a landscape, and it was a geometry of the mind. (As a side benefit, abstraction also strengthened realist painting, because for the first time serious painters had to ask themselves why they were painting realistically, and then either come up with a good answer or start doing something else.)
Third, painting became accidental. Yes, Jackson Pollock had ideas in mind, and no, not every one of his drip paintings worked the way he wanted it to. But the chance of the throw became a central aspect of the process. It was the I Ching-ing of the art.
As abstraction became less a revolutionary act and more a way of approaching art – in other words, as it matured it also opened up. It could be about all sorts of things, including landscape or whatever else was in the artist’s mind, whether anyone looking at the finished product realized it or not. And that’s an interesting question: If viewers don’t know there’s a level of thought below the surface of the paint, how can they tell what they’re seeing?
The paintings and prints in “The Vanishing Landscape,” James B. Thompson’s exhibition that continues through May 17 at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem, raise precisely that issue. They’re ravishing things, especially the paintings — the sort of work that people like to call eye candy, although that’s a curiously dismissive way to think about art: What’s wrong with pleasing the eye, especially if you’re also doing other things at the same time? And Thompson’s art does a lot of other things, even if you’re only thinking about its surfaces. It’s a considered and sophisticated grappling with matters of space, color and mark-making — the difference, you might almost say, between a mar and a mark.
Underneath those lovely surfaces, marring is very much on Thompson’s mind. A native Chicagoan, Thompson has been on the art faculty at Willamette University in Salem since 1986, and he’s come to think of himself very much as a Westerner. What he sees, as he puts it in his artist statement for this show, is the transformation and disappearance of the region’s landscape “as planned developments, agribusiness and even golf resorts replace small town life, rural communities, family farms and forests.”
The tradition of landscape painting doesn’t deal adequately with the disappearance of land, he believes: Instead, it tends to depict idealized, unsullied evocations of what remains, so that we see a romanticized pastoral dream instead of the radically altered reality. A long tradition in photography has witnessed and recorded the sometimes brutal reshaping of the land, and representational painters such as Michael Brophy have tackled the issue of land use and abuse head-on.
But Thompson seems to want something at once deeper and more subtle — a philosophical undercurrent that transforms the act of artmaking into a reflection of the way we change the land. “The method of rendering abstract paintings and prints,” he writes, “is a celebration of the very act of change since this creative process involves the kind of continual mark-making that generates new sets of problems on the surface of each piece.”
In other words, you make marks – on the canvas or the land – and each mark is a risk. After all, the landscape of small towns and family farms that Thompson laments in passing was itself a reshaping of an earlier landscape far less decided by human intervention; one that might itself have been lamented as it faded before the ax and plow. So you think out each step, varying your mark-making according to some sort of loose plan, and you aim to come out with something beautiful. You don’t destroy the canvas. Chance, in the Pollock sense, is part of it. But instead of a big burst – a strip-mining of the image – it’s a considered improvisation, like good chamber jazz, each change partly determining what the next change will be.
How do Thompson’s paintings and prints emerge from this philosophical improvisation? Well, they’re gorgeous – and gorgeous in a way that invites repeated looking, because the more you look, the more you see. That’s a bit like looking, really looking, at the land.
The show’s 14 paintings, which range from about 2 feet square to 3 feet by 5 feet, are acrylic on canvas, and they’re richly layered, with a thick surface shine that makes them look almost like brightly fired ceramic tile. Yet they’re also nubbled, mottled like leather, with a suggestion of rises and hollows, or of something granular, like dirt. Their color is immediate, deep, voluble, seductive: oranges, reds, blues and greens that shout out their identities. Streaks, marks, splotches, running fences, finely scratched swirls like calligraphy, viewed in a certain frame of mind, seem topographical. It’s as if you’re seeing a landscape from an overflying airplane: lakes, rivers, roads, rises, habitations. The two dozen smaller intaglio prints are less deeply saturated in color but more significantly and lavishly marked, and at times they seem almost biological, in a microscopic way: They increase the illusion of some sort of exotic map-making.
Thompson suggests his underlying concerns through his titles: “Prairie,” “Wetland, “Aquifer,” “Range,” “Ridge,” “Karst” and the like. Yet the question remains: Does the viewer get any of these connections from looking at the art? You can easily view these prints and paintings and appreciate them as beautifully executed works that are simply about themselves. They’re abstracts – question marks. And their beauty raises another question: Are they, then, any less romanticized about the state of the land than the traditional landscapes Thompson finds so misleading?
Perhaps an answer lies in Thompson’s sense of movement, of making marks that lead to other marks in a dance of continuing small decisions. It’s a way of thinking about how we interact with the rest of the world, and it applies to intereactions far beyond canvas and paper. It’s “painting” as a verb, not as a noun. And it’s how we paint – how we make our marks – that makes the difference.
— Bob Hicks
Media ecology – Definition
Media ecology involves the study of information environments. According to the Media Ecology Association, media ecology can be defined as “the study of the complex set of relationships or interrelationships among symbols, media and culture.”
In 1977, Marshall McLuhan said that media ecology “means arranging various media to help each other so they won’t cancel each other out, to buttress one medium with another. You might say, for example, that radio is a bigger help to literacy than television, but television might be a very wonderful aid to teaching languages. And so you can do some things on some media that you cannot do on others. And, therefore, if you watch the whole field, you can prevent this waste that comes by one canceling the other out.” (Source: Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews, by Marshall McLuhan, edited by Stephanie McLuhan and David Staines, Foreword by Tom Wolfe. MIT Press, 2004)
In 1971, Neil Postman founded the Program in Media Ecology at the Steinhardt School of Education of New York University.
SOCIETY AND SOLITUDE:
CHAPTER VII. WORKS AND DAYS
Many facts concur to show that we must look deeper for our salvation than to steam, photo-graphs, balloons or astronomy.’ These tools have some questionable properties. They are reagents. Machinery is aggressive. The weaver becomes a web, the machinist a machine. If you do not use the tools, they use you. All tools are in one sense edge-tools, and dangerous. A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life: he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days.2 A man has a reputation, and is no longer free, but must respect that. A man makes a picture or a book, and, if it succeeds, ‘t is often the worse for him. I saw a brave man the other day, hitherto as free as the hawk or the fox of the wilderness, constructing his cabinet of drawers for shells, eggs, minerals and mounted birds.
It was easy to see that he was amusing himself with making pretty links for his own limbs.